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A.M. No. P-99-1307 April 10, 2001 (Formerly OCA IPI No. 97-323-P) LORENA O. COLLADO, complainant, vs.

TERESITA G. BRAVO, Cl r! o" Co#r$, M#%i&ip'l Tri'l Co#r$ o" N'(#ili'%, L' )%io%, respondent. RESOL)TION *)IS)MBING, J.+ In a complaint-affidavit dated July 14, 1997, complainant Lorena . !ollado c"ar#ed respondent $eresita %. &ravo, !ler' of !ourt of t"e (unicipal $rial !ourt (($!) of )a#uilian, La *nion, +it" %rave (isconduct and,or !onduct -re.udicial to t"e &est Interest of t"e /ervice. In "er affidavit, complainant alle#ed t"at on July 11, 1997, s"e received t"rou#" priority mail, a su0poena from t"e ($! of )a#uilian, La *nion, directin# "er to appear 0efore t"e said court at 1233 -.(., July 14, 1997. 1 $"e su0poena +as duly si#ned 0y respondent in "er capacity as !ler' of !ourt. &efore proceedin# to said court, complainant sou#"t assistance from t"e ffice of t"e %overnor of La *nion and (r. 4rt"ur $. (adaya#, Le#al 4ssistant II of t"e -rovincial Le#al ffice, +"o +as detailed to accompany "er to court. *pon arrivin# at t"e ($! of )a#uilian, complainant tal'ed to respondent. 5"en complainant as'ed for copies of t"e complaint and ot"er details of t"e case, respondent replied t"at no complaint "ad 0een filed and "er intention in issuin# t"e su0poena +as to allo+ a certain -erla &aterina, t"e la0or recruiter of complainant6s son, 7mmanuel !ollado, to tal' to complainant. 1 !omplainant claimed t"at s"e felt "umiliated, "arassed, and e8perienced e8treme nervousness as a result of respondent6s issuance of t"e su0poena. In "er ans+er dated cto0er 9, 1997, respondent admitted issuin# t"e su0poena. /"e claimed, "o+ever, t"at it +as done +it" #ood intentions since s"e only acceded to t"e ur#ent re:uest of t"e spouses ;o#elio and -erla &aterina +"o came to "er office on July 7, 1997, airin# t"eir #rievances a#ainst complainant. ;espondent averred t"at "er only purpose in issuin# t"e su0poena +as to ena0le complainant and t"e &aterinas to settle t"eir differences. <

In its (emorandum of Fe0ruary =, 1999, t"e ffice of t"e !ourt 4dministrator ( !4) recommended t"at t"e complaint 0e doc'eted as an administrative matter and respondent 0e fined Five $"ousand -esos (->,333.33) for %rave (isconduct +it" a 5arnin# t"at t"e commission of a similar act +ould merit a more serious penalty. $"e !ourt re:uired t"e parties to manifest +"et"er t"ey +ere +illin# to su0mit t"is case for decision on t"e 0asis of t"e pleadin#s already filed. ;espondent a#reed. $"ou#" complainant "ad not yet responded, and "er compliance is no+ deemed +aived, +e s"all no+ resolve "er complaint. ;espondent6s act of issuin# t"e su0poena to complainant +as evidently not directly or remotely connected +it" respondent6s .udicial or administrative duties. It appears t"at s"e merely +anted to act as a mediator or conciliator in t"e dispute 0et+een complainant and t"e &aterinas, upon t"e re:uest of t"e latter. ;espondent as !ler' of !ourt is primarily tas'ed +it" ma'in# out and issuin# all +rits and processes issuin# from t"e court. /"e s"ould "ave 'no+n or ou#"t to 'no+ +"at a su0poena is. ?4 su0poena is a process directed to a person re:uirin# "im to attend and to testify at t"e "earin# or t"e trial of an action, or at any investi#ation conducted 0y competent aut"ority, or for t"e ta'in# of "is deposition.? 4 /"e s"ould "ave 'no+n t"at a process is ?t"e means +"ere0y a court compels t"e appearance of t"e defendant 0efore it@ or a compliance +it" its demands.? > Aence, a0sent any proceedin#s, suit, or action commenced or pendin# 0efore a court, a su0poena may not issue. In t"is case, respondent 'ne+ t"ere +as no case filed a#ainst complainant. )eit"er "ad complainant commenced any proceedin# a#ainst t"e &aterinas for +"ose 0enefit t"e su0poena +as issued. ;espondent, t"en, "ad a0solutely neit"er t"e po+er nor t"e aut"ority nor t"e duty to issue a su0poena to t"e complainant. 9 -erusal of t"e su0poena s"e issued to complainant s"o+s t"at t"e form used +as t"e one used in criminal cases, #ivin# complainant t"e impression t"at "er failure to appear +ould su0.ect "er to ?t"e penalty of la+,? and t"at t"e su0poena +as issued +it" t"e trial court6s sanction. 5e find, t"erefore, t"at respondent +as usin# +it"out aut"ority some element of state coercion a#ainst complainant +"o +as understanda0ly compelled to "eed t"e contents of t"e su0poena resultin# in "er "umiliation. /uc" na'ed a0use of aut"ority 0y complainant could not 0e allo+ed to pass +it"out appropriate sanction. 4ccordin#ly, t"is !ourt "as no

recourse 0ut to a#ree +it" t"e recommendation of t"e respondent 0e disciplined and fined.

!4 t"at

4suncion Bu in !ivil !ase )o. >=1< in t"e amount of -91>,333.33 +it" interest, and->3,333.33 as and 0y +ay of attorney6s fees. $"e facts2 $"e spouses ;o:ue Bu, /r. and 4suncion Bu are t"e controllin# stoc'"olders of Leyte Lum0er, a 0usiness enterprise en#a#ed in t"e sale of lum0er, 0uildin# and electrical supplies and ot"er construction materials. Curin# "is lifetime, 7n#r. &asilio %. (a#no ((a#no) entered into a ver0al a#reement +it" Leyte Lum0er t"rou#" ;o:ue Bu, /r., +"ere0y t"e latter a#reed to supply (a#no +it" 0uildin# materials "e may need in "is construction 0usiness. $"e success of (a#no6s 0usiness #ave 0irt" to t"e &asilio %. (a#no !onstruction and Cevelopment 7nterprises, Inc. (&% (a#no). +in# to t"is fruitful relations"ip, t"e t+o (;o:ue Bu, /r. and (a#no) entered into a .oint venture, t"e %reat -acific !onstruction !ompany (%;7-4!), +it" Bu as -resident and (a#no as Dice -resident.< (a#no, for +"at "e o0tained from Leyte Lum0er, paid eit"er in cas" or 0y c"ec'. $"e relations"ip 0et+een Bu and (a#no 0e#an in 197> and continued until (a#no6s deat" on 4u#ust 11, 197=.4 &y t"e time t"e 0usiness relations"ip 0et+een Bu and (a#no +as comin# to an end, t"e respondents alle#e t"at t"e parties "ave dealt +it" eac" ot"er to t"e amount of at least -7,39=,333.33.> n January <3, 1979, in t"e ;$! of $aclo0an !ity, t"e petitioners instituted t+o (1) separate complaints for sums of money +it" dama#es and preliminary attac"ment a#ainst t"e respondents. ne +as Civil Case No. $%&&,9raffled to &ranc" = of t"e court, instituted 0y Leyte Lum0er a#ainst &% (a#no and t"e 7state of &asilio (a#no, to collect on t"e principal amount of -1,173,1<4.=7 for construction materials claimed to "ave 0een o0tained on credit 0y &% (a#no, and t"e ot"er +as Civil Case No. $%&!,7 raffled to &ranc" 9, filed 0y t"e Bu spouses a#ainst &% (a#no and t"e 7state of &asilio (a#no, to collect upon loans and advances (-<,>7>,333.33) alle#edly made 0y t"e spouses to &% (a#no. 4s defendants in Civil Case No. $%&!, t"e respondents moved to dismiss t"e case on t"e #round t"at t"e claims must 0e pursued a#ainst t"e estate of t"e deceased (a#no. $"e motion +as denied,

5A7;7F ;7, respondent $eresita %. &ravo is "ere0y found %*IL$B of %rave (isconduct and !onduct -re.udicial to t"e &est Interest of t"e /ervice for +"ic" s"e is fined Five $"ousand -esos (->,333.33) +it" a 54;)I)% t"at a repetition of t"e same or similar act +ould 0e treated more severely. / ;C7;7C. Bellosillo, Mendoza, Buena and De Leon, Jr., JJ ., concur.
,oo$%o$ 1 4nne8 ?4,? ;ollo, p. 1.1 ;ollo, p. 1.< Id. at =.4 ;ule 11, /ec. 1, 1997 ;*L7/ F !IDIL -; !7C*;7.> F.&. ( ;7) , -AIL. L45 CI!$I )4;B (<rd 7d. 19==) 74=.9 Caamic v. Galapon, Jr., 1<7 /!;4 <93, <9> (1994).

G.R. No-. 13.701-02

O&$o/ r 17, 2000

SPO)SES RO*)E 1), SR. '%2 AS)NCION 1) '%2 LE1TE L)MBER 1ARD 3 4ARD5ARE CO., INC.,petitioners, vs. BASILIO G. MAGNO CONSTR)CTION AND DEVELOPMENT ENTERPRISES, INC. '%2 T4E ESTATE O, BASILIO G. MAGNO, respondents. C7!I/I GARCIA, SR., J.: In t"is petition for revie+ under ;ule 4> of t"e ;ules of !ourt, t"e spouses ;o:ue Bu, /r. and 4suncion Bu, +it" co-petitioner Leyte Lum0er Bard E Aard+are, !o., Inc., (Leyte Lum0er) assail and see' to set aside t"e consolidated Cecision 1 dated cto0er 13, 199= of t"e !ourt of 4ppeals (!4) in CA-G.R. CV Nos. !"# and !"#$ , as reiterated in its ;esolution1 of (ay 11, 1999, denyin# t"e petitionersF motion for reconsideration. CA-G.R. CV No. !"# is an appeal 0y t"e spouses ;o:ue Bu, /r. and 4suncion Bu from t"e decision of t"e ;e#ional $rial !ourt (;$!) of $aclo0an !ity in its !ivil !ase )o. >=1<, +"ile CA-G.R. CV No. !"#$ is an appeal ta'en 0y Leyte Lum0er Bard from t"e decision of t"e same ;$! in its !ivil !ase )o. >=11. $"e assailed !4 decision "olds petitioner Leyte Lum0er lia0le to t"e "erein respondents in !ivil !ase )o. >=11 for t"e amount of -9<1,1<>.91 +it" interest, and, on t"e same 0reat", "olds t"e respondents lia0le to petitioner spouses ;o:ue Bu, /r. and )

and eventually t"e estate of (a#no +as dropped as partydefendant. n t"e ot"er "and, in Civil Case No. $%&&, durin# t"e pretrial conference, t"e petitioners, as plaintiffs in t"at case, proposed t"at a commissioner 0e appointed. $"e respondents as defendants in t"e case interposed no o0.ections, and so 4tty. ;omulo $iu +as appointed and tas'ed +it" t"e duty to e8amine and ma'e a detailed report on t"e documents and 0oo's of account of t"e parties to determine t"e nature and e8tent of t"eir respective claims and lia0ilities.= 4tty. $iu +as later replaced 0y (r. *ldarico Guintana, and finally 0y (r. 7rnesto !. /ilvano, +"o is a la+yer and an accountant9 0y profession. $"e commissioner prepared a summary of account receiva0les13 and su0mitted t"ree reports2 t"e first, dated )ovem0er 1, 19=3@ t"e second, dated Fe0ruary 19, 19=1@ and t"e t"ird, dated (arc" 19, 19=1.11 $o t"ese reports t"e parties su0mitted t"eir respective comments and o0.ections. Curin# trial, t"e petitioners presented in Civil Case No. $%&& 0efore &ranc" = t"ree +itnesses, namely2 petitioner ;o:ue Bu, /r., "imself, 4tty. 7rnesto !. /ilvano (t"e commissioner) and Bao -in# !"an, cas"ier of !onsolidated &an' and $rust !o., +"o testified merely on t"e circumstances surroundin# specific c"ec's t"at +ere issued durin# t"e course of t"e transactions 0et+een t"e parties. For t"eir part, t"e respondents offered t+o +itnesses2 t"e +ido+ -erpetua (a#no and commissioner /ilvano. 4s re#ards Civil Case No. $%&! 0efore &ranc" 9, t"e petitioners presented t"ree +itnesses2 ;o:ue Bu, /r., ;o:ue Bu, Jr., and senior 0oo''eeper 7duardo de Deyra of t"e $aclo0an &ranc" of t"e *nited !oconut -lanters &an'. For t"eir part, t"e respondents did not present a sin#le +itness, 0ut adopted t"eir evidence presented in !ivil !ase )o. >=11. $"ey did not, "o+ever, ma'e a formal offer of t"eir evidence in 0ot" cases. n June 17, 199<, &ranc" = of t"e court rendered its decision 11 in !ivil !ase )o. >=11, t"e decretal portion of +"ic" reads2 5A7;7F ;7, .ud#ment is "ere0y rendered in favor of t"e defendant and a#ainst t"e plaintiff2 1. Cismissin# t"e complaint@

1. Ceclarin# t"at defendant "ad made overpayment to t"e plaintiff in t"e sum of -913,1<9.91@ <. rderin# t"e plaintiff to return to t"e defendant t"e amount of -913,1<9.91 +it" interest of 11H per annum from t"e date "ereof until fully paid@ 4. rderin# t"e plaintiff to pay defendant t"e sum of -133,333.33 for e8emplary dama#es@ >. rderin# t"e plaintiff to pay defendant t"e sum of ->3,333.33 for attorney6s fees and liti#ation e8penses@ and 9. / rderin# plaintiff to pay t"e costs of t"is suit.

;C7;7C.

4lso, on t"e same date - June 17, 199< - &ranc" 9 rendered its decision1< in Civil Case No. $%&!, t"e 'allo of +"ic" reads2 5A7;7F ;7, .ud#ment is "ere0y rendered in favor of t"e defendant and a#ainst t"e plaintiffs2 1. Cismissin# t"e plaintiffs6 complaint@ 1. Ceclarin# t"at defendant "ad made overpayments to t"e plaintiffs in t"e sum of -1,931,91>.>1@ <. rderin# plaintiffs to return to defendant t"e sum of -1,931,91>.>1 +it" 11H interest per annum from t"e date "ereof until fully paid@ 4. $"e 5rit of 4ttac"ment immediately dissolved@ is "ere0y ordered

>. rderin# t"e plaintiffs to pay defendant t"e sum of -133,333.33 moral and e8emplary dama#es@ 9. rderin# t"e plaintiffs to pay defendant -133,333.33 attorney6s fees and liti#ation e8penses@ 7. rderin# plaintiffs to pay t"e costs of t"is suit.

;C7;7C.

$"e t+o separate decisions of even date +ere penned 0y Jud#e %etulio (. Francisco, t"e presidin# .ud#e of &ranc" 9 to +"ic" only !ivil !ase )o. >=1< +as raffled. In ot"er +ords, Jud#e Francisco of &ranc" 9 rendered t"e decision in !ivil !ase )o. >=11 earlier raffled to and "eard 0y &ranc" = of +"ic" "e +as not t"e presidin# .ud#e. $"e parties did not move for a reconsideration of t"e t+o decisions nor did t"ey call t"e attention of Jud#e Francisco on t"e a0sence of an order for consolidation of t"e t+o cases. Instead, t"ey directly interposed t"eir respective appeals to t"e !4. In t"e !4, t"e t+o cases on appeal, doc'eted as CA-G.R. CV Nos. !"# (for !ivil !ase )o. >=1<) and !"#$14(for !ivil !ase )o. >=11), +ere consolidated. n cto0er 13, 199=, t"e !4 rendered its :uestioned consolidated decision1> dispositively readin#, t"us2 5A7;7F ;7, premises considered, .ud#ment is "ere0y rendered as follo+s2 In !ivil !ase )o. >=11, t"e appealed decision is MODI,IED 0y declarin# t"at defendant &.%. (a#no !onstruction and Cevelopment 7nterprises, Inc., made an overpayment in t"e amount of -9<1,1<>.91, instead of -913,1<9.91 as found 0y t"e court a :uo, and orderin# plaintiff to return said amount to defendant, +it" interest of 11H per annum from promul#ation "ereof until fully paid, and 0y DELETING t"e a+ard of e8emplary dama#es in t"e sum of -133,333.33 in favor of defendant. $"us modified, t"e .ud#ment 0elo+ is A,,IRMED in all ot"er respects. In !ivil !ase )o. >=1<, t"e appealed decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. 4ccordin#ly, defendant &.%. (a#no !onstruction and Cevelopment 7nterprises, Inc. is ordered to pay plaintiffs t"e sum of -91>,333.33, +it" 11H interest per annum from promul#ation "ereof until fully paid, and t"e furt"er sum of ->3,333.33 0y +ay of attorney6s fees, plus costs of suit. / ;C7;7C.

5it" t"eir motion for reconsideration "avin# 0een denied 0y t"e !4 t"rou#" its ;esolution of (ay 11, 1999, t"e petitioners are no+ +it" t"is !ourt via t"e present recourse, su0mittin# t"e follo+in# ar#uments for our consideration2 4. ;e2 !.4.-%.;. !D )o. 4<7142 (!ivil !ase )o. >=1<) 1. $A7 ! *;$ F 4--74L/ ! ((I$$7C %;4D7 7;; ; I) ;7F*/I)% $ 7I!L*C7 7DIC7)!7 FF7;7C $ ;$! &;4)!A =, &*$ ) $ $ &;4)!A 9, F 5AI!A 7DIC7)!7 ;$! &;4)!A 9 I(-; -7;LB $ J J*CI!I4L ) $I!7. 1. 4//*(I)% F ; $A7 /4J7 F 4;%*(7)$ $A4$ ;$! &;4)!A 9 ! *LC $4J7 J*CI!I4L ) $I!7 F 7DIC7)!7 ) $ FF7;7C $ I$, ) )7$A7L7//, /*!A 7DIC7)!7 /A 5 $A4$ ;7/- )C7)$ &.%. (4%) I/ LI4&L7 $ -7$I$I )7;/ F ; -<,97>,333.33. &. ;e2 !.4.-%.;. !D )o. 4<71>2 (!ivil !ase )o. >=11) 1. $A7 ! *;$ F 4--74L/ ! ((I$$7C %;4D7 7;; ; I) 4FFI;(I)% $A7 C7!I/I ) F ;$! &;4)!A 9 &7!4*/7 $A7 L4$$7; A4C ) J*;I/CI!$I ) D7; !IDIL !4/7 ) . >=11 5AI!A 54/ $;I7C I) I$/ 7)$I;7$B &B ;$! &;4)!A =. 1. $A7 ! *;$ F 4--74L/ ! ((I$$7C %;4D7 7;; ; I) 4FFI;(I)% $A7 C7!I/I ) F ;$! &;4)!A 9 &7!4*/7 &4/7C ) 7DIC7)!7 -;7/7)$7C $ ;$! &;4)!A =, ) ! *;$ ! *LC A4D7 C7!IC7C I) F4D ; F ;7/- )C7)$/. In sum, t"e petitioners :uestion, 'irs(, t"e propriety of t"e presidin# .ud#e of &ranc" 9 renderin# a decision in a case filed and "eard in &ranc" =. $"ey claim t"at &ranc" 9 "ad no .urisdiction to decide !ivil !ase )o. >=11 pendin# in &ranc" = in t"e a0sence of a motion or order of consolidation of t"e t+o cases@ second, &ranc" 9 erred in considerin# t"e evidence presented in &ranc" =@ and ()ird, t"e preponderance of evidence in 0ot" cases +arrants a resolution of t"e cases in t"eir favor. $"e respondents, on t"e ot"er "and, "old steadfast to t"e !4Fs findin# of overpayment on t"eir part, and t"at &ranc" 9 "ad

.urisdiction to render a decision in !ivil !ase )o. >=11 of &ranc" = since t"e circumstance t"at t"e .ud#e +"o penned t"e decision in 0ot" cases did not "ear t"e ot"er case in its entirety is not a compellin# reason to .ettison "is findin#s and conclusions. 19 n t"e issue of &ranc" 9 ta'in# .udicial notice of t"e evidence presented in &ranc" =, t"e respondents ar#ue t"at t"ere +as a previous a#reement of t"e parties +it" respect to t"e same. n t"e :uestion of t"e propriety of Jud#e Francisco of &ranc" 9 formulatin# t"e decision in !ivil !ase )o. >=11 +"ic" +as pendin# and tried in &ranc" =, +e declare t"at t"ere +as not"in# irre#ular in t"e procedure ta'en. $"e records s"o+ t"at t"ere appears to "ave 0een a previous a#reement to eit"er transfer or consolidate t"e t+o cases for decision 0y t"e presidin# .ud#e of &ranc" 9. 4s found 0y t"e !42 Kalt"ou#" !ivil !ase )o. >=11 +as raffled to and tried in &ranc" =K, t"e court a :uo issued .oint orders dated Fe0ruary 19, 199< and /eptem0er 13, 199< in !ivil !ase )os. >=11 and >=1<K;eco#niLin# t"e apparent transfer of !ivil !ase )o. >=11 to t"e court a :uo, appellantsF MpetitionersFN counsel filed "is formal appearance dated cto0er 13, 199< +it" &ranc" 9K$"ere is t"erefore no 0asis to appellantsF contention t"at t"e court a :uo is devoid of aut"ority to decide !ivil !ase )o. >=11.17 Indeed, +"en t"e respondents filed a Mo(ion (o Li'(, Dissolve and *uas) ()e +ri(s o' A((ac)men( +it" &ranc" 9 on January 13, 199<, t"e caption t"ereof indicated t"e doc'et num0ers of 0ot" cases.1= Li'e+ise, on cto0er 19, 199<, +"en t"e petitioners6 ne+ counsel entered "is Formal 4ppearance, in t"e caption t"ereof +as also +ritten t"e doc'et num0ers of ,o() cases.19 -etitioners6 previous counsel of lon#standin# (+"ose representation dates 0ac' to t"e filin# of t"e t+o complaints in 1979) filed "is (otion to 5it"dra+ as !ounsel on cto0er <3, 199<, and t"e caption t"ereof similarly indicated t"e doc'et num0ers of ,o() cases.13 /u0se:uent orders of t"e court +"ic" emanated from &ranc" 9 also 0ear, in t"e caption t"ereof, t"e titles and doc'et num0ers of ,o() cases.11 In ot"er +ords, as early as si8 mont"s prior to t"e promul#ation of Jud#e FranciscoFs decisions in t"e t+o (1) cases, t"ere appears to "ave 0een a transfer or consolidation of said cases in &ranc" 9 and t"e parties 'ne+ of it, al0eit t"e actual date +"en t"e t+o cases

+ere consolidated or transferred does not appear on record. )onet"eless, t"e fact remains t"at no opposition or o0.ection in any manner +as re#istered 0y eit"er of t"e parties to t"e same, t"ere0y evincin# t"eir consent t"ereto. It is, t"erefore, already too late in t"e day for t"e petitioners to :uestion t"e competence of Jud#e Francisco to render t"e separate decisions in t"e t+o cases. $o reec"o +"at t"is !ourt "as said 0efore2 -etitioners may not no+ :uestion t"e transfer or consolidation of t"e t+o cases on appeal, for t"ey 'ne+ of it and did not :uestion t"e same in t"e court 0elo+. $"ey may not no+ ma'e a total turn-around and adopt a contrary stance@ more so +"en t"e .ud#ment issued is adverse to t"eir cause.11 $"e ne8t lo#ical :uestions are2 Is t"e consolidation of t"e t+o cases (!ivil !ase )os. >=11 and >=1<) a procedural step +"ic" t"e court a -uo could "ave properly ta'enO Is it a remedy availa0le +it"in t"e conte8t of t"e surroundin# circumstancesO 5e ans+er 0ot" :uestions in t"e affirmative. $"e t+o cases +ere filed .ust a fe+ mont"s apart@ 1< t"ey involve simple cases of collection of sums of money 0et+een identical parties and no ot"er@ t"e respondents (as defendants t"erein) claim, in 0ot" cases, essentially t"e same defense, +"ic" is overpayment@ t"ey cover t"e same period of transactin# continuous 0usiness t"at spans four years@ t"ey relate to simple issues of fact t"at are intimately related to eac" ot"er@ t"ey entailed t"e presentation of practically identical evidence and +itnesses@ in fact, a 0road part of t"e evidence and testimonies in one case +as totally adopted or reproduced in t"e ot"er 0y eit"er or 0ot" parties. 4nd t"e trial court, 0ein# multi-sala courts, its &ranc"es 9 and = possessed .urisdiction to try eit"er or 0ot" cases on t"eir o+n. 4 court may order several actions pendin# 0efore it to 0e tried to#et"er +"ere t"ey arise from t"e same act, event or transaction, involve t"e same or li'e issues, and depend lar#ely or su0stantially on t"e same evidence, provided t"at t"e court "as .urisdiction over t"e case to 0e consolidated and t"at a .oint trial +ill not #ive one party an undue advanta#e or pre.udice t"e su0stantial ri#"ts of any of t"e parties (citin# 1 !J/, 1<47). !onsolidation of actions is e8pressly aut"oriLed under /ection 1, ;ule <1 of t"e ;ules of !ourt2

?/ection 1. !onsolidation. P 5"en actions involvin# a common :uestion of la+ or fact are pendin# 0efore t"e court, it may order a .oint "earin# or trial of any or all t"e matters in issue in t"e actions@ it may order all t"e actions consolidated@ and it may ma'e suc" orders concernin# proceedin#s t"erein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.? $"e o0vious purpose of t"e a0ove rule is to avoid multiplicity of suits, to #uard a#ainst oppression and a0use, to prevent delays, to clear con#ested doc'ets, to simplify t"e +or' of t"e trial court@ in s"ort t"e attainment of .ustice +it" t"e least e8pense and ve8ation to t"e parties liti#ants (citin# 1 !J/ 1<41-1<4<). !onsolidation of actions is addressed to t"e sound discretion of t"e court, and its action in consolidatin# +ill not 0e distur0ed in t"e a0sence of manifest a0use of discretion. In t"e instant case, respondent .ud#e did not a0use "is discretion in orderin# t"e .oint trial of t"e t+o cases. $"ere is no s"o+in# t"at suc" .oint trial +ould pre.udice any su0stantial ri#"t of petitioner. )eit"er does t"e latter :uestion t"e court6s .urisdiction to try and decide t"e t+o cases.14 Li'e+ise, it 0ecame apparent t"at, after t"e commissioner filed "is reports in court and t"e parties t"eir comments t"ereto, 0ut 0efore trial could commence, t"e claims and defenses of t"e parties in !ivil !ase )o. >=1< are covered 0y and may 0e t"res"ed out 0y a consideration of t"e evidence presented in !ivil !ase )o. >=11 as +ell, +"ic" consisted mainly of t"e reports of t"e commissioner. &ased on t"e commissionerFs reports in t"e case pendin# in &ranc" = (!ivil !ase )o. >=11), t"e petitionersF claims, includin# t"ose in &ranc" 9, appear to "ave 0een paid@ indeed, t"is is in essence t"e defense of t"e respondents as set fort" in t"eir 4ns+ers to t"e t+o complaints. Bet, despite all t"ese, neit"er of t"e la+yers for t"e parties sou#"t a consolidation of t"e (.o cases, +"ic" +ould ot"er+ise "ave 0een mandatory. 5"en t+o or more cases involve t"e same parties and affect closely related su0.ect matters, t"ey 6#-$ / &o%-oli2'$ 2 '%2 7oi%$l8 $ri 2, in order to serve t"e 0est interests of t"e parties and to settle e8peditiously t"e issues involved. !onsolidation, +"en appropriate, also contri0utes to t"e declo##in# of court doc'etsK

Inasmuc" as t"e 0indin# force of t"e Cealers"ip 4#reement +as put in :uestion, it +ould 0e more practical and convenient to su0mit to t"e Iloilo court all t"e incidents and t"eir conse:uences. $"e issues in 0ot" civil cases pertain to t"e respective o0li#ations of t"e same parties under t"e Cealers"ip 4#reement. $"us, every transaction as +ell as lia0ility arisin# from it must 0e resolved in t"e .udicial forum +"ere it is put in issue. $"e &o%-oli2'$io% o" $9 $:o &'- - $9 % / &o6 - i6p r'$i; to a complete, compre"ensive and consistent determination of all t"ese related issues. $+o cases involvin# t"e same parties and affectin# closely related su0.ect matters 6#-$ / or2 r 2 &o%-oli2'$ 2 '%2 7oi%$l8 $ri 2 i% &o#r$, +"ere t"e earlier case +as filed. $"e consolidation of cases is proper +"en t"ey involve t"e resolution of common :uestions of la+ or facts. Indeed, upon t"e consolidation of t"e cases, t"e interests of 0ot" parties in t"e t+o civil cases +ill 0est 0e served and t"e issues involved t"erein e8peditiously settled. 4fter all, t"ere is no :uestion on t"e propriety of t"e venue in t"e Iloilo case.1> (7mp"asis supplied) !onsolidation of cases, +"en proper, results in t"e simplification of proceedin#s, +"ic" saves time, t"e resources of t"e parties and t"e courts, and a possi0le ma.or a00reviation of trial. It is a desira0le end to 0e ac"ieved, +it"in t"e conte8t of t"e present state of affairs +"ere court doc'ets are full and individual and state finances are limited. It contri0utes to t"e s+ift dispensation of .ustice, and is in accord +it" t"e aim of affordin# t"e parties a .ust, speedy, and ine8pensive determination of t"eir cases 0efore t"e courts. 4not"er compellin# ar#ument t"at +ei#"s "eavily in favor of consolidation is t"e avoidance of t"e possi0ility of conflictin# decisions 0ein# rendered 0y t"e courts in t+o or more cases +"ic" +ould ot"er+ise re:uire a sin#le .ud#ment. 19 In fine, +e declare t"e consolidation of t"e t+o cases to "ave 0een made +it" re#ularity. $o :uote +"at t"e !ourt "as said in an earlier case2 $"e ordered consolidation of cases, to our mind, crystalliLes into reality t"e t"in'in# of our predecessors t"at2

?. . . $"e +"ole purpose and o0.ect of procedure is to ma'e t"e po+ers of t"e court fully and completely availa0le for .ustice. $"e most perfect procedure t"at can 0e devised is t"at +"ic" #ives opportunity for t"e most complete and perfect e8ercise of t"e po+ers of t"e court +it"in t"e limitations set 0y natural .ustice. It is t"at one +"ic", in ot"er +ords, #ives t"e most perfect opportunity for t"e po+ers of t"e court to transmute t"emselves into concrete acts of .ustice 0et+een t"e parties 0efore it. $"e purpose of suc" a procedure is not to restrict t"e .urisdiction of t"e court over t"e su0.ect matter, 0ut to #ive it effective facility in ri#"teous action. It may 0e said in passin# t"at t"e most salient o0.ection +"ic" can 0e ur#ed a#ainst procedure today is t"at it so restricts t"e e8ercise of t"e court6s po+ers 0y tec"nicalities t"at part of its aut"ority effective for .ustice 0et+een t"e parties is many times an inconsidera0le portion of t"e +"ole. $"e purpose of procedure is not to t"+art .ustice. Its proper aim is to facilitate t"e application of .ustice to t"e rival claims of contendin# parties. It +as created not to "inder and delay 0ut to facilitate and promote t"e administration of .ustice. It does not constitute t"e t"in# itself +"ic" courts are al+ays strivin# to secure to liti#ants. It is desi#ned as t"e means 0est adapted to o0tain t"at t"in#. In ot"er +ords, it is a means to an end. It is t"e means 0y +"ic" t"e po+ers of t"e court are made effective in .ust .ud#ments. 5"en it loses t"e c"aracter of t"e one and ta'es on t"at of t"e ot"er t"e administration of .ustice 0ecomes incomplete and unsatisfactory and lays itself open to #rave criticism.?17 Aavin# #iven t"eir assent to t"e consolidation of !ivil !ase )os. >=11 and >=1<, petitionersF ot"er assi#nment of errors must fail. $"e evidence in eac" case effectively 0ecame t"e evidence for 0ot", and t"ere ceased to e8ist any need for t"e decidin# .ud#e to ta'e .udicial notice of t"e evidence presented in eac" case. n t"e issue relative to t"e pecuniary lia0ilities of t"e parties in respect of t"eir correspondin# claims and defenses, suffice it to state t"at t"is !ourt is not a trier of facts. $"e findin#s of fact of t"e !4, supported as t"ey are 0y t"e evidence on record, 0ind t"is !ourt.

-refatorily, +e restate t"e time-"onored principle t"at in petitions for revie+ under ;ule 4> of t"e ;ules of !ourt, only :uestions of la+ may 0e raised. It is not our function to analyLe or +ei#" all over a#ain evidence already considered in t"e proceedin#s 0elo+, our .urisdiction 0ein# limited to revie+in# only errors of la+ t"at may "ave 0een committed 0y t"e lo+er court. $"e resolution of factual issues is t"e function of lo+er courts, +"ose findin#s on t"ese matters are received +it" respect. 4 :uestion of la+ +"ic" +e may pass upon must not involve an e8amination of t"e pro0ative value of t"e evidence presented 0y t"e liti#ants. 1= 5e disa#ree, "o+ever, +it" t"e !4 in "oldin# t"e petitioners lia0le to t"e respondents in t"e amount of-141,=17.17 representin# t"e unpaid account of %;7-4! for fillin# materials delivered to it 0y &% (a#no. 4s it is, %;7-4! possesses a distinct corporate personality separate from Leyte Lum0er +"om &% (a#no sou#"t to 0e lia0le t"erefor. %;7-4!Fs o+n lia0ilities may not 0e made c"ar#ea0le a#ainst petitioner Leyte Lum0er as t"e !4 ruled after piercin# t"e corporate veil of %;7-4!. $o our mind, t"e situation does not call for a piercin# of %;7-4!Fs corporate veil since t"ere is no clear and convincin# evidence s"o+in# fraud and ille#ality in t"e formation and operation of %;7-4!. Guite t"e contrary, +"at "as 0een proved su##ests t"at %;7-4! +as a product of t"e close 0usiness and personal ties t"at 0ound ;o:ue Bu, /r., and (a#no durin# 0etter times. It +as a,ona 'ide .oint venture 0et+een t"e t+o. 5e cannot "elp 0ut discern "o+ t"e respondents +ere put to e8pense 0y t"e petitionersF mis"andlin# of t"e cases in t"e trial courts. First of all is t"e petitionersF filin# of t+o (1) separate actions of simple collection cases +"ic" +ere ultimately found to revolve essentially around t"e same factual milieu. 4nd, as soon as it 0ecame apparent t"at t"e t+o cases +ere ine8ora0ly lin'ed, it 0ecame t"e duty of t"e petitioners to see' a consolidation of t"e cases a :uo. Bet t"ey did not@ instead, t"ey too' advanta#e of every perceived tec"nicality, all t"e +ay to t"is !ourt, in order to defeat t"e respondentsF case. $"ey vi#orously opposed t"e adoption 0y t"e respondents of t"e latterFs evidence in t"e ot"er 0ranc" of t"e court, t"ere0y advancin# misleadin# ar#uments for consolidation t"at "ad already occurred +it" t"eir visi0le consent. $"ey attri0ute error to t"e trial courtFs ?ta'in# .udicial notice? of t"e respondentsF evidence in t"e ot"er court, +"en it no lon#er +as a proper ar#ument in vie+ of t"e resultant consolidation. 5e do not approve of t"e practice of counsel employin# su0tlety, advancin# #ratuitous ar#uments t"at tend only to muddle t"e issues, and

seiLin# upon every opportunity to +in t"e case for "is client, +"en in t"e first place t"e confusion in t"e proceedin#s +as precipitated 0y "is failure to act accordin#ly, as counsel for t"e plaintiffs, in see'in# t"e proper consolidation of t"e t+o cases. $"e result is a simple collection case t"at "as remained pendin# for t+enty-seven years no+. Li'e+ise, +"at t"e petitioners did in filin# t"e t+o cases in different 0ranc"es of t"e court may 0e "eld to 0e tantamount to forum s"oppin# +"ic" not only put t"e respondents to additional unnecessary e8pense, 0ut +asted t"e precious time of t"e courts as +ell. Forum-s"oppin# is a deplora0le practice of liti#ants in resortin# to t+o different fora for t"e purpose of o0tainin# t"e same relief, to increase "is or "er c"ances of o0tainin# a favora0le .ud#ment. 5"at is pivotal to consider in determinin# +"et"er forum s"oppin# e8ists or not is t"e ve8ation caused to courts and t"e parties-liti#ants 0y a person +"o as's appellate courts and,or administrative entities to rule on t"e same related causes and,or to #rant t"e same or su0stantially t"e same relief, in t"e process creatin# t"e possi0ility of conflictin# decisions 0y t"e different courts or 'ora upon t"e same issues.19 Finally, +e admonis" ;$! &ranc"es 9 and = for t"e manner in +"ic" t"e case 0efore eac" sala +as "andled and conducted. 5e note t"e lac' of an order of consolidation in t"e records of t"e cases. 4s to Jud#e FranciscoFs t+o separate decisions, +e do not perceive any advanta#e or 0enefit derived from promul#atin# t+o separate decisions on t"e same day in t"e t+o cases t"at "ave already 0een consolidated into one. 4lt"ou#" +e reco#niLe no ill intent or attri0ute no deli0erate irre#ularity to t"e same, suc" demeanor can only 0reed suspicion and promote distrust for our .udicial institutions. 4 .ud#e s"ould avoid every situation +"ere t"e propriety of "is conduct +ould 0e placed in :uestion. Ais official acts must at all times 0e a0ove reproac", <3 and t"ey must 0e consistent +it" t"e proceedin#s ta'en in "is court. 54ERE,ORE, .ud#ment is "ere0y rendered MODI,1ING t"e assailed !4 decision 0y SETTING ASIDE andDELETING t"e a+ard of t"e respondentsF counterclaim in t"e amount of -141,=17.17 in !ivil !ase )o. >=11@REITERATING t"e ->3,333.33 a+ard of attorneysF fees and liti#ation e8penses in favor of t"e respondents in !ivil !ase )o. >=11@ and DELETING t"e a+ard of attorneysF fees

to t"e petitioners in !ivil !ase )o. >=1<. In all ot"er respects, t"e assailed decision is A,,IRMED. !osts a#ainst t"e petitioners. SO ORDERED. /uno, J., C)airperson, 0andoval Gu(ierrez, Corona, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
,oo$%o$ 1 -enned 0y 4ssociate Justice 4rtemio J. $u:uero (ret.) +it" 4ssociate Justices 7u0ulo %. DerLola (ret.) and ;enato !. Cacudao, concurrin#@ ;ollo, pp. 49->7. 1 Id. at p. 7=. < ;$! ;ollo, !ivil !ase )o. >=1<, p. >79. 4 Id. at p. >79@ !4 ;ollo, pp. 73-71 and 14>-149. > Id. at p. <<1. 9 7ntitled Leyte Lum0er Bard E Aard+are !o., Inc. v. &.%. (a#no !onstruction E Cevelopment 7nterprises, Inc. and t"e 7state of &asilio %. (a#no. 7 7ntitled /pouses Bu v. &.%. (a#no !onstruction E Cevelopment 7nterprises, Inc. and t"e 7state of &asilio %. (a#no = ;$! ;ollo, !ivil !ase )o. >=11, p. 49. 9 Id. at p. >9. 13 Id. at pp. 9<-7=. 11 Id. at pp. 93-91, 99-11> and 199-133. 11 Id. at pp. 414-4<3. 1< ;$! ;ollo, !ivil !ase )o. >=1<, pp. >73->=1. 14 !4-%.;. !D )o. 4<714 entitled ?/pouses ;o:ue and 4suncion Bu v. &.%. (a#no !onstruction E Cevelopment 7nt., Inc., and !4-%.;. !D )o. 4<71> entitled ?Leyte Lum0er Bard and Aard+are !o., Inc. v. &. %. (a#no !onstruction E Cevelopment 7nt., Inc. and t"e 7state of &asilio %. (a#no.? 1> /upra note 1. 19 !itin# -eople v. Fuentes, %.;. )o. 134397, January 17, 1994, 119 /!;4 1=9. 17 ;ollo, p. ><. 1= ;$! ;ollo, !ivil !ase )o. >=11, p. 419, and !ivil !ase )o. >=1<, p. >97. 19 ;$! ;ollo, !ivil !ase )o. >=1<, p. >=9. 13 Id. at pp. >==->=9. 11 ;$! ;ollo, !ivil !ase )o. >=11, pp. 419, 411, 411 and 4<1. 11 40alos v. !4, %.;. )o. 944<9, 4pril <3, 1991, 199 /!;4 >99@ (ane.a v. )L;!, %.;. )o. 11431<, June >, 199=, 193 /!;4 93<. 1< !ivil !ase )o. >=1< +as instituted on January <3, 1979, and !ivil !ase )o. >=11 on June 11, 1979. 14 !aQos v. -eralta, %.;. )o. L-<=<>1, 4u#ust 19, 19=1, 11> /!;4 =4<. 1> Rulueta v. 4sia &re+ery, Inc., %.;. )o. 1<=1<7, (arc" =, 1331, <>4 /!;4 133. 19 -eople v. 4ntonio, %.;. )o. 111>>9, June 1<, 1997, 17< /!;4 <1=@ 4ctive 5ood -roducts !o. v. !4, %.;. )o. =993<, Fe0ruary >, 1993, 1=1 /!;4 774. 17 /uperlines $ransportation !o. v. Dictor, %.;. )o. L-941>3, /eptem0er <3, 19=<, 114 /!;4 9<9. 1= *niversity of /an 4#ustin 7mployeesF *nion-Ff+ v. !4, %.;. )o. 1999<1, (arc" 1=, 1339, 4=> /!;4 >19. 19 $a#aro v. %arcia, %.;. )o. 1>=>9=, )ovem0er 17, 1334, 441 /!;4 >91. <3 Fuente0ella v. %ellada, 4.(. )o. --34-1799, Fe0ruary >, 1334, 411 /!;4 11.