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OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN vs. DECHAVEZ


G.R. NO 176702
November 13, 2013

FACTS: Dechaves served as the president of the Negros State College of Agriculture (NSCA) from 2001
until his retirement in April 2006. On May 5, 2002, on a Sunday, Dechavez with his wife drove the college
service Suzuki Vitara to go to Pontevedra, Negros Occidental. On their way back to the NSCA, they figured
in a vehicular accident resulting in minor injuries to them and damage to the vehicle. To claim insurance,
Dechavez executed an affidavit before the GSIS which subsequently granted Dechavez's claims amounting
to P308,000.00, while the NSCA shouldered P71,000.00 as its share in the vehicle's depreciation expense.
On November 11 2002, 20 faculty and staff of the NSCA asked the COA to conduct an audit investigation
of NSCA’s expenditures in the accident. The COA dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. Hence the
complainants went before the Ombudsman, Visayas, charging Dechavez with Dishonesty under Section
46(b)(l), Chapter 6, Tile I of the Administrative Code of 1987. The Ombudsman dismissed Dechavez from
the service with all accessory penalties after finding him guilty, ruling that the complainants sufficiently
established their allegations, while Dechavez's defenses had been successfully rebutted. The motion for
reconsideration was subsequently denied. On appeal, the CA reversed the Ombudsman’s findings. It found
that complainants failed to sufficiently show that Dechavez had deliberately lied in his May 10, 2002
affidavit. Dechavez sufficiently proved that he went on an official tip. MR likewise denied. The Ombudsman
argues that the guilt of Dechavez has been proven by substantial evidence -the quantum of evidence
required in administrative proceedings. It likewise invokes its findings and posits that because they are
supported by substantial evidence, they deserve great weight and must be accorded full respect and credit.
Dechavez counters that the petition raises factual issues that are improper for a petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45. He adds that the present case has been mooted by his retirement from the service
on April 9, 2006, and should properly be dismissed.

Issues: (1) Can the SC review questions of facts under Rule 45?
(2) Did Dechavez’s retirement render moot the present case?

Held. (1) Yes. The rule that the Court will not disturb the CA' s findings of fact is not an absolute rule that
admits of no exceptions. A notable exception is the presence of conflict of findings of fact between or among
the tribunals' rulings on questions of fact. The case before us squarely falls under this exception as the
tribunals below made two critical conflicting factual findings.
(2) No. Retirement from the service during the pendency of an administrative case does not
render the case moot and academic. The jurisdiction that was Ours at the time of the filing of the
administrative complaint was not lost by the mere fact that the respondent public official had ceased to be
in office during the pendency of his case. The Court retains its jurisdiction either to pronounce the
respondent official innocent of the charges or declare him guilty thereof. A contrary rule would be fraught
with injustices and pregnant with dreadful and dangerous implications.
OCA vs. Juan: Resignation is not a way out to evade administrative liability when facing
administrative sanction. The resignation of a public servant does not preclude the finding of any
administrative liability to which he or she shall still be answerable.
Baquerfo v. Sanchez: Cessation from office of respondent by resignation or retirement neither
warrants the dismissal of the administrative complaint filed against him while he was still in the service nor
does it render said administrative case moot and academic. The jurisdiction that was this Court's at the time
of the filing of the administrative complaint was not lost by the mere fact that the respondent public official
had ceased in office during the pendency of his case.
Jurisdiction, once it attaches, cannot be defeated by the acts of the respondent save only where
death intervenes and the action does not survive.
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Gomez vs Montalban
G.R. No. 174414
March 14, 2008

FACTS:

In August 26, 1998 Ma. Lita Montalban obtained a loan from Elmer Gomez in the sum
of P40,000.00 with a voluntary proposal on her part to pay 15% interest per month. She issued a postdated
check. When the loan was due on October 26, 1998 the check was dishonored for reason “Account Closed.”
Despite repeated demands, Montalban failed to pay. On July 9, 2002, Montalban’s loan obligation stood at
P 239,000.00 inclusive of interest charges for 32 months. Thus on May 30, 2003, Gomez filed a complaint
in the RTC Davao City and prays for the amount of P238, 000 with interest charges.
RTC rendered a decision in favor of Gomez and ordered Montalban to pay P40,000 as principal
amount, P57,600.00 representing interest and P15,000.00 representing attorneys fees.
Montalban filed a Petition for Relief from Judgment alleging the following:
(1) RTC had no jurisdiction as the principal amount being claimed by petitioner was only P40,000.00, an
amount falling within the jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Court.
(2) There was no effective service of summons upon her since there was no personal service of the
same. The summons was received by one Mrs. Alicia dela Torre, who was not authorized to receive
summons or other legal pleadings or documents on respondents behalf. Respondent attributes her failure
to file an Answer to fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence.
RTC granted Montalban’s Petition for Relief of Judgment. Gomez now filed the present petition for
review on certiorari to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:
1. Whether or not the Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over the case, damages and attorneys where
the principal amount of the obligation is P40,000.00 but the amount of the demand per allegation of the
complaint is P238,000.00.

2. Whether or not the RTC erred in granting Montalban’s Petition Relief of Judgment.

HELD:
1. YES.
The jurisdiction of the court is determined by law and the averments in the complaint and the character of
the relief sought.

The Court gleans from the foregoing that petitioners cause of action is the respondents violation of their
loan agreement. In that loan agreement, respondent expressly agreed to pay the principal amount of the
loan, plus 15% monthly interest. Consequently, petitioner is claiming and praying for in his Complaint the
total amount ofP238,000.00, already inclusive of the interest on the loan which had accrued from
1998.Since the interest on the loan is a primary and inseparable component of the cause of action, not
merely incidental thereto, and already determinable at the time of filing of the Complaint, it must be included
in the determination of which court has the jurisdiction over petitioners case. Using as basis
the P238,000.00 amount being claimed by petitioner from respondent for payment of the principal loan and
interest, this Court finds that it is well within the jurisdictional amount fixed by law for RTCs.

2. YES.
1. Petition for relief under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court is only available against a final and
executory judgment.
Since respondent allegedlyreceived a copy of the Decision dated 4 May 2004 on 14 May 2004, and she
filed the Petition for Relief from Judgment on 28 May 2004, judgment had not attained finality. The 15-day
period to file a motion for reconsideration or appeal had not yet lapsed. Hence, resort by respondent to
a petition for relief from judgment under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court was premature and inappropriate.
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2. Based on respondents allegations in her Petition for Relief before the RTC, she had no cause of action
for relief from judgment.
Based on Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, the court may grant relief from judgment only when a judgment or
final order is entered, or any other proceeding is taken against a party in any court through fraud, accident,
mistake, or excusable negligence. In the case at bar, Montalban in her petition for relief of judgment
contended that judgment was entered against her through mistake or fraud, because she was not duly
served with summons as it was received by a Mrs. Alicia dela Torre who was not authorized to receive
summons or other legal processes on her behalf.

2a. MISTAKE. As used in Section 1, Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, mistake refers to mistake of
fact, not of law, which relates to the case. The word mistake, which grants relief from judgment, does not
apply and was never intended to apply to a judicial error which the court might have committed in the trial.
Such errors may be corrected by means of an appeal. This does not exist in the case at bar, because
respondent has in no wise been prevented from interposing an appeal.

2b. FRAUD. Fraud, on the other hand, must be extrinsic or collateral, that is, the kind which
prevented the aggrieved party from having a trial or presenting his case to the court, or was used to procure
the judgment without fair submission of the controversy. This is not present in the case at hand as
respondent was not prevented from securing a fair trial and was given the opportunity to present her case.

3. A petition for relief from judgment is an equitable remedy that is allowed only in exceptional cases where
there is no other available or adequate remedy. When a party has another remedy available to him, which
may be either a motion for new trial or appeal from an adverse decision of the trial court, and he was not
prevented by fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence from filing such motion or taking such
appeal, he cannot avail himself of this petition.
In this case, even assuming that the RTC had no jurisdiction over respondent on account of the
non-service upon her of the summons and complaint, the remedy of the respondent was to file a motion for
the reconsideration of the 4 May 2004 Decision by default or a motion for new trial within 15 days from
receipt of notice thereof. This is also without prejudice to respondents right to file a petition
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for the nullification of the order of default of the court a
quo and the proceedings thereafter held including the decision, the writ of execution, and the writ of
garnishment issued by the RTC, on the ground that it acted without jurisdiction.

Heirs of Concha vs. Spouses Lumocso


G.R. No. 158121
December 12, 2007

FACTS:
Petitioners, heirs of spouses Dorotea and Valeriano Concha, Sr., claim to be the rightful owners of Lot
Nos. 6195, 6196-A, 6196-B and 7529-A all situated in Cogon, Dipolog City under Section 48(b) of
Commonwealth Act No. 141. Respondent siblings Gregorio Lumocso Cristita Lumocso Vda. de Daan and
Jacinto Lumocso are the patent holders and registered owners of the subject lots.

Petitioners filed a complaint before the RTC for Reconveyance and/or Annulment of Title with Damages
against respondents alleging that

a) their parents have continuously, publicly, notoriously, adversely, peacefully, in good faith and in
concept of an owner possessed said properties;

b) that respondents, by force, intimidation, and stealth forcibly entered the premises, illegally cut,
collected, and disposed of the trees therein; and

c) that respondents "surreptitiously" filed free patent applications over the lots despite their full knowledge
that petitioners owned the lots.
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Respondents moved for the dismissal of the case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of the RTC over the
subject matter. Respondents contended that the RTC has no jurisdiction over the complaints pursuant to
Section 19(2) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by R.A. No. 7691 as the assessed values of the
subject lots are less than P20,000.00.

Petitioners opposed, contending that the instant cases involve actions the subject matters of which are
incapable of pecuniary estimation which, under Section 19(1) of B.P. 129, as amended by R.A. 7691, fall
within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTCs. They also contended that they have two main
causes of action: for reconveyance and for recovery of the value of the trees felled by respondents.
Hence, the totality of the claims must be considered which, if computed, allegedly falls within the
exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC. In their Supplemental Memorandum, petitioners contend that
the nature of their complaints, as denominated therein and as borne by their allegations, are suits for
reconveyance, or annulment or cancellation of OCTs and damages. The cases allegedly involve more
than just the issue of title and possession since the nullity of the OCTs issued to respondents and the
reconveyance of the subject properties were also raised as issues. Thus, the RTC has jurisdiction

ISSUE:
Whether or not RTC has jurisdiction

HELD:
NO. To determine whether a court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case, it is important to
determine the nature of the cause of action and of the relief sought.

The trial court correctly held that the instant cases involve actions for reconveyance. An action for
reconveyance respects the decree of registration as incontrovertible but seeks the transfer of property,
which has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in other persons' names, to its rightful and legal
owners, or to those who claim to have a better right.

These cases may also be considered as actions to remove cloud on one's title as they are intended to
procure the cancellation of an instrument constituting a claim on petitioners' alleged title which was used
to injure or vex them in the enjoyment of their alleged title.

Being in the nature of actions for reconveyance or actions to remove cloud on one's title, the applicable
law to determine which court has jurisdiction is Section 19(2) of B.P. 129. In the cases at bar, it is
undisputed that the subject lots are situated in Cogon, Dipolog City and their assessed values are less
than P20,000.00, to wit:

6195 1,030.00 php


6196-A 4,500.00 php
6196-B 4,340.00 php
7529-A 1,880.00 php

Hence, the MTC clearly has jurisdiction over the instant cases.

Petitioners' contention that this case is one that is incapable of pecuniary estimation under the exclusive
original jurisdiction of the RTC pursuant to Section 19(1) of B.P. 129 is erroneous.

In a number of cases, we have held that actions for reconveyance of or for cancellation of title to or to
quiet title over real property are actions that fall under the classification of cases that involve "title to, or
possession of, real property, or any interest therein."

Lastly, it is true that the recovery of the value of the trees cut from the subject properties may be included
in the term "any interest therein." However, the law is emphatic that in determining which court has
jurisdiction, it is only the assessed value of the realty involved that should be computed. In this case,
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there is no dispute that the assessed values of the subject properties as shown by their tax declarations
are less than P20,000.00.

MEDICAL PLAZA MAKATI CONDOMINIUM CORPORATION


vs.
ROBERT H. CULLEN

G.R. No. 181416 November 11, 2013

FACTS:

Respondent Robert H. Cullen purchased from Meridien Land Holding, Inc.(MLHI) condominium
Unit No. 1201 of the Medical Plaza Makati covered by Condominium Certificate of Title No. 45808 of the
Register of Deeds of Makati. Said title was later cancelled and Condominium Certificate of Title No. 64218
was issued in the name of respondent.

On September 19, 2002, petitioner, through its corporate secretary, Dr. Jose Giovanni E.
Dimayuga, demanded from respondent payment for alleged unpaid association dues and assessments
amounting to P145, 567.42. Respondent disputed this demand claiming that he had been religiously paying
his dues shown by the fact that he was previously elected president and director of petitioner. Petitioner,
on the other hand, claimed that respondent’s obligation was a carry-over of that of MLHI.Consequently,
respondent was prevented from exercising his right to vote and be voted for during the 2002 election of
petitioner’s Board of Directors. Respondent thus clarified from MLHI the veracity of petitioner’s claim, but
MLHI allegedly claimed that the same had already been settled, this prompted respondent to demand from
petitioner an explanation why he was considered a delinquent payer despite the settlement of the obligation.
Petitioner failed to make such explanation. Hence, the Complaint for Damages filed by respondent against
petitioner [MPMCC] and MLHI. The complaint states that defendant [MPMCC] acted maliciously by insisting
that plaintiff is a delinquent member when in fact, defendant Meridien had already paid the said delinquency,
if any. The branding of plaintiff as delinquent member was willfully and deceitfully employed so as to prevent
plaintiff from exercising his right to vote or be voted as director of the condominium corporation; 16.
Defendant [MPMCC]’s ominous silence when confronted with claim of payment made by defendant
Meridien is tantamount to admission that indeed, plaintiff is not really a delinquent membe. Thus petitioner
is asking for exemplary damages and attorneys’ fees.
Petitioner and MLHI filed their separate motions to dismiss the complaint on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction. MLHI claims that it is the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) which is vested
with the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide the case. Petitioner, on the other hand, raises the following
specific grounds for the dismissal of the complaint: (1) estoppel as respondent himself approved the
assessment when he was the president; (2) lack of jurisdiction as the case involves an intra-corporate
controversy; (3) prematurity for failure of respondent to exhaust all intra-corporate remedies; and (4) the
case is already moot and academic, the obligation having been settled between petitioner and MLHI.

On September 9, 2005, the RTC rendered a Decision granting petitioner’s and MLHI’s motions to dismiss
and, consequently, dismissing respondent’s complaint.

The trial court agreed with MLHI that the action for specific performance filed by respondent clearly falls
within the exclusive jurisdiction of the HLURB. As to petitioner, the court held that the complaint states no
cause of action, considering that respondent’s obligation had already been settled by MLHI. It, likewise,
ruled that the issues raised are intra-corporate between the corporation and member.

On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the trial court’s decision and remanded the case to the
RTC for further proceedings. Contrary to the RTC conclusion, the CA held that the controversy is an
ordinary civil action for damages which falls within the jurisdiction of regular courts. It explained that the
case hinged on petitioner’s refusal to confirm MLHI’s claim that the subject obligation had already been
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settled as early as 1998 causing damage to respondent. Petitioner’s and MLHI’s motions for reconsideration
had also been denied. Hence this petition.
ISSUE: WON based on the complaint of the respondent, the controversy involve intra-corporate issues as
would fall within the jurisdiction of the RTC sitting as a special commercial court.
RULING:
Yes the issue involved is an intra-corporate dispute, hence within the jurisdiction of the RTC sitting
as a special commercial court. In determining whether a dispute constitutes an intra-corporate controversy,
the Court uses two tests, namely, the relationship test and the nature of the controversy test.

An intra-corporate controversy is one which pertains to any of the following relationships: (1)
between the corporation, partnership or association and the public; (2) between the corporation, partnership
or association and the State insofar as its franchise, permit or license to operate is concerned; (3) between
the corporation, partnership or association and its stockholders, partners, members or officers; and (4)
among the stockholders, partners or associates themselves. Thus, under the relationship test, the existence
of any of the above intra-corporate relations makes the case intra-corporate.

Under the nature of the controversy test, "the controversy must not only be rooted in the existence
of an intra-corporate relationship, but must as well pertain to the enforcement of the parties’ correlative
rights and obligations under the Corporation Code and the internal and intra-corporate regulatory rules of
the corporation." In other words, jurisdiction should be determined by considering both the relationship of
the parties as well as the nature of the question involved.
Applying the two tests, we find and so hold that the case involves intra-corporate controversy. It
obviously arose from the intra-corporate relations between the parties, and the questions involved pertain
to their rights and obligations under the Corporation Code and matters relating to the regulation of the
corporation

Admittedly, petitioner is a condominium corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine
laws, charged with the management of the Medical Plaza Makati. Respondent, on the other hand, is the
registered owner of Unit No. 1201 and is thus a stockholder/member of the condominium corporation.
Clearly, there is an intra-corporate relationship between the corporation and a stockholder/member.

The nature of the action is determined by the body rather than the title of the complaint. Though
denominated as an action for damages, an examination of the allegations made by respondent in his
complaint shows that the case principally dwells on the propriety of the assessment made by petitioner
against respondent as well as the validity of petitioner’s act in preventing respondent from participating in
the election of the corporation’s Board of Directors. Respondent contested the alleged unpaid dues and
assessments demanded by petitioner.

Moreover, Presidential Decree No. 902-A enumerates the cases over which the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) exercises exclusive jurisdiction:

b) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership relations, between and among


stockholders, members or associates; between any or all of them and the corporation, partnership
or association of which they are stockholders, members, or associates, respectively; and between
such corporation, partnership or association and the State insofar as it concerns their individual
franchise or right to exist as such entity; and

c) Controversies in the election or appointment of directors, trustees, officers, or managers of such


corporations, partnerships, or associations.

To be sure, this action partakes of the nature of an intra-corporate controversy, the jurisdiction over
which pertains to the SEC. Pursuant to Section 5.2 of Republic Act No. 8799, otherwise known as the
Securities Regulation Code, the jurisdiction of the SEC over all cases enumerated under Section 5 of
Presidential Decree No. 902-A has been transferred to RTCs designated by this Court as Special
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Commercial Courts. While the CA may be correct that the RTC has jurisdiction, the case should have been
filed not with the regular court but with the branch of the RTC designated as a special commercial court.
Considering that the RTC of Makati City, Branch 58 was not designated as a special commercial court, it
was not vested with jurisdiction over cases previously cognizable by the SEC. The CA, therefore, gravely
erred in remanding the case to the RTC for further proceedings.

To be sure, RA 4726 or the Condominium Act was enacted to specifically govern a condominium.
Said law sanctions the creation of the condominium corporation which is especially formed for the purpose
of holding title to the common area, in which the holders of separate interests shall automatically be
members or shareholders, to the exclusion of others, in proportion to the appurtenant interest of their
respective units. The rights and obligations of the condominium unit owners and the condominium
corporation are set forth in the above Act.

Clearly, condominium corporations are not covered by the amendment. Thus, the intra-corporate
dispute between petitioner and respondent is still within the jurisdiction of the RTC sitting as a special
commercial court and not the HLURB. The doctrine laid down by the Court in Chateau de Baie
Condominium Corporation v. Moreno which in turn cited Wack Wack Condominium Corporation, et al v. CA
is still a good law.

WHEREFORE, we hereby GRANT the petition and REVERSE the Court of Appeals Decision dated
July 10, 2007 and Resolution dated January 25, 2008 in CA-G.R. CV No. 86614. The Complaint before the
Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 58, which is not a special commercial court, docketed as Civil
Case No. 03-1018 is ordered DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction. Let the case be REMANDED to the
Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City for re-raffle purposes among the designated
special commercial courts.

GENESIS INVESTMENT, INC vs. HEIRS of CEFERINO EBARASABAL

G.R. No. 181622 November 20, 2013

Facts:

On November 12, 2003, herein respondents filed against herein petitioners a Complaint for Declaration of
Nullity of Documents, Recovery of Shares, Partition, Damages and Attorney's Fees. The Complaint was
filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Barili, Cebu.

On August 5, 2004, herein petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss contending, among others, that the RTC
has no jurisdiction to try the case on the ground that, as the case involves title to or possession of real
property or any interest therein and since the assessed value of the subject property does not
exceed P20,000.00 (the same being only P11,990.00), the action falls within the jurisdiction of the Municipal
Trial Court (MTC).

RTC granted petitioners' Motion to Dismiss holding that the assessed value of the real property involved is
determinative of which court has jurisdiction over the case. And the plaintiffs admitting that the assessed
value of the litigated area is less than P20,000.00, the defendants are correct in arguing that the case is
beyond this Court's jurisdiction.
Respondents filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration, arguing that their complaint consists of several
causes of action, including one for annulment of documents, which is incapable of pecuniary estimation
and, as such, falls within the jurisdiction of the RTC. RTC granted the Motion for Partial Consideration ruling
that main case or the primary relief prayed for by the movants is for the declaration of nullity or annulment
of documents which unquestionably is incapable of pecuniary estimation and thus within the exclusive
original jurisdiction of the RTC. Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but the RTC denied it.
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Aggrieved, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari with the CA. However, the CA dismissed the petition.
Hence, this petition.
Issue: Whether or not RTC has jurisdiction over the case.
Ruling:
Yes. It is true that one of the causes of action of respondents pertains to the title, possession and interest
of each of the contending parties over the contested property, the assessed value of which falls within the
jurisdiction of the MTC. However, a complete reading of the complaint would readily show that, based on
the nature of the suit, the allegations therein, and the reliefs prayed for, the action is within the jurisdiction
of the RTC.

It is clear from the records that respondents' complaint was for "Declaration of Nullity of Documents,
Recovery of Shares, Partition, Damages and Attorney's Fees." In filing their Complaint with the RTC,
respondents sought to recover ownership and possession of their shares in the disputed parcel of land by
questioning the due execution and validity of the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement with Sale as well as the
Memorandum of Agreement entered into by and between some of their co-heirs and herein petitioners.

In determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which is not capable of pecuniary estimation,
this Court has adopted the criterion of first ascertaining the nature of the principal action or remedy sought.
If it is primarily for the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered capable of pecuniary estimation,
and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or in the courts of first instance would depend on the
amount of the claim. However, where the basic issue is something other than the right to recover a sum of
money, where the money claim is purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought, this
Court has considered such actions as cases where the subject of the litigation may not be estimated in
terms of money, and are cognizable by the Regional Trial Court.