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G.R. No.

186228

March 15, 2010

PEOPLE
OF
THE
PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs.
ANTONIO LAUGA Y PINA ALIAS TERIO, Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
Before Us for final review is the trial courts conviction of the appellant for the
rape of his thirteen-year old daughter.
Consistent with the ruling of this Court in People v. Cabalquinto, 1 the real
name and the personal circumstances of the victim, and any other
information tending to establish or compromise her identity, including those
of her immediate family or household members, are not disclosed in this
decision.
The Facts
In an Information dated 21 September 2000,2 the appellant was accused of
the crime of QUALIFIED RAPE allegedly committed as follows:

In the afternoon of 15 March 2000, AAA was left alone at home. 9 AAAs
father, the appellant, was having a drinking spree at the neighbors
place.10 Her mother decided to leave because when appellant gets drunk, he
has the habit of mauling AAAs mother. 11 Her only brother BBB also went out
in the company of some neighbors.12
At around 10:00 oclock in the evening, appellant woke AAA up; 13 removed his
pants, slid inside the blanket covering AAA and removed her pants and
underwear;14 warned her not to shout for help while threatening her with his
fist;15 and told her that he had a knife placed above her head. 16 He proceeded
to mash her breast, kiss her repeatedly, and "inserted his penis inside her
vagina."17
Soon after, BBB arrived and found AAA crying. 18 Appellant claimed he
scolded her for staying out late. 19 BBB decided to take AAA with him. 20 While
on their way to their maternal grandmothers house, AAA recounted her
harrowing experience with their father. 21 Upon reaching their grandmothers
house, they told their grandmother and uncle of the incident, 22 after which,
they sought the assistance of Moises Boy Banting.23
Moises Boy Banting found appellant in his house wearing only his
underwear.24 He invited appellant to the police station, 25 to which appellant
obliged. At the police outpost, he admitted to him that he raped AAA because
he was unable to control himself.26

That on or about the 15th day of March 2000, in the evening, at Barangay
xxx, municipality of xxx, province of Bukidnon, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being the
father of AAA with lewd design, with the use of force and intimidation, did
then and there, willfully, unlawfully and criminally have carnal knowledge
with his own daughter AAA, a 13 year[s]old minor against her will. 3

The following day, AAA submitted herself to physical examination. 27 Dra.


Josefa Arlita L. Alsula, Municipal Health Officer of x x x, Bukidnon, issued
the Medical Certificate, which reads:

On 12 October 2000, appellant entered a plea of not guilty. 4 During the pretrial conference, the prosecution and the defense stipulated and admitted: (a)
the correctness of the findings indicated in the medical certificate of the
physician who examined AAA; (b) that AAA was only thirteen (13) years old
when the alleged offense was committed; and (c) that AAA is the daughter of
the appellant.5 On trial, three (3) witnesses testified for the prosecution,
namely: victim AAA;6 her brother BBB;7 and one Moises Boy Banting,8 a
"bantay bayan" in the barangay. Their testimonies revealed the following:

On the other hand, only appellant testified for the defense. He believed that
the charge against him was ill-motivated because he sometimes physically
abuses his wife in front of their children after engaging in a heated
argument,29 and beats the children as a disciplinary measure. 30 He went
further to narrate how his day was on the date of the alleged rape.

hyperemic vulvae with 4 oclock & 6 oclock freshly lacerated hymen; (+)
minimal to moderate bloody discharges 2 to an alleged raping incident 28

He alleged that on 15 March 2000, there was no food prepared for him at
lunchtime.31 Shortly after, AAA arrived.32 She answered back when
confronted.33 This infuriated him that he kicked her hard on her buttocks. 34

Appellant went back to work and went home again around 3 oclock in the
afternoon.35 Finding nobody at home,36he prepared his dinner and went to
sleep.37

Appellant argues that even if he, indeed, confessed to Moises Boy Banting, a
"bantay bayan," the confession was inadmissible in evidence because he was
not assisted by a lawyer and there was no valid waiver of such requirement. 54

Later in the evening, he was awakened by the members of the "Bantay


Bayan" headed by Moises Boy Banting. 38They asked him to go with them to
discuss some matters.39 He later learned that he was under detention
because AAA charged him of rape.40

The case of People v. Malngan55 is the authority on the scope of the Miranda
doctrine provided for under Article III, Section 12(1) 56 and (3)57 of the
Constitution. In Malngan, appellant questioned the admissibility of her
extrajudicial confessions given to the barangay chairman and a neighbor of
the private complainant. This Court distinguished. Thus:

On 8 July 2006, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 9, Malaybalay City,


Bukidnon, rendered its decision41 in Criminal Case No. 10372-0, finding
appellant guilty of rape qualified by relationship and minority, and sentenced
him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. 42 It also ordered him to
indemnify AAA P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity with exemplary damages of P25,000.00.43
On 30 September 2008, the decision of the trial court was AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATIONS44 by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 00456MIN.45 The appellate court found that appellant is not eligible for parole and
it increased both the civil indemnity and moral damages from P50,000.00
to P75,000.00.46
On 24 November 2008, the Court of Appeals gave due course to the
appellants notice of appeal.47 This Court required the parties to
simultaneously file their respective supplemental briefs, 48 but both
manifested that they will no longer file supplemental pleadings. 49
The lone assignment of error in the appellants brief is that, the trial court
gravely erred in finding him guilty as charged despite the failure of the
prosecution to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt,50 because: (1)
there were inconsistencies in the testimonies of AAA and her brother
BBB;51 (2) his extrajudicial confession before Moises Boy Banting was without
the assistance of a counsel, in violation of his constitutional right; 52 and (3)
AAAs accusation was ill-motivated.53
Our Ruling
Appellant contests the admissibility in evidence of his alleged confession with
a "bantay bayan" and the credibility of the witnesses for the prosecution.
Admissibility in Evidence of an Extrajudicial Confession before a
"Bantay Bayan"

Arguably, the barangay tanods, including the Barangay Chairman, in this


particular instance, may be deemed as law enforcement officer for purposes
of applying Article III, Section 12(1) and (3), of the Constitution. When
accused-appellant was brought to the barangay hall in the morning of 2
January 2001, she was already a suspect, actually the only one, in the fire
that destroyed several houses x x x. She was, therefore, already under
custodial investigation and the rights guaranteed by x x x [the] Constitution
should have already been observed or applied to her. Accused-appellants
confession to Barangay Chairman x x x was made in response to the
interrogation made by the latter admittedly conducted without first
informing accused-appellant of her rights under the Constitution or done in
the presence of counsel. For this reason, the confession of accused-appellant,
given to Barangay Chairman x x x, as well as the lighter found x x x in her
bag are inadmissible in evidence against her x x x.1avvphi1
[But such does] not automatically lead to her acquittal. x x x [T]he
constitutional safeguards during custodial investigations do not apply to
those not elicited through questioning by the police or their agents but given
in an ordinary manner whereby the accused verbally admits x x x as x x x in
the case at bar when accused-appellant admitted to Mercedita Mendoza, one
of the neighbors x x x [of the private complainant]. 58 (Emphasis supplied)
Following the rationale behind the ruling in Malngan, this Court needs to
ascertain whether or not a "bantay bayan" may be deemed a law enforcement
officer within the contemplation of Article III, Section 12 of the Constitution.
In People of the Philippines v. Buendia,59 this Court had the occasion to
mention the nature of a "bantay bayan," that is, "a group of male residents
living in [the] area organized for the purpose of keeping peace in their
community[,which is] an accredited auxiliary of the x x x PNP."60
Also, it may be worthy to consider that pursuant to Section 1(g) of Executive
Order No. 309 issued on 11 November 1987, as amended, a Peace and Order

Committee in each barangay shall be organized "to serve as implementing


arm of the City/Municipal Peace and Order Council at the Barangay
level."61 The composition of the Committee includes, among others: (1)
the Punong Barangay as Chairman; (2) the Chairman of the Sangguniang
Kabataan; (3) a Member of the Lupon Tagapamayapa; (4) a Barangay Tanod;
and (5) at least three (3) Members of existing Barangay-Based Anti-Crime or
neighborhood Watch Groups or a Non Government Organization
Representative well-known in his community.62

The principle, however, is not applicable in the case at bar. In Bartocillo, the
two testimonies could not simply stand together because:

This Court is, therefore, convinced that barangay-based volunteer


organizations in the nature of watch groups, as in the case of the "bantay
bayan," are recognized by the local government unit to perform functions
relating to the preservation of peace and order at the barangay level. Thus,
without ruling on the legality of the actions taken by Moises Boy Banting,
and the specific scope of duties and responsibilities delegated to a "bantay
bayan," particularly on the authority to conduct a custodial investigation,
any inquiry he makes has the color of a state-related function and objective
insofar as the entitlement of a suspect to his constitutional rights provided
for under Article III, Section 12 of the Constitution, otherwise known as the
Miranda Rights, is concerned.

Here, the testimony of AAA does not run contrary to that of BBB. Both
testified that they sought the help of a "bantay bayan." Their respective
testimonies differ only as to when the help was sought for, which this Court
could well attribute to the nature of the testimony of BBB, a shortcut version
of AAAs testimony that dispensed with a detailed account of the incident.

We, therefore, find the extrajudicial confession of appellant, which was taken
without a counsel, inadmissible in evidence.

Appellants contention that AAA charged him of rape only because she bore
grudges against him is likewise unmeritorious. This Court is not dissuaded
from giving full credence to the testimony of a minor complainant by motives
of feuds, resentment or revenge. 68 As correctly pointed out by the Court of
Appeals:

Be that as it may, We agree with the Court of Appeals that the conviction of
the appellant was not deduced solely from the assailed extrajudicial
confession but "from the confluence of evidence showing his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt."63
Credibility of the Witnesses for the Prosecution
Appellant assails the inconsistencies in the testimonies of AAA and her
brother BBB. AAA testified that BBB accompanied her to the house of their
grandmother. Thereafter, they, together with her relatives, proceeded to look
for a "bantay bayan." On the other hand, BBB testified that he brought her
sister to the house of their "bantay bayan" after he learned of the incident.
Citing Bartocillo v. Court of Appeals,64 appellant argues that "where the
testimonies of two key witnesses cannot stand together, the inevitable
conclusion is that one or both must be telling a lie, and their story a mere
concoction."65

On one hand, if we are to believe Susan, Orlando could not have possibly
seen the hacking incident since he had accompanied Vicente home. On the
other hand, if we are to accept the testimony of Orlando, then Susan could
not have possibly witnessed the hacking incident since she was with Vicente
at that time.

At any rate, the Court of Appeals is correct in holding that the assailed
inconsistency is too trivial to affect the veracity of the testimonies. 66 In fact,
inconsistencies which refer to minor, trivial or inconsequential circumstances
even strengthen the credibility of the witnesses, as they erase doubts that
such testimonies have been coached or rehearsed.67

Indeed, mere disciplinary chastisement is not strong enough to make


daughters in a Filipino family invent a charge that would not only bring
shame and humiliation upon them and their families but also bring their
fathers into the gallows of death.69 The Supreme Court has repeatedly held
that it is unbelievable for a daughter to charge her own father with rape,
exposing herself to the ordeal and embarrassment of a public trial and
subjecting her private parts to examination if such heinous crime was not in
fact committed.70 No person, much less a woman, could attain such height of
cruelty to one who has sired her, and from whom she owes her very
existence, and for which she naturally feels loving and lasting
gratefulness.71 Even when consumed with revenge, it takes a certain amount
of psychological depravity for a young woman to concoct a story which would
put her own father to jail for the most of his remaining life and drag the rest
of the family including herself to a lifetime of shame. 72 It is highly improbable
for [AAA] against whom no proof of sexual perversity or loose morality has
been shown to fake charges much more against her own father. In fact her

testimony is entitled to greater weight since her accusing words were directed
against a close relative.73
Elements of Rape
Having established the credibility of the witnesses for the prosecution, We
now examine the applicability of the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 74 to the case at
bar.
The law provides, in part, that rape is committed, among others, "[b]y a man
who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman" "through force, threat or
intimidation."75 The death penalty shall be imposed if it is committed with
aggravating/qualifying circumstances, which include, "[w]hen the victim is
under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent." 76
The consistent and forthright testimony of AAA detailing how she was raped,
culminating with the penetration of appellants penis into her vagina, suffices
to prove that appellant had carnal knowledge of her. When a woman states
that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that
rape was committed.77Further, when such testimony corresponds with
medical findings, there is sufficient basis to conclude that the essential
requisites of carnal knowledge have been established. 78
The Court of Appeals pointed out that the element of force or intimidation is
not essential when the accused is the father of the victim, inasmuch as his
superior moral ascendancy or influence substitutes for violence and
intimidation.79 At any rate, AAA was actually threatened by appellant with his
fist and a knife allegedly placed above AAAs head. 80
It may be added that the self-serving defense of appellant cannot prevail over
the positive and straightforward testimony of AAA. Settled is the rule that,
"alibi is an inherently weak defense that is viewed with suspicion because it
is easy to fabricate."81 "Alibi and denial must be supported by strong
corroborative evidence in order to merit credibility." 82 Moreover, for the
defense of alibi to prosper, the accused must establish two elements (1) he
was not at the locus delicti at the time the offense was committed; and (2) it
was physically impossible for him to be at the scene at the time of its
commission.83 Appellant failed in this wise.
Aggravating/Qualifying Circumstances
The presence of the qualifying circumstances of minority and relationship
with the offender in the instant case has likewise been adequately

established. Both qualifying circumstances were specifically alleged in the


Information, stipulated on and admitted during the pre-trial conference, and
testified to by both parties in their respective testimonies. Also, such
stipulation and admission, as correctly pointed out by the Court of Appeals,
are binding upon this Court because they are judicial admissions within the
contemplation of Section 4, Rule 129 of the Revised Rules of Court. It
provides:
Sec. 4. Judicial admissions. - An admission, verbal or written, made by a
party in the course of the proceedings in the same case, does not require
proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made
through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made.
Penalty
Finally, in increasing the amount of civil indemnity and damages each
from P50,000.00 to P75,000.00, the Court of Appeals correctly considered
controlling jurisprudence to the effect that where, as here, the rape is
committed with any of the qualifying/aggravating circumstances warranting
the imposition of the death penalty, the victim is entitled to P75,000.00 as
civil indemnity ex delicto84 and P75,000.00 as moral damages.85 However, the
award of exemplary damages should have been increased from P25,000.00
to P30,000.00.86 Also, the penalty of reclusion perpetua in lieu of death was
correctly imposed considering that the imposition of the death penalty upon
appellant would have been appropriate were it not for the enactment of
Republic Act No. 9346, or An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty
in the Philippines.87 We further affirm the ruling of the Court of Appeals on
appellants non-eligibility for parole. Sec. 3 of Republic Act No. 9346 clearly
provides that "persons convicted of offenses punished with reclusion
perpetua, or whose sentences will be reduced to reclusion perpetua by reason
of the law, shall not be eligible for parole."
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 30 September
2008 in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 00456-MIN is hereby AFFIRMED. Appellant
Antonio Lauga is GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of qualified rape, and is
hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua without
eligibility for parole and to pay AAAP75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00
as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 177809

October 16, 2009

SPOUSES
OMAR
and
MOSHIERA
vs.
ROSALIE PALAA CHUA, Respondent.

LATIP, Petitioners,

DECISION

1. That the LESSOR is the owner of the commercial building erected at the
lot of the Toribio G. Reyes Realty, Inc. situated at 158 Quirino Ave. corner
Redemptorist Road, Barangay Baclaran in Paraaque Ctiy;
2. That LESSOR hereby leases two (2) cubicles located at the 1st & 2nd Floor,
of said building with an area of 56 square meters under the following terms
and conditions, to wit:

NACHURA, J.:

a. That the monthly rental of the two (2) cubicles in PESOS,


SIXTY THOUSAND (P60,000.00), Philippine Currency.
However, due to unstable power of the peso LESSEES agrees
to a yearly increase of ten (10%) percent of the monthly
rental;

Challenged in this petition for review on certiorari is the Court of Appeals


(CA) Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 89300: 1 (1) reversing the decision of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 274, Paraaque City in Civil Case No. 040052;2 and (2) reinstating and affirming in toto the decision of the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 78, of the same city in Civil Case
No. 2001-315.3

b. That any rental in-arrears shall be paid before the


expiration of the contract to the LESSOR;

First, we sift through the varying facts found by the different lower courts.

c. That LESSEES agree to pay their own water and electric


consumptions in the said premises;

The facts parleyed by the MeTC show that respondent Rosalie Chua (Rosalie)
is the owner of Roferxane Building, a commercial building, located at No. 158
Quirino Avenue corner Redemptorist Road, Barangay Baclaran, Paraaque
City.

d. That the LESSEES shall not sub-let or make any


alteration in the cubicles without a written permission from
the LESSOR. Provided, however, that at the termination of
the Contract, the lessee shall return the two cubicles in its
original conditions at their expenses;

On July 6, 2001, Rosalie filed a complaint for unlawful detainer plus


damages against petitioners, Spouses Omar and Moshiera Latip (Spouses
Latip). Rosalie attached to the complaint a contract of lease over two cubicles
in Roferxane Bldg., signed by Rosalie, as lessor, and by Spouses Latip, as
lessees thereof.1 a vv p h ! 1

e. That the LESSEES agree to keep the cubicles in a safe and


sanitary conditions, and shall not keep any kinds of
flammable or combustible materials.

The contract of lease reads:

f. That in case the LESSEES fail to pay the monthly rental


every time it falls due or violate any of the above conditions
shall be enough ground to terminate this Contract of Lease.
Provided, further, that, if the LESSEES pre-terminate this
Contract they shall pay the rentals for the unused month or
period by way of liquidated damages in favor of the LESSOR.

CONTRACT OF LEASE
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:
This Contract of Lease is entered into by and between:
ROSALIE PALAA CHUA, Filipino, of legal age, married with office at 2/F
JOFERXAN Building, F.B. Harrison St., Brgy. Baclaran, Paraaque City, and
hereinafter referred to as the LESSOR,
- and OMAR LATIEF marriage to MOSHIERA LATIEF, also both Filipino, of legal
age with address at 24 Anahan St. RGV Homes Paraaque City, and
hereinafter referred to as the LESSEES.
WITNESSETH

3. That this Contract of Lease is for six (6) yrs. only starting from December
_____, 1999 or up to December ______, 2005.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have hereunto affixed their hands this
___th day of December, 1999 at City of Manila, Philippines.
(sgd.)
ROSALIE
LESSOR
(sgd.)
OMAR
LESSEE

(sgd.)
PALAA-CHUA MOSHIERA
LESSEE

LATIEF

LATIEF

SIGNED IN THE PRESENCE OF:


(sgd.)
1. Daisy C. Ramos
Republic
City of Manila)s.s.

P2,000,000.00
CHECK
FAR EAST BANK

(sgd.)
2. Ferdinand C. Chua
of

the

(sgd.)
3767924 ____________________
Rosalie

Philippines)

(sgd.)
____________________
Ferdinand Chua

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
BEFORE ME, a Notary Public for and in the City of Manila personally
appeared the following persons:
Rosalie P. Chua with CTC No. 05769706 at Paraaque City on 2/1/99;
Moshiera Latief with CTC No. 12885654 at Paraaque City on 11/11/99;
Omar Latief with CTC No. 12885653 Paraaque City on Nov. 11, 1999.
known to me and to me known to be the same persons who executed this
instrument consisting of two (2) pages duly signed by them and the two (2)
instrumental witnesses and acknowledged to me that the same is their free
and voluntarily acts and deeds.
IN FAITH AND TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto affixed my hand and
Notarial Seal this ____th day of December, 1999 at the City of Manila,
Philippines.
Doc.
Page
Book
Series of 1999

No.
No.
No.

_____ ATTY.
CALIXTRO
B.
RAMOS
_____ NOTARY
PUBLIC
LXV Until
December
31,
2000
PTR
#
374145-1/11/99/-Mla.
IBP # 00262-Life Member4

A year after the commencement of the lease and with Spouses Latip already
occupying the leased cubicles, Rosalie, through counsel, sent the spouses a
letter demanding payment of back rentals and should they fail to do so, to
vacate the leased cubicles. When Spouses Latip did not heed Rosalies
demand, she instituted the aforesaid complaint.
In their Answer, Spouses Latip refuted Rosalies claims. They averred that the
lease of the two (2) cubicles had already been paid in full as evidenced by
receipts showing payment to Rosalie of the total amount of P2,570,000.00.
The three (3) receipts, in Rosalies handwriting, read:
1. I received the amount of P2,000,000.00 (two million pesos)
from [O]mar Latip & Moshi[e]ra Latip for the payment of 2
cubicles located at 158 Quirino Ave. corner Redemptorist Rd.
[,] Baclaran P[ara]aque City. ROFERLAND 5 Bldg. with the
terms 6 yrs. Contract.

Chua

2.
P500,000.00
From Moshiera Latip

12/10/99

3.
P70,000.00
Moshiera Latip
12-11-99

Received

cash

(sgd.)
Rosalie
____________________
Received by
Received

Chua

cash
from

(sgd.)
____________________
Received by:6

Spouses Latip asseverated that sometime in October 1999, Rosalie offered for
sale lease rights over two (2) cubicles in Roferxane Bldg. Having in mind the
brisk sale of goods during the Christmas season, they readily accepted
Rosalies offer to purchase lease rights in Roferxane Bldg., which was still
under construction at the time. According to Spouses Latip, the immediate
payment of P2,570,000.00 would be used to finish construction of the
building giving them first priority in the occupation of the finished cubicles.
Thereafter, in December 1999, as soon as two (2) cubicles were finished,
Spouses Latip occupied them without waiting for the completion of five (5)
other stalls. Spouses Latip averred that the contract of lease they signed had
been novated by their purchase of lease rights of the subject cubicles. Thus,
they were surprised to receive a demand letter from Rosalies counsel and the
subsequent filing of a complaint against them.
The MeTC ruled in favor of Rosalie, viz.:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the [Spouses Latip] and all persons
claiming rights under them are hereby ordered to VACATE the property
subject of this case located at the 1st and 2nd floors of a Roferxane Building
situated at No. 158 Quirino Avenue corner Redemptorist Road, Barangay
Baclaran, Paraaque City. The [Spouses Latip] are also ordered to PAY

[Rosalie] the amount of SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS


(P720,000.00) as rent arrearages for the period of December 1999 to
December 2000 and thereafter to PAY [Rosalie] the amount of SEVENTY TWO
THOUSAND PESOS (P72,000.00) per month from January 2001 to December
2002, plus ten percent (10%) increase for each and every succeeding years
thereafter as stipulated in paragraph 2(a) of the Contract of Lease x x x, until
the [Spouses Latip] have completely vacated the leased premises subject of
this lease. Finally[,] the [Spouses Latip] are hereby ordered to PAY [Rosalie]
the amount of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS (P20,000.00) as attorneys fees
and TWO THOUSAND PESOS (P2,000.00) per [Rosalies] appearance in Court
as appearance fee and to PAY the cost of this suit.
[Spouses Latips] counterclaim is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.7
In stark contrast, the RTC reversed the MeTC and ruled in favor of Spouses
Latip. The RTC did not give credence to the contract of lease, ruling that it
was not notarized and, in all other substantial aspects, incomplete. Further
on this point, the RTC noted that the contract of lease lacked: (1) the
signature of Ferdinand Chua, Rosalies husband; (2) the signatures of
Spouses Latip on the first page thereof; (3) the specific dates for the term of
the contract which only stated that the lease is for "six (6) y[ea]rs only
starting from December 1999 or up to December 2005"; (4) the exact date of
execution of the document, albeit the month of December and year 1999 are
indicated therein; and (5) the provision for payment of deposit or advance
rental which is supposedly uncommon in big commercial lease contracts.
The RTC believed the claim of Spouses Latip that the contract of lease was
modified and supplemented; and the entire lease rentals for the two (2)
cubicles for six (6) years had already been paid by Spouses Latip in the
amount of P2,570,000.00. As to Rosalies claim that her receipt
of P2,570,000.00 was simply goodwill payment by prospective lessees to their
lessor, and not payment for the purchase of lease rights, the RTC shot this
down and pointed out that, apart from her bare allegations, Rosalie did not
adduce evidence to substantiate this claim. On the whole, the RTC declared
an existent lease between the parties for a period of six (6) years, and already
fully paid for by Spouses Latip. Thus, Spouses Latip could not be ejected
from the leased premises until expiration of the lease period.
The RTC disposed of the appeal, viz.:
WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, the appealed decision of the
[MeTC] dated January 13, 2004 is reversed as judgment is hereby rendered
for the [Spouses Latip] and against [Rosalie], ordering the latter to pay the
former
(1) the sum of PhP1,000,000.00 as moral damages;

(2) the sum of PhP500,000.00 as exemplary damages;


(3) the sum of PhP250,000.00 plus PhP3,000.00
appearance as and for attorneys fees; and

per

court

(4) costs of suit.


SO ORDERED.8
In yet another turn of events, the CA, as previously mentioned, reversed the
RTC and reinstated the decision of the MeTC. The CA ruled that the contract
of lease, albeit lacking the signature of Ferdinand and not notarized,
remained a complete and valid contract. As the MeTC had, the CA likewise
found that the alleged defects in the contract of lease did not render the
contract ineffective. On the issue of whether the amount of P2,570,000.00
merely constituted payment of goodwill money, the CA took judicial notice of
this common practice in the area of Baclaran, especially around the
Redemptorist Church. According to the appellate court, this judicial notice
was bolstered by the Joint Sworn Declaration of the stallholders at Roferxane
Bldg. that they all had paid goodwill money to Rosalie prior to occupying the
stalls thereat. Thus, ruling on Rosalies appeal, the CA disposed of the case:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition for Review is hereby
GRANTED. The assailed decision of RTC Paraaque City Branch 274 dated
September 24, 2004 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the January
13, 2004 decision of the MeTC is REINSTATED and AFFIRMED en toto.
SO ORDERED.9
Not surprisingly, Spouses Latip filed the present appeal.
The singular issue for our resolution is whether Spouses Latip should be
ejected from the leased cubicles.
As previously adverted to, the CA, in ruling for Rosalie and upholding the
ejectment of Spouses Latip, took judicial notice of the alleged practice of
prospective lessees in the Baclaran area to pay goodwill money to the lessor.
We disagree.
Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 129 of the Rules of Court declare when the taking of
judicial notice is mandatory or discretionary on the courts, thus:
SECTION 1. Judicial notice, when mandatory. A court shall take judicial
notice, without the introduction of evidence, of the existence and territorial
extent of states, their political history, forms of government and symbols of
nationality, the law of nations, the admiralty and maritime courts of the
world and their seals, the political constitution and history of the Philippines,
the official acts of the legislative, executive and judicial departments of the

Philippines, the laws of nature, the measure of time, and the geographical
divisions.
SEC. 2. Judicial notice, when discretionary. A court may take judicial
notice of matters which are of public knowledge, or are capable of
unquestionable demonstration or ought to be known to judges because of
their judicial functions.
On this point, State Prosecutors v. Muro10 is instructive:
I. The doctrine of judicial notice rests on the wisdom and discretion of the
courts. The power to take judicial notice is to be exercised by courts with
caution; care must be taken that the requisite notoriety exists; and every
reasonable doubt on the subject should be promptly resolved in the negative.
Generally speaking, matters of judicial notice have three material requisites:
(1) the matter must be one of common and general knowledge; (2) it must be
well and authoritatively settled and not doubtful or uncertain; and (3) it must
be known to be within the limits of the jurisdiction of the court. The
principal guide in determining what facts may be assumed to be judicially
known is that of notoriety. Hence, it can be said that judicial notice is limited
to facts evidenced by public records and facts of general notoriety.
To say that a court will take judicial notice of a fact is merely another way of
saying that the usual form of evidence will be dispensed with if knowledge of
the fact can be otherwise acquired. This is because the court assumes that
the matter is so notorious that it will not be disputed. But judicial notice is
not judicial knowledge. The mere personal knowledge of the judge is not the
judicial knowledge of the court, and he is not authorized to make his
individual knowledge of a fact, not generally or professionally known, the
basis of his action. Judicial cognizance is taken only of those matters which
are "commonly" known.
Things of "common knowledge," of which courts take judicial notice, may be
matters coming to the knowledge of men generally in the course of the
ordinary experiences of life, or they may be matters which are generally
accepted by mankind as true and are capable of ready and unquestioned
demonstration. Thus, facts which are universally known, and which may be
found in encyclopedias, dictionaries or other publications, are judicially
noticed, provided they are of such universal notoriety and so generally
understood that they may be regarded as forming part of the common
knowledge of every person.11
We reiterated the requisite of notoriety for the taking of judicial notice in the
recent case of Expertravel & Tours, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 12 which cited
State Prosecutors:

Generally speaking, matters of judicial notice have three material requisites:


(1) the matter must be one of common and general knowledge; (2) it must be
well and authoritatively settled and not doubtful or uncertain; and (3) it must
be known to be within the limits of the jurisdiction of the court. The
principal guide in determining what facts may be assumed to be judicially
known is that of notoriety. Hence, it can be said that judicial notice is limited
to facts evidenced by public records and facts of general notoriety. Moreover,
a judicially noticed fact must be one not subject to a reasonable dispute in
that it is either: (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the
trial court; or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resorting to
sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questionable.
Things of "common knowledge," of which courts take judicial notice, may be
matters coming to the knowledge of men generally in the course of the
ordinary experiences of life, or they may be matters which are generally
accepted by mankind as true and are capable of ready and unquestioned
demonstration. Thus, facts which are universally known, and which may be
found in encyclopedias, dictionaries or other publications, are judicially
noticed, provided, they are such of universal notoriety and so generally
understood that they may be regarded as forming part of the common
knowledge of every person. As the common knowledge of man ranges far and
wide, a wide variety of particular facts have been judicially noticed as being
matters of common knowledge. But a court cannot take judicial notice of any
fact which, in part, is dependent on the existence or non-existence of a fact of
which the court has no constructive knowledge.1avvphi1
From the foregoing provisions of law and our holdings thereon, it is apparent
that the matter which the appellate court took judicial notice of does not
meet the requisite of notoriety. To begin with, only the CA took judicial notice
of this supposed practice to pay goodwill money to the lessor in the Baclaran
area. Neither the MeTC nor the RTC, with the former even ruling in favor of
Rosalie, found that the practice was of "common knowledge" or notoriously
known.
We note that the RTC specifically ruled that Rosalie, apart from her bare
allegation, adduced no evidence to prove her claim that the amount
of P2,570,000.00 simply constituted the payment of goodwill money.
Subsequently, Rosalie attached an annex to her petition for review before the
CA, containing a joint declaration under oath by other stallholders in
Roferxane Bldg. that they had paid goodwill money to Rosalie as their lessor.
On this score, we emphasize that the reason why our rules on evidence
provide for matters that need not be proved under Rule 129, specifically on
judicial notice, is to dispense with the taking of the usual form of evidence on
a certain matter so notoriously known, it will not be disputed by the parties.

However, in this case, the requisite of notoriety is belied by the necessity of


attaching documentary evidence, i.e., the Joint Affidavit of the stallholders,
to Rosalies appeal before the CA. In short, the alleged practice still had to be
proven by Rosalie; contravening the title itself of Rule 129 of the Rules of
Court What need not be proved.
Apparently, only that particular division of the CA had knowledge of the
practice to pay goodwill money in the Baclaran area. As was held in State
Prosecutors, justices and judges alike ought to be reminded that the power to
take judicial notice must be exercised with caution and every reasonable
doubt on the subject should be ample reason for the claim of judicial notice
to be promptly resolved in the negative.
Ultimately, on the issue of whether Spouses Latip ought to be ejected from
the leased cubicles, what remains in evidence is the documentary evidence
signed by both parties the contract of lease and the receipts evidencing
payment of P2,570,000.00.
We need not be unduly detained by the issue of which documents were
executed first or if there was a novation of the contract of lease. As had been
found by the RTC, the lease contract and the receipts for the amount
ofP2,570,000.00 can be reconciled or harmonized. The RTC declared:
Definitely, the parties entered into a lease agreement over two (2) cubicles of
the 1st and 2nd floors of Roferxane (Roferland) Building, a commercial
building located at 158 Quirino Avenue, corner Redemptorist Road, Baclaran,
Paraaque City and belonging to [Rosalie]. The lease agreement is for a term
of six (6) years commencing in December 1999 up to December 2005. This
agreement was embodied in a Contract of Lease x x x. The terms of this lease
contract, however, are modified or supplemented by another agreement
between the parties executed and or entered into in or about the time of
execution of the lease contract, which exact date of execution of the latter is
unclear.13
We agree with the RTCs holding only up to that point. There exists a lease
agreement between the parties as set forth in the contract of lease which is a
complete document. It need not be signed by Ferdinand Chua as he likewise
did not sign the other two receipts for P500,000.00 and P70,000.00,
respectively, which contained only the signature of Rosalie. Besides, it is
undisputed that Rosalie owns and leases the stalls in Roferxane Bldg.; thus,
doing away with the need for her husbands consent. The findings of the
three lower courts concur on this fact.
The contract of lease has a period of six (6) years commencing in December
1999. This fact is again buttressed by Spouses Latips admission that they
occupied the property forthwith in December 1999, bearing in mind the
brisk sales during the holiday season.

On the conflicting interpretations by the lower courts of the receipts


amounting to P2,570,000.00, we hold that the practice of payment of
goodwill money in the Baclaran area is an inadequate subject of judicial
notice. Neither was Rosalie able to provide sufficient evidence that, apart
from the belatedly submitted Joint Affidavit of the stallholders of Roferxane
Bldg., the said amount was simply for the payment of goodwill money, and
not payment for advance rentals by Spouses Latip.
In interpreting the evidence before us, we are guided by the Civil Code
provisions on interpretation of contracts, to wit:
Art. 1371. In order to judge the intention of the contracting parties, their
contemporaneous and subsequent acts shall be principally considered.
Art. 1372. However general the terms of a contract may be, they shall not be
understood to comprehend things that are distinct and cases that are
different from those which the parties intended to agree.
Art. 1373. If some stipulation of any contract should admit of several
meanings, it shall be understood as bearing that import which is most
adequate to render it effectual.
The RTC was already on the right track when it declared that the receipts
for P2,570,000.00 modified or supplemented the contract of lease. However, it
made a quantum leap when it ruled that the amount was payment for rentals
of the two (2) cubicles for the entire six-year period. We cannot subscribe to
this finding. To obviate confusion and for clarity, the contents of the receipts,
already set forth above, are again reproduced:
1. I received the amount of P2,000,000.00 (two million pesos) from
[O]mar Latip & Moshi[e]ra Latip for the payment of 2 cubicles located
at 158 Quirino Ave. corner Redemptorist Rd.[,] Baclaran P[ara]que
City. ROFERLAND Bldg. with the terms 6 yrs. Contract.
P2,000,000.00
CHECK
FAR EAST BANK

(sgd.)
3767924 ____________________
Rosalie

Chua

(sgd.)
____________________
Ferdinand Chua
2.
P500,000.00
From Moshiera Latip
12/10/99

Received

(sgd.)
Rosalie

cash

Chua

AMALIA G. IKDAL and MINISTRY OF


PUBLIC HEALTH-KUWAIT

____________________
Received by
3.
P70,000.00
Moshiera Latip

Received

cash
from

(sgd.)
____________________
Received by:14

12-11-99

There is nothing on the receipts and on record that the payment and receipt
of P2,570,000.00 referred to full payment of rentals for the whole period of
the lease. All three receipts state Rosalies receipt of cash in varying
amounts. The first receipt for P2,000,000.00 did state payment for two (2)
cubicles, but this cannot mean full payment of rentals for the entire lease
period when there are no words to that effect. Further, two receipts were
subsequently executed pointing to the obvious fact that the P2,000,000.00 is
not for full payment of rentals. Thus, since the contract of lease remained
operative, we find that Rosalies receipt of the monies should be considered
as advanced rentals on the leased cubicles. This conclusion is bolstered by
the fact that Rosalie demanded payment of the lease rentals only in 2000, a
full year after the commencement of the lease.
Finally, we note that the lease ended in 2005. Consequently, Spouses Latip
can be ejected from the leased premises. They are liable to Rosalie for unpaid
rentals on the lease of the two (2) cubicles in accordance with the
stipulations on rentals in the Contract of Lease. However, the amount
of P2,570,000.00, covering advance rentals, must be deducted from this
liability of Spouses Latip to Rosalie.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The
decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 89300 is REVERSED. The
petitioners, spouses Omar and Moshiera Latip, are liable to respondent
Rosalie Chua for unpaid rentals minus the amount of P2,570,000.00 already
received by her as advance rentals. No costs.

THIRD DIVISION

OVERSEAS

Present:

CARPIO MORALES, Chairperson, J.,

- versus -

BRION,
BERSAMIN,
VILLARAMA, JR., and
SERENO, JJ.

MA. JOSEFA ECHIN,


Respondent.
Promulgated:

October 11, 2010


x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

Josefina Echin (respondent) was hired by petitioner ATCI Overseas


Corporation in behalf of its principal-co-petitioner, the Ministry of Public
Health of Kuwait (the Ministry), for the position of medical technologist under
a two-year contract, denominated as a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA),
with a monthly salary of US$1,200.00.

SO ORDERED.

ATCI

Petitioners,

CORPORATION,

G.R. No. 178551

Under the MOA,[1] all newly-hired employees undergo a probationary


period of one (1) year and are covered by Kuwaits Civil Service Board
Employment Contract No. 2.

Respondent was deployed on February 17, 2000 but was terminated


from employment on February 11, 2001, she not having allegedly passed the
probationary period.

As the Ministry denied respondents request for reconsideration, she


returned to the Philippines on March 17, 2001, shouldering her own air fare.

On July 27, 2001, respondent filed with the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC) a complaint [2] for illegal dismissal against petitioner ATCI
as the local recruitment agency, represented by petitioner, Amalia Ikdal
(Ikdal), and the Ministry, as the foreign principal.

By Decision[3] of November 29, 2002, the Labor Arbiter, finding that


petitioners neither showed that there was just cause to warrant respondents
dismissal nor that she failed to qualify as a regular employee, held that
respondent was illegally dismissed and accordingly ordered petitioners to
pay her US$3,600.00, representing her salary for the three
months unexpired portion of her contract.

On appeal of petitioners ATCI and Ikdal, the NLRC affirmed the


Labor Arbiters decision by Resolution[4] of January 26, 2004. Petitioners
motion for reconsideration having been denied by Resolution [5] of April 22,
2004, they appealed to the Court of Appeals, contending that their principal,
the Ministry, being a foreign government agency, is immune from suit and, as
such, the immunity extended to them; and that respondent was validly
dismissed for her failure to meet the performance rating within the one-year
period as required under Kuwaits Civil Service Laws. Petitioners further
contended that Ikdal should not be liable as an officer of petitioner ATCI.

By Decision[6] of March 30, 2007, the appellate court affirmed the


NLRC Resolution.

In brushing aside petitioners contention that they only acted as


agent of the Ministry and that they cannot be held jointly and solidarily liable
with it, the appellate court noted that under the law, a private employment
agency shall assume all responsibilities for the implementation of the
contract of employment of an overseas worker, hence, it can be sued jointly

and severally with the foreign principal for any violation of the recruitment
agreement or contract of employment.

As to Ikdals liability, the appellate court held that under Sec. 10 of


Republic Act No. 8042, the Migrant and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995,
corporate officers, directors and partners of a recruitment agency may
themselves be jointly and solidarily liable with the recruitment agency for
money claims and damages awarded to overseas workers.

Petitioners motion for reconsideration having been denied by the


appellate court by Resolution[7] of June 27, 2007, the present petition for
review on certiorari was filed.

Petitioners maintain that they should not be held liable because


respondents employment contract specifically stipulates that her
employment shall be governed by the Civil Service Law and Regulations of
Kuwait. They thus conclude that it was patent error for the labor tribunals
and the appellate court to apply the Labor Code provisions governing
probationary employment in deciding the present case.

Further, petitioners argue that even the Philippine Overseas


Employment Act (POEA) Rules relative to master employment contracts (Part
III, Sec. 2 of the POEA Rules and Regulations) accord respect to the
customs, practices, company policies and labor laws and legislation of the
host country.

Finally, petitioners posit that assuming arguendo that Philippine


labor laws are applicable, given that the foreign principal is a government
agency which is immune from suit, as in fact it did not sign any document
agreeing to be held jointly and solidarily liable, petitioner ATCI cannot
likewise be held liable, more so since the Ministrys liability had not been
judicially determined as jurisdiction was not acquired over it.

The petition fails.

Petitioner ATCI, as a private recruitment agency, cannot evade


responsibility for the money claims of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)

which it deploys abroad by the mere expediency of claiming that its foreign
principal is a government agency clothed with immunity from suit, or that
such foreign principals liability must first be established before it, as agent,
can be held jointly and solidarily liable.

In providing for the joint and solidary liability of private recruitment


agencies with their foreign principals, Republic Act No. 8042 precisely affords
the OFWs with a recourse and assures them of immediate and sufficient
payment of what is due them. Skippers United Pacific v. Maguad[8] explains:

. . . [T]he obligations covenanted in the recruitment


agreement entered into by and between the local agent
and its foreign principal are not coterminous with the
term of such agreement so that if either or both of the
parties decide to end the agreement, the responsibilities of
such parties towards the contracted employees under the
agreement do not at all end, but the same extends up to and
until the expiration of the employment contracts of the
employees recruited and employed pursuant to the said
recruitment agreement. Otherwise, this will render
nugatory the very purpose for which the law governing
the employment of workers for foreign jobs abroad was
enacted. (emphasis supplied)

The imposition of joint and solidary liability is in line with the policy of the
state to protect and alleviate the plight of the working class. [9] Verily, to allow
petitioners to simply invoke the immunity from suit of its foreign principal or
to wait for the judicial determination of the foreign principals liability before
petitioner can be held liable renders the law on joint and solidary liability
inutile.

As to petitioners contentions that Philippine labor laws


on probationary employment are not applicable since it was expressly
provided in respondents employment contract, which she voluntarily entered
into, that the terms of her engagement shall be governed by prevailing
Kuwaiti Civil Service Laws and Regulations as in fact POEA Rules accord
respect to such rules, customs and practices of the host country, the same
was not substantiated.

Indeed, a contract freely entered into is considered the law between


the parties who can establish stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as
they may deem convenient, including the laws which they wish to govern
their respective obligations, as long as they are not contrary to law, morals,
good customs, public order or public policy.

It is hornbook principle, however, that the party invoking the


application of a foreign law has the burden of proving the law, under the
doctrine of processual presumption which, in this case, petitioners failed to
discharge. The
Courts
ruling
in EDI-Staffbuilders
Intl.,
v.
NLRC[10] illuminates:

In the present case, the employment contract signed


by Gran specifically states that Saudi Labor Laws will
govern matters not provided for in the contract (e.g.
specific causes for termination, termination procedures,
etc.). Being the law intended by the parties (lex loci
intentiones) to apply to the contract, Saudi Labor Laws
should govern all matters relating to the termination of the
employment
of
Gran.
In international law, the party who wants to have a
foreign law applied to a dispute or case has the burden of
proving the foreign law. The foreign law is treated as a
question of fact to be properly pleaded and proved as the
judge or labor arbiter cannot take judicial notice of a
foreign law. He is presumed to know only domestic or forum
law.
Unfortunately for petitioner, it did not prove the
pertinent Saudi laws on the matter; thus, the
International
Law
doctrine
of presumed-identity
approach or processual presumptioncomes into play.
Where a foreign law is not pleaded or, even if pleaded, is
not proved, the presumption is that foreign law is the
same as ours. Thus, we apply Philippine labor laws in
determining the issues presented before us. (emphasis
and underscoring supplied)

The Philippines does not take judicial notice of foreign laws,


hence, they must not only be alleged; they must be proven. To prove a
foreign law, the party invoking it must present a copy thereof and comply
with Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court which
reads:

SEC. 24. Proof of official record. The record of


public documents referred to in paragraph (a) of Section 19,
when admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced by an
official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the officer
having the legal custody of the record, or by his deputy, and
accompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines,
with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If the
office in which the record is kept is in a foreign country,
the certificate may be made by a secretary of the
embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice consul,
or consular agent or by any officer in the foreign service
of the Philippines stationed in the foreign country in
which the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal
of his office. (emphasis supplied)

SEC.
25. What
attestation
of
copy
must
state. Whenever a copy of a document or record is attested
for the purpose of the evidence, the attestation must state, in
substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the original, or
a specific part thereof, as the case may be. The attestation
must be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if there
be any, or if he be the clerk of a court having a seal, under
the seal of such court.

To prove the Kuwaiti law, petitioners submitted the following: MOA


between respondent and the Ministry, as represented by ATCI,
which provides that the employee is subject to a probationary period of one
(1) year and that the host countrys Civil Service Laws and Regulations apply;
a translated copy[11] (Arabic to English) of the termination letter to
respondent stating that she did not pass the probation terms, without
specifying the grounds therefor, and a translated copy of the certificate of

termination,[12] both of which documents were certified by Mr. Mustapha


Alawi, Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of Consular Affairs
Inslamic Certification and Translation Unit; and respondents letter[13] of
reconsideration to the Ministry, wherein she noted that in her first eight (8)
months of employment, she was given a rating of Excellent albeit it changed
due to changes in her shift of work schedule.

These documents, whether taken singly or as a whole, do not


sufficiently prove that respondent was validly terminated as a probationary
employee under Kuwaiti civil service laws. Instead of submitting a copy of
the pertinent Kuwaiti labor laws duly authenticated and translated by
Embassy officials thereat, as required under the Rules, what petitioners
submitted were mere certifications attesting only to the correctness of
the translations of the MOA and the termination letter which does not
prove at all that Kuwaiti civil service laws differ from Philippine laws
and that under such Kuwaiti laws, respondent was validly
terminated. Thus the subject certifications read:

xxxx

This is to certify that the herein attached


translation/s from Arabic to English/Tagalog and or vice
versa was/were presented to this Office for review and
certification and the same was/were found to be in
order. This Office, however, assumes no responsibility as
to the contents of the document/s.

This certification is being issued upon request of the


interested party for whatever legal purpose it may serve.
(emphasis supplied)

Respecting Ikdals joint and solidary liability as a corporate officer,


the same is in order too following the express provision of R.A. 8042 on
money claims, viz:

SEC. 10. Money Claims.Notwithstanding any


provision of law to the contrary, the Labor Arbiters of the
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) shall have the
original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide, within
ninety (90) calendar days after the filing of the complaint, the
claims arising out of an employer-employee relationship or by
virtue of any law or contract involving Filipino workers for
overseas deployment including claims for actual moral,
exemplary and other forms of damages.
The
liability
of
the
principal/employer
and
the
recruitment/placement agency for any and all claims under
this section shall be joint and several. This provision shall be
incorporated in the contract for overseas employment and
shall be a condition precedent for its approval. The
performance bond to be filed by the recruitment/placement
agency, as provided by law, shall be answerable for all money
claims or damages that may be awarded to the workers. If
the recruitment/placement agency is a juridical
being, the corporate officers and directors and partners
as the case may be, shall themselves be jointly and
solidarily liable with the corporation or partnership for
the aforesaid claims and damages. (emphasis and
underscoring supplied)

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 185518

April 17, 2013

SPOUSES FELIX CHINGKOE AND ROSITA CHINGKOE, Petitioners,


vs.
SPOUSES FAUSTINO CHINGKOE AND GLORIA CHINGKOE, Respondents.
DECISION

SERENO, CJ.:
This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
assails the 3 July 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) annulling the
30 March 2007 Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon
City.1The RTC affirmed2 the Metropolitan Trial Court's (MTC) dismissal 3 of
the Complaint for unlawful detainer filed by herein respondents.
The facts, as culled from the records, are as follows:
Respondents are the registered owners of a real property covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 82834 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City. They
claim that sometime in 1990, out of tolerance and permission, they allowed
respondent Faustinos brother, Felix, and his wife, Rosita, to inhabit the
subject property situated at No. 58 Lopez Jaena Street, Ayala Heights,
Quezon City. Due to the intercession of their mother, Tan Po Chu, Faustino
agreed to sell the property to Felix on condition that the title shall be
delivered only after Felix and Rositas payment of the full purchase price, and
after respondents settlement of their mortgage obligations with the Rizal
Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC). After further prodding from their
mother, however, and at Felixs request, Faustino agreed to deliver in advance
an incomplete draft of a Deed of Absolute Sale, which had not yet been
notarized. While respondents themselves drafted the deed, the parties again
agreed that the document would only be completed after full payment. 5
On 24 July 2001, respondents sent a demand letter 6 to petitioners asking
them to vacate the premises. To this date, petitioners have refused to do so,
prompting respondents to file a complaint 7 for unlawful detainer with the
MTC of Quezon City. In their Answer, petitioners presented a copy of a
completed Deed of Absolute Sale dated 10 October 1994, claiming that
respondents had sold the property for P3,130,000, which petitioners had
paid in full and in cash on the same day. Due to respondents adamant
refusal to surrender the title to them as buyers, petitioners were allegedly
constrained to file an action for specific performance with Branch 96 of the
Quezon City RTC on 31 January 1995.8
The MTC gave weight to the Deed of Sale presented by petitioners and
dismissed the Complaint, as follows:
The defendants herein assert that "since October 1994, when they bought
their property in CASH, their stay thereat is by virtue of their absolute
ownership thereof as provided for in the Absolute Deed of Sale," x x x. The
foregoing would right away tell us that this Court is barred from ordering the

ejectment of the defendants from the premises in question so much so that


what is at stake only in cases of this nature as above stated is as regards
possession only.
With the execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale whereby the Vendors never
reserved their rights and interests over the property after the sale, and the
transfer appears to be absolute, beside the fact that the property is now
under the control and custody of the defendants, we could conclude that
instant case unlawful detainer (sic) is destined to fail,9

Anent the first argument, petitioners fault the CA for citing and giving
credence to the testimony of Tan Po Chu, who was presented as a witness in
another case, the action for specific performance filed by petitioners. The CA
stated:

x x x.

In the case instituted by the respondents against herein petitioner for


Specific Performance entitled "Felix Chingkoe and Rosita Chingkoe v.
Faustino Chingkoe and Gloria Chingkoe," docketed as Civil Case No. Q-9522865 pending before Branch 96 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Tan Po Chu testified on 25 November 1999 to shed light on the matter once
and for all, to wit:

The RTC affirmed the findings of the MTC in toto, reasoning thus:

xxxx

x x x (T)here exists a Deed presented in evidence on the sale of the subject


property entered into by the herein parties. The Deed of Sale renders weak
the claim of tolerance or permission.

Atty. Nicolas:

Although the plaintiffs-appellants questioned the validity and authenticity of


the Deed of Sale, this will not change the nature of the action as an unlawful
detainer, in the light of our premise of the principal issue in unlawful
detainer possession de facto.10
The CA reversed the findings of the lower courts and ruled that a mere plea
of title over disputed land by the defendant cannot be used as sound basis
for dismissing an action for recovery of possession. Citing Refugia v. Court of
Appeals, the appellate court found that petitioners stay on the property was
merely a tolerated possession, which they were no longer entitled to continue.
The deed they presented was not one of sale, but a "document preparatory to
an actual sale, prepared by the petitioners upon the insistence and prodding
of their mother to soothe in temper respondent Felix Chingkoe." 11
Petitioners now come before this Court, raising the following arguments:
a. The CA committed reversible error when it admitted and gave
weight to testimony given in a different proceeding (action for specific
performance) pending before the Regional Trial Court in resolving the
issue herein (unlawful detainer); and
b. The CA committed reversible error when it ruled on the validity of
a notarized Deed of Sale in a summary ejectment action.
We deny the petition.

Q You mentioned that this is the second copy of the deed of absolute sale,
you identified the signature appearing here as the signature of Felix, how do
you know that this is the signature of Felix?
A Well, he is my son. I am familiar with his signature and besides that he
signed it in my presence.
Q And this is the very document and not as photocopy (sic) of the second
document which you brought to Felix?
Atty. Flores:
Again, Your Honor, very leading.
Court:
I will allow.
A I am not very sure now but I think this is the real one, I think this is the
one because I saw him signed (sic) this.
Atty. Nicolas:
May I request that this be marked as Exhibit "1" and the signature of Felix be
signed as Exhibit "1-A"?

Court:
Mark.
Atty. Flores:
Just a moment, no basis, Your Honor, please.
Atty. Nicolas:
Your Honor, the witness said that there was a deed of absolute sale,
I was asking if she knows how much Felix paid for the property when she
delivered the document.
Court:
She never testified that there was a sale, she only said that there was a deed
of sale.
Atty. Nicolas:
I will reform, Your Honor.
Q When you delivered this document to Felix, what did he give you in return,
if any?
A He did not give me anything, he had never paid me any single cent.
Q When you delivered the deed of sale?
A There was no payment whatsoever.
Q As far as you know, Ms. Witness, was the property paid for by Felix to
Faustino?
A I swear to God, no payment, there was no payment at all, I swear.
xxxx

As clearly shown in the testimony given in open court which was abovequoted, petitioners merely delivered to their mother a draft of the deed, which
they signed to appease her and respondent Felix Chingkoe. 12 (Emphases
supplied.)
The CA indeed quoted at length from the testimony of Tan Po Chu, and culled
therefrom the factual finding that the purported contract of sale had never
been consummated between the parties. The CA cited as basis her testimony
from Civil Case No. Q-95-22865: that she witnessed Felix signing the blank
deed, and that upon its signing, there was no payment for the property. This
account directly contradicts petitioners claim that payment was made
simultaneously with the perfection of the contract.
Petitioners claim that the CA erroneously considered this testimony in Civil
Case No. Q-95-22865. They cite the general rule that courts are not
authorized to take judicial notice of the contents of the records of other
cases. This rule, however, admits of exceptions. As early as United States v.
Claveria, this Court has stated: "In the absence of objection and as a matter
of convenience, a court may properly treat all or part of the original record of
a former case filed in its archives, as read into the record of a case pending
before it, when, with the knowledge of the opposing party, reference is made
to it for that purpose by name and number or in some other manner by
which it is sufficiently designated."13
We reiterated this stance in Adiarte v. Domingo, 14 in which the trial court
decided the action pending before it by taking judicial notice of the records of
a prior case for a sum of money. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial courts
dismissal of the Complaint, after it considered evidence clearly showing that
the subject matter thereof was the same as that in the prior litigation. In a
1993 case, Occidental Land Transportation Company, Inc. v. Court of
Appeals, the Court ruled:
The reasons advanced by the respondent court in taking judicial notice of
Civil Case No. 3156 are valid and not contrary to law. As a general rule,
"courts are not authorized to take judicial notice, in the adjudication of cases
pending before them, of the contents of the records of other cases, even when
such cases have been tried or are pending in the same court, and
notwithstanding the fact that both cases may have been heard or are actually
pending before the same judge." The general rule admits of exceptions as
enumerated in Tabuena v. Court of Appeals, the Court, citing U.S. v. Claveria,
which We quote:
x x x (I)n the absence of objection, and as a matter of convenience to all
parties, a court may properly treat all or any part of the original record of a

case filed in its archives as read into the record of a case pending before it,
when, with the knowledge of the opposing party, reference is made to it for
that purpose, by name and number or in some other manner by which it is
sufficiently designated; or when the original record of the former case or any
part of it, is actually withdrawn from the archives by the court's direction, at
the request or with the consent of the parties, and admitted as a part of the
record of the case then pending.
It is clear, though, that this exception is applicable only when, in the
absence of objection, with the knowledge of the opposing party, or at the
request or with the consent of the parties the case is clearly referred to or
the original or part of the records of the case are actually withdrawn from
the archives' and 'admitted as part of the record of the case then pending.
xxxx
And unlike the factual situation in Tabuena v. CA, the decision in Civil Case
No. 3156 formed part of the records of the instant case (Civil Case No. 2728)
with the knowledge of the parties and in the absence of their objection.
(Emphases supplied, citations omitted).15
This doctrine was restated in Republic v. Sandiganbayan, viz: "As a matter of
convenience to all the parties, a court may properly treat all or any part of
the original record of a case filed in its archives as read into the record of a
case pending before it, when, with the knowledge of, and absent an objection
from, the adverse party, reference is made to it for that purpose, by name and
number or in some other manner by which it is sufficiently designated; or
when the original record of the former case or any part of it, is actually
withdrawn from the archives at the courts direction, at the request or with
the consent of the parties, and admitted as a part of the record of the case
then pending."16 (Underscoring supplied)
In the case at bar, as the CA rightly points out in its Resolution dated 28
November 2008,17 petitioners never objected to the introduction of the
Transcript of Stenographic Notes containing the testimony of Tan Po Chu,
which were records of Civil Case No. Q-95-22865. As shown by the records
and as petitioners admitted in their Reply, the testimony was already
introduced on appeal before the RTC. In fact, it was petitioners themselves
who specifically cited Civil Case No. Q-95-22865, referring to it both by name
and number, purportedly to bolster the claim that they were constrained to
sue, in order to compel delivery of the title. 18

Given these facts, the CA committed no reversible error in taking judicial


notice of the records of Civil Case No. Q-95-22865. In any case, the said
testimony was not the only basis for reversing the RTCs Decision.
Independent of the testimony, the CA through its perusal and assessment
of other pieces of evidence, specifically the Deed of Absolute Sale concluded
that petitioners stay on the premises had become unlawful.
Concerning the second issue, petitioners object to the assessment of the
Deed of Sale by the CA, claiming such a determination is improper in
summary proceedings. It should be noted that it was petitioners who
introduced the Deed of Sale in evidence before the MTC and the RTC, as
evidence of their claimed right to possession over the property.1wphi1 They
attached the deed to their Answer as Annex "1." 19 The CA discovered that
they falsified their copy of the document denominated as Deed of Absolute
Sale in this wise:
Said draft of the deed was undated and bears the signature of one witness,
as can be clearly noticed upon its very careful perusal. Notably, respondents
made it appear in the draft of the Deed of Absolute Sale that there indeed
was a valid and consummated sale when in truth and in fact, there was
none. The document accomplished by the respondents (herein petitioners)
gave them some semblance, albeit highly questionable, of ownership over the
property by affixing their signatures, affixing the signature of one Cora Hizon
as witness and superimposing the signature of Jane Chan with that of one
Noralyn Collado.20
Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 states that when the defendant raises the question
of ownership in unlawful detainer cases and the question of possession
cannot be resolved without deciding the issue of ownership, the issue of
ownership shall be resolved only to determine the issue of possession. 21 This
Court has repeatedly ruled that although the issue in unlawful detainer
cases is physical possession over a property, trial courts may provisionally
resolve the issue of ownership for the sole purpose of determining the issue
of possession.22 "These actions are intended to avoid disruption of public
order by those who would take the law in their hands purportedly to enforce
their claimed right of possession. In these cases, the issue is pure physical or
de facto possession, and pronouncements made on questions of ownership
are provisional in nature. The provisional determination of ownership in the
ejectment case cannot be clothed with finality." 23
Trial courts must necessarily delve into and weigh the evidence of the parties
in order to rule on the right of possession, as we have discussed in Sps.
Esmaquel and Sordevilla v. Coprada:

In unlawful detainer cases, the possession of the defendant was originally


legal, as his possession was permitted by the plaintiff on account of an
express or implied contract between them. However, defendant's possession
became illegal when the plaintiff demanded that defendant vacate the subject
property due to the expiration or termination of the right to possess under
their contract, and defendant refused to heed such demand.
The sole issue for resolution in an unlawful detainer case is physical or
material possession of the property involved, independent of any claim of
ownership by any of the parties. Where the issue of ownership is raised by
any of the parties, the courts may pass upon the same in order to determine
who has the right to possess the property. The adjudication is, however,
merely provisional and would not bar or prejudice an action between the
same parties involving title to the property. Since the issue of ownership was
raised in the unlawful detainer case, its resolution boils down to which of the
parties' respective evidence deserves more weight. 24 (Emphasis supplied,
citations omitted.)
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, we deny the instant Petition for lack
of merit. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 100008
(dated 3 July 2008) is AFFIRMED.
We make no pronouncement as to attorney's fees for lack of evidence.
SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 182356, December 04, 2013
DRA. LEILA A. DELA LLANA, Petitioners, v. REBECCA BIONG, DOING
BUSINESS
UNDER
THE
NAME
AND
STYLE
OF
PONGKAY
TRADING, Respondent.
DECISION
BRION, J.:
Every case essentially turns on two basic questions: questions of fact and
questions of law. Questions of fact are for the parties and their counsels to
respond to, based on what supporting facts the legal questions require; the
court can only draw conclusion from the facts or evidence adduced. When

the facts are lacking because of the deficiency of presented evidence, then the
court can only draw one conclusion: that the case must fail for lack of
evidentiary
support.
The present case is one such case as Dra. Leila A. dela Llanas (petitioner)
petition for review oncertiorari1 challenging the February 11, 2008
decision2 and the March 31, 2008 resolution 3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
CA-G.R. CV No. 89163.
The Factual Antecedents
On March 30, 2000, at around 11:00 p.m., Juan dela Llana was driving a
1997 Toyota Corolla car along North Avenue, Quezon City. 4 His sister, Dra.
dela Llana, was seated at the front passenger seat while a certain Calimlim
was at the backseat.5 Juan stopped the car across the Veterans Memorial
Hospital when the signal light turned red. A few seconds after the car halted,
a dump truck containing gravel and sand suddenly rammed the cars rear
end, violently pushing the car forward. Due to the impact, the cars rear end
collapsed and its rear windshield was shattered. Glass splinters flew,
puncturing Dra. dela Llana. Apart from these minor wounds, Dra. dela Llana
did not appear to have suffered from any other visible physical injuries. 6
The traffic investigation report dated March 30, 2000 identified the truck
driver as Joel Primero. It stated that Joel was recklessly imprudent in driving
the truck.7 Joel later revealed that his employer was respondent Rebecca
Biong, doing business under the name and style of Pongkay Trading and
was
engaged
in
a
gravel
and
sand
business. 8
In the first week of May 2000, Dra. dela Llana began to feel mild to moderate
pain on the left side of her neck and shoulder. The pain became more intense
as days passed by. Her injury became more severe. Her health deteriorated to
the extent that she could no longer move her left arm. On June 9, 2000, she
consulted with Dr. Rosalinda Milla, a rehabilitation medicine specialist, to
examine her condition. Dr. Milla told her that she suffered from a whiplash
injury, an injury caused by the compression of the nerve running to her left
arm and hand. Dr. Milla required her to undergo physical therapy to alleviate
her
condition.
Dra. dela Llanas condition did not improve despite three months of extensive
physical therapy.9 She then consulted other doctors, namely, Drs. Willie
Lopez, Leonor Cabral-Lim and Eric Flores, in search for a cure. Dr. Flores, a
neuro-surgeon, finally suggested that she undergo a cervical spine surgery to
release the compression of her nerve. On October 19, 2000, Dr. Flores
operated on her spine and neck, between the C5 and the C6 vertebrae. 10 The

operation released the impingement of the nerve, but incapacitated Dra. dela
Llana from the practice of her profession since June 2000 despite the
surgery.11
Dra. dela Llana, on October 16, 2000, demanded from Rebecca compensation
for her injuries, but Rebecca refused to pay. 12 Thus, on May 8, 2001, Dra.
dela Llana sued Rebecca for damages before the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City (RTC). She alleged that she lost the mobility of her arm as a
result of the vehicular accident and claimed P150,000.00 for her medical
expenses (as of the filing of the complaint) and an average monthly income of
P30,000.00 since June 2000. She further prayed for actual, moral, and
exemplary
damages
as
well
as
attorneys
fees.13
In defense, Rebecca maintained that Dra. dela Llana had no cause of action
against her as no reasonable relation existed between the vehicular accident
and Dra. dela Llanas injury. She pointed out that Dra. dela Llanas illness
became manifest one month and one week from the date of the vehicular
accident. As a counterclaim, she demanded the payment of attorneys fees
and
costs
of
the
suit.14
At the trial, Dra. dela Llana presented herself as an ordinary witness15 and
Joel as a hostile witness.16 Dra. dela Llana reiterated that she lost the
mobility of her arm because of the vehicular accident. To prove her claim, she
identified and authenticated a medical certificate dated November 20,
2000 issued by Dr. Milla. The medical certificate stated that Dra. dela Llana
suffered from a whiplash injury. It also chronicled her clinical history and
physical examinations.17 Meanwhile, Joel testified that his truck hit the car
because
the
trucks
brakes
got
stuck. 18
In defense, Rebecca testified that Dra. dela Llana was physically fit and
strong when they met several days after the vehicular accident. She also
asserted that she observed the diligence of a good father of a family in the
selection and supervision of Joel. She pointed out that she required Joel to
submit a certification of good moral character as well as barangay, police,
and NBI clearances prior to his employment. She also stressed that she only
hired Primero after he successfully passed the driving skills test conducted
by
Alberto
Marcelo,
a
licensed
driver-mechanic. 19
Alberto also took the witness stand. He testified that he checked the truck in
the morning of March 30, 2000. He affirmed that the truck was in good
condition prior to the vehicular accident. He opined that the cause of the
vehicular accident was a damaged compressor. According to him, the absence
of air inside the tank damaged the compressor. 20chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

RTC Ruling
The RTC ruled in favor of Dra. dela Llana and held that the proximate cause
of Dra. dela Llanas whiplash injury to be Joels reckless driving. 21 It found
that a whiplash injury is an injury caused by the sudden jerking of the spine
in the neck area. It pointed out that the massive damage the car suffered
only meant that the truck was over-speeding. It maintained that Joel should
have driven at a slower pace because road visibility diminishes at night. He
should have blown his horn and warned the car that his brake was stuck
and could have prevented the collision by swerving the truck off the road. It
also concluded that Joel was probably sleeping when the collision occurred
as Joel had been driving for fifteen hours on that fateful day.
The RTC further declared that Joels negligence gave rise to the presumption
that Rebecca did not exercise the diligence of a good father of a family in
Joels selection and supervision of Joel. Rebecca was vicariously liable
because she was the employer and she personally chose him to drive the
truck. On the day of the collision, she ordered him to deliver gravel and sand
to Muoz Market, Quezon City. The Court concluded that the three elements
necessary to establish Rebeccas liability were present: (1) that the employee
was chosen by the employer, personally or through another; (2) that the
services were to be rendered in accordance with orders which the employer
had the authority to give at all times; and (3) that the illicit act of the
employee was on the occasion or by reason of the functions entrusted to him.
The RTC thus awarded Dra. dela Llana the amounts of P570,000.00 as
actual damages, P250,000.00 as moral damages, and the cost of the
suit.22chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
CA Ruling
In a decision dated February 11, 2008, the CA reversed the RTC ruling. It
held that Dra. dela Llana failed to establish a reasonable connection between
the vehicular accident and her whiplash injury by preponderance of
evidence. Citing Nutrimix Feeds Corp. v. Court of Appeals,23 it declared that
courts will not hesitate to rule in favor of the other party if there is no
evidence or the evidence is too slight to warrant an inference establishing the
fact in issue. It noted that the interval between the date of the collision and
the date when Dra. dela Llana began to suffer the symptoms of her illness
was lengthy. It concluded that this interval raised doubts on whether Joels
reckless driving and the resulting collision in fact caused Dra. dela Llanas
injury.
It also declared that courts cannot take judicial notice that vehicular

accidents cause whiplash injuries. It observed that Dra. dela Llana did not
immediately visit a hospital to check if she sustained internal injuries after
the accident. Moreover, her failure to present expert witnesses was fatal to
her claim. It also gave no weight to the medical certificate. The medical
certificate did not explain how and why the vehicular accident caused the
injury.24chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The Petition
Dra. dela Llana points out in her petition before this Court that Nutrimix is
inapplicable in the present case. She stresses that Nutrimix involved the
application of Article 1561 and 1566 of the Civil Code, provisions governing
hidden defects. Furthermore, there was absolutely no evidence
in Nutrimix that showed that poisonous animal feeds were sold to the
respondents
in
that
case.
As opposed to the respondents in Nutrimix, Dra. dela Llana asserts that she
has established by preponderance of evidence that Joels negligent act was
the proximate cause of her whiplash injury.First, pictures of her damaged
car show that the collision was strong. She posits that it can be reasonably
inferred from these pictures that the massive impact resulted in her whiplash
injury.Second, Dr. Milla categorically stated in the medical certificate that
Dra. dela Llana suffered from whiplash injury. Third, her testimony that the
vehicular accident caused the injury is credible because she was a surgeon.
Dra. dela Llana further asserts that the medical certificate has probative
value. Citing several cases, she posits that an uncorroborated medical
certificate is credible if uncontroverted.25 She points out that expert opinion
is unnecessary if the opinion merely relates to matters of common
knowledge. She maintains that a judge is qualified as an expert to determine
the causation between Joels reckless driving and her whiplash injury. Trial
judges are aware of the fact that whiplash injuries are common in vehicular
collisions.
The Respondents Position
In her Comment,26 Rebecca points out that Dra. dela Llana raises a factual
issue which is beyond the scope of a petition for review on certiorari under
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. She maintains that the CAs findings of fact
are final and conclusive. Moreover, she stresses that Dra. dela Llanas
arguments are not substantial to merit this Courts consideration.
The Issue

The sole issue for our consideration in this case is whether Joels reckless
driving is the proximate cause of Dra. dela Llanas whiplash injury.
Our Ruling
We

find

the

petition

unmeritorious.

The Supreme Court may review questions of fact in a petition for


review on certiorariwhen the findings of fact by the lower courts are
conflicting
The issue before us involves a question of fact and this Court is not a trier of
facts. As a general rule, the CAs findings of fact are final and conclusive and
this Court will not review them on appeal. It is not the function of this Court
to examine, review or evaluate the evidence in a petition for review
oncertiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. We can only review the
presented evidence, by way of exception, when the conflict exists in findings
of the RTC and the CA. 27 We see this exceptional situation here and thus
accordingly examine the relevant evidence presented before the trial court.
Dra. dela Llana failed to establish her case by preponderance of
evidence
Article 2176 of the Civil Code provides that [w]hoever by act or omission
causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay
for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing
contractual relation between the parties, is a quasi-delict. Under this
provision, the elements necessary to establish a quasi-delict case are: (1)
damages to the plaintiff; (2) negligence, by act or omission, of the defendant
or by some person for whose acts the defendant must respond, was guilty;
and (3) the connection of cause and effect between such negligence and
the damages.28 These elements show that the source of obligation in a quasidelict case is the breach or omission of mutual duties that civilized society
imposes upon its members, or which arise from non-contractual relations of
certain members of society to others.29ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Based on these requisites, Dra. dela Llana must first establish by
preponderance of evidence the three elements of quasi-delict before we
determine Rebeccas liability as Joels employer. She should show the
chain of causation between Joels reckless driving and her whiplash
injury. Only after she has laid this foundation can the presumption - that
Rebecca did not exercise the diligence of a good father of a family in the

selection and supervision of Joel - arise. 30Once negligence, the damages and
the proximate causation are established, this Court can then proceed with
the application and the interpretation of the fifth paragraph of Article 2180 of
the Civil Code.31 Under Article 2176 of the Civil Code, in relation with the
fifth paragraph of Article 2180, an action predicated on an employees act or
omission may be instituted against the employer who is held liable for the
negligent act or omission committed by his employee. 32 The rationale for
these graduated levels of analyses is that it is essentially the wrongful or
negligent act or omission itself which creates the vinculum juris in extracontractual
obligations.33

B. The medical certificate cannot be considered because it was not


admitted
in
evidence

In civil cases, a party who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it. He who
alleges has the burden of proving his allegation by preponderance of
evidence or greater weight of credible evidence. 34The reason for this rule is
that bare allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence, are not equivalent to
proof. In
short,
mere
allegations
are
not
evidence. 35

However, even if we consider the medical certificate in the disposition of this


case, the medical certificate has no probative value for being hearsay. It is a
basic rule that evidence, whether oral or documentary, is hearsay if its
probative value is not based on the personal knowledge of the witness but on
the knowledge of another person who is not on the witness stand. 39 Hearsay
evidence, whether objected to or not, cannot be given credence 40 except in
very unusual circumstance that is not found in the present case.
Furthermore, admissibility of evidence should not be equated with weight of
evidence. The admissibility of evidence depends on its relevance and
competence, while the weight of evidence pertains to evidence already
admitted and its tendency to convince and persuade. Thus, a particular item
of evidence may be admissible, but its evidentiary weight depends on judicial
evaluation within the guidelines provided by the Rules of Court. 41

In the present case, the burden of proving the proximate causation between
Joels negligence and Dra. dela Llanas whiplash injury rests on Dra. dela
Llana. She must establish by preponderance of evidence that Joels
negligence, in its natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any
efficient intervening cause, produced her whiplash injury, and without which
her
whiplash
injury
would
not
have
occurred. 36
Notably, Dra. dela Llana anchors her claim mainly on three pieces of
evidence: (1) the pictures of her damaged car, (2) the medical certificate dated
November 20, 2000, and (3) her testimonial evidence. However, none of these
pieces of evidence show the causal relation between the vehicular accident
and the whiplash injury. In other words, Dra. dela Llana, during trial, did
not adduce thefactum probans or the evidentiary facts by which
the factum probandum or the ultimate fact can be established, as fully
discussed
below.37ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
A. The pictures of the damaged car only demonstrate the impact of the
collision
Dra. dela Llana contends that the pictures of the damaged car show that the
massive impact of the collision caused her whiplash injury. We are not
persuaded by this bare claim. Her insistence that these pictures show the
causation grossly belies common logic. These pictures indeed demonstrate
the impact of the collision. However, it is a far-fetched assumption that the
whiplash
injury
can
also
be
inferred
from
these
pictures.

Furthermore, the medical certificate, marked as Exhibit H during trial,


should not be considered in resolving this case for the reason that it was not
admitted in evidence by the RTC in an order dated September 23,
2004.38 Thus, the CA erred in even considering this documentary evidence in
its resolution of the case. It is a basic rule that evidence which has not been
admitted cannot be validly considered by the courts in arriving at their
judgments.

During trial, Dra. dela Llana testified:


Q:

Did your physician tell you, more or less, what was the reason why
you were feeling that pain in your left arm?

A:

Well, I got a certificate from her and in that certificate, she


stated that my condition was due to a compression of the
nerve, which supplied my left arm and my left hand.

Court:

By the way, what is the name of this physician, Dra.?

Witness: Her name is Dra. Rosalinda Milla. She is a Rehabilitation Medicine


Specialist.

Atty.
You mentioned that this Dra. Rosalinda Milla made or issued a
Yusingco: medical certificate. What relation does this medical certificate,
marked as Exhibit H have to do with that certificate, you said

was made by Dra. Milla?


Witness: This is the medical certificate that Dra. Milla made out for me.

Atty.
Your Honor, this has been marked as Exhibit H.
Yusingco:
Atty.
What other medical services were done on you, Dra. dela Llana, as
Yusingco: a result of that feeling, that pain that you felt in your left arm?
Witness: Well, aside from the medications and physical therapy, a reevaluation of my condition after three months indicated that I
needed surgery.

Atty.
Did you undergo this surgery?
Yusingco:
Witness: So, on October 19, I underwent surgery on my neck, on my spine.

Atty.
And, what was the result of that surgical operation?
Yusingco:
Witness: Well, the operation was to relieve the compression on my nerve,
which did not resolve by the extensive and prolonged physical
therapy that I underwent for more than three months. 42 (emphasis
ours)
Evidently, it was Dr. Milla who had personal knowledge of the contents of the
medical certificate. However, she was not presented to testify in court and
was not even able to identify and affirm the contents of the medical
certificate. Furthermore, Rebecca was deprived of the opportunity to crossexamine Dr. Milla on the accuracy and veracity of her findings.
We also point out in this respect that the medical certificate nonetheless did
not explain the chain of causation in fact between Joels reckless driving and
Dra. dela Llanas whiplash injury. It did not categorically state that the
whiplash injury was a result of the vehicular accident. A perusal of the
medical certificate shows that it only attested to her medical condition, i.e.,
that she was suffering from whiplash injury. However, the medical certificate
failed to substantially relate the vehicular accident to Dra. dela Llanas
whiplash injury. Rather, the medical certificate only chronicled her medical
history
and
physical
examinations.
C. Dra. dela Llanas opinion that Joels negligence caused her

whiplash

injury

has

no

probative

value

Interestingly, the present case is peculiar in the sense that Dra. dela Llana,
as the plaintiff in this quasi-delict case, was the lone physician-witness
during trial. Significantly, she merely testified as anordinary witness before
the trial court. Dra. dela Llana essentially claimed in her testimony that
Joels
reckless
driving
caused
her
whiplash
injury.
Despite the fact that Dra. dela Llana is a physician and even assuming that
she is an expert in neurology, we cannot give weight to her opinion that Joels
reckless driving caused her whiplash injury without violating the rules on
evidence.
Under the Rules of Court, there is a substantial difference between an
ordinary witness and an expert witness. The opinion of an ordinary witness
may be received in evidence regarding: (a) the identity of a person about
whom he has adequate knowledge; (b) a handwriting with which he has
sufficient familiarity; and (c) the mental sanity of a person with whom he is
sufficiently acquainted. Furthermore, the witness may also testify on his
impressions of the emotion, behavior, condition or appearance of a
person.43 On the other hand, the opinion of an expert witness may be
received in evidence on a matter requiring special knowledge, skill,
experience
or
training
which
he
shown
to
possess. 44
However, courts do not immediately accord probative value to an admitted
expert testimony, much less to an unobjected ordinary testimony respecting
special knowledge. The reason is that the probative value of an expert
testimony does not lie in a simple exposition of the experts opinion. Rather,
its weight lies in the assistance that the expert witness may afford the
courts by demonstrating the facts which serve as a basis for his opinion and
the reasons on which the logic of his conclusions is founded.45
In the present case, Dra. dela Llanas medical opinion cannot be given
probative value for the reason that she was not presented as an expert
witness. As an ordinary witness, she was not competent to testify on the
nature, and the cause and effects of whiplash injury. Furthermore, we
emphasize that Dra. dela Llana, during trial, nonetheless did not provide a
medical explanation on the nature as well as the cause and effects of
whiplash
injury
in
her
testimony.
The Supreme Court cannot
accidents
cause

take judicial notice that


whiplash

vehicular
injuries

Indeed, a perusal of the pieces of evidence presented by the parties before the
trial court shows thatDra. dela Llana did not present any testimonial or
documentary evidence that directly shows the causal relation between
the vehicular accident and Dra. dela Llanas injury. Her claim that Joels
negligence caused her whiplash injury was not established because of the
deficiency of the presented evidence during trial. We point out in this respect
that courts cannot take judicial notice that vehicular accidents cause
whiplash injuries. This proposition is not public knowledge, or is capable of
unquestionable demonstration, or ought to be known to judges because of
their judicial functions.46 We have no expertise in the field of medicine.
Justices and judges are only tasked to apply and interpret the law on the
basis of the parties pieces of evidence and their corresponding legal
arguments.
In sum, Dra. dela Llana miserably failed to establish her case by
preponderance of evidence. While we commiserate with her, our solemn duty
to independently and impartially assess the merits of the case binds us to
rule against Dra. dela Llanas favor. Her claim, unsupported by
preponderance of evidence, is merely a bare assertion and has no leg to
stand
on.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision dated February
11, 2008 and Resolution dated March 31, 2008 of the Court of Appeals are
hereby AFFIRMED and the petition is herebyDENIED for lack of
merit.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 174436

PERALTA, J.:

On November 5, 1999, herein respondent and petitioner, through her


representative, lsabelo R. Ermitao, executed a Contract of Lease wherein
petitioner leased in favor of respondent a 336 square meter residential lot and
a house standing thereon located at No. 20 Columbia St., Phase l, Doa
Vicenta Village, Davao City. The contract period is one (1) year, which
commenced on November 4, 1999, with a monthly rental rate of P13,500.00.
Pursuant to the contract, respondent paid petitioner P2,000.00 as security
deposit to answer for unpaid rentals and damage that may be cause to the
leased unit.
Subsequent to the execution of the lease contract, respondent received
information that sometime in March 1999, petitioner mortgaged the subject
property in favor of a certain Charlie Yap (Yap) and that the same was already
foreclosed with Yap as the purchaser of the disputed lot in an extra-judicial
foreclosure sale which was registered on February 22, 2000. Yap's brother
later offered to sell the subject property to respondent. Respondent
entertained the said offer and negotiations ensued. On June 1, 2000,
respondent bought the subject property from Yap for P950,000.00. A Deed of
Sale of Real Property was executed by the parties as evidence of the contract.
However, it was made clear in the said Deed that the property was still
subject to petitioner's right of redemption.
Prior to respondent's purchase of the subject property, petitioner filed a suit
for the declaration of nullity of the mortgage in favor of Yap as well as the
sheriff's provisional certificate of sale which was issued after the disputed
house and lot were sold on foreclosure.

January 23, 2013

JUANITA ERMITAO, represented by her Attorney-in-Fact, ISABELO


ERMITAO, Petitioner,
vs.
LAILANIE M. PAGLAS, Respondent.
DECISION

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision 1 and
Resolution2 dated September 8, 2004 and August 16, 2006, respectively, of
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 77617.

Meanwhile, on May 25, 2000, petitioner sent a letter demanding respondent


to pay the rentals which are due and to vacate the leased premises. A second
demand letter was sent on March 25, 2001. Respondent ignored both letters.
On August 13, 2001, petitioner filed with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities
(MTCC), Davao City, a case of unlawful detainer against respondent.
In its Decision dated November 26, 2001, the MTCC, Branch 6, Davao City
dismissed the case filed by petitioner and awarded respondent the amounts
of P25,000.00 as attorney's fees and P2,000.00 as appearance fee.

Petitioner filed an appeal with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Davao City.
On February 14, 2003, the RTC rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion
of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the assailed Decision is
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. AFFIRMED insofar as it dismissed the case
for unlawful detainer but modified in that the award of attorney's fees in
defendant's herein respondent's favor is deleted and that the defendant
respondent is ordered to pay plaintiff herein petitioner the equivalent of ten
months unpaid rentals on the property or the total sum of P135,000.00.
SO ORDERED.3
The RTC held that herein respondent possesses the right to redeem the
subject property and that, pending expiration of the redemption period, she
is entitled to receive the rents, earnings and income derived from the
property.
Aggrieved by the Decision of the RTC, petitioner filed a petition for review
with the CA.
On September 8, 2004, the CA rendered its assailed Decision disposing,
thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 16, 11th Judicial Region, Davao City is AFFIRMED with
the MODIFICATIONS as follows:
(a) Private respondent's obligation to pay the petitioner the amount of
ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P135,000.00)
equivalent of ten (10) months is hereby DELETED;
(b) Attorney's fees and litigation expenses were correctly awarded by
the trial court having compelled the private respondent to litigate
and incur expenses to protect her interests by reason of the
unjustified act of petitioner (Producers Bank of the Philippines vs.
Court of Appeals, 365 SCRA 326), Thus: litigation expenses of only
TEN
THOUSAND
PESOS
(P10,000.00)
not
TWENTY-FIVE
THOUSAND PESOS (P25,000.00); and

(c) Attorney's fees REI NSTAT ED in the amount of TEN THOUSAND


PESOS (P10,000.00) instead of only TWO THOUSAND PESOS
(P2,000.00).
SO ORDERED.4
Quoting extensively from the decision of the MTCC as well as on respondent's
comment on the petition for review, the CA ruled that respondent did not act
in bad faith when she bought the property in question because she had every
right to rely on the validity of the documents evidencing the mortgage and
the foreclosure proceedings.
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but the CA denied it in its
Resolution dated August 16, 2006.
Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari raising the following
assignment of errors:
A.WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
DISMISSING THE UNLAWFUL DETAINER CASE BY RULING THAT A
SHERIFF'S FINAL CERTIFICATE OF SALE WAS ALREADY ISSUED
WHICH DECISION IS NOT BASED ON THE EVIDENCE AND IN
ACCORDANCE
WITH
THE
APPLICABLE
LAWS
AND
JURISPRUDENCE.
B. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT
RULED THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT WAS A BUYER IN GOOD
FAITH EVEN IF SHE WAS INFORMED BY PETITIONER THROUGH A
LETTER ADVISING HER THAT THE REAL ESTATE MORTGAGE
CONTRACT WAS SHAM, FICTITIOUS AS IT WAS A PRODUCT OF
FORGERY BECAUSE PETITIONER'S PURPORTED SIGNATURE
APPEARING THEREIN WAS SIGNED AND FALSIFIED BY A CERTAIN
ANGELA CELOSIA.
C. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT
AWARDED ATTORNEY'S FEES WHICH WAS DELETED BY RTCBRANCH 16 OF DAVAO CITY DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF ANY
EXPLANATION AND/OR JUSTIFICATION IN THE BODY OF THE
DECISION.5
At the outset, it bears to reiterate the settled rule that the only question that
the courts resolve in ejectment proceedings is: who is entitled to the physical
possession of the premises, that is, to the possession de facto and not to the

possession de jure.6 It does not even matter if a party's title to the property is
questionable.7 In an unlawful detainer case, the sole issue for resolution is
the physical or material possession of the property involved, independent of
any claim of ownership by any of the party litigants. 8 Where the issue of
ownership is raised by any of the parties, the courts may pass upon the
same in order to determine who has the right to possess the property. 9 The
adjudication is, however, merely provisional and would not bar or prejudice
an action between the same parties involving title to the property. 10

Sec. 2. Conclusive presumptions. The following are instances of conclusive


presumptions:

In the instant case, pending final resolution of the suit filed by petitioner for
the declaration of nullity of the real estate mortgage in favor of Yap, the
MTCC, the RTC and the CA were unanimous in sustaining the presumption
of validity of the real estate mortgage over the subject property in favor of Yap
as well as the presumption of regularity in the performance of the duties of
the public officers who subsequently conducted its foreclosure sale and
issued a provisional certificate of sale. Based on the presumed validity of the
mortgage and the subsequent foreclosure sale, the MTCC, the RTC and the
CA also sustained the validity of respondent's purchase of the disputed
property from Yap. The Court finds no cogent reason to depart from these
rulings of the MTCC, RTC and CA. Thus, for purposes of resolving the issue
as to who between petitioner and respondent is entitled to possess the
subject property, this presumption stands.

It is clear from the abovequoted provision that what a tenant is estopped from
denying is the title of his landlord at the time of the commencement of the
landlord-tenant relation.13 If the title asserted is one that is alleged to have
been acquired subsequent to the commencement of that relation, the
presumption will not apply.14 Hence, the tenant may show that the landlord's
title has expired or been conveyed to another or himself; and he is not
estopped to deny a claim for rent, if he has been ousted or evicted by title
paramount.15 In the present case, what respondent is claiming is her
supposed title to the subject property which she acquired subsequent to the
commencement of the landlord-tenant relation between her and petitioner.
Hence, the presumption under Section 2 (b), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court
does not apply.

Going to the main issue in the instant petition, it is settled that in unlawful
detainer, one unlawfully withholds possession thereof after the expiration or
termination of his right to hold possession under any contract, express or
implied.11 In such case, the possession was originally lawful but became
unlawful by the expiration or termination of the right to possess; hence, the
issue of rightful possession is decisive for, in such action, the defendant is in
actual possession and the plaintiffs cause of action is the termination of the
defendants right to continue in possession. 12
In the instant petition, petitioner's basic postulate in her first and second
assigned errors is that she remains the owner of the subject property. Based
on her contract of lease with respondent, petitioner insists that respondent is
not permitted to deny her title over the said property in accordance with the
provisions of Section 2 (b), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court.
The Court does not agree.
The conclusive presumption found in Section 2 (b), Rule 131 of the Rules of
Court, known as estoppel against tenants, provides as follows:

xxxx
(b) The tenant is not permitted to deny the title of his landlord at the time of
the commencement of the relation of landlord and tenant between them.
(Emphasis supplied).

The foregoing notwithstanding, even if respondent is not estopped from


denying petitioner's claim for rent, her basis for such denial, which is her
subsequent acquisition of ownership of the disputed property, is nonetheless,
an insufficient excuse from refusing to pay the rentals due to petitioner.
There is no dispute that at the time that respondent purchased Yap's rights
over the subject property, petitioner's right of redemption as a mortgagor has
not yet expired. It is settled that during the period of redemption, it cannot be
said that the mortgagor is no longer the owner of the foreclosed property,
since the rule up to now is that the right of a purchaser at a foreclosure sale
is merely inchoate until after the period of redemption has expired without
the right being exercised.16 The title to land sold under mortgage foreclosure
remains in the mortgagor or his grantee until the expiration of the
redemption period and conveyance by the master's deed. 17 Indeed, the rule
has always been that it is only upon the expiration of the redemption period,
without the judgment debtor having made use of his right of redemption, that
the ownership of the land sold becomes consolidated in the purchaser. 18
Stated differently, under Act. No. 3135, the purchaser in a foreclosure sale
has, during the redemption period, only an inchoate right and not the
absolute right to the property with all the accompanying incidents. 19 He only

becomes an absolute owner of the property if it is not redeemed during the


redemption period.20
Pending expiration of the period of redemption, Section 7 of Act No.
3135,21 as amended, provides:
Sec. 7. In any sale made under the provisions of this Act, the purchaser may
petition the Court of First Instance of the province or place where the
property or any part thereof is situated, to give him possession thereof during
the redemption period, furnishing bond in an amount equivalent to the use
of the property for a period of twelve months, to indemnify the debtor in case
it be shown that the sale was made without violating the mortgage or without
complying with the requirements of this Act. Such petition shall be made
under oath and filed in [the] form of an ex parte motion in the registration or
cadastral proceedings if the property is registered, or in special proceedings
in the case of property registered under the Mortgage Law or under section
one hundred and ninety-four of the Administrative Code, or of any other real
property encumbered with a mortgage duly registered in the office of any
register of deeds in accordance with any existing law, and in each case the
clerk of the court shall, upon the filing of such petition, collect the fees
specified in paragraph eleven of section one hundred and fourteen of Act
Numbered Four hundred and ninety-six, as amended by Act Numbered
Twenty-eight hundred and sixty-six, and the court shall, upon approval of
the bond, order that a writ of possession issue, addressed to the sheriff of
the province in which the property is situated, who shall execute said order
immediately.
Thus, it is clear from the abovequoted provision of law that, as a consequence
of the inchoate character of the purchaser's right during the redemption
period, Act. No. 3135, as amended, allows the purchaser at the foreclosure
sale to take possession of the property only upon the filing of a bond, in an
amount equivalent to the use of the property for a period of twelve (12)
months, to indemnify the mortgagor in case it be shown that the sale was
made in violation of the mortgage or without complying with the
requirements of the law. In Cua Lai Chu v. Laqui, 22 this Court reiterated the
rule earlier pronounced in Navarra v. Court of Appeals 23 that the purchaser
at an extrajudicial foreclosure sale has a right to the possession of the
property even during the one-year redemption period provided the purchaser
files an indemnity bond. That bond, nonetheless, is not required after the
purchaser has consolidated his title to the property following the mortgagor's
failure to exercise his right of redemption for in such a case, the former has
become the absolute owner thereof.24

It, thus, clearly follows from the foregoing that, during the period of
redemption, the mortgagor, being still the owner of the foreclosed property,
remains entitled to the physical possession thereof subject to the purchaser's
right to petition the court to give him possession and to file a bond pursuant
to the provisions of Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended. The mere
purchase and certificate of sale alone do not confer any right to the
possession or beneficial use of the premises. 25
In the instant case, there is neither evidence nor allegation that respondent,
as purchaser of the disputed property, filed a petition and bond in
accordance with the provisions of Section 7 of Act No. 3135. In addition,
respondent defaulted in the payment of her rents. Thus, absent respondent's
filing of such petition and bond prior to the expiration of the period of
redemption, coupled with her failure to pay her rent, she did not have the
right to possess the subject property.
On the other hand, petitioner, as mortgagor and owner, was entitled not only
to the possession of the disputed house and lot but also to the rents,
earnings and income derived therefrom. In this regard, the RTC correctly
cited Section 32, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court which provides as follows:
Sec. 32. Rents, earnings and income of property pending redemption. The
purchaser or a redemptioner shall not be entitled to receive the rents,
earnings and income of the property sold on execution, or the value of the
use and occupation thereof when such property is in the possession of a
tenant. All rents, earnings and income derived from the property pending
redemption shall belong to the judgment obligor until the expiration of his
period of redemption. (Emphasis supplied)
While the above rule refers to execution sales, the Court finds no cogent
reason not to apply the same principle to a foreclosure sale, as in this case.
The situation became different, however, after the expiration of the
redemption period on February 23, 2001. Since there is no allegation, much
less evidence, that petitioner redeemed the subject property within one year
from the date of registration of the certificate of sale, respondent became the
owner thereof. Consolidation of title becomes a right upon the expiration of
the redemption period.26 Having become the owner of the disputed property,
respondent is then entitled to its possession.
As a consequence, petitioner's ejectment suit filed against respondent was
rendered moot when the period of redemption expired on February 23, 2001
without petitioner having redeemed the subject property, for upon expiration

of such period petitioner lost his possessory right over the same. Hence, the
only remaining right that petitioner can enforce is his right to the rentals
during the time that he was still entitled to physical possession of the subject
property that is from May 2000 until February 23, 2001.1wphi1
In this regard, this Court agrees with the findings of the MTCC that, based
on the evidence and the pleadings filed by petitioner, respondent is liable for
payment of rentals beginning May 2000 until February 2001, or for a period
of ten (10) months. However, it is not disputed that respondent already gave
to petitioner the sum of P27,000.00, which is equivalent to two (2) months
rental, as deposit to cover for any unpaid rentals. It is only proper to deduct
this amount from the rentals due to petitioner, thus leaving P108,000.00
unpaid rentals.
As to attorneys fees and litigation expenses, the Court agrees with the RTC
that since petitioner is, in entitled to unpaid rentals, her complaint which,
among others, prays for the payment of unpaid rentals, is justified. Thus, the
award of attorney' and litigation expenses to respondent should be deleted.
WHEREFORE, the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 77617, dated September 8, 2004 and August 16, 2006,
respectively, are AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS: (1)
respondent is ORDERED to pay petitioner P108,000.00 as and for unpaid
rentals; (2) the award of attorneys fees and litigation expenses to respondent
is DELETED.

TINGA,
VELASCO, JR., and
BRION, JJ.

- versus -

ERNESTO LUNARIA, ROSALINDA RAMOS and HELEN


MENDOZA,
Respondents.

Promulgated:

October 17, 2008

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

Assailed in this petition for review are the Court of Appeals


Decision[1] dated October 10, 2005 and the Resolution[2] dated January 10,
2006 in CA-G.R. CV No. 75593.
The facts in this case are as follows:

SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION

ADELA G. RAYMUNDO, EDGARDO R. RAYMUNDO,


LOURDES R. RAYMUNDO, TERESITA N. RAYMUNDO,
EVELYN R. SANTOS, ZENAIDA N. RAYMUNDO, LUIS N.
RAYMUNDO, JR. and LUCITA R. DELOS REYES,
Petitioners,

G.R. No. 171036

Present:

Sometime in May 1996, petitioners approached respondent Lunaria to


help them find a buyer for their property situated at Marilao, Bulacan with an
area of 12,126 square meters for the amount of P60,630,000. Respondent
Lunaria was promised a 5% agents commission in the event that he finds a
buyer. After respondents found a buyer, Cecilio Hipolito, an Exclusive Authority
to Sell[3] was executed embodying the agreement made by the parties. After the
corresponding Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property [4] was registered in the
Registry of Deeds, a copy thereof was given to the Far East Bank and Trust Co.,
which was then holding in escrow the amount of P50,000,000 to be disbursed or
paid against the total consideration or price of the property.

On February 14, 1997, Ceferino G. Raymundo, one of the co-owners,


advised respondents to go to the bank to receive the amount
of P1,196,000 as partial payment of their total commission. Also,
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
respondents were instructed to return after seven days to get the balance of
CARPIO MORALES,
the commission due them.

On February 21, 1997, respondents returned to the bank. However,


the check covering the balance of their commission was already given by the
bank manager to Lourdes R. Raymundo, the representative of the petitioners.
Respondents tried to get the check from the petitioners, however, they were
told that there is nothing more due them by way of commission as they have
already divided and distributed the balance of the commissions among their
nephews and nieces.
For their part, petitioners counter that there was a subsequent verbal
agreement entered into by the parties after the execution of the written
agreement. Said verbal agreement provides that the 5% agents commission shall
be divided as follows: 2/5 for the agents, 2/5 for Lourdes Raymundo, and 1/5
for the buyer, Hipolito. The share given to Lourdes Raymundo shall be in
consideration for the help she would extend in the processing of documents of
sale of the property, the payment of the capital gains tax to the Bureau of
Internal Revenue and in securing an order from the court. The 1/5 commission
given to Hipolito, on the other hand, will be used by him for the payment of
realty taxes.
Hence, for failure of the respondents to receive the balance of their
agents commission, they filed an action for the collection of a sum of money
before the RegionalTrial Court of Valenzuela City, Branch 172. On January
22, 2002, the trial court rendered a Decision [5] in favor of the respondents.
The dispositive portion of said decision reads:
follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as

1) Ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, to


pay the plaintiffs the amount of P1,834,900.00, representing
the unpaid commission, plus interest thereon at the legal
rate from the filing of this case until fully paid;

2) Ordering the defendants to, jointly and severally,


pay the plaintiffs the amount of P200,000.00 as moral
damages and the amount of P100,000.00 as exemplary
damages; and

3) Ordering the defendants [to], jointly and severally,


pay the plaintiffs the amount of P150,000.00 as attorneys
fees, plus the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.[6]
Aggrieved, petitioners appealed. In a Decision dated October 10, 2005,
the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court with the
modification that the amount of moral and exemplary damages awarded to
respondents shall be reduced. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision dated January
22, 2002 is affirmed, subject to the modification that the
award of moral damages is reduced to P50,000.00 and
exemplary damages to P25,000.00.
SO ORDERED.[7]
On October 28, 2005, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration.
However, it was denied in a Resolution dated January 10, 2006. Hence, the
instant petition raising the following issues:
[8]

I.
THE HONORABLE COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN APPLYING
THE PAROLE EVIDENCE RULE IN THIS CASE (DECISION,
PAGE 7, PARAGRAPH 1). THIS PRINCIPLE HAS NO
APPLICATION TO THE FACTS OF THE INSTANT CASE.

II.
FURTHER, IT ERRED IN REQUIRING, ALBEIT IMPLICITLY,
THE PETITIONERS TO ESTABLISH THE VERBAL
AGREEMENT
MODIFYING THE
EARLIER
WRITTEN
AGREEMENT (THE EXCLUSIVE AUTHORITY TO SELL) BY
MORE THAN A PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE
(DECISION, PAGE 8). THIS IS PLAINLY CONTRARY TO LAW
THAT
MERELY
REQUIRES
PREPONDERANCE
OF
EVIDENCE IN CIVIL CASES.
III.
FINALLY, EVEN CONCEDING FOR THE SAKE OF
ARGUMENT THAT PETITIONERS STILL OWE THE
RESPONDENTS THE BALANCE OF THEIR COMMISSION,
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN RULING THE
PETITIONERS
ARE
EACH JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY [LIABLE]
FOR
THE
PAYMENT OF THE ENTIRE BROKERS FEES. THIS RULING
HAS NO LEGAL BASIS AND IS CONTRARY TO ART. 1207 OF
THE NEW CIVIL CODE.[9]
Plainly stated, the issues for resolution are: Did the Court of Appeals
err (1) in applying the parol evidence rule; (2) in requiring petitioners to
establish their case by more than a preponderance of evidence; and (3) in
holding petitioners jointly and severally liable for the payment of the entire
brokers fees?
Anent the first issue, petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals
erred in applying the parol evidence rule to the facts of the case because the
verbal agreement was entered into subsequent to the written agreement.
Further, they aver that there is no rule that requires an agreement modifying
an earlier agreement to be in the same form as the earlier agreement in order
for such modification or amendment to be valid.
Conversely, respondents argue that the Court of Appeals did not
apply the parol evidence rule in this case. Although the appellate court
stated and emphasized the general legal principle and rule on parol evidence,
it did not apply the parol evidence rule with regard to the evidence adduced
by the petitioners.
We rule for the respondents. To begin with, we agree with petitioners
claim that the parol evidence rule does not apply to the facts of this case.
First, the parol evidence rule forbids any addition to or contradiction of the
terms of a written instrument by testimony or other evidence purporting to
show that, at or before the execution of the parties written agreement, other
or different terms were agreed upon by the parties, varying the purport of the

written contract.[10] Notably, the claimed verbal agreement was agreed upon
not prior to but subsequent to the written agreement. Second, the validity of
the written agreement is not the matter which is being put in issue here.
What is questioned is the validity of the claim that a subsequent verbal
agreement was agreed upon by the parties after the execution of the written
agreement which substantially modified their earlier written agreement.
Nonetheless, even if we apply the parol evidence rule in this case, the
evidence presented by the petitioners fell short in proving that a subsequent
verbal agreement was in fact entered into by the parties. We subscribe to the
findings of both the trial court and the appellate court that the evidence
presented by petitioners did not establish the existence of the alleged
subsequent verbal agreement. As pointed out by the trial court:
Note that no written evidence was presented by the
defendants to show that the plaintiffs [herein respondents]
agreed to the above-sharing of the commission. The fact is
that the plaintiffs are denying having ever entered into such
sharing agreement. For if the plaintiffs as sales agents
indeed agreed to share the commission they are entitled to
receive by virtue of the Exclusive Authority to Sell with
Lourdes G. Raymundo and Hipolito, it passes understanding
why no written agreement to that effect was ever made. The
absence of such written agreement is mute but telling
testimony that no such sharing arrangement was ever made.
[11]

As to the second issue, petitioners contend that the appellate court


erred in requiring them to prove the existence of the subsequent verbal
agreement by more than a mere preponderance of evidence since no rule of
evidence requires them to do so. In support of this allegation, petitioners
presented petitioner Lourdes Raymundo who testified that she was given 2/5
share of the commission pursuant to the verbal sharing scheme because she
took care of the payment of the capital gains tax, the preparation of the
documents of sale and of securing an authority from the court to sell the
property.
For their part, respondents counter that the appellate court did not
require petitioners to prove the existence of the subsequent oral agreement by
more than a mere preponderance of evidence. What the appellate court said
is that the petitioners failed to prove and establish the alleged subsequent
verbal agreement even by mere preponderance of evidence.
Petitioners abovecited allegation has no merit. By preponderance of
evidence is meant that the evidence as a whole adduced by one side is
superior to that of the other. [12] It refers to the weight, credit and value of the
aggregate evidence on either side and is usually considered to be

synonymous with the term greater weight of evidence or greater weight of


the credible evidence. It is evidence which is more convincing to the court as
worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto. [13]
Both the appellate court and trial court ruled that the evidence
presented by the petitioners is not sufficient to support their allegation that a
subsequent verbal agreement was entered into by the parties. In fact, both
courts correctly observed that if Lourdes Raymundo was in reality offered the
2/5 share of the agents commission for the purpose of assisting respondent
Lunaria in the documentation requirement, then why did the petitioners not
present any written court order on her authority, tax receipt or sales
document to support her self-serving testimony? Moreover, even the
worksheet allegedly reflecting the commission sharing was unilaterally
prepared by petitioner Lourdes Raymundo without any showing that
respondents participated in the preparation thereof or gave their assent
thereto. Even the alleged payment of 1/5 of the commission to the buyer to
be used in the payment of the realty taxes cannot be given credence since the
payment of realty taxes is the obligation of the owners, and not the
buyer. Lastly, if the said sharing agreement was entered into pursuant to the
wishes of the buyer, then he should have been presented as witness to
corroborate the claim of the petitioners. However, he was not.
As to the third issue, petitioners contend that the appellate court
erred in holding that the petitioners were each jointly and severally liable for
the payment of the brokers fees. They contend that the Civil Code provides
that unless the parties have expressly agreed to be jointly and severally liable
for the entire brokers fees, each of the petitioners should only be held liable
to the extent of their pro-indiviso share in the property sold.
For their part, respondents argue that the appellate court did not err
in affirming the joint and several liability of the petitioners. They aver that if
there was error on the part of the trial court, it was not raised or assigned as
error by petitioners in their appeal. It was also not included in the Statement
of Issues in their brief which they submitted for resolution by the Court of
Appeals. In fact, the same was never mentioned, much less questioned, by
petitioners in their brief.
On this score, we agree with respondents. The general rule is that once
an issue has been adjudicated in a valid final judgment of a competent court, it
can no longer be controverted anew and should be finally laid to rest. [14] In this
case, petitioners failed to address the issue on their solidary liability when they
appealed to the Court of Appeals. They are now estopped to question that
ruling. As to them, the issue on their liability is already valid and binding.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision
dated October 10, 2005 and the Resolution dated January 10, 2006 of the

Court of Appeals inCA-G.R. CV No. 75593 are AFFIRMED. Costs against


petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 142532. November 18, 2003]


PEOPLE
OF
THE
PHILIPPINES, appellee,
QUIZON, appellant.

vs. JOHNNY

M.

DECISION
VITUG, J.:
A
decision,
dated 27
March
2000,
of
the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City, Branch 29, found appellant Johnny
M. Quizon guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with
Homicide under Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code. He was sentenced by
the trial court to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The Information
charging him with the offense, to which he pled not guilty, read:
That on or about the 5th day of September, 1997, in the City of Angeles,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, with grave abuse of confidence, with intent of gain, and by
means of violence, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
take and carry away, against the consent of the owners thereof, a cash money
amounting to P17,000.00 and assorted jewelry, belonging to the Suarez
Travel Agency and/or Conchita M. Pasquin, with a total value of no less than
P17,000.00, to the damage and prejudice of the owners thereof in the said
total sum; that on the occasion of the said robbery and for the purpose of
enabling him to take, steal and carry away the said articles and money, the
herein accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with
evident premeditation and taking advantage of his superior strength, and
with intent to kill, treacherously attack, assault, and with the use of personal
violence upon said Conchita M.Pasquin, thereby inflicting upon the latter
mortal injuries after accused stuffed her mouth with a clothing an outcry,
and as a direct result of which, said Conchita Pasquin died.[1]
The case for the prosecution was pieced together by the trial court from
the testimony of a number of witnesses.
Conchita Magpantay Pasquin was associated with Suarez Travel
Services in Angeles City. She used the offices of the travel agency as also her
residence. Although she was separated from her husband, Bonifacio Pasquin,

her relationship with him, nevertheless, remained cordial. On 05 September


1997, around nine o clock in the morning, Conchitawent to the
adjacent Quitalig Law Office and lent a magazine to a friend, Rowena Abril, a
secretary in the law firm. In the afternoon of that day, between one and two
oclock, Rowena heard loud noises coming from Conchitas office, but she did
not pay too much attention to the incident. Twenty-five minutes later, a man
passed by Rowena as she was leaving her office to go to a nearby store.
Rowena had the impression that the man, who was walking hurriedly, came
from the office of Suarez Travel Services. At about four-fifty in the afternoon,
Rowena went to see Conchita to return the magazine. She noticed that the
door leading to Conchitas office was open but the main door was closed.
Since nobody opened the door for her, Rowena decided to leave.
At lunch time on 05 September 1997, Myla Miclat and her live-in
partner Roel Sicangco went to see Conchita to hand over the amount of
P17,000.00 in payment for Mylas round trip plane fare to Guam. While they
were inside Conchitas office, Johnny Quizon, whom Conchita introduced as
her nephew, came in. Conchita asked her nephew if he already had taken his
lunch. Conchita told Myla that her nephew was a former drug addict, and
that she was helping him mend his ways. Quizon was present
when Myla gave the money to Conchita.Conchita told Myla that she was
going to purchase the ticket and instructed her to return later that day to
pick it up. It was approximately seven oclock in the evening when Myla,
accompanied by a friend, returned to Suarez Travel Services. She knocked at
the door but nobody answered although she could see that there was still
light inside the work place. Mylatried calling up Conchita but the telephone
just kept on ringing. The following day of 06 September 1997, around fivethirty in the morning, Myla returned to Conchitas office. Again, nobody was
in sight. Myla went to the agencys neighbor to inquire if there was someone
inside the office. The neighbor climbed, peeped inside and saw a body
covered with a blanket.
Marietta Suarez, the owner of Suarez Travel Services, received a call at
six-thirty in the morning of 06 September 1997 to inform her that something
bad had happened to Conchita. She did not go to the office the day previous
as she had to accompany her husband to a social function. Marietta and her
husband forthwith proceeded to the agency. A number of police officers and
some people were by then at the scene. Apparently, the policemen forced
open the door and found the body of Conchita wrapped with a white
blanket. Conchitasjewelry box and the money paid by Myla were missing.
On
the
evening
of 06
September
1997, Conchitas husband, Bonifacio Pasquin,
who
was
then
in Bataan received a call from his brother-in-law Jose Servidal informing him
ofConchitas death.
The
following
morning,
on
his
way
to Angeles City, Pasquin chanced
upon Conchitas eldest
brother,

Jose Magpantay,
who
was
also
bound
for
the
city. Magpantayinformed Pasquin that on 05 September 1997, he received a
call from Conchita who told him that she was going to Manila to bring an
undetermined sum of money. Conchitahappened to mention that her nephew,
Johnny Quizon, was in her office at that time. Later, during the
investigation, Pasquin showed Rowena a picture of Quizon and she identified
him to be the same person who passed by her in haste that afternoon of 05
September 1997.
Dr. Proceso Mejia, a City Health Officer of Angeles City, conducted an
autopsy on the remains of Conchita at half past noon on 06 September 1997.
The body showed discoloration on the face, neck, back and upper
extremities, contusion on the right side of the face and abrasions on her
right and left side of the neck, right elbow, right forearm and the palm. Dr.
Mejia concluded that at the time of his examination, Conchita must have
been dead for more than twelve, but not beyond twenty-four, hours. Dr. Mejia
did not find any abnormalities on the body of the victim and decided to send
the vital organs to the Medico-Legal Officer of the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) for toxicological and histopath examination.
Dr. Noel Minay, a medical specialist of the National Bureau of
Investigation, conducted a pathological examination on the vital organs
of Conchita, particularly, her brain, heart, lungs and pancreas. He concluded
that Conchita could have died of cardiac arrest, asphyxiation or ingestion of a
considerable amount of poisonous substance.
The case was referred for investigation to SPO2 Danilo Cruz of the
Angeles City Detective Group. After reading the initial report, SPO2 Cruz,
accompanied by SPO2 AlfredoQuiambao and a brother of Conchita, went
to Quizons house at 174 Isarog St., La Loma, Quezon City. Johnnys relatives
were not aware of his whereabouts but could only say that on the morning
of 06 September 1997, Johnny and his live-in partner Fe Coronel went
to Tondo, Manila. The trio decided to go to Fes house in Paraaque City,
arriving thereat at aroundten oclock in the evening. Fes mother told them
that Fe had left on 05 September 1997 and had not returned since. In the
course of their investigation, SPO2 Cruz interviewed one Rodolfo Cueva, a
mailman at the Angeles City Post Office, who told him that he (Cueva) went
to Conchitas office between two and two-thirty in the afternoon of 05
September 1997 to deliver an express mail. Cueva left when nobody would
open the door. Returning in the morning, he learned that the addressee was
already dead.
Johnny Quizon was arrested at his house in Quezon City by police
operatives a week after Conchitas burial.
The defense gave its version of the incident.

Nimfa Quizon married the father of Johnny Quizon in 1980, three years
following the death of his first wife, Imelda, a sister of Nimfa. Nimfa took care
of Johnny since he was barely five years old. On the evening of 04 September
1997, Nimfa asked
Johnny
to
go
and
visit
his
aunt Conchita in Angeles City whose television set needed repair. Johnny left
La Loma,Quezon City, at about ten oclock the following morning of 05
September 1997. He arrived in Angeles City between twelve-thirty and one
oclock in the afternoon. At the offices of Suarez Travel Services, he found his
aunt Conchita talking
with Roel Sicangco and Myla Miclat.
He
waited.
After Roel and Myla had left, Conchita told him that he could not work as yet
on the television set as she had a lot of other things to attend to first
in Manila. He asked Conchita if she wanted company but she told him to go
ahead as she still had to entertain a woman who just came in. He
left Conchitas office and saw Roel and Myla waiting for a passenger jeepney.
Johnny noticed a man on board a parked vehicle who was holding a clutch
bag. He saw the man enter his aunts office. Meanwhile, he boarded a
passenger jeepney and went to the terminal of the Philippine Rabbit bus line.
Johnny reached La Loma at four oclock in the afternoon. He
informed Nimfa that he was unable to repair Conchitas television set.
Between four-thirty and five oclock in the afternoon, Nimfa received a call
from Conchita who informed him that she sent Johnny home since she had
as yet a lot of paper work to do. The following morning, Nimfa was informed
of Conchitas death. Johnny was advised by Nimfanot to go to the wake
because Conchitas brothers suspected him of being responsible for the
killing of their sister. Johnny stayed at the house of his live-in partner and
came home only after the burial.

prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed


the crime (People vs. Lagao, Jr., 271 SCRA 51.)

In convicting Quizon of the crime with which he was indicted, the trial
court held:

5.
At around 2:00 oclock of that same afternoon, Rowena Abril, a
secretary of the law office adjacent to the Suarez office, heard three very
loud noises coming from the victims office. When Rowena went out after
around 25 minutes to buy something at a nearby store, she saw the accused
hurriedly leaving the said office. The accused hurriedly left for Manila that
same afternoon leaving the victim behind who was also in a hurry to go
to Manila to purchase the plane ticket of Myla Miclat.

The fact of death of victim Conchita Pasquin is beyond dispute. Her cadaver
was found in her bedroom wrapped with a white blanket. There was also a
contusion on the right side of the face and abrasions on the victims right
and left side of the neck, right elbow, right forearm and at the palm. Accused
likewise admitted that he went to the office of the victim in the afternoon
of September 5, 1997 and saw thereat Myla Miclat and Roel Sicangco who
left ahead of him.
xxx

xxx
xxx

Nobody actually saw how the victim was killed and how the robbery was
committed. The Prosecution is relying only on circumstantial evidence to
secure the conviction of the accused Johnny Quizon. Under our rules on
evidence, an accused can still be convicted even if no eyewitness is available
provided that enough circumstantial evidence has been established by the

xxx

xxx

xxx

No direct evidence was presented by the prosecution to establish the guilt of


the accused. We are constrained to consider the circumstantial evidence
introduced by the prosecution to determine whether the same would be
sufficient to convict the accused:
1.
Conchita Pasquin was a victim of foul play. There were contusions and
abrasions on the upper part of the body. The steel door of the office was left
open the whole night of the September 5 up to the early morning of
September 6, when the victims body was discovered. The light of the office
was also on and her body was wrapped in a white blanket when discovered.
Definitely she could not have died a natural death.
2.
The accused was at the victims office in the afternoon of September 5,
1997 when Myla Miclat gave the sum of P17,000.00 for the purchase of her
plane ticket in Manila.
3.
The
victim
was
in
a
hurry
to
leave
for Manila to
purchase Myla Miclats plane ticket. In fact, Myla Miclat was told by the
victim to return that evening to the office to get her ticket.
4.
When Myla Miclat and her boyfriend left the victims office, there were
no other person inside the office except the accused and the victim at
around 2:00 oclock in the afternoon.

6.
At around 2:00 oclock of that same afternoon, Rowena Abril heard
several knockings at the victims office but nobody opened the door.
7.
At around 10 minutes before 5:00 p.m., Rowena Abril went to the office
of the victim to return the magazine the victim lent to her earlier, but nobody
answered her, so she just left.
8.
Myla Miclat returned that evening at around 7:00 p.m. but nobody
opened the door of the victims office.

9.
On September 7, 1997, the body of the victim was brought to the
house of the accused but the latter never showed up during the entire wake
for the victim.

Appellant should be acquitted and released. The prosecution miserably


failed to meet the requirements of circumstantial evidence necessary for
conviction.

10. The police were not able to find him at his girlfriends house.

First. The trial court erred in accepting the testimony of Miclat that
appellant was the last person who was with the victim before she died. The
trial court similarly blundered in debunking the testimony of
both Sicangco and the appellant that after appellant had left the office, other
persons entered the victims office [TSN, January 7, 1999, pp. 8-10,
Testimony of Roel Sicangco; TSN, May 25, 1999, pp. 12-13, Testimony of
Johnny Quizon]. However, there was nothing in Miclats testimony that
directly refuted the testimony of Sicangco that there were other persons who
entered the office afterwards. Miclatdeclared that she did not see whether or
not the man with the collectors bag returned after they left the
office. Miclats testimony went:

11. The accused also did not attend the burial.


12. The alibi given by the accused for not attending the wake and the
burial of his aunt was that he was trying to avoid his uncles who were mad
at him because he was being suspected of killing his aunt. The accused was
arrested by the police at their house where the wake was held one week after
the burial hence, he was not really afraid of his uncles.
13. Instead of helping the police in solving the crime and apprehending the
killer of his aunt (as he claims to be innocent) the accused went into hiding
immediately after the killing.
14. The victim was not able to leave for Manila to buy the plane ticket
for Myla Miclat but the said amount of P17,000.00 for the plane ticket was
never recovered.
The abovecited circumstances clearly made an unbroken chain which leads
to one fair and reasonable conclusion which points to the accused, to the
exclusion of all others, as the perpetrator of the crime.
xxx

xxx
xxx

WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused Johnny Quizon is hereby


found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with
Homicide and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty ofreclusion perpetua.
Accused Johnny Quizon is further ordered to pay the heirs of Mrs. Marietta
Suarez the sum of P34,133.10 as actual damages and to pay the heirs
of Conchita M. Pasquin the amount of P50,000.00 as death indemnity. [2]
In his appeal to this Court, Johnny M. Quizon raised the lone
assignment of error that THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED- APPELLANT
GUILTY OF ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE WITHOUT HIS GUILT HAVING
BEEN PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.[3]
The Office of the Solicitor General, instead of filing an appellees brief,
submitted to the Court a well-ratiocinated manifestation and motion averring
that the existence of every bit of circumstantial evidence was not
satisfactorily established. The OSG maintained:

Q Im only concern [sic] with the better administration of justice.


I know that you want to cooperate so much by your testimony.
Now, you are supposed to be a star witness for the presence of
the accused in that office. My question is, you did not see the
accused doing anything to the victim, is that correct?
A

Yes, sir.

Q You did not also see whether that man with a collectors bag
went back or not in that office?
A

No sir.

Q But you know in every office it is usually visited by several


persons because of their papers or transaction?
A

Yes, sir.

Q And in that office it is usually visited by several persons


because of their papers or transaction?
A

Yes, sir. [TSN, September 9, 1998, pp. 17-18]

Sicangco, on the other hand, testified to the circumstances after they left
the travel agency, and whose declaration was never rebutted by Miclat. He
stated:
Q How do you know that Johnny Quizon arrived
oclock in the afternoon of September 5, 1997?
A

at 1:30

Dahil sa estimate ng pagdating namin sa office


at saka iyong interval.

Q When you left the office together with your live-in-partner,


where was Johnny Quizon then?

Noong papaalis na kami sa agency, tapos nakita ko si Johnny s


a may
funeral palabas at habang naghihintay kami ng jeep, nakita ko
siya sumakay ng jeep papuntang Dau, Mabalacat.

Q When you and your wife and Johnny Quizon left the premises,
were there still other persons inside the office besides that
man and his lady companion?
A

Noong palabas na kami sa agency, napansin ko si Johnny sa m


ay likuran.
At habang naghihintay kami ng jeep, nakita ko iyong babae at i
yong lalake pumasok sa travel agency.

Q Did you see Johnny Quizon ride on a jeep?


A

Yes, sir.

Q To what destination?
A

Dau, Mabalacat.

Q Before this Court your live-in-partner testified that when you


left the office, she did not notice that man and his lady
companion entering the office, what can you say about that?
Court:
Did she testify about a man and a woman?
Atty. Castillon [defense counsel]:
Yes, Your Honor, during my cross-examination.
Pros. Quiambao:
[for the government] What she testified was that when she left,
the only persons left in the office were the victim and
Johnny Quizon.
Atty. Castillon:
That is what she testified. And I am trying to find out from this
witness if that is true.
xxx

xxx
xxx

Atty. Castillon:
Because according to the witness, they came back and entered
the office.

Clearly, the prosecution could present only a witness who saw appellant in
the vicinity of the crime scene on the day the crime was committed. If the
testimony of Sicangco is suspect as being tainted with pity for a fellowinmate, it is to be noted that Sicangco likewise freely admitted of his love
for Miclat [TSN, January 7, 1999, p. 23]. Miclat, on the other hand,
categorically declared that she did not know whether other persons entered
the office afterwards. As against Miclat, a former live-in-lover, and appellant,
a mere fellow-inmate, Sicangcos sympathy for appellant exceeded his love
for Miclat because he did not want an innocent person to suffer for a crime
he
did
not
commit
[Ako nagtetestigo ako para matulungan si Johnny. Basta ako gusto kong tulun
gan si Johnny dahil napakahirap nang maparusahan nghindi mo naman gina
wa. [TSN, January 7, 1999, p. 13]
That appellant was the last person seen with the victim on the day she died
does not necessarily prove that he killed her. It was not established that
appellant and the victim were together until the crime was committed. It was
not even shown that appellant was the only one who was with the victim
before
she
died.
The
travel
agency
was
already
opened
when Miclat, Sicangco and appellant came. There were several persons there
even before Miclat and company arrived. The prosecution has not completely
discounted the possibility that there were other persons who transacted
business with the victim whenMiclat and appellant left, considering that the
travel agency is a place of business that caters to several clients. There was
an eyewitness, Sicangco, who declared that at least two persons came after
appellant left the office [TSN, January 7, 1999, pp. 8-10]. Even the secretary
of the neighboring law firm, prosecution witness Abril, testified that there
were several persons who were knocking at the door of the victims office
after appellant left (TSN, May 6, 1998, p. 13).
True, a person may be convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence; but
the proven circumstances should inexorably lead to one fair and reasonable
conclusion pointing to the accused as the guilty person, to the exclusion of
all others. Where the evidence presented admits of other conclusions, the
accused must be acquitted. Only if the judge below could arrive at a
conclusion that the crime had been committed precisely by the person on
trial under such an exacting test should the sentence be one of conviction. It
is thus required that every circumstance favoring his innocence be duly
taken into account. The proof against him must survive the test of reason;
the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment. The
conscience must be satisfied that on the defendant is laid the responsibility
for the offense charged; that not only did he perpetrate the act but that it
amounted to a crime. What is required then is moral certainty. It is critical
that the moral force of the criminal law be not diluted by a standard of proof
that leaves people in doubt whether innocent men are being condemned. It is

important in our free society that every individual going about his ordinary
affairs has confidence that his government cannot adjudge him guilty of a
criminal offense without convincing a proper factfinder of his guilt with
utmost certainty [People v. Garcia, 215 SCRA 349 (1992); People v. Andag, 96
SCRA 861 (1980); People v. Benamira, 277 SCRA 232 (1997)].
A much graver set of inculpatory circumstantial evidence against the
accused were present in People v. Mijares, [297 SCRA 520 (1998)]. Despite
that, the accused was acquitted. A seven-year old playmate testified seeing
accused Mijares as the last person who was with the victim the night the
victim was killed. The victim, a girl of tender age, was found dead. The two
most damning circumstances crucial to the prosecutions case were that 1]
appellant was the last person seen with the victim; and 2] his slippers were
found at the crime scene. This Honorable Court ruled that these
circumstances are subject to two antithetical interpretations, one of guilt and
the other of innocence. This case even cited two analogous cases which fall
squarely with the case at bar, viz:
In People v. Ragon, the trial court convicted appellant of murder, based on
these circumstances: he and his companions were the last persons seen with
the victim, and the cap worn by Ragons companion was found beside the
victims dead body. x x x However, this Court found that the circumstantial
evidence presented did not conclusively point to Ragon as the perpetrator of
the murder. The presence of the cap of Ragons companion beside the dead
body only proved that said person, not necessarily Ragon himself, was at the
locus criminis. That such cap was found in the vicinity of the crime scene did
not necessarily imply that the accused killed the victim.
In People v. Binamira, the trial court convicted the accused based on the
following pieces of circumstantial evidence: (1) he was accosted by security
guards near the crime scene; (2) he was walking suspiciously fast; (3)
bloodied clothes were allegedly recovered from him. Appellant therein was
acquitted because the evidence, in view of the constitutional presumption of
innocence, has not fulfilled the test of moral certainty and was thus
insufficient to support a conviction. Indeed, this Court has ruled that a
person cannot be held liable for the killing, unless all the proven
circumstances point to his guilt.
The case of People v. Boneo [174 SCRA 612 (1989)] recounts a fisherman
who was last seen alive with the Boneo brothers. He accompanied the
brothers out to sea late at night to get an animal he was supposed to buy
from the other side of the shore. He was found dead and the P3,000.00 he
was carrying gone. The Supreme Court waxed poetic when it declared - This
rule must be observed with more rigor where the evidence of the prosecution
is merely circumstantial, as in the case at bar. While this is not to say that
this kind of evidence will never be sufficient to convict, it does mean that it

must be especially persuasive if it is to still, as it must, every whisper of


doubt that the accused is not innocent. Absent conclusive proof of his guilt,
the prisoner must be released and purged of all the stigma of the charge
upon his head.
In People v. Garcia, [215 SCRA 349 (1992)], this Honorable Court lauded the
OSG for utmost objectivity and fairness by acquitting the accused because
the only circumstance that can be appreciated against him was that the
prosecution witness saw him standing near the banana plants about fifteen
meters away from the house of the victim minutes before the discovery of the
deceased.
Similar circumstances did not merit a conviction, as in People v.
Nicolas, [204 SCRA 191 (1991)], where the accused was present at the store
where the victim was killed and with him was found part of the stolen money
as well as bloodied pants. In People v. Geron [281 SCRA 36 (1997)], the string
of circumstances which the trial court relied upon for conviction consisted of
the presence of the accused at the crime scene; he had in his possession
articles belonging to the victims at the time he was apprehended; and the
accused fled from the crime scene. This Honorable Court held that the above
circumstances point to no inference exclusively consistent with the guilt of
the accused. It explained that: First, the mere presence of the accused at
the locus criminis and his possession of certain items belonging to the
victims, while it may have pointed the finger of suspicion at him, cannot be
solely interpreted to mean that he has committed the robbery and the
attendant killings. (at p. 47)
Second. The trial court was unable to cite any particular circumstance at
all to show that appellant in the case at bar had a motive to commit the
crime.
There is absolutely no motive for appellant to rob or kill the victim.
Noteworthy is the testimony of the sister of the deceased, Nimfa Quizon, who
testified in appellants favor. Appellant is not her own son, but her nephew
[TSN, February 24, 1999, p. 3]. Further, Miclat herself heard from the victim
that she had been the one responsible for the appellants rehabilitation
[TSN, September 9, 1998, p. 8]. It goes against the grain of human
experience for a sister to prevaricate on the true identity of the killer of her
own blood-sister just to hide the guilt of a nephew.
Lest it be forgotten, the Constitution mandates that the accused must be
presumed innocent. Hence, if the circumstances are capable of several
interpretations, one of which is consistent with the innocence of the accused
and the others consistent with his guilt, then the evidence has not fulfilled
the test of moral certainty and is thus insufficient to support a conviction
[People v. Mijares, 297 SCRA 520 (1998)].

Third. The trial court considered appellants failure to attend the funeral
rites of the victim as a sign of guilt. This is not so [People v. Andag, supra;
People v. Mijares, supra]. Appellant and the sister of the victim testified that
the brothers of the victim, uncles of the appellant, strongly suspected him as
the killer. He simply followed the order of his step-mother, his
aunt Nimfa Quizon, to avoid attending the wake and the burial to avoid any
mishap that might occur because of the supposition that he was the killer.
Fourth. The trial court faults him for not clearing his name upon notice
that he was a suspect and that he went into hiding, citing that the wicked
man flees though no one pursues. Unfortunately, no such flight could be
ascribed to the appellant. The trial court lost sight of the fact that appellant
was not a resident of Angeles City, and that he stayed in the house of his
father in La Loma, Quezon City to do some odd jobs and at the house of his
girlfriend in Paraaque [TSN, May 25, 1999, p. 11]. Flight, in order to be
considered as an indication of guilt, presupposes that a person escapes from
the authorities to evade prosecution. It does not contemplate a situation
where the accused returns to his home where at any time, he may be picked
up for questioning in connection with or arrested for having committed a
crime. Flight, when adequately explained, cannot be attributed to ones
consciousness of guilt. Appellant presented an unrebutted explanation that
he fled, not because of guilt for having perpetrated a crime, but rather for
fear of his own relatives reprisal as the primary suspect in the killing of his
own aunt. [People v. Garcia, 215 SCRA 349 (1992)]; People v. Geron, 281
SCRA 36 (1997)]; People v. Mijares, 297 SCRA 520 (1998)].
Fifth. The Courts acceptance of various details as to the irregularity and
strangeness of appellants actions as constitutive of his guilt like appellants
hurried leaving of the premises, his leaving the victim behind when both of
them were going to Manila, and his alleged lack of cooperation with the police
in searching for the true criminal, is premised on a precarious foothold.
Likewise, there is no testimony as to the death of the victim, but only a
general medico-legal explanation that the strangulation of the victim
hastened the victims heart and lung disease. There is no evidence of
fingerprints, hair and skin samples on the deceased that might lead to the
identity of the killer. The rope or cloth or blanket that was supposed to have
strangled the victim was not presented. There was no testimony that the
belongings of the victim were in disarray to show struggle during the crime.
The prosecution was unable to present evidence as to how the victim died.
The alleged P17,000.00 paid to victim and the pieces of jewelry lost were
never presented in court, much less were they found on the appellant.
As the saying goes: The sea of suspicion has no shore, and the court that
embarks upon it is without rudder or compass. [People v. Geron, 281 SCRA
36 (1997)]. No court, when confronted with issues that affect the life and

liberty of citizens in a free society, should treat flippantly the latters


constitutional guarantees and supply deficiencies in the evidence for the
prosecution with its own bias, suspicion or speculation [People v. Garcia, 215
SCRA 349 (1992)].[4]
The OSG thus prayed:
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the Decision of the Regional
Trial Court in Angeles City, dated March 27, 2000, in Criminal Case No. 97893 be REVERSED AND SET ASIDE and accused-appellant JOHNNY M.
QUIZON be ACQUITTED.[5]
The Court upholds the recommendation of the Solicitor General.
Section 4, Rule 133, of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure
provides:
Section 4. Circumstantial evidence, when sufficient. -Circumstantial evidence
is sufficient for conviction if:
(a)

There is more than one circumstance;

(b)

The facts from which the inferences are derived are


proven; and

(c)

The combination of all the circumstances is such as


to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

The foregoing elements must all be obtaining in order to aptly warrant the
conviction of an accused. The circumstances proved must be congruous with
each other, consistent with the hypothesis that the accused is guilty and
inconsistent with any other hypothesis except that of guilt. [6] It must be
shown (a) that there is more than one circumstance and the facts from which
the inferences are derived have been firmly established and (b) that the
combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction
beyond reasonable doubt. The Court has once said:
x x x. Like a tapestry made of strands which create a pattern when
interwoven, a judgment of conviction based on circumstantial evidence can
be upheld only if the circumstances proved constitute an unbroken chain
which leads to one fair and reasonable conclusion pointing to the accused, to
the exclusion of all others, as the guilty person.[7]
Evidently, Conchita Magpantay Pasquin was a victim of foul play. The
circumstances recited by the trial court, however, would be insufficient to
create in the mind of the Court a moral certainty that appellant was the one
responsible for the commission of the crime. Appellants mere presence at
the locus criminis would be inadequate to implicate him [8] in the commission
of the crime. No evidence was adduced that appellant was the last person to
see or talk to the victim before she was killed. Roel Sicangco testified that

when he and Mylaarrived at Conchitas office, the latter had just finished
talking
to
a
woman
and
a
man
with
a
collectors
bag.
After Roel and Myla finished their transaction with Conchita, the same man
and
woman,
whom
they
saw
earlier,
again
entered Conchitas office. Roel testified that he saw Johnny come out of the
office and board a passenger jeepney going to Dau, Mabalacat,Pampanga.
The prosecution failed to show that Sicangco had any good reason to lie.
Even while the trial court had observed that Conchitas jewelry and money
were never found, no evidence was introduced that appellant had them, or
that he had them in his possession at anytime after Conchitas death. The
trial court found it strange that appellant did not wait forConchita when the
latter said that she was also leaving for Manila. Appellant said that he did
offer to wait for Conchita but she told him to go ahead as she still had some
other work to attend to.

Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.

DATALIFT MOVERS, INC. and/or JAIME B. AQUINO,

G.R.

Petitioners,

Prese

PU

SA

The fact that appellant did not attend Conchitas wake is not an
indication of either flight or guilt. Nimfa Quizon would appear to have warned
appellant against going to the wake after he earned the ire of their relatives
who had suspected him to be the killer.

CO

AZ

- versus -

GA

Significantly, no ill-motive was ascribed on appellant to either kill or rob


his own aunt.
The circumstances recited by the trial court might be enough to create
some kind of suspicion on the part of the trial court of appellants
involvement, but suspicion is not enough to warrant conviction. A finding of
guilt based on conjecture, even if likely, cannot satisfy the need for evidence
required for a pronouncement of guilt, i.e., proof beyond reasonable doubt of
the complicity in the crime.[9] No matter how weak the defense is, it is still
imperative for the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt. The evidence for the prosecution, it has been said, must at
all times stand or fall on its own weight and it cannot be allowed to draw
strength from the weakness of the defense. [10] An accused has the right to be
presumed innocent, and this presumption prevails until and unless it is
overturned by competent and credible evidence proving his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.[11] In case of any reservation against the guilt of accused,
the Court should entertain no other alternative but to acquit him.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of finding
appellant JOHNNY M. QUIZON guilty of robbery with homicide is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE, and he is ACQUITTED of the crime charged. The Court
further orders appellants immediate release from custody, unless he is
lawfully held for another lawful cause.
The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is directed to implement this
Decision immediately and to report to this Court the action taken hereon not
later than five (5) days from receipt hereof.

Prom

Augu
BELGRAVIA REALTY & DEVELOPMENT
SAMPAGUITA BROKERAGE, INC.

CORPORATION

and

Respondents.
x-----------------------------------------------x

DECISION

GARCIA, J.:

In an action for ejectment filed by Sampaguita Brokerage, Inc. and


its sister company, Belgravia Realty & Development Corporation, against the
herein petitioners Datalift Movers, Inc. and/or Jaime B. Aquino, the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), of Manila, Branch 3, later the Regional Trial

Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 36, and eventually the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-G.R. SP No. 52189 are one in ordering the petitioners ejectment from
the premises involved in the suit and their payment of unpaid rentals,
attorneys fees and costs. Undaunted, the petitioners have come to this
Court via this petition for review with application for a temporary restraining
order and/or preliminary injunction to seek the reversal of the affirmatory
decision of the CA, including those of the courts below it.

We likewise AFFIRM, but first the facts:

The premises involved in this case is a warehouse (bodega) used by


petitioner Datalift Movers, Inc. (Datalift for short) for its cargoes in
connection with its brokerage business. The warehouse stands on a
3,967.70 squaremeter lot owned by the Philippine National Railways (PNR)
and located at No. 883 Santibaez Street corner Cristobal Street,
Pandacan, Manila.

Sometime in 1987, PNR leased out the lot to Sampaguita Brokerage,


Inc. (Sampaguita, hereafter), pursuant to a written contract commencing on
July 1, 1987 and terminating on June 30, 1990 for a monthly rental
of P6,282.49, subject to a ten (10%) percent increase every year.

Sampaguita thereafter entered into a special arrangement with its


sister company, Belgravia Realty & Development Corporation (Belgravia for
short) whereby the latter would put up on the lot a warehouse for its own
use. True enough, Belgravia did put up a warehouse occupying an area of
about 3,000 squaremeters of the lot. However, instead of using the said
warehouse for itself, Belgravia sublet it to petitioner Datalift, represented by
its president Jaime B. Aquino, pursuant to a 1-year written contract of
lease[1] dated October 2, 1990, commencing on October 5, 1990 and ending
on October 5, 1991, subject to extension upon mutual agreement by the
parties. By the terms of lease, Datalift shall pay Belgravia a monthly rental
of P40,000.00 payable on or before the 15th day of each month, provided an
advance rental for two (2) months is paid upon execution of the contract.

After the one year contract period expired, lessee Datalift continued
in possession and enjoyment of the leased warehouse, evidently
by acquiesance of lessor Belgraviaor by verbal understanding of the parties.
Subsequently, Belgravia unilaterally
increased
the
monthly
rental

to P60,000.00 starting June 1994 to October 1994. Monthly rental was


again increased from P60,000.00 to P130,000.00 beginning November 1994
onwards, allegedly in view of the increased rental demanded by PNR
on Sampaguita for the latters lease of the formers lot whereon the
warehouse in question stands. Because of the rental increase made
by Belgravia, Datalift stopped
paying
its
monthly
rental
for
the
warehouse. Thereafter, Sampaguita addressed
demand
letters
to Datalift asking the latter to pay its rental in arrears in the amount
of P4,120,000.00 and to vacate and surrender the warehouse in
dispute. The
demands
having
proved
futile, Belgravia and/or Sampaguita filed with the MeTC of Manila their
complaint[2] for ejectment againstDatalift and/or its controlling stockholder,
Jaime B. Aquino.

In their Answer with Counterclaim,[3] the defendants interposed the


following defenses:

1)

Sampaguita has no cause of action against them, not


being
a
party nor privy
to
the DataliftBelgravia contract of lease;

2)

Under the PNR-Sampaguita contract of lease over the


PNR lot, Sampaguita is prohibited from subleasing
the property;

3)

The same PNR-Sampaguita contract had allegedly


expired;

4)

Lessor Belgravia likewise has no cause of action


because it was neither the owner nor lessee of the lot
whereon the warehouse stands.

By way of counterclaim, defendants Datalift and Aquino prayed for


the refund by Belgravia of the rentals they paid during the entire period of
their lease of the warehouse, plus exemplary damages and litigation
expenses.

In a decision[4] dated October 16, 1997, the MeTC of Manila, Branch


3, rendered judgment for plaintiffs Sampaguita and Belgravia but reduced
the amount of rental arrearages to a reasonable level of P80,000,00 a month,
saying:

Upon the other hand, this Court is not persuaded or


inclined to favor the very substantial increase in the amount
demanded
by Sampaguita and/or Belgravia upon Datalift,
fromP60,000.00 to P130,000.00 per month. Such increase
is arbitrary, highly unconscionable and beyond the ambit of
equity and justice considering that the original agreed rental
on the premises in 1990 was only P45,000.00 per month,
the latter increase to P60,000.00 per month. The unilateral
increase
of P70,000.00 making
the
monthly
rental P130,000.00 effective June, 1994, is, as earlier said,
beyond the conscience of man. Belgravia would be guilty
likewise, of unjust enrichment.

The increase in rental for P60,000.00 per month


to P80,000.00 per month, following the trend in the amount
of increase during the previous years would, to the mind of
the Court be reasonable and justified. Thus, the rental in
arrears due and demandable upon defendants would
be P20,000.00 per month from June, 1994 to October, 1994,
defendants having paid alreadyP60,000.00 per month during
the five (5) months period, the P80,000.00 per month from
November, 1994 to the present.

and surrender peacefully to plaintiffs that


warehouse and the area/premises occupied
by
them
located
at No.
883 Santibaez Street corner Cristobal Stree
t, Pandacan, City of Manila;

2)
Ordering defendants to pay
plaintiff Belgravia the
difference
of P20,000.00 from what had been already
paid of P60,000.00 per month for the
months of June, 1994 to October, 1994 or a
total of P100,000.00; and the unpaid rentals
at P80,000.00 per month from November,
1994 to the present and until defendants
vacate and surrender the warehouse and
premises subject of this litigation;

3)
Ordering defendants to pay
plaintiff P30,000.00 for and as attorneys
fees and expenses of litigation, and

4)
In the same decision, the MeTC rejected the defendants challenge
against Belgravias title over the PNR lot occupied by the subject warehouse.

To pay the cost of suit.

SO ORDERED.

More particularly, the MeTC decision dispositively reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered,


the Court finds and so hold that plaintiffs
have proven their case against defendants by
preponderance of evidence sufficient to
grant what is prayed for in their Complaint
with certain modification and hereby
renders judgment:

1)
Ordering defendants and all
persons, natural or juridical, claiming
rights, interest or title under them, to vacate

Obviously dissatisfied, both parties appealed to the RTC whereat the


appeal was raffled to Branch 36 thereof. In their appeal, Datalift and its codefendant Jaime B.Aquino questioned the MeTCs finding that there was an
implied new lease between PNR and Sampaquita on the lot on which the
warehouse in question stands, and accordingly fault the same court for
ordering them to vacate the same warehouse and to pay rentals as well as
attorneys fees and litigation expenses.

For their part, Sampaguita and Belgravia assailed the MeTC decision
for
not
ordering Datalift and Aquino to
pay
the
increase
rental
of P130,000.00 a month beginning June 1994, and for not ruling that both

defendants are jointly and subsidiary liable for the amounts awarded to
them.

In a decision[5] dated March 11, 1999, the RTC, reechoing


the MeTCs ruling on the authority of Sampaguita and Belgravia to institute
the complaint for ejectment as well as the same courts finding as to the
reasonable amount of rental in arrears due Belgravia, affirmed in toto the
assailed MeTC decision, thus:

XXX IN HOLDING THAT AN IMPLIED NEW LEASE WAS


CREATED BETWEEN PNR AND RESPONDENTS (i.e.
SAMPAGUITA and BELGRAVIA) WHEN THE FORMER DID
NOT TAKE POSITIVE ACTION TO EJECT THE LATTER
FROM THE SUBJECT PREMISES.

XXX IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS HAVE NO


PERSONALITY TO QUESTION WHETHER AN IMPLIED NEW
LEASE WAS CREATED BETWEEN PNR AND THE
RESPONDENTS.

In the light of the foregoing, the assailed decision


of MeTC of Manila, Branch 3 is affirmed in toto.
The petition lacks merit.

SO ORDERED.

This
time,
only Datalift and
its
co-petitioner
B. Aquino elevated the case to the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 52189.

Jaime

Again, in a decision[6] dated August 4, 2000, the CA dismissed the


petitioners recourse thereto and affirmed with slight modification the
challenged affirmatory decision of the RTC, to wit:

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED and the


decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 36, Manila,
dated March 11, 1999, affirming in toto the decision of the
Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 3, is hereby AFFIRMED,
except that the award of P30,000.00 as attorneys fees
is DELETED.

SO ORDERED.

Still unable to accept the adverse decisions of the three (3) courts
below, the petitioners are now with this Court via this petition for review on
their submission that the CA erred:

Petitioners first fault the CA for affirming the RTC and


the MeTC which ruled that the subject warehouse and the land and area
which it occupies rightfully belong to respondent Belgravia, not Datalift, for
an implied new lease was created between PNR, the acknowledged owner of
the lot, and Sampaguita, Belgravia's sister company, which, by virtue of a
special arrangement, Sampaguita allowed Belgravia to construct a warehouse
on the leased lot and sub-leased the same to Datalift.

At first glance, the petitioners' argument may appear to have some


merit, but it is still insufficient to warrant a reversal of the CA decision.

Relative to the first argument, the CA decision pertinently reads:

There is no definite showing that the lease contract


between PNR and Sampaguita Brokerage, Inc. had been
effectively terminated. As held by the court a quo: (B)y
PNR not taking a positive action to eject Sampaguita from
the leased premises up to the present, again, there is a tacit
renewal of the lease contract between PNR and Sampaguita.
(Emphasis in the original.)

The Rules of Court already sufficiently shields respondent Belgravia,


as lessor, from being questioned by the petitioners as lessees, regarding its
title or better right of possession as lessor because having admitted the
existence of a lessor-lessee relationship, the petitioners are barred from
assailing Belgravia's title of better right of possession as their lessor.

Section 2, Rule 131, of the Rules of Court provides:

SEC. 2. Conclusive presumptions. -- The following are


instances of conclusive presumptions:

(a)
Whenever a party has, by his own
declaration, act, or omission, intentionally and deliberately
led another to believe a particular thing true, and to act
upon such belief, he cannot, in any litigation arising out of
such declaration, act or omission, be permitted to falsify it;

(b)
The tenant is not permitted to deny the
title of his landlord at the time of the commencement of
the
relation
of
landlord
and
tenant
between
them. (Underscoring ours.)

Conclusive presumptions have been defined as inferences which the


law makes so peremptory that it will not allow them to be overturned by any
contrary proof however strong.[7] As long as the lessor-lessee relationship
between the petitioners and Belgravia exists as in this case, the former, as
lessees, cannot by any proof, however strong, overturn the conclusive
presumption that Belgravia has valid title to or better right of possession to
the subject leased premises than they have.

It was superfluous on the part of the MeTC to rule on the source or


validity of Belgravia's title or right of possession over the leased premises as
against the petitioners as lessees in this case. If at all, Belgravia's title or
right of possession should only be taken cognizance of in a proper case
between PNR and Belgravia, but not in the present case. Any ruling which
the court may render on this issue will, at the very least, be an obiter dictum,
if not outrightly ultra vires.

The apparent error made by the MeTC will, however, not affect
the result of the judgment rendered in this case. In fact, the application
of the rule on conclusive presumption under the afore-quoted Section 2,
Rule 131 strengthens the position of the MeTC that the petitioners
may be validly ordered to vacate the leased premises for nonpayment of
rentals. Likewise, the logical consequence of the operation of this conclusive
presumption against the petitioners is that they will never have the
personality to question whether an implied new lease was created between
PNR and the respondents, because so long as there is no showing that
the lessor-lessee relationship has terminated, the lessors title or better right
of possession as against the lessee will eternally be a non-issue in any
proceeding before any court.

Additionally, as correctly pointed out by the CA, being non-privies to


the contract of lease between PNR and respondent Sampaguita,
the petitioners have no personality to raise any factual or legal issue relating
thereto.

Despite non-merit of petitioners' arguments, and notwithstanding


the petitioners' failure to assail the accuracy of the dates when the increase
of rental from P60,000.00to P130,000.00 was effected, in the interest of
justice, the Court shall correct this plain error, and adjust the rental due in
accordance with the facts as borne by the evidence on record. The Court
readily noticed that the MeTC decision erroneously reckoned the effective
date of the increased rental of P130,000.00 from June 1994 instead of the
correct date of November 1994, which shall cause an overpayment
of P100,000.00 by the petitioners. It is clear from the records that the rental
due and demandable, and which the petitioners already paid to
respondent Belgravia from
June
1994
to
October
1994
was
only P60,000.00. It was only when Belgravia drastically increased the
monthly rental from P60,000.00 to P130,000.00, effective November 1994,
that the petitioners altogether stopped paying rentals. Thus, the order to pay
unpaid rentals in the adjusted amount of P80,000.00 should be reckoned
only from November 1994 until the time that the petitioners finally vacate
the premises. There are no unpaid differentials ofP20,000.00/month due
from June 1994 to October 1994.

WHEREFORE, the
assailed
Decision
of
the
CA
is
hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the petitioners are ordered

to pay only the unpaid rentals from November 1994 in the amount
of P80,000.00 until they vacate the leased premises.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.