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Rule 4 Venue Benedicto, as trustor, placed in his name and in the name of his associates,
as trustees, the shares of stocks of FEMII and UEC with the obligation to hold
IRENE MARCOS-ARANETA, DANIEL RUBIO, ORLANDO G. G.R. No. 154096
those shares and their fruits in trust and for the benefit of Irene to the extent
RESLIN, and JOSE G. RESLIN, of 65% of such shares. Several years after, Irene, through her trustee-
Petitioners, Present: husband, Gregorio Ma. Araneta III, demanded the reconveyance of said 65%
stockholdings, but the Benedicto Group refused to oblige.
- versus - QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,
In March 2000, Irene thereupon instituted before the RTC two similar
TINGA, complaints for conveyance of shares of stock, accounting and receivership
COURT OF APPEALS, JULITA C. BENEDICTO, and FRANCISCA VELASCO,against
JR., andthe Benedicto Group with prayer for the issuance of a temporary
BENEDICTO-PAULINO, BRION, JJ.restraining order (TRO). The first, docketed as Civil Case No. 3341-17, covered
Respondents. the UEC shares and named Benedicto, his daughter, and at least 20 other
Promulgated:
individuals as defendants. The second, docketed as Civil Case No. 3342-17,
sought the recovery to the extent of 65% of FEMII shares held by Benedicto
August 22,and
2008the other defendants named therein.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
Respondent Francisca Benedicto-Paulino, Benedictos daughter, filed a
DECISION Motion to Dismiss Civil Case No. 3341-17, followed later by an Amended
Motion to Dismiss. Benedicto, on the other hand, moved to dismiss Civil Case
VELASCO, JR., J.: No. 3342-17, adopting in toto the five (5) grounds raised by Francisca in her
amended motion to dismiss. Among these were: (1) the cases involved an
The Case intra-corporate dispute over which the Securities and Exchange Commission,
not the RTC, has jurisdiction; (2) venue was improperly laid; and (3) the
This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 assails and seeks to nullify complaint failed to state a cause of action, as there was no allegation therein
the Decision dated October 17, 2001 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. that plaintiff, as beneficiary of the purported trust, has accepted the trust
SP No. 64246 and its Resolution of June 20, 2002 denying petitioners motion created in her favor.
for reconsideration. The assailed CA decision annulled and set aside the
Orders dated October 9, 2000, December 18, 2000, and March 15, 2001 of To the motions to dismiss, Irene filed a Consolidated Opposition, which
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 17 in Batac, Ilocos Norte which Benedicto and Francisca countered with a Joint Reply to Opposition.
admitted petitioners amended complaint in Civil Case Nos. 3341-17 and
3342-17. Upon Benedictos motion, both cases were consolidated.

The Facts During the preliminary proceedings on their motions to dismiss, Benedicto
Sometime in 1968 and 1972, Ambassador Roberto S. Benedicto, now and Francisca, by way of bolstering their contentions on improper venue,
deceased, and his business associates (Benedicto Group) organized Far East presented the Joint Affidavit of Gilmia B. Valdez, Catalino A. Bactat, and
Managers and Investors, Inc. (FEMII) and Universal Equity Corporation (UEC), Conchita R. Rasco who all attested being employed as household staff at the
respectively. As petitioner Irene Marcos-Araneta would later allege, both Marcos Mansion in Brgy. Lacub, Batac, Ilocos Norte and that Irene did not
corporations were organized pursuant to a contract or arrangement whereby maintain residence in said place as she in fact only visited the mansion twice
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in 1999; that she did not vote in Batac in the 1998 national elections; and that Let copies of the Amended Complaint be served to the defendants who are
she was staying at her husbands house in Makati City. ordered to answer within the reglementary period provided by the rules.

Against the aforesaid unrebutted joint affidavit, Irene presented her PhP 5 The RTC predicated its order on the following premises:
community tax certificate (CTC) issued on 11/07/99 in Curimao, Ilocos Norte
to support her claimed residency in Batac, Ilocos Norte. (1) Pursuant to Section 2, Rule 10 of the Rules of Court, Irene may opt to file,
as a matter of right, an amended complaint.
In the meantime, on May 15, 2000, Benedicto died and was substituted by (2) The inclusion of additional plaintiffs, one of whom was a Batac, an Ilocos
his wife, Julita C. Benedicto, and Francisca. Norte resident, in the amended complaint setting out the same cause of
action cured the defect of improper venue.
On June 29, 2000, the RTC dismissed both complaints, stating that these (3) Secs. 2 and 3 of Rule 3 in relation to Sec. 2 of Rule 4 allow the filing of the
partly constituted real action, and that Irene did not actually reside in Ilocos amended complaint in question in the place of residence of any of Irenes co-
Norte, and, therefore, venue was improperly laid. In its dismissal order, the plaintiffs.
court also declared all the other issues raised in the different Motions to
Dismiss x x x moot and academic. In time, Julita and Francisca moved to dismiss the amended complaint, but
From the above order, Irene interposed a Motion for Reconsideration which the RTC, by Order dated December 18, 2000, denied the motion and
Julita and Francisca duly opposed. reiterated its directive for the two to answer the amended complaint.

Pending resolution of her motion for reconsideration, Irene filed on July 17, In said order, the RTC stood pat on its holding on the rule on amendments of
2000 a Motion (to Admit Amended Complaint attaching therewith a copy of pleadings. And scoffing at the argument about there being no complaint to
the Amended Complaint dated July 14, 2000 in which the names of Daniel amend in the first place as of October 9, 2000 (when the RTC granted the
Rubio, Orlando G. Reslin, and Jose G. Reslin appeared as additional plaintiffs. motion to amend) as the original complaints were dismissed with finality
As stated in the amended complaint, the added plaintiffs, all from Ilocos earlier, i.e., on August 25, 2000 when the court denied Irenes motion for
Norte, were Irenes new trustees. Parenthetically, the amended complaint reconsideration of the June 29, 2000 order dismissing the original complaints,
stated practically the same cause of action but, as couched, sought the the court stated thusly: there was actually no need to act on Irenes motion to
reconveyance of the FEMII shares only. admit, it being her right as plaintiff to amend her complaints absent any
responsive pleading thereto. Pushing its point, the RTC added the observation
During the August 25, 2000 hearing, the RTC dictated in open court an order that the filing of the amended complaint on July 17, 2000 ipso facto
denying Irenes motion for reconsideration aforementioned, but deferred superseded the original complaints, the dismissal of which, per the June 29,
action on her motion to admit amended complaint and the opposition 2000 Order, had not yet become final at the time of the filing of the amended
thereto. complaint.

On October 9, 2000, the RTC issued an Order entertaining the amended Following the denial on March 15, 2001 of their motion for the RTC to
complaint, dispositively stating: reconsider its December 18, 2000 order aforestated, Julita and Francisca, in a
bid to evade being declared in default, filed on April 10, 2001 their Answer to
WHEREFORE, the admission of the Amended Complaint being tenable and the amended complaint. But on the same day, they went to the CA via a
legal, the same is GRANTED. petition for certiorari, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 64246, seeking to nullify
the following RTC orders: the first, admitting the amended complaint; the
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second, denying their motion to dismiss the amended complaint; and the was no more original complaint to amend; (4) ruling that the respondents did
third, denying their motion for reconsideration of the second issuance. not waive improper venue; and (5) ruling that petitioner Irene was not a
resident of Batac, Ilocos Norte and that none of the principal parties are
Inasmuch as the verification portion of the joint petition and the certification residents of Ilocos Norte.
on non-forum shopping bore only Franciscas signature, the CA required the
joint petitioners to submit x x x either the written authority of Julita C. The Courts Ruling
Benedicto to Francisca B. Paulino authorizing the latter to represent her in
these proceedings, or a supplemental verification and certification duly We affirm, but not for all the reasons set out in, the CAs decision.
signed by x x x Julita C. Benedicto. Records show the submission of the
corresponding authorizing Affidavit executed by Julita in favor of Francisca. First Issue: Substantial Compliance with the Rule
on Verification and Certification of Non-Forum Shopping
Later developments saw the CA issuing a TRO and then a writ of preliminary
injunction enjoining the RTC from conducting further proceedings on the Petitioners tag private respondents petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 64246 as
subject civil cases. defective for non-compliance with the requirements of Secs. 4 and 5 of Rule
7 of the Rules of Court at least with regard to Julita, who failed to sign the
On October 17, 2001, the CA rendered a Decision, setting aside the assailed verification and certification of non-forum shopping. Petitioners thus fault
RTC orders and dismissing the amended complaints in Civil Case Nos. 3341- the appellate court for directing Julitas counsel to submit a written authority
17 and 3342-17. The fallo of the CA decision reads: for Francisca to represent Julita in the certiorari proceedings.

WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing premises, the petition is hereby We are not persuaded.
GRANTED. The assailed Orders admitting the amended complaints are SET
ASIDE for being null and void, and the amended complaints a quo are, Verification not Jurisdictional; May be Corrected
accordingly, DISMISSED.[if !supportFootnotes][20][endif]
Verification is, under the Rules, not a jurisdictional but merely a formal
Irene and her new trustees motion for reconsideration of the assailed requirement which the court may motu proprio direct a party to comply with
decision was denied through the equally assailed June 20, 2002 CA or correct, as the case may be. As the Court articulated in Kimberly
Resolution. Hence, this petition for review is before us. Independent Labor Union for Solidarity, Activism and Nationalism (KILUSAN)-
Organized Labor Associations in Line Industries and Agriculture (OLALIA) v.
The Issues Court of Appeals:

Petitioners urge the setting aside and annulment of the assailed CA decision [V]erification is a formal, not a jurisdictional requisite, as it is mainly intended
and resolution on the following submissions that the appellate court erred in: to secure an assurance that the allegations therein made are done in good
(1) allowing the submission of an affidavit by Julita as sufficient compliance faith or are true and correct and not mere speculation. The Court may order
with the requirement on verification and certification of non-forum shopping; the correction of the pleading, if not verified, or act on the unverified pleading
(2) ruling on the merits of the trust issue which involves factual and if the attending circumstances are such that a strict compliance with the rule
evidentiary determination, processes not proper in a petition for certiorari may be dispensed with in order that the ends of justice may be served.
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court; (3) ruling that the amended complaints
in the lower court should be dismissed because, at the time it was filed, there
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Given this consideration, the CA acted within its sound discretion in ordering
the submission of proof of Franciscas authority to sign on Julitas behalf and Whether a determinative question is one of law or of fact depends on the
represent her in the proceedings before the appellate court. nature of the dispute. A question of law exists when the doubt or controversy
concerns the correct application of law or jurisprudence to a certain given set
Signature by Any of the Principal Petitioners is Substantial Compliance 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
Regarding the certificate of non-forum shopping, the general rule is that all admitted. A question of fact obtains when the doubt or difference arises as
the petitioners or plaintiffs in a case should sign it. However, the Court has to the truth or falsehood of facts or when the query invites the calibration of
time and again stressed that the rules on forum shopping, which were the whole evidence considering mainly the credibility of the witnesses, the
designed to promote the orderly administration of justice, do not interdict existence and relevancy of specific surrounding circumstances, as well as
substantial compliance with its provisions under justifiable circumstances As their relation to each other and to the whole, and the probability of the
has been ruled by the Court, the signature of any of the principal petitioners] situation.
or principal parties, as Francisca is in this case, would constitute a substantial
compliance with the rule on verification and certification of non-forum Clearly then, the CA overstepped its boundaries when, in disposing of private
shopping. It cannot be overemphasized that Francisca herself was a principal respondents petition for certiorari, it did not confine itself to determining
party in Civil Case No. 3341-17 before the RTC and in the certiorari whether or not lack of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion tainted the
proceedings before the CA. Besides being an heir of Benedicto, Francisca, issuance of the assailed RTC orders, but proceeded to pass on the factual
with her mother, Julita, was substituted for Benedicto in the instant case after issue of the existence and enforceability of the asserted trust. In the process,
his demise. the CA virtually resolved petitioner Irenes case for reconveyance on its
substantive merits even before evidence on the matter could be adduced.
And should there exist a commonality of interest among the parties, or where Civil Case Nos. 3341-17 and 3342-17 in fact have not even reached the pre-
the parties filed the case as a collective, raising only one common cause of trial stage. To stress, the nature of the trust allegedly constituted in Irenes
action or presenting a common defense, then the signature of one of the favor and its enforceability, being evidentiary in nature, are best determined
petitioners or complainants, acting as representative, is sufficient by the trial court. The original complaints and the amended complaint
compliance. We said so in Cavile v. Heirs of Clarita Cavile. Like Thomas Cavile, certainly do not even clearly indicate whether the asserted trust is implied or
Sr. and the other petitioners in Cavile, Francisca and Julita, as petitioners express. To be sure, an express trust differs from the implied variety in terms
before the CA, had filed their petition as a collective, sharing a common of the manner of proving its existence. Surely, the onus of factually
interest and having a common single defense to protect their rights over the determining whether the trust allegedly established in favor of Irene, if one
shares of stocks in question. was indeed established, was implied or express properly pertains, at the first
instance, to the trial court and not to the appellate court in a special civil
Second Issue: Merits of the Case cannot be Resolved action for certiorari, as here. In the absence of evidence to prove or disprove
on Certiorari under Rule 65 the constitution and necessarily the existence of the trust agreement
between Irene, on one hand, and the Benedicto Group, on the other, the
Petitioners posture on the second issue is correct. As they aptly pointed out, appellate court cannot intelligently pass upon the issue of trust. A
the CA, in the exercise of its certiorari jurisdiction under Rule 65, is limited to pronouncement on said issue of trust rooted on speculation and conjecture,
reviewing and correcting errors of jurisdiction only. It cannot validly delve into if properly challenged, must be struck down. So it must be here.
the issue of trust which, under the premises, cannot be judiciously resolved
without first establishing certain facts based on evidence. Third Issue: Admission of Amended Complaint Proper
4
pleading had been filed, respondent could amend her complaint in Civil Case
As may be recalled, the CA veritably declared as reversibly erroneous the No. C-20124 as a matter of right. Following this Courts ruling in Breslin v.
admission of the amended complaint. The flaw in the RTCs act of admitting Luzon Stevedoring Co. considering that respondent has the right to amend
the amended complaint lies, so the CA held, in the fact that the filing of the her complaint, it is the correlative duty of the trial court to accept the
amended complaint on July 17, 2000 came after the RTC had ordered with amended complaint; otherwise, mandamus would lie against it. In other
finality the dismissal of the original complaints. According to petitioners, words, the trial courts duty to admit the amended complaint was purely
scoring the CA for its declaration adverted to and debunking its posture on ministerial. In fact, respondent should not have filed a motion to admit her
the finality of the said RTC order, the CA failed to take stock of their motion amended complaint.
for reconsideration of the said dismissal order.
It may be argued that the original complaints had been dismissed through the
We agree with petitioners and turn to the governing Sec. 2 of Rule 10 of the June 29, 2000 RTC order. It should be pointed out, however, that the finality
Rules of Court which provides: of such dismissal order had not set in when Irene filed the amended
complaint on July 17, 2000, she having meanwhile seasonably sought
SEC. 2. Amendments as a matter of right. A party may amend his pleading reconsideration thereof. Irenes motion for reconsideration was only resolved
once as a matter of right at any time before a responsive pleading is served on August 25, 2000. Thus, when Irene filed the amended complaint on July
or in the case of a reply, at any time within ten (10) days after it is served. 17, 2000, the order of dismissal was not yet final, implying that there was
strictly no legal impediment to her amending her original complaints.
As the aforequoted provision makes it abundantly clear that the plaintiff may
amend his complaint once as a matter of right, i.e., without leave of court, Fourth Issue: Private Respondents did not Waive Improper Venue
before any responsive pleading is filed or served. Responsive pleadings are
those which seek affirmative relief and/or set up defenses like an answer. A Petitioners maintain that Julita and Francisca were effectively precluded from
motion to dismiss is not a responsive pleading for purposes of Sec. 2 of Rule raising the matter of improper venue by their subsequent acts of filing
10. Assayed against the foregoing perspective, the RTC did not err in numerous pleadings. To petitioners, these pleadings, taken together, signify
admitting petitioners amended complaint, Julita and Francisca not having yet a waiver of private respondents initial objection to improper venue.
answered the original complaints when the amended complaint was filed. At
that precise moment, Irene, by force of said Sec. 2 of Rule 10, had, as a matter This contention is without basis and, at best, tenuous. Venue essentially
of right, the option of amending her underlying reconveyance complaints. As concerns a rule of procedure which, in personal actions, is fixed for the
aptly observed by the RTC, Irenes motion to admit amended complaint was greatest convenience possible of the plaintiff and his witnesses. The ground
not even necessary. The Court notes though that the RTC has not offered an of improperly laid venue must be raised seasonably, else it is deemed waived.
explanation why it saw fit to grant the motion to admit in the first place. Where the defendant failed to either file a motion to dismiss on the ground
of improper venue or include the same as an affirmative defense, he is
In Alpine Lending Investors v. Corpuz, the Court, expounding on the propriety deemed to have waived his right to object to improper venue. In the case at
of admitting an amended complaint before a responsive pleading is filed, bench, Benedicto and Francisca raised at the earliest time possible, meaning
wrote: within the time for but before filing the answer to the complaint, the matter
of improper venue. They would thereafter reiterate and pursue their
[W]hat petitioner Alpine filed in Civil Case No. C-20124 was a motion to objection on venue, first, in their answer to the amended complaints and then
dismiss, not an answer. Settled is the rule that a motion to dismiss is not a in their petition for certiorari before the CA. Any suggestion, therefore, that
responsive pleading for purposes of Section 2, Rule 10. As no responsive Francisca and Benedicto or his substitutes abandoned along the way
5
improper venue as ground to defeat Irenes claim before the RTC has to be
rejected. The amended complaint is an action in personam, it being a suit against
Francisca and the late Benedicto (now represented by Julita and Francisca),
Fifth Issue: The RTC Has No Jurisdiction on the basis of their alleged personal liability to Irene upon an alleged trust
on the Ground of Improper Venue constituted in 1968 and/or 1972. They are not actions in rem where the
actions are against the real properties instead of against persons. We
Subject Civil Cases are Personal Actions particularly note that possession or title to the real properties of FEMII and
UEC is not being disputed, albeit part of the assets of the corporation happens
It is the posture of Julita and Francisca that the venue was in this case to be real properties.
improperly laid since the suit in question partakes of a real action involving
real properties located outside the territorial jurisdiction of the RTC in Batac. Given the foregoing perspective, we now tackle the determinative question
of venue in the light of the inclusion of additional plaintiffs in the amended
This contention is not well-taken. In a personal action, the plaintiff seeks the complaint.
recovery of personal property, the enforcement of a contract, or the recovery
of damages. Real actions, on the other hand, are those affecting title to or Interpretation of Secs. 2 and 3 of Rule 3; and Sec. 2 of Rule 4
possession of real property, or interest therein. In accordance with the
wordings of Sec. 1 of Rule 4, the venue of real actions shall be the proper We point out at the outset that Irene, as categorically and peremptorily found
court which has territorial jurisdiction over the area wherein the real property by the RTC after a hearing, is not a resident of Batac, Ilocos Norte, as she
involved, or a portion thereof, is situated. The venue of personal actions is claimed. The Court perceives no compelling reason to disturb, in the confines
the court where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where of this case, the factual determination of the trial court and the premises
the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a holding it together. Accordingly, Irene cannot, in a personal action,
non-resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the contextually opt for Batac as venue of her reconveyance complaint. As to her,
plaintiff. Batac, Ilocos Norte is not what Sec. 2, Rule 4 of the Rules of Court adverts to
as the place where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides at the
In the instant case, petitioners are basically asking Benedicto and his Group, time she filed her amended complaint. That Irene holds CTC No. 17019451
as defendants a quo, to acknowledge holding in trust Irenes purported 65% issued sometime in June 2000 in Batac, Ilocos Norte and in which she
stockownership of UEC and FEMII, inclusive of the fruits of the trust, and to indicated her address as Brgy. Lacub, Batac, Ilocos is really of no moment. Let
execute in Irenes favor the necessary conveying deed over the said 65% alone the fact that one can easily secure a basic residence certificate
shareholdings. In other words, Irene seeks to compel recognition of the trust practically anytime in any Bureau of Internal Revenue or treasurers office and
arrangement she has with the Benedicto Group. The fact that FEMIIs assets dictate whatever relevant data one desires entered, Irene procured CTC No.
include real properties does not materially change the nature of the action, 17019451 and appended the same to her motion for reconsideration
for the ownership interest of a stockholder over corporate assets is only following the RTCs pronouncement against her being a resident of Batac.
inchoate as the corporation, as a juridical person, solely owns such assets. It
is only upon the liquidation of the corporation that the stockholders, Petitioners, in an attempt to establish that the RTC in Batac, Ilocos Norte is
depending on the type and nature of their stockownership, may have a real the proper court venue, asseverate that Batac, Ilocos Norte is where the
inchoate right over the corporate assets, but then only to the extent of their principal parties reside.
stockownership.

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Pivotal to the resolution of the venue issue is a determination of the status of designated trustees. As trustees, they can only serve as mere representatives
Irenes co-plaintiffs in the context of Secs. 2 and 3 of Rule 3 in relation to Sec. of Irene.
2 of Rule 4, which pertinently provide as follows:
Upon the foregoing consideration, the resolution of the crucial issue of
Rule 3 whether or not venue had properly been laid should not be difficult.
PARTIES TO CIVIL ACTIONS
Sec. 2 of Rule 4 indicates quite clearly that when there is more than one
SEC. 2. Parties in interest. A real party in interest is the party who stands to plaintiff in a personal action case, the residences of the principal parties
be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to should be the basis for determining proper venue. According to the late
the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or these Rules, every Justice Jose Y. Feria, the word principal has been added [in the uniform
action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in procedure rule] in order to prevent the plaintiff from choosing the residence
interest. of a minor plaintiff or defendant as the venue. Eliminate the qualifying term
principal and the purpose of the Rule would, to borrow from Justice Regalado,
SEC. 3. Representatives as parties. Where the action is allowed to be be defeated where a nominal or formal party is impleaded in the action since
prosecuted or defended by a representative or someone acting in a fiduciary the latter would not have the degree of interest in the subject of the action
capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of the case and shall be which would warrant and entail the desirably active participation expected of
deemed to be the real party in interest. A representative may be a trustee of litigants in a case.
an express trust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a party
authorized by law or these Rules. An agent acting in his own name and for the Before the RTC in Batac, in Civil Case Nos. 3341-17 and 3342-17, Irene stands
benefit of an undisclosed principal may sue or be sued without joining the undisputedly as the principal plaintiff, the real party-in-interest. Following
principal except when the contract involves things belonging to the principal. Sec. 2 of Rule 4, the subject civil cases ought to be commenced and
prosecuted at the place where Irene resides.
Rule 4
VENUE OF ACTIONS Principal Plaintiff not a Resident in Venue of Action

SEC. 2. Venue of personal actions. All other actions may be commenced and As earlier stated, no less than the RTC in Batac declared Irene as not a resident
tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the of Batac, Ilocos Norte. Withal, that court was an improper venue for her
defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a non- conveyance action.
resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff.
The Court can concede that Irenes three co-plaintiffs are all residents of
Venue is Improperly Laid Batac, Ilocos Norte. But it ought to be stressed in this regard that not one of
the three can be considered as principal party-plaintiffs in Civil Case Nos.
There can be no serious dispute that the real party-in-interest plaintiff is 3341-17 and 3342-17, included as they were in the amended complaint as
Irene. As self-styled beneficiary of the disputed trust, she stands to be trustees of the principal plaintiff. As trustees, they may be accorded, by virtue
benefited or entitled to the avails of the present suit. It is undisputed too that of Sec. 3 of Rule 3, the right to prosecute a suit, but only on behalf of the
petitioners Daniel Rubio, Orlando G. Reslin, and Jose G. Reslin, all from Ilocos beneficiary who must be included in the title of the case and shall be deemed
Norte, were included as co-plaintiffs in the amended complaint as Irenes new to be the real party-in-interest. In the final analysis, the residences of Irenes
co-plaintiffs cannot be made the basis in determining the venue of the subject
7
suit. This conclusion becomes all the more forceful considering that Irene G.R. No. 186993 August 22, 2012
herself initiated and was actively prosecuting her claim against Benedicto, his THEODORE and NANCY ANG, represented by ELDRIGE MARVIN B. ACERON,
heirs, assigns, or associates, virtually rendering the impleading of the trustees Petitioners,
unnecessary. vs.
SPOUSES ALAN and EM ANG, Respondents.
And this brings us to the final point. Irene was a resident during the period VELASCO, JR.,*
material of Forbes Park, Makati City. She was not a resident of Brgy. Lacub, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, **
Batac, Ilocos Norte, although jurisprudence[has it that one can have several DECISION
residences, if such were the established fact. The Court will not speculate on REYES, J.:
the reason why petitioner Irene, for all the inconvenience and expenses she Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
and her adversaries would have to endure by a Batac trial, preferred that her Rules of Court seeking to annul and set aside the Decision1 dated August 28,
case be heard and decided by the RTC in Batac. On the heels of the dismissal 2008 and the Resolution2 dated February 20, 2009 rendered by the Court of
of the original complaints on the ground of improper venue, three new Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 101159. The assailed decision annulled and set
personalities were added to the complaint doubtless to insure, but in vain as aside the Orders dated April 12, 20073 and August 27, 20074 issued by the
it turned out, that the case stays with the RTC in Batac. Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 81 in Civil Case No. Q-06-
58834.
Litigants ought to bank on the righteousness of their causes, the superiority The Antecedent Facts
of their cases, and the persuasiveness of arguments to secure a favorable On September 2, 1992, spouses Alan and Em Ang (respondents) obtained a
verdict. It is high time that courts, judges, and those who come to court for loan in the amount of Three Hundred Thousand U.S. Dollars (US$300,000.00)
redress keep this ideal in mind. from Theodore and Nancy Ang (petitioners). On even date, the respondents
executed a promissory note5 in favor of the petitioners wherein they
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. The Decision and promised to pay the latter the said amount, with interest at the rate of ten
Resolution dated October 17, 2001 and June 20, 2002, respectively, of the CA percent (10%) per annum, upon demand. However, despite repeated
in CA-G.R. SP No. 64246, insofar as they nullified the assailed orders of the demands, the respondents failed to pay the petitioners.
RTC, Branch 17 in Batac, Ilocos Norte in Civil Case Nos. 3341-17 and 3342-17 Thus, on August 28, 2006, the petitioners sent the respondents a demand
on the ground of lack of jurisdiction due to improper venue, are hereby letter asking them to pay their outstanding debt which, at that time, already
AFFIRMED. The Orders dated October 9, 2000, December 18, 2000, and amounted to Seven Hundred Nineteen Thousand, Six Hundred Seventy-One
March 15, 2001 of the RTC in Civil Case Nos. 3341-17 and 3342-17 are U.S. Dollars and Twenty-Three Cents (US$719,671.23), inclusive of the ten
accordingly ANNULLED and SET ASIDE and said civil cases are DISMISSED. percent (10%) annual interest that had accumulated over the years.
Notwithstanding the receipt of the said demand letter, the respondents still
Costs against petitioners. failed to settle their loan obligation.
On August 6, 2006, the petitioners, who were then residing in Los Angeles,
SO ORDERED. California, United States of America (USA), executed their respective Special
Powers of Attorney6 in favor of Attorney Eldrige Marvin B. Aceron (Atty.
Aceron) for the purpose of filing an action in court against the respondents.
On September 15, 2006, Atty. Aceron, in behalf of the petitioners, filed a
Complaint7 for collection of sum of money with the RTC of Quezon City
against the respondents.
8
On November 21, 2006, the respondents moved for the dismissal of the The CA Decision
complaint filed by the petitioners on the grounds of improper venue and On August 28, 2008, the CA rendered the herein Decision,14 which annulled
prescription.8 Insisting that the venue of the petitioners’ action was and set aside the Orders dated April 12, 2007 and August 27, 2007 of the RTC
improperly laid, the respondents asserted that the complaint against them of Quezon City and, accordingly, directed the dismissal of the complaint filed
may only be filed in the court of the place where either they or the petitioners by the petitioners. The CA held that the complaint below should have been
reside. They averred that they reside in Bacolod City while the petitioners filed in Bacolod City and not in Quezon City. Thus:
reside in Los Angeles, California, USA. Thus, the respondents maintain, the As maybe clearly gleaned from the foregoing, the place of residence of the
filing of the complaint against them in the RTC of Quezon City was improper. plaintiff’s attorney-in-fact is of no moment when it comes to ascertaining the
The RTC Orders venue of cases filed in behalf of the principal since what should be considered
On April 12, 2007, the RTC of Quezon City issued an Order9 which, inter alia, is the residence of the real parties in interest, i.e., the plaintiff or the
denied the respondents’ motion to dismiss. In ruling against the respondents’ defendant, as the case may be. Residence is the permanent home – the place
claim of improper venue, the court explained that: to which, whenever absent for business or pleasure, one intends to return.
Attached to the complaint is the Special Power of Attorney x x x which clearly Residence is vital when dealing with venue. Plaintiffs, herein private
states that plaintiff Nancy Ang constituted Atty. Eldrige Marvin Aceron as her respondents, being residents of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., which is
duly appointed attorney-in-fact to prosecute her claim against herein beyond the territorial jurisdiction of Philippine courts, the case should have
defendants. Considering that the address given by Atty. Aceron is in Quezon been filed in Bacolod City where the defendants, herein petitioners, reside.
City, hence, being the plaintiff, venue of the action may lie where he resides Since the case was filed in Quezon City, where the representative of the
as provided in Section 2, Rule 4 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.10 plaintiffs resides, contrary to Sec. 2 of Rule 4 of the 1997 Rules of Court, the
The respondents sought reconsideration of the RTC Order dated April 12, trial court should have dismissed the case for improper venue.15
2007, asserting that there is no law which allows the filing of a complaint in The petitioners sought a reconsideration of the Decision dated August 28,
the court of the place where the representative, who was appointed as such 2008, but it was denied by the CA in its Resolution dated February 20, 2009.16
by the plaintiffs through a Special Power of Attorney, resides.11 Hence, the instant petition.
The respondents’ motion for reconsideration was denied by the RTC of Issue
Quezon City in its Order12 dated August 27, 2007. In the instant petition, the petitioners submit this lone issue for this Court’s
The respondents then filed with the CA a petition for certiorari13 alleging in resolution:
the main that, pursuant to Section 2, Rule 4 of the Rules of Court, the WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR
petitioners’ complaint may only be filed in the court of the place where they OF LAW WHEN IT RULED THAT THE COMPLAINT MUST BE DISMISSED ON THE
or the petitioners reside. Considering that the petitioners reside in Los GROUND THAT VENUE WAS NOT PROPERLY LAID.17
Angeles, California, USA, the respondents assert that the complaint below The Court’s Ruling
may only be filed in the RTC of Bacolod City, the court of the place where they The petition is denied.
reside in the Philippines. Contrary to the CA’s disposition, the petitioners maintain that their complaint
The respondents further claimed that, the petitioners’ grant of Special Power for collection of sum of money against the respondents may be filed in the
of Attorney in favor of Atty. Aceron notwithstanding, the said complaint may RTC of Quezon City. Invoking Section 3, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, they insist
not be filed in the court of the place where Atty. Aceron resides, i.e., RTC of that Atty. Aceron, being their attorney-in-fact, is deemed a real party in
Quezon City. They explained that Atty. Aceron, being merely a representative interest in the case below and can prosecute the same before the RTC. Such
of the petitioners, is not the real party in interest in the case below; being the case, the petitioners assert, the said complaint for collection of sum
accordingly, his residence should not be considered in determining the of money may be filed in the court of the place where Atty. Aceron resides,
proper venue of the said complaint. which is the RTC of Quezon City.
9
On the other hand, the respondents in their Comment18 assert that the petitioners, being residents of Los Angeles, California, USA, are not given the
petitioners are proscribed from filing their complaint in the RTC of Quezon choice as to the venue of the filing of their complaint.
City. They assert that the residence of Atty. Aceron, being merely a Thus, the CA did not commit any reversible error when it annulled and set
representative, is immaterial to the determination of the venue of the aside the orders of the RTC of Quezon City and consequently dismissed the
petitioners’ complaint. petitioners’ complaint against the respondents on the ground of improper
The petitioners’ complaint should
have been filed in the RTC of
Bacolod City, venue.
the court of the place
where the respondents reside, and
not in RTC of In this regard, it bears stressing that the situs for bringing real and personal
Quezon City. civil actions is fixed by the Rules of Court to attain the greatest convenience
It is a legal truism that the rules on the venue of personal actions are fixed for possible to the litigants and their witnesses by affording them maximum
the convenience of the plaintiffs and their witnesses. Equally settled, accessibility to the courts.23 And even as the regulation of venue is primarily
however, is the principle that choosing the venue of an action is not left to a for the convenience of the plaintiff, as attested by the fact that the choice of
plaintiff’s caprice; the matter is regulated by the Rules of Court.19 venue is given to him, it should not be construed to unduly deprive a resident
The petitioners’ complaint for collection of sum of money against the defendant of the rights conferred upon him by the Rules of Court.24
respondents is a personal action as it primarily seeks the enforcement of a Atty. Aceron is not a real party in
interest in the case below; thus, his

contract. The Rules give the plaintiff the option of choosing where to file his residence is immaterial to the venue
of the filing of the complaint.
complaint. He can file it in the place (1) where he himself or any of them Contrary to the petitioners’ claim, Atty. Aceron, despite being the attorney-
resides, or (2) where the defendant or any of the defendants resides or may in-fact of the petitioners, is not a real party in interest in the case below.
be found. The plaintiff or the defendant must be residents of the place where Section 2, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court reads:
the action has been instituted at the time the action is commenced.20 Sec. 2. Parties in interest. – A real party in interest is the party who stands to
However, if the plaintiff does not reside in the Philippines, the complaint in be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to
such case may only be filed in the court of the place where the defendant the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or these Rules, every
resides. In Cohen and Cohen v. Benguet Commercial Co., Ltd.,21 this Court held action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in
that there can be no election as to the venue of the filing of a complaint when interest. (Emphasis ours)
the plaintiff has no residence in the Philippines. In such case, the complaint Interest within the meaning of the Rules of Court means material interest or
may only be filed in the court of the place where the defendant resides. Thus: an interest in issue to be affected by the decree or judgment of the case, as
Section 377 provides that actions of this character "may be brought in any distinguished from mere curiosity about the question involved.25 A real party
province where the defendant or any necessary party defendant may reside in interest is the party who, by the substantive law, has the right sought to be
or be found, or in any province where the plaintiff or one of the plaintiffs enforced.26
resides, at the election of the plaintiff." The plaintiff in this action has no Applying the foregoing rule, it is clear that Atty. Aceron is not a real party in
residence in the Philippine Islands. Only one of the parties to the action interest in the case below as he does not stand to be benefited or injured by
resides here. There can be, therefore, no election by plaintiff as to the place any judgment therein. He was merely appointed by the petitioners as their
of trial. It must be in the province where the defendant resides. x x x.22 attorney-in-fact for the limited purpose of filing and prosecuting the
(Emphasis ours) complaint against the respondents. Such appointment, however, does not
Here, the petitioners are residents of Los Angeles, California, USA while the mean that he is subrogated into the rights of petitioners and ought to be
respondents reside in Bacolod City. Applying the foregoing principles, the considered as a real party in interest.
petitioners’ complaint against the respondents may only be filed in the RTC Being merely a representative of the petitioners, Atty. Aceron in his personal
of Bacolod City – the court of the place where the respondents reside. The capacity does not have the right to file the complaint below against the
respondents. He may only do so, as what he did, in behalf of the petitioners
10
– the real parties in interest. To stress, the right sought to be enforced in the proceeding. Obviously, this objective will not be attained if the plaintiff is
case below belongs to the petitioners and not to Atty. Aceron. Clearly, an given unrestricted freedom to choose the court where he may file his
attorney-in-fact is not a real party in interest.27 complaint or petition. The choice of venue should not be left to the plaintiff's
The petitioner’s reliance on Section 3, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court to support whim or caprice. He may be impelled by some ulterior motivation in choosing
their conclusion that Atty. Aceron is likewise a party in interest in the case to file a case in a particular court even if not allowed by the rules on venue.30
below is misplaced. Section 3, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court provides that: WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the petition is
Sec. 3. Representatives as parties. – Where the action is allowed to be DENIED. The Decision dated August 28, 2008 and Resolution dated February
prosecuted and defended by a representative or someone acting in a 20, 2009 rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 101159 are
fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of the case and AFFIRMED.
shall be deemed to be the real property in interest. A representative may be SO ORDERED.
a trustee of an expert trust, a guardian, an executor or administrator, or a
party authorized by law or these Rules. An agent acting in his own name and UNIVERSAL ROBINA CORPORATION, G.R. No. 154338
for the benefit of an undisclosed principal may sue or be sued without joining Petitioner,
the principal except when the contract involves things belonging to the Present:
principal. (Emphasis ours)
Nowhere in the rule cited above is it stated or, at the very least implied, that PUNO, C.J., Chairp
the representative is likewise deemed as the real party in interest. The said -versus- SANDOVAL-GUTIE
rule simply states that, in actions which are allowed to be prosecuted or CORONA,
defended by a representative, the beneficiary shall be deemed the real party AZCUNA, and
in interest and, hence, should be included in the title of the case. GARCIA, JJ.
Indeed, to construe the express requirement of residence under the rules on
venue as applicable to the attorney-in-fact of the plaintiff would abrogate the ALBERT LIM, doing business under the name and style New H-
meaning of a "real party in interest", as defined in Section 2 of Rule 3 of the R Grocery,
1997 Rules of Court vis-à-vis Section 3 of the same Rule.28 Respondent.
On this score, the CA aptly observed that:
As may be unerringly gleaned from the foregoing provisions, there is nothing
therein that expressly allows, much less implies that an action may be filed in Promulgated:
the city or municipality where either a representative or an attorney-in-fact
of a real party in interest resides. Sec. 3 of Rule 3 merely provides that the
name or names of the person or persons being represented must be included October 5, 2007
in the title of the case and such person or persons shall be considered the real x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
party in interest. In other words, the principal remains the true party to the
case and not the representative. Under the plain meaning rule, or verba legis, DECISION
if a statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
meaning and applied without interpretation. xxx29 (Citation omitted) Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997
At this juncture, it bears stressing that the rules on venue, like the other Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the Resolutions dated January
procedural rules, are designed to insure a just and orderly administration of 16, 2002 and July 1, 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 67368.
justice or the impartial and even-handed determination of every action and
11
The present controversy stemmed from a contract of sale between Universal
Robina Corporation, petitioner, and Albert Lim, respondent. Pursuant to the It appears that there is no connection whatsoever between Quezon City and
contract, petitioner sold to respondent grocery products in 
the total amount the parties. Plaintiffs official place of business is in Pasig whereas the
of P808,059.88. After tendering partial payments, respondent refused to defendants residence is stated to be in Laoag City both stipulated in the
settle his obligation despite petitioners repeated demands. Complaint. The filing is based on the stipulation at the back of the delivery
receipt that venue shall be in Quezon City --- which is not even stated in the
Thus, on May 31, 1999, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch Complaint nor admitted to have been signed by the defendant.
227, Quezon City, a complaint against respondent for a sum of money,
docketed as Civil Case No. Q-99-37791 WHEREFORE, premises considered, venue is hereby declared to have been
improperly laid. This case is hereby dismissed without prejudice to filing in
On June 22, 1999, the trial court issued an Order dismissing the complaint the proper venue.
motu proprio on grounds of lack of jurisdiction and improper venue, thus:
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the trial
The case is misplaced with respect to jurisdiction and venue. There is not even court in its Resolution dated August 15, 2001.
a remote connection by the parties to Quezon City, where this Regional Trial
Court sits, the plaintiff corporation has principal office at Pasig City and the Petitioner then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review. But it
defendant is, as provided in the complaint, from Laoag City. was dismissed due to petitioners failure to attach thereto an explanation why
copies of the petition were not served by personal service but by registered
Wherefore, premises considered, this case is hereby DISMISSED without mail, in violation of Section 11, Rule 14 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
prejudice for improper venue and for lack of jurisdiction. as amended. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was likewise
denied by the appellate court in a Resolution dated July 1, 2002, thus:
Accordingly, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration together with an
amended complaint alleging that the parties agreed that the proper venue After a careful assessment of the petitioners motion for reconsideration of
for any dispute relative to the transaction is Quezon City. the Resolution dated March 21, 2002 dismissing the instant case for failure to
comply with Section 11, Rule 14, this Court finds the reasons therein alleged
In an Order dated October 11, 1999, the trial court granted the motion and to be not well-taken.
admitted petitioners amended complaint.
Moreover, Supreme Court Circular No. 1-88 and Administrative Circular No.
On December 6, 1999, summons was served upon respondent. For his failure 3-96, provide that subsequent compliance with the requirements of a
to file an answer seasonably and upon motion of petitioner, the trial court petition for review/certiorari shall not warrant reconsideration of the order
issued an Order dated September 12, 2000 declaring him in default and of dismissal unless the court is fully satisfied that the non-compliance with
allowing petitioner to present its evidence ex parte. the said requirements was not in any way attributable to the party, despite
due negligence on his part, and that there are highly justifiable and
However, on April 17, 2001, the trial court, still unsure whether venue was compelling reasons for the court to make such other disposition as it may
properly laid, issued an Order directing petitioner to file a memorandum of deem just and equitable.
authorities on whether it can file a complaint in Quezon City.[] Subsequently,
on May 11, 2001, the trial court again issued an Order dismissing the We find such reasons wanting in the present case.
complaint on the ground of improper venue, thus:
12
Besides, after a restudy of the facts, law and jurisprudence, as well as the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations, the court
dispositions already contained in the assailed Resolutions of public shall dismiss the claim.
respondent, we find the present petition for certiorari to be patently without
merit, and the questions raised therein are too unsubstantial to require Implicit from the above provision is that improper venue not impleaded in
consideration. the motion to dismiss or in the answer is deemed waived. Thus, a court may
not dismiss an action motu proprio on the ground of improper venue as it is
WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is hereby DENIED for utter lack not one of the grounds wherein the court may dismiss an action motu proprio
of merit. on the basis of the pleadings.

Hence, this petition. In Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate Court, this Court held that a trial court
may not motu proprio dismiss a complaint on the ground of improper venue,
The fundamental issue being raised is whether the trial court may dismiss thus:
motu proprio petitioners complaint on the ground of improper venue.
Dismissing the complaint on the ground of improper venue is certainly not
Sections 2 and 4, Rule 4 of the same Rules provide: the appropriate course of action at this stage of the proceedings, particularly
as venue, in inferior courts as well as in the courts of first instance (now RTC),
Sec. 2. Venue of personal actions. All other actions may be commenced and may be waived expressly or impliedly. Where the defendant fails to challenge
tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the timely the venue in a motion to dismiss as provided by Section 4 of Rule 4 of
defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a non- the Rules of Court, and allows the trial to be held and a decision to be
resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff. rendered, he cannot on appeal or in a special action be permitted to belatedly
Sec. 4. When Rule not applicable. This Rule shall not apply challenge the wrong venue, which is deemed waived.
(a) In those cases where a specific rule or law provides otherwise; or
(b) Where the parties have validly agreed in writing before the filing of the Indeed, it was grossly erroneous for the trial court to have taken a procedural
action on the exclusive venue thereof. short-cut by dismissing motu proprio the complaint on the ground of
improper venue without first allowing the procedure outlined in the rules of
Clearly, in personal actions, the plaintiff may commence an action either in court to take its proper course. Although we are for the speedy and
the place of his or her residence or the place where the defendant resides. expeditious resolution of cases, justice and fairness take primary importance.
However, the parties may agree to a specific venue which could be in a place The ends of justice require that respondent trial court faithfully adhere to the
where neither of them resides. rules of procedure to afford not only the defendant, but the plaintiff as well,
the right to be heard on his cause.
Corollarily, Section 1, Rule 9 of the same Rules provides for the instances
when the trial court may motu proprio dismiss a claim, thus: In Rudolf Lietz Holdings Inc. v. Registry of Deeds of Paraaque, the Court
Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. 
Defenses and objections not likewise held that a trial court may not motu proprio dismiss a complaint on
pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. the ground of improper venue, thus:
However, when it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that
the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is another Rule 9, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure states that defenses and
action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that the objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are
deemed waived. The court may only dismiss an action motu proprio in case
13
of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, litis pendentia, res judicata and Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) in the amount of Nine Hundred Million
prescription. Therefore, the trial court in this case erred when it dismissed (P900,000,000) Pesos,[5] and was favorably acted upon by the latter.
the petition motu proprio. It should have waited for a motion to dismiss or a The transaction was secured by Real Estate Mortgages over parcels of land,
responsive pleading from respondent, raising the objection or affirmative covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 64070, located at
defense of improper venue, before dismissing the petition. Mandaluyong City with an area of 24,837 square meters, and registered in
the name of Mr. Looyuko; and TCT No. 3325, also located at Mandaluyong
In the instant case, respondent, despite proper service of summons, failed to City with an area of 14,271 square meters, registered in the name of Noahs
file an answer and was thus declared in default by the trial court. Verily, Ark Sugar Refinery.
having been declared in default, he lost his standing in court and his right to On 21 July 1997, the approved Omnibus Line accommodation granted to
adduce evidence and present his defense, including his right to question the petitioner was subsequently cancelled[6] by respondent UCPB. As a
propriety of the venue of the action. consequence, petitioner Jimmy T. Go demanded from UCPB the return of the
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is GRANTED. The assailed Resolutions two (2) TCTs (No. 64070 and No. 3325) covered by Real Estate Mortgages
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 67368 are REVERSED. The Regional earlier executed. UCPB refused to return the same and proceeded to have
Trial Court, Branch 227, Quezon City is ordered to REINSTATE Civil Case No. the two (2) pre-signed Real Estate Mortgages notarized on 22 July 1997 and
Q-99-37791 and conduct an ex parte hearing for the reception of petitioners caused the registration thereof before the Registry of Deeds of Mandaluyong
evidence and dispose of the case with dispatch. City on 02 September 1997.
SO ORDERED. On 15 June 1999, respondent UCPB filed with the Office of the Clerk of Court
and Ex-Officio Sheriff of Mandaluyong City an extrajudicial foreclosure of real
[G.R. No. 156187. November 11, 2004] estate mortgage[7] covered by TCT No. 64070, for nonpayment of the
JIMMY T. GO, petitioner, vs. UNITED COCONUT PLANTERS BANK, ANGELO obligation secured by said mortgage. As a result, the public auction sale of
V. MANAHAN, FRANCISCO C. ZARATE, PERLITA A. URBANO and ATTY. the mortgaged property was set on 11 April 2000 and 03 May 2000.
EDWARD MARTIN, respondents. To protect his interest, petitioner Jimmy T. Go filed a complaint for
DECISION Cancellation of Real Estate Mortgage and damages, with prayer for
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction, against
Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] assailing the Decision[2] dated respondent bank and its officers, namely, Angelo V. Manahan, Francisco C.
31 July 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 62625, the decretal Zarate, Perlita A. Urbano and Atty. Edward E. Martin, together with Ex-Officio
portion of which reads: Sheriff Lydia G. San Juan and Sheriff IV Helder A. Dyangco, with the Regional
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed orders dated June 7, Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 266, docketed as Civil Case No. 67878. The
2000, August 9, 2000 and November 8, 2000 are SET ASIDE. complaint was subsequently amended[8] on 22 May 2000. The amended
Respondent judge is directed to DISMISS Civil Case No. 67878 on the ground complaint alleged, among other things, the following: that petitioner Jimmy
of improper venue.[3] T. Go is a co-owner of the property covered by TCT No. 64070, although the
Petitioner Jimmy T. Go and Alberto T. Looyuko are co-owners of Noahs Ark title is registered only in the name of Looyuko; that respondent bank was
International, Noahs Ark Sugar Carriers, Noahs Ark Sugar Truckers, Noahs Ark aware that he is a co-owner as he was asked to sign two deeds of real estate
Sugar Repacker, Noahs Ark Sugar Insurers, Noahs Ark Sugar Terminal, Noahs mortgage covering the subject property; that the approved omnibus credit
Ark Sugar Building, and Noahs Ark Sugar Refinery. line applied for by him and Looyuko did not materialize and was cancelled by
Sometime in August 1996, petitioner Jimmy T. Go and Alberto T. Looyuko respondent bank on 21 July 1997, so that the pre-signed real estate
applied for an Omnibus Line accommodation with respondent United mortgages were likewise cancelled; that he demanded from respondent bank
that TCTs No. 64070 and No. 3325 be returned to him, but respondent bank
14
refused to do so; that despite the cancellation of the omnibus credit line on 2003 upon prior leave of court for extension. With leave of this Court, private
21 July 1997, respondent bank had the two deeds of real estate mortgage respondents filed their reply to petitioners memorandum.
dated and notarized on 22 July 1997 and caused the extrajudicial foreclosure In his memorandum, petitioner raised a lone issue:
of mortgage constituted on TCT No. 64070; that the auction sale scheduled WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR
on 11 April 2000 and 03 May 2000 be enjoined; that the two real estate WHEN IT FAILED TO APPLY THE LAW AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE ON
mortgages be cancelled and TCTs No. 64070 and No. 3325 be returned to him; THE MATTER BY ISSUING THE QUESTIONED RESOLUTIONS FINDING THAT THE
and that respondent bank and its officers be ordered to pay him moral and CASE A QUO IS A REAL ACTION.
exemplary damages and attorneys fees. Simply put, the issue to be resolved in this case is whether petitioners
On 07 June 2000, respondent bank, instead of filing an answer, filed a motion complaint for cancellation of real estate mortgage is a personal or real action
to dismiss[9] based on the following grounds: 1) that the court has no for the purpose of determining venue.
jurisdiction over the case due to nonpayment of the proper filing and docket In a real action, the plaintiff seeks the recovery of real property, or as
fees; 2) that the complaint was filed in the wrong venue; 3) an indispensable provided for in Section 1, Rule 4,[20] a real action is an action affecting title to
party/real party in interest was not impleaded and, therefore, the complaint or possession of real property, or interest therein. These include partition or
states no cause of action; 4) that the complaint was improperly verified; and condemnation of, or foreclosure of mortgage on, real property. The venue for
5) that petitioner is guilty of forum shopping and submitted an insufficient real actions is the same for regional trial courts and municipal trial courts --
and false certification of non-forum shopping. the court which has territorial jurisdiction over the area where the real
On 07 June 2000, the trial court issued an order[10] granting petitioners property or any part thereof lies.[21]
application for a writ of preliminary injunction. Correspondingly, the auction Personal action is one brought for the recovery of personal property, for the
sale, scheduled on 11 April 2000 and 03 May 2000, was enjoined. enforcement of some contract or recovery of damages for its breach, or for
On 09 August 2000, the trial court denied[11] respondent banks motion to the recovery of damages for the commission of an injury to the person or
dismiss Civil Case No. 67878. A motion for reconsideration[12] was filed, but property.[22] The venue for personal actions is likewise the same for the
the same was likewise denied in an Order[13] dated 08 November 2000. regional and municipal trial courts -- the court of the place where the plaintiff
Respondent bank questioned said orders before the Court of Appeals via a or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant or any of the
petition for certiorari[14] dated 03 January 2001, alleging that the trial court principal defendants resides, at the election of the plaintiff, as indicated in
acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in Section 2 of Rule 4.[23]
issuing an order denying the motion to dismiss and the motion for It is quite clear then that the controlling factor in determining venue for cases
reconsideration thereof. of the above nature is the primary objective for which said cases are filed.
On 31 July 2002, the Court of Appeals[15] set aside the Orders dated 07 June Thus:
2000, 09 August 2000 and 08 November 2000 issued by the trial court and 1. In Commodities Storage & Ice Plant Corp. v. Court of Appeals,[24] this
directed the trial court to dismiss Civil Case No. 67878 on the ground of Court ruled that an action to redeem by the mortgage debtor affects his title
improper venue. to the foreclosed property. If the action is seasonably made, it seeks to erase
A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner,[16] which was denied in from the title of the judgment or mortgage debtor the lien created by
an order dated 14 November 2002.[17] registration of the mortgage and sale. If not made seasonably, it may seek to
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.[18] recover ownership to the land since the purchasers inchoate title to the
On 16 June 2003, the Court gave due course to the petition, and required[19] property becomes consolidated after [the] expiration of the redemption
the parties to file their respective memoranda. Respondents filed their Joint period. Either way, redemption involves the title to the foreclosed property.
Memorandum on 27 August 2003, while petitioner filed his on 25 September It is a real action.

15
2. In Fortune Motors, (Phils.), Inc., v. Court of Appeals,[25] this Court quoting made, it is obvious that this relief is merely the first step to establish plaintiffs
the decision of the Court of Appeals ruled that since an extrajudicial title to [the] real property.
foreclosure of real property results in a conveyance of the title of the property 6. In Land Tenure Administration, et al. v. The Honorable Higinio B.
sold to the highest bidder at the sale, an action to annul the foreclosure sale Macadaeg and Alejandro T. Lim,[29] this Court ruled that where the lessee
is necessarily an action affecting the title of the property sold. It is therefore seeks to establish an interest in an hacienda that runs with the land and one
a real action which should be commenced and tried in the province where that must be respected by the purchaser of the land even if the latter is not a
the property or part thereof lies. party to the original lease contract, the question of whether or not the
3. In Punsalan, Jr. v. Vda. de Lacsamana,[26] this court ruled that while it is standing crop is immovable property become[s] irrelevant, for venue is
true that petitioner does not directly seek the recovery . . . of the property in determined by the nature of the principal claim. Since the lessee is primarily
question, his action for annulment of sale and his claim for damages are interested in establishing his right to recover possession of the land for the
closely intertwined with the issue of ownership of the building which, under purpose of enabling him to gather his share of the crops, his action is real and
the law, is considered immovable property, the recovery of which is must be brought in the locality where the land is situated.
petitioners primary objective. The prevalent doctrine is that an action for the 7. In Espineli & Mojica v. Hon. Santiago and Vda. de Ramirez,[30] the court
annulment or rescission of a sale of real property does not operate to efface ruled that although the main relief sought in the case at bar was the delivery
the fundamental and prime objective and nature of the case, which is to of the certificate of title, said relief, in turn, entirely depended upon who,
recover said real property. It is a real action. Respondent Court, therefore, did between the parties, has a better right to the lot in question. As it is not
not err in dismissing the case on the ground of improper venue which was possible for the court to decide the main relief, without passing upon the
timely raised. claim of the parties with respect to the title to and possession of the lot in
4. In Ruiz v. J. M. Tuason Co., Inc., et al.,[27] the court ruled that although question, the claim shall be determined x x x in the province where [the] said
[a] complaint is entitled to be one for specific performance, yet the fact that property or any part thereof lies.
[complainant] asked that a deed of sale of a parcel of land . . . be issued in his The case of Carandang v. Court of Appeals,[31] is more particularly instructive.
favor and that a transfer certificate of title covering said land be issued to There, we held that an action for nullification of the mortgage documents and
him, shows that the primary objective and nature of the action is to recover foreclosure of the mortgaged property is a real action that affects the title to
the parcel of land itself because to execute in favor of complainant the the property. Thus, venue of the real action is before the court having
conveyance requested there is need to make a finding that he is the owner of jurisdiction over the territory in which the property lies, which is the Court of
the land which in the last analysis resolves itself into an issue of ownership. First Instance of Laguna.
Hence, the action must be commenced in the province where the property is Petitioner in this case contends that a case for cancellation of mortgage is a
situated . . . ." personal action and since he resides at Pasig City, venue was properly laid
5. In Dr. Antonio A. Lizares, Inc. v. Hon. Hermogenes Caluag,[28] this Court therein. He tries to make a point by alluding to the case of Francisco S.
ruled that an action praying that defendant be ordered `to accept the Hernandez v. Rural Bank of Lucena.[32]
payment being made by plaintiff for the lot which the latter contracted to buy Petitioners reliance in the case of Francisco S. Hernandez v. Rural Bank of
on installment basis from the former, to pay plaintiff compensatory damages Lucena[33] is misplaced. Firstly, said case was primarily an action to compel the
and attorneys fees and to enjoin defendant and his agents from repossessing mortgagee bank to accept payment of the mortgage debt and to release the
the lot in question, is one that affects title to the land under Section 3 of Rule mortgage. That action, which is not expressly included in the enumeration
5, of the Rules of Court, and shall be commenced and tried in the province found in Section 2(a) of Rule 4 of the Old Civil Procedure and now under
where the property or any part thereof lies, because, although the immediate Section 1, Rule 4 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, does not involve titles
remedy is to compel the defendant to accept the tender of payment allegedly to the mortgaged lots. It is a personal action and not a real action. The
mortgagee has not foreclosed the mortgage. The plaintiffs title is not in
16
question. They are in possession of the mortgaged lots. Hence, the venue of [G.R. No. L-44351. May 18, 1978.]
the plaintiffs personal action is the place where the defendant or any of the
defendants resides or may be found, or where the plaintiff or any of the HOECHST PHILIPPINES, INC., Petitioner, v. FRANCISCO TORRES and the
plaintiffs resides, at the election of the plaintiff. In the case at bar, the action Honorable PROCORO J. DONATO, Judge of the Court of First Instance of
for cancellation of real estate mortgage filed by herein petitioner was Isabela, Respondents.
primarily an action to compel private respondent bank to return to him the
properties covered by TCTs No. 64070 and No. 3325 over which the bank had Manuel S. Fornacier, Jr. for Petitioner.
already initiated foreclosure proceedings because of the cancellation by the
said respondent bank of the omnibus credit line on 21 July 1997. The prime Melanio T. Singson for Private Respondent.
objective is to recover said real properties. Secondly, Carandang distinctly
articulated that the ruling in Hernandez does not apply where the mortgaged SYNOPSIS
property had already been foreclosed. Here, and as correctly pointed out by
the appellate court, respondent bank had already initiated extrajudicial The Court of First Instance of Isabela took cognizance of private respondent’s
foreclosure proceedings, and were it not for the timely issuance of a complaint for breach of a distributorship contract on the part of the
restraining order secured by petitioner Go in the lower court, the same would petitioner, despite a stipulation in the said contract that venue in case of any
have already been sold at a public auction. litigation arising out of the agreement "shall be in the competent courts of
In a relatively recent case, Asset Privatization Trust v. Court of Appeals,[34] it the Province of Rizal." Petitioner questions the court’s authority to take
was succinctly stated that the prayer for the nullification of the mortgage is a cognizance of the case on the ground of improper venue. Respondents argue
prayer affecting real property, hence, is a real action. that the word "shall" in the stipulation in question should be construed to be
In sum, the cancellation of the real estate mortgage, subject of the instant merely permissive and not mandatory inasmuch as the stipulations in the
petition, is a real action, considering that a real estate mortgage is a real right contract are standard and pre-made giving the distributors no option except
and a real property by itself.[35] An action for cancellation of real estate to take it or leave it, and that to give effect to the stipulation in controversy
mortgage is necessarily an action affecting the title to the property. It is, would be against public policy because it serves the convenience and purpose
therefore, a real action which should be commenced and tried in of petitioner only to the prejudice of small-time distributors.
Mandaluyong City, the place where the subject property lies.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The assailed The Suprme Court ruled that a written agreement as to venue made before
decision dated 31 July 2002 and the Order dated 14 November 2002 denying the filing of an action is not only binding between the parties but also
the motion for reconsideration are hereby AFFIRMED. With costs. enforceable by the court and may not be declared to be against public policy
SO ORDERED. where it is shown that the party concerned is in a position to carry on a
litigation in the stipulated place.

Petition granted

SYLLABUS

1. ID.; ID.; ID.; JUDGE CANNOT ORDER RETURN OF PERSONAL PROPERTY


ATTACHED. — A property levied upon pursuant to a valid order of attachment
issued by a judge of one branch is in custodia legis and cannot be ordered
17
delivered or returned by the judge of another branch of the same court in an Respondent do not deny in their respective answers the clear tenor of the
action for replevin in view of Rule 60, Section 2, par. (c) of the Rules of Court. above-quoted stipulation as to venue in the contract in dispute. It is the
The words "or attachment" were added to the new provision for the purpose position of respondent judge, however, that inasmuch as the contract was "a
of precluding the occurrence of a dismissal situation whereby a judge of one prepared standard form for the defendant-company, wherein blanks were
branch can revoke the order issued by a judge of another branch of the same merely filled up after the party-distributor agreed on the valuation of
court, to the great prejudice of the orderly administration of justice. products which he may order from the company for one year" and "all
stipulations were standard and pre-made by the company, prepared by, as
2. CONTEMPT; INDIRECT CONTEMPT; WHEN NOT PROPER. — A sheriff cannot your Respondent can safely and rightly assume, its legal department" and "it
be held for indirect contempt by the judge of one branch for disobeying his (only) remains upon party-distributor to stamp his approval to the whole
order to take possession of and deliver a personal property that had been contract", hence "plaintiff distributor was given no option whatsoever except
previously attached pursuant to a valid order of the judge of another branch `to take it or leave it’", the word "shall" in the stipulation in question should
of the same court. be construed to be merely permissive and not mandatory. It is argued that
this construction serves not only the exclusive interests of petitioner but also
that of private Respondent.
DECISION
It is further contended in said answer that reading the terms of the contract,
BARREDO, J.: it can be gathered that most likely, it would be petitioner who would have to
sue private respondent, and, therefore, the stipulation as to venue was
Petition for certiorari and prohibition to declare respondent court without meant to apply only to suits to be filed by petitioner. Finally, it is maintained
authority to take cognizance of private respondent’s action for "Breach of that there are no words in the contract expressly restricting the venue to the
Contract with Preliminary Injunction" and to enjoin said court from further courts of Rizal.chanrobles.com.ph : virtual law library
taking any action in said case upon the ground of improper laying of the
venue. Upon the other hand, in the answer of private respondent, he capitalizes on
the theory that inasmuch as petitioner is a multinational company, it is
On April 8, 1976, private respondent, Francisco Torres, filed with respondent against public policy for it to stipulate in any contract that the venue of
Court of First Instance of Isabela complaint in Civil Case No. V-296 alleging actions thereunder should be in any particular place, much less its place of
breach of a distributorship contract on the part of petitioner, Hoechst residence, to the prejudice of small-time distributors, the private Respondent.
Philippines, Inc. On April 14, 1976, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss said It is urged that to give effect to the stipulation in controversy "is to serve the
complaint based on the ground that as the contract, the very actionable convenience and the purpose of the petitioner only; its effect is to discourage,
document invoked in the complaint, provides that" (I)n case of any litigation to deter, to render expensive and uneconomical the filing of suits by small-
arising out of this agreement, the venue of any action shall be in the time company distributors against the petitioner even for extremely
competent courts of the Province of Rizal", venue has been improperly laid in meritorious cases of latter’s breach or violation of such distribution
respondent court, petitioner citing in his said motion principally the ruling of agreement."cralaw virtua1aw library
this Supreme Court in Bautista v. De Borja, 18 SCRA 474. Respondent court
nevertheless denied the said motion to dismiss as well as the motion for The pose taken by respondents does evoke sympathy, but it can hardly carry
reconsideration of that denial, hence the present petition. the day for them. Change or transfer of venue from that fixed in the rules may
be effected upon written agreement of the parties not only before the actual
filing of the action but even after the same has been filed. The settled rule of
18
jurisprudence in this jurisdiction is that a written agreement of the parties as But a cursory inquiry into the respective economic conditions of the parties
to venue, as authorized by Section 3, Rule 4, is not only binding between the herein as reflected in the record before Us does not show that private
parties but also enforceable by the courts. 1 It is only after the action has respondent Francisco Torres is really in no position to carry on a litigation in
been filed already that change or transfer of venue by agreement of the the Province of Rizal, because of his residence or place of business being in
parties is understandably controllable in the discretion of the court. 2 Isabela province. The volume of business covered by the Distributorship
Agreement in question, Annex C of the Petition, and to be handled by private
The agreement in this case was entered into long before the petitioner’s respondent Torres is P700,000. The amount sought to be recovered by said
action was filed. It is clear and unequivocal. The parties therein stipulated respondent in his complaint, Annex A of the Petition, totals more than
that" (I)n case of any litigation arising out of this agreement, the venue of any P300,000. These circumstances preclude, in Our view, the need to apply
action shall be in the competent courts of the Province of Rizal." No further equitable considerations to the case of respondent Torres. It is quite obvious
stipulations are necessary to elicit the thought that both parties agreed that that his economic condition does not warrant non-enforcement of the
any action by either of them would be filed only in the competent courts of stipulation as to venue that he has agreed to. We are persuaded that his
Rizal province exclusively. pretension that he had no alternative but to agree, even if true, does not
merit relief. Considering the nature and volume of the business he has with
Respondent judge rather vehemently argues, however, that under the petitioner, there is nothing oppressive in his being required to litigate out of
circumstances obtaining between the parties, as earlier stated in this his province. After all, for practical reasons, there seems to be justification
decision, it is permissible, notwithstanding Our ruling in Bautista, supra, that also for petitioner to see to it that all suits against it be concentrated in the
the word" shall" in the agreement in question be construed as "may", hence Province of Rizal, as otherwise, considering the nationwide extent of its
not strictly obligatory. Private respondent points out that he had no choice business, it would be greatly inconvenienced if it has to appear in so many
but to sign the "Distributorship Agreement" in question, he being practically provinces everytime an action is filed against it. We are convinced both
at the mercy of petitioner company which is allegedly a multinational parties agreed to the venue in controversy with eyes wide open.
corporation. He maintains that to enforce the agreement literally would
amount to a denial to him, and to other distributors similarly situated, of the IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is granted, the orders of
opportunity to file any suit against petitioner. respondent judge of May 13, 1976 and July 12, 1976 are hereby set aside, and
petitioner’s motion to dismiss private respondent’s complaint in question is
We have given due attention to this posture of respondents. Indeed, there granted. Costs against private respondent Francisco Torres.
may be instances when an agreement as to venue may be so oppressive as to
effectively deny to the party concerned access to the courts by reason of Fernando, Antonio, Aquino, Concepcion Jr., and Santos, JJ., concur.
poverty. The difficulties pictured by respondents that a poor plaintiff from a
distant province may have to encounter in filing suit in a particular place can [G.R. No. 158138. April 12, 2005]
indeed happen. In such an eventuality and depending on the peculiar PHILIPPINE BANK OF, COMMUNICATIONS, petitioner, vs. ELENA LIM,
circumstances of the case, the Court may declare the agreement as to venue RAMON CALDERON, and TRI-ORO INTERNATIONAL TRADING &
to be in effect contrary to public policy, — despite that in general, changes MANUFACTURING CORPORATION, respondents.
and transfers of venue by written agreement of the parties is allowable — DECISION
whenever it is shown that a stipulation as to venue works injustice by PANGANIBAN, J.:
practically denying to the party concerned a fair opportunity to file suit in the A restrictive stipulation on the venue of actions contained in a promissory
place designated by the rules.chanrobles.com : virtual law library note applies to the surety agreement supporting it, because the nature of the
two contracts and the factual circumstances surrounding their execution are
19
intertwined or interconnected. The surety agreement is merely an accessory court] supported [its] order with cases where venue was held to be merely
to the principal loan agreement embodied in the promissory note. Hence, the permissive. A motion for reconsideration of said order was likewise denied.[4]
enforcement of the former depends upon the latter. Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The Case On appeal, the CA ruled that respondents alleged debt was based on the
Before us is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, Promissory Note, which had provided an exclusionary stipulation on venue to
assailing the April 29, 2003 Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR the exclusion of all other courts.[5] The parties Surety Agreement, though
SP No. 69786. The challenged Decision disposed as follows: silent as to venue, was an accessory contract that should have been
WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby interpreted in consonance with the Promissory Note.[6]
GRANTED. The assailed Orders dated June 9, 2000 and January 9, 2002 are Hence, this Petition.[7]
hereby ANNULED and SET ASIDE. Civil Case No. 99-94976 is hereby ordered The Issue
DISMISSED without prejudice to the filing thereof in the venue exclusively Petitioner raises the following issue for our consideration:
stipulated by the parties.[3] Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals had decided the issue of
The Facts venue in a way not in accord with law and applicable decisions of this
The facts are related by the CA as follows: Honorable Court and had thereby departed from the accepted and usual
On September 3, 1999, the Philippine Bank of Communications (hereinafter course of judicial proceedings, as to call for this Honorable Supreme Courts
[petitioner]) filed a complaint against [Respondents Elena Lim, Ramon power of supervision and appellate review.[8]
Calderon and Tri-Oro International Trading & Manufacturing Corporation (Tri- The Courts Ruling
Oro for brevity)] with the Regional Trial Court of Manila for the collection of The Petition is unmeritorious.
a deficiency amounting to P4,014,297.23 exclusive of interest. [Petitioner] Sole Issue:
alleged therein that [respondents] obtained a loan from it and executed a Venue
continuing surety agreement dated November 16, 1995 in favor of At the outset, this Court observes that petitioner took liberties with the
[petitioner] for all loans, credits, etc., that were extended or may be extended stipulated facts to suit its allegations in the present Petition. In its Complaint,
in the future to [respondents]. [Petitioner] granted a renewal of said loan petitioner bank averred that respondents had entered into the Surety
upon [respondents] request, the most recent being on January 21, 1998 as Agreement (SA) to guarantee existing and future credit facilities, and that
evidenced by Promissory Note Renewal BD-Variable No. 8298021001 in the they had executed the Promissory Note (PN) to document their loan.[9] Now,
amount of P3,000,000.00. It was expressly stipulated therein that the venue the bank is claiming that Tri-Oro issued the PN on which the other
for any legal action that may arise out of said promissory note shall be Makati respondents should be made liable as sureties.[10]
City, to the exclusion of all other courts x x x. [Respondents allegedly] failed This strategy is obviously intended to disconnect the SA from the PN and to
to pay said obligation upon maturity. Thus, [petitioner] foreclosed the real support the claim of petitioner that the stipulation on venue does not apply
estate mortgage executed by [respondents] valued at P1,081,600.00 leaving to the SA. However, as will be discussed below, the cause of action to recover
a deficiency balance of P4,014,297.23 as of August 31, 1999. on the basis of the SA is inseparable from that which is based on the PN.
[Respondents] moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground of improper Rule on Venue
venue, invoking the stipulation contained in the last paragraph of the Section 2 of Rule 4 of the Rules of Court provides that personal actions[11]
promissory note with respect to the restrictive/exclusive venue. [The trial must be commenced and tried (1) in the place where the plaintiff resides, or
court] denied said motion asseverating that [petitioner] ha[d] separate (2) where the defendant resides, or (3) in case of non-resident defendants,
causes of action arising from the promissory note and the continuing surety where they may be found, at the choice of the plaintiff.[12] This rule on venue
agreement. Thus, [under] Rule 4, Section 2, of the 1997 Rules of Civil does not apply when the law specifically provides otherwise, or when --
Procedure, as amended, x x x venue was properly laid in Manila. [The trial before the filing of the action -- the contracting parties agree in writing on the
20
exclusive venue thereof.[13] Venue is not jurisdictional and may be waived by Art. 1374. The various stipulations of a contract shall be interpreted together,
the parties.[14] attributing to the doubtful ones that sense which may result from all of them
A stipulation as to venue does not preclude the filing of the action in other taken jointly.
places, unless qualifying or restrictive words are used in the agreement.[15] The aforementioned doctrine is applicable to the present case. Incapable of
In the instant case, the stipulation on the exclusivity of the venue as stated in standing by itself, the SA can be enforced only in conjunction with the PN.
the PN is not at issue. What petitioner claims is that there was no restriction The latter documents the debt that is sought to be collected in the action
on the venue, because none was stipulated in the SA on which petitioner had against the sureties.
allegedly based its suit.[16] Accordingly, the action on the SA may be filed in The factual milieu of the present case shows that the SA was entered into to
Manila, petitioners place of residence. facilitate existing and future loan agreements. Petitioner approved the loan
Petitioner adds that its Complaint filed in the trial court had two causes of covered by the PN, partly because of the SA that assured the payment of the
action: the first was founded on a breach of the PN; and the second, on a principal obligation. The circumstances that related to the issuance of the PN
violation of the SA.[17] Consequently, it was allegedly correct to join the causes and the SA are so intertwined that neither one could be separated from the
of action and to file the case in Manila, per Section 5 of Rule 2 of the Rules of other. It makes no sense to argue that the parties to the SA were not bound
Court, which reads:[18] by the stipulations in the PN.
Section 5. Joinder of Causes of Action. A party may in one pleading assert, in Notably, the PN was a contract of adhesion that petitioner required the
the alternative or otherwise, as many causes of action as he may have against principal debtor to execute as a condition of the approval of the loan. It was
an opposing party, subject to the following conditions: made in the form and language prepared by the bank. By inserting the
xxxxxxxxx provision that Makati City would be the venue for any legal action [that] may
(c) Where the causes of action are between the same parties but pertain to arise out of [the] Promissory Note,[26] petitioner also restricted the venue of
different venue or jurisdictions, the joinder may be allowed in the Regional actions against the sureties. The legal action against the sureties arose not
Trial Court provided one of the causes of action falls within the jurisdiction of only from the SA, but also from the PN.
the said court and venue lies therein.[19] Cause of Action
Surety Agreement Petitioner correctly argues that there are two causes of action contained in
Suretyship arises upon the solidary binding of a person -- deemed the surety its Complaint. A cause of action is a partys act or omission that violates the
-- with the principal debtor, for the purpose of fulfilling an obligation.[20] The rights of the other.[27] Only one suit may be commenced for a single cause of
prestation is not an original and direct obligation for the performance of the action.[28] If two or more suits are instituted on the basis of the same cause of
suretys own act, but merely accessory or collateral to the obligation action, only one case should remain and the others must be dismissed.[29]
contracted by the principal.[21] Although the surety contract is secondary to As against Tri-Oro International Trading & Manufacturing Corporation,
the principal obligation, the surety assumes liability as a regular party to the petitioners cause of action is the alleged failure to pay the debt in violation of
undertaking.[22] the PN; as against Elena Lim and Ramon Calderon, in violation of the SA.
In enforcing a surety contract, the complementary-contracts-construed- Because of the variance between the causes of action, petitioner could have
together doctrine finds application.[23] According to this principle, an filed separate actions against respondents to recover the debt, on condition
accessory contract must be read in its entirety and together with the principal that it could not recover twice from the same cause. It could have proceeded
agreement.[24] This principle is used in construing contractual stipulations in against only one or all of them,[30] as full payment by any one of them would
order to arrive at their true meaning; certain stipulations cannot be have extinguished the obligation.[31] By the same token, respondents could
segregated and then made to control.[25] This no-segregation principle is have been joined as defendants in one suit, because petitioners alleged right
based on Article 1374 of the Civil Code, which we quote: of relief arose from the same transaction or series of transactions that had

21
common questions of fact.[32] To avoid a multiplicity of suits, joinder of parties It appears that sometime on October 28, 1987, Young Auto Supply Co. Inc.
is encouraged by the law. (YASCO) represented by Nemesio Garcia, its president, Nelson Garcia and
The cause of action, however, does not affect the venue of the action. The Vicente Sy, sold all of their shares of stock in Consolidated Marketing &
vital issue in the present case is whether the action against the sureties is Development Corporation (CMDC) to Roxas. The purchase price was
covered by the restriction on venue stipulated in the PN. As earlier stated, the P8,000,000.00 payable as follows: a downpayment of P4,000,000.00 and the
answer is in the affirmative. Since the cases pertaining to both causes of balance of P4,000,000.00 in four post dated checks of P1,000,000.00 each.
action are restricted to Makati City as the proper venue, petitioner cannot Immediately after the execution of the agreement, Roxas took full control of
rely on Section 5 of Rule 2 of the Rules of Court. the four markets of CMDC. However, the vendors held on to the stock
Liberal Construction certificates of CMDC as security pending full payment of the balance of the
Petitioners final plea for liberality in applying the rules on venue must be purchase price.
rejected. As earlier discussed, the PN was a contract of adhesion. Ambiguities The first check of P4,000,000.00, representing the down-payment, was
therein are to be construed against the party that prepared the contract.[33] honored by the drawee bank but the four other checks representing the
On the same principle, petitioner can no longer disavow the stipulation on balance of P4,000,000.00 were dishonored. In the meantime, Roxas sold one
venue, considering that it drafted the Surety Agreement. Besides, this alleged of the markets to a third party. Out of the proceeds of the sale, YASCO
technicality caused no miscarriage of substantial justice, as petitioner may received P600,000.00, leaving a balance of P3,400,000.00 (Rollo, p. 176).
refile the case.[34] The inconveniences brought about by its failure to observe Subsequently, Nelson Garcia and Vicente Sy assigned all their rights and title
the rules on venue sprang from its own acts. Hence, it cannot blame the to the proceeds of the sale of the CMDC shares to Nemesio Garcia.
courts or anyone else for the resulting delay in the adjudication of the merits On June 10, 1988, petitioners filed a complaint against Roxas in the Regional
of its cause. Trial Court, Branch 11, Cebu City, praying that Roxas be ordered to pay
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. petitioners the sum of P3,400,00.00 or that full control of the three markets
Costs against petitioner. be turned over to YASCO and Garcia. The complaint also prayed for the
SO ORDERED. forfeiture of the partial payment of P4,600,000.00 and the payment of
attorney's fees and costs (Rollo, p. 290).
G.R. No. 104175 June 25, 1993 Roxas filed two motions for extension of time to submit his answer. But
YOUNG AUTO SUPPLY CO. AND NEMESIO GARCIA, petitioners, despite said motion, he failed to do so causing petitioners to file a motion to
vs. have him declared in default. Roxas then filed, through a new counsel, a third
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (THIRTEENTH DIVISION) AND GEORGE motion for extension of time to submit a responsive pleading.
CHIONG ROXAS, respondents. On August 19, 1988, the trial court declared Roxas in default. The order of
Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala & Cruz for petitioners. default was, however, lifted upon motion of Roxas.
Antonio Nuyles for private respondent. On August 22, 1988, Roxas filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that:
1. The complaint did not state a cause of action due to non-joinder of
QUIASON, J.: indispensable parties;
Petitioners seek to set aside the decision of respondent Court of Appeals in 2. The claim or demand set forth in the complaint had been waived,
CA-G.R. SP No. 25237, which reversed the Order dated February 8, 1991 abandoned or otherwise extinguished; and
issued by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Cebu City in Civil Case No. CEB 3. The venue was improperly laid (Rollo, p. 299).
6967. The order of the trial court denied the motion to dismiss filed by After a hearing, wherein testimonial and documentary evidence were
respondent George C. Roxas of the complaint for collection filed by presented by both parties, the trial court in an Order dated February 8, 1991
petitioners. denied Roxas' motion to dismiss. After receiving said order, Roxas filed
22
another motion for extension of time to submit his answer. He also filed a There are two plaintiffs in the case at bench: a natural person and a domestic
motion for reconsideration, which the trial court denied in its Order dated corporation. Both plaintiffs aver in their complaint that they are residents of
April 10, 1991 for being pro-forma (Rollo, p. 17). Roxas was again declared in Cebu City, thus:
default, on the ground that his motion for reconsideration did not toll the 1.1. Plaintiff Young Auto Supply Co., Inc., ("YASCO") is a domestic corporation
running of the period to file his answer. duly organized and existing under Philippine laws with principal place of
On May 3, 1991, Roxas filed an unverified Motion to Lift the Order of Default business at M. J. Cuenco Avenue, Cebu City. It also has a branch office at 1708
which was not accompanied with the required affidavit or merit. But without Dominga Street, Pasay City, Metro Manila.
waiting for the resolution of the motion, he filed a petition for certiorari with Plaintiff Nemesio Garcia is of legal age, married, Filipino citizen and with
the Court of Appeals. business address at Young Auto Supply Co., Inc., M. J. Cuenco Avenue, Cebu
The Court of Appeals sustained the findings of the trial court with regard to City. . . . (Complaint, p. 1; Rollo, p. 81).
the first two grounds raised in the motion to dismiss but ordered the dismissal The Article of Incorporation of YASCO (SEC Reg. No. 22083) states:
of the complaint on the ground of improper venue (Rollo, p. 49). THIRD That the place where the principal office of the corporation is to be
A subsequent motion for reconsideration by petitioner was to no avail. established or located is at Cebu City, Philippines (as amended on December
Petitioners now come before us, alleging that the Court of Appeals 20, 1980 and further amended on December 20, 1984) (Rollo, p. 273).
erred in: A corporation has no residence in the same sense in which this term is applied
1. holding the venue should be in Pasay City, and not in Cebu City (where both to a natural person. But for practical purposes, a corporation is in a
petitioners/plaintiffs are residents; metaphysical sense a resident of the place where its principal office is located
2. not finding that Roxas is estopped from questioning the choice of venue as stated in the articles of incorporation (Cohen v. Benguet Commercial Co.,
(Rollo, p. 19). Ltd., 34 Phil. 256 [1916] Clavecilla Radio System v. Antillon, 19 SCRA 379
The petition is meritorious. [1967]). The Corporation Code precisely requires each corporation to specify
In holding that the venue was improperly laid in Cebu City, the Court of in its articles of incorporation the "place where the principal office of the
Appeals relied on the address of YASCO, as appearing in the Deed of Sale corporation is to be located which must be within the Philippines" (Sec. 14
dated October 28, 1987, which is "No. 1708 Dominga Street, Pasay City." This [3]). The purpose of this requirement is to fix the residence of a corporation
was the same address written in YASCO's letters and several commercial in a definite place, instead of allowing it to be ambulatory.
documents in the possession of Roxas (Decision, p. 12; Rollo, p. 48). In Clavencilla Radio System v. Antillon, 19 SCRA 379 ([1967]), this Court
In the case of Garcia, the Court of Appeals said that he gave Pasay City as his explained why actions cannot be filed against a corporation in any place
address in three letters which he sent to Roxas' brothers and sisters (Decision, where the corporation maintains its branch offices. The Court ruled that to
p. 12; Rollo, p. 47). The appellate court held that Roxas was led by petitioners allow an action to be instituted in any place where the corporation has branch
to believe that their residence is in Pasay City and that he had relied upon offices, would create confusion and work untold inconvenience to said entity.
those representations (Decision, p. 12, Rollo, p. 47). By the same token, a corporation cannot be allowed to file personal actions
The Court of Appeals erred in holding that the venue was improperly laid in in a place other than its principal place of business unless such a place is also
Cebu City. the residence of a co-plaintiff or a defendant.
In the Regional Trial Courts, all personal actions are commenced and tried in If it was Roxas who sued YASCO in Pasay City and the latter questioned the
the province or city where the defendant or any of the defendants resides or venue on the ground that its principal place of business was in Cebu City,
may be found, or where the plaintiff or any of the plaintiffs resides, at the Roxas could argue that YASCO was in estoppel because it misled Roxas to
election of the plaintiff [Sec. 2(b) Rule 4, Revised Rules of Court]. believe that Pasay City was its principal place of business. But this is not the
case before us.

23
With the finding that the residence of YASCO for purposes of venue is in Cebu Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City." The other defendants (herein
City, where its principal place of business is located, it becomes unnecessary respondents Fish and Mascrinas) are officers of respondent AMEX, and may
to decide whether Garcia is also a resident of Cebu City and whether Roxas be served with summons and other court processes at their office address.
was in estoppel from questioning the choice of Cebu City as the venue. The complaint's cause of action stemmed from the alleged wrongful dishonor
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals of petitioner Saludo's AMEX credit card and the supplementary card issued
appealed from is SET ASIDE and the Order dated February 8, 1991 of the to his daughter. The first dishonor happened when petitioner Saludo's
Regional Trial Court is REINSTATED. daughter used her supplementary credit card to pay her purchases in the
SO ORDERED. United States some time in April 2000. The second dishonor occurred when
petitioner Saludo used his principal credit card to pay his account at the Hotel
G.R. No. 159507 April 19, 2006 Okawa in Tokyo, Japan while he was there with other delegates from the
ANICETO G. SALUDO, JR., Petitioner, Philippines to attend the Congressional Recognition in honor of Mr. Hiroshi
vs. Tanaka.
AMERICAN EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL, INC., and/or IAN T. FISH and The dishonor of these AMEX credit cards were allegedly unjustified as they
DOMINIC MASCRINAS, Respondents. resulted from respondents' unilateral act of suspending petitioner Saludo's
DECISION account for his failure to pay its balance covering the period of March 2000.
CALLEJO, SR., J.: Petitioner Saludo denied having received the corresponding statement of
Before the Court is the Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by Aniceto G. account. Further, he was allegedly wrongfully charged for late payment in
Saludo, Jr. seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision1 dated May 22, 2003 June 2000. Subsequently, his credit card and its supplementary cards were
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 69553. The assailed decision canceled by respondents on July 20, 2000.
directed the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Maasin City, Southern Leyte, Branch Petitioner Saludo claimed that he suffered great inconvenience, wounded
25 thereof, to vacate and set aside its Orders dated September 10, 2001 and feelings, mental anguish, embarrassment, humiliation and besmirched
January 2, 2002 in Civil Case No. R-3172, and enjoined the presiding judge2 political and professional standing as a result of respondents' acts which were
thereof from conducting further proceedings in said case, except to dismiss committed in gross and evident bad faith, and in wanton, reckless and
the complaint filed therewith on ground of improper venue. The petition also oppressive manner. He thus prayed that respondents be adjudged to pay him,
seeks to reverse and set aside the appellate court's Resolution dated August jointly and severally, actual, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney's
14, 2003 denying the motion for reconsideration of the assailed decision. fees.
The factual and procedural antecedents are as follows: In their answer, respondents specifically denied the allegations in the
Aniceto G. Saludo, Jr. filed a complaint for damages against the American complaint. Further, they raised the affirmative defenses of lack of cause of
Express International, Inc. (AMEX) and/or its officers Ian T. Fish, Vice- action and improper venue. On the latter, respondents averred that the
President and Country Manager, and Dominic Mascrinas, Head of Operations, complaint should be dismissed on the ground that venue was improperly laid
with the RTC of Maasin City, Southern Leyte. The case was raffled to Branch because none of the parties was a resident of Leyte. They alleged that
25 of the said court. respondents were not residents of Southern Leyte. Moreover,
The complaint alleged, inter alia, that plaintiff (herein petitioner Saludo) "is a notwithstanding the claim in his complaint, petitioner Saludo was not
Filipino citizen, of legal age, and a member of the House of Representatives allegedly a resident thereof as evidenced by the fact that his community tax
and a resident of Ichon, Macrohon, Southern Leyte, Philippines." On the other certificate, which was presented when he executed the complaint's
hand, defendant (herein respondent AMEX, Inc.) "is a corporation doing verification and certification of non-forum shopping, was issued at Pasay City.
business in the Philippines and engaged in providing credit and other credit To buttress their contention, respondents pointed out that petitioner
facilities and allied services with office address at 4th floor, ACE Building, Rada
24
Saludo's complaint was prepared in Pasay City and signed by a lawyer of the Respondents sought the reconsideration thereof but the court a quo denied
said city. Respondents prayed for the dismissal of the complaint a quo. the same in the Order dated January 2, 2002. They then filed with the
Thereafter, respondents filed an Opposition to Ex-Parte Motion (to Set Case appellate court a petition for certiorari and prohibition alleging grave abuse
for Pre-Trial) and Motion for Preliminary Hearing (on Affirmative Defense of of discretion on the part of the presiding judge of the court a quo in issuing
Improper Venue) to which petitioner Saludo filed his Comments and/or the September 10, 2001 and January 2, 2002 Orders. Upon respondents'
Objections to the Affirmative Defense of Improper Venue. He asserted that posting of a bond, the appellate court issued on March 14, 2002 a temporary
any allegation refuting his residency in Southern Leyte was baseless and restraining order which enjoined the presiding judge of the court a quo from
unfounded considering that he was the congressman of the lone district conducting further proceedings in Civil Case No. R-3172.
thereof at the time of the filing of his complaint. He urged the court a quo to On May 22, 2003, the appellate court rendered the assailed decision granting
take judicial notice of this particular fact. As a member of Congress, he respondents' petition for certiorari as it found that venue was improperly
possessed all the qualifications prescribed by the Constitution including that laid. It directed the court a quo to vacate and set aside its Orders dated
of being a resident of his district. He was also a member of the Integrated Bar September 10, 2001 and January 2, 2002, and enjoined the presiding judge
of the Philippines-Southern Leyte Chapter, and has been such ever since his thereof from further proceeding in the case, except to dismiss the complaint.
admission to the Bar. His community tax certificate was issued at Pasay City The appellate court explained that the action filed by petitioner Saludo
only because he has an office thereat and the office messenger obtained the against respondents is governed by Section 2, Rule 4 of the Rules of Court.
same in the said city. In any event, the community tax certificate is not The said rule on venue of personal actions basically provides that personal
determinative of one's residence. actions may be commenced and tried where plaintiff or any of the principal
In the Order dated September 10, 2001, the court a quo denied the plaintiffs resides, or where defendant or any of the principal defendants
affirmative defenses interposed by respondents. It found the allegations of resides, at the election of plaintiff.
the complaint sufficient to constitute a cause of action against respondents. Venue was improperly laid in the court a quo, according to the appellate
The court a quo likewise denied respondents' affirmative defense that venue court, because not one of the parties was a resident of Southern Leyte.
was improperly laid. It reasoned, thus: Specifically, it declared that petitioner Saludo was not a resident thereof. The
x x x [T]he fact alone that the plaintiff at the time he filed the complaint was appellate court pronounced that, for purposes of venue, the residence of a
and still is, the incumbent Congressman of the Lone District of Southern Leyte person is his personal, actual or physical habitation, or his actual residence or
with residence at Ichon, Macrohon, Southern Leyte, is enough to dispell any place of abode, which may not necessarily be his legal residence or domicile
and all doubts about his actual residence. As a high-ranking government provided he resides therein with continuity and consistency.4
official of the province, his residence there can be taken judicial notice of. As The appellate court quoted the following discussion in Koh v. Court of
such his personal, actual and physical habitation or his actual residence or Appeals5 where the Court distinguished the terms "residence" and "domicile"
place of abode can never be in some other place but in Ichon, Macrohon, in this wise:
Southern Leyte. It is correctly stated by the plaintiff, citing the case of Core v. x x x [T]he term domicile is not exactly synonymous in legal contemplation
Core, 100 Phil. 321 that, "residence, for purposes of fixing venue of an action, with the term residence, for it is [an] established principle in Conflict of Laws
is synonymous with domicile. This is defined as the permanent home, the that domicile refers to the relatively more permanent abode of a person while
place to which, whenever absent for business or pleasure, one intends to residence applies to a temporary stay of a person in a given place. In fact, this
return, and depends on the facts and circumstances, in the sense that they distinction is very well emphasized in those cases where the Domiciliary
disclose intent. A person can have but one domicile at a time. A man can have Theory must necessarily supplant the Nationality Theory in cases involving
but one domicile for one and the same purpose at any time, but he may have stateless persons.
numerous places of residence. Venue could be at place of his residence. xxxx
(Masa v. Mison, 200 SCRA 715 [1991])3
25
"There is a difference between domicile and residence. Residence is used to venue of actions that the situs for bringing real and personal civil actions is
indicate a place of abode, whether permanent or temporary; domicile fixed by the rules to attain the greatest possible convenience to the party
denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when absent, one has the litigants by taking into consideration the maximum accessibility to them - i.e.,
intention of returning. A man may have a residence in one place and a to both plaintiff and defendant, not only to one or the other - of the courts of
domicile in another. Residence is not domicile, but domicile is residence justice.10
coupled with intention to remain for an unlimited time. A man can have but The appellate court concluded that the court a quo should have given due
one domicile for one and the same purpose at any time, but he may have course to respondents' affirmative defense of improper venue in order to
numerous places of residence. His place of residence generally is his place of avoid any suspicion that petitioner Saludo's motive in filing his complaint with
domicile, but is not by any means, necessarily so since no length of residence the court a quo was only to vex and unduly inconvenience respondents or
without intention of remaining will constitute domicile."6 (Italicized for even to wield influence in the outcome of the case, petitioner Saludo being a
emphasis) powerful and influential figure in the said province. The latter circumstance
In holding that petitioner Saludo is not a resident of Maasin City, Southern could be regarded as a "specie of forum shopping" akin to that in Investors
Leyte, the appellate court referred to his community tax certificate, as Finance Corp. v. Ebarle11 where the Court mentioned that the filing of the civil
indicated in his complaint's verification and certification of non-forum action before the court in Pagadian City "was a specie of forum shopping"
shopping, which was issued at Pasay City. Similarly, it referred to the same considering that plaintiff therein was an influential person in the locality.
community tax certificate, as indicated in his complaint for deportation filed The decretal portion of the assailed Decision dated May 22, 2003 of the
against respondents Fish and Mascrinas. Under Republic Act No. 7160,7 the appellate court reads:
community tax certificate shall be paid in the place of residence of the UPON THE VIEW WE TAKE OF THIS CASE, THUS, the challenged orders must
individual, or in the place where the principal office of the juridical entity is be, as they hereby are, VACATED and SET ASIDE and the respondent judge, or
located.8 It also pointed out that petitioner Saludo's law office, which was also any one acting in his place or stead, is instructed and enjoined to desist from
representing him in the present case, is in Pasay City. The foregoing further proceeding in the case, except to dismiss it. The temporary restraining
circumstances were considered by the appellate court as judicial admissions order earlier issued is hereby converted into a writ of preliminary injunction,
of petitioner Saludo which are conclusive upon him and no longer required upon the posting this time by petitioners [herein respondents], within five (5)
proof. days from receipt of this decision, of a bond in the amount of Five Million
The appellate court chided the court a quo for stating that as incumbent Pesos (P5,000,000.00), to answer for all damages that private respondent
congressman of the lone district of Southern Leyte, judicial notice could be [herein petitioner] may sustain by reason of the issuance of such injunction
taken of the fact of petitioner Saludo's residence thereat. No evidence had should the Court finally decide that petitioners are not entitled thereto.
yet been adduced that petitioner Saludo was then the congressman of Private respondent, if he so minded, may refile his case for damages before
Southern Leyte and actual resident of Ichon, Macrohon of the said province. the Regional Trial Court of Makati City or Pasay City, or any of the Regional
The appellate court held that, based on his complaint, petitioner Saludo was Trial Courts of the National Capital Judicial Region. Without costs.
actually residing in Pasay City. It faulted him for filing his complaint with the SO ORDERED.12
court a quo when the said venue is inconvenient to the parties to the case. It Petitioner Saludo sought the reconsideration of the said decision but the
opined that under the rules, the possible choices of venue are Pasay City or appellate court, in the Resolution dated August 14, 2003, denied his motion
Makati City, or any place in the National Capital Judicial Region, at the option for reconsideration. Hence, he filed the instant petition for review with the
of petitioner Saludo. Court alleging that:
It stressed that while the choice of venue is given to plaintiff, said choice is The Court of Appeals, (Special Fourth Division), in promulgating the afore-
not left to his caprice and cannot deprive a defendant of the rights conferred mentioned Decision and Resolution, has decided a question of substance in a
upon him by the Rules of Court.9 Further, fundamental in the law governing
26
way probably not in accord with law or with applicable decisions of this However, the appellate court, adopting respondents' theory, made the
Honorable Court. finding that petitioner Saludo was not a resident of Southern Leyte at the time
(a) the Court of Appeals erred in not taking judicial notice of the undisputed of the filing of his complaint. It hinged the said finding mainly on the fact that
fact that herein petitioner is the incumbent congressman of the lone district petitioner Saludo's community tax certificate, indicated in his complaint's
of Southern Leyte and as such, he is a residence (sic) of said district; verification and certification of non-forum shopping, was issued at Pasay City.
(b) the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the complaint on the basis of That his law office is in Pasay City was also taken by the appellate court as
improper venue due to the alleged judicial admission of herein petitioner; negating petitioner Saludo's claim of residence in Southern Leyte.
(c) the Court of Appeals in dismissing the complaint ignored applicable The appellate court committed reversible error in finding that petitioner
decisions of this Honorable Court; and1avvphil.net Saludo was not a resident of Southern Leyte at the time of the filing of his
(d) the Court of Appeals erred in deciding that herein petitioner violated the complaint, and consequently holding that venue was improperly laid in the
rules on venue, and even speculated that herein petitioner's motive in filing court a quo. In Dangwa Transportation Co., Inc. v. Sarmiento,17 the Court had
the complaint in Maasin City was only to vex the respondents.13 the occasion to explain at length the meaning of the term "resides" for
In gist, the sole substantive issue for the Court's resolution is whether the purposes of venue, thus:
appellate court committed reversible error in holding that venue was In Koh v. Court of Appeals, we explained that the term "resides" as employed
improperly laid in the court a quo in Civil Case No. R-3172 because not one of in the rule on venue on personal actions filed with the courts of first instance
the parties, including petitioner Saludo, as plaintiff therein, was a resident of means the place of abode, whether permanent or temporary, of the plaintiff
Southern Leyte at the time of filing of the complaint. or the defendant, as distinguished from "domicile" which denotes a fixed
The petition is meritorious. permanent residence to which, when absent, one has the intention of
Petitioner Saludo's complaint for damages against respondents before the returning.
court a quo is a personal action. As such, it is governed by Section 2, Rule 4 of "It is fundamental in the law governing venue of actions (Rule 4 of the Rules
the Rules of Courts which reads: of Court) that the situs for bringing real and personal civil actions are fixed by
SEC. 2. Venue of personal actions. - All other actions may be commenced and the rules to attain the greatest convenience possible to the parties-litigants
tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the by taking into consideration the maximum accessibility to them of the courts
defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a non- of justice. It is, likewise, undeniable that the term domicile is not exactly
resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff. synonymous in legal contemplation with the term residence, for it is an
The choice of venue for personal actions cognizable by the RTC is given to established principle in Conflict of Laws that domicile refers to the relatively
plaintiff but not to plaintiff's caprice because the matter is regulated by the more permanent abode of a person while residence applies to a temporary
Rules of Court.14 The rule on venue, like other procedural rules, is designed to stay of a person in a given place. In fact, this distinction is very well
insure a just and orderly administration of justice, or the impartial and emphasized in those cases where the Domiciliary Theory must necessarily
evenhanded determination of every action and proceeding.15 The option of supplant the Nationality Theory in cases involving stateless persons.
plaintiff in personal actions cognizable by the RTC is either the place where "This Court held in the case of Uytengsu v. Republic, 50 O.G. 4781, October,
defendant resides or may be found, or the place where plaintiff resides. If 1954, reversing its previous stand in Larena v. Ferrer, 61 Phil. 36, and Nuval
plaintiff opts for the latter, he is limited to that place.16 v. Guray, 52 Phil. 645, that -
Following this rule, petitioner Saludo, as plaintiff, had opted to file his 'There is a difference between domicile and residence. Residence is used to
complaint with the court a quo which is in Maasin City, Southern Leyte. He indicate a place of abode, whether permanent or temporary; domicile
alleged in his complaint that he was a member of the House of denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when absent, one has the
Representatives and a resident of Ichon, Macrohon, Southern Leyte to intention of returning. A man may have a residence in one place and a
comply with the residency requirement of the rule. domicile in another. Residence is not domicile, but domicile is residence
27
coupled with the intention to remain for an unlimited time. A man can have the technical sense. Some cases make a distinction between the terms
but one domicile for one and the same purpose at any time, but he may have 'residence' and 'domicile' but as generally used in statutes fixing venue, the
numerous places of residence. His place of residence generally is his place of terms are synonymous, and convey the same meaning as the term
domicile, but is not by any means, necessarily so since no length of residence 'inhabitant.' In other words, 'resides' should be viewed or understood in its
without intention of remaining will constitute domicile.' (Italicized for popular sense, meaning, the personal, actual or physical habitation of a
emphasis) person, actual residence or place of abode. It signifies physical presence in a
"We note that the law on venue in Courts of First Instance (Section 2, of Rule place and actual stay thereat. In this popular sense, the term means merely
4, Rules of Court) in referring to the parties utilizes the words 'resides or may residence, that is, personal residence, not legal residence or domicile.
be found,' and not 'is domiciled,' thus: Residence simply requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place,
'Sec. 2(b) Personal actions - All other actions may be commenced and tried while domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to
where the defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be found, or make it one's domicile. No particular length of time of residence is required
where the plaintiff or any of the plaintiffs resides, at the election of the though; however, the residence must be more than temporary."18
plaintiff.' (Italicized for emphasis) There is no dispute that petitioner Saludo was the congressman or the
"Applying the foregoing observation to the present case, We are fully representative of the lone district of Southern Leyte at the time of filing of his
convinced that private respondent Coloma's protestations of domicile in San complaint with the court a quo. Even the appellate court admits this fact as it
Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, based on his manifested intention to return there after states that "it may be conceded that private respondent ever so often travels
the retirement of his wife from government service to justify his bringing of to Maasin City, Southern Leyte, because he is its representative in the lower
an action for damages against petitioner in the C.F.I. of Ilocos Norte, is house."19
entirely of no moment since what is of paramount importance is where he As a member of the House of Representatives, petitioner Saludo was
actually resided or where he may be found at the time he brought the action, correctly deemed by the court a quo as possessing the requirements for the
to comply substantially with the requirements of Sec. 2(b) of Rule 4, Rules of said position,20 including that he was then a resident of the district which he
Court, on venue of personal actions." (Koh v. Court of Appeals, supra, pp. 304- was representing, i.e., Southern Leyte. Significantly, for purposes of election
305.) law, the term "residence" is synonymous with "domicile," thus:
The same construction of the word "resides" as used in Section 1, Rule 73, of x x x [T]he Court held that "domicile" and "residence" are synonymous. The
the Revised Rules of Court, was enunciated in Fule v. Court of Appeals, et al. term "residence," as used in the election law, imports not only an intention
(G.R. No. L-40502) and Fule v. Hon. Ernani C. Paño, et al. (G.R. No. L-42670), to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled
decided on November 29, 1976. Thus, this Court, in the aforecited cases, with conduct indicative of such intention. "Domicile" denotes a fixed
stated: permanent residence to which when absent for business or pleasure, or for
"2. But, the far-ranging question is this: What does the term 'resides' mean? like reasons, one intends to return. x x x21
Does it refer to the actual residence or domicile of the decedent at the time It can be readily gleaned that the definition of "residence" for purposes of
of his death? We lay down the doctrinal rule that the term 'resides' connotes election law is more stringent in that it is equated with the term "domicile."
ex vi termini 'actual residence' as distinguished from 'legal residence or Hence, for the said purpose, the term "residence" imports "not only an
domicile.' This term 'resides,' like the terms 'residing' and 'residence' is elastic intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place,
and should be interpreted in the light of the object or purposes of the statute coupled with conduct indicative of such intention."22 When parsed, therefore,
or rule in which it is employed. In the application of venue statutes and rules the term "residence" requires two elements: (1) intention to reside in the
- Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Rules of Court is of such nature - residence particular place; and (2) personal or physical presence in that place, coupled
rather than domicile is the significant factor. Even where the statute uses the with conduct indicative of such intention. As the Court elucidated, "the place
word 'domicile' still it is construed as meaning residence and not domicile in where a party actually or constructively has a permanent home, where he, no
28
matter where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return but he also had personal presence therein, coupled with conduct indicative
and remain, i.e., his domicile, is that to which the Constitution refers when it of such intention. The latter element, or his bodily presence as an inhabitant
speaks of residence for the purposes of election law."23 in Southern Leyte, was sufficient for petitioner Saludo to be considered a
On the other hand, for purposes of venue, the less technical definition of resident therein for purposes of venue.
"residence" is adopted. Thus, it is understood to mean as "the personal, The following ratiocination of the court a quo is apt:
actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode. Residence in civil law is a material fact, referring to the physical presence of
It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this popular a person in a place. A person can have two or more residences, such as a
sense, the term means merely residence, that is, personal residence, not legal country residence and a city residence. (Quetulio v. Ruiz, S.C. Off. Gaz. 156,
residence or domicile. Residence simply requires bodily presence as an Commentaries and Jurisprudence in Civil Law, Vol. 1, page 211, Tolentino).
inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that Residence is acquired by living in a place; on the other hand, domicile can
place and also an intention to make it one's domicile."24 exist without actually living in the place. The important thing for domicile is
Since petitioner Saludo, as congressman or the lone representative of the that, once residence has been established in one place, there be an intention
district of Southern Leyte, had his residence (or domicile) therein as the term to stay there permanently, even if residence is also established in some other
is construed in relation to election laws, necessarily, he is also deemed to place.
have had his residence therein for purposes of venue for filing personal Thus, if a person lives with his family habitually in Quezon City, he would have
actions. Put in another manner, Southern Leyte, as the domicile of petitioner his domicile in Quezon City. If he also has a house for vacation purposes in
Saludo, was also his residence, as the term is understood in its popular sense. the City of Baguio, and another house in connection with his business in the
This is because "residence is not domicile, but domicile is residence coupled City of Manila, he would have residence in all three places (Tolentino,
with the intention to remain for an unlimited time." Commentaries and Jurisprudence on Civil Law, Vol. 1, Page 212, 1990 Edition)
Reliance by the appellate court on Koh v. Court of Appeals25 is misplaced. so that one[']s legal residence or domicile can also be his actual, personal or
Contrary to its holding,26 the facts of the present case are not similar to the physical residence or habitation or place of abode if he stays there with
facts therein. In Koh, the complaint was filed with the Court of First Instance intention to stay there permanently.
in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte by plaintiff who admitted that he was a resident In the instant case, since plaintiff has a house in Makati City for the purpose
of Kamias, Quezon City. Save for the fact that he grew up in San Nicolas, Ilocos of exercising his profession or doing business and also a house in Ichon,
Norte and that he manifested the intent to return there after retirement, Macrohon, Southern Leyte, for doing business and/or for election or political
plaintiff therein had not established that he was actually a resident therein at purposes where he also lives or stays physically, personally and actually then
the time of the filing of his complaint. Neither did he establish that he had his he can have residences in these two places. Because it would then be
domicile therein because although he manifested the intent to go back there preposterous to acknowledge and recognize plaintiff Aniceto G. Saludo, Jr. as
after retirement, the element of personal presence in that place was lacking. congressman of Southern Leyte without also recognizing him as actually,
To reiterate, domicile or residence, as the terms are taken as synonyms, personally and physically residing thereat, when such residence is required
imports "not only an intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal by law.28
presence in that place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention."27 The fact then that petitioner Saludo's community tax certificate was issued at
In contrast, petitioner Saludo was the congressman or representative of Pasay City is of no moment because granting arguendo that he could be
Southern Leyte at the time of filing of his complaint with the court a quo. considered a resident therein, the same does not preclude his having a
Absent any evidence to the contrary, he is deemed to possess the residence in Southern Leyte for purposes of venue. A man can have but one
qualifications for the said position, including that he was a resident therein. domicile for one and the same purpose at any time, but he may have
And following the definition of the term "residence" for purposes of election numerous places of residence.29
law, petitioner Saludo not only had the intention to reside in Southern Leyte,
29
That petitioner Saludo was the congressman or representative of the lone A pleading required to be verified which contains a verification based on
district of Southern Leyte at the time of the filing of his complaint was "information and belief," or upon "knowledge, information and belief," or
admitted as a fact by the court a quo. In this connection, it consequently held lacks proper verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading.
that, as such, petitioner Saludo's residence in Southern Leyte, the district he Petitioner Saludo's verification and certification of non-forum shopping
was the representing, could be taken judicial notice of. The court a quo states that he has "read the contents thereof [referring to the petition] and
cannot be faulted for doing so because courts are allowed "to take judicial the same are true and correct of my own personal knowledge and belief and
notice of matters which are of public knowledge, or are capable of on the basis of the records at hand." The same clearly constitutes substantial
unquestionable demonstration, or ought to be known to judges because of compliance with the above requirements of the Rules of Court.
their judicial functions." 30 Courts are likewise bound to take judicial notice, WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision
without the introduction of evidence, of the law in force in the Philippines, 31 dated May 22, 2003 and Resolution dated August 14, 2003 of the Court of
including its Constitution. Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 69553 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Orders
The concept of "facts of common knowledge" in the context of judicial notice dated September 10, 2001 and January 2, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court of
has been explained as those facts that are "so commonly known in the Maasin City, Southern Leyte, Branch 25 thereof, in Civil Case No. R-3172 are
community as to make it unprofitable to require proof, and so certainly REINSTATED.
known to as to make it indisputable among reasonable men." 32 Moreover, SO ORDERED.
"though usually facts of 'common knowledge' will be generally known
throughout the country, it is sufficient as a basis for judicial notice that they G.R. No. 133743 February 6, 2007
be known in the local community where the trial court sits." 33 Certainly, the EDGAR SAN LUIS, Petitioner,
fact of petitioner Saludo being the duly elected representative of Southern vs.
Leyte at the time could be properly taken judicial notice of by the court a quo, FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, Respondent.
the same being a matter of common knowledge in the community where it x ---------------------------------------------------- x
sits. G.R. No. 134029 February 6, 2007
Further, petitioner Saludo's residence in Southern Leyte could likewise be RODOLFO SAN LUIS, Petitioner,
properly taken judicial notice of by the court a quo. It is bound to know that, vs.
under the Constitution, one of the qualifications of a congressman or FELICIDAD SAGALONGOS alias FELICIDAD SAN LUIS, Respondent.
representative to the House of Representatives is having a residence in the DECISION
district in which he shall be elected. YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
In fine, petitioner Saludo's act of filing his complaint with the court a quo Before us are consolidated petitions for review assailing the February 4, 1998
cannot be characterized as a "specie of forum-shopping" or capricious on his Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 52647, which reversed
part because, under the rules, as plaintiff, he is precisely given this option. and set aside the September 12, 1995 2 and January 31, 1996 3 Resolutions of
Finally, respondents' claim that the instant petition for review was not the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 134 in SP. Proc. No. M-3708;
properly verified by petitioner Saludo deserves scant consideration. and its May 15, 1998 Resolution 4 denying petitioners’ motion for
Section 4, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court reads: reconsideration.
Sec. 4. Verification. - Except when otherwise specifically required by law or The instant case involves the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo T. San Luis
rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or accompanied by affidavit. (Felicisimo), who was the former governor of the Province of Laguna. During
A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and his lifetime, Felicisimo contracted three marriages. His first marriage was with
that the allegations therein are true and correct of his personal knowledge or Virginia Sulit on March 17, 1942 out of which were born six children, namely:
based on authentic records.
30
Rodolfo, Mila, Edgar, Linda, Emilita and Manuel. On August 11, 1963, Virginia Unaware of the denial of the motions to dismiss, respondent filed on March
predeceased Felicisimo. 5, 1994 her opposition 12 thereto. She submitted documentary evidence
Five years later, on May 1, 1968, Felicisimo married Merry Lee Corwin, with showing that while Felicisimo exercised the powers of his public office in
whom he had a son, Tobias. However, on October 15, 1971, Merry Lee, an Laguna, he regularly went home to their house in New Alabang Village,
American citizen, filed a Complaint for Divorce 5 before the Family Court of Alabang, Metro Manila which they bought sometime in 1982. Further, she
the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, United States of America (U.S.A.), which presented the decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family Court of the
issued a Decree Granting Absolute Divorce and Awarding Child Custody on First Circuit, State of Hawaii to prove that the marriage of Felicisimo to Merry
December 14, 1973. 6 Lee had already been dissolved. Thus, she claimed that Felicisimo had the
On June 20, 1974, Felicisimo married respondent Felicidad San Luis, then legal capacity to marry her by virtue of paragraph 2, 13 Article 26 of the Family
surnamed Sagalongos, before Rev. Fr. William Meyer, Minister of the United Code and the doctrine laid down in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 14
Presbyterian at Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. 7 He had no Thereafter, Linda, Rodolfo and herein petitioner Edgar San Luis, separately
children with respondent but lived with her for 18 years from the time of their filed motions for reconsideration from the Order denying their motions to
marriage up to his death on December 18, 1992. dismiss. 15 They asserted that paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code
Thereafter, respondent sought the dissolution of their conjugal partnership cannot be given retroactive effect to validate respondent’s bigamous
assets and the settlement of Felicisimo’s estate. On December 17, 1993, she marriage with Felicisimo because this would impair vested rights in
filed a petition for letters of administration 8 before the Regional Trial Court derogation of Article 256 16 of the Family Code.
of Makati City, docketed as SP. Proc. No. M-3708 which was raffled to Branch On April 21, 1994, Mila, another daughter of Felicisimo from his first
146 thereof. marriage, filed a motion to disqualify Acting Presiding Judge Anthony E.
Respondent alleged that she is the widow of Felicisimo; that, at the time of Santos from hearing the case.
his death, the decedent was residing at 100 San Juanico Street, New Alabang On October 24, 1994, the trial court issued an Order 17 denying the motions
Village, Alabang, Metro Manila; that the decedent’s surviving heirs are for reconsideration. It ruled that respondent, as widow of the decedent,
respondent as legal spouse, his six children by his first marriage, and son by possessed the legal standing to file the petition and that venue was properly
his second marriage; that the decedent left real properties, both conjugal and laid. Meanwhile, the motion for disqualification was deemed moot and
exclusive, valued at ₱30,304,178.00 more or less; that the decedent does not academic 18 because then Acting Presiding Judge Santos was substituted by
have any unpaid debts. Respondent prayed that the conjugal partnership Judge Salvador S. Tensuan pending the resolution of said motion.
assets be liquidated and that letters of administration be issued to her. Mila filed a motion for inhibition 19 against Judge Tensuan on November 16,
On February 4, 1994, petitioner Rodolfo San Luis, one of the children of 1994. On even date, Edgar also filed a motion for reconsideration 20 from the
Felicisimo by his first marriage, filed a motion to dismiss 9 on the grounds of Order denying their motion for reconsideration arguing that it does not state
improper venue and failure to state a cause of action. Rodolfo claimed that the facts and law on which it was based.
the petition for letters of administration should have been filed in the On November 25, 1994, Judge Tensuan issued an Order 21 granting the motion
Province of Laguna because this was Felicisimo’s place of residence prior to for inhibition. The case was re-raffled to Branch 134 presided by Judge Paul
his death. He further claimed that respondent has no legal personality to file T. Arcangel.
the petition because she was only a mistress of Felicisimo since the latter, at On April 24, 1995, 22 the trial court required the parties to submit their
the time of his death, was still legally married to Merry Lee. respective position papers on the twin issues of venue and legal capacity of
On February 15, 1994, Linda invoked the same grounds and joined her respondent to file the petition. On May 5, 1995, Edgar manifested 23 that he
brother Rodolfo in seeking the dismissal 10 of the petition. On February 28, is adopting the arguments and evidence set forth in his previous motion for
1994, the trial court issued an Order 11 denying the two motions to dismiss. reconsideration as his position paper. Respondent and Rodolfo filed their
position papers on June 14, 24 and June 20, 25 1995, respectively.
31
On September 12, 1995, the trial court dismissed the petition for letters of justiciable reason to sustain the individual view — sweeping statement — of
administration. It held that, at the time of his death, Felicisimo was the duly Judge Arc[h]angel, that "Article 26, par. 2 of the Family Code, contravenes the
elected governor and a resident of the Province of Laguna. Hence, the basic policy of our state against divorce in any form whatsoever." Indeed,
petition should have been filed in Sta. Cruz, Laguna and not in Makati City. It courts cannot deny what the law grants. All that the courts should do is to
also ruled that respondent was without legal capacity to file the petition for give force and effect to the express mandate of the law. The foreign divorce
letters of administration because her marriage with Felicisimo was bigamous, having been obtained by the Foreigner on December 14, 1992, 32 the Filipino
thus, void ab initio. It found that the decree of absolute divorce dissolving divorcee, "shall x x x have capacity to remarry under Philippine laws". For this
Felicisimo’s marriage to Merry Lee was not valid in the Philippines and did not reason, the marriage between the deceased and petitioner should not be
bind Felicisimo who was a Filipino citizen. It also ruled that paragraph 2, denominated as "a bigamous marriage.
Article 26 of the Family Code cannot be retroactively applied because it would Therefore, under Article 130 of the Family Code, the petitioner as the
impair the vested rights of Felicisimo’s legitimate children. surviving spouse can institute the judicial proceeding for the settlement of
Respondent moved for reconsideration 26 and for the disqualification 27 of the estate of the deceased. x x x 33
Judge Arcangel but said motions were denied. 28 Edgar, Linda, and Rodolfo filed separate motions for reconsideration 34 which
Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed and set aside were denied by the Court of Appeals.
the orders of the trial court in its assailed Decision dated February 4, 1998, On July 2, 1998, Edgar appealed to this Court via the instant petition for
the dispositive portion of which states: review on certiorari. 35 Rodolfo later filed a manifestation and motion to
WHEREFORE, the Orders dated September 12, 1995 and January 31, 1996 are adopt the said petition which was granted. 36
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE; the Orders dated February 28 and October In the instant consolidated petitions, Edgar and Rodolfo insist that the venue
24, 1994 are REINSTATED; and the records of the case is REMANDED to the of the subject petition for letters of administration was improperly laid
trial court for further proceedings. 29 because at the time of his death, Felicisimo was a resident of Sta. Cruz,
The appellante court ruled that under Section 1, Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, Laguna. They contend that pursuant to our rulings in Nuval v. Guray 37 and
the term "place of residence" of the decedent, for purposes of fixing the Romualdez v. RTC, Br. 7, Tacloban City, 38 "residence" is synonymous with
venue of the settlement of his estate, refers to the personal, actual or physical "domicile" which denotes a fixed permanent residence to which when
habitation, or actual residence or place of abode of a person as distinguished absent, one intends to return. They claim that a person can only have one
from legal residence or domicile. It noted that although Felicisimo discharged domicile at any given time. Since Felicisimo never changed his domicile, the
his functions as governor in Laguna, he actually resided in Alabang, petition for letters of administration should have been filed in Sta. Cruz,
Muntinlupa. Thus, the petition for letters of administration was properly filed Laguna.
in Makati City. Petitioners also contend that respondent’s marriage to Felicisimo was void
The Court of Appeals also held that Felicisimo had legal capacity to marry and bigamous because it was performed during the subsistence of the latter’s
respondent by virtue of paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code and the marriage to Merry Lee. They argue that paragraph 2, Article 26 cannot be
rulings in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 30 and Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera. 31 It found that retroactively applied because it would impair vested rights and ratify the void
the marriage between Felicisimo and Merry Lee was validly dissolved by bigamous marriage. As such, respondent cannot be considered the surviving
virtue of the decree of absolute divorce issued by the Family Court of the First wife of Felicisimo; hence, she has no legal capacity to file the petition for
Circuit, State of Hawaii. As a result, under paragraph 2, Article 26, Felicisimo letters of administration.
was capacitated to contract a subsequent marriage with respondent. Thus – The issues for resolution: (1) whether venue was properly laid, and (2)
With the well-known rule – express mandate of paragraph 2, Article 26, of whether respondent has legal capacity to file the subject petition for letters
the Family Code of the Philippines, the doctrines in Van Dorn, Pilapil, and the of administration.
reason and philosophy behind the enactment of E.O. No. 227, — there is no The petition lacks merit.
32
Under Section 1, 39 Rule 73 of the Rules of Court, the petition for letters of consistency. 43 Hence, it is possible that a person may have his residence in
administration of the estate of Felicisimo should be filed in the Regional Trial one place and domicile in another.
Court of the province "in which he resides at the time of his death." In the In the instant case, while petitioners established that Felicisimo was
case of Garcia Fule v. Court of Appeals, 40 we laid down the doctrinal rule for domiciled in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, respondent proved that he also maintained a
determining the residence – as contradistinguished from domicile – of the residence in Alabang, Muntinlupa from 1982 up to the time of his death.
decedent for purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate: Respondent submitted in evidence the Deed of Absolute Sale 44 dated January
[T]he term "resides" connotes ex vi termini "actual residence" as 5, 1983 showing that the deceased purchased the aforesaid property. She
distinguished from "legal residence or domicile." This term "resides," like the also presented billing statements 45 from the Philippine Heart Center and
terms "residing" and "residence," is elastic and should be interpreted in the Chinese General Hospital for the period August to December 1992 indicating
light of the object or purpose of the statute or rule in which it is employed. In the address of Felicisimo at "100 San Juanico, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa."
the application of venue statutes and rules – Section 1, Rule 73 of the Revised Respondent also presented proof of membership of the deceased in the Ayala
Rules of Court is of such nature – residence rather than domicile is the Alabang Village Association 46 and Ayala Country Club, Inc., 47 letter-envelopes
48
significant factor. Even where the statute uses the word "domicile" still it is from 1988 to 1990 sent by the deceased’s children to him at his Alabang
construed as meaning residence and not domicile in the technical sense. address, and the deceased’s calling cards 49 stating that his home/city address
Some cases make a distinction between the terms "residence" and "domicile" is at "100 San Juanico, Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa" while his
but as generally used in statutes fixing venue, the terms are synonymous, and office/provincial address is in "Provincial Capitol, Sta. Cruz, Laguna."
convey the same meaning as the term "inhabitant." In other words, "resides" From the foregoing, we find that Felicisimo was a resident of Alabang,
should be viewed or understood in its popular sense, meaning, the personal, Muntinlupa for purposes of fixing the venue of the settlement of his estate.
actual or physical habitation of a person, actual residence or place of abode. Consequently, the subject petition for letters of administration was validly
It signifies physical presence in a place and actual stay thereat. In this popular filed in the Regional Trial Court 50 which has territorial jurisdiction over
sense, the term means merely residence, that is, personal residence, not legal Alabang, Muntinlupa. The subject petition was filed on December 17, 1993.
residence or domicile. Residence simply requires bodily presence as an At that time, Muntinlupa was still a municipality and the branches of the
inhabitant in a given place, while domicile requires bodily presence in that Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region which had
place and also an intention to make it one’s domicile. No particular length of territorial jurisdiction over Muntinlupa were then seated in Makati City as per
time of residence is required though; however, the residence must be more Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 3. 51 Thus, the subject petition was
than temporary. 41 (Emphasis supplied) validly filed before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City.
It is incorrect for petitioners to argue that "residence," for purposes of fixing Anent the issue of respondent Felicidad’s legal personality to file the petition
the venue of the settlement of the estate of Felicisimo, is synonymous with for letters of administration, we must first resolve the issue of whether a
"domicile." The rulings in Nuval and Romualdez are inapplicable to the instant Filipino who is divorced by his alien spouse abroad may validly remarry under
case because they involve election cases. Needless to say, there is a the Civil Code, considering that Felicidad’s marriage to Felicisimo was
distinction between "residence" for purposes of election laws and solemnized on June 20, 1974, or before the Family Code took effect on August
"residence" for purposes of fixing the venue of actions. In election cases, 3, 1988. In resolving this issue, we need not retroactively apply the provisions
"residence" and "domicile" are treated as synonymous terms, that is, the of the Family Code, particularly Art. 26, par. (2) considering that there is
fixed permanent residence to which when absent, one has the intention of sufficient jurisprudential basis allowing us to rule in the affirmative.
returning. 42 However, for purposes of fixing venue under the Rules of Court, The case of Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. 52 involved a marriage between a foreigner
the "residence" of a person is his personal, actual or physical habitation, or and his Filipino wife, which marriage was subsequently dissolved through a
actual residence or place of abode, which may not necessarily be his legal divorce obtained abroad by the latter. Claiming that the divorce was not valid
residence or domicile provided he resides therein with continuity and under Philippine law, the alien spouse alleged that his interest in the
33
properties from their conjugal partnership should be protected. The Court, marital bond had the effect of dissociating the former spouses from each
however, recognized the validity of the divorce and held that the alien spouse other, hence the actuations of one would not affect or cast obloquy on the
had no interest in the properties acquired by the Filipino wife after the other." 56
divorce. Thus: Likewise, in Quita v. Court of Appeals, 57 the Court stated that where a Filipino
In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the is divorced by his naturalized foreign spouse, the ruling in Van Dorn applies.
58
marriage from the standards of American law, under which divorce dissolves Although decided on December 22, 1998, the divorce in the said case was
the marriage. As stated by the Federal Supreme Court of the United States in obtained in 1954 when the Civil Code provisions were still in effect.
Atherton vs. Atherton, 45 L. Ed. 794, 799: The significance of the Van Dorn case to the development of limited
"The purpose and effect of a decree of divorce from the bond of matrimony recognition of divorce in the Philippines cannot be denied. The ruling has long
by a competent jurisdiction are to change the existing status or domestic been interpreted as severing marital ties between parties in a mixed marriage
relation of husband and wife, and to free them both from the bond. The and capacitating the Filipino spouse to remarry as a necessary consequence
marriage tie, when thus severed as to one party, ceases to bind either. A of upholding the validity of a divorce obtained abroad by the alien spouse. In
husband without a wife, or a wife without a husband, is unknown to the law. his treatise, Dr. Arturo M. Tolentino cited Van Dorn stating that "if the
When the law provides, in the nature of a penalty, that the guilty party shall foreigner obtains a valid foreign divorce, the Filipino spouse shall have
not marry again, that party, as well as the other, is still absolutely freed from capacity to remarry under Philippine law." 59 In Garcia v. Recio, 60 the Court
the bond of the former marriage." likewise cited the aforementioned case in relation to Article 26. 61
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the In the recent case of Republic v. Orbecido III, 62 the historical background and
husband of petitioner. He would have no standing to sue in the case below as legislative intent behind paragraph 2, Article 26 of the Family Code were
petitioner’s husband entitled to exercise control over conjugal assets. As he discussed, to wit:
is bound by the Decision of his own country’s Court, which validly exercised Brief Historical Background
jurisdiction over him, and whose decision he does not repudiate, he is On July 6, 1987, then President Corazon Aquino signed into law Executive
estopped by his own representation before said Court from asserting his right Order No. 209, otherwise known as the "Family Code," which took effect on
over the alleged conjugal property. 53 August 3, 1988. Article 26 thereof states:
As to the effect of the divorce on the Filipino wife, the Court ruled that she All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws
should no longer be considered married to the alien spouse. Further, she in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such,
should not be required to perform her marital duties and obligations. It held: shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35,
To maintain, as private respondent does, that, under our laws, petitioner has 37, and 38.
to be considered still married to private respondent and still subject to a On July 17, 1987, shortly after the signing of the original Family Code,
wife's obligations under Article 109, et. seq. of the Civil Code cannot be just. Executive Order No. 227 was likewise signed into law, amending Articles 26,
Petitioner should not be obliged to live together with, observe respect and 36, and 39 of the Family Code. A second paragraph was added to Article 26.
fidelity, and render support to private respondent. The latter should not As so amended, it now provides:
continue to be one of her heirs with possible rights to conjugal property. She ART. 26. All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with
should not be discriminated against in her own country if the ends of justice the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there
are to be served. 54 (Emphasis added) as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under
This principle was thereafter applied in Pilapil v. Ibay-Somera 55 where the Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.
Court recognized the validity of a divorce obtained abroad. In the said case, Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly
it was held that the alien spouse is not a proper party in filing the adultery celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien
suit against his Filipino wife. The Court stated that "the severance of the
34
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have legislative intent. An indispensable part of that intent, in fact, for we presume
capacity to remarry under Philippine law. (Emphasis supplied) the good motives of the legislature, is to render justice.
xxxx Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in consonance
Legislative Intent with justice. Law and justice are inseparable, and we must keep them so. To
Records of the proceedings of the Family Code deliberations showed that the be sure, there are some laws that, while generally valid, may seem arbitrary
intent of Paragraph 2 of Article 26, according to Judge Alicia Sempio-Diy, a when applied in a particular case because of its peculiar circumstances. In
member of the Civil Code Revision Committee, is to avoid the absurd situation such a situation, we are not bound, because only of our nature and functions,
where the Filipino spouse remains married to the alien spouse who, after to apply them just the same, in slavish obedience to their language. What we
obtaining a divorce, is no longer married to the Filipino spouse. do instead is find a balance between the word and the will, that justice may
Interestingly, Paragraph 2 of Article 26 traces its origin to the 1985 case of be done even as the law is obeyed.
Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. The Van Dorn case involved a marriage between a As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and must not unfeelingly apply
Filipino citizen and a foreigner. The Court held therein that a divorce decree the law as it is worded, yielding like robots to the literal command without
validly obtained by the alien spouse is valid in the Philippines, and regard to its cause and consequence. "Courts are apt to err by sticking too
consequently, the Filipino spouse is capacitated to remarry under Philippine closely to the words of a law," so we are warned, by Justice Holmes again,
law. 63 (Emphasis added) "where these words import a policy that goes beyond them."
As such, the Van Dorn case is sufficient basis in resolving a situation where a xxxx
divorce is validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse. With the enactment of More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined justice "as the constant
the Family Code and paragraph 2, Article 26 thereof, our lawmakers codified and perpetual wish to render every one his due." That wish continues to
the law already established through judicial precedent.1awphi1.net motivate this Court when it assesses the facts and the law in every case
Indeed, when the object of a marriage is defeated by rendering its brought to it for decision. Justice is always an essential ingredient of its
continuance intolerable to one of the parties and productive of no possible decisions. Thus when the facts warrants, we interpret the law in a way that
good to the community, relief in some way should be obtainable. 64 Marriage, will render justice, presuming that it was the intention of the lawmaker, to
being a mutual and shared commitment between two parties, cannot begin with, that the law be dispensed with justice. 69
possibly be productive of any good to the society where one is considered Applying the above doctrine in the instant case, the divorce decree allegedly
released from the marital bond while the other remains bound to it. Such is obtained by Merry Lee which absolutely allowed Felicisimo to remarry, would
the state of affairs where the alien spouse obtains a valid divorce abroad have vested Felicidad with the legal personality to file the present petition as
against the Filipino spouse, as in this case. Felicisimo’s surviving spouse. However, the records show that there is
Petitioners cite Articles 15 65 and 17 66 of the Civil Code in stating that the insufficient evidence to prove the validity of the divorce obtained by Merry
divorce is void under Philippine law insofar as Filipinos are concerned. Lee as well as the marriage of respondent and Felicisimo under the laws of
However, in light of this Court’s rulings in the cases discussed above, the the U.S.A. In Garcia v. Recio, 70 the Court laid down the specific guidelines for
Filipino spouse should not be discriminated against in his own country if the pleading and proving foreign law and divorce judgments. It held that
ends of justice are to be served. 67 In Alonzo v. Intermediate Appellate Court, presentation solely of the divorce decree is insufficient and that proof of its
68
the Court stated: authenticity and due execution must be presented. Under Sections 24 and 25
But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law by its results; and likewise, of Rule 132, a writing or document may be proven as a public or official record
we may add, by its purposes. It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the meaning of a foreign country by either (1) an official publication or (2) a copy thereof
of the law, the first concern of the judge should be to discover in its provisions attested by the officer having legal custody of the document. If the record is
the intent of the lawmaker. Unquestionably, the law should never be not kept in the Philippines, such copy must be (a) accompanied by a
interpreted in such a way as to cause injustice as this is never within the certificate issued by the proper diplomatic or consular officer in the Philippine
35
foreign service stationed in the foreign country in which the record is kept efforts and industry. Any property acquired during the union is prima facie
and (b) authenticated by the seal of his office. 71 presumed to have been obtained through their joint efforts. Hence, the
With regard to respondent’s marriage to Felicisimo allegedly solemnized in portions belonging to the co-owners shall be presumed equal, unless the
California, U.S.A., she submitted photocopies of the Marriage Certificate and contrary is proven. 77
the annotated text 72 of the Family Law Act of California which purportedly Meanwhile, if respondent fails to prove the validity of both the divorce and
show that their marriage was done in accordance with the said law. As stated the marriage, the applicable provision would be Article 148 of the Family
in Garcia, however, the Court cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws as Code which has filled the hiatus in Article 144 of the Civil Code by expressly
they must be alleged and proved. 73 regulating the property relations of couples living together as husband and
Therefore, this case should be remanded to the trial court for further wife but are incapacitated to marry. 78 In Saguid v. Court of Appeals, 79 we
reception of evidence on the divorce decree obtained by Merry Lee and the held that even if the cohabitation or the acquisition of property occurred
marriage of respondent and Felicisimo. before the Family Code took effect, Article 148 governs. 80 The Court
Even assuming that Felicisimo was not capacitated to marry respondent in described the property regime under this provision as follows:
1974, nevertheless, we find that the latter has the legal personality to file the The regime of limited co-ownership of property governing the union of
subject petition for letters of administration, as she may be considered the parties who are not legally capacitated to marry each other, but who
co-owner of Felicisimo as regards the properties that were acquired through nonetheless live together as husband and wife, applies to properties acquired
their joint efforts during their cohabitation. during said cohabitation in proportion to their respective contributions. Co-
Section 6, 74 Rule 78 of the Rules of Court states that letters of administration ownership will only be up to the extent of the proven actual contribution of
may be granted to the surviving spouse of the decedent. However, Section 2, money, property or industry. Absent proof of the extent thereof, their
Rule 79 thereof also provides in part: contributions and corresponding shares shall be presumed to be equal.
SEC. 2. Contents of petition for letters of administration. – A petition for xxxx
letters of administration must be filed by an interested person and must In the cases of Agapay v. Palang, and Tumlos v. Fernandez, which involved
show, as far as known to the petitioner: x x x. the issue of co-ownership of properties acquired by the parties to a bigamous
An "interested person" has been defined as one who would be benefited by marriage and an adulterous relationship, respectively, we ruled that proof of
the estate, such as an heir, or one who has a claim against the estate, such as actual contribution in the acquisition of the property is essential. x x x
a creditor. The interest must be material and direct, and not merely indirect As in other civil cases, the burden of proof rests upon the party who, as
or contingent. 75 determined by the pleadings or the nature of the case, asserts an affirmative
In the instant case, respondent would qualify as an interested person who issue. Contentions must be proved by competent evidence and reliance must
has a direct interest in the estate of Felicisimo by virtue of their cohabitation, be had on the strength of the party’s own evidence and not upon the
the existence of which was not denied by petitioners. If she proves the validity weakness of the opponent’s defense. x x x 81
of the divorce and Felicisimo’s capacity to remarry, but fails to prove that her In view of the foregoing, we find that respondent’s legal capacity to file the
marriage with him was validly performed under the laws of the U.S.A., then subject petition for letters of administration may arise from her status as the
she may be considered as a co-owner under Article 144 76 of the Civil Code. surviving wife of Felicisimo or as his co-owner under Article 144 of the Civil
This provision governs the property relations between parties who live Code or Article 148 of the Family Code.
together as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage, or their WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
marriage is void from the beginning. It provides that the property acquired by reinstating and affirming the February 28, 1994 Order of the Regional Trial
either or both of them through their work or industry or their wages and Court which denied petitioners’ motion to dismiss and its October 24, 1994
salaries shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership. In a co-ownership, it Order which dismissed petitioners’ motion for reconsideration is AFFIRMED.
is not necessary that the property be acquired through their joint labor, Let this case be REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings.
36
SO ORDERED. To secure the credit facility, a lone real estate mortgage agreement was
executed by Rosemoor and Dr. Lourdes Pascual (Dr. Pascual), Rosemoors
UNITED OVERSEAS BANK G.R. Nos. 159669 & president, as mortgagors in favor of the Bank as mortgagee in the City of
PHILS. (formerly WESTMONT 163521 Manila.The agreement, however, covered six (6) parcels of land located in
BANK), San Miguel, Bulacan (Bulacan properties), all registered under the name of
Petitioner, Present: Rosemoor, and two (2) parcels of land situated in Gapan, Nueva Ecija (Nueva
Ecija properties), owned and registered under the name of Dr. Pascual.
QUISUMBING, J.,
- versus - Chairperson, Rosemoor subsequently opened with the Bank four (4) irrevocable Letters of
CARPIO, Credit (LCs) totaling US$1,943,508.11. To cover payments by the Bank under
CARPIO MORALES, the LCs, Rosemoor proceeded to draw against its credit facility and thereafter
TINGA, and executed promissory notes amounting collectively to P49,862,682.50. Two
ROSEMOORE MINING & DEVE- VELASCO, JR., JJ. (2) other promissory notes were also executed by Rosemoor in the amounts
LOPMENT CORP. and DRA. of P10,000,000.00 and P3,500,000.00, respectively, to be drawn from its
LOURDES PASCUAL, revolving credit line.]
Respondents. Promulgated:
Rosemoor defaulted in the payment of its various drawings under the LCs and
________________ promissory notes. In view of the default, the Bank caused the extra-judicial
foreclosure of the Nueva Ecija properties on 22 May 1998 and the Bulacan
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------x properties on 10 August 1998. The Bank was the highest bidder on both
occasions.

DECISION On 8 October 1999, the Bank caused the annotation of the Notarial Certificate
of Sale covering the Nueva Ecija properties on the certificates of title
TINGA, J.: concerned. Later, on 16 March 2001, the Notarial Certificate of Sale covering
the Bulacan properties was annotated on the certificates of title of said
We resolve these two consolidated cases, which though with distinct courts properties.
of origin, pertain to issues stemming from the same loan transaction.
The foregoing facts led to Rosemoors filing of separate complaints against the
The antecedent facts follow. Bank, one before the Regional Trial Court of Manila (Manila RTC) and the
other before the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan (Malolos RTC).
Respondent Rosemoor Mining and Development Corporation (Rosemoor), a
Philippine mining corporation with offices at Quezon City, applied for and was The Manila Case (G.R. No. 163521)
granted by petitioner Westmont Bank (Bank) a credit facility in the total
amount of P80 million consisting of P50,000,000.00 as long term loan and On 5 August 1998, Rosemoor and Dr. Pascual filed a Complaint, originally
P30,000,000.00 as revolving credit line. captioned as one for Damages, Accounting and Release of Balance of Loan
and Machinery and for Injunction before the Manila RTC. Impleaded as
defendants were the Bank and Notary Public Jose Sineneng, whose office was
37
used to foreclose the mortgage. The complaint was twice amended, the the tiling plaint which Westmont had refused to release to Rosemoor, in such
caption eventually reflecting an action for Accounting, Specific Performance amount as may be proven at the trial;
and Damages. Through the amendments, Pascual was dropped as a plaintiff
while several officers of the Bank were included as defendants. 4. Directing the defendants jointly and severally to pay, by way of correction
for the public good, exemplary damages in the amount of P 500,000.00 each;
The Bank moved for the dismissal of the original and amended complaints on
the ground that the venue had been improperly laid.The motion was denied 5. Ordering defendants jointly and severally to indemnify Rosemoor in the
by the trial court through an Omnibus Resolution dated 24 January 2000.[if sum of P350,000.00, representing attorneys fees and litigation expenses
incurred by Rosemoor for the protection and enforcement of its rights and
Rosemoors prayer in the Second Amended Complaint, which was filed in interests.
November of 1999, reads as follows:
Plaintiff prays for further and other relief as may be just and equitable under
WHEREFORE, plaintiff Rosemoor Mining & Development Corporation the circumstances.
respectfully prays that, after trial of the issues, this court promulgate
judgment On 15 August 2002, the Bank filed another motion to dismiss the Second
Amended Complaint on the ground of forum-shopping since, according to it,
1. Directing Westmont to render an accounting of the loan account of Rosemoor had filed another petition earlier on 11 March 2002 before the
Rosemoor under the Long Term Loan Facility and the Revolving Credit Line at Malolos RTC.The Bank contended that as between the action before the
least up to the dates of foreclosure of Rosemoors mortgaged properties on Manila RTC and the petition before the Malolos RTC, there is identity of
May 22, 1998 and August 18, 1998, showing among others (a) the sums of parties, rights asserted, and reliefs prayed for, the relief being founded on the
money paid by Rosemoor or otherwise debited from its deposit account in same set of facts. The Bank further claimed that any judgment that may be
payment of the loans it had obtained from Westmont to cover the cost of the rendered in either case will amount to res judicata in the other case. Still, the
machinery to be imported under the Unpaid LCs and under LC No. 97-058 for Manila RTC denied the motion to dismiss. It also denied the Banks motion for
the tiling plant, as well as for working capital, and (b) all interests, penalties reconsideration of the order of denial.
and charges imposed on the loans pertaining to the Unpaid LCs and LC No.
97-058 and for which Westmont had foreclosed Rosemoors and Dra. Pascuals The Bank challenged the Manila RTCs denial of the Banks second motion to
real estate mortgage; (c) the amount of import and customs duties, dismiss before the Court of Appeals, through a petition for certiorari. The
demurrage, storage and other fees which Rosemoor had paid or which was appellate court dismissed the petition in a Decision dated 26 February 2004.]
otherwise debited from Rosemoors deposit account, in connection with the The Bank filed a motion for reconsideration which, however, was denied
importation of the tiling plant and as a consequence of the non-release through a Resolution dated 30 April 2004.
thereof by Westmont;
In the Petition for Review on Certiorari in G.R. No. 163521, the Bank argues
2. Ordering all the defendants jointly and severally to pay to Rosemoor, by that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that no forum-shopping attended
way of actual damages, the dollar equivalent of the amounts in (1) (a), (b) and the actions brought by Rosemoor
(c) at the exchange rate prevailing at the time of the opening of the LCs;

3. Ordering defendants jointly and severally to pay to Rosemoor actual


damages for operational losses suffered by Rosemoor due to its failure to use
38
The Malolos Case (G.R. No. 159669) be restrained and enjoined from canceling the titles of Rosemoor over its
properties, namely, TCT Nos. 42132; 42133; 42134; 42135; 42136 and RT
After the complaint with the Manila RTC had been lodged, on 11 March 2002, 34569 (T-222448);
Rosemoor and Dr. Pascual filed another action against the Bank, this time
before the Malolos RTC. Impleaded together with the Bank as respondent 2. That after due notice, a writ of preliminary injunction be issued upon the
was the Register of Deeds for the Province of Bulacan in the Petition for posting of a bond in such amount as may be fixed by this Court;
Injunction with Damages, with Urgent Prayer for Temporary Restraining
Order and/or Preliminary Injunction. 3. That after due hearing and trial, judgment be rendered in favor of
petitioners and against respondent BANK
In the Malolos case, Rosemoor and Dr. Pascual alleged that the redemption
period for the Bulacan properties would expire on 16 March 2002. They Permanently enjoining respondent BANK from proceeding with the
claimed that the threatened consolidation of titles by the Bank is illegal, consolidation of its titles to the subject properties of Rosemoor covered by
stressing that the foreclosure of the real estate mortgage by the Bank was TCT Nos. 42132; 42133; 42134; 42135; 42136 and RT 34569 (T-222448); and
fraudulent and without basis, as the Bank had made them sign two blank permanently restraining respondent Register of Deeds for the Province of
forms of Real Estate Mortgage and several promissory notes also in blank Bulacan from registering any document(s) submitted and/or to be submitted
forms. It appeared later, according to Rosemoor and Dr. Pascual, that the two by respondent BANK consolidating its titles over the above-named properties
Real Estate Mortgage blank forms were made as security for two loans, one of petitioner Rosemoor in San Miguel, Bulacan; and likewise, that the Register
for P80 million and the other for P48 million, when the total approved loan of Deeds for the province of Bulacan be restrained and enjoined from
was only for P80 million. The Bank later released only the amount of P10 cancelling the titles of Rosemoor over its properties, namely, TCT Nos. 42132;
million out of the P30 million revolving credit line, to the prejudice of 42133; 42134; 42135; 42136 and RT 34569 (T-222448);
Rosemoor, they added.
Declaring the foreclosures of Real Estate Mortgages on the properties of
petitioners Rosemoor and Dra. Pascual to be null and void;
The Petitions prayer reads as follows:
Recognizing the ownership in fee simple of the petitioners over their
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed that this properties above-mentioned;
Honorable Court
Awarding to petitioners the damages prayed for, including attorneys fees and
1. Issue ex-parte a temporary restraining order before the matter could be costs and expenses of litigation.
heard on notice to restrain and enjoin respondent BANK from proceeding
with its threatened consolidation of its titles over the subject properties of Petitioners pray for such other reliefs and remedies as may be deemed just
petitioner Rosemoor in San Miguel, Bulacan covered by TCT Nos. 42132; and equitable in the premises.
42133; 42134; 42135; 42136 and RT 34569 (T-222448) on March 16, 2002 or
at any time thereafter; that the respondent Register of Deeds for the Province As it did before the Manila RTC, the Bank filed a motion to dismiss on 26
of Bulacan be enjoined and restrained from registering any document(s) March 2002 on the ground that Rosemoor had engaged in forum-shopping,
submitted and/or to be submitted by respondent BANK consolidating its titles adverting to the pending Manila case.The Bank further alleged that Dr.
over the above-named properties of petitioner Rosemoor in San Miguel, Pascual has no cause of action since the properties registered in her name are
Bulacan; and likewise, that the Register of Deeds for the province of Bulacan located in Nueva Ecija. The Malolos RTC denied the motion to dismiss in an
39
Order dated 13 May 2002. In the same Order, the Malolos RTC directed the
Bank to file its answer to the petition within five (5) days from notice. The essence of forum-shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the
same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or
Despite receipt of the Order on 21 May 2002, the Bank opted not to file its successively, for the purpose of obtaining a favorable judgment. The
answer as it filed instead a motion for reconsideration on 5 June 2002. elements of forum-shopping are: (a) identity of parties, or at least such
Meanwhile, Rosemoor and Dr. Pascual moved to declare the Bank in default parties as represent the same interests in both actions; (b) identity of rights
for its failure to timely file its answer. On 10 September 2002, the Malolos asserted and reliefs prayed for, the reliefs being founded on the same facts;
RTC issued an order denying the Banks motion for reconsideration for lack of and (c) the identity with respect to the two preceding particulars in the two
merit and at the same time declaring the Bank in default for failure to file its cases is such that any judgment rendered in the pending cases, regardless of
answer. which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the other case.

Hence, the Bank filed a second petition for certiorari before the Court of As to the existence of identity of parties, several bank officers and employees
Appeals, where it assailed the Orders dated 13 May 2002 and 10 September impleaded in the Amended Complaint in the Manila case were not included
2002 of the Malolos RTC. During the pendency of this petition for certiorari, in the Malolos case. These bank officers and employees were sued in Manila
the Malolos RTC decided the Malolos case on the merits in favor of Rosemoor. in their personal capacity. A finding of negligence or bad faith in their
The decision in the Malolos case was also appealed to the Court of Appeals. participation in the preparation and execution of the loan agreement would
Based on these developments, the appellate court considered the prayer for render them personally liable. Dr. Pascual, on the other hand, was included
preliminary injunction as moot and academic and proceeded with the as petitioner only in the Malolos case because it involved properties
resolution of the petition, by then docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.73358, on the registered in her name. As correctly pointed out by the Court of Appeals, Dr.
merits. The appellate court dismissed the petition in a Decision dated 20 June Pascual is a real party-in-interest in the Malolos case because she stood to
2003. Undaunted, the Bank filed the petition in G.R. No. 159669 before this benefit or suffer from the judgment in the suit. Dr. Pascual, however, was not
Court. included as plaintiff in the Manila case because her interest therein was not
personal but merely in her capacity as officer of Rosemoor.
The two petitions before this Court have been consolidated. We find one
common issue in G.R. No. 159669 and G.R. No. 163521 whether Rosemoor As regards the identity of rights asserted and reliefs prayed for, the main
committed forum-shopping in filing the two cases against the Bank. The other contention of Rosemoor in the Manila case is that the Bank had failed to
issues for resolution were raised in G.R. No. 159669, pertaining as they do to deliver the full amount of the loan, as a consequence of which Rosemoor
the orders issued by the Malolos RTC. These issues are whether the action to demanded the remittance of the unreleased portion of the loan and payment
invalidate the foreclosure sale was properly laid with the Malolos RTC even of damages consequent thereto. In contrast, the Malolos case was filed for
as regards the Nueva Ecija properties; whether it was proper for the Malolos the purpose of restraining the Bank from proceeding with the consolidation
RTC to declare the Bank in default; and whether it was proper for the Malolos of the titles over the foreclosed Bulacan properties because the loan secured
RTC to deny the Banks motion to dismiss through a minute resolution. by the mortgage had not yet become due and demandable. While the right
asserted in the Manila case is to receive the proceeds of the loan, the right
Forum-Shopping sought in the Malolos case is to restrain the foreclosure of the properties
mortgaged to secure a loan that was not yet due.
The central issue in these consolidated cases is whether Rosemoor
committed forum-shopping in filing the Malolos case during the pendency of Moreover, the Malolos case is an action to annul the foreclosure sale that is
the Manila case. necessarily an action affecting the title of the property sold. It is therefore a
40
real action which should be commenced and tried in the province where the
property or part thereof lies.The Manila case, on the other hand, is a personal The venue of the action for the nullification of the foreclosure sale is properly
action involving as it does the enforcement of a contract between Rosemoor, laid with the Malolos RTC although two of the properties together with the
whose office is in Quezon City, and the Bank, whose principal office is in Bulacan properties are situated in Nueva Ecija. Following the above-quoted
Binondo, Manila. Personal actions may be commenced and tried where the provision of the Rules of Court, the venue of real actions affecting properties
plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendants or found in different provinces is determined by the singularity or plurality of
any of the principal defendants resides, at the election of the plaintiff. the transactions involving said parcels of land. Where said parcels are the
object of one and the same transaction, the venue is in the court of any of
It was subsequent to the filing of the Manila case that Rosemoor and Dr. the provinces wherein a parcel of land is situated.
Pascual saw the need to secure a writ of injunction because the consolidation
of the titles to the mortgaged properties in favor of the Bank was in the offing. Ironically, the Bank itself correctly summarized the applicable jurisprudential
But then, this action can only be commenced where the properties, or a rule in one of the pleadings before the Court. Yet the Bank itself has provided
portion thereof, is located. Otherwise, the petition for injunction would be the noose on which it would be hung. Resorting to deliberate
dismissed for improper venue. Rosemoor, therefore, was warranted in filing misrepresentation, the Bank stated in the same pleading that the Bulacan and
the Malolos case and cannot in turn be accused of forum-shopping. Nueva Ecija [p]roperties were not the subject of one single real estate
mortgage contract.
Clearly, with the foregoing premises, it cannot be said that respondents
committed forum-shopping. In the present case, there is only one proceeding sought to be nullified and
that is the extra-judicial mortgage foreclosure sale. And there is only one
Action to nullify foreclosure sale of initial transaction which served as the basis of the foreclosure sale and that is
mortgaged properties in Bulacan and the mortgage contract. Indeed, Rosemoor, through Dr. Pascual, executed a
Nueva Ecija before the Malolos RTC lone mortgage contract where it undertook to mortgage the land/real
property situated in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija, with the list of mortgaged
The Bank challenges the Malolos RTCs jurisdiction over the action to nullify properties annexed thereto revealing six (6) properties in Bulacan and two (2)
the foreclosure sale of the Nueva Ecija properties along with the Bulacan properties in Nueva Ecija subject of the mortgage.
properties. This question is actually a question of venue and not of
jurisdiction, which if improperly laid, could lead to the dismissal of the case. This apparent deliberate misrepresentation cannot simply pass without
action. The real estate mortgage form supplied to Rosemoor is the Banks
The rule on venue of real actions is provided in Section 1, Rule 4 of the 1997 standard pre-printed form. Yet the Bank perpetrated the misrepresentation.
Rules of Civil Procedure, which reads in part: Blame must be placed on its doorstep. But as the Banks pleading was
obviously prepared by its counsel, the latter should also share the blame. A
lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court;
Section 1. Venue of Real Actions. Actions affecting title to or possession of nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice. Both the
real property, or interest therein, shall be commenced and tried in the proper Banks president and counsel should be made to explain why they should not
court which has jurisdiction over the area wherein the real property involved, be sanctioned for contempt of court.
or a portion thereof, is situated.
Propriety of Default Order
xxx
41
The Court of Appeals did not touch upon the soundness or unsoundness of
the order of default although it is one of the orders assailed by the Bank. In every case, the resolution shall state clearly and distinctly the reasons
However, the silence of the appellate court on the issue does not improve the therefor.
legal situation of the Bank.
xxxx
To recall, the Bank filed a motion to dismiss the Malolos case. The Malolos
RTC denied the motion in an Order dated 13 May 2002. In the same Order, Further, it is now specifically required that the resolution on the motion shall
the Malolos RTC directed the Bank to file its answer to the petition within five clearly and distinctly state the reasons therefor. This proscribes the common
(5) days from the receipt of the Order.The Bank received a copy of the Order practice of perfunctorily dismissing the motion for lack
on 21 May 2002. Instead of filing an answer, the Bank filed a motion for of merit. Such cavalier dispositions can often pose difficulty and
reconsideration but only on 5 June 2002. misunderstanding on the part of the aggrieved party in taking recourse
therefrom and likewise on the higher court called upon to resolve the same,
The motion for reconsideration could not have tolled the running of the usually on certiorari.
period to answer for two reasons. One, it was filed late, nine (9) days after
the due date of the answer. Two, it was a mere rehash of the motion to The questioned order of the trial court denying the motion to dismiss with a
dismiss; hence, pro forma in nature. Thus, the Malolos RTC did not err in mere statement that there are justiciable questions which require a full
declaring the Bank in default. blown trial falls short of the requirement of Rule 16 set forth above. Owing
to the terseness of its expressed justification, the challenged order ironically
Deviation from the Prescribed suffers from undefined breadth which is a hallmark of imprecision. With its
Content of an Order unspecific and amorphous thrust, the issuance is inappropriate to the
Denying a Motion to Dismiss grounds detailed in the motion to dismiss.

While the requirement to state clearly and distinctly the reasons for the trial
Finally, the Bank questions the Malolos RTCs Order dated 13 May 2002 courts resolutory order under Sec. 3, Rule 16 of the Rules does call for a liberal
denying its motion to dismiss on the ground that it is contrary to law and interpretation, especially since jurisprudence dictates that it is decisions on
jurisprudence because it had failed to apprise the Bank of the legal basis for cases submitted for decision that are subject to the stringent requirement
the denial. of specificity of rulings under Sec. 1, Rule 36 of the Rules, the trial courts order
in this case leaves too much to the imagination. (Emphasis supplied)
The Bank adverts to the content requirement of an order denying a motion
to dismiss prescribed by Sec. 3, Rule 16 of the Rules of Court. The Court in Lu The assailed order disposed of the motion to dismiss in this wise:
Ym v. Nabua made a thorough discussion on the matter, to quote:
Sec. 3, Rule 16 of the Rules provides: xxxx

Sec. 3. Resolution of motion.After the hearing, the court may dismiss the After a careful scrutiny of the grounds cited in the Motion to Dismiss and the
action or claim, deny the motion or order the amendment of the pleading. arguments en contra contained in the Opposition thereto and finding the
Motion to Dismiss to be not well taken as grounds cited are not applicable to
The court shall not defer the resolution of the motion for the reason that the the case at bar, the Court hereby DENIES the instant Motion to Dismiss.
ground relied upon is not indubitable.
42
xxxx in Civil Case No. 10-124040, denying private respondent Cash Asia Credit
Corporation's (Cash Asia) motion to dismiss on the ground of improper venue.
Clearly, the subject order falls short of the content requirement as The Facts
expounded in Lu Ym v. Nabua. Despite the aberration, however, the Bank was The instant case arose from a Complaint6 dated August 2, 2010 filed by Virgilio
not misled, though it could have encountered difficulties or inconvenience C. Briones (Briones) for Nullity of Mortgage Contract, Promissory Note, Loan
because of it. Comprehending, as it did, that the Malolos RTC did not share Agreement, Foreclosure of Mortgage, Cancellation of Transfer Certificate of
its position that Rosemoor had engaged in forum-shopping, it went to great Title (TCT) No. 290846, and Damages against Cash Asia before the RTC.7 In his
lengths to impress upon the Court of complaint, Briones alleged that he is the owner of a property covered by TCT
No. 160689 (subject property), and that, on July 15, 2010, his sister informed
Appeals that there was indeed forum-shopping on Rosemoors part. But the him that his property had been foreclosed and a writ of possession had
appellate court did not likewise agree with the Bank as it soundly debunked already been issued in favor of Cash Asia.8 Upon investigation, Briones
the forum-shopping charge. In fact, the same forum-shopping argument has discovered that: (a) on December 6, 2007, he purportedly executed a
been fully ventilated before the Court but we are utterly unimpressed as we promissory note,9 loan agreement,10 and deed of real estate mortgage11
made short shrift of the argument earlier on. In the ultimate analysis, covering the subject property (subject contracts) in favor of Cash Asia in order
therefore, the trial courts blunder may be overlooked as it proved to be to obtain a loan in the amount of ₱3,500,000.00 from the latter;12 and (b)
harmless. since the said loan was left unpaid, Cash Asia proceeded to foreclose his
property.13 In this relation, Briones claimed that he never contracted any
WHEREFORE, considering the foregoing, the Decision of the Court of Appeals loans from Cash Asia as he has been living and working in Vietnam since
in G.R. 163521 dated 26 February 2004 and in G.R No. 159669 dated 20 June October 31, 2007. He further claimed that he only went back to the
2003 are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner. Petitioner, United Overseas Philippines on December 28, 2007 until January 3, 2008 to spend the holidays
Bank, Phils. and its counsel, Siguion Reyna Montecillo & Ongsiako Law Offices, with his family, and that during his brief stay in the Philippines, nobody
are given ten (10) days from notice to EXPLAIN why they should not be held informed him of any loan agreement entered into with Cash Asia. Essentially,
in contempt of court for making a misrepresentation before the Court as Briones assailed the validity of the foregoing contracts claiming his signature
adverted to in this Decision. to be forged.14
For its part, Cash Asia filed a Motion to Dismiss15 dated August 25, 2010,
SO ORDERED. praying for the outright dismissal of Briones’s complaint on the ground of
improper venue.16 In this regard, Cash Asia pointed out the venue stipulation
G.R. No. 204444 January 14, 2015 in the subject contracts stating that "all legal actions arising out of this notice
VIRGILIO C. BRIONES, Petitioner, in connection with the Real Estate Mortgage subject hereof shall only be
vs. brought in or submitted tothe jurisdiction of the proper court of Makati
COURT OF APPEALS and CASH ASIA CREDIT CORPORATION, Respondents. City."17 In view thereof, it contended that all actions arising out of the subject
DECISION contracts may only be exclusively brought in the courts of Makati City, and as
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: such, Briones’s complaint should be dismissed for having been filed in the City
Assailed in this petition for certiorari1 are the Decision2 dated March 5, 2012 of Manila.18
and the Resolution3 dated October 4, 2012 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA- In response, Briones filed an opposition,19 asserting, inter alia, that he should
G.R. SP No. 117474, which annulled the Orders dated September 20, 20104 not be covered by the venue stipulation in the subject contracts as he was
and October 22, 20105 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 173 (RTC) never a party therein. He also reiterated that his signatures on the said
contracts were forgeries.20
43
The RTC Ruling Cash Asia, without prejudice to its re-filing before the proper court in Makati
In an Order21 dated September 20, 2010, the RTC denied Cash Asia’s motion City.
to dismiss for lack of merit. In denying the motion, the RTC opined that the Rule 4 of the Rules of Court governs the rules on venue of civil actions, to wit:
parties must be afforded the right to be heard in view of the substance of Rule 4
Briones’s cause of action against Cash Asia as stated in the complaint.22 VENUE OF ACTIONS
Cash Asia moved for reconsideration23 which was, however, denied in an SECTION 1. Venue of real actions. — Actions affecting title to or possession of
Order24 dated October 22, 2010. Aggrieved, it filed a petition for certiorari25 real property, or interest therein, shall be commenced and tried in the proper
before the CA. court which has jurisdiction over the area wherein the real property involved,
The CA Ruling or a portion thereof, is situated.
In a Decision26 dated March 5, 2012, the CA annulled the RTC Orders, and Forcible entry and detainer actions shall be commenced and tried in the
accordingly, dismissed Briones’s complaint without prejudice to the filing of municipal trial court of the municipality or city wherein the real property
the same before the proper court in Makati City.27 It held that the RTC gravely involved, or a portion thereof, is situated.
abused its discretion in denying Cash Asia’s motion to dismiss, considering SEC. 2. Venue of personal actions. — All other actions may be commenced
that the subject contracts clearly provide that actions arising therefrom and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where
should be exclusively filed before the courts of Makati City only.28 As such, the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a
the CA concluded that Briones’s complaint should have been dismissed non-resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the
outright on the ground of improper venue,29 this, notwithstanding Briones’s plaintiff.
claim of forgery. SEC. 3. Venue of actions against nonresidents. — If any of the defendants
Dissatisfied, Briones moved for reconsideration,30 which was, however, does not resideand is not found in the Philippines, and the action affects the
denied in a Resolution31 dated October 4, 2012, hence, this petition. personal status of the plaintiff, or any property of said defendant located in
The Issue Before the Court the Philippines,the action may be commenced and tried in the court of the
The primordial issue for the Court’s resolution is whether or not the CA place where the plaintiff resides, or where the property or any portion
gravely abused its discretion in ordering the outright dismissal of Briones’s thereof is situated or found.
complaint on the ground of improper venue. SEC. 4. When Rule not applicable. — This Rule shall not apply –
The Court’s Ruling (a) In those cases where a specific rule or law provides otherwise; or
The petition is meritorious. (b) Where the parties have validly agreed in writing before the filing of the
At the outset, the Court stresses that "[t]o justify the grant of the action on the exclusive venue thereof.
extraordinary remedy of certiorari, [the petitioner] must satisfactorily show Based therefrom, the general rule is that the venue of real actions is the court
that the court or quasi-judicial authority gravely abused the discretion which has jurisdiction over the area wherein the real property involved, or a
conferred upon it. Grave abuse of discretion connotes judgment exercised in portion thereof, is situated; while the venue of personal actions is the court
a capricious and whimsical manner that is tantamount to lack of jurisdiction. which has jurisdiction where the plaintiff or the defendant resides, at the
To be considered ‘grave,’ discretion must be exercised in a despotic manner election of the plaintiff. As an exception, jurisprudence in Legaspi v. Rep. of
by reason of passion or personal hostility, and must be so patent and gross as the Phils.33 instructs that the parties, thru a written instrument, may either
to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the introduce another venue where actions arising from such instrument may be
duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law."32 Guided by the filed, or restrict the filing of said actions in a certain exclusive venue, viz.:
foregoing considerations, the Court finds that the CA gravely abused its The parties, however, are not precluded from agreeing in writing on an
discretion in ordering the outright dismissal of Briones’s complaint against exclusive venue, as qualified by Section 4 of the same rule. Written
stipulations as to venue may be restrictive in the sense that the suit may be
44
filed only in the place agreed upon, or merely permissive in that the parties Orders dated September 20, 2010 and October 22, 2010 of the Regional Trial
may file their suit not only in the place agreed upon but also in the places Court of Manila, Branch 173 in Civil Case No. 10-124040 are REINSTATED.
fixed by law. As in any other agreement, what is essential is the ascertainment SO ORDERED.
of the intention of the parties respecting the matter.
As regards restrictive stipulations on venue, jurisprudence instructs that it G.R. No. 227146, November 14, 2016
must be shown that such stipulation is exclusive.1âwphi1 In the absence of
qualifying or restrictive words, such as "exclusively," "waiving for this purpose RADIOWEALTH FINANCE COMPANY, INC., Petitioner, v. ROMEO T.
any other venue," "shall only" preceding the designation of venue, "to the NOLASCO AND REYNALDO T. NOLASCO, Respondents.
exclusion of the other courts," or words of similar import, the stipulation
should be deemed as merely an agreement on an additional forum,not as RESOLUTION
limiting venue to the specified place.34 (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
In this relation, case law likewise provides that in cases where the complaint REYES, J.:
assails only the terms, conditions, and/or coverage of a written instrument
and not its validity, the exclusive venue stipulation contained therein shall This is a petition for review on certiorari1 filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of
still be binding on the parties, and thus, the complaint may be properly Court assailing the Amended Order2 dated July 21, 2016 and Order3 dated
dismissed on the ground of improper venue.35 Conversely, therefore, a September 1, 2016 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Mateo, Rizal,
complaint directly assailing the validity of the written instrument itself Branch 75, in Civil Case No. 2806-15 SM, on pure questions of
should not be bound by the exclusive venue stipulation contained therein law.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
and should be filed in accordance with the general rules on venue. To be
sure, it would be inherently consistent for a complaint of this nature to
recognize the exclusive venue stipulation when it, in fact, precisely assails Factual Antecedents
the validity of the instrument in which such stipulation is contained.
In this case, the venue stipulation found in the subject contracts is indeed Radiowealth Finance Company, Inc. (petitioner) is a domestic financing
restrictive in nature, considering that it effectively limits the venue of the corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines,
actions arising therefrom to the courts of Makati City. However, it must be with principal address at 7th Floor, DMG Center, Domingo M. Guevara Street,
emphasized that Briones' s complaint directly assails the validity of the Mandaluyong City. On the other hand, Romeo Nolasco and Reynaldo Nolasco
subject contracts, claiming forgery in their execution. Given this (respondents) are obligors of the petitioner who both maintain residence in
circumstance, Briones cannot be expected to comply with the aforesaid Mandaluyong City.4
venue stipulation, as his compliance therewith would mean an implicit
recognition of their validity. Hence, pursuant to the general rules on venue, On March 31, 2014, the respondents secured a loan from the petitioner in
Briones properly filed his complaint before a court in the City of Manila where the amount of P1,908,360.00, payable in installments within a period of 36
the subject property is located. months, as evidenced by a Promissory Note5 executed on the same day. To
In conclusion, the CA patently erred and hence committed grave abuse of secure the payment of the loan, the respondents constituted a Chattel
discretion in dismissing Briones's complaint on the ground of improper Mortgage6 over a Fuso Super Great Dropside Truck, 2001 Model.7
venue.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the Decision dated Unfortunately, the respondents defaulted in the payment of the installments
March 5, 2012 and the Resolution dated October 4, 2012 of the Court of which caused the entire amount to become due and demandable. The
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 117474 are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The petitioner repeatedly demanded from the respondents the payment of the
45
balance of the loan, but they would not take heed and even refused to
surrender the possession of the motor vehicle which stood as security for the A reading of the questioned orders shows that the RTC confused the terms
loan. Thus, on September 30, 2015, the petitioner filed a complaint8 for Sum jurisdiction and venue, which are completely different concepts. There is no
of Money and Damages with Application for Writ of Replevin with the RTC of question that the RTC has jurisdiction over the complaint filed by the
San Mateo, Rizal, praying that the respondents be ordered to pay their petitioner considering the nature of the case and the amount involved.
balance of P1,600,153.02 or, in the alternative, surrender the possession of
the motor vehicle subject of the Chattel Mortgage dated March 31, 2014 so It bears noting that "'[j]urisdiction' is the court's authority to hear and
that the same may be put up on sale to answer for the obligation and the determine a case. The court's jurisdiction over the nature and subject matter
deficiency, if any, may be determined. of an action is conferred by law."14 Section 19(8) of Batas Pambansa Bilang
129,15 as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7691, provides:
After an ex parte hearing, the RTC issued an Order9 dated March 28, 2016, chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
directing the issuance of the Writ of Replevin. Subsequently, however, the SEC. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive
RTC of San Mateo, Rizal issued an Amended Order10 dated July 21, 2016, original jurisdiction:
dismissing motu proprio the case for lack of jurisdiction. Citing Section 2, Rule
4 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, it ruled that since neither the petitioner xxxx
nor the respondents reside within the jurisdiction of the trial court, that is,
either in San Mateo or Rodriguez, Rizal, the case must be dismissed.11 (8)
In all other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages of
On August 16, 2016, the petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration12 whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses, and costs or the value of
arguing that the RTC of San Mateo, Rizal has jurisdiction over the case. It the property in controversy exceeds One hundred thousand pesos
pointed out that the sum of money involved amounting to P1,600,153.02 is (P100,000.00) or, in such other cases in Metro Manila, where the demand,
well within the jurisdiction of the RTC. Further, the venue is also proper, exclusive of the abovementioned items, exceeds Two hundred thousand
considering that there is a provision in the promissory note which states that pesos (P200,000.00).
any action to enforce payment of any sums due shall exclusively be brought This had been amended by Section 5 of R.A. No. 7691 which reads:
in the proper court within the National Capital Judicial Region or in any place chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
where the petitioner has a branch or office at its sole option. SEC. 5. After five (5) years from the effectivity of this Act, the jurisdictional
amounts mentioned in Sec. 19(3), (4), and (8); and Sec. 33(1) of Batas
In an Order13 dated September 1, 2016, the RTC reiterated its earlier ruling Pambansa Blg. 129 as amended by this Act, shall be adjusted to Two hundred
and denied the petitioner's motion for reconsideration. thousand pesos (P200,000.00). Five (5) years thereafter, such jurisdictional
amounts shall be adjusted further to Three hundred thousand pesos
The petitioner now comes before this Court, challenging the order of the RTC (P300,000.00): Provided, however, That in the case of Metro Manila, the
on pure questions of law. It contends that the RTC erred in concluding that it abovementioned jurisdictional amounts shall be adjusted after five (5) years
had no jurisdiction over the case and in motu proprio dismissing the same on from the effectivity of this Act to Four hundred thousand pesos
the ground of improper venue.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (P400,000.00).ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
The amount of P1,600,153.02 involved in the instant case is undoubtedly
Ruling of the Court within the jurisdiction of the RTC, as all money claims exceeding P400,000.00
are within its authority to hear and decide. It is an error, therefore, for the
The petition is meritorious. RTC to claim lack of jurisdiction over the case.
46
convenience of the parties to the dispute. In Unimasters Conglomeration, Inc.
At one point, the RTC anchored its ruling of dismissal on the fact that the v. CA,16 the Court emphasized:
complaint should have been filed in Mandaluyong City where the petitioner chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
holds its main office and where the respondents both reside, and not in San Parties may by stipulation waive the legal venue and such waiver is valid and
Mateo, Rizal. effective being merely a personal privilege, which is not contrary to public
policy or prejudicial to third persons. It is a general principle that a person
Apparently, the RTC mistook jurisdiction for the more lenient concept of may renounce any right which the law gives unless such renunciation would
venue. To clarify, jurisdiction and venue are not synonymous concepts. be against public policy.
Primarily, jurisdiction is conferred by law and not subject to stipulation of the
parties. It relates to the nature of the case. On the contrary, venue pertains xxxx
to the place where the case may be filed. Unlike jurisdiction, venue may be
waived and subjected to the agreement of the parties provided that it does Since convenience is the raison d'etre of the rules of venue, it is easy to accept
not cause them inconvenience. the proposition that normally, venue stipulations should be deemed
permissive merely, and that interpretation should be adopted which most
Section 2, Rule 4 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which was relied upon serves the parties' convenience. In other words, stipulations designating
by the RTC to support its ruling of dismissal, reads as follows: venues other than those assigned by Rule 4 should be interpreted as designed
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary to make it more convenient for the parties to institute actions arising from or
Section 2. Venue of personal actions. - All other actions may be commenced in relation to their agreements; that is to say, as simply adding to or
and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where expanding the venues indicated in said Rule 4.17 (Citations
the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a omitted)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
non-resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the There is, therefore, nothing that prohibits the parties to decide on a different
plaintiff. (Emphasis ours)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary venue for any dispute or action that may arise from their agreement. In this
The foregoing provision is not restrictive. A plain reading of the provision case, in the promissory note executed and signed by the parties, there is a
shows that it is merely permissive as manifested by the use of the term provision which states that "[a]ny action to enforce payment of any sums due
"may." Moreover, the clear language of the ensuing provision of Section 4 under this Note shall exclusively be brought in the proper court within the
expressly allows the venue of personal actions to be subjected to the National Capital Judicial Region or in any place where [the petitioner] has a
stipulation of the parties. It reads, thus: branch/office, at its sole option."18 Thus, the petitioner's filing of the case in
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary San Mateo, Rizal, where it maintains a branch is proper and should have been
Section 4. When rule not applicable. - This Rule shall not apply. respected by the RTC especially when there appears no objection on the part
of the respondents.
(a)
In those cases where a specific rule or law provides otherwise; Moreover, the Court has emphasized in several cases that the RTC may not
or motu proprio dismiss the case on the ground of improper venue. It is a matter
(b) personal to the parties and without their objection at the earliest
Where the parties have validly agreed in writing before the filing of the action opportunity, as in a motion to dismiss or in the answer, it is deemed waived.
on the exclusive venue thereof. (Emphasis ours)
Clearly, stipulation on venue is permitted and must be recognized for as long The discussion m Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate Court19 is squarely in
as it does not defeat the purpose of the Rules which primarily aims for the point, viz.:
47
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary G.R. No. 222711
Dismissing the complaint on the ground of improper venue is certainly not LEY CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, represented by its
the appropriate course of action at this stage of the proceeding, particularly President, JANET C. LEY, Petitioner,
as venue, in inferior courts as well as in the Courts of First Instance (now RTC), vs.
may be waived expressly or impliedly. Where defendant fails to challenge MARVIN MEDEL SEDANO, doing business under the name and style "LOLA
timely the venue in a motion to dismiss as provided by Section 4 of Rule 4 of TABA LOLO PATO PALENGKE AT PALUTO SA SEASIDE,", Respondent.
the Rules of Court, and allows the trial to be held and a decision to be DECISION
rendered, he cannot on appeal or in a special action be permitted to challenge PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
belatedly the wrong venue, which is deemed waived. Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the Orders dated June
15, 20152 and January 27, 20163 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Thus, unless and until the defendant objects to the venue in a motion to Valenzuela City, Branch 75 (Valenzuela-RTC) in Civil Case No. 40-V-12, which
dismiss, the venue cannot be truly said to have been improperly laid, as for dismissed petitioner Ley Construction and Development Corporation's (as
all practical intents and purposes, the venue, though technically wrong, may represented by its President, Janet C. Ley; petitioner) complaint for collection
be acceptable to the parties for whose convenience the rules on venue had of sum of money and damages, without prejudice, on the ground of improper
been devised. The trial court cannot pre-empt the defendant's prerogative to venue.
object to the improper laying of the venue by motu proprio dismissing the The Facts
case.20ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary On March 13, 2012, petitioner filed a Complaint for Collection of Sum of
In the present case, the RTC carelessly interfered with the parties' agreement Money and Damages4 against respondent Marvin Medel Sedano
on the venue of their dispute and interrupted what could have been an (respondent), doing business under the name and style "Lola Taha Lalo Pata
expeditious flow of the proceeding. To reiterate, the choice of venue is a Palengke at Paluto sa Seaside," before the Valenzuela-RTC, docketed as Civil
matter addressed to the sound judgment of the parties based on Case No. 40-V-12. In its complaint, petitioner alleged that on January 14,
considerations personal to them, i.e. convenience. It is only the parties who 2005, it leased5 a 50,000-square meter (sq.m.) parcel of land located at
may raise objection on the same. Absent such protest, it is an error for the Financial Center Area, Pasay City (now, Lot 5-A Diosdado Macapagal
RTC to decide that the venue was improperly laid as it is tantamount to Boulevard, Pasay City) from respondent third-party defendant, the Philippine
needlessly interfering to a mutually agreed term. National Construction Corporation (PNCC).6 On September 11, 2006,
petitioner subleased7 the 14,659.80-sq.m. portion thereof to respondent for
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Amended Order dated July 21, a term often (10) years beginning November 15, 2005, for a monthly rent of
2016 and Order dated September 1, 2016 of the Regional Trial Court of San ₱1,174,780.00, subject to a ten percent (10%) increase beginning on the third
Mateo, Rizal, Branch 75, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and Civil Case No. year and every year thereafter (lease contract).8 Respondent allegedly failed
2806-15 SM is hereby ordered REINSTATED. The RTC is ordered to proceed to pay the rent due for the period August 2011 to December 2011, amounting
with dispatch in the disposition of the mentioned case. to a total of P8,828,025.46, and despite demands,9 refused to settle his
obligations;10 hence, the complaint.
SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary In his Answer with Third-Party Complaint,11 respondent countered that he
religiously paid rent to petitioner until PNCC demanded12 that the rent be
paid directly to it, in view of the petitioner's eviction from the subject
property by virtue of a court order.13 Thus, during the period from August
2011 until December 2011, he remitted the rentals to PNCC.14 Should he be
found liable to petitioner, respondent maintained that the RTC should hold
48
PNCC liable to reimburse to him the amounts he paid as rentals; hence, the Trial Courts.27 However, with respect to the filing of cases cognizable by the
third-party complaint.15 RTCs, the stipulation validly limits the venue to the RTC of Pasay City.28 Since
Respondent likewise pointed out that the venue was improperly laid since petitioner's complaint is one for collection of sum of money in an amount that
Section 2116 of the lease contract provides that "[a]ll actions or case[s] filed is within the jurisdiction of the R TC, petitioner should have filed the case with
in connection with this case shall be filed with the Regional Trial Court of the RTC of Pasay City.29
Pasay City, exclusive of all others."17 Hence, the complaint should be The Valenzuela-RTC also found no merit in petitioner's claim that respondent
dismissed on the ground of improper venue. waived his right to question the venue when he filed several motions for
Finally, respondent argued that he paid petitioner the amounts of extension of time to file his answer. It pointed out that improper venue was
₱3,518,352.00 as deposit and advance rentals under the lease contract, and among the defenses raised in respondent's Answer. As such, it was timely
that he made a ₱400,000.00 overpayment, all of which amounts were not raised and, therefore, not waived.30
liquidated or credited to respondent during the subsistence of the lease Aggrieved, petitioner moved for reconsideration31 which was, however,
contract. Thus, respondent interposed a counterclaim, seeking petitioner to denied by the Valenzuela-RTC in its Order32 dated January 27, 2016; hence,
reimburse the said amounts to him, and to pay him moral and exemplary the present petition.
damages, including litigation expenses, in view of petitioner's filing of such The Issue Before the Court
baseless suit.18 The sole issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not the Valenzuela-RTC
In its Comment/Opposition19 to respondent's affirmative defense of erred in ruling that venue was improperly laid.
improper venue, petitioner argued that Section 21 of the lease contract is not The Court's Ruling
a stipulation as to venue, but a stipulation on jurisdiction which is void.20 This The petition has no merit.
is because such stipulation deprives other courts, i.e., the Municipal Trial Rule 4
VENUE OF ACTIONS
Courts, of jurisdiction over cases which, under the law, are within its exclusive Section 1. Venue of real actions. - Actions affecting title to or possession of
original jurisdiction, such as an action for unlawful detainer.21 Petitioner real property, or interest therein, shall be commenced and tried in the proper
further posited that respondent had already submitted himself to the court which has jurisdiction over the area wherein the
jurisdiction of the Valenzuela-RTC and had waived any objections on venue, real property involved, or a portion thereof, is situated.
since he sought affirmative reliefs from the said court when he asked several Forcible entry and detainer actions shall be commenced and tried in the
times for additional time to file his responsive pleading, set-up counterclaims municipal trial court of the municipality or city wherein the real property
against petitioner, and impleaded PNCC as a third-party defendant.22 involved, or a portion thereof, is situated.
Meanwhile, in its Answer to Third Party Complaint with Counterclaim,23 PNCC Section 2. Venue of personal actions. -All other actions may be commenced
contended that respondent has no cause of action against it, since he and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where
acknowledged PNCC’s right to receive rent, as evidenced by his direct the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or in the case of a
payment thereof to PNCC.24 Respondent also entered into a contract of lease non-resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the
with PNCC after learning that petitioner had been evicted from the premises plaintiff.
by virtue of a court ruling.25 Section 3. Venue of actions against nonresidents. - If any of the defendants
The Valenzuela-RTC Ruling does not reside and is not found in the Philippines, and the action affects the
In an Order26 dated June 15, 2015, the Valenzuela-RTC granted respondent's personal status of the plaintiff, or any property of said defendant located in
motion and dismissed the complaint on the ground of improper venue. It held the Philippines, the action may be commenced and tried in the court of the
that Section 21 of the lease contract between petitioner and respondent is place where the plaintiff resides, or where the property or any portion
void insofar as it limits the filing of cases with the R TC of Pasay City, even thereof is situated or found.
when the subject matter jurisdiction over the case is with the Metropolitan Section 4. When Rule not applicable. - This Rule shall not apply -
49
(a) In those cases where a specific rule or law provides otherwise; or phrase "exclusive of all others" and the specification of the locality of Pasay
(b) Where the parties have validly agreed in writing before the filing of the City as the place where such cases may be filed.
action on the exclusive venue thereof. (Emphases supplied) Notably, the fact that this stipulation generalizes that all actions or cases of
Based on these provisions, the venue for personal actions shall - as a general the aforementioned kind shall be filed with the RTC of Pasay City, to the
rule - lie with the court which has jurisdiction where the plaintiff or the exclusion of all other courts, does not mean that the same is a stipulation
defendant resides, at the election of the plaintiff.33 As an exception, parties which attempts to curtail the jurisdiction of all other courts. It is fundamental
may, through a written instrument, restrict the filing of said actions in a that jurisdiction is conferred by law and not subject to stipulation of the
certain exclusive venue.34 In Briones v. Court of Appeals,35 the Court parties.40 Hence, following the rule that the law is deemed written into every
explained: contract,41 the said stipulation should not be construed as a stipulation on
Written stipulations as to venue may be restrictive in the sense that the suit jurisdiction but rather, one which merely limits venue. Moreover, "[t]he
may be filed only in the place agreed upon, or merely permissive in that the parties are charged with knowledge of the existing law at the time they enter
parties may file their suit not only in the place agreed upon but also in the into the contract and at the time it is to become operative."42 Thus, without
places fixed by law. As in any other agreement, what is essential is the any clear showing in the contract that the parties intended otherwise, the
ascertainment of the intention of the parties respecting the matter. questioned stipulation should be considered as a stipulation on venue (and
As regards restrictive stipulations on venue, jurisprudence instructs that it not on jurisdiction), consistent with the basic principles of procedural law.
must be shown that such stipulation is exclusive. In the absence of qualifying In this case, it is undisputed that petitioner's action was one for collection of
or restrictive words, such as "exclusively," "waiving for this purpose any other sum of money in an amount43 that falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the
venue," "shall only" preceding the designation of venue, "to the exclusion of RTC.44 Since the lease contract already provided that all actions or cases
the other courts," or words of similar import, the stipulation should be involving the breach thereof should be filed with the RTC of Pasay City, and
deemed as merely an agreement on an additional forum, not as limiting that petitioner’s complaint purporting the said breach fell within the RTC's
venue to the specified place.36 exclusive original jurisdiction, the latter should have then followed the
In Pilipino Telephone Corporation v. Tecson,37 the Court held that an exclusive contractual stipulation and filed its complaint before the RTC of Pasay City.
venue stipulation is valid and binding, provided that: (a) the stipulation on the However, it is undeniable that petitioner filed its complaint with the
chosen venue is exclusive in nature or in intent; (b) it is expressed in writing Valenzuela-RTC; hence, the same is clearly dismissible on the ground of
by the parties thereto; and (c) it is entered into before the filing of the suit.38 improper venue, without prejudice, however, to its refiling in the proper
After a thorough study of the case, the Court is convinced that all these court.
elements are present and that the questioned stipulation in the lease That respondent had filed several motions for extension of time to file a
contract, i.e., Section 21 thereof, is a valid venue stipulation that limits the responsive pleading, or that he interposed a counterclaim or third-party
venue of the cases to the courts of Pasay City. It states: complaint in his answer does not necessarily mean that he waived the
21. Should any of the party (sic) renege or violate any terms and conditions affirmative defense of improper venue. The prevailing rule on objections to
of this lease contract, it shall be liable for damages.1âwphi1 All actions or improper venue is that the same must be raised at the earliest opportunity,
case[s] filed in connection with this lease shall be filed with the Regional Trial as in an answer or a motion to dismiss; otherwise, it is deemed waived.45
Court of Pasay City, exclusive of all others.39 (Emphases and underscoring Here, respondent timely raised the ground of improper venue since it was
supplied) one of the affirmative defenses raised in his Answer with Third-Party
The above provision clearly shows the parties' intention to limit the place Complaint.46 As such, it cannot be said that he had waived the same.
where actions or cases arising from a violation of the terms and conditions of Further, it should be pointed out that the case of Pangasinan Transportation
the contract of lease may be instituted. This is evident from the use of the Co., Inc. v. Yatco (Pantranco) 47 cited in the instant petition48 should not apply
to this case, considering that the invocation of the ground of improper venue
50
therein was not based on a contractual stipulation, but rather on respondent
Elpidio O. Dizon's alleged violation of the Rules of Court, as he filed his case XI. RULE 5: UNIFORM PROCEDURE IN TRIAL COURTS
for damages before the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch IV (Quezon
City), despite testifying that he was actually a resident of Dagupan City. In that G.R. No. 105866 July 6, 1993
case, the Court ruled that the filing of a counterclaim and third party- VICTORIA D. BAYUBAY, represented by her attorney-in-fact, MARIBEL
complaint, and additionally, the introduction of evidence of petitioner MAMARIL, petitioner,
Pantranco (respondent in the case for damages) after the denial of its motion vs.
to dismiss on the ground of improper venue, "necessarily implied a THE COURT OF APPEALS, Former Fourth Division and BIG MAK BURGER,
submission to the jurisdiction of [the trial court therein], and, accordingly, a INC., respondents.
waiver of such right as Pantranco may have had to object to the venue, upon Rodolfo P. Orticio for petitioner.
the ground that it had been improperly laid."49 The rationale for the Robles, Ricafrente & Aguirre Law Firm for private respondent.
Pantranco ruling is that a party cannot invoke a violation of a rule on venue
against his counter-party, when he himself is bound by the same rule, but CRUZ, J.:
nonetheless, seeks his own relief and in so doing, violates it. The proceeding at bar traces its origin to an action for ejectment filed by
In contrast, the counterclaim of respondent was alleged to be a compulsory petitioner Victoria D. Bayubay in the Municipal Trial Court of Los Baños,
counterclaim,50 which he was prompted to file only because of petitioner's Laguna, on April 11, 1990, on the ground of expiration of the contract of lease.
complaint for collection of sum of money, else the same would be barred.51 Private respondent Big Mak Burger argued in its answer that it had the option
In fact, his counterclaim only sought reimbursement of his overpayment to to renew the term of the lease contract "under such conditions as may be
petitioner in the amount of ₱400,000.00, as well as damages for the filing of agreed upon by the parties" and set up the defense of estoppel. It also alleged
a purported baseless suit. Thus, his counterclaim is not covered by the venue a counterclaim for damages and reimbursement of expenses allegedly
stipulation, since he is not asserting a violation of the terms and conditions of inccured by it on the leased promises.
the lease contract, but rather an independent right which arose only because The Municipal Trial Court issued summons with the notification that the case
of the complaint. The same goes for his third-party complaint, whereby he would be heard under the Rule on Summary Procedure.
only pleaded that the rental payments remitted to PNCC for the period After three pre-trial meetings and the marking of the exhibits, which included
August 2011 to December 2011 be reimbursed to him in the event that the lease contract and the exchange of letters between the parties, Judge
petitioner's complaint is found to be meritorious. Since his counterclaim and Romulo G. Carteciano rendered a decision holding that the contract of lease
third-party complaint are not covered by the venue stipulation, respondent had expired because no extension had been agreed upon by the parties as
had, therefore, every right to invoke the same whilst raising the ground of required by the agreement.1
improper venue against petitioner's complaint, which action was, on the The private respondent appealed to the Regional Trial Court of Calamba,
contrary, covered by the stipulation. Thus, there is no inconsistency in Laguna, on the ground that "the MTC violated Secs. 6 and 7 of the Rules on
respondent's posturing, which perforce precludes the application of the Summary Procedure by rendering judgment without ordering the parties to
Pantranco ruling, as well as negates the supposition that he had waived the submit their respective position papers and affidavits of their respective
defense of improper venue. witnesses, as a consequence of which, defendant's right to due process was
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Accordingly, the Orders dated June 15, violated."2
2015 and January 27, 2016 of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela City, On December 23, 1991, the Regional Trial Court affirmed the appealed
Branch 75 in Civil Case No. 40-V-12 are hereby AFFIRMED. decision in toto.3 However, it was reversed by the Court of Appeals, which
SO ORDERED. ordered the remand of the case to the Municipal Trial Court for further
proceedings.4
51
The decision of the Court of Appeals is now before us. The petitioner distinctly setting forth the issues of the case and the other matters taken up
contends that the respondent court erred in ruling that: (1) the failure of the during the preliminary conference.
MTC to give the private respondent the opportunity to submit its position The order is an important part of the summary procedure because it is its
paper and/or affidavit of witnesses constituted a denial of due process; (2) receipt by the parties that begins the ten-day period to submit the affidavits
the questions raised were not only questions of law because the answer and other evidence mentioned in Sec. 7.
contained a counterclaim for reimbursement of improvements allegedly The minutes of the Municipal Trial Court dated August 22, 1989, contained a
made by the lessee on the premises, and damages; and (3) there was still a notation that the pre-trial had been "terminated" and that the parties were
necessity for the MTC to issue an order following the close of the pre-trial to submit position papers.5 However, there was no order to this effect nor
conference. was there an indication of when the position papers were to be submitted for
In its Comment, the private respondent refutes these contentions and argues the purpose of discussing the factual questioning raised.
that (1) the petition raises questions of fact as well as law, such as the As correctly observed by the Court of Appeals —
expenses incurred by the lessor in the improvement of the leased premises We think that the failure of the MTC to give the petitioner the opportunity to
and the damages sustained by it as a result of the filing of the complaint; (2) submit its position paper and/or affidavit of witnesses constituted a denial of
it was deprived of the opportunity to submit its position paper and/or due process. True, between August 22, 1989 and December 18, 1989, when
affidavits of witnesses and so denied due process; and (3) there was a need the MTC rendered its decision was a period of more than three months. But
to remand the case to the MTC so that evidence could be presented to prove under the Rule on Summary Procedure, the ten-day period for submitting
the factual issues through position papers and affidavits. affidavits and position papers did not commence to run, until receipt by a
We see nothing wrong with the decision of the Court of Appeals remanding party of the order of the court embodying the results of the pre-trial
the case to the Municipal Trial Court for further proceedings. The respondent conference. Here, as already stated, the MTC never issued such an order and
court was merely enforcing the mandatory provisions of the Rule on so the ten day period never started to run.
Summary Procedure. It is not true, as the MTC said, that the only questions raised were questions
The record shows that the Municipal Trial Court failed to take into account of law. The petitioner's answer contained a counterclaim for reimbursement
the following pertinent provisions of the Rule: of improvements allegedly made by it on the premises, as well as claim for
Sec. 6. Preliminary Conference. — Not later than thirty (30) days after the last damages for alleged bad faith of private respondent in bringing the case —
answer is filed, the case shall be calendared for a preliminary conference. questions which obviously, required at least the affidavits of witnesses.
Among other matters, should the parties fail to arrive at an amicable The Court of Appeals did not err therefore in calling for the remand of the
settlement, the court must clarify and define the issues of the case, which case to the Municipal Trial Court. While the municipal judge may be
must be clearly and distinctly set forth in the order to be issued immediately commended for his zeal in speeding up the resolution of the case, he
after such preliminary conference, together with the other matters taken up nevertheless cannot be sustained for his non-observance of the Rule on
during the same. Summary Procedure.
Sec. 7. Submission of affidavits. — Within ten (10) days from receipt of the We conclude with the following reminder:
order mentioned in the next preceding section, the parties shall submit the Rules of procedure are intended to ensure the orderly administration of
affidavits of witnesses and other evidences on the factual issues defined justice and the protection of substantive rights in judicial and extra-judicial
therein, together with a brief statement of their petitions setting forth the proceedings. It is a mistake to suppose that substantive law and adjective law
law and the facts relied upon by them. are contradictory to each other or, as has been often suggested, that
The above provisions require that immediately after the preliminary enforcement of procedural rules should never be permitted if it will result in
conference, the Municipal Trial Court should issue an order clearly and prejudice to the substantive rights of the litigants. This is not exactly true; the
concept is much misunderstood. As a matter of fact the policy of the courts
52
is to give affect to both kinds of law, as complementing each other, in the just a prohibited motion in an ejectment case. She explained, however, that it was
and speedy resolution of the dispute between the parties. Observance of both granted in the interest of justice.
substantive and procedural rights is equally guaranteed by due process, In her Comment, respondent stated:
whatever the source of such rights, be it the Constitution itself or only a "The Order subject of this complaint is the Order dated January 13, 1997
statute or a rule of court. 6 dismissing the complaint for ejectment for failure of the plaintiff to appear
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, with costs against the petitioner. It is so for preliminary conference and more importantly her lawyer, Atty. Jose Suing,
ordered. who was duly empowered to appear for preliminary conference by virtue of
a Special Power of Attorney. Chief
[A.M. No. MTJ-99-1226. January 31, 2000] Immediately upon learning the said order of dismissal and awarding of
GLORIA LUCAS, complainant, vs. JUDGE AMELIA A. FABROS, MeTC, Branch attorneys fees, Atty. Suing filed a Motion for Reconsideration on January 17,
9, Manila, respondent. 1997 (Annex "A") stating that he failed to appear due to a sudden excruciating
RESOLUTION stomach pain. He further stated that his Secretary called the Court but to no
QUISUMBING, J.: avail until finally the call came through and she was informed that the case
In a verified complaint dated May 20, 1997, complainant Gloria Lucas charged was dismissed. Over the objection of the defendant that the Motion for
respondent, Judge Amelia A. Fabros of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch Reconsideration was a prohibited pleading which this Presiding Judge is fully
9, Manila, with Gross Ignorance of the Law and Grave Abuse of Discretion aware of under the Rule on Summary Procedure, the Motion for
relative to Civil Case No. 151248 entitled "Editha F. Gacad, represented by Reconsideration was nonetheless granted in the interest of justice. The
Elenita F. Castelo vs. Gloria Lucas, for Ejectment". Jksm question is poised. Are the actuations of judges to be governed strictly by the
Complainant, who was the defendant in the aforecited case, alleged that Rule on Summary Procedure despite their belief in good faith that in special
Judge Amelia A. Fabros issued an Order dated February 26, 1997 granting the cases, its observance would result in a miscarriage of justice? This Presiding
plaintiffs motion for reconsideration of the Order dated January 13, 1997, Judge does not think so. Judges are supposed to responsible Public Officials
which dismissed the case for failure of plaintiff and her counsel to appear at and should be able to perceive and discern circumstances which might lead
the Preliminary Conference. to miscarriage of justice, thus, negating the very purpose and essence of the
Complainant averred that it is elementary, under Section 19 (c) of the Rules Rule on Summary Procedure. The Rule on Summary Procedure is not a
of Summary Procedure, that a motion for reconsideration is prohibited, but straight jacket and it is believed it was never meant to be that. This is the
respondent judge, in violation of the rule, granted the motion for reason why we have in the Rules of Court Section 5 (g) of Rule 135 which is
reconsideration. She added that, notwithstanding the fact that the one of the inherent powers of the Court, that is, to amend and control its
respondent herself had pointed out in open court that the case is governed process and orders so as to make them conformable to law and justice.
by the Rules on Summary Procedure, the judge ordered the revival of the case Ignorance of the law, to the mind of the undersigned, is the act of a judge in
out of malice, partiality and with intent to cause an injury to complainant. taking legal steps or adopting procedure unknowingly aware that they are
Further, complainant alleged that the actuations of the respondent is in contrary to established Rules which should be known to the judge. This
blatant disregard of the established rules on procedure, and it is an instance Presiding Judge in this particular case was fully aware of the Rule on Summary
where the doctrine of IPSA LOQUITOR may once again may be applied by the Procedure. She fully knew that the Motion for Reconsideration was a
Court to discipline judges. prohibited pleading but she still considered it because to deny it would result
On June 18, 1997, respondent judge was required to comment on the in a miscarriage of justice. It was not a capricious, whimsical and despotic act
administrative complaint. In her Comment dated September 16, 1997, she when viewed in the light of this circumstance.
admitted that she granted the motion for reconsideration even if the same is With respect to the allegation that the charge of ignorance of the law was
compounded by the failure to issue a writ of execution, it bears stressing that
53
the Order dated January 13, 1997 never gained finality because the plaintiff This rule, however, applies only where the judgment sought to be
was able to file the Motion for Reconsideration within the fifteen (15) day reconsidered is one rendered on the merits. As held by the Court in an earlier
period, that is, on January 17, 1997. But even if it is argued validly that the case involving Sec. 15 (c) of the Rules on Summary Procedure, later Sec. 19
Motion for Reconsideration being a prohibited pleading did not interrupt the (c) of the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure effective November 15, 1991:
running of the period of appeal, still the said Order did not gain finality as far "The motion prohibited by this Section is that which seeks reconsideration of
as defendant Gloria Lucas is concerned because as the record shows, it was the judgment rendered by the court after trial on the merits of the case."
she who received the Order, not her lawyer, Atty. Sulit." Esm Here, the order of dismissal issued by respondent judge due to failure of a
The complaint and the Comment were referred to the Office of the Court party to appear during the preliminary conference is obviously not a
Administrator for evaluation, report and recommendation after the case was judgment on the merits after trial of the case. Hence, a motion for the
docketed as an administrative matter. On August 25, 1997, OCA in a reconsideration of such order is not the prohibited pleading contemplated
Memorandum, submitted the following findings: under Section 19 (c) of the present Rule on Summary Procedure. Thus,
"After a careful perusal of the records of the case, we find that respondent respondent judge committed no grave abuse of discretion, nor is she guilty of
Judge Fabros abused her discretion in granting the Motion for ignorance of the law, in giving due course to the motion for reconsideration
Reconsideration. subject of the present complaint. Esmsc
Respondent Judge Fabros maintained that she could not be guilty of gross ACCORDINGLY, the complaint filed against respondent Judge Amelia A.
ignorance of the law as she knows that a motion for reconsideration of Fabros is DISMISSED.
judgment is a prohibited motion in an ejectment case. She explained that SO ORDERED.
although there is already a judgment dismissing the case, she granted the
plaintiffs motion for reconsideration in the interest of justice since the [G.R. No. 141614. August 14, 2002]
reasons stated in the motion for reconsideration are meritorious. TERESITA BONGATO, petitioner, vs. Spouses SEVERO A. MALVAR and
Respondent failed to realize that the first duty of the court is to apply the law TRINIDAD MALVAR, respondents.
and that when the law is clear and unambiguous, there is no room for DECISION
interpretation. Although her intention was good, this could not free her from PANGANIBAN, J.:
liability. An action for forcible entry is a quieting process that is summary in nature. It
Respondent should have denied the motion since the plaintiff had other is designed to recover physical possession in speedy proceedings that are
judicial remedies like appeal. restrictive in nature, scope and time limits. The one-year bar within which to
The Office of the Court Administrator recommended that respondent judge bring the suit is prescribed to complement its summary nature. Thus, after
be fined in the amount of P2,000.00 for grave abuse of discretion. The Court, the one-year period has lapsed, plaintiffs can no longer avail themselves of
however, finds this recommendation without factual and legal basis. the summary proceedings in the municipal trial court but must litigate, in the
As a rule, a motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading under Section normal course, in the regional trial court in an ordinary action to recover
19 of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure. Thus, possession, or to recover both ownership and possession.
"SEC. 19. Prohibited pleadings and motions. The following pleadings, motions, Statement of the Case
or petitions shall not be allowed in the cases covered by this Rule. Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
xxx Court, assailing the December 16, 1998 Decision and the September 1, 1999
(c) Motion for new trial, or for reconsideration of a judgment, or for Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No. 34204. The decretal
reopening of trial; portion of the Decision reads:
xxx" WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby dismissed for lack of merit. Costs against
petitioner.
54
The assailed Resolution denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. On March 28, 1994, petitioner filed a motion for extension of the March 29,
The CA sustained the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Butuan City 1994 deadline for the submission of the relocation survey and to move the
(Branch 4), which had disposed thus: deadline to April 15, 1994, as the engineer concerned, Engr. Lumarda, could
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the Court hereby affirms the not conduct his survey during the Holy Week, he being a lay minister and
decision of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 2 penned by the parish council member.
Honorable Santos Rod. Cedro and the Writ of Execution issued on the 24th On April 7, 1994, respondent Judge noted that no survey report was
day of August 1993 upon order of the Honorable Rosarito F. Dabalos (Record, submitted and ordered the record of the case returned to the court of origin
p. 42, Folio II) can now be served on the defendant. for disposal.(Citations omitted)
The Facts Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The factual antecedents of the case are summarized by the Court of Appeals The CA held that the lot referred to in the present controversy was different
as follows: from that involved in the anti-squatting case. It further ruled that the
The spouses Severo and Trinidad Malvar filed a complaint for forcible entry Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) had jurisdiction, and that it did not err
against petitioner Teresita Bongato, alleging that petitioner Bongato in rejecting petitioners Motion to Dismiss. The appellate court reasoned that
unlawfully entered a parcel of land covered by TCT No. RT-16200 belonging the MTCC had passed upon the issue of ownership of the property merely to
to the said spouses and erected thereon a house of light materials. The determine possession -- an action that did not oust the latter of its
petitioner filed a motion for extension of time to file an answer which the jurisdiction.
MTCC denied; it being proscribed under the Rule on Summary Procedure, and Unsatisfied with the CA Decision, petitioner lodged this Petition.
likewise containing no notice of hearing. With a new counsel, Atty. Viador C. Issues
Viajar, petitioner filed an answer which the MTCC disregarded, the same In her Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues for this Courts
having been filed beyond the ten-day reglementary period. Later, with still consideration:
another counsel, Atty. Jesus G. Chavez of the Public Attorneys Office, I
petitioner filed a motion to dismiss which the MTCC denied as being contrary Whether or not the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in not
to the Rule on Summary Procedure. finding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction since the Complaint was filed
Thereafter, the MTCC rendered a decision ordering petitioner to vacate the beyond the one-year period from date of alleged entry;
land in question, and to pay rentals, attorneys fees, and the costs of the suit. II
The decision was affirmed by respondent RTC judge. Petitioner filed a motion Whether or not the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in ruling
for reconsideration. that the Motion to Dismiss was a prohibited pleading.
On March 4, 1994, respondent Judge issued an order granting the motion for This Courts Ruling
reconsideration only insofar as to determine the location of the houses The Petition is meritorious.
involved in this civil case so that the Court will know whether they are located First Issue:
on one and the same lot or a lot different from that involved in the criminal MTCC Jurisdiction
case for Anti-Squatting. In the same order, respondent Judge disallowed any Petitioner claims that the MTCC had no jurisdiction, because the Complaint
extension and warned that if the survey is not made, the court might consider for forcible entry was filed only in 1992 or beyond the one-year period
the same abandoned and the writ of execution would be issued. provided under the Rules of Civil Procedure. She avers that in Criminal Case
The criminal case for anti-squatting (Crim. Case No. 4659) was filed by private No. 4659 for anti-squatting, Respondent Severo Malvar alleged in his Sworn
respondents Malvar against petitioner Bongato. The case is still pending with Statement that petitioner had illegally entered his land sometime in the first
the Regional Trial Court, Branch I, Butuan City. week of January 1987.

55
On the other hand, respondents contend that the subject of the anti- they are based, are premised on the absence of evidence, or are contradicted
squatting case is different from the parcel of land involved here. by evidence on record.
Before tackling the issue directly, it is worthwhile to restate three basic legal Respondents in the present Petition filed three cases against petitioner: (1)
principles. First, in forcible entry, one employs force, intimidation, threat, Criminal Case No. 4659 for violation of PD No. 772 (filed on October 2, 1991),
strategy or stealth to deprive another of physical possession of land or in which petitioner was acquitted on the ground of good faith; (2) Civil Case
building.Thus, the plaintiff must allege and prove prior physical possession of No. 5681 for forcible entry (filed on July 10, 1992) which was resolved by the
the property in litigation until deprived thereof by the defendant. This MTCC on October 26, 1992. (3) Criminal Case No. 5734 for Violation of PD No.
requirement implies that the possession of the disputed land by the latter 1096 (filed on July 15, 1993), wherein petitioner was again acquitted.
was unlawful from the beginning. The sole question for resolution hinges on We agree with respondents that Lot 10-A, covered by Transfer Certificate of
the physical or material possession (possession de facto) of the property. Title (TCT) No. RT-16200 and registered under the name of Severo Malvar, is
Neither a claim of juridical possession (possession de jure) nor an averment different from Lot 1 which is covered by TCT No. RT-15993] and registered
of ownership by the defendant can outrightly prevent the court from taking under the name of Severo Malvar also. However, we cannot ignore the
cognizance of the case. Ejectment cases proceed independently of any claim Decision dated April 30, 1996 in Criminal Case No. 4659 for violation of PD
of ownership, and the plaintiff needs merely to prove prior possession de 772; or the Decision dated November 26, 1997 in Criminal Case No. 5734 for
facto and undue deprivation thereof. violation of PD 1096. The property involved in these two criminal cases and
Second, as a general rule, courts do not take judicial notice of the evidence in the instant case for forcible entry is one and the same -- petitioners house.
presented in other proceedings, even if these have been tried or are pending The allegation of petitioner that there is only one house involved in these
in the same court or before the same judge. There are exceptions to this rule. three cases has not been controverted by respondents. Neither was there
Ordinarily, an appellate court cannot refer to the record in another case to evidence presented to prove that, indeed, she had constructed one house on
ascertain a fact not shown in the record of the case before it yet, it has been Lot 1 and another on Lot 10-A. On the contrary, she correctly points out that
held that it may consult decisions in other proceedings, in order to look for the house involved in these three cases is found on one and the same
the law that is determinative of or applicable to the case under review. In location. Verily, in his Sworn Statement submitted in Criminal Case No. 4659,
some instances, courts have also taken judicial notice of proceedings in other Respondent Severo Malvar stated that petitioners house was located in front
cases that are closely connected to the matter in controversy. These cases of the Museum and just behind the City Hall. On the other hand, in the
may be so closely interwoven, or so clearly interdependent, as to invoke a Complaint] for forcible entry, the subject property was said to be located
rule of judicial notice. along Doongan Road and right in front of the Regional National Museum and
Third, factual findings of trial courts, especially when affirmed by the Court of not far behind the City Hall of Butuan City. Lastly, the Decision in Criminal Case
Appeals, are binding on the Supreme Court. Indeed, the review of such No. 5734 stated that the building inspector, Engineer Margarita Burias, had
findings is not a function that this Court normally undertakes. However, this responded to a verbal complaint involving a structure built near the Museum
Rule is not absolute; it admits of exceptions, such as (1) when the findings are in Upper Doongan, Butuan City.
grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when a lower Based on these factual antecedents, there is cogent basis for petitioners
courts inference from its factual findings is manifestly mistaken, absurd or contention that the MTCC lacked jurisdiction in this case.
impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of First, respondents allege that the subject house was built by petitioner on Lot
facts; (4) when the findings of the appellate court go beyond the issues of the 10-A covered by TCT No. 16200. This allegation is belied by the sketch plan
case, run contrary to the admissions of the parties to the case, or fail to notice dated June 16, 1994, submitted by Engineer Regino A. Lomarda Jr. To recall,
certain relevant facts which -- if properly considered -- will justify a different in an Order dated March 4, 1994, the RTC had required petitioner to submit
conclusion; (5) when there is a misappreciation of facts; (6) when the findings a relocation survey of Lot 10-A to determine the location of the house and to
of fact are conclusions without mention of the specific evidence on which ascertain if it was the same house involved in Criminal Case No. 4659 for anti-
56
squatting. However, because of the Holy Week, petitioner failed to submit Q Earlier, Judge Malvar, you told this Honorable Court that you discovered
the relocation survey within the period provided by the RTC. In the said sketch sometime in January 1987, the accused was occupying your property
plan that was offered in evidence as Exhibit 5 in the anti-squatting case, consisting of 348 square meters. What did you do upon discovering that the
Engineer Lomarda Jr. certified that the hut of Teresita Bongato is not within accused already occupied a portion of your property without your
Lot 10-A as shown in this plan as relocated by the undersigned based [o]n TCT knowledge?
No. RT-1576 of Benjamin Eva, et al. and [o]n TCT No. RT-16200 of Lot 10-A of A I want to demolish her house. I told her that I am the owner of the land and
Severo Malvar. she is looking for the hectare that was not sold by her father to me.
Second, according to the Decision in Criminal Case No. 4659, petitioners Q And upon being informed by Teresita Bongato that they were looking for
house is actually located on Lot 1, the parcel of land previously covered by the hectare lot which was not sold to you by her father, what did you say to
TCT No. RT-15993 and subject of the anti-squatting case. The RTC Judge in her?
said case ruled: A I told her to remove her house. Then after that, I was so busy with the
The lot on which accuseds house is standing was formerly covered by Transfer squatters along Satorre Street of the Malvar Village that kept me so busy. It
Certificate of Title No. RT-15993 dated January 24, 1983 in the name of was only last year that we were able to attend to this.
Severo Malvar, and superseded by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-24589 It is wise to be reminded that forcible entry is a quieting process, and that the
dated December 3, 1991 in the name of Butuan Land Developers Group, Inc. restrictive time bar is prescribed to complement the summary nature of such
Third, petitioners house had actually been in existence prior to February process. Indeed, the one-year period within which to bring an action for
1992, the alleged date of illegal entry. Thus, in Criminal Case No. 5734 for forcible entry is generally counted from the date of actual entry to the land.
violation of PD 1096, the RTC Judge opined as follows: However, when entry is made through stealth, then the one-year period is
Firstly, the prosecution has not proven that the accused had constructed or counted from the time the plaintiff learned about it. After the lapse of the
for that matter was constructing the questioned house in February of 1992, one-year period, the party dispossessed of a parcel of land may file either an
since it was never stated that when the complaint was lodged with the City accion publiciana, which is a plenary action to recover the right of possession;
Engineers Office, that the house occupied by the accused was under or an accion reivindicatoria, which is an action to recover ownership as well
construction or under renovation. The fact that Engr. Burias even admitted as possession.
that she had no knowledge of when the structure was built implicitly indicates On the basis of the foregoing facts, it is clear that the cause of action for
that the same was completely erected or constructed before Engr. Burias forcible entry filed by respondents had already prescribed when they filed
visit, or even for that matter, before the complaint was filed. the Complaint for ejectment on July 10, 1992.[if !supportFootnotes][45][endif] Hence,
That the house of petitioner had been constructed by her father and that she even if Severo Malvar may be the owner of the land, possession thereof
had merely continued to reside therein was upheld by the Decision, which we cannot be wrested through a summary action for ejectment of petitioner,
quote: who had been occupying it for more than one (1) year. Respondents should
Suffice it to state, however, that We are convinced, given the testimonial have presented their suit before the RTC in an accion publiciana or an accion
evidence offered that the house in question was not built by the accused, but reivindicatoria, not before the MTCC in summary proceedings for forcible
by her father, Jacinto Bongato sometime in 1935; that accused merely lived entry. Their cause of action for forcible entry had prescribed already, and the
in the house as a member of Jacinto Bongatos family until the death of her MTCC had no more jurisdiction to hear and decide it.
parents, whereupon, she continued to reside in the said house and now Second Issue:
claims to be its owner. Motion to Dismiss
Fourth, Respondent Severo Malvar admitted in Criminal Case No. 4659 that Petitioner further argues that a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction
he had knowledge of petitioners house since January 1987. We quote from over the subject matter is not a prohibited pleading, but is allowed under Sec.
his testimony: 19(a) of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure. We agree.
57
The Rule on Summary Procedure was promulgated specifically to achieve an In the case at bar, the MTCC should have squarely ruled on the issue of
expeditious and inexpensive determination of cases. The speedy resolution jurisdiction, instead of erroneously holding that it was a prohibited pleading
of unlawful detainer cases is a matter of public policy, and the Rule should under the Rule on Summary Procedure. Because the Complaint for forcible
equally apply with full force to forcible entry cases, in which possession of the entry was filed on July 10, 1992, the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary
premises is already illegal from the start. For this reason, the Rule frowns Procedure was applicable.
upon delays and prohibits altogether the filing of motions for extension of Finally, the MTCC should have taken into account petitioners Answer, in
time. Consistently, Section 6 was added to give the trial court the power to which she averred that she had been in constant occupation on said land in
render judgment, even motu proprio, upon the failure of a defendant to file question since birth on March 17, 1941 up to the present, being an heir of the
an answer within the reglementary period. However, as forcible entry and late Emiliana Eva-Bongato, who inherited said property from her father
detainer cases are summary in nature and involve disturbances of the social Raymundo Eva with considerable improvements thereon. It should have
order, procedural technicalities should be carefully avoided and should not heard and received the evidence adduced by the parties for the precise
be allowed to override substantial justice. purpose of determining whether or not it possessed jurisdiction over the
Pursuant to Section 36 of BP 129, the Court on June 16, 1983, promulgated subject matter. And after such hearing, it could have dismissed the case for
the Rule on Summary Procedure in Special Cases. Under this Rule, a motion lack of jurisdiction. In this way, the long, drawn out proceedings that took
to dismiss or quash is a prohibited pleading. Under the 1991 Revised Rule on place in this case could have been avoided.
Summary Procedure, however, a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision ANNULLED
jurisdiction over the subject matter is an exception to the rule on prohibited and SET ASIDE. The Complaint for forcible entry is DISMISSED for lack of
pleadings: jurisdiction. No pronouncement as to costs.
SEC. 19. Prohibited pleadings and motions. The following pleadings, motions, SO ORDERED.
or petitions shall not be allowed in the cases covered by this Rule:
(a) Motion to dismiss the complaint or to quash the complaint or information [A.M. No. MTJ-02-1429. October 4, 2002]
except on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, or failure FRANCISCA P. PASCUAL, complainant, vs. Judge EDUARDO U. JOVELLANOS,
to comply with the preceding section; Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Alcala, Pangasinan, respondent.
xxxxxxxxx DECISION
Further, a courts lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter cannot be waived PANGANIBAN, J.:
by the parties or cured by their silence, acquiescence or even express Municipal trial court judges ought to be familiar with the Rules on Summary
consent. A party may assail the jurisdiction of the court over the action at any Procedure governing ejectment cases. Failure to observe them constitutes
stage of the proceedings and even on appeal. That the MTCC can take gross ignorance of the law.
cognizance of a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, even Statement of the Case
if an answer has been belatedly filed we likewise held in Bayog v. Natino: The sworn Administrative Complaint,1 filed by Francisca P. Pascual, charged
The Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, as well as its predecessor, do not Judge Eduardo U. Jovellanos of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Alcala,
provide that an answer filed after the reglementary period should be Pangasinan with gross ignorance of the law, bias and partiality, abuse of
expunged from the records. As a matter of fact, there is no provision for an discretion and neglect of duty.2
entry of default if a defendant fails to answer. It must likewise be pointed out The Antecedents
that MAGDATOs defense of lack of jurisdiction may have even been raised in The facts in the present case are summarized by the Office of the Court
a motion to dismiss as an exception to the rule on prohibited pleadings in the Administrator (OCA) in its January 28, 2002 Memorandum3 addressed to this
Revised Rule on Summary Procedure. Such a motion is allowed under Court as follows:
paragraph (a) thereof, x x x.
58
Complainant x x x alleges that she filed a complaint for forcible entry present, respondent Judge has not ruled on her application on preliminary
docketed as Civil Case No. 730 against a certain Lorenzo L. Manaois. The injunction.
complaint was dismissed without prejudice for being insufficient in some Instead of obeying the TRO, defendant continued with the construction of the
material allegations (Order dated 13 October 1999). On 15 November 1999, building and even started with a new one. Hence, a contempt charge was filed
she filed a corrected complaint which was docketed as Civil Case No. 740. by herein complainant on 8 May 2000. Defendant moved to dismiss the
Instead of filing an answer, defendant filed a Motion to Strike Out arguing contempt charge on the ground that it was filed in the same proceedings
that the new allegations in the complaint are false. After the period to answer ([C]ivil [C]ase No. 740) and the filing fee was not paid. The court, however,
lapsed and no answer was submitted, complainant filed a Motion for motu propio docketed the complaint for contempt as Civil Case No. 744 while
Summary Judgment dated 15 December 1999. Defendant opposed the the required docket and other fees were paid by defendant on 31 May 2000.
motion. On same date, the court issued an Order furnishing anew the
On 30 May 2000, defendants motion to strike out was granted by respondent defendants/respondents with a copy of the contempt charge. These,
Judge. Complainant filed a motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid order. complainant claims, cured the defect cited by defendants/respondents in
Based on the foregoing, complainant accuse[d] respondent Judge of Neglect their motion to dismiss. However, respondent Judge still has not resolved the
of Duty anchored on the following grounds: aforesaid motion to the prejudice of herein complainant.4
a. Defendant should have filed an answer instead of a Motion to Strike Out. In his Comment5 dated September 30, 2000, respondent denied the
Inspite thereof, respondent Judge granted the motion 120 days after its filing, allegations in the Complaint. He accused Atty. Alejandro V. Peregrino,
thus defeating the summary nature of the case; complainants counsel in the forcible entry case, of having a penchant for filing
b. The Order granting the motion to strike out is bereft of any findings of fact administrative cases against him instead of appealing decisions before the
because no hearing was conducted relative thereon; proper court. Respondent added that none of the charges had any factual or
c. Respondent Judge exhibited his bias and partiality in favor of the defendant legal bases. He insisted that his Decision in Civil Case No. 730 had been
in his Order granting the motion to strike out when he pointed out x x x that rendered with utmost good faith, honesty and sound discretion.6
the complaint in this case is virtually a rehash of the complaint in Civil Case The OCAs Recommendation
No. 730 x x x. Complainant asserts that the same is to be expected because After investigation of this case, the OCA found that respondent failed to apply
the defects or insufficiency in the first complaint were just being rectified in the Rule on Summary Procedure, which he ought to have been very
the later one; conversant with, because it was a common procedure in municipal courts.
d. Her Motion for Summary Judgment remains, until the present, unacted Accordingly, it recommended that respondent be FINED in the amount of
upon. P10,000.00 and warned that the commission of a similar infraction will be
Meanwhile, defendant, taking advantage of the lull in the proceedings, dealt with more severely.7
started the construction of a one-storey building on the subject land. To This Courts Ruling
protect her interest, complainant filed an Application for Preliminary We agree with the findings of the OCA, but increase the penalty, taking note
Injunction dated 8 May 2000. Acting thereon, respondent Judge issued a that this is respondents second infraction.
Temporary Restraining Order dated 9 May 2000 and set the hearing on the Administrative Liability
Injunction. On said date, complainant was able to present evidence in support Judges are the visible representations of law and justice.8 They ought to be
of her application while defendant chose not to present controverting embodiments of competence, integrity and independence.9 In particular,
evidence and to just submit a memorandum. municipal judges are frontline officers in the administration of justice.10 It is
On the last day of the effectivity of the TRO (29 May 2000), complainant filed therefore essential that they live up to the high standards demanded by the
an Extremely Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to grant her application for injunction. Code of Judicial Conduct.11 To be able to render substantial justice and to
On 7 June 2000 defendant filed his memorandum. However, until the maintain public confidence in the legal system, they are expected to exhibit
59
more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules. obvious mistake showing gross ignorance of the law. This is because the civil
They are likewise expected to keep abreast of all laws and prevailing case assigned to him is for forcible entry, which is governed by the Rule on
jurisprudence.12 Judicial competence requires no less.13 Summary Procedure.28 In fact, all cases of forcible entry and unlawful detainer
Moreover, judges are bound to dispose of the courts business promptly and are governed by this Rule.29
to decide cases within the required period.14 For it cannot be gainsaid that It must likewise be underscored that respondent dismissed Civil Case No. 730
justice delayed is justice denied. Procrastination among members of the without prejudice, on the theory that the date of the dispossession had not
judiciary in rendering decisions and in acting upon cases before them not only been initially indicated in the Complaint. Thus, it would reasonably be
causes great injustice to the parties involved, but also invites suspicion of expected that the allegations in that civil case would be reiterated in Civil Case
ulterior motives on their part.15 No. 740. Needless to state, what also contributed to the delay in the
It must be emphasized that rules of procedure have been formulated and resolution of the main case was the grant of the Motion to Strike Out based
promulgated by this Court to ensure the speedy and efficient administration on misplaced reasoning.30
of justice. Failure to abide by these rules undermines the wisdom behind Lack of knowledge of the Rules on Summary Procedure reflects a serious
them and diminishes respect for the rule of law.16 The Rule on Summary degree of incompetence.31 When the law is so elementary, as in this case, not
Procedure was promulgated precisely to achieve an expeditious and to be aware of it constitutes gross ignorance of the law.32 A member of the
inexpensive determination of cases. Failure to observe the period within bench must be constantly abreast of legal and jurisprudential developments,
which to render a judgment subjects the defaulting judge to administrative bearing in mind that this learning process never ceases. It is indispensable to
sanctions.17 For this reason, the Rule frowns upon delays and expressly the correct dispensation of justice.33
prohibits, altogether, the filing of motions for extension.18 Delay
In this case, it is very clear that respondent lacks awareness of the relevant Respondent claimed that if there was any delay on his part in resolving the
provisions on ejectment.19 He has evidently been remiss in resolving the incidents, it was not intentional but merely brought about by pressure from
forcible entry case, pursuant to the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure.20 work.34
Verily, judgment should have been rendered based on the allegations of the We are not convinced. Rule 3.05 of Canon 3 of the Canons on Judicial Ethics
Complaint and the evidence presented therein, inasmuch as the defendant mandates that a judge should dispose of the courts business promptly and
failed to file his answer after the lapse of ten (10) days from the service of the decide each case within the period prescribed therefor.35 We have held in
summons.21 Section 6 of the Rule allows the trial court to render judgment, numerous cases that failure to decide within the reglementary period
even motu proprio, upon failure of the defendant to file an answer within the constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative
reglementary period.22 Moreover, under Section 10 of the Rule, respondent sanctions.36
was duty-bound to render his decision within thirty (30) days from receipt of In the present case, the heavy caseload in respondents sala, though
the last affidavits and position papers, or the expiration of the period for filing unfortunate, cannot excuse him from due observance of the rules. We
them.23 This notwithstanding, he has not yet ruled on the Motion for reiterate that judges, when burdened by heavy caseloads that prevent them
Summary Judgment24 dated December 15, 1999, filed in accordance with from deciding cases within the reglementary period, may ask for additional
Section 6 of the Rule on Summary Procedure. time from this Court. Indubitably, respondent has failed to do so.37 He ought
Furthermore, respondent failed to apply these very basic rules when he to know that the speedy resolution of forcible entry cases is a matter of public
granted the defendants Motion to Strike Out which was in reality a motion to policy. His inaction for almost three years on complainants Motion for
dismiss, a prohibited pleading.25 In his Order26 dated May 30, 2000, he ruled Summary Judgment practically rendered nugatory the whole purpose of
that the Complaint in Civil Case No. 740 was a mere rehash of the dismissed summary proceedings -- to promote a more expeditious and inexpensive
Complaint in Civil Case No. 730. He cited Section 1227 of Rule 8 of the 1997 determination of cases.38 By tarrying too long in deciding this forcible entry
Rules on Civil Procedure as basis for this ruling. In doing so, he committed an case, he failed to live up to the mandate of the Code of Judicial Conduct to
60
maintain professional competence.39 Judges are called upon to observe
utmost diligence and dedication in the performance of their judicial functions DECISION
and duties.40
In determining his administrative liability, we note that this is not the first
infraction of respondent.41 In Espiritu v. Jovellanos,42 he was found guilty of CARPIO MORALES, J.:
gross misconduct for his partiality to one of the parties, for which he was
fined P20,000.
Indeed, it seems that he has remained undeterred in disregarding the law and Judge Eduardo H. Mirafuente of the Municipal Trial Court of Buenavista,
the Code which he has pledged to uphold.43 He appears to be unfazed by the Marinduque, respondent, is charged with Grave Misconduct and Conduct
previous penalties and warnings meted out to him.44 Since this is his second Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, Violation of the Rules on
infraction, he deserves a sanction heavier than that recommended by the Summary Procedure in Special Cases and Gross Ignorance of the Law by Dr.
OCA. Jose S. Luna (Dr. Luna) arising from respondents act of giving due course to
WHEREFORE, Judge Eduardo Jovellanos is hereby found GUILTY of gross the belatedly filed and unverified answer of the defendants in a complaint for
ignorance of the law and is FINED in the amount of fifteen thousand pesos unlawful detainer.
(P15,000). He is further warned that a repetition of this or similar offenses
will be dealt with even more severely. In May 2003, Dr. Luna filed a complaint for unlawful detainer, docketed as
SO ORDERED. Civil Case No. Y2K3-01, against Florencio Sadiwa and Alex Sadiwa (the
defendants) with the Municipal Trial Court of Buenavista, Marinduque
DR. JOSE S. LUNA, presided by respondent.
Complainant, A. M. No. MTJ-05-1610
[formerly OCA IPI No.
As adverted
04-1548-MTJ]
to above, the defendants filed an unverified answer to the
complaint, seven (7) days beyond the reglementary period of ten (10) days
Present: from the service of the summons on them.
-versus-
In mid July 2003, Dr. Lunas counsel filed a Motion for Judgment,[1] invoking
PANGANIBAN, Chairman,
SANDOVAL- GUTIERREZ,
Section 6 of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, to which motion the
CORONA, defendants did not file any opposition. By Order[2] of August 28, 2003
JUDGE EDUARDO H. MIRAFUENTE, Municipal Trial Court, CARPIO MORALES,respondent
and denied the motion.
Buenavista, Marinduque, GARCIA, JJ.
Respondent. Dr. Luna later filed an Urgent Manifestation[3] relative to the said order of
respondent which the latter treated as a motion for reconsideration and
Promulgated: which he denied.

Hence, arose the present administrative complaint[4] against respondent, Dr.


September 26, 2005
Luna asserting that as the defendants answer was unverified and belatedly
filed, respondent should have motu proprio or on motion of the plaintiffs
rendered judgment as warranted by the facts alleged in the complaint,
x----------------------------------------------x following Section 6 of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure.
61
In his Comment[5] dated April 16, 2004, respondent explains that his For forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases involve perturbation of social
admission of the defendants unverified, belatedly filed answer was premised order, which must be restored as promptly as possible, such that
on the spirit of justice and fair play, which underlie[s] every court litigation technicalities or details of procedure which may cause unnecessary delays
and serves as the bedrock to preserve the trust and faith of parties litigants should carefully be avoided.[9] That explains why the Revised Rule on
in the judicial system; that the admission was proper because the delay was Summary Procedure which governs ejectment, among other cases, lays down
negligible, it involving only four (4) days as June 13 to 15, 2003 were non- procedural safeguards to guarantee expediency and speedy resolution.
working holidays (per presidential proclamation in connection with the
Independence Day celebration); that the defendants might have believed Sections 5 and 6 of the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure provide:
that the period to file answer was 15 days, which is the usual or common
period to file an answer; and that the delay was also excusable as defendants Sec. 5. Answer. Within ten (10) days from service of summons, the defendant
acted pro se, without the benefit of legal assistance, and not dilatory. shall file his answer to the complaint and serve a copy thereof on the plaintiff.
xxx
At any rate, respondent contends that, assuming arguendo that he erred in
denying Dr. Lunas Motion for Judgment, a judge may not be held Sec. 6. Effect of failure to answer. Should the defendant fail to answer the
administratively liable for every erroneous order or decision, for to hold complaint within the period above provided, the court, motu proprio, or on
otherwise would render judicial office untenable as no one called upon to try motion of the plaintiff, shall render judgment as may be warranted by the
the facts or interpret the law in the process of administering the law can be facts alleged in the complaint and limited to what is prayed for therein:
infallible in his judgment. Besides, respondent adds, there is a judicial remedy Provided, however, That the court may in its discretion reduce the amount of
to correct the error. damages and attorneys fees claimed for being excessive or otherwise
unconscionable. This is without prejudice to the applicability of Section 4,
For ignorance of the law, the Office of the Court Administrator, by Report and Rule 18 of the Rules of Court, if there are two or more defendants. (Italics in
Recommendation[6] dated December 21, 2004, recommends that respondent the original, emphasis and underscoring supplied)
be faulted and ordered to pay a fine in the amount of P11,000.00, with stern
warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more
severely. The word shall in the above-quoted sections of the 1991 Revised Rule on
Summary Procedure underscores their mandatory character.[10] Giving the
The office of a judge exists for one solemn end to promote the ends of justice provisions a directory application would subvert the nature of the Rule and
by administering it speedily and impartially. A judge is the visible defeat its objective of expediting the adjudication of the suits covered
representation of the law and justice. These are self-evident dogmas which thereby. To admit a late answer is to put a premium on dilatory maneuvers
do not even have to be emphasized, but to which this Court is wont to advert the very mischief that the Rule seeks to redress.
when members of the judiciary commit legal faux pas, hopefully only through
unwitting error or inattention.[7] In the present case, respondent gave a liberal interpretation of the above-
said Rule. Liberal interpretation or construction of the law or rules, however,
Delay in the disposition of cases undermines the peoples faith and confidence is not a free commodity that may be availed of in all instances under the cloak
in the judiciary. Hence, judges are enjoined to decide cases with dispatch.[8] of rendering justice. Liberality in the interpretation and application of Rules
Such a requirement is especially demanded in forcible entry and unlawful applies only in proper cases and under justifiable causes and circumstances.
detainer cases. While it is true that litigation is not a game of technicalities, it is equally true
62
that every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed Procedure requires that all pleadings shall be verified, the requirement is
procedure to insure an orderly and speedy administration of justice.[11] formal, not jurisdictional. The court may order the correction of the pleading
if the verification is lacking or act on the pleading although it is not verified, if
Respondents act, albeit a disregard of procedural rules, does not, however, the attending circumstances are such that strict compliance with the rules
constitute grave misconduct. may be dispensed with in order that the end of justice may thereby be
Neither does it constitute gross ignorance of the law. Gross ignorance served.[18]
transcends a simple error in the application of legal provisions. In the absence
of fraud, dishonesty or corruption, the acts of a judge in his judicial capacity After considering the appreciation by respondent of the fact that the
are generally not subject to disciplinary action, even though such acts are defendants filed a belated and unverified answer without the assistance of
erroneous.[12] counsel, and the lack of showing of malice, corrupt motives or the like on his
part, this Court finds that, as in the above-cited Ruperto case, the penalty may
For liability for ignorance of the law to attach, the assailed order, decision or be as it is hereby mitigated to severe reprimand.
actuation of the judge in the performance of official duties must not only be
found to be erroneous but, most importantly, it must be established that the WHEREFORE, for violation of Section 6 of the Revised Rule on Summary
issuance thereof was actuated by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred or some other Procedure, respondent Judge Eduardo H. Mirafuente is hereby SEVERELY
like motive.[13] Any of such circumstances does not obtain in the instant case. REPRIMANDED[19] with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts
shall be dealt with more strictly.
That respondent granted complainants motion for inhibition[14] just to erase
any nagging doubts on his impartiality and fairness negates malice or any like SO ORDERED.
motive on his part.
[G.R. No. 128954. October 8, 1998]
Respondents act of admitting the belated answer violated Section 6 of the AZUCENA GO and REGENA GLORIA SIONG, petitioners, vs. COURT OF
above-quoted Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, however, which APPEALS and STAR GROUP RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT, INC.,
violation is classified as less serious charge[15] under Section 9 of Rule 140, as respondents.
amended by A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC[16] (Violation of Supreme Court rules, DECISION
directives and circulars). PANGANIBAN, J.:
Where the trial court abuses its discretion by indefinitely suspending
In Ruperto v. Banquerigo[17] wherein the therein respondent Judge was summary proceedings involving ejectment cases, a petition for certiorari may
charged also for violation of some provisions of the Revised Rule on Summary be entertained by the proper court to correct the blunder. In the interest of
Judgment, he was severely reprimanded after taking into account the fact justice and in view of the procedural void on the subject, an appeal may be
that he was not only detailed to the court where the cases therein involved treated as a petition for certiorari for this purpose and only in this instance,
were pending, but also to other courts. Such multiple assignments were seen pro hac vice.
to affect his efficient handling of cases. Additionally, lack of showing of The Case
malice, corrupt motives or improper considerations on the part of the judge The petition for review on certiorari before us seeks to set aside and reverse
was appreciated. the consolidated Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) promulgated on March
4, 1997, in CA-GR SP No. 37306 and CA-GR SP No. 39403, which disallowed
Respecting respondents admission of the unverified answer of the the suspension of the ejectment proceedings, the decretal portion of which
defendants, while paragraph (B) of Section 3 of the Revised Rule on Summary reads:
63
It bears mentioning again, that due to petitioners apparent dilatory tactics Private respondent then filed with respondent RTC a Motion to Resume
prolonging both the ejectment and specific performance proceedings, we are Proceedings. On August 30, 1995, respondent RTC issued an Order granting
convinced beyond cavil that the ejectment case should proceed said motion and directed the remand of the records of the case to the MTCC
independently of the specific performance case. (Branch 1) of Iloilo City for further proceedings. Petitioners filed a motion for
WHEREFORE, the Orders dated August 30, 1995 and October 17, 1995 issued reconsideration and clarification but the same was denied in the Order dated
by the respondent Regional Trial Court (Branch 34) of Iloilo City in Civil Case October 17, 1995.
No. 21713 are declared NULL and VOID on the sole ground of non-compliance Petitioners then filed with this Court the present petition for review,
with the mandate of Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution. docketed as SP No. 39403, raising the issue of whether or not the same
The petition for certiorari assailing the Orders dated January 27, 1995 and respondent RTC acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse
March 24, 1995 issued by the same respondent Regional Trial Court (Branch of discretion in ordering the resumption of the proceedings in the MTCC of
34) of Iloilo City in Civil Case No. 21713; and the supplemental petition for Iloilo (Branch 1).
certiorari assailing the Orders dated February 14, 1996 and March 1, 1996 On October 20, 1995, we issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the
issued by the respondent MTCC of Iloilo City (Branch 1) in Civil Case No. 332 respondent RTC from further proceeding with Civil Case No. 21713.
(93) are DENIED for lack of merit. Sometime after the restraining order lapsed, respondent court remanded the
The writ of preliminary injunction is hereby LIFTED. records to the MTCC.
The Facts Petitioners filed with the MTCC a motion to hold in abeyance further
The undisputed facts as found by Respondent Court are reproduced proceedings. In the Order dated February 14, 1996, the MTCC denied the
hereunder: motion and set the case for preliminary conference. Petitioners motion for
Private respondent filed with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of reconsideration was likewise denied per Order dated March 1, 1996.
Iloilo City (Branch 1) an ejectment case [docketed as Civil Case No. 332(93)] Subsequently, petitioners filed their supplemental petition for review
against petitioners. Upon motion of petitioners, said court issued an Order impleading the presiding Judge of the MTCC, raising the issue of whether or
dated November 29, 1993 holding in abeyance the preliminary conference in not the respondent MTCC erred in resuming the proceedings in view of the
said case until after the case for specific performance docketed as Civil Case timely filing of the petition for review, docketed as SP No. 39403.
No. 21142 likewise involving the same parties shall have been finally decided On May 29, 1996, we granted petitioners motion for a writ of preliminary
by the RTC of Iloilo City (Branch 37). injunction and ordered herein private and public respondents to refrain from
An appeal was taken by private respondent from the aforesaid Order which continuing with the proceedings in Civil Case No. 332 (93) before the MTCC
was assigned to herein public respondent RTC of Iloilo City (Branch 34). until the herein above-entitled petitions are resolved by this Court.
Thereafter, petitioners filed with the respondent RTC a motion to dismiss the The issues raised by petitioners in their pleadings are the following[:]
appeal on the ground that the appealed order is interlocutory and therefore I. Whether or not the respondent RTC (Branch 34) gravely abused its
not appealable. Said motion was denied by the respondent RTC (Branch 34) discretion when it denied the motion to dismiss an appeal from an
per its Order dated January 27, 1995. interlocutory order.
Petitioners subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration which was II. Whether or not the respondent RTC (Branch 34) gravely abused its
likewise denied per Order dated March 24, 1995. discretion when it granted private respondents Motion to Resume
Hence, petitioners filed the present petition for certiorari, docketed as SP No. Proceedings and ordered the remand of the records to the MTCC (Branch 1).
37306, raising the issue of whether or not the respondent RTC (Branch 34) III. Whether or not the respondent MTCC (Branch 1) erred when it resumed
acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in the ejectment proceedings despite the timely filing of the petition for review.
denying petitioners motion to dismiss appeal. Respondent Courts Ruling

64
Recognizing the existence of a procedural void in the Rules on Summary procedural rules which only cause delay because they involve a disturbance
Procedure, the Court of Appeals sustained the propriety of appeal as a of social order (Co Keng Kian vs. IAC, 189 SCRA 112).
remedy to challenge the suspension of the ejectment suit by the Municipal The Issues
Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of Iloilo City: In their Memorandum, petitioners raise two issues:
Verily, the respondent RTC was cognizant of the impropriety of an appeal 1. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in allowing the appeal of an
from an interlocutory order. However, in denying the motion to dismiss the interlocutory order.
appeal it considered the following circumstances: 1) the procedural void 2. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in not applying the exceptions
where the aggrieved party (herein private respondent) will have no remedy provided for in the Vda. de Legaspi and Wilmon cases allowing the suspension
for the ventilation of his rights; and 2) the fact that herein petitioners as of the ejectment case based on strong reasons of equity or when the right of
plaintiffs in the case for specific performance (Civil Case No. 21142) also filed the private respondent to the property in question is seriously placed in issue.
a motion to hold in abeyance the pre-trial of said case. In the main, the crux of this case is the propriety of an appeal as a remedy to
We find that the respondent RTC did not abuse its discretion in taking challenge the suspension of proceedings in an ejectment suit.
cognizance of the appeal. Neither did it act without or in excess of its The Courts Ruling
jurisdiction. The petition is devoid of merit.
First, it must be stated that the purpose of the Rule[s] on Summary Procedure First Issue:
is to achieve an expeditious and inexpensive determination of cases without Remedy to Contest Interlocutory Orders
regard to technical rules. (Section 36, Chapter III, B.P. Blg. 129). in Summary Proceedings
Apparently, the prohibition against petitions for certiorari involving In affirming the ruling of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iloilo City, the Court
interlocutory orders was included to forestall useless petitions and avoid of Appeals noted that there was a procedural void in the summary
undue inconvenience and delays. In effect, a party is prevented from having proceedings before the MTCC. The undisputed facts illustrate that existing
to assail orders on incidental matters as they are issued by the court. Instead, procedural rules do not provide an adequate remedy to herein private
a party is obliged to contest all such expeditious resolution of the case. respondent.
However, in the case at bench, what the private respondent sought to be It may be recalled that the MTCC, acting on petitioners motion, held in
reviewed by way of appeal was a suspension order. An order which to all abeyance the preliminary conference in the ejectment suit, until the
intents and purposes runs counter to the summary nature of ejectment termination of a pending case for specific performance involving the same
proceedings. Thus, the private respondent as plaintiff in the ejectment parties. In challenging the order of the MTCC, herein private respondent
proceeding should be given a remedy to question said order which the appealed to the Regional Trial Court. Petitioners filed a motion to dismiss,
respondent court had judiciously provided for. arguing that the assailed order was interlocutory and, therefore, not subject
All told, inaction on the MTCCs order of suspension due to the procedural to appeal.
void created by Section 19 of the Rule[s] on Summary Procedure and Section Indisputably, the appealed order is interlocutory, for it does not dispose of
2, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court will defeat rather than promote the thrust of the case but leaves something else to be done by the trial court on the merits
the summary rules which is the speedy disposition of cases. of the case.It is axiomatic that an interlocutory order cannot be challenged by
After all, while technicalities have their uses, resort to them should not be an appeal.Thus, it has been held that the proper remedy in such cases is an
encouraged when they serve only to impede the speedy and just resolution ordinary appeal from an adverse judgment on the merits, incorporating in
of the case, least of all an ejectment case which, under the Rules, is supposed said appeal the grounds for assailing the interlocutory order. Allowing
to be summary in nature (Top Rate International Services, Inc. vs. CA, 170 appeals from interlocutory orders would result in the sorry spectacle of a case
SCRA 84). Further, actions for forcible entry and unlawful detainer must be being subject of a counterproductive ping-pong to and from the appellate
abated as promptly as possible without any undue reliance on technical and court as often as a trial court is perceived to have made an error in any of its
65
interlocutory rulings. However, where the assailed interlocutory order is respondent challenged the MTCC order delaying the ejectment suit, precisely
patently erroneous and the remedy of appeal would not afford adequate and to avoid the mischief envisioned by the Rules.
expeditious relief, the Court may allow certiorari as a mode of redress. Thus, this Court holds that in situations wherein a summary proceeding is
Clearly, private respondent cannot appeal the order, being interlocutory. But suspended indefinitely, a petition for certiorari alleging grave abuse of
neither can it file a petition for certiorari, because ejectment suits fall under discretion may be allowed. Because of the extraordinary circumstances in this
the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure, Section 19 (g) of which considers case, a petition for certiorari, in fact, gives spirit and life to the Rules on
petitions for certiorari prohibited pleadings: Summary Procedure. A contrary ruling would unduly delay the disposition of
SEC. 19. Prohibited pleadings and motions. -- The following pleadings, the case and negate the rationale of the said Rules.
motions, or petitions shall not be allowed in the cases covered by this Rule: Private respondent herein filed an appeal to question the interlocutory order.
(a) Motion to dismiss the complaint or to quash the complaint or information This recourse was upheld by the RTC and the CA in order to fill a procedural
except on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, or failure void. We affirm the ruling of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals. We
to comply with the preceding section; hold, however, that the appeal should instead be treated as a petition for
(b) Motion for a bill of particulars; certiorari under Rule 65. An appeal ordinarily entails a longer process which
(c) Motion for new trial, or for reconsideration of a judgment, or for negates an expeditious resolution.
reopening of trial; Petitioners posit that if such procedural void exists, no remedy is sanctioned
(d) Petition for relief from judgment; by law, and the courts thus have no power to provide one. Petitioners aver
(e) Motion for extension of time to file pleadings, affidavits or any other that the defect lies in the law and can only be remedied by the legislature.
paper; This argument is unacceptable. First, at issue in this case is not a law passed
(f) Memoranda; by the legislature, but procedural rules promulgated by the Supreme Court.
(g) Petition for certiorari, mandamus, or prohibition against any interlocutory Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution, categorically allows the Court to lay
order issued by the court; down rules concerning, among others, procedure in all courts. Second, courts
(h) Motion to declare the defendant in default; are empowered, even obligated, to suspend the operation of the rules, when
(i) Dilatory motions for postponement; a rule deserts its proper office as an aid to justice and becomes its great
(j) Reply; hindrance and chief enemy such that rigid application thereof frustrates
(k) Third party complaints; rather than promotes substantial justice." Thus, it has been held that the
(l) Interventions. power of this Court to suspend its own rules or to except a particular case
Based on the foregoing, private respondent was literally caught between from [their] operations whenever the purposes of justice require it, cannot
Scylla and Charybdis in the procedural void observed by the Court of Appeals be questioned.
and the RTC. Under these extraordinary circumstances, the Court is Second issue:
constrained to provide it with a remedy consistent with the objective of Suspension of Ejectment Cases
speedy resolution of cases. Petitioners likewise bewail the non-application of the doctrine enunciated by
As correctly held by Respondent Court of Appeals, the purpose of the Rules the Court in Vda. de Legaspi v. Avendano, subsequently recognized in Wilmon
on Summary Procedure is to achieve an expeditious and inexpensive Auto Supply v. Court of Appeals, that an ejectment suit may be suspended if
determination of cases without regard to technical rules. (Section 36, Chapter there are strong reasons of equity. In Vda. de Legaspi the Court held:
III, BP Blg. 129) Pursuant to this objective, the Rules prohibit petitions for Where the action, therefore, is one of illegal detainer, as distinguished from
certiorari, like a number of other pleadings, in order to prevent unnecessary one of forcible entry, and the right of the plaintiff to recover the premises is
delays and to expedite the disposition of cases. In this case, however, private seriously placed in issue in a proper judicial proceeding, it is more equitable
and just and less productive of confusion and disturbance of physical
66
possession, with all its concomitant inconvenience and expenses. For the to determine the issue of possession. In this case, there is no need to suspend
Court in which the issue of legal possession, whether involving ownership or the ejectment suit, for the issue in litigation involves purely physical and de
not, is brought to restrain, should a petition for preliminary injunction be filed facto possession, as it is well-settled that whatever pronouncement the court
with it, the effects of any order or decision in the unlawful detainer case in in the ejectment case makes on the issue of ownership is provisional in
order to await the final judgment in the more substantive case involving legal nature.
possession or ownership. It is only where there has been forcible entry that WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. Costs against petitioners.
as a matter of public policy the right to physical possession should be
immediately set at rest in favor of the prior possession regardless of the fact REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES and NATIONAL POWER G.R. No
that the other party might ultimately be found to have superior claim to the CORPORATION, both represented by the PRIVATIZATION
premises involved, thereby to discourage any attempt to recover possession MANAGEMENT OFFICE, Present
thru force, strategy or stealth and without resorting to the courts. Petitioners,
Thus, petitioners contend that they are entitled to the suspension of the CARPIO
ejectment case, because the right of the private respondent to the property BRION,
in question was seriously placed in issue in the specific performance case. - versus - PEREZ,
The argument is not persuasive. In Wilmon, the Court recognized that Vda. SERENO
De Legaspi was an exception to the general rule against suspension of an REYES, J
ejectment proceeding, viz.:
xxx [A]s regards the seemingly contrary ruling in Vda. de Legaspi v. Avendano, SUNVAR REALTY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondent.
79 SCRA 135 (1977), this Court observed in Salinas v. Navarro, 126 SCRA 167,
172-173 (1983), that the exception to the rule in this case of Vda. de Legaspi Promulg
is based on strong reasons of equity not found in the present petition. The
right of the petitioner is not so seriously placed in issue in the annulment case June 20
as to warrant a deviation, on equitable grounds, from the imperative nature x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
of the rule. In the Vda. de Legaspi case, execution of the decision in the
ejectment case would also have meant demolition of the premises, a factor DECISION
not present in this petition.[if !supportFootnotes][13][endif]
The situation in Vda. de Legaspi, however, does not obtain in the case at bar. SERENO, J.:
The resolution of the present ejectment suit will not result in the demolition This is a Rule 45 Petition questioning the Decision of the Regional Trial Court
of the premises, an event which would thus entail a categorical, not merely (RTC) of Makati City, which ordered the dismissal of the Complaint for
provisional, ruling on the question of ownership. Indeed, petitioners have not unlawful detainer filed by petitioners herein with the Metropolitan Trial
cited strong reasons of equity to support their prayer for the application of Court.
Vda. De Legaspi. Petitioners Republic of the Philippines (Republic) and National Power
Accordingly, we reiterate the Wilmon ruling that as the law now stands, even Corporation (NPC) are registered co-owners of several parcels of land located
when, in forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases, the defendant raises the along Pasong Tamo Extension and Vito Cruz in Makati City, and covered by
question of ownership in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot four Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs).[if !supportFootnotes][1][endif] The main subject
be resolved without deciding the issue of ownership, the Metropolitan Trial matter of the instant Petition is one of these four parcels of land covered by
Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts nevertheless TCT No. 458365, with an area of approximately 22,294 square meters
have the undoubted competence to resolve the issue of ownership xxx only (hereinafter, the subject property). Eighty percent (80%) of the subject
67
property is owned by petitioner Republic, while the remaining twenty percent On 26 April 2002, less than a year before the expiration of the main lease
(20%) belongs to petitioner NPC.[if !supportFootnotes][2][endif] Petitioners are being contract and the sublease agreements, respondent Sunvar wrote to PDAF as
represented in this case by the Privatization Management Office (PMO), successor of TRCFI. Respondent expressed its desire to exercise the option to
which is the agency tasked with the administration and disposal of renew the sublease over the subject property and proposed an increased
government assets.[if !supportFootnotes][3][endif] Meanwhile, respondent Sunvar rental rate and a renewal period of another 25 years.[if !supportFootnotes][14][endif] On
Realty Development Corporation (Sunvar) occupied the subject property by even date, it also wrote to the Office of the President, Department of
virtue of sublease agreements, which had in the meantime expired. Environment and Natural Resources and petitioner NPC. The letters
The factual antecedents of the case are straightforward. On 26 December expressed the same desire to renew the lease over the subject property
1977,[if !supportFootnotes][4][endif] petitioners leased the four parcels of land, under the new rental rate and renewal period.[if !supportFootnotes][15][endif]
including the subject property, to the Technology Resource Center On 10 May 2002, PDAF informed respondent that the notice of renewal of
Foundation, Inc., (TRCFI) for a period of 25 years beginning 01 January 1978 the lease had already been sent to petitioners, but that it had yet to receive
and ending on 31 December 2002.[if !supportFootnotes][5][endif] Under the Contract of a response.[if !supportFootnotes][16][endif] It further explained that the proposal of
Lease (the main lease contract), petitioners granted TRCFI the right to respondent for the renewal of the sublease could not yet be acted upon, and
sublease any portion of the four parcels of land.[if !supportFootnotes][6][endif] neither could the proposed rental payments be accepted.[if
!supportFootnotes][17][endif]
Exercising its right, TRCFI consequently subleased a majority of the subject Respondent acknowledged receipt of the letter and
property to respondent Sunvar through several sublease agreements (the requested PDAF to apprise the former of any specific actions undertaken with
sublease agreements).[if !supportFootnotes][7][endif] Although these agreements respect to the said lease arrangement over the subject property.[if
!supportFootnotes][18][endif]
commenced on different dates, all of them contained common provisions on
the terms of the sublease and were altogether set to expire on 31 December On 03 June 2002, six months before the main contract of lease was to expire,
2002, the expiration date of TRCFIs main lease contract with petitioners, but petitioner NPC through Atty. Rainer B. Butalid, Vice-President and General
subject to renewal at the option of respondent:[if !supportFootnotes][8][endif] Counsel notified PDAF of the formers decision not to renew the contract of
The term of the sublease shall be for an initial period of [variable] years and lease.[if !supportFootnotes][19][endif] In turn, PDAF notified respondent of NPCs
[variable] months commencing on [variable], renewable for another twenty- decision.[if !supportFootnotes][20][endif]
five (25) years at SUNVARs exclusive option.[if !supportFootnotes][9][endif] On the other hand, petitioner Republic through then Senior Deputy Executive
According to petitioners, in all the sublease agreements, respondent Sunvar Secretary Waldo Q. Flores likewise notified PDAF of the formers decision not
agreed to return or surrender the subleased land, without any delay to renew the lease contract.[if !supportFootnotes][21][endif] The Republic reasoned that
whatsoever upon the termination or expiration of the sublease contract or the parties had earlier agreed to shorten the corporate life of PDAF and to
any renewal or extension thereof.[if !supportFootnotes][10][endif] transfer the latters assets to the former for the purpose of selling them to
During the period of its sublease, respondent Sunvar introduced useful raise funds.[if !supportFootnotes][22][endif] On 25 June 2002, PDAF duly informed
improvements, consisting of several commercial buildings, and leased out the respondent Sunvar of petitioner Republics decision not to renew the lease
spaces therein.[if !supportFootnotes][11][endif] It also profitably utilized the other open and quoted the Memorandum of Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Flores.[if
spaces on the subject property as parking areas for customers and guests.[if !supportFootnotes][23][endif]
!supportFootnotes][12][endif]
On 31 December 2002, the main lease contract with PDAF, as well as its
In 1987, following a reorganization of the government, TRCFI was dissolved. sublease agreements with respondent Sunvar, all expired. Hence, petitioners
In its stead, the Philippine Development Alternatives Foundation (PDAF) was recovered from PDAF all the rights over the subject property and the three
created, assuming the functions previously performed by TRCFI.[if other parcels of land. Thereafter, petitioner Republic transferred the subject
!supportFootnotes][13][endif]
property to the PMO for disposition. Nevertheless, respondent Sunvar
continued to occupy the property.
68
On 22 February 2008, or six years after the main lease contract expired, (₱10,364,000.00) per month from April 1, 2008 until the subject property,
petitioner Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), advised together with its improvements, are completely vacated and peacefully
respondent Sunvar to completely vacate the subject property within thirty surrendered to the plaintiffs or to their authorized representative.[if
(30) days.[if !supportFootnotes][24][endif] The latter duly received the Notice from the !supportFootnotes][30][endif]

OSG through registered mail,[if !supportFootnotes][25][endif] but failed to vacate and


remained on the property.[if !supportFootnotes][26][endif] Respondent Sunvar moved to dismiss the Complaint and argued that the
On 03 February 2009, respondent Sunvar received from respondent OSG a allegations of petitioners in the Complaint did not constitute an action for
final notice to vacate within 15 days.[if !supportFootnotes][27][endif] When the period unlawful detainer, since no privity of contract existed between them.[if
!supportFootnotes][31][endif]
lapsed, respondent Sunvar again refused to vacate the property and In the alternative, it also argued that petitioners cause of
continued to occupy it. action was more properly an accion publiciana, which fell within the
On 02 April 2009, the PMO issued an Inspection and Appraisal Report to jurisdiction of the RTC, and not the MeTC, considering that the petitioners
determine the fair rental value of the subject property and petitioners lost supposed dispossession of the subject property by respondent had already
income a loss arising from the refusal of respondent Sunvar to vacate the lasted for more than one year.
property after the expiration of the main lease contract and sublease In its Order dated 16 September 2009, the MeTC denied the Motion to
agreements.[if !supportFootnotes][28][endif] Using the market comparison approach, Dismiss and directed respondent Sunvar to file an answer to petitioners
the PMO determined that the fair rental value of the subject property was Complaint.[if !supportFootnotes][32][endif] The lower court likewise denied the Motion
₱10,364,000 per month, and that respondent Sunvar owed petitioners a total for Reconsideration[if !supportFootnotes][33][endif] filed by respondent.[if
of ₱630,123,700 from 01 January 2002 to 31 March 2009.[if !supportFootnotes][34][endif]
Respondent later on filed its Answer[if !supportFootnotes][35][endif]
!supportFootnotes][29][endif]
to the Complaint.[if !supportFootnotes][36][endif]
On 23 July 2009, petitioners filed the Complaint dated 26 May 2009 for Despite the filing of its Answer in the summary proceedings for ejectment,
unlawful detainer with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Makati City. respondent Sunvar filed a Rule 65 Petition for Certiorari with the RTC of
Petitioners prayed that respondent Sunvar be ordered to vacate the subject Makati City to assail the denial by the MeTC of respondents Motion to
property and to pay damages for the illegal use and lost income owing to Dismiss.[if !supportFootnotes][37][endif]
them: In answer to the Rule 65 Petition of respondent, petitioners placed in issue
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is most respectfully prayed that after the jurisdiction of the RTC and reasoned that the Rules on Summary
proper proceedings, judgment be rendered: Procedure expressly prohibited the filing of a petition for certiorari against
the interlocutory orders of the MeTC.[if !supportFootnotes][38][endif] Hence, they
1. Ordering defendant SUNVAR REALTY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION and prayed for the outright dismissal of the certiorari Petition of respondent
all persons, natural and juridical, claiming rights under it, to vacate the subject Sunvar.
property and peacefully surrender the same, with the useful improvements The RTC denied the motion for dismissal and ruled that extraordinary
therein, to the plaintiffs or to their authorized representative; and circumstances called for an exception to the general rule on summary
proceedings.[if !supportFootnotes][39][endif] Petitioners filed a Motion for
2. Ordering defendant SUNVAR REALTY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION to pay Reconsideration,[if !supportFootnotes][40][endif] which was subsequently denied by the
plaintiffs damages in the amount of SIX HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION ONE RTC.[if !supportFootnotes][41][endif] Hence, the hearing on the certiorari Petition of
HUNDRED TWENTY THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED PESOS respondent proceeded, and the parties filed their respective Memoranda.[if
!supportFootnotes][42][endif]
(₱630,123,700.00) for the illegal and unauthorized use and occupation of the
subject property from January 1, 2003 to March 31, 2009, and the amount of In the assailed Order dated 01 December 2010, which discussed the merits of
TEN MILLION THREE HUNDRED SIXTY-FOUR THOUSAND PESOS the certiorari Petition, the RTC granted the Rule 65 Petition and directed the
69
MeTC to dismiss the Complaint for unlawful detainer for lack of jurisdiction.[if of appeal is elevated to the Supreme Court only on questions of law.[if
!supportFootnotes][43][endif] !supportFootnotes][49][endif]
The RTC reasoned that the one-year period for the filing (Emphasis supplied.)
of an unlawful detainer case was reckoned from the expiration of the main There is a question of law when the issue does not call for an examination of
lease contract and the sublease agreements on 31 December 2002. the probative value of the evidence presented or of the truth or falsehood of
Petitioners should have then filed an accion publiciana with the RTC in 2009, the facts being admitted, and the doubt concerns the correct application of
instead of an unlawful detainer suit. law and jurisprudence on the matter.[if !supportFootnotes][50][endif] The resolution of
Hence, the instant Rule 45 Petition filed by petitioners.[if !supportFootnotes][44][endif] the issue must rest solely on what the law provides on the given set of
I circumstances.[if !supportFootnotes][51][endif]
Petitioners Resort to a Rule 45 Petition In the instant case, petitioners raise only questions of law with respect to the
Before the Court proceeds with the legal questions in this case, there are jurisdiction of the RTC to entertain a certiorari petition filed against the
procedural issues that merit preliminary attention. interlocutory order of the MeTC in an unlawful detainer suit. At issue in the
Respondent Sunvar argued that petitioners resort to a Rule 45 Petition for present case is the correct application of the Rules on Summary Procedure;
Review on Certiorari before this Court is an improper mode of review of the or, more specifically, whether the RTC violated the Rules when it took
assailed RTC Decision. Allegedly, petitioners should have availed themselves cognizance and granted the certiorari petition against the denial by the MeTC
of a Rule 65 Petition instead, since the RTC Decision was an order of dismissal of the Motion to Dismiss filed by respondent Sunvar. This is clearly a question
of the Complaint, from which no appeal can be taken except by a certiorari of law that involves the proper interpretation of the Rules on Summary
petition. Procedure. Therefore, the instant Rule 45 Petition has been properly lodged
The Court is unconvinced of the arguments of respondent Sunvar and holds with this Court.
that the resort by petitioners to the present Rule 45 Petition is perfectly II
within the bounds of our procedural rules. Propriety of a Rule 65 Petition in Summary Proceedings
As respondent Sunvar explained, no appeal may be taken from an order of Proceeding now to determine that very question of law, the Court finds that
the RTC dismissing an action without prejudice,[if !supportFootnotes][45][endif] but the it was erroneous for the RTC to have taken cognizance of the Rule 65 Petition
aggrieved party may file a certiorari petition under Rule 65.[if of respondent Sunvar, since the Rules on Summary Procedure expressly
!supportFootnotes][46][endif]
Nevertheless, the Rules do not prohibit any of the parties prohibit this relief for unfavorable interlocutory orders of the MeTC.
from filing a Rule 45 Petition with this Court, in case only questions of law are Consequently, the assailed RTC Decision is annulled.
raised or involved.[if !supportFootnotes][47][endif] This latter situation was one that Under the Rules on Summary Procedure, a certiorari petition under Rule 65
petitioners found themselves in when they filed the instant Petition to raise against an interlocutory order issued by the court in a summary proceeding
only questions of law. is a prohibited pleading.[if !supportFootnotes][52][endif] The prohibition is plain enough,
In Republic v. Malabanan,[if !supportFootnotes][48][endif] the Court clarified the three and its further exposition is unnecessary verbiage.[if !supportFootnotes][53][endif] The
modes of appeal from decisions of the RTC, to wit: (1) by ordinary appeal or RTC should have dismissed outright respondent Sunvars Rule 65 Petition,
appeal by writ of error under Rule 41, whereby judgment was rendered in a considering that it is a prohibited pleading. Petitioners have already alerted
civil or criminal action by the RTC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction; (2) the RTC of this legal bar and immediately prayed for the dismissal of the
by a petition for review under Rule 42, whereby judgment was rendered by certiorari Petition.[if !supportFootnotes][54][endif] Yet, the RTC not only refused to
the RTC in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction; and (3) by a petition for dismiss the certiorari Petition,[if !supportFootnotes][55][endif] but even proceeded to
review on certiorari before the Supreme Court under Rule 45. The first mode hear the Rule 65 Petition on the merits.
of appeal is taken to the [Court of Appeals] on questions of fact or mixed Respondent Sunvars reliance on Bayog v. Natino[if !supportFootnotes][56][endif] and Go
questions of fact and law. The second mode of appeal is brought to the CA on v. Court of Appeals[if !supportFootnotes][57][endif] to justify a certiorari review by the
questions of fact, of law, or mixed questions of fact and law. The third mode RTC owing to extraordinary circumstances is misplaced. In both cases, there
70
were peculiar and specific circumstances that justified the filing of the prohibition, or mandamus arising from cases covered by the Revised Rule on
mentioned prohibited pleadings under the Revised Rules on Summary Summary Procedure may be filed with a superior court. This is but consistent
Procedure conditions that are not availing in the case of respondent Sunvar. with the mandate of Section 36 of B.P. Blg. 129 to achieve an expeditious and
In Bayog, Alejandro Bayog filed with the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) inexpensive determination of the cases subject of summary procedure.
of Patnongon-Bugasong-Valderama, Antique an ejectment case against
Alberto Magdato, an agricultural tenant-lessee who had built a house over Nevertheless, in view of the unusual and peculiar circumstances of this case,
his property. When Magdato, an illiterate farmer, received the Summons unless some form of relief is made available to MAGDATO, the grave injustice
from the MCTC to file his answer within 10 days, he was stricken with and irreparable injury that visited him through no fault or negligence on his
pulmonary tuberculosis and was able to consult a lawyer in San Jose, Antique part will only be perpetuated. Thus, the petition for relief from judgment
only after the reglementary period. Hence, when the Answer of Magdato was which he filed may be allowed or treated, pro hac vice, either as an exception
filed three days after the lapse of the 10-day period, the MCTC ruled that it to the rule, or a regular appeal to the RTC, or even an action to annul the
could no longer take cognizance of his Answer and, hence, ordered his order (decision) of the MCTC of 20 September 1993. As an exception, the RTC
ejectment from Bayogs land. When his house was demolished in January correctly held that the circumstances alleged therein and the justification
1994, Magdato filed a Petition for Relief with the RTC-San Jose, Antique, pleaded worked in favor of MAGDATO, and that the motion to dismiss Civil
claiming that he was a duly instituted tenant in the agricultural property, and Case No. 2708 was without merit. xxx [if !supportFootnotes][58][endif] (Emphasis
that he was deprived of due process. Bayog, the landowner, moved to dismiss supplied.)
the Petition on the ground of lack of jurisdiction on the part of the RTC, since On the other hand, in Go v. Court of Appeals, the Court was confronted with
a petition for relief from judgment covering a summary proceeding was a a procedural void in the Revised Rules of Summary Procedure that justified
prohibited pleading. The RTC, however, denied his Motion to Dismiss and the resort to a Rule 65 Petition in the RTC. In that case, the preliminary
remanded the case to the MCTC for proper disposal. conference in the subject ejectment suit was held in abeyance by the
In resolving the Rule 65 Petition, we ruled that although a petition for relief Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of Iloilo City until after the case for
from judgment was a prohibited pleading under the Revised Rules on specific performance involving the same parties shall have been finally
Summary Procedure, the Court nevertheless allowed the filing of the Petition decided by the RTC. The affected party appealed the suspension order to the
pro hac vice, since Magdato would otherwise suffer grave injustice and RTC. In response, the adverse party moved to dismiss the appeal on the
irreparable injury: ground that it concerned an interlocutory order in a summary proceeding
We disagree with the RTCs holding that a petition for relief from judgment that was not the subject of an appeal. The RTC denied the Motion to Dismiss
(Civil Case No. 2708) is not prohibited under the Revised Rule on Summary and subsequently directed the MTCC to proceed with the hearing of the
Procedure, in light of the Jakihaca ruling. When Section 19 of the Revised Rule ejectment suit, a ruling that was upheld by the appellate court.
on Summary Procedure bars a petition for relief from judgment, or a petition In affirming the Decisions of the RTC and CA, the Supreme Court allowed the
for certiorari, mandamus, or prohibition against any interlocutory order filing of a petition for certiorari against an interlocutory order in an ejectment
issued by the court, it has in mind no other than Section 1, Rule 38 regarding suit, considering that the affected party was deprived of any recourse to the
petitions for relief from judgment, and Rule 65 regarding petitions for MTCCs erroneous suspension of a summary proceeding. Retired Chief Justice
certiorari, mandamus, or prohibition, of the Rules of Court, respectively. Artemio V. Panganiban eloquently explained the procedural void in this wise:
These petitions are cognizable by Regional Trial Courts, and not by Indisputably, the appealed [suspension] order is interlocutory, for it does not
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, or Municipal Circuit Trial dispose of the case but leaves something else to be done by the trial court on
Courts. If Section 19 of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure and Rules 38 the merits of the case. It is axiomatic that an interlocutory order cannot be
and 65 of the Rules of Court are juxtaposed, the conclusion is inevitable that challenged by an appeal. Thus, it has been held that the proper remedy in
no petition for relief from judgment nor a special civil action of certiorari, such cases is an ordinary appeal from an adverse judgment on the merits
71
incorporating in said appeal the grounds for assailing the interlocutory order. Contrary to the assertion of respondent Sunvar, the factual circumstances in
Allowing appeals from interlocutory orders would result in the sorry spectacle these two cases are not comparable with respondents situation, and our
of a case being subject of a counterproductive ping-pong to and from the rulings therein are inapplicable to its cause of action in the present suit. As
appellate court as often as a trial court is perceived to have made an error in this Court explained in Bayog, the general rule is that no special civil action
any of its interlocutory rulings. However, where the assailed interlocutory for certiorari may be filed with a superior court from cases covered by the
order is patently erroneous and the remedy of appeal would not afford Revised Rules on Summary Procedure. Respondent Sunvar filed a certiorari
adequate and expeditious relief, the Court may allow certiorari as a mode of Petition in an ejectment suit pending before the MeTC. Worse, the subject
redress. matter of the Petition was the denial of respondents Motion to Dismiss,
which was necessarily an interlocutory order, which is generally not the
Clearly, private respondent cannot appeal the order, being interlocutory. But subject of an appeal. No circumstances similar to the situation of the
neither can it file a petition for certiorari, because ejectment suits fall under agricultural tenant-lessee in Bayog are present to support the relaxation of
the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure, Section 19(g) of which considers the general rule in the instant case. Respondent cannot claim to have been
petitions for certiorari prohibited pleadings: deprived of reasonable opportunities to argue its case before a summary
judicial proceeding.
xxxxxxxxx Moreover, there exists no procedural void akin to that in Go v. Court of
Appeals that would justify respondents resort to a certiorari Petition before
Based on the foregoing, private respondent was literally caught between the RTC. When confronted with the MeTCs adverse denial of its Motion to
Scylla and Charybdis in the procedural void observed by the Court of Appeals Dismiss in the ejectment case, the expeditious and proper remedy for
and the RTC. Under these extraordinary circumstances, the Court is respondent should have been to proceed with the summary hearings and to
constrained to provide it with a remedy consistent with the objective of file its answer. Indeed, its resort to a certiorari Petition in the RTC over an
speedy resolution of cases. interlocutory order in a summary ejectment proceeding was not only
prohibited. The certiorari Petition was already a superfluity on account of
As correctly held by Respondent Court of Appeals, the purpose of the Rules respondents having already taken advantage of a speedy and available
on Summary Procedure is to achieve an expeditious and inexpensive remedy by filing an Answer with the MeTC.
determination of cases without regard to technical rules. (Section 36, Chapter Respondent Sunvar failed to substantiate its claim of extraordinary
III, BP Blg. 129) Pursuant to this objective, the Rules prohibit petitions for circumstances that would constrain this Court to apply the exceptions
certiorari, like a number of other pleadings, in order to prevent unnecessary obtaining in Bayog and Go. The Court hesitates to liberally dispense the
delays and to expedite the disposition of cases. In this case, however, private benefits of these two judicial precedents to litigants in summary proceedings,
respondent challenged the MTCC order delaying the ejectment suit, precisely lest these exceptions be regularly abused and freely availed of to defeat the
to avoid the mischief envisioned by the Rules. very goal of an expeditious and inexpensive determination of an unlawful
detainer suit. If the Court were to relax the interpretation of the prohibition
Thus, this Court holds that in situations wherein a summary proceeding is against the filing of certiorari petitions under the Revised Rules on Summary
suspended indefinitely, a petition for certiorari alleging grave abuse of Procedure, the RTCs may be inundated with similar prayers from adversely
discretion may be allowed. Because of the extraordinary circumstances in this affected parties questioning every order of the lower court and completely
case, a petition for certiorari, in fact, gives spirit and life to the Rules on dispensing with the goal of summary proceedings in forcible entry or unlawful
Summary Procedure. A contrary ruling would unduly delay the disposition of detainer suits.
the case and negate the rationale of the said Rules.[if !supportFootnotes][59][endif] III
(Emphasis supplied.) Reckoning the One-Year Period in Unlawful Detainer Cases
72
We now come to another legal issue underlying the present Petition whether Hence, a complaint sufficiently alleges a cause of action for unlawful detainer
the Complaint filed by petitioners is properly an action for unlawful detainer if it states the following elements:
within the jurisdiction of the MeTC or an accion publiciana lodged with the 1. Initially, the possession of the property by the defendant was by contract
RTC. At the heart of the controversy is the reckoning period of the one-year with or by tolerance of the plaintiff.
requirement for unlawful detainer suits.
Whether or not petitioners action for unlawful detainer was brought within 2. Eventually, the possession became illegal upon the plaintiffs notice to the
one year after the unlawful withholding of possession will determine whether defendant of the termination of the latters right of possession.
it was properly filed with the MeTC. If, as petitioners argue, the one-year
period should be counted from respondent Sunvars receipt on 03 February 3. Thereafter, the defendant remained in possession of the property and
2009 of the Final Notice to Vacate, then their Complaint was timely filed deprived the plaintiff of the latters enjoyment.
within the one-year period and appropriately taken cognizance of by the
MeTC. However, if the reckoning period is pegged from the expiration of the 4. Within one year from the making of the last demand on the defendant to
main lease contract and/or sublease agreement, then petitioners proper vacate the property, the plaintiff instituted the Complaint for ejectment.[if
!supportFootnotes][63][endif]
remedy should have been an accion publiciana to be filed with the RTC.
The Court finds that petitioners correctly availed themselves of an action for On the other hand, accion publiciana is the plenary action to recover the right
unlawful detainer and, hence, reverses the ruling of the RTC. of possession which should be brought in the proper regional trial court when
Under the Rules of Court, lessors against whom possession of any land is dispossession has lasted for more than one year. It is an ordinary civil
unlawfully withheld after the expiration of the right to hold possession may proceeding to determine the better right of possession of realty
by virtue of any express or implied contract, and within one year after the independently of title. In other words, if at the time of the filing of the
unlawful deprivation bring an action in the municipal trial court against the complaint, more than one year had elapsed since defendant had turned
person unlawfully withholding possession, for restitution of possession with plaintiff out of possession or defendants possession had become illegal, the
damages and costs.[if !supportFootnotes][60][endif] Unless otherwise stipulated, the action will be, not one of forcible entry or illegal detainer, but an accion
action of the lessor shall commence only after a demand to pay or to comply publiciana.[if !supportFootnotes][64][endif]
with the conditions of the lease and to vacate is made upon the lessee; or There are no substantial disagreements with respect to the first three
after a written notice of that demand is served upon the person found on the requisites for an action for unlawful detainer. Respondent Sunvar initially
premises, and the lessee fails to comply therewith within 15 days in the case derived its right to possess the subject property from its sublease agreements
of land or 5 days in the case of buildings.[if !supportFootnotes][61][endif] with TRCFI and later on with PDAF. However, with the expiration of the lease
In Delos Reyes v. Spouses Odenes,[if !supportFootnotes][62][endif] the Court recently agreements on 31 December 2002, respondent lost possessory rights over
defined the nature and scope of an unlawful detainer suit, as follows: the subject property. Nevertheless, it continued occupying the property for
Unlawful detainer is an action to recover possession of real property from almost seven years thereafter. It was only on 03 February 2009 that
one who illegally withholds possession after the expiration or termination of petitioners made a final demand upon respondent Sunvar to turn over the
his right to hold possession under any contract, express or implied. The property. What is disputed, however, is the fourth requisite of an unlawful
possession by the defendant in unlawful detainer is originally legal but detainer suit.
became illegal due to the expiration or termination of the right to possess. The Court rules that the final requisite is likewise availing in this case, and that
The proceeding is summary in nature, jurisdiction over which lies with the the one-year period should be counted from the final demand made on 03
proper MTC or metropolitan trial court. The action must be brought up within February 2009.
one year from the date of last demand, and the issue in the case must be the Contrary to the reasoning of the RTC,[if !supportFootnotes][65][endif] the one-year
right to physical possession. (Emphasis supplied.) period to file an unlawful detainer case is not counted from the expiration of
73
the lease contract on 31 December 2002. Indeed, the last demand for in this case October 24, 1996, the reason being that the lessor has the right
petitioners to vacate is the reckoning period for determining the one-year to waive his right of action based on previous demands and let the lessee
period in an action for unlawful detainer. Such one year period should be remain meanwhile in the premises. Thus, the filing of the complaint on
counted from the date of plaintiffs last demand on defendant to vacate the February 25, 1997 was well within the one year reglementary period.[if
!supportFootnotes][69][endif]
real property, because only upon the lapse of that period does the possession (Emphasis supplied.)
become unlawful.[if !supportFootnotes][66][endif] From the time that the main lease contract and sublease agreements expired
In case several demands to vacate are made, the period is reckoned from the (01 January 2003), respondent Sunvar no longer had any possessory right
date of the last demand.[if !supportFootnotes][67][endif] In Leonin v. Court of Appeals,[if over the subject property. Absent any express contractual renewal of the
!supportFootnotes][68][endif]
the Court, speaking through Justice Conchita Carpio sublease agreement or any separate lease contract, it illegally occupied the
Morales, reckoned the one-year period to file the unlawful detainer land or, at best, was allowed to do so by mere tolerance of the registered
Complaint filed on 25 February 1997 from the latest demand letter dated 24 owners petitioners herein. Thus, respondent Sunvars possession became
October 1996, and not from the earlier demand letter dated 03 July 1995: unlawful upon service of the final notice on 03 February 2009. Hence, as an
Prospero Leonin (Prospero) and five others were co-owners of a 400-square unlawful occupant of the land of petitioners, and without any contract
meter property located at K-J Street, East Kamias, Quezon City whereon was between them, respondent is necessarily bound by an implied promise that
constructed a two-storey house and a three-door apartment identified as No. it will vacate upon demand, failing which a summary action for ejectment is
1-A, B, and C. the proper remedy against them.[if !supportFootnotes][70][endif] Upon service of the
final notice of demand, respondent Sunvar should have vacated the property
Prospero and his co-owners allowed his siblings, herein petitioners, to occupy and, consequently, petitioners had one year or until 02 February 2010 in
Apartment C without paying any rentals. which to resort to the summary action for unlawful detainer. In the instant
case, their Complaint was filed with the MeTC on 23 July 2009, which was well
xxxxxxxxx within the one-year period.
The Court is aware that petitioners had earlier served a Notice to Vacate on
Petitioners further contend that respondents remedy is accion publiciana 22 February 2008, which could have possibly tolled the one-year period for
because their possession is not de facto, they having been authorized by the filing an unlawful detainer suit. Nevertheless, they can be deemed to have
true and lawful owners of the property; and that one year had elapsed from waived their right of action against respondent Sunvar and continued to
respondents demand given on July 3, 1995 when the unlawful detainer tolerate its occupation of the subject property. That they sent a final Notice
complaint was filed. to Vacate almost a year later gave respondent another opportunity to comply
with their implied promise as occupants by mere tolerance. Consequently,
The petition fails. the one-year period for filing a summary action for unlawful detainer with the
MeTC must be reckoned from the latest demand to vacate.
Contrary to petitioners contention, the allegations in the complaint make out In the past, the Court ruled that subsequent demands that are merely in the
a case for unlawful detainer. Thus, respondent alleged, inter alia, that she is nature of reminders of the original demand do not operate to renew the one-
the registered owner of the property and that petitioners, who are tenants year period within which to commence an ejectment suit, considering that
by tolerance, refused to vacate the premises despite the notice to vacate sent the period will still be reckoned from the date of the original demand.[if
!supportFootnotes][71][endif]
to them. If the subsequent demands were merely in the nature of
reminders of the original demand, the one-year period to commence an
Likewise, contrary to petitioners contention, the one-year period for filing a ejectment suit would be counted from the first demand.[if !supportFootnotes][72][endif]
complaint for unlawful detainer is reckoned from the date of the last demand, However, respondent failed to raise in any of the proceedings below this
74
question of fact as to the nature of the second demand issued by the OSG. It Trial Court, Branch 26, in Manila from implementing its Decision x x x in Civil
is now too late in the proceedings for them to argue that the 2009 Notice to Case No. 12-127405 granting respondent's application for the issuance of
Vacate was a mere reiteration or reminder of the 2008 Notice to Vacate. In inspection and production orders x x x."1 This is raised through a Petition for
any event, this factual determination is beyond the scope of the present Rule Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 from the "Decision" rendered by the
45 Petition, which is limited to resolving questions of law. Regional Trial Court dated 20 March 2012.
The Court notes that respondent Sunvar has continued to occupy the subject From the records, it appears that on 27 February 2012, respondent
property since the expiration of its sublease on 31 December 2002. The Magtanggol B. Gatdula filed a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Amparo in
factual issue of whether respondent has paid rentals to petitioners from the the Regional Trial Court of Manila.2 This case was docketed as In the Matter
expiration of the sublease to the present was never raised or sufficiently of the Petition for Issuance of Writ of Amparo of Atty. Magtanggol B. Gatdula,
argued before this Court. Nevertheless, it has not escaped the Courts SP No. 12-127405. It was raffled to the sala of Judge Silvino T. Pampilo, Jr. on
attention that almost a decade has passed without any resolution of this the same day.
controversy regarding respondents possession of the subject property, The Amparo was directed against petitioners Justice Secretary Leila M. De
contrary to the aim of expeditious proceedings under the Revised Rules on Lima, Director Nonnatus R. Rojas and Deputy Director Reynaldo O. Esmeralda
Summary Procedure. With the grant of the instant Petition and the remand of the National Bureau of Investigation (DE LIMA, ET AL. for brevity). Gatdula
of the case to the MeTC for continued hearing, the Court emphasizes the duty wanted De Lima, et al. "to cease and desist from framing up Petitioner
of the lower court to speedily resolve this matter once and for all, especially [Gatdula] for the fake ambush incident by filing bogus charges of Frustrated
since this case involves a prime property of the government located in the Murder against Petitioner [Gatdula] in relation to the alleged ambush
countrys business district and the various opportunities for petitioners to gain incident."3
public revenues from the property. Instead of deciding on whether to issue a Writ of Amparo, the judge issued
WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the Petition for Review on Certiorari dated summons and ordered De Lima, et al. to file an Answer.4 He also set the case
14 February 2011, filed by petitioners Republic and National Power for hearing on 1 March 2012. The hearing was held allegedly for determining
Corporation, which are represented here by the Privatization Management whether a temporary protection order may be issued. During that hearing,
Office. The assailed Decision dated 01 December 2010 of the Regional Trial counsel for De Lima, et al. manifested that a Return, not an Answer, is
Court of Makati City, Branch 134, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The appropriate for Amparo cases.5
Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 63, is DIRECTED to proceed In an Order dated 2 March 2012,6 Judge Pampilo insisted that "[s]ince no writ
with the summary proceedings for the unlawful detainer case in Civil Case No. has been issued, return is not the required pleading but answer".7 The judge
98708. noted that the Rules of Court apply suppletorily in Amparo cases.8 He opined
SO ORDERED. that the Revised Rules of Summary Procedure applied and thus required an
Answer.9
G.R. No. 204528 February 19, 2013 Judge Pampilo proceeded to conduct a hearing on the main case on 7 March
SECRETARY LEILA M. DE LIMA, DIRECTOR NONNATUS R. ROJAS and DEPUTY 2012.10 Even without a Return nor an Answer, he ordered the parties to file
DIRECTOR REYNALDO 0. ESMERALDA, Petitioners, their respective memoranda within five (5) working days after that hearing.
vs. Since the period to file an Answer had not yet lapsed by then, the judge also
MAGTANGGOL B. GATDULA, Respondent. decided that the memorandum of De Lima, et al. would be filed in lieu of their
RESOLUTION Answer.11
LEONEN, J.: On 20 March 2012, the RTC rendered a "Decision" granting the issuance of
Submitted for our resolution is a prayer for the issuance of a temporary the Writ of Amparo. The RTC also granted the interim reliefs prayed for,
restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin "the Regional namely: temporary protection, production and inspection orders. The
75
production and inspection orders were in relation to the evidence and reports security is under threat or the acts complained of are not unlawful. On the
involving an on-going investigation of the attempted assassination of Deputy other hand, the issuance of the writ itself sets in motion presumptive judicial
Director Esmeralda. It is not clear from the records how these pieces of protection for the petitioner. The court compels the respondents to appear
evidence may be related to the alleged threat to the life, liberty or security of before a court of law to show whether the grounds for more permanent
the respondent Gatdula. protection and interim reliefs are necessary.
In an Order dated 8 October 2012, the RTC denied the Motion for The respondents are required to file a Return23 after the issuance of the writ
Reconsideration dated 23 March 2012 filed by De Lima, et al. through the clerk of court. The Return serves as the responsive pleading to
Petitioners Sec. De Lima, et al. thus came to this Court assailing the RTC the petition.24 Unlike an Answer, the Return has other purposes aside from
"Decision" dated 20 March 2012 through a Petition for Review on Certiorari identifying the issues in the case. Respondents are also required to detail the
(With Very Urgent Application for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining actions they had taken to determine the fate or whereabouts of the aggrieved
Order/Writ of Preliminary Injunction) via Rule 45, as enunciated in Section 19 party.
of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo (A.M. No. 07-9- 12-SC, 25 September 2007), If the respondents are public officials or employees, they are also required to
viz: state the actions they had taken to: (i) verify the identity of the aggrieved
SEC. 19. Appeal. – Any party may appeal from the final judgment or order to party; (ii) recover and preserve evidence related to the death or
the Supreme Court under Rule 45. The appeal may raise questions of fact or disappearance of the person identified in the petition; (iii) identify witnesses
law or both. x x x (Emphasis supplied). and obtain statements concerning the death or disappearance; (iv) determine
It is the Court’s view that the "Decision" dated 20 March 2012 granting the the cause, manner, location, and time of death or disappearance as well as
writ of Amparo is not the judgment or final order contemplated under this any pattern or practice that may have brought about the death or
rule. Hence, a Petition for Review under Rule 45 may not yet be the proper disappearance; and (vi) bring the suspected offenders before a competent
remedy at this time. court.25 Clearly these matters are important to the judge so that s/he can
The RTC and the Parties must understand the nature of the remedy of calibrate the means and methods that will be required to further the
Amparo to put its procedures in the proper context. protections, if any, that will be due to the petitioner.
The remedy of the Writ of Amparo is an equitable and extraordinary remedy There will be a summary hearing26 only after the Return is filed to determine
to safeguard the right of the people to life, liberty12 and security13 as the merits of the petition and whether interim reliefs are warranted. If the
enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.14 The Rule on the Writ of Amparo was Return is not filed, the hearing will be done ex parte.27 After the hearing, the
issued as an exercise of the Supreme Court's power to promulgate rules court will render the judgment within ten (10) days from the time the petition
concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights.15 It aims is submitted for decision.28
to address concerns such as, among others, extrajudicial killings and enforced If the allegations are proven with substantial evidence, the court shall grant
disappearances.16 the privilege of the writ and such reliefs as may be proper and appropriate.29
Due to the delicate and urgent nature of these controversies, the procedure The judgment should contain measures which the judge views as essential for
was devised to afford swift but decisive relief.17 It is initiated through a the continued protection of the petitioner in the Amparo case. These
petition18 to be filed in a Regional Trial Court, Sandiganbayan, the Court of measures must be detailed enough so that the judge may be able to verify
Appeals, or the Supreme Court.19 The judge or justice then makes an and monitor the actions taken by the respondents. It is this judgment that
"immediate" evaluation20 of the facts as alleged in the petition and the could be subject to appeal to the Supreme Court via Rule 45.30 After the
affidavits submitted "with the attendant circumstances detailed".21 After measures have served their purpose, the judgment will be satisfied. In
evaluation, the judge has the option to issue the Writ of Amparo22 or Amparo cases, this is when the threats to the petitioner’s life, liberty and
immediately dismiss the case. Dismissal is proper if the petition and the security cease to exist as evaluated by the court that renders the judgment.
supporting affidavits do not show that the petitioner's right to life, liberty or Parenthetically, the case may also be terminated through consolidation
76
should a subsequent case be filed – either criminal or civil.31 Until the full WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing, the respondents are required to file
satisfaction of the judgment, the extraordinary remedy of Amparo allows their Answer ten (days) from receipt of this Order.33
vigilant judicial monitoring to ensure the protection of constitutional rights. The 1991 Revised Rules of Summary Procedure is a special rule that the Court
The "Decision" dated 20 March 2012 assailed by the petitioners could not be has devised for the following circumstances:
the judgment or final order that is appealable under Section 19 of the Rule SECTION 1. Scope. – This rule shall govern the summary procedure in the
on the Writ of Amparo. This is clear from the tenor of the dispositive portion Metropolitan Trial Courts, the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, the Municipal
of the "Decision", to wit: Trial Courts, and the Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in the following cases
The Branch Clerk of Court of Court [sic] is hereby DIRECTED to issue the Writ falling within their jurisdiction:
of Amparo. A. Civil Cases:
Likewise, the Branch Clerk of Court is hereby DIRECTED to effect the service (1) All cases of forcible entry and unlawful detainer, x x x.
of the Writ of Amparo in an expeditious manner upon all concerned, and for (2) All other cases, except probate proceedings, where the total amount of
this purpose may call upon the assistance of any military or civilian agency of the plaintiff’s claim does not exceed x x x.
the government. B. Criminal Cases:
This "Decision" pertained to the issuance of the writ under Section 6 of the (1) Violations of traffic laws, rules and regulations;
Rule on the Writ of Amparo, not the judgment under Section 18. The (2) Violations of the rental law;
"Decision" is thus an interlocutory order, as suggested by the fact that (3) Violations of municipal or city ordinances;
temporary protection, production and inspection orders were given together (4) All other criminal cases where the penalty prescribed by law for the
with the decision. The temporary protection, production and inspection offense charged is imprisonment not exceeding six months, or a fine not
orders are interim reliefs that may be granted by the court upon filing of the exceeding one thousand pesos (P1,000.00), or both, x x x.
petition but before final judgment is rendered.32 xxxx
The confusion of the parties arose due to the procedural irregularities in the It is clear from this rule that this type of summary procedure only applies to
RTC. MTC/MTCC/MCTCs. It is mind-boggling how this rule could possibly apply to
First, the insistence on filing of an Answer was inappropriate. It is the Return proceedings in an RTC. Aside from that, this Court limited the application of
that serves as the responsive pleading for petitions for the issuance of Writs summary procedure to certain civil and criminal cases. A writ of Amparo is a
of Amparo. The requirement to file an Answer is contrary to the intention of special proceeding. It is a remedy by which a party seeks to establish a status,
the Court to provide a speedy remedy to those whose right to life, liberty and a right or particular fact.34 It is not a civil nor a criminal action, hence, the
security are violated or are threatened to be violated. In utter disregard of application of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure is seriously misplaced.
the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, Judge Pampilo insisted on issuing summons The second irregularity was the holding of a hearing on the main case prior to
and requiring an Answer. the issuance of the writ and the filing of a Return. Without a Return, the issues
Judge Pampilo’s basis for requiring an Answer was mentioned in his Order could not have been properly joined.
dated 2 March 2012: Worse, is the trial court’s third irregularity: it required a memorandum in lieu
Under Section 25 of the same rule [on the Writ of Amparo], the Rules of Court of a responsive pleading (Answer) of De Lima, et al.
shall apply suppletorily insofar as it is not inconsistent with the said rule. The Return in Amparo cases allows the respondents to frame the issues
Considering the summary nature of the petition, Section 5 of the Revised subject to a hearing. Hence, it should be done prior to the hearing, not after.
Rules of Summary Procedure shall apply. A memorandum, on the other hand, is a synthesis of the claims of the party
Section 5. Answer – Within ten (10) days from service of summons, the litigants and is a final pleading usually required before the case is submitted
defendant shall file his Answer to the complaint and serve a copy thereof on for decision. One cannot substitute for the other since these submissions
the plaintiff. x x x have different functions in facilitating the suit.
77
More importantly, a memorandum is a prohibited pleading under the Rule on undermines the salutary purposes for which the Rule on the Writ of Amparo
the Writ of Amparo.35 were promulgated.
The fourth irregularity was in the "Decision" dated 20 March 2012 itself. In In many instances, the Court adopted a policy of liberally construing its rules
the body of its decision, the RTC stated: in order to promote a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action
"Accordingly this court GRANTS the privilege of the writ and the interim and proceeding.37 The rules can be suspended on the following grounds: (1)
reliefs prayed for by the petitioner." (Emphasis supplied). matters of life, liberty, honor or property, (2) the existence of special or
This gives the impression that the decision was the judgment since the compelling circumstances, (3) the merits of the case, (4) a cause not entirely
phraseology is similar to Section 18 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo: attributable to the fault or negligence of the party favored by the suspension
"SEC. 18. Judgment. — The court shall render judgment within ten (10) days of the rules, (5) a lack of any showing that the review sought is merely
from the time the petition is submitted for decision. If the allegations in the frivolous and dilatory, and (6) the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced
petition are proven by substantial evidence, the court shall grant the privilege thereby.38
of the writ and such reliefs as may be proper and appropriate; otherwise, the WHEREFORE, in the interest of justice, as a prophylactic to the irregularities
privilege shall be denied." (Emphasis supplied). committed by the trial court judge, and by virtue of its powers under Article
The privilege of the Writ of Amparo should be distinguished from the actual VIII, Section 5 (5) of the Constitution, the Court RESOLVES to:
order called the Writ of Amparo. The privilege includes availment of the (1) NULLIFY all orders that are subject of this Resolution issued by Judge
entire procedure outlined in A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC, the Rule on the Writ of Silvino T. Pampilo, Jr. after respondent Gatdula filed the Petition for the
Amparo. After examining the petition and its attached affidavits, the Return Issuance of a Writ of Amparo;
and the evidence presented in the summary hearing, the judgment should (2) DIRECT Judge Pampilo to determine within forty-eight (48) hours from his
detail the required acts from the respondents that will mitigate, if not totally receipt of this Resolution whether the issuance of the Writ of Amparo is
eradicate, the violation of or the threat to the petitioner's life, liberty or proper on the basis of the petition and its attached affidavits.
security. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to cause the personal service of this Resolution
A judgment which simply grants "the privilege of the writ" cannot be on Judge Silvino T. Pampilo, Jr. of Branch 26 of the Regional Trial Court of
executed.1âwphi1 It is tantamount to a failure of the judge to intervene and Manila for his proper guidance together with a WARNING that further
grant judicial succor to the petitioner. Petitions filed to avail of the privilege deviation or improvisation from the procedure set in A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC
of the Writ of Amparo arise out of very real and concrete circumstances. shall be meted with severe consequences.
Judicial responses cannot be as tragically symbolic or ritualistic as "granting SO ORDERED.
the privilege of the Writ of Amparo."
The procedural irregularities in the RTC affected the mode of appeal that G.R. No. 183795 November 12, 2014
petitioners used in elevating the matter to this Court. PRUDENTIAL BANK (now Bank of the Philippine Islands) as the duly appointed
It is the responsibility of counsels for the parties to raise issues using the ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JULIANA DIEZ VDA. DE
proper procedure at the right time. Procedural rules are meant to assist the GABRIEL,Petitioner,
parties and courts efficiently deal with the substantive issues pertaining to a vs.
case. When it is the judge himself who disregards the rules of procedure, delay AMADOR A. MAGDAMIT, JR., on his behalf and as substituted heir (son) of
and confusion result. AMADOR MAGDAMIT, SR., and AMELIA F. MAGDAMIT, as substituted heir
The Petition for Review is not the proper remedy to assail the interlocutory (Widow) of AMADOR MAGDAMIT, SR., Respondents.
order denominated as "Decision" dated 20 March 2012. A Petition for DECISION
Certiorari, on the other hand, is prohibited.36 Simply dismissing the present PEREZ, J.:
petition, however, will cause grave injustice to the parties involved. It
78
Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil substituted) on the leased premises which plaintiff is justified in assuming
Procedure assailing the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) that he is also residing there at. Moreover, it appears that he knew the person
dated 3 September 2007 and 18 July 2008, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. on whom summons was served (together with a copy of the complaint) as a
93368, affirming the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),3 dated 18 certain Dara Cabug only that he claims that the latter is not of "suitable age
January 2006, in Civil Case No. 05-112499, which reversed the ruling of the and discretion" to receive the summons. Simply put, the requirement of due
Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) on the ground that the MeTC did not acquire process has been satisfied. Be that as it may, it would not unduly prejudice
jurisdiction over the person of the respondents due to invalid service of the rights of the plaintiff if defendant is given additional period of five (5) days
summons. from notice hereof within which to file his Answer.6
The facts as culled from the records are as follows: In response to the Amended Complaint, both Magdamit, Jr. and Magdamit,
This is a case of unlawful detainer filed by petitioner Prudential Bank, now Sr. filed their Answers separately. On 9 July 2003, Magdamit, Jr., filed his
Bank of the Philippine Islands (petitioner), in its capacity as administrator of Answerwith Counterclaim7 (In a Special Appearance Capacity). On the other
the Estate of Juliana Diez Vda. De Gabriel (Estate). It is based on the ground hand, Magdamit, Sr. filed his Answer8 on 13 November 2003. Magdamit, Sr.
of respondents’ failure to pay rentals and refusal to vacate the subject argued that the MeTC did not acquire jurisdiction over his person because the
property, which is allegedly part of the Estate located at 1164 Interior, Julio summons was not properly served as the summons was received by Madel
Nakpil St., Paco, Manila, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 118317 Magalona, who is not authorized to receive summons being a mere
of the Registry of Deeds of Manila. housemaid of Magdamit, Sr.’s daughter, Arleen Marie Cabug. Also,
In the Original Complaint4 filed before the MeTC, Branch 15 of Manila, Magdamit, Sr. argued that in the 1960s, the Spouses Francisco and Juliana
petitioner impleaded Amador A. Magdamit, Jr. (Magdamit, Jr.), as Gabriel assigned the subject property to him free of charge as a reward and
respondent. in recompense for the long, faithful, and devoted services he rendered to
Instead of filing an Answer, Magdamit, Jr. filed a Notice of Special Appearance them. Since then, he had been continuously exercising acts of ownership over
with Motion to Dismiss. Among others, Magdamit, Jr. argued that (1) the subject property, including payment of real estate taxes. Magdamit, Sr.
petitioner was not duly authorized through a Board Resolution to institute further argued that amendment of the Complaint in order to implead him is
the complaint, (2) he was not the occupant of the subject property but improper. According to Magdamit, Sr., amendment cannot be allowed so as
instead, his parents, as grantees or awardees of Juliana Diez Vda. De Gabriel, to confer jurisdiction upon a court that never acquired it in the first place, and
and (3) the MeTC did not acquire jurisdiction over his person because the the ejectment case cannot be instituted against Magdamit, Jr. because an
summons was served at his former address at 1164 Interior Julio Nakpil St., action to recover possession cannot be maintained against one who is not in
Paco, Manila. On 30 April 2003, petitioner filed a Motion to Strike Out this actual or legal possession thereof.9
pleading on the ground that it is prohibited. Petitioner then filed an Amended Pending litigation of the case, Magdamit, Jr., who was made an original
Complaint, this time, impleading both Magdamit, Jr. and Amador Magdamit, defendant in the MeTC, substituted his deceased father, Magdamit, Sr.
Sr. (Magdamit, Sr.). Ruling of the MeTC
In an Order5 dated 26 June 2003, the MeTC granted petitioner’s Motion to After trial, the MeTC ruled in favor of petitioner. According to the MeTC,
Strike Out Magdamit, Jr.’s Notice of Special Appearance with Motion to "[t]he fact that the person who received the summons was a 13-year old girl
Dismiss and ordered Magdamit,Jr. to file an Answer. The Order reads: does not make the service of summons invalid. That she was of sufficient age
After due consideration of the matter and arguments stated therein, the and discretion is shown by the fact that she was intelligent enough to
Court resolves to DENY the defendant’s Motion to dismiss, it appearing that immediately bring to the attention of defendant Atty. Amador Magdamit, Jr.
the summons issued in this case was served, albeit substituted nevertheless the summons and copy of the complaint she received."10 The MeTC went on
valid. It is of no consequence that defendant is also presently residing in further, stating that Magdamit Sr.’s claim of ownership is beyond its
Bacoor, Cavite. Suffice it to say that summons was served upon him (although jurisdiction because the onlyissue in an ejectment case is "possession de
79
facto". The dispositive portion of the MeTC Decision dated 21 March 2005 Appearance with Motion to Dismiss, Answer with Counterclaim, entering into
reads: pre-trial, submitting position papers, and presenting evidence, which militate
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against against the alleged improper service of summons. On 3 September 2007, the
defendants Amador Magdamit, Sr.: CA denied the petition and affirmed the decision of the RTC.
1. ordering said defendant and all persons claiming right under him to vacate According to the CA, the Return, with only a general statement and without
the subject three (3) lots covered by TCT No. 118317 of the Registry of Deeds specifying the details of the attendant circumstances or of the efforts exerted
of Manila, located at and also known as 1164 Interior J. Nakpil St., Paco, to serve the summons, will notsuffice for purposes of complying with the
Manila and to peacefully surrender possession thereof to plaintiff; rules of substituted service of summons. The CA also rejected petitioner’s
2. ordering said defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of ₱180,000.00 contention that respondents’ voluntary submission to the jurisdiction of the
representing rentals or reasonable compensation for the use of the property court cured any defect in the substituted service of summons when as early
due from August 2003 up to February 2005 and ₱10,000.00 per month as during the infancy of the proceedings in the MeTC, Magdamit, Jr.
thereafter until defendants fully vacate the subject property; seasonably raised the ground of lack of jurisdiction over his person by filing a
3. ordering said defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of ₱20,000.00 as Notice of Appearance with Motion to Dismiss, which the respondents
attorney’s fees; and incessantly reiterated in their pleadings even when the case was elevated to
4. to pay the costs. The complaint is dismissed as against defendant Amador the RTC, then to the CA. The dispositive portion of the decision of the CA
Magdamit, Jr. and the latter’s counterclaim is likewise dismissed. reads:
SO ORDERED.11 Having found that the MeTC did notacquire jurisdiction over the persons (sic)
Ruling of the RTC of respondents, it would be futile on Our part to still pass upon the other
On appeal, the RTC set aside the decision of the MeTC and dismissed the case errors assigned by petitioner. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition
for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the respondents.12 According to the is DENIED. Costs against petitioner.
RTC, amending the original complaint to implead Magdamit, Sr. to cure a SO ORDERED.14
defect in the complaint and introduce a non-existing cause of action, which The motion for reconsideration was likewise denied for lack of merit.
petitioner did not possess at the outset, and to confer Hence, this Petition, raising the following assignment of errors:
jurisdiction upon the court that never acquired jurisdiction in the first place "I. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the Petition for
renders the complaint dismissible. The RTC further stated that because the Review of the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila dated January
Return did not clearly indicate the impossibility of service of summons within 18,2006; and disposing of only the issue of lack of jurisdiction over the person
a reasonable time upon the respondents, the process server’s resort to of respondents for alleged improper service of summons;
substituted service of summons was unjustified. The decision of the RTC II. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in not ruling on the material
reads: and substantial issues in the case; and
WHEREFORE, this Court finds merit on the appeal and consequently, the III. Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the decision of the
decision on appeal is hereby set aside, and this case is accordingly dismissed Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila dismissing of the Complaint against
for lack of jurisdiction over the persons of the defendants.13 Magdamit, Jr., based on the ground that he was no longer residing at the
Ruling of the CA subject property prior to, and at the time of the filing of the ejectment
Aggrieved, petitioner filed an appeal via a petition for review under Rule 42 complaint."15
of the Rules of Court beforethe CA. The petitioner argued that the RTC erred The pivotal issue is whether or not the MeTC acquired jurisdiction over the
in ruling thatthe MeTC did not acquire jurisdiction over the person of the person of the respondents.
respondents due to improper service of summons considering that the The petition is bereft of merit.
respondents participated in the proceedings in the MeTC by filing a Notice of
80
Both respondents, Magdamit, Jr. and Magdamit, Sr. argued that the MeTC did age, discretion and residing therein who however refused to acknowledged
not acquire jurisdiction overtheir persons due to defective or improper (sic) receipt thereof.
service of summons. Magdamit,Sr. argued that the MeTC could not have That on several occasions despite deligent (sic) efforts exerted to serve the
acquired jurisdiction over his person due to improper/defective service of said processes personally to defendant/s herein the same proved futile. Thus,
summons because it was served upon an incompetent person, the housemaid substituted service was effected in accordance with the provision of Sec. 8,
of his daughter. Magdamit Sr. also argued that the MeTC did not acquire Rule 14, Rules of Court.
jurisdiction over him because he was impleaded asa respondent only after In view of the foregoing, the original summons is now respectfully returned
the inherently invalid original complaint was amended. According to to the Honorable Court, DULY SERVED.18
Magdamit, Sr., the original complaint was inherently invalid because it was Fundamental is the rule that jurisdiction over a defendant in a civil case is
instituted against Magdamit, Jr., against whom an action to recover acquired either through service of summons or through voluntary
possession cannot be maintained, because he is not in actual or legal appearance in court and submission to its authority. In the absence or when
possession thereof. Thus, the amendment of the inherently invalid original the service of summons upon the person of the defendant isdefective, the
complaint for the purpose of curing a defect to confer jurisdiction was invalid court acquires no jurisdiction over his person, and a judgment rendered
as the MeTC never acquired jurisdiction in the first place.16 Pertinent to the against him is null and void.19
position of Magdamit, Sr. is the Sheriff’s Return dated 24 October 2003 on In actionsin personamsuch as ejectment, the court acquires jurisdiction over
the service of summons on Magdamit, Jr. which reads: the person of the defendant through personal or substituted service of
1. That, on October 22, 2003, he proceeded to the place of defendant Amador summons. However, because substituted service is in derogation of the usual
Magdamit, Sr. at No. 1164 Int. Julio Nakpil St., Paco, Manila, for the purpose method of service and personal service of summons is preferred over
of serving the Summons issued in the above-entitled case, but no service was substituted service, parties do not have unbridled right to resort to
effected because he was not around; substituted service of summons.20 Before substituted service of summons is
2. That, on October 23, 2003, undersigned repaired (sic) anew to the said resorted to, the parties must: (a) indicate the impossibility of personal service
place but for the second time, he failed to reached (sic) said defendant. Thus, of summons within a reasonable time; (b) specify the efforts exerted to locate
he elected (sic) substituted service by serving the said summons together the defendant; and (c) state that the summons was served upon a person of
with the copy of the complaint and annexes attached thereat (sic) to Ms. sufficient age and discretion who is residing in the address, or who is in charge
Madel Magalona, a person of sufficient age and living thereat who however of the office or regular place of business of the defendant.21
refused to acknowledge(d) receipt thereof; In Manotoc v. Court of Appeals,22 we have succinctly discussed a valid resort
3. That, undersigned explained to (this)Ms. Magalona the contents of the said to substituted service of summons:
process in a language she fully understood and adviced (sic) her to gave (sic) We can break down this section into the following requirements to effect a
the same to her employer as soon as he arrives.17 valid substituted service:
On the other hand, Magdamit, Jr. argued that the MeTC did not acquire (1) Impossibility of Prompt Personal Service
jurisdiction over his person because the summons was not served at his The party relying on substituted service or the sheriff must show that
residence but at the house of Magdamit, Sr., and on a person not authorized defendant cannot be served promptly or there is impossibility of prompt
to receive summons. The Sheriff’s Return dated 25 March 2003 reads: service. Section 8, Rule 14 provides that the plaintiff or the sheriff is given a
This is to certify, that on the 24th day of March, 2003, xxx served copy of the "reasonable time" to serve the summons to the defendant in person, but no
Summons together with the copy of the Complaint and its attachment, upon specific time frame is mentioned. "Reasonable time" is defined as "so much
defendant/s Amador A. Magdamit, Jr. at 1164 Int., J. Nakpil St., Paco, Manila, time as is necessary under the circumstances for a reasonably prudent and
by tendering the copy to Dara Cabug (grand daughter), a person of sufficient diligent man to do, conveniently, what the contract or duty requires that

81
should be done, having a regard for the rights and possibility of loss, if any, to the occupants of the alleged residence or house of defendant and all other
the other party." Under the Rules, the service of summons has no set period. acts done, though futile, to serve the summons on defendant must be
However, when the court, clerk of court,or the plaintiff asks the sheriff to specified in the Return to justify substituted service. The form on Sheriff’s
make the return of the summons and the latter submits the return of Return of Summons on Substituted Service prescribed in the Handbook for
summons, then the validity of the summons lapses. The plaintiff may then ask Sheriffs published by the Philippine Judicial Academy requires a narration of
for an alias summons if the service of summons has failed. What then is a the efforts made to find the defendant personally and the fact of failure.
reasonable time for the sheriff to effect a personal service in order to Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 5 dated November 9, 1989
demonstrate impossibility of prompt service? To the plaintiff, "reasonable requires that "impossibility of prompt service should be shown by stating the
time" means no more than seven (7) days since an expeditious processing of efforts made to find the defendant personallyand the failure of such efforts,"
a complaint is what a plaintiff wants. To the sheriff, "reasonable time" means which should be made in the proof of service.
15 to 30 days because at the end of the month, it is a practice for the branch (3) A Person of Suitable Age and Discretion
clerk of court to require the sheriff to submit a return of the summons If the substituted service will be effected at defendant’s house or residence,
assigned to the sheriff for service. The Sheriff’s Return provides data to the it should be left with a person of "suitable age and discretion then residing
Clerk of Court, which the clerk uses in the Monthly Report of Cases to be therein." A person of suitable age and discretion is one who has attained the
submitted to the Office of the Court Administrator within the first ten (10) age of full legal capacity (18 years old) and is considered to have enough
days of the succeeding month. Thus, one month from the issuance of discernment to understand the importance of a summons. "Discretion"
summons can be considered "reasonable time" with regard to personal isdefined as "the ability to make decisions which represent a responsible
service on the defendant. choice and for which an understanding of what is lawful, right or wise may be
Sheriffs are asked to discharge their duties on the service of summons with presupposed". Thus, to be of sufficient discretion, suchperson must know
due care, utmost diligence, and reasonable promptness and speed so as not how to read and understand English to comprehend the import of the
to prejudice the expeditious dispensation of justice. Thus, they are enjoined summons, and fully realize the need to deliver the summonsand complaint to
to try their best efforts to accomplish personal service on defendant. On the the defendant at the earliest possible time for the person to take appropriate
other hand, since the defendant is expected to try to avoid and evade service action. Thus, the person must have the "relation of confidence" to the
of summons, the sheriff must be resourceful, persevering, canny, and diligent defendant, ensuring that the latter would receive orat least be notified of the
in serving the process on the defendant. For substituted service of summons receipt of the summons. The sheriff must therefore determine if the person
to be available, there must be several attempts by the sheriff to personally found in the alleged dwelling or residence of defendant is of legal age, what
serve the summons within a reasonable period [of one month] which the recipient’s relationship with the defendant is, and whether said person
eventually resulted in failure to prove impossibility of prompt service. comprehends the significance of the receipt of the summons and his duty to
"Several attempts" means at least three (3) tries, preferably on at least two immediately deliver it to the defendant or at least notify the defendant of
different dates. In addition, the sheriff must cite why such efforts were said receipt of summons. These matters must be clearly and specifically
unsuccessful. It is only then that impossibility of service can be confirmed or described in the Return of Summons.
accepted. (4) A Competent Person in Charge
(2) Specific Details in the Return If the substituted service will be done at defendant’s office or regular place
The sheriff must describe in the Return of Summons the facts and of business, then it should be served on a competent person in charge of the
circumstances surrounding the attempted personal service. The efforts made place. Thus, the person on whom the substituted service will be made must
to find the defendant and the reasons behind the failure must be clearly be the one managing the office or business of defendant, such as the
narrated in detail in the Return.The date and time of the attempts on president or manager; and such individual must have sufficient knowledge
personal service, the inquiries made to locate the defendant, the name/s of tounderstand the obligation of the defendant in the summons, its
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importance, and the prejudicial effects arising from inaction on the summons. Worse, the Return did not make mention of any attempt to serve the
Again, these details must be contained in the Return.23 (Emphasis and summons at the actual residence of Magdamit, Jr. The Return merely
underscoring supplied; citations omitted) expressed a general statement that the sheriff exerted efforts to serve the
The service of summons on Magdamit, Sr. failed to comply with the rule laid summons and that the same was futile, "[t]hat on several occasions despite
down in Manotoc. The resort to substituted service after just two (2) deligent (sic) efforts exerted to serve the said processes personally to
attempts to personally serve the summons on Magdamit, Sr., is premature defendant/s herein the same proved futile," without any statement on the
under our pronouncement that: impossibility of service of summons within a reasonable time. Further, the
What then is a reasonable time for the sheriff to effect a personal service in summons was served on a certain DaraCabug, a person not of suitable age
order to demonstrate impossibility of prompt service? To the plaintiff, and discretion, who is unauthorized to receive the same.
"reasonable time"means no more than seven (7) days since an expeditious Notably, the requirement additionally is that
processing of a complaint is what a plaintiff wants. To the sheriff, "reasonable Thus, to be of sufficient discretion, such person must know how to read and
time" means 15 to 30 days because at the end of the month, it is a practice understand English to comprehend the import of the summons, and fully
for the branch clerk of court to require the sheriff to submit a return of the realize the need to deliver the summons and complaint to the defendant at
summons assigned to the sheriff for service. The Sheriff’s Return provides the earliest possible timefor the person to take appropriate action. Thus, the
data to the Clerk of Court, which the clerk uses in the Monthly Report of Cases person must have the "relation of confidence" to the defendant, ensuring
to be submitted to the Office of the Court Administrator within the first ten that the latter would receive or at least be notified of the receipt of the
(10) days of the succeeding month. Thus, one month from the issuance of summons. The sheriff must therefore determine if the person found in the
summons can be considered "reasonable time" with regard to personal alleged dwelling or residence of defendant is of legal age, what the recipient’s
service on the defendant.24 relationship with the defendant is, and whether said person comprehends
Then too, the proof of service failed to specify the details of the attendant the significance of the receipt of the summons and his duty to immediately
circumstances. The Return merely expressed a general statement that deliver it tothe defendant or at least notify the defendant of said receipt of
because the Sheriff failed to reachMagdamit, Sr., he elected substituted summons. These matters must be clearly and specifically described in the
service of summons. The Return failed to state the impossibility to serve Return of Summons.27
summons within a reasonable time. And the further defect in the service was The readily acceptable conclusion inthis case is that the process server at
that the summons was served on a person not of sufficient discretion, an once resorted to substituted service of summons without exerting enough
incompetent person, Madel Magalona, a housemaid of Magdamit Sr.’s effort to personally serve summons on respondents. In Sps. Jose v. Sps.
daughter, Arleen Marie Cabug. Boyon,28 we discussed the effect of failure to specify the details of the effort
Similar to the case of Magdamit, Sr., the service of summons on Magdamit, exerted by the process serverto personally serve summons upon the
Jr. also failed to complywith the rules laid down in Manotoc. The summons defendants:
was served at 1163 Int., J. Nakpil St., Paco, Manila, Magdamit, Jr.’s former The Return of Summons shows no effort was actually exerted and no positive
residence when at the time, Magdamit, Jr. was residing at 0369 Jupiter St., step taken by either the process server or petitioners to locate and serve the
Progressive Village 20 and 21, Molino I, Bacoor, Cavite. In Keister v. Navarro,25 summons personally on respondents. At best, the Return merely states the
we have defined "dwelling house" or "residence" to refer to a place where alleged whereabouts of respondents without indicating that such information
the person named in the summons is living at the time when the service is was verified from a person who had knowledge thereof. Certainly, without
made, even though he may be temporarily out of the country at the time to specifying the details of the attendant circumstances or of the efforts exerted
the time of service. Therefore, it is not sufficient for the Sheriff "to leave the to serve the summons, a general statement that such efforts were made will
copy at defendant's former dwelling house, residence, or place ofabode, as not suffice for purposes of complying withthe rules of substituted service of
the case may be, after his removal therefrom".26 summons.29 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
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In the case at bar, the Returns contained mere general statements that the other hand, Magdamit, Sr. filed an Answer with an allegation by special
efforts at personal service were made. Not having specified the details of the defense that the original complaint
attendant circumstances or of the efforts exerted to serve the summons,30 should be dismissed outright because the MeTC did not acquire jurisdiction
there was a failure to comply strictly with all the requirements of substituted over his person and the subject matter.1âwphi1 In sum, both respondents
service, and as a result the service of summons is rendered ineffective.31 filed their Answers via special appearance.
Filing an Answer does not amount to voluntary appearance In Philippine Commercial International Bank v. Spouses Wilson Dy Hong Pi
The petitioner asserted that assuming arguendo that the service of summons and Lolita Dy,33 we held that filing of an answer in a special appearance
was defective, respondents’ filing of their respective Answers and cannot be construed as voluntary appearance or submission to the court’s
participation in the proceedings in the MeTC, such as attending the pre-trial jurisdiction:
and presenting evidence, amount to voluntary appearance which vested the Preliminarily, jurisdiction over the defendant in a civil case is acquired either
MeTC jurisdiction over their persons. by the coercive power of legal processes exerted over his person, or his
Indeed, despite lack of valid service of summons, the court can still acquire voluntary appearance in court. As a general proposition, one who seeks an
jurisdiction over the person of the defendant by virtue of the latter’s affirmative relief is deemed to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court.
voluntary appearance. Section 20, Rule14 of the Rules of Court clearly states: It is by reason of this rule that we have had occasion to declare that the filing
Sec. 20. Voluntary appearance. – The defendant’s voluntary appearance in of motions to admit answer, for additional time to file answer, for
the action shall be equivalent to service of summons. The inclusion in a reconsideration of a default judgment, and to lift order of default with motion
motion to dismiss of other grounds aside from lack of jurisdiction over the for reconsideration, is considered voluntary submission to the court’s
person shall not be deemed a voluntary appearance. jurisdiction. This, however, is tempered by the concept of conditional
However, such is not the case atbar. Contrary to petitioner’s contention, appearance, such that a party who makes a special appearance to challenge,
respondents are not deemed to have voluntarily submitted to the court’s among others, the court’s jurisdiction over his person cannot be considered
jurisdiction by virtue of filing an Answer or other appropriate responsive to have submitted to its authority.
pleadings and by participating in the case. Prescinding from the foregoing, it is thus clear that:
The mandate under the Rules on Summary Proceedings that govern (1) Special appearance operates as an exception to the general rule on
ejectment cases, is expeditious administration of justice such that the filing voluntary appearance;
of an Answer is mandatory. To give effect to the mandatory character and (2) Accordingly, objections to the jurisdiction of the court over the person of
speedy disposition of cases, the defendant is required to file an answer within the defendantmust be explicitly made, i.e., set forth in an unequivocal
ten (10) days from service of summons, otherwise, the court, motu proprio, manner; and
or upon motion of the plaintiff, shall render judgment as may be warranted (3) Failure to do so constitutes voluntary submission to the jurisdiction of the
by the facts alleged in the complaint, limited to the relief prayed for by the court, especially in instanceswhere a pleading or motion seeking affirmative
petitioner.32 Through this rule, the parties are precluded from resorting to relief is filed and submitted to the court for resolution.34 (Emphasis supplied
dilatory maneuvers. and underscoring supplied)
Compliantly, respondents filed their respective Answers. In the MeTC, at first, Parallel to our ruling in Philippine Commercial International Bank, the
Magdamit, Jr. filed a Notice of Special Appearance with Motion to Dismiss, respondents’ act of filing their respective Answers with express reservation
where he seasonably raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction, which the MeTC should not be construed as a waiver of the lack of jurisdiction of the MeTC
later ordered to be stricken out. In lieu thereof, Magdamit, Jr. filed an Answer over their person because of non-service/defective/improper service of
with Counterclaim (In a Special Appearance Capacity). Again, Magdamit, Jr. summons and for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter. Hence, sans
reiterated the lack of jurisdiction over his person and the subject matter. On voluntary submission to the court’s jurisdiction, filing an answer in
compliance with the rules on summary procedure in lieu of obtaining an
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adverse summary judgment does not amount to voluntary submission. As we letter. Despite receipt of the demand letter and the lapse of the said 15-day
already held, a party who makes a special appearance in court, challenging period to comply, Po neither tendered payment for the unpaid rent nor
the jurisdiction of said court, is not deemed to have submitted himself to the vacated the premises. Thus, on December 12, 2012, Fairland was constrained
jurisdiction of the court.35 It should not be construed as voluntary submission to file the complaint for unlawful detainer before the MeTC. Po had until
to the jurisdiction of the court. January 7, 2013 to file his answer but he failed to do so. Hence, on February
In view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. The Decision and 6, 2013, Fairland filed a motion to render judgment.8
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 93368, which upheld the In its February 21, 2013 Order,9 the MeTC considered the case submitted for
ruling of the Regional Trial Court that the Metropolitan Trial Court in Civil Case decision.
No. 174798 did not acquire jurisdiction over the person of the respondents On March 1, 2013, Po’s counsel filed his Entry of Appearance with Motion for
due to invalid service of summons, are AFFIRMED. Leave of Court to file Comment/Opposition to Motion to Render Judgment.10
SO ORDERED. In the attached Comment/Opposition, Po denied the allegations against him
and commented that there was no supporting document that would show
G.R. No. 217694 that Fairland owned the property; that there was no lease contract between
FAIRLAND KNITCRAFT CORPORATION, Petitioner, them; that there were no documents attached to the complaint which would
vs. show that previous demands had been made and received by him; that the
ARTURO LOO PO, Respondent. alleged unpaid rental was P220,000.00, but the amount of damages being
DECISION prayed for was P440,000.00; that the issue in the case was one of ownership;
MENDOZA, J.: and that it was the RTC which had jurisdiction over the case.
This is a petition for review on certiorari1 seeking to reverse and set aside the The MeTC treated the comment/opposition as Po’s answer to the complaint.
October 31, 2014 Decision2 and the March 6, 2015 Resolution3 of the Court Considering, however, that the case fell under the Rules of Summary
of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. SP No. 134701 which affirmed the September 16, Procedure, the same was deemed filed out of time. Hence, the motion was
2013 Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 67 (RTC) in denied.11
SCA Case No. 3831. The RTC decision, in turn, sustained the March 21, 2013 The Ruling of the Metropolitan Trial Court
Decision5 of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 72, Pasig City (MeTC), which In its March 21, 2013 Decision, the MeTC dismissed the complaint for lack of
dismissed the unlawful detainer case filed by petitioner Fairland Knitcraft merit due to Fairland’s failure to prove its claim by preponderance of
Corporation (Fairland) against respondent Arturo Loo Po (Po) for failure to evidence. The MeTC explained that although the complaint sufficiently
prove its case by preponderance of evidence. alleged a cause of action, Fairland failed to prove that it was entitled to the
The Antecedents possession of the subject property. There was no evidence presented to
In a complaint6 for unlawful detainer, docketed as Civil Case No. 19429, filed support its claim against Po either.
before the MeTC, Fairland alleged that it was the owner of Condominium Unit Aggrieved, Fairland seasonably filed its appeal before the RTC under Rule 40
No. 205 in Cedar Mansion II on Ma. Escriba Street, Pasig City. The said unit of the Rules of Court. Being an appealed case, the RTC required the parties to
was leased by Fairland to Po by verbal agreement, with a rental fee of submit their respective memoranda.
P20,000.00 a month, to be paid by Po at the beginning of each month. From In its memorandum,12 Fairland argued that an unlawful detainer case was a
March 2011, Po had continuously failed to pay rent. For said reason, Fairland special civil action governed by summary procedure. In cases where a
opted not to renew the lease agreement anymore. defendant failed to file his answer, there was no need for a declaration of
On January 30, 2012, Fairland sent a formal letter7 to Po demanding that he default. Fairland claimed that the Rules stated that in such cases, judgment
pay the amount of P220,000.00, representing the rental arrears, and that he should be based on the “facts alleged in the complaint,”13 and that there was
vacate the leased premises within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the no requirement that judgment must be based on facts proved by
85
preponderance of evidence. Considering that the presentation of evidence The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
was not required when a defendant in an ejectment case failed to appear in In the assailed Decision, dated October 31, 2014, the CA dismissed the
a preliminary conference, the same should be applied when no answer had petition and ruled that an action for unlawful detainer would not lie against
been filed. Po. Notwithstanding the abbreviated proceeding it ordained and the limited
Fairland continued that the failure to file an answer in an ejectment case was pleadings it allowed, the Rules on Summary Procedure did not relax the rules
tantamount to an admission by the defendant of all the ultimate facts alleged on evidence. In order for an action for recovery of possession to prosper, it
in the complaint. There was no more need for evidence in such a situation as was indispensable that he who brought the action should prove not only his
every allegation of ultimate facts in the complaint was deemed established ownership but also the identity of the property claimed. The CA concluded,
by the defendant’s acquiescence. however, that Fairland failed to discharge such bounden duty.
On July 18, 2013, Po filed his memorandum14 and countered that there was Fairland filed its motion for reconsideration, but it was denied by the CA in its
no merit in Fairland’s insistence that evidence was unnecessary when no assailed Resolution, dated March 6, 2015.
answer had been filed. The facts stated in the complaint did not warrant a Hence, this petition.
rendition of judgment in the plaintiff’s favor. The court had the discretion to ARGUMENTS/DISCUSSIONS
rule on the pleadings based on its evaluation of the allegation of facts. I
Further, all the statements in the complaint were mere allegations which IN AN EJECTMENT CASE WHEREIN NO ANSWER WAS SEASONABLY FILED, IT
were not substantiated by any competent evidence. Po asserted that there IS AN ERROR OF LAW TO BASE JUDGMENT ON PREPONDERANCE OF
was no proof presented to show that the subject property was indeed owned EVIDENCE
by Fairland; that there was no lease contract between the parties; that he II
never received the demand letter, dated January 30, 2012; and that the HOLDING THAT EVIDENCE IN AN EJECTMENT CASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN
amount stated in the prayer of the complaint did not coincide with the ATTACHED TO THE COMPLAINT IS AN ERROR OF LAW.19
amount of unpaid rent. Po also reiterated that the case involved an issue of Fairland argues that in ejectment cases, presentation of evidence was
ownership over the condominium unit he was occupying. undertaken through the submission of position papers but the same was
The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court dispensed with when the defendant failed to file an answer or when either
On September 16, 2013, the RTC affirmed the MeTC ruling and agreed that party failed to appear during the preliminary conference. In an ejectment
Fairland failed to establish its case by preponderance of evidence. There was case, the scope of inquiry should be limited to the sufficiency of the cause of
nothing on record that would establish Fairland’s right over the property action stated in the complaint when no seasonable answer was filed. The
subject of the complaint. Though it had been consistently ruled that the only attachment of documentary evidence to the Complaint was not a
issue for resolution in an ejectment case was the physical or material requirement and was even proscribed by law.
possession of the property involved, independent of any claim of ownership In his Comment,20 Po countered that the present petition raised a question
by any of the party-litigants, the court may go beyond the question of physical of fact. Although couched in different words, the issues raised here were
possession provisionally. The RTC concluded that even assuming that Po was substantially the same as the issues raised before the CA. There was no legal
not the lawful owner, his actual physical possession of the subject property basis in Fairland’s assertion that evidence was dispensed with when no
created the presumption that he was entitled to its possession thereof. answer to the complaint had been filed. Such argument would undermine the
Fairland filed a motion for reconsideration15 attaching its condominium inherent authority of the courts to resolve legal issues based on the facts of
certificate of title16 over the subject property, but it was denied by the RTC in the case and on the rules on evidence. Contrary to Fairland’s position, the
its Order,17 dated February 24, 2014. court decided the case on the basis of the complaint which was found wanting
Undaunted, Fairland filed a petition for review18 under Rule 42 of the Rules in preponderance of evidence.
of Court before the CA.
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In its Reply,21 Fairland posited that the petition did not raise mere questions possession became illegal upon notice by the plaintiff to the defendant of the
of fact but one of law as what was being sought for review was the erroneous termination of the latter’s right of possession; (3) thereafter, the defendant
dismissal of the ejectment case for lack of preponderance of evidence. Since remained in possession of the property, and deprived the plaintiff of the
no answer was filed and the complaint sufficiently alleged a cause of action enjoyment thereof; and (4) within one (1) year from the last demand on
for unlawful detainer, it became the duty of the MeTC to decide the case in defendant to vacate the property, the plaintiff instituted the complaint for
its favor. ejectment.23
The Court’s Ruling There is no question that the complaint filed by Fairland adequately alleged
The petition is meritorious. a cause of action for unlawful detainer. The pertinent portion of the said
Complaint has a valid cause of action for Unlawful Detainer complaint reads:
Section 1 of Rule 70 of the Rules of Court lays down the requirements for xxx
filing a complaint for unlawful detainer, to wit: 3. Plaintiff is the owner of, and had been leasing to the defendant, the
Section 1. – Who may institute proceedings, and when. – Subject to the premises mentioned above as the residence of the latter;
provision of the next succeeding section, a person deprived of the possession 4. There is no current written lease contract between plaintiff and the
of any land or building by force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth, or a defendant, but the latter agreed to pay the former the amount of
lessor, vendor, vendee, or other person against whom the possession of any Php20,000.00 as rent at the beginning of each month. Thus, the term of the
land or building is unlawfully withheld after the expiration or termination of lease agreement is renewable on a month-to-month basis;
the right to hold possession, by virtue of any contract, express or implied, or 5. Since March 2011, defendant has not been paying the aforesaid rent
the legal representatives or assigns of any such lessor, vendor, vendee, or despite plaintiff’s repeated demands;
other person, may, at any time within one (1) year after such unlawful 6. Due to defendant’s continuous failure to pay rent, plaintiff reached a
deprivation or withholding of possession, bring an action in the proper decision not to renew the lease agreement. It sent a formal letter, x x x
Municipal Trial Court against the person or persons unlawfully withholding or demanding defendant to pay the amount of Php220,000.00, representing
depriving of possession, or any person or persons claiming under them, for defendant’s twelve month rental arrears beginning January 2011, and to
the restitution of such possession, together with damages and costs.1âwphi1 vacate the leased premises, both within fifteen (15) days from receipt of said
Stated differently, unlawful detainer is a summary action for the recovery of letter;
possession of real property. This action may be filed by a lessor, vendor, 7. Despite receipt of the aforesaid demand letter and lapse of the fifteen day
vendee, or other person from whom the possession of any land or building is period given to comply with plaintiff’s demand, defendant neither tendered
unlawfully withheld after the expiration or termination of the right to hold payment for the unpaid rent nor vacated the leased premises. Worse,
possession by virtue of any contract, express or implied. The possession of defendant has not been paying rent up to now;
the defendant was originally legal, as his possession was permitted by the x x x24
plaintiff on account of an express or implied contract between them. The The above-cited portions of the complaint sufficiently alleged that Fairland
defendant’s possession, however, became illegal when the plaintiff was the owner of the subject property being leased to Po by virtue of an oral
demanded that the defendant vacate the subject property due to the agreement. There was a demand by Fairland for Po to pay rent and vacate
expiration or termination of the right to possess under the contract, and the before the complaint for unlawful detainer was instituted. The complaint was
defendant refused to heed such demand. A case for unlawful detainer must seasonably filed within the one-year period prescribed by law. With all the
be instituted one year from the unlawful withholding of possession.22 elements present, there was clearly a cause of action in the complaint for
A complaint sufficiently alleges a cause of action for unlawful detainer if it unlawful detainer.
recites the following: (1) initially, possession of the property by the defendant Under the Rules of Summary Procedure, the weight of evidence is not
was by contract with or by tolerance of the plaintiff; (2) eventually, such considered when a judgment is rendered based on the complaint
87
The question now is whether the MeTC correctly dismissed the case for lack the complaint within the period provided, the court has no authority to
of preponderance of evidence. Fairland posits that judgment should have declare the defendant in default. Instead, the court, motu proprio or on
been rendered in its favor on the basis of the complaint itself and not on its motion of the plaintiff, shall render judgment as may be warranted by the
failure to adduce proof of ownership over the subject property. facts alleged in the complaint and limited to what is prayed for.28
The Court agrees with Fairland’s position. This has been enunciated in the case of Don Tino Realty and Development
The summons, together with the complaint and its annexes, was served upon Corporation v. Florentino,29 citing Bayog v. Natino,30 where the Court held
Po on December 28, 2012. This presupposes that the MeTC found no ground that there was no provision for an entry of default under the Rules of
to dismiss the action for unlawful detainer.25 Nevertheless, Po failed to file his Summary Procedure if the defendant failed to file his answer.
answer on time and the MeTC had the option to render judgment motu In this case, Po failed to file his answer to the complaint despite proper service
proprio or on motion of the plaintiff. In relation thereto, Sections 5 and 6 of of summons. He also failed to provide a sufficient justification to excuse his
the Rules on Summary Procedure provide: lapses.1âwphi1 Thus, as no answer was filed, judgment must be rendered by
Sec. 5. Answer. – Within ten (10) days from service of summons, the the court as may be warranted by the facts alleged in the complaint.
defendant shall file his answer to the complaint and serve a copy thereof on Failure to attach annexes is not fatal if the complaint alleges a sufficient cause
the plaintiff. Affirmative and negative defenses not pleaded therein shall be of action; evidence need not be attached to the complaint
deemed waived, except for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter. Cross- The lower courts erroneously dismissed the complaint of Fairland simply on
claims and compulsory counterclaims not asserted in the answer shall be the ground that it failed to establish by preponderance of evidence its
considered barred. The answer to counterclaims or cross-claims shall be filed ownership over the subject property. As can be gleaned above, the rules do
and served within ten (10) days from service of the answer in which they are not compel the plaintiff to attach his evidence to the complaint because, at
pleaded. this inception stage, he only has to file his complaint to establish his cause of
Sec. 6. Effect of failure to answer. – Should the defendant fail to answer the action. Here, the court was only tasked to determine whether the complaint
complaint within the period above provided, the court, motu proprio or on of Fairland alleged a sufficient cause of action and to render judgment
motion of the plaintiff, shall render judgment as may be warranted by the thereon.
facts alleged in the complaint and limited to what is prayed for therein. The Also, there was no need to attach proof of ownership in the complaint
court may in its discretion reduce the amount of damages and attorney’s fees because the allegations therein constituted a sufficient cause of action for
claimed for being excessive or otherwise unconscionable, without prejudice unlawful detainer. Only when the allegations in the complaint are insufficient
to the applicability of Section 4, Rule 18 of the Rules of Court, if there are two to form a cause of action shall the attachment become material in the
or more defendants. determination thereof. Even under Section 4 of the Rules of Summary
[Emphasis Supplied] Procedure,31 it is not mandatory to attach annexes to the complaint.
Section 6 is clear that in case the defendant failed to file his answer, the court In the case of Lazaro v. Brewmaster32 (Lazaro), where judgment was rendered
shall render judgment, either motu proprio or upon plaintiff’s motion, based based on the complaint due to the failure of the defendant to file an answer
solely on the facts alleged in the complaint and limited to what is prayed for. under the Rules of Summary Procedure, it was written that:
The failure of the defendant to timely file his answer and to controvert the xxx To determine whether the complaint states a cause of action, all
claim against him constitutes his acquiescence to every allegation stated in documents attached thereto may, in fact, be considered, particularly when
the complaint. Logically, there is nothing to be done in this situation26 except referred to in the complaint. We emphasize, however, that the inquiry is into
to render judgment as may be warranted by the facts alleged in the the sufficiency, not the veracity of the material allegations in the complaint.
complaint.27 Thus, consideration of the annexed documents should only be taken in the
Similarly, under Section 7, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, which governs the context of ascertaining the sufficiency of the allegations in the complaint.
rules for forcible entry and unlawful detainer, if the defendant fails to answer [Emphasis Supplied]
88
In Lazaro, the assailed invalid invoices attached to the complaint were not Sec. 9. Submission of affidavits and position papers. – Within ten (10) days
considered because the complaint already alleged a sufficient cause of action from receipt of the order mentioned in the next preceding section, the parties
for collection of sum of money. Those assailed documents were not the bases shall submit the affidavits of their witnesses and other evidence on the
of the plaintiff’s action for sum of money, but were only attached to the factual issues defined in the order, together with their position papers setting
complaint to provide evidentiary details on the alleged transactions. forth the law and the facts relied upon by them.
Similarly, in the case at bench, there was no need for documentary [Emphasis Supplied]
attachments to prove Fairland’s ownership over the subject property. First, Again, it is worth stressing that these provisions are exactly Sections 9 and 10
the present action is an action for unlawful detainer wherein only de facto or under Rule 70 of the Rules of Court.
material possession is required to be alleged. Evidently, the attachment of Accordingly, it is only at this part of the proceedings that the parties will be
any deed of ownership to the complaint is not indispensable because an required to present and offer their evidence before the court to establish
action for unlawful detainer does not entirely depend on ownership. their causes and defenses. Before the issuance of the record of preliminary
Second, Fairland sufficiently alleged ownership and superior right of conference, the parties are not yet required to present their respective
possession over the subject property. These allegations were evidently evidence.
manifest in the complaint as Fairland claimed to have orally agreed to lease These specific provisions under the Rules of Summary Procedure which are
the property to Po. The Court is of the view that these allegations were clear also reflected in Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, serve their purpose to
and unequivocal and did not need supporting attachments to be considered immediately settle ejectment proceedings. “Forcible entry and unlawful
as having sufficiently established its cause of action. Even the MeTC conceded detainer cases are summary proceedings designed to provide for an
that the complaint of Fairland stated a valid cause of action for unlawful expeditious means of protecting actual possession or the right to possession
detainer.33 It must be stressed that inquiry into the attached documents in of the property involved. It does not admit of a delay in the determination
the complaint is for the sufficiency, not the veracity, of the material thereof. It is a ‘time procedure’ designed to remedy the situation.35 Thus, as
allegations in the complaint. a consequence of the defendant’s failure to file an answer, the court is simply
Third, considering that Po failed to file an answer within the prescribed tasked to render judgment as may be warranted by the facts alleged in the
period, he was deemed to have admitted all the allegations in the complaint complaint and limited to what is prayed for therein.
including Fairland’s claim of ownership. To reiterate, the failure of the As the complaint contains a valid cause of action, a judgment can already be
defendant to timely file his answer and controvert the claim against him rendered
constituted his acquiescence to every allegation stated in the complaint. In order to achieve an expeditious and inexpensive determination of unlawful
In the Entry of Appearance with Motion for Leave of Court to file detainer cases, a remand of this case to the lower courts is no longer
Comment/Opposition to Motion to Render Judgment, which was belatedly necessary and the case can be determined on its merits by the Court.
filed and so was denied by the MeTC, Po merely denied the allegations against To recapitulate, as Po failed to file his answer on time, judgment shall be
him without even bothering to aver why he claimed to have a superior right rendered based only on the complaint of Fairland without the need to
of possession of the subject property.34 consider the weight of evidence. As discussed above, the complaint of
Fourth, it is only at the later stage of the summary procedure when the Fairland had a valid cause of action for unlawful detainer.
affidavits of witnesses and other evidence on factual issues shall be presented Consequently, there is no more need to present evidence to establish the
before the court. Sections 8 and 9 of the Rules on Summary Procedure state: allegation of Fairland of its ownership and superior right of possession over
Sec. 8. Record of preliminary conference. – Within five (5) days after the the subject property. Po’s failure to file an answer constitutes an admission
termination of the preliminary conference, the court shall issue an order of his illegal occupation due to his non-payment of rentals, and of Fairland’s
stating the matters taken up therein, x x x rightful claim of material possession. Thus, judgment must be rendered
finding that Fairland has the right to eject Po from the subject property.
89
The Judicial Affidavit Rule This is without prejudice to the introduction of secondary evidence in place
On a final note, the Court deems it proper to discuss the relevance of the of the original when allowed by existing rules.
Judicial Affidavit Rule or A.M. No. 12-8-8-SC, where documentary or object WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The October 31, 2014 Decision and
evidence are required to be attached. To begin with, the rule is not applicable the March 6, 2015 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CAG. R. SP No.
because such evidence are required to be attached to a judicial affidavit, not 134701 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Respondent Arturo Loo Po is
to a complaint. Moreover, as the rule took effect only on January 1, 2013, it ORDERED TO VACATE Condominium Unit No. 205 located in Cedar Mansion
cannot be required in this case because this was earlier filed on December II on Ma. Escriba Street, Pasig City.
12, 2012. Respondent Po is further ORDERED TO PAY the rentals-in-arrears, as well as
Granting that it can be applied retroactively, the rule being essentially the rentals accruing in the interim until he vacates the property. The unpaid
remedial, still it has no bearing on the ruling of this Court. rentals shall incur a legal interest of six percent (6%) per annum from January
In the Judicial Affidavit Rule, the attachments of documentary or object 30, 2012, when the demand to pay and to vacate was made, up to the finality
evidence to the affidavits is required when there would be a pre-trial or of this decision. Thereafter, an interest of six percent (6%) per annum shall
preliminary conference or the scheduled hearing. As stated earlier, where a be imposed on the total amount due until full payment is made.
defendant fails to file an answer, the court shall render judgment, either SO ORDERED.
motu proprio or upon plaintiff’s motion, based solely on the facts alleged in
the complaint and limited to what is prayed for. Thus, where there is no G.R. No. 191458
answer, there is no need for a pre-trial, preliminary conference or hearing. CHINATRUST (PHILS.) COMMERCIAL BANK, Petitioner
Section 2 of the Judicial Affidavit Rule reads: vs.
Section 2. Submission of Judicial Affidavits and Exhibits in lieu of direct PHILIP TURNER, Respondent
testimonies. - (a) The parties shall file with the court and serve on the adverse DECISION
party, personally or by licensed courier service, not later than five days before LEONEN, J.:
pre-trial or preliminary conference or the scheduled hearing with respect to Issues that were not alleged or proved before the lower court cannot be
motions and incidents, the following: decided for the first time on appeal. This rule ensures fairness in proceedings.
(1) The judicial affidavits of their witnesses, which shall take the place of such This Petition for Review assails the Court of Appeals' (a) December 14, 2009
witnesses' direct testimonies; and Decision1 affirming the Regional Trial Court's Decision dated January 29, 2007
(2) The parties' docun1entary or object evidence, if any, which shall be and (b) its March 2, 2010 Resolution2 denying petitioner Chinatrust
attached to the judicial affidavits and marked as Exhibits A, B, C, and so on in (Philippines) Commercial Bank's (Chinatrust) Motion for Reconsideration.3
the case of the complainant or the plaintiff, and as Exhibits 1, 2, 3, and so on The Regional Trial Court set aside the Metropolitan Trial Court's dismissal4 of
in the case of the respondent or the defendant. the complaint. It ordered Chinatrust to restore to the account of respondent
(b) Should a party or a witness desire to keep the original document or object Philip Turner (Turner) the following amounts: 1) US$430 or ₱24,129.88, its
evidence in his possession, he may, after the same has been identified, peso equivalent as of September 13, 2004; and 2) US$30 or ₱l,683.48, its peso
marked as exhibit, and authenticated, warrant in his judicial affidavit that the equivalent as of September 13, 2004. It also ordered Chinatrust to pay
copy or reproduction attached to such affidavit is a faithful copy or ₱20,000.00 as moral damages, ₱l0,000.00 as exemplary damages, and
reproduction of that original. In addition, the party or witness shall bring the ₱5,000.00 as attorney's fees.
original document or object evidence for comparison during the preliminary On September 13, 2004, British national Turner initiated via Chinatrust-Ayala
conference with the attached copy, reproduction, or pictures, failing which Branch the telegraphic transfer of US$430.00 to the account of "MIN
the latter shall not be admitted. TRAVEL/ESMAT AZMY, Account No. 70946017, Citibank, Heliopolis Branch" in
Cairo, Egypt.5 The amount was partial payment to Turner's travel agent for
90
his and his wife's 11-day tour in Egypt.6 Turner paid a service fee of US$30.00. On March 7, 2005, Turner filed a Complaint20 against Chinatrust before the
Both amounts were debited from his dollar savings account with Chinatrust.7 Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City, demanding the refund of his
On the same day, Chinatrust remitted the funds through the Union Bank of telegraphic transfer of ₱24,129.88 plus damages.21
California, its paying bank, to Citibank-New York, to credit them to the bank Upon further queries, Chinatrust received another telex on September 28,
account of Min Travel/EsmatAzmy in Citibank-Cairo, Egypt.8 2005 from Citibank-Cairo confirming again and acknowledging receipt of
On September 17, 2004, Chinatrust received Citibank-Cairo's telexnotice Turner's remittance and its credit to the account of Min Travel on September
about the latter's inability to credit the funds it received because the 15, 2004.22
"beneficiary name d[id] not match their books (referred to as the 'discrepancy After the parties had submitted their respective position papers in
notice')."9 In other words, the beneficiary's name "Min Travel/Esmat Azmy" accordance with the Rules on Summary Procedure, the Metropolitan Trial
given by Turner did not match the account name on file of Citibank-Cairo.10 Court of Makati City, Branch 61 rendered a Decision23 on January 15, 2006,
Chinatrust relayed this information to Turner on September 20, 2004, "the dismissing Turner's complaint for lack of merit as well as Chinatrust's
next succeeding business day."11 counterclaim. The Metropolitan Trial Court found sufficient evidence to
Chinatrust claimed that it relayed the discrepancy to Turner and requested prove that Chinatrust complied with its contractual obligation to transmit the
him to verify from his beneficiary the correct bank account name.12 On funds to Citibank-Cairo and that these funds were actually credited to the
September 22, 2004, Turner allegedly informed Chinatrust that he was able intended beneficiary's account.24
to contact Esmat Azmy, who acknowledged receipt of the transferred funds. Turner filed an appeal. On the substantive matters, Turner argued that the
Turner, however, had to cancel his travel-tour because his wife got ill and Metropolitan Trial Court erred in ruling that he had no basis in claiming a
requested from Chinatrust the refund of his money.13 refund from Chinatrust and in not awarding him damages and attorney's
According to Chinatrust, it explained to Turner that since the funds were fees.25
already remitted to his beneficiary's account, they could no longer be Branch 137, Regional Trial Court of Makati City rendered a Decision26 on
withdrawn or retrieved without Citibank-Cairo's consent. Turner was, thus, January 29, 2007, reversing and setting aside the decision of the Metropolitan
advised to seek the refund of his payment directly from his travel agency.14 Trial Court. While it agreed with the Metropolitan Trial Court's findings that
Turner allegedly insisted on withdrawing the funds from Chinatrust the funds had been deposited to the account of the beneficiary as early as
explaining that the travel agency would forfeit fifty percent (50%) as penalty September 15, 2004, the Regional Trial Court ruled that this was not sufficient
for the cancellation of the booking, as opposed to the minimal bank fees he basis to absolve Chinatrust of any responsibility.27 The trial court found
would shoulder if he withdrew the money through Chinatrust.15 Hence, insufficient evidence to show that Chinatrust was not negligent in the
Chinatrust required Turner to secure, at least, his travel agency's written performance of its obligation under the telegraphic transfer agreement. It
certification denying receipt of the funds so that it could act on his request. held that no "discrepancy notice" from Citibank-Cairo was even presented in
However, Turner purportedly failed to submit the required certification evidence.28
despite repeated reminders.16 The Regional Trial Court further held that Chinatrust failed to render its
On October 28, 2004, Chinatrust received Citibank-Cairo's Swift telex reply, services in a manner that could have mitigated, if not prevented, the
which confirmed receipt of Chinatrust's telegraphic funds transfer and its monetary loss, emotional stress, and mental anguish that Turner suffered for
credit to the bank account of Min Travel, not "Min Travel/Esmat Azmy" as six (6) weeks while waiting for his intended beneficiary's confirmation of
indicated by the respondent, as early as September 15, 2004.17 This receipt of his money.29 Hence, Chinatrust was found liable for the monetary
information was relayed to Turner on October 29, 2004.18 loss suffered by Turner and for damages. The Decision disposed as follows:
Despite this official confirmation, Turner allegedly continued to insist on his WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the Decision of the Metropolitan
demand for a refund.19 Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 61, in Civil Case No. 87471, is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and a new one entered finding for plaintiff-
91
appellant PHILIP TURNER, and against defendant-appellee CHINA TRUST Petitioner further argues that respondent demanded for the return of his
(PHILS.) COMMERCIAL BANK CORPORATION by ordering the latter to pay, or money long after-and not immediately after-he was informed of the
restore to PHILIP TURNER's account with said Bank, the following amounts: discrepancy in the beneficiary's name. Moreover, respondent made the
(1) US $ 430.00 or ₱24,129.88, the Peso equivalent at the rate of ₱56.l160/US demand (1) only because he had changed his mind about the tour because
$1.00, as of 13 September 2004; and his wife was ill, (2) after he had personally known that his beneficiary had
(2) US $ 30.00 or ₱l,683.48, the Peso equivalent at the rate of ₱56.1160/US received the transferred funds, and (3) to avoid the 50% forfeiture penalty.44
$1.00, as of 13 September 2004. Petitioner adds that Article 1172 of the Civil Code was erroneously applied by
The defendant-appellee bank is further ordered to pay plaintiff-appellant the Court of Appeals because this provision refers to an obligor's negligence
Philip Turner ₱20,000.00 as and for moral damages; ₱10,000.00 as and for in performing the obligation. Here, the "acts of negligence" attributed to
exemplary damages; and ₱5,000.00 as and for reasonable attorney's fees. petitioner were those that transpired after it had fully performed its
SO ORDERED.30 obligation to transfer the funds.45
Chinatrust filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied by the Finally, petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred "when it unjustly
Regional Trial Court in a Resolution31 dated June 4, 2007. enriched the respondent by making the petitioner liable to refund the
On July 4, 2007, Chinatrust filed a Petition for Review32 under Rule 42 of the amount already legally transferred to, and received by respondent's
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure before the Court of Appeals. beneficiary, for his benefit."46
In its Decision33 dated December 14, 2009, the Court of Appeals dismissed the Respondent counters that the issues raised by petitioner are factual, which
petition and upheld the decision of the Regional Trial Court. Chinatrust's are not reviewable by this Court.47 He further denies that he disclosed to the
subsequent Motion for Reconsideration34 was likewise denied in the Court of petitioner that he was able to contact his travel agency, which admitted that
Appeals' Resolution35 dated March 2, 2010. it had received the funds. On the contrary, respondent avers that he
Hence, this Petition36 was filed. In compliance with this Court's directive, "demanded for the return of his money when the petitioner informed him
respondent filed his Comment,37 to which petitioner filed its Reply.38 that the funds could not be deposited to the beneficiary account."48
Petitioner stresses that based on the allegations in the Complaint, the real The issues for resolution are:
issue is "whether or not the petitioner-bank has legally complied with its First, whether the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the Regional Trial
contractual obligation with respondent in remitting his telegraphic fund to Court's Decision, granting the refund of respondent's US$430.00 telegraphic
the latter's beneficiary account with Citibank-Cairo."39 It reasons that as funds transfer despite its successful remittance and credit to respondent's
respondent has failed to prove his allegation that his telegraphic transfer beneficiary Min Travel's account with Citibank-Cairo;
funds were not received or credited to his intended beneficiary's Citibank- Second, whether petitioner Chinatrust (Philippines) Commercial Bank was
Cairo account, the Court of Appeals should have dismissed respondent's negligent in the performance of its obligation under the telegraphic transfer
complaint.40 agreement; and
Instead, the Court of Appeals adjudged petitioner liable for negligence: (1) Finally, whether the subsequent acts of petitioner after compliancewith its
when it did not immediately refund the telexed funds to respondent upon obligation can be considered "negligent" to justify the award of damages by
receipt of the discrepancy notice from Citibank-Cairo; and (2) when it did not the Regional Trial Court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
immediately relay to Citibank-Cairo respondent's demand for the I
cancellation of the transaction.41 According to petitioner, this was erroneous The Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals erred in holding that
because the Court of Appeals ruled upon matters not alleged in the complaint petitioner was negligent in failing to immediately address respondent's
or raised as an issue42 and awarded damages not prayed for in the queries and return his money and was consequently liable for the anguish
complaint.43 suffered by respondent. They ruled on an issue that was not raised by

92
respondent in the lower court, thereby violating petitioner's right to due 5. That after a few days, the plaintiff verified from the defendant whether the
process. telegraphic transfer was sent but the plaintiff was told that the fund was not
It is an established principle that "courts cannot grant a relief not prayed for applied to the intended account number and name as "THE BENE TITLE DOES
in the pleadings or in excess of what is being sought by the party."49 The NOT MATCH WITH THEIR BOOKS";
rationale for the rule was explained in Development Bank of the Philippines v. 6. That the plaintiff talked with the President of the defendant and asked
Teston,50 where this Court held that it is improper to enter an order which what was meant by that and was told that they did not succeed in sending
exceeds the scope of the relief sought by the pleadings: the telegraphic transfer to the beneficiary account[.]55
The Court of Appeals erred in ordering [Development Bank of the Philippines] Respondent further alleged:
to return to respondent "the ₱l,000,000.00" alleged down payment, a matter 10. That because of the refusal of the defendant to return the amounts given
not raised in respondent's Petition for Review before it. In Jose Clavano, Inc. by the plaintiff, the latter suffered sleepless nights, worry and anxiety because
v. Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, this Court held: of his fear that he lost the money that he entrusted to the defendant for
It is elementary that a judgment must conform to, and be supported by, both transfer to the beneficiary account for which the plaintiff should be awarded
the pleadings and the evidence, and must be in accordance with the theory moral damages on the amount of ₱20,000.00;
of the action on which the pleadings are framed and the case was tried. The 11. That the defendant was guilty of gross negligence in failing to comply with
judgment must be secudum allegata et probata. its obligation to send the telegraphic transfer to the intended beneficiary
Due process considerations justify this requirement. It is improper to enter account;
an order which exceeds the scope of relief sought by the pleadings, absent 12. That by way of example, the defendant should be ordered to pay
notice which affords the opposing party an opportunity to be heard with exemplary damages in the amount of ₱20,000.00.56 (Emphasis supplied)
respect to the proposed relief. The fundamental purpose of the requirement In both his Complaint and Position Paper,57 respondent anchored his claim for
that allegations of a complaint must provide the measure of recovery is to refund and damages on the "discrepancy notice" and the manager's
prevent surprise to the defendant.51 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted) explanation that the funds were not successfully credited to the beneficiary's
The bank's supposed negligence in the handling of respondent's concerns was account. Respondent demanded for the return of his money having the
not among respondent's causes of action and was never raised in the impression that the bank was not successful in remitting it.
Metropolitan Trial Court. Respondent's cause of action was based on the The parties' pleadings and position papers submitted before the
theory that the telexed funds transfer did not materialize, and the relief Metropolitan Trial Court raised the factual issue of whether petitioner had
sought was limited to the refund of his money and damages as a result of the complied with its obligation to remit the funds of the respondent to his
purported non-remittance of the funds to the correct beneficiary account.52 intended beneficiary's account with Citibank-Cairo. They likewise raised the
"[T]he purpose of an action ... and the law to govern it ... is to be determined legal issue of whether respondent was entitled to rescind the contract.
. . . by the complaint itself, its allegations and the prayer for relief."53 The Furthermore, during the preliminary conference, the following issues were
complaint states "the theory of a cause of action which forms the bases of defined: (a) "whether or not the amount was remitted to the correct
the plaintiff's claim of liability."54 beneficiary's account," and (b) "whether or not the parties are entitled to
A review of the Complaint filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court reveals their respective claims."58 This does not include the issue of negligence on the
that respondent originally sued upon a breach of contract consisting in the part of petitioner in attending to respondent's queries or the purported one
alleged failure of petitioner to remit the funds to his travel agency's account (1)-month delay in the confirmation of the remittance.
in Cairo-Egypt. The case was decided by the Metropolitan Trial Court pursuant to the Revised
Respondent's cause of action was based on paragraphs 5 and 6 of his Rules on Summary Procedure.59 Accordingly, no trial was conducted as, after
Complaint: the conduct of a preliminary conference, the parties were made to submit
their position papers.60 There was, thus, no opportunity to present witnesses
93
during an actual trial. However, Section 9 of the Revised Rules on Summary The Regional Trial Court also faulted the petitioner for not submitting in
Procedure calls for the submission of witnesses' affidavits together with a evidence the "discrepancy notice," which according to the trial court "puts
party's position paper after the conduct of a preliminary conference: the ... bank's position in a cloud of doubt."65
Section 9. Submission of Affidavits and Position Papers. - Within ten (10) days Contrary to the observation of the Regional Trial Court, however, the
from receipt of the order mentioned in the next preceding section, the parties discrepancy notice's existence and content were not the core of the
shall submit the affidavits of their witnesses and other evidence on the controversy. In fact, they were never put in issue. The discrepancy notice only
factual issues defined in the order, together with their position papers setting came up because it was the basis for Turner's claim for refund insisting that
forth the law and the facts relied upon by them. the funds were not credited to his travel agency's account. Hence, it is
The determination of issues at the preliminary conference bars the understandable that both parties did not present it in evidence.
consideration of other questions on appeal.61 This is because under Section 9 Similarly, the purported negligence of the bank personnel in attending to his
above, the parties were required to submit their affidavits and other evidence concerns was neither raised by respondent in any of his pleadings nor
on the factual issues as defined in the preliminary conference order. Thus, asserted as an issue in the preliminary conference. Hence, it was improper
either of the parties cannot raise a new factual issue on appeal, otherwise it for the Regional Trial Court to consider this issue on negligence in
would be unfair to the adverse party, who had no opportunity to present determining the respective claims of the parties.
evidence against it. Basic rules of fair play, justice, and due process require that arguments or
II issues not raised in the trial court may not be raised for the first time on
The Metropolitan Trial Court correctly absolved petitioner from liability and appeal.66
dismissed the complaint upon its finding that the bank had duly proven that In Philippine Ports Authority v. City of Iloilo:67
it had complied with its obligation under the telegraphic transfer. It found As a rule, a party who deliberately adopts a certain theory upon which the
that despite the earlier advice of Citibank-Cairo that the beneficiary name did case is tried and decided by the lower court will not be permitted to change
not match their files, Chinatrust and respondent Turner were subsequently theory on appeal. Points of law, theories, issues and arguments not brought
informed that the amount sent had been credited to the account of the to the attention of the lower court need not be, and ordinarily will not be,
beneficiary as early as September 15, 2004.62 considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for the first time
However, on appeal, the Regional Trial Court reversed the dismissal of the at such late stage. Basic considerations of due process underlie this rule. It
complaint. While the Regional Trial Court affirmed the court a quo's ruling would be unfair to the adverse party who would have no opportunity to
that indeed the funds were credited to the intended beneficiary's account, it present further evidence material to the new theory, which it could have
went further and touched upon an issue that was beyond the cause of action done had it been aware of it at the time of the hearing before the trial court.
framed by the respondent. It adjudged petitioner liable not because it failed To permit petitioner in this case to change its theory on appeal would thus be
to perform its obligation to remit the funds but because it purportedly did unfair to respondent, and offend the basic rules of fair play, justice and due
not exercise due diligence in attending to respondent's queries and demands process.68 (Citations omitted)
with regard to the telegraphic funds transfer. Specifically, it found petitioner There is more reason for a reviewing court to refrain from resolving motu
negligent in its failure to promptly inform respondent that the money was, in proprio an issue that was not even raised by a party. This Court has previously
fact, credited to the account of the beneficiary.63 According to the Regional declared that:
Trial Court, "it is but right that the [petitioner] bank be held liable for the "[C]ourts of justice have no jurisdiction or power to decide a question not in
monetary loss, as well as the emotional stresses and mental anguish that issue" and that a judgment going outside the issues and purporting to
[respondent] Turner had to go through as a result thereof."64 Hence, the adjudicate something upon which the parties were not heard is not merely
Regional Trial Court awarded respondent's claims for refund and damages. irregular, but extrajudicial and invalid.69 (Citations omitted)

94
As pointed out earlier, respondent's cause of action was anchored on the by his beneficiary. Despite this, he insisted on demanding the retrieval of the
alleged non-remittance of the funds to his travel agency's account or based funds after he opted not to pursue with his travel abroad.
on a breach of contract. Respondent did not specifically deny paragraphs 8 and 9 of petitioner's
On appeal, however, the Regional Trial Court motu proprio found that Answer with Counterclaims, which alleged the following:
petitioner was negligent in addressing respondent's concerns, which justified 8. However, on September 22, 2004, the Plaintiff, despite being aware that
the award of damages against it. This was unfair to petitioner who had no his foregoing remittance was already received by the beneficiary MIN
opportunity to introduce evidence to counteract this new issue. The factual TRAVEL, changed his mind, and stated that he will no longer push though with
bases of this change of theory would certainly require presentation of further his tour travel, and thus, requested for the retrieval of said funds. Defendant
evidence by the bank in order to enable it to properly meet the issue raised. relayed said request through the foregoing channel to Citibank-Cairo.
III Considering that said fund was already transferred, Citibank-Cairo refused to
The Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals erred in awarding damages honor said request, and consider the transmittal closed and accomplished;
to respondent. 9. Plaintiff, however, insisted on demanding refund of said amount from the
Petitioner was not remiss in the performance of its contractual obligation to Defendant, who politely denied such demand, and repeatedly explained to
remit the funds. It was established that the funds were credited to the the Plaintiff that Citibank-Cairo will not honor such request, and that there is
account of Min Travel on September 15, 2004, or two (2) days from nothing that the Defendant can do under the circumstances[.]74
respondent's application.70 The Affidavit of Rosario C. Astrologo (Astrologo), Branch Service Head,
Petitioner cannot likewise be faulted for the discrepancy notice sent by Chinatrust-Ayala Branch, was never rebutted by respondent by submitting his
Citibank-Cairo, assuming there was a mistake in its sending. It merely relayed counter evidence. Portions of it stated:
its contents to respondent. Citibank-Cairo is not an agent of petitioner but a 7. On September 22, 2004, when he visited our branch office, which he has
beneficiary bank designated by respondent, upon the instruction of the been doing almost everyday, he mentioned to our Ms. Rina Chua, the bank's
beneficiary, Min Travel. Senior Service Assistant, Ayala Branch, that he [was] able to contact Mr.
The Regional Trial Court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, found petitioner Esmat Azmy who already confirmed having received the said remittance;
negligent in addressing the concerns and queries of respondent. It specifically 8. When I also talked to him, also on the same date, he, stated that he
faulted petitioner for failure to submit any letters, tracers, cables, or other changed his mind and will no longer push through with his said travel because
evidence of communication sent to Citibank-Cairo to inquire about the status his wife, who is supposed to accompany him, became sick, injured, or
of the remittance and adjudged petitioner liable for the anxieties suffered by something to such effect. He also mentioned that if he will cancel his travel
respondent.71 agreement, the travel agency will only return to him fifty [percent] (50%) of
The rule that factual findings of the Court of Appeals are not reviewable by his foregoing down-payment, but if he will be able to retrieve and withdraw
this Court is subject to certain exceptions such as when there is a such remittance from the bank, he will only pay the bank charges, which is
misapprehension of facts and when the conclusions are contradicted by the minimal. He, therefore, insisted, that said fund be withdrawn and returned to
evidence on record.72 Here, there is insufficient evidence to show negligence him by the bank;
on the part of petitioner. 9. He was also told that if such fund was already received by the travel agency
The one (1 )-month delay in receiving the telex reply from Citibank-Cairo does and credited to its bank account of said travel agency at Citibank, it cannot be
not sufficiently prove petitioner's fault or negligence, especially since returned anymore, and I advised him to contact his travel agency and
"[p]etitioner's communications were coursed thru a third-party- negotiate for the refund of his entire proceeds. I do not know if he later made
correspondent bank, Union Bank of Califomia."73 such plea to his travel agency for we were not told what happened later. I
Furthermore, the lower courts overlooked the fact that respondent knew all promised, however, that we will relay his request for its retrieval of such fund
along, or as early as September 22, 2004, that his funds were already received to Citibank, which we did thru various telexes[.]75
95
The successful remittance was later confirmed by the telex-reply from bank is deemed to have fully executed the telegraphic transfer and is no
Citibank-Cairo on October 28, 2004, stating that the funds were credited to longer the owner of this telegraphic transfer order.
the account of Min Travel on September 15, 2004.76 This telex-reply confirms It is undisputed that on September 13, 2004, the funds were remitted to
that petitioner indeed made a follow up with Citibank-Cairo regarding the Citibank-New York through petitioner's paying bank, Union Bank of California.
status of respondent's funds. Citibank-New York, in turn, credited Citibank-Cairo, Egypt, Heliopolis Branch.
Moreover, the refusal of petitioner's personnel to accede to respondent's Moreover, it was established that the amount of US$430.00 was actually
demand for a refund cannot be considered an actionable wrong. Their refusal credited to the account of Min Travel on September 15, 2004,79 or merely two
was due primarily to lack of information or knowledge of the effective (2) days after respondent applied for the telegraphic transfer and even before
cancellation of the remittance and not from a deliberate intent to ignore or petitioner received its "discrepancy notice" on September 17, 2004.
disregard respondent's rights. When respondent insisted on asking for the Chinatrust is, thus, deemed to have fully executed the telegraphic transfer
refund, he was repeatedly requested to submit a certification or, at least, a agreement and its obligation to respondent was extinguished.80 Hence,
written denial from his beneficiary that the funds were not in fact received. respondent could no longer ask for rescission of the agreement' on
They cannot be faulted for wanting to verify with Citibank-Cairo the status of September 22, 2004.
the remittance before acting upon his request, especially since the funds have When the funds were credited to the account of Min Travel at Citibank-Cairo,
actually been received by Citibank-Cairo. The written denial would also be the ownership and control of these funds were transferred to Min
basis for petitioner's demand upon Citibank-Cairo. Travel.1âwphi1 Thus, the funds could not be withdrawn without its consent.
The Court of Appeals erred in ruling that petitioner had the duty to The Court of Appeals, in affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court,
immediately return the money to Turner together with the service fee upon held that petitioner was obliged to immediately return the money to
the first instance that it relayed the discrepancy notice to him. Turner could respondent as early as September 17, 2004 when it received the "discrepancy
no longer rescind the telegraphic transfer agreement. notice" from Citibank-Cairo.81 It held that petitioner's failure to do so even
In Republic of the Philippines v. Philippine National Bank,77 thisCourt upon respondent's demand constituted an actionable negligence under
described the nature of a telegraphic transfer agreement: Article 1172.82
"[C]redit" in its usual meaning is a sum credited on the books of a company The Court of Appeals misappreciated the true import of the discrepancy
to a person who appears to be entitled to it. It presupposes a creditor-debtor notice when it held that the notice was an "effective cancellation of the
relationship, and may be said to imply ability, by reason of property or remittance by the Citibank-Cairo"83 that gave rise to the legal obligation of
estates, to make a promised payment. petitioner to return the funds to respondent.
.... The discrepancy notice does not mean that the funds were not received by
[A]s the transaction is for the establishment of a telegraphic or cable transfer, the beneficiary bank. On the contrary, what it implies is that these funds were
the agreement to remit creates a contractual obligation and has been termed actually received by Citibank-Cairo but it could not apply it because the
a purchase and sale transaction (9 C.J.S. 368). The purchaser of a telegraphic account name of the beneficiary indicated in the telex instruction does not
transfer upon making payment completes the transaction insofar as he is match the account name in its books. In short, it cannot find in its file the
concerned, though insofar as the remitting bank is concerned the contract is beneficiary account name "Min Travel/Esmat Azmy" pursuant to the telex
executory until the credit is established.78 instruction, for which reason, Citibank-Cairo asked for clarifications.
Thus, once the amount represented by the telegraphic transfer order is Petitioner, in turn, had to clarify from respondent, because it was respondent
credited to the account of the payee or appears in the name of the payee in himself, upon instruction of his travel agency, who indicated such
the books of the receiving bank, the ownership of the telegraphic transfer beneficiary's name in his telegraphic transfer form. True enough, as later
order is deemed to have been transmitted to the receiving bank. The local shown, the beneficiary account name was not '"Min Travel/Esmat Azmy" but

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only "Min Travel." Petitioner, therefore, had nothing to do with the mismatch
of the beneficiary name and could not be made liable for it.
The information initially relayed by Citibank-Cairo and received by petitioner
on September 17, 2004-that the funds were not applied to the intended
account because the beneficiary name did not match its books-proved to be
no longer true. This is because Citibank-Cairo later confirmed that
respondent's remittance was duly credited to the account of Min Travel on
September 15, 2004.
As stated earlier, respondent's request for retrieval of the funds was because
he changed his mind about the travel rather than the discrepancy notice sent
by Citibank-Cairo. The Affidavit of Astrologo was never refuted.
The tour travel arrangement, which brought about the remittance of the
funds, is a separate and private arrangement between respondent and Min
Travel. Respondent's change of mind and claim for refund, therefore, should
have been properly addressed to Min Travel: which already had possession
of the funds and not to petitioner, who was not privy to the arrangement.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals' Decision dated
December 14, 2009 and Resolution dated March 2, 2010 are set aside and the
Decision dated January 15, 2006 of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 61,
Makati City is reinstated.
SO ORDERED.

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