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Victoria Regner vs Cynthia Logarta

537 SCRA 277 Conflict of Laws Private International Law Service of Summons Personal Action Real Action Extraterritorial Service
Cynthia Logarta and Teresa Tormis were the daughters of Luis Regner in his first marriage with Anicita Regner. Victoria Regner is the second wife of Luis. In 1999, Victoria alleged that Cynthia and Teresa with the help of another sibling defrauded Luis, who was then very ill and was unable to write, into placing his thumbmark into a Deed of Donation. In said Deed, Luis purportedly donated a Proprietary Ownership Certificate pertaining to membership shares in the Cebu Country Club. Victoria alleged that said Deed is void because the placing of thumbmark by Luis was done without the latters free will and voluntariness considering his physical state; that it was done without Luiss lawyer; that the ratification made by Luis before he died is likewise void because of similar circumstances. In the same year, Victoria filed a complaint to annul said deed with the RTC of Cebu. The sheriff could not deliver the summonses against Cynthia and Teresa because apparently, although they are Filipinos, they are not residing here; they are residing in California. It was only in the year 2000 that one of the summonses was served to one of the sisters, Teresa, when she came back to the Philippines. Teresa immediately filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that Victoria failed to prosecute her case for an unreasonable length of time. Naturally, Victoria opposed the MTD. Teresa, in her rejoinder, alleged that the case should be dismissed because Cynthia, who is an indispensable party, was not issued any summons, hence, since an indispensable party is not served with summons, without her who has such an interest in the controversy or subject matter there can be no proper determination of the case. The trial court ruled in favor of Teresa; this was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. ISSUE: Whether or not the dismissal of Victorias complaint is correct. HELD: Yes. The Supreme Court agreed with the arguments presented by Teresa. The Supreme Court also emphasized: There are generally two types of actions: actions in rem and actions in personam. An action in personam is an action against a person on the basis of his personal liability, while an action in rem is an action against the thing itself, instead of against the person. The certificate, subject of the donation, is a personal property. The action filed by Victoria is therefore a personal action. So in order for the court to acquire jurisdiction over the respondents, summons must be served upon them. Further, the certificate is indivisible, Cynthias and Teresas interests thereto can only be determined if both are summoned in court. In personal actions, if the respondents are residents of the Philippines, they may be served summons in the following order: 1. Personal Service; 2. If (1) is not possible, Substituted Service; 3. If respondent cant be found because he is abroad but still a resident of the Phili ppines, by publication with leave of court. In personal actions still, if the respondents are non-residents, they may be served summons in the following manner: 1. Personal service through the Philippine embassy;

2. By publication in a newspaper of general circulation in such places and for such time as the court may order, in which case a copy of the summons and order of the court should be sent by registered mail to the last known address of the defendant; or 3. in any other manner which the court may deem sufficient. The above must be with leave of court. In the case at bar, Cynthia was never served any summons in any of the manners authorized by the Rules of Court. The summons served to Teresa cannot bind Cynthia. It is incumbent upon Victoria to compel the court to authorize the extraterritorial service of summons against Cynthia. Her failure to do so for a long period of time constitutes a failure to prosecute on her part.

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What if the petition is an action in rem? What are the applicable rules?
If the action is in rem or quasi in rem, jurisdiction over the person of the defendant is not essential for giving the court jurisdiction so long as the court acquires jurisdiction over the res. If the defendant is a nonresident and he is not found in the country, summons may be served extraterritorially in the following instances: 1. when the action affects the personal status of the plaintiff; 2. when the action relates to, or the subject of which is property within the Philippines, on which the defendant claims a lien or an interest, actual or contingent; 3. when the relief demanded in such action consists, wholly or in part, in excluding the defendant from any interest in property located in the Philippines; and 4. when the defendant non-residents property has been attached within the Philippines. In the above instances, summons may be effected by: 1. personal service out of the country, with leave of court; 2. publication, also with leave of court; or 3. any other manner the court may deem sufficien