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Republic of the Philippines of law contained in the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati, Metro

SUPREME COURT Manila, Branch 63 and finds that there is no cogent reason to disturb the same.
Manila
WHEREFORE, judgment appealed from is hereby affirmed in toto.3
EN BANC
When the defendant went to the Court of Appeals, his petition for review was denied on
G.R. No. 81006 May 12, 1989 September 29, 1987, as so too was his motion for reconsideration, on December 1, 1987. 4 He is
now before us to fault the respondent court, principally for sustaining the memorandum decision of
VICTORINO C. FRANCISCO, petitioner, the regional trial court. His contention is that it violates Article VIII, Section 14 of the Constitution.
vs.
WINAI PERMSKUL and THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. This provision reads as follows:

Sec. 14. No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein
clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based.
CRUZ, J.:
No petition for review or motion for reconsideration of a decision of the court shall
An important constitutional question has been injected in this case which started out as an be refused due course or denied without stating the legal basis therefor.
ordinary complaint for a sum of money. The question squarely presented to the Court is the
validity of the memorandum decision authorized under Section 40 of B.P. Blg. 129 in the light of Except for the second paragraph, which was introduced only in the present charter, Section 14
Article VIII, Section 14 of the Constitution. has been in force since the Constitution of 1935. The provision was recast in affirmative terms in
the 1973 Constitution but has been virtually restored to its original form in the Constitution of 1987,
On May 21, 1984, the petitioner leased his apartment in Makati to the private respondent for a to apply to all courts, including the municipal courts. The purpose has always been the same, viz.,
period of one year for the stipulated rental of P3,000.00 a month. Pursuant to the lease contract, to inform the person reading the decision, and especially the parties, of how it was reached by the
the private respondent deposited with the petitioner the amount of P9,000.00 to answer for unpaid court after consideration of the pertinent facts and examination of the applicable laws.
rentals or any damage to the leased premises except when caused by reasonable wear and tear.
On May 31, 1985, the private respondent vacated the property. He thereafter requested the refund The parties are entitled to no less than this explanation if only to assure them that the court
of his deposit minus the sum of P1,000.00, representing the rental for the additional ten days of rendering the decision actually studied the case before pronouncing its judgment. But there are
his occupancy after the expiration of the lease. The petitioner rejected this request. He said the more substantial reasons. For one thing, the losing party must be given an opportunity to analyze
lessee still owed him for other charges, including the electricity and water bills and the sum of the decision so that, if permitted, he may elevate what he may consider its errors for review by a
P2,500.00 for repainting of the leased premises to restore them to their original condition.1 higher tribunal. For another, the decision, if well-presented and reasoned, may convince the losing
party of its merits and persuade it to accept the verdict in good grace instead of prolonging the
The private respondent sued in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati. After the submission of litigation with a useless appeal. A third reason is that decisions with a full exposition of the facts
position papers by the parties, a summary judgment was rendered on October 11, 1985, and the law on which they are based, especially those coming from the Supreme Court, will
sustaining the complainant and holding that the repainting was not chargeable to him. The constitute a valuable body of case law that can serve as useful references and even as
defendant was ordered to pay the plaintiff the amount of P7,750.00, representing the balance of precedents in the resolution of future controversies. As the Court said in Rosales v. Court of First
the deposit after deducting the water and electricity charges. The plaintiff was also awarded the Instance. 5
sum of P1,250.00 as attorney's fees, plus the Costs.2
Precedents are helpful in deciding cases when they are on all fours or at least
This decision was appealed to the Regional Trial Court of Makati and was affirmed by Judge Jose substantially Identical with previous litigations. Argumentum a simili valet in
C. de la Rama on January 14, 1987. This was done in a memorandum decision reading in full as lege. Earlier decisions are guideposts that can lead us in the right direction as we
follows: tread the highways and byways of the law in the search for truth and justice.
These pronouncements represent the wisdom of the past. They are the voice of
vanished judges talking to the future. Except where there is a need to reverse
MEMORANDUM DECISION
them because of an emergent viewpoint or an altered situation, they urge us
strongly that, indeed, the trodden path is best.
After a careful and thorough perusal, evaluation and study of the records of this
case, this Court hereby adopts by reference the findings of fact and conclusions
According to the petitioner, the memorandum decision rendered by the regional trial court should This caveat was necessary because, as he correctly observed:
be revoked for non-compliance with the above-quoted constitutional mandate. He asks that the
case be remanded to the regional trial court for a full blown hearing on the merits, to be followed It cannot be too strongly emphasized that just as important as the intrinsic validity
by a decision stating therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. For of a decision is the perception by the parties-litigants that they have been
his part, the private respondent demurs. He justifies the memorandum decision as authorized by accorded a fair opportunity to be heard by a fair and responsible magistrate
B.P. Blg. 129 and invokes the ruling of this Court in Romero v. Court of Appeals, 6 Which before judgment is rendered. It is this perception, coupled with a clear
sustained the said law. conscience, which enables the members of the judiciary to discharge the
awesome responsibility of sitting in judgment on their fellowmen.
Section 40 of B.P. Blg. 129 reads as follows:
There is no question that the purpose of the law in authorizing the memorandum decision is to
Sec. 40. Form of decision in appealed cases. — Every decision or final resolution expedite the termination of litigations for the benefit of the parties as well as the courts
of a court in appealed cases shall clearly and distinctly state the findings of fact themselves.
and the conclusions of law on which it is based which may be contained in the
decision or final resolution itself, or adopted by reference from those set forth in Concerned with the mounting problem of delay in the administration of justice, the Constitution
the decision, order or resolution appealed from. now contains a number of provisions aimed at correcting this serious difficulty that has caused
much disaffection among the people. Thus, Section 16 of the Bill of Rights reiterates the original
The above section was applied in the Romero case, together with a similar rule embodied in provision in the 1973 Constitution guaranteeing to all persons "the right to a speedy disposition of
Section 18 of P.D. No. 946, providing that: their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative bodies." Section 14(2) of the same
Article III retains the rule that the accused shall be entitled to a trial that shall not only be public
All cases of the Court of Agrarian Relations now pending before the Court of and impartial but also speedy. In Article VIII, Section 5(3), the Supreme Court is expressly
Appeals shall remain in the Division to which they have been assigned, and shall permitted to temporarily assign a judge from one station to another when the public interest so
be decided within sixty (60) days from the effectivity of this Decree; Provided, requires, as when there is a necessity for less occupied judge to help a busier colleague dispose
however, That if the decision or order be an affirmance in toto of the dispositive of his cases. In paragraph 5 of the same section, it is stressed that the rules of court to be
conclusion of the judgment appealed from, then the Court of Appeals may, promulgated by the Supreme Court "shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the
instead of rendering an extended opinion, indicate clearly the trial court's findings speedy disposition of cases." In Section 15, of the same article, maximum periods are prescribed
of fact and pronouncements of law which have been adopted as basis for the for the decision or resolution of cases, to wit, twenty-four months in the case of Supreme Court
affirmance. and, unless reduced by the Supreme Court, twelve months for all lower collegiate courts and three
months for all other lower courts.
In the said case, Justice Jose Y. Feria, speaking for a unanimous Court, declared:
The courts of justice are really hard put at coping with the tremendous number of cases in their
dockets which, to make matters worse, continues to grow by the day despite the efforts being
As previously stated, the decision of the Court of Agrarian Relations consisted of
taken to reduce it. In the Supreme Court alone, an average of 400 cases is received every month
thirteen pages, single space. The above-quoted decision of the respondent Court
as against the average of 300 cases disposed of during the same month, leaving a difference of
of Appeals consists of four pages, three of which contains verbatim the
100 cases monthly that is added to some 5,000 still unresolved cases that have accumulated
dispositive portion of the decision appealed from. The remaining page is devoted
during the last two decades or so. At this rate, the backlog will increase by 1,200 cases every year
to an explanation of why "for judicial convenience and expediency, therefore, We
on top of the earlier balance, much of which, despite its age, is still viable and have still to be
hereby adopt, by way of reference, the findings of facts and conclusions of the
resolved. Considering that the Court spends four days of the week for studying and deliberating on
court a quo spread in its decision, as integral part of this Our decision." The said
these cases in its en banc and division sessions, one can appreciate the limited time allowed its
decision may be considered as substantial compliance with the above-quoted
members for the actual writing of its decisions. (This particular decision, while extended, happens
provisions in Section 18 of P.D. No. 946 and Section 40 of B.P. Blg. 129.
fortunately to be less complicated than many of the other cases submitted to it, which require more
time to write, not to mention the antecedent research that may have to be made.)
Nevertheless, he was quick to add a tenable misgiving and to express the following reservation:
Viewed in the light of these practical considerations, the memorandum decision can be welcomed
The authority given the appellate court to adopt by reference the findings of fact indeed as an acceptable method of dealing expeditiously with the case load of the courts of
and conclusions of law from those set forth in the appealed decisions should be justice, But expediency alone, no matter how compelling, cannot excuse non-compliance with the
exercised with caution and prudence, because the tendency would be to follow Constitution; or to put it more familiarly, the end does not justify the means. It is plain that if
the line of least resistance by just adopting the findings and conclusions of the Section 40 of B.P. Blg. 129 is unconstitutional, it must be struck down.
lower court without thoroughly studying the appealed case.
In the case at bar, we find that a judgment was made by the metropolitan trial court in compliance Sec. 24. Memorandum decisions. — -The judgment or final resolution of a court
with the rule on summary procedure. The decision consisted of three typewritten pages, single in appealed cases may adopt by reference the findings of fact and conclusions of
space, and stated clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it was based. It was a law contained in the decision or final order appealed from.
concise and well-written decision, and a correct one to boot, for which Judge Paciano B. Balita is
to be commended. It is clear that where the decision of the appellate court actually reproduces the findings of fact or
the conclusions of law of the court below, it is not a memorandum decision as envisioned in the
The problem, though, as the petitioner sees it, is that in affirming this judgment, the regional trial above provision. The distinctive features of the memorandum decision are, first, it is rendered by
court of Makati rendered a mere memorandum decision that simply adopted by reference the an appellate court, and second, it incorporates by reference the findings of fact or the conclusions
findings of fact and law made by Judge Balita and then concluded, without saying more, that of law contained in the decision, order or ruling under review. Most likely, the purpose is to affirm
"there was no cogent reason to disturb the same." It is claimed that as Judge de la Rama did not the decision, although it is not impossible that the approval of the findings of fact by the lower
make his own statement of the facts and the law as required by the Constitution, his memorandum court may lead to a different conclusion of law by the higher court. At any rate, the reason for
decision was a total nullity. Worse, when the appeal was taken to the respondent court, what it allowing the incorporation by reference is evidently to avoid the cumbersome reproduction of the
reviewed was not the memorandum decision of the regional trial court but the decision rendered decision of the lower court, or portions thereof, in the decision of the higher court. The Idea is to
by the metropolitan trial court which, legally speaking, was not before the appellate court. avoid having to repeat in the body of the latter decision the findings or conclusions of the lower
court since they are being approved or adopted anyway.
It is not really correct to say that the Court of Appeals did not review the memorandum decision of
the regional trial court which was the subject of the petition for review. A reading of its own Parenthetically, the memorandum decision is also allowed in the United States, but its form (at
decision will show that it dealt extensively with the memorandum decision and discussed it at least) differs from the one under consideration in this case. Such a decision is rendered in that
some length in the light of the observations — and reservations — of this Court in country upon a previous' determination by the judge that there is no need for a published opinion
the Romero case. Moreover, in reviewing the decision of the metropolitan trial court, the Court of and that it will have no precedential effect. The judgment is usually limited to the dispositive
Appeals was actually reviewing the decision of the regional trial court, which had incorporated by portion but a memorandum is attached containing a brief statement of the facts and the law
reference the earlier decision rendered by Judge Balita. involved, mainly for the information of the parties to the case.

The question, of course, is whether such incorporation by reference was a valid act that effectively When a law is questioned before the Court, we employ the presumption in favor of its
elevated the decision of the metropolitan trial court for examination by the Court of Appeals. constitutionality. As we said in Peralta v. Commission of Elections, "to justify the nullification of a
law, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a doubtful and
To be fair, let it be said that when Judge dela Rama availed himself of the convenience offered by argumentative implication."7 Courts will bend over backward to sustain that presumption. In case
Section 40 of B.P. Blg. 129, he was only acting in accordance with the ruling announced of doubt, it is the duty of the judiciary to exert every effort to prevent the invalidation of the law and
in Romero permitting the use of the memorandum decision. It must also be observed that even if the nullification of the will of the legislature that enacted it and the executive that approved it. This
the respondent court appeared to be partial to the reservation rather than the rule in the said case, norm is based on a becoming respect that the judiciary is expected to accord the political
it nevertheless had the duty — which it discharged — to abide by the doctrine announced therein departments of the government which, it must be assumed in fairness, thoroughly studied the
by the highest tribunal of the land. The respondent court could not have acted otherwise. measure under challenge and assured themselves of its constitutionality before agreeing to enact
it.
This Court is not hampered by such inhibitions. As we may re-examine our own rulings and modify
or reverse them whenever warranted, we take a second look at the memorandum decision and The Court has deliberated extensively on the challenge posed against the memorandum decision
the Romero case and test them on the touchstone of the Constitution. as now authorized by law. Taking into account the salutary purpose for which it is allowed, and
bearing in mind the above-discussed restraint we must observe when a law is challenged before
us, we have come to the conclusion that Section 40 of B.P. Blg. 129, as we shall interpret it here,
The law does not define the memorandum decision and simply suggests that the court may adopt is not unconstitutional.
by reference the findings of fact and the conclusions of law stated in the decision, order or
resolution on appeal before it. No particular form is prescribed; the conditions for its use are not
indicated. In fact, B.P. Blg. 129 does not even employ the term "memorandum decision" in Section What is questioned about the law is the permission it gives for the appellate court to merely adopt
40 or elsewhere in the rest of the statute. This phrase appears to have been introduced in this by reference in its own decision the judgment of the lower court on appeal. It is easy to understand
jurisdiction not by that law but by Section 24 of the Interim Rules and Guidelines, reading as that this device may feed the suspicion feared by Justice Feria that the court has not given the
follows: appeal the attention it deserved and thus deprived the parties of due process. True or not, this
impression is likely to undermine popular faith in the judiciary as an impartial forum which hears
before it decides and bases its decision on the established facts and the applicable law.
No less objectionable is the inconvenience involved in having to search for the decision referred cases, where the appeal is obviously groundless and deserves no more than the time needed to
to, which, having been incorporated by reference only, does not have to be attached to the dismiss it.
memorandum decision. The Court had occasion earlier to complain about this difficulty in the case
of Gindoy v. Tapucar, 8 where we said: Despite the convenience afforded by the memorandum decision, it is still desirable that the
appellate judge exert some effort in restating in his own words the findings of fact of the lower
. . . True it is that the Court of First Instance may adopt in toto either expressly or court and presenting his own interpretation of the law instead of merely parroting the language of
impliedly the findings and conclusions of the inferior court, and as a rule, such the court a quo as if he cannot do any better. There must be less intellectual indolence and more
adoption would amount to a substantial compliance with the constitutional pride of authorship in the writing of a decision, especially if it comes from an appellate court.
mandate discussed herein, but where, as in this case, the specific arguments
presented against the decision of the inferior court are of such nature that a It ill becomes an appellate judge to write his rulings with a pair of scissors and a pot of paste as if
blanket affirmance of said decision does not in fact adequately dispose of the he were a mere researcher. He is an innovator, not an echo. The case usually becomes
strictures against it, it is but proper, if only to facilitate the action to be taken by progressively simpler as it passes through the various levels of appeal and many issues become
the appellate court on the petition for review, that the concrete bases of the unimportant or moot and drop along the way. The appellate judge should prune the cluttered
impugned decision should appear on its face, instead of the appellate court record to make the issues clearer. He cannot usually do this by simply mimicking the lower court.
having to dig into the records to find out how the inferior court resolved the issues He must use his own perceptiveness in unraveling the rollo and his own discernment in
of the case. discovering the law. No less importantly, he must use his own language in laying down his
judgment. And in doing so, he should also guard against torpidity lest his pronouncements excite
As to this problem, the Solicitor General correctly points out that it does not exist in the case at bar no more fascination than a technical tract on the values of horse manure as a fertilizer. A little style
because the decision of the Court of Appeals extensively quoted from the decision of the will help liven the opinion trapped in the tortuous lexicon of the law with all its whereases and
metropolitan trial court. Although only incorporated by reference in the memorandum decision of wherefores. A judicial decision does not have to be a bore.
the regional trial court, Judge Balita's decision was nevertheless available to the Court of Appeals.
It is this circumstance, or even happenstance, if you will, that has validated the memorandum The interpretation we make today will not apply retroactively to the memorandum decision
decision challenged in this case and spared it from constitutional infirmity. rendered by the regional trial court in the case at bar, or to the decision of the respondent court
such decision on the strength of Romero v. Court of Appeals. As earlier observed, there was
That same circumstance is what will move us now to lay down the following requirement, as a substancial compliance with Section 40 because of the direct availability and actual review of the
condition for the proper application of Section 40 of B.P. Blg. 129. The memorandum decision, to decision of Judge Balita incorporated by reference in the memorandum decision of Judge de la
be valid, cannot incorporate the findings of fact and the conclusions of law of the lower court only Rama. The memorandum decision as then understood under the Romero decision was a valid act
by remote reference, which is to say that the challenged decision is not easily and immediately at the time it was rendered by Judge de la Rama and produced binding legal effect. We also affirm
available to the person reading the memorandum decision. For the incorporation by reference to the finding of the respondent court that the summary judgment without a formal trial was in accord
be allowed, it must provide for direct access to the facts and the law being adopted, which must be with the Rule on Summary Procedure and that the award of attorney's fees is not improper.
contained in a statement attached to the said decision. In other words, the memorandum decision
authorized under Section 40 of B.P. Blg. 129 should actually embody the findings of fact and Henceforth, all memorandum decisions shall comply with the requirements herein set forth both as
conclusions of law of the lower court in an annex attached to and made an indispensable part of to the form prescribed and the occasions when they may be rendered. Any deviation will summon
the decision. the strict enforcement of Article VIII, Section 14 of the Constitution and strike down the flawed
judgment as a lawless disobedience.
It is expected that this requirement will allay the suspicion that no study was made of the decision
of the lower court and that its decision was merely affirmed without a proper examination of the WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, with costs against the petitioner. This decision is
facts and the law on which it was based. The proximity at least of the annexed statement should immediately executory. It is so ordered.
suggest that such an examination has been undertaken. It is, of course, also understood that the
decision being adopted should, to begin with, comply with Article VIII, Section 14 as no amount of
incorporation or adoption will rectify its violation.

The Court finds it necessary to emphasize that the memorandum decision should be sparingly
used lest it become an addictive excuse for judicial sloth. It is an additional condition for its validity
that this kind of decision may be resorted to only in cases where the facts are in the main
accepted by both parties or easily determinable by the judge and there are no doctrinal
complications involved that will require an extended discussion of the laws involved. The
memorandum decision may be employed in simple litigations only, such as ordinary collection
Republic of the Philippines Thereafter, respondent Carlos, through counsel, moved to activate the archived criminal cases.
SUPREME COURT Having declared Naval the lawful owner and possessor of the contested land in Civil Case No. B-
Manila 398, Judge Villamor dismissed the criminal cases against her and her co-accused.

FIRST DIVISION Judge Villamor likewise granted execution pending appeal of his decision in Civil Case No. B-398.
This order was challenged by Carlos in the Court of Appeals and in this Court, both without
success.

Afterwards, Carlos filed an administrative case, A.M. No. RTJ-87-105, against Judge Villamor,
G.R. No. 101041 November 13, 1991 charging him with having issued illegal orders and an unjust decision in Civil Case No. B-398. On
November 21, 1988, this Court, in an En Banc resolution, summarily dismissed the administrative
case.
HON. JUDGE ADRIANO R. VILLAMOR, petitioner,
vs.
HON. JUDGE BERNARDO LL. SALAS and GEORGE CARLOS, respondents. Dissatisfied with the outcome of the administrative case, respondent Carlos filed a civil action for
damages (Civil Case No. CEB-6478) against Judge Villamor for knowingly rendering an unjust
judgment when he dismissed the five (5) criminal cases against Naval, et al.
G.R. No. 101296 November 13, 1991
The summons in Civil Case No. CEB-6478 was served upon Judge Villamor on December 10,
HON. JUDGE ADRIANO R. VILLAMOR, petitioner,
1987. The next day (December 11, 1987), instead of answering the complaint, Judge Villamor
vs.
issued in Criminal Cases Nos. N-0989 to 0993 an order of direct contempt against Carlos and his
ANTONIO T. GUERRERO and HON. PEARY G. ALEONAR, Presiding Judge of RTC, Branch
lawyer. Attorney Antonio T. Guerrero, "for degrading the respect and dignity of the court through
21, Region VII, Cebu City, respondents.
the use of derogatory and contemptous language before the court," and sentenced each of them
to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for five (5) days and to pay a fine of P500.
Ramon Ve Salazar for petitioner.
Carlos immediately filed in this Court a petition for certiorari with a prayer for the issuance of a writ
Antonio T. Guerrero for private respondent. of preliminary injunction against the Judge (G.R. Nos. 82238-42). We promptly restrained Judge
Villamor from enforcing his Order of Contempt against Carlos and Attorney Guerrero. On
Henry R. Savellon for respondent. November 13, 1989, we annulled the contempt order. (See pp. 26-34, Rollo of G.R. No. 101041.)

Back to Civil Case No. CEB-6478; Judge Villamor filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack
of jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion. The order of dismissal was affirmed by the Court
of Appeals (CA-G.R. CV No. 20657, June 26, 1990). Carlos appealed to this Court which also
GRIÑO-AQUINO, J.: denied the petition. (p. 125, Rollo of G.R. No. 101296.)

In 1977, Civil Case No. B-398 (Gloria Naval vs. George Carlos) for recovery of ownership of a Unfazed by these setbacks, Carlos and his counsel, Attorney Antonio Guerrero, filed separate
parcel of coconut land was filed and subsequently raffled to the sala of the petitioner, Judge complaints for damages against Judge Villamor for knowingly rendering an unjust order of
Adriano Villamor. While the civil case was pending there, respondent Carlos filed Criminal Cases contempt.
Nos. N-989, N-990, N-991, N-992 and N-993 for qualified theft against Gloria Naval and her
helpers. The criminal cases were also assigned to the sala of Judge Villamor. Attorney Guerrero's complaint for damages (Civil Case No. CEB-8802) was raffled to Branch 21,
Regional Trial Court, Cebu City, presided over by Judge Peary G. Aleonar. Carlos' complaint for
Due to the pendency of Civil Case No. B-398, the criminal cases were temporarily archived. damages was docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-8823 and raffled to Branch 8, Regional Trial Court
of Cebu City presided over by Judge Bernardo LL. Salas.
After trial in Civil Case No. B-398, a decision was rendered in favor of Naval who was declared the
lawful owner and possessor of the disputed land. Carlos was ordered to vacate the land. On March 30, 1990, Judge Villamor filed a motion to dismiss Civil Case No. CEB-8802 but it was
denied by Judge Aleonar (p. 33, Rollo of G.R. No. 101296).
Hence, this petition for certiorari and prohibition with restraining order docketed as G.R. No. Nowhere in this Court's decision annulling Judge Villamor's order of direct contempt (G.R. Nos.
101296. 82238-42, November 13, 1989) can there be found a declaration that the erroneous order was
rendered maliciously or with conscious and deliberate intent to commit an injustice. In fact, a
On September 19, 1991, this Court issued a temporary restraining order against Judge Aleonar to previous order of direct contempt issued by Judge Villamor against Carlos' former counsel was
stop him from proceeding in Civil Case No. CEB-8802 (pp. 45-46, Rollo of G.R. No. 101296). sustained by this Court (Jaynes C. Abarrientos, et al. vs. Judge Villamor, G.R. No. 82237, June 1,
1988).
On May 20, 1991, a Manifestation was filed by Judge Villamor praying Judge Salas to dismiss
Civil Case No. CEB-8823 but the motion was denied by respondent Judge on July 2, 1991 (pp. At most, the order of direct contempt which we nullified may only be considered an error of
13-16, Rollo of G.R. No. 101041). judgment for which Judge Villamor may not be held criminally or civilly liable to the respondents.

Hence, this second petition for certiorari and prohibition with restraining order (G.R. No. 101041). A judge is not liable for an erroneous decision in the absence of malice or wrongful conduct in
rendering it (Barroso vs. Arche, 67 SCRA 161).
On August 21, 1991, a Resolution was issued by this Court: 1) temporarily restraining Judge Salas
from further proceeding in Civil Case No. CEB-8823; and 2) granting the petitioner's prayer that WHEREFORE, the consolidated petitions for certiorari are GRANTED, Civil Cases Nos. CEB-
this case be consolidated with G.R. No. 101296 (pp. 37-39, Rollo of G.R. No. 101041). 8802 and CEB-8823, respectively, pending in the salas of respondents Judge Peary G. Aleonar
and Judge Bernardo LL. Salas, are hereby dismissed. The temporary restraining orders issued by
this Court in these cases are hereby made permanent. No costs.
The sole issue here is: whether or not Judges Aleonar and Salas may take cognizance of the
actions for damages against Judge Villamor for allegedly having rendered an unjust order of direct
contempt against Carlos and Attorney Guerrero which this Court subsequently annulled. SO ORDERED.

The answer is no.

As very aptly held by this Court in a Resolution it issued in connection with a previous case filed by
respondent Carlos against Judge Villamor, over a similar action for "Damages and Attorney's Fees
Arising From Rendering an Unjust Judgment," in dismissing the five (5) criminal cases for qualified
theft which he (respondent Carlos) had filed against Gloria P. Naval and others —

Indeed, no Regional Trial Court can pass upon and scrutinize, and much less declare as
unjust a judgment of another Regional Trial Court and sentence the judge thereof liable
for damages without running afoul with the principle that only the higher appellate courts,
namely, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, are vested with authority to review
and correct errors of the trial courts. (George D. Carlos vs. CA, G.R. No. 95560,
November 5, 1990; p. 125, Rollo of G.R No. 101296.)

To allow respondent Judges Aleonar and Salas to proceed with the trial of the actions for
damages against the petitioner, a co-equal judge of a co-equal court, would in effect permit a court
to review and interfere with the judgment of a co-equal court over which it has no appellate
jurisdiction or power of review. The various branches of a Court of First Instance (now the
Regional Trial Court) being co-equal, may not interfere with each other's cases, judgments and
orders (Parco vs. Court of Appeals, 111 SCRA 262).

This Court has already ruled that only after the Appellate Court, in a final judgment, has found that
a trial judge's errors were committed deliberately and in bad faith may a charge of knowingly
rendering an unjust decision be levelled against the latter (Garcia vs. Alconcel, 111 SCRA 178;
Sta. Maria vs. Ubay, 87 SCRA 179; Gahol vs. Riodique, 64 SCRA 494).
FIRST DIVISION Bacolod City, Philippines, September 1, 1992.

(SGD.)RAFAEL O. PENUELA
Judge[8]
[G.R. No. 113006. November 23, 2000]
On appeal to the Regional Trial Court, Bacolod City, the latter court in a decision dated
December 8, 1992, simplistically adopted the decision of the lower court in toto, without stating the
reasons for doing so.[9]
ONG CHIU KWAN, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, and the PEOPLE OF THE On April 22, 1993, by petition for review, Ong Chiu Kwan elevated the case to the Court of
PHILIPPINES, respondents. Appeals.[10] On August 16, 1993, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision dismissing the
appeal,[11]agreeing with the lower courts finding that petitioner was guilty beyond reasonable doubt
DECISION of unjust vexation.

PARDO, J.: Hence, this petition for review.[12]


The Court notes that in the decision of the Regional Trial Court which the Court of Appeals
What is before the Court for consideration is the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming affirmed peremptorily without noticing its nullity, the Regional Trial Court merely quoted the
the conviction of accused Ong Chiu Kwan, for unjust vexation.[1] decision of the Municipal Trial Court in full and added two paragraphs, thus:
On January 31, 1991, Assistant City Prosecutor Andres M. Bayona of Bacolod filed with the
Municipal Trial Court, Bacolod City an information charging petitioner with unjust vexation for This Court, in accordance with the rules, required the parties to submit their corresponding
cutting the electric wires, water pipes and telephone lines of Crazy Feet, a business establishment memorandum or brief. The prosecution filed its memorandum, and also with the defense.
owned and operated by Mildred Ong.[2]
After a careful perusal of the record of the case and evaluating the evidence thereto and exhibits
On April 24, 1990, at around 10:00 in the morning, Ong Chiu Kwan ordered Wilfredo Infante thereof, this Court finds no ground to modify, reverse or alter the above-stated decision and
to relocate the telephone, electric and water lines of Crazy Feet, because said lines posed as a hereby affirms the decision of the lower court in toto.[13]
disturbance.[3] However, Ong Chiu Kwan failed to present a permit from appropriate authorities
allowing him to cut the electric wires, water pipe and telephone lines of the business
The Constitution requires that [N]o decision shall be rendered by any court without
establishment.[4]
expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. [14] The 1985
After due trial, on September 1, 1992, the Municipal Trial Court found Ong Chiu Kwan guilty Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, provides that [T]he judgment must be written in the
of unjust vexation,[5] and sentenced him to imprisonment for twenty days.[6] The court also ordered official language, personally and directly prepared by the judge and signed by him and shall
him to pay moral damages, finding that the wrongful act of abruptly cutting off the electric, water contain clearly and distinctly a statement of the facts proved or admitted by the accused and the
pipe and telephone lines of Crazy Feet caused the interruption of its business operations during law upon which the judgment is based.[15]
peak hours, to the detriment of its owner, Mildred Ong. The trial court also awarded exemplary
Although a memorandum decision is permitted under certain conditions, it cannot merely
damages to complainant as a deterrent to the accused not to follow similar act in the future and to
refer to the findings of fact and the conclusions of law of the lower court. The court must make a
pay attorneys fees.[7] The trial court disposed of the case as follows:
full findings of fact and conclusions of law of its own.[16]
IN VIEW THEREOF, this Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of Consequently, the decision of the regional trial court is a nullity. Very recently, speaking of a
unjust vexation provided under Article 287 par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code and sentences him to similarly worded decision of a regional trial court, we said:
suffer a penalty of imprisonment of twenty (20) days and to pay private complainant the following:
[I]t is starkly hallow, otiosely written, vacuous in its content and trite in its form. It achieved nothing
P10,000.00 - moral damages and attempted at nothing, not even at a simple summation of facts which could easily be done. Its
inadequacy speaks for itself.[17]
P 5,000.00 - exemplary damages
Judges similarly disposed to pay lip service to their work must rethink their place in the
P 5,000.00 - attorneys fees and to pay the cost of this suit. judiciary or seriously take refresher courses on decision writing. We warn them of stiff sanctions
for such lackadaisical performance.
SO ORDERED.
Consequently, the case may be remanded to the lower court for compliance with the
constitutional requirement of contents of a decision. However, considering that this case has been
pending for sometime, the ends of justice will be fully served if we review the evidence and decide
the case.
Petitioner admitted having ordered the cutting of the electric, water and telephone lines of
complainants business establishment because these lines crossed his property line. He failed,
however, to show evidence that he had the necessary permit or authorization to relocate the
lines. Also, he timed the interruption of electric, water and telephone services during peak hours of
the operation of business of the complainant. Thus, petitioners act unjustly annoyed or vexed the
complainant. Consequently, petitioner Ong Chiu Kwan is liable for unjust vexation.
Regarding damages, we find the award of moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees
to be without basis. Moral damages may be recovered if they were the proximate result of
defendants wrongful act or omission.[18] An award of exemplary damages is justified if the crime
was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances.[19] There is no evidence to support
such award.Hence, we delete the award of moral damages, exemplary damages, and attorneys
fees.
WHEREFORE, the decisions of the lower courts are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. In lieu
thereof, accused Ong Chiu Kwan is hereby sentenced to pay a fine of P200.00, and the costs. The
award of moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees is hereby deleted.
SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION On November 15, 1985, while the second annulment case was pending, the Court of Appeals
dismissed the appeal filed in the collection case and affirmed in toto the summary judgment
G.R. No. 118830 February 24, 2003 rendered by the CFI of Manila.20 The matter was elevated to us on a petition for review,21 but was
eventually dismissed for having been filed out of time and for lack of merit. 22 Hence, the decision in
the collection case became final.
SPOUSES ALFREDO AND ENCARNACION CHING, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, FAMILY SAVINGS BANK, and FERDINAND J. GUERRERO, SENIOR On November 13, 1990, the RTC of Makati rendered judgment in the second annulment case in
DEPUTY SHERIFF, MANILA, respondents. favor of petitioners and declared null and void the levy and sale on execution upon the conjugal
property.23 Respondents elevated the decision to the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 31795.
On October 27, 1994, the Court of Appeals issued the assailed decision, reversing and setting
DECISION
aside the decision of the RTC of Makati.24 The Court of Appeals declared that the Makati
annulment case is barred by res judicata because of the prior Rizal annulment case and Manila
AZCUNA, J.: collection case.1awphi1.nét Hence, this appeal.

This petition for review on certiorari, under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeks to set aside the Petitioners pray for the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals on the following grounds: 25
decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 31795, dated October 27, 1994, as well as its
resolution,2 dated January 27, 1995, denying petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. I

The facts, gathered from the records of the petition, involve three different cases filed in separate
The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the decisions rendered in the Manila collection case
jurisdictions.
and Rizal annulment case, taken together, constitute res judicata or bar by prior judgment to the
annulment case filed with the RTC of Makati. Assuming there is res judicata or bar by prior
On August 6, 1981, respondent Family Savings Bank (Bank) filed a complaint 3 with the Court of judgment, the Court of Appeals erred in not holding that respondents have waived this defense.
First Instance (CFI) of Manila, for the collection of a sum of money against its debtor Cheng Ban
Yek & Co., Inc. and petitioner Alfredo Ching, who acted as a surety for Cheng Ban Yek & Co., II
Inc.4 A day after the complaint was filed, the Bank was able to obtain a writ of preliminary
attachment against the defendants.5 Armed with a writ of preliminary attachment, the deputy sheriff
of the CFI of Manila, herein respondent Ferdinand J. Guerrero, proceeded to levy upon a conjugal The Court of Appeals erred in holding that petitioner Encarnacion Ching waived or abandoned her
property6 belonging to petitioners, spouses Alfredo and Encarnacion Ching.7 right or claim on her conjugal property when she did not intervene in the Manila collection case.

On July 26, 1982, petitioners filed a petition8 with the CFI of Rizal,9 seeking to declare illegal the III
levy on attachment upon their conjugal property.10 Petitioners claimed that the branch sheriff had
no authority to levy upon a property belonging to the conjugal partnership. The trial court, In any event, the Court of Appeals erred in not deciding the Makati annulment case on its merits
however, dismissed the case on August 8, 1983 for lack of jurisdiction because the subject on equitable considerations.
property was already under custodia legis of the CFI of Manila.11
We deny the petition.
Meanwhile, summary judgment was rendered in the collection case in favor of the Bank on August
12, 1982.12 The defendants therein, including petitioner Alfredo Ching, appealed the summary The Makati annulment case should have been dismissed from the start for lack of jurisdiction. The
judgment to the Court of Appeals.13While the case was on appeal,14 the trial court granted the RTC of Makati does not have the authority to nullify the levy and sale on execution that was
Bank’s motion for execution pending appeal.15 As a consequence, the attached conjugal property ordered by the CFI of Manila, a co-equal court. The determination of whether or not the levy and
was levied upon and sold through public auction by the deputy sheriff to the Bank on October 10, sale of a property in execution of a judgment was valid, properly falls within the jurisdiction of the
1983.16 court that rendered the judgment and issued the writ of execution.26

On September 5, 1984, in an effort to prevent the deputy sheriff from consolidating the sale, Beginning with the case of Orais v. Escaño,27 down to the subsequent cases of Nuñez v.
petitioners filed a second annulment case17 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Low,28 Cabigao v. del Rosario,29 Hubahib v. Insular Drug Co., Inc.,30 National Power Corp. v. De
Makati.18 Petitioners sought to declare void the levy and sale on execution of their conjugal Veyra,31 Luciano v. Provincial Governor,321a\^/phi1.netDe Leon v. Hon. Judge
property by reiterating the same argument raised in the first annulment case, i.e., that the branch Salvador, Cojuangco v. Villegas, Darwin v. Tokonaga,35 we laid down the long standing doctrine
33 34

sheriff had no authority to levy upon a property belonging to the conjugal partnership.19 that no court has the power to interfere by injunction with the judgments or decrees of a court of
concurrent or coordinate jurisdiction. The various trial courts of a province or city, having the same stranger thereto, any relief therefrom may only be applied with, and obtained from, the executing
or equal authority, should not, cannot, and are not permitted to interfere with their respective court. This is true even if a new party has been impleaded in the suit.
cases, much less with their orders or judgments. A contrary rule would obviously lead to confusion
and seriously hamper the administration of justice. Is a spouse, who was not a party to the suit but whose conjugal property is being executed on
account of the other spouse being the judgment obligor, considered a "stranger?" In Mariano v.
There is no dispute that the subject conjugal property was under custodia legis of the CFI of Court of Appeals,39 we answered this question in the negative. In that case, the CFI of Caloocan
Manila. It was initially attached under a writ of preliminary attachment issued by the CFI of Manila. City declared the wife to be the judgment obligor and, consequently, a writ of execution was
Said property was later on levied upon and sold under a writ of execution issued by the same issued against her. Thereupon, the sheriff proceeded to levy upon the conjugal properties of the
court. Since the attachment, levy and sale have been carried out upon orders of the CFI of Manila, wife and her husband. The wife initially filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals
any and all questions concerning the validity and regularity thereof necessarily had to be praying for the annulment of the writ of execution. However, the petition was adjudged to be
addressed to the CFI of Manila. without merit and was accordingly dismissed. The husband then filed a complaint with the CFI of
Quezon City for the annulment of the writ of execution, alleging therein that the conjugal properties
Petitioners, however, contend that one of the owners of the property, petitioner Encarnacion cannot be made to answer for obligations exclusively contracted by the wife. The executing party
Ching, was not a party to the collection case. Not being a party thereto, Encarnacion Ching should moved to dismiss the annulment case, but the motion was denied. On appeal, the Court of
be allowed to file a separate case as a third-party claimant and said filing cannot be considered as Appeals, in Mariano, ruled that the CFI of Quezon City, in continuing to hear the annulment case,
an encroachment upon the jurisdiction of a co-equal and coordinate court.36 had not interfered with the executing court. We reversed the Court of Appeals’ ruling and held that
there was interference by the CFI of Quezon City with the execution of the CFI of Caloocan City.
We ruled that the husband of the judgment debtor cannot be deemed a "stranger" to the case
We do not agree.
prosecuted and adjudged against his wife, which would allow the filing of a separate and
independent action.
Section 16 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court authorizes a third person, who is not the judgment
debtor or his agent, to vindicate his claim to a property levied through an entirely separate and
The facts of the Mariano case are similar to this case. Clearly, it was inappropriate for petitioners
distinct action. Said rule reads as follows:37
to institute a separate case for annulment when they could have easily questioned the execution
of their conjugal property in the collection case. We note in fact that the trial court in the Rizal
SECTION 16. Proceedings where property claimed by third person. — If the property levied on is annulment case specifically informed petitioners that Encarnacion Ching’s rights could be
claimed by any person other than the judgment obligor or his agent, and such person makes an ventilated in the Manila collection case by the mere expedient of intervening therein. 40 Apparently,
affidavit of his title thereto or right to the possession thereof, stating the grounds of such right or petitioners ignored the trial court’s advice, as Encarnacion Ching did not intervene therein and
title, and serves the same upon the officer making the levy and a copy thereof upon the judgment petitioners instituted another annulment case after their conjugal property was levied upon and
obligee, the officer shall not be bound to keep the property, unless such judgment obligee, on sold on execution.
demand of the officer, files a bond approved by the court to indemnify the third-party claimant in a
sum not less than the value of the property levied on. In case of disagreement as to such value,
There have been instances where we ruled that a spouse may file a separate case against a
the same shall be determined by the court issuing the writ of execution. No claim for damages for
wrongful execution.41However, in those cases, we allowed the institution of a separate and
the taking or keeping of the property may be enforced against the bond unless the action therefor
independent action because what were executed upon were the paraphernal or exclusive property
is filed within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of the filing of the bond.
of a spouse who was not a party to the case. In those instances, said spouse can truly be deemed
a "stranger." In the present case, the levy and sale on execution was made upon the conjugal
The officer shall not be liable for damages for the taking or keeping of the property, to any third- property.
party claimant if such bond is filed. Nothing herein contained shall prevent such claimant or any
third person from vindicating his claim to the property in a separate action, or prevent the judgment
In any case, even without the intervention of Encarnacion Ching in the collection case, it appears
obligee from claiming damages in the same or separate action against a third-party claimant who
that Alfredo Ching was able to raise the conjugal nature of the property in both the trial court and
filed a frivolous or plainly spurious claim.
appellate court. A perusal of the records reveals that petitioner Alfredo Ching filed a Motion for
Reconsideration and to Quash Writ of Execution before the CFI of Manila. In the motion, he
xxxxxxxxx specifically argued that the execution was invalid for having been enforced upon their conjugal
property.42 Alfredo Ching raised this argument again on appeal in CA G.R. CV No.
In Ong v. Tating,38 we elucidated on the applicability of Section 16 of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. 02421.43 Evidently, due process has been afforded to petitioners as regards the execution on their
We held therein that a separate and distinct case from that in which the execution has issued is conjugal property.
proper if instituted by a "stranger" to the latter suit. Upon the other hand, if the claim of impropriety
on the part of the sheriff in the execution proceedings is made by a party to the action, not a Considering that that the RTC of Makati did not have jurisdiction to hear Civil Case No. 8389, it
becomes unnecessary to resolve the other issues raised by petitioners.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED. The assailed decision and resolution of the
Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines Thus, the Regional Trial Court of Makati issued an Order dated February 10, 1999,
SUPREME COURT dismissing the complaint without prejudice on the ground of improper venue.

SECOND DIVISION Aggrieved by the dismissal of the complaint, respondent Lucio Tan filed an Omnibus
Motion dated February 24, 1999, seeking reconsideration of the dismissal and admission of
G.R. No. 145022 September 23, 2005 the amended complaint. In par. 2.01.1of the amended complaint, it is alleged that "This
article was printed and first published in the City of Makati" (p. 53, Rollo, CA-G.R. SP No.
55192), and in par. 2.04.1, that "This caricature was printed and first published in the City of
ARMAND NOCUM and THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER, INC., Petitioners, Makati" (p. 55, id.).
vs.

vs. The lower court, after having the case dismissed for improper venue, admitted the
LUCIO TAN, Respondent. amended complaint and deemed set aside the previous order of dismissal, supra,
stating, inter alia, that:
DECISION
"The mistake or deficiency in the original complaint appears now to have been cured in the
Amended Complaint which can still be properly admitted, pursuant to Rule 10 of the 1997
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Rules of Civil Procedure, inasmuch as the Order of dismissal is not yet final. Besides, there
is no substantial amendment in the Amended Complaint which would affect the
Assailed in a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil defendants’ defenses and their Answers. The Amendment is merely formal, contrary to the
Procedure are the decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated 19 April 2000 that affirmed the contention of the defendants that it is substantial."
order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 56, in Civil Case No. 98-2288,
dated 19 April 1999, admitting respondent Lucio Tan’s Amended Complaint for Damages
Dissatisfied, petitioners, together with defendants Capt. Florendo Umali and the Airline
for the alleged malicious and defamatory imputations against him in two (2) articles of the Pilots Association of the Philippines, Inc. (ALPAP), appealed the RTC decision to the Court
Philippine Daily Inquirer, and its Resolution2 dated 15 September 2000 denying petitioners of Appeals. Two petitions for certiorari were filed, one filed by petitioners which was
Armand Nocum and The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inc.’s motion for reconsideration.
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 55192, and the other by defendants Umali and ALPAP which
was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 54894. The two petitions were consolidated.
The antecedents are summarized by the Court of Appeals.
On 19 April 2000, the Court of Appeals rendered its decision the dispositive portion of
On September 27, 1998, Lucio Tan filed a complaint against reporter Armand Nocum, Capt. which reads:
Florendo Umali, ALPAP and Inquirer with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, docketed
as Civil Case No. 98-2288, seeking moral and exemplary damages for the alleged malicious
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED DUE COURSE and
and defamatory imputations contained in a news article.
DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Order of the court a quo is hereby AFFIRMED.

INQUIRER and NOCUM filed their joint answer, dated October 27, 1998, wherein they
The motions for reconsideration filed by petitioners and by defendants Umali and ALPAP
alleged that: (1) the complaint failed to state a cause of action; (2) the defamatory were likewise denied in a resolution dated 15 September 2000.
statements alleged in the complaint were general conclusions without factual premises; (3)
the questioned news report constituted fair and true report on the matters of public interest
concerning a public figure and therefore, was privileged in nature; and (4) malice on their Both petitioners and defendants Umali and ALPAP appealed to this Court. Under
part was negated by the publication in the same article of plaintiff’s or PAL’s side of the consideration is the petition for review filed by petitioners.
dispute with the pilot’s union.
On 11 December 2000, the Court required respondent Tan to comment on the petition filed
ALPAP and UMALI likewise filed their joint answer, dated October 31, 1998, and alleged by petitioners.3
therein that: (1) the complaint stated no cause of action; (2) venue was improperly laid; and
(3) plaintiff Lucio Tan was not a real party in interest. It appeared that the complaint failed Respondent filed his comment on 22 January 20014 to which petitioners filed a reply on 26
to state the residence of the complainant at the time of the alleged commission of the April 2001.5
offense and the place where the libelous article was printed and first published.
In a Manifestation filed on 19 February 2001, respondent stated that the petition6 filed by Petitioners are confusing jurisdiction with venue. A former colleague, the Hon. Florenz D.
defendants Umali and ALPAP has already been denied by the Court in a resolution dated 17 Regalado,14differentiated jurisdiction and venue as follows: (a) Jurisdiction is the authority
January 2001.7 to hear and determine a case; venue is the place where the case is to be heard or tried; (b)
Jurisdiction is a matter of substantive law; venue, of procedural law; (c) Jurisdiction
On 20 August 2003, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition and required the establishes a relation between the court and the subject matter; venue, a relation between
parties to submit their respective memoranda within thirty (30) days from notice. 8 Both plaintiff and defendant, or petitioner and respondent; and, (d) Jurisdiction is fixed by law
petitioners and respondent complied.9 and cannot be conferred by the parties; venue may be conferred by the act or agreement of
the parties.
Petitioners assigned the following as errors:
In the case at bar, the additional allegations in the Amended Complaint that the article and
the caricature were printed and first published in the City of Makati referred only to the
A. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING (1) THAT THE LOWER COURT HAD
question of venue and not jurisdiction. These additional allegations would neither confer
JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE (ON THE BASIS OF THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINT)
jurisdiction on the RTC nor would respondent’s failure to include the same in the original
NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE LOWER COURT HAD EARLIER DISMISSED THE
complaint divest the lower court of its jurisdiction over the case. Respondent’s failure to
ORIGINAL COMPLAINT FOR ITS FAILURE TO CONFER JURISDICTION UPON THJE
allege these allegations gave the lower court the power, upon motion by a party, to dismiss
COURT; AND (2) THAT THE AMENDED COMPLAINT WAS PROPERLY ALLOWED OR the complaint on the ground that venue was not properly laid.
ADMITTED BECAUSE THE LOWER COURT WAS "NEVER DIVESTED" OF JURISDICTION
OVER THE CASE;
In Laquian v. Baltazar,15 this Court construed the term "jurisdiction" in Article 360 of the
Revised Penal Code as referring to the place where actions for libel shall be filed or
B. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINT "venue."
OF RESPONDENT WAS AMENDED PURPOSELY TO CONFER UPON THE LOWER COURT
JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE.10
In Escribano v. Avila,16 pursuant to Republic Act No. 4363,17 we laid down the following
rules on the venue of the criminal and civil actions in written defamations.
Petitioners state that Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code vests jurisdiction over all civil
and criminal complaints for libel on the RTC of the place: (1) where the libelous article was
printed and first published; or (2) where the complainant, if a private person, resides; or (3) 1. General rule: The action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city
where the complainant, if a public official, holds office. They argue that since the original where the libelous article is printed and first published or where any of the offended parties
complaint only contained the office address of respondent and not the latter’s actual actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense.
residence or the place where the allegedly offending news reports were printed and first
published, the original complaint, by reason of the deficiencies in its allegations, failed to 2. If the offended party is a public officer with office in Manila at the time the offense was
confer jurisdiction on the lower court. committed, the venue is Manila or the city or province where the libelous article is printed
and first published.
The question to be resolved is: Did the lower court acquire jurisdiction over the civil case
upon the filing of the original complaint for damages? 3. Where an offended party is a public official with office outside of Manila, the venue is the
province or the city where he held office at the time of the commission of the offense or
We rule in the affirmative. where the libelous article is printed and first published.

It is settled that jurisdiction is conferred by law based on the facts alleged in the 4. If an offended party is a private person, the venue is his place of residence at the time of
complaint since the latter comprises a concise statement of the ultimate facts constituting the commission of the offense or where the libelous article is printed and first published.
the plaintiff's causes of action.11 In the case at bar, after examining the original complaint,
we find that the RTC acquired jurisdiction over the case when the case was filed before it. The common feature of the foregoing rules is that whether the offended party is a public
From the allegations thereof, respondent’s cause of action is for damages arising from officer or a private person, he has always the option to file the action in the Court of First
libel, the jurisdiction of which is vested with the RTC. Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code Instance of the province or city where the libelous article is printed or first published.
provides that it is a Court of First Instance12 that is specifically designated to try a libel
case.13 We further restated18 the rules on venue in Article 360 as follows:
1. Whether the offended party is a public official or a private person, the criminal action access to the courts as it relates to the place of trial.22 In contrast, in criminal actions, it is
may be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where the libelous article fundamental that venue is jurisdictional it being an essential element of jurisdiction.23
is printed and first published.
Petitioners’ argument that the lower court has no jurisdiction over the case because
2. If the offended party is a private individual, the criminal action may also be filed in the respondent failed to allege the place where the libelous articles were printed and first
Court of First Instance of the province where he actually resided at the time of the published would have been tenable if the case filed were a criminal case. The failure of the
commission of the offense. original complaint to contain such information would be fatal because this fact involves the
issue of venue which goes into the territorial jurisdiction of the court. This is not to be
3. If the offended party is a public officer whose office is in Manila at the time of the because the case before us is a civil action where venue is not jurisdictional.
commission of the offense, the action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of Manila.
The cases24 cited by petitioners are not applicable here. These cases involve amendments
4. If the offended party is a public officer holding office outside of Manila, the action may be on complaints that confer jurisdiction on courts over which they originally had none. This
filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where he held office at the time of is not true in the case at bar. As discussed above, the RTC acquired jurisdiction over the
the commission of the offense. subject matter upon the filing of the original complaint. It did not lose jurisdiction over the
same when it dismissed it on the ground of improper venue. The amendment merely laid
down the proper venue of the case.
We fully agree with the Court of Appeals when it ruled:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated 19
We note that the amended complaint or amendment to the complaint was not intended to April 2000 is AFFIRMED in toto. No costs.
vest jurisdiction to the lower court, where originally it had none. The amendment was
merely to establish the proper venue for the action. It is a well-established rule that venue
has nothing to do with jurisdiction, except in criminal actions. Assuming that venue were SO ORDERED.
properly laid in the court where the action was instituted, that would be procedural, not a
jurisdictional impediment. In fact, in civil cases, venue may be waived.

Consequently, by dismissing the case on the ground of improper venue, the lower court
had jurisdiction over the case. Apparently, the herein petitioners recognized this
jurisdiction by filing their answers to the complaint, albeit, questioning the propriety of
venue, instead of a motion to dismiss.

...

We so hold that dismissal of the complaint by the lower court was proper considering that
the complaint, indeed, on its face, failed to allege neither the residence of the complainant
nor the place where the libelous article was printed and first published. Nevertheless,
before the finality of the dismissal, the same may still be amended as in fact the amended
complaint was admitted, in view of the court a quo’s jurisdiction, of which it was never
divested. In so doing, the court acted properly and without any grave abuse of discretion.19

It is elementary that objections to venue in CIVIL ACTIONS arising from libel may be waived
since they do not involve a question of jurisdiction. The laying of venue is procedural
rather than substantive, relating as it does to jurisdiction of the court over the person
rather than the subject matter. Venue relates to trial and not to jurisdiction. 20 It is a
procedural, not a jurisdictional, matter. It relates to the place of trial or geographical
location in which an action or proceeding should be brought and not to the jurisdiction of
the court.21 It is meant to provide convenience to the parties, rather than restrict their
Republic of the Philippines Respondent further claimed that he had redeemed the property on March 3, 1988 and accordingly
SUPREME COURT reacquired possession thereof.3
Manila
Meanwhile, the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator in Cebu rendered a decision in Reg. Case
SECOND DIVISION No. VII-76-C-90 dated February 15, 1993, in favor of the tenants, the dispositive portion of which
states:
G.R. No. 170478 May 22, 2008
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing view, DECISION is hereby rendered as
SPS. TERESITO Y. VILLACASTIN and LOURDES FUA VILLACASTIN, petitioners, follows:
vs.
PAUL PELAEZ, respondent. 1. Declaring complainants herein with the exception of Silbino Arranquez[,] Jr. and Claro
Gilbuela who earlier withdraw from this case as bonafide tenant farmers of the parcels in
DECISION question covered by P.D. [No.] 27;

TINGA, J.: 2. Declaring the mortgage executed by Sps. Paul and Elnora Pelaez to respondent DBP
and the subsequent foreclosure and eventual sale thereof to Sps. Teresito and Lourdes
Villacastin as null and void ab initio as it is contrary to law, public order and public policy;
A conflict of jurisdiction between the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB)
and the regular trial courts is at the core of the present case. Petitioners question the Decision 1of
the Court of Appeals dated February 7, 2005, in CA-G.R. SP. No. 83873, which upheld the 3. Declaring complainants herein to properly account their deposited shares/lease rentals
primary and exclusive jurisdiction of the DARAB in cases involving the use or possession of lands before the DAR office of Bantayan[,] Cebu and deliver the said deposited [share/lease]
covered by agrarian laws. rentals including the forthcoming harvest thereon to respondent landowners Sps. Paul
and Elnora Pelaez with the assistance of the MARO of Bantayan, Madridejos, Cebu.
The facts, as culled from the record, are as follows:
4. No pronouncement as to cost.4
On June 29, 1976, respondent Paul Pelaez and his wife mortgaged their agricultural lands bearing
Original Certificates of Title Nos. 0-10343, 0-10344 and 0-10345, situated in Barrio Kodia, This decision was affirmed by the DARAB in a Decision5 dated February 22, 2000.
Madridejos, Cebu, to the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) Bogo Branch, Cebu. For
failure of the Pelaez spouses to pay their mortgage obligation, the properties were foreclosed and On January 6, 2000, the MCTC rendered judgment in Civil Case No. 79 in favor of petitioners and
subsequently sold at public auction. disposed as follows:

The purported tenants of the property, Anastacio Alob, Francisco Alob, Jesus Cordova, Manuel WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendant is hereby ordered:
Sanchez, Elia Giltendez, Flora dela Peña, Eliseo Rayco, Benjamin Santillan, Pascual Gilbuena,
Jesus Alob, Renaldo Grande, and Julieto Manzueto, filed an action to annul the mortgage, a) To return to plaintiffs possession of the parcel of land above-described and vacate the
foreclosure and sale of the properties, claiming that they are the owners thereof under Presidential premises;
Decree No. 27. the case was docketed as Reg. Case No. VII-76-C-90.
b) To pay the costs of litigation;
In the meantime, on May 10, 1988, petitioners filed a Complaint for Forcible Entry with Prayer for a
Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction,2 docketed as Civil Case No. 79, with the First Municipal
c) Moral and exemplary damages not recoverable in ejectment suit is denied;
Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Bantayan, Cebu, against respondent and a certain Elesio
Monteseven. The complaint averred that plaintiffs (petitioners herein) are the owners and actual
possessors of the subject landholding and that defendants, having entered the property through d) Expenses claimed not duly proven are disallowed;
stealth and strategy, unlawfully deprived plaintiffs of possession thereof.
e) To release in favor of the plaintiffs the cash bond the sum of P5,000.00 deposited
Respondent countered that he is the owner of the subject property, which was foreclosed by the pursuant to the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction.6
DBP and later purchased by petitioners at an auction sale. Petitioners, however, were allegedly
never in possession of the subject property as they failed to apply for a writ of possession therefor.
In a Decision7 dated March 10, 2004, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dakit, Bogo, Cebu, Branch That the plaintiffs are the owners and legal as well as actual possessors of a parcel of
61, affirmed the MCTC decision. agricultural land more particularly described as follows:

The Court of Appeals, however, ruled that regular courts should respect the primary jurisdiction xxx
vested upon the DARAB in cases involving agricultural lands such as the property subject of this
case. Accordingly, it set aside the decision rendered by the RTC and the MCTC, and dismissed IV
the complaint for forcible entry filed by petitioners in this case.
That the defendant, sometime in the second week of March 1988, by strategy and
The appellate court denied reconsideration in its Resolution8 dated November 11, 2005. through stealth entered the above-described land of the plaintiffs and took possession
thereof; thus, depriving said plaintiffs of the possession thereof;
Petitioners contend that Civil Case No. 79 did not involve any agrarian matter and thus, the MCTC
correctly exercised jurisdiction over the case. V

In his Comment9 dated March 21, 2006, respondent underscores the fact that the parcels of land That several demands were made the plaintiffs upon the defendants to restore to them
subject of this case are tenanted agricultural lands. Before judgment was rendered in the forcible the possession of the above-described parcel of land; but, defendants refused and still
entry case, the tenants of the property already filed a suit with the DARAB for the annulment of the refuse to restore possession of said property to the plaintiffs;15
real estate mortgage executed by respondent over the same in favor of DBP and the subsequent
foreclosure and auction sale in favor of petitioners. The DARAB's decision declaring the mortgage,
It has not escaped our notice that no landowner-tenant vinculum juris or juridical tie was alleged
foreclosure and auction sale null and void became final as regards petitioners who did not appeal
between petitioners and respondent, let alone that which would characterize the relationship as an
from the decision. Respondent asserts that the complaint for forcible entry filed by petitioners had
agrarian dispute.16 Rule II of the DARAB Rules17 provides that the DARAB "shall have primary
lost its legal basis after the DARAB declared that the foreclosure and auction sale of the subject
property were null and void. jurisdiction, both original and appellate, to determine and adjudicate all agrarian disputes, cases,
controversies, and matters or incidents involving the implementation of the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Program under Republic Act No. 6657, Executive Order Nos. 229, 228 and 129-
Petitioners filed a Reply10 dated July 28, 2006, insisting that the tenant-farmers involved in the A, Republic Act No, 3844 as amended by Republic Act No. 6389, Presidential Decree No. 27 and
DARAB case were not parties to the forcible entry case, the only defendant therein being other agrarian laws and their implementing rules and regulations."
respondent in this case. Respondent, in turn, raised the defense of ownership, thereby joining the
issues regarding possession and ownership.
Petitioners' action is clearly for the recovery of physical or material possession of the subject
property only, a question which both the MCTC and the RTC ruled petitioners are entitled to. It
Petitioners further note their argument in their Motion for Reconsideration 11 of the Decision of the does not involve the adjudication of an agrarian reform matter, nor an agrarian dispute falling
Court of Appeals that the subject property had been declared as wilderness area and the same within the jurisdiction of the DARAB.
had been classified as alienable and disposable on December 22, 1987. In support of this
contention, they submitted a Department of Agrarian Reform Order12 dated September 12, 1997 to
Courts have jurisdiction over possessory actions involving public or private agricultural lands to
the effect that the subject property falls within the administrative authority or competence of the
determine the issue of physical possession as this issue is independent of the question of
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The order directed the PARO of
disposition and alienation of such lands which should be threshed out in the DAR.18 Thus,
Cebu and the MARO of Bantayan, Cebu to cease and desist from further activities affecting the
jurisdiction was rightfully exercised by the MCTC and the RTC.
subject property under Operation Land Transfer, and to refer the matter to the DENR.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP.
Jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the allegations of the complaint.13 In
No. 83873 dated February 7, 2005, and its Resolution dated November 11, 2005, are REVERSED
ascertaining, for instance, whether an action is one for forcible entry falling within the exclusive
and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Dakit, Bogo, Cebu, Branch 61, dated
jurisdiction of the inferior courts, the averments of the complaint and the character of the relief
sought are to be examined.14 March 10, 2004, affirming the decision of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Bantayan, Cebu,
dated June 6, 2000, is REINSTATED. No pronouncement as to costs.
A review of the complaint reveals that the pertinent allegations thereof sufficiently vest jurisdiction
over the action on the MCTC. The complaint alleges as follows: SO ORDERED.

III
FIRST DIVISION WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court hereby decides to REMAND this case to
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 31, San Pablo City, for trial on the merits as to which of
[G.R. No. 92625 : December 26, 1990.]
the parties are legally entitled to the custody of the child, Joyce Orda Galang.
192 SCRA 768
SO ORDERED. 2
JOSE ORDA and IMELDA LOZADA, Petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF
In conformity with the foregoing decision the Regional Trial Court of San Pablo City, the Hon.
APPEALS and GIL GALANG Respondents.
Napoleon R. Flojo presiding, before which private respondent filed his first action, ordered the
reinstatement of Special Proceedings No. SP-719 (87) and scheduled the case for trial on the
merits. 3 Upon examination of the records of said case, petitioners noted that only the order of
DECISION dismissal of the same was in the expediente of the case. They brought this matter to the attention
of the trial court which then issued an order dated 27 January 1989 directing the Chief, Archives
Section of the Court of Appeals "to transmit to this Court the original record of case AC-G.R. No.
GANCAYCO, J.: SP-13912 (sic) immediately upon receipt of this Order." 4
In reply, the respondent Court of Appeals advised the trial court that no records can be remanded
The question presented in this case is whether or not the Court of Appeals may refer a petition for because no expediente from the lower court was ever elevated. For this reason, petitioners filed
habeas corpus originally filed with it to the Regional Trial Court for a full-blown trial due to with respondent court on 21 April 1989 a Motion for Clarification of its earlier decision alleging that
conflicting facts presented by the parties. CA-G.R. No. SP-13912 was an original action, not an appeal emanating from, or a special civil
action to assail, a case filed with the trial court, hence no record of the case can be remanded
Originally, private respondent filed a petition for habeas corpus with the Regional Trial Court of because no expediente from the lower court was ever elevated to the Court of Appeals; that
San Pablo City to regain custody of his minor daughter, Joyce, who continued staying with her Special Proceedings No. SP-719 (87) was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and the order of
maternal grandparents, petitioners herein, her mother being already deceased at the initiation of dismissal has long become final and, moreover, herein petitioners were never brought to the
the action. The case was eventually dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because petitioners, as jurisdiction of the trial court in said special proceedings, so much so that they have not even
defendants therein, had moved to Bataan and any writ of habeas corpus to be issued by the trial presented an answer or opposition in said special proceedings; and that a reinstatement of
court may not be enforced against them. Special Proceedings No. SP-719 (87), over which the trial court had lost jurisdiction, may not be
Subsequently, private respondent, on the basis of his being the sole surviving parent of his justified by virtue of the order of the Court of Appeals to remand CA-G.R. No. 13912 for trial on the
daughter, filed a petition for habeas corpus with the respondent Court of Appeals docketed as CA- merits. 5
G.R. No. 13912-SP, an original action to compel petitioners to produce the body of minor Joyce The Court of Appeals 6 resolved this motion on 6 June 1989 as follows:
Orda Galang and explain the basis of their custody. Petitioners herein filed their
Opposition/Answer 1 alleging that private respondent abandoned his wife and child, had no source At the outset, it is necessary to point out that this Court entertained this petition for Habeas Corpus
of livelihood and therefore could not support his daughter, they prayed that care and custody of in the exercise of its original jurisdiction over such case. Said petition is in no way connected with
the child be awarded them.: rd the one dismissed by the lower court in SP-719 (87).

On 13 April 1988, respondent court issued its assailed decision, as follows: In their Motion for Clarification, [petitioners] appear to be confused by this Court's directive
remanding the case to the lower court.
The conflicting thesis (sic), however, of petitioner [private respondent herein] and
respondents [petitioners herein] require a full-blown trial of the facts alleged by the It should be noted that when this Court ordered the same, it did not mean the remanding of the
parties. This could be shown by the initial discussions aforestated. records, but (the) referring (of) the case to the court a quo for appropriate action, it enjoying
original and concurrent jurisdiction with this Court over habeas corpus cases (B.P. 129).:-cralaw
The records show that [private respondent] had already filed a similar petition before the
Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 31, San Pablo City, on November Judge Napoleon Flojo also appears to be mixed up as he issued an Order dated January 27,
23, 1987, in Special Proceedings No. SP-719 (87). However, the writ was returned 1989, which inter alia require the Chief, Archives Section of this Court "to transmit" to the Regional
unserved as [petitioners] ostensibly transferred their domicile at the Philippine Refugee Trial Court "the original record of case AC-G.R. No. 13912 immediately upon receipt of this order."
Processing Center at Barrio Sabang, Morong, Bataan. (p. 106, Rollo) (sic) But no records can be transmitted back to the lower court simply because no
records were elevated in that, as aforesaid, the case was filed here as an original action.
Inasmuch as [petitioners] have submitted to the jurisdiction of the Court by producing the
body of the child, Joyce Orda Galang, and submitted their comments to the petition, the The [petitioners] have manifested in their motion that they were not given an opportunity to answer
trial on the merits could now proceed to determine who of the parties are entitled to the or at least comment on the petition. Now the same is in the lower court as directed in the decision
custody of the child. sought to be clarified. Indeed, issues cannot be joined if the lower court will deprive the
[petitioners] (of) their right to respond to the petition.
WHEREFORE, for the sake of clarity the dispositive portion of the decision dated April 13, THEY FILED IN AC (sic) G.R. SP NO. 13912 BEFORE THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,
1988 is hereby MODIFIED to read as follows: UPON THE RECEIPT OF WHICH, SHALL ASSIGN THE CASE A NEW NUMBER
WITHOUT REQUIRING [private respondent] TO PAY THE DOCKETING FEE."
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court hereby decides to REFER this
case to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 31, San Pablo City, for trial on the SO ORDERED. 9
merits as to which of the parties are legally entitled to the custody of the child,
In this special civil action for Certiorari petitioners assign the following as errors committed by the
Joyce Orda Galang. FOR ISSUES TO BE JOINED, THE LOWER COURT IS
Court of Appeals:
HEREBY ORDERED TO REQUIRE THE [petitioners] TO ANSWER THE
PETITION." 1. Respondent Court of Appeals erred, as it is without authority [to do so], in referring the
original action for habeas corpus filed before it to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 31,
SO ORDERED." 7
San Pablo City, for trial on the merits to determine the issue as to which of the parties
Both parties filed separate motions for reconsideration of the foregoing resolution. Petitioners are legally entitled to the custody of the child, its reliance on Section 9[1] in relation to
contended that respondent Court of Appeals had no authority to refer the case to the lower court Section 21 of B.P. Blg. 21 being specious.
for trial on the merits because said court, in the original habeas corpus case filed by private
2. Respondent Court of Appeals erred in ordering the parties to the original action for
respondent, had never acquired jurisdiction over their persons. Further, that respondent court had
habeas corpus filed before it to reproduce before the Regional Trial Court all the
no power to order a case docketed with the lower court without private respondent having paid the
pleadings they filed in AC-G.R. SP No. 13912 (sic).
docketing fee and filing an appropriate pleading therein. Private respondent, on the other hand,
also set forth similar contentions and prayed that trial on the merits be resumed by respondent 3. Respondent Court of Appeals erred, as it is without authority [to do so], in directing the
Court. Regional Trial Court, Branch 31, San Pablo City, to assign the case a new case
number without requiring herein private respondent (as petitioner therein) to pay the
The Court of Appeals 8 resolved both motions for reconsideration on 13 March 1990 as follows:
docket fee therefor. 10
We entertain no doubt that [petitioners] had never been brought to the jurisdiction of the
There is merit in the contentions of petitioners.
lower court in SP: PROC. No. SP-719 (87)and agree with the claim that the Order of
dismissal issued in said case had already become final and executory. But then, it must Essentially, petitioners argue that the Court of Appeals has no power to issue the decision
be pointed out again that with the filing of another petition for habeas corpus before this remanding the proceedings to the trial court and the two subsequent resolutions clarifying the
Court (docketed as AC [sic] G.R. SP No. 13912), an entirely new proceeding was same.
commenced. Unlike the lower court in the previous habeas corpus case, this Court
acquired jurisdiction over the persons of [petitioners] upon their filing of an The assailed decision and the two resolutions of the Court of Appeals are not supported by law
Opposition/Answer on April 4, 1988 (p. 14, Rollo). and the Rules of Court. The provisions of the Judiciary Reorganization Act (B.P. Blg. 129) cited by
the respondent Court of Appeals in its resolution dated 13 March 1990 are not in point. Sections
Section 9[1] in relation to Section 21 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 confers upon the Court of 9(1) and 21 thereof merely provide that the Court of Appeals and Regional Trial Courts,
Appeals authority to try and decide habeas corpus cases concurrent with the Regional Trial respectively, exercise original jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus, among others. While
Courts. Concurrent or coordinate jurisdiction has been defined as that which is possessed by a recognizing the concurrent original jurisdiction of both courts over habeas corpus cases as special
court together with another or others over the same subject matter. Clearly, therefore, Batas proceedings, these provisions are not authority for remanding or referring to the latter original
Pambansa Blg. 129 provides the basis for Us to refer AC (sic) G.R. SP No. 13912 to the lower actions filed with the former.
court for trial on the merits. With the referral of AC (sic) G.R. SP No. 13912, the jurisdiction which
this Court acquired over the persons of [petitioners] was transferred to and conferred upon the On the contrary, the Court of Appeals is specifically given the power to receive evidence and
Regional Trial Court, which necessarily must treat said case as a separate and distinct proceeding perform any and all acts necessary to resolve factual issues raised in cases falling within its
from the one it earlier dismissed. This means that the Regional Trial Court must assign the original jurisdiction. 11 Furthermore, under the Supreme Court Resolution dated 11 February 1983
referred case a new number, but need not require the [private respondent] to remit the prescribed implementing B.P. Blg. 129 pending the corresponding thorough revision of the Rules of Court, the
docketing fee inasmuch as the same had already been paid with this Court. What the parties need Court of Appeals is authorized to conduct a trial or hearing to receive evidence and for the
to do though is to reproduce the pleadings they filed in AC (sic) G.R. SP No. 13912 before the purpose shall observe the procedure prescribed for the trial courts. 12 Clearly, the Court of
Regional Trial Court in order for issues to be joined therein.- nad Appeals should not have remanded or referred the petition for a writ of habeas corpus to the trial
court.: nad
Accordingly, the dispositive portion of the Decision dated April 13, 1988 is hereby further clarified
to read thus: Finally, the questioned decision and resolutions go against the Revised Internal Rules of the Court
of Appeals. 13 Under Rule 6, Section 2(c) (5) thereof, the proper procedure is as follows:
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court hereby decides to REFER this case to
the regional Trial Court, Branch 31, San Pablo City, for trial on the merits as to which of RULE 6
the parties are legally entitled to the custody of the child, Joyce Orda Galang. FOR THIS
PURPOSE, THE PARTIES ARE DIRECTED TO REPRODUCE ALL THE PLEADINGS
PROCEDURE IN SPECIAL CASES

xxx
SEC. 2. Special Civil Action. — Original verified petitions for Certiorari, prohibition,
mandamus, habeas corpus, quo warranto and other writs may be filed in the Court of
Appeals . . .
xxx
c. Judicial Action. — The Court may either deny due course or dismiss the petition
outright, or require the private respondent or respondents to comment on the petition, or
give due course thereto.
xxx
(5) If it appears that there is need for reception of evidence, the Division to which the
Justice to whom the case is assigned for study and report belongs shall conduct the
hearing. The Division shall have the power to perform any acts to resolve the factual
issues raised in the case (Emphasis supplied.)
Attention is also directed to the fact that the foregoing provision is silent as to whether or not the
hearing may be delegated, unlike that of the provision on annulment of judgments, Section 1(c)(3)
of the same Rule, where, on motion of the parties, referral of any of the issues to a Commissioner
is allowed in accordance with Rule 33 of the Rules of Court.
Under the foregoing disquisition, the Court of Appeals was in error in ordering the remand and
later on the referral of the original petition for habeas corpus filed with it to the Regional Trial
Court. What respondent court should have done was to conduct the reception of evidence and
pass upon the merits of the conflicting allegations of the parties insofar as the petition for a writ of
habeas corpus is concerned.
While We agree with the conclusion reached by respondent court that the case requires a full-
blown trial of the facts, the same should be done in the context of the special proceedings for
custody of minors under Rule 99 of the Rules of Court, and not a remand or referral of the original
action for a writ of habeas corpus filed with the respondent court. Parenthetically, the proper
venue in this action is the place where the petitioner therein resides. 14 Petitioners' third assigned
error is disposed of accordingly.
WHEREFORE, the petition for Certiorari is hereby GRANTED. The assailed decision and
resolutions of the respondent Court of Appeals are SET ASIDE and a new one is rendered
DISMISSING the petition for habeas corpus WITHOUT PREJUDICE to the filing by private
respondent of the appropriate special proceedings to gain custody of his minor child. Let copies of
this decision be furnished all Members of the respondent Court of Appeals. No costs.
SO ORDERED
Republic of the Philippines to be exercised by Dr. Jose D. Merencilla,
SUPREME COURT Jr." 2
Manila
Dr. de la Fuente's case was decided by the Civil Service Commission in a Resolution dated
EN BANC August 9, 1988. In that Resolution, the Commission made the following conclusion and
disposition, to wit:

. . (The Commission) declares the demotion/transfer of appellant de la Fuente,


G.R. No. 101428 August 5, 1992 Jr. from Chief of Clinics to Medical Specialists II as null and void: hence, illegal.
Considering further that since the National Children's Hospital was not abolished
and the position therein remained intact although the title or the position of Chief
DR. ISABELITA VITAL-GOZON, in her official capacity as MEDICAL CENTER CHIEF OF THE
of Clinics was changed to "Chief of Medical Professional Staff" with substantially
NATIONAL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, petitioner,
the same functions and responsibilities, the Commission hereby orders that:
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and DR. ALEJANDRO S. DE LA
FUENTE, respondents. 1. Appellant de la Fuente, Jr. be retained or considering as never having
relinquished his position of Chief of Clinics (now Chief of Medical Professional
Staff) without loss of seniority rights; and
Gregorio San Agustin for private respondent.
2. He be paid back salaries, transportation, representation and housing
allowances and such other benefits withheld from him from the date of his illegal
demotion/transfer.
NARVASA, C.J.:
No motion for reconsideration of this Resolution was ever submitted nor appeal therefrom essayed
Whether or not the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction, in a special civil action of mandamus against to the Supreme Court, within the thirty-day period prescribed therefor by the
a public officer, to take cognizance of the matter of damages sought to be recovered from the Constitution. 3 Consequently, the resolution became final, on September 21, 1988.
defendant officer, is the chief issue raised in the certiorari action at bar. Also put the issue is
whether or not the Solicitor General may represent the defendant public officer in
De la Fuente thereupon sent two (2) letters to Dr. Vital-Gozon, the Medical Center Chief of
the mandamus suit, in so far as the claim for damages is concerned, in light of the Court's rulings
National Children's Hospital, 4 demanding the implementation of the Commission's decision. Dr.
in Urbano , et al. v. Chavez, et al., and Co v. Regional Trial Court of Pasig, et al. 1
Vital-Gozon referred "de la Fuente's claims to the Department of Health Assistant Secretary for
Legal Affairs for appropriate advice and/or action . . (She did this allegedly because, according to
There is no dispute about the facts from which these issues arise. the Solicitor General, she was) unaware when and how a CSC Resolution becomes final and
executory, whether such Resolution had in fact become final and executory and whether the DOH
In the early months of 1987 — and pursuant to Executive Order No. 119 issued on January 30, Legal Department would officially assail the mentioned Resolution." 5 But she did not answer Dr.
1987 by President Corazon Aquino — reorganization of the various offices of the Ministry of de la Fuente's letters, not even to inform him of the referral thereof to the Assistant Secretary. She
Health commenced; existing offices were abolished, transfers of personnel effected. chose simply to await "legal guidance from the DOH Legal Department." On the other hand, no
one in the DOH Legal Department bothered to reply to Dr. de la Fuente, or to take steps to comply
At the time of the reorganization, Dr. Alejandro S. de la Fuente was the Chief of the Clinics of the or otherwise advise compliance, with the final and executory Resolution of the Civil Service
National Children's Hospital, having been appointed to that position on December 20, 1978. Prior Commission. In fact, de la Fuente claims that Vital-Gozon had "actually threatened to stop paying .
thereto, he occupied the post of Medical Specialist II, a position to which he was promoted in 1977 . . (his) salary and allowances on the pretext that he has as yet no 'approved' appointment even as
after serving as Medical Specialist I of the same hospital for six (6) years (since 1971). 'Medical Specialist II' . . . 6

On February 4, 1988 Dr. de la Fuente received notice from the Department of Health that he Three months having elapsed without any word from Vital-Gozon or anyone in her behalf, or any
would be re-appointed "Medical Specialist II." Considering this is to be a demotion by no less than indication whatever that the CSC Resolution of August 9, 1988 would be obeyed, and
two ranks from his post as Chief of Clinics, Dr. de la Fuente filed a protest with the DOH apprehensive that the funds to cover the salaries and allowances otherwise due him would revert
Reorganization Board. When his protest was ignored, he brought his case to the Civil Service to the General Fund, Dr. de al Fuente repaired to the Civil Service Commission and asked it to
Commission where it was docketed as CSC Case No. 4. In the meantime "the duties and enforce its judgment. He was however "told to file in court a petition
responsibilities pertaining to the position of Chief of Clinics were turned over to and were allowed
for mandamus because of the belief that the Commission had no coercive powers — unlike a (a) Declaring that principal respondent Dr. Jose D. Merencilla, Jr. is not legally
court — to enforce its final decisions/resolutions. 7 entitled to the office of "Chief of Clinics" (now retitled/known as "Chief of Medical
Professional Staff," NCH), ousting him therefrom and ordering said respondent to
So he instituted in the Court of Appeals on December 28, 1988 an action of "mandamus and immediately cease and desist from further performing as "OIC Professional
damages with preliminary injunction" to compel Vital-Gozon, and the Administrative Officer, Service" any and all duties and responsibilities of the said office; (and)
Budget Officer and Cashier of the NCH to comply with the final and executory resolution of the
Civil Service Commission. He prayed for the following specific reliefs: (b) Declaring that the petitioner, Dr. Alejandro S. de la Fuente, Jr., is the lawful
or de jure Chief of Clinics (now known as "Chief of the Medical Professional
(1) (That) . . a temporary restraining order be issued immediately, ordering the Staff") and placing him in the possession of said office/position, without the need
principal and other respondents to revert the funds the of the NCH corresponding of reappointment or new appointment as held by the Civil Service Commission in
to the amounts necessary to implement the final resolution of the CSC in CSC its resolution of August 9, 1988, in CSC Case No. 4.
Case No. 4 in favor of herein petitioner, Dr. Alejandro S. de la Fuente, Jr., and to
pay such sums which have accrued and due and payable as of the date of said xxx xxx xxx
order;
Copy of the "Supplemental/Amended Petition" was sent to Atty. Jose A. Fabia, Counsel for
(2) After hearing on the prayer for preliminary injunction, that the restraining order Respondents c/o Dr. Ma. Isabelita Vital-Gozon, etc., National Children's Hospital, E. Rodriguez
be converted to a writ of preliminary injunction; and that a writ of preliminary Ave., Quezon City (Atty. Fabia's address not being indicated or mentioned in his motion for
mandatory injunction be issued ordering principal respondent and the other Extension of
respondents to implement in full the said final resolution; and Time). 10

(3) That, after hearing on the merits of the petition, that judgment be rendered Again the Court of Appeals required answer of the respondents. Again, none was filed. The
seeking (sic) permanent writs issued and that principal respondent be ordered petitions were consequently "resolved on the basis of their allegations and the annexes." The
and commanded to comply with and implement the said final resolution without Appellate Court promulgated its judgment on June 9, 1989. 11 It held that —
further delay; and, furthermore, that the principal respondent be ordered to pay to
the sums of P100,000.00 and P20,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages, The question of whether petitioner may be divested of his position as Chief of
and P10,000.00 for litigation expenses and attorney's fees. Clinics by the expedient of having him appointed to another, lower position is no
longer an issue. It ceased to be such when the resolution in CSC Case No. 4
xxx xxx xxx became final. The said resolution is explicit in its mandate; petitioner was
declared the lawful and de jure Chief of Clinics (Chief of the Medical Professional
The Court of Appeals required the respondents to answer. It also issued a temporary restraining Staff) of the National Children's Hospital, and by this token, respondent Dr. Jose
order as prayed for, and required the respondent to show cause why it should not be converted to D. Merencilla, Jr. is not legally entitled to the office. Respondents, particularly Dr.
a writ of preliminary injunction. The record shows that the respondents prayed for and were Isabelita Vital-Gozon, had no discretion or choice on the matter; the resolution
granted an extension of fifteen (15) days to file their answer "through counsel, who," as the Court had to be complied with. It was ill-advised of principal respondent, and violative
of Appeals was later to point out, 8 "did not bother to indicate his address, thus notice was sent to of the rule of law, that the resolution has not been obeyed or implemented.
him through the individual respondents. . . . (However, no) answer was filed; neither was there any
show cause (sic) against a writ of preliminary injunction." It was a certain Atty. Jose Fabia who and accordingly ordered —
appeared in Vital-Gozon's behalf. 9
. . . respondents, particularly Dr. Isabelita Vital-Gozon, . . . to forthwith comply
About a month afterwards, de la Fuente filed with the same Court a "Supplemental/Amended with, obey and implement the resolution CSC Case No. 4 (and) . . . Dr. Jose D.
Petition" dated February 2, 1989. The second petition described as one for "quo warranto" aside Merencilla, Jr., who is not entitled to the office, . . . to immediately cease and
from "mandamus", added three respondents including Dr. Jose Merencilla, Jr.; and alleged inter desist from further performing and acting as OIC Professional Service.
alia that he (de la Fuente) had "clear title" to the position in question in virtue of the final and
executory judgment of the Civil Service Commission; that even after the Commission's judgment But de la Fuente's prayer for damages — founded essentially on the refusal of Gozon, et al. to
had become final and executory and been communicated to Vital-Gozon, the latter allowed "Dr. obey the final and executory judgment of the Civil Service Commission, which thus compelled him
Merencilla, Jr. as 'OIC Professional Service' to further usurp, intrude into and unlawfully hold and to litigate anew in a different forum — was denied by the Court of Appeals on the ground that the
exercise the public office/position of petitioner, (under a duly approved permanent appointment as "petitions (for mandamus) are not the vehicle nor is the Court the forum for . . . (said) claim of
'Chief of Clinics' since 1978). De la Fuente thus prayed, additionally, for judgment: damages."
Gozon acknowledged in writing that she received a copy of the Appellate Tribunal's Decision of good faith; and they were perfectly willing to comply with the judgment, undertaking to do so "even
June 9, 1989 on June 15, 1989. 12 Respondent de la Fuente acknowledged receipt of his own in the afternoon" of that same day. The Court consequently ordered them "to comply with their
copy on June 15, 1989. 13 Neither Vital-Gozon nor her co-party, Dr. Merencilla, Jr., moved for undertaking . . . without any further delay," and report the action taken towards this end, within five
reconsideration of, or attempted to appeal the decision. (5) days.

It was de la Fuente who sought reconsideration of the judgment, by motion filed through new On August 9, 1989, Gozon as "Medical Center Chief," sent a letter to Associate Justice Pedro A.
counsel, Atty. Ceferino Gaddi. 14 He insisted that the Appellate Court had competence to award Ramirez, advising that under Hospital Special Order No. 31 dated August 3, 1989, de la Fuente
damages in a mandamus action. He argued that while such a claim for damages might not have had been directed to assume the position of Chief of the Medical Professional Staff, and that a
been proper in a mandamus proceeding in the Appellate Court "before the enactment of B.P. Blg. voucher for the payment of his allowances had been prepared and was being processed. 21
129 because the Court of Appeals had authority to issue such writs only 'in aid of its appellate
jurisdiction,'" the situation was changed by said BP 129 in virtue of which three levels of courts — More than a month later, or more precisely on September 27, 1989, the Court of Appeals
the Supreme Court, the Regional Trial Court, and the Court of Appeals — were conferred promulgated another Resolution, this time resolving de la Fuente's motion for reconsideration of
concurrent original jurisdiction to issue said writs, and the Court of Appeals was given power to June 29, 1989. 22 It modified the Decision of June 9, 1989 by (a) deleting its last paragraph
conduct hearings and receive evidence to resolve factual issues. To require him to separately (disallowing the claim of damages, supra), (b) consequently describing and treating it as a
litigate the matter of damages he continued, would lead to that multiplicity of suits which is "PARTIAL DECISION," and (c) scheduling "further proceedings for the purpose of receiving
abhorred by the law. evidence (of damages)," since said question "cannot be resolved by mere reference to the
pleadings." 23This was done in reliance on Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, invoked by de
While his motion for reconsideration was pending, de la Fuente sought to enforce the judgment of la Fuente, which reads as follows:24
the Court of Appeals of June 9, 1989 — directing his reinstatement pursuant to the Civil Service
Commission's Resolution of August 9, 1988, supra. He filed on July 4, 1989 a "Motion for Sec. 3. Mandamus. — When any tribunal, corporation, board, or person
Execution," alleging that the judgment of June 9, 1989 had become final and executory for failure unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins
of Gozon, et al. — served with notice thereof on June 16, 1989 to move for its reconsideration or as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another
elevate the same to the Supreme Court. 15 His motion was granted by the Court of Appeals in a from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled,
Resolution dated July 7, 1989, 16 reading as follows: and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course
of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper
The decision of June 9, 1989 having become final and executory, as prayed for, court alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered
let the writ of execution issue forthwith. commanding the defendant, immediately or at some other specified time, to do
the act required to be done to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the
The corresponding writ of execution issued on July 13, 1989, 17 on the invoked authority of Section damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the
9, Rule 39. 18The writ quoted the dispositive portion of the judgment of June 9, 1989, including, as defendant.
the Solicitor General's Office points out, the second paragraph to the effect that the petitions "are
not the vehicle nor is the Court the forum for the claim of damages; (hence,) the prayer therefor is At about this time, yet another lawyer, Atty. Pedro F. Martinez entered his appearance for Isabelita
denied." Gozon. 25 At his instance, the Court gave him an "opportunity to . . . file a motion for
reconsideration" of the Resolution of September 27, 1989. 26 That motion he filed by registered
The writ of execution notwithstanding, compliance with the June 9, 1989 judgment was not mail on November 10, 1989. 27 His basic contentions were (a) that the decision of June 9, 1989
effected. Consequently, de la Fuente filed, on July 20, 1989, an "Urgent Ex Parte Manifestation could no longer be altered, having become final and executory and having in fact been executed,
with Prayer to Cite Respondents for Contempt," complaining that although Gozon and her co- and (b) that under BP 129, the Appellate Court had no jurisdiction over the question of damages in
parties had been served with the writ of execution on July 14, they had not complied therewith. By a mandamus action.
Resolution dated July 26, 1989, the Court required Gozon and Merencilla to appear before it on
August 3, 1989 to answer the charge and show cause "why they should not be adjudged in The Office of the Solicitor General also put in an appearance in Gozon's behalf at this juncture,
contempt for disobeying and/or resisting the judgment." 19 saying that the case had been referred to it only on November 14, 1989. It, too, sought
reconsideration of the Resolution of September 27, 1989. It filed on November 16, 1989 an
At the hearing Gozon and Merencilla duly presented themselves, accompanied by their individual "Omnibus Motion; I. For Reconsideration of Resolution dated September 27, 1989; and II. To
private lawyers — one for Gozon (Felipe Hidalgo, Jr.), two for Merencilla (Bernardo S. Nera and defer hearing on petitioner's claims for damages." 28
Moises S. Rimando). One other lawyer appeared in their behalf, from the Health Department,
Artemio Manalo, who stated that he was there "in behalf of Jose A. Fabia." 20 They explained that Both motions were denied by the Court of Appeals in a Resolution dated January 11, 1991. In that
they had no intention to defy the Court, they had simply referred the matter to their superiors in Resolution, the Court —
1) declared that the amended decision had already become final and could no 1) the proceedings commenced by de la Fuente in the Civil Service Commission in protest against
longer be re-opened because, although "a copy of the amendatory resolution his demotion;
was received by counsel who was representing Gozon on October 3, 1989," the
first motion for reconsideration was not mailed until November 10, 1989 and the 2) the Commission's Resolution of August 9, 1988 as well, particularly, as the direction therein that
Solicitor General's "Omnibus Motion" was not filed until November 16, 1989; and de la Fuente be reinstated and paid all his back salaries and other monetary benefits otherwise
due him, this being couched in fairly simple language obviously understandable to persons of
2) prohibited the Solicitor General from representing Gozon "in connection with . . ordinary or normal intelligence;
. (de la Fuente's) claim for damages," on the authority of this Court's ruling
promulgated on March 19, 1990 in G.R. No. 87977 (Urbano, et al. v. Chavez, et 3) no less than two (2) written demands of de la Fuente for implementation of the CSC's aforesaid
al.) and G.R. No. 88578 (Co v. Regional Trial Court of Pasig). 29 Resolution of August 9, 1988;

Notice of this Resolution of January 11, 1991 was served on the Solicitor General's Office on 4) the petition filed by de la Fuente in the Court of Appeals for enforcement of the CSC Resolution
January 18, 1991. 30Again the Solicitor General sought reconsideration, by motion dated January of August 9, 1988;
25, 1991 and filed on January 30, 1991. 31 Again it was rebuffed. In a Resolution rendered on
August 7, 1991, 32 served on the Solicitor General's Office on August 20, 1991, 33 the Court of
5) the extension granted by said Court of Appeals within which to file answer, notice thereof
Appeals denied the motion. It ruled that the "question of the authority of the Solicitor General to
having been sent directly to her and her co-respondents since the attorney who sought the
appear as counsel for respondent Gozon . . . (had already) been extensively discussed," and that
extension in their behalf (Atty. Fabia) did not set out his address in his motion for extension;
its "jurisdiction . . . to hear and determine issues on damages proceeds from Sec. 9, Batas
Pambansa 129 as amended."
6) the "supplemental/amended petition" subsequently presented by de la Fuente, copy of which
was sent to Atty. Fabia, c/o Dr. Vital-Gozon; and
In an attempt to nullify the adverse dispositions of the Court of
Appeals — and obtain "the ultimate and corollary relief of dismissing respondent de la Fuente's
claim for damages" — the Solicitor General's Office had instituted the special civil action 7) the Decision and Amendatory Decision sent to her counsel on October 3, 1989.
of certiorari at bar. It contends that the Court of Appeals is not legally competent to take
cognizance of and decide the question of damages in a mandamus suit. It argues that — To all these, her reaction, and that of the officials of the Department of Health concerned, was a
regrettably cavalier one, to say the least. Neither she nor the Health officials concerned accorded
1) B.P. Blg. 129 does not confer jurisdiction upon the Court of Appeals to hear, as a trial court, said acts and events any importance. She never bothered to find out what was being done to
claims for moral and exemplary damages; contest or negate de la Fuente's petitions and actions, notwithstanding that as time went by, de la
Fuente's efforts were being met with success.
2) assuming that the Court of Appeals does have jurisdiction over the claims for damages, it lost
the power to take cognizance thereof after the Decision of June 9, 1989 had, by its own Nothing in the record even remotely suggests that Vital-Gozon merits relief from the final and
pronouncement, become final and executory; and executory Resolution of the Civil Service Commission. This Court will not disturb that Resolution. It
is satisfied that no procedural or substantive errors taint that Resolution, or its becoming final and
executory.
3) the Urbano and Co doctrines cited by the Appellate Tribunal do not disqualify the Solicitor
General's Office from representing government officials sued in their official capacities and in
damage claims not arising from a felony. II

It is in light of these facts, just narrated, that this Court will now proceed to deal with the legal Now, final and executory judgments are enforced by writ of execution and not by another,
issues raised in this action. But first, a few brief observations respecting the proceedings in the separate action, whether of mandamus or otherwise. Hence, execution of the Civil Service
Civil Service Commission. Commission's decision of August 9, 1988 should have been ordered and effected by the
Commission itself, when de la Fuente filed a motion therefor. It declined to do so, however, on the
I alleged ground, as de la Fuente claims he was told, that it "had no coercive powers — unlike a
court — to enforce its final decisions/resolutions." 35 That proposition, communicated to de la
Fuente, of the Commission's supposed lack of coercive power to enforce its final judgments, is
The record demonstrates that Vital-Gozon was fully aware of the following acts and events: 34 incorrect. It is inconsistent with previous acts of the Commission of actually directing execution of
its decisions and resolutions, which this Court has sanctioned in several cases; 36 and it is not in
truth a correct assessment of its powers under the Constitution and the relevant laws.
In an En Banc Decision promulgated on October 15, 1991 in G.R. No. 96938 entitled "Government . . . Original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas
Service Insurance System (GSIS) versus Civil Service Commission, et al.," 37 this Court declared corpus, and quo warranto, and auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in aid
that in light of the pertinent provisions of the Constitution and relevant statutes — of its appellate jurisdiction . . . 38

. . . it would appear absurd to deny to the Civil Service Commission the power or The Solicitor General's Office evidently searched said Section 9 for an explicit and specific
authority to enforce or order execution of its decisions, resolutions or orders statement regarding "actions for moral and exemplary damages," and finding none, concluded that
which, it should be stressed, it has been exercising through the years. It would the Court of Appeals had not been granted competence to assume cognizance of claims for such
seem quite obvious that the authority to decide cases in inutile unless damages. The conclusion is incorrect. Section 19, governing the exclusive original jurisdiction of
accompanied by the authority to see that what has been decided is carried out. Regional Trial Courts in civil cases, contains no reference whatever to claims "for moral and
Hence, the grant to a tribunal or agency of adjudicatory power, or the authority to exemplary damages," and indeed does not use the word "damages" at all; yet it is indisputable
hear and adjudge cases, should normally and logically be deemed to include the that said courts have power to try and decide claims for moral, exemplary and other classes of
grant of authority to enforce or execute the judgments it thus renders, unless the damages accompanying any of the types or kinds of cases falling within their specified jurisdiction.
law otherwise provides. The Solicitor General's theory that the rule in question is a mere procedural one allowing joinder of
an action of mandamus and another for damages, is untenable, for it implies that a claim for
In any event, the Commission's exercise of that power of execution has been damages arising from the omission or failure to do an act subject of a mandamus suit may be
sanctioned by this Court in several cases. litigated separately from the latter, the matter of damages not being inextricably linked to the
cause of action for mandamus, which is certainly not the case.
Be this as it may, the fact is that by reason of the Commission's mistaken refusal to execute its
final and executory Resolution of August 9, 1988, extended proceedings have taken place in the Now, at the time of the enactment of B.P. 129, the issuance of the extraordinary writs above
Court of Appeals and certain issues have been expressly raised in relation thereto, supra. Those mentioned was controlled by the Rules of Court of 1964, as they continue to date to be so
issues appear to the Court to be important enough to deserve serious treatment and resolution, controlled. More particularly, the principal writs of mandamus, prohibition and certiorari were (and
instead of simply being given short shrift by a terse ruling that the proceedings in the Court Service continue to be) governed by Rule 65; the writ of habeas corpus, by Rule 102; and the writ of quo
Commission actually had the power to execute its final and executory Resolution. warranto, by Rule 66. The so-called auxiliary writs were (and continue to be) also governed by the
same code — e.g., preliminary attachment, by Rule 57; preliminary injunction, by Rule 58,
receivership, by Rule 59; writ of seizure or delivery in a replevin suit, by Rule 60.
III
At that time, Section 3 of Rule 65 authorized (as it continues to authorize to date) rendition of
The first such issue is whether or not the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to take cognizance of
judgment in a mandamus action "commanding the defendant, immediately or at some other
the matter of damages in a special civil action of mandamus. The Solicitor General's Office argues
specified time, to do the act required to be done to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay
that since jurisdiction is conferred only by law, not by agreement of the parties, or acquiescence of
the damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the defendant." 39 The
the court, and since the law conferring jurisdiction on the Court of Appeals, Section 9 of B.P. Blg.
provision makes plain that the damages are an incident, or the result of, the defendant's wrongful
129, makes no reference to "actions for moral and exemplary damages, as those claimed by . . .
act in failing and refusing to do the act required to be done. It is noteworthy that the Rules of 1940
(de la Fuente)," it follows that the Court of Appeals has no competence to act on said claim of had an identical counterpart provision. 40
damages. And Section 3 of Rule 65, which authorizes the petitioner in a mandamus suit to pray for
judgment commanding the defendant inter alia "to pay the damages sustained by the petitioner by
reason of the wrongful acts of the defendant," is "nothing more than a procedural rule allowing Moreover, Section 4 of the same Rule 65 authorized, as it continues to authorize to date, the filing
joinder of causes of action, i.e., mandamus and damages," and such an award of damages is of the petition "in the Supreme Court, or, if it relates to the acts or omissions of an inferior court, or
allowable only in actions commenced in Regional Trial Courts but not in the Court of Appeals or of a corporation, board, officer or person, in a Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court)
this Court. having jurisdiction thereof," as well as "in the Court of Appeals (whether or not) 41 in aid of its
appellate jurisdiction."
The argument is specious. It cannot be sustained.
Worthy of note, too, is that Rule 66 of the Rules of Court similarly authorizes the recovery of
damages in a quo warranto action against a corporate officer — an action within the concurrent
The Solicitor General's Office correctly identifies Section 9, B.P. 129 as the legal provision jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals — as follows: 42
specifying the original and appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. The section pertinently
declares that the "Intermediate Appellate Court (now the Court of Appeals) shall exercise . .,"
among others: Sec. 14. Liability of officer neglecting to deliver property of corporation to
receiver. — An officer of such corporation who refuses or neglects, upon
demand, to deliver over to the receiver all money, property, books, deeds, notes,
bills, obligations, and papers of every description within his power or control, The last issue is whether or not the decision of the Court of Appeals of June 9, 1989 could still be
belonging to the corporation, or in any wise necessary for the settlement of its modified after it was pronounced final and executory and was in fact executed with respect to de
affairs, or the discharge of its debts and liabilities, may be punished for contempt la Fuente's reinstatement to his position and the payment of the salaries and allowances due him.
as having disobeyed a lawful order of the court, and shall be liable to the receiver
for the value of all money or other things so refused or neglected to be There would seem to be no question about the timeliness of de la Fuente's motion for
surrendered, together with all damages that may have been sustained by the reconsideration of the June 9, 1989 decision. As already narrated, notice of said decision was
stockholders and creditors of the corporation, or any of them, in consequence of served on him on the 15th of June, and his motion for reconsideration was presented on June 29,
such neglect or refusal. 1989, or fourteen (14) days after receiving a copy of the judgment, i.e., within the fifteen-day
period prescribed by Section 1, Rule 37 of the Rules of Court for filing a motion for new trial
An award of damages was and is also allowed in connection with the auxiliary writ of preliminary reconsideration.
attachment, preliminary injunction or receivership which the Court of Appeals has the power to
issue in common with the Supreme Court and the Regional Trial Courts, 43 payable by the sureties This being so, it would certainly have been entirely within the authority of the Court of
of the bond given in support of the writ, upon seasonable application and summary hearing. 44 Appeals, under normal circumstances, to rule on that motion for reconsideration and, in its
discretion, act favorably on it, as it did through its Resolution of September 27, 1991 — by
Since it cannot but be assumed that in formulating, and incorporating in BP 129, the provision amending the decision of June 9, 1989, declaring it a partial judgment, and setting a date for
governing the jurisdiction of the Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, the Batasang reception of evidence on the la Fuente's claim for damages.
Pambansa was fully cognizant of the relevant provisions of the Rules of Court just cited, as well as
the rule against multiplicity of actions, it follows that in conferring on the Court of Appeals original It would also appear that the motions for reconsideration of said Resolution of September 27,
jurisdiction over the special civil action of mandamus, among others, as well as over the issuance 1991 separately submitted in Gozon's behalf, by her own private attorney and by the Solicitor
of auxiliary writs or processes, the Batasang Pambansa clearly intended that said Court should General's Office, were filed way out of time. As also already pointed out, notice of that Resolution
exercise all the powers then possessed by it under the Rules of Court in relation to said action of September 27, 1991 was served on Gozon's counsel on October 3, 1989 and on Gozon herself
of mandamus and auxiliary writs, including the adjudication of damages to the petitioner in the on October 4, 1989; but the motion for reconsideration of Atty. Martinez (Gozon's private lawyer)
action in appropriate cases. was not filed until November 10, 1989, thirty-eight (38) days afterwards, and that of the Solicitor
General, until November 16, 1989, or forty-four (44) days later. What is worse is that, its motion for
IV reconsideration of November 16, 1989 having been denied by a Resolution dated January 11,
1991, notice of which it received on January 18, 1991, the Solicitor General's Office filed still
The next issue is whether or not the Solicitor General may properly represent a public official like another motion for reconsideration on January 30, 1991, ostensibly directed against that
Dr. Vital-Gozon, who is sued for damages for allegedly refusing to comply with a lawful and Resolution of January 11, 1991 but actually seeking the setting aside of the Resolution of
executory judgment of competent authority. The doctrine laid down in the Urbano and Co cases September 17, 1989. In effect it filed a second motion for reconsideration which, of course, is
already adverted to, 45 is quite clear: prohibited by law. 46

. . . (T)he Office of the Solicitor General is not authorized to represent a public However, disposition of the question simply and solely on the foregoing premises is precluded by
official at any stage of a criminal case. . . . the fact that prior to the promulgation by the Appellate Court of its Resolution of September 27,
1989. — granting de la Fuente's motion for reconsideration of June 29, 1989 — de la Fuente had
asked for and been granted by the Court of Appeals, authority to execute the decision of June 9,
This observation should apply as well to a public official who is haled to court on
1989 and had in fact succeeded in bringing about satisfaction thereof, in so far as concerned his
a civil suit for damages arising from a felony allegedly committed by him (Article
reinstatement to the position from which he had been illegally ousted and the payment to him his
100, Revised Penal Code). Any pecuniary liability he may be held to account for salaries and allowances.
on the occasion of such civil suit is for his own account. The State is not liable for
the same. A fortiori, the Office of the Solicitor General likewise has no authority to
represent him in such a civil suit for damages. It has therefore become essential to determine the effect of the execution of said decision of June
9, 1989 at de la Fuente's instance, on the power of the Court of Appeals to modify that judgment
as earlier prayed for by de la Fuente in such a way as to concede the latter's capacity to claim
It being quite evident that Dr. Vital-Gozon is not here charged with a crime, or civilly prosecuted for
damages in his mandamus action, and consequently authorize him to present evidence on the
damages arising from a crime, there is no legal obstacle to her being represented by the Office of matter.
the Solicitor General.
The general rule is that when a judgment has been satisfied, it passes beyond review, satisfaction
V
being the last act and end of the proceedings, and payment of satisfaction of the obligation
thereby established produces permanent and irrevocable discharge; 47 hence, a judgment debtor la Fuente's view, the filing of a mandamus action in the Court of Appeals; the initial refusal of the
who acquiesces in and voluntarily complies with the judgment, is estopped from taking an appeal latter Court to acknowledge his right to damages in connection with the mandamus suit; and
therefrom. 48 ultimately, the change of view by the Court of Appeals, on de la Fuente's motion, as regards its
competence to take cognizance of the matter of damages in relation to
On the other hand the question of whether or not a judgment creditor is estopped from appealing the mandamus proceeding.
or seeking modification of a judgment which has been executed at his instance, is one dependent
upon the nature of the judgment as being indivisible or not. This is the doctrine laid down by this Under these circumstances, there was no reason whatsoever to defer concession to de la Fuente
Court in a case decided as early as 1925, Verches v. Rios. 49 In that case this Court held that of the relief of reinstatement — to which he
although "there are cases holding the contrary view," where the judgment is indivisible, "the weight was indisputably already entitled — in the meantime that issues arising after finality of the Civil
of authority is to the effect that an acceptance of full satisfaction of the judgment annihilates the Service Commission's judgment were being ventilated and resolved — these issues being, to
right to further prosecute the appeal; . . . that a party who has recovered judgment on a claim repeat, whether or not the refusal by Gozon, et al. obey said judgment of the Commission could
which cannot be split up and made the basis of several causes of action, and afterwards coerced be justified, and whether or not, by reason of that refusal to obey, de la Fuente did in fact suffer
full satisfaction by writ of execution or authority of the court, cannot maintain an appeal from the compensable injury.
judgment against the objections of the judgment debtor;" and that even partial execution by
compulsory legal process at the instance of a party in whose favor a judgment appealed from was It was therefore correct for the Court of Appeals, albeit by implication, to treat its judgment as
rendered, places said party in estoppel to ask that the judgment be amended, either "by appeal or divisible, or capable of being enforced by parts, and to consider de la Fuente as not having been
answer to his adversary's appeal, or otherwise." 50 placed in estoppel to pursue his claim for damages by seeking and obtaining authority for a partial
execution of the judgment. De la Fuente not being in estoppel, it follows that his motion for
A converso, where the judgment is divisible, estoppel should not operate against the judgment reconsideration, timely filed, was not deemed abandoned or waived by the partial execution of the
creditor who causes implementation of a part of the decision by writ of execution. This is the clear judgment, and jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to amend the judgment was retained and not
import of Verches and the precedents therein invoked. It is an aspect of the principle above lost. It follows, too, that since no motion for reconsideration was filed against, or appeal attempted
mentioned that is fully consistent not only with the dissenting opinion that "(a)cceptance to be taken from, the Resolution of the Court of Appeals amending its original judgment, within the
of payment of . . . only the uncontroverted part of the claim . . . should not preclude the plaintiff time prescribed therefor by law, said amendatory resolution has long since become final and
from prosecuting his appeal, to determine whether he should not have been allowed more," 51 but immutable, particularly in so far as it holds itself competent to take cognizance of the matter of
also with logic and common sense. damages and authorizes the reception of evidence on de la Fuente's claim therefor.

In this case, the amended judgment of the Court of Appeals is clearly divisible, satisfaction of WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, and the challenged Resolutions of September 27, 1989,
which may be "split up." One part has reference to the enforcement of the final and executory January 11, 1991 and August 7, 1991 are AFFIRMED, without pronouncement as to costs.
judgment of the Civil Service Commission, that de la Fuente should be reinstated to the position of
Chief of Clinics (now Chief of Medical Professional Staff) without loss of seniority rights and that SO ORDERED.
he be paid his back salaries and all monetary benefits due him from the date of his illegal
demotion. This part is no longer issuable, and has not in truth been controverted by Gozon herself.
The other part has reference to the damages which de la Fuente contends he suffered as a result
of the unjustified refusal of Gozon and her co-parties to comply with the final and executory
judgment of the Civil Service Commission, and which the Appellate Tribunal has allowed him to
prove. Obviously, the second part cannot possibly affect the first. Whether de la Fuente succeeds
or fails in his bid to recover damages against Gozon, et al. because of their refusal to obey the
judgment of the Civil Service Commission, is a contingency that cannot affect the unalterable
enforceability of that judgment. Similarly, the enforcement of the Commission's judgment (already
accomplished by writ of execution of the Court of Appeals issued at de la Fuente's instance)
cannot influence in any manner the question whether or not there was culpable refusal on the part
of Gozon, et al. to comply with said judgment when first required so to do, and whether de la
Fuente did in fact suffer compensable injury thereby.

It bears stressing that the juridical situation in which de la Fuente finds himself is not of his making.
It is a consequence of circumstances not attributable to any fault on his part, i.e., the unwarranted
refusal or neglect of his superiors to obey the executory judgment of the Civil Service Commission;
the erroneous refusal of the Commission to execute its own decision which made necessary, in de
Republic of the Philippines Not satisfied with the said decision, private respondent appealed to the NLRC contending that the
SUPREME COURT labor arbiter erred (1) in not giving credence to the evidence submitted by him; (2) in holding that
Manila he worked as a "volunteer" and not as an employee of St. Martin Funeral Home from February 6,
1995 to January 23, 1996, or a period of about one year; and (3) in ruling that there was no
EN BANC employer-employee relationship between him and petitioner.4

On June 13, 1997, the NLRC rendered a resolution setting aside the questioned decision and
remanding the case to the labor arbiter for immediate appropriate proceedings.5 Petitioner then
filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the NLRC in its resolution dated August 18,
G.R. No. 130866 September 16, 1998
1997 for lack of merit,6 hence the present petition alleging that the NLRC committed grave abuse
of discretion.7
ST. MARTIN FUNERAL HOME, petitioner,
vs.
Before proceeding further into the merits of the case at bar, the Court feels that it is now exigent
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and BIENVENIDO ARICAYOS, respondents.
and opportune to reexamine the functional validity and systemic practicability of the mode of
judicial review it has long adopted and still follows with respect to decisions of the NLRC. The
increasing number of labor disputes that find their way to this Court and the legislative changes
introduced over the years into the provisions of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 442 (The Labor
Code of the Philippines and Batas Pambansa Blg. (B.P. No.) 129 (The Judiciary Reorganization
REGALADO, J.: Act of 1980) now stridently call for and warrant a reassessment of that procedural aspect.

The present petition for certiorari stemmed from a complaint for illegal dismissal filed by herein We prefatorily delve into the legal history of the NLRC. It was first established in the Department of
private respondent before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), Regional Arbitration Labor by P.D. No. 21 on October 14, 1972, and its decisions were expressly declared to be
Branch No. III, in San Fernando, Pampanga. Private respondent alleges that he started working appealable to the Secretary of Labor and, ultimately, to the President of the Philippines.
as Operations Manager of petitioner St. Martin Funeral Home on February 6, 1995. However,
there was no contract of employment executed between him and petitioner nor was his name On May 1, 1974, P.D. No. 442 enacted the Labor Code of the Philippines, the same to take effect
included in the semi-monthly payroll. On January 22, 1996, he was dismissed from his six months after its promulgation. 8 Created and regulated therein is the present NLRC which was
employment for allegedly misappropriating P38,000.00 which was intended for payment by attached to the Department of Labor and Employment for program and policy coordination
petitioner of its value added tax (VAT) to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). 1 only.9 Initially, Article 302 (now, Article 223) thereof also granted an aggrieved party the remedy of
appeal from the decision of the NLRC to the Secretary of Labor, but P.D. No. 1391 subsequently
Petitioner on the other hand claims that private respondent was not its employee but only the amended said provision and abolished such appeals. No appellate review has since then been
uncle of Amelita Malabed, the owner of petitioner St. Martin's Funeral Home. Sometime in 1995, provided for.
private respondent, who was formerly working as an overseas contract worker, asked for financial
assistance from the mother of Amelita. Since then, as an indication of gratitude, private Thus, to repeat, under the present state of the law, there is no provision for appeals from the
respondent voluntarily helped the mother of Amelita in overseeing the business. decision of the NLRC. 10 The present Section 223, as last amended by Section 12 of R.A. No.
6715, instead merely provides that the Commission shall decide all cases within twenty days from
In January 1996, the mother of Amelita passed away, so the latter then took over the management receipt of the answer of the appellee, and that such decision shall be final and executory after ten
of the business. She then discovered that there were arrears in the payment of taxes and other calendar days from receipt thereof by the parties.
government fees, although the records purported to show that the same were already paid.
Amelita then made some changes in the business operation and private respondent and his wife When the issue was raised in an early case on the argument that this Court has no jurisdiction to
were no longer allowed to participate in the management thereof. As a consequence, the latter review the decisions of the NLRC, and formerly of the Secretary of Labor, since there is no legal
filed a complaint charging that petitioner had illegally terminated his employment.2 provision for appellate review thereof, the Court nevertheless rejected that thesis. It held that there
is an underlying power of the courts to scrutinize the acts of such agencies on questions of law
Based on the position papers of the parties, the labor arbiter rendered a decision in favor of and jurisdiction even though no right of review is given by statute; that the purpose of judicial
petitioner on October 25, 1996 declaring that no employer-employee relationship existed between review is to keep the administrative agency within its jurisdiction and protect the substantial rights
the parties and, therefore, his office had no jurisdiction over the case. 3 of the parties; and that it is that part of the checks and balances which restricts the separation of
powers and forestalls arbitrary and unjust adjudications. 11
Pursuant to such ruling, and as sanctioned by subsequent decisions of this Court, the remedy of (2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over actions for annulment of judgments of
the aggrieved party is to timely file a motion for reconsideration as a precondition for any further or Regional Trial Courts; and
subsequent remedy, 12 and then seasonably avail of the special civil action of certiorari under Rule
65, 13 for which said Rule has now fixed the reglementary period of sixty days from notice of the (3) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final judgments, decisions, resolutions,
decision. Curiously, although the 10-day period for finality of the decision of the NLRC may orders or awards of Regional Trial Courts and quasi-judicial agencies,
already have lapsed as contemplated in Section 223 of the Labor Code, it has been held that this instrumentalities, boards or commissions, including the Securities and Exchange
Court may still take cognizance of the petition for certiorari on jurisdictional and due process Commission, the Social Security Commission, the Employees Compensation
considerations if filed within the reglementary period under Rule 65. 14 Commission and the Civil Service Commission, except those falling within the
appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in accordance with the Constitution,
Turning now to the matter of judicial review of NLRC decisions, B.P. No. 129 originally provided as the Labor Code of the Philippines under Presidential Decree No. 442, as
follows: amended, the provisions of this Act, and of subparagraph (1) of the third
paragraph and subparagraph (4) of the fourth paragraph of Section 17 of the
Sec. 9. Jurisdiction. — The Intermediate Appellate Court shall exercise: Judiciary Act of 1948.

(1) Original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas The Court of Appeals shall have the power to try cases and conduct hearings,
corpus, and quo warranto, and auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in aid receive evidence and perform any and all acts necessary to resolve factual
of its appellate jurisdiction; issues raised in cases falling within its original and appellate jurisdiction,
including the power to grant and conduct new trials or further proceedings. Trials
or hearings in the Court of Appeals must be continuous and must be completed
(2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over actions for annulment of judgments of within, three (3) months, unless extended by the Chief Justice.
Regional Trial Courts; and

It will readily be observed that, aside from the change in the name of the lower appellate
(3) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final judgments, decisions, resolutions, court, 16 the following amendments of the original provisions of Section 9 of B.P. No. 129 were
orders, or awards of Regional Trial Courts and quasi-judicial agencies, effected by R.A. No. 7902, viz.:
instrumentalities, boards, or commissions, except those falling within the
appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in accordance with the Constitution,
the provisions of this Act, and of subparagraph (1) of the third paragraph and 1. The last paragraph which excluded its application to the Labor Code of the Philippines and the
subparagraph (4) of the fourth paragraph of Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of Central Board of Assessment Appeals was deleted and replaced by a new paragraph granting the
1948. Court of Appeals limited powers to conduct trials and hearings in cases within its jurisdiction.

The Intermediate Appellate Court shall have the power to try cases and conduct 2. The reference to the Labor Code in that last paragraph was transposed to paragraph (3) of the
hearings, receive evidence and perform any and all acts necessary to resolve section, such that the original exclusionary clause therein now provides "except those falling within
factual issues raised in cases falling within its original and appellate jurisdiction, the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in accordance with the Constitution, the Labor
including the power to grant and conduct new trials or further proceedings. Code of the Philippines under Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, the provisions of this
Act, and of subparagraph (1) of the third paragraph and subparagraph (4) of the fourth paragraph
of Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948." (Emphasis supplied).
These provisions shall not apply to decisions and interlocutory orders issued
under the Labor Code of the Philippines and by the Central Board of Assessment
Appeals. 15 3. Contrarily, however, specifically added to and included among the quasi-judicial agencies over
which the Court of Appeals shall have exclusive appellate jurisdiction are the Securities and
Exchange Commission, the Social Security Commission, the Employees Compensation
Subsequently, and as it presently reads, this provision was amended by R.A. No. 7902 effective Commission and the Civil Service Commission.
March 18, 1995, to wit:
This, then, brings us to a somewhat perplexing impassè, both in point of purpose and terminology.
Sec. 9. Jurisdiction. — The Court of Appeals shall exercise:
As earlier explained, our mode of judicial review over decisions of the NLRC has for some time
now been understood to be by a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. This is,
(1) Original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas of course, a special original action limited to the resolution of jurisdictional issues, that is, lack or
corpus, and quo warranto, and auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in aid excess of jurisdiction and, in almost all cases that have been brought to us, grave abuse of
of its appellate jurisdiction; discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
It will, however, be noted that paragraph (3), Section 9 of B.P. No. 129 now grants coverage the "decisions and interlocutory orders issued under the Labor Code of
exclusive appellate jurisdiction to the Court of Appeals over all final adjudications of the Regional the Philippines and by the Central Board of Assessment Appeals.
Trial Courts and the quasi-judicial agencies generally or specifically referred to therein except,
among others, "those falling within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in accordance Among the highest number of cases that are brought up to the Supreme Court
with . . . the Labor Code of the Philippines under Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, . . . ." are labor cases. Hence, Senate Bill No. 1495 seeks to eliminate the exceptions
This would necessarily contradict what has been ruled and said all along that appeal does not lie enumerated in Section 9 and, additionally, extends the coverage of appellate
from decisions of the NLRC. 17 Yet, under such excepting clause literally construed, the appeal review of the Court of Appeals in the decision(s) of the Securities and Exchange
from the NLRC cannot be brought to the Court of Appeals, but to this Court by necessary Commission, the Social Security Commission, and the Employees Compensation
implication. Commission to reduce the number of cases elevated to the Supreme Court.
(Emphases and corrections ours)
The same exceptive clause further confuses the situation by declaring that the Court of Appeals
has no appellate jurisdiction over decisions falling within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme xxx xxx xxx
Court in accordance with the Constitution, the provisions of B.P. No. 129, and those specified
cases in Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948. These cases can, of course, be properly
Senate Bill No. 1495 authored by our distinguished Colleague from Laguna
excluded from the exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. However, because of
provides the ideal situation of drastically reducing the workload of the Supreme
the aforementioned amendment by transposition, also supposedly excluded are cases falling
Court without depriving the litigants of the privilege of review by an appellate
within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in accordance with the Labor Code. This is
tribunal.
illogical and impracticable, and Congress could not have intended that procedural gaffe, since
there are no cases in the Labor Code the decisions, resolutions, orders or awards wherein are
within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or of any other court for that matter. In closing, allow me to quote the observations of former Chief Justice Teehankee
in 1986 in the Annual Report of the Supreme Court:
A review of the legislative records on the antecedents of R.A. No. 7902 persuades us that there
may have been an oversight in the course of the deliberations on the said Act or an imprecision in . . . Amendatory legislation is suggested so as to relieve the
the terminology used therein. In fine, Congress did intend to provide for judicial review of the Supreme Court of the burden of reviewing these cases which
adjudications of the NLRC in labor cases by the Supreme Court, but there was an inaccuracy in present no important issues involved beyond the particular fact
the term used for the intended mode of review. This conclusion which we have reluctantly but and the parties involved, so that the Supreme Court may wholly
prudently arrived at has been drawn from the considerations extant in the records of Congress, devote its time to cases of public interest in the discharge of its
more particularly on Senate Bill No. 1495 and the Reference Committee Report on S. No. 1495/H. mandated task as the guardian of the Constitution and the
No. 10452. 18 guarantor of the people's basic rights and additional task
expressly vested on it now "to determine whether or not there
has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
In sponsoring Senate Bill No. 1495, Senator Raul S. Roco delivered his sponsorship
speech 19 from which we reproduce the following excerpts: jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
Government.

The Judiciary Reorganization Act, Mr. President, Batas Pambansa Blg. 129,
We used to have 500,000 cases pending all over the land, Mr. President. It has
reorganized the Court of Appeals and at the same time expanded its jurisdiction
been cut down to 300,000 cases some five years ago. I understand we are now
and powers. Among others, its appellate jurisdiction was expanded to cover not
back to 400,000 cases. Unless we distribute the work of the appellate courts, we
only final judgment of Regional Trial Courts, but also all final judgment(s),
shall continue to mount and add to the number of cases pending.
decisions, resolutions, orders or awards of quasi-judicial agencies,
instrumentalities, boards and commissions, except those falling within the
appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in accordance with the Constitution, In view of the foregoing, Mr. President, and by virtue of all the reasons we have
the provisions of BP Blg. 129 and of subparagraph 1 of the third paragraph and submitted, the Committee on Justice and Human Rights requests the support
subparagraph 4 of Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948. and collegial approval of our Chamber.

Mr. President, the purpose of the law is to ease the workload of the Supreme xxx xxx xxx
Court by the transfer of some of its burden of review of factual issues to the Court
of Appeals. However, whatever benefits that can be derived from the expansion Surprisingly, however, in a subsequent session, the following Committee Amendment was
of the appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals was cut short by the last introduced by the said sponsor and the following proceedings transpired: 20
paragraph of Section 9 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 which excludes from its
Senator Roco. On page 2, line 5, after the line "Supreme Court in accordance Incidentally, it was noted by the sponsor therein that some quarters were of the opinion that
with the Constitution," add the phrase "THE LABOR CODE OF THE recourse from the NLRC to the Court of Appeals as an initial step in the process of judicial review
PHILIPPINES UNDER P.D. 442, AS AMENDED." So that it becomes clear, Mr. would be circuitous and would prolong the proceedings. On the contrary, as he commendably and
President, that issues arising from the Labor Code will still be appealable to the realistically emphasized, that procedure would be advantageous to the aggrieved party on this
Supreme Court. reasoning:

The President. Is there any objection? (Silence) Hearing none, the amendment is On the other hand, Mr. President, to allow these cases to be appealed to the
approved. Court of Appeals would give litigants the advantage to have all the evidence on
record be reexamined and reweighed after which the findings of facts and
Senator Roco. On the same page, we move that lines 25 to 30 be deleted. This conclusions of said bodies are correspondingly affirmed, modified or reversed.
was also discussed with our Colleagues in the House of Representatives and as
we understand it, as approved in the House, this was also deleted, Mr. President. Under such guarantee, the Supreme Court can then apply strictly the axiom that
factual findings of the Court of Appeals are final and may not be reversed on
The President. Is there any objection? (Silence) Hearing none, the amendment is appeal to the Supreme Court. A perusal of the records will reveal appeals which
approved. are factual in nature and may, therefore, be dismissed outright by minute
resolutions. 24
Senator Roco. There are no further Committee amendments, Mr. President.
While we do not wish to intrude into the Congressional sphere on the matter of the wisdom of a
law, on this score we add the further observations that there is a growing number of labor cases
Senator Romulo. Mr. President, I move that we close the period of Committee
being elevated to this Court which, not being a trier of fact, has at times been constrained to
amendments.
remand the case to the NLRC for resolution of unclear or ambiguous factual findings; that the
Court of Appeals is procedurally equipped for that purpose, aside from the increased number of its
The President. Is there any objection? (Silence) Hearing none, the amendment is component divisions; and that there is undeniably an imperative need for expeditious action on
approved. (Emphasis supplied). labor cases as a major aspect of constitutional protection to labor.

xxx xxx xxx Therefore, all references in the amended Section 9 of B.P. No. 129 to supposed appeals from the
NLRC to the Supreme Court are interpreted and hereby declared to mean and refer to petitions
Thereafter, since there were no individual amendments, Senate Bill No. 1495 was passed on for certiorari under Rule 65. Consequently, all such petitions should hence forth be initially filed in
second reading and being a certified bill, its unanimous approval on third reading followed. 21 The the Court of Appeals in strict observance of the doctrine on the hierarchy of courts as the
Conference Committee Report on Senate Bill No. 1495 and House Bill No. 10452, having appropriate forum for the relief desired.
theretofore been approved by the House of Representatives, the same was likewise approved by
the Senate on February 20, 1995, 22 inclusive of the dubious formulation on appeals to the Apropos to this directive that resort to the higher courts should be made in accordance with their
Supreme Court earlier discussed. hierarchical order, this pronouncement in Santiago vs. Vasquez, et al. 25 should be taken into
account:
The Court is, therefore, of the considered opinion that ever since appeals from the NLRC to the
Supreme Court were eliminated, the legislative intendment was that the special civil action One final observation. We discern in the proceedings in this case a propensity on
of certiorari was and still is the proper vehicle for judicial review of decisions of the NLRC. The use the part of petitioner, and, for that matter, the same may be said of a number of
of the word "appeal" in relation thereto and in the instances we have noted could have been litigants who initiate recourses before us, to disregard the hierarchy of courts in
a lapsus plumae because appeals by certiorari and the original action for certiorari are both modes our judicial system by seeking relief directly from this Court despite the fact that
of judicial review addressed to the appellate courts. The important distinction between them, the same is available in the lower courts in the exercise of their original or
however, and with which the Court is particularly concerned here is that the special civil action concurrent jurisdiction, or is even mandated by law to be sought therein. This
of certiorari is within the concurrent original jurisdiction of this Court and the Court of practice must be stopped, not only because of the imposition upon the precious
Appeals; 23 whereas to indulge in the assumption that appeals by certiorari to the Supreme Court time of this Court but also because of the inevitable and resultant delay, intended
are allowed would not subserve, but would subvert, the intention of Congress as expressed in the or otherwise, in the adjudication of the case which often has to be remanded or
sponsorship speech on Senate Bill No. 1495. referred to the lower court as the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or
as better equipped to resolve the issues since this Court is not a trier of facts.
We, therefore, reiterate the judicial policy that this Court will not entertain direct
resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate
courts or where exceptional and compelling circumstances justify availment of a
remedy within and calling for the exercise of our primary jurisdiction.

WHEREFORE, under the foregoing premises, the instant petition for certiorari is hereby
REMANDED, and all pertinent records thereof ordered to be FORWARDED, to the Court of
Appeals for appropriate action and disposition consistent with the views and ruling herein set forth,
without pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION
Art. 89 of P.D. 1067 having been long repealed by BP 129, as amended, which
has effectively and explicitly removed the Regional Trial Courts appellate
NATIONAL WATER RESOURCES BOARD G.R. No. 186450 jurisdiction over the decisions, resolutions, order[s] or awards of quasi-judicial
(NWRB), agencies such as [petitioner] NWRB, and vested with the Court of Appeals, very
Petitioner, Present: clearly now, this Court has no jurisdiction over this instant petition.

PUNO, C.J., Its motion for reconsideration having been denied, respondent filed a petition for certiorari
CARPIO MORALES, at the Court of Appeals, which, by Decision of January 25, 2008, [5] annulled and set aside the
- versus - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, RTC April 15, 2005, holding that it is the RTC which has jurisdiction over appeals from petitioners
BERSAMIN, and decisions. Thus the appellate court discoursed.
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
In the analogous case of BF Northwest Homeowners Association,
A. L. ANG NETWORK, INC., Promulgated: Inc. vs. Intermediate Appellate Court[,] the Supreme Court . . . categorically
Respondent. April 8, 2010 pronounced the RTCs jurisdiction over appeals from the decisions of the NWRB
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x consistent with Article 89 of P.D. No. 1067 and ratiocinated in this wise:

x x x x.

DECISION The logical conclusion, therefore, is that jurisdiction over actions


for annulment of NWRC decisions lies with the Regional Trial Courts,
particularly, when we take note of the fact that the appellate jurisdiction
CARPIO MORALES, J.: of the Regional Trial Court over NWRC decisions covers such broad and
all embracing grounds as grave abuse of discretion, questions of law,
In issue is whether Regional Trial Courts have jurisdiction over appeals from decisions, and questions of fact and law (Art. 89, P.D. No. 1067). This conclusion is
resolutions or orders of the National Water Resources Board (petitioner). also in keeping with the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, which
vests Regional Trial Courts with original jurisdiction to issue writs of
A.L. Ang Network (respondent) filed on January 23, 2003 an application for a Certificate certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, etc. (Sec. 21 [1], B.P. Blg. 129)
of Public Convenience (CPC) with petitioner to operate and maintain a water service system in relating to acts or omissions of an inferior court (Sec. 4, Rule 65, Rules
Alijis, Bacolod City. of Court).

Bacolod City Water District (BACIWA) opposed respondents application on the ground x x x x.
that it is the only government agency authorized to operate a water service system within the Similarly, in Tanjay Water District vs. Pedro Gabaton, the Supreme
city.[1] Court conformably ruled, viz:

By Decision of August 20, 2003, petitioner granted respondents CPC Inasmuch as Civil Case No. 8144 involves the appropriation,
application. BACIWA moved to have the decision reconsidered, contending that its right to due utilization and control of water, We hold that the jurisdiction to hear and
process was violated when it was not allowed to present evidence in support of its opposition. [2] decide the dispute in the first instance, pertains to the Water Resources
Council as provided in PD No. 1067 which is the special law on the
Petitioner reconsidered its Decision and allowed BACIWA to present evidence,[3] drawing subject. The Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) has only
respondent to file a petition for certiorari with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bacolod City appellate jurisdiction over the case.
against petitioner and BACIWA. Petitioner moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that the proper
recourse of respondent was to the Court of Appeals, citing Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. Based on the foregoing jurisprudence, there is no doubt that [petitioner]
NWRB is mistaken in its assertion. As no repeal is expressly made, Article 89 of
The RTC, by Order of April 15, 2005,[4] dismissed respondents petition for lack of jurisdiction, P.D. No. 1067 is certainly meant to be an exception to the jurisdiction of the
holding that it is the Court of Appeals which has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final Court of Appeals over appeals or petitions for certiorari of the decisions of
judgments, decisions, resolutions, order[s] or awards of . . . quasi-judicial agencies, quasi-judicial bodies. This finds harmony with Paragraph 2, Section 4, Rule 65
instrumentalities, boards or commission[s] . . . except those within the appellate jurisdiction of the of the Rules of Court wherein it is stated that, If it involves the acts of a quasi-
Supreme Court . . . . Thus the RTC explained: judicial agency, unless otherwise provided by law or these rules, the petition shall
be filed in and cognizable only by the Court of Appeals. Evidently, not all petitions ART. 89. The decisions of the [NWRB] on water rights controversies may
for certiorari under Rule 65 involving the decisions of quasi-judicial agencies be appealed to the [RTC] of the province where the subject matter of the
must be filed with the Court of Appeals. The rule admits of some exceptions as controversy is situated within fifteen (15) days from the date the party appealing
plainly provided by the phrase unless otherwise provided by law or these receives a copy of the decision, on any of the following grounds: (1) grave abuse
rules and Article 89 of P.D. No. 1067 is verily an example of these of discretion; (2) question of law; and (3) questions of fact and law (emphasis
exceptions. (italics and emphasis partly in the original; underscoring supplied) and underscoring supplied),

Petitioners motion for reconsideration having been denied by the appellate court by is such an exception, is erroneous.
Resolution of February 9, 2009,[6] petitioner filed the present petition for review, contending that:
Article 89 of PD 1067 had long been rendered inoperative by the passage of BP
THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT HAS NO CERTIORARI JURISDICTION OVER 129. Aside from delineating the jurisdictions of the Court of Appeals and the RTCs, Section 47 of
THE [PETITIONER] SINCE SECTION 89, PD NO. 1067, REGARDING BP 129 repealed or modified:
APPEALS, HAS BEEN SUPERSEDED AND REPEALED BY [BATAS
PAMBANSA BILANG] 129 AND THE RULES OF COURT. FURTHERMORE, PD x x x. [t]he provisions of Republic Act No. 296, otherwise known as the
1067 ITSELF DOES NOT CONTEMPLATE THAT THE REGIONAL TRIAL Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, of Republic Act No. 5179, as amended, of
COURT SHOULD HAVE CERTIORARI JURISDICTION OVER THE the Rules of Court, and of all other statutes, letters of instructions and
[PETITIONER].[7] (underscoring supplied) general orders or parts thereof, inconsistent with the provisions of this
Act x x x. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Petitioner maintains that the RTC does not have jurisdiction over a petition
for certiorari and prohibition to annul or modify its acts or omissions as a quasi-judicial The general repealing clause under Section 47 predicates the intended repeal under the condition
agency. Citing Section 4 of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, petitioner contends that there is no law that a substantial conflict must be found in existing and prior acts.[13]
or rule which requires the filing of a petition for certiorari over its acts or omissions in any other
court or tribunal other than the Court of Appeals.[8] In enacting BP 129, the Batasang Pambansa was presumed to have knowledge of the
provision of Article 89 of P.D. No. 1067 and to have intended to change it. [14] The legislative intent
Petitioner goes on to fault the appellate court in holding that Batas Pambansa Bilang 129 to repeal Article 89 is clear and manifest given the scope and purpose of BP 129, one of which is
(BP 129) or the Judiciary Reorganization Act did not expressly repeal Article 89 of Presidential to provide a homogeneous procedure for the review of adjudications of quasi-judicial entities to the
Decree No. 1067 (PD 1067) otherwise known as the Water Code of the Philippines.[9] Court of Appeals.

More importantly, what Article 89 of PD 1067 conferred to the RTC was the power of
Respondent, on the other hand, maintains the correctness of the assailed decision of the review on appeal the decisions of petitioner. It appears that the appellate court gave significant
appellate court. consideration to the ground of grave abuse of discretion to thus hold that the RTC
has certiorari jurisdiction over petitioners decisions. A reading of said Article 89 shows, however,
The petition is impressed with merit. that it only made grave abuse of discretion as another ground to invoke in an ordinary appeal to
the RTC. Indeed, the provision was unique to the Water Code at the time of its application in 1976.
Section 9 (1) of BP 129 granted the Court of Appeals (then known as the Intermediate
Appellate Court) original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas The issuance of BP 129, specifically Section 9 (Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals, then
corpus and quo warranto, and auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in aid of its appellate known as Intermediate Appellate Court), and the subsequent formulation of the Rules, clarified
jurisdiction.[10] and delineated the appellate and certiorari jurisdictions of the Court of Appeals over adjudications
of quasi-judicial bodies. Grave abuse of discretion may be invoked before the appellate court as a
Since the appellate court has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over quasi-judicial agencies ground for an error of jurisdiction.
under Rule 43[11] of the Rules of Court, petitions for writs of certiorari, prohibition or mandamus
against the acts and omissions of quasi-judicial agencies, like petitioner, should be filed with It bears noting that, in the present case, respondent assailed petitioners order
it. This is what Rule 65 of the Rules imposes for procedural uniformity. The only exception to this via certiorari before the RTC, invoking grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
instruction is when the law or the Rules itself directs otherwise, as cited in Section 4, Rule jurisdiction as ground-basis thereof. In other words, it invoked such ground not for an error of
65.[12] The appellate courts construction that Article 89 of PD 1067, which reads: judgment.
While Section 9 (3) of BP 129[15] and Section 1 of Rule 43 of the Rules of Court[16] does
not list petitioner as among the quasi-judicial agencies whose final judgments, orders, resolutions
or awards are appealable to the appellate court, it is non sequitur to hold that the Court of Appeals
has no appellate jurisdiction over petitioners judgments, orders, resolutions or awards. It is settled
that the list of quasi-judicial agencies specifically mentioned in Rule 43 is not meant to be
exclusive.[17] The employment of the word among clearly instructs so.

BF Northwest Homeowners Association v. Intermediate Appellate Court,[18] a 1987 case


cited by the appellate court to support its ruling that RTCs have jurisdiction over judgments,
orders, resolutions or awards of petitioner, is no longer controlling in light of the definitive
instruction of Rule 43 of the Revised Rules of Court.

Tanjay Water District v. Gabaton[19] is not in point either as the issue raised therein was
which between the RTC and the then National Water Resources Council had jurisdiction over
disputes in the appropriation, utilization and control of water.

IN FINE, certiorari and appellate jurisdiction over adjudications of petitioner


properly belongs to the Court of Appeals.

WHEREFORE, the challenged Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals


are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The April 15, 2005 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod
City dismissing petitioners petition for lack of jurisdiction is UPHELD.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
On or about November 4, 1995, Marine Petrobulk delivered the bunker fuels amounting to
SECOND DIVISION US$103,544 inclusive of barging and demurrage charges to the Vessel at the port of Pioneer
Grain, Vancouver, Canada. The Chief Engineer Officer of the Vessel duly acknowledged and
received the delivery receipt. Marine Petrobulk issued an invoice to petitioner Crescent for the
CRESCENT PETROLEUM, LTD., G.R. No. 155014 Petitioner, US$101,400.00 worth of the bunker fuels. Petitioner Crescent issued a check for the same
Present: amount in favor of Marine Petrobulk, which check was duly encashed.
Puno, J.,
- versus - Chairman, Having paid Marine Petrobulk, petitioner Crescent issued a revised invoice dated
Austria-Martinez, November 21, 1995 to Portserv Limited, and/or the Master, and/or Owners, and/or Operators,
Callejo, Sr., and/or Charterers of M/V Lok Maheshwari in the amount of US$103,544.00 with instruction to
Tinga, and remit the amount on or before December 1, 1995. The period lapsed and several demands were
*
Chico-Nazario, JJ. made but no payment was received. Also, the checks issued to petitioner Crescent as security for
M/V LOK MAHESHWARI, the payment of the bunker fuels were dishonored for insufficiency of funds. As a consequence,
THE SHIPPING CORPORATION petitioner Crescent incurred additional expenses of US$8,572.61 for interest, tracking fees, and
OF INDIA, and PORTSERV LIMITED Promulgated: legal fees.
and/or TRANSMAR SHIPPING, INC., On May 2, 1996, while the Vessel was docked at the port of Cebu City, petitioner
Respondents. November 11, 2005 Crescent instituted before the RTC of Cebu City an action for a sum of money with prayer for
x--------------------------------------------------x temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary attachment against respondents Vessel and
SCI, Portserv and/or Transmar. The case was raffled to Branch 10 and docketed as Civil Case No.
DECISION CEB-18679.
On May 3, 1996, the trial court issued a writ of attachment against the Vessel with bond
PUNO, J.: at P2,710,000.00. Petitioner Crescent withdrew its prayer for a temporary restraining order and
posted the required bond.
This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 seeks the (a) reversal of the November 28,
2001 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CV-54920,[1] which dismissed for want of On May 18, 1996, summonses were served to respondents Vessel and SCI, and Portserv and/or
jurisdiction the instant case, and the September 3, 2002 Resolution of the same appellate Transmar through the Master of the Vessel. On May 28, 1996, respondents Vessel and SCI,
court,[2] which denied petitioners motion for reconsideration, and (b) reinstatement of the July 25, through Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation (Pioneer), filed an urgent ex-parte motion to
1996 Decision[3] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Civil Case No. CEB-18679, which held that approve Pioneers letter of undertaking, to consider it as counter-bond and to discharge the
respondents were solidarily liable to pay petitioner the sum prayed for in the complaint. attachment. On May 29, 1996, the trial court granted the motion; thus, the letter of undertaking
was approved as counter-bond to discharge the attachment.
The facts are as follows: Respondent M/V Lok Maheshwari (Vessel) is an oceangoing vessel of
Indian registry that is owned by respondent Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), a corporation For failing to file their respective answers and upon motion of petitioner Crescent, the trial court
organized and existing under the laws of India and principally owned by the Government of India. declared respondents Vessel and SCI, Portserv and/or Transmar in default. Petitioner Crescent
It was time-chartered by respondent SCI to Halla Merchant Marine Co. Ltd. (Halla), a South was allowed to present its evidence ex-parte.
Korean company. Halla, in turn, sub-chartered the Vessel through a time charter to Transmar On July 25, 1996, the trial court rendered its decision in favor of petitioner Crescent, thus:
Shipping, Inc. (Transmar). Transmar further sub-chartered the Vessel to Portserv Limited WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in
(Portserv). Both Transmar and Portserv are corporations organized and existing under the laws of favor of plaintiff [Crescent] and against the defendants [Vessel, SCI, Portserv
Canada. and/or Transmar].

On or about November 1, 1995, Portserv requested petitioner Crescent Petroleum, Ltd. Consequently, the latter are hereby ordered to pay plaintiff jointly and solidarily,
(Crescent), a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Canada that is engaged in the the following:
business of selling petroleum and oil products for the use and operation of oceangoing vessels, to
deliver marine fuel oils (bunker fuels) to the Vessel. Petitioner Crescent granted and confirmed the (a) the sum of US$103,544.00, representing the outstanding
request through an advice via facsimile dated November 2, 1995. As security for the payment of obligation;
the bunker fuels and related services, petitioner Crescent received two (2) checks in the amounts
of US$100,000.00 and US$200,000.00. Thus, petitioner Crescent contracted with its supplier, (b) interest of US$10,978.50 as of July 3, 1996, plus additional
Marine Petrobulk Limited (Marine Petrobulk), another Canadian corporation, for the physical interest at 18% per annum for the period thereafter, until the
delivery of the bunker fuels to the Vessel. principal account is fully paid;
(c) attorneys fees of P300,000.00; and 6. The law of the state of New York is inapplicable to the present
controversy as the same has not been properly pleaded and proved;
(d) P200,000.00 as litigation expenses.
7. Petitioner has legal capacity to sue before Philippine courts as it is
SO ORDERED. suing upon an isolated business transaction;

On August 19, 1996, respondents Vessel and SCI appealed to the Court of Appeals. 8. Respondents were duly served summons although service of
They attached copies of the charter parties between respondent SCI and Halla, between Halla summons upon respondents is not a jurisdictional requirement, the
and Transmar, and between Transmar and Portserv. They pointed out that Portserv was a time action being a suit quasi in rem;
charterer and that there is a clause in the time charters between respondent SCI and Halla, and
between Halla and Transmar, which states that the Charterers shall provide and pay for all the 9. The trial courts decision has factual and legal bases; and,
fuel except as otherwise agreed. They submitted a copy of Part II of the Bunker Fuel Agreement
between petitioner Crescent and Portserv containing a stipulation that New York law governs the 10. The respondents should be held jointly and solidarily liable.
construction, validity and performance of the contract. They likewise submitted certified copies of
the Commercial Instruments and Maritime Lien Act of the United States (U.S.), some U.S. cases,
and some Canadian cases to support their defense. In a nutshell, this case is for the satisfaction of unpaid supplies furnished by a foreign
supplier in a foreign port to a vessel of foreign registry that is owned, chartered and sub-chartered
On November 28, 2001, the Court of Appeals issued its assailed Decision, which by foreign entities.
reversed that of the trial court, viz:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated July 25, Under Batas Pambansa Bilang 129, as amended by Republic Act No. 7691, RTCs
1996, issued by the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 10, is hereby exercise exclusive original jurisdiction (i)n all actions in admiralty and maritime where the demand
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and a new one is entered DISMISSING the or claim exceeds two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000) or in Metro Manila, where such
instant case for want of jurisdiction. demand or claim exceeds four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000). Two (2) tests have been
used to determine whether a case involving a contract comes within the admiralty and maritime
jurisdiction of a court - the locational test and the subject matter test. The English rule follows
The appellate court denied petitioner Crescents motion for reconsideration explaining that the locational test wherein maritime and admiralty jurisdiction, with a few exceptions, is exercised
it dismissed the instant action primarily on the ground of forum non conveniensconsidering that only on contracts made upon the sea and to be executed thereon. This is totally rejected under the
the parties are foreign corporations which are not doing business in the Philippines. American rule where the criterion in determining whether a contract is maritime depends on the
nature and subject matter of the contract, having reference to maritime service and
Hence, this petition submitting the following issues for resolution, viz: transactions.[4] In International Harvester Company of the Philippines v. Aragon,[5] we adopted
1. Philippine courts have jurisdiction over a foreign vessel found the American rule and held that (w)hether or not a contract is maritime depends not on the place
inside Philippine waters for the enforcement of a maritime lien against where the contract is made and is to be executed, making the locality the test, but on the subject
said vessel and/or its owners and operators; matter of the contract, making the true criterion a maritime service or a maritime transaction.

2. The principle of forum non conveniens is inapplicable to the instant A contract for furnishing supplies like the one involved in this case is maritime and within
case; the jurisdiction of admiralty.[6] It may be invoked before our courts through an action in
rem or quasi in rem or an action in personam. Thus: [7]
3. The trial court acquired jurisdiction over the subject matter of the xxx
instant case, as well as over the res and over the persons of the
parties; Articles 579 and 584 [of the Code of Commerce] provide a method of
collecting or enforcing not only the liens created under Section 580 but also for
4. The enforcement of a maritime lien on the subject vessel is the collection of any kind of lien whatsoever.[8] In the Philippines, we have a
expressly granted by law. The Ship Mortgage Acts as well as the Code complete legislation, both substantive and adjective, under which to bring an
of Commerce provides for relief to petitioner for its unpaid claim; action in rem against a vessel for the purpose of enforcing liens. The
substantive law is found in Article 580 of the Code of Commerce. The
5. The arbitration clause in the contract was not rigid or inflexible but procedural law is to be found in Article 584 of the same Code. The result is,
expressly allowed petitioner to enforce its maritime lien in Philippine therefore, that in the Philippines any vessel even though it be a foreign vessel
courts provided the vessel was in the Philippines; found in any port of this Archipelago may be attached and sold under the
substantive law which defines the right, and the procedural law contained in the
Code of Commerce by which this right is to be enforced. [9] x x x. But where We find against petitioner Crescent.
neither the law nor the contract between the parties creates any lien or charge
upon the vessel, the only way in which it can be seized before judgment is by I.
pursuing the remedy relating to attachment under Rule 59 [now Rule 57] of the
Rules of Court.[10] P.D. No. 1521 or the Ship Mortgage Decree of 1978 was enacted to accelerate the
growth and development of the shipping industry and to extend the benefits accorded to overseas
shipping under Presidential Decree No. 214 to domestic shipping.[13] It is patterned closely from
But, is petitioner Crescent entitled to a maritime lien under our laws? Petitioner Crescent the U.S. Ship Mortgage Act of 1920 and the Liberian Maritime Law relating to preferred
bases its claim of a maritime lien on Sections 21, 22 and 23 of Presidential Decree No. mortgages.[14] Notably, Sections 21, 22 and 23 of P.D. No. 1521 or the Ship Mortgage Decree of
1521 (P.D. No. 1521), also known as the Ship Mortgage Decree of 1978, viz: 1978 are identical to Subsections P, Q, and R, respectively, of the U.S. Ship Mortgage Act of
Sec. 21. Maritime Lien for Necessaries; persons entitled to such lien. - 1920, which is part of the Federal Maritime Lien Act. Hence, U.S. jurisprudence finds relevance to
Any person furnishing repairs, supplies, towage, use of dry dock or maritime determining whether P.D. No. 1521 or the Ship Mortgage Decree of 1978 applies in the present
railway, or other necessaries, to any vessel, whether foreign or domestic, upon case.
the order of the owner of such vessel, or of a person authorized by the owner,
shall have a maritime lien on the vessel, which may be enforced by suit in rem, The various tests used in the U.S. to determine whether a maritime lien exists are the
and it shall be necessary to allege or prove that credit was given to the vessel. following:

Sec. 22. Persons Authorized to Procure Repairs, Supplies and One. In a suit to establish and enforce a maritime lien for supplies furnished to a vessel in
Necessaries. - The following persons shall be presumed to have authority from a foreign port, whether such lien exists, or whether the court has or will exercise jurisdiction,
the owner to procure repairs, supplies, towage, use of dry dock or marine depends on the law of the country where the supplies were furnished, which must be pleaded
railway, and other necessaries for the vessel: The managing owner, ships and proved.[15] This principle was laid down in the 1888 case of The Scotia,[16] reiterated in The
husband, master or any person to whom the management of the vessel at the Kaiser Wilhelm II[17] (1916), in The Woudrichem[18] (1921) and in The City of Atlanta[19] (1924).
port of supply is entrusted. No person tortuously or unlawfully in possession or
charge of a vessel shall have authority to bind the vessel. Two. The Lauritzen-Romero-Rhoditis trilogy of cases, which replaced such single-
factor methodologies as the law of the place of supply.[20]
Sec. 23. Notice to Person Furnishing Repairs, Supplies and
Necessaries. - The officers and agents of a vessel specified in Section 22 of this
In Lauritzen v. Larsen,[21] a Danish seaman, while temporarily in New York, joined the
Decree shall be taken to include such officers and agents when appointed by a
crew of a ship of Danish flag and registry that is owned by a Danish citizen. He signed the ships
charterer, by an owner pro hac vice, or by an agreed purchaser in possession of
articles providing that the rights of the crew members would be governed by Danish law and by
the vessel; but nothing in this Decree shall be construed to confer a lien when
the employers contract with the Danish Seamens Union, of which he was a member. While in
the furnisher knew, or by exercise of reasonable diligence could have
Havana and in the course of his employment, he was negligently injured. He sued the shipowner
ascertained, that because of the terms of a charter party, agreement for sale of
in a federal district court in New York for damages under the Jones Act. In holding that Danish law
the vessel, or for any other reason, the person ordering the repairs, supplies, or
and not the Jones Act was applicable, the Supreme Court adopted a multiple-contact test to
other necessaries was without authority to bind the vessel therefor.
determine, in the absence of a specific Congressional directive as to the statutes reach, which
jurisdictions law should be applied. The following factors were considered: (1) place of the
wrongful act; (2) law of the flag; (3) allegiance or domicile of the injured; (4) allegiance of
Petitioner Crescent submits that these provisions apply to both domestic and foreign the defendant shipowner; (5) place of contract; (6) inaccessibility of foreign forum; and (7)
vessels, as well as domestic and foreign suppliers of necessaries. It contends that the use of the law of the forum.
term any person in Section 21 implies that the law is not restricted to domestic suppliers but also
includes all persons who supply provisions and necessaries to a vessel, whether foreign or
Several years after Lauritzen, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Romero v.
domestic. It points out further that the law does not indicate that the supplies or necessaries must
International Terminal Operating Co.[22] again considered a foreign seamans personal injury
be furnished in the Philippines in order to give petitioner the right to seek enforcement of the lien
claim under both the Jones Act and the general maritime law. The Court held that the factors first
with a Philippine court.[11]
announced in the case of Lauritzen were applicable not only to personal injury claims arising
under the Jones Act but to all matters arising under maritime law in general.[23]
Respondents Vessel and SCI, on the other hand, maintain that Section 21 of the P.D. No.
1521 or the Ship Mortgage Decree of 1978 does not apply to a foreign supplier like petitioner
Hellenic Lines, Ltd. v. Rhoditis[24] was also a suit under the Jones Act by a Greek
Crescent as the provision refers only to a situation where the person furnishing the supplies is
seaman injured aboard a ship of Greek registry while in American waters. The ship was operated
situated inside the territory of the Philippines and not where the necessaries were furnished in a
by a Greek corporation which has its largest office in New York and another office in New Orleans
foreign jurisdiction like Canada.[12]
and whose stock is more than 95% owned by a U.S. domiciliary who is also a Greek citizen. The American port by an American supplier, the American Lien Statute will apply to protect that
ship was engaged in regularly scheduled runs between various ports of the U.S. and the Middle supplier regardless of the place where the contract was formed or the nationality of the vessel.
East, Pakistan, and India, with its entire income coming from either originating or terminating in the
U.S. The contract of employment provided that Greek law and a Greek collective bargaining The same principle was applied in the case of Swedish Telecom Radio v. M/V
agreement would apply between the employer and the seaman and that all claims arising out of Discovery I[29] where the American court refused to apply the Federal Maritime Lien Act to create
the employment contract were to be adjudicated by a Greek court. The U.S. Supreme Court a maritime lien for goods and services supplied by foreign companies in foreign ports. In this case,
observed that of the seven factors listed in the Lauritzen test, four were in favor of the a Swedish company supplied radio equipment in a Spanish port to refurbish a Panamanian vessel
shipowner and against jurisdiction. In arriving at the conclusion that the Jones Act applies, it damaged by fire. Some of the contract negotiations occurred in Spain and the agreement for
ruled that the application of the Lauritzen test is not a mechanical one. It stated thus: [t]he supplies between the parties indicated Swedish companys willingness to submit to Swedish law.
significance of one or more factors must be considered in light of the national interest served by The ship was later sold under a contract of purchase providing for the application of New York law
the assertion of Jones Act jurisdiction. (footnote omitted) Moreover, the list of seven factors in and was arrested in the U.S. The U.S. Court of Appeals also held that while the contacts-based
Lauritzen was not intended to be exhaustive. x x x [T]he shipowners base of operations is another framework set forth in Lauritzen was useful in the analysis of all maritime choice of law situations,
factor of importance in determining whether the Jones Act is applicable; and there well may be the factors were geared towards a seamans injury claim. As in Gulf Trading, the lien arose by
others. operation of law because the ships owner was not a party to the contract under which the goods
were supplied. As a result, the court found it more appropriate to consider the factors contained in
The principles enunciated in these maritime tort cases have been extended to cases Section 6 of the Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Law. The U.S. Court held that the primary
involving unpaid supplies and necessaries such as the concern of the Federal Maritime Lien Act is the protection of American suppliers of goods and
cases of Forsythe International U.K., Ltd. v. M/V Ruth Venture,[25] and Comoco Marine services.
Services v. M/V El Centroamericano.[26]
The same factors were applied in the case of Ocean Ship Supply, Ltd. v. M/V Leah.[30]
Three. The factors provided in Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Law have also
been applied, especially in resolving cases brought under the Federal Maritime Lien Act. Their II.
application suggests that in the absence of an effective choice of law by the parties, the forum
contacts to be considered include: (a) the place of contracting; (b) the place of negotiation of the Finding guidance from the foregoing decisions, the Court cannot sustain petitioner
contract; (c) the place of performance; (d) the location of the subject matter of the contract; and (e) Crescents insistence on the application of P.D. No. 1521 or the Ship Mortgage Decree of 1978
the domicile, residence, nationality, place of incorporation and place of business of the parties.[27] and hold that a maritime lien exists.

In Gulf Trading and Transportation Co. v. The Vessel Hoegh Shield,[28] an admiralty First. Out of the seven basic factors listed in the case of Lauritzen, Philippine law only
action in rem was brought by an American supplier against a vessel of Norwegian flag owned by a falls under one the law of the forum. All other elements are foreign Canada is the place of the
Norwegian Company and chartered by a London time charterer for unpaid fuel oil and marine wrongful act, of the allegiance or domicile of the injured and the place of contract; India is the law
diesel oil delivered while the vessel was in U.S. territory. The contract was executed in London. It of the flag and the allegiance of the defendant shipowner. Balancing these basic interests, it is
was held that because the bunker fuel was delivered to a foreign flag vessel within the jurisdiction inconceivable that the Philippine court has any interest in the case that outweighs the interests of
of the U.S., and because the invoice specified payment in the U.S., the admiralty and maritime law Canada or India for that matter.
of the U.S. applied. The U.S. Court of Appeals recognized the modern approach to maritime
conflict of law problems introduced in the Lauritzen case. However, it observed that Lauritzen Second. P.D. No. 1521 or the Ship Mortgage Decree of 1978 is inapplicable following the
involved a torts claim under the Jones Act while the present claim involves an alleged maritime factors under Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws. Like the Federal Maritime Lien Act of the
lien arising from unpaid supplies. It made a disclaimer that its conclusion is limited to the unique U.S., P.D. No. 1521 or the Ship Mortgage Decree of 1978 was enacted primarily to protect Filipino
circumstances surrounding a maritime lien as well as the statutory directives found in the Maritime suppliers and was not intended to create a lien from a contract for supplies between foreign
Lien Statute and that the initial choice of law determination is significantly affected by the entities delivered in a foreign port.
statutory policies surrounding a maritime lien. It ruled that the facts in the case call for the
application of the Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Law. The U.S. Court gave much Third. Applying P.D. No. 1521 or the Ship Mortgage Decree of 1978 and rule that a
significance to the congressional intent in enacting the Maritime Lien Statute to protect the maritime lien exists would not promote the public policy behind the enactment of the law to
interests of American supplier of goods, services or necessaries by making maritime liens develop the domestic shipping industry. Opening up our courts to foreign suppliers by granting
available where traditional services are routinely rendered. It concluded that the Maritime Lien them a maritime lien under our laws even if they are not entitled to a maritime lien under their laws
Statute represents a relevant policy of the forum that serves the needs of the international legal will encourage forum shopping.
system as well as the basic policies underlying maritime law. The court also gave equal
importance to the predictability of result and protection of justified expectations in a particular field
Finally. The submission of petitioner is not in keeping with the reasonable expectation of
of law. In the maritime realm, it is expected that when necessaries are furnished to a vessel in an
the parties to the contract. Indeed, when the parties entered into a contract for supplies in Canada,
they could not have intended the laws of a remote country like the Philippines to determine the Crescent.[35] Hence, the presumption does not arise and it is incumbent upon petitioner Crescent
creation of a lien by the mere accident of the Vessels being in Philippine territory. to prove that benefit was extended to the vessel. Petitioner did not.

III. Second. Petitioner Crescent did not show any proof that the marine products were
necessary for the continuation of the vessel.
But under which law should petitioner Crescent prove the existence of its maritime lien?
Third. It was not established that credit was extended to the vessel. It is presumed that
In light of the interests of the various foreign elements involved, it is clear that Canada has the in the absence of fraud or collusion, where advances are made to a captain in a foreign port, upon
most significant interest in this dispute. The injured party is a Canadian corporation, the sub- his request, to pay for necessary repairs or supplies to enable his vessel to prosecute her voyage,
charterer which placed the orders for the supplies is also Canadian, the entity which physically or to pay harbor dues, or for pilotage, towage and like services rendered to the vessel, that they
delivered the bunker fuels is in Canada, the place of contracting and negotiation is in Canada, and are made upon the credit of the vessel as well as upon that of her owners. [36] In this case, it was
the supplies were delivered in Canada. the sub-charterer Portserv which requested for the delivery of the bunker fuels. The issuance of
two checks amounting to US$300,000 in favor of petitioner Crescent prior to the delivery of the
The arbitration clause contained in the Bunker Fuel Agreement which states that New bunkers as security for the payment of the obligation weakens petitioner Crescents contention
York law governs the construction, validity and performance of the contract is only a factor that that credit was extended to the Vessel.
may be considered in the choice-of-law analysis but is not conclusive. As in the cases of Gulf
Trading and Swedish Telecom, the lien that is the subject matter of this case arose by operation We also note that when copies of the charter parties were submitted by respondents in
of law and not by contract because the shipowner was not a party to the contract under which the the Court of Appeals, the time charters between respondent SCI and Halla and between Halla
goods were supplied. and Transmar were shown to contain a clause which states that the Charterers shall provide and
pay for all the fuel except as otherwise agreed. This militates against petitioner Crescents position
It is worthy to note that petitioner Crescent never alleged and proved Canadian law as that Portserv is authorized by the shipowner to contract for supplies upon the credit of the vessel.
basis for the existence of a maritime lien. To the end, it insisted on its theory that Philippine law
applies. Petitioner contends that even if foreign law applies, since the same was not properly Fourth. There was no proof of necessity of credit. A necessity of credit will be presumed
pleaded and proved, such foreign law must be presumed to be the same as Philippine law where it appears that the repairs and supplies were necessary for the ship and that they were
pursuant to the doctrine of processual presumption. ordered by the master. This presumption does not arise in this case since the fuels were not
ordered by the master and there was no proof of necessity for the supplies.
Thus, we are left with two choices: (1) dismiss the case for petitioners failure to establish
a cause of action[31] or (2) presume that Canadian law is the same as Philippine law. In either Finally. The necessaries were not ordered by persons authorized to contract in behalf of
case, the case has to be dismissed. the vessel as provided under Section 22 of P.D. No. 1521 or the Ship Mortgage Decree of 1978 -
the managing owner, the ships husband, master or any person with whom the management of the
It is well-settled that a party whose cause of action or defense depends upon a foreign vessel at the port of supply is entrusted. Clearly, Portserv, a sub-charterer under a time charter, is
law has the burden of proving the foreign law. Such foreign law is treated as a question of fact to not someone to whom the management of the vessel has been entrusted. A time charter is a
be properly pleaded and proved.[32] Petitioner Crescents insistence on enforcing a maritime lien contract for the use of a vessel for a specified period of time or for the duration of one or more
before our courts depended on the existence of a maritime lien under the proper law. By specified voyages wherein the owner of the time-chartered vessel retains possession and control
erroneously claiming a maritime lien under Philippine law instead of proving that a maritime lien through the master and crew who remain his employees.[37] Not enjoying the presumption of
exists under Canadian law, petitioner Crescent failed to establish a cause of action. [33] authority, petitioner Crescent should have proved that Portserv was authorized by the shipowner
to contract for supplies. Petitioner failed.
Even if we apply the doctrine of processual presumption, the result will still be the same.
Under P.D. No. 1521 or the Ship Mortgage Decree of 1978, the following are the requisites for A discussion on the principle of forum non conveniens is unnecessary.
maritime liens on necessaries to exist: (1) the necessaries must have been furnished to and for
the benefit of the vessel; (2) the necessaries must have been necessary for the continuation of the IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. CV 54920,
voyage of the vessel; (3) the credit must have been extended to the vessel; (4) there must be dated November 28, 2001, and its subsequent Resolution of September 3, 2002 are AFFIRMED.
necessity for the extension of the credit; and (5) the necessaries must be ordered by persons The instant petition for review on certiorari is DENIED for lack of merit. Cost against petitioner.
authorized to contract on behalf of the vessel.[34] These do not avail in the instant case.
SO ORDERED.
First. It was not established that benefit was extended to the vessel. While this is
presumed when the master of the ship is the one who placed the order, it is not disputed that in
this case it was the sub-charterer Portserv which placed the orders to petitioner
SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 97805. September 2, 1992.] This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with restraining order and preliminary injunction to
annul and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals dated March 11, 1991 1 dismissing
NILO H. RAYMUNDO, Petitioner, v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, Sixteenth Division, Hon. petitioner’s petition for certiorari and prohibition which assailed the Orders 2 dated June 1, 1990 3
Judge, RTC, Br. 133, Makati, Metro Manila and GALLERIA DE MAGALLANES and June 29, 1990 4 of the trial court.chanrobles lawlibrary : rednad
ASSOCIATION, INC., Respondents.
It appears on record that on July 5, 1989, the administrator of the Galleria de Magallanes
The Barristers Law Office for Petitioner. Condominium discovered that petitioner Nilo Raymundo, who was an owner/occupant of Unit AB-
122 of said condominium, made an unauthorized installation of glasses at the balcony of his unit in
Leo M. Caubang for Respondents. violation of Article IV, Section 3 paragraph (d) of the Master Deed and Declaration of Restrictions
of the Association, which states that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

SYLLABUS "d. Nothing shall be done or placed in any unit or in the common areas which is beyond or will
impair the structural strength of the buildings or alter the original architecture, appearance and
specifications of the building, including the external facade thereof." 5
1. REMEDIAL LAW; REGIONAL TRIAL COURT; JURISDICTION IN CIVIL CASES NOT
CAPABLE OF PECUNIARY ESTIMATION. — Private respondent’s complaint is an action to Thereafter, the administrator of said condominium reported said violation to the Board of Directors
compel the petitioner to remove the illegal and unauthorized installation of glasses at Unit AB-122 of the private respondent Galleria de Magallanes Association, Inc. in a special meeting held on
of the condominium which is not capable of pecuniary estimation and falls under the exclusive July 8, 1989 and the former sent a letter dated July 12, 1989 6 to the petitioner demanding the
jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court Section 33 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 129 is not applicable latter to remove the illegal and unauthorized installation of glasses at his unit.
in the instant case, but paragraph (1), Section 19 and paragraph (1), Section 21.
Petitioner refused, consequently, private respondent filed a complaint for mandatory injunction
2. ID; ID.; ID.; CRITERION IN DETERMINING WHETHER AN ACTION IS ONE THE SUBJECT against petitioner on February 21, 1990 with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 133 in Civil
MATTER OF WHICH IS NOT CAPABLE OF PECUNIARY ESTIMATION. — A civil action in which Case No. 90-490.
the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation has invariably been held to be
within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts. "In determining whether an On March 12, 1990, petitioner filed a Motion for extension of time to file an Answer 7 as well as a
action is one the subject matter of which is not capable of pecuniary estimation this Court has Motion for production of document 8 which were granted in an Order dated March 16, 1990. 9
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 However, on March 23, 1990, instead of an Answer, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss with the
estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts [now municipal trial courts] or in the trial court on the ground that said court has no jurisdiction over the present case since a complaint
courts of first instance [now regional trial courts] would depend on the amount of the claim. for mandatory injunction is within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial
However, where the basic issue is something other than the right to recover a sum of money, or Court.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
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 The Motion to Dismiss was denied in the Order of June 1, 1990, the pertinent portion of which
estimated in terms of money, and are cognizable exclusively by courts of first instance [now reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
regional trial courts]."cralaw virtua1aw library
"This is a suit for mandatory injunction. Under Sec. 21 of BP 129, as amended, it is the Regional
3. ID.; PROVISIONAL REMEDIES; WRIT OF MANDATORY INJUNCTION; WHEN AVAILABLE. Trial Court which has the legal competence to issue the same. Corollarily, the second ground must
— A writ for mandatory injunction is a provisional remedy. It is provisional because it constitutes a be denied. The action is essentially one which falls within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial
temporary measure availed of during the pendency of the main action and it is ancillary because it Court.
is a mere incident in and is dependent upon the result of the main action.
"WHEREFORE, the Motion to Dismiss is hereby denied, for lack of merit." 10

DECISION Likewise, petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration was denied in the Order of June 29, 1990 which
We quote, to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

NOCON, J.: "As denominated in the complaint itself, this is a suit for mandatory injunction, and the nature of
the action as designated by the plaintiff is substantiated by the allegations of the complaint itself.
Such being the case, Sec. 21 of BP 129 governs. The claims for attorney’s fees is incidental to the recover a sum of money, or where the money claim is purely incidental to, or a consequence of,
nature of the complaint as one of mandatory injunction which is also attested by the prayer in the the principal relief sought, this Court has considered such actions as cases where the subject of
complaint "to remove the illegal and unauthorized installation of glasses at Unit AB-122 of the the litigation may not be estimated in terms of money, and are cognizable exclusively by courts of
Condominium within five (5) days from receipt of the order . . ." and, therefore, does not affect the first instance [now regional trial courts]." 12
legal competence of the Court to act on the complaint." 11
As correctly stated by the Court of Appeals, the question for resolution is whether or not the
On elevation to the appellate court in a petition for certiorari and prohibition with restraining order petitioner violated the provisions of the Master Deed and Declaration of Restriction of the
and preliminary injunction, the petition was again dismissed on March 11, corporation, and if so, to remove the illegal and unauthorized installation of glasses at Unit AB-122
1991.chanrobles.com.ph : virtual law library of the Condominium. Clearly, the issue is incapable of pecuniary estimation.

Hence, this petition alleging want of jurisdiction of the trial court to hear and decide private In the instant case. the claim of attorney’s fees by the private respondent in the amount of
respondent’s complaint for mandatory injunction considering that private respondent’s sole P10,000.00 is only incidental to its principal cause of action which is for the removal of the illegal
pecuniary claim of P10,000.00 as attorney’s fees in Civil Case No. 90-490 is within the original and unauthorized installation of the glasses made by the petitioner and therefore, said amount is
and exclusive jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Court as provided for under Section 33 of B.P. not determinative of the jurisdiction of the court.
129.
Note should be taken. however, that the trial court had erroneously considered the complaint as
We do not agree. one for mandatory injunction, misled perhaps by the caption of the
complaint.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red
The contention of the petitioner is devoid of merit because private respondent’s complaint is an
action to compel the petitioner to remove the illegal and unauthorized installation of glasses at Unit A writ for mandatory injunction is a provisional remedy. It is provisional because it constitutes a
AB-122 of the condominium which is not capable of pecuniary estimation and falls under the temporary measure availed of during the pendency of the main action and it is ancillary because it
exclusive jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court Section 33 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 129 is not is a mere incident in and is dependent upon the result of the main action. 13
applicable in the instant case, but paragraph (1), Section 19 and paragraph (1), Section 21 of said
law which provide:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition with restraining order and preliminary
injunction is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and the decision of the Court of Appeals
"Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. — Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original promulgated on March 11, 1991 is hereby AFFIRMED.
jurisdiction:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
SO ORDERED.
(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation;"

x x x

"Sec. 21. Original jurisdiction in other cases. — Regional Trial Courts shall exercise original
jurisdiction:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(1) In the issuance of writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and
injunction which may be enforced in any part of their respective regions;"

A civil action in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation has
invariably been held to be within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial
Courts.chanrobles law library

"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
[now municipal trial courts] or in the courts of first instance [now regional trial courts] would depend
on the amount of the claim. However, where the basic issue is something other than the right to
Republic of the Philippines On November 24, 1994, private respondents filed a Motion to Dismiss 2 the complaint on the
SUPREME COURT ground of lack of jurisdiction over the nature of the case as the total assessed value of the subject
Manila land is P5,000.00 which under section 33 (3) 3 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by R.A.
No. 7691, 4 falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Municipal Circuit Trial Curt of Liloan,
FIRST DIVISION Compostela. 5

Petitioners filed an Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss 6 saying that the Regional Trial Court has
jurisdiction over the case since the action is one which is incapable of pecuniary estimation within
the contemplation of Section 19(1) of B.P. 129, as amended. 7
G.R. No. 119347 March 17, 1999

On January 12, 1995, the respondent judge issued an Order granting the Motion to Dismiss. 8 A
EULALIA RUSSELL, PUPERTO TAUTHO, FRANCISCO TAUTHO, SUSANA T. REALES,
Motion for Reconsideration of said order was filed by petitioners on January 30, 1995 alleging that
APITACIO TAUTHO, DANILO TAUTHO, JUDITHA PROS, GREGORIO TAUTHO, DEODITA T.
the same is contrary to law because their action is not one for recovery of title to or possession of
JUDILLA, AGRIPINO TAUTHO, FELIX TAUTHO, WILLIAM TAUTHO, AND MARILYN
the land but an action to annul a document or declare it null and void, 9 hence, one incapable of
PERALES, petitioners,
pecuniary estimation falling within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court. Private respondents
vs. did not oppose the motion for reconsideration.
HONORABLE AUGUSTINE A. VESTlL, ADRIANO TAGALOG, MARCELO TAUTHO, JUANITA
MENDOZA, DOMINGO BANTILAN, RAUL BATALUNA AND ARTEMIO
CABATINGAN, respondent. On February 13, 1995, the respondent judge issued another Order denying the motion for
reconsideration. 10

Hence, this petition wherein the sole issue raised is whether or not the Regional Trial Court has
jurisdiction to entertain Civil Case No. MAN-2275.
KAPUNAN, J.:
We find merit in the petition.
Before us is a Petition for Certiorari to set aside the Order dated January 12, 1995 issued by
respondent Judge Augustine A. Vestil of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City, Branch 56,
dismissing the complaint filed by petitioners on ground of lack of jurisdiction, as well as his Order Petitioners maintain the view that the complaint filed before the Regional Trial Court is for the
dated February 13, 1995 denying petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration of the order of dismissal. annulment of a document denominated as "DECLARATION OF HEIRS AND DEED OF
CONFIRMATION OF PREVIOUS ORAL PARTITION," which is clearly one incapable of pecuniary
estimation, thus, cognizable by the Regional Trial Court.
The facts of the case are as follows:
Private respondents, on the other hand, insists that the action is one for re-partition and since the
On September 28, 1994, petitioners filed a complaint against private respondents, denominated assessed value of the property as stated in the complaint is P5,000.00, then, the case falls within
"DECLARATION OF NULLITY AND PARTITION," with the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City, the jurisdiction of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Liloan, Compostela, Cebu.
Branch 56, docketed as Civil Case No. MAN-2275. The complaint, in substance, alleged that
petitioners are co-owners of that parcel of land, Lot 6149 situated in Liloan, Cebu and containing
an area of 56,977.40 square meters, more or less. The land was previously owned by the spouses For better appreciation of the facts, the pertinent portions of the complaint are reproduced
Casimero Tautho and Cesaria Tautho. Upon the death of said spouses, the property was inherited hereunder:
by their legal heirs, herein petitioners and private respondents. Since then, the lot had remained
undivided until petitioners discovered a public document denominated "DECLARATION OF xxx xxx xxx
HEIRS AND DEED OF CONFIRMATION OF A PREVIOUS ORAL AGREEMENT OF
PARTITION," executed on June 6, 1990. By virtue of this deed, private respondents divided the 3. That the plaintiffs and the defendants are the legal heirs of spouses Casimero
property among themselves to the exclusion of petitioners who are also entitled to the said lot as Tautho and Cesaria N. Tautho who died long time ago;
heirs of the late spouses Casimero Tautho and Cesaria Tautho. Petitioners claimed that the
document was false and perjurious as the private respondents were not the only heirs and that no
4. That in life the spouses became the owners in fee simple of a certain parcel of
oral partition of the property whatsoever had been made between the heirs. The complaint prayed
land, which is more particularly described as follows:
that the document be declared null and void and an order be issued to partition the land among all
the heirs. 1
A parcel of land containing 56,97740 square meters, more or to order the defendants to pay plaintiffs attorney's fees in the amount of
less, located at Cotcot, Liloan, Cebu. P30,000.00.

designated as Lot 6149 per Technical Description and Certification issued by the Plaintiffs further pray for such other reliefs and remedies just and equitable under
Office of the Land Management copy of which are hereto attached as Annexes the premises. 11
"A" and "A-1" and are made part hereof: total assessed value is P5,000.00;
We agree with petitioners.
5. That the passed to the children of the spouses (who are all deceased except
for defendant Marcelo Tautho), namely: Zacarias, Epifania, Vicenta, Felecisimo, The complaint filed before the Regional Trial Court is doubtless one incapable of
Maria, Lorencia and Marcelo, and which in turn passed to the plaintiffs and pecuniary estimation and therefore within the jurisdiction of said court.
defendants upon their death they being their descendants and legal heirs;
In Singsong vs. Isabela Sawmill, 12 we had the occasion to rule that:
6. That the subject parcel of land has for year been undivided by and among the
legal heirs of said previous owners;
[I]n 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
7. That, very recently, plaintiffs discovered a public document, which is a ascertaining the nature of the principal action or remedy sought. If it is primarily
declaration of heirs and deed of confirmation of a previous oral agreement of for the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered capable of pecuniary
partition, affecting the land executed by and among the defendants whereby estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or in instance would
defendants divided the property among themselves to the exclusion of plaintiffs depend on the amount of the claim. However, where the basic issue is something
who are entitled thereto; attached hereto as Annex "B" and is made part hereof is other than the right to recover a sum of money, where the money claim is purely
xerox copy of said document; incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought, this Court has
considered such where the subject of the litigation may not be estimated in terms
8. That the instrument (Annex "B") is false and perjurious and is a complete of money, and are cognizable exclusively by courts of first instance (now
nullity because the defendants are not the only heirs of Casimero Tautho; Regional Trial Courts). 13
plaintiffs are also heirs and descendants of said deceased; moreover, there has
been no oral partition of the property; Examples of actions incapable of pecuniary estimation are those for specific performance,
support, or foreclosure of mortgage or annulment of judgment; 14 also actions questioning the
9. That pursuant to said document (Annex "B"), defendants had procured tax validity of a mortgage, 15 annulling a deed of sale or conveyance and to recover the price
declarations of the land for their supposed "shares" to the great damage and paid 16 and for rescession, which is a counterpart of specific performance. 17
prejudice of plaintiffs;
While actions under Sec. 33(3) of B.P. 129 are also incapable of pecuniary estimation, the law
10. That the property in controversy should be divided into seven (7) equal parts specifically mandates that they are cognizable by the MTC, METC, or MCTC where the assessed
since Casimero Tautho and Cesaria N. Tautho had seven children; value of the real property involved does exceed P20,000.00 in Metro Manila, or P50,000.00, if
located elsewhere. If the value exceeds P20,000.00 or P50,000.00 as the case may be, it is the
11. That the parties had failed to settle the controversy amicably at the barangay Regional Trial Courts which have jurisdiction under Sec. 19(2). 18 However, the subject matter of
level; attached hereto as Annex "C" is Certification to file Action; the complaint in this case is annulment of a document denominated as "DECLARATION OF
HEIRS AND DEED OF CONFIRMATION OF PREVIOUS ORAL PARTITION."
12. That by reason of the foregoing unjust and illegal act of defendants, plaintiffs
were forced to bring instant action and contract the services of the undersigned The main purpose of petitioners in filing the complaint is to declare null and void the document in
counsel with whom they bind themselves to pay P30,000.00 as attorney's fees. which private respondents declared themselves as the only heirs of the late spouses Casimero
Tautho and Cesaria Tautho and divided his property among themselves to the exclusion of
petitioners who also claim to be legal heirs and entitled to the property. While the complaint also
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court to declare prays for the partition of the property, this is just incidental to the main action, which is the
null and void the document (Annex "B") of declaration of heirs and confirmation
declaration of nullity of the document above-described. It is axiomatic that jurisdiction over the
and to order the partition of the land into seven (7) equal parts; each part shall
subject matter of a case is conferred by law and is determined by the allegations in the complaint
respectively go to the seven (7) children of Casimero Tautho and considering six
and the character of the relief sought, irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled to all or some
(6) of them died already the same shall go to their children or descendants, and of the claims asserted therein. 19
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The Order dismissing Civil
Case No. MAN-2275, as well as the Order denying the motion for reconsideration of said Order, is
SET ASIDE.

The Regional Trial Court, Branch 56, Mandaue City is ORDERED to proceed with dispatch in
resolving Civil Case No. MAN-2275. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION The first [C]omplaint for eminent domain, docketed as Civil Case No. 3648 and entitled Brgy.
Masili, Calamba, Laguna v. Emelita A. Reblara, Eugenia Almazan & Devorah E.
Bardillon, was filed before the Municipal Trial Court of Calamba, Laguna (MTC) on February 23,
1998, following the failure of Barangay Masili to reach an agreement with herein petitioner on the
[G.R. No. 146886. April 30, 2003] purchase offer of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P200,000.00). The expropriation of Lot
4381-D was being pursued in view of providing Barangay Masili a multi-purpose hall for the use
and benefit of its constituents.

DEVORAH E. BARDILLON, petitioner, vs. BARANGAY MASILI of Calamba, On March 5, 1999, the MTC issued an order dismissing Civil Case No. 3648 for lack of interest for
Laguna, respondent. failure of the [respondent] and its counsel to appear at the pre-trial. The MTC, in its Order dated
May 3, 1999, denied [respondents] [M]otion for [R]econsideration thereof.
DECISION
The second [C]omplaint for eminent domain, docketed as Civil Case No. 2845-99-C and
PANGANIBAN, J.: entitled Brgy. Masili, Calamba, Laguna v. Devorah E. Bardillon, was filed before Branch 37 of
the Regional Trial Court of Calamba, Laguna (RTC) on October 18, 1999. This [C]omplaint also
An expropriation suit is incapable of pecuniary estimation. Accordingly, it falls within the sought the expropriation of the said Lot 4381-D for the erection of a multi-purpose hall of
jurisdiction of regional trial courts, regardless of the value of the subject property. Barangay Masili, but petitioner, by way of a Motion to Dismiss, opposed this [C]omplaint by
alleging in the main that it violated Section 19(f) of Rule 16 in that [respondents] cause of action is
barred by prior judgment, pursuant to the doctrine of res judicata.

The Case On January 21, 2000, [the] Judge issued an order denying petitioners Motion to Dismiss, holding
that the MTC which ordered the dismissal of Civil Case No. 3648 has no jurisdiction over the said
expropriation proceeding.
Before us is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to set aside
the January 10, 2001 Decision and the February 5, 2001 Resolution of the Court of Appeals[2] (CA)
in CA-GR SP No. 61088. The dispositive part of the Decision reads: With the subsequent approval of Municipal Ordinance No. 2000-261 on July 10, 2000, and the
submission thereof in compliance with [the] Judges Order dated June 9, 2000 requiring herein
respondent to produce the authority for the expropriation through the Municipal Council of
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present [P]etition for [C]ertiorari is hereby DENIED DUE Calamba, Laguna, the assailed Order dated August 4, 2000 was issued in favor of Barangay
COURSE and accordingly DISMISSED, for lack of merit.[3] Masili x x x and, on August 16, 2000, the corresponding order for the issuance of the [W]rit of
[P]ossession over Lot 4381-D.[5]
The assailed Resolution[4] denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


The Facts

In dismissing the Petition, the CA held that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Calamba,
The factual antecedents are summarized by the CA as follows: Laguna (Branch 37)[6] did not commit grave abuse of discretion in issuing the assailed Orders. It
ruled that the second Complaint for eminent domain (Civil Case No. 2845-99-C) was not barred
At the root of this present [P]etition is the controversy surrounding the two (2) [C]omplaints for by res judicata. The reason is that the Municipal Trial Court (MTC), which dismissed the first
eminent domain which were filed by herein respondent for the purpose of expropriating a ONE Complaint for eminent domain (Civil Case No. 3648), had no jurisdiction over the action.
HUNDRED FORTY FOUR (144) square meter-parcel of land, otherwise known as Lot 4381-D
Hence, this Petition.[7]
situated in Barangay Masili, Calamba, Laguna and owned by herein petitioner under Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 383605 of the Registry of Deeds of Calamba, Laguna. Petitioner acquired
from Makiling Consolidated Credit Corporation the said lot pursuant to a Deed of Absolute
Sale which was executed by and between the former and the latter on October 7, 1996. The Issues
In her Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues for our consideration: This was explained by the Court in Barangay San Roque v. Heirs of Francisco Pastor:[13]

A. Whether or not, the Honorable Respondent Court committed grave abuse of discretion It should be stressed that the primary consideration in an expropriation suit is whether the
amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it denied and dismissed petitioners appeal; government or any of its instrumentalities has complied with the requisites for the taking of private
property. Hence, the courts determine the authority of the government entity, the necessity of the
B. Whether or not, the Honorable Respondent Court committed grave abuse of discretion when it expropriation, and the observance of due process. In the main, the subject of an expropriation suit
did not pass upon and consider the pending Motion for Reconsideration which was not resolved is the governments exercise of eminent domain, a matter that is incapable of pecuniary estimation.
by the Regional Trial Court before issuing the questioned Orders of 4 and 16 August 2000;
True, the value of the property to be expropriated is estimated in monetary terms, for the court is
C. Whether or not, the Honorable Respondent Court committed grave abuse of discretion in taking duty-bound to determine the just compensation for it. This, however, is merely incidental to the
the total amount of the assessed value of the land and building to confer jurisdiction to the court a expropriation suit.Indeed, that amount is determined only after the court is satisfied with the
quo; propriety of the expropriation.

D. Whether or not, the Honorable Respondent Court committed grave abuse of discretion in Verily, the Court held in Republic of the Philippines v. Zurbano that condemnation proceedings are
ignoring the fact that there is an existing multi-purpose hall erected in the land owned by Eugenia within the jurisdiction of Courts of First Instance, the forerunners of the regional trial courts. The
Almazan which should be subject of expropriation; and said case was decided during the effectivity of the Judiciary Act of 1948 which, like BP 129 in
respect to RTCs, provided that courts of first instance had original jurisdiction over all civil actions
in which the subject of the litigation is not capable of pecuniary estimation. The 1997 amendments
E. Whether or not, the Honorable Respondent Court committed grave abuse of discretion in failing to the Rules of Court were not intended to change these jurisprudential precedents.[14]
to consider the issue of forum shopping committed by Respondent Masili.[8]
To reiterate, an expropriation suit is within the jurisdiction of the RTC regardless of the value
Simply put, the issues are as follows: (1) whether the MTC had jurisdiction over the
of the land, because the subject of the action is the governments exercise of eminent domain -- a
expropriation case; (2) whether the dismissal of that case before the MTC constituted res judicata; matter that is incapable of pecuniary estimation.
(3) whether the CA erred when it ignored the issue of entry upon the premises; and (4) whether
respondent is guilty of forum shopping.

Second Issue:
Res Judicata
The Courts Ruling

Petitioner claims that the MTCs dismissal of the first Complaint for eminent domain was with
The Petition has no merit. prejudice, since there was no indication to the contrary in the Order of dismissal. She contends
that the filing of the second Complaint before the RTC should therefore be dismissed on account
of res judicata.
First Issue:
Res judicata literally means a matter adjudged, judicially acted upon or decided, or settled by
Jurisdiction Over Expropriation
judgment.[15] It provides that a final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of competent
jurisdiction is conclusive as to the rights of the parties and their privies; and constitutes an
absolute bar to subsequent actions involving the same claim, demand or cause of action.[16]
Petitioner claims that, since the value of the land is only P11,448, the MTC had jurisdiction
over the case.[9] The following are the requisites of res judicata: (1) the former judgment must be final; (2) the
court that rendered it had jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) it is a judgment
On the other hand, the appellate court held that the assessed value of the property
on the merits; and (4) there is -- between the first and the second actions -- an identity of parties,
was P28,960.[10] Thus, the MTC did not have jurisdiction over the expropriation proceedings,
subject matter and cause of action.[17]
because the amount involved was beyond the P20,000 jurisdictional amount cognizable by MTCs.
Since the MTC had no jurisdiction over expropriation proceedings, the doctrine of res
An expropriation suit does not involve the recovery of a sum of money. Rather, it deals with
judicata finds no application even if the Order of dismissal may have been an adjudication on the
the exercise by the government of its authority and right to take property for public use.[11] As such,
merits.
it is incapable of pecuniary estimation and should be filed with the regional trial courts.[12]
Third Issue:
Legality of Entry Into Premises

Petitioner argues that the CA erred when it ignored the RTCs Writ of Possession over her
property, issued despite the pending Motion for Reconsideration of the ruling dismissing the
Complaint.We are not persuaded.
The requirements for the issuance of a writ of possession in an expropriation case are
expressly and specifically governed by Section 2 of Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure.[18] On the part of local government units, expropriation is also governed by Section 19
of the Local Government Code.[19] Accordingly, in expropriation proceedings, the requisites for
authorizing immediate entry are as follows: (1) the filing of a complaint for expropriation sufficient
in form and substance; and (2) the deposit of the amount equivalent to 15 percent of the fair
market value of the property to be expropriated based on its current tax declaration.[20]
In the instant case, the issuance of the Writ of Possession in favor of respondent after it had
filed the Complaint for expropriation and deposited the amount required was proper, because it
had complied with the foregoing requisites.
The issue of the necessity of the expropriation is a matter properly addressed to the RTC in
the course of the expropriation proceedings. If petitioner objects to the necessity of the takeover of
her property, she should say so in her Answer to the Complaint. [21] The RTC has the power to
inquire into the legality of the exercise of the right of eminent domain and to determine whether
there is a genuine necessity for it.[22]

Fourth Issue:
Forum Shopping

Petitioner claims that respondent is guilty of forum shopping, because it scouted for another
forum after obtaining an unfavorable Decision from the MTC.
The test for determining the presence of forum shopping is whether the elements of litis
pendentia are present in two or more pending cases, such that a final judgment in one case will
amount to res judicata in another.[23]
Be it noted that the earlier case lodged with the MTC had already been dismissed when the
Complaint was filed before the RTC. Even granting arguendo that both cases were still pending, a
final judgment in the MTC case will not constitute res judicata in the RTC, since the former had no
jurisdiction over the expropriation case.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines On October 26, 1998, Payoyo filed a complaint for recovery of a sum of money and damages
SUPREME COURT against Villena. Villena moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action. He
Manila argued that there was no ground to cancel the contract; thus, there was no basis for refund. The
trial court denied his motion. Villena thereafter filed an answer with compulsory counterclaim citing
SECOND DIVISION as an affirmative defense Payoyo’s failure to state a cause of action.

G.R. No. 163021 April 27, 2007 On June 1, 1999, immediately after the trial court issued a pre-trial order, Villena filed a second
motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter but it was denied.
Thereafter, trial ensued.
PATRICIO A. VILLENA, Petitioner,
vs.
PATRICIO S. PAYOYO, Respondent. The trial court decided in favor of Payoyo, reasoning that the power to rescind is implied in
reciprocal obligations. Considering that Villena repeatedly failed to comply with his obligation,
Payoyo had the right to rescind the contract and demand a refund. The trial court ordered
DECISION
petitioner to pay respondent ₱184,821.50 as actual damages plus 12% interest per annum from
the date of filing of the complaint and ₱20,000 as moral damages plus legal interest from judicial
QUISUMBING, J.: demand until fully paid.

This petition for review on certiorari assails the Decision1 dated November 21, 2003 of the Court of The Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC decision with the following modifications:
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 70513 and its Resolution2 dated March 18, 2004, denying petitioner’s
motion for reconsideration. The appellate court had affirmed with modification the Decision 3 dated
1) [Petitioner Villena is] hereby ordered to pay [respondent Payoyo] actual damages in
April 26, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 78.
the amount of ₱ 155,183.00 with 12% interest per annum from the date of the filing of the
complaint;
The facts are undisputed.
2) [Petitioner is] likewise ordered to deliver the Indesit Multifunction Oven and Indesit Hob
On October 28, 1997, respondent Patricio Payoyo and Novaline, Inc., through its president, in favor of [respondent] within thirty (30) days from the finality of this decision; and
petitioner Patricio Villena, entered into a contract for the delivery and installation of kitchen
cabinets in Payoyo’s residence. The cabinets were to be delivered within ninety days from
3) [Respondent] is hereby ordered to pay the purchase price of the Indesit Multifunction
downpayment of 50% of the purchase price. On October 29, 1997, Payoyo paid Villena ₱155,183 Oven and Indesit Hob in favor of [petitioner] on the day the delivery is made.4
as downpayment.
The appellate court reasoned that while there was delay in the delivery and installation of the
On December 9, 1997, Payoyo entered into another contract with Villena for the delivery of home kitchen cabinets, there was none in the delivery of the appliances. The contract for said
appliances. On the same day, Payoyo paid 50% of the purchase price equal to ₱29,638.50 as appliances did not specify the date of delivery but that delivery should be made upon payment of
downpayment.
the 50% balance of the purchase price. Considering that Payoyo failed to pay the balance, Villena
did not incur delay.
However, Villena failed to install the kitchen cabinets and deliver the appliances. Payoyo made
several demands upon Villena but the latter failed to comply.
Hence, the instant petition, where petitioner raises the following issues:

In a letter dated March 12, 1998, Payoyo demanded the cancellation of the contracts and the I.
refund in full of the downpayments amounting to ₱184,821.50. Villena promised to install the
kitchen cabinets on or before May 10, 1998 and to deliver the appliances. Despite repeated
demands, Villena again failed to do so. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT HAD JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER
OF THE CASE.
Payoyo sent Villena two demand letters on June 24, 1998 and on July 28, 1998 asking the latter to
either deliver all items or return the downpayments. II.
WHETHER OR NOT [THE] DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS (PETITIONER AND NOVALINE, INC.), In our considered view, the complaint, albeit entitled as one for collection of a sum of money with
ARE ESTOPPED FROM QUESTIONING THE JURISDICTION OF THE COURT UNDER THE damages, is one incapable of pecuniary estimation; thus, one within the RTC’s jurisdiction. The
CIRCUMSTANCES.5 allegations therein show that it is actually for breach of contract, thus,

Simply, the issue in this case is whether the trial court had jurisdiction over the complaint. xxxx

Petitioner maintains that the RTC should have dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. He 7. Under their Contracts, prestation and/or delivery of the items will be performed and delivered
posits that the RTC has no jurisdiction over the complaint since it is mainly for recovery of a sum within NINETY (90) DAYS from the receipt of downpayment. Plaintiff complied with its prestation
of money in the amount of ₱184,821.50 which is below the jurisdictional amount set for but defendants defaulted with their obligation;
RTCs.6 Moreover, petitioner contends that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any time, even
on appeal, since jurisdiction is conferred only by law and cannot be acquired through or waived by xxxx
any act or omission of the parties.7
10. On 12 March 1998, plaintiff sent letter to defendants requesting the latter for the cancellation
Respondent, on the other hand, contends that the RTC has jurisdiction over the complaint as the of the purchase contracts and refund in full the (50%) downpayment paid in the total amount of (P
allegations therein show that it is actually a case for rescission of the contracts. The recovery of a 184, 821.50) within five (5) days upon receipt of the letter…
sum of money is merely a necessary consequence of the cancellation of the contracts.8
xxxx
The pertinent portion of Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 129, as amended by Republic Act
No. 7691,9provides:
12. On 24 March 1998, plaintiff and defendant Patricio A. Villena, personally talked [to] each other
regarding the full refund of the (50%) downpayment in the amount of P 184, 821.50. Defendant
SEC. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases.—Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original informed the plaintiff that it was their fault because the order from their Australian supplier was
jurisdiction: made only on 15 December 1997. Defendant promised plaintiff [delivery of] the three (3) Kitchen
Cabinets on or before 10 [M]ay 1998, and the three (3) home appliances were considered fully
(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation; paid applying the (50%) downpayment of (P 29,638.50) for home appliances only. But defendant
did not fulfill his promise;
xxxx
13. Despite all these, repeated demands for the installation of the (3) three kitchen [c]abinets and
(8) In all other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, complete delivery of home appliances were made, but defendants did nothing;
attorney’s fees, litigation expenses, and costs or the value of the property in controversy exceeds
One Hundred Thousand pesos (P100,000.00) or, in such other cases in Metro Manila, where the x x x x12 (Emphasis added.)
demand, exclusive of the abovementioned items exceeds Two Hundred Thousand pesos
(P200,000.00). A case for breach of contract is a cause of action either for specific performance or rescission of
contracts.13 An action for rescission of contract, as a counterpart of an action for specific
In determining the jurisdiction of an action whose subject is incapable of pecuniary estimation, the performance, is incapable of pecuniary estimation, and therefore falls under the jurisdiction of the
nature of the principal action or remedy sought must first be ascertained. If it is primarily for the RTC.14 In the present case, the averments in the complaint show that Payoyo sought the
recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered capable of pecuniary estimation and the cancellation of the contracts and refund of the downpayments since Villena failed to comply with
jurisdiction of the court depends on the amount of the claim. But, where the primary issue is the obligation to deliver the appliances and install the kitchen cabinets subject of the contracts.
something other than the right to recover a sum of money, where the money claim is purely The court then must examine the facts and the applicable law to determine whether there is in fact
incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought, such are actions whose subjects are substantial breach that would warrant rescission or cancellation of the contracts and entitle the
incapable of pecuniary estimation, hence cognizable by the RTCs.10 respondent for a refund. While the respondent prayed for the refund, this is just incidental to the
main action, which is the rescission or cancellation of the contracts.
Verily, what determines the nature of the action and which court has jurisdiction over it are the
allegations of the complaint and the character of the relief sought.11 WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision dated November 21, 2003 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 70513 and the Resolution dated March 18, 2004 are
AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines SO ORDERED[,]2
SUPREME COURT
Manila which Decision was, on motion for reconsideration, the Court voting 4-1,3 reversed by Resolution
of August 4, 2009, the dispositive portion of which reads:
EN BANC
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by John Lu Ym and
G.R. No. 153690 February 15, 2011 Ludo & LuYm Development Corporation is GRANTED. The Decision of this Court dated August
26, 2008 is RECONSIDERED and SET ASIDE. The Complaint in SRC Case No. 021-CEB, now
DAVID LU, Petitioner, on appeal with the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 81163, is DISMISSED.
vs.
PATERNO LU YM, SR., PATERNO LU YM, JR., VICTOR LU YM, JOHN LU YM, KELLY LU YM, All interlocutory matters challenged in these consolidated petitions are DENIED for being moot
and LUDO & LUYM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondents. and academic.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x SO ORDERED.4

G.R. No. 157381 David Lu’s Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Refer Resolution to the Court En Banc was
denied by minute Resolution of September 23, 2009.
PATERNO LU YM, SR., PATERNO LU YM, JR., VICTOR LU YM, JOHN LU YM, KELLY LU YM,
and LUDO & LUYM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioners, Following his receipt on October 19, 2009 of the minute Resolution, David Lu personally filed on
vs. October 30, 2009 a Second Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Refer Resolution to the
DAVID LU, Respondent. Court En Banc. On even date, he filed through registered mail an "Amended Second Motion for
Reconsideration and Motion to Refer Resolution to the Court En Banc." And on November 3,
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x 2009, he filed a "Motion for Leave to File [a] Motion for Clarification[, and the] Second Motion for
Reconsideration and Motion to Refer Resolution to the Court En Banc." He later also filed a
"Supplement to Second Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Dismiss" dated January 6,
G.R. No. 170889
2010.

JOHN LU YM and LUDO & LUYM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioners,


John Lu Ym and Ludo & Luym Development Corporation (LLDC), meanwhile, filed with leave a
vs. Motion5 for the Issuance of an Entry of Judgment of February 2, 2010, which merited an
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS OF CEBU CITY (FORMER TWENTIETH DIVISION), Opposition from David Lu.
DAVID LU, ROSA GO, SILVANO LUDO & CL CORPORATION, Respondents.

In compliance with the Court’s Resolution of January 11, 2010, Kelly Lu Ym, Victor Lu Ym and
RESOLUTION
Paterno Lu Ym, Jr. filed a Comment/Opposition of March 20, 2010, while John Lu Ym and LLDC
filed a Consolidated Comment of March 25, 2010, a Supplement thereto of April 20, 2010, and a
CARPIO MORALES, J.: Manifestation of May 24, 2010.

By Decision of August 26, 2008, the Court1 unanimously disposed of the three present petitions as The present cases were later referred to the Court en banc by Resolution of October 20, 2010.
follows:
Brief Statement of the Antecedents
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 153690 and 157381 are DENIED
for being moot and academic; while the petition in G.R. No. 170889 is DISMISSED for lack of The three consolidated cases stemmed from the complaint for "Declaration of Nullity of Share
merit. Consequently, the Status QuoOrder dated January 23, 2006 is hereby LIFTED.
Issue, Receivership and Dissolution" filed on August 14, 2000 before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Cebu City by David Lu, et al.against Paterno Lu Ym, Sr. and sons (Lu Ym father and
The Court of Appeals is DIRECTED to proceed with CA-G.R. CV No. 81163 and to resolve the sons) and LLDC.
same with dispatch.
By Decision of March 1, 2004, Branch 12 of the RTC ruled in favor of David et al. by annulling the (a) cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive
issuance of the shares of stock subscribed and paid by Lu Ym father and sons at less than par agreement, law, executive order, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction,
value, and ordering the dissolution and asset liquidation of LLDC. The appeal of the trial court’s ordinance, or regulation is in question;
Decision remains pending with the appellate court in CA-G.R. CV No. 81163.
(b) criminal cases in which the appealed decision imposes the death penalty or reclusion
Several incidents arising from the complaint reached the Court through the present three petitions. perpetua;

In G.R. No. 153690 wherein David, et al. assailed the appellate court’s resolutions dismissing their (c) cases raising novel questions of law;
complaint for its incomplete signatory in the certificate of non-forum shopping and consequently
annulling the placing of the subject corporation under receivership pendente lite, the Court, by (d) cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls;
Decision of August 26, 2008, found the issue to have been mooted by the admission by the trial
court of David et al.’s Amended Complaint, filed by them pursuant to the trial court’s order to
(e) cases involving decisions, resolutions, and orders of the Civil Service Commission, the
conform to the requirements of the Interim Rules of Procedure Governing Intra-Corporate
Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Audit;
Controversies.

Since an amended pleading supersedes the pleading that it amends, the original complaint of (f) cases where the penalty recommended or imposed is the dismissal of a judge, the
David, et al. was deemed withdrawn from the records. disbarment of a lawyer, the suspension of any of them for a period of more than one year,
or a fine exceeding forty thousand pesos;
The Court noted in G.R. No. 153690 that both parties admitted the mootness of the issue and that
(g) cases covered by the preceding paragraph and involving the reinstatement in the
the trial court had already rendered a decision on the merits of the case. It added that the
judiciary of a dismissed judge, the reinstatement of a lawyer in the roll of attorneys, or the
Amended Complaint stands since Lu Ym father and sons availed of an improper mode (via an
lifting of a judge’s suspension or a lawyer’s suspension from the practice of law;
Urgent Motion filed with this Court) to assail the admission of the Amended Complaint.

In G.R. No. 157381 wherein Lu Ym father and sons challenged the appellate court’s resolution (h) cases involving the discipline of a Member of the Court, or a Presiding Justice, or any
Associate Justice of the collegial appellate court;
restraining the trial court from proceeding with their motion to lift the receivership order which was
filed during the pendency of G.R. No. 153690, the Court, by Decision of August 26, 2008 resolved
that the issue was mooted by the amendment of the complaint and by the trial court’s decision on (i) cases where a doctrine or principle laid down by the Court en banc or by a Division my
the merits. The motion having been filed ancillary to the main action, which main action was be modified or reversed;
already decided on the merits by the trial court, the Court held that there was nothing more to
enjoin. (j) cases involving conflicting decisions of two or more divisions;

G.R. No. 170889 involved the denial by the appellate court of Lu Ym father and sons’ application (k) cases where three votes in a Division cannot be obtained;
in CA-G.R. CV No. 81163 for a writ of preliminary injunction. By August 26, 2008 Decision, the
Court dismissed the petition after finding no merit on their argument – which they raised for the (l) Division cases where the subject matter has a huge financial impact on businesses or
first time in their motion for reconsideration before the appellate court – of lack of jurisdiction for affects the welfare of a community;
non-payment of the correct RTC docket fees.
(m) Subject to Section 11 (b) of this rule, other division cases that, in the opinion of at
As reflected early on, the Court, in a turnaround, by Resolution of August 4, 2009, reconsidered its least three Members of the Division who are voting and present, are appropriate for
position on the matter of docket fees. It ruled that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the transfer to the Court en banc;
case for David Lu, et al.’s failure to pay the correct docket fees, hence, all interlocutory matters
and incidents subject of the present petitions must consequently be denied.
(n) cases that the Court en banc deems of sufficient importance to merit its attention; and
Taking Cognizance of the Present Incidents
(o) all matters involving policy decisions in the administrative supervision of all courts and
their personnel.6(underscoring supplied)
The Internal Rules of the Supreme Court (IRSC) states that the Court en banc shall act on the
following matters and cases:
The enumeration is an amalgamation of SC Circular No. 2-89 (February 7, 1989), as amended by On proposed Section 3(4), Commissioner Natividad asked what the effect would be of a decision
En Banc Resolution of November 18, 1993, and the amplifications introduced by Resolution of that violates the proviso that "no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the court in a decision
January 18, 2000 in A.M. No. 99-12-08-SC with respect to administrative cases and matters. rendered en banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the court en banc." The
answer given was that such a decision would be invalid. Following up, Father Bernas
The present cases fall under at least three types of cases for consideration by the Court En Banc. asked whether the decision, if not challenged, could become final and bindingat least on the
At least three members of the Court’s Second Division (to which the present cases were parties. Romulo answered that, since such a decision would be in excess of jurisdiction, the
transferred,7 they being assigned to a Member thereof) found, by Resolution of October 20, 2010, decision on the case could be reopened anytime.14 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
that the cases were appropriate for referral-transfer to the Court En Banc which subsequently
accepted8 the referral in view of the sufficiently important reason to resolve all doubts on the A decision rendered by a Division of this Court in violation of this constitutional provision would be
validity of the challenged resolutions as they appear to modify or reverse doctrines or principles of in excess of jurisdiction and, therefore, invalid.15 Any entry of judgment may thus be said to be
law. "inefficacious"16 since the decision is void for being unconstitutional.

In Firestone Ceramics v. Court of Appeals,9 the Court treated the consolidated cases as En Banc While it is true that the Court en banc exercises no appellate jurisdiction over its Divisions, Justice
cases and set the therein petitioners’ motion for oral argument, after finding that the cases were of Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes opined in Firestone and concededly recognized that "[t]he only constraint
sufficient importance to merit the Court En Banc’s attention. It ruled that the Court’s action is a is that any doctrine or principle of law laid down by the Court, either rendered en banc or in
legitimate and valid exercise of its residual power.10 division, may be overturned or reversed only by the Court sitting en banc."17

In Limketkai Sons Milling, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, the Court conceded that it is not infallible. That a judgment must become final at some definite point at the risk of occasional error cannot be
Should any error of judgment be perceived, it does not blindly adhere to such error, and the appreciated in a case that embroils not only a general allegation of "occasional error" but also a
parties adversely affected thereby are not precluded from seeking relief therefrom, by way of a serious accusation of a violation of the Constitution, viz., that doctrines or principles of law were
motion for reconsideration. In this jurisdiction, rectification of an error, more than anything else, is modified or reversed by the Court’s Special Third Division August 4, 2009 Resolution.
of paramount importance.
The law allows a determination at first impression that a doctrine or principle laid down by the
xxxx court en banc or in division may be modified or reversed in a case which would warrant a referral
to the Court En Banc. The use of the word "may" instead of "shall" connotes probability, not
It bears stressing that where, as in the present case, the Court En Banc entertains a case for its certainty, of modification or reversal of a doctrine, as may be deemed by the Court. Ultimately, it is
resolution and disposition, it does so without implying that the Division of origin is incapable of the entire Court which shall decide on the acceptance of the referral and, if so, "to reconcile any
rendering objective and fair justice. The action of the Court simply means that the nature of the seeming conflict, to reverse or modify an earlier decision, and to declare the Court’s doctrine."18
cases calls for en banc attention and consideration. Neither can it be concluded that the Court has
taken undue advantage of sheer voting strength. It was merely guided by the well-studied finding The Court has the power and prerogative to suspend its own rules and to exempt a case from
and sustainable opinion of the majority of its actual membership– that, indeed, subject cases are their operation if and when justice requires it,19 as in the present circumstance where movant filed
of sufficient importance meriting the action and decision of the whole Court. It is, of course, a motion for leave after the prompt submission of a second motion for reconsideration but,
beyond cavil that all the members of this highest Court of the land are always embued with the nonetheless, still within 15 days from receipt of the last assailed resolution.
noblest of intentions in interpreting and applying the germane provisions of law, jurisprudence,
rules and Resolutions of the Court– to the end that public interest be duly safeguarded and rule of Well-entrenched doctrines or principles of law that went astray need to be steered back to their
law be observed.11 proper course. Specifically, as David Lu correctly points out, it is necessary to reconcile and
declare the legal doctrines regarding actions that are incapable of pecuniary estimation,
It is argued that the assailed Resolutions in the present cases have already become final, 12 since application of estoppel by laches in raising an objection of lack of jurisdiction, and whether bad
a second motion for reconsideration is prohibited except for extraordinarily persuasive reasons faith can be deduced from the erroneous annotation of lis pendens.
and only upon express leave first obtained;13 and that once a judgment attains finality, it thereby
becomes immutable and unalterable, however unjust the result of error may appear. Upon a considered, thorough reexamination, the Court grants David Lu’s Motion for
Reconsideration. The assailed Resolutions of August 4, 2009 and September 23, 2009,
The contention, however, misses an important point. The doctrine of immutability of decisions which turn turtle settled doctrines, must be overturned. The Court thus reinstates the August
applies only to final and executory decisions. Since the present cases may involve a modification 26, 2008 Decision wherein a three-tiered approach was utilized to analyze the issue on docket
or reversal of a Court-ordained doctrine or principle, the judgment rendered by the Special Third fees:
Division may be considered unconstitutional, hence, it can never become final. It finds mooring in
the deliberations of the framers of the Constitution:
In the instant case, however, we cannot grant the dismissal prayed for because of the following al. would not be getting the value of the 600,000 shares, but only the value of their minority
reasons: First, the case instituted before the RTC is one incapable of pecuniary estimation. number of shares, which are theirs to begin with.
Hence, the correct docket fees were paid. Second, John and LLDC are estopped from
questioning the jurisdiction of the trial court because of their active participation in the The complaint filed by David, et al. is one for declaration of nullity of share issuance. The main
proceedings below, and because the issue of payment of insufficient docket fees had been relief prayed for both in the original complaint and the amended complaint is the same, that is, to
belatedly raised before the Court of Appeals, i.e., only in their motion for reconsideration. Lastly, declare null and void the issuance of 600,000 unsubscribed and unissued shares to Lu Ym father
assuming that the docket fees paid were truly inadequate, the mistake was committed by the and sons, et al. for a price of 1/18 of their real value, for being inequitable, having been done in
Clerk of Court who assessed the same and not imputable to David; and as to the deficiency, breach of director’s fiduciary’s duty to stockholders, in violation of the minority stockholders’ rights,
if any, the same may instead be considered a lien on the judgment that may thereafter be and with unjust enrichment.
rendered.20 (italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied)
As judiciously discussed in the Court’s August 26, 2008 Decision, the test in determining whether
The Value of the Subject Matter Cannot be Estimated the subject matter of an action is incapable of pecuniary estimation is by ascertaining the nature of
the principal action or remedy sought. It explained:
On the claim that the complaint had for its objective the nullification of the issuance of 600,000
shares of stock of LLDC, the real value of which based on underlying real estate values, as x x x To be sure, the annulment of the shares, the dissolution of the corporation and the
alleged in the complaint, stands at ₱1,087,055,105, the Court’s assailed August 4, 2009 appointment of receivers/management committee are actions which do not consist in
Resolution found: the recovery of a sum of money. If, in the end, a sum of money or real property would be
recovered, it would simply be the consequence of such principal action. Therefore, the case
Upon deeper reflection, we find that the movants’ [Lu Ym father & sons] claim has merit. The before the RTC was incapable of pecuniary estimation.22 (italics in the original, emphasis and
600,000 shares of stock were, indeed, properties in litigation. They were the subject matter of the underscoring supplied)
complaint, and the relief prayed for entailed the nullification of the transfer thereof and their return
to LLDC. David, et al., are minority shareholders of the corporation who claim to have Actions which the Court has recognized as being incapable of pecuniary estimation
been prejudiced by the sale of the shares of stock to the Lu Ym father and sons. Thus, to the include legality of conveyances. In a case involving annulment of contract, the Court found it to be
extent of the damage or injury they allegedly have suffered from this sale of the shares of stock, one which cannot be estimated:
the action they filed can be characterized as one capable of pecuniary estimation. The shares of
stock have a definite value, which was declared by plaintiffs [David Lu, et al.] themselves in their
Petitioners argue that an action for annulment or rescission of a contract of sale of real property is
complaint. Accordingly, the docket fees should have been computed based on this amount. This is
a real action and, therefore, the amount of the docket fees to be paid by private respondent should
clear from the following version of Rule 141, Section 7, which was in effect at the time the
complaint was filed[.]21 (emphasis and underscoring supplied) be based either on the assessed value of the property, subject matter of the action, or its
estimated value as alleged in the complaint, pursuant to the last paragraph of §7(b) of Rule 141,
as amended by the Resolution of the Court dated September 12, 1990. Since private respondents
The said Resolution added that the value of the 600,000 shares of stock, which are the properties alleged that the land, in which they claimed an interest as heirs, had been sold for P4,378,000.00
in litigation, should be the basis for the computation of the filing fees. It bears noting, however, to petitioners, this amount should be considered the estimated value of the land for the purpose of
that David, et al. are not claiming to own these shares. They do not claim to be the owners thereof determining the docket fees.
entitled to be the transferees of the shares of stock. The mention of the real value of the shares of
stock, over which David, et al. do not, it bears emphasis, interpose a claim of right to
recovery, is merely narrative or descriptive in order to emphasize the inequitable price at which On the other hand, private respondents counter that an action for annulment or rescission of a
the transfer was effected. contract of sale of real property is incapable of pecuniary estimation and, so, the docket fees
should be the fixed amount of P400.00 in Rule 141, §7(b)(1). In support of their argument, they
cite the cases of Lapitan v. Scandia, Inc. and Bautista v. Lim. In Lapitan this Court, in an opinion
The assailed August 4, 2009 Resolution also stated that "to the extent of the damage or injury by Justice J.B.L. Reyes, held:
[David, et al.] allegedly have suffered from this sale," the action "can be characterized as one
capable of pecuniary estimation." The Resolution does not, however, explore the value of the
A review of the jurisprudence of this Court indicates that in determining whether an action is one
extent of the damage or injury. Could it be the pro ratadecrease (e.g., from 20% to 15%) of the
percentage shareholding of David, et al. vis-à-vis to the whole? 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
Whatever property, real or personal, that would be distributed to the stockholders would be a mere whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or in the courts of first instance would depend on the
consequence of the main action. In the end, in the event LLDC is dissolved, David, et amount of the claim. However, where the basic issue is something other than the right to recover a
sum of money, or where the money claim is purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal
relief sought, like in suits to have the defendant perform his part of the contract (specific Next, the Lu Ym father and sons filed a motion for the lifting of the receivership order, which the
performance) and in actions for support, or for annulment of a judgment or to foreclose a trial court had issued in the interim. David, et al., brought the matter up to the CA even before the
mortgage, this Court has considered such actions as cases where the subject of the litigation may trial court could resolve the motion. Thereafter, David, at al., filed their Motion to Admit Complaint
not be estimated in terms of money, and are cognizable exclusively by courts of first instance. The to Conform to the Interim Rules Governing Intra-Corporate Controversies. It was at this point that
rationale of the rule is plainly that the second class cases, besides the determination of the Lu Ym father and sons raised the question of the amount of filing fees paid. They also raised
damages, demand an inquiry into other factors which the law has deemed to be more this point again in the CA when they appealed the trial court’s decision in the case below.
within the competence of courts of first instance, which were the lowest courts of record at the
time that the first organic laws of the Judiciary were enacted allocating jurisdiction (Act 136 of the We find that, in the circumstances, the Lu Ym father and sons are not estopped from challenging
Philippine Commission of June 11, 1901). the jurisdiction of the trial court. They raised the insufficiency of the docket fees before the trial
court rendered judgment and continuously maintained their position even on appeal to the CA.
Actions for specific performance of contracts have been expressly pronounced to be exclusively Although the manner of challenge was erroneous – they should have addressed this issue directly
cognizable by courts of first instance: De Jesus vs. Judge Garcia, L-26816, February 28, to the trial court instead of the OCA – they should not be deemed to have waived their right to
1967; Manufacturer's Distributors, Inc. vs. Yu Siu Liong, L-21285, April 29, 1966. And no cogent assail the jurisdiction of the trial court.25 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
reason appears, and none is here advanced by the parties, why an action for rescission (or
resolution) should be differently treated, a "rescission" being a counterpart, so to speak, of Lu Ym father and sons did not raise the issue before the trial court. The narration of facts in the
"specific performance". In both cases, the court would certainly have to undertake an Court’s original decision shows that Lu Ym father and sons merely inquired from the Clerk of Court
investigation into facts that would justify one act or the other. No award for damages may on the amount of paid docket fees on January 23, 2004. They thereafter still "speculat[ed] on the
be had in an action for rescission without first conducting an inquiry into matters which fortune of litigation."26 Thirty-seven days later or on March 1, 2004 the trial court rendered its
would justify the setting aside of a contract, in the same manner that courts of first instance decision adverse to them.
would have to make findings of fact and law in actions not capable of pecuniary estimation
expressly held to be so by this Court, arising from issues like those raised in Arroz v. Alojado, et
al., L-22153, March 31, 1967 (the legality or illegality of the conveyancesought for and the Meanwhile, Lu Ym father and sons attempted to verify the matter of docket fees from the Office of
determination of the validity of the money deposit made); De Ursua v. Pelayo, L-13285, April 18, the Court Administrator (OCA). In their Application for the issuance a writ of preliminary injunction
1950 (validity of a judgment); Bunayog v. Tunas, L-12707, December 23, 1959 (validity of a filed with the Court of Appeals, they still failed to question the amount of docket fees paid by David
mortgage); Baito v. Sarmiento, L-13105, August 25, 1960 (the relations of the parties, the right to Lu, et al. It was only in their Motion for Reconsideration of the denial by the appellate court of their
application for injunctive writ that they raised such issue.
support created by the relation, etc., in actions for support), De Rivera, et al. v. Halili, L-15159,
September 30, 1963 (the validity or nullity of documents upon which claims are predicated). Issues
of the same nature may be raised by a party against whom an action for rescission has been Lu Ym father and sons’ further inquiry from the OCA cannot redeem them. A mere inquiry from
brought, or by the plaintiff himself. It is, therefore, difficult to see why a prayer for damages in an an improper office at that, could not, by any stretch, be considered as an act of having raised the
action for rescission should be taken as the basis for concluding such action as one capable of jurisdictional question prior to the rendition of the trial court’s decision. In one case, it was held:
pecuniary estimation — a prayer which must be included in the main action if plaintiff is to be
compensated for what he may have suffered as a result of the breach committed by defendant, Here it is beyond dispute that respondents paid the full amount of docket fees as assessed by the
and not later on precluded from recovering damages by the rule against splitting a cause of action Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 17, where they filed the
and discouraging multiplicity of suits.23 (emphasis and underscoring supplied) complaint. If petitioners believed that the assessment was incorrect, they should have questioned
it before the trial court. Instead, petitioners belatedly question the alleged underpayment of docket
IN FINE, the Court holds that David Lu, et al.’s complaint is one incapable of pecuniary estimation, fees through this petition, attempting to support their position with the opinion and
hence, the correct docket fees were paid. The Court thus proceeds to tackle the arguments on certification of the Clerk of Court of another judicial region. Needless to state, such
estoppel and lien, mindful that the succeeding discussions rest merely on a certification has no bearing on the instant case.27 (italics in the original; emphasis and
contrary assumption, viz., that there was deficient payment. underscoring in the original)

Estoppel Has Set In The inequity resulting from the abrogation of the whole proceedings at this late stage when the
decision subsequently rendered was adverse to the father and sons is precisely the evil being
avoided by the equitable principle of estoppel.
Assuming arguendo that the docket fees were insufficiently paid, the doctrine of estoppel already
applies.
No Intent to Defraud the Government
24
The assailed August 4, 2009 Resolution cited Vargas v. Caminas on the non-applicability of
the Tijam doctrine where the issue of jurisdiction was, in fact, raised before the trial court rendered Assuming arguendo that the docket fees paid were insufficient, there is no proof of bad faith to
its decision. Thus the Resolution explained: warrant a dismissal of the complaint, hence, the following doctrine applies:
x x x In Sun Insurance Office, Ltd., (SIOL) v. Asuncion, this Court ruled that the filing of the SEC. 7. Clerks of Regional Trial Courts. –
complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading and the payment of the prescribed docket fee vest a
trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action. If the amount of docket (a) For filing an action or a permissive counterclaim or money claim against an estate not
fees paid is insufficient considering the amount of the claim, the clerk of court of the lower court based on judgment, or for filing with leave of court a third-party, fourth-party, etc.
involved or his duly authorized deputy has the responsibility of making a deficiency complaint, or a complaint in intervention, and for all clerical services in the same, if the
assessment. The party filing the case will be required to pay the deficiency, but jurisdiction is not total sum claimed, exclusive of interest, or the stated value of the property in
automatically lost.28 (underscoring supplied) litigation, is:

The assailed Resolution of August 4, 2009 held, however, that the above-quoted doctrine does not xxxx
apply since there was intent to defraud the government, citing one attendant circumstance– the
annotation of notices of lis pendenson real properties owned by LLDC. It deduced:
(b) For filing:
From the foregoing, it is clear that a notice of lis pendens is availed of mainly in real actions.
Hence, when David, et al., sought the annotation of notices of lis pendens on the titles of LLDC, 1. Actions where the value of the subject matter ……….…..
they acknowledged that the complaint they had filed affected a title to or a right to possession of cannot be estimated xxx
real properties. At the very least, they must have been fully aware that the docket fees would be
based on the value of the realties involved. Their silence or inaction to point this out to the Clerk of 2. Special civil actions except judicial foreclosure of
Court who computed their docket fees, therefore, becomes highly suspect, and thus, sufficient for mortgage which shall be governed by paragraph …...….…….
this Court to conclude that they have crossed beyond the threshold of good faith and into the area (a) above xxx
of fraud. Clearly, there was an effort to defraud the government in avoiding to pay the correct
docket fees. Consequently, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case.29 3. ……….……
All other actions not involving property
xxx
All findings of fraud should begin the exposition with the presumption of good faith. The inquiry is
not whether there was good faith on the part of David, et al., but whether there was bad faith on In a real action, the assessed value of the property, or if there is none, the estimated value thereof
their part. shall be alleged by the claimant and shall be the basis in computing the fees.

The erroneous annotation of a notice of lis pendens does not negate good faith. The x x x x31 (emphasis supplied)
overzealousness of a party in protecting pendente lite his perceived interest, inchoate or
otherwise, in the corporation’s properties from depletion or dissipation, should not be lightly
The Court, by Resolution of September 4, 2001 in A. M. No. 00-8-10-SC,32 clarified the matter of
equated to bad faith.
legal fees to be collected in cases formerly cognizable by the Securities and Exchange
Commission following their transfer to the RTC.
That notices of lis pendens were erroneously annotated on the titles does not have the effect of
changing the nature of the action. The aggrieved party is not left without a remedy, for they can
Clarification has been sought on the legal fees to be collected and the period of appeal applicable
move to cancel the annotations. The assailed August 4, 2009 Resolution, however, deemed such
in cases formerly cognizable by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It appears that the
act as an acknowledgement that the case they filed was a real action, concerning as it indirectly
Interim Rules of Procedure on Corporate Rehabilitation and the Interim Rules of Procedure for
does the corporate realties, the titles of which were allegedly annotated. This conclusion does not
Intra-Corporate Controversies do not provide the basis for the assessment of filing fees and the
help much in ascertaining the filing fees because the value of these real properties and the value
period of appeal in cases transferred from the Securities and Exchange Commission to particular
of the 600,000 shares of stock are different.
Regional Trial Courts.

Further, good faith can be gathered from the series of amendments on the provisions on filing
The nature of the above mentioned cases should first be ascertained. Section 3(a), Rule 1 of the
fees, that the Court was even prompted to make a clarification.1avvphi1
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure defines civil action as one by which a party sues another for the
enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong. It further states that a
When David Lu, et al. filed the Complaint on August 14, 2000 or five days after the effectivity of civil action may either be ordinary or special, both being governed by the rules for ordinary civil
the Securities Regulation Code or Republic Act No. 8799,30 the then Section 7 of Rule 141 was actions subject to the special rules prescribed for special civil actions. Section 3(c) of the same
the applicable provision, without any restricted reference to paragraphs (a) and (b) 1 & Rule, defines a special proceeding as a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status, a
3 or paragraph (a) alone. Said section then provided: right, or a particular fact.
Applying these definitions, the cases covered by the Interim Rules for Intra-Corporate By referring the computation of such docket fees to paragraph (a) only, it denotes that an intra-
Controversies should be considered as ordinary civil actions. These cases either seek the corporate controversy always involves a property in litigation, the value of which is always the
recovery of damages/property or specific performance of an act against a party for the basis for computing the applicable filing fees. The latest amendments seem to imply that there can
violation or protection of a right. These cases are: be no case of intra-corporate controversy where the value of the subject matter cannot be
estimated. Even one for a mere inspection of corporate books.
(1) Devices or schemes employed by, or any act of, the board of directors, business
associates, officers or partners, amounting to fraud or misrepresentation which may be If the complaint were filed today, one could safely find refuge in the express phraseology of
detrimental to the interest of the public and/or of the stockholders, partners, or members Section 21 (k) of Rule 141 that paragraph (a) alone applies.
of any corporation, partnership, or association;
In the present case, however, the original Complaint was filed on August 14, 2000 during which
(2) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate, partnership, or association relations, time Section 7, without qualification, was the applicable provision. Even the Amended Complaint
between and among stockholders, members or associates; and between, any or all of was filed on March 31, 2003 during which time the applicable rule expressed that paragraphs (a)
them and the corporation, partnership, or association of which they are stockholders, and (b) l & 3 shall be the basis for computing the filing fees in intra-corporate cases, recognizing
members or associates, respectively; that there could be an intra-corporate controversy where the value of the subject matter cannot be
estimated, such as an action for inspection of corporate books. The immediate illustration shows
(3) Controversies in the election or appointment of directors, trustees, officers, or that no mistake can even be attributed to the RTC clerk of court in the assessment of the docket
managers of corporations, partnerships, or associations; fees.

(4) Derivative suits; and Finally, assuming there was deficiency in paying the docket fees and assuming further that there
was a mistake in computation, the deficiency may be considered a lien on the judgment that may
be rendered, there being no established intent to defraud the government.
(5) Inspection of corporate books.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Resolutions of August 4, 2009 and September 23, 2009
On the other hand, a petition for rehabilitation, the procedure for which is provided in the Interim are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Court’s Decision of August 26, 2008 is REINSTATED.
Rules of Procedure on Corporate Recovery, should be considered as a special proceeding. It is
one that seeks to establish the status of a party or a particular fact. As provided in section 1, Rule
4 of the Interim Rules on Corporate Recovery, the status or fact sought to be established is the The Court of Appeals is DIRECTED to resume the proceedings and resolve the remaining issues
inability of the corporate debtor to pay its debts when they fall due so that a rehabilitation plan, with utmost dispatch in CA-G.R. CV No. 81163.
containing the formula for the successful recovery of the corporation, may be approved in the end.
It does not seek a relief from an injury caused by another party. SO ORDERED.

Section 7 of Rule 141 (Legal Fees) of the Revised Rules of Court lays the amount of filing fees to
be assessed for actions or proceedings filed with the Regional Trial Court. Section 7(a) and (b)
apply to ordinary civil actionswhile 7(d) and (g) apply to special proceedings.

In fine, the basis for computing the filing fees in intra-corporate cases shall be section 7(a)
and (b) l & 3 of Rule 141. For petitions for rehabilitation, section 7(d) shall be applied. (emphasis
and underscoring supplied)

The new Section 21(k) of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, as amended by A.M. No. 04-2-04-
SC33 (July 20, 2004), expressly provides that "[f]or petitions for insolvency or other cases
involving intra-corporate controversies, the fees prescribed under Section 7(a) shall apply." Notatu
dignum is that paragraph (b) 1 & 3 of Section 7 thereof was omitted from the reference. Said
paragraph34 refers to docket fees for filing "[a]ctions where the value of the subject matter cannot
be estimated" and "all other actions not involving property."
Republic of the Philippines On November 19, 1999, the RTC issued an Order6 denying the motion to dismiss, to wit:
SUPREME COURT
Manila After the motion to dismiss and its addendum have been received, it is now ripe for resolution.
One of the grounds alleged in the complaint is for the recovery of conjugal share on Lot No. 1615,
THIRD DIVISION of Pls-209 D with damages.

G.R. No. 165777 July 25, 2011 It is alleged that the late Fernando Castor and Rosario Dideles Vda. de Castor were married on
September 15, 1952, and the application to the land was dated January 17, 1952 and the patent
CEFERINA DE UNGRIA [DECEASED], substituted by her HEIRS, represented by LOLITA was issued by the President on November 19, 1954.
UNGRIA SAN JUAN-JAVIER, and RHODORA R. PELOMIDA as their Attorney-in-
fact, Petitioner, The said land was sold to the defendant on October 3, 1960 (Annex C) and an Affidavit of
vs. Relinquishment dated November 23, 1960 which was made a part thereof as Annex "D."
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF Considering the marriage of September 15, 1992, the said land became conjugal as of the date of
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, BRANCH 35, ROSARIO DIDELES VDA. DE CASTOR, NEPTHALIE the marriage and, therefore, ½ thereof belongs to the wife, Rosario Dideles Vda. de Castor.
CASTOR ITUCAS, FEROLYN CASTOR FACURIB, RACHEL DE CASTOR, LEA CASTOR
DOLLOLOSA, and ROSALIE CASTOR BENEDICTO, Respondents. Thus, considering the above, the motion to dismiss is DENIED.7

DECISION Petitioner Ceferina filed a Motion for Reconsideration,8 which the RTC denied in an Order9 dated
February 4, 2000.
PERALTA, J.:
Petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion10 asking the RTC to resolve the issues of (1) whether or not the
1
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the Decision dated May 26, 2004 and the complaint should be dismissed or expunged from the records pursuant to Supreme Court (SC)
Resolution2 dated September 17, 2004 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 60764. Circular No. 7; (2) reconsidering the findings contained in the Order dated February 4, 2000; and
(3) holding in abeyance the submission of the answer to the complaint.
On August 26, 1999, respondents Rosario Dideles Vda. de Castor (Rosario), Nepthalie Castor
Itucas, Ferolyn Castor Facurib (Ferolyn), Rachel De Castor, Lea Castor Dollolosa and Rosalie Pending resolution of the motion, respondents filed a Motion to Allow 11 them to continue
Castor Benedicto, filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of General Santos City a prosecuting this case as indigent litigants.
Complaint3 for ownership, possession and damages, and alternative causes of action either to
declare two documents as patent nullities, and/or for recovery of Rosario's conjugal share with On March 8, 2000, the RTC resolved the Omnibus Motion in an Order12 that read in this wise:
damages or redemption of the subject land against petitioner Ceferina de Ungria, defendants
Avelino Gumban, Dolores Cagaitan, Zacasio Poutan, PO1 Jonas Montales, Ignacio Olarte and
alias Dory. Respondent Rosario is the surviving wife of the late Fernando Castor, while the rest of On the omnibus motion regarding filing fees, the plaintiffs asserted in its motion that they are
charging defendant actual and compensatory damages such as are proved during the hearing of
the respondents are their legitimate children. The documents they sought to annul are (1) the
this case. So also are attorney’s fees and moral damages, all to be proved during the hearing of
Deed of Transfer of Rights and Interest including Improvements thereon dated October 3, 1960
this case.
allegedly executed by Fernando in favor of Eugenio de Ungria, petitioner's father; and (2) the
Affidavit of Relinquishment dated November 23, 1960 executed by Eugenio in favor of petitioner.
Since there was no hearing yet, they are not in a possession (sic) to determine how much is to be
4 charged.
Petitioner Ceferina filed a Motion to Dismiss (Ex-Abundante Ad Cautelam) on the following
grounds: (1) the claim or demand has been extinguished by virtue of the valid sale of Lot No. 1615
to Eugenio; (2) the action is barred by extraordinary acquisitive prescription; (3) the action is At any rate, if after hearing the Clerk of Court determine that the filing fees is still insufficient,
barred by laches; and (4) plaintiff failed to state a cause of action, or filed the case prematurely for considering the total amount of the claim, the Clerk of Court should determine and, thereafter, if
failure to resort to prior barangay conciliation proceedings. any amount is found due, he must require the private respondent to pay the same x x x.

Petitioner also filed an Addendum to the Motion to Dismiss 5 raising the following additional As to the second issue, the same has already been decided in its order dated February 4, 2000.
grounds: (1) plaintiffs have no legal capacity to sue; and (2) the court has no jurisdiction over the
case for failure of plaintiffs to pay the filing fee in full. Respondents filed their Opposition thereto. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the omnibus motion is DENIED.
The defendant shall file their answer within fifteen (15) days from receipt of this order.13 respective rights and interests of the parties over the property based on the issues presented
therein which could only be determined in a full-blown trial on the merits of the case.
From this Order, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration and clarification on whether plaintiffs
should be allowed to continue prosecuting the case as indigent litigants. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which the CA denied in a Resolution dated
September 17, 2004. The CA ruled, among others, that the defenses of acquisitive prescription
On March 30, 2000, the RTC issued a Clarificatory Order14 reading as follows: and laches were likewise unavailing. It found that the subject property is covered by a Torrens title
(OCT No. V-19556); thus, it is axiomatic that adverse, notorious and continuous possession under
a claim of ownership for the period fixed by law is ineffective against a Torrens title; that unless
As has been said, the plaintiff asserted in its motion that they are charging defendants actual and
there are intervening rights of third persons which may be affected or prejudiced by a decision
compensatory damages as has been proved during the hearing of this case. So also are
directing the return of the lot to petitioner, the equitable defense of laches will not apply as against
attorney's fees and moral damages all to be proved during the hearing of this case.
the registered owner.

Since there was no hearing yet, they are not in a possession (sic) to determine how much is to be
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari where petitioner raises the following assignment of
charged.
errors:

At any rate, after hearing, the Clerk of Court determines that the filing fee is still insufficient, the THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT RESPONDENT TRIAL
same shall be considered as lien on the judgment that may be entered.
COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN DENYING PETITIONER'S
MOTION TO DISMISS DESPITE RESPONDENTS' NON-PAYMENT OF THE CORRECT
As to the motion seeking from the Honorable Court allowance to allow plaintiff to continue DOCKET FEES.
prosecuting this case as indigent litigants, suffice it to say that the same is already provided for in
this order.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE ACTION OF PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS IS BARRED BY LACHES AND EXTRAORDINARY ACQUISITIVE
WHEREFORE, the defendants shall file their answer within fifteen (15) days from receipt of this PRESCRIPTION.18
Order.15
We find the petition without merit.
In an Order dated May 31, 2000, the RTC again denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
Preliminarily, although not raised as an issue in this petition, we find it necessary to discuss the
Petitioner filed with the CA a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a issue of jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case. Respondents' complaint was filed in 1999,
temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. Petitioner sought the nullification at the time Batas Pambansa Blg. (BP) 129, the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, was already
of the Order dated November 19, 1999 and the subsequent orders issued by the RTC thereto for amended by Republic Act (RA) No. 7691, An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Metropolitan
having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, amending for the purpose
Respondents filed their Comment thereto. BP Blg. 129.19 Section 1 of RA 7691, amending BP Blg. 129, provides that the RTC shall exercise
exclusive original jurisdiction on the following actions:
In a Decision dated May 26, 2004, the CA dismissed the petition. The CA found that SC Circular
No. 7 would not apply where the amount of damages or value of the property was immaterial; that Section 1. Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise known as the "Judiciary
the Circular could be applied only in cases where the amount claimed or the value of the personal Reorganization Act of 1980," is hereby amended to read as follows:
property was determinative of the court's jurisdiction citing the case of Tacay v. RTC of Tagum,
Davao del Norte.16 The CA found that respondents had paid the corresponding docket fees upon Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. – Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
the filing of the complaint, thus, the RTC had acquired jurisdiction over the case despite the failure jurisdiction:
to state the amount of damages claimed in the body of the complaint or in the prayer thereof. The
CA found that the RTC did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction
when it denied petitioner's motion to dismiss. It noted that the RTC's Clarificatory Order dated (1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary
March 30, 2000, which stated that "if after hearing the Clerk of Court determines that the filing fee estimation;
is still insufficient, the same shall be considered as lien on the judgment that may be entered" was
in accordance with the rule laid down in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion.17 The CA (2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any
proceeded to state that a judicious examination of the complaint pointed to a determination of the interest therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds Twenty
Thousand Pesos (₱20,000.00) or for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value
exceeds Fifty Thousand Pesos (₱50,000.00), except actions for forcible entry into and purely simulated and without any consideration; hence, inexistent, void ab initio and/or a patent
unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon nullity, as well as the Affidavit of Relinquishment which was the direct result of the Deed of
the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts; x Transfer. Respondents also prayed in the alternative that if the Deed be finally upheld as valid, to
xx order petitioner to reconvey to respondent Rosario the undivided one-half portion of the subject
land as conjugal owner thereof and to account and reimburse her of its usufruct; and/or to allow
Section 3 of RA No. 7691 expanded the exclusive original jurisdiction of the first level courts, thus: them to redeem the subject land.

Section 3. Section 33 of the same law (BP Blg. 129) is hereby amended to read as follows: It would appear that the first cause of action involves the issue of recovery of possession and
interest of the parties over the subject land which is a real action. Respondents alleged that the
assessed value of the subject land was ₱12,780.00 based on Tax Declaration No. 15272. Thus,
Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial
since it is a real action with an assessed value of less than ₱20,000.00, the case would fall under
Courts in Civil Cases. – Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit
the jurisdiction of the MTC as provided under the above-quoted Section 33 (3) of BP 129, as
Trial Courts shall exercise:
amended.

xxxx
Notably, however, respondents in the same Complaint filed alternative causes of action assailing
the validity of the Deed of Transfer of Rights and Interest executed by Fernando in favor of
(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of, real petitioner's father. Respondents also sought for the reconveyance to respondent Rosario of the
property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the property or interest therein does undivided one-half portion of the subject land as conjugal owner thereof in case the Deed of
not exceed Twenty Thousand Pesos (₱20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such Transfer of Rights and Interest will be upheld as valid; and/or for redemption of the subject land.
assessed value does not exceed Fifty Thousand Pesos (₱50,000.00) exclusive of interest, Clearly, this is a case of joinder of causes of action which comprehends more than the issue of
damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That in cases possession of, or any interest in the real property under contention, but includes an action to annul
of land not declared for taxation purposes, the value of such property shall be determined by the contracts and reconveyance which are incapable of pecuniary estimation and, thus, properly
assessed value of the adjacent lots. within the jurisdiction of the RTC.20

Respondents filed their Complaint with the RTC; hence, we would first determine whether the RTC In Singson v. Isabela Sawmill,21 we held that:
has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case based on the above-quoted provisions.
In determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which is not capable of pecuniary
The Complaint filed by respondents in the RTC was for ownership, possession and damages, and estimation this Court has adopted the criterion of first ascertaining the nature of the principal
alternative causes of action either to declare two documents as patent nullities and/or for recovery action or remedy sought. If it is primarily for the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is
of conjugal share on the subject land with damages or redemption of the subject land. In their considered capable of pecuniary estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or
Complaint, respondents claimed that Rosario and Fernando are the registered owners of the in the courts of first instance would depend on the amount of the claim. However, where the basic
subject land with an assessed value of ₱12,780.00; that the couple left the cultivation and issue is something other than the right to recover a sum of money, where the money claim is
enjoyment of the usufruct of the subject land to Fernando's mother and her second family to purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought, this Court has considered
augment their means of livelihood; that respondent Rosario and Fernando thought that when the such actions as cases where the subject of the litigation may not be estimated in terms of money,
latter's mother died in 1980, the subject land was in the enjoyment of the second family of his and are cognizable exclusively by courts of first instance (now Regional Trial Courts).22
mother, but later learned that the subject land was leased by petitioner Ceferina; that sometime in
August 1999, respondents learned of the existence of the Deed of Transfer of Rights and Interest Thus, respondents correctly filed their Complaint with the RTC.
including Improvements thereon dated October 3, 1960, where Fernando had allegedly
transferred his rights and interests on the subject land in favor of Eugenio, petitioner Ceferina's
father, as well as an Affidavit of Relinquishment dated November 23, 1960 executed by Eugenio in It is a settled rule in this jurisdiction that when an action is filed in court, the complaint must be
favor of petitioner Ceferina; that Fernando's signature in the Deed of Transfer was not his but a accompanied by the payment of the requisite docket and filing fees. 23 It is not simply the filing of
forgery; and the Affidavit of Relinquishment was also void as it was a direct result of a simulated the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the payment of the prescribed docket fee, that
Deed of Transfer. vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action.24

Respondents prayed that they be declared as absolute and lawful owners of the subject land and Section 7(b)(1) of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court provides:
to order petitioner and the other defendants to vacate the premises and restore respondents to its
possession and enjoyment therefore. On their second cause of action, they prayed that the Deed SEC. 7. Clerks of Regional Trial Courts. - (a) For filing an action or a permissive counter-claim or
of Transfer of Rights and Interest Including Improvements Thereon be declared as a forgery, money claim against an estate not based on judgment, or for filing with leave of court a third-party,
fourth-party, etc. complaint, or a complaint-in-intervention, and for all clerical services in the same, xxxx
if the total-sum claimed, exclusive of interest, or the stated value of the property in litigation, is:
(a) Ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, to pay plaintiffs actual and
xxxx compensatory damages such as are proved during the hearing of this case;

(b) For filing: (b) Ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, to pay plaintiffs attorneys' fees and
moral damages, all to be proved during the hearing of this case.28
1. Actions where the value of the subject matter
Thus, the RTC should have dismissed the case, since respondents did not specify the amount of
cannot be estimated ........ ₱400.00 damages in their prayer.

2. x x x We are not persuaded.

In a real action, the assessed value of the property, or if there is none, the estimated SC Circular No. 7 was brought about by our ruling in Manchester Development Corporation v.
value thereof shall be alleged by the claimant and shall be the basis in computing the Court of Appeals,29where we held that a pleading which does not specify in the prayer the amount
fees.25 of damages being asked for shall not be accepted or admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged
from the record; and that the Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of
the prescribed docket fee.
Since we find that the case involved the annulment of contract which is not susceptible of
pecuniary estimation, thus, falling within the jurisdiction of the RTC, the docket fees should not be
based on the assessed value of the subject land as claimed by petitioner in their memorandum, However, in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion,30 we laid down the following guidelines in the
but should be based on Section 7(b)(1) of Rule 141. A perusal of the entries in the Legal Fees payment of docket fees, to wit:
Form attached to the records would reflect that the amount of ₱400.00 was paid to the Clerk of
Court, together with the other fees, as assessed by the Clerk of Court. Thus, upon respondents' 1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the
proof of payment of the assessed fees, the RTC has properly acquired jurisdiction over the payment of the prescribed docket fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the
complaint. Jurisdiction once acquired is never lost, it continues until the case is terminated. 26 subject matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the initiatory pleading is not
accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee within
Notably, petitioner’s claim that the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction in this case is premised on her a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary
contention that respondents violated SC Circular No. 7 issued on March 24, 1998 requiring that all period.
complaints must specify the amount of damages sought not only in the body of the pleadings but
also in the prayer to be accepted and admitted for filing. Petitioner argues that respondents 2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third-party claims and similar
alleged in paragraph 13 of their Complaint that: pleadings, which shall not be considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed
therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee within a reasonable time
(T)he reasonable rental for the use of the [subject] land is ₱2,000.00 per hectare, every crop time, but also in no case beyond its applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.
once every four months, or ₱6,000.00 a year per hectare; that defendants in proportion and length
of time of their respective occupancy is and/or are jointly and severally liable to plaintiffs of the 3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the appropriate
produce thereby in the following proportions, viz: (a) for defendant Ceferina de Ungria for a period pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment awards
of time claimed by her as such; (b) for defendants Dolores Cagautan, a certain alias "Dory," and a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified the same has been left for
PO1 Jonas Montales, of an undetermined area, the latter having entered the area sometime in determination by the court, the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the
1998 and defendant alias "Dory," only just few months ago; that defendant Ignacio Olarte and judgment. It shall be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly-authorized deputy
Zacasio Puutan of occupying about one-half hectare each.27 to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fee.

and in their prayer asked: Subsequently, in Heirs of Bertuldo Hinog v. Melicor,31 we said:

x x x Ordering the defendants, jointly and severally, in proportion to the length and area of their Furthermore, the fact that private respondents prayed for payment of damages "in amounts
respective occupancy, to pay reasonable rentals to the plaintiffs in the proportion and amount justified by the evidence" does not call for the dismissal of the complaint for violation of SC
assessed in paragraph 13 of the First Cause of Action. Circular No. 7, dated March 24, 1988 which required that all complaints must specify the amount
of damages sought not only in the body of the pleadings but also in the prayer in order to be The trial in this case has not yet started as in fact no answer has yet been filed. We find that these
accepted and admitted for filing. Sun Insurance effectively modified SC Circular No. 7 by providing issues are factual which must be resolved at the trial of this case on the merits wherein both
that filing fees for damages and awards that cannot be estimated constitute liens on the awards parties will be given ample opportunity to prove their respective claims and defenses.
finally granted by the trial court.
Anent petitioner's defense of laches, the same is evidentiary in nature and cannot be established
x x x judgment awards which were left for determination by the court or as may be proven during by mere allegations in the pleadings. Without solid evidentiary basis, laches cannot be a valid
trial would still be subject to additional filing fees which shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It ground to dismiss respondents' complaint.35 Notably, the allegations of respondents in their
would then be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court of the trial court or his duly-authorized deputy petition filed before the RTC which alleged among others:
to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fees.32
7. That sometime between the years 1965 to 1970, defendant Ceferina de Ungria,
A reading of the allegations in the complaint would show that the amount of the rental due can accompanied by Miss Angela Jagna-an, appeared in the residence of plaintiff Rosario
only be determined after a final judgment, since there is a need to show supporting evidence when Dideles Vda. de Castor in Bo.1, Banga, South Cotabato, and requested her to sign a
the petitioner and the other defendants started to possess the subject land. Thus, we find no folded document with her name only appearing thereon, telling her that it has something
reversible error committed by the CA when it ruled that there was no grave abuse of discretion to do with the land above-described, of which she refused telling her that she better return
committed by the RTC in issuing its Order dated March 30, 2000, where the RTC stated that it to the person who requested her to do so (referring to her mother-in-law), more so that
"since there was no hearing yet, respondents are not in a position to determine how much is to be her husband was out at that time;
charged and that after hearing, the Clerk of Court determines that the filing fee is still insufficient,
the same shall be considered as lien on the judgment that may be entered." 8. That when the matter was brought home to Fernando Castor, the latter just commented
that [his] mother desires the land above-described to be sold to defendant Ceferina de
Petitioner claims that the action is barred by extraordinary acquisitive prescription and laches. Ungria which however he was opposed to do so even as they occasionally come into
Petitioner contends that she took possession of the land in the concept of an owner, open, heated arguments everytime this insistence on the same subject propped up;
exclusive, notorious and continuous since 1952 through her predecessor-in-interest, Eugenio, and
by herself up to the present; that the late Fernando and private respondents had never taken 9. That even after the death of the mother of the late Fernando Castor in Bo. Bula, City of
possession of the land at any single moment; and that, granting without admitting that the transfer General Santos, sometime in 1980, the latter and his surviving wife thought all the while
of rights between Fernando and Eugenio was null and void for any reason whatsoever, petitioner's that the land above-described was in the enjoyment of his late mother's family with his
possession of the land had already ripened into ownership after the lapse of 30 years from August 2nd husband; that it was only after sometime when plaintiff Rosario Dideles Vda. de
1952 by virtue of the extraordinary acquisitive prescription. Castor heard that the land above-described had even been leased by defendant Ceferina
de Ungria with the Stanfilco and Checkered farm;
We are not persuaded.
10. That sometime in 1997, defendant Ceferina de Ungria sent overtures to plaintiffs
It is a well-entrenched rule in this jurisdiction that no title to registered land in derogation of the through Ester Orejana, who is the half sister-in-law of plaintiff Rosario Dideles Vda. de
rights of the registered owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse Castor that she desires to settle with them relating to the land above-described; that the
possession.33 Prescription is unavailing not only against the registered owner but also against his overtures developed into defendant Ceferina de Ungria meeting for the purpose plaintiff
hereditary successors.34 In this case, the parcel of land subject of this case is a titled property, i.e., Ferolyn Castor Facurib where the negotiation continued with Lolita Javier as attorney-in-
titled in the name of the late Fernando Castor, married to Rosario Dideles. fact after defendant Ceferina de Ungria left to reside in Manila and which resulted later to
the attorney-in-fact offering the plaintiffs ₱100,000.00 to quitclaim on their rights over the
Petitioner claims that respondent had impliedly admitted the fact of sale by Fernando to Eugenio said land, which offer, however, was refused by plaintiffs as so [insignificant] as compared
in August 1952, but only according to respondents, the sale was null and void because it violated to the actual value of the same land; that in that negotiation, defendant Ceferina de
the provisions of the Public Land Act. Petitioner argues that the application of Fernando, dated Ungria was challenged to show any pertinent document to support her claim on the land
January 17, 1952, was not the homestead application referred to in Sections 118 and 124 of the in question and where she meekly answered by saying at the time that she does not have
Public Land Act; and that Fernando's application was only as settler, or for the allocation of the any of such document;
subject land to him vice the original settler Cadiente.
x x x x36
Such argument does not persuade.
would not conclusively establish laches.1avvphil Thus, it is necessary for petitioners to proceed to
trial and present controverting evidence to prove the elements of laches.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines SECTION 119. Every conveyance of land acquired under the free patent or homestead provisions,
SUPREME COURT when proper, shall be subject to repurchase by the applicant, his widow, or legal heirs, within a
Manila period of five years from the date of the conveyance.

THIRD DIVISION Respondents, in their Answer, raised lack of cause of action, estoppel, prescription, and laches,
as defenses.
G.R. No. 208232 March 10, 2014
Meanwhile, during the pendency of the case, Bautista died and was substituted by petitioner
SURVIVING HEIRS OF ALFREDO R. BAUTISTA, namely: EPIFANIA G. BAUTISTA and ZOEY Epifania G. Bautista (Epifania).
G. BAUTISTA,Petitioners,
vs. Respondents Francisco and Welhilmina Lindo later entered into a compromise agreement with
FRANCISCO LINDO and WELHILMINA LINDO; and HEIRS OF FILIPINA DAQUIGAN, namely: petitioners, whereby they agreed to cede to Epifania a three thousand two hundred and thirty
MA. LOURDES DAQUIGAN, IMELDA CATHERINE DAQUIGAN, IMELDA DAQUIGAN and square meter (3,230 sq.m.)-portion of the property as well as to waive, abandon, surrender, and
CORSINO DAQUIGAN, REBECCA QUIAMCO and ANDRES QUIAMCO, ROMULO LORICA withdraw all claims and counterclaims against each other. The compromise was approved by the
and DELIA LORICA, GEORGE CAJES and LAURA CAJES, MELIDA BANEZ and FRANCISCO RTC in its Decision dated January 27, 2011, the fallo of which reads:
BANEZ, MELANIE GOFREDO, GERV ACIO CAJES and ISABEL CAJES, EGMEDIO SEGOVIA
and VERGINIA SEGOVIA, ELSA N. SAM, PEDRO M. SAM and LINA SAM, SANTIAGO WHEREFORE, a DECISION is hereby rendered based on the above-quoted Compromise
MENDEZ and MINA MENDEZ, HELEN M. BURTON and LEONARDO BURTON, JOSE Agreement and the parties are enjoined to strictly comply with the terms and conditions of the
JACINTO and BIENVENIDA JACINTO, IMELDA DAQUIGAN, LEO MA TIGA and ALICIA same.
MATIGA, FLORENCIO ACEDO JR., and LYLA VALERIO, Respondents.
SO ORDERED.3
DECISION
Other respondents, however, filed a Motion to Dismiss4 dated February 4, 2013, alleging that the
VELASCO, JR., J.: complaint failed to state the value of the property sought to be recovered. Moreover, they asserted
that the total selling price of all the properties is only sixteen thousand five hundred pesos (PhP
The Case 16,500), and the selling price or market value of a property is always higher than its assessed
value. Since Batas Pambansa Blg. (BP) 129, as amended, grants jurisdiction to the RTCs over
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 assailing the April 25, 2013 Order of the civil actions involving title to or possession of real property or interest therein where the assessed
Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Civil Case No. (1798)-021 as well as its Order of July 3, 2013 value is more than PhP 20,000, then the RTC has no jurisdiction over the complaint in question
denying reconsideration. since the property which Bautista seeks to repurchase is below the PhP 20,000 jurisdictional
ceiling.
The Facts
RTC Ruling5
Alfredo R. Bautista (Bautista), petitioner’s predecessor, inherited in 1983 a free-patent land
located in Poblacion, Lupon, Davao Oriental and covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. Acting on the motion, the RTC issued the assailed order dismissing the complaint for lack of
(1572) P-6144. A few years later, he subdivided the property and sold it to several vendees, jurisdiction. The trial court found that Bautista failed to allege in his complaint that the value of the
herein respondents, via a notarized deed of absolute sale dated May 30, 1991. Two months later, subject property exceeds 20 thousand pesos. Furthermore, what was only stated therein was that
OCT No. (1572) P-6144 was canceled and Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) were issued in the total and full refund of the purchase price of the property is PhP 16,500. This omission was
favor of the vendees.1 considered by the RTC as fatal to the case considering that in real actions, jurisdictional amount is
determinative of whether it is the municipal trial court or the RTC that has jurisdiction over the
case.
Three years after the sale, or on August 5, 1994, Bautista filed a complaint for repurchase against
respondents before the RTC, Branch 32, Lupon, Davao Oriental, docketed as Civil Case No.
1798,2 anchoring his cause of action on Section 119 of Commonwealth Act No. (CA) 141, With respect to the belated filing of the motion, the RTC, citing Cosco Philippines Shipping, Inc. v.
otherwise known as the "Public Land Act," which reads: Kemper Insurance Company,6 held that a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction may be filed at
any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal, and is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. The
dispositive portion of the assailed Order reads:
WHEREFORE, the complaint for Repurchase, Consignation, with Preliminary Injunction and Our Ruling
Damages is hereby dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
The petition is meritorious.
SO ORDERED.7
Jurisdiction of courts is granted by the Constitution and pertinent laws.
Assignment of Errors
Jurisdiction of RTCs, as may be relevant to the instant petition, is provided in Sec. 19 of BP 129,
Their motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioners now seek recourse before this which reads:
Court with the following assigned errors:
Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases.―Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
I jurisdiction:

THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT RTC ERRED IN ADMITTING THE MOTION TO DISMISS DATED 1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary
FEBRUARY 4, 2013, BELATEDLY FILED BY THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS IN THE CASE. estimation;

II 2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any
interest therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds Twenty
THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT RTC ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE INSTANT CASE FOR thousand pesos (₱20,000.00) or, for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value
REPURCHASE IS A REAL ACTION.8 exceeds Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000.00) except actions for forcible entry into and
unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon
the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.
The Issue
On the other hand, jurisdiction of first level courts is prescribed in Sec. 33 of BP 129, which
Stated differently, the issue for the Court’s resolution is: whether or not the RTC erred in granting provides:
the motion for the dismissal of the case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject
matter.
Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts in civil cases.―Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial
Arguments
Courts shall exercise:

Petitioners argue that respondents belatedly filed their Motion to Dismiss and are now estopped xxxx
from seeking the dismissal of the case, it having been filed nine (9) years after the filing of the
complaint and after they have actively participated in the proceedings. Additionally, they allege
that an action for repurchase is not a real action, but one incapable of pecuniary estimation, it 3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of, real
being founded on privity of contract between the parties. According to petitioners, what they seek property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the property or interest therein does
is the enforcement of their right to repurchase the subject property under Section 119 of CA 141. not exceed Twenty thousand pesos (₱20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such
assessed value does not exceed Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000.00) exclusive of interest,
damages of whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That in cases
Respondents, for their part, maintain that since the land is no longer devoted to agriculture, the
of land not declared for taxation purposes, the value of such property shall be determined by the
right of repurchase under said law can no longer be availed of, citing Santana v. assessed value of the adjacent lots.
Mariñas.9 Furthermore, they suggest that petitioners intend to resell the property for a higher profit,
thus, the attempt to repurchase. This, according to respondents, goes against the policy and is not
in keeping with the spirit of CA 141 which is the preservation of the land gratuitously given to The core issue is whether the action filed by petitioners is one involving title to or possession of
patentees by the State as a reward for their labor in cultivating the property. Also, the Deed of real property or any interest therein or one incapable of pecuniary estimation.
Absolute Sale presented in evidence by Bautista was unilaterally executed by him and was not
signed by respondents. Lastly, respondents argue that repurchase is a real action capable of The course of action embodied in the complaint by the present petitioners’ predecessor, Alfredo R.
pecuniary estimation. Bautista, is to enforce his right to repurchase the lots he formerly owned pursuant to the right of a
free-patent holder under Sec. 119 of CA 141 or the Public Land Act.
The Court rules that the complaint to redeem a land subject of a free patent is a civil action Respondents argue that Bautista’s action is one involving title to or possession of real property or
incapable of pecuniary estimation. any interests therein and since the selling price is less than PhP 20,000, then jurisdiction is lodged
with the MTC. They rely on Sec. 33 of BP 129.
It is a well-settled rule that jurisdiction of the court is determined by the allegations in the complaint
and the character of the relief sought.10 In this regard, the Court, in Russell v. Vestil,11 wrote that Republic Act No. 769117 amended Sec. 33 of BP 129 and gave Metropolitan Trial Courts,
"in determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which is not capable of pecuniary Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil
estimation this Court has adopted the criterion of first ascertaining the nature of the principal actions which involve title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein where the
action or remedy sought. If it is primarily for the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is assessed value of the property or interest therein does not exceed twenty thousand pesos (PhP
considered capable of pecuniary estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or 20,000) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value does not exceed fifty
in the RTCs would depend on the amount of the claim." But where the basic issue is something thousand pesos (PhP 50,000) exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney’s fees,
other than the right to recover a sum of money, where the money claim is purely incidental to, or a litigation expenses and costs.
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, hence, are At first blush, it appears that the action filed by Bautista involves title to or possession of the lots
incapable of pecuniary estimation. These cases are cognizable exclusively by RTCs.12 he sold to respondents. Since the total selling price is less than PhP 20,000, then the MTC, not
the RTC, has jurisdiction over the case. This proposition is incorrect for the re-acquisition of the
Settled jurisprudence considers some civil actions as incapable of pecuniary estimation, viz: lots by Bautista or herein successors-in-interests, the present petitioners, is but incidental to and
an offshoot of the exercise of the right by the latter to redeem said lots pursuant to Sec. 119 of CA
1. Actions for specific performance; 141. The reconveyance of the title to petitioners is solely dependent on the exercise of such right
to repurchase the lots in question and is not the principal or main relief or remedy sought. Thus,
the action of petitioners is, in reality, incapable of pecuniary estimation, and the reconveyance of
2. Actions for support which will require the determination of the civil status;
the lot is merely the outcome of the performance of the obligation to return the property
conformably to the express provision of CA 141.
3. The right to support of the plaintiff;
Even if we treat the present action as one involving title to real property or an interest therein
4. Those for the annulment of decisions of lower courts; which falls under the jurisdiction of the first level court under Sec. 33 of BP 129, as the total selling
price is only PhP 16,000 way below the PhP 20,000 ceiling, still, the postulation of respondents
5. Those for the rescission or reformation of contracts;13 that MTC has jurisdiction will not hold water. This is because respondents have actually
participated in the proceedings before the RTC and aggressively defended their position, and by
6. Interpretation of a contractual stipulation.14 virtue of which they are already barred to question the jurisdiction of the RTC following the
principle of jurisdiction by estoppel.
The Court finds that the instant cause of action to redeem the land is one for specific performance.
In Heirs of Jose Fernando v. De Belen, it was held that the party raising defenses to the complaint,
actively participating in the proceedings by filing pleadings, presenting his evidence, and invoking
The facts are clear that Bautista sold to respondents his lots which were covered by a free patent. its authority by asking for an affirmative relief is deemed estopped from questioning the jurisdiction
While the deeds of sale do not explicitly contain the stipulation that the sale is subject to of the court.18
repurchase by the applicant within a period of five (5) years from the date of conveyance pursuant
to Sec. 119 of CA 141, still, such legal provision is deemed integrated and made part of the deed
of sale as prescribed by law. It is basic that the law is deemed written into every Here, we note that aside from the belated filing of the motion to dismiss––it having been filed nine
contract.15 Although a contract is the law between the parties, the provisions of positive law which (9) years from the filing of the complaint––respondents actively participated in the proceedings
regulate contracts are deemed written therein and shall limit and govern the relations between the through the following acts:
parties.16 Thus, it is a binding prestation in favor of Bautista which he may seek to enforce. That is
precisely what he did. He filed a complaint to enforce his right granted by law to recover the lot 1. By filing their Answer and Opposition to the Prayer for Injunction19 dated September 29,
subject of free patent. Ergo, it is clear that his action is for specific performance, or if not strictly 1994 whereby they even interposed counterclaims, specifically: PhP 501,000 for unpaid
such action, then it is akin or analogous to one of specific performance. Such being the case, his survey accounts, PhP 100,000 each as litigation expenses, PhP 200,000 and PhP 3,000
action for specific performance is incapable of pecuniary estimation and cognizable by the RTC. per daily appearance by way of attorney’s fees, PhP 500,000 as moral damages, PhP
100,000 by way of exemplary damages, and costs of suit;

2. By participating in Pre-trial;
3. By moving for the postponement of their presentation of evidence;20

4. By presenting their witness;21 and

5. By submitting the compromise agreement for approval.22

Having fully participated in all stages of the case, and even invoking the RTC’s authority by asking
for affirmative reliefs, respondents can no longer assail the jurisdiction of the said trial court.
Simply put, considering the extent of their participation in the case, they are, as they should be,
considered estopped from raising lack of jurisdiction as a ground for the dismissal of the
action.1âwphi1

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The April 25, 2013
and July 3, 2013 Orders of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. (1798)-021 are hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

The Regional Trial Court, Branch 32 in Lupon, Davao Oriental is ORDERED to proceed with
dispatch in resolving Civil Case No. (1798)-021.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines 6. That, the unjustified refusal of the defendant to vacate the property has caused the plaintiffs to
SUPREME COURT suffer shame, humiliation, wounded feelings, anxiety and sleepless nights;

SECOND DIVISION 7. That, to protect their rights and interest, plaintiffs were constrained to engage the services of a
lawyer.3
G.R. No. 160384. April 29, 2005
The petitioners prayed that, after due proceedings, judgment be rendered in their favor, thus:
CESAR T. HILARIO, for himself and as Attorney-in-Fact of IBARRA, NESTOR, LINA and
PRESCILLA, all surnamed HILARIO, Petitioners, WHEREFORE, it is prayed of this Honorable Court that after due process (sic), an order be issued
vs. for the defendant to vacate and peacefully turn over to the plaintiffs the occupied property and that
ALLAN T. SALVADOR, Respondents. defendant be made to pay plaintiffs:

HEIRS OF SALUSTIANO SALVADOR, namely, REGIDOR M. SALVADOR and VIRGINIA a. actual damages, as follows:
SALVADOR-LIM,respondents-intervenors.
a.1. transportation expenses in connection with the projected settlement of the case amounting to
DECISION ₱1,500.00 and for the subsequent attendance to the hearing of this case at ₱1,500.00 each
schedule;
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
a.2. attorney’s fees in the amount of ₱20,000.00 and ₱500.00 for every court appearance;
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court of the
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 63737 as well as its Resolution2 denying b. moral and exemplary damages in such amount incumbent upon the Honorable Court to
the motion for the reconsideration of the said decision. determine; and

The Antecedents c. such other relief and remedies just and equitable under the premises.4

On September 3, 1996, petitioners Cesar, Ibarra, Nestor, Lina and Prescilla, all surnamed Hilario, The private respondent filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction
filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Romblon, Romblon, Branch 71, against over the nature of the action, citing Section 33 of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129, as amended by
private respondent Allan T. Salvador. They alleged therein, inter alia, as follows: Section 3(3) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7691.5 He averred that –

2. That, the plaintiffs are co-owners by inheritance from Concepcion Mazo Salvador of a parcel of (1) the complaint failed to state the assessed value of the land in dispute;
land designated as Cad. Lot No. 3113-part, located at Sawang, Romblon, Romblon, which
property was [adjudged] as the hereditary share of their father, Brigido M. Hilario, Jr. when their (2) the complaint does not sufficiently identify and/or describe the parcel of land referred to as the
father was still single, and which adjudication was known by the plaintiffs[’] father’s co-heirs; subject-matter of this action;

3. That, sometime in 1989, defendant constructed his dwelling unit of mixed materials on the both of which are essential requisites for determining the jurisdiction of the Court where the case is
property of the plaintiffs’ father without the knowledge of the herein plaintiffs or their predecessors- filed. In this case, however, the assessed value of the land in question is totally absent in the
in-interest; allegations of the complaint and there is nothing in the relief prayed for which can be picked-up for
determining the Court’s jurisdiction as provided by law.
4. That, demands have been made of the defendant to vacate the premises but the latter
manifested that he have (sic) asked the prior consent of their grandmother, Concepcion Mazo In the face of this predicament, it can nevertheless be surmised by reading between the lines, that
Salvador; the assessed value of the land in question cannot exceed ₱20,000.00 and, as such, it falls within
the jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Court of Romblon and should have been filed before said
5. That, to reach a possible amicable settlement, the plaintiffs brought the matter to the Lupon of Court rather than before the RTC. …6
Barangay Sawang, to no avail, evidenced by the CERTIFICATE TO FILE ACTION hereto attached
as ANNEX B;
The petitioners opposed the motion.7 They contended that the RTC had jurisdiction over the action The CA declared that the action of the petitioners was one for the recovery of ownership and
since the court can take judicial notice of the market value of the property in question, which was possession of real property. Absent any allegation in the complaint of the assessed value of the
₱200.00 per square meter and considering that the property was 14,797 square meters, more or property, the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) had exclusive jurisdiction over the action, conformably to
less, the total value thereof is ₱3,500,000.00. Besides, according to the petitioners, the motion to Section 3315 of R.A. No. 7691.
dismiss was premature and "the proper time to interpose it is when the [petitioners] introduced
evidence that the land is of such value." The petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the said decision, which the appellate court
denied.16 Hence, they filed the instant petition, with the following assignment of errors:
On November 7, 1996, the RTC issued an Order8 denying the motion to dismiss, holding that the
action was incapable of pecuniary estimation, and therefore, cognizable by the RTC as provided in I
Section 19(1) of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE REVERSIBLE ERROR IN
After the denial of the motion to dismiss, the private respondent filed his answer with HOLDING THAT THE INSTANT CASE, ACCION REINVINDICATORIA, FALLS WITHIN THE
counterclaim.9 Traversing the material allegations of the complaint, he contended that the EXCLUSIVE ORIGINAL JURISDICTION OF THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT OF ROMBLON,
petitioners had no cause of action against him since the property in dispute was the conjugal AND NOT WITH THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF ROMBLON.
property of his grandparents, the spouses Salustiano Salvador and Concepcion Mazo-Salvador.
II
On April 8, 1997, Regidor and Virginia Salvador filed their Answer-in-Intervention10 making
common cause with the private respondent. On her own motion, however, Virginia Salvador was
dropped as intervenor.11 THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS REVERSIBLE ERROR IN
ORDERING THE REFILING OF THE CASE IN THE [PROPER] COURT, INSTEAD OF
DECIDING THE CASE ON THE MERITS BASED ON THE COMPLETE RECORDS ELEVATED
During trial, the petitioners adduced in evidence Tax Declaration No. 8590-A showing that in 1991 BEFORE SAID APPELLATE COURT AND IN NOT AFFIRMING IN TOTO THE DECISION OF
the property had an assessed value of ₱5,950.00.12 THE TRIAL COURT.17

On June 3, 1999, the trial court rendered judgment finding in favor of the petitioners. The The Ruling of the Court
dispositive portion of the decision reads:
The lone issue for our resolution is whether the RTC had jurisdiction over the action of the
WHEREFORE, as prayed for, judgment is rendered: petitioners, the plaintiffs in the RTC, against the private respondent, who was the defendant
therein.
Ordering the defendant to vacate and peacefully turn over to the plaintiffs the occupied property;
and The petitioners maintain that the RTC has jurisdiction since their action is an accion
reinvindicatoria, an action incapable of pecuniary estimation; thus, regardless of the assessed
Dismissing defendant’s counterclaim. value of the subject property, exclusive jurisdiction falls within the said court. Besides, according to
the petitioners, in their opposition to respondent’s motion to dismiss, they made mention of the
SO ORDERED.13 increase in the assessed value of the land in question in the amount of ₱3.5 million. Moreover, the
petitioners maintain that their action is also one for damages exceeding ₱20,000.00, over which
the RTC has exclusive jurisdiction under R.A. No. 7691.
Aggrieved, the private respondent and respondent-intervenor Regidor Salvador appealed the
decision to the CA, which rendered judgment on May 23, 2003 reversing the ruling of the RTC and
dismissing the complaint for want of jurisdiction. The fallo of the decision is as follows: The petition has no merit.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the appealed decision is REVERSED, and the case DISMISSED, It bears stressing that the nature of the action and which court has original and exclusive
without prejudice to its refilling in the proper court. jurisdiction over the same is determined by the material allegations of the complaint, the type of
relief prayed for by the plaintiff and the law in effect when the action is filed, irrespective of
whether the plaintiffs are entitled to some or all of the claims asserted therein. 18 The caption of the
SO ORDERED.14
complaint is not determinative of the nature of the action. Nor does the jurisdiction of the court
depend upon the answer of the defendant or agreement of the parties or to the waiver or
acquiescence of the parties.
We do not agree with the contention of the petitioners and the ruling of the CA that the action of original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial
the petitioners in the RTC was an accion reinvindicatoria. We find and so rule that the action of the Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.
petitioners was an accion publiciana, or one for the recovery of possession of the real property
subject matter thereof. An accion reinvindicatoria is a suit which has for its object the recovery of The jurisdiction of the court over an action involving title to or possession of land is now
possession over the real property as owner. It involves recovery of ownership and possession determined by the assessed value of the said property and not the market value thereof. The
based on the said ownership. On the other hand, an accion publiciana is one for the recovery of assessed value of real property is the fair market value of the real property multiplied by the
possession of the right to possess. It is also referred to as an ejectment suit filed after the assessment level. It is synonymous to taxable value.20 The fair market value is the price at which a
expiration of one year after the occurrence of the cause of action or from the unlawful withholding property may be sold by a seller, who is not compelled to sell, and bought by a buyer, who is not
of possession of the realty.19 compelled to buy.

The action of the petitioners filed on September 3, 1996 does not involve a claim of ownership Even a cursory reading of the complaint will show that it does not contain an allegation stating the
over the property. They allege that they are co-owners thereof, and as such, entitled to its assessed value of the property subject of the complaint.21 The court cannot take judicial notice of
possession, and that the private respondent, who was the defendant, constructed his house the assessed or market value of lands.22 Absent any allegation in the complaint of the assessed
thereon in 1989 without their knowledge and refused to vacate the property despite demands for value of the property, it cannot thus be determined whether the RTC or the MTC had original and
him to do so. They prayed that the private respondent vacate the property and restore possession exclusive jurisdiction over the petitioners’ action.
thereof to them.
We note that during the trial, the petitioners adduced in evidence Tax Declaration No. 8590-A,
When the petitioners filed their complaint on September 3, 1996, R.A. No. 7691 was already in showing that the assessed value of the property in 1991 was ₱5,950.00. The petitioners, however,
effect. Section 33(3) of the law provides: did not bother to adduce in evidence the tax declaration containing the assessed value of the
property when they filed their complaint in 1996. Even assuming that the assessed value of the
Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial property in 1991 was the same in 1995 or 1996, the MTC, and not the RTC had jurisdiction over
Courts in Civil Cases. – Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit the action of the petitioners since the case involved title to or possession of real property with an
Trial Courts shall exercise: assessed value of less than ₱20,000.00.23

… We quote with approval, in this connection, the CA’s disquisition:

(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of, real The determining jurisdictional element for the accion reinvindicatoria is, as RA 7691 discloses, the
property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the property or interest therein does assessed value of the property in question. For properties in the provinces, the RTC has
not exceed Twenty Thousand Pesos (₱20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such jurisdiction if the assessed value exceeds ₱20,000, and the MTC, if the value is ₱20,000 or below.
assessed value does not exceed Fifty Thousand Pesos (₱50,000.00) exclusive of interest, An assessed value can have reference only to the tax rolls in the municipality where the property
damages of whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That in cases is located, and is contained in the tax declaration. In the case at bench, the most recent tax
of land not declared for taxation purposes, the value of such property shall be determined by the declaration secured and presented by the plaintiffs-appellees is Exhibit B. The loose remark made
assessed value of the adjacent lots. by them that the property was worth 3.5 million pesos, not to mention that there is absolutely no
evidence for this, is irrelevant in the light of the fact that there is an assessed value. It is the
Section 19(2) of the law, likewise, provides that: amount in the tax declaration that should be consulted and no other kind of value, and as
appearing in Exhibit B, this is ₱5,950. The case, therefore, falls within the exclusive original
jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Court of Romblon which has jurisdiction over the territory where
Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. – The Regional Trial Court shall exercise exclusive original the property is located, and not the court a quo.24
jurisdiction:
It is elementary that the tax declaration indicating the assessed value of the property enjoys the

presumption of regularity as it has been issued by the proper government agency.25

(2) In all civil actions, which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest
Unavailing also is the petitioners’ argumentation that since the complaint, likewise, seeks the
therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds Twenty Thousand Pesos
recovery of damages exceeding ₱20,000.00, then the RTC had original jurisdiction over their
(₱20,000.00) or, for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value exceeds Fifty Thousand Pesos
actions. Section 33(3) of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended, quoted earlier, explicitly excludes from the
(₱50,000.00) except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings,
determination of the jurisdictional amount the demand for "interest, damages of whatever kind,
attorney’s fees, litigation expenses, and costs." This Court issued Administrative Circular No. 09-
94 setting the guidelines in the implementation of R.A. No. 7691, and paragraph 2 thereof states
that –

2. The exclusion of the term "damages of whatever kind" in determining the jurisdictional amount
under Section 19(8) and Section 33(1) of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended by R.A. 7691, applies to
cases where the damages are merely incidental to or a consequence of the main cause of action.
However, in cases where the claim for damages is the main cause of action, or one of the causes
of action, the amount of such claim shall be considered in determining the jurisdiction of the court.

Neither may the petitioners find comfort and solace in Section 19(8) of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended,
which states:

SEC. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. – Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
jurisdiction:

(8) In all other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind,
attorney's fees, litigation expenses, and costs or the value of the property in controversy exceeds
One Hundred Thousand Pesos (₱100,000.00) or, in such other cases in Metro Manila, where the
demand, exclusive of the above-mentioned items exceeds Two Hundred Thousand Pesos
(₱200,000.00).

The said provision is applicable only to "all other cases" other than an action involving title to, or
possession of real property in which the assessed value is the controlling factor in determining the
court’s jurisdiction. The said damages are merely incidental to, or a consequence of, the main
cause of action for recovery of possession of real property.26

Since the RTC had no jurisdiction over the action of the petitioners, all the proceedings therein,
including the decision of the RTC, are null and void. The complaint should perforce be
dismissed.27

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 63737 are AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines The MeTC then issued an Order4 dated July 4, 2002 denying the motion to dismiss, ruling that,
SUPREME COURT under Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129, as amended, the MeTC had exclusive original jurisdiction
Manila over actions involving title to or possession of real property of small value.

THIRD DIVISION Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration of said Order dated July 4, 2002 was denied.

G.R. No. 164560 July 22, 2009 Petitioners assailed the aforementioned Order by filing a petition for certiorari with the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 87. However, in its Decision 5 dated March 10, 2003, the
ANA DE GUIA SAN PEDRO and ALEJO DOPEÑO, Petitioners, RTC dismissed the petition, finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the MeTC Presiding
vs. Judge. The RTC sustained the MeTC ruling, stating that, in accordance with Section 33(3) of
HON. FATIMA G. ASDALA, in her capacity as the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7691, amending B.P. Blg. 129, the MeTC had jurisdiction over the
Court of Quezon City, Branch 87; HON. MANUEL TARO, in his capacity as the Presiding complaint for Accion Reivindicatoria, as it involves recovery of ownership and possession of real
Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 42; and the HEIRS OF property located in Quezon City, with an assessed value not exceeding ₱50,000.00. A Motion for
SPOUSES APOLONIO V. DIONISIO and VALERIANA DIONISIO (namely, ALLAN GEORGE R. Reconsideration6of the Decision was filed by petitioners, but was denied in an Order7 dated July 3,
DIONISIO and ELEANOR R. DIONISIO, herein represented by ALLAN GEORGE R. 2003.
DIONISIO), Respondents.
Petitioners then filed with the Court of Appeals another petition for certiorari, insisting that both the
DECISION MeTC and RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction by
not ordering the dismissal of the complaint for Accion Reivindicatoria, for lack of jurisdiction over
the same. In the assailed CA Resolution dated September 15, 2003, the CA dismissed the petition
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
outright, holding that certiorari was not available to petitioners as they should have availed
themselves of the remedy of appeal. Petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the resolution of
This resolves the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, praying that the dismissal was denied per Resolution8 dated June 1, 2004.
Resolutions1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated September 15, 2003 and June 1, 2004,
respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 78978, be reversed and set aside. Thus, petitioners filed the instant petition and, in support thereof, they allege that:

The antecedent facts are as follows.


THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OR IN (SIC) EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN DENYING THE PETITION
Sometime in July 2001, private respondents, heirs of spouses Apolonio and Valeriana Dionisio, FOR CERTIORARI AND FOR FAILURE TO RESOLVE THE ISSUE RAISED IN THE
filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Quezon City, Branch 42, a Complaint 2 against CERTIORARI REGARDING THE JURISDICTION OF THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT TO
herein petitioners and Wood Crest Residents Association, Inc., for Accion Reivindicatoria, Quieting TAKE COGNIZANCE OF A CASE OF ACCION REINVINDICATORIA.
of Title and Damages, with Prayer for Preliminary Mandatory Injunction. Private respondents
alleged that subject property located in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, with an assessed value of
THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT FATIMA GONZALES-ASDALA, AS PRESIDING
₱32,100.00, was titled in the name of spouses Apolonio and Valeriana Dionisio; but petitioners,
JUDGE OF RTC BRANCH 87, QUEZON CITY, ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
with malice and evident bad faith, claimed that they were the owners of a parcel of land that
AMOUNTING TO LACK OR IN EXCESS OF (SIC) JURISDICTION IN DISMISSING THE
encompasses and covers subject property. Private respondents had allegedly been prevented
PETITION FOR CERTIORARI AND IN RESOLVING THAT A CASE OF ACCION
from entering, possessing and using subject property. It was further alleged in the Complaint that REINVINDICATORIA IS WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT.
petitioners' Transfer Certificate of Title over their alleged property was spurious. Private
respondents then prayed that they be declared the sole and absolute owners of the subject
property; that petitioners be ordered to surrender possession of subject property to them; that THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT MANUEL TARO AS PRESIDING JUDGE MeTC,
petitioners and Wood Crest and/or its members be ordered to pay actual and moral damages, and BRANCH 42, QUEZON CITY, ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO
attorney's fees. LACK OR IN (SIC) EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN SO TAKING COGNIZANCE OF THE
COMPLAINT FOR ACCION REINVINDICATORIA IN CIVIL CASE NO. 27434 ENTITLED, "HEIRS
OF SPS. APOLONIO V. DIONISIO AND VALERIANA DIONISIO, ETC. VS. ANA DE GUIA SAN
Petitioners, for their part, filed a Motion to Dismiss3 said complaint on the ground that the MeTC PEDRO, ET. AL."9
had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action, as the subject of litigation was incapable
of pecuniary estimation.
The present Petition for Certiorari is doomed and should not have been entertained from the very
beginning.
The settled rule is that appeals from judgments or final orders or resolutions of the CA should be actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value does not exceed Fifty thousand pesos
by a verified petition for review on certiorari, as provided for under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of (₱50,000.00) exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses
Civil Procedure. Thus, in Pasiona, Jr. v. Court of Appeals,10 the Court expounded as follows: and costs." Thus, under the present law, original jurisdiction over cases the subject matter
of which involves "title to, possession of, real property or any interest therein" under
The aggrieved party is proscribed from assailing a decision or final order of the CA via Rule 65, Section 19(2) of B.P. 129 is divided between the first and second level courts, with the
because such recourse is proper only if the party has no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in assessed value of the real property involved as the benchmark. This amendment was
the course of law. In this case, petitioner had an adequate remedy, namely, a petition for review introduced to "unclog the overloaded dockets of the RTCs which would result in the speedier
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. A petition for review on certiorari, not a special administration of justice."13
civil action for certiorari was, therefore, the correct remedy.
Clearly, the RTC and the CA ruled correctly that the MeTC had jurisdiction over private
xxxx respondents' complaint for Accion Reivindicatoria.

Settled is the rule that where appeal is available to the aggrieved party, the special civil action for IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is DISMISSED for utter lack of merit. The Resolutions
certiorari will not be entertained – remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive, not of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 78978, dated September 15, 2003 and June 1, 2004,
alternative or successive. Hence, certiorari is not and cannot be a substitute for a lost appeal, are AFFIRMED.
especially if one's own negligence or error in one's choice of remedy occasioned such loss or
lapse. One of the requisites of certiorari is that there be no available appeal or any plain, speedy SO ORDERED.
and adequate remedy. Where an appeal was available, as in this case, certiorari will not
prosper, even if the ground therefor is grave abuse of discretion. Petitioner's resort to this
Court by Petition for Certiorari was a fatal procedural error, and the instant petition must, therefore,
fail.11

For the very same reason given above, the CA, therefore, acted properly when it dismissed the
petition for certiorari outright, on the ground that petitioners should have resorted to the remedy of
appeal instead of certiorari. Verily, the present Petition for Certiorari should not have been given
due course at all.

Moreover, since the period for petitioners to file a petition for review on certiorari had lapsed by the
time the instant petition was filed, the assailed CA Resolutions have attained finality.1avvphi1

Nevertheless, just to put the matter to rest, the Court reiterates the ruling in Heirs of Valeriano S.
Concha, Sr. v. Spouses Lumocso,12 to wit:

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."

xxxx

x x x Thus, under the old law, there was no substantial effect on jurisdiction whether a case is one,
the subject matter of which was incapable of pecuniary estimation, under Section 19(1) of B.P.
129, or one involving title to property under Section 19(2). The distinction between the two classes
became crucial with the amendment introduced by R.A. No. 7691 in 1994, which expanded the
exclusive original jurisdiction of the first level courts to include "all civil actions which involve title
to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the
property or interest therein does not exceed Twenty thousand pesos (₱20,000.00) or, in civil
Respondents appealed to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of La Trinidad, Benguet.

Republic of the Philippines After going over the MTC records and the parties’ respective memoranda, the RTC of La Trinidad,
SUPREME COURT Benguet, Branch 10, through Acting Presiding Judge Fernando P. Cabato (Judge Cabato), issued
Manila its October 22, 2003 Order,10declaring the MTC without jurisdiction over petitioner’s cause of
action. It further held that it will take cognizance of the case pursuant to Section 8, Rule 40 of the
SECOND DIVISION Rules of Court, which reads:

G.R. No. 174908 June 17, 2013 SECTION 8. Appeal from orders dismissing case without trial; lack of jurisdiction. – x x x

DARMA MASLAG, Petitioner, If the case was tried on the merits by the lower court without jurisdiction over the subject matter,
vs. the Regional Trial Court on appeal shall not dismiss the case if it has original jurisdiction thereof,
ELIZABETH MONZON, WILLIAM GESTON, and REGISTRY OF DEEDS OF but shall decide the case in accordance with the preceding section, without prejudice to the
BENGUET, Respondents. admission of amended pleadings and additional evidence in the interest of justice. Both parties
acknowledged receipt of the October 22, 2003 Order,11 but neither presented additional evidence
before the new judge, Edgardo B. Diaz De Rivera, Jr. (Judge Diaz De Rivera).12
DECISION
On May 4, 2004, Judge Diaz De Rivera issued a Resolution 13 reversing the MTC Decision. The
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
fallo reads as follows:

"It is incumbent upon x x x appellants to utilize the correct mode of appeal of the decisions of trial
WHEREFORE, the Judgment appealed from the Municipal Trial Court of La Trinidad, Benguet is
courts to the appellate courts. In the mistaken choice of their remedy, they can blame no one but
set aside. [Petitioner] is ordered to turn over the possession of the 4,415 square meter land she
themselves."1
presently occupies to [Monzon]. This case is remanded to the court a quo for further proceedings
to determine whether [Maslag] is entitled to the remedies afforded by law to a builder in good faith
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari2 of the May 31, 2006 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals for the improvements she constructed thereon.
(CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 83365, which dismissed petitioner Darma Maslag's (petitioner) ordinary
appeal to it for being an improper remedy. The Resolution disposed of the case as follows:
No pronouncement as to damages and costs.

WHEREFORE, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED, and the Appeal is hereby DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.14

SO ORDERED.4
Petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal15 from the RTC’s May 4, 2004 Resolution.

The Petition also assails the CA’s September 22, 2006 Resolution 5 denying petitioner’s Motion for
Petitioner assailed the RTC’s May 4, 2004 Resolution for reversing the MTC’s factual
Reconsideration.6
findings16 and prayed that the MTC Decision be adopted. Her prayer before the CA reads:

Factual Antecedents
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed that the decision of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 10 of La Trinidad, Benguet, appealed from be reversed in toto and
In 1998, petitioner filed a Complaint7 for reconveyance of real property with declaration of nullity of that the Honorable Court adopt the decision of the Municipal Trial Court. Further reliefs just and
original certificate of title (OCT) against respondents Elizabeth Monzon (Monzon), William Geston equitable under the premises are prayed for.17
and the Registry of Deeds of La Trinidad, Benguet. The Complaint was filed before the Municipal
Trial Court (MTC) of La Trinidad, Benguet.
Respondents moved to dismiss petitioner’s ordinary appeal for being the improper remedy. They
asserted that the proper mode of appeal is a Petition for Review under Rule 42 because the RTC
After trial, the MTC found respondent Monzon guilty of fraud in obtaining an OCT over petitioner’s rendered its May 4, 2004 Resolution in its appellate jurisdiction.18
property.8 It ordered her to reconvey the said property to petitioner, and to pay damages and costs
of suit.9
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The CA dismissed petitioner’s appeal. It observed that the RTC’s May 4, 2004 Resolution (the directed the parties to adduce further evidence if they so desire. The parties bowed to this ruling of
subject matter of the appeal before the CA) set aside an MTC Judgment; hence, the proper the RTC and, eventually, submitted the case for its decision after they had submitted their
remedy is a Petition for Review under Rule 42, and not an ordinary appeal.19 respective memoranda.

Petitioner sought reconsideration.20 She argued, for the first time, that the RTC rendered its May 4, We cannot, however, gloss over this jurisdictional faux pas of the RTC. Since it involves a
2004 Resolution in its original jurisdiction. She cited the earlier October 22, 2003 Order of the RTC question of jurisdiction, we may motu proprio review and pass upon the same even at this late
declaring the MTC without jurisdiction over the case. stage of the proceedings.25

The CA denied petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration in its September 22, 2006 Resolution: 21 In her Complaint26 for reconveyance of real property with declaration of nullity of OCT, petitioner
claimed that she and her father had been in open, continuous, notorious and exclusive possession
A perusal of the May 4, 2004 Resolution of the RTC, which is the subject matter of the appeal, of the disputed property since the 1940’s. She averred:
clearly reveals that it took cognizance of the MTC case in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.
Consequently, as We have previously enunciated, the proper remedy, is a petition for review 7. Sometime in the year 1987, Elizabeth Monzon, the owner of the adjacent parcel of land
under Rule 42 and not an ordinary appeal under Rule 41. being occupied by plaintiff [Maslag], informed the plaintiff that the respective parcels of
land being claimed by them can now be titled. A suggestion was, thereafter made, that
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED. The May those who were interested to have their lands titled, will contribute to a common fund for
31, 2006 Resolution of this Court is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. the surveying and subsequent titling of the land;

SO ORDERED.22 8. Since plaintiff had, for so long, yearned for a title to the land she occupies, she
contributed to the amount being requested by Elizabeth Monzon;
Hence this Petition wherein petitioner prays that the CA be ordered to take cognizance of her
appeal.23 9. A subdivision survey was made and in the survey, the respective areas of the plaintiff
and the defendants were defined and delimited – all for purposes of titling. x x x
Issues
10. But alas, despite the assurance of subdivided titles, when the title was finally issued
by the Registry of Deeds, the same was only in the name of Elizabeth Monzon and
Petitioner set forth the following issues in her Petition:
WILLIAM GESTON. The name of Darma Maslag was fraudulently, deliberately and in bad
faith omitted. Thus, the title to the property, to the extent of 18,295 square meters, was
WHETHER X X X THE COURT OF APPEALS WAS CORRECT IN DISMISSING THE APPEAL titled solely in the name of ELIZABETH MONZON.
FILED BY THE PETITIONER, CONSIDERING THAT THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH
10 OF LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET HELD THAT THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINT AS FILED BEFORE As a relief, petitioner prayed that Monzon be ordered to reconvey the portion of the property which
THE MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT OF LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET WAS DECIDED BY THE LATTER she claimed was fraudulently included in Monzon’s title. Her primary relief was to recover
WITHOUT ANY JURISDICTION AND, IN ORDERING THAT THE CASE SHALL BE DECIDED
ownership of real property. Indubitably, petitioner’s complaint involves title to real property. An
PURSUANT TO THE PROVISION OF SECTION 8 OF RULE 40 OF THE RULES OF COURT, IT
action "involving title to real property," on the other hand, was defined as an action where "the
DECIDED THE CASE NOT ON ITS APPELLATE JURISDICTION BUT ON ITS ORIGINAL
plaintiff’s cause of action is based on a claim that she owns such property or that she has the legal
JURISDICTION WHAT WILL BE THE EFFECT OF THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL rights to have exclusive control, possession, enjoyment, or disposition of the same." 27
COURT, BRANCH 10 OF LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET, WHEN IT DECIDED A CASE APPEALED
BEFORE IT UNDER THE PROVISION OF SECTION 8, RULE 40 OF THE RULES OF COURT
OF THE PHILIPPINES, AS TO THE COURSE OF REMEDY THAT MAY BE AVAILED OF BY Under the present state of the law, in cases involving title to real property, original and exclusive
THE PETITIONER – A PETITION FOR REVIEWUNDER RULE 42 OR AN ORDINARY APPEAL jurisdiction belongs to either the RTC or the MTC, depending on the assessed value of the subject
UNDER RULE 41.24 property.28 Pertinent provisions of Batas Pambansa Blg. (BP) 129,29 as amended by Republic Act
(RA) No. 7691,30 provides:
Our Ruling
Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. – Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
jurisdiction:
In its October 22, 2003 Order, the RTC declared that the MTC has no jurisdiction over the subject
matter of the case based on the supposition that the same is incapable of pecuniary estimation.
Thus, following Section 8, Rule 40 of the Rules of Court, it took cognizance of the case and
(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary jurisdiction. It is done by filing a Notice of Appeal with the RTC. The second mode is a petition for
estimation; review under Rule 42 in cases where the RTC exercised its appellate jurisdiction over MTC
decisions. It is done by filing a Petition for Review with the CA. Simply put, the distinction between
(2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any these two modes of appeal lies in the type of jurisdiction exercised by the RTC in the Order or
interest therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds Twenty Decision being appealed.
thousand pesos (₱20,000.00) or for civil actions in Metro Manila, where x x x the
assessed value of the property exceeds Fifty thousand pesos ([P]50,000.00) except As discussed above, the MTC has original and exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter of the
actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original case; hence, there is no other way the RTC could have taken cognizance of the case and review
jurisdiction over which is conferred upon Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, the court a quo’s Judgment except in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction. Besides, the new
and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts; RTC Judge who penned the May 4, 2004 Resolution, Judge Diaz de Rivera, actually treated the
case as an appeal despite the October 22, 2003 Order. He started his Resolution by stating, "This
xxxx is an appeal from the Judgment rendered by the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of La Trinidad
Benguet"35 and then proceeded to discuss the merits of the "appeal." In the dispositive portion of
said Resolution, he reversed the MTC’s findings and conclusions and remanded residual issues
SEC. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit
for trial with the MTC. Thus, in fact and in law, the RTC Resolution was a continuation of the
Trial Courts in Civil Cases. — Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal
proceedings that originated from the MTC. It was a judgment issued by the RTC in the exercise of
Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
its appellate jurisdiction. With regard to the RTC’s earlier October 22, 2003 Order, the same
should be disregarded for it produces no effect (other than to confuse the parties whether the RTC
xxxx was invested with original or appellate jurisdiction). It cannot be overemphasized that jurisdiction
over the subject matter is conferred only by law and it is "not within the courts, let alone the
(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of, real parties, to themselves determine or conveniently set aside."37 Neither would the active
property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the property or interest therein does participation of the parties nor estoppel operate to confer original and exclusive jurisdiction where
not exceed Twenty thousand pesos (₱20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such the court or tribunal only wields appellate jurisdiction over the case. 38 Thus, the CA is correct in
assessed value does not exceed Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000.00) x x x. holding that the proper mode of appeal should have been a Petition for Review under Rule 42 of
the Rules of Court, and not an ordinary appeal under Rule 41.
In the case at bench, annexed to the Complaint is a Declaration of Real Property31 dated
November 12, 1991, which was later marked as petitioner’s Exhibit "A",32 showing that the Seeing the futility of arguing against what the RTC actually did, petitioner resorts to arguing for
disputed property has an assessed value of ₱12,40033 only. Such assessed value of the property what the RTC should have done. She maintains that the RTC should have issued its May 4, 2004
is well within the jurisdiction of the MTC. In fine, the RTC, thru Judge Cabato, erred in applying Resolution in its original jurisdiction because it had earlier ruled that the MTC had no jurisdiction
Section 19(1) of BP 129 in determining which court has jurisdiction over the case and in over the cause of action.
pronouncing that the MTC is divested of original and exclusive jurisdiction.
Petitioner’s argument lacks merit. To reiterate, only statutes can confer jurisdiction. Court
This brings to fore the next issue of whether the CA was correct in dismissing petitioner’s appeal. issuances cannot seize or appropriate jurisdiction. It has been repeatedly held that "any judgment,
order or resolution issued without jurisdiction is void and cannot be given any effect." 39 By parity of
Section 2, Rule 50 of the Rules of Court provides for the dismissal of an improper appeal: reasoning, an order issued by a court declaring that it has original and exclusive jurisdiction over
the subject matter of the case when under the law it has none cannot likewise be given effect. It
amounts to usurpation of jurisdiction which cannot be countenanced. Since BP 129 already
SECTION 2. Dismissal of improper appeal to the Court of Appeals. – An appeal under Rule 41 apportioned the jurisdiction of the MTC and the RTC in cases involving title to property, neither the
taken from the Regional Trial Court to the Court of Appeals raising only questions of law shall be courts nor the petitioner could alter or disregard the same. Besides, in determining the proper
dismissed, issues purely of law not being reviewable by said court. Similarly, an appeal by notice mode of appeal from an RTC Decision or Resolution, the determinative factor is the type of
of appeal instead of by petition for review from the appellate judgment of a Regional Trial Court jurisdiction actually exercised by the RTC in rendering its Decision or Resolution. Was it rendered
shall be dismissed. by the RTC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, or in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction?
In short, we look at what type of jurisdiction was actually exercised by the RTC. We do not look
An appeal erroneously taken to the Court of Appeals shall not be transferred to the appropriate into what type of jurisdiction the RTC should have exercised. This is but logical. Inquiring into what
court but shall be dismissed outright.1âwphi1 (Emphasis supplied) the RTC should have done in disposing of the case is a question which already involves the merits
of the appeal, but we obviously cannot go into that where the mode of appeal was improper to
There are two modes of appealing an RTC decision or resolution on issues of fact and law.34 The begin with.
first mode is an ordinary appeal under Rule 41 in cases where the RTC exercised its original
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for Review is DENIED for lack of merit. The
assailed May 31, 2006 and September 22, 2006 Resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
CV No. 83365 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines (1) P11,000.00 per month as actual damages
SUPREME COURT by way of reasonable compensation for the
Manila use, enjoyment and/or rental of the subject
equipment from April 9, 1995 until it is
THIRD DIVISION repossessed by the plaintiff;

(2) P1,000.000.00 as exemplary damages and

G.R. No. 131755 October 25, 1999 (3) P50,000.00 as attorney's fees and costs.

MOVERS-BASECO INTEGRATED PORT SERVICES, INC., petitioner, IN THE ALTERNATIVE


vs.
CYBORG LEASING CORPORATION, respondent. In the event that the subject equipment could not be seized, that defendants be
jointly and severally ordered to pay the plaintiff its actual market value of One
Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00), Philippine Currency, exclusive of
the damages under paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) stated supra.
VITUG, J.:
Plaintiff further prays for other equitable reliefs and remedies. 1
The instant matter has been brought to this Court via a petition for review under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court to seek a reversal of the decision of the decision of the Regional Trial Court Upon application of Cyborg, a writ of replevin was issued following the filing of a P300,000.00
("RTC") of Manila, Branch 16, in Civil Case No. 97-85267.1âwphi1.nêt replevin bond. The directive was contained in the court's order of 27 August 1996, viz:

Cyborg Leasing Corporation ("Cyborg"), herein private respondent, filed on 22 August 1996 before WHEREFORE, pursuant to Sections 1 to 3, Rule 60 of the Revised Rules of
the Metropolitan Trial Court ("MTC") of Manila a case, captioned "Damages with Prayer for a Writ Court, a Writ of Replevin is hereby ordered issued requiring the Sheriff of this
of Replevin" (Civil Case No. 152839), against Conpac Warehousing, Inc. ("Conpac"), and herein Court to fortwith take possession of the property specified on the face of this
petitioner Movers-Baseco Integrated Port Services ("Movers"). The complaint alleged that Order after serving a copy of this Order to defendants, together with a copy of the
pursuant to a lease agreement, Cyborg had delivered one (1) NISSAN forklift to CONPAC. The application, affidavit, and bond. Accordingly, the Sheriff of this Court is hereby
lease agreement stipulated a monthly rental of P11,000.00 for the use of the equipment from its required to comply with Sections 4 to 8 of Rule 60.
date of delivery. Conpac supposedly failed and refused to pay the stipulated rentals starting April
1995 notwithstanding demands therefor. Sometime in May 1995, petitioner took control of the IT IS SO ORDERED. 2
operations of Conpac and seized all cargoes and equipment including the subject forklift.
Petitioner ignored Cyborg's demand for the return to it of the equipment and the formal disclaimer On 06 February 1997, petitioner was served with a copy of the summons and the writ of replevin.
of ownership made by CONPAC. In its Complaint, Cyborg prayed: On 14 February 1997, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the case on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction on the part of the MTC since the complaint had asked for, among other things, the
UPON RECEIPT AND BEFORE ANSWER following:

That an ORDER be issued directing the Sheriff or other officer of this Court to (a) . . . actual market value of the
forthwith take custody and possession of the subject equipment and to dispose it
in accordance with the Rules of Court. equipment (par. 8 of the complaint) — P150,000.00

AFTER TRIAL (b) . . . actual damages for use of the

That judgment be rendered for the plaintiff ordering the defendants, jointly and equipment at the rate of P11,000.00
severally, to pay the following amounts:
monthly from 09 April 1995 up to the
time possession was taken by the The MTC, in its order of 10 June 1997, denied Cyborg's motion for reconsideration, elaborating
that it —
plaintiff under the order of the Honorable
. . . is not unaware of Justice Regalado's discourse in his treatise that "replevin is
Court (par, 9(a) of the complaint) 242,000.00 available only where the principal relief sought in the action is the recovery of
personal property, the other reliefs, like damages, being merely incidental
thereto" (1 Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, 1988 5th rev. ed., p. 437)
(c) exemplary damages 1,000,000.00
which was utilized by plaintiffs counsel to secure re-evaluation of the challenged
Order (page 2, Additional Arguments Relative to the Motion for Reconsideration).
(d) attorney's fees 50,000.00 Yet, this Court cannot also ignore the language of Supreme Court Administrative
Circular No. 09-94 dated June 14, 1994 that if the principal supplication is for
——————— damages, or is one of the causes of action, like in this case, the amount of such
claim will spell the difference in jurisdiction between the Metropolitan Trial Court
Total P1,442,000.00 and the Regional Trial Court.

On 18 March 1997, the MTC issued an order dismissing the complaint for lack of jurisdiction, and WHEREFORE, the plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration and plaintiffs additional
ratiocinating, thus — arguments relative to the motion for reconsideration are hereby DENIED.
Accordingly, as prayed for by defendant's counsel on May 27, 1997, Sheriff
Abulencia is hereby directed to RETURN the Nissan Forklift described as
It is a fundamental axiom in adjective law that jurisdiction is conferred by law, and Equipment No. C-201, 2 Tonner, Engine No. G1-214511 FG 25 TCM to
where there is none, no agreement of the parties can vest competencia (Leonor defendant Movers-Baseco Integrated Port Services, Inc. 4
vs. Court of Appeals, 256 SCRA 69; (1996); Department of Health vs. National
Labor Commission, 251 SCRA 700; 707 (1995); 1 Regalado, Remedial Law
Compendium, 1988 5th rev. ed., p. 9). Cyborg did not succeed in its motion for clarificatory judgment which the court took as just a
second motion for reconsideration. Then, on 26 September 1997, Cyborg filed a petition
for certiorari and prohibition, with preliminary injunction and/or prayer for temporary restraining
Albeit the subject equipment has a market value of P150,000.00 (paragraph 8, order, against the MTC Judge, Conpac Warehousing and Movers, before the RTC of Manila (Civil
Complaint) and while it is true that interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's Case No. 97-85267). This petition was opposed by Movers as being tardily filed. Still, later, an
fees, litigation expenses and costs are excluded in ascertaining jurisdiction per answer to this petition was filed by Movers.
Section 3 of Republic Act No. 7691 and are considered only to determine the
filing fees, it is equally true that if the principal request in the complaint is for
damages, or one of the causes of action, the amount of such claim shall be On 20 October 1997, the RTC issued an order granting Cyborg's application for preliminary
determinative of competencia under Supreme Court Circular No. 09-94 dated injunction; the court said:
June 14, 1994.
The MTC dismissed the complaint filed by petitioner Cyborg for replevin of a
The amount sought to be recovered is the "amount of the demand" (Oteng leased Nissan forklift by defendant Compac and later taken into custody by
vs. Tan Kiem, Ta, 61 Phil. 87) and included in the computation of the defendant Movers-Baseco. Upon the MTC's denial of Cyborg's motion for
jurisdictional amount are attorney's fees recoverable as damages (Article 2208, reconsideration, Cyborg caused the filing of the instant petition.
New Civil Code), consequential damages, exemplary damages if the amount
thereof is specified in the complaint (Enerio vs. Alampay, 64 SCRA 142, and In its motion to dismiss before the MTC Manila, Movers-Baseco argued that the
moral damages, if quantified in the complaint (Quiason, Philippines Courts and MTC had no jurisdiction over this case because while the alleged amount of the
their Jurisdictions, 1986 ed., pp. 166-168). forklift is P150,000, together with the other amounts/damages claimed, the total
is beyond the MTC's jurisdiction.
Hence, on the basis of the clarification of the Supreme Court, the total claims of
the plaintiff are beyond the purview of this Court's jurisdiction. Cyborg argued that since the principal action is for replevin, the other amounts
being merely incidental, as the amount of P150,000 is within the MTC
Accordingly, Civil Case No. 152839 is hereby DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction jurisdiction, the latter is competent to take cognizance of the case.
as prayed for. 3
Such arguments, however, are better reserved for the adjudication on the merits (b) moreover, there is no bond posted by the petitioner for the issuance of the
of this petition. The issue now is whether there is sufficient legal ground to issue injunction. The bond referred to by this Court is the replevin bond posted in the
a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the MTC's order dated Metropolitan Trial Court. 6
June 10, 1997 which directed the delivery of the replevied forklift back to Movers-
Baseco. Ultimately, on 04 December 1997, the RTC promulgated its judgment in Civil Case No. 97-85267;
resolving the merits of the petition, it concluded:
The MTC complaint alleged that the rentals of P11,000 per month are not being
paid in the interim which lease contract is dated January 5, 1995 (Record, page WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petition for certiorari is hereby
35). GRANTED. Consequently,

It appears that Cyborg is the lessor-owner of the forklift. In the meantime, the 1. Having been rendered with grave abuse of discretion, the
rentals are not being paid it. As owner of the same, Cyborg has a clear right to orders of respondent judge dated March 18, (Annex A), June
the possession of the same during the pendency of this proceedings, the MTC 10, 1997 (Annex B), and August 22, 1997 (Annex C) are hereby
having already issued a writ of replevin to gain possession of the forklift which is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.
now in the possession of Cyborg. This status quo existing at the time this petition
was filed should be maintained pending the resolution of the case, otherwise,
great damage will be caused to Cyborg, the owner. 2. Respondent judge is ordered to refrain from implementing his
order dated June 10, 1997 for the delivery of the forklift to
respondent MOVERS-BASECO, making the writ of injunction
The 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure allow the ex parte issuance of a 20-day TRO, permanent.
the Rules silent as to whether a bond should cover the 20-day TRO, as it is the
writ of preliminary injunction that requires the filing of an injunction bond. Hence,
3. Remanding the case to the MTC Manila for trial on the merits.
this Court issued a TRO until October 22, 1997 (Rule 58, Section 5), otherwise,
with the rentals in the interim being unpaid, Cyborg is destined to suffer GREAT
damage (not necessarily irreparable), the Rule expressly mentioning great OR Let a certified copy of this judgment be served upon the public respondent MTC
irreparable injury.1âwphi1.nêt Manila judge. Serve likewise a copy of this judgment upon the respondent
Sheriff, counsel for petitioner, counsel for CONPAC, and counsel for MOVERS-
BASECO. 7
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, let a writ of preliminary injunction
issue against the respondents. The public and private respondents, the sheriff
concerned, and any person acting for and in their behalf are restrained from Petitioner timely resorted to this Court, via the instant petition for review, assailing the decision of
implementing the order of the MTC Manila dated June 10, 1997 directing the the RTC and submitting to the Court the following legal issues: Whether or not —
delivery of the forklift back to the private respondent Movers-Baseco until the
Court resolves the petition with finality. (1) the MTC had jurisdiction over respondent's complaint;

Serve a copy of this order, together with a copy of the affidavit, upon the public (2) the MTC's order of dismissal had become final and executory;
and private respondents. No additional injunction bond is being required because
Cyborg already filed an injunction bond before the MTC Manila. 5 (3) Cyborg's special civil action of certiorari and prohibition before the RTC can be a substitute for
a lost appeal; and
Feeling aggrieved, petitioner filed before the RTC on 24 October 1997 this manifestation:
(4) a temporary restraining order or preliminary writ of injunction can be issued without an
For accuracy, respondent Movers-Baseco would like to state that: injunction bond apart from the replevin bond.

(a) respondent Movers-Baseco never took custody of the forklift after the The threshold issue concerns MTC's jurisdiction over the action filed by Cyborg in Civil Case No.
respondent Sheriff took possession of the same pursuant to the writ of replevin 152839 for "Damages with prayer for a writ of replevin." Hardly disputable is that the jurisdiction of
issued by the MTC; and the court and the nature of the action must be determined by the averments in the complaint and
the character of the relief sought8 vis-a-vis the corresponding provisions of the law involved. 9
Sec. 33 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by Republic Act No. 7691, states: the actual damages in the form of unpaid rentals were just incident of the action for the return of
the forklift, considering that private respondent specifically sought in the complaint not only the
Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts; Municipal Trial Courts and seizure of the forklift from petitioner-Movers, which took control of the operations of Conpac, but
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Civil Cases. — Metropolitan Trial Courts, likewise the payment of unpaid and outstanding rentals. Verily, the Metropolitan Trial Court's
Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise: orders of 18 March 1997 and 10 June 1997 dismissing the complaint and denying the motion of
private respondent, respectively, were properly decreed.
(1) Exclusive original jurisdiction over civil actions and probate proceedings
testate and intestate, including the grant of provisional remedies in proper cases, Another set back for Cyborg's cause was the fact that its petition for certiorari, with preliminary
where the value of the personal property, estate, or amount of the demand does injunction and prayer for temporary restraining order, filed before the RTC should not have been
not exceed, or amount of the demand does not exceed One hundred thousand allowed not only for being late but also for not being a valid substitute for a lost appeal. A petition
pesos (P100,000.00) or, in Metro Manila where such personal property, estate, for certiorari under the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure should be filed within 60 days from receipt of
or amount of the demand does not exceed Two hundred thousand pesos the assailed decision, order or resolution. Cyborg's petition with the RTC was filed fourteen (14)
(P200,000.00), exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, days late 10 on 26 September 1997, or on the 74th day from its receipt of the order denying the
litigation expenses, and costs, the amount of which must be specifically motion for reconsideration on 14 July 1997. The RTC acted on the mistaken notion that the 1997
alleged: Provided, That interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, Rules of Civil Procedure took effect only in October 1997; in fact, the new rules became operative
litigation expenses, and costs shall be included in the determination of the filing since 01 July 1997.
fees: Provided, further, That where there are several claims or causes of actions
between the same or different parties, embodied in the same complaint, the Having thus concluded, the Court need not take up the other issues raised.
amount of the demand shall be the totality of the claims in all the causes of
action, irrespective of whether the causes of action arose out of the same or WHEREFORE, the petition for review is GRANTED, and the decision of the Regional Trial Court
different transactions; of Manila in Civil Case No. 97-85267 is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The orders dated 18 March
1997, 10 June 1997 and 22 August 1997 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila in Civil Case
Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 09-94, in turn, provides: No. 152839 for "Damages With Prayer for a Writ of Replevin" are reinstated. Civil Case No.
152839 for damages is ordered DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction.1âwphi1.nêt
SUBJECT: Guidelines in the Implementation of the Republic Act No. 7691,
Entitled "An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, SO ORDERED.
Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, Amending For the
Purpose Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise Known As the Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980."

xxx xxx xxx

2. the exclusion of the term "damages" of whatever kind in determining the


jurisdictional amount under Section 19(8) and Section 33(1) of B.P. Blg. 129, as
amended by R.A. No. 7691, applies to cases where the damages are merely
incidental to or a consequence of the main cause of action. However, in cases
where the claim for damages is the main cause of action, or one of the causes of
action, the amount of such claim shall be considered in determining the
jurisdiction of the court.

The complaint filed by Cyborg with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila prayed for the return of
the Nissan Forklift to it, as owner and as lessor pursuant to a lease agreement executed by it in
favor of Conpac, or, in the alternative for the payment of P150,000.00 (the actual market value of
the forklift), plus damages, plus the amount of unpaid lease, starting 09 April 1995 at P11,000.00
per month, which as of the time of the filing of the complaint on 22 August 1996 had amounted to
P180,000.00 which, together with the value of the forklift, reach the sum of P230,000.00 excluding
the amount of damages and attorney's fees likewise claimed. It would be incorrect to argue that
Republic of the Philippines Subsequently, on March 8, 2000, petitioners, assisted by a new counsel, filed a motion to dismiss
SUPREME COURT on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim, alleging that the Municipal
Trial Court (MTC) has jurisdiction over the case since the principal amount prayed for, in the
SECOND DIVISION amount of ₱71,392.00, falls within its jurisdiction.3 Private respondent opposed petitioners’ motion
to dismiss.4 On March 24, 2000, petitioners filed a supplement in support of their motion to
dismiss.5
G.R. No. 143951 October 25, 2005

On April 17, 2000, the respondent RTC Judge, Edelwina Catubig-Pastoral, issued the first
Norma Mangaliag and Narciso Solano, Petitioners,
assailed Order denying petitioners’ motion to dismiss,6 relying upon the mandate of Administrative
vs. Circular No. 09-94, paragraph 2 of which reads:
Hon. Edelwina Catubig-Pastoral, Judge of the Regional Trial Court, 1st Judicial Region, San
Carlos City, (Pangasinan), Branch 56 and Apolinario Serquina, Jr., Respondents.
2. The exclusion of the term "damages of whatever kind in determining the jurisdictional amount
under Section 19 (8) and Section 33 (1) of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended by R.A. No. 7691, applied
DECISION
to cases where the damages are merely incidental to or a consequence of the main cause of
action. However, in cases where the claim for damages is the main cause of action, or one of the
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: causes of action, the amount of such claim shall be considered in determining the jurisdiction of
the court.
Before us is a petition for certiorari, with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order,
to set aside the Order dated April 17, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 56, San The respondent RTC Judge also cited the 1999 case of Ong vs. Court of Appeals,7 where an
Carlos City in Civil Case No. SCC-2240, which denied petitioners’ motion to dismiss; and the action for damages due to a vehicular accident, with prayer for actual damages of ₱10,000.00 and
Order dated June 13, 2000, which denied petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. moral damages of ₱1,000,000.00, was tried in a RTC.

The factual background of the case is as follows: On May 19, 2000, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration 8 but it was denied by the
respondent RTC Judge in her second assailed Order, dated June 13, 2000.9
On May 10, 1999, private respondent Apolinario Serquina, Jr. filed before the RTC a complaint for
damages against petitioners Norma Mangaliag and Narciso Solano. The complaint alleges that: Hence, the present petition for certiorari, with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining
on January 21, 1999, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., private respondent, together with Marco de Leon, order.10
Abner Mandapat and Manuel de Guzman, was on board a tricycle driven by Jayson Laforte; while
in Pagal, San Carlos City, a dump truck owned by petitioner Mangaliag and driven by her
On August 9, 2000, the Court resolved to issue the temporary restraining order prayed for by
employee, petitioner Solano, coming from the opposite direction, tried to overtake and bypass a
petitioners. Consequently, the respondent RTC Judge desisted from hearing further Civil Case No.
tricycle in front of it and thereby encroached the left lane and sideswiped the tricycle ridden by SCC-2240.11
private respondent; due to the gross negligence, carelessness and imprudence of petitioner
Solano in driving the truck, private respondent and his co-passengers sustained serious injuries
and permanent deformities; petitioner Mangaliag failed to exercise due diligence required by law in Petitioners propound this issue for consideration: In an action for recovery of damages, does the
the selection and supervision of her employee; private respondent was hospitalized and spent amount of actual damages prayed for in the complaint provide the sole test for determining the
₱71,392.00 as medical expenses; private respondent sustained a permanent facial deformity due court’s jurisdiction, or is the total amount of all the damages claimed, regardless of kind and
to a fractured nose and suffers from severe depression as a result thereof, for which he should be nature, such as moral, exemplary, nominal damages, and attorney’s fees, etc., to be computed
compensated in the amount of ₱500,000.00 by way of moral damages; as a further result of his collectively with the actual damages to determine what court – whether the MTC or the RTC – has
hospitalization, private respondent lost income of ₱25,000.00; private respondent engaged the jurisdiction over the action?
services of counsel on a contingent basis equal to 25% of the total award.1
Petitioners maintain that the court’s jurisdiction should be based exclusively on the amount of
On July 21, 1999, petitioners filed their answer with counterclaim denying that private respondent actual damages, excluding therefrom the amounts claimed as moral, exemplary, nominal
has a cause of action against them. They attributed fault or negligence in the vehicular accident on damages and attorney’s fee, etc. They submit that the specification in Administrative Circular No.
the tricycle driver, Jayson Laforte, who was allegedly driving without license. 2 09-94 that "in cases where the claim for damages is the main cause of action. . . the amount of
such claim shall be considered in determining the jurisdiction of the court"signifies that the court’s
jurisdiction must be tested solely by the amount of that damage which is principally and primarily
Following pre-trial conference, trial on the merits ensued. When private respondent rested his demanded, and not the totality of all the damages sought to be recovered.
case, petitioner Solano testified in his defense.
Petitioners insist that private respondent’s claim for actual damages in the amount of ₱71,392.00 Lastly, he asserts that it is too late in the day for petitioners to question the jurisdiction of the RTC
is the principal and primary demand, the same being the direct result of the alleged negligence of since they are estopped from invoking this ground. He contends that after actively taking part in
petitioners, while the moral damages for ₱500,000.00 and attorney’s fee, being the consequent the trial proceedings and presenting a witness to seek exoneration, it would be unfair and legally
effects thereof, may prosper only upon a prior finding by the court of the existence of petitioners’ improper for petitioners to seek the dismissal of the case.
negligence that caused the actual damages. Considering that the amount of actual damages
claimed by private respondent in Civil Case No. SCC-2240 does not exceed ₱200,000.00, which At the outset, it is necessary to stress that generally a direct recourse to this Court is highly
was then the jurisdictional amount of the MTC, the jurisdiction over the case clearly pertains to the improper, for it violates the established policy of strict observance of the judicial hierarchy of
MTC, and not to the RTC. Therefore, the RTC should have dismissed the case for lack of courts. Although this Court, the RTCs and the Court of Appeals (CA) have concurrent jurisdiction
jurisdiction. Petitioners cite as relevant the case of Movers-Baseco Integrated Port Services, Inc. to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction,
vs. Cyborg Leasing Corporation12 wherein the Court, in disposing of the jurisdictional issue, limited such concurrence does not give the petitioner unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum. This
its consideration only to the actual or compensatory damages. Court is a court of last resort, and must so remain if it is to satisfactorily perform the functions
assigned to it by the Constitution and immemorial tradition.13
Furthermore, while admitting that the defense of lack of jurisdiction was only raised during the trial,
petitioners nevertheless contend that jurisdiction may be raised anytime, even after judgment, but Thus, this Court, as a rule, will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be
before it is barred by laches or estoppel. They submit that they seasonably presented the obtained in the appropriate courts, and exceptional and compelling circumstances, such as cases
objection to the RTC’s lack of jurisdiction, i.e., during the trial stage where no decision had as yet of national interest and of serious implications, justify the availment of the extraordinary remedy of
been rendered, must less one unfavorable to them. writ of certiorari, calling for the exercise of its primary jurisdiction.14 Such exceptional and
compelling circumstances were present in the following cases: (a) Chavez vs. Romulo15 on the
At any rate, they argue that when the jurisdictional flaw is evident from the record of the case, the citizens’ right to bear arms; (b) Government of the United States of America vs. Purganan16 on bail
court may, even without the urgings of the parties, take judicial notice of such fact, and thereupon in extradition proceedings; (c) Commission on Elections vs. Quijano-Padilla17 on a government
dismiss the case motu proprio. Thus, even if lack of jurisdiction was not initially raised in a motion contract on the modernization and computerization of the voters’ registration list; (d) Buklod ng
to dismiss or in the answer, no waiver may be imputed to them. Kawaning EIIB vs. Zamora[18] on the status and existence of a public office; and (e) Fortich vs.
Corona19 on the so-called "Win-Win Resolution" of the Office of the President which modified the
Private respondent, on the other hand, submits that in an action for recovery of damages arising approval of the conversion to agro-industrial area of a 144-hectare land.
from a tortious act, the claim of moral damages is not merely an incidental or consequential claim
but must be considered in the amount of demand which will determine the court’s jurisdiction. He Be that as it may, the judicial hierarchy of courts is not an iron-clad rule. It generally applies to
argues that the position taken by petitioners is a misreading of paragraph 2 of Administrative cases involving warring factual allegations. For this reason, litigants are required to repair to the
Circular No. 09-94. The clear and explicit language of said circular leaves no room for doubt; trial courts at the first instance to determine the truth or falsity of these contending allegations on
hence, needs no interpretation. the basis of the evidence of the parties. Cases which depend on disputed facts for decision cannot
be brought immediately before appellate courts as they are not triers of facts. 20 Therefore, a strict
He further submits that petitioners’ reliance on Movers-Baseco Integrated Port Services, Inc. is application of the rule of hierarchy of courts is not necessary when the cases brought before the
misplaced since that case is for recovery of the value of vehicle and unpaid rentals on the lease of appellate courts do not involve factual but legal questions.
the same. He contends that Section 18, paragraph 8 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by
Republic Act No. 7691, upon which petitioners anchor their stand, refers to all the demands In the present case, petitioners submit a pure question of law involving the interpretation and
involving collection of sums of money based on obligations arising from contract, express or application of paragraph 2 of Administrative Circular No. 09-94. This legal question and in order to
implied, where the claim for damages is just incidental thereto and it does not apply to actions for avoid further delay are compelling enough reasons to allow petitioners’ invocation of this Court’s
damages based on obligations arising from quasi-delict where the claim for damages of whatever jurisdiction in the first instance.
kind is the main action.
Before resolving this issue, the Court shall deal first on the question of estoppel posed by private
Private respondent also contends that, being incapable of pecuniary computation, the amount of respondent. Private respondent argues that the defense of lack of jurisdiction may be waived by
moral damages that he may be awarded depends on the sound discretion of the trial court, not estoppel through active participation in the trial. Such, however, is not the general rule but an
restrained by the limitation of the jurisdictional amount. Should the Court follow petitioners’ line of exception, best characterized by the peculiar circumstances in Tijam vs.
reasoning, private respondent argues that it will result in an absurd situation where he can only be Sibonghanoy.21 In Sibonghanoy, the party invoking lack of jurisdiction did so only after fifteen
awarded moral damages of not more than ₱200,000.00 although he deserves more than this years and at a stage when the proceedings had already been elevated to the CA. Sibonghanoy is
amount, taking into consideration his physical suffering, as well as social and financial standing, an exceptional case because of the presence of laches, which was defined therein as failure or
simply because his claim for actual damages does not exceed ₱200,000.00 which amount falls neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due
under the jurisdiction of the MTC. diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is the negligence or omission to assert a right
within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned file the appropriate motion to dismiss. Hence, finding the pivotal element of laches to be absent,
it or declined to assert it.22 the Sibonghanoy doctrine does not control the present controversy. Instead, the general rule that
the question of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings must apply.
As enunciated in Calimlim vs. Ramirez,23 this Court held: Therefore, petitioners are not estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC.

A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in decisions so numerous to In any event, the petition for certiorari is bereft of merit.
cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter of the action is a matter of law and
may not be conferred by consent or agreement of the parties. The lack of jurisdiction of a court Section 1 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7691, which took effect on April 15, 1994, provides inter
may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified alia that where the amount of the demand in civil cases exceeds ₱100,000.00, 26 exclusive of
by recent pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses, and costs, the exclusive
of Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however, that the holding in said case had been applied to jurisdiction thereof is lodged with in the RTC. Under Section 3 of the same law, where the amount
situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. The exceptional circumstances involved of the demand in the complaint does not exceed ₱100,000.00, exclusive of interest, damages of
in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure from the accepted concept of non-waivability of whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses, and costs, the exclusive jurisdiction over the
objection to jurisdiction has been ignored and, instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly same is vested in the Metropolitan Trial Court, MTC and Municipal Circuit Trial Court. The
upheld that rendered the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but rather the jurisdictional amount was increased to ₱200,000.00,27 effective March 20, 1999, pursuant to
general rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time honored principle that the issue of Section 528 of R.A. No. 7691 and Administrative Circular No. 21-99.
jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.
In Administrative Circular No. 09-94 dated March 14, 1994, the Court specified the guidelines in
... the implementation of R.A. No. 7691. Paragraph 2 of the Circular provides:

It is neither fair nor legal to bind a party by the result of a suit or proceeding which was taken 2. The exclusion of the term "damages of whatever kind in determining the jurisdictional amount
cognizance of in a court which lacks jurisdiction over the same irrespective of the attendant under Section 19 (8) and Section 33 (1) of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended by R.A. No. 7691, applied
circumstances. The equitable defense of estoppel requires knowledge or consciousness of the to cases where the damages are merely incidental to or a consequence of the main cause of
facts upon which it is based. The same thing is true with estoppel by conduct which may be action. However, in cases where the claim for damages is the main cause of action, or one of
asserted only when it is shown, among others, that the representation must have been made with the causes of action, the amount of such claim shall be considered in determining the
knowledge of the facts and that the party to whom it was made is ignorant of the truth of the matter jurisdiction of the court. (Emphasis supplied)
(De Castro vs. Gineta, 27 SCRA 623). The filing of an action or suit in a court that does not
possess jurisdiction to entertain the same may not be presumed to be deliberate and intended to The well-entrenched principle is that the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter of the
secure a ruling which could later be annulled if not favorable to the party who filed such suit or action is determined by the material allegations of the complaint and the law, irrespective of
proceeding. Instituting such an action is not a one-sided affair. It can just as well be prejudicial to whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover all or some of the claims or reliefs sought
the one who file the action or suit in the event that he obtains a favorable judgment therein which therein.29 In the present case, the allegations in the complaint plainly show that private respondent
could also be attacked for having been rendered without jurisdiction. The determination of the seeks to recover not only his medical expenses, lost income but also damages for physical
correct jurisdiction of a court is not a simple matter. It can raise highly debatable issues of such suffering and mental anguish due to permanent facial deformity from injuries sustained in the
importance that the highest tribunal of the land is given the exclusive appellate jurisdiction to vehicular accident. Viewed as an action for quasi-delict, the present case falls squarely within the
entertain the same. The point simply is that when a party commits error in filing his suit or purview of Article 2219 (2),30 which provides for the payment of moral damages in cases of quasi-
proceeding in a court that lacks jurisdiction to take cognizance of the same, such act may not at delict causing physical injuries.
once be deemed sufficient basis of estoppel. It could have been the result of an honest mistake or
of divergent interpretations of doubtful legal provisions. If any fault is to be imputed to a party
Private respondent’s claim for moral damages of ₱500,000.00 cannot be considered as merely
taking such course of action, part of the blame should be placed on the court which shall entertain
incidental to or a consequence of the claim for actual damages. It is a separate and distinct cause
the suit, thereby lulling the parties into believing that they pursued their remedies in the correct
of action or an independent actionable tort. It springs from the right of a person to the physical
forum. Under the rules, it is the duty of the court to dismiss an action "whenever it appears that
integrity of his or her body, and if that integrity is violated, damages are due and
court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter." (Section 2, Rule 9, Rules of Court) Should the
assessable.31 Hence, the demand for moral damages must be considered as a separate cause of
Court render a judgment without jurisdiction, such judgment may be impeached or annulled for
action, independent of the claim for actual damages and must be included in determining the
lack of jurisdiction (Sec. 30, Rule 132, Ibid), within ten (10) years from the finality of the same (Art.
jurisdictional amount, in clear consonance with paragraph 2 of Administrative Circular No. 09-94.
1144, par. 3, Civil Code).24

If the rule were otherwise, i.e., the court’s jurisdiction in a case of quasi-delict causing physical
In the present case, no judgment has yet been rendered by the RTC.25 As a matter of fact, as
injuries would only be based on the claim for actual damages and the complaint is filed in the
soon as the petitioners discovered the alleged jurisdictional defect, they did not fail or neglect to
MTC, it can only award moral damages in an amount within its jurisdictional limitations, a situation
not intended by the framers of the law.

It must be remembered that moral damages, though incapable of pecuniary estimation, are
designed to compensate and alleviate in some way the physical suffering, mental anguish, fright,
serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and
similar injury unjustly caused a person.32 Moral damages are awarded to enable the injured party
to obtain means, diversions or amusements that will serve to alleviate the moral suffering he/she
has undergone, by reason of the defendant’s culpable action. Its award is aimed at restoration, as
much as possible, of the spiritual status quo ante; thus, it must be proportionate to the suffering
inflicted. Since each case must be governed by its own peculiar circumstances, there is no hard
and fast rule in determining the proper amount.33

The petitioners’ reliance in the case of Movers-Baseco Integrated Port Services, Inc. vs. Cyborg
Leasing Corporation34 is misplaced. The claim for damages therein was based on a breach of a
contract of lease, not a quasi-delict causing physical injuries, as in this case. Besides, there was
no claim therein for moral damages. Furthermore, moral damages are generally not recoverable in
damage actions predicated on a breach of contract in view of the provisions of Article 2220 35 of the
Civil Code.

In view of the foregoing, the Court is convinced that the respondent RTC Judge committed no
grave abuse of discretion in issuing the assailed Orders dated April 17, 2000 and June 13, 2000.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The temporary
restraining order issued by this Court on August 9, 2000 is LIFTED.

The Regional Trial Court, Branch 56, San Carlos City is DIRECTED to continue with the trial
proceedings in Civil Case No. SCC-2240 and resolve the case with dispatch.

Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION 7. Although during and after the lifetime of the parties’ parents, defendant Alfredo held
family property in trust for Luciano Sr. and Consolacion, and for his brothers and sisters,
G.R. No. 138542 August 25, 2000 defendant Alfredo gave the latter no accounting at any point in time contrary to what their
father intended.
ALFREDO P. PASCUAL and LORETA S. PASCUAL, petitioners,
vs. 8. Because from 1969 to 1990, defendant Alfredo turned over zero profit to plaintiff
COURT OF APPEALS (former Seventh Division), ERNESTO P. PASCUAL and HON. Ernesto as far as his share was concerned, plaintiff tried to arrange a meeting between
ADORACION ANGELES, in her capacity as Presiding Judge, RTC, Kaloocan City, Branch them about the matter of accounting -- without any success during a 5-year period (1990-
121, respondents. 1995). Defendant Alfredo would each time be sensitive, evasive, and drunk, so nothing
became of those efforts.
DECISION
....
MENDOZA, J.:
10. Since defendant Alfredo was President of L.R. Pascual & Sons, Inc. which held family
properties in Quezon City, Manila, and Baguio, plaintiff wanted this matter taken up in a
The question for decision in this case is whether an action for reconveyance of a piece of land and meeting he requested with defendant Alfredo. In addition, plaintiff asked defendant
for accounting and damages which private respondent Ernesto P. Pascual brought against his Alfredo for an accounting in L.R. Pascual & Co., a registered partnership distinct from
brother, petitioner Alfredo P. Pascual, and the latter’s wife involves an intra-corporate dispute L.R. Pascual & Sons, Inc. which would be discussed in that requested meeting.
beyond the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 121, Kalookan City in which it was filed.
The trial court held that the action did not constitute an intra-corporate dispute and, therefore,
denied petitioners’ motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals sustained the order of the trial court. ....
Hence, this petition for review of the decision1 of the appellate court. We affirm.
12. Because of defendant Alfredo’s icy silence and unmistakable attempts to claim the lid
The facts are as follows: on plaintiff Ernesto Pascual, plaintiff conducted an inquiry. As a result, he discovered that
when defendant Alfredo caused the dissolution of Phillens Manufacturing Corporation by
asking for a shortening of its term, defendant Alfredo represented in an affidavit of
On February 7, 1996, private respondent Ernesto P. Pascual filed a complaint in the Regional Trial undertaking that
Court for "accounting, reconveyance of real property based on implied trust resulting from fraud,
declaration of nullity of TCT, recovery of sums of money, and damages" against his brother,
petitioner Alfredo, and the latter’s wife Loreta Pascual. The pertinent parts of his complaint read: (a) he is the owner of the majority of the outstanding capital stock of the
corporation;
3. Plaintiff Ernesto and defendant Alfredo Pascual are full blood brothers. They, along
with Araceli P. Castro, Ester P. Abad, Edgardo P. Pascual, Sr. (now deceased), Corazon (b) that the corporation has no obligation, whether existing or contingent, direct or
P. Montenegro, Leonor P. Rivera, Luciano Pascual, Jr., and Teresita P. Manuel, are indirect, due or payable to any person whomsoever, natural or juridical;
legitimate children of Luciano Pascual, Sr. and Consolacion Pascual. Defendant Loreta
Pascual is the wife of defendant Alfredo. (c) he is assuming and will pay any and all valid claims or demands by creditors,
stockholders, or any third person or persons, presented after the dissolution of
4. Between 1963 to 1975, Luciano R. Pascual, Sr. acquired substantial shares in Phillens the corporation.
Manufacturing Corp. Luciano, Sr. parceled out and assigned a good number of these
shares in the names of his children. 13. By taking a position adverse to the trust and to his family’s, defendant Alfredo, greatly
profiting from Phillens, now held he owned majority and will undertake to pay any
5. With Luciano’s substantial shareholdings, his eldest son, defendant Alfredo became claimant or creditor. Yet, defendant Alfredo had not paid plaintiff what was properly owing
President, General Manager, and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Phillens. Plaintiff was to him.
only 20 years old then.
14. Plaintiff also discovered, to his dismay, that defendant Alfredo had written an October
6. Defendant Alfredo was also president of L.R. Pascual & Sons, Inc. which held 8, 1990 letter to the Securities & Exchange Commission falsely representing as follows:
substantial shares in Phillens. (Plaintiff is a stockholder of L. R. Pascual & Sons, Inc.)
October 8, 1990
Examiner & Appraiser Dept. [sic] became owner by operation of law of 1/9 of his parents’ stockholdings since they died
Securities & Exchange Commission intestate without obligations.
E. de los Santos Avenue
Mandaluyong, Metro Manila 5. With Luciano’s substantial shareholdings, defendant Alfredo became President,
General Manager, and Vice-Chairman of Phillens in 1968 or 1969, positions which he
Gentlemen: held until 1990 when Phillens was dissolved.

This will certify that the ₱3.3-million notes payable as shown in the balance sheet of 6. Defendant Alfredo held in trust for the benefit of Luciano Sr. and Consolacion, and for
Phillens Manufacturing Corporation as of June 30, 1990, is [sic] my personal advances. his brothers and sisters, plaintiff included, said stockholdings and the properties of
Phillens.
Since I am assuming the assets and liabilities of the company, to which all the
stockholders have consented, I am likewise giving my consent to the dissolution of the 7. As trustee defendant Alfredo did not turn over the properties and sums due to plaintiff
corporation. and the former even failed to account for the trust estate and its earnings, to the grave
prejudice of the latter.
Very truly yours,
ALFREDO P. PASCUAL 8. One of the properties composing the trust estate, TCT No. C-28572 with an area of
7,528 square meters located in Caloocan City, was registered in the name of defendants
16. Further, on inquiry, plaintiff discovered that last April 3, 1989, defendant Alfredo under devious and fraudulent circumstances engineered by Alfredo.
caused an appraisal of the fair market value of the land and buildings of Phillens in
Kalookan, excluding equipment, remaining stock and inventory. Aware that Cuervo had 8.1. Said property was appraised conservatively to have a market value of no
appraised such properties at ₱10,977,000 as of March 10, 1989, defendant Alfredo less than P10.9 Million in 1989.
hatched a ploy to buy for himself such properties at only ₱4.5 million. (A copy of the April
3, 1989 Cuervo report addressed to defendant Alfredo is here attached as Annex A.) 8.2 Although Alfredo was fully aware of its market value, Alfredo schemed,
manipulated and succeeded in transferring title to and possession in his favor of
18. To consummate his fraudulent design, defendant Alfredo caused in bad faith the TCT No. C-28572 in 1989 for an alleged consideration of P4.5 Million, in violation
cancellation of TCT C-28572 and the issuance of TCT 215804 in his and defendant of his duties as trustee.
Loreta’s name (copy of which is here attached as Annex D). That TCT is of course void,
proceeding as it does from a void transfer, which constitutes fraud and a breach of trust. 8.3 In order to cover-up such serious breach of trust, Alfredo maliciously caused
the dissolution of Phillens in 1990, shortly after ownership was transferred to him,
On March 21, 1996, petitioners filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint raises and further caused the destruction of Phillens records thereby rendering its
an intra-corporate controversy between the parties over which original and exclusive jurisdiction is stocks valueless after its corporate affairs were wound up in 1993.
vested in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). At first, the trial court granted
petitioners’ motion and dismissed the complaint on the ground that the complaint stemmed from 8.4 Defendants presently appear as legal and beneficial owners by virtue of TCT
alleged fraudulent acts and misrepresentations of petitioner Alfredo P. Pascual as a corporate No. C-215804.
officer of Phillens Manufacturing Corp. (Phillens) and thus the SEC had jurisdiction over the case.
However, on respondent’s motion, the trial court reconsidered its order and reinstated
Petitioners reiterate their contention that the complaint against them involves an intra-corporate
respondent’s action. In an order, dated September 29, 1997, the trial court held that, since the
dispute cognizable by the SEC and, therefore, the Regional Trial Court should have dismissed the
corporation had been dissolved in 1990 and its corporate affairs terminated in 1993, there were no
complaint. They complain that the trial court should not have allowed the amendment of the
more corporate affairs to speak of at the time of the filing of the complaint. The court also allowed
complaint because it was done in order to confer jurisdiction on the trial court.
the amendment of the complaint. It appears that, pending resolution of the motion for
reconsideration, respondent amended his complaint by alleging the following matters which are
underlined: First. Petitioners contend that the existence of a corporation at the time of filing of a complaint
involving an intra-corporate dispute is not required in order that such dispute be cognizable by the
SEC because such requirement is not found in P.D. No. 902-A.
4. Luciano R. Pascual, Sr. together with L.R. Pascual & Sons. Inc. acquired
approximately 38% of shares in Phillens Manufacturing Corp., a close
corporation. Luciano Sr. died in 1984 while Consolacion died in 1986. Thus, plaintiff This contention has no merit. P.D. 902-A, §5 provides:
In addition to the regulatory and adjudicative functions of the Securities and Exchange gives the SEC jurisdiction, supervision, and control over all corporations, partnerships or
Commission over corporations, partnerships and other forms of association registered with it as associations, who are the grantees of primary franchise and/or a license or permit issued by the
expressly granted under existing laws and decrees, it shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction government to operate in the Philippines. From this, it can be deduced that the regulatory and
to hear and decide cases involving: adjudicatory functions of the SEC, insofar as intra-corporate controversies are concerned, comes
into play only if a corporation still exists.
....
In the case at bar, the corporation whose properties are being contested no longer exists, it having
b) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership relations, between and among been completely dissolved in 1993; consequently, the supervisory authority of the SEC over the
stockholders, members, or associates; between any or all of them and the corporation, partnership corporation has likewise come to an end.
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 It is true that a complaint for accounting, reconveyance, etc. of corporate properties has previously
franchise or right to exist as such entity; been held to be within the jurisdiction of the SEC.6 Nonetheless, a distinction can be drawn
between those cases and the case at bar, for, in those cases, the corporations involved were still
.... existing, whereas in the present case, there is no more corporation involved. There is no question
that assessing the financial status of an existing corporation, for purposes of an action for
accounting, requires the expertise of the SEC. But in the case of a dissolved corporation, no such
Sec. 5(b) does not define what an intra-corporate controversy is, but case law has fashioned out
expertise is required, for all its business has been properly accounted for already, and what is left
two tests for determining what suit is cognizable by the SEC or the regular courts, and sometimes to be determined is properly within the competence of regular courts.
by the National Labor Relations Commission. The first test uses the enumeration in §5(b) of the
relationships to determine jurisdiction,2 to wit:
It may be noted in this connection that pursuant to R.A. No. 8799, §5.2,7 which took effect on
August 8, 2000, the jurisdiction of the SEC to decide cases involving intra-corporate dispute was
(1) Those between and among stockholders and members;
transferred to courts of general jurisdiction and, in accordance therewith, all cases of this nature,
with the exception only of those submitted for decision, were transferred to the regular courts.
(2) Those between and among stockholders and members, on one hand, and the Hence, the question whether this case should be filed in the SEC is now only of academic interest.
corporation, on the other hand; and For even if it involves an intra-corporate dispute, it would be remanded to the Regional Trial Court
just the same.
(3) Those between the corporation and the State but only insofar as its franchise or right
to exist as an entity is concerned. Second. Petitioners contend that the lower courts erred in allowing the amendment of the
complaint, which were actually made to confer jurisdiction on the trial court after the original
The second test, on the other hand, focuses on the nature of the controversy itself. 3 Recent complaint was dismissed.
decisions of this Court consider not only the subject of their controversy but also the status of the
parties.4 This contention has no basis. The original complaint alleged that Phillens has already been
completely dissolved. In addition, it alleged a breach by petitioner Alfredo P. Pascual of the
We hold that the Court of Appeals correctly ruled that the regular courts, not the SEC, have implied trust created between him and his brother, respondent Ernesto P. Pascual, after the death
jurisdiction over this case.1âwphi1 Petitioners and private respondent never had any corporate of their father. Thus, even without the amendments, the allegations in the original complaint were
relations in Phillens. It appears that private respondent was never a stockholder in Phillens, of sufficient to confer jurisdiction on the trial court. The amendments made by respondent were
which the parties’ predecessor-in-interest, Luciano Pascual, Sr., was a stockholder and whose merely for the purpose of making more specific his original allegations.
properties are being litigated. Private respondent’s allegation is that, upon the death of their father,
he became co-owner in the estate left by him, and part of this estate includes the corporate WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
interests in Phillens. He also alleges that petitioners repudiated the trust relationship created
between them and appropriated to themselves even the property that should have belonged to SO ORDERED.
respondent. It is thus clear that there is no corporate relationship involved here. That petitioner
Alfredo Pascual was a corporate officer holding in trust for his brother their father’s corporate
interests did not create an intra-corporate relationship between them.

Nor is the controversy corporate in nature. As we have stated before, the grant of jurisdiction must
be viewed in the light of the nature and function of the SEC under the law. 5 P.D. No. 902-A, §3
THIRD DIVISION case rested with the SEC and, accordingly, granted the petition and ordered the dismissal of the
complaint. The subsequent motion for reconsideration was rebuffed.
G.R. No. 140453 October 17, 2000
Hence, the instant petition.
TRANSFARM & CO., INC., and TRANSDAEWOO AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING
COMPANY, petitioners, The Court required respondents to file their comment and petitioners to file their reply thereon,
vs. respectively, in its resolutions of 25 November 1999 and 21 June 2000.
DAEWOO CORPORATION and DAEWOO MOTOR CO., LTD., respondents.
During the pendency of the petition, Republic Act No. 8799, otherwise also known as The
RESOLUTION Securities Regulation Code, was enacted into law, providing, inter alia, that -

VITUG, J.: "5.2. The Commission's jurisdiction over all cases enumerated under Section 5 of Presidential
Decree No. 902-A is hereby transferred to the Courts of general jurisdiction or the appropriate
Assailed in the Petition for Review on Certiorari under consideration are the decision and the Regional Trial Court: Provided, That the Supreme Court in the exercise of its authority may
resolution of the Court of Appeals, dated 29 July and 13 October 1999, respectively, in CA-G.R. designate the Regional Trial Court branches that shall exercise jurisdiction over these cases. The
SP No. 47558. Commission shall retain jurisdiction over pending cases involving intra-corporate disputes
submitted for final resolution which should be resolved within one (1) year from the enactment of
this Code. The Commission shall retain jurisdiction over pending suspension of
Sometime in 1994, Daewoo Corporation (Daewoo) entered into a joint venture agreement with payments/rehabilitation cases filed as of 30 June 2000 until finally disposed." 1
Transfarm & Co. (Transfarm) for the delivery, assembly, production and distribution of Daewoo
cars in the Philippines. Under the agreement, Transdaewoo Automotive Manufacturing Company
(TAMC) was to be incorporated with Transfarm owning seventy percent (70%) and Daewoo Statutes regulating court jurisdiction and procedures are generally construed to be applicable to
holding thirty percent (30%) of the shares of stock. The new firm was also to undertake the actions pending and undetermined at the time of the passage of said enactments.1âwphi12 The
manufacture, assembly, marketing, wholesale distribution and sale and after-sales service of instant case, neither filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission nor therewith pending, let
Daewoo products. Transfarm and the joint venture company TAMC were then to enter into a alone ready for final resolution by it, is clearly cognizable by the RTC under the amendatory law.
separate agreement that would name Transfarm as the exclusive distributor in the Philippines of
Daewoo cars. WHEREFORE, the decision of the appellate court subject of the instant petition for review is SET
ASIDE, and the case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City for further
The parties stipulated that any dispute, controversy or claim among the parties arising out of, proceedings. No costs.
relating to, or in connection with the joint venture agreement itself should be settled by arbitration
to be conducted in Hongkong. The joint venture agreement, however, was to be governed by and SO ORDERED.
construed in accordance with the laws of the Philippines.

The agreement went awry in December of 1997. Transfarm and TAMC filed a complaint with the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 5, of Cebu City, docketed Civil Case No. CEB-21367, against
Daewoo and Daewoo Motor Co., Ltd. (DMCL), a corporation organized under the laws of the
Republic of Korea and not doing business in the Philippines, praying that Daewoo and DMCL be
ordered to refrain from conducting and doing, directly or indirectly, automotive business in the
Philippines.

On 20 January 1998, Daewoo and DMCL filed a motion to dismiss the case moored, inter alia, on
the ground that the case involved an intra-corporate dispute cognizable exclusively by the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In its resolution of 25 March 1998, the RTC denied
the Motion to Dismiss and directed the defendants to file their respective answers.

Transfarm and TAMC filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus before the Court of
Appeals. The appellate court, in its 29th July 1999 decision, declared that the jurisdiction over the
Republic of the Philippines 6. Thereafter, plaintiff occupied the said condominium unit no. 1201 and religiously paid
SUPREME COURT all the corresponding monthly contributions/association dues and other assessments
Manila imposed on the same. For the years 2000 and 2001, plaintiff served as President and
Director of the Medical Plaza Makati Condominium Corporation;
THIRD DIVISION
7. Nonetheless, on September 19, 2002, plaintiff was shocked/surprised to receive a
G.R. No. 181416 November 11, 2013 letter from the incumbent Corporate Secretary of the defendant Medical Plaza Makati,
demanding payment of alleged unpaid association dues and assessments arising from
plaintiff’s condominium unit no. 1201. The said letter further stressed that plaintiff is
MEDICAL PLAZA MAKATI CONDOMINIUM CORPORATION, Petitioner,
considered a delinquent member of the defendant Medical Plaza Makati.
vs.
ROBERT H. CULLEN, Respondent.
x x x;
DECISION
8. As a consequence, plaintiff was not allowed to file his certificate of candidacy as
director. Being considered a delinquent, plaintiff was also barred from exercising his right
PERALTA, J.:
to vote in the election of new members of the Board of Directors x x x;

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Court of
9. x x x Again, prior to the said election date, x x x counsel for the defendant [MPMCC]
Appeals (CA) Decision1 dated July 10, 2007 and Resolution2 dated January 25, 2008 in CA-G.R.
sent a demand letter to plaintiff, anent the said delinquency, explaining that the said
CV No. 86614. The assailed decision reversed and set aside the September 9, 2005 Order 3 of the unpaid amount is a carry-over from the obligation of defendant Meridien. x x x;
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, Branch 58 in Civil Case No. 03-1018; while the assailed
resolution denied the separate motions for reconsideration filed by petitioner Medical Plaza Makati
Condominium Corporation (MPMCC) and Meridien Land Holding, Inc. (MLHI). 10. Verification with the defendant [MPMCC] resulted to the issuance of a certification
stating that Condominium Unit 1201 has an outstanding unpaid obligation in the total
amount of ₱145,567.42 as of November 30, 2002, which again, was attributed by
The factual and procedural antecedents are as follows:
defendant [MPMCC] to defendant Meridien. x x x;

Respondent Robert H. Cullen purchased from MLHI condominium Unit No. 1201 of the Medical
11. Due to the seriousness of the matter, and the feeling that defendant Meridien made
Plaza Makati covered by Condominium Certificate of Title No. 45808 of the Register of Deeds of
false representations considering that it fully warranted to plaintiff that condominium unit
Makati. Said title was later cancelled and Condominium Certificate of Title No. 64218 was issued
1201 is free and clear from all liens and encumbrances, the matter was referred to
in the name of respondent.
counsel, who accordingly sent a letter to defendant Meridien, to demand for the payment
of said unpaid association dues and other assessments imposed on the condominium
On September 19, 2002, petitioner, through its corporate secretary, Dr. Jose Giovanni E. unit and being claimed by defendant [MPMCC]. x x x;
Dimayuga, demanded from respondent payment for alleged unpaid association dues and
assessments amounting to ₱145,567.42. Respondent disputed this demand claiming that he had
12. x x x defendant Meridien claimed however, that the obligation does not exist
been religiously paying his dues shown by the fact that he was previously elected president and
considering that the matter was already settled and paid by defendant Meridien to
director of petitioner.4 Petitioner, on the other hand, claimed that respondent’s obligation was a defendant [MPMCC]. x x x;
carry-over of that of MLHI.5 Consequently, respondent was prevented from exercising his right to
vote and be voted for during the 2002 election of petitioner’s Board of Directors. 6 Respondent thus
clarified from MLHI the veracity of petitioner’s claim, but MLHI allegedly claimed that the same had 13. Plaintiff thus caused to be sent a letter to defendant [MPMCC] x x x. The said letter x
already been settled.7 This prompted respondent to demand from petitioner an explanation why he x x sought an explanation on the fact that, as per the letter of defendant Meridien, the
was considered a delinquent payer despite the settlement of the obligation. Petitioner failed to delinquency of unit 1201 was already fully paid and settled, contrary to the claim of
make such explanation. Hence, the Complaint for Damages8 filed by respondent against petitioner defendant [MPMCC]. x x x;
and MLHI, the pertinent portions of which read:
14. Despite receipt of said letter on April 24, 2003, and to date however, no explanation
xxxx was given by defendant [MPMCC], to the damage and prejudice of plaintiff who is again
obviously being barred from voting/participating in the election of members of the board of
directors for the year 2003;
15. Clearly, defendant [MPMCC] acted maliciously by insisting that plaintiff is a delinquent On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the trial court’s decision and remanded the case to the
member when in fact, defendant Meridien had already paid the said delinquency, if any. RTC for further proceedings. Contrary to the RTC conclusion, the CA held that the controversy is
The branding of plaintiff as delinquent member was willfully and deceitfully employed so an ordinary civil action for damages which falls within the jurisdiction of regular courts. 14 It
as to prevent plaintiff from exercising his right to vote or be voted as director of the explained that the case hinged on petitioner’s refusal to confirm MLHI’s claim that the subject
condominium corporation; 16. Defendant [MPMCC]’s ominous silence when confronted obligation had already been settled as early as 1998 causing damage to respondent. 15 Petitioner’s
with claim of payment made by defendant Meridien is tantamount to admission that and MLHI’s motions for reconsideration had also been denied.16
indeed, plaintiff is not really a delinquent member;
Aggrieved, petitioner comes before the Court based on the following grounds:
17. Accordingly, as a direct and proximate result of the said acts of defendant [MPMCC],
plaintiff experienced/suffered from mental anguish, moral shock, and serious anxiety. I.
Plaintiff, being a doctor of medicine and respected in the community further suffered from
social humiliation and besmirched reputation thereby warranting the grant of moral
THE COURT A QUO HAS DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE, NOT THERETOFORE
damages in the amount of ₱500,000.00 and for which defendant [MPMCC] should be
held liable; DETERMINED BY THE SUPREME COURT, OR HAS DECIDED IT IN A WAY NOT IN ACCORD
WITH LAW OR WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT WHEN IT
DECLARED THE INSTANT CASE AN ORDINARY ACTION FOR DAMAGES INSTEAD OF AN
18. By way of example or correction for the public good, and as a stern warning to all INTRA-CORPORATE CONTROVERSY COGNIZABLE BY A SPECIAL COMMERCIAL COURT.
similarly situated, defendant [MPMCC] should be ordered to pay plaintiff exemplary
damages in the amount of ₱200,000.00;
II.

19. As a consequence, and so as to protect his rights and interests, plaintiff was
THE COURT A QUO HAS DECIDED THE INSTANT CASE IN A WAY NOT IN ACCORD WITH
constrained to hire the services of counsel, for an acceptance fee of ₱100,000.00 plus
₱2,500.00 per every court hearing attended by counsel; LAW OR WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT WHEN IT TOOK
COGNIZANCE OF THE APPEAL WHILE RAISING ONLY PURE QUESTIONS OF LAW.17
20. In the event that the claim of defendant [MPMCC] turned out to be true, however, the
The petition is meritorious.
herein defendant Meridien should be held liable instead, by ordering the same to pay the
said delinquency of condominium unit 1201 in the amount of ₱145,567.42 as of
November 30, 2002 as well as the above damages, considering that the non-payment It is a settled rule that jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the allegations in the
thereof would be the proximate cause of the damages suffered by plaintiff;9 complaint. It is not affected by the pleas or the theories set up by the defendant in an answer or a
motion to dismiss. Otherwise, jurisdiction would become dependent almost entirely upon the
whims of the defendant.18 Also illuminating is the Court’s pronouncement in Go v. Distinction
Petitioner and MLHI filed their separate motions to dismiss the complaint on the ground of lack of
Properties Development and Construction, Inc.:19
jurisdiction.10MLHI 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 Basic as a hornbook principle is that jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by
himself approved the assessment when he was the president; (2) lack of jurisdiction as the case law and determined by the allegations in the complaint which comprise a concise statement of the
involves an intra-corporate controversy; (3) prematurity for failure of respondent to exhaust all ultimate facts constituting the plaintiff’s cause of action. The nature of an action, as well as which
intra-corporate remedies; and (4) the case is already moot and academic, the obligation having court or body has jurisdiction over it, is determined based on the allegations contained in the
been settled between petitioner and MLHI.11 complaint of the plaintiff, irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or
some of the claims asserted therein. The averments in the complaint and the character of the relief
sought are the ones to be consulted. Once vested by the allegations in the complaint, jurisdiction
On September 9, 2005, the RTC rendered a Decision granting petitioner’s and MLHI’s motions to
dismiss and, consequently, dismissing respondent’s complaint. also remains vested irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or
some of the claims asserted therein. x x x20
The trial court agreed with MLHI that the action for specific performance filed by respondent
Based on the allegations made by respondent in his complaint, does the controversy involve intra-
clearly falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the HLURB.12 As to petitioner, the court held that the
corporate issues as would fall within the jurisdiction of the RTC sitting as a special commercial
complaint states no cause of action, considering that respondent’s obligation had already been
court or an ordinary action for damages within the jurisdiction of regular courts?
settled by MLHI. It, likewise, ruled that the issues raised are intra-corporate between the
corporation and member.13
In determining whether a dispute constitutes an intra-corporate controversy, the Court uses two questioned his characterization as a delinquent member and, consequently, petitioner’s decision
tests, namely, the relationship test and the nature of the controversy test.21 to bar him from exercising his rights to vote and be voted for. These issues are clearly corporate
and the demand for damages is just incidental. Being corporate in nature, the issues should be
An intra-corporate controversy is one which pertains to any of the following relationships: (1) threshed out before the RTC sitting as a special commercial court. The issues on damages can
between the corporation, partnership or association and the public; (2) between the corporation, still be resolved in the same special commercial court just like a regular RTC which is still
partnership or association and the State insofar as its franchise, permit or license to operate is competent to tackle civil law issues incidental to intra-corporate disputes filed before it.28
concerned; (3) between the corporation, partnership or association and its stockholders, partners,
members or officers; and (4) among the stockholders, partners or associates themselves.22 Thus, Moreover, Presidential Decree No. 902-A enumerates the cases over which the Securities and
under the relationship test, the existence of any of the above intra-corporate relations makes the Exchange Commission (SEC) exercises exclusive jurisdiction:
case intra-corporate.23
xxxx
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’ b) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership relations, between and
correlative rights and obligations under the Corporation Code and the internal and intra-corporate among stockholders, members or associates; between any or all of them and the
regulatory rules of the corporation."24 In other words, jurisdiction should be determined by corporation, partnership or association of which they are stockholders, members, or
considering both the relationship of the parties as well as the nature of the question involved. 25 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;
Applying the two tests, we find and so hold that the case involves intra-corporate controversy. It and
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 c) Controversies in the election or appointment of directors, trustees, officers, or
regulation of the corporation.26 managers of such corporations, partnerships, or associations.29

Admittedly, petitioner is a condominium corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine To be sure, this action partakes of the nature of an intra-corporate controversy, the jurisdiction
laws, charged with the management of the Medical Plaza Makati. Respondent, on the other hand, over which pertains to the SEC. Pursuant to Section 5.2 of Republic Act No. 8799, otherwise
is the registered owner of Unit No. 1201 and is thus a stockholder/member of the condominium known as the Securities Regulation Code, the jurisdiction of the SEC over all cases enumerated
corporation. Clearly, there is an intra-corporate relationship between the corporation and a under Section 5 of Presidential Decree No. 902-A has been transferred to RTCs designated by
stockholder/member. this Court as Special Commercial Courts.30 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
The nature of the action is determined by the body rather than the title of the RTC designated as a special commercial court. Considering that the RTC of Makati City, Branch
complaint.1âwphi1 Though denominated as an action for damages, an examination of the 58 was not designated as a special commercial court, it was not vested with jurisdiction over
allegations made by respondent in his complaint shows that the case principally dwells on the cases previously cognizable by the SEC.31The CA, therefore, gravely erred in remanding the case
propriety of the assessment made by petitioner against respondent as well as the validity of to the RTC for further proceedings.
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 Indeed, Republic Act (RA) No. 9904, or the Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners’
by petitioner. Associations, approved on January 7, 2010 and became effective on July 10, 2010, empowers the
HLURB to hear and decide inter-association and/or intra-association controversies or conflicts
The issue is not novel. The nature of an action involving any dispute as to the validity of the concerning homeowners’ associations. However, we cannot apply the same in the present case
assessment of association dues has been settled by the Court in Chateau de Baie Condominium as it involves a controversy between a condominium unit owner and a condominium corporation.
Corporation v. Moreno.27 In that case, respondents therein filed a complaint for intra-corporate While the term association as defined in the law covers homeowners’ associations of other
dispute against the petitioner therein to question how it calculated the dues assessed against residential real property which is broad enough to cover a condominium corporation, it does not
them, and to ask an accounting of association dues. Petitioner, however, moved for the dismissal seem to be the legislative intent. A thorough review of the deliberations of the bicameral
of the case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction alleging that since the complaint was against the conference committee would show that the lawmakers did not intend to extend the coverage of the
owner/developer of a condominium whose condominium project was registered with and licensed law to such kind of association. We quote hereunder the pertinent portion of the Bicameral
by the HLURB, the latter has the exclusive jurisdiction. In sustaining the denial of the motion to Conference Committee’s deliberation, to wit:
dismiss, the Court held that the dispute as to the validity of the assessments is purely an intra-
corporate matter between petitioner and respondent and is thus within the exclusive jurisdiction of THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. ZUBIRI). Let’s go back, Mr. Chair, very quickly on homeowners.
the RTC sitting as a special commercial court. More so in this case as respondent repeatedly
THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (REP. ZIALCITA). Ang sa akin lang, I think our views are similar, Your THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (REP. ZIALCITA). Unless you want to put a catchall phrase like what
Honor, Senator Zubiri, the entry of the condominium units might just complicate the whole matters. we did in the Senior Citizen’s Act. Something like, to the extent --- paano ba iyon? To the extent
So we’d like to put it on record that we’re very much concerned about the plight of the that it is practicable and applicable, the rights and benefits of the homeowners, are hereby
Condominium Unit Homeowners’ Association. But this could very well be addressed on a separate extended to the --- mayroon kaming ginamit na phrase eh...to the extent that it be practicable and
bill that I’m willing to co-sponsor with the distinguished Senator Zubiri, to address in the applicable to the unit homeoweners, is hereby extended, something like that. It’s a catchall
Condominium Act of the Philippines, rather than address it here because it might just create a red phrase. But then again, it might create a...
herring into the entire thing and it will just complicate matters, hindi ba?
MR. JALANDONI. It will become complicated. There will be a lot of conflict of laws between the
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. ZUBIRI). I also agree with you although I sympathize with them---although two laws.
we sympathize with them and we feel that many times their rights have been also violated by
abusive condominium corporations. However, there are certain things that we have to reconcile. THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (REP. ZIALCITA). Kaya nga eh. At saka, I don’t know. I think the ---
There are certain issues that we have to reconcile with this version. mayroon naman silang protection sa ano eh, di ba? Buyers decree doon sa Condominium Act. I’m
sure there are provisions there eh. Huwag na lang, huwag na lang.
In the Condominium Code, for example, they just raised a very peculiar situation under the
Condominium Code --- Condominium Corporation Act. It’s five years the proxy, whereas here, it’s MR. JALANDONI. Mr. Chairman, I think it would be best if your previous comments that you’d be
three years. So there would already be violation or there will be already a problem with their supporting an amendment.1âwphi1 I think that would be --- Well, that would be the best course of
version and our version. Sino ang matutupad doon? Will it be our version or their version? action with all due respect.

So I agree that has to be studied further. And because they have a law pertaining to the THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (REP. ZIALCITA). Yeah. Okay. Thank you. So iyon na lang final
condominium housing units, I personally feel that it would complicate matters if we include them. proposal naming ‘yung catchall phrase, "With respect to the..."32
Although I agree that they should be looked after and their problems be looked into.
xxxx
Probably we can ask our staff, Your Honor, to come up already with the bill although we have no
more time. Hopefully we can tackle this again on the 15th Congress. But I agree with the
sentiments and the inputs of the Honorable Chair of the House panel. THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. ZUBIRI). xxx And so, what is their final decision on the definition of
homeowners?
May we ask our resource persons to also probably give comments?
THE ACTING CHAIRMAN (REP. ZIALCITA).
Atty. Dayrit.
We stick to the original, Mr. Chairman. We’ll just open up a whole can of worms and a whole new
ball game will come into play. Besides, I am not authorized, neither are you, by our counterparts to
MR. DAYRIT. include the condominium owners.

Yes I agree with you. There are many, I think, practices in their provisions in the Condominium THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. ZUBIRI).
Law that may be conflicting with this version of ours.
Basically that is correct. We are not authorized by the Senate nor – because we have discussed
For instance, in the case of, let’s say, the condominium, the so-called common areas and/or this lengthily on the floor, actually, several months on the floor. And we don’t have the authority as
maybe so called open spaces that they may have, especially common areas, they are usually well for other Bicam members to add a provision to include a separate entity that has already their
owned by the condominium corporation. Unlike a subdivision where the open spaces and/or the legal or their established Republic Act tackling on that particular issue. But we just like to put on
common areas are not necessarily owned by the association. Because sometimes --- generally record, we sympathize with the plight of our friends in the condominium associations and we will
these are donated to the municipality or to the city. And it is only when the city or municipality just guarantee them that we will work on an amendment to the Condominium Corporation Code.
gives the approval or the conformity that this is donated to the homeowners’ association. But So with that – we skipped, that is correct, we have to go back to homeowners’ association
generally, under PD [Presidential Decree] 957, it’s donated. In the Condominium Corporation, definition, Your Honor, because we had skipped it altogether. So just quickly going back to Page 7
hindi. Lahat ng mga open spaces and common areas like corridors, the function rooms and because there are amendments to the definition of homeowners. If it is alright with the House
everything, are owned by the corporation. So that’s one main issue that can be conflicting. Panel, adopt the opening phrase of Subsection 7 of the Senate version as opening phrase of
Subsection 10 of the reconciled version.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. ZUBIRI). I’ll just ask for a one-minute suspension so we can talk.
x x x x33

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.34 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. Moreno35 which in turn cited Wack Wack Condominium
Corporation, et al v. CA36 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.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION On April 19, 2002, petitioner filed a motion to suspend arraignment and other proceedings in view
of the existence of an alleged prejudicial question involved in Civil Case No. Q-00-41446 for unfair
G.R. Nos. 160054-55 July 21, 2004 competition pending with the same branch; and also in view of the pendency of a petition for
review filed with the Secretary of Justice assailing the Chief State Prosecutor’s resolution finding
probable cause to charge petitioner with unfair competition. In an Order dated August 9, 2002, the
MANOLO P. SAMSON, petitioner,
trial court denied the motion to suspend arraignment and other proceedings.
vs.
HON. REYNALDO B. DAWAY, in his capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 90, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and CATERPILLAR, On August 20, 2002, petitioner filed a twin motion to quash the informations and motion for
INC., respondents. reconsideration of the order denying motion to suspend, this time challenging the jurisdiction of the
trial court over the offense charged. He contended that since under Section 170 of R.A. No. 8293,
the penalty4 of imprisonment for unfair competition does not exceed six years, the offense is
cognizable by the Municipal Trial Courts and not by the Regional Trial Court, per R.A. No. 7691.

In its assailed March 26, 2003 Order, the trial court denied petitioner’s twin motions.6 A motion for
DECISION
reconsideration thereof was likewise denied on August 5, 2003.

Hence, the instant petition alleging that respondent Judge gravely abused its discretion in issuing
the assailed orders.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
The issues posed for resolution are – (1) Which court has jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases
for violation of intellectual property rights? (2) Did the respondent Judge gravely abuse his
Assailed in this petition for certiorari is the March 26, 2003 Order1 of the Regional Trial Court of discretion in refusing to suspend the arraignment and other proceedings in Criminal Case Nos. Q-
Quezon City, Branch 90, which denied petitioner’s – (1) motion to quash the information; and (2) 02-108043-44 on the ground of – (a) the existence of a prejudicial question; and (b) the pendency
motion for reconsideration of the August 9, 2002 Order denying his motion to suspend the of a petition for review with the Secretary of Justice on the finding of probable cause for unfair
arraignment and other proceedings in Criminal Case Nos. Q-02-108043-44. Petitioner also competition?
questioned its August 5, 2003 Order2 which denied his motion for reconsideration.
Under Section 170 of R.A. No. 8293, which took effect on January 1, 1998, the criminal penalty for
The undisputed facts show that on March 7, 2002, two informations for unfair competition under infringement of registered marks, unfair competition, false designation of origin and false
Section 168.3 (a), in relation to Section 170, of the Intellectual Property Code (Republic Act No. description or representation, is imprisonment from 2 to 5 years and a fine ranging from Fifty
8293), similarly worded save for the dates and places of commission, were filed against petitioner Thousand Pesos to Two Hundred Thousand Pesos, to wit:
Manolo P. Samson, the registered owner of ITTI Shoes. The accusatory portion of said
informations read:
SEC. 170. Penalties. – Independent of the civil and administrative sanctions imposed by
law, a criminal penalty of imprisonment from two (2) years to five (5) years and a fine
That on or about the first week of November 1999 and sometime prior or subsequent ranging from Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) to Two hundred thousand pesos
thereto, in Quezon City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, (P200,000.00), shall be imposed on any person who is found guilty of committing any of
above-named accused, owner/proprietor of ITTI Shoes/Mano Shoes Manufactuirng the acts mentioned in Section 155 [Infringement], Section 168 [Unfair Competition] and
Corporation located at Robinson’s Galleria, EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue, Quezon City, Section 169.1 [False Designation of Origin and False Description or Representation].
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously distribute, sell and/or offer for sale
CATERPILLAR products such as footwear, garments, clothing, bags, accessories and
Corollarily, Section 163 of the same Code states that actions (including criminal and civil) under
paraphernalia which are closely identical to and/or colorable imitations of the authentic
Sections 150, 155, 164, 166, 167, 168 and 169 shall be brought before the proper courts with
Caterpillar products and likewise using trademarks, symbols and/or designs as would appropriate jurisdiction under existing laws, thus –
cause confusion, mistake or deception on the part of the buying public to the damage and
prejudice of CATERPILLAR, INC., the prior adopter, user and owner of the following
internationally: "CATERPILLAR", "CAT", "CATERPILLAR & DESIGN", "CAT AND SEC. 163. Jurisdiction of Court. – All actions under Sections 150, 155, 164 and 166 to
DESIGN", "WALKING MACHINES" and "TRACK-TYPE TRACTOR & DESIGN." 169 shall be brought before the proper courts with appropriate jurisdiction under
existing laws. (Emphasis supplied)
CONTRARY TO LAW.3
The existing law referred to in the foregoing provision is Section 27 of R.A. No. 166 (The The case of Mirpuri v. Court of Appeals,10 invoked by petitioner finds no application in the present
Trademark Law) which provides that jurisdiction over cases for infringement of registered marks, case. Nowhere in Mirpuri did we state that Section 27 of R.A. No. 166 was repealed by R.A. No.
unfair competition, false designation of origin and false description or representation, is lodged 8293. Neither did we make a categorical ruling therein that jurisdiction over cases for violation of
with the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) – intellectual property rights is lodged with the Municipal Trial Courts. The passing remark
in Mirpuri on the repeal of R.A. No. 166 by R.A. No. 8293 was merely a backgrounder to the
SEC. 27. Jurisdiction of Court of First Instance. – All actions under this Chapter [V – enactment of the present Intellectual Property Code and cannot thus be construed as a
Infringement] and Chapters VI [Unfair Competition] and VII [False Designation of Origin jurisdictional pronouncement in cases for violation of intellectual property rights.
and False Description or Representation], hereof shall be brought before the Court of
First Instance. Anent the second issue, petitioner failed to substantiate his claim that there was a prejudicial
question. In his petition, he prayed for the reversal of the March 26, 2003 order which sustained
We find no merit in the claim of petitioner that R.A. No. 166 was expressly repealed by R.A. No. the denial of his motion to suspend arraignment and other proceedings in Criminal Case Nos. Q-
8293. The repealing clause of R.A. No. 8293, reads – 02-108043-44. For unknown reasons, however, he made no discussion in support of said prayer
in his petition and reply to comment. Neither did he attach a copy of the complaint in Civil Case
No. Q-00-41446 nor quote the pertinent portion thereof to prove the existence of a prejudicial
SEC. 239. Repeals. – 239.1. All Acts and parts of Acts inconsistent herewith, more
question.
particularly Republic Act No. 165, as amended; Republic Act No. 166, as amended; and
Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code; Presidential Decree No. 49, including
Presidential Decree No. 285, as amended, are hereby repealed. (Emphasis added) At any rate, there is no prejudicial question if the civil and the criminal action can, according to law,
proceed independently of each other.11 Under Rule 111, Section 3 of the Revised Rules on
Criminal Procedure, in the cases provided in Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code, the
Notably, the aforequoted clause did not expressly repeal R.A. No. 166 in its entirety, otherwise, it
independent civil action may be brought by the offended party. It shall proceed independently of
would not have used the phrases "parts of Acts" and "inconsistent herewith;" and it would have
the criminal action and shall require only a preponderance of evidence.
simply stated "Republic Act No. 165, as amended; Republic Act No. 166, as amended; and
Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code; Presidential Decree No. 49, including
Presidential Decree No. 285, as amended are hereby repealed." It would have removed all doubts In the case at bar, the common element in the acts constituting unfair competition under Section
that said specific laws had been rendered without force and effect. The use of the phrases "parts 168 of R.A. No. 8293 is fraud.12 Pursuant to Article 33 of the Civil Code, in cases of
of Acts"and "inconsistent herewith" only means that the repeal pertains only to provisions which defamation, fraud, and physical injuries, a civil action for damages, entirely separate and distinct
are repugnant or not susceptible of harmonization with R.A. No. 8293.6 Section 27 of R.A. No. from the criminal action, may be brought by the injured party. Hence, Civil Case No. Q-00-41446,
166, however, is consistent and in harmony with Section 163 of R.A. No. 8293. Had R.A. No. 8293 which as admitted13 by private respondent also relate to unfair competition, is an independent
intended to vest jurisdiction over violations of intellectual property rights with the Metropolitan Trial civil action under Article 33 of the Civil Code. As such, it will not operate as a prejudicial question
Courts, it would have expressly stated so under Section 163 thereof. that will justify the suspension of the criminal cases at bar.

Moreover, the settled rule in statutory construction is that in case of conflict between a general law Section 11 (c), Rule 116 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure provides –
and a special law, the latter must prevail. Jurisdiction conferred by a special law to Regional Trial
Courts must prevail over that granted by a general law to Municipal Trial Courts.7 SEC. 11. Suspension of arraignment. – Upon motion by the proper party, the arraignment
shall be suspended in the following cases –
In the case at bar, R.A. No. 8293 and R.A. No. 166 are special laws8 conferring jurisdiction over
violations of intellectual property rights to the Regional Trial Court. They should therefore prevail xxxxxxxxx
over R.A. No. 7691, which is a general law.9 Hence, jurisdiction over the instant criminal case for
unfair competition is properly lodged with the Regional Trial Court even if the penalty therefor is (c) A petition for review of the resolution of the prosecutor is pending at either the
imprisonment of less than 6 years, or from 2 to 5 years and a fine ranging from P50,000.00 to Department of Justice, or the Office of the President; Provided, that the period of
P200,000.00. suspension shall not exceed sixty (60) days counted from the filing of the petition with the
reviewing office.
In fact, to implement and ensure the speedy disposition of cases involving violations of intellectual
property rights under R.A. No. 8293, the Court issued A.M. No. 02-1-11-SC dated February 19, While the pendency of a petition for review is a ground for suspension of the arraignment, the
2002 designating certain Regional Trial Courts as Intellectual Property Courts. On June 17, 2003, aforecited provision limits the deferment of the arraignment to a period of 60 days reckoned from
the Court further issued a Resolution consolidating jurisdiction to hear and decide Intellectual the filing of the petition with the reviewing office. It follows, therefore, that after the expiration of
Property Code and Securities and Exchange Commission cases in specific Regional Trial Courts said period, the trial court is bound to arraign the accused or to deny the motion to defer
designated as Special Commercial Courts. arraignment.
In the instant case, petitioner failed to establish that respondent Judge abused his discretion in
denying his motion to suspend. His pleadings and annexes submitted before the Court do not
show the date of filing of the petition for review with the Secretary of Justice.14 Moreover, the
Order dated August 9, 2002 denying his motion to suspend was not appended to the petition. He
thus failed to discharge the burden of proving that he was entitled to a suspension of his
arraignment and that the questioned orders are contrary to Section 11 (c), Rule 116 of the
Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. Indeed, the age-old but familiar rule is that he who alleges
must prove his allegations.

In sum, the dismissal of the petition is proper considering that petitioner has not established that
the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion. So also, his failure to attach documents
relevant to his allegations warrants the dismissal of the petition, pursuant to Section 3, Rule 46 of
the Rules of Civil Procedure, which states:

SEC. 3. Contents and filing of petition; effect of non-compliance with


requirements. — The petition shall contain the full names and actual addresses of all the
petitioners and respondents, a concise statement of the matters involved, the factual
background of the case, and the grounds relied upon for the relief prayed for.

It shall be filed in seven (7) clearly legible copies together with proof of service thereof on
the respondent with the original copy intended for the court indicated as such by the
petitioner, and shall be accompanied by a clearly legible duplicate original or
certified true copy of the judgment, order, resolution, or ruling subject thereof,
such material portions of the record as are referred to therein, and other
documents relevant or pertinent thereto.

xxxxxxxxx

The failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the foregoing requirements shall
be sufficient ground for the dismissal of the petition. (Emphasis added)

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is dismissed.

SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION not find them there and the barangay office of Sta. Clara, Lamitan, Basilan, issued a
certification3 that respondent was no longer residing there.
G.R. No. 154598 August 16, 2004
Petitioner gave up his search when he got hold of respondent’s cellular phone bills showing calls
IN THE MATTER OF APPLICATION FOR THE ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS from different places such as Cavite, Nueva Ecija, Metro Manila and other provinces. Petitioner
RICHARD BRIAN THORNTON for and in behalf of the minor child SEQUEIRA JENNIFER then filed another petition for habeas corpus, this time in the Court of Appeals which could issue a
DELLE FRANCISCO THORNTON, petitioner, writ of habeas corpus enforceable in the entire country.
vs.
ADELFA FRANCISCO THORNTON, respondent. However, the petition was denied by the Court of Appeals on the ground that it did not have
jurisdiction over the case. It ruled that since RA 8369 (The Family Courts Act of 1997) gave family
courts exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions for habeas corpus, it impliedly repealed RA
7902 (An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals) and Batas Pambansa 129 (The
Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980):
DECISION
Under Sec. 9 (1), BP 129 (1981) the Intermediate Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals)
has jurisdiction to issue a writ of habeas corpus whether or not in aid of its appellate
jurisdiction. This conferment of jurisdiction was re-stated in Sec. 1, RA 7902 (1995), an
act expanding the jurisdiction of this Court. This jurisdiction finds its procedural
expression in Sec. 1, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court.
CORONA, J.:
In 1997, RA 8369 otherwise known as Family Courts Act was enacted. It provides:
This is a petition to review, under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the July 5, 2002 resolution1 of the
Court of Appeals, Sixteenth Division, in CA G.R. SP No. 70501 dismissing the petition for habeas
Sec. 5. Jurisdiction of Family Court. – The Family Courts shall have exclusive
corpus on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction and lack of substance. The dispositive portion2 read:
original jurisdiction to hear and decide the following cases:

WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the petition for habeas corpus on the grounds that: xxx xxx xxx
a) this Court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the petition; and b) the petition
is not sufficient in substance.
b. Petition for guardianship, custody of children, habeas corpus in
relation to the latter.
Petitioner, an American, and respondent, a Filipino, were married on August 28, 1998 in the
Catholic Evangelical Church at United Nations Avenue, Manila. A year later, respondent gave birth
to a baby girl whom they named Sequeira Jennifer Delle Francisco Thornton. The vital question is, did RA 8369 impliedly repeal BP 129 and RA 7902 insofar as the
jurisdiction of this Court to issue writ of habeas corpus in custody of minor cases is
concerned? The simple answer is, yes, it did, because there is no other meaning of the
However, after three years, respondent grew restless and bored as a plain housewife. She wanted
word "exclusive" than to constitute the Family Court as the sole court which can issue
to return to her old job as a "guest relations officer" in a nightclub, with the freedom to go out with
said writ. If a court other than the Family Court also possesses the same competence,
her friends. In fact, whenever petitioner was out of the country, respondent was also often out with
then the jurisdiction of the former is not exclusive but concurrent – and such an
her friends, leaving her daughter in the care of the househelp. interpretation is contrary to the simple and clear wording of RA 8369.

Petitioner admonished respondent about her irresponsibility but she continued her carefree ways.
Petitioner argues that unless this Court assumes jurisdiction over a petition for habeas
On December 7, 2001, respondent left the family home with her daughter Sequiera without
corpus involving custody of minors, a respondent can easily evade the service of a writ of
notifying her husband. She told the servants that she was bringing Sequiera to Purok Marikit, Sta.
habeas corpus on him or her by just moving out of the region over which the Regional
Clara, Lamitan, Basilan Province.
Trial Court issuing the writ has territorial jurisdiction. That may be so but then jurisdiction
is conferred by law. In the absence of a law conferring such jurisdiction in this Court, it
Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus in the designated Family Court in Makati City but this cannot exercise it even if it is demanded by expediency or necessity.
was dismissed, presumably because of the allegation that the child was in Basilan. Petitioner then
went to Basilan to ascertain the whereabouts of respondent and their daughter. However, he did
Whether RA 8369 is a good or unwise law is not within the authority of this Court – or any To allow the Court of Appeals to exercise jurisdiction over the petition for habeas corpus
court for that matter – to determine. The enactment of a law on jurisdiction is within the involving a minor child whose whereabouts are uncertain and transient will not result in
exclusive domain of the legislature. When there is a perceived defect in the law, the one of the situations that the legislature seeks to avoid. First, the welfare of the child is
remedy is not to be sought form the courts but only from the legislature. paramount. Second, the ex parte nature of habeas corpus proceedings will not result in
disruption of the child’s privacy and emotional well-being; whereas to deprive the
The only issue before us therefore is whether the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to issue writs of appellate court of jurisdiction will result in the evil sought to be avoided by the legislature:
habeas corpus in cases involving custody of minors in the light of the provision in RA 8369 giving the child’s welfare and well being will be prejudiced.
family courts exclusive original jurisdiction over such petitions.
This is not the first time that this Court construed the word "exclusive" as not foreclosing resort to
In his comment, the Solicitor General points out that Section 20 of the Rule on Custody of Minors another jurisdiction. As correctly cited by the Solicitor General, in Floresca vs. Philex Mining
and Writ of Habeas Corpus in Relation to Custody of Minors (A.M. No. 03-04-04-SC, effective May Corporation,6 the heirs of miners killed in a work-related accident were allowed to file suit in the
15, 2003) has rendered the issue moot. Section 20 of the rule provides that a petition for habeas regular courts even if, under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, the Workmen’s Compensation
corpus may be filed in the Supreme Court,4Court of Appeals, or with any of its members and, if so Commissioner had exclusive jurisdiction over such cases.
granted, the writ shall be enforceable anywhere in the Philippines.5
We agree with the observations of the Solicitor General that:
The petition is granted.
While Floresca involved a cause of action different from the case at bar. it supports
The Court of Appeals should take cognizance of the case since there is nothing in RA 8369 that petitioner’s submission that the word "exclusive" in the Family Courts Act of 1997 may not
revoked its jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus involving the custody of minors. connote automatic foreclosure of the jurisdiction of other courts over habeas corpus
cases involving minors. In the same manner that the remedies in the Floresca case were
selective, the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals and Family Court in the case at bar is
The Court of Appeals opines that RA 8369 impliedly repealed RA 7902 and BP 129 since, by
concurrent. The Family Court can issue writs of habeas corpus enforceable only within its
giving family courts exclusive jurisdiction over habeas corpus cases, the lawmakers intended it to
territorial jurisdiction. On the other hand, in cases where the territorial jurisdiction for the
be the sole court which can issue writs of habeas corpus. To the court a quo, the word "exclusive"
enforcement of the writ cannot be determined with certainty, the Court of Appeals can
apparently cannot be construed any other way.
issue the same writ enforceable throughout the Philippines, as provided in Sec. 2, Rule
102 of the Revised Rules of Court, thus:
We disagree with the CA’s reasoning because it will result in an iniquitous situation, leaving
individuals like petitioner without legal recourse in obtaining custody of their children. Individuals The Writ of Habeas Corpus may be granted by the Supreme Court, or any
who do not know the whereabouts of minors they are looking for would be helpless since they member thereof, on any day and at any time, or by the Court of Appeals or any
cannot seek redress from family courts whose writs are enforceable only in their respective
member thereof in the instances authorized by law, and if so granted it shall be
territorial jurisdictions. Thus, if a minor is being transferred from one place to another, which
enforceable anywhere in the Philippines, and may be made returnable before the
seems to be the case here, the petitioner in a habeas corpus case will be left without legal
court or any member thereof, or before a Court of First Instance, or any judge
remedy. This lack of recourse could not have been the intention of the lawmakers when they
thereof for hearing and decision on the merits. It may also be granted by a Court
passed the Family Courts Act of 1997. As observed by the Solicitor General:
of First Instance, or a judge thereof, on any day and at any time, and returnable
before himself, enforceable only within his judicial district. (Emphasis supplied)
Under the Family Courts Act of 1997, the avowed policy of the State is to "protect the
rights and promote the welfare of children." The creation of the Family Court is geared In ruling that the Commissioner’s "exclusive" jurisdiction did not foreclose resort to the regular
towards addressing three major issues regarding children’s welfare cases, as expressed courts for damages, this Court, in the same Floresca case, said that it was merely applying and
by the legislators during the deliberations for the law. The legislative intent behind giving giving effect to the constitutional guarantees of social justice in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions
Family Courts exclusive and original jurisdiction over such cases was to avoid further and implemented by the Civil Code. It also applied the well-established rule that what is controlling
clogging of regular court dockets, ensure greater sensitivity and specialization in view of is the spirit and intent, not the letter, of the law:
the nature of the case and the parties, as well as to guarantee that the privacy of the
children party to the case remains protected.
"Idolatrous reverence" for the law sacrifices the human being. The spirit of the law insures
man’s survival and ennobles him. In the words of Shakespeare, "the letter of the law
The primordial consideration is the welfare and best interests of the child. We rule therefore that killeth; its spirit giveth life."
RA 8369 did not divest the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of their jurisdiction over
habeas corpus cases involving the custody of minors. Again, to quote the Solicitor General:
xxx xxx xxx
It is therefore patent that giving effect to the social justice guarantees of the Constitution, within the region where the petitioner resides or where the minor may be found for
as implemented by the provisions of the New Civil Code, is not an exercise of the power hearing and decision on the merits. (Emphasis Ours)
of law-making, but is rendering obedience to the mandates of the fundamental law and
the implementing legislation aforementioned. From the foregoing, there is no doubt that the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have
concurrent jurisdiction with family courts in habeas corpus cases where the custody of minors is
Language is rarely so free from ambiguity as to be incapable of being used in more than one involved.
sense. Sometimes, what the legislature actually had in mind is not accurately reflected in the
language of a statute, and its literal interpretation may render it meaningless, lead to absurdity, One final note. Requiring the serving officer to search for the child all over the country is not an
injustice or contradiction.7 In the case at bar, a literal interpretation of the word "exclusive" will unreasonable availment of a remedy which the Court of Appeals cited as a ground for dismissing
result in grave injustice and negate the policy "to protect the rights and promote the welfare of the petition. As explained by the Solicitor General:10
children"8 under the Constitution and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This mandate must prevail over legal technicalities and serve as the guiding principle in construing
the provisions of RA 8369. That the serving officer will have to "search for the child all over the country" does not
represent an insurmountable or unreasonable obstacle, since such a task is no more
different from or difficult than the duty of the peace officer in effecting a warrant of arrest,
Moreover, settled is the rule in statutory construction that implied repeals are not favored: since the latter is likewise enforceable anywhere within the Philippines.

The two laws must be absolutely incompatible, and a clear finding thereof must surface, WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The petition for habeas corpus in CA-G.R.-SP-
before the inference of implied repeal may be drawn. The rule is expressed in the No. 70501 is hereby REINSTATED and REMANDED to the Court of Appeals, Sixteenth Division.
maxim, interpretare et concordare leqibus est optimus interpretendi, i.e., every statute
must be so interpreted and brought into accord with other laws as to form a uniform
SO ORDERED.
system of jurisprudence. The fundament is that the legislature should be presumed to
have known the existing laws on the subject and not have enacted conflicting statutes.
Hence, all doubts must be resolved against any implied repeal, and all efforts should be
exerted in order to harmonize and give effect to all laws on the subject."9

The provisions of RA 8369 reveal no manifest intent to revoke the jurisdiction of the Court of
Appeals and Supreme Court to issue writs of habeas corpus relating to the custody of minors.
Further, it cannot be said that the provisions of RA 8369, RA 7092 and BP 129 are absolutely
incompatible since RA 8369 does not prohibit the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court from
issuing writs of habeas corpus in cases involving the custody of minors. Thus, the provisions of RA
8369 must be read in harmony with RA 7029 and BP 129 ― that family courts have concurrent
jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court in petitions for habeas corpus where
the custody of minors is at issue.

In any case, whatever uncertainty there was has been settled with the adoption of A.M. No. 03-03-
04-SC Re: Rule on Custody of Minors and Writ of Habeas Corpus in Relation to Custody of
Minors. Section 20 of the rule provides that:

Section 20. Petition for writ of habeas corpus.- A verified petition for a writ of habeas
corpus involving custody of minors shall be filed with the Family Court. The writ shall be
enforceable within its judicial region to which the Family Court belongs.

xxx xxx xxx

The petition may likewise be filed with the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or with any
of its members and, if so granted, the writ shall be enforceable anywhere in the
Philippines. The writ may be made returnable to a Family Court or to any regular court
Republic of the Philippines her duties as a mother. He claimed that, after their squabble on May 18, 2002, it was respondent
SUPREME COURT who left, taking their daughter with her. It was only then that he went to Sta. Rosa, Laguna where
Manila he worked as a tricycle driver. He submitted a certification from the principal of the Dila
Elementary School in Sta. Rosa, Laguna that Ronnick and Phillip were enrolled there. He also
FIRST DIVISION questioned the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals claiming that under Section 5(b) of RA 8369
(otherwise known as the "Family Courts Act of 1997") family courts have exclusive original
jurisdiction to hear and decide the petition for habeas corpus filed by respondent.3
G.R. No. 159374 July 12, 2007

For her part, respondent averred that she did not leave their home on May 18, 2002 but was
FELIPE N. MADRIÑAN, Petitioner,
driven out by petitioner. She alleged that it was petitioner who was an alcoholic, gambler and drug
vs.
addict. Petitioner’s alcoholism and drug addiction impaired his mental faculties, causing him to
FRANCISCA R. MADRIÑAN, Respondent.
commit acts of violence against her and their children. The situation was aggravated by the fact
that their home was adjacent to that of her in-laws who frequently meddled in their personal
DECISION problems.4

CORONA, J.: On October 21, 2002, the Court of Appeals5 rendered a decision6 asserting its authority to take
cognizance of the petition and ruling that, under Article 213 of the Family Code, respondent was
When a family breaks up, the children are always the victims. The ensuing battle for custody of the entitled to the custody of Phillip and Francis Angelo who were at that time aged six and four,
minor children is not only a thorny issue but also a highly sensitive and heart-rending affair. Such respectively, subject to the visitation rights of petitioner. With respect to Ronnick who was then
is the case here. Even the usually technical subject of jurisdiction became emotionally charged. eight years old, the court ruled that his custody should be determined by the proper family court in
a special proceeding on custody of minors under Rule 99 of the Rules of Court.
Petitioner Felipe N. Madriñan and respondent Francisca R. Madriñan were married on July 7,
1993 in Parañaque City. They resided in San Agustin Village, Brgy. Moonwalk, Parañaque City. Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision but it was denied. Hence,
this recourse.
Their union was blessed with three sons and a daughter: Ronnick, born on January 30, 1994;
Phillip, born on November 19, 1996; Francis Angelo, born on May 12, 1998 and Krizia Ann, born Petitioner challenges the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals over the petition for habeas
on December 12, 2000. corpus and insists that jurisdiction over the case is lodged in the family courts under RA 8369. He
invokes Section 5(b) of RA 8369:
After a bitter quarrel on May 18, 2002, petitioner allegedly left their conjugal abode and took their
three sons with him to Ligao City, Albay and subsequently to Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Respondent Section 5. Jurisdiction of Family Courts. – The Family Courts shall have exclusive original
sought the help of her parents and parents-in-law to patch things up between her and petitioner to jurisdiction to hear and decide the following cases:
no avail. She then brought the matter to the Lupong Tagapamayapa in their barangay but this too
proved futile. xxx xxx xxx

Thus respondent filed a petition for habeas corpus of Ronnick, Phillip and Francis Angelo in the b) Petitions for guardianship, custody of children, habeas corpus in relation to the latter;
Court of Appeals, alleging that petitioner’s act of leaving the conjugal dwelling and going to Albay
and then to Laguna disrupted the education of their children and deprived them of their mother’s xxx xxx xxx
care. She prayed that petitioner be ordered to appear and produce their sons before the court and
to explain why they should not be returned to her custody.
Petitioner is wrong.
Petitioner and respondent appeared at the hearing on September 17, 2002. They initially agreed
that petitioner would return the custody of their three sons to respondent. Petitioner, however, had In Thornton v. Thornton,7 this Court resolved the issue of the Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction to issue
a change of heart1 and decided to file a memorandum. writs of habeas corpus in cases involving custody of minors in the light of the provision in RA 8369
giving family courts exclusive original jurisdiction over such petitions:
On September 3, 2002, petitioner filed his memorandum2 alleging that respondent was unfit to
take custody of their three sons because she was habitually drunk, frequently went home late at
night or in the wee hours of the morning, spent much of her time at a beer house and neglected
The Court of Appeals should take cognizance of the case since there is nothing in RA 8369 We note that after petitioner moved out of their Parañaque residence on May 18, 2002, he twice
that revoked its jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus involving the custody of transferred his sons to provinces covered by different judicial regions. This situation is what
minors. the Thornton interpretation of RA 8369’s provision on jurisdiction precisely addressed:

xxx xxx xxx [The reasoning that by giving family courts exclusive jurisdiction over habeas corpus cases, the
lawmakers intended them to be the sole courts which can issue writs of habeas corpus] will result
We rule therefore that RA 8369 did not divest the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of in an iniquitous situation, leaving individuals like [respondent] without legal recourse in obtaining
their jurisdiction over habeas corpus cases involving the custody of minors. custody of their children. Individuals who do not know the whereabouts of minors they are looking
for would be helpless since they cannot seek redress from family courts whose writs are
enforceable only in their respective territorial jurisdictions. Thus, if a minor is being transferred
xxx xxx xxx
from one place to another, which seems to be the case here, the petitioner in a habeas
corpuscase will be left without legal remedy. This lack of recourse could not have been the
The provisions of RA 8369 reveal no manifest intent to revoke the jurisdiction of the Court of intention of the lawmakers when they passed [RA 8369].10
Appeals and Supreme Court to issue writs of habeas corpus relating to the custody of minors.
Further, it cannot be said that the provisions of RA 8369, RA 7092 [An Act Expanding the
Moreover, a careful reading of Section 5(b) of RA 8369 reveals that family courts are vested with
Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals] and BP 129 [The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980] are
original exclusive jurisdiction in custody cases, not in habeas corpus cases. Writs of habeas
absolutely incompatible since RA 8369 does not prohibit the Court of Appeals and the Supreme
corpus which may be issued exclusively by family courts under Section 5(b) of RA 8369 pertain to
Court from issuing writs of habeas corpus in cases involving the custody of minors. Thus, the the ancillary remedy that may be availed of in conjunction with a petition for custody of minors
provisions of RA 8369 must be read in harmony with RA 7029 and BP 129 – that family courts
under Rule 99 of the Rules of Court. In other words, the issuance of the writ is merely ancillary to
have concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court in petitions
the custody case pending before the family court. The writ must be issued by the same court to
for habeas corpus where the custody of minors is at issue.8 (emphases supplied)
avoid splitting of jurisdiction, conflicting decisions, interference by a co-equal court and judicial
instability.
The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals over petitions for habeas corpus was further affirmed by
A.M. No. 03-03-04-SC (April 22, 2004) in Re: Rule on Custody of Minors and Writ of Habeas
The rule therefore is: when by law jurisdiction is conferred on a court or judicial officer, all auxiliary
Corpus in Relation to Custody of Minors:
writs, processes and other means necessary to carry it into effect may be employed by such court
or officer.11 Once a court acquires jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case, it does so to the
In any case, whatever uncertainty there was has been settled with the adoption of A.M. No. exclusion of all other courts, including related incidents and ancillary matters.
03-03-04-SC Re: Rule on Custody of Minors and Writ of Habeas Corpus in Relation to
Custody of Minors. Section 20 of the rule provides that: Accordingly, the petition is hereby DENIED.

Section 20. Petition for writ of habeas corpus. – A verified petition for a writ of habeas corpus Costs against petitioner.
involving custody of minors shall be filed with the Family Court. The writ shall be enforceable
within its judicial region to which the Family Court belongs.
SO ORDERED.
xxx xxx xxx

The petition may likewise be filed with the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or with any of its
members and, if so granted, the writ shall be enforceable anywhere in the Philippines. The
writ may be made returnable to a Family Court or to any regular court within the region where the
petitioner resides or where the minor may be found for hearing and decision on the merits.

From the foregoing, there is no doubt that the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have
concurrent jurisdiction with family courts in habeas corpus cases where the custody of
minors is involved.9 (emphases supplied)1avvphi1
Republic of the Philippines The Factual Antecedents
SUPREME COURT
Manila On March 23, 2006, Rosalie Jaype-Garcia (private respondent) filed, for herself and in behalf of
her minor children, a verified petition6 (Civil Case No. 06-797) before the Regional Trial Court
EN BANC (RTC) of Bacolod City for the issuance of a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) against her
husband, Jesus C. Garcia (petitioner), pursuant to R.A. 9262. She claimed to be a victim of
G.R. No. 179267 June 25, 2013 physical abuse; emotional, psychological, and economic violence as a result of marital infidelity on
the part of petitioner, with threats of deprivation of custody of her children and of financial support. 7
JESUS C. GARCIA, Petitioner,
vs. Private respondent's claims
THE HONORABLE RAY ALAN T. DRILON, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court-Branch 41,
Bacolod City, and ROSALIE JAYPE-GARCIA, for herself and in behalf of minor children, Private respondent married petitioner in 2002 when she was 34 years old and the former was
namely: JO-ANN, JOSEPH EDUARD, JESSE ANTHONE, all surnamed eleven years her senior. They have three (3) children, namely: Jo-Ann J. Garcia, 17 years old,
GARCIA, Respondents. who is the natural child of petitioner but whom private respondent adopted; Jessie Anthone J.
Garcia, 6 years old; and Joseph Eduard J. Garcia, 3 years old.8
DECISION
Private respondent described herself as a dutiful and faithful wife, whose life revolved around her
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: husband. On the other hand, petitioner, who is of Filipino-Chinese descent, is dominant,
controlling, and demands absolute obedience from his wife and children. He forbade private
respondent to pray, and deliberately isolated her from her friends. When she took up law, and
Hailed as the bastion of Christianity in Asia, the Philippines boasts of 86.8 million Filipinos- or 93
even when she was already working part time at a law office, petitioner trivialized her ambitions
percent of a total population of 93.3 million – adhering to the teachings of Jesus Christ.1 Yet, the
and prevailed upon her to just stay at home. He was often jealous of the fact that his attractive
admonition for husbands to love their wives as their own bodies just as Christ loved the church wife still catches the eye of some men, at one point threatening that he would have any man
and gave himself up for her2 failed to prevent, or even to curb, the pervasiveness of violence eyeing her killed.9
against Filipino women. The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW)
reported that, for the years 2000-2003, "female violence comprised more than 90o/o of all forms of
abuse and violence and more than 90% of these reported cases were committed by the women's Things turned for the worse when petitioner took up an affair with a bank manager of Robinson's
intimate partners such as their husbands and live-in partners."3 Bank, Bacolod City, who is the godmother of one of their sons. Petitioner admitted to the affair
when private respondent confronted him about it in 2004. He even boasted to the household help
about his sexual relations with said bank manager. Petitioner told private respondent, though, that
Thus, on March 8, 2004, after nine (9) years of spirited advocacy by women's groups, Congress he was just using the woman because of their accounts with the bank.10
enacted Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9262, entitled "An Act Defining Violence Against Women and
Their Children, Providing for Protective Measures for Victims, Prescribing Penalties Therefor, and
for Other Purposes." It took effect on March 27, 2004.4 Petitioner's infidelity spawned a series of fights that left private respondent physically and
emotionally wounded. In one of their quarrels, petitioner grabbed private respondent on both arms
and shook her with such force that caused bruises and hematoma. At another time, petitioner hit
R.A. 9262 is a landmark legislation that defines and criminalizes acts of violence against women
private respondent forcefully on the lips that caused some bleeding. Petitioner sometimes turned
and their children (VAWC) perpetrated by women's intimate partners, i.e, husband; former
his ire on their daughter, Jo-Ann, who had seen the text messages he sent to his paramour and
husband; or any person who has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom the woman
whom he blamed for squealing on him. He beat Jo-Ann on the chest and slapped her many times.
has a common child.5 The law provides for protection orders from the barangay and the courts to
When private respondent decided to leave petitioner, Jo-Ann begged her mother to stay for fear
prevent the commission of further acts of VAWC; and outlines the duties and responsibilities of
that if the latter leaves, petitioner would beat her up. Even the small boys are aware of private
barangay officials, law enforcers, prosecutors and court personnel, social workers, health care
respondent's sufferings. Their 6-year-old son said that when he grows up, he would beat up his
providers, and other local government officials in responding to complaints of VAWC or requests father because of his cruelty to private respondent.11
for assistance.

All the emotional and psychological turmoil drove private respondent to the brink of despair. On
A husband is now before the Court assailing the constitutionality of R.A. 9262 as being violative of
December 17, 2005, while at home, she attempted suicide by cutting her wrist. She was found by
the equal protection and due process clauses, and an undue delegation of judicial power to
her son bleeding on the floor. Petitioner simply fled the house instead of taking her to the hospital.
barangay officials.
Private respondent was hospitalized for about seven (7) days in which time petitioner never
bothered to visit, nor apologized or showed pity on her. Since then, private respondent has been After the Respondent leaves or is removed from the conjugal dwelling, or anytime the
undergoing therapy almost every week and is taking anti-depressant medications.12 Petitioner decides to return to the conjugal dwelling to remove things, the Petitioner shall
be assisted by police officers when re-entering the family home.
When private respondent informed the management of Robinson's Bank that she intends to file
charges against the bank manager, petitioner got angry with her for jeopardizing the manager's The Chief of Police shall also give the Petitioner police assistance on Sunday, 26 March
job. He then packed his things and told private respondent that he was leaving her for good. He 2006 because of the danger that the Respondent will attempt to take her children from
even told private respondent's mother, who lives with them in the family home, that private her when he arrives from Manila and finds out about this suit.
respondent should just accept his extramarital affair since he is not cohabiting with his paramour
and has not sired a child with her.13 b) To stay away from the petitioner and her children, mother and all her household help
and driver from a distance of 1,000 meters, and shall not enter the gate of the subdivision
Private respondent is determined to separate from petitioner but she is afraid that he would take where the Petitioner may be temporarily residing.
her children from her and deprive her of financial support. Petitioner had previously warned her
that if she goes on a legal battle with him, she would not get a single centavo.14 c) Not to harass, annoy, telephone, contact or otherwise communicate with the Petitioner,
directly or indirectly, or through other persons, or contact directly or indirectly her children,
Petitioner controls the family businesses involving mostly the construction of deep wells. He is the mother and household help, nor send gifts, cards, flowers, letters and the like. Visitation
President of three corporations – 326 Realty Holdings, Inc., Negros Rotadrill Corporation, and J- rights to the children may be subject of a modified TPO in the future.
Bros Trading Corporation – of which he and private respondent are both stockholders. In contrast
to the absolute control of petitioner over said corporations, private respondent merely draws a d) To surrender all his firearms including a .9MM caliber firearm and a Walther PPK and
monthly salary of ₱20,000.00 from one corporation only, the Negros Rotadrill Corporation. ordering the Philippine National Police Firearms and Explosives Unit and the Provincial
Household expenses amounting to not less than ₱200,000.00 a month are paid for by private Director of the PNP to cancel all the Respondent's firearm licenses. He should also be
respondent through the use of credit cards, which, in turn, are paid by the same corporation ordered to surrender any unlicensed firearms in his possession or control.
together with the bills for utilities.15
e) To pay full financial support for the Petitioner and the children, including rental of a
On the other hand, petitioner receives a monthly salary of ₱60,000.00 from Negros Rotadrill house for them, and educational and medical expenses.
Corporation, and enjoys unlimited cash advances and other benefits in hundreds of thousands of
pesos from the corporations.16 After private respondent confronted him about the affair, petitioner
f) Not to dissipate the conjugal business.
forbade her to hold office at JBTC Building, Mandalagan, where all the businesses of the
corporations are conducted, thereby depriving her of access to full information about said
businesses. Until the filing of the petition a quo, petitioner has not given private respondent an g) To render an accounting of all advances, benefits, bonuses and other cash he received
accounting of the businesses the value of which she had helped raise to millions of pesos. 17 from all the corporations from 1 January 2006 up to 31 March 2006, which himself and as
President of the corporations and his Comptroller, must submit to the Court not later than
Action of the RTC of Bacolod City 2 April 2006. Thereafter, an accounting of all these funds shall be reported to the court by
the Comptroller, copy furnished to the Petitioner, every 15 days of the month, under pain
of Indirect Contempt of Court.
Finding reasonable ground to believe that an imminent danger of violence against the private
respondent and her children exists or is about to recur, the RTC issued a TPO 18 on March 24,
2006 effective for thirty (30) days, which is quoted hereunder: h) To ensure compliance especially with the order granting support pendente lite, and
considering the financial resources of the Respondent and his threat that if the Petitioner
sues she will not get a single centavo, the Respondent is ordered to put up a BOND TO
Respondent (petitioner herein), Jesus Chua Garcia, is hereby: KEEP THE PEACE in the amount of FIVE MILLION PESOS, in two sufficient sureties.

a) Ordered to remove all his personal belongings from the conjugal dwelling or family On April 24, 2006, upon motion19 of private respondent, the trial court issued an amended
home within 24 hours from receipt of the Temporary Restraining Order and if he refuses, TPO,20 effective for thirty (30) days, which included the following additional provisions:
ordering that he be removed by police officers from the conjugal dwelling; this order is
enforceable notwithstanding that the house is under the name of 236 Realty Holdings Inc.
i) The petitioners (private respondents herein) are given the continued use of the Nissan
(Republic Act No. 9262 states "regardless of ownership"), this is to allow the Petitioner
Patrol and the Starex Van which they are using in Negros Occidental.
(private respondent herein) to enter the conjugal dwelling without any danger from the
Respondent.
j) The petitioners are given the continued use and occupation of the house in Parañaque, e) That respondent surrender his two firearms and all unlicensed firearms to the Clerk of
the continued use of the Starex van in Metro Manila, whenever they go to Manila. Court within 24 hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel;

k) Respondent is ordered to immediately post a bond to keep the peace, in two sufficient f) That respondent shall pay petitioner educational expenses of the children upon
sureties. presentation of proof of payment of such expenses.23

l) To give monthly support to the petitioner provisionally fixed in the sum of One Hundred Claiming that petitioner continued to deprive them of financial support; failed to faithfully comply
Fifty Thousand Pesos (Php 150,000.00) per month plus rental expenses of Fifty with the TPO; and committed new acts of harassment against her and their children, private
Thousand Pesos (Php 50,000.00) per month until the matter of support could be finally respondent filed another application24 for the issuance of a TPO ex parte. She alleged inter
resolved.
alia that petitioner contrived a replevin suit against himself by J-Bros Trading, Inc., of which the
Two days later, or on April 26, 2006, petitioner filed an Opposition to the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion latter was purportedly no longer president, with the end in view of recovering the Nissan Patrol
for Renewal of the TPO21 seeking the denial of the renewal of the TPO on the grounds that it did and Starex Van used by private respondent and the children. A writ of replevin was served upon
not (1) comply with the three-day notice rule, and (2) contain a notice of hearing. He further asked private respondent by a group of six or seven policemen with long firearms that scared the two
that the TPO be modified by (1) removing one vehicle used by private respondent and returning small boys, Jessie Anthone and Joseph Eduard.25
the same to its rightful owner, the J-Bros Trading Corporation, and (2) cancelling or reducing the
amount of the bond from ₱5,000,000.00 to a more manageable level at ₱100,000.00. While Joseph Eduard, then three years old, was driven to school, two men allegedly attempted to
kidnap him, which incident traumatized the boy resulting in his refusal to go back to school. On
Subsequently, on May 23, 2006, petitioner moved22 for the modification of the TPO to allow him another occasion, petitioner allegedly grabbed their daughter, Jo-Ann, by the arm and threatened
visitation rights to his children. her.26 The incident was reported to the police, and Jo-Ann subsequently filed a criminal complaint
against her father for violation of R.A. 7610, also known as the "Special Protection of Children
On May 24, 2006, the TPO was renewed and extended yet again, but subject only to the following Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act."
modifications prayed for by private respondent:
Aside from the replevin suit, petitioner's lawyers initiated the filing by the housemaids working at
a) That respondent (petitioner herein) return the clothes and other personal belongings of the conjugal home of a complaint for kidnapping and illegal detention against private respondent.
Rosalie and her children to Judge Jesus Ramos, co-counsel for Petitioner, within 24 This came about after private respondent, armed with a TPO, went to said home to get her and
hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel, otherwise be her children's belongings. Finding some of her things inside a housemaid's (Sheryl Jamola) bag in
declared in Indirect Contempt of Court; the maids' room, private respondent filed a case for qualified theft against Jamola.27

b) Respondent shall make an accounting or list of furniture and equipment in the conjugal On August 23, 2006, the RTC issued a TPO,28 effective for thirty (30) days, which reads as
house in Pitimini St., Capitolville Subdivision, Bacolod City within 24 hours from receipt of follows:
the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel;
Respondent (petitioner herein), Jesus Chua Garcia, is hereby:
c) Ordering the Chief of the Women's Desk of the Bacolod City Police Headquarters to
remove Respondent from the conjugal dwelling within eight (8) hours from receipt of the 1) Prohibited from threatening to commit or committing, personally or through another,
Temporary Protection Order by his counsel, and that he cannot return until 48 hours after acts of violence against the offended party;
the petitioners have left, so that the petitioner Rosalie and her representatives can
remove things from the conjugal home and make an inventory of the household furniture, 2) Prohibited from harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting or otherwise
equipment and other things in the conjugal home, which shall be submitted to the Court. communicating in any form with the offended party, either directly or indirectly;

d) Deliver full financial support of Php200,000.00 and Php50,000.00 for rental and 3) Required to stay away, personally or through his friends, relatives, employees or
Php25,000.00 for clothes of the three petitioners (sic) children within 24 hours from agents, from all the Petitioners Rosalie J. Garcia and her children, Rosalie J. Garcia's
receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel, otherwise be declared in three brothers, her mother Primitiva Jaype, cook Novelita Caranzo, driver Romeo
indirect contempt of Court; Hontiveros, laundrywoman Mercedita Bornales, security guard Darwin Gayona and the
petitioner's other household helpers from a distance of 1,000 meters, and shall not enter
the gate of the subdivision where the Petitioners are temporarily residing, as well as from
the schools of the three children; Furthermore, that respondent shall not contact the x x x it appearing further that the hearing could not yet be finally terminated, the Temporary
schools of the children directly or indirectly in any manner including, ostensibly to pay for Protection Order issued on August 23, 2006 is hereby renewed and extended for thirty (30) days
their tuition or other fees directly, otherwise he will have access to the children through and continuously extended and renewed for thirty (30) days, after each expiration, until further
the schools and the TPO will be rendered nugatory; orders, and subject to such modifications as may be ordered by the court.

4) Directed to surrender all his firearms including .9MM caliber firearm and a Walther PPK After having received a copy of the foregoing Order, petitioner no longer submitted the required
to the Court; comment to private respondent's motion for renewal of the TPO arguing that it would only be an
"exercise in futility."33
5) Directed to deliver in full financial support of Php200,000.00 a month and
Php50,000.00 for rental for the period from August 6 to September 6, 2006; and support Proceedings before the CA
in arrears from March 2006 to August 2006 the total amount of Php1,312,000.00;
During the pendency of Civil Case No. 06-797, petitioner filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) a
6) Directed to deliver educational expenses for 2006-2007 the amount of Php75,000.00 petition34 for prohibition (CA-G.R. CEB-SP. No. 01698), with prayer for injunction and temporary
and Php25,000.00; restraining order, challenging (1) the constitutionality of R.A. 9262 for being violative of the due
process and the equal protection clauses, and (2) the validity of the modified TPO issued in the
7) Directed to allow the continued use of a Nissan Patrol with Plate No. FEW 508 and a civil case for being "an unwanted product of an invalid law."
Starex van with Plate No. FFD 991 and should the respondent fail to deliver said vehicles,
respondent is ordered to provide the petitioner another vehicle which is the one taken by On May 26, 2006, the appellate court issued a 60-day Temporary Restraining Order36 (TRO)
J Bros Tading; against the enforcement of the TPO, the amended TPOs and other orders pursuant thereto.

8) Ordered not to dissipate, encumber, alienate, sell, lease or otherwise dispose of the Subsequently, however, on January 24, 2007, the appellate court dismissed 36 the petition for
conjugal assets, or those real properties in the name of Jesus Chua Garcia only and failure of petitioner to raise the constitutional issue in his pleadings before the trial court in the civil
those in which the conjugal partnership of gains of the Petitioner Rosalie J. Garcia and case, which is clothed with jurisdiction to resolve the same. Secondly, the challenge to the validity
respondent have an interest in, especially the conjugal home located in No. 14, Pitimini
St., Capitolville Subdivision, Bacolod City, and other properties which are conjugal assets of R.A. 9262 through a petition for prohibition seeking to annul the protection orders issued by the
or those in which the conjugal partnership of gains of Petitioner Rosalie J. Garcia and the trial court constituted a collateral attack on said law.
respondent have a