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G.R. No. 121917 July 31, 1996 ROBIN CARIO PADILLA, accused-appellant, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellees. RESOLUTION

FRANCISCO, J.:p On appellant Robin C. Padilla's application for bail. In an information filed before the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City, appellant was charged with violation of P.D. No. 1866 for illegal possession of firearms punishable by reclusion temporal maximum to reclusion perpetua. 1 Pending trial, appellant was released on bail. Thereafter, appellant was convicted as charged and meted an indeterminate penalty of 17 years 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal to 21 years of reclusion perpetua. He appealed to public respondent Court of Appeals, but judgment was rendered affirming his conviction. Respondent court cancelled his bailbond and ordered his arrest for confinement at the New Bilibid Prison. Appellant filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied. Dissatisfied, appellant is now before us by way of a petition for review on certiorari with an application for bail praying, among others, to be allowed to post bail for his temporary liberty. In his subsequent pleading, 1 appellant moved for the separate resolution of his bail application. The threshold issue is whether or not appellant is entitled to bail. Bail is either a matter of right, or of discretion. It is a matter of right when the offense charged is not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. 2 On the other hand, upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, bail becomes a matter of discretion. 3 Similarly, if the court imposed a penalty of imprisonment exceeding six (6) years but not more than twenty (20) years then bail is a matter of discretion, except when any of the enumerated circumstances 4 under paragraph 3 of Section 5, Rule 114 is present then bail shall be denied. But when the accused is charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, and evidence of guilt strong, bail shall be denied, 5 as it is neither a matter of right nor of discretion. If the evidence, however, is not strong bail becomes a matter of right. 6 In People v. Nitcha 7, the Court, reiterating established jurisprudence, there said: . . . if an accused who is charged with a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua is convicted by the trial court and sentenced to suffer such a penalty, bail is neither a matter of right on the part of the accused nor of discretion on the part of the court. In such a situation, the court would not have only determined that the evidence of guilt is strong which would have been sufficient to deny bail even before conviction it would have likewise ruled that the accused's guilt has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. Bail must not then be granted to the accused during the pendency of his appeal from the judgment of conviction. Construing Section 3, Rule 114 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended, this Court, in the en banc Resolution of 15 October 1991 in People v. Ricardo Cortez, ruled that: Pursuant to the aforecited provision, an accused who is charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua, shall no longer be entitled to bail as a matter of right even if he appeals the

case to this Court since his conviction clearly imports that the evidence of his guilt of the offense charged is strong. 8 In this case, appellant was convicted of a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua. Applying the aforequoted rule, we find appellant not entitled to bail as his conviction clearly imports that the evidence of his guilt is strong. And contrary to appellant's asseveration, a summary hearing for his bail application for the sole purpose of determining whether or not evidence is strong is unnecessary. Indeed, the extensive trial before the lower court and the appeal before respondent court are more than sufficient in accomplishing the purpose for which a summary hearing for bail application is designed. Rule 114, Section 7 of the Rules of Court, moreover, is clear. Thus: Sec. 7. Capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, not bailable. No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, when evidence of guilt is strong, shall be admitted to bail regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution. Administrative Circular No. 2-92, in addition, applies in this case. The circular unequivocably provides that when an accused is charged with a capital offense or an offense which under the law at the time of its commission and at the time of the application for bail is punishable by reclusion perpetua and is out on bail and after trial is convicted by the trial court of the offense charged, his bond shall be cancelled and the accused shall be placed in confinement pending resolution of his appeal. Appellant's application must, perforce, fail as he is no longer entitled to bail. Be that as it may, we are not unwilling to accommodate his request for an X-ray and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) at St. Luke's Hospital as follow-up examinations for his 1994 slipped-disc operation. It has been said that while justice is the first virtue of the court, yet admittedly, humanity is the second. Hence, petitioner's request for the badly needed X-ray and MRI examinations for which the New Bilibid Prison Hospital is inadequately equipped, as certified to by its Chief Officer, deserves attention. We recall that way back in 1946, we allowed in Dela Rama v. People's Court, 9 a precedent on which appellant now anchors his application, a prisoner to be released on bail when his continued detention would be injurious to his health. This trend, however, has changed with the development of times. Besides, appellant's situation is not akin to Dela Rama's factual milieu. While appellant now shall be denied bail, nevertheless, we cannot be indifferent to his medical needs. And by granting appellant's request, the Court is merely performing its supervisory powers over detainees to safeguard, among others, their proper accommodation and health pursuant to Section 25 of Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, as amended. ACCORDINGLY, the cancellation of appellant's bailbond by public respondent court is AFFIRMED and the instant application for bail is DENIED for lack of merit. Appellant's request for an X-ray and MRI examinations at St. Luke's Hospital is GRANTED which should be conducted at the first opportune time to be arranged by the Director of the New Bilibid Prison with the responsible officers of the hospital, provided that appellant shall be at all times subject to the security conditions imposed by the prison's director. The responsibility for the enforcement of the subject request, as well as the security of the appellant, devolves upon the Director of the New Bilibid Prison. Upon termination of the medical examinations, appellant shall be recommitted to prison without delay. As much as possible, any unnecessary publicity should be avoided. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr., Melo and Panganiban, JJ., concur. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila

EN BANC G.R. No. L-22465 February 28, 1967

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants, vs. ASCENSION P. OLARTE, defendant-appellee. Saturnino D. Bautista for plaintiff-appellant Meris. Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz and Solicitor Ceferino S. Gaddi for plaintiff-appellant People of the Philippines. Chuidian Law Offices, P. V. Sison, D. Acuna, J. Asuncion, E. G. Bruno and Silverio B. de Leon for defendantappellee. REYES, J.B.L., J.: This is the second time the present case is brought on appeal to this Supreme Court on the identical issue of prescription. The antecedents of this case are briefly stated in the decision of the previous appeal (L-13027): Defendant 'Ascension P. Olarte is charged with libel. It is alleged in the information that on or about the 24th day of February, 1954 and subsequently thereafter said defendant had willfully, unlawfully and feloniously written certain letters which were libelous, contemptuous and derogatory to Miss Visitacion M. Meris, 'with evident and malicious purpose of insulting, dishonoring, humiliating and bringing into contempt the good name and reputation' of said complainant. It appears that on January 7, 1956, Miss Meris lodged the corresponding charge of libel with the provincial fiscal of Pangasinan, who assigned it to an assistant provincial fiscal; that upon the latter's advice, on February 22, 1956, she filed with the Justice of the Peace Court of Pozorrubio, Pangasinan, a complaint for libel against Ascencion P. Olarte that the defendant waived her right to a preliminary investigation, whereupon the justice of the peace court forwarded the case to the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, in which the corresponding information was filed on July 3, 1956; that the defendant seasonably moved to quash the information upon the ground of prescription of the offense; and that, after due hearing, the court of first instance granted said motion and dismissed the case, with costs de oficio. Hence, this appeal by complainant Miss Meris with the conformity of the special counsel of the office of the provincial fiscal of Pangasinan, who represented the prosecution in said court. This Court, likewise, stated in said previous appeal: It is conceded that, as provided in Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code, 'the crime of libel ... shall prescribe in two (2) years, which, pursuant to Article 91 of the same Code, 'shall commence to run from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities or their agents, and shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information ....' In an affidavit, attached to the complaint filed with the justice of the peace court, Miss Meris stated that one defamatory letter was received by her on February 27, 1954 and that there were other libelous letters, seemingly written after the first. According to another affidavit, likewise, attached to said complaint, the subsequent letters were received on or about March 1 and 13, April 26 and May 9, 1954. The issue in the lower court, as well as in this appeal, is whether the statute of limitations was suspended by the filing of the complaint with the justice of the peace court on February 22, 1956, as claimed by appellant, or continued to run until July 3, 1956, when the information was filed with the court of first instance, as contended by the defendant. His Honor, the trial Judge adopted the latter alternative, and, accordingly, held that the prescriptive period had expired before the filing of said information. (Emphasis supplied)

Resolving the issue thus posed on the basis of the abovequoted facts, this Court, speaking through the then Associate Justice (now Chief Justice) Roberto Concepcion, and after an extensive and exhaustive dissertation on the applicable laws and pertinent decisions on the subject, rendered a decision, promulgated on June 30, 1960, the dispositive portion of which reads: IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, it is our considered opinion that the filing of the complainant with the justice of the peace court of Pozorrubio, Pangasinan, interrupted the running of the statute of limitations, as regards the crime of libel with which defendant herein is charged, and that said crime has not been extinguished, therefore, by prescription, for which reason the order appealed from is reversed, and the records of this case are hereby remanded to the lower court for further proceedings, conformably with law. IT IS SO ORDERED. The above ruling became final and executory, and, pursuant thereto, the lower court set the case for hearing on the merits and the prosecution started presenting its evidence. However, on August 26, 1963, the defense presented anew a motion to quash the information, supplemented by another motion of September 5, 1963, on the ground of prescription of the offense charged in the information. In said motions, the defense invoked the subsequent ruling of this Court in the case of People vs. Coquia, G.R. No. L-15456, promulgated on June 29, 1963. On November 4, 1963, the prosecution opposed said motions. The defense submitted its reply on November 13, 1963. After due hearing on this incident, the lower court issued the appealed order, dated January 16, 1964, sustaining the defense's new motion to quash upon the ground of prescription. In this order, the lower court, after comparing and finding that the set of facts obtaining in the case at bar is practically identical with those of the Coquia case, opined that inasmuch as the latter is inconsistent with or contradicts the previous decision (L-13027) in the case at bar, promulgated on June 30, 1960, the 1963 ruling in the Coquia case indicates that this Supreme Court intended to abandon the one made in 1960 in the first appeal of this same case (L-13027). Not satisfied, the prosecution (special counsel of the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Pangasinan and the private prosecutor jointly) interposed the present appeal to this Court on a pure question of law. The complainant Miss Meris through her private prosecutor, filed her brief. Subsequently, the Solicitor General, in representation of plaintiff-appellant People of the Philippines, instead of filing a brief, filed, on August 18, 1964, a manifestation, stating to the effect that they are submitting the case without any brief, said complainant having filed a brief in her behalf; and that they are of the opinion that the order of the lower court dismissing the case was well taken. In view of this manifestation, defendant-appellee presented, on September 7, 1964, a motion to dismiss the appeal. This Court, by resolution dated October 2, 1964, denied said motion for the present. Defendant-appellee moved to reconsider said denial but this Court, in its resolution of October 21, 1964, overruled the defendant's motion.1wph1.t Thereafter, said defendant-appellee filed her brief and the case was submitted for decision. The only issue presented for determination in this appeal is the effect of this Court's ruling on the first appeal to this very same case (L-13027) and whether the decision in the later case of People vs. Coquia, G.R. No. L15456, June 29, 1963, warrants the dismissal of the information in the case at bar on the ground of prescription. Suffice it to say that our ruling in Case L-13027, rendered on the first appeal, constitutes the law of the case, and, even if erroneous, it may no longer be disturbed or modified since it has become final long ago. A subsequent reinterpretation of the law may be applied to new cases but certainly not to an old one finally and conclusively determined (People vs. Pinuila, G.R. No. L-11374, May 30, 1958; 55 O.G. 4228).

'Law of the case' has been defined as the opinion delivered on a former appeal. More specifically, it means that whatever is once irrevocably established as the controling legal rule of decision between the same parties in the same case continues to be the law of the case, whether correct on general principles or not, so long as the facts on which such decision was predicated continue to be the facts of the case before the court. (21 C.J.S. 330). (cited in Pinuila case, supra) As a general rule a decision on a prior appeal of the same case is held to be the law of the case whether that decision is right or wrong, the remedy of the party being to seek a rehearing (5 C.J.S. 1277). (also cited in Pinuila case) It is also aptly held in another case that: It need not be stated that the Supreme Court, being the court of last resort, is the final arbiter of all legal question properly brought before it and that its decision in any given case constitutes the law of that particular case. Once its judgment becomes final it is binding on all inferior courts, and hence beyond their power and authority to alter or modify. (Kabigting vs. Acting Director of Prisons, G.R. No. L-15548, October 30, 1962). More categorical still is the pronouncement of this Court in Pomeroy vs. Director of Prisons, 1,14284-85, February 24, 1960: It will be seen that the prisoner's stand assumes that doctrines and rulings of the Supreme Court operate retrospectively, and that they can claim the benefit of decisions in People vs. Hernandez; People vs. Geronimo, and People vs. Dugonon (L-6025-26, July 18, 1956; L-8936, Oct. 31, 1956; and L-8926, June 29, 1957, respectively), promulgated four or more years after the prisoner applicants had been convicted by final judgment and started serving sentence. However, the rule adopted by this Court (and by the Federal Supreme Court) is that judicial doctrines have only prospective operation and do not apply to cases previously decided (People vs. Pinuila, L-11374, promulgated May 30, 1958.) In the foregoing decision, furthermore, this Court quoted and reiterated the rule in the following excerpts from People vs. Pinuila, G.R. No. L-11374, jam cit.: 'The decision of this Court on that appeal by the government from the order of dismissal, holding that said appeal did not place the appellants, including Absalon Bignay, in double jeopardy, signed and concurred in by six justices as against three dissenters headed by the Chief Justice, promulgated way back in the year 1952, has long become the law of the case. It may be erroneous, judged by the law on double jeopardy as recently interpreted by this same Tribunal. Even so, it may not be disturbed and modified. Our recent interpretation of the law may be applied to new cases, but certainly not to an old one finally and conclusively determined. As already stated, the majority opinion in that appeal is now the law of the case.' The same principle, the immutability of the law of the case notwithstanding subsequent changes of judicial opinion, has been followed in civil cases: Fernando vs. Crisostomo, 90 Phil. 585; Padilla vs. Paterno, 93 Phil. 884; Samahang Magsasaka, Inc. vs. Chua Guan, L-7252, February, 1955. It is thus clear that posterior changes in the doctrine of this Court can not retroactively be applied to nullify a prior final ruling in the same proceeding where the prior adjudication was had, whether the case should be civil or criminal in nature. Analysis of the precedents on the issue of prescription discloses that there are two lines of decisions following differing criteria in determining whether prescription of crimes has been interrupted. One line of precedents holds that the filing of the complaint with the justice of the peace (or municipal judge) does interrupt the course of the prescriptive term: People vs. Olarte L-13027, June 30, 1960 and cases cited therein; People vs.

Uba, L-13106, October 16, 1959; People vs. Aquino, 68 Phil. 588, 590. Another series of decisions declares that to produce interruption the complaint or information must have been filed in the proper court that has jurisdiction to try the case on its merits: People vs. Del Rosario, L-15140, December 29, 1960; People vs. Coquia, L-15456, June 29, 1963. In view of this diversity of precedents, and in order to provide guidance for Bench and Bar, this Court has reexamined the question and, after mature consideration, has arrived at the conclusion that the true doctrine is, and should be, the one established by the decisions holding that the filing of the complaint in the Municipal Court, even if it be merely for purposes of preliminary examination or investigation, should, and does, interrupt the period of prescription of the criminal responsibility, even if the court where the complaint or information is filed can not try the case on its merits. Several reasons buttress this conclusion: first, the text of Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code, in declaring that the period of prescription "shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information" without distinguishing whether the complaint is filed in the court for preliminary examination or investigation merely, or for action on the merits. Second, even if the court where the complaint or information is filed may only proceed to investigate the case, its actuations already represent the initial step of the proceedings against the offender. Third, it is unjust to deprive the injured party of the right to obtain vindication on account of delays that are not under his control. All that the victim of the offense may do on his part to initiate the prosecution is to file the requisite complaint. And it is no argument that Article 91 also expresses that the interrupted prescription " shall commence to run again when such proceedings terminate without the accused being convicted or acquitted", thereby indicating that the court in which the complaint or information is filed must have power to acquit or convict the accused. Precisely, the trial on the merits usually terminates in conviction or acquittal, not otherwise. But it is in the court conducting a preliminary investigation where the proceedings may terminate without conviction or acquittal, if the court should discharge the accused because no prima facie case has been shown. Considering the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby overrules the doctrine of the cases of People vs. Del Rosario L-15140, December 29, 1960; and People vs. Coquia, L-15456, promulgated June 29, 1963. And it having been finally decided in the previous appeal that the criminal action here was not barred, the issue of prescription is utterly foreclosed, and all that remains is to try and decide the case on the merits. It is expected that it will be done with the utmost dispatch, this case having been already pending for many years. Wherefore, the appealed order of dismissal is hereby set aside and reversed, and the records of this case ordered remanded to the lower court for further proceedings conformably with this decision. With costs against defendant-appellee. Concepcion, C.J., Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur. G.R. No. L-42557 December 7, 1935

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee, vs. LORENZO REODICA and SINFOROSO CORDERO, defendants. LORENZO REODICA, appellant. Claudio R. Sandoval for appellant. Office of the Solicitor-General Hilado for appellee.


The appellant was sentenced by the Court of First Instance of Palawan, for the falsification of a public document, to an indeterminate penalty of from two years of prision correccional, as the minimum, to eight years and one day of prision mayor, as the maximum. About the month of July, 1931, the appellant was municipal treasurer of Bacuit, Province of Palawan. The information alleges that he falsified the municipal payroll corresponding to that month by making it appear therein that one, Sinforoso Cordero, rendered services as municipal secretary from July 23 to July 31, which was not true, for said Sinforoso Cordero was absent from the municipality of Bacuit from July 23, 1931, and did not return until 1933. The evidence discloses that this municipal payroll was submitted to the appellant by the municipal president, already prepared, together with a latter (Exhibit 3) authorizing him to pay Sinforoso Cordero's salary for the second said Sinforoso Cordero was granted a leave of eight days from July 23 to July 31. When this payroll was received by the appellant on July 23, it was already signed and payment thereof approved by the president, with the latter's certification that the services therein mentioned were rendered. This being the case, the appellant is not guilty of the falsification of this pay roll, as alleged in the information, because the president and not he is the one who certifies that the services of the officers mentioned therein were in fact rendered. However, in view of the leave granted to Sinforoso Cordero from July 23 to July 31, for the purpose of the payment of his salary, this amounted to his having rendered services during this While the information likewise states that the appellant certified in the payroll that paid Sinforoso Cordero's salary on July 31, 1931, it does not allege, however, that this was not true, and although it appears that the appellant made this payment on July 23, he was not charged Cordero having been in fact paid, it was immaterial whether this was done on July 23 of July 31. Such alterations, even granting that the appellant was responsible therefor, do not effect either the veracity of the document of the effects thereof, and do not constitute the crime of falsification. (Decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain of February 25, 1885, and June 21, 1886.) For the foregoing considerations, the appealed judgment is reversed, and the appellant acquitted, with costs de oficio. So ordered. Abad Santos, Hull, Vickers, and Recto JJ., concur.



The dismissal of Civil Case No. SCC-180 filed by the herein petitioners in the respondent Court against the private respondent is sought to be annulled and set aside by this Petition For Review On Certiorari. The antecedent material facts are not disputed. Sometime in 1961, a judgment for a sum of money was rendered in favor of Independent Mercantile Corporation against a certain Manuel Magali by the Municipal Court of Manila in Civil Case No. 85136. After said judgment became final, a writ of execution was issued on July 31, 1961. The Notice of Levy made on September 21, 1961 on a parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 9138 registered in the name of "Domingo Magali, married to Modesta Calimlim", specified that the said levy was only against "all rights, title, action, interest and participation of the defendant Manuel Magali over the parcel of land described in this title. " The Certificate of Sale executed by the Provincial Sheriff of Pangasinan on October 17, 1961 in favor of Independent Mercantile Corporation also stated that the sale referred only to the rights and interest of Manuel Magali over the land described in TCT No. 9138. Manuel Magali is one of the several children of Domingo Magali who had died in 1940 and herein petitioner Modesta Calimlim. However, when the Sheriff issued the final Deed of Sale on January 25, 1963, it was erroneously stated therein that the sale was with respect to "the parcel of land described in this title" (referring to TCT No. 9138) and not only over the rights and interest of Manuel Magali in the same. The execution of the said final Deed of Sale was annotated at the back of said title. On February 23, 1967, Independent Mercantile Corporation filed a petition in the respondent Court to compel Manuel Magali to surrender the owner's duplicate of TCT No. 9138 in order that the same may be cancelled and a new one issued in the name of the said corporation. Not being the registered owner and the title not being in his possession, Manuel Magali failed to comply with the order of the Court directing him to surrender the said title. On June 20, 1967, Independent Mercantile Corporation filed an ex-parte petition to declare TCT No. 9138 as cancelled and to issue a new title in its name. The said petition was granted by the respondent Court and in its Order dated July 13, 1967, it directed the issuance of a new certificate of title in the name of the Independent Mercantile Corporation and the cancellation of TCT No. 9138. By virtue of said Order, the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan issued a new title in the name of the corporation, Identified as TCT No. 68568. On November 21, 1967, petitioner Modesta Calimlim, surviving spouse of Domingo Magali, upon learning that her husband's title over the parcel of land had been cancelled, filed a petition with the respondent Court, sitting as a cadastral court, praying for the cancellation of TCT No. 68568. An opposition to the said petition was filed by Independent Mercantile Corporation. After the parties submitted their respective Memoranda, the respondent Court issued an Order dated June 3, 1968 dismissing the petition. (Rollo, pp. 31-38.) The herein petitioners did not appeal the dismissal of the petition they filed in LRC Record No. 39492 for the cancellation of TCT No. 68568. Instead, on January 11, 1971, they filed the complaint in Civil Case No. SCC-180 praying for the cancellation of the conveyances and sales that had been made with respect to the property, covered by TCT No. 9138 previously registered in the name of Domingo Magali, married to Modesta Calimlim. Named as defendant in said civil case was herein private respondent Francisco Ramos who claimed to have bought the property from Independent Mercantile Corporation on July 25, 1967. Private respondent Francisco Ramos, however, failed to obtain a title over the property in his name in view of the existence of an adverse claim annotated on the title thereof at the instance of the herein petitioners. Private respondent Francisco Ramos filed a Motion To Dismiss Civil Case No. SCC-180 on the ground that the same is barred by prior judgement or by statute of limitations (Rollo. pp. 42-45). Resolving the said Motion, the respondent Court, in its Order dated April 21, 1971, dismissed Civil Case No. SCC- 180 on the ground of estoppel by prior judgment. (Ibid., pp, 10-13.) A Motion For Reconsideration filed by the petitioners was denied by the respondent Judge in his Order of September 2, 1971. (Ibid., pp. 13-15.) A second Motion For Reconsideration was similarly denied in the Order dated September 29, 197 1. (Rollo, pp. 16-17.) Hence, this Petition.

We find merit in this appeal. It is error to consider the dismissal of the petition filed by the herein petitioner in LRC Record No. 39492 for the cancellation of TCT No. 68568 as a bar by prior judgment against the filing of Civil Case No. SCC-180. In order to avail of the defense of res judicata, it must be shown, among others, that the judgment in the prior action must have been rendered by a court with the proper jurisdiction to take cognizance of the proceeding in which the prior judgment or order was rendered. If there is lack of jurisdiction over the subject-matter of the suit or of the parties, the judgment or order cannot operate as an adjudication of the controversy. (2 Moran Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Edition, p. 364.) This essential element of the defense of bar by prior judgment or res judicata does not exist in the case presently considered. The petition filed by the herein petitioners in LRC Record No. 39492 was an apparent invocation of the authority of the respondent Court sitting as a land registration court, Although the said petition did not so state, that reliance was apparently placed on Section 112 of the Land Registration Act. It has been settled by consistent rulings of this Court that a court of first instance, acting as a land registration court, is a court of limited and special jurisdiction. As such, its proceedings are not adequate for the litigation of issues pertaining to an ordinary civil action, such as, questions involving ownership or title to real property. ( Bareng vs. Shintoist Shrine and Japanese Charity Bureau , 83 SCRA 418; Manalo vs. Mariano, 69 SCRA 80; In re: Nicanor T Santos, 102 SCRA 747; Santos vs. Aquino, 101 SCRA 377.) In Hu chon Sunpongco vs. Heirs of Nicolas Ronquillo, L- 27040, December 19, 1970, 36 SCRA 395, we have held that: Section 112 of Act 496 confers authority upon the land registration court to order the cancellation, alteration or amendment of a certificate of title but withdraws from the Court the power to pass upon any question concerning ownership of the registered property, or any incident where the issues involved have become controversial. It may hardly be questioned that the issues raised by the petitioners in their petition to cancel TCT No. 68568 refer to the ownership or title over the property covered thereby. The said petition presented before the respondent Court in the exercise of its limited jurisdiction as a cadastral court, the question of who should be considered the true and lawful owner of the parcel of land embraced in said title. The petitioners alleged therein that they are the true owners of the property, and that TCT No. 68568 which they sought to cancel was issued as a result of the errors which were not of their own making. In short, the petition raised a highly controversial matter which is beyond the judicial competence of a cadastral court to pass upon or to adjudicate. It may neither be claimed that the parties have mutually agreed to submit the aforesaid issues for the determination by the court, it being a fact that herein private respondent was not a party in the petition in LRC Record No. 39492. Incidentally, although the said petition was filed by the herein petitioners on November 21, 1967, the Opposition filed by Independent Mercantile Corporation to the said petition made no mention of the alleged sale of the property in question in favor of private respondent Francisco Ramos on July 5, 1967. This circumstance places in grave doubt the sincerity of said sale and the claim that the private respondent was an innocent purchaser for value of the property in question. In the order of the respondent Judge dated September 29, 1971 denying the second motion for reconsideration, he cited the case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy, 23 SCRA 29, to uphold the view that the petitioners are deemed estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the respondent Court in having taken cognizance of the petition for cancellation of TCT No. 68568, they being the ones who invoked the jurisdiction of the said Court to grant the affirmative relief prayed for therein. We are of the opinion that the ruling laid down in Sibonghanoy may not be applied herein. Neither its factual backdrop nor the philosophy of the doctrine therein expounded fits the case at bar. A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject-matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be conferred by

consent or agreement of the parties. The lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified by recent pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however, that the holding in said case had been applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. The exceptional circumstance involved inSibonghanoy which justified the departure from the accepted concept of nonwaivability of objection to jurisdiction has been ignored and, instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but rather the general rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction of the court that rendered the questioned ruling was held to be barred by estoppel by laches. It was ruled that the lack of jurisdiction having been raised for the first time in a motion to dismiss filed almost fifteen (15) years after the questioned ruling had been rendered, such a plea may no longer be raised for being barred by laches. As defined in said case, laches is "failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned it or declined to assert it." The petitioners in the instant case may not be faulted with laches. When they learned that the title to the property owned by them had erroneously and illegally been cancelled and registered in the name of another entity or person who had no right to the same, they filed a petition to cancel the latter's title. It is unfortunate that in pursuing said remedy, their counsel had to invoke the authority of the respondent Court as a cadastral court, instead of its capacity as a court of general jurisdiction. Their petition to cancel the title in the name of Independent Mercantile Corporation was dismissed upon a finding by the respondent Court that the same was "without merit." No explanation was given for such dismissal nor why the petition lacked merit. There was no hearing, and the petition was resolved solely on the basis of memoranda filed by the parties which do not appear of record. It is even a possibility that such dismissal was in view of the realization of the respondent Court that, sitting as a cadastral court, it lacked the authority to entertain the petition involving as it does a highly controversial issue. Upon such petition being dismissed, the petitioners instituted Civil Case No. SCC-180 on January 1, 1971, or only two and one-half years after the dismissal of their petition in LRC Record No. 39492. Hence, we see no unreasonable delay in the assertion by the petitioners of their right to claim the property which rightfully belongs to them. They can hardly be presumed to have abandoned or waived such right by inaction within an unreasonable length of time or inexcusable negligence. In short, their filing of Civil Case No. SCC-180 which in itself is an implied non-acceptance of the validity of the proceedings had in LRC Record No. 39492 may not be deemed barred by estoppel by laches. It is neither fair nor legal to bind a party by the result of a suit or proceeding which was taken cognizance of in a court which lacks jurisdiction over the same irrespective of the attendant circumstances. The equitable defense of estoppel requires knowledge or consciousness of the facts upon which it is based. The same thing is true with estoppel by conduct which may be asserted only when it is shown, among others, that the representation must have been made with knowledge of the facts and that the party to whom it was made is ignorant of the truth of the matter. (De Castro vs. Gineta, 27 SCRA 623.) The filing of an action or suit in a court that does not possess jurisdiction to entertain the same may not be presumed to be deliberate and intended to secure a ruling which could later be annulled if not favorable to the party who filed such suit or proceeding. Instituting such an action is not a one-sided affair. It can just as well be prejudicial to the one who filed the action or suit in the event that he obtains a favorable judgment therein which could also be attacked for having been rendered without jurisdiction. The determination of the correct jurisdiction of a court is not a simple matter. It can raise highly debatable issues of such importance that the highest tribunal of the land is given the exclusive appellate jurisdiction to entertain the same. The point simply is that when a party commits error in filing his suit or proceeding in a court that lacks jurisdiction to take cognizance of the same, such act may not at once be deemed sufficient basis of estoppel. It could have been the result of an honest mistake, or of divergent interpretations of doubtful legal provisions. If any fault is to be imputed to a party taking such course of action, part of the blame should be placed on the court which shall entertain the suit, thereby lulling the parties into believing that they pursued their remedies in the correct forum. Under the

rules, it is the duty of the court to dismiss an action "whenever it appears that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter." (Sec. 2, Rule 9, Rules of Court.) Should the court render a judgment without jurisdiction, such judgment may be impeached or annulled for lack of jurisdiction (Sec. 30, Rule 132, Ibid), within ten (10) years from the finality of the same. (Art. 1144, par. 3, Civil Code.) The inequity of barring the petitioners from vindicating their right over their property in Civil Case No. SCC180 is rendered more acute in the face of the undisputed fact that the property in question admittedly belonged to the petitioners, and that the title in the name of the private respondent was the result of an error committed by the Provincial Sheriff in issuing the deed of sale in the execution proceeding. The justness of the relief sought by herein petitioners may not be ignored or rendered futile by reason of a doctrine which is of highly doubtful applicability herein. WHEREFORE, the Orders appealed from are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Motion To Dismiss filed by the private respondent in Civil Case No. SCC-180 shall be deemed denied and the respondent Court is ordered to conduct further proceedings in the case. With costs against the private respondent. SO ORDERED. TIJAM vs. SIBONGHANOY (23 SCRA 29) FACTS: Tijam filed for recovery of P1,908 + legal interest from Sibongahanoy. Defendants filed a counter bond with Manila Surety and Fidelity Co (Surety). Judgement was in favour of the plaintiffs, a writ of execution was issued against the defendant. Defendants moved for writ of execution against surety which was granted. Surety moved to quash the writ but was denied, appealed to CA without raising the issue on lack of jurisdiction. CA affirmed the appealed decision. Surety then filed Motion to Dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction against CFI Cebu in view of the effectivity of Judiciary Act of 1948 a month before the filing of the petition for recovery. Act placed original exclusive jurisdiction of inferior courts all civil actions for demands not exceeding 2,000 exclusive of interest. CA set aside its earlier decision and referred the case to SC since it has exclusive jurisdiction over "all cases in which the jurisdiction of any inferior court is in issue. ISSUE: WON Surety bond is estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the CFI Cebu for the first time upon appeal.YES RATIO: SC believes that that the Surety is now barred by laches from invoking this plea after almost fifteen years before the Surety filed its motion to dismiss raising the question of lack of jurisdiction for the first time A party may be estopped or barred from raising a question in different ways and for different reasons. Thus we speak of estoppel in pais, or estoppel by deed or by record, and of estoppel by laches. Laches, in a general sense is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier - Furthermore, it has also been held that after voluntarily submitting a cause and encountering an adverse decision on the merits, it is too late for the loser to question the jurisdiction or power of the court -"undesirable practice" of a party submitting his case for decision and then accepting the judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction, when adverse. : Other merits on the appeal : The surety insists that the lower court should have granted its motion to quash the writ of execution because the same was issued without the summary hearing - Summary hearing is "not intended to be carried on in the formal manner in which ordinary actions are prosecuted" (83 C.J.S. 792). It is, rather, a procedure by which a question is resolved "with dispatch, with the least possible delay, and in preference to ordinary legal and regular judicial proceedings" (Ibid, p. 790). What is essential is that "the defendant is notified or summoned to appear and is given an opportunity to hear what is urged upon him, and to interpose a defense, after which follows an adjudication of the rights of the parties - In the case at bar, the surety had been notified of the plaintiffs' motion for execution and of the date when the same would be

submitted for consideration. In fact, the surety's counsel was present in court when the motion was called, and it was upon his request that the court a quo gave him a period of four days within which to file an answer. Yet he allowed that period to lapse without filing an answer or objection. The surety cannot now, therefore, complain that it was deprived of its day in court The orders appealed from are affirmed. FIGUEROA vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES (GR 147406) FACTS: Petitioner was charged with the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. The RTC found him guilty. In his appeal before the CA, the petitioner, for the first time, questioned RTCs jurisdiction on the case. The CA in affirming the decision of the RTC, ruled that the principle of estoppel by laches has already precluded the petitioner from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC the trial went on for 4 years with the petitioner actively participating therein and without him ever raising the jurisdictional infirmity. The petitioner, for his part, counters that the lack of jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter may be raised at any time even for the first time on appeal. As undue delay is further absent herein, the principle of laches will not be applicable. Hence, this petition. ISSUE: WON petitioners failure to raise the issue of jurisdiction during the trial of this c ase, constitute laches in relation to the doctrine laid down in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, notwithstanding the fact that said issue was immediately raised in petitioners appeal to the CA HELD: No. RATIO: Citing the ruling in Calimlim vs. Ramirez, the Court held that as a general rule, the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal, and is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. Estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar the issue of lack of jurisdiction only in cases in which the factual milieu is analogous to that of Tijam v. Sibonghanoy. Laches should be clearly present for the Sibonghanoy doctrine to be applicable, that is, lack of jurisdiction must have been raised so belatedly as to warrant the presumption that the party entitled to assert it had abandoned or declined to assert it. In Sibonghanoy, the party invoking lack of jurisdiction did so only after fifteen years and at a stage when the proceedings had already been elevated to the CA. Sibonghanoy is an exceptional case because of the presence of laches. In the case at bar, the factual settings attendant in Sibonghanoy are not present. Petitioner Atty. Regalado, after the receipt of the Court of Appeals resolution finding her guilty of contempt, promptly filed a Motion for Reconsideration assailing the said courts jurisdiction based on procedural infirmity in initiating the action. Her compliance with the appellate courts directive to show cause why she should not be cited for contempt and filing a single piece of pleading to that effect could not be considered as an active participation in the judicial proceedings so as to take the case within the milieu of Sibonghanoy. Rather, it is the natural fear to disobey the mandate of the court that could lead to dire consequences that impelled her to comply. The petitioner is in no way estopped by laches in assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC, considering that he raised the lack thereof in his appeal before the appellate court. At that time, no considerable period had yet elapsed for laches to attach.

DISPOSITIVE: Petition for review on certiorari is granted. Criminal case is dismissed.

Reodica v CA 292 SCRA 87 Posted by Evelyn Facts: Isabelita Reodica was allegedly recklessly driving a van and hit Bonsol causing him physical injuries and damage to property amounting to P 8,542.00. Three days after the accident a complaint was filed before the fiscals office against the petitioner. She was charged of "Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property with Slight Physical Injury." After pleading not guilty trial ensued. RTC of Makati rendered the decision convicting petitioner of "quasi offense of reckless imprudence, resulting in damage to property with slight physical injuries" with arresto mayor of 6 months imprisonment and a fine of P 13,542.00. Petitioner made an appeal before the CA which re-affirmed the lower courts decision. In its motion for reconsideration, petitioner now assails that the court erred in giving its penalty on complex damage to property and slight physical injuries both being light offenses over which the RTC has no jurisdiction and it cant impose penalty in excess to w hat the law authorizes. reversal of decision is still possible on ground of prescription or lack of jurisdiction.

Issues: Whether or not the penalty imposed is correct. Whether or not reckless imprudence resulting to damage to property and reckless imprudence resulting to slight physical injuries are light felonies. Whether or not there is a complex crime applying Article 48 of the RPC. Whether or not the duplicity of the information may be questioned for the first time on appeal. Whether or not the RTC of Makati has jurisdiction over the case. Whether the quasi offenses already prescribed. Held: 1. On penalty imposed The proper penalty for reckless imprudence resulting to slight physical injury is public censure (being the penalty next lower in degree to arresto menor see the exception in the sixth paragraph of Article 365 applies). The proper penalty for reckless imprudence resulting to damage to property amounting to 8,542.00 would be arresto mayor in minimum and medium periods. 2. Classification of each felony involved Reckless imprudence resulting to slight physical injuries is a light felony. Public censure is classified under article 25 of RPC as a light penalty and it belongs on the graduated scale in Article 71 of the RPC as a penalty next lower to arresto menor. Reckless imprudence resulting to damage to property is punishable by a correctional penalty of arresto mayor and thus belongs to less grave felony and not as a light felony as claimed by petitioner. 3. Rule on complex crime Art. 48 on penalty for complex crime provides that when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or when an offense is necessary a means for committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period. Both offenses cannot constitute a complex crime because reckless imprudence resulting to slight physical injuries is not either a

grave or less grave felony. Therefore each felony should be filed as a separate complaint subject to distinct penalties. 4. Right to assail duplicity of information Rule 120, section 3 of the Rules of Court provides that when two or more offenses are charged in a single complaint and the accused fails to object against it before the trial, the court may convict the accuse to as many offenses as charged and impose a penalty for each of them. Complainant failed to make the objection before the trial therefore the right to object has been waived. 5. Jurisdiction Jurisdiction of the court is determined by the duration of the penalty and the fine imposed as prescribed by law to the offense charged. Reckless imprudence resulting to slight physical injuries and reckless imprudence resulting to damage to property is within the jurisdiction of the MTC. The case was dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction of the RTC of Makati and the decision of the CA was set aside. Court Ruling on Zaldivia v Reyes and Reodica v CA on Prescription: 1. Zaldivia v Reyes involves a violation of an ordinance while in Reodica v CA the violation was against the RPC. 2. Filing of a complaint in the fiscals office involving a felony under the RPC is sufficient to interrupt the running of prescription. But filing a complaint under the fiscals office involving offenses punished by a special law (i.e. ordinance) does not interrupt the running of prescription. Act 3326 is the governing law on prescriptions of crimes punishable by a special law which states that prescription is only interrupted upon judicial proceeding.