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FIRST DIVISION

December 13, 2017

G.R. No. 202448

JOSEPH O. REGALADO, Petitioner,


vs.
EMMA DE LA RAMA VDA. DE LA PENA,1 JESUSA2 DE LA PENA, JOHNNY DE LA PENA,
JOHANNA DE LA PENA, JOSE DE LA PENA, JESSICA DE LA PENA, and JAIME
ANTONIO DE LA PENA, Respondents.

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

This Petition for Review· on Certiorari seeks to reverse and set aside the May 28, 2012
Decision3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 02994, which affirmed the January
20, 2009 Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court (RIC) of Bacolod City, Branch 42 in Civil Case
No. 98-10187 for."Recovery of Possession and Damages with Injunction."

Factual Antecedents

Emma, Jesusa, Johnny, Johanna, Jose, Jessica, and Jaime Antonio (Jaime), all surnamed de la
Pena (respondents), are the registered owners of two parcels of land with a total area of 44
hectares located in Murcia, Negros Occidental. These properties are referred to as Lot Nos.
138-D and 138-S, and are respectively covered by Transfer Certificates of Title No. T-103187
and T-1031895 (subject properties).

Purportedly, in 1994, without the knowledge and consent of respondents, Joseph Regalado
(petitioner) entered, took possession of, and planted sugar cane on the subject properties
without paying rent to respondents. In the crop year 1995-1996, respondents discovered such
illegal entry, which prompted them to verbally demand from petitioner to vacate the properties
but to no avail.6

Later, the parties appeared before the Barangay Office of Cansilayan, Murcia, Negros
Occidental but failed to arrive at any amicable settlement. On September 29, 1997, the Lupon
Tagapamayapa of said Barangay issued a Certificate to File Action;7 and, on March 9, 1998,
respondents filed a Complaint8 for recovery of possession and damages with injunction against
petitioner.

In his Answer,9 petitioner countered that in 1994, Emma, Jesusa, Johnny, Johanna, and Jessica
executed their separate Waivers of Undivided Share of Lands renouncing their rights and
interests over the subject properties in favor of Jaime. In turn, Jaime subsequently waived his
rights and interests on the same properties to petitioner.10Petitioner claimed that respondents
did not attempt to enter the properties as they already intentionally relinquished their interests
thereon.

Thereafter, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss11 on the ground, among others, that the RTC has
no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case. Petitioner posited that based on the
allegations in the Complaint, the action involved recovery of physical possession of the
properties in dispute; said Complaint was also filed within one year from the date the parties had
a confrontation before the Barangay; and thus, the case was one for Ejectment and must be
filed with the proper Municipal Trial Court (MTC).

In their Reply,12 respondents alleged that the waiver of rights in favor of Jaime was conditioned
on the payment of their ₱6.7 million loan with the Republic Planters Bank (RPB) and Philippine
National Bank (PNB); and, in case the subject properties would be sold, its proceeds shall be
equally distributed to respondents. They further stated that such waiver bestowed rights over
the properties solely upon Jaime. They added that the subsequent waiver executed by Jaime to
petitioner should have been with conformity of the banks where the properties were mortgaged;
and conditioned on the payment of the ₱6.7 million loan. They pointed out that neither Jaime
nor petitioner paid any amount to RPB or PNB; and as a result, the waivers of rights in favor of
Jaime, and later to petitioner, were void.

Subsequently, in their Opposition to Motion to Dismiss,13 respondents contended that the RTC
had jurisdiction over the case because their demand for petitioner to vacate the properties was
made during the crop year 1995- 1996, which was earlier than the refe1Tal of the matter
to Barangay Cansilayan.

On July 31, 2000, the RTC denied the Motion to Dismiss. It held that it had jurisdiction over the
case because the area of the subject properties was 44 hectares, more or less, and "it is safe to
presume that the value of the same is more than ₱20,000.00."14

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On January 20, 2009, the RTC rendered a Decision ordering petitioner to turn over the subject
properties to respondents and to pay them ₱50,000.00 as attorney's fees.

The RTC ratiocinated that the waiver of rights executed by Jaime to petitioner was coupled with
a consideration. However, petitioner failed to prove that he paid a consideration for such a
waiver; as such, petitioner was not entitled to possess the subject properties.

Both parties appealed to the CA.

On one hand, petitioner reiterated that the RTC had no jurisdiction over the case. He also
maintained that respondents already waived their shares and rights over the properties to
Jaime, who, in turn, renounced his rights to petitioner.

On the other hand, respondents assailed the RTC Decision in so far as it failed to award them
damages as a result of petitioner's purported illegal entry and possession of the subject
properties.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On May 28, 2012, the CA affirmed the RTC Decision


The CA dismissed respondents' appeal because they did not establish entitlement to damages.
It likewise dismissed the appeal interposed by petitioner for failing to establish that he gave any
consideration in relation to Jaime's waiver of rights in his (petitioner) favor.

In addition, the CA ruled that the RTC had jurisdiction over this case considering that the parties
stipulated on the jurisdiction of the RTC but also because the assessed value of the subject
properties is presumed to have exceeded ₱20,000.00.

Issues

Hence, petitioner filed this Petition raising the issues as follows:

I. DID THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT HAVE JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER
OF THE CASE?

II. DID THE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN RULING THAT PETITIONER SHOULD RETURN
POSSESSION OF THE PROPERTIES SUBJECT OF THIS CASE TO THE RESPONDENTS?

III. SHOULD THE PETITIONER BE AWARDED DAMAGES?15

Petitioner's Arguments

Petitioner insists that respondents filed their Complaint for recovery of physical possession of
the subject properties on March 9, 1998 or within one year from the date the parties had their
confrontation before the Barangay of Cansilayan (September 29, 1997). As such, he maintains
that the RTC did not have jurisdiction over the case.

Petitioner also posits that even granting that this action is considered a plenary action to recover
right of possession, the RTC still had no jurisdiction because the tax declarations of the
properties were not submitted, and consequently, it cannot be determined whether it is the MTC
or RTC which has jurisdiction over the case.

Moreover, petitioner argues that Jaime's waiver in his (petitioner's) favor was coupled with the
following considerations: 1) ₱400,000.00 cash; 2) a car worth ₱350,000.00; and 3) a
convenience store worth ₱1,500,000.00. He adds that the delivery of the properties to him
confirms that he (petitioner) gave said considerations to Jaime.

Later, in his Manifestation and Motion,16 petitioner points out that although the body of the
assailed CA Decision made reference to the January 20, 2009 RTC Decision, its dispositive
portion pertained to a different case, to wit:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the August 29, 2008 Decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 10 in Civil Case No. CEB- 30866 is AFFIRMED.

Costs against both appellants.

SO ORDERED.17 (Underlining ours)

Consequently, petitioner prays that the dispositive portion of the CA Decision be rectified to
refer to the actual case subject of the appeal.

Respondents' Arguments
On the other hand, respondents contend that the CA did not commit any reversible error in
rendering the assailed Decision. They insist that petitioner's contentions are unsubstantial to
merit consideration.

Our Ruling

The Court grants the Petition.

In our jurisdiction, there are three kinds of action for recovery of possession of real property: 1)
ejectment (either for un]awful detainer or forcible entry) in case the dispossession has lasted for
not more than a year; 2) accion publiciona or a plenary action for recovery of real right of
possession when dispossession has lasted for more than one year; and, 3) accion
reinvindicatoria or an action for recovery of ownership.18

Pursuant to Republic Act No. 7691 (RA 7691),19 the proper Metropolitan Trial Court (Me TC),
MTC, or Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) has exclusive original jurisdiction over ejectment
cases. Moreover, jurisdiction of the MeTC, MTC, and MCTC shall include civil actions involving
title to or possession of real property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the
property does not exceed ₱20,000.00 (or ₱50,000.00 in Metro Manila),20 On the other hand, the
RTC has exclusive original jurisdiction over civil actions involving title to or possession of real
property, or any interest therein in case the assessed value of the property exceeds
₱20,000.00(or ₱50,000.00 in Metro Manila).21

Jurisdiction is thus determined not only by the type of action filed but also by the assessed value
of the property. It follows that in accion publiciana and reinvindicatoria, the assessed value of
the real property is a jurisdictional element to determine the court that can take cognizance of
the action.22

In this case, petitioner consistently insists that a) the Complaint is one for ejectment; or b) if the
same is deemed an accion publiciana, the RTC still lacks jurisdiction as the assessed value of
the subject properties was not alleged in the Complaint.

As such, to ascertain the proper court that has jurisdiction, reference must be made to the
averments in the complaint, and the law in force at the commencement of the action. This is
because only the facts alleged in the complaint can be the basis for determining the nature of
the action, and the court that can take cognizance of the case.23

Here, the pertinent portions of the Complaint read:

2. That plaintiffs [herein respondents] are the owners of two (2) parcels of land known as Lot.
No. 138-D with Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-103187 and Lot No. 138-S with Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-103189, with a total land area of 44 hectares, all of Murcia Cadastre
xxx;

3. That sometime in 1994, without the knowledge and consent of herein plaintiffs, the defendant
[herein petitioner] entered into and took possession of the aforementioned parcels of land and
planted sugar cane without paying any rental to herein plaintiffs;

4. That plaintiffs discovered the illegal entry and occupation by the defendant of the
aforementioned property and demand to vacate the property was made orally to the defendant
sometime in 1995-96 crop year but defendant refused and still refuses to vacate the premises;

5. A confrontation before the Brgy. Kapitan of Brgy[.] Cansilayan, Murcia, Negros Occidental,
and before the Pangkat Tagapag[ka]sundo between herein parties where plaintiffs again
demanded orally for the defendant to vacate the premises but defendant refused to vacate the
premises and no amicable settlement was reached during the confrontation of the parties, thus
a certificate to file action has been issued x x x;

6. That plaintiffs were barred by the defendant from entering the prope1iy of the plaintiffs for the
latter to take possession of the same and plant sugar cane thereby causing damages to the
plaintiffs;

7. That because of the refusal of the defendant to allow the plaintiffs to take possession and
control of their own property, plaintiffs were constrained to seek the aid of counsel and
consequently thereto this complaint.24

Under Section 1,25 Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, there are special jurisdictional facts that must
be set forth in the complaint to make a case for ejectment, which, as mentioned, may either be
for forcible entry or unlawful detainer.

In particular, a complaint for forcible entry must allege the plaintiff's prior physical possession of
the property; the fact that plaintiff was deprived of its possession by force, intimidation, threat,
strategy, or stealth; and the action must be filed within one year from the time the owner or the
legal possessor learned of their dispossession.26 On the other hand, a complaint for unlawful
detainer must state that the defendant is unlawfully withholding possession of the real property
after the expiration or termination of his or her right to possess it; and the complaint is filed
within a year from the time such possession became unlawful.27

In the instant case, respondents only averred in the Complaint that they are registered owners
of the subject properties, and petitioner unlawfully deprived them of its possession. They did not
assert therein that they were dispossessed of the subject properties under the circumstances
necessary to make a case of either forcible entry or unlawful detainer. Hence, in the absence of
the required jurisdictional facts, the instant action is not one for ejectment.28

Nonetheless, the Court agrees with petitioner that while this case is an accion publiciana, there
was no clear showing that the RTC has jurisdiction over it.1âwphi1

Well-settled is the rule that jurisdiction is conferred only by law. It cannot be presumed or
implied, and must distinctly appear from the law. It cannot also be vested upon a court by the
agreement of the parties; or by the court's erroneous belief that it had jurisdiction over a case.29

To emphasize, when respondents filed the Complaint in 1998, RA 7691 was already in force as
it was approved on March 25, 1994 and took effect on April 15, 1994.30 As such, it is necessary
that the assessed value of the subject properties, or its adjacent lots (if the properties are not
declared for taxation purposes)31 be alleged to ascertain which court has jurisdiction over the
case.32

As argued by petitioner, the Complaint failed to specify the assessed value of the subject
properties. Thus, it is unclear if the RTC properly acquired jurisdiction, or the MTC has
jurisdiction, over respondents' action.

Also worth noting is the fact that the RTC took cognizance of the complaint only on the
presumption that the assessed value of the proper exceeds ₱20,000.00. Aside from affirming
such presumption, the CA, in turn, declared that the RTC had jurisdiction because the parties
stipulated on it. However, as discussed, jurisdiction cam1ot be presumed. It cannot be conferred
by the agreement of the parties, or on the erroneous belief of the court that it had jurisdiction
over a case.
Indeed, in the absence of any allegation in the Complaint of the assessed value of the subject
properties, it cannot be determined which court has exclusive original jurisdiction over
respondents' Complaint. Courts cannot simply take judicial notice of the assessed value, or
even market value of the land.33 Resultantly, for lack of jurisdiction, all proceedings before the
RTC, including its decision, are void,34 which makes it unnecessary to discuss the other issues
raised by petitioner.

As a final note, while the modification of the clerical error in the dispositive portion of the CA
Decision is rendered irrelevant by the dismissal of the Complaint for lack of jurisdiction, the
Com1, nonetheless, reminds the CA and all other courts to be more circumspect in rendering
their decision, including ensuring the correctness of the information in their issuances. After all,
courts are duty-bound to render accurate decisions, or that which clearly and distinctly express
the facts and the law on which the same is based.35

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The May 28, 2012 Decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 02994 is REVERSEDand SETASIDE. Accordingly, the Complaint in Civil Case
No. 98-10187 is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

G.R. No. 202664, November 20, 2015

MANUEL LUIS C. GONZALES AND FRANCIS MARTIN D. GONZALES, Petitioners, v. GJH


LAND, INC. (FORMERLY KNOWN AS S.J. LAND, INC.), CHANG HWAN JANG A.K.A.
STEVE JANG, SANG RAK KIM, MARIECHU N. YAP, AND ATTY. ROBERTO P. MALLARI
II, Respondent.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

This is a direct recourse to the Court, via a petition for review on certiorari,1 from the Orders
dated April 17, 20122 and July 9, 20123 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Muntinlupa City,
Branch 276 (Branch 276) dismissing Civil Case No. 11-077 for lack of jurisdiction.

The Facts

On August 4, 2011, petitioners Manuel Luis C. Gonzales4 and Francis Martin D. Gonzales
(petitioners) filed a Complaint5 for "Injunction with prayer for Issuance of Status Quo Order,
Three (3) and Twenty (20)-Day Temporary Restraining Orders, and Writ of Preliminary
Injunction with Damages" against respondents GJH Land, Inc. (formerly known as S.J. Land,
Inc.), Chang Hwan Jang, Sang Rak Kim, Mariechu N. Yap, and Atty. Roberto P. Mallari
II6 (respondents) before the RTC of Muntinlupa City seeking to enjoin the sale of S.J. Land,
Inc.'s shares which they purportedly bought from S.J. Global, Inc. on February 1, 2010.
Essentially, petitioners alleged that the subscriptions for the said shares were already paid by
them in full in the books of S.J. Land, Inc.,7 but were nonetheless offered for sale on July 29,
2011 to the corporation's stockholders,8 hence, their plea for injunction.

The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 11-077 and raffled to Branch 276, which is not a
Special Commercial Court. On August 9, 2011, said branch issued a temporary restraining
order,9 and later, in an Order10 dated August 24, 2011, granted the application for a writ of
preliminary injunction.
After filing their respective answers11 to the complaint, respondents filed a motion to
dismiss12 on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, pointing out that the case
involves an intra-corporate dispute and should, thus, be heard by the designated Special
Commercial Court of Muntinlupa City.13

The RTC Ruling

In an Order14 dated April 17, 2012, Branch 276 granted the motion to dismiss filed by
respondents. It found that the case involves an intra-corporate dispute that is within the original
and exclusive jurisdiction of the RTCs designated as Special Commercial Courts. It pointed out
that the RTC of Muntinlupa City, Branch 256 (Branch 256) was specifically designated by the
Court as the Special Commercial Court, hence, Branch 276 had no jurisdiction over the case
and cannot lawfully exercise jurisdiction on the matter, including the issuance of a Writ of
Preliminary Injunction.15 Accordingly, it dismissed the case.

Dissatisfied, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration,16 arguing that they filed the case with
the Office of the Clerk of Court of the RTC of Muntinlupa City which assigned the same to
Branch 276 by raffle.17 As the raffle was beyond their control, they should not be made to suffer
the consequences of the wrong assignment of the case, especially after paying the filing fees in
the amount of P235,825.00 that would be for naught if the dismissal is upheld.18 They further
maintained that the RTC has jurisdiction over intra-corporate disputes under Republic Act No.
(RA) 8799,19 but since the Court selected specific branches to hear and decide such suits, the
case must, at most, be transferred or raffled off to the proper branch.20

In an Order21 dated July 9, 2012, Branch 276 denied the motion for reconsideration, holding that
it has no authority or power to order the transfer of the case to the proper Special Commercial
Court, citing Calleja v. Panday22 (Calleja); hence, the present petition.

The Issue Before the Court

The essential issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not Branch 276 of the RTC of
Muntinlupa City erred in dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.

The Court's Ruling

The petition is meritorious.

At the outset, the Court finds Branch 276 to have correctly categorized Civil Case No. 11-077 as
a commercial case, more particularly, an intra-corporate dispute,23 considering that it relates to
petitioners' averred rights over the shares of stock offered for sale to other stockholders, having
paid the same in full. Applying the relationship test and the nature of the controversy test, the
suit between the parties is clearly rooted in the existence of an intra-corporate relationship and
pertains to the enforcement of their correlative rights and obligations under the Corporation
Code and the internal and intra-corporate regulatory rules of the corporation,24 hence, intra-
corporate, which should be heard by the designated Special Commercial Court as provided
under A.M. No. 03-03-03-SC25 dated June 17, 2003 in relation to Item 5.2, Section 5 of RA
8799.

The present controversy lies, however, in the procedure to be followed when a commercial
case - such as the instant intra-corporate dispute -has been properly filed in the official
station of the designated Special Commercial Court but is, however, later wrongly
assigned by raffle to a regular branch of that station.
As a basic premise, let it be emphasized that a court's acquisition of jurisdiction over a particular
case's subject matter is different from incidents pertaining to the exercise of its jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law, whereas a court's exercise
of jurisdiction, unless provided by the law itself, is governed by the Rules of Court or by the
orders issued from time to time by the Court.26 In Lozada v. Bracewell,27 it was recently held
that the matter of whether the RTC resolves an issue in the exercise of its general
jurisdiction or of its limited jurisdiction as a special court is only a matter of procedure
and has nothing to do with the question of jurisdiction.

Pertinent to this case is RA 8799 which took effect on August 8, 2000. By virtue of said law,
jurisdiction over cases enumerated in Section 528 of Presidential Decree No. 902-A29 was
transferred from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to the RTCs, being courts of
general jurisdiction. Item 5.2, Section 5 of RA 8799 provides:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

SEC. 5. Powers and Functionsof the Commission. - x x x

xxxx

5.2 The Commission's jurisdiction over all cases enumerated under Section 5 of
Presidential Decree No. 902-A is hereby transferred to the Courts of general jurisdiction
or the appropriate Regional Trial Court: Provided, that the Supreme Court in the exercise
of its authority may designate the Regional Trial Court branches that shall exercise
jurisdiction over the cases. The Commission shall retain jurisdiction over pending cases
involving intra-corporate disputes submitted for final resolution which should be resolved within
one (1) year from the enactment of this Code. The Commission shall retain jurisdiction over
pending suspension of payments/rehabilitation cases filed as of 30 June 2000 until finally
disposed. (Emphasis supplied)cralawlawlibrary

The legal attribution of Regional Trial Courts as courts of general jurisdiction stems from
Section 19 (6), Chapter II of Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP) 129,30 known as "The Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980":chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Section 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases.- Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
jurisdiction:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

xxxx

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

As enunciated in Durisol Philippines, Inc. v. CA:31chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The regional trial court, formerly the court of first instance, is a court of general jurisdiction. All
cases, the jurisdiction over which is not specifically provided for by law to be within the
jurisdiction of any other court, fall under the jurisdiction of the regional trial
court.32ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
cralawlawlibrary

To clarify, the word "or" in Item 5.2, Section 5 of RA 8799 was intentionally used by the
legislature to particularize the fact that the phrase "the Courts of general jurisdiction" is
equivalent to the phrase "the appropriate Regional Trial Court." In other words, the jurisdiction of
the SEC over the cases enumerated under Section 5 of PD 902-A was transferred to the courts
of general jurisdiction, that is to say (or, otherwise known as), the proper Regional Trial Courts.
This interpretation is supported by San Miguel Corp. v. Municipal Council,33 wherein the Court
held that:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

[T]he word "or" may be used as the equivalent of "that is to say" and gives that which precedes
it the same significance as that which follows it. It is not always disjunctive and is sometimes
interpretative or expository of the preceding word.34cralawlawlibrary

Further, as may be gleaned from the following excerpt of the Congressional


deliberations:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Senator [Raul S.] Roco: x x x.

xxxx

x x x. The first major departure is as regards the Securities and Exchange Commission. The
Securities and Exchange Commission has been authorized under this proposal to reorganize
itself. As an administrative agency, we strengthened it and at the same time we take away the
quasi-judicial functions. The quasi-judicial functions are now given back to the courts of
general jurisdiction - the Regional Trial Court, except for two categories of cases.

In the case of corporate disputes, only those that are now submitted for final determination of
the SEC will remain with the SEC. So, all those cases, both memos of the plaintiff and the
defendant, that have been submitted for resolution will continue. At the same time, cases
involving rehabilitation, bankruptcy, suspension of payments and receiverships that were filed
before June 30, 2000 will continue with the SEC. in other words, we are avoiding the possibility,
upon approval of this bill, of people filing cases with the SEC, in manner of speaking, to select
their court.35

x x x x (Emphasis supplied)cralawlawlibrary

Therefore, one must be disabused of the notion that the transfer of jurisdiction was made only in
favor of particular RTC branches, and not the RTCs in general.

Consistent with the foregoing, history depicts that when the transfer of SEC cases to the RTCs
was first implemented, they were transmitted to the Executive Judges of the RTCs for raffle
between or among its different branches, unless a specific branch has been designated as a
Special Commercial Court, in which instance, the cases were transmitted to said
branch.36 It was only on November 21, 2000 that the Court designated certain RTC branches to
try and decide said SEC cases37 without, however, providing for the transfer of the cases
already distributed to or filed with the regular branches thereof. Thus, on January 23, 2001, the
Court issued SC Administrative Circular No. 08-200138 directing the transfer of said cases to the
designated courts (commercial SEC courts). Later, or on June 17, 2003, the Court issued A.M.
No. 03-03-03-SC consolidating the commercial SEC courts and the intellectual property
courts39 in one RTC branch in a particular locality, i.e., the Special Commercial Court, to
streamline the court structure and to promote expediency.40 Accordingly, the RTC branch
so designated was mandated to try and decide SEC cases, as well as those involving violations
of intellectual property rights, which were, thereupon, required to be filed in the Office of the
Clerk of Court in the official station of the designated Special Commercial Courts, to
wit:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

1. The Regional Courts previously designated as SEC Courts through the: (a) Resolutions of
this Court dated 21 November 2000, 4 July 2001, 12 November 2002, and 9 July 2002 all
issued in A.M. No. 00-11-03-SC; (b) Resolution dated 27 August 2001 in A.M. No. 01-5-298-
RTC; and (c) Resolution dated 8 July 2002 in A.M. No. 01-12-656-RTC are hereby
DESIGNATED and shall be CALLED as Special Commercial Courts to try and decide cases
involving violations of Intellectual Property Rights which fall within their jurisdiction and those
cases formerly cognizable by the Securities and Exchange
Commission:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

xxxx

4. The Special Commercial Courts shall have jurisdiction over cases arising within their
respective territorial jurisdiction with respect to the National Capital Judicial Region and within
the respective provinces with respect to the First to Twelfth Judicial Regions. Thus, cases shall
be filed in the Office of the Clerk of Court in the official station of the designated Special
Commercial Court;41

x x x x (Underscoring supplied)cralawlawlibrary

It is important to mention that the Court's designation of Special Commercial Courts was made
in line with its constitutional authority to supervise the administration of all courts as provided
under Section 6, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Section 6. The Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision over all courts and the
personnel thereof.cralawlawlibrary

The objective behind the designation of such specialized courts is to promote expediency and
efficiency in the exercise of the RTCs' jurisdiction over the cases enumerated under Section
5 of PD 902-A. Such designation has nothing to do with the statutory conferment of jurisdiction
to all RTCs under RA 8799 since in the first place, the Court cannot enlarge, diminish, or dictate
when jurisdiction shall be removed, given that the power to define, prescribe, and apportion
jurisdiction is, as a general rule, a matter of legislative prerogative.42 Section 2, Article VIII
of the 1987 Constitution provides:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to define, prescribe, and apportion the
jurisdiction of the various courts but may not deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over
cases enumerated in Section 5 hereof.

xxxx
cralawlawlibrary

Here, petitioners filed a commercial case, i.e., an intra-corporate dispute, with the Office of the
Clerk of Court in the RTC of Muntinlupa City, which is the official station of the designated
Special Commercial Court, in accordance with A.M. No. 03-03-03-SC. It is, therefore, from the
time of such filing that the RTC of Muntinlupa City acquired jurisdiction over the subject
matter or the nature of the action.43 Unfortunately, the commercial case was wrongly
raffled to a regular branch, e.g., Branch 276, instead of being assigned44to the sole
Special Commercial Court in the RTC of Muntinlupa City, which is Branch 256. This error
may have been caused by a reliance on the complaint's caption, i.e., "Civil Case for Injunction
with prayer for Status Quo Order, TRO and Damages,"45 which, however, contradicts and more
importantly, cannot prevail over its actual allegations that clearly make out an intra-corporate
dispute:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

16. To the surprise of MLCG and FMDG, however, in two identical letters both dated 13 May
2011, under the letterhead of GJH Land, Inc., Yap, now acting as its President, Jang and Kim
demanded payment of supposed unpaid subscriptions of MLCG and FMDG amounting to
P10,899,854.30 and P2,625,249.41, respectively.
16.1 Copies of the letters dated 13 May 2011 are attached hereto and made integral parts
hereof as Annexes "J" and "K", repectively.
17. On 29 July 2011, MLCG and FMDG received an Offer Letter addressed to stockholders of
GJH Land, Inc. from Yap informing all stockholders that GJH Land, Inc. is now offering for sale
the unpaid shares of stock of MLCG and FMDG. The same letter states that the offers to
purchase these shares will be opened on 10 August 2011 with payments to be arranged by
deposit to the depository bank of GJH Land, Inc.
17.1 A copy of the undated Offer Letter is attached hereto and made and made an integral part
hereof as Annex "L".
18. The letter of GJH Land, Inc. through Yap, is totally without legal and factual basis because
as evidenced by the Deeds of Assignment signed and certified by Yap herself, all the S.J. Land,
Inc. shares acquired by MLCG and FMDG have been fully paid in the books of S.J. Land, Inc.

19. With the impending sale of the alleged unpaid subscriptions on 10 August 2011, there is
now a clear danger that MLCG and FMDG would be deprived of these shares without
legal and factual basis.

20. Furthermore, if they are deprived of these shares through the scheduled sale, both MLCG
and FMDG would suffer grave and irreparable damage incapable of pecuniary estimation.

21. For this reason, plaintiffs now come to the Honorable Court for injunctive relief so that after
trial on the merits, a permanent injunction should be issued against the defendants preventing
them from selling the shares of the plaintiffs, there being no basis for such
sale.46cralawlawlibrary

According to jurisprudence, "it is not the caption but the allegations in the complaint or other
initiatory pleading which give meaning to the pleading and on the basis of which such pleading
may be legally characterized."47 However, so as to avert any future confusion, the Court
requires henceforth, that all initiatory pleadings state the action's nature both in its caption and
the body, which parameters are defined in the dispositive portion of this Decision.

Going back to the case at bar, the Court nonetheless deems that the erroneous raffling to a
regular branch instead of to a Special Commercial Court is only a matter of procedure - that is,
an incident related to the exercise of jurisdiction - and, thus, should not negate the jurisdiction
which the RTC of Muntinlupa City had already acquired. In such a scenario, the proper course
of action was not for the commercial case to be dismissed; instead, Branch 276 should have
first referred the case to the Executive Judge for re-docketing as a commercial case;
thereafter, the Executive Judge should then assign said case to the only designated
Special Commercial Court in the station, i.e.,Branch 256.

Note that the procedure would be different where the RTC acquiring jurisdiction over the case
has multiple special commercial court branches; in such a scenario, the Executive Judge,
after re-docketing the same as a commercial case, should proceed to order its re-raffling
among the said special branches.

Meanwhile, if the RTC acquiring jurisdiction has no branch designated as a Special


Commercial Court, then it should refer the case to the nearest RTC with a designated Special
Commercial Court branch within the judicial region.48 Upon referral, the RTC to which the case
was referred to should re-docket the case as a commercial case, and then: (a) if the said RTC
has only one branch designated as a Special Commercial Court, assign the case to the sole
special branch; or (b) if the said RTC has multiple branches designated as Special Commercial
Courts, raffle off the case among those special branches.

In all the above-mentioned scenarios, any difference regarding the applicable docket fees
should be duly accounted for. On the other hand, all docket fees already paid shall be duly
credited, and any excess, refunded.

At this juncture, the Court finds it fitting to clarify that the RTC mistakenly relied on
the Calleja case to support its ruling. In Calleja, an intra-corporate dispute49 among officers of a
private corporation with principal address at Goa, Camarines Sur, was filed with the RTC of San
Jose, Camarines Sur, Branch 58 instead of the RTC of Naga City, which is the official station of
the designated Special Commercial Court for Camarines Sur. Consequently, the Court set aside
the RTC of San Jose, Camarines Sur's order to transfer the case to the RTC of Naga City and
dismissed the complaint considering that it was filed before a court which, having no internal
branch designated as a Special Commercial Court, had no jurisdiction over those kinds of
actions, i.e., intra-corporate disputes. Calleja involved two different RTCs, i.e., the RTC of
San Jose, Camarines Sur and the RTC of Naga City, whereas the instant case only involves
one RTC, i.e., the RTC of Muntinlupa City, albeit involving two different branches of the same
court, i.e.,Branches 256 and 276. Hence, owing to the variance in the facts attending, it was
then improper for the RTC to rely on the Calleja ruling.

Besides, the Court observes that the fine line that distinguishes subject matter jurisdiction and
exercise of jurisdiction had been clearly blurred in Calleja. Harkening back to the statute that
had conferred subject matter jurisdiction, two things are apparently clear: (a) that the
SEC's subject matter jurisdiction over intra-corporate cases under Section 5 of Presidential
Decree No. 902-A was transferred to the Courts of general jurisdiction, i.e., the appropriate
Regional Trial Courts; and (b) the designated branches of the Regional Trial Court, as per the
rules promulgated by the Supreme Court, shall exercise jurisdiction over such cases. Item
5.2, Section 5 of RA 8799 provides:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

SEC. 5. Powers and Functions of the Commission. - x x x

xxxx

5.2 The Commission's jurisdiction over all cases enumerated under Section 5 of
Presidential Decree No. 902-A is hereby transferred to the Courts of general jurisdiction
or the appropriate Regional Trial Court: Provided, that the Supreme Court in the exercise
of its authority may designate the Regional Trial Court branches that shall exercise
jurisdiction over the cases, x x x.cralawlawlibrary

In contrast, the appropriate jurisprudential reference to this case would be Tan v. Bausch &
Lomb, Inc.,50which involves a criminal complaint for violation of intellectual property rights filed
before the RTC of Cebu City but was raffled to a regular branch thereof (Branch 21), and not to
a Special Commercial Court. As it turned out, the regular branch subsequently denied the
private complainant's motion to transfer the case to the designated special court of the same
RTC, on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. The CA reversed the regular branch and,
consequently, ordered the transfer of the case to the designated special court at that time
(Branch 9). The Court, affirming the CA, declared that the RTC had acquired jurisdiction over
the subject matter. In view, however, of the designation of another court as the Special
Commercial Court in the interim (Branch 11 of the same Cebu City RTC), the Court accordingly
ordered the transfer of the case and the transmittal of the records to said Special Commercial
Court instead.51Similarly, the transfer of the present intra-corporate dispute from Branch
276 to Branch 256 of the same RTC of Muntinlupa City, subject to the parameters above-
discussed is proper and will further the purposes stated in A.M. No. 03-03-03-SC of
attaining a speedy and efficient administration of justice.

For further guidance, the Court finds it apt to point out that the same principles apply to the
inverse situation of ordinary civil cases filed before the proper RTCs but wrongly raffled
to its branches designated as Special Commercial Courts. In such a scenario, the ordinary
civil case should then be referred to the Executive Judge for re-docketing as an ordinary
civil case; thereafter, the Executive Judge should then order the raffling of the case to all
branches of the same RTC, subject to limitations under existing internal rules, and the
payment of the correct docket fees in case of any difference. Unlike the limited
assignment/raffling of a commercial case only to branches designated as Special Commercial
Courts in the scenarios stated above, the re-raffling of an ordinary civil case in this instance to
all courts is permissible due to the fact that a particular branch which has been designated as a
Special Commercial Court does not shed the RTC's general jurisdiction over ordinary civil cases
under the imprimatur of statutory law, i.e., Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP) 129.52To restate, the
designation of Special Commercial Courts was merely intended as a procedural tool to expedite
the resolution of commercial cases in line with the court's exercise of jurisdiction. This
designation was not made by statute but only by an internal Supreme Court rule under its
authority to promulgate rules governing matters of procedure and its constitutional mandate to
supervise the administration of all courts and the personnel thereof.53 Certainly, an internal rule
promulgated by the Court cannot go beyond the commanding statute. But as a more
fundamental reason, the designation of Special Commercial Courts is, to stress, merely an
incident related to the court's exercise of jurisdiction, which, as first discussed, is distinct from
the concept of jurisdiction over the subject matter. The RTC's general jurisdiction over ordinary
civil cases is therefore not abdicated by an internal rule streamlining court procedure.

In fine, Branch 276's dismissal of Civil Case No. 11-077 is set aside and the transfer of said
case to Branch 256, the designated Special Commercial Court of the same RTC of Muntinlupa
City, under the parameters above-explained, is hereby ordered.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Orders dated April 17, 2012 and July 9, 2012 of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Muntinlupa City, Branch 276 in Civil Case No. 11-077 are
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Civil Case No. 11-077 is REFERRED to the Executive
Judge of the RTC of Muntinlupa City for re-docketing as a commercial case. Thereafter, the
Executive Judge shall ASSIGNsaid case to Branch 256, the sole designated Special
Commercial Court in the RTC of Muntinlupa City, which is ORDERED to resolve the case with
reasonable dispatch. In this regard, the Clerk of Court of said RTC shall DETERMINE the
appropriate amount of docket fees and, in so doing, ORDER the payment of any difference or,
on the other hand, refund any excess.

Furthermore, the Court hereby RESOLVES that henceforth, the following guidelines shall be
observed:
1. If a commercial case filed before the proper RTC is wrongly raffled to its regular branch, the
proper courses of action are as follows:
1.1 If the RTC has only one branch designated as a Special Commercial Court, then the case
shall be referred to the Executive Judge for re-docketing as a commercial case, and thereafter,
assigned to the sole special branch;

1.2 If the RTC has multiple branches designated as Special Commercial Courts, then the case
shall be referred to the Executive Judge for re-docketing as a commercial case, and thereafter,
raffled off among those special branches; and

1.3 If the RTC has no internal branch designated as a Special Commercial Court, then the case
shall be referred to the nearest RTC with a designated Special Commercial Court branch within
the judicial region. Upon referral, the RTC to which the case was referred to should re- docket
the case as a commercial case, and then: (a) if the said RTC has only one branch designated
as a Special Commercial Court, assign the case to the sole special branch; or (b) if the said
RTC has multiple branches designated as Special Commercial Courts, raffle off the case among
those special branches.
2. If an ordinary civil case filed before the proper RTC is wrongly raffled to its branch designated
as a Special Commercial Court, then the case shall be referred to the Executive Judge for re-
docketing as an ordinary civil case. Thereafter, it shall be raffled off to all courts of the same
RTC (including its designated special branches which, by statute, are equally capable of
exercising general jurisdiction same as regular branches), as provided for under existing rules.

3. All transfer/raffle of cases is subject to the payment of the appropriate docket fees in case of
any difference. On the other hand, all docket fees already paid shall be duly credited, and any
excess, refunded.

4. Finally, to avert any future confusion, the Court requires that all initiatory pleadings state the
action's nature both in its caption and body. Otherwise, the initiatory pleading may, upon motion
or by order of the court motu proprio, be dismissed without prejudice to its re-filing after due
rectification. This last procedural rule is prospective in application.

5. All existing rules inconsistent with the foregoing are deemed superseded.cralawlawlibrary

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J. Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Villarama,
Jr., Reyes, and Jardeleza, JJ., concur.
Leonardo-De Castro, J., I concur in the result. I subscribe to the ruling in the Calleja case that
the misfiling of a commercial case with a court not duly designated Special Commercial Court is
an error of jurisdiction. However the Supreme Court has constitutional and legal basis [RA
8799] to promulgated the guidelines here for future cases.
Brion, and Mendoza, JJ., on leave.
Perez, J., I submitted a dissenting opinion.
Leonen, J., see concurring opinion.

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 203678, February 17, 2016

CONCORDE CONDOMINIUM, INC., BY ITSELF AND COMPRISING THE UNIT OWNERS OF


CONCORDE CONDOMINIUM BUILDING, Petitioner, v. AUGUSTO H. BACULIO; NEW PPI
CORPORATION; ASIAN SECURITY AND INVESTIGATION AGENCY AND ITS SECURITY
GUARDS; ENGR. NELSON B. MORALES, IN HIS CAPACITY AS BUILDING OFFICIAL OF
THE MAKATI CITY ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT; SUPT. RICARDO C. PERDIGON, IN HIS
CAPACITY AS CITY FIRE MARSHAL OF THE MAKATI CITY FIRE STATION; F/C SUPT.
SANTIAGO E. LAGUNA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU
OF FIRE PROTECTION-NCR, AND ANY AND ALL PERSONS ACTING WITH OR UNDER
THEM, Respondents.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

This resolves the Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking
to reverse and set aside the Order dated June 28, 2012 and Resolution dated September 20,
2012 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 149,1 which dismissed Civil Case
No. 12-309 for Injunction with Damages for lack of jurisdiction.

The antecedent facts are as follows:


On April 16, 2012, petitioner Concorde Condominium, Inc., by itself and comprising the Unit
Owners of Concorde Condominium Building, {petitioner) filed with the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Makati City a Petition for Injunction [with Damages with prayer for the issuance of a
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), Writ of Preliminary (Prohibitory) Injunction, and Writ of
Preliminary Mandatory Injunction] against respondents New PPI Corporation and its President
Augusto H. Baculio; Asian Security and Investigation Agency and its security guards, Engr.
Nelson B. Morales in his capacity as Building Official of the Makati City Engineering
Department; Supt. Ricardo C. Perdigon in his capacity as City Fire Marshal of the Makati City
Fire Station; F/C Supt. Santiago E. Laguna, in his capacity as Regional Director of the Bureau of
Fire Protection - NCR, and any and all persons acting with or under them (respondents).

Petitioner seeks (1) to enjoin respondents Baculio and New PPI Corporation from
misrepresenting to the public, as well as to private and government offices/agencies, that they
are the owners of the disputed lots and Concorde Condominium Building, and from pushing for
the demolition of the building which they do not even own; (2) to prevent respondent Asian
Security and Investigation Agency from deploying its security guards within the perimeter of the
said building; and (3) to restrain respondents Engr. Morales, Supt. Perdigon and F/C Supt.
Laguna from responding to and acting upon the letters being sent by Baculio, who is a mere
impostor and has no legal personality with regard to matters concerning the revocation of
building and occupancy permits, and the fire safety issues of the same building. It also prays to
hold respondents solidarily liable for actual damages, moral damages, exemplary damages,
attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs of suit.

The case was docketed as Civil Case No. No. 12-309 and raffled to the Makati RTC, Branch
149, which was designated as a Special Commercial Court.2

On April 24, 2012, the RTC called the case for hearing to determine the propriety of issuing a
TRO, during which one Mary Jane Prieto testified and identified some documents. While she
was undergoing cross-examination by a counsel from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)
relative to the fire deficiencies of petitioner's building, the RTC interrupted her testimony to find
a better solution to the problem, and issued an Order which reads:

Wherefore, this court ordered Supt. Ricardo C. Perdigon, Fire Marshal of Makati City, to conduct
an inspection of Concorde Condominium Building. He is hereby ordered to submit a report on
his investigation not later than 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon tomorrow.

In the same manner, the Building Official of Makati City, being represented by Atty. Fabio is also
hereby ordered to conduct an investigation on the status of the said building to ascertain
whether it [is] still structurally sound to stand. Such report shall be submitted to this court not
later than 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon tomorrow.

If the report of the Building Official is negative, the unit owners of the condominium will be given
the opportunity to be heard on whether to condemn the building or not.

In the same manner, the alleged owner of the land, who should have transferred it to the
condominium corporation once the latter was created, and it appears that it was not complied
with, they are also given the opportunity to get their own structural engineer to ascertain the
structural soundness of the building. Afterwhich, the court will issue the necessary order
whether to condemn or not the building and the President of the condominium corporation has
acceded to such undertaking because that's the only way how to give them fair play and be
heard on their right as condominium owner of Concorde Building located at 200 Benavidez
corner Salcedo Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati City.

The President of the condominium corporation is hereby given, if there is still a chance to repair,
four (4) months from April 30, 2012 or up to August 30, 2012 to remedy all those problems
and/or deficiencies of the building.

The other parties are hereby enjoined not to threaten, interfere or molest the condominium unit
owners of said building. Any other party, including the herein parties, who will obstruct the
smooth implementation of this Order, is already considered to have committed a direct contempt
of the order of the court.

Let the continuation of the testimony of Ms. Mary Jane Prieto be set on September 17, 2012 at
8:30 in the morning.

SO ORDERED.3ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Meanwhile, respondents Baculio and New PPI Corporation filed an Urgent Motion to Re-Raffle
dated April 25, 2012, claiming that it is a regular court, not a Special Commercial Court, which
has jurisdiction over the case.

In an Order dated April 26, 2012, the RTC denied the motion to re-raffle on the ground of failure
to comply with Sections 44 and 55 of Rule 15 of the Rules of Court.

In their Motion to Vacate Order and Motion to Dismiss dated May 8, 2012, respondents Baculio
and New PP1 Corporation assailed the RTC Order dated April 24, 2012, stating that the case is
beyond its jurisdiction as a Special Commercial Court. Respondents claimed that the petition
seeks to restrain or compel certain individuals and government officials to stop doing or
performing particular acts, and that there is no showing that the case involves a matter
embraced in Section 5 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 902-A, which enumerates the cases
over which the SEC [now the RTC acting as Special Commercial Court pursuant to Republic Act
(R.A.) No. 8799] exercises exclusive jurisdiction. They added that petitioner failed to exhaust
administrative remedies, which is a condition precedent before filing the said petition.

In an Order dated June 28, 2012, the RTC dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. It noted
that by petitioner's own allegations and admissions, respondents Baculio and New PPI
Corporation are not owners of the two subject lots and the building. Due to the absence of intra-
corporate relations between the parties, it ruled that the case does not involve an intra-corporate
controversy cognizable by it sitting as a Special Commercial Court. It also held that there is no
more necessity to discuss the other issues raised in the motion to dismiss, as well as the motion
to vacate order, for lack of jurisdiction over the case.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order dated June 28, 2012, which the RTC
denied for lack of merit.6 Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.

Petitioner raises a sole question of law in support of its petition:

A.

THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT COMMITTED A MANIFEST ERROR OF LAW AND ACTED IN
A MANNER CONTRARY TO LAW AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE IN DISMISSING
THE PETITION ON THE GROUND OF LACK OF JURISDICTION.7ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Petitioner contends that its petition for injunction with damages is an ordinary civil case correctly
filed with the RTC which has jurisdiction over actions where the subject matter is incapable of
pecuniary estimation. However, petitioner claims that through no fault on its part, the petition
was raffled to Branch 149 of the Makati RTC, a designated Special Commercial Court tasked to
hear intra-corporate disputes.
Petitioner notes that R.A. 8799 merely transferred the Securities and Exchange Commission's
jurisdiction over cases enumerated under Section 5 of P.D. No. 902-A to the courts of general
jurisdiction or the appropriate Regional Trial Court, and that there is nothing in R.A. 8799 or in
A.M. No. 00-11 -03-SC which would limit or diminish the jurisdiction of those RTCs designated
as Special Commercial Courts. Petitioner stresses that such courts shall continue to participate
in the raffle of other cases, pursuant to OCA Circular No. 82-2003 on Consolidation of
Intellectual Property Courts with Commercial Court. It insists that for purposes of determining
the jurisdiction of the RTC, the different branches thereof (in case of a multiple sala court)
should not be taken as a separate or compartmentalized unit. It, thus, concludes that the
designation by the Supreme Court of Branch 149 as a Special Commercial Court did not divest
it of its power as a court of general jurisdiction.

Petitioner also submits that prior to the issuance of the Order setting the case for hearing on
April 24, 2012, the Presiding Judge of Branch 149 had already determined from the averments
in the petition that it is an ordinary civil action and not an intra-corporate matter; thus, he should
have referred it back to the Executive Judge or the Office of the Clerk of Court for re-raffle to
other branches of the RTC, instead of calendaring it for hearing or dismissing it.

For public respondents Superintendent Ricardo C. Pedrigon and Fire Chief Superintendent
Santiago E. Laguna, the OSG avers that the petition for review on certiorari should be denied
for lack of merit. It points out that petitioner foiled to exhaust administrative remedies, i.e.,
appeal the revocation of the building and occupancy permits with the Department of Public
Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary, pursuant to Section 307 of the National Building Code
(Presidential Decree No. 1096); hence, the filing of a petition for injunction with damages is
premature and immediately dismissible for lack of cause of action.

The OSG further argues that even if the case is remanded back to the RTC, the same will not
prosper due to procedural and substantive defects, and will only further clog the trial court's
dockets, for the following reasons: (1) petitioner failed to implead an indispensable party,
namely, the DPWH Secretary to whom the power to reinstate the building permit and the
occupancy permit is lodged; (2) with regard to the occupancy permit and the "water sprinkler"
clearance, they cannot be issued without a building permit; and (3) the said clearance cannot
also be issued due to lack of certification from either the Building Official or Tandem, the
structural engineers personally hired by petition, that the structural integrity of Concorde
Condominium Building can withstand the necessary damage and load that would be caused by
the installation of the water sprinkler system.

For their part, respondents Baculio and New PPI Corporation aver that the petition filed before
the RTC should be dismissed for lack of proper verification. They likewise assert that Branch
149 has no jurisdiction over the same petition because (1) such case is not an intra-corporate
controversy; (2) petitioner failed to exhaust administrative remedies which is a condition
precedent before filing such case; (3) the subject building is a threat to the safety of members of
petitioner themselves and of the public in general; (4) the two lots allegedly owned by petitioner
are both registered in the name of New PPI Corporation; and (5) the engineering firm hired by
petitioner could not even guarantee the building's structural capacity.

Meanwhile, respondent Asian Security & Investigation Agency claims that petitioner's
allegations against it are already moot and academic because it had already terminated its
security contract with respondents New PPI Corporation and Baculio, and pulled out its guards
from petitioner's premises. At any rate, it manifests that it is adopting as part of its Comment the
said respondents' Comment/Opposition to the petition for review on certiorari.

Respondent Office of the Building Official of Makati City, represented by Engineer Mario V.
Badillo, likewise contends that the petition for review on certiorari should be dismissed for these
reasons: (1) that petitioner failed to exhaust administrative remedies which is a mandatory
requirement before filing the case with the RTC of Makati City; (2) that Branch 149, as a Special
Commercial Court, has jurisdiction over the said case because it is not an intra-corporate
controversy; and (3) petitioner's building is old and dilapidated, and ocular inspections
conducted show that several violations of the National Building Code were not corrected,
despite several demands and extensions made by the Building Official.

The petition is impressed with merit.

In resolving the issue of whether Branch 149 of the Makati RTC, a designated Special
Commercial Court, erred in dismissing the petition for injunction with damages for lack of
jurisdiction over the subject matter, the Court is guided by the rule "that jurisdiction over the
subject matter of a case is conferred by law and determined by the allegations in the complaint
which comprise a concise statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiffs cause of
action. The nature of an action, as well as which court or body has jurisdiction over it, is
determined based on the allegations contained in the complaint of the plaintiff, irrespective of
whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein.
The averments in the complaint and the character of the relief sought are the ones to be
consulted. Once vested by the allegations in the complaint, jurisdiction also remains vested
irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims
asserted therein."8

As a rule, actions for injunction and damages lie within the jurisdiction of the RTC, pursuant to
Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise known as the judiciary Reorganization Act of
1980, as amended by R.A. 7691:9

Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
jurisdiction:

(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigations is incapable of pecuniary estimation;

xxxx

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

xxxx

(8) In all other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind,
attorney's fees, litigation expenses, and costs or the value of the property in controversy
exceeds Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00) or, in such other cases in Metro Manila,
where the demand exclusive of the above-mentioned items exceeds Four hundred thousand
pesos (P400,000.00).

Meanwhile, Section 6 (a) of P.D. No. 902-A empowered the SEC to issue preliminary or
permanent injunctions, whether prohibitory or mandatory, in all cases in which it exercises
original and exclusive jurisdiction,10 to wit:

(a) Devices or schemes employed by or any acts, of the board of directors, business associates,
its officers or partnership, amounting to fraud and misrepresentation which may be detrimental
to the interest of the public and/or of the stockholder, partners, members of associations or
organizations registered with the Commission;

(b) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership relations, between and among
stockholders, members or associates; between any or all of them and the corporation,
partnership or association of which they are stockholders, members or associates, respectively;
and between such corporation, partnership or association and the state insofar as it concerns
their individual franchise or right to exist as such entity; and

(c) Controversies in the election or appointments of directors, trustees, officers or managers of


such corporations, partnerships or associations.11

However, jurisdiction of the SEC over intra-corporate cases was transferred to Courts of general
jurisdiction or the appropriate Regional Trial Court when R.A. No. 8799 took effect on August 8,
2000. Section 5.2 of R.A. No. 8799 provides:

SEC. 5.2 The Commission's jurisdiction over all cases enumerated under Section 5 of
Presidential Decree No. 902-A is hereby transferred to the Courts of general jurisdiction or the
appropriate Regional Trial Court: Provided, that the Supreme Court in the exercise of its
authority may designate the Regional Trial Court branches that shall exercise jurisdiction over
these cases. The Commission shall retain jurisdiction over pending cases involving intra-
corporate disputes submitted for final resolution which should be resolved within one (1) year
from the enactment of this Code. The Commission shall retain jurisdiction over pending
suspension of payments/rehabilitation cases filed as of 30 June 2000 until finally disposed.

In GD Express Worldwide N. V., et al. v. Court of Appeals (4th Div.) et al,12 the Court stressed
that Special Commercial Courts are still considered courts of general jurisdiction which have the
power to hear and decide cases of all nature, whether civil, criminal or special proceedings,
thus:

xxx Section 5.2 of R.A. No. 8799 directs merely the Supreme Court's designation of RTC
branches that shall exercise jurisdiction over intra-corporate disputes. Nothing in the language
of the law suggests the diminution of jurisdiction of those RTCs to be designated as SCCs. The
assignment of intra-corporate disputes to SCCs is only for the purpose of streamlining the
workload of the RTCs so that certain branches thereof like the SCCs can focus only on a
particular subject matter.

The designation of certain RTC branches to handle specific cases is nothing new. For instance,
pursuant to the provisions of R.A. No. 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, the
Supreme Court has assigned certain RTC branches to hear and decide cases under Sections
56 and 57 of R.A. No. 6657.

The RTC exercising jurisdiction over an intra-corporate dispute can be likened to an RTC
exercising its probate jurisdiction or sitting as a special agrarian court. The designation of the
SCCs as such has not in any way limited their jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of all nature,
whether civil, criminal or special proceedings.13

In Manuel Luis C. Gonzales and Francis Martin D. Gonzales v. GJH Land, Inc. (formerly known
as S.J. Land Inc.), Chang Hwan Jang a.k.a. Steve Jang, Sang Rak Kim, Mariechu N. Yap and
Atty. Roberto P. Mallari II,14 the Court en banc, voting 12-1,15 explained why transfer of
jurisdiction over cases enumerated in Section 5 of P.D. 902-A was made to the RTCs in
general, and not only in favor of particular RTC branches (Special Commercial Courts), to wit:

As a basic premise, let it be emphasized that a court's acquisition of jurisdiction over a particular
case's subject matter is different from incidents pertaining to the exercise of its jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law, whereas a court's exercise
of jurisdiction, unless provided by the law itself, is governed by the Rules of Court or by the
orders issued from time to time by the Court. In Lozada v. Bracewell, it was recently held
that the matter of whether the RTC resolves an issue in the exercise of its general
jurisdiction or of its limited jurisdiction as a special court is only a matter of procedure
and has nothing to do with the question of jurisdiction.

Pertinent to this case is RA 8799 which took effect on August 8, 2000. By virtue of said law,
jurisdiction over cases enumerated in Section 5 of Presidential Decree No. 902-A was
transferred from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to the RTCs, being courts of
general jurisdiction. Item 5.2, Section 5 of RA 8799 provides:

SEC. 5. Powers and Functions of the Commission. -

xxxx

5.2 The Commission's jurisdiction over all cases enumerated under Section 5 of
Presidential Decree No. 902-A is hereby transferred to the Courts of general jurisdiction
or the appropriate Regional Trial Court: Provided, that the Supreme Court in the exercise
of its authority may designate the Regional Trial Court branches that shall exercise
jurisdiction over the cases. The Commission shall retain jurisdiction over pending cases
involving intra-corporate disputes submitted for final resolution which should be resolved within
one (1) year from the enactment of this code. The Commission shall retain jurisdiction over
pending suspension of payment/rehabilitation cases filed as of 30 June 2000 until finally
disposed. (Emphasis supplied)

The legal attribution of Regional Trial Court as courts of general jurisdiction stems from
Section 19 (6) Chapter II of Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP) 129, known as "The Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980:"

Section 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. - Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
jurisdiction:

xxxx

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

As enunciated in Durisol Philippines, Inc. v. CA:

The regional trial court, formerly the court of first instance, is a court of general jurisdiction. All
cases, the jurisdiction over which is not specifically provided for by law to be within the
jurisdiction of any other court, fall under the jurisdiction of the regional trial court.

To clarify, the word "or" in Item 5.2, Section 5 of RA 8799 was intentionally used by the
legislature to particularize the fact that the phrase "the Courts of general jurisdiction" is
equivalent to the phrase "the appropriate Regional Trial Court." In other words, the jurisdiction of
the SEC over the cases enumerated under Section 5 PD 902-A was transferred to the courts of
general jurisdiction, that is to say (or, otherwise known as), the proper Regional Trial Courts.
This interpretation is supported by San Miguel Corp. v. Municipal Council, wherein the Court
held that:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
[T]he word "or" may be used as the equivalent of "that is to say" and gives that which precedes
it the same significance as that which follows it. It is not always disjunctive and is sometimes
interpretative or expository of the preceding word.
Further, as may be gleaned from the following excerpt of the Congressional deliberations:

Senator [Raul S.] Roco:


chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
x x x x The first major departure is as regards the Securities and Exchange Commission. The
Securities and Exchange Commission has been authorized under this proposal to reorganize
itself. As an administrative agency, we strengthened it and at the same time we take away the
quasi-judicial functions. The quasi-judicial functions are not given back to the court of
general jurisdiction - The Regional Trial Court, except for two categories of cases.

In the case of corporate disputes, only those that are now submitted for final determination of
the SEC will remain with the SEC. So, all those cases, both memos of the plaintiff and the
defendant, that have been submitted for resolution will continue. At the same time cases
involving rehabilitation, bankruptcy, suspension of payments and receiverships that were filed
before June 30, 2000 will continue with the SEC. In other words, we are avoiding the possibility,
upon approval of this bill, of people filing cases with the SEC, in manner of speaking, to select
their court.

xxx (Emphasis supplied)

Therefore, one must be disabused of the notion that the transfer of jurisdiction was made only in
favor of particular RTC branches, and not the RTCs in general.

Having clearly settled that as courts of general jurisdiction, the designated Special Commercial
Courts and the regular RTCs are both conferred by law the power to hear and decide civil cases
in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation, such as an action for
injunction, the Court will now examine the material allegations in the petition for injunction with
damages, in order to determine whether Branch 149 of the Makati RTC has jurisdiction over the
subject matter of the case.

In its petition for injunction with damages, Concorde Condominium, Inc. (CCI), by itself and
comprising the unit owners of Concorde Condominium Building, alleged that:

8. CCI is the duly constituted Corporation or Association which owns the common areas
in the project that comprises: (a) Lot 1 where the condominium stands and Lot 2 which
serves as the parking lot for the benefit of the unit owners; and (b) Concorde
Condominium Building ("the building") that was developed by Pulp and Paper
Distributors, Inc. (now, allegedly [as claimed by respondent Baculio], the "New PPI
Corp.").

8.1 Petitioner's ownership of both the two (2) lots and the building (except only the units
specifically owned by unit owners) is undisputable, as can be clearly gleaned in the following
provisions of the Master Deed with Declaration of Restrictions ("Master Deed"), as well as the
Amended By-laws of petitioner Concorde Condominium, Inc.

XXXX

8.4 At any rate, considering that the condominium corporation (herein petitioner) had already
been established or incorporated many years ago, and that the Developer (or any subsequent
transferor) had already sold the units in the building to the present unit owners/members, it
therefore follows that Developer had thereby lost its beneficial ownership over Lots 1 and 2 in
favor of herein petitioner.

9. Unfortunately, PPI, as developer and engaging in unsound real estate business


practice, altered the condominium plan to segregate a lot (Lot 2) from the common areas
and fraudulently cause the issuance of a separate title thereof in the name of PPI.

10. CCI has questioned said fraudulent act of PPI in Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board
(1TLURI3) Case No. REM-050500-10982 entitled "Concorde Condominium, Incorporated vs.
Pulp and Paper, Inc. et al." The same case was elevated on appeal to the HLURB Board of
Commissioners in a case entitled "Concorde Condominium, Incorporated, complainant vs. Pulp
and Paper, Inc., ct al., respondents, vs. Landmark Philippines Incorporated, et al., Intervenors.'1
In both cases, the HLURB ruled in favor of CCI.

11. PPI did not anymore appeal the aforementioned decision of the HLURB Board of
Commissioners to the Office of the President, hence, the decision as against PPI is already final
and executory.

xxxx

12. Although HLURB has already decided that CCI or all the unit owners have vested rights
over the subject lots, recent events have compelled petitioner to urgently seek from this
Honorable Court the reliefs prayed for in the instant case, such as the immediate issuance of a
temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction against respondents.

xxxx

14. At present, a certain Augusto II. Baculio (respondent herein), by himself and on
behalf of New PPI Corp., deliberately, actively and with patent bad faith misrepresents
and misleads the public and certain government offices/agencies that the lot where the
building stands and the lot which serves as parking area arc owned by New PPI Corp.

xxxx

14.1 In a letter dated 31 January 2011, respondent Augusto Baculio, on behalf of New PPI
Corp., representing themselves as owners of the above-mentioned lots, requested from the
Makati Fire Station that the building be subjected to ocular inspection, x x x.

xxxx

14.3 On 12 August 2011, respondent Augusto H. Baculio, with the same misrepresentation,
sent another letter to respondent Supt. Ricardo C. Perdigon, City Fire Marshal of Makati
requesting for verification or inspection of Concorde, x x x.

xxxx

14.4 Worth noting in the aforementioned letter of respondent Baculio dated 12 August 2011 x x
x is that, not only did he misrepresent that he or New PPI Corp. owns the two lots, but he
likewise openly misrepresented that he owns the building, x x x and even requested "xxx to
address its 'demolition ' as the Concorde is already 40 years old."

xxxx

14.7 In a letter dated 07 September 2011, respondent Supt. Ricardo C. Perdigon forwarded or
elevated to respondent F/C Supt. Santiago E. Laguna, Regional Director of the Bureau of Fire
Protection - NCR the matter about Concorde Condominium Building.

xxxx

14.8 On 21 October 2011, CCI sent a letter to respondent F/C Supt. Santiago E. Laguna,
informing the latter of the misrepresentations of respondents Augusto Baculio and New PPI
Corp.
xxxx

14.9 The misrepresentation of respondents Baculio and New PPI Corp. did not stop there. On
17 November 2011, Mr. Baculio requested from Meralco for the cutting off of electricity in
Concorde Condominium Building, apparently with the misrepresentation that he owns the
building.

xxxx

14.14 Moreover, on 7 March 2012, one of the unit owners in the building, Sister Lioba Tiamson,
OSB, sought the assistance and intervention of Honorable Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay, Jr.
when Concorde received a letter dated 17 February 2012 from respondent Engr. Nelson B.
Morales informing Concorde of the revocation of the building and occupancy permits even if the
period of sixty (60) days to comply has not yet lapsed.

xxxx
16. Moreover, sometime in November 2011, petitioner and its unit owners noted that
security guards from Asian Security and Investigation Agency have stationed
themselves on rotation basis 7 days a wcek/24 hours a day, within the perimeter of the
building. Upon inquiry of one of the administration personnel, it was discovered that they
were hired by respondent August II. Baculio/New PPI Corp.

xxxx

16.5 The presence of respondent security agency and its security guards within the perimeter of
the building poses threat to and sows serious fear and anxiety to the unit owners. Thus, they
should be ordered to leave the premises.

17. Respondent Baculio and New PPI Corp.'s misleading, false, baseless and
unauthorized acts of claiming ownership over the subject lots and building arc clear
violation of the rights of petitioner and its unit owners to maintain their undisturbed
ownership, possession and peaceful enjoyment of their property. Hence, should be
immediately estopped, restrained and permanently enjoined.

18. Moreover, respondents Baculio and New PPI Corp., by deceit and misrepresentation,
are surreptitiously attempting to dispossess petitioner of Concorde building to the extent
of using the instrumentality of the government to achieve this purpose.

19. Worse, respondent Baculio and New PPI Corp. by writing letters to Makati City Engineering
Department, are pushing for the demolition of the building which they do not even own.

20. Surprisingly, respondent Engr. Nelson B. Morales has been responding to and acting
upon the above-mentioned letters being sent by respondent Baculio despite the latter
being a mere impostor and has no legal personality whatsoever with regard to the
matters concerning the lots and Concorde Condominium Building.
xxxx

20.9 It is therefore necessary that respondent Engr. Nelson Morales be enjoined from
entertaining and acting upon the letters of respondent Baculio.

20.10 Respondent Engr. Morales should be


immediately restrained from implementing the revocation of petitioner's building and
occupancy permit.

20.11 Respondent Engr. Morales should also be immediately restrained from ordering the
possible demolition of the building, as the building is structurally sound and stable, and
docs not pose any safety risks to occupants and passers-by.

xxxx
21. Respondents Supt. Ricardo C. Perdigon and F/C Supt. Santiago E. Laguna have
likewise been responding to and acting upon the above-mentioned letters being sent by
respondent Baculio despite the latter being a mere impostor and has no legal personality
whatsoever with regard to matters concerning the building.

22. Moreover, respondents Supt. Ricardo C. Perdigon and F/C Supt. Santiago E. Laguna
unjustifiably refused, and continuously refuses to issue the necessary permit for the
contractor xxx engaged by petitioner to be able to commence with the installation of n
lire sprinkler system and to correct other lire safety deficiencies in the building.

22.1 Thus, it is certainly ironic that the Bureau of Fire Protection headed by said respondents x
x x issued compliance order on petitioner to correct fire safety deficiencies, and yet, they
refused to issue the necessary work permit to the contractor hired by petitioner.

22.2 Hence, respondents Supt. Perdigon and F/C Supt. Laguna should be directed to
issue the necessary permit to the contractor engaged by
petitioner.16ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

The concept of an action for injunction, as an ordinary civil action, was discussed in BPI v.
Hong, et al.17as follows:

An action for injunction is a suit which has for its purpose the enjoinment of the defendant,
perpetually or for a particular time, from the commission or continuance of a specific act, or his
compulsion to continue performance of a particular act. It has an independent existence, and is
distinct from the ancillary remedy of preliminary injunction which cannot exist except only as a
part or an incident of an independent action or proceeding. In an action for injunction, the
auxiliary remedy of preliminary injunction, prohibitory or mandatory, may issue.

There is no doubt that the petition filed before the RTC is an action for injunction, as can be
gleaned from the allegations made and reliefs sought by petitioner, namely: (1) to enjoin
respondents Baculio and New PPI Corporation from misrepresenting to the public, as well as to
private and government offices/agencies, that they are the owners of the disputed lots and
Concorde Condominium Building, and from pushing for the demolition of the building which they
do not even own; (2) to prevent respondent Asian Security and Investigation Agency from
deploying its security guards within the perimeter of the said building; and (3) to restrain
respondents Engr. Morales, Supt. Perdigon and F/C Supt. Laguna from responding to and
acting upon the letters being sent by Baculio, who is a mere impostor and has no legal
personality with regard to matters concerning the revocation of building and occupancy permits,
and the fire safety issues of the same building.

Applying the relationship test18 and the nature of the controversy test19 in determining whether a
dispute constitutes an intra-corporate controversy, as enunciated in Medical Plaza Makati
Condominium Corporation v. Cullen,20 the Court agrees with Branch 149 that Civil Case No. 12-
309 for injunction with damages is an ordinary civil case, and not an intra-corporate controversy.

A careful review of the allegations in the petition for injunction with damages indicates no intra-
corporate relations exists between the opposing parties, namely (1) petitioner condominium
corporation, by itself and comprising all its unit owners, on the one hand, and (2) respondent
New PP1 Corporation which Baculio claims to be the owner of the subject properties, together
with the respondents Building Official and City Fire Marshal of Makati City, the Regional Director
of the Bureau of Fire Protection, and the private security agency, on the other hand. Moreover,
the petition deals with the conflicting claims of ownership over the lots where Concorde
Condominium Building stands and the parking lot for unit owners, which were developed by
Pulp and Paper Distributors, Inc. (now claimed by respondent Baculio as the New PPI
Corporation), as well as the purported violations of the National Building Code which resulted in
the revocation of the building and occupancy permits by the Building Official of Makati City.
Clearly, as the suit between petitioner and respondents neither arises from an intra-corporate
relationship nor does it pertain to the enforcement of their correlative rights and obligations
under the Corporation Code, and the internal and intra-corporate regulatory rules of the
corporation, Branch 149 correctly found that the subject matter of the petition is in the nature of
an ordinary civil action.

The Court is mindful of the recent guideline laid down in the recent case of Manuel Luis C.
Gonzales and Francis Martin D. Gonzal.es v. GJH Land, Inc. (formerly known as S.J. Land
Inc.), Chang Hwan Jang a.k.a. Steve Jang, Sang Rak, Kim, Mariechu N. Yap and Atty. Roberto
P. Mallari II,21 to wit:

For further guidance, the Court finds it apt to point out that the same principles apply to the
inverse situation of ordinary civil cases filed before the proper RTCs but wrongly raffled to its
branches designated as Special Commercial Courts. In such a scenario, the ordinary civil case
should then be referred to the Executive Judge for re-docketing as an ordinary civil case;
thereafter, the Executive Judge should then order the raffling of the case to all branches of the
same RTC, subject to limitations under existing internal rules, and the payment of the correct
docket fees in case of any difference. Unlike the limited assignment/raffling of a commercial
case only to branches designated as Special Commercial Courts in the scenarios stated above,
the re-raffling of an ordinary civil case in this instance to all courts is permissible due to the fact
that a particular branch which has been designated as a Special Commercial Court does not
shed the RTCs general jurisdiction over ordinary civil cases under the imprimatur of statutory
law, i.e., Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP 129). To restate, the designation of Special Commercial
Courts was merely intended as a procedural tool to expedite the resolution of commercial cases
in line with the court's exercise of jurisdiction. This designation was not made by statute but only
by an internal Supreme Court rule under its authority to promulgate rules governing matters of
procedure and its constitutional mandate to supervise the administration of all courts and the
personnel thereof. Certainly, an internal rule promulgated by the Court cannot go beyond the
commanding statute. But as a more fundamental reason, the designation of Special Commercial
Courts is, to stress, merely an incident related to the court's exercise of jurisdiction, which, as
first discussed, is distinct from the concept of jurisdiction over the subject matter. The RTCs
general jurisdiction over ordinary civil cases is therefore not abdicated by an internal rule
streamlining court procedure.22

It is apt to note, however, that the foregoing guideline applies only in a situation where the
ordinary civil case filed before the proper RTCs was "wrongly raffled" to its branches designated
as Special Commercial Courts, which situation does not obtain in this case. Here, no clear and
convincing evidence is shown to overturn the legal presumption that official duty has been
regularly performed when the Clerk of Court of the Makati RTC docketed the petition for
injunction with damages as an ordinary civil case -not as a commercial case - and,
consequently, raffled it among all branches of the same RTC, and eventually assigned it to
Branch 149. To recall, the designation of the said branch as a Special Commercial Court by no
means diminished its power as a court of general jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of all
nature, whether civil, criminal or special proceedings. There is no question, therefore, that the
Makati RTC, Branch 149 erred in dismissing the petition for injunction with damages, which is
clearly an ordinary civil case. As a court of general jurisdiction, it still has jurisdiction over the
subject matter thereof.

In view of the above discussion, the Court finds no necessity to delve into the other contentions
raised by the parties, as they should be properly addressed by the Makati RTC, Branch 149
which has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the petition for injunction with
damages.chanrobleslaw

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The Order dated June 28,
2012 and Resolution dated September 20, 2012 issued by the Regional Trial Court of Makati
City, Branch 149, in Civil Case No. 12-309, are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Civil Case
No. 12-309 is REINSTATEDin the docket of the same branch which is further ORDERED to
resolve the case with reasonable dispatch.

This Decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 199601, November 23, 2015

PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL INTERNATIONAL BANK (NOW BDO UNIBANK,


INC., Petitioner, v.JOSEPHINE D. GOMEZ, Respondent.

DECISION

BRION, J.:

We resolve the petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court1 filed by
Philippine Commercial International Bank (PCIB) assailing the May 23, 2011 decision2 and the
December 7, 2011 resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 68288. The CA
affirmed the May 25, 1999 decision of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 145
(RTC) in toto.

FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS

Josephine D. Gomez (Josephine) was a teller at the Domestic Airport Branch of the PCIB when
a certain Colin R. Harrington opened Savings Account No. 373-28010-6 with said branch in
January 1985.

The following day, Harrington presented two (2) genuine bank drafts dated January 3, 1985,
issued by the Bank of New Zealand. The first draft was in the sum of US$724.57 payable to
"C.R. Harrington," while the second draft was in the sum of US$2,004.76 payable to "Servants
C/C.R. Harrington."

The PCIB, on the other hand, alleged that it was a certain Sophia La'O, as a representative of
Harrington, who presented the bank drafts for deposit.

Upon receipt of the bank drafts, Josephine asked her immediate supervisor, Eleanor Flores,
whether the drafts payable to "Servants C/C.R. Harrington" were acceptable for deposit to the
savings account of Harrington. When Flores answered in the affirmative, and after receiving
from the bank's foreign exchange supervision a Philippine Currency conversion of the amounts
reflected in the drafts, Josephine received the deposit slip. Thereafter, the deposits were duly
entered in Harrington's savings account.
On two (2) separate dates, a certain individual representing himself as Harrington withdrew the
sums of P45,000.00 and P5,600.00. Subsequently, the bank discovered that the person who
made the withdrawals was an impostor. Thus, the bank had to pay Harrington P50,600.00
representing the amounts of the bank drafts in his name.

The PCIB issued a memorandum asking Josephine to explain why no disciplinary action should
be taken against her for having accepted the bank drafts for deposits. Josephine reasoned that
being a new teller she was not yet fully oriented with the various aspects of the job. She further
alleged that she had asked the approval of her immediate supervisor prior to receiving the
deposits.

On November 14, 1985, the PCIB deducted the amount of P-423.38 from Josephine's salary.
Josephine wrote the PCIB to ask why the deduction was made.

After due investigation on the matter, the PCIB issued another memorandum finding Josephine
grossly negligent and liable for performing acts in violation of established operating procedures.
The memorandum required Josephine to pay the amount of P-50,600.00 through deductions in
her salary, allowance, bonuses, and profit sharing until the amount is fully paid.

Josephine wrote the PCIB to ask for the basis of its findings that she was grossly negligent and
liable to pay the amount of P50,600.00. During trial, the RTC found that the PCIB did not even
respond to this letter. PCIB, however, alleged that it had replied to Josephine's letter, and
explained that she was afforded due process and the deductions made prior to January 15,
1986, were merely a withholding pending the investigation.

The PCIB also admitted that as early as January 15, 1986, it had started to deduct the amount
of P 200.00 from Josephine's salary as well as 50% of her bonuses and profit sharing.

On February 10, 1986, Josephine filed a complaint for damages with prayer for preliminary
injunction before the RTC of Makati City. She claimed that the PCIB had abused its right by
gradually deducting from her salary the amount the bank had to pay Harrington.

The PCIB filed its answer with counterclaims and a separate complaint with the RTC of Makati
City, which was raffled to Branch 149.

In its May 25, 1999 decision, the RTC rendered judgment in favor of Josephine and ordered the
PCIB to pay her actual damages in the amount of P5,006.00 plus 12% interest from filing of the
complaint; moral damages in the amount of PI 50,000.00; and attorney's fees in the amount of
P-50,000.00.

The RTC considered the PCIB's manner of deducting from the salary and allowance of
Josephine as having been rendered in bad faith and contrary to morals, good custom, and
public policy. This was borne out by the fact that the PCIB had already deducted from her salary
before Josephine received the memorandum finding her liable for the P50,600.00. In addition,
while there were other individuals involved in this incident, it appeared that it was only
Josephine who was made solely responsible.

On appeal, the PCIB argued that the RTC had no jurisdiction over the case because it was a
labor dispute, which the labor tribunals are more competent to resolve. It also maintained that
there was no factual or legal basis for the RTC to make it liable for damages and to pay
Josephine.

In its May 23, 2011 decision, the CA affirmed the May 25, 1999 RTC decision. It held that the
PCIB was estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC because it had filed an answer
with counterclaims and even initiated a separate case before a different branch of the RTC. It
upheld the RTC's findings and conclusion in awarding damages and attorney's fees to
Josephine because there was no reason to disturb them.

The CA, subsequently, denied the PCIB's motion for reconsideration on December 7, 2011;
hence, the PCIB filed the present petition.

First, the PCIB contends that the CA gravely erred in ruling that its actions were in total and
wanton disregard of Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil Code because the courts a quo summarily
imputed bad faith on how it had treated Josephine.

Second, the PCIB maintains that the CA gravely erred in awarding moral damages and
attorney's fees to Josephine absent any basis for it while averring that bad faith cannot be
presumed and that Josephine had failed to prove it with clear and convincing evidence.

OUR RULING

We DENY the present petition for lack of merit.

The civil courts have jurisdiction


over a case when the cause of action
does not have a reasonable causal
connection from the employer-employee
relationship.

Although the PCIB opted not to raise the issue before this Court, we find it prudent and
imperative to justify why the RTC had jurisdiction to take cognizance of Josephine's complaint
despite the fact that her cause of action arose because her employer arbitrarily deducted from
her salary - an act expressly prohibited by our labor laws.4

Article 224 [217] of the Labor Code provides that the Labor Arbiters have original and exclusive
jurisdiction to hear and decide claims for actual, moral, exemplary, and other forms of damages
arising from employer-employee relations. The legislative intent appears clear to allow Labor
Arbiters to award to an employee not only the reliefs provided by our labor laws, but also moral
and other forms of damages governed by the Civil Code. Specifically, we have mentioned, in
fact, that a complaint for damages under Articles 19, 20, and 21 of the Civil Code would not
suffice to keep the case without the jurisdictional boundaries of our labor courts -especially
when the claim for damages is interwoven with a labor dispute.5

Nevertheless, when the cause of action has no reasonable connection with any of the claims
provided for in Article 224 of the Labor Code, jurisdiction over the action is with the regular
courts. 6 Here, since Josephine's cause of action is based on a quasi-delict or tort under Article
19 in relation to Article 21 of the Civil Code, the civil courts (not the labor tribunals) have
jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case.

To be sure, the case of Singapore Airlines Ltd. v. Ernani Cruz Paño is


enlightening:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Upon the facts and issues involved, jurisdiction over the present controversy must be held to
belong to the civil courts. While seemingly petitioner's claim for damages arises from employer-
employee relations, and the latest amendment to Article 217 of the Labor Code under PD No.
1691 and BP Big. 130 provides that all other claims arising from employer-employee
relationship are cognizable by Labor Arbiters, in essence, petitioner's claim for damages is
grounded on the "wanton failure and refusal" without just cause of private respondent Cruz to
report for duty despite repeated notices served upon him of the disapproval of his application for
leave of absence without pay. This, coupled with the further averment that Cruz "maliciously and
with bad faith" violated the terms and conditions of the conversion training course agreement to
the damage of petitioner removes the present controversy from the coverage of the Labor Code
and brings it within the purview of Civil Law.

Clearly, the complaint was anchored not on the abandonment per se by private respondent
Cruz of his job as the latter was not required in the Complaint to report back to work but
on the manner and consequent effects of such abandonment of work translated in terms
of the damages which petitioner had to suffer.7 [emphasis and underscoring
supplied]cralawlawlibrary

In the present case, Josephine filed a civil complaint for damages against the PCIB based on
how her employer quickly concluded that she was negligent and hence arbitrarily started to
deduct from her salary. Clearly, without having to dwell on the merits of the case, Josephine
opted to invoke the jurisdiction of our civil courts because her right to fair treatment was
violated.

The discussion in Quisaba v. Sta. Ines-Melale Veneer & Plywood, Inc. is just as relevant as it is
illuminating on the present case, to wit:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Although the acts complained of seemingly appear to constitute "matters involving employee-
employer relations" as Quisaba's dismissal was the severance of a preexisting employee-
employer relation, his complaint is grounded not on his dismissal per se as in fact he does not
ask for reinstatement or backwages, but on the manner of his dismissal and the consequent
effects of such dismissal.

xxx

The "right" of the respondents to dismiss Quisaba should not be confused with the mannerin
which the right was exercised and the effects flowing therefrom. If the dismissal was done anti-
socially or oppressively, as the complaint alleges, then the respondents violated article 1701 of
the Civil Code which prohibits acts of oppression by either capital or labor against the other, and
article 21, which makes a person liable for damages if he willfully causes loss or injury to
another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy, the sanction for
which, by way of moral damages, is provided in article 2219, no. 10. (Cf. Phil. Refining Co. v.
Garcia, L-21962, Sept. 27, 1966, 18 SCRA 107).8cralawlawlibrary

From the foregoing, the case at bar is intrinsically concerned with a civil dispute because it has
something to do with Josephine's right under Article 19 of the Civil Code, and does not involve
an existing employer-employee relation within the meaning of Article 224 of the Labor Code.
Josephine's complaint was, therefore, properly filed with and exclusively cognizable by the RTC.

Questions on whether there was a


preponderance of evidence to justify the
award of damages or whether there was
a causal connection between the given
set of facts and the damage suffered by
the private complainant are questions of fact.

The Court's jurisdiction under a Rule 45 review is limited to reviewing perceived errors of law,
which the lower courts may have committed. The resolution of factual issues is the function of
the lower courts whose findings, when aptly supported by evidence, bind this Court. This is
especially true when the CA affirms the RTC's findings. While this Court, under established
exceptional circumstances, had deviated from the above rule, we do not find this case to be
under any of the exceptions.
Essentially, what the PCIB seeks is a relief from the Court on the issue of the propriety of the
award of damages. On this point alone, the petition must fail, as a Rule 45 petition bars us from
the consideration of factual issues, especially when both the RTC and the CA were consistent
with their rulings.

Nevertheless, we still affirm the assailed CA rulings even if we were to disregard these
established doctrinal rules.

Article 19 of the Civil Code provides that every person in the exercise of his rights and in the
performance of his duties must act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and
good faith. The principle embodied in this provision is more commonly known as the "abuse of
right principle." The legal sanctions for violations of this fundamental principle are found in
Articles 209 and 2110 of the Civil Code. We explained how these two provisions correlate with
each other in GF Equity, Inc. v. Valenzona:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

[Article 19], known to contain what is commonly referred to as the principle of abuse of rights,
sets certain standards which must be observed not only in the exercise of one's rights but also
in the performance of one's duties. These standards are the following: to act with justice; to give
everyone his due; and to observe honesty and good faith. The law, therefore, recognizes a
primordial limitation on all rights; that in their exercise, the norms of human conduct set forth in
Article 19 must be observed. A right, though by itself legal because recognized or granted
by law as such, may nevertheless become the source of some illegality. When a right is
exercised in a manner which does not conform with the norms enshrined in Article 19
and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby committed for which the
wrongdoer must be held responsible. But while Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct for the
government of human' relations and for the maintenance of social order, it does not provide a
remedy for its violation. Generally, an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21
would be proper.11 [Emphasis supplied]cralawlawlibrary

Both the RTC and the CA found the acts of the PCIB were in clear violation of Article 19 of the
Civil Code and held the PCIB liable for damages. While the PCIB has a right to penalize
employees for acts of negligence, the right must not be exercised unjustly and illegally. In the
instant case, the PCIB made deductions on Josephine's salary even if the investigation was still
pending. Belatedly, the PCIB issued a memorandum finding Josephine grossly negligent and
requiring her to pay the amount which the bank erroneously paid to Harrington's impostor.
When Josephine asked for legal and factual basis for the finding of negligence, the PCIB
refused to give any. Moreover, the PCIB continued to make deductions on Josephine's salary,
allowances, and bonuses.

The trial court and the CA also noted that while Josephine was penalized, other employees of
the bank involved in the subject transactions were not. It was Josephine who was made solely
responsible for the loss without giving any basis therefor. It was emphasized that the subject
deposit could not have been received by the bank and entered in Harrington's savings account
without the participation of the other bank employees. The PCIB could have exercised prudence
before taking oppressive actions against Josephine.

All told, we find nothing in the record which would warrant the reversal of the position held by
the RTC and the CA. Based on the above discussion, we find the award of moral damages and
attorney's fees in Josephine's favor proper.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is DENIED and consequently, the May 23,
2011 decision and the December 7, 2011 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
68288 are AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 209011, April 20, 2016

MALAYAN INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., Petitioner, v. DIANA P. ALIBUDBUD, Respondent.

DECISION

REYES, J.:

Before this Court is a Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court filed by
Malayan Insurance Company, Inc. (Malayan) seeking to reverse and set aside the
Decision2 dated May 15, 2013 and Resolution3 dated September 6, 2013 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 92940, which dismissed their complaint for replevin against
Diana P. Alibudbud (Alibudbud) for lack of jurisdiction.

Factual Background

Alibudbud was employed by Malayan on July 5, 2004 as Senior Vice President (SVP) for its
Sales Department. As SVP, she was issued a 2004 Honda Civic sedan bearing plate no. XPR
822 under Malayan's Car Financing Plan4 conditioned on the following stipulations: (1) she must
continuously stay and serve Malayan for at least three full years from the date of the availment
of the Car Financing Plan; and (2) that in case of resignation, retirement or termination before
the three-year period, she shall pay in full 100% share of Malayan and the outstanding balance
of his/her share of the cost of the motor vehicle.5

Relatively, Alibudbud also executed a Promissory Note6 and a Deed of Chattel Mortgage7 in
favor of Malayan wherein it was expressly stated that: (1) the loan of P360,000.00 shall be
payable in 60 equal monthly installments at the rate of P7,299.50 each, commencing on August
15, 2004 and every succeeding month thereafter until fully paid; (2) Alibudbud shall refund
Malayan an amount equivalent to its 50% equity share in the motor vehicle, or P360,000.00 if
she leaves Malayan within three years from the availment of the subject vehicle; (3) should
Alibudbud resign, retire or otherwise be terminated or separated from Malayan's employ, any
remaining unpaid balance on the principal obligation shall immediately fall due and demandable
upon her who shall remit the same to Malayan within five days from effectivity of such
separation/termination; (4) Malayan is authorized to apply to the payment of outstanding
obligation of Alibudbud any such amounts of money that may be due her from the company; (5)
interests on all amounts outstanding as of the date when all Alibudbud's obligations are treated
immediately due and payable, shall be compounded every 30 days until said obligations are
fully paid; (6) Alibudbud shall pay a penalty at the rate of 16% per annum on all amounts due
and unpaid; (7) in case Alibudbud fails to pay any installment, or any interest, or the whole
amount remaining unpaid which has immediately become due and payable upon her separation
from the Malayan, the mortgage on the property may be foreclosed by Malayan, or it may take
other legal action to enforce collection of the obligation; (8) upon default, Alibudbud shall deliver
the possession of the subject vehicle to Malayan at its principal place of business; and (9)
should Alibudbud fail or refuse to deliver the possession of the mortgaged property to Malayan,
thereby compelling it to institute an action for delivery, Alibudbud shall pay Malayan attorney's
fees of 25% of the principal due and unpaid, and all expenses and cost incurred in relation
therewith including the premium of the bond obtained for the writ of possession.8

On July 18, 2005, Alibudbud was dismissed from Malayan due to redundancy. In view thereof,
Malayan demanded that she surrender the possession of the car to the company. Alibudbud
sternly refused to do so.

On September 21, 2005, Malayan instituted a Complaint9 for replevin and/or sum of money
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila and prayed for the seizure of the car from
Alibudbud, or that she be ordered to pay P552,599.93 representing the principal obligation plus
late payment charges and P138,149.98 as attorney's fees, should said car be no longer in
running and presentable condition when its return be rendered impossible.

On October 12, 2005, Alibudbud, in turn, filed a complaint10 for illegal dismissal against Malayan
before the Labor Arbiter (LA) wherein she prayed for her reinstatement.

In her Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim,11 Alibudbud asseverated that a reasonable


depreciation of 20% should be deducted from the subject vehicle's book value of P720,000.00,
or P576,000.00, which makes her liable to pay only P288,000.00 for the car's value.12 She
asserted a counterclaim of P17,809.0013 as compensatory damages and P40,000.00 as
attorney's fees.14 She prayed for the suspension of the proceedings in view of the pendency of
the labor dispute she filed. This was, however, questioned by Malayan in its reply15 as there was
no prejudicial question16 raised in the labor dispute.

On January 30, 2006, Alibudbud filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings17 to reiterate her prayer
to defer the proceedings, asseverating that the labor case she filed presents a prejudicial
question to the instant case. She explained that the resolution of the labor case will determine
her rights and obligations, as well as that of Malayan.

In an Order18 dated February 17, 2006, the RTC of Manila, Branch 27, denied Alibudbud's
motion. It was opined that: (1) reference shall be made only on the Promissory Note which
Alibudbud executed in favor of Malayan in determining the rights and obligations of the parties;
(2) the cause of action in the replevin case is rooted from the Promissory Note; and (3) the issue
in the labor dispute is in no way connected with the rights and obligations of the parties arising
out of the Promissory Note.

Trial on the merits ensued.

On July 13, 2006, Alibudbud moved for the dismissal19 of the action grounded on the
impropriety of the bond put up by Malayan. This was, however, denied by the RTC in its
Order20 dated October 5, 2006 with the pronouncement that Malayan "can[,] by itself[,] file a
surety bond in order to guaranty the return of the subject property to the adverse party if such
return be finally adjudged x x x."21

Alibudbud sought for reconsideration,22 but it was denied in the RTC's Order23 dated December
19, 2006.

Alibudbud then successively filed motions to suspend the proceedings in the civil case anchored
on the same averment that suspension is necessary since she is seeking reinstatement in the
labor case which, if granted, would result to irreconcilable conflict not contemplated by law,
much less conducive to the orderly administration of justice.24 However, both motions were
denied in an Order25 dated June 6, 2007. The RTC pointed out that the issue raised in the civil
action is completely separable with the issue raised in the labor case.26
Malayan applied for an ex-parte issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment,27 which the RTC
granted in its Order dated June 8, 2007.28 The Honda Civic sedan was, accordingly, attached.

Meanwhile, the complaint for illegal dismissal filed by Alibudbud was dismissed. The LA's
Decision29dated February 19, 2008 held that the redundancy she suffered resulted from a valid
re-organization program undertaken by Malayan in view of the downturn in the latter's sales. 30 It
further ruled that Alibudbud failed to establish any violation or arbitrary action exerted upon her
by Malayan, which merely exercised its management prerogative when it terminated her
services.31

On November 28, 2008, the RTC rendered a Decision32 which granted the complaint for
replevin. The RTC mentioned the following observations and conclusions, to wit: (1) Alibudbud
is under obligation to pay in full the acquisition cost of the car issued to her by Malayan; (2) the
LA's Decision dated February 19, 2008 which dismissed the illegal dismissal complaint settled
the issue being banked upon by Alibudbud when she moved for the suspension of the
proceedings in the civil action; (3) Alibudbud's ownership over the car is not yet absolute for it
bears the notation "encumbered", thereby signifying her obligation to pay its value within the
period set forth in the Promissory Note and Deed of Chattel Mortgage; and (4) the replevin
action was converted into a money claim in view of Alibudbud's vehement refusal to surrender
the possession of the car.

Ruling of the CA

On appeal, the CA ruled, in its Decision33 dated May 15, 2013, to set aside the decision of the
trial court. The CA explained that the RTC has no jurisdiction to take cognizance over the
replevin action because of the "employer-employee" relations between the parties which
Malayan never denied. Certainly, Alibudbud could not have availed of the benefits of the Car
Financing Plan if she was not employed by Malayan. Citing Section 1,34 Rule 9 of the 1997
Rules of Court, the CA upheld to dismiss the replevin action considering that the ground of lack
of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings since jurisdiction is conferred by
law.35

Malayan's motion for reconsideration36 was denied.37 Hence, this petition.

Ruling of the Court

The petition is impressed with merit.

It is well-settled that "(t)he jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in cases brought to it from the CA is
limited to reviewing and revising the errors of law imputed to it, its findings of fact being
conclusive. In several decisions, however, the Court enumerated the exceptional circumstances
when the Supreme Court may review the findings of fact of the CA,"38 such as in the instant
case.

A careful study of the case would reveal that the RTC correctly took cognizance of the action for
replevin contrary to the pronouncement of the CA.

"Replevin is an action whereby the owner or person entitled to repossession of goods or


chattels may recover those goods or chattels from one who has wrongfully distrained or taken,
or who wrongfully detains such goods or chattels. It is designed to permit one having right to
possession to recover property in specie from one who has wrongfully taken or detained the
property. The term may refer either to the action itself, for the recovery of personalty, or to the
provisional remedy traditionally associated with it, by which possession of the property may be
obtained by the plaintiff and retained during the pendency of the action."39
In reversing the trial court's ruling, the CA declared that "[Alibudbud] could not have availed of
the Car Financing Plan if she was not an employee of [Malayan]. The status of being an
employee and officer of [Alibudbud] in [Malayan] was, therefore, one of the pre-condition before
she could avail of the benefits of the Car Financing Plan. Such being the case, there is no doubt
that [Alibudbud's] availing of the Car Financing Plan being offered by [Malayan] was necessarily
and intimately connected with or related to her employment in the aforesaid
Company."40cralawred

It should be noted, however, that the present action involves the parties' relationship as debtor
and creditor, not their "employer-employee" relationship. Malayan's demand for Alibudbud to
pay the 50% company equity over the car or, to surrender its possession, is civil in nature. The
trial court's ruling also aptly noted the Promissory Note and Deed of Chattel Mortgage
voluntarily signed by Alibudbud to secure her financial obligation to avail of the car being offered
under Malayan's Car Financing Plan.41 Clearly, the issue in the replevin action is separate and
distinct from the illegal dismissal case. The Court further considers it justified for Malayan to
refuse to accept her offer to settle her car obligation for not being in accordance with the
Promissory Note and Deed of Chattel Mortgage she executed.42 Even the illegal dismissal case
she heavily relied upon in moving for the suspension of the replevin action was settled in favor
of Malayan which was merely found to have validly exercised its management prerogative in
order to improve its company sales.

As consistently held, "[t]he characterization of an employee's services as superfluous or no


longer necessary and, therefore, properly terminable, is an exercise of business judgment on
the part of the employer. The wisdom and soundness of such characterization or decision is not
subject to discretionary review provided, of course, that a violation of law or arbitrary or
malicious action is not shown."43

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision dated May 15, 2013 and Resolution dated
September 6, 2013 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 92940 are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The Decision dated November 28, 2008 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch
27, in Civil Case No. 05-113528 is, accordingly, REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary