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August 25, 1987.

On September 9, 1987, the last


day of the fifteen-day period to file an appeal,
FELIZA P. DE ROY and VIRGILIO petitioners filed a motion for extension of time to file
RAMOS, petitioners, a motion for reconsideration, which was eventually
vs. denied by the appellate court in the Resolution of
COURT OF APPEALS and LUIS BERNAL, SR., September 30, 1987. Petitioners filed their motion
GLENIA BERNAL, LUIS BERNAL, JR., HEIRS OF for reconsideration on September 24, 1987 but this
MARISSA BERNAL, namely, GLICERIA DELA was denied in the Resolution of October 27, 1987.
CRUZ BERNAL and LUIS BERNAL,
SR., respondents. This Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not
commit a grave abuse of discretion when it denied
RESOLUTION petitioners' motion for extension of time to file a
motion for reconsideration, directed entry of
judgment and denied their motion for
reconsideration. It correctly applied the rule laid
down in Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japzon,
CORTES, J.: [G.R. No. 70895, August 5, 1985,138 SCRA 461,
that the fifteen-day period for appealing or for filing
This special civil action for certiorari seeks to a motion for reconsideration cannot be extended. In
declare null and void two (2) resolutions of the its Resolution denying the motion for
Special First Division of the Court of Appeals in the reconsideration, promulgated on July 30, 1986 (142
case of Luis Bernal, Sr., et al. v. Felisa Perdosa De SCRA 208), this Court en banc restated and
Roy, et al., CA-G.R. CV No. 07286. The first clarified the rule, to wit:
resolution promulgated on 30 September 1987
denied petitioners' motion for extension of time to Beginning one month after the promulgation of this
file a motion for reconsideration and directed entry Resolution, the rule shall be strictly enforced that
of judgment since the decision in said case had no motion for extension of time to file a motion for
become final; and the second Resolution dated 27 reconsideration may be filed with the Metropolitan
October 1987 denied petitioners' motion for or Municipal Trial Courts, the Regional Trial Courts,
reconsideration for having been filed out of time. and the Intermediate Appellate Court. Such a
motion may be filed only in cases pending with the
At the outset, this Court could have denied the Supreme Court as the court of last resort, which
petition outright for not being verified as required by may in its sound discretion either grant or deny the
Rule 65 section 1 of the Rules of Court. However, extension requested. (at p. 212)
even if the instant petition did not suffer from this
defect, this Court, on procedural and substantive Lacsamana v. Second Special Cases Division of
grounds, would still resolve to deny it. the intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No. 73146-
53, August 26, 1986, 143 SCRA 643], reiterated the
The facts of the case are undisputed. The firewall rule and went further to restate and clarify the
of a burned-out building owned by petitioners modes and periods of appeal.
collapsed and destroyed the tailoring shop
occupied by the family of private respondents, Bacaya v. Intermediate Appellate Court, [G.R. No.
resulting in injuries to private respondents and the 74824, Sept. 15, 1986,144 SCRA 161],stressed the
death of Marissa Bernal, a daughter. Private prospective application of said rule, and explained
respondents had been warned by petitioners to the operation of the grace period, to wit:
vacate their shop in view of its proximity to the
weakened wall but the former failed to do so. On
In other words, there is a one-month
the basis of the foregoing facts, the Regional Trial
grace period from the promulgation
Court. First Judicial Region, Branch XXXVIII,
on May 30, 1986 of the Court's
presided by the Hon. Antonio M. Belen, rendered
Resolution in the clarificatory
judgment finding petitioners guilty of gross
Habaluyas case, or up to June 30,
negligence and awarding damages to private
1986, within which the rule barring
respondents. On appeal, the decision of the trial
extensions of time to file motions for
court was affirmed in toto by the Court of Appeals
new trial or reconsideration is, as
in a decision promulgated on August 17, 1987, a
yet, not strictly enforceable.
copy of which was received by petitioners on
Since petitioners herein filed their chance," which has been applied to vehicular
motion for extension on February 27, accidents, is inapplicable to this case.
1986, it is still within the grace
period, which expired on June 30, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court
1986, and may still be allowed. Resolved to DENY the instant petition for lack of
merit.
This grace period was also applied in Mission v.
Intermediate Appellate Court [G.R. No. 73669, Fernan (Chairman), Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and
October 28, 1986, 145 SCRA 306].] Bidin, JJ., concur.

In the instant case, however, petitioners' motion for


extension of time was filed on September 9, 1987,
more than a year after the expiration of the grace
period on June 30, 1986. Hence, it is no longer
within the coverage of the grace period.
Considering the length of time from the expiration
of the grace period to the promulgation of the
decision of the Court of Appeals on August 25,
1987, petitioners cannot seek refuge in the
ignorance of their counsel regarding said rule for
their failure to file a motion for reconsideration
within the reglementary period.

Petitioners contend that the rule enunciated in


the Habaluyas case should not be made to apply to
the case at bar owing to the non-publication of
the Habaluyas decision in the Official Gazette as of
the time the subject decision of the Court of
Appeals was promulgated. Contrary to petitioners'
view, there is no law requiring the publication of
Supreme Court decisions in the Official Gazette
before they can be binding and as a condition to
their becoming effective. It is the bounden duty of
counsel as lawyer in active law practice to keep
abreast of decisions of the Supreme Court
particularly where issues have been clarified,
consistently reiterated, and published in the
advance reports of Supreme Court decisions (G. R.
s) and in such publications as the Supreme Court
Reports Annotated (SCRA) and law journals.

This Court likewise finds that the Court of Appeals


committed no grave abuse of discretion in affirming
the trial court's decision holding petitioner liable
under Article 2190 of the Civil Code, which provides
that "the proprietor of a building or structure is
responsible for the damage resulting from its total
or partial collapse, if it should be due to the lack of
necessary repairs.

Nor was there error in rejecting petitioners


argument that private respondents had the "last Republic of the Philippines
clear chance" to avoid the accident if only they SUPREME COURT
heeded the. warning to vacate the tailoring shop Manila
and , therefore, petitioners prior negligence should
be disregarded, since the doctrine of "last clear EN BANC
by De Castro against complainant. According to
him, it was the sister of De Castro who called the
A.M. No. MTJ-92-706 March 29, 1995 police to arrest complainant.

LUPO ALMODIEL ATIENZA, complainant, Respondent also denies having been married to
vs. Ongkiko, although he admits having five children
JUDGE FRANCISCO F. BRILLANTES, JR., with her. He alleges that while he and Ongkiko
Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 28, went through a marriage ceremony before a Nueva
Manila, respondent. Ecija town mayor on April 25, 1965, the same was
not a valid marriage for lack of a marriage license.
Upon the request of the parents of Ongkiko,
respondent went through another marriage
QUIASON, J.: ceremony with her in Manila on June 5, 1965.
Again, neither party applied for a marriage license.
This is a complaint by Lupo A. Atienza for Gross Ongkiko abandoned respondent 17 years ago,
Immorality and Appearance of Impropriety against leaving their children to his care and custody as a
Judge Francisco Brillantes, Jr., Presiding Judge of single parent.
the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 20, Manila.
Respondent claims that when he married De
Complainant alleges that he has two children with Castro in civil rites in Los Angeles, California on
Yolanda De Castro, who are living together at No. December 4, 1991, he believed, in all good faith
34 Galaxy Street, Bel-Air Subdivision, Makati, and for all legal intents and purposes, that he was
Metro Manila. He stays in said house, which he single because his first marriage was solemnized
purchased in 1987, whenever he is in Manila. without a license.

In December 1991, upon opening the door to his Under the Family Code, there must be a judicial
bedroom, he saw respondent sleeping on his declaration of the nullity of a previous marriage
(complainant's) bed. Upon inquiry, he was told by before a party thereto can enter into a second
the houseboy that respondent had been cohabiting marriage. Article 40 of said Code provides:
with De Castro. Complainant did not bother to wake
up respondent and instead left the house after The absolute nullity of a previous
giving instructions to his houseboy to take care of marriage may be invoked for the
his children. purposes of remarriage on the basis
solely of a final judgment declaring
Thereafter, respondent prevented him from visiting such previous marriage void.
his children and even alienated the affection of his
children for him. Respondent argues that the provision of Article 40
of the Family Code does not apply to him
Complainant claims that respondent is married to considering that his first marriage took place in
one Zenaida Ongkiko with whom he has five 1965 and was governed by the Civil Code of the
children, as appearing in his 1986 and 1991 sworn Philippines; while the second marriage took place
statements of assets and liabilities. Furthermore, he in 1991 and governed by the Family Code.
alleges that respondent caused his arrest on
January 13, 1992, after he had a heated argument Article 40 is applicable to remarriages entered into
with De Castro inside the latter's office. after the effectivity of the Family Code on August 3,
1988 regardless of the date of the first marriage.
For his part, respondent alleges that complainant Besides, under Article 256 of the Family Code, said
was not married to De Castro and that the filing of Article is given "retroactive effect insofar as it does
the administrative action was related to not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in
complainant's claim on the Bel-Air residence, which accordance with the Civil Code or other laws." This
was disputed by De Castro. is particularly true with Article 40, which is a rule of
procedure. Respondent has not shown any vested
right that was impaired by the application of Article
Respondent denies that he caused complainant's
40 to his case.
arrest and claims that he was even a witness to the
withdrawal of the complaint for Grave Slander filed
The fact that procedural statutes may somehow WHEREFORE, respondent is DISMISSED from the
affect the litigants' rights may not preclude their service with forfeiture of all leave and retirement
retroactive application to pending actions. The benefits and with prejudice to reappointment in any
retroactive application of procedural laws is not branch, instrumentality, or agency of the
violative of any right of a person who may feel that government, including government-owned and
he is adversely affected (Gregorio v. Court of controlled corporations. This decision is
Appeals, 26 SCRA 229 [1968]). The reason is that immediately executory.
as a general rule no vested right may attach to, nor
arise from, procedural laws (Billones v. Court of SO ORDERED.
Industrial Relations, 14 SCRA 674 [1965]).

Respondent is the last person allowed to invoke


good faith. He made a mockery of the institution of
marriage and employed deceit to be able to cohabit
with a woman, who beget him five children.

Respondent passed the Bar examinations in 1962


and was admitted to the practice of law in 1963. At
the time he went through the two marriage
ceremonies with Ongkiko, he was already a lawyer.
Yet, he never secured any marriage license. Any
law student would know that a marriage license is
necessary before one can get married. Respondent
was given an opportunity to correct the flaw in his
first marriage when he and Ongkiko were married
for the second time. His failure to secure a
marriage license on these two occasions betrays
his sinister motives and bad faith.

It is evident that respondent failed to meet the


standard of moral fitness for membership in the
legal profession.

While the deceit employed by respondent existed


prior to his appointment as a Metropolitan Trial
Judge, his immoral and illegal act of cohabiting with
De Castro began and continued when he was
already in the judiciary.

The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the


conduct of a judge must be free of a whiff of
impropriety, not only with respect to his
performance of his judicial duties but also as to his
behavior as a private individual. There is no duality
of morality. A public figure is also judged by his
private life. A judge, in order to promote public
confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the
judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times, in
the performance of his judicial duties and in his
everyday life. These are judicial guideposts too
self-evident to be overlooked. No position exacts a
greater demand on moral righteousness and
uprightness of an individual than a seat in the
judiciary (Imbing v. Tiongzon, 229 SCRA 690 Republic of the Philippines
[1994]). Supreme Court
Manila
The Facts
THIRD DIVISION
The events that led to the institution of the
JUAN DE DIOS CARLOS, G.R. No. 179922 instant suit are unveiled as follows:
Petitioner,
Present:
Spouses Felix B. Carlos and Felipa Elemia
- versus - YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson, died intestate. They left six parcels of land to their
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
FELICIDAD SANDOVAL, also CHICO-NAZARIO, compulsory heirs, Teofilo Carlos and petitioner Juan
known as FELICIDAD S. VDA. NACHURA, and De Dios Carlos. The lots are particularly described
DE CARLOS or FELICIDAD REYES, JJ.
SANDOVAL CARLOS or as follows:
FELICIDAD SANDOVAL VDA.
DE CARLOS, and TEOFILO Promulgated: Parcel No. 1
CARLOS II,
Respondents. December 16, Lot No. 162 of the MUNTINLUPA
2008 ESTATE SUBDIVISION, Case No.
6137 of the Court of Land
x------------------------------------- Registration.
-------------x
Exemption from the provisions of
DECISION Article 567 of the Civil Code is
specifically reserved.
REYES, R.T., J.: Area: 1 hectare, 06 ares, 07
centares.

ONLY a spouse can initiate an action to


Parcel No. 2
sever the marital bond for marriages solemnized
during the effectivity of the Family Code, except A parcel of land (Lot No. 159-B),
being a portion of Lot 159, situated in
cases commenced prior to March 15, 2003. The the Bo. of
Alabang, Municipality of Muntinlupa,
nullity and annulment of a marriage cannot be Province of Rizal, x x x containing an
declared in a judgment on the pleadings, summary area of Thirteen Thousand Four
Hundred Forty One (13,441) square
judgment, or confession of judgment. meters.

We pronounce these principles as We review Parcel No. 3


on certiorari the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals
A parcel of land (Lot 159-B-2 of the
(CA) which reversed and set aside the summary subd. plan [LRC] Psd-325903,
approved as a non-subd. project),
judgment[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in an being a portion of Lot 159-B [LRC]
action for declaration of nullity of marriage, Psd- Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa,
Metro Manila, Island of Luzon. Boun
status of a child, recovery of property, ded on the NE, points 2 to 4 by Lot
155, Muntinlupa Estate; on the SE,
reconveyance, sum of money, and damages.
point 4 to 5 by Lot 159-B-5; on the S,
points 5 to 1 by Lot 159-B-3; on the
W, points 1 to 2 by Lot 159-B-1 (Road Marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se
widening) all of the subd. plan, halla at S. 43 gds. 01'E, 82.50 mts.
containing an area Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana,
of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY (130) que es un mojon de concreto de la
SQ. METERS, more or less. Ciudad de Manila, situado on el
esquina E. que forman las Calles
Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas,
continiendo una extension superficial
PARCEL No. 4 de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150)
METROS CUADRADOS.[3]
A parcel of land (Lot 28-C of the subd.
plan Psd-13-007090, being a portion
of Lot 28, Muntinlupa Estate, L.R.C. During the lifetime of Felix Carlos, he agreed
Rec. No. 6137), situated in the Bo. of
Alabang, Mun. of Muntinlupa, to transfer his estate to Teofilo. The agreement was
Metro Manila. Bounded on the NE, made in order to avoid the payment of inheritance
along lines 1-2 by Lot 27, Muntinlupa
Estate; on the East & SE, along lines taxes. Teofilo, in turn, undertook to deliver and turn
2 to 6 by Mangangata River; and on
over the share of the other legal heir, petitioner Juan
the West., along line 6-1, by Lot 28-B
of the subd. plan x x x containing an De Dios Carlos.
area
of ONE THUSAND AND SEVENTY-
SIX (1,076) SQUARE METERS. Eventually, the first three (3) parcels of land
were transferred and registered in the name of
PARCEL No. 5
Teofilo. These three (3) lots are now covered by
PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 50, Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 234824 issued
Manzana No. 18, de la subd. de
Solocan. Linda por el NW, con la by the Registry of Deeds of Makati City; TCT No.
parcela 49; por el NE, con la parcela 139061 issued by the Registry of Deeds
36; por el SE, con la parcela 51; y por
el SW, con la calle Dos of Makati City; and TCT No. 139058 issued by the
Castillas. Partiendo de un punto Registry of Deeds of Makati City.
marcado 1 en el plano, el cual se
halla a S. gds. 01'W, 72.50 mts.
Desde el punto 1 de esta manzana,
que es un mojon de concreto de la Parcel No. 4 was registered in the name of
Ciudad de Manila, situado on el petitioner. The lot is now covered by TCT No.
esquina E. que forman las Calles
Laong Laan y Dos. Castillas, 160401 issued by the Registry of Deeds of Makati
continiendo un extension superficial City.
de CIENTO CINCUENTA (150)
METROS CUADRADOS.
On May 13, 1992, Teofilo died intestate. He
PARCEL No. 6 was survived by respondents Felicidad and their

PARCELA DE TERRENO No. 51, son, Teofilo Carlos II (Teofilo II). Upon Teofilos
Manzana No. 18, de la subd. De death, Parcel Nos. 5 & 6 were registered in the name
Solocon. Linda por el NW, con la
parcela 50; por el NE, con la parcela of respondent Felicidad and co-respondent, Teofilo
37; por el SE, con la parcela 52; por
II. The said two (2) parcels of land are covered
el SW, con la Calle Dos
Castillas. Partiendo de un punto
by TCT Nos. 219877 and 210878, respectively, In August 1995, petitioner commenced an
issued by the Registry of Deeds of Manila. action, docketed as Civil Case No. 95-135, against
respondents before the court a quo with the
In 1994, petitioner instituted a suit against following causes of action: (a) declaration of nullity
respondents before the RTC in Muntinlupa City, of marriage; (b) status of a child; (c) recovery of
docketed as Civil Case No. 94-1964. In the said property; (d) reconveyance; and (e) sum of money
case, the parties submitted and caused the approval and damages. The complaint was raffled to Branch
of a partial compromise agreement. Under the 256 of the RTC in Muntinlupa.
compromise, the parties acknowledged their
respective shares in the proceeds from the sale of a In his complaint, petitioner asserted that the
portion of the first parcel of land. This includes the marriage between his late brother Teofilo and
remaining 6,691-square-meter portion of said land. respondent Felicidad was a nullity in view of the
absence of the required marriage license. He
On September 17, 1994, the parties likewise maintained that his deceased brother was
executed a deed of extrajudicial partition, dividing neither the natural nor the adoptive father of
the remaining land of the first parcel between them. respondent Teofilo Carlos II.

Meanwhile, in a separate case entitled Rillo Petitioner likewise sought the avoidance of
v. Carlos,[4] 2,331 square meters of the second the contracts he entered into with respondent
parcel of land were adjudicated in favor of Felicidad with respect to the subject real
plaintiffs Rillo. The remaining 10,000-square meter properties. He also prayed for the cancellation of the
portion was later divided between petitioner and certificates of title issued in the name of
respondents. respondents. He argued that the properties covered
by such certificates of title, including the sums
The division was incorporated in a received by respondents as proceeds, should be
supplemental compromise agreement executed reconveyed to him.
on August 17, 1994, with respect to Civil Case No.
94-1964. The parties submitted the supplemental Finally, petitioner claimed indemnification as
compromise agreement, which was approved and by way of moral and exemplary damages,
accordingly. attorneys fees, litigation expenses, and costs of suit.
Petitioner and respondents entered into two
more contracts in August 1994. Under the contracts, On October 16, 1995, respondents
the parties equally divided between them the third submitted their answer. They denied the material
and fourth parcels of land. averments of petitioners complaint. Respondents
contended that the dearth of details regarding the
requisite marriage license did not invalidate Gorospe, before the RTC Branch 255, Las Pias. In
Felicidads marriage to Teofilo. Respondents her testimony, respondent Felicidad narrated that
declared that Teofilo II was the illegitimate child of co-respondent Teofilo II is her child with Teofilo.[5]
the deceased Teofilo Carlos with another woman.
Subsequently, the Office of the City
On the grounds of lack of cause of action and Prosecutor of Muntinlupa submitted to the trial court
lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, its report and manifestation, discounting the
respondents prayed for the dismissal of the case possibility of collusion between the parties.
before the trial court. They also asked that their RTC and CA Dispositions
counterclaims for moral and exemplary damages, as
well as attorneys fees, be granted. On April 8, 1996, the RTC rendered
judgment, disposing as follows:
But before the parties could even proceed to
WHEREFORE, premises
pre-trial, respondents moved for summary considered, defendants
judgment. Attached to the motion was the affidavit of (respondents) Motion for Summary
Judgment is hereby denied. Plaintiffs
the justice of the peace who solemnized the (petitioners) Counter-Motion for
marriage. Respondents also submitted the Summary Judgment is hereby
granted and summary judgment is
Certificate of Live Birth of respondent Teofilo II. In hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff
as follows:
the certificate, the late Teofilo Carlos and
respondent Felicidad were designated as parents. 1. Declaring the marriage
between defendant Felicidad
Sandoval and Teofilo Carlos
On January 5, 1996, petitioner opposed the solemnized at Silang, Cavite on May
14, 1962, evidenced by the Marriage
motion for summary judgment on the ground of Certificate submitted in this case, null
and void ab initio for lack of the
irregularity of the contract evidencing the
requisite marriage license;
marriage. In the same breath, petitioner lodged his
2. Declaring that the
own motion for summary judgment. Petitioner defendant minor, Teofilo S. Carlos II,
presented a certification from the Local Civil is not the natural, illegitimate, or
legally adopted child of the late
Registrar of Calumpit, Bulacan, certifying that there Teofilo E. Carlos;
is no record of birth of respondent Teofilo II. 3. Ordering defendant
Sandoval to pay and restitute to
plaintiff the sum of P18,924,800.00
together with the interest thereon at
Petitioner also incorporated in the counter- the legal rate from date of filing of the
motion for summary judgment the testimony of instant complaint until fully paid;

respondent Felicidad in another 4. Declaring plaintiff as the


case. Said testimony was made in Civil Case No. sole and exclusive owner of the
parcel of land, less the portion
89-2384, entitled Carlos v. adjudicated to plaintiffs in Civil Case
No. 11975, covered by TCT No.
139061 of the Register of Deeds of
Makati City, and ordering said and in declaring Teofilo II as not an illegitimate child
Register of Deeds to cancel said title of Teofilo, Sr.
and to issue another title in the sole
name of plaintiff herein;
On October 15, 2002, the CA reversed and
5. Declaring the Contract,
Annex K of complaint, between set aside the RTC ruling, disposing as follows:
plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null
and void, and ordering the Register of
WHEREFORE, the summary
Deeds of Makati City to
judgment appealed from
cancel TCT No. 139058 in the name
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and
of Teofilo Carlos, and to issue
in lieu thereof, a new
another title in the sole name of
one is entered REMANDING the
plaintiff herein;
case to the court of origin for further
proceedings.
6. Declaring the Contract,
Annex M of the complaint, between
plaintiff and defendant Sandoval null SO ORDERED.[7]
and void;

7. Ordering the cancellation The CA opined:


of TCT No. 210877 in the names of
defendant Sandoval and defendant
minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and We find the rendition of the
ordering the Register of Deeds of herein appealed summary judgment
Manila to issue another title in the by the court a quo contrary to law and
exclusive name of plaintiff herein; public policy as ensconced in the
aforesaid safeguards. The fact that it
8. Ordering the cancellation was appellants who first sought
of TCT No. 210878 in the name of summary judgment from the trial
defendant Sandoval and defendant court, did not justify the grant thereof
Minor Teofilo S. Carlos II and in favor of appellee. Not being an
ordering the Register of Deeds of action to recover upon a claim or to
Manila to issue another title in the obtain a declaratory relief, the rule on
sole name of plaintiff herein. summary judgment apply (sic) to an
action to annul a marriage. The mere
Let this case be set for fact that no genuine issue was
hearing for the reception of plaintiffs presented and the desire to expedite
evidence on his claim for moral the disposition of the case cannot
damages, exemplary damages, justify a misinterpretation of the
attorneys fees, appearance fees, and rule. The first paragraph of Article 88
litigation expenses on June 7, and 101 of the Civil
1996 at 1:30 o'clock in the afternoon. Code expressly prohibit the rendition
of decree of annulment of a marriage
SO ORDERED.[6] upon a stipulation of facts or a
confession of judgment. Yet, the
affidavits annexed to the petition for
Dissatisfied, respondents appealed to the summary judgment practically
amount to these methods explicitly
CA. In the appeal, respondents argued, inter alia, proscribed by the law.
that the trial court acted without or in excess of
We are not unmindful of
jurisdiction in rendering summary judgment appellees argument that the
foregoing safeguards have
annulling the marriage of Teofilo, Sr. and Felicidad traditionally been applied to prevent
collusion of spouses in the matter of
dissolution of marriages and that the requisites of marriage, the absence
death of Teofilo Carlos on May 13, of which renders the marriage
1992 had effectively dissolved the void ab initio pursuant to Article 80(3)
marriage herein impugned. The fact, in relation to Article 58 of the Civil
however, that appellees own brother Code the failure to reflect the serial
and appellant Felicidad Sandoval number of the marriage license on
lived together as husband and wife the marriage contract evidencing the
for thirty years and that the marriage between Teofilo Carlos and
annulment of their marriage is the appellant Felicidad Sandoval,
very means by which the latter is although irregular, is not as fatal as
sought to be deprived of her appellee represents it to be. Aside
participation in the estate left by the from the dearth of evidence to the
former call for a closer and more contrary, appellant Felicidad
thorough inquiry into the Sandovals affirmation of the
circumstances surrounding the existence of said marriage license is
case. Rather that the summary corroborated by the following
nature by which the court a statement in the affidavit executed by
quo resolved the issues in the case, Godofredo Fojas, then Justice of the
the rule is to the effect that the Peace who officiated the impugned
material facts alleged in the marriage, to wit:
complaint for annulment of marriage
should always be proved. Section 1, That as far as I
Rule 19 of the Revised Rules of could remember,
Court provides: there was a marriage
license issued at
Section Silang, Cavite on May
1. Judgment on the 14, 1962 as basis of
pleadings. Where an the said marriage
answer fails to tender contract executed by
an issue, or otherwise Teofilo Carlos and
admits the material Felicidad Sandoval,
allegations of the but the number of said
adverse party's marriage license was
pleading, the court inadvertently not
may, on motion of that placed in the marriage
party, direct judgment contract for the reason
on such pleading. that it was the Office
But in actions for Clerk who filled up the
annulment of blanks in the Marriage
marriage or for legal Contract who in turn,
separation, the may have overlooked
material facts alleged the same.
in the complaint shall
always be proved. Rather than the inferences
(Underscoring merely drawn by the trial court, We
supplied) are of the considered view that the
veracity and credibility of the
Moreover, even if We were to foregoing statement as well as the
sustain the applicability of the rules motivations underlying the same
on summary judgment to the case at should be properly threshed out in a
bench, Our perusal of the record trial of the case on the merits.
shows that the finding of the court a
quo for appellee would still not be If the non-presentation of the
warranted. While it may be readily marriage contract the primary
conceded that a valid marriage evidence of marriage is not proof that
license is among the formal a marriage did not take place, neither
should appellants non-presentation thoroughly resolve the issues
of the subject marriage license be pertaining to the filiation of appellant
taken as proof that the same was not Teofilo Carlos II.[8]
procured. The burden of proof to
show the nullity of the marriage, it
must be emphasized, rests upon the On November 22, 2006, petitioner moved for
plaintiff and any doubt should be
resolved in favor of the validity of the reconsideration and for the inhibition of
marriage. the ponente, Justice Rebecca De Guia-
Considering that the burden Salvador. The CA denied the twin motions.
of proof also rests on the party who
disputes the legitimacy of a particular
party, the same may be said of the Issues
trial courts rejection of the
relationship between appellant
Teofilo Carlos II and his putative In this petition under Rule 45, petitioner
father on the basis of the
inconsistencies in appellant Felicidad hoists the following issues:
Sandovals statements. Although it
had effectively disavowed appellants
1. That, in reversing and
prior claims regarding the legitimacy
setting aside the Summary Judgment
of appellant Teofilo Carlos II, the
under the Decision, Annex A hereof,
averment in the answer that he is the
and in denying petitioners Motion for
illegitimate son of appellees brother,
reconsideration under the
to Our mind, did not altogether
Resolution, Annex F hereof, with
foreclose the possibility of the said
respect to the nullity of the impugned
appellants illegitimate filiation, his
marriage, petitioner respectfully
right to prove the same or, for that
submits that the Court of Appeals
matter, his entitlement to inheritance
committed a grave reversible error in
rights as such.
applying Articles 88 and 101 of the
Civil Code, despite the fact that the
Without trial on the merits
circumstances of this case are
having been conducted in the case,
different from that contemplated and
We find appellees bare allegation
intended by law, or has otherwise
that appellant Teofilo Carlos II was
decided a question of substance not
merely purchased from an indigent
theretofore decided by the Supreme
couple by appellant Felicidad
Court, or has decided it in a manner
Sandoval, on the whole, insufficient
probably not in accord with law or
to support what could well be a
with the applicable decisions of this
minors total forfeiture of the rights
Honorable Court;
arising from his
putative filiation. Inconsistent though
2. That in setting aside and
it may be to her previous statements,
reversing the Summary Judgment
appellant Felicidad Sandovals
and, in lieu thereof, entering another
declaration regarding the illegitimate
remanding the case to the court of
filiation of Teofilo Carlos II is more
origin for further proceedings,
credible when considered in the light
petitioner most respectfully submits
of the fact that, during the last eight
that the Court of Appeals committed
years of his life, Teofilo Carlos
a serious reversible error in applying
allowed said appellant the use of his
Section 1, Rule 19 (now Section 1,
name and the shelter of his
Rule 34) of the Rules of Court
household. The least that the trial
providing for judgment on the
court could have done in the
pleadings, instead of Rule 35
premises was to conduct a trial
governing Summary Judgments;
on the merits in order to be able to
3. That in reversing and
setting aside the Summary Judgment
and, in lieu thereof, entering another He argues that the CA should have applied Rule 35
remanding the case to the court of of the Rules of Court governing summary judgment,
origin for further proceedings, instead of the rule on judgment on the pleadings.
petitioner most respectfully submits
that the Court of Appeals committed
grave abuse of discretion, Petitioner is misguided. The CA did not limit its
disregarded judicial admissions, finding solely within the provisions of the Rule on
made findings on ground of
speculations, surmises, and judgment on the pleadings. In disagreeing with the
conjectures, or otherwise committed trial court, the CA likewise considered the provisions
misapplications of the laws and on summary judgments, to wit:
misapprehension of the
facts.[9] (Underscoring supplied)
Moreover, even if We are to
sustain the applicability of the rules
on summary judgment to the case at
Essentially, the Court is tasked to resolve whether a bench, Our perusal of the record
marriage may be declared void ab initio through a shows that the finding of the court a
quo for appellee would still not be
judgment on the pleadings or a summary judgment warranted. x x x[11]
and without the benefit of a trial. But there are other
procedural issues, including the capacity of one who But whether it is based on judgment on the pleadings
or summary judgment, the CA was correct in
is not a spouse in bringing the action for nullity of
reversing the summary judgment rendered by the
marriage.
trial court. Both the rules on judgment on the
pleadings and summary judgments have no place in
Our Ruling cases of declaration of absolute nullity of marriage
and even in annulment of marriage.
I. The grounds for declaration of absolute
nullity of marriage must be proved. Neither With the advent of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC, known
judgment on the pleadings nor summary as Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
judgment is allowed. So is confession of Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages,
judgment disallowed. the question on the application of summary
judgments or even judgment on the pleadings in
Petitioner faults the CA in applying Section 1, cases of nullity or annulment of marriage has been
Rule 19[10] of the Revised Rules of Court, which stamped with clarity. The significant principle laid
provides: down by the said Rule, which took effect on March
15, 2003[12] is found in Section 17, viz.:
SECTION 1. Judgment on the
pleadings. Where an answer fails to SEC. 17. Trial. (1) The
tender an issue, or otherwise admits presiding judge shall personally
the material allegations of the conduct the trial of the case. No
adverse partys pleading, the court delegation of evidence to a
may, on motion of that party, direct commissioner shall be allowed
judgment on such pleading. But in except as to matters involving
actions for annulment of marriage or property relations of the spouses.
for legal separation, the material facts
alleged in the complaint shall always (2) The grounds for
be proved. declaration of absolute nullity or
annulment of marriage must be
proved. No judgment on the (b) x x x If there is no collusion, the
pleadings, summary judgment, or court shall require the public
confession of judgment shall be prosecutor to intervene for the State
allowed. (Underscoring supplied) during the trial on the merits to
prevent suppression or fabrication of
evidence. (Underscoring supplied)
Likewise instructive is the Courts pronouncement
Truly, only the active participation of the public
in Republic v. Sandiganbayan.[13] In that case, We
prosecutor or the Solicitor General will ensure that
excluded actions for nullity or annulment of marriage
the interest of the State is represented and protected
from the application of summary judgments.
in proceedings for declaration of nullity of marriages
by preventing the fabrication or suppression of
Prescinding from the evidence.[16]
foregoing discussion, save for
annulment of marriage or declaration II. A petition for declaration of absolute
of its nullity or for legal separation,
summary judgment is applicable to all nullity of void marriage may be filed solely by the
kinds of actions.[14] (Underscoring husband or wife. Exceptions: (1) Nullity of
supplied) marriage cases commenced before the
effectivity of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC; and (2)
By issuing said summary judgment, the trial Marriages celebrated during the effectivity of the
court has divested the State of its lawful right and Civil Code.
duty to intervene in the case. The participation of the
State is not terminated by the declaration of the Under the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity
public prosecutor that no collusion exists between of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable
the parties. The State should have been given the Marriages, the petition for declaration of absolute
opportunity to present controverting evidence before nullity of marriage may not be filed by any party
the judgment was rendered.[15] outside of the marriage. The Rule made it
exclusively a right of the spouses by stating:
Both the Civil Code and the Family Code ordain that
the court should order the prosecuting attorney to SEC. 2. Petition for
appear and intervene for the State. It is at this stage declaration of absolute nullity of void
marriages.
when the public prosecutor sees to it that there is no
suppression of evidence. Concomitantly, even if (a) Who may file. A petition
there is no suppression of evidence, the public for declaration of absolute nullity
of void marriage may be filed solely
prosecutor has to make sure that the evidence to be by the husband or the
presented or laid down before the court is not wife. (Underscoring supplied)
fabricated.
Section 2(a) of the Rule makes it the sole
To further bolster its role towards the preservation of right of the husband or the wife to file a petition for
marriage, the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity declaration of absolute nullity of void
of Void Marriages reiterates the duty of the public marriage. The rationale of the Rule is
prosecutor, viz.: enlightening, viz.:

SEC. 13. Effect of failure to Only an aggrieved or injured


appear at the pre-trial. (a) x x x spouse may file a
petition for annulment of voidable never intended to deprive the compulsory or
marriages or declaration of absolute
nullity of void marriages. Such intestate heirs of their successional rights.
petition cannot be filed by
compulsory or intestate heirs of the While A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC declares that a
spouses or by the State. The
Committee is of the belief that they do petition for declaration of absolute nullity
not have a legal right to file the of marriage may be filed solely by the husband or
petition. Compulsory or intestate the wife, it does not mean that the compulsory or
heirs have only inchoate rights prior
to the death of their predecessor, intestate heirs are without any recourse under the
and, hence, can only question the law. They can still protect their successional right,
validity of the marriage of the for, as stated in the Rationale of the Rules on
spouses upon the death of a spouse
Annulment of Voidable Marriages and Declaration of
in a proceeding for the settlement of
the estate of the deceased spouse Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages, compulsory or
filed in the regular courts. On the intestate heirs can still question the
other hand, the concern of the
validity of the marriage of the spouses, not in a
State is to preserve marriage and
not to seek its proceeding for declaration of nullity but upon the
dissolution.[17] (Underscoring death of a spouse in a proceeding for the settlement
supplied)
of the estate of the deceased spouse filed in the
regular courts.[19]
The new Rule recognizes that the husband
and the wife are the sole architects of a healthy,
It is emphasized, however, that the Rule
loving, peaceful marriage. They are the only ones
does not apply to cases already commenced
who can decide when and how to build the
before March 15, 2003 although the marriage
foundations of marriage. The spouses alone are the
involved is within the coverage of the Family
engineers of their marital life. They are
Code. This is so, as the new Rule which became
simultaneously the directors and actors of their
effective on March 15, 2003[20] is prospective in its
matrimonial true-to-life play. Hence, they alone can
application. Thus, the Court held in Enrico v. Heirs
and should decide when to take a cut, but only in
of Sps. Medinaceli,[21] viz.:
accordance with the grounds allowed by law.
As has been emphasized,
The innovation incorporated in A.M. No. 02- A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC covers
marriages under the Family Code of
11-10-SC sets forth a demarcation line between
the Philippines, and is prospective in
marriages covered by the Family Code and those its application.[22] (Underscoring
solemnized under the Civil Code. The Rule extends supplied)
only to marriages entered into during the effectivity
of the Family Code which took effect on August 3, Petitioner commenced the nullity of marriage
1988.[18] case against respondent Felicidad in 1995. The
marriage in controversy was celebrated on May 14,
The advent of the Rule on Declaration of 1962. Which law would govern depends upon when
Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages marks the marriage took place.[23]
the beginning of the end of the right of the heirs of
the deceased spouse to bring a nullity of marriage The marriage having been solemnized
case against the surviving spouse. But the Rule prior to the effectivity of the Family Code, the
applicable law is the Civil Code which was the law in
effect at the time of its celebration.[24] But the Civil children have the personality to file
the petition to declare the nullity of
Code is silent as to who may bring an action to marriage of their deceased father to
declare the marriage void. Does this mean that any their stepmother as it affects their
person can bring an action for the declaration of successional rights.
nullity of marriage? xxxx

We respond in the negative. The absence of In fine, petitioners personality


to file the petition to declare the nullity
a provision in the Civil Code cannot be construed as of marriage cannot be ascertained
a license for any person to institute a nullity of because of the absence of the
marriage case. Such person must appear to be the divorce decree and the foreign law
allowing it. Hence, a remand of the
party who stands to be benefited or injured by the
case to the trial court for reception of
judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails additional evidence is necessary to
of the suit.[25] Elsewise stated, plaintiff must be the determine whether
respondent Orlando was granted a
real party-in-interest. For it is basic in procedural law
divorce decree and whether the
that every action must be prosecuted and defended foreign law which granted the same
in the name of the real party-in-interest.[26] allows or restricts remarriage. If it is
proved that a valid divorce decree
was obtained and the same did not
Interest within the meaning of the rule means allow respondent Orlandos
material interest or an interest in issue to be affected remarriage, then the trial court should
declare respondents marriage as
by the decree or judgment of the case, as
bigamous and void ab initio but
distinguished from mere curiosity about the question reduced the amount of moral
involved or a mere incidental interest. One having no damages from P300,000.00
to P50,000.00 and exemplary
material interest to protect cannot invoke the
damages from P200,000.00
jurisdiction of the court as plaintiff in an action. When to P25,000.00. On the contrary, if it is
plaintiff is not the real party-in-interest, the case is proved that a valid divorce decree
dismissible on the ground of lack of cause of was obtained which
allowed Orlando to remarry, then the
action.[27] trial court must dismiss the instant
petition to declare nullity of marriage
on the ground that petitioner Felicitas
Illuminating on this point is Amor-Catalan v. Amor-Catalan lacks legal personality
to file the same.[29] (Underscoring
Court of Appeals,[28] where the Court held:
supplied)

True, under the New Civil


Code which is the law in force at the III. The case must be remanded to
time the respondents were married, determine whether or not petitioner is a real-
or even in the Family Code, there is party-in-interest to seek the declaration of nullity
no specific provision as to who can
file a petition to declare the nullity of of the marriage in controversy.
marriage; however, only a party who
can demonstrate proper interest can In the case at bench, the records reveal that when
file the same. A petition to declare the
nullity of marriage, like any Teofilo died intestate in 1992, his only surviving
other actions, must be prosecuted or compulsory heirs are respondent Felicidad and their
defended in the name of the real son, Teofilo II. Under the law on succession,
party-in-interest and must be based
on a cause of action. Thus, in Nial v. successional rights are transmitted from the moment
Badayog, the Court held that the
of death of the decedent and the compulsory heirs
ART. 1003. If there are no
are called to succeed by operation of law.[30] descendants, ascendants,
illegitimate children, or a surviving
spouse, the collateral relatives shall
Upon Teofilos death in 1992, all his property, rights succeed to the entire estate of the
and obligations to the extent of the value of the deceased in accordance with the
following articles. (Underscoring
inheritance are transmitted to his compulsory supplied)
heirs. These heirs were respondents Felicidad and
Indeed, only the presence of descendants,
Teofilo II, as the surviving spouse and child,
ascendants or illegitimate children excludes
respectively.
collateral relatives from succeeding to the estate of
the decedent. The presence of legitimate,
Article 887 of the Civil Code outlined who are
illegitimate, or adopted child or children of the
compulsory heirs, to wit:
deceasedprecludes succession by collateral
[32]
relatives. Conversely, if there are no
(1) Legitimate children and
descendants, with respect to descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, or a
their legitimate parents and surviving spouse, the collateral relatives shall
ascendants;
succeed to the entire estate of the decedent.[33]
(2) In default of the foregoing,
legitimate parents and If respondent Teofilo II is declared and finally
ascendants, with respect to their
proven not to be the legitimate, illegitimate, or
legitimate children and
descendants; adopted son of Teofilo, petitioner would then
have a personality to seek the nullity of marriage of
(3) The widow or widower;
his deceased brother
(4) Acknowledged natural children, with respondent Felicidad. This is so, considering
and natural children by legal that collateral relatives, like a brother and sister,
fiction; acquire successional right over the estate if the
(5) Other illegitimate children referred decedent dies without issue and without ascendants
to in Article 287 of the Civil in the direct line.
Code.[31]
The records reveal that Teofilo was
Clearly, a brother is not among those considered as predeceased by his parents. He had no other
compulsory heirs. But although a collateral relative, siblings but petitioner. Thus, if Teofilo II is finally
such as a brother, does not fall within the ambit of a found and proven to be not a
compulsory heir, he legitimate, illegitimate, or adopted son of Teofilo,
still has a right to succeed to the estate. Articles petitioner succeeds to the other half of the
1001 and 1003 of the New Civil Code provide: estate of his brother, the first half being allotted
to the widow pursuant to Article 1001 of the New
ART. 1001. Should brothers
and sisters or their children survive Civil Code. This makes petitioner a real-party-
with the widow or widower, the latter interest to seek the declaration of absolute nullity
shall be entitled to one-half of the of marriage of his deceased brother with respondent
inheritance and the brothers and
sisters or their children to the other Felicidad. If the subject marriage is found to be
half.
void ab initio, petitioner succeeds to the entire notwithstanding, We should not leave the matter
estate. hanging in limbo.

It bears stressing, however, that the legal This Court has the authority to review
personality of petitioner to bring the nullity of matters not specifically raised or assigned as error
marriage case is contingent upon the final by the parties, if their consideration is necessary in
declaration that Teofilo II is not a legitimate, arriving at a just resolution of the case.[36]
adopted, or illegitimate son of Teofilo.
We agree with the CA that without trial on the merits
If Teofilo II is proven to be a legitimate, having been conducted in the case, petitioners bare
illegitimate, or legally adopted son of Teofilo, then allegation that respondent Teofilo II was adopted
petitioner has no legal personality to ask for the from an indigent couple is insufficient to support a
nullity of marriage of his deceased brother and total forfeiture of rights arising from his putative
respondent Felicidad. This is based on the ground filiation. However, We are not inclined to support its
that he has no successional right to be protected, pronouncement that the declaration of respondent
hence, does not have proper interest. For although Felicidad as to the illegitimate filiation of respondent
the marriage in controversy may be found to be void Teofilo II is more credible. For the guidance of the
from the beginning, still, petitioner would not appellate court, such declaration of respondent
inherit. This is because the presence of descendant, Felicidad should not be afforded credence. We
illegitimate,[34] or even an adopted child[35] excludes remind the CA of the guaranty provided by Article
the collateral relatives from inheriting from the 167 of the Family Code to protect the status of
decedent. legitimacy of a child, to wit:

Thus, the Court finds that a remand of the ARTICLE 167. The child shall be
considered legitimate although the
case for trial on the merits to determine the validity mother may have declared against its
or nullity of the subject marriage is called for. But legitimacy or may have been
the RTC is strictly instructed to dismiss the sentenced as an
adulteress. (Underscoring supplied)
nullity of marriage case for lack of cause of
action if it is proven by evidence that Teofilo II is
It is stressed that Felicidads declaration against the
a legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted son
legitimate status of Teofilo II is the very act that is
of Teofilo Carlos, the deceased brother of
proscribed by Article 167 of the Family Code. The
petitioner.
language of the law is unmistakable. An assertion by
the mother against the legitimacy of her child cannot
IV. Remand of the case regarding the
affect the legitimacy of a child born or conceived
question of filiation of respondent Teofilo II is
within a valid marriage.[37]
proper and in order. There is a need to vacate the
disposition of the trial court as to the other
Finally, the disposition of the trial court in favor of
causes of action before it.
petitioner for causes of action concerning
reconveyance, recovery of property, and sum of
Petitioner did not assign as error or interpose as
money must be vacated. This has to be so, as said
issue the ruling of the CA on the remand of the case
disposition was made on the basis of its finding that
concerning the filiation of respondent Teofilo II. This
the marriage in controversy was null and void ab
initio.
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision
is MODIFIED as follows:

1. The case is REMANDED to the Regional


Trial Court in regard to the action on
the status and filiation of respondent
Teofilo Carlos II and the validity
or nullity of marriage between
respondent Felicidad Sandoval and
the late Teofilo Carlos;

2. If Teofilo Carlos II is proven to be the


legitimate, or illegitimate, or legally
adopted son of the late Teofilo
Carlos, the RTC is
strictly INSTRUCTED to DISMISS th
e action for nullity of marriage for lack
of cause of action;
THIRD DIVISION
3. The disposition of the RTC in Nos. 1 to 8
of the fallo of its decision ANITA CHENG, G.R
Petitioner,
is VACATED AND SET ASIDE. Pre

The Regional Trial Court is ORDERED to YNA


Cha
conduct trial on the merits with dispatch and to give - versus - CHI
this case priority in its calendar. VEL
NAC
PER
No costs.
SPOUSES WILLIAM SY and Pro
SO ORDERED. TESSIE SY,
Respondents. July

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

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:
lack of jurisdiction, ratiocinating that the civil action
This is a petition[1] for review on certiorari under Rule to collect the amount of P600,000.00 with damages
45 of the Rules of Court of the Order dated January was already impliedly instituted in the BP Blg. 22
2, 2006[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch cases in light of Section 1, paragraph (b) of Rule 111
18, Manila in Civil Case No. 05-112452 of the Revised Rules of Court.
entitled Anita Cheng v. Spouses William Sy and
Tessie Sy. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration[8] which
the court denied in its Order[9] dated June 5,
The antecedents are as follows 2006. Hence, this petition, raising the sole legal
issue
Petitioner Anita Cheng filed two (2) estafa cases
before the RTC, Branch 7, Manila against Whether or not Section 1 of Rule 111
respondent spouses William and Tessie Sy of the 2000 Rules of Criminal
(Criminal Case No. 98-969952 against Tessie Sy Procedure and Supreme Court
and Criminal Case No. 98-969953 against William Circular No. 57-97 on the Rules and
Sy) for issuing to her Philippine Bank of Commerce Guidelines in the filing and
(PBC) Check Nos. 171762 and 71860 prosecution of criminal cases under
for P300,000.00 each, in payment of their loan, both BP Blg. 22 are applicable to the
of which were dishonored upon presentment for present case where the nature of the
having been drawn against a closed account. order dismissing the cases for
bouncing checks against the
Meanwhile, based on the same facts, petitioner, on respondents was [based] on the
January 20, 1999, filed against respondents two (2) failure of the prosecution to identify
cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP both the accused (respondents
Blg.) 22 before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), herein)?[10]
Branch 25, Manila (Criminal Case Nos. 341458-59).

On March 16, 2004, the RTC, Branch Essentially, petitioner argues that since the BP Blg.
7, Manila dismissed the estafa cases for failure of 22 cases were filed on January 20, 1999, the 2000
the prosecution to prove the elements of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure promulgated
crime. The Order dismissing Criminal Case No. 98- on December 1, 2000 should not apply, as it must be
969952 contained no declaration as to the civil given only prospective application. She further
liability of Tessie Sy.[3] On the other hand, the Order contends that that her case falls within the following
in Criminal Case No. 98-969953 contained a exceptions to the rule that the civil action
statement, Hence, if there is any liability of the correspondent to the criminal action is deemed
accused, the same is purely civil, not criminal in instituted with the latter
nature.[4]
(1) additional evidence as to the
Later, the MeTC, Branch 25, Manila, dismissed, on identities of the accused is
demurrer, the BP Blg. 22 cases in its Order[5] dated necessary for the resolution
February 7, 2005 on account of the failure of of the civil aspect of the case;
petitioner to identify the accused respondents in
open court. The Order also did not make any (2) a separate complaint would be
pronouncement as to the civil liability of accused just as efficacious as or even
respondents. more expedient than a timely
remand to the trial court
On April 26, 2005, petitioner lodged against where the criminal action was
respondents before the RTC, Branch 18, Manila, a decided for further hearings
complaint[6] for collection of a sum of money with on the civil aspect of the case;
damages (Civil Case No. 05-112452) based on the
same loaned amount of P600,000.00 covered by the (3) the trial court failed to make any
two PBC checks previously subject of the estafa and pronouncement as to the civil
BP Blg. 22 cases. liability of the accused
amounting to a reservation of
In the assailed Order[7] dated January 2, 2006, the the right to have the civil
RTC, Branch 18, Manila, dismissed the complaint for
liability litigated in a separate Criminal Case No. 98-969953 where the trial court
action; declared that the liability of the accused was only
civil in natureproduced the legal effect of a
(4) the trial court did not declare that reservation by the petitioner of her right to litigate
the facts from which the civil separately the civil action impliedly instituted with the
liability might arise did not estafa cases, following Article 29 of the Civil Code.[17]
exist;
However, although this civil action could have been
(5) the civil complaint is based on an litigated separately on account of the dismissal of the
obligation ex-contractu and estafa cases on reasonable doubt, the petitioner
not ex-delicto pursuant to was deemed to have also elected that such civil
Article 31[11] of the Civil Code; action be prosecuted together with the BP Blg. 22
and cases in light of the Rodriguez v. Ponferrada ruling.

(6) the claim for civil liability for With the dismissal of the BP Blg. 22 cases for failure
damages may be had under to establish the identity of the accused, the question
Article 29[12] of the Civil Code. that arises is whether such dismissal would have the
same legal effect as the dismissed estafa cases. Put
Petitioner also points out that she was not differently, may petitioners action to recover
assisted by any private prosecutor in the BP Blg. 22 respondents civil liability be also allowed to prosper
proceedings. separately after the BP Blg. 22 cases were
dismissed?
The rule is that upon the filing of the estafa and BP
Blg. 22 cases against respondents, where the Section 1 (b), Rule 111 of the 2000 Revised
petitioner has not made any waiver, express Rules on Criminal Procedure states
reservation to litigate separately, or has not
instituted the corresponding civil action to collect the Section 1. Institution of criminal and
amount of P600,000.00 and damages prior to the civil actions.
criminal action, the civil action is deemed instituted
with the criminal cases.[13] xxx

This rule applies especially with the advent (b) The criminal action for violation of
of the 2000 Revised Rules on Criminal Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 shall be
Procedure. Thus, during the pendency of both the deemed to include the corresponding
estafa and the BP Blg. 22 cases, the action to civil action. No reservation to file
recover the civil liability was impliedly instituted and such civil action separately shall be
remained pending before the respective trial allowed.
courts. This is consonant with our ruling
in Rodriguez v. Ponferrada[14] that the possible Upon filing of the joint criminal and
single civil liability arising from the act of issuing a civil actions, the offended party shall
bouncing check can be the subject of both civil pay in full the filing fees based on the
actions deemed instituted with the estafa case and amount of the check involved, which
the prosecution for violation of BP Blg. 22, shall be considered as the actual
simultaneously available to the complaining party, damages claimed. Where the
without traversing the prohibition against forum complaint or information also seeks
shopping.[15] Prior to the judgment in either the to recover liquidated, moral, nominal,
estafa case or the BP Blg. 22 case, petitioner, as the temperate or exemplary damages,
complainant, cannot be deemed to have elected the offended party shall pay the filing
either of the civil actions both impliedly instituted in fees based on the amounts alleged
the said criminal proceedings to the exclusion of the therein. If the amounts are not so
other.[16] alleged but any of these damages [is]
The dismissal of the estafa cases for failure of the subsequently awarded by the court,
prosecution to prove the elements of the crime the filing fees based on the amount
beyond reasonable doubtwhere in Criminal Case awarded shall constitute a first lien on
No. 98-969952 there was no pronouncement as the judgment.
regards the civil liability of the accused and in
Where the civil action has been filed However, in applying the procedure
separately and trial thereof has not discussed above, it appears that petitioner would be
yet commenced, it may be left without a remedy to recover from respondents
consolidated with the criminal action the P600,000.00 allegedly loaned from her. This
upon application with the court trying could prejudice even the petitioners Notice of Claim
the latter case. If the application is involving the same amount filed in Special
granted, the trial of both actions shall Proceedings No. 98-88390 (Petition for Voluntary
proceed in accordance with section 2 Insolvency by Kolin Enterprises, William Sy and
of this Rule governing consolidation Tessie Sy), which case was reportedly archived for
of the civil and criminal actions. failure to prosecute the petition for an unreasonable
length of time.[21] Expectedly, respondents would
raise the same defense that petitioner had already
Petitioner is in error when she insists that the 2000 elected to litigate the civil action to recover the
Rules on Criminal Procedure should not apply amount of the checks along with the BP Blg. 22
because she filed her BP Blg. 22 complaints in cases.
1999. It is now settled that rules of procedure apply
even to cases already pending at the time of their It is in this light that we find petitioners contention
promulgation. The fact that procedural statutes may that she was not assisted by a private prosecutor
somehow affect the litigants rights does not preclude during the BP Blg. 22 proceedings critical. Petitioner
their retroactive application to pending actions. It is indirectly protests that the public prosecutor failed to
axiomatic that the retroactive application of protect and prosecute her cause when he failed to
procedural laws does not violate any right of a have her establish the identities of the accused
person who may feel that he is adversely affected, during the trial and when he failed to appeal the civil
nor is it constitutionally objectionable. The reason for action deemed impliedly instituted with the BP Blg.
this is that, as a general rule, no vested right may 22 cases. On this ground, we agree with petitioner.
attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws.[18]
Faced with the dismissal of the BP Blg. 22
Indeed, under the present revised Rules, the cases, petitioners recourse pursuant to the
criminal action for violation of BP Blg. 22 includes prevailing rules of procedure would have been to
the corresponding civil action to recover the amount appeal the civil action to recover the amount loaned
of the checks. It should be stressed, this policy is to respondents corresponding to the bounced
intended to discourage the separate filing of the civil checks.Hence, the said civil action may proceed
action. In fact, the Rules even prohibits the requiring only a preponderance of evidence on the
reservation of a separate civil action, i.e., one can no part of petitioner. Her failure to appeal within the
longer file a separate civil case after the criminal reglementary period was tantamount to a waiver
complaint is filed in court. The only instance when altogether of the remedy to recover the civil liability
separate proceedings are allowed is when the civil of respondents. However, due to the gross mistake
action is filed ahead of the criminal case. Even then, of the prosecutor in the BP Blg. 22 cases, we are
the Rules encourages the consolidation of the civil constrained to digress from this rule.
and criminal cases. Thus, where petitioners rights
may be fully adjudicated in the proceedings before It is true that clients are bound by the mistakes,
the court trying the BP Blg. 22 cases, resort to a negligence and omission of their counsel.[22] But this
separate action to recover civil liability is clearly rule admits of exceptions (1) where the counsels
unwarranted on account of res judicata, for failure of mistake is so great and serious that the client is
petitioner to appeal the civil aspect of the cases. In prejudiced and denied his day in court, or (2) where
view of this special rule governing actions for the counsel is guilty of gross negligence resulting in
violation of BP Blg. 22, Article 31 of the Civil Code is the clients deprivation of liberty or property without
not applicable.[19] due process of law.[23] Tested against these
guidelines, we hold that petitioners lot falls within the
Be it remembered that rules governing procedure exceptions.
before the courts, while not cast in stone, are for the
speedy, efficient, and orderly dispensation of justice It is an oft-repeated exhortation to counsels
and should therefore be adhered to in order to attain to be well-informed of existing laws and rules and to
this objective.[20] keep abreast with legal developments, recent
enactments and jurisprudence. Unless they faithfully
comply with such duty, they may not be able to
discharge competently and diligently their
obligations as members of the Bar.[24] Further, WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Civil
lawyers in the government service are expected to Case No. 05-112452 entitled Anita Cheng v.
be more conscientious in the performance of their Spouses William Sy and Tessie Sy is hereby
duties as they are subject to public scrutiny. They ordered REINSTATED. No pronouncement as to
are not only members of the Bar but are also public costs.
servants who owe utmost fidelity to public
service.[25] Apparently, the public prosecutor SO ORDERED.
neglected to equip himself with the knowledge of the
proper procedure for BP Blg. 22 cases under the
2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure such that he
failed to appeal the civil action impliedly instituted
with the BP Blg. 22 cases, the only remaining
remedy available to petitioner to be able to recover
the money she loaned to respondents, upon the
dismissal of the criminal cases on demurrer. By this
failure, petitioner was denied her day in court to
prosecute the respondents for their obligation to pay
their loan.

Moreover, we take into consideration the trial Republic of the Philippines


courts observation when it dismissed the estafa SUPREME COURT
charge in Criminal Case No. 98-969953 that if there Baguio City
was any liability on the part of respondents, it was
civil in nature. Hence, if the loan be proven true, the THIRD DIVISION
inability of petitioner to recover the loaned amount
would be tantamount to unjust enrichment of G.R. No. 189649 April 20, 2015
respondents, as they may now conveniently evade
payment of their obligation merely on account of a ADORACION CARO LINO (spouse and in
technicality applied against petitioner. substitution of the deceased JEREMIAS A.
CAROLINO),Petitioner,
There is unjust enrichment when (1) a person vs.
is unjustly benefited, and (2) such benefit is derived GEN. GENEROSO SENGA, as Chief of Staff of
at the expense of or with damages to another. This the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP);
doctrine simply means that a person shall not be BRIG GEN. FERNANDO ZABAT, as Chief of the
allowed to profit or enrich himself inequitably at AFP Finance Center; COMMO. REYNALDO
anothers expense. One condition for invoking this BASILIO, as Chief of the AFP-GHQ Management
principle of unjust enrichment is that the aggrieved and Fiscal Office; and COMMO. EMILIO
party has no other recourse based on contract, MARAYAG, Pension and Gratuity Officer,
quasi-contract, crime, quasi-delict or any other Pension and Gratuity Management Center, AFP
provision of law.[26] Finance Center, Respondents.
Court litigations are primarily designed to
DECISION
search for the truth, and a liberal interpretation and
application of the rules which will give the parties the
fullest opportunity to adduce proof is the best way to PERALTA, J.:
ferret out the truth. The dispensation of justice and
vindication of legitimate grievances should not be Before us is a petition for review under Rule 45
barred by technicalities.[27] For reasons of seeking to reverse and set aside the
substantial justice and equity, as the complement of Decision1 dated May 25, 2009 of the Court of
the legal jurisdiction that seeks to dispense justice Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 103502 and the
where courts of law, through the inflexibility of their Resolution2 dated September 10, 2009 denying
rules and want of power to adapt their judgments to reconsideration thereof.
the special circumstances of cases, are incompetent
to do so,[28] we thus rule, pro hac vice, in favor of The factual and legal antecedents are as follows:
petitioner.
On December 1, 1976, Jeremias A. Carolino, Management Center, AFP Finance Center, seeking
petitioner's husband, Retired3 from the Armed reinstatement of his name in the list of the AFP
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with the rank of retired officers, resumption of payment of his
Colonel under General Order No. 1208 dated retirement benefits under RA No. 340, and the
November 29, 1976, pursuant to the provisions of reimbursement of all his retirement pay and
Sections 1(A) and 10 of Republic Act (RA) No. benefits which accrued from March 5, 2005 up to
340,4 as amended. He started receiving his monthly the time his name is reinstated and, thereafter, with
retirement pay in the amount of P18,315.00 in claim for damages and attorney's fees. The case
December 1976 until the same was withheld by was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-06-58686, and
respondents in March 2005. On June 3, 2005, raffled off to Branch 220.
Jeremias wrote a letter5 addressed to the AFP
Chief of Staff asking for the reasons of the On February 26, 2007, the RTC rendered its
withholding of his retirement pay. In a letter Decision10 granting the petition for mandamus, the
reply,6 Myrna F. Villaruz, LTC (FS) PA, Pension dispositive portion of which reads:
and Gratuity Officer of the AFP Finance Center,
informed Jeremias that his loss of Filipino WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered
citizenship caused the deletion of his name in the ordering General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., as
alpha list of the AFP Pensioners Payroll effective Chief of Staff of the AFP, Brigadier General
March 5, 2005; and that he could avail of re- Fernando Zabat, as the Commanding Officer of the
entitlement to his retirement benefits and the AFP Finance Center, Commodore Reynaldo
restoration of his name in the AFP Pensioners' Basilio, as Chief of the AFP-GHQ Management and
Master list Payroll by complying with the Fiscal Office, and Captain Theresa M. Nicdao, as
requirements prescribed under RA No. 9225, or the Pension and Gratuity Officer of the Pension and
Dual Citizenship Act. Gratuity Management Center, or any of their
respective successors and those taking instructions
It appeared that the termination of Jeremias' from them as agents or subordinates, to:
pension was done pursuant to Disposition
Form7 dated October 29, 2004,which was approved a. immediately reinstate the name of
by the Chief of Staff and made effective in January petitioner in the list of retired AFP Officers,
2005. In the said Disposition Form, the AFP Judge and to resume payment of his retirement
Advocate General opined that under the provisions benefits under RA 340; and
of Sections 4, 5, and 6 of RA No. 340, retired
military personnel are disqualified from receiving b. release to [petitioner] all retirement
pension benefits once incapable to render military benefits due him under RA 340 which
service as a result of his having sworn allegiance to accrued to him from March 2005
a foreign country. It was also mentioned that continuously up to the time his name is
termination of retirement benefits of pensioner of reinstated in the list of AFP retired officers.11
the AFP could be done pursuant to the provisions
of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 16388which The RTC found that the issue for resolution is the
provides that the name of a retiree who loses his applicability of RA No. 340 and PD No. 1638 upon
Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the Jeremias' retirement benefits. It found that he
retired list and his retirement benefits terminated retired as a commissioned officer of the AFP in
upon such loss. It being in consonance with the 1976; thus, RA No. 340 is the law applicable in
policy consideration that all retirement laws determining his entitlement to his retirement
inconsistent with the provisions of PD No. 1638 are benefits and not PD No. 1638 which was issued
repealed and modified accordingly. only in 1979. Article 4 of the Civil Code provides
that "laws shall have no retroactive effect unless
On August 24, 2006, Jeremias filed with the the contrary is provided." PD No. 1638 does not
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, a provide for such retroactive application. Also, it
Petition for Mandamus9against Gen. Generoso could not have been the intendment of PD No.
Senga, as Chief of Staff of the AFP, Brig. Gen. 1638 to deprive its loyal soldiers of a monthly
Fernando Zabat, as Chief of the AFP Finance pension during their old age especially where, as
Center, Comm. Reynaldo Basilio, as Chief of the here, the right had been vested to them through
AFP- GHQ Management and Fiscal Office, and time. RA No. 340 does not provide that the loss of
Comm. Emilio Marayag, Pension and Gratuity Filipino citizenship would terminate one's retirement
Management Officer, Pension and Gratuity benefits; and that PD No. 1638 does not reduce
whatever benefits that any person has already RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS
been receiving under existing law. COMMITTED GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR IN
RENDERING THE ASSAILED DECISION AND
Respondents sought reconsideration,12 but the RESOLUTION WHICH SET ASIDE AND
RTC denied the same in an Order13 dated May 25, REVERSED THE 26 FEBRUARY 2007 DECISION
2007, the decretal portion of which reads: OF THE QC RTC BECAUSE:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant PD 1638 should not have been applied and cannot
Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED, be used against petitioner as her husband's
considering that the questioned decision has not retirement and pension were granted to him by the
yet attained its finality. The Motion for Execution in AFP under RA 340 which was not superseded by
the meantime is hereby DENIED.14 PD 1638, a later statute.

Aggrieved, respondents elevated the case to the Petitioner correctly availed of the remedy of
CA. After the submission of the parties' respective mandamus to compel the reinstatement of his
memoranda, the case was submitted for decision. pension and benefits from the AFP under RA 340
as PD 1638 was not applicable to him. Petitioner
Jeremias died on September 30, 200715 and was contends that her husband's retirement from the
substituted by his wife, herein petitioner. On May active service in 1976 was pursuant to the
25, 2009, the CA granted respondents' appeal. The provisions of RA No. No. 340 as PD No. 1638 was
dispositive portion of the CA decision reads: not yet in existence then, and there was nothing in
RA No. 340 that disqualifies a retired military
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant personnel from receiving retirement benefits after
appeal is GRANTED. The appealed decision is acquiring foreign citizenship. The concept of
REVOKED and SET ASIDE.16 retirement benefits is such that one is entitled to
them for services already rendered and not for
In so ruling, the CA found that while it is true that those to be made at a future time. Retirement
Jeremias retired in 1976 under the provisions of RA benefits due petitioner's husband under RA No.
No. 340, as amended, which does not contain any 340, is an acquired right which cannot be taken
provision anent cessation or loss of retirement away by a subsequent law. PD No. 1638 does not
benefits upon acquiring another citizenship, PD No. expressly provide for its retroactive application.
1638, which was signed in 1979, effectively Respondents, being officers of the AFP tasked to
repealed RA No. 340, as amended. Section 27 of implement the provisions of RA No. 340 have
PD No. 1638, which provides that the name of a neglected their function thereunder by delisting
retiree who loses his Filipino citizenship shall be petitioner's husband as a retiree, thus, mandamus
removed from the retired list and his retirement is proper.
benefits terminated upon such loss, was correctly
made applicable to Jeremias' retirement benefits. In his Comment, the Solicitor General argues that
Logic dictates that since Jeremias had already PD No. 1638 applies to all military personnel in the
renounced his allegiance to the Philippines, he service of the AFP whether active or retired; hence,
cannot now be compelled by the State to render it applies retroactively to petitioner's husband. Even
active service and to render compulsory military when a retiree is no longer in the active service, his
service when the need arises. The CA found that being a Filipino still makes him a part of the Citizen
for the writ of mandamus to lie, it is essential that Armed Forces; that whether a military personnel
Jeremias should have a clear legal right to the thing retires under the provisions of RA No. 340 or under
demanded and it must be the imperative duty of PD No. 1638, he is still in the service of the military
respondents to perform the act required which and/or the State only that he is retired, thus, they
petitioner failed to show; thus, mandamus will not should not be treated differently upon the loss of
lie. Filipino citizenship. He argues when there is an
irreconcilable conflict between the two laws of
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied different vintages, i.e., RA No. 340 and PD No.
in a Resolution dated September 10, 2009. 1638, the latter enactment prevails.

Hence, this petition raising the following: The Solicitor General argues that mandamus will
not issue to enforce a right to compel compliance
with a duty which is questionable or over which a
substantial doubt exists. In this case, petitioner's We find that the CA erred in applying PD No. 1638
husband does not have a well-defined, clear and to the retirement benefits of petitioner's husband.
certain legal right to continuously receive retirement
benefits after becoming an American citizen. Firstly, PD No. 1638 was signed by then President
Likewise, the AFP does not have a clear and Ferdinand Marcos on September 10, 1979. Under
imperative duty to grant the said benefits Article 4 of the Civil Code, it is provided that laws
considering that Section 27 of PD No. 1638 shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary
provides that the name of a retiree who loses his is provided. It is said that the law looks to the future
Filipino citizenship shall be removed from the only and has no retroactive effect unless the
retired list and his retirement benefits terminated legislator may have formally given that effect to
upon such loss. some legal provisions;17 that all statutes are to be
construed as having only prospective operation,
Petitioner filed her reply thereto. unless the purpose and intention of the legislature
to give them a retrospective effect is expressly
We find merit in the petition. declared or is necessarily implied from the
language used; and that every case of doubt must
Petitioner's husband retired in1976 under RA No. be resolved against retrospective effect.18 These
340. He was already receiving his monthly principles also apply to amendments of statutes.
retirement benefit in the amount of P18,315.00
since December 1976 until it was terminated in PD No. 1638 does not contain any provision
March 2005. Section 5, RA No. 340 provides: regarding its retroactive application, nor the same
may be implied from its language. In fact, Section
Sec. 5. Officers and enlisted men placed in the 36 of PD No. 1638 clearly provides that the decree
retired list shall be subject to the rules and articles shall take effect upon its approval. As held in
of war and to trial by court-martial for any breach Parreo v. COA,19 there is no question that PD No.
thereof. At any time said officers and enlisted men 1638, as amended, applies prospectively. Since PD
may be called to active service by the President. No. 1638, as amended, is about the new system of
Refusal on the part of any officer or enlisted man to retirement and separation from service of military
perform such services shall terminate his right to personnel, it should apply to those who were in the
further participation in the benefits of this Act service at the time of its approval.20 Conversely, PD
provided he resides in the Philippines and is No. 1638 is not applicable to those who retired
physically fit for service. Such fitness for service before its effectivity in 1979. The rule is familiar that
shall be determined by applicable regulations. after an act is amended, the original act continues
to be in force with regard to all rights that had
The afore-quoted provision clearly shows how a accrued prior to such amendment.21
retiree's retirement benefits may be terminated, i.e.,
when the retiree refuses to perform active service Moreover, Section 27 of PD No. 1638 specifically
when called to do so provided that (1) the retiree provides for the retirees to whom the law shall be
resides in the Philippines and (2) is physically fit for applied, to wit:
service. There is no other requirement found in the
law which would be the reason for the termination Section 27. Military personnel retired under
of a retiree's retirement benefits. Petitioner's Sections 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 shall be carried in the
husband was never called to perform active service retired list of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
and refused to do so, however, his retirement The name of a retiree who loses his Filipino
benefit was terminated. The reason for such citizenship shall be removed from the retired list
termination was his loss of Filipino citizenship and his retirement benefits terminated upon such
based on Section 27 of PD No. 1638, to wit: loss. (emphasis supplied)

Section 27. Military personnel retired under Notably, petitioner's husband did not retire under
Sections 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 shall be carried in the those above-enumerated Sections of PD No. 1638
retired list of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. as he retired under RA No. 340.
The name of a retiree who loses his Filipino
citizenship shall be removed from the retired list Secondly, it has been held that before a right to
and his retirement benefits terminated upon such retirement benefits or pension vests in an
loss. employee, he must have met the stated conditions
of eligibility with respect to the nature of
employment, age, and length of demand, but also an exemption from new
service.22Undeniably, petitioner's husband had obligations after the right has vested.28
complied with the conditions of eligibility to
retirement benefits as he was then receiving his In fact, Sections 33 and 35 of PD No.1638
retirement benefits on a monthly basis until it was recognize such vested right, to wit:
terminated. Where the employee retires and meets
the eligibility requirements, he acquires a vested Section 33. Nothing in this Decree shall be
right to the benefits that is protected by the due construed in any manner to reduce whatever
process clause.23 It is only upon retirement that retirement and separation pay or gratuity or other
military personnel acquire a vested right to monetary benefits which any person is heretofore
retirement benefits.24 Retirees enjoy a protected receiving or is entitled to receive under the
property interest whenever they acquire a right to provisions of existing law.
immediate payment under pre-existing law.25
xxxx
In Ayog v. Cusi,26 we expounded the nature of a
vested right, thus: Section. 35. Except those necessary to give effect
to the provisions of this Decree and to preserve the
"A right is vested when the right to enjoyment has rights granted to retired or separated military
become the property of some particular person or personnel, all laws, rules and regulations
persons as a present interest" (16 C.J.S. inconsistent with the provisions of this Decree are
1173).1wphi1 It is "the privilege to enjoy property hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
legally vested, to enforce contracts, and enjoy the
rights of property conferred by the existing law" (12 Section 33 of PD No. 1638 is clear that the law has
C.J.S. 955, Note 46, No. 6) or "some right or no intention to reduce or to revoke whatever
interest in property which has become fixed and retirement benefits being enjoyed by a retiree at the
established and is no longer open to doubt or time of its passage. Hence, Section 35 provides for
controversy" (Downs vs. Blount 170 Fed. 15, 20, an exception to what the decree repealed or
cited in Balboa vs. Farrales, 51 Phil. 498, 502). modified, i.e., except those necessary to preserve
the rights granted to retired or separated military
The due process clause prohibits the annihilation of personnel.
vested rights. "A state may not impair vested rights
by legislative enactment, by the enactment or by We also find that the CA erred in finding that
the subsequent repeal of a municipal ordinance, or mandamus will not lie.
by a change in the constitution of the State, except
in a legitimate exercise of the police power" (16 Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court lay down
C.J.S. 1177-78). under what circumstances petition for mandamus
may be filed, to wit:
It has been observed that, generally, the term
"vested right" expresses the concept of present SEC. 3. Petition for mandamus. When any
fixed interest, which in right reason and natural tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person
justice should be protected against arbitrary State unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which
action, or an innately just and imperative right the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from
which an enlightened free society, sensitive to an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes
inherent and irrefragable individual rights, cannot another from the use and enjoyment of a right or
deny (16 C.J.S. 1174, Note 71, No. 5, citing office to which such other is entitled, and there is
Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, Inc. vs. Rosenthal, no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the
192 Atl. 2nd 587). 27 ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved
thereby may file a verified petition in the proper
Petitioner's husband acquired vested right to the court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying
payment of his retirement benefits which must be that judgment be rendered commanding the
respected and cannot be affected by the respondent, immediately or at some other time to
subsequent enactment of PD No. 1638 which be specified by the court, to do the act required to
provides that loss of Filipino citizenship terminates be done to protect the rights of the petitioner, and
retirement benefits. Vested rights include not only to pay the damages sustained by the petitioner by
legal or equitable title to the enforcement of a reason of the wrongful acts of the respondent.
A writ of mandamus can be issued only when
petitioners legal right to the performance of a
particular act which is sought to be compelled is
clear and complete. A clear legal right is a right
which is indubitably granted by law or is inferable
as a matter of law.29 A doctrine well-embedded in
our jurisprudence is that mandamus will issue only
when the petitioner has a clear legal right to the
performance of the act sought to be compelled and
the respondent has an imperative duty to perform
the same.30 The remedy of mandamus lies to
compel the performance of a ministerial duty.31 A
purely ministerial act or duty is one that an officer or
tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a
prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of
a legal authority, without regard to or the exercise
of its own judgment upon the propriety or
impropriety of the act done.32 If the law imposes a
duty upon a public officer, and gives him the right to
decide how or when the duty shall be performed,
such duty is discretionary and not ministerial.33

The petition for mandamus filed by petitioner's


husband with the RTC was for the payment of his
Republic of the Philippines
terminated retirement benefits, which has become
SUPREME COURT
vested, and being a ministerial duty on the part of
Manila
the respondents to pay such claim, mandamus is
the proper remedy to compel such payment.
FIRST DIVISION
The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative
remedies calls for resort first to the appropriate G.R. No. 150429 August 29, 2006
administrative authorities in the resolution of a
controversy falling under their jurisdiction before the ROBERTO G. FAMANILA, Petitioner,
same may be elevated to the courts of justice for vs.
review.34 However, the principle of exhaustion of THE COURT OF APPEALS (Spc. Fmr. Seventh
administrative remedies need not be adhered to Division) and BARBERSHIP MANAGEMENT
when the question is purely legal.35 This is because LIMITED and NFD INTERNATIONAL MANNING
issues of law cannot be resolved with finality by the AGENTS, INC. Respondents.
administrative officer.36 Appeal to the administrative
officer would only be an exercise in futility.37 Here,
the question raised is purely legal, i.e., what law
should be applied in the payment of retirement DECISION
benefits of petitioner's husband. Thus, there was no
need to exhaust all administrative remedies before YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
a judicial relief can be sought.
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailing the Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in
Decision dated May 25, 2009 and the Resolution CA-G.R. SP No. 50615 dated March 30, 2001 which
dated September 10, 2009 of the Court of Appeals affirmed the Decision 2 of the National Labor
are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Relations Commission (NLRC) dated March 31,
Decision dated February 26, 2007 of the Regional 1998 dismissing petitioners complaint for payment
Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 220, is of disability and other benefits for lack of merit and
AFFIRMED. the Resolution 3 dated October 5, 2001 of the Court
of Appeals denying petitioners motion for
SO ORDERED. reconsideration.
The antecedent facts are as follows: our ruling in St. Martin Funeral Home v. National
Labor Relations Commission. 13
In 1989, respondent NFD International Manning
Agents, Inc. hired the services of petitioner Roberto On March 30, 2001, the Court of Appeals
G. Famanila as Messman 4 for Hansa Riga, a vessel promulgated the assailed decision which dismissed
registered and owned by its principal and co- the petition for lack of merit. Petitioners motion for
respondent, Barbership Management Limited. reconsideration was denied, hence, the present
petition for review raising the following issues:
On June 21, 1990, while Hansa Riga was docked at
the port of Eureka, California, U.S.A. and while I. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE
petitioner was assisting in the loading operations, ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK
the latter complained of a headache. Petitioner OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN UPHOLDING
experienced dizziness and he subsequently THE VALIDITY OF THE RECEIPT AND RELEASE
collapsed. Upon examination, it was determined that SINCE PETITIONERS CONSENT THERETO WAS
he had a sudden attack of left cerebral hemorrhage VITIATED THEREBY MAKING THE SAME VOID
from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. 5 Petitioner AND UNENFORCEABLE.
underwent a brain operation and he was confined at
the Emmanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. II. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED
On July 19, 1990, he underwent a second brain GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING
operation. TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN
HOLDING THAT THE PRESCRIPTION PERIOD
Owing to petitioners physical and mental condition, APPLICABLE TO THE CLAIM OF THE
he was repatriated to the Philippines. On August 21, PETITIONER IS THE 3-YEAR PERIOD PROVIDED
1990, he was examined at the American Hospital in FOR UNDER THE LABOR CODE OF THE
Intramuros, Manila where the examining physician, PHILIPPINES AND NOT THE 10-YEAR PERIOD
Dr. Patricia Abesamis declared that he "cannot go PROVIDED FOR UNDER THE CIVIL CODE.
back to sea duty and has been observed for 120
days, he is being declared permanently, totally Petitioner claims that he did not sign the Receipt and
disabled." 6 Release voluntarily or freely because he was
permanently disabled and in financial constraints.
Thereafter, authorized representatives of the These factors allegedly vitiated his consent which
respondents convinced him to settle his claim makes the Receipt and Release void and
amicably by accepting the amount of unenforceable.
US$13,200. 7 Petitioner accepted the offer as
evidenced by his signature in the Receipt and The petition lacks merit.
Release dated February 28, 1991. 8 His wife, Gloria
Famanila and one Richard Famanila, acted as It is fundamental that the scope of the Supreme
witnesses in the signing of the release. Courts judicial review under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court is confined only to errors of law. It does not
On June 11, 1997, petitioner filed a complaint 9 with extend to questions of fact. More so in labor cases
the NLRC which was docketed as NLRC OCW Case where the doctrine applies with greater force. 14 The
No. 6-838-97-L praying for an award of disability Labor Arbiter and the NLRC have already
benefits, share in the insurance proceeds, moral determined the factual issues, and these were
damages and attorneys fees. On September 29, affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Thus, they are
1997, Acting Executive Labor Arbiter Voltaire A. accorded not only great respect but also finality and
Balitaan dismissed the complaint on the ground of are deemed binding upon this Court so long as they
prescription. Petitioner appealed the decision with are supported by substantial evidence. 15 We
the NLRC. On March 31, 1998, the NLRC reviewed the records of the case and we find no
promulgated its decision 10 finding the appeal to be reason to deviate from the findings of the labor
without merit and ordered its dismissal. When the arbiter, NLRC and the Court of Appeals.
motion for reconsideration 11 was denied by the
NLRC in its resolution dated June 29, A vitiated consent does not make a contract void and
1998, 12 petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with unenforceable. A vitiated consent only gives rise to
this Court. On December 2, 1998, we resolved to a voidable agreement. Under the Civil Code, the
refer the case to the Court of Appeals pursuant to vices of consent are mistake, violence, intimidation,
undue influence or fraud. 16 If consent is given
through any of the aforementioned vices of consent, must be recognized as a valid and binding
the contract is voidable. 17 A voidable contract is undertaking, 22 as in this case.
binding unless annulled by a proper action in
court. 18 To be valid and effective, waivers must be couched
in clear and unequivocal terms, leaving no doubt as
Petitioner contends that his permanent and total to the intention of those giving up a right or a benefit
disability vitiated his consent to the Receipt and that legally pertains to them. 23 We have reviewed
Release thereby rendering it void and the terms and conditions contained in the Receipt
unenforceable. However, disability is not among the and Release and we find the same to be clear and
factors that may vitiate consent. Besides, save for unambiguous. The signing was even witnessed by
petitioners self-serving allegations, there is no proof petitioners wife, Gloria T. Famanila and one Richard
on record that his consent was vitiated on account of T. Famanila. The Receipt and Release provides in
his disability. In the absence of such proof of vitiated part:
consent, the validity of the Receipt and Release
must be upheld. We agree with the findings of the That for and in consideration of the sum of
Court of Appeals that: THIRTEEN THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED
DOLLARS (US$13,200.00) or its equivalent in
In the case at bar, there is nothing in the records to Philippine currency THREE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE
show that petitioners consent was vitiated when he THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FOUR PESOS
signed the agreement. Granting that petitioner has (365,904.00), the receipt of which is hereby
not fully recovered his health at the time he signed acknowledged to my full and complete satisfaction x
the subject document, the same cannot still lead to x x I, ROBERTO G. FAMANILA, x x x hereby remise,
the conclusion that he did not voluntar[il]y accept the release and forever discharge said vessel "HANSA
agreement, for his wife and another relative RIGA", her Owners, operators, managers,
witnessed his signing. charterers, agents, underwriters, P and I Club,
master, officers, and crew and all parties at interest
Moreover, the document entitled receipt and release therein or thereon, whether named or not named,
which was attached by petitioner in his appeal does including but not limited to BARBER SHIP
not show on its face any violation of law or public MANAGEMENT LIMITED, NFD INTERNATIONAL
policy. In fact, petitioner did not present any proof to MANNING AGENTS, INC. and
show that the consideration for the same is not ASSURANCEFORENIGEN GARD from any and all
reasonable and acceptable. Absent any evidence to claims, demands, debts, dues, liens, actions or
support the same, the Court cannot, on its own causes of action, at law or in equity, in common law
accord, decide against the unreasonableness of the or in admiralty, statutory or contractual, arising from
consideration. 19 and under the laws of the United States of America,
Norway, Hongkong or the Republic of the
It is true that quitclaims and waivers are oftentimes Philippines and/or any other foreign country now
frowned upon and are considered as ineffective in held, owned or possessed by me or by any person
barring recovery for the full measure of the workers or persons, arising from or related to or concerning
right and that acceptance of the benefits therefrom whether directly or indirectly, proximately or
does not amount to estoppel. 20 The reason is plain. remotely, without being limited to but including the
Employer and employee, obviously do not stand on said illness suffered by me on board the vessel
the same footing. 21However, not all waivers and "HANSA RIGA" on or about 21st June 1990 at
quitclaims are invalid as against public policy. If the Portland, Oregon and disability compensation in
agreement was voluntarily entered into and connection therewith.
represents a reasonable settlement, it is binding on
the parties and may not later be disowned simply This instrument is a GENERAL RELEASE intended
because of change of mind. It is only where there is to release all liabilities of any character and/or claims
clear proof that the waiver was wangled from an or damages and/or losses and/or any other liabilities
unsuspecting or gullible person, or the terms of the whatsoever, whether contractual or statutory, at
settlement are unconscionable on its face, that the common law or in equity, tortious or in admiralty,
law will step in to annul the questionable transaction. now or henceforth in any way related to or occurring
But where it is shown that the person making the as a consequence of the illness suffered by me as
waiver did so voluntarily, with full understanding of Messman of the vessel "HANSA RIGA", including
what he was doing, and the consideration for the but not limited to all damages and/or losses
quitclaim is credible and reasonable, the transaction consisting of loss of support, loss of earning
capacity, loss of all benefits of whatsoever nature WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The
and extent incurred, physical pain and suffering Decision of the Court of Appeals dated March 30,
and/or all damages and/or indemnities claimable in 2001 in CA-G.R. SP No. 50615 which affirmed the
law, tort, contract, common law, equity and/or Decision of the National Labor Relations
admiralty by me or by any person or persons Commission dismissing petitioners complaint for
pursuant to the laws of the United States of America, disability and other benefits for lack of merit, and
Norway, Hongkong or the Republic of the
Philippines and of all other countries whatsoever. the Resolution dated October 5, 2001 denying the
motion for reconsideration, are AFFIRMED.
I hereby certify that I am of legal age and that I fully
understand this instrument which was read to me in SO ORDERED.
the local dialect and I agree that this is a FULL AND
FINAL RELEASE AND DISCHARGE of all parties CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
and things referred to herein, and I further agree that
this release may be pleaded as an absolute and final
bar to any suit or suits or legal proceedings that may
hereafter be prosecuted by me or by any one
claiming by, through, or under me, against any of the
persons or things

referred to or related herein, for any matter or thing


referred to or related herein. 24

It is elementary that a contract is perfected by mere Republic of the Philippines


consent and from that moment the parties are bound SUPREME COURT
not only to the fulfillment of what has been expressly Manila
stipulated but also to all the consequences which,
according to their nature, may be in keeping with
FIRST DIVISION
good faith, usage and law. 25 Further, dire necessity
is not an acceptable ground for annulling the Receipt
and Release since it has not been shown that G.R. No. 163707 September 15, 2006
petitioner was forced to sign it. 26
MICHAEL C. GUY, petitioner,
Regarding prescription, the applicable prescriptive vs.
period for the money claims against the respondents HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. SIXTO
is the three year period pursuant to Article 291 of the MARELLA, JR., Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch
Labor Code which provides that: 138, Makati City and minors, KAREN DANES
WEI and KAMILLE DANES WEI, represented by
their mother, REMEDIOS OANES, respondents.
ART. 291. Money Claims. All money claims arising
from employer-employee relations accruing during
the effectivity of this Code shall be filed within three DECISION
(3) years from the time the cause of action accrued;
otherwise they shall be forever barred. YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

xxxx This petition for review on certiorari assails the


January 22, 2004 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals
Since petitioners demand for an award of disability in CA-G.R. SP No. 79742, which affirmed the
benefits is a money claim arising from his Orders dated July 21, 20002 and July 17, 20033 of
employment, Article 291 of the Labor Code applies. the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 138
From the time petitioner was declared permanently in SP Proc. Case No. 4549 denying petitioner's
and totally disabled on August 21, 1990 which gave motion to dismiss; and its May 25, 2004
rise to his entitlement to disability benefits up to the Resolution4 denying petitioner's motion for
time that he filed the complaint on June 11, 1997, reconsideration.
more than three years have elapsed thereby
effectively barring his claim. The facts are as follows:
On June 13, 1997, private respondent-minors The Regional Trial Court denied the Joint Motion to
Karen Oanes Wei and Kamille Oanes Wei, Dismiss as well as the Supplemental Motion to
represented by their mother Remedios Oanes Dismiss. It ruled that while the Release and Waiver
(Remedios), filed a petition for letters of of Claim was signed by Remedios, it had not been
administration5 before the Regional Trial Court of established that she was the duly constituted
Makati City, Branch 138. The case was docketed guardian of her minor daughters. Thus, no
as Sp. Proc. No. 4549 and entitled Intestate Estate renunciation of right occurred. Applying a liberal
of Sima Wei (a.k.a. Rufino Guy Susim). application of the rules, the trial court also rejected
petitioner's objections on the certification against
Private respondents alleged that they are the duly forum shopping.
acknowledged illegitimate children of Sima Wei,
who died intestate in Makati City on October 29, Petitioner moved for reconsideration but was
1992, leaving an estate valued at P10,000,000.00 denied. He filed a petition for certiorari before the
consisting of real and personal properties. His Court of Appeals which affirmed the orders of the
known heirs are his surviving spouse Shirley Guy Regional Trial Court in its assailed Decision dated
and children, Emy, Jeanne, Cristina, George and January 22, 2004, the dispositive portion of which
Michael, all surnamed Guy. Private respondents states:
prayed for the appointment of a regular
administrator for the orderly settlement of Sima WHEREFORE, premises considered, the
Wei's estate. They likewise prayed that, in the present petition is hereby DENIED DUE
meantime, petitioner Michael C. Guy, son of the COURSE and accordingly DISMISSED, for
decedent, be appointed as Special Administrator of lack of merit. Consequently, the assailed
the estate. Attached to private respondents' petition Orders dated July 21, 2000 and July 17,
was a Certification Against Forum 2003 are hereby both AFFIRMED.
Shopping6 signed by their counsel, Atty. Sedfrey A. Respondent Judge is hereby DIRECTED to
Ordoez. resolve the controversy over the illegitimate
filiation of the private respondents (sic)
In his Comment/Opposition,7 petitioner prayed for minors [-] Karen Oanes Wei and Kamille
the dismissal of the petition. He asserted that his Oanes Wei who are claiming successional
deceased father left no debts and that his estate rights in the intestate estate of the deceased
can be settled without securing letters of Sima Wei, a.k.a. Rufino Guy Susim.
administration pursuant to Section 1, Rule 74 of the
Rules of Court. He further argued that private SO ORDERED.10
respondents should have established their status
as illegitimate children during the lifetime of Sima The Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for
Wei pursuant to Article 175 of the Family Code. reconsideration, hence, this petition.

The other heirs of Sima Wei filed a Joint Motion to Petitioner argues that the Court of Appeals
Dismiss8 on the ground that the certification against disregarded existing rules on certification against
forum shopping should have been signed by private forum shopping; that the Release and Waiver of
respondents and not their counsel. They contended Claim executed by Remedios released and
that Remedios should have executed the discharged the Guy family and the estate of Sima
certification on behalf of her minor daughters as Wei from any claims or liabilities; and that private
mandated by Section 5, Rule 7 of the Rules of respondents do not have the legal personality to
Court. institute the petition for letters of administration as
they failed to prove their filiation during the lifetime
In a Manifestation/Motion as Supplement to the of Sima Wei in accordance with Article 175 of the
Joint Motion to Dismiss,9 petitioner and his co-heirs Family Code.
alleged that private respondents' claim had been
paid, waived, abandoned or otherwise extinguished Private respondents contend that their counsel's
by reason of Remedios' June 7, 1993 Release and certification can be considered substantial
Waiver of Claim stating that in exchange for the compliance with the rules on certification of non-
financial and educational assistance received from forum shopping, and that the petition raises no new
petitioner, Remedios and her minor children issues to warrant the reversal of the decisions of
discharge the estate of Sima Wei from any and all the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals.
liabilities.
The issues for resolution are: 1) whether private such waiver will not bar the latter's claim. Article
respondents' petition should be dismissed for 1044 of the Civil Code, provides:
failure to comply with the rules on certification of
non-forum shopping; 2) whether the Release and ART. 1044. Any person having the free
Waiver of Claim precludes private respondents disposal of his property may accept or
from claiming their successional rights; and 3) repudiate an inheritance.
whether private respondents are barred by
prescription from proving their filiation. Any inheritance left to minors or
incapacitated persons may be accepted
The petition lacks merit. by their parents or guardians. Parents or
guardians may repudiate the inheritance
Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court provides left to their wards only by judicial
that the certification of non-forum shopping should authorization.
be executed by the plaintiff or the principal party.
Failure to comply with the requirement shall be The right to accept an inheritance left to the
cause for dismissal of the case. However, a liberal poor shall belong to the persons designated
application of the rules is proper where the higher by the testator to determine the
interest of justice would be served. In Sy Chin v. beneficiaries and distribute the property, or
Court of Appeals,11 we ruled that while a petition in their default, to those mentioned in Article
may have been flawed where the certificate of non- 1030. (Emphasis supplied)
forum shopping was signed only by counsel and
not by the party, this procedural lapse may be Parents and guardians may not therefore repudiate
overlooked in the interest of substantial the inheritance of their wards without judicial
justice.12 So it is in the present controversy where approval. This is because repudiation amounts to
the merits13 of the case and the absence of an an alienation of property16 which must pass the
intention to violate the rules with impunity should be court's scrutiny in order to protect the interest of the
considered as compelling reasons to temper the ward. Not having been judicially authorized, the
strict application of the rules. Release and Waiver of Claim in the instant case is
void and will not bar private respondents from
As regards Remedios' Release and Waiver of asserting their rights as heirs of the deceased.
Claim, the same does not bar private respondents
from claiming successional rights. To be valid and Furthermore, it must be emphasized that waiver is
effective, a waiver must be couched in clear and the intentional relinquishment of a known right.
unequivocal terms which leave no doubt as to the Where one lacks knowledge of a right, there is no
intention of a party to give up a right or benefit basis upon which waiver of it can rest. Ignorance of
which legally pertains to him. A waiver may not be a material fact negates waiver, and waiver cannot
attributed to a person when its terms do not be established by a consent given under a mistake
explicitly and clearly evince an intent to abandon a or misapprehension of fact.17
right.14
In the present case, private respondents could not
In this case, we find that there was no waiver of have possibly waived their successional rights
hereditary rights. The Release and Waiver of Claim because they are yet to prove their status as
does not state with clarity the purpose of its acknowledged illegitimate children of the deceased.
execution. It merely states that Remedios received Petitioner himself has consistently denied that
P300,000.00 and an educational plan for her minor private respondents are his co-heirs. It would thus
daughters "by way of financial assistance and in full be inconsistent to rule that they waived their
settlement of any and all claims of whatsoever hereditary rights when petitioner claims that they do
nature and kind x x x against the estate of the late not have such right. Hence, petitioner's invocation
Rufino Guy Susim."15 Considering that the of waiver on the part of private respondents must
document did not specifically mention private fail.
respondents' hereditary share in the estate of Sima
Wei, it cannot be construed as a waiver of Anent the issue on private respondents' filiation, we
successional rights. agree with the Court of Appeals that a ruling on the
same would be premature considering that private
Moreover, even assuming that Remedios truly respondents have yet to present evidence. Before
waived the hereditary rights of private respondents, the Family Code took effect, the governing law on
actions for recognition of illegitimate children was ART. 173. The action to claim legitimacy
Article 285 of the Civil Code, to wit: may be brought by the child during his or
her lifetime and shall be transmitted to the
ART. 285. The action for the recognition of heirs should the child die during minority or
natural children may be brought only during in a state of insanity. In these cases, the
the lifetime of the presumed parents, except heirs shall have a period of five years within
in the following cases: which to institute the action.

(1) If the father or mother died during the The action already commenced by the child
minority of the child, in which case the shall survive notwithstanding the death of
latter may file the action before the either or both of the parties.
expiration of four years from the
attainment of his majority; ART. 175. Illegitimate children may
establish their illegitimate filiation in the
(2) If after the death of the father or of the same way and on the same, evidence as
mother a document should appear of which legitimate children.
nothing had been heard and in which either
or both parents recognize the child. The action must be brought within the same
period specified in Article 173, except when
In this case, the action must be commenced the action is based on the second
within four years from the finding of the paragraph of Article 172, in which case the
document. (Emphasis supplied) action may be brought during the lifetime of
the alleged parent.
We ruled in Bernabe v. Alejo18 that illegitimate
children who were still minors at the time the Family Under the Family Code, when filiation of an
Code took effect and whose putative parent died illegitimate child is established by a record of birth
during their minority are given the right to seek appearing in the civil register or a final judgment, or
recognition for a period of up to four years from an admission of filiation in a public document or a
attaining majority age. This vested right was not private handwritten instrument signed by the parent
impaired or taken away by the passage of the concerned, the action for recognition may be
Family Code.19 brought by the child during his or her lifetime.
However, if the action is based upon open and
On the other hand, Articles 172, 173 and 175 of the continuous possession of the status of an
Family Code, which superseded Article 285 of the illegitimate child, or any other means allowed by the
Civil Code, provide: rules or special laws, it may only be brought during
the lifetime of the alleged parent.
ART. 172. The filiation of legitimate children
is established by any of the following: It is clear therefore that the resolution of the issue
of prescription depends on the type of evidence to
(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil be adduced by private respondents in proving their
register or a final judgment; or filiation. However, it would be impossible to
determine the same in this case as there has been
(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a no reception of evidence yet. This Court is not a
public document or a private handwritten trier of facts. Such matters may be resolved only by
instrument and signed by the parent the Regional Trial Court after a full-blown trial.
concerned.
While the original action filed by private
In the absence of the foregoing evidence, respondents was a petition for letters of
the legitimate filiation shall be proved by: administration, the trial court is not precluded from
receiving evidence on private respondents' filiation.
Its jurisdiction extends to matters incidental and
(1) The open and continuous possession of
collateral to the exercise of its recognized powers in
the status of a legitimate child; or
handling the settlement of the estate, including the
determination of the status of each heir.20 That the
(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules two causes of action, one to compel recognition
of Court and special laws. and the other to claim inheritance, may be joined in
one complaint is not new in our jurisprudence.21 As denial of petitioner's motion to dismiss; and its
held in Briz v. Briz:22 Resolution dated May 25, 2004 denying petitioner's
motion for reconsideration, are AFFIRMED. Let the
The question whether a person in the records be REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court
position of the present plaintiff can in any of Makati City, Branch 138 for further proceedings.
event maintain a complex action to compel
recognition as a natural child and at the SO ORDERED.
same time to obtain ulterior relief in the
character of heir, is one which in the opinion
of this court must be answered in the
affirmative, provided always that the
conditions justifying the joinder of the two
distinct causes of action are present in the
particular case. In other words, there is no
absolute necessity requiring that the action
to compel acknowledgment should have
been instituted and prosecuted to a
successful conclusion prior to the action in Republic of the Philippines
which that same plaintiff seeks additional SUPREME COURT
relief in the character of heir. Certainly, Manila
there is nothing so peculiar to the action to
compel acknowledgment as to require that a
FIRST DIVISION
rule should be here applied different from
that generally applicable in other cases. x x
x G.R. No. 174689 October 22, 2007

The conclusion above stated, though not ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES


heretofore explicitly formulated by this court, SILVERIO, petitioner,
is undoubtedly to some extent supported by vs.
our prior decisions. Thus, we have held in REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
numerous cases, and the doctrine must be
considered well settled, that a natural child DECISION
having a right to compel acknowledgment,
but who has not been in fact acknowledged, CORONA, J.:
may maintain partition proceedings for the
division of the inheritance against his When God created man, He made him in the
coheirs (Siguiong vs. Siguiong, 8 Phil., 5; likeness of God; He created them male and
Tiamson vs. Tiamson, 32 Phil., 62); and the female. (Genesis 5:1-2)
same person may intervene in proceedings
for the distribution of the estate of his Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed
deceased natural father, or mother planted by Bathala and she heard voices
(Capistrano vs. Fabella, 8 Phil., 135; Conde coming from inside the bamboo. "Oh North
vs. Abaya, 13 Phil., 249; Ramirez vs. Gmur, Wind! North Wind! Please let us out!," the
42 Phil., 855). In neither of these situations voices said. She pecked the reed once, then
has it been thought necessary for the twice. All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked
plaintiff to show a prior decree compelling and slit open. Out came two human beings;
acknowledgment. The obvious reason is one was a male and the other was a female.
that in partition suits and distribution Amihan named the man "Malakas" (Strong)
proceedings the other persons who might and the woman "Maganda" (Beautiful). (The
take by inheritance are before the court; and Legend of Malakas and Maganda)
the declaration of heirship is appropriate to
such proceedings. When is a man a man and when is a woman a
woman? In particular, does the law recognize the
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The changes made by a physician using scalpel, drugs
Decision dated January 22, 2004 of the Court of and counseling with regard to a persons sex? May
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79742 affirming the a person successfully petition for a change of name
and sex appearing in the birth certificate to reflect On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a
the result of a sex reassignment surgery? decision4 in favor of petitioner. Its relevant portions
read:
On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto
Dantes Silverio filed a petition for the change of his Petitioner filed the present petition not to
first name and sex in his birth certificate in the evade any law or judgment or any infraction
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The thereof or for any unlawful motive but solely
petition, docketed as SP Case No. 02-105207, for the purpose of making his birth records
impleaded the civil registrar of Manila as compatible with his present sex.
respondent.
The sole issue here is whether or not
Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in petitioner is entitled to the relief asked for.
the City of Manila to the spouses Melecio Petines
Silverio and Anita Aquino Dantes on April 4, 1962. The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative.
His name was registered as "Rommel Jacinto
Dantes Silverio" in his certificate of live birth (birth Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that
certificate). His sex was registered as "male." granting the petition would be more in
consonance with the principles of justice and
He further alleged that he is a male transsexual, that equity. With his sexual [re-assignment],
is, "anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts as a petitioner, who has always felt, thought and
female" and that he had always identified himself acted like a woman, now possesses the
with girls since childhood.1 Feeling trapped in a physique of a female. Petitioners misfortune
mans body, he consulted several doctors in the to be trapped in a mans body is not his own
United States. He underwent psychological doing and should not be in any way taken
examination, hormone treatment and breast against him.
augmentation. His attempts to transform himself to a
"woman" culminated on January 27, 2001 when he Likewise, the [c]ourt believes that no harm,
underwent sex reassignment surgery2 in Bangkok, injury [or] prejudice will be caused to
Thailand. He was thereafter examined by Dr. anybody or the community in granting the
Marcelino Reysio-Cruz, Jr., a plastic and petition. On the contrary, granting the petition
reconstruction surgeon in the Philippines, who would bring the much-awaited happiness on
issued a medical certificate attesting that he the part of the petitioner and her [fianc] and
(petitioner) had in fact undergone the procedure. the realization of their dreams.

From then on, petitioner lived as a female and was Finally, no evidence was presented to show
in fact engaged to be married. He then sought to any cause or ground to deny the present
have his name in his birth certificate changed from petition despite due notice and publication
"Rommel Jacinto" to "Mely," and his sex from "male" thereof. Even the State, through the [OSG]
to "female." has not seen fit to interpose any [o]pposition.

An order setting the case for initial hearing was WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered
published in the Peoples Journal Tonight, a GRANTING the petition and ordering the
newspaper of general circulation in Metro Manila, for Civil Registrar of Manila to change the
three consecutive weeks.3 Copies of the order were entries appearing in the Certificate of Birth of
sent to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and [p]etitioner, specifically for petitioners first
the civil registrar of Manila. name from "Rommel Jacinto" to MELY and
petitioners gender from "Male"
On the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional to FEMALE. 5
requirements were established. No opposition to the
petition was made. On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines
(Republic), thru the OSG, filed a petition for certiorari
During trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also in the Court of Appeals.6 It alleged that there is no
presented Dr. Reysio-Cruz, Jr. and his American law allowing the change of entries in the birth
fianc, Richard P. Edel, as witnesses. certificate by reason of sex alteration.
On February 23, 2006, the Court of without a judicial order, except for clerical or
Appeals7 rendered a decision8 in favor of the typographical errors and change of first
Republic. It ruled that the trial courts decision lacked name or nickname which can be corrected or
legal basis. There is no law allowing the change of changed by the concerned city or municipal
either name or sex in the certificate of birth on the civil registrar or consul general in
ground of sex reassignment through surgery. Thus, accordance with the provisions of this Act
the Court of Appeals granted the Republics petition, and its implementing rules and regulations.
set aside the decision of the trial court and ordered
the dismissal of SP Case No. 02-105207. Petitioner RA 9048 now governs the change of first name.14 It
moved for reconsideration but it was vests the power and authority to entertain petitions
denied.9 Hence, this petition. for change of first name to the city or municipal civil
registrar or consul general concerned. Under the
Petitioner essentially claims that the change of his law, therefore, jurisdiction over applications for
name and sex in his birth certificate is allowed under change of first name is now primarily lodged with the
Articles 407 to 413 of the Civil Code, Rules 103 and aforementioned administrative officers. The intent
108 of the Rules of Court and RA 9048.10 and effect of the law is to exclude the change of first
name from the coverage of Rules 103 (Change of
The petition lacks merit. Name) and 108 (Cancellation or Correction of
Entries in the Civil Registry) of the Rules of Court,
A Persons First Name Cannot Be Changed On until and unless an administrative petition for change
the Ground of Sex Reassignment of name is first filed and subsequently denied.15 It
likewise lays down the corresponding
Petitioner invoked his sex reassignment as the venue,16 form17 and procedure. In sum, the remedy
ground for his petition for change of name and sex. and the proceedings regulating change of first name
As found by the trial court: are primarily administrative in nature, not judicial.

Petitioner filed the present petition not to RA 9048 likewise provides the grounds for which
evade any law or judgment or any infraction change of first name may be allowed:
thereof or for any unlawful motive but solely
for the purpose of making his birth SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First
records compatible with his present sex. Name or Nickname. The petition for
(emphasis supplied) change of first name or nickname may be
allowed in any of the following cases:
Petitioner believes that after having acquired the
physical features of a female, he became entitled to (1) The petitioner finds the first name or
the civil registry changes sought. We disagree. nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with
dishonor or extremely difficult to write or
The State has an interest in the names borne by pronounce;
individuals and entities for purposes of
identification.11 A change of name is a privilege, not (2) The new first name or nickname has been
a right.12 Petitions for change of name are controlled habitually and continuously used by the
by statutes.13 In this connection, Article 376 of the petitioner and he has been publicly known by
Civil Code provides: that first name or nickname in the
community; or
ART. 376. No person can change his name
or surname without judicial authority. (3) The change will avoid confusion.

This Civil Code provision was amended by RA 9048 Petitioners basis in praying for the change of his first
(Clerical Error Law). In particular, Section 1 of RA name was his sex reassignment. He intended to
9048 provides: make his first name compatible with the sex he
thought he transformed himself into through surgery.
SECTION 1. Authority to Correct Clerical or However, a change of name does not alter ones
Typographical Error and Change of First legal capacity or civil status.18 RA 9048 does not
Name or Nickname. No entry in a civil sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex
register shall be changed or corrected reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion,
changing petitioners first name for his declared
purpose may only create grave complications in the SECTION 2. Definition of Terms. As used
civil registry and the public interest. in this Act, the following terms shall mean:

Before a person can legally change his given name, xxx xxx xxx
he must present proper or reasonable cause or any
compelling reason justifying such change.19 In (3) "Clerical or typographical error"
addition, he must show that he will be prejudiced by refers to a mistake committed in the
the use of his true and official name.20 In this case, performance of clerical work in
he failed to show, or even allege, any prejudice that writing, copying, transcribing or
he might suffer as a result of using his true and typing an entry in the civil register that
official name. is harmless and innocuous, such as
misspelled name or misspelled place
In sum, the petition in the trial court in so far as it of birth or the like, which is visible to
prayed for the change of petitioners first name was the eyes or obvious to the
not within that courts primary jurisdiction as the understanding, and can be corrected
petition should have been filed with the local civil or changed only by reference to other
registrar concerned, assuming it could be legally existing record or records: Provided,
done. It was an improper remedy because the however, That no correction must
proper remedy was administrative, that is, that involve the change of nationality,
provided under RA 9048. It was also filed in the age, status or sex of the petitioner.
wrong venue as the proper venue was in the Office (emphasis supplied)
of the Civil Registrar of Manila where his birth
certificate is kept. More importantly, it had no merit Under RA 9048, a correction in the civil registry
since the use of his true and official name does not involving the change of sex is not a mere clerical or
prejudice him at all. For all these reasons, the Court typographical error. It is a substantial change for
of Appeals correctly dismissed petitioners petition in which the applicable procedure is Rule 108 of the
so far as the change of his first name was Rules of Court.
concerned.
The entries envisaged in Article 412 of the Civil Code
No Law Allows The Change of Entry In The Birth and correctable under Rule 108 of the Rules of Court
Certificate As To Sex On the Ground of Sex are those provided in Articles 407 and 408 of the
Reassignment Civil Code:24

The determination of a persons sex appearing in his ART. 407. Acts, events and judicial decrees
birth certificate is a legal issue and the court must concerning the civil status of persons shall be
look to the statutes.21 In this connection, Article 412 recorded in the civil register.
of the Civil Code provides:
ART. 408. The following shall be entered in
ART. 412. No entry in the civil register shall the civil register:
be changed or corrected without a judicial
order. (1) Births; (2) marriages; (3) deaths; (4) legal
separations; (5) annulments of marriage; (6)
Together with Article 376 of the Civil Code, this judgments declaring marriages void from the
provision was amended by RA 9048 in so far beginning; (7) legitimations; (8) adoptions;
as clerical or typographical errors are involved. The (9) acknowledgments of natural children;
correction or change of such matters can now be (10) naturalization; (11) loss, or (12) recovery
made through administrative proceedings and of citizenship; (13) civil interdiction; (14)
without the need for a judicial order. In effect, RA judicial determination of filiation; (15)
9048 removed from the ambit of Rule 108 of the voluntary emancipation of a minor; and (16)
Rules of Court the correction of such errors.22 Rule changes of name.
108 now applies only to substantial changes and
corrections in entries in the civil register.23 The acts, events or factual errors contemplated
under Article 407 of the Civil Code include even
Section 2(c) of RA 9048 defines what a "clerical or those that occur after birth.25 However, no
typographical error" is: reasonable interpretation of the provision can justify
the conclusion that it covers the correction on the ART. 413. All other matters pertaining to the
ground of sex reassignment. registration of civil status shall be governed
by special laws.
To correct simply means "to make or set aright; to
remove the faults or error from" while to change But there is no such special law in the Philippines
means "to replace something with something else of governing sex reassignment and its effects. This is
the same kind or with something that serves as a fatal to petitioners cause.
substitute."26 The birth certificate of petitioner
contained no error. All entries therein, including Moreover, Section 5 of Act 3753 (the Civil Register
those corresponding to his first name and sex, were Law) provides:
all correct. No correction is necessary.
SEC. 5. Registration and certification of
Article 407 of the Civil Code authorizes the entry in births. The declaration of the physician or
the civil registry of certain acts (such as midwife in attendance at the birth or, in
legitimations, acknowledgments of illegitimate default thereof, the declaration of either
children and naturalization), events (such as births, parent of the newborn child, shall be
marriages, naturalization and deaths) and judicial sufficient for the registration of a birth in the
decrees (such as legal separations, annulments of civil register. Such declaration shall be
marriage, declarations of nullity of marriages, exempt from documentary stamp tax and
adoptions, naturalization, loss or recovery of shall be sent to the local civil registrar not
citizenship, civil interdiction, judicial determination of later than thirty days after the birth, by the
filiation and changes of name). These acts, events physician or midwife in attendance at the
and judicial decrees produce legal consequences birth or by either parent of the newborn child.
that touch upon the legal capacity, status and
nationality of a person. Their effects are expressly In such declaration, the person above
sanctioned by the laws. In contrast, sex mentioned shall certify to the following facts:
reassignment is not among those acts or events (a) date and hour of birth; (b) sex and
mentioned in Article 407. Neither is it recognized nor nationality of infant; (c) names, citizenship
even mentioned by any law, expressly or impliedly. and religion of parents or, in case the father
is not known, of the mother alone; (d) civil
"Status" refers to the circumstances affecting the status of parents; (e) place where the infant
legal situation (that is, the sum total of capacities and was born; and (f) such other data as may be
incapacities) of a person in view of his age, required in the regulations to be issued.
nationality and his family membership.27
xxx xxx xxx (emphasis supplied)
The status of a person in law includes all his
personal qualities and relations, more or Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a
less permanent in nature, not ordinarily historical record of the facts as they existed at the
terminable at his own will, such as his time of birth.29 Thus, the sex of a person is
being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being determined at birth, visually done by the birth
married or not. The comprehensive attendant (the physician or midwife) by examining
term status include such matters as the the genitals of the infant. Considering that there is no
beginning and end of legal personality, law legally recognizing sex reassignment, the
capacity to have rights in general, family determination of a persons sex made at the time of
relations, and its various aspects, such as his or her birth, if not attended by error,30is
birth, legitimation, adoption, emancipation, immutable.31
marriage, divorce, and sometimes even
succession.28 (emphasis supplied) When words are not defined in a statute they are to
be given their common and ordinary meaning in the
A persons sex is an essential factor in marriage and absence of a contrary legislative intent. The words
family relations. It is a part of a persons legal "sex," "male" and "female" as used in the Civil
capacity and civil status. In this connection, Article Register Law and laws concerning the civil registry
413 of the Civil Code provides: (and even all other laws) should therefore be
understood in their common and ordinary usage,
there being no legislative intent to the contrary. In
this connection, sex is defined as "the sum of
peculiarities of structure and function that distinguish Penal Code40 and the presumption of survivorship in
a male from a female"32 or "the distinction between case of calamities under Rule 131 of the Rules of
male and female."33 Female is "the sex that Court,41 among others. These laws underscore the
produces ova or bears young"34 and male is "the sex public policy in relation to women which could be
that has organs to produce spermatozoa for substantially affected if petitioners petition were to
fertilizing ova."35 Thus, the words "male" and be granted.
"female" in everyday understanding do not include
persons who have undergone sex reassignment. It is true that Article 9 of the Civil Code mandates
Furthermore, "words that are employed in a statute that "[n]o judge or court shall decline to render
which had at the time a well-known meaning are judgment by reason of the silence, obscurity or
presumed to have been used in that sense unless insufficiency of the law." However, it is not a license
the context compels to the contrary."36 Since the for courts to engage in judicial legislation. The duty
statutory language of the Civil Register Law was of the courts is to apply or interpret the law, not to
enacted in the early 1900s and remains unchanged, make or amend it.
it cannot be argued that the term "sex" as used then
is something alterable through surgery or something In our system of government, it is for the legislature,
that allows a post-operative male-to-female should it choose to do so, to determine what
transsexual to be included in the category "female." guidelines should govern the recognition of the
effects of sex reassignment. The need for legislative
For these reasons, while petitioner may have guidelines becomes particularly important in this
succeeded in altering his body and appearance case where the claims asserted are statute-based.
through the intervention of modern surgery, no law
authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil To reiterate, the statutes define who may file
registry for that reason. Thus, there is no legal basis petitions for change of first name and for correction
for his petition for the correction or change of the or change of entries in the civil registry, where they
entries in his birth certificate. may be filed, what grounds may be invoked, what
proof must be presented and what procedures shall
Neither May Entries in the Birth Certificate As to be observed. If the legislature intends to confer on a
First Name or Sex Be Changed on the Ground of person who has undergone sex reassignment the
Equity privilege to change his name and sex to conform
with his reassigned sex, it has to enact legislation
The trial court opined that its grant of the petition was laying down the guidelines in turn governing the
in consonance with the principles of justice and conferment of that privilege.
equity. It believed that allowing the petition would
cause no harm, injury or prejudice to anyone. This is It might be theoretically possible for this Court to
wrong. write a protocol on when a person may be
recognized as having successfully changed his sex.
The changes sought by petitioner will have serious However, this Court has no authority to fashion a law
and wide-ranging legal and public policy on that matter, or on anything else. The Court cannot
consequences. First, even the trial court itself found enact a law where no law exists. It can only apply or
that the petition was but petitioners first step interpret the written word of its co-equal branch of
towards his eventual marriage to his male fianc. government, Congress.
However, marriage, one of the most sacred social
institutions, is a special contract of permanent Petitioner pleads that "[t]he unfortunates are also
union between a man and a woman.37 One of its entitled to a life of happiness, contentment and [the]
essential requisites is the legal capacity of the realization of their dreams." No argument about that.
contracting parties who must be a male and a The Court recognizes that there are people whose
female.38 To grant the changes sought by petitioner preferences and orientation do not fit neatly into the
will substantially reconfigure and greatly alter the commonly recognized parameters of social
laws on marriage and family relations. It will allow the convention and that, at least for them, life is indeed
union of a man with another man who has an ordeal. However, the remedies petitioner seeks
undergone sex reassignment (a male-to-female involve questions of public policy to be addressed
post-operative transsexual). Second, there are solely by the legislature, not by the courts.
various laws which apply particularly to women such
as the provisions of the Labor Code on employment WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.
of women,39 certain felonies under the Revised
Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 193707 December 10, 2014

NORMA A. DEL SOCORRO, for and in behalf of


her minor child RODERIGO NORJO VAN
WILSEM,Petitioner,
vs.
ERNST JOHAN BRINKMAN VAN
WILSEM, Respondent.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

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
Orders1 dated February 19, 2010 and September
1, 2010, respectively, of the Regional Trial Court
of Cebu City (RTC-Cebu), which dismissed the
criminal case entitled People of the Philippines v.
Ernst Johan Brinkman Van Wilsem, docketed as
Criminal Case No. CBU-85503, for violation of
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9262, otherwise known as
the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their
Children Act of 2004.

The following facts are culled from the records:

Petitioner Norma A. Del Socorro and respondent


Ernst Johan Brinkman Van Wilsem contracted
marriage in Holland on September 25, 1990.2 On
January 19, 1994, they were blessed with a son
named Roderigo Norjo Van Wilsem, who at the
time of the filing of the instant petition was sixteen
(16) years of age.3

Unfortunately, their marriage bond ended on July


19, 1995 by virtue of a Divorce Decree issued by
the appropriate Court of Holland.4 At that time,
their son was only eighteen (18) months
old.5 Thereafter, petitioner and her son came Upon motion and after notice and hearing, the
home to the Philippines.6 RTC-Cebu issued a Hold Departure Order against
respondent.16Consequently, respondent was
According to petitioner, respondent made a arrested and, subsequently, posted
promise to provide monthly support to their son in bail.17 Petitioner also filed a Motion/Application of
the amount of Two Hundred Fifty (250) Guildene Permanent Protection Order to which respondent
(which is equivalent to Php17,500.00 more or filed his Opposition.18 Pending the resolution
less).7 However, since the arrival of petitioner and thereof, respondent was
her son in the Philippines, respondent never gave arraigned. Subsequently, without the RTC-Cebu
19

support to the son, Roderigo.8 having resolved the application of the protection
order, respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss on the
Not long thereafter, respondent cameto the ground of: (1) lack of jurisdiction over the offense
Philippines and remarried in Pinamungahan, charged; and (2) prescription of the crime
Cebu, and since then, have been residing charged.20
thereat.9 Respondent and his new wife
established a business known as Paree Catering, On February 19, 2010, the RTC-Cebu issued the
located at Barangay Tajao, Municipality of herein assailed Order,21 dismissing the instant
Pinamungahan, Cebu City.10 To date, all the criminal case against respondent on the ground
parties, including their son, Roderigo, are that the facts charged in the information do not
presently living in Cebu City.11 constitute an offense with respect to the
respondent who is an alien, the dispositive part of
On August 28, 2009, petitioner, through her which states:
counsel, sent a letter demanding for support from
respondent. However, respondent refused to WHEREFORE, the Court finds that the facts
receive the letter.12 charged in the information do not constitute an
offense with respect to the accused, he being an
Because of the foregoing circumstances, alien, and accordingly, orders this case
petitioner filed a complaint affidavit with the DISMISSED.
Provincial Prosecutor of Cebu City against
respondent for violation of Section 5, paragraph The bail bond posted by accused Ernst Johan
E(2) of R.A. No. 9262 for the latters unjust refusal Brinkman Van Wilsem for his provisional liberty is
to support his minor child with hereby cancelled (sic) and ordered released.
petitioner. Respondent submitted his counter-
13

affidavit thereto, to which petitioner also submitted SO ORDERED.


her reply-affidavit.14 Thereafter, the Provincial
Prosecutor of Cebu City issued a Resolution Cebu City, Philippines, February 19, 2010.22
recommending the filing of an information for the
crime charged against herein respondent. Thereafter, petitioner filed her Motion for
Reconsideration thereto reiterating respondents
The information, which was filed with the RTC- obligation to support their child under Article
Cebu and raffled to Branch 20 thereof, states that: 19523 of the Family Code, thus, failure to do so
makes him liable under R.A. No. 9262 which
That sometime in the year 1995 and up to the "equally applies to all persons in the Philippines
present, more or less, in the Municipality of who are obliged to support their minor children
Minglanilla, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and regardless of the obligors nationality."24
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, did then and there wilfully, On September 1, 2010, the lower court issued an
unlawfully and deliberately deprive, refuse and still Order25 denying petitioners Motion for
continue to deprive his son RODERIGO NORJO Reconsideration and reiterating its previous ruling.
VAN WILSEM, a fourteen (14) year old minor, of Thus:
financial support legally due him, resulting in
economic abuse to the victim. CONTRARY TO x x x The arguments therein presented are
LAW.15 basically a rehash of those advanced earlier in the
memorandum of the prosecution. Thus, the court three modes of appeal from decisions of the RTC,
hereby reiterates its ruling that since the accused to wit: (1) by ordinary appeal or appeal by writ of
is a foreign national he is not subject to our error under Rule 41, whereby judgment was
national law (The Family Code) in regard to a rendered in a civil or criminal action by the RTC in
parents duty and obligation to givesupport to his the exercise of its original jurisdiction; (2) by a
child. Consequently, he cannot be charged of petition for review under Rule 42, whereby
violating R.A. 9262 for his alleged failure to judgment was rendered by the RTC in the
support his child. Unless it is conclusively exercise of its appellate jurisdiction; and (3) by a
established that R.A. 9262 applies to a foreigner petition for review on certiorari before the
who fails to give support tohis child, Supreme Court under Rule 45. "The first mode of
notwithstanding that he is not bound by our appeal is taken to the [Court of Appeals] on
domestic law which mandates a parent to give questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and
such support, it is the considered opinion of the law. The second mode of appeal is brought to the
court that no prima faciecase exists against the CA on questions of fact, of law, or mixed questions
accused herein, hence, the case should be of fact and law. The third mode of appealis
dismissed. elevated to the Supreme Court only on questions
of law." (Emphasis supplied)
WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is
hereby DENIED for lack of merit. There is a question of law when the issue does not
call for an examination of the probative value of
SO ORDERED. the evidence presented or of the truth or falsehood
of the facts being admitted, and the doubt
Cebu City, Philippines, September 1, 2010.26 concerns the correct application of law and
jurisprudence on the matter. The resolution of the
Hence, the present Petition for Review on issue must rest solely on what the law provides on
Certiorari raising the following issues: the given set of circumstances.29

1. Whether or not a foreign national has an Indeed, the issues submitted to us for resolution
obligation to support his minor child under involve questions of law the response thereto
Philippine law; and concerns the correct application of law and
jurisprudence on a given set of facts, i.e.,whether
2. Whether or not a foreign national can be or not a foreign national has an obligation to
held criminally liable under R.A. No. 9262 support his minor child under Philippine law; and
for his unjustified failure to support his whether or not he can be held criminally liable
minor child.27 under R.A. No. 9262 for his unjustified failure to do
so.
At the outset, let it be emphasized that We are
taking cognizance of the instant petition despite It cannot be negated, moreover, that the instant
the fact that the same was directly lodged with the petition highlights a novel question of law
Supreme Court, consistent with the ruling in concerning the liability of a foreign national who
Republic v. Sunvar Realty Development allegedly commits acts and omissions punishable
Corporation,28 which lays down the instances under special criminal laws, specifically in relation
when a ruling of the trial court may be brought on to family rights and duties. The inimitability of the
appeal directly to the Supreme Court without factual milieu of the present case, therefore,
violating the doctrine of hierarchy of courts, to wit: deserves a definitive ruling by this Court, which
will eventually serve as a guidepost for future
x x x Nevertheless, the Rules do not prohibit any cases. Furthermore, dismissing the instant
of the parties from filing a Rule 45 Petition with this petition and remanding the same to the CA would
Court, in case only questions of law are raised or only waste the time, effort and resources of the
involved. This latter situation was one that courts. Thus, in the present case, considerations
petitioners found themselves in when they filed of efficiency and economy in the administration of
the instant Petition to raise only questions of law. justice should prevail over the observance of the
In Republic v. Malabanan, the Court clarified the hierarchy of courts.
Now, on the matter of the substantive issues, We which they belong even when staying in a foreign
find the petition meritorious. Nonetheless, we do country (cf. Civil Code, Article 15).39
not fully agree with petitioners contentions.
It cannot be gainsaid, therefore, that the
To determine whether or not a person is criminally respondent is not obliged to support petitioners
liable under R.A. No. 9262, it is imperative that the son under Article195 of the Family Code as a
legal obligation to support exists. consequence of the Divorce Covenant obtained in
Holland. This does not, however, mean that
Petitioner invokes Article 19530 of the Family Code, respondent is not obliged to support petitioners
which provides the parents obligation to support son altogether.
his child. Petitioner contends that notwithstanding
the existence of a divorce decree issued in relation In international law, the party who wants to have a
to Article 26 of the Family Code,31 respondent is foreign law applied to a dispute or case has the
not excused from complying with his obligation to burden of proving the foreign law.40 In the present
support his minor child with petitioner. case, respondent hastily concludes that being a
national of the Netherlands, he is governed by
On the other hand, respondent contends that such laws on the matter of provision of and
there is no sufficient and clear basis presented by capacity to support.41 While respondent pleaded
petitioner that she, as well as her minor son, are the laws of the Netherlands in advancing his
entitled to financial support.32 Respondent also position that he is not obliged to support his son,
added that by reason of the Divorce Decree, he is he never proved the same.
not obligated topetitioner for any financial
support.33 It is incumbent upon respondent to plead and
prove that the national law of the Netherlands
On this point, we agree with respondent that does not impose upon the parents the obligation
petitioner cannot rely on Article 19534 of the New to support their child (either before, during or after
Civil Code in demanding support from respondent, the issuance of a divorce decree), because
who is a foreign citizen, since Article 1535 of the Llorente v. Court of Appeals,42 has already
New Civil Code stresses the principle of enunciated that:
nationality. In other words, insofar as Philippine
laws are concerned, specifically the provisions of True, foreign laws do not prove themselves in our
the Family Code on support, the same only jurisdiction and our courts are not authorized to
applies to Filipino citizens. By analogy, the same takejudicial notice of them. Like any other fact,
principle applies to foreigners such that they are they must be alleged and proved.43
governed by their national law with respect to
family rights and duties.36 In view of respondents failure to prove the
national law of the Netherlands in his favor, the
The obligation to give support to a child is a matter doctrine of processual presumption shall govern.
that falls under family rights and duties. Since the Under this doctrine, if the foreign law involved is
respondent is a citizen of Holland or the not properly pleaded and proved, our courts will
Netherlands, we agree with the RTC-Cebu that he presume that the foreign law is the same as our
is subject to the laws of his country, not to local or domestic or internal law.44 Thus, since the
Philippinelaw, as to whether he is obliged to give law of the Netherlands as regards the obligation to
support to his child, as well as the consequences support has not been properly pleaded and
of his failure to do so.37 proved in the instant case, it is presumed to be the
same with Philippine law, which enforces the
In the case of Vivo v. Cloribel,38 the Court held that obligation of parents to support their children and
penalizing the non-compliance therewith.

Furthermore, being still aliens, they are not in Moreover, while in Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera,45 the
position to invoke the provisions of the Civil Code Court held that a divorce obtained in a foreign land
of the Philippines, for that Code cleaves to the as well as its legal effects may be recognized in
principle that family rights and duties are governed the Philippines in view of the nationality principle
by their personal law, i.e.,the laws of the nation to on the matter of status of persons, the Divorce
Covenant presented by respondent does not the citizens or residents of the forum. To give
completely show that he is notliable to give justice is the most important function of law;
support to his son after the divorce decree was hence, a law, or judgment or contract that is
issued. Emphasis is placed on petitioners obviously unjust negates the fundamental
allegation that under the second page of the principles of Conflict of Laws.48
aforesaid covenant, respondents obligation to
support his child is specifically stated,46which was Applying the foregoing, even if the laws of the
not disputed by respondent. Netherlands neither enforce a parents obligation
to support his child nor penalize the
We likewise agree with petitioner that noncompliance therewith, such obligation is still
notwithstanding that the national law of duly enforceable in the Philippines because it
respondent states that parents have no obligation would be of great injustice to the child to be denied
to support their children or that such obligation is of financial support when the latter is entitled
not punishable by law, said law would still not find thereto.
applicability,in light of the ruling in Bank of
America, NT and SA v. American Realty We emphasize, however, that as to petitioner
Corporation,47 to wit: herself, respondent is no longer liable to support
his former wife, in consonance with the ruling in
In the instant case, assuming arguendo that the San Luis v. San Luis,49 to wit:
English Law on the matter were properly pleaded
and proved in accordance with Section 24, Rule As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife,
132 of the Rules of Court and the jurisprudence the Court ruled that she should no longerbe
laid down in Yao Kee, et al. vs. Sy-Gonzales, said considered marriedto the alien spouse. Further,
foreign law would still not find applicability. she should not be required to perform her marital
duties and obligations. It held:
Thus, when the foreign law, judgment or contract
is contrary to a sound and established public To maintain, as private respondent does, that,
policy of the forum, the said foreign law, judgment under our laws, petitioner has to be considered
or order shall not be applied. still married to private respondent and still subject
to a wife's obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of
Additionally, prohibitive laws concerning persons, the Civil Code cannot be just. Petitioner should not
their acts or property, and those which have for be obliged to live together with, observe respect
their object public order, public policy and good and fidelity, and render support to private
customs shall not be rendered ineffective by laws respondent. The latter should not continue to be
or judgments promulgated, or by determinations one of her heirs with possible rights to conjugal
or conventions agreed upon in a foreign country. property. She should not be discriminated against
in her own country if the ends of justice are to be
The public policy sought to be protected in the served. (Emphasis added)50
instant case is the principle imbedded in our
jurisdiction proscribing the splitting up of a single Based on the foregoing legal precepts, we find
cause of action. that respondent may be made liable under Section
5(e) and (i) of R.A. No. 9262 for unjustly refusing
Section 4, Rule 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil or failing to give support topetitioners son, to wit:
Procedure is pertinent
SECTION 5. Acts of Violence Against Women and
Their Children.- The crime of violence against
women and their children is committed through
If two or more suits are instituted on the basis of any of the following acts:
the same cause of action, the filing of one or a
judgment upon the merits in any one is available xxxx
as a ground for the dismissal of the others.
Moreover, foreign law should not be applied when (e) Attempting to compel or compelling the woman
its application would work undeniable injustice to or her child to engage in conduct which the woman
or her child has the right to desist from or desist there is a legal basis for charging violation of R.A.
from conduct which the woman or her child has No. 9262 in the instant case, the criminal liability
the right to engage in, or attempting to restrict or has been extinguished on the ground of
restricting the woman's or her child's freedom of prescription of crime52 under Section 24 of R.A.
movement or conduct by force or threat of force, No. 9262, which provides that:
physical or other harm or threat of physical or
other harm, or intimidation directed against the SECTION 24. Prescriptive Period. Acts falling
woman or child. This shall include, butnot limited under Sections 5(a) to 5(f) shall prescribe in
to, the following acts committed with the purpose twenty (20) years. Acts falling under Sections 5(g)
or effect of controlling or restricting the woman's to 5(I) shall prescribe in ten (10) years.
or her child's movement or conduct:
The act of denying support to a child under
xxxx Section 5(e)(2) and (i) of R.A. No. 9262 is a
continuing offense,53which started in 1995 but is
(2) Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman still ongoing at present. Accordingly, the crime
or her children of financial support legally due her charged in the instant case has clearly not
or her family, or deliberately providing the prescribed.
woman's children insufficient financial support; x x
xx Given, however, that the issue on whether
respondent has provided support to petitioners
(i) Causing mental or emotional anguish, public child calls for an examination of the probative
ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, value of the evidence presented, and the truth and
including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and falsehood of facts being admitted, we hereby
emotional abuse, and denial of financial support remand the determination of this issue to the RTC-
or custody of minor childrenof access to the Cebu which has jurisdiction over the case.
woman's child/children.51
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
Under the aforesaid special law, the deprivation or Orders dated February 19, 2010 and September
denial of financial support to the child is 1, 2010, respectively, of the Regional Trial Court
considered anact of violence against women and of the City of Cebu are hereby REVERSED and
children. SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the same
court to conduct further proceedings based on the
In addition, considering that respondent is merits of the case.
currently living in the Philippines, we find strength
in petitioners claim that the Territoriality Principle SO ORDERED.
in criminal law, in relation to Article 14 of the New
Civil Code, applies to the instant case, which DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
provides that: "[p]enal laws and those of public Associate Justice
security and safety shall be obligatory upon all
who live and sojourn in Philippine territory, subject
to the principle of public international law and to
treaty stipulations." On this score, it is indisputable
that the alleged continuing acts of respondent in
refusing to support his child with petitioner is
committed here in the Philippines as all of the
parties herein are residents of the Province of
Cebu City. As such, our courts have territorial
jurisdiction over the offense charged against
respondent. It is likewise irrefutable that
jurisdiction over the respondent was acquired
upon his arrest.

Finally, we do not agree with respondents


argument that granting, but not admitting, that
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 80116 June 30, 1989

IMELDA MANALAYSAY PILAPIL, petitioner,


vs.
HON. CORONA IBAY-SOMERA, in her capacity
as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Manila, Branch XXVI; HON. LUIS C. VICTOR, in
his capacity as the City Fiscal of Manila; and
ERICH EKKEHARD GEILING, respondents.

REGALADO, J.:

An ill-starred marriage of a Filipina and a foreigner


which ended in a foreign absolute divorce, only to be
followed by a criminal infidelity suit of the latter
against the former, provides Us the opportunity to lay
down a decisional rule on what hitherto appears to
be an unresolved jurisdictional question.

On September 7, 1979, petitioner Imelda


Manalaysay Pilapil, a Filipino citizen, and private
respondent Erich Ekkehard Geiling, a German
national, were married before the Registrar of Births,
Marriages and Deaths at Friedensweiler in the
Federal Republic of Germany. The marriage started
auspiciously enough, and the couple lived together
for some time in Malate, Manila where their only
child, Isabella Pilapil Geiling, was born on April 20,
1980. 1

Thereafter, marital discord set in, with mutual


recriminations between the spouses, followed by a
separation de facto between them.

After about three and a half years of marriage, such


connubial disharmony eventuated in private
respondent initiating a divorce proceeding against
petitioner in Germany before the Schoneberg Local
Court in January, 1983. He claimed that there was
failure of their marriage and that they had been living
apart since April, 1982. 2

Petitioner, on the other hand, filed an action for legal


separation, support and separation of property
before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch
XXXII, on January 23, 1983 where the same is still
pending as Civil Case No. 83-15866. 3
On January 15, 1986, Division 20 of the Schoneberg respondent judge merely reset the date of the
Local Court, Federal Republic of Germany, arraignment in Criminal Case No. 87-52435 to April
promulgated a decree of divorce on the ground of 6, 1987. Before such scheduled date, petitioner
failure of marriage of the spouses. The custody of moved for the cancellation of the arraignment and
the child was granted to petitioner. The records show for the suspension of proceedings in said Criminal
that under German law said court was locally and Case No. 87-52435 until after the resolution of the
internationally competent for the divorce proceeding petition for review then pending before the Secretary
and that the dissolution of said marriage was legally of Justice. 11 A motion to quash was also filed in the
founded on and authorized by the applicable law of same case on the ground of lack of
that foreign jurisdiction. 4 jurisdiction, 12 which motion was denied by the
respondent judge in an order dated September 8,
On June 27, 1986, or more than five months after 1987. The same order also directed the arraignment
the issuance of the divorce decree, private of both accused therein, that is, petitioner and
respondent filed two complaints for adultery before William Chia. The latter entered a plea of not guilty
the City Fiscal of Manila alleging that, while still while the petitioner refused to be arraigned. Such
married to said respondent, petitioner "had an affair refusal of the petitioner being considered by
with a certain William Chia as early as 1982 and with respondent judge as direct contempt, she and her
yet another man named Jesus Chua sometime in counsel were fined and the former was ordered
1983". Assistant Fiscal Jacinto A. de los Reyes, Jr., detained until she submitted herself for
after the corresponding investigation, recommended arraignment. 13 Later, private respondent entered a
the dismissal of the cases on the ground of plea of not guilty. 14
insufficiency of evidence. 5 However, upon review,
the respondent city fiscal approved a resolution, On October 27, 1987, petitioner filed this special civil
dated January 8, 1986, directing the filing of two action for certiorari and prohibition, with a prayer for
complaints for adultery against the petitioner. 6 The a temporary restraining order, seeking the
complaints were accordingly filed and were annulment of the order of the lower court denying her
eventually raffled to two branches of the Regional motion to quash. The petition is anchored on the
Trial Court of Manila. The case entitled "People of main ground that the court is without jurisdiction "to
the Philippines vs. Imelda Pilapil and William try and decide the charge of adultery, which is a
Chia", docketed as Criminal Case No. 87-52435, private offense that cannot be prosecuted de
was assigned to Branch XXVI presided by the officio (sic), since the purported complainant, a
respondent judge; while the other case, "People of foreigner, does not qualify as an offended spouse
the Philippines vs. Imelda Pilapil and James Chua", having obtained a final divorce decree under his
docketed as Criminal Case No. 87-52434 went to the national law prior to his filing the criminal
sala of Judge Leonardo Cruz, Branch XXV, of the complaint." 15
same court. 7
On October 21, 1987, this Court issued a temporary
On March 14, 1987, petitioner filed a petition with the restraining order enjoining the respondents from
Secretary of Justice asking that the aforesaid implementing the aforesaid order of September 8,
resolution of respondent fiscal be set aside and the 1987 and from further proceeding with Criminal
cases against her be dismissed. 8 A similar petition Case No. 87-52435. Subsequently, on March 23,
was filed by James Chua, her co-accused in 1988 Secretary of Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoez acted
Criminal Case No. 87-52434. The Secretary of on the aforesaid petitions for review and, upholding
Justice, through the Chief State Prosecutor, gave petitioner's ratiocinations, issued a resolution
due course to both petitions and directed the directing the respondent city fiscal to move for the
respondent city fiscal to inform the Department of dismissal of the complaints against the petitioner. 16
Justice "if the accused have already been arraigned
and if not yet arraigned, to move to defer further We find this petition meritorious. The writs prayed for
proceedings" and to elevate the entire records of shall accordingly issue.
both cases to his office for review. 9
Under Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, 17 the
Petitioner thereafter filed a motion in both criminal crime of adultery, as well as four other crimes
cases to defer her arraignment and to suspend against chastity, cannot be prosecuted except upon
further proceedings thereon. 10 As a consequence, a sworn written complaint filed by the offended
Judge Leonardo Cruz suspended proceedings in spouse. It has long since been established, with
Criminal Case No. 87-52434. On the other hand, unwavering consistency, that compliance with this
rule is a jurisdictional, and not merely a formal, This policy was adopted out of consideration for the
requirement. 18 While in point of strict law the aggrieved party who might prefer to suffer the
jurisdiction of the court over the offense is vested in outrage in silence rather than go through the scandal
it by the Judiciary Law, the requirement for a sworn of a public trial. 20 Hence, as cogently argued by
written complaint is just as jurisdictional a mandate petitioner, Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code
since it is that complaint which starts the prosecutory thus presupposes that the marital relationship is still
proceeding 19 and without which the court cannot subsisting at the time of the institution of the criminal
exercise its jurisdiction to try the case. action for, adultery. This is a logical consequence
since the raison d'etre of said provision of law would
Now, the law specifically provides that in be absent where the supposed offended party had
prosecutions for adultery and concubinage the ceased to be the spouse of the alleged offender at
person who can legally file the complaint should be the time of the filing of the criminal case. 21
the offended spouse, and nobody else. Unlike the
offenses of seduction, abduction, rape and acts of In these cases, therefore, it is indispensable that the
lasciviousness, no provision is made for the status and capacity of the complainant to commence
prosecution of the crimes of adultery and the action be definitely established and, as already
concubinage by the parents, grandparents or demonstrated, such status or capacity must
guardian of the offended party. The so-called indubitably exist as of the time he initiates the action.
exclusive and successive rule in the prosecution of It would be absurd if his capacity to bring the action
the first four offenses above mentioned do not apply would be determined by his
to adultery and concubinage. It is significant that status before or subsequent to the commencement
while the State, as parens patriae, was added and thereof, where such capacity or status existed prior
vested by the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure with to but ceased before, or was acquired subsequent to
the power to initiate the criminal action for a but did not exist at the time of, the institution of the
deceased or incapacitated victim in the aforesaid case. We would thereby have the anomalous
offenses of seduction, abduction, rape and acts of spectacle of a party bringing suit at the very time
lasciviousness, in default of her parents, when he is without the legal capacity to do so.
grandparents or guardian, such amendment did not
include the crimes of adultery and concubinage. In To repeat, there does not appear to be any local
other words, only the offended spouse, and no other, precedential jurisprudence on the specific issue as
is authorized by law to initiate the action therefor. to when precisely the status of a complainant as an
offended spouse must exist where a criminal
Corollary to such exclusive grant of power to the prosecution can be commenced only by one who in
offended spouse to institute the action, it necessarily law can be categorized as possessed of such status.
follows that such initiator must have the status, Stated differently and with reference to the present
capacity or legal representation to do so at the time case, the inquiry ;would be whether it is necessary
of the filing of the criminal action. This is a familiar in the commencement of a criminal action for
and express rule in civil actions; in fact, lack of legal adultery that the marital bonds between the
capacity to sue, as a ground for a motion to dismiss complainant and the accused be unsevered and
in civil cases, is determined as of the filing of the existing at the time of the institution of the action by
complaint or petition. the former against the latter.

The absence of an equivalent explicit rule in the American jurisprudence, on cases involving statutes
prosecution of criminal cases does not mean that the in that jurisdiction which are in pari materia with
same requirement and rationale would not apply. ours, yields the rule that after a divorce has been
Understandably, it may not have been found decreed, the innocent spouse no longer has the right
necessary since criminal actions are generally and to institute proceedings against the offenders where
fundamentally commenced by the State, through the the statute provides that the innocent spouse shall
People of the Philippines, the offended party being have the exclusive right to institute a prosecution for
merely the complaining witness therein. However, in adultery. Where, however, proceedings have been
the so-called "private crimes" or those which cannot properly commenced, a divorce subsequently
be prosecuted de oficio, and the present prosecution granted can have no legal effect on the prosecution
for adultery is of such genre, the offended spouse of the criminal proceedings to a conclusion. 22
assumes a more predominant role since the right to
commence the action, or to refrain therefrom, is a In the cited Loftus case, the Supreme Court of Iowa
matter exclusively within his power and option. held that
'No prosecution for adultery can be cannot sue petitioner, as her
commenced except on the complaint husband, in any State of the Union. ...
of the husband or wife.' Section 4932,
Code. Though Loftus was husband of It is true that owing to the nationality
defendant when the offense is said to principle embodied in Article 15 of the
have been committed, he had ceased Civil Code, only Philippine nationals
to be such when the prosecution was are covered by the policy against
begun; and appellant insists that his absolute divorces the same being
status was not such as to entitle him considered contrary to our concept of
to make the complaint. We have public policy and morality. However,
repeatedly said that the offense is aliens may obtain divorces abroad,
against the unoffending spouse, as which may be recognized in the
well as the state, in explaining the Philippines, provided they are valid
reason for this provision in the according to their national law. ...
statute; and we are of the opinion
that the unoffending spouse must be Thus, pursuant to his national law,
such when the prosecution is private respondent is no longer the
commenced. (Emphasis supplied.) husband of petitioner. He would have
no standing to sue in the case below
We see no reason why the same doctrinal rule as petitioner's husband entitled to
should not apply in this case and in our jurisdiction, exercise control over conjugal
considering our statutory law and jural policy on the assets. ... 25
matter. We are convinced that in cases of such
nature, the status of the complainant vis-a-vis the Under the same considerations and rationale,
accused must be determined as of the time the private respondent, being no longer the husband of
complaint was filed. Thus, the person who initiates petitioner, had no legal standing to commence the
the adultery case must be an offended spouse, and adultery case under the imposture that he was the
by this is meant that he is still married to the accused offended spouse at the time he filed suit.
spouse, at the time of the filing of the complaint.
The allegation of private respondent that he could
In the present case, the fact that private respondent not have brought this case before the decree of
obtained a valid divorce in his country, the Federal divorce for lack of knowledge, even if true, is of no
Republic of Germany, is admitted. Said divorce and legal significance or consequence in this case.
its legal effects may be recognized in the Philippines When said respondent initiated the divorce
insofar as private respondent is concerned 23 in view proceeding, he obviously knew that there would no
of the nationality principle in our civil law on the longer be a family nor marriage vows to protect once
matter of status of persons. a dissolution of the marriage is decreed. Neither
would there be a danger of introducing spurious
Thus, in the recent case of Van Dorn vs. Romillo, Jr., heirs into the family, which is said to be one of the
et al., 24 after a divorce was granted by a United reasons for the particular formulation of our law on
States court between Alice Van Dornja Filipina, and adultery, 26 since there would thenceforth be no
her American husband, the latter filed a civil case in spousal relationship to speak of. The severance of
a trial court here alleging that her business concern the marital bond had the effect of dissociating the
was conjugal property and praying that she be former spouses from each other, hence the
ordered to render an accounting and that the plaintiff actuations of one would not affect or cast obloquy on
be granted the right to manage the business. the other.
Rejecting his pretensions, this Court perspicuously
demonstrated the error of such stance, thus: The aforecited case of United States vs.
Mata cannot be successfully relied upon by private
There can be no question as to the respondent. In applying Article 433 of the old Penal
validity of that Nevada divorce in any Code, substantially the same as Article 333 of the
of the States of the United States. Revised Penal Code, which punished adultery
The decree is binding on private "although the marriage be afterwards declared void",
respondent as an American citizen. the Court merely stated that "the lawmakers
For instance, private respondent intended to declare adulterous the infidelity of a
married woman to her marital vows, even though it
should be made to appear that she is entitled to have PANGANIBAN, J.:
her marriage contract declared null and void, until
and unless she actually secures a formal judicial A divorce obtained abroad by an alien may be
declaration to that effect". Definitely, it cannot be recognized in our jurisdiction, provided such decree
logically inferred therefrom that the complaint can is valid according to the national law of the
still be filed after the declaration of nullity because foreigner. However, the divorce decree and the
such declaration that the marriage is void ab initio is governing personal law of the alien spouse who
equivalent to stating that it never existed. There obtained the divorce must be proven. Our courts do
being no marriage from the beginning, any complaint not take judicial notice of foreign laws and
for adultery filed after said declaration of nullity judgments; hence, like any other facts, both the
would no longer have a leg to stand on. Moreover, divorce decree and the national law of the alien must
what was consequently contemplated and within the be alleged and proven according to our law on
purview of the decision in said case is the situation evidence.
where the criminal action for adultery was
filed before the termination of the marriage by a
judicial declaration of its nullity ab initio. The same The Case
rule and requisite would necessarily apply where the
termination of the marriage was effected, as in this
case, by a valid foreign divorce. Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45
of the Rules of Court, seeking to nullify the January
Private respondent's invocation of Donio-Teves, et 7, 1999 Decision[1] and the March 24, 1999
al. vs. Vamenta, hereinbefore cited, 27 must suffer Order[2] of the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan
the same fate of inapplicability. A cursory reading of City, Branch 28, in Civil Case No. 3026AF. The
said case reveals that the offended spouse therein assailed Decision disposed as follows:
had duly and seasonably filed a complaint for
adultery, although an issue was raised as to its WHEREFORE, this Court declares the marriage
sufficiency but which was resolved in favor of the between Grace J. Garcia and Rederick A. Recio
complainant. Said case did not involve a factual solemnized on January 12, 1994 at Cabanatuan
situation akin to the one at bar or any issue City as dissolved and both parties can now remarry
determinative of the controversy herein. under existing and applicable laws to any and/or
both parties.[3]
WHEREFORE, the questioned order denying
petitioner's motion to quash is SET ASIDE and The assailed Order denied reconsideration of
another one entered DISMISSING the complaint in the above-quoted Decision.
Criminal Case No. 87-52435 for lack of jurisdiction.
The temporary restraining order issued in this case
on October 21, 1987 is hereby made permanent. The Facts
SO ORDERED.
Rederick A. Recio, a Filipino, was married to
Editha Samson, an Australian citizen, in Malabon,
Rizal, on March 1, 1987.[4] They lived together as
husband and wife in Australia. On May 18, 1989, [5] a
decree of divorce, purportedly dissolving the
THIRD DIVISION marriage, was issued by an Australian family court.
On June 26, 1992, respondent became an
Australian citizen, as shown by a Certificate of
[G.R. No. 138322. October 2, 2001] Australian Citizenship issued by the Australian
government.[6] Petitioner -- a Filipina -- and
respondent were married on January 12, 1994 in
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Cabanatuan
GRACE J. GARCIA, a.k.a. GRACE J. GARCIA- City.[7]In their application for a marriage license,
RECIO, petitioner, vs. REDERICK A. respondent was declared as single and Filipino.[8]
RECIO, respondent.
Starting October 22, 1995, petitioner and
DECISION respondent lived separately without prior judicial
dissolution of their marriage. While the two were still Petitioner submits the following issues for our
in Australia, their conjugal assets were divided on consideration:
May 16, 1996, in accordance with their Statutory
1
Declarations secured in Australia.[9]
On March 3, 1998, petitioner filed a Complaint The trial court gravely erred in finding that the
for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage[10] in the court a divorce decree obtained in Australia by the
quo, on the ground of bigamy -- respondent respondent ipso facto terminated his first marriage
allegedly had a prior subsisting marriage at the time to Editha Samson thereby capacitating him to
he married her on January 12, 1994. She claimed contract a second marriage with the petitioner.
that she learned of respondents marriage to Editha
Samson only in November, 1997. 2
In his Answer, respondent averred that, as far
back as 1993, he had revealed to petitioner his prior The failure of the respondent, who is now a
marriage and its subsequent dissolution.[11] He naturalized Australian, to present a certificate of
contended that his first marriage to an Australian legal capacity to marry constitutes absence of a
citizen had been validly dissolved by a divorce substantial requisite voiding the petitioners
decree obtained in Australia in 1989;[12] thus, he was marriage to the respondent
legally capacitated to marry petitioner in 1994.
3
On July 7, 1998 -- or about five years after the
couples wedding and while the suit for the The trial court seriously erred in the application of
declaration of nullity was pending -- respondent was Art. 26 of the Family Code in this case.
able to secure a divorce decree from a family court
in Sydney, Australia because the marriage ha[d]
4
irretrievably broken down.[13]
Respondent prayed in his Answer that the The trial court patently and grievously erred in
Complaint be dismissed on the ground that it stated disregarding Arts. 11, 13, 21, 35, 40, 52 and 53 of
no cause of action.[14] The Office of the Solicitor the Family Code as the applicable provisions in this
General agreed with respondent.[15] The court case.
marked and admitted the documentary evidence of
both parties.[16] After they submitted their respective 5
memoranda, the case was submitted for
resolution.[17] The trial court gravely erred in pronouncing that the
Thereafter, the trial court rendered the assailed divorce decree obtained by the respondent in
Decision and Order. Australia ipso facto capacitated the parties to
remarry, without first securing a recognition of the
judgment granting the divorce decree before our
courts.[19]
Ruling of the Trial Court
The Petition raises five issues, but for purposes
The trial court declared the marriage dissolved of this Decision, we shall concentrate on two pivotal
on the ground that the divorce issued in Australia ones: (1) whether the divorce between respondent
was valid and recognized in the Philippines. It and Editha Samson was proven, and (2) whether
deemed the marriage ended, but not on the basis of respondent was proven to be legally capacitated to
any defect in an essential element of the marriage; marry petitioner. Because of our ruling on these two,
that is, respondents alleged lack of legal capacity to there is no more necessity to take up the rest.
remarry. Rather, it based its Decision on the divorce
decree obtained by respondent. The Australian
divorce had ended the marriage; thus, there was no The Courts Ruling
more marital union to nullify or annul.
Hence, this Petition.[18] The Petition is partly meritorious.

Issues First Issue:


Proving the Divorce Between Respondent and and 52 of the Family Code. These articles read as
Editha Samson follows:

ART. 11. Where a marriage license is required,


Petitioner assails the trial courts recognition of each of the contracting parties shall file separately
the divorce between respondent and Editha a sworn application for such license with the proper
Samson. Citing Adong v. Cheong Seng local civil registrar which shall specify the following:
Gee,[20] petitioner argues that the divorce decree,
like any other foreign judgment, may be given
xxxxxxxxx
recognition in this jurisdiction only upon proof of the
existence of (1) the foreign law allowing absolute
divorce and (2) the alleged divorce decree itself. She (5) If previously married, how, when and where the
adds that respondent miserably failed to establish previous marriage was dissolved or annulled;
these elements.
xxxxxxxxx
Petitioner adds that, based on the first
paragraph of Article 26 of the Family Code, ART. 13. In case either of the contracting parties
marriages solemnized abroad are governed by the has been previously married, the applicant shall be
law of the place where they were celebrated (the lex required to
loci celebrationis). In effect, the Code requires the
presentation of the foreign law to show the ART. 13. In case either of the contracting parties
conformity of the marriage in question to the legal has been previously married, the applicant shall be
requirements of the place where the marriage was required to furnish, instead of the birth or baptismal
performed. certificate required in the last preceding article, the
At the outset, we lay the following basic legal death certificate of the deceased spouse or the
principles as the take-off points for our judicial decree of the absolute divorce, or the
discussion. Philippine law does not provide for judicial decree of annulment or declaration of nullity
absolute divorce; hence, our courts cannot grant of his or her previous marriage. x x x.
it.[21] A marriage between two Filipinos cannot be
dissolved even by a divorce obtained abroad, ART. 52. The judgment of annulment or of absolute
because of Articles 15[22] and 17[23] of the Civil nullity of the marriage, the partition and distribution
Code.[24] In mixed marriages involving a Filipino and of the properties of the spouses, and the delivery of
a foreigner, Article 26[25] of the Family Code allows the childrens presumptive legitimes shall be
the former to contract a subsequent marriage in case recorded in the appropriate civil registry and
the divorce is validly obtained abroad by the alien registries of property; otherwise, the same shall not
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry.[26] A affect their persons.
divorce obtained abroad by a couple, who are both
aliens, may be recognized in the Philippines, Respondent, on the other hand, argues that the
provided it is consistent with their respective national Australian divorce decree is a public document -- a
laws.[27] written official act of an Australian family
court. Therefore, it requires no further proof of its
A comparison between marriage and divorce, authenticity and due execution.
as far as pleading and proof are concerned, can be
made. Van Dorn v. Romillo Jr. decrees that aliens Respondent is getting ahead of himself. Before
may obtain divorces abroad, which may be a foreign judgment is given presumptive evidentiary
recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid value, the document must first be presented and
according to their national law.[28] Therefore, before admitted in evidence.[30] A divorce obtained abroad
a foreign divorce decree can be recognized by our is proven by the divorce decree itself. Indeed the
courts, the party pleading it must prove the divorce best evidence of a judgment is the judgment
as a fact and demonstrate its conformity to the itself.[31] The decree purports to be a written act or
foreign law allowing it.[29] Presentation solely of the record of an act of an official body or tribunal of a
divorce decree is insufficient. foreign country.[32]
Divorce as a Question of Fact Under Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132, on the
other hand, a writing or document may be proven as
Petitioner insists that before a divorce decree a public or official record of a foreign country by
can be admitted in evidence, it must first comply with
either (1) an official publication or (2) a copy thereof
the registration requirements under Articles 11, 13
attested[33] by the officer having legal custody of the when those are denied by the answer; and
document. If the record is not kept in the Philippines, defendants have the burden of proving the material
such copy must be (a) accompanied by a certificate allegations in their answer when they introduce new
issued by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in matters.[42] Since the divorce was a defense raised
the Philippine foreign service stationed in the foreign by respondent, the burden of proving the pertinent
country in which the record is kept and (b) Australian law validating it falls squarely upon him.
authenticated by the seal of his office. [34]
It is well-settled in our jurisdiction that our courts
The divorce decree between respondent and cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws.[43] Like
Editha Samson appears to be an authentic one any other facts, they must be alleged and
issued by an Australian family court.[35] However, proved. Australian marital laws are not among those
appearance is not sufficient; compliance with the matters that judges are supposed to know by reason
aforementioned rules on evidence must be of their judicial function.[44] The power of judicial
demonstrated. notice must be exercised with caution, and every
reasonable doubt upon the subject should be
Fortunately for respondents cause, when the
resolved in the negative.
divorce decree of May 18, 1989 was submitted in
evidence, counsel for petitioner objected, not to its
admissibility, but only to the fact that it had not been
registered in the Local Civil Registry of Cabanatuan Second Issue: Respondents Legal Capacity to
City.[36] The trial court ruled that it was admissible, Remarry
subject to petitioners qualification.[37] Hence, it was
admitted in evidence and accorded weight by the Petitioner contends that, in view of the
judge. Indeed, petitioners failure to object properly insufficient proof of the divorce, respondent was
rendered the divorce decree admissible as a written legally incapacitated to marry her in 1994. Hence,
act of the Family Court of Sydney, Australia.[38] she concludes that their marriage was void ab initio.
Compliance with the quoted articles (11, 13 and Respondent replies that the Australian divorce
52) of the Family Code is not necessary; respondent decree, which was validly admitted in evidence,
was no longer bound by Philippine personal laws adequately established his legal capacity to marry
after he acquired Australian citizenship in under Australian law.
1992.[39] Naturalization is the legal act of adopting an
alien and clothing him with the political and civil Respondents contention is untenable. In its
rights belonging to a citizen.[40] Naturalized citizens, strict legal sense, divorce means the legal
freed from the protective cloak of their former states, dissolution of a lawful union for a cause arising after
don the attires of their adoptive countries. By marriage. But divorces are of different types. The
becoming an Australian, respondent severed his two basic ones are (1) absolute divorce or a vinculo
allegiance to the Philippines and the vinculum matrimonii and (2) limited divorce or a mensa et
juris that had tied him to Philippine personal laws. thoro. The first kind terminates the marriage, while
the second suspends it and leaves the bond in full
Burden of Proving Australian Law force.[45] There is no showing in the case at bar
Respondent contends that the burden to prove which type of divorce was procured by respondent.
Australian divorce law falls upon petitioner, because Respondent presented a decree nisi or an
she is the party challenging the validity of a foreign interlocutory decree -- a conditional or provisional
judgment. He contends that petitioner was satisfied judgment of divorce. It is in effect the same as a
with the original of the divorce decree and was separation from bed and board, although an
cognizant of the marital laws of Australia, because absolute divorce may follow after the lapse of the
she had lived and worked in that country for quite a prescribed period during which no reconciliation is
long time. Besides, the Australian divorce law is effected.[46]
allegedly known by Philippine courts; thus, judges
may take judicial notice of foreign laws in the Even after the divorce becomes absolute, the
exercise of sound discretion. court may under some foreign statutes and
practices, still restrict remarriage. Under some other
We are not persuaded. The burden of proof lies jurisdictions, remarriage may be limited by statute;
with the party who alleges the existence of a fact or thus, the guilty party in a divorce which was granted
thing necessary in the prosecution or defense of an on the ground of adultery may be prohibited from
action.[41] In civil cases, plaintiffs have the burden of marrying again. The court may allow a remarriage
proving the material allegations of the complaint only after proof of good behavior.[47]
On its face, the herein Australian divorce decree annulment between Rederick A. Recio and Editha D.
contains a restriction that reads: Samson was in its records;[54] and (e) Exhibit E
Certificate of Australian Citizenship of Rederick A.
1. A party to a marriage who marries again Recio;[55] (2) for respondent: (a) Exhibit 1 --
before this decree becomes absolute Amended Answer;[56] (b) Exhibit 2 Family Law Act
(unless the other party has died) 1975 Decree Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in the
commits the offence of bigamy.[48] Family Court of Australia;[57] (c) Exhibit 3 Certificate
This quotation bolsters our contention that the of Australian Citizenship of Rederick A. Recio;[58] (d)
divorce obtained by respondent may have been Exhibit 4 Decree Nisi of Dissolution of Marriage in
restricted. It did not absolutely establish his legal the Family Court of Australia Certificate;[59] and
capacity to remarry according to his national Exhibit 5 -- Statutory Declaration of the Legal
law. Hence, we find no basis for the ruling of the trial Separation Between Rederick A. Recio and Grace J.
court, which erroneously assumed that the Garcia Recio since October 22, 1995.[60]
Australian divorce ipso facto restored respondents Based on the above records, we cannot
capacity to remarry despite the paucity of evidence
conclude that respondent, who was then a
on this matter. naturalized Australian citizen, was legally
We also reject the claim of respondent that the capacitated to marry petitioner on January 12,
divorce decree raises a disputable presumption or 1994. We agree with petitioners contention that the
presumptive evidence as to his civil status based on court a quo erred in finding that the divorce decree
Section 48, Rule 39[49] of the Rules of Court, for the ipso facto clothed respondent with the legal capacity
simple reason that no proof has been presented on to remarry without requiring him to adduce sufficient
the legal effects of the divorce decree obtained evidence to show the Australian personal law
under Australian laws. governing his status; or at the very least, to prove his
legal capacity to contract the second marriage.
Significance of the Certificate of Legal Capacity
Neither can we grant petitioners prayer to
Petitioner argues that the certificate of legal declare her marriage to respondent null and void on
capacity required by Article 21 of the Family Code the ground of bigamy. After all, it may turn out that
was not submitted together with the application for a under Australian law, he was really capacitated to
marriage license. According to her, its absence is marry petitioner as a direct result of the divorce
proof that respondent did not have legal capacity to decree. Hence, we believe that the most judicious
remarry. course is to remand this case to the trial court to
We clarify. To repeat, the legal capacity to receive evidence, if any, which show petitioners
contract marriage is determined by the national law legal capacity to marry petitioner. Failing in that,
of the party concerned. The certificate mentioned in then the court a quo may declare a nullity of the
Article 21 of the Family Code would have been parties marriage on the ground of bigamy, there
sufficient to establish the legal capacity of being already in evidence two existing marriage
respondent, had he duly presented it in court. A duly certificates, which were both obtained in the
authenticated and admitted certificate is prima facie Philippines, one in Malabon, Metro Manila dated
evidence of legal capacity to marry on the part of the March 1, 1987 and the other, in Cabanatuan City
alien applicant for a marriage license.[50] dated January 12, 1994.

As it is, however, there is absolutely no WHEREFORE, in the interest of orderly


evidence that proves respondents legal capacity to procedure and substantial justice, we REMAND the
marry petitioner. A review of the records before this case to the court a quo for the purpose of receiving
Court shows that only the following exhibits were evidence which conclusively show respondents
presented before the lower court: (1) for petitioner: legal capacity to marry petitioner; and failing in that,
(a) Exhibit A Complaint;[51] (b) Exhibit B Certificate of of declaring the parties marriage void on the ground
Marriage Between Rederick A. Recio (Filipino- of bigamy, as above discussed. No costs.
Australian) and Grace J. Garcia (Filipino) on January SO ORDERED.
12, 1994 in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija;[52] (c)
Exhibit C Certificate of Marriage Between Rederick Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, and Sandoval-
A. Recio (Filipino) and Editha D. Samson Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
(Australian) on March 1, 1987 in Malabon, Metro
Manila;[53] (d) Exhibit D Office of the City Registrar of
Cabanatuan City Certification that no information of
Tupaz in the same locality but their relationship also
ended in a divorce. Still in the U.S.A., she married
for the third time, to a certain Wernimont.
On 16 April 1972 Arturo died. He left no will. On
31 August 1972 Lino Javier Inciong filed a petition
with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for
issuance of letters of administration concerning the
estate of Arturo in favor of the Philippine Trust
Company. Respondent Blandina Dandan (also
referred to as Blandina Padlan), claiming to be the
surviving spouse of Arturo Padlan, and Claro, Alexis,
Ricardo, Emmanuel, Zenaida and Yolanda, all
surnamed Padlan, named in the petition as surviving
children of Arturo Padlan, opposed the petition and
prayed for the appointment instead of Atty. Leonardo
Cabasal, which was resolved in favor of the
latter. Upon motion of the oppositors themselves,
Atty. Cabasal was later replaced by Higino
Castillon. On 30 April 1973 the oppositors (Blandina
and the Padlan children) submitted certified
photocopies of the 19 July 1950 private writing and
the final judgment of divorce between petitioner and
Arturo. Later Ruperto T. Padlan, claiming to be the
sole surviving brother of the deceased Arturo,
intervened.
On 7 October 1987 petitioner moved for the
immediate declaration of heirs of the decedent and
the distribution of his estate. At the scheduled
SECOND DIVISION
hearing on 23 October 1987, private respondent as
well as the six (6) Padlan children and Ruperto failed
to appear despite due notice. On the same day, the
[G.R. No. 124862. December 22, 1998] trial court required the submission of the records of
birth of the Padlan children within ten (10) days from
receipt thereof, after which, with or without the
documents, the issue on the declaration of heirs
FE D. QUITA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF would be considered submitted for resolution. The
APPEALS and BLANDINA prescribed period lapsed without the required
DANDAN,* respondents. documents being submitted.
The trial court invoking Tenchavez v.
DECISION Escao[1] which held that "a foreign divorce between
BELLOSILLO, J .: Filipino citizens sought and
decreed after the effectivity of the present Civil
Code (Rep. Act 386) was not entitled to recognition
FE D. QUITA and Arturo T. Padlan, both
as valid in this jurisdiction,"[2] disregarded the
Filipinos, were married in the Philippines on 18 May
divorce between petitioner and
1941. They were not however blessed with
Arturo. Consequently, it expressed the view that
children. Somewhere along the way their
their marriage subsisted until the death of Arturo in
relationship soured. Eventually Fe sued Arturo for
1972. Neither did it consider valid their extrajudicial
divorce in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. She
settlement of conjugal properties due to lack of
submitted in the divorce proceedings a private
judicial approval.[3] On the other hand, it opined that
writing dated 19 July 1950 evidencing their
there was no showing that marriage existed between
agreement to live separately from each other and a
private respondent and Arturo, much less was it
settlement of their conjugal properties. On 23 July
shown that the alleged Padlan children had been
1954 she obtained a final judgment of divorce. Three
acknowledged by the deceased as his children with
(3) weeks thereafter she married a certain Felix
her. As regards Ruperto, it found that he was a
brother of Arturo. On 27 November 1987[4] only the lawful heirs of the deceased person or as to the
petitioner and Ruperto were declared the intestate distributive shares to which each person is entitled
heirs of Arturo. Accordingly, equal adjudication of under the law, the controversy shall be heard and
the net hereditary estate was ordered in favor of the decided as in ordinary cases.
two intestate heirs.[5]
We agree with petitioner that no dispute exists
On motion for reconsideration, Blandina and the either as to the right of the six (6) Padlan children to
Padlan children were allowed to present proofs that inherit from the decedent because there are proofs
the recognition of the children by the deceased as that they have been duly acknowledged by him and
his legitimate children, except Alexis who was petitioner herself even recognizes them as heirs of
recognized as his illegitimate child, had been made Arturo Padlan;[10] nor as to their respective
in their respective records of birth.Thus on 15 hereditary shares. But controversy remains as to
February 1988[6] partial reconsideration was granted who is the legitimate surviving spouse of Arturo. The
declaring the Padlan children, with the exception of trial court, after the parties other than petitioner failed
Alexis, entitled to one-half of the estate to the to appear during the scheduled hearing on 23
exclusion of Ruperto Padlan, and petitioner to the October 1987 of the motion for immediate
other half.[7] Private respondent was not declared an declaration of heirs and distribution of estate, simply
heir. Although it was stated in the aforementioned issued an order requiring the submission of the
records of birth that she and Arturo were married on records of birth of the Padlan children within ten (10)
22 April 1947, their marriage was clearly void since days from receipt thereof, after which, with or without
it was celebrated during the existence of his previous the documents, the issue on declaration of heirs
marriage to petitioner. would be deemed submitted for resolution.
In their appeal to the Court of Appeals, Blandina We note that in her comment to petitioner's
and her children assigned as one of the errors motion private respondent raised, among others, the
allegedly committed by the trial court the issue as to whether petitioner was still entitled to
circumstance that the case was decided without a inherit from the decedent considering that she had
hearing, in violation of Sec. 1, Rule 90, of the Rules secured a divorce in the U.S.A. and in fact had twice
of Court, which provides that if there is a controversy remarried. She also invoked the above quoted
before the court as to who are the lawful heirs of the procedural rule.[11] To this, petitioner replied that
deceased person or as to the distributive shares to Arturo was a Filipino and as such remained legally
which each person is entitled under the law, the married to her in spite of the divorce they
controversy shall be heard and decided as in obtained.[12] Reading between the lines, the
ordinary cases. implication is that petitioner was no longer a Filipino
citizen at the time of her divorce from Arturo. This
Respondent appellate court found this ground should have prompted the trial court to conduct a
alone sufficient to sustain the appeal; hence, on 11 hearing to establish her citizenship. The purpose of
September 1995 it declared null and void the 27 a hearing is to ascertain the truth of the matters in
November 1987 decision and 15 February 1988
issue with the aid of documentary and testimonial
order of the trial court, and directed the remand of evidence as well as the arguments of the parties
the case to the trial court for further either supporting or opposing the evidence. Instead,
proceedings.[8] On 18 April 1996 it denied the lower court perfunctorily settled her claim in her
reconsideration.[9] favor by merely applying the ruling in Tenchavez v.
Should this case be remanded to the lower court Escao.
for further proceedings? Petitioner insists that there Then in private respondent's motion to set aside
is no need because, first, no legal or factual issue and/or reconsider the lower court's decision she
obtains for resolution either as to the heirship of the stressed that the citizenship of petitioner was
Padlan children or as to their respective shares in relevant in the light of the ruling in Van Dorn v.
the intestate estate of the decedent; and, second, Romillo Jr.[13] that aliens may obtain divorces
the issue as to who between petitioner and private abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines,
respondent is the proper heir of the decedent is one provided they are valid according to their national
of law which can be resolved in the present petition law. She prayed therefore that the case be set for
based on established facts and admissions of the hearing.[14] Petitioner opposed the motion but failed
parties. to squarely address the issue on her
We cannot sustain petitioner. The provision citizenship.[15] The trial court did not grant private
relied upon by respondent court is clear: If there is respondent's prayer for a hearing but proceeded to
a controversy before the court as to who are resolve her motion with the finding that both
petitioner and Arturo were "Filipino citizens and were facts and circumstances. There must also be
married in the Philippines."[16] It maintained that their identical causes of action, subject matter and
divorce obtained in 1954 in San Francisco, issue.[22] The present petition deals with declaration
California, U.S.A., was not valid in Philippine of heirship while the subsequent petitions filed
jurisdiction. We deduce that the finding on their before the three (3) trial courts concern the issuance
citizenship pertained solely to the time of new owner's duplicate copies of titles of certain
of their marriage as the trial court was not supplied properties belonging to the estate of
with a basis to determine petitioner's citizenship at Arturo. Obviously, there is no reason to declare the
the time of their divorce. The doubt persisted as to existence of forum shopping.
whether she was still a Filipino citizen when their
divorce was decreed. The trial court must have WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The
overlooked the materiality of this aspect. Once decision of respondent Court of Appeals ordering
proved that she was no longer a Filipino citizen at the remand of the case to the court of origin for
the time of their divorce, Van Dorn would become further proceedings and declaring null and void its
decision holding petitioner Fe D. Quita and Ruperto
applicable and petitioner could very well lose her
right to inherit from Arturo. T. Padlan as intestate heirs isAFFIRMED. The order
of the appellate court modifying its previous decision
Respondent again raised in her appeal the by granting one-half (1/2) of the net hereditary estate
issue on petitioner's citizenship;[17] it did not merit to the Padlan children, namely, Claro, Ricardo,
enlightenment however from petitioner.[18] In the Emmanuel, Zenaida and Yolanda, with the
present proceeding, petitioner's citizenship is exception of Alexis, all surnamed Padlan, instead of
brought anew to the fore by private respondent. She Arturo's brotherRuperto Padlan, is likewise
even furnishes the Court with the transcript of AFFIRMED. The Court however emphasizes that
stenographic notes taken on 5 May 1995 during the the reception of evidence by the trial court should be
hearing for the reconstitution of the original of a limited to the hereditary rights of petitioner as the
certain transfer certificate title as well as the surviving spouse of Arturo Padlan.
issuance of new owner's duplicate copy thereof
The motion to declare petitioner and her
before another trial court. When asked whether she
was an American citizen petitioner answered that counsel in contempt of court and to dismiss the
she was since 1954.[19] Significantly, the decree of present petition for forum shopping is DENIED.
divorce of petitioner and Arturo was obtained in the SO ORDERED.
same year. Petitioner however did not bother to file
a reply memorandum to erase the uncertainty about
her citizenship at the time of their divorce, a factual
issue requiring hearings to be conducted by the trial
court. Consequently, respondent appellate court did
not err in ordering the case returned to the trial court
for further proceedings.
We emphasize however that the question to be
determined by the trial court should be limited only
to the right of petitioner to inherit from Arturo as his
surviving spouse. Private respondent's claim to
heirship was already resolved by the trial court. She
and Arturo were married on 22 April 1947 while the
prior marriage of petitioner and Arturo
was subsisting thereby resulting in a bigamous
marriage considered void from the beginning under
Arts. 80 and 83 of the Civil Code. Consequently, she
is not a surviving spouse that can inherit from him as
this status presupposes a legitimate relationship.[20]
As regards the motion of private respondent for
petitioner and her counsel to be declared in
contempt of court and that the present petition be
dismissed for forum shopping,[21] the same lacks
merit. For forum shopping to exist the actions must
involve the same transactions and same essential
Methodist Church at T.M. Kalaw Street, Ermita,
Manila while the second took place at the Lourdes
Catholic Church in La Loma, Quezon City. The
marriage produced four children.

Several years later, the couple encountered marital


problems that they decided to separate from each
other. Upon advice of a mutual friend, they decided
to obtain a divorce from the Dominican Republic.
Thus, on April 27, 1984, Tristan and Lily executed a
Special Power of Attorney addressed to the Judge
of the First Civil Court of San Cristobal, Dominican
Republic, appointing an attorney-in-fact to institute a
divorce action under its laws.6

Thereafter, on April 30, 1984, the private


respondents filed a joint petition for dissolution of
conjugal partnership with the Regional Trial Court of
Makati. On June 12, 1984, the civil court in the
Dominican Republic ratified the divorce by mutual
consent of Tristan and Lily. Subsequently, on June
23, 1984, the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
Branch 133, ordered the complete separation of
Republic of the Philippines properties between Tristan and Lily.
SUPREME COURT
Manila On July 14, 1984, Tristan married petitioner Elmar
O. Perez in the State of Virginia in the United
FIRST DIVISION States7 and both lived as husband and wife until
October 2001. Their union produced one offspring.8
G.R. No. 162580 January 27, 2006
During their cohabitation, petitioner learned that the
divorce decree issued by the court in the Dominican
ELMAR O. PEREZ, Petitioner,
Republic which "dissolved" the marriage between
vs.
Tristan and Lily was not recognized in the
COURT OF APPEALS, Fifth Division, TRISTAN A.
Philippines and that her marriage to Tristan was
CATINDIG and LILY GOMEZ-
deemed void under Philippine law. When she
CATINDIG, Respondents.
confronted Tristan about this, the latter assured her
that he would legalize their union after he obtains an
DECISION annulment of his marriage with Lily. Tristan further
promised the petitioner that he would adopt their son
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: so that he would be entitled to an equal share in his
estate as that of each of his children with Lily.9
This petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule
65 of the Rules of Court assails the July 25, 2003 On August 13, 2001, Tristan filed a petition for the
Decision1of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. declaration of nullity of his marriage to Lily with the
74456 which set aside and declared as null and void Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, docketed as
the September 30, 2002 Order2 of the Regional Trial Case No. Q-01-44847.
Court of Quezon City, Branch 84, granting
petitioners motion for leave to file intervention and Subsequently, petitioner filed a Motion for Leave to
admitting the Complaint-in-Intervention3 in Civil File Intervention10 claiming that she has a legal
Case No. Q-01-44847; and its January 23, 2004 interest in the matter in litigation because she knows
Resolution4 denying the motion for reconsideration. certain information which might aid the trial court at
a truthful, fair and just adjudication of the annulment
Private respondent Tristan A. Catindig married Lily case, which the trial court granted on September 30,
Gomez Catindig5 twice on May 16, 1968. The first 2002. Petitioners complaint-in-intervention was also
marriage ceremony was celebrated at the Central ordered admitted.
Tristan filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition usually used in tandem with the term "arbitrary,"
with the Court of Appeals seeking to annul the order conveys the notion of willful and unreasoning action.
dated September 30, 2002 of the trial court. The Thus, when seeking the corrective hand of certiorari,
Court of Appeals granted the petition and declared a clear showing of caprice and arbitrariness in the
as null and void the September 30, 2002 Order of exercise of discretion is imperative.14
the trial court granting the motion for leave to file
intervention and admitting the complaint-in- The Rules of Court laid down the parameters before
intervention. a person, not a party to a case can intervene, thus:

Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied, Who may intervene. A person who has a legal
hence this petition for certiorari and prohibition filed interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Petitioner either of the parties, or an interest against both, or is
contends that the Court of Appeals gravely abused so situated as to be adversely affected by a
its discretion in disregarding her legal interest in the distribution or other disposition of property in the
annulment case between Tristan and Lily. custody of the court or of an officer thereof may, with
leave of court, be allowed to intervene in the action.
The petition lacks merit. The court shall consider whether or not the
intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the
Ordinarily, the proper recourse of an aggrieved party adjudication of the rights of the original parties, and
from a decision of the Court of Appeals is a petition whether or not the intervenors rights may be fully
for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of protected in a separate proceeding.15
Court. However, if the error subject of the recourse
is one of jurisdiction, or the act complained of was The requirements for intervention are: [a] legal
granted by a court with grave abuse of discretion interest in the matter in litigation; and [b]
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, as consideration must be given as to whether the
alleged in this case, the proper remedy is a petition adjudication of the original parties may be delayed
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the said Rules.11 This or prejudiced, or whether the intervenors rights may
is based on the premise that in issuing the assailed be protected in a separate proceeding or not.16
decision and resolution, the Court of Appeals acted
with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to excess Legal interest, which entitles a person to intervene,
of lack of jurisdiction and there is no plain, speedy must be in the matter in litigation and of such direct
and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. and immediate character that the intervenor will
A remedy is considered plain, speedy, and adequate either gain or lose by direct legal operation and effect
if it will promptly relieve the petitioner from the of the judgment.17 Such interest must be actual,
injurious effect of the judgment and the acts of the direct and material, and not simply contingent and
lower court.12 expectant.18

It is therefore incumbent upon the petitioner to Petitioner claims that her status as the wife and
establish that the Court of Appeals acted with grave companion of Tristan for 17 years vests her with the
abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of requisite legal interest required of a would-be
jurisdiction when it promulgated the assailed intervenor under the Rules of Court.
decision and resolution.
Petitioners claim lacks merit. Under the law,
We have previously ruled that grave abuse of petitioner was never the legal wife of Tristan, hence
discretion may arise when a lower court or tribunal her claim of legal interest has no basis.
violates or contravenes the Constitution, the law or
existing jurisprudence. By grave abuse of discretion When petitioner and Tristan married on July 14,
is meant, such capricious and whimsical exercise of 1984, Tristan was still lawfully married to Lily. The
judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The divorce decree that Tristan and Lily obtained from
abuse of discretion must be grave as where the the Dominican Republic never dissolved the
power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic marriage bond between them. It is basic that laws
manner by reason of passion or personal hostility relating to family rights and duties, or to the status,
and must be so patent and gross as to amount to an condition and legal capacity of persons are binding
evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living
perform the duty enjoined by or to act at all in abroad.19 Regardless of where a citizen of the
contemplation of law.13 The word "capricious," Philippines might be, he or she will be governed by
Philippine laws with respect to his or her family rights
and duties, or to his or her status, condition and legal
capacity. Hence, if a Filipino regardless of whether
he or she was married here or abroad, initiates a
petition abroad to obtain an absolute divorce from
spouse and eventually becomes successful in
getting an absolute divorce decree, the Philippines
will not recognize such absolute divorce.20

When Tristan and Lily married on May 18, 1968,


their marriage was governed by the provisions of the
Civil Code21 which took effect on August 30, 1950.
In the case of Tenchavez v. Escano22 we held:

(1) That a foreign divorce between Filipino citizens,


sought and decreed after the effectivity of the
present Civil Code (Rep. Act No. 386), is not entitled
to recognition as valid in this jurisdiction; and neither
is the marriage contracted with another party by the
divorced consort, subsequently to the foreign decree
of divorce, entitled to validity in the country.
(Emphasis added)

Thus, petitioners claim that she is the wife of Tristan


even if their marriage was celebrated abroad lacks
merit. Thus, petitioner never acquired the legal
interest as a wife upon which her motion for
intervention is based.

Since petitioners motion for leave to file intervention


was bereft of the indispensable requirement of legal
interest, the issuance by the trial court of the order
granting the same and admitting the complaint-in-
intervention was attended with grave abuse of
discretion. Consequently, the Court of Appeals
correctly set aside and declared as null and void the
said order.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The


assailed Decision dated July 25, 2003 and
Resolution dated January 23, 2004 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 74456 are AFFIRMED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
children, namely: Rodolfo, Mila, Edgar, Linda,
Emilita and Manuel. On August 11, 1963, Virginia
predeceased Felicisimo.

Five years later, on May 1, 1968, Felicisimo married


Merry Lee Corwin, with whom he had a son, Tobias.
However, on October 15, 1971, Merry Lee, an
American citizen, filed a Complaint for
Divorce 5 before the Family Court of the First Circuit,
State of Hawaii, United States of America (U.S.A.),
which issued a Decree Granting Absolute Divorce
and Awarding Child Custody on December 14,
1973. 6

Republic of the Philippines On June 20, 1974, Felicisimo married respondent


SUPREME COURT Felicidad San Luis, then surnamed Sagalongos,
Manila before Rev. Fr. William Meyer, Minister of the United
Presbyterian at Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles,
California, U.S.A. 7 He had no children with
THIRD DIVISION
respondent but lived with her for 18 years from the
time of their marriage up to his death on December
G.R. No. 133743 February 6, 2007 18, 1992.
EDGAR SAN LUIS, Petitioner, Thereafter, respondent sought the dissolution of
vs. their conjugal partnership assets and the settlement
FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, Respondent. of Felicisimos estate. On December 17, 1993, she
filed a petition for letters of administration 8 before
x ---------------------------------------------------- x the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, docketed as
SP. Proc. No. M-3708 which was raffled to Branch
G.R. No. 134029 February 6, 2007 146 thereof.

RODOLFO SAN LUIS, Petitioner, Respondent alleged that she is the widow of
vs. Felicisimo; that, at the time of his death, the
FELICIDAD SAGALONGOS alias FELICIDAD decedent was residing at 100 San Juanico Street,
SAN LUIS, Respondent. New Alabang Village, Alabang, Metro Manila; that
the decedents surviving heirs are respondent as
DECISION legal spouse, his six children by his first marriage,
and son by his second marriage; that the decedent
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: left real properties, both conjugal and exclusive,
valued at P30,304,178.00 more or less; that the
Before us are consolidated petitions for review decedent does not have any unpaid debts.
assailing the February 4, 1998 Decision 1 of the Respondent prayed that the conjugal partnership
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 52647, which assets be liquidated and that letters of administration
reversed and set aside the September 12, be issued to her.
1995 2 and January 31, 1996 3Resolutions of the
Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 134 in On February 4, 1994, petitioner Rodolfo San Luis,
SP. Proc. No. M-3708; and its May 15, 1998 one of the children of Felicisimo by his first marriage,
Resolution 4 denying petitioners motion for filed a motion to dismiss 9 on the grounds of
reconsideration. improper venue and failure to state a cause of
action. Rodolfo claimed that the petition for letters of
The instant case involves the settlement of the administration should have been filed in the
estate of Felicisimo T. San Luis (Felicisimo), who Province of Laguna because this was Felicisimos
was the former governor of the Province of Laguna. place of residence prior to his death. He further
During his lifetime, Felicisimo contracted three claimed that respondent has no legal personality to
marriages. His first marriage was with Virginia Sulit file the petition because she was only a mistress of
on March 17, 1942 out of which were born six
Felicisimo since the latter, at the time of his death, arguing that it does not state the facts and law on
was still legally married to Merry Lee. which it was based.

On February 15, 1994, Linda invoked the same On November 25, 1994, Judge Tensuan issued an
grounds and joined her brother Rodolfo in seeking Order 21 granting the motion for inhibition. The case
the dismissal10 of the petition. On February 28, 1994, was re-raffled to Branch 134 presided by Judge Paul
the trial court issued an Order 11 denying the two T. Arcangel.
motions to dismiss.
On April 24, 1995, 22 the trial court required the
Unaware of the denial of the motions to dismiss, parties to submit their respective position papers on
respondent filed on March 5, 1994 her the twin issues of venue and legal capacity of
opposition 12 thereto. She submitted documentary respondent to file the petition. On May 5, 1995,
evidence showing that while Felicisimo exercised Edgar manifested 23 that he is adopting the
the powers of his public office in Laguna, he arguments and evidence set forth in his previous
regularly went home to their house in New Alabang motion for reconsideration as his position paper.
Village, Alabang, Metro Manila which they bought Respondent and Rodolfo filed their position papers
sometime in 1982. Further, she presented the on June 14, 24 and June 20, 25 1995, respectively.
decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family
Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii to prove On September 12, 1995, the trial court dismissed the
that the marriage of Felicisimo to Merry Lee had petition for letters of administration. It held that, at
already been dissolved. Thus, she claimed that the time of his death, Felicisimo was the duly elected
Felicisimo had the legal capacity to marry her by governor and a resident of the Province of Laguna.
virtue of paragraph 2, 13 Article 26 of the Family Hence, the petition should have been filed in Sta.
Code and the doctrine laid down in Van Dorn v. Cruz, Laguna and not in Makati City. It also ruled that
Romillo, Jr. 14 respondent was without legal capacity to file the
petition for letters of administration because her
Thereafter, Linda, Rodolfo and herein petitioner marriage with Felicisimo was bigamous, thus, void
Edgar San Luis, separately filed motions for ab initio. It found that the decree of absolute divorce
reconsideration from the Order denying their dissolving Felicisimos marriage to Merry Lee was
motions to dismiss. 15 They asserted that paragraph not valid in the Philippines and did not bind
2, Article 26 of the Family Code cannot be given Felicisimo who was a Filipino citizen. It also ruled
retroactive effect to validate respondents bigamous that paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code
marriage with Felicisimo because this would impair cannot be retroactively applied because it would
vested rights in derogation of Article 256 16 of the impair the vested rights of Felicisimos legitimate
Family Code. children.

On April 21, 1994, Mila, another daughter of Respondent moved for reconsideration 26 and for
Felicisimo from his first marriage, filed a motion to the disqualification 27 of Judge Arcangel but said
disqualify Acting Presiding Judge Anthony E. Santos motions were denied. 28
from hearing the case.
Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which
On October 24, 1994, the trial court issued an reversed and set aside the orders of the trial court in
Order 17 denying the motions for reconsideration. It its assailed Decision dated February 4, 1998, the
ruled that respondent, as widow of the decedent, dispositive portion of which states:
possessed the legal standing to file the petition and
that venue was properly laid. Meanwhile, the motion WHEREFORE, the Orders dated September 12,
for disqualification was deemed moot and 1995 and January 31, 1996 are hereby REVERSED
academic 18 because then Acting Presiding Judge and SET ASIDE; the Orders dated February 28 and
Santos was substituted by Judge Salvador S. October 24, 1994 are REINSTATED; and the
Tensuan pending the resolution of said motion. records of the case is REMANDED to the trial court
for further proceedings. 29
Mila filed a motion for inhibition 19 against Judge
Tensuan on November 16, 1994. On even date, The appellante court ruled that under Section 1, Rule
Edgar also filed a motion for reconsideration 20 from 73 of the Rules of Court, the term "place of
the Order denying their motion for reconsideration residence" of the decedent, for purposes of fixing the
venue of the settlement of his estate, refers to the
personal, actual or physical habitation, or actual because at the time of his death, Felicisimo was a
residence or place of abode of a person as resident of Sta. Cruz, Laguna. They contend that
distinguished from legal residence or domicile. It pursuant to our rulings in Nuval v. Guray 37 and
noted that although Felicisimo discharged his Romualdez v. RTC, Br. 7, Tacloban
functions as governor in Laguna, he actually resided City, 38 "residence" is synonymous with "domicile"
in Alabang, Muntinlupa. Thus, the petition for letters which denotes a fixed permanent residence to which
of administration was properly filed in Makati City. when absent, one intends to return. They claim that
a person can only have one domicile at any given
The Court of Appeals also held that Felicisimo had time. Since Felicisimo never changed his domicile,
legal capacity to marry respondent by virtue of the petition for letters of administration should have
paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code and the been filed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
rulings in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 30 and Pilapil v.
Ibay-Somera. 31 It found that the marriage between Petitioners also contend that respondents marriage
Felicisimo and Merry Lee was validly dissolved by to Felicisimo was void and bigamous because it was
virtue of the decree of absolute divorce issued by the performed during the subsistence of the latters
Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. As marriage to Merry Lee. They argue that paragraph
a result, under paragraph 2, Article 26, Felicisimo 2, Article 26 cannot be retroactively applied because
was capacitated to contract a subsequent marriage it would impair vested rights and ratify the void
with respondent. Thus bigamous marriage. As such, respondent cannot be
considered the surviving wife of Felicisimo; hence,
With the well-known rule express mandate of she has no legal capacity to file the petition for letters
paragraph 2, Article 26, of the Family Code of the of administration.
Philippines, the doctrines in Van Dorn, Pilapil, and
the reason and philosophy behind the enactment of The issues for resolution: (1) whether venue was
E.O. No. 227, there is no justiciable reason to properly laid, and (2) whether respondent has legal
sustain the individual view sweeping statement capacity to file the subject petition for letters of
of Judge Arc[h]angel, that "Article 26, par. 2 of the administration.
Family Code, contravenes the basic policy of our
state against divorce in any form whatsoever." The petition lacks merit.
Indeed, courts cannot deny what the law grants. All
that the courts should do is to give force and effect Under Section 1, 39 Rule 73 of the Rules of Court,
to the express mandate of the law. The foreign the petition for letters of administration of the estate
divorce having been obtained by the Foreigner on of Felicisimo should be filed in the Regional Trial
December 14, 1992,32 the Filipino divorcee, "shall x Court of the province "in which he resides at the time
x x have capacity to remarry under Philippine laws". of his death." In the case of Garcia Fule v. Court of
For this reason, the marriage between the deceased Appeals, 40 we laid down the doctrinal rule for
and petitioner should not be denominated as "a determining the residence as contradistinguished
bigamous marriage. from domicile of the decedent for purposes of fixing
the venue of the settlement of his estate:
Therefore, under Article 130 of the Family Code, the
petitioner as the surviving spouse can institute the [T]he term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual
judicial proceeding for the settlement of the estate of residence" as distinguished from "legal residence or
the deceased. x x x 33 domicile." This term "resides," like the terms
"residing" and "residence," is elastic and should be
Edgar, Linda, and Rodolfo filed separate motions for interpreted in the light of the object or purpose of the
reconsideration 34 which were denied by the Court of statute or rule in which it is employed. In the
Appeals. application of venue statutes and rules Section 1,
Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such
On July 2, 1998, Edgar appealed to this Court via nature residence rather than domicile is the
the instant petition for review on certiorari. 35 Rodolfo significant factor. Even where the statute uses the
later filed a manifestation and motion to adopt the word "domicile" still it is construed as meaning
said petition which was granted. 36 residence and not domicile in the technical sense.
Some cases make a distinction between the terms
In the instant consolidated petitions, Edgar and "residence" and "domicile" but as generally used in
Rodolfo insist that the venue of the subject petition statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous,
for letters of administration was improperly laid and convey the same meaning as the term
"inhabitant." In other words, "resides" should be San Juanico, Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa"
viewed or understood in its popular sense, meaning, while his office/provincial address is in "Provincial
the personal, actual or physical habitation of a Capitol, Sta. Cruz, Laguna."
person, actual residence or place of abode. It
signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay From the foregoing, we find that Felicisimo was a
thereat. In this popular sense, the term means resident of Alabang, Muntinlupa for purposes of
merely residence, that is, personal residence, not fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate.
legal residence or domicile. Residence simply Consequently, the subject petition for letters of
requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given administration was validly filed in the Regional Trial
place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that Court 50 which has territorial jurisdiction over
place and also an intention to make it ones domicile. Alabang, Muntinlupa. The subject petition was filed
No particular length of time of residence is required on December 17, 1993. At that time, Muntinlupa was
though; however, the residence must be more than still a municipality and the branches of the Regional
temporary. 41 (Emphasis supplied) Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region
which had territorial jurisdiction over Muntinlupa
It is incorrect for petitioners to argue that were then seated in Makati City as per Supreme
"residence," for purposes of fixing the venue of the Court Administrative Order No. 3. 51 Thus, the
settlement of the estate of Felicisimo, is subject petition was validly filed before the Regional
synonymous with "domicile." The rulings in Nuval Trial Court of Makati City.
and Romualdez are inapplicable to the instant case
because they involve election cases. Needless to Anent the issue of respondent Felicidads legal
say, there is a distinction between "residence" for personality to file the petition for letters of
purposes of election laws and "residence" for administration, we must first resolve the issue of
purposes of fixing the venue of actions. In election whether a Filipino who is divorced by his alien
cases, "residence" and "domicile" are treated as spouse abroad may validly remarry under the Civil
synonymous terms, that is, the fixed permanent Code, considering that Felicidads marriage to
residence to which when absent, one has the Felicisimo was solemnized on June 20, 1974, or
intention of returning. 42 However, for purposes of before the Family Code took effect on August 3,
fixing venue under the Rules of Court, the 1988. In resolving this issue, we need not
"residence" of a person is his personal, actual or retroactively apply the provisions of the Family
physical habitation, or actual residence or place of Code, particularly Art. 26, par. (2) considering that
abode, which may not necessarily be his legal there is sufficient jurisprudential basis allowing us to
residence or domicile provided he resides therein rule in the affirmative.
with continuity and consistency. 43 Hence, it is
possible that a person may have his residence in The case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 52 involved a
one place and domicile in another. marriage between a foreigner and his Filipino wife,
which marriage was subsequently dissolved through
In the instant case, while petitioners established that a divorce obtained abroad by the latter. Claiming that
Felicisimo was domiciled in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, the divorce was not valid under Philippine law, the
respondent proved that he also maintained a alien spouse alleged that his interest in the
residence in Alabang, Muntinlupa from 1982 up to properties from their conjugal partnership should be
the time of his death. Respondent submitted in protected. The Court, however, recognized the
evidence the Deed of Absolute Sale 44 dated validity of the divorce and held that the alien spouse
January 5, 1983 showing that the deceased had no interest in the properties acquired by the
purchased the aforesaid property. She also Filipino wife after the divorce. Thus:
presented billing statements 45 from the Philippine
Heart Center and Chinese General Hospital for the In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private
period August to December 1992 indicating the respondent from the marriage from the standards of
address of Felicisimo at "100 San Juanico, Ayala American law, under which divorce dissolves the
Alabang, Muntinlupa." Respondent also presented marriage. As stated by the Federal Supreme Court
proof of membership of the deceased in the Ayala of the United States in Atherton vs. Atherton, 45 L.
Alabang Village Association 46 and Ayala Country Ed. 794, 799:
Club, Inc., 47 letter-envelopes 48from 1988 to 1990
sent by the deceaseds children to him at his "The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce from
Alabang address, and the deceaseds calling the bond of matrimony by a competent jurisdiction
cards 49 stating that his home/city address is at "100 are to change the existing status or domestic relation
of husband and wife, and to free them both from the 1954 when the Civil Code provisions were still in
bond. The marriage tie, when thus severed as to one effect.
party, ceases to bind either. A husband without a
wife, or a wife without a husband, is unknown to the The significance of the Van Dorn case to the
law. When the law provides, in the nature of a development of limited recognition of divorce in the
penalty, that the guilty party shall not marry again, Philippines cannot be denied. The ruling has long
that party, as well as the other, is still absolutely been interpreted as severing marital ties between
freed from the bond of the former marriage." parties in a mixed marriage and capacitating the
Filipino spouse to remarry as a necessary
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private consequence of upholding the validity of a divorce
respondent is no longer the husband of petitioner. obtained abroad by the alien spouse. In his treatise,
He would have no standing to sue in the case below Dr. Arturo M. Tolentino cited Van Dorn stating that "if
as petitioners husband entitled to exercise control the foreigner obtains a valid foreign divorce, the
over conjugal assets. As he is bound by the Decision Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under
of his own countrys Court, which validly exercised Philippine law." 59 In Garcia v. Recio, 60 the Court
jurisdiction over him, and whose decision he does likewise cited the aforementioned case in relation to
not repudiate, he is estopped by his own Article 26. 61
representation before said Court from asserting his
right over the alleged conjugal property. 53 In the recent case of Republic v. Orbecido III, 62 the
historical background and legislative intent behind
As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code were
Court ruled that she should no longer be considered discussed, to wit:
married to the alien spouse. Further, she should not
be required to perform her marital duties and Brief Historical Background
obligations. It held:
On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, signed into law Executive Order No. 209, otherwise
under our laws, petitioner has to be known as the "Family Code," which took effect on
considered still married to private August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states:
respondent and still subject to a wife's
obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in
Code cannot be just. Petitioner should not be accordance with the laws in force in the country
obliged to live together with, observe respect and where they were solemnized, and valid there as
fidelity, and render support to private respondent. such, shall also be valid in this country, except those
The latter should not continue to be one of her heirs prohibited under Articles 35, 37, and 38.
with possible rights to conjugal property. She
should not be discriminated against in her own On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the
country if the ends of justice are to be original Family Code, Executive Order No. 227 was
served. 54 (Emphasis added) likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26, 36,
and 39 of the Family Code. A second paragraph was
This principle was thereafter applied in Pilapil v. added to Article 26. As so amended, it now provides:
Ibay-Somera 55 where the Court recognized the
validity of a divorce obtained abroad. In the said ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the
case, it was held that the alien spouse is not a proper Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in
party in filing the adultery suit against his Filipino the country where they were solemnized, and valid
wife. The Court stated that "the severance of the there as such, shall also be valid in this country,
marital bond had the effect of dissociating the former except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5)
spouses from each other, hence the actuations of and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
one would not affect or cast obloquy on the other." 56
Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a
Likewise, in Quita v. Court of Appeals, 57 the Court foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is
stated that where a Filipino is divorced by his thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
naturalized foreign spouse, the ruling in Van spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the
Dorn applies. 58 Although decided on December 22, Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under
1998, the divorce in the said case was obtained in Philippine law. (Emphasis supplied)
x x x x the lawmaker. Unquestionably, the law should never
Legislative Intent be interpreted in such a way as to cause injustice as
this is never within the legislative intent. An
Records of the proceedings of the Family Code indispensable part of that intent, in fact, for we
deliberations showed that the intent of Paragraph 2 presume the good motives of the legislature, is
of Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, to render justice.
a member of the Civil Code Revision Committee, is
to avoid the absurd situation where the Filipino Thus, we interpret and apply the law not
spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, independently of but in consonance with justice. Law
after obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the and justice are inseparable, and we must keep them
Filipino spouse. so. To be sure, there are some laws that, while
generally valid, may seem arbitrary when applied in
Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its a particular case because of its peculiar
origin to the 1985 case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, circumstances. In such a situation, we are not
Jr. The Van Dorn case involved a marriage bound, because only of our nature and functions, to
between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The apply them just the same, in slavish obedience to
Court held therein that a divorce decree validly their language. What we do instead is find a balance
obtained by the alien spouse is valid in the between the word and the will, that justice may be
Philippines, and consequently, the Filipino done even as the law is obeyed.
spouse is capacitated to remarry under
Philippine law. 63 (Emphasis added) As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and
must not unfeelingly apply the law as it is worded,
As such, the Van Dorn case is sufficient basis in yielding like robots to the literal command without
resolving a situation where a divorce is validly regard to its cause and consequence. "Courts are
obtained abroad by the alien spouse. With the apt to err by sticking too closely to the words of a
enactment of the Family Code and paragraph 2, law," so we are warned, by Justice Holmes again,
Article 26 thereof, our lawmakers codified the law "where these words import a policy that goes beyond
already established through judicial them."
precedent.1awphi1.net
xxxx
Indeed, when the object of a marriage is defeated by
rendering its continuance intolerable to one of the More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined
parties and productive of no possible good to the justice "as the constant and perpetual wish to render
community, relief in some way should be every one his due." That wish continues to motivate
obtainable. 64 Marriage, being a mutual and shared this Court when it assesses the facts and the law in
commitment between two parties, cannot possibly every case brought to it for decision. Justice is
be productive of any good to the society where one always an essential ingredient of its decisions. Thus
is considered released from the marital bond while when the facts warrants, we interpret the law in a
the other remains bound to it. Such is the state of way that will render justice, presuming that it was the
affairs where the alien spouse obtains a valid divorce intention of the lawmaker, to begin with, that the law
abroad against the Filipino spouse, as in this case. be dispensed with justice. 69

Petitioners cite Articles 15 65 and 17 66 of the Civil Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the
Code in stating that the divorce is void under divorce decree allegedly obtained by Merry Lee
Philippine law insofar as Filipinos are concerned. which absolutely allowed Felicisimo to remarry,
However, in light of this Courts rulings in the cases would have vested Felicidad with the legal
discussed above, the Filipino spouse should not be personality to file the present petition as Felicisimos
discriminated against in his own country if the ends surviving spouse. However, the records show that
of justice are to be served. 67 In Alonzo v. there is insufficient evidence to prove the validity of
Intermediate Appellate Court, 68 the Court stated: the divorce obtained by Merry Lee as well as the
marriage of respondent and Felicisimo under the
But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law laws of the U.S.A. In Garcia v. Recio, 70 the Court
by its results; and likewise, we may add, by its laid down the specific guidelines for pleading and
purposes. It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the proving foreign law and divorce judgments. It held
meaning of the law, the first concern of the judge that presentation solely of the divorce decree is
should be to discover in its provisions the intent of insufficient and that proof of its authenticity and due
execution must be presented. Under Sections 24 the existence of which was not denied by petitioners.
and 25 of Rule 132, a writing or document may be If she proves the validity of the divorce and
proven as a public or official record of a foreign Felicisimos capacity to remarry, but fails to prove
country by either (1) an official publication or (2) a that her marriage with him was validly performed
copy thereof attested by the officer having legal under the laws of the U.S.A., then she may be
custody of the document. If the record is not kept in considered as a co-owner under Article 144 76 of the
the Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied Civil Code. This provision governs the property
by a certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or relations between parties who live together as
consular officer in the Philippine foreign service husband and wife without the benefit of marriage, or
stationed in the foreign country in which the record their marriage is void from the beginning. It provides
is kept and (b) authenticated by the seal of his that the property acquired by either or both of them
office. 71 through their work or industry or their wages and
salaries shall be governed by the rules on co-
With regard to respondents marriage to Felicisimo ownership. In a co-ownership, it is not necessary
allegedly solemnized in California, U.S.A., she that the property be acquired through their joint
submitted photocopies of the Marriage Certificate labor, efforts and industry. Any property acquired
and the annotated text 72 of the Family Law Act of during the union is prima facie presumed to have
California which purportedly show that their been obtained through their joint efforts. Hence, the
marriage was done in accordance with the said law. portions belonging to the co-owners shall be
As stated in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take presumed equal, unless the contrary is proven. 77
judicial notice of foreign laws as they must be
alleged and proved. 73 Meanwhile, if respondent fails to prove the validity of
both the divorce and the marriage, the applicable
Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial provision would be Article 148 of the Family Code
court for further reception of evidence on the divorce which has filled the hiatus in Article 144 of the Civil
decree obtained by Merry Lee and the marriage of Code by expressly regulating the property relations
respondent and Felicisimo. of couples living together as husband and wife but
are incapacitated to marry. 78In Saguid v. Court of
Even assuming that Felicisimo was not capacitated Appeals, 79 we held that even if the cohabitation or
to marry respondent in 1974, nevertheless, we find the acquisition of property occurred before the
that the latter has the legal personality to file the Family Code took effect, Article 148 governs. 80 The
subject petition for letters of administration, as she Court described the property regime under this
may be considered the co-owner of Felicisimo as provision as follows:
regards the properties that were acquired through
their joint efforts during their cohabitation. The regime of limited co-ownership of property
governing the union of parties who are not legally
Section 6, 74 Rule 78 of the Rules of Court states that capacitated to marry each other, but who
letters of administration may be granted to the nonetheless live together as husband and wife,
surviving spouse of the decedent. However, Section applies to properties acquired during said
2, Rule 79 thereof also provides in part: cohabitation in proportion to their respective
contributions. Co-ownership will only be up to the
SEC. 2. Contents of petition for letters of extent of the proven actual contribution of money,
administration. A petition for letters of property or industry. Absent proof of the extent
administration must be filed by an interested person thereof, their contributions and corresponding
and must show, as far as known to the petitioner: x shares shall be presumed to be equal.
x x.
xxxx
An "interested person" has been defined as one who
would be benefited by the estate, such as an heir, or In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v.
one who has a claim against the estate, such as a Fernandez, which involved the issue of co-
creditor. The interest must be material and direct, ownership of properties acquired by the parties to a
and not merely indirect or contingent. 75 bigamous marriage and an adulterous relationship,
respectively, we ruled that proof of actual
In the instant case, respondent would qualify as an contribution in the acquisition of the property is
interested person who has a direct interest in the essential. x x x
estate of Felicisimo by virtue of their cohabitation,
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon
the party who, as determined by the pleadings or the
nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue.
Contentions must be proved by competent evidence
and reliance must be had on the strength of the
partys own evidence and not upon the weakness of
the opponents defense. x x x81

In view of the foregoing, we find that respondents


legal capacity to file the subject petition for letters of
administration may arise from her status as the
surviving wife of Felicisimo or as his co-owner under
Article 144 of the Civil Code or Article 148 of the
Family Code.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The


Decision of the Court of Appeals reinstating and
affirming the February 28, 1994 Order of the
Regional Trial Court which denied petitioners
motion to dismiss and its October 24, 1994 Order
which dismissed petitioners motion for
reconsideration is AFFIRMED. Let this case be
REMANDED to the trial court for further
proceedings.

SO ORDERED.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:
ceremony conducted by the Justice of the Peace of
Paraaque, Rizal on September 10, 1947 and later
solemnized in a church ceremony at the Pro-
Cathedral in San Miguel, Bulacan on September 12,
Republic of the Philippines 1948. In ATTY. LUNAs marriage to EUGENIA, they
SUPREME COURT begot seven (7) children, namely: Regina Maria L.
Manila Nadal, Juan Luis Luna, Araceli Victoria L. Arellano,
Ana Maria L. Tabunda, Gregorio Macario Luna,
FIRST DIVISION Carolina Linda L. Tapia, and Cesar Antonio Luna.
After almost two (2) decades of marriage, ATTY.
G.R. No. 171914 July 23, 2014 LUNA and EUGENIA eventually agreed to live apart
from each other in February 1966 and agreed to
SOLEDAD L. LAVADIA, Petitioner, separation of property, to which end, they entered
vs. into a written agreement entitled "AGREEMENT
HEIRS OF JUAN LUCES LUNA, represented by FOR SEPARATION AND PROPERTY
GREGORIO Z. LUNA and EUGENIA SETTLEMENT" dated November 12, 1975, whereby
ZABALLERO-LUNA, Respondents. they agreed to live separately and to dissolve and
liquidate their conjugal partnership of property.
DECISION
On January 12, 1976, ATTY. LUNA obtained a
BERSAMIN, J.: divorce decree of his marriage with EUGENIA from
the Civil and Commercial Chamber of the First
Circumscription of the Court of First Instance of Sto.
Divorce between Filipinos is void and ineffectual
under the nationality rule adopted by Philippine law. Domingo, Dominican Republic. Also in
Hence, any settlement of property between the Sto.Domingo, Dominican Republic, on the same
parties of the first marriage involving Filipinos date, ATTY. LUNA contracted another marriage, this
submitted as an incident of a divorce obtained in a time with SOLEDAD. Thereafter, ATTY. LUNA and
foreign country lacks competent judicial approval, SOLEDAD returned to the Philippines and lived
and cannot be enforceable against the assets of the together as husband and wife until 1987.
husband who contracts a subsequent marriage.
Sometime in 1977, ATTY. LUNA organized a new
The Case law firm named: Luna, Puruganan, Sison and
Ongkiko (LUPSICON) where ATTY. LUNA was the
managing partner.
The petitioner, the second wife of the late Atty. Juan
Luces Luna, appeals the adverse decision
promulgated on November 11, 2005,1 whereby the On February 14, 1978, LUPSICON through ATTY.
Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed with modification the LUNA purchased from Tandang Sora Development
decision rendered on August 27, 2001 by the Corporation the 6th Floor of Kalaw-Ledesma
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 138, in Makati Condominium Project(condominium unit) at
City.2 The CA thereby denied her right in the 25/100 Gamboa St., Makati City, consisting of 517.52
pro indiviso share of the husband in a condominium square meters, for P1,449,056.00, to be paid on
unit, and in the law books of the husband acquired installment basis for 36months starting on April 15,
during the second marriage. 1978. Said condominium unit was to be usedas law
office of LUPSICON. After full payment, the Deed of
Absolute Sale over the condominium unit was
Antecedents
executed on July 15, 1983, and CCT No. 4779 was
issued on August 10, 1983, which was registered
The antecedent facts were summarized by the CA bearing the following names:
as follows:
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna
ATTY. LUNA, a practicing lawyer, was at first a (46/100); MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to Sonia
name partner in the prestigious law firm Sycip, P.G. Ongkiko (25/100); GREGORIO R.
Salazar, Luna, Manalo, Hernandez & Feliciano Law PURUGANAN, married to Paz A. Puruganan
Offices at that time when he was living with his first (17/100); and TERESITA CRUZ SISON, married to
wife, herein intervenor-appellant Eugenia Zaballero- Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x x x" Subsequently,
Luna (EUGENIA), whom he initially married ina civil 8/100 share of ATTY. LUNA and 17/100 share of
Atty. Gregorio R. Puruganan in the condominium administer the subject properties;and that the heirs
unit was sold to Atty. Mario E. Ongkiko, for which a of ATTY. LUNA be ordered to pay attorneys feesand
new CCT No. 21761 was issued on February 7, costs of the suit to SOLEDAD.3
1992 in the following names:
Ruling of the RTC
"JUAN LUCES LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna
(38/100); MARIO E. ONGKIKO, married to Sonia On August 27, 2001, the RTC rendered its decision
P.G. Ongkiko (50/100); TERESITA CRUZ SISON, after trial upon the aforementioned facts,4 disposing
married to Antonio J.M. Sison (12/100) x x x" thusly:

Sometime in 1992, LUPSICON was dissolved and WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:
the condominium unit was partitioned by the
partners but the same was still registered in common (a) The 24/100 pro-indiviso share in the
under CCT No. 21716. The parties stipulated that condominium unit located at the SIXTH
the interest of ATTY. LUNA over the condominium FLOOR of the KALAW LEDESMA
unit would be 25/100 share. ATTY. LUNA thereafter CONDOMINIUM PROJECT covered by
established and headed another law firm with Atty. Condominium Certificate of Title No. 21761
Renato G. Dela Cruzand used a portion of the office consisting of FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN
condominium unit as their office. The said law firm (517/100) SQUARE METERS is adjudged to
lasted until the death of ATTY. JUAN on July 12, have been acquired by Juan Lucas Luna
1997. through his sole industry;

After the death of ATTY. JUAN, his share in the (b) Plaintiff has no right as owner or under
condominium unit including the lawbooks, office any other concept over the condominium
furniture and equipment found therein were taken unit, hence the entry in Condominium
over by Gregorio Z. Luna, ATTY. LUNAs son of the Certificate of Title No. 21761 of the Registry
first marriage. Gregorio Z. Luna thenleased out the of Deeds of Makati with respect to the civil
25/100 portion of the condominium unit belonging to status of Juan Luces Luna should be
his father to Atty. Renato G. De la Cruz who changed from "JUAN LUCES LUNA married
established his own law firm named Renato G. De la to Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN LUCES LUNA
Cruz & Associates. married to Eugenia Zaballero Luna";

The 25/100 pro-indiviso share of ATTY. Luna in the (c) Plaintiff is declared to be the owner of the
condominium unit as well as the law books, office books Corpus Juris, Fletcher on Corporation,
furniture and equipment became the subject of the American Jurisprudence and Federal
complaint filed by SOLEDAD against the heirs of Supreme Court Reports found in the
ATTY. JUAN with the RTC of Makati City, Branch condominium unit and defendants are
138, on September 10, 1999, docketed as Civil Case ordered to deliver them to the plaintiff as
No. 99-1644. The complaint alleged that the subject soon as appropriate arrangements have
properties were acquired during the existence of the been madefor transport and storage.
marriage between ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD
through their joint efforts that since they had no No pronouncement as to costs.
children, SOLEDAD became co-owner of the said
properties upon the death of ATTY. LUNA to the SO ORDERED.5
extent of pro-indiviso share consisting of her
share in the said properties plus her share in the
Decision of the CA
net estate of ATTY. LUNA which was bequeathed to
her in the latters last will and testament; and thatthe
heirs of ATTY. LUNA through Gregorio Z. Luna Both parties appealed to the CA.6
excluded SOLEDAD from her share in the subject
properties. The complaint prayed that SOLEDAD be On her part, the petitioner assigned the following
declared the owner of the portion of the subject errors to the RTC, namely:
properties;that the same be partitioned; that an
accounting of the rentals on the condominium unit I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING
pertaining to the share of SOLEDAD be conducted; THAT THE CONDOMINIUM UNIT WAS
that a receiver be appointed to preserve ad
ACQUIRED THRU THE SOLE INDUSTRY INTERVENTION FOR FAILURE OF
OF ATTY. JUAN LUCES LUNA; INTERVENOR-APPELLANT TO PAY
FILING FEE.7
II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING
THAT PLAINTIFFAPPELLANT DID NOT In contrast, the respondents attributedthe following
CONTRIBUTE MONEY FOR THE errors to the trial court, to wit:
ACQUISITION OF THE CONDOMINIUM
UNIT; I. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN
HOLDING THAT CERTAIN FOREIGN LAW
III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING BOOKS IN THE LAW OFFICE OF ATTY.
CREDENCE TO PORTIONS OF THE LUNA WERE BOUGHT WITH THE USE OF
TESTIMONY OF GREGORIO LUNA, WHO PLAINTIFFS MONEY;
HAS NO ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE
ACQUISITION OF THE UNIT, BUT II. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN
IGNORED OTHER PORTIONS OF HIS HOLDING THAT PLAINTIFF PROVED BY
TESTIMONY FAVORABLE TO THE PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE (HER
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT; CLAIM OVER) THE SPECIFIED FOREIGN
LAW BOOKS FOUND IN ATTY. LUNAS
IV. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT LAW OFFICE; and
GIVING SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FACT
THAT THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP III. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT
BETWEEN LUNA AND INTERVENOR- HOLDING THAT, ASSUMING PLAINTIFF
APPELLANT WAS ALREADY DISSOLVED PAID FOR THE SAID FOREIGN LAW
AND LIQUIDATED PRIOR TO THE UNION BOOKS, THE RIGHT TO RECOVER THEM
OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND LUNA; HAD PRESCRIBED AND BARRED BY
LACHES AND ESTOPPEL.8
V. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING
UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO THE On November 11, 2005, the CA promulgated its
ABSENCE OF THE DISPOSITION OF THE assailed modified decision,9 holding and ruling:
CONDOMINIUM UNIT IN THE
HOLOGRAPHIC WILL OF THE PLAINTIFF- EUGENIA, the first wife, was the legitimate wife of
APPELLANT; ATTY. LUNA until the latters death on July 12, 1997.
The absolute divorce decree obtained by ATTY.
VI. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN LUNA inthe Dominican Republic did not terminate
GIVING UNDUE SIGNIFICANCE TO THE his prior marriage with EUGENIA because foreign
FACTTHAT THE NAME OF PLAINTIFF- divorce between Filipino citizens is not recognized in
APPELLANT DID NOT APPEAR IN THE our jurisdiction. x x x10
DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE EXECUTED
BY TANDANG SORA DEVELOPMENT xxxx
CORPORATION OVER THE
CONDOMINIUM UNIT; WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed
August 27, 2001 Decision of the RTC of MakatiCity,
VII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN Branch 138, is hereby MODIFIEDas follows:
RULING THAT NEITHER ARTICLE 148 OF
THE FAMILYCODE NOR ARTICLE 144 OF (a) The 25/100 pro-indiviso share in the
THE CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES condominium unit at the SIXTH FLOOR of
ARE APPLICABLE; the KALAW LEDESMA CONDOMINIUM
PROJECT covered by Condominium
VIII. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT Certificate of Title No. 21761 consisting of
RULING THAT THE CAUSE OF ACTION FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN (517/100)
OF THE INTERVENOR-APPELLANT HAS (sic) SQUARE METERS is hereby adjudged
BEEN BARRED BY PESCRIPTION AND to defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan
LACHES; and Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna
(first marriage), having been acquired from
IX. THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT the sole funds and sole industry of Juan
EXPUNGING/DISMISSING THE
Luces Luna while marriage of Juan Luces The decisive question to be resolved is who among
Luna and Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (first the contending parties should be entitled to the
marriage) was still subsisting and valid; 25/100 pro indivisoshare in the condominium unit;
and to the law books (i.e., Corpus Juris, Fletcher on
(b) Plaintiff-appellant Soledad Lavadia has Corporation, American Jurisprudence and Federal
no right as owner or under any other concept Supreme Court Reports).
over the condominium unit, hence the entry
in Condominium Certificate of Title No. The resolution of the decisive question requires the
21761 of the Registry of Deeds ofMakati with Court to ascertain the law that should determine,
respect to the civil status of Juan Luces Luna firstly, whether the divorce between Atty. Luna and
should be changed from "JUAN LUCES Eugenia Zaballero-Luna (Eugenia) had validly
LUNA married to Soledad L. Luna" to "JUAN dissolved the first marriage; and, secondly, whether
LUCES LUNA married to Eugenia Zaballero the second marriage entered into by the late Atty.
Luna"; Luna and the petitioner entitled the latter to any
rights in property. Ruling of the Court
(c) Defendants-appellants, the heirs of Juan
Luces Luna and Eugenia Zaballero- We affirm the modified decision of the CA.
Luna(first marriage) are hereby declared to
be the owner of the books Corpus Juris, 1. Atty. Lunas first marriage with Eugenia
Fletcher on Corporation, American subsisted up to the time of his death
Jurisprudence and Federal Supreme Court
Reports found in the condominium unit. The first marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia,
both Filipinos, was solemnized in the Philippines on
No pronouncement as to costs. September 10, 1947. The law in force at the time of
the solemnization was the Spanish Civil Code, which
SO ORDERED.11 adopted the nationality rule. The Civil
Codecontinued to follow the nationality rule, to the
On March 13, 2006,12 the CA denied the petitioners effect that Philippine laws relating to family rights
motion for reconsideration.13 and duties, or to the status, condition and legal
capacity of persons were binding upon citizens of the
Issues Philippines, although living abroad.15 Pursuant to the
nationality rule, Philippine laws governed thiscase
In this appeal, the petitioner avers in her petition for by virtue of bothAtty. Luna and Eugenio having
review on certiorarithat: remained Filipinos until the death of Atty. Luna on
July 12, 1997 terminated their marriage.
A. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in
ruling that the Agreement for Separation and From the time of the celebration ofthe first marriage
Property Settlement executed by Luna and on September 10, 1947 until the present, absolute
Respondent Eugenia was unenforceable; divorce between Filipino spouses has not been
hence, their conjugal partnership was not recognized in the Philippines. The non-recognition of
dissolved and liquidated; absolute divorce between Filipinos has remained
even under the Family Code,16 even if either or both
B. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in of the spouses are residing abroad.17 Indeed, the
not recognizing the Dominican Republic only two types of defective marital unions under our
courts approval of the Agreement; laws have beenthe void and the voidable marriages.
As such, the remedies against such defective
marriages have been limited to the declaration of
C. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in
nullity ofthe marriage and the annulment of the
ruling that Petitioner failed to adduce
marriage.
sufficient proof of actual contribution to the
acquisition of purchase of the
subjectcondominium unit; and It is true that on January 12, 1976, the Court of First
Instance (CFI) of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican
Republic issued the Divorce Decree dissolving the
D. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in
first marriage of Atty. Luna and
ruling that Petitioner was not entitled to the
Eugenia.18 Conformably with the nationality rule,
subject law books.14
however, the divorce, even if voluntarily obtained
abroad, did not dissolve the marriage between Atty. Article 142 of the Civil Codehas defined a conjugal
Luna and Eugenia, which subsisted up to the time of partnership of gains thusly:
his death on July 12, 1997. This finding conforms to
the Constitution, which characterizes marriage as an Article 142. By means of the conjugal partnership of
inviolable social institution,19 and regards it as a gains the husband and wife place in a common fund
special contract of permanent union between a man the fruits of their separate property and the income
and a woman for the establishment of a conjugal and from their work or industry, and divide equally, upon
family life.20 The non-recognition of absolute divorce the dissolution of the marriage or of the partnership,
in the Philippines is a manifestation of the respect for the net gains or benefits obtained indiscriminately by
the sanctity of the marital union especially among either spouse during the marriage.
Filipino citizens. It affirms that the extinguishment of
a valid marriage must be grounded only upon the The conjugal partnership of gains subsists until
death of either spouse, or upon a ground expressly terminated for any of various causes of termination
provided bylaw. For as long as this public policy on enumerated in Article 175 of the Civil Code, viz:
marriage between Filipinos exists, no divorce decree
dissolving the marriage between them can ever be Article 175. The conjugal partnership of gains
given legal or judicial recognition and enforcement in terminates:
this jurisdiction.
(1) Upon the death of either spouse;
2. The Agreement for Separation and Property
Settlement (2) When there is a decree of legal
was void for lack of court approval separation;
The petitioner insists that the Agreement for (3) When the marriage is annulled;
Separation and Property Settlement (Agreement)
that the late Atty. Luna and Eugenia had entered into
(4) In case of judicial separation of property
and executed in connection with the divorce
under Article 191.
proceedings before the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the
Dominican Republic to dissolve and liquidate their
conjugal partnership was enforceable against The mere execution of the Agreement by Atty. Luna
Eugenia. Hence, the CA committed reversible error and Eugenia did not per sedissolve and liquidate
in decreeing otherwise. their conjugal partnership of gains. The approval of
the Agreement by a competent court was still
required under Article 190 and Article 191 of the Civil
The insistence of the petitioner was unwarranted.
Code, as follows:
Considering that Atty. Luna and Eugenia had not
Article 190. In the absence of an express declaration
entered into any marriage settlement prior to their
in the marriage settlements, the separation of
marriage on September 10, 1947, the system of
property between spouses during the marriage shall
relative community or conjugal partnership of gains
not take place save in virtue of a judicial order.
governed their property relations. This is because
(1432a)
the Spanish Civil Code, the law then in force at the
time of their marriage, did not specify the property
regime of the spouses in the event that they had not Article 191. The husband or the wife may ask for the
entered into any marriage settlement before or at the separation of property, and it shall be decreed when
time of the marriage. Article 119 of the Civil the spouse of the petitioner has been sentenced to
Codeclearly so provides, to wit: a penalty which carries with it civil interdiction, or has
been declared absent, or when legal separation has
been granted.
Article 119. The future spouses may in the marriage
settlements agree upon absolute or relative
community of property, or upon complete separation xxxx
of property, or upon any other regime. In the
absence of marriage settlements, or when the same The husband and the wife may agree upon the
are void, the system of relative community or dissolution of the conjugal partnership during the
conjugal partnership of gains as established in this marriage, subject to judicial approval. All the
Code, shall govern the property relations between creditors of the husband and of the wife, as well as
husband and wife. of the conjugal partnership shall be notified of any
petition for judicialapproval or the voluntary Article 71. All marriages performed outside the
dissolution of the conjugal partnership, so that any Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in
such creditors may appear atthe hearing to the country where they were performed, and valid
safeguard his interests. Upon approval of the there as such, shall also be valid in this country,
petition for dissolution of the conjugal partnership, except bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous
the court shall take such measures as may protect marriages as determined by Philippine law.
the creditors and other third persons.
Bigamy is an illegal marriage committed by
After dissolution of the conjugal partnership, the contracting a second or subsequent marriage before
provisions of articles 214 and 215 shall apply. The the first marriage has been legally dissolved, or
provisions of this Code concerning the effect of before the absent spouse has been declared
partition stated in articles 498 to 501 shall be presumptively dead by means of a judgment
applicable. (1433a) rendered in the proper proceedings.23 A bigamous
marriage is considered void ab initio.24
But was not the approval of the Agreement by the
CFI of Sto. Domingo in the Dominican Republic Due to the second marriage between Atty. Luna and
sufficient in dissolving and liquidating the conjugal the petitioner being void ab initioby virtue of its being
partnership of gains between the late Atty. Luna and bigamous, the properties acquired during the
Eugenia? bigamous marriage were governed by the rules on
co-ownership, conformably with Article 144 of the
The query is answered in the negative. There is no Civil Code, viz:
question that the approval took place only as an
incident ofthe action for divorce instituted by Atty. Article 144. When a man and a woman live together
Luna and Eugenia, for, indeed, the justifications for as husband and wife, but they are not married,
their execution of the Agreement were identical to ortheir marriage is void from the beginning, the
the grounds raised in the action for divorce.21 With property acquired by eitheror both of them through
the divorce not being itself valid and enforceable their work or industry or their wages and salaries
under Philippine law for being contrary to Philippine shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership.(n)
public policy and public law, the approval of the
Agreement was not also legally valid and In such a situation, whoever alleges co-ownership
enforceable under Philippine law. Consequently, the carried the burden of proof to confirm such
conjugal partnership of gains of Atty. Luna and fact.1wphi1 To establish co-ownership, therefore, it
Eugenia subsisted in the lifetime of their marriage. became imperative for the petitioner to offer proof of
her actual contributions in the acquisition of
3. Atty. Lunas marriage with Soledad, being property. Her mere allegation of co-ownership,
bigamous, without sufficient and competent evidence, would
was void; properties acquired during their marriage warrant no relief in her favor. As the Court explained
were governed by the rules on co-ownership in Saguid v. Court of Appeals:25

What law governed the property relations of the In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v.
second marriage between Atty. Luna and Soledad? Fernandez, which involved the issue of co-
ownership ofproperties acquired by the parties to a
The CA expressly declared that Atty. Lunas bigamous marriage and an adulterous relationship,
subsequent marriage to Soledad on January 12, respectively, we ruled that proof of actual
1976 was void for being bigamous,22 on the ground contribution in the acquisition of the property is
that the marriage between Atty. Luna and Eugenia essential. The claim of co-ownership of the
had not been dissolved by the Divorce Decree petitioners therein who were parties to the bigamous
rendered by the CFI of Sto. Domingo in the and adulterousunion is without basis because they
Dominican Republic but had subsisted until the failed to substantiate their allegation that they
death of Atty. Luna on July 12, 1997. contributed money in the purchase of the disputed
properties. Also in Adriano v. Court of Appeals, we
The Court concurs with the CA. ruled that the fact that the controverted property was
titled in the name of the parties to an adulterous
In the Philippines, marriages that are bigamous, relationship is not sufficient proof of coownership
polygamous, or incestuous are void. Article 71 of the absent evidence of actual contribution in the
Civil Codeclearly states: acquisition of the property.
As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon Code, the rules on co-ownership would govern. But
the party who, as determined by the pleadings or the this was not readily applicable to many situations
nature of the case, asserts an affirmative issue. and thus it created a void at first because it applied
Contentions must be proved by competent evidence only if the parties were not in any way incapacitated
and reliance must be had on the strength of the or were without impediment to marry each other (for
partys own evidence and not upon the weakness of it would be absurd to create a co-ownership where
the opponents defense. This applies with more vigor there still exists a prior conjugal partnership or
where, as in the instant case, the plaintiff was absolute community between the man and his lawful
allowed to present evidence ex parte.1wphi1 The wife). This void was filled upon adoption of the
plaintiff is not automatically entitled to the relief Family Code. Article 148 provided that: only the
prayed for. The law gives the defendantsome property acquired by both of the parties through their
measure of protection as the plaintiff must still prove actual joint contribution of money, property or
the allegations in the complaint. Favorable relief can industry shall be owned in common and in proportion
be granted only after the court isconvinced that the to their respective contributions. Such contributions
facts proven by the plaintiff warrant such relief. and corresponding shares were prima
Indeed, the party alleging a fact has the burden of faciepresumed to be equal. However, for this
proving it and a mereallegation is not evidence.26 presumption to arise, proof of actual contribution
was required. The same rule and presumption was
The petitioner asserts herein that she sufficiently to apply to joint deposits of money and evidence of
proved her actual contributions in the purchase of credit. If one of the parties was validly married to
the condominium unit in the aggregate amount of at another, his or her share in the co-ownership
least P306,572.00, consisting in direct contributions accrued to the absolute community or conjugal
of P159,072.00, and in repaying the loans Atty. Luna partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the
had obtained from Premex Financing and Banco party who acted in bad faith was not validly married
Filipino totaling P146,825.30;27 and that such to another, his or her share shall be forfeited in the
aggregate contributions of P306,572.00 manner provided in the last paragraph of the Article
corresponded to almost the entire share of Atty. 147. The rules on forfeiture applied even if both
Luna in the purchase of the condominium unit parties were in bad faith. Co-ownership was the
amounting to P362,264.00 of the units purchase exception while conjugal partnership of gains was
price of P1,449,056.00.28 The petitioner further the strict rule whereby marriage was an inviolable
asserts that the lawbooks were paid for solely out of social institution and divorce decrees are not
her personal funds, proof of which Atty. Luna had recognized in the Philippines, as was held by the
even sent her a "thank you" note;29 that she had the Supreme Court in the case of Tenchavez vs.
financial capacity to make the contributions and Escao, G.R. No. L-19671, November 29, 1965, 15
purchases; and that Atty. Luna could not acquire the SCRA 355, thus:
properties on his own due to the meagerness of the
income derived from his law practice. xxxx

Did the petitioner discharge her burden of proof on As to the 25/100pro-indivisoshare of ATTY. LUNA in
the co-ownership? the condominium unit, SOLEDAD failed to prove that
she made an actual contribution to purchase the said
In resolving the question, the CA entirely debunked property. She failed to establish that the four (4)
the petitioners assertions on her actual checks that she presented were indeed used for the
contributions through the following findings and acquisition of the share of ATTY. LUNA in the
conclusions, namely: condominium unit. This was aptly explained in the
Decision of the trial court, viz.:
SOLEDAD was not able to prove by preponderance
of evidence that her own independent funds were "x x x The first check, Exhibit "M" for P55,000.00
used to buy the law office condominium and the law payable to Atty. Teresita Cruz Sison was issued on
books subject matter in contentionin this case January 27, 1977, which was thirteen (13) months
proof that was required for Article 144 of the New before the Memorandum of Agreement, Exhibit "7"
Civil Code and Article 148 of the Family Code to was signed. Another check issued on April 29, 1978
apply as to cases where properties were acquired in the amount of P97,588.89, Exhibit "P" was
by a man and a woman living together as husband payable to Banco Filipino. According to the plaintiff,
and wife but not married, or under a marriage which thiswas in payment of the loan of Atty. Luna. The
was void ab initio. Under Article 144 of the New Civil third check which was for P49,236.00 payable to
PREMEX was dated May 19, 1979, also for payment ownership, did not discharge her burden of proof.
of the loan of Atty. Luna. The fourth check, Exhibit Her mere allegations on her contributions, not being
"M", for P4,072.00 was dated December 17, 1980. evidence,31 did not serve the purpose. In contrast,
None of the foregoing prove that the amounts given the subsistence of the first marriage between
delivered by plaintiff to the payees were for the Atty. Luna and Eugenia, the presumption that Atty.
acquisition of the subject condominium unit. The Luna acquired the properties out of his own personal
connection was simply not established. x x x" funds and effort remained. It should then be justly
concluded that the properties in litislegally pertained
SOLEDADs claim that she made a cash to their conjugal partnership of gains as of the time
contribution of P100,000.00 is unsubstantiated. of his death. Consequently, the sole ownership of
Clearly, there is no basis for SOLEDADs claim of the 25/100 pro indivisoshare of Atty. Luna in the
co-ownership over the 25/100 portion of the condominium unit, and of the lawbooks pertained to
condominium unit and the trial court correctly found the respondents as the lawful heirs of Atty. Luna.
that the same was acquired through the sole industry
of ATTY. LUNA, thus: WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision
promulgated on November 11, 2005; and ORDERS
"The Deed of Absolute Sale, Exhibit "9", covering the the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.
condominium unit was in the name of Atty. Luna,
together with his partners in the law firm. The name SO ORDERED.
of the plaintiff does not appear as vendee or as the
spouse of Atty. Luna. The same was acquired for the LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
use of the Law firm of Atty. Luna. The loans from Associate Justice
Allied Banking Corporation and Far East Bank and
Trust Company were loans of Atty. Luna and his WE CONCUR:
partners and plaintiff does not have evidence to
show that she paid for them fully or partially. x x x"

The fact that CCT No. 4779 and subsequently, CCT


No. 21761 were in the name of "JUAN LUCES
LUNA, married to Soledad L. Luna" was no proof
that SOLEDAD was a co-owner of the condominium
unit. Acquisition of title and registration thereof are
two different acts. It is well settled that registration
does not confer title but merely confirms one already
existing. The phrase "married to" preceding
"Soledad L. Luna" is merely descriptive of the civil
status of ATTY. LUNA.

SOLEDAD, the second wife, was not even a lawyer.


So it is but logical that SOLEDAD had no
participation in the law firm or in the purchase of
books for the law firm. SOLEDAD failed to prove that
she had anything to contribute and that she actually
purchased or paid for the law office amortization and
for the law books. It is more logical to presume that
it was ATTY. LUNA who bought the law office space
and the law books from his earnings from his
practice of law rather than embarrassingly beg or Republic of the Philippines
ask from SOLEDAD money for use of the law firm SUPREME COURT
that he headed.30 Manila

The Court upholds the foregoing findings and SECOND DIVISION


conclusions by the CA both because they were
substantiated by the records and because we have G.R. No. 188289 August 20, 2014
not been shown any reason to revisit and undo them.
Indeed, the petitioner, as the party claiming the co-
DAVID A. NOVERAS, Petitioner, $550,000.00
vs. (unpaid debt
LETICIA T. NOVERAS, Respondent. $285,000.00)

DECISION Furniture and furnishings $3,000


Jewelries (ring and watch) $9,000
PEREZ, J.:
2000 Nissan Frontier 4x4 pickup truck $13,770.00
Before the Court is a petition for review assailingBank
the of America Checking Account $8,000
1
9 May 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R .. CV No. 88686, which affirmed in part the Bank8 of America Cash Deposit
December 2006 Decision2 of the Regional Trial
Life Insurance (Cash Value) $100,000.00
Court (RTC) of Baler, Aurora, Branch 96.
Retirement, pension, profit-sharing, $56,228.00
The factual antecedents are as follow: annuities

David A. Noveras (David) and Leticia T. Noveras The Sampaloc property used to beowned by Davids
(Leticia) were married on 3 December 1988 in parents. The parties herein secured a loan from a
Quezon City, Philippines. They resided in California, bank and mortgaged the property. When said
United States of America (USA) where they property was about to be foreclosed, the couple paid
eventually acquired American citizenship. They then a total of P1.5 Million for the redemption of the same.
begot two children, namely: Jerome T.
Due to business reverses, David left the USA and
Noveras, who was born on 4 November 1990 and returned to the Philippines in 2001. In December
JenaT. Noveras, born on 2 May 1993. David was 2002,Leticia executed a Special Power of Attorney
engaged in courier service business while Leticia (SPA) authorizing David to sell the Sampaloc
worked as a nurse in San Francisco, California. property for P2.2 Million. According to Leticia,
sometime in September 2003, David abandoned his
During the marriage, they acquired the following family and lived with Estrellita Martinez in Aurora
properties in the Philippines and in the USA: province. Leticia claimed that David agreed toand
executed a Joint Affidavit with Leticia in the presence
LIPPINES of Davids father, Atty. Isaias Noveras, on 3
December 2003 stating that: 1) the P1.1Million
OPERTY FAIR MARKET VALUE proceeds from the sale of the Sampaloc property
se and Lot with an area of 150 sq. m. P1,693,125.00 shall be paid to and collected by Leticia; 2) that
ted at 1085 Norma Street, Sampaloc, David shall return and pay to Leticia P750,000.00,
ila (Sampaloc property) which is equivalent to half of the amount of the
redemption price of the Sampaloc property; and 3)
cultural land with an area of 20,742 sq. P400,000.00 that David shall renounce and forfeit all his rights and
ocated at Laboy, Dipaculao, Aurora interest in the conjugal and real properties situated
in the Philippines.5 David was able to
arcel of land with an area of 2.5 hectares P490,000.00 collect P1,790,000.00 from the sale of the Sampaloc
ted at Maria Aurora, Aurora property, leaving an unpaid balance of P410,000.00.
3
arcel of land with an area of 175 sq.m. P175,000.00
ted at Sabang Baler, Aurora Upon learning that David had an extra-marital affair,
Leticia filed a petition for divorce with the Superior
as. coconut plantation in San Joaquin P750,000.00 Court of California, County of San Mateo, USA. The
a Aurora, Aurora California court granted the divorce on 24 June 2005
A and judgment was duly entered on 29 June
2005.6 The California court granted to Leticia the
OPERTY FAIR MARKET VALUE custody of her two children, as well as all the
se and Lot at 1155 Hanover Street, couples properties in the USA.7
y City, California
On 8 August 2005, Leticia filed a petition for Judicial
Separation of Conjugal Property before the RTC of
Baler, Aurora. She relied on the 3 December 2003 Corollary to the aboveis the issue of:
Joint Affidavit and Davids failure to comply with his
obligation under the same. She prayed for: 1) the Whether or not the two common children of the
power to administer all conjugal properties in the parties are entitled to support and presumptive
Philippines; 2) David and his partner to cease and legitimes.10
desist from selling the subject conjugal properties; 3)
the declaration that all conjugal properties be On 8 December 2006, the RTC rendered judgment
forfeited in favor of her children; 4) David to remit half as follows:
of the purchase price as share of Leticia from the
sale of the Sampaloc property; and 5) the payment 1. The absolute community of property of the
ofP50,000.00 and P100,000.00 litigation expenses.8 parties is hereby declared DISSOLVED;

In his Answer, David stated that a judgment for the 2. The net assets of the absolute community
dissolution of their marriage was entered on 29 June of property ofthe parties in the Philippines
2005 by the Superior Court of California, County of are hereby ordered to be awarded to
San Mateo. He demanded that the conjugal respondent David A. Noveras only, with the
partnership properties, which also include the USA properties in the United States of America
properties, be liquidated and that all expenses of remaining in the sole ownership of petitioner
liquidation, including attorneys fees of both parties Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana
be charged against the conjugal partnership.9 pursuant to the divorce decree issuedby the
Superior Court of California, County of San
The RTC of Baler, Aurora simplified the issues as Mateo, United States of America, dissolving
follow: the marriage of the parties as of June 24,
2005. The titles presently covering said
1. Whether or not respondent David A. properties shall be cancelled and new titles
Noveras committed acts of abandonment be issued in the name of the party to whom
and marital infidelity which can result intothe said properties are awarded;
forfeiture of the parties properties in favor of
the petitioner and their two (2) children. 3. One-half of the properties awarded to
respondent David A. Noveras in the
2. Whether or not the Court has jurisdiction preceding paragraph are hereby given to
over the properties in California, U.S.A. and Jerome and Jena, his two minor children with
the same can be included in the judicial petitioner LeticiaNoveras a.k.a. Leticia
separation prayed for. Tacbiana as their presumptive legitimes and
said legitimes must be annotated on the titles
3. Whether or not the "Joint Affidavit" x x x covering the said properties.Their share in
executed by petitioner Leticia T. Noveras the income from these properties shall be
and respondent David A. Noveras will remitted to them annually by the respondent
amount to a waiver or forfeiture of the latters within the first half of January of each year,
property rights over their conjugal properties. starting January 2008;

4. Whether or not Leticia T. Noveras 4. One-half of the properties in the United


isentitled to reimbursement of onehalf of States of America awarded to petitioner
the P2.2 [M]illion sales proceeds of their Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia Tacbiana in
property in Sampaloc, Manila and one-half of paragraph 2 are hereby given to Jerome and
the P1.5 [M]illion used to redeem the Jena, her two minor children with respondent
property of Atty. Isaias Noveras, including David A. Noveras as their presumptive
interests and charges. legitimes and said legitimes must be
annotated on the titles/documents covering
5. How the absolute community properties the said properties. Their share in the income
should be distributed. from these properties, if any, shall be
remitted to them annually by the petitioner
6. Whether or not the attorneys feesand within the first half of January of each year,
litigation expenses of the parties were starting January 2008;
chargeable against their conjugal properties.
5. For the support of their two (2) minor any marriage settlement before the solemnization of
children, Jerome and Jena, respondent their marriage pursuant to Article 75 of the Family
David A. Noveras shall give them US$100.00 Code. Then, the trial court ruled that in accordance
as monthly allowance in addition to their with the doctrine of processual presumption,
income from their presumptive legitimes, Philippine law should apply because the court
while petitioner Leticia Tacbiana shall take cannot take judicial notice of the US law since the
care of their food, clothing, education and parties did not submit any proof of their national law.
other needs while they are in her custody in The trial court held that as the instant petition does
the USA. The monthly allowance due from not fall under the provisions of the law for the grant
the respondent shall be increased in the of judicial separation of properties, the absolute
future as the needs of the children require community properties cannot beforfeited in favor of
and his financial capacity can afford; Leticia and her children. Moreover, the trial court
observed that Leticia failed to prove abandonment
6. Of the unpaid amount of P410,000.00 on and infidelity with preponderant evidence.
the purchase price of the Sampaloc property,
the Paringit Spouses are hereby ordered to The trial court however ruled that Leticia is not
pay P5,000.00 to respondent David A. entitled to the reimbursements she is praying for
Noveras and P405,000.00 to the two considering that she already acquired all of the
children. The share of the respondent may properties in the USA. Relying still on the principle of
be paid to him directly but the share of the equity, the Court also adjudicated the Philippine
two children shall be deposited with a local properties to David, subject to the payment of the
bank in Baler, Aurora, in a joint account tobe childrens presumptive legitimes. The trial court held
taken out in their names, withdrawal from that under Article 89 of the Family Code, the waiver
which shall only be made by them or by their or renunciation made by David of his property rights
representative duly authorized with a Special in the Joint Affidavit is void.
Power of Attorney. Such payment/deposit
shall be made withinthe period of thirty (30) On appeal, the Court of Appeals modified the trial
days after receipt of a copy of this Decision, courts Decision by directing the equal division of the
with the passbook of the joint account to be Philippine properties between the spouses.
submitted to the custody of the Clerk of Court Moreover with respect to the common childrens
of this Court within the same period. Said presumptive legitime, the appellate court ordered
passbook can be withdrawn from the Clerk of both spouses to each pay their children the amount
Court only by the children or their attorney- of P520,000.00, thus:
in-fact; and
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is PARTLY
7. The litigation expenses and attorneys GRANTED. Numbers 2, 4 and 6 of the
fees incurred by the parties shall be assailedDecision dated December 8, 2006 of
shouldered by them individually.11 Branch 96, RTC of Baler, Aurora Province, in Civil
Case No. 828 are hereby MODIFIED to read as
The trial court recognized that since the parties are follows:
US citizens, the laws that cover their legal and
personalstatus are those of the USA. With respect to 2. The net assets of the absolute community
their marriage, the parties are divorced by virtue of of property of the parties in the Philippines
the decree of dissolution of their marriage issued by are hereby divided equally between
the Superior Court of California, County of San petitioner Leticia Noveras a.k.a. Leticia
Mateo on 24June 2005. Under their law, the parties Tacbiana (sic) and respondent David A.
marriage had already been dissolved. Thus, the trial Noveras;
court considered the petition filed by Leticia as one
for liquidation of the absolute community of property xxx
regime with the determination of the legitimes,
support and custody of the children, instead of an 4. One-half of the properties awarded to
action for judicial separation of conjugal property. petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) in paragraph
2 shall pertain to her minor children, Jerome
With respect to their property relations, the trial court and Jena, as their presumptive legitimes
first classified their property regime as absolute which shall be annotated on the
community of property because they did not execute titles/documents covering the said
properties. Their share in the income In summary and review, the basic facts are: David
therefrom, if any, shall be remitted to them by and Leticia are US citizens who own properties in
petitioner annually within the first half of the USA and in the Philippines. Leticia obtained a
January, starting 2008; decree of divorce from the Superior Court of
California in June 2005 wherein the court awarded
xxx all the properties in the USA to Leticia. With respect
to their properties in the Philippines, Leticiafiled a
6. Respondent David A. Noveras and petition for judicial separation ofconjugal properties.
petitioner Leticia Tacbiana (sic) are each
ordered to pay the amount ofP520,000.00 to At the outset, the trial court erred in recognizing the
their two children, Jerome and Jena, as their divorce decree which severed the bond of marriage
presumptive legitimes from the sale of the between the parties. In Corpuz v. Sto. Tomas,13 we
Sampaloc property inclusive of the stated that:
receivables therefrom, which shall be
deposited to a local bank of Baler, Aurora, The starting point in any recognition of a foreign
under a joint account in the latters names. divorce judgment is the acknowledgment that our
The payment/deposit shall be made within a courts do not take judicial notice of foreign
period of thirty (30) days from receipt ofa judgments and laws. Justice Herrera explained that,
copy of this Decision and the corresponding as a rule, "no sovereign is bound to give effect within
passbook entrusted to the custody ofthe its dominion to a judgment rendered by a tribunal of
Clerk of Court a quowithin the same period, another country." This means that the foreign
withdrawable only by the children or their judgment and its authenticity must beproven as facts
attorney-in-fact. under our rules on evidence, together with the aliens
applicable national law to show the effect of the
A number 8 is hereby added, which shall judgment on the alien himself or herself. The
read as follows: recognition may be made in an action instituted
specifically for the purpose or in another action
8. Respondent David A. Noveras is hereby where a party invokes the foreign decree as an
ordered to pay petitioner Leticia Tacbiana integral aspect of his claim or defense.14
(sic) the amount of P1,040,000.00
representing her share in the proceeds from The requirements of presenting the foreign divorce
the sale of the Sampaloc property. decree and the national law of the foreigner must
comply with our Rules of Evidence. Specifically, for
The last paragraph shall read as follows: Philippine courts to recognize a foreign judgment
relating to the status of a marriage, a copy of the
Send a copy of this Decision to the local civil registry foreign judgment may be admitted in evidence and
of Baler, Aurora; the local civil registry of Quezon proven as a fact under Rule 132, Sections 24 and
City; the Civil RegistrarGeneral, National Statistics 25, in relation to Rule 39, Section 48(b) of the Rules
Office, Vibal Building, Times Street corner EDSA, of Court.15
Quezon City; the Office of the Registry of Deeds for
the Province of Aurora; and to the children, Jerome Under Section 24 of Rule 132, the record of public
Noveras and Jena Noveras. documents of a sovereign authority or tribunal may
be proved by: (1) an official publication thereof or (2)
The rest of the Decision is AFFIRMED.12 a copy attested by the officer having the legal
custody thereof. Such official publication or copy
In the present petition, David insists that the Court of must beaccompanied, if the record is not kept in the
Appeals should have recognized the California Philippines, with a certificate that the attesting officer
Judgment which awarded the Philippine properties has the legal custody thereof. The certificate may be
to him because said judgment was part of the issued by any of the authorized Philippine embassy
pleading presented and offered in evidence before or consular officials stationed in the foreign country
the trial court. David argues that allowing Leticia to in which the record is kept, and authenticated by the
share in the Philippine properties is tantamount to seal of his office. The attestation must state, in
unjust enrichment in favor of Leticia considering that substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the
the latter was already granted all US properties by original, or a specific part thereof, asthe case may
the California court. be, and must be under the official seal of the
attesting officer.
Section 25 of the same Rule states that whenever a (2) That the spouse of the petitioner has
copy of a document or record is attested for the been judicially declared an absentee;
purpose of evidence, the attestation must state, in
substance, that the copy is a correct copy of the (3) That loss of parental authority ofthe
original, or a specific part thereof, as the case may spouse of petitioner has been decreed by the
be. The attestation must be under the official seal of court;
the attesting officer, if there be any, or if hebe the
clerk of a court having a seal, under the seal of such (4) That the spouse of the petitioner has
court. abandoned the latter or failed to comply with
his or her obligations to the family as
Based on the records, only the divorce decree was provided for in Article 101;
presented in evidence. The required certificates to
prove its authenticity, as well as the pertinent (5) That the spouse granted the power of
California law on divorce were not presented. administration in the marriage settlements
has abused that power; and
It may be noted that in Bayot v. Court of
Appeals,16 we relaxed the requirement on (6) That at the time of the petition, the
certification where we held that "[petitioner therein] spouses have been separated in fact for at
was clearly an American citizenwhen she secured least one year and reconciliation is highly
the divorce and that divorce is recognized and improbable.
allowed in any of the States of the Union, the
presentation of a copy of foreign divorce decree duly In the cases provided for in Numbers (1), (2), and
authenticatedby the foreign court issuing said (3), the presentation of the final judgment against the
decree is, as here, sufficient." In this case however, guiltyor absent spouse shall be enough basis for the
it appears that there is no seal from the office where grant of the decree ofjudicial separation of property.
the divorce decree was obtained. (Emphasis supplied).

Even if we apply the doctrine of processual The trial court had categorically ruled that there was
presumption17 as the lower courts did with respect to no abandonment in this case to necessitate judicial
the property regime of the parties, the recognition of separation of properties under paragraph 4 of Article
divorce is entirely a different matter because, to 135 of the Family Code. The trial court ratiocinated:
begin with, divorce is not recognized between
Filipino citizens in the Philippines. Absent a valid Moreover, abandonment, under Article 101 of the
recognition of the divorce decree, it follows that the Family Code quoted above, must be for a valid
parties are still legally married in the Philippines. The cause and the spouse is deemed to have
trial court thus erred in proceeding directly to abandoned the other when he/she has left the
liquidation. conjugal dwelling without intention of returning. The
intention of not returning is prima facie presumed if
As a general rule, any modification in the marriage the allegedly [sic] abandoning spouse failed to give
settlements must be made before the celebration of any information as to his or her whereabouts within
marriage. An exception to this rule is allowed the period of three months from such abandonment.
provided that the modification isjudicially approved
and refers only to the instances provided in Articles In the instant case, the petitioner knows that the
66,67, 128, 135 and 136 of the Family Code.18 respondent has returned to and stayed at his
hometown in Maria Aurora, Philippines, as she even
Leticia anchored the filing of the instant petition for went several times to visit him there after the alleged
judicial separation of property on paragraphs 4 and abandonment. Also, the respondent has been going
6 of Article 135 of the Family Code, to wit: back to the USA to visit her and their children until
the relations between them worsened. The last visit
Art. 135. Any of the following shall be considered of said respondent was in October 2004 when he
sufficient cause for judicial separation of property: and the petitioner discussed the filing by the latter of
a petition for dissolution of marriage with the
(1) That the spouse of the petitioner has California court. Such turn for the worse of their
been sentenced to a penalty which carries relationship and the filing of the saidpetition can also
with it civil interdiction; be considered as valid causes for the respondent to
stay in the Philippines.19
Separation in fact for one year as a ground to grant (1) An inventory shall be prepared, listing
a judicial separation of property was not tackled in separately all the properties of the absolute
the trial courts decision because, the trial court community and the exclusive properties of
erroneously treated the petition as liquidation of the each spouse.
absolute community of properties.
(2) The debts and obligations of the absolute
The records of this case are replete with evidence community shall be paid out of its assets. In
that Leticia and David had indeed separated for case of insufficiency of said assets, the
more than a year and that reconciliation is highly spouses shall be solidarily liable for the
improbable. First, while actual abandonment had not unpaid balance with their separate properties
been proven, it is undisputed that the spouses had in accordance with the provisions of the
been living separately since 2003 when David second paragraph of Article 94.
decided to go back to the Philippines to set up his
own business. Second, Leticia heard from her (3) Whatever remains of the exclusive
friends that David has been cohabiting with Estrellita properties of the spouses shall thereafter be
Martinez, who represented herself as Estrellita delivered to each of them.
Noveras. Editha Apolonio, who worked in the
hospital where David was once confined, testified (4) The net remainder of the properties of the
that she saw the name of Estrellita listed as the wife absolute community shall constitute its net
of David in the Consent for Operation form.20 Third assets, which shall be divided equally
and more significantly, they had filed for divorce and between husband and wife, unless a
it was granted by the California court in June 2005. different proportion or division was agreed
upon in the marriage settlements, or unless
Having established that Leticia and David had there has been a voluntary waiver of such
actually separated for at least one year, the petition share provided in this Code. For purposes of
for judicial separation of absolute community of computing the net profits subject to forfeiture
property should be granted. in accordance with Articles 43, No. (2) and
63, No. (2),the said profits shall be the
The grant of the judicial separation of the absolute increase in value between the market value
community property automatically dissolves the of the community property at the time of the
absolute community regime, as stated in the 4th celebration of the marriage and the market
paragraph of Article 99 ofthe Family Code, thus: value at the time of its dissolution.

Art. 99. The absolute community terminates: (5) The presumptive legitimes of the
common children shall be delivered upon
(1) Upon the death of either spouse; partition, in accordance with Article 51.

(2) When there is a decree of legal (6) Unless otherwise agreed upon by the
separation; parties, in the partition of the properties, the
conjugal dwelling and the lot on which it is
(3) When the marriage is annulled or situated shall be adjudicated tothe spouse
declared void; or with whom the majority of the common
children choose to remain. Children below
(4) In case of judicial separation of property the age of seven years are deemed to have
during the marriage under Articles 134 to chosen the mother, unless the court has
138. (Emphasis supplied). decided otherwise. In case there is no such
majority, the court shall decide, taking into
Under Article 102 of the same Code, liquidation consideration the best interests of said
follows the dissolution of the absolute community children. At the risk of being repetitious, we
regime and the following procedure should apply: will not remand the case to the trial court.
Instead, we shall adopt the modifications
made by the Court of Appeals on the trial
Art. 102. Upon dissolution of the absolute
courts Decision with respect to liquidation.
community regime, the following procedure shall
apply:
We agree with the appellate court that the Philippine
courts did not acquire jurisdiction over the California
properties of David and Leticia. Indeed, Article 16 of them the amount of P520,000.00 as their
the Civil Code clearly states that real property as well presumptive legitimes therefrom.21
as personal property is subject to the law of the
country where it is situated. Thus, liquidation shall WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed
only be limited to the Philippine properties. Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No.
88686 is AFFIRMED.
We affirm the modification madeby the Court of
Appeals with respect to the share of the spouses in SO ORDERED.
the absolutecommunity properties in the Philippines,
as well as the payment of their childrens JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
presumptive legitimes, which the appellate court Associate Justice
explained in this wise:

Leticia and David shall likewise have an equal share


in the proceeds of the Sampaloc
property.1wphi1 While both claimed to have
contributed to the redemption of the Noveras
property, absent a clear showing where their
contributions came from, the same is presumed to
have come from the community property. Thus,
Leticia is not entitled to reimbursement of half of the
redemption money.

David's allegation that he used part of the proceeds


from the sale of the Sampaloc property for the
benefit of the absolute community cannot be given
full credence. Only the amount of P120,000.00
incurred in going to and from the U.S.A. may be
charged thereto. Election expenses in the amount
of P300,000.00 when he ran as municipal councilor Republic of the Philippines
cannot be allowed in the absence of receipts or at SUPREME COURT
least the Statement of Contributions and Manila
Expenditures required under Section 14 of Republic
Act No. 7166 duly received by the Commission on SECOND DIVISION
Elections. Likewise, expenses incurred to settle the
criminal case of his personal driver is not deductible G.R. No. 205487 November 12, 2014
as the same had not benefited the family. In sum,
Leticia and David shall share equally in the proceeds ORION SAVINGS BANK, Petitioner,
of the sale net of the amount of P120,000.00 or in vs.
the respective amounts of P1,040,000.00. SHIGEKANE SUZUKI, Respondent.
xxxx DECISION
Under the first paragraph of Article 888 of the Civil BRION, J.:
Code, "(t)he legitime of legitimate children and
descendants consists of one-half or the hereditary
estate of the father and of the mother." The children
Before us is the Petition for Review on
arc therefore entitled to half of the share of each Certiorari1 filed by petitioner Orion Savings Bank
spouse in the net assets of the absolute community, (Orion) under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
which shall be annotated on the titles/documents assailing the decision2 dated August 23, 2012 and
covering the same, as well as to their respective the resolution3 dated January 25, 2013 of the
shares in the net proceeds from the sale of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 94104.
Sampaloc property including the receivables from
Sps. Paringit in the amount of P410,000.00. The Factual Antecedents
Consequently, David and Leticia should each pay
In the first week of August 2003, respondent 10186 which provided that any conveyance or
Shigekane Suzuki (Suzuki), a Japanese national, encumbrance of CCT No. 18186 shall be subject
met with Ms. Helen Soneja (Soneja) to inquire to approval by the Philippine Retirement Authority
about a condominium unit and a parking slot at (PRA). Although CCT No. 18186 contained Entry
Cityland Pioneer, Mandaluyong City, allegedly No. 66432/C-10186 dated February 2, 1999
owned by Yung Sam Kang (Kang), a Korean representing a mortgage in favor of Orion for
national and a Special Resident Retiree's Visa a P1,000,000.00 loan, that annotation was
(SRRV) holder. subsequently cancelled on June 16, 2000 by Entry
No. 73232/T. No. 10186. Despite the cancellation
At the meeting, Soneja informed Suzuki that Unit of the mortgage to Orion, the titles to the
No. 536 [covered by Condominium Certificate of properties remained in possession of Perez.
Title (CCT) No. 18186]4 and Parking Slot No. 42
[covered by CCT No. 9118]5 were for sale To protect his interests, Suzuki thenexecuted an
for P3,000,000.00. Soneja likewise assured Affidavit of Adverse Claim 12 dated September 8,
Suzuki that the titles to the unit and the parking 2003, withthe Registry of Deeds of Mandaluyong
slot were clean. After a brief negotiation, the City, annotated as Entry No. 3292/C-No. 18186 in
parties agreed to reduce the price CCT No. 18186. Suzuki then demanded the
to P2,800,000.00. On August 5, 2003, Suzuki delivery of the titles.13 Orion, (through Perez),
issued Kang a Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI) however, refused to surrender the titles, and cited
Check No. 833496 for One Hundred Thousand the need to consult Orions legal counsel as its
Pesos (P100,000.00) as reservation fee.7 On reason.
August 21, 2003, Suzuki issued Kang another
check, BPI Check No. 83350,8 this time On October 14, 2003, Suzuki received a letter
for P2,700,000.00 representing the remaining from Orions counsel dated October 9, 2003,
balance of the purchase price. Suzuki and Kang stating that Kang obtained another loan in the
then executed a Deed of Absolute Sale dated amount of P1,800,000.00. When Kang failed to
August 26, 20039 covering Unit No. 536 and pay, he executed a Dacion en Pagodated
Parking Slot No. 42. Soon after, Suzuki took February 2, 2003, in favorof Orion covering Unit
possession of the condominium unit and parking No. 536. Orion, however, did not register the
lot, and commenced the renovation of the interior Dacion en Pago, until October 15, 2003.
of the condominium unit.
On October 28, 2003, Suzuki executed an
Kang thereafter made several representations Affidavit of Adverse Claim over Parking Slot No.
with Suzuki to deliver the titles to the properties, 42 (covered by CCT No. 9118) and this was
which were then allegedly in possession of annotated as Entry No. 4712/C-No. 9118 in the
Alexander Perez (Perez, Orions Loans Officer) parking lots title.
for safekeeping. Despite several verbal demands,
Kang failed to deliver the documents. Suzuki later On January 27, 2004, Suzuki filed a complaint for
on learned that Kang had left the country, specific performance and damages against Kang
prompting Suzuki to verify the status of the and Orion. At the pre-trial, the parties made the
properties with the Mandaluyong City Registry of following admissions and stipulations:
Deeds.
1. That as of August 26, 2003, Kang was
Before long, Suzuki learned that CCT No. 9118 the registered owner of Unit No. 536 and
representing the title to the Parking Slot No. 42 Parking Slot No. 42;
contained no annotations although it remained
under the name of Cityland Pioneer. This 2. That the mortgage in favor ofOrion
notwithstanding, Cityland Pioneer, through supposedly executed by Kang, with Entry
Assistant Vice President Rosario D. Perez, No. 66432/C-10186 dated February 2,
certified that Kang had fully paid the purchase 1999, was subsequently cancelled by
price of Unit. No. 53610 and Parking Slot No. Entry No. 73232/T No. 10186 dated June
42.11 CCT No. 18186 representing the title to the 16, 2000;
condominium unit had no existing encumbrance,
except for anannotation under Entry No. 73321/C-
3. That the alleged Dacion en Pagowas ruling, however, by deleting the award for moral
never annotated in CCT Nos. 18186 and damages, exemplary damages, attorneys fees,
9118; expenses for litigation and cost of suit.

4. That Orion only paid the appropriate Orion sought a reconsideration of the CA decision
capital gains tax and the documentary but the CA denied the motion in its January 25,
stamp tax for the alleged Dacion en Pago 2013 resolution. Orion then filed a petition for
on October 15, 2003; review on certiorariunder Rule 45 with this Court.

5. That Parking Slot No. 42, covered by The Petition and Comment
CCT No. 9118, was never mortgaged to
Orion; and Orions petition is based on the following
grounds/arguments:15
6. That when Suzuki bought the properties,
he went to Orion to obtain possession of 1. The Deed of Sale executed by Kang in
the titles. favor of Suzuki is null and void. Under
Korean law, any conveyance of a conjugal
The RTC Ruling property should be made with the consent
of both spouses;
In its decision14 dated June 29, 2009, the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 213, Mandaluyong City 2. Suzuki is not a buyer in good faith for he
ruled infavor of Suzuki and ordered Orion to failed to check the owners duplicate
deliver the CCT Nos. 18186 and 9118 to Suzuki. copies of the CCTs;

The court found that Suzuki was an innocent 3. Knowledge of the PRA restriction under
purchaser for value whose rights over the Entry No. 73321/C-10186, which prohibits
properties prevailed over Orions. The RTC further any conveyance or encumbrance of the
noted that Suzuki exerted efforts to verify the property investment, defeats the alleged
status of the properties but he did not find any claim of good faith by Suzuki; and
existing encumbrance inthe titles. Although Orion
claims to have purchased the property by way of 4. Orion should not be faulted for
a Dacion en Pago, Suzuki only learned about it exercising due diligence.
two (2) months after he bought the properties
because Orion never bothered to register or In his Comment,16 Suzuki asserts that the issue on
annotate the Dacion en Pagoin CCT Nos. 18186 spousal consent was belatedly raised on appeal.
and 9116. Moreover, proof of acquisition during the marital
coverture is a condition sine qua nonfor the
The RTC further ordered Orion and Kang to jointly operation of the presumption of conjugal
and severally pay Suzuki moral damages, ownership.17 Suzuki additionally maintains that he
exemplary damages, attorneys fees, appearance is a purchaser in good faith, and is thus entitled to
fees, expenses for litigation and cost ofsuit. Orion the protection of the law.
timely appealed the RTC decision with the CA.
The Courts Ruling
The CA Ruling
We deny the petition for lack of merit.
On August 23, 2012, the CA partially granted
Orions appeal and sustained the RTC insofar as The Court may inquire into conclusions of fact
it upheld Suzukis right over the properties. The when the inference made is manifestly mistaken
CA further noted that Entry No. 73321/C-10186
pertaining to the withdrawal of investment of an In a Rule 45 petition, the latitude of judicial review
SRRV only serves as a warning to an SRRV generally excludes a factual and evidentiary re-
holder about the implications of a conveyance of evaluation, and the Court ordinarily abides by the
a property investment. It deviated from the RTC uniform factual conclusions of the trial court and
the appellate court.18 In the present case, while the domicile and by the law of the place where the
courts below both arrived at the same conclusion, instrument is actually made, his capacity is
there appears tobe an incongruence in their undoubted.25
factual findings and the legal principle they applied
to the attendant factual circumstances. Thus, we On the other hand, property relations between
are compelled to examine certain factual issues in spouses are governed principally by the national
the exercise of our sound discretion to correct any law of the spouses.26 However, the party invoking
mistaken inference that may have been made.19 the application of a foreign law has the burden of
proving the foreign law. The foreign law is a
Philippine Law governs the transfer of real question of fact to be properly pleaded and proved
property as the judge cannot take judicial notice of a foreign
law.27 He is presumed to know only domestic or
Orion believes that the CA erred in not ruling on the law of the forum.28
the issue of spousal consent. We cannot uphold
this position, however, because the issue of To prove a foreign law, the party invoking it must
spousal consent was only raised on appeal to the present a copy thereof and comply with Sections
CA. It is a well-settled principle that points of law, 24 and 25 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of
theories, issues, and arguments not brought to the Court which reads:
attention of the trial court cannot be raised for the
first time on appeal and considered by a reviewing SEC. 24. Proof of official record. The record of
court.20 To consider these belated arguments public documents referred to in paragraph (a) of
would violate basic principles of fairplay, justice, Section 19, when admissible for any purpose, may
and due process. be evidenced by an official publication thereof or
by a copy attested by the officer having the legal
Having said these, we shall nonetheless discuss custody of the record, or by his deputy, and
the issues Orion belatedly raised, if only to put an accompanied, if the record is not kept in the
end to lingering doubts on the correctness of the Philippines, with a certificate that such officer has
denial of the present petition. the custody. If the office in which the record is kept
is in a foreign country, the certificate may be made
It is a universal principle thatreal or immovable by a secretary of the embassy or legation, consul
property is exclusively subject to the laws of the general, consul, vice consul, or consular agent or
country or state where it is located.21 The reason is by any officer in the foreign service of the
found in the very nature of immovable property Philippines stationed in the foreign country
its immobility. Immovables are part of the country inwhich the record is kept, and authenticated by
and so closely connected to it that all rights over the seal of his office. (Emphasis supplied)
them have their natural center of gravity there.22
SEC. 25. What attestation ofcopy must state.
Thus, all matters concerning the titleand Whenever a copy of a document or record is
disposition ofreal property are determined by what attested for the purpose of the evidence, the
is known as the lex loci rei sitae, which can alone attestation must state, in substance, that the copy
prescribe the mode by which a title canpass from is a correct copy of the original, or a specific part
one person to another, or by which an interest thereof, as the case may be. The attestation must
therein can be gained or lost.23 This general be under the official seal of the attesting officer, if
principle includes all rules governing the descent, there be any, or if he be the clerk of a court having
alienation and transfer of immovable property and a seal, under the seal of such court.
the validity, effect and construction of wills and
other conveyances.24 Accordingly, matters concerning the title and
disposition of real property shall be governed by
This principle even governs the capacity of the Philippine law while issues pertaining to the
person making a deed relating to immovable conjugal natureof the property shall be governed
property, no matter what its nature may be. Thus, by South Korean law, provided it is proven as a
an instrument will be ineffective to transfer title to fact.
land if the person making it is incapacitated by the
lex loci rei sitae, even though under the law of his
In the present case, Orion, unfortunately failed to Should there be no inscription, the ownership shall
prove the South Korean law on the conjugal pertain to the person who in good faith was first in
ownership ofproperty. It merely attached a the possession; and, in the absence thereof, to the
"Certification from the Embassy of the Republic of person who presents the oldest title, provided
Korea"29 to prove the existence of Korean Law. there is good faith.
This certification, does not qualify as sufficient
proof of the conjugal nature of the property for The application of Article 1544 of the New Civil
there is no showing that it was properly Code presupposes the existence of two or more
authenticated bythe seal of his office, as required duly executed contracts of sale. In the present
under Section 24 of Rule 132.30 case, the Deed of Sale dated August 26,
200335 between Suzuki and Kang was admitted by
Accordingly, the International Law doctrine of Orion36 and was properly identified by Suzukis
presumed-identity approachor processual witness Ms. Mary Jane Samin (Samin).37
presumption comes into play, i.e., where a foreign
law is not pleaded or, evenif pleaded, is not It is not disputed, too, that the Deed of Sale dated
proven, the presumption is that foreign law is the August 26, 2003 was consummated. In a contract
same as Philippine Law.31 of sale, the seller obligates himself to transfer the
ownership of the determinate thing sold, and to
Under Philippine Law, the phrase "Yung Sam deliver the same to the buyer, who obligates
Kang married to' Hyun Sook Jung" is merely himself to pay a price certain to the seller.38 The
descriptive of the civil status of Kang.32 In other execution of the notarized deed of saleand the
words, the import from the certificates of title is actual transfer of possession amounted to delivery
that Kang is the owner of the properties as they that produced the legal effect of transferring
are registered in his name alone, and that he is ownership to Suzuki.39
married to Hyun Sook Jung.
On the other hand, although Orion claims priority
We are not unmindful that in numerous cases we in right under the principle of prius tempore, potior
have held that registration of the property in the jure (i.e.,first in time, stronger in right), it failedto
name of only one spouse does not negate the prove the existence and due execution of the
possibility of it being conjugal or community Dacion en Pagoin its favor.
property.33 In those cases, however, there was
proof that the properties, though registered in the At the outset, Orion offered the Dacion en Pagoas
name of only one spouse, were indeed either Exhibit "5"with submarkings "5-a" to "5-c" to prove
conjugal or community properties.34 Accordingly, the existence of the February 6, 2003 transaction
we see no reason to declare as invalid Kangs in its Formal Offer dated July 20, 2008. Orion
conveyance in favor of Suzuki for the supposed likewise offered in evidence the supposed
lack of spousal consent. promissory note dated September 4, 2002 as
Exhibit "12"to prove the existence of the
The petitioner failed to adduce sufficient evidence additional P800,000.00 loan. The RTC, however,
to prove the due execution of the Dacion en Pago denied the admission of Exhibits "5" and
"12,"among others, in its order dated August 19,
Article 1544 of the New Civil Codeof the 2008 "since the same [were] not identified in court
Philippines provides that: by any witness."40

ART. 1544. If the same thing should have been Despite the exclusion of its most critical
sold to different vendees, the ownership shall be documentary evidence, Orion failed to make a
transferred to the person who may have first taken tender ofexcluded evidence, as provided under
possession thereof in good faith, if it should be Section 40, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. For
movable property. this reason alone, we are prevented from
seriously considering Exhibit "5" and its
Should it be immovable property, the ownership submarkings and Exhibit "12" in the present
shall belong to the person acquiring it who in good petition.
faith first recorded it in the Registry of Property.
Moreover, even if we consider Exhibit "5" and its hereunder: SINGLE PAYMENT LOANS.42 "There
submarkings and Exhibit "12" in the present was thus no due and demandable loan obligation
petition, the copious inconsistencies and when the alleged Dacion en Pago was executed.
contradictions in the testimonial and documentary
evidence of Orion, militate against the conclusion Second, Perez, the supposed person who
that the Dacion en Pagowas duly executed. First, prepared the Dacion en Pago,appears to only
there appears to be no due and demandable have a vague idea of the transaction he
obligation when the Dacion en Pago was supposedly prepared. During his cross-
executed, contrary to the allegations of Orion. examination, he testified:
Orions witness Perez tried to impress upon the
RTC that Kang was in default in ATTY. DE CASTRO:
his P1,800,000.00 loan. During his direct
examination, he stated: Q: And were you the one who prepared this
[dacion en pago] Mr. witness?
ATTY. CRUZAT:
A: Yes, sir. I personally prepared this.
Q: Okay, so this loan of P1.8 million, what
happened to this loan, Mr. Witness? xxxx

A: Well it became past due, there has been Q: So this 1.8 million pesos is already
delayed interest payment by Mr. inclusive of all the penalties, interest and
Kangand... surcharge due from Mr. Yung Sam Kang?

Q: So what did you do after there were A: Its just the principal, sir.
defaults[?]
Q: So you did not state the interest [and]
A: We have to secure the money or the penalties?
investment of the bank through loans and
we have executed a dacion en A: In the [dacion en pago], we do not
pagobecause Mr. Kang said he has no include interest, sir. We may actually
money. So we just execute[d] the dacion includethat but....
en pago rather than going through the
Foreclosure proceedings. Q: Can you read the Second Whereas
Clause, Mr. Witness?
xxxx
A: Whereas the first party failed to pay the
Q: Can you tell the court when was this said loan to the second party and as of
executed? February 10, 2003, the outstanding
obligation which is due and demandable
A: February 6, 2003, your Honor.41 principal and interest and other charges
included amounts to P1,800,000.00 pesos,
A reading of the supposed promissory note, sir.
however, shows that there was nodefault to speak
of when the supposed Dacion en Pagowas xxxx
executed.
Q: You are now changing your answer[.] [I]t
Based on the promissory note, Kangs loan now includes interest and other charges,
obligation wouldmature only on August 27, 2003. based on this document?
Neither can Orion claim that Kang had been in
default in his installment payments because the A: Yes, based on that document, sir.43
wordings of the promissory note provide that "[t]he
principal of this loanand its interest and other Third, the Dacion en Pago,mentioned that
charges shall be paid by me/us in accordance the P1,800,000.00 loan was secured by a
real estate mortgage. However, no Q: Would you remember what was the
document was ever presented to prove this subject matter of that real estate mortgage
real estate mortgage aside from it being for that first P1,000,000.00 loan?
mentioned in the Dacion en Pago itself.
A: Its a condominium Unit in Cityland, sir.
ATTY. DE CASTRO:
xxxx
Q: Would you know if there is any other
document like a supplement to that Credit Q: Would you recall if there was any
Line Agreement referring to this 1.8 million payment by Mr. Yung Sam Kang of
peso loan by Mr. Yung Sam Kang which this P1,000,000.00 loan?
says that there was a subsequent
collateralization or security given by Mr. A: None sir.
Yung [Sam]
Q: No payments?
Kang for the loan?
A: None sir.
xxxx
Q: And from 1999 to 2002, there was no
A: The [dacion en pago], sir.44 payment, either by way of payment to the
principal, by way ofpayment of interest,
Fourth,the Dacion en Pago was first mentioned there was no payment by Mr. Yung Sam
only two (2) months after Suzuki and Samin Kang of this loan?
demanded the delivery of the titles sometime in
August 2003,and after Suzuki caused the A: Literally, there was no actual cash
annotation of his affidavit of adverse claim. movement, sir.
Records show that it was only on October 9, 2003,
when Orion, through its counsel, Cristobal Balbin Q: There was no actual cash?
Mapile & Associates first spoke of the Dacion en
Pago.45 Not even Perez mentioned any Dacion en A: Yes, sir.
Pago on October 1, 2003, when he personally
received a letter demanding the delivery of the Q: And yet despite no payment, the bank
titles.Instead, Perez refused to accept the letter Orion Savings Bank still extended
and opted to first consult with his lawyer.46 an P800,000.00 additional right?

Notably, even the October 9, 2003 letter contained A: Yes, sir.47


material inconsistencies in its recital of facts
surrounding the execution of the Dacion en Pago. Fifth, it is undisputed that notwithstanding the
In particular, it mentioned that "on [September 4, supposed execution of theDacion en Pago on
2002], after paying the original loan, [Kang] February 2, 2003, Kang remained in possession
applied and was granted a new Credit Line Facility of the condominium unit. In fact, nothing in the
by [Orion] x x x for ONE MILLION EIGHT records shows that Orion even bothered to take
HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS possession of the property even six (6) months
(P1,800,000.00)." Perez, however, testified that after the supposed date of execution of the Dacion
there was "no cash movement" in the en Pago. Kang was even able to transfer
original P1,000,000.00 loan. In his testimony, he possession of the condominium unit to Suzuki,
said: who then made immediate improvements thereon.
If Orion really purchased the condominium unit on
COURT: February 2, 2003 and claimed to be its true owner,
why did it not assert its ownership immediately
xxxx after the alleged sale took place? Why did it have
to assert its ownership only after Suzuki
demanded the delivery of the titles? These gaps Orion argues that the PRA restriction in CCT No.
have remained unanswered and unfilled. 18186 affects the conveyance to Suzuki. In
particular, Orion assails the status of Suzuki as a
In Suntay v. CA,48 we held that the most prominent purchaser in good faith in view of the express PRA
index of simulation is the complete absence of restriction contained in CCT No. 18186.53
anattempt on the part of the vendee to assert his
rights of ownership over the property in question. We reject this suggested approachoutright
After the sale, the vendee should have entered the because, to our mind, the PRA restriction cannot
land and occupied the premises. The absence of affect the conveyance in favor of Suzuki. On this
any attempt on the part of Orion to assert its right particular point, we concur withthe following
of dominion over the property allegedly soldto it is findings of the CA:
a clear badge of fraud. That notwithstanding the
execution of the Dacion en Pago, Kang remained x x x the annotation merely servesas a warning to
in possession of the disputed condominium unit the owner who holds a Special Resident Retirees
from the time of the execution of the Dacion en Visa(SRRV) that he shall lose his visa if he
Pagountil the propertys subsequent transfer to disposes his property which serves as his
Suzuki unmistakably strengthens the fictitious investment in order to qualify for such status.
nature of the Dacion en Pago. Section 14 of the Implementing Investment
Guidelines under Rule VIII-A of the Rules and
These circumstances, aside from the glaring Regulations Implementing Executive Order No.
inconsistencies in the documents and testimony of 1037, Creating the Philippine Retirement Park
Orions witness, indubitably prove the spurious System Providing Funds Therefor and For Other
nature of the Dacion en Pago. Purpose ( otherwise known as the Philippine
Retirement Authority) states:
The fact that the Dacion en Pago
is a notarized document does not Section 14. Should the retiree-investor withdraw
support the conclusion that the his investment from the Philippines, or transfer the
sale it embodies is a true same to another domestic enterprise, orsell,
conveyance convey or transfer his condominium unit or units
to another person, natural or juridical without the
Public instruments are evidence of the facts that prior approval of the Authority, the Special
gave rise to their execution and are to be Resident Retirees Visa issued to him, and/or
considered as containing all the terms of the unmarried minor child or children[,] may be
agreement.49 While a notarized document enjoys cancelled or revoked by the Philippine
this presumption, "the fact that a deed is notarized Government, through the appropriate government
is not a guarantee of the validity of its department or agency, upon recommendation of
contents."50 The presumption of regularity of the Authority.54
notarized documents is not absolute and may be
rebutted by clear and convincing evidence to the Moreover, Orion should not be allowed to
contrary.51 successfully assail the good faith of Suzuki on the
basis of the PRA restriction. Orion knew of the
In the present case, the presumption cannot apply PRA restriction when it transacted with Kang.
because the regularity in the execution of the Incidentally, Orion admitted accommodating
Dacion en Pago and the loan documents was Kangs request to cancel the mortgage annotation
challenged in the proceedings below where their despite the lack of payment to circumvent the PRA
prima facievalidity was overthrown by the highly restriction. Orion, thus, is estopped from
questionable circumstances surrounding their impugning the validity of the conveyance in favor
execution.52 of Suzuki on the basis of the PRA restriction that
Orion itself ignored and "attempted" to circumvent.
Effect of the PRA restriction on
the validity of Suzukis title to the With the conclusion that Orion failed to prove the
property authenticity of the Dacion en Pago, we see no
reason for the application of the rules on double
sale under Article 1544 of the New Civil Code.
Suzuki, moreover, successfully adduced sufficient
evidence to establish the validity of conveyance in CALLEJO, SR., J.:
his favor.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY


the petition for lack of merit. Costs against Before the Court is the petition for review
petitioner Orion Savings Bank. on certiorari filed by Far East Bank and Trust
SO ORDERED. Company (now Bank of the Philippines Islands)

ARTURO D. BRION seeking the reversal of the Decision[1] dated August


Associate Justice
30, 2002 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
WE CONCUR:
CV No. 36627 which ordered it, together with its

branch accountant, Roger Villadelgado, to pay

respondent Themistocles Pacilan, Jr.[2] the total sum

of P100,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages.

The assailed decision affirmed with modification that

of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Negros

Occidental, Bacolod City, Branch 54, in Civil Case

No. 4908. Likewise sought to be reversed and set

aside is the Resolution dated January 17, 2003 of

the appellate court, denying petitioner banks motion


FAR EAST BANK AND TRUST G.R. No. for reconsideration.
157314
COMPANY, NOW BANK OF
THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, Present: The case stemmed from the following undisputed
Petitioner,
PUNO, J., Chairman, facts:
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR.,
- versus - TINGA, and Respondent Pacilan opened a current account with
C
HICO- petitioner banks Bacolod Branch on May 23, 1980.
NAZA
RIO, J His account was denominated as Current Account
J.
Promulgated: No. 53208 (0052-00407-4). The respondent had
THEMISTOCLES PACILAN, JR.,
Respondent. July 29, 2005 since then issued several postdated checks to
x-------------------------------------
-------------x different payees drawn against the said account.

Sometime in March 1988, the respondent issued


DECISION Check No. 2434886 in the amount of P680.00 and
the same was presented for payment to petitioner of P428.57. As a consequence of the overdraft,

bank on April 4, 1988. Check No. 2434886 was dishonored.

Upon its presentment on the said date, On April 18, 1988, the respondent wrote to

Check No. 2434886 was dishonored by petitioner petitioner bank complaining that the closure of his

bank. The next day, or on April 5, 1988, the account was unjustified. When he did not receive a

respondent deposited to his current account the reply from petitioner bank, the respondent filed with

amount of P800.00. The said amount was accepted the RTC of Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, Branch

by petitioner bank; hence, increasing the balance of 54, a complaint for damages against petitioner bank

the respondents deposit to P1,051.43. and Villadelgado. The case was docketed as Civil

Case No. 4908. The respondent, as complainant


Subsequently, when the respondent verified
therein, alleged that the closure of his current
with petitioner bank about the dishonor of Check No.
account by petitioner bank was unjustified because
2434866, he discovered that his current account
on the first banking hour of April 5, 1988, he already
was closed on the ground that it was improperly
deposited an amount sufficient to fund his checks.
handled. The records of petitioner bank disclosed
The respondent pointed out that Check No.
that between the period of March 30,
2434886, in particular, was delivered to petitioner
1988 and April 5, 1988, the respondent issued four
bank at the close of banking hours on April 4, 1988
checks, to wit: Check No. 2480416 for P6,000.00;
and, following normal banking procedure, it
Check No. 2480419 for P50.00; Check No. 2434880
(petitioner bank) had until the last clearing hour of
for P680.00 and; Check No. 2434886 for P680.00,
the following day, or on April 5, 1988, to honor the
or a total amount of P7,410.00. At the time, however,
check or return it, if not funded. In disregard of this
the respondents current account with petitioner bank
banking procedure and practice, however, petitioner
only had a deposit of P6,981.43. Thus, the total
bank hastily closed the respondents current account
amount of the checks presented for payment on April
and dishonored his Check No. 2434886.
4, 1988 exceeded the balance of the respondents

deposit in his account. For this reason, petitioner The respondent further alleged that prior to the

bank, through its branch accountant, Villadelgado, closure of his current account, he had issued several

closed the respondents current account effective the other postdated checks. The petitioner banks act of

evening of April 4, 1988 as it then had an overdraft closing his current account allegedly preempted the
deposits that he intended to make to fund those which are drawn against insufficient funds or for any

checks. Further, the petitioner banks act exposed reason.[3]

him to criminal prosecution for violation of Batas


They showed that the respondent had improperly
Pambansa Blg. 22.
and irregularly handled his current account. For

According to the respondent, the indecent haste that example, in 1986, the respondents account was

attended the closure of his account was patently overdrawn 156 times, in 1987, 117 times and in

malicious and intended to embarrass him. He 1988, 26 times. In all these instances, the account

claimed that he is a Cashier of Prudential Bank and was overdrawn due to the issuance of checks

Trust Company, whose branch office is located just against insufficient funds. The respondent had also

across that of petitioner bank, and a prominent and signed several checks with a different signature from

respected leader both in the civic and banking the specimen on file for dubious reasons.

communities. The alleged malicious acts of


When the respondent made the deposit on April 5,
petitioner bank besmirched the respondents
1988, it was obviously to cover for issuances made
reputation and caused him social humiliation,
the previous day against an insufficiently funded
wounded feelings, insurmountable worries and
account. When his Check No. 2434886 was
sleepless nights entitling him to an award of
presented for payment on April 4, 1988, he had
damages.
already incurred an overdraft; hence, petitioner bank

In their answer, petitioner bank and Villadelgado rightfully dishonored the same for insufficiency of

maintained that the respondents current account funds.

was subject to petitioner banks Rules and


After due proceedings, the court a quo rendered
Regulations Governing the Establishment and
judgment in favor of the respondent as it ordered the
Operation of Regular Demand
petitioner bank and Villadelgado, jointly and
Deposits which provide that the Bank reserves the
severally, to pay the respondent the amounts
right to close an account if the depositor frequently
of P100,000.00 as moral damages and P50,000.00
draws checks against insufficient funds and/or
as exemplary damages and costs of suit. In so
uncollected deposits and that the Bank reserves the
ruling, the court a quo also cited petitioner banks
right at any time to return checks of the depositor
rules and regulations which state that a charge

of P10.00 shall be levied against the depositor for


any check that is taken up as a returned item due to his credit standing in the business community. The

insufficiency of funds on the date of receipt from the court a quo further ratiocinated that even

clearing office even if said check is honored and/or granting arguendo that petitioner bank had the right

covered by sufficient deposit the following banking to close the respondents account, the manner which

day. The same rules and regulations also provide attended the closure constituted an abuse of the

that a check returned for insufficiency of funds for said right. Citing Article 19 of the Civil Code of the

any reason of similar import may be subsequently Philippines which states that [e]very person must, in

recleared for one more time only, subject to the the exercise of his rights and in the performance of

same charges. his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due,

and observe honesty and good faith and Article 20


According to the court a quo, following these rules
thereof which states that [e]very person who,
and regulations, the respondent, as depositor, had
contrary to law, wilfully or negligently causes
the right to put up sufficient funds for a check that
damage to another, shall indemnify the latter for the
was taken as a returned item for insufficient funds
same, the court a quo adjudged petitioner bank of
the day following the receipt of said check from the
acting in bad faith. It held that, under the foregoing
clearing office. In fact, the said check could still be
circumstances, the respondent is entitled to an
recleared for one more time. In previous instances,
award of moral and exemplary damages.
petitioner bank notified the respondent when he

incurred an overdraft and he would then deposit The decretal portion of the court a quos decision

sufficient funds the following day to cover the reads:

overdraft. Petitioner bank thus acted unjustifiably WHEREFORE, PREMISES


CONSIDERED, judgment is hereby
when it immediately closed the respondents account rendered:
on April 4, 1988 and deprived him of the opportunity 1. Ordering the defendants
[petitioner bank and
to reclear his check or deposit sufficient funds Villadelgado], jointly and
severally, to pay plaintiff [the
therefor the following day.
respondent] the sum
of P100,000.00 as moral
As a result of the closure of his current account, damages;

several of the respondents checks were 2. Ordering the defendants,


jointly and severally, to pay
subsequently dishonored and because of this, the plaintiff the sum
of P50,000.00 as exemplary
respondent was humiliated, embarrassed and lost damages plus costs and
expenses of the suit; and
3. Dismissing [the] Echoing the reasoning of the court a quo, the
defendants counterclaim for
lack of merit. CA declared that even as it may be conceded that

SO ORDERED.[4] petitioner bank had reserved the right to close an

account for repeated overdrafts by the respondent,

On appeal, the CA rendered the Decision dated the exercise of that right must never be despotic or

August 30, 2002, affirming with modification the arbitrary. That petitioner bank chose to close the

decision of the court a quo. account outright and return the check, even after

accepting a deposit sufficient to cover the said


The appellate court substantially affirmed the factual
check, is contrary to its duty to handle the
findings of the court a quo as it held that petitioner
respondents account with utmost fidelity. The
bank unjustifiably closed the respondents account
exercise of the right is not absolute and good faith,
notwithstanding that its own rules and regulations
at least, is required. The manner by which petitioner

bank closed the account of the respondent runs


allow that a check returned for insufficiency of funds
afoul of Article 19 of the Civil Code which enjoins
or any reason of similar import, may be subsequently
every person, in the exercise of his rights, to give
recleared for one more time, subject to standard
every one his due, and observe honesty and good
charges. Like the court a quo, the appellate court
faith.
observed that in several instances in previous years,

petitioner bank would inform the respondent when

he incurred an overdraft and allowed him to make a


The CA concluded that petitioner banks
timely deposit to fund the checks that were initially
precipitate and imprudent closure of the
dishonored for insufficiency of funds. However, on
respondents account had caused him, a respected
April 4, 1988, petitioner bank immediately closed the
officer of several civic and banking associations,
respondents account without even notifying him that
serious anxiety and humiliation. It had, likewise,
he had incurred an overdraft. Even when they had
tainted his credit standing. Consequently, the award
already closed his account on April 4, 1988,
of damages is warranted. The CA, however,
petitioner bank still accepted the deposit that the
reduced the amount of damages awarded by the
respondent made on April 5, 1988, supposedly to
court a quo as it found the same to be excessive:
cover his checks.
We, however, find excessive
the amount of damages awarded by
the RTC. In our view the reduced
amount of P75,000.00 as moral
damages and P25,000.00 as and/or uncollected deposits. The same rules and
exemplary damages are in order.
Awards for damages are not meant to regulations also provide that the depositor is not
enrich the plaintiff-appellee [the
respondent] at the expense of entitled, as a matter of right, to overdraw on this
defendants-appellants [the
petitioners], but to obviate the moral deposit and the bank reserves the right at any time
suffering he has undergone. The
to return checks of the depositor which are drawn
award is aimed at the restoration,
within limits possible, of the status against insufficient funds or for any reason.
quo ante, and should be
proportionate to the suffering
inflicted.[5] It cites the numerous instances that the respondent

had overdrawn his account and those instances


The dispositive portion of the assailed CA decision where he deliberately signed checks using a
reads: signature different from the specimen on file. Based
WHEREFORE, the decision on these facts, petitioner bank was constrained to
appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED,
subject to the MODIFICATION that close the respondents account for improper and
the award of moral damages is
reduced to P75,000.00 and the irregular handling and returned his Check No.
award of exemplary damages
reduced to P25,000.00. 2434886 which was presented to the bank for

SO ORDERED.[6] payment on April 4, 1988.

Petitioner bank further posits that there is no law or


Petitioner bank sought the reconsideration of the
rule which gives the respondent a legal right to make
said decision but in the assailed Resolution dated
good his check or to deposit the corresponding
January 17, 2003, the appellate court denied its
amount to cover said check within 24 hours after the
motion. Hence, the recourse to this Court.
same is dishonored or returned by the bank for

Petitioner bank maintains that, in closing the account having been drawn against insufficient funds. It

of the respondent in the evening of April 4, 1988, it vigorously denies having violated Article 19 of the

acted in good faith and in accordance with the rules Civil Code as it insists that it acted in good faith and

and regulations governing the operation of a in accordance with the pertinent banking rules and

regulations.

regular demand deposit which reserves to the bank


The petition is impressed with merit.
the right to close an account if the depositor

frequently draws checks against insufficient funds


A perusal of the respective decisions of the unjustifiable harm. Malice is bad faith or bad

court a quo and the appellate court show that the motive.[12]

award of damages in the respondents favor was


Undoubtedly, petitioner bank has the right to
anchored mainly on Article 19 of the Civil Code
close the account of the respondent based on the
which, quoted anew below, reads:
Art. 19. Every person must, in following provisions of its Rules and Regulations
the exercise of his rights and in the
performance of his duties, act with Governing the Establishment and Operation of
justice, give everyone his due, and
observe honesty and good faith. Regular Demand Deposits:

10) The Bank reserves the right


to close an account if the
The elements of abuse of rights are the depositor frequently draws
checks against insufficient
following: (a) the existence of a legal right or duty; funds and/or uncollected
deposits.
(b) which is exercised in bad faith; and (c) for the

sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another.[7] Malice 12)


However, it is clearly
or bad faith is at the core of the said provision.[8] The understood that the depositor is
not entitled, as a matter of right,
law always presumes good faith and any person who
to overdraw on this deposit and
seeks to be awarded damages due to acts of the bank reserves the right at
any time to return checks of the
another has the burden of proving that the latter depositor which are drawn
against insufficient funds or for
acted in bad faith or with ill-motive.[9] Good faith any other reason.

refers to the state of the mind which is manifested by

the acts of the individual concerned. It consists of the The facts, as found by the court a quo and

intention to abstain from taking an unconscionable the appellate court, do not establish that, in the

and unscrupulous advantage of another.[10] Bad faith exercise of this right, petitioner bank committed an

does not simply connote bad judgment or simple abuse thereof. Specifically, the second and third

negligence, dishonest purpose or some moral elements for abuse of rights are not attendant in the

obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong, a breach present case. The evidence presented by petitioner

of known duty due to some motives or interest or ill- bank negates the existence of bad faith or malice on

will that partakes of the nature of fraud.[11] Malice its part in closing the respondents account on April

connotes ill-will or spite and speaks not in response 4, 1988 because on the said date the same was

to duty. It implies an intention to do ulterior and already overdrawn. The respondent issued four

checks, all due on April 4, 1988, amounting


to P7,410.00 when the balance of his current accordance with the express rules and regulations

account deposit was only P6,981.43. Thus, he governing the current accounts of its depositors.

incurred an overdraft of P428.57 which resulted in Upon the opening of his account, the respondent

the dishonor of his Check No. 2434886. Further, had agreed to be bound by these terms and

petitioner bank showed that in 1986, the current conditions.

account of the respondent was overdrawn 156 times


Neither the fact that petitioner bank accepted the
due to his issuance of checks against insufficient
deposit made by the respondent the day following
funds.[13] In 1987, the said account was overdrawn
the closure of his account constitutes bad faith or
117 times for the same
malice on the part of petitioner bank. The same

could be characterized as simple negligence by its


reason.[14] Again, in 1988, 26 times.[15] There were
personnel. Said act, by itself, is not constitutive of
also several instances when the respondent issued
bad faith.
checks deliberately using a signature different from
The respondent had thus failed to discharge
his specimen signature on file with petitioner
his burden of proving bad faith on the part of
bank.[16] All these circumstances taken together
petitioner bank or that it was motivated by ill-will or
justified the petitioner banks closure of the
spite in closing his account on April 4, 1988 and in
respondents account on April 4, 1988 for improper
inadvertently accepting his deposit on April 5, 1988.
handling.

Further, it has not been shown that these


It is observed that nowhere under its rules
acts were done by petitioner bank with the sole
and regulations is petitioner bank required to notify
intention of prejudicing and injuring the respondent.
the respondent, or any depositor for that matter, of
It is conceded that the respondent may have
the closure of the account for frequently drawing
suffered damages as a result of the closure of his
checks against insufficient funds. No malice or bad
current account. However, there is a material
faith could be imputed on petitioner bank for so
distinction between damages and injury. The Court
acting since the records bear out that the respondent
had the occasion to explain the distinction between
had indeed been improperly and irregularly handling
damages and injury in this wise:
his account not just a few times but hundreds of
Injury is the illegal invasion of
times. Under the circumstances, petitioner bank a legal right; damage is the loss, hurt
or harm which results from the injury;
could not be faulted for exercising its right in and damages are the recompense or
compensation awarded for the
damage suffered. Thus, there can be WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED.
damage without injury in those
instances in which the loss or harm The Decision dated August 30, 2002 and Resolution
was not the result of a violation of a
legal duty. In such cases, the dated January 17, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in
consequences must be borne by the
injured person alone, the law affords CA-G.R. CV No. 36627 are REVERSED AND SET
no remedy for damages resulting
ASIDE.
from an act which does not amount to
a legal injury or wrong. These
situations are often called damnum SO ORDERED.
absque injuria.

In other words, in order that a plaintiff


may maintain an action for the
injuries of which he complains, he
must establish that such injuries
resulted from a breach of duty which
the defendant owed to the plaintiff a
concurrence of injury to the plaintiff
and legal responsibility by the person
causing it. The underlying basis for
the award of tort damages is the
premise that the individual was
injured in contemplation of law. Thus,
there must first be a breach of some
duty and the imposition of liability for
that breach before damages may be
awarded; and the breach of such duty
should be the proximate cause of the
injury.[17]

Whatever damages the respondent may have

suffered as a consequence, e.g., dishonor of his

other insufficiently funded checks, would have to be

borne by him alone. It was the respondents repeated

improper

and irregular handling of his account which

constrained petitioner bank to close the same in

accordance with the rules and regulations governing

its depositors current accounts. The respondents

case is clearly one of damnum absque injuria.


the motorcycle was parked in an open space inside
respondents business establishment, Avesco-
AVNE Enterprises, where it was visible and
accessible to the public.

It turned out that, in October 1981, the motorcycle


had been sold on installment basis to Gabutero by
petitioner Ramas Uypitching Sons, Inc., a family-
owned corporation managed by petitioner Atty.
Ernesto Ramas Uypitching. To secure its payment,
the motorcycle was mortgaged to petitioner
corporation.4

When Gabutero could no longer pay the


installments, Davalan assumed the obligation and
continued the payments. In September 1982,
however, Davalan stopped paying the remaining
installments and told petitioner corporations
collector, Wilfredo Verao, that the motorcycle had
allegedly been "taken by respondents men."

Nine years later, on January 26, 1991, petitioner


Uypitching, accompanied by policemen,5 went to
Avesco-AVNE Enterprises to recover the
ERNESTO RAMAS UYPITCHING and RAMAS
motorcycle. The leader of the police team, P/Lt.
UYPITCHING SONS, INC., petitioners,
Arturo Vendiola, talked to the clerk in charge and
vs.
asked for respondent. While P/Lt. Vendiola and the
ERNESTO QUIAMCO, respondent.
clerk were talking, petitioner Uypitching paced back
and forth inside the establishment uttering
"Quiamco is a thief of a motorcycle."

On learning that respondent was not in Avesco-


DECISION AVNE Enterprises, the policemen left to look for
respondent in his residence while petitioner
Uypitching stayed in the establishment to take
CORONA, J.: photographs of the motorcycle. Unable to find
respondent, the policemen went back to Avesco-
Honeste vivere, non alterum laedere et jus suum AVNE Enterprises and, on petitioner Uypitchings
cuique tribuere. To live virtuously, not to injure instruction and over the clerks objection, took the
others and to give everyone his due. These motorcycle.
supreme norms of justice are the underlying
principles of law and order in society. We reaffirm On February 18, 1991, petitioner Uypitching filed a
them in this petition for review on certiorari criminal complaint for qualified theft and/or violation
assailing the July 26, 2000 decision1 and October of the Anti-Fencing Law6 against respondent in the
18, 2000 resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in Office of the City Prosecutor of Dumaguete
CA-G.R. CV No. 47571. City.7 Respondent moved for dismissal because the
complaint did not charge an offense as he had
In 1982, respondent Ernesto C. Quiamco was neither stolen nor bought the motorcycle. The
approached by Juan Davalan,2 Josefino Gabutero Office of the City Prosecutor dismissed the
and Raul Generoso to amicably settle the civil complaint8 and denied petitioner Uypitchings
aspect of a criminal case for robbery3 filed by subsequent motion for reconsideration.
Quiamco against them. They surrendered to him a
red Honda XL-100 motorcycle and a photocopy of Respondent filed an action for damages against
its certificate of registration. Respondent asked for petitioners in the RTC of Dumaguete City, Negros
the original certificate of registration but the three Oriental, Branch 37.9 He sought to hold the
accused never came to see him again. Meanwhile, petitioners liable for the following: (1) unlawful
taking of the motorcycle; (2) utterance of a act."15 Petitioners were bent on portraying
defamatory remark (that respondent was a thief) respondent as a thief. In this connection, we quote
and (3) precipitate filing of a baseless and with approval the following findings of the RTC, as
malicious complaint. These acts humiliated and adopted by the CA:
embarrassed the respondent and injured his
reputation and integrity. x x x There was malice or ill-will [in filing the
complaint before the City Prosecutors
On July 30, 1994, the trial court rendered a Office] because Atty. Ernesto Ramas
decision10 finding that petitioner Uypitching was Uypitching knew or ought to have known as
motivated with malice and ill will when he called he is a lawyer, that there was no probable
respondent a thief, took the motorcycle in an cause at all for filing a criminal complaint for
abusive manner and filed a baseless complaint for qualified theft and fencing activity against
qualified theft and/or violation of the Anti-Fencing [respondent]. Atty. Uypitching had no
Law. Petitioners acts were found to be contrary to personal knowledge that [respondent] stole
Articles 1911 and 2012 of the Civil Code. Hence, the the motorcycle in question. He was merely
trial court held petitioners liable to respondent told by his bill collector ([i.e.] the bill
for P500,000 moral damages, P200,000 exemplary collector of Ramas Uypitching Sons, Inc.)[,]
damages and P50,000 attorneys fees plus costs. Wilfredo Verao[,] that Juan Dabalan will
[no longer] pay the remaining installment(s)
Petitioners appealed the RTC decision but the CA for the motorcycle because the motorcycle
affirmed the trial courts decision with modification, was taken by the men of [respondent]. It
reducing the award of moral and exemplary must be noted that the term used by
damages to P300,000 and P100,000, Wilfredo Verao in informing Atty. Ernesto
respectively.13 Petitioners sought reconsideration Ramas Uypitching of the refusal of Juan
but it was denied. Thus, this petition. Dabalan to pay for the remaining installment
was []taken[], not []unlawfully taken[] or
In their petition and memorandum, petitioners stolen. Yet, despite the double hearsay,
submit that the sole (allegedly) issue to be resolved Atty. Ernesto Ramas Uypitching not only
here is whether the filing of a complaint for qualified executed the [complaint-affidavit] wherein
theft and/or violation of the Anti-Fencing Law in the he named [respondent] as the suspect of
Office of the City Prosecutor warranted the award the stolen motorcycle but also charged
of moral damages, exemplary damages, attorneys [respondent] of qualified theft and fencing
fees and costs in favor of respondent. activity before the City [Prosecutors] Office
of Dumaguete. The absence of probable
Petitioners suggestion is misleading. They were cause necessarily signifies the presence of
held liable for damages not only for instituting a malice. What is deplorable in all these is
groundless complaint against respondent but also that Juan Dabalan, the owner of the
for making a slanderous remark and for taking the motorcycle, did not accuse [respondent] or
motorcycle from respondents establishment in an the latters men of stealing the motorcycle[,]
abusive manner. much less bother[ed] to file a case for
qualified theft before the authorities. That
Correctness of the Findings of the RTC and CA Atty. Uypitchings act in charging
[respondent] with qualified theft and fencing
activity is tainted with malice is also shown
As they never questioned the findings of the RTC
by his answer to the question of Cupid
and CA that malice and ill will attended not only the
Gonzaga16[during one of their
public imputation of a crime to respondent14 but
conversations] - "why should you still file a
also the taking of the motorcycle, petitioners were
complaint? You have already recovered the
deemed to have accepted the correctness of such
motorcycle"[:] "Aron motagam ang
findings. This alone was sufficient to hold
kawatan ug motor." ("To teach a lesson to
petitioners liable for damages to respondent.
the thief of motorcycle.")17
Nevertheless, to address petitioners concern, we
Moreover, the existence of malice, ill will or bad
also find that the trial and appellate courts correctly
faith is a factual matter. As a rule, findings of fact of
ruled that the filing of the complaint was tainted with
the trial court, when affirmed by the appellate court,
malice and bad faith. Petitioners themselves in fact
are conclusive on this Court. We see no compelling
described their action as a "precipitate
reason to reverse the findings of the RTC and the There is an abuse of right when it is exercised
CA. solely to prejudice or injure another.20 The exercise
of a right must be in accordance with the purpose
Petitioners Abused Their Right of Recovery as for which it was established and must not be
Mortgagee(s) excessive or unduly harsh; there must be no
intention to harm another.21 Otherwise, liability for
Petitioners claim that they should not be held liable damages to the injured party will attach.
for petitioner corporations exercise of its right as
seller-mortgagee to recover the mortgaged vehicle In this case, the manner by which the motorcycle
preliminary to the enforcement of its right to was taken at petitioners instance was not only
foreclose on the mortgage in case of default. They attended by bad faith but also contrary to the
are clearly mistaken. procedure laid down by law. Considered in
conjunction with the defamatory statement,
True, a mortgagee may take steps to recover the petitioners exercise of the right to recover the
mortgaged property to enable it to enforce or mortgaged vehicle was utterly prejudicial and
protect its foreclosure right thereon. There is, injurious to respondent. On the other hand, the
however, a well-defined procedure for the recovery precipitate act of filing an unfounded complaint
of possession of mortgaged property: if a could not in any way be considered to be in
mortgagee is unable to obtain possession of a accordance with the purpose for which the right to
mortgaged property for its sale on foreclosure, he prosecute a crime was established. Thus, the
must bring a civil action either to recover such totality of petitioners actions showed a calculated
possession as a preliminary step to the sale, or to design to embarrass, humiliate and publicly ridicule
obtain judicial foreclosure.18 respondent. Petitioners acted in an excessively
harsh fashion to the prejudice of respondent.
Petitioner corporation failed to bring the proper civil Contrary to law, petitioners willfully caused damage
action necessary to acquire legal possession of the to respondent. Hence, they should indemnify him.22
motorcycle. Instead, petitioner Uypitching
descended on respondents establishment with his WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The
policemen and ordered the seizure of the July 26, 2000 decision and October 18, 2000
motorcycle without a search warrant or court order. resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
Worse, in the course of the illegal seizure of the No. 47571 are AFFIRMED.
motorcycle, petitioner Uypitching even mouthed a
slanderous statement. Triple costs against petitioners, considering that
petitioner Ernesto Ramas Uypitching is a lawyer
No doubt, petitioner corporation, acting through its and an officer of the court, for his improper
co-petitioner Uypitching, blatantly disregarded the behavior.
lawful procedure for the enforcement of its right, to
the prejudice of respondent. Petitioners acts SO ORDERED.
violated the law as well as public morals, and
transgressed the proper norms of human relations.

The basic principle of human relations, embodied in


Article 19 of the Civil Code, provides:

Art. 19. Every person must in the exercise


of his rights and in the performance of his
duties, act with justice, give every one his
due, and observe honesty and good faith.

Article 19, also known as the "principle of abuse of


right," prescribes that a person should not use his
right unjustly or contrary to honesty and good faith,
otherwise he opens himself to liability.19 It seeks to
preclude the use of, or the tendency to use, a legal
right (or duty) as a means to unjust ends.
the Visayas and Mindanao, as a special non-
proprietary member. The designation was
thereafter approved by the CCCIs Board of
Directors.

In 1996, respondent filed with CCCI an application


for proprietary membership. The application was
indorsed by CCCIs two (2) proprietary members,
namely: Edmundo T. Misa and Silvano Ludo.

As the price of a proprietary share was around


the P5 million range, Benito Unchuan, then
president of CCCI, offered to sell respondent a
share for only P3.5 million. Respondent, however,
purchased the share of a certain Dr. Butalid for
only P3 million. Consequently, on September 6,
1996, CCCI issued Proprietary Ownership
Certificate No. 1446 to respondent.

During the meetings dated April 4, 1997 and May


30, 1997 of the CCCI Board of Directors, action on
respondents application for proprietary
membership was deferred. In another Board
CEBU COUNTRY CLUB, INC., SABINO R. meeting held on July 30, 1997, respondents
DAPAT, RUBEN D. ALMENDRAS, JULIUS Z. application was voted upon. Subsequently, or on
NERI, DOUGLAS L. LUYM, CESAR T. LIBI, August 1, 1997, respondent received a letter from
RAMONTITO* E. GARCIA and JOSE B. Julius Z. Neri, CCCIs corporate secretary,
SALA, petitioners, informing him that the Board disapproved his
vs. application for proprietary membership.
RICARDO F. ELIZAGAQUE, respondent.
On August 6, 1997, Edmundo T. Misa, on behalf of
DECISION respondent, wrote CCCI a letter of reconsideration.
As CCCI did not answer, respondent, on October 7,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: 1997, wrote another letter of reconsideration. Still,
CCCI kept silent. On November 5, 1997,
respondent again sent CCCI a letter inquiring
For our resolution is the instant Petition for Review
whether any member of the Board objected to his
on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of
application. Again, CCCI did not reply.
Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the
Decision1 dated January 31, 2003 and Resolution
dated October 2, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in Consequently, on December 23, 1998, respondent
CA-G.R. CV No. 71506. filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
71, Pasig City a complaint for damages against
petitioners, docketed as Civil Case No. 67190.
The facts are:
After trial, the RTC rendered its Decision dated
Cebu Country Club, Inc. (CCCI), petitioner, is a
February 14, 2001 in favor of respondent, thus:
domestic corporation operating as a non-profit and
non-stock private membership club, having its
principal place of business in Banilad, Cebu City. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby
Petitioners herein are members of its Board of rendered in favor of plaintiff:
Directors.
1. Ordering defendants to pay, jointly and
Sometime in 1987, San Miguel Corporation, a severally, plaintiff the amount
special company proprietary member of CCCI, of P2,340,000.00 as actual or compensatory
designated respondent Ricardo F. Elizagaque, its damages.
Senior Vice President and Operations Manager for
2. Ordering defendants to pay, jointly and On March 3, 2003, petitioners filed a motion for
severally, plaintiff the amount reconsideration and motion for leave to set the
of P5,000,000.00 as moral damages. motion for oral arguments. In its Resolution4 dated
October 2, 2003, the appellate court denied the
3. Ordering defendants to pay, jointly and motions for lack of merit.
severally, plaintiff the amount
of P1,000,000.00 as exemplary damages. Hence, the present petition.

4. Ordering defendants to pay, jointly and The issue for our resolution is whether in
severally, plaintiff the amount disapproving respondents application for
of P1,000,000.00 as and by way of proprietary membership with CCCI, petitioners are
attorneys fees and P80,000.00 as litigation liable to respondent for damages, and if so,
expenses. whether their liability is joint and several.

5. Costs of suit. Petitioners contend, inter alia, that the Court of


Appeals erred in awarding exorbitant damages to
Counterclaims are hereby DISMISSED for respondent despite the lack of evidence that they
lack of merit. acted in bad faith in disapproving the latters
application; and in disregarding their defense
SO ORDERED.2 of damnum absque injuria.

On appeal by petitioners, the Court of Appeals, in For his part, respondent maintains that the petition
its Decision dated January 31, 2003, affirmed the lacks merit, hence, should be denied.
trial courts Decision with modification, thus:
CCCIs Articles of Incorporation provide in part:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the
assailed Decision dated February 14, 2001 SEVENTH: That this is a non-stock
of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 71, corporation and membership therein as well
Pasig City in Civil Case No. 67190 is hereby as the right of participation in its assets shall
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as be limited to qualified persons who are duly
follows: accredited owners of Proprietary Ownership
Certificates issued by the corporation in
1. Ordering defendants-appellants to pay, accordance with its By-Laws.
jointly and severally, plaintiff-appellee the
amount of P2,000,000.00 as moral Corollary, Section 3, Article 1 of CCCIs Amended
damages; By-Laws provides:

2. Ordering defendants-appellants to pay, SECTION 3. HOW MEMBERS ARE


jointly and severally, plaintiff-appellee the ELECTED The procedure for the
amount of P1,000,000.00 as exemplary admission of new members of the Club shall
damages; be as follows:

3. Ordering defendants-appellants to pay, (a) Any proprietary member, seconded by


jointly and severally, plaintiff-appellee the another voting proprietary member, shall
mount of P500,000.00 as attorneys fees submit to the Secretary a written proposal
and P50,000.00 as litigation expenses; and for the admission of a candidate to the
"Eligible-for-Membership List";
4. Costs of the suit.
(b) Such proposal shall be posted by the
The counterclaims are DISMISSED for lack Secretary for a period of thirty (30) days on
of merit. the Club bulletin board during which time
any member may interpose objections to
SO ORDERED.3 the admission of the applicant by
communicating the same to the Board of
Directors;
(c) After the expiration of the aforesaid thirty contrary to morals, good customs or public
(30) days, if no objections have been filed or policy shall compensate the latter for the
if there are, the Board considers the damage.
objections unmeritorious, the candidate
shall be qualified for inclusion in the In GF Equity, Inc. v. Valenzona,5 we expounded
"Eligible-for-Membership List"; Article 19 and correlated it with Article 21, thus:

(d) Once included in the "Eligible-for- This article, known to contain what is
Membership List" and after the candidate commonly referred to as the principle of
shall have acquired in his name a valid POC abuse of rights, sets certain standards
duly recorded in the books of the which must be observed not only in the
corporation as his own, he shall become a exercise of one's rights but also in the
Proprietary Member, upon a non-refundable performance of one's duties. These
admission fee of P1,000.00, provided that standards are the following: to act with
admission fees will only be collected once justice; to give everyone his due; and to
from any person. observe honesty and good faith. The law,
therefore, recognizes a primordial limitation
On March 1, 1978, Section 3(c) was amended to on all rights; that in their exercise, the norms
read as follows: of human conduct set forth in Article 19
must be observed. A right, though by itself
(c) After the expiration of the aforesaid thirty legal because recognized or granted by law
(30) days, the Board may, by unanimous as such, may nevertheless become the
vote of all directors present at a regular or source of some illegality. When a right is
special meeting, approve the inclusion of exercised in a manner which does not
the candidate in the "Eligible-for- conform with the norms enshrined in Article
Membership List". 19 and results in damage to another, a legal
wrong is thereby committed for which the
As shown by the records, the Board adopted a wrongdoer must be held responsible. But
secret balloting known as the "black ball system" of while Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct
voting wherein each member will drop a ball in the for the government of human relations and
ballot box. A white ball represents conformity to the for the maintenance of social order, it does
admission of an applicant, while a black ball means not provide a remedy for its violation.
disapproval. Pursuant to Section 3(c), as amended, Generally, an action for damages under
cited above, a unanimous vote of the directors is either Article 20 or Article 21 would be
required. When respondents application for proper. (Emphasis in the original)
proprietary membership was voted upon during the
Board meeting on July 30, 1997, the ballot box In rejecting respondents application for proprietary
contained one (1) black ball. Thus, for lack of membership, we find that petitioners violated the
unanimity, his application was disapproved. rules governing human relations, the basic
principles to be observed for the rightful relationship
Obviously, the CCCI Board of Directors, under its between human beings and for the stability of
Articles of Incorporation, has the right to approve or social order. The trial court and the Court of
disapprove an application for proprietary Appeals aptly held that petitioners committed fraud
membership. But such right should not be and evident bad faith in disapproving respondents
exercised arbitrarily. Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil applications. This is contrary to morals, good
Code on the Chapter on Human Relations provide custom or public policy. Hence, petitioners are
restrictions, thus: liable for damages pursuant to Article 19 in relation
to Article 21 of the same Code.
Article 19. Every person must, in the
exercise of his rights and in the It bears stressing that the amendment to Section
performance of his duties, act with justice, 3(c) of CCCIs Amended By-Laws requiring the
give everyone his due, and observe honesty unanimous vote of the directors present at a special
and good faith. or regular meeting was not printed on the
application form respondent filled and submitted to
Article 21. Any person who willfully causes CCCI. What was printed thereon was the original
loss or injury to another in a manner that is provision of Section 3(c) which was silent on the
required number of votes needed for admission of However, the amount of P2,000,000.00 is
an applicant as a proprietary member. excessive. While there is no hard-and-fast rule in
determining what would be a fair and reasonable
Petitioners explained that the amendment was not amount of moral damages, the same should not be
printed on the application form due to economic palpably and scandalously excessive. Moral
reasons. We find this excuse flimsy and damages are not intended to impose a penalty to
unconvincing. Such amendment, aside from being the wrongdoer, neither to enrich the claimant at the
extremely significant, was introduced way back in expense of the defendant.8 Taking into
1978 or almost twenty (20) years before consideration the attending circumstances here, we
respondent filed his application. We cannot fathom hold that an award to respondent of P50,000.00,
why such a prestigious and exclusive golf country instead of P2,000,000.00, as moral damages is
club, like the CCCI, whose members are all reasonable.
affluent, did not have enough money to cause the
printing of an updated application form. Anent the award of exemplary damages, Article
2229 allows it by way of example or correction for
It is thus clear that respondent was left groping in the public good. Nonetheless, since exemplary
the dark wondering why his application was damages are imposed not to enrich one party or
disapproved. He was not even informed that a impoverish another but to serve as a deterrent
unanimous vote of the Board members was against or as a negative incentive to curb socially
required. When he sent a letter for reconsideration deleterious actions,9 we reduce the amount
and an inquiry whether there was an objection to from P1,000,000.00 to P25,000.00 only.
his application, petitioners apparently ignored him.
Certainly, respondent did not deserve this kind of On the matter of attorneys fees and litigation
treatment. Having been designated by San Miguel expenses, Article 2208 of the same Code provides,
Corporation as a special non-proprietary member of among others, that attorneys fees and expenses of
CCCI, he should have been treated by petitioners litigation may be recovered in cases when
with courtesy and civility. At the very least, they exemplary damages are awarded and where the
should have informed him why his application was court deems it just and equitable that attorneys
disapproved. fees and expenses of litigation should be
recovered, as in this case. In any event, however,
The exercise of a right, though legal by itself, must such award must be reasonable, just and equitable.
nonetheless be in accordance with the proper Thus, we reduce the amount of attorneys fees
norm. When the right is exercised arbitrarily, (P500,000.00) and litigation expenses (P50,000.00)
unjustly or excessively and results in damage to to P50,000.00 and P25,000.00, respectively.
another, a legal wrong is committed for which the
wrongdoer must be held responsible.6 It bears Lastly, petitioners argument that they could not be
reiterating that the trial court and the Court of held jointly and severally liable for damages
Appeals held that petitioners disapproval of because only one (1) voted for the disapproval of
respondents application is characterized by bad respondents application lacks merit.
faith.
Section 31 of the Corporation Code provides:
As to petitioners reliance on the principle
of damnum absque injuria or damage without SEC. 31. Liability of directors, trustees or
injury, suffice it to state that the same is misplaced. officers. Directors or trustees who willfully
In Amonoy v. Gutierrez,7 we held that this principle and knowingly vote for or assent to patently
does not apply when there is an abuse of a unlawful acts of the corporation or who are
persons right, as in this case. guilty of gross negligence or bad faith in
directing the affairs of the corporation or
As to the appellate courts award to respondent of acquire any personal or pecuniary interest
moral damages, we find the same in order. Under in conflict with their duty as such directors,
Article 2219 of the New Civil Code, moral damages or trustees shall be liable jointly and
may be recovered, among others, in acts and severally for all damages resulting
actions referred to in Article 21. We believe therefrom suffered by the corporation, its
respondents testimony that he suffered mental stockholders or members and other
anguish, social humiliation and wounded feelings persons. (Emphasis ours)
as a result of the arbitrary denial of his application.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. The
challenged Decision and Resolution of the Court of membership his mailing address at Phimco
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 71506
are AFFIRMED with modification in the sense that Industries, Inc. P.O. Box 240, MCC, complete
(a) the award of moral damages is reduced
from P2,000,000.00 to P50,000.00; (b) the award of residential address, office and residence telephone
exemplary damages is reduced
from P1,000,000.00 to P25,000.00; and (c) the numbers, as well as the company (Phimco) with
award of attorneys fees and litigation expenses is
reduced from P500,000.00 and P50,000.00 which he was connected, Calatagan issued to him
to P50,000.00 and P25,000.00, respectively.
Certificate of Stock No. A-01295 on 2 May
Costs against petitioners.
1990 after paying P120,000.00 for the share.[2]
SO ORDERED.

Calatagan charges monthly dues on its


CALATAGAN GOLF CLUB, INC. G.R. members to meet expenses for general operations,
No. 165443
Petitioner, as well as costs for upkeep and improvement of the

grounds and facilities. The provision on monthly

DECISION dues is incorporated in Calatagans Articles of

TINGA, J.: Incorporation and By-Laws. It is also reproduced at

Seeking the reversal of the the back of each certificate of stock.[3] As reproduced

Decision[1] dated 1 June 2004 of the Court of in the dorsal side of Certificate of Stock No. A-

Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 62331 and the 01295, the provision reads:

reinstatement of the Decision dated 15 November


5. The owners of shares of
2000 of the Securities and Exchange Commission stock shall be subject to the payment
of monthly dues in an amount as may
(SEC) in SEC Case No. 04-98-5954, petitioner be prescribed in the by-laws or by the
Board of Directors which shall in no
Calatagan Golf Club, Inc. (Calatagan) filed this Rule case be less that [sic] P50.00 to meet
the expenses for the general
45 petition against respondent Sixto Clemente, Jr. operations of the club, and the
maintenance and improvement of its
(Clemente). premises and facilities, in addition to
such fees as may be charged for the
actual use of the facilities x x x

The key facts are undisputed.

When Clemente became a member the

Clemente applied to purchase one share of monthly charge stood at P400.00. He

stock of Calatagan, indicating in his application for paid P3,000.00 for his monthly dues on 21 March
1991 and another P5,400.00 on 9 December 1991. Clemente settles his outstanding dues, his share

Then he ceased paying the dues. At that point, his would be included among the delinquent shares to

balance amounted to P400.00.[4] be sold at public auction on 15 January 1993. Again,

this letter was sent to Clementes mailing address

Ten (10) months later, Calatagan made the that had already been closed.[6]

initial step to collect Clementes back accounts by

sending a demand letter dated 21 September On 5 January 1993, a notice of auction sale

1992. It was followed by a second letter dated 22 was posted on the Clubs bulletin board, as well as

October 1992. Both letters were sent to Clementes on the clubs premises. The auction sale took place

mailing address as indicated in his membership as scheduled on 15 January 1993, and Clementes

application but were sent back to sender with the share sold for P64,000.[7]According to the Certificate

postal note that the address had been closed.[5] of Sale issued by Calatagan after the sale,

Clementes share was purchased by a Nestor A.

Calatagan declared Clemente delinquent for Virata.[8] At the time of the sale, Clementes accrued

having failed to pay his monthly dues for more than monthly dues amounted to P5,200.00.[9] A notice of

sixty (60) days, specifically P5,600.00 as of 31 foreclosure of Clementes share was published in the

October 1992. Calatagan also included Clementes 26 May 1993 issue of the Business World.[10]

name in the list of delinquent members posted on

the clubs bulletin board. On 1 December 1992, Clemente learned of the sale of his share

Calatagans board of directors adopted a resolution only in November of 1997.[11] He filed a claim with

authorizing the foreclosure of shares of delinquent the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

members, including Clementes; and the public seeking the restoration of his shareholding in

auction of these shares. Calatagan with damages.

On 15 November 2000, the SEC rendered a

On 7 December 1992, Calatagan sent a third decision dismissing Clementes complaint. Citing

and final letter to Clemente, this time signed by its Section 69 of the Corporation Code which provides

Corporate Secretary, Atty. Benjamin Tanedo, that the sale of shares at an auction sale can only be

Jr. The letter contains a warning that unless questioned within six (6) months from the date of
sale, the SEC concluded that Clementes claim, filed dues in non-stock corporations, the appellate court

four (4) years after the sale, had already prescribed. employed Article 1140 of the Civil Code as the

The SEC further held that Calatagan had complied proper rule of prescription. The provision sets the

with all the requirements for a valid sale of the prescription period of actions to recover movables at

subject share, Clemente having failed to inform eight (8) years.

Calatagan that the address he had earlier supplied

was no longer his address. Clemente, the SEC The Court of Appeals also pointed out that

ruled, had acted in bad faith in assuming as he since that Calatagans first two demand letters had

claimed that his non-payment of monthly dues would been returned to itas sender with the notation about

merely render his share inactive. the closure of the mailing address, it very well knew

that its third and final demand letter also sent to the

Clemente filed a petition for review with the same mailing address would not be received by

Court of Appeals. On 1 June 2004, the Court of Clemente. It noted the by-law requirement that

Appeals promulgated a decision reversing the SEC. within ten (10) days after the Board has ordered the

The appellate court restored Clementes one share sale at auction of a members share of stock for

with a directive to Calatagan to issue in his a new indebtedness, the Corporate Secretary shall notify

share, and awarded to Clemente a total the owner thereof and advise the Membership

of P400,000.00 in damages, less the unpaid monthly Committee of such fact. Finally, the Court of Appeals

dues of P5,200.00. ratiocinated that a person who is in danger of the

imminent loss of his property has the right to be

In rejecting the SECs finding that the action notified and be given the chance to prevent the

had prescribed, the Court of Appeals cited the SECs loss.[12]

own ruling in SEC Case No. 4160, Caram v. Valley

Golf Country Club, Inc., that Section 69 of the Hence, the present appeal.

Corporation Code specifically refers to unpaid

subscriptions to capital stock, and not to any other Calatagan maintains that the action of

debt of stockholders. With the insinuation that Clemente had prescribed pursuant to Section 69 of

Section 69 does not apply to unpaid membership the Corporation Code, and that the requisite notices
under both the law and the by-laws had been along with all other obligations of the shareholders

rendered to Clemente. to the club, shall constitute a first lien on the shares

and in the event of delinquency such shares may be

Section 69 of the Code provides that an ordered sold by the Board of Directors in the manner

action to recover delinquent stock sold must be provided in the By-Laws to satisfy said dues or other

commenced by the filing of a complaint within six (6) obligations of the shareholders.[13] With its illative but

months from the date of sale. As correctly pointed incomprehensible logic, Calatagan concludes that

out by the Court of Appeals, Section 69 is part of the prescriptive period under Section 69 should also

Title VIII of the Code entitled Stocks and apply to the sale of Clementes share as the lien that

Stockholders and refers specifically to unpaid Calatagan perceives to be a restriction is stated in

subscriptions to capital stock, the sale of which is the articles of incorporation and not only in the by-

governed by the immediately preceding Section 68. laws.

The Court of Appeals debunked both We remain unconvinced.

Calatagans and the SECs reliance on Section 69 by

citing another SEC ruling in the case of Caram v. There are fundamental differences that defy

Valley Golf. In connection with Section 69, equivalence or even analogy between the sale of

Calatagan raises a peripheral point made in the delinquent stock under Section 68 and the sale that

SECs Caram ruling. In Caram, the SEC, using as occurred in this case. At the root of the sale of

take-off Section 6 of the Corporation Code which delinquent stock is the non-payment of the

refers to such rights, privileges or restrictions as may subscription price for the share of stock itself. The

be stated in the articles of incorporation, pointed out stockholder or subscriber has yet to fully pay for the

that the Articles of Incorporation of Valley Golf does value of the share or shares subscribed. In this case,

not impose any lien, liability or restriction on the Golf Clemente had already fully paid for the share in

Share [of Caram], but only its (Valley Golfs) By-Laws Calatagan and no longer had any outstanding

does. Here, Calatagan stresses that its own Articles obligation to deprive him of full title to his share.

of Incorporation does provide that the monthly dues Perhaps the analogy could have been made if

assessed on owners of shares of the corporation, Clemente had not yet fully paid for his share and the
non-stock corporation, pursuant to an article or by- of no help to its cause. Calatagans Articles of

law provision designed to address that situation, Incorporation states that the dues, together with all

decided to sell such share as a consequence. But other obligations of members to the club, shall

that is not the case here, and there is no purpose for constitute a first lien on the shares, second only to

us to apply Section 69 to the case at bar. any lien in favor of the national or local government,

and in the event of delinquency such shares may be

Calatagan argues in the alternative that ordered sold by the Board of Directors in the manner

Clementes suit is barred by Article 1146 of the Civil provided in the By-Laws to satisfy said dues or other

Code which establishes four (4) years as the obligations of the stockholders.[14] In turn, there are

prescriptive period for actions based upon injury to several provisions in the By-laws that govern the

the rights of the plaintiff on the hypothesis that the payment of dues, the lapse into delinquency of the

suit is purely for damages. As a second alternative member, and the constitution and execution on the

still, Calatagan posits that Clementes action is lien. We quote these provisions:

governed by Article 1149 of the Civil Code which

sets five (5) years as the period of prescription for all ARTICLE XII MEMBERS ACCOUNT

other actions whose prescriptive periods are not


SEC. 31. (a) Billing Members,
fixed in the Civil Code or in any other law. Neither Posting of Delinquent Members The
Treasurer shall bill al members
article is applicable but Article 1140 of the Civil Code monthly. As soon as possible after the
end of every month, a statement
which provides that an action to recover movables showing the account of bill of a
member for said month will be
shall prescribe in eight (8) years. Calatagans action prepared and sent to him. If the bill of
any member remains unpaid by the
is for the recovery of a share of stock, plus damages. 20th of the month following that in
which the bill was incurred, the
Treasurer shall notify him that if his bill
is not paid in full by the end of the
succeeding month his name will be
posted as delinquent the following day
at the Clubhouse bulletin board. While
posted, a member, the immediate
Calatagans advertence to the fact that the members of his family, and his guests,
may not avail of the facilities of the
constitution of a lien on the members share by virtue Club.

of the explicit provisions in its Articles of (b) Members on the delinquent list
for more than 60 days shall be
Incorporation and By-Laws is relevant but ultimately reported to the Board and their shares
or the shares of the juridical entities
they represent shall thereafter be (e) If no bids be received or if the
ordered sold by the Board at auction winning bidder fails to pay the amount
to satisfy the claims of the Club as of this bid within twenty-four (24)
provided for in Section 32 hereon. A hours after the bidding, the auction
member may pay his overdue account procedures may be repeated from
at any time before the auction sale. time to time at the discretion of the
Membership Committee until the
share of stock be sold.
Sec. 32. Lien on Shares; Sale of
Share at Auction- The club shall have (f) If the proceeds from the sale
a first lien on every share of stock to of the share of stock are not sufficient
secure debts of the members to the to pay in full the indebtedness of the
Club. This lien shall be annotated on member, the member shall continue to
the certificates of stock and may be be obligated to the Club for the unpaid
enforced by the Club in the following balance. If the member whose share
manner: of stock is sold fails or refuse to
surrender the stock certificate for
(a) Within ten (10) days after the cancellation, cancellation shall be
Board has ordered the sale at auction effected in the books of the Club
of a members share of stock for based on a record of the
indebtedness under Section 31(b) proceedings. Such cancellation shall
hereof, the Secretary shall notify the render the unsurrendered stock
owner thereof, and shall advise the certificate null and void and notice to
Membership Committee of such fact. this effect shall be duly published.

(b) The Membership Committee


shall then notify all applicants on the
Waiting List and all registered
stockholders of the availability of a
share of stock for sale at auction at a It is plain that Calatagan had endeavored to
specified date, time and place, and
shall post a notice to that effect in the install a clear and comprehensive procedure to
Club bulletin board for at least ten (10)
days prior to the auction sale. govern the payment of monthly dues, the declaration

(c) On the date and hour fixed, of a member as delinquent, and the constitution of a
the Membership Committee shall
proceed with the auction by viva voce lien on the shares and its eventual public sale to
bidding and award the sale of the
share of stock to the highest bidder. answer for the members debts. Under Section 91 of

(d) The purchase price shall be the Corporation Code, membership in a non-stock
paid by the winning bidder to the Club
within twenty-four (24) hours after the corporation shall be terminated in the manner and
bidding.The winning bidder or the
representative in the case of a juridical for the causes provided in the articles of
entity shall become a
Regular Member upon payment of the incorporation or the by-laws. The By-law provisions
purchase price and issuance of a new
stock certificate in his name or in the are elaborate in explaining the manner and the
name of the juridical entity he
represents. The proceeds of the sale causes for the termination of membership in
shall be paid by the Club to the selling
stockholder after deducting his Calatagan, through the execution on the lien of the
obligations to the Club.
or cause to be given, all notices
share. The Court is satisfied that the By-Laws, as required by law or by these By-Laws.
.. and keep a record of the addresses
written, affords due protection to the member by of all stockholders. As quoted above,
Sec. 32 (a) of the By-Laws further
assuring that provides that within ten (10) days after
the Board has ordered the sale at
the member should be notified by the Secretary of t auction of a members share of stock
for indebtedness under Section 31 (b)
he looming execution sale that would terminate hereof, the Secretary shall notify the
owner thereof and shall advise the
membership in the club. In addition, the By-Laws Membership Committee of such
fact., The records do not disclose
guarantees that after the execution sale, the what report the Corporate Secretary
transmitted to the Membership
proceeds of the sale would be returned to the former Committee to comply with Section
32(a). Obviously, the reason for this
member after deducting the outstanding obligations. mandatory requirement is to give the
Membership Committee the
If followed to the letter, the termination of opportunity to find out, before the
share is sold, if proper notice has
membership under this procedure outlined in the By- been made to the shareholder
member.
Laws would accord with substantial justice.

Yet, did Calatagan actually comply with the

by-law provisions when it sold Clementes share?


We presume that the
The appellate courts finding on this point warrants Corporate Secretary, as a lawyer is
knowledgeable on the law and on the
our approving citation, thus: standards of good faith and fairness
that the law requires. As custodian of
corporate records, he should also
In accordance with this have known that the first two letters
provision, Calatagan sent the third sent to Clemente were returned
and final demand letter to Clemente because the P.O. Box had been
on December 7, 1992. The letter closed. Thus, we are surprised given
states that if the amount of his knowledge of the law and of
delinquency is not paid, the share will corporate records that he would send
be included among the delinquent the third and final letter Clementes last
shares to be sold at public chance before his share is sold and
auction. This letter was signed by Atty. his membership lost to the same P.O.
Benjamin Tanedo, Jr., Box that had been closed.
Calatagan Golfs Corporate
Secretary. It was again sent to Calatagan argues that it
Clementes mailing address Phimco exercised due diligence before the
Industries Inc., P.O. Box 240, foreclosure sale and sent several
MCC Makati. As expected, it was notices to Clementes specified
returned because the post office box mailing address. We do not agree; we
had been closed. cannot label as due diligence
Calatagans act of sending
Under the By-Laws, the the December 7, 1992letter to
Corporate Secretary is tasked to give Clementes mailing address knowing
fully well that the P.O. Box had
been closed. Due diligence or good
faith imposes upon the Corporate
Secretary the chief repository of all It is noteworthy that Clemente in his
corporate records the obligation to
check Clementes other address membership application had provided his residential
which, under the By-Laws, have to be
kept on file and are in fact on file. One address along with his residence and office
obvious purpose of giving the
Corporate Secretary the duty to keep telephone numbers. Nothing in Section 32 of
the addresses of members on file is
specifically for matters of this kind, Calatagans By-Laws requires that the final notice
when the member cannot be reached
through his or her mailing prior to the sale be made solely through the
address. Significantly, the Corporate
Secretary does not have to do the members mailing address. Clemente cites our
actual verification of other addressees
on record; a mere clerk can do the aphorism-like pronouncement in Rizal Commercial
very simple task of checking the files
as in fact clerks actually undertake Banking Corporation v. Court of Appeals[15] that [a]
these tasks. In fact, one telephone call
to Clementes phone numbers on file simple telephone call and an ounce of good faith x x
would have alerted him of his
impending loss. x could have prevented this present controversy.

That memorable observation is quite apt in this case.

Ultimately, the petition must fail because

Calatagan had failed to duly observe both the spirit Calatagans bad faith and failure to observe

and letter of its own by-laws. The by-law provisions its own By-Laws had resulted not merely in the loss

was clearly conceived to afford due notice to the of Clementes privilege to play golf at its golf course

delinquent member of the impending sale, and not and avail of its amenities, but also in significant

just to provide an intricate faade that would facilitate pecuniary damage to him. For that loss, the only

Calatagans sale of the share. But then, the bad faith blame that could be thrown Clementes way was his

on Calatagans part is palpable. As found by the failure to notify Calatagan of the closure of the P.O.

Court of Appeals, Calatagan very well knew that Box. That lapse, if we uphold Calatagan would cost

Clementes postal box to which it sent its previous Clemente a lot. But, in the first place, does he

letters had already been closed, yet it persisted in deserve answerability for failing to notify the club of

sending that final letter to the same postal box. What the closure of the postal box? Indeed, knowing as he

for? Just for the exercise, it appears, as it had known did that Calatagan was in possession of his home

very well that the letter would never actually reach address as well as residence and office telephone

Clemente. numbers, he had every reason to assume that the


club would not be at a loss should it need to contact in its place in the name of the purchases at the

him. In addition, according to Clemente, he was not auction who was not impleaded in this case.

even aware of the closure of the postal box, the However, the Court of Appeals instead directed that

maintenance of which was not his responsibility but Calatagan to issue to Clemente a new certificate of

his employer Phimcos. stock. That sufficiently redresses the actual

damages sustained by Clemente. After all, the

The utter bad faith exhibited by Calatagan certificate of stock is simply the evidence of the

brings into operation Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the share.

Civil Code,[16]under the Chapter on Human

Relations. These provisions, which the Court of The Court of Appeals also awarded

Appeals did apply, enunciate a general obligation Clemente P200,000.00 as moral

under law for every person to act fairly and in good damages, P100,000.00 as exemplary damages,

faith towards one another. A non-stock corporation and P100,000.00 as attorneys fees. We agree that

like Calatagan is not exempt from that obligation in the award of such damages is warranted.

its treatment of its members. The obligation of a

corporation to treat every person honestly and in The Court of Appeals cited Calatagan for

good faith extends even to its shareholders or violation of Article 32 of the Civil Code, which allows

members, even if the latter find themselves recovery of damages from any private individual who

contractually bound to perform certain obligations to directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates or in

the corporation. A certificate of stock cannot be a any manner impedes or impairs the right against

charter of dehumanization. deprivation of property without due process of laws.

We turn to the matter of damages. The The plain letter of the provision squarely entitles

award of actual damages is of course warranted Clemente to damages from Calatagan. Even without

since Clemente has sustained pecuniary injury by Article 32 itself, Calatagan will still be bound to pay

reason of Calatagans wrongful violation of its own moral and exemplary damages to Clemente. The

By-Laws. It would not be feasible to deliver latter was able to duly prove that he had sustained

Clementes original Certificate of Stock because it mental anguish, serious anxiety and wounded

had already been cancelled and a new one issued feelings by reason of Calatagans acts, thereby
entitling him to moral damages under Article 2217 of

the Civil Code. Moreover, it is evident that

Calatagans bad faith as exhibited in the

course of its corporate actions warrants correction

for the public good, thereby justifying exemplary

damages under Article 2229 of the Civil Code.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The

Decision of the Court of Appeals

is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

JOYCE V. ARDIENTE, Petitioner, v. SPOUSES


JAVIER AND MA. THERESA PASTORFIDE,
CAGAYAN DE ORO WATER DISTRICT AND that she was delinquent for three (3) months
GASPAR GONZALEZ,* JR., Respondents. corresponding to the months of December 1998,
January 1999, and February 1999. Ma. Theresa
DECISION argued that the due date of her payment was
March 18, 1999 yet (T.S.N., October 31, 2000,
PERALTA, J.: pp. 11-12). Mrs. Madjos later told her that it was
at the instance of Joyce Ardiente that the water
line was cut off (T.S.N., February 5, 2001, p. 31).

On March 15, 1999, Ma. Theresa paid the


Before the Court is a petition for review
delinquent bills (T.S.N., October 31, 2000, p.
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
12). On the same date, through her lawyer, Ma.
seeking to reverse and set aside the
Theresa wrote a letter to the COWD to explain
Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals
who authorized the cutting of the water line
(CA), dated August 28, 2003 and December 17,
(Records, p. 160).
2003, respectively, in CA-G.R. CV No. 73000. The
CA Decision affirmed with modification the
On March 18, 1999, COWD, through the general
August 15, 2001 Decision3 of the Regional Trial
manager, [respondent] Gaspar Gonzalez, Jr.,
Court (RTC) of Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 24,
answered the letter dated March 15, 1999 and
while the CA Resolution denied petitioner's
reiterated that it was at the instance of Joyce
Motion for Reconsideration.
Ardiente that the water line was cut off (Records,
p. 161).
The facts, as summarized by the CA, are as
follows:
Aggrieved, on April 14, 1999, Ma. Theresa
cralavvonl inelawl ibra ry

Pastorfide [and her husband] filed [a] complaint


[Herein petitioner] Joyce V. Ardiente and her
for damages [against petitioner, COWD and its
husband Dr. Roberto S. Ardiente are owners of a
manager Gaspar Gonzalez] (Records, pp. 2-6).
housing unit at Emily Homes, Balulang, Cagayan
de Oro City with a lot area of one hundred fifty-
In the meantime, Ma. Theresa Pastorfide's water
three (153) square meters and covered by
line was only restored and reconnected when the
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 69905.
[trial] court issued a writ of preliminary
mandatory injunction on December 14, 1999
On June 2, 1994, Joyce Ardiente entered into a
(Records, p. 237).4
Memorandum of Agreement (Exh. B, pp. 470-
473, Records) selling, transferring and conveying
After trial, the RTC rendered judgment holding as
in favor of [respondent] Ma. Theresa Pastorfide
follows:
all their rights and interests in the housing unit at
cralavvonl inelawl ibra ry

Emily Homes in consideration of P70,000.00. The


xxxx
Memorandum of Agreement carries a
stipulation:
In the exercise of their rights and performance of
cralavvonlinelawli bra ry

their duties, defendants did not act with justice,


4. That the water and power bill of the subject
gave plaintiffs their due and observe honesty and
property shall be for the account of the Second
good faith. Before disconnecting the water
Party (Ma. Theresa Pastorfide) effective June 1,
supply, defendants COWD and Engr. Gaspar
1994. (Records, p. 47)
Gonzales did not even send a disconnection
notice to plaintiffs as testified to by Engr.
vis-a-vis Ma. Theresa Pastorfide's assumption of
Bienvenido Batar, in-charge of the Commercial
the payment of the mortgage loan secured by
Department of defendant COWD. There was one
Joyce Ardiente from the National Home Mortgage
though, but only three (3) days after the actual
(Records, Exh. A, pp. 468-469)
disconnection on March 12, 1999. The due date
for payment was yet on March 15. Clearly, they
For four (4) years, Ma. Theresa's use of the water
did not act with justice. Neither did they observe
connection in the name of Joyce Ardiente was
honesty.
never questioned nor perturbed (T.S.N., October
31, 2000, pp. 7-8) until on March 12, 1999,
They should not have been swayed by the
without notice, the water connection of Ma.
prodding of Joyce V. Ardiente. They should have
Theresa was cut off. Proceeding to the office of
investigated first as to the present ownership of
the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) to
the house. For doing the act because Ardiente
complain, a certain Mrs. Madjos told Ma. Theresa
told them, they were negligent. Defendant Joyce
Ardiente should have requested before the respective Motions for Reconsideration, but these
cutting off of the water supply, plaintiffs to pay. were denied by the CA in its Resolution dated
While she attempted to tell plaintiffs but she did December 17, 2003.
not have the patience of seeing them. She knew
that it was plaintiffs who had been using the COWD and Gonzalez filed a petition for review
water four (4) years ago and not hers. She on certiorari with this Court, which was docketed
should have been very careful. x x x5 as G.R. No. 161802. However, based on technical
grounds and on the finding that the CA did not
The dispositive portion of the trial court's commit any reversible error in its assailed
Decision reads, thus: c ralavvon linelawl ib rary Decision, the petition was denied via a
Resolution10 issued by this Court on March 24,
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is 2004. COWD and Gonzalez filed a motion for
hereby rendered ordering defendants [Ardiente, reconsideration, but the same was denied with
COWD and Gonzalez] to pay jointly and severally finality through this Court's Resolution11 dated
plaintiffs, the following sums: cra lavvonli nelawli bra ry June 28, 2004.

(a) P200,000.00 for moral damages; cha nrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary Petitioner, on the other hand, timely filed the
(b) 200,000.00 for exemplary damages; and instant petition with the following Assignment of
(c) 50,000.00 for attorney's fee. Errors:cralavvo nline lawlib rary

The cross-claim of Cagayan de Oro Water District


and Engr. Gaspar Gonzales is hereby dismissed. 7.1 HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (ALTHOUGH
The Court is not swayed that the cutting off of IT HAS REDUCED THE LIABILITY INTO HALF)
the water supply of plaintiffs was because they HAS STILL COMMITTED GRAVE AND SERIOUS
were influenced by defendant Joyce Ardiente. ERROR WHEN IT UPHELD THE JOINT AND
They were negligent too for which they should be SOLIDARY LIABILITY OF PETITIONER JOYCE V.
liable. ARDIENTE WITH CAGAYAN DE ORO WATER
DISTRICT (COWD) AND ENGR. GASPAR D.
SO ORDERED.6 GONZALES FOR THE LATTER'S FAILURE TO
SERVE NOTICE UPON RESPONDENTS SPOUSES
Petitioner, COWD and Gonzalez filed an appeal PASTORFIDE PRIOR TO THE ACTUAL
with the CA. DISCONNECTION DESPITE EVIDENCE ADDUCED
DURING TRIAL THAT EVEN WITHOUT
On August 28, 2003, the CA promulgated its PETITIONER'S REQUEST, COWD WAS ALREADY
assailed Decision disposing as follows: cralavvo nli nelawlib rary SET TO EFFECT DISCONNECTION OF
RESPONDENTS' WATER SUPPLY DUE TO NON-
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appealed PAYMENT OF ACCOUNT FOR THREE (3) MONTHS.
decision is AFFIRMED, with
the modification that the awarded damages is 7.2 THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
reduced to P100,000.00 each for moral and COMMITTED GRAVE AND SERIOUS ERROR WHEN
exemplary damages, while attorney's fees is IT RULED TOTALLY AGAINST PETITIONER AND
lowered to P25,000.00. Costs against appellants. FAILED TO FIND THAT RESPONDENTS ARE
GUILTY OF CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE WHEN
SO ORDERED.7 THEY FAILED TO PAY THEIR WATER BILLS FOR
THREE MONTHS AND TO MOVE FOR THE
The CA ruled, with respect to petitioner, that she TRANSFER OF THE COWD ACCOUNT IN THEIR
has a legal duty to honor the possession and use NAME, WHICH WAS A VIOLATION OF THEIR
of water line by Ma. Theresa Pastorfide pursuant MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT WITH
to their Memorandum of Agreement and that PETITIONER JOYCE V. ARDIENTE. RESPONDENTS
when [petitioner] applied for its disconnection, LIKEWISE DELIBERATELY FAILED TO EXERCISE
she acted in bad faith causing prejudice and DILIGENCE OF A GOOD FATHER OF THE FAMILY
[injury to] Ma. Theresa Pastorfide.8 TO MINIMIZE THE DAMAGE UNDER ART. 2203 OF
THE NEW CIVIL CODE.
As to COWD and Gonzalez, the CA held that they
failed to give a notice of disconnection and 7.3 THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
derelicted in reconnecting the water line despite SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT DISREGARDED THE
payment of the unpaid bills by the [respondent FACT THAT RESPONDENT SPOUSES PASTORFIDE
spouses Pastorfide].9 ARE LIKEWISE BOUND TO OBSERVE ARTICLE 19
OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE, i.e., IN THE EXERCISE
Petitioner, COWD and Gonzalez filed their OF THEIR RIGHTS AND IN THE PERFORMANCE
OF THEIR DUTIES TO ACT WITH JUSTICE, GIVE Petitioner insists that she should not be held
EVERYONE HIS DUE AND OBSERVE HONESTY liable for the disconnection of respondent
AND GOOD FAITH. spouses' water supply, because she had no
participation in the actual disconnection.
7.4 THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS However, she admitted in the present petition
GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT GRANTED AN AWARD that it was she who requested COWD to
OF MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND disconnect the Spouses Pastorfide's water supply.
ATTORNEY'S FEES AS AGAINST PETITIONER This was confirmed by COWD and Gonzalez in
ARDIENTE.12 their cross-claim against petitioner. While it was
COWD which actually discontinued respondent
At the outset, the Court noticed that COWD and spouses' water supply, it cannot be denied that it
Gonzalez, who were petitioner's co-defendants was through the instance of petitioner that the
before the RTC and her co-appellants in the CA, Spouses Pastorfide's water supply was
were impleaded as respondents in the instant disconnected in the first place.
petition. This cannot be done. Being her co-
parties before the RTC and the CA, petitioner It is true that it is within petitioner's right to ask
cannot, in the instant petition for review and even require the Spouses Pastorfide to cause
on certiorari, make COWD and Gonzalez, the transfer of the former's account with COWD
adversary parties. It is a grave mistake on the to the latter's name pursuant to their
part of petitioner's counsel to treat COWD and Memorandum of Agreement. However, the
Gonzalez as respondents. There is no basis to do remedy to enforce such right is not to cause the
so, considering that, in the first place, there is no disconnection of the respondent spouses' water
showing that petitioner filed a cross-claim against supply. The exercise of a right must be in
COWD and Gonzalez. Under Section 2, Rule 9 of accordance with the purpose for which it was
the Rules of Court, a cross-claim which is not set established and must not be excessive or unduly
up shall be barred. Thus, for failing to set up a harsh; there must be no intention to harm
cross-claim against COWD and Gonzalez before another.15 Otherwise, liability for damages to the
the RTC, petitioner is already barred from doing injured party will attach.16 In the present case,
so in the present petition. intention to harm was evident on the part of
petitioner when she requested for the
More importantly, as shown above, COWD and disconnection of respondent spouses water
Gonzalez's petition for review on certiorari filed supply without warning or informing the latter of
with this Court was already denied with finality such request. Petitioner claims that her request
on June 28, 2004, making the presently assailed for disconnection was based on the advise of
CA Decision final and executory insofar as COWD COWD personnel and that her intention was just
and Gonzalez are concerned. Thus, COWD and to compel the Spouses Pastorfide to comply with
Gonzalez are already precluded from participating their agreement that petitioner's account with
in the present petition. They cannot resurrect COWD be transferred in respondent spouses'
their lost cause by filing pleadings this time as name. If such was petitioner's only intention,
respondents but, nonetheless, reiterating the then she should have advised respondent
same prayer in their previous pleadings filed with spouses before or immediately after submitting
the RTC and the CA. her request for disconnection, telling them that
her request was simply to force them to comply
As to the merits of the instant petition, the Court with their obligation under their Memorandum of
likewise noticed that the main issues raised by Agreement. But she did not. What made matters
petitioner are factual and it is settled that the worse is the fact that COWD undertook the
resolution of factual issues is the function of disconnection also without prior notice and even
lower courts, whose findings on these matters failed to reconnect the Spouses Pastorfides water
are received with respect and considered binding supply despite payment of their arrears. There
by the Supreme Court subject only to certain was clearly an abuse of right on the part of
exceptions, none of which is present in this petitioner, COWD and Gonzalez. They are guilty
instant petition.13This is especially true when the of bad faith.
findings of the RTC have been affirmed by the CA
as in this case.14 The principle of abuse of rights as enshrined in
Article 19 of the Civil Code provides that every
In any case, a perusal of the records at hand person must, in the exercise of his rights and in
would readily show that the instant petition lacks the performance of his duties, act with justice,
merit. give everyone his due, and observe honesty and
good faith.
a right is exercised in a manner which does
In this regard, the Court's ruling in Yuchengco v. not conform with the norms enshrined in
The Manila Chronicle Publishing Corporation17 is Article 19 and results in damage to another,
instructive, to wit:
cralavvonli nelawlib ra ry a legal wrong is thereby committed for
which the wrongdoer must be held
xxxx responsible. But while Article 19 lays down a
rule of conduct for the government of human
This provision of law sets standards which must relations and for the maintenance of social order,
be observed in the exercise of ones rights as well it does not provide a remedy for its violation.
as in the performance of its duties, to wit: to act Generally, an action for damages under either
with justice; give everyone his due; and observe Article 20 or Article 21 would be proper.
honesty and good faith. Corollarilly, Article 20 provides that every person
who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently
In Globe Mackay Cable and Radio Corporation v. causes damage to another shall indemnify the
Court of Appeals, it was elucidated that while latter for the same. It speaks of the general
Article 19 lays down a rule of conduct for the sanctions of all other provisions of law which do
government of human relations and for the not especially provide for its own sanction. When
maintenance of social order, it does not provide a a right is exercised in a manner which does not
remedy for its violation. Generally, an action for conform to the standards set forth in the said
damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 provision and results in damage to another, a
would be proper. The Court said: cralavvo nline lawlib rary legal wrong is thereby committed for which the
wrongdoer must be responsible. Thus, if the
One of the more notable innovations of the New provision does not provide a remedy for its
Civil Code is the codification of "some basic violation, an action for damages under either
principles that are to be observed for the rightful Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil Code would be
relationship between human beings and for the proper.
stability of the social order." [REPORT ON THE
CODE COMMISSION ON THE PROPOSED CIVIL The question of whether or not the principle of
CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES, p. 39]. The framers abuse of rights has been violated resulting in
of the Code, seeking to remedy the defect of the damages under Article 20 or other applicable
old Code which merely stated the effects of the provision of law, depends on the circumstances
law, but failed to draw out its spirit, incorporated of each case. x x x18
certain fundamental precepts which were
"designed to indicate certain norms that spring To recapitulate, petitioner's acts which violated
from the fountain of good conscience" and which the abovementioned provisions of law is her
were also meant to serve as "guides for human unjustifiable act of having the respondent
conduct [that] should run as golden threads spouses' water supply disconnected, coupled with
through society, to the end that law may her failure to warn or at least notify respondent
approach its supreme ideal, which is the sway spouses of such intention. On the part of COWD
and dominance of justice." (Id.) Foremost among and Gonzalez, it is their failure to give prior
these principles is that pronounced in Article notice of the impending disconnection and their
19 x x x. subsequent neglect to reconnect respondent
spouses' water supply despite the latter's
xxxx settlement of their delinquent account.

This article, known to contain what is commonly On the basis of the foregoing, the Court finds no
referred to as the principle of abuse of rights, cogent reason to depart from the ruling of both
sets certain standards which must be observed the RTC and the CA that petitioner, COWD and
not only in the exercise of one's rights, but also Gonzalez are solidarily liable.
in the performance of one's duties. These
standards are the following: to act with justice; The Spouses Pastorfide are entitled to moral
to give everyone his due; and to observe honesty damages based on the provisions of Article
and good faith. The law, therefore, recognizes a 2219,19 in connection with Articles 2020 and
primordial limitation on all rights; that in their 2121 of the Civil Code.
exercise, the norms of human conduct set forth
in Article 19 must be observed. A right, though As for exemplary damages, Article 2229 provides
by itself legal because recognized or that exemplary damages may be imposed by way
granted by law as such, may nevertheless of example or correction for the public good.
become the source of some illegality. When Nonetheless, exemplary damages are imposed
not to enrich one party or impoverish another,
but to serve as a deterrent against or as a
negative incentive to curb socially deleterious
actions.22 In the instant case, the Court agrees
with the CA in sustaining the award of exemplary
damages, although it reduced the amount
granted, considering that respondent spouses
were deprived of their water supply for more
than nine (9) months, and such deprivation
would have continued were it not for the relief
granted by the RTC.

With respect to the award of attorney's fees,


Article 2208 of the Civil Code provides, among
others, that such fees may be recovered when
exemplary damages are awarded, when the
defendant's act or omission has compelled the
plaintiff to litigate with third persons or to incur
expenses to protect his interest, and where the
defendant acted in gross and evident bad faith in
refusing to satisfy the plaintiffs plainly valid, just
and demandable claim.

WHEREFORE, instant petition for review


on certiorari is DENIED. The Decision and
Resolution of the Court of Appeals, dated August
28, 2003 and December 17, 2003, respectively,
in CA-G.R. CV No. 73000 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
FLORENCIO A. Respondent failed to exercise his right of
SALADAGA, Complainant, repurchase within the period provided in the deed,
and no renewal of the contract was made even
vs. after complainant sent respondent a final demand
ATTY. ARTURO B. dated May 10, 1984 for the latter to repurchase the
ASTORGA, Respondent. property. Complainant remained in peaceful
possession of the property until December 1989
x-----------------------x when he received letters from the Rural Bank of
Albuera (Leyte), Inc. (RBAI) informing him that the
property was mortgaged by respondent to RBAI,
A.C. No. 4728
that the bank had subsequently foreclosed on the
property, and that complainant should therefore
FLORENCIO A. vacate the property.5
SALADAGA, Complainant,
vs. Complainant was alarmed and made
ATTY. ARTURO B. aninvestigation. He learned the following:
ASTORGA, Respondent.
(1) TCT No. T-662 was already cancelled by
DECISION TCT No. T-3211 in the name of Philippine
National Bank (PNB) as early as November
17, 1972 after foreclosure proceedings;
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
(2) TCT No. T-3211 was cancelled by TCT
Membership in the legal profession is a high
No. T-7235 in the names of respondent and
personal privilege burdened with
his wife on January 4, 1982 pursuant to a
conditions,1 including continuing fidelity to the law
deed of sale dated March 27,1979 between
and constant possession of moral fitness. Lawyers,
PNB and respondent;
as guardians of the law, play a vital role in the
preservation of society, and a consequent
obligation of lawyers is to maintain the highest (3) Respondent mortgaged the subject
standards of ethical conduct.2 Failure to live by the property to RBAI on March 14, 1984, RBAI
standards of the legal profession and to discharge foreclosed on the property, and
the burden of the privilege conferred on one as a subsequently obtained TCT No. TP-10635
member of the bar warrant the suspension or on March 27, 1991.6 Complainant was
revocation of that privilege. subsequently dispossessed of the property
by RBAI.7
The Factual Antecedents
Aggrieved, complainant instituted a criminal
complaint for estafa against respondent with the
Complainant Florencio A. Saladaga and
Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Leyte,
respondent Atty. Arturo B. Astorga entered into a
docketed as I.S. No. 95-144. The Provincial
"Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" on
Prosecutor of Leyte approved the
December 2, 1981 where respondent sold (with
Resolution8 dated April 21, 1995 in I.S. No. 95-144
rightof repurchase) to complainant a parcel of
finding that "[t]he facts of [the] case are sufficient to
coconut land located at Barangay Bunga, Baybay,
engender a well-founded belief that Estafa x x x
Leyte covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT)
has been committed and that respondent herein is
No. T-662 for P15,000.00. Under the said deed,
probably guilty thereof."9Accordingly, an
respondent represented that he has "the perfect
Information10 dated January 8,1996 was filed
right to dispose as owner in fee simple" the subject
before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Baybay,
property and that the said property is "free from all
Leyte, formally charging respondent with the crime
liens and encumbrances."3The deed also provided
of estafa under Article 316, paragraphs 1 and 2 of
that respondent, as vendor a retro, had two years
the Revised Penal Code,11 committed as follows:
within which to repurchase the property, and if not
repurchased within the said period, "the parties
shall renew [the] instrument/agreement."4 On March 14, 1984, accused representing himself
as the owner of a parcel of land known as Lot No.
7661 of the Baybay Cadastre, mortgaged the same
to the Rural Bank of Albuera, Albuera, Leyte, within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, knowing giving complainant the owners copy of the said
fully well that the possessor and owner at that time certificate of title, when the said TCT had already
was private complainant Florencio Saladaga by been cancelled on November 17, 1972 by TCT No.
virtue of a Pacto de Retro Sale which accused T-3211 in the name of Philippine National Bank
executed in favor of private complainant on 2nd (PNB). Respondent made matters even worse,
December, 1981, without first when he had TCT No. T-3211 cancelled with the
redeeming/repurchasing the same. [P]rivate issuance of TCT No. T-7235 under his and his
complainant knowing of accused[s] unlawful act wifes name on January 4,1982 without informing
only on or about the last week of February, 1991 complainant. This was compounded by
when the rural bank dispossessed him of the respondents subsequent mortgage of the property
property, the mortgage having been foreclosed, to RBAI, which led to the acquisition of the property
private complainant thereby suffered damages and by RBAI and the dispossession thereof of
was prejudiced by accused[s] unlawful transaction complainant. Thus, the Investigating Commissioner
and misrepresentation. recommended that respondent be (1) suspended
from the practice of law for one year, with warning
The aforementioned estafa case against that a similar misdeed in the future shall be dealt
respondent was docketed as Criminal Case No. with more severity, and (2) ordered to return the
3112-A. sum of P15,000.00, the amount he received as
consideration for the pacto de retrosale, with
Complainant likewise instituted the instant interest at the legal rate.
administrative cases against respondent by filing
before this Court an Affidavit-Complaint12 dated Considering respondents "commission of unlawful
January 28, 1997 and Supplemental acts, especially crimes involving moral turpitude,
Complaint13 dated February 27, 1997, which were actsof dishonesty, grossly immoral conduct and
docketed as A.C. No. 4697 and A.C. No. 4728, deceit," the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
respectively. In both complaints, complainant approved the Investigating Commissioners Report
sought the disbarment of respondent. and Recommendation with modification as follows:
respondent is(1) suspended from the practice of
The administrative cases were referred to the law for two years, with warning that a similar
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for misdeed in the future shall be dealt with more
investigation, report and recommendation.14 severity, and (2) ordered to return the sum
of P15,000.00 received in consideration of the
In his Consolidated Answer15 dated August 16, pacto de retrosale, with legal interest.17
2003 filed before the IBP, respondent denied that
his agreement with complainant was a pacto de The Courts Ruling
retrosale. He claimed that it was an equitable
mortgage and that, if only complainant rendered an The Court agrees with the recommendation of the
accounting of his benefits from the produce of the IBP Board of Governors to suspend respondent
land, the total amount would have from the practice of law for two years, but it refrains
exceeded P15,000.00. from ordering respondent to return the P15,000.00
consideration, plus interest.
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner and Resolution of the IBP Board of Respondent does not deny executing the "Deed of
Governors Sale with Right to Repurchase" dated December 2,
1981 in favor of complainant. However, respondent
In a Report and Recommendation16 dated April 29, insists that the deed is not one of sale with pacto de
2005, the Investigating Commissioner of the IBPs retro, but one of equitable mortgage. Thus,
Commission on Bar Discipline found that respondent argues that he still had the legal right to
respondent was in bad faith when he dealt with mortgage the subject property to other persons.
complainant and executed the "Deed of Sale with Respondent additionally asserts that complainant
Right to Repurchase" but later on claimed that the should render an accounting of the produce the
agreement was one of equitable mortgage. latter had collected from the said property, which
Respondent was also guilty of deceit or fraud when would already exceed the P15,000.00
he represented in the "Deed of Sale with Right to consideration stated in the deed.
Repurchase" dated December 2, 1981 that the
property was covered by TCT No. T-662, even There is no merit in respondents defense.
Regardless of whether the written contract between contracting parties will be uncertain, which opens
respondent and complainant is actually one of sale the door to legal disputes between the said parties.
with pacto de retroor of equitable mortgage, Indeed, the uncertainty caused by respondents
respondents actuations in his transaction with poor formulation of the "Deed of Sale with Right to
complainant, as well as in the present Repurchase" was a significant factor in the legal
administrative cases, clearly show a disregard for controversy between respondent and complainant.
the highest standards of legal proficiency, morality, Such poor formulation reflects at the very least
honesty, integrity, and fair dealing required from negatively on the legal competence of respondent.
lawyers, for which respondent should be held
administratively liable. Under Section 63 of the Land Registration
Act,19 the law in effect at the time the PNB acquired
When respondent was admitted to the legal the subject property and obtained TCT No. T-3211
profession, he took an oath where he undertook to in its name in 1972, where a decree in favor of a
"obey the laws," "do no falsehood," and "conduct purchaser who acquires mortgaged property in
[him]self as a lawyer according to the best of [his] foreclosure proceedings becomes final, such
knowledge and discretion."18He gravely violated his purchaser becomes entitled to the issuance of a
oath. new certificate of title in his name and a
memorandum thereof shall be "indorsed upon the
The Investigating Commissioner correctly found, mortgagors original certificate."20 TCT No. T-662,
and the IBP Board of Governors rightly agreed, that which respondent gave complainant when they
respondent caused the ambiguity or vagueness in entered into the "Deed of Sale with Right to
the "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" as he Repurchase" dated December 2, 1981, does not
was the one who prepared or drafted the said bearsuch memorandum but only a memorandum
instrument. Respondent could have simply on the mortgage of the property to PNB in 1963
denominated the instrument as a deed of mortgage and the subsequent amendment of the mortgage.
and referred to himself and complainant as
"mortgagor" and "mortgagee," respectively, rather Respondent dealt with complainant with bad faith,
than as "vendor a retro" and "vendee a retro." If falsehood, and deceit when he entered into the
only respondent had been more circumspect and "Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" dated
careful in the drafting and preparation of the deed, December 2, 1981 with the latter. He made it
then the controversy between him and complainant appear that the property was covered by TCT No.
could havebeen avoided or, at the very least, easily T-662 under his name, even giving complainant the
resolved. His imprecise and misleading wording of owners copy of the said certificate oftitle, when the
the said deed on its face betrayed lack oflegal truth is that the said TCT had already been
competence on his part. He thereby fell short of his cancelled some nine years earlier by TCT No. T-
oath to "conduct [him]self as a lawyer according to 3211 in the name of PNB. He did not evencare to
the best of [his] knowledge and discretion." correct the wrong statement in the deed when he
was subsequently issued a new copy of TCT No. T-
More significantly, respondent transgressed the 7235 on January 4, 1982,21 or barely a month after
laws and the fundamental tenet of human relations the execution of the said deed. All told, respondent
asembodied in Article 19 of the Civil Code: clearly committed an act of gross dishonesty and
deceit against complainant.
Art. 19. Every person must, in the exercise of his
rights and in the performance of his duties, act with Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the Codeof Professional
justice, give everyone his due, and observe Responsibility provide:
honesty and good faith.
CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the constitution,
Respondent, as owner of the property, had the right obey the laws of the land and promote respect for
to mortgage it to complainant but, as a lawyer, he law and legal processes.
should have seen to it that his agreement with
complainant is embodied in an instrument that Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
clearly expresses the intent of the contracting dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Under
parties. A lawyer who drafts a contract must see to Canon 1, a lawyer is not only mandated to
it that the agreement faithfully and clearly reflects personally obey the laws and the legal processes,
the intention of the contracting parties. Otherwise, he is moreover expected to inspire respect and
the respective rights and obligations of the obedience thereto. On the other hand, Rule 1.01
states the norm of conduct that is expected of all dated February 4,1998 to (1) show cause why he
lawyers.22 should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in
contempt for such failure, and (2) submit the
Any act or omission that is contrary to, prohibited or consolidated comment.26Respondent neither
unauthorized by, in defiance of, disobedient to, or showed cause why he should not be disciplinarily
disregards the law is "unlawful." "Unlawful" conduct dealt with or held in contempt for such failure, nor
does not necessarily imply the element of submitted the consolidated comment.
criminality although the concept is broad enough to
include such element.23 When these cases were referred to the IBP and
during the proceedings before the IBPs
To be "dishonest" means the disposition to lie, Investigating Commissioner, respondent was again
cheat, deceive, defraud or betray; be untrustworthy; required several times to submit his consolidated
lacking inintegrity, honesty, probity, integrity in answer. He only complied on August 28, 2003, or
principle, fairness and straightforwardness. On the more than six years after this Court originally
other hand, conduct that is "deceitful" means as required him to do so. The Investigating
follows: Commissioner also directed the parties to submit
their respective position papers. Despite having
[Having] the proclivity for fraudulent and deceptive been given several opportunities to submit the
misrepresentation, artifice or device that is used same, respondent did not file any position paper.27
upon another who is ignorant of the true facts, to
the prejudice and damage of the party imposed Respondents disregard of the directives of this
upon. In order to be deceitful, the person must Court and of the Investigating Commissioner, which
either have knowledge of the falsity or acted in caused undue delay in these administrative cases,
reckless and conscious ignorance thereof, contravenes the following provisions of the Code of
especially if the parties are not on equal terms, and Professional Responsibility:
was done with the intent that the aggrieved party
act thereon, and the latter indeed acted in reliance CANON 11 A lawyer shall observe and maintain
of the false statement or deed in the manner the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers
contemplated to his injury.24The actions of and should insist on similar conduct by others.
respondent in connection with the execution of the
"Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase" clearly fall xxxx
within the concept of unlawful, dishonest, and
deceitful conduct. They violate Article 19 of the Civil CANON 12 A lawyer shall exert every effort and
Code. They show a disregard for Section 63 of the consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and
Land Registration Act. They also reflect bad faith, efficient administration of justice.
dishonesty, and deceit on respondents part. Thus,
respondent deserves to be sanctioned. xxxx

Respondents breach of his oath, violation of the Rule 12.03 A lawyer shall not, after obtaining
laws, lack of good faith, and dishonesty are extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or
compounded by his gross disregard of this Courts briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the
directives, as well as the orders of the IBPs same or offering an explanation for his failure to do
Investigating Commissioner (who was acting as an so.
agent of this Court pursuant to the Courts referral
of these cases to the IBP for investigation, report Rule 12.04 A lawyer shall not unduly delay a
and recommendation), which caused delay in the case, impede the execution of a judgment or
resolution of these administrative cases. misuse court processes.
In particular, the Court required respondent to Respondents infractions are aggravated by the fact
comment on complainants Affidavit-Complaint in that he has already been imposed a disciplinary
A.C. No. 4697 and Supplemental Complaint in A.C. sanction before.1wphi1 In Nuez v. Atty.
No. 4728 on March 12, 1997 and June 25, 1997, Astorga,28 respondent was held liable for conduct
respectively.25 While he requested for several unbecoming an attorney for which he was
extensions of time within which to submit his fined P2,000.00.
comment, no such comment was submitted
prompting the Court to require him in a Resolution
Given the foregoing, the suspension of respondent the damage caused him; and/or indemnification for
from the practice of law for two years, as consequential damages,35 which may already cover
recommended by the IBP Board of Governors, is the P15,000.00 consideration complainant had paid
proper. for the subject property.

The Court, however, will not adopt the WHEREFORE, respondent is hereby found
recommendation of the IBP to order respondent to GUILTY of the following: breach of the Lawyers
return the sum of P15,000.00 he received from Oath; unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct;
complainant under the "Deed of Sale with Right to and disrespect for the Court and causing undue
Repurchase." This is a civil liability best determined delay of these cases, for which he is SUSPENDED
and awarded in a civil case rather than the present from the practice of law for a period of two (2)
administrative cases. years, reckoned from receipt of this Decision, with
WARNING that a similar misconduct in the future
In Roa v. Moreno,29 the Court pronounced that "[i]n shall be dealt with more severely.
disciplinary proceedings against lawyers, the only
issue is whether the officer of the court is still fit to Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office
be allowed to continue as a member of the Bar. Our of the Bar Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the
only concern is the determination of respondents Philippines for their information and guidance. The
administrative liability. Our findings have no Court Administrator is directed to circulate this
material bearing on other judicial action which the Decision to all courts in the country.
parties may choose to file against each
other."While the respondent lawyers wrongful SO ORDERED.
actuations may give rise at the same time to
criminal, civil, and administrative liabilities, each
must be determined in the appropriate case; and
every case must be resolved in accordance with
the facts and the law applicable and the quantum of
proof required in each. Section 5,30 in relation to
Sections 131 and 2,32 Rule 133 of the Rules of Court
states that in administrative cases, such as the
ones atbar, only substantial evidence is required,
not proof beyond reasonable doubt as in criminal
cases, or preponderance of evidence asin civil
cases. Substantial evidence is that amount of
relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.33

The Court notes that based on the same factual


antecedents as the present administrative cases,
complainant instituted a criminal case for estafa
against respondent, docketed as Criminal Case No.
3112-A, before the MTC. When a criminal action is
instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil
liability arising from the offense charged shall be
deemed instituted with the criminal action unless
the offended party waives the civil action, reserves
the right to institute it separately or institutes the
civil action prior to the criminal action.34 Unless the
complainant waived the civil action, reserved the
right to institute it separately, or instituted the civil
action prior to the criminal action, then his civil
action for the recovery of civil liability arising from
the estafa committed by respondent is deemed
instituted with Criminal Case No. 3112-A. The civil
liability that complainant may recover in Criminal
Case No. 3112-A includes restitution; reparation of
NOEL BUENAVENTURA, petitioner, vs. COURT separation/retirement benefits
OF APPEALS and ISABEL LUCIA SINGH received from the Far East Bank [and]
BUENAVENTURA, respondents. Trust Company[,] by ceding, giving and
paying to her fifty percent (50%) of the
net amount of P3,675,335.79
or P1,837,667.89 together with 12%
[G.R. No. 127449. March 31, 2005] interest per annum from the date of this
decision and one-half (1/2) of his
outstanding shares of stock with Manila
Memorial Park and Provident Group of
NOEL BUENAVENTURA, petitioner, vs. COURT Companies;
OF APPEALS and ISABEL LUCIA SINGH
BUENAVENTURA, respondents. 5) Ordering him to give a regular support in
favor of his son Javy Singh
DECISION Buenaventura in the amount
of P15,000.00 monthly, subject to
AZCUNA, J.: modification as the necessity arises;

These cases involve a petition for the 6) Awarding the care and custody of the
declaration of nullity of marriage, which was filed by minor Javy Singh Buenaventura to his
petitioner Noel Buenaventura on July 12, 1992, on mother, the herein defendant; and
the ground of the alleged psychological incapacity of 7) Hereby authorizing the defendant to
his wife, Isabel Singh Buenaventura, herein revert back to the use of her maiden
respondent. After respondent filed her answer, family name Singh.
petitioner, with leave of court, amended his petition
by stating that both he and his wife were Let copies of this decision be furnished the
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the appropriate civil registry and registries of
essential obligations of marriage. In response, properties.
respondent filed an amended answer denying the
allegation that she was psychologically SO ORDERED.[2]
incapacitated.[1]
On July 31, 1995, the Regional Trial Court Petitioner appealed the above decision to the
promulgated a Decision, the dispositive portion of Court of Appeals. While the case was pending in the
which reads: appellate court, respondent filed a motion to
increase the P15,000 monthly support pendente
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as lite of their son Javy Singh Buenaventura. Petitioner
follows: filed an opposition thereto, praying that it be denied
1) Declaring and decreeing the marriage or that such incident be set for oral argument.[3]
entered into between plaintiff Noel A. On September 2, 1996, the Court of Appeals
Buenaventura and defendant Isabel issued a Resolution increasing the
Lucia Singh Buenaventura on July 4, support pendente lite to P20,000.[4]Petitioner filed a
1979, null and void ab initio; motion for reconsideration questioning the said
2) Ordering the plaintiff to pay defendant Resolution.[5]
moral damages in the amount of 2.5 On October 8, 1996, the appellate court
million pesos and exemplary damages promulgated a Decision dismissing petitioners
of 1 million pesos with 6% interest from appeal for lack of merit and affirming in toto the trial
the date of this decision plus attorneys courts decision.[6] Petitioner filed a motion for
fees of P100,000.00; reconsideration which was denied. From the
3) Ordering the plaintiff to pay the abovementioned Decision, petitioner filed the instant
defendant expenses of litigation Petition for Review on Certiorari.
of P50,000.00, plus costs; On November 13, 1996, through another
4) Ordering the liquidation of the assets of Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied petitioners
the conjugal partnership property[,] motion for reconsideration of the September 2, 1996
particularly the plaintiffs Resolution, which increased the monthly support for
the son.[7] Petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari to SUPPORT FOR THE PARTIES SON FOR
question these two Resolutions. HEARING.[12]
On July 9, 1997, the Petition for Review
THERE WAS NO NEED FOR THE COURT OF
on Certiorari[8] and the Petition for Certiorari[9] were
APPEALS TO INCREASE JAVYS MONTHLY
ordered consolidated by this Court.[10]
SUPPORT OF P15,000.00 BEING GIVEN BY
In the Petition for Review on Certiorari petitioner PETITIONER EVEN AT PRESENT PRICES.[13]
claims that the Court of Appeals decided the case
not in accord with law and jurisprudence, thus: IN RESOLVING RESPONDENTS MOTION FOR
THE INCREASE OF JAVYS SUPPORT, THE
1. WHEN IT AWARDED DEFENDANT-APPELLEE COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE
MORAL DAMAGES IN THE AMOUNT OF P2.5 EXAMINED THE LIST OF EXPENSES
MILLION AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES OF P1 SUBMITTED BY RESPONDENT IN THE LIGHT
MILLION, WITH 6% INTEREST FROM THE DATE OF PETITIONERS OBJECTIONS THERETO,
OF ITS DECISION, WITHOUT ANY LEGAL AND INSTEAD OF MERELY ASSUMING THAT JAVY IS
MORAL BASIS; ENTITLED TO A P5,000 INCREASE IN SUPPORT
AS SAID AMOUNT IS TOO MINIMAL.[14]
2. WHEN IT AWARDED P100,000.00
ATTORNEYS FEES AND P50,000.00 EXPENSES LIKEWISE, THE COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD
OF LITIGATION, PLUS COSTS, TO DEFENDANT- HAVE GIVEN PETITIONER AN OPPORTUNITY
APPELLEE, WITHOUT FACTUAL AND LEGAL TO PROVE HIS PRESENT INCOME TO SHOW
BASIS; THAT HE CANNOT AFFORD TO INCREASE
JAVYS SUPPORT.[15]
3. WHEN IT ORDERED PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
NOEL TO PAY DEFENDANT-APPELLEE ONE- With regard to the first issue in the main case,
HALF OR P1,837,667.89 OUT OF HIS the Court of Appeals articulated:
RETIREMENT BENEFITS RECEIVED FROM THE
FAR EAST BANK AND TRUST CO., WITH 12% On Assignment of Error C, the trial court, after
INTEREST THEREON FROM THE DATE OF ITS findings of fact ascertained from the testimonies not
DECISION, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT SAID only of the parties particularly the defendant-
RETIREMENT BENEFITS ARE GRATUITOUS appellee but likewise, those of the two
AND EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY OF NOEL, AND psychologists, awarded damages on the basis of
ALSO TO DELIVER TO DEFENDANT-APPELLEE Articles 21, 2217 and 2229 of the Civil Code of the
ONE-HALF OF HIS SHARES OF STOCK WITH Philippines.
THE MANILA MEMORIAL PARK AND THE
PROVIDENT GROUP OF COMPANIES, Thus, the lower court found that plaintiff-appellant
ALTHOUGH SAID SHARES OF STOCK WERE deceived the defendant-appellee into marrying him
ACQUIRED BY NOEL BEFORE HIS MARRIAGE by professing true love instead of revealing to her
TO RESPONDENT ISABEL AND ARE, that he was under heavy parental pressure to marry
THEREFORE, AGAIN HIS EXCLUSIVE and that because of pride he married defendant-
PROPERTIES; AND appellee; that he was not ready to enter into
marriage as in fact his career was and always
4. WHEN IT AWARDED EXCLUSIVE CARE AND would be his first priority; that he was unable to
CUSTODY OVER THE PARTIES MINOR CHILD relate not only to defendant-appellee as a husband
TO DEFENDANT-APPELLEE WITHOUT ASKING but also to his son, Javy, as a father; that he had no
THE CHILD (WHO WAS ALREADY 13 YEARS inclination to make the marriage work such that in
OLD AT THAT TIME) HIS CHOICE AS TO WHOM, times of trouble, he chose the easiest way out, that
BETWEEN HIS TWO PARENTS, HE WOULD LIKE of leaving defendantappellee and their son; that he
TO HAVE CUSTODY OVER HIS PERSON.[11] had no desire to keep defendant-appellee and their
son as proved by his reluctance and later, refusal to
In the Petition for Certiorari, petitioner advances reconcile after their separation; that the
the following contentions: aforementioned caused defendant-appellee to
suffer mental anguish, anxiety, besmirched
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ABUSED reputation, sleepless nights not only in those years
ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT REFUSED TO SET the parties were together but also after and
RESPONDENTS MOTION FOR INCREASED throughout their separation.
Plaintiff-appellant assails the trial courts decision on A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time
the ground that unlike those arising from a breach of the celebration, was psychologically
in ordinary contracts, damages arising as a incapacitated to comply with the essential marital
consequence of marriage may not be awarded. obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even
While it is correct that there is, as yet, no decided if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
case by the Supreme Court where damages by solemnization.
reason of the performance or non-performance of
marital obligations were awarded, it does not follow Psychological incapacity has been defined,
that no such award for damages may be made. thus:

Defendant-appellee, in her amended answer, . . . no less than a mental (not physical) incapacity
specifically prayed for moral and exemplary that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the
damages in the total amount of 7 million pesos. The basic marital covenants that concomitantly
lower court, in the exercise of its discretion, found must be assumed and discharged by the parties
full justification of awarding at least half of what was to the marriage which, as so expressed by Article
originally prayed for. We find no reason to disturb 68 of the Family Code, include their mutual
the ruling of the trial court.[16] obligations to live together, observe love, respect
and fidelity and render help and support. There is
The award by the trial court of moral damages hardly any doubt that the intendment of the law has
is based on Articles 2217 and 21 of the Civil Code, been to confine the meaning of "psychological
which read as follows: incapacity" to the most serious cases of personality
disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter
ART. 2217. Moral damages include physical insensitivity or inability to give meaning and
suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, significance to the marriage. . . .[18]
besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral
shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though The Court of Appeals and the trial court
incapable of pecuniary computation, moral considered the acts of the petitioner after the
damages may be recovered if they are the marriage as proof of his psychological incapacity,
proximate result of the defendants wrongful act or and therefore a product of his incapacity or inability
omission. to comply with the essential obligations of marriage.
Nevertheless, said courts considered these acts as
ART. 21. Any person who wilfully causes loss or willful and hence as grounds for granting moral
injury to another in a manner that is contrary to damages. It is contradictory to characterize acts as
morals, good customs or public policy shall a product of psychological incapacity, and hence
compensate the latter for the damage. beyond the control of the party because of an innate
inability, while at the same time considering the
The trial court referred to Article 21 because same set of acts as willful. By declaring the petitioner
Article 2219[17] of the Civil Code enumerates the as psychologically incapacitated, the possibility of
cases in which moral damages may be recovered awarding moral damages on the same set of facts
and it mentions Article 21 as one of the instances. It was negated. The award of moral damages should
must be noted that Article 21 states that the be predicated, not on the mere act of entering into
individual must willfully cause loss or injury to the marriage, but on specific evidence that it was
another. There is a need that the act is willful and done deliberately and with malice by a party who had
hence done in complete freedom. In granting moral knowledge of his or her disability and yet willfully
damages, therefore, the trial court and the Court of concealed the same. No such evidence appears to
Appeals could not but have assumed that the acts have been adduced in this case.
on which the moral damages were based were done For the same reason, since psychological
willfully and freely, otherwise the grant of moral incapacity means that one is truly incognitive of the
damages would have no leg to stand on. basic marital covenants that one must assume and
On the other hand, the trial court declared the discharge as a consequence of marriage, it removes
marriage of the parties null and void based on Article the basis for the contention that the petitioner
36 of the Family Code, due to psychological purposely deceived the private respondent. If the
incapacity of the petitioner, Noel Buenaventura. private respondent was deceived, it was not due to
Article 36 of the Family Code states: a willful act on the part of the petitioner. Therefore,
the award of moral damages was without basis in
law and in fact.
Since the grant of moral damages was not When a marriage is declared void ab initio, the law
proper, it follows that the grant of exemplary states that the final judgment therein shall provide
damages cannot stand since the Civil Code provides for the liquidation, partition and distribution of the
that exemplary damages are imposed in addition to properties of the spouses, the custody and support
moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory of the common children and the delivery of their
damages.[19] presumptive legitimes, unless such matters had
been adjudicated in the previous proceedings.
With respect to the grant of attorneys fees and
expenses of litigation the trial court explained, thus:
The parties here were legally married on July 4,
1979, and therefore, all property acquired during
Regarding Attorneys fees, Art. 2208 of the Civil the marriage, whether the acquisition appears to
Code authorizes an award of attorneys fees and
have been made, contracted or registered in the
expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs, name of one or both spouses, is presumed to be
when as in this case the plaintiffs act or omission conjugal unless the contrary is proved (Art. 116,
has compelled the defendant to litigate and to incur New Family Code; Art. 160, Civil Code). Art. 117 of
expenses of litigation to protect her interest (par. 2), the Family Code enumerates what are conjugal
and where the Court deems it just and equitable
partnership properties. Among others they are the
that attorneys fees and expenses of litigation following:
should be recovered. (par. 11)[20]
1) Those acquired by onerous title during the
The Court of Appeals reasoned as follows:
marriage at the expense of the common fund,
whether the acquisition be for the partnership, or for
On Assignment of Error D, as the award of moral only one of the spouses;
and exemplary damages is fully justified, the award
of attorneys fees and costs of litigation by the trial 2) Those obtained from the labor, industry, work or
court is likewise fully justified.[21] profession of either or both of the spouses;
The acts or omissions of petitioner which led the 3) The fruits, natural, industrial, or civil, due or
lower court to deduce his psychological incapacity, received during the marriage from the common
and his act in filing the complaint for the annulment
property, as well as the net fruits from the exclusive
of his marriage cannot be considered as unduly property of each spouse. . . .
compelling the private respondent to litigate, since
both are grounded on petitioners psychological
Applying the foregoing legal provisions, and without
incapacity, which as explained above is a mental
prejudice to requiring an inventory of what are the
incapacity causing an utter inability to comply with
parties conjugal properties and what are the
the obligations of marriage. Hence, neither can be a
exclusive properties of each spouse, it was
ground for attorneys fees and litigation expenses.
disclosed during the proceedings in this case that
Furthermore, since the award of moral and
the plaintiff who worked first as Branch Manager
exemplary damages is no longer justified, the award
and later as Vice-President of Far East Bank &
of attorneys fees and expenses of litigation is left
Trust Co. received separation/retirement package
without basis.
from the said bank in the amount of P3,701,500.00
Anent the retirement benefits received from the which after certain deductions amounting
Far East Bank and Trust Co. and the shares of stock to P26,164.21 gave him a net amount
in the Manila Memorial Park and the Provident of P3,675,335.79 and actually paid to him on
Group of Companies, the trial court said: January 9, 1995 (Exhs. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). Not
having shown debts or obligations other than those
The third issue that must be resolved by the Court deducted from the said retirement/separation pay,
is what to do with the assets of the conjugal under Art. 129 of the Family Code The net
partnership in the event of declaration of annulment remainder of the conjugal partnership properties
of the marriage. The Honorable Supreme Court has shall constitute the profits, which shall be divided
held that the declaration of nullity of marriage equally between husband and wife, unless a
carries ipso facto a judgment for the liquidation of different proportion or division was agreed upon in
property (Domingo v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. the marriage settlement or unless there has been a
No. 104818, Sept. 17, 1993, 226 SCRA, pp. 572 voluntary waiver or forfeiture of such share as
573, 586). Thus, speaking through Justice Flerida provided in this Code. In this particular case,
Ruth P. Romero, it was ruled in this case: however, there had been no marriage settlement
between the parties, nor had there been any that henceforth, their conjugal partnership is
voluntary waiver or valid forfeiture of the defendant dissolved. Thereafter, no steps were taken for the
wifes share in the conjugal partnership properties. liquidation of the conjugal partnership.
The previous cession and transfer by the plaintiff of
his one-half (1/2) share in their residential house Finding that defendant-appellee is entitled to at
and lot covered by T.C.T. No. S-35680 of the least half of the separation/retirement benefits
Registry of Deeds of Paraaque, Metro Manila, in which plaintiff-appellant received from Far East
favor of the defendant as stipulated in their Bank & Trust Company upon his retirement as
Compromise Agreement dated July 12, 1993, and Vice-President of said company for the reason that
approved by the Court in its Partial Decision dated the benefits accrued from plaintiffappellants service
August 6, 1993, was actually intended to be in full for the bank for a number of years, most of which
settlement of any and all demands for past support. while he was married to defendant-appellee, the
In reality, the defendant wife had allowed some trial court adjudicated the same. The same is true
concession in favor of the plaintiff husband, for with the outstanding shares of plaintiff-appellant in
were the law strictly to be followed, in the process Manila Memorial Park and Provident Group of
of liquidation of the conjugal assets, the conjugal Companies. As these were acquired by the plaintiff-
dwelling and the lot on which it is situated shall, appellant at the time he was married to defendant-
unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties, be appellee, the latter is entitled to one-half thereof as
adjudicated to the spouse with whom their only her share in the conjugal partnership. We find no
child has chosen to remain (Art. 129, par. 9). Here, reason to disturb the ruling of the trial court.[23]
what was done was one-half (1/2) portion of the
house was ceded to defendant so that she will not Since the present case does not involve the
claim anymore for past unpaid support, while the annulment of a bigamous marriage, the provisions of
other half was transferred to their only child as his Article 50 in relation to Articles 41, 42 and 43 of the
presumptive legitime. Family Code, providing for the dissolution of the
absolute community or conjugal partnership of
Consequently, nothing yet has been given to the gains, as the case may be, do not apply. Rather, the
defendant wife by way of her share in the conjugal general rule applies, which is that in case a marriage
properties, and it is but just, lawful and fair, that she is declared void ab initio, the property regime
be given one-half (1/2) share of the applicable and to be liquidated, partitioned and
separation/retirement benefits received by the distributed is that of equal co-ownership.
plaintiff the same being part of their conjugal
partnership properties having been obtained or In Valdes v. Regional Trial Court, Branch 102,
derived from the labor, industry, work or profession Quezon City,[24] this Court expounded on the
of said defendant husband in accordance with Art. consequences of a void marriage on the property
117, par. 2 of the Family Code. For the same relations of the spouses and specified the applicable
reason, she is entitled to one-half (1/2) of the provisions of law:
outstanding shares of stock of the plaintiff husband
with the Manila Memorial Park and the Provident The trial court correctly applied the law. In a void
Group of Companies.[22] marriage, regardless of the cause thereof, the
property relations of the parties during the period of
The Court of Appeals articulated on this matter cohabitation is governed by the provisions of Article
as follows: 147 or Article 148, such as the case may be, of the
Family Code. Article 147 is a remake of Article 144
of the Civil Code as interpreted and so applied in
On Assignment of Error E, plaintiff-appellant assails
the order of the trial court for him to give one-half of previous cases; it provides:
his separation/retirement benefits from Far East
Bank & Trust Company and half of his outstanding ART. 147. When a man and a woman who are
shares in Manila Memorial Park and Provident capacitated to marry each other, live exclusively
Group of Companies to the defendant-appellee as with each other as husband and wife without the
the latters share in the conjugal partnership. benefit of marriage or under a void marriage, their
wages and salaries shall be owned by them in
On August 6, 1993, the trial court rendered a Partial equal shares and the property acquired by both of
Decision approving the Compromise Agreement them through their work or industry shall be
entered into by the parties. In the same governed by the rules on co-ownership.
Compromise Agreement, the parties had agreed
In the absence of proof to the contrary, properties Civil Code; in addition, the law now expressly
acquired while they lived together shall be provides that
presumed to have been obtained by their joint
efforts, work or industry, and shall be owned by (a) Neither party can dispose or encumber by act[s]
them in equal shares. For purposes of this Article, a inter vivos [of] his or her share in co-ownership
party who did not participate in the acquisition by property, without the consent of the other, during
the other party of any property shall be deemed to the period of cohabitation; and
have contributed jointly in the acquisition thereof if
the former's efforts consisted in the care and (b) In the case of a void marriage, any party in bad
maintenance of the family and of the household. faith shall forfeit his or her share in the co-
ownership in favor of their common children; in
Neither party can encumber or dispose by acts inter default thereof or waiver by any or all of the
vivos of his or her share in the property acquired common children, each vacant share shall belong
during cohabitation and owned in common, without to the respective surviving descendants, or still in
the consent of the other, until after the termination default thereof, to the innocent party. The forfeiture
of their cohabitation. shall take place upon the termination of the
cohabitation or declaration of nullity of the
When only one of the parties to a void marriage is marriage.
in good faith, the share of the party in bad faith in
the co-ownership shall be forfeited in favor of their In deciding to take further cognizance of the issue
common children. In case of default of or waiver by on the settlement of the parties' common property,
any or all of the common children or their the trial court acted neither imprudently nor
descendants, each vacant share shall belong to the precipitately; a court which had jurisdiction to
respective surviving descendants. In the absence declare the marriage a nullity must be deemed
of descendants, such share shall belong to the likewise clothed with authority to resolve incidental
innocent party. In all cases, the forfeiture shall take and consequential matters. Nor did it commit a
place upon termination of the cohabitation. reversible error in ruling that petitioner and private
respondent own the "family home" and all their
This peculiar kind of co-ownership applies when a common property in equal shares, as well as in
man and a woman, suffering no legal impediment concluding that, in the liquidation and partition of
to marry each other, so exclusively live together as the property owned in common by them, the
husband and wife under a void marriage or without provisions on co-ownership under the Civil Code,
the benefit of marriage. The term "capacitated" in not Articles 50, 51 and 52, in relation to Articles 102
the provision (in the first paragraph of the law) and 129, of the Family Code, should aptly prevail.
refers to the legal capacity of a party to contract The rules set up to govern the liquidation of either
marriage, i.e., any "male or female of the age of the absolute community or the conjugal partnership
eighteen years or upwards not under any of the of gains, the property regimes recognized for valid
impediments mentioned in Articles 37 and 38" of and voidable marriages (in the latter case until the
the Code. contract is annulled), are irrelevant to the liquidation
of the co-ownership that exists between common-
Under this property regime, property acquired by law spouses. The first paragraph of Article 50 of the
both spouses through their work and industry shall Family Code, applying paragraphs (2), (3), (4) and
be governed by the rules on equal co-ownership. (5) of Article 43, relates only, by its explicit terms,
Any property acquired during the union is prima to voidable marriages and, exceptionally,
facie presumed to have been obtained through their to void marriages under Article 40 of the Code, i.e.,
joint efforts. A party who did not participate in the the declaration of nullity of a subsequent marriage
acquisition of the property shall still be considered contracted by a spouse of a prior void marriage
as having contributed thereto jointly if said party's before the latter is judicially declared void. The
"efforts consisted in the care and maintenance of latter is a special rule that somehow recognizes the
the family household." Unlike the conjugal philosophy and an old doctrine that void marriages
partnership of gains, the fruits of the couple's are inexistent from the very beginning and no
separate property are not included in the co- judicial decree is necessary to establish their nullity.
ownership. In now requiring for purposes of remarriage, the
declaration of nullity by final judgment of the
Article 147 of the Family Code, in substance and to previously contracted void marriage, the present
the above extent, has clarified Article 144 of the law aims to do away with any continuing
uncertainty on the status of the second marriage. It Companies is sustained but on the basis of the
is not then illogical for the provisions of Article 43, liquidation, partition and distribution of the co-
in relation to Articles 41 and 42, of the Family ownership and not of the regime of conjugal
Code, on the effects of the termination of a partnership of gains. The rest of said Decision and
subsequent marriage contracted during the Resolution are AFFIRMED.
subsistence of a previous marriage to be made
applicable pro hac vice. In all other cases, it is not The Petition for Review on Certiorari (G.R. No.
to be assumed that the law has also meant to have 127358) contesting the Court of Appeals
coincident property relations, on the one hand, Resolutions of September 2, 1996 and November
between spouses in valid and voidable marriages 13, 1996 which increased the support pendente
(before annulment) and, on the other, between lite in favor of the parties son, Javy Singh
common-law spouses or spouses of void Buenaventura, is now MOOT and ACADEMIC and
marriages, leaving to ordain, in the latter case, the is, accordingly, DISMISSED.
ordinary rules on co-ownership subject to the No costs.
provision of Article 147 and Article 148 of the
Family Code. It must be stressed, nevertheless,
even as it may merely state the obvious, that the
provisions of the Family Code on the "family home,"
i.e., the provisions found in Title V, Chapter 2, of
the Family Code, remain in force and effect
regardless of the property regime of the spouses.[25]

Since the properties ordered to be distributed by


the court a quo were found, both by the trial court
and the Court of Appeals, to have been acquired
during the union of the parties, the same would be
covered by the co-ownership. No fruits of a separate
property of one of the parties appear to have been
included or involved in said distribution. The
liquidation, partition and distribution of the properties
owned in common by the parties herein as ordered
by the court a quo should, therefore, be sustained,
but on the basis of co-ownership and not of the
regime of conjugal partnership of gains.
As to the issue on custody of the parties over
their only child, Javy Singh Buenaventura, it is now
moot since he is about to turn twenty-five years of
age on May 27, 2005[26] and has, therefore, attained
the age of majority.
With regard to the issues on support raised in
the Petition for Certiorari, these would also now be
moot, owing to the fact that the son, Javy Singh
Buenaventura, as previously stated, has attained the
age of majority.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of
Appeals dated October 8, 1996 and its Resolution
dated December 10, 1996 which are contested in the
Petition for Review (G.R. No. 127449), are hereby FILINVEST LAND, INC., petitioner,
MODIFIED, in that the award of moral and vs.
exemplary damages, attorneys fees, expenses of HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ROMEO,
litigation and costs are deleted. The order giving ANTONIO, JOSEFINA, RICARDO (JR.), all
respondent one-half of the retirement benefits of surnamed ALVAREZ and VENANCIA R. Vda. de
petitioner from Far East Bank and Trust Co. and ALVAREZ, for herself as guardian ad litem for
one-half of petitioners shares of stock in Manila her minor children, RAMON, VERONICA, and
Memorial Park and in the Provident Group of
FLORDELIZA, all surnamed ALVAREZ, and as lands situated in the Laguna Resettlement Project.
necessary and indispensable party plaintiffs Presidential Decree No. 1474 provided that:
JAIME, VICTORIA, and MANUEL, all surnamed
ALVAREZ, and ROSARIO PARAM Vda. de Section 1. The Department of Agrarian
ALVAREZ, respondents. Reform, as Administrator of the San Pedro
Tunasan Estate, is hereby ordered to
convert such estate into a commercial,
DECISION industrial and residential site and to transfer
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: the same to the National Housing Authority.

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Section 2. Individuals who have legally
Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court, as amended, acquired farm lots in the Estate under
seeking to set aside a Decision1 of the Court of Orders of Award or Certificates of Land
Appeals dated 11 November 1998 in CAG.R. SP Transfer or Agreement to Sell or Deeds of
No. 48396 annulling the sale of a parcel of land Sale, may sell or transfer their lots covered
specified as Lot No. 329, GSS-877 of the Laguna thereby or convert the same for the
Resettlement Project, to the late Ricardo Alvarez purposes mentioned in Section 1 hereof.
and the subsequent transfers to Mercedes Oliver
and petitioner Filinvest Land Inc. (Filinvest); and the The Register of Deeds of the Province of Laguna
reversion of the subject property to the ownership issued Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
of the government. The Court of Appeals in its 62731, covering the subject land, in the name of
assailed Decision affirmed the Decision2 of the Ricardo Alvarez on 25 May 1979. On 10 June
Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board 1979, only 16 days after the title was issued,
(DARAB) dated 1 July 1998. Ricardo Alvarez and his wife, Rosario Param, sold
the said land to Mercedes Oliver for Ten Thousand
The subject matter in this case is a parcel of land Pesos (P10, 000.00). Oliver was not a relative
registered as Lot No. 329 of the Laguna within the third degree of consanguinity and had no
Resettlement Project, located in Barrio San capacity to personally cultivate the land, as
Vicente, San Pedro, Laguna, with an area of required of a qualified beneficiary. Thus, TCT No.
16,495 square meters. The Department of Agrarian 62731 was cancelled, and TCT No. 64967 was
Reform (DAR) awarded to Ricardo Alvarez the right issued in the name of Mercedes Oliver.7
to purchase the land in question, pursuant to an
Order of Award dated 9 October 1973.3 On 15 On 22 December 1989, Mercedes Oliver sold the
August 1977, Ricardo Alvarez, with the consent of subject land to Filinvest, resulting in the issuance of
his wife, respondent Rosario Param, purchased the TCT No. 201836 on 23 January 1990 in the name
land, evidenced by a Deed of Sale executed by the of Filinvest.8
DAR.4 This Deed of Sale specifically prohibited the
transfer of the land within ten (10) years from the On 7 March 1982, the heirs of the late Ricardo
issuance of the certificate of title to any person Alvarez filed a case for reconveyance, redemption
other than the vendees relatives within the third and damages against Mercedes Oliver, Avelino
civil degree by consanguinity or affinity who are, at Ramos and Jose Nunez, before the Regional Trial
the same time, qualified beneficiaries.5 This Court (RTC) of Bian, Laguna.9 Respondents filed
restriction was in accordance with Section 62 of an Amended Complaint for Annulment of Title with
Republic Act No. 3844, or the Agricultural Land Reconveyance, dated 4 December 1985, wherein
Reform Code.6 they claim that the sale of the subject land was
made without their knowledge, and it was only in
However, pending the issuance of the certificate of the 1980s that they learned of such sale. They
title of the said land, Presidential Decree No. 1474, alleged that their mother and father, both illiterate,
Declaring the San Pedro Tunasan Estate (also were deceived by the defendants into executing the
known as the Laguna Resettlement Project) of the Deed of Sale covering the subject land in favor of
Department of Agrarian Reform Suitable for Mercedes Oliver. Respondents also argued that
Residential, Commercial, or Industrial, or other such sale was void since the Deed of Sale was
Non-Agricultural Purposes, was enacted on 11 executed in violation of the law which enjoins the
June 1978 and published in the Official Gazette on sale of the subject land.10 This case was, however,
27 November 1978. This effectively repealed the dismissed for failure of the respondents and
ten-year prohibition on the transfer of agrarian counsel to appear during the hearing for the
reception of their evidence, despite due notice and WHEREFORE, in view therefrom, Judgment
after eight postponements11. The RTC, in its is hereby rendered dismissing the instant
Order,12 dated 17 February 1989, ruled that: case for lack of merit.

Further considering that without the On appeal, the DARAB reversed and set aside the
evidence of said witness and the plaintiffs Decision dismissing the complaint, and ordered the
not having presented any evidence on reversion of the subject property to the government.
record, upon motion of counsel for The dispositive portion of the said Order,17 dated 1
defendants that this case be dismissed and July 1998 reads:
further manifestation by the defendants that
they are waiving their right to a WHEREFORE, premises considered, the
counterclaim, the Court hereby orders the challenged decision dated August 25, 1993
dismissal of this case (both the complaint is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and
and counterclaim). a new judgment is hereby rendered as
follows:
Let copy of this Order be furnished party
plaintiff. 1. Annulling the transfer of the land in
question to the late Ricardo Alvarez and its
The order became final and executory when the subsequent transfers to defendant
respondents failed to file a motion for Mercedes Oliver and defendant Filinvest
reconsideration of this Order, despite receipt Land Incorporated;
thereof.13
2. Ordering the cancellation of Transfer
On 26 March 1990, respondents filed a complaint Certificate of Title No. 201836, covering the
against Mercedes Oliver and Filinvest before the subject land, issued by the Register of
Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudication (PARAD) Deeds for the Province of Laguna, Calamba
of Sta. Cruz, Laguna, seeking to annul the Deed of branch, in the name of defendant Filinvest;
Sale between the Spouses Alvarez and Mercedes and
Oliver and the subsequent transfer between
Mercedes Oliver and Filinvest, on grounds similar 3. Directing the Register of Deeds for the
to the complaint filed before the RTC of Bian. Province of Laguna, Calamba branch, to
They also sought the issuance of a restraining issue in lieu of TCT No. 201836, a
order enjoining Filinvest from bulldozing the subject Certificate of Title in the name of the
land, which was occupied and cultivated by the Republic of the Philippines, through DAR,
respondents. Mercedes Oliver filed a Motion to for distribution to qualified farmer-
Dismiss on the grounds of res judicata and that the beneficiary in accordance with
PARAD had no jurisdiction over the subject matter Administrative Order No. 01, Series of 1992,
of the case. Filinvest similarly filed a motion to which is the Revised Rules and Procedures
dismiss on the grounds of res judicata and laches. Governing the Disposition of Homelots and
It also alleged, in its defense, that it was a other Lots in Barangay Sites and
purchaser for value and in good faith. In its Position Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Lots
Paper, Filinvest likewise asserted that the in Townsites within DAR Settlement Project
restriction against selling the subject land within ten and Similar Other Areas under DAR
years, provided under the Deed of Sale executed Jurisdiction.
by DAR in favor of the Spouses Alvarez had
already been superseded by Presidential Decree The DARAB ruled, too, that res judicata as a bar
No. 1474, which took effect in 1978.14 against filing a complaint with the PARAD is not
applicable in this case since there was no
On 25 August 1993, the PARAD of Sta. Cruz, adjudication of the merits before the RTC of Bian.
Laguna, dismissed the complaint on the ground
of res judicata. Moreover, it ruled that the sale The DARAB considered as self-serving and
between the Spouses Alvarez and Mercedes Oliver unsupported by evidence the allegations of the
was valid.15 The dispositive part of this respondents that the consent of the Spouses
Decision16 reads: Alvarez was obtained through fraud in connection
with the sale made in favor of Mercedes Oliver. It
also ruled that the sale between Ricardo Alvarez
and Mercedes Oliver was a violation of the ten-year OF DISCRETION AND COMMITTED
prohibition against the transfer of the land imposed REVERSIBLE ERROR IN APPLYING
by the Deed of Sale between the government and SECTION 1 (C), RULE II OF THE NEW
Ricardo Alvarez, in accordance with Section 62 of RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE
Republic Act No. 3844. Such act rendered the DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM
Deed of Sale executed by the DAR in favor of ADJUDICATION BOARD (DARAB),
Ricardo Alvarez void, and, therefore, the CONFERRING JURISDICTION OF THE
subsequent transfers to Mercedes Oliver and DARAB OVER THE INSTANT CASE, IN
Filinvest were, likewise, void.18 DISREGARD OF THE PROVISIONS OF
PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1474
In negating Filinvests claim that Presidential
Decree No. 1474 has superseded Section 62 of III
Republic Act No. 3844, the DARAB cited the case
of Tipon v. Intermediate Appellate Court,19 where WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF
the Court upheld the validity of the ten-year APPEALS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE
prohibition on the transfer of land given by the OF DISCRETION AND COMMITTED
government to farmer-beneficiaries. The DARAB REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RULING THAT
added that the restriction on transfer of land is THE DOCTRINE OF RES
contained in our present agrarian laws, particularly JUDICATA DOES NOT APPLY TO BAR
Republic Act No. 6675.20 RESPONDENTS COMPLAINT IN DARAB
CASE NO. IV-032-L
The petitioners then filed a Petition
for Certiorari under Section 43 of the 1997 Rules of IV
Court before the Court of Appeals, but on 11
November 1998, the appeal was again dismissed WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF
for lack of merit and the assailed Decision of the APPEALS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE
DARAB was affirmed. 21 OF DISCRETION AND COMMITTED
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT RULING
The petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, THAT PETITIONER IS A BUYER IN GOOD
which was subsequently denied in a Resolution FAITH WHO SHOULD BE ENTITLED TO
dated 8 February 1999.22 PROTECTION AGAINST THE ALLEGED
CLAIM OF THE RESPONDENT HEREIN,
Hence this petition, wherein Filinvest raised the PURSUANT TO THIS HONORABLE
following issues: COURTS RULING IN AGRICULTURAL
AND HOME EXTENSION DEVELOPMENT
I GROUP VS. COURT OF APPEALS, ET
AL., G.R. NO. 92319, SEPTEMBER 3,
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF 199223
APPEALS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS
DISCRETION AND COMMITTED This petition is meritorious.
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN HOLDING THAT
THE SALE OF THE SUBJECT PARCEL OF The first issue raised by Filinvest is whether the
LAND BY RICARDO ALVAREZ TO sale between Ricardo Alvarez and Mercedes Oliver
MERCEDES OLIVER VIOLATED THE was void because it violated the prohibitory
TRANSFER RESTRICTION CONTAINED condition contained in the Deed of Sale between
IN THE PRIOR DEED OF SALE OF THE Ricardo Alvarez and the Government, to wit:
SAME PROPERTY EXECUTED BY THE
DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM 2. That from the date of the pertinent Order
IN FAVOR OF RICARDO ALVAREZ AND of Award and within TEN (10) years from
SECTION 62, ARTICLE II, CHAPTER III OF the date of issuance by the proper Register
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 3844 of Deeds of the certificate of title, the land
subject hereof shall not, except by
II hereditary succession, be subdivided, sold
or in any manner transferred or encumbered
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF except in favor of any of the VENDEES
APPEALS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE relative within the third civil degree by
consanguinity or affinity who fulfill the four In the present case, the government, through the
(4) requirements in Section 6 Land Authority DAR had already issued an Order of Award and a
Administrative Order No. 4, Series of 1967, Deed of Sale in favor of Ricardo Alvarez covering a
or in favor of the Government and its parcel of land located within the Laguna
financial or banking institutions or rural Resettlement Project, when Presidential Decree
banks, and only upon prior written consent No. 1474 was enacted on 11 June 1978. In 1979,
of the Secretary of the Department of Alvarez, with the consent of his spouse, Rosario
Agrarian Reform; and any sale, transfer, Param, transferred the same parcel of land to
encumberance or alienation made in Mercedes Oliver. Such transfer was clearly
violation hereof shall be null and void: x x sanctioned. As earlier adverted to, Section 2 of
x24 Presidential Decree No. 1474 revoked the
application of Section 62 of Republic Act No. 3844
This condition is in accordance with Section 62 of and the condition prohibiting the transfer of the land
Republic Act No. 3844, The Agricultural Land contained in the Deed of Sale executed by the DAR
Reform Code, which provided that: in favor of Alvarez, in so far as land within the
Laguna Resettlement Project was concerned.
Section 62. Limitation on Land Rights. - Except in Since the transfer made by Ricardo Alvarez to
case of hereditary succession by one heir, Mercedes Oliver was valid, the subsequent transfer
landholdings acquired under this Code may not be made by Mercedes Oliver to Filinvest is also valid.
resold, mortgaged, encumbered, or transferred until
after the lapse of ten years from the date of full DARABs reliance on the ruling of the Court
payment and acquisition and after such ten-year in Tipon v. Intermediate Appellate
period, any transfer, sale or disposition may be Court,26 upholding the ten-year prohibition on the
made only in favor of persons qualified to acquire transfer of land distributed by the government in
economic family-size farm units in accordance with favor of its beneficiaries, is misplaced. This case is
the provisions of this Code: Provided, That a not applicable for it did not take into account
purchaser who acquired his landholding under a Presidential Decree No. 1474 because of different
contract to sell may secure a loan on the same factual circumstances. It is true that the Tipon case
from any private lending institution or individual for shares some similarities with the present case - the
an amount not exceeding his equity on said subject property was part of the Laguna
landholding upon a guaranty by the Land Bank. Resettlement Project, and the Deed of Sale
between the DAR and the farmer-beneficiary,
Filinvest, however, contends that these restrictions Renato Tipon, was executed before the enactment
were already revoked by the issuance of of Presidential Decree No. 1474 in 1978. However,
Presidential Decree No. 1474, Declaring the San there is a crucial difference. Unlike the present
Pedro Tunasan Estate of the Department of case where the subsequent transfer by the farmer-
Agrarian Reform Suitable for Residential, beneficiary, Ricardo Alvarez, to Mercedes Oliver
Commercial or Industrial, or Other Non-Agricultural was made in 1979 after Presidential Decree No.
Purposes. This law reclassifies the San Pedro 1474 took effect, the subsequent transfer by
Tunasan Estate, known as and hereinafter referred farmer-beneficiary Renato Tipon to Atty. Umiral
to as the Laguna Resettlement Project, into a Matic, was made in 1976 before the enactment of
commercial, industrial and residential site as it is no Presidential Decree No. 1474. The factual
longer conducive to agricultural development. background of the Tipon case, as recounted by the
Court, are thus:
The position taken by Filinvest is justified. Section 2
of Presidential Decree No. 147425 categorically Petitioner Renato Tipon acquired the lot in
empowers "individuals who have legally acquired question (Lot No. 386 of the Laguna
lots in the (San Pedro Tunasan) Estate" under Settlement Project) from the government by
Orders of Awards or Deeds of Sale, among others virtue of a Deed of Sale executed in his
things, to "sell or transfer their lots covered favor by the Department of Agrarian Reform
thereby." Therefore, transfers of land located within on November 23, 1976, for the price
the Laguna Resettlement Project, made after the of P1,251.20. x x x.
law took effect, are valid and the restriction on
transfer of the land within ten years after its xxxx
registration is no longer applicable.
On the day the Deed of Sale was executed amendments under the administration and
in his favor, Tipon filed a request with the disposition of the DAR and LBP; x x x.
Department of Agrarian Reform for
permission to transfer his rights and interest However, Filinvest argued that under Section 1 of
over the lot in question in favor of Atty. Presidential Decree No. 1474, the Laguna
Umiral P. Matic (respondent herein). This Resettlement Project was no longer agricultural
request was granted by the Regional land but was effectively converted into a
Director of Region IV of the Department of commercial, industrial and residential site, and was
Agrarian Reform on December 9, 1976 therefore outside the jurisdiction of the DARAB.
"subject to the condition that the Deed of Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1474 reads:
Transfer is submitted to this department for
verification and final approval. Section 1. The Department of Agrarian
Reform, as Administrator of the San Pedro
On December 10, 1976, Tipon submitted Tunasan Estate, is hereby ordered to
the Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of Matic convert such estate into a commercial,
for approval and, on the same day, it was industrial and residential site and to transfer
approved by the Regional Director of the same to the National Housing Authority.
Region IV of the Department of Agrarian
Reform. Thereafter, Matic caused the titling From the aforecited provision, it is clear that the
of the property in the name of Tipon to DAR had lost jurisdiction over government lands
whom was issued Transfer Certificate of located in the Laguna Resettlement Project
Title No. 50617 and later, had the same formerly under its administration which it was
transferred to his name under Transfer ordered to transfer to the National Housing
Certificate of Title No. 53850 dated July 12, Authority (NHA). More importantly, the DARAB can
1977, of the Registry of Deeds for the no longer annul the Deed of Sale between the
Province of Laguna.27 government and Ricardo Alvarez, or the
subsequent transfers, on the ground that Alvarez
A basic principle of statutory construction mandates violated Section 62 of Republic Act No. 3844 and
that general legislation must give way to special the conditions laid down in the Deed of Sale
legislation on the same subject, and generally be regarding the ten-year restriction on the transfer of
so interpreted as to embrace only cases in which the same land. At that time, the transfer between
the special provisions are not applicable.28 There is Alvarez and Oliver was made, these
no question that Section 2 of Presidential Decree aforementioned rules were repealed by the
No. 1474 is inconsistent with Section 62 of provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1474. These
Republic Act No. 3844. The former authorizes the rules were no longer applicable to the land in
sale or transfer of agricultural lands within the question, as it was no longer under the
Laguna Resettlement Project, while the latter law administration of the DAR nor agrarian in character.
prohibits the transfer of agricultural lands The validity of the subsequent transfer of the
distributed by the government to farmer- subject land between Ricardo Alvarez and
beneficiaries, at least for a limited period. Mercedes Oliver, or even the later transfer between
Presidential Decree No. 1474 as a special law Mercedes Oliver and Filinvest, was no longer
should govern lands within the Laguna subject to agrarian laws, as the land was already
Resettlement Project, while Republic Act No. 3844 commercial, industrial, or residential in nature at the
is a law generally applied to agrarian lands. time of the transfer. Therefore, any proceeding
which attacks the validity of the subsequent
The second issue Filinvest raised is whether the transfers are within the jurisdiction of regular courts.
DARAB had jurisdiction over a case involving the
subject land. Rule II, Section 1, of the DARAB Clearly, the respondents filed the case before the
Revised Rules of Procedure provides that the PARAD, not because the case involved a dispute
DARAB shall have primary jurisdiction, both original that would be properly resolved by the PARAD, but
and appellate over: because they were already barred from filing the
case before the proper forum. The allegations and
(c) Cases involving the annulment or relief found in the Complaint filed by the
cancellation of orders or decisions of DAR respondents before the PARAD are conspicuously
officials other than the Secretary, lease similar to those in the Amended Complaint which
contracts or deeds of sale or their they had earlier filed before the trial court of
Bian.29 As earlier discussed, the trial court ordered parties are the same, but also those in privity with
the dismissal of the case for failure to prosecute. them, as between their successors-in-interest by
When the respondents failed to file a motion for title subsequent to the commencement of the
reconsideration, despite due notice, such order action, litigating for the same thing and under the
became final. same title and in the same capacity."

This Court cannot countenance the party-litigants The only contention between the parties was
recourse to such measures. The foundation whether the second requirement, that the decision
principle upon which the doctrine of res or order must have been based on the merits of the
judicata rests is that parties should not be permitted case, was met. In situations contemplated in
to litigate the same issue more than once. When a Section 3, Rule 17 of the Rules of Court,36 where a
right or fact has been judicially tried and determined complaint is dismissed for failure of the plaintiff to
by a court of competent jurisdiction, or an comply with a lawful order of the court, such
opportunity for such trial has been given, the dismissal has the effect of an adjudication upon the
judgment of the court, so long as it is not reversed, merits.37 A dismissal for failure to prosecute has the
should be conclusive upon the parties and those in effect of an adjudication on the merits, and
privity with them in law or estate.30 operates as res judicata, particularly when the court
did not direct that the dismissal was without
The following requisites must concur in order that a prejudice.38
prior judgment may bar a subsequent action: (1)
the former judgment or order must be final; (2) it Having complied with the four requisites needed for
must be a judgment or order on the merits, that is, it the doctrine of res judicata to operate, the Order
was rendered after a consideration of the evidence rendered by the RTC of Bian dismissing Civil
or stipulations submitted by the parties at the trial of Case No. B-1941 finally determined the ownership
the case; (3) it must have been rendered by a court of the subject land, the heirs of the late Ricardo
having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the Alvarez, Mercedes Oliver, and her successor-in-
parties; and (4) there must be, between the first interest, Filinvest, as no motion for reconsideration
and second actions, identity of parties, of subject on this Order was filed. Moreover, this would bar
matter and of cause of action. 31 any dispute over the subject land from being
brought before any judicial forum. Rule 39, Section
A perusal of the records easily shows that the first, 47 of the Rules of Court39 provides that in case of a
third and fourth requirements have been complied judgment or final order over a specific thing,
with in this case. The Order rendered by Branch rendered by a court having jurisdiction, the
XXIV of the RTC of Bian, dated 17 February 1989, judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title
dismissing the case, is clearly final, as it disposed to the thing and binding upon the parties and their
of all the rights and obligations of the parties before successors-in-interest.
it.32 There was never any question raised on the
jurisdiction of Branch XXIV of the RTC to hear and Furthermore, the allegations of the private
decide the question of whether the sale executed respondents of their counsels negligence cannot
between Ricardo Alvarez and Mercedes Oliver was be given any credence. In the Affidavit of private
valid. It is also obvious that the allegations of the respondent Romeo Alvarez, and reiterated in the
respondents in their Amended Complaint filed Comment filed by the private respondents before
before the RTC of Bian are substantially identical the Court of Appeals, it was alleged that on 12
to the Complaint filed before the PARAD; involved December 1986, their counsel, Atty. Rosendo O.
the same subject matter, and raised the same Chavez, executed a Notice of Withdrawal, which
causes of action.33 Filinvest was named as a party was not filed before the trial court and did not bear
only in the complaint before the PARAD, since it the conformity of the private
acquired the property from Mercedes Oliver only on respondents.40 Thereafter, Atty. Chavez allegedly
22 December 1989,34 after the case before the stopped attending the hearings before the trial
RTC was dismissed on 17 February 1997. court. As a result thereof, the private respondents
Moreover, the fact that its predecessor-in interest, were not notified of the 17 February 1989 hearing,
Mercedes Oliver, was a party in the case filed when the Order dismissing the case was issued.
before the RTC of Bian satisfies the requirement
on the identity of parties. In the case of Camara v. Records clearly show that Atty. Chavez could not
Court of Appeals,35 this Court has ruled that, have withdrawn from the case on 12 December
"[t]here is identity of parties not only where the 1986. As of 14 December 1987, Atty. Chavez
presented as his witness, Rosario Param, one of
the private respondents.41 Since he requested for
continuance, he was required to bring the witness
on the next hearing date. However, seven
postponements later, he was unable to bring the
witness he presented.42 On 17 October 1988, Atty.
Chavez attended the hearing. He failed to attend
the next hearing on 20 January 1989.
Nevertheless, he was still at that time the counsel
of the private respondents and therefore the notice
to him was binding upon the parties. Moreover, the
private respondent Rosario Param was perfectly
aware that her testimony was far from finished, and
that she still needed to appear before the Court.
Given the foregoing facts, private respondents
allegations that their counsel was grossly negligent
and that he had deceived them is not credible.

Even if the allegations of the private respondents


are to be believed, they should have raised them in
a Motion for Reconsideration, or a petition to annul
the Order of the trial court dismissing the case.
While they alleged that they did not receive the
Order requiring them to appear on the 17 February
1989 hearing, they never denied receiving the
Order of dismissal. As the records stand, the
counsel for the respondents received the Order
dismissing the case on 28 February 1989,43 and the
respondents never filed a Motion for
Reconsideration or even a belated appeal to
question the Order dismissing case. Instead, they
waited for a full year and filed with the DARAB a
case which was under the jurisdiction of the regular
courts.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this


Court GRANTS this petition and REVERSES the
Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
48396, dated 11 November 1998, affirming the
Order of the DARAB nullifying the transfer
certificate titles issued in the names of Ricardo
Alvarez, Mercedes Oliver and Filinvest Land Inc.
since the DARAB was without jurisdiction to issue
the said Order. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
DOMINGO GONZALO, Petitioner,
vs.
JOHN TARNATE, JR., Respondent.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:
The doctrine of in pari delicto which stipulates that In his answer, Gonzalo admitted the deed of
the guilty parties to an illegal contract are not assignment and the authority given therein to
entitled to any relief, cannot prevent a recovery if Tarnate, but averred that the project had not been
doing so violates the public policy against unjust fully implemented because of its cancellation by the
enrichment. DPWH, and that he had then revoked the deed of
assignment. He insisted that the assignment could
Antecedents not stand independently due to its being a mere
product of the subcontract that had been based on
After the Department of Public Works and his contract with the DPWH; and that Tarnate,
Highways (DPWH) had awarded on July 22, 1997 having been fully aware of the illegality and
the contract for the improvement of the Sadsadan- ineffectuality of the deed of assignment from the
Maba-ay Section of the Mountain Province-Benguet time of its execution, could not go to court with
Road in the total amount of 7 014 963 33 to his unclean hands to invoke any right based on the
company, Gonzalo Construction,1 petitioner invalid deed of assignment or on the product of
Domingo Gonzalo (Gonzalo) subcontracted to such deed of assignment.7
respondent John Tarnate, Jr. (Tarnate) on October
15, 1997, the supply of materials and labor for the Ruling of the RTC
project under the latter s business known as JNT
Aggregates. Their agreement stipulated, among On January 26, 2001, the RTC, opining that the
others, that Tarnate would pay to Gonzalo eight deed of assignment was a valid and binding
percent and four percent of the contract price, contract, and that Gonzalo must comply with his
respectively, upon Tarnate s first and second billing obligations under the deed of assignment, rendered
in the project.2 judgment in favor of Tarnate as follows:

In furtherance of their agreement, Gonzalo WHEREFORE, premises considered and as prayed


executed on April 6, 1999 a deed of assignment for by the plaintiff, John Tarnate, Jr. in his
whereby he, as the contractor, was assigning to Complaint for Sum of Money, Breach of Contract
Tarnate an amount equivalent to 10% of the total With Damages is hereby RENDERED in his favor
collection from the DPWH for the project. This 10% and against the above-named defendant Domingo
retention fee (equivalent to P233,526.13) was the Gonzalo, the Court now hereby orders as follows:
rent for Tarnates equipment that had been utilized
in the project. In the deed of assignment, Gonzalo 1. Defendant Domingo Gonzalo to pay the
further authorized Tarnate to use the official receipt Plaintiff, John Tarnate, Jr., the amount of
of Gonzalo Construction in the processing of the TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE
documents relative to the collection of the 10% THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY
retention fee and in encashing the check to be SIX and 13/100 PESOS (P233,526.13)
issued by the DPWH for that purpose.3 The deed of representing the rental of equipment;
assignment was submitted to the DPWH on April
15, 1999. During the processing of the documents 2. Defendant to pay Plaintiff the sum of
for the retention fee, however, Tarnate learned that THIRTY THOUSAND (P30,000.00) PESOS
Gonzalo had unilaterally rescinded the deed of by way of reasonable Attorneys Fees for
assignment by means of an affidavit of cancellation having forced/compelled the plaintiff to
of deed of assignment dated April 19, 1999 filed in litigate and engage the services of a lawyer
the DPWH on April 22, 1999;4 and that the in order to protect his interest and to enforce
disbursement voucher for the 10% retention fee his right. The claim of the plaintiff for
had then been issued in the name of Gonzalo, and attorneys fees in the amount of FIFTY
the retention fee released to him.5 THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) plus
THREE THOUSAND PESOS (P3,000.00)
Tarnate demanded the payment of the retention fee clearly appears to be unconscionable and
from Gonzalo, but to no avail. Thus, he brought this therefore reduced to Thirty Thousand Pesos
suit against Gonzalo on September 13, 1999 in the (P30,000.00) as aforestated making the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Mountain Province to same to be reasonable;
recover the retention fee of P233,526.13, moral and
exemplary damages for breach of contract, and 3. Defendant to pay Plaintiff the sum of
attorneys fees.6 FIFTEEN THOUSAND PESOS
(P15,000.00) by way of litigation expenses;
4. Defendant to pay Plaintiff the sum of Gonzalo submits in support of his contentions that
TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS the subcontract and the deed of assignment, being
(P20,000.00) for moral damages and for the specifically prohibited by law, had no force and
breach of contract; and effect; that upon finding both him and Tarnate guilty
of violating the law for executing the subcontract,
5. To pay the cost of this suit. the RTC and the CA should have applied the rule of
in pari delicto, to the effect that the law should not
Award of exemplary damages in the instant case is aid either party to enforce the illegal contract but
not warranted for there is no showing that the should leave them where it found them; and that it
defendant acted in a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, was erroneous to accord to the parties relief from
oppressive or malevolent manner analogous to the their predicament.11
case of Xentrex Automotive, Inc. vs. Court of
Appeals, 291 SCRA 66.8 Ruling

Gonzalo appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA). We deny the petition for review, but we delete the
grant of moral damages, attorneys fees and
Decision of the CA litigation expenses.

On February 18, 2003, the CA affirmed the RTC.9 There is no question that every contractor is
prohibited from subcontracting with or assigning to
Although holding that the subcontract was an illegal another person any contract or project that he has
agreement due to its object being specifically with the DPWH unless the DPWH Secretary has
prohibited by Section 6 of Presidential Decree No. approved the subcontracting or assignment. This is
1594; that Gonzalo and Tarnate were guilty of pursuant to Section 6 of Presidential Decree No.
entering into the illegal contract in violation of 1594, which provides:
Section 6 of Presidential Decree No. 1594; and that
the deed of assignment, being a product of and Section 6. Assignment and Subcontract. The
dependent on the subcontract, was also illegal and contractor shall not assign, transfer, pledge,
unenforceable, the CA did not apply the doctrine of subcontract or make any other disposition of the
in pari delicto, explaining that the doctrine applied contract or any part or interest therein except with
only if the fault of one party was more or less the approval of the Minister of Public Works,
equivalent to the fault of the other party. It found Transportation and Communications, the Minister
Gonzalo to be more guilty than Tarnate, whose guilt of Public Highways, or the Minister of Energy, as
had been limited to the execution of the two illegal the case may be. Approval of the subcontract shall
contracts while Gonzalo had gone to the extent of not relieve the main contractor from any liability or
violating the deed of assignment. It declared that obligation under his contract with the Government
the crediting of the 10% retention fee equivalent nor shall it create any contractual relation between
to P233,256.13 to his account had unjustly the subcontractor and the Government.
enriched Gonzalo; and ruled, accordingly, that
Gonzalo should reimburse Tarnate in that amount Gonzalo, who was the sole contractor of the project
because the latters equipment had been utilized in in question, subcontracted the implementation of
the project. the project to Tarnate in violation of the statutory
prohibition. Their subcontract was illegal, therefore,
Upon denial of his motion for because it did not bear the approval of the DPWH
reconsideration,10 Gonzalo has now come to the Secretary. Necessarily, the deed of assignment
Court to seek the review and reversal of the was also illegal, because it sprung from the
decision of the CA. subcontract. As aptly observed by the CA:

Issues x x x. The intention of the parties in executing the


Deed of Assignment was merely to cover up the
Gonzalo contends that the CA erred in affirming the illegality of the sub-contract agreement. They knew
RTC because: (1) both parties were in pari delicto; for a fact that the DPWH will not allow plaintiff-
(2) the deed of assignment was void; and (3) there appellee to claim in his own name under the Sub-
was no compliance with the arbitration clause in the Contract Agreement.
subcontract.
Obviously, without the Sub-Contract Agreement Nonetheless, the application of the doctrine of in
there will be no Deed of Assignment to speak of. pari delicto is not always rigid.1wphi1 An accepted
The illegality of the Sub-Contract Agreement exception arises when its application contravenes
necessarily affects the Deed of Assignment well-established public policy.18 In this jurisdiction,
because the rule is that an illegal agreement cannot public policy has been defined as "that principle of
give birth to a valid contract. To rule otherwise is to the law which holds that no subject or citizen can
sanction the act of entering into transaction the lawfully do that which has a tendency to be
object of which is expressly prohibited by law and injurious to the public or against the public good."19
thereafter execute an apparently valid contract to
subterfuge the illegality. The legal proscription in Unjust enrichment exists, according to Hulst v. PR
such an instance will be easily rendered nugatory Builders, Inc.,20 "when a person unjustly retains a
and meaningless to the prejudice of the general benefit at the loss of another, or when a person
public.12 retains money or property of another against the
fundamental principles of justice, equity and good
Under Article 1409 (1) of the Civil Code, a contract conscience." The prevention of unjust enrichment is
whose cause, object or purpose is contrary to law is a recognized public policy of the State, for Article
a void or inexistent contract. As such, a void 22 of the Civil Code explicitly provides that "[e]very
contract cannot produce a valid one.13 To the same person who through an act of performance by
effect is Article 1422 of the Civil Code, which another, or any other means, acquires or comes
declares that "a contract, which is the direct result into possession of something at the expense of the
of a previous illegal contract, is also void and latter without just or legal ground, shall return the
inexistent." same to him." It is well to note that Article 22 "is
part of the chapter of the Civil Code on Human
We do not concur with the CAs finding that the guilt Relations, the provisions of which were formulated
of Tarnate for violation of Section 6 of Presidential as basic principles to be observed for the rightful
Decree No. 1594 was lesser than that of Gonzalo, relationship between human beings and for the
for, as the CA itself observed, Tarnate had stability of the social order; designed to indicate
voluntarily entered into the agreements with certain norms that spring from the fountain of good
Gonzalo.14 Tarnate also admitted that he did not conscience; guides for human conduct that should
participate in the bidding for the project because he run as golden threads through society to the end
knew that he was not authorized to contract with that law may approach its supreme ideal which is
the DPWH.15 Given that Tarnate was a the sway and dominance of justice."21
businessman who had represented himself in the
subcontract as "being financially and There is no question that Tarnate provided the
organizationally sound and established, with the equipment, labor and materials for the project in
necessary personnel and equipment for the compliance with his obligations under the
performance of the project,"16 he justifiably subcontract and the deed of assignment; and that it
presumed to be aware of the illegality of his was Gonzalo as the contractor who received the
agreements with Gonzalo. For these reasons, payment for his contract with the DPWH as well as
Tarnate was not less guilty than Gonzalo. the 10% retention fee that should have been paid to
Tarnate pursuant to the deed of
According to Article 1412 (1) of the Civil Code, the assignment.22 Considering that Gonzalo refused
guilty parties to an illegal contract cannot recover despite demands to deliver to Tarnate the
from one another and are not entitled to an stipulated 10% retention fee that would have
affirmative relief because they are in pari delicto or compensated the latter for the use of his equipment
in equal fault. The doctrine of in pari delicto is a in the project, Gonzalo would be unjustly enriched
universal doctrine that holds that no action arises, at the expense of Tarnate if the latter was to be
in equity or at law, from an illegal contract; no suit barred from recovering because of the rigid
can be maintained for its specific performance, or application of the doctrine of in pari delicto. The
to recover the property agreed to be sold or prevention of unjust enrichment called for the
delivered, or the money agreed to be paid, or exception to apply in Tarnates favor.
damages for its violation; and where the parties are Consequently, the RTC and the CA properly
in pari delicto, no affirmative relief of any kind will adjudged Gonzalo liable to pay Tarnate the
be given to one against the other.17 equivalent amount of the 10% retention fee
(i.e., P233,526.13).
Gonzalo sought to justify his refusal to turn over
the P233,526.13 to Tarnate by insisting that he
(Gonzalo) had a debt of P200,000.00 to
Congressman Victor Dominguez; that his payment
of the 10% retention fee to Tarnate was conditioned
on Tarnate paying that debt to Congressman
Dominguez; and that he refused to give the 10%
retention fee to Tarnate because Tarnate did not
pay to Congressman Dominguez.23 His justification
was unpersuasive, however, because, firstly,
Gonzalo presented no proof of the debt to
Congressman Dominguez; secondly, he did not
competently establish the agreement on the
condition that supposedly bound Tarnate to pay to
Congressman Dominguez;24 and, thirdly, burdening
Tarnate with Gonzalos personal debt to
Congressman Dominguez to be paid first by
Tarnate would constitute another case of unjust
enrichment.

The Court regards the grant of moral damages,


attorneys fees and litigation expenses to Tarnate to
be inappropriate. We have ruled that no damages
may be recovered under a void contract, which,
being nonexistent, produces no juridical tie
between the parties involved.25 It is notable, too,
that the RTC and the CA did not spell out the
sufficient factual and legal justifications for such
damages to be granted.

Lastly, the letter and spirit of Article 22 of the Civil


Code command Gonzalo to make a full reparation
or compensation to Tarnate. The illegality of their
contract should not be allowed to deprive Tarnate
from being fully compensated through the
imposition of legal interest. Towards that end,
interest of 6% per annum reckoned from
September 13, 1999, the time of the judicial
demand by Tarnate, is imposed on the amount
of P233,526.13. Not to afford this relief will make a
travesty of the justice to which Tarnate was entitled
for having suffered too long from Gonzalos unjust
enrichment.

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the decision


promulgated on February 18, 2003, but DELETE
the awards of moral damages, attorneys fees and
litigation expenses; IMPOSE legal interest of 6%
per annum on the principal oLP233,526.13 JEROME CASTRO, G.R. No. 180832
reckoned from September 13, 1999; and DIRECT Petitioner,
the petitioner to pay the costs of suit. P
resent:
SO ORDERED.
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,
- v e r s u s - CORONA,
AZCUNA and
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, JJ. Code[4] against RIS. He alleged that the dismissal of
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondent. Promulgated: his son was undertaken with malice, bad faith and

July 23, 2008 evident premeditation. After investigation, the Dep-

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Ed found that RIS code violation point system


--------------x
allowed the summary imposition of unreasonable
RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.: sanctions (which had no basis in fact and in law).

The system therefore violated due process. Hence,

This petition for review on certiorari[1] emanated from the Dep-Ed nullified it. [5]

the complaint for grave oral defamation[2] filed by


Meanwhile, on November 20, 2002, the Dep-
Albert P. Tan against petitioner Jerome Castro.
Ed ordered RIS to readmit Justin Albert without any

The facts follow. condition.[6]Thus, he was able to graduate from RIS

and participate in the commencement ceremonies


On November 11, 2002, Reedley
held on March 30, 2003.
International School (RIS) dismissed Tans son,
After the graduation ceremonies, Tan met
Justin Albert (then a Grade 12 student), for violating
Bernice C. Ching, a fellow parent at RIS. In the
the terms of his disciplinary probation.[3] Upon Tans
course of their conversation, Tan intimated that he
request, RIS reconsidered its decision but imposed
was contemplating a suit against the officers of RIS
non-appealable conditions such as excluding Justin
in their personal capacities, including petitioner who
Albert from participating in the graduation
was the assistant headmaster.
ceremonies.
Ching telephoned petitioner sometime the

Aggrieved, Tan filed a complaint in the first week of April and told him that Tan was planning

Department of Education (Dep-Ed) for violation of to sue the officers of RIS in their personal capacities.

the Manual of Regulation of Private Schools, Before they hung up, petitioner told Ching:

Education Act of 1982 and Article 19 of the Civil


Okay, you too, take care and be
careful talking to [Tan], thats Petitioner pleaded not guilty during
dangerous.
arraignment.

Ching then called Tan and informed him that The prosecution essentially tried to establish

petitioner said talking to him was dangerous. that petitioner depicted Tan as a dangerous person.

Ching testified that petitioner warned her that talking


Insulted, Tan filed a complaint for grave oral
to Tan was dangerous. Tan, on the other hand,
defamation in the Office of the City Prosecutor of
testified that petitioners statement shocked him as it
Mandaluyong City against petitioner on August 21,
portrayed him as someone capable of committing
2003.
undesirable acts. He added that petitioner probably
On November 3, 2003, petitioner was charged with
took offense because of the complaint he filed
grave oral defamation in the Metropolitan Trial Court
against RIS in the Dep-Ed.
(MeTC) of Mandaluyong City, Branch 60[7] under the
For his defense, petitioner denied harboring
following Information:

That on or about the 13th day ill-feelings against Tan despite the latters complaint
of March, 2003 in the City of
Mandaluyong, Philippines, a place against RIS in the Dep-Ed. Although he admitted
within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named conversing with Ching (whom he considered as a
[petitioner], with deliberate intent of
bringing ATTY. ALBERT P. TAN, into
close acquaintance) on the telephone a few days
discredit, dishonor, disrepute and
contempt, did then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously after RIS 2003 commencement exercises, petitioner
speak and utter the following words
to Ms. Bernice C. Ching: asserted that he never said or insinuated that Tan or
OK, YOU TOO, YOU
TAKE CARE AND BE talking to Tan was dangerous. On cross-
CAREFUL TALKING
TO [TAN], THATS
DANGEROUS. examination, however, he did not categorically deny

and other words of similar import of a the veracity of Chings statement.


serious and insulting nature.

CONTRARY TO LAW. The MeTC found that Chings statements in

her affidavit and in open court were consistent and


that she did not have any motive to fabricate a false 21, 2003 (or almost five months from discovery), the

statement. Petitioner, on the other hand, harbored RTC ruled that prescription had already set in; it

personal resentment, aversion and ill-will against therefore acquitted petitioner on that ground. [9]

Tan since the Dep-Ed compelled RIS to readmit his


On April 19, 2007, the Office of the Solicitor
son. Thus, the MeTC was convinced that petitioner
General (OSG) filed a petition for certiorari in the
told Ching talking to Tan was dangerous and that he
Court of Appeals (CA) assailing the decision of the
uttered the statement with the intention to insult Tan
RTC.[10] It contended that the RTC acted with grave
and tarnish his social and professional reputation.
abuse of discretion when it downgraded petitioners

In a decision dated December 27, 2005, the offense to slight oral defamation. The RTC allegedly

MeTC found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable misappreciated the antecedents which provoked

doubt of grave oral defamation:[8] petitioner to utter the allegedly defamatory

WHEREFORE, judgment is statement against Tan.


hereby rendered finding accused,
Jerome Castro GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of
Grave Oral Defamation, sentencing The CA found that the RTC committed grave
him therefore, in accordance to
Article 358(1) of the Revised Penal abuse of discretion when it misapprehended the
Code and applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law to suffer the penalty of totality of the circumstances and found petitioner
imprisonment of 1 month and 1 day
of arresto mayoras minimum to 4
guilty only of slight oral defamation. Thus, the CA
months and 1 day of arresto
mayor as maximum.
reinstated the MeTC decision.[11]

On appeal, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) affirmed Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it

the factual findings of the MeTC. However, in view was denied.[12] Hence, this recourse.

of the animosity between the parties, it found


Petitioner basically contends that the CA
petitioner guilty only of slight oral defamation. But
erred in taking cognizance of the petition for
because Tan filed his complaint in the Office of the
certiorari inasmuch as the OSG raised errors of
City Prosecutor of Mandaluyong City only on August
judgment (i.e., that the RTC misappreciated the (3) after arraignment (4) when a valid plea has been

evidence presented by the parties) but failed to entered and (5) when the accused was acquitted or

prove that the RTC committed grave abuse of convicted or the case was dismissed or otherwise

discretion. Thus, double jeopardy attached when the terminated without the express consent of the

RTC acquitted him. accused.[14] Thus, an acquittal, whether ordered by

the trial or appellate court, is final and unappealable


We grant the petition.
on the ground of double jeopardy.[15]

No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of


The only exception is when the trial court
[13]
punishment for the same offense. This
acted with grave abuse of discretion or, as we held
constitutional mandate is echoed in Section 7 of
in Galman v. Sandiganbayan,[16] when there was
Rule 117 of the Rules of Court which provides:
mistrial. In such instances, the OSG can assail the
Section 7. Former conviction or
acquittal; double jeopardy. When an
accused has been convicted or said judgment in a petition for certiorari establishing
acquitted or the case against him
dismissed or otherwise terminated that the State was deprived of a fair opportunity to
without his express consent by a
court of competent jurisdiction, upon prosecute and prove its case.[17]
a valid complaint or in information or
other formal charge sufficient in form
and substance to sustain a conviction
The rationale behind this exception is that a
and after the accused had pleaded to
the charge, the conviction or acquittal
of the accused or the dismissal of the judgment rendered by the trial court with grave
case shall be a bar to another
prosecution for the offense charged abuse of discretion was issued without jurisdiction. It
or for any attempt to commit the same
or frustration thereof, or for any is, for this reason, void. Consequently, there is no
offense which necessarily includes or
is necessarily included in the offense
charged in the former complaint or double jeopardy.
information.

xxxxxxxxx In this case, the OSG merely assailed the

RTCs finding on the nature of petitioners statement,


Under this provision, double jeopardy occurs upon
that is, whether it constituted grave or slight oral
(1) a valid indictment (2) before a competent court
defamation. The OSG premised its allegation of
constitute a criminal offense, shall
grave abuse of discretion on the RTCs erroneous produce a cause of action for
damages, prevention and other relief:
evaluation and assessment of the evidence xxxxxxxxx

presented by the parties. (3) Intriguing to cause


another to be
alienated from his
What the OSG therefore questioned were friends;

xxxxxxxxx
errors of judgment (or those involving

misappreciation of evidence or errors of


Petitioner is reminded that, as an educator,
law). However, a court, in a petition for certiorari,
he is supposed to be a role model for the youth. As
cannot review the public respondents evaluation of
such, he should always act with justice, give
the evidence and factual findings.[18] Errors of
everyone his due and observe honesty and good
judgment cannot be raised in a Rule 65 petition as a
faith.[22]
writ of certiorari can only correct errors of jurisdiction

(or those involving the commission of grave abuse WHEREFORE, the petition is

of discretion).[19] hereby GRANTED. The August 29, 2007 decision

and December 5, 2007 resolution of the Court of


Because the OSG did not raise errors of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 98649
jurisdiction, the CA erred in taking cognizance of its
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The November
petition and, worse, in reviewing the factual findings
20, 2006 decision of the Regional Trial Court of
of the RTC.[20] We therefore reinstate the RTC
Mandaluyong City, Branch 212 is REINSTATED.
decision so as not to offend the constitutional
Petitioner Jerome Castro is ACQUITTED of slight
prohibition against double jeopardy.
oral defamation as defined and penalized in Article
At most, petitioner could have been liable for
358 of the Revised Penal Code.
damages under Article 26 of the Civil Code[21]:

Article 26. Every person shall respect


No pronouncement as to costs.
the dignity, personality, privacy and
peace of mind of his neighbors and
other persons. The following and
similar acts, though they may not
JOSE B. LEDESMA, petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, Spouses PACIFICO
DELMO and SANCHA DELMO (as private
respondents), respondents.

This petition seeks to reverse the decision of the


respondent Court of Appeals which afirmed the
decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo,
adjudging the petitioner, who was then the
President of the West Visayas College liable for
damages under Article 27 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines for failure to graduate a student with
honors.

The facts are not disputed.


An organization named Student Leadership Club the Club had no valid constitution
was formed by some students of the West Visayas and By-Laws and that as a
College. They elected the late Violets Delmo as the consequence, Resolution No. 2
treasurer. In that capacity, Delmo extended loans which was passed based on the
from the funds of the club to some of the students Constitution and By-Laws- is without
of the school. "the petitioner claims that the said act any force and effect and the
of extending loans was against school rules and treasurer, Violeta Delmo, who
regulations. Thus, the petitioner, as President of the extended loans to some officers and
School, sent a letter to Delmo informing her that members of the Club pursuant
she was being dropped from the membership of the thereto are illegal (sic), hence, she
club and that she would not be a candidate for any and the other students involved are
award or citation from the school. deemed guilty of misappropriating
the funds of the Club. On the other
Delmo asked for a reconsideration of the decision hand, Raclito Castaneda, Nestor
but the petitioner denied it. Delmo, thus, appealed Golez and Violeta Delmo, President,
to the Office of the Director of the Bureau of Public Secretary and Treasurer of the Club,
Schools. respectively, testified that the Club
had adopted its Constitution and By-
The Director after due investigation, rendered a Laws in a meeting held last October
decison on April 13, 1966 which provided: 3, 1965, and that pursuant to Article
I of said Constitution and By-Laws,
Records of the preliminary the majority of the members of the
investigation conducted by one of Executive Board passed Resolution
the legal officers of this Office No. 2, which resolution became the
disclosed the following: That Violeta basis for the extension on of loans to
Delmo was the treasurer of the some officers and members of the
Student Leadership Club, an Club, that the Club honestly believed
exclusive student organization; that that its Constitution and By-Laws
pursuant to Article IX of the of the has been approved by the
Constitution and By-Laws of the superintendent because the adviser
club, it passed Resolution No. 2, of the Club, Mr. Jesse Dagoon,
authorizing the treasurer to disburse assured the President of the Club
funds of the Club to student for that he will cause the approval of the
financial aid and other humanitarian Constitution and By-Laws by the
purposes; that in compliance with Superintendent; the officers of the
said resolution and as treasurer of Club have been inducted to office on
the Club, Violeta Delmo extended October 9,1965 by the
loans to some officers and members Superintendent and that the Club
of the Club upon proper application had been likewise allowed to
duly approved by the majority of the cosponsor the Education Week
members of the Executive Board; Celebration.
and that upon receiving the report
from Mr. Jesse Dagoon, adviser of After a careful study of the records,
the funds of the Club, that Office this Office sustains the action taken
conducted an investigation on the by the Superintendent in penalizing
matter and having been convinced the adviser of the Club as well as the
of the guilt of Violets Delmo and the officers and members thereof by
other officers and members of the dropping them from membership
Club, that Office rendered the order therein. However, this Office is
or decision in question. In justifying convinced that Violets M. Delmo had
that Office's order or decision, it is acted in good faith, in her capacity
contended that approval by that as Club Treasurer, in extending
Office of the Constitution and By- loans to the officers and members of
Laws of the Club is necessary for its the Student partnership Club.
effectivity and validity and since it Resolution No. 2 authorizing the
was never submitted to that Office, Club treasurer to discharge finds to
students in need of financial telegram as ordering him to also send the decision
assistance and other humanitarian back. On the same day, he returned by mail all the
purposes had been approved by the records plus the decision of the Director to the
Club adviser, Mr. Jesse Dagoon, Bureau of Public Schools.
with the notation that approval was
given in his capacity as adviser of The next day, the petitioner received another
the Club and extension of the telegram from the Director order him to furnish
Superintendent's personality. Aside Delmo with a copy of the decision. The petitioner, in
from misleading the officers and turn, sent a night letter to the Director informing the
members of the Club, Mr. Dagoon, latter that he had sent the decision back and that
had unsatisfactorily explained why he had not retained a copy thereof..
he failed to give the Constitution and
By-Laws of the Club to the On May 3, 1966, the day of the graduation, the
Superintendent for approval despite petitioner received another telegram from the
his assurance to the Club president Director ordering him not to deprive Delmo of any
that he would do so. With this finding honors due her. As it was impossible by this time to
of negligence on the part of the Club include Delmo's name in the program as one of the
adviser, not to mention laxity in the honor students, the petitioner let her graduate as a
performance of his duties as such, plain student instead of being awarded the Latin
this Office considers as too severe honor of Magna Cum Laude.
and unwarranted that portion of the
questioned order stating that Violeta To delay the matter further, the petitioner on May 5,
Delmo "shall not be a candidate for 1966, wrote the Director for a reconsideration of the
any award or citation from this latters" decision because he believed that Delmo
school or any organization in this should not be allowed to graduate with honors. The
school." Violeta Delmo, it is noted, Director denied the petitioner's request.
has been a consistent full scholar of
the school and she alone has On July 12, 1966, the petitioner finally instructed
maintained her scholarship. The the Registrar of the school to enter into the
decision in question would, scholastic records of Delmo the honor, "Magna
therefore, set at naught all her Cum Laude."
sacrifice and frustrate her dreams of
graduating with honors in this year's
On July 30, 1966, Delmo, then a minor, was joined
commencement exercises.
by her parents in flag action for damages against
the petitioner. During the pendency of the action,
In view of all the foregoing, this however, Delmo passed away, and thus, an
Office believes and so holds and Amended and Supplemental Complaint was filed by
hereby directs that appellant Violeta. her parents as her sole and only heirs.
M. Delmo, and for that matter all
other Club members or officers
The trial court after hearing rendered judgment
involved in this case, be not
against the petitioner and in favor of the spouses
deprived of any award, citation or
Delmo. The court said:
honor from the school, if they are
otherwise entitled thereto. (Rollo, pp.
28-30) Let us go to specific badges of the
defendants (now petitioners) bad
faith. Per investigation of Violeta
On April 27, 1966, the petitioner received by mail
Delmo's appeal to Director Vitaliano
the decision of the Director and all the records of
Bernardino of the Bureau of Public
the case. On the same day, petitioner received a
Schools (Exhibit L it was the
telegram stating the following:
defendant who inducted the officers
of the Student Leadership Club on
"AIRMAIL RECORDS DELMO October 9, 1965. In fact the Club
CASE MISSENT THAT OFFICE" was allowed to cosponsor the
Education Week Celebration. (Exh.
The Director asked for the return only of the "L"). If the defendant he not approve
records but the petitioner allegedly mistook the of the constitution and by-laws of the
Club, why did he induct the officers Violeta Delmo copy of the Decision,
into office and allow the Club to Exh. "L," but instead of informing
sponsor the Education Week Miss Delmo about the decision,
Celebration"? It was through his own since he said he mailed back the
act that the students were misled to decision on April 28,1966, he sent a
do as they did. Coupled with the night letter on April 29,1966, to
defendants tacit recognition of the Director Bernardino, informing the
Club was the assurance of Mr. latter that he had returned the
Jemm Dagoon, Club Adviser, who decision (Exh. "l3"), together with the
made the students believe that he record. Why a night letter when the
was acting as an extension of Mr. matter was of utmost urgency to the
Ledesma's personality. (Exhibit "L"). parties in the case, because
graduation day was only four days
Another badge of the defendan'ts ahead? An examination of the
want of good faith is the fact that, telegrams sent by the defendant
although, he kaew as early as April shows that he had been sending
27,1966 that per on of r Bernardino, ordinary telegram and not night
Exhibit "L," he was directed to give letters. (Exh. "5", Exhibit "7"). At
honors to Miss Delmo, he kept Id least, if the defendant could not
information to . He told the Court furnish a copy of the decision, (Exh.
that he knew that the letter of "L"), to Miss Delmo, he should have
Director Bernardino directed him not told her about it or that Miss Delmo's
to deprive Miss Delmo the honors honors and citation in the
due her, but she (sic) says that he commencement be announced or
has not finished reading the letter- indicated. But Mr. Ledesma is one
decision, Exhibit "L," of Director who cannot admit a mistake. Very
Bernardino 0, him to give honors to ungentlemanly this is home out by
Miss Delmo. (Tsn, Feb. 5, 1974, his own testimony despite his
testimony of Mr. Ledesma, pp. .33- knowledge that his decision to
35). It could not be true that he has deprive Miss Delmo of honors due to
not finished reading the letter- her was overturned by Director
decision, Exh. "L," because said Bernardino, he on his wrong belief.
letter consisted of only three pages, To quote the defendant,1 believed
and the portion which directed that that she did not deserve those
Miss Delmo "be not deprived of any honors(Tsn Feb. 5, 1974, p.
award, citation or honor from the 43,Empasized supplied). Despite the
school, if otherwise entitled thereto telegram of Director Bernardino
is found at the last paragraph of the which the defendant received hours
same. How did he know the last before the commencement
paragraph if he did not read the executory on May 3-4,1966, he did
letter. not obey Director Bernardino
because he said in his testimony
Defendants actuations regarding that he would be embarrassment .
Miss Delmo's cam had been one of Tan Feb 5,1974, P. 46). Evidently,
bias and prejudice. When his action he knew only his embarrassment
would favor him, he was deliberate and not that of r Bernardino whose
and aspect to the utter prejudice and order was being flagrantly and
detriment of Miss Delmo. Thus, wantonly disregarded by bim And
although, as early as April 27, 1966, certainly, not the least of Miss
he knew of the exoneration of Miss Delmo's embarrassment. His acts
Delino by Director Bernardino, he speak eloquently of ho bad faith and
withheld the information from Miss unjust of mindwarped by his delicate
Delmo. This is eloquently sensitivity for having been
dramatized by Exh. "11" and Exh. challenged by Miss Delmo, a mere
"13" On April 29,1966, Director student.
Bernardino cabled him to furnish
xxx xxx xxx even though he sent it back with the records of the
case, he undoubtedly read the whole of it which
Finally the defendant's behaviour consisted of only three pages. Moreover, the
relative to Miss s case smacks of petitioner should have had the decency to meet
contemptuous arrogance, with Mr. Delmo, the girl's father, and inform the
oppression and abuse of power. latter, at the very least of the decision. This, the
Come to think of it. He refused to petitioner likewise failed to do, and not without the
obey the directive of Be o and attendant bad faith which the appellate court
instead, chose to feign ignorance of correctly pointed out in its decision, to wit:
it." (Reward on Appeal, p. 72-76).
Third, assuming that defendant
The trial court awarded P20,000.00 to the estate of could not furnish Miss Delmo of a
Violeta Delmo and P10,000.00 to her parents for copy of the decision, he could have
moral damages; P5,000.00 for nominal damages to used his discretion and plain
Violeta's estate; exemplary damages of P10,000.00 common sense by informing her
and P2,000.00 attorney's fees. about it or he could have directed
the inclusion of Miss Delmo's honor
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the in the printed commencement
decision. Hence, this petition. program or announced it during the
commencement exercises.
The issues raised in this petition can be reduced to
the sole question of whether or not the respondent Fourth, defendant despite receipt of
Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial court's the telegram of Director Benardino
finding that petitioner is liable for damages under hours before the commencement
Article 27 of the New Civil Code. exercises on May 3-4, 1966,
disobeyed his superior by refusing to
We find no reason why the findings of the trial and give the honors due Miss Delmo with
appellate courts should be reversed. It cannot be a lame excuse that he would be
disputed that Violeta Delmo went through a painful embarrassed if he did so, to the
ordeal which was brought about by the petitioner's prejudice of and in complete
neglect of duty and callousness. Thus, moral disregard of Miss Delmo's rights.
damages are but proper. As we have affirmed in
the case of (Prudenciado v. Alliance Transport Fifth, defendant did not even extend
System, Inc., 148 SCRA 440, 448): the courtesy of meeting Mr. Pacifico
Delmo, father of Miss Delmo, who
There is no argument that moral tried several times to see defendant
damages include physical suffering, in his office thus Mr. Delmo suffered
mental anguish, fright, serious extreme disappointment and
anxiety, besmirched reputation, humiliation.
wounded feelings, moral shock,
social humiliation, and similar injury. xxx xxx xxx
Though incapable of pecuniary
computation, moral damages may Defendant, being a public officer
be recovered if they are the should have acted with
proximate result of defendant's circumspection and due regard to
wrongly act or omission." (People v. the rights of Miss Delmo. Inasmuch
Baylon, 129 SCRA 62 (1984). as he exceeded the scope of his
authority by defiantly disobeying the
The Solicitor-General tries to cover-up the lawful directive of his superior,
petitioner's deliberate omission to inform Miss Director Bernardino, defendant is
Delmo by stating that it was not the duty of the liable for damages in his personal
petitioner to furnish her a copy of the Director's capacity. . . . (Rollo, pp- 57-58)
decision. Granting this to be true, it was
nevertheless the petitioner's duty to enforce the Based on the undisputed facts, exemplary
said decision. He could have done so considering damages are also in order. In the same case
that he received the decision on April 27, 1966 and
of Prudenciado v. Alliance Transport System,
Inc., supra., at p. 450, we ruled:

The rationale behind exemplary or


corrective damages is, as the name
implies, to provide an example or
correction for the public good
(Lopez, et al. v. Pan American World
Airways, 16 SCRA 431).

However, we do not deem it


appropriate to award the spouses
Delmo damages in the amount of
P10,000.00 in their individual
capacity, separately from and in
addition to what they are already
entitled to as sole heirs of the
deceased Violeta Delmo. Thus, the
decision is modified insofar as moral
damages are awarded to the
spouses in their own behalf.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack


of merit. The decision of the Court of Appeals is
AFFIRMED with the slight modification as stated in
the preceding paragraph. This decision is
immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

.C. No. 8261, March 11, 2015

JESSIE T. CAMPUGAN AND ROBERT C.


TORRES, Complainants, v. ATTY. FEDERICO S.
TOLENTINO, JR., ATTY. RENATO G. CUNANAN,
ATTY. DANIEL F. VICTORIO, JR., AND ATTY.
ELBERT T. QUILALA, Respondents.

A.C. No. 8725

JESSIE T. CAMPUGAN AND ROBERT C.


TORRES, Complainants, v. ATTY. CONSTANTE
P. CALUYA, JR., AND ATTY. ELBERT T.
QUILALA, Respondent.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:
In this consolidated administrative case, settlement, Atty. Victorio, Jr. filed a Motion to
complainants Jessie T. Campugan and Robert C. Withdraw Complaint dated February 26,
Torres seek the disbarment of respondents Atty. 2008,6 which the RTC granted in its order dated
Federico S. Tolentino, Jr., Atty. Daniel F. Victorio, May 16, 2008 upon noting the defendants' lack of
Jr., Atty. Renato G. Cunanan, Atty. Elbert T. Quilala objection thereto and the defendants' willingness to
and Atty. Constante P. Caluya, Jr. for allegedly similarly withdraw their counterclaim.7
falsifying a court order that became the basis for
the cancellation of their annotation of the notice of The complainants alleged that from the time of the
adverse claim and the notice of lis pendens in the issuance by the RTC of the order dated May 16,
Registry of Deeds in Quezon 2008, they could no longer locate or contact Atty.
City.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary Victorio, Jr. despite making several phone calls and
visits to his office; that they found out upon
Antecedents verification at the Register of Deeds of Quezon City
that new annotations were made on TCT No. N-
Atty. Victorio, Jr. had replaced Atty. Edgardo Abad 290546, specifically: (1) the annotation of the letter-
as counsel of the complainants in a civil action they request appearing to be filed by Atty. Tolentino,
brought to seek the annulment of Transfer Jr.8 seeking the cancellation of the affidavit of
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. N-290546 of the adverse claim and the notice of lis
Registry of Deeds of Quezon City in the first week pendens annotated on TCT No. N-290546; and (2)
of January 2007 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) the arinotation of the decision dated May 16, 2008
in Quezon City (Civil Case No. Q-07-59598). They rendered in Civil Case No. Q-07-59598 by the RTC,
impleaded as defendants Ramon and Josefina Branch 95, in Quezon City, granting the
Ricafort, Juliet Vargas and the Register of Deeds of complainants' Motion to Withdraw Complaint;9 and
Quezon City. They caused to be annotated on TCT that a copy of the letter-request dated June 30,
No. N-290546 their affidavit of adverse claim, as 2008 addressed to Atty. Quilala, Registrar of Deeds
well as the notice of lis pendens.1 Atty. Tolentino, of Quezon City, disclosed that it was defendant
Jr. was the counsel of defendant Ramon and Ramon Ricafort who had signed the letter.
Josefina Ricafort.
Feeling aggrieved by their discovery, the
In their sworn complaint for disbarment dated April complainants filed an appeal en consulta with the
23, 2009 (later docketed as A.C. No. 8261),2 the Land Registration Authority (LRA), docketed as
complainants narrated that as the surviving children Consulta No. 4707, assailing the unlawful
of the late Spouses Antonio and Nemesia Torres, cancellation of their notice of adverse claim and
they inherited upon the deaths of their parents a their notice of lis pendens under primary entries
residential lot located at No. 251 Boni Serrano PE-2742 and PE-3828-9, respectively. The LRA set
Street, Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City registered Consulta No. 4707 for hearing on March 30, 2009,
under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. RT- and directed the parties to submit their respective
64333(35652) of the Register of Deeds of Quezon memoranda and/or supporting documents on or
City;3 that on August 24, 2006, they discovered that before such scheduled hearing.10 However, the
TCT No. RT-64333(35652) had been unlawfully records do not disclose whether Consulta No. 4707
cancelled and replaced by TCT No. N-290546 of was already resolved, or remained pending at the
the Register of Deeds of Quezon City under the LRA.
names of Ramon and Josefina Ricafort;4 and that,
accordingly, they immediately caused the Unable to receive any response or assistance from
annotation of their affidavit of adverse claim on TCT Atty. Victorio, Jr. despite their having paid him for
No. N-290546. his professional services, the complainants felt that
said counsel had abandoned their case. They
It appears that the parties entered into an amicable submitted that the cancellation of their notice of
settlement during the pendency of Civil Case No. adverse claim and their notice of lis
Q-07-59598 in order to end their dispute,5 whereby pendens without a court order specifically allowing
the complainants agreed to sell the property and such cancellation resulted from the connivance and
the proceeds thereof would be equally divided conspiracy between Atty. Victorio, Jr. and Atty.
between the parties, and the complaint and Tolentino, Jr., and from the taking advantage of
counterclaim would be withdrawn respectively by their positions as officials in the Registry of Deeds
the complainants (as the plaintiffs) and the by respondents Atty. Quilala, the Chief Registrar,
defendants. Pursuant to the terms of the amicable and Atty. Cunanan, the acting Registrar and
signatory of the new annotations. Thus, they involvement in the proceedings in the case.
claimed to be thereby prejudiced.
Atty. Cunanan did not file any comment.15
On July 6, 2009, the Court required the
respondents to comment on the verified As the result of Atty. Quilala's allegation in his
complaint.11 Comment in A.C. No. 8261 that it had been Atty.
Caluya, Jr.'s signature that appeared below the
Atty. Victorio, Jr. asserted in his Comment dated cancelled entries, the complainants filed another
August 17, 200912 that complainant Robert Torres sworn disbarment complaint dated August 26, 2010
had been actively involved in the proceedings in alleging that Atty. Caluya, Jr. had forged the
Civil Case No. Q-07-59598, which included the signature of Atty. Cunanan.16 This disbarment
mediation process; that the complainants, after complaint was docketed as A.C. No. 8725, and was
having aggressively participated in the drafting of later on consolidated with A.C. No. 826117 because
the amicable settlement, could not now claim that the complaints involved the same parties and
they had been deceived into entering the rested on similar allegations against the
agreement in the same way that they could not respondents.
feign ignorance of the conditions contained therein;
that he did not commit any abandonment as Atty. Quilala filed his Comment in A.C. No. 8725 to
alleged, but had performed in good faith his duties belie the allegation of forgery and to reiterate the
as the counsel for the complainants in Civil Case arguments he had made in A.C. No. 8261.18 On his
No. Q-07-59598; that he should not be held part, Atty. Caluya, Jr. manifested that he adopted
responsible for their representation in other Atty. Quilala's Comment.19
proceedings, such as that before the LRA, which
required a separate engagement; and that the only Ruling
payment he had received from the complainants
were those for his appearance fees of P1,000.00 We dismiss the complaints for disbarment for being
for every hearing in the RTC. bereft of merit.

In his Comment dated August 24, 2009,13 Atty. Well entrenched in this jurisdiction is the rule that a
Tolentino, Jr. refuted the charge of conspiracy, lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct
stressing that he was not acquainted with the other committed either in his professional or private
respondents, except Atty. Victorio, Jr. whom he had capacity. The test is whether his conduct shows
met during the hearings in Civil Case No. Q-07- him to be wanting in moral character, honesty,
59598; that although he had notarized the letter- probity, and good demeanor, or whether his
request dated June 30, 2008 of Ramon Ricafort to conduct renders him unworthy to continue as an
the Register of Deeds, he had no knowledge about officer of the Court.20 Verily, Canon 7 of the Code of
how said letter-request had been disposed of by Professional Responsibility mandates all lawyers to
the Register of Deeds; and that the present uphold at all times the dignity and integrity of the
complaint was the second disbarment case filed by Legal Profession. Lawyers are similarly required
the complainants against him with no other motive under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the same Code not to
except to harass and intimidate him. engage in any unlawful, dishonest and immoral or
deceitful conduct. Failure to observe these tenets of
Atty. Quilala stated in his Comment dated the Code of Professional Responsibility exposes
September 1, 200914 that it was Atty. Caluya, Jr., the lawyer to disciplinary sanctions as provided in
another Deputy Register of Deeds, who was the Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, as
actual signing authority of the annotations that amended, viz.:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
resulted in the cancellation of the affidavit of Section 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys
adverse claim and the notice of lis pendens on TCT by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member
No. N-290546; that the cancellation of the of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his
annotations was undertaken in the regular course office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any
of official duty and in the exercise of the ministerial deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in
duty of the Register of Deeds; that no irregularity such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason
occurred or was performed in the cancellation of of his conviction of a crime involving moral
the annotations; and that the Register of Deeds turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is
was impleaded in Civil Case No. Q-07-59598 only required to take before the admission to practice, or
as a nominal party, thereby discounting any for a wilful disobedience appearing as an attorney
for a party to a case without authority so to do. The Atty. Cunanan, and Atty. Caluya, Jr. with respect to
practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of the cancellation of the notice of adverse claim and
gain, either personally or through paid agents or the notice of lis pendens annotated on TCT No. N-
brokers, constitutes malpractice. 290546. Whether or not the RTC order dated May
The complainants' allegations of the respondents' 16, 2008 or the letter-request dated June 30, 2008
acts and omissions are insufficient to establish any had been falsified, fraudulent or invalid was not for
censurable conduct against them. them to determine inasmuch as their duty to
examine documents presented for registration was
Section 10 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 limited only to what appears on the face of the
(Property Registration Decree) enumerates the documents. If, upon their evaluation of the letter-
general duties of the Register of Deeds, as request and the RTC order, they found the same to
follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary be sufficient in law and t]o be in conformity with
Section 10. General functions of Registers of existing requirements, it became obligatory for
Deeds. - x x x them to perform their ministerial duty without
unnecessary delay.24
It shall be the duty of the Register of Deeds
to immediately register an instrument presented Should they be aggrieved by said respondents'
for registration dealing with real or personal performance of duty, complainants were not bereft
property which complies with all the requisites for of any remedy because they could challenge the
registration. He shall see to it that said instrument performance of duty by bringing the matter by way
bears the proper documentary science stamps and of consulta with the LRA, as provided by Section
that the same are properly canceled. If the 11725 of Presidential Decree No. 1529. But, as
instrument is not registrable, he shall forthwith deny enunciated in Gabriel v. Register of Deeds of
registration thereof and inform the presenter of Rizal,26 it was ultimately within the province of a
such denial in writing, stating the ground or reason court of competent jurisdiction to resolve issues
therefor, and advising him of his right to appeal concerning the validity or invalidity of a document
by consulta in accordance with Section 117 of this registered by the Register of Deeds.
Decree. (Emphasis supplied)
The aforementioned duty of the Register of Deeds The complainants charge Atty. Victorio, Jr. and
is ministerial in nature.21 A purely ministerial act or Atty. Tolentino, Jr. with having conspired with each
duty is one that an officer or tribunal performs in a other to guarantee that the parties in Civil Case No.
given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in Q-59598 would enter into the amicable settlement,
obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, and then to cause the cancellation of the affidavit of
without regard to or the exercise of his own adverse claim and notice of lis pendens annotated
judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the on TCT No. N-290546. The complainants further
act done. If the law imposes a duty upon a public fault Atty. Victorio, Jr. with having abandoned their
officer and gives him the right to decide how or cause since the issuance of the RTC of its order
when the duty shall be performed, such duty is dated May 16, 2008.
discretionary, not ministerial. The duty is ministerial
only when its discharge requires neither the The complainants' charges are devoid of
exercise of official discretion nor the exercise of substance.
judgment.22
Although it is not necessary to prove a formal
In Gabriel v. Register of Deeds of Rizal,23 the Court agreement in order to establish conspiracy because
underscores that registration is a merely ministerial conspiracy may be inferred from the circumstances
act of the Register of Deeds, attending the commission of an act, it is
explaining:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary nonetheless essential that conspiracy be
xxx [W]hether the document is invalid, frivolous or established by clear and convincing
intended to harass, is not the duty of a Register of evidence.27 The complainants failed in this regard.
Deeds to decide, but a court of competent Outside of their bare assertions that Atty. Victorio,
jurisdiction, and that it is his concern to see whether Jr. and Atty. Tolentino, Jr. had conspired with each
the documents sought to be registered conform other in order to cause the dismissal of the
with the formal and legal requirements for such complaint and then discharge of the annotations,
documents. they presented no evidence to support their
In view of the foregoing, we find no abuse of allegation of conspiracy. On the contrary, the
authority or irregularity committed by Atty. Quilala, records indicated their own active pjarticipation in
arriving at the amicable settlement with the the complainants had no right to assume that Atty.
defendants in Civil Case No. Q-07-59598. Hence, Victorio, Jr.'s legal representation was indefinite as
they could not now turn their backs on the amicable to extend to his representation of them in the LRA.
settlement that they had themselves entered into. The Law Profession did not burden its members
with the responsibility of indefinite service to the
Even assuming that Atty. Victorio, Jr. and Atty. clients; hence, the rendition of professional services
Tolentino, Jr. initiated ahd participated in the depends on the agreement between the attorney
settlement of the case, there was nothing wrong in and the client. Atty. Victorio, Jr.'s alleged failure to
their doing so. It was actually their obligation as respond to the complainants' calls or visits, or to
lawyers to do so, pursuant to Rule 1.04, Canon 1 of provide them with his whereabouts to enable them
the Code of Professional to have access to him despite the termination of his
Responsibility, viz.:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary engagement in Civil Case No. Q-07-59598 did not
RULE 1.04 - A lawyer shall encourage his clients to equate to abandonment without the credible
avoid, end or settle a controversy if it will admit of a showing that he continued to come under the
fair settlement. professional obligation towards them after the
In fine, the presumption of the validity of the termination of Civil Case No. Q-07-59598.cralawred
amicable settlement of the complainants and the
defendants in Civil Case No. Q-07-59598 WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the baseless
subsisted.28 disbarment complaints against Atty. Federico S.
Tolentino, Jr., Atty. Renato G. Cunanan, Atty.
Anent the complainants' charge of abandonment Daniel F. Victorio, Jr., Atty. Elbert T. Quilala and
against Atty. Victorio, Jr., Rule 18.03 and Rule Atty. Constante P. Caluya, Jr.
18.04, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility are applicable, to SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
CANON 18 - A lawyer shall serve his client with
competence and diligence.

Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal


matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
connection therewith shall render him liable.

Rule 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client informed


of the status of his case and shall respond within a
reasonable time to the client's request for
information.
There is no issue that the complainants engaged
the services of Atty. Victorio, Jr. as their counsel in
Civil Case No. Q-07-59598. Atty. Victorio, Jr. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
served as such counsel. With Atty. Victorio, Jr. vs.
assistance, the complainants obtained a fair ROGELIO BAYOTAS y CORDOVA, accused-
settlement consisting in receiving half of the appellant.
proceeds of the sale of the property in litis, without
any portion of the proceeds accruing to counsel as The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
his legal fees. The complainants did not
competently and persuasively show any Public Attorney's Office for accused-appellant.
unfaithfulness on the part of Atty. Victorio, Jr. as far
as their interest in the litigation was concerned.
Hence, Atty. Victorio, Jr. was not liable for
abandonment. ROMERO, J.:
Atty. Victorio, Jr. could not be faulted for the
In Criminal Case No. C-3217 filed before Branch
perceived inattention to any other matters
16, RTC Roxas City, Rogelio Bayotas y Cordova
subsequent to the termination of Civil Case No. Q-
was charged with Rape and eventually convicted
07-59598. Unless otherwise expressly stipulated
thereof on June 19, 1991 in a decision penned by
between them at any time during the engagement,
Judge Manuel E. Autajay. Pending appeal of his
conviction, Bayotas died on February 4, 1992 at 1. By the death of the
the National Bilibid Hospital due to cardio convict, as to the
respiratory arrest secondary to hepatic personal penalties;
encephalopathy secondary to hipato carcinoma and as to the
gastric malingering. Consequently, the Supreme pecuniary penalties
Court in its Resolution of May 20, 1992 dismissed liability therefor is
the criminal aspect of the appeal. However, it extinguished only
required the Solicitor General to file its comment when the death of the
with regard to Bayotas' civil liability arising from his offender occurs
commission of the offense charged. before final judgment;

In his comment, the Solicitor General expressed his With reference to Castillo's criminal
view that the death of accused-appellant did not liability, there is no question. The law
extinguish his civil liability as a result of his is plain. Statutory construction is
commission of the offense charged. The Solicitor unnecessary. Said liability is
General, relying on the case of People extinguished.
v. Sendaydiego 1 insists that the appeal should still
be resolved for the purpose of reviewing his The civil liability, however, poses a
conviction by the lower court on which the civil problem. Such liability is
liability is based. extinguished only when the death of
the offender occurs before final
Counsel for the accused-appellant, on the other judgment. Saddled upon us is the
hand, opposed the view of the Solicitor General task of ascertaining the legal import
arguing that the death of the accused while of the term "final judgment." Is it final
judgment of conviction is pending appeal judgment as contradistinguished
extinguishes both his criminal and civil penalties. In from an interlocutory order? Or, is it
support of his position, said counsel invoked the a judgment which is final and
ruling of the Court of Appeals in People v. Castillo executory?
and Ocfemia 2 which held that the civil obligation in
a criminal case takes root in the criminal liability We go to the genesis of the law. The
and, therefore, civil liability is extinguished if legal precept contained in Article 89
accused should die before final judgment is of the Revised Penal Code
rendered. heretofore transcribed is lifted from
Article 132 of the Spanish El Codigo
We are thus confronted with a single issue: Does Penal de 1870 which, in part,
death of the accused pending appeal of his recites:
conviction extinguish his civil liability?
La responsabilidad
In the aforementioned case of People v. Castillo, penal se extingue.
this issue was settled in the affirmative. This same
issue posed therein was phrased thus: Does the 1. Por la muerte del
death of Alfredo Castillo affect both his criminal reo en cuanto a las
responsibility and his civil liability as a consequence penas personales
of the alleged crime? siempre, y respecto a
las pecuniarias, solo
It resolved this issue thru the following disquisition: cuando a su
fallecimiento no
Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code hubiere
is the controlling statute. It reads, in recaido sentencia
part: firme.

Art. 89. How criminal xxx xxx xxx


liability is totally
extinguished. The code of 1870 . . . it will be
Criminal liability is observed employs the term
totally extinguished:
"sentencia firme." What is "sentencia of the period for perfecting an appeal
firme" under the old statute? or when the sentence has been
partially or totally satisfied or served,
XXVIII Enciclopedia Juridica or the defendant has expressly
Espaola, p. 473, furnishes the waived in writing his right to appeal."
ready answer: It says:
By fair intendment, the legal
SENTENCIA FIRME. precepts and opinions here collected
La sentencia que funnel down to one positive
adquiere la fuerza de conclusion: The term final judgment
las definitivas por no employed in the Revised Penal
haberse utilizado por Code means judgment beyond
las partes litigantes recall. Really, as long as a judgment
recurso alguno contra has not become executory, it cannot
ella dentro de los be truthfully said that defendant is
terminos y plazos definitely guilty of the felony charged
legales concedidos al against him.
efecto.
Not that the meaning thus given to
"Sentencia firme" really should be final judgment is without reason. For
understood as one which is definite. where, as in this case, the right to
Because, it is only when judgment is institute a separate civil action is not
such that, as Medina y Maranon reserved, the decision to be
puts it, the crime is confirmed "en rendered must, of necessity, cover
condena determinada;" or, in the "both the criminal and the civil
words of Groizard, the guilt of the aspects of the case." People
accused becomes "una verdad vs. Yusico (November 9, 1942), 2
legal." Prior thereto, should the O.G., No. 100, p. 964. See
accused die, according to Viada, "no also: People vs. Moll, 68 Phil., 626,
hay legalmente, en tal caso, ni reo, 634; Francisco, Criminal Procedure,
ni delito, ni responsabilidad criminal 1958 ed., Vol. I, pp. 234, 236.
de ninguna clase." And, as Judge Correctly, Judge Kapunan observed
Kapunan well explained, when a that as "the civil action is based
defendant dies before judgment solely on the felony committed and
becomes executory, "there cannot of which the offender might be found
be any determination by final guilty, the death of the offender
judgment whether or not the felony extinguishes the civil liability." I
upon which the civil action might Kapunan, Revised Penal Code,
arise exists," for the simple reason Annotated, supra.
that "there is no party defendant." (I
Kapunan, Revised Penal Code, Here is the situation obtaining in the
Annotated, p. 421. Senator present case: Castillo's criminal
Francisco holds the same view. liability is out. His civil liability is
Francisco, Revised Penal Code, sought to be enforced by reason of
Book One, 2nd ed., pp. 859-860) that criminal liability. But then, if we
dismiss, as we must, the criminal
The legal import of the term "final action and let the civil aspect
judgment" is similarly reflected in the remain, we will be faced with the
Revised Penal Code. Articles 72 and anomalous situation whereby we will
78 of that legal body mention the be called upon to clamp civil liability
term "final judgment" in the sense in a case where the source thereof
that it is already enforceable. This criminal liability does not exist.
also brings to mind Section 7, Rule And, as was well stated in Bautista,
116 of the Rules of Court which et al. vs. Estrella, et al., CA-G.R.
states that a judgment in a criminal No. 19226-R, September 1, 1958,
case becomes final "after the lapse "no party can be found and held
criminally liable in a civil suit," which Civil Code establishes a civil action
solely would remain if we are to for damages on account of physical
divorce it from the criminal injuries, entirely separate and
proceeding." distinct from the criminal action.

This ruling of the Court of Appeals in Art. 33. In cases of


the Castillo case 3 was adopted by the Supreme defamation, fraud,
Court in the cases of People of the Philippines and physical injuries,
v. Bonifacio Alison, et al., 4 People of the a civil action for
Philippines v. Jaime Jose, et al. 5 and People of the damages, entirely
Philippines v. Satorre 6 by dismissing the appeal in separate and distinct
view of the death of the accused pending appeal of from the criminal
said cases. action, may be
brought by the injured
As held by then Supreme Court Justice Fernando party. Such civil
in the Alison case: action shall proceed
independently of the
The death of accused-appellant criminal prosecution,
Bonifacio Alison having been and shall require only
established, and considering that a preponderance of
there is as yet no final judgment in evidence.
view of the pendency of the appeal,
the criminal and civil liability of the Assuming that for lack of express
said accused-appellant Alison was reservation, Belamala's civil action
extinguished by his death (Art. 89, for damages was to be considered
Revised Penal Code; Reyes' instituted together with the criminal
Criminal Law, 1971 Rev. Ed., p. 717, action still, since both proceedings
citing People v. Castillo and Ofemia were terminated without final
C.A., 56 O.G. 4045); consequently, adjudication, the civil action of the
the case against him should be offended party under Article 33 may
dismissed. yet be enforced separately.

On the other hand, this Court in the subsequent In Torrijos, the Supreme Court held
cases of Buenaventura Belamala v. Marcelino that:
Polinar 7 and Lamberto Torrijos v. The Honorable
Court of Appeals 8 ruled differently. In the former, xxx xxx xxx
the issue decided by this court was: Whether the
civil liability of one accused of physical injuries who It should be stressed that the
died before final judgment is extinguished by his extinction of civil liability follows the
demise to the extent of barring any claim therefore extinction of the criminal liability
against his estate. It was the contention of the under Article 89, only when the civil
administrator-appellant therein that the death of the liability arises from the criminal act
accused prior to final judgment extinguished all as its only basis. Stated differently,
criminal and civil liabilities resulting from the where the civil liability does not exist
offense, in view of Article 89, paragraph 1 of the independently of the criminal
Revised Penal Code. However, this court ruled responsibility, the extinction of the
therein: latter by death, ipso
facto extinguishes the
We see no merit in the plea that the former, provided, of course, that
civil liability has been extinguished, death supervenes before final
in view of the provisions of the Civil judgment. The said principle does
Code of the Philippines of 1950 not apply in instant case wherein the
(Rep. Act No. 386) that became civil liability springs neither solely nor
operative eighteen years after the originally from the crime itself but
revised Penal Code. As pointed out from a civil contract of purchase and
by the Court below, Article 33 of the sale. (Emphasis ours)
xxx xxx xxx This court in an unprecedented move resolved to
dismiss Sendaydiego's appeal but only to the
In the above case, the court was convinced extent of his criminal liability. His civil liability was
that the civil liability of the accused who was allowed to survive although it was clear that such
charged with estafa could likewise trace its claim thereon was exclusively dependent on the
genesis to Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil criminal action already extinguished. The legal
Code since said accused had swindled the import of such decision was for the court to
first and second vendees of the property continue exercising appellate jurisdiction over the
subject matter of the contract of sale. It entire appeal, passing upon the correctness of
therefore concluded: "Consequently, while Sendaydiego's conviction despite dismissal of the
the death of the accused herein criminal action, for the purpose of determining if he
extinguished his criminal liability including is civilly liable. In doing so, this Court issued a
fine, his civil liability based on the laws of Resolution of July 8, 1977 stating thus:
human relations remains."
The claim of complainant Province
Thus it allowed the appeal to proceed with respect of Pangasinan for the civil liability
to the civil liability of the accused, notwithstanding survived Sendaydiego because his
the extinction of his criminal liability due to his death occurred after final judgment
death pending appeal of his conviction. was rendered by the Court of First
Instance of Pangasinan, which
To further justify its decision to allow the civil convicted him of three complex
liability to survive, the court relied on the following crimes of malversation through
ratiocination: Since Section 21, Rule 3 of the Rules falsification and ordered him to
of Court 9 requires the dismissal of all money indemnify the Province in the total
claims against the defendant whose death occurred sum of P61,048.23 (should be
prior to the final judgment of the Court of First P57,048.23).
Instance (CFI), then it can be inferred that actions
for recovery of money may continue to be heard on The civil action for the civil liability is
appeal, when the death of the defendant deemed impliedly instituted with the
supervenes after the CFI had rendered its criminal action in the absence of
judgment. In such case, explained this tribunal, "the express waiver or its reservation in a
name of the offended party shall be included in the separate action (Sec. 1, Rule 111 of
title of the case as plaintiff-appellee and the legal the Rules of Court). The civil action
representative or the heirs of the deceased- for the civil liability is separate and
accused should be substituted as defendants- distinct from the criminal action
appellants." (People and Manuel vs. Coloma,
105 Phil. 1287; Roa vs. De la Cruz,
It is, thus, evident that as jurisprudence evolved 107 Phil. 8).
from Castillo to Torrijos, the rule established was
that the survival of the civil liability depends on When the action is for the recovery
whether the same can be predicated on sources of of money and the defendant dies
obligations other than delict. Stated differently, the before final judgment in the Court of
claim for civil liability is also extinguished together First Instance, it shall be dismissed
with the criminal action if it were solely based to be prosecuted in the manner
thereon, i.e., civil liability ex delicto. especially provided in Rule 87 of the
Rules of Court (Sec. 21, Rule 3 of
However, the Supreme Court in People the Rules of Court).
v. Sendaydiego, et al. 10 departed from this long-
established principle of law. In this case, accused The implication is that, if the
Sendaydiego was charged with and convicted by defendant dies after a money
the lower court of malversation thru falsification of judgment had been rendered against
public documents. Sendaydiego's death him by the Court of First Instance,
supervened during the pendency of the appeal of the action survives him. It may be
his conviction. continued on appeal (Torrijos vs.
Court of Appeals, L-40336, October
24, 1975; 67 SCRA 394).
The accountable public officer may and Section 21, Rule 3 of the Revised Rules of
still be civilly liable for the funds Court.
improperly disbursed although he
has no criminal liability (U.S. vs. Article 30 of the Civil Code provides:
Elvina, 24 Phil. 230; Philippine
National Bank vs. Tugab, 66 Phil. When a separate civil action is
583). brought to demand civil liability
arising from a criminal offense, and
In view of the foregoing, no criminal proceedings are
notwithstanding the dismissal of the instituted during the pendency of the
appeal of the deceased civil case, a preponderance of
Sendaydiego insofar as his criminal evidence shall likewise be sufficient
liability is concerned, the Court to prove the act complained of.
Resolved to continue exercising
appellate jurisdiction over his Clearly, the text of Article 30 could not possibly lend
possible civil liability for the money support to the ruling in Sendaydiego. Nowhere in its
claims of the Province of text is there a grant of authority to continue
Pangasinan arising from the alleged exercising appellate jurisdiction over the accused's
criminal acts complained of, as if no civil liability ex delicto when his death supervenes
criminal case had been instituted during appeal. What Article 30 recognizes is an
against him, thus making applicable, alternative and separate civil action which may be
in determining his civil liability, brought to demand civil liability arising from a
Article 30 of the Civil Code . . . and, criminal offense independently of any criminal
for that purpose, his counsel is action. In the event that no criminal proceedings
directed to inform this Court within are instituted during the pendency of said civil case,
ten (10) days of the names and the quantum of evidence needed to prove the
addresses of the decedent's heirs or criminal act will have to be that which is compatible
whether or not his estate is under with civil liability and that is, preponderance of
administration and has a duly evidence and not proof of guilt beyond reasonable
appointed judicial administrator. Said doubt. Citing or invoking Article 30 to justify the
heirs or administrator will be survival of the civil action despite extinction of the
substituted for the deceased insofar criminal would in effect merely beg the question of
as the civil action for the civil liability whether civil liability ex delicto survives upon
is concerned (Secs. 16 and 17, Rule extinction of the criminal action due to death of the
3, Rules of Court). accused during appeal of his conviction. This is
because whether asserted in
Succeeding cases 11 raising the identical issue the criminal action or in a separate civil action, civil
have maintained adherence to our ruling liability ex delicto is extinguished by the death of
in Sendaydiego; in other words, they were a the accused while his conviction is on appeal.
reaffirmance of our abandonment of the settled rule Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code is clear on
that a civil liability solely anchored on the criminal this matter:
(civil liability ex delicto) is extinguished upon
dismissal of the entire appeal due to the demise of Art. 89. How criminal liability is
the accused. totally extinguished. Criminal
liability is totally extinguished:
But was it judicious to have abandoned this old
ruling? A re-examination of our decision 1. By the death of the convict, as to
in Sendaydiego impels us to revert to the old ruling. the personal penalties; and as to
pecuniary penalties, liability therefor
To restate our resolution of July 8, 1977 is extinguished only when the death
in Sendaydiego: The resolution of the civil action of the offender occurs before final
impliedly instituted in the criminal action can judgment;
proceed irrespective of the latter's extinction due to
death of the accused pending appeal of his xxx xxx xxx
conviction, pursuant to Article 30 of the Civil Code
However, the ruling in Sendaydiego deviated from of July 8, 1977 notwithstanding. Thus, it was held in
the expressed intent of Article 89. It allowed claims the main decision:
for civil liability ex delicto to survive by ipso
facto treating the civil action impliedly instituted with Sendaydiego's appeal will be
the criminal, as one filed under Article 30, as resolved only for the purpose of
though no criminal proceedings had been filed but showing his criminal liability which is
merely a separate civil action. This had the effect of the basis of the civil liability for which
converting such claims from one which is his estate would be liable. 13
dependent on the outcome of the criminal action to
an entirely new and separate one, the prosecution In other words, the Court, in resolving the issue of
of which does not even necessitate the filing of his civil liability, concomitantly made a
criminal proceedings. 12One would be hard put to determination on whether Sendaydiego, on the
pinpoint the statutory authority for such a basis of evidenced adduced, was indeed guilty
transformation. It is to be borne in mind that in beyond reasonable doubt of committing the offense
recovering civil liability ex delicto, the same has charged. Thus, it upheld Sendaydiego's conviction
perforce to be determined in the criminal action, and pronounced the same as the source of his civil
rooted as it is in the court's pronouncement of the liability. Consequently, although Article 30 was not
guilt or innocence of the accused. This is but to applied in the final determination of Sendaydiego's
render fealty to the intendment of Article 100 of the civil liability, there was a reopening of the criminal
Revised Penal Code which provides that "every action already extinguished which served as basis
person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly for Sendaydiego's civil liability. We reiterate: Upon
liable." In such cases, extinction of the criminal death of the accused pending appeal of his
action due to death of the accused pending appeal conviction, the criminal action is extinguished
inevitably signifies the concomitant extinction of the inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to
civil liability. Mors Omnia Solvi. Death dissolves all stand as the accused; the civil action instituted
things. therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso
facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the
In sum, in pursuing recovery of civil liability arising criminal.
from crime, the final determination of the criminal
liability is a condition precedent to the prosecution Section 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court was also
of the civil action, such that when the criminal invoked to serve as another basis for
action is extinguished by the demise of accused- the Sendaydiego resolution of July 8, 1977. In citing
appellant pending appeal thereof, said civil action Sec. 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, the Court
cannot survive. The claim for civil liability springs made the inference that civil actions of the type
out of and is dependent upon facts which, if true, involved in Sendaydiego consist of money claims,
would constitute a crime. Such civil liability is an the recovery of which may be continued on appeal
inevitable consequence of the criminal liability and if defendant dies pending appeal of his conviction
is to be declared and enforced in the criminal by holding his estate liable therefor. Hence, the
proceeding. This is to be distinguished from that Court's conclusion:
which is contemplated under Article 30 of the Civil
Code which refers to the institution of a separate "When the action is for the recovery
civil action that does not draw its life from a criminal of money" "and the defendant dies
proceeding. The Sendaydiego resolution of July 8, before final judgment in the court of
1977, however, failed to take note of this First Instance, it shall be dismissed
fundamental distinction when it allowed the survival to be prosecuted in the manner
of the civil action for the recovery of civil liability ex especially provided" in Rule 87 of
delicto by treating the same as a separate civil the Rules of Court (Sec. 21, Rule 3
action referred to under Article 30. Surely, it will of the Rules of Court).
take more than just a summary judicial
pronouncement to authorize the conversion of said The implication is that, if the
civil action to an independent one such as that defendant dies after a money
contemplated under Article 30. judgment had been rendered against
him by the Court of First Instance,
Ironically however, the main decision in the action survives him. It may be
Sendaydiego did not apply Article 30, the resolution continued on appeal.
Sadly, reliance on this provision of law is Sendaydiego's civil liability. "What are
misplaced. From the standpoint of procedural law, contemplated in Section 21 of Rule 3, in relation to
this course taken in Sendaydiego cannot be Section 5 of Rule 86, 14 are contractual money
sanctioned. As correctly observed by Justice claims while the claims involved in civil liability ex
Regalado: delicto may include even the restitution of personal
or real property." 15 Section 5, Rule 86 provides an
xxx xxx xxx exclusive enumeration of what claims may be filed
against the estate. These are: funeral expenses,
I do not, however, agree with the expenses for the last illness, judgments for money
justification advanced in and claim arising from contracts, expressed or
both Torrijos and Sendaydiego whic implied. It is clear that money claims arising from
h, relying on the provisions of delict do not form part of this exclusive
Section 21, Rule 3 of the Rules of enumeration. Hence, there could be no legal basis
Court, drew the strained implication in (1) treating a civil action ex delicto as an ordinary
therefrom that where the civil liability contractual money claim referred to in Section 21,
instituted together with the criminal Rule 3 of the Rules of Court and (2) allowing it to
liabilities had already passed beyond survive by filing a claim therefor before the estate of
the judgment of the then Court of the deceased accused. Rather, it should be
First Instance (now the Regional extinguished upon extinction of the criminal action
Trial Court), the Court of Appeals engendered by the death of the accused pending
can continue to exercise appellate finality of his conviction.
jurisdiction thereover despite the
extinguishment of the component Accordingly, we rule: if the private offended party,
criminal liability of the deceased. upon extinction of the civil liability ex delicto desires
This pronouncement, which has to recover damages from the same act or omission
been followed in the Court's complained of, he must subject to Section 1, Rule
judgments subsequent and 111 16 (1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as
consonant amended) file a separate civil action, this time
to Torrijos and Sendaydiego, should predicated not on the felony previously charged but
be set aside and abandoned as on other sources of obligation. The source of
being clearly erroneous and obligation upon which the separate civil action is
unjustifiable. premised determines against whom the same shall
be enforced.
Said Section 21 of Rule 3 is a rule of
civil procedure in ordinary civil If the same act or omission complained of also
actions. There is neither authority arises from quasi-delict or may, by provision of law,
nor justification for its application in result in an injury to person or property (real or
criminal procedure to civil actions personal), the separate civil action must be filed
instituted together with and as part against the executor or administrator 17 of the
of criminal actions. Nor is there any estate of the accused pursuant to Sec. 1, Rule 87
authority in law for the summary of the Rules of Court:
conversion from the latter category
of an ordinary civil action upon the Sec. 1. Actions which may and
death of the offender. . . . which may not be brought against
executor or administrator. No
Moreover, the civil action impliedly instituted in a action upon a claim for the recovery
criminal proceeding for recovery of civil liability ex of money or debt or interest thereon
delicto can hardly be categorized as an ordinary shall be commenced against the
money claim such as that referred to in Sec. 21, executor or administrator; but
Rule 3 enforceable before the estate of the actions to recover real or personal
deceased accused. property, or an interest therein, from
the estate, or to enforce a lien
Ordinary money claims referred to in Section 21, thereon, and actions to recover
Rule 3 must be viewed in light of the provisions of damages for an injury to person or
Section 5, Rule 86 involving claims against the property, real or personal, may be
estate, which in Sendaydiego was held liable for commenced against him.
This is in consonance with our ruling in civil action and subject to Section 1, Rule 111 of the
Belamala 18 where we held that, in recovering 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as amended.
damages for injury to persons thru an independent This separate civil action may be enforced either
civil action based on Article 33 of the Civil Code, against the executor/administrator or the estate of
the same must be filed against the executor or the accused, depending on the source of obligation
administrator of the estate of deceased accused upon which the same is based as explained above.
and not against the estate under Sec. 5, Rule 86
because this rule explicitly limits the claim to those 4. Finally, the private offended party need not fear a
for funeral expenses, expenses for the last forfeiture of his right to file this separate civil action
sickness of the decedent, judgment for money and by prescription, in cases where during the
claims arising from contract, express or implied. prosecution of the criminal action and prior to its
Contractual money claims, we stressed, refers only extinction, the private-offended party instituted
to purely personal obligations other than those together therewith the civil action. In such case, the
which have their source in delict or tort. statute of limitations on the civil liability is deemed
interrupted during the pendency of the criminal
Conversely, if the same act or omission complained case, conformably with provisions of Article
of also arises from contract, the separate civil 1155 21 of the Civil Code, that should thereby avoid
action must be filed against the estate of the any apprehension on a possible privation of right by
accused, pursuant to Sec. 5, Rule 86 of the Rules prescription. 22
of Court.
Applying this set of rules to the case at bench, we
From this lengthy disquisition, we summarize our hold that the death of appellant Bayotas
ruling herein: extinguished his criminal liability and the civil
liability based solely on the act complained of, i.e.,
1. Death of the accused pending appeal of his rape. Consequently, the appeal is hereby
conviction extinguishes his criminal liability as well dismissed without qualification.
as the civil liability based solely thereon. As opined
by Justice Regalado, in this regard, "the death of WHEREFORE, the appeal of the late Rogelio
the accused prior to final judgment terminates his Bayotas is DISMISSED with costs de oficio.
criminal liability and only the civil
liability directly arising from and based solely on the SO ORDERED.
offense committed, i.e., civil liability ex
delicto in senso strictiore."

2. Corollarily, the claim for civil liability survives


notwithstanding the death of accused, if the same
may also be predicated on a source of obligation
other than delict. 19 Article 1157 of the Civil Code
enumerates these other sources of obligation from BOBIE ROSE V. FRIAS, represented by her
which the civil liability may arise as a result of the Attorney-in-fact, MARIE F. FUJITA, Petitioner,
same act or omission: vs.
FLORA SAN DIEGO-SISON, Respondent.
a) Law 20
DECISION
b) Contracts
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
c) Quasi-contracts
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed
d) . . . by Bobie Rose V. Frias represented by her
Attorney-in-fact, Marie Regine F. Fujita (petitioner)
e) Quasi-delicts seeking to annul the Decision1 dated June 18, 2002
and the Resolution2 dated September 11, 2002 of
3. Where the civil liability survives, as explained in the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
Number 2 above, an action for recovery therefor 52839.
may be pursued but only by way of filing a separate
Petitioner is the owner of a house and lot located at would decide not to purchase the
No. 589 Batangas East, Ayala Alabang, aforementioned property, the FIRST PARTY
Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, which she acquired from has a period of another six months within
Island Masters Realty and Development which to pay the sum of P3 million pesos
Corporation (IMRDC) by virtue of a Deed of Sale provided that the said amount shall earn
dated Nov. 16, 1990.3 The property is covered by compounded bank interest for the last six
TCT No. 168173 of the Register of Deeds of Makati months only. Under this circumstance, the
in the name of IMRDC.4 amount of P3 million given by the SECOND
PARTY shall be treated as [a] loan and the
On December 7, 1990, petitioner, as the FIRST property shall be considered as the security
PARTY, and Dra. Flora San Diego-Sison for the mortgage which can be enforced in
(respondent), as the SECOND PARTY, entered accordance with law.
into a Memorandum of Agreement5 over the
property with the following terms: x x x x.6

NOW, THEREFORE, for and in consideration of the Petitioner received from respondent two million
sum of THREE MILLION PESOS (P3,000,000.00) pesos in cash and one million pesos in a post-
receipt of which is hereby acknowledged by the dated check dated February 28, 1990, instead of
FIRST PARTY from the SECOND PARTY, the 1991, which rendered said check stale.7 Petitioner
parties have agreed as follows: then gave respondent TCT No. 168173 in the name
of IMRDC and the Deed of Absolute Sale over the
1. That the SECOND PARTY has a period property between petitioner and IMRDC.
of Six (6) months from the date of the
execution of this contract within which to Respondent decided not to purchase the property
notify the FIRST PARTY of her intention to and notified petitioner through a letter8 dated March
purchase the aforementioned parcel of land 20, 1991, which petitioner received only on June
together within (sic) the improvements 11, 1991,9 reminding petitioner of their agreement
thereon at the price of SIX MILLION FOUR that the amount of two million pesos which
HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS petitioner received from respondent should be
(P6,400,000.00). Upon notice to the FIRST considered as a loan payable within six months.
PARTY of the SECOND PARTYs intention Petitioner subsequently failed to pay respondent
to purchase the same, the latter has a the amount of two million pesos.
period of another six months within which to
pay the remaining balance of P3.4 million. On April 1, 1993, respondent filed with the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, a complaint10 for sum
2. That prior to the six months period given of money with preliminary attachment against
to the SECOND PARTY within which to petitioner. The case was docketed as Civil Case
decide whether or not to purchase the No. 93-65367 and raffled to Branch 30.
above-mentioned property, the FIRST Respondent alleged the foregoing facts and in
PARTY may still offer the said property to addition thereto averred that petitioner tried to
other persons who may be interested to buy deprive her of the security for the loan by making a
the same provided that the amount false report11 of the loss of her owners copy of TCT
of P3,000,000.00 given to the FIRST No. 168173 to the Tagig Police Station on June 3,
PARTY BY THE SECOND PARTY shall be 1991, executing an affidavit of loss and by filing a
paid to the latter including interest based on petition12 for the issuance of a new owners
prevailing compounded bank interest plus duplicate copy of said title with the RTC of Makati,
the amount of the sale in excess Branch 142; that the petition was granted in an
of P7,000,000.00 should the property be Order13 dated August 31, 1991; that said Order was
sold at a price more than P7 million. subsequently set aside in an Order dated April 10,
199214where the RTC Makati granted respondents
3. That in case the FIRST PARTY has no petition for relief from judgment due to the fact that
other buyer within the first six months from respondent is in possession of the owners
the execution of this contract, no interest duplicate copy of TCT No. 168173, and ordered the
shall be charged by the SECOND PARTY provincial public prosecutor to conduct an
on the P3 million however, in the event that investigation of petitioner for perjury and false
on the sixth month the SECOND PARTY testimony. Respondent prayed for the ex-parte
issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment and WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby RENDERED:
payment of two million pesos with interest at 36%
per annum from December 7, 1991, P100,000.00 1) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff the
moral, corrective and exemplary damages sum of P2 Million plus interest thereon at
and P200,000.00 for attorneys fees. the rate of thirty two (32%) per cent per
annum beginning December 7, 1991 until
In an Order dated April 6, 1993, the Executive fully paid.
Judge of the RTC of Manila issued a writ of
preliminary attachment upon the filing of a bond in 2) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff the
the amount of two million pesos.15 sum of P70,000.00 representing premiums
paid by plaintiff on the attachment bond with
Petitioner filed an Amended Answer16 alleging that legal interest thereon counted from the date
the Memorandum of Agreement was conceived and of this decision until fully paid.
arranged by her lawyer, Atty. Carmelita Lozada,
who is also respondents lawyer; that she was 3) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff the
asked to sign the agreement without being given sum of P100,000.00 by way of moral,
the chance to read the same; that the title to the corrective and exemplary damages.
property and the Deed of Sale between her and the
IMRDC were entrusted to Atty. Lozada for 4) Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff
safekeeping and were never turned over to attorneys fees of P100,000.00 plus cost of
respondent as there was no consummated sale yet; litigation.18
that out of the two million pesos cash paid, Atty.
Lozada took the one million pesos which has not The RTC found that petitioner was under obligation
been returned, thus petitioner had filed a civil case to pay respondent the amount of two million pesos
against her; that she was never informed of with compounded interest pursuant to their
respondents decision not to purchase the property Memorandum of Agreement; that the fraudulent
within the six month period fixed in the agreement; scheme employed by petitioner to deprive
that when she demanded the return of TCT No. respondent of her only security to her loaned
168173 and the Deed of Sale between her and the money when petitioner executed an affidavit of loss
IMRDC from Atty. Lozada, the latter gave her these and instituted a petition for the issuance of an
documents in a brown envelope on May 5, 1991 owners duplicate title knowing the same was in
which her secretary placed in her attache case; that respondents possession, entitled respondent to
the envelope together with her other personal moral damages; and that petitioners bare denial
things were lost when her car was forcibly opened cannot be accorded credence because her
the following day; that she sought the help of Atty. testimony and that of her witness did not appear to
Lozada who advised her to secure a police report, be credible.
to execute an affidavit of loss and to get the
services of another lawyer to file a petition for the The RTC further found that petitioner admitted that
issuance of an owners duplicate copy; that the she received from respondent the two million pesos
petition for the issuance of a new owners duplicate in cash but the fact that petitioner gave the one
copy was filed on her behalf without her knowledge million pesos to Atty. Lozada was without
and neither did she sign the petition nor testify in respondents knowledge thus it is not binding on
court as falsely claimed for she was abroad; that respondent; that respondent had also proven that in
she was a victim of the manipulations of Atty. 1993, she initially paid the sum of P30,000.00 as
Lozada and respondent as shown by the filing of premium for the issuance of the attachment
criminal charges for perjury and false testimony bond, P20,000.00 for its renewal in 1994,
against her; that no interest could be due as there and P20,000.00 for the renewal in 1995, thus
was no valid mortgage over the property as the plaintiff should be reimbursed considering that she
principal obligation is vitiated with fraud and was compelled to go to court and ask for a writ of
deception. She prayed for the dismissal of the preliminary attachment to protect her rights under
complaint, counter-claim for damages and the agreement.
attorneys fees.
Petitioner filed her appeal with the CA. In a
Trial on the merits ensued. On January 31, 1996, Decision dated June 18, 2002, the CA affirmed the
the RTC issued a decision,17 the dispositive portion RTC decision with modification, the dispositive
of which reads: portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision DAMAGES AND ATTORNEYS FEES IS
appealed from is MODIFIED in the sense that the PROPER EVEN IF NOT MENTIONED IN
rate of interest is reduced from 32% to 25% per THE TEXT OF THE DECISION.22
annum, effective June 7, 1991 until fully paid.19
Petitioner contends that the interest, whether at
The CA found that: petitioner gave the one million 32% per annum awarded by the trial court or at
pesos to Atty. Lozada partly as her commission and 25% per annum as modified by the CA which
partly as a loan; respondent did not replace the should run from June 7, 1991 until fully paid, is
mistakenly dated check of one million pesos contrary to the parties Memorandum of Agreement;
because she had decided not to buy the property that the agreement provides that if respondent
and petitioner knew of her decision as early as April would decide not to purchase the property,
1991; the award of moral damages was warranted petitioner has the period of another six months to
since even granting petitioner had no hand in the pay the loan with compounded bank interest for the
filing of the petition for the issuance of an owners last six months only; that the CAs ruling that a loan
copy, she executed an affidavit of loss of TCT No. always bears interest otherwise it is not a loan is
168173 when she knew all along that said title was contrary to Art. 1956 of the New Civil Code which
in respondents possession; petitioners claim that provides that no interest shall be due unless it has
she thought the title was lost when the brown been expressly stipulated in writing.
envelope given to her by Atty. Lozada was stolen
from her car was hollow; that such deceitful We are not persuaded.
conduct caused respondent serious anxiety and
emotional distress. While the CAs conclusion, that a loan always bears
interest otherwise it is not a loan, is flawed since a
The CA concluded that there was no basis for simple loan may be gratuitous or with a stipulation
petitioner to say that the interest should be charged to pay interest,23 we find no error committed by the
for six months only and no more; that a loan always CA in awarding a 25% interest per annum on the
bears interest otherwise it is not a loan; that interest two-million peso loan even beyond the second six
should commence on June 7, 199120 with months stipulated period.
compounded bank interest prevailing at the time
the two million was considered as a loan which was The Memorandum of Agreement executed between
in June 1991; that the bank interest rate for loans the petitioner and respondent on December 7, 1990
secured by a real estate mortgage in 1991 ranged is the law between the parties. In resolving an issue
from 25% to 32% per annum as certified to by based upon a contract, we must first examine the
Prudential Bank,21 that in fairness to petitioner, the contract itself, especially the provisions thereof
rate to be charged should be 25% only. which are relevant to the controversy.24 The
general rule is that if the terms of an agreement are
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied clear and leave no doubt as to the intention of the
by the CA in a Resolution dated September 11, contracting parties, the literal meaning of its
2002. stipulations shall prevail.25 It is further required that
the various stipulations of a contract shall be
Hence the instant Petition for Review interpreted together, attributing to the doubtful ones
on Certiorari filed by petitioner raising the following that sense which may result from all of them taken
issues: jointly.26

(A) WHETHER OR NOT THE In this case, the phrase "for the last six months
COMPOUNDED BANK INTEREST only" should be taken in the context of the entire
SHOULD BE LIMITED TO SIX (6) agreement. We agree with and adopt the CAs
MONTHS AS CONTAINED IN THE interpretation of the phrase in this wise:
MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT.
Their agreement speaks of two (2) periods of six
(B) WHETHER OR NOT THE months each. The first six-month period was given
RESPONDENT IS ENTITLED TO MORAL to plaintiff-appellee (respondent) to make up her
DAMAGES. mind whether or not to purchase defendant-
appellants (petitioner's) property. The second six-
(C) WHETHER OR NOT THE GRANT OF month period was given to defendant-appellant to
CORRECTIVE AND EXEMPLARY pay the P2 million loan in the event that plaintiff-
appellee decided not to buy the subject property in 25% per annum awarded by the CA to a P2 million
which case interest will be charged "for the last six loan is fair and reasonable.
months only", referring to the second six-month
period. This means that no interest will be charged Petitioner next claims that moral damages were
for the first six-month period while appellee was awarded on the erroneous finding that she used a
making up her mind whether to buy the property, fraudulent scheme to deprive respondent of her
but only for the second period of six months after security for the loan; that such finding is baseless
appellee had decided not to buy the property. This since petitioner was acquitted in the case for
is the meaning of the phrase "for the last six perjury and false testimony filed by respondent
months only". Certainly, there is nothing in their against her.
agreement that suggests that interest will be
charged for six months only even if it takes We are not persuaded.
defendant-appellant an eternity to pay the loan.27
Article 31 of the Civil Code provides that when the
The agreement that the amount given shall bear civil action is based on an obligation not arising
compounded bank interest for the last six months from the act or omission complained of as a felony,
only, i.e., referring to the second six-month period, such civil action may proceed independently of the
does not mean that interest will no longer be criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of
charged after the second six-month period since the latter.32
such stipulation was made on the logical and
reasonable expectation that such amount would be While petitioner was acquitted in the false
paid within the date stipulated. Considering that testimony and perjury cases filed by respondent
petitioner failed to pay the amount given which against her, those actions are entirely distinct from
under the Memorandum of Agreement shall be the collection of sum of money with damages filed
considered as a loan, the monetary interest for the by respondent against petitioner.
last six months continued to accrue until actual
payment of the loaned amount. We agree with the findings of the trial court and the
CA that petitioners act of trying to deprive
The payment of regular interest constitutes the respondent of the security of her loan by executing
price or cost of the use of money and thus, until the an affidavit of loss of the title and instituting a
principal sum due is returned to the creditor, regular petition for the issuance of a new owners duplicate
interest continues to accrue since the debtor copy of TCT No. 168173 entitles respondent to
continues to use such principal amount.28 It has moral damages.1a\^/phi1.net Moral damages may
been held that for a debtor to continue in be awarded in culpa contractual or breach of
possession of the principal of the loan and to contract cases when the defendant acted
continue to use the same after maturity of the loan fraudulently or in bad faith. Bad faith does not
without payment of the monetary interest, would simply connote bad judgment or negligence; it
constitute unjust enrichment on the part of the imports a dishonest purpose or some moral
debtor at the expense of the creditor.29 obliquity and conscious doing of wrong. It partakes
of the nature of fraud.33
Petitioner and respondent stipulated that the loaned
amount shall earn compounded bank interests, and The Memorandum of Agreement provides that in
per the certification issued by Prudential Bank, the the event that respondent opts not to buy the
interest rate for loans in 1991 ranged from 25% to property, the money given by respondent to
32% per annum. The CA reduced the interest rate petitioner shall be treated as a loan and the
to 25% instead of the 32% awarded by the trial property shall be considered as the security for the
court which petitioner no longer mortgage. It was testified to by respondent that
assailed.1awphi1.nt after they executed the agreement on December 7,
1990, petitioner gave her the owners copy of the
In Bautista v. Pilar Development Corp.,30 we upheld title to the property, the Deed of Sale between
the validity of a 21% per annum interest on petitioner and IMRDC, the certificate of occupancy,
a P142,326.43 loan. In Garcia v. Court of and the certificate of the Secretary of the IMRDC
Appeals,31 we sustained the agreement of the who signed the Deed of Sale.34 However,
parties to a 24% per annum interest on notwithstanding that all those documents were in
an P8,649,250.00 loan. Thus, the interest rate of respondents possession, petitioner executed an
affidavit of loss that the owners copy of the title and Article 220841 of the New Civil Code enumerates
the Deed of Sale were lost. the instances where such may be awarded and, in
all cases, it must be reasonable, just and equitable
Although petitioner testified that her execution of if the same were to be granted.42 Attorney's fees as
the affidavit of loss was due to the fact that she was part of damages are not meant to enrich the
of the belief that since she had demanded from winning party at the expense of the losing litigant.
Atty. Lozada the return of the title, she thought that They are not awarded every time a party prevails in
the brown envelope with markings which Atty. a suit because of the policy that no premium should
Lozada gave her on May 5, 1991 already contained be placed on the right to litigate.43 The award of
the title and the Deed of Sale as those documents attorney's fees is the exception rather than the
were in the same brown envelope which she gave general rule. As such, it is necessary for the trial
to Atty. Lozada prior to the transaction with court to make findings of facts and law that would
respondent.35 Such statement remained a bare bring the case within the exception and justify the
statement. It was not proven at all since Atty. grant of such award. The matter of attorney's fees
Lozada had not taken the stand to corroborate her cannot be mentioned only in the dispositive portion
claim. In fact, even petitioners own witness, of the decision.44 They must be clearly explained
Benilda Ynfante (Ynfante), was not able to and justified by the trial court in the body of its
establish petitioner's claim that the title was decision. On appeal, the CA is precluded from
returned by Atty. Lozada in view of Ynfante's supplementing the bases for awarding attorneys
testimony that after the brown envelope was given fees when the trial court failed to discuss in its
to petitioner, the latter passed it on to her and she Decision the reasons for awarding the same.
placed it in petitioners attach case36 and did not Consequently, the award of attorney's fees should
bother to look at the envelope.37 be deleted.

It is clear therefrom that petitioners execution of WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the
the affidavit of loss became the basis of the filing of Decision dated June 18, 2002 and the Resolution
the petition with the RTC for the issuance of new dated September 11, 2002 of the Court of Appeals
owners duplicate copy of TCT No. 168173. in CA-G.R. CV No. 52839 are AFFIRMED with
Petitioners actuation would have deprived MODIFICATION that the award of attorneys fees
respondent of the security for her loan were it not is DELETED.
for respondents timely filing of a petition for relief
whereby the RTC set aside its previous order No pronouncement as to costs.
granting the issuance of new title. Thus, the award
of moral damages is in order. SO ORDERED.

The entitlement to moral damages having been


established, the award of exemplary damages is
proper.38Exemplary damages may be imposed ANTONIO L. DALURAYA, Petitioner,
upon petitioner by way of example or correction for vs.
the public good.39 The RTC awarded the amount MARLA OLIVA, Respondent.
of P100,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages.
While the award of moral and exemplary damages DECISION
in an aggregate amount may not be the usual way
of awarding said damages,40 no error has been PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
committed by CA. There is no question that
respondent is entitled to moral and exemplary
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are
damages.
the Decision2 dated June 28, 2013 and the
Resolution3 dated November 22, 2013 rendered by
Petitioner argues that the CA erred in awarding the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No.
attorneys fees because the trial courts decision did 125113 finding petitioner Antonio L. Daluraya
not explain the findings of facts and law to justify (Daluraya) civilly liable for the death of Marina
the award of attorneys fees as the same was Arabit Oliva (Marina Oliva) despite having been
mentioned only in the dispositive portion of the RTC acquitted for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in
decision. Homicide on the ground of insufficiency of
evidence.
We agree.
The Facts testified on the damages sustained by her family
but she failed to identify Daluraya as the driver of
On January 4, 2006, Daluraya was charged in an the vehicle that hit her mother; (b) Serrano also did
Information4 for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in not identify
Homicide in connection with the death5 of Marina
Oliva. Records reveal that sometime in the Daluraya as the driver of the said vehicle; (c) Dr.
afternoon of January 3, 2006, Marina Oliva was Ortiz merely testified on the autopsy results; and (d)
crossing the street when a Nissan Vanette, bearing PSI Gomez, while he did investigate the incident,
plate number UPN-172 and traversing EDSA near likewise declared thathe did not witness the
the Quezon Avenue flyover in Quezon City, ran her same.13
over.6 While Marina Oliva was rushed to the
hospital to receive medical attention,she eventually Marla moved for reconsideration,14 which the MeTC
died, prompting her daughter, herein respondent denied in an Order15 dated November 4, 2010,
Marla Oliva (Marla), to file a criminal case for clarifying that the grant of Dalurayas demurrer had
Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide the effect of an acquittal and that reconsideration of
against Daluraya, the purported driver of the its Order granting Dalurayas demurrer would
vehicle.7 violate the latters right against double
jeopardy.16 With respect to the civil aspect of the
During the proceedings, the prosecution presented case, the MeTC likewise denied the same, holding
as witness Shem Serrano (Serrano), an eye- that no civil liability can be awarded absent any
witness to the incident, who testified that on said evidence proving that Daluraya was the person
date, he saw a woman crossing EDSA heading responsible for Marina Olivas demise.17
towards the island near the flyover and that the
latter was bumped by a Nissan Vanette bearing Aggrieved, Marla appealed18 to the Regional Trial
plate number UPN-172. The prosecution also Court of Quezon City, Branch 76 (RTC), insisting
offered the testimonies of (a) Marla, who testified that the MeTC failed to make any finding as to the
as to the civil damages sustained by her family as a civil liability of Daluraya,19 which finding was not
result of her mothers death; (b) Dr. Paul Ortiz (Dr. precluded by the dismissal of the criminal aspect of
Ortiz), who presented his findings on the autopsy the case.
conducted upon the body of Marina Oliva; and (c)
Police Senior Inspector Lauro Gomez (PSI The RTC Ruling
Gomez), who conducted the investigation following
the incident and claimed that Marina Oliva was hit In a Decision20 dated September 8, 2011, the RTC
by the vehicle being driven by Daluraya, albeit he dismissed the appeal and affirmed the MeTCs
did not witness the incident.8 ruling,declaring that "the act from which the criminal
responsibility may spring did not at all exist."21
After the prosecution rested its case, Daluraya filed
an Urgent Motion to Dismiss (demurrer)9 asserting, Marla filed a motion for reconsideration22 which,
inter alia, that he was not positively identified by although filed beyond the reglementary period, was
any of the prosecution witnesses as the driver of nonetheless accepted. However, the RTC found
the vehicle that hit the victim, and that there was no the same without merit and thus, sustained the
clear and competent evidence of how the incident factual findings and rulings of the MeTC in its
transpired.10 Order23 dated May 10, 2012. Dissatisfied, Marla
elevated the case to the CA via petition for review,
The MeTC Ruling maintaining that Daluraya must be held civilly liable.

In an Order11 dated May 24, 2010, the Metropolitan The CA Ruling


Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 38 (MeTC)
granted Dalurayas demurrer and dismissed the In a Decision24 dated June 28, 2013, the CA
case for insufficiency of evidence. It found that the granted the petition and reversed the RTC
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were Decision, ordering Daluraya to pay Marla the
wanting in material details and that they failed to amounts of P152,547.00 as actual
sufficiently establish that Daluraya committed the damages, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity,
crime imputed upon him.12 Deconstructing the and P50,000.00 as moral damages.25 In so ruling,
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses the CA held that the MeTCs Order showed that
individually, the MeTC found that: (a) Marla merely Dalurayas acquittal was based on the fact that the
prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond a person who has been found to be not the
reasonable doubt. As such, Daluraya was not perpetrator of any act or omission cannot and can
exonerated from civil liability.26 never be held liable for such act or omission. There
being no delict, civil liability ex delictois out of the
Moreover, the CA considered the following pieces question, and the civil action, if any, which may be
of evidence to support its finding that Daluraya instituted must be based on grounds other than the
must be held civilly liable: (a) the inadmissible delict complained of. This is the situation
sworn statement executed by Daluraya where he contemplated inRule 111 of the Rules of Court. The
admitted that he drove the subject vehicle which hit second instance is an acquittal based on
Marina Oliva; (b) the conclusion derived from reasonable doubt on the guilt of the accused. In this
Serranos testimony that the woman he saw case, even if the guilt of the accused has not been
crossing the street who was hit by a Nissan Vanette satisfactorily established, he is not exempt from
with plate number UPN-172, and the victim who civil liability which may be proved by
eventually died, are one and the same; (c) the preponderance of evidence only.33
Philippine National Police Referral Letter of one
Police Chief Inspector Virgilio Pereda identifying In Dayap v. Sendiong,34 the Court explained
Daluraya as the suspectin the case of Reckless further:
Imprudence Resulting in Homicide involving the
death of Marina Oliva, and stating that he brought The acquittal of the accused does not automatically
the victim to the Quezon City General Hospital for preclude a judgment against him on the civil aspect
treatment but was declared dead on arrival; and (d) of the case.1wphi1 The extinction of the penal
the subject vehicle was registered in the name of action does not carry with it the extinction of the
Dalurayas aunt, Gloria Zilmar,27 who authorized civil liability where: (a) the acquittal is based on
him to claim the vehicle from the MeTC.28 reasonable doubt as only preponderance of
evidence is required; (b) the court declares that the
Daluraya filed a motion for reconsideration,29 which liability of the accused is only civil; and (c) the civil
the CA denied in a Resolution30 dated November liability of the accused does not arise from or is not
22, 2013,hence, this petition. based upon the crime of which the accused is
acquitted. However, the civil action based on
The Issue Before the Court delictmay be deemed extinguished if there is a
finding on the final judgment in the criminal action
The sole issue advanced for the Courts resolution that the act or omission from which the civil liability
is whether or not the CA was correct in finding may arise did not exist or where the accused did
Daluraya civilly liable for Marina Olivas death not commit the acts or omission imputed to him.
despite his acquittal in the criminal case for
Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide on the Thus, if demurrer is granted and the accused is
ground of insufficiency of evidence. acquitted by the court, the accused has the right to
adduce evidence on the civil aspect of the case
The Courts Ruling unless the court also declares that the act or
omission from which the civil liability may arise did
The petition is meritorious. not exist. This is because when the accused files a
demurrer to evidence, he has not yet adduced
Every person criminally liable for a felony is also evidence both on the criminal and civil aspects of
civilly liable. The acquittal of an accused of the the case. The only evidence on record is the
crime charged, however, does not necessarily evidence for the prosecution. What the trial court
extinguish his civil liability.31 In Manantan v. should do is issue an order or partial judgment
CA,32 the Court expounded on the two kinds of granting the demurrer to evidence and acquitting
acquittal recognized by our law and their the accused, and set the case for continuation of
concomitant effects on the civil liability of the trial for the accused to adduce evidence on the civil
accused, as follows: aspect of the case and for the private complainant
to adduce evidence by way of rebuttal. Thereafter,
the court shall render judgment on the civil aspect
Our law recognizes two kinds of acquittal, with
of the case.35
different effects on the civil liability of the accused.
First is an acquittal on the ground that the accused
is not the author of the actor omission complained (Emphases supplied)
of. This instance closes the door to civil liability, for
In case of an acquittal, the Rules of Court requires
that the judgment state "whether the evidence of
the prosecution absolutely failed to prove the guilt
of the accused or merely failed to prove his guilt
beyond reasonable doubt. In either case, the
judgment shall determine if the act or omission from
which the civil liability might arise did not exist."36

A punctilious examination of the MeTCs Order,


which the RTC sustained, will show that Dalurayas
acquittal was based on the conclusion that the act
or omission from which the civil liability may arise
did not exist, given that the prosecution was not
able to establish that he was the author of the crime
imputed against him. Such conclusion is clear and
categorical when the MeTC declared that "the
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses are
wanting in material details and they did not
sufficiently establish that the accused precisely
committed the crime charged against
him."37 Furthermore, when Marla sought
reconsideration of the MeTCs Order acquitting
Daluraya, said court reiterated and firmly clarified
that "the prosecution was not able to establish that
the accused was the driver of the Nissan Vanette
which bumped Marina Oliva"38 and that "there is no
competent evidence on hand which proves that the
accused was the person responsible for the death
of Marina Oliva."39

Clearly, therefore, the CA erred in construing the


findings of the MeTC, as affirmed by the RTC, that
Dalurayas acquittal was anchored on reasonable
doubt, which would necessarily call for a remand of
the case to the court a quo for the reception of
Dalurayas evidence on the civil
aspect.1wphi1 Records disclose that Dalurayas
acquittal was based on the fact that "the act or
omission from which the civil liability may arise did PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs.
not exist" in view of the failure of the prosecution to
ARMANDO DIONALDO y EBRON, RENATO
sufficiently establish that he was the author of the DIONALDO y EBRON, MARIANO GARIGUEZ, JR. y
crime ascribed against him. Consequently, his civil RAMOS, and RODOLFO LARIDO y EBRON, Accused-
liability should be deemed as non-existent by the Appellants.
nature of such acquittal.
RESOLUTION
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
Decision dated June 28, 2013 and the Resolution PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
dated November 22, 2013 of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. SP No. 125113 are hereby REVERSED Before the Court is an appeal assailing the
and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated September Decision1 dated February 15, 2013 of the Court of
8,2011 and the Order dated May 10, 2012 of the Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02888
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 76 are finding accused-appellants Armando Dionaldo y
REINSTATED. Ebron (Armando), Renato Dionaldo y Ebron
(Renato), Mariano Gariguez, Jr. y Ramos
SO ORDERED. (Mariano), and Rodolfo Larido y Ebron (Rodolfo)
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of investigation, Rodolfo, an employee at the Health Is
Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention. Wealth Gym, confessed to PO3 Acebuche that he
was part of the plan to kidnap Edwin, as in fact he
The Facts was the one who tipped off Mariano, Renato,
Armando and a certain Virgilio7 Varona8 (Virgilio)
At around 8 o'clock in the morning of May 16, 2003, on the condition that he will be given a share in the
Roderick Navarro (Roderick) dropped his brother ransom money. Rodolfo gave information on the
Edwin Navarro (Edwin) off at the Health Is Wealth whereabouts of his cohorts, leading to their arrest
Gym in Caloocan City. Thirty minutes later, he on June 12, 2003. In the early morning of the
received a text message from another brother who following day or on June 13, 2003, the PACER
told him that Edwin had been kidnapped.2 Records team found the dead body of Edwin at Sitio
show that three (3) men, later identified as Pugpugan Laurel, Batangas, which Roderick
Armando, Renato, and Mariano, forcibly dragged a identified.9
bloodied Edwin down the stairway of the gym and
pushed him inside a dark green Toyota car with Thus, accused-appellants as well as Virgilio were
plate number UKF 194.3 Upon receiving the charged in an Information10 which reads:
message, Roderick immediately reported the
incident to the police. At around 10 oclock in the That on or about the 16th day of May, 2003 in
morning of the same day, he received a phone call Caloocan City, Metro Manila and within the
from Edwins kidnappers who threatened to kill jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
Edwin if he should report the matter to the police.4 named accused, conspiring together and mutually
helping one another, being then private persons,
The following day, Roderick received another call did then and there by force and intimidation willfully,
from the kidnappers, who demanded the payment unlawfully and feloniously with the use of motor
of ransom money in the amount of P15,000,000.00. vehicle and superior strength take, carry and
Roderick told them he had no such money, as he deprive EDWIN NAVARRO Y ONA, of his liberty
only had P50,000.00. On May 19, 2003, after against his will, for the purpose of extorting ransom
negotiations over the telephone, the kidnappers as in fact a demand of P15,000,000.00 was made
agreed to release Edwin in exchange for the as a condition of the victims release and on the
amount of P110,000.00. Roderick was then occasion thereof, the death of the victim resulted.
instructed to bring the money to Batangas and wait
for their next call.5 Contrary to law.

At around 7:30 in the evening of the same day, as During arraignment, accused-appellants pleaded
Roderick was on his way to Batangas to deliver the not guilty11 and interposed the defenses of denial
ransom money, the kidnappers called and and alibi. Except for Rodolfo, they individually
instructed him to open all the windows of the car he claimed that on said date and time, they were in
was driving and to turn on the hazard light when he their respective houses when they were taken by
reaches the designated place. After a while, men in police uniforms, then subsequently brought
Roderick received another call directing him to exit to Camp Crame, and there allegedly tortured and
in Bicutan instead and proceed to C-5 until he detained. On the other hand, Rodolfo, for himself,
arrives at the Centennial Village. He was told to averred that at around 8 oclock in the evening of
park beside the Libingan ng mga Bayani. After June 12, 2003, while walking on his way home, he
several hours, an orange Mitsubishi car with plate noticed that a van had been following him.
number DEH 498 pulled up in front of his vehicle Suddenly, four (4) persons alighted from the
where four (4) men alighted. Roderick saw one of vehicle, boarded him inside, blindfolded him, and
the men take a mobile phone and upon uttering the eventually tortured him. He likewise claimed that he
word "alat," the men returned to their car and drove was made to sign an extrajudicial confession,
away.6 purporting too that while a certain Atty.
Nepomuceno had been summoned to assist him,
Meanwhile, a team had been organized to the latter failed to do so.12
investigate the kidnapping of Edwin, headed by
SPO3 Romeo Caballero (SPO3 Caballero) and During trial, the death of the victim, Edwin, was
PO3 Nestor Acebuche (PO3 Acebuche) of the established through a Certificate of Death13 with
Camp Crame Police Anti-Crime Emergency Registry No. 2003-050 (subject certificate of death)
Response (PACER). During the course of the
showing that he died on May 19, 2003 from a sustained the finding that the kidnapping was
gunshot wound on the head. committed for the purpose of extorting ransom, as
sufficiently proven by the testimony of the brother of
The RTC Ruling the victim.22 Moreover, the CA affirmed that
conspiracy attended the commission of the crime,
In a Decision14 dated June 13, 2007, the Regional as the acts of accused-appellants emanated from
Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 129 (RTC), in the same purpose or common design, and they
Crim. Case No. C-68329, convicted accused- were united in its execution.23
appellants of the crime of Kidnapping and Serious
Illegal Detention, sentencing each of them to suffer Separately, the CA found that accused-appellants
the penalty of reclusion perpetua. claims of torture were never supported, and that
Rodolfo voluntarily signed the extrajudicial
It gave credence to the positive and straightforward confession and was afforded competent and
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses which independent counsel in its execution.24
clearly established that it was the
accusedappellants who forcibly dragged a bloodied Aggrieved by their conviction, accused-appellants
Edwin into a car and, consequently, deprived him of filed the instant appeal.
his liberty.15 In light thereof, it rejected accused-
appellants respective alibis and claims of torture, The Issue Before the Court
which were not substantiated. It also held that the
crime of Kidnapping had been committed for the The sole issue to be resolved by the Court is
purpose of extorting ransom, which is punishable whether or not accusedappellants are guilty of the
by death. However, in view of the suspended crime of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention.
imposition of the death penalty pursuant to
Republic Act No. (RA) 9346,16 only the penalty of The Courts Ruling
reclusion perpetua was imposed.17 Further, the
RTC found that conspiracy attended the The appeal is devoid of merit.
commission of the crime, as the accused-
appellants individual participation was geared Well-settled is the rule that the question of
toward a joint purpose and criminal design.18 credibility of witnesses is primarily for the trial court
to determine. Its assessment of the credibility of a
Notably, while the RTC found that the testimonies witness is entitled to great weight, and it is
of the prosecution witnesses prove that the victim conclusive and binding unless shown to be tainted
Edwin was abducted, deprived of liberty, and with arbitrariness or unless, through oversight,
eventually killed,19 a fact which is supported by the some fact or circumstance of weight and influence
subject certificate of death, it did not consider said has not been considered. Absent any showing that
death in its judgment. The CA Ruling the trial judge overlooked, misunderstood, or
misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight
In a Decision20 dated February 15, 2013, the CA which would affect the result of the case, or that the
affirmed in toto the RTCs conviction of accused- judge acted arbitrarily, his assessment of the
appellants, finding that the prosecution was able to credibility of witnesses deserves high respect by
clearly establish all the elements of the crime of the appellate court.25
Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention, namely:
(a) the offender is a private individual; (b) he In this case, the RTC, as affirmed by the CA, gave
kidnaps or detains another, or in any manner weight and credence to the testimonies of the
deprives the latter of his liberty; (c) the act of prosecution witnesses, which they found to be
detention or kidnapping must be illegal; and (d) in straightforward and consistent. Through these
the commission of the offense, any of the following testimonies, it was clearly established that
circumstances is present: (1) the kidnapping or accused-appellants, who were all private
detention lasts for more than three days; (2) it is individuals, took the victim Edwin and deprived him
committed simulating public authority; (3) any of his liberty, which acts were illegal, and for the
serious physical injuries are inflicted upon the purpose of extorting ransom.26 Thus, seeing no
person kidnapped or detained or threats to kill him semblance of arbitrariness or misapprehension on
are made; or (4) the person kidnapped or detained the part of the court a quo, the Court finds no
is a minor, except when the accused is any of the compelling reason to disturb its factual findings on
parents, female or a public officer.21 It likewise this score.1wphi1
Anent the finding that conspiracy attended the 2. If it shall have been committed simulating
commission of the crime, the Court likewise finds public authority.
the conclusion of the RTC in this regard, as
affirmed by the CA, to be well-taken. Conspiracy 3. If any serious physical injuries shall have
exists when two or more persons come to an been inflicted upon the person kidnapped or
agreement concerning the commission of a felony detained; or if threats to kill him shall have
and decide to commit it, and when conspiracy is been made.
established, the responsibility of the conspirators is
collective, not individual, rendering all of them 4. If the person kidnapped or detained shall
equally liable regardless of the extent of their be a minor, except when the accused is any
respective participations.27 In this relation, direct of the parents, female or a public officer;
proof is not essential to establish conspiracy, as it
can be presumed from and proven by the acts of The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or
the accused pointing to a joint purpose, design, detention was committed for the purpose of
concerted action, and community of extorting ransom from the victim or any other
interests.28 Hence, as the factual circumstances in person, even if none of the circumstances above-
this case clearly show that accused-appellants mentioned were present in the commission of the
acted in concert at the time of the commission of offense.
the crime and that their acts emanated from the
same purpose or common design, showing unity in When the victim is killed or dies as a consequence
its execution,29 the CA, affirming the trial court, of the detention or is raped, or is subjected to
correctly ruled that there was conspiracy among torture or dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty
them. shall be imposed. (Emphases supplied)
The foregoing notwithstanding, the Court is, The Court further elucidated in People v.
however, constrained to modify the ruling of the Mercado:32
RTC and the CA, as the crime the
accusedappellants have committed does not, as
In People v. Ramos, the accused was found guilty
the records obviously bear, merely constitute
of two separate heinous crimes of kidnapping for
Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention, but that
ransom and murder committed on July 13, 1994
of the special complex crime of Kidnapping for
and sentenced to death. On appeal, this Court
Ransom with Homicide. This is in view of the
modified the ruling and found the accused guilty of
victims (i.e., Edwins) death, which was (a)
the "special complex crime" of kidnapping for
specifically charged in the Information,30 and (b)
ransom with murder under the last paragraph of
clearly established during the trial of this case.
Article 267, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659.
Notably, while this matter was not among the
This Court said:
issues raised before the Court, the same should
nonetheless be considered in accordance with the
settled rule that in a criminal case, an appeal, as in x x x This amendment introduced in our criminal
this case, throws open the entire case wide open statutes the concept of special complex crime of
for review, and the appellate court can correct kidnapping with murder or homicide. It effectively
errors, though unassigned, that may be found in the eliminated the distinction drawn by the courts
appealed judgment.31 between those cases where the killing of the
kidnapped victim was purposely sought by the
accused, and those where the killing of the victim
After the amendment of the Revised Penal Code on
was not deliberately resorted to but was merely an
December 31, 1993 by RA 7659, Article 267 of the
afterthought. Consequently, the rule now is: Where
same Code now provides:
the person kidnapped is killed in the course of the
detention, regardless of whether the killing was
Art. 267. Kidnapping and serious illegal detention. purposely sought or was merely an afterthought,
Any private individual who shall kidnap or detain the kidnapping and murder or homicide can no
another, or in any other manner deprive him of his longer be complexed under Art. 48, nor be treated
liberty, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua as separate crimes, but shall be punished as a
to death: special complex crime under the last paragraph of
Art. 267, as amended by RA No.
1. If the kidnapping or detention shall have 7659.33 (Emphases supplied; citations omitted)
lasted more than three days.
Thus, further taking into account the fact that the exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000.00
kidnapping was committed for the purpose of to the family of the kidnap victim.
extorting ransom, accused-appellants conviction
must be modified from Kidnapping and Serious In addition, interest at the rate of six percent (6%)
Illegal Detention to the special complex crime of per annum shall be imposed on all damages
Kidnapping for Ransom with Homicide, which awarded from the date of finality of judgment until
carries the penalty of death. As earlier intimated, fully paid, pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence.40
the enactment of RA 9346 had suspended the
imposition of the death penalty. This means that the WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. The
accused-appellants could, as the CA and trial court Decision dated February 15, 2013 of the Court of
properly ruled, only be sentenced to the penalty of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02888 is hereby
reclusion perpetua. To this, the Court adds that the AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that all the
accused-appellants are not eligible for parole.34 accusedappellants herein are equally found
GUILTY of the special complex crime of Kidnapping
On a final note, the Court observes that the RTC for Ransom with Homicide, and are sentenced to
and the CA failed to award civil indemnity as well each suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua,
as damages to the family of the kidnap victim. In without eligibility for parole, and to pay, jointly and
People v. Quiachon,35 the Court explained that severally, the family of the kidnap victim Edwin
even if the death penalty was not to be imposed on Navarro the following amounts: (1) P100,000.00 as
accused-appellants in view of the prohibition in RA civil indemnity; (2) P100,000.00 as moral damages;
9346, the award of civil indemnity was nonetheless and (3) P100,000.00 as exemplary damages, all
proper, not being dependent on the actual with interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per
imposition of the death penalty but on the fact that annum from the date of finality of judgment until
qualifying circumstances warranting the imposition fully paid.
of the death penalty attended the commission of
the crime.36 In the present case, considering that SO ORDERED.
both the qualifying circumstances of ransom and
the death of the victim during captivity were duly
alleged in the information and proven during trial,
civil indemnity in the amount of P100,000.00 must
therefore be awarded to the family of the victim, to
conform with prevailing jurisprudence.37

Similarly, the Court finds that the award of moral


damages is warranted in this case. Under Article
2217 of the Civil Code, moral damages include
physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious REYNALDO V. TUANDA, Mayor of the
anxiety, wounded feelings, moral shock and similar Municipality of Jimalalud, Negros Oriental,
injury, while Article 2219 of the same Code HERMINIGILDO FABURADA, (former Vice-
provides that moral damages may be recovered in Mayor), SANTOS A. VILLANUEVA, Incumbent
cases of illegal detention. It cannot be denied, in Member of the Sangguniang Bayan, MANUEL
this case, that the kidnap victims family suffered LIM, NICANOR R. AGOSTO, ERENIETA K.
mental anguish, fright, and serious anxiety over the MENDOZA MAXIMINO A. VIERNES, HACUBINA
detention and eventually, the death of Edwin. As V. SERILLO, ILUMINADO D. ESTRELLANES,
such, and in accordance with prevailing and FORMER MEMBERS OF THE
jurisprudence,38 moral damages in the amount SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF JIMALALUD,
of P100,000.00 must perforce be awarded to the NEGROS ORIENTAL, petitioners,
family of the victim. vs.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, (THIRD
DIVISION), BARTOLOME BINAOHAN and DELIA
Finally, exemplary damages must be awarded in
ESTRELLANES, respondents.
this case, in view of the confluence of the aforesaid
qualifying circumstances and in order to deter
others from committing the same atrocious acts. In
accordance with prevailing
jurisprudence,39 therefore, the Court awards KAPUNAN, J.:
Petitioners institute this special civil action Prosecutor, hereby accuses
for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the REYNALDO V. TUANDA,
Revised Rules of Court to set aside the resolution HERMENEGILDO G. FABURADA,
of the Sandiganbayan dated 17 February 1992 and MANUEL LIM, NICANOR P.
its orders dated 19 August 1992 and 13 May 1993 AGOSTO, ERENIETA K.
in Criminal Case No. 16936 entitled "People of the MENDOZA, MAXIMO VIERNES,
Philippines versus Reynaldo Tuanda, et al." HACUBINA V. SERILLO, and
denying petitioners' motion for suspension of their SANTOS A. VILLANUEVA of
arraignment. Violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No.
3019, as amended, committed as
The present controversy arose from the following follows:
antecedents:
That during the period
On 9 February 1989, private respondents Delia from February 1989
Estrellanes and Bartolome Binaohan were to February 1991 and
designated as industrial labor sectoral subsequent thereto,
representative and agricultural labor sectoral in the Municipality of
representative respectively, for the Sangguniang Jimalalud, Negros
Bayan of Jimalalud, Province of Negros Oriental by Oriental, and within
then Secretary Luis T. Santos of the Department of the jurisdiction of this
Local Government. Private respondents Binaohan Honorable Court,
and Estrellanes took their oath of office on 16 accused, all public
February 1989 and 17 February 1989, respectively. officers, Mayor
REYNALDO V.
Subsequently, petitioners filed an undated petition TUANDA, Vice-Mayor
with the Office of the President for review and recall HERMENEGILDO G.
of said designations. The latter, however, in a letter FABURADA,
dated 20 March 1989, denied the petition and Sangguniang
enjoined Mayor Reynaldo Tuanda to recognize Members MANUEL
private respondents as sectoral representatives. LIM, NICANOR P.
AGOSTO,
On 4 May 1990, private respondents filed a petition ERENIETA K.
for mandamus with the Regional Trial Court of MENDOZA, MAXIMO
Negros Oriental, Branch 35, docketed as Special A. VIERNES,
Civil Action No. 9661, for recognition as members HACUBINA V.
of the Sangguniang Bayan. It was dismissed on 23 SERILLO,
July 1991. ILUMINADO D.
ESTRELLANES and
Thereafter, on 20 June 1991, petitioners filed an SANTOS A.
action with the Regional Trial Court of Dumaguete VILLANUEVA while in
City to declare null and void the designations of the performance of
private respondents as sectoral representatives, their official functions
docketed as Civil Case No. 9955 entitled "Reynaldo and taking advantage
Tuanda, et al. versus Secretary of the Department of their public
of Local Government, et al." positions, with evident
bad faith, manifest
partiality, and
On 21 July 1991, an information was filed before
conspiring and
the Sandiganbayan, docketed as Criminal Case
confederating with
No. 16936 entitled "People of the Philippines
each other did, then
versus Reynaldo Tuanda, et al." charging
and there, wilfully and
petitioners thus:
unlawfully cause
undue injury to
INFORMATION Sectoral Members
Bartolome M.
The undersigned Special Binaohan and Delia
Prosecution Officer of the Special
T. Estrellanes by before the President
refusing to pay (or the Secretary of
despite demand the the Department of
amount of NINETY Local Government)
FIVE THOUSAND may appoint
THREE HUNDRED members of the local
FIFTY PESOS legislative bodies to
(P95,350.00) and represent the
ONE HUNDRED Industrial and
EIGHT THOUSAND Agricultural Labor
NINE HUNDRED Sectors, there must
PESOS be a determination to
(P108,900.00) be made by the
representing Sanggunian itself that
respectively their per the said sectors are
diems, salaries and of sufficient number in
other privileges and the city or
benefits, and such municipality to
undue injury warrant
continuing to the representation after
present to the consultation with
prejudice and associations and
damage of Bartolome persons belonging to
Binaohan and Delia the sector concerned.
Estrellanes.
The Supreme Court further ruled
1
CONTRARY TO LAW.
For that matter, the
On 9 September 1991, petitioners filed a motion Implementing Rules
with the Sandiganbayan for suspension of the and Regulations of
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 16936 on the the Local
ground that a prejudicial question exists in Civil Government Code
Case No. 9955 pending before the Regional Trial even prescribe the
Court of Dumaguete City. 2 time and manner by
which such
On 16 January 1992, the Regional Trial Court determination is to be
rendered a decision declaring null and void ab conducted by the
initio the designations issued by the Department of Sanggunian.
Local Government to the private respondents as
sectoral representatives for having been done in Consequently, in
violation of Section 146 (2) of B.P. Blg. 337, cases where the
otherwise known as the Local Government Code. 3 Sanggunian
concerned has not
The trial court expounded thus: yet determined that
the Industrial and
The Supreme Court in the case of Agricultural Labor
Johnny D. Supangan Jr. v. Luis T. Sectors in their
Santos, et al., G.R. No. 84663, along particular city or
with 7 companion cases of similar municipality are of
import, (G.R. Nos. 05012, 87601, sufficient number to
87602, 87792, 87935, 88072, and warrant
90205) all promulgated on August representation, there
24, 1990, ruled that: will absolutely be no
basis for the
B.P. Blg. 337 designation/appointm
explicitly required that ents.
In the process of such inquiry as to private respondents
the sufficiency in number of the Romeo F. Bularan
sector concerned to warrant and Rafael Cortez are
representation, the Sanggunian is null and void (Romeo
enjoined by law (B.P. Blg. 337) to Llanado, et al. v. Hon.
consult with associations and Luis Santos, et al.,
persons belonging to the sector G.R. No. 86394,
concerned. Consultation with the August 24, 1990). 4
sector concerned is made a pre-
requisite. This is so considering that Private respondents appealed the aforestated
those who belong to the said sector decision to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-
are the ones primarily interested in G.R. CV No. 36769, where the same is currently
being represented in the pending resolution.
Sanggunian. In the same aforecited
case, the Supreme Court considers Meanwhile, on 17 February 1992, respondent
such prior determination by the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denying the
Sanggunian itself (not by any other motion for suspension of proceedings filed by
person or body) as a condition sine petitioners. Said respondent Sandiganbayan:
qua non to a valid appointment or
designation. Despite the pendency of Civil Case
No. 9955 of the Regional Trial Court
Since in the present case, there was of Negros Oriental, it appears,
total absence of the required prior nevertheless, that the private
determination by the Sangguniang complainants have been rendering
Bayan of Jimalalud, this Court services on the basis of their
cannot help but declare the respective appointments as sectoral
designations of private defendants members of the Sangguniang Bayan
as sectoral representatives null and of the Municipality of Jimalalud,
void. Negros Oriental; and that their said
appointments enjoy the presumption
This verdict is not without of regularity. Having rendered such
precedence. In several similar services, the private complainants
cases, the Supreme Court invariably are entitled to the salaries attached
nullified the designations where the to their office. Even
requirements of Sec. 146 (2), B.P. assuming arguendo that the said
Blg. 337 were not complied with. Regional Trial Court shall later
Just to cite one case, the Supreme decide that the said appointments of
Court ruled: the private complainants are null and
void, still the private complainants
There is no are entitled to their salaries and
certification from the compensation for service they have
Sangguniang Bayan actually rendered, for the reason that
of Valenzuela that the before such judicial declaration of
sectors concerned nullity, the private complainants are
are of sufficient considered at least de facto public
number to warrant officers acting as such on the basis
representation and of apparently valid appointmen