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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 70443 September 15, 1986

BRAULIO CONDE, RUFINA CONDE, GERARDO CONDE, CONCHITA C. LUNDANG,


and ALFREDO VENTURA, petitioners,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, HON. CESAR C. PERALEJO, in his capacity
as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch LXVI, Third Judicial Region,
Capas, Tarlac, and MARCELO GUTIERREZ, respondents.

Tomas P. Matic, Jr. for petitioners.

Adelaido G. Rivera for private respondent.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

On January 16, 1984, the petitioners filed an action to annul the judgment
of the Court of Appeals dated September 23, 1981, which reversed the
decision of the Regional Trial Court and ordered the petitioners and/or their
successors-in-interest to deliver immediately the ownership and possession
of the property in question to the then plaintiff-appellant Marcelo Gutierrez.
In their complaint filed before the Regional Trial Court of Capas, Tarlac, the
petitioners alleged that through fraud, Gutierrez was able to make it appear
that he was the son of Esteban Gutierrez and Fermina Ramos and as a
necessary consequence of such filiation, was the absolute owner by
succession of the property in question.

On February 27, 1984, the trial court dismissed the petitioners' complaint
on the ground that it had no jurisdiction to annul the judgment of the Court
of Appeals. Upon the denial of their motion for reconsideration, the
petitioners filed a petition for certiorari, mandamus and a writ of injunction
before the appellate court. The said court in turn, dismissed the petition and
a subsequent motion for reconsideration on the grounds that a Regional
Trial Court is without jurisdiction to annul the judgment of the Court of
Appeals and that only the Supreme Court is empowered to review the
judgment of said appellate court. Hence, the petitioners elevated the case
before this Court.

On August 31, 1984, we issued a resolution dated August 22, 1984,


remanding the case to the appellate court for decision on the merits.

The resolution reads as follows:

The respondent intermediate Appellate Court erred when it


declared that the complaint for annulment of judgment in this
case should be filed with the Supreme Court. This Court has no
p.ii

original jurisdiction to look into allegations of fraud upon which


the complaint for annulment is based. In January, 1984, the
petitioners filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court of
Tarlac seeking among other things the annulment of a decision
which had already passed, on appeal, the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. No. 60139-R. On February 17, 1984, the lower court
dismissed the petitioners' complaint for annulment of judgment.
The petitioners appealed the dismissal to the respondent
Intermediate Appellate Court which denied due course to the
petition stating that what is sought to be annulled is a decision
of the Court of Appeals over which the regional trial court is
obviously without jurisdiction. The decision sought to be
annulled calls for the turning over of possession to the original
respondent of the disputed properties. While the judgment
being enforced may have been that of the Court of Appeals, it
was actually an appellate judgment rendered on a review of the
trial court's decision. Considering that Section 9 of the Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1980-B.P. No. 129 gives the Intermediate
Appellate Court exclusive jurisdiction over actions for
annulment of judgments of regional trial courts, the COURT
RESOLVED to REMAND this case to the Intermediate
Appellate Court for it to hear and decide the action.

On January 29, 1985, the appellate court rendered a decision dismissing


the petition for lack of jurisdiction and for lack of merit. In its decision on the
issue of jurisdiction, the respondent court ruled that since the decision of
the Metropolitan Trial Court can be annulled by the Regional Trial Court
and a decision of the latter is annullable by the Court of Appeals, then
logically the decision of the appellate court should be annullable only by the
Supreme Court. Moreover, the appellate court ruled that it is but logical to
conclude that it cannot annul its own decision unless there is an express
grant under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980. Finding none, it
stated that it must perforce dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

On the merits of the petition, the appellate court ruled that the fraud relied
upon by the petitioners is only intrinsic and thus, even on the assumption
that it has jurisdiction to decide the case, still the same has no merit. It
dismissed the petition. The petitioners elevated this decision to us.

On June 5, 1985, we resolved to require the respondents to comment on


the petition. Notwithstanding proof that a copy of the petition was served on
the respondents' counsel on June 24, 1985, no comment has been filed.

We decide the petition.

We need not emphasize the rule that this Court decides appeals which only
involve questions of law and that "it is not the function of the Supreme
Court to analyze or weigh such evidence all over again, its jurisdiction
being limited to receiving errors of law that might have been committed by
p.iii

the lower court." (Baniqued v. Court of Appeals, 127 SCRA 596, 601; citing
Tiongco v. de la Merced, 58 SCRA 89). It was, thus, totally pointless for the
Intermediate Appellate Court to delve into the question of whether or not it
has jurisdiction to pass upon the merits of the petition which then alleged
the perpetration of fraud by one of the parties in the original case, and
which thereby called for a review of the factual findings of the court.
Furthermore, the fact that this Court already remanded the case to the
appellate court for decision on the merits should have prompted the latter
to limit its decision only to the merits of the case.

There are instances when this Court desires a further review of facts or a
detailed analysis and systematic presentation of issues which the appellate
court is in a more favored position to accomplish. Standing between the
trial courts and the Supreme Court, the appellate court was precisely
created to take over much of the work that used to be previously done by
this Court. It has been of great help to the Supreme Court in synthesizing
facts, issues, and rulings in an orderly and intelligible manner and in
Identifying errors which ordinarily might have escaped detection. Statistics
will show that the great majority of petitions to review the decisions of the
appellate court have been denied due course for lack of merit in minute
resolutions. The appellate court has, therefore, freed this Court to better
discharge its constitutional duties and perform its most important work
which, in the words of Dean Vicente G. Sinco, "is less concerned with the
decision of cases that begin and end with the transient rights and
obligations of particular individuals but is more intertwined with the direction
of national policies, momentous economic and social problems, the
delimitation of governmental authority and its impact upon fundamental
rights." (Philippine Political Law, 10th Edition, p. 323). It is, therefore,
difficult to understand why a Division of the Intermediate Appellate Court
should hesitate to help the Supreme Court and to act on an action which it
was specifically ordered to hear and decide.

If its initial hesitation was due to doubts about the correctness of our action,
then it should recall the admonition in Tugade v. Court of Appeals (85
SCRA 226, 230-231) that:

xxx xxx xxx

Respondent Court of Appeals really was devoid of any choice


at all It could not have ruled in any other way on the legal
question raised. This Tribunal having spoken, its duty was to
obey. It is as simple as that. There is relevance to this excerpt
from Barrera v. Barrera (34 SCRA 98): 'The delicate task of
ascertaining the significance that attaches to a constitutional or
statutory provision, an executive order, a procedural norm or a
municipal ordinance is committed to the judiciary. It thus
discharges a role no less crucial than that appertaining to the
other two departments in the maintenance of the rule of law. To
assure stability in legal relations and avoid confusion, it has to
p.iv

speak with one voice. It does so with finality, logically and


rightly, through the highest judicial organ, this Court. What it
says then should be definitive and authoritative, binding on
those occupying the lower ranks in the judicial hierarchy. They
have to defer and to submit.' (Ibid. 107. The opinion of Justice
Laurel in People v. Vera, 65 Phil. 56 [1937] was cited.) The
ensuing paragraphs of the opinion in Barrera further
emphasizes the point: 'Such a thought was reiterated in an
opinion of Justice J.B.L. Reyes and further emphasized in these
words: 'Judge Gaudencio Cloribel need not be reminded that
the Supreme Court, by tradition and in our system of judicial
administration, has the last word on what the law is it is the final
arbiter of any justifiable controversy. There is only one
Supreme Court from whose decisions an other courts should
take their bearings. (Justice J.B.L. Reyes spoke thus in Albert
v. Court of First Instance of Manila [Br. VI], 23 SCRA 948, 961).

The fault of the Intermediate Appellate Court is mitigated by the fact that it
still decided the remanded case on the merits. It stated:

On February of 1950 an original complaint for recovery of


possession of a parcel of land was filed before the Court of First
Instance of Tarlac, which was subsequently amended on March
19, 1951.

On May 20, 1976, after a full blown trial the Regional Trial Court
Branch 64 (formerly Court of First Instance) of Tarlac, rendered
a decision dismissing the complaint and ordering plaintiff
Marcelo Gutierrez to pay the defendants the costs of the suit.
The dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the


complaint and ordering plaintiff Marcelo Gutierrez to pay the
defendants the costs of this suit. He (sic) pronouncement as to
damages for want of proof.

From the above judgment an appeal was filed with the Court of
Appeals.

On September 23, 1981, the then Court of Appeals reversed


the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 64, this time
ordering the ten appellees (now petitioners) to deliver the
ownership and possession of the litigated property to then
appellant (now respondent Marcelo Gutierrez), which decision
became final and executory on December 20, 1982, the
dispositive portion of which reads, as follows:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the decision


appealed from, not being in accordance with the applicable law
p.v

and evidence and finding validity in the errors assigned, is


hereby reversed and set aside. In lieu thereof, another one is
entered ordering defendants-appellees and/or their successors-
in-interest to deliver immediately the ownership and possession
of the property described under par. 3 of the complaint to herein
plaintiff- appellant Marcelo Gutierrez. With costs.

On January 16, 1984, an action to annul the judgment of the


former Court of Appeals was filed before the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 56, Third Judicial Region in Capas, Tarlac.

On February 27, 1984, the respondent Court (Regional Trial


Court), dismissed the case for annulment of judgment on the
ground that it has no jurisdiction to annul the judgment of the
Court of Appeals.

On March 19, 1984, the motion for reconsideration filed by


herein petitioner was denied by the respondent court.
Accordingly, a petition for certiorari, mandamus and a writ of
injunction was filed before the Intermediate Appellate Court and
raffled to the Third Special Cases Division, The court dismissed
the petition for lack of merit on the ground that a Regional Trial
Court is without jurisdiction to annul a judgment of the
Intermediate Appellate Court, the dispositive portion of which
reads:

WHEREFORE, this case should be, as it is hereby DISMISSED


OUTRIGHT. With costs against the petitioners.

On June 14, 1984, the motion for reconsideration filed by herein


petitioner was denied by this Court.

xxx xxx xxx

Finally, a judgment based on alleged false testimony is not an


extrinsic fraud by which an action for annulment of judgment
could be grounded. The Supreme Court in Ilacad v. Court of
Appeals (supra, p. 302), declared that:

xxx xxx xxx

... and speaking of extrinsic fraud, it is that fraudulent scheme of the


prevailing litigant which prevents a party from having his day in court from
presenting his case. Fraud has been regarded as extrinsic or collateral,
within the meaning of the rule 'where it is one of the effect of which
prevents a party from having a trial, or real contests, or from presenting all
of his case to the court, or where it operates upon matters pertaining not to
the judgment itself, but to the manner by which it was procured so that
there is not a fair submission of the controversy. In other words, extrinsic
p.vi

fraud refers to any fraudulent act of the prevailing party in the litigation
which is committed outside of the trial of the case, where the defeated party
has been prevented from presenting fully his side of the case, by fraud or
deception practiced on him by his opponent.

The resort to fraud in introducing fabricated evidence is


definitely an intrinsic fraud, hence false testimony being a
matter of evidence is definitely intrinsic and not extrinsic. Fraud
consisting in acting fictitious cause of false testimony is intrinsic
(sic) (Francisco v. David, 38 CG 714). Intrinsic fraud takes the
form of acts of a party in a litigation during the trial such as the
use of forged instruments or perjured testimony, which did not
affect the presentation of the case, but did prevent a fair and
just determination of the case (Libudan v. Palma, [S1, 45 SCRA
17]). Intrinsic fraud is not sufficient to attack a judgment (Yatco
v. Sumagui, 44623-R, July 31, 1971).

Petitioners stand that extrinsic fraud was employed by the


respondents, is bereft of any factual basis, hence, even on the
assumption that this court has jurisdiction to decide this issue,
still the petitioners cause of action must fail.

A careful review of the present petition and of the records of the appellate
court on this case shows that even on the assumption that all the facts
alleged in the petition are true, the petition should be dismissed for lack of
merit because the fraud allegedly perpetrated by the private respondent in
AC-G.R. SP No. 03301 is only intrinsic in nature and not extrinsic. Fraud is
regarded as extrinsic or collateral where it has prevented a party from
having a trial or from presenting an of his case to the court. (Asian Surety
and Insurance Co. v. Island Steel, Inc., 118 SCRA 233, 239; citing Amuran
v. Aquino, 38 Phil. 29). In the case at bar, the fraud was in the nature of
documents allegedly manufactured by Marcelo Gutierrez to make it appear
that he was the rightful heir of the disputed property, Hence, the
Intermediate Appellate Court is correct in finding the fraud to be intrinsic in
nature.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. The


respondents' counsel, Atty. Adelaido G. Rivera is fined Five Hundred
Pesos (P500.00) for his failure to act on the order to file comment.

SO ORDERED.

Feria (Chairman), Fernan, Alampay and Paras, JJ., concur,

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation


January 2014 Philippine Supreme Court
Rulings on Remedial Law
Here are select January 2014 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on
remedial law:

Civil Procedure

Action to annul judgment or final order; jurisdiction. In 1981, the Legislature


enacted Batas Pambansa Blg.129 (Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980). Among
several innovations of this legislative enactment was the formal establishment of
the annulment of a judgment or final order as an action independent from the
generic classification of litigations in which the subject matter was not capable of
pecuniary estimation, and expressly vested the exclusive original jurisdiction over
such action in the CA. The action in which the subject of the litigation was
incapable of pecuniary estimation continued to be under the exclusive original
jurisdiction of the RTC, which replaced the CFI as the court of general jurisdiction.
Since then, the RTC no longer had jurisdiction over an action to annul the
judgment of the RTC, eliminating all concerns about judicial stability. To
implement this change, the Court introduced a new procedure to govern the action
to annul the judgment of the RTC in the 1997 revision of the Rules of Court under
Rule 47, directing in Section 2 thereof that “[t]he annulment may be based only on
the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.” Pinausukan Seafood
House-Roxas Blvd., Inc. v. Far East Bank and Trust Cp., now Bank of the
Philippine Islands, et al., G.R. No. 159926, January 20, 2014.

Action to annul judgment or final order; lack of jurisdiction; types. Lack of


jurisdiction on the part of the trial court in rendering the judgment or final order is
either lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action, or lack of
jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner. The former is a matter of substantive
law because statutory law defines the jurisdiction of the courts over the subject
matter or nature of the action. The latter is a matter of procedural law, for it
involves the service of summons or other process on the petitioner. A judgment or
final order issued by the trial court without jurisdiction over the subject matter or
nature of the action is always void, and, in the words of Justice Street in Banco
Español-Filipino v. Palanca (37 Phil 949 [1918]), “in this sense it may be said to be
a lawless thing, which can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored
wherever and whenever it exhibits its head.” But the defect of lack of jurisdiction
over the person, being a matter of procedural law, may be waived by the party
concerned either expressly or impliedly. Pinausukan Seafood House-Roxas Blvd.,
Inc. v. Far East Bank and Trust Cp., now Bank of the Philippine Islands, et al.,
G.R. No. 159926, January 20, 2014.

Action to annul judgment or final order; nature. The Court has expounded on the
nature of the remedy of annulment of judgment or final order in Dare Adventure
Farm Corporation v. Court of Appeals (681 SCRA 580, 586-587 [2012]), viz:

“A petition for annulment of judgment is a remedy in equity so exceptional in


nature that it may be availed of only when other remedies are wanting, and only if
p.ii

the judgment, final order or final resolution sought to be annulled was rendered by
a court lacking jurisdiction or through extrinsic fraud. Yet, the remedy, being
exceptional in character, is not allowed to be so easily and readily abused by
parties aggrieved by the final judgments, orders or resolutions. The Court has thus
instituted safeguards by limiting the grounds for the annulment to lack of
jurisdiction and extrinsic fraud, and by prescribing in Section 1 of Rule 47 of the
Rules of Court that the petitioner should show that the ordinary remedies of new
trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer
available through no fault of the petitioner. A petition for annulment that ignores or
disregards any of the safeguards cannot prosper. x x x”

The objective of the remedy of annulment of judgment or final order is to undo or


set aside the judgment or final order, and thereby grant to the petitioner an
opportunity to prosecute his cause or to ventilate his defense. If the ground relied
upon is lack of jurisdiction, the entire proceedings are set aside without prejudice
to the original action being refiled in the proper court. If the judgment or final
order or resolution is set aside on the ground of extrinsic fraud, the CA may on
motion order the trial court to try the case as if a timely motion for new trial had
been granted therein. The remedy is by no means an appeal whereby the
correctness of the assailed judgment or final order is in issue; hence, the CA is not
called upon to address each error allegedly committed by the trial court.
Pinausukan Seafood House-Roxas Blvd., Inc. v. Far East Bank and Trust Cp., now
Bank of the Philippine Islands, et al., G.R. No. 159926, January 20, 2014.

Action to annul judgment or final order; prescriptive period. The third requirement
sets the time for the filing of the action. The action, if based on extrinsic fraud,
must be filed within four years from the discovery of the extrinsic fraud; and if
based on lack of jurisdiction, must be brought before it is barred by laches or
estoppel. Pinausukan Seafood House-Roxas Blvd., Inc. v. Far East Bank and Trust
Cp., now Bank of the Philippine Islands, et al., G.R. No. 159926, January 20,
2014.

Action to annul judgment or final order; requisites. The first requirement


prescribes that the remedy is available only when the petitioner can no longer
resort to the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other
appropriate remedies through no fault of the petitioner. This means that the
remedy, although seen as “a last remedy,” is not an alternative to the ordinary
remedies of new trial, appeal and petition for relief. The petition must aver,
therefore, that the petitioner failed to move for a new trial, or to appeal, or to file a
petition for relief without fault on his part. But this requirement to aver is not
imposed when the ground for the petition is lack of jurisdiction (whether alleged
singly or in combination with extrinsic fraud), simply because the judgment or
final order, being void, may be assailed at any time either collaterally or by direct
action or by resisting such judgment or final order in any action or proceeding
whenever it is invoked, unless the ground of lack of jurisdiction is meanwhile
barred by laches.

The second requirement limits the ground for the action of annulment of judgment
to either extrinsic fraud or lack of jurisdiction.
p.iii

Not every kind of fraud justifies the action of annulment of judgment. Only
extrinsic fraud does. Fraud is extrinsic, according to Cosmic Lumber Corporation
v. Court of Appeals (265 SCRA 168, 180 [1996]), “where the unsuccessful party
has been prevented from exhibiting fully his case, by fraud or deception practiced
on him by his opponent, as by keeping him away from court, a false promise of a
compromise; or where the defendant never had knowledge of the suit, being kept
in ignorance by the acts of the plaintiff; or where an attorney fraudulently or
without authority connives at his defeat; these and similar cases which show that
there has never been a real contest in the trial or hearing of the case are reasons for
which a new suit may be sustained to set aside and annul the former judgment and
open the case for a new and fair hearing.”

The third requirement sets the time for the filing of the action. The action, if based
on extrinsic fraud, must be filed within four years from the discovery of the
extrinsic fraud; and if based on lack of jurisdiction, must be brought before it is
barred by laches or estoppel.

The fourth requirement demands that the petition should be verified, and should
allege with particularity the facts and the law relied upon for annulment, as well as
those supporting the petitioner’s good and substantial cause of action or defense, as
the case may be. The need for particularity cannot be dispensed with because
averring the circumstances constituting either fraud or mistake with particularity is
a universal requirement in the rules of pleading. The petition is to be filed in seven
clearly legible copies, together with sufficient copies corresponding to the number
of respondents, and shall contain essential submissions, specifically: (a) the
certified true copy of the judgment or final order or resolution, to be attached to the
original copy of the petition intended for the court and indicated as such by the
petitioner;

(b) the affidavits of witnesses or documents supporting the cause of action or


defense; and (c) the sworn certification that the petitioner has not theretofore
commenced any other action involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the
CA or the different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency; if there is
such other action or proceeding, he must state the status of the same, and if he
should thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is
pending before the Supreme Court, the CA, or different divisions thereof, or any
other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to promptly inform the said courts and
other tribunal or agency thereof within five days therefrom. Pinausukan Seafood
House-Roxas Blvd., Inc. v. Far East Bank and Trust Cp., now Bank of the
Philippine Islands, et al., G.R. No. 159926, January 20, 2014.

Appeal; trial court’s factual findings as affirmed by CA are binding on appeal. To


start with, considering that the Court of Appeals (CA) thereby affirmed the factual
findings of the RTC, the Court is bound to uphold such findings, for it is axiomatic
that the trial court’s factual findings as affirmed by the CA are binding on appeal
due to the Court not being a trier of facts. Development Bank of the Philippines
(DBP) v. Guariña Agricultural and Realty Development Corporation,G.R. No.
160758. January 15, 2014.
p.iv

Appeal by certiorari under Rule 45; covers questions of law only; exceptions. The
Court has consistently held that as a general rule, a petition for review under Rule
45 of the Rules of Court covers questions of law only. The rule, however, admits
of exceptions, subject to the following exceptions, to wit: (1) when the findings are
grounded entirely on speculations, surmises, or conjectures; (2) when the inference
made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (3) when there is a grave
abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on misappreciation of facts;
(5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings, the
same are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (7) when the
findings are contrary to those of the trial court; (8) when the findings are
conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9)
when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner’s main and reply
briefs are not disputed by the respondent; and (10) when the findings of fact are
premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on
record. Rodolfo Laborte, et al. v. Pagsanjan Tourism Consumers’ Cooperative, et
al.,G.R. No. 183860, January 15, 2014

Appeal by certiorari under Rule 45; effect of failure to file motion for
reconsideration within 15-day reglementary period. The Court emphasized that the
15-day period for filing a motion for new trial or reconsideration is non-extendible.
Hence, the filing of a motion for extension of time to file a motion for
reconsideration did not toll the 15-day period before a judgment becomes final and
executory. Rivelisa Realty, Inc., represented by Ricardo P. Venturina v. First Sta.
Clara Builders Corporation, represented by Ramon A. Pangilinan, as
President,G.R. No. 189618. January 15, 2014.

Appeal by certiorari under Rule 45; factual questions may not be raised. Well
entrenched in this jurisdiction is the rule that factual questions may not be raised
before this Court in a petition for review on certiorari as this Court is not a trier of
facts.

Thus, it is settled that in petitions for review on certiorari, only questions of law
may be put in issue. Questions of fact cannot be entertained.

A question of law exists when the doubt or controversy concerns the correct
application of law or jurisprudence to a certain set of facts, or when the issue does
not call for an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented, the
truth or falsehood of facts being admitted. A question of fact exists when the doubt
or difference arises as to the truth or falsehood of facts or when the query invites
calibration of the whole evidence considering mainly the credibility of the
witnesses, the existence and relevancy of specific surrounding circumstances as
well as their relation to each other and to the whole, and the probability of the
situation.Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. BPI/MS Insurance Corp., and Mitsui
Sumitomo Insurance Co., Ltd.,G.R. No. 193986, January 15, 2014.

Appeal by certiorari under Rule 45; factual findings of trial court, when affirmed
by CA, are binding on Supreme Court. Considering that the factual findings of the
trial court, when affirmed by the CA, are binding on the Court, the Court affirms
the judgment of the CA upholding Eduardo’s exercise of the right of repurchase.
p.v

Roberto could no longer assail the factual findings because his petition for review
on certiorari was limited to the review and determination of questions of law only.
A question of law exists when the doubt centers on what the law is on a certain set
of undisputed facts, while a question of fact exists when the doubt centers on the
truth or falsity of the alleged facts. Whether the conditions for the right to
repurchase were complied with, or whether there was a tender of payment is a
question of fact.Roberto R. David, represented by his Attorney-in-Fact Atty.
Proceso M. Nacino v. Eduardo C. David, acting through his Attorney-in-Fact
Edwin C. David,G.R. No. 162365. January 15, 2014.

Appeal by certiorari under Rule 45; scope of review limited. Anent the correct
amount of surety bond, it is well to emphasize that our task in an appeal by petition
for review on certiorari is limited, as a jurisdictional matter, to reviewing errors of
law that might have been committed by the CA. The allegations of incorrect
computation of the surety bond involve factual matters within the competence of
the trial court. LZK Holdings and Development Corporation v. Planters
Development Bank,G.R. No. 187973, January 20, 2014.

Appeal by certiorari under Rule 45; scope of review. At the outset, it must be
pointed out that the petitioners’ assignment of errors calls for the Court to again
evaluate the evidence to determine whether there was a partition of the property
and whether the 1/3 portion of the southern half was sold to the respondent
spouses. These clearly entail questions of fact which are beyond the Court’s ambit
of review under Rule. Theresita, Juan, Asuncion, Patrocinia, Ricardo, and Gloria,
all surnamed Dimaguila v. Jose and Sonia A. Monteiro,G.R. No. 201011, January
27, 2014.

Ejectment; immediate execution of judgment; requisites for stay. The ruling in


Chua v. Court of Appeals (286 SCRA 437, 444-445 [1998]) is instructive on the
means of staying the immediate execution of a judgment in an ejectment case, to
wit:

As a general rule, a judgment in favor of the plaintiff in an ejectment suit is


immediately executory, in order to prevent further damage to him arising from the
loss of possession of the property in question. To stay the immediate execution of
the said judgment while the appeal is pending the foregoing provision requires that
the following requisites must concur: (1) the defendant perfects his appeal; (2) he
files a supersedeas bond; and (3) he periodically deposits the rentals which become
due during the pendency of the appeal. The failure of the defendant to comply with
any of these conditions is a ground for the outright execution of the judgment, the
duty of the court in this respect being “ministerial and imperative.” Hence, if the
defendant-appellant perfected the appeal but failed to file a supersedeas bond, the
immediate execution of the judgment would automatically follow. Conversely, the
filing of a supersedeas bond will not stay the execution of the judgment if the
appeal is not perfected. Necessarily then, the supersedeas bond should be filed
within the period for the perfection of the appeal.

In short, a judgment in favor of the plaintiff in an ejectment suit is immediately


executory, but the defendant, to stay its immediate execution, must: (1) perfect an
p.vi

appeal; (2) file a supersedeas bond; and (3) periodically deposit the rentals
becoming due during the pendency of the appeal. Herminia Acbang v. Hon. Jimmy
Luczon, Jr., et al.,G.R. No. 164246, January 15, 2014.

Execution; Terceria; when proper. The right of a third-party claimant to file a


terceria is founded on his title or right of possession. Corollary thereto, before the
court can exercise its supervisory power to direct the release of the property
mistakenly levied and the restoration thereof to its rightful owner, the claimant
must first unmistakably establish his ownership or right of possession thereon. In
Spouses Sy v. Hon. Discaya (260 Phil. 401 [1990]) we declared that for a third-
party claim or a terceria to prosper, the claimant must first sufficiently establish his
right on the property:

“[A] third person whose property was seized by a sheriff to answer for the
obligation of the judgment debtor may invoke the supervisory power of he court
which authorized such execution. Upon due application by the third person and
after summary hearing, the court may command that the property be released from
the mistaken levy and restored to the rightful owner or possessor. What said court
can do in these instances, however, is limited to a determination of whether the
sheriff has acted rightly or wrongly in the performance of his duties in the
execution of judgment, more specifically, if he has indeed taken hold of property
not belonging to the judgment debtor. The court does not and cannot pass upon the
question of title to the property, with any character of finality. It can treat of the
matter only insofar as may be necessary to decide if the sheriff has acted correctly
or not. It can require the sheriff to restore the property to the claimant’s possession
if warranted by the evidence. However, if the claimant’s proofs do not persuade the
court of the validity of his title or right of possession thereto, the claim will be
denied.”

Magdalena T. Villasi v. Filomena Garcia, substituted by his heirs, namely,


Ermelinda H. Garcia, et al.,G.R. No. 190106, January 15, 2014.

Execution of judgments; Immediate execution in Small Claims cases. Section 23 of


the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases states that the decision shall
immediately be entered by the Clerk of Court in the court docket for civil cases and
a copy thereof forthwith served on the parties. A.L. Ang Network, Inc. v. Emma
Mondejar, accompanied by her husband, Efren Mondejar,G.R. No. 200804.
January 22, 2014.

Execution of judgments; rationale. It is almost trite to say that execution is the fruit
and end of the suit. Hailing it as the “life of the law,” ratio legis est anima, this
Court has zealously guarded against any attempt to thwart the rigid rule and deny
the prevailing litigant his right to savour the fruit of his victory. A judgment, if left
unexecuted, would be nothing but an empty triumph for the prevailing party.
Magdalena T. Villasi v. Filomena Garcia, substituted by his heirs, namely,
Ermelinda H. Garcia, et al.,G.R. No. 190106, January 15, 2014.

Grave abuse of discretion; concept. To be sure, grave abuse of discretion arises


when a lower court or tribunal patently violates the Constitution, the law or
p.vii

existing jurisprudence. Here, while the RTC had initially issued a writ of
possession in favor of Sps. Marquez, it defied existing jurisprudence when it
effectively rescinded the said writ by subsequently granting Sps. Alindog’s prayer
for injunctive relief. Spouses Nicasio C. Marquez and Anita J. Marquez v. Spouses
Carlito Alindog and Carmen Alindog,G.R. No. 184045. January 22, 2014.

Grave abuse of discretion; concept. It is settled doctrine that there is grave abuse of
discretion when there is a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is
equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, such as where the power is exercised in an
arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and it must
be so patent and gross so as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual
refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law. Ralph
P. Tua v. Hon. Cesar A. Mangrobang, Presiding Judge, Branch 22, RTC, Imus,
Cavite; and Rossan Honrado-Tua,G.R. No. 170701. January 22, 2014.

Judicial power; issuance of protection orders. Section 2 of Article VIII of the 1987
Constitution provides that “the Congress shall have the power to define, prescribe,
and apportion the jurisdiction of the various courts but may not deprive the
Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over cases enumerated in Section 5 hereof.”
Hence, the primary judge of the necessity, adequacy, wisdom, reasonableness and
expediency of any law is primarily the function of the legislature. The act of
Congress entrusting us with the issuance of protection orders is in pursuance of our
authority to settle justiciable controversies or disputes involving rights that are
enforceable and demandable before the courts of justice or the redress of wrongs
for violations of such rights. Ralph P. Tua v. Hon. Cesar A. Mangrobang,
Presiding Judge, Branch 22, RTC, Imus, Cavite; and Rossan Honrado-Tua, G.R.
No. 170701. January 22, 2014.

Judgments; enforceability of money judgments. It is a basic principle of law that


money judgments are enforceable only against the property incontrovertibly
belonging to the judgment debtor, and if the property belonging to any third person
is mistakenly levied upon to answer for another man’s indebtedness, such person
has all the right to challenge the levy through any of the remedies provided for
under the Rules of Court. Magdalena T. Villasi v. Filomena Garcia, substituted by
his heirs, namely, Ermelinda H. Garcia, et al.,G.R. No. 190106, January 15,
2014.

Judgments; Law of the case; concept. Law of the case has been defined as the
opinion delivered on a former appeal, and means, more specifically, that whatever
is once irrevocably established as the controlling legal rule of decision between the
same parties in the same case continues to be the law of the case, whether correct
on general principles or not, so long as the facts on which such decision was
predicated continue to be the facts of the case before the court.

The doctrine of law of the case simply means, therefore, that when an appellate
court has once declared the law in a case, its declaration continues to be the law of
that case even on a subsequent appeal, notwithstanding that the rule thus laid down
may have been reversed in other cases. For practical considerations, indeed, once
the appellate court has issued a pronouncement on a point that was presented to it
p.viii

with full opportunity to be heard having been accorded to the parties, the
pronouncement should be regarded as the law of the case and should not be
reopened on remand of the case to determine other issues of the case, like
damages. But the law of the case, as the name implies, concerns only legal
questions or issues thereby adjudicated in the former appeal. Development Bank of
the Philippines (DBP) v. Guariña Agricultural and Realty Development
Corporation,G.R. No. 160758. January 15, 2014.

Judgments; remedies of third person claiming property taken by sheriff. Section


16, Rule 39 specifically provides that a third person may avail himself of the
remedies of either terceria, to determine whether the sheriff has rightly or wrongly
taken hold of the property not belonging to the judgment debtor or obligor, or an
independent “separate action” to vindicate his claim of ownership and/or
possession over the foreclosed property. However, the person other than the
judgment debtor who claims ownership or right over levied properties is not
precluded from taking other legal remedies to prosecute his claim. Magdalena T.
Villasi v. Filomena Garcia, substituted by his heirs, namely, Ermelinda H. Garcia,
et al.,G.R. No. 190106, January 15, 2014.

Jurisdiction; concurrence of jurisdiction and hierarchy of courts. To be sure, the


Court, the Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Courts have concurrent
jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari. Such concurrence of jurisdiction, however,
does not give a party unbridled freedom to choose the venue of his action lest he
run afoul of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. Instead, a becoming regard for
judicial hierarchy dictates that petitions for the issuance of writs of certiorari
against first level courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those
against the latter, with the Court of Appeals, before resort may be had before the
Supreme Court. A.L. Ang Network, Inc. v. Emma Mondejar, accompanied by her
husband, Efren Mondejar,G.R. No. 200804. January 22, 2014.

Jurisdiction; Justiciable question; definition. The Court clarified, too, that the issue
of whether a Deputy Ombudsman may be subjected to the administrative
disciplinary jurisdiction of the President (concurrently with that of the
Ombudsman) is a justiciable – not a political – question. A justiciable question is
one which is inherently susceptible of being decided on grounds recognized by
law, as where the court finds that there are constitutionally-imposed limits on the
exercise of the powers conferred on a political branch of the government. Emilio A.
Gonzales III v. Office of the President, etc., et al./Wendell Bareras-Sulit v. Atty.
Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., et al.,G.R. No. 196231/G.R. No. 196232, January 28,
2014.

Jurisdiction; Small Claims cases. Hence, considering that small claims cases are
exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal
Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts,
certiorari petitions assailing its dispositions should be filed before their
corresponding Regional Trial Courts. This petitioner complied with when it
instituted its petition for certiorari before the RTC which, as previously mentioned,
has jurisdiction over the same. A.L. Ang Network, Inc. v. Emma Mondejar,
accompanied by her husband, Efren Mondejar,G.R. No. 200804. January 22,
2014.
p.ix

Motions; motion to extend time to file motion for reconsideration prohibited in all
courts except in the Supreme Court. While a motion for additional time is
expressly permitted in the filing of a petition for review before the Court under
Section 2, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, a similar motion seeking to extend the
period for filing a motion for reconsideration is prohibited in all other courts. This
rule was first laid down in the case of Habaluyas Enterprises v. Japzon (226 Phil.
144 [1986]) wherein it was held that:

Beginning one month after the promulgation of this Resolution, the rule shall be
strictly enforced that no motion for extension of time to file a motion for new trial
or reconsideration may be filed with the Metropolitan or Municipal Trial Courts,
the Regional Trial Courts, and the Intermediate Appellate Court. Such a motion
may be filed only in cases pending with the Supreme Court as the court of last
resort, which may in its sound discretion either grant or deny the extension
requested.

Rivelisa Realty, Inc., represented by Ricardo P. Venturina v. First Sta. Clara


Builders Corporation, represented by Ramon A. Pangilinan, as President,G.R. No.
189618. January 15, 2014.

Motion for reconsideration; effect of non-filing. At the outset, the Court noted that
Gonzales and Sulit did not file a motion for reconsideration of the Supreme Court’s
September 4, 2012 Decision; only the Office of the President, through the OSG,
moved for the reconsideration of our ruling reinstating Gonzales.

This omission, however, poses no obstacle for the Court’s review of its ruling on
the whole case since a serious constitutional question has been raised and is one of
the underlying bases for the validity or invalidity of the presidential action.

If the President does not have any constitutional authority to discipline a Deputy
Ombudsman and/or a Special Prosecutor in the first place, then any ruling on the
legal correctness of the OP’s decision on the merits will be an empty one. In other
words, since the validity of the OP’s decision on the merits of the dismissal is
inextricably anchored on the final and correct ruling on the constitutional issue, the
whole case – including the constitutional issue – remains alive for the Court’s
consideration on motion for reconsideration. Emilio A. Gonzales III v. Office of the
President, etc., et al./Wendell Bareras-Sulit v. Atty. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., et
al.,G.R. No. 196231/G.R. No. 196232, January 28, 2014.

Pleadings; Defense and objections not pleaded either in motion to dismiss or in


answer are deemed waived; exceptions. Significantly, the Rule requires that such a
motion should be filed “within the time for but before filing the answer to the
complaint or pleading asserting a claim.” The time frame indicates that thereafter,
the motion to dismiss based on the absence of the condition precedent is barred. It
is so inferable from the opening sentence of Section 1 of Rule 9 stating that
defense and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer
are deemed waived. There are, as just noted, only four exceptions to this Rule,
namely, lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter; litis pendentia; res judicata;
and prescription of action. Failure to allege in the complaint that earnest efforts at a
p.x

compromise has been made but had failed is not one of the exceptions.Heirs of Dr.
Mariano Favis, Sr., represented by their co-heirs and attorneys-in-fact, Mercedes
A. Favis and Nelly Favis-Villafuente v. Juana Gonzales, her son Mariano Favis,
all minors represented herein by their parents, Sps. Mariano Favis and Larcelita
D. Favis,G.R. No. 185922, January 15, 2014.

Pleadings; Failure to allege compromise efforts in complaint not jurisdictional


defect. Why the objection of failure to allege a failed attempt at a compromise in a
suit among members of the same family is waivable was earlier explained in the
case of Versoza v. Versoza (135 Phil. 84, 94 [1968]), a case for future support
which was dismissed by the trial court upon the ground that there was no such
allegation of infringement of Article 222 of the Civil Code, the origin of Article
151 of the Family Code. While the Court ruled that a complaint for future support
cannot be the subject of a compromise and as such the absence of the required
allegation in the complaint cannot be a ground for objection against the suit, the
decision went on to state thus:

The alleged defect is that the present complaint does not state a cause of action.
The proposed amendment seeks to complete it. An amendment to the effect that
the requirements of Article 222 have been complied with does not confer
jurisdiction upon the lower court. With or without this amendment, the subject-
matter of the action remains as one for support, custody of children, and damages,
cognizable by the court below.

To illustrate, Tamayo v. San Miguel Brewery, Inc., allowed an amendment which


“merely corrected a defect in the allegation of plaintiff-appellant’s cause of action,
because as it then stood, the original complaint stated no cause of action.” We
there ruled out as inapplicable the holding in Campos Rueda Corporation v.
Bautista, that an amendment cannot be made so as to confer jurisdiction on the
court x x x

Therefore, the rule on deemed waiver of the non-jurisdictional defense or objection


is wholly applicable to respondent. If the respondents as parties-defendants could
not, and did not, after filing their answer to petitioner’s complaint, invoke the
objection of absence of the required allegation on earnest efforts at a compromise,
the appellate court unquestionably did not have any authority or basis to muto
proprio order the dismissal of petitioner’s complaint. Heirs of Dr. Mariano Favis,
Sr., represented by their co-heirs and attorneys-in-fact, Mercedes A. Favis and
Nelly Favis-Villafuente v. Juana Gonzales, her son Mariano Favis, all minors
represented herein by their parents, Sps. Mariano Favis and Larcelita D.
Favis,G.R. No. 185922, January 15, 2014.

Pleadings; motu proprio dismissal. Section 1, Rule 9 provides for only four
instances when the court may motu proprio dismiss the claim, namely: (a) lack of
jurisdiction over the subject matter; (b) litis pendentia; (c) res judicata; and (d)
prescription of action.

Specifically in Gumabon v. Larin (422 Phil. 222, 230 [2001]), cited in Katon v.
Palanca, Jr. (481 Phil. 168, 180 [2004]), the Court held:
p.xi

“x x x [T]he muto proprio dismissal of a case was traditionally limited to instances


when the court clearly had no jurisdiction over the subject matter and when the
plaintiff did not appear during trial, failed to prosecute his action for an
unreasonable length of time or neglected to comply with the rules or with any
order of the court. Outside of these instances, any motu proprio [sic] dismissal
would amount to a violation of the right of the plaintiff to be heard. Except for
qualifying and expanding Section 2, Rule 9, and Section 3, Rule 17, of the Revised
Rules of Court, the amendatory 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure brought about no
radical change. Under the new rules, a court may muto proprio dismiss a claim
when it appears from the pleadings or evidence on record that it has no jurisdiction
over the subject matter; when there is another cause of action pending between the
same parties for the same cause, or where the action is barred by a prior judgment
or by statute of limitations. x x x.”

Heirs of Dr. Mariano Favis, Sr., represented by their co-heirs and attorneys-in-
fact, Mercedes A. Favis and Nelly Favis-Villafuente v. Juana Gonzales, her son
Mariano Favis, all minors represented herein by their parents, Sps. Mariano Favis
and Larcelita D. Favis,G.R. No. 185922, January 15, 2014.

Preliminary injunction; improper where act sought to be enjoined is already


consummated. Case law instructs that injunction would not lie where the acts
sought to be enjoined had already become fait accompli (meaning, an
accomplished or consummated act). Hence, since the consummation of the act
sought to be restrained had rendered Sps. Alindogs injunction petition moot, the
issuance of the said injunctive writ was altogether improper. Spouses Nicasio C.
Marquez and Anita J. Marquez v. Spouses Carlito Alindog and Carmen
Alindog,G.R. No. 184045. January 22, 2014.

Res judicata; conclusiveness of judgment. Under the principle of conclusiveness of


judgment, the right of Planters Bank to a writ of possession as adjudged in G.R.
No. 167998 is binding and conclusive on the parties.

The doctrine of res judicata by conclusiveness of judgment postulates that when a


right or fact has been judicially tried and determined by a court of competent
jurisdiction, or when an opportunity for such trial has been given, the judgment of
the court, as long as it remains unreversed, should be conclusive upon the parties
and those in privity with them.

All the elements of the doctrine are present in this case. The final judgment in G.R.
No. 167998 was rendered by the Court pursuant to its jurisdiction over the review
of decisions and rulings of the CA. It was a judgment on the merits of Planters
Bank’s right to apply for and be issued a writ of possession. Lastly, the parties in
G.R. No. 167998 are the same parties involved in the present case. LZK Holdings
and Development Corporation v. Planters Development Bank,G.R. No. 187973,
January 20, 2014.

Writ of possession; nature. No hearing is required prior to the issuance of a writ of


possession. This is clear from the following disquisitions in Espinoza v United
Overseas Bank Phils. (616 SCRA 353) which reiterates the settled rules on writs of
p.xii

possession, to wit:

The proceeding in a petition for a writ of possession is ex parte and summary in


nature. It is a judicial proceeding brought for the benefit of one party only and
without notice by the court to any person adverse of interest. It is a proceeding
wherein relief is granted without giving the person against whom the relief is
sought an opportunity to be heard. By its very nature, an ex parte petition for
issuance of a writ of possession is a non-litigious proceeding. It is a judicial
proceeding for the enforcement of one’s right of possession as purchaser in a
foreclosure sale. It is not an ordinary suit filed in court, by which one party sues
another for the enforcement of a wrong or protection of a right, or the prevention
or redress of a wrong. LZK Holdings and Development Corporation v. Planters
Development Bank,G.R. No. 187973, January 20, 2014

Other Proceedings

Barangay Protection Order (BPO); Function of Punong Barangay purely executive


in nature. The issuance of a BPO by the Punong Barangay or, in his unavailability,
by any available Barangay Kagawad, merely orders the perpetrator to desist from
(a) causing physical harm to the woman or her child; and (2) threatening to cause
the woman or her child physical harm. Such function of the Punong Barangay is,
thus, purely executive in nature, in pursuance of his duty under the Local
Government Code to “enforce all laws and ordinances,” and to “maintain public
order in the barangay.” Ralph P. Tua v. Hon. Cesar A. Mangrobang, Presiding
Judge, Branch 22, RTC, Imus, Cavite; and Rossan Honrado-Tua, G.R. No.
170701. January 22, 2014.

Extra-judicial foreclosure; ministerial duty to issue writ of possession to purchaser;


exception. It is an established rule that the purchaser in an extra-judicial
foreclosure sale is entitled to the possession of the property and can demand that he
be placed in possession of the same either during (with bond) or after the
expiration (without bond) of the redemption period therefor. To this end, the Court,
in China Banking Corp. v. Sps. Lozada (579 Phil 454 [2008]), citing several cases
on the matter, explained that a writ of possession duly applied for by said
purchaser should issue as a matter of course, and thus, merely constitutes a
ministerial duty on the part of the court.

The ministerial issuance of a writ of possession in favor of the purchaser in an


extra-judicial foreclosure sale, however, admits of an exception. Section 33, Rule
39 of the Rules of Court (Rules) pertinently provides that the possession of the
mortgaged property may be awarded to a purchaser in an extra-judicial foreclosure
unless a third party is actually holding the property by adverse title or right. In the
recent case of Rural Bank of Sta. Barbara (Iloilo), Inc. v. Centeno (693 SCRA 110
[2013]), citing the case of China Banking Corp., the Court illumined that “the
phrase ‘a third party who is actually holding the property adversely to the judgment
obligor’ contemplates a situation in which a third party holds the property by
adverse title or right, such as that of a co-owner, tenant or usufructuary. The co-
owner, agricultural tenant, and usufructuary possess the property in their own right,
and they are not merely the successor or transferee of the right of possession of
p.xiii

another co-owner or the owner of the property. Notably, the property should not
only be possessed by a third party, but also held by the third party adversely to the
judgment obligor.” In other words, as mentioned in Villanueva v. Cherdan Lending
Investors Corporation (633 SCRA 173 [2010]), the third person must therefore
claim a right superior to that of the original mortgagor. Spouses Nicasio C.
Marquez and Anita J. Marquez v. Spouses Carlito Alindog and Carmen Alindog,
G.R. No. 184045. January 22, 2014.

Protection Order under Section 15 of RA 9262; concept. In Garcia v. Drilon (699


SCRA 352, 401 [2013]), wherein petitioner therein argued that Section 15 of RA
9262 is a violation of the due process clause of the Constitution, we struck down
the challenge and held:

A protection order is an order issued to prevent further acts of violence against


women and their children, their family or household members, and to grant other
necessary reliefs. Its purpose is to safeguard the offended parties from further
harm, minimize any disruption in their daily life and facilitate the opportunity and
ability to regain control of their life. The scope of reliefs in protection orders is
broadened to ensure that the victim or offended party is afforded all the remedies
necessary to curtail access by a perpetrator to the victim. This serves to safeguard
the victim from greater risk of violence; to accord the victim and any designated
family or household member safety in the family residence, and to prevent the
perpetrator from committing acts that jeopardize the employment and support of
the victim. It also enables the court to award temporary custody of minor children
to protect the children from violence, to prevent their abduction by the perpetrator
and to ensure their financial support. The rules require that petitions for protection
order be in writing, signed and verified by the petitioner thereby undertaking full
responsibility, criminal or civil, for every allegation therein. Since “time is of the
essence in cases of VAWC if further violence is to be prevented,” the court is
authorized to issue ex parte a TPO after raffle but before notice and hearing when
the life, limb or property of the victim is in jeopardy and there is reasonable
ground to believe that the order is necessary to protect the victim from the
immediate and imminent danger of VAWC or to prevent such violence, which is
about to recur. There need not be any fear that the judge may have no rational
basis to issue an ex parte order. The victim is required not only to verify the
allegations in the petition, but also to attach her witnesses’ affidavits to the
petition. The grant of a TPO ex parte cannot, therefore, be challenged as violative
of the right to due process. Just like a writ of preliminary attachment which is
issued without notice and hearing because the time in which the hearing will take
could be enough to enable the defendant to abscond or dispose of his property, in
the same way, the victim of VAWC may already have suffered harrowing
experiences in the hands of her tormentor, and possibly even death, if notice and
hearing were required before such acts could be prevented. It is a constitutional
commonplace that the ordinary requirements of procedural due process must yield
to the necessities of protecting vital public interests, among which is protection of
women and children from violence and threats to their personal safety and security.
xxx

Ralph P. Tua v. Hon. Cesar A. Mangrobang, Presiding Judge, Branch 22, RTC,
p.xiv

Imus, Cavite; and Rossan Honrado-Tua,G.R. No. 170701. January 22, 2014.

Temporary Protection Order (TPO) under Section 15 of RA 9262; court’s authority


to issue ex parte. Clearly, the court, under Section 15 of RA 9262, is authorized to
issue a TPO on the date of the filing of the application after ex parte determination
that there is basis for the issuance thereof. Ex parte means that the respondent need
not be notified or be present in the hearing for the issuance of the TPO. Thus, it is
within the court’s discretion, based on the petition and the affidavit attached
thereto, to determine that the violent acts against women and their children for the
issuance of a TPO have been committed. Ralph P. Tua v. Hon. Cesar A.
Mangrobang, Presiding Judge, Branch 22, RTC, Imus, Cavite; and Rossan
Honrado-Tua,G.R. No. 170701. January 22, 2014.

Evidence

Admissions; contradiction. Section 4 of Rule 129 of the Rules of Court provides


that an admission made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same
case does not require proof, and may be contradicted only by showing that it was
made through palpable mistake. The petitioners argue that such admission was the
palpable mistake of their former counsel in his rush to file the answer, a copy of
which was not provided to them. This contention is unacceptable. It is a purely
self-serving claim unsupported by any iota of evidence. Bare allegations,
unsubstantiated by evidence, are not equivalent to proof. Theresita, Juan,
Asuncion, Patrocinia, Ricardo, and Gloria, all surnamed Dimaguila v. Jose and
Sonia A. Monteiro,G.R. No. 201011, January 27, 2014.

Admissions; rendered conclusive through estoppel. Article 1431 of the Civil Code
provides that through estoppel, an admission is rendered conclusive upon the
person making it, and cannot be denied or disproved as against the person relying
thereon. The respondent spouses had clearly relied on the petitioners’ admission
and so amended their original complaint for partition to one for recovery of
possession of a portion of the subject property. Thus, the petitioners are now
estopped from denying or attempting to prove that there was no partition of the
property. Theresita, Juan, Asuncion, Patrocinia, Ricardo, and Gloria, all
surnamed Dimaguila v. Jose and Sonia A. Monteiro,G.R. No. 201011, January
27, 2014.

Best evidence rule; concept and exception. Section 3(d) of Rule 130 of the Rules of
Court provides that when the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no
evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself, except when
the original is a public record in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a
public office. Section 7 of the same Rule provides that when the original of a
document is in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office, its
contents may be proved by a certified copy issued by the public officer in custody
thereof. Section 24 of Rule 132 provides that the record of public documents may
be evidenced by a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody or the
record.

Certified true copies of the cadastral map of Liliw and the corresponding list of
p.xv

claimants of the area covered by the map were presented by two public officers. x
x x The cadastral maps and the list of claimants, as certified true copies of original
public records, fall under the exception to the best evidence rule. Theresita, Juan,
Asuncion, Patrocinia, Ricardo, and Gloria, all surnamed Dimaguila v. Jose and
Sonia A. Monteiro, G.R. No. 201011, January 27, 2014.

Burden of proof in civil cases; quantum of evidence. Land Bank failed to prove
that the amount allegedly “miscredited” to Oñate’s account came from
the proceeds of the pre-terminated loans of its clients. It is worth emphasizing that
in civil cases, the party making the allegations has the burden of proving them by
preponderance of evidence. Mere allegation is not sufficient. Land Bank of the
Philippines v. Emmanuel C. Oñate,G.R. No. 192371, January 15, 2014.

Hearsay rule; entries in official records as exception. As to the hearsay rule,


Section 44 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court similarly provides that entries in
official records are an exception to the rule. The rule provides that entries in
official records made in the performance of the duty of a public officer of the
Philippines, or by a person in the performance of a duty specially enjoined by law,
are prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated. The necessity of this rule
consists in the inconvenience and difficulty of requiring the official’s attendance as
a witness to testify to the innumerable transactions in the course of his duty. The
document’s trustworthiness consists in the presumption of regularity of
performance of official duty.

Cadastral maps are the output of cadastral surveys. The DENR is the department
tasked to execute, supervise and manage the conduct of cadastral surveys. It is,
therefore, clear that the cadastral map and the corresponding list of claimants
qualify as entries in official records as they were prepared by the DENR, as
mandated by law. As such, they are exceptions to the hearsay rule and are prima
facie evidence of the facts stated therein. Theresita, Juan, Asuncion, Patrocinia,
Ricardo, and Gloria, all surnamed Dimaguila v. Jose and Sonia A. Monteiro,G.R.
No. 201011, January 27, 2014.

Judicial notice; discretionary notice of records of other cases. The taking of judicial
notice is a matter of expediency and convenience for it fulfills the purpose that the
evidence is intended to achieve, and in this sense, it is equivalent to proof.
Generally, courts are not authorized to “take judicial notice of the contents of the
records of other cases even when said cases have been tried or are pending in the
same court or before the same judge.” They may, however, take judicial notice of a
decision or the facts prevailing in another case sitting in the same court if: (1) the
parties present them in evidence, absent any opposition from the other party; or (2)
the court, in its discretion, resolves to do so. In either case, the courts must observe
the clear boundary provided by Section 3, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court. Land
Bank of the Philippines v. Yatco Agricultural Enterprises,G.R. No. 172551,
January 15, 2014.

Offer of evidence; court considers evidence only when formally offered;


exceptions. Section 34, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence provides the
general rule, to wit:
p.xvi

Section 34. The Court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally
offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.

From the above provision, it is clear that the court considers the evidence only
when it is formally offered. The offer of evidence is necessary because it is the
duty of the trial court to base its findings of fact and its judgment only and strictly
on the evidence offered by the parties. A piece of document will remain a scrap of
paper without probative value unless and until admitted by the court in evidence
for the purpose or purposes for which it is offered. The formal offer of evidence
allows the parties the chance to object to the presentation of an evidence which
may not be admissible for the purpose it is being offered.

However, there are instances when the Court relaxed the foregoing rule and
allowed evidence not formally offered to be admitted. Citing People v. Napat-a and
People. v. Mate the Court in Heirs of Romana Saves, et al., v. Heirs of Escolastico
Saves, et al. (632 SCRA 236 [2010]), enumerated the requirements for the
evidence to be considered despite failure to formally offer it, namely: “first, the
same must have been duly identified by testimony duly recorded and, second, the
same must have been incorporated in the records of the case.” In People v.
Vivencio De Roxas et al. (116 Phil 977 [1962]), the Court also considered exhibits
which were not formally offered by the prosecution but were repeatedly referred to
in the course of the trial by the counsel of the accused.

In the instant case, the Court finds that the above requisites are attendant to warrant
the relaxation of the rule and admit the evidence of the petitioners not formally
offered. As can be seen in the records of the case, the petitioners were able to
present evidence that have been duly identified by testimony duly recorded. To
identify is to prove the identity of a person or a thing. Identification means proof of
identity; the proving that a person, subject or article before the court is the very
same that he or it is alleged, charged or reputed to be. Rodolfo Laborte, et al. v.
Pagsanjan Tourism Consumers’ Cooperative, et al.,G.R. No. 183860, January 15,
2014.

Preponderance of evidence; definition. Spouses Monteiro, as plaintiffs in the


original case, had the burden of proof to establish their case by a preponderance of
evidence, which is the weight, credit, and value of the aggregate evidence on either
side, synonymous with the term “greater weight of the evidence.” Preponderance
of evidence is evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief
than that which is offered in opposition thereto. Theresita, Juan, Asuncion,
Patrocinia, Ricardo, and Gloria, all surnamed Dimaguila v. Jose and Sonia A.
Monteiro,G.R. No. 201011, January 27, 2014.

Question of law distinguished from question of fact. A question of law exists when
the doubt or controversy concerns the correct application of law or jurisprudence to
a certain set of facts, or when the issue does not call for an examination of the
probative value of the evidence presented, the truth or falsehood of facts being
admitted. A question of fact exists when the doubt or difference arises as to the
truth or falsehood of facts or when the query invites calibration of the whole
p.xvii

evidence considering mainly the credibility of the witnesses, the existence and
relevancy of specific surrounding circumstances as well as their relation to each
other and to the whole, and the probability of the situation.Eastern Shipping Lines,
Inc. v. BPI/MS Insurance Corp., and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., Ltd.,G.R.
No. 193986, January 15, 2014.

Question of law distinguished from question of fact. A question of law exists


when the doubt centers on what the law is on a certain set of undisputed facts,
while a question of fact exists when the doubt centers on the truth or falsity of the
alleged facts. Whether the conditions for the right to repurchase were complied
with, or whether there was a tender of payment is a question of fact.Roberto R.
David, represented by his Attorney-in-Fact Atty. Proceso M. Nacino v. Eduardo C.
David, acting through his Attorney-in-Fact Edwin C. David,G.R. No. 162365.
January 15, 2014.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 147406 July 14, 2008

VENANCIO FIGUEROA y CERVANTES,1 Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

When is a litigant estopped by laches from assailing the jurisdiction of a tribunal?


This is the paramount issue raised in this petition for review of the February 28,
2001 Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 22697.

Pertinent are the following antecedent facts and proceedings:

On July 8, 1994, an information3 for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide


was filed against the petitioner before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan,
Branch 18.4 The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94.5 Trial on the
merits ensued and on August 19, 1998, the trial court convicted the petitioner as
charged.6 In his appeal before the CA, the petitioner questioned, among others, for
the first time, the trial court’s jurisdiction.7

The appellate court, however, in the challenged decision, considered the petitioner
to have actively participated in the trial and to have belatedly attacked the
jurisdiction of the RTC; thus, he was already estopped by laches from asserting the
trial court’s lack of jurisdiction. Finding no other ground to reverse the trial court’s
decision, the CA affirmed the petitioner’s conviction but modified the penalty
imposed and the damages awarded.8

Dissatisfied, the petitioner filed the instant petition for review on certiorari raising
the following issues for our resolution:

a. Does the fact that the petitioner failed to raise the issue of jurisdiction
during the trial of this case, which was initiated and filed by the public
prosecutor before the wrong court, constitute laches in relation to the
doctrine laid down in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, notwithstanding the fact that
said issue was immediately raised in petitioner’s appeal to the Honorable
Court of Appeals? Conversely, does the active participation of the petitioner
in the trial of his case, which is initiated and filed not by him but by the
public prosecutor, amount to estoppel?

b. Does the admission of the petitioner that it is difficult to immediately stop


a bus while it is running at 40 kilometers per hour for the purpose of
avoiding a person who unexpectedly crossed the road, constitute enough
incriminating evidence to warrant his conviction for the crime charged?
c. Is the Honorable Court of Appeals justified in considering the place of
accident as falling within Item 4 of Section 35 (b) of the Land
Transportation and Traffic Code, and subsequently ruling that the speed
limit thereto is only 20 kilometers per hour, when no evidence whatsoever to
that effect was ever presented by the prosecution during the trial of this
case?

d. Is the Honorable Court of Appeals justified in convicting the petitioner for


homicide through reckless imprudence (the legally correct designation is
"reckless imprudence resulting to homicide") with violation of the Land
Transportation and Traffic Code when the prosecution did not prove this
during the trial and, more importantly, the information filed against the
petitioner does not contain an allegation to that effect?

e. Does the uncontroverted testimony of the defense witness Leonardo


Hernal that the victim unexpectedly crossed the road resulting in him getting
hit by the bus driven by the petitioner not enough evidence to acquit him of
the crime charged?9

Applied uniformly is the familiar rule that the jurisdiction of the court to hear and
decide a case is conferred by the law in force at the time of the institution of the
action, unless such statute provides for a retroactive application thereof. 10 In this
case, at the time the criminal information for reckless imprudence resulting in
homicide with violation of the Automobile Law (now Land Transportation and
Traffic Code) was filed, Section 32(2) of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 12911 had
already been amended by Republic Act No. 7691.12 The said provision thus reads:

Sec. 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Criminal Cases.—Except in cases falling within
the exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts and the Sandiganbayan,
the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts shall exercise:

xxxx

(2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment
not exceeding six (6) years irrespective of the amount of fine, and regardless of
other imposable accessory or other penalties, including the civil liability arising
from such offenses or predicated thereon, irrespective of kind, nature, value or
amount thereof: Provided, however, That in offenses involving damage to property
through criminal negligence, they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction thereof.

As the imposable penalty for the crime charged herein is prision correccional in its
medium and maximum periods or imprisonment for 2 years, 4 months and 1 day to
6 years,13 jurisdiction to hear and try the same is conferred on the Municipal Trial
Courts (MTCs). Clearly, therefore, the RTC of Bulacan does not have jurisdiction
over Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94.

While both the appellate court and the Solicitor General acknowledge this fact,
they nevertheless are of the position that the principle of estoppel by laches has
already precluded the petitioner from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC—the
trial went on for 4 years with the petitioner actively participating therein and
without him ever raising the jurisdictional infirmity. The petitioner, for his part,
counters that the lack of jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter may be
raised at any time even for the first time on appeal. As undue delay is further
absent herein, the principle of laches will not be applicable.

To settle once and for all this problem of jurisdiction vis-à-vis estoppel by laches,
which continuously confounds the bench and the bar, we shall analyze the various
Court decisions on the matter.

As early as 1901, this Court has declared that unless jurisdiction has been
conferred by some legislative act, no court or tribunal can act on a matter
submitted to it.14 We went on to state in U.S. v. De La Santa15 that:

It has been frequently held that a lack of jurisdiction over the subject-matter is
fatal, and subject to objection at any stage of the proceedings, either in the court
below or on appeal (Ency. of Pl. & Pr., vol. 12, p. 189, and large array of cases
there cited), and indeed, where the subject-matter is not within the jurisdiction, the
court may dismiss the proceeding ex mero motu. (4 Ill., 133; 190 Ind., 79;
Chipman vs. Waterbury, 59 Conn., 496.)

Jurisdiction over the subject-matter in a judicial proceeding is conferred by the


sovereign authority which organizes the court; it is given only by law and in the
manner prescribed by law and an objection based on the lack of such jurisdiction
can not be waived by the parties. x x x16

Later, in People v. Casiano,17 the Court explained:

4. The operation of the principle of estoppel on the question of jurisdiction


seemingly depends upon whether the lower court actually had jurisdiction or not. If
it had no jurisdiction, but the case was tried and decided upon the theory that it had
jurisdiction, the parties are not barred, on appeal, from assailing such jurisdiction,
for the same "must exist as a matter of law, and may not be conferred by consent of
the parties or by estoppel" (5 C.J.S., 861-863). However, if the lower court had
jurisdiction, and the case was heard and decided upon a given theory, such, for
instance, as that the court had no jurisdiction, the party who induced it to adopt
such theory will not be permitted, on appeal, to assume an inconsistent position—
that the lower court had jurisdiction. Here, the principle of estoppel applies. The
rule that jurisdiction is conferred by law, and does not depend upon the will of the
parties, has no bearing thereon. Thus, Corpus Juris Secundum says:

Where accused has secured a decision that the indictment is void, or has been
granted an instruction based on its defective character directing the jury to acquit,
he is estopped, when subsequently indicted, to assert that the former indictment
was valid. In such case, there may be a new prosecution whether the indictment in
the former prosecution was good or bad. Similarly, where, after the jury was
impaneled and sworn, the court on accused's motion quashed the information on
the erroneous assumption that the court had no jurisdiction, accused cannot
successfully plead former jeopardy to a new information. x x x (22 C.J.S., sec. 252,
pp. 388-389; italics ours.)
Where accused procured a prior conviction to be set aside on the ground that the
court was without jurisdiction, he is estopped subsequently to assert, in support of
a defense of previous jeopardy, that such court had jurisdiction." (22 C.J.S. p.
378.)18

But in Pindañgan Agricultural Co., Inc. v. Dans,19 the Court, in not sustaining the
plea of lack of jurisdiction by the plaintiff-appellee therein, made the following
observations:

It is surprising why it is only now, after the decision has been rendered, that the
plaintiff-appellee presents the question of this Court’s jurisdiction over the case.
Republic Act No. 2613 was enacted on August 1, 1959. This case was argued on
January 29, 1960. Notwithstanding this fact, the jurisdiction of this Court was
never impugned until the adverse decision of this Court was handed down. The
conduct of counsel leads us to believe that they must have always been of the
belief that notwithstanding said enactment of Republic Act 2613 this Court has
jurisdiction of the case, such conduct being born out of a conviction that the actual
real value of the properties in question actually exceeds the jurisdictional amount
of this Court (over P200,000). Our minute resolution in G.R. No. L-10096, Hyson
Tan, et al. vs. Filipinas Compaña de Seguros, et al., of March 23, 1956, a parallel
case, is applicable to the conduct of plaintiff-appellee in this case, thus:

x x x that an appellant who files his brief and submits his case to the Court of
Appeals for decision, without questioning the latter’s jurisdiction until decision is
rendered therein, should be considered as having voluntarily waived so much of his
claim as would exceed the jurisdiction of said Appellate Court; for the reason that
a contrary rule would encourage the undesirable practice of appellants submitting
their cases for decision to the Court of Appeals in expectation of favorable
judgment, but with intent of attacking its jurisdiction should the decision be
unfavorable: x x x20

Then came our ruling in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy21 that a party may be barred by
laches from invoking lack of jurisdiction at a late hour for the purpose of annulling
everything done in the case with the active participation of said party invoking the
plea. We expounded, thus:

A party may be estopped or barred from raising a question in different ways and
for different reasons. Thus, we speak of estoppel in pais, of estoppel by deed or by
record, and of estoppel by laches.

Laches, in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and


unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or
should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a
reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either
has abandoned it or declined to assert it.

The doctrine of laches or of "stale demands" is based upon grounds of public


policy which requires, for the peace of society, the discouragement of stale claims
and, unlike the statute of limitations, is not a mere question of time but is
principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to
be enforced or asserted.
It has been held that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure
affirmative relief against his opponent and, after obtaining or failing to obtain such
relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction (Dean vs. Dean, 136 Or. 694, 86
A.L.R. 79). In the case just cited, by way of explaining the rule, it was further said
that the question whether the court had jurisdiction either of the subject matter of
the action or of the parties was not important in such cases because the party is
barred from such conduct not because the judgment or order of the court is valid
and conclusive as an adjudication, but for the reason that such a practice cannot be
tolerated—obviously for reasons of public policy.

Furthermore, it has also been held that after voluntarily submitting a cause and
encountering an adverse decision on the merits, it is too late for the loser to
question the jurisdiction or power of the court (Pease vs. Rathbun-Jones etc., 243
U.S. 273, 61 L. Ed. 715, 37 S.Ct. 283; St. Louis etc. vs. McBride, 141 U.S. 127, 35
L. Ed. 659). And in Littleton vs. Burgess, 16 Wyo. 58, the Court said that it is not
right for a party who has affirmed and invoked the jurisdiction of a court in a
particular matter to secure an affirmative relief, to afterwards deny that same
jurisdiction to escape a penalty.

Upon this same principle is what We said in the three cases mentioned in the
resolution of the Court of Appeals of May 20, 1963 (supra)—to the effect that we
frown upon the "undesirable practice" of a party submitting his case for decision
and then accepting the judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of
jurisdiction, when adverse—as well as in Pindañgan etc. vs. Dans et al., G.R. L-
14591, September 26, 1962; Montelibano et al. vs. Bacolod-Murcia Milling Co.,
Inc., G.R. L-15092; Young Men Labor Union etc. vs. The Court of Industrial
Relations et al., G.R. L-20307, Feb. 26, 1965, and Mejia vs. Lucas, 100 Phil. p.
277.

The facts of this case show that from the time the Surety became a quasi-party on
July 31, 1948, it could have raised the question of the lack of jurisdiction of the
Court of First Instance of Cebu to take cognizance of the present action by reason
of the sum of money involved which, according to the law then in force, was
within the original exclusive jurisdiction of inferior courts. It failed to do so.
Instead, at several stages of the proceedings in the court a quo, as well as in the
Court of Appeals, it invoked the jurisdiction of said courts to obtain affirmative
relief and submitted its case for a final adjudication on the merits. It was only after
an adverse decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally woke up to
raise the question of jurisdiction. Were we to sanction such conduct on its part, We
would in effect be declaring as useless all the proceedings had in the present case
since it was commenced on July 19, 1948 and compel the judgment creditors to go
up their Calvary once more. The inequity and unfairness of this is not only patent
but revolting.22

For quite a time since we made this pronouncement in Sibonghanoy, courts and
tribunals, in resolving issues that involve the belated invocation of lack of
jurisdiction, have applied the principle of estoppel by laches. Thus, in Calimlim v.
Ramirez,23 we pointed out that Sibonghanoy was developing into a general rule
rather than the exception:
A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in decisions so
numerous to 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 may be raised at any stage of the
proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified by recent
pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of
Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however, that the holding in said case had been
applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. The
exceptional circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure
from the accepted concept of non-waivability of objection to jurisdiction has been
ignored and, instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered
the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but rather the general
rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of
jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.

In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction of the court that rendered the
questioned ruling was held to be barred by estoppel by laches. It was ruled that the
lack of jurisdiction having been raised for the first time in a motion to dismiss filed
almost fifteen (15) years after the questioned ruling had been rendered, such a plea
may no longer be raised for being barred by laches. As defined in said case, laches
is "failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do
that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it
is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a
presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned it or declined to assert
it.24

In Calimlim, despite the fact that the one who benefited from the plea of lack of
jurisdiction was the one who invoked the court’s jurisdiction, and who later
obtained an adverse judgment therein, we refused to apply the ruling in
Sibonghanoy. The Court accorded supremacy to the time-honored principle that
the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.

Yet, in subsequent cases decided after Calimlim, which by sheer volume are too
plentiful to mention, the Sibonghanoy doctrine, as foretold in Calimlim, became
the rule rather than the exception. As such, in Soliven v. Fastforms Philippines,
Inc.,25 the Court ruled:

While it is true that jurisdiction may be raised at any time, "this rule presupposes
that estoppel has not supervened." In the instant case, respondent actively
participated in all stages of the proceedings before the trial court and invoked its
authority by asking for an affirmative relief. Clearly, respondent is estopped from
challenging the trial court’s jurisdiction, especially when an adverse judgment has
been rendered. In PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation vs. Court of
Appeals, we held:

Moreover, we note that petitioner did not question at all the jurisdiction of the
lower court x x x in its answers to both the amended complaint and the second
amended complaint. It did so only in its motion for reconsideration of the decision
of the lower court after it had received an adverse decision. As this Court held in
Pantranco North Express, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 105180, July 5,
1993, 224 SCRA 477, 491), participation in all stages of the case before the trial
court, that included invoking its authority in asking for affirmative relief,
effectively barred petitioner by estoppel from challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
Notably, from the time it filed its answer to the second amended complaint on
April 16, 1985, petitioner did not question the lower court’s jurisdiction. It was
only on December 29, 1989 when it filed its motion for reconsideration of the
lower court’s decision that petitioner raised the question of the lower court’s lack
of jurisdiction. Petitioner thus foreclosed its right to raise the issue of jurisdiction
by its own inaction. (italics ours)

Similarly, in the subsequent case of Sta. Lucia Realty and Development, Inc. vs.
Cabrigas, we ruled:

In the case at bar, it was found by the trial court in its 30 September 1996 decision
in LCR Case No. Q-60161(93) that private respondents (who filed the petition for
reconstitution of titles) failed to comply with both sections 12 and 13 of RA 26 and
therefore, it had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case. However,
private respondents never questioned the trial court’s jurisdiction over its petition
for reconstitution throughout the duration of LCR Case No. Q-60161(93). On the
contrary, private respondents actively participated in the reconstitution proceedings
by filing pleadings and presenting its evidence. They invoked the trial court’s
jurisdiction in order to obtain affirmative relief – the reconstitution of their titles.
Private respondents have thus foreclosed their right to raise the issue of jurisdiction
by their own actions.

The Court has constantly upheld the doctrine that while jurisdiction may be
assailed at any stage, a litigant’s participation in all stages of the case before the
trial court, including the invocation of its authority in asking for affirmative relief,
bars such party from challenging the court’s jurisdiction (PNOC Shipping and
Transport Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 297 SCRA 402 [1998]). A party
cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his
opponent and after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question
that same jurisdiction (Asset Privatization Trust vs. Court of Appeals, 300 SCRA
579 [1998]; Province of Bulacan vs. Court of Appeals, 299 SCRA 442 [1998]).
The Court frowns upon the undesirable practice of a party participating in the
proceedings and submitting his case for decision and then accepting judgment,
only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction, when adverse (Producers
Bank of the Philippines vs. NLRC, 298 SCRA 517 [1998], citing Ilocos Sur
Electric Cooperative, Inc. vs. NLRC, 241 SCRA 36 [1995]). (italics ours)26

Noteworthy, however, is that, in the 2005 case of Metromedia Times Corporation


v. Pastorin,27 where the issue of lack of jurisdiction was raised only in the National
Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on appeal, we stated, after examining the
doctrines of jurisdiction vis-à-vis estoppel, that the ruling in Sibonghanoy stands as
an exception, rather than the general rule. Metromedia, thus, was not estopped
from assailing the jurisdiction of the labor arbiter before the NLRC on
appeal.281avvphi1

Later, in Francel Realty Corporation v. Sycip,29 the Court clarified that:

Petitioner argues that the CA’s affirmation of the trial court’s dismissal of its case
was erroneous, considering that a full-blown trial had already been conducted. In
effect, it contends that lack of jurisdiction could no longer be used as a ground for
dismissal after trial had ensued and ended.

The above argument is anchored on estoppel by laches, which has been used quite
successfully in a number of cases to thwart dismissals based on lack of jurisdiction.
Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, in which this doctrine was espoused, held that a party may
be barred from questioning a court’s jurisdiction after being invoked to secure
affirmative relief against its opponent. In fine, laches prevents the issue of lack of
jurisdiction from being raised for the first time on appeal by a litigant whose
purpose is to annul everything done in a trial in which it has actively participated.

Laches is defined as the "failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained


length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have
been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable
time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has
abandoned it or declined to assert it."

The ruling in Sibonghanoy on the matter of jurisdiction is, however, the exception
rather than the rule.1avvphi1 Estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar the issue of
lack of jurisdiction only in cases in which the factual milieu is analogous to that in
the cited case. In such controversies, laches should be clearly present; that is, lack
of jurisdiction must have been raised so belatedly as to warrant the presumption
that the party entitled to assert it had abandoned or declined to assert it. That
Sibonghanoy applies only to exceptional circumstances is clarified in Calimlim v.
Ramirez, which we quote:

A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in decisions so
numerous to 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 may be raised at any stage of the
proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified by recent
pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of
Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however, that the holding in said case had been
applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. The
exceptional circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure
from the accepted concept of non-waivability of objection to jurisdiction has been
ignored and, instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered
the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but rather the general
rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of
jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.

Indeed, the general rule remains: a court’s lack of jurisdiction may be raised at any
stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. The reason is that jurisdiction is
conferred by law, and lack of it affects the very authority of the court to take
cognizance of and to render judgment on the action. Moreover, jurisdiction is
determined by the averments of the complaint, not by the defenses contained in the
answer.30

Also, in Mangaliag v. Catubig-Pastoral,31 even if the pleader of lack of jurisdiction


actively took part in the trial proceedings by presenting a witness to seek
exoneration, the Court, reiterating the doctrine in Calimlim, said:

Private respondent argues that the defense of lack of jurisdiction may be waived by
estoppel through active participation in the trial. Such, however, is not the general
rule but an exception, best characterized by the peculiar circumstances in Tijam vs.
Sibonghanoy. In Sibonghanoy, the party invoking lack of jurisdiction did so only
after fifteen years and at a stage when the proceedings had already been elevated to
the CA. Sibonghanoy is an exceptional case because of the presence of laches,
which was defined therein as failure or neglect for an unreasonable and
unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due 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 it or declined to assert it.32

And in the more recent Regalado v. Go,33 the Court again emphasized that laches
should be clearly present for the Sibonghanoy doctrine to be applicable, thus:

Laches is defined as the "failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained


length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have
been done earlier, it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable
length of time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either
has abandoned it or declined to assert it."

The ruling in People v. Regalario that was based on the landmark doctrine
enunciated in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy on the matter of jurisdiction by estoppel is the
exception rather than the rule. Estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar the issue
of lack of jurisdiction only in cases in which the factual milieu is analogous to that
in the cited case. In such controversies, laches should have been clearly present;
that is, lack of jurisdiction must have been raised so belatedly as to warrant the
presumption that the party entitled to assert it had abandoned or declined to assert
it.

In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction was raised for the first time in a
motion to dismiss filed by the Surety almost 15 years after the questioned ruling
had been rendered. At several stages of the proceedings, in the court a quo as well
as in the Court of Appeals, the Surety invoked the jurisdiction of the said courts to
obtain affirmative relief and submitted its case for final adjudication on the merits.
It was only when the adverse decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it
finally woke up to raise the question of jurisdiction.

Clearly, the factual settings attendant in Sibonghanoy are not present in the case at
bar. Petitioner Atty. Regalado, after the receipt of the Court of Appeals resolution
finding her guilty of contempt, promptly filed a Motion for Reconsideration
assailing the said court’s jurisdiction based on procedural infirmity in initiating the
action. Her compliance with the appellate court’s directive to show cause why she
should not be cited for contempt and filing a single piece of pleading to that effect
could not be considered as an active participation in the judicial proceedings so as
to take the case within the milieu of Sibonghanoy. Rather, it is the natural fear to
disobey the mandate of the court that could lead to dire consequences that impelled
her to comply.34
The Court, thus, wavered on when to apply the exceptional circumstance in
Sibonghanoy and on when to apply the general rule enunciated as early as in De La
Santa and expounded at length in Calimlim. The general rule should, however, be,
as it has always been, that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the
proceedings, even on appeal, and is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. Estoppel by
laches, to bar a litigant from asserting the court’s absence or lack of jurisdiction,
only supervenes in exceptional cases similar to the factual milieu of Tijam v.
Sibonghanoy. Indeed, the fact that a person attempts to invoke unauthorized
jurisdiction of a court does not estop him from thereafter challenging its
jurisdiction over the subject matter, since such jurisdiction must arise by law and
not by mere consent of the parties. This is especially true where the person seeking
to invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of the court does not thereby secure any
advantage or the adverse party does not suffer any harm.35

Applying the said doctrine to the instant case, the petitioner is in no way estopped
by laches in assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC, considering that he raised the
lack thereof in his appeal before the appellate court. At that time, no considerable
period had yet elapsed for laches to attach. True, delay alone, though unreasonable,
will not sustain the defense of "estoppel by laches" unless it further appears that the
party, knowing his rights, has not sought to enforce them until the condition of the
party pleading laches has in good faith become so changed that he cannot be
restored to his former state, if the rights be then enforced, due to loss of evidence,
change of title, intervention of equities, and other causes.36 In applying the
principle of estoppel by laches in the exceptional case of Sibonghanoy, the Court
therein considered the patent and revolting inequity and unfairness of having the
judgment creditors go up their Calvary once more after more or less 15 years. 37
The same, however, does not obtain in the instant case.

We note at this point that estoppel, being in the nature of a forfeiture, is not
favored by law. It is to be applied rarely—only from necessity, and only in
extraordinary circumstances. The doctrine must be applied with great care and the
equity must be strong in its favor.38 When misapplied, the doctrine of estoppel may
be a most effective weapon for the accomplishment of injustice. 39 Moreover, a
judgment rendered without jurisdiction over the subject matter is void.40 Hence, the
Revised Rules of Court provides for remedies in attacking judgments rendered by
courts or tribunals that have no jurisdiction over the concerned cases. No laches
will even attach when the judgment is null and void for want of jurisdiction. 41 As
we have stated in Heirs of Julian Dela Cruz and Leonora Talaro v. Heirs of Alberto
Cruz,42

It is axiomatic that the jurisdiction of a tribunal, including a quasi-judicial officer


or government agency, over the nature and subject matter of a petition or
complaint is determined by the material allegations therein and the character of the
relief prayed for, irrespective of whether the petitioner or complainant is entitled to
any or all such reliefs. Jurisdiction over the nature and subject matter of an action
is conferred by the Constitution and the law, and not by the consent or waiver of
the parties where the court otherwise would have no jurisdiction over the nature or
subject matter of the action. Nor can it be acquired through, or waived by, any act
or omission of the parties. Moreover, estoppel does not apply to confer jurisdiction
to a tribunal that has none over the cause of action. x x x
Indeed, the jurisdiction of the court or tribunal is not affected by the defenses or
theories set up by the defendant or respondent in his answer or motion to dismiss.
Jurisdiction should be determined by considering not only the status or the
relationship of the parties but also the nature of the issues or questions that is the
subject of the controversy. x x x x The proceedings before a court or tribunal
without jurisdiction, including its decision, are null and void, hence, susceptible to
direct and collateral attacks.43

With the above considerations, we find it unnecessary to resolve the other issues
raised in the petition.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review on certiorari is


GRANTED. Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94 is hereby DISMISSED without
prejudice.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING*
Associate Justice

CONSUELO YNARES- MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-


SANTIAGO MARTINEZ
Associate Justice Associate Justice

RUBEN T. REYES
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above decision were reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, and the Division


Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above decision were
reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of
the Court.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
Footnotes
1
In the records, "Venancio" is also spelled as "Vinancio."
*
In lieu of Associate Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario per Special Order No. 508, dated
June 25, 2008.
2
Penned by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales (now an Associate Justice of this
Court), with Associate Justices Candido V. Rivera and Rebecca de Guia-Salvador
concurring; rollo, pp. 23-31.
3
The indictment reads:

That on or about the 16th day of January 1994, in the Municipality of Bocaue,
Province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, being then the driver and person-in-charge of
German Espiritu Bus bearing plate no. PHZ-542, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously drive and operate the same along the highway in the
said municipality, in a negligent, careless and imprudent manner, without due
regard to the traffic laws, rules and regulations and without taking the necessary
precautions to prevent death or injuries to persons and damage to property,
causing by such negligence, carelessness and imprudence, said German Espiritu
Bus driven by him to hit and bump one Rodolfo Lopez y Amparado, thereby
causing physical injuries to the latter which caused his death. (Id. at 23-24.)
4
Id. at 26.
5
Id. at 55.
6
The dispositive portion of the trial court’s decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds the accused Vinancio
Figueroa y Cervantes GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of reckless
imprudence resulting to (sic) homicide, as defined and penalized under Article
365 of the Revised Penal Code, sentencing him to suffer imprisonment of two (2)
years, ten (10) months and twenty-one (21) days to four (4) years and two (2)
months and to indemnify the heirs of the deceased in the amount of:

1. P50,000.00 indemnity;

2. P3,034,560.00 for loss of earning capacity;

3. P24,000 for cemetery lot;

4. P45,000 for funeral expenses;

5. P54,221.00 for wake expenses.

SO ORDERED.

(Id. at 24-25 and 56.)


7
Id. at 25.
8
The dispositive portion of the CA decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.


As modified, the judgment reads: Appellant Vinancio Figueroa is found guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of Homicide Through Reckless Imprudence with
violation of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code (formerly the Automobile
Law) and is accordingly hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of
One (1) Year, Four (4) Months and One (1) Day of prision correccional as
minimum to Three (3) Years, Six (6) Months and Twenty (20) Days of prision
correccional as maximum, and to pay the heirs of the victim the following:

1. P50,000.00 as civil indemnity;

2. P339,840.00 as damages for loss of earning capacity;

3. P45,000 for funeral expenses; and

4. P24,000 for burial expenses

SO ORDERED. (Id. at 30.)


9
Id. at 156-158.
10
Alarilla v. Sandiganbayan, 393 Phil. 143, 155 (2000); Escobal v. Justice Garchitorena,
466 Phil. 625, 635 (2004).
11
Entitled "The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980," approved on August 14, 1981.
12
Entitled "An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts,
Municipal Trial Courts, and Muncipal Circuit Trial Courts, Amending for the Purpose
Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, Otherwise Known as the ‘Judiciary Reorganization Act of
1980,’" approved on March 25, 1994, and took effect on April 15, 1994, fifteen days after
publication in the Malaya and in the Times Journal on March 30, 1994, pursuant to
Section 8 thereof.
13
Revised Penal Code, Art. 365.
14
In Re: Calloway, 1 Phil. 11, 12 (1901).
15
9 Phil. 22 (1907).
16
Id. at 26. (Emphasis ours.)
17
111 Phil. 73 (1961).
18
Id. at 93-94. (Emphasis ours).
19
No. L-14591, September 26, 1962, 6 SCRA 14.
20
Id. at 16-17.
21
131 Phil. 556 (1968).
22
Id. at 563-565.
23
204 Phil. 25 (1982).
24
Id. at 34-35.
25
G.R. No. 139031, October 18, 2004, 440 SCRA 389.
26
Id. at 395-396.
27
G.R. No. 154295, July 29, 2005, 465 SCRA 320.
28
Id.at 337.
29
G.R. No. 154684, September 8, 2005, 469 SCRA 424.
30
Id. at 429-431.
31
G.R. No. 143951, October 25, 2005, 474 SCRA 153.
32
Id. at 162.
33
G.R. No. 167988, February 6, 2007, 514 SCRA 616.
34
Id. at 635-636. (Citations omitted.)
35
Jolley v. Martin Bros. Box Co., 109 N.E. 2d, 652, 661 (1952).
36
Wisdom’s Adm’r v. Sims, 144 S.W. 2d 232, 235, 236, 284 Ky. 258.
37
Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, supra, at 37.
38
C & S Fishfarm Corp. v. Court of Appeals, 442 Phil. 279, 290-291 (2002).
39
Smith v. Smith, 265 N.C. 18, 27; 143 S.E. 2d 300, 306 (1965).
40
Veneracion v. Mancilla, G.R. No. 158238, July 20, 2006.
41
Arcelona v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 102900, October 2, 1997, 280 SCRA 20, 53.
42
G.R. No. 162890, November 22, 2005, 475 SCRA 743.
43
Id. at 755-757. (Italics supplied.)

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation


Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

ANGELINA PAHILA- G.R. No. 156358


GARRIDO,
Petitioner,
Present:
- versus –
CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,
ELIZA M. TORTOGO, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
LEONILA FLORES, BERSAMIN,
ANANIAS SEDONIO, DEL CASTILLO, and
ADELINO MONET, VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
ANGIE MONET,
JUANITO GARCIA,
ELEONOR GARCIA, Promulgated:
BENITA MOYA,
JULIO ALTARES, August 17, 2011
LEA ALTARES,
CLARITA SABIDO,
JULIE ANN VILLAMOR,
JUANITA TUALA,
VICTOR FLORES III,
JOHNNY MOYA,
HAZEL AVANCEA,
SONIA EVANGELIO, and
GENNY MONTAO,
Respondents.

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

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

Nothing is more settled in law than that once a judgment attains finality it
thereby becomes immutable and unalterable.1[1] The enforcement of such
judgment should not be hampered or evaded, for the immediate enforcement of the
parties rights, confirmed by final judgment, is a major component of the ideal
administration of justice. This is the reason why we abhor any delay in the full
execution of final and executory decisions.2[2] Thus, a remedy intended to

1[1] Gallardo-Corro v. Gallardo, G.R. No. 136228, January 30, 2001, 350 SCRA 568.

2[2] Session Delights Ice Cream and Fast Foods v. Court of Appeals (Sixth Division), G.R.
No. 172149, February 8, 2010, 612 SCRA 10.
frustrate, suspend, or enjoin the enforcement of a final judgment must be granted
with caution and upon a strict observance of the requirements under existing laws
and jurisprudence. Any such remedy allowed in violation of established rules and
guidelines connotes but a capricious exercise of discretion that must be struck
down in order that the prevailing party is not deprived of the fruits of victory.

Via her pleading denominated as a petition for review on certiorari, the


petitioner has come directly to the Court from the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 48, in Bacolod City for the nullification of the order dated November 12,
2002 (granting the respondents application for a writ of preliminary prohibitory
injunction [enjoining the execution of the final and executory decision rendered in
an ejectment suit by the Municipal Trial Court in Cities [MTCC], Branch 6, in
Bacolod City]) issued in SCA Case No. 01-115223[3] for being in violation of law
and jurisprudence.

The petitioner also prays that the Court should enjoin the RTC from taking
further proceedings in SCA Case No. 01-11522, except to dismiss it.

Antecedents

On June 23, 1997, Domingo Pahila commenced in the MTCC in Bacolod


City an action for ejectment with prayer for preliminary and restraining order to
evict several defendants, including the respondents herein, from his properties,
docketed as Civil Case No. 23671 and raffled to Branch 6 of the MTCC. He
amended the complaint to implead the spouses of some of the defendants.
However, he died during the pendency of the action, and his surviving spouse,
herein petitioner Angelina Pahila-Garrido, was substituted for him on September
24, 1998.

The defendants in Civil Case No. 23671 were divided into two discrete
groups. The first group, represented by Atty. Romeo Subaldo, included those
defendants occupying Lot 641-B-1, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT)
T-167924; Lot 641-B-2, covered by TCT No. T-167925; and Lot No. 641-B-3,
covered by TCT No. T-167926, all owned by the plaintiff. The defendants in this

3[3] Entitled Elisa M. Tortogo, et al. v. Hon. Eliseo C. Geolingo, in his capacity as the
Presiding Judge of Branch 6, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Bacolod City, Nicolas G. Albayda,
in his capacity as Deputy Sheriff of Branch 6, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Bacolod City, and
Domingo Pahila, as represented by Angelina Pahila-Garrido.
group relied on the common defense of being agricultural tenants on the land. The
second group, on the other hand, was represented by Atty. Ranela de la Fuente of
the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) and counted the defendants occupying Lot No.
F-V-3-3749-D, covered by TCT No. T-55630, also owned by the plaintiff. The
second groups common defense was that the plaintiffs title was not valid because
their respective portions were situated on foreshore land along the Guimaras Strait,
and thus their respective areas were subject to their own acquisition from the State
as the actual occupants.

After the parties submitted their respective position papers, the MTCC
rendered a decision dated March 17, 1999 in favor of the petitioner,4[4] to wit:

WHEREFORE, JUDGMENT IS RENDERED IN FAVOR OF THE PLAINTIFF AND


AGAINST THE DEFENDANTS except the defendant Damiana Daguno, as follows:

1. Ordering the affected defendants or any person or persons in acting in


their behalf, assignees or successors-in-interests including members of their
family to vacate portions of Lot No. 641-B-1 covered by TCT No. 16742, Lot
No.641-B-2 covered by TCT No. T-167926 and Lot Plan-F-V-337490-D
covered by TCT No. T-55630 which they occupy and turn over the possession
of the said property to the plaintiff, and to pay the cost of the suit.
The prayer for preliminary injunction/restraining order is denied for lack of
basis.

All the defendants appealed. On September 22, 1999, the RTC in


Bacolod City affirmed the decision of the MTCC.5[5]

Only the second group, which includes respondents herein, appealed the
RTCs decision to the Court of Appeals (CA), insisting that the land was foreshore
land and that the petitioners title (TCT No. 55630) was not valid. Considering that
the first group did not appeal, the RTCs decision became final and executory as to
them.

On December 6, 1999, the CA dismissed the second groups appeal, and later
denied their motion for reconsideration on April 17, 2000.6[6]

4[4] Rollo, pp. 32-51.

5[5] Id., p. 58.

6[6] Id., pp. 55-56.


The respondents herein appealed the dismissal to the Court via a petition for
certiorari (G.R. No. 143458), but the Court rejected their recourse on July 19,
2000, and issued an entry of judgment on October 20, 2000.7[7]

In the meantime, on February 16, 2000, the MTCC amended its decision to
correct typographical errors in the description of the properties involved.8[8] None
of the parties objected to or challenged the corrections.

On April 5, 2000, the MTCC issued the writ of execution upon the
petitioners motion.9[9] The writ of execution was duly served on August 24, 2000
upon all the defendants, including the respondents, as the sheriffs return of service
indicated.10[10]

On April 20, 2001, the respondents filed a motion to quash against the April
5, 2000 writ of execution and its aliases, and a motion to stay the execution of the
March 17, 1999 decision and the February 16, 2000 amended decision.11[11] They
anchored their motions on the supposedly supervening finding that the lot covered
by the writ of execution was foreshore land belonging to the State. To support their
contention, they presented the following administrative issuances from the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), namely:

(a) Memorandum dated August 30, 2000 issued by the Community


Environment and National Resources Office (CENRO) of the DENR
recommending the cancellation of Free Patent F.P. No. 309502 from which was
derived Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-1, and petitioners TCT No. T-
55630; and

(b) Memorandum dated November 13, 2000 of the DENR Regional


Executive Director for Region VI in Iloilo City.

7[7] Id., p. 57.

8[8] Id., pp. 52-54.

9[9] Id., pp. 58-60.

10[10] Id., pp. 61-64.

11[11] Id., pp. 67-69.


They argued that such supervening event directly affected the execution of
the March 17, 1999 decision and its amendment, whose continued execution
affecting foreshore land would be unjust to the occupants or possessors of
the property, including themselves.12[12]

On May 4, 2001, the MTCC denied the respondents motion to quash,


observing that the cancellation of the petitioners TCT No. T-55630 was an event
that might or might not happen, and was not the supervening event that could stay
the execution.13[13] A month later, on June 8, 2001, the MTCC denied the
respondents motion for reconsideration,14[14] viz:

As of this point in time the movant has not shown that she has a better right
to possess the land she is presently occupying as a squatter, than the plaintiff who
is in possession of a clean Torrens Title. It is not true that the execution of the
decision of this court would be unjust to her. To put it bluntly, it would be more
unjust to the plaintiff who was deprived of possession of his land for a very long
time, because of the movants insistence in occupying said land even after the
decision ejecting her from the plaintiffs land had become final and executory.

In fine, the movant has not shown additional evidences or arguments which
would warrant the reversal of the order dated May 4, 2001.

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration dated June 1, 2001 is denied.

SO ORDERED.

The story would have ended then but for the fact that on October 1, 2001, or
more than a year after the writ of execution was served upon the defendants in
Civil Case No. 23671, the respondents, led by respondent Elisa M. Tortogo, and
now assisted by Atty. Leon Moya, filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition
(with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and restraining
order) in the RTC in Negros Occidental, docketed as SCA Case No. 01-
11522,15[15] praying:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed of this


HONORABLE COURT that the assailed ORDERS dated 4 May 2001 and 8 July 2001 be
REVERSED, ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.

12[12] Id., p. 68.

13[13] Id., pp. 71-72.

14[14] Id., pp. 73-75.

15[15] Id., pp. 76-91.


PETITIONERS are further praying that after due notice and hearing, a
temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction be
issued to enjoin the execution/implementation of the Decision dated 17 March
1999 and the 16 February 2000 Amended Decision.

Such other and further reliefs just and equitable under the premises.

On October 11, 2001, Judge Gorgonio J. Ybaez, to whose branch SCA Case
No. 01-11522 was raffled, granted the respondents prayer for a temporary
restraining order (TRO) in the following terms,16[16] to wit:

xxxx

WHEREAS, the matter of issuance or not of a TRO was summarily heard


on October 5, 2001 in the presence of the parties and counsels who were both
heard in support/amplification of their respective stand(s);

WHEREAS, it appears that the issuance of a TRO prayed for would be in


order at this stage in this case because there appears an imminent danger of
demolition of the structures of herein petitioners at the premises in question,
pending the trial and final determination of the merits in this case in this case (sic)
wherein the private respondent Pahila does not appear to have prior possession of
the premises in question, and, wherein although it appears that the title of the
premises in question is in the name of respondent Pahila, there also is a showing
that the same title may have been illegally issued;

WHEREAS, the very imminent danger of demolition may result to


irreparable damage to herein petitioners, thus, the impending demolition appears
to be a compelling reason for the issuance of a TRO at this stage in this case.
NOW THEREFORE, YOU, the herein respondents, YOUR AGENTS,
REPRESENTATIVES, or ANY PERSON acting for and in your behalf, are
hereby ENJOINED to CEASE and DESIST from further implementing the 5
April 2000 Writ of Execution and/or any of its Aliases or any demolition order, if
one might have already been issued, in civil case No. 23671, MTCC, Branch 6,
Bacolod City, until further orders from this Court.

On October 25, 2002, the petitioner sought a clarificatory order,17[17]


moving that the TRO be vacated due to its being effective for only twenty days and

16[16] Id., pp. 92-93.

17[17] Id., pp. 94-95.


because such effectivity could neither be extended nor be made indefinite. She
complained that her hands had already been tied for a year from executing the
decision and from availing herself of the writ of demolition; and pleaded that it
was time to give her justice in order that she could already enjoy the possession of
the property.

On October 30, 2002, the respondents moved for the early resolution of the
case and for the issuance of the writ of prohibitory injunction.18[18]

On November 12, 2002, the RTC issued the assailed writ of preliminary
prohibitory injunction,19[19] as follows:

NOW, THEREFORE, YOU, the herein respondents, YOUR AGENTS,


REPRESENTATIVES, or any person acting for and in behalf, are hereby ENJOINED to CEASE
and DESIST from further implementing the April 25, 2000 Writ of Execution and/or any of its
aliases, or any demolition order, if one might have been issued already, in Civil Case No. 23671
before MTCC, Branch 6, Bacolod City, pending the hearing and final determination of the merits
in this instant case, or until further orders from this Court.

xxxx
SO ORDERED.

The petitioner then directly came to the Court through her so-called petition
for review on certiorari, seeking to annul and set aside the writ of preliminary
prohibitory injunction issued by the RTC pursuant to its order dated November 12,
2002. She contended that: (a) the RTC issued the writ of preliminary prohibitory
injunction in a way not in accord with law or the applicable jurisprudence, because
the injunction was directed at the execution of a final and executory judgment of a
court of law; (b) the respondents (as the petitioners in SCA Case No. 01-11522)
had no existing right to be protected by injunction, because their right and cause of
action were premised on the future and contingent event that the petitioners TCT
No. T-55630 would be cancelled through a separate proceeding for the purpose;
and (c) the writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction to enjoin the execution was
issued long after the March 17, 1999 judgment of the MTCC had become final and
executory.

18[18] Id., pp. 96-97.

19[19] Id., pp. 99-100.


Issues

The petition presents the following issues, to wit:

a. Whether the present petition is a proper remedy to assail the November 12,
2002 order of the RTC; and

b. Whether the RTC lawfully issued the TRO and the writ of preliminary
prohibitory injunction to enjoin the execution of the already final and executory
March 17, 1999 decision of the MTCC.

Ruling

We give due course to the petition as a petition for certiorari.

The RTC was guilty of manifestly grave abuse of discretion amounting to


lack or excess of jurisdiction in taking cognizance of SCA Case No. 01-11522 and
in issuing the TRO and the writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction to restrain the
execution of the final and executory decision of the MTCC.

November 12, 2002 order of the RTC is an

interlocutory order that was not subject of appeal

With the petition being self-styled as a petition for review on certiorari, a


mode of appeal, we have first to determine whether the assailed order of November
12, 2002 was an interlocutory or a final order. The distinction is relevant in
deciding whether the order is the proper subject of an appeal, or of a special civil
action for certiorari.

The distinction between a final order and an interlocutory order is well


known. The first disposes of the subject matter in its entirety or terminates a
particular proceeding or action, leaving nothing more to be done except to enforce
by execution what the court has determined, but the latter does not completely
dispose of the case but leaves something else to be decided upon. 20[20] An
interlocutory order deals with preliminary matters and the trial on the merits is yet

20[20] Tan v. Republic, G.R. No. 170740, May 25, 2007, 523 SCRA 203, 210-211.
to be held and the judgment rendered.21[21] The test to ascertain whether or not an
order or a judgment is interlocutory or final is: does the order or judgment leave
something to be done in the trial court with respect to the merits of the case? If it
does, the order or judgment is interlocutory; otherwise, it is final.

The order dated November 12, 2002, which granted the application for the
writ of preliminary injunction, was an interlocutory, not a final, order, and should
not be the subject of an appeal. The reason for disallowing an appeal from an
interlocutory order is to avoid multiplicity of appeals in a single action, which
necessarily suspends the hearing and decision on the merits of the action during the
pendency of the appeals. Permitting multiple appeals will necessarily delay the
trial on the merits of the case for a considerable length of time, and will compel the
adverse party to incur unnecessary expenses, for one of the parties may interpose
as many appeals as there are incidental questions raised by him and as there are
interlocutory orders rendered or issued by the lower court.22[22] An interlocutory
order may be the subject of an appeal, but only after a judgment has been rendered,
with the ground for appealing the order being included in the appeal of the
judgment itself.

The remedy against an interlocutory order not subject of an appeal is an


appropriate special civil action under Rule 65,23[23] provided that the interlocutory

21[21] See Miranda v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-33007, June 18, 1976, 71 SCRA 295.

22[22] United Overseas Bank (formerly Westmont Bank) v. Judge Ros, G.R. No. 171532, August
7, 2007, 529 SCRA 334; citing Rudecon Management Corporation v. Singson, G.R. No. 150798,
31 March 2005, 454 SCRA 612, 629; also, Sitchon v. Sheriff of Occidental Negros, 80 Phil. 397,
399 (1948).

23[23] Section 1, Rule 41, Rules of Court, pertinently states:

Section 1. Subject of appeal.An appeal may be taken from a judgment or final order that completely disposes
of the case, or of a particular matter therein when declared by these Rules to be appealable.

No appeal may be taken from:

xxx

(c) An interlocutory order;

xxx

In all the above instances where the judgment or final order is not appealable, the aggrieved party may file
an appropriate special civil action under Rule 65. (emphasis supplied)
order is rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion. Then is certiorari under Rule 65 allowed to be resorted to.24[24]

II

The petition, by alleging acts constituting manifestly grave abuse


of discretion, was a petition for certiorari

Without disregarding the rule that an interlocutory order cannot be the


subject of appeal, the Court is constrained to treat the present recourse as a special
civil action for certiorari under Rule 65.

Certiorari is a writ issued by a superior court to an inferior court of record,


or other tribunal or officer, exercising a judicial function, requiring the certification
and return to the former of some proceeding then pending, or the record and
proceedings in some cause already terminated, in cases where the procedure is not
according to the course of the common law.25[25] The remedy is brought against a
lower court, board, or officer rendering a judgment or order and seeks the
annulment or modification of the proceedings of such tribunal, board or officer,
and the granting of such incidental reliefs as law and justice may require.26[26] It is
available when the following indispensable elements concur, to wit:

1. That it is directed against a tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial


or quasi-judicial functions;

2. That such tribunal, board or officer has acted without or in excess


of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion; and

3. That there is no appeal nor any plain, speedy and adequate remedy
in the ordinary course of law.27[27]

Certiorari being an extraordinary remedy, the party who seeks to avail of the
same must strictly observe the rules laid down by law. 28[28] The extraordinary writ

24[24] 1 F. Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium 540 (8th revised ed.).

25[25] I Bouviers Law Dictionary, Third Rev., p. 442.

26[26] Sec. 1, Rule 65, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

27[27] Gelindon v. Judge Dela Rama, G.R. No. 105072, December 9, 1993, 228 SCRA 322; Tan
vs. Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302, 322; Cochingyan,
Jr. v. Cloribel, G.R. No. L-27070-71, April 22, 1977, 76 SCRA 361.

28[28] Manila Midtown Hotels & Land Corp. v. NLRC, G. R. No. 118397, March 27, 1998, 288
SCRA 259, 265.
of certiorari may be availed of only upon a showing, in the minimum, that the
respondent tribunal or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has
acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of
discretion.29[29]

For a petition for certiorari and prohibition to prosper and be given due
course, it must be shown that: (a) the respondent judge or tribunal issued the order
without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion; or (b) the
assailed interlocutory order is patently erroneous, and the remedy of appeal cannot
afford adequate and expeditious relief.30[30] Yet, the allegation that the tribunal,
board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or
in excess of its or his jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion will not alone
suffice. Equally imperative is that the petition must satisfactorily specify the acts
committed or omitted by the tribunal, board or officer that constitute grave abuse
of discretion.

Grave abuse of discretion means such capricious or whimsical exercise of


judgment which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction.31[31] To justify the issuance
of the writ of certiorari, the abuse of discretion must be grave, as when the power
is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal
hostility, and the abuse must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a
positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to act at all, in
contemplation of law, as to be equivalent to having acted without
jurisdiction.32[32]

A reading of the petition shows that the petitioner has satisfied the
requirements to justify giving due course to her petition as a petition under Rule
65. She has identified therein some acts as constituting the RTC Judges manifestly
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, namely: (a)
despite the final and executory nature of the judgment sought to be enjoined, the

29[29] Camacho v. Coresis, Jr., G.R. No. 134372, August 22, 2002, 387 SCRA 628.

30[30] Investments, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 60036, January 27, 1987, 147 SCRA 334.

31[31] Feliciano v. Villasin, G.R. No. 174929, June 27, 2008, 556 SCRA 348; Uy v. Office of
the Ombudsman, G.R. Nos. 156399-400, June 27, 2008, 556 SCRA 73.

32[32] Vergara v. Ombudsman, G.R. No. 174567, March 12, 2009, 580 SCRA 693; Nationwide
Security and Allied Services, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 155844, 14 July 2008, 558
SCRA 148.
RTC still issued the TRO and, later on, the assailed writ of preliminary prohibitory
injunction to enjoin the implementation of the writ of execution; (b) the RTC
issued the writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction to protect the respondents
alleged right in the subject properties, but the right did not appear to be in esse; and
(c) the issuance of the TRO and the writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction was
in violation of the requirements imposed by Rule 58 of the Rules of Court and
pertinent jurisprudence.

Did the petitioners failure to first make a motion for reconsideration in the
RTC preclude treating her petition as a petition for certiorari?

The answer is in the negative. That the petitioner did not file a motion for
reconsideration in the RTC before coming to this Court did not preclude treating
her petition as one for certiorari. The requirement under Section 1 of Rule 65 that
there must be no appeal, or any plain or adequate remedy in the ordinary course of
law admits exceptions. In Francisco Motors Corporation v. Court of
Appeals,33[33] the Court has recognized exceptions to the requirement, such as: (a)
when it is necessary to prevent irreparable damages and injury to a party; (b) where
the trial judge capriciously and whimsically exercised his judgment; (c) where
there may be danger of a failure of justice; (d) where an appeal would be slow,
inadequate, and insufficient; (e) where the issue raised is one purely of law; (f)
where public interest is involved; and (g) in case of urgency. The allegations of the
petition definitely placed the petitioners recourse under most, if not all, of the
exceptions.

Was the petition timely filed?

It was. The petitioner received a copy of the order dated November 12, 2002
on November 15, 2002. Pursuant to Section 4 of Rule 65,34[34] she had until
January 14, 2003, or 60 days from November 15, 2002, within which to file a

33[33] G.R. Nos. 117622-23, October 23, 2006, 505 SCRA 8; see also Cervantes v. Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 166755, November 18, 2005, 475 SCRA 562; Flores v. Sangguniang
Panlalawigan of Pampanga, G.R. No. 159022, February 23, 2005, 452 SCRA 278, 282; Acance
v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 159699, March 16, 2005, 453 SCRA 548, 558-559.

34[34] Section 4. When and where position filed. The petition shall be filed not later than
sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution. In case of a motion for
reconsideration or new trial is timely filed, whether such motion is required or not, the sixty (60)
day period shall be counted from notice of the denial of said motion. x x x
petition for certiorari. She filed the petition on January 2, 2003,35[35] well within
the period for her to do so.

We also observe that the rule that a petition should have been brought under
Rule 65 instead of under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (or vice versa) is not
inflexible or rigid.36[36] The inflexibility or rigidity of application of the rules of
procedure is eschewed in order to serve the higher ends of justice. Thus, substance
is given primacy over form, for it is paramount that the rules of procedure are not
applied in a very rigid technical sense, but used only to help secure, not override,
substantial justice. If a technical and rigid enforcement of the rules is made, their
aim is defeated.37[37] Verily, the strict application of procedural technicalities
should not hinder the speedy disposition of the case on the merits.38[38] To
institute a guideline, therefore, the Rules of Court expressly mandates that the rules
of procedure shall be liberally construed in order to promote their objective of
securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and
proceeding.39[39]

III

March 17, 1999 Decision of the MTCC, being already


final and executory, could not be assailed; nor could
its execution be restrained

The respondents elevated to the Court the CA decision dated December 6, 1999
and resolution dated April 17, 2000 via a petition for certiorari (G.R. No. 143458
entitled Damiana Daguno, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al.) The Court dismissed
the petition on July 19, 2000, and the dismissal became final and executory on
October 20, 2000 because the respondents did not timely file a motion for
reconsideration. Consequently, the MTCC rightly issued the writ of execution on
April 5, 2000. Based on the sheriffs return of service, the writ of execution was
duly served upon all the defendants.

35[35] Rollo, pp.19-20.

36[36] See, e.g., Salinas v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 114671, November
24, 1999, 319 SCRA 54.

37[37] Ramiscal, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, G. R. Nos. 140576-99, December 13, 2004, 446 SCRA
166; citing Salazar v. NLRC, G.R. No. 109210, April 17, 1997, 256 SCRA 273.

38[38] Caraan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 124516, April 24, 1998, 289 SCRA 579.

39[39] Section 6, Rule 1, Rules of Court.


Under the circumstances, the principle of immutability of a final judgment must
now be absolutely and unconditionally applied against the respondents. They could
not anymore be permitted to interminably forestall the execution of the judgment
through their interposition of new petitions or pleadings.40[40] Even as their right
to initiate an action in court ought to be fully respected, their commencing SCA
Case No. 01-11522 in the hope of securing a favorable ruling despite their case
having been already fully and finally adjudicated should not be tolerated. Their
move should not frustrate the enforcement of the judgment, the fruit and the end of
the suit itself. Their right as the losing parties to appeal within the prescribed
period could not defeat the correlative right of the winning party to enjoy at last
the finality of the resolution of her case through execution and satisfaction of the
judgment, which would be the life of the law.41[41] To frustrate the winning
partys right through dilatory schemes is to frustrate all the efforts, time and
expenditure of the courts, which thereby increases the costs of litigation. The
interest of justice undeniably demanded that we should immediately write finis to
the litigation, for all courts are by oath bound to guard against any scheme
calculated to bring about the frustration of the winning partys right, and to stop any
attempt to prolong controversies already resolved with finality.42[42]

It is true that notwithstanding the principle of immutability of final judgments,


equity still accords some recourse to a party adversely affected by a final and
executory judgment, specifically, the remedy of a petition to annul the judgment
based on the ground of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction, or the remedy of a
petition for relief from a final order or judgment under Rule 38 of the Rules of
Court.43[43] He may also have a competent court stay the execution or prevent the
enforcement of a final judgment when facts and circumstances that render

40[40] Bongcac v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 156687-88, May 21, 2009, 588 SCRA 64.

41[41] Yau v. Silverio, Sr., G.R. Nos. 158848 and 171994, February 4, 2008, 543 SCRA 520.

42[42] Lim v. Jabalde, G.R. No. 36786, April 17, 1989, 172 SCRA 211, 224; citing Banogon v.
Serna, G.R. No. L-35469, October 9, 1987, 154 SCRA 573.

43[43] Salting v. Velez and Velez, G.R. No. 181930, January 10, 2011.
execution inequitable or unjust meanwhile transpire;44[44] or when a change in
the situation of the parties can warrant an injunctive relief.45[45]

Neither of such remaining equitable remedies is available anymore to the


respondents, however, for the time for such remedies is now past. Indeed, it is now
high time for the respondents to bow to the judgment, and to accept their fate under
it.

IV

Issuance of TRO and writ of preliminary prohibitory


injunction is patently without basis and violated the
requirements of the
Rules of Court and jurisprudence

At this juncture, we find and declare that the RTC Judges issuance of the assailed
order dated November 12, 2002 granting the respondents application for the writ of
preliminary prohibitory injunction constituted manifestly grave abuse of discretion.

A.

Respondents had no existing right violated

by the implementation of the writ of execution

Generally, injunction, being a preservative remedy for the protection of


substantive rights or interests, is not a cause of action in itself but merely a
provisional remedy, an adjunct to a main suit. It is resorted to only when there is a
pressing necessity to avoid injurious consequences that cannot be redressed under
any standard of compensation. The controlling reason for the existence of the
judicial power to issue the writ of injunction is that the court may thereby prevent a
threatened or continuous irremediable injury to some of the parties before their
claims can be thoroughly investigated and advisedly adjudicated. The application
for the writ rests upon an alleged existence of an emergency or of a special reason
for such an order to issue before the case can be regularly heard, and the essential
conditions for granting such temporary injunctive relief are that the complaint
alleges facts that appear to be sufficient to constitute a cause of action for

44[44] Bachrach Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 128349, September 25, 1998, 296
SCRA 487, citing Lee v. De Guzman, Jr., G.R. No. 90926, July 6, 1990, 187 SCRA 276.

45[45] Bachrach Corporation v. Court of Appeals, id.; citing Luna v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. L-
68374, June 18, 1985, 137 SCRA 7; Heirs of Pedro Guminpin v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-34220, February 21,
19883, 120 SCRA 687.
injunction and that on the entire showing from both sides, it appears, in view of all
the circumstances, that the injunction is reasonably necessary to protect the legal
rights of plaintiff pending the litigation.46[46]

A writ of preliminary injunction is an extraordinary event and is the strong


arm of equity or a transcendent remedy. It is granted only to protect actual and
existing substantial rights. Without actual and existing rights on the part of the
applicant, and in the absence of facts bringing the matter within the conditions for
its issuance, the ancillary writ must be struck down for being issued in grave abuse
of discretion. Thus, injunction will not issue to protect a right not in esse, which is
merely contingent, and which may never arise, or to restrain an act which does not
give rise to a cause of action.47[47]

Here, the respondents did not establish the existence of an actual right to be
protected by injunction. They did not, to begin with, hold any enforceable claim in
the property subject of the MTCC decision and of the writ of execution. The
Memoranda and investigative report, whereby the DENR appeared to classify the
property as foreshore land, conferred upon the respondents no interest or right in
the land. Under all circumstances, the classification was not a supervening event
that entitled them to the protection of the injunctive relief. Their claim to any right
as of then was merely contingent, and was something that might not even arise in
the future. Simply stated, they could not lay proper claim to the land before the
State has taken a positive act of first properly classifying the land as foreshore land
and the courts have first conclusively determined and adjudged the ownership in
their favor in a suit brought for the purpose. Without the States positive act of
classification and the courts adjudication, all that the respondents had was an
inchoate expectation that might not at all materialize, especially if we consider that
the petitioner was already the registered owner of the same property, as evidenced
by her existing and valid transfer certificate of title covering the land (a fact that

46[46] Del Rosario v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 115106, March 15, 1996, 255 SCRA 152, 158.

47[47] 43 CJS Injunctions 18.


they themselves admitted and acknowledged),48[48] for which she enjoyed the
indefeasibility of a Torrens title.49[49]

Presumably well aware that the


respondents held absolutely no valid and
existing right in the land, the RTC Judge had
plainly no factual and legal bases for
enjoining the enforcement of the writ of
execution through the TRO and the writ of
preliminary injunction. He obviously acted
arbitrarily and whimsically, because
injunction protected only an existing right or
actual interest in property. Thus, he was
guilty of committing manifestly grave abuse
of discretion, and compounded his guilt by
stopping the enforcement of a final and
executory decision of the MTCC.

B.

TRO and writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction


were wrongfully issued for an indefinite period

We further note that the RTC Judge expressly made the TRO effective until
further orders from him. He thereby contravened explicit rules of procedure. He
knowingly did so, considering that he thereby disregarded the nature and purpose
of the TRO as a temporary and limited remedy, instead of a permanent and
unrestricted relief. He disregarded Section 5, Rule 58 of the Rules of Court, which
expressly stated that the life span of a TRO was only 20 days from service of the
TRO on the party or person sought to be enjoined. Considering that the limited life
span of a TRO was a long-standing and basic rule of procedure, he consciously
arrogated unto himself a power that he did not have. Ignoring a rule as elementary
as the 20-day life span of a TRO amounted to gross ignorance of law and
procedure. His violation is seemingly made worse by the fact that he thereby
usurped the authority of the Court as the only court with the power to issue a TRO
effective until further orders.50[50]

48[48] Rollo, p. 382.

49[49] Ugale v. Gorospe, G.R. No. 149516, September 11, 2006, 501 SCRA 376; Seville v.
National Development Company, G.R. No. 129401, February 2, 2000, 351 SCRA 112; De Pedro
v. Romasan Development Corp., G.R. No. 158002, February 28, 2005, 452 SCRA 564, 575.

50[50] Section 5, Rule 58, 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure.


Due to its lifetime of only 20 days from service on the party or person to be
enjoined, the TRO that the RTC Judge issued automatically expired on the
twentieth day without need of any judicial declaration to that effect. Yet,

by making the TRO effective until further orders, he made the effectivity of
the TRO indefinite. He thus took for granted the caution that injunction, as the
strong arm of equity,51[51] should not be routinely or lightly granted. Again,
restraint was required of him, for the power to issue injunctions should be
exercised sparingly, with utmost care, and with great caution and deliberation. The
power is to be exercised only where the reason and necessity therefor are clearly
established, and only in cases reasonably free from doubt.52[52] For, it has been
said that there is no power the exercise of which is more delicate, requires greater
caution and deliberation, or is more dangerous in a doubtful case, than the issuing
of an injunction.53[53]

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition for certiorari.

We NULLIFY and SET ASIDE the writ of preliminary prohibitory


injunction issued on November 12, 2002 for being devoid of legal and factual
bases; and DIRECT the Regional Trial Court, Branch 48, in Bacolod City to
dismiss SCA Case No. 01-11522.

Presiding Judge Gorgonio J. Ybaez of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 48,
in Bacolod City is ORDERED TO SHOW CAUSE in writing within ten days
from notice why he should not be administratively sanctioned for gross ignorance
of the law and procedure for his manifest disregard of the prohibition under the
Rules of Court against unwarranted restraining orders and writs of injunction, and
for issuing a temporary restraining order effective until furthers of the court.

51[51] 43 CJS Injunctions 2; citing Anderson v. Smith, 8 Alaska 470; Miollis v. Schneider, 222
N. E. 2d 715, 77 Ill. App. 2d 420; Triangle Sign Co. v. Randolph & State Property, Inc., 147 N.
E. 2d 451, 16 Ill. App. 2d 21; Arthur Murray Dance Studios of Cleveland v. Witter, Com. PI.,
105 N. E. 2d 685.

52[52] 43 CJS Injunctions 15.

53[53] Detroit Newspaper Publishers Association v. Detroit Typgraphical Union No. 18, Intern.
Typographical Union, C. A. Mich., 471 F. 2d 872; Ancora-Citronelle Corp. v. Green, 115 Cal.
Rptr., 879, 41 C. A. 3d 16; Mallon v. City of Long Beach, 330 P. 2d 423, 164 C. a. 2d 178.
Costs of suit to be paid by the respondents.

SO ORDERED.

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

G.R. No. 194751, November 26, 2014 - AURORA N. DE PEDRO, Petitioner, v. ROMASAN
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondent.
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 194751, November 26, 2014

AURORA N. DE PEDRO, Petitioner, v. ROMASAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION,


Respondent.

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

Regardless of the type of action — whether it is in personam, in rem or quasi in rem — the
preferred mode of service of summons is personal service. To avail themselves of substituted
service, courts must rely on a detailed enumeration of the sheriff’s actions and a showing that the
defendant cannot be served despite diligent and reasonable efforts. The sheriff’s return, which
contains these details, is entitled to a presumption of regularity, and on this basis, the court may
allow substituted service. Should the sheriff’s return be wanting of these details, substituted
service will be irregular if no other evidence of the efforts to serve summons was presented.

Failure to serve summons will mean that the court failed to acquire jurisdiction over the person
of the defendant. However, the filing of a motion for new trial or reconsideration is tantamount
to voluntary appearance.

This Rule 45 petition seeks the review of the Court of Appeals July 7, 2010 decision in CA G.R.
SP. No. 96471. The Court of Appeals denied petitioner’s action for annulment of the Regional
Trial Court decision, which, in turn, nullified her certificate of title.

This case originated from separate complaints for nullification of free patent and original
certificates of title, filed against several defendants.1 One of the defendants is petitioner Aurora
De Pedro (De Pedro).2 The complaints were filed by respondent Romasan Development
Corporation before the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City on July 7, 1998.3 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Respondent Romasan Development Corporation alleged in its complaints that it was the owner
and possessor of a parcel of land in Antipolo City.4 The land was covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 236044.5 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Based on respondent’s narrative, its representative, Mr. Rodrigo Ko, discovered sometime in
November 1996 that De Pedro put up fences on a portion of its Antipolo property.6 Mr. Ko
confronted De Pedro regarding her acts, but she was able to show title and documents evidencing
her ownership.7 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Mr. Ko informed respondent about the documents.8 Upon checking with the Community
Environment and Natural Resources Office-Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(CENRO-DENR), it was discovered that the DENR issued free patents covering portions of
respondent’s property to the following: chanroblesvir tuallawlibrary

a. Defendant Nora Jocson, married to Carlito Jocson - OCT No. P-723, Free Patent No.
045802-91-616;

b. Defendants Heirs of Marcelino Santos[,] represented by Cristino Santos - OCT No. P-


727, Free Patent No. 045802-91-919;

c. Defendant Aurora de Pedro married to Elpidio de Pedro - OCT No. 691, Free Patent No.
045802-91-914;

d. Defendant Wilson Dadia - OCT No. P-722, Free Patent No. 045802-91-915; and
e. Defendant Prudencio Marana - OCT No. P-721, Free Patent N[o]. 045802-91-923.9
(Emphasis supplied)

Based on these free patents, the Register of Deeds issued titles covering portions of respondent’s
property.10 Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 691, Free Patent No. 045802-91-914 was
signed by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in favor of De Pedro on
December 9, 1991.11 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Respondent further alleged in its separate complaints that the government could not legally issue
the free patents because at the time of their issuance, the land was already released for
disposition to private individuals.12 OCT No. 438, from which respondent’s TCT No. 236044
originated, was already issued as early as August 30, 1937.13 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Respondent also prayed for the payment of attorney’s fees and exemplary damages. 14 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Attempts to personally serve summons on De Pedro failed.15 The officer’s return, dated
February 22, 1999 reads in part: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

OFFICER’S RETURN

I HEREBY CERTIFY that on the 15th and 18th day of February, 1999, I have served a copy of
the summons with complaint and annexes dated January 29, 1999 issued by Regional Trial
Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 74, Antipolo City upon defendants in the above-entitled
case on the following, to wit;

1. AURORA N. DE PEDRO – Unserved for the reason that according to the messenger of Post
Office of Pasig their [sic] is no person in the said given address.16

Respondent filed a motion to serve summons and the complaint by publication.17 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

On August 17, 1998, the Regional Trial Court granted the motion.18 The summons and the
complaint were published in People’s Balita on its April 24, May 1, and May 8, 1998 issues. 19 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

On July 15, 1999, respondent moved to declare all defendants in its complaints, including De
Pedro, in default for failure to file their answers.20 Respondent also moved to be allowed to
present evidence ex parte.21 The Regional Trial Court granted the motions on August 19,
1999.22chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

On January 7, 2000, the Regional Trial Court issued an order declaring as nullity the titles and
free patents issued to all defendants in respondent’s complaint, including the free patent issued to
De Pedro.23 Thus: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Accordingly the Court declares as a nullity the following titles and Free Patents issued to the
Defendants.

a. Defendant Nora Jocson married to Carlito Jocson OCT No. P-723; Free Patent N[o].
045802-91-616;

b. Defendant Heirs of Marcelino Santos represented by Cristino Santos – OCT N[o]. P-727;
Free Patent N[o]. 045802-91-919;

c. Defendant Aurora N. de Pedro married to Elpidio de Pedro – OCT No. P-691; Free
Patent No. 045802-91-914;

d. Defendant Wilson Dadia – OCT No. P-722; Free Patent No. 045802-91-915;

e. Defendant Prudencio Marana – OCT No. P-721; Free Patent N[o]. 045802-91-923.

There being clear bad faith on the part of the Private defendants in obtaining said Free Patents
and titles in their names covering the portions of the property of the plaintiff, said defendants are
each ordered to pay to the plaintiff the amount of P20,000.00 as attorney’s fees, P3,000.00 as
appearance fee and also P50,000.00 as moral damages with costs against said private defendants.
Once the Decision becomes final and in order to give full force and effect to the Decision of the
Court nullifying the titles and patents issued to the defendants, the latter are directed to surrender
the same within a period of ten (10) days from the finality of said Decision to the Registry of
Deeds of Marikina City and failure on the part of the defendants to surrender the owner’s
duplicate of the titles in their possession, defendant Register of Deeds of Marikina City is
authorized to cancel the same without the presentation of said owner’s duplicate of titles in the
possession of the defendants.24 (Emphasis supplied)

In so ruling, the Regional Trial Court noted that none of the defendants, including De Pedro,
filed an answer to respondent’s complaints.25 The Regional Trial Court also noted the committee
report admitting CENRO’s irregularity in the issuance of the free patents to the defendants in the
case.26
chanRoblesvirtualLaw library

The Regional Trial Court also found that the title and free patent issued to De Pedro were void.27
As early as August 30, 1937, or before the free patents were issued to the defendants in the case,
OCT No. 438 was already issued to the property’s original owner.28 Hence, the property was
already “segregated from the mass of public domain” that can be disposed by the
government.29 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

On March 30, 2000, De Pedro, through counsel, filed before the Regional Trial Court a motion
for new trial, alleging that the counsel received notice of the January 7, 2000 decision on March
16, 2000.30 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

De Pedro argued that the Regional Trial Court did not acquire jurisdiction over her person
because of improper and defective service of summons. Citing the officer’s return dated
February 22, 1999, De Pedro pointed out that summons was not personally served upon her “for
the reason that according to the messenger of Post Office of Pasig their (sic) is no person in the
said given address.”31 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

De Pedro also argued that the case should have been dismissed on the ground of litis pendentia.
She alleged that there was a pending civil case filed by her, involving the same property, when
respondent filed the complaints against her and several others.32 chanRoblesvirtua lLawlibrary

On September 30, 2002, the Regional Trial Court issued an order denying De Pedro’s motion for
new trial.33 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The Regional Trial Court ruled that summons was validly served upon De Pedro through
publication, in accordance with the Rules of Court.34 Moreover, counting from the date of the
summons’ publication beginning on March 2, 2000, the motion for new trial was filed beyond
the 15-day period within which the motion may be filed.35 Therefore, the Regional Trial Court
decision had become final and executory.36 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrar y

The Regional Trial Court also ruled that the reckoning period for filing the motion for new trial
cannot be De Pedro’s counsel’s receipt of the decision. This is because at the time of the
issuance of the court’s decision, which had already become final and executory, De Pedro’s
counsel was yet to enter his appearance for De Pedro.37 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

De Pedro filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals, alleging that the Regional
Trial Court committed grave abuse of discretion when it denied her motion for new trial.38 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

On March 30, 2006, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for certiorari for lack of merit,
and affirmed the denial of De Pedro’s motion for new trial.39 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The Court of Appeals noted De Pedro’s belated filing of her motion for new trial. The Court of
Appeals also noted De Pedro’s failure to allege any ground that would justify the grant of a
motion for new trial under Rule 37, Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. 40 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

De Pedro’s motion for reconsideration was denied in the Court of Appeals resolution dated
August 24, 2006.41 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

De Pedro elevated the case to this court, but this was likewise denied in the resolution dated
October 4, 2006 for failure to pay the Special Allowance for the Judiciary and sheriff’s fees.42 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

On October 11, 2006, De Pedro filed before the Court of Appeals a petition for annulment of the
January 7, 2000 judgment of the Regional Trial Court43 on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, litis
pendentia, and for having been dispossessed of her property without due process.

Citing Pantaleon v. Asuncion,44 De Pedro pointed out that “[d]ue process of law requires
personal service to support a personal judgment, and, when the proceeding is strictly in
personam brought to determine the personal rights and obligations of the parties, personal
service within the state or a voluntary appearance in the case is essential to the acquisition of
jurisdiction [so] as to constitute compliance with the constitutional requirement of due
process.”45 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

De Pedro also claimed to be the real owner of the property by virtue of OCT No. P-691.46 She
pointed out that the same Regional Trial Court branch ordered the reconstitution of her title to
the property in 1997.47 The Regional Trial Court also issued a certificate of finality stating that
“an Entry of Judgment had already been issued by the Court of Appeals dated January 16,
2006.”48chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

On July 7, 2010, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision denying De Pedro’s petition for
annulment of judgment.49 The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals decision reads: chanroblesv irtuallawlibrary

WHEREFORE, this petition is hereby DENIED.50

The Court of Appeals ruled that since petitioner already availed herself of the remedy of new
trial, and raised the case before the Court of Appeals via petition for certiorari, she can no longer
file a petition for annulment of judgment.51 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

De Pedro’s motion for reconsideration was denied on December 3, 2010:52 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the motion for reconsideration is DENIED for lack of
merit.53

On January 13, 2011, De Pedro filed before this court a Rule 45 petition, seeking the reversal of
the July 7, 2010 Court of Appeals decision and the December 3, 2010 Court of Appeals
resolution.54 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The issues in this case are:

I. Whether the trial court decision was void for failure of the trial court to acquire
jurisdiction over the person of petitioner Aurora N. De Pedro; and

II. Whether filing a motion for new trial and petition for certiorari is a bar from filing a
petition for annulment of judgment.

Petitioner argues that respondent’s prayer for attorney’s fees, appearance fees, exemplary
damages, and costs of suit sought to establish personal obligations upon petitioner in favor of
respondent.55 Hence, the case filed by respondent before the Regional Trial Court was an action
in personam, which required personal service upon her for the court’s acquisition of jurisdiction
over her person.56 In this case, the Regional Trial Court allowed service of summons by
publication instead of ordering that summons be served by substituted service.57 Improper
service of summons rendered the trial court decision null and void.58 It means that the court
could not acquire jurisdiction over the person of petitioner.59 chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary

Petitioner also argues that respondent’s complaints were dismissible on the ground of litis
pendentia, pointing to the alleged pending case between the same parties and involving same
subject matter at the time when respondent filed its complaint before the Regional Trial Court in
1998.60 The alleged pending case was filed in 1997 by petitioner and her spouse against
respondent, seeking “enforce[ment] of their rights as owners, and claim[ing] damages for the
unlawful and illegal acts of dispossession, terrorism and violence which they, their family and
their close relatives were subjected to by [respondent].”61 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
On her ownership of the property, petitioner argues that she was able to obtain OCT No. P-691
in 1991 in strict and faithful compliance with all the requirements.62 When the Register of Deeds
lost the records pertaining to the property, the Regional Trial Court ordered the reconstitution of
the title on September 23, 1997.63 The same trial court issued the certificate of finality of the
order on March 16, 2006.64 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Moreover, petitioner refers to a counter-affidavit issued by a certain Jesus Pampellona, Deputy


Public Land Inspector of CENRO-Antipolo, in the preliminary investigation of a case before the
Department of Justice, docketed as I.S. No. 99-503 and entitled: “Rodrigo Sy v. Maximo
Pentino, et al.” Petitioner highlights Pampellona’s statements that the free patent applicants for
the property were found to be in “actual, public, adverse and continuous possession on the
specific lots applied for by them with several improvements like the house of Mrs. Aurora de
Pedro and several fruit[-]bearing trees with an average age of 20-25 years scattered within the
twelve (12) hectares area applied for by the above named applicants;”65 Based on the affidavit,
Pampellona was “unaware, at the time, of any previous title issued in favor of any person or
entity covering the subject lots above mentioned as there was at that time, no existing record,
both in the CENRO, Antipolo, Rizal, or at the Land Management Bureau in Manila, attesting to
the issuance of previous titles on the subject lots.”66 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Lastly, petitioner argues that the trial court decision was null and void, considering that
petitioner’s title was cancelled in contravention of Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529,
which prohibits collateral attack upon certificates of title.67 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

In its comment, respondent argues that the process server tried other forms of substituted service,
including service by registered mail.68 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Respondent also argues that petitioner was in evident malice and bad faith when she allegedly
did not disclose in her petition other actions taken by her after the Regional Trial Court had
denied her motion for new trial.69 Particularly, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari before the
Court of Appeals, pertaining to the trial court’s denial of the motion for new trial.70 When the
petition for certiorari was denied, petitioner also filed a petition for review before this court,
which was also denied.71 For these reasons, petitioner’s petition for review before this court
deserves outright dismissal.72chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The sheriff’s return must show the details of the efforts exerted to personally serve
summons upon defendants or respondents, before substituted service or service by
publication is availed

Courts may exercise their powers validly and with binding effect if they acquire jurisdiction
over: (a) the cause of action or the subject matter of the case; (b) the thing or the res; (c) the
parties; and (d) the remedy.

Jurisdiction over the subject matter refers to the power or authority of courts to hear and decide
cases of a general class.73 It is conferred by the Constitution or by law.74 It is not acquired
through administrative issuances or court orders. It is not acquired by agreement, stipulation,
waiver,75 or silence.76 Any decision by a court, without a law vesting jurisdiction upon such
court, is void.

Jurisdiction over the thing or res is the power of the court over an object or thing being litigated.
The court may acquire jurisdiction over the thing by actually or constructively seizing or placing
it under the court’s custody.77 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Jurisdiction over the parties refers to the power of the court to make decisions that are binding on
persons. The courts acquire jurisdiction over complainants or petitioners as soon as they file
their complaints or petitions. Over the persons of defendants or respondents, courts acquire
jurisdiction by a valid service of summons or through their voluntary submission.78 Generally, a
person voluntarily submits to the court’s jurisdiction when he or she participates in the trial
despite improper service of summons.
Courts79 and litigants must be aware of the limits and the requirements for the acquisition of
court jurisdiction. Decisions or orders issued by courts outside their jurisdiction are void.
Complaints or petitions filed before the wrong court or without acquiring jurisdiction over the
parties may be dismissed.80 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Petitioner argued that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over her person because she was
not properly served with summons. After the summons had returned unserved to petitioner
because “there [was] no person in the said given address,”81 the trial court allowed the
publication of the summons to petitioner.

Jurisdiction over the parties is required regardless of the type of action — whether the action is
in personam, in rem, or quasi in rem.

In actions in personam, the judgment is for or against a person directly.82 Jurisdiction over the
parties is required in actions in personam because they seek to impose personal responsibility or
liability upon a person.83 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Courts need not acquire jurisdiction over parties on this basis in in rem and quasi in rem actions.
Actions in rem or quasi in rem are not directed against the person based on his or her personal
liability.84
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Actions in rem are actions against the thing itself. They are binding upon the whole world.85
Quasi in rem actions are actions involving the status of a property over which a party has
interest.86 Quasi in rem actions are not binding upon the whole world. They affect only the
interests of the particular parties.87 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

However, to satisfy the requirements of due process, jurisdiction over the parties in in rem and
quasi in rem actions is required.

The phrase, “against the thing,” to describe in rem actions is a metaphor. It is not the “thing”
that is the party to an in rem action; only legal or natural persons may be parties even in in rem
actions. “Against the thing” means that resolution of the case affects interests of others whether
direct or indirect. It also assumes that the interests — in the form of rights or duties — attach to
the thing which is the subject matter of litigation. In actions in rem, our procedure assumes an
active vinculum over those with interests to the thing subject of litigation.

Due process requires that those with interest to the thing in litigation be notified and given an
opportunity to defend those interests. Courts, as guardians of constitutional rights, cannot be
expected to deny persons their due process rights while at the same time be considered as acting
within their jurisdiction.

Violation of due process rights is a jurisdictional defect. This court recognized this principle in
Aducayen v. Flores.88 In the same case, this court further ruled that this jurisdictional defect is
remedied by a petition for certiorari.89 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Similarly in Vda. de Cuaycong v. Vda. de Sengbengco,90 this court held that a decision that was
issued in violation of a person’s due process rights suffers a fatal infirmity.91 chanRoblesvir tualLawlibrary

The relation of due process to jurisdiction is recognized even in administrative cases wherein the
standard of evidence is relatively lower. Thus, in Montoya v. Varilla:92 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic constitutional rights, courts are
ousted from their jurisdiction. The violation of a party’s right to due process raises a serious
jurisdictional issue which cannot be glossed over or disregarded at will. Where the denial of the
fundamental right of due process is apparent, a decision rendered in disregard of that right is void
for lack of jurisdiction.93

An action for annulment of certificate of title is quasi in rem. It is not an action “against a
person on the basis of his personal liability,”94 but an action that subjects a person’s interest over
a property to a burden. The action for annulment of a certificate of title threatens petitioner’s
interest in the property. Petitioner is entitled to due process with respect to that interest. The
court does not have competence or authority to proceed with an action for annulment of
certificate of title without giving the person, in whose name the certificate was issued all the
opportunities to be heard.

Hence, regardless of the nature of the action, proper service of summons is imperative. A
decision rendered without proper service of summons suffers a defect in jurisdiction.
Respondent’s institution of a proceeding for annulment of petitioner’s certificate of title is
sufficient to vest the court with jurisdiction over the res, but it is not sufficient for the court to
proceed with the case with authority and competence.

Personal service of summons is the preferred mode of service of summons.95 Thus, as a rule,
summons must be served personally upon the defendant or respondent wherever he or she may
be found. If the defendant or respondent refuses to receive the summons, it shall be tendered to
him or her.96 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

If the defendant or respondent is a domestic juridical person, personal service of summons shall
be effected upon its president, managing partner, general manager, corporate secretary, treasurer,
or in-house counsel wherever he or she may be found.97 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Other modes of serving summons may be done when justified. Service of summons through
other modes will not be effective without showing serious attempts to serve summons through
personal service. Thus, the rules allow summons to be served by substituted service only for
justifiable causes and if the defendant or respondent cannot be served within reasonable time. 98
Substituted service is effected “(a) by leaving copies of the summons at the defendant’s
residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or (b) by leaving
the copies at defendant’s office or regular place of business with some competent person in
charge thereof.”99 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Service of summons by publication in a newspaper of general circulation is allowed when the


defendant or respondent is designated as an unknown owner or if his or her whereabouts are
“unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent inquiry.”100 It may only be effected after
unsuccessful attempts to serve the summons personally, and after diligent inquiry as to the
defendant’s or respondent’s whereabouts.

Service of summons by extraterritorial service is allowed after leave of court when the defendant
or respondent does not reside or is not found in the country or is temporarily out of the
country.101 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

If a defendant or respondent voluntarily appears in trial or participates in the proceedings, it is


generally construed as sufficient service of summons.102 chanRoblesvirtualLaw library

In this case, summons was served by publication.

A look into the content of the sheriff’s return will determine if the circumstances warranted the
deviation from the rule preferring personal service of summons over other modes of service. The
sheriff’s return must contain a narration of the circumstances showing efforts to personally serve
summons to the defendants or respondents and the impossibility of personal service of
summons. Citing Hamilton v. Levy,103 this court said of substituted service in Domagas v.
Jensen:104chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The pertinent facts and circumstances attendant to the service of summons must be stated in the
proof of service or Officer’s Return; otherwise, any substituted service made in lieu of personal
service cannot be upheld. This is necessary because substituted service is in derogation of the
usual method of service. It is a method extraordinary in character and hence may be used only as
prescribed and in the circumstances authorized by statute. Here, no such explanation was made.
Failure to faithfully, strictly, and fully comply with the requirements of substituted service
renders said service ineffective.105

This court also said in Manotoc v. Court of Appeals: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The date and time of the attempts on personal service, the inquiries made to locate the defendant,
the name/s of the occupants of the alleged residence or house of defendant and all other acts
done, though futile, to serve the summons on defendant must be specified in the Return to justify
substituted service. The form on Sheriff’s Return of Summons on Substituted Service prescribed
in the Handbook for Sheriffs published by the Philippine Judicial Academy requires a narration
of the efforts made to find the defendant personally and the fact of failure.

. . . .

However, in view of the numerous claims of irregularities in substituted service which have
spawned the filing of a great number of unnecessary special civil actions of certiorari and
appeals to higher courts, resulting in prolonged litigation and wasteful legal expenses, the Court
rules in the case at bar that the narration of the efforts made to find the defendant and the fact of
failure written in broad and imprecise words will not suffice. The facts and circumstances should
be stated with more particularity and detail on the number of attempts made at personal service,
dates and times of the attempts, inquiries to locate defendant, names of occupants of the alleged
residence, and the reasons for failure should be included in the Return to satisfactorily show the
efforts undertaken. That such efforts were made to personally serve summons on defendant, and
those resulted in failure, would prove impossibility of prompt personal service.

Moreover, to allow sheriffs to describe the facts and circumstances in inexact terms would
encourage routine performance of their precise duties relating to substituted service—for it
would be quite easy to shroud or conceal carelessness or laxity in such broad terms.106

A sheriff’s return enjoys the presumption of regularity in its issuance if it contains (1) the details
of the circumstances surrounding the sheriff’s attempt to serve the summons personally upon the
defendants or respondents; and (2) the particulars showing the impossibility of serving the
summons within reasonable time.107 It does not enjoy the presumption of regularity if the return
was merely pro forma.

Failure to state the facts and circumstances that rendered service of summons impossible renders
service of summons and the return ineffective. In that case, no substituted service or service by
publication can be valid.

This court in Manotoc explained that the presumption of regularity in the issuance of the
sheriff’s return does not apply to patently defective returns. Thus: chanroblesvir tuallawlibrary

The court a quo heavily relied on the presumption of regularity in the performance of official
duty. It reasons out that “[t]he certificate of service by the proper officer is prima facie evidence
of the facts set out herein, and to overcome the presumption arising from said certificate, the
evidence must be clear and convincing.”

The Court acknowledges that this ruling is still a valid doctrine. However, for the presumption to
apply, the Sheriff’s Return must show that serious efforts or attempts were exerted to personally
serve the summons and that said efforts failed. These facts must be specifically narrated in the
Return. To reiterate, it must clearly show that the substituted service must be made on a person
of suitable age and discretion living in the dwelling or residence of defendant. Otherwise, the
Return is flawed and the presumption cannot be availed of. As previously explained, the Return
of Sheriff Cañelas did not comply with the stringent requirements of Rule 14, Section 8 on
substituted service. (Emphasis supplied)

In the case of Venturanza v. Court of Appeals, it was held that “x x x the presumption of
regularity in the performance of official functions by the sheriff is not applicable in this case
where it is patent that the sheriff’s return is defective.” (Emphasis supplied) While the Sheriff’s
Return in the Venturanza case had no statement on the effort or attempt to personally serve the
summons, the Return of Sheriff Cañelas in the case at bar merely described the efforts or
attempts in general terms lacking in details as required by the ruling in the case of Domagas v.
Jensen and other cases. It is as if Cañelas’ Return did not mention any effort to accomplish
personal service. Thus, the substituted service is void.108

In this case, the sheriff’s return states:

OFFICER’S RETURN
I HEREBY CERTIFY that on the 15th and 18th day of February, 1999, I have served a copy of
the summons with complaint and annexes dated January 29, 1999 issued by Regional Trial
Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 74, Antipolo City upon defendants in the above-entitled
case on the following, to wit;

1. AURORA N. DE PEDRO – Unserved for the reason that according to the messenger of Post
Office of Pasig their [sic] is no person in the said given address.109

This return shows no detail of the sheriff’s efforts to serve the summons personally upon
petitioner. The summons was unserved only because the post office messenger stated that there
was no “Aurora N. De Pedro” in the service address. The return did not show that the sheriff
attempted to locate petitioner’s whereabouts. Moreover, it cannot be concluded based on the
return that personal service was rendered impossible under the circumstances or that service
could no longer be made within reasonable time.

The lack of any demonstration of effort on the part of the sheriff to serve the summons
personally upon petitioner is a deviation from this court’s previous rulings that personal service
is the preferred mode of service, and that the sheriff must narrate in his or her return the efforts
made to effect personal service. Thus, the sheriff’s return in this case was defective. No
substituted service or service by publication will be allowed based on such defective return.

The issuance of a judgment without proper service of summons is a violation of due process
rights. The judgment, therefore, suffers a jurisdictional defect. The case would have been
dismissible had petitioner learned about the case while trial was pending. At that time, a motion
to dismiss would have been proper. After the trial, the case would have been the proper subject
of an action for annulment of judgment.

Petitioner learned about the action for annulment of title only after trial. Instead of filing an
action for annulment of judgment, however, she filed a motion for new trial without alleging any
proper ground. Rule 37 of the Rules of Court provides that a party may move and the court may
grant a new trial based on the following causes: chanroblesvir tuallawlibrary

(a) Fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence which ordinary prudence could not have
guarded against and by reason of which such aggrieved party has probably been impaired in his
rights; or

(b) Newly discovered evidence, which he could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered
and produced at the trial, and which if presented would probably alter the result.110

Petitioner insisted in her motion for new trial that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over
her person. She did not allege that fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence impaired
her rights. Neither did she allege that she found newly discovered evidence that could have
altered the trial court decision. When her motion for new trial was denied, she filed a petition for
certiorari, insisting that her motion for new trial should have been granted on the ground of lack
of jurisdiction over her person. The Court of Appeals denied the petition for her failure to allege
any ground for new trial. We cannot attribute error on the part of the Court of Appeals for this
denial because, indeed, lack of jurisdiction is not a ground for granting a new trial.

What cannot be denied is the fact that petitioner was already notified of respondent’s action for
annulment of petitioner’s title when she filed a motion for new trial and, later, a petition for
certiorari. At that time, petitioner was deemed, for purposes of due process, to have been
properly notified of the action involving her title to the property. Lack of jurisdiction could have
already been raised in an action for annulment of judgment.

Thus, when petitioner erroneously filed her motion for new trial and petition for certiorari
instead of an action for annulment of judgment, she was deemed to have voluntarily participated
in the proceedings against her title. The actions and remedies she chose to avail bound her.
Petitioner’s failure to file an action for annulment of judgment at this time was fatal to her
cause. We cannot conclude now that she was denied due process. cralawred

II
Petitioner is already barred from
filing a petition for annulment of
judgment

A petition for annulment of judgment is a recourse that is equitable in character.111 It is


independent of the case112 and is “allowed only in exceptional cases as where there is no
available or other adequate remedy.”113 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

An action for annulment of judgment may be filed to assail Regional Trial Court judgments
when resort to other remedies can no longer be had through no fault of petitioner. Section 1 of
Rule 47 of the Rules of Civil Procedure provides: chanroblesv irtuallawlibrary

Section 1. Coverage. – This Rule shall govern the annulment by the Court of Appeals of
judgments or final orders and resolutions in civil actions of Regional Trial Courts for which the
ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no
longer available through no fault of the petitioner.

An action for annulment of judgment may be based on only two grounds: 1) extrinsic fraud; and
2) lack of jurisdiction. Section 2 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court states: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Section 2. Grounds for Annulment. – The annulment may be based only on the grounds of
extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction.

Extrinsic fraud shall not be a valid ground if it was availed of, or could have been availed of, in a
motion for new trial or petition for relief.

Lack of jurisdiction being a valid ground for annulment of judgments, circumstances that negate
the court’s acquisition of jurisdiction — including defective service of summons — are causes
for an action for annulment of judgments.114 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

However, this court had an occasion to say that an action for annulment of judgment “may not be
invoked (1) where the party has availed himself of the remedy of new trial, appeal, petition for
relief, or other appropriate remedy and lost; or (2) where he has failed to avail himself of those
remedies through his own fault or negligence.”115 Thus, an action for annulment of judgment is
not always readily available even if there are causes for annulling a judgment.

In this case, petitioner’s main grounds for filing the action for annulment are lack of jurisdiction
over her person, and litis pendentia. These are the same grounds that were raised in the motion
for new trial filed before and denied by the Regional Trial Court.

Applying the above rules, we rule that the Court of Appeals did not err in denying petitioner’s
petition for annulment of the Regional Trial Court’s judgment. Petitioner had already filed a
motion for new trial and petition for certiorari invoking lack of jurisdiction as ground.

Petitioner’s filing of the petition for annulment of judgment after she had filed a motion for new
trial and lost, with both actions raising the same grounds, reveals an intent to secure a judgment
in her favor by abusing and making a mockery of the legal remedies provided by law.

This kind of abuse is what this court tries to guard against when it limited its application, and
stated in some of the cases that an action for annulment of judgment cannot be invoked when
other remedies had already been availed.

As this court explained in Macalalag v. Ombudsman:116 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Rule 47, entitled “Annulment of Judgments or Final Orders and Resolutions,” is a new provision
under the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure albeit the remedy has long been given imprimatur by
the courts. The rule covers “annulment by the Court of Appeals of judgments or final orders and
resolutions in civil actions of Regional Trial Courts for which the ordinary remedies of new trial,
appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies could no longer be availed of through no
fault of the petitioner.” An action for annulment of judgment is a remedy in law independent of
the case where the judgment sought to be annulled is rendered. The concern that the remedy
could so easily be resorted to as an instrument to delay a final and executory judgment, has
prompted safeguards to be put in place in order to avoid an abuse of the rule. Thus, the
annulment of judgment may be based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of
jurisdiction, and the remedy may not be invoked (1) where the party has availed himself of the
remedy of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedy and lost therefrom,
or (2) where he has failed to avail himself of those remedies through his own fault or
negligence.117 (Emphasis supplied)

Similarly, this court ruled in Sigma Homebuilding Corporation v. Inter-Alia Management


Corporation, et al.:118 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

A petition for annulment of judgment is an extraordinary remedy and is not to be granted


indiscriminately by the Court. It is allowed only in exceptional cases and cannot be used by a
losing party to make a mockery of a duly promulgated decision long final and executory. The
remedy may not be invoked where the party has availed himself of the remedy of new trial,
appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedy and lost, or where he has failed to avail
himself of those remedies through his own fault or negligence.

Litigation must end sometime. It is essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice
that, once a judgment becomes final, the winning party should not be deprived of the fruits of the
verdict. Courts must therefore guard against any scheme calculated to bring about that
undesirable result. Thus, we deem it fit to finally put an end to the present controversy.119
(Emphasis supplied)

Thus, an action for annulment of judgment “will not so easily and readily lend itself to abuse by
parties aggrieved by final judgments.”120 Petitioner cannot abuse the court’s processes to revive
a case that has already been rendered final against her favor, for the purpose of securing a
favorable judgment. An action for annulment of judgment cannot be used by petitioner who has
lost her case through fault of her own, to make “a complete farce of a duly promulgated decision
that has long become final and executory.”121 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

III

Filing an action for annulment of


title is not a violation of Section
48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529

Petitioner insists that the annulment of her title was a violation of Section 48 of Presidential
Decree No. 1529, which provides: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Sec. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. – A certificate of title shall not be subject to
collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in
accordance with law.

Petitioner is mistaken. In Sarmiento, et al. v. Court of Appeals,122 this court said: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

An action is deemed an attack on a title when the object of the action or proceeding is to nullify
the title, and thus challenge the judgment pursuant to which the title was decreed. The attack is
direct when the object of the action is to annul or set aside such judgment, or enjoin its
enforcement. On the other hand, the attack is indirect or collateral when, in an action to obtain a
different relief, an attack on the judgment is nevertheless made as an incident thereof.123

An action for annulment of certificate of title is a direct attack on the title because it challenges
the judgment decree of title.

In Goco v. Court of Appeals,124 this court said that “[a]n action for annulment of certificates of
title to property [goes] into the issue of ownership of the land covered by a Torrens title and the
relief generally prayed for by the plaintiff is to be declared as the land’s true owner.”125 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Hence, there was no violation of Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 when petitioner’s
title was declared null and void by the Regional Trial Court.

Petitioner, however, points to the following statement made by this court in another case
involving these same parties:126 chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
The resolution of the issue will not involve the alteration, correction or modification either of
OCT No. P-691 under the name of petitioner Aurora de Pedro, or TCT No. 236044 under the
name of respondent corporation. If the subject property is found to be a portion of the property
covered by OCT No. P-691 but is included in the technical description of the property covered
by TCT No. 236044, the latter would have to be corrected. On the other hand, if the subject
property is found to be a portion of the property covered by TCT No. 236044, but is included in
the property covered by OCT NO. P-691, then the latter title must be rectified. However, the
rectification of either title may be made only via an action filed for the said purpose,
comformably with Section 48 of Act No. 496

....

A. The action of the petitioners against respondents, based on the material allegations of the
complaint, if one for recovery of possession of the subject property and damages.
However, such action is not a direct but a collateral attack of TCT No. 236044. Neither
did the respondents directly attack OCT No. P-691 in their answer to the complaint.
Although the respondents averred in said answer, by way of special and affirmative
defenses, that the subject property is covered by TCT No. 236044 issued in the name of
the respondent corporation, and as such the said respondent is entitled to the possession
thereof to the exclusion of the petitioners, such allegations does not constitute a direct
attack on OCT No. P-691, but is likewise a collateral attack thereon...127

Petitioner misreads the import of what we said in that case. That case involves petitioner’s
action for recovery of possession and damages against respondents. It also involved
respondent’s allegations that the property was covered by a certificate of title in its name and,
therefore, its entitlement to the possession of the property. It does not involve an action for
annulment of title.

When this court said that “such action is not a direct but a collateral attack of TCT No. 236044”
or that “such allegations does [sic] not constitute a direct attack on OCT No. P-691, but is
likewise a collateral attack thereon,” we were referring to both parties’ action for and allegations
of possessory rights over the property. This court was not referring to an action for annulment of
title, which is the case involved here. To reiterate, an action for annulment constitutes a direct
attack on a certificate of title.

IV

The requisites of litis pendentia are


not satisfied when respondent filed
its action for annulment of title

Petitioner argued that the case for annulment of title was dismissible on the ground of litis
pendentia because there was a pending civil case filed by her against respondent.

The requisites of litis pendentia are: “(a) identity of parties, or interests in both actions; (b)
identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and
(c) the identity of the two preceding particulars is such that any judgment rendered in the other
action, will, regardless of which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the action under
consideration.128chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Although both cases involve the same parcel of land, petitioner was not able to show that there
was identity of the relief prayed for. A review of the complaint in the said civil case shows that
it was a case for damages, for alleged improper conduct of respondent relating the property. The
action filed by respondent was an action for annulment of petitioner’s title.

Petitioner was also not able to show that the relief prayed for in both cases were founded on the
same facts. Petitioner’s complaint for damages was founded on the alleged misconduct of
respondent. Respondent’s action for annulment of title was founded on the alleged irregularity
in the issuance of petitioner’s title.
Hence, the petitioner was not able to show that all the requisites for litis pendentia are present.
Respondent’s action for annulment of title cannot be dismissed on this ground.

A certificate of title does not vest ownership

Petitioner argues that her certificate of title was erroneously declared null and void because
based on OCT No. P-691, she is the real owner of the property.

It is true that certificates of title are indefeasible and binding upon the whole world. However,
certificates of title do not vest ownership.129 They merely evidence title or ownership of the
property.130 Courts may, therefore, cancel or declare a certificate of title null and void when it
finds that it was issued irregularly.

In this case, the trial court ruled based on the committee report that the free patents and original
certificate of title issued to petitioner were irregularly issued, and, therefore, invalid.

The principle of “bar by prior judgment” is embodied in Rule 39, Section 47(b) of the Rules of
Court:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Section 47. Effect of judgments or final orders. — The effect of a judgment or final order
rendered by a court of the Philippines, having jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or final
order, may be as follows:

. . . .

(b) In other cases, the judgment or final order is, with respect to the matter directly adjudged or
as to any other matter that could have been missed in relation thereto, conclusive between the
parties and their successors in interest, by title subsequent to the commencement of the action or
special proceeding, litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same
capacity[.] (Emphasis supplied)

In this case, the trial court, by annulling petitioner’s certificate of title and declaring its issuance
irregular, directly adjudged petitioner’s certificate of title as void. Because petitioner failed to
appeal and cause the annulment of the trial court’s judgment as to her title’s validity, this
question is already barred. This judgment has already attained finality and can no longer be
litigated.

This court explained in FGU Insurance Corporation v. Regional Trial Court131 the doctrine of
finality of judgment, thus: chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Under the doctrine of finality of judgment or immutability of judgment, a decision that has
acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any
respect, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law, and
whether it be made by the court that rendered it or by the Highest Court of the land. Any act
which violates this principle must immediately be struck down.132

In any case, even if petitioner’s original certificate of title was not irregularly issued as she
claims, her original certificate of title was issued later than the title from which respondent’s title
originated. As a rule, original titles issued earlier prevail over another original title issued
later.133 Therefore, petitioner’s later-issued title cannot prevail over respondent’s title, which
was derived from an earlier issued original certificate of title.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals July 7, 2010 decision in CA
G.R. SP. No. 96471 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED. cralawlawlibrary

Carpio, (Chairperson), Del Castillo, Mendoza, and Reyes,* JJ., concur.


Endnotes:

*
Designated Acting Member per Special Order No. 1881 dated November 25, 2014.
1
Rollo, pp. 14, 49, 73, 97. The following are the defendants in the complaints filed by Romasan
Development Corporation before the trial court: Civil Case No. 98-4936, Nora Jocson, married
to Carlito Jocson, et al.; Civil Case No. 98-4937, Heirs of Marcelino Santos, et al; Civil Case No.
98-4938, Aurora de Pedro married to Elpidio de Pedro, et al.; Civil Case No. 98-4939, Wilson
Dadia, et al.; Civil Case No. 98-4040, Prudencio Marana, et al.
2
Id.
3
Id.
4
Id. at 50 and 73.
5
Id.
6
Id. at 50 and 74.
7
Id.
8
Id. at 74
9
Id. at 51 and 74.
10
Id. at 74.
11
Id. at 74 and 155.
12
Id. at 74.
13
Id. at 51 and 74.
14
Id. at 74.
15
Id. at 14, 50-52, 74, and 97.
16
Id. at 14.
17
Id. at 52, 74-75.
18
Id. at 75.
19
Id. at 52 and 75.
20
Id. at 52 and 75.
21
Id.
22
Id. at 14-15, 52, and 75.
23
Id. at 15, 52, 78, and 98.
24
Id. at 78.
25
Id. at 77.
26
Id.
27
Id.
28
Id.
29
Id.
30
Id. at 15 and 79–85. See also p. 98. Based on petitioner’s petition for annulment of judgment,
“[m]embers of petitioner’s family received notice of this DECISION only on 16 March 2000.”
Page 18 of the petition for review also mentioned that petitioner’s family received the Court of
Appeals decision on March 16, 2000. On the same day, they allegedly contacted their counsel.
31
Id. at 79.
32
Id. at 15 and 83; 86-90.
33
Id. at 15, 54-55, and 91-92.
34
Id. at 91.
35
Id. at 54 and 91.
36
Id. at 54–55 and 91
37
Id. at 92.
38
Id. at 55.
39
Id.
40
Id. at 56.
41
Id. at 57.
42
Id.
43
Id. at 16 and 93-116.
44
105 Phil. 761, 766 [Per J. Concepcion, En Banc].
45
Rollo, p. 94.
46
Id. at 109.
47
Id.
48
Id. at 109 and 158.
49
Id. at 16 and 49–62. The Court of Appeals’ decision, docketed as CA-G.R. SP. No. 96471, was
penned by Presiding Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr., with Associate Justices Ramon M. Bato, Jr.,
and Mario V. Lopez concurring.
50
Id. at 61.
51
Id. at 60.
52
Id. at 16 and 63–65.
53
Id. at 65.
54
Id. at 12.
55
Id. at 19.
56
Id.
57
Id. at 20.
58
Id.
59
Id. at 25.
60
Id. at 28-29.
61
Id. at 29-30.
62
Id. at 31.
63
Id. at 32.
64
Id. at 32.
65
Id.
66
Id. at 34.
67
Id. at 39.
68
Id. at 181. This statement is footnoted, thus: “According to the Officer’s Return dated 22
February 1999, the messenger (sic) of Pasig City Post Office reported that there is no person in
the residential address of petitioner De Pedro which readily shows that personal service
including other forms of substituted service by leaving copies of the summons at the defendant’s
residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein as stated under
the Rules even service by registered mail cannot be possibly done under the circumstances thus
the resort to publication since it became apparent at that time that petitioner De Pedro’s
whereabouts was unknown.”
69
Id. at 180.
70
Id. at 183.
71
Id. at 184.
72
Id. at 185.
73
Heirs of Concha v. Lumocso, 564 Phil. 580, 592–593 (2007) [Per C.J. Puno, First Division].
74
Id. at 593.
75
Id.
76
Peralta-Labrador v. Bugarin, 505 Phil. 409, 415 (2005) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First
Division].
77
Biaco v. Philippine Countryside Rural Bank, 544 Phil. 45, 55 (2007) [Per J. Tinga, Second
Division]. See also Regner v. Logarta, 562 Phil. 862 (2007) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, Third
Division].
78
Manotoc v. Court of Appeals, 530 Phil. 454, 467 (2006) [Per J. Velasco, Jr., Third Division].
79
See ACE Publication, Inc. v. Commissioner of Customs, et al., 120 Phil. 143 (1964) [Per J.
Paredes, En Banc].
80
Rules of Court, Rule 16, secs. 1(a) and 1(b)
81
Rollo, p. 70.
82
Domagas v. Jensen, 489 Phil. 631, 641 (2005) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., Second Division].
83
See Domagas v. Jensen, 489 Phil. 631 (2005) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., Second Division].
84
Biaco v. Philippine Countryside Rural Bank, 544 Phil. 45, 55 (2007) [Per J. Tinga, Second
Division]. See also Regner v. Logarta, 562 Phil. 862 (2007) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, Third
Division].
85
See Muñoz v. Yabut, G.R. No. 142676, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 344 [Per J. Leonardo-De
Castro, First Division].
86
Domagas v. Jensen, 489 Phil. 631, 642 (2005) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., Second Division].
87
Id.
88
151-A Phil. 556 (1973) [Per J. Fernando, En Banc]. This case involves an action for sum of
money.
89
Id. at 560.
90
110 Phil. 113 (1960) [Per J. Concepcion, En Banc].
91
Id. at 118.
92
595 Phil. 507 (2008) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, En Banc].
93
Id. at 520–521.
94
Biaco v. Philippine Countryside Rural Bank, 544 Phil. 45, 55 (2007) [Per J. Tinga, Second
Division]. See also Regner v. Logarta, 562 Phil. 862 (2007) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, Third
Division].
95
Manotoc v. Court of Appeals, 530 Phil. 454, 467–468 (2006) [Per J. Velasco, Jr., Third
Division].
96
Rules of Court, Rule 14, sec. 6.
97
Rules of Court, Rule 14, sec. 11.
98
Rules of Court, Rule 14, sec. 7.
99
Rules of Court, Rule 14, sec. 7.
100
Rules of Court, Rule 14, sec. 14.
101
Rules of Court, Rule 14, secs. 15–16.
102
Rules of Court, Rule 14, sec. 20.
103
398 Phil. 781 (2000) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].
104
489 Phil. 631 (2005) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., Second Division].
105
Domagas v. Jensen, 489 Phil. 631, 646 (2005) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., Second Division], citing
Hamilton v. Levy, 398 Phil. 781, 791–792 (2000) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division].
106
Manotoc v. Court of Appeals, 530 Phil. 454, 473–474 (2006) [Per J. Velasco, Jr., Third
Division].
107
See Gomez v. Court of Appeals, 469 Phil. 38, 51–52 (2004) [Per J. Austria-Martinez, Second
Division].
108
Manotoc v. Court of Appeals, 530 Phil. 454, 476 (2006) [Per J. Velasco, Jr., Third Division].
109
Rollo, pp. 14, 50–52, 74, and 97.
110
Rules of Court, Rule 37, sec. 1.
111
Heirs of Maura So v. Obliosca, et al., 566 Phil. 397, 406 (2008) [Per J. Nachura, Third
Division; J. Ynares-Santiago (Chairperson), JJ. Austria-Martinez, Corona {in lieu of J. Chico-
Nazario per Special Order No. 484 dated January 11, 2008}, and Reyes concurring]; See also
City Government of Tagaytay v. Hon. Guerrero, et al., 616 Phil. 28, 46 (2009) [Per J. Nachura,
Third Division; J. Ynares-Santiago (Chairperson), JJ. Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr., and Peralta
concurring].
112
Macalalag v. Ombudsman, 468 Phil. 918, 923 (2004) [Per J. Vitug, Third Division; JJ.
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Carpio-Morales concurring], citing Canlas v. Court of Appeals,
247 Phil. 118 (1988) [Per J. Sarmiento, Second Division].
113
Heirs of Maura So v. Obliosca, et al., 566 Phil. 397, 406 (2008) [Per J. Nachura, Third
Division], citing Orbeta v. Sendiong, 501 Phil. 478, 489 (2005) [Per J. Tinga, Second Division].
114
Manotoc v. Court of Appeals, 530 Phil. 454 (2006) [Per J. Velasco, Jr., Third Division].
115
Heirs of Maura So v. Obliosca, et al., 566 Phil. 397, 406 (2008) [Per J. Nachura, Third
Division], citing Macalalag v. Ombudsman, 468 Phil. 918, 923 [Per J. Vitug, Third Division].
116
Macalalag v. Ombudsman, 468 Phil. 918 (2004) [Per J. Vitug, Third Division].

Id. at 922–923, cited in Republic v. “G” Holdings, Inc., 512 Phil. 253, 262–263 (2005) [Per J.
117

Corona, Third Division].


118
584 Phil. 233 (2008) [Per J. Corona, First Division].
119
Id. at 239–240.
120
Fraginal v. Heirs of Toribia, 545 Phil. 425, 432 (2007) [Per J. Austria-Martinez, Third
Division].
121
Republic v. “G” Holdings, Inc., 512 Phil. 253, 262 (2005) [Per J. Corona, Third Division].
122
507 Phil. 101 (2005) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, Second Division].
123
Id. at 113.
124
G.R. No. 157449, April 6, 2010, 617 SCRA 397 [Per J. Brion, Second Division].
125
Id. at 405, citing Heirs of Abadilla v. Galarosa, 527 Phil. 264 (2006) [Per J. Austria-Martinez,
First Division].
126
Spouses De Pedro v. Romasan Development Corporation and Manuel Ko, 492 Phil. 643
(2005) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., Second Division].
127
Rollo, pp. 39-40.
128
Guevara v. BPI Securities Corporation, 530 Phil. 342, 358–359 (2006) [Per J. Chico-Nazario,
First Division], citing Jaban v. City of Cebu, 467 Phil. 458, 471 (2004) [Per J. Callejo, Sr., En
Banc].
129
Carino v. Insular Government, 212 US 449, 457–460.
130
Id.
131
G.R. No. 161282, February 23, 2011, 644 SCRA 50 [Per J. Mendoza, Second Division].
132
Id. at 56.
133
Carpo v. Ayala Land, Inc., G.R. No. 166577, February 3, 2010, 611 SCRA 436, 458 [Per J.
Leonardo-De Castro, First Division; C.J. Puno (Chairperson), JJ. Carpio-Morales, Bersamin, and
Villarama, Jr., concurring].

Present-day Supreme Court

Pursuant to the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, the Supreme Court is composed of a chief
Justice and 14 associate justices who serve until the age of 70. The court may sit en banc or in
one of its three divisions composed of five members each. The chief justice and associate justices
are appointed by the President of the Philippines, chosen from a shortlist submitted by the
Judicial and Bar Council. The president must fill up a vacancy within 90 days of occurrence.

Article VIII, Section 4 (2) of the constitution explicitly provides for the cases that must be heard
en banc, and Section 4 (3) for cases that may be heard by divisions.

The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 transferred the administrative supervision of all courts
and their personnel from the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court. This was affirmed by
Article VIII, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution. To effectively discharge this constitutional
mandate, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) was created under Presidential Decree
No. 828, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 842 (and its functions further strengthened by a
resolution of the Supreme Court en banc dated October 24, 1996). Its principal function is the
supervision and administration of the lower courts throughout the Philippines and all their
personnel. It reports and recommends to the Supreme Court all actions that affect the lower court
management. The OCA is headed by the court administrator, three deputy court administrators,
and three assistant court administrators.

According to the 1987 Constitution, Article VIII, Section 5, the Supreme Court exercises the
following powers:

1. Exercise jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and
consuls, and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and
habeas corpus.
2. Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm, on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules
of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of the lower courts in:
 All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or
executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction,
ordinance, or regulation is in question;
 All cases involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment, or toll, or any
penalty imposed in relation thereto;
 All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue;
 All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher;
 All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved;
3. Assign temporarily judges of lower courts to other stations as public interest may
require. Such temporary assignments shall not exceed six months without the consent
of the judge concerned.
4. Order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice.

1. Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading,
practice, and procedure in all courts; the admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar;
and legal assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive
procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts the same grade,
and shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special
courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.
2. Appoint all officials and employees of the Judiciary in accordance with the Civil Service Law (Sec.
5 , id.).

The Supreme Court has adopted and promulgated the Rules of Court for the protection and
enforcement of constitutional rights, pleadings and practice and procedure in all courts, and the
admission in the practice of law. Amendments are promulgated through the Committee on
Revision of Rules. The Court also issues administrative rules and regulations in the form of
court issuances posted on the Supreme Court E-Library website. ↵

The Chief Justice

The incumbent

Ma. Lourdes P. A. Sereno


Tenure as Chief Justice: August 24, 2012 – present
Appointed by: Benigno S. Aquino III
Age at Appointment: 52

Read her biography from on website of the Supreme Court

Full roster of chief justices

The position of chief justice was created in 1901 by virtue of the establishment of the Philippine
Supreme Court. At the time, the chief justice was appointed by the President of the United
States: the court was composed mainly of American citizens with a Filipino chief justice.

The incumbent Chief Justice, Ma. Lourdes P.A.


Sereno, appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, took her oath of office on August 25, 2012. She is
the first woman to hold the position.

There were six chief justices appointed by the President of the United States. In 1935, upon the
inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the power to appoint the chief justice was
transferred to the President of the Philippines. According to the 1935 Constitution, the President
of the Philippines shall make appointments with concurrence of the National Assembly. There
have been six Chief Justices who were appointed under the 1935 Constitution. The only chief
justice that was not appointed by a president was Chief Justice Jose Yulo, who was in office
during the Japanese occupation, from 1942 until the liberation of the Philippines in 1945. During
this time, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was appointed by the Philippine Executive
Committee headed by Jorge B. Vargas.

The 1943 Constitution provided for the members of the Supreme Court and the chief justice to be
appointed by the president with the concurrence of his cabinet. Upon the declaration of martial
law and the subsequent establishment of the 1973 Constitution, the process of selection of the
Chief Justice of the Philippines was changed. The power of Congress to veto an appointment by
the president to the office of the chief justice was removed. According to the 1973 Constitution,
“The Members of the Supreme Court and judges of inferior courts shall be appointed by the
President.” There were five chief justices that were appointed under this provision.

After the revolution of 1986, a new constitution was enacted and a new process of selecting a
chief magistrate was created. Former chief justice and 1986 Constitutional Commission delegate
Roberto V. Concepcion introduced the concept of the Judicial and Bar Council. The aim of the
Council is to de-politicize the judiciary by lessening the appointing power of the president. To
read more about the appointment of chief justices, members of the judiciary, and the Office of
the Ombudsman, please click here.

To date, there have been nine chief justices appointed under the conditions of the 1986
Constitution.

Chief justices listed according to appointing President of the Philippines

Of the 15 Presidents of the Philippines, only eight have been able to appoint an individual to the
highest judicial post in the land. The following is the list of presidents who appointed chief
Jjstices and their appointees.

1. Manuel L. Quezon
o Jose Abad Santos
2. Sergio Osmeña
o Manuel V. Moran
3. Elpidio Quirino
o Ricardo M. Paras
4. Carlos P. Garcia
o Cesar Bengzon
5. Ferdinand E. Marcos
o Roberto V. Concepcion
o Querube Makalintal
o Fred Ruiz Castro
o Enrique M. Fernando
o Felix V. Makasiar
o Ramon C. Aquino
6. Corazon C. Aquino
o Claudio Teehankee
o Pedro L. Yap
o Marcelo B. Fernan
o Andres R. Narvasa
7. Joseph Ejercito Estrada
o Hilario G. Davide
8. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
o Artemio Panganiban
o Reynato Puno
o Renato C. Corona
9. Benigno S. Aquino III
o Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno

Notable chief justices

Of the list of chief justices, there are a few individuals that stand out for having gone above and
beyond their duty and tenure as chief justice.

1. Cayetano Arellano: Cayetano Arellano was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was
appointed in 1901 when the Supreme Court was created through Act No. 136, along with three
American justices and one Filipino justice.
2. Ramon Avanceña: Appointed in 1925 by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, he is known for
ushering in an all-Filipino Supreme Court in 1935. Upon the establishment of the Philippine
Commonwealth in 1935, American justices were no longer allowed to sit in the Philippine
Supreme Court—thus, new justices were appointed, all of whom were of Filipino citizenship.
3. Jose Abad Santos: As a wartime chief justice, Abad Santos took on two different roles; he was
the chief justice and concurrently the Secretary of Justice. When President Quezon left the
Philippines to evade capture by the Japanese, Abad Santos chose to stay in the country as a
caretaker of the government. On May 2, 1942, the Japanese military caught Abad Santos in
Cebu and invited him to become one of the members of their puppet government. Abad Santos
refused to collaborate. He died at the hands of the Japanese on May 2, 1942. His last words to
his son were, “Do not cry, Pepito, show to these people that you are brave. It is an honor to die
for one’s country. Not everybody has that chance.”
4. Manuel V. Moran: Appointed in 1945 by President Sergio Osmeña, Manuel V. Moran would
serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for six years. Upon his retirement in 1951, Moran
was appointed as Philippine Ambassador to Spain and concurrently to the Holy See. During
President Quirino’s administration, Moran was once again offered a position in the Supreme
Court in 1953, at the twilight of Quirino’s presidency. Moran, however, refused the midnight
appointment.
5. Roberto V. Concepcion: He went into early retirement for refusing to grant absolute power to
Ferdinand Marcos, the president who appointed him. In the resolution of Javellana v. Executive
Secretary, Concepcion argued against the validity of the 1973 Constitution and its questionable
aspects. Accordingly, he dissented, along with Justices Teehankee, Zaldivar, and Fernando, from
implementing the 1973 Constitution. Due to the court’s decision, Concepcion would enter early
retirement, 50 days before his originally scheduled retirement date.
6. Claudio Teehankee: Claudio Teehankee was known for his firm anti-martial law stance during
his tenure in the Supreme Court. Teehankee resisted multiple attempts by the Marcos
administration to garner absolute power by issuing questionable decrees. In 1973, he was part
of the bloc that dissented from the implementation of the 1973 Constitution. In 1980, he
dissented from the proposed judicial reorganization act of President Marcos. In 1986, after the
EDSA Revolution, he administered the Oath of Office of President Corazon C. Aquino in Club
Filipino. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Corazon C.
Aquino
7. Hilario G. Davide: Appointed by President Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 1998, Chief Justice Hilario
G. Davide was known as the presiding judge of the first impeachment proceedings in Asia.
During the impeachment of President Estrada, he conducted proceedings with impartiality.
Following EDSA II uprising, which deposed President Estrada, Davide swore in Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo as the 14th President of the Philippines.
8. Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno: Appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2012, Chief Justice
Sereno is the first woman appointed to the position.

Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals is the second highest tribunal in the country, which was established on
February 1, 1936 by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 3. The current form of the Court of
Appeals was constituted through Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by Executive Order No.
33, s. 1986, Republic Act No. 7902, and Republic Act No. 8246.
The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals are as follows:

1. Original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, and quo
warranto, and auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in aid of its appellate jurisdiction;
2. Exclusive original jurisdiction over actions for annulment of judgements of Regional Trial Courts;
and
3. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final judgements, resolutions, orders or awards of
Regional Trial Courts and quasi-judicial agencies, instrumentalities, boards or commission.

The Court of Appeals shall also have the power to try cases and conduct hearings, receive
evidence and perform acts necessary to resolve factual issues raised in cases falling within its
original and appellate jurisdiction, including the power to grant and conduct new trials or
proceedings.

The Court of Appeals is composed of one presiding justice and 68 associate justices, all of which
are appointed by the President from a shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council. The
associate justices shall have precedence according to the dates (or order, in case of similar
appointment dates) of their respective appointments. The qualifications for the justices of the
Supreme Court also apply to members of the Court of Appeals.

The current presiding justice of the Court of Appeals is Andres Reyes Jr., who is set to retire on
May 11, 2020.

Court of Tax Appeals

The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), which is of the same level as the Court of Appeals, was
created by virtue of Republic Act No. 1125, which was signed into law on June 16, 1954. Its
present-day form was constituted through RA 1125, as amended by Republic Act No. 9282 and
Republic Act No. 9503.

The CTA exercises jurisdiction in the following:

1. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal, as herein provided:


1. Decisions of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in cases involving disputed
assessments, refunds of internal revenue taxes, fees or other charges, penalties in
relation thereto, or other matters arising under the National Internal Revenue or other
laws administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue;
2. Inaction by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in cases involving disputed
assessments, refunds of internal revenue taxes, fees or other charges, penalties in
relations thereto, or other matters arising under the National Internal Revenue Code or
other laws administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, where the National Internal
Revenue Code provides a specific period of action, in which case the inaction shall be
deemed a denial;
3. Decisions, orders or resolutions of the Regional Trial Courts in local tax cases originally
decided or resolved by them in the exercise of their original or appellate jurisdiction;
4. Decisions of the Commissioner of Customs in cases involving liability for customs duties,
fees or other money charges, seizure, detention or release of property affected, fines,
forfeitures or other penalties in relation thereto, or other matters arising under the
Customs Law or other laws administered by the Bureau of Customs;
5. Decisions of the Central Board of Assessment Appeals in the exercise of its appellate
jurisdiction over cases involving the assessment and taxation of real property originally
decided by the provincial or city board of assessment appeals;
6. Decisions of the Secretary of Finance on customs cases elevated to him automatically
for review from decisions of the Commissioner of Customs which are adverse to the
Government under Section 2315 of the Tariff and Customs Code;
7. Decisions of the Secretary of Trade and Industry, in the case of non-agricultural product,
commodity or article, and the Secretary of Agriculture in the case of agricultural
product, commodity or article, involving dumping and countervailing duties under
Section 301 and 302, respectively, of the Tariff and Customs Code, and safeguard
measures under Republic Act No. 8800, where either party may appeal the decision to
impose or not to impose said duties.

2. Jurisdiction over cases involving criminal offenses as herein provided:


1. Exclusive original jurisdiction over all criminal offenses arising from violations of the
National Internal Revenue Code or Tariff and Customs Code and other laws
administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the Bureau of Customs: Provided,
however, that offenses or felonies mentioned in this paragraph where the principal
amount of taxes and fees, exclusive of charges and penalties, claimed is less than P1
million or where there is no specified amount claimed shall be tried by the regular
courts and the jurisdiction of the CTA shall be appellate.
2. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in criminal offenses:
1. Over appeals from the judgments, resolutions or orders of the Regional Trial
Courts in tax cases originally decided by them, in their respective territorial
jurisdiction.
2. Over petitions for review of the judgments, resolutions or orders of the Regional
Trial Courts in the exercise of their appellate jurisdiction over tax cases originally
decided by the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal
Circuit Trial Courts in their respective jurisdiction.
3. Jurisdiction over tax collection cases as herein provided:
1. Exclusive original jurisdiction in tax collection cases involving final and
executory assessments for taxes, fees, charges and penalties: Provided,
however, that collection cases where the principal amount of taxes and
fees, exclusive of charges and penalties, claimed is less than P1 million
shall be tried by the proper Municipal Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial
Court and Regional Trial Court.
2. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in tax collection cases:
1. Over appeals from the judgments, resolutions or orders of the
Regional Trial Courts in tax collection cases originally decided by
them, in their respective territorial jurisdiction.
2. Over petitions for review of the judgments, resolutions or
orders of the Regional Trial Courts in the Exercise of their
appellate jurisdiction over tax collection cases originally decided
by the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, in their respective jurisdiction.

The CTA is composed of one presiding justice and 8 associate justices, all of which are
appointed by the President from a shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council. The
associate justices shall have precedence according to the dates (or order, in case of similar
appointment dates) of their respective appointments. The qualifications for the justices of the
Court of Appeals also apply to members of the CTA.

The current presiding justice of the CTA is Roman del Rosario, who is set to retire on October 6,
2025.

Sandiganbayan

To attain the highest norms of official conduct among officials and employees in the
government, the creation of a special graft court to be known as the Sandiganbayan was provided
for in Article XIII, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution. This court was formally established
through Presidential Decree No. 1606, which was signed into law on December 10, 1978.

Through Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers), Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution, the
Sandiganbayan was carried over to the post-EDSA Revolution republic. The current form of the
Sandiganbayan was constituted through PD 1606, s. 1978, as amended by Republic Act No.
7975 and Republic Act No. 8245.

The Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the following:


1. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as amended, and
Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the
accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government whether in a
permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense:

2. Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher,
otherwise classified as grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act
of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including:

1. Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan


and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers and other provincial department
heads;
2. City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city
treasurers, assessors engineers and other city department heads;
3. Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher;
4. Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher
rank;
5. Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying the position of
provincial director and those holding the rank of senior superintendent or
higher;
6. City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and
prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor;
7. Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or -
controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or
foundations;
2. Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as grade 27 and up under the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;
3. Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the constitution;
4. Chairmen and members of constitutional commissions, without prejudice to the
provisions of the constitution; and
5. All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27 and higher under the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
2. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the
public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their
office.
3. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14
and 14-A, s. 1986.

In addition, the Sandiganbayan exercises exclusive appellate jurisdiction over final judgments,
resolutions or orders or regional trial courts whether in the exercise of their own original
jurisdiction or of their appellate jurisdiction as herein provided.

The Sandiganbayan also has exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions for the issuance of the
writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, injunctions, and other ancillary writs
and processes in aid of its appellate jurisdiction and over petitions of similar nature, including
quo warranto, arising or that may arise in cases filed or which may be filed under Executive
Order Nos. 1,2,14 and 14-A issued in 1986.

In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the
public officers or employees, including those employed in govemment-owned or controlled
corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees in the proper
courts which shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction over them.

The Sandiganbayan comprises of one presiding justice and 14 associate justices, all of which are
appointed by the President from a shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council. The
associate justices shall have precedence according to the dates (or order, in case of similar
appointment dates) of their respective appointments.

The qualifications to become a member of the Sandiganbayan are as follows:


1. a natural-born citizen of the Philippines;
2. at least 40 years of age
3. has been a judge of a court for at least ten years, or been engaged in the practice of law in the
Philippines or has held office requiring admission to the bar as a prerequisite for at least ten years.

The current presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan is Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who is set to retire
on November 8, 2024.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-48480 July 30, 1943

FABIAN B. S. ABELLERA, petitioner,

- versus -

MEYNARDO M. FAROL, ET AL., respondents.

Fabian B.S. Abellera in his own behalf.


Pedro C. Quinto and Agaton R. Yaranon for respondents.

BOCOBO, J.:

Whether in a cadastral case, the judge may upon motion of adverse claimants order
the cancellation of the claimant's answer and keep the latter from introducing
evidence to prove his ownership because the case is barred by a prior judgment, is
the legal question at issue in this case. An order to that effect issued by the Court
of First Instance of La Union, is impugned by Fabian B.S. Abellera in a petition for
a writ of certiorari.

Abellera, in a previous case concerning the same real estate involved herein, sued
Hermegildo Balanag and others who are either the same parties in this case or the
latter's predecessors in interest, alleging ownership of the land. But his complaint
was dismissed by the Court of First Instance on two grounds: (1) prescription in
favor of defendants; and (2) the deed of donation of these lands to him had not
been formally accepted according to Article 633 of the Civil Code. Upon appeal to
this Court, the judgment of the trial court was affirmed on the second ground
aforementioned (Abellera vs. Balanag G.R. No. 11970, promulgated March 22,
1918, and reported in 37 Phil. 865).

It appears in that decision of this Court that after the perfection of the appeal,
Abellera executed a public document formally accepting the donation of the land,
and presented and deed of acceptance together with proofs of notification of
acceptance to the donor, as ground for new trial. This Court held that this was not
newly-discovered evidence, and that Abellera had not acquired title to the hacienda
until the execution of the deed of acceptance and the notification thereof to donor.
This Court added:
So that whether rights he may have to institute and maintain a new action of
ejectment in reliance upon his claim that he has acquired title to the
hacienda, since the date of the dismissal of this action, it is clear that the
present action was properly dismissed on the ground of failure of proof of
title in the plaintiff at the time when the action was instituted and later when
judgment of dismissal was entered by the trial court.

In July of 1918, or four months after the above-mentioned decision of this Court,
petitioner herein brought another action for recovery of the land against the same
defendants in the previous case. The second suit was later dismissed by the Court
of First Instance and transferred to cadastral case No. 5 which included the
hacienda in question that had in the meantime been subdivided into lots. When the
cadastral case came up before the Hon. Meynardo M. Farol at Aringay, La Union,
in July 1941, Fabian B.S. Abellera appeared as claimant while Narciso de Guzman
and others appeared as adverse claimant. The latter through counsel moved that
Abellera's claim over the lots concerned be dismissed on the grounds of res
judicata and prescription.

A careful examination of the decision of this Court in the previous case (37 Phil.,
865) convinces us that there is no res judicata. We merely held that Abellera had
not acquired title to the hacienda until the execution of the deed of acceptance and
the notification thereof, and we clearly refused to prevent Abellera from instituting
a new action based upon his assertion that he had acquired title to the estate since
the dismissal of his original action.

The other ground for the motion for dismissal, prescription, is not involved in the
present proceedings.

The next question is: Did the cadastral court, on the ground of res judicata, have
any power to entertain the motion to dismiss Abellera's claim and bar him from
presenting evidence to prove his ownership of these lots?

Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides:

These rules shall not apply to land registration, cadastral and election cases,
naturalization and insolvency proceedings, and other cases not herein
provided for, except by analogy or in a suppletory character and whenever
practicable and convenient.

The Rules of Court may be applied in cadastral cases when two conditions are
present: (1) analogy or need to supplement the cadastral law, and (2) practicability
and convenience.

If the nature and objective of the cadastral scheme are kept in view, a motion to
dismiss in a cadastral case on the ground of prior judgment would seem to be out
of place. The Government initiates a cadastral case, compelling all claimants in a
municipality to litigate against one another regarding their respective claims of
ownership. By this plan, all the private lands in a town are registered in one single
collective proceeding. Thus, the piece-meal and isolated registration of lands, so
inadequate in more ways than one, is avoided. The principal aim is to settle as
much as possible all disputes over land and to remove all clouds over land titles, as
far a practicable, in a community. To attain this purpose, the cadastral court should
allow all claimants ample freedom to ventilate whatever right they may assert over
real estate, permitting them, in keeping with the law of evidence, to offer proofs in
support of their allegations. To countenance the contrary opinion, by suppressing
the presentation of evidence in support of claims, would but serve to perpetuate
conflicts over land, for such stifled affirmations of ownership will fester like
wounds unskillfully treated. No sufficient leeway having been give all claimants to
demonstrate the strength and consistently of their alleged rights, the stability of
decrees of title is jeopardized.

In Haw Pia vs. Roman A. Cruz (G.R. No. 48506), we declared that the Court of
First Instance in a cadastral proceeding cannot appoint a receiver because its
jurisdiction is special and limited. We declined in that case to apply the new Rules
of Court by analogy.

We are, therefore, of the opinion that while in a cadastral case res judicata is
available to a claimant in order to defeat the alleged rights of another claimant,
nevertheless prior judgment can not set up in a motion to dismiss.

The order appealed from is hereby reversed. Petitioner herein shall in the cadastral
proceedings be allowed to present evidence to prove his claim over the lots in
question. With costs against the adverse claimants who are respondents herein. So
ordered.

Yulo, C.J., Moran and Ozaeta, JJ. concur.

Separate Opinions

PARAS, J., dissenting:

Years ago a judge of first instance said that res adjudicata cannot be set up as a
defense in land registration proceedings. On appeal this Court held:

A final judgment in an ordinary civil case determining the ownership of


certain land is res adjudicata in a registration proceedings when the parties
and the property are the same as in the former case. (Menor vs. Quintana, 56
Phil., 657.)

This doctrine is a reiteration of that laid down in Verzosa vs. Nicolas, 29 Phil., 425,
and Santiago vs. Santos, 54 Phil. 619, which stated:

A decision in ejectment bars a loser from opposing registration under Act


No. 496 by the prevailing party.

When the same parties have heretofore litigated over the same land for the
recovery of real property, the judgment in that case (48 Phil., 567)
constitutes res adjudicata in proceedings for registration of the land. A party
cannot by varying the form of action escape the operation of the principle
that one and the same cause of action shall not be twice litigated.
In a revindicatory actions it was declared that the plaintiffs had no right to
the land sued for. In a subsequent action some of the former or successful
plaintiffs sought to recover various portions of the same land from certain
individuals to whom such portions had been deeded by the principal
defendant in the prior case. Held: Judgment in the first case was conclusive
against the plaintiffs in the second case. (Baguinguito vs. Rivera, 56 Phil.,
423.)

The answers in a cadastral proceedings partake of an action to recover title,


as real rights are claimed therein. (Dais vs. Court of First Instance of Capiz,
51 Phil., 896)

The reason for the application of the rule must lie in the fact that actions and
proceedings are analogous in so far as the Court is therein called upon to
adjudicate land in favor of any of the conflicting parties or claimants.

The parcels of land involved in the instant case had been litigated between the
same parties since the year 1914. The petitioner here, who was plaintiff in the case
of Abellera vs. Balanag (37 Phil., 865), alleged that the defendants had been
possessing the land since 1907. They are in fact still in possession thereof.
Notwithstanding the decision of this Court in 1918 which affirmed the judgment of
the lower court in the aforesaid case absolving the defendants-respondents from the
complaint on the ground that the plaintiff-petitioner had failed to show title in his
favor, the majority are now allowing the same parties to continue their odyssey in
court.

I dissent because in my opinion Rule 132 in connection with Rule 8 of the Rules of
Court, instead of prohibiting, expressly authorizes the lower court in land
registration or cadastral proceedings to entertain a motion for dismissal on the
ground of res adjudicata or prescription. Of course the dismissal of petitioner's
claim will not necessarily or automatically mean adjudication of title to the
individual respondents, but it will certainly facilitate the consideration of their
claims which cease to be contested. Prompt disposal of cases or such claims is the
main purpose of the said rules. Let there be no retrogression in the application of
sound rules and doctrines.

The decision in Abellera vs. Balanag (37 Phil. 865) is on the merits and not one
without prejudice to the filing of a new action against the same defendants. The
dispositive part reads as follows:

Twenty days hereafter let judgment be entered affirming the judgment of


dismissal in the court below, with the costs of this instance against the
appellant, and ten days thereafter let the record be returned to the court
wherein it originated. So ordered.

It must be borne in mind that the documentary title on which the plaintiff relied
covers a large area of land and the defendants are occupying only small portions
thereof. The new action contemplated must therefore refer to the remaining
unoccupied portion, should any question be raised in relation thereto. And if the
lower court had erred is granting the motion for dismissal, the remedy would have
been an appeal from the said order.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation


LAND TITLES AND DEEDS
by Gregorio G. Bilog, Jr.

Book 1 REGISTRATION OF LANDS


INTRODUCTION

Land Registration – is a judicial or administrative proceeding whereby a person's claim of


ownership over a particular land is determined and confirmed or recognized so
that such land and the ownership thereof may be recorded in a public registry.

Purposes

1.To issue a certificate of title to the owner which shall be the best
evidence of his ownership of the land described therein;

2.To give every registered owner complete peace of mind;

3 . T o r e l i ev e t he l a n d o f u n k no w n c l a i m s ;

4.To quiet title to land and to stop forever any question as to its
legality;

5.To avoid conflicts of title in and to real estate, and to facilitate


transactions;

6.To guarantee the integrity of land titles and to protect their


indefeasibility once the claim of ownership is established and recognized.

Torrens System –

The Torrens System of land registration was introduced in the Philippines by Act.
No. 496, which took effect on February 1, 1903. This law was amended and
superseded by Presidential Decree No. 1529, which took effect on June 11, 1978,
otherwise known as the “Property Registration Decree.” This is the principal law
now governing land registration in the Philippines. The originator of the system
was Sir Richard Torrens, reformer of Australian Land Laws.

Judicial Land Registration –

is a proceeding where the application for land registration is filed in the proper
court.

Two Kinds of Judicial Land Registration

1. Ordinary land registration proceeding

– where the application for land registration is initiated and filed in court by the
owner or person claiming ownership of the land; and,
p.ii

2. Cadastral land registration proceeding

– where it is the government undertakes the survey of the land and files the
petition in court for the registration of the whole or part of the lands in a
municipality, city or province, and where all persons are given notice by
publication and required to make known and prove their claims of ownership or
interest over the same, otherwise, the lots will be declared public land. In this
sense, a cadastral proceeding is in the nature of a large scale
compulsory proceeding. The court, after hearing, shall render judgment
confirming the title of the applicant and ordering: (a) the Land Registration
Authority to issue the decree of registration; and,(b) for the Register of Deeds to
issue the corresponding Original Certificate of Title to the applicant or adjudged
owner.

Administrative Land Registration –

is a proceeding where the application for a Free Patent, Homestead Patent, Sales
Patent, or other grant of public land is filed in, and determined by, the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). If the application is
granted, the DENR issues a patent for the land applied for. Such patent shall be
registered in the office of Register of Deeds who shall then issue the
corresponding certificate of title.

Torrens Certificate of Title –

is the evidence of ownership issued by the Register of Deeds to the owner of a


particular land which is registered under the Torrens system of registration. A
certificate of title may be an Original Certificate of Title or a Transfer of Certificate of Title

.Original Certificate of Title –

is the first title issued in the name of a registered owner by the Register of Deeds
covering a parcel of land which had been registered under the Torrens System, by
virtue of judicial or administrative proceeding.

Transfer of Certificate of Title –

is the title issued by the Register of Deeds in favor of a transferee to whom the
ownership of the registered land has been transferred by virtue of a sale or other
modes of conveyance.

Laws Implementing Land Registration

1.Property Registration Decree (PD No. 1529, as amended)


p.iii

2 . C a d a s tr a l A c t (A ct 2 25 9, a s a m en d e d )

3 . P u b l i c La n d A ct ( C o m. A ct. 1 4 1 , a s a m e n de d )

4 . P r e s i d e n t i a l D e c r e e N o . 2 7 5.Comprehensive Agrarian Reform


Law of 1988 (R.A. No. 6657, as amended)

Agencies Implementing Land Registration and Land Reform

1 . D e p a r t m en t o f E nv i r o nm e nt a n d N a tu r a l R es o ur ce s

2.Department of Justice – Land Registration Authority (LRA) and it


registries of deeds

3.Department of Land Reform

4.Department of Agriculture

Regalian Doctrine (or jura regalia) –

is a time-honored Constitutional precept that all lands of the public domain


belong to the State, and that the State is the source of any asserted right to
ownership in land and charged with the conservation of such patrimony.

Imperium –

the government authority possessed by the State in the concept of sovereignty.

Dominium

– the government's capacity to own or acquire property. The 1935, 1973, and
1987 Constitution of the Philippines adopted the universal feudal theory that all
lands belong to the crown, ownership, however, being vested in the State, as
such, rather than the head thereof. Art. XII, Sec. 2 of the 1987 Constitution of the
Philippines states that all lands of the public domain and other natural resources
are owned by the State; and that with the exception of agricultural lands, all other
natural resources shall not be alienated. The theory of jura regalia was nothing
more than a natural fruit of conquest. The regalia theory does not negate native
title to lands held in private ownership since time immemorial. (Cruz vs Secretary
of Environment and Natural resources, 347 SCRA 128)

SEVEN (7) STEPS IN JUDICIAL LAND REGISTRATION

1. Application for land registration shall be filed in court by the applicant;


2. Publication of the notice of the initial hearing of said publication;
3. Opposition to said application shall be filed by any person who claims the land
or interest therein;
p.iv

4. Hearing of said application and presentation of evidence in court;


5. Judgment shall be rendered by the court;
6. Decree of Registration for the land shall be issued by the LRA Administrator;and
7. Original Certificate of Title for the land shall be issued by the LRA Administrator
which shall then be entered by the Register of Deeds in his record book. The
owner’s duplicate of said certificate of title shall be given to the registered
owner thereof.

STEP 1: APPLICATION FOR LAND REGISTRATION IN COURT


A. Who May Apply for Land Registration? Applicant must be the owner

Rights included in ownership:



Jus possidendi (right to posses)

jus utendi (right to use and enjoy)

jus fruendi (right to the fruits)

jus accessionis (right to accessories)

jus abutenti (right to consume)

jus disponendi (right to dispose or alienate), and

jus vindicandi (right to vindicate or recover)

How to Acquire Ownership of Land

1 . B y p o s s e s s i o n o f l a n d s i n c e t ime i mme mo r i a l ;
2. By possession of alienable public land;
3 . B y s a l e , d o n a t i o n a n d other modes of acquiring ownership:


by law
(Civil Code, Art. 712) – e.g. public grants; title to accretion in river banks under
Art. 457, Civil Code); title by escheat under the Rules of Court, Rule 91

by donation

by testate and intestate succession

in consequence of certain contracts, by tradition
- e.g. ownership is transferred by delivery
p.v


by prescription

B. Where to File the Application?

1. In the RTC
– it has the exclusive jurisdiction over all applications for original registration of
title of lands, including improvements and interests therein, and over all petitions
filed after original registration of title, with power to hear and determine all
questions arising upon such applications and petitions.

2. In the MTC and MCTC (if authorized by the Supreme Court)


– to hear and determine cadastral or land registration cases.

C. Contents of the Application; Annexes:

1. Name of applicant, etc.


2. Description of the land
3. Verification – the application shall be signed by the applicant or the
person duly authorized in his behalf, and sworn to before any officer
authorized to administer oath.

4.Application covering two or more parcels of land may be included


provided they are situated in the same province or city.

5.Annexis to the application:



Survey plan of the land

technical descriptions

Certificate of the Geodetic Engineer

Certificate regarding the last assessment for taxation of the property

D. Dealings with the Land, Pending registration

After the filing of the application and before the issuance of the decree of
registration, the land therein described may still be the subject of dealings in whole
or in part.

STEP 2: PUBLICATION OF THE NOTICE OF THE INITIAL HEARING OFSAID


APPLICATION

A. Notice of the Initial Hearing

1. Publication of the Notice of Initial Hearing must be published in the Official Gazette;
p.vi

and in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines;

2. Mailing of Notice of Initial Hearing


– to persons named in the application. The Administrator of the LRA shall also,
within seven days after publication, cause a copy of the notice to be mailed to:

every person named in the notice whose address is known;

government officials concerned;

the Secretary of Agrarian Reform, the Solicitor General, the Director
of Lands, etc.

other persons as directed by the court;

3. Posting of Notice of Initial Hearing


– caused by the Administrator of LRA to be posted by the sheriff of the province
or city in a conspicuous place on the bulletin board of the municipal building of the
municipality or city in which the land or portion thereof is situated;

STEP 3: OPPOSITION TO SAID APPLICATION

A. Opposition: Who May File?

Any person claiming the land or adverse interest therein, whether named in the
notice or not, may appear and file an opposition to the application for land
registration on or before the date of initial hearing, or within such further time as
may be allowed by the court. The opposition shall state all the objections to the
application, the interest claimed by the party filing the same, and apply for the
remedy desired; it shall be signed and sworn to by the oppositor or by some other
duly authorized person.

Case Notes

Basis of Opposition –
the opposition to the application for land registration should be based on a right of
dominion or some other real right independent of, and not at all subordinate to the
rights of, the government.

Motion for intervention not allowed


Failure of government to oppose
– the government cannot be estopped from questioning the validity of the
certificates of title which were granted without opposition from the government.
The principle of estoppel does not operate against the government for the act of its
agents.
p.vii

STEP 4: HEARING OF SAID APPLICATION AND PRESENTATIONOF


EVIDENCE IN COURT

A. Rules of Court
The Rules of Court shall, insofar as not inconsistent with the provisions of
Presidential Decree No. 1529, be applicable to land registration and cadastral cases
by analogy or in a suppletory character and whenever practicable and convenient.
Judicial proceedings for the registration of lands throughout the Philippines shall
be in rem, and shall be based on the generally accepted principles underlying the
Torrens system.

B. Evidence

1. To prove: that the Notice of Initial Hearing of the application has been published,
mailed, and posted as required by Law;

2. To prove that the applicant is the owner:

(a) by virtue of possession of private land


(b) by virtue of possession of public land – the general rule is that public land
cannot be acquired by prescription because there can be no prescription
against the State.

Case Notes:

Possession of lands of public domain must be from June 12, 1945 or earlier,
for the same to be acquired through judicial confirmation of imperfect title.

Possession of the applicant for land application for land registration must be
under bonafide claim of ownership, which presupposes colorable title or
acquisition of land through some state grant.

Public land becomes private land – open, exclusive and undisputed possession of
alienable public land by a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines for the period
prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby the land, upon completion of
the requisite period ipso jure and without the need of judicial or other sanction,
ceases to be public land and becomes private property. Petitioners are “deemed to
have acquired , by operation of law, a right to a grant, a government grant, without
the necessity of a certificate of title being issued.” The land is “segregated from
public land.”


Filipino Corporations: can acquire private lands – if the land was
already private at the time the corporation bought it from the seller, then
the prohibition in the Constitution against corporations holding alienable lands of
the public domain, except by lease, does not apply. Title and ownership over lands
within the meaning of the Constitutional prohibition dates back to the time of their
purchase, not later.
p.viii


A parcel of land acquired by a corporation from a private individual should
be deemed applied for by such private person for registration purposes.

For accretion or alluvium to form part of registered land or riparian owner,
the gradual alluvial deposits made by human intervention are excluded.

The Government may declare the accretion property of the adjoining owner
only when it is no longer washed by the waters of the sea and when it is no
longer necessary for public use.

The owners of estates adjoining ponds or lagoons do not acquire the land left
dry by the natural decrease of the waters, nor lose those inundated by them in
extraordinary floods

3.To Prove: the identity of the land

(a) identity of land: survey plan and technical description

(b) identity of land: by area

(c) original tracing cloth plan: mandatory evidence



Spanish titles are no longer admissible as evidence of ownership

4.To prove: that the land is “Alienable” and “Disposable”



The prerogative of classifying lands of the public domain belongs to the
Executive Branch of the government.

Classification of lands of Public domain (1987 Constitution, Art. XII, Sec. 3):

(1) forest or timber


(2) mineral lands

(3) national parks

(4) agricultural

With the exception of agricultural land, lands of the public domain shall
not be alienated.

Case Notes

All lands not appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed
to belong to the State.

Title to inalienable lands: void
p.ix

STEP 5: JUDGMENT SHALL BE RENDERED BY THE COURT

A. Judgment

1 . J u d g me n t c o n f i r mi n g t i t l e . Partial judgment allowed


– in a land registration proceeding where only a portion of the land subject of
registration is contested, the court may render partial judgment provided that the
subdivision plan showing the contested and uncontested portions approved by the
Director of Lands is previously submitted to said court.

Conditional judgments
– judgments which are subject to the performance of a condition precedent, are not
final until the condition is performed.

2. When judgment becomes final


– judgment rendered in a land registration proceeding becomes final upon the
expiration of fifteen (15) days to be counted from the date of the judgment.

Judgment binds the whole world.

Judgment is under the principle of res judicata:

former judgment must be final

the court which rendered judgment must have jurisdiction

it must be a judgment of the merits, and

there must be between the first and second actions identity of parties, subject
matter, and cause of action

Under the principle of res judicata, the Court and the parties, are bound by
such final decision, otherwise there will be no end to litigation.

Adjudication of land to non-claimant is prohibited.

Title issued pending appeal, void.

A judgment dismissing an application for land registration does not operate as
conclusive adjudication (res judicata) between the applicant and the opponent
who has successfully resisted the application.

A void judgment has no legal or binding effect for any purpose. It is a
nullity,and leaves the parties litigants in the same position they were in before
the trial.

STEP 6: DECREE OF REGISTRATION FOR THE LAND SHALL BE ISSUED BY


THE LRA ADMINISTRATOR
p.x

After judgment of the land registration court has become final and executory, it
shall devolve upon the court to forthwith issue an order to the Administrator of
LRA for the issuance of the decree of registration and the corresponding
certificate of title in the name of the person adjudged entitled to registration. The
decree of registration shall bear the date, hour and minute of its entry, and shall be
signed by the Administrator of LRA. It shall state whether the owner is married
or unmarried, and if married, the name of husband or wife: provided however that
if the land adjudicated by the court is conjugal property, the decree shall be
issued in the name of both spouses. Upon finality of judgment in the land
registration cases, the winning party does not file a motion for execution as in
ordinary civil actions. Instead, he files a petition with the LRA to issue a decree
of registration, a copy of which is then sent to the Register of Deeds
for transcription in the registration book, and issuance of original certificate of
title.

STEP 7: ORIGINAL CERTIFICATE OF TITLE FOR THE LAND SHALL BE


ISSUED BY THE LRA ADMINISTRATOR, WHICH SHALL BE THEN ENTERED
BY THE REGISTER OF DEEDS IN HIS RECORD BOOK. THE OWNERS
DUPLICATE OF SAID CERTIFICATE OF TITLE SHALL BE GIVEN TO THE
REGISTERED OWNER THEREOF.

A writ of possession may be issued in favor of the successful applicant or


adjudged owner. It is not only against the person who has been defeated in the
registration case but also against anyone adversely occupying the land or any
portion thereof during the proceeding up to the issuance of the decree.

A writ of demolition must, likewise, issue, especially considering that the latter
writ is but a complement of the former.

Book 2

REGISTRATION OF DOCUMENTS INVOLVING LANDS


Part 1
DOCUMENTS DEALING WITH “TITLED LANDS”

A. PRELIMINARY
1 . D e f i n i t i o n o f T e r m s : Titled land –
refers to land which has been registered under the Torrens system and for which
a Torrens title issued in the name of registered owner thereof.
Untitled land –
refers to land which has not been registered under the Torrens system, hence, not
covered by a Torrens title.

2 .F u n c t i o n s o f Re g i s t e r o f De e d s
The office of the Register of Deeds constitutes a public repository of records
of instruments affecting registered or unregistered lands and chattel mortgages in
p.xi

the province or city wherein such office is situated.

3.Ministerial Duty
The function of the Register of Deeds with reference to the registration of
deeds,encumbrances, instruments and the like is ministerial in nature.