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MRR vs Atty Gen (Digest)

Appeal from a judgment of the CFI Tarlac dismissing the action before it on motion of the plaintiff upon the ground that the
court had no jurisdiction of the subject matter of the controversy.

On Dec 1907, Manila Railroad Co. began an action in CFI Tarlac for the condemnation of 69,910 sq. m. real estate
located in Tarlac. This is for construction of a railroad line "from Paniqui to Tayug in Tarlac,"
Before beginning the action, Mla Railroad had caused to be made a thorough search in the Office of the Registry of
Property and of the Tax where the lands sought to be condemned were located and to whom they belonged. As a result of
such investigations, it alleged that the lands in question were located in Tarlac.
After filing and duly serving the complaint, the plaintiff, pending final determination of the action, took possession of and
occupied the lands described in the complaint, building its line and putting the same in operation.
On Oct 4, Mla Railroad gave notice to the defendants that on Oct. 9, a motion would be made to the court to dismiss the
action upon the ground that the court had no jurisdiction of the subject matter, it having just been ascertained by the
plaintiff that the land sought to be condemned was situated in the Province of Nueva Ecija, instead of the Province of
Tarlac, as alleged in the complaint. This motion was heard and, after due consideration, the trial court dismissed the action
upon the ground presented by the plaintiff.

WON CFI Tarlac has power and authority to take cognizance of condemnation of real estate located in another

YES, Sections 55 and 56[1] of Act No. 136 of the Philippine Commission confer perfect and complete jurisdiction upon the
CFI of these Islands with respect to real estate. Such jurisdiction is not made to depend upon locality. There is no
suggestion of limitation. The jurisdiction is universal. It is nowhere provided, that a CFI of one province, regularly sitting in
said province, may not under certain conditions take cognizance of an action arising in another province or of an action
relating to real estate located outside of the boundaries of the province to which it may at the time be assigned.
Procedure does not alter or change that power or authority; it simply directs the manner in which it shall be fully and justly
exercised. To be sure, in certain cases, if that power is not exercised in conformity with the provisions of the procedural
law, purely, the court attempting to exercise it loses the power to exercise it legally. This does not mean that it loses
jurisdiction of the subject matter. It means simply that he may thereby lose jurisdiction of the person or that the judgment
may thereby be rendered defective for lack of something essential to sustain it.
As to the subject matter, nothing can change the jurisdiction of the court over diminish it or dictate when it shall attach or
when it shall be removed. That is a matter of legislative enactment which none but the legislature may change. On the
other hand, the jurisdiction of the court over the person is, in some instances, made to defend on the consent or objection,
on the acts or omissions of the parties or any of them. Jurisdiction over the person, however, may be conferred by
consent, expressly or impliedly given, or it may, by an objection, be prevented from attaching or removed after it has

WON Sec. 377[2] of the Code of Civil Procedure and Act. No. 1258[3] are applicable and so the CFI has no

NO, the terms of section 377 providing that actions affecting real property shall be brought in the province where the land
involved in the suit, or some part thereof, is located, do not affect the jurisdiction of CFI over the land itself but relate
simply to the personal rights of parties as to the place of trial.

That it had jurisdiction of the persons of all the parties is indisputable. That jurisdiction was obtained not only by the usual
course of practice - that is, by the process of the court - but also by consent expressly given, is apparent. The plaintiff
submitted itself to the jurisdiction by beginning the action. The defendants are now in this court asking that the action be
not dismissed but continued. They are not only nor objecting to the jurisdiction of the court but, rather, are here on this
appeal for the purpose of maintaining that very jurisdiction over them. Nor is the plaintiff in any position to asked for
favors. It is clearly guilty of gross negligence in the allegations of its complaint, if the land does not lie in Tarlac as it now


The question of venue does not relate to jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter, it simply granting to the
defendant certain rights and privileges as against the plaintiff relative to the place of trial, which rights and privileges he
might waive expressly or by implication.

Venue becomes merely a matter of method, of convenience to the parties litigant. If their interests are best subserved by
bringing in the Court Instance of the city of Manila an action affecting lands in the Province of Ilocos Norte, there is no
controlling reason why such a course should not be followed. The matter is, under the law, entirely within the control of
either party. The plaintiff's interests select the venue. If such selection is not in accordance with section 377, the defendant
may make timely objection and, as a result, the venue is changed to meet the requirements of the law.

Section 377 of the Code of Civil Procedure is not applicable to actions by railroad corporations to condemn lands; and
that, while with the consent of defendants express or implied the venue may be laid and the action tried in any province
selected by the plaintiff nevertheless the defendants whose lands lie in one province, or any one of such defendants, may,
by timely application to the court, require the venue as to their, or, if one defendant, his, lands to be changed to the
province where their or his lands lie. In such case the action as to all of the defendants not objecting would continue in the
province where originally begun. It would be severed as to the objecting defendants and ordered continued before the
court of the appropriate province or provinces. While we are of that opinion and so hold it can not affect the decision in the
case before us for the reason that the defendants are not objecting to the venue and are not asking for a change thereof.
They have not only expressly submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the court but are here asking that that jurisdiction
be maintained against the efforts of the plaintiff to remove it.
The judgment must be REVERSED and the case REMANDED to the trial court with direction to proceed with the action
according to law.

Supporting American jurisprudence

1. First National Bank of Charlotte vs. Morgan (132 U.S., 141):

The exemption of national banks from suits in State courts in counties other than the county in which the association was
located was a personal privilege which could be waived.

This exemption of national banking associations from suits in State courts, (aside from principal office) wasprescribed for
the convenience of those institutions. However, the defendant did notchoose to claim immunity from suit in that court. It
made defense upon the merits, and, having been unsuccessful, and in the latter tribunal, for the first time, claimed the
immunity granted to it by Congress.

2. Ex parte Schollenberger (96 U.S., 369):

The Act of Congress prescribing the place where a person may be sued is not one affecting the general jurisdiction of the
courts. It is rather in the nature of a personal exemption in favor of a defendant, and it is one which he may waive. Here,
the defendant companies have provided that they can be found in a district other than that in which they reside, if a
particular mode of proceeding is adopted, and they have been so found.

3. St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Co. vs. McBride (141 U.S., 127):
The right to insist upon suit only in the one district is a personal privilege which he may waive, and he does waive it by
pleading to the merits.

4. Chouteau vs. Allen (70 Mo., 290):

Though the suit was brought in the county in which the plaintiff resided, and service had upon the defendant in the county
of his residence, unless a plea in abatement to the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the defendant, was
interposed in the first instance, the objection on the score of lack of jurisdiction could not subsequently be successfully

It is not meant to convey the idea that the mere failure to plead to the jurisdiction of the court would have the effect to
confer jurisdiction where none existed before; for it is well settled that even consent of parties cannot confer jurisdiction.
But all circuit courts have a general jurisdiction over the foreclosure of mortgages.

5. De La Vega vs. Keague (64 Texas, 205):

Every district court in the State has cognizance of such suits; the requirement as to the county in which the suit may be
brought is a mere personal privilege granted to the parties, which may be waived like any other privilege of this character.

Supporting Spanish jurisprudence

1. He who by his own acts submits himself to the jurisdiction of a court shall not thereafter be permitted to question
such jurisdiction. (Judgment of December 30, 1893, 29 Civ. Jur., 64.)

2. According to article 305 (of the Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil) the plaintiff shall be presumed to have tacitly
submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court by the mere act of filing his complaint therein, and in the case of
the defendant where the latter after appearing in the action takes any step therein other than to object to such
jurisdiction. (Judgment of September 21, 1878, 40 Civ. Jur., 232.)

3. In order that a tacit submission based upon the mere act filing the complaint may be valid the court must be one
of ordinary jurisdiction as provided in article 4 of the Ley de Ebjuiciamiento Civil. (Judgment of August 27, 1864,
10 Civ. Jur., 14.)

Supporting English jurisprudence

1. The Earl of Halsbury's Laws of England (vol. 1, p. 50):

The old distinction between 'local' and 'transitory' actions, though of far less importance than it was before the passing of
the judicature acts, must still be borne in mind in connection with actions relating to land situate outside the local
jurisdiction of our courts. 'Transitory' actions were those in which the facts in issue between the parties had no necessary
connection with a particular locality, e.g., contract, etc.; whilst "local" actions were those in which there was such a
connection, e.g., disputes as to the title to, or trespasses to, land.

In the case of local actions the plaintiff was bound to lay the venue truly, i.e., in the county (originally in the actual
hundred) in which the land in question lay. In the case, however of a transitory action, he might lay it wherever he pleased,
subject to the power of the court to alter it in a proper case. Local venues have now been abolished, and, therefore, so far
as actions relating to land in England are concerned, the distinction may be disregarded.

It is, however, important from another point of view, viz, that of jurisdiction as distinct from procedure. In the case of real
actions relating to land in the colonies or foreign countries the English courts had, even before the judicature acts, no
jurisdiction; and, therefore, the removal by those acts of a difficulty of procedure viz, the rule as to local venue which might
have stood in the way, if they had and wished to exercise jurisdiction, did not in any way confer jurisdiction in such cases.
The lack of jurisdiction still exists, and our courts refuse to adjudicate upon claims of title to foreign land in proceedings
founded on an alleged invasion of the proprietary rights attached thereto, and to award damages founded on that
adjudication; in other words, an action for trespass to, or for recovery of, foreign land can not be maintained in England, at
any rate if the defendant chooses to put in issue the ownership of such land.

Existing Ph Jurisprudence Not Applicable

1. Serrano vs. Chanco (5 Phil. Rep., 431)
The matter before the court was the jurisdiction of the CFI over the actions and proceedings relating to the settlement of
the estates of deceased persons. The determination of that question required the consideration of section 602 of the code
of Civil Procedure rather than section 377. The argument of the court touching the last-named section, is inapplicable.

2. Molina vs. De la Riva (6 Phil. Rep., 12)

The issue was WON an agreement between parties to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of a particular court to the
exclusion of the court provided by law as the appropriate court in the premises could be enforced.

3. Molina vs. De la Riva (7 Phil. Rep., 302)

The court was not discussing or deciding the question WON an action could be maintained in the CFI Manila to foreclose
a mortgage on real estate located in Albay; but, rather, whether or not an action could be maintained in the CFI of the city
of Manila to foreclose a mortgage on personal property located in the Province of Albay. The remark of the court that
perhaps the former action could not be maintained was not intended to be decisive and was not thought at the time to be
an indication of what the decision of the court might be if that precise case were presented to it with full argument and
citation of authorities.

4. Castano vs. Lobingier (9 Phil. Rep., 310)

Jurisdiction of the CFI to issue a writ of prohibition against a justice of the peace holding his court outside the province in
which the CFI was sitting at the time of issuing the writ. The determination of the question presented different
considerations and different provisions of law from those which rule the decision of the case at bar.

Special Laws Relating to The Condemnation Of Land By Railroad Companies

1. Act No. 1258, SEC. 3. Whenever a railroad corporation is authorized by law, to exercise the power of eminent
domain and has not obtained by agreement with the owners thereof the lands necessary for its purposes as
authorized by law, it may in its complaint shall be instituted in the CFI of the province where the lands is situated.

These special laws contain nothing which in any way indicates an intention of the legislature to alter the nature or extent
of the jurisdiction of CFIs granted by Act No. 136. As we said in discussing the provisions of section 377 of the Code of
Civil Procedure, we cannot hold that jurisdiction to be limited unless by express provision or clear intendment.
We have thus far drawn an analogy between section 377 of the code of Civil Procedure and section 3 of Act No. 1258,
asserting that neither the one nor the other was intended to restrict, much less deprive, the CFIs of the jurisdiction over
lands in the Philippine Islands conferred upon them by Act No. 136.

[1] SEC. 55. Jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance. The jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance shall be of two kinds: 1.
Original; and 2. Appellate.

SEC. 56. Its original jurisdiction. Courts of First Instance shall have original jurisdiction:

2. In all civil actions which involve the title to or possession of real property, or any interest therein, or the legality of any
tax, impost, or assessment, except actions of forcible entry into, and detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction of
which is by this Act conferred upon courts of justice of the peace.

[2] SEC. 377. Venue of actions. Actions to confirm title to real estate, or to secure a partition of real estate, or to cancel
clouds, or remove doubts from the title to real estate, or to obtain possession of real estate, or to recover damages for
injuries to real estate, or to establish any interest, right, or title in or to real estate, or actions for the condemnation of real
estate for public use, shall be brought in the province were the lands, or some part thereof, is situated; actions against
executors, administrators, and guardians touching the performance of their official duties, and actions for account and
settlement by them, and actions for the distribution of the estates of deceased persons among the heirs and distributes,
and actions for the payment of legacies, shall be brought in the province in which the will was admitted to probate, or
letters of administration were granted, or the guardian was appointed. And all actions not herein otherwise provided for
may be brought in any province where the defendant or any necessary party defendant may reside or be found, or in any
province where the plaintiff, except in cases were other special provision is made in this Code. In case neither the plaintiff
nor the defendant resides within the Philippine Islands and the action is brought to seize or obtain title to property of the
defendant within the Philippine Islands and the action is brought to seize or obtain title to property of the defendant within
the Philippine Islands, the action shall be brought in the province where the property which the plaintiff seeks to seize or to
obtain title to is situated or is found: Provided, that in an action for the foreclosure of a mortgage upon real estate, when
the service upon the defendant is not personal, but is by publication, in accordance with law, the action must be brought in
the province where the land lies. And in all cases process may issue from the court in which an action or special
proceeding is pending, to be enforced in any province to bring in defendants peaches and to enforce all orders and
decrees of the court. Thefailure of a defendant to object to the venue of the action at the time of entering his appearance
in the action shall be deemed a waiver on his part of all objection to the place or tribunal in which the action is brought,
except in the actions referred to in the first sixteen lines of this section relating to real estate, and actions against
executors, administrators, and guardians, and for the distribution of estates and payment of legacies.

[3] Special law covering rail roads