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THE CITY OF MANILA, represented by MAYOR JOSE L.

Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration 4 but the RTC


ATIENZA, JR.,and MS. LIBERTY M. TOLEDO, in her capacity as denied it in its Order 5 dated October 15, 2004.
the City Treasurer of Manila,petitioners, vs.HON. CARIDAD
Petitioners then filed a special civil action for certiorari with
H. GRECIA-CUERDO, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the
the CA assailing the July 9, 2004 and October 15, 2004
Regional Trial Court, Branch 112, Pasay City; SM MART,
Orders of the RTC.
INC.;SM PRIME HOLDINGS, INC.;STAR APPLIANCES CENTER;
SUPERVALUE, INC.;ACE HARDWARE PHILIPPINES, In its Resolution promulgated on April 6, 2006, the CA
INC.;WATSON PERSONAL CARE STORES, dismissed petitioners' petition for certiorari holding that it has
PHILS.,INC.;JOLLIMART PHILS.,CORP.;SURPLUS MARKETING no jurisdiction over the said petition. The CA ruled that since
CORPORATION and SIGNATURE LINES, respondents. appellate jurisdiction over private respondents' complaint for
PERALTA, J tax refund, which was filed with the RTC, is vested in the
Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), pursuant to its expanded
Before the Court is a special civil action for certiorari under
jurisdiction under Republic Act No. 9282 (RA 9282), it follows
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeking to reverse and set aside
that a petition for certiorari seeking nullification of an
the Resolutions 1 dated April 6, 2006 and November 29,
interlocutory order issued in the said case should, likewise, be
2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 87948.
filed with the CTA.
The antecedents of the case, as summarized by the CA, are as
Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, 7 but the CA
follows: The record shows that petitioner City of Manila,
denied it in its Resolution dated November 29, 2006.
through its treasurer, petitioner Liberty Toledo, assessed taxes
for the taxable period from January to December 2002 against Hence, the present petition raising the following issues:
private. respondents SM Mart, Inc.,SM Prime Holdings,
Inc.,Star Appliances Center, Supervalue, Inc.,Ace Hardware I-Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely erred
Philippines, Inc.,Watsons Personal Care Stores in dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction.
Phils.,Inc.,Jollimart Philippines Corp.,Surplus Marketing Corp.
II-Whether or not the Honorable Regional Trial Court gravely
and Signature Lines. In addition to the taxes purportedly due
abuse[d] its discretion amounting to lack or
from private respondents pursuant to Sections 14, 15, 16,
excess of jurisdiction in enjoining by issuing a
17 of the Revised Revenue Code of Manila (RRCM), said
Writ of Injunction the petitioners[,] their agents and/or
assessment covered the local business taxes petitioners were
authorized representatives from implementing Section
authorized to collect under Section 21 of the same Code.
21 of the Revised Revenue Code of Manila, as amended,
Because payment of the taxes assessed was a precondition for
against private respondents.
the issuance of their business permits, private respondents
were constrained to pay the P19,316,458.77 assessment under III-Whether or not the Honorable Regional Trial Court gravely
protest. abuse[d] its discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction in issuing the Writ of Injunction despite
On January 24, 2004, private respondents filed [with the
failure of private respondents to make a written claim for tax
Regional Trial Court of Pasay City] the complaint denominated
credit or refund with the City Treasurer of Manila.
as one for "Refund or Recovery ofIllegally and/or Erroneously-
Collected Local Business Tax, Prohibition with Prayer to Issue IV-Whether or not the Honorable Regional Trial Court gravely
TRO and Writ of Preliminary Injunction" which was docketed abuse[d] its discretion amounting to lack or
as Civil Case No. 04-0019-CFM before public respondent's sala excess of jurisdiction considering that under Section
[at Branch 112].In the amended complaint they filed on 21 of the Manila Revenue Code, as amended, they are mere
February 16, 2004, private respondents alleged that, in collecting agents of the City Government.
relation to Section 21 thereof, Sections 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
and 20 of the RRCM were violative of the limitations and V-Whether or not the Honorable Regional Trial Court gravely
guidelines under Section 143 (h) of Republic Act No. 7160 abuse[d] its discretion amounting to lack or
[Local Government Code] on double taxation. They further excess of jurisdiction in issuing the Writ of Injunction because
averred that petitioner city's Ordinance No. 8011 which petitioner City of Manila and its constituents would result to
amended pertinent portions of the RRCMhad already been greater damage and prejudice thereof. (sic) 8
declared to be illegal and unconstitutional by the Without first resolving the above issues, this Court finds that
Department of Justice. 2 the instant petition should be denied for being moot and
In its Order 3 dated July 9, 2004, the RTC granted private academic.
respondents' application for a writ of preliminary injunction.
1
Upon perusal of the original records of the instant case, this In view of the foregoing, it clearly appears that the issues
Court discovered that a Decision 9 in the main case had raised in the present petition, which merely involve the
already been rendered by the RTC on August 13, 2007, the incident on the preliminary injunction issued by the RTC, have
dispositive portion of which reads as follows: already become moot and academic considering that the trial
court, in its decision on the merits in the main case, has already
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Court hereby
ruled in favor ofrespondents and that the same decision is now
renders JUDGMENT in favor of the plaintiff and against the
final and executory. Well entrenched is the rule that where the
defendant to grant a tax refund or credit for taxes paid
issues have become moot and academic, there is no justiciable
pursuant to Section 21 of the Revenue
controversy, thereby rendering the resolution of the
Code of the City of Manila as amended for the year 2002 in the
same of no practical use or value. 13
following amounts: TCSEcI
In any case, the Court finds it necessary to resolve the issue on
To plaintiff SM Mart, Inc. - P11,462,525.02
jurisdiction raised by petitioners owing to its significance and
for future guidance of both bench and bar. It is a settled
principle that courts will decide a question otherwise moot and
To plaintiff SM Prime Holdings, Inc. - 3,118,104.63 academic if it is capable of repetition, yet evading review. 14

However, before proceeding, to resolve the question on


jurisdiction, the Court deems it proper to likewise address a
To plaintiff Star Appliances Center - 2,152,316.54
procedural error which petitioners committed. STIcaE

Petitioners availed of the wrong remedy when they filed the


To plaintiff Supervalue, Inc. - 1,362,750.34 instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court in assailing the Resolutions of the CA which
dismissed their petition filed with the said court and their
To plaintiff Ace Hardware Phils.,Inc. - 419,689.04 motion for reconsideration of such dismissal. There is no
dispute that the assailed Resolutions of the CA are in the
nature of a final order as they disposed of the petition
completely. It is settled that in cases where an assailed
To plaintiff Watsons Personal Care - 231,453.62
judgment or order is considered final, the remedy of the
Health Stores Phils.,Inc. aggrieved party is appeal. Hence, in the instant case, petitioner
should have filed a petition for review on certiorari under Rule
45, which is a continuation of the appellate process over the
To plaintiff Jollimart Phils.,Corp. - 140,908.54 original case. 15

Petitioners should be reminded of the equally-settled rule that


a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 is an original
To plaintiff Surplus Marketing Corp. - 220,204.70 or independent action based on grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction and it will lie only if
there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy, and adequate
To plaintiff Signature Mktg. Corp. - 94,906.34 remedy in the ordinary course of law. 16 As such, it cannot be
a substitute for a lost appeal. 17 DaCEIc
——————
Nonetheless, in accordance with the liberal spirit pervading
TOTAL: - P19,316,458.77 the Rules of Court and in the interest of substantial justice, this
=========== Court has, before, treated a petition for certiorari as a petition
for review on certiorari, particularly (1) if the petition
Defendants are further enjoined from collecting taxes under for certiorari was filed within the reglementary period within
Section 21, Revenue Code of Manila from herein plaintiff: which to file a petition for review on certiorari; (2) when
errors of judgment are averred; and (3) when there is
The parties did not inform the Court but based on the records,
sufficient reason to justify the relaxation of the
the above Decision had already become final and executory
rules. 18 Considering that the present petition was filed within
per the Certificate of Finality 11 issued by the same trial court
the 15-day reglementary period for filing a petition for review
on October 20, 2008. In fact, a Writ of Execution 12 was issued
on certiorari under Rule 45, that an error of judgment is
by the RTC on November 25, 2009.
2
averred, and because of the significance of the issue on other matters arising under the National Internal Revenue
jurisdiction, the Court deems it proper and justified to relax the Code or other laws administered by the Bureau of Internal
rules and, thus, treat the instant petition for certiorari as a Revenue, where the National Internal Revenue Code provides
petition for review on certiorari. a specific period of action, in which case the inaction shall be
deemed a denial;
Having disposed of the procedural aspect, we now turn to the
central issue in this case. The basic question posed before this 3. Decisions, orders or resolutions of the Regional Trial Courts
Court is whether or not the CTA has jurisdiction over a special in local tax cases originally decided or resolved by them in the
civil action for certiorari assailing an interlocutory order issued exercise oftheir original or appellate jurisdiction;
by the RTC in a local tax case.
4. Decisions of the Commissioner of Customs in cases
This Court rules in the affirmative. involving liability for customs duties, fees or other money
charges, seizure, detention or release of property affected,
On June 16, 1954, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 1125 (RA
fines, forfeitures or other penalties in relation thereto, or other
1125) creating the CTA and giving to the said court jurisdiction
matters arising under the Customs Law or other laws
over the following:
administered by the Bureau of Customs; CTDAaE
(1) Decisions of the Collector of Internal Revenue in cases
5. Decisions of the Central Board of Assessment Appeals in
involving disputed assessments, refunds of internal revenue
the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction over cases involving
taxes, fees or other charges, penalties imposed in relation
the assessment and taxationof real property originally decided
thereto, or other matters arising under the National Internal
by the provincial or city board of assessment appeals;
Revenue Code or other law or part of law administered by the
Bureau of Internal Revenue; 6. Decisions of the Secretary of Finance on customs cases
elevated to him automatically for review from decisions of the
(2) Decisions of the Commissioner of Customs in cases
Commissioner of Customs which are adverse to the
involving liability for customs duties, fees or other money
Government under Section 2315 of the Tariff and Customs
charges; seizure, detention or release ofproperty affected
Code;
fines, forfeitures or other penalties imposed in relation
thereto; or other matters arising under the Customs Law or 7. Decisions of the Secretary of Trade and Industry, in the
other law or part of law administered by the case of nonagricultural product, commodity or article, and the
Bureau of Customs; and Secretary of Agriculture in the case of agricultural product,
commodity or article, involving dumping and countervailing
(3) Decisions of provincial or City Boards of Assessment
duties under Sections 301 and 302, respectively, ofthe Tariff
Appeals in cases involving the assessment and taxation of real
and Customs Code, and safeguard measures under Republic
property or other matters arising under the Assessment Law,
Act No. 8800, where either party may appeal the decision to
including rules and regulations relative thereto.
impose or not to impose said duties.
On March 30, 2004, the Legislature passed into law Republic
b. Jurisdiction over cases involving criminal offenses as herein
Act No. 9282 (RA 9282) amending RA 1125 by expanding the
provided:
jurisdiction of the CTA, enlarging its membership and elevating
its rank to the level of a collegiate court with special 1. Exclusive original jurisdiction over all criminal offenses
jurisdiction. Pertinent portions of the amendatory act provides arising from violations of the National Internal Revenue Code
thus: or Tariff and Customs Code and other laws administered by the
Bureau of Internal Revenue or the Bureau of Customs:
Sec. 7. Jurisdiction. — The CTA shall exercise: a. Exclusive
Provided, however, That offenses or felonies mentioned in this
appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal, as herein provided:
paragraph where the principal amount of taxes and fees,
1. Decisions of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in cases exclusive of charges and penalties, claimed is less than One
involving disputed assessments, refunds of internal revenue million pesos (P1,000,000.00) or where there is no specified
taxes, fees or other charges, penalties in relation thereto, or amount claimed shall be tried by the regular Courts and the
other matters arising under the National Internal Revenue or jurisdiction of the CTA shall be appellate. Any provision of law
other laws administered by the Bureau ofInternal Revenue; or the Rules of Court to the contrary notwithstanding, the
criminal action and the corresponding civil action for the
2. Inaction by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in cases recovery of civil liability for taxes and penalties shall at all
involving disputed assessments, refunds of internal revenue times be simultaneously instituted with, and jointly
taxes, fees or other charges, penalties in relations thereto, or determined in the same proceeding by the CTA, the
3
filing of the criminal action being deemed to necessarily carry cases of Pimentel v. COMELEC, 21 Garcia v. De
with it the filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve the Jesus, 22Veloria v. COMELEC, 23 Department of Agrarian
filing ofsuch civil action separately from the criminal action will Reform Adjudication Board v. Lubrica, 24 and Garcia v.
be recognized. Sandiganbayan, 25 this Court has ruled against the
jurisdiction ofcourts or tribunals over petitions
2. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in criminal offenses: a. Over
for certiorari on the ground that there is no law which
appeals from the judgments, resolutions or orders of the
expressly gives these tribunals such power. 26 It must be
Regional Trial Courts in tax cases originally decided by them, in
observed, however, that with the exception of Garcia v.
their respected territorial jurisdiction.
Sandiganbayan, 27 these rulings pertain not to regular courts
b. Over petitions for review of the judgments, resolutions or but to tribunals exercising quasi-judicial powers. With respect
orders of the Regional Trial Courts in the exercise of their to the Sandiganbayan, Republic Act No. 8249 28 now provides
appellate jurisdiction over tax cases originally decided by the that the special criminal court has exclusive original jurisdiction
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and over petitions for the
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in their respective jurisdiction. issuance of the writs ofmandamus, prohibition, certiorari,
habeas corpus, injunctions, and other ancillary writs and
c. Jurisdiction over tax collection cases as herein provided: processes in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. TAacIE
1. Exclusive original jurisdiction in tax collection cases In the same manner, Section 5 (1), Article VIII of the 1987
involving final and executory assessments for taxes, fees, Constitution grants power to the Supreme Court, in the
charges and penalties: Provides, however, that collection cases exercise of its original jurisdiction, to issue
where the principal amount of taxes and fees, writsof certiorari, prohibition and mandamus. With respect to
exclusive of charges and penalties, claimed is less than One the Court of Appeals, Section 9 (1) of Batas Pambansa Blg.
million pesos (P1,000,000.00) shall be tried by the proper 129 (BP 129) gives the appellate court, also in the
Municipal Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court and Regional exercise of its original jurisdiction, the power to issue, among
Trial Court. others, a writ of certiorari, whether or not in aid of its
appellate jurisdiction. As to Regional Trial Courts, the power to
2. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in tax collection cases:
issue a writ of certiorari, in the exercise of their original
a. Over appeals from the judgments, resolutions or jurisdiction, is provided under Section 21 of BP 129.
orders of the Regional Trial Courts in tax collection cases
The foregoing notwithstanding, while there is no express
originally decided by them, in their respective territorial
grant of such power, with respect to the CTA, Section 1, Article
jurisdiction.
VIII of the 1987 Constitution provides, nonetheless, that
b. Over petitions for review of the judgments, resolutions or judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in
orders of the Regional Trial Courts in the Exercise of their such lower courts as may be established by law and that
appellate jurisdiction over tax collection cases originally judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to
decided by the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally
Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, in their respective demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or
jurisdiction. not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
A perusal of the above provisions would show that, while it is instrumentality of the Government.
clearly stated that the CTA has exclusive appellate jurisdiction
over decisions, orders or resolutions of the RTCs in local tax On the strength of the above constitutional provisions, it can
cases originally decided or resolved by them in the be fairly interpreted that the power of the CTA includes
exercise of their original or appellate jurisdiction, there is no that of determining whether or not there has been grave
categorical statement under RA 1125 as well as the abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
amendatory RA 9282, which provides that the CTA has on the part of the RTC in issuing an interlocutory order in cases
jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari assailing interlocutory falling within the exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the tax
orders issued by the RTC in local tax cases filed before it. court. It, thus, follows that the CTA, by constitutional mandate,
is vested with jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari in these
The prevailing doctrine is that the authority to issue cases.
writs of certiorari involves the exercise of original jurisdiction
which must be expressly conferred by the Constitution or by Indeed, in order for any appellate court, to effectively exercise
law and cannot be implied from the mere its appellate jurisdiction, it must have the authority to issue,
existence of appellate jurisdiction. 20 Thus, in the among others, a writ of certiorari. In transferring exclusive
4
jurisdiction over appealed tax cases to the CTA, it can jurisdiction over the appeal from the decision of the trial court
reasonably be assumed that the law intended to transfer also in the same case. It is more in consonance with logic and legal
such power as is deemed necessary, if not indispensable, in soundness to conclude that the grant of appellate jurisdiction
aid of such appellate jurisdiction. There is no perceivable to the CTA over tax cases filed in and decided by the RTC carries
reason why the transfer should only be considered as partial, with it the power to issue a writ of certiorari when necessary
not total. in aid of such appellate jurisdiction. The supervisory power or
jurisdiction of the CTA to issue a writ of certiorari in aid of its
Consistent with the above pronouncement, this Court has held
appellate jurisdiction should co-exist with, and be a
as early as the case of J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Jaramillo, et
complement to, its appellate jurisdiction to review, by appeal,
al. 29 that "if a case may be appealed to a particular court or
the final orders and decisions of the RTC, in order to have
judicial tribunal or body, then said court or judicial tribunal or
complete supervision over the acts of the latter. 36
body has jurisdiction to issue the extraordinary
writ of certiorari, in aid of its appellate jurisdiction." 30 This A grant of appellate jurisdiction implies that there is included
principle was affirmed in De Jesus v. in it the power necessary to exercise it effectively, to make all
Court of Appeals, 31 where the Court stated that "a court may orders that will preserve the subjectof the action, and to give
issue a writ of certiorari in aid of its appellate jurisdiction if effect to the final determination of the appeal. It carries with
said court has jurisdiction to review, by appeal or writ of error, it the power to protect that jurisdiction and to make the
the final orders or decisions of the lower court." 32 The rulings decisions of the court thereunder effective. The court, in
in J.M. Tuason and De Jesus were reiterated in the more recent aid of its appellate jurisdiction, has authority to control all
cases of Galang, Jr. v. Geronimo 33 and Bulilis v. Nuez. auxiliary and incidental matters necessary to the efficient and
proper exercise of that jurisdiction. For this purpose, it may,
Furthermore, Section 6, Rule 135 of the present Rules of Court
when necessary, prohibit or restrain the performance of any
provides that when by law, jurisdiction is conferred on a court
act which might interfere with the proper exercise ofits rightful
or judicial officer, all auxiliary writs, processes and other means
jurisdiction in cases pending before it. 37
necessary to carry it into effect may be employed by such court
or officer. Lastly, it would not be amiss to point out that a court which is
endowed with a particular jurisdiction should have powers
If this Court were to sustain petitioners' contention that
which are necessary to enable it to act effectively within such
jurisdiction over their certiorari petition lies with the CA, this
jurisdiction. These should be regarded as powers which are
Court would be confirming the exercise by two judicial bodies,
inherent in its jurisdiction and the court must possess them in
the CA and the CTA, of jurisdiction over basically the same
order to enforce its rules of practice and to suppress any
subject matter — precisely the split-jurisdiction situation
abuses of its process and to defeat any attempted
which is anathema to the orderly
thwarting of such process.
administration of justice. 35 The Court cannot accept that
such was the legislative motive, especially considering that the In this regard, Section 1 of RA 9282 states that the CTA shall
law expressly confers on the CTA, the tribunal with the be of the same level as the CA and shall possess all the inherent
specialized competence over tax and tariff matters, the powers of a court of justice.
role of judicial review over local tax cases without
Indeed, courts possess certain inherent powers which may be
mention of any other court that may exercise such power.
said to be implied from a general grant of jurisdiction, in
Thus, the Court agrees with the ruling of the CA that since
addition to those expressly conferred on them. These inherent
appellate jurisdiction over private respondents' complaint for
powers are such powers as are necessary for the ordinary and
tax refund is vested in the CTA, it follows that a petition
efficient exercise of jurisdiction; or are essential to the
for certiorari seeking nullification of an interlocutory order
existence, dignity and functions of the courts, as well as to the
issued in the said case should, likewise, be filed with the same
due administration of justice; or are directly appropriate,
court. To rule otherwise would lead to an absurd situation
convenient and suitable to the execution of their granted
where one court decides an appeal in the main case while
powers; and include the power to maintain the court's
another court rules on an incident in the very same case.
jurisdiction and render it effective in behalf of the litigants.
Stated differently, it would be somewhat incongruent with the
Thus, this Court has held that "while a court may be expressly
pronounced judicial abhorrence to split jurisdiction to
granted the incidental powers necessary to effectuate its
conclude that the intention of the law is to divide the authority
jurisdiction, a grant of jurisdiction, in the
over a local tax case filed with the RTC by giving to the CA or
absence of prohibitive legislation, implies the necessary and
this Court jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari against
usual incidental powers essential to effectuate it, and, subject
interlocutory orders of the RTC but giving to the CTA the
5
to existing laws and constitutional provisions, every regularly MEDICAL PLAZA MAKATI CONDOMINIUM CORPORATION, p
constituted court has power to do all things that are etitioner, vs. ROBERT H. CULLEN, respondent. PERALTA, J p:
reasonably necessary for the administration of justice within
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
the scope of its jurisdiction and for the enforcement of its
Rules of Court assailing the Court of Appeals (CA)
judgments and mandates." 39 Hence, demands, matters or
Decision 1 dated July 10, 2007 and Resolution 2dated January
questions ancillary or incidental to, or growing out of, the main
25, 2008 in CA-G.R. CV No. 86614. The assailed decision
action, and coming within the above principles, may be taken
reversed and set aside the September 9, 2005 Order 3 of the
cognizance of by the court and determined, since such
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, Branch 58 in Civil Case No.
jurisdiction is in aid of its authority over the principal matter,
03-1018; while the assailed resolution denied the separate
even though the court may thus be called on to consider and
motions for reconsideration filed by
decide matters which, as original causes of action, would not
petitioner Medical Plaza Makati Condominium Corporation
be within its cognizance.
(MPMCC) and Meridien Land Holding, Inc. (MLHI).
Based on the foregoing disquisitions, it can be reasonably
The factual and procedural antecedents are as follows:
concluded that the authority of the CTA to take
Respondent Robert H. Cullen purchased from
cognizance of petitions for certiorari questioning interlocutory
MLHI condominium Unit No. 1201 of
orders issued by the RTC in a local tax case is included in the
the Medical Plaza Makati covered
powers granted by the Constitution as well as inherent in the
by Condominium Certificate of Title No. 45808 of the Register
exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.
of Deeds of Makati. Said title was later cancelled
Finally, it would bear to point out that this Court is not and Condominium Certificate of Title No. 64218 was issued in
abandoning the rule that, insofar as quasi-judicial tribunals are the name of respondent.
concerned, the authority to issue writs ofcertiorari must still
On September 19, 2002, petitioner, through its corporate
be expressly conferred by the Constitution or by law and
secretary, Dr. Jose Giovanni E. Dimayuga, demanded from
cannot be implied from the mere existence of their appellate
respondent payment for alleged unpaid association dues and
jurisdiction. This doctrine remains as it applies only to quasi-
assessments amounting to P145,567.42. Respondent disputed
judicial bodies. WHEREFORE,the petition is DENIED.
this demand claiming that he had been religiously paying his
dues shown by the fact that he was previously elected
president and director of petitioner. 4 Petitioner, on the other
hand, claimed that respondent's obligation was a carry-over of
that of MLHI. 5 Consequently, respondent was prevented from
exercising his right to vote and be voted for during the 2002
election of petitioner's Board of Directors. 6Respondent thus
clarified from MLHI the veracity of petitioner's claim, but MLHI
allegedly claimed that the same had already been
settled. 7 This prompted respondent to demand from
petitioner an explanation why he was considered a delinquent
payer despite the settlement of the obligation. Petitioner
failed to make such explanation. Hence, the Complaint for
Damages 8 filed by respondent against petitioner and MLHI,
the pertinent portions of which read: CSIHDA

6. Thereafter, plaintiff occupied the said condominium unit


no. 1201 and religiously paid all the corresponding monthly
contributions/association dues and other assessments
imposed on the same. For the years 2000 and 2001, plaintiff
served as President and Director of
the Medical Plaza Makati CondominiumCorporation;

7. Nonetheless, on September 19, 2002, plaintiff was


shocked/surprised to [receive] a letter from the incumbent
Corporate Secretary of the defendant Medical Plaza Makati,
demanding payment of alleged unpaid association dues and

6
assessments arising from plaintiff's condominium unit no. his right to vote or be voted as director of
1201. The said letter further stressed that plaintiff is the condominium corporation;
considered a delinquent member of the
16. Defendant [MPMCC]'s ominous silence when confronted
defendant Medical Plaza Makati. . . .;
with claim of payment made by defendant Meridien is
8. As a consequence, plaintiff was not allowed to file his tantamount to admission that indeed, plaintiff is not really a
certificate of candidacy as director. Being considered a delinquent member;
delinquent, plaintiff was also barred from exercising his right
17. Accordingly, as a direct and proximate result of the said
to vote in the election of new members of the Board of
acts of defendant [MPMCC], plaintiff experienced/suffered
Directors . . .;
from mental anguish, moral shock, and serious anxiety.
9. . . . Again, prior to the said election date, . . . counsel for the Plaintiff, being a doctor of medicine and respected in the
defendant [MPMCC] sent a demand letter to plaintiff, anent community further suffered from social humiliation and
the said delinquency, explaining that the said unpaid amount besmirched reputation thereby warranting the grant of moral
is a carry-over from the obligation of defendant Meridien. . . .; damages in the amount of P500,000.00 and for which
defendant [MPMCC] should be held liable;
10. Verification with the defendant [MPMCC] resulted to the
issuance of a certification stating that Condominium Unit 1201 18. By way of example or correction for the public good, and
has an outstanding unpaid obligation in the total amount of as a stern warning to all similarly situated, defendant [MPMCC]
P145,567.42 as of November 30, 2002, which again, was should be ordered to pay plaintiff exemplary damages in the
attributed by defendant [MPMCC] to defendant Meridien. . amount of P200,000.00;

11. Due to the seriousness of the matter, and the feeling that [19]. As a consequence, and so as to protect his rights and
defendant Meridien made false representations considering interests, plaintiff was constrained to hire the services of
that it fully warranted to plaintiff that condominium unit 1201 counsel, for an acceptance fee of P100,000.00 plus P2,500.00
is free and clear from all liens and encumbrances, the matter per every court hearing attended by counsel;
was referred to counsel, who accordingly sent a letter to
[20]. In the event that the claim of defendant [MPMCC] turned
defendant Meridien, to demand for the payment of said
out to be true, however, the herein defendant Meridien should
unpaid association dues and other assessments imposed on
be held liable instead, by ordering the same to pay the said
the condominium unit and being claimed by defendant
delinquency of condominium unit 1201 in the amount of
[MPMCC]. . . .;
P145,567.42 as of November 30, 2002 as well as the above
12. . . . defendant Meridien claimed however, that the damages, considering that the non-payment thereof would be
obligation does not exist considering that the matter was the proximate cause of the damages suffered by plaintiff; 9
already settled and paid by defendant Meridien to defendant
Petitioner and MLHI filed their separate motions to dismiss the
[MPMCC]. . . .;
complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. 10 MLHI claims
13. Plaintiff thus caused to be sent a letter to defendant that it is the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB)
[MPMCC] . . . . The said letter . . . sought an explanation on the which is vested with the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and
fact that, as per the letter of defendant Meridien, the decide the case. Petitioner, on the other hand, raises the
delinquency of unit 1201 was already fully paid and settled, following specific grounds for the dismissal of the complaint:
contrary to the claim of defendant [MPMCC]. . . .; (1) estoppel as respondent himself approved the assessment
when he was the president; (2) lack of jurisdiction as the case
14. Despite receipt of said letter on April 24, 2003, and to date
involves an intra-corporate controversy; (3) prematurity for
however, no explanation was given by defendant [MPMCC], to
failure of respondent to exhaust all intra-corporate remedies;
the damage and prejudice of plaintiff who is again obviously
and (4) the case is already moot and academic, the obligation
being barred from voting/participating in the election of
having been settled between petitioner and MLHI. 11 AIaSTE
members of the board of directors for the year 2003;
On September 9, 2005, the RTC rendered a Decision granting
15. Clearly, defendant [MPMCC] acted maliciously by insisting
petitioner's and MLHI's motions to dismiss and, consequently,
that plaintiff is a delinquent member when in fact, defendant
dismissing respondent's complaint.
Meridien had already paid the said delinquency, if any. The
branding of plaintiff as delinquent member was willfully and The trial court agreed with MLHI that the action for specific
deceitfully employed so as to prevent plaintiff from exercising performance filed by respondent clearly falls within the
exclusive jurisdiction of the HLURB. 12 As to petitioner, the

7
court held that the complaint states no cause of action, irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to
considering that respondent's obligation had already been recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein. . . .
settled by MLHI. It, likewise, ruled that the issues raised are
Based on the allegations made by respondent in his complaint,
intra-corporate between the corporation and member. 13
does the controversy involve intra-corporate issues as would
On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the trial court's fall within the jurisdiction of the RTC sitting as a special
decision and remanded the case to the RTC for further commercial court or an ordinary action for damages within the
proceedings. Contrary to the RTC conclusion, the CA held that jurisdiction of regular courts?
the controversy is an ordinary civil action for damages which
In determining whether a dispute constitutes an intra-
falls within the jurisdiction of regular courts. 14 It explained
corporate controversy, the Court uses two tests, namely,
that the case hinged on petitioner's refusal to confirm MLHI's
the relationship test and the nature of the controversy test. 21
claim that the subject obligation had already been settled as
early as 1998 causing damage to respondent. 15 Petitioner's An intra-corporate controversy is one which pertains to any of
and MLHI's motions for reconsideration had also been denied. the following relationships: (1) between the corporation,
partnership or association and the public; (2) between the
Aggrieved, petitioner comes before the Court based on the
corporation, partnership or association and the State insofar
following grounds:
as its franchise, permit or license to operate is concerned; (3)
I.THE COURT A QUO HAS DECIDED A QUESTION OF between the corporation, partnership or association and its
SUBSTANCE, NOT THERETOFORE DETERMINED BY THE stockholders, partners, members or officers; and (4) among
SUPREME COURT, OR HAS DECIDED IT IN A WAY NOT IN the stockholders, partners or associates themselves. 22Thus,
ACCORD WITH LAW OR WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF under the relationship test, the existence of any of the above
THE SUPREME COURT WHEN IT DECLARED THE INSTANT CASE intra-corporate relations makes the case intra-corporate. 23
AN ORDINARY ACTION FOR DAMAGES INSTEAD OF AN INTRA-
Under the nature of the controversy test, "the controversy
CORPORATE CONTROVERSY COGNIZABLE BY A SPECIAL
must not only be rooted in the existence of an intra-corporate
COMMERCIAL COURT.
relationship, but must as well pertain to the enforcement of
II.THE COURT A QUO HAS DECIDED THE INSTANT CASE IN A the parties' correlative rights and obligations under
WAY NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW OR WITH THE APPLICABLE the Corporation Code and the internal and intra-corporate
DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT WHEN IT TOOK regulatory rules of the corporation." 24 In other words,
COGNIZANCE OF THE APPEAL WHILE RAISING ONLY PURE jurisdiction should be determined by considering both the
QUESTIONS OF LAW. 17 relationship of the parties as well as the nature of the question
involved. 25
The petition is meritorious. It is a settled rule that jurisdiction
over the subject matter is determined by the allegations in the Applying the two tests, we find and so hold that the case
complaint. It is not affected by the pleas or the theories set up involves intra-corporate controversy. It obviously arose from
by the defendant in an answer or a motion to dismiss. the intra-corporate relations between the parties, and the
Otherwise, jurisdiction would become dependent almost questions involved pertain to their rights and obligations under
entirely upon the whims of the defendant. 18 Also illuminating the Corporation Code and matters relating to the regulation of
is the Court's pronouncement in Go v. Distinction Properties the corporation. 26
Development and Construction, Inc.: 19
Admittedly, petitioner is a condominium corporation duly
Basic as a hornbook principle is that jurisdiction over the organized and existing under Philippine laws, charged with the
subject matter of a case is conferred by law and determined by management of the Medical PlazaMakati. Respondent, on the
the allegations in the complaint which comprise a concise other hand, is the registered owner of Unit No. 1201 and is
statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiff's thus a stockholder/member of the condominium corporation.
cause of action. The nature of an action, as well as which court Clearly, there is an intra-corporate relationship between the
or body has jurisdiction over it, is determined based on the corporation and a stockholder/member.
allegations contained in the complaint of the plaintiff,
The nature of the action is determined by the body rather than
irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to
the title of the complaint. Though denominated as an action
recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein. The
for damages, an examination of the allegations made by
averments in the complaint and the character of the relief
respondent in his complaint shows that the case principally
sought are the ones to be consulted. Once vested by the
dwells on the propriety of the assessment made by petitioner
allegations in the complaint, jurisdiction also remains vested
against respondent as well as the validity of petitioner's act in
8
preventing respondent from participating in the election of the jurisdiction of the SEC over all cases enumerated under Section
corporation's Board of Directors. Respondent contested the 5 of Presidential Decree No. 902-A has been transferred to
alleged unpaid dues and assessments demanded by petitioner. RTCs designated by this Court as Special Commercial
Courts. 30 While the CA may be correct that the RTC has
The issue is not novel. The nature of an action involving any
jurisdiction, the case should have been filed not with the
dispute as to the validity of the assessment of association dues
regular court but with the branch of the RTC designated as a
has been settled by the Court inChateau de
special commercial court. Considering that the RTC
Baie Condominium Corporation v. Moreno. 27 In that case,
of Makati City, Branch 58 was not designated as a special
respondents therein filed a complaint for intra-corporate
commercial court, it was not vested with jurisdiction over
dispute against the petitioner therein to question how it
cases previously cognizable by the SEC. 31 The CA, therefore,
calculated the dues assessed against them, and to ask an
gravely erred in remanding the case to the RTC for further
accounting of association dues. Petitioner, however, moved
proceedings.
for the dismissal of the case on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction alleging that since the complaint was against the Indeed, Republic Act (RA) No. 9904, or the Magna Carta for
owner/developer of Homeowners and Homeowners' Associations, approved on
a condominium whose condominium project was registered January 7, 2010 and became effective on July 10, 2010,
with and licensed by the HLURB, the latter has the exclusive empowers the HLURB to hear and decide inter-association
jurisdiction. In sustaining the denial of the motion to dismiss, and/or intra-association controversies or conflicts concerning
the Court held that the dispute as to the validity of the homeowners' associations. However, we cannot apply the
assessments is purely an intra-corporate matter between same in the present case as it involves a controversy between
petitioner and respondent and is thus within the exclusive a condominium unit owner and a condominium corporation.
jurisdiction of the RTC sitting as a special commercial court. While the term association as defined in the law covers
More so in this case as respondent repeatedly questioned his homeowners' associations of other residential real property
characterization as a delinquent member and, consequently, which is broad enough to cover a condominium corporation, it
petitioner's decision to bar him from exercising his rights to does not seem to be the legislative intent. A thorough review
vote and be voted for. These issues are clearly corporate and of the deliberations of the bicameral conference committee
the demand for damages is just incidental. Being corporate in would show that the lawmakers did not intend to extend the
nature, the issues should be threshed out before the RTC coverage of the law to such kind of association. We quote
sitting as a special commercial court. The issues on damages hereunder the pertinent portion of the Bicameral Conference
can still be resolved in the same special commercial court just Committee's deliberation, to wit:
like a regular RTC which is still competent to tackle civil law
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. ZUBIRI). Let's go back, Mr. Chair, very
issues incidental to intra-corporate disputes filed before it.
quickly on homeowners.
Moreover, Presidential Decree No. 902-A enumerates the
THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (REP. ZIALCITA). Ang sa akin lang, I
cases over which the Securities and Exchange Commission
think our views are similar, Your Honor, Senator Zubiri, the
(SEC) exercises exclusive jurisdiction:
entry of the condominium units might just complicate the
b) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership whole matters. So we'd like to put it on record that we're very
relations, between and among stockholders, members or much concerned about the plight of the Condominium Unit
associates; between any or all of them and the corporation, Homeowners' Association. But this could very well be
partnership or association of which they are stockholders, addressed on a separate bill that I'm willing to co-sponsor with
members, or associates, respectively; and between such the distinguished Senator Zubiri, to address in the
corporation, partnership or association and the State insofar Condominium Act of the Philippines, rather than address it
as it concerns their individual franchise or right to exist as such here because it might just create a red herring into the entire
entity; and thing and it will just complicate matters, hindi ba?

c) Controversies in the election or appointment of directors, THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. ZUBIRI). I also agree with you although I
trustees, officers, or managers of such corporations, sympathize with them — although we sympathize with them
partnerships, or associations. 29 cITAaD and we feel that many times their rights have been also
violated by abusive condominium corporations. However,
To be sure, this action partakes of the nature of an intra-
there are certain things that we have to reconcile. There are
corporate controversy, the jurisdiction over which pertains to
certain issues that we have to reconcile with this version.
the SEC. Pursuant to Section 5.2 ofRepublic Act No. 8799,
otherwise known as the Securities Regulation Code, the

9
In the Condominium Code, for example, they just raised a very MR. JALANDONI. It will become complicated. There will be a
peculiar situation under the Condominium Code lot of conflict of laws between the two laws.
— Condominium Corporation Act. It's five years the proxy,
THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (REP. ZIALCITA). Kaya nga eh. At saka,
whereas here, it's three years. So there would already be
I don't know. I think the — mayroon naman silang protection
violation or there will be already a problem with their version
sa ano eh, di ba? Buyers decree doon sa Condominium Act. I'm
and our version. Sino ang matutupad doon? Will it be our
sure there are provisions there eh. Huwag na lang, huwag na
version or their version?
lang.
So I agree that has to be studied further. And because they
MR. JALANDONI. Mr. Chairman, I think it would be best if your
have a law pertaining to the condominium housing units, I
previous comments that you'd be supporting an amendment.
personally feel that it would complicate matters if we include
I think that would be — Well, that would be the best course of
them. Although I agree that they should be looked after and
action with all due respect.
their problems be looked into.
THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (REP. ZIALCITA). Yeah. Okay. Thank
Probably we can ask our staff, Your Honor, to come up already
you. So iyon na lang final proposal naming 'yung catchall
with the bill although we have no more time. Hopefully we can
phrase, "With respect to the. . ." 32
tackle this again on the 15th Congress. But I agree with the
sentiments and the inputs of the Honorable Chair of the House THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. ZUBIRI). . . . And so, what is their final
panel. decision on the definition of homeowners?
May we ask our resource persons to also probably give THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (REP. ZIALCITA). We stick to the
comments? original, Mr. Chairman. We'll just open up a whole can of
worms and a whole new ball game will come into play. Besides,
MR. DAYRIT. Yes I agree with you. There are many, I think,
I am not authorized, neither are you, by our counterparts to
practices in their provisions in the Condominium Law that may
include the condominium owners. IEAHca
be conflicting with this version of ours.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. ZUBIRI). Basically that is correct. We are
For instance, in the case of, let's say, the condominium, the so-
not authorized by the Senate nor — because we have
called common areas and/or maybe so called open spaces that
discussed this lengthily on the floor, actually, several months
they may have, especially common areas, they are usually
on the floor. And we don't have the authority as well for other
owned by the condominium corporation. Unlike a subdivision
Bicam members to add a provision to include a separate entity
where the open spaces and/or the common areas are not
that has already their legal or their established Republic Act
necessarily owned by the association. Because sometimes —
tackling on that particular issue. But we just like to put on
generally these are donated to the municipality or to the city.
record, we sympathize with the plight of our friends in
And it is only when the city or municipality gives the approval
the condominium associations and we will just guarantee
or the conformity that this is donated to the homeowners'
them that we will work on an amendment to
association. But generally, under PD [Presidential Decree] 957,
the Condominium Corporation Code. So with that — we
it's donated. In the CondominiumCorporation, hindi. Lahat ng
skipped, that is correct, we have to go back to homeowners'
mga open spaces and common areas like corridors, the
association definition, Your Honor, because we had skipped it
function rooms and everything, are owned by the corporation.
altogether. So just quickly going back to Page 7 because there
So that's one main issue that can be conflicting.
are amendments to the definition of homeowners. If it is
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. ZUBIRI). I'll just ask for a one-minute alright with the House Panel, adopt the opening phrase of
suspension so we can talk. Subsection 7 of the Senate version as opening phrase of
Subsection 10 of the reconciled version.
THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (REP. ZIALCITA). Unless you want to
put a catchall phrase like what we did in the Senior Citizen's To be sure, RA 4726 or the Condominium Act was enacted to
Act. Something like, to the extent — paano ba iyon? To the specifically govern a condominium. Said law sanctions the
extent that it is practicable and applicable, the rights and creation of the condominiumcorporation which is especially
benefits of the homeowners, are hereby extended to the — formed for the purpose of holding title to the common area, in
mayroon kaming ginamit na phrase eh. . . to the extent that it which the holders of separate interests shall automatically be
be practicable and applicable to the unit homeowners, is members or shareholders, to the exclusion of others, in
hereby extended, something like that. It's a catchall phrase. proportion to the appurtenant interest of their respective
But then again, it might create a. . . units. 34 The rights and obligations of the condominium unit

10
owners and the condominium corporation are set forth in the
above Act.

Clearly, condominium corporations are not covered by the


amendment. Thus, the intra-corporate dispute between
petitioner and respondent is still within the jurisdiction of the
RTC sitting as a special commercial court and not the HLURB.
The doctrine laid down by the Court in Chateau de
Baie Condominium Corporation v. Moreno 35 which in turn
cited Wack Wack Condominium Corporation, et al. v. CA 36 is
still a good law.

WHEREFORE, we hereby GRANT the petition and REVERSE the


Court of Appeals Decision dated July 10, 2007 and Resolution
dated January 25, 2008 in CA-G.R. CV No. 86614. The
Complaint before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
Branch 58, which is not a special commercial court, docketed
as Civil Case No. 03-1018 is ordered DISMISSED for lack of
jurisdiction. Let the case REMANDED to the Executive Judge of
the Regional Trial Court of Makati City for re-raffle purposes
among the designated special commercial courts.

11
NESTOR SANDOVAL, petitioner, vs. thereof is vested with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory
HON. DOROTEO CAÑEBA, Presiding Judge, RTC, Manila, Board (HLURB) pursuant to PD 957.
Branch 20, DEPUTY SHERIFF OF MANILA (RTC, Manila, Branch
5.2. The respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion and
20), and ESTATE DEVELOPERS & INVESTORS
acted without jurisdiction in refusing to vacate his judgment
CORPORATION, respondents. GANCAYCO, J.:
rendered without jurisdiction and in issuing a writ of execution
The issue in this petition is whether or not the ordinary courts to implement his abovesaid void judgment. 2
have jurisdiction over the collection of unpaid installments
The petition is impressed with merit. Under Section 1 of
regarding a subdivision lot.
Presidential Decree No. 957 the National Housing Authority
On August 20, 1987 private respondent filed a complaint in the (NHA) was given the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila for the collection of unpaid certain cases as follows:
installments regarding a subdivision lot, pursuant to a
SEC.1. In the exercise of its function to regulate the real estate
promissory note, plus interest. On January 29, 1988 the trial
trade and business and in addition to its powers provided for
court rendered a decision.
in Presidential Decree No. 957, the National Housing Authority
It appears that petitioner was declared in default so much so shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of the
that after receiving the evidence of private respondent, the following nature:
trial court rendered its decision on January 19,1988, the
A. Unsound real estate business practices:
dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
B. Claims involving refund and any other claims filed by
WHEREFORE, on the allegations and the prayer of the
subdivision lot or condominium unit buyer against the project
complaint and the evidence adduced in support therefor,
owner, developer, dealer, broker or salesman;and
judgment is hereby rendered, ordering the defendant to pay
plaintiff the following: C. Cases involving specific performance of contractual and
statutory obligations filed by buyers of subdivision lot or
1. The sum of P73,867.42 plus interest and other charges
condominium unit against the owner, developer, dealer,
commencing from January 1, 1988 until fully paid; 2. Such sum
broker or salesman. (Emphasis supplied.)
which shall not be less than P2,000.00 or 25% of the amount
of delinquency whichever is greater, as and for attorney's fees. The language of this section, particularly, the second portion
3. Costs against the defendant. thereof, leaves no room for doubt that exclusive jurisdiction
over the case between the petitioner and private respondent
On September 28, 1988 the trial court issued an order directing
is vested not on the RTC but on the NHA. The NHA was re-
the issuance of a writ of execution to enforce its decision that
named Human Settlements Regulatory Commission and
had become final and executory.
thereafter it was re-named as the Housing and Land Use
On September 30, 1988 petitioner filed a motion to vacate Regulatory Board (HLURB). 3
judgment and to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the
Undeniably the sum of money sought to be collected by private
lower court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter and
respondent from petitioner represented unpaid installments
that its decision is null and void. A motion for reconsideration
of a subdivision lot which the petitioner purchased. Petitioner
of the writ of execution was also filed by petitioner. An
alleges that he suspended payments thereof because of the
opposition to both motions was filed by private respondent to
failure of the developer to develop the subdivision pursuant to
which a reply was filed by petitioner.
their agreement.
On February 17, 1989 the trial court denied the motion to
In Antipolo Realty Corporation vs. National Housing
vacate the judgment on the ground that it is now beyond the
Authority, 4 the suit which was filed with the NHA, likewise
jurisdiction of the Court to do so. It directed the issuance of a
involved non-payment of installments over a subdivision lot,
writ of execution anew.
wherein this Court held that the NHA has exclusive authority
Hence the herein petition wherein it is alleged that the trial to hear and decide the case.
court committed a grave abuse of discretion as follows:
In Solid Homes, Inc. vs. Teresita Payawal, 5 this Court ruled that
5.1. The respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion and upon the issuance of Presidential Decree No. 957, the trial
acted without jurisdiction in taking cognizance of the court may no longer assume jurisdiction over the cases
complaint before him notwithstanding enumerated in Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 397. We
that exclusive and original jurisdiction over the subject-matter even stated therein that the Housing and Land Use Regulatory

12
Board has the authority to award damages in the exercise of
this exclusive power conferred upon it by Presidential Decree
No. 1344.

In Estate Developers and Investors Corporation vs. Antonio


Sarte and Erlinda Sarte, G.R. No. 93646, which is a case
substantially similar to the instant case, in a resolution of
August 13, 1990 this Court upheld the exclusive jurisdiction of
the HLURB over the collection suit.

Considering that the trial court has no jurisdiction under the


circumstances obtaining in this case, the decision it rendered
is null and void ab initio. It is as if no decision was rendered by
the trial court at all.

When as in this case the attention of the trial court is drawn to


its lack of competence and authority to act on the case,
certainly the trial court has a duty to vacate the judgment by
declaring the same to be null and void ab initio.

This is as it should be. Inasmuch as the questioned judgment is


null and void, it is, as above observed, as if no decision had
been rendered by the trial court. It cannot become final and
exucutory, much less can it be enforced by a writ of execution.

The trial court, rather than reiterating the issuance of a writ of


execution in this case, which it did, should have recalled and
cancelled the writ of execution of the judgment.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The questioned


decision of the trial court dated January 29, 1988 is hereby
declared null and void for lack of jurisdiction. No
pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

13
BENIGNO V. MAGPALE, JR., petitioner, vs. CIVIL SERVICE petitioner guilty of Gross Negligence on two counts: (a) for his
COMMISSION and ROGELIO A. DAYAN, in his capacity as the failure to account for the forty-four (44) assorted units of
General Manager of the Philippine Ports equipment, among them a Sony Betamax, and a TV Camera,
Authority, respondents. MELO, J p: and (b) for failing to render the required liquidation of his cash
advances amounting to P44,877.00 for a period of four years.
Before Us is a petition for review on certiorari assailing
Petitioner was also found guilty of frequent and unauthorized
Resolution No. 90-962 dated October 19, 1990 of
absences. Accordingly, he was meted the penalty of dismissal
respondent Civil Service Commission (CSC). Said CSC
from the service with the corresponding accessory
resolution set aside and modified the decision dated February
penalties. prLL
5, 1990 of the Merit Systems Protection Board in MSPB Case
No. 449, which ordered the immediate reinstatement in the When petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid
service of herein petitioner Benigno V. Magpale, Jr., without Decision was denied in the DOTC's Order of February 20, 1989,
loss of seniority rights and with payment of back salaries and he appealed to the Merit Systems and Protection Board
other emoluments to which he is entitled under the law. LLphil (MSPB) of respondent Civil Service Commission.

The record shows that petitioner started his career in On February 5, 1990, the MSPB rendered a Decision reversing
government as an employee in the Presidential Assistance on the Decision of the DOTC. The pertinent portion of the MSPB'S
Community Development in 1960. Fifteen years later, or in Decision reads:
1975, he transferred to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) as
"After a careful review of the records of the case, this Board
Arrastre Superintendent. He was promoted to the position of
found the appeal meritorious. Respondent cannot be held
Port Manager in 1977 of the Port Management Unit (PMU),
liable for Gross Negligence for his alleged failure to account for
General Santos City. Then he was reassigned, in the same year,
several properties and for failure to liquidate the cash
to PPA-PMU, Tacloban City where he likewise discharges the
advances he received as there was no showing that he has
functions of Port Manager. On December 1, 1982, the PPA
been specifically required to do so either by law or regulation.
General Manager designated Atty. William A. Enriquez as
The mere detail of respondent to PPA-Manila, in the absence
officer-in-charge of PPA-PMU, Tacloban City effective
of an order requiring him to turn over and account for the
December 6, 1982. On January 6, 1983, petitioner was ordered
funds and property received for his office at PMU-Tacloban will
to immediately report to the Assistant General Manager
not necessarily obligate him to make accounting for the same.
(AGM) for Operations, PPA, Manila. Petitioner reported at PPA,
Manila on the same date and performed the duties and Moreover, Section 105, Chapter 5 of Presidential Decree 1445,
functions assigned to him. otherwise known as `The Government Auditing Code of the
Philippines', measured the liability of an officer accountable
In an Internal Control Department Report dated March 5,
for government property only to the money value of said
1984, the PMU-Tacloban Inventory Committee and the
property. Though respondent is the person primarily liable for
Commission on Audit (COA) stated that petitioner failed to
these funds and property, he holds this liability jointly with the
account for equipment of PPA valued at P65,542.25 and to
person who has the actual possession thereof and who has the
liquidate cash advances amounting to P130,069.61. He was
immediate responsibility for their safekeeping.
found also to have incurred unauthorized absence from May
25, 1984 to July 23, 1984. As to the charge relative to respondent's frequent
unauthorized absences had been sufficiently and convincingly
On July 23, 1984, or nineteen months after he began reporting
explained, due to which the Board found him not at all guilty
in Manila, a formal charge for Dishonesty, Pursuit of Private
of the offense charged (sic).
Business without permission as required byCivil Service Rules
and Regulations, Frequent and Unauthorized Absences and IN VIEW THEREOF, the decision appealed from is hereby
Neglect of Duty was filed against petitioner. Based on said reversed. Respondent-Appellant Magpale should immediately
charges, he was ordered preventively suspended and has been be reinstated in the service without loss of seniority rights and
out of service since then. with payment of back salaries and other emoluments to which
he is entitled under the law." (pp. 31-32, Rollo.)
For almost four years, the case remained unacted upon. The
formal investigation and hearing resumed on September 18, On March 1, 1990, PPA, through its General Manager, herein
1987. respondent Rogelio A. Dayan, filed an appeal with
the Civil Service Field Office-PPA, and the latter office indorsed
On January 18, 1989, a Decision was rendered by the Secretary
the appeal to respondent CSC in a letter dated March 5, 1990.
of the Department of Transportation and Communications
(DOTC), through its Administrative Action Board, finding
14
On March 5, 1990, petitioner requested the Secretary of the On October 19, 1990, respondent CSC rendered its now
DOTC to direct the PPA to implement the MSPB decision as it assailed Resolution No. 90-962, the pertinent portion of which
has become final and executory. Said request was reiterated in reads as follows:
another letter also dated March 5, 1990 by petitioner to OIC
"The Commission thus holds respondent Magpale guilty of
Wilfredo M. Trinidad of the Office of the Assistant Secretary
Gross Neglect of Duty on two (2) counts for his failure to
for Administration and Legal Affairs, DOTC.LLphil
account for the forty-four (44) equipments (sic) under his
On March 13, 1990, petitioner filed with the MSPB a Motion charge and to render an accounting for cash advances
for Implementation of the MSPB decision. This was opposed by amounting to P44,877.90. Accordingly, considering two
the PPA through its General Manager. mitigating circumstances of length of service and first offense
in favor of respondent, the commission hereby imposes a
On April 27, 1990, petitioner filed with respondent CSC his
penalty of suspension for a period of one (1) year against him.
comment to the appeal of the PPA contending that he is not
As he has been out of the service since 1984, the penalty is
an accountable officer and is under no obligation to account
deemed served and he should now be reinstated to his former
for the property and equipment; that said property and
position. This is, however, without prejudice to any criminal
equipment were not received by him as custodian and he
or civilproceedings that the agency concerned or the COA may
should not be held liable for the loss of the same; that the said
institute as proper under the premises.
property and equipment were placed in PPA-PMU Tacloban
City which the herein petitioner left on October 8, 1982 and Finally, the decision of the MSPB exonerating the
since then had lost control over them. Moreover, petitioner respondent Magpale for Gross Negligence is hereby reversed.
averred that as to the unliquidated cash advances of Corollarily, the order of payment of back salaries is hereby set
P44,877.00, the same had long been liquidated. Finally, aside. MSPB is likewise reminded to be more circumspect on
petitioner claimed that his failure to secure the clearance for matters of this nature, especially as the instant case involves
any possible property or financial obligation in PMU-Tacloban accountability of public funds and property. cdphil
was due to the urgency of his transfer to PPA-Manila and the
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Commission
absence of any order or demand to secure the clearance.
finds respondent Benigno V. Magpale, Jr., guilty of Gross
On May 29, 1990, the MSPB issued an Order for the immediate Neglect of Duty on two (2) counts for failure to account for the
implementation of its February 5, 1990 Decision, ruling that: forty-four (44) equipments (sic) under his charge and to render
"Records further show that a copy of this Board's decision was an accounting for cash advance amounting to P44,877.90. In
received by the Office of the Honorable Secretary, that view of the attendant mitigating circumstances of length of
Department, thru Mr. Frankie Tampus on February 6, 1990. service and first offense in favor of respondent and the Neglect
Records finally show that as of March 5, 1990, no motion for of Duty to account for cash advance in the amount of
reconsideration of this Board's aforementioned decision has P44,877.90 (second count) be appreciated as an aggravating
ever been filed as evidenced by the certification of even date circumstance, the penalty of suspension for one (1) year shall
issued and signed by Director Adelaida C. Montero of the be imposed against respondent. This shall be without
Office for Central Personnel Records, this Commission. Hence, prejudice to any criminal or civil proceedings that PPA or COA
said decision has long become final and executory". (p. 34, may institute against respondent. Accordingly, the Decision
Rollo.) and Order of MSPB dated February 5, 1990 and May 23, 1990,
respectively, are hereby set aside ". (pp. 27-28, Rollo.)
On June 28, 1990, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss the
appeal of PPA claiming that: Hence, the present recourse.

"1. Appeal of PPA was filed out of time and that the CSC has no The petition alleges that respondent CSC, in issuing its
jurisdiction over it; Resolution No. 90-962, gravely abused its discretion because:

2. The PPA has not exhausted administrative remedies before "1. The law did not authorize an appeal by the government
appealing to the higher body, the CSC; from an adverse decision of the Merit Systems Protection
Board (MSPB);
3. The MSPB decision has become final and therefore cannot
be disturbed anymore. 2. Respondent PPA General Manager did not have the right or
(p. 22, Rollo.) legal personality to appeal from the MSPB decision;

3. Assuming that the appeal was available to respondent


DAYAN, the same was filed out of time after the MSPB decision

15
had long become final and executory." (pp. 6-7, Petition; pp. 7- can be held liable for the money value of the equipment and
8, Rollo.) advances as mandated by Section 105 of Presidential Decree
No. 1445, the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.
In support of his first contention, petitioner invokes Paragraph
2(a), Section 16, Chapter 3, Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of For its part, respondent CSC maintains —
Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as
First, that the finality of the MSPB decision in disciplinary cases
theAdministrative Code of 1987 which provides:
as stated in Section 16, Paragraph 2(a), Book V of Executive
"SECTION 16. Offices in the Commission. — The Commission Order No. 292, relied upon by petitioner, is modified by Section
shall have the following offices: 12, Paragraph 11, Book V, of the same Executive Order No.
292, which reads:
(2) The Merit Systems Protection Board composed of a
Chairman and two (2) members shall have the following "SECTION 12. Powers and Functions. — The Commission shall
functions: have the following powers and functions:

(a) Hear and decide on appeal administrative cases involving (11) Hear and decide administrative cases instituted by or
officials and employees of the Civil Service. Its decision shall be brought directly or on appeal, including contested
final except those involving dismissal or separation from the appointments, and review decisions and actions of its offices
service which may be appealed to the Commission." (Emphasis and of the agencies attached to it."
supplied.).
Furthermore, relevant provisions of Executive Order No. 135
claiming that since the MSPB decision was not for dismissal or dated February 25, 1987 amending Section 19(b)
separation from the service, but reinstatement without loss of of Presidential Decree No. 807 and Section 8 ofPresidential
seniority rights and with payment of back salaries, the said Decree No. 1409 state, thus:
MSPB decision should be deemed final, immediately executory
"WHEREAS, in the interest of justice, there is a need to confer
and unappealable.
upon the Civil Service Commission jurisdiction over appeal in
Petitioner next contends that assuming, for the sake of contested or provisional appointments and to make its
argument. that the decision of the MSPB was appealable, decision thereon, as well as in administrative disciplinary cases
respondent Dayan, even in his capacity as General Manager of final and reviewable by the Supreme Court.
the PPA, did not have the legal personality nor the right to
Relationship with the Civil Service Commission. — The
appeal the decision of the MSPB, citing paragraph 1, Section
Commission shall hear and decide appeals from other
49, Chapter 7, Subtitle A, Title I, Book V, of Executive Order No.
decisions of the Board provided that the decisions of the
292 and the case of Paredes vs. CSC, G.R. No. 88177,
Commission shall be subject to review on certiorari only upon
December 4, 1990, 192 SCRA 84.
receipt of a copy thereof by the aggrieved party."
Assuming further that the MSPB decision was appealable and
Thus, respondent CSC argues that it is deemed not to have lost
that respondent Dayan had the legal personality to appeal the
its appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of the MSPB in
MSPB decision, petitioner still contends that the appeal should
administrative disciplinary cases.
not have been given due course by the respondent CSC
because the appeal was not filed with the proper disciplining Second, the case of Paredes v. CSC is not applicable.
office in accordance with same Section 49 of Executive Order Respondent Dayan appealed the MSPB decision not in his
No. 292, which, in this case, should be the DOTC, not with the personal capacity nor in pursuit of his private interest, but as
CSC Field Office at the PPA. held of the PPA, being the general manager thereof.
On the merit of the petition, petitioner claims that assuming Third, the appeal was filed with the proper disciplining office
even further that an appeal lies from the MSPB decision, that because the decision appealed from was that of the MSPB, one
respondent Dayan had the legal personality or standing to of the offices in respondent CSC. Thus, respondent CSC was
institute the appeal and that it was filed with the proper office, justified in giving due course to PPA's notice of appeal filed
still CSC Resolution 90-962 was rendered with grave abuse of with its (CSC) Field Office at the PPA.
discretion because petitioner cannot be suspended for alleged
failure to account for pieces of equipment and cash advances Finally, petitioner's claim that he is liable only for the money
since this is not the neglect of duty contemplated by Section value of the property and cash advances and cannot be
36 of Presidential Decree No. 807 or Section 46 of the chapter administratively charged for such infraction is untenable and a
on the Civil Service in Executive Order 292. At most, petitioner mockery of the civil service law. For his failure to account for
the property under his charge and to liquidate his cash
16
advances, petitioner is guilty of Gross Neglect of Duty and of the charges filed against him. But when the respondent is
should have been dismissed from the service if no mitigating exonerated of said charges, as in this case, there is, no occasion
circumstances were considered in his favor. for appeal." (pp. 967-968).

We gave due course to the petition and required the parties to The above ruling is a reiteration of the earlier pronouncement
file their respective memoranda. After considering the same in Paredes vs. Civil Service Commission, (192 SCRA 84 [1990])
and the pertinent laws and jurisprudence, We find that the cited by petitioner, wherein We said:
petition must be granted.
"Based on the above provisions of law, appeal to
After Mendez vs. Civil Service Commission, (204 SCRA 965 the Civil Service Commission in an administrative case is
[1991]), the extent of the authority of respondent CSC to extended to the party adversely affected by the decision, that
review the decisions of the MSPB is now a settled matter. is, the person or the respondent employee who has been
meted out the penalty of suspension for more than thirty days;
The Court, in said case held:
or fine in an amount exceeding thirty days salary demotion in
"It is axiomatic that the right to appeal is merely a statutory rank or salary or transfer, removal or dismissal from office. The
privilege and may be exercised only in the manner and in decision of the disciplining authority is even final and not
accordance with the provision of law. (Victorias Milling Co., appealable to theCivil Service Commission in cases where the
Inc. vs. Office of the Presidential Assistant for Legal Affairs, 153 penalty imposed is suspension for not more than thirty days or
SCRA 318). fine in an amount not exceeding thirty days salary. Appeal in
cases allowed by law must be filed within fifteen days from
A cursory reading of P.D. 807, otherwise known as `The receipt of the decision.
Philippine Civil Service Law' shows that said law does not
contemplate a review of decisions exonerating officers or Here the MSPB after hearing and the submission of
employees from administrative charges. memoranda exonerated private respondent Amor of all
charges except for habitual tardiness. The penalty was only a
Section 37 paragraph (a) thereof, provides: 'The Commission reprimand so that even private respondent Amor, the party
shall decide upon appeal all administrative disciplinary cases adversely affected by the decision, cannot even interpose an
involving the imposition of a penalty of suspension for more appeal to the Civil Service Commission.
than thirty days, or fine in an amount exceeding thirty days'
salary, demotion in rank or salary or transfer, removal or As correctly ruled by private respondent, petitioner Paredes
dismissal from office . . .' (emphasis supplied) (p. 7, Rollo). the complainant is not the party adversely affected by the
decision so that she has no legal personality to interpose an
Said provision must be read together with Section 39 appeal to the Civil Service Commission. In an administrative
paragraph (a) of P.D. 805 which contemplates: case, the complainant is a mere witness (Gonzalo v. D. Roda,
64 SCRA 120). Even if she is the Head of the Administrative
'Appeals, where allowable, shall be made by the party
Services Department of the HSRC as a complainant she is
adversely affected by the decision . . .' (emphasis supplied) (p.
merely a witness for the government in an administrative case.
104, Rollo)
No private interest is involved in an administrative case as the
The phrase 'party adversely affected by the decision' refers to offense is committed against the government." (pp. 98-99).
the government employee against whom the administrative
While it is true, as contended by respondent Civil Service
case is filed for the purpose of disciplinary action which may
Commission that under Section 12 (par. 11), Chapter 3, Subtitle
take the form of suspension, demotion in rank or salary,
A, Book V of Executive Order 292, the CSC does have the
transfer, removal or dismissal from office. In the instant case,
power to —
Coloyan who filed the appeal cannot be considered an
aggrieved party because he is not the respondent in the "Hear and decide administrative cases instituted by or brought
administrative case below. before it directly or on appeal, including contested
appointments, and review decisions and actions of its offices
Finally, pursuant to Section 37 paragraph (b) of P.D. 807, the
and of the agencies attached to it . . ."
city mayor, as head of the city government, is empowered to
enforce judgment with finality on lesser penalties like the exercise of the power is qualified by and should be read
suspension from work for one month and forfeiture of salary together with the other sections of the same sub-title and
equivalent to one month against erring employees. book of Executive Order 292, particularly Section 49 which
prescribes the following requisites for the exercise of the
By inference or implication, the remedy of appeal may be
power of appeal, to wit:
availed of only in a case where the respondent is found guilty
17
(a) the decision must be appealable;

(b) the appeal must be made by the party adversely affected


by the decision;

(c) the appeal must be made within fifteen days from receipt
of the decision, unless a petition for reconsideration is
seasonably filed; and

(d) the notice of appeal must be filed with the disciplining


office, which shall forward the records of the case, together
with the notice of appeal to the appellate authority within
fifteen days from filing of the notice of appeal, with its
comments, if any.

Under Section 47 of the same Code, the CSC shall decide on


appeal all administrative disciplinary cases involving the
imposition of:

(a) a penalty of suspension for more than thirty days; or

(b) fine in an amount exceeding thirty days salary; or

(c) demotion in rank or salary or transfer; or

(d) removal or dismissal from office.

The February 5, 1990 decision of the MSPB did not involve


dismissal or separation from office, rather, the decision
exonerated petitioner and ordered him reinstated to his
former position. Consequently, in the light of our
pronouncements in the aforecited cases
of Mendez vs. Civil Service
Commission and Paredes vs. Civil Service Commission, the
MSPB decision was not a proper subject of appeal to the CSC.

Settled is the rule that a tribunal, board, or officer exercising


judicial functions acts without jurisdiction if no authority has
been conferred by law to hear and decide the case.
(Acena v. Civil Service Commission, 193 SCRA 623 [1991]).

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Civil Service Commission is


hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE and the decision of the Merit
Systems Protection Board dated February 5, 1990 is hereby
REINSTATED

18
JESUSA VDA. DE MURGA, plaintiff-appellee, vs. of P500.00 within the first ten days of every month; with the
JUANITO CHAN, defendant-appellant. ANGELES, J.: consent of the lessor, the lessee may introduce improvements
on the land; and Clause "7" quoted hereinabove. (Exhibit A.)
In this appeal, two issues involving questions of law are posed
for resolution: First, whether or not the allegations in the Upon taking possession of the leased premises, with the
complaint constitute a cause of action for unlawful detainer, consent of the lessor, the lessee introduced improvements on
and confer jurisdiction over the case to the municipal court the land consisting of buildings of the total costs of P70,000.00.
(now city court) of Zamboanga City, under the provisions of It is not disputed that the lessee paid in full the monthly rent
Rule 70 of the Rules of Court and decisions interpreting the during the ten- year period of the lease.
same, when particularly considered in the light of the
As early as July 23, 1958, before the expiration of the ten-year
contexture of the pertinent letter of demand to vacate the
period of the lease, there had been intercourse of
leased premises (Annex J of the Complaint), couched in the
communications between the lessor and the lessee for the
following wise:
renewal of the lease, but the parties failed to arrive at an
Please be advised further that we reiterate our demand made agreement; hence, this action by the lessor against the lessee.
to you in our registered letter dated February 4, 1959 (to
Thus, on July 23, 1958, the lessor informed the lessee of her
vacate the leased premises) which was received by you on the
willingness to renew the lease for five years at a monthly rent
10th instant, unless you pay the amount of Six Hundred pesos
of P700.00. (Exhibit B.) In his reply the lessee said:
(P600.00) or Seven Hundred pesos (P700.00) as new rental per
our letter of January 19, 1959, before the expiration of the 15- ... Much as I am willing to consider the suggested increase of
day period granted you for vacating the same. rental, however, I would like to plead with you that due to very
poor business at present, I may not be able to consider your
and, Second, whether or not the lessor and the lessee had
indicated increase. (Exhibit C.)
agreed upon an automatic renewal of the lease of the
premises, under the stipulation in clause "7" of the On August 1, 1958, the lessor advised the lessee that:
corresponding contract of lease, containing the following
Beginning February 1, 1959, ... the rental of my lots ... will be
agreement:
P700.00. (Exhibit D.)
7. — That upon the termination of the term of Ten (10) years
above expressed, the said Jesusa Vda. de Murga shall have the On January 18, 1959, the lessee advised the lessor that she
(lessor) should purchase the buildings constructed on the land
option to purchase the building or buildings belonging to and
in accordance with the stipulation in the contract of lease, and
constructed by the said Juanito Chan, and the price of said
building or buildings shall be determined by three —
commissioners, two of whom shall be appointed by each of the ... In case you do not agree with the purchase of the aforesaid
parties, and the remainder commissioner shall be appointed buildings, I am willing to continue occupying the land and
by both. However, in the event that the said Jesusa Vda. de execute a new contract of lease, but I am appealing to you to
Murga shall not exercise the right granted her for any reason take into consideration the prevailing business conditions by
or cause, this contract of lease shall be automatically renewed reducing the monthly rental to P400.00, ... (Exhibit L.)
but the period for said renewal shall, however, be fixed and
adjusted again by the parties. It is agreed further that in case On January 19, 1959, the lessor replied that —
of said renewal, the rental shall also be adjusted by the parties
... she rejects the option to purchase the buildings, ... and her
depending on the business condition which shall then at that
present last offer is: (a) Six hundred pesos (P600.00) rentals
time prevail. (Exhibit A.)
payable within the first fifteen days of every month, without
Jesusa Vda. de Murga was the owner of two parcels of land in contract; or (b) Seven hundred pesos (P700.00) rentals payable
the City of Zamboanga, designated as lots 36 and 38 of the within the first fifteen days of every month, one year advanced
cadastral plan of the place, and covered by Transfer rental, with a five-year contract. (Exhibit F.)
Certificates of Title Nos. 3237 and 3238, respectively.
On January 20, 1959, the lessor informed the lessee that the
On January 31, 1949, a contract of lease over said two lots was conditions stated in the latter's letter of January 18, 1959,
entered into by and between Jesusa Vda. de Murga as lessor, were not acceptable to her. (Exhibit G.)
and Juanito Chan as lessee, the basic terms of which pertinent
On January 21, 1959, the lessee advised the lessor that he
to the present case are: The period of the lease was ten (10)
(lessee) cannot accept the conditions stated in her (lessor's)
years from January 31, 1949; the lessee to pay a monthly rent
letters of January 19 and 20, 1959 —
19
... y, insists que Vd. compre mis casas enclavadas en los lotes In his answer (as amended), the defendant admitting the
objeto de arrendamiento. Y en caso de su negative seguire genuineness and authenticity of the letters annexed to the
ocupando el solar bajo el pago de un alquiler mensual de complaint, but traversing some of the allegations therein,
Quinientos pesos (P500.00) debido al negocio reinante en raised the defenses of lack of jurisdiction of the court over the
estos dias, tal como esta dispuesto en el contrato de case, and lack of cause of action for unlawful detainer.
arrendamiento firmado por Vd. y yo el dia 31 de Enero de
After a trial, decision was rendered ordering the defendant to
1949." (Exhibit H.)
vacate the premises, to pay the plaintiff the sum of P600.00 as
On February 4, 1959, the lessor made demand on the lessee to monthly rent from February 1, 1959, and P500.00 as attorney's
vacate the premises — fees.

... for the reason that the lease contract had expired on January The defendant appealed from the decision to the Court of First
31, 1959, ... and the lessor had waived the right to exercise the Instance of Zamboanga City. Before this Court, the defendant
option granted her under paragraph "7" of said contract, ... again raised the special defenses of lack of jurisdiction of the
(Exhibit I.) municipal court and lack of cause of action for unlawful
detainer. Ruling on the issue of lack of jurisdiction, the court
On February 16, 1959, the lessee sent his check for P500.00 to
said:
the lessor in payment of the monthly rental corresponding to
the month of February, 1959. (See Exhibit J.) With reference to the contention of defendant that the
municipal court had no jurisdiction to try this case because the
On February 19, 1959, the lessor returned to the lessee the
interpretation, application and enforcement of the terms of
check which the latter had sent to the former, stating further
the Lease Agreement is within the competence of a court
in the letter that she was demanding that the leased premises
higher than that of the municipal court, deserves hardly any
be vacated, if he (lessor) would not agree to pay the new rental
discussion. Suffice it to say that the jurisdiction of the
of P600.00 or P700.00 a month beginning February 1, 1959, as
municipal court is grounded on Section 88 of the Judiciary Act
embodied in the letter, Exhibit J, hereinabove quoted.
of 1948.
Disregarding the written demand of the lessor, dated February
After a trial, the Court of First Instance rendered judgment
19, 1959, Exhibit J, the lessee chose to remain in the possession
ordering the defendant to vacate the premises, to pay the
of the leased premises and insisted that the contract of lease
plaintiff the sum of P1,200.00 from February 1, 1959, as
stipulated an automatic renewal of the lease, and conformably
monthly rental of the land, and P2,000.00 as attorney's fees.
thereto, he has a right to continue occupying the premises; and
as token of his decision, he sent to the lessor his check for From the foregoing decision, the defendant interposed a direct
P500.00 in payment of the monthly rent corresponding to the appeal to this Court. Therefore, only questions of law may be
month of February 1959. The lessor was undoubtedly not considered in this appeal.
satisfied with the tendered amount of P500.00, because she
Among the four errors assigned by the appellant in his brief,
had demanded P600.00 or P700.00, as new monthly rent as a
the first two pose the issue of lack of jurisdiction of the
condition for the renewal of the lease. And without any
municipal Court and of the lack of cause of action for unlawful
further definite demand on the lessee to vacate the premises
detainer; the remaining errors delving on questions of fact
filed, on March 10, 1959, a complaint of unlawful detainer in
which, by reason of the nature of the appeal are, therefore,
the municipal court of Zamboanga City against the lessee,
deemed admitted and may not be reviewed in this appeal.
Juanito Chan, to eject the latter from the leased premises. The
facts alleged in the complaint as cause of action, consisted in In relation to the issue of lack of jurisdiction of the municipal
reproducing and reiterating the substance of the court over the case, it is to be noted that, after the lessor and
correspondence exchanged between lessor and lessee, as the lessee had failed to agree on the renewal of the lease
narrated above, and claiming that the possession of the lessee which terminated on January 31, 1959, the lessor, on February
of the premises had become illegal by his failure and refusal to 19, 1959, sent the demand letter hereinabove quoted, Exhibit
pay the increased new rental. For relief, the plaintiff prayed J. It was, then, as it is now, the contention of the lessee that
that the defendant be ordered to vacate the premises, and "TO such demand is not that kind of demand contemplated in the
PAY THE NEW RENTS DEMANDED OF P600.00 or P700.00 Rules of Court as complying with the jurisdictional requirement
FROM FEBRUARY 1, 1959 MONTHLY AS THE CASE MAY BE." — that demand to vacate is indispensable in order to
Attached to the complaint, as annexes thereto, were copies of determine whether the tenant's possession has become
the letters exchanged between the lessor and the lessee, illegal. On this matter, the rulings in the following cases are
Exhibits B to J. pertinent and applicable:
20
The notice giving lessee the alternative either to pay the contract of lease, a matter outside the jurisdiction of the
increased rental or otherwise to vacate the land is not the municipal court. The lessor-appellee maintains that the lease
demand contemplated by the Rules of Court in unlawful had terminated on January 31, 1959, renewable only upon a
detainer cases. When after such notice, the lessee elects to new agreement of the parties; on the other hand, the lessee-
stay, he thereby merely assumes the new rental and cannot be appellant contends that, inasmuch as the controversy hinges
ejected until he defaults in said obligation and necessary on the interpretation of clause "7" of the contract, that is,
demand is first made. (Manotok vs. Guinto, L-9540, April 30, whether or not said clause contemplated an automatic
1957.) renewal of the lease, the action was not for unlawful detainer
but one not capable of pecuniary estimation and, therefore,
The lessor may, under Article 1569 of the Civil Code, judicially
beyond the competence of the municipal court.
disposses the lessee for default in the payment of the price
agreed upon. But where such default is based on the fact that The contention of the lessee-appellant must be sustained.
the rent sought to be collected is not that agreed upon, an
In Cruz vs. Alberto, 39 Phil. 991, the contract of lease had the
action for ejectment cannot lie. (Belmonte vs. Martin, 42 Off.
following provision:
Gaz. No. 10, 2146.)
That the term of this contract of lease shall be six years from
In the case at bar, it clearly appears from the demand letter of
the date of the execution, and extendible for another six years
February 19, 1959, that the obligation to vacate the leased
agreed upon by both parties.
premises would be dependent on the failure of the lessee to
agree to the new rent demanded by the lessor. As the lessee, It was contended by the lessor that the lease cannot be
however, was in the physical possession of the land by virtue extended except upon mutual agreement. Ruling on the
of a prior contract of lease, and the demand was in the contention, the Supreme Court said:
alternative imposing a new rental, even without taking into
account the efficacy of the stipulation for an automatic We are of the opinion that the trial judge was entirely correct
renewal of the lease, which shall be discussed hereafter, in the in his interpretation of the contracts in question; and though it
light of the ruling in Belmonte vs. Martin, supra, without any must be admitted that this interpretation renders the words
subsequent definite demand to vacate the premises, subject "agreed upon by both parties" superfluous yet this does not
to no condition, the lessee did not incur in default which would involve any strain upon the meaning of the entire passage. If
give rise to a right on the part of the lessor to bring an action the interpretation which the appellant would have us adopt be
of unlawful detainer. true, the entire clause relative to the extension of the term
would be superfluous, for if the extension is only to be
Delving on the second special defense to wit, that the effective upon a new agreement of the parties to be made at
allegations in the complaint do not constitute a cause of action the expiration of the original term, why should anything at all
of unlawful detainer, it is the contention of the lessee- be said about an extension? Parties who are free to make one
appellant that clause "7" of the contract of lease, quoted contract of lease are certainly free to make a new one when
hereinabove, meant an express grant to the lessee to renew the old has expired without being reminded of their faculty to
the lease at his option, contrary to the claim of the lessor- do so by the insertion of a clause of this kind in the first lease.
appellee that there must be a prior mutual agreement of the This would not only be superfluous but nonsensical. The clause
parties. As we read clause "7", We find that it envisioned the relative to the extension of the lease should, if possible, be so
happening of two eventualities at the expiration of the lease interpreted as to give it some force.
on January 31, 1959 — either the lessor may purchase the
improvements constructed by the lessee on the land, or in case As we interpret the contracts before us, the parties meant to
the lessor fails, for any cause or reason, to exercise the option express the fact that they had already agreed that there might
to buy, the lease shall be deemed automatically renewed. The be an extension of the lease and had agreed upon its duration,
evidence has established that the lessor had refused to buy the thus giving the defendant the right of election to take for a
buildings on the land. The statement in said clause "7" that in second term or to quit upon the expiration of the original term.
case of renewal the duration of the lease and the new rental The clause in question has the same meaning as if the words
to be paid shall be adjusted by the parties, is of no moment in "agreed upon by both parties" had been omitted and the
the solution of the issue, whether or not the facts alleged in passage had closed with a period after the word "years" in the
the complaint constitute a cause of action of unlawful first contract and after "extension" in the third contract.
detainer. The pleadings of the parties, and the annexes
It has been held by this court that the word "extendible"
thereto, clearly show that the jugular vein of the controversy
standing without qualification in a contract of lease, means
hinges on the correct interpretation of clause "7" of the
that the term of the lease may be extended and is equivalent
21
to a promise to extend, made by the lessor to the lessee, and, conceded by the lessor because he consented thereto in the
as unilateral stipulation, obliges the promisor to fulfill his original contract.
promise. (Legarda Koh vs. Ongsiako, 36 Phil. Rep. 185). Such a
UPON THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, We declare that the
stipulation is supported by the consideration which is at the
municipal court (now city court) of Zamboanga City had no
basis of the contract of lease (16 R.C.L. pp. 883, 884) and
jurisdiction over the case; therefore, the appealed decision is
obviously involves a mutuality of benefit, or reciprocity,
set aside and reversed, with costs against the plaintiff-
between the parties, notwithstanding the right of election is
appellee.
conceded solely to the lessee. As a general rule, in construing
provisions of this character, the tenant is favored, where there
is any uncertainty, and not the landlord, upon the principle
that a grant should be taken most strongly against the grantor.
(15 R.C.L. p. 884, 24 Cyc. 915.)

In the case of Legarda Koh vs. Ongsiaco, 36 Phil. 189-190, the


contract of lease had this provision:

The term of the said contract shall be for one year, counting
from the 1st of December of the present year (1963) which
term shall be extendible at the will of both parties.

Said the Supreme Court: According to Article 1091 of the Civil


Code, obligations arising from contracts have legal force
between the contracting parties and must be fulfilled in
accordance with their stipulation. Therefore, if the defendant
bound himself to lease his properties for the period of one
year, which term should be extendible, it is evident and strictly
in accord with justice that the plaintiff-lessee has a right, at the
termination of the first period of one year, to have the said
contract of lease renewed in fulfillment of the stipulated
extension of the term of the lease; otherwise, the clause
contained in the document Exhibit 1, that the lease at its
termination would be extendible, would be worthless.

The defendant-appellant is wrong in his contention that the


renewal or extension of the contract depended solely upon
himself, notwithstanding the stipulations contained in said
contract, inasmuch as the renewal and continuation of the
lease could not be left wholly to the plaintiff's free will, without
counting on the defendant's consent — a consent expressly
granted in the promise that the term would be extended,
which term, although its duration was not fixed, should be
understood to be for another year, a period equal to and not
greater than the term of the lease.

When a contract of lease provides that the term thereof is


extendible, the agreement is understood as being in favor of
the lessee, and the latter is authorized to renew the contract
and to continue to occupy the leased property, after notifying
the lessor to that effect. The lessor can withdraw from the said
contract only after having fulfilled his promise to grant the
extension of time stipulated therein, unless the lessee has
failed to comply with or has violated the conditions of the
contract. It is not necessary that the extension be expressly

22
EDITHA PADLAN, Petitioner, v. ELENITA DINGLASAN and On April 5, 2001, Charlie Padlan, the brother of petitioner,
FELICISIMO DINGLASAN, Respondents. PERALTA, J.: testified that his sister is still in Japan and submitted a copy of
petitioner's passport and an envelope of a letter that was
This is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the
allegedly sent by his sister. Nevertheless, on April 5, 2001, the
Decision1 dated June 29, 2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
RTC issued an Order6 denying petitioner's motion to dismiss
CA-G.R. CV No. 86983, and the Resolution2 dated October 23,
and declared her in default. Thereafter, trial ensued.
2007 denying petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.
On July 1, 2005, the RTC rendered a Decision7 finding
The factual and procedural antecedents are as follows: Elenita
petitioner to be a buyer in good faith and, consequently,
Dinglasan (Elenita) was the registered owner of a parcel of land
dismissed the complaint.
designated as Lot No. 625 of the Limay Cadastre which is
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-105602, Not satisfied, respondents sought recourse before the CA,
with an aggregate area of 82,972 square meters. While on docketed as CA-G.R. NO. CV No. 86983.
board a jeepney, Elenita's mother, Lilia Baluyot (Lilia), had a
On June 29, 2007, the CA rendered a Decision8 in favor of the
conversation with one Maura Passion (Maura) regarding the
respondent. Consequently, the CA reversed and set aside the
sale of the said property. Believing that Maura was a real
Decision of the RTC and ordered the cancellation of the TCT
estate agent, Lilia borrowed the owner's copy of the TCT from
issued in the name of Lorna and the petitioner, and the revival
Elenita and gave it to Maura. Maura then subdivided the
of respondents' own title, to wit:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
property into several lots from Lot No. 625-A to Lot No. 625-O,
under the name of Elenita and her husband Felicisimo WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated July
Dinglasan (Felicisimo).
1, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Third Judicial Region,
Through a falsified deed of sale bearing the forged signature of Branch 4, Mariveles, Bataan (Stationed in Balanga, Bataan) in
Elenita and her husband Felicisimo, Maura was able to sell the Civil Case No. 438-ML is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
lots to different buyers. On April 26, 1990, Maura sold Lot No.
625-K to one Lorna Ong (Lorna), who later caused the issuance The Transfer Certificate of Title No. 134932 issued in the name
of TCT No. 134932 for the subject property under her name. A of Lorna Ong and Transfer Certificate of Title No. 137466
few months later, or sometime in August 1990, Lorna sold the issued in the name of defendant-appellee Editha Padlan are
lot to petitioner Editha Padlan for P4,000.00. Thus, TCT No. CANCELLED and Transfer Certificate of Title No. 134785 in the
134932 was cancelled and TCT No. 137466 was issued in the name of the plaintiffs-appellants is REVIVED. SO ORDERED
name of petitioner.
The CA found that petitioner purchased the property in bad
After learning what had happened, respondents demanded faith from Lorna. The CA opined that although a purchaser is
petitioner to surrender possession of Lot No. 625-K, but the not expected to go beyond the title, based on the
latter refused. Respondents were then forced to file a case circumstances surrounding the sale, petitioner should have
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Balanga, Bataan for the conducted further inquiry before buying the disputed
Cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 137466, property. The fact that Lorna bought a 5,000-square-meter
docketed as Civil Case No. 438-ML. Summons was, thereafter, property for only P4,000.00 and selling it after four months for
served to petitioner through her mother, Anita Padlan. the same amount should have put petitioner on guard. With
the submission of the Judgment in Criminal Case No. 4326
On December 13, 1999, respondents moved to declare rendered by the RTC, Branch 2, Balanga, Bataan, entitled
petitioner in default and prayed that they be allowed to People of the Philippines v. Maura Passion10 and the
present evidence ex parte.4chanroblesvirtualawlibrary testimonies of respondents, the CA concluded that
respondents sufficiently established that TCT No. 134932
On January 17, 2000, petitioner, through counsel, filed an
issued in the name of Lorna and TCT No. 137466 issued in the
Opposition to Declare Defendant in Default with Motion to
name of petitioner were fraudulently issued and, therefore,
Dismiss Case for Lack of Jurisdiction Over the Person of
null and void.
Defendant.5 Petitioner claimed that the court did not acquire
jurisdiction over her, because the summons was not validly Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration.
served upon her person, but only by means of substituted Petitioner argued that not only did the complaint lacks merit,
service through her mother. Petitioner maintained that she the lower court failed to acquire jurisdiction over the subject
has long been residing in Japan after she married a Japanese matter of the case and the person of the petitioner.
national and only comes to the Philippines for a brief vacation
once every two years. On October 23, 2007, the CA issued a Resolution11 denying the
motion. The CA concluded that the rationale for the exception
23
made in the landmark case of Tijam v. Sibonghanoy 12 was Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts,
present in the case. It reasoned that when the RTC denied amending for the purpose BP Blg. 129.
petitioner's motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction,
Section 1 of RA 7691, amending BP Blg. 129, provides that the
petitioner neither moved for a reconsideration of the order
RTC shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction on the
nor did she avail of any remedy provided by the Rules. Instead,
following actions:
she kept silent and only became interested in the case again
when the CA rendered a decision adverse to her claim. Section 1. Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise
known as the "Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980," is hereby
Hence, the petition assigning the following errors:
amended to read as follows:
I.WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT HAS
Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts shall
JURISDICTION OVER THE PERSON OF THE PETITIONER.
exercise exclusive original
II.WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT HAS jurisdiction:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE CASE.
(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is
III.WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER IS A BUYER IN GOOD FAITH incapable of pecuniary estimation;cralawlibrary
AND FOR VALUE.13chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
(2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession
Petitioner maintains that the case of Tijam v. Sibonghanoy of, real property, or any interest therein, where the assessed
finds no application in the case at bar, since the said case is not value of the property involved exceeds Twenty Thousand
on all fours with the present case. Unlike in Tijam, wherein the Pesos (P20,000.00) or for civil actions in Metro Manila, where
petitioner therein actively participated in the proceedings, such value exceeds Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00), except
petitioner herein asserts that she did not participate in any actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or
proceedings before the RTC because she was declared in buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon the
default. Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts; x x x
Petitioner insists that summons was not validly served upon
her, considering that at the time summons was served, she was Section 3 of RA 7691 expanded the exclusive original
residing in Japan. Petitioner contends that pursuant to Section jurisdiction of the first level courts, thus: Section 3. Section 33
15, Rule 14 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, when the defendant of the same law BP Blg. 129 is hereby amended to read as
does not reside in the Philippines and the subject of the action follows:
is property within the Philippines of the defendant, service
Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal
may be effected out of the Philippines by personal service or
Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Civil Cases.
by publication in a newspaper of general circulation. In this
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and
case, summons was served only by substituted service to her
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
mother. Hence, the court did not acquire jurisdiction over her
person. (3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which
involve title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest
Also, petitioner posits that the court lacks jurisdiction of the
therein where the assessed value of the property or interest
subject matter, considering that from the complaint, it can be
therein does not exceed Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00)
inferred that the value of the property was only P4,000.00,
or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value
which was the amount alleged by respondents that the
does not exceed Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive
property was sold to petitioner by Lorna.
of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees,
Finally, petitioner stresses that she was a buyer in good faith. litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That in cases of land
It was Maura who defrauded the respondents by selling the not declared for taxation purposes, the value of such property
property to Lorna without their authority. shall be determined by the assessed value of the adjacent lots.

Respondents, on the other hand, argue that the CA was correct Respondents filed their Complaint with the RTC; hence, before
in ruling in their favor. The petition is meritorious. proceeding any further with any other issues raised by the
petitioner, it is essential to ascertain whether the RTC has
Respondents filed the complaint in 1999, at the time Batas
jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case based on the
Pambansa Blg. (BP) 129, the Judiciary Reorganization Act of
above-quoted provisions.
1980, was already amended by Republic Act (RA) No. 7691, An
Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts,

24
However, in order to determine which court has jurisdiction the Torrens system of registration issued by the government
over the action, an examination of the complaint is essential. through the Register of Deeds. While title is the claim, right or
Basic as a hornbook principle is that jurisdiction over the interest in real property, a certificate of title is the evidence of
subject matter of a case is conferred by law and determined by such claim.19chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
the allegations in the complaint which comprise a concise
In the present controversy, before the relief prayed for by the
statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiff's
respondents in their complaint can be granted, the issue of
cause of action. The nature of an action, as well as which court
who between the two contending parties has the valid title to
or body has jurisdiction over it, is determined based on the
the subject lot must first be determined before a
allegations contained in the complaint of the plaintiff,
determination of who between them is legally entitled to the
irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to
certificate of title covering the property in question.
recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein. The
averments in the complaint and the character of the relief From the Complaint, the case filed by respondent is not simply
sought are the ones to be consulted. Once vested by the a case for the cancellation of a particular certificate of title and
allegations in the complaint, jurisdiction also remains vested the revival of another. The determination of such issue merely
irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to follows after a court of competent jurisdiction shall have first
recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein.15 resolved the matter of who between the conflicting parties is
the lawful owner of the subject property and ultimately
What determines the jurisdiction of the court is the nature of
entitled to its possession and enjoyment. The action is,
the action pleaded as appearing from the allegations in the
therefore, about ascertaining which of these parties is the
complaint. The averments therein and the character of the
lawful owner of the subject lot, jurisdiction over which is
relief sought are the ones to be
16 determined by the assessed value of such lot.
consulted. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
In no uncertain terms, the Court has already held that a
Respondents' Complaint17 narrates that they are the duly
complaint must allege the assessed value of the real property
registered owners of Lot No. 625 of the Limay Cadastre which
subject of the complaint or the interest thereon to determine
was covered by TCT No. T-105602. Without their knowledge
which court has jurisdiction over the action.21 In the case at
and consent, the land was divided into several lots under their
bar, the only basis of valuation of the subject property is the
names through the fraudulent manipulations of Maura. One of
value alleged in the complaint that the lot was sold by Lorna to
the lots was Lot 625-K, which was covered by TCT No. 134785.
petitioner in the amount of P4,000.00. No tax declaration was
On April 26, 1990, Maura sold the subject lot to Lorna. By virtue
even presented that would show the valuation of the subject
of the fictitious sale, TCT No. 134785 was cancelled and TCT
property. In fact, in one of the hearings, respondents' counsel
No. 134932 was issued in the name of Lorna. Sometime in
informed the court that they will present the tax declaration of
August 1990, Lorna sold the lot to petitioner for a
the property in the next hearing since they have not yet
consideration in the amount of P4,000.00. TCT No. 134932 was
obtained a copy from the Provincial Assessor's
later cancelled and TCT No. 137466 was issued in the name of
Office.22 However, they did not present such copy.
petitioner. Despite demands from the respondents, petitioner
refused to surrender possession of the subject property. To reiterate, where the ultimate objective of the plaintiffs is to
Respondents were thus constrained to engage the services of obtain title to real property, it should be filed in the proper
a lawyer and incur expenses for litigation. Respondents prayed court having jurisdiction over the assessed value of the
for the RTC (a) to declare TCT No. 137466 null and to revive property subject thereof.23Since the amount alleged in the
TCT No. T-105602 which was originally issued and registered in Complaint by respondents for the disputed lot is
the name of the respondents; and (b) to order petitioner to only P4,000.00, the MTC and not the RTC has jurisdiction over
pay attorney's fees in the sum of P50,000.00 and litigation the action. Therefore, all proceedings in the RTC are null and
expenses of P20,000.00, plus cost of void.24chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
suit.18chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Consequently, the remaining issues raised by petitioner need
An action "involving title to real property" means that the not be discussed further.
plaintiff's cause of action is based on a claim that he owns such
property or that he has the legal rights to have exclusive WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the
control, possession, enjoyment, or disposition of the same. Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 86983, dated June 29, 2007,
Title is the "legal link between (1) a person who owns property and its Resolution dated October 23, 2007, are REVERSED and
and (2) the property itself." "Title" is different from a SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court, dated July
"certificate of title" which is the document of ownership under I, 2005, is declared NULL and VOID. The complaint in Civil Case
No. 438-ML is dismissed without prejudice.
25
EDGARDO V. QUESADA, Petitioner, vs. THE DEPARTMENT OF Consequently, an Information for estafa against petitioner
JUSTICE and CLEMENTE TERUEL, Respondents. SANDOVAL- Quesada, Camacho, and Corgado was filed with the Regional
GUTIERREZ, J.: Trial Court (RTC), Mandaluyong City, docketed as Criminal Case
No. MC-00-2510. This case was later raffled off to Branch 208.
For our resolution is the Petition for Certiorari 1 (with prayer
for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary In the meantime, petitioner filed with the Department of
injunction) assailing the Resolutions dated January 17, 2001 Justice a Petition for Review challenging the April 25, 2000
and September 17, 2001 issued by the Secretary of Justice in Resolution of the Investigating Prosecutor. On January 17,
I.S. No. 00-29780-C, entitled "Clemente M. Teruel, 2001, the Secretary of Justice issued a Resolution 5dismissing
complainant, versus Ramon P. Camacho, Jr., Edgardo V. the petition. Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was
Quesada and Rodolfo Corgado, respondents." denied in a Resolution 6 dated September 17, 2001.

On March 1, 2000, Clemente M. Teruel, herein respondent, While the RTC was hearing Criminal Case No. MC-00-2510,
filed with the Office of the City Prosecutor, Mandaluyong City, petitioner filed with this Court the instant Petition
an affidavit-complaint 2 charging Edgardo V. Quesada (herein for Certiorari alleging that the Secretary of Justice, in
petitioner), Ramon P. Camacho, Jr., and Rodolfo Corgado with dismissing his Petition for Review in I.S. No. 00-29780-C, acted
the crime of estafa under Article 315, paragraphs 2 and 3 of with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
the Revised Penal Code, docketed as I.S. No. 00-29780-C. The jurisdiction. Petitioner contends that the element of fraud or
affidavit-complaint alleges that on June 13, 1998 at Shangrila deceit in the crime of estafa is not present 7 and that there is
Plaza Hotel, EDSA, Mandaluyong City, Quesada, Camacho, and no evidence which will prove that the accused’s promise to
Corgado represented themselves to Teruel as the president, deliver the purchased items was false or made in bad faith. 8
vice-president/treasurer, and managing director, respectively,
The Solicitor General, in his Comment, maintains that the
of VSH Group Corporation; that they offered to him a
Secretary of Justice, in finding a probable cause against the
telecommunication device called Star Consultant Equipment
three accused, did not act with grave abuse of discretion and
Package which provides the user easy access to the internet via
prayed for the dismissal of the instant petition for being
television; that they assured him that after he pays the
unmeritorious.
purchase price of P65,000.00, they will immediately deliver to
him two units of the internet access device; that relying on Initially, we observe that the present petition was directly filed
their representations, he paid them P65,000.00 for the two with this Court, in utter violation of the rule on hierarchy of
units; and that despite demands, they, did not deliver to him courts.
the units.
A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
It was only petitioner Quesada who filed a counter- Procedure, as amended, must be filed with the Court of
affidavit. 3 He alleged that he, Camacho, and Corgado are Star Appeals whose decision may then be appealed to this Court by
Consultant Trainers of F.O.M. Philippines, Inc., a corporation way of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
engaged in the business of selling and marketing same Rules. 9 A direct recourse to this Court is warranted only
telecommunication products and technologies; that they where there are special and compelling reasons specifically
formed the VSH Group as a corporation "for the principal alleged in the petition to justify such action. Such ladder of
purpose of pooling the commissions they will receive as Star appeals is in accordance with the rule on hierarchy of courts.
Consultant Trainers and then dividing said commissions among In Vergara, Sr. v. Suelto, 10 we stressed that this should be the
themselves according to their agreement"; that while he constant policy that must be observed strictly by the courts
admitted that the two units of internet access devices and lawyers, thus:
purchased by herein respondent Teruel were not delivered to
him, however, this was not due to their alleged fraudulent x x x. The Supreme Court is a court of last resort, and must so
representations since they merely acted as sales agents of remain if it is to satisfactorily perform the functions assigned
F.O.M. Phils., Inc.; and that they found out too late that the to it by the fundamental charter and immemorial tradition. It
said company could not cope with its commitment to them as cannot and should not be burdened with the task of dealing
it ran short of supplies of telecommunication products. with causes in the first instance. Its original jurisdiction to issue
the so-called extraordinary writs should be exercised only
On April 25, 2000, Assistant City Prosecutor Esteban A. Tacla, where absolutely necessary or where serious and important
Jr. issued a Resolution 4 finding probable cause against reasons exist therefor. Hence, that jurisdiction should
petitioner Quesada, Camacho, and Corgado, and generally be exercised relative to actions or proceedings
recommending the filing of the corresponding Information. before the Court of Appeals, or before constitutional or other
tribunals, bodies or agencies whose acts for some reason or
26
another are not controllable by the Court of Appeals. Where determination of which is better left to the trial court after the
the issuance of an extraordinary writ is also within the parties shall have adduced their respective evidence. It bears
competence of the Court of Appeals or a Regional Trial Court, stressing that a preliminary investigation is merely an inquiry
it is in either of these courts that the specific action for the or proceeding to determine whether there is sufficient ground
writ’s procurement must be presented. This is and should to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been
continue to be the policy in this regard, a policy that courts and committed and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof,
lawyers must strictly observe. (Underscoring supplied) and should be held for trial. 12 It does not call for the
application of rules and standards of proof that a judgment of
We later reaffirmed such policy in People v. Cuaresma 11 after
conviction requires after trial on the merits. 13 As implied by
noting that there is "a growing tendency on the part of litigants
the words "probably guilty," the inquiry is concerned merely
and lawyers to have their applications for the so-called
with probability, not absolute or moral certainty. 14 At this
extraordinary writs, and sometimes even their appeals, passed
stage, the complainant need not present proof beyond
upon and adjudicated directly and immediately by the highest
reasonable doubt. A preliminary investigation does not require
tribunal of the land." We again emphasized that:
a full and exhaustive presentation of the parties’ evidence. 15 A
x x x. This Court’s original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence
(as well as prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas showing that more likely than not, a crime has been committed
corpus and injunction) is not exclusive. x x x. It is also shared and was committed by petitioner and his co-accused. As ruled
by this Court, and by the Regional Trial Court, with the Court by the Investigating Prosecutor and affirmed by the Secretary
of Appeals x x x. This concurrence of jurisdiction is not, of Justice, petitioner’s representation and assurance to
however, to be taken as according to parties seeking any of the respondent Teruel that the telecommunication equipment
writs an absolute, unrestrained freedom of choice of the court would be delivered to him upon payment of its purchase price
to which application therefor will be directed. There is, after was the compelling reason why he parted with his money. Such
all, a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative of the assurance, the Investigating Prosecutor added, is actually a
venue of appeals, and should also serve as a general misrepresentation or deceit.
determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the
Thus, we hold that the Secretary of Justice did not gravely
extraordinary writs. A becoming regard for that judicial
abuse his discretion. An act of a court or tribunal may only be
hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the
considered as committed in grave abuse of discretion when
issuance of extraordinary writs against first level courts should
the same was performed in a capricious or whimsical exercise
be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the
of judgment which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The
latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of the
abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to
Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction to issue these writs
an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a
should be allowed only when there are special and important
duty enjoined by law or to act at all in contemplation of law, as
reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition.
where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic
This is established policy. It is a policy that is necessary to
manner by reason of passion or personal hostility. 16
prevent inordinate demands upon the Court’s time and
attention which are better devoted to those matters within its WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the instant petition. Costs against
exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of petitioner.
the Court’s docket. x x x. (Underscoring supplied)

Here, we cannot discern any special and compelling reason to


justify the direct filing with this Court of the present petition.
Clearly, it should be dismissed outright.

Even assuming that the petition can be filed directly with this
Court, the same must fail. Petitioner contends that the
element of fraud or deceit as an element of the crime of estafa
is absent. Consequently, the affirmance by the Secretary of
Justice of the Investigating Prosecutor’s finding that there
exists a probable cause is tainted with grave abuse of
discretion.

The issue of whether the element of fraud or deceit is present


is both a question of fact and a matter of defense, the

27
MILAGROS G. LUMBUAN,* Petitioner, vs. ALFREDO A. motion for reconsideration which is a prohibited pleading
RONQUILLO, Respondent. QUISUMBING, J.: under the Rules on Summary Procedure.

This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse and set Upon appeal, the case was raffled to the Regional Trial Court
aside the Decision1 dated April 12, 2002, of the Court of (RTC) of Manila, Branch 38, and docketed as Civil Case No. 98-
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 52436 and its Resolution2 dated 87311. On July 8, 1998, the RTC rendered its decision 9 setting
October 14, 2002, denying the petitioner’s motion for aside the MeTC decision. The RTC directed the parties to go
reconsideration. back to the Lupon Chairman or Punong Barangay for further
proceedings and to comply strictly with the condition that
The salient facts, as found by the Court of Appeals,3 are as
should the parties fail to reach an amicable settlement, the
follows:
entire records of the case will be remanded to MeTC of Manila,
Petitioner Milagros G. Lumbuan is the registered owner of Lot Branch 6, for it to decide the case anew.
19-A, Block 2844 with Transfer Certificate of Title No. 193264,
The respondent sought reconsideration but the RTC denied the
located in Gagalangin, Tondo, Manila. On February 20, 1995,
motion in an Order dated March 15, 1999. Thus, he sought
she leased it to respondent Alfredo A. Ronquillo for a period of
relief from the Court of Appeals through a petition for
three years with a monthly rental of P5,000. The parties also
review.10 On April 12, 2002, the appellate court promulgated a
agreed that there will be a 10% annual increase in rent for the
decision, reversing the decision of the RTC and ordering the
succeeding two years, i.e., 1996 and 1997,4 and the leased
dismissal of the ejectment case. The appellate court ruled that
premises will be used exclusively for the respondent’s fastfood
when a complaint is prematurely instituted, as when the
business, unless any other use is given, with the petitioner’s
mandatory mediation and conciliation in the barangay level
prior written consent.5
had not been complied with, the court should dismiss the case
While the respondent at the start operated a fastfood and not just remand the records to the court of origin so that
business, he later used the premises as residence without the the parties may go through the prerequisite proceedings.
petitioner’s prior written consent. He also failed to pay the
The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, which was
10% annual increase in rent of P500/month starting 1996
denied by the appellate court. Hence, this present petition.
and P1,000/month in 1997 to the present. Despite repeated
verbal and written demands, the respondent refused to pay In the meantime, while this petition was pending before this
the arrears and vacate the leased premises. Court, the parties went through barangay conciliation
proceedings as directed by the RTC of Manila, Branch 38.
On November 15, 1997, the petitioner referred the matter to
Again, they failed to arrive at an amicable settlement
the Barangay Chairman’s office but the parties failed to arrive
prompting the RTC to issue an Order11 remanding the case to
at a settlement. The Barangay Chairman then issued a
the MeTC of Manila, Branch 6, where the proceedings took
Certificate to File Action.6
place anew. On April 25, 2000, the MeTC rendered a second
On December 8, 1997, the petitioner filed against the decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
respondent an action for Unlawful Detainer, docketed as Civil
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment on the merits is
Case No. 157922-CV. It was raffled to the Metropolitan Trial
hereby rendered for the plaintiff as follows:
Court (MeTC) of Manila, Branch 6. On December 15, 1997, the
respondent received the summons and copy of the complaint. 1. Ordering defendant and all persons claiming right of
On December 24, 1997, he filed his Answer by mail. Before the possession under him to voluntarily vacate the property
MeTC could receive the respondent’s Answer, the petitioner located at Lot 19-A Block 2844, Gagalangin, Tondo, Manila and
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment dated January 7, surrender possession thereof to the plaintiff;
1998.7 Acting upon this motion, the MeTC rendered a
2. Ordering defendant to pay to plaintiff the amount of
decision8 on January 15, 1998, ordering the respondent to
P387,512.00 as actual damages in the form of unpaid rentals
vacate and surrender possession of the leased premises; to pay
and its agreed increase up to January 2000 and to pay the
the petitioner the amount of P46,000 as unpaid rentals with
amount of P6,500.00 a month thereafter until the same is
legal interest until fully paid; and to pay the petitioner P5,000
actually vacated;
as attorney’s fees plus cost of the suit.
3. Ordering the defendant to pay to plaintiff the sum of
The respondent then filed a Manifestation calling the attention
P10,000.00 as and for attorney’s fees plus cost of the suit.
of the MeTC to the fact that his Answer was filed on time and
praying that the decision be set aside. The MeTC denied the SO ORDERED.12
prayer, ruling that the Manifestation was in the nature of a
28
The respondent appealed the foregoing proved futile as no agreement was reached. Although
decision.1avvphil.net The case was raffled to RTC of Manila, no pangkat was formed, in our mind, there was substantial
Branch 22, and docketed as Civil Case No. 00-98173. The RTC compliance with the law. It is noteworthy that under the
ruled in favor of the petitioner and dismissed the appeal. The aforequoted provision, the confrontation before
respondent elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, where the Lupon Chairman or the pangkat is sufficient compliance
it is now pending. with the precondition for filing the case in court. 17 This is true
notwithstanding the mandate of Section 410(b) of the same
The sole issue for our resolution is:
law that the Barangay Chairman shall constitute a pangkat if
[WHETHER] THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN he fails in his mediation efforts. Section 410(b) should be
DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT FOR THE ALLEGED FAILURE OF construed together with Section 412, as well as the
THE PARTIES TO COMPLY WITH THE MANDATORY MEDIATION circumstances obtaining in and peculiar to the case. On this
AND CONCILIATION PROCEEDINGS IN THE BARANGAY LEVEL.13 score, it is significant that the Barangay Chairman
or Punong Barangay is herself the Chairman of the Lupon
With the parties’ subsequent meeting with the Lupon under the Local Government Code.18
Chairman or Punong Barangay for further conciliation
proceedings, the procedural defect was cured. Nevertheless, if Finally, this Court is aware that the resolution of the
only to clear any lingering doubt why the Court of Appeals substantial issues in this case is pending with the Court of
erred in dismissing the complaint, we shall delve on the issue. Appeals. While ordinarily, we would have determined the
validity of the parties’ substantial claims since to await the
The petitioner alleges that the parties have gone through appellate court’s decision will only frustrate speedy justice
barangay conciliation proceedings to settle their dispute as and, in any event, would be a futile exercise, as in all
shown by the Certificate to File Action issued by the probability the case would end up with this Court, we find that
Lupon/Pangkat Secretary and attested by the Lupon/Pangkat we cannot do so in the instant case.
Chairman. The respondent, on the other hand, contends that
whether there was defective compliance or no compliance at It must be underscored that supervening events have taken
all with the required conciliation, the case should have been place before the lower courts where the parties have been
dismissed. adequately heard, and all the issues have been ventilated.
Since the records of those proceedings are with the Court of
The primordial objective of the Katarungang Appeals, it is in a better position to fully adjudicate the rights
Pambarangay Rules,14 is to reduce the number of court of the parties. To rely on the records before this Court would
litigations and prevent the deterioration of the quality of prevent us from rendering a sound judgment in this case. Thus,
justice which has been brought about by the indiscriminate we are left with no alternative but to leave the matter of ruling
filing of cases in the courts. To attain this objective, Section on the merits to the appellate court.
412(a) of Republic Act No. 716015 requires the parties to
undergo a conciliation process before the Lupon Chairman or WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision and
the Pangkat as a precondition to filing a complaint in resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 52436
court,16thus: are REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the decision of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 38, in Civil Case No. 98-87311
SECTION 412. Conciliation. – (a) Pre-condition to Filing of is AFFIRMED.
Complaint in Court. – No complaint, petition, action, or
proceeding involving any matter within the authority of the The Court of Appeals is ordered to proceed with the appeal in
lupon shall be filed or instituted directly in court or any other CA – G.R. No. 73453 and decide the case with dispatch.SO
government office for adjudication, unless there has been a ORDERED.
confrontation between the parties before the lupon chairman
or the pangkat, and that no conciliation or settlement has been
reached as certified by the lupon secretary or pangkat
secretary as attested to by the lupon or pangkat chairman….

Here, the Lupon/Pangkat Chairman and Lupon/Pangkat


Secretary signed the Certificate to File Action stating that no
settlement was reached by the parties. While admittedly
no pangkat was constituted, it was not denied that the parties
met at the office of the Barangay Chairman for possible
settlement. The efforts of the Barangay Chairman, however,
29
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ULYSSES one another, did then and there, by means of treachery and
M. CAWALING, ERNESTO TUMBAGAHAN, RICARDO DE LOS with evident premeditation and taking advantage of their
SANTOS, and HILARIO CAJILO, accused- superior strenght [sic] willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
appellants.PANGANIBAN, J.: attack, assault and shoot RONIE ILISAN, with the use of
firearms, inflicting upon the latter multiple mortal injuries in
It is axiomatic that once an accused-appellant admits killing the
different parts of his body which were the direct and
victim, he bears the burden of establishing the presence of any
immediate cause of his death.
circumstance like self-defense, performance of a lawful duty
or, for that matter, double jeopardy, which may relieve him of Accused Tumbagahan, De los Santos, Cajilo and Fontamillas,
responsibility, or which may mitigate his criminal liability. [1] If with the assistance of their lawyers Atty. Abelardo V. Calsado
he fails to discharge this burden, his conviction becomes and Juanito Dimaano, pleaded not guilty when arraigned on
inevitable. In this Decision, we also reiterate the following February 15, 1988;[12] while Accused Cawaling, assisted by
doctrines: (1) the regional trial court, not the Sandiganbayan, Counsel Jovencio Q. Mayor, entered a plea of not guilty on
has jurisdiction over informations for murder committed by March 16, 1988.[13]
public officers, including a town mayor; (2) the assessment of
After due trial,[14] the court a quo[15] rendered its Decision
trial courts on the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies
dated October 21, 1994,[16] the decretal portion of which
deserve great respect; (3) the equipoise rule cannot be invoked
reads:
where the evidence of the prosecution is overwhelming; (4)
alibi cannot be believed in the face of credible testimony WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused (1) ULYSSES M.
identifying the appellants; and (5) conspiracy may be proven CAWALING, (2) ERNESTO TUMBAGAHAN, (3) RICARDO DELOS
by circumstantial evidence. SANTOS, (4) HILARIO CAJILO, AND (5) ANDRES FONTAMILLAS
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER
The Case
under the Information, dated June 4, 1987, and sentences each
Before us is an appeal from the 34-page Decision[2] dated of them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, with the
October 21, 1994, promulgated by the Regional Trial Court of accessory penalties of the law.
Romblon in Criminal Case No. OD-269. Convicted of
The accused, jointly and severally, are ORDERED to pay Nelson
murder were former Mayor Ulysses M. Cawaling and
Elisan the sum of P6,000.00 as actual damages and the heirs of
Policemen Ernesto Tumbagahan,[3] Ricardo De los Santos and
the deceased Ronie Elisan the sums of P116,666.66 by way of
Hilario Cajilo.
lost earnings and P50,000.00 as indemnity for death, without
Prior to the institution of the criminal case against all the subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the
appellants, an administrative case[4] had been filed before the costs.
National Police Commission, in which Policemen Ernesto
The bail bonds of all the accused are ORDERED CANCELLED and
Tumbagahan, Ricardo De los Santos, Hilario Cajilo (three of
all said accused are ORDERED immediately confined in jail.
herein appellants) and Andres Fontamillas were charged by
Nelson Ilisan[5] with the killing of his brother Ronie[6] Ilisan. On The slug (Exh. A); the .38 caliber revolver (with 3 empty shells
April 6, 1986, Adjudication Board No. 14[7] rendered its and 3 live bullets) (Exh. G); and the slug of bullet (Exh. H) are
Decision which found Tumbagahan, De los Santos, Cajilo and confiscated in favor of the government.
Fontamillas guilty of grave misconduct and ordered their
dismissal from the service with prejudice.[8] On June 26, 1986, After the judgment has become final, the Officer-in-Charge,
the Board issued a resolution,[9] dismissing the respondents Office of the Clerk of Court, this Court, is ordered to deliver and
motion for reconsideration for lack of merit. deposit the foregoing Exhibits A, F, G and H, inclusive, to the
Provincial Director, PNP, of the Province of Romblon properly
Subsequently, on June 4, 1987, Second Assistant Provincial receipted. Thereafter, the receipt must be attached to the
Fiscal Alexander Mortel filed, before the Regional Trial Court record of the case and shall form part of the record.
(RTC) of Odiongan, Romblon,[10] an Information for
murder[11]against the appellants and Andres Fontamillas. The The period of preventive imprisonment the accused had
accusatory portion reads: undergone shall be credited in their favor to its full extent
pursuant to Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.
That on or about the 4th day of December 1982, at around 9:00
oclock in the evening, in the Poblacion, [M]unicipality of San The case against co-accused ALEX BATUIGAS who is at large is
Jose, [P]rovince of Romblon, Philippines, and within the ORDERED ARCHIVED pending his arrest.[17]
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, with
Hence, this appeal.[18]
intent to kill, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping
30
The Facts After a while, brothers Nelson and Vicente Elisan went to the
house of barangay captain Aldolfo Tumbagahon. The three (3)
Version of the Prosecution
went to the townhall and called the police but there was none
The trial court gives this summary of the facts as viewed by the there. Going to the house of the Chief of Police Oscar Montero,
prosecution witnesses: they were told by his wife that Commander Montero was in
the house of Mayor Cawaling. They proceeded to the place
The killing occurred on December 4, 1982 at around 9:00 where Ronie Elisan was shot. The cadaver was brought to the
oclock in the evening at the ricefield of Poblacion, San Jose, house of Nelson Elisan. Vicente Elisan found an empty shell of
Romblon when the bright moon was already above the sea at a .45 caliber about three (3) arms length from the body of the
an angle of about 45 degrees, or if it was daytime, it was about victim. They surrendered it to the Napolcom.[19]
9:00 oclock in the morning (Imelda Elisan Tumbagahon, on
direct examination, tsn, Jan. 17, 1989, p. 5, and on cross Dr. Blandino C. Flores described the gunshot wounds of the
examination, tsn, April 18, 1989, p. 22). victim as follows:

On December 4, 1982, about 8:00 oclock or 8:30 oclock in the Gunshot Wounds:
evening, Vicente Elisan and his elder brother Ronie Elisan, the
1. Shoulder:
victim, were drinking tuba at C & J-4 Kitchenette of co-accused
Andres Fontamillas in Poblacion, San Jose, Romblon. When Gun shot wound x inch in diameter shoulder right 2 inches
they stood up to go home, Luz Venus, the wife of Diosdado from the neck with contussion [sic] collar s[u]rrounding the
Venus, told them not to go out because the accused were wound.
watching them outside about three (3) meters from the
2. Right Axilla:
restaurant. Diosdado Venus accompanied them upon their
request and they went out and walked towards home. About Gun shot wound x inch in diameter, 2 inches below the right
a hundred meters from the restaurant, the six (6) accused, that nipple with contussion [sic] collar s[u]rrounding the wound.
is, Mayor Cawaling, the four (4) policemen, namely, Hilario
Cajilo, Andres Fontamillas, Ernesto Tumbagahan and Ricardo 3. Left Axilla:
delos Santos, and civilian Alex Batuigas, the mayors brother-in-
Exit of the gun shot wound from the right axilla, measuring x
law, flashlighted them and Diosdado Venus ran going
inch with edges everted, one inch below the axilla and one inch
back. The two (2) brothers also ran towards home to the house
below the level of the nipple.
of their elder sister Imelda Elisan Tumbagahon. Co-accused
Andres Fontamillas and Hilario Cajilo blocked them on the gate 4. Back:
of the fence of their sisters house. Ronie Elisan ran towards the
ricefield. The accused were chasing them. Vicente Elisan saw Gun shot wound measuring x inch, along the vertebral column,
his brother Ronie f[a]ll down on the ricefield while he ran right at the level of the 10th ribs with contussion [sic]collar.
towards the bushes and la[y] on the ground. Ronie Elisan rose 5. Leg, Left:
up by kneeling and raising his two (2) hands. All the six (6)
accused approached him with their flashlights and shot Gun shot wound measuring x anterior aspect upper third leg
him. Ronie fell down about twenty (20) meters from the with contussion [sic] collar, with the exit x posterior aspect
bushes where Vicente Elisan hid behind the coconut tree. Co- upper third leg, left.[20]
accused Cawaling said []you left him, he is already
Based on the death certificate (Exhibit E) issued by Dr. Flores,
dead.[] Mayor Cawaling was armed with .45 caliber, policemen
Ronie Ilisan died of severe hemorrhage and gun shot
Andres Fontamillas and Hilario Cajilo were both with armalites,
wo[unds].[21]
Ernesto Tumbagahan and Ricardo delos Santos were both with
.38 caliber and so with civilian Alex Batuigas. They left towards Version of the Defense
the house of Mayor Cawaling. After they were gone, Vicente
Elisan ran towards the house of his older brother Nelson Appellant Cawaling, in his 47-page Brief,[22] presented his own
Elisan. Upon seeing him, Vicente told Nelson that Ronie was narration of the incident as follows:
already dead. Nelson said nothing. While they were there, At around 7:00 in the evening of December 4, 1982, Ulysses
elder sister Imelda Elisan Tumbagahon, who was crying Cawaling, then the mayor of the [M]unicipality of San Jose in
came. She said: Manong, patay ron si Ronie. (Brother, Ronie is the [P]rovince of Romblon, arrived aboard a hired motorized
already dead). Nelson said []do not be noisy; they might come boat from Manila in the seashore of San Jose. From the
back and kill all of us.[] Imelda stopped crying. seashore, he immediately proceeded to his home. At around
7:30 in the evening, Cawaling went to the municipal hall to
31
check on administrative matters that piled up in the course of Nelson Ilisan in San Jose Street. At this point, they saw Ronnie
his trip to Manila. He also went inside the police station Ilisan holding a .38 caliber revolver. They also saw Vicente
(located inside the municipal building) to be apprised of Ilisan, Francisco Tesnado, Fe Ilisan, the wife of Nelson and
any developments, afterwhich he went out and joined Pfc. Delma Ilisan, the wife of Vicente, the latter two being the same
Tumbagahan and Pfc. Cajilo who were standing near the persons who cried pulis, tabang four times. Cawaling then told
flagpole in front of the municipal building. The three engaged Ronnie to surrender his gun but the latter responded by
in a conversation. Cawaling learned that the two police officers pointing the gun at Cawaling and pulling the trigger.
were the ones assigned for patrol/alert for that night. The
At the precise moment that the gun fired, Cawaling warned the
three of them went inside the INP office and there Cawaling
two policemen to drop to the ground by
informed the two policemen that he received information
shouting dapa. Fortunately, Cawaling was not hit. Ronnie
from reliable persons that certain persons were plotting to kill
Ilisan then turned around and ran towards the church. The two
him and a member of the towns police force. It is to be noted
policemen gave chase. Cawaling, still shaken and trembling
that this occurred at the height of the communist insurgency
after the mischance was initially left behind but followed
and political violence in the countryside in the early
shortly. When Ronnie Ilisan reached the church, he turned
80s. Hence, such information was taken very seriously, having
around and again fired at the pursuing Pfc. Cajilo. Fortunately,
been relayed by sources independent of each other.
the gun misfired. When they finally reached the ricefield, Pfc.
Cawaling, as town chief then empowered with supervisory Cajilo fired two (2) warning shots in the air for Ronnie to
authority over the local police, accompanied Pfc. Tumbagahan surrender. Ronnie responded by firing once again at Pfc.
and Pfc. Cajilo in conducting patrol and surveillance operations Tumbagahan but failed to hit the latter. At that instance, Pfc.
around the small municipality. He usually did this as routine Cajilo counter-fired at Ronnie Ilisan hitting him. Pfc.
since Romblon was then plagued with political assassinations Tumbagahan also fired his weapon in the heat of exchange and
and armed conflict. On their way to the seashore, they passed also hit Ronnie Ilisan. As a result of the gunshot wounds,
by C & J-4 Kitchenette, and chanced upon Ronnie Ilisan and his Ronnie Ilisan later on succumbed.
brother Vicente Ilisan drinking liquor and discussing in very
Pfc. Tumbagahan picked up the gun still in the hand of the
loud voices. They stopped right in the front of the restaurant
dead Ronnie Ilisan and gave it to Pfc. Cajilo. The three,
and there they heard Ronnie Ilisan state in a every loud voice
Cawaling, who subsequently caught up with them after the
that he will kill a person that night. Inside the restaurant,
incident, and the two police officers, then proceeded to the
without the knowledge then of Cawaling and the two police
police station located in the municipal building to formally
officers, witness Gil Palacio, who was buying cigarettes and Luz
report the incident in their station blotter.[23]
Venus, the cook/server of the restaurant, saw Ronnie Ilisan,
very drunk, brandishing in the air a .38 caliber Smith and The Brief for All of the Accused-Appellants filed by Atty.
Wesson revolver with a protruding screw. Napoleon U. Galit and the Brief for Appellants Ernesto
Tumbagahan and Hilario Cajilo submitted by Atty. Joselito R.
Initially dismissing Ronnie Ilisans statement as just another
Enriquez merely repeated the facts as narrated by the trial
hollow swagger of an intoxicated person (salitang lasing),
court.
Cawaling and the two policemen proceeded on their
way. After the patrol, they returned to the municipal building Ruling of the Trial Court
and stationed themselves in front. At around 8:30 in the
evening, Ronnie Elisan passed by the municipal hall walking Finding the prosecution witnesses and their testimonies
towards the direction of the house of Nelson Ilisan, another credible, the court a quo convicted the appellants. The killing
brother, and shouted the challenge, gawas ang maisog, was qualified to murder because of the aggravating
meaning THOSE WHO ARE BRAVE, COME OUT. Cawaling and circumstances of abuse of superior strength and
the two police officers again brushed aside [the] challenge as treachery. The trial court ruled that there was a notorious
just another foolish drunken revelry [o]n the part of Ronnie inequality of forces between the victim and his assailants, as
Ilisan, a well-known troublemaker in the small municipality. the latter were greater in number and armed with guns. It
further ruled that abuse of superior strength absorbed
A few moments later, after Ronie Ilisan had passed by, they treachery, as it ratiocinated:
distinctly heard a gunshot and hysterical female voices
shouting, pulis, tabang meaning POLICE! HELP! four Certain cases, an authority wrote, involving the killing of
times. Impelled by the call of duty, Cawaling and the two helpless victim by assailants superior to them in arms or
policemen immediately ran in the direction of the gunshot and numbers, or victims who were overpowered before being
the desperate female voices until they reached the house of killed, were decided on the theory that the killing was
treacherous, when perhaps the correct qualifying
32
circumstance would be abuse of superiority. In these cases the failure of the defense to object thereto at the time they were
attack was not sudden nor unexpected and the element of called to testify.
surprise was lacking. (Id., I Aquino, pp. 423-424). In the instant
8. The defense failed to prove that the prosecution witnesses
case, we earlier ruled that the qualifying treachery should be
had any ill motive to testify falsely against the appellant.
considered as an exception to the general rule on treachery
because it was not present at the inception of the attack. The 9. Appellants had a motive to kill the victim. Nelson Ilisan
killing was not sudden nor unexpected and the element of testified that his brother Ronie (the victim) had witnessed
surprise was lacking. It is for this reason that we hold that Bonifacio Buenaventura (a former chief commander of the San
alevosia should be deemed absorbed or included in abuse of Jose Police Force) kill a certain Ruben Ventura. Cawaling, who
superiority. Even assuming ex-gratia argumenti that it should was Buenaventuras first cousin, wanted Ronie dead, because
be the other way around, the situation will not be of help, the latter had not followed his instruction to leave town to
penaltywise, to the accused.[24] prevent him from testifying in said case.
The defenses raised by the appellants were dismissed and their Assignment of Errors
witnesses declared unworthy of belief for the following
reasons: The appellants, through their common counsel, Atty.
Napoleon Galit, assign the following errors to the lower court:
1. It was highly improbable that Defense Witness Tesnado
would not tell his wife (Dory) and Bebelinia Ilisan Sacapao 1. The trial court gravely erred in sustaining prosecutors theory
about the incident he had allegedly witnessed; more so when of conspiracy and thus renders nugatory or has totally
Sacapao was the victims first cousin. forgotten that policemen when in actual call of duty normally
operate in group but not necessarily in conspiracy.
2. The spot report prepared by Station Commander Oscar M.
Montero, the testimonies of Cajilo and Tumbagahan and the 2. The trial court gravely erred in believing the theory of the
medical findings of Dr. Flores contradicted one another on the prosecution that accused-appellant Ulysses Cawaling was one
following details: the caliber of the gun used in shooting the of the alleged co-conspirators in the killing of the deceased
victim, the wounds inflicted and the whereabouts of Cawaling Ronnie Elisan.
during the shoot-out.
3. The trial court gravely erred in not believing the defense of
3. Cawaling and his men, armed with guns, could have accused-appellant Ulysses Cawaling that he has nothing to do
immediately disarmed the victim at the initial encounter. The with the shooting incident except to shout to arrest the
court could not understand why the victim was able to fire his accused[,] which prompted his co-accused policemen to chase
gun, run, then stop and again fire his gun, without being the accused and sho[o]t him when he resisted, after he fired at
caught. Mayor Cawaling.

4. The positive identification made by the prosecution 4. The trial court gravely erred in not giving weight to accused-
witnesses prevails over the alibi posed by De los Santos and appellant policemen[s] testimonies which carry the
Fontamillas, a defense that was not corroborated by any other presumption of regularity.
witness.
5. The trial court gravely erred in not acquitting all the accused-
5. The .38 caliber revolver, allegedly owned by the victim, was appellants by applying the equipoise rule thereby resulting [i]n
in fact owned and used by Alex Batuigas. reasonable doubts on the guilt.[25]

6. The defense presented a photo and a sketch to prove that In their joint brief,[26] Appellants Tumbagahan and Cajilo cite
Imelda Ilisan Tumabagahan had an obstructed view of the these other errors:
killing. The trial court ruled that such evidence was misleading,
1. The trial court gravely erred in relying on the theory of the
because the window, from where said witness allegedly saw
prosecution that accused-appellants Ernesto Tumbagahan and
the incident, was at the eastern side of her house, and thus
Hilario Cajilo were alleged co-conspirators in the killing of the
afforded a clear view of the incident, while the window
victim, Ronie Ilisan.
referred to by the defense was at the southern portion.
2. The trial court gravely erred in not believing the defense that
7. The questioned testimonies of Dr. Flores, Nelson Ilisan and
herein accused-appellants merely did a lawful duty when the
Provincial Prosecutor Pedro Victoriano, Jr., though not
shooting incident happened which led to the death of Ronnie
formally offered as evidence, may be admitted because of the
Ilisan.

33
3. The trial court gravely erred in not acquitting herein We shall address the first two issues as important preliminary
accused-appellants by applying the equipoise rule, thereby questions and discuss the merits of the remaining ones, which
resulting in reasonable doubt on their guilt. we have culled from the errors cited by the appellants in their
aforementioned briefs.
4. Prescinding from the foregoing, herein accused-appellants
do press and hold, that the lower court committed grave, First Issue:
serious and reversible error in appreciating the qualifying
Jurisdiction of the Trial Court
circumstance of treachery (alevosia).
Appellants Tumbagahan and Cajilo argue that the trial court
5. The lower court committed grave, serious and reversible
erred when it assumed jurisdiction over the criminal case. They
error in convicting both accused-appellants of murder, instead
insist that the Sandiganbayan, not the regular courts, had
merely of homicide, defined and penalized under the Revised
jurisdiction to try and hear the case against the appellants, as
Penal Code.
they were public officers at the time of the killing which was
6. The lower court committed grave, serious and reversible allegedly committed by reason of or in relation to their office.
error in appreciating the qualifying circumstance of taking
We do not agree.
advantage of superior strength.
The jurisdiction of a court to try a criminal case is determined
7. The consummated crime being merely homicide, the
by the law in force at the time of the institution of the action.
mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender should be
Once the court acquires jurisdiction, it may not be ousted from
considered to lower the penalty of homicide.
the case by any subsequent events, such as a new legislation
8. The lower court committed error in not considering double placing such proceedings under the jurisdiction of another
jeopardy. tribunal. The only recognized exceptions to the rule, which find
no application in the case at bar, arise when: (1) there is an
9. The lower court committed error in not dismissing the case
express provision in the statute, or (2) the statute is clearly
for want of jurisdiction.[27]
intended to apply to actions pending before its enactment. [29]
Appellant Cawaling imputes these additional errors to the
The statutes pertinent to the issue are PD 1606, as
court a quo:
amended;[30] and PD 1850, as amended by PD 1952 and BP
1. The trial court gravely erred in not acquitting herein 129.
accused-appellant, Ulysses M. Cawaling, considering that he
Section 4 of PD 1606[31] reads:
had no part in the killing and the prosecution failed to prove
his guilt beyond reasonable doubt; Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. -- The Sandiganbayan shall exercise:

2. The trial court gravely erred in not finding the shooting (a) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
incident a result of hot pursuit and shoot-out between the
xxxxxxxxx
deceased Ronnie Ilisan and the police officers in the
performance of their duty and self-defense, and in sustaining (2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and
the prosecutions conspiracy theory; employees in relation to their office, including those employed
in government-owned or controlled corporations, whether
3. The trial court gravely erred in not acquitting Accused-
simple or complexed with other crimes, where the penalty
Appellant Ulysses M. Cawaling considering that there was
prescribed by law is higher than prision correccional or
blatant absence of due process in the proceedings tantamount
imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fine
to mistrial.[28]
of P6,000.00: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that offenses or felonies
This Courts Ruling mentioned in this paragraph where the penalty prescribed by
law does not exceed prision correccional or imprisonment for
We affirm the conviction of the appellants. In so ruling, we will
six (6) years or a fine of P6,000.00 shall be tried by the proper
resolve the following issues: (1) jurisdiction of the trial court,
Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial
(2) double jeopardy, (3) credibility of prosecution witnesses
Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court.
and their testimonies, (4) self-defense, (5) performance of
lawful duty, (6) alibi, (7) conspiracy, (8) rule on equipoise, (9) xxxxxxxxx
qualifying circumstances, (10) damages and (11) attending
However, former President Ferdinand Marcos issued two
circumstances as they affect the penalty.
presidential decrees placing the members of the Integrated

34
National Police under the jurisdiction of courts- committed both by public officers and by private citizens, and
martial. Section 1 of PD 1952,[32] amending Section 1 of PD that public office is not a constitutive element of said
1850, reads: crime, viz.:

SECTION 1. Court Martial Jurisdiction over Integrated National The relation between the crime and the office contemplated
Police and Members of the Armed Forces. Any provision of law by the Constitution is, in our opinion, direct and not
to the contrary notwithstanding -- (a) uniformed members of accidental. To fall into the intent of the Constitution, the
the Integrated National Police who commit any crime or relation has to be such that, in the legal sense, the offense
offense cognizable by the civil courts shall henceforth be cannot exist without the office. In other words, the office must
exclusively tried by courts-martial pursuant to and in be a constituent element of the crime as defined in the statute,
accordance with Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended, such as, for instance, the crimes defined and punished in
otherwise known as the Articles of War; (b) all persons Chapter Two to Six, Title Seven, of the Revised Penal Code.
subjects to military law under Article 2 of the aforecited
Public office is not the essence of murder. The taking of human
Articles of War who commit any crime or offense shall be
life is either murder or homicide whether done by a private
exclusively tried by courts-martial or their case disposed of
citizen or public servant, and the penalty is the same except
under the said Articles of War; Provided, that, in either of the
when the perpetrator, being a public functionary, took
aforementioned situations, the case shall be disposed of or
advantage of his office, as alleged in this case, in which event
tried by the proper civil or judicial authorities when court-
the penalty is increased.
martial jurisdiction over the offense has prescribed under
Article 38 of Commonwealth Act Numbered 408, as amended, But the use or abuse of office does not adhere to the crime as
or court-martial jurisdiction over the person of the accused an element; and even as an aggravating circumstance, its
military or Integrated National Police personnel can no longer materiality arises, not from the allegations but on the proof,
be exercised by virtue of their separation from the active not from the fact that the criminals are public officials but from
service without jurisdiction having duly attached beforehand the manner of the commission of the crime.
unless otherwise provided by law:
Furthermore, the Information filed against the appellants
PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT THE PRESIDENT MAY, IN THE contains no allegation that appellants were public officers who
INTEREST OF JUSTICE, ORDER OR DIRECT, AT ANY TIME BEFORE committed the crime in relation to their office. The charge was
ARRAIGNMENT, THAT A PARTICULAR CASE BE TRIED BY THE for murder, a felony punishable under Article 248 of the
APPROPRIATE CIVIL COURT. Revised Penal Code. As clarified in Aguinaldo, et al. vs.
Domagas, et al.,[36] [I]n the absence of such essential
As used herein, the term uniformed members of the
allegation, and since the present case does not involve charges
Integrated National Police shall refer to police officers,
of violation of R.A. No. 3019 (the Anti-Graft etc. Act), the
policemen, firemen, and jail guards.
Sandiganbayan does not have jurisdiction over the present
On the other hand, the jurisdiction of regular courts over civil case. (Bartolome vs. People, 142 SCRA 459 [1986] Even before
and criminal cases was laid down in BP 129, the relevant considering the penalty prescribed by law for the offense
portion of which is quoted hereunder: charged, it is thus essential to determine whether that offense
was committed or alleged to have been committed by the
Sec. 20. Jurisdiction in Criminal Cases. -- Trial Courts shall
public officers and employees in relation to their offices.
exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all criminal cases not
within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal or body, Jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint
except those now falling under the exclusive and concurrent or information.[37] In the absence of any allegation that the
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan which shall hereafter be offense was committed in relation to the office of appellants
exclusively taken cognizance of by the latter.[33] or was necessarily connected with the discharge of their
functions, the regional trial court, not the Sandiganbayan, has
In relation to the above, Section 4-a-2 of PD 1606, as amended
jurisdiction to hear and decide the case.[38]
by PD 1861, quoted earlier, lists two requisites that must
concur before the Sandiganbayan may exercise exclusive and Second Issue:
original jurisdiction over a case: (a) the offense was committed
Double Jeopardy
by the accused public officer in relation to his office; and (b)
the penalty prescribed by law is higher than prision In seeking their acquittal, Appellants Tumbagahan and Cajilo
correccionalor imprisonment for six (6) years, or higher than a also invoke their right against double jeopardy. They argue
fine of six thousand pesos (P6,000).[34] Sanchez vs. that the first jeopardy attached when a criminal case for
Demetriou[35] clarified that murder or homicide may be
35
murder was filed before the Judge Advocate Generals Office As a general rule, the factual findings of trial courts deserve
(JAGO), which was allegedly dismissed after several hearings respect and are not disturbed on appeal, unless some facts or
had been conducted.[39] We are not persuaded. circumstances of weight and substance have been overlooked,
misapprehended or misinterpreted, and would otherwise
There is double jeopardy when the following requisites are
materially affect the disposition of the case.[51] This rule,
present: (1) a first jeopardy has attached prior to the
however, does not apply when the judge who penned the
second; (2) the first jeopardy has been validly terminated; and,
decision was not the same one who had heard the prosecution
(3) a second jeopardy is for the same offense as that in the
witnesses testify,[52] as in the present case. Nonetheless, we
first. And the first jeopardy attaches only (a) after a valid
have carefully perused and considered the voluminous records
indictment; (b) before a competent court; (c) after
of this case, and we find no reason to alter the findings of the
arraignment; (d) when a valid plea has been entered; and (e)
court a quo in regard to the credibility of the prosecution
when the accused was acquitted or convicted, or the case was
witnesses and their testimonies.
dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express
consent.[40] Vicente Ilisan, the victims brother, narrated before the trial
court the circumstances relevant to the crime:
For a better appreciation of appellants argument, we must
consider PD 39[41] and its implementing rules,[42] which Q. In the evening of December 4, 1982, at about 8:00 or 8:30,
prescribe the procedure before a military commission. A where were you?
summary preliminary investigation shall be conducted before
A. I was inside the restaurant of Andres Fontamillas.
trial for the purpose of determining whether there is prima
facie evidence to pursue trial before a military xxxxxxxxx
commission. The investigation report shall contain a summary
of the evidence, the acts constituting the offense or offenses Q. What were you doing there?
committed, and the findings and recommendations of the
A. I was drinking tuba.
investigating officer. Thereafter, the report shall be forwarded
to the judge advocate general, who shall determine for either Q. When you were about to finish drinking tuba, what did you
the defense secretary or for the AFP chief of staff whether the do?
case shall be referred for trial to a military
commission.[43] Where a prima facie case is found against the A. I stood up preparing to go home.
accused, formal charges shall be signed by a commissioned Q. Were you able to leave that restaurant actually?
officer designated by the judge advocate general.[44] The
accused shall then be arraigned, during which the charge and A. No, sir.
specification shall be read and the accused shall enter his
Q. Why?
plea.[45] After hearings, a record of the trial shall be forwarded
to the AFP chief of staff for proper action.[46] A. Luz Venus told us not to go out when [I] stood up to go
home.
In the present case, the appellants have presented no
sufficient and conclusive evidence to show that they were Q. Do you know why you were advise[d] not to go out?
charged, arraigned and acquitted in a military commission, or
that the case was dismissed therein without their consent. The A. Yes, sir.
defense merely offered as evidence certain disposition Q. Why?
forms[47] and a letter,[48] dated March 8, 1983, recommending
that the case against Appellants Tumbagahan, Cajilo and De los A. Because we were being watched by Mayor Cawaling, Andres
Santos be dropped and considered closed.[49] No charge sheet Fontamillas, Hilario Cajilo and Alex Bat[ui]gas.
and record of arraignment and trial were presented to
xxxxxxxxx
establish the first jeopardy.
Q. When you were informed by Luz Venus that you should not
As pointed out by the solicitor general, appellants were never
go out because Mayor Cawaling and the persons you
arraigned, they never pleaded before the Judge Advocate
mentioned were outside watching for you, what did you do?
Generals Office, there was no trial, and no judgment on the
merits had been rendered.[50] A. We did not go out.
Third Issue: Q. Since you remained inside, what did you do?
Credibility of Witnesses
36
A. I also viewed thru the window. A. Because the flashlight[s] were bright.

Q. Did you see them? Q. When Diosdado Venus ran back to his restaurant, what did
your brother Ronie Elisan and you do?
A. Yes, sir.
A. We also ran towards home.
Q. How far were they from the restaurant?
Q. To whose house?
A. About three meters.
A. That of my older sister Imelda [E]lisan.
Q. What were they doing outside the restaurant?
Q. Were you able to reach that house?
A. They were also viewing us.
A. No, sir.
Q. For how long did they remain there viewing you?
Q. Why, what happened when you ran away?
A. Just a short time.
A. Andres Fontamillas and Hilario Cajilo were blocking us on
Q. And later on, do you know where did they go? [sic]
the gate of the fence of my sisters house.
A. No, sir. I went out from the restaurant and when I went out,
Q. Since your way was blocked, where did Ronie Elisan go?
I did not see them anymore.
A. We ran towards the ricefield.
Q. Before you went out of the restaurant, what did you do?
Q. When you ran, what did Mayor Cawaling do?
A. Diosdado Venus accompanied us.
A. They were chasing us.
Q. Why did you ask Diosdado Venus to accompany you?
Q. What about Alex Batuigas, what did he do?
A. Yes, sir. Because we were aware that we were being
watched from outside so we asked to be accompanied by A. He also followed helping chasing us. [sic]
Diosdado Venus.
Q. What about the four policemen, what did they do?
Q. From the restaurant accompanied by Diosdado Venus, what
A. The same. They were also chasing us.
did you do?
Q. About how far is that restaurant [from] the spot where you
A. Towards home.
were first lighted by the flashlight of the accused?
Q. Were you able to reach home?
A. About one hundred meters.
A. No, sir.
Q. Now, according to you, you ran towards the ricefield, what
Q. Why, what happened on the way? happened while you were running towards the ricefield?

A. Diosdado Venus ran going back because we were lighted by A. I saw my brother fell [sic] down.
a flashlight.
Q. Fell down where?
Q. How many flashlight[s] were trimed [sic] to you?
A. On the ricefield.
A. Six.
Q. What about you, where were you when your brother fell
Q. Did you come to know who trimed [sic] the flashlight down in the ricefield?
towards you?
A. I ran towards the bushes.
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What did you do upon reaching the bushes?
Q. Who were they?
A. I la[y] on the ground with my belly touch[ing] on the ground
A. Mayor Cawaling, Andres Fontamillas, Hilario Cajilo, Ernesto behind the coconut tree.
Tumbagahan, Ricardo delos Santos and Alex Batuigas.
Q. When your brother according to you had fallen on the
Q. How were you able to recognize them when that was night ricefield, what did he do thereafter?
time?
37
A. He rose up, [raised] his hands and surrender[ed] to them. Nelson Ilisan also heard his younger brother Ronie shouting for
help while being chased by the group of Cawaling. As Cajilo and
Q In rising, what was his position?
Fontamillas blocked Ronie from entering the gate of Imeldas
A. He was rising like this. (Witness demonstrating by kneeling house, the victim ran towards a rice field. Nelson stopped
[and] raising his two hands). Cawaling and asked, Nong, basi guinalagas ninyo ang acon
hali? (Nong, why do you chase my brother?) But the mayor
Q. While Ronie Elisan was kneeling and raising both of his merely continued chasing Ronie. Thereafter, Nelson saw his
hands, what happened? brother, on his knees with both hands raised, shot by
appellants.[55]
A. Mayor Cawaling approached him together with the four
policemen and his brother-in-law and they shot him. The three aforementioned witnesses narrated in detail the
assault against their brother Ronie and positively identified the
Q. Do you know what weapon[s] were used in shooting your
appellants as the perpetrators. The trial court cannot be
brother?
faulted for relying on their testimonies and accepting them as
A. Yes, sir. true,[56] especially when the defense failed, to prove any ill
motive on their part.[57] In addition, family members who have
Q. What weapon were used? witnessed the killing of their loved one usually strive to
A. The weapon of Mayor Cawaling is .45 caliber and that of remember the faces of the assailants.[58] Thus, the
Andres Fontamillas and Hilario Cajilo were both armalite and relationship per se of witnesses with the victim does not
that of Ernesto Tumbagahan, Alex Batuigas and Ricardo delos necessarily mean that the former are biased. On the contrary,
Santos were .38 caliber. it is precisely such relationship that would impel them to seek
justice and put the real culprit behind bars, rather than impute
Q. How were you able to identify their weapons? the offense to the innocent.[59]
A. Because the flashlight[s] were bright. Appellant Cawaling submits that the prosecution witnesses
tampered with the evidence by cleaning the cadaver before an
Q. Now, what happened to your brother when he was fired
autopsy could be done. Such irregular washing of the cadaver
upon by the accused in this case?
by a close relative of the deceased, who is educated and who
A. He fell down. presumably knew perfectly well the need to preserve it in its
original state for the medico-legal examination[,] is highly
Q. And how far is that spot where your elder brother had fallen suspicious. It points to the fact that the relatives of the
down to the spot where Diosdado Venus left you when he deceased wanted to hide, or erase something that would
returned to the restaurant? bolster and assist the defense (that is, state of drunkenness,
A. To my estimate it is about 300 meters. powder burns or lack thereof, indicating the firing of a weapon
or the proximity of the weapon used on the deceased, etc.).[60]
Q. After your brother had fallen down, what did the accused
do? Such contention is unavailing. First, Bebelinia Sacapao merely
cleaned the cadaver and made no further
A. Mayor Cawaling said, []you left him, he is already dead.[] examination. Second, appellants had an opportunity to have
the body examined again to determine or prove important
Q. Where did they go?
matters, such as whether Ronie was drunk, if he fired a gun,
A. They went towards the house of Mayor Cawaling.[53] how many and what caliber of guns were used in shooting him;
they did not, however, avail themselves of this opportunity. As
Imelda Tumbagahan was at home feeding her child when she public officers, appellants knew that it was within their power
heard her brother Ronie shouting for help. After getting a to request or secure from the court, or any other competent
flashlight and looking through the window of her house, she authority, an order for another autopsy[61] or any such
saw Cawaling and Alex Batuigas chasing Ronie who was evidence as may affirm their innocence. Third, their conviction
running towards her house. Tumbagahan and De los Santos lies in the strong and convincing testimonial evidence of the
prevented Ronie from entering the fence of her house, as a prosecution, not in the corroborative testimony of Bebelinia
result of which, her brother ran towards a rice field Sacapao.
nearby. There, on bended knees and with hands raised, Ronie
was shot by Cawaling and his men.[54] Relying on the testimonies of Luz Venus and Gil Palacio,
Appellant Cawaling also pointed out that [t]he power of
observation of alleged eyewitness Vicente was severely
38
affected by his intoxication. It may be inferred that an reasonable ground for Prosecutor Victoriano to believe that an
intoxicated persons sense[s] of sight and hearing and of touch offense has been committed and that the accused was
are less acute than those of a sober person and that his probably guilty thereof.[70] Under the circumstance, it is his
observation are inexact as to what actually occurred.[62] sworn duty to see that justice is served.[71] Thus, [h]e may
prosecute with earnestness and vigor - - indeed, he should do
This argument is not persuasive. The evidence presented fails
so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to
to show that Vicente was so intoxicated that night as to affect
strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper
his powers of observation and retrospection. Defense Witness
methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to
Palacio merely saw the witness drinking tuba on the night of
use every legitimate means to bring about a just
the killing.[63] Meanwhile the whole testimony of Luz on the
one.[72] Further,
matter mainly reveals that Ronie was the person she was
referring to as drunk, as shown by this portion:[64] Under the prevailing criminal procedure, the fiscals sphere of
action is quite extensive, for he has very direct and active
Q When Ronie and Vicente both surnamed Ilisan entered the
intervention in the trial, assuming as the Governments
C & J-4 kitchenette what if any did you observe?
representative the defense of society, which has been
A I saw them so dr[u]nk (Nakita ko sila lasing na lasing). disturbed by the crime, and taking public action as though he
were the injured party, for the purpose of securing the
Q Who was lasing na lasing or so dr[u]nk? offenders punishment, whenever the crime has been proved
and the guilt of the accused as the undoubted perpetrator
A Ronie Ilisan sir.
thereof established.[73]
Granting that Vicente was drunk, the conviction of the
Fourth Issue:
appellants is still inevitable in view of the positive declarations
of Witnesses Nelson and Imelda, who unequivocally identified Self-Defense
appellants as perpetrators of the senseless killing of their
brother Ronie. To escape criminal liability, the appellants also invoke the
justifying circumstances of self-defense and lawful
Appellant Cawaling also questions the trial courts reliance on performance of duty.[74] Allegedly, Ronie was firing his gun and
the testimonies of Dr. Blandino Flores,[65] Nelson shouting Guwa ang maisog! (Come out who is brave!). Then
Ilisan[66] and Prosecutor Pedro Victoriano, Jr.,[67] for failure of the mayor and the policemen arrived at the scene to pacify
the prosecution to offer them as evidence. In People vs. him. Ronie fired at them, which forced them to chase him and
Java,[68] this Court ruled that the testimony of a witness, return fire.
although not formally offered in evidence, may still be
admitted by the courts, if the other party does not object to its We find this scenario bereft of plausibility.
presentation. The Court explained: Section 36 of [Rule 132]
Unlawful aggression on the part of the victim is a condition sine
requires that an objection in the course of the oral examination
qua non for the successful invocation of self-defense.[75] As
of a witness should be made as soon as the grounds therefor
factually found by the trial court, unlawful aggression did not
shall become reasonably apparent. Since no objection to the
start with the victim, but rather with the appellants. Cawaling
admissibility of evidence was made in the court below, an
and his men proceeded to the C & J-4 Kitchenette and waited
objection raised for the first time on appeal will not be
for Ronie to come out. When the victim did, they chased and
considered. In the present case, a cursory reading of the
shot him without giving him any opportunity to defend
stenographic notes reveals that the counsel for the appellants
himself.
did not raise any objection when said witnesses testified on the
matters now being impugned. Moreover, they repeatedly Granting arguendo the veracity of the defenses factual
cross-examined the witnesses, which shows that they had version, it is important to note that appellants admitted that
waived their objections to the said testimonies of such Ronie was running away from them when they chased and
witnesses. shot him.Thus, unlawful aggression -- assuming it was initially
present had ceased, and the appellants no longer had any right
Lastly, Appellant Mayor Cawaling questions the motive of
to pursue the offender. Basic is the rule that when unlawful
Prosecutor Pedro Victoriano Jr. This contention is likewise
aggression ceases, the defender no longer has the right to kill
bereft of merit. Unlike judges who are mandated to display
or even wound the former aggressor. Upon the cessation of
cold neutrality in hearing cases,[69] prosecutors are not
the unlawful aggression and the danger or risk to life and limb,
required to divest themselves of their personal convictions and
there should be a corresponding cessation of hostilities on the
refrain from exhibiting partiality. In this case, there is
part of the person defending himself.[76]
39
Furthermore, the means employed to ward off the attack was part of the eyewitness testifying on the matter. Alibi and
unreasonably excessive. Being armed, the appellants could denial, if not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence,
have easily ordered the victim to surrender. Even the first shot are negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight
at his shoulder would have been sufficient to immobilize him, in law.[83]
yet they fired a succession of shots at him while he was in no
In fact, De los Santos failed to establish with clear and
position to put up a defense.
convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for him
Jurisprudence teaches that when an accused admits having to have been at the scene of the crime during its
committed the crime but invokes self-defense to escape commission.[84] The evidence he had presented demonstrated
criminal liability, the burden of proof is reversed and shifted to only that, at the time, he was sleeping in his house, which was
him.He must then prove the elements of self-defense.[77] It near the locus criminis.
necessarily follows that he must now rely on the strength of
Alibi is always considered with suspicion and received with
his own evidence and not on the weakness of that of the
caution, not only because it is inherently weak and unreliable,
prosecution; for even if the latter evidence were weak, it could
but also because it is easily fabricated and concocted.[85] It is
not be disbelieved after the accused has admitted the
therefore incumbent upon the appellant to prove that he was
killing.[78] Thus, appellants must establish with clear and
at another place when the felony was committed, and that it
convincing evidence that the killing was justified, and that they
was physically impossible for him to have been at the scene of
incurred no criminal liability therefor.[79] They failed to do so,
the crime at the time it was committed.[86] This he failed to
and their conviction thus becomes inevitable.[80]
prove.
Fifth Issue:
Seventh Issue:
Lawful Performance of Duties
Conspiracy
Appellants contend that the killing of Ronie resulted from the
The trial court correctly appreciated the presence of
lawful performance of their duties as police officers. However,
conspiracy. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come
such justifying circumstance may be invoked only after the
to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and
defense successfully proves that (1) the accused acted in the
decide to commit it. Direct proof of conspiracy is rarely found,
performance of a duty, and (2) the injury or offense committed
for criminals do not write down their lawless plans and
is the necessary consequence of the due performance or
plots. The agreement to commit a crime, however, may be
lawful exercise of such duty.[81] These two requisites are
deduced from the mode and manner of the commission of the
wanting in this case.
offense or inferred from acts that point to a joint purpose and
The appellants, except Mayor Cawaling, were men in uniform design, concerted action, and community of intent.[87] It does
who happened to be on duty when they killed Ronie. The not matter who inflicted the mortal wound, as the act of one
victim was not committing any offense at the time. Killing the is the act of all, and each incurs the same criminal
victim under the circumstances of this case cannot in any wise liability.[88] We concur with the trial courts elucidation:
be considered a valid performance of a lawful duty by men
All of the accused chased the victim and his brother; four (4) of
who had sworn to maintain peace and order and to protect the
whom blocked their ways, first, to their elder brother Nelson
lives of the people. As aptly held in People vs. De la
Elisans house and, second, to their elder sister Imelda Elisan
Cruz,[82] Performance of duties does not include murder. That
Tumbagahons house. Having changed course by proceeding to
Ronie was a troublemaker in their town is not an excuse; as the
the ricefield in their desperate attempt to evade the accused,
Court declared in the same case of People vs. De la
all the six (6) armed accused continued their pursuit. Their
Cruz, Murder is never justified, regardless of the victim.
victim, having fallen on the rice paddy, and rising and kneeling
Sixth Issue: on it with raised hands, all the said accused with their
flashlights beamed on their victim, in a united and concerted
Alibi
manner, shot him. After Ronie Elisan had fallen down, co-
We likewise brush aside the defenses of alibi and denial raised accused Mayor Cawaling was even heard as saying (Y)ou left
by Appellant De los Santos. Prosecution witnesses positively [sic] him, he is already dead. x x x.[89]
identified him and Fontamillas as part of the group which
Eighth Issue:
chased and shot Ronie Ilisan. It is elementary that alibi and
denial are outweighed by positive identification that is Equipoise Rule
categorical, consistent and untainted by any ill motive on the

40
We reject appellants position that the equipoise rule should The appellants waited for Ronie to come out of the
apply to this case.[90] In People vs. Lagnas,[91] the Court through restaurant. All of them chased the victim and prevented him
Mr. Justice Florenz D. Regalado described this rule, as follows: from seeking refuge either in the house of his sister Imelda or
that of his brother Nelson. All of them carried firearms and
Once again, albeit in effect a supportive and cumulative
flashlights. They fired their guns at the victim while he was on
consideration in view of the preceding disquisition, the
his knees with arms raised, manifesting his intention not to
equipoise rule finds application in this case, that is, if the
fight back.
inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or
more explanations, one of which is consistent with the We cannot appreciate the aggravating circumstance of abuse
innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his of superior strength, however, as we have consistently ruled
guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral that it is deemed absorbed in treachery.[95]
certainty, and is not sufficient to support a conviction.
We also affirm the finding of the trial court that the
In this case, the inculpatory facts point to only one conclusion: prosecution failed to prove the attending circumstance of
appellants are guilty. As amplified in the discussion above, the evident premeditation. To prove this aggravating
Court agrees with the trial court that the guilt of the appellants circumstance, the prosecution must show the following: (1)
was proven beyond reasonable doubt. the time when the offender determined to commit the crime;
(2) an act manifestly indicating that the offender clung to his
Ninth Issue:
determination; and (3) a lapse of time, between the
Murder or Homicide? determination to commit the crime and the execution thereof,
sufficient to allow the offender to reflect upon the
The Information alleges three qualifying circumstances: consequences of his act.[96] Nothing in the records shows how
treachery, evident premeditation and taking advantage of and when the plan to kill was hatched, or how much time had
superior strength. If appreciated, any one of these will qualify elapsed before it was carried out.
the killing to murder. However, Appellants Tumbagahan and
Cajilo posit that there was no treachery, reasoning that Ronie Tenth Issue:
was not an unsuspecting victim, as he had been forewarned by
Damages
Diosdado Venus of the presence of the appellants inside the
restaurant and there had been a chase prior to the The trial court awarded the following: (a) P50,000.00, as civil
killing. Further, they contend that abuse of superior strength is indemnity; (b) P6,000.00, as actual damages; and
deemed absorbed in treachery, and that the addition of abuse (c) P116,666.66, for lost earnings. In computing the latter, the
of superior strength to qualify the case to murder is nothing trial court used the following formula:
more than mere repetition - a legal chicanery, so to
Total annual net income = 10% x total annual gross income
say. Similarly, where treachery is not proved, there can be no
abuse of superior strength, vice-versa.[92] = .10 x P25,000.00
We partly agree. = P2,500.00
Treachery exists when the malefactors employ means and xxx xxx xxx
methods that tend directly and especially to insure their
execution without risk to themselves arising from the defense Loss of earning capacity of Ronie Elisan = 2/3 (90-20)
which the victims might make. The essence of treachery is the x P2,500.00 = P116,666.66.[97]
sudden and unexpected attack without the slightest
Consistent with jurisprudence, we affirm the ruling of the trial
provocation on the part of the person attacked. [93] While we
court awarding the amount of P50,000 as civil indemnity to the
do not disregard the fact that the victim, together with his
heirs of the victim.[98]
brother Vicente, was able to run towards a rice field, we still
believe that treachery attended the killing. We cannot do the same to the award of actual damages and
lost earnings, however. The award of actual damages has no
In People vs. Landicho,[94] we ruled that treachery might still be
basis, as no receipts were presented to substantiate the
appreciated even when the victim was warned of danger to his
expenses allegedly incurred. An alleged pecuniary loss must be
person, for what is decisive is that the execution of the attack
established by credible evidence before actual damages may
made it impossible for the victim to defend himself or to
be awarded.[99] Similarly erroneous is the award for loss of
retaliate.
earning capacity, which should be computed as follows:[100]

41
2/3 x [80 - age of victim at the time of death] x [reasonable award for loss of earning capacity
portion of the annual net income which would have been is INCREASED to P928,000. Costs against appellant.
received as support by heirs]

As testified to by Nelson Ilisan, the deceased had been earning


an average of P100 daily or P3,000 monthly.[101] From this
monthly income must be deducted the reasonable amount
of P1,000 representing the living and other necessary
expenses of the deceased. Hence, the lost earnings of the
deceased should be computed as follows:

= 2/3 x [80 - 22] x [P24,000]

= 2/3 x [58] x [P24,000]

= 2[P 1,392,000]

= P2,784,000

= P928,000.

Eleventh Issue:

Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances

Prior to the amendment of Section 248 of the Revised Penal


Code,[102] the imposable penalty for murder was reclusion
temporal in its maximum period to death. In their Brief,
Appellants Cajilo and Tumbagahan argue for the imposition of
the lower penalty of reclusion temporal, contending that their
filing of bail bonds/property bonds, before the order for their
arrest was issued, should be treated as voluntary
surrender.[103]

We cannot accept this contention. In the first place, it has no


factual basis. The warrant for the arrest of herein appellants
was issued on August 18, 1987,[104] but appellants counsel filed
the Urgent Motion for Bail only thereafter, on September 2,
1987.[105] In the second place, appellants failed to prove the
requisites for voluntary surrender, which are: (1) the offender
has not been actually arrested; (2) the offender surrenders
himself to a person in authority or to the latters agent; and (3)
the surrender is voluntary.[106] The records reveal that a
warrant of arrest was actually served on Tumbagahan and
Cajilo[107] on September 2, 1987 and that they were in fact
detained.[108]

In view of the absence of any other aggravating or mitigating


circumstance, the trial court correctly imposed reclusion
perpetua.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby DENIED and the assailed


Decision is AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS: (1)
the award of P6,000 as actual damages is DELETED,and (2) the
42
AVELINA ZAMORA, EMERITA ZAMORA-NICOL, SONNY NICOL, On August 24, 1997, during the barangay conciliation
TERESA ZAMORA-UMALI, CLARENCE UMALI, ROBERTO proceedings, petitioner Avelina Zamora declared that she
ZAMORA, ROLANDO ZAMORA, MARY ANN ZAMORA, refused to sign the new lease contract because she is not
MICHELLE ZAMORA and RODRIGO agreeable with the conditions specified therein.
ZAMORA, petitioners, vs. HEIRS of CARMEN IZQUIERDO,
The following day, Anita Punzalan sent Avelina a
represented by their attorney-in-fact, ANITA F.
letter[4] informing her that the lease is being terminated and
PUNZALAN, respondents.
demanding that petitioners vacate the premises within 30 days
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: from notice.

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari[1] assailing the Despite several barangay conciliation sessions, the parties
Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals dated September 12, 2000 failed to settle their dispute amicably. Hence,
and its Resolution dated December 1, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. the Barangay Chairman issued a Certification to File Action
54541, entitled Avelina Zamora, et al., petitioners, versus Heirs dated September 14, 1997.[5]
of Carmen Izquierdo, represented by the executrix, Anita F.
Consequently, on October 2, 1997, respondents, represented
Punzalan, respondents.
by Anita Punzalan, filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court
The records show that sometime in 1973, Carmen Izquierdo (MTC), Branch 49, Caloocan City, a complaint for unlawful
and Pablo Zamora entered into a verbal stipulation whereby detainer and damages against petitioners, docketed as Civil
the former leased to the latter one of her apartment units Case No. 23702.[6] Forthwith, petitioners filed a motion to
located at 117-B General Luna Street, Caloocan City. They dismiss[7] the complaint on the ground that the controversy
agreed on the following: the rental is P3,000.00 per month; the was not referred to the barangay for conciliation. First, they
leased premises is only for residence; and only a single family alleged that the barangay Certification to File Action is fatally
is allowed to occupy it. defective because it pertains to another dispute, i.e., the
refusal by respondents attorney-in-fact to give her written
After the death of Carmen (lessor) in 1996 her attorney-in-fact,
consent to petitioners request for installation of water
Anita Punzalan, representing the heirs, herein respondents,
facilities in the premises. And, second, when the parties failed
prepared a new contract of lease wherein the rental was
to reach an amicable settlement before the Lupong
increased from P3,000.00 to P3,600.00 per month.[3] However,
Tagapamayapa, the Punong Barangay (as Lupon Chairman),
petitioners refused to sign it.
did not constitute the Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo before
In January 1997, Pablo (lessee) died. His wife, Avelina Zamora, whom mediation or arbitration proceedings should have been
and their children (two of whom have their own families), conducted, in violation of Section 410(b), Chapter
herein petitioners, continued to reside in the apartment unit. 7 (Katarungang Pambarangay), Title One, Book III of Republic
However, they refused to pay the increased rental and Act No. 7160[8] (otherwise known as the Local Government
persisted in operating a photocopying business in the same Code of 1991), which reads:
apartment.
SECTION 410. Procedure for Amicable Settlement.
Meanwhile, petitioner Avelina Zamora applied with the
(a) x x x
Metropolitan Waterworks & Sewerage System (MWSS) for a
water line installation in the premises. Since a written consent (b) Mediation by lupon chairman Upon receipt of the
from the owner is required for such installation, she requested complaint, the lupon chairman[9] shall, within the next working
respondents attorney-in-fact to issue it. However, the latter day, summon the respondent(s), with notice to the
declined because petitioners refused to pay the new rental complainant(s) for them and their witnesses to appear before
rate and violated the restrictions on the use of the premises by him for a mediation of their conflicting interests. If he fails in
using a portion thereof for photocopying business and allowing his mediation effort within fifteen (15) days from the first
three families to reside therein. meeting of the parties before him, he shall forthwith set a date
for the constitution of the pangkat in accordance with the
This prompted petitioner Avelina Zamora to file with the Office
provisions of this Chapter. (Underscoring supplied)
of the Punong Barangay of Barangay 16, Sona 2, District I,
Lungsod ng Caloocan, a complaint against Anita Punzalan Respondents opposed the motion to dismiss, [10] the same
(respondents attorney-in-fact), docketed as Usaping Bgy. being prohibited under Section 19 of the 1991 Revised Rule on
Blg. 1-27-97, Ukol sa: Hindi Pagbibigay ng Pahintulot sa Summary Procedure. They prayed that judgment be rendered
Pagpapakabit ng Tubig. as may be warranted by the facts alleged in the complaint,
pursuant to Section 6[11] of the same Rule.
43
On July 9, 1998, the MTC issued an Order[12] denying Thereafter, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but
petitioners motion to dismiss and considering the case was denied by the Appellate Court in its Resolution dated
submitted for decision in view of their failure to file their December 1, 2000.[18]
answer to the complaint.
Hence, the instant petition.
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, [13] contending
I
that a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground of failure
to refer the complaint to the Lupon for conciliation is allowed The primordial objective of Presidential Decree No. 1508
under Section 19 of the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary (the Katarungang Pambarangay Law), now included under
Procedure, which partly provides: R.A. No. 7160 (the Local Government Code of 1991), is to
reduce the number of court litigations and prevent the
SEC. 19. Prohibited pleadings and motions. The following
deterioration of the quality of justice which has been brought
pleadings, motions, or petitions shall not be allowed in the
about by the indiscriminate filing of cases in the courts. [19] To
cases covered by this Rule:
attain this objective, Section 412(a) of R.A. No. 7160 requires
(a) Motion to dismiss the complaint or to quash the complaint the parties to undergo a conciliation process before
or information except on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the Lupon Chairman or the Pangkat as a precondition to filing
the subject matter, or failure to comply with the preceding a complaint in court, thus:
section [referring to Section 18 on referral of the complaint to
SECTION 412. Conciliation. (a) Pre-condition to Filing of
the Lupon for conciliation];
Complaint in Court. No complaint, petition, action, or
x x x. proceeding involving any matter within the authority of
the lupon shall be filed or instituted directly in court or any
On August 26, 1998, the MTC rendered a Judgment[14] in favor
other government office for adjudication, unless there has
of respondents and against petitioners, the dispositive portion
been a confrontation between the parties before
of which reads:
the lupon chairman or the pangkat, and that no conciliation or
WHEREFORE, Judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the settlement has been reached as certified by
plaintiff and against the defendants, ordering defendants and the lupon or pangkat secretary and attested to by
all persons claiming right under them: the lupon or pangkat chairman x x x. (Underscoring supplied)

1) To vacate the leased premises located at No. 117-B In the case at bar, the Punong Barangay, as Chairman of
General Luna Street, Caloocan City and to surrender the Lupong Tagapamayapa, conducted conciliation
possession thereof to the plaintiff; proceedings to resolve the dispute between the parties herein.
Contrary to petitioners contention, the complaint does not
2) To pay the amount of three thousand six hundred only allege, as a cause of action, the refusal of respondents
(P3,600.00) pesos per month starting January, 1997 until the attorney-in-fact to give her consent to the installation of water
premises being occupied by them is finally vacated and facilities in the premises, but also petitioners violation of the
possession thereof is restored to the plaintiff; terms of the lease, specifically their use of a portion therein for
their photocopying business and their failure to pay the
3) To pay plaintiff the sum of five thousand (P5,000.00)
increased rental. As correctly found by the RTC:
pesos as and for attorneys fees; and
The records show that confrontations before the barangay
4) To pay the costs of this suit.
chairman were held on January 26, 1997, February 9, 1997,
SO ORDERED. February 23, 1997, February 28, 1997, July 27, 1997, August 3,
1997, August 10, 1997, August 17, 1997 and August 24, 1997
On appeal, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 125, wherein not only the issue of water installation was discussed
Caloocan City, rendered its Decision[15] dated February 15, but also the terms of the lease and the proposed execution of
1999 affirming the MTC Judgment. Subsequently, it denied a written contract relative thereto. It appears, however, that
petitioners motion for reconsideration.[16] no settlement was reached despite a total of nine meetings at
Petitioners then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for the barangay level.
review, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 54541. On September 12, It is of no moment that the complaint was initially made by
2000, it rendered a Decision[17] affirming the RTC Decision. defendant-appellant Avelina Zamora because herein plaintiff-
appellee was given by the Sangguniang Barangay the authority
to bring her grievance to the Court for resolution. While it is
44
true that the Sertifikasyon dated September 14, 1997 is As discussed earlier, the case was referred to
entitled Ukol Sa Hindi Pagbibigay Ng Pahintulot Sa the Lupon Chairman for conciliation. Obviously, petitioners
Pagpapakabit Ng Tubig, this title must not prevail over the motion to dismiss, even if allowed, is bereft of merit.
actual issues discussed in the proceedings.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision and
Hence, to require another confrontation at the barangay level Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 54541
as a sine qua non for the filing of the instant case would not sustaining the Decision of the RTC which upheld the MTC
serve any useful purpose anymore since no new issues would Judgment is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
be raised therein and the parties have proven so many times
in the past that they cannot get to settle their differences
amicably.

We cannot sustain petitioners contention that


the Lupon conciliation alone, without the proceeding before
the Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo, contravenes the law
on Katarungang Pambarangay. Section 412(a) of R.A. No.
7160, quoted earlier, clearly provides that, as a precondition
to filing a complaint in court, the parties shall go through the
conciliation process either before the Lupon Chairman (as
what happened in the present case), or the Pangkat.

Moreover, in Diu vs. Court of Appeals,[21] we held that


notwithstanding the mandate in Section 410(b) of R.A. No.
7160 that the Barangay Chairman shall constitute a Pangkat if
he fails in his mediation efforts, the same Section 410(b)
should be construed together with Section 412(a) of the same
law (quoted earlier), as well as the circumstances obtaining in
and peculiar to the case. Here, while the Pangkat was not
constituted, however, the parties met nine (9) times at the
Office of the Barangay Chairman for conciliation wherein not
only the issue of water installation was discussed but also
petitioners violation of the lease contract. It is thus manifest
that there was substantial compliance with the law which does
not require strict adherence thereto.[22]

II. We hold that petitioners motion to dismiss the complaint for


unlawful detainer is proscribed by Section 19(a) of the 1991
Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, quoted earlier. Section
19(a) permits the filing of such pleading only when the ground
for dismissal of the complaint is anchored on lack of
jurisdiction over the subject matter, or failure by the
complainant to refer the subject matter of his/her complaint
to the Lupon for conciliation prior to its filing with the court.
This is clear from the provisions of Section 18 of the same Rule,
which reads:

SEC. 18. Referral to Lupon. Cases requiring referral to


the Lupon for conciliation under the provisions of Presidential
Decree No. 1508 where there is no showing of compliance with
such requirement, shall be dismissed without prejudice, and
may be revived only after such requirement shall have been
complied with. This provision shall not apply to criminal cases
where the accused was arrested without a warrant.
(Underscoring supplied)
GENERAL PROVISIONS CASES
45
ESTRELLITA J. TAMANO, petitioner, vs. HON. RODOLFO A. petitioners motion to dismiss and the 22 August 1995 order
ORTIZ, Presiding Judge, RTC-Br. 89, Quezon City, HAJA PUTRI denying reconsideration thereof.
ZORAYDA A. TAMANO, ADIB A. TAMANO and the HON.
In a Resolution dated 13 December 1995 we referred the case
COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. BELLOSILLO, J.:
to the Court of Appeals for consolidation with G.R. No.
This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks to reverse and set 118371. Zorayda and Adib A. Tamano however filed a motion,
aside the decision of the Court of Appeals of 30 September which the Court of Appeals granted, to resolve the Complaint
1996 in CA-G.R. SP. No. 39656 which affirmed the decision of for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage ahead of the other
the Regional Trial Court-Br. 89, Quezon City, denying the consolidated cases.
motion to dismiss as well as the motion for reconsideration
The Court of Appeals ruled that the instant case would fall
filed by petitioner Estrellita J. Tamano.
under the exclusive jurisdiction of sharia courts only when
On 31 May 1958 Senator Mamintal Abdul Jabar Tamano filed in places where there are sharia courts. But in places
(Tamano) married private respondent Haja Putri Zorayda A. where there are no sharia courts, like Quezon City, the instant
Tamano (Zorayda) in civil rites. Their marriage supposedly case could properly be filed before the Regional Trial Court.
remained valid and subsisting until his death on 18 May
Petitioner is now before us reiterating her earlier argument
1994. Prior to his death, particularly on 2 June 1993, Tamano
that it is the sharia court and not the Regional Trial Court
also married petitioner Estrellita J. Tamano (Estrellita) in civil
which has jurisdiction over the subject and nature of the
rites in Malabang, Lanao del Sur.
action.
On 23 November 1994 private respondent Zorayda joined by
Under The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980,[3] Regional
her son Adib A. Tamano (Adib) filed a Complaint for
Trial Courts have jurisdiction over all actions involving the
Declaration of Nullity of Marriage of Tamano and Estrellita on
contract of marriage and marital relations.[4] Personal actions,
the ground that it was bigamous. They contended that Tamano
such as the instant complaint for declaration of nullity of
and Estrellita misrepresented themselves
marriage, may be commenced and tried where the plaintiff or
as divorced and single, respectively, thus making the entries in
any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant
the marriage contractfalse and fraudulent.
or any of the principal defendants resides, at the election of
Private respondents alleged that Tamano never divorced the plaintiff.[5] There should be no question by now that what
Zorayda and that Estrellita was not single when she married determines the nature of an action and correspondingly the
Tamano as the decision annulling her previous marriage with court which has jurisdiction over it are the allegations made by
Romeo C. Llave never became final and executory for non- the plaintiff in this case.[6] In the complaint for declaration of
compliance with publication requirements. nullity of marriage filed by private respondents herein, it was
alleged that Estrellita and Tamano were married in accordance
Estrellita filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the Regional
with the provisions of the Civil Code. Never was it mentioned
Trial Court of Quezon City was without jurisdiction over the
that Estrellita and Tamano were married under Muslim laws or
subject and nature of the action. She alleged that "only a party
PD No. 1083. Interestingly, Estrellita never stated in
to the marriage" could file an action for annulment of
her Motion to Dismiss that she and Tamano were married
marriage against the other spouse,[1] hence, it was only
under Muslim laws. That she was in fact married to Tamano
Tamano who could file an action for annulment of their
under Muslim laws was first mentioned only in her Motion for
marriage. Petitioner likewise contended that since Tamano
Reconsideration.
and Zorayda were both Muslims and married in Muslim rites
the jurisdiction to hear and try the instant case was vested in Nevertheless, the Regional Trial Court was not divested of
the sharia courts pursuant to Art. 155 of the Code of Muslim jurisdiction to hear and try the instant case despite the
Personal Laws. allegation in the Motion for Reconsideration that Estrellita and
Tamano were likewise married in Muslim rites. This is because
The lower court denied the motion to dismiss and ruled that
a courts jurisdiction cannot be made to depend upon defenses
the instant case was properly cognizable by the Regional Trial
set up in the answer, in a motion to dismiss, or in a motion for
Court of Quezon City since Estrellita and Tamano were married
reconsideration, but only upon the allegations of the
in accordance with the Civil Code and not exclusively in
complaint.[7] Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is
accordance with PD No. 1083[2] or the Code of Muslim Personal
determined from the allegations of the complaint as the latter
laws. The motion for reconsideration was likewise denied;
comprises a concise statement of the ultimate facts
hence, petitioner filed the instant petition with this Court
constituting the plaintiffs causes of action.[8]
seeking to set aside the 18 July 1995 order of respondent
presiding judge of the RTC-Br. 89, Quezon City, denying
46
Petitioner argues that the sharia courts have jurisdiction over
the instant suit pursuant to Art. 13, Title II, PD No.
1083,[9] which provides -

Art. 13. Application. - (1) The provisions of this Title shall apply
to marriage and divorce wherein both parties are Muslims, or
wherein only the male party is a Muslim and the marriage is
solemnized in accordance with Muslim law or this Code in any
part of the Philippines.

(2) In case of a marriage between a Muslim and a non-Muslim,


solemnized not in accordance with Muslim law or this Code,
the Civil Code of the Philippines shall apply.

(3) Subject to the provisions of the preceding paragraphs, the


essential requisites and legal impediments to marriage,
divorce, paternity and filiation, guardianship and custody of
minors, support and maintenance, claims for customary dower
(mahr), betrothal, breach of contract to marry, solemnization
and registration of marriage and divorce, rights and obligations
between husband and wife, parental authority, and the
property relations between husband and wife shall be
governed by this Code and other applicable Muslim laws.

As alleged in the complaint, petitioner and Tamano were


married in accordance with the Civil Code. Hence, contrary to
the position of petitioner, the Civil Code is applicable in the
instant case. Assuming that indeed petitioner and Tamano
were likewise married under Muslim laws, the same would still
fall under the general original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial
Courts.

Article 13 of PD No. 1083 does not provide for a situation


where the parties were married both in civil and Muslim
rites. Consequently, the sharia courts are not vested with
original andexclusive jurisdiction when it comes to marriages
celebrated under both civil and Muslim laws. Consequently,
the Regional Trial Courts are not divested of their general
original jurisdiction under Sec. 19, par. (6) of BP Blg. 129 which
provides -

Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in Civil Cases. - Regional Trial Courts shall


exercise exclusive original jurisdiction: x x x (6) In all cases not
within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person
or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions x x x x

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The decision of


the Court of Appeals sustaining the 18 July 1995 and 22 August
1995 orders of the Regional Trial Court - Br. 89, Quezon City,
denying the motion to dismiss and reconsideration thereof, is
AFFIRMED. Let the records of this case be immediately
remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings until
terminated. SO ORDERED.

47
FILOMENA DOMAGAS, petitioner, vs. VIVIAN LAYNO amount of TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00) PESOS, and,
JENSEN, respondent. CALLEJO, SR., J.: costs.

This is a petition for review on certiorari, under Rule 45 of the Plaintiff further prays for other reliefs and remedies just and
Rules of Court, of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) equitable in the premises.[4]
in CA-G.R. CV No. 73995, which affirmed the Decision [2] of the
The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 879. The summons and
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dagupan City, Branch 44, in Civil
the complaint were not served on the respondent because the
Case No. 2000-0244-D, which declared null and void the
latter was apparently out of the country. This was relayed to
decision of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Calasiao,
the Sheriff by her (the respondents) brother, Oscar Layno, who
Pangasinan in Civil Case No. 879.[3]
was then in the respondents house at No. 572 Barangay
The antecedent facts follow. On February 19, 1999, petitioner Buenlag, Calasiao, Pangasinan. The Sheriff left the summons
Filomena Domagas filed a complaint for forcible entry against and complaint with Oscar Layno, who received the same.[5]
respondent Vivian Jensen before the MTC of Calasiao,
Nonetheless, on May 17, 1999, the court rendered judgment
Pangasinan. The petitioner alleged in her complaint that she
ordering the respondent and all persons occupying the
was the registered owner of a parcel of land covered by
property for and in the latters behalf to vacate the disputed
Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-30980, situated in
area and to pay monthly rentals therefor, including actual
Barangay Buenlag, Calasiao, Pangasinan, and with an area of
damages, attorneys fees, and exemplary damages. The fallo of
827 square meters. On January 9, 1999 the respondent, by
the decision reads:
means of force, strategy and stealth, gained entry into the
petitioners property by excavating a portion thereof and 1) Ordering the defendant, her representatives, agents and
thereafter constructing a fence thereon. As such, the persons acting under her, to vacate the 68-square meters
petitioner was deprived of a 68-square meter portion of her which she encroached upon;
property along the boundary line. The petitioner prayed that,
after due proceedings, judgment be rendered in her favor, 2) Ordering the defendant to pay a monthly rental
thus: of P1,000.00 to the plaintiff;

3. And, after trial, judgment be rendered: 3) To pay plaintiff actual damages of P20,000.00; attorneys
fees of P15,000.00 and exemplary damages in the amount
a) DECLARING the writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction of P20,000.00 plus the costs.
and Writ of Preliminary Injunction permanent;
SO ORDERED.[6]
b) ORDERING defendant, his representatives, agents and
persons acting under her, to vacate the portion of the property The respondent failed to appeal the decision. Consequently, a
of the plaintiff occupied by them and to desist from entering, writ of execution was issued on September 27, 1999.
excavating and constructing in the said property of the plaintiff
On August 16, 2000, the respondent filed a complaint against
described in paragraph 2 hereof and/or from disturbing the
the petitioner before the RTC of Dagupan City for the
peaceful ownership and possession of the plaintiff over the
annulment of the decision of the MTC in Civil Case No. 879, on
said land, pending the final resolution of the instant action;
the ground that due to the Sheriffs failure to serve the
c) ORDERING defendant to pay reasonable rental at FIVE complaint and summons on her because she was in Oslo,
THOUSAND (P5,000.00) PESOS per month from January 9, Norway, the MTC never acquired jurisdiction over her person.
1999 up to the time she finally vacates and removes all The respondent alleged therein that the service of the
constructions made by her in the property of the plaintiff and complaint and summons through substituted service on her
up to the time she finally restores the said property in the brother, Oscar Layno, was improper because of the following:
condition before her illegal entry, excavation and construction (a) when the complaint in Civil Case No. 879 was filed, she was
in the property of the plaintiff; not a resident of Barangay Buenlag, Calasiao, Pangasinan, but
of Oslo, Norway, and although she owned the house where
d) ORDERING defendant to pay actual damages in the amount Oscar Layno received the summons and the complaint, she had
of TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00) PESOS; moral damages in then leased it to Eduardo Gonzales; (b) she was in Oslo,
the amount of TWENTY THOUSAND (P20,000.00) PESOS; Norway, at the time the summons and the complaint were
attorneys fees of THIRTY THOUSAND (P30,000.00) PESOS in served; (c) her brother, Oscar Layno, was merely visiting her
retainers fee and ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED (P1,500.00) house in Barangay Buenlag and was not a resident nor an
PESOS per court appearance fee; exemplary damages in the occupant thereof when he received the complaint and

48
summons; and (d) Oscar Layno was never authorized to receive The petitioner appended the following to her answer: (a) a
the summons and the complaint for and in her behalf.[7] copy[13] of the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Jose Layno in
her favor, dated August 26, 1992, showing that the respondent
The respondent further alleged that the MTC had no
was a resident of Barangay Buenlag, Calasiao, Pangasinan; (b)
jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint in Civil
a Real Estate Mortgage[14] executed by the respondent, dated
Case No. 879 because the petitioner, the plaintiff therein,
February 9, 1999 showing that she was a resident of Barangay
failed to show prior possession of the property. She further
Buenlag, Calasiao, Pangasinan; (c) the Joint Affidavit[15] of
claimed that the alleged forcible entry was simply based on the
Vicenta Peralta and Orlando Macalanda, both residents of
result of the survey conducted by Geodetic Engineer Leonardo
Barangay Buenlag, Calasiao, Pangasinan, declaring that the
de Vera showing that the property of the respondent
respondent and her brother Oscar Layno were their neighbors;
encroached on that of the petitioner.
that the respondent and her brother had been residents of
The respondent filed a Manifestation dated August 31, 2000, Barangay Buenlag since their childhood; that although the
and appended thereto the following: (a) a copy [8] of her respondent left the country on several occasions, she returned
passport showing that she left the country on February 17, to the Philippines and resided in her house at No. 572 located
1999; (b) a copy[9] of the Contract of Lease dated November in the said barangay; and (d) the Voters Registration
24, 1997, executed by her and Eduardo D. Gonzales over her Record[16] of Oscar Layno, approved on June 15, 1997.
house for a period of three (3) years or until November 24,
After due proceedings, the trial court rendered a decision in
2000; (c) her affidavit[10] stating, inter alia, that she owned the
favor of the respondent. The dispositive portion reads:
house at Barangay Buenlag, Calasiao, Pangasinan, which she
leased to Eduardo Gonzales; that she was married to Jarl WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered in favor of plaintiff Vivian
Jensen, a citizen of Norway, on August 23, 1987 and had Layno Jensen and against defendant Filomena Domagas, as
resided in Norway with her husband since 1993; that she follows:
arrived in the Philippines on December 31, 1998, but left on
1. The Decision of the Municipal Trial Court of Calasiao,
February 17, 1999; she returned to the Philippines on July 30,
Pangasinan in Civil Case No. 879, entitled Filomena Domagas
2000 and learned, only then, of the complaint against her and
versus Vivian Layno Jensen is declared null and void, for lack of
the decision of the MTC in Civil Case No. 879; her brother Oscar
jurisdiction over the person of the plaintiff and the subject
Layno was not a resident of the house at Barangay Buenlag;
matter.
and that she never received the complaint and summons in
said case; (d) the affidavit[11] of Oscar Layno declaring that 2. Defendant Filomena Domagas is ordered to pay plaintiff, the
sometime in April 1999, he was in the respondents house to following:
collect rentals from Eduardo Gonzales; that the Sheriff arrived
and served him with a copy of the summons and the complaint a.) Actual damages, representing litigation expenses in the
in Civil Case No. 879; and that he never informed the amount of P50,000.00;
respondent of his receipt of the said summons and complaint;
b.) Attorneys fees in the amount of P50,000.00;
(e) an affidavit[12] of Eduardo Gonzales stating that he leased
the house of the respondent and resided thereat; the c.) Moral Damages in the amount of P50,000.00;
respondent was not a resident of the said house although he
(Gonzales) allowed the respondent to occupy a room therein d.) Exemplary Damages in the amount of P50,000.00; and
whenever she returned to the Philippines as a balikbayan; and e.) Costs of suit.
that Oscar Layno was not residing therein but only collected
the rentals. SO ORDERED.[17]

In her answer to the complaint, the petitioner alleged that the The trial court declared that there was no valid service of the
respondent was a resident of Barangay Buenlag, Calasiao, complaint and summons on the respondent, the defendant in
Pangasinan and was the owner of the subject premises where Civil Case No. 879, considering that she left the Philippines on
Oscar Layno was when the Sheriff served the summons and February 17, 1999 for Oslo, Norway, and her brother Oscar
complaint; that the service of the complaint and summons by Layno was never authorized to receive the said complaint and
substituted service on the respondent, the defendant in Civil summons for and in her behalf.
Case No. 879, was proper since her brother Oscar Layno, a
The petitioner appealed the decision to the CA which, on May
resident and registered voter of Barangay. Buenlag, Calasiao,
6, 2003, rendered judgment affirming the appealed decision
Pangasinan, received the complaint and summons for and in
with modifications. The CA ruled that the complaint in Civil
her behalf.
Case No. 879 was one for ejectment, which is an action quasi
49
in rem. The appellate court ruled that since the defendant to specifically perform some act or actions to fasten a
therein was temporarily out of the country, the summons and pecuniary liability on him.[22] An action in personam is said to
the complaint should have been served via extraterritorial be one which has for its object a judgment against the person,
service under Section 15 in relation to Section 16, Rule 14 of as distinguished from a judgment against the propriety to
the Rules of Court, which likewise requires prior leave of court. determine its state. It has been held that an action in
Considering that there was no prior leave of court and none of personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights or
the modes of service prescribed by the Rules of Court was obligations; such action is brought against the person. As far as
followed by the petitioner, the CA concluded that there was suits for injunctive relief are concerned, it is well-settled that it
really no valid service of summons and complaint upon the is an injunctive act in personam.[23] In Combs v. Combs,[24] the
respondent, the defendant in Civil Case No. 879. appellate court held that proceedings to enforce personal
rights and obligations and in which personal judgments are
Hence, the present petition. The petitioner assails the decision
rendered adjusting the rights and obligations between the
of the CA, alleging that the appellate court erred in holding that
affected parties is in personam. Actions for recovery of real
the respondents complaint for ejectment is an action quasi in
property are in personam.[25]
rem. The petitioner insists that the complaint for forcible entry
is an action in personam; therefore, substituted service of the On the other hand, a proceeding quasi in rem is one brought
summons and complaint on the respondent, in accordance against persons seeking to subject the property of such
with Section 7, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court, is valid. The persons to the discharge of the claims assailed.[26] In an
petitioner, likewise, asserts that Oscar Layno is a resident and action quasi in rem, an individual is named as defendant and
a registered voter of Barangay Buenlag, Calasiao, Pangasinan; the purpose of the proceeding is to subject his interests
hence, the service of the complaint and summons on the therein to the obligation or loan burdening the
respondent through him is valid. property.[27] Actions quasi in rem deal with the status,
ownership or liability of a particular property but which are
The respondent, on the other hand, asserts that the action for
intended to operate on these questions only as between the
forcible entry filed against her was an action quasi in rem, and
particular parties to the proceedings and not to ascertain or
that the applicable provision of the Rules of Court is Section 15
cut off the rights or interests of all possible claimants. The
of Rule 14, which calls for extraterritorial service of summons.
judgments therein are binding only upon the parties who
The sole issue is whether or not there was a valid service of the joined in the action.[28]
summons and complaint in Civil Case No. 879 on the
Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court provides: Section
respondent herein who was the defendant in the said case.
1. Who may institute proceedings, and when. - Subject to the
The resolution of the matter is anchored on the issue of
provisions of the next succeeding section, a person deprived of
whether or not the action of the petitioner in the MTC against
the possession of any land or building in force, intimidation,
the respondent herein is an action in personam or quasi in rem.
threat, strategy, or stealth, or a lessor, vendor, vendee, or
The ruling of the CA that the petitioners complaint for forcible other person against whom the possession of any land or
entry of the petitioner against the respondent in Civil Case No. building is unlawfully withheld after the expiration or
879 is an action quasi in rem, is erroneous. The action of the termination of the right to hold possession by virtue of any
petitioner for forcible entry is a real action and one in contract, express or implied, or the legal representatives or
personam. assigns of any such lessor, vendor, vendee, or other person,
may, at any time within one (1) year after such unlawful
The settled rule is that the aim and object of an action deprivation or withholding of possession, bring an action in the
determine its character.[18] Whether a proceeding is in rem, proper Municipal Trial Court against the person or persons
or in personam, or quasi in rem for that matter, is determined unlawfully withholding or depriving of possession, or any
by its nature and purpose, and by these only. [19] A proceeding person or persons claiming under them, for the restitution of
in personam is a proceeding to enforce personal rights and such possession, together with damages and costs.
obligations brought against the person and is based on the
jurisdiction of the person, although it may involve his right to, Under Section 15, Rule 70 of the said Rule, the plaintiff may be
or the exercise of ownership of, specific property, or seek to granted a writ of preliminary prohibition or mandatory
compel him to control or dispose of it in accordance with the injunction:
mandate of the court.[20] The purpose of a proceeding in
Sec. 15. Preliminary Injunction. The court may grant
personam is to impose, through the judgment of a court, some
preliminary injunction, in accordance with the provisions of
responsibility or liability directly upon the person of the
Rule 58 hereof, to prevent the defendant from committing
defendant.[21] Of this character are suits to compel a defendant
further acts of dispossession against the plaintiff.
50
A possessor deprived of his possession through forcible entry The contention of the petitioner has no merit.
or unlawful detainer may, within five (5) days from the filing of
In Asiavest Limited v. Court of Appeals,[31] the Court had the
the complaint, present a motion in the action for forcible entry
occasion to state:
or unlawful detainer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
mandatory injunction to restore him in his possession. The In an action in personam, jurisdiction over the person of the
court shall decide the motion within thirty (30) days from the defendant is necessary for the court to validly try and decide
filing thereof. the case. Jurisdiction over the person of a resident defendant
who does not voluntarily appear in court can be acquired by
If, after due proceedings, the trial court finds for the plaintiff,
personal service of summons as provided under Section 7, Rule
it shall then render judgment in his or her favor, thus:
14 of the Rules of Court. If he cannot be personally served with
Sec. 17. Judgment. If, after trial, the court finds that the summons within a reasonable time, substituted service may be
allegations of the complaint are true, it shall render judgment made in accordance with Section 8 of said Rule. If he is
in favor of the plaintiff for the restitution of the premises, the temporarily out of the country, any of the following modes of
sum justly due as arrears of rent or as reasonable service may be resorted to: (a) substituted service set forth in
compensation for the use and occupation of the premises, Section 8; (2) personal service outside the country, with leave
attorneys fees and costs. If it finds that said allegations are not of court; (3) service by publication, also with leave of court; or
true, it shall render judgment for the defendant to recover his (4) any other manner the court may deem sufficient.[32]
costs. If a counterclaim is established, the court shall render
Thus, any judgment of the court which has no jurisdiction over
judgment for the sum found in arrears from either party and
the person of the defendant is null and void.[33]
award costs as justice requires.
In the present case, the records show that the respondent,
From the aforementioned provisions of the Rules of Court and
before and after his marriage to Jarl Jensen on August 23,
by its very nature and purpose, an action for unlawful detainer
1987, remained a resident of Barangay Buenlag, Calasiao,
or forcible entry is a real action and in personam because the
Pangasinan. This can be gleaned from the Deed of Absolute
plaintiff seeks to enforce a personal obligation or liability on
Sale dated August 26, 1992 in which she declared that she was
the defendant under Article 539 of the New Civil Code, [29] for
a resident of said barangay. Moreover, in the Real Estate
the latter to vacate the property subject of the action, restore
Mortgage Contract dated February 9, 1999, ten days before
physical possession thereof to the plaintiff, and pay actual
the complaint in Civil Case No. 879 was filed, the petitioner
damages by way of reasonable compensation for his use or
categorically stated that she was a Filipino and a resident of
occupation of the property.[30]
Barangay Buenlag, Calasiao, Pangasinan. Considering that the
As gleaned from the averments of the petitioners complaint in respondent was in Oslo, Norway, having left the Philippines on
the MTC, she sought a writ of a preliminary injunction from the February 17, 1999, the summons and complaint in Civil Case
MTC and prayed that the said writ be made permanent. Under No. 879 may only be validly served on her through substituted
its decision, the MTC ordered the defendant therein (the service under Section 7, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court, which
respondent in this case), to vacate the property and pay a reads:
monthly rental of P1,000.00 to the plaintiff therein (the
SEC. 7. Substituted service. If, for justifiable causes, the
petitioner in this case).
defendant cannot be served within a reasonable time as
On the issue of whether the respondent was validly served provided in the preceding section, service may be effected (a)
with the summons and complaint by the Sheriff on April 5, by leaving copies of the summons at the defendants residence
1999, the petitioner asserts that since her action of forcible with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing
entry against the respondent in Civil Case No. 879 was in therein, or (b) by leaving the copies at defendants office or
personam, summons may be served on the respondent, by regular place of business with some competent person in
substituted service, through her brother, Oscar Layno, in charge thereof.
accordance with Section 7, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court. The
Strict compliance with the mode of service is required in order
petitioner avers that Oscar Layno, a person of suitable age and
that the court may acquire jurisdiction over the person of the
discretion, was residing in the house of the respondent on April
defendant.[34] The statutory requirement of substituted
5, 1999. She avers that the fact that the house was leased to
service must be followed faithfully and strictly and any
and occupied by Eduardo Gonzales was of no moment.
substituted service other than that authorized by the statute is
Moreover, the Sheriff is presumed to have performed his duty
rendered ineffective.[35] As the Court held in Hamilton v.
of properly serving the summons on the respondent by
Levy:[36]
substituted service.

51
The pertinent facts and circumstances attendant to the service The Voters Registration Record of Oscar Layno dated June 15,
of summons must be stated in the proof of service or Officers 1997 wherein he declared that he was a resident of No. 572
Return; otherwise, any substituted service made in lieu of Barangay Buenlag, Calasiao, Pangasinan, as well as the Joint
personal service cannot be upheld. This is necessary because Affidavit of Vicenta Peralta and Orlando Macasalda cannot
substituted service is in derogation of the usual method of prevail over the Contract of Lease the respondent had
service. It is a method extraordinary in character and hence executed in favor of Eduardo Gonzales showing that the latter
may be used only as prescribed and in the circumstances had resided and occupied the house of the respondent as
authorized by statute. Here, no such explanation was made. lessee since November 24, 1997, and the affidavit of Eduardo
Failure to faithfully, strictly, and fully comply with the Gonzales that Oscar Layno was not residing in the said house
requirements of substituted service renders said service on April 5, 1999.
ineffective.[37]
In sum, then, the respondent was not validly served with
In Keister v. Narcereo,[38] the Court held that the term dwelling summons and the complaint in Civil Case No. 879 on April 5,
house or residence are generally held to refer to the time of 1999, by substituted service. Hence, the MTC failed to acquire
service; hence, it is not sufficient to leave the summons at the jurisdiction over the person of the respondent; as such, the
formers dwelling house, residence or place of abode, as the decision of the MTC in Civil Case No. 879 is null and void.
case may be. Dwelling house or residence refers to the place
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED for
where the person named in the summons is living at the time
lack of merit. No costs. SO ORDERED.
when the service is made, even though he may be temporarily
out of the country at the time. It is, thus, the service of the
summons intended for the defendant that must be left with
the person of suitable age and discretion residing in the house
of the defendant. Compliance with the rules regarding the
service of summons is as much important as the issue of due
process as of jurisdiction.[39]

The Return of Service filed by Sheriff Eduardo J. Abulencia on


the service of summons reads:

Respectfully returned to the court of origin the herein


summons and enclosures in the above-entitled case, the
undersigned caused the service on April 5, 1999.

Defendant Vivian Layno Jensen is out of the country as per


information from her brother Oscar Layno, however, copy of
summons and enclosures was received by her brother Oscar
Layno on April 5, 1999 as evidenced by his signature appearing
in the original summons.

Calasiao, Pangasinan, April 6, 1999.

(Sgd.) EDUARDO J. ABULENCIA Junior Process Server[40]

As gleaned from the said return, there is no showing that as of


April 5, 1999, the house where the Sheriff found Oscar Layno
was the latters residence or that of the respondent herein.
Neither is there any showing that the Sheriff tried to ascertain
where the residence of the respondent was on the said date.
It turned out that the occupant of the house was a lessor,
Eduardo Gonzales, and that Oscar Layno was in the premises
only to collect the rentals from him. The service of the
summons on a person at a place where he was a visitor is not
considered to have been left at the residence or place or
abode, where he has another place at which he ordinarily stays
and to which he intends to return.[41]
52
ERNESTO V. YU and ELSIE O. YU, Petitioners, vs. BALTAZAR counterclaim dated December 8, 1995. After the issues were
PACLEB,1 Respondent. CORONA, J.: joined, the MTC required the submission of the parties’
position papers at a preliminary conference on March 11,
The present petition filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
1996. Respondent failed to comply.
originated from an action for forcible entry and damages filed
by petitioners Ernesto and Elsie Yu against respondent Baltazar On June 17, 1996, the MTC ruled:
Pacleb.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the [respondent] and
The antecedent facts follow. Sometime in September 1992, other persons claiming right under him are hereby ordered to
Ruperto Javier allegedly offered to sell Lot No. 6853-D to surrender physical possession of Lot No. 6853-D in favor of the
petitioners for P75 per sq.m.lawphil.net The lot was [petitioners] and to pay the sum of TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND
approximately 18,000 square meters and was located in (P25,000.00) PESOS as attorney’s fees.SO ORDERED.4
Barangay Langkaan, Dasmariñas, Cavite. Javier supposedly
On appeal,5 the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Imus, Cavite
purchased the lot from one Rebecca del Rosario who, in turn,
rendered a decision affirming the MTC decision in toto.6
acquired it from respondent and his wife. The title of the
property (Transfer Certificate of Title [TCT] No. T-118375), Respondent elevated his case to the Court of Appeals
however, remained in the names of respondent and his wife. (CA)7 which rendered the assailed decision on March 18, 1997:
The instruments in support of the series of alleged sales were
not registered. WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED; the Decision dated
October 25, 1996 of the [RTC] of Imus, Cavite in Civil Case No.
On September 11, 1992, petitioners accepted the offer and 052-96 and the Decision of the [MTC] of Dasmariñas, Cavite in
gave Javier P200,000 as downpayment for the lot. Javier then Civil Case No. 182 are SET ASIDE; and Civil Case No. 182 for
delivered his supposed muniments of title to petitioners. After Forcible Entry and Damages is hereby ordered DISMISSED. No
the execution of a contract to sell, he formally turned over the pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.8
property to petiti oners.
In a resolution dated August 20, 1997, the CA denied
At the time of the turn-over, a portion of the lot was occupied petitioners’ motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.
by Ramon C. Pacleb, respondent’s son, and his wife as tenants.
On September 12, 1992, Ramon and his wife allegedly Before us now come petitioners who claim that the appellate
surrendered possession of their portion to petitioners. Later court erred in finding that respondent had prior physical
on, petitioners appointed Ramon as their trustee over the possession of the subject property.lawphil.net
subject lot.
"In an action for forcible entry, the plaintiff must prove that he
Aside from taking possession of the property, petitioners also was in prior possession of the land or building and that he was
caused the annotation on TCT No. T-118375 of a decision deprived thereof by means of force, intimidation, threat,
rendered in their favor in Civil Case No. 741-93.2 This decision strategy or stealth."9 The plaintiff, however, cannot prevail
attained finality on April 19, 1995. where it appears that, as between himself and the defendant,
the latter had possession antedating his own. 10 We are
Petitioners alleged that they exercised ownership rights as well generally precluded in a Rule 45 petition from reviewing
as enjoyed open, public and peaceful possession over the factual evidence tracing the events prior to the first act of
property from September 12, 1992 until the early part of spoliation.11 However, the conflicting factual findings of the
September 1995. During this time, respondent was in the MTC and RTC on one hand, and the CA on the other, require us
United States. to make an exception.
Upon respondent’s return to the Philippines in May 1995, he We overrule petitioners’ contentions.
allegedly entered the property by means of force, threat,
intimidation, strategy and stealth thereby ousting petitioners The Civil Code states that possession is the holding of a thing
and their trustee, Ramon. or the enjoyment of a right.12 In the grammatical sense, to
possess means to have, to actually and physically occupy a
Despite repeated demands, respondent, asserting his rights as thing, with or without right.13 "Possession always includes the
registered owner of the property, refused to vacate the idea of occupation x x x. It is not necessary that the person in
premises and surrender its possession to petitioners. possession should himself be the occupant. The occupancy can
be held by another in his name."14 Without occupancy, there
Petitioners filed an action for forcible entry3 in the Municipal
is no possession.15
Trial Court (MTC) of Dasmariñas, Cavite on November 23,
1995. Respondent filed an answer with compulsory
53
Two things are paramount in possession.16 First, there must be time the Kusangloob na Pagsasauli document was executed,
occupancy, apprehension or taking. Second, there must be the caretaker of the land was no longer Ramon but Oscar.24
intent to possess (animus possidendi).17
Most important, the title of the land in question (TCT No. T-
Here, petitioners failed to establish that they had prior physical 118375) remained in the name of respondent.25 "As the
possession to justify a ruling in their favor in the complaint for registered owner, petitioner had a right to the possession of
forcible entry against respondent. the property, which is one of the attributes of
ownership."26 The Civil Code states:
In the decision in Civil Case No. 741-93 (a case for specific
performance and damages against Javier, the alleged vendor Art. 538. Possession as a fact cannot be recognized at the same
of the lot in question) upon which petitioners based their right time in two different personalities except in the cases of co-
to possess in the first place, the trial court categorically stated: possession. Should a question arise regarding the fact of
possession, the present possessor shall be preferred; if there
The [petitioners were never placed] in possession of the
are two possessors, the one longer in possession; if the dates
subject property on which [was] planned to be [site of] a
of the possession are the same, the one who presents a title;
piggery, nor [were they] given a clearance or certification from
and if all these conditions are equal, the thing shall be placed
the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer. 18(emphasis ours)
in judicial deposit pending determination of its possession or
The claim that the lot was turned over to petitioners in 1992 ownership through proper proceedings.
was self-serving in the face of this factual finding. On the other
In view of the evidence establishing respondent’s continuing
hand, the tax declarations and receipts in the name of
possession of the subject property, petitioners’ allegation that
respondent in 1994 and 1995 established the possession of
respondent deprived them of actual possession by means of
respondent.19 The payment of real estate tax is one of the
force, intimidation and threat was clearly untenable. In Gaza
most persuasive and positive indications showing the will of a
v. Lim, we held that:
person to possess in concepto de dueño or with claim of
ownership.20 Where a dispute over possession arises between two persons,
the person first having actual possession is the one who is
"[P]ossession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man
entitled to maintain the action granted by law; otherwise, a
has to have his feet on every square meter of the ground
mere usurper without any right whatever, might enter upon
before he is deemed in possession."21 In this case, Ramon, as
the property of another and, by allowing himself to be ordered
respondent’s son, was named caretaker when respondent left
off, could acquire the right to maintain the action of forcible
for the United States in 1983.22 Due to the eventual loss of
entry and detainer, however momentary his intrusion might
trust and confidence in Ramon, however, respondent
have been.27
transferred the administration of the land to his other son,
Oscar, in January 1995 until his return in May 1995. 23 In other WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of
words, the subject land was in the possession of the the Court of Appeals dated March 18, 1997 in CA-G.R. SP No.
respondent’s sons during the contested period. 42604 is AFFIRMED.osts against petitioners.SO ORDERED.

Petitioners cite an alleged document (Kusangloob na


Pagsasauli ng Lupang Sakahan at Pagpapahayag ng
Pagtalikod sa Karapatan) dated March 10, 1995 executed by
them and Ramon to prove a turn over of possession. They also
seek to prove their exercise of rights over the land through
alleged frequent visits and the designation of Ramon as their
own trustee as declared in a joint affidavit attached to their
position paper filed with the MTC. These instruments,
however, fail to convince us of petitioners’ actual occupancy of
the subject land. First, petitioners themselves acknowledged
that Ramon and his wife occupied part of the land as tenants
of respondent. Second, Ramon, a mere tenant, had no
authority to sign such document dated March 10, 1995 waiving
all rights to the land. Third, there was no clear proof in the
records of the appointment of Ramon as petitioners’ trustee
save their self-serving statements to this effect. Finally, at the

54
REBECCA T. CABUTIHAN, petitioner, vs. LANDCENTER WHEREFORE, premises considered and of the mutual
CONSTRUCTION & DEVELOPMENT covenants of the parties, they have agreed, as follows:
CORPORATION, respondent. PANGANIBAN, J.:
1. The FACILITATOR undertakes to effect the recovery of the
Breach of contract gives rise to a cause of action for specific property subject hereof, including the financing of the
performance or for rescission. A suit for such breach is not undertaking, up to the registration of the same in the name of
capable of pecuniary estimation; hence, the assessed value of [respondent corporation], except any and all taxes due;
the real estate, subject of the said action, should not be
2. The FACILITATOR shall be responsible for whatever
considered in computing the filing fees. Neither a misjoinder
arrangements necessary in relation to the squatters presently
nor a non-joinder of parties is a ground for dismissal of an
occupying [a] portion of the property, as well as the legitimate
action, because parties may be dropped or added at any stage
buyers of lots thereof;
of the proceedings.
3. As compensation for the undertaking of the FACILITATOR,
The Case Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under
[she] shall be entitled to Twenty [Percent] (20%) of the total
Rule 45, assailing the Orders dated September 8, 2000 and
area of the property thus recovered for and in behalf of
November 21, 2000, promulgated by of the Regional Trial
[respondent corporation].
Court (RTC) of Pasig City, Branch 263.[1] The first assailed Order
disposed as follows: Armed with Board Resolution No. 01, Series of 1997,[6] which
had authorized her to represent the corporation, Luz Baylon
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, this Court
Ponce entered into a February 11, 1997 Deed of Undertaking
hereby resolves to dismiss the instant complaint.[2]
with a group composed of petitioner, Wenifredo P. Forro,
Reconsideration was denied in the second challenged Order.[3] Nicanor Radan Sr. and Atty. Prospero A. Anave. The Deed
states the following:
The Facts Culled from the pleadings, the facts of this case are
as follows. On December 3, 1996, herein respondent WHEREAS, the UNDERTAKER [respondent corporation]
Landcenter Construction & Development Corporation, solicited, engaged and hereby voluntarily acknowledges the
represented by Wilfredo B.Maghuyop -- entered into an assistance of certain persons, in recovering, arranging and
Agreement[4] with Petitioner Rebecca Cabutihan.The financing the undertaking up to completion/consummation of
Agreement stipulates: the same;

WHEREAS, [respondent corporation], x x x is the absolute WHEREAS, the UNDERTAKER freely, voluntarily,
owner, x x x of a parcel of land situated at Kay-biga, Paranaque, unconditionally and irrevocably agreed, committed and
Metro Manila covered under Transfer Certificate of Title No. undertook to compensate x x x said persons, in the manner,
(S-30409) (partially cancelled by TCT Nos. 110001 to 110239) specified hereinbelow;
and particularly described as follows:
WHEREFORE, considering the foregoing premises, and the
A parcel of land (Plan Psu-80206, Case No. 290, G.L.R.O. Record mutual covenants of the parties, the UNDERTAKER hereby
No. 2291), situated in the Barrio of Kay-biga, Municipality of unconditionally and irrevocably [c]ommit[s] and
Paranaque, Province of Rizal. Bounded on the NE., by [u]ndertake[s], as follows:
properties of Eulogio Cruz and Isidro Alano; on the E., by
1. To pay or compensate the following persons, based on the
property of Justo Bernardo; on the SE., by properties of
gross area of the afore-described parcel of land or gross
Marcelo Nofuente and Lorenzo Molera; on the SW., by
proceeds of the sale thereof, as the case may be, to wit:
properties of Higino and Pedro P. Lopez; on the W., by property
of Odon Rodriguez; and on the NW., by properties of Evaristo Rebecca T. Cabutihan ------------------------------------ 20%
de los Santos and Pastor Leonardo.....; containing an area of
ONE HUNDRED SEVEN THOUSAND AND FORTY SEVEN Wenifredo P. Forro ----------------------------------- 10%
(107,047) SQUARE METERS, more or less.
Nicanor Radan, Sr. ------------------------------------ 4%
WHEREAS, [respondent corporation] decided to engage the
Atty. Prospero A. Anave ----------------------------------- 2.5%
assistance of [petitioner] and x x x herein called the
FACILITATOR for the purpose of facilitating and arranging the TOTAL ----------------------------------- 36.5%
recovery of the property in question, as well as the financing
of such undertakings necessary in connection thereto; 2. Execute a Deed of Assignment unto and in favor of each of
the persons above-mentioned corresponding to their

55
respective shares in the subject parcel of land or in the 5. Because of the troubled situation obtaining at the
proceeds thereof; management level of [respondent corporation], the sale
between [respondent corporation] and PCIB regarding the
3. This Undertaking as well as the Deed of Assignment above-
Fourth Estate Subdivision was not registered with the Register
stated shall be effective and binding upon the heirs,
of Deeds office, although [respondent corporation] continued
successors-in-interest, assigns or designates of the parties
holding the deed of sale over the Fourth Estate Subdivision.
herein.[7]
6. A group of persons led by one Wilfredo Maghuyop, including
An action for specific performance with damages was filed by
herein [petitioner], Wenifredo Forro, Nicanor Radan, and
petitioner on October 14, 1999 before the RTC of Pasig City,
others, taking advantage of the management mess at
Branch 263. She alleged:
[respondent corporation], tried to grab ownership of the
[6.] [Petitioner] accomplished her undertakings under the [respondent corporation], and with use of fraud, cheat,
subject Agreement and the Undertaking. So in a letter dated misrepresentation and theft of vital documents from the office
18 April 1997, x x x, [respondent corporation] was informed of [respondent corporation], succeeded in filing with the
accordingly thereof.Simultaneously, [petitioner] demanded Securities and Exchange Commission false papers and
upon [respondent corporation] to execute the corresponding documents purporting to show that the Articles of
Deed of Assignment of the lots in the subject property, as Incorporation of [respondent corporation] had been amended,
compensation for the services rendered in favor of the installing Maghuyop as president of [respondent
[respondent corporation]. The subject letter was duly received corporation]. It was on these occasions that [petitioner] and
and acknowledged receipt, by then Acting Corporate Secretary her companions x x x, with use of fraud, stealth, tricks, deceit
of the [respondent corporation]. and cheat succeeded in letting Luz Baylon Ponce sign a so-
called Deed of Undertaking by virtue of which [respondent
[7.] [Respondent corporation] failed and refused to act on x x corporation] is duty-bound to give to [petitioner], Forro, Radan
x said demand of [petitioner]. Hence, [she] sent a letter dated and Atty. Prospero Anave 36.5% of the land area of the Fourth
May 8, 1997, to the Register of Deeds for Paranaque, to inform Estate Subdivision as compensation for alleged services and
x x x said Office of x x x [her] claim x x x; expenses made by these people in favor of [respondent
corporation]. They also caused said x x x Maghuyop to sign an
[8.] x x x [T]he subject property was already transferred to and
Agreement with [petitioner] expressing an obligation on the
registered in the name of [respondent corporation] under
part of [respondent corporation] to give a big part of the land
Transfer Certificate of Title No. -123917-, of the Registry of
x x x to [petitioner]. These Agreement and Deed of
Deeds for Paranaque City x x x;
Undertaking are being made by herein [petitioner] as her
[10.] With x x x said title of the property now in the possession causes of action in the present case.
of the [respondent corporation], [petitioner] is apprehensive
Wilfredo Maghuyop was a stranger to [respondent
that the more that [she] will not be able to obtain from
corporation], and he was an impostor used by [petitioner] and
[respondent corporation], compliance with the afore-stated
her companions to barge into the management of [respondent
Agreement and Undertaking, to the extreme detriment and
corporation] for the purpose of stealing and creating an
prejudice of [petitioner] and her group, x x x;
obligation against [respondent corporation] in their favor.
[12.] Then in a letter,[8] dated 10 September 1999, [petitioner]
7. But Luz Baylon Ponce, whose signature appears on the
through counsel sent to [respondent corporation] a Formal
instrument denominated as Deed of Undertaking, vehemently
Demand, to comply with its obligation x x x but x x x
denies that she signed said instrument freely and
[respondent corporation] did not heed the demand. x x x.[9]
voluntarily. She says that Wenifredo Forro and Nicanor Radan
Petitioner prayed, inter alia, that respondent corporation be were once real estate agents of [respondent corporation] who
ordered to execute the appropriate document assigning, promised to help sell lots from her project Villaluz II
conveying, transferring and delivering the particular lots in her Subdivision located [in] Malibay, Pasay City. According to Luz
favor. The lots represented compensation for the undertakings Baylon Ponce, the Board of Directors of [respondent
she performed and accomplished, as embodied in the corporation] negotiated with Forro and Radan for the latter to
Agreement. sell units/lots of Villaluz II Subdivision, and to help obtain a
financier who would finance for the expenses for the
Respondent then filed a Motion to Dismiss, alleging the reconstitution of the lost title of the Fourth Estate Subdivision
following: situated [in] Sucat, Paranaque City. Shortly thereafter, these
two men resigned from [respondent corporation] as agents,

56
after they manipulated the signing of x x x said Deed of percent of its total area or, in the alternative, to hold
Undertaking by Luz Baylon Ponce on February 11, 1997. The respondent liable for the value of the said portion, based on
latter is an old woman 80 years of age. She is weak, has x x x the prevailing market price. The RTC further ruled that, since
poor sight, and is feeble in her mental ability. Forro and Radan the suit would affect the title to the property, it should have
inserted the Deed of Undertaking among the papers intended been instituted in the trial court where the property was
for application for reconstitution of [respondent corporations] situated.[12]
title which these men caused Luz Baylon Ponce to sign, and she
Furthermore, the action was filed only by petitioner. There
unknowingly signed the Deed of Undertaking. x x x.[10]
was no allegation that she had been authorized by Forro,
In the Motion, respondent sought the dismissal of the Radan and Anave to represent their respective shares in the
Complaint on the grounds of (1) improper venue, (2) lack of compensation.
jurisdiction over the subject matter, and (3) nonpayment of
Finally, since this case was an action in rem, it was imperative
the proper docket fees.Specifically, it contended:
for petitioner to pay the appropriate docket or filing fees
8. That venue is improperly laid equivalent to the pecuniary value of her claim, a duty she failed
to discharge.Consequently, following Manchester
(b) In other words, the present case filed by [petitioner] is for
Development Corp. v. Court of Appeals,[13] the trial court never
her recovery (and for her companions) of 36.5% of
acquired jurisdiction over the case.
[respondent corporations] land (Fourth Estate Subdivision) or
her interest therein. x x x therefore, x x x the present case filed Hence, this Petition.[14]
x x x is a real action or an action in rem.
Issues
(c) x x x [Following] Section 1, Rule 4 of the Rules of Court, as
In her Memorandum, petitioner phrases the issue in this wise:
amended x x x the present case should have been filed by
[petitioner] with the proper court in Paranque City which has Whether or not the dismissal of the [C]omplaint was in
jurisdiction over the x x x Fourth Estate Subdivision because accordance with the pertinent law and jurisprudence on the
said subdivision is situated in Paranaque City. Since matter.[15]
[petitioner] filed the present case with this x x x [c]ourt in Pasig
City, she chose a wrong venue x x x. She argues that the RTC erred in dismissing her Complaint on
the grounds of (1) improper venue, (2) non-joinder of
9. That the [c]ourt has no jurisdiction over the subject matter necessary parties, and (3) non-payment of proper docket fees.
of the claim
This Courts Ruling The Petition is meritorious.
(c) x x x Wenifredo P. Forro, Nicanor Radan, Sr. and Atty.
Prospero A. Anave are not named as plaintiffs in the First Issue: Proper Venue
complaint. [Petitioner] x x x is not named as representative of
Maintaining that the action is in personam, not in
Forro, Radan and Anave by virtue of a Special Power of
rem, petitioner alleges that the venue was properly laid. The
Attorney or other formal written authority. According to the
fact that she ultimately sought the conveyance of real property
Rules, where the action is allowed to be prosecuted or
not located in the territorial jurisdiction of the RTC of Pasig is,
defended by a representative or someone acting in a fiduciary
she claims, an anticipated consequence and beyond the cause
capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of the
for which the action was instituted.
case and shall be deemed to be the real party in interest (Sec.
3, Rule 3, Rules of Court, as amended x x x). On the other hand, the RTC ruled that since the primary
objective of petitioner was to recover real property -- even
10. That a condition precedent for filing the claim has not been
though her Complaint was for specific performance and
complied with
damages -- her action should have been instituted in the trial
(b) Obviously, [petitioner] has not paid the docket or filing fees court where the property was situated, in accordance
on the value of her land claim x x x. Thirty-six percent (36%) x with Commodities Storage & Ice Plant Corp. v. Court of
x x is P180,000,000.00, x x x.[11] Appeals.[16]

Ruling of the Trial Court. The RTC ruled that the allegations in We agree with petitioner. Sections 1 and 2, Rule 4 of the Rules
the Complaint show that its primary objective was to recover of Court provide an answer to the issue of venue. [17] Actions
real property. Equally important, the prayer was to compel affecting title to or possession of real property or an interest
respondent to execute the necessary deeds of transfer and therein (real actions), shall be commenced and tried in the
conveyance of a portion of the property corresponding to 36.5 proper court that has territorial jurisdiction over the area
57
where the real property is situated. On the other hand, all case. Hence, even if there were prayers for the execution of a
other actions, (personal actions) shall be commenced and tried deed of sale, the actions filed in the said cases were not for
in the proper courts where the plaintiff or any of the principal specific performance.
plaintiffs resides or where the defendant or any of the principal
In the present case, petitioner seeks payment of her services
defendants resides.
in accordance with the undertaking the parties signed. Breach
In Commodities Storage cited earlier, petitioner spouses of contract gives rise to a cause of action for specific
obtained a loan secured by a mortgage over their land and ice performance or for rescission.[23] If petitioner had filed an
plant in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Because they had failed to pay the action in rem for the conveyance of real property, the
loan, the mortgage was foreclosed and the ice plant dismissal of the case would have been proper on the ground of
auctioned. Before the RTC of Manila, they sued the bank for lack of cause of action.
damages and for the fixing of the redemption period. Since the
Second Issue: Non-Joinder of Proper Parties
spouses ultimately sought redemption of the mortgaged
property, the action affected the mortgage debtors title to the Petitioner claims that she was duly authorized and empowered
foreclosed property; hence, it was a real action.[18] Where the to represent the members of her group and to prosecute their
action affects title to the property, it should be instituted in the claims on their behalf via a Special Power of Attorney executed
trial court where the property is situated.[19] by Forro, Radan and Anave. Besides, she argues that the
omission of her companions as plaintiffs did not prevent the
In National Steel Corp. v. Court of Appeals, [20] the Court held
RTC from proceeding with the action, because whatever
that an action in which petitioner seeks the execution of a deed
judgment would be rendered would be without prejudice to
of sale of a parcel of land in his favor x x x has been held to be
their rights. In the alternative, she avers that the trial court
for the recovery of the real property and not for specific
may add or drop a party or parties at any stage of the action
performance since his primary objective is to regain the
and on such terms as are just.
ownership and possession of the parcel of land.
The RTC ruled that there was no allegation anywhere in the
However, in La Tondea Distillers, Inc. v. Ponferrada,[21] private
records that petitioner had been authorized to represent
respondents filed an action for specific performance with
Forro, Radan and Anave, who were real parties-in-interest with
damages before the RTC of Bacolod City. The defendants
respect to their respective shares of the 36.5 percent
allegedly reneged on their contract to sell to them a parcel of
claim. Such being the case, the trial court never acquired
land located in Bago City - - a piece of property which the latter
jurisdiction over the subject matter of their claims.
sold to petitioner while the case was pending before the said
RTC. Private respondent did not claim ownership but, by Again, we side with petitioner. Neither a misjoinder nor a non-
annotating a notice of lis pendens on the title, recognized joinder of parties is a ground for the dismissal of an
defendants ownership thereof. This Court ruled that the venue action. Parties may be dropped or added by order of the court,
had properly been laid in the RTC of Bacolod, even if the on motion of any party or on the courts own initiative at any
property was situated in Bago. stage of the action.[24] The RTC should have ordered the joinder
of such party, and noncompliance with the said order would
In Siasoco v. Court of Appeals,[22] private respondent filed a
have been ground for dismissal of the action.
case for specific performance with damages before the RTC of
Quezon City. It alleged that after it accepted the offer of Although the Complaint prayed for the conveyance of the
petitioners, they sold to a third person several parcels of land whole 36.5 percent claim without impleading the companions
located in Montalban, Rizal. The Supreme Court sustained the of petitioner as party-litigants, the RTC could have separately
trial courts order allowing an amendment of the original proceeded with the case as far as her 20 percent share in the
Complaint for specific performance with damages. Contrary to claim was concerned, independent of the other 16.5
petitioners position that the RTC of Quezon City had no percent. This fact means that her companions are not
jurisdiction over the case, as the subject lots were located in indispensable parties without whom no final determination
Montalban, Rizal, the said RTC had jurisdiction over the original can be had.[25] At best, they are mere necessary parties who
Complaint. The Court reiterated the rule that a case for specific ought to be impleaded for a complete determination or
performance with damages is a personal action which may be settlement of the claim subject of the action.[26] The non-
filed in a court where any of the parties reside. inclusion of a necessary party does not prevent the court from
proceeding with the action, and the judgment rendered
A close scrutiny of National Steel and Ruiz reveals that the
therein shall be without prejudice to the rights of such party.[27]
prayers for the execution of a Deed of Sale were not in any way
connected to a contract, like the Undertaking in this Third Issue:
58
Correct Docket Fees. Petitioner insists that the value of the real
property, which was the subject of the contract, has nothing to
do with the determination of the correct docket or filing fees.

The RTC ruled that although the amount of damages sought


had not been specified in the body of the Complaint, one can
infer from the assessed value of the disputed land that it would
amount to P50 million. Hence, when compared to this figure,
the P210 paid as docket fees would appear paltry.

We hold that the trial court and respondent used technicalities


to avoid the resolution of the case and to trifle with the
law. True, Section 5, Rule 141 of the Rules of Court requires
that the assessed value of the real estate, subject of an action,
should be considered in computing the filing fees. But the
Court has already clarified that the Rule does not apply to an
action for specific performance,[28] which is classified as an
action not capable of pecuniary estimation.[29]

Besides, if during the course of the trial, petitioners 20 percent


claim on the Fourth Estate Subdivision can no longer be
satisfied and the payment of its monetary equivalent is the
only solution left, Sunlife Insurance Office, Ltd. v.
Asuncion[30] holds as follows: Where the filing of the initiatory
pleading is not accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the
court may allow payment of the fee within a reasonable time
but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or
reglementary period.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED, and the


assailed Orders REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case
is REMANDED to the court of origin which is ordered
to PROCEED with deliberate speed in disposing of the case. No
costs.

59
CITIZENS’ SURETY & INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., Petitioner, properties and causes valid summons to be served personally
v. HON. JUDGE A. MELENCIO-HERRERA, SANTIAGO or by publication as the case may be. In this manner, the tolling
DACANAY, and JOSEFINA DACANAY, Respondents. of the period of prescription for as long as the debtor remains
in hiding would properly be a matter of court record, and he
SYLLABUS can not emerge after a sufficient lapse of time from the
dismissal of the case to profit from his own misdeed and claim
1. REMEDIAL LAW; JURISDICTION; ACTION IN PERSONAM;
prescription of his just debt. REYES, J.B.L., J.:
PERSONAL SERVICE OF SUMMONS REQUIRED. — We agree
with respondent Judge that the action of plaintiff petitioner,
being in personam, the Court could not validly acquire
jurisdiction on a non-appearing defendant, absent a personal
Petitioner Citizens’ Surety & Insurance Company, Inc. seeks
service of summons within the forum. We have explicitly so
review of an order of respondent Judge in Civil Case No. 77134
ruled in Pantaleon v. Asuncion, 105 Phil. 765, pointing out
of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XVII, entitled
without such personal service, any judgment on a non-
"Citizens’ Surety & Insurance Co., Inc. v. Santiago Dacanay and
appearing defendant would be violative of due process. In the
Josefina Dacanay," dismissing the complaint for lack of proper
aforecited case this Court, through Justice Roberto
service of summons upon defendants.
Concepcion, now Chief Justice, ruled as follows: . . . "It is a well-
settled principle of Constitutional Law that, in an action strictly
The record is to the effect that petitioner had filed its
in personam, like the one at bar, personal service of summons,
complaint in the Court below, alleging that at request of
within the forum, is essential to the acquisition of jurisdiction
defendant Santiago Dacanay, the plaintiff Surety Company had
over the person of the defendant, who does not voluntary
issued its Surety Bonds Nos. 4942 and 4944, the first, in favor
submit himself to the authority of the court. In other words,
of Gregorio Fajardo to guarantee payment of a P5,000-
summons by publication cannot — consistently with the due
promissory note executed by said Dacanay, and the second, in
process clause in the Bill of Rights — confer upon the court
favor of Manufacturers Bank & Trust Co., to guarantee
jurisdiction over said defendants.’Due process of law requires
payment of another promissory note in like amount; that in
personal service to support a personal judgment, and, when
consideration of said bonds, Santiago and Josefina Dacanay
the proceeding is strictly in personam brought to determine
executed Indemnity Agreements, binding themselves jointly
the personal rights and obligations of the parties, personal
and severally to indemnify plaintiff for any losses, costs and
service within the state or a voluntary appearance in the case
expenses which it might sustain in connection with the
is essential to the acquisition of jurisdiction so as to constitute
issuance of the bonds aforesaid, with interest at 12% per
compliance with the constitutional requirement of due
annum; that as additional security, the Dacanays mortgaged to
process. . . .’Although a state legislature has more control over
plaintiff a parcel of land in Baguio City, covered by Certificate
the form of service on its own residents than nonresidents, it
of Title No. T-8116, the mortgage having been duly recorded;
has been held that in actions in personam . . . service by
that the promissory notes were not paid .and as a result,
publication on resident defendants who are personally within
plaintiff Surety was compelled to pay P5,000.00 to Gregorio
the state and can be found therein is not "due process of law,"
Fajardo and P4,081.69 to the Manufacturers’ Bank; that the
and statute allowing it is unconstitutional.’ (16A C.J.S., pp. 786,
Dacanays failed to reimburse the Surety for such payments,
789; Emphasis our)"
whereupon the Surety caused the extrajudicial foreclosure of
the mortgage to pay its claim of P12,941.69 representing its
2. CIVIL LAW; OBLIGATIONS AND CONTRACTS; CREDITORS;
payments, interest and stipulated liquidated damages: that at
REMEDY AGAINST ABSCONDING DEBTORS. — The proper
the foreclosure sale, the land mortgaged was sold to plaintiff,
recourse for a creditor in the same situation as petitioner is to
as highest bidder, for the sum of P2,000.00 — leaving an
locate properties, real or personal, of the resident defendant
unsatisfied balance of P10,491.69, that plaintiff sought to
debtor with unknown address and cause them to be attached
recover from defendants Dacanay, plus 10% thereof as
under Rule 57, Sec. l(f), in which case, the enactment converts
attorneys’ fees, and the costs.
the action into a proceeding in rem or quasi in rem and the
summons by publication may then accordingly be deemed
At petitioner’s request, respondent Judge caused summons to
valid and effective But because debtors who abscond and
be made by publication in the newspaper Philippines Herald.
conceal themselves are also quite adept at concealing their
But despite the publication and deposit of a prepaid copy of
properties, the dismissal of the case below by respondent
the complaint at the Manila post office, defendants did not
Judge should be set aside and the case held pending in the
appear within the period of 60 days from last publication, as
court’s archives, until petitioner as plaintiff succeed in
required by the summons.
determining the whereabouts of the defendants’ person or
60
Plaintiff then asked that defendants be declared in default; but But because debtors who abscond and conceal themselves are
:instead, the Judge, by order of May 16, 1970, asked it to show also quite adept at concealing their properties, the dismissal of
cause why the action should not be dismissed, the suit being the case below by respondent Judge should be set aside and
in personam and defendants not having appeared. Then, on the case held pending in the court’s archives, until petitioner
May 29, 1970, respondent Judge dismissed the case, despite as plaintiff succeeds in determining the whereabouts of the
plaintiff Surety’s argument that the summons by publication defendants’ person or properties and causes valid summons to
was sufficient and valid under section 16 of Rule 14 of the be served personally or by publication as the case may be. In
Revised Rules of Court. this manner, the tolling of the period of prescription for as long
as the debtor remains in hiding would properly be a matter of
We agree with respondent Judge that the action of plaintiff
court records and he cannot emerge after a sufficient lapse of
petitioner, being in personam, the Court could not validly
time from the dismissal of the case to profit from his own
acquire jurisdiction on a non-appearing defendant, absent a
misdeed and claim prescription of his just debt.
personal service of summons within the forum. We have
explicitly so ruled in Pantaleon v. Asunción, 105 Phil. 765,
WHEREFORE, the order of dismissal of the case issued by the
pointing out without such personal service, any judgment on a
Court below is hereby set aside, and in the interest of justice,
non-appearing defendant would be violative of due process. In
the proceedings are ordered suspended, to be held pending
the aforecited case this Court, through Justice Roberto
until the plaintiff petitioner succeeds in ascertaining the
Concepción, now Chief Justice, ruled as follows:
whereabouts of the defendants and/or locating properties of
the same, to enable proper summons to be issued
"Apart from the foregoing, it is well-settled principle of
conformably to this Opinion. No costs.
Constitutional Law that, in an action strictly in personam, like
the one at bar, personal service of summons, within the forum.
is essential to the acquisition of jurisdiction over the person of
the defendant, who does not voluntarily submit himself to the
authority of the court. In other words, summons by publication
cannot — consistently with the due process clause in the Bill
of Rights — confer upon the court jurisdiction over said
defendants.

‘Due process of law requires personal service to support a


personal judgment, and. when the proceeding is strictly in
personam brought to determine the personal rights and
obligations of the parties, personal service within the state or
a voluntary appearance in the case is essential to the
acquisition of jurisdiction so as to constitute compliance with
the constitutional requirement of due process. . . .

‘Although a state legislature has more control over the form of


service on its own residents than nonresidents, it has been
held that in actions in personam . . . service by publication on
resident defendants, who are personally within the state and
can be found therein is not "due process of law," and a statute
allowing it is unconstitutional.’ (16A C.J.S., pp. 786, 789;
Emphasis ours.)"

The proper recourse for a creditor in the same situation as


petitioner is to locate properties, real or personal, of the
resident defendant debtor with unknown address and cause
them to be attached under Rule 57, section 1(f), in which case,
the attachment converts the action into a proceeding in rem
or quasi in rem and the summons by publication may then
accordingly be deemed valid and effective.
61
JIMMY T. GO, petitioner, vs. UNITED COCONUT PLANTERS prayer for temporary restraining order and/or writ of
BANK, ANGELO V. MANAHAN, FRANCISCO C. ZARATE, preliminary injunction, against respondent bank and its
PERLITA A. URBANO and ATTY. EDWARD officers, namely, Angelo V. Manahan, Francisco C. Zarate,
MARTIN, respondents. CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Perlita A. Urbano and Atty. Edward E. Martin, together with Ex-
Officio Sheriff Lydia G. San Juan and Sheriff IV Helder A.
Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] assailing the
Dyangco, with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch
Decision[2] dated 31 July 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
266, docketed as Civil Case No. 67878. The complaint was
G.R. SP No. 62625, the decretal portion of which reads:
subsequently amended[8] on 22 May 2000. The amended
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed orders complaint alleged, among other things, the following: that
dated June 7, 2000, August 9, 2000 and November 8, 2000 are petitioner Jimmy T. Go is a co-owner of the property covered
SET ASIDE. by TCT No. 64070, although the title is registered only in the
name of Looyuko; that respondent bank was aware that he is
Respondent judge is directed to DISMISS Civil Case No. 67878 a co-owner as he was asked to sign two deeds of real estate
on the ground of improper venue.[3] mortgage covering the subject property; that the approved
omnibus credit line applied for by him and Looyuko did not
Petitioner Jimmy T. Go and Alberto T. Looyuko are co-owners
materialize and was cancelled by respondent bank on 21 July
of Noahs Ark International, Noahs Ark Sugar Carriers, Noahs
1997, so that the pre-signed real estate mortgages were
Ark Sugar Truckers, Noahs Ark Sugar Repacker, Noahs Ark
likewise cancelled; that he demanded from respondent bank
Sugar Insurers, Noahs Ark Sugar Terminal, Noahs Ark Sugar
that TCTs No. 64070 and No. 3325 be returned to him, but
Building, and Noahs Ark Sugar Refinery.[4]
respondent bank refused to do so; that despite the
Sometime in August 1996, petitioner Jimmy T. Go and Alberto cancellation of the omnibus credit line on 21 July 1997,
T. Looyuko applied for an Omnibus Line accommodation with respondent bank had the two deeds of real estate mortgage
respondent United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) in the dated and notarized on 22 July 1997 and caused the
amount of Nine Hundred Million (P900,000,000) Pesos,[5] and extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage constituted on TCT No.
was favorably acted upon by the latter. 64070; that the auction sale scheduled on 11 April 2000 and 03
May 2000 be enjoined; that the two real estate mortgages be
The transaction was secured by Real Estate Mortgages over cancelled and TCTs No. 64070 and No. 3325 be returned to
parcels of land, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) him; and that respondent bank and its officers be ordered to
No. 64070, located at Mandaluyong City with an area of 24,837 pay him moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees.
square meters, and registered in the name of Mr. Looyuko; and
TCT No. 3325, also located at Mandaluyong City with an area On 07 June 2000, respondent bank, instead of filing an answer,
of 14,271 square meters, registered in the name of Noahs Ark filed a motion to dismiss[9] based on the following grounds: 1)
Sugar Refinery. that the court has no jurisdiction over the case due to
nonpayment of the proper filing and docket fees; 2) that the
On 21 July 1997, the approved Omnibus Line accommodation complaint was filed in the wrong venue; 3) an indispensable
granted to petitioner was subsequently cancelled[6] by party/real party in interest was not impleaded and, therefore,
respondent UCPB. As a consequence, petitioner Jimmy T. Go the complaint states no cause of action; 4) that the complaint
demanded from UCPB the return of the two (2) TCTs (No. was improperly verified; and 5) that petitioner is guilty of
64070 and No. 3325) covered by Real Estate Mortgages earlier forum shopping and submitted an insufficient and false
executed. UCPB refused to return the same and proceeded to certification of non-forum shopping.
have the two (2) pre-signed Real Estate Mortgages notarized
on 22 July 1997 and caused the registration thereof before the On 07 June 2000, the trial court issued an order[10] granting
Registry of Deeds of Mandaluyong City on 02 September 1997. petitioners application for a writ of preliminary injunction.
Correspondingly, the auction sale, scheduled on 11 April 2000
On 15 June 1999, respondent UCPB filed with the Office of the and 03 May 2000, was enjoined.
Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff of Mandaluyong City an
extrajudicial foreclosure of real estate mortgage[7] covered by On 09 August 2000, the trial court denied[11] respondent banks
TCT No. 64070, for nonpayment of the obligation secured by motion to dismiss Civil Case No. 67878. A motion for
said mortgage. As a result, the public auction sale of the reconsideration[12] was filed, but the same was likewise denied
mortgaged property was set on 11 April 2000 and 03 May in an Order[13] dated 08 November 2000.
2000.
Respondent bank questioned said orders before the Court of
To protect his interest, petitioner Jimmy T. Go filed a complaint Appeals via a petition for certiorari[14] dated 03 January 2001,
for Cancellation of Real Estate Mortgage and damages, with alleging that the trial court acted without or in excess of
62
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in issuing an order 1. In Commodities Storage & Ice Plant Corp. v. Court of
denying the motion to dismiss and the motion for Appeals,[24] this Court ruled that an action to redeem by the
reconsideration thereof. mortgage debtor affects his title to the foreclosed property. If
the action is seasonably made, it seeks to erase from the title
On 31 July 2002, the Court of Appeals[15] set aside the Orders
of the judgment or mortgage debtor the lien created by
dated 07 June 2000, 09 August 2000 and 08 November 2000
registration of the mortgage and sale. If not made seasonably,
issued by the trial court and directed the trial court to dismiss
it may seek to recover ownership to the land since the
Civil Case No. 67878 on the ground of improper venue.
purchasers inchoate title to the property becomes
A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner,[16] which consolidated after [the] expiration of the redemption period.
was denied in an order dated 14 November 2002.[17] Either way, redemption involves the title to the foreclosed
property. It is a real action.
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.[18]
2. In Fortune Motors, (Phils.), Inc., v. Court of
On 16 June 2003, the Court gave due course to the petition, Appeals,[25] this Court quoting the decision of the Court of
and required[19] the parties to file their respective memoranda. Appeals ruled that since an extrajudicial foreclosure of real
Respondents filed their Joint Memorandum on 27 August property results in a conveyance of the title of the property
2003, while petitioner filed his on 25 September 2003 upon sold to the highest bidder at the sale, an action to annul the
prior leave of court for extension. With leave of this Court, foreclosure sale is necessarily an action affecting the title of
private respondents filed their reply to petitioners the property sold. It is therefore a real action which should be
memorandum. commenced and tried in the province where the property or
part thereof lies.
In his memorandum, petitioner raised a lone issue: WHETHER
OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE 3. In Punsalan, Jr. v. Vda. de Lacsamana,[26] this court ruled
ERROR WHEN IT FAILED TO APPLY THE LAW AND ESTABLISHED that while it is true that petitioner does not directly seek the
JURISPRUDENCE ON THE MATTER BY ISSUING THE recovery . . . of the property in question, his action for
QUESTIONED RESOLUTIONS FINDING THAT THE CASE A QUO IS annulment of sale and his claim for damages are closely
A REAL ACTION. intertwined with the issue of ownership of the building which,
under the law, is considered immovable property, the recovery
Simply put, the issue to be resolved in this case is whether
of which is petitioners primary objective. The prevalent
petitioners complaint for cancellation of real estate mortgage
doctrine is that an action for the annulment or rescission of a
is a personal or real action for the purpose of determining
sale of real property does not operate to efface the
venue.
fundamental and prime objective and nature of the case,
In a real action, the plaintiff seeks the recovery of real which is to recover said real property. It is a real action.
property, or as provided for in Section 1, Rule 4,[20] a real action Respondent Court, therefore, did not err in dismissing the case
is an action affecting title to or possession of real property, or on the ground of improper venue which was timely raised.
interest therein. These include partition or condemnation of,
4. In Ruiz v. J. M. Tuason Co., Inc., et al.,[27] the court ruled
or foreclosure of mortgage on, real property. The venue for
that although [a] complaint is entitled to be one for specific
real actions is the same for regional trial courts and municipal
performance, yet the fact that [complainant] asked that a deed
trial courts -- the court which has territorial jurisdiction over
of sale of a parcel of land . . . be issued in his favor and that a
the area where the real property or any part thereof lies. [21]
transfer certificate of title covering said land be issued to him,
Personal action is one brought for the recovery of personal shows that the primary objective and nature of the action is to
property, for the enforcement of some contract or recovery of recover the parcel of land itself because to execute in favor of
damages for its breach, or for the recovery of damages for the complainant the conveyance requested there is need to make
commission of an injury to the person or property. [22] The a finding that he is the owner of the land which in the last
venue for personal actions is likewise the same for the regional analysis resolves itself into an issue of ownership. Hence, the
and municipal trial courts -- the court of the place where the action must be commenced in the province where the
plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the property is situated . . . ."
defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, at the
5. In Dr. Antonio A. Lizares, Inc. v. Hon. Hermogenes
election of the plaintiff, as indicated in Section 2 of Rule 4.[23]
Caluag,[28] this Court ruled that an action praying that
It is quite clear then that the controlling factor in determining defendant be ordered `to accept the payment being made by
venue for cases of the above nature is the primary objective plaintiff for the lot which the latter contracted to buy on
for which said cases are filed. Thus: installment basis from the former, to pay plaintiff
63
compensatory damages and attorneys fees and to enjoin found in Section 2(a) of Rule 4 of the Old Civil Procedure and
defendant and his agents from repossessing the lot in now under Section 1, Rule 4 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
question, is one that affects title to the land under Section 3 of Procedure, does not involve titles to the mortgaged lots. It is a
Rule 5, of the Rules of Court, and shall be commenced and tried personal action and not a real action. The mortgagee has not
in the province where the property or any part thereof lies, foreclosed the mortgage. The plaintiffs title is not in question.
because, although the immediate remedy is to compel the They are in possession of the mortgaged lots. Hence, the venue
defendant to accept the tender of payment allegedly made, it of the plaintiffs personal action is the place where the
is obvious that this relief is merely the first step to establish defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be found,
plaintiffs title to [the] real property. or where the plaintiff or any of the plaintiffs resides, at the
election of the plaintiff. In the case at bar, the action for
6. In Land Tenure Administration, et al. v. The Honorable
cancellation of real estate mortgage filed by herein petitioner
Higinio B. Macadaeg and Alejandro T. Lim, [29] this Court ruled
was primarily an action to compel private respondent bank to
that where the lessee seeks to establish an interest in an
return to him the properties covered by TCTs No. 64070 and
hacienda that runs with the land and one that must be
No. 3325 over which the bank had already initiated foreclosure
respected by the purchaser of the land even if the latter is not
proceedings because of the cancellation by the said
a party to the original lease contract, the question of whether
respondent bank of the omnibus credit line on 21 July 1997.
or not the standing crop is immovable property become[s]
The prime objective is to recover said real properties.
irrelevant, for venue is determined by the nature of the
Secondly, Carandang distinctly articulated that the ruling
principal claim. Since the lessee is primarily interested in
in Hernandez does not apply where the mortgaged property
establishing his right to recover possession of the land for the
had already been foreclosed. Here, and as correctly pointed
purpose of enabling him to gather his share of the crops, his
out by the appellate court, respondent bank had already
action is real and must be brought in the locality where the
initiated extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings, and were it not
land is situated.
for the timely issuance of a restraining order secured by
7. In Espineli & Mojica v. Hon. Santiago and Vda. de petitioner Go in the lower court, the same would have already
Ramirez,[30] the court ruled that although the main relief been sold at a public auction.
sought in the case at bar was the delivery of the certificate of
In a relatively recent case, Asset Privatization Trust v. Court of
title, said relief, in turn, entirely depended upon who, between
Appeals,[34] it was succinctly stated that the prayer for the
the parties, has a better right to the lot in question. As it is not
nullification of the mortgage is a prayer affecting real property,
possible for the court to decide the main relief, without passing
hence, is a real action.
upon the claim of the parties with respect to the title to and
possession of the lot in question, the claim shall be determined In sum, the cancellation of the real estate mortgage, subject of
x x x in the province where [the] said property or any part the instant petition, is a real action, considering that a real
thereof lies. estate mortgage is a real right and a real property by
itself.[35]An action for cancellation of real estate mortgage is
The case of Carandang v. Court of Appeals,[31] is more
necessarily an action affecting the title to the property. It is,
particularly instructive. There, we held that an action for
therefore, a real action which should be commenced and tried
nullification of the mortgage documents and foreclosure of the
in Mandaluyong City, the place where the subject property lies.
mortgaged property is a real action that affects the title to the
property. Thus, venue of the real action is before the court WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit.
having jurisdiction over the territory in which the property lies, The assailed decision dated 31 July 2002 and the Order dated
which is the Court of First Instance of Laguna. 14 November 2002 denying the motion for reconsideration are

Petitioner in this case contends that a case for cancellation of hereby AFFIRMED. With costs.
mortgage is a personal action and since he resides at Pasig City,
venue was properly laid therein. He tries to make a point by
alluding to the case of Francisco S. Hernandez v. Rural Bank of
Lucena.[32]

Petitioners reliance in the case of Francisco S. Hernandez v.


Rural Bank of Lucena[33] is misplaced. Firstly, said case was
primarily an action to compel the mortgagee bank to accept
payment of the mortgage debt and to release the mortgage.
That action, which is not expressly included in the enumeration

64
MANCHESTER DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET Magaspi case. The complaint was considered as primarily an
AL., petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, CITY LAND action for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, STEPHEN ROXAS, ANDREW land. The damages stated were treated as merely to the main
LUISON, GRACE LUISON and JOSE DE MAISIP, respondents. cause of action. Thus, the docket fee of only P60.00 and P10.00
GANCAYCO, J.: for the sheriff's fee were paid. 6

Acting on the motion for reconsideration of the resolution of In the present case there can be no such honest difference of
the Second Division of January 28,1987 and another motion to opinion. As maybe gleaned from the allegations of the
refer the case to and to be heard in oral argument by the complaint as well as the designation thereof, it is both an
Court En Banc filed by petitioners, the motion to refer the case action for damages and specific performance. The docket fee
to the Court en banc is granted but the motion to set the case paid upon filing of complaint in the amount only of P410.00 by
for oral argument is denied. considering the action to be merely one for specific
performance where the amount involved is not capable of
Petitioners in support of their contention that the filing fee
pecuniary estimation is obviously erroneous. Although the
must be assessed on the basis of the amended complaint cite
total amount of damages sought is not stated in the prayer of
the case of Magaspi vs. Ramolete. 1 They contend that the
the complaint yet it is spelled out in the body of the complaint
Court of Appeals erred in that the filing fee should be levied by
totalling in the amount of P78,750,000.00 which should be the
considering the amount of damages sought in the original
basis of assessment of the filing fee.
complaint.
4. When this under-re assessment of the filing fee in this case
The environmental facts of said case differ from the present in
was brought to the attention of this Court together with similar
that — 1. The Magaspi case was an action for recovery of
other cases an investigation was immediately ordered by the
ownership and possession of a parcel of land with
Court. Meanwhile plaintiff through another counsel with leave
damages.2While the present case is an action for torts and
of court filed an amended complaint on September 12, 1985
damages and specific performance with prayer for temporary
for the inclusion of Philips Wire and Cable Corporation as co-
restraining order, etc.3
plaintiff and by emanating any mention of the amount of
2. In the Magaspi case, the prayer in the complaint seeks not damages in the body of the complaint. The prayer in the
only the annulment of title of the defendant to the property, original complaint was maintained. After this Court issued an
the declaration of ownership and delivery of possession order on October 15, 1985 ordering the re- assessment of the
thereof to plaintiffs but also asks for the payment of actual docket fee in the present case and other cases that were
moral, exemplary damages and attorney's fees arising investigated, on November 12, 1985 the trial court directed
therefrom in the amounts specified therein. 4However, in the plaintiffs to rectify the amended complaint by stating the
present case, the prayer is for the issuance of a writ of amounts which they are asking for. It was only then that
preliminary prohibitory injunction during the pendency of the plaintiffs specified the amount of damages in the body of the
action against the defendants' announced forfeiture of the complaint in the reduced amount of P10,000,000.00. 7 Still no
sum of P3 Million paid by the plaintiffs for the property in amount of damages were specified in the prayer. Said
question, to attach such property of defendants that maybe amended complaint was admitted.
sufficient to satisfy any judgment that maybe rendered, and
On the other hand, in the Magaspi case, the trial court ordered
after hearing, to order defendants to execute a contract of
the plaintiffs to pay the amount of P3,104.00 as filing fee
purchase and sale of the subject property and annul
covering the damages alleged in the original complaint as it did
defendants' illegal forfeiture of the money of plaintiff, ordering
not consider the damages to be merely an or incidental to the
defendants jointly and severally to pay plaintiff actual,
action for recovery of ownership and possession of real
compensatory and exemplary damages as well as 25% of said
property. 8 An amended complaint was filed by plaintiff with
amounts as maybe proved during the trial as attorney's fees
leave of court to include the government of the Republic as
and declaring the tender of payment of the purchase price of
defendant and reducing the amount of damages, and
plaintiff valid and producing the effect of payment and to make
attorney's fees prayed for to P100,000.00. Said amended
the injunction permanent. The amount of damages sought is
complaint was also admitted. 9
not specified in the prayer although the body of the complaint
alleges the total amount of over P78 Million as damages In the Magaspi case, the action was considered not only one
suffered by plaintiff.5 for recovery of ownership but also for damages, so that the
filing fee for the damages should be the basis of assessment.
3. Upon the filing of the complaint there was an honest
Although the payment of the docketing fee of P60.00 was
difference of opinion as to the nature of the action in the
found to be insufficient, nevertheless, it was held that since the
65
payment was the result of an "honest difference of opinion as The Court serves warning that it will take drastic action upon a
to the correct amount to be paid as docket fee" the court "had repetition of this unethical practice.
acquired jurisdiction over the case and the proceedings
To put a stop to this irregularity, henceforth all complaints,
thereafter had were proper and regular." 10 Hence, as the
petitions, answers and other similar pleadings should specify
amended complaint superseded the original complaint, the
the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the body
allegations of damages in the amended complaint should be
of the pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages shall
the basis of the computation of the filing fee. 11
be considered in the assessment of the filing fees in any case.
In the present case no such honest difference of opinion was Any pleading that fails to comply with this requirement shall
possible as the allegations of the complaint, the designation not bib accepted nor admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged
and the prayer show clearly that it is an action for damages and from the record.
specific performance. The docketing fee should be assessed by
The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the
considering the amount of damages as alleged in the original
payment of the prescribed docket fee. An amendment of the
complaint.
complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction
As reiterated in the Magaspi case the rule is well-settled "that in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based
a case is deemed filed only upon payment of the docket fee on the amounts sought in the amended pleading. The ruling in
regardless of the actual date of filing in court . 12 Thus, in the the Magaspi case 14 in so far as it is inconsistent with this
present case the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the pronouncement is overturned and reversed.
case by the payment of only P410.00 as docket fee. Neither can
the amendment of the complaint thereby vest jurisdiction WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is denied for
upon the Court. 13 For an legal purposes there is no such lack of merit.
original complaint that was duly filed which could be amended.
Consequently, the order admitting the amended complaint
and all subsequent proceedings and actions taken by the trial
court are null and void.

The Court of Appeals therefore, aptly ruled in the present case


that the basis of assessment of the docket fee should be the
amount of damages sought in the original complaint and not
in the amended complaint.

The Court cannot close this case without making the


observation that it frowns at the practice of counsel who filed
the original complaint in this case of omitting any specification
of the amount of damages in the prayer although the amount
of over P78 million is alleged in the body of the complaint. This
is clearly intended for no other purpose than to evade the
payment of the correct filing fees if not to mislead the docket
clerk in the assessment of the filing fee. This fraudulent
practice was compounded when, even as this Court had taken
cognizance of the anomaly and ordered an investigation,
petitioner through another counsel filed an amended
complaint, deleting all mention of the amount of damages
being asked for in the body of the complaint. It was only when
in obedience to the order of this Court of October 18, 1985,
the trial court directed that the amount of damages be
specified in the amended complaint, that petitioners' counsel
wrote the damages sought in the much reduced amount of
P10,000,000.00 in the body of the complaint but not in the
prayer thereof. The design to avoid payment of the required
docket fee is obvious.

66
SUN INSURANCE OFFICE, LTD., (SIOL), E.B. PHILIPPS and D.J. On December 16, 1985, Judge Antonio P. Solano, to whose sala
WARBY, petitioners, vs. HON. MAXIMIANO C. ASUNCION, Civil Case No. Q-41177 was temporarily assigned, issuedan
Presiding Judge, Branch 104, Regional Trial Court, Quezon order to the Clerk of Court instructing him to issue a certificate
City and MANUEL CHUA UY PO TIONG, respondents. of assessment of the docket fee paid by private respondent
GANCAYCO, J.: and, in case of deficiency, to include the same in said
certificate.
Again the Court is asked to resolve the issue of whether or not
a court acquires jurisdiction over a case when the correct and On January 7, 1984, to forestall a default, a cautionary answer
proper docket fee has not been paid. was filed by petitioners. On August 30,1984, an amended
complaint was filed by private respondent including the two
On February 28, 1984, petitioner Sun Insurance Office, Ltd.
additional defendants aforestated.
(SIOL for brevity) filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court
of Makati, Metro Manila for the consignation of a premium Judge Maximiano C. Asuncion, to whom Civil Case No. Q41177
refund on a fire insurance policy with a prayer for the judicial was thereafter assigned, after his assumption into office on
declaration of its nullity against private respondent Manuel Uy January 16, 1986, issued a Supplemental Order requiring the
Po Tiong. Private respondent as declared in default for failure parties in the case to comment on the Clerk of Court's letter-
to file the required answer within the reglementary period. report signifying her difficulty in complying with the Resolution
of this Court of October 15, 1985 since the pleadings filed by
On the other hand, on March 28, 1984, private respondent
private respondent did not indicate the exact amount sought
filed a complaint in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for
to be recovered. On January 23, 1986, private respondent filed
the refund of premiums and the issuance of a writ of
a "Compliance" and a "Re-Amended Complaint" stating
preliminary attachment which was docketed as Civil Case No.
therein a claim of "not less than Pl0,000,000. 00 as actual
Q-41177, initially against petitioner SIOL, and thereafter
compensatory damages" in the prayer. In the body of the said
including E.B. Philipps and D.J. Warby as additional defendants.
second amended complaint however, private respondent
The complaint sought, among others, the payment of actual,
alleges actual and compensatory damages and attorney's fees
compensatory, moral, exemplary and liquidated damages,
in the total amount of about P44,601,623.70.
attorney's fees, expenses of litigation and costs of the suit.
Although the prayer in the complaint did not quantify the On January 24, 1986, Judge Asuncion issued another Order
amount of damages sought said amount may be inferred from admitting the second amended complaint and stating therein
the body of the complaint to be about Fifty Million Pesos that the same constituted proper compliance with the
(P50,000,000.00). Resolution of this Court and that a copy thereof should be
furnished the Clerk of Court for the reassessment of the docket
Only the amount of P210.00 was paid by private respondent as
fees. The reassessment by the Clerk of Court based on private
docket fee which prompted petitioners' counsel to raise his
respondent's claim of "not less than P10,000,000.00 as actual
objection. Said objection was disregarded by respondent
and compensatory damages" amounted to P39,786.00 as
Judge Jose P. Castro who was then presiding over said case.
docket fee. This was subsequently paid by private respondent.
Upon the order of this Court, the records of said case together
with twenty-two other cases assigned to different branches of Petitioners then filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City which were under Appeals questioning the said order of Judie Asuncion dated
investigation for under-assessment of docket fees were January 24, 1986.
transmitted to this Court. The Court thereafter returned the
On April 24, 1986, private respondent filed a supplemental
said records to the trial court with the directive that they be
complaint alleging an additional claim of P20,000,000.00 as
re-raffled to the other judges in Quezon City, to the exclusion
d.qmages so the total claim amounts to about P64,601,623.70.
of Judge Castro. Civil Case No. Q-41177 was re-raffled to
On October 16, 1986, or some seven months after filing the
Branch 104, a sala which was then vacant.
supplemental complaint, the private respondent paid the
On October 15, 1985, the Court en banc issued a Resolution in additional docket fee of P80,396.00.1
Administrative Case No. 85-10-8752-RTC directing the judges
On August 13, 1987, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision
in said cases to reassess the docket fees and that in case of
ruling, among others, as follows:
deficiency, to order its payment. The Resolution also requires
all clerks of court to issue certificates of re-assessment of WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
docket fees. All litigants were likewise required to specify in
their pleadings the amount sought to be recovered in their 1. Denying due course to the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 1,
complaints. 09715 insofar as it seeks annulment of the order

67
(a) denying petitioners' motion to dismiss the complaint, as In Lazaro vs. Endencia and Andres, 7 this Court held that the
amended, and payment of the full amount of the docket fee is an
indispensable step for the perfection of an appeal. In a forcible
(b) granting the writ of preliminary attachment, but giving due
entry and detainer case before the justice of the peace court
course to the portion thereof questioning the reassessment of
of Manaoag, Pangasinan, after notice of a judgment dismissing
the docketing fee, and requiring the Honorable respondent
the case, the plaintiff filed a notice of appeal with said court
Court to reassess the docketing fee to be paid by private
but he deposited only P8.00 for the docket fee, instead of
respondent on the basis of the amount of P25,401,707.00. 2
P16.00 as required, within the reglementary period of appeal
Hence, the instant petition. of five (5) days after receiving notice of judgment. Plaintiff
deposited the additional P8.00 to complete the amount of the
During the pendency of this petition and in conformity with the docket fee only fourteen (14) days later. On the basis of these
said judgment of respondent court, private respondent paid facts, this court held that the Court of First Instance did
the additional docket fee of P62,432.90 on April 28, 1988. 3 notacquire jurisdiction to hear and determine the appeal as
the appeal was not thereby perfected.
The main thrust of the petition is that the Court of Appeals
erred in not finding that the lower court did not acquire In Lee vs. Republic, 8 the petitioner filed a verified declaration
jurisdiction over Civil Case No. Q-41177 on the ground of of intention to become a Filipino citizen by sending it through
nonpayment of the correct and proper docket fee. Petitioners registered mail to the Office of the Solicitor General in 1953
allege that while it may be true that private respondent had but the required filing fee was paid only in 1956, barely 5V2
paid the amount of P182,824.90 as docket fee as herein-above months prior to the filing of the petition for citizenship. This
related, and considering that the total amount sought to be Court ruled that the declaration was not filed in accordance
recovered in the amended and supplemental complaint is with the legal requirement that such declaration should be
P64,601,623.70 the docket fee that should be paid by private filed at least one year before the filing of the petition for
respondent is P257,810.49, more or less. Not having paid the citizenship. Citing Lazaro, this Court concluded that the filing
same, petitioners contend that the complaint should be of petitioner's declaration of intention on October 23, 1953
dismissed and all incidents arising therefrom should be produced no legal effect until the required filing fee was paid
annulled. In support of their theory, petitioners cite the latest on May 23, 1956.
ruling of the Court in Manchester Development Corporation vs.
CA, 4 as follows: In Malimit vs. Degamo, 9 the same principles enunciated in
Lazaro and Lee were applied. It was an original petition for quo
The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the warranto contesting the right to office of proclaimed
payment of the prescribed docket fee. An amendment of the candidates which was mailed, addressed to the clerk of the
complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction Court of First Instance, within the one-week period after the
in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based proclamation as provided therefor by law.10However, the
on the amounts sought in the amended pleading. The ruling in required docket fees were paid only after the expiration of said
the Magaspi Case in so far as it is inconsistent with this period. Consequently, this Court held that the date of such
pronouncement is overturned and reversed. payment must be deemed to be the real date of filing of
aforesaid petition and not the date when it was mailed.
On the other hand, private respondent claims that the ruling
in Manchester cannot apply retroactively to Civil Case No. Again, in Garica vs, Vasquez, 11 this Court reiterated the rule
Q41177 for at the time said civil case was filed in court there that the docket fee must be paid before a court will act on a
was no such Manchester ruling as yet. Further, private petition or complaint. However, we also held that said rule is
respondent avers that what is applicable is the ruling of not applicable when petitioner seeks the probate of several
this Court in Magaspi v. Ramolete, 5 wherein this Court held wills of the same decedent as he is not required to file a
that the trial court acquired jurisdiction over the case even if separate action for each will but instead he may have other
the docket fee paid was insufficient. wills probated in the same special proceeding then pending
before the same court.
The contention that Manchester cannot apply retroactively to
this case is untenable. Statutes regulating the procedure of the Then in Magaspi, 12 this Court reiterated the ruling
courts will be construed as applicable to actions pending and in Malimit and Lee that a case is deemed filed only upon
undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are payment of the docket fee regardless of the actual date of its
retrospective in that sense and to that extent. 6 filing in court. Said case involved a complaint for recovery of
ownership and possession of a parcel of land with damages
filed in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. Upon the payment
68
of P60.00 for the docket fee and P10.00 for the sheriffs fee, the The prayer in said case is for the issuance of a writ of
complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. R-11882. The prayer preliminary prohibitory injunction during the pendency of the
of the complaint sought that the Transfer Certificate of Title action against the defendants' announced forfeiture of the
issued in the name of the defendant be declared as null and sum of P3 Million paid by the plaintiffs for the property in
void. It was also prayed that plaintiff be declared as owner question, the attachment of such property of defendants that
thereof to whom the proper title should be issued, and that may be sufficient to satisfy any judgment that may be
defendant be made to pay monthly rentals of P3,500.00 from rendered, and, after hearing, the issuance of an order requiring
June 2, 1948 up to the time the property is delivered to defendants to execute a contract of purchase and sale of the
plaintiff, P500,000.00 as moral damages, attorney's fees in the subject property and annul defendants' illegal forfeiture of the
amount of P250,000.00, the costs of the action and exemplary money of plaintiff. It was also prayed that the defendants be
damages in the amount of P500,000.00. made to pay the plaintiff jointly and severally, actual,
compensatory and exemplary damages as well as 25% of said
The defendant then filed a motion to compel the plaintiff to
amounts as may be proved during the trial for attorney's fees.
pay the correct amount of the docket fee to which an
The plaintiff also asked the trial court to declare the tender of
opposition was filed by the plaintiff alleging that the action was
payment of the purchase price of plaintiff valid and sufficient
for the recovery of a parcel of land so the docket fee must be
for purposes of payment, and to make the injunction
based on its assessed value and that the amount of P60.00 was
permanent. The amount of damages sought is not specified in
the correct docketing fee. The trial court ordered the plaintiff
the prayer although the body of the complaint alleges the total
to pay P3,104.00 as filing fee.
amount of over P78 Millon allegedly suffered by plaintiff.
The plaintiff then filed a motion to admit the amended
Upon the filing of the complaint, the plaintiff paid the amount
complaint to include the Republic as the defendant. In the
of only P410.00 for the docket fee based on the nature of the
prayer of the amended complaint the exemplary damages
action for specific performance where the amount involved is
earlier sought was eliminated. The amended prayer merely
not capable of pecuniary estimation. However, it was obvious
sought moral damages as the court may determine, attorney's
from the allegations of the complaint as well as its designation
fees of P100,000.00 and the costs of the action. The defendant
that the action was one for damages and specific performance.
filed an opposition to the amended complaint. The opposition
Thus, this court held the plaintiff must be assessed the correct
notwithstanding, the amended complaint was admitted by the
docket fee computed against the amount of damages of about
trial court. The trial court reiterated its order for the payment
P78 Million, although the same was not spelled out in the
of the additional docket fee which plaintiff assailed and then
prayer of the complaint.
challenged before this Court. Plaintiff alleged that he paid the
total docket fee in the amount of P60.00 and that if he has to Meanwhile, plaintiff through another counsel, with leave of
pay the additional fee it must be based on the amended court, filed an amended complaint on September 12, 1985 by
complaint. the inclusion of another co-plaintiff and eliminating any
mention of the amount of damages in the body of the
The question posed, therefore, was whether or not the
complaint. The prayer in the original complaint was
plaintiff may be considered to have filed the case even if the
maintained.
docketing fee paid was not sufficient. In Magaspi, We
reiterated the rule that the case was deemed filed only upon On October 15, 1985, this Court ordered the re-assessment of
the payment of the correct amount for the docket fee the docket fee in the said case and other cases that were
regardless of the actual date of the filing of the complaint; that investigated. On November 12, 1985, the trial court directed
there was an honest difference of opinion as to the correct the plaintiff to rectify the amended complaint by stating the
amount to be paid as docket fee in that as the action appears amounts which they were asking for. This plaintiff did as
to be one for the recovery of property the docket fee of P60.00 instructed. In the body of the complaint the amount of
was correct; and that as the action is also one, for damages, damages alleged was reduced to P10,000,000.00 but still no
We upheld the assessment of the additional docket fee based amount of damages was specified in the prayer. Said amended
on the damages alleged in the amended complaint as against complaint was admitted.
the assessment of the trial court which was based on the
Applying the principle in Magaspi that "the case is deemed
damages alleged in the original complaint.
filed only upon payment of the docket fee regardless of the
However, as aforecited, this Court actual date of filing in court," this Court held that the trial court
overturned Magaspi in Manchester. Manchester involves an did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by payment of only
action for torts and damages and specific performance with a P410.00 for the docket fee. Neither can the amendment of the
prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, etc. complaint thereby vest jurisdiction upon the Court. For all legal
69
purposes there was no such original complaint duly filed which In the present case, a more liberal interpretation of the rules is
could be amended. Consequently, the order admitting the called for considering that, unlike Manchester, private
amended complaint and all subsequent proceedings and respondent demonstrated his willingness to abide by the rules
actions taken by the trial court were declared null and void.13 by paying the additional docket fees as required. The
promulgation of the decision in Manchester must have had
The present case, as above discussed, is among the several
that sobering influence on private respondent who thus paid
cases of under-assessment of docket fee which were
the additional docket fee as ordered by the respondent court.
investigated by this Court together with Manchester. The facts
It triggered his change of stance by manifesting his willingness
and circumstances of this case are similar to Manchester. In
to pay such additional docket fee as may be ordered.
the body of the original complaint, the total amount of
damages sought amounted to about P50 Million. In the prayer, Nevertheless, petitioners contend that the docket fee that was
the amount of damages asked for was not stated. The action paid is still insufficient considering the total amount of the
was for the refund of the premium and the issuance of the writ claim. This is a matter which the clerk of court of the lower
of preliminary attachment with damages. The amount of only court and/or his duly authorized docket clerk or clerk in-charge
P210.00 was paid for the docket fee. On January 23, 1986, should determine and, thereafter, if any amount is found due,
private respondent filed an amended complaint wherein in the he must require the private respondent to pay the same.
prayer it is asked that he be awarded no less than
Thus, the Court rules as follows:
P10,000,000.00 as actual and exemplary damages but in the
body of the complaint the amount of his pecuniary claim is 1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate
approximately P44,601,623.70. Said amended complaint was initiatory pleading, but the payment of the prescribed docket
admitted and the private respondent was reassessed the fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject
additional docket fee of P39,786.00 based on his prayer of not matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the initiatory
less than P10,000,000.00 in damages, which he paid. pleading is not accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the
court may allow payment of the fee within a reasonable time
On April 24, 1986, private respondent filed a supplemental
but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or
complaint alleging an additional claim of P20,000,000.00 in
reglementary period.
damages so that his total claim is approximately
P64,601,620.70. On October 16, 1986, private respondent paid 2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third
an additional docket fee of P80,396.00. After the promulgation party claims and similar pleadings, which shall not be
of the decision of the respondent court on August 31, 1987 considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed
wherein private respondent was ordered to be reassessed for therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee
additional docket fee, and during the pendency of this petition, within a reasonable time but also in no case beyond its
and after the promulgation of Manchester, on April 28, 1988, applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.
private respondent paid an additional docket fee of
P62,132.92. Although private respondent appears to have paid 3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by
a total amount of P182,824.90 for the docket fee considering the filing of the appropriate pleading and payment of the
the total amount of his claim in the amended and prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment awards a
supplemental complaint amounting to about P64,601,620.70, claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified the same has
petitioner insists that private respondent must pay a docket been left for determination by the court, the additional filing
fee of P257,810.49. fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It shall be
the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized
The principle in Manchester could very well be applied in the deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the
present case. The pattern and the intent to defraud the additional fee.
government of the docket fee due it is obvious not only in the
filing of the original complaint but also in the filing of the WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The
second amended complaint. Clerk of Court of the court a quo is hereby instructed to
reassess and determine the additional filing fee that should be
However, in Manchester, petitioner did not pay any additional paid by private respondent considering the total amount of the
docket fee until] the case was decided by this Court on May 7, claim sought in the original complaint and the supplemental
1987. Thus, in Manchester, due to the fraud committed on the complaint as may be gleaned from the allegations and the
government, this Court held that the court a quo did not prayer thereof and to require private respondent to pay the
acquire jurisdiction over the case and that the amended deficiency, if any, without pronouncement as to costs.
complaint could not have been admitted inasmuch as the
original complaint was null and void.
70
MAXIMO TACAY, PONCIANO PANES and ANTONIA The prayer of each complaint contained a handwritten
NOEL, petitioners, vs. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF TAGUM notation (evidently made by plaintiff's counsel) reading,
Davao del Norte, Branches 1 and 2, Presided by Hon. Marcial "P5,000.00 as and for," immediately above the typewritten
Fernandez and Hon. Jesus Matas, respectively, PATSITA words, "Actual damages, as proven," the intention apparently
GAMUTAN, Clerk of Court, and GODOFREDO being to make the entire phrase read, " P5,000.00 as and for
PINEDA, respondents. NARVASA, J.: actual damages as proven. 5

In the Regional Trial Court at Tagum, Davao del Norte, 1 three Motions to dismiss were filed in behalf of each of the
defendants by common counsel .6 Every motion alleged that
(3) actions for recovery of possession (acciones publicianas 2 )
the Trial Court had not acquired jurisdiction of the case —
were separately instituted by Godofredo Pineda against three
(3) defendants, docketed as follows: . . . for the reason that the ... complaint violates the mandatory
and clear provision of Circular No. 7 of the ... Supreme Court
1) vs. Antonia Noel Civil Case No. 2209
dated March 24,1988, by failing to specify all the amounts of
2) vs. Ponciano Panes Civil Case No. 2210 damages which plaintiff is claiming from defendant;" and

3) vs. Maximo Tacay Civil Case No. 2211. . . . for ... failure (of the complaint) to even allege the basic
requirement as to the assessed value of the subject lot in
Civil Cases Numbered 2209 and 2211 were raffled to Branch I dispute.
of the Trial Court, presided over by Judge Marcial Hernandez.
Civil No. 2210 was assigned to Branch 2, presided over by Judge Matas denied the motion to dismiss filed in Civil Case
Judge Jesus Matas. No. 2210 but ordered the expunction of the "allegations in
paragraph 11 of the ... complaint regarding moral as well as
The complaints 3 all alleged the same essential facts (1) Pineda nominal damages . 7 On motion of defendant Panes, Judge
was the owner of a parcel of land measuring 790 square Matas later ordered the striking out, too, of the "handwritten
meters, his ownership being evidenced by TCT No. T-46560; (2) amount of 'P5,000. 00 as and for.' including the typewritten
the previous owner had allowed the defendants to occupy words 'actual damages as proven' ... in sub-paragraph b of
portions of the land by mere tolerance; (3) having himself need paragraph 4 in the conclusion and prayer of the complaint ..." 8
to use the property, Pineda had made demands on the
defendants to vacate the property and pay reasonable rentals The motions to dismiss submitted in Civil Cases Numbered
therefor, but these demands had been refused; and (4) the last 2211 and 2209 were also denied in separate orders
demand had been made more than a year prior to the promulgated by Judge Marcial Fernandez. 9 His Order in Case
commencement of suit. The complaints prayed for the same No. 2209 dated March 15, 1989 (a) declared that since the
reliefs, to wit: "action at bar is for Reivindicatoria, Damages and Attorney's
fees ... (d)efinitely this Court has the exclusive jurisdiction," (b)
1) that plaintiff be declared owner of the areas occupied by the that the claims for actual, moral and nominal damages "are
defendants; only one aspect of the cause of action," and (c) because of
absence of specification of the amounts claimed as moral,
2) that defendants and their "privies and allies" be ordered to
nominal and actual damages, they should be "expunged from
vacate and deliver the portions of the land usurped by them;
the records."
3) that each defendant be ordered to pay:
Ascribing grave abuse of discretion to both Judges Matas and
1 ) P 2,000 as monthly rents from February, 1987; Fernandez in the rendition of the Orders above described, the
defendants in all three (3) actions have filed with this Court a
2 ) Actual damages, as proven; "Joint Petition" for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, with
3 ) Moral and nominal damages as the Honorable Court may prayer for temporary restraining order and/or writ of
fix ; preliminary prohibitory injunction," praying essentially that
said orders be annulled and respondent judges directed to
4) P30,000.00, "as attorney's fees, and representation fees of dismiss all the complaints "without prejudice to private
P5,000.00 per day of appearance;" 4 respondent Pineda's re-filing a similar complaint that complies
with Circular No. 7." The joint petition (a) re-asserted the
and
proposition that because the complaints had failed to state the
4) that he (Pineda) be granted such "further relief and amounts being claimed as actual, moral and nominal damages,
remedies ... just and equitable in the premises. the Trial Courts a quo had not acquired jurisdiction over the
three (3) actions in question-indeed, the respondent Clerk of
71
Court should not have accepted the complaints which initiated property, 15 or actions in admiralty and maritime
said suits, and (b) it was not proper merely to expunge the jurisdiction 16 in which the amount claimed, 17 or the value of
claims for damages and allow "the so-called cause of action for the personal property, is determinative of jurisdiction; i.e., the
"reivindicatoria" remain for trial" by itself. 10 value of the personal property or the amount claimed should
exceed twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) in order to be
The joint petition should be, as it is hereby, dismissed.
cognizable by the Regional Trial Court.
It should be dismissed for failure to comply with this Court's
Circular No. 7 of this Court, dated March 24, 1988, cannot thus
Circular No. 1-88 (effective January 1, 1989). The copies of the
be invoked, as the petitioner does, as authority for the
challenged Orders thereto attached 11 were not certified by
dismissal of the actions at bar. That circular, avowedly inspired
the proper Clerk of Court or his duly authorized representative.
by the doctrine laid down in Manchester Development
Certification was made by the petitioners' counsel, which is not
Corporation v. Court of appeals, 149 SCRA 562 (May 7, 1987),
allowed.
has but limited application to said actions, as shall presently be
The petition should be dismissed, too, for another equally discussed. Moreover, the rules therein laid down have since
important reason. It fails to demonstrate any grave abuse of been clarified and amplified by the Court's subsequent
discretion on the part of the respondent Judges in rendering decision in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) v. Asuncion, et al.,
the Orders complained of or, for that matter, the existence of G.R. Nos. 79937-38, February 13, 1989.
any proper cause for the issuance of the writ of mandamus. On
Circular No. 7 was aimed at the practice of certain parties who
the contrary, the orders appear to have correctly applied the
omit from the prayer of their complaints "any specification of
law to the admitted facts.
the amount of damages," the omission being "clearly intended
It is true that the complaints do not state the amounts being for no other purposes than to evade the payment of the
claimed as actual, moral and nominal damages. It is also true, correct filing fees if not to mislead the docket clerk, in the
however, that the actions are not basically for the recovery of assessment of the filing fee." The following rules were
sums of money. They are principally for recovery of possession therefore set down:
of real property, in the nature of an accion publiciana.
1. All complaints, petitions, answers, and similar pleadings
Determinative of the court's jurisdiction in this type of actions
should specify the amount of damages being prayed for not
is the nature thereof, not the amount of the damages allegedly
only in the body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and said
arising from or connected with the issue of title or possession,
damages shall be considered in the assessment of the filing
and regardless of the value of the property. Quite obviously,
fees in any case.
an action for recovery of possession of real property (such as
an accion plenaria de possesion) or the title thereof, 12 or for 2. Any pleading that fails to comply with this requirement shall
partition or condemnation of, or the foreclosure of a mortgage not be accepted nor admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged
on, said real property 13 - in other words, a real action-may be from the record.
commenced and prosecuted without an accompanying claim
3. The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the
for actual, moral, nominal or exemplary damages; and such an
payment of the prescribed docket fee. An amendment of the
action would fall within the exclusive, original jurisdiction of
complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction
the Regional Trial Court.
in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based
Batas Pambansa Bilang 129 provides that Regional Trial Courts on the amount sought in the amended pleading.
shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction inter alia over "all
The clarificatory and additional rules laid down in Sun
civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real
Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion, supra, read as follows:
property, or any interest therein, except actions for forcible
entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original 1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate
jurisdiction over which is conferred upon Metropolitan Trial initiatory pleading, but (also) the payment of the prescribed
Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial docket fee that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the
Courts." 14 The rule applies regardless of the value of the real subject-matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the
property involved, whether it be worth more than P20,000.00 initiatory pleading is not accompanied by payment of the
or not, infra. The rule also applies even where the complaint docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee within a
involving realty also prays for an award of damages; the reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable
amount of those damages would be immaterial to the question prescriptive or reglementary period.
of the Court's jurisdiction. The rule is unlike that in other cases
e.g., actions simply for recovery of money or of personal

72
2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third- pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages shall be
party claims and similar pleadings, which shall not be considered in the assessment of the filing fees in any case."
considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed
Two situations may arise. One is where the complaint or similar
therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee
pleading sets out a claim purely for money or damages and
within a reasonable time but also in no case beyond its
there is no precise statement of the amounts being claimed. In
applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.
this event the rule is that the pleading will "not be accepted
3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by nor admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the
the filing of the appropriate pleading and payment of the record." In other words, the complaint or pleading may be
prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment awards a dismissed, or the claims as to which the amounts are
claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified, the same has unspecified may be expunged, although as aforestated the
been left for determination by the court, the additional filing Court may, on motion, permit amendment of the complaint
fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It shall be and payment of the fees provided the claim has not in the
the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized meantime become time-barred. The other is where the
deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the pleading does specify the amount of every claim, but the fees
additional fee. paid are insufficient; and here again, the rule now is that the
court may allow a reasonable time for the payment of the
As will be noted, the requirement in Circular No. 7 that
prescribed fees, or the balance thereof, and upon such
complaints, petitions, answers, and similar pleadings should
payment, the defect is cured and the court may properly take
specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in
cognizance of the action, unless in the meantime prescription
the body of the pleading but also in the prayer, has not been
has set in and consequently barred the right of action.
altered. What has been revised is the rule that subsequent
"amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not Where the action involves real property and a related claim for
thereby vest jurisdiction in the Court, much less the payment damages as well, the legal fees shall be assessed on the basis
of the docket fee based on the amount sought in the amended of both (a) the value of the property and (b) the total amount
pleading," the trial court now being authorized to allow of related damages sought. The Court acquires jurisdiction
payment of the fee within a reasonable time but in no case over the action if the filing of the initiatory pleading is
beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period. accompanied by the payment of the requisite fees, or, if the
Moreover, a new rule has been added, governing awards of fees are not paid at the time of the filing of the pleading, as of
claims not specified in the pleading - i.e., damages arising after the time of full payment of the fees within such reasonable
the filing of the complaint or similar pleading-as to which the time as the court may grant, unless, of course, prescription has
additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the set in the meantime. But where-as in the case at bar-the fees
judgment. prescribed for an action involving real property have been
paid, but the amounts of certain of the related damages
Now, under the Rules of Court, docket or filing fees are
(actual, moral and nominal) being demanded are unspecified,
assessed on the basis of the "sum claimed," on the one hand,
the action may not be dismissed. The Court undeniably has
or the "value of the property in litigation or the value of the
jurisdiction over the action involving the real property,
estate," on the other. 18 There are, in other words, as already
acquiring it upon the filing of the complaint or similar pleading
above intimated, actions or proceedings involving real
and payment of the prescribed fee. And it is not divested of
property, in which the value of the property is immaterial to
that authority by the circumstance that it may not have
the court's jurisdiction, account thereof being taken merely for
acquired jurisdiction over the accompanying claims for
assessment of the legal fees; and there are actions or
damages because of lack of specification thereof. What should
proceedings, involving personal property or the recovery of
be done is simply to expunge those claims for damages as to
money and/or damages, in which the value of the property or
which no amounts are stated, which is what the respondent
the amount of the demand is decisive of the trial court's
Courts did, or allow, on motion, a reasonable time for the
competence (aside from being the basis for fixing the
amendment of the complaints so as to allege the precise
corresponding docket fees). 19
amount of each item of damages and accept payment of the
Where the action is purely for the recovery of money or requisite fees therefor within the relevant prescriptive period.
damages, the docket fees are assessed on the basis of the
aggregate amount claimed, exclusive only of interests and
costs. In this case, the complaint or similar pleading should,
according to Circular No. 7 of this Court, "specify the amount
of damages being prayed for not only in the body of the
73
AYALA CORPORATION, LAS PIÑAS VENTURES, INC., and respondents to fix the amount of exemplary damages being
FILIPINAS LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY, INC., petitioners vs. prayed for. The trial court cited the subsequent case of Sun
THE HONORABLE JOB B. MADAYAG, PRESIDING JUDGE, Insurance vs. Judge Asuncion 2 in support of its ruling.
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, NATIONAL CAPITAL JUDICIAL
The clarificatory and additional rules laid down in Sun
REGION, BRANCH 145 and THE SPOUSES CAMILO AND MA.
Insurance are as follows:
MARLENE SABIO, respondents GANCAYCO, J.:
1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate
Once more the issue relating to the payment of filing fees in an
initiatory pleading, but (also) the payment of the prescribed
action for specific performance with damages is presented by
docket fee that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the
this petition for prohibition.
subject-matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the
Private respondents filed against petitioners an action for initiatory pleading is not accompanied by payment of the
specific performance with damages in the Regional Trial Court docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee within a
of Makati. Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss on the ground reasonable tune but in no case beyond the applicable
that the lower court has not acquired jurisdiction over the case prescriptive or reglementary period.
as private respondents failed to pay the prescribed docket fee
2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third
and to specify the amount of exemplary damages both in the
party claims and similar pleadings, which shall not be
body and prayer of the amended and supplemental complaint.
considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed
The trial court denied the motion in an order dated April 5,
therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee
1989. A motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners was
within a reasonable time but also in no case beyond its
likewise denied in an order dated May 18, 1989. Hence this
applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.
petition.
3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by
The main thrust of the petition is that private respondent paid
the filing of the appropriate pleading and payment of the
only the total amount of P l,616.00 as docket fees instead of
prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment awards a
the amount of P13,061.35 based on the assessed value of the
claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified, the same has
real properties involved as evidenced by its tax declaration.
been left for determination by the court, the additional filing
Further, petitioners contend that private respondents failed to
fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It shall be
specify the amount of exemplary damages sought both in the
the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized
body and the prayer of the amended and supplemental
deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the
complaint.
additional fee.
In Manchester Development Corporation vs. Court of
Apparently, the trial court misinterpreted paragraph 3 of the
Appeals 1 a similar case involving an action for specific
above ruling of this Court wherein it is stated that "where the
performance with damages, this Court held that the docket fee
judgment awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or if
should be assessed by considering the amount of damages as
specified, the same has been left for the determination of the
alleged in the original complaint.
court, the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien
However, the contention of petitioners is that since the action on the judgment" by considering it to mean that where in the
concerns real estate, the assessed value thereof should be body and prayer of the complaint there is a prayer, say for
considered in computing the fees pursuant to Section 5, Rule exemplary or corrective damages, the amount of which is left
141 of the Rules of Court. Such rule cannot apply to this case to the discretion of the Court, there is no need to specify the
which is an action for specific performance with damages amount being sought, and that any award thereafter shall
although it is in relation to a transaction involving real estate. constitute a lien on the judgment.
Pursuant to Manchester, the amount of the docket fees to be
In the latest case Tacay vs. Regional Trial Court of Tagum, 3 this
paid should be computed on the basis of the amount of
Court had occasion to make the clarification that the phrase
damages stated in the complaint.
"awards of claims not specified in the pleading" refers only to
Petitioners also allege that because of the failure of the private "damages arising after the filing of the complaint or similar
respondents to state the amount of exemplary damages being pleading . . . as to which the additional filing fee therefor shall
sought, the complaint must nevertheless be dismissed in constitute a lien on the judgment." The amount of any claim
accordance to Manchester. The trial court denied the motion for damages, therefore, arising on or before the filing of the
stating that the determination of the exemplary damages is complaint or any pleading, should be specified. While it is true
within the sound discretion of the court and that it would be that the determination of certain damages as exemplary or
unwarrantedly presumptuous on the part of the private corrective damages is left to the sound discretion of the court,
74
it is the duty of the parties claiming such damages to specify
the amount sought on the basis of which the court may make
a proper determination, and for the proper assessment of the
appropriate docket fees. The exception contemplated as to
claims not specified or to claims although specified are left for
determination of the court is limited only to any damages that
may arise after the filing of the complaint or similar pleading
for then it will not be possible for the claimant to specify nor
speculate as to the amount thereof.

The amended and supplemental complaint in the present case,


therefore, suffers from the material defect in failing to state
the amount of exemplary damages prayed for.

As ruled in Tacay the trial court may either order said claim to
be expunged from the record as it did not acquire jurisdiction
over the same or on motion, it may allow, within a reasonable
time, the amendment of the amended and supplemental
complaint so as to state the precise amount of the exemplary
damages sought and require the payment of the requisite fees
therefor within the relevant prescriptive period. 4

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The trial court is


directed either to expunge from the record the claim for
exemplary damages in the amended and supplemental
complaint, the amount of which is not specified, or it may
otherwise, upon motion, give reasonable time to private
respondents to amend their pleading by specifying its amount
and paying the corresponding docketing fees within the
appropriate reglementary or prescriptive period. No costs.

75
NEGROS ORIENTAL 1. Failure of the Petitioner to state in its Verification that the
PLANTERS ASSOCIATION, allegations in the petition are based on authentic records, in
INC. (NOPA), violation of Section 4, Rule 7, of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, as amended by A.M. No. 00-2-10-SC (May 1, 2000),
Petitioner,- versus - HON.
which provides:
PRESIDING JUDGE OF RTC-
NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, x x x - A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has
BRANCH 52, BACOLOD CITY, read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and
and ANICETO correct of his personal knowledge or based on authentic
MANOJO CAMPOS, records.

Respondents. A pleading required to be verified which contains a verification


based on information and belief, or lacks a proper
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading.
Whats sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
2. Failure of the petitioner to append to the petition relevant
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari seeking the reversal pleadings and documents, which would aid in the resolution of
of the Resolutions[1] of the Court of Appeals dated 23 May the instant petition, in violation of Section 1, Rule 65 of the
2007 and 16 August 2007, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. Rules of Court, such as:
02651 outrightly dismissing the Petition for Certiorari filed by
a. Ex-parte Motion to Set the Case for Pre-Trial dated July
petitioner Negros Oriental Planters Association, Inc. (NOPA)
27, 1999;
against private respondent Aniceto Manojo Campos (Campos).
b. Notice of Pre-Trial;
On 17 March 1999, Campos filed a Complaint for Breach of
Contract with Damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-10773, c. Motion for Leave to File Third Party Complaint;
against NOPA before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Negros
d. Orders dated July 31, 2000, March 20 2001, November
Occidental, Bacolod City. According to the
17, 2004, and May 17, 2005, respectively;
Complaint, Campos and NOPA entered into two separate
contracts denominated as Molasses Sales e. Motion to Suspend the Proceedings dated August 10,
Agreement.Campos allegedly paid the consideration of the 2003;
Molasses Sales Agreement in full, but was only able to receive
a partial delivery of the molasses because of a disagreement as f. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Prosecute; and
to the quality of the products being delivered.
g. Motion for Reconsideration to the Order dated May 12,
On 17 August 2005, more than six years after NOPA filed its 2005.
Answer, NOPA filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of an
Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, provides: When any
alleged failure of Campos to file the correct filing
tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
fee. According to NOPA, Campos deliberately concealed in his
functions has acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction,
Complaint the exact amount of actual damages by opting to
or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess
estimate the value of the unwithdrawn molasses in order to
of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and
escape the payment of the proper docket fees.
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person
On 30 June 2006, the RTC issued an Order denying the Motion aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper
to Dismiss. NOPA received this Order on 17 July 2006. court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that
judgment be rendered annulling or modifying the proceedings
On 1 August 2006, NOPA filed a Motion for Reconsideration of of such tribunal, board or officer, and granting such incidental
the 30 June 2006 Order. On 5 January 2007, the RTC issued an reliefs as law and justice may require.
Order denying NOPAs Motion for Reconsideration.
The petition shall be accompanied by a certified true copy of
On 2 April 2007, NOPA filed a Petition for Certiorari before the the judgment, order or resolution subject thereof, copies of all
Court of Appeals assailing the Orders of the RTC dated 30 June pleadings and documents relevant and pertinent thereto, and
2006 and 5 January 2007. a sworn certification of non-forum shopping as provided in the
paragraph of section 3, Rule 46.
On 23 May 2007, the Court of Appeals issued the first assailed
Resolution dismissing the Petition for Certiorari on the
following grounds:
76
3. Failure of petitioners counsel to indicate in the petition his 4. The resolution of the important jurisdictional issue raised by
current IBP Official Receipt Number, in violation of Bar Matter the petitioner before the PUBLIC RESPONDENT CA would
No. 1132 and/or A.M. No. 287, which reads as follows: justify a relaxation of the rules.[7]

The Court resolved, upon recommendation of the Office of the The original Verification in the original Petition
Bar Confidant, to GRANT the request of the Board of Governors for Certiorari filed by NOPA states as follows:
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippinesand the Sanguniang
1. That I am the President and Chairman of the Board of
Panlalawigan of Ilocos Norte to require all lawyers to indicate
Directors of Negros Oriental Planters Association, Inc. (NOPA),
their Roll of Attorneys Number in all papers or pleadings
the petitioner in this case, a domestic corporation duly
submitted to the various judicial or quasi-judicial bodies in
organized under Philippine Laws, with principal place of
addition to the requirement of indicating the current
business at Central Bais, Bais City, Philippines; that I am duly
Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) and the IBP Official Receipt or
authorized by the Board of NOPA (Secretarys Certificate
Lifetime Member Number.[2]
attached as Annex A) to cause the preparation of the foregoing
On 22 June 2007, NOPA filed a Motion for Reconsideration of petition; and that I hereby affirm and confirm that all the
the above Resolution, attaching thereto an Amended Petition allegations contained herein are true and correct to my own
for Certiorari in compliance with the requirements of the Court knowledge and belief;[8]
of Appeals deemed to have been violated by NOPA. The Court
NOPA claims that this Court has in several cases allowed
of Appeals denied the said Motion in the second assailed
pleadings with a Verification that contains the allegation to the
Resolution dated 16 August 2007.
best of my knowledge and the allegation are true and correct,
Hence, this Petition for Review on Certiorari, where NOPA without the words of his own knowledge, citing Decano v.
raises the following issue and arguments: Edu,[9] and Quimpo v. De la Victoria.[10] NOPA claims that the
allegations in these cases constitute substantial compliance
ISSUE . WHETHER OR NOT THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT CA
with the Rules of Court, and should likewise apply to the case
COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT RULED THAT THERE
at bar.
WAS NO SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROCEDURAL
REQUIREMENTS WHEN PETITIONER FAILED TO ALLEGE IN ITS NOPA is mistaken. NOPA cited cases promulgated before 1
VERIFICATION THAT THE ALLEGATIONS THEREIN ARE TRUE May 2000, when Section 4 of Rule 7 was amended by A.M. No.
AND CORRECT OF HIS PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OR BASED ON 00-2-10. Before the amendment, said Section 4 stated:
AUTHENTIC RECORDS AND FAILURE TO ATTACH THE
SEC. 4. Verification.Except when otherwise specifically
NECESSARY DOCUMENTS ON ITS PLEADINGS AS REQUIRED BY
required by law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath,
SECTION 1, RULE 65 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL
verified or accompanied by affidavit.A pleading is verified by
PROCEDURE.[3]
an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that the
ARGUMENTS allegations therein are true and correct of his knowledge and
belief.
1. The requirement that a pleading be verified is merely
formal and not jurisdictional. The court may give due course to As amended, said Section 4 now states: SEC.
an unverified pleading where the material facts alleged are a 4. Verification.Except when otherwise specifically required by
matter of record and the questions raised are mainly of law law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or
such as in a petition for certiorari.[4] accompanied by affidavit.

2. Petitioner had attached to its Petition for Certiorari clearly A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read
legible and duplicate original or a certified true copy of the the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and
judgment or final order or resolution of the court a quo and correct of his personal knowledge or based on authentic
the requisite number of plain copies thereof and such material records.
portions of the record as would support the petition.[5]
Clearly, the amendment was introduced in order to make the
3. Substantial compliance of the rules, which was further verification requirement stricter, such that the party cannot
supplied by the petitioners subsequent full compliance now merely state under oath that he believes the statements
demonstrates its good faith to abide by the procedural made in the pleading. He cannot even merely state under oath
requirements.[6] that he has knowledge that such statements are true and
correct. His knowledge must be specifically alleged under oath

77
to be either personal knowledge or at least based on authentic We have seen that where such rulings have to do with minor
records. matters, not affecting the substantial rights of the parties, the
prohibition of review in appellate proceedings is made
Unlike, however, the requirement for a Certification against
absolute by the express terms of the statute; but it would be a
Forum Shopping in Section 5, wherein failure to comply with
monstrous travesty on justice to declare that where the
the requirements is not curable by amendment of the
exercise of discretionary power by an inferior court affects
complaint or other initiatory pleading,[11] Section 4 of Rule 7,
adversely the substantial legal rights of a litigant, it is not
as amended, states that the effect of the failure to properly
subject to review on appeal in any case wherein a clear and
verify a pleading is that the pleading shall be treated as
affirmative showing is made of an abuse of discretion, or of a
unsigned:
total lack of its exercise, or of conduct amounting to an abuse
A pleading required to be verified which contains a of discretion, such as its improper exercise under a
verification based on information and belief, or upon misapprehension of the law applicable to the facts upon which
knowledge, information and belief, or lacks a proper the ruling is based.
verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading.
In its very nature, the discretionary control conferred upon the
Unsigned pleadings are discussed in the immediately trial judge over the proceedings had before him implies the
preceding section of Rule 7: absence of any hard-and-fast rule by which it is to be exercised,
and in accordance with which it may be reviewed. But the
SEC. 3. Signature and address. x x x.x x x x discretion conferred upon the courts is not a willful, arbitrary,
capricious and uncontrolled discretion. It is a sound, judicial
An unsigned pleading produces no legal effect. However, the
discretion which should always be exercised with due regard
court may, in its discretion, allow such deficiency to be
to the rights of the parties and the demands of equity and
remedied if it shall appear that the same was due to mere
justice. As was said in the case of The Styria vs. Morgan (186 U.
inadvertence and not intended for delay. Counsel who
S., 1, 9): "The establishment of a clearly defined rule of action
deliberately files an unsigned pleading, or signs a pleading in
would be the end of discretion, and yet discretion should not
violation of this Rule, or alleges scandalous or indecent matter
be a word for arbitrary will or inconsiderate action." So in the
therein, or fails to promptly report to the court a change of his
case of Goodwin vs. Prime (92 Me., 355), it was said that
address, shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. (5a)
"discretion implies that in the absence of positive law or fixed
A pleading, therefore, wherein the Verification is merely rule the judge is to decide by his view of expediency or by the
based on the partys knowledge and belief produces no demands of equity and justice."
legal effect, subject to the discretion of the court to allow the
There being no "positive law or fixed rule" to guide the judge
deficiency to be remedied. In the case at bar, the Court of
in the court below in such cases, there is no "positive law or
Appeals, in the exercise of this discretion, refused to allow the
fixed rule" to guide a court of appeal in reviewing his action in
deficiency in the Verification to be remedied, by denying
the premises, and such courts will not therefore attempt to
NOPAs Motion for Reconsideration with attached Amended
control the exercise of discretion by the court below unless it
Petition for Certiorari.
plainly appears that there was "inconsiderate action" or the
May an appellate court reverse the exercise of discretion by a exercise of mere "arbitrary will," or in other words that his
lower court? The old case of Lino Luna v. Arcenas[12] states action in the premises amounted to "an abuse of discretion."
that it can, but only in exceptional cases when there is grave But the right of an appellate court to review judicial acts which
abuse of this discretion or adverse effect on the substantial lie in the discretion of inferior courts may properly be invoked
rights of a litigant: upon a showing of a strong and clear case of abuse of power
to the prejudice of the appellant, or that the ruling objected to
Discretionary power is generally exercised by trial judges in rested on an erroneous principle of law not vested in
furtherance of the convenience of the courts and the litigants, discretion.[13]
the expedition of business, and in the decision of interlocutory
matters on conflicting facts where one tribunal could not easily The case at bar demonstrates a situation in which there is no
prescribe to another the appropriate rule of procedure. effect on the substantial rights of a litigant. NOPAs Petition
for Certiorari is seeking the reversal of the Orders of the RTC
The general rule, therefore, and indeed one of the denying NOPAs Motion to Dismiss on the ground of failure to
fundamental principles of appellate procedure is that pay the proper docket fees. The alleged deficiency in the
decisions of a trial court which "lie in discretion" will not be payment of docket fees by Campos, if there is any, would not
reviewed on appeal, whether the case be civil or criminal at inure to the benefit of NOPA.
law or in equity.
78
There is therefore no substantive right that will be prejudiced clear that the factual milieu of the instant case is far from that
by the Court of Appeals exercise of discretion in the case at of Manchester.
bar. While the payment of docket fees is jurisdictional, it is
nevertheless unmistakably also a technicality. Ironically, in
seeking the leniency of this Court on the basis of substantial First, the complainant in Manchester paid the docket fee only
justice, NOPA is ultimately praying for a Writ in the amount of P410.00, notwithstanding its claim for
of Certiorari enjoining the action for breach of contract from damages in the amount of P78,750,000.00, while in the
being decided on the merits. Whats sauce for the goose is present case, the private respondent paid P42,000.00 as
sauce for the gander. A party cannot expect its opponent to docket fees upon filing of the original complaint.
comply with the technical rules of procedure while, at the
same time, hoping for the relaxation of the technicalities in its Second, complainant's counsel in Manchester claimed, in the
favor. body of the complaint, damages in the amount of P78,750.00
but omitted the same in its prayer in order to evade the
There was therefore no grave abuse of discretion on the part payment of docket fees. Such fraud-defining circumstance is
of the Court of Appeals warranting this Courts reversal of the absent in the instant petition.
exercise of discretion by the former. However, even if we
decide to brush aside the lapses in technicalities on the part of Finally, when the court took cognizance of the issue of non-
NOPA in its Petition for Certiorari, we nevertheless find that payment of docket fees in Manchester, the complainant
such Petition would still fail. therein filed an amended complaint, this time omitting all
mention of the amount of damages being claimed in the body
NOPA seeks in its Petition for Certiorari for the application of of the complaint; and when directed by the court to specify the
this Courts ruling in Manchester Development Corporation v. amount of damages in such amended complaint, it reduced
Court of Appeals,[14] wherein we ruled that the court acquires the same from P78,750,000.00 to P10,000,000.00, obviously
jurisdiction over any case only upon payment of the prescribed to avoid payment of the required docket fee. Again, this patent
docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar fraudulent scheme is wanting in the case at bar.
pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction in the court, much
less the payment of the docket fee based on the amount This Court is not inclined to adopt the petitioner's piecemeal
sought in the amended pleading. construction of our rulings in Manchester and Sun Insurance.
Its attempt to strip the said landmark cases of one or two lines
In denying[15] NOPAs Motion to Dismiss, the RTC cited Sun and use them to bolster its arguments and clothe its position
Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) v. Asuncion,[16] wherein with jurisprudential blessing must be struck down by this
we modified our ruling in Manchester and decreed that where Court.
the initiatory pleading is not accompanied by the payment of
the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee within All told, the rule is clear and simple. In case where the party
a reasonable period of time, but in no case beyond the does not deliberately intend to defraud the court in payment
applicable prescriptive or reglementary period. The aforesaid of docket fees, and manifests its willingness to abide by the
ruling was made on the justification that, unlike in Manchester, rules by paying additional docket fees when required by the
the private respondent in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. court, the liberal doctrine enunciated in Sun Insurance and not
(SIOL) demonstrated his willingness to abide by the rules by the strict regulations set in Manchester will apply.
paying the additional docket fees required. NOPA claims
that Sun is not applicable to the case at bar,
since Campos deliberately concealed his claim for damages in In the case at bar, Campos filed an amount of P54,898.50 as
the prayer. docket fee, based on the amounts of P10,000,000.00
representing the value of unwithdrawn molasses, P100,00.00
In United Overseas Bank (formerly Westmont Bank) v.
as storage fee, P200,00.00 as moral damages, P100,000.00 as
Ros,[17] we discussed how Manchester was not applicable to
exemplary damages and P500,000.00 as attorneys fees. The
said case in view of the lack of deliberate intent to defraud
total amount considered in computing the docket fee
manifested in the latter:
was P10,900,000.00. NOPA alleges that Campos deliberately
This Court wonders how the petitioner could possibly arrive at omitted a claim for unrealized profit of P100,000.00 and an
the conclusion that the private respondent was moved by excess amount of storage fee in the amount of P502,875.98 in
fraudulent intent in omitting the amount of damages claimed its prayer and, hence, the amount that should have been
in its Second Amended Complaint, thus placing itself on the considered in the payment of docket fees
same footing as the complainant in Manchester, when it is is P11,502,875.98. The amount allegedly deliberately omitted

79
was therefore only P602,875.98 out of P11,502,875.98, or
merely 5.2% of said alleged total. Camposs pleadings
furthermore evince his willingness to abide by the rules by
paying the additional docket fees when required by the Court.

Since the circumstances of this case clearly show that there


was no deliberate intent to defraud the Court in the payment
of docket fees, the case of Sun should be applied, and the
Motion to Dismiss by NOPA should be denied.

WHEREFORE, the Resolutions of the Court of Appeals dated 23


May 2007 and 16 August 2007, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No.
02651, outrightly dismissing the Petition for Certiorari filed by
petitioner Negros Oriental Planters Association, Inc. against
private respondent Aniceto Manojo Campos,
are AFFIRMED. No costs.

80
HEIRS OF BERTULDO[1] HINOG: Bertuldo Hinog II, Bertuldo petitioner Bertuldo Hinog III. Atty. Veronico G. Petalcorin then
Hinog III, Bertuldo Hinog, Jr., Jocelyn Hinog, Bertoldo Hinog entered his appearance as new counsel for Bertuldo.[4]
IV, Bertoldo Hinog V, Edgardo Hinog, Milagros H. Pabatao,
On September 22, 1998, Atty. Petalcorin filed a motion to
Lilian H. King, Victoria H. Engracia, Terisita C. Hinog, Paz H.
expunge the complaint from the record and nullify all court
Besana, Roberto C. Hinog, Vicente C. Hinog, Roel C. Hinog,
proceedings on the ground that private respondents failed to
Marilyn C. Hinog, Bebot C. Hinog, lordes C. Hinog, Pablo
specify in the complaint the amount of damages claimed so as
Chiong, Arlene Lanasang (All respresented by Bertuldo Hinog
to pay the correct docket fees; and that under Manchester
III), petitioners, vs. HON. ACHILLES MELICOR, in his capacity
Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals,[5] non-payment
as Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch 4, 7th Judicial Region,
of the correct docket fee is jurisdictional.[6]
Tagbiliran City, Bohol, and CUSTODIO BALANE, RUFO
BALANE, HONORIO BALANE, and TOMAS In an amended motion, filed on October 2, 1998, Atty.
BALANE, respondents. AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: Petalcorin further alleged that the private respondents failed
to pay the correct docket fee since the main subject matter of
Before us is a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule
the case cannot be estimated as it is for recovery of ownership,
65 of the Rules of Court which assails the Orders dated March
possession and removal of construction.[7]
22, 1999, August 13, 1999 and October 15, 1999 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 4, of Tagbilaran City, Bohol in Civil Private respondents opposed the motion to expunge on the
Case No. 4923. following grounds: (a) said motion was filed more than seven
years from the institution of the case; (b) Atty. Petalcorin has
The factual background of the case is as follows: On May 21,
not complied with Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court
1991, private respondents Custodio, Rufo, Tomas and Honorio,
which provides that the death of the original defendant
all surnamed Balane, filed a complaint for Recovery of
requires a substitution of parties before a lawyer can have
Ownership and Possession, Removal of Construction and
legal personality to represent a litigant and the motion to
Damages against Bertuldo Hinog (Bertuldo for brevity). They
expunge does not mention of any specific party whom he is
alleged that: they own a 1,399- square meter parcel of land
representing; (c) collectible fees due the court can be charged
situated in Malayo Norte, Cortes, Bohol, designated as Lot No.
as lien on the judgment; and (d) considering the lapse of time,
1714; sometime in March 1980, they allowed Bertuldo to use
the motion is merely a dilatory scheme employed by
a portion of the said property for a period of ten years and
petitioners.[8]
construct thereon a small house of light materials at a nominal
annual rental of P100.00 only, considering the close relations In their Rejoinder, petitioners manifested that the lapse of
of the parties; after the expiration of the ten-year period, they time does not vest the court with jurisdiction over the case due
demanded the return of the occupied portion and removal of to failure to pay the correct docket fees. As to the contention
the house constructed thereon but Bertuldo refused and that deficiency in payment of docket fees can be made as a lien
instead claimed ownership of the entire property. on the judgment, petitioners argued that the payment of filing
fees cannot be made dependent on the result of the action
Accordingly, private respondents sought to oust Bertuldo from
taken.[9]
the premises of the subject property and restore upon
themselves the ownership and possession thereof, as well as On January 21, 1999, the trial court, while ordering the
the payment of moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees complaint to be expunged from the records and the
and litigation expenses in amounts justified by the evidence. [2] nullification of all court proceedings taken for failure to pay the
correct docket fees, nonetheless, held:
On July 2, 1991, Bertuldo filed his Answer. He alleged
ownership of the disputed property by virtue of a Deed of The Court can acquire jurisdiction over this case only upon the
Absolute Sale dated July 2, 1980, executed by one Tomas payment of the exact prescribed docket/filing fees for the main
Pahac with the knowledge and conformity of private cause of action, plus additional docket fee for the amount of
respondents.[3] damages being prayed for in the complaint, which amount
should be specified so that the same can be considered in
After the pre-trial, trial on the merits ensued. On November
assessing the amount of the filing fees. Upon the complete
18, 1997, private respondents rested their case. Thereupon,
payment of such fees, the Court may take appropriate action
Bertuldo started his direct examination. However, on June 24,
in the light of the ruling in the case of Manchester
1998, Bertuldo died without completing his evidence.
Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, supra.[10]
On August 4, 1998, Atty. Sulpicio A. Tinampay withdrew as
Accordingly, on January 28, 1999, upon payment of deficiency
counsel for Bertuldo as his services were terminated by
docket fee, private respondents filed a manifestation with
81
prayer to reinstate the case.[11] Petitioners opposed the On November 19, 1999, Atty. Petalcorin complied with the
reinstatement[12] but on March 22, 1999, the trial court issued directive of the trial court to submit the names and addresses
the first assailed Order reinstating the case.[13] of the heirs of Bertuldo.[26]

On May 24, 1999, petitioners, upon prior leave of On November 24, 1999, petitioners filed before us the present
court,[14] filed their supplemental pleading, appending therein petition for certiorari and prohibition.[27] They allege that the
a Deed of Sale dated November 15, 1982.[15] Following the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion in
submission of private respondents opposition thereto, [16] the allowing the case to be reinstated after private respondents
trial court, in its Order dated July 7, 1999, denied the paid the docket fee deficiency since the trial court had earlier
supplemental pleading on the ground that the Deed of expunged the complaint from the record and nullified all
Absolute Sale is a new matter which was never mentioned in proceedings of the case and such ruling was not contested by
the original answer dated July 2, 1991, prepared by Bertuldos the private respondents. Moreover, they argue that the public
original counsel and which Bertuldo verified; and that such respondent committed grave abuse of discretion in allowing
new document is deemed waived in the light of Section 1, Rule the case to be filed and denying the manifestation with motion
9[17] of the Rules of Court. The trial court also noted that no to dismiss, despite the defect in the complaint which prayed
formal substitution of the parties was made because of the for damages without specifying the amounts, in violation of SC
failure of defendants counsel to give the names and addresses Circular No. 7, dated March 24, 1988.
of the legal representatives of Bertuldo, so much so that the
In their Comment, private respondents aver that no grave
supposed heirs of Bertuldo are not specified in any pleading in
abuse of discretion was committed by the trial court in
the case. [18]
reinstating the complaint upon the payment of deficiency
On July 14, 1999, petitioners manifested that the trial court docket fees because petitioners did not object thereto within
having expunged the complaint and nullified all court the reglementary period. Besides, Atty. Petalcorin possessed
proceedings, there is no valid case and the complaint should no legal personality to appear as counsel for the heirs of
not be admitted for failure to pay the correct docket fees; that Bertuldo until he complies with Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules
there should be no case to be reinstated and no case to of Court.[28]
proceed as there is no complaint filed.[19]
At the outset, we note the procedural error committed by
After the submission of private respondents opposition[20] and petitioners in directly filing the instant petition before this
petitioners rejoinder,[21] the trial court issued the second Court for it violates the established policy of strict observance
assailed Order on August 13, 1999, essentially denying of the judicial hierarchy of courts.
petitioners manifestation/rejoinder. The trial court held that
Although the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the
the issues raised in such manifestation/rejoinder are
Regional Trial Courts have concurrent jurisdiction to issue writs
practically the same as those raised in the amended motion to
of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas
expunge which had already been passed upon in the Order
corpus and injunction, such concurrence does not give the
dated January 21, 1999. Moreover, the trial court observed
petitioner unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum.[29] As
that the Order dated March 22, 1999 which reinstated the case
we stated in People vs. Cuaresma:[30]
was not objected to by petitioners within the reglementary
period or even thereafter via a motion for reconsideration This Court's original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari is
despite receipt thereof on March 26, 1999.[22] not exclusive. It is shared by this Court with Regional Trial
Courts and with the Court of Appeals. This concurrence of
On August 25, 1999, petitioners filed a motion for
jurisdiction is not, however, to be taken as according to parties
reconsideration[23] but the same was denied by the trial court
seeking any of the writs an absolute, unrestrained freedom of
in its third assailed Order dated October 15, 1999. The trial
choice of the court to which application therefor will be
court held that the Manchester rule was relaxed in Sun
directed. There is after all a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy
Insurance Office, Ltd. vs. Asuncion.[24] Noting that there has
is determinative of the venue of appeals, and also serves as a
been no substitution of parties following the death of
general determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for
Bertuldo, the trial court directed Atty. Petalcorin to comply
the extraordinary writs. A becoming regard for that judicial
with the provisions of Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court.
hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the
The trial court also reiterated that the Order dated March 22,
issuance of extraordinary writs against first level (inferior)
1999 reinstating the case was not assailed by petitioners
courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those
within the reglementary period, despite receipt thereof on
against the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct
March 26, 1999.[25]
invocation of the Supreme Courts original jurisdiction to issue

82
these writs should be allowed only when there are special and passed, did they raise the issue that the complaint should not
important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in have been reinstated in the first place because the trial court
the petition. This is [an] established policy. It is a policy had no jurisdiction to do so, having already ruled that the
necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon the Courts complaint shall be expunged.
time and attention which are better devoted to those matters
After recognizing the jurisdiction of the trial court by seeking
within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-
affirmative relief in their motion to serve supplemental
crowding of the Courts docket.[31]
pleading upon private respondents, petitioners are effectively
The rationale for this rule is two-fold: (a) it would be an barred by estoppel from challenging the trial courts
imposition upon the precious time of this Court; and (b) it jurisdiction.[38] If a party invokes the jurisdiction of a court, he
would cause an inevitable and resultant delay, intended or cannot thereafter challenge the courts jurisdiction in the same
otherwise, in the adjudication of cases, which in some case.[39] To rule otherwise would amount to speculating on the
instances had to be remanded or referred to the lower court fortune of litigation, which is against the policy of the Court.[40]
as the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as better
Nevertheless, there is a need to correct the erroneous
equipped to resolve the issues because this Court is not a trier
impression of the trial court as well as the private respondents
of facts.[32]
that petitioners are barred from assailing the Order dated
Thus, this Court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the March 22, 1999 which reinstated the case because it was not
redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts, objected to within the reglementary period or even thereafter
and exceptional and compelling circumstances, such as cases via a motion for reconsideration despite receipt thereof on
of national interest and of serious implications, justify the March 26, 1999.
availment of the extraordinary remedy of writ of certiorari,
It must be clarified that the said order is but a resolution on an
calling for the exercise of its primary jurisdiction. Exceptional
incidental matter which does not touch on the merits of the
and compelling circumstances were held present in the
case or put an end to the proceedings.[41] It is an interlocutory
following cases: (a) Chavez vs. Romulo[33] on citizens right to
order since there leaves something else to be done by the trial
bear arms; (b) Government of the United States of America vs.
court with respect to the merits of the case.[42] As such, it is not
Purganan[34] on bail in extradition proceedings; (c) Commission
subject to a reglementary period. Reglementary period refers
on Elections vs. Quijano-Padilla[35] on government contract
to the period set by the rules for appeal or further review of a
involving modernization and computerization of voters
final judgment or order, i.e., one that ends the litigation in the
registration list; (d) Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB vs. Zamora[36] on
trial court.
status and existence of a public office; and (e) Fortich vs.
Corona[37] on the so-called Win-Win Resolution of the Office of Moreover, the remedy against an interlocutory order is
the President which modified the approval of the conversion generally not to resort forthwith to certiorari, but to continue
to agro-industrial area. with the case in due course and, when an unfavorable verdict
is handed down, to take an appeal in the manner authorized
In this case, no special and important reason or exceptional
by law.[43] Only when the court issued such order without or in
and compelling circumstance analogous to any of the above
excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion and
cases has been adduced by the petitioners so as to justify
when the assailed interlocutory order is patently erroneous
direct recourse to this Court. The present petition should have
and the remedy of appeal would not afford adequate and
been initially filed in the Court of Appeals in strict observance
expeditious relief will certiorari be considered an appropriate
of the doctrine on the hierarchy of courts. Failure to do so is
remedy to assail an interlocutory order.[44] Such special
sufficient cause for the dismissal of the petition at bar.
circumstances are absolutely wanting in the present case.
In any event, even if the Court disregards such procedural flaw,
Time and again, the Court has held that the Manchester
the petitioners contentions on the substantive aspect of the
rule has been modified in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) vs.
case fail to invite judgment in their favor.
Asuncion[45] which defined the following guidelines involving
The unavailability of the writ of certiorari and prohibition in the payment of docket fees:
this case is borne out of the fact that petitioners principally
1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate
assail the Order dated March 22, 1999 which they never
initiatory pleading, but the payment of the prescribed docket
sought reconsideration of, in due time, despite receipt thereof
fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject-
on March 26, 1999. Instead, petitioners went through the
matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the initiatory
motion of filing a supplemental pleading and only when the
pleading is not accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the
latter was denied, or after more than three months have
court may allow payment of the fees within a reasonable time
83
but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or Thus, while the docket fees were based only on the real
reglementary period. property valuation, the trial court acquired jurisdiction over
the action, and judgment awards which were left for
2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third-
determination by the court or as may be proven during trial
party claims and similar pleadings, which shall not be
would still be subject to additional filing fees which shall
considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed
constitute a lien on the judgment. It would then be the
therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee
responsibility of the Clerk of Court of the trial court or his duly
within a reasonable time but also in no case beyond its
authorized deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect
applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.
the additional fees.[51]
3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by
It is worth noting that when Bertuldo filed his Answer on July
the filing of the appropriate pleading and payment of the
2, 1991, he did not raise the issue of lack of jurisdiction for non-
prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment awards a
payment of correct docket fees. Instead, he based his defense
claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified the same has
on a claim of ownership and participated in the proceedings
been left for determination by the court, the additional filing
before the trial court. It was only in September 22, 1998 or
fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It shall be
more than seven years after filing the answer, and under the
the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized
auspices of a new counsel, that the issue of jurisdiction was
deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the
raised for the first time in the motion to expunge by Bertuldos
additional fee.
heirs.
Plainly, while the payment of the prescribed docket fee is a
After Bertuldo vigorously participated in all stages of the case
jurisdictional requirement, even its non-payment at the time
before the trial court and even invoked the trial courts
of filing does not automatically cause the dismissal of the case,
authority in order to ask for affirmative relief, petitioners,
as long as the fee is paid within the applicable prescriptive or
considering that they merely stepped into the shoes of their
reglementary period, more so when the party involved
predecessor, are effectively barred by estoppel from
demonstrates a willingness to abide by the rules prescribing
challenging the trial courts jurisdiction. Although the issue of
such payment.[46] Thus, when insufficient filing fees were
jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings as
initially paid by the plaintiffs and there was no intention to
the same is conferred by law, it is nonetheless settled that a
defraud the government, the Manchester rule does not
party may be barred from raising it on ground of laches or
apply.[47]
estoppel.[52]
Under the peculiar circumstances of this case, the
Moreover, no formal substitution of the parties was effected
reinstatement of the complaint was just and proper
within thirty days from date of death of Bertuldo, as required
considering that the cause of action of private respondents,
by Section 16, Rule 3[53] of the Rules of Court. Needless to
being a real action, prescribes in thirty years, [48] and private
stress, the purpose behind the rule on substitution is the
respondents did not really intend to evade the payment of the
protection of the right of every party to due process. It is to
prescribed docket fee but simply contend that they could not
ensure that the deceased party would continue to be properly
be faulted for inadequate assessment because the clerk of
represented in the suit through the duly appointed legal
court made no notice of demand or reassessment. [49] They
representative of his estate.[54] Non-compliance with the rule
were in good faith and simply relied on the assessment of the
on substitution would render the proceedings and judgment of
clerk of court.
the trial court infirm because the court acquires no jurisdiction
Furthermore, the fact that private respondents prayed for over the persons of the legal representatives or of the heirs on
payment of damages in amounts justified by the evidence does whom the trial and the judgment would be binding. [55] Thus,
not call for the dismissal of the complaint for violation of SC proper substitution of heirs must be effected for the trial court
Circular No. 7, dated March 24, 1988 which required that all to acquire jurisdiction over their persons and to obviate any
complaints must specify the amount of damages sought not future claim by any heir that he was not apprised of the
only in the body of the pleadings but also in the prayer in order litigation against Bertuldo or that he did not authorize Atty.
to be accepted and admitted for filing. Sun Petalcorin to represent him.
Insurance effectively modified SC Circular No. 7 by providing
The list of names and addresses of the heirs was submitted
that filing fees for damages and awards that cannot be
sixteen months after the death of Bertuldo and only when the
estimated constitute liens on the awards finally granted by the
trial court directed Atty. Petalcorin to comply with the
trial court.[50]
provisions of Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. Strictly
speaking therefore, before said compliance, Atty. Petalcorin
84
had no standing in the court a quo when he filed his pleadings.
Be that as it may, the matter has been duly corrected by the
Order of the trial court dated October 15, 1999.

To be sure, certiorari under Rule 65[56] is a remedy narrow in


scope and inflexible in character. It is not a general utility tool
in the legal workshop.[57] It offers only a limited form of review.
Its principal function is to keep an inferior tribunal within its
jurisdiction.[58] It can be invoked only for an error of
jurisdiction, that is, one where the act complained of was
issued by the court, officer or a quasi-judicial body without or
in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion
which is tantamount to lack or in excess of jurisdiction, [59] not
to be used for any other purpose,[60] such as to cure errors in
proceedings or to correct erroneous conclusions of law or
fact.[61] A contrary rule would lead to confusion, and seriously
hamper the administration of justice.

Petitioners utterly failed to show that the trial court gravely


abused its discretion in issuing the assailed resolutions. On the
contrary, it acted prudently, in accordance with law and
jurisprudence.

CAUSES OF ACTION
85
JUANA COMPLEX I was re-routed to narrow streets that caused terrible traffic
HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, congestion and hazard; and that its permanent closure would
INC.,Petitioners, not only prejudice their right to free and unhampered use of
the property but would also cause great damage and
- versus - FIL-ESTATE LAND, irreparable injury.
INC.,
Accordingly, JCHA, et al. also prayed for the immediate
issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or a writ of
preliminary injunction (WPI) to enjoin Fil-Estate, et al. from
stopping and intimidating them in their use of La Paz Road.

On February 10, 1999, a TRO was issued ordering Fil-Estate, et


al, for a period of twenty (20) days, to stop preventing,
coercing, intimidating or harassing the commuters and
motorists from using the La Paz Road. [6]
Before the Court are two (2) consolidated petitions assailing
the July 31, 2001 Decision[1] and February 21, 2002 Subsequently, the RTC conducted several hearings to
Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. determine the propriety of the issuance of a WPI.
60543, which annulled and set aside the March 3, 1999
On February 26, 1999, Fil-Estate, et al. filed a motion to
Order[3] of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 25, Bian,
dismiss[7] arguing that the complaint failed to state a cause of
Laguna (RTC), granting the application for the issuance of a
action and that it was improperly filed as a class suit. On March
writ of preliminary injunction, and upheld the June 16, 2000
5, 1999, JCHA, et al. filed their comment[8] on the motion to
Omnibus Order[4] denying the motion to dismiss.
dismiss to which respondents filed a reply.[9]
The Facts: On January 20, 1999, Juana Complex I Homeowners
On March 3, 1999, the RTC issued an Order [10] granting the
Association, Inc. (JCHA), together with individual residents of
WPI and required JCHA, et al. to post a bond. On March 19,
Juana Complex I and other neighboring
1999, Fil-Estate, et al. filed a motion for
subdivisions (collectively referred as JCHA, et. al.), instituted a [11]
reconsideration arguing, among others, that JCHA, et al.
complaint[5] for damages, in its own behalf and as a class suit
failed to satisfy the requirements for the issuance of a WPI.
representing the regular commuters and motorists of Juana
On March 23, 1999, JCHA, et al. filed their opposition to the
Complex I and neighboring subdivisions who were deprived of
motion.[12]
the use of La Paz Road, against Fil-Estate Land, Inc. (Fil-Estate),
Fil-estate Ecocentrum Corporation (FEEC), La Paz Housing & The RTC then issued its June 16, 2000 Omnibus Order, denying
Development Corporation (La Paz), and Warbird Security both the motion to dismiss and the motion for reconsideration
Agency and their respective officers (collectively referred as Fil- filed by Fil-Estate, et al.
Estate, et al.).
Not satisfied, Fil-Estate, et al. filed a petition for certiorari and
The complaint alleged that JCHA, et al. were regular prohibition before the CA to annul (1) the Order dated March
commuters and motorists who constantly travelled towards 3, 1999 and (2) the Omnibus Order dated June 16, 2000. They
the direction of Manila and Calamba; that they used the entry contended that the complaint failed to state a cause of action
and exit toll gates of South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) by passing and that it was improperly filed as a class suit. With regard to
through right-of-way public road known as La Paz Road; that the issuance of the WPI, the defendants averred that JCHA, et
they had been using La Paz Road for more than ten (10) years; al. failed to show that they had a clear and unmistakable right
that in August 1998, Fil-estate excavated, broke and to the use of La Paz Road; and further claimed that La Paz Road
deliberately ruined La Paz Road that led to SLEX so JCHA, et al. was a torrens registered private road and there was neither a
would not be able to pass through the said road; that La Paz voluntary nor legal easement constituted over it.[13]
Road was restored by the residents to make it passable but Fil-
estate excavated the road again; that JCHA reported the On July 31, 2001, the CA rendered the decision partially
matter to the Municipal Government and the Office of the granting the petition, the dispositive portion of which reads:
Municipal Engineer but the latter failed to repair the road to WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby partially GRANTED. The
make it passable and safe to motorists and pedestrians; that Order dated March 3, 1999 granting the writ of preliminary
the act of Fil-estate in excavating La Paz Road caused damage, injunction is hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE but the portion
prejudice, inconvenience, annoyance, and loss of precious of the Omnibus Order dated June 16, 2000 denying the motion
hours to them, to the commuters and motorists because traffic to dismiss is upheld. SO ORDERED.[14]

86
The CA ruled that the complaint sufficiently stated a cause of traffic at Carmona Entry/Exit and Susana Heights Entry/Exit
action when JCHA, et al. alleged in their complaint that they was at its worst.
had been using La Paz Road for more than ten (10) years and
JCHA, et al. argue that La Paz Road has attained the status and
that their right was violated when Fil-Estate closed and
character of a public road or burdened by an apparent
excavated the road. It sustained the RTC ruling that the
easement of public right of way. They point out that La Paz
complaint was properly filed as a class suit as it was shown that
Road is the widest road in the neighborhood used by motorists
the case was of common interest and that the individuals
in going to Halang Road and in entering the SLEX-Halang toll
sought to be represented were so numerous that it was
gate and that there is no other road as wide as La Paz
impractical to include all of them as parties. The CA, however,
Road existing in the vicinity. For residents of San Pedro,
annulled the WPI for failure of JCHA, et al. to prove their clear
Laguna, the shortest, convenient and safe route towards SLEX
and present right over La Paz Road. The CA ordered the
Halang is along Rosario Avenue joining La Paz Road.
remand of the case to the RTC for a full-blown trial on the
merits. Finally, JCHA, et al. argue that the CA erred when it voided the
WPI because the public nature of La Paz Road had been
Hence, these petitions for review.
sufficiently proven and, as residents of San Pedro and Bian,
In G.R. No. 152272, JCHA, et al. come to this Court, raising the Laguna, their right to use La Paz Road is undeniable.
following issues: (A). THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, IN
In their Memorandum,[17] Fil-Estate, et al. explain that La Paz
HOLDING THAT A FULL-BLOWN TRIAL ON THE MERITS IS
Road is included in the parcels of land covered by Transfer
REQUIRED TO DETERMINE THE NATURE OF THE LA PAZ ROAD,
Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. T-120008, T-90321 and T-90607,
HAD DEPARTED FROM THE ACCEPTED AND USUAL COURSE OF
all registered in the name of La Paz. The purpose of
JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS AS TO CALL FOR AN EXERCISE OF THE
constructing La Paz Road was to provide a passageway for La
POWER OF SUPERVISION.
Paz to its intended projects to the south, one of which was the
(B) THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, IN HOLDING THAT Juana Complex I. When Juana Complex I was completed, La Paz
THE PETITIONERS FAILED TO SATISFY THE REQUIREMENTS FOR donated the open spaces, drainage, canal, and lighting
THE ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, HAD facilities inside the Juana Complex I to the Municipality of Bian.
DECIDED NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE The streets within the subdivisions were then converted to
APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT.[15] public roads and were opened for use of the general public.
The La Paz Road, not being part of the Juana Complex I, was
In G.R. No. 152397, on the other hand, Fil-Estate, et al. anchor
excluded from the donation. Subsequently, La Paz became a
their petition on the following issues:
shareholder of FEEC, a consortium formed to develop several
I.The Court of Appeals declaration that respondents real properties in Bian, Laguna, known as Ecocentrum Project.
Complaint states a cause of action is contrary to existing law In exchange for shares of stock, La Paz contributed some of its
and jurisprudence. real properties to the Municipality of Bian, including the
properties constituting La Paz Road, to form part of the
II.The Court of Appeals pronouncement that respondents Ecocentrum Project.
complaint was properly filed as a class suit is contrary to
existing law and jurisprudence. III. The Court of Appeals Fil-Estate, et al. agree with the CA that the annulment of the
conclusion that full blown trial on the merits is required to WPI was proper since JCHA, et al. failed to prove that they have
determine the nature of the La Paz Road is contrary to existing a clear right over La Paz Road. Fil-Estate, et al. assert that JCHA,
laws and jurisprudence.[16] et al. failed to prove the existence of a right of way or a right
to pass over La Paz Road and that the closure of the said road
JCHA, et al. concur with the CA that the complaint sufficiently constituted an injury to such right. According to them, La Paz
stated a cause of action. They, however, disagree with the CAs Road is a torrens registered private road and there is neither a
pronouncement that a full-blown trial on the merits was voluntary nor legal easement constituted over it. They claim
necessary. They claim that during the hearing on the that La Paz Road is a private property registered under the
application of the writ of injunction, they had sufficiently name of La Paz and the beneficial ownership thereof was
proven that La Paz Road was a public road and that commuters transferred to FEEC when La Paz joined the consortium for the
and motorists of their neighboring villages had used this road Ecocentrum Project.
as their means of access to the San Agustin Church, Colegio De
San Agustin and to SLEX in going to Metro Manila and to Fil-Estate, et al., however, insist that the complaint did not
Southern Tagalog particularly during the rush hours when sufficiently contain the ultimate facts to show a cause of
action. They aver the bare allegation that one is entitled to

87
something is an allegation of a conclusion which adds nothing the commuters and motorists may use. Second, there is an
to the pleading. alleged violation of such right committed by Fil-Estate, et al.
when they excavated the road and prevented the commuters
They likewise argue that the complaint was improperly filed as
and motorists from using the same. Third, JCHA, et al.
a class suit for it failed to show that JCHA, et al. and the
consequently suffered injury and that a valid judgment could
commuters and motorists they are representing have a well-defined
have been rendered in accordance with the relief sought
community of interest over La Paz Road. They claim that the
therein.
excavation of La Paz Road would not necessarily give rise to a
common right or cause of action for JCHA, et al. against them since With respect to the issue that the case was improperly
each of them has a separate and distinct purpose and each may be instituted as a class suit, the Court finds the opposition without
affected differently than the others. merit.

The Courts Ruling. The issues for the Courts resolution are: (1) Section 12, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court defines a class suit, as
whether or not the complaint states a cause of action; (2) follows: Sec. 12. Class suit. When the subject matter of the
whether the complaint has been properly filed as a class suit; controversy is one of common or general interest to many
and (2) whether or not a WPI is warranted. persons so numerous that it is impracticable to join all as
parties, a number of them which the court finds to be
Section 2, Rule 2 of the Rules of Court defines a cause of action
sufficiently numerous and representative as to fully protect
as an act or omission by which a party violates the right of
the interests of all concerned may sue or defend for the benefit
another. A complaint states a cause of action when it contains
of all. Any party in interest shall have the right to intervene to
three (3) essential elements of a cause of action, namely:
protect his individual interest.
(1) the legal right of the plaintiff,
The necessary elements for the maintenance of a class suit
(2) the correlative obligation of the defendant, and are: 1) the subject matter of controversy is one of common or
general interest to many persons; 2) the parties affected are
(3) the act or omission of the defendant in violation of said so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all to court;
legal right.[18] and 3) the parties bringing the class suit are sufficiently
numerous or representative of the class and can fully protect
The question of whether the complaint states a cause of
the interests of all concerned.[24]
action is determined by its averments regarding the acts
committed by the defendant.[19] Thus, it must contain a
concise statement of the ultimate or essential facts
constituting the plaintiffs cause of action.[20] To be taken into In this case, the suit is clearly one that benefits all commuters
account are only the material allegations in the complaint; and motorists who use La Paz Road. As succinctly stated by the
extraneous facts and circumstances or other CA:
matters aliunde are not considered.[21]
The subject matter of the instant case, i.e., the closure and
The test of sufficiency of facts alleged in the complaint as excavation of the La Paz Road, is initially shown to be of
constituting a cause of action is whether or not admitting the common or general interest to many persons. The records
facts alleged, the court could render a valid verdict in reveal that numerous individuals have filed manifestations
accordance with the prayer of said complaint.[22] Stated with the lower court, conveying their intention to join private
differently, if the allegations in the complaint furnish sufficient respondents in the suit and claiming that they are similarly
basis by which the complaint can be maintained, the same situated with private respondents for they were also
should not be dismissed regardless of the defense that may be prejudiced by the acts of petitioners in closing and excavating
asserted by the defendant.[23] the La Paz Road. Moreover, the individuals sought to be
represented by private respondents in the suit are so
In the present case, the Court finds the allegations in the numerous that it is impracticable to join them all as parties and
complaint sufficient to establish a cause of action. First, JCHA, be named individually as plaintiffs in the complaint. These
et al.s averments in the complaint show a demandable right individuals claim to be residents of various barangays in Bian,
over La Paz Road. These are: (1) their right to use the road on Laguna and other barangays in San Pedro, Laguna.
the basis of their allegation that they had been using the road
for more than 10 years; and (2) an easement of a right of way Anent the issue on the propriety of the WPI, Section 3, Rule 58
has been constituted over the said roads. There is no other of the Rules of Court lays down the rules for the issuance
road as wide as La Paz Road existing in the vicinity and it is the thereof. Thus:
shortest, convenient and safe route towards SLEX Halang that
88
(a) That the applicant is entitled to the relief demanded, and the justification for the preliminary injunction pending the
whole or part of such relief consists in restraining the commission or decision of the case on the merits.[30] There are vital facts that
continuance of the acts complained of, or in the performance of an have yet to be presented during the trial which may not be
act or acts, either for a limited period or perpetually; obtained or presented during the hearing on the application
for the injunctive writ.[31] Moreover, the quantum of evidence
(b) That the commission, continuance or non-performance of the act
required for one is different from that for the other.[32]
or acts complained of during the litigation would probably work
injustice to the applicant; or WHEREFORE, the petitions are DENIED. Accordingly, the July
31, 2001 Decision and February 21, 2002 Resolution of the
(c) That a party, court, or agency or a person is doing, threatening, or
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 60543 are AFFIRMED.
attempting to do, or is procuring or suffering to be done, some act or
acts probably in violation of the rights of the applicant respecting the
subject of the action or proceeding, and tending to render the
judgment ineffectual.

A writ of preliminary injunction is available to prevent a threatened


or continuous irremediable injury to parties before their claims can
be thoroughly studied and adjudicated.[25] The requisites for its
issuance are: (1) the existence of a clear and unmistakable right that
must be protected; and (2) an urgent and paramount necessity for
the writ to prevent serious damage.[26]For the writ to issue, the right
sought to be protected must be a present right, a legal right which
must be shown to be clear and positive.[27] This means that the
persons applying for the writ must show that they have an
ostensible right to the final relief prayed for in their
complaint.[28]

In the case at bench, JCHA, et al. failed to establish a prima facie proof
of violation of their right to justify the issuance of a WPI. Their right to
the use of La Paz Road is disputable since they have no clear legal right
therein. As correctly ruled by the CA:

Here, contrary to the ruling of respondent Judge, private


respondents failed to prove as yet that they have a clear and
unmistakable right over the La Paz Road which was sought to be
protected by the injunctive writ. They merely anchor their purported
right over the La Paz Road on the bare allegation that they have been
using the same as public road right-of-way for more than ten years. A
mere allegation does not meet the standard of proof that would
warrant the issuance of the injunctive writ. Failure to establish the
existence of a clear right which should be judicially protected through
the writ of injunction is a sufficient ground for denying the injunction.

Consequently, the case should be further heard by the RTC so that


the parties can fully prove their respective positions on the issues.

Due process considerations dictate that the assailed injunctive


writ is not a judgment on the merits but merely an order for
the grant of a provisional and ancillary remedy to preserve the
status quo until the merits of the case can be heard. The
hearing on the application for issuance of a writ of preliminary
injunction is separate and distinct from the trial on the merits
of the main case. [29] The evidence submitted during the
hearing of the incident is not conclusive or complete for only a
"sampling" is needed to give the trial court an idea of the
89
DEL ROSARIO VS. FAR EAST BANK COMPANY In the interim, PDCP assigned a portion of its receivables from
petitioners (the receivables) to its co-respondent Far East Bank
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 65
and Trust Company (FEBTC) under a Deed of Assignment
(sic)[2] having, by Decision[3] of July 10, 2001, dismissed
dated April 10, 1987[5] for a consideration of P5,435,000. The
petitioners complaint in Civil Case No. 00-540 on the ground
Deed of Assignment was later amended by two
of res judicata and splitting of a cause of action, and by Order
Supplements.[6]
of September 24, 2001[4] denied their motion for
reconsideration thereof, petitioners filed the present petition FEBTC, as assignee of the receivables, and petitioners later
for review on certiorari. executed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
dated December 8, 1988 whereby petitioners agreed to, as
From the rather lengthy history of the present controversy, a
they did pay FEBTC[7] the amount of P6.4 million as full
recital of the following material facts culled from the records
settlement of the receivables.
is in order.

On May 21, 1974, petitioner Davao Timber Corporation


(DATICOR) and respondent Private Development Corporation On September 2, 1992, this Court promulgated its Decision in
of the Philippines (PDCP) entered into a loan agreement under G.R. No. 73198[8] affirming in toto the decision of the IAC. It
which PDCP extended to DATICOR a foreign currency loan of determined that after deducting the P3 million earlier paid by
US $265,000 and a peso loan of P2.5 million or a total amount petitioners to PDCP, their remaining balance on the principal
of approximately P4.4 million, computed at the then prevailing loan was only P1.4 million.
rate of exchange of the dollar with the peso.
Petitioners thus filed on April 25, 1994 a Complaint[9] for sum
The loan agreement provided, among other things, that of money against PDCP and FEBTC before the RTC of Makati,
DATICOR shall pay: (1) a service fee of one percent (1%) per mainly to recover the excess payment which they computed to
annum (later increased to six percent [6%] per annum) on the be P5.3 million[10] P4.335 million from PDCP, and P965,000
outstanding balance of the peso loan; (2) 12 percent (12%) per from FEBTC. The case, Civil Case No. 94-1610, was raffled to
annum interest on the peso loan; and (3) penalty charges of Branch 132 of the MakatiRTC.
two percent (2%) per month in case of default.
On May 31, 1995, Branch 132 of the Makati RTC rendered a
The loans were secured by real estate mortgages over six decision[11] in Civil Case No. 94-1610 ordering PDCP to pay
parcels of land one situated in Manila (the Otis property) petitioners the sum of P4.035 million,[12] to bear interest at
which was registered in the name of petitioner Ernesto C. Del 12% per annum from April 25, 1994 until fully paid; to execute
Rosario, and five in Mati, Davao Oriental and chattel a release or cancellation of the mortgages on the five parcels
mortgages over pieces of machinery and equipment. of land in Mati, Davao Oriental and on the pieces of machinery
and equipment and to return the corresponding titles to
Petitioners paid a total of P3 million to PDCP, which the latter
petitioners; and to pay the costs of the suit.
applied to interest, service fees and penalty charges. This left
petitioners, by PDCPs computation, with an outstanding As for the complaint of petitioners against respondent FEBTC,
balance on the principal of more than P10 million as of May 15, the trial court dismissed it for lack of cause of action,
1983. ratiocinating that the MOA between petitioners and FEBTC
was not subject to this Courts Decision in G.R. No. 73198,
By March 31, 1982, petitioners had filed a complaint
FEBTC not being a party thereto.
againstPDCP before the then Court of First Instance (CFI)
of Manila for violation of the Usury Law, annulment of From the trial courts decision, petitioners and respondent
contract and damages. The case, docketed as Civil Case No. 82- PDCP appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA). The appeal was
8088, was dismissed by the CFI. docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 50591.

On appeal, the then Intermediate Appellate Court (IAC) set On May 22, 1998, the CA rendered a decision[13] in CA-G.R. CV
aside the CFIs dismissal of the complaint and declared void and No. 50591, holding that petitioners outstanding obligation,
of no effect the stipulation of interest in the loan agreement which this Court had determined in G.R. No. 73198 to be P1.4
between DATICOR and PDCP. million, could not be increased or decreased by any act of the
creditor PDCP.
PDCP appealed the IACs decision to this Court where it was
docketed as G.R. No. 73198.

90
The CA held that when PDCP assigned its receivables, the the P4.335 million and interests that petitioners were claiming
amount payable to it by DATICOR was the same amount from it. It posited that PDCP should be held liable because it
payable to assignee FEBTC, irrespective of any stipulation received a consideration of P5.435 million when it assigned the
that PDCP and FEBTC might have provided in the Deed of receivables.
Assignment, DATICOR not having been a party thereto, hence,
Answering[21] the Third Party Complaint, PDCP contended that
not bound by its terms.
since petitioners were not seeking the recovery of the amount
Citing Articles 2154[14] and 2163[15] of the Civil Code which of P965,000, the same cannot be recovered via the third party
embody the principle of solutio indebiti, the CA held that the complaint.
party bound to refund the excess payment of P5 million[16] was
PDCP went on to contend that since the final and executory
FEBTC as it received the overpayment; and that FEBTC could
decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 50591 had held that DATICOR has
recover from PDCP the amount of P4.035 million representing
no cause of action against it for the refund of any part of the
its overpayment for the assigned receivables based on the
excess payment, FEBTC can no longer re-litigate the same
terms of the Deed of Assignment or on the general principle of
issue.
equity.
Moreover, PDCP contended that it was not privy to the MOA
Noting, however, that DATICOR claimed in its complaint only
which explicitly excluded the receivables from the effect of the
the amount of P965,000 from FEBTC, the CA held that it could
Supreme Court decision, and that the amount of P6.4 million
not grant a relief different from or in excess of that prayed for.
paid by petitioners to FEBTC was clearly intended as
Finally, the CA held that the claim of PDCP against DATICOR consideration for the release and cancellation of the lien on
for the payment of P1.4 million had no the Otis property.
basis, DATICORs obligation having already been paid in full,
Replying,[22] FEBTC pointed out that PDCP cannot deny that it
overpaid in fact, when it paid assignee FEBTC the amount
benefited from the assignment of its rights over the
of P6.4 million.
receivables from petitioners. It added that the third party
Accordingly, the CA ordered PDCP to execute a release or claim being founded on a valid and justified cause, PDCPs
cancellation of the mortgages it was holding over the Mati real counterclaims lacked factual and legal basis.
properties and the machinery and equipment, and to return
Petitioners thereafter filed a Motion for Summary
the corresponding certificates of title to petitioners. And it
Judgment[23] to which FEBTC filed its opposition.[24]
ordered FEBTC to pay petitioners the amount of P965,000 with
legal interest from the date of the promulgation of its By Order of March 5, 2001, the trial court denied the motion
judgment. FEBTCs motion for reconsideration of the CA for summary judgment for lack of merit.[25]
Decision was denied, and so was its subsequent appeal to this
Court. On July 10, 2001, the trial court issued the assailed Decision
dismissing petitioners complaint on the ground
On April 25, 2000, petitioners filed before the RTC of Makati a of res judicata and splitting of cause of action. It recalled that
Complaint[17] against FEBTC to recover the balance of the petitioners had filed Civil Case No. 94-1610 to recover the
excess payment of P4.335 million.[18] The case was docketed as alleged overpayment both from PDCP and FEBTC and to secure
Civil Case No. 00-540, the precursor of the present case and the cancellation and release of their mortgages on real
raffled to Branch 143 of the RTC. properties, machinery and equipment; that when said case
was appealed, the CA, in its Decision, ordered PDCP to release
In its Answer,[19] FEBTC denied responsibility, it submitting that
and cancel the mortgages and FEBTC to pay P965,000 with
nowhere in the dispositive portion of the CA Decision in CA-
interest, which Decision became final and executory on
G.R. CV No. 50591 was it held liable to return the whole
November 23, 1999; and that a Notice of Satisfaction of
amount of P5.435 million representing the consideration for
Judgment between petitioners and FEBTC was in fact
the assignment to it of the receivables, and since petitioners
submitted on August 8, 2000, hence, the issue between them
failed to claim the said whole amount in their original
was finally settled under the doctrine of res judicata.
complaint in Civil Case No. 94-1610 as they were merely
claiming the amount of P965,000 from it, they were barred The trial court moreover noted that the MOA between
from claiming it. petitioners and FEBTC clearly stated that the pending litigation
before the Supreme Court of the Philippines with respect
FEBTC later filed a Third Party Complaint[20] against PDCP
to the Loan exclusive of the Receivables assigned to FEBTC
praying that the latter be made to pay the P965,000 and the
shall prevail up to the extent not covered by this
interests adjudged by the CA in favor of petitioners, as well as
91
Agreement. That statement in the MOA, the trial court ruled, (c) In any other litigation between the same parties or their
categorically made only the loan subject to this Courts Decision successors in interest, that only is deemed to have been
in G.R. No. 73198, hence, it was with the parties full knowledge adjudged in a former judgment or final order which appears
and consent that petitioners agreed to pay P6.4 million to upon its face to have been so adjudged, or which was actually
FEBTC as consideration for the settlement. The parties cannot and necessarily included therein or necessary
thus be allowed to welsh on their contractual obligations, the thereto. (Underscoring supplied)
trial court concluded.
The above-quoted provision lays down two main
Respecting the third party claim of FEBTC, the trial court held rules. Section 49(b) enunciates the first rule of res
that FEBTCs payment of the amount of P1,224,906.67 judicata known as bar by prior judgment or estoppel by
(P965,000 plus interest) to petitioners was in compliance with judgment, which states that the judgment or decree of a court
the final judgment of the CA, hence, it could not entertain such of competent jurisdiction on the merits concludes the parties
claim because the Complaint filed by petitioners merely sought and their privies to the litigation and constitutes a bar to a new
to recover from FEBTC the alleged overpayment of P4.335 action or suit involving the same cause of action either before
million and attorneys fees of P200,000. the same or any other tribunal.[29]

Petitioners motion for reconsideration[26] of the July 10, Stated otherwise, bar by former judgment makes the
2001 decision of the trial court was denied by Order judgment rendered in the first case an absolute bar to the
of September 24, 2001. Hence, the present petition. subsequent action since that judgment is conclusive not only
as to the matters offered and received to sustain it but also as
In their Memorandum,[27] petitioners proffer that, aside from
to any other matter which might have been offered for that
the issue of whether their complaint is dismissible on the
purpose and which could have been adjudged therein. [30] It is
ground of res judicata and splitting of cause of action, the
in this concept that the term res judicata is more commonly
issues of 1) whether FEBTC can be held liable for the balance
and generally used as a ground for a motion to dismiss in civil
of the overpayment of P4.335 million plus interest
cases.[31]
which petitioners previously claimed against PDCP in Civil Case
The second rule of res judicata embodied in Section 47(c), Rule
No. 94-1610, and 2) whether PDCP can interpose as defense
39 is conclusiveness of judgment. This rule provides that any
the provision in the Deed of Assignment and the MOA that the
right, fact, or matter in issue directly adjudicated or necessarily
assignment of the receivables shall not be affected by this
involved in the determination of an action before a competent
Courts Decision in G.R. No. 73198, be considered.
court in which a judgment or decree is rendered on the merits
Stripped of the verbiage, the only issue for this Courts is conclusively settled by the judgment therein and cannot
consideration is the propriety of the dismissal of Civil Case No. again be litigated between the parties and their privies
00-540 upon the grounds stated by the trial court.This should whether or not the claim or demand, purpose, or subject
be so because a Rule 45 petition, like the one at bar, can raise matter of the two suits is the same.[32] It refers to a situation
only questions of law (and that justifies petitioners elevation where the judgment in the prior action operates as an
of the case from the trial court directly to this Court) which estoppel only as to the matters actually determined or which
must be distinctly set forth.[28] were necessarily included therein.[33]

The petition is bereft of merit. The case at bar satisfies the four essential requisites of bar by
prior judgment, viz:
Section 47 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, on the doctrine
of res judicata, reads: Sec. 47. Effect of judgments or final (a) finality of the former judgment;
orders. The effect of a judgment or final order rendered by a
9b) the court which rendered it had jurisdiction over the
court of the Philippines, having jurisdiction to pronounce the
subject matter and the parties;
judgment or final order, may be as follows:
(c) it must be a judgment on the merits; and
(b) In other cases, the judgment or final order is, with respect
to the matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that (d) there must be, between the first and second actions,
could have been raised in relation thereto, conclusive between identity of parties, subject matter and causes of action.[34]
the parties and their successors in interest by title subsequent
There is no doubt that the judgment on appeal relative to Civil
to the commencement of the action or special proceeding,
Case No. 94-1610 (that rendered in CA-G.R. CV No. 50591) was
litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the
a final judgment. Not only did it dispose of the case on the
same capacity; and

92
merits; it also became executory as a consequence of the Notably, the same facts were also pleaded by the parties in
denial of FEBTCs motion for reconsideration and appeal.[35] support of their allegations for, and defenses against, the
recovery of the P4.335 million. Petitioners, of course, plead
Neither is there room to doubt that the judgment in Civil Case
the CA Decision as basis for their subsequent claim for the
No. 94-1610 was on the merits for it determined the rights and
remainder of their overpayment. It is well established,
liabilities of the parties.[36] To recall, it was ruled that: (1)
however, that a party cannot, by varying the form of action or
DATICOR overpaid by P5.3 million; (2) FEBTC was bound to
adopting a different method of presenting his case, or by
refund the excess payment but because DATICORs claim
pleading justifiable circumstances as herein petitioners are
against FEBTC was only P965,000, the court could only grant so
doing, escape the operation of the principle that one and the
much as the relief prayed for; and (3) PDCP has no further
same cause of action shall not be twice litigated.[40]
claim against DATICOR because its obligation had
already been paid in full. In fact, authorities tend to widen rather than restrict the
doctrine of res judicata on the ground that public as well as
Right or wrong, that judgment bars another case based upon
private interest demands the ending of suits by requiring the
the same cause of action.[37]
parties to sue once and for all in the same case all the special
As to the requisite of identity of parties, subject matter and proceedings and remedies to which they are entitled.[41]
causes of action, it cannot be gainsaid that the first case, Civil
This Court finds well-taken then the pronouncement of the
Case No. 94-1610, was brought by petitioners to recover an
court a quo that to allow the re-litigation of an issue that was
alleged overpayment of P5.3 million P965,000 from FEBTC
finally settled as between petitioners and FEBTC in the prior
and P4.335 million from PDCP.
case is to allow the splitting of a cause of action, a ground for
On the other hand, Civil Case No. 00-540, filed by the same dismissal under Section 4 of Rule 2 of the Rules of Court
petitioners, was for the recovery of P4.335 million which is reading:
admittedly part of the P5.3 million earlier sought to be
SEC. 4. Splitting of a single cause of action; effect of. If two or
recovered in Civil Case No. 94-1610. This time, the action was
more suits are instituted on the basis of the same cause of
brought solely against FEBTC which in turn impleaded PDCP as
action, the filing of one or a judgment upon the merits in any
a third party defendant.
one is available as a ground for the dismissal of the others.
In determining whether causes of action are identical to (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
warrant the application of the rule of res judicata, the test is to
This rule proscribes a party from dividing a single or indivisible
ascertain whether the same evidence which is necessary to
cause of action into several parts or claims and instituting two
sustain the second action would suffice to authorize a recovery
or more actions based on it.[42] Because the plaintiff cannot
in the first even in cases in which the forms or nature of the
divide the grounds for recovery, he is mandated to set forth in
two actions are different.[38] Simply stated, if the same facts or
his first action every ground for relief which he claims to exist
evidence would sustain both, the two actions are considered
and upon which he relies; he cannot be permitted to rely upon
the same within the rule that the judgment in the former is a
them by piecemeal in successive actions to recover for the
bar to the subsequent action.
same wrong or injury.[43]
It bears remembering that a cause of action is the delict or the
Clearly then, the judgment in Civil Case No. 94-1610 operated
wrongful act or omission committed by the defendant in
as a bar to Civil Case No. 00-540, following the above-quoted
violation of the primary rights of the plaintiff.[39]
Section 4, Rule 2 of the Rules of Court.
In the two cases, petitioners imputed to FEBTC the same
A final word. Petitioners are sternly reminded that both the
alleged wrongful act of mistakenly receiving and refusing to
rules on res judicata and splitting of causes of action are based
return an amount in excess of what was due it in violation of
on the salutary public policy against unnecessary multiplicity
their right to a refund. The same facts and evidence presented
of suits interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium.[44] Re-litigation of
in the first case, Civil Case No. 94-1610, were the very same
matters already settled by a courts final judgment merely
facts and evidence that petitioners presented in Civil Case No.
burdens the courts and the taxpayers, creates uneasiness and
00-540.
confusion, and wastes valuable time and energy that could be
Thus, the same Deed of Assignment between PDCP and FEBTC, devoted to worthier cases.[45]
the first and second supplements to the Deed, the MOA
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of
between petitioners and FEBTC, and this Courts Decision in
the RTC, Branch 143, Makati dismissing petitioners complaint
G.R. No. 73198 were submitted in Civil Case No. 00-540.
in Civil Case No. 00-540 is AFFIRMED.
93
PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, the same in LESSORs warehouse or any other place at
INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and WESTIN LESSORs discretion for safekeeping; charging LESSEE the
SEAFOOD MARKET, INC., respondents. BELLOSILLO, J.: corresponding storage fees therefor; that in case LESSEE fails
to claim said equipment, furniture, articles, merchandise,
May the lessee which instituted before the Metropolitan Trial
appliances, etc. from storage and simultaneously liquidate any
Court an action for forcible entry with damages against its
liability with LESSOR within seven (7) days from date of said
lessor file a separate suit with the Regional Trial Court against
transfer to LESSORs warehouse, LESSOR is likewise hereby
the same lessor for moral and exemplary damages plus actual
expressly authorized and empowered by LESSEE to dispose of
and compensatory damages based on the same forcible entry?
said property/properties in a public sale through a Notary
On grounds of litis pendencia and forum-shopping, petitioner Public of LESSORs choice and to apply the proceeds thereof to
invokes established jurisprudence that a party cannot by whatever liability and/or indebtedness LESSEE may have to
varying the form of action or adopting a different method LESSOR plus reasonable expenses for the same, including
of presenting his case evade the principle that the same cause storage fees, and the balance, if any, shall be turned over to
of action shall not be litigated twice between the same LESSEE; that LESSEE hereby expressly agrees that any or all acts
parties or their privies.[1] Petitioner therefore prays for performed by LESSOR, his authorized agents, employees
reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals dated 27 May and/or representatives under the provisions of this Section
1995, as well as its Resolution dated 17 January 1996 denying may not be the subject of any petition for a Writ of Preliminary
reconsideration, which upheld the denial by the Regional Trial Injunction or Mandatory Injunction in court, and that LESSOR
Court of petitioner's motion to dismiss private respondent's and/or his authorized agents, employees, and/or
damage suit. representatives shall be free from any civil and/or criminal
liability or responsibility whatsoever therefor.
The antecedents: On 27 May 1991 petitioner leased to private
respondent Westin Seafood Market, Inc., a parcel of land with TERMINATION OF LEASE
a commercial building thereon located at Araneta Center,
26. Upon the automatic termination of this lease contract, as
Cubao, Quezon City, for a period of nine (9) years and three (3)
the case may be, LESSEE shall immediately vacate and
months, i.e., from 2 January 1989 to 30 April 1998, with a
redeliver physical possession of the leased premises, including
monthly rental of approximately P600,000.00. The contract
the keys appertaining thereto, to LESSOR in good, clean and
contained, among others, the following pertinent terms and
sanitary condition, reasonable wear and tear excepted, devoid
conditions:
of all occupants, equipment, furniture, articles, merchandise,
EFFECT OF VIOLATIONS etc., belonging to LESSEE or to any other person except those
belonging to LESSOR; that should LESSEE fail to comply with
25. LESSEE hereby agrees that all the provisions contained in this provision, LESSOR is hereby given the same rights and
this Contract shall be deemed as conditions, as well as power to proceed against LESSEE as expressly granted in the
covenants, and that this Contract shall be automatically immediately preceding section.
terminated and cancelled without resorting to court action
should LESSEE violate any or all said conditions, including the Private respondent failed to pay rentals despite several
payment of Rent, CUSA and other charges indicated in the FLP demands by petitioner. As of 19 October 1992 the arrearages
when due within the time herein stipulated and in any such amounted to P8,608,284.66. Admittedly, non-payment of
cases, LESSEE hereby irrevocably appoints LESSOR, its rentals constituted breach of their contract; thus, pursuant to
authorized agents, employees and/or representatives as his the express authority granted petitioner under the above-
duly authorized attorney-in-fact, even after the termination, quoted Secs. 25 and 26 of the lease agreement, petitioner on
expiration or cancellationof this Contract, with full power and 31 October 1992 repossessed the leased premises, inventoried
authority to open, enter, repossess, secure, enclose, fence and the movable properties found within and owned by private
otherwise take full and complete physical possession and respondent and scheduled public auction for the sale of the
control of the leased premises and its contents without movables on 19 August 1993 with notice to private
resorting to court action and/or to summarily disconnect respondent.
electrical and/or water services thereof, and that LESSEE
On 26 November 1992 private respondent filed with the
hereby irrevocably empowers LESSOR, his authorized agents,
Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City a complaint against
employees and/or representatives to take inventory and
petitioner for forcible entry with damages and a prayer for a
possession of whatever equipment, furniture, articles,
temporary restraining order and/or writ of
merchandise, appliances, etc., found therein belonging to
preliminary injunction.[2] The case was raffled to Branch 40
LESSEE, consignors and/or to any other persons and to place
presided over by Judge Guillermo L. Loja Jr. who issued a
94
temporary restraining order enjoining petitioner from selling (petitioner herein) have committed forcible entry."[5] On 2
private respondents properties at a public auction. August 1993 petitioner moved for reconsideration of the order
and reiterated its motion to dismiss the suit for damages.
On 9 December 1992 Judge Loja inhibited himself from trying
the case and directed its transfer to Branch 34 presided over Before petitioner's motion to dismiss could be resolved,
by Judge Joselito SD Generoso. Soon after, petitioner filed an private respondent filed with the RTC on 18 August 1993 an
urgent motion for the inhibition of Judge Generoso and the amended complaint for damages. On 14 September 1993 it
immediate reraffle of the case arguing that the summary also filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for the Issuance of a
transfer of the case to Judge Generoso was irregular as it was Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for the Grant of a
not done by raffle. Preliminary Prohibitory and Preliminary Mandatory
Injunction. On the very same day, Judge Santiago issued an
The motion was granted and the case went to Branch 36
order (a) denying petitioner's motion to dismiss, (b) admitting
presided over by Judge Francisco D. Villanueva. Thereafter, on
private respondent's amended complaint, and (c) granting
22 December 1992, at the continuation of the hearing on the
private respondent's application for a temporary restraining
issuance of a writ preliminary mandatory injunction, the
order against petitioner.
parties agreed, among others, on the following: (a) private
respondent would deposit with the Philippine Commercial and Thus, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a special civil
Industrial Bank in the name of theMetropolitan Trial Court, action for certiorari and prohibition on the ground that Judge
Branch 36, the amount of P8,000,000.00 to guarantee the Santiago acted in excess of his jurisdiction and/or committed
payment of its back rentals; (b) petitioner would defer the sale grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction
of the personal properties of the Westin Seafood Market, Inc., in admitting the amended complaint of private respondent
until a final settlement of the case had been arrived at; (c) and issuing a restraining order against petitioner; in allowing
petitioner shall allow private respondent to retrieve all the private respondent to engage in forum shopping; and, taking
perishable goods from inside the leased premises like frozen cognizance of the action for damages despite lack of
meat, vegetables and fish, all properly receipted for; (d) jurisdiction.[6]
petitioner shall allow three (3) maintenance personnel of
But the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition due to the
private respondent to enter the premises at reasonable
failure of petitioner to file a motion for reconsideration of
working hours to maintain the restaurant equipment; and (e)
Judge Santiago's order of 14 September 1993 which, it
the parties shall negotiate for the restoration of the premises
explained, was a prerequisite to the institution of a petition
to private respondent, and if no settlement be arrived at on or
for certiorari and prohibition. It also found that the elements
before January 8, 1993, the hearing on the merits of the case
of litis pendencia were lacking to justify the dismissal of the
shall proceed and the disposition of the amount deposited
action for damages with the RTC because despite the
representing the rental arrearages shall be left to the
pendency of the forcible entry case with the MeTC the only
discretion of the court.
damages recoverable thereat were those caused by the loss of
This agreement was incorporated in the order of the court the use and occupation of the property and not the kind of
dated 22 December 1992[3] which in effect terminated for all damages being claimed before the RTC which had no direct
intents and purposes the incident on the issuance of a relation to loss of material possession. It clarified that since
preliminary writ of injunction. the damages prayed for in the amended complaint with the
RTC were those caused by the alleged high-handed manner
Private respondent did not comply with its undertaking to
with which petitioner reacquired possession of the leased
deposit with the designated bank the amount representing its
premises and the sale of private respondents movables found
back rentals. Instead, with the forcible entry case still pending
therein, the RTC and not the MeTC had jurisdiction over the
with the MeTC, private respondent instituted on 9 June 1993
action of damages.[7]
another action for damages against petitioner with the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. The case was raffled to Petitioner, aggrieved by the decision of the appellate court,
Branch 101 presided over by Judge Pedro T. Santiago.[4] filed the instant petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45
of the Rules of Court alleging that it erred in (a) finding that
Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the damage suit on the
petitioner failed to avail of its plain, speedy and adequate
ground of litis pendencia and forum shopping. On 2 July 1993,
remedy of a prior motion for reconsideration with the
instead of ruling on the motion, Judge Santiago issued an order
RTC; (b) ruling that the trial judge did not act with grave abuse
archiving the case pending the outcome of the forcible entry
of discretion in taking cognizance of the action for damages
case being heard at the MeTC for the reason that "the damages
and injunction despite the pendency of the forcible entry case
is (sic) principally anchored on whether or not the defendants
with the MeTC; and, (c) ruling that private respondent did not
95
commit forum shopping since the causes of action before the sought to be dismissed and the other action the following
RTC and MeTC were not identical with each other. elements: (a) identity of parties or at least such as representing
the same interest in both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted
There is merit in the petition. While generally a motion for
and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same
reconsideration must first be filed before resorting
facts; and, (c) the identity in the two (2) preceding particulars
to certiorari in order to give the lower court an opportunity to
should be such that any judgment which may be rendered on
correct the errors imputed to it[8] this rule admits of exceptions
the other action will, regardless of which party is successful,
and is not intended to be applied without considering the
amount to res adjudicata in the action under consideration.[13]
circumstances of the case.[9] The filing of the motion for
reconsideration before availing of the remedy of certiorariis It is likewise basic under Sec. 3 of Rule 2 of the Revised Rules
not sine qua non when the issue raised is one purely of of Court, as amended, that a party may not institute more than
law,[10] or where the error is patent or the disputed order is one suit for a single cause of action. Under Sec. 4 of the same
void,[11] or the questions raised on certiorari are the same as Rule, if two or more suits are instituted on the basis of the
those already squarely presented to and passed upon by the same cause of action, the filing of one or a judgment upon the
lower court. merits in any one is available as a ground for the dismissal of
the other or others. "Cause of action" is defined by Sec. 2 of
In its motion for dismissal of the action for damages with the
Rule 2 as the act of omission by which a party violates a right
RTC petitioner raised the ground that another action for
of another.[14] These premises obtaining, there is no question
forcible entry was pending at the MeTC between the same
at all that private respondent's cause of action in the forcible
parties involving the same matter and cause of
entry case and in the suit for damages is the alleged illegal
action. Outrightly rejected by the RTC, the same issue was
retaking of possession of the leased premises by the lessor,
elevated by petitioner on certiorari before the Court of
petitioner herein, from which all legal reliefs arise. Simply
Appeals. Clearly, under the prevailing circumstance, any
stated, the restoration of possession and demand for actual
motion for reconsideration of the trial court would have been
damages in the case before the MeTC and the demand
a pointless exercise.[12]
for damages with the RTC both arise from the same cause of
We now turn to the issue of whether an action for damages action, i.e., the forcible entry by petitioner into the leased
filed with the Regional Trial Court by the lessee against the premises.
lessor should be dismissed on the ground of pendency of
A comparative study of the two (2) complaints filed by private
another action for forcible entry and damages earlier filed by
respondent against petitioner before the two (2) trial courts
the same lessee against the same lessor before the
shows that not only are the elements of res
Metropolitan Trial Court.
adjudicata present, at least insofar as the claim for actual and
Section 1 of Rule 70 of the Rules of Court provides that any compensatory damages is concerned, but also that the claim
person deprived of the possession of any land or building by for damages - moral and exemplary in addition to actual and
force, indimidation, threat, strategy or stealth, or against compensatory - constitutes splitting a single cause of
whom the possession of any land or building is unlawfully action.Since this runs counter to the rule against multiplicity of
withheld, may bring an action in the proper Municipal Trial suits, the dismissal of the second action becomes imperative.
Court against the person or persons unlawfully withholding or
The complaint for forcible entry contains the following
depriving of possession, together with damages and costs. The
pertinent allegations -
mandate under this rule is categorical: that all cases for
forcible entry or unlawful detainer shall be filed before the 2.01 On 02 January 1989, plaintiff entered into a contract of
Municipal Trial Court which shall include not only the plea for lease with defendant PDC over a property designated as
restoration of possession but also all claims for damages and Ground Floor, Seafood Market (hereinafter Subject Premises)
costs arising therefrom. Otherwise expressed, no claim for situated at the corner of EDSA corner MacArthur Street,
damages arising out of forcible entry or unlawful detainer may Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, for a period of ten (10)
be filed separately and independently of the claim for years from 02 January 1989 to 30 April 1998.
restoration of possession.
2.02 Immediately after having acquired actual physical
This is consistent with the principle laid down in Sec. 1, par. (e), possession of the Subject Premises, plaintiff established and
of Rule 16 of the Rules of Court which states that the pendency now operates thereon the now famous Seafood Market
of another action between the same parties for the same Restaurant. Since then, plaintiff had been in actual,
cause is a ground for dismissal of an action. Res continuous, and peaceful physical possession of the Subject
adjudicata requires that there must be between the action Premises until 31 October 1992.

96
xxxx plaintiffs will, unceremoniously drew away all of plaintiffs men
out of the subject premises, thereby depriving herein
3.02 Plaintiff, being the lessee of the Subject Premises, is
plaintiff of its actual, physical and natural possession of the
entitled to the peaceful occupation and enjoyment of the
subject premises. The illegal, high-handed manner and
Subject Premises to the exclusion of all others, including
gestapo like take-over by defendants of subject premises is
defendants herein.
more particularly described as follows: x x x
3.03 Defendants resort to strong arms tactics to forcibly wrest
8. To date, defendants continue to illegally possess and hold
possession of the Subject Premises from plaintiff and maintain
the Subject Premises, including all the multi-million
possession thereof through the use of force, threat, strategy
improvements, fixtures and equipment therein owned by
and intimidation by the use of superior number of men and
plaintiff, all to the damage and prejudice of plaintiff. The
arms amounts to the taking of the law into their own hands.
actuations of defendants constitute an unlawful appropriation,
3.04 Thus, defendants act of unlawfully evicting out plaintiff seizure and taking of property against the will and consent of
from the Subject Premises it is leasing from defendant PDC and plaintiff. Worse, defendants are threatening to sell at public
depriving it of possession thereof through the use of force, auction and without the consent of plaintiff and without
threat, strategy and intimidation should be condemned and lawful authority, the multi-million fixtures and equipment of
declared illegal for being contrary to public order and policy. plaintiff and at prices way below the market value
thereof. Plaintiff hereby attaches as Annex B the letter from
3.05 Consequently, defendants should be enjoined from defendants dated August 6, 1993 addressed to plaintiff,
continuing with their illegal acts and be ordered to vacate the informing the latter that the former intends to sell at an
Subject Premises and restore possession thereof, together auction on August 19, 1993 at 2:00 p.m. properties of the
with its contents, to plaintiff. plaintiff presently in defendants possession.
xxxx xxxx
4.07 Considering that defendants act of forcibly grabbing 12. Defendants unlawful takeover of the premises constitutes
possession of the Subject Premises from plaintiff is illegal and a violation of its obligation under Art. 1654 of the New Civil
null and void, defendant should be adjudged liable to plaintiff Code requiring the lessor to maintain the lessee in peaceful
for all the aforedescribed damages which plaintiff incurred as and adequate enjoyment of the lease for the entire duration
a result thereof. of the contract. Hence, plaintiff has filed the present suit for
the recovery of damages under Art. 1659 of the New Civil Code
The amended complaint for damages filed by private
xxxx
respondent alleges basically the same factual circumstances
and issues as bases for the relief prayed for, to wit: Restated in its bare essentials, the forcible entry case has one
cause of action, namely, the alleged unlawful entry by
4. On May 28, 1991, plaintiff and defendant PDC entered into
petitioner into the leased premises out of which three (3)
a Contract of Lease for a period of ten years or from January 2,
reliefs (denominated by private respondent as its causes of
1989 up to April 30, 1998 over a property designated as
action) arose: (a) the restoration by the lessor (petitioner
Ground Floor, Seafood Market (hereinafter referred to as
herein) of the possession of the leased
Subject Premises) situated at the corner of EDSA corner
premises to the lessee; (b) the claim for actual damages due to
McArthur Street, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City. A copy
the losses suffered by private respondent such as the
of the lease contract is attached hereto as Annex A.
deterioration of perishable foodstuffs stored inside the
5. Immediately thereafter, plaintiff took over actual physical premises and the deprivation of the use of the premises
possession of Subject Premises, and established thereon the causing loss of expected profits; and, (c) the claim for
now famous Seafood Market Restaurant. attorney's fees and costs of suit.

xxxx On the other hand, the complaint for damages prays for a
monetary award consisting of (a) moral damages
7. On October 31, 1992 at around 8:30 p.m., defendant PDC, of P500,000.00 and exemplary damages of
without the benefit of any writ of possession or any lawful another P500,000.00; (b) actual damages of P20,000,000.00
court order and with the aid of approximately forty (40) armed and compensatory damages of P1,000,000.00 representing
security guards and policemen under the supervision of unrealized profits; and, (c) P200,000.00 for attorney's fees and
defendant Tejam, forcibly entered the subject premises costs, all based on the alleged forcible takeover of the leased
through force, intimidation, threats and stealth and relying on premises by petitioner. Since actual
brute force and in a thunderboltish manner and against
97
and compensatory damages were already prayed for in the relief are set for the second suit. This principle not only
forcible entry case before the MeTC, it is obvious that this embraces what was actually determined, but also extends to
cannot be relitigated in the damage suit before the RTC every matter which the parties might have litigated in the
by reason of res adjudicata. case.[21] This is why the legal basis upon which private
respondent anchored its second claim for damages, i.e., Art.
The other claims for moral and exemplary damages cannot
1659 in relation to Art. 1654 of the Civil Code,[22] not otherwise
also succeed considering that these sprung from the main
raised and cited by private respondent in the forcible entry
incident being heard before the MeTC. Jurisprudence is
case, cannot be used as justification for the second suit for
unequivocal that when a single delict or wrong is committed -
damages. We note, not without some degree of displeasure,
like the unlawful taking or detention of the property of another
that by filing a second suit for damages, private respondent
- there is but one single cause of action regardless of the
was not only able to press a claim for moral and exemplary
number of rights that may have been violated, and all such
damages which by its failure to allege the same in its suit
rights should be alleged in a single complaint as constituting
before the MeTC foreclosed its right to sue on it, but it was also
one single cause of action.[15] In a forcible entry case, the real
able to obtain from the RTC, by way of another temporary
issue is the physical possession of the real property. The
restraining order, a second reprieve from an impending public
question of damages is merely secondary or incidental, so
auction sale of its movables which it could not anymore secure
much so that the amount thereof does not affect
from the MeTC before which the matter of the issuance of a
the jurisdiction of the court. In other words, the unlawful act
preliminary writ of injunction was already closed.
of a deforciant in taking possession of a piece of land by means
of force and intimidation against the rights of the party actually The foregoing discussions provide sufficient basis to
in possession thereof is a delict or wrong, or a cause of action petitioner's charge that private respondent and its counsel in
that gives rise to two (2) remedies, namely, the recovery of the trial courts committed forum shopping. In Crisostomo v.
possession and recovery of damages arising from the loss of Securities and Exchange Commission[23] we ruled -
possession, but only to one action. For obvious reasons, both
There is forum-shopping whenever, as a result of an adverse
remedies cannot be the subject of two (2) separate and
opinion in one forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion (other
independent actions, one for recovery of possession only, and
than by appeal or certiorari) in another. The principle applies x
the other, for the recovery of damages. That would inevitably
x x with respect to suits filed in the courts x x x in connection
lead to what is termed in law as splitting up a cause of
with litigations commenced in the court x x x in anticipation of
action.[16] In David v. de la Cruz[17] we observed -
an unfavorable x x x ruling and a favorable case where the
Herein tenants have but one cause of action against their court in which the second suit was brought, has no jurisdiction.
landlord, their illegal ejectment or removal from their
This Court likewise elucidated in New Pangasinan Review, Inc.
landholdings, which cause of action however entitles
v. National Labor Relations Commission[24] that there is forum
them to two (2) claims or remedies - for reinstatement and
shopping when the actions involve the same transactions, the
damages. As both claims arise from the same cause of action,
same essential facts and circumstances. The reason behind the
they should be alleged in a single complaint.
proscription of forum shopping is obvious. This unnecessarily
A claim cannot be divided in such a way that a part of the burdens our courts with heavy caseloads, unduly taxes the
amount of damages may be recovered in one case and the rest, manpower and financial resources of the judiciary and trifles
in another.[18] In Bachrach v. Icarangal[19] we explained that with and mocks our judicial processes, thereby adversely
the rule was aimed at preventing repeated litigations between affecting the efficient administration of justice. This
the same parties in regard to the same subject of the condemnable conduct has prompted the Court to issue
controversy and to protect the defendant from unnecessary circulars[25]ordering among others that a violation thereof shall
vexation. Nemo debet bis vexari pro una et eadem causa. be cause for the dismissal of the case or cases without
prejudice to the taking of appropriate action against the
What then is the effect of the dismissal of the other
counsel or party concerned.
action? Since the rule is that all such rights should be alleged
in a single complaint, it goes without The records ineluctably show that the complaint lodged by
saying that those not therein included cannot be the subject of private respondent with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
subsequent complaints for they are barred forever.[20] If a suit City contained no certification of non-forum shopping. When
is brought for a part of a claim, a judgment obtained in that petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the case raising among
action precludes the plaintiff from bringing a second action for others the ground of forum shopping it pointed out the
the residue of the claim, notwithstanding that the second form absence of the required certification. The amended complaint,
of action is not identical with the first or different grounds for as well as the second and third amended complaints,
98
attempted to rectify the error by invariably stating that there
was no other action pending between the parties involving the
same causes of action although there was actually a forcible
entry case pending before the MTC of Quezon City. By its
admission of a pending forcible entry case, it is obvious that
private respondent was indulging in forum shopping. While
private respondent conveniently failed to inform the RTC that
it had likewise sought damages in the MTC on the basis of the
same forcible entry, the fact remains that it precisely did so,
which stratagem was being duplicated in the second case.This
is a compelling reason to dismiss the second case.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The questioned


Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 27 September
1995 and the Order of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City
dated 24 September 1993 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City is directed to dismiss Civil
Case No. Q-93-16409, "Westin Seafood Market, Inc. v.
Progressive Development Corporation, et al.," and the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City to proceed with the
proper disposition of Civil Case No. 6589, "Westin Seafood
Market, Inc. v. Progressive Development Corporation, et al.,"
with dispatch considering the summary nature of the
case. Treble costs against private respondent.

99
LUIS JOSEPH, petitioner vs. HON. CRISPIN V. BAUTISTA, Respondent Sioson filed his answer alleging that he is not and
PATROCINIO PEREZ, ANTONIO SIOSON, JACINTO never was an owner of the pick-up truck and neither would he
PAGARIGAN, ALBERTO CARDENO and LAZARO acquire ownership thereof in the future.
VILLANUEVA, respondents. REGALAD0, J.:
On September 24, 1973, petitioner, with prior leave of court,
Petitioner prays in this appeal by certiorari for the annulment filed his amended complaint impleading respondents Jacinto
and setting aside of the order, dated July 8, 1975, dismissing Pagarigan and a certain Rosario Vargas as additional
petitioner's complaint, as well as the order, dated August 22, alternative defendants. Petitioner apparently could not
1975, denying his motion for reconsideration of said dismissal, ascertain who the real owner of said cargo truck was, whether
both issued by respondent Judge Crispin V. Bautista of the respondents Patrocinio Perez or Rosario Vargas, and who was
former Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Branch III. the real owner of said pick-up truck, whether respondents
Antonio Sioson or Jacinto Pagarigan.
Petitioner herein is the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 50-V-73
entitled "Luis Joseph vs. Patrocinio Perez, Domingo Villa y de Respondent Perez filed her amended answer with crossclaim
Jesus, Rosario Vargas, Antonio Sioson, Lazaro Villanueva and against her co-defendants for indemnity and subrogation in
Jacinto Pagarigan", filed before the Court of First Instance of the event she is ordered to pay petitioner's claim, and therein
Bulacan, Branch III, and presided over by respondent Judge impleaded cross-defendant Alberto Cardeno as additional
Crispin V. Bautista; while private respondents Patrocinio Perez, alternative defendant.
Antonio Sioson, Jacinto Pagarigan and Lazaro Villanueva are
On September 27, 1974, respondents Lazaro Villanueva,
four of the defendants in said case. Defendant Domingo Villa y
Alberto Cardeno, Antonio Sioson and Jacinto Pagarigan, thru
de Jesus did not answer either the original or the amended
their insurer, Insurance Corporation of the Philippines, paid
complaint, while defendant Rosario Vargas could not be served
petitioner's claim for injuries sustained in the amount of P
with summons; and respondent Alberto Cardeno is included
1,300.00. By reason thereof, petitioner executed a release of
herein as he was impleaded by defendant Patrocinio Perez,
claim releasing from liability the following parties, viz:
one of respondents herein, in her cross-claim.
Insurance Corporation of the Philippines, Alberto Cardeno,
The generative facts of this case, as culled from the written Lazaro Villanueva, Antonio Sioson and Jacinto Pagarigan.
submission of the parties, are as follows: Respondent
On December 2, 1974, respondents Lazaro Villanueva, Alberto
Patrocinio Perez is the owner of a cargo truck with Plate No.
Cardeno and their insurer, the Insurance Corporation of the
25-2 YT Phil. '73 for conveying cargoes and passengers for a
Philippines, paid respondent Patrocinio Perez' claim for
consideration from Dagupan City to Manila. On January 12,
damages to her cargo truck in the amount of P 7,420.61.
1973, said cargo truck driven by defendant Domingo Villa was
on its way to Valenzuela, Bulacan from Pangasinan. Petitioner, Consequently, respondents Sioson, Pagarigan, Cardeno and
with a cargo of livestock, boarded the cargo truck at Dagupan Villanueva filed a "Motion to Exonerate and Exclude Defs/
City after paying the sum of P 9.00 as one way fare to Cross defs. Alberto Cardeno, Lazaro Villanueva, Antonio Sioson
Valenzuela, Bulacan. While said cargo truck was negotiating and Jacinto Pagarigan on the Instant Case", alleging that
the National Highway proceeding towards Manila, defendant respondents Cardeno and Villanueva already paid P 7,420.61
Domingo Villa tried to overtake a tricycle likewise proceeding by way of damages to respondent Perez, and alleging further
in the same direction. At about the same time, a pick-up truck that respondents Cardeno, Villanueva, Sioson and Pagarigan
with Plate No. 45-95 B, supposedly owned by respondents paid P 1,300.00 to petitioner by way of amicable settlement.
Antonio Sioson and Jacinto Pagarigan, then driven by
respondent Lazaro Villanueva, tried to overtake the cargo Thereafter, respondent Perez filed her "Opposition to Cross-
truck which was then in the process of overtaking the tricycle, defs.' motion dated Dec. 2, 1974 and Counter Motion" to
thereby forcing the cargo truck to veer towards the shoulder dismiss. The so-called counter motion to dismiss was premised
of the road and to ram a mango tree. As a result, petitioner on the fact that the release of claim executed by petitioner in
sustained a bone fracture in one of his legs. 1 favor of the other respondents inured to the benefit of
respondent Perez, considering that all the respondents are
The following proceedings thereafter took place: 2 solidarity liable to herein petitioner.
Petitioner filed a complaint for damages against respondent On July 8, 1975, respondent judge issued the questioned order
Patrocinio Perez, as owner of the cargo truck, based on a dismissing the case, and a motion for the reconsideration
breach of contract of carriage and against respondents thereof was denied. Hence, this appeal, petitioner contending
Antonio Sioson and Lazaro Villanueva, as owner and driver, that respondent judge erred in declaring that the release of
respectively, of the pick-up truck, based on quasi-delict. claim executed by petitioner in favor of respondents Sioson,
100
Villanueva and Pagarigan inured to the benefit of respondent debtors and their subsequent release from any and all liability
Perez; ergo, it likewise erred in dismissing the case. to petitioner inevitably resulted in the extinguishment and
release from liability of the other solidary debtors, including
We find the present recourse devoid of merit. The argument
herein respondent Patrocinio Perez.
that there are two causes of action embodied in petitioner's
complaint, hence the judgment on the compromise agreement The claim that there was an agreement entered into between
under the cause of action based on quasi-delict is not a bar to the parties during the pre-trial conference that, after such
the cause of action for breach of contract of carriage, is payment made by the other respondents, the case shall
untenable. proceed as against respondent Perez is both incredible and
unsubstantiated. There is nothing in the records to show,
A cause of action is understood to be the delict or wrongful act
either by way of a pre-trial order, minutes or a transcript of the
or omission committed by the defendant in violation of the
notes of the alleged pre-trial hearing, that there was indeed
primary rights of the plaintiff. 3 It is true that a single act or
such as agreement.
omission can be violative of various rights at the same time, as
when the act constitutes juridically a violation of several WHEREFORE, the challenged orders of the respondent judge
separate and distinct legal obligations. However where there are hereby AFFIRMED.
is only one delict or wrong, there is but a single cause of action
REMEDIO V. FLORES, petitioner,.
regardless of the number of rights that may have been violated
HON. JUDGE HEILIA S. MALLARE-PHILLIPPS, IGNACIO
belonging to one person. 4
BINONGCAL & FERNANDO CALION, respondents. FERIA, J.:
The singleness of a cause of action lies in the singleness of the-
The Court rules that the application of the totality rule under
delict or wrong violating the rights of one person.
Section 33(l) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 and Section 11 of the
Nevertheless, if only one injury resulted from several wrongful
Interim Rules is subject to the requirements for the permissive
acts, only one cause of action arises. 5 In the case at bar, there
joinder of parties under Section 6 of Rule 3 which provides as
is no question that the petitioner sustained a single injury on
follows:
his person. That vested in him a single cause of action, albeit
with the correlative rights of action against the different Permissive joinder of parties.-All persons in whom or against
respondents through the appropriate remedies allowed by whom any right to relief in respect to or arising out of the same
law. transaction or series of transactions is alleged to exist, whether
jointly, severally, or in the alternative, may, except as
The trial court was, therefore, correct in holding that there was
otherwise provided in these rules, join as plaintiffs or be joined
only one cause of action involved although the bases of
as defendants in one complaint, where any question of law or
recovery invoked by petitioner against the defendants therein
fact common to all such plaintiffs or to all such defendants may
were not necessarily Identical since the respondents were not
arise in the action; but the court may make such orders as may
identically circumstanced. However, a recovery by the
be just to prevent any plaintiff or defendant from being
petitioner under one remedy necessarily bars recovery under
embarrassed or put to expense in connection with any
the other. This, in essence, is the rationale for the proscription
proceedings in which he may have no interest.
in our law against double recovery for the same act or omission
which, obviously, stems from the fundamental rule against Petitioner has appealed by certiorari from the order of Judge
unjust enrichment. Heilia S. Mallare-Phillipps of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio
City and Benguet Province which dismissed his complaint for
There is no question that the respondents herein are solidarily
lack of jurisdiction. Petitioner did not attach to his petition a
liable to petitioner. On the evidence presented in the court
copy of his complaint in the erroneous belief that the entire
below, the trial court found them to be so liable. It is
original record of the case shall be transmitted to this Court
undisputed that petitioner, in his amended complaint, prayed
pursuant to the second paragraph of Section 39 of BP129. This
that the trial court hold respondents jointly and severally
provision applies only to ordinary appeals from the regional
liable. Furthermore, the allegations in the amended complaint
trial court to the Court of Appeals (Section 20 of the Interim
clearly impleaded respondents as solidary debtors. We cannot
Rules). Appeals to this Court by petition for review on certiorari
accept the vacuous contention of petitioner that said
are governed by Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (Section 25 of
allegations are intended to apply only in the event that
the Interim Rules).
execution be issued in his favor. There is nothing in law or
jurisprudence which would countenance such a procedure. However, the order appealed from states that the first cause
of action alleged in the complaint was against respondent
The respondents having been found to be solidarity liable to
Ignacio Binongcal for refusing to pay the amount of P11,643.00
petitioner, the full payment made by some of the solidary
101
representing cost of truck tires which he purchased on credit causes of action, irrespective of whether the causes of action
from petitioner on various occasions from August to October, arose out of the same or different transactions; but where the
1981; and the second cause of action was against respondent claims or causes of action joined in a single complaint are
Fernando Calion for allegedly refusing to pay the amount of separately owned by or due to different parties, each separate
P10,212.00 representing cost of truck tires which he purchased claim shall furnish the jurisdictional test. ...
on credit from petitioner on several occasions from March,
and argues that with the deletion of the proviso in the former
1981 to January, 1982.
rule, the totality rule was reduced to clarity and brevity and the
On December 15, 1983, counsel for respondent Binongcal filed jurisdictional test is the totality of the claims in all, not in each,
a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction since of the causes of action, irrespective of whether the causes of
the amount of the demand against said respondent was only action arose out of the same or different transactions.
P11,643.00, and under Section 19(8) of BP129 the regional trial
This argument is partly correct. There is no difference between
court shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction if the amount
the former and present rules in cases where a plaintiff sues a
of the demand is more than twenty thousand pesos
defendant on two or more separate causes of action. In such
(P20,000.00). It was further averred in said motion that
cases, the amount of the demand shall be the totality of the
although another person, Fernando Calion, was allegedly
claims in all the causes of action irrespective of whether the
indebted to petitioner in the amount of P10,212.00, his
causes of action arose out of the same or different
obligation was separate and distinct from that of the other
transactions. If the total demand exceeds twenty thousand
respondent. At the hearing of said Motion to Dismiss, counsel
pesos, then the regional trial court has jurisdiction. Needless
for respondent Calion joined in moving for the dismissal of the
to state, if the causes of action are separate and independent,
complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. Counsel for
their joinder in one complaint is permissive and not
petitioner opposed the Motion to Dismiss. As above stated,
mandatory, and any cause of action where the amount of the
the trial court dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.
demand is twenty thousand pesos or less may be the subject
Petitioner maintains that the lower court has jurisdiction over of a separate complaint filed with a metropolitan or municipal
the case following the "novel" totality rule introduced in trial court.
Section 33(l) of BP129 and Section 11 of the Interim Rules.
On the other hand, there is a difference between the former
The pertinent portion of Section 33(l) of BP129 reads as and present rules in cases where two or more plaintiffs having
follows: separate causes of action against a defendant join in a single
complaint. Under the former rule, "where the claims or causes
... Provided,That where there are several claims or causes of
of action joined in a single complaint are separately owned by
action between the same or different parties, embodied in the
or due to different parties, each separate claim shall furnish
same complaint, the amount of the demand shall be the
the jurisdictional test" (Section 88 of the Judiciary Act of 1948
totality of the claims in all the causes of action, irrespective of
as amended, supra). This was based on the ruling in the case
whether the causes of action arose out of the same or different
of Vda. de Rosario vs. Justice of the Peace, 99 Phil. 693. As
transactions. ...
worded, the former rule applied only to cases of permissive
Section 11 of the Interim Rules provides thus: joinder of parties plaintiff. However, it was also applicable to
cases of permissive joinder of parties defendant, as may be
Application of the totality rule.-In actions where the deduced from the ruling in the case of Brillo vs. Buklatan, thus:
jurisdiction of the court is dependent on the amount involved,
the test of jurisdiction shall be the aggregate sum of all the Furthermore, the first cause of action is composed of separate
money demands, exclusive only of interest and costs, claims against several defendants of different amounts each of
irrespective of whether or not the separate claims are owned which is not more than P2,000 and falls under the jurisdiction
by or due to different parties. If any demand is for damages in of the justice of the peace court under section 88 of Republic
a civil action, the amount thereof must be specifically alleged. Act No, 296. The several claims do not seem to arise from the
same transaction or series of transactions and there seem to
Petitioner compares the above-quoted provisions with the be no questions of law or of fact common to all the defendants
pertinent portion of the former rule under Section 88 of the as may warrant their joinder under Rule 3, section 6.
Judiciary Act of 1948 as amended which reads as follows: Therefore, if new complaints are to be filed in the name of the
real party in interest they should be filed in the justice of the
... Where there are several claims or causes of action between
peace court. (87 Phil. 519, 520, reiterated in Gacula vs.
the same parties embodied in the same complaint, the amount
Martinez, 88 Phil. 142, 146)
of the demand shall be the totality of the demand in all the

102
Under the present law, the totality rule is applied also to cases complaint, it appears that there is a misjoinder of parties for
where two or more plaintiffs having separate causes of action the reason that the claims against respondents Binongcal and
against a defendant join in a single complaint, as well as to Calion are separate and distinct and neither of which falls
cases where a plaintiff has separate causes of action against within its jurisdiction.
two or more defendants joined in a single complaint. However,
WHEREFORE, the order appealed from is affirmed, without
the causes of action in favor of the two or more plaintiffs or
pronouncement as to costs.
against the two or more defendants should arise out of the
same transaction or series of transactions and there should be
a common question of law or fact, as provided in Section 6 of
Rule 3.

The difference between the former and present rules in cases


of permissive joinder of parties may be illustrated by the two
cases which were cited in the case of Vda. de Rosario vs. Justice
of the Peace (supra) as exceptions to the totality rule. In the
case of Soriano y Cia vs. Jose (86 Phil. 523), where twenty-nine
dismissed employees joined in a complaint against the
defendant to collect their respective claims, each of which was
within the jurisdiction of the municipal court although the total
exceeded the jurisdictional amount, this Court held that under
the law then the municipal court had jurisdiction. In said case,
although the plaintiffs' demands were separate, distinct and
independent of one another, their joint suit was authorized
under Section 6 of Rule 3 and each separate claim furnished
the jurisdictional test. In the case of International Colleges, Inc.
vs. Argonza (90 Phil. 470), where twenty-five dismissed
teachers jointly sued the defendant for unpaid salaries, this
Court also held that the municipal court had jurisdiction
because the amount of each claim was within, although the
total exceeded, its jurisdiction and it was a case of permissive
joinder of parties plaintiff under Section 6 of Rule 3.

Under the present law, the two cases above cited (assuming
they do not fall under the Labor Code) would be under the
jurisdiction of the regional trial court. Similarly, in the
abovecited cases of Brillo vs. Buklatan and Gacula vs.
Martinez (supra), if the separate claims against the several
defendants arose out of the same transaction or series of
transactions and there is a common question of law or fact,
they would now be under the jurisdiction of the regional trial
court.

In other words, in cases of permissive joinder of parties,


whether as plaintiffs or as defendants, under Section 6 of Rule
3, the total of all the claims shall now furnish the jurisdictional
test. Needless to state also, if instead of joining or being joined
in one complaint separate actions are filed by or against the
parties, the amount demanded in each complaint shall furnish
the jurisdictional test.

In the case at bar, the lower court correctly held that the
jurisdictional test is subject to the rules on joinder of parties
pursuant to Section 5 of Rule 2 and Section 6 of Rule 3 of the
Rules of Court and that, after a careful scrutiny of the
103
RAYO VS METROBANK implemented as evidenced by the Turn-Over
Receipt[9] dated December 3, 2003.
Before us is a petition for review assailing the Resolutions
dated June 15, 2004[1] and August 23, 2004[2] of the Court of Meanwhile, on April 3, 2002, petitioner Eduardo L. Rayo filed a
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 83895 for annulment of judgment. complaint[10] docketed as Civil Case No. Q02-46514 against
Metrobank for Nullification of Real Estate Mortgage
The pertinent facts are undisputed.
Contract(s) and Extrajudicial Foreclosure Sale, in the RTC,
Midas Diversified Export Corp. (Midas), thru its president, Mr. Branch 99, Quezon City.
Samuel U. Lee, obtained six (6) loans from private respondent
On May 13, 2004, petitioner Rayo filed with the Court of
Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank),
Appeals a Petition[11] for Annulment of Judgment on the
amounting to P588,870,000 as evidenced by promissory
ground of absolute lack of due process. Petitioner alleged that
notes. To secure the payment of an P8,000,000 loan, Louisville
his predecessor, Louisville, was not notified of the proceedings
Realty & Development Corporation (Louisville), thru its
and that Section 7[12] (ex parte motion or petition for the
president, Mr. Samuel U. Lee, executed in favor of Metrobank,
issuance of a writ of possession) of Act No. 3135 is
a real estate mortgage over three parcels of land situated
unconstitutional.
at No. 40 Timog Ave., Brgy. Laging Handa, Quezon City, with all
the buildings and improvements thereon. The properties are On June 15, 2004, the Court of Appeals denied the petition for
covered by Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. N-163455, lack of merit. The Court of Appeals ruled that petitioner is
N-166349 and N-166350 issued by the Registry of Deeds of neither the registered owner nor the successor-in-interest of
Quezon City. the registered owner; hence, not a real party-in-interest. It
also ruled that there is no basis to challenge the
When the debtor-mortgagor failed to pay, Metrobank extra-
constitutionality of Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended as it
judicially foreclosed the real estate mortgage in accordance
constitutes a collateral attack against said provision. Further,
with Act No. 3135,[3] as amended. Thereafter, in a public
petitioner availed of the wrong remedy in filing Civil Case No.
auction, Metrobank was the highest bidder. A Certificate of
Q02-46514. Petitioner sought reconsideration, but was
Sale[4] dated December 11, 2000 was duly registered with the
likewise denied.
Registry of Deeds of Quezon City on December 13,
2000. When Louisville refused to turn over the real properties, Petitioner now comes before us raising the following as
on March 17, 2001, Metrobank filed before the Regional Trial primary issue:
Court (RTC), Branch 223, Quezon City,
WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 7 OF ACT NO. 3135 IS CONTRARY
an ex partepetition[5] for the issuance of a writ of possession
TO THE DUE PROCESS PROVISION OF THE PHILIPPINE
docketed as LRC Case No. Q-13915(01). After presentation of
CONSTITUTION CONSIDERING THAT SUCH SECTION 7 OF THE
evidence ex parte, the RTC granted the petition in an
LAW PROVIDES OR ALLOWS, ACCORDING TO THIS
Order[6]dated July 5, 2001, the dispositive portion of which
HONORABLE COURT, FOR AN EX-PARTE PROCEEDING WHICH
reads as follows:
IS A JUDICIAL PROCEEDING BROUGHT FOR THE BENEFIT OF
WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises, the ONE PARTY ONLY, AND WITHOUT NOTICE TO, OR CONSENT
instant petition is hereby GRANTED. Upon the filing of a bond BY ANY PERSON ADVERSELY INTERESTED OR A PROCEEDING
in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS WHEREIN RELIEF IS GRANTED WITHOUT AN
([P]100,000.00), let a Writ of Possession over the properties OPPORTUNITY FOR THE PERSON AGAINST WHOM THE RELIEF
covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. N-163455, N- IS SOUGHT TO BE HEARD, AS HELD IN THE CASE
166349 & N-166350 issue in favor of the petitioner OF GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM VS. COURT OF
METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST COMPANY to be implemented APPEALS, 169 SCRA 244 @ 255, JANUARY 20, 1989.[13]
by the Deputy Sheriff of Branch 223, Regional Trial Court of
He also raises the following as secondary issues:
Quezon City by placing the petitioner in possession over the
parcels of land with all its improvements.SO ORDERED.[7] I.WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONER HAS THE LEGAL
PERSONALITY TO SEEK THE ANNULMENT OF JUDGMENT IN
On September 24, 2001, Metrobank posted the required bond.
[THE] SUBJECT LRC CASE NO. Q-13915(01).
Consequently, a writ of possession was issued on October 9,
2001. This was partially implemented as to TCT No. N-163455, II.WHETHER OR NOT PRIVATE RESPONDENT VIOLATED THE
as evidenced by the Turn-Over Receipt[8] dated December 13, RULE AGAINST FORUM-SHOPPING WHEN IT DID NOT INFORM
2002. The writ over the two remaining properties, under TCT THE HONORABLE BRANCH 223 OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
Nos. N-166349 and N-166350, were subsequently OF QUEZON CITY REGARDING THE FILING OF CIVIL CASE NO. Q-

104
02-46514 FOR NULLIFICATION OF REAL ESTATE MORTGAGE An ex parte petition for the issuance of a writ of possession
CONTRACT AND THE EXTRA-JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE SALE OF under Section 7 of Act No. 3135 is not, strictly speaking, a
THE SAME SUBJECT REAL PROPERTIES AND THE PENDENCY OF judicial process as contemplated in Article 433[19]of the Civil
THE SAME BEFORE THE HONORABLE BRANCH 99 OF THE SAME Code. It is a judicial proceeding for the enforcement of ones
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT.[14] right of possession as purchaser in a foreclosure sale. It is not
an ordinary suit filed in court, by which one party sues another
Stated simply, the issues raised are: (1) Does petitioner have
for the enforcement of a wrong or protection of a right, or the
the legal personality in the annulment of judgment
prevention or redress of a wrong. It is a non-litigious
proceedings? (2) Is Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended,
proceeding authorized in an extrajudicial foreclosure of
unconstitutional? (3) Is respondent guilty of forum-shopping?
mortgage pursuant to Act No. 3135, as amended, and is
Petitioner insists that contrary to the ruling of the Court of brought for the benefit of one party only, and without notice
Appeals, he has the legal personality to institute the to, or consent by any person adversely interested. It is a
annulment of judgment case against Metrobank, considering proceeding where the relief is granted without requiring an
that the March 25, 2002 deed of assignment he entered into opportunity for the person against whom the relief is sought
with Louisville and Winston Linwy L. Chua makes him a co- to be heard. No notice is needed to be served upon persons
assignee over the subject real properties. interested in the subject property.[20]

For its part, Metrobank claims that it was not a party to the Second, in the deed of assignment, petitioner also
deed of assignment among Louisville, Chua and petitioner, acknowledged that the subject real properties were already
hence, it has no privity of contract with petitioner sold at various extrajudicial foreclosure sales and bought by
Rayo. Moreover, Metrobank points out that the real Metrobank. Clearly, petitioner recognized the prior existing
properties had already been extrajudicially foreclosed when right of Metrobank as the mortgagee-purchaser over the
petitioner and his assignors executed the deed of assignment. subject real properties. [21] Actual knowledge of a prior
mortgage with Metrobank is equivalent to notice of
Under Section 2,[15] Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, every action registration[22] in accordance with Article 2125 [23] of the Civil
must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party- Code. Conformably with Articles 1312 [24] and 2126[25] of the
in-interest, or one who stands to be benefited or injured by the Civil Code, a real right or lien in favor of Metrobank had
judgment in the suit.[16] A real party-in-interest is one with a already been established, subsisting over the properties until
present substantial interest which means such interest of a the discharge of the principal obligation, whoever the
party in the subject matter of the action as will entitle him, possessor(s) of the land might be. [26] As petitioner is not a
under the substantive law, to recover if the evidence is party whose interest is adverse to that of Louisville, there
sufficient, or that he has the legal title to demand.[17] was no bar to the issuance of a writ of possession to
Metrobank. It does not matter that petitioner was not
Now, is petitioner Rayo a real party-in-interest? Initially, we
specifically named in the writ of possession nor notified of
recognized herein petitioner as the co-assignee of the subject
such proceedings.
real properties as shown in the March 25, 2002deed of
assignment. However, while petitioner would be injured by Third, we also note that petitioner availed of the wrong
the judgment in this suit, we find that petitioner has no present remedy in filing Civil Case No. Q02-46514, for nullification of
substantial interest to institute the annulment of judgment real estate mortgage and extrajudicial foreclosure sale, more
proceedings and nullify the order granting the writ of than six (6) months after the issuance of the writ of possession
possession. considering the mandate of Section 8[27] of Act No. 3135, as
amended. Hence, even petitioners action for annulment of
First, there was no violation of petitioners right to
judgment cannot prosper as it cannot be a substitute for a lost
constitutional due process. In a long line of cases,[18] we have
remedy.
consistently ruled that the issuance of a writ of possession in
favor of the purchaser in a foreclosure sale of a mortgaged Now, petitioner is challenging the constitutionality of Section
property under Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended is a 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended. He avers that Section 7 violates
ministerial duty of the court. The purchaser of the foreclosed the due process clause because, by the mere filing of
property, upon ex parte application and the posting of the an ex parte motion in the proper cadastral court, the
required bond, has the right to acquire possession of the purchaser in a foreclosure sale is allowed to obtain possession
foreclosed property during the 12-month redemption period of the foreclosed property during the redemption period.
and with more reason, after the expiration of the redemption
period. The Court of Appeals ruled that petitioners attempt to
challenge the constitutionality of Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as
105
amended, constitutes a collateral attack that is not
allowed. We fully agree with the appellate courts ruling. For
reasons of public policy, the constitutionality of a law cannot
be attacked collaterally.[28]

With regard to forum-shopping; forum-shopping is the filing


of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same
cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, for the
purpose of obtaining a favorable judgment. It exists where
the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final
judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in
another.[29] The issuance of the writ of possession being a
ministerial function, and summary in nature, it cannot be said
to be a judgment on the merits. It is only an incident in the
transfer of title. Hence, a separate case for annulment of
mortgage and foreclosure sale cannot be barred by litis
pendentia or res judicata.[30] Clearly, insofar as LRC Case No.
Q-13915(01) and Civil Case No. Q02-46514 are concerned,
Metrobank is not guilty of forum-shopping.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The


assailed Resolutions dated June 15, 2004 and August 23,
2004 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 83895 are
hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED.

106
COMMISSIONER ANDREA D. DOMINGO, BUREAU OF 1. Cancellation of respondents permanent residence visa;
IMMIGRATION, petitioner, vs. HERBERT MARKUS EMIL
2. Respondents summary deportation and permanent
SCHEER, respondent. CALLEJO, SR., J.:
exclusion from the Philippines; and
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
3. Inclusion of his name on the Bureaus Blacklist.
as amended, of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. SP No. 71094 granting the respondents petition PROVIDED, however that said summary deportation should be
for certiorari and prohibition annulling the order of arrest held in abeyance in case said alien has a pending final and
issued by the petitioner, and permanently enjoining her from executory criminal conviction where the imposed penalty is
deporting the respondent from the Philippines. Through its imprisonment, in which case, he has to serve first such
decision, the CA virtually reversed the Summary Deportation imposed penalty, and/or has a pending criminal, civil or
Order[2] of the Board of Commissioners (BOC) and its Omnibus administrative action and a Hold Departure Order has been
Resolution[3] denying the respondents Urgent Motion for issued or that his presence in said action is indispensable. In
Reconsideration of said Order, and enjoining the petitioner such instances, the alien should remain in the custody of the
from deporting the respondent. Bureau until his turnover to the proper authorities in case he
has to serve imprisonment or in case of pendency of civil or
The facts as culled from the records are as follows: Respondent
criminal administrative action, he shall remain in the custody
Herbert Markus Emil Scheer, a native of Ochsenfurt, Germany,
of the Bureau until such time that his pending cases shall have
was a frequent visitor of the Philippines. On July 18, 1986, his
been decided, terminated or settled, as the case may be,
application for permanent resident status was granted.[4] The
unless circumstances demand the immediate implementation
Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) issued in favor of
of this summary deportation. SO ORDERED.[13]
the respondent Alien Certificate of Registration No. B-396907
dated September 16, 1987[5] and Immigration Certificate of In issuing the said order, the BOC relied on the correspondence
Residence No. 256789 dated February 24, 1988.[6] The from the German Vice Consul on its speculation that it was
Commissioner stated that the granting of the petition would unlikely that the German Embassy will issue a new passport to
redound to the benefit of the Filipino people. [7] During his the respondent; on the warrant of arrest issued by the District
sojourn in the Philippines, the respondent married widowed Court of Germany against the respondent for insurance fraud;
Edith delos Reyes[8] with whom he had two daughters. They and on the alleged illegal activities of the respondent in
had a son, Herbert Scheer, Jr., but he passed away on Palawan.[14] The BOC concluded that the respondent was not
November 13, 1995.[9] They resided in Puerto Princesa City, only an undocumented but an undesirable alien as well.
Palawan, where the respondent established and managed the
Bavaria Restaurant. On May 21, 1991, he was appointed When the respondent was apprised of the deportation order,
Confidential Agent by then NBI Director Alfredo S. Lim.[10] he forthwith aired his side to then BID Commissioner Leandro
T. Verceles. The Commissioner allowed the respondent to
In a Letter dated June 29, 1995, Vice Consul Jutta Hippelein remain in the Philippines, giving the latter time to secure a
informed the Philippine Ambassador to Bonn, Germany, that clearance and a new passport from the German
the respondent had police records and financial liabilities in Embassy.[15] Then Presidential Assistant Teodorico K. Imperial
Germany.[11] wrote a Testimonial dated November 24, 1995, in behalf of the
respondent addressed to Commissioner
The Department of Foreign Affairs received from the German
Verceles. Nonetheless, the respondent, through counsel, filed
Embassy in Manila Note Verbale No. 369/95 dated July 26,
on December 5, 1995 an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration of
1995, informing it that the respondent was wanted by the
the Summary Deportation Order of the BOC.[16] In his motion,
German Federal Police; that a warrant of arrest had been
the respondent alleged, inter alia, that:
issued against him; and that the respondent will be served with
an official document requesting him to turn over his German 1. The elementary rules of due process require notice and
passport to the Embassy which was invalidated on July 2, opportunity to be heard before a person can be lawfully
1995.[12] The Embassy requested the Department of Foreign deprived of his right (Ute Paterok vs. Bureau of Customs, 193
Affairs to inform the competent Philippine authorities of the SCRA 132). In the instant case, although it is acknowledged that
matter.The BOC thereafter issued a Summary Deportation the Honorable Office may conduct summary deportation
Order dated September 27, 1997. The penultimate paragraph proceedings, respondent was not given notice and opportunity
of the Order reads: to be heard before said Summary Deportation Order was
issued. Respondents right to procedural due process was
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the Board of
therefore violated. Consequently, the Summary Deportation
Commissioners hereby orders the following:
Order is invalid.
107
2. In issuing, the Summary Deportation Order, this Honorable Employment approved his application for Alien Employment
Office relied on Note Verbal No. 369/95 issued by the Embassy Registration Certificate as manager of the Bavaria Restaurant
of the Federal Republic of Germany, Manila, notifying the in Puerto Princesa City.
Department of Foreign Affairs and this Honorable Office about
In the meantime, petitioner Immigration Commissioner
the warrant of arrest against respondent for alleged illegal
Andrea T. Domingo assumed office. She wrote the German
insurance fraud and illegal activities. However, a close scrutiny
Embassy and inquired if the respondent was wanted by the
of said note verbal shows that nowhere therein does it state
German police. On April 12, 2002, the German Embassy replied
that respondent was involved in insurance fraud or in any kind
that the respondent was not so wanted.[20] At about midnight
of illegal activities in Germany or anywhere else in the world,
on June 6, 2002, Marine operatives and BID agents
such as in Palawan. Therefore, the main basis of the Summary
apprehended the respondent in his residence on orders of the
Deportation Order is incompetent as evidence against
petitioner. He was whisked to the BID Manila Office and there
respondent who is, like every Filipino, presumed to be
held in custody while awaiting his deportation. Despite
innocent until his guilt is proven beyond reasonable doubt.
entreaties from the respondents wife[21] and his employees,
3. The power to deport alien is a police power measure the petitioner refused to release the respondent.[22]
necessary against undesirable alien whose presence in the
Shocked at the sudden turn of events, the respondent
country is injurious to the public good and domestic tranquility
promptly communicated with his lawyer. The latter filed with
of the country (Board of Commissioner Commission on
the BID a motion for bail to secure the respondents temporary
Immigration vs. De la Rosa, 197 SCRA 853). It is respectfully
liberty.On June 11, 2002, the respondents counsel filed with
submitted that respondent is not an undesirable alien. He has
the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari, prohibition
stayed in the Philippines for more or less than (10) years. He
and mandamus with a prayer for temporary restraining order
has married a Filipina and has three (3) minor children. He has
and writ of preliminary injunction, to enjoin the petitioner
established his business in Palawan and he has no police record
from proceeding with the respondents deportation. [23] The
whatsoever. Respondent has considered the Philippines his
respondent (petitioner therein) alleged, inter alia, that his
second home and he has nowhere else to go back to in
arrest and detention were premature, unjust, wrongful, illegal
Germany. Under the circumstances and for humanitarian
and unconstitutional, effected without sufficient cause and
considerations, respondent is not an undesirable alien whose
without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. He
deportation is warranted. Likewise, the mere fact that his
asserted that there was no speedy remedy open to him in the
passport was not renewed by the German Embassy does not
ordinary course of law[24] and that his Urgent Motion for
also automatically justify the deportation of respondent. [17]
Reconsideration of the Summary Deportation Order of the
However, the BOC did not resolve the respondents motion. BOC had not yet been resolved despite the lapse of more than
The respondent was neither arrested nor deported. six years. The respondent averred that he was a fully
documented alien, a permanent resident and a law-abiding
Meanwhile, on February 15, 1996, the District Court of
citizen. He, thus, prayed as follows:
Straubing rendered a Decision dismissing the criminal case
against the respondent for physical injuries.[18] The German PRAYER. WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed of this
Embassy in Manila, thereafter, issued a temporary passport to Honorable Court that:
the respondent.
1. Upon the filing of this Petition, this Honorable Court issue a
In a Letter dated March 1, 1996, the respondent informed Temporary Restraining Order to enjoin respondent
Commissioner Verceles that his passport had been renewed Commissioner from enforcing any order to deport petitioner;
following the dismissal of the said criminal case. He reiterated
2. After due hearing, a writ of preliminary and mandatory
his request for the cancellation of the Summary Deportation
injunction be correspondingly issued to maintain the status
Order dated September 27, 1995 and the restoration of his
quo pending resolution of the Petition on the merits.
permanent resident status.[19] Subsequently, on March 12,
1996, the German Embassy issued to the respondent a regular 3. After hearing, judgment be rendered:
passport, to expire on March 11, 2006.
a) Directing and mandating respondent Commissioner and the
The BOC still failed to resolve the respondents Urgent Motion body she heads to resolve the Motion for Reconsideration filed
for Reconsideration. Commissioner Verceles did not respond in 1995, in his favor, and nullifying or suspending the
to the respondents March 1, 1996 Letter. The respondent implementation of any order, oral or written, she may have
remained in the Philippines and maintained his business in issued or issue to deport petitioner; and
Palawan. On March 20, 1997, the Department of Labor and

108
b) Making the injunction in petitioners favor permanent. During the hearing of the respondents plea for a writ of
preliminary mandatory injunction before the CA on July 22,
Petitioner likewise prays for such other and further relief as
2002, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) manifested that
may be deemed just and equitable in the premises, such as
the State had no opposition to the respondents re-entry and
directing respondent, if Herbert Scheer is deported before the
stay in the Philippines, provided that he leave the country first
matter is heard on notice, to authorize his return.[25]
and re-apply for admission and residency status with the
The BOC ruled that its September 27, 1995 Order had become assurance that he would be re-admitted.[34] The respondents
final and executory after the lapse of one year, citing our counsel manifested to the appellate court that he had just
rulings in Sy vs. Vivo,[26] and Lou vs. Vivo.[27] The BOC also held been informed by the OSG of the Omnibus Resolution of the
that it was not competent to reverse the September 27, 1995 BOC dated June 14, 2002.
Order, citing our ruling in Immigration Commissioner vs.
In her Comment on the Petition, the petitioner (the
Fernandez.[28] It declared that the respondent may seek the
respondent therein) alleged, inter alia, the following:
waiver of his exclusion via deportation proceedings through
the exceptions provided by Commonwealth Act No. 1) that the BOC was an indispensable party to the petition;
613,[29] Section 29 (a)(15), but that his application for the
2) the petitioners failure to implead the BOC warranted the
waiver presupposes his prior removal from the Philippines.
denial of the petition;
In a parallel development, the respondent procured a letter
3) the allowance by then Immigration Commissioner Leandro
from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Puerto
Verceles for the petitioner therein to renew his passport and
Princesa City certifying that he had no pending criminal
secure clearances, even if proved, was not binding on the BOC;
record.[30]The Puerto Princesa City Philippine National Police
(PNP) also issued a certification that the respondent had no 4) the September 27, 1995 Order of the BOC was already
pending criminal or derogatory records in the said office.[31] executory when the respondent filed her petition in the CA;
Meanwhile, on June 26, 2002, the Court of Appeals issued 5) the German Embassys issuance of a new passport did not
a status quo order restraining the petitioner from deporting legalize the respondents stay in this country, which became
the respondent on a bond of P100,000.00.[32] On July 18, 2002, illegal on July 2, 1995 when his passport expired;
the BOC issued an Omnibus Resolution dated June 14,
2002, pendente lite denying the respondents Urgent Motion 6) the respondent therein did not act with abuse of discretion
for Reconsideration, Motion for Bail/Recognizance, and the in causing the arrest and detention of the respondent based
Letter dated June 11, 2002. The decretal portion of the on the BOCs Summary Deportation Order; and
resolution reads:
7) the BOC did not act with grave abuse of discretion in issuing
Wherefore, in view of the foregoing circumstances, we deny its Summary Deportation Order and Omnibus Resolution and
the prayers of the Urgent Motion for Reconsideration of 5 such order and resolution were not mooted by the German
December 1995, the Motion for Bail/Recognizance dated 7 Embassys issuance of a new passport in favor of the
June 2002 and the Letter of 11 June 2002. Further, we hereby respondent.
order the following:
In view of the Omnibus Resolution of the BOC, the respondent
1. Subject to the submission of appropriate clearances, the (petitioner therein) in his Memorandum prayed for the
summary deportation order the respondent Herbert Scheer, nullification of the BOCs Order, as well as its Omnibus
German, under BI Office Memorandum Order No. 34 (series of Resolution denying his Urgent Motion for Reconsideration
1989) and the BOC Summary Deportation Order of 27 considering that with the issuance of a new passport, there
September 1995; was no more basis for his deportation, thus:

2. Permanent exclusion of Herbert Scheer from the Philippines R E L I E F. WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed of this
under C.A. No. 613, Section 40 (a)(15). Honorable Court that:

3. Inclusion of the name of Herbert Scheer in the Immigration 1. Upon the filing of this Memorandum, this Honorable Court
Black List; and forthwith direct and authorize the immediate release of
petitioner, even on undersigneds recognizance, until further
4. Forfeiture of the bail bond, if any, of Herbert Scheer under orders from this Honorable Court;
C.A. No. 613, Section 40 (a)(15).
2. The Summary Deportation Order of September 27, 19[9]5,
... affirmed by respondent allegedly on June 14, 2002 and made
109
known only yesterday, be nullified to the extent that it directs b) In the case of Caruncho III vs. COMELEC (315 SCRA 693), it
the deportation of petitioner, who has removed the very basis was pronounced that: Ordinarily, the nonjoinder of an
of said Order of not having a valid passport, and that the indispensable party or the real party interest is not by itself a
Resolution of June 14, 2002 be nullified in toto; and, ground for the dismissal of the petition. The court before
which the petition is filed must first require the joinder of such
3. The Temporary Restraining Order of June 26, 2002 be
party. It is the noncompliance with said order that would be a
converted into a permanent injunction or writ of prohibition.
ground for the dismissal of the petition.
Petitioner likewise prays for such other and further relief as
thus, c) respondent may be estopped for not raising such issue
may be deemed just and equitable in the premises.[35]
earlier.[38]
Surprisingly, the respondents counsel received on July 24,
Aggrieved, the respondent therein, now the petitioner,
2003 a Letter from the petitioner dated July 16, 2002 stating
through the Office of the Solicitor General, appealed to us for
that, the BOC was in the course of reviewing the deportation
relief. The petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred
case against Mr. Scheer, and that its findings would be given in
on a question of law in granting the respondents petition in CA-
due time.[36]
G.R. SP No. 71094.[39]
On August 20, 2002, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision
In support of his contention, the Solicitor General has
in favor of the respondent granting his petition for certiorari
submitted the following arguments:
and prohibition and permanently enjoining the petitioner from
deporting the respondent. The decretal portion of the Decision I. THE WRIT OF MANDAMUS DOES NOT LIE AGAINST THE
reads: COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION TO
RESOLVE RESPONDENTS URGENT MOTION FOR
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitions for certiorari
RECONSIDERATION OF THE SUMMARY DEPORTATION ORDER,
and prohibition are hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, any order,
CONSIDERING THAT IT IS THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS,
oral or written, issued by respondent Commissioner Domingo
AND NOT THE COMMISSIONER ALONE, WHICH HAS
against petitioner, in relation to his deportation, is hereby
AUTHORITY TO MAKE SAID RESOLUTION.
ANNULLED, and respondent Commissioner Domingo is hereby
permanently enjoined/prohibited from deporting petitioner, II. THE WRIT OF CERTIORARI DOES NOT LIE AGAINST THE
in so far as this case is concerned. COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION,
CONSIDERING THAT IT IS THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS,
It is likewise ordered that petitioner be released from his
AND NOT THE COMMISSIONER ALONE, WHICH ISSUED THE
confinement/detention in the Bureau of Immigration UNLESS
SUMMARY DEPORTATION ORDER AND THE OMNIBUS
there is/are fresh new grounds/cases that will warrant his
RESOLUTION.
continued detention. SO ORDERED.[37]
III. THE WRIT OF PROHIBITION DOES NOT LIE AGAINST THE
The Court of Appeals ruled that the German Embassys
COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION,
subsequent issuance of passport to the respondent before the
PROHIBITING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SUMMARY
BOCs issuance of its Omnibus Resolution had mooted the
DEPORTATION ORDER AND THE OMNIBUS RESOLUTION,
September 27, 1995 Summary Deportation Order, as well as
CONSIDERING THAT THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS WAS
the arrest and detention of the respondent. According to the
NOT IMPLEADED AS PARTY-RESPONDENT IN THE PETITION IN
court, it made no sense to require the respondent to leave the
CA-G.R. SP NO. 71094.
country and thereafter re-apply for admission with the
BOC. Furthermore, since the grounds cited by the BOC in its IV. ASSUMING BUT WITHOUT ADMITTING THAT THE BOARD
Summary Deportation Order no longer existed, there was no OF COMMISSIONERS WAS PROPERLY IMPLEADED AS PARTY-
factual and legal basis to disqualify the respondent from RESPONDENT IN THE PETITION IN CA-G.R. SP NO. 71094,
staying in the country. NEVERTHELESS, THE SUMMARY DEPORTATION ORDER AND
THE OMNIBUS RESOLUTION WERE NOT ISSUED WITHOUT OR
On the issue of whether the members of the BOC were
IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF
indispensable parties, the CA ruled as follows:
DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF (SIC) EXCESS OF
a) There are quite a number of cases in relevant jurisprudence JURISDICTION.
wherein only the Immigration Commissioner was impleaded to
V. FURTHER ASSUMING BUT WITHOUT ADMITTING THAT THE
decide whether an alien may stay or be deported, such as in
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS WAS PROPERLY IMPLEADED AS
the case of Vivo vs. Arca (19 SCRA 878) and Vivo vs. Cloribel (22
PARTY-RESPONDENT IN THE PETITION IN CA-G.R. SP NO.
SCRA 159).
110
71094, THE COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF deportation of the respondent by way of implementing the
IMMIGRATION DID NOT ACT WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF BOCs Summary Deportation Order.
JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
By way of reply, the Office of the Solicitor General asserted
AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN
that the Summary Deportation Order and Omnibus Resolution
IMPLEMENTING THE SUMMARY DEPORTATION ORDER AND
were collegial actions of the BOC and not of the petitioner
THE OMNIBUS RESOLUTION.[40]
alone. Although its Chairperson, the petitioner, is merely a
Elucidating on his first three arguments, the petitioner member thereof, her decisions and actions are still subject to
maintains that the respondents petition for certiorari, the collective will of the majority.[43]
prohibition and mandamus before the Court of Appeals should
The Ruling of the Court. The BOC is an Indispensable Party
have been dismissed because he failed to implead the real
party-in-interest as mandated by Rule 3, Section 7 of the Rules We agree with the petitioners contention that the BOC was an
of Court, as amended; in this case, the BOC. According to the indispensable party to the respondents petition for certiorari,
Solicitor General, this was a fatal procedural error. The prohibition and mandamus in the Court of Appeals. The
inclusion of the BOC as respondent in the case was necessary respondent was arrested and detained on the basis of the
in order that its actions could be directly attacked and for the Summary Deportation Order of the BOC. The petitioner caused
court to acquire jurisdiction over it. The fact that Immigration the arrest of the respondent in obedience to the said
Commissioner Andrea T. Domingo was impleaded as the sole Deportation Order. The respondent, in his Memorandum,
respondent was not enough, as she is only one of the four prayed that the CA annul not only the Summary Deportation
Commissioners.Furthermore, the assailed Orders were issued Order of the BOC but also the latters Omnibus Resolution, and,
by the Board, and not by the Immigration Commissioner alone. thus, order the respondents immediate release. The
respondent also prayed that the CA issue a writ of mandamus
The respondent counters that the petitioner is already
for the immediate resolution of his Urgent Motion for
estopped from raising this issue. He argues that -
Reconsideration. The said motion had to be resolved by the
In quite a number of jurisprudence, only the Immigration BOC as the order sought to be resolved and reconsidered was
Commissioner is impleaded to decide whether an alien may issued by it and not by the petitioner alone. The powers and
stay here or not. The bottom line is petitioner, head of the duties of the BOC may not be exercised by the individual
Bureau of Immigration, was more than fully heard on its members of the Commission.[44]
institutional position, a Bureau which speaks with a single
Section 7, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, as amended, requires
voice in this case. She is in estoppel for not raising the issue
indispensable parties to be joined as plaintiffs or defendants.
earlier, either in a timely Comment or during the oral
The joinder of indispensable parties is mandatory. Without the
argument[41]
presence of indispensable parties to the suit, the judgment of
In Caruncho III v. Comelec, it was held that- the court cannot attain real finality.[45] Strangers to a case are
not bound by the judgment rendered by the court. [46] The
[O]rdinarily, the nonjoinder of an indispensable party or real
absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent
party in interest is not by itself a ground for the dismissal of the
actions of the court null and void. Lack of authority to act not
petition. The court before which the petition is filed must first
only of the absent party but also as to those present. [47] The
require the joinder of such party. It is the noncompliance with
responsibility of impleading all the indispensable parties rests
said order that would be a ground for the dismissal of the
on the petitioner/plaintiff.[48]
petition.
However, the non-joinder of indispensable parties is not a
But even as the Court of Appeals did not require respondent of
ground for the dismissal of an action. Parties may be added by
such joinder of parties, the respondent, in fact, begged leave,
order of the court on motion of the party or on its own
ad cautelam, in its Reply Memorandum dated July 31, 2002 to
initiative at any stage of the action and/or such times as are
implead the Board which speaks with a single voice anyway in
just.[49] If the petitioner/plaintiff refuses to implead an
this case, and therefore, no claim can be made that a valid
indispensable party despite the order of the court, the latter
point of view has not been heard[42]
may dismiss the complaint/petition for the
Moreover, according to the respondent, the petitioner is petitioner/plaintiffs failure to comply therefor.[50] The remedy
clearly the BIDs chosen instrumentality for the relevant is to implead the non-party claimed to be indispensable.[51] In
purpose. What the respondent ultimately questioned are the this case, the CA did not require the respondent (petitioner
acts or orders of the petitioner for the arrest and immediate therein) to implead the BOC as respondent, but merely relied
on the rulings of the Court in Vivo v. Arca,[52] and Vivo v.

111
Cloribel.[53] The CAs reliance on the said rulings is, however, The settled rule is that the authority to exclude or expel aliens
misplaced. The acts subject of the petition in the two cases by a power affecting international relation is vested in the
were those of the Immigration Commissioner and not those of political department of the government, and is to be regulated
the BOC; hence, the BOC was not a necessary nor even an by treaty or by an act of Congress, and to be executed by the
indispensable party in the aforecited cases. executive authority according to the regulations so
established, except in so far as the judicial department has
The Non-joinder of an Indispensable Party is not a Ground for
been authorized by treaty or by statute, or is required by the
the Dismissal of the Petition
Constitution to intervene.[59] The judicial department cannot
The Court may be curing the defect in this case by adding the properly express an opinion upon the wisdom or the justice of
BOC as party-petitioner. The petition should not be dismissed the measures executed by Congress in the exercise of the
because the second action would only be a repetition of the power conferred on it,[60] by statute or as required by the
first.[54] In Salvador, et al., v. Court of Appeals, et al.,[55] we held Constitution. Congress may, by statute, allow the decision or
that this Court has full powers, apart from that power and order of the Immigration Commissioner or the BOC to be
authority which is inherent, to amend the processes, reviewed by the President of the Philippines or by the courts,
pleadings, proceedings and decisions by substituting as party- on the grounds and in the manner prescribed by law.
plaintiff the real party-in-interest. The Court has the power to
Article VIII, Section 1 of the Constitution has vested judicial
avoid delay in the disposition of this case, to order its
power in the Supreme Court and the lower courts such as the
amendment as to implead the BOC as party-respondent.
Court of Appeals, as established by law. Although the courts
Indeed, it may no longer be necessary to do so taking into
are without power to directly decide matters over which full
account the unique backdrop in this case, involving as it does
discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or
an issue of public interest.[56] After all, the Office of the
executive branch of the government and are not empowered
Solicitor General has represented the petitioner in the instant
to execute absolutely their own judgment from that of
proceedings, as well as in the appellate court, and maintained
Congress or of the President, [61] the Court may look into and
the validity of the deportation order and of the BOCs Omnibus
resolve questions of whether or not such judgment has been
Resolution. It cannot, thus, be claimed by the State that the
made with grave abuse of discretion, when the act of the
BOC was not afforded its day in court, simply because only the
legislative or executive department violates the law or the
petitioner, the Chairperson of the BOC,[57] was the respondent
Constitution. In Harvy Bridges v. I.F. Wixon,[62] the United
in the CA, and the petitioner in the instant recourse. In Alonso
States Federal Supreme Court reversed an Order of
v. Villamor,[58] we had the occasion to state:
Deportation made by the Attorney General for insufficiency of
There is nothing sacred about processes or pleadings, their evidence and for improper admission of evidence. In Nging v.
forms or contents. Their sole purpose is to facilitate the Nagh,[63] the United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit Court)
application of justice to the rival claims of contending parties. held that conclusions of administrative offices on the issues of
They were created, not to hinder and delay, but to facilitate facts are invulnerable in courts unless when they are not
and promote, the administration of justice. They do not rendered by fair-minded men; hence, are arbitrary. In Toon v.
constitute the thing itself, which courts are always striving to Stump,[64] the Court ruled that courts may supervise the
secure to litigants. They are designed as the means best actions of the administrative offices authorized to deport
adapted to obtain that thing. In other words, they are a means aliens and reverse their rulings when there is no evidence to
to an end. When they lose the character of the one and sustain them. When acts or omissions of a quasi-judicial
become the other, the administration of justice is at fault and agency are involved, a petition for certiorari or prohibition may
courts are correspondingly remiss in the performance of their be filed in the Court of Appeals as provided by law or by the
obvious duty. Rules of Court, as amended.[65]

The CA had Jurisdiction Over the Petition for Certiorari, In this case, the respondent alleges that the petitioner acted
Prohibition and Mandamus arbitrarily, contrary to law and with grave abuse of discretion
in causing his arrest and detention at a time when his Urgent
We do not agree with the petitioners contention that the issue Motion for Reconsideration of the BOCs Summary Deportation
before the CA, as to the power of the President to determine Order had yet to be resolved. There was no factual or legal
whether an alien may remain or be deported from the basis for his deportation considering that he was a
Philippines, is beyond the appellate courts competence to documented alien and a law-abiding citizen; the respondent,
delve into and resolve. The contention of the petitioner is thus, prayed for a writ of mandamus to compel the petitioner,
based on a wrong premise. the Chairperson of the BOC, to resolve the said motion. The
petition before the CA did not involve the act or power of the
112
President of the Philippines to deport or exclude an alien from the June 29, 1995 Letter of the German Vice Consul and of the
the country. This being so, the petition necessarily did not call German Embassys Note Verbale No. 369/95 dated July 26,
for a substitution of the Presidents discretion on the matter of 1995. It issued the Summary Deportation Order on September
the deportation of the respondent with that of the judgment 27, 1995 allegedly under paragraph 3 of Office Memorandum
of the CA. Order No. 34 dated August 21, 1989 which reads:

Irrefragably, the CA had jurisdiction over the petition of the 3. If a foreign embassy cancels the passport of the alien or does
respondent. not reissue a valid passport to him, the alien loses the privilege
to remain in the country, under the Immigration Act, Sections
The BOC Committed a GraveAbuse of Discretion AmountingTo
10 and 15 (Schonemann vs. Santiago, et al., G.R. No. 81461, 30
Lack or Excess of JurisdictionIn Issuing its Summary
May 1989). The automatic loss of the privilege obviates
DeportationOrder and Omnibus Resolution; ThePetitioner
deportation proceedings. In such instance, the Board of
Committed a Grave AbuseOf Her Discretion Amounting toLack
Commissioners may issue summary judgment of deportation
or Excess of Jurisdiction inCausing the Arrest and DetentionOf
which shall be immediately executory.
The Private Respondent
However, as gleaned from the Summary Deportation Order,
On the Solicitor Generals fourth and fifth arguments, we are
the respondent was ordered deported not only because his
convinced that the BOC committed a grave abuse of discretion
passport had already expired; the BOC speculated that the
amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in issuing its
respondent committed insurance fraud and illegal activities in
Summary Deportation Order and Omnibus Resolution, and
the Philippines and would not, thus, be issued a new
that the petitioner committed grave abuse of discretion
passport. This, in turn, caused the BOC to conclude that the
amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in causing the arrest
respondent was an undesirable alien. Section 37(c) of
and detention of the private respondent.
Commonwealth Act No. 613, as amended, provides that:
The settled rule is that the entry or stay of aliens in the
No alien shall be deported without being informed of the
Philippines is merely a privilege and a matter of grace; such
specific grounds for deportation or without being given a
privilege is not absolute nor permanent and may be revoked.
hearing under rules of procedure to be prescribed by the
However, aliens may be expelled or deported from the
Commissioner of Immigration.
Philippines only on grounds and in the manner provided for by
the Constitution, the Immigration Act of 1940, as amended, Under paragraphs 4 and 5 of Office Memorandum Order No.
and administrative issuances pursuant thereto. In Mejoff v. 34, an alien cannot be deported unless he is given a chance to
Director of Prisons,[66] we held, thus: be heard in a full deportation hearing, with the right to adduce
evidence in his behalf, thus:
Moreover, by its Constitution (Art. II, Sec. 3) the Philippines
adopts the generally accepted principles of international law a 4. All other cases shall be tried in full deportation hearing, with
part of the law of Nation. And in a resolution entitled Universal due observance of the pertinent provisions of Law Instruction
Declaration of Human Rights and approved by the General No. 39.
Assembly of the United Nations of which the Philippines is a
5. In all cases, the right of the alien to be informed of the
member, at its plenary meeting on December 10, 1948, the
charges against him, to be notified of the time and place of
right to life and liberty and all other fundamental rights as
hearing, when necessary, to examine the evidence against
applied to all human beings were proclaimed. It was there
him, and to present evidence in his own behalf, where
resolved that All human beings are born free and equal in
appropriate, shall be observed.
degree and rights (Art. 1); that Everyone is entitled to all the
rights and freedom set forth in this Declaration, without The respondent was not afforded any hearing at all. The BOC
distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, simply concluded that the respondent committed insurance
religion, political or other opinion, nationality or social origin, fraud and illegal activities in Palawan without any evidence.
property, birth, or other status (Art. 2); that Every one has the The respondent was not afforded a chance to refute the
right to an effective remedy by the competent national charges. He cannot, thus, be arrested and deported without
tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him due process of law as required by the Bill of Rights of the
by the Constitution or by law (Art. 8); that No one shall be Constitution.In Lao Gi v. Court of Appeals,[67] we held that:
subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile (Art. 9); etc.
Although a deportation proceeding does not partake of the
In this case, the BOC ordered the private respondents nature of a criminal action, however, considering that it is a
deportation on September 27, 1995 without even conducting harsh and extraordinary administrative proceeding affecting
summary deportation proceedings. The BOC merely relied on
113
the freedom and liberty of a person, the constitutional right of the duty of the courts to be watchful for the constitutional
such person to due process should not be denied. Thus, the rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments
provisions of the Rules of Court of the Philippines particularly thereon. Their motto should be obsta principiis.
on criminal procedure are applicable to deportation
In sum, the arrest and detention of the respondent and his
proceedings.
deportation under the Summary Deportation Order of the BOC
It must be noted that the respondent was a permanent for insurance fraud and illegal activities in Palawan violated his
resident before his passport expired on July 2, 1995. In Chew constitutional and statutory rights to due process.
v. Colding,[68] the United States Federal Supreme Court ruled:
The Respondents Arrest and Detention was Premature,
It is well established that if an alien is a lawful permanent Unwarranted and Arbitrary
resident of the United States and remains physically present
We agree that the Immigration Commissioner is mandated to
there, he is a person within the protection of the Fifth
implement a legal and valid Summary Deportation Order
Amendment. He may not be deprived of his life, liberty or
within a reasonable time. But in this case, the arrest of the
property without due process of law. Although it later may be
respondent in his house, at near midnight, and his subsequent
established, as respondents contend, that petitioner can be
detention was premature, unwarranted and arbitrary. Like a
expelled and deported, yet before his expulsion, he is entitled
thunderbolt in the sky, the BID agents and marines arrested
to notice of the nature of the charge and a hearing at least
the respondent on June 6, 2002, on orders of the petitioner
before an executive or administrative tribunal. Although
based on the September 27, 1995 Summary Deportation
Congress may prescribe conditions for his expulsion and
Order. Under the basic rudiments of fair play and due process,
deportation, not even Congress may expel him without
the petitioner was required to first resolve the respondents
allowing him a fair opportunity to be heard.
Urgent Motion for Reconsideration of the said Order, which
As Mr. Justice Murphy said in his concurring opinion in Bridges was filed more than six years before or on December 5, 1995.
v. Wixon:[69] The Bill of Rights belongs to them as well as to all
It may be argued that respondents filing of an Urgent Motion
citizens. It protects them as long as they reside within the
for Reconsideration did not ipso facto suspend the efficacy of
boundaries of our land. It protects them in the exercise of the
the BOCs deportation order. However, such an argument
great individual rights necessary to a sound political and
cannot be sustained in this case because of the extant and
economic democracy.
peculiar factual milieu. It bears stressing that more than six
According to Vattal,[70] an alien who is a permanent resident in years had elapsed, from the time the Summary Deportation
a country is a member of the new society, at least as a Order was issued, until the respondent was finally arrested.
permanent inhabitant, and is a kind of citizen of inferior order Supervening facts and circumstances rendered the
from the native citizens; but is, nevertheless, limited and respondents arrest and detention unjust, unreasonable,
subject to the society, without participating in all its barren of factual and legal basis. The BOC should have set the
advantages. Sir Robert Philconse called them de facto, though respondents motion for hearing to afford him a chance to be
not de jure citizens of the country of their domicile.[71] heard and adduce evidence in support thereon. It was bad
enough that the BOC issued its Summary Deportation Order
Such permanent resident[72] may be classified as a denizen, a
without a hearing; the BOC dealt the respondent a more
kind of middle state between alien and a natural-born subject
severe blow when it refused to resolve his motion for
and partakes of both. Paraphrasing Justice Brewer in his
reconsideration before causing his arrest on June 6, 2002.
dissenting opinion in Fong Yue Ting v. United States,[73] when
the right to liberty and residence is involved, some other As aforestated, the BOC ordered the deportation of the
protection than the mere discretion of the petitioner or the respondent after a summary proceeding without prior notice
BOC is required. We recall the warning of the United States on the following grounds: (a) the respondents German
Supreme Court in Boyd v. United States:[74] passport had expired; (b) there was a pending criminal case for
physical injuries against him in Germany; (c) the respondent
Illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first
indulged in illegal activities in Palawan; (d) that in all likelihood,
footing in that way, namely, by silent approaches and slight
the respondents passport will not be renewed by the German
deviations from legal modes of procedure. This can only be
Embassy as he was wanted for insurance fraud in Germany;
obviated by adhering to the rule that constitutional provisions
and, (e) he was an undesirable alien. But then, in response to
for the security of person and property should be liberally
the written query of no less than the petitioner herself, the
construed. A close and literal construction deprives them of
German Embassy declared that the respondent was not
half their efficacy, and leads to a gradual depreciation of the
wanted by the German police for any crime, including
right, as if it consisted more in sound than in substance. It is
114
insurance fraud. This could only mean that the warrant of The foregoing gave reason for the CA to suspect that the
arrest issued by the German Federal police mentioned in Omnibus Resolution of the BOC was antedated.[76] The petition
Note Verbale No. 369/95 had been lifted, and that the of the respondent in the CA must have jolted the petitioner
respondent was not involved in any illegal activities in and the BOC from its stupor because it came out with its
Germany. The criminal case against the respondent for Omnibus Resolution on July 18, 2002, which was, however,
physical injuries, which does not involve moral turpitude, was dated as early as June 14, 2002. The respondent had to wait in
dismissed by the German District Court.Furthermore, there anxiety for the BOC to quench his quest for justice. The BOCs
was no evidence of insurance fraud against the respondent. wanton acts amounted to an abdication of its duty to act
and/or resolve cases/incidents with reasonable dispatch. To
The BOC issued its Summary Deportation Order without
recall our ruling in Board of Commissioners v. De la
affording the respondent the right to be heard on his motion
Rosa,[77] citing Sheor v. Bengson,[78] thus:
and adduce evidence thereon. It merely concluded that the
respondent was involved in illegal activities in Palawan. What This inaction or oversight on the part of the immigration
made matters worse was that the BOC indulged in sheer officials has created an anomalous situation which, for reasons
speculation, that the German Embassy is unlikely to issue a of equity, should be resolved in favor of the minor herein
new passport to the respondent. The deportation of aliens involved.
should not be based on mere speculation or a mere product of
The petitioner and the BOC should have taken to heart the
procrastinations as in this case. As it turned out, the German
following pronouncement in Commissioner of Immigration v.
Embassy re-issued the respondents passport; he was issued a
Fernandez:[79]
temporary passport, and, thereafter, a regular passport, yet to
expire on March 12, 2006. The petitioner cannot feign In the face of the disclosure that Teban Caoili had been all
ignorance of this matter because the respondent himself, six along working in the Avenue Electrical Supply Co. (Avesco),
years before he was arrested, informed then Immigration located at No. 653 Rizal Avenue, Manila, until his arrest, and
Commissioner Verceles in a Letter dated March 1, 1996. The the documentary evidence showing that he had been issued a
respondents letter forms part of the records of the BOC. There Philippine Passport; had regularly paid his Residence Tax
is no evidence on record that the respondent committed any Certificates (A & B), and filed Income Tax Returns, a finding of
illegal activities in Palawan. He was even designated as special fact is necessary whether the Commissioner really had
agent of the NBI, and was, in fact, issued clearances by the PNP intended to notify Teban Caoili of the exclusion proceedings
and the NBI no less. Despite all the foregoing, the petitioner the Board had conducted in his absence. While it may be true
ordered and caused the arrest and detention of the that the proceedings is purely administrative in nature, such a
respondent. circumstance did not excuse the serving of notice. There are
cardinal primary rights which must be respected even in
What is most nettlesome is the apparent antedating of the
proceedings of administrative character, the first of which is
BOC Omnibus Resolution. The records show that the petitioner
the right of the party interested or affected to present his own
sought to assuage the respondents concern on the belated
case and submit evidence in support thereof.[80]
resolution of his pending urgent motion for reconsideration in
a Letter to the latters counsel dated July 18, 2002 in which the ...
petitioner assured the respondent that the BOC will provide
him of its action on the said motion: Since the proceedings affected Caoilis status and liberty, notice
should have been given. And in the light of the actuations of
Dear Atty. Sagisag, the new Board of Commissioners, there is a necessity of
determining whether the findings of the Board of Special
We respond to your letter of 17 June 2002 by informing you
Inquiry and the old Board of Commissioners are correct or not.
that the case of Mr. Herbert Scheer is being evaluated by the
This calls for an examination of the evidence, and, the law on
Board of Commissioners (BOC). The BOC will provide you of the
the matter.[81]
results of its collegial action in due time.
Apparently, the BOC did not bother to review its own records
Very truly yours, (Sgd.) ANDREA D. DOMINGO
in resolving the respondents Urgent Motion for
Commissioner[75]
Reconsideration. It anchored its Omnibus Resolution only on
However, the Omnibus Resolution of the BOC was dated June the following: the membership of the BOC had changed when
14, 2002, although on its face it was filed with the Records it issued its September 27, 1995 Summary Deportation Order
Division of the BID only on July 18, 2002. and under Commonwealth Act No. 613, Section 27(b); the BOC
is precluded from reversing a previous order issued by
it;[82]and, the September 27, 1995 Order of the BOC had
115
become final and could no longer be reviewed and reversed by Deportation Order and the BOC which resolved the
it after the lapse of one year.[83] However, the rulings cited by respondents Urgent Motion for Reconsideration are one and
the petitioner are not applicable in the instant case, as the said the same government entity, with the same powers and duties
cases cited involve appeals to the BOC from the decisions of regardless of its membership. Similarly, an RTC judge who
the Board of Special Inquiry (BSI). In Sy v. Vivo[84] and Lou v. replaces another judge who presided over a case may review
Vivo,[85] we ruled that under Section 27(b) of Commonwealth the judgment or order of his predecessor as long as the said
Act No. 613, as amended, the Decision of the BOC on appeal judgment or order has not as yet become final or
from the decision of the BSI becomes final and executory after executory. The act subject of review is not the act of the judge
one year: but the act of the court.

(b) A board of special inquiry shall have authority (1) to The petitioners contention that it failed to resolve the
determine whether an alien seeking to enter or land in the respondents motion for reconsideration because of the
Philippines shall be allowed to enter or land or shall be change of administration in the BOC was branded by the CA as
excluded, and (2) to make its findings and recommendations in flimsy, if not bordering on the absurd:
all the cases provided for in section twenty-nine of this Act
Firstly, it was issued three days (June 14, 2002) after petitioner
wherein the Commissioner of Immigration may admit an alien
filed this instant petition on June 11, 2002 or almost seven
who is otherwise inadmissible. For this purpose, the board or
years from the time the motion for reconsideration was filed;
any member thereof, may administer oaths and take evidence
and in case of necessity may issue subpoena and/or Secondly, respondents counsels excuse that it took such time
subpoena duces tecum. The hearing of all cases brought to resolve it because it was only later that the motion for
before a board of special inquiry shall be conducted under reconsideration was discovered because of change of
rules of procedure to be prescribed by the Commissioner of administration, is flimsy, if not bordering on the absurd;[90]
Immigration. The decision of any two members of the board
shall prevail and shall be final unless reversed on appeal by the The Issuance of a New and Regular Passport to the
Board of Commissioners as hereafter stated, or in the absence RespondentRendered the Summary Deportation Order Moot
of an appeal, unless reversed by the Board of Commissioners andAcademic, and the OmnibusResolution of the BOC
after a review by it, motu propio, of the entire proceedings Lackingin Legal Basis
within one year from the promulgation of the decision.
We agree with the petitioner that a foreign embassys
[86]
In Commissioner of Immigration v. Fernandez, we held that cancellation of the passport it had issued to its citizens, or its
the BOC composed of new members is precluded from refusal to issue a new one in lieu of a passport that has expired,
reversing, motu proprio, the decision of the BOC on appeal will result in the loss of the aliens privilege to stay in this
from a BSI decision. But not to be ignored was our ruling that country and his subsequent deportation therefrom. But even
at any rate, the issue of authority should be made in the BOC asserted in its Summary Deportation Order that an
accordance with the procedure established by law, with a view embassys issuance of a new passport to any of its citizens may
to protecting the rights of individuals.[87] bar the latters deportation, citing the resolution of this Court
in Schonemann v. Commissioner Santiago.[91]
In this case, the Summary Deportation Order was issued by the
BOC in the exercise of its authority under Office Memorandum Irrefragably, Commissioner Verceles was mandated to cause
Order No. 34, and not in the exercise of its appellate the arrest of the respondent preparatory to his deportation
jurisdiction of BSI decisions. There is no law nor rule which from the Philippines. However, there was no fixed period in
provides that a Summary Deportation Order issued by the BOC the Order within which to comply with the same. The
in the exercise of its authority becomes final after one year Commissioner is not mandated to deport an alien immediately
from its issuance,[88] or that the aggrieved party is barred from upon receipt of the BOCs deportation order. It is enough that
filing a motion for a reconsideration of any order or decision of the Commissioner complies with the Order within a reasonable
the BOC. The Rules of Court may be applied in a suppletory time, which, in Mejoff v. Director of Prisons,[92] we held to
manner to deportation proceedings[89] and under Rule 37, a connote as follows:
motion for reconsideration of a decision or final order may be
The meaning of reasonable time depends upon the
filed by the aggrieved party.
circumstances, specially the difficulties of obtaining a passport,
Neither is there any law nor rule providing that the BOC, the availability of transportation, the diplomatic arrangements
composed of new members, cannot revise a Summary with the governments concerned and the efforts displayed to
Deportation Order previously issued by a different body of send the deportee away; but the Court warned that under
Commissioners. The BOC that issued the Summary
116
established precedents, too long a detention may justify the and has been managing, the Bavaria Restaurant with about 30
issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. employees. He has no pending criminal case; nor does he have
any derogatory record. The respondent was allowed by then
In this case, the BOC had yet to act on the respondents Urgent
Immigration Commissioner Verceles to renew his passport and
Motion for Reconsideration. The respondent was also given a
was given time to secure a clearance from the German
chance to secure a clearance and a new passport with the
Embassy.The respondent was able to do so. The case against
German Embassy. After all, the possibility that the German
him for physical injuries was dismissed by the German District
Embassy would renew the respondents passport could not be
Court. Thus, the inceptual basis for the respondents
ruled out. This was exactly what happened: the German
deportation had ceased to exist.
Embassy issued a new passport to the respondent on March
12, 1996 after the German District Court dismissed the case for The power to deport is a police matter against undesirable
physical injuries. Thus, the respondent was no longer an aliens, whose presence in the country is found to be injurious
undocumented alien; nor was he an undesirable one for that to the public good. We believe that the deportation of the
matter. respondent late in the day did not achieve the said purpose.
The petitioner admitted that there is no longer a factual and
The petitioner even admits that there is no longer a legal or
legal basis to disqualify the respondent from staying in the
factual basis to disqualify the respondent from remaining in
country.He is not an undesirable alien; nor is his presence in
the country as a permanent resident. Yet, the OSG insists that
the country injurious to public good. He is even an
he has to be deported first so that the BOCs Summary
entrepreneur and a productive member of society.
Deportation Order could be implemented. This contention was
rejected by the CA, thus: Arrest, detention and deportation orders of aliens should not
be enforced blindly and indiscriminately, without regard to
During the hearing of petitioners prayer for issuance of a writ
facts and circumstances that will render the same unjust,
of preliminary injunction before Us, respondents counsel from
unfair or illegal.[94] To direct the respondent to leave the
the Office of the Solicitor General had the occasion to manifest
country first before allowing him re-entry is downright
in open court that the State has no opposition to petitioners
iniquitous.[95] If the respondent does leave the country, he
stay in the country provided he first leave and re-enter and re-
would thereby be accepting the force and effect of the BOCs
apply for residency if only to comply with the Summary
Summary Deportation Order with its attendant infirmities. He
Deportation Order of 1995. That, to Our mind, seems
will thereby lose his permanent resident status and admit the
preposterous, if not ridiculous. An individuals human rights
efficacy of the cancellation of his permanent resident visa.
and rights to freedom, liberty and self-determination
Moreover, his entry into the country will be subject to such
recognize no boundaries in the democratic, free and civilized
conditions as the petitioner may impose.
world. Such rights follow him wherever he may
be. If presently, there is no factual or legal impediment to The deportation of an alien is not intended as a punishment or
disqualify petitioner in his stay in the country, other than penalty. But in a real sense, it is. In Bridges v. Wixon,[96] Mr.
allegedly those relied upon in the Summary Deportation Order Justice Murphy declared that the impact of deportation upon
of 1995 (as hereinbefore discussed, had ceased to exist), the life of an alien is often as great if not greater than the
requiring petitioner to leave the country and re-enter and re- imposition of a criminal sentence. In dealing with deportation,
apply for residency makes little sense or no sense at all, more there is no justifiable reason for disregarding the democratic
so, in the case of petitioner who, for many years past, had lived and human tenets of our legal system and descending to the
herein and nurtured a family that is Filipino. practices of despotism. As Justice Brewer opined in Fong
Yue Ting v. United States,[97] deportation is a punishment
Thus, opined, We, therefore, believe and hereby rule, that
because it requires first, an arrest, a deprivation of liberty and
there is presently every reason to enjoin/prohibit the Bureau
second, a removal from home, from family, from business,
of Immigration, respondent Commissioner Domingo in
from property. To be forcibly taken away from home, family,
particular, from presently deporting petitioner.[93]
business and property and sent across the ocean to a distant
We agree with the Court of Appeals. The Summary land is punishment; and that oftentimes is most severe and
Deportation Order had been rendered moot and academic cruel. It would be putting salt on the respondents woes
upon the German Embassys issuance of a new passport to the occasioned by the BOCs ineptitude. Considering the peculiar
respondent. The respondent had been in the Philippines as a backdrop and the equities in this case, the respondent’s
permanent resident since July 18, 1986, and had married a deportation and the cancellation of his permanent resident
Filipino citizen, with whom he has two children. He is not a visa as a precondition to his re-entry into this country is severe
burden to the country nor to the people of Palawan. He put up, and cruel; it is a form of punishment.

117
Our ruling in Vivo v. Cloribel,[98] has no application in this case,
precisely because the factual milieu here is entirely
different. In that case, the Commissioner of Immigration
required the respondents to leave the country on or before
September 12, 1962, because their stay in the country as
approved by the Secretary of Justice had been cancelled. Our
ruling in Bing v. Commission on Immigration,[99] even
buttresses the case for the respondent since we ruled therein
that an alien entitled to a permanent stay cannot be deported
without being accorded due notice and hearing.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The


Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.

118
EUFEMIO C. DOMINGO, CELSO D. GANGAN, PACASIO S. their designations/ranks as Unit Head, Team Supervisor, and
BANARIA, SOFRONIO B. URSAL, ALBERTO P. CRUZ, MARIA L. Team Leader upon implementation of the COA Organizational
MATIB, RACHEL U. PACPACO, ANGELO G. SANCHEZ, and Restructuring Plan without just cause and without due process,
SHERWIN A. SIP-AN, petitioners, vs. HON. GUILLERMO N. in violation of Civil Service Law. Moreover, they were deprived
CARAGUE, in his capacity as Chairman, Commission on Audit, of their respective Representation and Transportation
HON. EMMANUEL M. DALMAN and HON. RAUL C. FLORES, in Allowances (RATA), thus causing them undue financial
their capacities as Commissioners, Commission on prejudice.
Audit, respondents. SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Petitioners now invoke this Courts judicial power to strike
Judicial power is the power to hear and decide cases pending down the COA Organizational Restructuring Plan for being
between parties who have the right to sue in courts of law and unconstitutional or illegal.
equity.[1] Corollary to this dictum is the principle of locus
Initially, for our resolution is the issue of whether petitioners
standi of a litigant. He who is directly affected and whose
have the legal standing to institute the instant petition.
interest is immediate and substantial has the standing to sue.
Thus, a party must show a personal stake in the outcome of Petitioners invoke our ruling in Chavez v. Public Estates
the case or an injury to himself that can be redressed by a Authority,[4] Agan, Jr. v. Philippine International Air Terminals
favorable decision in order to warrant an invocation of the Co., Inc.,[5] and Information Technology Foundation of the
courts jurisdiction and justify the exercise of judicial power on Philippines v. Commission on Elections[6] that where the
his behalf. subject matter of a case is a matter of public concern and
imbued with public interest, then this fact alone gives them
Assailed in this petition for certiorari is the legality of
legal standing to institute the instant petition. Petitioners
Resolution No. 2002-05 of the Commission on Audit (COA)
contend that the COA Organizational Restructuring Plan is not
providing for Organizational Restructuring Plan. The above-
just a mere reorganization but a revamp or overhaul of the
named petitioners basically alleged therein that this Plan is
COA, with a spillover effect upon its audit performance. This
intrinsically void for want of an enabling law authorizing COA
will have an impact upon the rest of the government bodies
to undertake the same and providing for the necessary
subject to its audit supervision, thus, should be treated as a
standards, conditions, restrictions, limitations, guidelines, and
matter of transcendental importance. Consequently,
parameters. Petitioners further alleged that in initiating such
petitioners legal standing should be recognized and upheld.
Organizational Restructuring Plan without legal authority, COA
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or Respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General
excess of jurisdiction. (OSG), counter that petitioners have no legal standing to file
the present petition since following our ruling in Kilusang
At this point, it is pertinent to state that the COA is a quasi-
Mayo Uno Labor Center v. Garcia, Jr.,[7] they have not shown a
judicial body and that its decision, order or ruling may be
personal stake in the outcome of the case or an actual or
brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved
potential injury that can be redressed by our favorable
party.[2]
decision. Petitioners themselves admitted that they do not
Petitioners Eufemio C. Domingo, Celso C. Gangan, Pascasio S. seek any affirmative relief nor impute any improper or
Banaria are retired Chairmen, while Sofronio B. Ursal, and improvident act against the said respondents and are not
Alberto P. Cruz are retired Commissioners of COA. All claim to motivated by any desire to seek affirmative relief from COA or
maintain a deep-seated abiding interest in the affairs of from respondents that would redound to their personal
COA,[3] especially in its Organizational Restructuring Plan, as benefit or gain. It is clear then that petitioners failed to show
concerned taxpayers. any present substantial interest in the outcome of this case,
citing Kilosbayan v. Morato.[8] Nor may petitioners claim that
The other petitioners are incumbent officers or employees of
as taxpayers, they have legal standing since nowhere in their
COA. Maria L. Matib and Angelo G. Sanchez are State Auditor
petition do they claim that public funds are being spent in
III and State Auditor II, respectively, assigned to the Cordillera
violation of law or that there is a misapplication of the
Administrative Region (CAR). Prior to the implementation of
taxpayers money, as we ruled in Dumlao v. Comelec.[9]
the questioned COA Organizational Restructuring Plan, they
were Resident Auditors and later Audit Team Leaders. Petitioners reliance upon our rulings in Chavez,[10] Agan,
Petitioner Rachel U. Pacpaco is a State Auditor III assigned to Jr.,[11] and Information Technology Foundation[12] is flawed.
CAR and a Team Supervisor, while petitioner Sherwin A. Sipi-
In Chavez, we ruled that the petitioner has legal standing since
an is a State Auditor I also assigned at the CAR. These
he is a taxpayer and his purpose in filing the petition is to
petitioners claim that they were unceremoniously divested of
compel the Public Estate Authority (PEA) to perform its
119
constitutional duties with respect to: (a) the right of the status, or rank which may or may not involve reduction in
citizens to information on matters of public concern; and (b) salary.[15] A demotion by assigning an employee to a lower
the application of a constitutional provision intended to insure position in the same service which has a lower rate of
the equitable distribution of alienable lands of the public compensation is tantamount to removal, if no cause is shown
domain among Filipino citizens. The thrust of the first is to for it.[16]
compel PEA to disclose publicly information on the sale of
Here, there have been no new appointments issued to Matib,
Government lands worth billions of pesos, as mandated by the
Pacpaco, Sanchez, and Sipi-An under the COA Organizational
Constitution and statutory law. The thrust of the second is to
Restructuring Plan. Thus, their contention that they have been
prevent PEA from alienating hundreds of hectares of alienable
demoted is baseless.
lands of the public domain, thereby compelling it to comply
with a constitutional duty to the nation. We held that these Moreover, the change in their status from COA auditors
matters are of transcendental public importance.[13] (receiving monthly RATA) to COA auditors (receiving only
reimbursable RATA) cannot be attributed to the COA
In Agan, Jr., we held that petitioners have legal standing as
Organizational Restructuring Plan but to the implementation
they have a direct and substantial interest to protect. By the
of the Audit Team Approach (ATAP), pursuant to COA
implementation of the PIATCO contracts, they stand to lose
Resolution No. 96-305 dated April 16, 1996.
their source of livelihood, a property right zealously protected
by the Constitution. Such financial prejudice on their part is Under the ATAP, an audit team, not a resident auditor, is
sufficient to confer upon them the requisite locus standi.[14] deployed to conduct an audit. An audit team may be
composed of two (2) or more members under an Audit Team
In Information Technology Foundation, there were two
Leader. Whenever practicable, an Audit Team Supervisor
reasons why petitioners standing was recognized. First, the
supervises at least three (3) audit teams. The composition of
nations political and economic future virtually hangs in the
an audit team is not permanent. Hence, an Audit Team
balance, pending the outcome of the 2004 elections.
Member may be designated or assigned as an Audit Team
Accordingly, the award for the automation of the electoral
Leader for one assignment and subsequently as a Team
process was a matter of public concern, imbued with public
Member in another engagement. The designation depends
interest. Second, the individual petitioners, as taxpayers,
upon the position or rank of the one who is designated as an
asserted a material interest in seeing to it that public funds are
Audit Team Leader. Thus, a State Auditor III who may have
properly used.
been assigned as an Audit Team Leader in one engagement
Here, petitioners have not shown any direct and personal may find himself relegated to being an Audit Team Member in
interest in the COA Organizational Restructuring Plan. There is another engagement, if a State Auditor IV or State Auditor V is
no indication that they have sustained or are in imminent designated as the Audit Team Leader.
danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its
Pursuant to the COA Organizational Restructuring Plan, the
implementation. In fact, they admitted that they do not seek
COA issued Memorandum No. 2002-034[17] providing for the
any affirmative relief nor impute any improper or improvident
guidelines regarding the payment of RATA, thus:
act against the respondents and are not motivated by any
desire to seek affirmative relief from COA or from respondents 1. All holders of State Auditor IV position shall be entitled to
that would redound to their personal benefit or gain. Clearly, fixed commutable RATA wherever they are assigned.
they do not have any legal standing to file the instant suit.
2. Henceforth, only State Auditors IV shall be assigned as new
We are well aware of the averments of petitioners Matib, Unit Heads or Team Leaders.
Pacpaco, Sanchez, and Sipi-An that they were demoted and
unceremoniously divested of their previous designations as 3. State Auditors below State Auditor IV assigned as Unit Heads
Unit Head, Team Supervisor, or Team Leader; that they were or Team Leaders who have been receiving fixed RATA shall
deprived of their RATA; that they were relegated to being mere continue to be designated as such and to receive the RATA
Team Members, entitled to only a reimbursable transportation until relieved of the designation for incompetence,
allowance; and that they were denied due process. inefficiency, or misconduct.

Such averments lack merit. Actually, they were not demoted. All others who collect RATA on reimbursable basis, including
Under Section 11, Rule VII of the Omnibus Rules Implementing those paid on a daily basis under COA Resolution No. 99-007
Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987, a demotion is the dated June 7, 1999, are likewise entitled thereto.
movement from one position to another involving the issuance
Matib, Pacpaco, Sanchez, and Sipi-An are not qualified to be
of an appointment with diminution in duties, responsibilities,
Audit Team Leaders or to receive fixed monthly RATA since
120
none of them holds the rank or position of State Auditor IV. But
this does not mean that they are not entitled to receive
reimbursable RATA if they are designated as Audit Team
Leaders. It is clear from the text of the said COA Memorandum
that the principle of non-diminution of benefits has been
upheld.

Thus, in the implementation of the COA Organizational


Restructuring Plan, we fail to see how petitioners could have
sustained personal injury as they have not shown to have a
personal stake therein. Accordingly, they are wanting in legal
standing to institute the instant petition. Corollarily, we find no
reason to delve into the constitutionality or legality of the COA
Organizational Restructuring Plan.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. No pronouncement as


to costs.

121
REBECCA PACAÑA-CONTRERAS and ROSALIE the RTC had no jurisdiction over an intra-corporate
PACAÑA, Petitioners, vs. ROVILA WATER SUPPLY, INC., EARL controversy.9
U KOKSENG, LILIA TORRES, DALLA P. ROMANILLOS and
The RTC denied the motion. On September 26, 2000, Lourdes
MARISSA GABUYA, Respondents. BRION, J.:
died10 and the petitioners amended their complaint, with
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari1 under leave of court, on October 2, 2000 to reflect this
Rule 4 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal of the development.11
decision2 dated January 27, 2005 and the resolution3 dated
They still attached to their amended complaint the sworn
June 6, 2005 of the Courts of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No.
declaration with SPA, but the caption of the amended
71551. The CA set aside the orders dated February 28,
complaint remained the same.12
20024 and April 1, 20025 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 8, Cebu City, which denied the motion to dismiss for On October 10, 2000, Luciano also died.13
reconsideration respectively, of respondents Rovila Water
Supply, Inc. (Rovilla, Inc.), Earl U. Kokseng, Lialia Torres, Dalla The respondents filed their Answer on November 16, 2000. 14
P. Romanillos and Marissa Gabuya.
The petitioners’ sister, Lagrimas Pacaña-Gonzales, filed a
THE FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS motion for leave to intervene and her answer-in-intervention
was granted by the trial court. At the subsequent pre-trial, the
Petitioners Rebecca Pacaña-Contreras and Rosalie Pacaña, respondents manifested to the RTC that a substitution of the
children of Lourdes Teves Pacaña and Luciano Pacaña, filed the parties was necessary in light of the deaths of Lourdes and
present case against Rovila Inc., Earl, Lilia, Dalla and Marisa for Luciano. They further stated that they would seek the dismissal
accounting and damages.6 of the complaint because the petitioners are not the real
parties in interest to prosecute the case. The pre-trial pushed
The petitioners claimed that their family has long been known
through as scheduled and the RTC directed the respondents to
in the community to be engaged in the water supply business;
put into writing their earlier manifestation. The RTC issued a
they operated the "Rovila Water Supply" from their family
pre-trial order where one of the issues submitted was whether
residence and were engaged in the distribution of water to
the complaint should be dismissed for failure to comply with
customers in Cebu City. The petitioners alleged that Lilia was a
Section 2, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court which requires that
former trusted employee in the family business who hid
every action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party
business records and burned and ransacked the family files.
in interest.15
Lilia also allegedly posted security guards and barred the
members of the Pacaña family from operating their business. On January 23, 2002,16 the respondents again filed a motion to
She then claimed ownership over the family business through dismiss on the grounds, among others, that the petitioners are
a corporation named "Rovila Water Supply, Inc." (Rovila Inc.) not the real parties in interest to institute and prosecute the
Upon inquiry with the Securities and Exchange Commission case and that they have no valid cause of action against the
(SEC), the petitioners claimed that Rovila Inc. was respondents.
surreptitiously formed with the respondents as the majority
stockholders. The respondents did so by conspiring with one THE RTC RULING
another and forming the respondent corporation to takeover
The RTC denied the respondents’ motion to dismiss. It ruled
and illegally usurp the family business’ registered name. 7
that, save for the grounds for dismissal which may be raised at
In forming the respondent corporation, the respondents any stage of the proceedings, a motion to dismiss based on the
allegedly used the name of Lourdes as one of the incorporators grounds invoked by the respondents may only be filed within
and made it appear in the SEC documents that the family the time for, but before, the filing of their answer to the
business was operated in a place other than the Pacaña amended complaint. Thus, even granting that the defenses
residence. Thereafter, the respondents used the Pacaña invoked by the respondents are meritorious, their motion was
family’s receipts and the deliveries and sales were made to filed out of time as it was filed only after the conclusion of the
appear as those of the respondent Rovila Inc. Using this pre-trial conference. Furthermore, the rule on substitution of
scheme, the respondents fraudulently appropriated the parties only applies when the parties to the case die, which is
collections and payments.8 not what happened in the present case.17

The petitioners filed the complaint in their own names The RTC likewise denied the respondents’ motion for
although Rosalie was authorized by Lourdes through a sworn reconsideration.18
declaration and special power of attorney (SPA). The
respondents filed a first motion to dismiss on the ground that
122
The respondents filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of The petitioners filed the present petition and argued that, first,
the Rules of Court with the CA, invoking grave abuse of in annulling the interlocutory orders, the CA unjustly allowed
discretion in the denial of their motion to dismiss. They argued the motion to dismiss which did not conform to the rules.29
that the deceased spouses Luciano and Lourdes, not the
Specifically, the motion was not filed within the time for, but
petitioners, were the real parties in interest. Thus, the
before the filing of, the answer to the amended complaint, nor
petitioners violated Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court on
were the grounds raised in the answer. Citing Section 1, Rule 9
the substitution of parties.19
of the Rules of Court, the respondents are deemed to have
Furthermore, they seasonably moved for the dismissal of the waived these grounds, as correctly held by the RTC.30
case20 and the RTC never acquired jurisdiction over the
Second, even if there is non-joinder and misjoinder of parties
persons of the petitioners as heirs of Lourdes and Luciano.21
or that the suit is not brought in the name of the real party in
THE CA RULING interest, the remedy is not outright dismissal of the complaint,
but its amendment to include the real parties in interest. 31
The CA granted the petition and ruled that the RTC committed
grave abuse of discretion as the petitioners filed the complaint Third, the petitioners sued in their own right because they
and the amended complaint as attorneys-in-fact of their have actual and substantial interest in the subject matter of
parents. As such, they are not the real parties in interest and the action as heirs or co-owners, pursuant to Section 2, Rule 3
cannot bring an action in their own names; thus, the complaint of the Rules of Court.32
should be dismissed22 pursuant to the Court’s ruling in
Their declaration as heirs in a special proceeding is not
Casimiro v. Roque and Gonzales.23
necessary, pursuant to the Court’s ruling in Marabilles, et al. v.
Neither are the petitioners suing as heirs of their deceased Quito.33
parents.1awp++i1 Pursuant to jurisprudence,24 the petitioners
Finally, the sworn declaration is evidentiary in nature which
should first be declared as heirs before they can be considered
remains to be appreciated after the trial is completed. 34
as the real parties in interest. This cannot be done in the
present ordinary civil case but in a special proceeding for that The respondents reiterated in their comment that the
purpose. The CA agreed with the respondents that they alleged petitioners are not the real parties in interest. 35
the following issues as affirmative defenses in their answer: 1)
the petitioners are not the real parties in interest; and 2) that They likewise argued that they moved for the dismissal of the
they had no legal right to institute the action in behalf of their case during the pre-trial conference due to the petitioners’
parents.25 procedural lapse in refusing to comply with a condition
precedent, which is, to substitute the heirs as plaintiffs.
That the motion to dismiss was filed after the period to file an Besides, an administrator of the estates of Luciano and
answer has lapsed is of no moment. The RTC judge entertained Lourdes has already been appointed.36
it and passed upon its merit. He was correct in doing so
because in the pre-trial order, one of the submitted issues was The respondents also argued that the grounds invoked in their
whether the case must be dismissed for failure to comply with motion to dismiss were timely raised, pursuant to Section 2,
the requirements of the Rules of Court. Furthermore, in paragraphs g and i, Rule 18 of the Rules of Court. Specifically,
Dabuco v. Court of Appeals,26 the Court held that the ground the nature and purposes of the pre-trial include, among others,
of lack of cause of action may be raised in a motion to dismiss the dismissal of the action, should a valid ground therefor be
at anytime.27 found to exist; and such other matters as may aid in the
prompt disposition of the action. Finally, the special civil action
The CA further ruled that, in denying the motion to dismiss, the of certiorari was the proper remedy in assailing the order of
RTC judge acted contrary to established rules and the RTC.37
jurisprudence which may be questioned via a petition for
certiorari. The phrase "grave abuse of discretion" which was THE COURT’S RULING
traditionally confined to "capricious and whimsical exercise of
We find the petition meritorious.
judgment" has been expanded to include any action done
"contrary to the Constitution, the law or jurisprudence[.]"28 Petition for certiorari under Rule 65 is a proper remedy for a
denial of a motion to dismiss attended by grave abuse of
THE PARTIES’ ARGUMENTS
discretion

In Barrazona v. RTC, Branch 61, Baguio City,38 the Court held


that while an order denying a motion to dismiss is interlocutory
123
and non-appealable, certiorari and prohibition are proper Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. — Defenses
remedies to address an order of denial made without or in and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in
excess of jurisdiction. The writ of certiorari is granted to keep the answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears
an inferior court within the bounds of its jurisdiction or to from the pleadings or the evidence on record that the court
prevent it from committing grave abuse of discretion has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. another action pending between the same parties for the same
cause, or that the action is barred by a prior judgment or by
The history and development of the ground "fails to state a
statute of limitations, the court shall dismiss the claim.
cause of action" in the 1940, 1964 and the present 1997 Rules
[underscoring supplied]
of Court Preliminarily, a suit that is not brought in the name of
the real party in interest is dismissible on the ground that the Notably, in the present rules, there was a deletion of the
complaint "fails to state a cause of action."39 ground of "failure to state a cause of action" from the list of
those which may be waived if not invoked either in a motion
Pursuant to jurisprudence,40 this is also the ground invoked
to dismiss or in the answer. Another novelty introduced by the
when the respondents alleged that the petitioners are not the
present Rules, which was totally absent in its two precedents,
real parties in interest because: 1) the petitioners should not
is the addition of the period of time within which a motion to
have filed the case in their own names, being merely
dismiss should be filed as provided under Section 1, Rule 16
attorneys-in-fact of their mother; and 2) the petitioners should
and we quote:
first be declared as heirs. A review of the 1940, 1964 and the
present 1997 Rules of Court shows that the fundamentals of Section 1. Grounds. — Within the time for but before filing the
the ground for dismissal based on "failure to state a cause of answer to the complaint or pleading asserting a claim, a
action" have drastically changed over time. A historical motion to dismiss may be made on any of the following
background of this particular ground is in order to preclude any grounds: xxx [underscoring supplied]
confusion or misapplication of jurisprudence decided prior to
All these considerations point to the legal reality that the new
the effectivity of the present Rules of Court. The 1940 Rules of
Rules effectively restricted the dismissal of complaints in
Court provides under Section 10, Rule 9 that:
general, especially when what is being invoked is the ground
Section 10. Waiver of defenses- Defenses and objections not of "failure to state a cause of action." Thus, jurisprudence
pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are governed by the 1940 and 1964 Rules of Court to the effect
deemed waived; except the defense of failure to state a cause that the ground for dismissal based on failure to state a cause
of action, which may be alleged in a later pleading, if one is of action may be raised anytime during the proceedings, is
permitted, or by motion for judgment on the pleadings, or at already inapplicable to cases already governed by the present
the trial on the merits; but in the last instance, the motion shall Rules of Court which took effect on July 1, 1997. As the rule
be disposed of as provided in section 5 of Rule 17 in the light now stands, the failure to invoke this ground in a motion to
of any evidence which may have been received. Whenever it dismiss or in the answer would result in its waiver. According
appears that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject- to Oscar M. Herrera,41 the reason for the deletion is that failure
matter, it shall dismiss the action. [underscoring supplied] to state a cause of action may be cured under Section 5, Rule
10 and we quote:
This provision was essentially reproduced in Section 2, Rule 9
of the 1964 Rules of Court, and we quote: Section 5. Amendment to conform to or authorize
presentation of evidence. — When issues not raised by the
Section 2. Defenses and objections not pleaded deemed
pleadings are tried with the express or implied consent of the
waived. — Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a
parties they shall be treated in all respects as if they had been
motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived; except
raised in the pleadings. Such amendment of the pleadings as
the failure to state a cause of action which may be alleged in a
may be necessary to cause them to conform to the evidence
later pleading, if one is permitted, or by motion for judgment
and to raise these issues may be made upon motion of any
on the pleadings, or at the trial on the merits; but in the last
party at any time, even after judgment; but failure to amend
instance, the motion shall be disposed of as provided in section
does not effect the result of the trial of these issues. If evidence
5 of Rule 10 in the light of any evidence which may have been
is objected to at the trial on the ground that it is not within the
received. Whenever it appears that the court has no
issues made by the pleadings, the court may allow the
jurisdiction over the subject-matter, it shall dismiss the action.
pleadings to be amended and shall do so with liberality if the
[underscoring supplied]
presentation of the merits of the action and the ends of
Under the present Rules of Court, this provision was reflected substantial justice will be subserved thereby. The court may
in Section 1, Rule 9, and we quote: grant a continuance to enable the amendment to be made.
124
With this clarification, we now proceed to the substantial In the petition filed with the CA, the respondents made a
issues of the petition. passing allegation that, as affirmative defenses in their answer,
they raised the issue that the petitioners are not the real
The motion to dismiss in the present case based on failure to
parties in interest.46
state a cause of action was not timely filed and was thus
waived On the other hand, the petitioners consistently argued
otherwise in their opposition47 to the motion to dismiss, and in
Applying Rule 16 of the Rules of Court which provides for the
their comment48 and in their memorandum49 on the
grounds for the dismissal of a civil case, the respondents’
respondents’ petition before the CA. Our examination of the
grounds for dismissal fall under Section 1(g) and (j), Rule 16 of
records shows that the CA had no basis in its finding that the
the Rules of Court, particularly, failure to state a cause of
respondents alleged the grounds as affirmative defenses in
action and failure to comply with a condition precedent
their answer. The respondents merely stated in their petition
(substitution of parties), respectively. The first paragraph of
for certiorari that they alleged the subject grounds in their
Section 1,42
answer. However, nowhere in the petition did they support
Rule 16 of the Rules of Court provides for the period within this allegation; they did not even attach a copy of their answer
which to file a motion to dismiss under the grounds to the petition. It is basic that the respondents had the duty to
enumerated. Specifically, the motion should be filed within the prove by substantial evidence their positive assertions.
time for, but before the filing of, the answer to the complaint Considering that the petition for certiorari is an original and
or pleading asserting a claim. Equally important to this not an appellate action, the CA had no records of the RTC’s
provision is Section 1,43 proceedings upon which the CA could refer to in order to
validate the respondents’ claim. Clearly, other than the
Rule 9 of the Rules of Court which states that defenses and respondents’ bare allegations, the CA had no basis to rule,
objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the without proof, that the respondents alleged the grounds for
answer are deemed waived, except for the following grounds: dismissal as affirmative defenses in the answer. The
1) the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter; 2) litis respondents, as the parties with the burden of proving that
pendencia; 3) res judicata; and 4) prescription. Therefore, the they timely raised their grounds for dismissal, could have at
grounds not falling under these four exceptions may be least attached a copy of their answer to the petition. This
considered as waived in the event that they are not timely simple task they failed to do. That the respondents did not
invoked. As the respondents’ motion to dismiss was based on allege in their answer the subject grounds is made more
the grounds which should be timely invoked, material to the apparent through their argument, both in their motion to
resolution of this case is the period within which they were dismiss50 and in their comment,51 that it was only during the
raised. Both the RTC and the CA found that the motion to pre-trial stage that they verbally manifested and invited the
dismiss was only filed after the filing of the answer and after attention of the lower court on their grounds for dismissal. In
the pre-trial had been concluded. Because there was no order to justify such late invocation, they heavily relied on
motion to dismiss before the filing of the answer, the Section 2(g) and (i), Rule 1852 of the Rules of Court that the
respondents should then have at least raised these grounds as nature and purpose of the pre-trial include, among others, the
affirmative defenses in their answer. The RTC’s assailed orders propriety of dismissing the action should there be a valid
did not touch on this particular issue but the CA ruled that the ground therefor and matters which may aid in the prompt
respondents did, while the petitioners insist that the disposition of the action. The respondents are not correct. The
respondents did not. In the present petition, the petitioners rules are clear and require no interpretation. Pursuant to
reiterate that there was a blatant non-observance of the rules Section 1, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court, a motion to dismiss
when the respondents did not amend their answer to invoke based on the grounds invoked by the respondents may be
the grounds for dismissal which were raised only during the waived if not raised in a motion to dismiss or alleged in their
pre-trial and, subsequently, in the subject motion to dismiss.44 answer. On the other hand, "the pre-trial is primarily intended
to make certain that all issues necessary to the disposition of a
The divergent findings of the CA and the petitioners’
case are properly raised. The purpose is to obviate the element
arguments are essentially factual issues. Time and again, we
of surprise, hence, the parties are expected to disclose at the
have held that the jurisdiction of the Court in a petition for
pre-trial conference all issues of law and fact which they intend
review on certiorari under Rule 45, such as the present case, is
to raise at the trial, except such as may involve privileged or
limited only to questions of law, save for certain exceptions.
impeaching matter."53
One of these is attendant herein, which is, when the findings
are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which The issues submitted during the pre-trial are thus the issues
they are based.45 that would govern the trial proper. The dismissal of the case
125
based on the grounds invoked by the respondents are distinction: xxx What is contemplated, therefore, is a failure to
specifically covered by Rule 16 and Rule 9 of the Rules of Court state a cause of action which is provided in Sec. 1(g) of Rule 16.
which set a period when they should be raised; otherwise, they This is a matter of insufficiency of the pleading. Sec. 5 of Rule
are deemed waived. 10, which was also included as the last mode for raising the
issue to the court, refers to the situation where the evidence
The Dabuco ruling is inapplicable in the present case; the
does not prove a cause of action. This is, therefore, a matter of
ground for dismissal "failure to state a cause of action"
insufficiency of evidence. Failure to state a cause of action is
distinguished from "lack of cause of action"
different from failure to prove a cause of action. The remedy
To justify the belated filing of the motion to dismiss, the CA in the first is to move for dismissal of the pleading, while the
reasoned out that the ground for dismissal of "lack of cause of remedy in the second is to demur to the evidence, hence
action" may be raised at any time during the proceedings, reference to Sec. 5 of Rule 10 has been eliminated in this
pursuant to Dabuco v. Court of Appeals. 54 section. The procedure would consequently be to require the
pleading to state a cause of action, by timely objection to its
This is an erroneous interpretation and application of Dabuco deficiency; or, at the trial, to file a demurrer to evidence, if
as will be explained below. such motion is warranted. [italics supplied]
First, in Dabuco, the grounds for dismissal were raised as Based on this discussion, the Court cannot uphold the dismissal
affirmative defenses in the answer which is in stark contrast to of the present case based on the grounds invoked by the
the present case. respondents which they have waived for failure to invoke them
within the period prescribed by the Rules. The Court cannot
Second, in Dabuco, the Court distinguished between the
also dismiss the case based on "lack of cause of action" as this
dismissal of the complaint for "failure to state a cause of
would require at least a preponderance of evidence which is
action" and "lack of cause of action." The Court emphasized
yet to be appreciated by the trial court. Therefore, the RTC did
that in a dismissal of action for lack of cause of action,
not commit grave abuse of discretion in issuing the assailed
"questions of fact are involved, [therefore,] courts hesitate to
orders denying the respondents’ motion to dismiss and motion
declare a plaintiff as lacking in cause of action. Such declaration
for reconsideration. The Court shall not resolve the merits of
is postponed until the insufficiency of cause is apparent from a
the respondents’ grounds for dismissal which are considered
preponderance of evidence.
as waived.
Usually, this is done only after the parties have been given the
Other heirs of the spouses Pacaña to be impleaded in the case.
opportunity to present all relevant evidence on such questions
of fact."55 It should be emphasized that insofar as the petitioners are
concerned, the respondents have waived the dismissal of the
In fact, in Dabuco, the Court held that even the preliminary
complaint based on the ground of failure to state a cause of
hearing on the propriety of lifting the restraining order was
action because the petitioners are not the real parties in
declared insufficient for purposes of dismissing the complaint
interest. At this juncture, a distinction between a real party in
for lack of cause of action. This is so because the issues of fact
interest and an indispensable party is in order. In Carandang v.
had not yet been adequately ventilated at that preliminary
Heirs of de Guzman, et al.,57 the Court clarified these two
stage. For these reasons, the Court declared in Dabuco that the
concepts and held that "[a] real party in interest is the party
dismissal by the trial court of the complaint was premature. In
who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment of the
the case of Macaslang v. Zamora,56 the Court noted that the
suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. On the other
incorrect appreciation by both the RTC and the CA of the
hand, an indispensable party is a party in interest without
distinction between the dismissal of an action, based on
whom no final determination can be had of an action, in
"failure to state a cause of action" and "lack of cause of action,"
contrast to a necessary party, which is one who is not
prevented it from properly deciding the case, and we quote:
indispensable but who ought to be joined as a party if
Failure to state a cause of action and lack of cause of action are complete relief is to be accorded as to those already parties,
really different from each other. On the one hand, failure to or for a complete determination or settlement of the claim
state a cause of action refers to the insufficiency of the subject of the action. xxx If a suit is not brought in the name of
pleading, and is a ground for dismissal under Rule 16 of the or against the real party in interest, a motion to dismiss may
Rules of Court. On the other hand, lack of cause [of] action be filed on the ground that the complaint states no cause of
refers to a situation where the evidence does not prove the action. However, the dismissal on this ground entails an
cause of action alleged in the pleading. Justice Regalado, a examination of whether the parties presently pleaded are
recognized commentator on remedial law, has explained the interested in the outcome of the litigation, and not whether all

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persons interested in such outcome are actually pleaded. The of our present rules on indispensable parties permitted this
latter query is relevant in discussions concerning indispensable corrective measure. This cited case held:
and necessary parties, but not in discussions concerning real
Even in those cases where it might reasonably be argued that
parties in interest. Both indispensable and necessary parties
the failure of the Government to implead the sequestered
are considered as real parties in interest, since both classes of
corporations as defendants is indeed a procedural aberration
parties stand to be benefited or injured by the judgment of the
xxx, slight reflection would nevertheless lead to the conclusion
suit."
that the defect is not fatal, but one correctible under
At the inception of the present case, both the spouses Pacaña applicable adjective rules – e.g., Section 10, Rule 5 of the Rules
were not impleaded as parties-plaintiffs. The Court notes, of Court [specifying the remedy of amendment during trial to
however, that they are indispensable parties to the case as the authorize or to conform to the evidence]; Section 1, Rule 20
alleged owners of Rovila Water Supply. Without their inclusion [governing amendments before trial], in relation to the rule
as parties, there can be no final determination of the present respecting omission of so-called necessary or indispensable
case. They possess such an interest in the controversy that a parties, set out in Section 11, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. It is
final decree would necessarily affect their rights, so that the relevant in this context to advert to the old familiar doctrines
courts cannot proceed without their presence. Their interest that the omission to implead such parties "is a mere technical
in the subject matter of the suit and in the relief sought is defect which can be cured at any stage of the proceedings even
inextricably intertwined with that of the other parties.58 after judgment"; and that, particularly in the case of
indispensable parties, since their presence and participation is
Jurisprudence on the procedural consequence of the inclusion
essential to the very life of the action, for without them no
or non-inclusion of an indispensable party is divided in our
judgment may be rendered, amendments of the complaint in
jurisdiction. Due to the non-inclusion of indispensable parties,
order to implead them should be freely allowed, even on
the Court dismissed the case in Lucman v. Malawi, et al. 59 and
appeal, in fact even after rendition of judgment by this Court,
Go v. Distinction Properties Development Construction,
where it appears that the complaint otherwise indicates their
Inc.,60 while in Casals, et al. v. Tayud Golf and Country Club et
identity and character as such indispensable parties." Although
al.,61 the Court annulled the judgment which was rendered
there are decided cases wherein the non-joinder of
without the inclusion of the indispensable parties. In Arcelona
indispensable parties in fact led to the dismissal of the suit or
et al. v. Court of Appeals62 and Bulawan v. Aquende,63 and
the annulment of judgment, such cases do not jibe with the
Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company v. Alejo et al.64 the Court
matter at hand. The better view is that non-joinder is not a
ruled that the burden to implead or order the impleading of an
ground to dismiss the suit or annul the judgment. The rule on
indispensable party rests on the plaintiff and on the trial court,
joinder of indispensable parties is founded on equity. And the
respectively. Thus, the non-inclusion of the indispensable
spirit of the law is reflected in Section 11, Rule 3 of the 1997
parties, despite notice of this infirmity, resulted in the
Rules of Civil Procedure. It prohibits the dismissal of a suit on
annulment of these cases. In Plasabas, et al. v. Court of
the ground of non-joinder or misjoinder of parties and allows
Appeals, et al.,65 the Court held that the trial court and the CA
the amendment of the complaint at any stage of the
committed reversible error when they summarily dismissed
proceedings, through motion or on order of the court on its
the case, after both parties had rested their cases following a
own initiative. Likewise, jurisprudence on the Federal Rules of
protracted trial, on the sole ground of failure to implead
Procedure, from which our Section 7, Rule 3 on indispensable
indispensable parties. Non-joinder of indispensable parties is
parties was copied, allows the joinder of indispensable parties
not a ground for the dismissal of an action. The remedy is to
even after judgment has been entered if such is needed to
implead the non-party claimed to be indispensable. However,
afford the moving party full relief. Mere delay in filing the
in the cases of Quilatan, et al. v. Heirs of Quilatan, et al. 66 and
joinder motion does not necessarily result in the waiver of the
Lagunilla, et al. v. Monis, et al.,67 the Court remanded the case
right as long as the delay is excusable.
to the RTC for the impleading of indispensable parties. On the
other hand, in Lotte Phil. Co., Inc. v. Dela Cruz,68PepsiCo, Inc. v. In Galicia, et al. v. Vda. De Mindo, et al.,72 the Court ruled that
Emerald Pizza, 69 and Valdez Tallorin, v. Heirs of Tarona, et in line with its policy of promoting a just and inexpensive
al.,70 the Court directly ordered that the indispensable parties disposition of a case, it allowed the intervention of the
be impleaded. Mindful of the differing views of the Court as indispensable parties instead of dismissing the complaint.
regards the legal effects of the non-inclusion of indispensable Furthermore, in Commissioner Domingo v. Scheer,73 the Court
parties, the Court clarified in Republic of the Philippines v. cited Salvador, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al.74 and held that
Sandiganbayan, et al.,71that the failure to implead the Court has full powers, apart from that power and authority
indispensable parties is a curable error and the foreign origin which are inherent, to amend the processes, pleadings,
proceedings and decisions by substituting as party-plaintiff the
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real party in interest. The Court has the power to avoid delay
in the disposition of this case, and to order its amendment in
order to implead an indispensable party. With these
discussions as premises, the Court is of the view that the
proper remedy in the present case is to implead the
indispensable parties especially when their non-inclusion is
merely a technical defect. To do so would serve proper
administration of justice and prevent further delay and
multiplicity of suits. Pursuant to Section 9, Rule 3 of the Rules
of Court, parties may be added by order of the court on motion
of the party or on its own initiative at any stage of the action.
If the plaintiff refuses to implead an indispensable party
despite the order of the court, then the court may dismiss the
complaint for the plaintiff’s failure to comply with a lawful
cour