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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 75349 October 13, 1986

ROSALINA BUAN, RODOLFO TOLENTINO, TOMAS MERCADO, CECILIA MORALES, LIZA


OCAMPO, Quiapo Church Vendors, for themselves and all others similarly situated as
themselves, petitioners,
vs.
OFFICER-IN-CHARGE GEMILIANO C. LOPEZ, JR., OFFICE OF THE MAYOR OF
MANILA, respondent.

NARVASA, J.:

On August 5, 1986 petitioners instituted in this Court a special civil action for prohibition to the
end that respondent Gemiliano C. Lopez, Jr., acting as Mayor of the City of Manila, be
"perpetually prohibited from arbitrarily, whimsically and capriciously revoking or cancelling ...
their licenses or permits (as hawkers or street vendors) and threatening the physical demolition
of their respective business stalls in the places specified in such licenses or permits. 1 They also
sought a temporary restraining order in view of Mayor Lopez' actual threats of physical
demolition of their respective small business establishment at 12:00 noon today." This the
Court granted on the same day. 2

Petitioners claim to be five of about 130 "licensed and duly authorized vendors of ... religious
articles, medicine herbs and plants around the Quiapo Church, ... Manila," bringing suit 'for
themselves and all others similarly situated as themselves." 3 They allege that their licenses
"were revoked or cancelled (by respondent Mayor) for reasons unknown to them which is
tantamount to deprivation of property without due process of laws," written notice of such
cancellation having been served on them on or about May 30 (actually May 3), 1986; that the
revocation of their licenses was beyond respondent Mayor's competence, since Section 171 (n)
of the Local Government Code (B.P. Blg. 337) authorizes the same only "for violation of the law
or ordinances or conditions upon which they have been granted " and no such violation had
been committed by them; 4 but this notwithstanding, respondent Mayor "had given (them) an
ultimatum of 7:00 up to 12:00 o'clock in the afternoon" (of August 5, 1986) to vacate the
premises where their respective stalls are situated or suffer physical demolition thereof. 5

In the light of the facts disclosed by the pleadings 6 and at the hearing of the case on August 13,
1986, the petition must be given short shrift.
The action must in the first place be abated on the ground of lis pendens, or more
correctly, auter action pendant pendency Of another action between the same parties for the
same cause. 7

It appears that on July 7, 1986 there was filed in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, docketed as
Civil Case No. 8636563, a special civil action of "prohibition with preliminary injunction" against
Acting Manila City Mayor Gemiliano Lopez, Jr. 8 It was filed by Samahang Kapatiran Sa
Hanapbuhay Ng Bagong Lipunan, Inc." (hereafter, simply "Samahan") composed, according to
the petition, of "some 300 individual owners and operators of separate business stalls ... mostly
at the periphery immediately 0beyond the fence of the Quiapo Church." The president of the
Samahan is Rosalina Buan and its Press Relations Officer, Liza Ocampo. 9 Rosalina Buan and Liza
Ocampo are two of the five petitioners in the case at bar, 10 described in the petition before this
Court as suing "for themselves and all others similarly situated as themselves": i.e., vendors
"around the Quiapo Church." 11 The three other petitioners also appear to
be Samahan members. 12

The petition in Case No. 86-36563 is grounded on the same facts as those in the case at bar: the
members of the Samahan had been legitimately engaged "in their respective business of selling
sundry merchandise, more particularly religious articles, flowers and ornamental plants, and
medicinal herbs;" they had been religiously paying "the corresponding license and permit fees
imposed by prevailing ordinances of the City of Manila," but this notwithstanding they had
been given written notice dated May 3, 1986 emanating from the Mayor's Office, advising of
the cancellation of their permits and their possible relocation to another site; and these acts
"are unjust, illegal arbitrary, oppressive and constitute grave abuse of discretion on the part of
the respondent.

There thus exists between the action before this Court and RTC Case No. 86-36563 Identity of
parties, or at least such parties as represent the same interests in both actions, as well as
Identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts, and
the Identity on the two preceding particulars is such that any judgment rendered in the other
action, will regardless of which party is successful, amount to res adjudicata in the action under
consideration: all the requisites, in fine, of auter action pendant. 13

Indeed, the petitioners in both actions, described in their petitions as vendors of religious
articles, herbs and plants, and sundry merchandise around the Quiapo Church or its
"periphery," have incurred not only the sanction of dismissal of their case before this Court in
accordance with Rule 16 of the Rules of Court, but also the punitive measure of dismissal of
both their actions, that in this Court and that in the Regional Trial Court as well Quite recently,
upon substantially Identical factual premises, the Court en banc had occasion to condemn and
penalize the act of litigants of hearing the same suit in different courts, aptly described as
"forum-shopping," viz:

The acts of petitioners constitute a clear case of forum shopping, an act of


malpractice that is proscribed and condemned as trifling with the courts and
abusing their processes. It is improperconduct that tends to degrade the
administration of justice. The rule has been formalized in Section 17 of the
Interim Rules and Guidelines issued by this Court on January 11, 1983 in
connection with the implementation of the Judiciary Reorganization Act,
specifically with the grant in Section 9 of B.P. Blg. 129 of equal original
jurisdiction to the Intermediate Appellate Court to issue writs of mandamus,
prohibition, etc., and auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in aid Of its
appellate jurisdiction. Thus, the cited Rule provides that no such petition may be
filed in the Intermediate Appellate Court 'if another similar petition has been
filed or is still pending in the Supreme Court' and vice-versa. The Rule orders that
"A violation of the rule shall constitute contempt of court and shall be a cause
for the summary dismissal of both petitions, without prejudice to the taking of
appropriate action against the counsel or party concerned." The rule applies with
equal force where the party having filed an action in the Supreme Court shops
for the same remedy of prohibition and a restraining order or injunction in the
regional trial court (or vice-versa). ... 14

As already observed, there is between the action at bar and RTC Case No. 86-36563, an Identity
as regards parties, or interests represented, rights asserted and relief sought, as well as basis
thereof, to a degree sufficient to give rise to the ground for dismissal known as auter action
pendant or lis pendens 15 That same Identity puts into operation the sanction Of twin dismissals
just mentioned. The application of this sanction will prevent any further delay in the settlement
of the controversy which might ensue from attempts to seek reconsideration of or to appeal
from the Order of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 86-36563 promulgated on July 15,
1986, which dismissed the petition upon grounds which appear persuasive. 16

It would seem that after the filing by Rosalina Buan and Liza Ocampo (president and press
relations officer, respectively, of the Quiapo Church vendors' association known as
the Samahan) of the petition in this case, "for themselves and all others similarly situated as
themselves" (i.e., the members of the Samahan; who are vendors in the area of Quiapo Church)
they came to the belated that in view of the pendency of the Identical action filed by them in
the Regional Trial Court (Case No. 86-36563), they were vulnerable to the accusation of "forum
shopping," and thus amenable to its dire consequences. This explains the filing in this Court by
their lawyers of a "MANIFESTATION WITH AFFIDAVIT OF WITHDRAWAL" on August 11,
1986, 17 another "MANIFESTATION AND MOTION" on August 29, 1986, and an "URGENT
MANIFESTATION AND MOTION TO STRIKE-OUT THE NAME ROSALINA BUAN AND LIZA
OCAMPO" on September 13, 1986. In these manifestations the case is made that the five (5)
petitioners in the action before this Court who are members of the Samahan "were forcibly
brainwashed and guarded by ... (Atty. Reynaldo Aralar) and his associates to accede to the
invitation of the said counsel ... to appear for them and file the case before the Honorable
Court knowingly (sic) that he was furnished the status quo-order of the same case pending
before the Regional Trial Court Branch 45 of Manila," and/or said Atty. Aralar and his associates
had perpetrated "piracy" of clients and "should be condemned and suspended for committing
act of shopping for courts." The claim does not inspire belief. It is so out of the ordinary as to
require clear and convincing evidence of its actuality, which is lacking in this case. It is also
belied by the fact that Rosalina Buan and Liza Ocampo themselves were among those who
verified the petition at bar before a notary public. 18 And the claim is undermined by the
misrepresentation in Buan's and Ocampo's "Joint Affidavit of Withdrawal" that the status quo
order in RTC Case No. 8636563 was still subsisting and the case still pending trial 19 when in
truth, the case had already been dismissed and the restraining order lifted by Order of July 27,
1986.

Yet another reason exists for the denial of the petition. Not one of the petitioners or the
"others similarly situated as themselves" had a valid and subsisting license or permit as of the
date of the filing of their petition in this Court, August 5, 1986, all licenses and permits having
expired prior thereto. 20 This is confirmed by the few receipts submitted by petitioners 21 which
all set out expiry dates before August 5, 1986. The petitioners thus have no basis whatever to
postulate a right to ply their trade in the Quiapo area or elsewhere. The argument that the non-
renewal by the municipal authorities of their licenses was in effect a cancellation or revocation
thereof without cause is puerile.

Finally, the action for prohibition has become moot and academic by the occurrence of the acts
sought to be inhibited. The petitioners' permits and licenses have all expired; hence, there can
be no occasion whatsoever to speak of the inhibition of any revocation or cancellation thereof.
And the "physical demolition of their respective business stalls" has already been
consummated.

WHEREFORE, the petition is denied for lack of merit, and the Regional Trial Court is
commanded to dismiss Civil Case No. 86-36563 and to conduct no further proceedings in
connection therewith save in accordance with and in implementation of this Decision. Costs
against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
Valmonte v. CA Digest

G.R. No. 108538 January 22, 1996


Ponente: Mendoza, J.:

Service of Summons

Facts:

1. Petitioner Lourdes A. Valmonte is a foreign resident. Petitioners Lourdes and


Alfredo are husband and wife both residents of 90222 Carkeek Drive South Seattle,
Washington, U.S.A. Petitioner Alfredo D. Valmonte, who is a member of the Philippine
bar, however, practices his profession in the Philippines, commuting for this purpose
between his residence in the state of Washington and Manila, where he holds office at
S-304 Gedisco Centre, 1564 A. Mabini, Ermita, Manila.
2. Private respondent Rosita Dimalanta, who is the sister of petitioner filed an
action for partition against former and her husband. She alleged that, the plaintiff is of
legal age, a widow and is at present a resident of 14823 Conway Road, Chesterfield,
Missouri, U.S.A., while the defendants are spouses but, for purposes of this complaint
may be served with summons at Gedisco Center, Unit 304, 1564 A. Mabini St., Ermita,
Manila where defendant Alfredo D. Valmonte as defendant Lourdes Arreola Valmontes
spouse holds office and where he can be found.He husband was also her counsel, who
has a law office in the Philippines. The summons were served on her husband.
3. Petitioner in a letter, referred private respondents counsel to her husband as
the party to whom all communications intended for her should be sent. Service of
summons was then made upon petitioner Alfredo at his office in Manila. Alfredo D.
Valmonte accepted his summons, but not the one for Lourdes, on the ground that he
was not authorized to accept the process on her behalf. Accordingly the process server
left without leaving a copy of the summons and complaint for petitioner Lourdes A.
Valmonte.
4. Petitioner Alfredo D. Valmonte thereafter filed his Answer with Counterclaim.
Petitioner Lourdes A. Valmonte, however, did not file her Answer. For this reason
private respondent moved to declare her in default. Petitioner Alfredo D. Valmonte
entered a special appearance in behalf of his wife and opposed the private respondents
motion. RTC denied the MR of respondents. CA declared petitioner Lourdes in default.
Said decision was received by Alfredo hence this petition.

Issue: Whether or not petitioner Lourdes A. Valmonte was validly served with summons.
NO.
There was no valid service of summons on Lourdes.
1. The action herein is in the nature of an action quasi in rem. Such an action is essentially for
the purpose of affecting the defendants interest in a specific property and not to render a
judgment against him. As petitioner Lourdes A. Valmonte is a nonresident who is not found in
the Philippines, service of summons on her must be in accordance with Rule 14, 17. Such
service, to be effective outside the Philippines, must be made either (1) by personal service; (2)
by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in such places and for such time as the
court may order, in which case a copy of the summons and order of the court should be sent by
registered mail to the last known address of the defendant; or (3) in any other manner which
the court may deem sufficient.
2. In the case at bar, the service of summons upon petitioner Lourdes A. Valmonte was not
done by means of any of the first two modes. This mode of service, like the first two, must be
made outside the Philippines, such as through the Philippine Embassy in the foreign country
where the defendant resides. The service of summons on petitioner Alfredo D. Valmonte was
not made upon the order of the court as required by Rule 14, 17 and certainly was not a
mode deemed sufficient by the court which in fact refused to consider the service to be valid
and on that basis declare petitioner Lourdes A. Valmonte in default for her failure to file an
answer.
3. Secondly, the service in the attempted manner on petitioner was not made upon prior leave
of the trial court as required also in Rule 14, 17. As provided in 19, such leave must be
applied for by motion in writing, supported by affidavit of the plaintiff or some person on his
behalf and setting forth the grounds for the application.
4. Finally, and most importantly, because there was no order granting such leave, petitioner
Lourdes was not given ample time to file her Answer which, according to the rules, shall be not
less than sixty (60) days after notice.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 75000 February 27, 1987

DENSO (PHILS.), INC., petitioner,


vs.
THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT AND KAYAMANAN DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION, respondents.

NARVASA, J.:

On June 23, 1984, at about 11 o'clock in the evening, a fire broke out at the Nippondenso
Building at Pasong Tamo Ext., Makati, Metro Manila. The building was owned by the
Kayamanan Development Corporation (hereafter, simply referred to as KAYAMANAN), and was
then under lease to Denso (Phils), Inc. (hereafter, simply DENSO). The fire caused extensive
damage. DENSO and its correspondent firm in Japan, NIPPONDENSO, reportedly suffered losses
amounting to P6,131,976.65 and P682,212.58, respectively. On the other hand, KAYAMANAN's
loss was placed at P1,750,000.00. 1

A year or so later, KAYAMANAN instituted an action against DENSO in the Regional Trial Court
at Makati, which was docketed as Civil Case No. 10768, for recovery of (a) unpaid rentals from
June, 1984 to March, 1985, amounting to an aggregate of P471,546.69; (b) the cost of repairing
the damage caused by the fire to the leased building, it being alleged that DENSO was bound to
bear said cost under their lease agreement; and (c) unrealized monthly rents and attorney's
fees. 2

Summons was served on DENSO on June 10, 1985. It would seem, however, that the summons
(together with the accompanying copy of the complaint) was not referred by DENSO to its
counsel until June 22, 1985. This prompted the latter to file on June 25, 1985 a "MOTION FOR
EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE ANSWER," pleading the late referral, the need to attend to other
legal work of equal importance, as well as the time requirement for study of the factual and
legal points involved in the action, and praying, in consequence, for an additional period of 15
days from June 25 within which to present the requisite responsive pleading. 3 The motion
closed with a "Notice of Hearing" addressed to the Clerk of Court, asking that the motion be
submitted to the court for consideration and approval immediately upon its receipt; and a
notation that a copy of the motion had been furnished plaintiff KAYAMANAN's counsel. 4 The
copy of the motion was actually received by KAYAMANAN's counsel the following day, June 26,
1985 . 5
The motion for extension was however denied by Order of Judge Teofilo Guadiz, Jr. dated June
26, 1985, "considering," according to His Honor, "that there was no proof of service that
plaintiff received a copy of said motion." 6 At 4 o'clock in the afternoon of that same day, June
26, 1985, KAYAMANAN presented an "Ex parte Motion to Declare Defendant in Default"
asserting that the reglementary period of 15 days for DENSO to file answer had expired on June
25, 1985 without any answer having been filed, but making no reference to DENSO's motion for
extension which, as above stated, had been received by it on June 26, 1985. 7 On the same
day, June 26, l985, Judge Guadiz promulgated an Order deeming the motion for default to be
"well-taken," and accordingly declaring DENSO in default and setting the reception of
KAYAMANAN's evidence ex-parte on the following day, June 27, 1985, at 2 o'clock in the
afternoon. 8 At that appointed date and time, the Court-did receive KAYAMANAN's evidence ex-
parte; and four (4) days later, on July 1, 1985, Judge Guadiz rendered judgment by default,
sentencing DENSO to pay to KAYAMANAN P471,546.69 as accumulated monthly rentals and
cost of services from June, 1984 to March 1985; P2,856,000.30 as the reasonable cost of repair
of the "damage building" (sic); and 10% of the total amounts awarded, as attorney's fees. 9

While all this was happening, and evidently in complete ignorance thereof, DENSO's counsel
drew up its answer to the complaint, which was completed on July 5, 1985 and filed on July 8,
1985. To this pleading were appended copies of letters from DENSO to KAYAMANAN
appealing for a 30% rental rebate due to the prejudicial consequences of the fire of June 23,
1984; giving notice of the termination of the lease on May 12, 1985; and formally turning over
the leased premisses-as well a copy of the Police Arson Investigation Report of the fire. 10

Inevitably, DENSO learned of the order of default and the judgment by default. It then filed on
August 2, 1985 a verified motion for reconsideration of said order and judgment. 11 Acting
thereon, the Trial Court promulgated an Order dated September 3, 1985, setting aside, "in the
interest of substantial justice," the order of default dated June 26, 1985 as well as the decision
dated July 1, 1985; but hearing was rescheduled only for the presentation of defendant
DENSO's evidence, the Court explicitly stating that the evidence already presented (by
KAYAMANAN) would remain on record "without the right of cross examination on the part of
the defendant."12 The hearing was set on October 2, 1985 but at DENSO's instance, was re-
scheduled on October 24, 1985.

At the hearing on October 24, 1985, DENSO orally asked the Court to reconsider its Order of
September 3, 1985 and accord it the opportunity to cross-examine KAYAMANAN's witnesses,
who had given their testimony ex-parte. The Court opted to give DENSO time to move formally
for reconsideration 13 and reset the hearing to November 21, 1985 (which was again reset on
January 9, 1986 because the Judge was on official leave in November). 14

DENSO submitted its formal motion for reconsideration dated November 4, 1985 praying for
the right to cross-examine KAYAMANAN's witnesses on November 6, 1985. 15 The record
does not show that any opposition to the motion was ever filed. Two days later, however, on
November 8, 1985, DENSO received notice of the Order of the Court dated October 24, 1985
(the date of the hearing), denying its (DENSO's) motion to be allowed to cross-examine
KAYAMANAN's witnesses, and scheduling the initial hearing for the presentation of the defense
witnesses on November 21, 1985. 16 Four days afterwards, on November 12, 1985, the Court
promulgated another Order, denying DENSO's motion for reconsideration of November 4, 1985
for lack of merit. According to the Court:

What is important is that defendant is afforded the opportunity to present its


evidence and thus enable the Court to see the other side of the coin, the
defendant being offered a chance to present its evidence in the Order dated
September 3, 1985. 17

DENSO submitted not however receive a copy of his Order of November 12, 1985 until January
9, 1986, the day finally set (by the Court) for the reception of its evidence. At this time, DENSO
drew the Court's attention to its motion for reconsideration of November 4, 1985 which, as far
as it knew, was yet unresolved. DENSO was thereupon furnished with a copy of the Order of
November 12, 1985. DENSO then asked for deferment of the hearing so that it might elevate
this adverse ruling to a higher court. 18 This was denied, and when DENSO declared itself as not
ready to proceed with the presentation of evidence, the Court dictated an Order stating that
"this being the third time that defendant failed to present its evidence notwithstanding the
chance given to it, the 'Decision' dated July 1, 1985 is revived." 19

Without awaiting service of the Order dictated on January 9, 1986, DENSO filed on January 15,
1986 a petition for certiorari with the Intermediate Appellate Court, docketed as AC-G.R. SP No.
08150, praying for the annulment of the series of orders of Judge Guadiz already referred to,
starting with the order of default of June 26, 1985 and culminating in the order of January 9,
1986 reviving the judgment by default.

The Intermediate Appellate Court (Fourth Special Cases Division) considered the crucial issue to
be "the propriety or impropriety" of the order of September 3, 1985 which, while setting aside
the previous order of default and the judgment by default, prescribed that the evidence already
presented would remain in the record and denied petitioner the right to cross-examine the
respondent's witnesses who had testified at the ex-parte hearing. It declared unnecessary
further consideration of the order of default and judgment by default thus set aside, and
limited its review of the proceedings to the question of whether or not the petitioner was
properly denied the right of cross-examination. 20

On that question the Appellate Court ruled that the right of cross-examination, while a part of
due process so that denial thereof amounts to depriving a party of his day in court, is
nonetheless waivable; that since petitioner received on September 16, 1985 copy of the order
of September 3, 1985 setting the judgment by default aside and scheduling the case for
hearing only for reception of defendant's evidence without right to cross-examine plaintiff's
witnesses but did not move for its reconsideration until October 24, 1985, or after a lapse of
38 days, such inaction amounted to a waiver of the claimed right to cross-examine; and,
moreover, said motion for reconsideration came too late because the order sought to be
reconsidered was by then already final, the applicable period of appeal being only fifteen (15)
days from notice of said order, 21 and that (in any event) DENSO was guilty of laches. 22

The error in these pronouncements is immediately apparent. They assume that the order in
question is a final-and appealable order, when it is in fact interlocutory. The distinction
between final and interlocutory orders is a well-settled one.

The concept of "final" judgment, as distinguished from one which has "become
final" (or "executory" as of right [final and executory]), is definite and settled. A
"final" judgment or order is one that finally disposes of a case, leaving nothing
more to be done by the Court in respect thereto, e.g., an adjudication on the
merits which, on the basis of the evidence presented at the trial, declares
categorically what the rights and obligations of the parties are and which party is
in the right; or a judgment or order that dismisses an action on the ground, for
instance, of res judicata or prescription. Once rendered, the task of the Court is
ended, as far as deciding the controversy or determining the rights and liabilities
of the litigants is concerned. Nothing more remains to be done by the Court
except to await the parties' next move (which among others, may consist of the
filing of a motion for new trial or reconsideration, or the taking of an appeal) and
ultimately, of course, to cause the execution of the judgment once it becomes
'final' or, to use the established and more distinctive term, "final and executory."
...

xxx xxx xxx

Conversely, an order that does not finally dispose of the case, and does not end
the Court's task of adjudicating the parties' contentions and determining their
rights and liabilities as regards each other, but obviously indicates that other
things remain to be done by the Court, is "interlocutory," e.g., an order denying a
motion to dismiss under Rule 16 of the Rules, or granting a motion for extension
of time to file a pleading, or authorizing amendment thereof, or granting or
denying applications for postponement, or production or inspection of
documents or things, etc. Unlike a "final" judgment or order, which is
appealable, as above pointed out, an "interlocutory" order may not be
questioned on appeal except only as part of an appeal that may eventually be
taken from the final judgment rendered in the case. 23

That the order of September 3, 1985 was interlocutory in character is beyond cavil. In setting
aside the order of default and the succeeding judgment by default, it left the case open for
further proceedings before the Trial Court, not the least of which was the reception of evidence
for the petitioner. Therefore, it could not become final in the sense that final judgments
become "final and executory." No appeal therefrom would lie except in the context and as part
of an appeal from a subsequent final judgment on the merits, and a motion for reconsideration
thereof was not subject to the limiting fifteen-day period of appeal prescribed for final
judgments or orders.

Neither will the Court consider laches as having set in by reason of petitioner's allowing thirty-
eight (38) days to pass before seeking a reconsideration of the order, having in mind not only
that such a relatively brief period cannot by any reckoning be deemed an unreasonable length
of time, but also the fact that while laches is a defense which operates independently of the
statute of limitations and is subject to no fixed periods, it is also founded on equity and may be
invoked only if the delay in asserting a claim has worked a change in the conditions such as
would render unjust or inequitable the grant of the relief sought.

In order t hat the defense of laches may prosper, the following elements must be
present: (1) conduct on the part of defendant, or one under whom he claims,
giving rise to the situation complained of, (2) delay in asserting complainant's
right after knowledge or notice of defendant's conduct and an opportunity to
sue, (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that
complainant would assert the right on which he bases suit, and (4) injury or
prejudice to defendant in the event relief is accorded. *** 24

*** (I)t must be realized that, unlike prescription, the defense of laches is not
dependent on the existence of a statutory period of limitation. It can be invoked
without reckoning any specific or fixed period; it is sufficient that there be an
unreasonable and unexplained delay in bringing the action that its maintenance
would already constitute inequity or injustice to the party claiming it. *** 25

No perceivable prejudice would attach to the respondent if the petitioner were allowed to
cross-examine the witnesses it has presented. If said witnesses told the truth, respondent has
nothing to fear from their cross-examination, the effect of which would only be to enhance
their credibility.

Petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the order of September 3, 1985, therefore, hardly
deserved the short shrift that it received from the Intermediate Appellate Court because it was
in no sense untimely, and neither lapse of a statutory period nor laches could correctly be
invoked to justify the summary refusal to inquire into the antecedents of said order. What that
Court considered to be moot and academic an inquiry into the merits of Judge Guadiz's
separate orders of June 26, 1985 denying the motion for extension of time to file answer and
declaring the petitioner in default lay precisely at the heart of the matter before it and now
before this Court. Both orders were premised on what the Judge perceived to be a failure to
comply with the rule that notice of motions must be served by the movant on all parties
concerned at least three (3) days prior to the hearing thereof. 26 What His Honor evidently
overlooked-and this was error-was that the rule on notice is not unqualifiedly applicable to all
motions, and that there are motions which may be heard ex-parte, as the Rules themselves
clearly acknowledge. 27 Among the latter class of motions are precisely those seeking extension
of time to plead, and the reason these are not strictly held to the requirement of notice is that
they are non-contentious and do not as a rule involve the substantial rights of the other parties
in the suit.

* * * The motion for extension of time within which a party may plead is not a
litigated motion where notice to the adverse party is necessary to afford the
latter an opportunity to resist the application, but an ex-parte motion' made to
the court in behalf of one or the other of the parties to the action, in the absence
and usually without the knowledge of the other party or parties.' As 'a general
rule, notice of motion is required where a party has a right to resist the relief
sought by the motion and principles of natural justice demand that his rights be
not affected without an opportunity to be heard.

It has been said that "ex-parte motions are frequently permissible in procedural
matters, and also in situations and under circumstances of emergency; and an
exception to a rule requiring notice is sometimes made where notice or the
resulting delay might tend to defeat the objection (sic) of the motion." 28

Upon similar premises, this Court has consistently held, since as early as in 1946, 29 that motions
for extension of time to file record on appeal may be filed and passed upon ex-parte, and the
rulings on that point are applicable, without differentiation, to motions for extension of time to
file answer.

Petitioner's motion for extension of time to file answer was, therefore, improperly denied for
lack of proof of service on the respondent, said motion having been seasonably filed and, as
already fully shown, there being no impediment to its being heard ex-parte. No pretense is
made that the motion was denied as having been filed merely for delay, but even if that ground
were read into the otherwise clear terms of the order of denial which do not even hint thereat,
it would still be belied by the fact that what was sought was only an extension of
the original reglementary period as well as that prima facie meritorious reasons were pleaded
for the desired extension. The petitioner's answer, alleging defenses 30 which, if established,
could defeat the respondent's claim, wholly or in part, was filed well within the period of
extension prayed for. All these considered, the order declaring petitioner in default for alleged
failure to timely file answer was clearly arbitrary; it ought not to have been issued and should
be struck down.

While the order of default was in fact set aside by the Trial Judge on motion of the petitioner,
he failed to afford petitioner the complete relief that the arbitrary and improper issuance of
said order and of the earlier order denying the motion for extension clearly called for. Ideally,
the slate should have been wiped clean by setting aside also the hearing at which the
respondent presented its evidence ex-parte, so that the parties would stand on even terms with
neither having the advantage of the other. Instead, the Judge prescribed that the evidence
presented by the KAYAMANAN would remain in the record without right on the part of DENSO
to cross-examine the witnesses who had already testified, and by necessary implication, also
denied DENSO the right to object to the documentary evidence submitted by respondent. This,
too, was abuse of discretion. If a defendant is improperly declared in default his time to
answer not having expired because of a timely ex-parte motion for extension he should be
entitled to relief which should consist not only in the admission of his responsive pleading, but
of the right to cross-examine the witnesses presented and to object to the exhibits offered in
his absence, if not indeed to have trial commence all over again. He should not, under these
circumstances, be penalized by loss of the right to cross-examine. This would be grossly
unwarranted and unfair; it would amount to a denial of due process.

The Appellate Court's observation that "*** it cannot be denied that the petitioner had other
remedies at hand after the court a quo had set aside the questioned Order of default and
Default Judgment ***" 31 It is somewhat perplexing. Given the character of said orders,
particularly of the order of default, this Court is hard put to conceive how DENSO could have
acted to protect its rights otherwise than as it did here, namely by exhausting all recourse
toward a reconsideration before the Trial Court and then applying for corrective relief in the
Intermediate Appellate Court.

WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The Decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court under
review is reversed and set aside. Petitioner's answer to the respondent's complaint in Civil Case
No. 10768 is ordered admitted. All the orders issued in said case and complained of in the
petition, the judgment by default rendered therein, and the ex-parte proceeding of June 27,
1985 at which the respondent presented its evidence are vacated. Civil Case No. 10768 shall
stand for proceedings de novo as if only complaint and answer had been filed therein. Costs
against the respondent.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-11647 January 31, 1958

FLORENTINO NAVARRO and BEATRIZ VINOYA, petitioners,


vs.
HON. ELOY BELLO, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, JUAN CABUANG,
FLORENTINA BAUTISTA, FLORENCIO GALICIA and CONSOLACION BAUTISTA, respondents.

Villanueva, Resultan and Associates for petitioners.


Conrado M. Soriano for respondents.

REYES, J.B.L., J.:

This is a petition for certiorari and mandamus with preliminary injunction seeking the
annulment of a decision of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan dated July 30, 1956,
dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No.13099, adjudging the respondents-defendants owners
of two parcels of landdescribed in the complaint, and awarding damages to the latter for
theunlawful usurpation of the disputed lots by the petitioners.

It appears that petitioners-plaintiffs filed a complaint on September 30, 1954, with the Court of
First Instance of Pangasinan (Civil Case No. 13099) praying for the annulment of transfer
certificates of title Nos. 15967 and 15968 and the corresponding deeds of sale executed by
respondents Florencio Galicia and Consolacion Bautista in favor of respondents Juan Cabuang
and Florentino Bautista over lots Nos. 20774 and 32540, of the San Carlos Cadastre, claiming
ownership of said parcels of land, and alleging actual possession. Respondents filed their
answer to the amended complaint on November 24, 1954, also claiming ownership over the
questioned lots with a counterclaim for the damages allegedly arising out of the unlawful
usurpation of the possession of the above described parcels of land by the petitioners through
force and intimidation.

No answer to the counterclaim having been filed within the time prescribedby the Rules, upon
petition of the respondents, the petitioners (plaintiffs below) were declared in default in an
order of the lower court datedFebruary 2, 1955, and the same order commissioned the deputy
clerk of courtto receive the evidence of the defendants. No notice of this order wasfurnished
the petitioners of their counsel. The reception of evidence wasmade on February 8, 1955, and
in accordance with the evidence submitted bythe respondents, the court rendered decision
adjudicating the defendant'scounterclaim for damages, declaring the respondents owners of
the disputed parcels of land, and dismissing the complaint. Copy of the decision wasreceived by
the petitioners on August 7, 1956.
On September 3, 1956, petitioners filed their first motion for reconsideration to set aside the
decision and order of default; it was denied, and notice of such denial received by the
petitioners on October 1, 1956. A second motion for reconsideration filed on October 3, 1956,
havingbeen also denied by the lower court, notice of appeal was filed by petitioners on October
6, 1956, the same day when the notice of denial of the second motion for reconsideration was
received by them, and with the notice of appeal they asked for a fifteen-day extension within
which to file therecord on appeal and appeal bond, which was granted. But upon objection
interposed by the respondents, the court in its order of October 26, 1956, denied the approval
of the record on appeal on the ground that the decision sought to be reviewed has become
final and that the plaintiffs having been declared in default, they have no right to appeal unless
and until the order of default is revoked and set aside.

There was no need for petitioners to answer respondents' counterclaim, considering that
plaintiffs, in their complaint, claimed not only ownership of, but also the right to possess, the
parcels in question, alleging that sometime in May, 1954, defendants through force and
intimidation, wrestedpossession thereof from their tenants, and that it was upon a writ of
possession issued by the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan that they were placed back in
possession by the provincial sheriff. These averments weredenied by defendants in their
answer, wherein they asserted ownership in themselves and illegal deprivation of their
possession by plaintiffs, and as counterclaim, prayed for damages allegedly suffered because of
plaintiffs'alleged usurpation of the premises.

It thus appears that the issues of the counterclaim are the very issues raised in the complaint
and in the answer, and said counterclaim is based on the very defenses pleaded in the answer.
To answer such counterclaim wouldrequire plaintiffs to replead the same facts already alleged
in their complaint.

But in any event, whether or not plaintiffs have answered defendants' counterclaim, they have
the right to prove the averments of their complaint, including their claim that it was by court
order that they secured possessionof the parcels in question from defendants. And if plaintiffs
are able to prove such allegations, then the court must dismiss defendants' counterclaim for
damages, since the illegal usurpation of defendants' possessionallegedly committed by
plaintiffs, which is the basis of the counterclaim,would not have been proved. In short, the
issues of the counterclaim partakesof the nature of a special defense which, even if not
specifically challengedby plaintiffs in a reply, is deemed controverted (Rule 11, sec. 1, Rules
ofCourt; Rosario vs. J. Martinez, 92 Phil., 1064; Luna vs. Apacible, 79 Phil.,8). There was,
therefore, no occasion for plaintiffs' default on defendants'couterclaim, and the order of the
court below declaring them in default, aswell as the judgment by default, is improper and void.

It is plain from the records that the complaint and the aswer have not as yetbeen set for trial in
the court below. Only after the issues of the complaint and aswer are tried, and the parties
heard, may the court resolve the defendants' counterclaim for damages. If the court finds for
plaintiffs,defendants' defenses, and counterclaim, must necessarily fail. On the otherhand, if
the court finds for the defendants, then plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed, defendants
would be declared owners of the lands inquestion, and they would be awarded damages under
their counterclaim. Butuntil and unless the whole case is heard on the merits, the court a quo
can not decide on defendants' counterclaim, without depriving plaintiffs theirday in court.

Even if plaintiffs had really defaulted on the counterclaim, still the courtwas bound to limit its
decision to the specific reliefs ask for. Sec. 9, Rule 35, of the Rules of Court provides:

A judgment entered by default shall not exceed the amoutn or be differentin kind from
that prayed for in the demand for judgment . . .

Since the counterclaim was set to recover damages caused by the petitionersalleged entering
the land in question through force and intimidation, thecourt could, at most, award the
damages sought; hence, in adjudging also thedefendants, Juan Cabuang and Florentina
Bautista, to be the owners of thetwo parcels of land described in the complaint, when what was
tried was thecounterclaim, the court below exceeded its jurisdiction (See Lim Toco vs.Fo Fay, 80
Phil., 166).

Since the ownership of the disputed land was put in issued by the allegations of the complaint
and the special defenses in the answer, the correct procedure, assuming that the declaration of
default was properlyentered, should have been for the trial court to set the complaint
andanswer for the hearing. The lower court, even in the case of a true defaulton the
couterclaim, could not deny the petitioners-palintiffs the right tobe heard and produce
evidence in support of their complaint, as that pleadingwas valid and had not been stricken
from the records. Their having defaultedon the counterclaim, if they did so at all, did not
operate to deprive theplaintiffs from any standing or remedy in court in connection with
theircomplaint.

Petitioner's timely motions for reconsideration and new trial were denied bythe lower court,
first, because it said the petitioners had lost their standing in court in view of the order of
default, and second because such motions were not accompanied by affidavits of merits. The
first argument is, in view of what we have already stated, invalid and untenable. As for the
second, we have already ruled that affidavits of merits are not necessarywhen the granting of
the motion is not discretionary with the court but is demandable as of right, as where the
movant has been deprived of his day in court, through no fault or negligence of his own (Valerio
vs. Tan, et al., 97 Phil. 558). This rule applies in the instant case, since petitioners have been
deprived of their day in court through an illegal order of default.

Wherefore, the writ of certiorari is granted, and the decision of July 30, 1956 of the Court of
First Instance of Pangasinan in its case No. 13099 is hereby set aside, and said court is directed
to proceed with the trial ofthe entire case on the merits. Costs against respondents Cabuang
andBautista. So ordered.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. L-41040 & 43908-10 December 14, 1988

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
BEDA DERPO accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Veronico E. Rubio for accused-appellant.

PARAS, J.:

This is an appeal from the Decision of the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon * (now Regional
Trial Court of Sorsogon) Branch I in Criminal Case Nos. 271, 273 and 274 convicting Beda Derpo,
appellant herein, of the crime of Rape. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the Court hereby finds the
accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape in each of the
above-entitled cases under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby
sentences him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua in each of them and
the costs. The accused is further condemned to indemnify the offended party in
the sum of P5,000.00, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
The accused is credited with the full period of his detention pending final
disposition of the case. (p. 3, Brief for the Appellee; p. 7, Rollo)

Records disclose that Rhodora Hara was born on November 21, 1959 in Barrio Sta. Cruz,
Casiguran, Sorsogon. When she was in her fourth grade, accused-appellant offered to shoulder
the expenses of her education. Rhodora's father, being a man of limited means, reluctantly
accepted the offer. On July 1, 1971, she enrolled in Casiguran High School, for which reason,
Rhodora had to stay in the house of the accused located in the poblacion of Casiguran, also
upon the latter's invitation.

While Rhodora was in the appellant's house, she helped in the household chores and
everything seemed alright until at about midnight of July 16, 1971 when she was awakened by
the kisses of appellant. Appellant left the room frustrated and with a warning not to tell
anybody what happened and threatened to kill her should Rhodora disobey. Because of fear,
Rhodora kept silent about the incident.

On August 22, 1971, at about midnight, appellant went to her room under the pretext that he
would give a tablet to relieve the pain of a toothache Rhodora was then suffering from.
However, after taking the tablet, Rhodora started to feel drowsy until she fell asleep. When she
woke up, appellant was lying on top of her with his penis already inside her vagina. Rhodora
tried to push the appellant away but the latter succeeded in moving his buttocks up and down
until he weakened. Before he left, appellant threatened to kill Rhodora if she would report the
incident to anybody.

The incident was repeated on September 30, 1971 and October 3, 1971. Finally, also at about
midnight of November 27, 1971, Rhodora was again awakened by the presence of the appellant
in her room. But this time, she noticed that appellant was holding a bladed instrument while
performing sexual intercourse with her. Appellant threatened to kill her if she shouted or told
anybody about it. However, when Rhodora moved her feet, she made a noise on the floor
which awakened appellant's wife. Catching her husband in his act of infidelity, she dragged him
outside the room and the two had a violent quarrel.

Rhodora escaped while appellant and his wife were quarrelling and proceeded to her home in
Barrio Sta. Cruz, Casiguran, Sorsogon. She reported all the incidents to her parents, who were
so enraged at the appellant for having violated their confidence. Immediately, they took
Rhodora to a certain Dr. Hibo and then to Dr. Evaminda Demate of Casiguran, Sorsogon for
examination. However, both doctors refused to examine Rhodora because they did not like to
get involved in a big case. This prompted Rhodora's father to take Rhodora to Sorsogon,
Sorsogon. Rhodora was brought at first to Dr. Arturo Perdigon of the Sorsogon Provincial
Hospital, but they were not able to secure a medical certificate because the doctor went to
Legaspi City. Hence, they went to the rural health center where Rhodora was examined by Dr.
Reynaldo Instrella on December 2, 1971. Dr. Instrella issued a medical certificate [Exhibit "A"]
wherein he stated his findings as follows:

December 2, 1971

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

Rhodora Hara, 12 years of age, female, single and a resident of Barrio Sta. Cruz,
Casiguran, Sorsogon was examined completely especially internal examination
this date at 11:00 A.M. at the Sorsogon Health Center as per request of her
parents.

Findings:

Head Normal
Neck No pertinent findings.
Abdomen No pertinent findings.
Chest Breast arreola and nipple within the normal
appearance. Left breast slightly sagged than the right breast.
Vaginal Region
Vulva slight congestion in the lower inner mid-outer and
surrounding portion.
Opening thru the vulva is enlarged beyond the normal virgin
woman. Clitoria still hooded and closed.
Urethra normal findings.
Elasticity of Hymen cm.
Hymen with several lacerations both healed and slightly
fresh or partially healed.

LACERATION AT:

2:00 o'clock healed


4:00 o'clock slightly fresh
6:00 o'clock slightly fresh
7:00 o'clock healed
11:00 o'clock healed
12:00 o'clock partially healed

Conclusion:

Penetration is very positive and for a number of times with a


recent one before this examination. (Exhibits "A", "A-l")

According to the doctor, he found the vulva of Rhodora slightly more reddish than the normal
color and it could have been caused by the penetration of an object such as a penis (p. 24, tsn,
Nov. 6,1972). There was some congestion which could have happened from twenty-four to
forty-eight hours before (p. 25, Ibid.). He found multiple lacerations of the hymen as shown in
the certification. The lacerations were relatively fresh and could have occurred from seven to
fourteen days before (pp. 26-27, Ibid.). There were some partially healed lacerations. There was
loss of virginity but there was no sign of habitual connection (pp. 30-31, Ibid.; p. 9 Brief for the
Appellee p. 71 Rollo).

Accused was then charged with rape in four (4) separate criminal complaints in Court of First
Instance of Sorsogon (now Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon). The four (4) cases were tried
jointly. Thereafter, a joint judgment of conviction was rendered by the lower court, the
dispositive portion of which was previously quoted hereinabove. Hence, this appeal seeking the
reversal of the conviction. In this appeal, appellant assigns the following errors, to wit:

I
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HAVING FAILED TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION
THE MATERIAL FACT, ON RECORD, OF COMPLAINANT AUGUSTO HARA'S
TESTIMONY NARRATED BEFORE A PREVIOUS PRESIDING JUDGE THAT DR.
ARTURO PERDIGON OF THE SORSOGON PROVINCIAL HOSPITAL MEDICALLY
EXAMINED RHODORA HARA WITH AN ADVERSE FINDING SO HE (AUGUSTO
HARA) WENT TO ANOTHER PHYSICIAN DR. REYNALDO INSTRELLA SOME TIME
LATER TO PROCURE ANOTHER 'FINDING' TO SUSTAIN "RAPE."

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE WAS, ON THE PART OF
RHODORA HARA, NO HABITUAL SEXUAL INTERCOURSE.

III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT RHODORA HARA AND HER PARENTS
ARE SIMPLE BARRIO FOLKS WHO HAVE NO INGENUITY OF FABRICATING
CHARGES UNLIKE OTHERS OF THEIR KIND IN URBAN CENTERS WHO GATHER
EXPERIENCE FROM SHEER EXPOSURE, AND THAT HER PARENTS HAVE NOT
INDUCED RHODORA TO FABRICATE THE CHARGES.

IV

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HAVING OVERLOOKED THE FACT THAT AUGUSTO
HARA SIGNED AS "COMPLAINANT" IN THREE OF THE FOUR CASES DESPITE THE
FACT THAT THERE WAS NO IMPEDIMENT FOR RHODORA HARA TO HAVE SIGNED
THE SAME.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE CHARGES COULD HARDLY BE
THE PRODUCT OF CONCOCTION.

VI

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT RAPE WAS COMMITTED ON AUGUST
22, 1971, SEPTEMBER 30, 1971, OCTOBER 3, 1971 ON ACCOUNT OF RHODORA
HARA'S BEING UNDER TWELVE YEARS.

VII

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT RAPE WAS COMMITTED ON


NOVEMBER 27, 1971, THROUGH FORCE AND INTIMIDATION.
VIII

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE HEALED LACERATIONS COULD
HAVE BEEN THE (CAUSE) OF THE PREVIOUS CONNECTIONS HAD WITH THE
ACCUSED.

IX

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE RELATIVELY FRESH


LACERATIONS COULD HAVE BEEN CAUSED BY THE "INCIDENT" OF NOVEMBER
27, 1971.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT RHODORA HARA WAS GIVEN A
SLEEPING TABLET BY THE ACCUSED.

XI

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED WAS
PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

XII

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE ACCUSED APPELLANT'S MOTION


FOR NEW TRIAL. (Brief for the Accused-Appellant, pp. 2-4)

There is sufficient evidence on record pointing to the guilt beyond reasonable doubt of the
appellant.

Both first and second assignments of error are not meritorious. One must bear in mind that the
court is not required to state in its decision all the facts found in the records. It is enough that
the court states the facts and law on which its decision is based (Section 1, Rule 36 of the
Revised Rules of Court). Thus, the mere fact that no mention was made in its decision of the
testimony of prosecution witness Augusto Hara before the former Presiding Judge, Hon. Jorge
S. Imperial does not necessarily mean that said testimony was overlooked by the trial court in
arriving at its decision, as alleged. Moreover, if no reference was made of said testimony, it is
because such is insignificant. Augusto Hara testified as to the truth of the findings contained in
the alleged medical certificate and the court considered him incompetent. We agree. The
medical certificate itself is the best evidence and the proper person to testify on the contents
thereof is Dr. Arturo Perdigon who issued the same. However, it is worthy to note that no
attempt was exerted by the defense to introduce in evidence the alleged medical certificate,
nor to present Dr. Perdigon as a witness.
With regard to the second issue, the Court believes that whether or not the victim was engaged
in habitual sexual intercourse is immaterial. Rape is committed as long as the act of having
sexual intercourse with a woman is attended by any of the circumstances enumerated in Article
335 of the Revised Penal Code.

The third, fourth and fifth contentions are likewise untenable. Appellant bases his arguments
on the pronouncement of the court that

Rhodora and her parents appear to be simple barrio folks with scant education
and could hardly have the ingenuity and sophistication of fabricating charges
which others of their kind in urban centers who gather experience from sheer
experience and contact with vicious and depraved elements in slum areas and
other centers of vice might easily have done in order to fleece their intended
victims or wreak vengeance upon them for any real or fancied grievance.
(Decision, p. 308, Rec., CC No. 271; p. 15 Brief for the Appellee; p. 71, Rollo)

claming that said findings are not supported by evidence. Apparently, appellant missed the
point of the trial court. The residence of the parties is not the sole basis in arriving at said
conclusions but likewise on the observations of the trial Judge on the demeanor and manner of
the witnesses as they appeared before him. Furthermore, in evaluating the credibility of
Rhodora's testimony as against that of the accused, the trial court took into consideration other
factors such as: (1) the tender age of Rhodora; (2) the possible motives of Rhodora's parents to
induce her to fabricate charges; (3) the scant education of Rhodora's parents; and (4) the way
Rhodora narrated the details of her ordeal.

The desperate attempt of appellant to show that the charges against him are mere products of
concoction likewise failed. Firstly, there is nothing in the testimony of Augusto Hara (Exhibit "2-
"A"] which betrays "an earmark of concoction" as alleged (p. 23, Appellant's Brief). In fact, his
ready admission that his daughter Rhodora was already examined by a certain Dr. Perdigon
before approaching Dr. Instrella demonstrates candidness and sincerity; otherwise he would
have denied the same believing that said medical certificate is adverse to his case. Thus, the
observation of the trial court that, indeed Augusto Hara appears to be a simple "barrio folk"
with scant education and could hardly have the ingenuity and sophistication of fabricating
charges, is even strengthened. Moreover, if appellant really wanted to present in evidence said
medical certificate he could have done so after the disclosure by Augusto Hara, or he could
have presented Dr. Perdigon himself to testify on his findings.

Secondly, the trial court's ruling attributing the declaration of Rhodora that she was raped for
the first time on July 16, 1971 as a mere slip of the tongue, is of little- consequence for being
immaterial to instant cases because such incident was not the subject of any charge. Still, even
if we assume that Rhodora really meant that she was raped for the first time on July 16, 1971,
that would not constitute an earmark of concoction.
On the sixth and seventh assigned errors, the main thrust of appellant's contention is that the
rape charges against him are mere concoctions of Rhodora and her parents. However, the claim
cannot stand against the findings (Exhibit "A") and testimony of Dr. Instrella that there was
indeed positive indications of virginity on the part of Rhodora. Likewise, appellant failed to
present any valid motive why Rhodora and his parents would implicate him of the crime
charged.

Moreover, time and again, this Court has stated that no woman, especially one of tender age,
would concoct a story of defloration, allow an examination of her private parts and thereafter
pervert herself by being subjected to a public trial, if she was not motivated solely by a desire to
have the culprit apprehended and punished (People v. Selfaison, 110 Phil. 839).

Thus, the claim of a concocted story by the appellant becomes a desperate but futile attempt to
escape liability.

With regard to the issue of whether the acts complained of were carried out with the use of
force or intimidation, the same is relevant only in Criminal Case No. 274 considering that in
Criminal Case Nos. 271, 272, and 273, the acts complained of were committed when Rhodora
was still below twelve (12) years of age, categorized as simple rape or rapes without the
attendance of any of the qualifying circumstances mentioned in Article 335 of the Revised Penal
Code, the basic element of which is the carnal knowledge of a woman below twelve (12) years
of age (People v Gonzales, L-33926, July 31, 1974, 58 SCRA 265). As this Court held in People v.
Sunga, G.R. 45083, June 24, 1985, carnal knowledge of a girl under twelve (12) years old is
always rape, even if the accused did not use force or intimidation and even if the victim was not
deprived of reason or otherwise made unconscious, and even if she had agreed.

Just the same, in all three occasions, there is evidence that the complainant in the middle of her
sleep was awakened to find appellant on top of her and engaged in sexual intercourse, thus
denoting that force was employed upon the unconscious child. Also, after each act, the
appellant threatened that he would kill complainant if she would tell anyone about his
lascivious acts, each threat installing fear in the mind of the minor, (pp. 6-13; 16-17, tsn,
November 29,1972) which in the words of the lower court made her an "easy prey in his
subsequent sallies" (Decision, p. 309, Rec.; p. 21 Brief for the Appellee: p. 71 Rollo.).

While in Criminal Case No. 274, the element of force or intimidation becomes material because
the incident took place on November 27, 1971 when Rhodora was already above twelve (12)
years of age, the evidence on record reveals that appellant abused the complainant with
threats upon the latter's life, as he held a bladed instrument (pp. 16-17, tsn, November 29,
1972).

Both eighth and ninth contentions cannot be sustained. There is no doubt that Rhodora was
able to Identify her assailant. The attempt made by the appellant to lay the blame on somebody
else failed as a result of appellant's failure to give any valid motive why Rhodora and her
parents would concoct charges of rape against him.
Thus, the trial court did not commit an error in concluding that "the healed lacerations could
have been the cause of the previous connections had with the accused" for said lacerations
logically indicate that they had been inflicted for quite sometime prior to the examination. Also,
there was no error by the trial court in finding that the relatively fresh lacerations could have
been caused by the incident of November 27, 1971 as substantiated by the expert testimony of
Dr. Instrella.

The appellant's contention in the tenth assigned error lacks merit. The argument is designed to
cover up the fact that the sleeping tablet had been given purportedly as a cure for her
toothache although appellant intended the same to render the child drowsy and helpless in
order to consummate his sexual desire. He was successful on both counts.

Finally, the lower court did not commit an error in denying the appellant's motion for new trial
based on "newly discovered evidence" for failure to meet the following conditions, namely, (a)
that the evidence was discovered after trial; (b) that such evidence could not have been
discovered and produced at the trial even with the exercise of reasonable diligence, (c) that it is
material, not merely cumulative, corroborative, or impeaching; and (d) that the evidence is of
such weight that it would probably change the judgment if admitted.

WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the
indemnity payable by the appellant is hereby increased to P20,000.00 in line with the latest
jurisprudence (People v. Paton-og, L-70574, November 27, 1987, 155 SCRA 675).

SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION

ROBERTO Y. PONCIANO, JR., G.R. No. 174536


Petitioner,

Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.
Chairperson,
- versus- CARPIO,*

AZCUNA,**

CHICO-NAZARIO, and

VELASCO, JR.,*** JJ.

LAGUNA LAKEDEVELOPMENT
AUTHORITY and REPUBLIC OF
THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:
Respondents.

October 29, 2008

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

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

In the present Petition for Review,[1] petitioner Roberto Y. Ponciano, Jr. primarily assails
the Resolution[2] dated 4 September 2006 of the Court of Appeals denying his plea for the
admission of his Motion for Reconsideration in CA-G.R. CV No. 80705 and taking no action on
said Motion since it was filed beyond the reglementary period.Petitioner prays of this Court to
vacate and set aside the assailed Resolution and to order the reinstatement of his Motion for
Reconsideration by the appellate court. In the alternative, petitioner implores that this Court
directly vacate and set aside the Decision[3] dated 22 February 2006 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 80705, the subject of his Motion for Reconsideration, and render judgment
reinstating the Decision[4] dated 10 June 2003 of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch
74, of Taguig, Metro Manila, in LRC Case No. 273, which confirmed and ordered the registration
of petitioners title over the contested parcel of land.

At the crux of the present controversy is a parcel of unregistered land (Lot 8689-D, Csd-
00-000627, MCadm-590-D, Taguig Cadastral Mapping), situated in BarangayWawa, Taguig,
Metro Manila, measuring about 2,890 square meters (subject property).

Alleging to be the owner of the subject property, petitioner filed with the MeTC on 5
September 2001 an Application[5] for the original registration thereof, which was docketed as
LRC Case No. 273.
The MeTC set LRC Case No. 273 for initial hearing on 30 January 2002 at 10:00
a.m. Copies of the Notice of Initial Hearing were accordingly served, published, and posted.

On 29 January 2002, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) entered its appearance in
LRC Case No. 273 as counsel for the respondent Republic of the Philippines. At the same time, it
deputized the Public Prosecutor of Taguig, Metro Manila, to appear in said case.[6]

Respondent Republic then filed with the MeTC its Opposition[7] dated 29 January
2002 seeking the denial of petitioners Application for original registration of the subject
property based on the following grounds:

1. That neither the [herein petitioner] nor his predecessors-in-interest


have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
occupation of the land in question for thirty (30) years in accordance with
Section 48(b), Public Land Act, as amended by PD 1073 and R.A. No. 6940.
2. That the muniments of title, the tax declarations and tax payment
receipts of [petitioner], if any, attached to or alleged in the application, do not
constitute competent and sufficient evidence of bona-fide acquisition of the land
applied for or of his open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
occupation thereof in the concept of owner since June 12, 1945, or prior
thereto. Said muniments of title do not appear to be genuine and the tax
declarations and/or tax payment receipts indicate pretended possession of
[petitioner] to be of recent vintage.

3. That the parcel of land applied for is a portion of the public domain
belonging to the Republic of the Philippines not subject to private
appropriation.[8]

During the initial hearing of LRC Case No. 273 held on 30 January 2002, the MeTC issued,
upon the motion of petitioners counsel, an Order[9] of general default against the whole world,
except against the government (which, more appropriately, should be the respondent
Republic), represented by the OSG through the Public Prosecutor.

Hearings were held in LRC Case No. 273 on 6 and 27 February 2002, wherein petitioner
presented testimonial and documentary evidence in support of his Application.

Petitioners evidence, taken as a whole, painted the following picture:

Petitioner purchased the subject property from Dolores Viar Vda. De Roldan (Dolores)
on 27 July 1998 as evidenced by a Deed of Absolute Sale[10] bearing the same date.Dolores
bought the subject property from her father, Eleuterio Viar (Eleuterio), in 1966 or 1967;[11] who,
in turn, inherited the same property from his own father (or Dolores grandfather). The subject
property had been in the possession of the Viar family since 1941, or even
earlier. Witness Crispina Viar Vda. De Garcia (Crispina), Dolores niece and neighbor, testified
that the subject property had been in the possession of the Viar family for about 70 to 80
years.[12] The earliest Tax Declaration covering the subject property, though, was issued only in
1949 in the name of Eleuterio Viar.[13]
Petitioner paid to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) the capital gains and
documentary stamp taxes due on the sale of the subject property from Dolores to him; hence,
the BIR issued in petitioners favor a Certificate Authorizing Registration [14] dated 30 July
1998. Petitioner likewise paid the appropriate local transfer taxes due on the same sale, so the
Municipal Assessor of Taguig, Metro Manila, issued in petitioners name Tax Declarations No. D-
009-03162[15] and No. EL-009-02683[16] in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Petitioner had been
diligently paying the annual real property tax on the subject property since his acquisition
thereof in 1998.[17]

Dolores already had the subject property surveyed on 25 March 1998, prior to its sale to
petitioner, and the resulting survey plan was approved on 18 February 1999.[18]The Urban
Forestry and Law Enforcement Unit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-
National Capital Region (DENR-NCR) issued a Certification dated 5 February 2002 verifying that
the subject property was within the alienable and disposable land certified and released as such
on 3 January 1968 under Forestry Administrative Order No. 4-1141.[19]

The subject property was already surrounded by a fence. Although the subject property
was declared as bamboo land, it has since been classified as residential. Petitioner intended to
build on the subject property a residential house or a warehouse.[20]

Petitioner has taken possession of the subject property. His period of possession, tacked
to that of his predecessors-in-interest, has exceeded 60 years. The possession of the subject
property by the petitioner and his predecessors-interest has been open, actual, continuous,
uninterrupted, and adverse, never been disturbed by anyone. The subject property has not
been covered by a patent or administrative title, or mortgaged or encumbered.[21]

The Public Prosecutor, being deputized by the OSG, did not offer any evidence on behalf
of respondent Republic.
The MeTC thereafter considered LRC Case No. 273 submitted for decision as of 8 May
2002.[22]

While awaiting the decision of the MeTC in LRC Case No. 273, respondent Laguna Lake
Development Authority (LLDA) filed therein its Opposition[23] dated 17 December 2002 also
praying for the denial of petitioners Application for original registration of the subject
property. Respondent LLDA averred:

2. That projection of the subject lot in our topographic map based on the
technical descriptions appearing in the Notice of the Initial Hearing indicated
that the lot subject of this application for registration particularly described
as Lot 8689-D, Mcadm 590-D containing an area of Two Thousand Eight
Hundred Ninety Two (sic) (2,890) square meters more or less are located
below the reglementary lake elevation of 12.50 meters referred to datum
10.00 meters below mean lower water. Site is, therefore, part of the bed
of Laguna Lake considered public land and is within the jurisdiction of Laguna
Lake Development Authority pursuant to its mandate under R. A. 4850, as
amended. x x x

3. That Section 41 of Republic Act No. 4850, states that, whenever Laguna
Lake or Lake is used in this Act, the same shall refer to Laguna de Bay which is
that area covered by the lake water when it is at the average annual
maximum lake level of elevation of 12.50 meters, as referred to a datum 10.0
meters below mean low water (MLLW). Lands located at and below such
elevation are public lands which form part of the bed of said lake (Section 14,
R.A. 4850, as amended, underlining supplied [sic]).

4. That on the strength of the [herein respondent LLDA]s finding and applying
the above-quoted provision of law, [herein petitioners] application for
registration of the subject land has no leg to stand on, both in fact and in law;

5. That unless the Honorable Court renders judgment to declare the land as
part of the Laguna Lake or that of the public domain, the [petitioner] will
continue to unlawfully possess, occupy and claim the land as their (sic) own
to the damage and prejudice of the Government in general and the Laguna
Lake Development Authority in particular;

6. That moreover, the land sought to be registered remains inalienable


and indisposable in the absence of declaration by the Director of Lands as
required by law.[24]
On 10 June 2003, the MeTC promulgated its Decision[25] in LRC Case No. 273. After
recounting petitioners evidence, the MeTC adjudged:

WHEREFORE, finding the allegations in the application to have been


sufficiently established by the [herein petitioners] evidence, this Court hereby
confirms the title of [petitioner] ROBERTO Y. PONCIANO, of legal age, Filipino,
single with residence at No. 30 S. Santos St., Sto. Rosario, Pateros, Metro Manila
over the subject parcel of land designated at Lot 8689-DC, Mcadm-590-D, Taguig,
Cadastral Mapping under Conversion-Subdivision Plan Csd-00-000627 consisting
of Two Thousand Eight Hundred Ninety (2,890) square meters and hereby order
the registration of the same in his name.

After finality of this Decision and upon payment of the corresponding


taxes due on the said lot, let an order for the issuance of decree of registration
be issued.[26]

Without seeking reconsideration of the afore-quoted MeTC Decision, respondent


Republic, through the OSG, filed its Notice of Appeal.

The appeal of respondent Republic before the Court of Appeals was docketed as CA-G.R.
CV No. 80705.

After an exchange of pleadings by the parties, the Court of Appeals rendered its
Decision[27] dated 22 February 2006 in CA-G.R. CV No. 80705. The appellate court rejected the
argument of respondent Republic that the subject property was unalienable because it formed
part of the Laguna Lake bed under Republic Act No. 4890, otherwise known as the Laguna Lake
Development Authority Act of 1966, as amended; and still part of the public domain. It took
note that respondent Republic failed to present any evidence in support of its position.

However, the Court of Appeals proceeded to rule as follows:


[T]his does not necessarily mean that the application for registration of title
would prosper. As pointed out by [herein respondent Republic], [herein
petitioner] failed to present any evidence regarding specific acts of ownership to
show compliance with the possessory requirements of the law. It is settled that a
claimant must present evidence as to acts taken regarding the subject parcel of
land, which would show ownership in fee simple and cannot offer merely
general statements sans factual evidence of possession. Thus, in Republic of the
Philippines v. Court of Appeals, 335 SCRA 693 [2000], the Supreme Court held:

Applicant failed to prove specific acts showing the nature


of its possession and that of its predecessors in interest. The
applicant must present specific acts of ownership to substantiate
the claim and cannot just offer general statements, which are
mere conclusions of law than factual evidence of
possession. Actual possession of land consists in the
manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature as a
party would naturally exercise over his own property.

The bare assertion of witnesses that the applicant of land


had been in the open, adverse and continuous possession of the
property for over thirty (30) years is hardly the well-nigh
incontrovertible evidence required in cases of this nature. In other
words, facts constituting possession must be duly established by
competent evidence.

In the present case, [petitioner] merely showed that he bought the land,
paid real estate taxes and had it surveyed. Beyond these actions he failed to site
(sic) any other act which he took regarding the land such as cultivation, putting
ways and boundaries to prove his claim of ownership.[28]

Consequently, the fallo of the 22 February 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Metropolitan Trial


Court of Taguig, Metro Manila, Branch 74, in LRC Case No. 273 dated 10 June
2003 for registration of title is hereby REVERSED and the application for
registration is hereby DENIED.[29]

Records show that Atty. Nestor C. Beltran (Atty. Beltran), petitioners counsel in CA-G.R.
CV No. 80705, received a copy of the Court of Appeals Decision dated 22 February 2006 on 28
February 2006. Petitioner, thus, had until 15 March 2006 to file his Motion for Reconsideration
of the said Decision; yet, said Motion was filed only on 16 March 2006, or a day late. Petitioner
followed up by filing Manifestations dated 10 and 21 April 2006 begging the indulgence of the
appellate court to admit his Motion for Reconsideration, considering that the delayed filing
thereof was a procedural lapse which should be considered as excusable negligence, and which
did not impair the rights of the respondent Republic.

The Court of Appeals was not persuaded. In its Resolution[30] dated 4 September 2006,
the appellate court reasoned:

To begin with, basic is the legal truism in this jurisdiction that any party
seeking to reconsider a judgment or final resolution must do so within fifteen
(15) days from notice thereof (Section 1, Rule 52 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure).

The above rule is too elementary to even cause confusion upon any
lawyer for that matter, unless compelling reasons actually exist to justify the
relaxation of the prescriptive period mandated by law within which to file a
motion for reconsideration.

Having thus established herein [herein petitioner]s Motion for


Reconsideration was actually filed beyond the reglementary period, the
assailed Decision dated 22 February 2006 became final and executory, thereby
depriving this Court of any power to review, much more, modify or alter the
same. In Philippine Coconut Authority vs. Garrido, 374 SCRA 154 [2002], the
Supreme Court ruled that:

The period for filing a motion for reconsideration is non-


extendible. The Appellate Court is, therefore, correct in ruling that
(t)he failure of the respondents to file their motion for
reconsideration within the reglementary period renders the
Decision sought to be reconsidered final and executory, thereby
depriving this Court the power to alter, modify or reverse the
same.

In his attempt to persuade this Court to act on his plea to admit


his Motion for Reconsideration with favor, herein [petitioner] posits:

It bears stressing once again that the undersigned got hold


of the Notice of Judgment on March 2, 2006 and the Motion for
Reconsideration was filed on March 16, 2006, or on the 14th day
from receipt thereof. Upon verification of the records of the case,
however, the undersigned counsel found out that the maid
received the mail on February 28, 2006 but put the mail on its
(sic) table only on March 2, 2006. The maid who received the mail
earlier from the postman must have accidentally forgot to place
the mail immediately on the undersigned counsels table as time
again instructed to her (Rollo, pp. 115-116; Underscoring
supplied).

While a deviation from the mandated prescriptive period to file a motion


for reconsideration has been allowed so many times by the Highest Tribunal due
to concrete, valid and compelling reasons, however, this Court cannot really find
its way to even give the slightest consideration to the reason adverted to above
by the [petitioner]. By any stretch of imagination, the afore-cited explanation
offered by the [petitioner] to substantiate his prayer for the admission of
his Motion for Reconsideration does not constitute as a justifiable reason as the
same is essentially lame, if not down right preposterous.[31]

In the end, the Court of Appeals decreed:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, [herein petitioner]s plea for the


admission of his Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED. Perfunctorily, NO
ACTION will be taken by this Court on [herein petitioner]s Motion for
Reconsideration, the same having been filed beyond the reglementary period.[32]

Petitioner presently comes before this Court raising the following issues in his Petition:

1. Whether or not the gross negligence of petitioners counsel binds his client;
and

2. Whether or not a decision based on a technicality of procedure is favored


over a decision based on the merits.[33]

In his Memorandum, petitioner, though, re-states and presents additional issues for
resolution of the Court, viz:

1. Whether or not the Court of Appeals acted with grave abuse of


discretion amounting to lack of, or in excess of, jurisdiction in refusing to
consider that the cause of the delay in filing the Motion for Reconsideration was
due to excusable negligence, and in effect, denying petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration.
2. Whether or not the Court of Appeals acted with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in reversing the Decision,
dated June 10, 2003, of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 74, Taguig, Metro
Manila.

3. Whether or not the Laguna Lake Development Authority acted with


grave abuse of discretion in declaring that the subject property cannot be
appropriated or be subject of private ownership.

4. Whether or not the Court of Appeals acted with grave abuse of


discretion tantamount to lack of, or excess of, jurisdiction for overlooking the
evidence presented by the petitioner for his confirmation of imperfect title and
declaring that petitioner failed to prove specific acts of ownership for
confirmation of his title.

5. Whether or not petitioner is entitled to confirmation of title over the


property subject matter of this petition.[34]

The Court addresses foremost the procedural issue of whether petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration should have been admitted by the Court of Appeals, for the jurisdiction of this
Court over the instant Petition and the other substantive issues raised therein actually depends
upon the resolution thereof.

Under Section 1, Rule 52 of the Rules of Court, a party may file a motion for
reconsideration of a judgment or final resolution within 15 days from notice thereof, with proof
of service on the adverse party.

There is no question that petitioners Motion for Reconsideration in CA-G.R. CV No.


80705 was filed one day beyond the reglementary period for doing so. Atty. Beltran, petitioners
former counsel, received notice and a copy of the 22 February 2006 Decision of the Court of
Appeals on 28 February 2006, and had only until 15 March 2006 to file petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration thereof. However, Atty. Beltran filed said Motion on 16 March 2006.
The 15-day reglementary period for filing a motion for reconsideration is non-
extendible.[35] Provisions of the Rules of Court prescribing the time within which certain acts
must be done or certain proceedings taken, are considered absolutely indispensable to the
prevention of needless delays and to the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial
businesses. Strict compliance with such rules is mandatory and imperative.[36]

Indeed, there are cases where this Court allowed the liberal application of procedural
rules, but these are exceptions, sufficiently justified by meritorious and exceptional
circumstances attendant therein. Not every entreaty for relaxation of rules of procedure shall
be so lightly granted by the Court for it will render such rules inutile. In Hon. Fortichv. Hon.
Corona,[37] the Court had the occasion to explain that:
Procedural rules, we must stress, should be treated with utmost respect
and due regard since they are designed to facilitate the adjudication of cases to
remedy the worsening problem of delay in the resolution of rival claims and in
the administration of justice. The requirement is in pursuance to the bill of rights
inscribed in the Constitution which guarantees that "all persons shall have a right
to the speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial and
administrative bodies." The adjudicatory bodies and the parties to a case are
thus enjoined to abide strictly by the rules. While it is true that a litigation is not
a game of technicalities, it is equally true that every case must be prosecuted in
accordance with the prescribed procedure to ensure an orderly and speedy
administration of justice. There have been some instances wherein this Court
allowed a relaxation in the application of the rules, but this flexibility was "never
intended to forge a bastion for erring litigants to violate the rules with
impunity." A liberal interpretation and application of the rules of procedure can
be resorted to only in proper cases and under justifiable causes and
circumstances. (Emphasis ours.)

Upon petitioner, thus, falls the burden of proving to the satisfaction of the Court that
cogent reasons exist herein to excuse his non-compliance with the reglementary period for
filing a motion for reconsideration. Unfortunately, petitioner utterly failed in this regard.
Petitioner can only invoke the supposed excusable negligence of Atty. Beltran, his
former counsel in CA-G.R. CV No. 80705. Petitioner points out that his Motion for
Reconsideration was dated and ready as of 12 March 2006, yet Atty. Beltran was grossly
negligent in filing said Motion only on 16 March 2006. For his part, Atty. Beltran manifested
before the appellate court that he filed petitioners Motion for Reconsideration a day late
because his maid, who received the notice and copy of the 22 February 2006Decision in CA-G.R.
CV No. 80705, did not immediately place the same on his desk.

A client is generally bound by the mistakes of his lawyer, otherwise, there would never
be an end to a suit as long as a new counsel could be employed who could allege and show that
the prior counsel had not been sufficiently diligent or experienced or learned. [38] While it is true
that excusable negligence is one of the recognized grounds for a motion for new trial or
reconsideration,[39] there can be no excusable negligence when ordinary prudence could have
guarded against it.[40]

The Court imposes upon the attorney the duty, to himself and to his clients, to
invariably adopt a system whereby he can be sure of receiving promptly all judicial notices
during his absence from his address of record. The attorney must so arrange matters that
communications sent by mail, addressed to his office or residence, may reach him
promptly.[41] In earlier cases, the Court did not excuse a counsels tardiness in complying with
reglementary periods for filing pleadings attributed to the negligence of said counsels
secretary[42] or clerk.[43] In the same light, the Court can neither sanction the late filing by Atty.
Beltran of the Motion for Reconsideration in CA-G.R. CV No. 80705 which he blamed on his
maid, nor free petitioner from the effect of Atty. Beltrans faux pas.

A petition for reconsideration on the ground of excusable negligence is addressed to the


sound discretion of the court. This discretion can not be interfered with except in a clear case of
abuse.[ 4 4 ] Taking into account all the circumstances of the instant case, the Court finds no such
abuse committed by the Court of Appeals in refusing to admit and act on petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration since the judgment subject of said Motion had already become final upon the
lapse of the 15-day reglementary period for the filing of the same. At that point, the appellate
court had already lost jurisdiction over the case and the subsequent filing of a motion for
reconsideration cannot disturb the finality of the judgment nor restore jurisdiction which had
already been lost.[45]

That the Motion for Reconsideration was filed only a day late is of no moment. The
Court had previously refused to admit motions for reconsideration which were filed only
one[46] or two[47] days late.

Without a motion for reconsideration of the 22 February 2006 Decision in CA-G.R. CV


No. 80705 having been timely filed with the Court of Appeals, petitioner had also lost his right
to appeal the said Decision to this Court. For purposes of determining its timeliness, a motion
for reconsideration may properly be treated as an appeal. As a step to allow an inferior court to
correct itself before review by a higher court, a motion for reconsideration must necessarily be
filed within the period to appeal. When filed beyond such period, the motion for
reconsideration ipso facto forecloses the right to appeal.[48]

Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration, being filed beyond the reglementary period, did
not toll the Decision dated 22 February 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 80705
from becoming final and executory. As such the Decision is past appellate review and
constitutes res judicata as to every matter offered and received in the proceedings below as
well as to any other matter admissible therein and which might have been offered for that
purpose.[49]

The Court is without jurisdiction to modify, much less, reverse, a final


and executory judgment. It has been pronounced by the Court in Paramount Vinyl Products
Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission[50] that:

Well-settled is the rule that the perfection of an appeal within the


statutory or reglementary period is not only mandatory, but also
jurisdictional. Failure to interpose a timely appeal (or a motion for
reconsideration) renders the assailed decision, order or award final
and executory that deprives the appellate body of any jurisdiction to alter the
final judgment[Cruz v. WCC, G.R. No. L-42739, January 31, 1978, 81 SCRA
445; Volkshel Labor Union v. NLRC, G.R. No. L-39686, June 28, 1980, 98 SCRA
314; Acda v. Minister of Labor, G.R. No. 51607, December 15, 1982, 119 SCRA
306; Rizal Empire Insurance Group v. NLRC, G.R. No. 73140, May 29, 1987, 150
SCRA 565; MAI Philippines Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 73662, June 18, 1987, 151 SCRA
196; Narag v. NLRC, G.R. No. 69628, October 28, 1987, 155 SCRA 199; John
Clement Consultants, Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 72096, January 29, 1988, 157 SCRA
635; Bongay v. Martinez, G.R. No. 77188, March 14, 1988, 158 SCRA 552; Manuel
L. Quezon University v. Manuel L. Quezon Educational Institution, G.R. No. 82312,
April 19, 1989, 172 SCRA 597]. This rule "is applicable indiscriminately to one and
all since the rule is grounded on fundamental consideration of public policy and
sound practice that at the risk of occasional error, the judgment of courts and
award of quasi-judicial agencies must become final at some definite date fixed
by law" [Volkschel Labor Union v. NLRC, supra, at p. 322]. Although, in a few
instances, the Court has disregarded procedural lapses so as to give due course
to appeals filed beyond the reglementary period (See Flexo Manufacturing
Corporation v. NLRC, G.R. No. 55971, February 28, 1985,135 SCRA 145; Firestone
Tire & Rubber Co. v. Lariosa, G.R. No. 70479, February 27, 1989, 148 SCRA
187; Chong Guan Trading v. NLRC, G.R. No. 81471, April 26, 1989, 172 SCRA 831],
the Court did so on the basis of strong and compelling reasons, such as serving
the ends of justice and preventing a grave miscarriage thereof. (Emphasis ours.)

It is clear from the foregoing that the unjustified delay in the filing of petitioners Motion
for Reconsideration in CA-G.R. CV No. 80705 is not just a procedural lapse, but also a
jurisdictional defect which effectively prevents this Court from taking cognizance of the Petition
at bar.

Petitioner cannot claim that he has been deprived of due process. He was able to fully
participate in the proceedings before the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 80705. The Court
of Appeals actually took into consideration petitioners evidence when it rendered its Decision
dated 22 February 2006; only, it found that said evidence failed to establish specific acts of
ownership over the subject property in compliance with the possessory requirements of the
law for an imperfect title. Petitioner was not arbitrarily deprived of his right to file a motion for
reconsideration of the Decision dated 22 February 2006 of the Court of Appeals; petitioner
failed to avail himself of such a remedy within the reglementary period prescribed by law.

Moreover, even if, for the sake of argument, the Court can take cognizance of the
present Petition in its appellate jurisdiction, it would still deny the same for lack of merit.

Section 48 of the Public Land Act, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1073,
specifically identifies the persons who are entitled to the judicial confirmation or legalization of
their imperfect or incomplete title to the land, to wit

Section 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying


lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest
therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to
the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for
confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title thereafter,
under the Land Registration Act, to wit:
(a) [Repealed by Presidential Decree No. 1073].
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest
have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of
acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945, or earlier, immediately preceding
the filing of the applications for confirmation of title, except when prevented by
war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed
all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a
certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter.
(c) Members of the national cultural minorities who by themselves or
through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive
and notorious possession and occupation of lands of the public domain suitable
to agriculture whether disposable or not, under a bona fide claim of ownership
since June 12, 1945 shall be entitled to the rights granted in subsection (b)
hereof. (Emphasis ours.)
It is true that petitioner was able to present testimonial evidence that his predecessors-
in-interest had possessed the land prior to 12 June 1945 or even earlier. Nevertheless, it must
be stressed that also by petitioners own evidence, particularly, the Certification dated 5
February 2002 issued by the Urban Forestry and Law Enforcement Unit of the DENR-NCR, it has
been established that the subject property became alienable and disposable only on 3 January
1968 by virtue of Forestry Administrative Order No. 4-1141. It is already settled that any period
of possession prior to the date when the subject property was classified as alienable and
disposable is inconsequential and should be excluded from the computation of the period of
possession; such possession can never ripen into ownership and unless the land had been
classified as alienable and disposable, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title shall not
apply thereto.[51]

It is also worthy to point out that petitioners insistence that the subject property and
the other surrounding properties are being used for residential purposes does not work in his
favor, and even militates against him. Taken together with the declaration, for realty tax
purposes, by petitioner himself that the subject property is bamboo land, as well as the claim of
respondent LLDA that the same property is part of the Laguna Lake bed, there is an apparent
and unsettled confusion on the proper classification of the subject property.

The classification of the subject property is important for it determines the applicable
statutory requirements and procedures for the proper disposition thereof.Confirmation or
legalization of an imperfect or incomplete title under Section 48, Title II of the Public Land Act,
as amended, applies only to agricultural lands. Lands of the public domain for residential,
commercial, or industrial purposes,[52] on the other hand, are governed by Sections 58 to 68,
Title III of the same statute. Without a definite classification of the subject property, there
results reasonable doubt as to the appropriate legal means for petitioner to acquire title to the
same.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition for Review is
hereby DENIED. Costs against the petitioner Roberto Y. Ponciano, Jr.

SO ORDERED
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-25726 November 22, 1926

PANTALEON E. DEL ROSARIO, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
RESTITUTO VILLEGAS, defendant-appellee.

Del Rosario & Del Rosario for appellant.


Federico Mercader y Gil and Antonio M. Opisso for appellee.

VILLA-REAL, J.:

This appeal was taken by the plaintiff Pantaleon E. del Rosario from a judgment of the Court of
First Instance of Oriental Negros, the dispositive part of which is as follows:

All the proceedings of the sheriff, Sobrepena, as well as the subsequent acts and
documents arising from the execution, are declared null and void. The defendant
is absolved from the complaint, with costs against the plaintiff, and, in
accordance with the cross-complaint, the latter is further ordered to recognize
the defendant's rights in the land in question.

It is so ordered.

In support of his appeal the appellant assigns the following errors alleged to have been
committed by the lower court: (1) The lower court erred in permitting the defendant to present
additional evidence on December 17, 19025, over the objection of the plaintiff, and without the
latter having produced additional evidence in support of the allegations of his complaint; (2)
the lower court erred in finding that the judgment creditor and purchaser, Broadwell Hagans,
has not paid the amount bid at the auction sale; (3) the lower court erred in holding that the
provincial sheriff of Oriental Negros arrogated to himself judicial authority in carrying out the
writ of execution issued in civil case No. 432; (4) the lower court erred in not holding that the
defendant Restituto Villegas could impugn the validity of the sale by the sheriff on the ground
that said official had attempted to collect a greater amount than that provided for in the
judgment in civil case No. 432; (5) the lower court erred in not holding that the plaintiff was a
purchaser in good faith of a registered property, and, as such, could not be deprived thereof or
of his title thereto; (6) the lower court erred in not holding that the defendant could bring the
necessary actions against the sheriff for any illegal acts performed by him in connection with
the writ of execution in question, but not for the annulment of plaintiff's registered title; (7) the
lower court erred in finding that the plaintiff intervened in civil case No. 432, controlling the
proceedings of the auction sale of the land in litigation; (8) the lower court erred in not holding
that the plaintiff had a right to a judgment for the products of the lands in question, which he
has failed to receive by reason of the opposition of the defendant; (9) the lower court erred in
absolving the defendant from the complaint ]and in ordering the plaintiff to recognize the
defendant's rights in the lands in question, notwithstanding the fact that he had lost them.

The pertinent facts necessary for the determination of the questions raised in this appeal are
the following:

Judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants having been entered in civil case
No. 432 of the Court of First Instance of Oriental Negros, in which Broadwell Hagans, as
administrator of the estate of the deceased Juan Melgar and Vicenta Escio, was plaintiff, and
Restituto Villegas and Nena Mercader defendants, an appeal was taken by the latter which is
G.R. No. 17315 1of this court, final judgment appealed from, the dispositive of which is as
follows:

Wherefore, the court finds:

That Juan Melgar was in possession, as owner of the two parcelas of land in litigation,
situated in Tuaran, or Calamba, in the municipality of Guihulgan, Oriental Negros, until
his death on June 19, 1915; that the defendant was in possession, in bad faith, of the
two parcels of land referred to, with the acquiescence of the administrator of the estate
of the deceased Juan Melgar in April, 1916, when the plaintiff administrator Hagans, put
someone in charge of the same parcels of land; that the document Exhibit 7 and its
ratification are null and void and of no effect, and, therefore, the defendant Restituto
Villegas has acquired no title to said parcels of land. The defendants must return to the
plaintiff, in his capacity as administrator of the estate of the deceased Juan Melgar, the
possession of the two parcels of land in question, and the fruits of the improvements
thereon received by the defendants from the year 1915 until the execution of the
judgment, which fruits consists of 250 cavans of corn, at P2.50 a cavan for the harvest of
the years 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, and at P7 a cavan, for the harvest of the year 1919;
and with respect to the harvest of this and the later years, at the yearly prices of said
corn in Guihulgan, until the execution of the judgment. The defendants must likewise
deliver to the plaintiff the number of coconuts they may have received, on the basis of
500 nuts a year, from the year 1915 until the execution of the judgment, or the value of
the same in Guihulgan on the day of the execution of said judgment, with costs.

The cause having been remanded to the court of origin, a writ of execution was issued on July
24, 1922 in accordance with the said judgment. Inasmuch as in the judgment, the execution of
which is under consideration, neither the price of the corn harvested during the years 1921,
1922, and 1923, nor the value of the coconuts on the date when the land was returned, was
fixed, the sheriff, without previous order from the court, and guided only by a letter from
Messrs. Block, Johnston and Greenbaum, attorneys for the administrator Broadwell Hagans,
dated July 14, 1922, and by information received from various businessmen of the locality,
estimated the quantity of corn harvested during the years 1915 to 1922, and valued that for the
year 1920 at P5 a cavan, that for the year 1921 at P4, and that for the year 1922 at P4.50. By
the same procedure, and without judicial authority, he estimated the products of the land at
250 cavans of corn a year, or a total of 1,675 cavans and the number of coconuts at 3,750, at
P0.02 a coconut, thus violating the judgment which had fixed the annual products of the land at
50 cavans a year, or a total of 350 cavans, and demanded payment for said products from the
defendants. Not being agreeable to said estimate and valuation, the defendant Restituto
Villegas refused to make the payment demanded of him. In view of this refusal the sheriff
proceeded to announce the sale of the two parcels of land in question, belonging to said
defendant, the assessed value of which is P27,000 more or less. No notice was given of the
seizure by virtue of the writ of execution; neither was any notation made in the registry of
property. The said two parcels of land, having been placed at public auction on September 26,
1922, were adjudicated to Broadwell Hagans, as administrator of the intestate estates of Juan
Melgar and Vicenta Escio, for the amount of the judgment, without the purchaser having
deposited or offered the payment of the expenses of the execution.

The year of redemption having expired, the purchaser Broadwell Hagans asked the sheriff to
execute the deed of conveyance in his favor, which said official refused to do on the ground
that the purchaser had not paid the purchase price of the sale and the expenses of execution.
In view of this refusal the attorneys for the administrator, Broadwell Hagans, filed a motion in
the Court of First Instance of Oriental Negros to compel the sheriff to execute said deed. The
defendant Restituto Villegas was neither notified of the filing of said motion, nor served with a
copy thereof. By mere accident Mr. Federico Mercader learned of the filing of said motion, and
filed an opposition to the execution of said deed of conveyance, Notwithstanding this
opposition, the court granted the motion, with the exception of Federico Mercader on behalf of
the defendant Restituto Villegas. In obedience to said order, the provincial sheriff of Oriental
Negros on October 31, 1923, executed the proper deed of conveyance in favor of Broadwell
Hagans.

On April 1, 1924, Broadwell Hagans, as administrator of the estates of the deceased Juan
Melgar and Vicenta Escio, and in accordance with the scheme of partition of the estate
between Pantaleon E. del Rosario and the heirs of Vicenta Escio, approved by the court,
executed a deed of conveyance of the property acquired by him at public auction in favor of
Pantaleon E. del Rosario in consideration of the sum of P4,000, which said plaintiff Pantaleon E.
del Rosario had paid said administrator, Broadwell Hagans, for administration expenses. Said
deed was approved by the court and presented to the register of deeds of Oriental Negros for
notation and registration in accordance with Act No. 2837.

Having acquired said property by virtue of said deed, Pantaleon E. del Rosario took the
necessary steps to enter upon the possession thereof, but the herein defendant opposed,
alleging that the sale was illegal and void. In view of this opposition Pantaleon E. del Rosario
filed the complaint which initiated this action, praying at the same time for the issuance of a
writ of preliminary injunction. The court, however, instead of issuing said writ, appointed Mr.
Fernandez as receiver who took charge of the property in litigation. The defendant having filed
a bond later took possession of said property.

The defendant having filed an answer, and after proper proceedings and the submission of
evidence by both parties, the Court of First Instance of Oriental Negros, on December 23, 1924,
rendered judgment in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff, absolving the defendant
from the complaint.

On February 1, 1925, the plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial on the ground that the findings
made by the court in its decision were manifestly and openly contrary to the weight of the
evidence and the law.

On August 22, 1925, the court, ruling upon said motion, enter an order granting the same and
setting the date for the new trial on September 15, 1925.

On September 17, 1925, the case was again called for trial in the municipality of Guihulgan
where the defendant offered additional evidence which the court admitted, over the objection
of the plaintiff, who excepted to the ruling and presented no evidence.

With respect to the first assignment of error the appellant contends that the petition for a new
trial being based merely upon the fact that the findings of fact made by the court were openly
and manifestly contrary to the weight of the evidence and that said decision was contrary to
law, the defendant-appellee had no right to present, neither had the court power to admit,
additional evidence.

Section 147 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides as follows:

SEC. 147. Effect of Granting a motion for a new trial. If a new trial shall be granted in
accordance with the provisions of the two last preceding sections, the original judgment
shall be vacated, and the action shall stand for trial de novo; but the recorded evidence
taken upon the former trial, so far as the same is admissible and competent to establish
the issues, shall be used upon the new trial without retaking the same.

Sections 145 and 146 of the same Code contain the following provisions:

SEC. 145. New trial. Within thirty days after notice of a decision rendered by a Court
of First Instance, the judge thereof may at the petition of the party aggrieved, and after
due notice to the adverse party, set aside the judgment and grant a new trial, provided
the petition is based on any of the following causes materially affecting the legitimate
rights of the petitioner:
1. Accident or surprise which ordinary prudence could not have guarded against
and by reason of which the party applying has probably been impaired in his
rights.

2. Newly discovered evidence, material to the party making the application,


which he could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced at
the trial.

3. Because the judge has become satisfied that excessive damages have been
awarded, or that the evidence was insufficient to justify the decision, or that it is
against the law.

SEC. 146. Method of procedure in applications for new trial. The application shall be
made by motion in writing, stating the ground therefor, of which the adverse party shall
have such reasonable notice as the judge may direct. When the application is made for a
cause mentioned in the first or second subdivisions of the last section, it must be made
upon affidavits, and counter affidavits from the adverse party may likewise be received.

It will be seen from section 147 above quoted that once a new trial is granted, the original
judgment is set aside and the case is exactly in the position it occupied before there had been a
trial, and the parties stand as if there had never been any trial. If a new trial is granted in
general terms, it reopens all the issues in the cause and amendments to the pleadings may be
permitted (20 R.C. L., 313). The court, however, can limit the issues to be discussed at the new
trial and the parties to intervene in it, as well as the evidence to be presented. When the
motion for new trial is on the ground that the evidence does not sufficiently justify the decision
of the court, or that the latter is contrary to law, said court may limit itself to reviewing the
evidence already presented in order to determine whether or not it has committed an error
making its findings of fact and of law, or to permitting the presentation of additional evidence.

In view of the liberal provisions of said section 147 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the lower
court did not err in permitting the defendant to present additional evidence at the new trial
granted upon the ground that the evidence did not sufficiently justify the decision of the court
and that the same was contrary to law.

With reference to the second assignment of error, the judgment creditor can bid the amount of
the judgment in his favor at the auction sale, and if his bid is accepted, it is not necessary in
order to make the sale effective that the amount offered be deposited so long as the judgment-
creditor-purchaser pays for the expenses of the sale, or is disposed to do so; but said sale will
not be effective if he refuses to pay the amount sufficient to cover the expenses (23 C.J., 649).
the creditor-purchaser Broadwell Hagans not having paid nor offered to pay the expenses of
the auction, the sale was not effective and the trial court did not err in holding that he has not
paid the amount of the sale, although he had made a bid for the amount of the judgment in his
favor.
With respect to the third assignment of error, the pertinent portion of the dispositive part of
the judgment, the execution of which is under consideration is as follows:

xxx xxx xxx

The defendants must return to the plaintiff, in his capacity as administrator of the estate
of the deceased Juan Melgar, the possession of the two parcels of land in question, and
the fruits of the improvements thereon received by the defendants from the year 1915
until the execution of the judgment, which fruits consists of 250 cavans of corn, at P2.50
a cavan for the harvest of the years 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, and P7 a cavan, for the
harvest of the year 1919; and with respect to the harvest of this and later years, at the
yearly prices of said corn in Guihulgan, until the execution of the judgment. The
defendants must likewise deliver to the plaintiff the number of coconuts they may have
received, on the basis of 500 nuts a year, from the year 1915 until the execution of the
judgment, or the value of the same in Guihulgan on the day of the execution of said
judgment, with costs.

It is a well-settled rule in procedural law that the judgment should state the precise amount for
which it is rendered, and not leave it to be ascertained by calculation; but if such data are given
that the amount may be ascertained with certainty, the judgment will be upheld. A judgment
for a sum to be thereafter ascertained by a ministerial officer is erroneous, except where the
reference is merely to calculate and state an amount already definitely fixed by the date given
in the judgment. . . . Matter debtors the record cannot be considered. . . . (33 C. J., 1202.) It is
essential that the amount to be recovered is specified in the judgment in order that a writ of
execution may be used . . . (23 C. J., 717).

In the judgment which is the subject of execution the price per cavan of the corn harvested in
1920 and subsequent years was not fixed, but it simply says that said price shall be the yearly
price of corn in Guihulgan until the judgment is executed. Neither was the price of the
coconuts which the defendant should pay in case he could not deliver the nuts grown from the
year 1915, at the rate of 500 nuts a year, fixed in said judgment, but it merely states that their
value will be determined by the price they may bring in Guihulgan on the day of the execution
of the judgment.

It will be seen that said judgment is not subject to execution with respect to the price of the
corn from the year 1920 and the coconuts from the year 1915, inasmuch as it contains no data
by which to determine said prices, and to do so it would be necessary to obtain the quotations
of the local market by means of witnesses.

The provincial sheriff of Oriental Negros, in being guided by the letter of the attorneys of the
judgment creditor Broadwell Hagans and by the date furnished by merchants of Guihulgan in
order to determine and fix said prices for the execution of the judgment, not only enforced a
part of the judgment not subject to execution but also arrogated to himself powers that
belonged only to the court, his act being illegal and void; and, therefore, the sale of the two
parcels of land in question, for the purpose of collecting the sums resulting from the arbitrary
and illegal estimate of the prices of the corn and the coconuts, above stated, is also null and
void.

The fourth assignment of error is a corollary of the third and the findings made with respect to
that assignment are applicable hereto.

With respect to the fifth assignment of error, even admitting for the sake of brevity, that the
plaintiff was a purchaser in good faith, nevertheless he cannot claim to have acquired legal and
valid title, notwithstanding the fact that the deed of conveyance executed in his favor by
Broadwell Hagans, as administrator of the estates of the deceased Juan Melgar and Vicenta
Escio, was registered and noted under the provisions of Act No. 2387. In the first place, in order
to assert valid and effective title to said properties, it is absolutely necessary and indispensable
that the person from whom they may have obtained the same should have a valid and effective
title thereto. Broadwell Hagans, in the capacity above indicated, acquired said properties at
public auction, by virtue of the execution. We have seen that said execution and the public
auction held thereunder were illegal and void, and all the acts performed as a consequence
thereof and all the rights acquired by virtue of the same are likewise illegal and void. If the deed
of sale executed by the sheriff by which Broadwell Hagans acquired title to the properties
mentioned is illegal and void, said title is void, and of no effect, and neither the supposed good
faith of the herein plaintiff as purchaser, nor the notation and registration of the deed of
conveyance in his favor under the provisions of Act No. 2837 could have cured said defects, as
the notation and registration of the documents under said Act will have effect only if said
documents are valid and effective, and never against third parties with a better right.
(Rivera vs.Moran, 48 Phil., 836.)

Strictly speaking, however, the plaintiff Pantaleon E. del Rosario cannot be considered as a third
party, because he was one of the interested parties in the partition of the estates left by the
deceased Juan Melgar and Vicenta Escio, and the conveyance in his favor was due to the fact
that he had assumed the payment of the administration expenses and the inheritance tax.
Broadwell Hagans, in bidding as administrator of the estates of Juan Melgar and Vicenta Escio in
the auction sale, did so in behalf of the interested parties in the intestate estates, the herein
plaintiff Pantaleon E. del Rosario being one of them, and the conveyance made by the former to
the latter was nothing more than a conveyance to an interested party of properties acquired in
his behalf and for his benefit. The person represented can never be a third party with respect to
the representative.

The plaintiff, as attorney and one of the interested parties in the intestate estates of the
deceased Juan Melgar and Vicenta Escio, of which Broadwell Hagans was administrator, could
not be ignorant of the judgment rendered in favor of the said intestate estates and against
Restituto Villegas, nor the proceedings taken by the sheriff for the execution of said judgment,
as shown by the interest that he took by instructing the Governor of Oriental Negros, in his
capacity of provincial sheriff, by telegraph, regarding the manner in which said proceedings
should be carried out.lawphil.net
If Pantaleon E. del Rosario is not a third party, and the acquisition of the properties in question
was not in good faith, the fact that the deed of conveyance was registered in the office of the
register of deeds, in accordance with the provisions of Act No. 2837, does not protect him
against the claims of the defendant Restituto Villegas, original owner of said lands who has
been deprived of his rights by virtue of illegal and void execution proceedings, and,
consequently, ineffective to confer title.

The remaining assignments of error are mere consequence of those already discussed, and
having been resolved adversely to the contention of the appellant, they are without merit.

For the foregoing, and finding no error in the dispositive part of the appealed judgment, the
same is affirmed, in all respects reserving the right to the plaintiff-appellant, however, to
petition the lower court, within the period of thirty days from the date on which this judgment
shall become final, to determine the price of corn, from the year 1915, and that of the
coconuts, from the year 1920 to the date of execution, and to issue a new writ of execution to
that effect. So ordered.
CITY OF CALOOCAN and NORMA M. ABRACIA,
petitioners,v.
HON. MAURO T. ALLARDE, Presiding Judge of Branch 123, RTC of Caloocan City, ALBERTO A.CASTILLO,
Deputy Sheriff of Branch 123, RTC of Caloocan City, and DELFINA HERNANDEZSANTIAGO and PHILIPPINE
NATIONAL BANK (PNB),
respondents.
G.R. No. 107271; September 10, 2003

CORONA,
J.
:
FACTS
:

I
n 1972, Mayor Marcial Samson of Caloocan abolished the position of Assistant
City Administrator and 17 other positions via Ordinance No. 1749. The affected employees
assailed thelegality of the abolition. The CF
I
in 1973 declared abolition illegal and ordered the reinstatement of all thedismissed employees
and the payment of their back-wages and other emoluments. The City Governmentappealed
the decision but such was dismissed.
I
n 1986 the City paid Santiago P75,083.37 as partialpayment of her back-wages. The others were
paid in full.
I
n 1987 the City appropriated funds for her unpaid back salaries (supplemental budget #3) but
the City refused to release the money to Santiago.The City of Caloocan argued that Santiago
was not entitled to back wages. On July 27, 1992 Sheriff Castillo levied and sold at public
auction one of the motor vehicles of the City Government for P100,000.The amount was given
to Santiago. The City Government questioned the validity of the motor vehicle;properties of the
municipality were exempt from execution. Judge Allarde denied the motion and directedthe
sheriff to levy and schedule at public auction 3 more vehicles. On October 5, 1993 the City
Council of Caloocan passed Ordinance No. 0134 which included the amount of P439,377.14
claimed by Santiago asback-wages, plus interest. Judge Allarde issued an order to the City
Treasurer to release the check butthe City Treasurer cant do so because the Mayor refuses to
sign the check. On May 7, 1993. Judge Allarde ordered the Sheriff to immediately garnish the
funds of the City Government of Caloocancorresponding to the claim of Santiago. Notice of
garnishment was forwarded to the PNB but the CityTreasurer sent an advice letter to PNB that
the garnishment was illegal and that it would hold PNB liablefor any damages which may
be caused by the withholding the funds of the city.
ISSUE
:
Whether or not the funds of City of Caloocan, in PNB, may be garnished (i.e. exempt from
execution), to satisfy Santiagos claim.
HELD
:

Garnishment is considered a specie of attachment by means of which the plaintiff seeks to


subjectto his claim property of the defendant in the hands of a third person, or money owed by
such third personor garnishee to the defendant. The rule is and has always been that all
government funds deposited inthe PNB or any other official depositary of the Philippine
Government by any of its agencies or instrumentalities, whether by general or special deposit,
remain government funds and may not besubject to garnishment or levy, in the absence of a
corresponding appropriation as required by law. Eventhough the rule as to immunity of a state
from suit is relaxed, the power of the courts ends when the judgment is rendered. Although the
liability of the state has been judicially ascertained, the state is atliberty to determine for itself
whether to pay the judgment or not, and execution cannot issue on a judgment against the
state. Such statutes do not authorize a seizure of state property to satisfy judgmentsrecovered,
and only convey an implication that the legislature will recognize such judgment as final
andmake provision for the satisfaction thereof. However, the rule is not absolute and admits of
a well-definedexception, that is, when there is a corresponding appropriation as required by
law.
I
n such a case, themonetary judgment may be legally enforced by judicial processes. Herein, the
City Council of Caloocanalready approved and passed Ordinance No. 0134, Series of 1992,
allocating the amount of P439,377.14for Santiagos back-wages plus interest. This case, thus,
fell squarely within the exception. The judgmentof the trial court could then be validly enforced
against such funds