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REVENUE, Respondent.
G.R. No. 210836, September 01, 2015
Taxation, Tax Refund, Tax Credit
The phrase which are by law exempt from direct and indirect taxes describes the entities
to whom the petroleum products must be sold in order to render the exemption operative. Section
135(c) should thus be construed as an exemption in favor of the petroleum products on which the
excise tax was levied in the first place. The exemption cannot be granted to the buyers - that is,
the entities that are by law exempt from direct and indirect taxes - because they are not under any
legal duty to pay the excise tax.
It is noteworthy that excise taxes are considered as a kind of indirect tax, the liability for
the payment of which may fall on a person other than whoever actually bears the burden of the
tax.23 Simply put, the statutory taxpayer may shift the economic burden of the excise tax
payment to another - usually the buyer.
In cases involving excise tax exemptions on petroleum products under Section 135 of the
NIRC, the Court has consistently held that it is the statutory taxpayer, not the party who only
bears the economic burden, who is entitled to claim the tax refund or tax credit. But the Court
has also made clear that this rule does not apply where the law grants the party to whom the
economic burden of the tax is shifted by virtue of an exemption from both direct and indirect
taxes. In which case, such party must be allowed to claim the tax refund or tax credit even if it is
not considered as the statutory taxpayer under the law.
Dissenting Opinion
J. Del Castillo, Leonen
More important, the prospect of declining sales of aviation jet fuel sold to international
carriers on account of the unwillingness of major domestic oil companies to shoulder the burden
of excise tax, which in a way encourages "tankering," hinges on speculation. Neither is it a legal
justification to grant manufacturers a refund or credit of the excise taxes paid on petroleum
products sold to international carriers.
It bears stressing that tax refunds, just like tax exemptions must not rest on vague,
uncertain or indefinite inference but should be granted only by a clear and unequivocal provision
of law on the basis of language too plain to be mistaken, as taxes are the lifeblood of the
government.52 Thus, unless there is a clear grant of tax exemption or refund in the law, the Court
cannot grant petitioner's claim for tax refund or credit as this would constitute judicial
legislation, which is not allowed.
Notably, Section 135 of the NIRC is not a refund provision as it does not provide for a
tax refund in favor of the buyers, i.e., international carriers and tax-exempt entities, and the
sellers of petroleum products. Thus, there is no legal basis to grant petitioner's claim for tax

Besides, if the lawmakers intended to allow manufacturers, sellers, and importers to

claim a refund of excise taxes paid on petroleum products sold to international carriers and taxexempt entities under Section 135 of the NIRC, they would have expressly provided for it, just
like in Section 130(D) of the same Code, which categorically allows the refund or credit of
excise taxes paid on goods which are locally produced or manufactured and subsequently
exported. Obviously, the absence of a tax refund provision in the NIRC in favor of these
manufacturers, sellers, and importers of petroleum products only proves that the lawmakers
never intended to grant such kind of refund.
And as the Court in its April 25, 2012 Decision in Pilipinas Shell54 has previously said,
"the tax exemption being enjoyed by the buyer cannot be the basis of a claim for exemption by
the manufacturer, seller, or importer."55Thus, petitioner cannot use this provision to claim an
exemption from the payment of excise tax.
An excise tax, as we have often said, is an indirect tax wherein the tax liability falls on
one person but the burden thereof can be shifted or passed on to another person, such as the
consumer.57 Thus, pursuant to Section 135 of the NIRC, manufacturers, sellers, and importers
have no choice but to shoulder the burden of the excise tax as their buyers, the international
carriers and the tax-exempt entities under the said provision, are exempt from paying excise tax
on petroleum products.
As we have consistently ruled, interpretations placed upon a statute by the executive
officers, whose duty is to enforce it, are not conclusive and will be ignored if judicially found to
be erroneous as the courts will not countenance administrative issuances that override, instead of
remaining consistent and in harmony with, the law they seek to apply and implement.
to be clear, Section 135 of the NIRC, upon which petitioner anchors its claim, is not a tax
refund provision nor is it a tax exemption in favor of manufacturers, sellers, and importers of
petroleum products. Rather, it is a tax exemption for excise tax on petroleum products in favor of
the international carriers and the tax-exempt entities under the said provision. It is a prohibition
preventing manufacturers, sellers, and importers from shifting or passing on the excise taxes paid
on the petroleum products they sold to their buyers, the entities enumerated in the said provision


A.C. No. 7073, September 01, 2015

Legal Ethics, Notarial Practice

One of the obligations of a notary public is to authenticate documents acknowledged

before him, certifying the truth thereof under his seal of office. When acknowledging a
document, it is required that the person who signed or executed the same, appears in
person before the notary public and represents to the latter that the signature on the document
was voluntarily affixed by him for the purposes stated in the document, declaring the same as his
free and voluntary act and deed. Thereafter, the notary public affixes his notarial seal on the
instrument which certifies the due execution of the document, and resultantly, converts a private
document into a public document which on its face, is entitled to full faith and credit.

In the discharge of his powers and duties, the notary public's certification is one
impressed with public interest, accuracy and fidelity18 such that he owes it to the public to
notarize only when the person who signs the document is the same person who executed it and
personally appeared before him to attest to his knowledge of the contents stated therein. Thus,
the Court has repeatedly emphasized the necessity of an affiant's personal appearance and makes
the failure to observe such rule punishable.
Notarization is not an empty, meaningless, or routinary act. It is impressed with
substantial public interest, and only those who are qualified or authorized may act as such. It is
not a purposeless ministerial act of acknowledging documents executed by parties who are
willing to pay fees for notarization. Moreover, notarization of a private document, such as an
SPA in this case, converts the document into a public one which, on its face, is given full faith
and credit.
The Court has ruled that a notary public who fails to discharge his duties as such is meted
out the following penalties: (7) revocation of notarial commission; (2) disqualification from
being commissioned as notary public; and (3) suspension from the practice of law - the terms of
which vary based on the circumstances of each case. In this case, while the IBP Commissioner
found the absence of bad faith and considered Atty. Gasmen as a first time offender, the Court
finds that the penalties of disqualification from being commissioned as notary public for a period
of two (2) years and suspension from the practice of law for one (1) year are proper.
A.C. NO. 10525
September 01, 2015

Legal Ethics, Deceitful Conduct of a Lawyer; Lawyers Signature on the Pleading



A counsel's signature on a pleading is neither an empty formality nor even a mere means
for identification. Through his or her signature, a party's counsel makes a positive declaration. In
certifying through his or her signature that he or she has read the pleading, that there is ground to
support it, and that it is not interposed for delay, a lawyer asserts his or her competence,
credibility, and ethics. Signing a pleading is such a solemn component of legal practice that this
court has taken occasion to decry the delegation of this task to non-lawyers as a violation of the
Code of Professional Responsibility

A counsel's signature is such an integral part of a pleading that failure to comply with this
requirement reduces a pleading to a mere scrap of paper totally bereft of legal effect. Thus,
faithful compliance with this requirement is not only a matter of satisfying a duty to a court but is
as much a matter of fidelity to one's client. A deficiency in this respect can be fatal to a client's
The inclusion of a counsel's Roll of Attorneys number, professional tax receipt number,
and Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) receipt (or lifetime membership) number is intended
to preserve and protect the integrity of legal practice. They seek to ensure that only those who
have satisfied the requisites for legal practice are able to engage in it. With the Roll of Attorneys
number, parties can readily verify if a person purporting to be a lawyer has, in fact, been
admitted to the Philippine bar.45 With the professional tax receipt number, they can verify if the
same person is qualified to engage in a profession in the place where he or she principally
discharges his or her functions. With the IBP receipt number, they can ascertain if the same
person remains in good standing as a lawyer.
Paying professional taxes (and the receipt that proves this payment) is likewise
compliance with a revenue mechanism that has been statutorily devolved to local government
The inclusion of information regarding compliance with (or exemption from) Mandatory
Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) seeks to ensure that legal practice is reserved only for
those who have complied with the recognized mechanism for "keep[ing] abreast with law and
jurisprudence, maintaining] the ethics of the profession[,] and enhancing] the standards of the
practice of law.
Lastly, the inclusion of a counsel's address and contact details is designed to facilitate the
dispensation of justice. These pieces of information aid in the service of court processes, enhance
compliance with the requisites of due process, and facilitate better representation of a client's
These requirements are not mere frivolities. They are not mere markings on a piece of
paper. To willfully disregard them is, thus, to willfully disregard mechanisms put in place to
facilitate integrity, competence, and credibility in legal practice; it is to betray apathy for the
ideals of the legal profession and demonstrates how one is wanting of the standards for

admission to and continuing inclusion in the bar. Worse, to not only willfully disregard them but
to feign compliance only, in truth, to make a mockery of them reveals a dire, wretched, and utter
lack of respect for the profession that one brandishes.
It is unsettling that respondent engaged in the mockery and ridicule that he did of the very
same badgeshis place in the Roll of Attorneys, his membership in the Integrated Bar, his
recognition as a practicing professional, his continuing training and competencethat are
emblematic of his being a lawyer. Seeing as how he manifested such contempt for these badges,
we find that there is every reason for preventing him, at least temporarily, from engaging in the
profession these badges signify.
G.R. No. 216572, September 01, 2015

Political Law; Election Laws

Remedial Law; COMELEC Rules of Procedure
the COMELEC en banc is first required to rehear the case or matter that it cannot decide or
resolve by the necessary majority. When a majority still cannot be had after the rehearing,
however, there results a failure to decide on the part of the COMELEC en banc. The provision
If the action or proceeding is originally commenced in the COMELEC, such action or
proceeding shall be dismissed;
In appealed cases, the judgment or order appealed from shall stand affirmed; or
In incidental matters, the petition or motion shall be denied.
As can be gleaned above, the effects of the COMELEC en banc's failure to decide vary
depending on the type of case or matter that is before the commission. Thus, under the provision,
the first effect (i.e., the dismissal of the action or proceeding) only applies when the type of case
before the COMELEC is an action or proceeding "originally commenced in the commission"; the
second effect (i.e., the affirmance of a judgment or order) only applies when the type of case
before the COMELEC is an "appealed case"; and the third effect (i.e., the denial of the petition
or motion) only applies when the case or matter before the COMELEC is an "incidental matter."
The phrase "originally commenced in the commission" in Section 6, Rule 18 of the
COMELEC Rules is worded in plain language and, therefore, must be construed in its ordinary
and natural sense.25 It simply means what it says. The phrase is meant to cover any action or
proceeding that is filed, at the first instance, before the COMELECwhether sitting in division
or en bancas contradistinguished from cases that are merely appealed to it. Petitioner's view

that restricts such phrase to include only those actions or proceedings that are originally filed
with the COMELEC en banc itself (e.g., petition to declare failure of elections) has no basis and
only obscures the otherwise clear import of the phrase's language.
Verily, when an election case originally filed with the COMELEC is first decided by a
division, the subsequent filing of a motion for reconsideration from that decision before the en
banc does not signify the initiation of a new action or case, but rather a mere continuation of an
existing process. The motion for reconsiderationnot being an appeal from the decision of the
division to the en banconly thus serves as a means of having the election case decided by the
COMELEC en banc. Under this view, therefore, the nature of the election case as it was before
the division remains the same even after it is forwarded to the en banc through a motion for
reconsideration. Hence, the failure of the COMELEC en banc to decide a motion for
reconsideration from the decision of a division in anoriginal election case would unquestionably
bring to the fore the application of the first effect under Section 6, Rule 18 of the COMELEC
The words "action" and "proceeding" and even the entire phrase 'action or proceeding are
not exclusive to Section 6, Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules. Such words and phrase, in fact,
appear in other parts of the COMELEC Rules, most notably in Part V thereof. To our minds, an
examination of how the words "action" and "proceeding" and the phrase "actions or
proceedings" were used in Part V of the COMELEC Rules is telling of how the COMELEC
Rules actually intended such terms and phrase to be understood, which is, in the context of its
other provisions.
Evidently, what Part V actually discloses are the particular cases or matters that may be
considered as "actions or proceedings" for purposes of the COMELEC Rules. Notably, all the
actions or proceedings identified thereunder, save for the provisional remedy of injunction, are
all main cases cognizable by the COMELEC. Notable too is that a motion for reconsideration
from a decision of a division which is but a part of a main case - is not among those included
Dissenting Opinion
J. Velasco, Jr.
As can be gleaned, both the adverted constitutional and COMELEC rule provisions, as
couched, require not a simple majority of the participating members constituting a quorum, but
an absolute majority.
This rule in statutory construction is expressed in the maxim, index animi sermo, or
"speech is the index of intention." Furthermore, there is the maxim verba legis non est
recedendum, or "from the words of a statute there should be no departure." As the statute is clear,
plain, and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted
Clearly then, the Constitution no less bestows on the COMELEC divisions the authority
to decide election cases. Their decisions arrived are capable of attaining finality, without need of
any affirmative or confirmatory action on the part of the COMELEC en banc. For instance, if no

motion for reconsideration is filed by the aggrieved party within five (5) days from the
promulgation of the decision, the ruling becomes final and executory.36 In this sense, the process
before the division should be deemed complete, although it can also be considered, in the bigger
picture, as part of the integrated process of resolving an election case from start to finish, as
when the case was originally initiated before the trial court.
The fact that the COMELEC division's decision may be referred to the en banc via a
motion for reconsideration should in no way be considered as a diminution of its adjudicatory
powers. Worth maintaining is this doctrine in Mendoza: a motion for reconsideration is a
constitutionally guaranteed remedial mechanism for parties aggrieved by a division decision or
resolution, but not an appeal.
In distinguishing an action originally commenced with the COMELEC from an appealed
case, reference should be made to Article IX-C, Sec. 2(2) of the Constitution. According to the
provision, the COMELEC is a constitutional commission vested with the exclusive original
jurisdiction over election contests, involving regional, provincial and city officials, as well
as appellate jurisdiction
and barangay officials.41 Thus, in the case at bar, the petition for disqualification filed by Legaspi
was correctly categorized by the ponencia as an election case originally commenced in the
Commission because (1) private respondents were candidates for posts in the city government,
(2) there is no trial court ruling elevated to the Commission to speak of, and (3) the motion for
reconsideration filed by private respondents with the COMELEC en banc, as earlier stated, does
not amount to an appeal.
It is beyond cavil that for cases originally filed before it, the failure of the COMELEC to
muster the required majority vote after rehearing would lead to the dismissal of
the action or proceedingpending before it. The conjunctive word "or" clearly indicates that there
is an intended distinction between the words "action" and "proceeding," such that in not all
instances would the "action" originally commenced before the COMELEC will be dismissed in
their entirety. Otherwise, to treat them similarly would mean that the words are superfluous,
which is not the case.
It is the considered view that the "action" to be dismissed in cases originally commenced
before the COMELEC under Sec. 6, Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure pertains to
those originally and directly filed with the COMELEC division or en banc.


G.R. No. 205271
September 02, 2015

Civil Law; Credit; Mortgage

When the purchaser or the mortgagee is a bank, the rule on innocent purchasers or
mortgagees for value is applied more strictly.48 Being in the business of extending loans secured
by real estate mortgage, banks are presumed to be familiar with the rules on land
registration.49 Since the banking business is impressed with public interest, they are expected to
be more cautious, to exercise a higher degree of diligence, care and prudence, than private
individuals in their dealings, even those involving registered lands. 50 Banks may not simply rely
on the face of the certificate of title. 51 Hence, they cannot assume that, simply because the title
offered as security is on its face free of any encumbrances or lien, they are relieved of the
responsibility of taking further steps to verify the title and inspect the properties to be
mortgaged.52 As expected, the ascertainment of the status or condition of a property offered to it
as security for a loan must be a standard and indispensable part of a bank's operations. 53 It is of
judicial notice that the standard practice for banks before approving a loan is to send its
representatives to the property offered as collateral to assess its actual condition, verify the
genuineness of the title, and investigate who is/are its real owner/s and actual possessors
A person who deliberately ignores a significant fact that could create suspicion in an
otherwise reasonable person is not a mortgagee in good faith. A mortgagee cannot close his eyes
to facts which should put a reasonable man on his guard and claim that he acted in good faith
under the belief that there was no defect in the title of the mortgagor. His mere refusal to believe
that such defect exists or the willful closing of his eyes to the possibility of the existence of a
defect in the mortgagor's title will not make him an innocent mortgagee for value if it afterwards
develops that the title was in fact defective, and it appears that he had such notice of the defect as
would have led to its discovery had he acted with that measure of precaution which may
reasonably be required of a prudent man in a like situation.
The acceptance of the mortgaged property; notwithstanding the existence of an actual and
visible improvement thereon constitutes gross negligence amounting to bad faith. Where the
mortgagee acted with haste in granting the mortgage loan and did not ascertain the ownership of
the land being mortgaged it cannot be considered an innocent mortgagee.

Granting, for the sake of argument, that petitioner is a mortgagee in good faith, still it.

A purchaser in good faith is defined as one who buys a property without notice that some
other person has a right to, or interest in, the property and pays full and fair price at the time of
purchase or before he has notice of the claim or interest of other persons in the property.
Although it is a recognized principle that a person dealing on a registered land need not
go beyond its certificate of title, it is also a firmly settled rule that where there are circumstances
which would put a party on guard and prompt him to investigate or inspect the property being
sold to him, such as the presence of occupants/tenants thereon, it is of course, expected from the
purchaser of a valued piece of land to inquire first into the status or nature of possession of the
occupants, i.e., whether or not the occupants possess the land en concepto de dueo, in the
concept of the owner. As is the common practice in the real estate industry, an ocular inspection
of the premises involved is a safeguard a cautious and prudent purchaser usually takes. Should he

find out that the land he intends to buy is occupied by anybody else other than the seller who, as
in this case, is not in actual possession, it would then be incumbent upon the purchaser to verify
the extent of the occupant's possessory rights. The failure of a prospective buyer to take such
precautionary steps would mean negligence on his part and would thereby preclude him from
claiming or invoking the rights of a purchaser in good faith.
There is x x x no legal provision nor jurisprudence in our jurisdiction which makes a third
person who secures the fulfillment of another's obligation by mortgaging his own property to be
solidarily bound with the principal obligor. x x x. The signatory to the principal contract- loan remains to be primarily bound. It is only upon the default of the latter that the creditor may have
recourse on the mortgagors by foreclosing the mortgaged properties in lieu of an action for the
recovery of the amount of the loan. And the liability of the third-party mortgagors extends only
to the property mortgaged. Should there be any deficiency, the creditor has recourse on the
principal debtor.
COMMERCIAL LAW; Corporation Law; Piercing of the Veil
It is a basic rule that a corporation is a juridical entity which is vested with a legal
personality separate and distinct from those acting for and in its behalf and from the people
comprising it, who, in general, are not personally liable for obligations incurred by the
corporation unless the veil of corporate fiction is pierced to justify that it is used as a means to
perpetrate fraud or an illegal act, or as a vehicle for the evasion of an existing obligation, the
circumvention of statutes, or to confuse legitimate issues.
G.R. No. 199617
September 02, 2015

Labor Law; NLRC Jurisdiction

Under Section 4 of Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, certiorari should be
instituted within a period of 60 days from notice of the judgment, order, or resolution sought to
be assailed. The 60-day period is inextendible to avoid any unreasonable delay that would violate
the constitutional rights of parties to a speedy disposition of their case. Rules of procedure must

be faithfully complied with and should not be discarded with the mere expediency of claiming
substantial merit. As a corollary, rules prescribing the time for doing specific acts or for taking
certain proceedings are considered absolutely indispensable to prevent needless delays and to
orderly and promptly discharge judicial business. By their very nature, these rules are regarded
as mandatory.

Legal Ethics; Negligence of the Lawyer

The general rule is that a client is bound by the counsel's acts, including even mistakes in
the realm of procedural technique. The rationale for the rule is that a counsel, once retained,
holds the implied authority to do all acts necessary or, at least, incidental to the prosecution and
management of the suit in behalf of his client, such that any act or omission by counsel within
the scope of the authority is regarded, in the eyes of the law, as the act or omission of the client
himself. A recognized exception to the rule is when the reckless or gross negligence of the
counsel deprives the client of due process of law. For the exception to apply, however, the gross
negligence should not be accompanied by the client's own negligence or malice, considering that
the client has the duty to be vigilant in respect of his interests by keeping himself up-to-date on
the status of the case. Failing in this duty, the client should suffer whatever adverse judgment is
rendered against him.
Truly, a litigant bears the responsibility to monitor the status of his case, for no prudent
party leaves the fate of his case entirely in the hands of his lawyer. It is the client's duty to be in
contact with his lawyer from time to time in order to be informed of the progress and
developments of his case; hence, to merely rely on the bare reassurances of his lawyer that
everything is being taken care of is not enough.
Well settled is the doctrine that appeal is not a constitutional right, but a mere statutory
privilege. Hence parties who seek to avail themselves of it must comply with the statutes and
rules allowing it.
ROASTERS PHILIPPINES, INC., doing business under the name of KENNY ROGERS
G.R. No. 191874
SEPT. 2. 2015
Legal Ethics
An action may be dismissed for failure to prosecute in any of the . following instances:
(1) if the plaintiff fails to appear at the time of trial; or (2) if he fails to prosecute the action for an
unreasonable length of time; or (3) if he fails to comply with the Rules of Court or any order of
the court.

The fundamental test for non prosequitur is whether, under the circumstances, the
plaintiff is chargeable with want of due diligence in failing to proceed with reasonable
promptitude. There must be unwillingness on the part of the plaintiff to prosecute.
Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Motion for Reconsideration
A second motion for reconsideration, as a rule, is a prohibited
pleading which shall not be allowed except for extraordinarily persuasive reasons and only after
an express leave shall have first been obtained.


G.R. No. 205590
September 02, 2015

Remedial Law; Jurisdiction

However, when such findings are not anchored on their credibility and their testimonies,
but on the assessment of documents that are available to appellate magistrates and subject to
their scrutiny, reliance on the trial courts factual findings finds no application.
Remedial Law; Burden of Proof
It is settled that the burden of proof lies with the party who asserts a right and the
quantum of evidence required by law in civil cases is preponderance of evidence.
"Preponderance of evidence" is 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 credible evidence."
The employment of fraud, duress, or undue influence is a serious charge, and to be
sustained it must be supported by clear and convincing proof; it cannot be presumed.
Hence, it may be said that the trial court violated in a sense the constitutional caveat
enjoining courts from rendering a decision "without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the
facts and the law on which it is based."
The Court has also declared that a mere denial of the receipt of the loan, which is stated
in a clear and unequivocal manner in a public instrument, is not sufficient to assail its validity. To
overthrow the recitals of such instrument, convincing and more than merely preponderant

evidence is necessary. A contrary rule would throw wide open doors to fraud. 46 Following this
doctrine, Pasimio's notarized promissory notes bearing her signature and that of her husband
must be upheld, absent, as here, strong, complete, and conclusive proof of their nullity.
Finally, it is well to consider this rule: that when the terms of an agreement have been
reduced to writing, it is to be considered as containing all such terms, and, therefore, there can
be, between the parties and their successors-in-interest, no evidence of the terms of the
Under this rule, parol evidence or oral evidence cannot be given to contradict, change or
vary a written document, except if a party presents evidence to modify, explain, or add to the
terms of a written agreement and puts in issue in his pleadings: (a) an intrinsic ambiguity,
mistake, or imperfection in the written agreement; (b) the failure of the written agreement to
express the true intent and agreement of the parties; (c) the validity of the written agreement; and
(d) the existence of other terms agreed to by the parties or their successors-in-interest after the
Such evidence, however, must be clear and convincing and of such sufficient credibility
as to overturn the written agreement. Since no evidence of such nature is before the Court, the
documents embodying the loan agreement of the parties should be upheld.
G.R. No. 187727, September 02, 2015
Remedial Law; Jurisdiction
The Supreme Court is not a trier of facts and it is not our function to analyze and weigh the
evidence that the lower courts have passed upon. However, jurisprudence has carved out
recognized exceptions to this rule, to wit: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on
speculation, surmises, or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken,
absurd, or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse ofdiscretion; (4) when the judgment is based
on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of facts are conflicting; (6) when in
making its findings the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its
findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the
findings are contrary to the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation
of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well
as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the
findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the
evidence on record; and (11) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant
facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different

Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Preponderance of Evidence

Preponderance of evidence simply means evidence that is of greater weight or more
convincing than what is offered against it.10 In determining where the preponderance of
evidence lies, the court may consider all the facts and circumstances of the case, such as: the
witnesses demeanor, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to
which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or
improbability of their testimony, their interest or want of interest, and their personal credibility so
far as it may legitimately appear to the court.
When the evidence on an issue of fact is in equipoise or there is doubt as to which side
the evidence preponderates, the party having the burden of proof fails upon that issue. 40 Where
neither party is able to establish its cause of action and prevail with the evidence it has, the courts
have no choice but to leave them as they are and dismiss the complaint/petition.
Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Unlawful Detainer; Ejectment
In ejectment cases, the circumstances of the defendants entry into the property
determines whether the cause of action is for forcible entry or unlawful detainer. In forcible
entry, the defendants possession is unlawful from the beginning because he entered the property
through force, intimidation, stealth, threats, or strategy. In unlawful detainer, the defendants
possession is initially lawful because the plaintiff consented to his entry. His possession
subsequently becomes unlawful because of the termination of his right to possess the property
because of the expiration of a contract or the withdrawal of the plaintiffs consent. Subsequent
tolerance will not convert an action from forcible entry into unlawful detainer. The plaintiff must
sufficiently establish the character of the defendants entryinto the property through competent
G.R. No. 191641
September 02, 2015

Remedial law; Civil Procedure; Review on Certiorari

Nonetheless, in the spirit of liberality that pervades the Rules of Court 4 and in the interest
of substantial justice, this Court has, on appropriate occasions, treated a petition for certiorari as
a petition for review on certiorari, particularly when: (1) the petition for certiorari was filed
within the reglementary period to file a petition for review on certiorari;6 (2) the petition avers
errors of judgment;7 and (3) when there is sufficient reason to justify the relaxation of the
rules.8 Considering that the present petition was filed within the extension period granted by this
Court and avers errors of law and judgment, this Court deems it proper to treat the present
petition for certiorari as a petition for review on certiorari in order to serve the higher ends of

Legal Ethics; Attorneys Fees

An attorney has a right to be paid a fair and reasonable compensation for the services he
has rendered to a client. As a security for his fees, Rule 138, Section 37 of the Rules of Court
grants an attorney an equitable right to a charging lien over money judgments he has secured in
litigation for his client. For the lien to be enforceable, the attorney must have caused: (1) a
statement of his claim to be entered in the record of the case while the court has jurisdiction over
the case and before the full satisfaction of the judgment; and (2) a written notice of his claim to
However, the filing of the statement of the claim does not, by itself, legally determine the amount
of the claim when the client disputes the amount or claims that the amount has been paid. In
these cases, both the attorney and the client have a right to be heard and to present evidence in
support of their claims. The proper procedure for the court is to ascertain the proper amount of
the lien in a full dress trial before it orders the registration of the charging lien. The necessity of a
hearing is obvious and beyond dispute.
The registration of the lien should also be distinguished from the enforcement of the lien.
Registration merely determines the birth of the lien. The enforcement of the lien, on the other
hand, can only take place once a final money judgment has been secured in favor of the client.
The enforcement of the lien is a claim for attorney's fees that may be prosecuted in the very
action where the attorney rendered his services or in a separate action.
However, a motion for the enforcement of the lien is in the nature of an action
commenced by a lawyer against his clients for attorney's fees. As in every action for a sum of
money, the attorney-movant must first pay the prescribed docket fees before the trial court can
acquire jurisdiction to order the payment of attorney's fees.
The enforcement of a charging lien can only take place after a final money judgment has
been rendered in favor of the client. The lien only attaches to the money judgment due to the
client and is contingent on the final determination of the main case. Until the money judgment
has become final and executory, enforcement of the lien is premature.

As our last word, this decision should not be construed as imposing unnecessary burden
on the lawyer in collecting his just fees. But, as in the exercise of any other right conferred by
law, the lawyer - and the courts -must avail of the proper legal remedies and observe the
procedural rules to prevent the possibility, or even just the perception, of abuse or prejudice


G.R. No. 196052
September 02, 2015

A long-standing rule is that a description of the place to be searched is sufficient if the

officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place intended and
distinguish it from other places in the community. Any designation or description known to the
locality that points out the place to the exclusion of all others, and on inquiry leads the officers
unerringly to it, satisfies the constitutional requirement
Criminal Law; RA 9165
For the successful prosecution of illegal possession of dangerous drugs the following
essential elements must be established: (a) the accused is in possession of an item or object that
is identified to be a prohibited or dangerous drug; (b) such possession is not authorized by law;
and (c) the accused freely and consciously possesses the said drug
Criminal Law; RA 9165; Chain of Custody
It is settled that the failure to strictly follow the directives of Section 21, Article II of RA
Republic Act No. 9165 is not fatal and will not necessarily render the items confiscated
inadmissible. What is important is that the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items
are preserved. The succession of events in this case show that the items seized were the same
items tested and subsequently identified and testified to in court. We thus hold that the integrity
and evidentiary value of the drugs seized from the accused-appellants were duly proven not to
have been compromised.


G.R. No. 182534

September 02, 2015
Political Law; Constitutional Law; Warrantless Arrest
The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Any evidence obtained in
violation of these rights shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. While the
power to search and seize may at times be necessary to the public welfare, the exercise of this
power and the implementation of the law should not violate the constitutional rights of the
To determine the admissibility of the seized drugs in evidence, it is indispensable to
ascertain whether or not the search which yielded the alleged contraband was lawful. There must
be a valid warrantless search and seizure pursuant to an equally valid warrantless arrest, which
must precede the search. For this purpose, the law requires that there be first a lawful arrest
before a search can be made the process cannot be reversed.
To constitute a valid in flagrante delicto arrest, two requisites must concur: (1) the person
to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually
committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence of
or within the view of the arresting officer.
The prosecution has the burden to prove the legality of the warrantless arrest from which
the corpus delicti of the crime - shabu - was obtained. For, without a valid warrantless arrest, the
alleged confiscation of the shabu resulting from a warrantless search on the petitioner's body is
surely a violation of his constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure.
We clarify, however, that the filing of a criminal charge is not a condition precedent to
prove a valid warrantless arrest. Even if there is a criminal charge against an accused, the
prosecution is not relieved from its burden to prove that there was indeed a valid warrantless
arrest preceding the warrantless search that produced the corpus delicti of the crime.
Neither can the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty save the
prosecution's lack of evidence to prove the warrantless arrest and search. This presumption
cannot overcome the presumption of innocence or constitute proof of guilt beyond reasonable
doubt. Among the constitutional rights enjoyed by an accused, the most primordial yet often
disregarded is the presumption of innocence. This elementary principle accords every accused
the right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proven beyond reasonable doubt; and the
burden of proving the guilt of the accused rests upon the prosecution.

Arrest is the taking of a person into custody in order that he or she may be bound to
answer for the commission of an offense. It is effected by an actual restraint of the person to be
arrested or by that person's voluntary submission to the custody of the one making the arrest.
Neither the application of actual force, manual touching of the body, or physical restraint, nor a
formal declaration of arrest, is required. It is enough that there be an intention on the part of
one of the parties to arrest the other, and that there be an intent on the part of the other to
submit, under the belief and impression that submission is necessary.

ROWENA C. DE LEON as substituted by her children John Kevin C. De Leon and

Eisenhower Callumba, vs LOLITA CHU and DOMINGO DELOS SANTOS
G.R. No. 186522
A violation of the abovementioned rule other than through willful and deliberate forum
shopping does not authorize the RTC to dismiss a case without motion and hearing.5 Even the
submission of a false certification of non-forum shopping does not automatically warrant
dismissal of the case, even if it might constitute contempt of court. Significantly, the petitioner
did not move for the dismissal of the petition in Civil Case No. 2257 or to cite the respondents
for indirect contempt. She also failed to show that the respondents committed willful and
Instead, she raised the issue of forum shopping and noncompliance with Rule 7, Section 5
only on appeal. This Court is mindful of the rule that trial courts may dismiss a case motu
proprio on the ground of litis pendentia, among other things.
It is a settled rule that no questions will be entertained on appeal unless it has been raised
in the lower court. Points of law, theories, issues, and arguments not brought to the attention of
the lower court need not be, and ordinarily will not be considered by a reviewing court, as they
cannot be raised for the first time at that late stage.


G.R. No. 188794
September 02, 2015

Political law; Constitutional law; Waiver of the right to question the legality of the search

Ideally, compliance with the examination requirement is shown by the depositions and
the transcript. In their absence, however, a warrant may still be upheld if there is evidence in
the records that the requisite examination was made and probable cause was based
thereon. There must be, in the records, particular facts and circumstances that were considered
by the judge as sufficient to make an independent evaluation of the existence of probable cause
to justify the issuance of the search warrant.

Generally, a judge's determination of probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant
is accorded great deference by a reviewing court, so long as there was substantial basis for that
determination. "Substantial basis means that the questions of the examining judge brought out
such facts and circumstances as would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that
an offense has been committed, and the objects in connection with the offense sought to be
seized are in the place sought to be searched."

The records, therefore, bear no evidence from which we can infer that the requisite
examination was made, and from which the factual basis for probable cause to issue the
search warrant was derived. A search warrant must conform strictly to the constitutional
requirements for its issuance; otherwise, it is void.

Procedural rules can neither diminish nor modify substantial rights;their noncompliance should therefore not serve to validate a warrant that was issued in disregard of
the constitutional requirements. As mentioned, the existence of probable cause determined
after examination by the judge of the complainant and his witnesses is central to the guarantee of
Section 2, Article III of the Constitution. The ends of justice are better served if the supremacy of
the constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures is preserved over technical

Moreover, the courts should indulge every reasonable presumption against waiver of
fundamental constitutional rights; we should not presume acquiescence in the loss of

fundamental rights. In People v. Decierdo, the Court declared that "[wjhenever a protection
given by the Constitution is waived by the person entitled to that protection, the presumption is
always against the waiver." The relinquishment of a constitutional right has to be laid out
Under the Constitution, any evidence obtained in violation of a person's right against
unreasonable searches and seizures shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.


G.R. No. 214883
September 02, 2015

Criminal Law; Justifying Circumstances; Self-defense

Self-defense, when invoked as a justifying circumstance, implies the admission by the

accused that he committed the criminal act. Generally, the burden lies upon the prosecution to
prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt rather than upon the accused that he was
in fact innocent. When the accused, however, admits killing the victim, it is incumbent upon him
to prove any claimed justifying circumstance by clear and convincing evidence. Well-settled is
the rule that in criminal cases, self-defense shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the

To invoke self-defense, in order to escape criminal liability, it is incumbent upon the

accused to prove by clear and convincing evidence the concurrence of the following requisites
under the second paragraph of Article 11 of the RPC, viz: (1) unlawful aggression; (2) reasonable
necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on
the part of the person defending himself.

Among the requisites of self-defense, the most important that needs to be proved by the
accused, for it to prosper, is the element of unlawful aggression. It must be proven first in order

for self-defense to be successfully pleaded. There can be no self-defense, whether complete or

incomplete, unless the victim had committed unlawful aggression against the person who
resorted to self-defense. When the Court speaks of unlawful aggression, it is an actual physical
assault, or at least a threat to inflict real imminent injury, upon a person. There is an unlawful
aggression on the part of the victim when he puts the life, limb, or right of the person invoking
self-defense in actual or imminent danger. There must be actual physical force or actual use of a
weapon. It is present only when the one attacked faces real and immediate threat to his life. It
must be continuous, otherwise, it does not constitute aggression warranting self-defense.

The requisite of reasonable necessity of the means employed is met if the person
invoking self-defense used a weapon or a manner equivalent to the means of attack used by the
aggressor. The reasonable necessity of the self-defense utilized by an accused is to defend
himself "depends upon the nature or quality of the weapon, the physical condition, the character,
the size and other circumstances of the aggressor; as well as those of the person who invokes
self-defense; and also the place and the occasion of the assault." Moreover, the nature and
location of wounds are considered important indicators whether or not to disprove a plea of selfdefense
Generally, flight, in the absence of a credible explanation, would be a circumstance from
which an inference of guilt might be established, for a truly innocent person would normally
grasp the first available opportunity to defend himself and assert his innocence. It has been held,
however, that non-flight may not be construed as an indication of innocence either. There is no
law or dictum holding that staying put is proof of innocence, for the Court is not blind to the
cunning ways of a wolf which, after a kill, may feign innocence and choose not to flee.


G.R. No. 188639
September 02, 2015
Commercial Law; Corporation Law; Trust Fund Doctrine

To the Assignee, these "control" mechanisms are indicative of the interest of Legacy in

the enforcement of the trust fund because the agreement gives it the power to dictate on
LBP the fulfillment of the trust, such as the delivery of monies to it to facilitate the
payment to the planholders.
Iit must be stressed that a person is considered as a beneficiary of a trust if there is a
manifest intention to give such a person the beneficial interest over the trust properties.
It is clear from Section 16 that the underlying congressional intent is to make the
planholders the exclusive beneficiaries. It has been said that what is within the spirit is within the
law even if it is not within the letter of the law because the spirit prevails over the letter.
The Congress, because of the chaos confounding the industry at the time, considered it
necessary to provide a stronger legal framework so that no entity could claim that the mandate
and delegated authority of the SEC under the SRC was nebulous. The Pre-Need Code cemented
the regulatory framework governing the pre-need industry with precise specifics to ensure that
the rights of the pre-need planholders would be categorically defined and protected
"Under the principle of legislative approval of administrative interpretation by reenactment, the re-enactment of a statute, substantially unchanged (as in this case), is persuasive
indication of the adoption by Congress of a prior executive construction." Accordingly, where a
statute is susceptible of the meaning placed upon it by a ruling of the government agency
charged with its enforcement and the legislature thereafter reenacts the provisions without
substantial change, such action is to some extent confirmatory that the ruling carries out the
legislative purpose.
The Court cannot go against that legislative intent for it is the duty of this institution to
read what the law intends. It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the meaning of the law, the first
concern of the judge should be to discover in its provisions the intent of the lawmaker.
Unquestionably, the law should never be interpreted in such a way as to cause injustice as this is
never within the legislative intent. An indispensable part of that intent, in fact, for we presume
the good motives of the legislature, is to render justice
The Pre-Need Code is clear on this. It recognizes the distinction between claims against
the pre-need company and those against the trust fund. Section 52 (b) states that liquidation
"proceedings in court shall proceed independently of proceedings in the Commission for the
liquidation of claims, andcreditors of the pre-need company shall have no personality
whatsoever in the Commission proceedings to litigate their claims against the trust
funds." The reason why claims against the trust funds can proceed independently of the
proceedings in the courts is the fact that the latter is directed against a different person or entity.

The Pre-Need Code recognizes that the jurisdiction over pending claims against the trust
funds prior to its effectivity is vested with the SEC. Such authority can be easily discerned even
from the provisions of the SRC. Section 4 thereof provides that despite the transfer of
jurisdiction to the RTC of those matters enumerated under Section 5 of P.D. No. 902-A, the SEC
remains authorized to "exercise such other powers as may be provided by law as well as those
which may be implied from, or which are necessary or incidental to the carrying out of, the
express powers granted the Commission to achieve the objectives and purposes of these laws."
Finally, it must be stressed that the primary protection accorded by the Pre-Need Code to
the planholders is curative and remedial and, therefore, can be applied retroactively. The rule is
that where the provisions of a statute clarify an existing law and do not contemplate a change in
that law, the statute may be given curative, remedial and retroactive effect. To review, curative
statutes are those enacted to cure defects, abridge superfluities, and curb certain evils.
A reading of the Pre-Need Code immediately shows that its provisions operate merely in
furtherance of the remedy or confirmation of the right of the planholders to exclusively claim
against the trust funds as intended by the legislature. No new substantive right was created or
bestowed upon the planholders. Section 52 of the Pre-Need Code only echoes and clarifies the
SRC's intent to exclude from the insolvency proceeding trust fund assets that have been
established "exclusively for the benefit of planholders." It was precisely enacted to foil the
tactic of taking undue advantage of any ambiguities in the New Rules.
Any doubt or reservation in this regard has been dispelled by the Pre-Need Code. Section
57 thereof provides that "[a]ny pre-need company who, at the time of the effectivitv of this
Code has been registered and licensed to sell pre-need plans and similar contracts, shall be
considered registered and licensed under the provision of this Code and its implementing
rules and regulations and shall be subject to and governed by the provisions hereof xxx."
Thus, Legacy and all other existing pre-need companies cannot claim that the provisions of the
Pre-Need Code are not applicable to them and to the claims which accrued prior to the enactment
"[I]t has been said that a remedial statute must be so construed as to make it effect the evident
purpose for which it was enacted, so that if the reason of the statute extends to past transactions,
as well as to those in the future, then it will be so applied although the statute does not in terms
so direct:46 With the Pre-Need Code having the attribute of a remedial statute, Legacy and all
pre-need providers or their creditors cannot argue that it cannot be retroactively applied.
G.R. No. 198426
September 02, 2015
Remedial Law; Jurisdiction


While "[w]ell-entrenched is the rule that courts will not interfere in matters which are
addressed to the sound discretion of the government agency entrusted with the regulation of
activities coming under the special and technical training and knowledge of such agency," 34 it is
not entirely correct to say that an action by an administrative agency, such as in the case at bar,
cannot be questioned in an injunction suit. It has been held that "[c]ourts cannot enjoin an agency
from performing an act within its prerogative, except when in the exercise of its authority it
gravely abused or exceeded its jurisdiction." 35 Indeed, administrative decisions on matters within
the executive jurisdiction can be set aside on proof of grave abuse of discretion, fraud, or error of
law, and in such cases, injunction may be granted.
Significantly, this likewise goes true with respect to the main relief for injunction. As the
elements for its issuance, i.e., (1) there must be a right to be protected; and (2) the acts against
which the injunction is to be directed are violative of said right, 39 are matters that must be proved
during trial, the RTC merely acted in its judicial sphere when it proceeded to try the case.