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COURSE OF TRIAL

1. TRIAL PROPER RULE 30 Trial Section 1. Notice of Trial. Upon entry of a case in the trial calendar, the clerk shall notify the parties of the date of its trial in such manner as shall ensure his receipt of that notice at least five (5) days before such date. (2a, R22) Section 2. Adjournments and postponements. A court may adjourn a trial from day to day, and to any stated time, as the expeditious and convenient transaction of business may require, but shall have no power to adjourn a trial for a longer period than one month for each adjournment nor more than three months in all, except when authorized in writing by the Court Administrator, Supreme Court. (3a, R22) Section 3. Requisites of motion to postpone trial for absence of evidence. A motion to postpone a trial on the ground of absence of evidence can be granted only upon affidavit showing the materiality or relevancy of such evidence, and that due diligence has been used to procure it. But if the adverse party admits the facts to be given in evidence, even if he objects or reserves the right to object to their admissibility, the trial shall not be postponed. (4a, R22; Bar Matter No. 803, 21 July 1998) Section 4. Requisites of motion to postpone trial for illness of party or counsel. A motion to postpone a trial on the ground of illness of a party or counsel may be granted if it appears upon affidavit or sworn certification that the presence of such party or counsel at the trial is indispensable and that the character of his illness is such as to render his non-attendance excusable. (5a, R22) Section 5. Order of trial. Subject to the provisions of section 2 of Rule 31, and unless the court for special reasons otherwise directs, the trial shall be limited to the issues stated in the pretrial order and shall proceed as follows: (a) The plaintiff shall adduce evidence in support of his complaint; (b) The defendant shall then adduce evidence in support of his defense, counterclaim, cross-claim and third-party complaints; (c) The third-party defendant if any, shall adduce evidence of his defense, counterclaim, cross-claim and fourth-party complaint;

(d) The fourth-party, and so forth, if any, shall adduce evidence of the material facts pleaded by them; (e) The parties against whom any counterclaim or cross-claim has been pleaded, shall adduce evidence in support of their defense, in the order to be prescribed by the court; (f) The parties may then respectively adduce rebutting evidence only, unless the court, for good reasons and in the furtherance of justice, permits them to adduce evidence upon their original case; and (g) Upon admission of the evidence, the case shall be deemed submitted for decision, unless the court directs the parties to argue or to submit their respective memoranda or any further pleadings. If several defendants or third-party defendants, and so forth, having separate defenses appear by different counsel, the court shall determine the relative order of presentation of their evidence. (1a, R30) Section 6. Agreed statement of facts. The parties to any action may agree, in writing, upon the facts involved in the litigation, and submit the case for judgment on the facts agreed upon, without the introduction of evidence. If the parties agree only on some of the facts in issue, the trial shall be held as to the disputed facts in such order as the court shall prescribe. (2a, R30) Section 7. Statement of judge. During the hearing or trial of a case any statement made by the judge with reference to the case, or to any of the parties, witnesses or counsel, shall be made of record in the stenographic notes. (3a, R30) Section 8. Suspension of actions. The suspension of actions shall be governed by the provisions of the Civil Code. (n) Section 9. Judge to receive evidence; delegation to clerk of court. The judge of the court where the case is pending shall personally receive the evidence to be adduced by the parties. However, in default or ex parte hearings, and in any case where the parties agree in writing, the court may delegate the reception of evidence to its clerk of court who is a member of the bar. The clerk of court shall have no power to rule on objections to any question or to the admission of exhibits, which objections shall be resolved by the court upon submission of his report and the transcripts within ten (10) days from termination of the hearing. (n) CIRCULAR NO. 39-98. Full text of BAR MATTER NO. 803 CIRCULAR NO. 39-98

TO: THE COURT OF APPEALS, SANDIGANBAYAN, COURT OF TAX APPEALS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS, SHARI'AH DISTRICT COURTS, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS IN CITIES, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS AND SHARI'AH CIRCUIT COURTS.

SUBJECT: BAR MATTER NO. 803 - RE: CORRECTION OF CLERICAL ERRORS IN AND ADOPTION OF AMENDMENTS TO THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.

For the information and guidance of all concerned, quoted hereunder is the Resolution of the Court En Banc dated July 21, 1998 in Re: Correction of clerical errors in and adoption of amendments to the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, to wit:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary "Bar Matter No. 803 - Re: Correction of clerical errors in and adoption of amendments to the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which were approved on April 8, 1997 effective July 1, 1997. - The Court Resolved to CORRECT the following provisions in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure: (a) Section 3 of Rule 30; and (b) Section 5 of Rule 71, to read as follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary RULE 30

SEC. 3. Requisites of motion to postpone trial for absence of evidence. - A motion to postpone a trial on the ground of absence of evidence can be granted only upon affidavit showing the materiality or relevancy of such evidence, and that due diligence has been used to procure it. But if the adverse party admits the facts to be given in evidence, even if he objects or reserves the right to object to their admissibility, the trial shall not be postponed. (4a, R22)

RULE 71

SEC. 5. Where charge to be filed. - Where the charge for indirect contempt has been committed against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank, or against an officer appointed by it, the charge may be filed with such court. Where such contempt has been committed against a lower court, the charge may be filed with the Regional Trial Court of the
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place in which the lower court is sitting; but the proceedings may also be instituted in such lower court subject to appeal to the Regional Trial Court of such place in the same manner as provided in Section 11 of this Rule. (4a)

The Court further Resolved to AMEND the following provisions in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure: (a) Section 3 of Rule of Civil Procedure: (a) Section 3 Rule 46; and (b) Section 4 of Rule 65, to read as follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

RULE 46

SEC. 3. Contents and filing of petition; effect of non-compliance with requirements.- The petition shall contain the full names and actual addresses of all the petitioners and respondents, a concise statement of the matters involved and the factual background of the case, and the grounds relied upon for the relief prayed for.

In actions filed under Rule 65, the petition shall further indicate the material dates showing when notice of the judgment or final order or resolution subject thereof was received, when a motion for new trial or reconsideration, if any, was filed and when notice of the denial thereof was received.

It shall be filed in seven (7) clearly legible copies together wih proof of service thereof on the respondent with the original copy intended for the court indicated as such by the petitioner, and shall be accompanied by a clearly legible duplicate original or certified true copy of the judgment, order, resolution, or ruling subject thereof, such material portions of the record as are referred to therein, and other documents relevant or pertinent thereto. The certification shall be accomplished by the proper clerk of court or by his duly authorized representative, or by the proper officer of the court, tribunal, agency or office involved or by his duly authorized representative. The other requisite number of copies of the petition shall be accompanied by clearly legible, plain copies of all documents attached to the original.

The petitioner shall also submit together with the petition, a sworn certification that he has not theretofore commenced any other action involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals or different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency; if there is such other action or proceeding, he must state the status of the same; and if he should thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to promptly inform the aforesaid courts and other tribunal or agency thereof within five (5) days therefrom.

The petitioner shall pay the corresponding docket and other lawful fees to the clerk of court and deposit the amount of P500.00 for costs at the time of the filing of the petition.

The failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the foregoing requirements shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal of the petition.(n) RULE 65

SEC 4. Where and when petition to be filed. - The petition may be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution sought to be assailed in the Supreme Court or, if it relates to the acts or omission of a lower court or of a corporation, board, officer or person, in the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territorial area as defined by the Supreme Court. It may also be filed in the Court of Appeals whether or not the same is in aid of its appellate jurisdiction, or in the Sandiganbayan if it is in aid of its jurisdiction. If it involves the acts or omissions of a quasi-judicial agency, and unless otherwise provided by law or the Rules, the petition shall be filed in and cognizable only by the Court of Appeals.

If the petitioner had filed a motion for new trial or reconsideration in due time after notice of said judgment, order or resolution, the period herein fixed shall be interrupted. If the motion is denied, the aggrieved party may file the petition within the remaining period, but which shall not be less than five (5) days in any event, reckoned from notice of such denial. No extension of time to file the petition shall be granted except for the most compelling reason and in no case to exceed fifteen (15) days. (4a)

The foregoing amendents to Section 3 of Rule 46 and Section 4 of Rule 65, after due publication in two (2) newspapers of general circulation, shall take effect on September 1, 1998."

The amendments appeared on the July 26, 1998 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Standard and Manila Bulletin.

August 19, 1998.

CIRCULAR NO. 1-89. CIRCULAR NO. 1-89

TO: COURT OF APPEALS, SANDIGANBAYAN, COURT OF TAX APPEALS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS, SHARIA DISTRICT TRIAL COURTS AND SHARIA CIRCUIT COURTS, ALL MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT PROSECUTION SERVICE AND ALL MEMBERS OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES

SUBJECT: GUIDELINES TO BE OBSERVED BY DESIGNATED BRANCHES OF THE TRIAL COURTS IN THE CONDUCT OF MANDATORY CONTINUOUS TRIAL.

A pilot project to test the efficacy of continuous trial was established under Administrative Circular No. 4 dated September 22, 1988. Under Administrative Order No. 135 dated December 21, 1988, the Court designated the branches of trial courts that shall participate in the pilot project for mandatory continuous trial.cralaw

The continuous trial system envisioned under Administrative Circular No. 4 is a mode of judicial fact-finding and adjudication conducted with speed and dispatch so that trials are held on the scheduled dates without needless postponement, the factual issues for trial, well defined at pre-trial and the whole proceedings terminated and ready for judgment within ninety [90] days
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from the date of initial hearing, unless for meritorious reasons, an extension is permitted, as hereinafter provided for.cralaw

The system requires that the Presiding Judge should (a) adhere faithfully to the session hours prescribed by law; (b) maintain full control of the proceedings; and (c) efficiently allocate and use time and court resources to avoid court delays.cralaw

Considering the provisions of Section 12, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution, mandating the adoption of a systematic plan to expedite the decision or resolution of cases in the trial courts and complementing further the Courts Resolution of April 7, 1988 implementing Administrative Circular No. 1 of January 28, 1988, the Supreme Court, effective February 1, 1989, hereby establishes the following guidelines to be observed by designated branches of the trial courts in the conduct of mandatory continuous trial under Administrative Order No. 135:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

I. Pre-Trial

A. Civil Cases [1] The parties shall submit at least three (3) days before the conference pre-trial briefs containing the following:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

(a) Brief statement of the parties respective claims and defenses;

(b) The number of witnesses to be presented;

(c) An abstract of the testimonies of witnesses to be presented by the parties, and the approximate number of hours that will be required by them for the presentation of their respective evidence;

(d) Copies of all documents intended to be presented;

(e) Admissions;

(f) Applicable laws and jurisprudence;

(g) The parties respective statements of the issues; and

(h) The available trial dates of counsel for complete evidence presentation, which must be within a period of three months from the first day of trial.

[2] At the pre-trial conference:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (a) The Judge, with all tact and patience, shall endeavor to persuade the parties to arrive at a settlement of the dispute, or agree to stipulation of facts including the authenticity of documents to be submitted during the trial.

(b) The Judge shall then define the factual issues arising from the pleadings and endeavor to narrow them down to material issues.cralaw

(c) If only legal issues are presented, the Judge shall require the parties to submit their respective memoranda on the issues and shall render judgment thereon.cralaw

(d) If a trial is to be conducted, the Judge shall fix the necessary trial dates to complete presentation of evidence by both parties within 90 days from initial hearing.cralaw [3] The pre-trial order shall include the following:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (a) A statement of the nature of the case;

(b) The stipulations or admissions of the parties, including testimonial and documentary evidence;

(c) The issues involved: [1] factual; and [2] legal;

(d) Number of witnesses;

(e) The dates of trial.cralaw [4] This is without prejudice to a finding that either judgment on pleadings or summary judgment is appropriate.

[5] Failure to file pre-trial briefs may be given the same effect as the failure to appear at the pre-trial. B. Criminal Cases [1] The private offended party shall be required to appear at the arraignment for purposes of plea-bargaining, determination of civil liability or other matters requiring his presence.

[2] Where the accused and counsel agree to a pre-trial, the pre-trial shall proceed in accordance with Rule 118.cralaw

[3] If the accused does not agree to a pre-trial, the Court shall fix the trial dates for the presentation of evidence by the parties. The trial fiscal, the accused, and counsel shall affix their signatures in the minutes to signify their availability on the scheduled dates set for reception of evidence.cralaw II. TRIAL (Civil, Criminal) [1] Not more than three (3) cases shall be scheduled for daily trial.
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[2] The Presiding Judge shall make arrangements with the Prosecutor and the CLAO Attorney so that a relief Prosecutor and CLAO Attorney are always available in case the regular Prosecutor and CLAO Attorney are absent.cralaw

[3] Likewise, contingency measures must be taken for any unexpected absence of a stenographer and other support staff assisting in the trial.cralaw

[4] The issuance and service of subpoenas shall be done in accordance with Administrative Circular No. 4 dated September 22, 1988.cralaw

[5] A strict policy on postponements shall be observed.cralaw

[6] The Judge shall conduct the trial with utmost dispatch, with judicious exercise of the Courts power to control the trial to avoid delay.cralaw

[7] The trial shall be terminated within ninety (90) days from initial hearing. Appropriate disciplinary sanctions may be imposed on the Judge and the lawyers for failure to comply with this requirement due to causes attributable to them.cralaw

[8] Each party is bound to complete the presentation of his evidence within the trial dates assigned to him. After the lapse of said dates, the party is deemed to have completed his evidence presentation. However, upon verified motion based on serious reasons, the judge may allow a party additional trial dates in the afternoon: Provided, That said extension will not go beyond the three-month limit computed from the first trial date.cralaw

[9] Copies of all judgments rendered by the designated courts shall be furnished the Office of the Court Administrator within five (5) days from rendition.cralaw January 19, 1989.
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Regalado: Does a motion to postpone a trial due to illness require a medical certificate? A mere medical certificate is generally insufficient. It must be under oath, or in the form of an affidavit. When can a civil action or proceeding be suspended? Under Article 2030 of the Civil Code, every civil action or proceeding shall be suspended: 1. if willingness to discuss a possible compromise is expressed by one or both parties. 2. if it appears that one of the parties, before the commencement of the action or proceeding, offered to discuss a possible compromise but the other party refused the offer. The duration and terms of suspension of the civil action or proceeding and similar matters shall be governed by such provisions of the ROC as the SC shall promulgate. Said ROC shall likewise provide for the appointment and duties of amicable compounders. What are the requisites for delegation of reception of evidence to the clerk of court? 1. The delegation may be made only in default or ex parte hearings, or on agreement in writing by the parties. 2. The reception of evidence shall be made only by the clerk of court who is a member of the bar. 3. Said clerk shall have no power to rule on objections to any question or to the admission of evidence or exhibits 4. He shall submit his report and transcripts of the proceedings, together with the objections to be resolved by the court, within ten days from the termination of the hearing. Bautista Notes: What are the grounds for postponing a trial upon motion of the party? 1. absence of evidence 2. illness of the party or counsel Is impending death a ground for postponing trial? On a case to case basis. Can the court require the plaintiff to present witnesses first, on direct testimony, before anyone of them is cross-examined? Yes. Because it is still within the rule that the plaintiff presents his evidence first in the form of testimony. Can a judge in a civil case direct that a party present all the direct testimony of all his witnesses in the form of affidavits subject to cross examination? It depends on the character of the proceeding. In case of summary proceedings, testimony by affidavits and counter- affidavits are allowed. (Rule 9 of the Revised Rules of Summary Procedure) But in non-summary proceedings, it is not allowed.

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2. KINDS OF TRIAL A. CONSOLIDATED/SEPARATE RULE 31 Consolidation or Severance Section 1. Consolidation. When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated, and it may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay. (1) Section 2. Separate trials. The court, in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice, may order a separate trial of any claim, cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party complaint, or of any separate issue or of any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-party complaints or issues. (2a) Regalado Notes: What is the rationale for consolidation or joint hearing? 1. to avoid multiplicity of suits 2. to guard against oppression or abuse 3. to prevent delay 4. to clear congested dockets 5. to simplify the work of the trial court 6. to save unnecessary costs and expenses In short, consolidation seeks to attain justice with the least expense and vexation to the litigants. (Palanca v. Querubin, 29 Nov. 1969) Is consolidation limited to cases pending before the same court? Generally, the rule on consolidation of cases applies only to cases pending before the same judge, not to cases pending in different branches of the same court or in different courts. (PAL v. Teodora, 97 Phil. 461) But Regalado is of the opinion that, whenever appropriate, and in the interest of justice, consolidation of cases in different branches of the same court or in different courts can be affected. Consolidation of cases on appeal and assigned to different divisions of the SC or CA is also authorized, and generally the case which was appealed and bearing the higher docket number is consolidated with the case having the lower docket number. (But Regalado gives no legal basis for this.) What are the ways of consolidating a case? 1. by recasting the cases already instituted, conducting only one hearing and rendering only one decision. 2. by consolidating the existing cases and holding only one hearing and rendering only one decision.
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3. by hearing only the principal case and suspending the hearing on the others until judgment has been rendered in the principal case. (Salazar v. CFI Laguna, 64 Phil. 785) Can the SC order the consolidation of cases involving the same parties and same issues where one was filed in RTC-QC and RTC-Cavite? Yes. On considerations of judicial economy and for the convenience of parties, the SC can also order the consolidation of cases involving substantially the same parties and issues but which have been filed in different courts of equal jurisdiction. (Superlines Transco., v. Victor, 30 Sept. 1983) Can the RTC QC order separation of trial of claims, where one of the claims involves property in Hong Kong? Yes. The provision permitting separate trials presupposes that the claims involved are within the jurisdiction of the court. When one of the claims is not within its jurisdiction, the same should be dismissed, so that it may be filed in the proper court.

SECOND DIVISION G.R. Nos. 138701-02 : October 17, 2006 SPOUSES ROQUE YU, SR. and ASUNCION YU and LEYTE LUMBER YARD & HARDWARE CO., INC., Petitioners, v. BASILIO G. MAGNO CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT ENTERPRISES, INC. and THE ESTATE OF BASILIO G. MAGNO, Respondents.

DECISION

GARCIA, SR., J.: In this petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the spouses Roque Yu, Sr. and Asuncion Yu, with co-petitioner Leyte Lumber Yard & Hardware, Co., Inc., (Leyte Lumber) assail and seek to set aside the consolidated Decision1 dated October 20, 1998 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV Nos. 43714 and 43715, as reiterated in its Resolution2 of May 11, 1999, denying the petitioners' motion for reconsideration. CA-G.R. CV No. 43714 is an appeal by the spouses Roque Yu, Sr. and Asuncion Yu from the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tacloban City in its Civil Case No. 5823, while CA-G.R. CV No. 43715 is an appeal taken by Leyte Lumber Yard from the decision of the same RTC in its Civil Case No. 5822. The assailed CA decision holds petitioner Leyte Lumber liable to the herein respondents in Civil Case No. 5822 for the amount of P631,235.61 with interest, and, on the same breath, holds the

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respondents liable to petitioner spouses Roque Yu, Sr. and Asuncion Yu in Civil Case No. 5823 in the amount of P625,000.00 with interest, and P50,000.00 as and by way of attorney's fees. The facts:
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The spouses Roque Yu, Sr. and Asuncion Yu are the controlling stockholders of Leyte Lumber, a business enterprise engaged in the sale of lumber, building and electrical supplies and other construction materials. During his lifetime, Engr. Basilio G. Magno (Magno) entered into a verbal agreement with Leyte Lumber through Roque Yu, Sr., whereby the latter agreed to supply Magno with building materials he may need in his construction business. The success of Magno's business gave birth to the Basilio G. Magno Construction and Development Enterprises, Inc. (BG Magno). Owing to this fruitful relationship, the two (Roque Yu, Sr. and Magno) entered into a joint venture, the Great Pacific Construction Company (GREPAC), with Yu as President and Magno as Vice President.3
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Magno, for what he obtained from Leyte Lumber, paid either in cash or by check. The relationship between Yu and Magno began in 1975 and continued until Magno's death on August 21, 1978.4
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By the time the business relationship between Yu and Magno was coming to an end, the respondents allege that the parties have dealt with each other to the amount of at least P7,068,000.00.5
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On January 30, 1979, in the RTC of Tacloban City, the petitioners instituted two (2) separate complaints for sums of money with damages and preliminary attachment against the Respondents. One was Civil Case No. 5822,6 raffled to Branch 8 of the court, instituted by Leyte Lumber against BG Magno and the Estate of Basilio Magno, to collect on the principal amount of P1,270,134.87 for construction materials claimed to have been obtained on credit by BG Magno, and the other was Civil Case No. 5823,7 raffled to Branch 6, filed by the Yu spouses against BG Magno and the Estate of Basilio Magno, to collect upon loans and advances (P3,575,000.00) allegedly made by the spouses to BG Magno. As defendants in Civil Case No. 5823, the respondents moved to dismiss the case on the ground that the claims must be pursued against the estate of the deceased Magno. The motion was denied, and eventually the estate of Magno was dropped as party-defendant. On the other hand, in Civil Case No. 5822, during the pretrial conference, the petitioners, as plaintiffs in that case, proposed that a commissioner be appointed. The respondents as defendants in the case interposed no objections, and so Atty. Romulo Tiu was appointed and tasked with the duty to examine and make a detailed report on the documents and books of account of the parties to determine the nature and extent of their respective claims and liabilities.8 Atty. Tiu was later replaced by Mr. Uldarico Quintana, and finally by Mr. Ernesto C. Silvano, who is a lawyer and an accountant9 by profession.

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The commissioner prepared a summary of account receivables10 and submitted three reports: the first, dated November 1, 1980; the second, dated February 19, 1981; and the third, dated March 29, 1982.11 To these reports the parties submitted their respective comments and objections. During trial, the petitioners presented in Civil Case No. 5822 before Branch 8 three witnesses, namely: petitioner Roque Yu, Sr., himself, Atty. Ernesto C. Silvano (the commissioner) and Yao Ping Chan, cashier of Consolidated Bank and Trust Co., who testified merely on the circumstances surrounding specific checks that were issued during the course of the transactions between the parties. For their part, the respondents offered two witnesses: the widow Perpetua Magno and commissioner Silvano. As regards Civil Case No. 5823 before Branch 6, the petitioners presented three witnesses: Roque Yu, Sr., Roque Yu, Jr., and senior bookkeeper Eduardo de Veyra of the Tacloban Branch of the United Coconut Planters Bank. For their part, the respondents did not present a single witness, but adopted their evidence presented in Civil Case No. 5822. They did not, however, make a formal offer of their evidence in both cases. On June 17, 1993, Branch 8 of the court rendered its decision12 in Civil Case No. 5822, the decretal portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff: 1. Dismissing the complaint; 2. Declaring that defendant had made overpayment to the plaintiff in the sum of P620,239.61; 3. Ordering the plaintiff to return to the defendant the amount of P620,239.61 with interest of 12% per annum from the date hereof until fully paid; 4. Ordering the plaintiff to pay defendant the sum of P200,000.00 for exemplary damages; 5. Ordering the plaintiff to pay defendant the sum of P50,000.00 for attorney's fees and litigation expenses; and 6. Ordering plaintiff to pay the costs of this suit. SO ORDERED. Also, on the same date - June 17, 1993 - Branch 6 rendered its decision13 in Civil Case No. 5823, the fallo of which reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiffs: 1. Dismissing the plaintiffs' complaint;

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2. Declaring that defendant had made overpayments to the plaintiffs in the sum of P1,602,625.52; 3. Ordering plaintiffs to return to defendant the sum of P1,602,625.52 with 12% interest per annum from the date hereof until fully paid; 4. The Writ of Attachment is hereby ordered immediately dissolved; 5. Ordering the plaintiffs to pay defendant the sum of P200,000.00 moral and exemplary damages; 6. Ordering the plaintiffs to pay defendant P100,000.00 attorney's fees and litigation expenses; 7. Ordering plaintiffs to pay the costs of this suit. SO ORDERED. The two separate decisions of even date were penned by Judge Getulio M. Francisco, the presiding judge of Branch 6 to which only Civil Case No. 5823 was raffled. In other words, Judge Francisco of Branch 6 rendered the decision in Civil Case No. 5822 earlier raffled to and heard by Branch 8 of which he was not the presiding judge. The parties did not move for a reconsideration of the two decisions nor did they call the attention of Judge Francisco on the absence of an order for consolidation of the two cases. Instead, they directly interposed their respective appeals to the CA. In the CA, the two cases on appeal, docketed as CA-G.R. CV Nos. 43714 (for Civil Case No. 5823) and 4371514 (for Civil Case No. 5822), were consolidated. On October 20, 1998, the CA rendered its questioned consolidated decision15 dispositively reading, thus: WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
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In Civil Case No. 5822, the appealed decision is MODIFIED by declaring that defendant B.G. Magno Construction and Development Enterprises, Inc., made an overpayment in the amount of P631,235.61, instead of P620,239.61 as found by the court a quo, and ordering plaintiff to return said amount to defendant, with interest of 12% per annum from promulgation hereof until fully paid, and by DELETING the award of exemplary damages in the sum of P200,000.00 in favor of defendant. Thus modified, the judgment below is AFFIRMED in all other respects. In Civil Case No. 5823, the appealed decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, defendant B.G. Magno Construction and Development Enterprises, Inc. is ordered to pay plaintiffs the sum of P625,000.00, with 12% interest per annum from promulgation hereof until fully paid, and the further sum of P50,000.00 by way of attorney's fees, plus costs of suit. SO ORDERED.
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With their motion for reconsideration having been denied by the CA through its Resolution of May 11, 1999, the petitioners are now with this Court via the present recourse, submitting the following arguments for our consideration: A. Re: C.A.-G.R. CV No. 43714: (Civil Case No. 5823) 1. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR IN REFUSING TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OFFERED TO RTC BRANCH 8, BUT NOT TO BRANCH 6, OF WHICH EVIDENCE RTC BRANCH 6 IMPROPERLY TOOK JUDICIAL NOTICE. 2. ASSUMING FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT THAT RTC BRANCH 6 COULD TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE OF EVIDENCE NOT OFFERED TO IT, NONETHELESS, SUCH EVIDENCE SHOW THAT RESPONDENT B.G. MAGNO IS LIABLE TO PETITIONERS FOR P3,675,000.00. B. Re: C.A.-G.R. CV No. 43715: (Civil Case No. 5822) 1. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF RTC BRANCH 6 BECAUSE THE LATTER HAD NO JURISDICTION OVER CIVIL CASE NO. 5822 WHICH WAS TRIED IN ITS ENTIRETY BY RTC BRANCH 8. 2. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF RTC BRANCH 6 BECAUSE BASED ON EVIDENCE PRESENTED TO RTC BRANCH 8, NO COURT COULD HAVE DECIDED IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENTS. In sum, the petitioners question, first, the propriety of the presiding judge of Branch 6 rendering a decision in a case filed and heard in Branch 8. They claim that Branch 6 had no jurisdiction to decide Civil Case No. 5822 pending in Branch 8 in the absence of a motion or order of consolidation of the two cases; second, Branch 6 erred in considering the evidence presented in Branch 8; and third, the preponderance of evidence in both cases warrants a resolution of the cases in their favor. The respondents, on the other hand, hold steadfast to the CA's finding of overpayment on their part, and that Branch 6 had jurisdiction to render a decision in Civil Case No. 5822 of Branch 8 since the circumstance that the judge who penned the decision in both cases did not hear the other case in its entirety is not a compelling reason to jettison his findings and conclusions.16 On the issue of Branch 6 taking judicial notice of the evidence presented in Branch 8, the respondents argue that there was a previous agreement of the parties with respect to the same. On the question of the propriety of Judge Francisco of Branch 6 formulating the decision in Civil Case No. 5822 which was pending and tried in Branch 8, we declare that there was nothing irregular in the procedure taken. The records show that there appears to have been a previous agreement to either transfer or consolidate the two cases for decision by the presiding judge of Branch 6. As found by the CA:

chanroblesvirtuallawlibary

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.although Civil Case No. 5822 was raffled to and tried in Branch 8., the court a quo issued joint orders dated February 16, 1993 and September 10, 1993 in Civil Case Nos. 5822 and 5823.Recognizing the apparent transfer of Civil Case No. 5822 to the court a quo, appellants' [petitioners'] counsel filed his formal appearance dated October 20, 1993 with Branch 6.There is therefore no basis to appellants' contention that the court a quo is devoid of authority to decide Civil Case No. 5822.17
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Indeed, when the respondents filed a Motion to Lift, Dissolve and Quash the Writs of Attachment with Branch 6 on January 20, 1993, the caption thereof indicated the docket numbers of both cases.18 Likewise, on October 29, 1993, when the petitioners' new counsel entered his Formal Appearance, in the caption thereof was also written the docket numbers of both cases.19 Petitioners' previous counsel of longstanding (whose representation dates back to the filing of the two complaints in 1979) filed his Motion to Withdraw as Counsel on October 30, 1993, and the caption thereof similarly indicated the docket numbers of both cases.20 Subsequent orders of the court which emanated from Branch 6 also bear, in the caption thereof, the titles and docket numbers of both cases.21 In other words, as early as six months prior to the promulgation of Judge Francisco's decisions in the two (2) cases, there appears to have been a transfer or consolidation of said cases in Branch 6 and the parties knew of it, albeit the actual date when the two cases were consolidated or transferred does not appear on record. Nonetheless, the fact remains that no opposition or objection in any manner was registered by either of the parties to the same, thereby evincing their consent thereto. It is, therefore, already too late in the day for the petitioners to question the competence of Judge Francisco to render the separate decisions in the two cases. To reecho what this Court has said before: Petitioners may not now question the transfer or consolidation of the two cases on appeal, for they knew of it and did not question the same in the court below. They may not now make a total turn-around and adopt a contrary stance; more so when the judgment issued is adverse to their cause.22 The next logical questions are: Is the consolidation of the two cases (Civil Case Nos. 5822 and 5823) a procedural step which the court a quo could have properly taken? Is it a remedy available within the context of the surrounding circumstances?
cralaw

We answer both questions in the affirmative. The two cases were filed just a few months apart;23 they involve simple cases of collection of sums of money between identical parties and no other; the respondents (as defendants therein) claim, in both cases, essentially the same defense, which is overpayment; they cover the same period of transacting continuous business that spans four years; they relate to simple issues of fact that are intimately related to each other; they entailed the presentation of practically identical evidence and witnesses; in fact, a broad part of the evidence and testimonies in one case was totally adopted or reproduced in the other by either or both parties. And the trial court, being multi-sala courts, its Branches 6 and 8 possessed jurisdiction to try either or both cases on their own. A court may order several actions pending before it to be tried together where they arise from the same act, event or transaction, involve the same or like issues, and depend largely or
18

substantially on the same evidence, provided that the court has jurisdiction over the case to be consolidated and that a joint trial will not give one party an undue advantage or prejudice the substantial rights of any of the parties (citing 1 CJS, 1347). Consolidation of actions is expressly authorized under Section 1, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court: "Section 1. Consolidation. - When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated; and it may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay." The obvious purpose of the above rule is to avoid multiplicity of suits, to guard against oppression and abuse, to prevent delays, to clear congested dockets, to simplify the work of the trial court; in short the attainment of justice with the least expense and vexation to the parties litigants (citing 1 CJS 1342-1343). Consolidation of actions is addressed to the sound discretion of the court, and its action in consolidating will not be disturbed in the absence of manifest abuse of discretion. In the instant case, respondent judge did not abuse his discretion in ordering the joint trial of the two cases. There is no showing that such joint trial would prejudice any substantial right of petitioner. Neither does the latter question the court's jurisdiction to try and decide the two cases.24 Likewise, it became apparent that, after the commissioner filed his reports in court and the parties their comments thereto, but before trial could commence, the claims and defenses of the parties in Civil Case No. 5823 are covered by and may be threshed out by a consideration of the evidence presented in Civil Case No. 5822 as well, which consisted mainly of the reports of the commissioner. Based on the commissioner's reports in the case pending in Branch 8 (Civil Case No. 5822), the petitioners' claims, including those in Branch 6, appear to have been paid; indeed, this is in essence the defense of the respondents as set forth in their Answers to the two complaints. Yet, despite all these, neither of the lawyers for the parties sought a consolidation of the two cases, which would otherwise have been mandatory. When two or more cases involve the same parties and affect closely related subject matters, they must be consolidated and jointly tried, in order to serve the best interests of the parties and to settle expeditiously the issues involved. Consolidation, when appropriate, also contributes to the declogging of court dockets. Inasmuch as the binding force of the Dealership Agreement was put in question, it would be more practical and convenient to submit to the Iloilo court all the incidents and their consequences. The issues in both civil cases pertain to the respective obligations of the same parties under the Dealership Agreement. Thus, every transaction as well as liability arising from it must be resolved in the judicial forum where it is put in issue. The consolidation of the two cases then becomes imperative to a complete, comprehensive and consistent determination of all these related issues. Two cases involving the same parties and affecting closely related subject matters must be ordered consolidated and jointly tried in court, where the earlier case was filed. The
19

consolidation of cases is proper when they involve the resolution of common questions of law or facts. Indeed, upon the consolidation of the cases, the interests of both parties in the two civil cases will best be served and the issues involved therein expeditiously settled. After all, there is no question on the propriety of the venue in the Iloilo case.25 (Emphasis supplied) Consolidation of cases, when proper, results in the simplification of proceedings, which saves time, the resources of the parties and the courts, and a possible major abbreviation of trial. It is a desirable end to be achieved, within the context of the present state of affairs where court dockets are full and individual and state finances are limited. It contributes to the swift dispensation of justice, and is in accord with the aim of affording the parties a just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of their cases before the courts. Another compelling argument that weighs heavily in favor of consolidation is the avoidance of the possibility of conflicting decisions being rendered by the courts in two or more cases which would otherwise require a single judgment.26
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In fine, we declare the consolidation of the two cases to have been made with regularity. To quote what the Court has said in an earlier case: The ordered consolidation of cases, to our mind, crystallizes into reality the thinking of our predecessors that: ". . . The whole purpose and object of procedure is to make the powers of the court fully and completely available for justice. The most perfect procedure that can be devised is that which gives opportunity for the most complete and perfect exercise of the powers of the court within the limitations set by natural justice. It is that one which, in other words, gives the most perfect opportunity for the powers of the court to transmute themselves into concrete acts of justice between the parties before it. The purpose of such a procedure is not to restrict the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter, but to give it effective facility in righteous action. It may be said in passing that the most salient objection which can be urged against procedure today is that it so restricts the exercise of the court's powers by technicalities that part of its authority effective for justice between the parties is many times an inconsiderable portion of the whole. The purpose of procedure is not to thwart justice. Its proper aim is to facilitate the application of justice to the rival claims of contending parties. It was created not to hinder and delay but to facilitate and promote the administration of justice. It does not constitute the thing itself which courts are always striving to secure to litigants. It is designed as the means best adapted to obtain that thing. In other words, it is a means to an end. It is the means by which the powers of the court are made effective in just judgments. When it loses the character of the one and takes on that of the other the administration of justice becomes incomplete and unsatisfactory and lays itself open to grave criticism."27 Having given their assent to the consolidation of Civil Case Nos. 5822 and 5823, petitioners' other assignment of errors must fail. The evidence in each case effectively became the evidence for both, and there ceased to exist any need for the deciding judge to take judicial notice of the evidence presented in each case.
20

On the issue relative to the pecuniary liabilities of the parties in respect of their corresponding claims and defenses, suffice it to state that this Court is not a trier of facts. The findings of fact of the CA, supported as they are by the evidence on record, bind this Court. Prefatorily, we restate the time-honored principle that in petitions for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, only questions of law may be raised. It is not our function to analyze or weigh all over again evidence already considered in the proceedings below, our jurisdiction being limited to reviewing only errors of law that may have been committed by the lower court. The resolution of factual issues is the function of lower courts, whose findings on these matters are received with respect. A question of law which we may pass upon must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants.28 We disagree, however, with the CA in holding the petitioners liable to the respondents in the amount of P142,817.27 representing the unpaid account of GREPAC for filling materials delivered to it by BG Magno. As it is, GREPAC possesses a distinct corporate personality separate from Leyte Lumber whom BG Magno sought to be liable therefor. GREPAC's own liabilities may not be made chargeable against petitioner Leyte Lumber as the CA ruled after piercing the corporate veil of GREPAC. To our mind, the situation does not call for a piercing of GREPAC's corporate veil since there is no clear and convincing evidence showing fraud and illegality in the formation and operation of GREPAC. Quite the contrary, what has been proved suggests that GREPAC was a product of the close business and personal ties that bound Roque Yu, Sr., and Magno during better times. It was a bona fide joint venture between the two. We cannot help but discern how the respondents were put to expense by the petitioners' mishandling of the cases in the trial courts. First of all is the petitioners' filing of two (2) separate actions of simple collection cases which were ultimately found to revolve essentially around the same factual milieu. And, as soon as it became apparent that the two cases were inexorably linked, it became the duty of the petitioners to seek a consolidation of the cases a quo. Yet they did not; instead, they took advantage of every perceived technicality, all the way to this Court, in order to defeat the respondents' case. They vigorously opposed the adoption by the respondents of the latter's evidence in the other branch of the court, thereby advancing misleading arguments for consolidation that had already occurred with their visible consent. They attribute error to the trial court's "taking judicial notice" of the respondents' evidence in the other court, when it no longer was a proper argument in view of the resultant consolidation. We do not approve of the practice of counsel employing subtlety, advancing gratuitous arguments that tend only to muddle the issues, and seizing upon every opportunity to win the case for his client, when in the first place the confusion in the proceedings was precipitated by his failure to act accordingly, as counsel for the plaintiffs, in seeking the proper consolidation of the two cases. The result is a simple collection case that has remained pending for twenty-seven years now. Likewise, what the petitioners did in filing the two cases in different branches of the court may be held to be tantamount to forum shopping which not only put the respondents to additional unnecessary expense, but wasted the precious time of the courts as well. Forum-shopping is a deplorable practice of litigants in resorting to two different fora for the purpose of obtaining the same relief, to increase his or her chances of obtaining a favorable
21

judgment. What is pivotal to consider in determining whether forum shopping exists or not is the vexation caused to courts and the parties-litigants by a person who asks appellate courts and/or administrative entities to rule on the same related causes and/or to grant the same or substantially the same relief, in the process creating the possibility of conflicting decisions by the different courts or fora upon the same issues.29 Finally, we admonish RTC Branches 6 and 8 for the manner in which the case before each sala was handled and conducted. We note the lack of an order of consolidation in the records of the cases. As to Judge Francisco's two separate decisions, we do not perceive any advantage or benefit derived from promulgating two separate decisions on the same day in the two cases that have already been consolidated into one. Although we recognize no ill intent or attribute no deliberate irregularity to the same, such demeanor can only breed suspicion and promote distrust for our judicial institutions. A judge should avoid every situation where the propriety of his conduct would be placed in question. His official acts must at all times be above reproach,30 and they must be consistent with the proceedings taken in his court. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered MODIFYING the assailed CA decision by SETTING ASIDE and DELETING the award of the respondents' counterclaim in the amount of P142,817.27 in Civil Case No. 5822; REITERATING the P50,000.00 award of attorneys' fees and litigation expenses in favor of the respondents in Civil Case No. 5822; and DELETING the award of attorneys' fees to the petitioners in Civil Case No. 5823. In all other respects, the assailed decision is AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioners. SO ORDERED. THIRD DIVISION [G.R. No. 175380 : March 22, 2010] GREGORIO ESPINOZA, IN HIS OWN PERSONAL CAPACITY AND AS SURVIVING SPOUSE, AND JO ANNE G. ESPINOZA, HEREIN REPRESENTED BY THEIR ATTORNEY-IN-FACT, BEN SANGIL, PETITIONERS, VS. UNITED OVERSEAS BANK PHILS. (FORMERLY WESTMONT BANK), RESPONDENT. DECISION CORONA, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari[1] of the November 9, 2006 decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 62250. On March 24, 1996, Firematic Philippines was granted a credit line by respondent United Overseas Bank (then known as Westmont Bank). As security, petitioners Gregorio Espinoza and the late Joji Gador Espinoza (spouses Espinoza) executed a third-party mortgage in favor of
22

respondent over four parcels of land, one of which was covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 197553 of the Registry of Deeds of Caloocan City. Through its credit line, Firematic obtained several loans from respondent, as evidenced by promissory notes and trust receipts. Due to Firematic's failure to pay its loans, respondent filed a petition for extrajudicial foreclosure in July 1996 with notary public Eduardo S. Rodriguez in Caloocan City. After complying with the legal requirements, the property covered by TCT No. 197553 was sold at public auction. Respondent was awarded the property, being the only bidder in the amount of P200,000.[3] The certificate of sale was registered with the Register of Deeds of Caloocan City on September 25, 1996. In July 1998, an affidavit of consolidation of ownership over the property was also registered with the same office. On July 24, 1998, ownership was consolidated in the name of respondent as evidenced by the issuance of TCT No. C-328807. On March 10, 2000, respondent filed an ex parte petition for the issuance of a writ of possession which was docketed as LRC Case No. C-4233 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City, Branch124. This action was opposed by petitioners who moved for the consolidation of the proceedings with Civil Case No. C-17913 pending before RTC Branch 120 of the same city. Civil Case No. C-17913 was an action for the nullification of the extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings and certificate of sale of the property subject of this case. In an order dated April 18, 2000, RTC Branch 124 granted petitioners' motion for consolidation and ordered that LRC Case No. C-4233 be consolidated with Civil Case No. C-17913, provided that the presiding judge of RTC Branch 120 did not object. Respondent's motion for reconsideration was denied in an order dated September 7, 2000. Respondent then filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus[4] in the CA, which was granted. The orders of RTC Branch 124 dated April 18, 2000 and September 7, 2000, respectively, were reversed and set aside. The CA adhered to the long-established doctrine that purchasers in a foreclosure sale are entitled, as a matter of right, to a writ of possession and that any question regarding the regularity and validity of the sale is to be determined in a separate proceeding. The CA also held that such questions are not to be raised as a justification for opposing the issuance of the writ of possession, since such proceedings are ex parte. Hence, the CA directed the issuance of a writ of possession in favor of respondent. Aggrieved, petitioners filed this petition. The core issue for resolution is whether a case for the issuance of a writ of possession may be consolidated with the proceedings for the nullification of extra-judicial foreclosure. Petitioners contend that peculiar circumstances in the instant case make it an exception from the general rule on the ministerial duty of courts to issue writs of possession. Given that the issuance of a writ of possession in this case must be litigated, consolidation with the pending case on the nullification of extra-judicial foreclosure is mandatory because both proceedings involve the same parties and subject matter.

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Respondent, on the other hand, insists that the consolidation of the ex parte petition for the issuance of a writ of possession with the complaint for nullification of extra-judicial foreclosure of mortgage is highly improper and irregular because there are no common questions of fact and law between the two cases. Respondent also argues that any question regarding the validity of the mortgage or foreclosure cannot be a ground for refusing the issuance of the writ of possession and should, instead, be taken up in the proceedings for the nullification of the foreclosure. We rule for respondent. The order for a writ of possession issues as a matter of course upon the filing of the proper motion and the approval of the corresponding bond if the redemption period has not yet lapsed.[5] If the redemption period has expired, then the filing of the bond is no longer necessary. Any and all questions regarding the regularity and validity of the sale is left to be determined in a subsequent proceeding and such questions may not be raised as a justification for opposing the issuance of a writ of possession.[6] In Santiago v. Merchants Rural Bank of Talavera, Inc.,[7] we defined the nature of a petition for a writ of possession: The proceeding in a petition for a writ of possession is ex parte and summary in nature. It is a judicial proceeding brought for the benefit of one party only and without notice by the court to any person adverse of interest. It is a proceeding wherein relief is granted without giving the person against whom the relief is sought an opportunity to be heard. By its very nature, an ex parte petition for issuance of a writ of possession is a non-litigious proceeding.[8] It is a judicial proceeding for the enforcement of one's right of possession as purchaser in a foreclosure sale. It is not an ordinary suit filed in court, by which one party sues another for the enforcement of a wrong or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong.[9] On the other hand, by its nature, a petition for nullification or annulment of foreclosure proceedings contests the presumed right of ownership of the buyer in a foreclosure sale and puts in issue such presumed right of ownership. Thus, a party scheming to defeat the right to a writ of possession of a buyer in a foreclosure sale who had already consolidated his ownership over the property subject of the foreclosure sale can simply resort to the subterfuge of filing a petition for nullification of foreclosure proceedings with motion for consolidation of the petition for issuance of a writ of possession. This we cannot allow as it will render nugatory the presumed right of ownership, as well as the right of possession, of a buyer in a foreclosure sale, rights which are supposed to be implemented in an ex parte petition for issuance of a writ of possession. Besides, the mere fact that the "presumed right of ownership is contested and made the basis of another action" does not by itself mean that the proceedings for issuance of a writ of possession will become groundless. The presumed right of ownership and the right of possession should be respected until and unless another party successfully rebuts that presumption in an action for nullification of the foreclosure proceedings. As such, and in connection with the issuance of a writ of possession, the grant of a complaint for nullification of foreclosure proceedings is a
24

resolutory condition, not a suspensive condition. Given the foregoing discussion, it is clear that the proceedings for the issuance of a writ of possession should not be consolidated with the case for the declaration of nullity of a foreclosure sale. The glaring difference in the nature of the two militates against their consolidation. The long-standing rule is that proceedings for the issuance of a writ of possession are ex parte and non-litigious in nature.[10] The only exemption from this rule is Active Wood Products Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals[11] where the consolidation of the proceedings for the issuance of a writ of possession and nullification of foreclosure proceedings was allowed following the provisions on consolidation in the Rules of Court. However, the circumstances in this case are substantially distinct from that in Active Wood. Therefore, the exception granted in that case cannot be applied here. In Active Wood, the petition for writ of possession was filed before the expiration of the one-year redemption period[12] while, in this case, the petition for writ of possession was filed after the one-year redemption period had lapsed. Moreover, in Active Wood, title to the litigated property had not been consolidated in the name of the mortgagee. Therefore, in that case, the mortgagee did not yet have an absolute right over the property. In De Vera v. Agloro,[13] we ruled: The possession of land becomes an absolute right of the purchaser as confirmed owner. The purchaser can demand possession at any time following the consolidation of ownership in his name and the issuance to him of a new transfer certificate of title. After the consolidation of title in the buyer's name for failure of the mortgagor to redeem the property, the writ of possession becomes a matter of right.[14] In another case involving these two parties, Fernandez and United Overseas Bank Phils. v. Espinoza,[15] we held: Upon the expiration of the redemption period, the right of the purchaser to the possession of the foreclosed property becomes absolute. The basis of this right to possession is the purchaser's ownership of the property.[16] In this case, title to the litigated property had already been consolidated in the name of respondent, making the issuance of a writ of possession a matter of right. Consequently, the consolidation of the petition for the issuance of a writ of possession with the proceedings for nullification of foreclosure would be highly improper. Otherwise, not only will the very purpose of consolidation (which is to avoid unnecessary delay) be defeated but the procedural matter of consolidation will also adversely affect the substantive right of possession as an incident of ownership. Finally, petitions for the issuance of writs of possession, a land registration proceeding, do not fall within the ambit of the Rules of Court.[17] Thus, the rules on consolidation should not be applied. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. Costs against petitioners.
25

B. TRIAL BY COMMISIONERS RULE 32 Trial by Commissioner Section 1. Reference by consent. By written consent of both parties, the court may order any or all of the issues in a case to be referred to a commissioner to be agreed upon by the parties or to be appointed by the court. As used in these Rules, the word "commissioner" includes a referee, an auditor and an examiner. (1a, R33) Section 2. Reference ordered on motion. When the parties do not consent, the court may, upon the application of either or of its own motion, direct a reference to a commissioner in the following cases: (a) When the trial of an issue of fact requires the examination of a long account on either side, in which case the commissioner may be directed to hear and report upon the whole issue or any specific question involved therein; (b) When the taking of an account is necessary for the information of the court before judgment, or for carrying a judgment or order into effect. (c) When a question of fact, other than upon the pleadings, arises upon motion or otherwise, in any stage of a case, or for carrying a judgment or order into effect. (2a, R33) Section 3. Order of reference; powers of the commissioner. When a reference is made, the clerk shall forthwith furnish the commissioner with a copy of the order of reference. The order may specify or limit the powers of the commissioner, and may direct him to report only upon particular issues, or to do or perform particular acts, or to receive and report evidence only and may fix the date for beginning and closing the hearings and for the filing of his report. Subject to other specifications and limitations stated in the order, the commissioner has and shall exercise the power to regulate the proceedings in every hearing before him and to do all acts and take all measures necessary or proper for the efficient performance of his duties under the order. He may issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum, swear witnesses, and unless otherwise provided in the order of reference, he may rule upon the admissibility of evidence. The trial or hearing before him shall proceed in all respects as it would if held before the court. (3a, R33) Section 4. Oath of commissioner. Before entering upon his duties the commissioner shall be sworn to a faithful and honest performance thereof. (14, R33) Section 5. Proceedings before commissioner. Upon receipt of the order of reference and unless otherwise provided therein, the commissioner shall forthwith set a time and place for the first meeting of the parties or their counsel to be held within ten (10) days after the date of the order of reference and shall notify the parties or their counsel. (5a, R33)

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Section 6. Failure of parties to appear before commissioner. If a party fails to appear at the time and place appointed, the commissioner may proceed ex parte or, in his discretion, adjourn the proceedings to a future day, giving notice to the absent party or his counsel of the adjournment. (6a, R33) Section 7. Refusal of witness. The refusal of a witness to obey a subpoena issued by the commissioner or to give evidence before him, shall be deemed a contempt of the court which appointed the commissioner. (7a R33) Section 8. Commissioner shall avoid delays. It is the duty of the commissioner to proceed with all reasonable diligence. Either party, on notice to the parties and commissioner, may apply to the court for an order requiring the commissioner to expedite the proceedings and to make his report. (8a, R33) Section 9. Report of commissioner. Upon the completion of the trial or hearing or proceeding before the commissioner, he shall file with the court his report in writing upon the matters submitted to him by the order of reference. When his powers are not specified or limited, he shall set forth his findings of fact and conclusions of law in his report. He shall attach thereto all exhibits, affidavits, depositions, papers and the transcript, if any, of the testimonial evidence presented before him. (9a, R33) Section 10. Notice to parties of the filing of report. Upon the filing of the report, the parties shall be notified by the clerk, and they shall be allowed ten (10) days within which to signify grounds of objections to the findings of the report, if they so desire. Objections to the report based upon grounds which were available to the parties during the proceedings before the commissioner, other than objections to the findings and conclusions therein, set forth, shall not be considered by the court unless they were made before the commissioner. (10, R33) Section 11. Hearing upon report. Upon the expiration of the period of ten (10) days referred to in the preceding section, the report shall be set for hearing, after which the court shall issue an order adopting, modifying, or rejecting the report in whole or in part, or recommitting it with instructions, or requiring the parties to present further evidence before the commissioner or the court. (11a, R33) Section 12. Stipulations as to findings. When the parties stipulate that a commissioner's findings of fact shall be final, only questions of law shall thereafter be considered. (12a, R33) Section 13. Compensation of commissioner. The court shall allow the commissioner such reasonable compensation as the circumstances of the case warrant, to be taxed as costs against the defeated party, or apportioned, as justice requires. (13, R33) RULE 67 Expropriation Section 5. Ascertainment of compensation. Upon the rendition of the order of expropriation, the court shall appoint not more than three (3) competent and disinterested persons as commissioners to ascertain and report to the court the just
27

compensation for the property sought to be taken. The order of appointment shall designate the time and place of the first session of the hearing to be held by the commissioners and specify the time within which their report shall be submitted to the court. Copies of the order shall be served on the parties. Objections to the appointment of any of the commissioners shall be filed with the court within ten (10) days from service, and shall be resolved within thirty (30) days after all the commissioners shall have received copies of the objections. (5a) R30. Section 9. Judge to receive evidence; delegation to clerk of court. The judge of the court where the case is pending shall personally receive the evidence to be adduced by the parties. However, in default or ex parte hearings, and in any case where the parties agree in writing, the court may delegate the reception of evidence to its clerk of court who is a member of the bar. The clerk of court shall have no power to rule on objections to any question or to the admission of exhibits, which objections shall be resolved by the court upon submission of his report and the transcripts within ten (10) days from termination of the hearing. (n) Regalado Notes Can the commissioner rule on the admissibility of evidence? Yes. In the proceedings under this section, the commissioner may rule upon the admissibility of evidence, UNLESS otherwise provided in the order of reference. Note that the clerk of court under Sec. 9, Rule 30 does NOT have the same power and the clerk of court shall just receive the evidence subject to the objections interposed thereto and such questions or objections shall be resolved by the court after the clerk has submitted his report in it. Are the commissioners allowed to do whatever acts in proceeding with the trial, despite the limited scope of their proceedings? Yes. What Section 3, authorizes to be limited is the scope of the proceedings before the commissioner, not the MODALITY thereof. The order of reference may direct the commissioner to perform different acts in and for purposes of the proceedings. (Aljems Corp. v. CA, 28 Mar. 2001) Considering that the commissioners are allowed to proceed in whatever mode they deem fit and necessary, are they allowed to dispense with hearing? No. When the commissioner did not hold a hearing in violation of Section 3 of Rule 30, it is error for the trial court to issue an order approving said commissioners report over the objection of the aggrieved party. (Jaca v. Davao Lumber, 29 Mar. 1982) Whatever may be the case, the requirement for the commissioners to hold a hearing cannot be dispensed with as this is the essence of due process. (Jaca v. Davao Lumber, 29 Mar. 1982)

Bautista Notes
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If the right to trial with the assistance of assessors is demanded, is it a matter of right? Yes. Under Sec.1, Rule 32, the judge SHALL... meaning the judge has NO discretion. NOTE: Bautista: This is practically a dead provision but it is the kind of provisions which they resurrect in the bar. But as per wording in the 1997 ROC, it is now MAY and not SHALL, so it is now discretionary. Can the commissioners write opinions to cases? Yes, but it is the judge who finally determines the ruling. The value of the commissioners opinion is merely to advise the judge on questions of facts. When are commissioners appointed by the trial court? By written consent of both parties, or if they disagree upon motion of any of the parties or by the court motu propio.

EDGARDO J. ANGARA, G.R. NO. 156822 Petitioner, Present: QUISUMBING, Chairman

- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, and

CALLEJO, SR., JJ. FEDMAN DEVELOPMENT Promulgated: CORPORATION, Respondent.October 18, 2004

Fedman filed a complaint against Angara for refusing to vacate a parcel of land which supposedly belonged to Fedman. TC ordered the constitution of a committee of 3 surveyors. After the survey, Angara filed a motion to render judgment based on the commissioners report. TC denied Angaras motion saying that commissioners did not conduct a joint survey of the land.

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TC is not bound by the findings of the commissioners or precluded from disregarding the same and it may adopt, modify or reject the report. TC did not adopt the survey made by commissioners because the survey of the land was done individually.

x-----------------------------------------------x RESOLUTION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Before the Court is petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of our Resolution,1 dated April 2, 2003, which denied his petition for review on certiorari for failure to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals (CA) committed any reversible error in its Decision,2 dated September 26, 2002, in CA-G.R. SP No. 69776, dismissing his petition for certiorari.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

On February 8, 1996, respondent filed a complaint for Accion Reinvindicatoria and/or Quieting of Title against petitioner before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 14, Nasugbu, Batangas (RTC), docketed as Civil Case No. 360.3

In its complaint, respondent alleges as follows: It is the registered owner of several adjoining lots located at Barangay Balaytigue, Nasugbu, Batangas among which are three adjoining lots covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T51824, T-51825, and T-51826 of the Registry of Deeds of Batangas with a total area of 67,500 square meters. Sometime in August 1995, respondent learned that petitioner fenced said parcels of land without its knowledge and consent. On August 28, 1995, respondent informed petitioner that the said lots the latter fenced are titled in its name. In deference to petitioners position as Senator of the Philippines, respondent undertook a relocation survey of the said properties. The relocation survey disclosed that the subject lots fenced and occupied by petitioner are covered by the certificates of title of respondent. Despite demand made by respondent, petitioner refused to vacate the property in question. Respondent prays that

30

petitioner and all persons claiming title under him be ordered to vacate the premises in question and surrender possession thereof to the former.

In his Answer with Compulsory Counterclaims, petitioner avers that: he is the lawful owner of four contiguous and adjacent parcels of land situated in Barangay Balaytigue, Nasugbu, Batangas covered by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T-23875, T-20526, T-25093 and T-25092; the said parcels of land do not encroach on respondents property; and assuming that there is such an encroachment, he nevertheless had acquired title thereto by virtue of acquisitive prescription.

In the pre-trial held on January 26, 1999, the RTC opined that the primordial issue for resolution is whether the property of petitioner is outside or inside of the property titled in the name of respondent.4

On March 4, 1999, at the instance of the parties, the RTC authorized the ground relocation survey of the adjoining lots of the parties by geodetic engineers. On December 9, 1999, the RTC ordered the constitution of committee of three surveyors composed of Geodetic Engineer Esmael Bausas as representative of the petitioner, Geodetic Engineer Filemon Munar, as representative of respondent, and Geodetic Engineer Rodolfo Macalino of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region IV, as chairman of the panel, mandated to conduct a relocation survey on the subject property.5

Sometime on February 2000, the members of the committee submitted their individual reports on the relocation survey conducted. 6

On June 22, 2000, the RTC issued subpoena ad testificandum to the three Geodetic Engineers who composed the Board of Commissioners to testify in connection with their individual reports.7 The RTC also reminded respondent that the case was filed as early as February 8, 1996, the pre-trial was conducted on January 20, 1999 and since then respondent has not even commenced presenting its evidence on the merits.

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On September 27, 2000, the RTC ordered the dismissal of the case due to the failure of the respondent to prosecute its case for an unreasonable length of time. However, upon respondents motion for reconsideration, the RTC reconsidered the order of dismissal.

On September 18, 2001, petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion praying that judgment be rendered on the basis of the commissioners report and, alternatively, all other persons who will be adversely affected by the relocation survey be impleaded as parties.8

On November 13, 2001, RTC denied the said Omnibus Motion.9 The RTC held that according to respondent there was no joint survey conducted by the commissioners as ordered by it and as agreed upon by the parties, hence the report of the commissioners cannot be the basis of the judgment. As regards the alternative prayer to implead the adjoining owners, the RTC ruled that it cannot be assumed that the adjoining owners have common defenses; the adjoining owners acquired their land from different sources hence they may have different defense; joining them as party defendants will only complicate the issues and prolong adjudication of the case.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the same was denied by the RTC in its Order dated January 14, 2002.10 The RTC held that the record is replete with explicit motions and orders of the court calling for joint survey and there is a big mistake for the petitioner to say that its orders were for the surveyor to merely coordinate in the survey to be done by them. Anent the alternative prayer to implead adjoining owners, the RTC ruled that the recommendation or observation by one witness or surveyor that the parties affected are all indispensable parties cannot be taken into consideration since the report of the surveyor is not in compliance with its order to make a joint survey, and therefore cannot be a basis for concluding that there will be indispensable parties who will be affected. Besides, the RTC noted that petitioner did not name any of the supposed indispensable parties to be included in the case. Ascribing grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction upon the RTC in refusing to render judgment based on the commissioners report as well as its refusal to

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direct respondent to implead adjoining property owners, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari before the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 69776.

On September 26, 2002, the CA dismissed the petition for certiorari and affirmed the assailed orders of the RTC.11 The CA declared that: the contention of petitioner regarding the conduct of the relocation survey is belied by the records of the case which is replete with explicit motions from the parties and orders from the RTC calling for a joint survey; and, the alleged owners of the adjacent lands may not be considered as indispensable parties in the light of Section 7 of Rule 3 of the Rules of Court.12

Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the said decision but the CA denied the same in a Resolution dated January 14, 2003.13

Hence, petitioner filed a petition for review on certiorari with this Court.14 He claims that the CA erred in failing to declare that the orders of the RTC were rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, in that: (a) there is no plausible and substantive explanation or justification for the RTC to completely ignore the report(s) of the panel of commissioners and to act or render judgment on the basis thereof; (b) the refusal of the RTC to alternatively direct respondent to implead the surrounding property owners in the former Hacienda Balaytigue who are directly affected by any judgment in the case as shown by the report(s) of the panel of commissioners contravenes Section 7 of Rule 3 and Section 2 of Rule 3 of the Rules of Court;15 and (c) it is fair, desirable, practical, and in accord with the ends of law and the prompt administration of justice that the issue of the incorrect or overlapping boundaries be determined by the proper government agencies equipped with the technical expertise on the matter as suggested by respondents own representative to the panel of commissioners.

In a Resolution16 dated April 2, 2003, the Court denied the petition for review on certiorari for failure to sufficiently show that the CA committed any reversible error. Hence, the present Motion for Reconsideration.17

Petitioner posits that the case at bar can be resolved with dispatch if the Court will take a second look at his petition. According to petitioner, this is a simple case of an alleged
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encroachment or overlapping of property boundaries. Considering that the issue involves principally a factual and technical matter for which the RTC, at the instance of the parties, created a Panel of Commissioners has done its job and the chairman submitted his report on the basis of his evaluation of the separate surveys conducted by the members. The RTC, however, simply ignored the report on the technical and lame excuse that the Panel of Commissioners did not conduct a joint survey.

In its Comment to the motion for reconsideration,18 respondent points out that the Commissioners Report was submitted as early as February 2000. After its submission, petitioner did not ask that a decision be rendered based on said report. Various hearings were held. It was only after respondent presented two witnesses who testified on the illegal encroachment of petitioner that petitioner suddenly asked the RTC not to continue with the proceedings and that judgment be rendered based on the Commissioners Report. Respondent also stresses that no joint survey was conducted and that no joint report was submitted as required by the RTC. Even assuming that the commissioners conducted a joint survey, it is clear from the joint manifestation and motion of the parties submitted on April 3, 1997 that the results of the joint survey are by no means final and binding upon them, but will only serve to guide the lower court in resolving the issues of the case. The records of the case are even replete with motions from the parties and orders for a joint survey report. It submits that the RTC is not a mere rubber stamp of the commissioners, and that is only after the parties had completed the presentation of their evidence that the RTC can intelligently decide the case, not before nor based only on the Commissioners Report.

Respondent avers that petitioner should not be allowed to implead all the property owners in Nasugbu, Batangas since the properties in this area have been the subject of requisite surveys by the proper government agencies and that no questions have been raised respecting the same up to the present.The properties of respondent and petitioner have a common tie line and were based on the same BLLM 1 as determined by the Bureau of Land. Respondent states that it is difficult to understand why petitioner would like to approach the survey based on historical occupancy of the land, which is not only difficult to trace and too subjective but will ultimately result in destroying the integrity of the torrens system. Respondent asserts that in his answer, petitioner never alleged massive movement of the lands to justify inclusion of the other parties. It is axiomatic that a defense not alleged in the answer is barred especially when trial has already commenced and no evidence has been adduced in support thereof. In the opinion of respondent, petitioner is muddling the issue.

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In his Reply,19 petitioner submits that the RTC cannot simply ignore the commissioners report without considering its merits simply because the parties agreed that the same is not final and binding. Petitioner asserts that respondent never impugned the integrity of the result of the relocation survey. It never alleged fraud, mistake or inexcusable negligence in its conduct. Petitioner argues that the RTC should have considered the merits of the report and acted on its recommendation instead of rejecting it outright without any cause or reason.As to the insistence of respondent that the RTC ordered a joint survey, petitioner submits that there is nothing in the order of the RTC defining or specifying what a joint survey is.It has various meanings. In this case, the commissioners acted together. They met, fixed and agreed on the rules and set out to do their jobs to attain a common objective. Petitioner reiterates his arguments in the petition that a joint survey, as understood by respondent, wherein the commissioners literally go out together, conduct a survey in the presence of one another, and prepare one report, could not have been contemplated by the RTC since the commissioners nominated by the parties insisted on two different methods or approaches for the survey. The commissioner nominated by respondent never objected to the conduct of the survey nor interposed any objection to the result. Petitioner also claims that contrary to the representation of respondent, petitioner timely filed an omnibus motion for the RTC to decide or act on the survey report of the commissioners. It recounts the proceedings of the case, pointing out that unfortunately, the present counsel of respondent was not the same one who initially handled the case and as such, merely relied on the records of the case.

The motion for reconsideration was called for oral argument on October 15, 2003. Thereafter, the Court declared the motion submitted for resolution20 and allowed the parties to submit their respective memoranda.21

A battle of semantics is principally being waged before this Court.Petitioner argues that undue emphasis was placed on the words joint relocation survey, which literally means one that is conducted physically together or in the presence of one another. The order constituting the panel of commissioners, however, does not define what a joint relocation survey entails nor does it lay out the steps or procedures in conducting the same. Petitioner submits that the term joint survey does not rule out a survey that is coordinated and linked together resulting in a joint finding and recommendation. On the other hand, respondent subscribes to the pronouncement of the RTC that the record is replete with explicit motion and orders of the court calling for joint survey.
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Anent the refusal to direct respondent to implead the adjoining property owners, petitioner claims that the RTC and the CA refused to acknowledge the observation of Engr. Macalino that the approach adopted by respondent in conducting the survey will cause significant movement in the position of petitioners property as well as other lot owners. On the other hand, respondent posits that the RTC correctly denied the prayer to implead adjoining property owners since petitioner did not identify who these persons are or whether they will be affected by the outcome of the litigation.

It must be emphasizedthat the petition before the CA is a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Certiorari under Rule 65is a remedy narrow in scope and inflexible in character. It is not a general utility tool in the legal workshop.22It offers only a limited form of review. Its principal function is to keep an inferior tribunal within its jurisdiction.23 It can be invoked only for an error of jurisdiction, that is, one where the act complained of was issued by the court, officer or a quasi-judicial body without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion which is tantamount to lack or in excess of jurisdiction.24

Excess of jurisdiction as distinguished from absence of jurisdiction means that an act, though within the general power of a tribunal, board or officer is not authorized, and invalid with respect to the particular proceeding, because the conditions which alone authorize the exercise of the general power in respect of it are wanting.25 Without jurisdiction means lack or want of legal power, right or authority to hear and determine a cause or causes, considered either in general or with reference to a particular matter. It means lack of power to exercise authority.26 Grave abuse of discretion implies such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction or, in other words, where the power is exercised in an arbitrary manner by reason of passion, prejudice, or personal hostility,27 and it must be so patent or gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law.28 Not every error in proceeding, or every erroneous conclusion of law or fact, is abuse of discretion.29

In this case, the assailed orders of the RTC are but resolutions on incidental matters which do not touch on the merits of the case or put an end to the proceedings.30 They are interlocutory

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orders since there leaves something else to be done by the RTC with respect to the merits of the case.31

Ordinarily, the remedy against an interlocutory order is not to resort forthwith to certiorari, but to continue with the case in due course and, when an unfavorable verdict is handed down, to take an appeal in the manner authorized by law. However, where there are special circumstances clearly demonstrating the inadequacy of an appeal, the special civil action of certiorari may exceptionally be allowed.32 Special circumstances areabsolutely wanting in the present case.

The wisdom or soundness of the RTCs orders involves a matter of judgment which is not properly reviewable by petition for certiorari, which is intended to correct defects of jurisdiction solely and not to correct errors of procedure or matters in the RTCs findings or conclusions.Any error therein amounts only to an error of judgment. An error of judgment committed by a court in the exercise of its legitimate jurisdiction is not the same as grave abuse of discretion.33 Errors of judgment are correctible by appeal, while those of jurisdiction are reviewable by certiorari.34

Furthermore, where the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter, the orders or decisions upon all questions pertaining to the cause are orders or decisions within its jurisdiction and however erroneous they may be, they cannot be corrected by certiorari.35 Elsewise stated, when the court has jurisdiction over the case, its questioned acts, even if its findings are not correct, would at most constitute errors of law and not abuse of discretion correctible by the extraordinary remedy of certiorari.36

Consequently, the Court is perplexed that,in resolving the petition before it, the Court of Appeals chose to delve into the wisdom and soundness of the orders of the RTC, overlooking the nature of the petition before it.The supervisory jurisdiction of the court to issue a certiorari writ cannot be exercised in order to review the judgment of the lower court as to its intrinsic correctness, either upon the law or the facts of the case.37 In the absence of a showing that there is reason for the Court to annul the decision of the concerned tribunal or to substitute its own judgment, it is not the office of the Court in a petition for certiorari to inquire into the correctness of the assailed decision or resolution.38 A writ of certiorari is not intended to
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correct every controversial interlocutory ruling.39 A contrary rule would lead to confusion, and seriously hamper the administration of justice.

Petitioner failed to demonstrate his claim that the RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of its jurisdiction in denying petitioners prayer for rendition of judgment based on the commissioners report. The Rules of Court clearly provides that the trial court is not bound by the findings of the commissioners or precluded from disregarding the same. It may adopt, modify, reject the report or recommit it with instructions, or require the parties to present further evidence.40

Neither has petitioner demonstrated that the RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of its jurisdiction in denying his prayer to implead adjoining property owners.

The RTC correctly observed that petitioner did not identify the property owners allegedly affected or will be affected by the suit.The RTC cannot simply order a blanket inclusion of property owners in the entire Barangay Balaytigue, Nasugbu, Batangas as parties-defendants in the case. It is the petitioners responsibility to state the names of all the persons whom he claims will be affected by the suit or any judgment therein.41

Besides, petitioner has not shown positively that the adjoining property owners either have such an interest in the controversy or subject matter that a final adjudication cannot be made, in their absence, without injuring or affecting their interest, 42 or that they ought to be joined as parties if complete relief is to be accorded to those already parties, for a complete determination of settlement of the claim subject of the action.43

More importantly, the joinder of adjoining property owners is not warranted since the RTC did not adopt the surveys and reports of the individual commissioners. The RTC chose not to give credence to the observation of one surveyor that the parties affected are all indispensable parties because the report of the surveyors is not in compliance with its order to make a joint survey. WHEREFORE, the instant motion for reconsideration is DENIED for lack of merit.
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3. INCIDENTS/PROCESSES A. CALENDAR OF CASES RULE 20 Calendar of Cases Section 1. Calendar of cases. The clerk of court, under the direct supervision of the judge, shall keep a calendar of cases for pre-trial, for trial, those whose trials were adjourned or postponed, and those with motions to set for hearing. Preference shall be given to habeas corpus cases, election cases, special civil actions, and those so required by law. (1a, R22) Section 2. Assignment of cases. The assignment of cases to the different branches of a court shall be done exclusively by raffle. The assignment shall be done in open session of which adequate notice shall be given so as to afford interested parties the opportunity to be present. (7a, R22) What kinds of proceedings must be calendared? 1. trial 2. pre-trial 3. adjournment and postponement 4. motions with preference to habeas corpus cases, election cases, special civil actions. What are the two conditions for a proper raffling of cases? 1. Raffling should be done in open session. 2. Raffling is done with adequate notice. Why should the raffling of cases be in open session? Raffling is done in open session, in order to prevent collusion. Any person can be at the raffling to avoid any cheating. B. INTERVENTION RULE 19 Intervention Section 1. Who may intervene. A person who has a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties, or an interest against both, or is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an officer thereof may, with leave of court, be allowed to intervene in the action. The court
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shall consider whether or not the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties, and whether or not the intervenor's rights may be fully protected in a separate proceeding. (2[a], [b]a, R12) Section 2. Time to intervene. The motion to intervene may be filed at any time before rendition of judgment by the trial court. A copy of the pleading-in-intervention shall be attached to the motion and served on the original parties. (n) Section 3. Pleadings-in-intervention. The intervenor shall file a complaint-in-intervention if he asserts a claim against either or all of the original parties, or an answer-in-intervention if he unites with the defending party in resisting a claim against the latter. (2[c]a, R12) Section 4. Answer to complaint-in-intervention. The answer to the complaint-in-intervention shall be filed within fifteen (15) days from notice of the order admitting the same, unless a different period is fixed by the court. (2[d]a, R12)

RULE 11- When to File Responsive Pleadings Section 3. Answer to amended complaint. When the plaintiff files an amended complaint as a matter of right, the defendant shall answer the same within fifteen (15) days after being served with a copy thereof. Where its filing is not a matter of right, the defendant shall answer the amended complaint within ten (l0) days from notice of the order admitting the same. An answer earlier filed may serve as the answer to the amended complaint if no new answer is filed. This Rule shall apply to the answer to an amended counterclaim, amended cross-claim, amended third (fourth, etc.)party complaint, and amended complaint-in-intervention. (3a) Regalado Notes. Is there an absolute right to intervene? No. The right to intervene is not an absolute right. The procedure to secure the right to intervene is fixed by the statute or rule and intervention can be secured only in accordance with the terms of the applicable provisions. The allowance or disallowance of a motion to intervene is addressed to the sound discretion of the court. (Big Country Ranch Corp. v. CA, 12 Oct. 1992) Does intervention change the nature of the action? No. Intervention is not intended to change the nature and character of the action itself. (Garcia v. David, 67 Phil. 279) In general, an independent controversy cannot be injected into a suit by intervention, hence such intervention will not be allowed where it would enlarge the issues in the action and expand the scope of the remedies. (Big Country Ranch Corp. v. CA, 12 Oct. 1992) Distinguish Intervention (Rule 19) and Interpleader (Rule 62)
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Interpleader Kind of Action Original Action When proper Presupposes that the plaintiff has no interest in the subject matter of the action or has an interest therein which in whole or in part, is not disputed by the other parties to the action. Parties to the Defendants are already Defendants are being sued precisely to suit original parties to the implead them pending suit Intervention Ancilliary action In any of the four situations mention in Rule 19 What is the effect of dismissal of the principal action to the complaint in intervention? A. Intervention is dismissed. (Brgy. Matictic v. Elbinias, 27 Feb 1987) Since said order had achieved finality, the dismissal of the motion for intervention is unavoidable as the main action having ceased to exist, there was no pending proceeding wherein the intervention may be based. Besides, its interests may be protected in a separate case which it may prevail upon the municipality to re-file or if the intervenor has the requisite authority, it can file the action for expropriation itself. B. Intervention continues despite dismissal of the principal action. (Metropolitan Bank v. Presiding Judge, 21 Sept. 1990) If the complaint-in-intervention was filed BEFORE the plaintiffs action had been expressly dismissed, the intervenors complaint was not subject to dismissal on the ground that no action was pending, because dismissal of plaintiffs action did not affect the rights of the intervenor or effect the dismissal of the intervenor's complaint. Moreover, to require private respondent to refile another case will result in unnecessary delay and expenses and entail multiplicity of suits and, therefore, defeat the very purpose of intervention which is to determine all conflicting claims on the matter in litigation and settle in one action and by a single judgment the whole controversy among the persons involved. Is intervention optional? Yes. While, as a rule, intervention is optional and whether the failure to intervene may be deemed as waiver or estoppel depends on each case. What are the twin requirements for filing a complaint in intervention? 1. that the movant has direct legal interest in the matter in litigation. 2. consideration must be given as to whether or not the adjudication of the rights of the original parties may be delayed or prejudiced, while those of the intervenor may be protected in a separate proceeding. Avena Notes (22 Jan 05) What is the purpose of intervention?

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Intervention is for the benefit of non-parties, who must have an interest or is situated to be adversely affected. A complaint in intervention is directed against the defendant and an answer in interventions is directed against the plaintiff. What are the four grounds for intervening in an action? 1. Person has a legal interest in the matter in litigation. 2. Person has a legal interest in the success of either party 3. Person has an interest against both 4. Person is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an officer thereof.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. 85576 June 8, 1990 HOLIDAY INN (PHILS.), INC., Petitioner, vs. THE SANDIGANBAYAN (1st Division), REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the PHILIPPINE COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT (PCGG), ROBERTO S. BENEDICTO and NEW RIVIERA HOTEL DEVELOPMENT CO., INC., Respondents. This was the management contract of Holiday Inn with NRHDC, which was rescinded without honouring Holiday Inns right of first refusal to purchase the hotel. NRHDC was subjected to sequestration proceedings by the PCGG as part of the ill-gotten wealth of Benedicto. The cause of action in the Sandiganbayan case referred to the issue of whether or not the hotel of NRHDC was part of the ill-gotten wealth. But Holiday Inns cause of action was dissimilar and not contingent upon the case in the Sandiganbayan, because it was for the interpretation of the management contract which gave it a right of first refusal. This was a civil action which could be tried separately.

MEDIALDEA, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari, (treated as a special civil action for certiorari) questioning the Resolution issued by the SANDIGANBAYAN dated November 11, 1988, denying the motion for intervention filed by petitioner Holiday Inn (Phils.), Inc., in Civil Case No. 0034/PCGG Case No. 34, entitled "Republic of the Philippines v. Roberto S. Benedicto et al."

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The antecedent facts are as follows:

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On January 1, 1976, Holiday Inn, Inc. (HII) entered into a management contract with New Riviera Hotel and Development Co., Inc. (NRHDC) for a period of ten (10) years. Article 18 of said agreement stipulates: ARTICLE 18
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RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL

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If Owner, at any time or times during the term hereof, shall receive a bona fide offer from a third party acceptable to Owner, or which Owner does not promptly reject, to purchase the Premises or any part thereof, or the business conducted in connection therewith, or in the buildings, equipment, or furnishings used in connection therewith, or any interest in Owner (whether a partnership, or corporation or otherwise), Owner shall deliver to Manager an executed original copy of such offer and agrees concurrently therewith to deliver to Manager an financial information (including but not limited to, certified balance sheets and operating statements) involved and such, other information as may be reasonably requested by Manager. Manager may, within twenty one (21) days of its receipt of such offer and said financial data, at its portion, purchase said interest of said Owner on the terms of said offer. (P. 4, Rollo) Similarly, on January 1, 1976, NRHDC and HII assigned all their rights under the above mentioned agreement to petitioner Holiday Inn (Phils.), Inc. (HIP).
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On April 22, 1986, NRHDC was sequestered by the PCGG which subsequently appointed fiscal agents and/or placed an operating team to monitor the activities of said corporation.
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Because of numerous controversies and conflicts resulting in operational problems regarding NRHDC, PCGG and Roberto S. Benedicto, who is perceived to be the controlling stockholder of the company, entered into an agreement whereby 2/3 of the members of the Board of Directors of NRHDC shall be nominees of the PCGG and 1/3 thereof shall be nominees of Mr. Benedicto.
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On July 14, 1986, HIP and NRHDC, as sequestered by PCGG entered into an agreement (addendum) extending the terms of their January 1, 1976 agreement thereof to an indefinite period "on its existing terms and conditions" with either party having the right to terminate the agreement upon six (6) months prior written notice to the other party (pp. 6-7, Rollo).
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On May 10, 1988, NRHDC served upon HIP a letter advising that the management agreement shall be terminated six (6) months from said date. It was latter learned that the letter termination was brought about by NRHDCs decision to have New World Hotel Philippines (NWHP) manage the property in lieu of HIP.
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Contending that there was breach of Article 18 of its original management agreement with NRHDC, HIP initiated on November 2, 1988 an action for intervention in Sandiganbayan in Civil Case No. 0034/PCGG No. 34, a sequestration case, and wherein NRHDC was included as
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among the firms sequestered, alleged to be part of the ill-gotten wealth amassed by Roberto S. Benedicto in conspiracy with former President Ferdinand Marcos.
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The proposed complaint-in-intervention attached to the motion-in-intervention questions the termination of the management agreement without the corresponding prior notice and/or right of first refusal under Article 18 of the Agreement. Petitioner likewise prayed for recovery of unpaid management fees under the agreement. .
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On November 11, 1988, the Sandiganbayan issued the questioned Resolution denying HIPs motion for intervention for lack of jurisdiction since, "the presence of PCGG representatives in sequestered companies does not automatically tear down the corporate veil that distinguishes the corporation from its officers, directors or elders. Corporate officials whether nominated by the PCGG or not, insofar as third parties are concerned, are corporate officers."
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HIP has flied the present petition contending that, based on the ruling of the Supreme Court in PCGG v. Pe a, G.R. No. 7763, April 12, 1988 and PCGG v. SEC, G.R. No. 82188, June 30, 1988 which held that the Sandiganbayan has exclusive and original jurisdiction over all cases civil or criminal, and all incidents arising from incidental to, or related to, such cases necessarily fall likewise under the Sandiganbayan's exclusive, and original jurisdiction subject to review on certiorari exclusively by the Supreme Court (Emphasis supplied).
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We issued a temporary restraining order on November 16, 1988. The issues in this case are:
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1. whether petitioner has a legal interest in Civil Case No. 0034, sufficient to justify its intervention therein; and
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2. whether the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the subject matter of petitioner's proposed complaint-in-intervention.
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On the first issue, petitioner has argued that: As an incident of the case for recovery of ill-gotten wealth filed by the Republic Against Mr. Roberto S. Benedicto (Civil Case No. 0034) lodged before the Sandiganbayan, NRHDC which was alleged to be controlled by the defendant thereat was placed under sequestration. As an incident of the sequestration of NRHDC, PCGG nominees were able to constitute the majority in the Board of the corporation such that for all practical intents and purposes, it ran the, affairs of the sequestered company as conservators of the same. Among its corporate acts, is the root of the present controversy wherein PCGG nominees have decided to terminate the agreement between NRHDC and the petitioner. Viewed in this light therefore, petitioner stands to be adversely affected by the decision of the Board. ... (p. 27, Rollo) In its questioned Resolution, the Sandiganbayan stated:

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The issue in the principal case into which movant Holiday Inn seeks to intervene refers to the character of the properties subject matter thereof, including RIVIERA. whether or not they were ill-gotten or 'crony' properties. Whether or not, in the end, the position of the Republic as plaintiff is upheld does not affect and rights of third persons who deal with sequestered corporations.
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Sec. 2 of Rule 12 tells us that a person may intervene in proceedings in progress if that person has a legal interest in the success of either of the parties, or against both or when a disposition of the property involved would affect the prospective intervenor. Holiday Inn, Inc., has not shown how the termination or continuation of its management contract would be legally affected by a finding of whether or not Roberto S. Benedicto lawfully acquired RIVIERA.
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Holiday Inn, Inc. tells the Court at argument that its services to RIVIERA are superior to that which might be proposed by the prospective new management company, the World Hotels International Ltd. of Hongkong. That may or may not be so. The fact is only the Board of Directors of RIVIERA is qualified to make that determination and certainly, not this Court. At all events, even it New World is inferior to Holiday Inn, Inc., and its management of RIVIERA's hotel might create less gains, or even losses, that is not a legal interest that Holiday Inn, Inc. possesses in the main case of the Republic against Roberto S. Benedicto nor is it a fact that will justify intervention herein. (pp. 186-187, Rollo, Emphasis supplied) On the second issue, petitioner avers that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction because, it claims that the termination by Riviera of its management contract was upon a Board Resolution two thirds (2/3) of whose Board of Directors are PCGG nominees; hence, the action to terminate the agreement subject of the petition bears the imprimatur of the PCCG nominees sitting thereat, making the PCGG the real party-in-interest in the present controversy.
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The Sandiganbayan believes otherwise: ... This Court is of the view that its jurisdiction refers to acts of the PCGG acting as such whether alone or with other persons, natural or juridical, and not generally where PCGG representatives act as part of another juridical person or entity. A rule of thumb might be thus: if the PCGG can be properly impleaded on a cause of action asserted before this Court as a distinct entity, then this Court would generally exercise jurisdiction; otherwise, it would not, because, then the 'PCGG character' of the act or omission in question may, at best, be only incidental.
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After all, the presence of PCGG representatives in sequestered companies does not automatically tear down the corporate veil that distinguishes the corporation from its officers, directors or stockholders. Corporate officers whether nominated by the PCGG or not act, insofar as third parties are concerned, are corporate officers. Contracts entered into by the San Miguel Corporation, for example, m connection with its poultry operations and the cancellations thereof, are not PCGG activities which would justify the invocation of this Court's jurisdiction, even if the contract or the suit were unanimously approved by its board of directors where PCGG representatives sit. (Resolution, Annex 'O', p. 143, Rollo) In both instances, We agree with the Sandiganbayan.
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The subject-matter of petitioner's proposed complaint-in-intervention involves basically, an interpretation of contract, i.e., whether or not the right of first refusal could and/or should have been observed, based on the Addendum/Agreement of July 14, 1988, which extended the terms and conditions of the original agreement of January 1, 1976. The question of whether or not the sequestered property was lawfully acquired by Roberto S. Benedicto has no bearing on the legality of the termination of the management contract by NRHDC's Board of Directors. The two are independent and unrelated issues and resolution of either may proceed independently of each other. Upholding the legality of Benedicto's acquisition of the sequestered property is not a guarantee that HIP's management contract would be upheld, for only the Board of Directors of NRHDC is qualified to make such a determination.
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Likewise, the Sandiganbayan correctly denied jurisdiction over the proposed complaint-inintervention. The original and exclusive jurisdiction given to the Sandiganbayan over PCGG cases pertains to (a) cases filed by the PCGG, pursuant to the exercise of its powers under Executive Order Nos. 1, 2 and 14. as amended by the Office of the President, and Article XVIII, Section 26 of the Constitution, i.e., where the principal cause of action is the recovery of illgotten wealth, as well as all incidents arising from, incidental to, or related to such cases and (b) cases filed by those who wish to question or challenge the commission's acts or orders in such cases. Evidently, petitioner's proposed complaint-in-intervention is an ordinary civil case that does not pertain to the Sandiganbayan. As the Solicitor General stated, the complaint is not directed against PCGG as an entity, but against a private corporation, in which case it is not per se, a PCGG case.
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ACCORDINGLY, the petition is DISMISSED and the ruling of the Sandiganbayan denying the motion to intervene, is hereby upheld. The temporary restraining order issued on November 16, 1988, is likewise LIFTED. No costs.
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SO ORDERED. Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes and Regalado, JJ., concur.
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Gri
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o-Aquino, J., is on leave.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:

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I respectfully dissent. If this Court does not want to decide the simple question of the right of first refusal found in the 1976 management contract as extended by the 1986 addendum, the least we can do is to require the Sandiganbayan to resolve this issue before it tackles the main issue as to the true ownership of Holiday Inn Hotel.
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Through this decision, we are inviting a multiplicity of suits (1) the ill-gotten wealth case now before the Sandiganbayan, (2) the dispute as to who shall manage and run the sequestered property to insure that it is not dissipated before final turnover to the Benedictos or to the Government (which, under this decision, we say is for the regular courts and not the Sandiganbayan), and (3) the inevitable appeal to us on the interpretation of the management contract and later the ownership issue in the sequestration case, assuming the hotel still exists once the decision on the management question is implemented.
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Because of the agreement between PCGG and Mr. Roberto S. Benedicto, two- thirds of the members of the Holiday Inn Board are PCGG nominees and one third are Benedicto nominees. When the decision to terminate Holiday Inn's contract was made, this was, therefore, a PCGG decision. I find it strange why the legality of that PCGG action and the authority of Holiday Inn (Philippines) to enforce a clause on its right of first refusal should be outside of the jurisdiction of Sandiganbayan. There would have been no termination of the contract which was acceptable to the parties since 1976, if PCGG did not take over the control and effective ownership of the business. Without a sequestration order, not a single PCGG official would be siting in the hotel board. There would have been no PCGG nominated Board deciding to terminate the contract. Therefore, any decision to end the management contract and to have the hotel managed by PCGG's chosen people is simply an incident of the exercise of the power to sequester. Only the Supreme Court or the Sandiganbayan who are familiar with the record of PCGG in managing sequestered companies and who can immediately act on motions involving the life and health of these companies should decide the issue on the management of the hotel. Our earlier experience with cases involving Holiday Inn and its fiscal agents confirms may dim views on the ability of Government in general and PCGG in particular to run sequestered firms with the diligence of a real owner.
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I, therefore, emphasize that PCGG, the sequestrator has taken over Holiday Inn Hotel as its effective administrator with the powers of an owner. Any challenge in its acts must be taken before the Sandiganbayan and eventually to us.
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Under the Court's decision in PCGG v. PE A, 159 SCRA 566 (1988), it is only the PCGG cases involving the illegal wealth of Mr. Marcos, his family, and cronies which come under the Sandiganbayans exclusive jurisdiction. The Court also included "all incidents arising from, incidental to or related to such cases." I dissented in Pe a and urged that certain cases such as the efforts of victims; whose properties were taken over by Marcos cronies, to recover their properties, cases which have nothing to do with cronyism or illegal acquisition of wealth, and cases of unlawful detainer, unpaid rents, etc., should go to courts. I was overruled by the majority. In his 'addendum- the ponente-then Chief Justice Teehankee - stated that, jurisdiction cannot be split; every issue involving sequestered property and its management and disposition must go to Sandiganbayan. We now have before us an issue that is of paramount importance in the way sequestered property shall be administered and operated. Yet, the Court does not want to allow the intervenor who has been operating the hotel since 1976 to come before the Sandiganbayan.
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I believe the better procedure is for us to decide the issue which led to this petition. Everything needed for a decision is in the records. The issue will come to us again in the future if we do not settle it now. But if we opt not to do so, then the issue must be decided by Sandiganbayan. It is part and parcel of the sequestration case. It should not be split from the main case.
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I, therefore, vote to GRANT the petition and to ORDER the to allow the petitioner to intervene in the main case.
SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 81835 : December 20, 1990.] 192 SCRA 469 ROMEO J. ORDOEZ, Petitioner, vs. THE HON. ALFREDO J. GUSTILO, in his capacity as presiding judge of Regional Trial Court of Cavite, Branch XVI, Cavite City, Municipality of Rosario, Cavite, former Mayor Calixto D. Enriquez of Rosario, Cavite, and Valeriano Espiritu of Mabolo, Bacoor, Cavite, Respondents.

This was the case of the reclamation contract approved by the mayor, in which baranggay captains tried to intervene saying that the reclamation contract was void and not actual reclamation took place. Since the main case involving the mayor and the assignor of the reclamation company was resolved through an amicable settlement, the complaint in intervention should likewise be dismissed because it is a ancillary action which had no leg to stand on upon the approval of the compromise agreement.
DECISION

PARAS, J.:

This is a petition for Certiorari which seeks to annul, on the ground of grave abuse of discretion, the (1) Decision dated May 24, 1985; (2) Order dated May 27, 1987 and (3) Order dated December 24, 1987, all issued in Civil Case No. N-4367 of the Regional Trial Court of Cavite, Branch XVI, Cavite City entitled "Valeriano Espiritu v. Municipality of Rosario, Province of Cavite and Hon. Calixto D. Enriquez in his capacity as Municipal Mayor of Rosario, Cavite. The pertinent background facts are: Valeriano Espiritu, herein private respondent filed on April 22, 1983, a complaint for Specific Performance and Damages, against respondents Municipality of Rosario, Cavite and Calixto Enriquez, the latter in his capacity as Mayor of said municipality, to enforce their agreement contained in a Reclamation Contract. In his complaint, Espiritu prayed that the Municipality of Rosario, together with Enriquez, be ordered to convey to him 323,996 square meters of the reclaimed portion of the foreshore land of the town. Espiritu filed the action in his capacity as the assignee of the Salinas Development Corporation (SADECO), the entity which reclaimed the area in question by virtue of a Reclamation Contract entered into between it and the Municipality of Rosario, represented by Enriquez as Municipal Mayor. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 4367 of the Regional Trial Court of Cavite, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch XVI, Cavite City.

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In its answer, defendant municipality resisted plaintiff's claim stating that it was barred by the statute of limitation; the contract has been substantially amended, modified and supplemented; and plaintiff has not performed his reciprocal obligation.
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The barangay captain of Tejeros Convention, Rosario, Cavite, herein petitioner Romeo J. Ordoez, together with seven (7) other municipal and barangay officials intervened, and in their Answer-in-Intervention, they alleged that no actual reclamation was done by the plaintiff and the area being claimed by the plaintiff came about by natural accretion; the reclamation contract between the contractor and the municipality is either void, voidable or disadvantageous to the defendant municipality. The issues having been joined the trial court set the case for the mandatory pre-trial conference on November 15, 1984. At this scheduled pre-trial conference, all the litigants including the intervenors, with their respective counsel, were present. In said conference, plaintiff Espiritu and defendant municipality, manifested to the court that having arrived at a satisfactory settlement, they would submit a compromise agreement at a latter date. On the other hand, the intervenors asked the court that they be allowed to present their evidence to prove their defense asserted in their answer-in-intervention. For the said purpose, hearing was held on December 13, 1984 wherein Ernesto Andico, vice-mayor testified. Another hearing was also held on January 24, 1985 where Vice-Governor Jose M. Ricafrente, Jr. of the Province of Cavite, and petitioner's counsel in the instant case, also testified. On May 20, 1985, the principal litigants filed with respondent trial court their promised compromise agreement. The parties agreed that 208,664 square meters of the reclaimed area were to be alloted to the plaintiff and 211,311 square meters thereof were to be given to defendant municipality. On May 24, 1985, the trial court approved the compromise agreement and rendered a decision in accordance therewith. The intervenors received their copy of the decision on September 19, 1985 thru Vice-Mayor Ernesto Andico. The decision being already final, it was duly executed to the satisfaction of the principal litigants. On October 17, 1985 and July 2, 1987 additional hearings were held where the intervenors presented three (3) additional witnesses. On June 24, 1987, the intervenors filed a motion to set aside the compromise agreement dated May 15, 1985. This was denied by the trial court, thru respondent Judge Alfredo Gustilo (the former presiding judge, Judge Alejandro Silapan having already retired) in its Order dated November 27, 1987, the pertinent portion of which reads as follows: "It appears that on May 24, 1985, the former Presiding Judge of this Court approved the said Compromise Agreement and rendered a judgment on the basis thereof. It is settled that a judgment approving a compromise agreement is final and immediately executory. (Samonte v. Samonte, 64 SCRA 524). The motion in question therefore cannot be granted as it has the effect of annulling the judgment of this Court which has already become final and, according to the plaintiff, already executed. "The Motion to Set Aside Compromise Agreement cannot even be considered as a motion for reconsideration because the Court can no longer set aside, amend or modify its judgment which has become final. Neither can the said motion be deemed as a petition for relief under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, since to set aside a judgment based upon a compromise agreement under the said Rule, the petition for relief must be filed not later than six (6) months from the date it was rendered. (Bodiongan v. Ceniza, 102 Phil. 750). The decision of the Court based on the Compromise Agreement was rendered on May 24,

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1985. On the other hand, the present Motion to Set Aside Compromise Agreement was filed only on June 24, 1987. Moreover, under Section 3 of Rule 38, the petition for relief from judgment should be filed within 60 days after the petitioner learns of the judgment sought to be set aside. The intervenor in this case received a copy of the decision based on the Compromise Agreement on September 19, 1985. If the instant motion be construed as an independent action to annul a judgment, this Court would not have jurisdiction over it inasmuch as under Section 9 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, an action for the annulment of a judgment of the Regional Trial Court falls under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals.
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Additionally, the intervenors have not convincingly shown that defendant Mayor Enriquez was not authorized to sign the Compromise Agreement in behalf of the Municipality of Rosario. On the contrary, the Mayor has in his favor the presumption that official duty has been regularly performed. (Sec. 5 [m], Rule 131, Rules of Court.) Likewise, they failed to sufficiently explain why and how the terms and conditions of the Compromise Agreement have contravened the law, morals, good customs and public policy." (pp. 41-42, Rollo). Meanwhile, on August 10, 1987, plaintiff Espiritu filed a manifestation and Motion praying that the proceedings be terminated and that the case be considered closed, which motion respondent judge granted in his Order dated December 24, 1987. The pertinent portion of the said Order reads "In support of his motion to terminate the proceedings, the plaintiff argued that further trial in this case will be an exercise in futility, considering that the issues raised by the intervenors have become moot and academic in view of the decision of the Court based on the Compromise Agreement submitted by the plaintiff and the defendants. "This contention appears to be well taken. The decision of the Court based on the Compromise Agreement has in effect resolved the issues raised by the intervenors, i.e., whether the reclamation contract entered into between the town of Rosario and the Salinas Development Corporation, the predecessors-in-interest of the plaintiff, is null and void; and whether or not there was actual reclamation done by the said entity. This is so, for the decision of the Court based on the Compromise Agreement has impliedly recognized the validity of the said reclamation contract and the fact that the tract of land divided between the plaintiff and the defendant municipality of Rosario pursuant to the Compromise Agreement was the product of the reclamation efforts undertaken by the Salinas Development Corporation, which subsequently assigned its rights to the plaintiff. "The continuation of the trial in this case will be useless. Should the intervenors fail to adduce evidence showing that the reclamation contract was null and void and that no actual reclamation was undertaken by the Salinas Development Corporation, the correctness and propriety of the decision of the Court based on the Compromise Agreement would be strengthened. Even if they would succeed in proving that the reclamation contract was null and void and that the area in question came into being through the natural action of the sea and not through the reclamation done by the Salinas Development Corporation, still the said decision could no longer be set aside, inasmuch as it has already become final and, according to the plaintiff, already executed. The continuation of the reception of the evidence for the intervenors clearly appears to serve no purpose at all. xxx "WHEREFORE, the Manifestation and Motion dated August 6, 1987, filed by the plaintiff, is granted, and the trial of this case is declared terminated and this case is considered closed. "This order modifies the pre-trial order dated November 15, 1984 of this Court, insofar as the said order has allowed the intervenors to adduce evidence in support

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of their contention that the land in question was not reclaimed by the plaintiff or his predecessor-in-interest but the product of accretion, and that the reclamation contract between the defendants and the Salinas Development Corporation was null and void.
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"SO ORDERED." (pp. 45-47, Rollo) In assailing the aforementioned Decision and Orders of the trial court, petitioner Romeo Ordoez (one of the intervenors, the other seven intervenors did not join him in this petition) raises the following issues, to wit: 1. Whether or not the lower court erred in stopping/preventing the intervenors from further presenting their evidence in support of their Answer-in-Intervention. 2. Whether or not the lower court erred in approving the compromise agreement of May 20, 1985 and rendering a decision based thereon dated May 24, 1985, inspite of the clear lack of authority on the part of respondent Calixto D. Enriquez to bind the Municipality of Rosario because of the absence of an enabling ordinance from the Sangguniang Bayan of Rosario, Cavite empowering him to enter into said compromise agreement. We answer both issues in the negative. Intervention is defined as a "proceeding in a suit or action by which a third person is permitted by the court to make himself a party, either joining plaintiff in claiming what is sought by the complaint, or uniting with defendant in resisting the claims of plaintiff, or demanding something adversely to both of them; the act or proceeding by which a third person becomes a party in a suit pending between others; the admission, by leave of court, of a person not an original party to pending legal proceedings, by which such person becomes a party thereto for the protection of some right or interest alleged by him to be affected by such proceedings." (Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. v. the Presiding Judge, RTC Manila, Branch 39, et al., G.R. No. 89909, September 21, 1990) An intervention has been regarded as "merely collateral or accessory or ancillary to the principal action and not an independent proceeding; an interlocutory proceeding dependent on or subsidiary to, the case between the original parties." (Francisco, Rules of Court, Vol. 1) The main action having ceased to exist, there is no pending proceeding whereon the intervention may be based. (Barangay Matictic v. Elbinias, 148 SCRA 83, 89). As we recently ruled in Camacho v. Hon. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 79564, December 24, 1989 "There is no question that intervention is only collateral or ancillary to the main action. Hence, it was previously ruled that the final dismissal of the principal action results in the dismissal of said ancillary action." (Emphasis supplied) A judgment approving a compromise agreement is final and immediately executory. (Samonte v. Samonte, 64 SCRA 524) All pending issues will become moot and academic once a compromise submitted by the parties is approved by the trial court. (Berenguer v. Arcangel, 149 SCRA 164) In the case at bar, the compromise agreement submitted by the plaintiff and the defendants and the decision approving the same recognized the validity of the Reclamation Contract and the fact that the tract of land involved was the result of the reclamation done by SADECO. In their answer-in-intervention, petitioner alleges that there was no reclamation undertaken by SADECO, that the land in question was the result of accretion from the sea and that the Reclamation Contract is null and void. Clearly then, the compromise agreement and the decision had in effect resolved the aforementioned issues raised by the intervenors. As aptly observed by the trial court, the continuation of the reception of the intervenors'

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evidence would serve no purpose at all. Should intervenors fail to prove that the Reclamation Contract is null and void and that no actual reclamation was made, the correctness and propriety of the decision based on the compromise agreement would be strengthened. Upon the other hand, should they succeed in proving that the contract is null and void, and that the area in question came into being through the natural action of the sea, still the decision of the lower court could no longer be set aside, inasmuch as it has already become final and executed.
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There is, therefore, no merit to the claim of petitioner that the lower court "unceremoniously terminated the proceedings" even "without the intervenors completing their evidence." (Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 140, 143, Rollo) Precisely, the court a quo gave credence and weight to the compromise agreement and denied the claims of the intervenors which were controverting the theories of the plaintiff and the defendants. In other words, due process had been accorded the intervenors. It would have been different had the court not taken into consideration the claims of the intervenors. The petitioner cannot claim ignorance of the filing of the compromise agreement. As can be gleaned from the pre-trial order, the intervenors were represented during the pre-trial conferences, where the plaintiff and the defendants intimated that they would submit a compromise agreement. The intervenors did not interpose any opposition to the manifestation of the plaintiff and defendants that they would be amicably settling their dispute. The compromise agreement was filed in court on May 20, 1985. It was approved by the lower court on May 24, 1986. Before its approval no opposition had been filed questioning its legality. The intervenors received their copy of the decision on September 19, 1985. They did not file any motion for reconsideration to suspend its finality. It was only on June 24, 1987, or after the lapse of almost two (2) years when they filed a motion to set aside the compromise agreement. It should be emphasized at this juncture that the decision based on the compromise agreement had long been executed. Anent the other issue raised whether or not respondent mayor needed another authority from the Sangguniang Bayan to sign the compromise agreement, suffice it to state that the mayor need not secure another authority from the Sandiganbayan under Section 141 (c) and (i) of the Local Government Code, which state that "Section 141. (1) The Mayor shall be the Chief Executive of the municipal government and shall exercise such powers, duties and functions as provided in this code and other laws. (2) He shall: xxx '(c) Represent the municipality in its business transactions and sign on its behalf all contracts, obligations and official documents made in accordance with law or ordinance.
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'(i) Direct the formulation of municipal development plans and programs, and once approved by the Sangunian Bayan, supervise and direct the execution and implementation thereof.'" (p. 115, Rollo) because the execution of the Compromise Agreement is but an act implementing the reclamation contract duly approved by the Sangguniang Bayan. Further, the terms and conditions of the compromise agreement are beneficial to the municipality because the share of Espiritu has been reduced considerably from the 80% agreed upon in the reclamation contract. WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the petition is DISMISSED. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera, Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ., concur.

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