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CARMEN DANAO MALANA, et al vs.

BENIGNO
TAPPALA, et al
G.R. No. 181303 17 September 2009
FACTS:
Carmen Danao Malana, et al filed a Complaint for
Reinvidicacion, Quieting of Title, and Damages against
Benigno Tappala, et al before the RTC Tuguegarao,
Branch 3.Petitioners alleged that they were the owners
of a plot of land situated in Tugegarao City covered by
TCT No. T-127937. Petitioners inherited the subject
property from Anastacio Danao, who died intestate.
During the lifetime of Anastacio, he had allowed
Consuelo Pauig, who was married to Joaquin Boncad,
to build on and occupy the southern portion of the
subject property. Anastacio and Consuelo agreed that
the latter would vacate the said land at any time that
Anastacio and his heirs might need it. Petitioners
claimed that respondents, Consuelo's family members,
continued to occupy the subject property even after
her death, already building their residences thereon
using permanent materials. Petitioners also learned
that respondents were claiming ownership over the
subject property. Averring that they already needed it,
petitioners demanded that respondents vacate the
same. Respondents, however, refused to heed
petitioners' demand. Petitioners referred their land
dispute with respondents to the Lupong
Tagapamayapa of Barangay Annafunan West for
conciliation. During the conciliation proceedings,

respondents asserted that they owned the subject


property and presented documents ostensibly
supporting their claim of ownership. According to
petitioners, respondents' documents were highly
dubious, falsified, and incapable of proving the latter's
claim of ownership over the subject property;
nevertheless, they created a cloud upon petitioners'
title to the property. Thus, petitioners were compelled
to file before the RTC a Complaint to remove such
cloud from their title. Petitioners additionally sought in
their Complaint an award against respondents for
actual damages, in the amount of P50,000.00,
resulting from the latter's baseless claim over the
subject property that did not actually belong to them,
in violation of Article 19 of the Civil Code on Human
Relations. Petitioners likewise prayed for an award
against respondents for exemplary damages, in the
amount of P50,000.00, since the latter had acted in
bad faith and resorted to unlawful means to establish
their claim over the subject property. Finally,
petitioners asked to recover from respondents
P50,000.00 as attorney's fees, because the latter's
refusal to vacate the property constrained petitioners
to engage the services of a lawyer. Before the
respondents could file their answer, the RTC issued an
order dismissing the Complaint on the ground of lack
of jurisdiction. The RTC ruled that RA No. 7691,
amending BP 129, which vests the RTC with jurisdiction
over real actions, where the assessed value of the
property involved exceeds P20,000.00. It found that
the subject property had a value of less than

P20,000.00; hence, petitioners' action to recover the


same was outside the jurisdiction of the RTC. Danao et
al then filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order
dismissing their Complaint, arguing that their principal
cause of action was the quieting of title which falls
squarely within the RTCs jurisdiction. Said Motion was
denied because it was held that quieting title was a
real action, and that said action fell within the
jurisdiction of the MTC that exercises exclusive
jurisdiction over real actions where the assessed value
of real property does not exceed P20,000.00.
Petitioners filed another pleading, simply designated
as Motion, in which they prayed that the RTC Orders
dated 4 May 2007 and 30 May 2007, dismissing their
Complaint, be set aside. They reiterated their earlier
argument that Section 1, Rule 63 of the Rules of Court
states that an action to quiet title falls under the
exclusive jurisdiction of the RTC. They also contended
that there was no obstacle to their joining the two
causes of action, i.e., quieting of title and
reivindicacion, in a single Complaint. And even if the
two causes of action could not be joined, petitioners
maintained that the misjoinder of said causes of action
was not a ground for the dismissal of their Complaint.
The RTC issued an Order dated 31 October 2007
denying petitioners' Motion. It clarified that their
Complaint was dismissed, not on the ground of
misjoinder of causes of action, but for lack of
jurisdiction.
ISSUE:

Whether or not the RTC committed grave abuse of


discretion in dismissing petitioners' Complaint for lack
of jurisdiction.
RULING:
No. An action for declaratory relief should be filed by a
person interested under a deed, a will, a contract or
other written instrument, and whose rights are
affected by a statute, an executive order, a regulation
or an ordinance. The relief sought under this remedy
includes the interpretation and determination of the
validity of the written instrument and the judicial
declaration of the parties' rights or duties thereunder.
Petitions for declaratory relief are governed by Rule 63
of the Rules of Court. The RTC correctly made a
distinction between the first and the second
paragraphs of Section 1, Rule 63 of the Rules of Court.
The first paragraph of Section 1, Rule 63 provides that:
Any person interested under a deed, will, contract or
other written instrument, or whose rights are affected
by a statute, executive order or regulation, ordinance,
or any other governmental regulation may, before
breach or violation thereof, bring an action in the
appropriate Regional Trial Court to determine any
question of construction or validity arising, and for a
declaration of his rights or duties, thereunder.
Paragraph 2 of the same specifically refers to (1) an
action for the reformation of an instrument, recognized
under Arts. 1359-1369; (2) an action to quiet title,
authorized by Arts. 476-481; and (3) an action to

consolidate ownership required by Art. 1607 in a sale


with the right to repurchase. These three remedies are
considered similar to declaratory relief because they
also result in the adjudication of the legal rights of the
litigants, often without the need of execution to carry
the judgment into effect. As to determine which court
has jurisdiction to hear the case (like the one at bar), it
is imperative to note that BP 128, Sec. 33 gives the
MTC exclusive original jurisdiction to hear civil actions
involving title to, possession of, real property, or any
interest therein where the assessed value of the
property or interest therein does not exceed Twenty
thousand pesos (P20,000.00), excluding damages. As
found by the RTC, the assessed value of the subject
property as stated in Tax Declaration No. 02-48386 is
only P410.00; therefore, petitioners' Complaint
involving title to and possession of the said property is
within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the MTC, not
the RTC. Furthermore, an action for declaratory relief
presupposes that there has been no actual breach of
the instruments involved or of rights arising
thereunder. Since the purpose of an action for
declaratory relief is to secure an authoritative
statement of the rights and obligations of the parties
under a statute, deed, or contract for their guidance in
the enforcement thereof, or compliance therewith, and
not to settle issues arising from an alleged breach
thereof, it may be entertained only before the breach
or violation of the statute, deed, or contract to which it
refers. A petition for declaratory relief gives a practical
remedy for ending controversies that have not reached

the state where another relief is immediately available;


and supplies the need for a form of action that will set
controversies at rest before they lead to a repudiation
of obligations, an invasion of rights, and a commission
of wrongs. Where the law or contract has already been
contravened prior to the filing of an action for
declaratory relief, the courts can no longer assume
jurisdiction over the action. In other words, a court has
no more jurisdiction over an action for declaratory
relief if its subject has already been infringed or
transgressed before the institution of the action. In the
present case, petitioners' Complaint for quieting of
title was filed after petitioners already demanded and
respondents refused to vacate the subject property. In
fact, said Complaint was filed only subsequent to the
latter's express claim of ownership over the subject
property before the Lupong Tagapamayapa, in direct
challenge to petitioners' title. Since petitioners averred
in the Complaint that they had already been deprived
of the possession of their property, the proper remedy
for them is the filing of an accion publiciana or an
accion reivindicatoria, not a case for declaratory relief.
An accion publiciana is a suit for the recovery of
possession, filed one year after the occurrence of the
cause of action or from the unlawful withholding of
possession of the realty. An accion reivindicatoria is a
suit that has for its object one's recovery of possession
over the real property as owner. Petitioners' Complaint
contained sufficient allegations for an accion
reivindicatoria. Jurisdiction over such an action would
depend on the value of the property involved. Given

that the subject property herein is valued only at


P410.00, then the MTC, not the RTC, has jurisdiction
over an action to recover the same. The RTC,
therefore, did not commit grave abuse of discretion in
dismissing, without prejudice, petitioners' Complaint
for lack of jurisdiction.
BRO. MIKE VELARDE vs. SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY
G.R. No. 159357 28 April 2004
FACTS:
On 28 January 2003, the Social Justice Society filed a
Petition for Declaratory Relief before RTC Manila
against Bro. Mike Velarde and other religious corespondents. SJS, a registered political party, sought
the interpretation of several constitutional provisions,
specifically on the separation of church and state; and
a declaratory judgment on the constitutionality on the
acts of religious leaders endorsing a candidate for
office, or urging their members to vote for a specific
candidate. Bro. Eddie Villanueva submitted, within the
original period [to file an Answer], a Motion to Dismiss.
Subsequently, Executive Minister Erao Manalo and
Bro. Mike Velarde, filed their Motions to Dismiss. While
His Eminence Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, filed a Comment
and Bro. Eli Soriano, filed an Answer within the
extended period and similarly prayed for the dismissal
of the Petition. All sought the dismissal of the Petition
on the common grounds that it does not state a cause
of action and that there is no justiciable controversy.
They were ordered to submit a pleading by way of

advisement, which was closely followed by another


Order denying all the Motions to Dismiss. Bro. Mike
Velarde, Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Executive Minister
Erao Manalo moved to reconsider the denial. His
Eminence Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, asked for extension to
file memorandum. Only Bro. Eli Soriano complied with
the first Order by submitting his Memorandum. The
court denied the motions to dismiss as well as the
subsequent motions for reconsideration. It further said
that it had jurisdiction over the case because in
praying for a determination as to whether the actions
imputed to the respondents are violative of Article II,
Section 6 of the Fundamental Law, [the Petition] has
raised only a question of law. It then proceeded to a
lengthy discussion of the issue raised in the Petition the separation of church and state - even tracing, to
some extent, the historical background of the
principle. Through its discourse, the court a quo opined
at some point that the "endorsement of specific
candidates in an election to any public office is a clear
violation of the separation clause.
ISSUES:
Did the Petition for Declaratory Relief raise a justiciable
controversy? Did it state a cause of action? Did
respondent have any legal standing to file the Petition
for Declaratory Relief?
RULING:
Petition of Velarde is meritorious. Sec. 1, Rule 63
provides that: Any person interested under a deed,

will, contract or other written instrument, whose rights


are affected by a statute, executive order or
regulation, ordinance, or any other governmental
regulation may, before breach or violation thereof,
bring an action in the appropriate Regional Trial Court
to determine any question of construction or validity
arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties
thereunder." Based on the foregoing, an action for
declaratory relief should be filed by a person
interested under a deed, a will, a contract or other
written instrument, and whose rights are affected by a
statute, an executive order, a regulation or an
ordinance. The purpose of the remedy is to interpret or
to determine the validity of the written instrument and
to seek a judicial declaration of the parties' rights or
duties thereunder. The essential requisites of the
action are as follows: (1) there is a justiciable
controversy; (2) the controversy is between persons
whose interests are adverse; (3) the party seeking the
relief has a legal interest in the controversy; and (4)
the issue is ripe for judicial determination. Brother
Mike Velarde contends that the SJS Petition failed to
allege, much less establish before the trial court, that
there existed a justiciable controversy or an adverse
legal interest between them; and that SJS had a legal
right that was being violated or threatened to be
violated by petitioner. On the contrary, Velarde alleges
that SJS premised its action on mere speculations,
contingent events, and hypothetical issues that had
not yet ripened into an actual controversy. Thus, its
Petition for Declaratory Relief must fail. A justiciable

controversy refers to an existing case or controversy


that is appropriate or ripe for judicial determination,
not one that is conjectural or merely anticipatory. The
SJS Petition for Declaratory Relief fell short of this test.
It miserably failed to allege an existing controversy or
dispute between the petitioner and the named
respondents therein. Further, the Petition did not
sufficiently state what specific legal right of the
petitioner was violated by the respondents therein;
and what particular act or acts of the latter were in
breach of its rights, the law or the Constitution. Indeed,
SJS merely speculated or anticipated without factual
moorings that, as religious leaders, the petitioner and
his co-respondents below had endorsed or threatened
to endorse a candidate or candidates for elective
offices; and that such actual or threatened
endorsement "will enable them to elect men to public
office who would in turn be forever beholden to their
leaders, enabling them to control the government;
and "posing a clear and present danger of serious
erosion of the people's faith in the electoral process;
and reinforcing their belief that religious leaders
determine the ultimate result of elections," which
would then be violative of the separation clause. Such
premise is highly speculative and merely theoretical,
to say the least. Clearly, it does not suffice to
constitute a justiciable controversy. The Petition does
not even allege any indication or manifest intent on
the part of any of the respondents below to champion
an electoral candidate, or to urge their so-called flock
to vote for, or not to vote for, a particular candidate. It

is a time-honored rule that sheer speculation does not


give rise to an actionable right.
ANTONIO TAMBUNTING, JR. vs. SPOUSES EMILIO
and ESPERANZA SUMABAT
G.R. No. 144101 16 September 2005
FACTS:
This case involves a dispute over a parcel of land
situated in Caloocan City which was previously
registered in the names of spouses Emilio Sumabat
and Esperanza Baello. Spouses Sumabat mortgaged
the land to Antonio Tambunting, Jr. to secure the
payment for a loan worth P7, 727.95. The spouses
debt soon ballooned to P15, 000 for their failure to pay
the monthly amortizations. Because of their failure to
pay the debt, Commercial House of Finance, Inc.
(CHFI), as assignee of the mortgage, initiated
foreclosure proceedings but did not push through with
them. It was restrained by the then Court of First
Instance (CFI) of Caloocan City, Branch 33 (now RTC
Branch 123) in a complaint for injunction filed by
respondents against petitioners. However, the case
was subsequently dismissed for failure of the parties to
appear at the hearing. Spouses Sumabat then filed an
action for declaratory relief with CFI Caloocan Branch
33, seeking a declaration as to their actual
indebtedness. Sumabat was declared in default for
failure to file within the reglamentary period. They
moved for the dismissal of the action on the ground
that its subject, the mortgage deed, had already been

breached prior to the filing of the action. The motion


was denied for having been filed out of time and
petitioners had already been declared in default. The
CFI rendered its decision. It fixed respondents' liability
at P15, 743.83 and authorized them to consign the
amount to the court for proper disposition. In
compliance with the decision, respondents consigned
the required amount. Years later, the Sumabats
received a notice of sheriffs sale indicating that the
mortgage had been foreclosed by CHFI and that there
will be an extrajudicial sale of the property. The
Sumabats thereafter instituted a civil case with a
petition for preliminary injunction, damages and
cancellation of annotation of encumbrance with prayer
for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, with
the RTC of Caloocan City, Branch 120. However, the
public auction scheduled on that same day proceeded
and the property was sold to CHFI as the highest
bidder. Respondents failed to redeem the property
during the redemption period. Hence, title to the
property was consolidated in favor of CHFI and a new
certificate of title (TCT No. 310191) was issued in its
name. In view of these developments, respondents
amended their complaint to an action for nullification
of foreclosure, sheriff's sale and consolidation of title,
reconveyance and damages. On February 11, 2000,
the RTC issued the assailed decision. It ruled that the
1981 CFI decision (fixing respondents' liability at P15,
743.83 and authorizing consignation) had long
attained finality. The mortgage was extinguished when
respondents paid their indebtedness by consigning the

amount in court. Moreover, the ten-year period within


which petitioners should have foreclosed the property
was already barred by prescription. They abused their
right to foreclose the property and exercised it in bad
faith. As a consequence, the trial court nullified the
foreclosure and extrajudicial sale of the property, as
well as the consolidation of title in CHFI's name in
1995. It then ordered the register of deeds of Caloocan
City to cancel TCT No. 310191 and to reconvey the
property to respondents. It also held petitioners liable
for moral damages, exemplary damages and
attorney's fees.
RULING:
The trial court erred when it ruled that the 1981 CFI
decision was already final and executory. An action for
declaratory relief should be filed by a person
interested under a deed, will, contract or other written
instrument, and whose rights are affected by a statute,
executive order, regulation or ordinance before breach
or violation thereof.[1] The purpose of the action is to
secure an authoritative statement of the rights and
obligations of the parties under a statute, deed,
contract, etc. for their guidance in its enforcement or
compliance and not to settle issues arising from its
alleged breach.[2] It may be entertained only before
the breach or violation of the statute, deed, contract,
etc. to which it refers.[3] Where the law or contract
has already been contravened prior to the filing of an
action for declaratory relief, the court can no longer
assume jurisdiction over the action.[4] In other words,

a court has no more jurisdiction over an action for


declaratory relief if its subject, i.e., the statute, deed,
contract, etc., has already been infringed or
transgressed before the institution of the action. Under
such circumstances, inasmuch as a cause of action has
already accrued in favor of one or the other party,
there is nothing more for the court to explain or clarify
short of a judgment or final order. Here, an infraction
of the mortgage terms had already taken place before
the filing of Civil Case No. C-7496. Thus, the CFI lacked
jurisdiction when it took cognizance of the case in
1979. The want of jurisdiction by a court over the
subject-matter renders its judgment void and a mere
nullity, and considering that a void judgment is in legal
effect no judgment, by which no rights are divested,
from which no rights can be obtained, which neither
binds nor bars any one, and under which all acts
performed and all claims flowing out of are void, and
considering further, that the decision, for want of
jurisdiction of the court, is not a decision in
contemplation of law, and, hence, can never become
executory, it follows that such a void judgment cannot
constitute a bar to another case by reason of res
judicata. Nonetheless, petition must fail. Article 1142
of the Civil Code is clear. A mortgage action prescribes
after ten years. An action to enforce a right arising
from a mortgage should be enforced within ten years
from the time the right of action accrues.[6]
Otherwise, it will be barred by prescription and the
mortgage creditor will lose his rights under the
mortgage. Here, petitioners' right of action accrued in

May 1977 when respondents defaulted in their


obligation to pay their loan amortizations. It was from
that time that the ten-year period to enforce the right
under the mortgage started to run. The period was
interrupted when respondents filed Civil Case No. C6329 sometime after May 1977 and the CFI restrained
the intended foreclosure of the property. However, the
period commenced to run again on November 9, 1977
when the case was dismissed. The respondents'
institution of Civil Case No. C-7496 in the CFI on March
16, 1979 did not interrupt the running of the ten-year
prescriptive period because, as discussed above, the
court lacked jurisdiction over the action for declaratory
relief. All proceedings therein were without legal effect.
Thus, petitioners could have enforced their right under
the mortgage, including its foreclosure, only until
November 7, 1987, the tenth year from the dismissal
of Civil Case No. C-6329. Thereafter, their right to do
so was already barred by prescription. The foreclosure
held on February 8, 1995 was therefore some seven
years too late.
AUGUSTO MANGAHAS vs. HON. VICTORIA ISABEL
PAREDES, et al
G.R. No. 157866 14 February 2007
FACTS:
This case arose from a verified complaint for ejectment
filed by Avelino Banaag before MeTC Caloocan Branch
49 against Augusto Mangahas and Marilou Verdejo.
Banaag alleged that he is the registered owner of the

disputed property identified as Lot 4, Block 21, located


in Maligaya Park Subdivision, Caloocan City, as
evidenced by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
196025 of the Registry of Deeds of Caloocan City. He
averred that petitioners constructed houses on the
property without his knowledge and consent and that
several demands were made, but the same fell on deaf
ears as petitioners refused to vacate the premises.
This prompted private respondent to refer the matter
to the Lupon Tagapayapa for conciliation. The recourse
proved futile since the parties were not able to settle
amicably. Private respondent then filed an ejectment
suit before the MeTC. Petitioners filed their answer
denying having unlawfully deprived private respondent
possession of the contested property. Petitioners
claimed that they have resided in the subject lot with
the knowledge and conformity of the true owner
thereof, Pinagkamaligan Indo-Agro Development
Corporation (PIADECO), as evidenced by a Certificate
of Occupancy signed by PIADECO's president in their
favor. On 10 July 1997, petitioners filed a Manifestation
and Motion to Suspend Proceedings on the ground that
the subject property is part of the Tala Estate and that
the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 85, in Civil Case No. Q96-29810 issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction dated
10 November 1997, enjoining the MeTCs of Quezon
City and Caloocan City from ordering the eviction and
demolition of all occupants of the Tala Estate. They
posited that the injunction issued by the Quezon City
RTC is enforceable in Caloocan City because both cities
are situated within the National Capital Region. In an

order dated 7 August 1997, the MeTC denied said


manifestation and motion. It ratiocinated that the
injunction issued by the Quezon City RTC has binding
effect only within the territorial boundaries of the said
court and since Caloocan City is not within the
territorial area of same, the injunction it issued is null
and void for lack of jurisdiction. The MeTC ruled for
private respondent., ruling that that TCT No. 196025 in
private respondent's name was an indefeasible proof
of his ownership of the lot and his inherent right to
possess the same. This title entitled private
respondent better right to possess the subject
property over petitioners' Certificate of Occupancy
executed in their favor by PIADECO. It held that it has
jurisdiction over the controversy since private
respondent filed the case within one year from the
time the demand to vacate was given to petitioners.
Petitioners appealed to the RTC, which case was
docketed as Civil Case No. C-19097. In a Decision
dated 16 November 2000, the trial court affirmed in
toto the MeTC decision. It ruled that the MeTC was
correct in denying petitioners' motion to suspend
proceedings anchored on the Writ of Preliminary
Injunction issued by the Quezon City RTC reasoning
that the writ of the latter court is limited only to its
territorial area, thus, the same has no binding effect on
the MeTC of Caloocan City. It sustained the MeTC's
ruling that the latter court has jurisdiction over the
case as the same has been filed within the
reglementary period from the date of demand to
vacate.

RULING:
It must be pointed out that petitioners' direct recourse
to this Court via petition for Declaratory Relief,
Certiorari, and Prohibition with Prayer for Provisional
Remedy is an utter disregard of the hierarchy of courts
and should have been dismissed outright. This Court's
original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari,
prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus
and injunction is not exclusive. It is shared by this
Court with the Regional Trial Courts and the Court of
Appeals. Such concurrence of jurisdiction does not give
the petitioners unbridled freedom of choice of court
forum. A direct recourse of the Supreme Court's
original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be
allowed only when there are special and important
reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the
petition. In the instant case, petitioners have not
offered any exceptional or compelling reason not to
observe the hierarchy of courts. Hence, the petition
should have been filed with the Regional Trial Court.
Equally noteworthy is petitioners' resort to this Court
through petition for declaratory relief. This action is not
among the petitions within the original jurisdiction of
the Supreme Court. Rule 63 of the Rules of Court which
deals with actions for declaratory relief, enumerates
the subject matter thereof, i.e., deed, will, contract or
other written instrument, the construction or validity of
statute or ordinance. Inasmuch as this enumeration is
exclusive, petitioners' action to declare the RTC order
denying their motion to suspend execution, not being

one of those enumerated, should warrant the outright


dismissal of this case.
CITY OF LAPU-LAPU vs. PEZA (G.R. No. 184203);
PROVINCE OF BATAAN vs. PEZA (G.R. No.
187583)
26 November 2014
FACTS:
These are consolidated petitions for review on
certiorari the City of Lapu-Lapu and the Province of
Bataan separately filed against the Philippine
Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
In Lapu-Lapu, the City assailed the CAs decision
dismissing the Citys appeal for being the wrong mode
of appeal. The City appealed the RTC Pasay Branch
111s decision finding PEZA to be exempt from paying
real property taxes. In Bataan, the Province assailed
the CAs decision and resolution granting PEZAs
petition for certiorari. CA ruled that RTC Pasay Branch
111 gravely abused its discretion in finding PEZA liable
for real property taxes in Bataan.
Facts common to both cases:
President Marcos created the PEZA by virtue of PD 66,
declaring as government policy the establishment of
export processing zones in strategic locations
throughout the Philippines. Said decree declared that
PEZA shall be a non-profit entity and exempt from
taxes.
G.R. No. 184203:

The City of Lapu-Lapu, through its Office of the


Treasurer, demanded from PEZA the amount of P32,
912,350.08 in real property taxes for the period 19921998 on PEZAs properties located in Mactan Economic
Zone. The City pointed out that no provision in the
Special Economic Zone Act specifically exempted
the PEZA from payment of real property taxes, unlike
Sec. 21, PD 66 that expressly provided for PEZAs tax
exemption. In 2002, PEZA filed a petition for
declaratory relief with RTC Pasay Branch 111, praying
that the trial court declare it exempt from the payment
of real property taxes. Pursuant to Rule 63, Sec. 3,
ROC, the OSG filed a comment on the PEZAs petition
for declaratory relief. It agreed that the PEZA is exempt
from payment of real property taxes, citing Sections 24
and 51 of the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.
Characterizing the PEZA as an agency of the national
government, the trial court ruled that the City had no
authority to tax the PEZA under Sections 133(o) and
234(a) of the Local Government Code. In a resolution,
the trial court granted the PEZAs petition for
declaratory relief and declared it exempt
from payment of real property taxes.
G.R. No. 187583:
After the City of Lapu-Lapu had demanded payment of
real property taxes from the PEZA, the Province of
Bataan followed suit. In its letter dated May 29, 2003,
the Province, through the Office of the Provincial
Treasurer, informed the PEZA that it would be sending
a real property tax billing to the PEZA. Arguing that the

PEZA is a developer of economic zones, the Province


claimed that the PEZA is liable for real property taxes
under Section 24 of the Special Economic Zone Act of
1995.
In its reply letter dated June 18, 2003, the PEZA
requested the Province to suspend the service of the
real property tax billing. It cited its petition for
declaratory relief against the City of Lapu-Lapu
pending before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 111,
Pasay City as basis. The Province argued that serving a
real property tax billing on the PEZA "would not in any
way affect [its] petition for declaratory relief before
[the Regional Trial Court] of Pasay City." Thus, in its
letter dated June 27, 2003, the Province notified the
PEZA of its real property tax liabilities for June 1, 1995
to December 31, 2002 totalling P110,549,032.55. After
having been served a tax billing, the PEZA again
requested the Province to suspend collecting its
alleged real property tax liabilities until the Regional
Trial Court of Pasay City resolves its petition for
declaratory relief. The Province ignored the PEZA's
request. On January 20, 2004, the Province served on
the PEZA a statement of unpaid real property tax for
the period from June 1995 to December 2004. The
PEZA again requested the Province to suspend
collecting its alleged real property taxes. The Province
denied the request in its letter dated January 29, 2004,
then served on the PEZA a warrant of levy covering
the PEZA's real properties located in Mariveles,
Bataan. The PEZA's subsequent requests for
suspension of collection were all denied by the

Province. The Province then served on the PEZA a


notice of delinquency in the payment of real property
taxes and a notice of sale of real property for unpaid
real property tax. The Province finally sent the PEZA a
notice of public auction of the latter's properties in
Mariveles, Bataan. On June 14, 2004, the PEZA filed a
petition for injunction with prayer for issuance of a
temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary
injunction before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City,
arguing that it is exempt from payment of real
property taxes. It added that the notice of sale issued
by the Province was void because it was not published
in a newspaper of general circulation as required by
Section 260 of the Local Government Code. The case
was raffled to Branch 115. In its order dated June 18,
2004, the trial court issued a temporary restraining
order against the Province. After the PEZA had filed a
P100,000.00 bond, the trial court issued a writ of
preliminary injunction, enjoining the Province from
selling the PEZA's real properties at public auction. On
March 3, 2006, the PEZA and Province both manifested
that each would file a memorandum after which the
case would be deemed submitted for decision. The
parties then filed their respective memoranda. In the
order dated January 31, 2007, the trial court denied
the PEZA's petition for injunction. The trial court ruled
that the PEZA is not exempt from payment of real
property taxes. According to the trial court, Sections
193 and 234 of the Local Government Code had
withdrawn the real property tax exemptions previously
granted to all persons, whether natural or juridical. As

to the tax exemptions under Section 51 of the Special


Economic Zone Act of 1995, the trial court ruled that
the provision only applies to businesses operating
within the economic zones, not to the PEZA.
Issue:
Whether or not the RTC had jurisdiction to hear the
petition of declaratory relief of PEZA.
Ruling:
The Regional Trial Court of Pasay had no
jurisdiction to hear, try and decide the PEZA#s
petition for declaratory relief against the City of
Lapu-Lapu.
We rule that the PEZA erred in availing itself of a
petition for declaratory relief against the City. The City
had already issued demand letters and real property
tax assessment against the PEZA, in violation of the
PEZAs alleged tax-exempt status under its
charter. The Special Economic Zone Act of 1995,
the subject matter of PEZAs petition for declaratory
relief, had already been breached. The trial court,
therefore, had no jurisdiction over the petition
for declaratory relief. A special civil action for
declaratory relief is filed for a judicial determination of
any question of construction or validity arising from,
and for a declaration of rights and duties, under any of
the following subject matters: a deed, will, contract or
other written instrument, statute, executive order
or regulation, ordinance, or any other governmental

regulation. However, a declaratory judgment may


issue only if there has been no breach of the
documents in question. If the contract or statute
subject matter of the action has already
been breached, the appropriate ordinary civil action
must be filed. If adequate relief is available through
another form of action or proceeding, the other action
must be preferred over an action for declaratory relief.
In the present case, RTC had no jurisdiction over the
subject matter of the action, specifically, over the
remedy sought. In sum, a petition for declaratory relief
must satisfy 6 requisites: first, the subject matter of
the controversy must be a deed, will, contract or other
written instrument, statute, executive order or
regulation, or ordinance; second, the terms of said
documents and the validity thereof are doubtful and
require judicial construction; third, there must
have been no breach of the documents in question;
fourth, there must be an actual justiciable controversy
or the ripening seeds of one between persons whose
interests are adverse; fifth, the issue must be ripe for
judicial determination; and sixth, adequate relief is not
available through other means or other forms of action
or proceeding. We rule that the PEZA erred in availing
itself of a petition for declaratory relief against the City.
The City had already issued demand letters and real
property ta1 assessment against the PEZA, in violation
of the PEZAs alleged tax-exempt status under its
charter. The Special Economic Zone Act of 1995,
the subject matter of PEZAs petition for declaratory
relief, had already been breached! The trial court,

therefore, had no jurisdiction over the petition


for declaratory relief.
The Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction over
the PEZA's petition for certiorari against the
Province of Bataan.
Appeal is the remedy "to obtain a reversal or
modification of a judgment on the merits." A judgment
on the merits is one which "determines the rights and
liabilities of the parties based on the disclosed facts,
irrespective of the formal, technical or dilatory
objections." It is not even necessary that the case
proceeded to trial. So long as the "judgment is
general" and "the parties had a full legal opportunity
to be heard on their respective claims and
contentions," the judgment is on the merits. On the
other hand, certiorari is a special civil action filed to
annul or modify a proceeding of a tribunal, board, or
officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
functions. Certiorari, which in Latin means "to be more
fully informed," was originally a remedy in the
common law. certiorari" is used in two ways. An appeal
before this court raising pure questions of law is
commenced by filing a petition
for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court. An appeal by certiorari, which continues the
proceedings commenced before the lower courts, is
filed to reverse or modify judgments or final
orders. Under the Rules, an appeal by certiorari must
be filed within 15 days from notice of the judgment or
final order, or of the denial of the appellant's motion

for new trial or reconsideration. A petition


for certiorari under Rule 65, on the other hand, is an
independent and original action filed to set aside
proceedings conducted without or in excess of
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Under the
Rules, a petition for certiorari may only be filed if there
is no appeal or any plain, speedy, or adequate remedy
in the ordinary course of law. The petition must be filed
within 60 days from notice of the judgment, order, or
resolution. Because of the longer period to file a
petition for certiorari, some litigants attempt to file
petitions for certiorari as substitutes for lost appeals
by certiorari. However, Rule 65 is clear that a petition
for certiorari will not prosper if appeal is available.
Appeal is the proper remedy even if the error, or one
of the errors, raised is grave abuse of discretion on the
part of the court rendering judgment. If appeal is
available, a petition for certiorari cannot be filed. In
this case, the trial court's decision dated January 31,
2007 is a judgment on the merits. Based on the facts
disclosed by the parties, the trial court declared the
PEZA liable to the Province of Bataan for real property
taxes. The PEZA's proper remedy against the trial
court's decision, therefore, is appeal. Since the PEZA
filed a petition for certiorari against the trial court's
decision, it availed itself of the wrong remedy. As the
Province of Bataan contended, the trial court's decision
dated January 31, 2007 "is only an error of judgment
appealable to the higher level court and may not be
corrected by filing a petition for certiorari." That the

trial court judge allegedly committed grave abuse of


discretion does not make the petition for certiorari the
correct remedy. The PEZA should have raised this
ground in an appeal filed within 15 days from notice of
the assailed resolution.
This court, "in the liberal spirit pervading the Rules of
Court and in the interest of substantial justice," has
treated petitions for certiorari as an appeal: "(1) if the
petition for certiorari was filed within the reglementary
period within which to file a petition for review
on certiorari; (2) when errors of judgment are averred;
and (3) when there is sufficient reason to justify the
relaxation of the rules." Considering that "the nature of
an action is determined by the allegations of the
complaint or the petition and the character of the relief
sought," a petition which "actually avers errors of
judgment rather than errors than that of
jurisdiction" may be considered a petition for review.
However, suspending the application of the Rules has
its disadvantages. Relaxing procedural rules may
reduce the "effective enforcement of substantive
rights," leading to "arbitrariness, caprice, despotism,
or whimsicality in the settlement of
disputes." Therefore, for this court to suspend the
application of the Rules, the accomplishment of
substantial justice must outweigh the importance of
predictability of court procedures. The PEZA's petition
for certiorari may be treated as an appeal. First, the
petition for certiorari was filed within the 15-day
reglementary period for filing an appeal. The PEZA
filed its petition for certiorari before the Court of

Appeals on October 15, 2007, which was 12 days from


October 3, 2007 when the PEZA had notice of the trial
court's order denying the motion for
reconsideration. Second, the petition
for certiorari raised errors of judgment. The PEZA
argued that the trial court erred in ruling that it is not
exempt from payment of real property taxes given
Section 21 of Presidential Decree No. 66 and Sections
11 and 51 of the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.
Third, there is sufficient reason to relax the rules given
the importance of the substantive issue presented in
this case.
However, the PEZA's petition for certiorari was filed
before the wrong court. The PEZA should have filed its
petition before the Court of Tax Appeals. The Court of
Tax Appeals has the exclusive appellate jurisdiction
over local tax cases decided by Regional Trial Courts.
Section 7, paragraph (a) (3) of Republic Act No. 1125,
as amended by Republic Act No. 9282, provides:
Sec. 7. Jurisdiction. The [Court of Tax Appeals] shall
exercise:
a. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal,
as herein provided:
3. Decisions, orders or resolutions of the Regional Trial
Courts in local tax cases originally decided or resolved
by them in the exercise of their original or appellate
jurisdiction.

CJH DEVELOPMENT vs. BIR G.R. No. 172457 24


December 2008
FACTS:
Proclamation No. 420 (the Proclamation) was issued by
then President Fidel V. Ramos to create a Special
Economic Zone (SEZ) in a portion of Camp John Hay
in Baguio City. Section 3 of the Proclamation granted to
the newly created SEZ the same incentives then
already enjoyed by the Subic SEZ. Among these
incentives are the exemption from the payment of
taxes, both local and national, for businesses located
inside the SEZ, and the operation of the SEZ as a
special customs territory providing for tax and duty
free importations of raw materials, capital and
equipment. In line with the Proclamation, the Bureau of
Internal Revenue (BIR) issued Revenue Regulations No.
12-97 while the Bureau of Customs (BOC) issued
Customs Administrative Order No. 2-98.The two
issuances provided the rules and regulations to be
implemented within the Camp John Hay
SEZ. Subsequently, however, Section 3 of the
Proclamation was declared unconstitutional in part by
the Court en banc in John Hay Peoples Alternative
Coalition v. Lim, when it held that: the second
sentence of Section 3 of Proclamation No. 420 is
hereby declared NULL and VOID and is accordingly
declared of no legal force and effect. Public
respondents are hereby enjoined from implementing
the aforesaid void provision. Proclamation No. 420,
without the invalidated portion, remains valid and

effective. The decision attained finality when the


Court en banc denied the motion for reconsideration
through a resolution dated 29 March 2005. While the
motion for reconsideration for the John Hay case was
pending with the Court, on 16 January 2004 the Office
of the City Treasurer of Baguio sent a demand letter to
CJH Development, ordering the latter to pay up its real
property taxes due declared under the names of the
Bases Conversion and Development Authority and
Camp John Hay Development Corporation totaling
P101,935,634.17 inclusive of penalties, as of January
10, 2004. The Bureau of Customs then followed suit
and demanded of CJH the payment of P71,983,753
representing the duties and taxes due on all
importations made by CJH from 1998 to 2004.
CJH questioned the retroactive application by the BOC
of the decision of this Court in John Hay vs Lim. It
claimed that the assessment was null and void
because it violated the non-retroactive principle under
the Tariff and Customs Code. The Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG) filed a motion to dismiss. The OSG
claimed that the remedy of declaratory relief is
inapplicable because an assessment is not a proper
subject of such petition. It further alleged that there
are administrative remedies which were available
to CJH.
In an Order dated 28 June 2005, the RTC dropped the
City of Baguio as a party to the case. The remaining
parties were required to submit their respective
memoranda. On 14 October 2005, the RTC rendered its
assailed order. It held that the decision in John Hay vs

Lim applies retroactively because the tax exemption


granted by Proclamation No. 420 is null and void from
the beginning. The RTC also ruled that the petition for
declaratory relief is not the appropriate remedy. A
judgment of the court cannot be the proper subject of
a petition for declaratory relief; the enumeration in
Rule 64 is exclusive. Moreover, the RTC held that
Commonwealth Act No. 55 (CA No. 55) which
proscribes the use of declaratory relief in cases where
a taxpayer questions his tax liability is still in force and
effect.
ISSUE:

law. As a substantive law that has not been repealed


by another statute, CA No. 55 is still in effect and holds
sway. Precisely, it has removed from the courts'
jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief
involving tax assessments. The Court cannot repeal,
modify or alter an act of the Legislature. Moreover, the
proper subject matter of a declaratory relief is a deed,
will, contract, or other written instrument, or the
construction or validity of statute or ordinance.
CJH hinges its petition on the demand letter or
assessment sent to it by the BOC. However, it is really
not the demand letter which is the subject matter of
the petition.

Is the remedy of declaratory relief proper in this case?


Second, can the decision in G.R. No. 119775 be
applied retroactively?

BRO. MIKE VELARDE vs. SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY

RULING:

On January 28, 2003, SJS filed a Petition for


Declaratory Relief before the RTC-Manila against
Velarde and his co-respondents Eminence, Jaime
Cardinal Sin, Executive Minister Erao Manalo, Brother
Eddie Villanueva and Brother Eliseo F. Soriano. SJS,
a registered political party, sought the interpretation of
several constitutional provisions, specifically on the
separation of church and state; and a declaratory
judgment on the constitutionality of the acts of
religious leaders endorsing a candidate for an elective
office, or urging or requiring the members of their flock
to vote for a specified candidate. The petitioner filed a
Motion to dismiss before the trial court owing to the
fact that alleged that the questioned SJS Petition did

The requisites for a petition for declaratory relief to


prosper are: (1) there must be a justiciable
controversy; (2) the controversy must be between
persons whose interests are adverse; (3) the party
seeking declaratory relief must have a legal interest in
the controversy; and (4) the issue involved must be
ripe for judicial determination. CJH alleges that CA No.
55 has already been repealed by the Rules of Court;
thus, the remedy of declaratory relief against the
assessment made by the BOC is proper. It cited the
commentaries of Moran allegedly to the effect that
declaratory relief lies against assessments made by
the BIR and BOC. CA No. 55 was never repealed by

Facts:

not state a cause of action and that there was no


justiciable controversy. The trial courts junked the
Velarde petitions under certain reasons:
1. It said that it had jurisdiction over the SJS petition,
because in praying for a determination as to whether
the actions imputed to the respondents were violative
of Article II, Section 6 of the Fundamental Law, the
petition has raised only a question of law.
2. It then proceeded to a lengthy discussion of the
issue raised in the Petition the separation of church
and state even tracing, to some extent, the historical
background of the principle. Through its discourse, the
court quipped at some point that the "endorsement of
specific candidates in an election to any public office is
a clear violation of the separation clause."
The trial courts essay did not contain a statement of
facts and a dispositive portion, however. Due to
this aberration, Velarde and Soriano filed separate
Motions for Reconsideration before the trial court
owing to these facts.
Issue:
Is the petition for declaratory relief meritorious?
Ruling:
No. The Court found nothing in the SJS Petition to
suggest that an explicit allegation of fact that SJS had
a legal right to protect. In special civil actions for
declaratory relief, the concept of cause of action under

ordinary civil actions does not strictly apply. The


reason for this exception is that an action for
declaratory relief presupposes that there has been no
actual breach of the instruments involved or of rights
arising thereunder. Nevertheless, a breach or
violation should be impending, imminent or at
least threatened. The justices could only infer that
the interest from its allegation was its mention of its
(SJS) thousands of members who are citizenstaxpayers-registered voters and who are keenly
interested. Aside from the fact that this general
averment did not constitute a legal right or interest,
the courts inferred interest too vague and speculative
in character. Rules require that the interest must
be material to the issue and affected by the
questioned act or instrument. To bolster its point,
the SJS cited the Corpus Juris Secundum and submitted
that the plaintiff in a declaratory judgment action does
not seek to enforce a claim against the defendant, but
sought a judicial declaration of the rights of the parties
for the purpose of guiding their future conduct, and
the essential distinction between a declaratory
judgment action and the usual action is that no
actual wrong need have been committed or loss
have occurred in order to sustain the
declaratory judgment action, although there
must be no uncertainty that the loss will occur
or that the asserted rights will be invaded.
During the Oral Argument, Velarde and co-respondents
strongly asserted that they had not in any way
engaged or intended to participate in partisan politics.

Not even the alleged proximity of the elections to the


time the Petition was filed below would have provided
the certainty that it had a legal right that would be
jeopardized or violated by any of those respondents.
Even if the SJS petition asserted a legal right, there
was nevertheless no certainty that such right would be
invaded by the said respondents.

FELIPE B. OLLADA, etc. vs. CENTRAL BANK OF


THE PHILIPPINES
G.R. No. L-11357 31 May 1962
FACTS:

Ollada, a CPA authorized to practice accounting at


Central Bank filed in the CFI a petition for declaratoy
relief after his petition for a writ of prelim injunction
had been dismissed in the CFI assailing the
enforcement of the Bank with two requirements for
CPAs, re: that the applicant CPA should sign a
statement under oath and that, upon accreditation, a
CPA would be governed by the rules and regulations of
the Central Bank and not by those of the Philippine
Institute of Accountants. He alleges that because of
these requirements he had suffered serious injury, and
that such enforcement has resulted in the unlawful
restraint in the practice of CPAs in the Office of the
Central Bank. The CFI dismissed the petition.
ISSUE:
Whether or not a petition for declaratory relief is
proper.
RULING:
No. The complaint for declaratory relief will not prosper
if filed after a contract, statute or right has been
breached or violated. In the present case such is
precisely the situation arising from the facts alleged in
the petition for declaratory relief. As vigorously
claimed by petitioner himself, respondent had already
invaded or violated his right and caused him injury
all these giving him a complete cause of action
enforceable in an appropriate ordinary civil action or
proceeding. An action for declaratory relief should be
filed before there has been a breach of a contract,

statutes or right, and that it is sufficient to bar such


action, that there had been a breach which would
constitute actionable violation. The rule is that an
action for Declaratory Relief is proper only if adequate
relief is not available through the means of other
existing forms of action or proceeding.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. HERMINIO
ROQUE
G.R. No. 204603 24 September 2013
FACTS:
Herminio Roque, et al filed a petition before RTC
Quezon City Branch 92 assailing the constitutionality
of the following sections of RA 9372 (Human Security
Act): (a) Section 3,for being void for vagueness; (b)
Section 7, for violating the right to privacy of
communication and due process and the privileged
nature of priest-penitent relationships; (c)Section
18, for violating due process, the prohibition against ex
post facto laws or bills of attainder, the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, and the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as for
contradicting Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended; (d) Section 26, for violating the right to
travel; and (e) Section 27, for violating the prohibition
against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Petitioners moved to suspend the proceedings,
averring that certain petitions (SC petitions) raising the
issue of RA 9372s constitutionality have been lodged
before the Court. The said motion was granted. The

Southern Hemisphere cases which were pending at the


time Roque filed his petition were later on decided
upheld the constitutionality of the Human Security Act
according to petitioners. Respondents countered that
the constitutionality of the Human Security Act was not
resolved in the cited case and that they properly filed
for declaratory relief. The RTC issued an Order which
denied the subject motion to dismiss, finding that the
Court did not pass upon the constitutionality of RA
9372 and that private respondents petition for
declaratory relief was properly filed. Petitioners moved
for reconsideration which was, however, denied by the
RTC in an Order dated July 31, 2012. The RTC observed
that private respondents have personal and
substantial interests in the case and that it would be
illogical to await the adverse consequences of the
aforesaid laws implementation considering that the
case is of paramount impact to the Filipino people.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the requirements for declaratory relief
have been satisfied in this case.
RULING:
No. The following are requisites for a petition of
declaratory relief: (1) the subject matter of the
controversy must be a deed, will, contract or other
written instrument, statute, executive order or
regulation, or ordinance; (2) the terms of said
documents and the validity thereof are doubtful and
require judicial construction; (3) there must have been

no breach of the documents in question; (4) there


must be an actual justiciable controversy or the
"ripening seeds" of one between persons whose
interests are adverse; (5) the issue must be ripe for
judicial determination; and (6) adequate relief is not
available through other means or other forms of action
or proceeding. Based on a judicious review of the
records, the Court observes that while the first, second,
and third requirements appear to exist in this case, the
fourth, fifth, and sixth requirements, however, remain
wanting. As to the fourth requisite, there is serious
doubt that an actual justiciable controversy or the
"ripening seeds" of one exists in this case. Pertinently,
a justiciable controversy refers to an existing case or
controversy that is appropriate or ripe for judicial
determination, not one that is conjectural or merely
anticipatory. Corollary thereto, by "ripening seeds" it is
meant, not that sufficient accrued facts may be
dispensed with, but that a dispute may be tried at its
inception before it has accumulated the asperity,
distemper, animosity, passion, and violence of a full
blown battle that looms ahead. The concept describes
a state of facts indicating imminent and inevitable
litigation provided that the issue is not settled and
stabilized by tranquilizing declaration.
A perusal of private respondents petition for
declaratory relief would show that they have failed to
demonstrate how they are left to sustain or are in
immediate danger to sustain some direct injury as a
result of the enforcement of the assailed provisions of
RA 9372. Not far removed from the factual milieu in

the Southern Hemisphere cases, private respondents


only assert general interests as citizens, and taxpayers
and infractions which the government could
prospectively commit if the enforcement of the said
law would remain untrammeled. As their petition
would disclose, private respondents fear of
prosecution was solely based on remarks of certain
government officials which were addressed to the
general public. They, however, failed to show how
these remarks tended towards any prosecutorial or
governmental action geared towards the
implementation of RA 9372 against them. In other
words, there was no particular, real or imminent threat
to any of them. The possibility of abuse in the
implementation of RA 9372 does not avail to take the
present petitions out of the realm of the surreal and
merely imagined. Such possibility is not peculiar to RA
9372 since the exercise of any power granted by law
may be abused. Allegations of abuse must be
anchored on real events before courts may step in to
settle actual controversies involving rights which are
legally demandable and enforceable. Thus, in the
same light that the Court dismissed the SC petitions in
the Southern Hemisphere cases on the basis of, among
others, lack of actual justiciable controversy (or the
ripening seeds of one), the RTC should have dismissed
private respondents petition for declaratory relief all
the same. As to the fifth requisite for an action for
declaratory relief, neither can it be inferred that the
controversy at hand is ripe for adjudication since the
possibility of abuse, based on the above-discussed

allegations in private respondents petition, remain


highly-speculative and merely theorized.1wphi1 It is
well-settled that a question is ripe for adjudication
when the act being challenged has had a direct
adverse effect on the individual challenging it. This
private respondents failed to demonstrate in the case
at bar. Finally, as regards the sixth requisite, the Court
finds it irrelevant to proceed with a discussion on the
availability of adequate reliefs since no impending
threat or injury to the private respondents exists in the
first place. All told, in view of the absence of the fourth
and fifth requisites for an action for declaratory relief,
as well as the irrelevance of the sixth requisite, private
respondents petition for declaratory relief should have
been dismissed. Thus, by giving due course to the
same, it cannot be gainsaid that the RTC gravely
abused its discretion.

TEODORO TANDA vs. NARCISO ALDAYA

which is disputed by Tanda. After the two motions for


reconsideration filed by Tanda were denied, the
decision became final and executory and the record
was returned to the court of origin; but, on a initiated
the present case for declaratory relief. Considering
that this action is purposeless because, while
outwardly its aim is to seek a declaratory relief on
certain matters but in effect its purpose is to nullify the
judgment rendered in the previous case which was
affirmed by the Supreme Court (G. R. No. L-3278).
Aldaya filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the
case states no cause of action. In the
meantime, Aldaya moved to withdraw the original of
Title No. 114 which was presented in the case as
evidence in order that his ownership may be
consolidated and a new title issued in his name it
appearing that case has been finally terminated. The
trial court, acting on the two motions, entered an order
granting the motion to dismiss and allowing the
withdrawal of the original title as already adverted to
in the early part of this decision.

FACTS:
Teodoro Tanda instituted in CFI Cavite and action for
the annulment of a contract of sale with pacto de retro
in which said contract was declared valid and absolved
Narciso Aldaya of the complaint. After a motion to set
aside judgment and a motion for new trial filed
by Tanda were denied by the trial court, Tanda brought
the case on appeal to the Supreme Court. The
Supreme Court affirmed the decision appealed from
particularly with regard to the validity of the contract

RULING:
A court decision cannot be considered as a written
instrument within the meaning of Rule 66. This is so
because the Rules of Court already provide for the
ways by which an ambiguous or doubtful decision may
be corrected or clarified without need of resorting to
the expedient prescribed by Rule 66. Thus, if a party is

not agreeable to a decision either on questions of law


or of fact, he may file with the trial court a motion for
reconsideration or a new trial in order that the defect
may be corrected (Section 1, Rule 37). The same
remedy may be pursued by a party with regard to a
decision of the Court of Appeals or of the Supreme
Court (section 1, Rule 54, section 1, Rule 55, in
connection with section 1, Rule 58). A party may even
seek relief from a judgment or order of an inferior
court on the ground of fraud, accident, mistake or
excusable negligence if he avails of that remedy within
the terms prescribed by section 1, Rule 38. Apparently,
Tanda has already availed of some of these legal
remedies but that he was denied relief because his
claim was found unmeritorious.
PDIC vs. CA
FACTS:
Jose Abad, et al had 71 certificates of time deposit
denominated as Golden Time Deposits with an
aggregate face value of P1,115,889.96. The Monetary
Board (MB) of the Central Bank of the
Philippines issued Resolution 505 in 1987 prohibiting
Manila Banking Corporation to do business in the
Philippines, and placing its assets and affairs under
receivership. The Resolution, however, was not served
on MBC until Tuesday the following week, or on May
26, 1987, when the designated Receiver took over. the
next banking day following the issuance of the MB
Resolution, respondent Jose Abad was at the MBC at

9:00 a.m. for the purpose of pre-terminating the 71


aforementioned GTDs and re-depositing the fund
represented thereby into 28 new GTDs in
denominations of P40,000.00 or less under the names
of herein respondents individually or jointly with each
other. Of the 28 new GTDs, Jose Abad pre-terminated 8
and withdrew the value thereof in the total amount
of P320,000.00. Respondents thereafter filed their
claims with the PDIC for the payment of the remaining
20 insured GTDs. On February 11, 1988, PDIC paid
respondents the value of 3 claims in the total amount
of P120,000.00. PDIC, however, withheld payment of
the 17 remaining claims after Washington Solidum,
Deputy Receiver of MBC-Iloilo, submitted a report to
the PDIC that there was massive conversion and
substitution of trust and deposit accounts on May 25,
1987 at MBC-Iloilo. Because of the report, PDIC
entertained serious reservation in recognizing
respondents GTDs as deposit liabilities of MBC-Iloilo.
Thus, on August 30, 1991, it filed a petition for
declaratory relief against respondents with the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iloilo City, for a judicial
declaration determination of the insurability of
respondents GTDs at MBC-Iloilo. In their Answer filed
on October 24, 1991 and Amended Answer filed on
January 9, 1992, respondents set up a counterclaim
against PDIC whereby they asked for payment of
their insured deposits. In its Decision of February 22,
1994, Branch 30 of the Iloilo RTC declared the 20 GTDs
of respondents to be deposit liabilities of MBC, hence,
are liabilities of PDIC as statutory insurer. In its second

assignment of error, petitioner posits that the trial


court erred in ordering it to pay the balance of the
deposit insurance to respondents, maintaining that the
instant petition stemmed from a petition for
declaratory relief which does not essentially entail an
executory process, and the only relief that should have
been granted by the trial court is a declaration of the
parties rights and duties. As such, petitioner continues,
no order of payment may arise from the case as this is
beyond the office of declaratory relief proceedings.
RULING:
Without doubt, a petition for declaratory relief does not
essentially entail an executory process. There is
nothing in its nature, however, that prohibits a
counterclaim from being set-up in the same action.
Now, there is nothing in the nature of a special civil
action for declaratory relief that proscribes the filing of
a counterclaim based on the same transaction, deed or
contract subject of the complaint. A special civil action
is after all not essentially different from an ordinary
civil action, which is generally governed by Rules 1 to
56 of the Rules of Court, except that the former deals
with a special subject matter which makes necessary
some special regulation. But the identity between their
fundamental nature is such that the same
rules governing ordinary civil suits may and do apply
to special civil actions if not inconsistent with or if they
may serve to supplement the provisions of the peculiar
rules governing special civil actions.

MATALIN COCONUT Co. vs. MUNICIPAL COUNCIL


OF MALABANG, LANAO DEL SUR
FACTS:
The Municipal Council of Malabang, Lanao del Sur,
invoking the authority of Section 2 of Republic Act No.
2264, otherwise known as the Local Autonomy Act,
enacted Municipal Ordinance No. 45-46. The ordinance
made it unlawful for any person, company or group of
persons "to ship out of the Municipality of Malabang,
cassava starch or flour without paying to the Municipal
Treasurer or his authorized representatives the
corresponding fee fixed by (the) ordinance." It imposed
a "police inspection fee" of P.30 per sack of cassava
starch or flour, which shall be paid by the shipper
before the same is transported or shipped outside the
municipality. Any person or company or group of
individuals violating the ordinance "is liable to a fine of
not less than P100.00, but not more than P1,000.00,
and to pay P1.00 for every sack of flour being illegally
shipped outside the municipality, or to suffer
imprisonment of 20 days, or both, in the discretion of
the court. The validity of the ordinance was challenged
by the Matalin Coconut, Inc. in a petition for
declaratory relief filed with the then Court of First
Instance of Lanao del Sur against the Municipal

Council, the Municipal Mayor and the Municipal


Treasurer of Malabang, Lanao del Sur. Alleging among
others that the ordinance is not only ultra vires, being
violative of Republic Act No. 2264, but also
unreasonable, oppressive and confiscatory, the
petitioner prayed that the ordinance be declared null
and void ab initio, and that the respondent Municipal
Treasurer be ordered to refund the amounts paid by
petitioner under the ordinance. The petitioner also
prayed that during the pendency of the action, a
preliminary injunction be issued enjoining the
respondents from enforcing the ordinance. The
application for preliminary injunction, however, was
denied by the trial court; instead respondent Municipal
Treasurer was ordered to allow payment of the taxes
imposed by the ordinance under protest. Purakan
Plantation Company intervened in the action claiming
that it was also adversely affected by the ordinance.
The intervenor alleged that while its cassava flour
factory was situated in Balabagan, Lanao del Sur, it
had to transport the cassava starch and flour it
produced to the seashore through the Municipality of
Malabang for loading in coastwise vessels; that the
effect of the enactment of Ordinance No. 45-46, is that
intervenor had to refrain from transporting its products
through the Municipality of Malabang in order to ship
them by sea to other places. After trial, the Court a
quo rendered a decision declaring the municipal
ordinance in question null and void; ordering the
respondent Municipal Treasurer to refund to the
petitioner the payments it made under the said

ordinance from September 27, 1966 to May 2, 1967,


amounting to P 25,500.00, as well as all payments
made subsequently thereafter; and enjoining and
prohibiting the respondents, their agents or deputies,
from collecting the tax of P.30 per bag on the cassava
flour or starch belonging to intervenor, Purakan
Plantation Company, manufactured or milled in the
Municipality of Balabagan, but shipped out through the
Municipality of Malabang. After the promulgation of the
decision, the Trial Court issued a writ of preliminary
mandatory injunction, upon motion of petitioner,
requiring the respondent Municipal Treasurer to
deposit with the Philippine National Bank, Iligan
Branch, in the name of the Municipality of Malabang,
whatever amounts the petitioner had already paid or
shall pay pursuant to the ordinance in question up to
and until final termination of the case; the deposit was
not to be withdrawn from the said bank without any
order from the court. On motion for reconsideration by
respondents, the writ was subsequently modified on
July 20, 1967, to require the deposit only of amounts
paid from the effectivity of the writ up to and until the
final termination of the suit.
The respondents-appellants maintain that it was error
for the trial court, in an action for declaratory relief, to
order the refund to petitioner-appellee of the amounts
paid by the latter under the municipal ordinance in
question. It is the contention of respondents-appellants
that in an action for declaratory relief, all the court can
do is to construe the validity of the ordinance in
question and declare the rights of those affected

thereby. The court cannot declare the ordinance illegal


and at the same time order the refund to petitioner of
the amounts paid under the ordinance, without
requiring petitioner to file an ordinary action to claim
the refund after the declaratory relief judgment has
become final. Respondents maintain that under Rule
64 of the Rules of Court, the court may advise the
parties to file the proper pleadings and convert the
hearing into an ordinary action, which was not done in
this case.
RULING:
Respondents contention is unmeritorious. Under Sec.
6 of Rule 64, the action for declaratory relief may be
converted into an ordinary action and the parties
allowed to file such pleadings as may be necessary or
proper, if before the final termination of the case "a
breach or violation of an... ordinance, should take
place." In the present case, no breach or violation of
the ordinance occurred. The petitioner decided to pay
"under protest" the fees imposed by the ordinance.
Such payment did not affect the case; the declaratory
relief action was still proper because the applicability
of the ordinance to future transactions still remained to
be resolved, although the matter could also be
threshed out in an ordinary suit for the recovery of
taxes paid. In its petition for declaratory relief,
petitioner-appellee alleged that by reason of the
enforcement of the municipal ordinance by
respondents it was forced to pay under protest the
fees imposed pursuant to the said ordinance, and

accordingly, one of the reliefs prayed for by the


petitioner was that the respondents be ordered to
refund all the amounts it paid to respondent Municipal
Treasurer during the pendency of the case. The
inclusion of said allegation and prayer in the petition
was not objected to by the respondents in their
answer. During the trial, evidence of the payments
made by the petitioner was introduced. Respondents
were thus fully aware of the petitioner's claim for
refund and of what would happen if the ordinance
were to be declared invalid by the court.
DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT vs.
MANILAS FINEST RETIREES ASSOCIATION
FACTS:
In 1975, PD 765 was enacted thereby creating the
Integrated National Police as a component of the
Philippine Constabulary. Two years later, PD 1184 was
issued to institutionalize the INP and promote career
development therein. In 1990, RA 6795 (PNP Law) was
enacted, thereby creating the Philippine National
Police which was to initially consist of INP members as
well as officers and men of the PC. Eight years later,
the PNP Law was amended by RA 8551 (PNP Reform
Act). Among other things, the amendatory law
reengineered the retirement scheme in the police
organization. Relevantly, PNP personnel, under the
new law, stood to collect more retirement benefits
than what INP members of equivalent rank, who had
retired under the INP Law, received. Hence, on June 3,

2002, in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, all INP


retirees, spearheaded by the Manilas Finest Retirees
Association, Inc., or the MFRAI (hereinafter collectively
referred to as the INP Retirees), filed a petition for
declaratory relief, thereunder impleading, as
respondents, the Department of Budget and
Management (DBM), the PNP, the National Police
Commission (NAPOLCOM), the Civil Service
Commission (CSC) and the Government Service
Insurance System (GSIS). Docketed in the RTC as Civil
Case No. 02-103702, which was raffled to Branch 22
thereof, the petition alleged in gist that INP retirees
were equally situated as the PNP retirees but whose
retirement benefits prior to the enactment of R.A. No.
6975, as amended by R.A. No. 8551, were
unconscionably and arbitrarily excepted from the
higher rates and adjusted benefits accorded to the PNP
retirees. The GSIS moved to dismiss the petition on
grounds of lack of jurisdiction and cause of action. On
the other hand, the CSC, DBM, NAPOLCOM and PNP, in
their respective answers, asserted that the petitioners
could not claim the more generous retirement benefits
under R.A. No. 6975 because at no time did they
become PNP members, having retired prior to the
enactment of said law. The trial court held that R.A. No.
6975, as amended, did not abolish the INP but merely
provided for the absorption of its police functions by
the PNP, and accordingly rendered judgment for the
INP retirees.

RULING:
In a further bid to scuttle respondents entitlement to
the desired retirement benefits, the petitioners fault
the trial court for ordering the immediate adjustments
of the respondents retirement benefits when the basic
petition filed before it was one for declaratory relief. To
the petitioners, such petition does not essentially
entail an executory process, the only relief proper
under that setting being a declaration of the parties
rights and duties. Petitioners above posture is valid to
a point. However, the execution of judgments in a
petition for declaratory relief is not necessarily
indefensible.
PDIC vs. CA: There is nothing in the nature of a
special civil action for declaratory relief that proscribes
the filing of a counterclaim based on the same
transaction, deed or contract subject of the complaint.
A special civil action is after all not essentially different
from an ordinary civil action, which is generally
governed by Rules 1 to 56 of the Rules of Court, except
that the former deals with a special subject matter
which makes necessary some special regulation. But
the identity between their fundamental nature is such
that the same rules governing ordinary civil suits may
and do apply to special civil actions if not inconsistent
with or if they may serve to supplement the provisions
of the peculiar rules governing special civil actions.

Matalin Coconut Co. vs. Municipality of Malabang: The


action for declaratory relief may be converted into an
ordinary action and the parties allowed to file such
pleadings as may be necessary or proper, if before the
final termination of the case "a breach or violation of
an ordinance, should take place." In the present case,
no breach or violation of the ordinance occurred. The
petitioner decided to pay "under protest" the fees
imposed by the ordinance. Such payment did not
affect the case; the declaratory relief action was still
proper because the applicability of the ordinance to
future transactions still remained to be resolved,
although the matter could also be threshed out in an
ordinary suit for the recovery of taxes paid. In its
petition for declaratory relief, petitionerappellee alleged that by reason of the enforcement of
the municipal ordinance by respondents it was forced
to pay under protest the fees imposed pursuant to the
said ordinance, and accordingly, one of
the reliefs prayed for by the petitioner was that the
respondents be ordered to refund all the amounts it
paid to respondent Municipal Treasurer during
the pendency of the case.
The Court sees no reason for treating this case
differently from PDIC and Matalin. This disposition
becomes all the more appropriate considering
that the respondents, as petitioners in the RTC,
pleaded for the immediate adjustment of their
retirement benefits which, significantly, the herein
petitioners, as respondents in the same court, did not
object to. Being aware of said prayer, the petitioners

then already knew the logical consequence if, as it


turned out, a declaratory judgment is rendered in the
respondents favor.
FRANCISCO CRISOLOGO vs. ISAAC CENTENO
FACTS:
Spouses Francisco Crisologo and Consolacin
Florentino filed with CFI Ilocos Sur an ex parte petition
for consolidation of ownership in them as vendees a
retro of two parcels of land situated at Barrio Lapting,
Lapog, Ilocos Sur, on the ground that the vendors, the
spouses Isaac Centeno and Asuncion Aquino, have
failed to exercise their right of repurchase within the
periods stipulated in the two contracts of sale
with pacto de retro. After hearing, the trial court
granted the petition of the Crisologos. The vendors,
afterwards, filed a motion to set aside the order and
the trial court granted it on the ground that the
movants had not been duly notified of the hearing. On
motion by the petitioners to set aside the Order of July
27, 1956, on the ground that the vendors had been
notified by registered mail of the hearing, the lower
court, by its Order of February 27, 1957, granted the
motion and set aside the Order of July 27, 1956. The
vendors appealed the Order of February 27, 1957, to
the Court of Appeals. On June 27, 1958, the Court of
Appeals rendered judgment in the appeal setting aside
the lower court's Order of February 27, 1957, after
holding that the vendors had not been legally notified
of the petition and the hearing, and that the Order of

January 28, 1955, was a patent nullity. The Court of


Appeals remanded the record to the lower court for
reopening and for further proceedings. Accordingly,
after the vendors had been duly summoned as
respondents, they filed their answer alleging that the
two contracts of sale with pacto de retro were really
intended as equitable mortgages as securities for
usurious loans. After trial, the lower court rendered its
decision on October 26, 1960, holding that the
Centenos' allegation was substantiated by their
evidence.
RULING:
The Crisologos contend that the lower court erred in
not finding that the Order of January 28, 1955, was
valid, final and executory and that all proceedings
thereafter taken, including the vendors' appeal to the
Court of Appeals and its decision rendered in said
appeal setting aside the Order of February 27, 1957,
and remanding the case reopening and further
proceedings, as well as the proceedings thereafter
taken including the decision of October 26, 1960, are
null and void. The contention is untenable. Article
1607 of the Civil Code which provides that: In case of
real property, the consolidation of ownership in the
vendee by virtue of the failure of the vendor to comply
with the provisions of article 1616 shall not be
recorded in the Registry of Property without a judicial
order, after the vendor has been duly heard
contemplates a contentious proceeding wherein the
vendor a retro must be named respondent in the

caption and title of the petition for consolidation of


ownership and has been duly heard. In the instant
case, the caption and title of the petition for
consolidation of ownership named the vendees as
petitioners, but did not name the vendors as
respondents, and said vendors were not duly
summoned and heard. In view thereof, the Order of
January 28, 1955, was a patent nullity having been
issued contrary to the contentious proceeding
contemplated in Article 1607 of the Civil Code, and the
lower court not having acquired jurisdiction over the
persons of the vendors.
OSCAR RAMOS vs. CA, ADELAIDA RAMOS and
LAZARO E. MENESES
FACTS:
Adelaida Ramos borrowed from her brother Oscar the
amounts of P5,000 and P9,000 in connection with her
business trtansaction with Flor Ramiro, Fred Naboa and
Atty. Ruperto Sarandi involving the recovery of a parcel
of land in Tenejeros, Malabon. The said amount was
used to finance the trip to Hawaii of Ramiro, Naboa
and Atty. Sarandi. As security for said loan, private
respondent Adelaida Ramos executed in favor of
petitioners two (2) deeds of conditional sale dated May
27, 1959 and August 30, 1959, of her rights, shares,
interests and participation respectively over Lot No.
4033 covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 5125
registered in the name of their parents, Valente Ramos
and Margarita Denoga, now deceased; and Lot No.

4221 covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 10788


then registered in the names of Socorro Ramos,
Josefina Ramos and Adelaida Ramos, said properties
being of the Cadastral Survey of Paniqui, Tarlac. Upon
the failure of said private respondent as vendor a retro
to exercise her right of repurchase within the
redemption period, aforenamed petitioner filed a
petition for consolidation and approval of the
conditional sale of Lot No. 4033 in Special Proceedings
No. 5174, entitled "Intestate Estate of the late
Margarita Denoga," and a petition for approval of the
pacto de retro sale of Lot No. 4221 in the former Court
of First Instance of Tarlac acting as a cadastral court. In
1960, the probate court declared that the deed of
conditional sale executed by Adelaida in favor of Oscar
and his wife conveying to the latter by way of pacto de
retro sale whatever rights and interests the former
may have in Lot No. 4033 of the Cadastral Survey of
Paniqui approved. Private respondents had been and
remained in possession of these properties until
sometime in 1964 when petitioner took possession
thereof. On February 28, 1968, private respondent filed
Civil Case No. 4168 with the then Court of First
Instance of Tarlac for declaration of nullity of orders,
reformation of instrument, recovery of possession with
preliminary injunction and damages. The complaint
therein alleged that the deeds of conditional sale,
dated May 27, 1959 and August 30, 1959, are mere
mortgages and were vitiated by misrepresentation,
fraud and undue influence and that the orders dated
January 22, 1960 and April 18, 1960, respectively

issued by the probate and cadastral courts, were null


and void for lack of jurisdiction. Petitioners, in their
answer to the complaint, specifically deny the
allegations of fraud and misrepresentation and
interposed as defense the fact that the questioned
conditional sales of May 27, 1959 and August 30, 1959
were voluntarily executed by private respondent
Adelaida Ramos and truly expressed the intention of
the parties; that the action, if any, has long prescribed;
that the questioned orders of January 22, 1960 and
April 18, 1960, approving the consolidation of
ownership of the lands in question in favor of
petitioner were within the jurisdiction of the lower
court, in its capacity as a probate court insofar as Lot
No. 4033 is concerned, and acting as a cadastral court
with respect to Lot No. 4221; and that said lands
subject of the conditional sales were in custodia legis
in connection with the settlement of the properties of
the late Margarita Denoga, the predecessor in interest
of both petitioners and private respondents. On
January 7, 1970, the court below issued a pre-trial
order to the effect that petitioners admit the
genuineness and due execution of the promissory
notes marked as Exhibits "F" and "F-1 " and that the
principal triable issue is whether or not the documents
purporting to be deeds of conditional sale, marked as
Exhibits "B", "B-1" and "G" were in fact intended to be
equitable mortgages. In its order dated February 17,
1971, the trial court also declared: "Both parties
agreed and manifested in open court the principal

obligation in the transaction reflected in Exhibits 'B'


and 'B-l' and 'G' is one of loan.
RULING:
Petition is devoid of merit. The same jurisdictional flaw
obtains in the order of consolidation issued by the
cadastral court. The court of first instance or the
regional trial court, acting as cadastral court, acts with
limited competence. It has no jurisdiction to take
cognizance of an action for consolidation of ownership,
much less to issue an order to that effect, such action
must have been filed in the former court of first
instance, now in the regional trial court, in the exercise
of its general jurisdiction. That remedy, and the
procedure therefor, is now governed by Rule 64 of the
Rules of Court as a special civil action cognizable by
the regional trial court in the exercise of original
general jurisdiction.
Antecedent thereto, Article 1607 of the Civil Code
provided for consolidation as follows:
In case of real property, the consolidation of ownership
in the vendee by virtue of the failure of the vendor to
comply with the provisions of article 1616 shall not be
recorded in the Registry of Property without a judicial
order, after the vendor has been duly heard.
Hence in Crisologo, et al. vs. Centeno, et al., we ruled
that said Article 1607 contemplates a contentious
proceeding wherein the vendor a retro must be named
respondent in the caption and title of the petition for

consolidation of ownership and duly summoned and


heard. An order granting the vendee's petition for
consolidation of ownership, without the vendor a retro
being named as respondent, summoned and heard, is
a patent nullity for want of jurisdiction of the court
over the person of the latter. The questioned order of
consolidation issued by the cadastral court, being void
for lack of jurisdiction, is in contemplation of law nonexistent and may be wholly disregarded. Such
judgment may be assailed any time, either directly or
collaterally, by means of a separate action or by
resisting such judgment in any action or proceeding
whenever it is invoked. It is not necessary to take any
step to vacate or avoid a void judgment; it may simply
be ignored.
REPUBLIC vs. BATUGIAS
FACTS:
Chinese born Azucena Saavedra Batugias filed a
petition for Naturalization before the RTC of
Zamboanga del Sur. Azucena alleged in her Petition
that she believes in the principles underlying the
Philippine Constitution; that she has conducted herself
in a proper and irreproachable manner during the
period of her stay in the Philippines, as well as in her
relations with the constituted Government and with
the community in which she is living; that she has
mingled socially with the Filipinos and has evinced a
sincere desire to learn and embrace their customs,
traditions, and ideals; that she has all the

qualifications required under Section 2 and none of the


disqualifications enumerated in Section 4 of
Commonwealth Act No. 473 (CA 473);6 that she is not
opposed to organized government nor is affiliated with
any association or group of persons that uphold and
teach doctrines opposing all organized governments;
that she is not defending or teaching the necessity or
propriety of violence, personal assault, or
assassination for the success and predominance of
mens ideas; that she is neither a polygamist nor
believes in polygamy; that the nation of which she is a
subject is not at war with the Philippines; that she
intends in good faith to become a citizen of the
Philippines and to renounce absolutely and forever all
allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate,
state or sovereignty, and particularly to China; and
that she will reside continuously in the Philippines from
the time of the filing of her Petition up to the time of
her naturalization. After all the jurisdictional
requirements mandated by Section 97 of CA 473 had
been complied with, the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG) filed its Motion to Dismiss on the ground that
Azucena failed to allege that she is engaged in a lawful
occupation or in some known lucrative trade. Finding
the grounds relied upon by the OSG to be evidentiary
in nature, the RTC denied said Motion. Thereafter, the
hearing for the reception of Azucenas evidence was
then set on May 18, 2004. Neither the OSG nor the
Office of the Provincial Prosecutor appeared on the day
of the hearing. Azucenas counsel moved that the
evidence be presented ex-parte, which the RTC

granted. Accordingly, the RTC designated its Clerk of


Court as Commissioner to receive Azucenas evidence.
During the November 5, 2004 ex-parte hearing, no
representative from the OSG appeared despite due
notice.
Batugias never left the Philippines from the moment of
birth, completed her education in Zamboanga, worked
as a teacher, married a Filipino and begot 5 children
from the marriage, all of them having been educated
in the Philippines. Soon, Azucena and her husband, as
conjugal partners, engaged in the retail business of
and later on in milling/ distributing rice, corn, and
copra. As proof of their income, Azucena submitted
their joint annual tax returns and balance sheets from
2000-200222 and from 20042005. The business name
and the business permits issued to the spouses store,
Azucenas General Merchandising, are registered in
Santiagos name, and he is also the National Food
Authority licensee for their rice and corn business.25
During their marital union, the Batuigas spouses
bought parcels of land in Barrio Lombog,
Margosatubig.
The RTC found that Azucena has amply supported the
allegations in her Petition. Among these are her lack of
a derogatory record, her support for an organized
government, that she is in perfect health, that she has
mingled with Filipinos since birth and can speak their
language, that she has never had any transgressions
and has been a law abiding citizen, that she has
complied with her obligations to the government

involving her business operations, and that the


business and real properties she and Santiago own
provide sufficient income for her and her family. In its
Omnibus Motion, the OSG argued that the ex-parte
presentation of evidence before the Branch Clerk of
Court violates Section 10 of CA 473, as the law
mandates public hearing in naturalization cases.
Rejecting this argument in its March 21, 2005 Order,
the RTC held that the public has been fully apprised of
the naturalization proceedings and was free to
intervene. The OSG and its delegate, the Provincial
Prosecutor, are the only officers authorized by law to
appear on behalf of the State, which represents the
public. Thus, when the OSG was furnished with a copy
of the notice of hearing for the reception of evidence
ex-parte, there was already a sufficient compliance
with the requirement of a public hearing. In dismissing
the OSGs appeal, the CA found that Azucenas
financial condition permits her and her family to live
with reasonable comfort in accordance with the
prevailing standard of living and consistent with the
demands of human dignity.
RULING:

Under existing laws, an alien may acquire Philippine


citizenship through either judicial naturalization under
CA 473 or administrative naturalization under Republic
Act No. 9139 (the Administrative Naturalization Law of
2000). A third option, called derivative naturalization,
which is available to alien women married to Filipino
husbands is found under Section 15 of CA 473, which
provides that:
[a]ny woman who is now or may hereafter be married
to a citizen of the Philippines and who might herself be
lawfully naturalized shall be deemed a citizen of the
Philippines.
Under this provision, foreign women who are married
to Philippine citizens may be deemed ipso facto
Philippine citizens and it is neither necessary for them
to prove that they possess other qualifications for
naturalization at the time of their marriage nor do they
have to submit themselves to judicial naturalization.
We are not unmindful of precedents to the effect that
there is no proceeding authorized by the law or by the
Rules of Court, for the judicial declaration of the
citizenship of an individual. Such judicial declaration
of citizenship cannot even be decreed pursuant to an
alternative prayer therefor in a naturalization
proceeding. This case however is not a Petition for
judicial declaration of Philippine citizenship but rather
a Petition for judicial naturalization under CA 473. In
the first, the petitioner believes he is a Filipino citizen
and asks a court to declare or confirm his status as a

Philippine citizen. In the second, the petitioner


acknowledges he is an alien, and seeks judicial
approval to acquire the privilege of becoming a
Philippine citizen based on requirements required
under CA 473. Azucena has clearly proven, under strict
judicial scrutiny, that she is qualified for the grant of
that privilege, and this Court will not stand in the way
of making her a part of a truly Filipino family.

ELEUTERIA TAN vs. REPUBLIC


FACTS:
A petition was presented to CFI Misamis Occdiental
alleging that Eleuteria Feliseta Tan is the common-law
wife of Tan King Pock a Chinaman, and that nine minor
children were born to them out of wedlock; that she
and her children are registered as aliens; that she had
asked the Commissioner of Immigration to cancel her
registration and that of her children as aliens, but that
the Commissioner refused to grant her petition.
Therefore, she prayed that the cancellation of the alien
certificate of registration of herself and her children be
ordered. The court issued an order suggesting that
Eleuteria amend her petition into one for declaratory
relief. Eleuteria edited her petition converting it into
one for declaratory judgment, alleging that petitioner

is a Filipino citizen being the illegitimate child of a


Chinaman by the name of Sy Siwa and Benita Feliseta,
a Filipina, without benefit of marriage; that the children
mentioned in the petition are children of herself and
Tan King Pock and their registration as aliens has been
a mistake; that she had asked the Commissioner of
Immigration for the cancellation of their alien
certificate of registration but the Commissioner had
denied her petition, so she prayed that her alien
certificate of registration be cancelled. The Solicitor
General presented an answer asking for the denial of
the petition because the petition is not based upon any
of the grounds required by the rules as a ground for
declaratory judgment; that there is no need for the
present action for the cancellation of their alien
certificate of registration; and that the petition is
evidently one which seeks a judicial pronouncement as
to petitioner's claim for citizenship, which matter
should be threshed out in a proper action. The
provincial fiscal also prayed that the petition be
denied, alleging that the petition is not in order; that
the children are not represented by a guardian, and
that the end sought in the petition should be threshed
out in a proper action. After hearing the petition and
the arguments, the court rendered judgment declaring
said Eleuteria Feliseta Tan a Filipino citizen; that her
registration as an alien has been a clear mistake on
her part and on the part of the City Treasurer of
Ozamis City and therefore, the Commissioner of
Immigration is hereby ordered to cancel the Alien
Certificate of Registration the herein petitioner as well

as those of her children born out her relationship as


husband and wife without benefit of marriage with Tan
King Pock.
RULING:
The judgment or order appealed from must be set
aside. Declaratory relief in this jurisdiction is a special
civil action which may lie only when "any person
interested under a deed, will, contract or other written
instrument, or whose rights are affected by statute or
ordinance," demands construction thereof for a
declaration of his rights thereunder. None of the above
circumstances exists in the case under consideration.
And this Court has already held that there is no
proceeding established by law or the rules by which
any person claiming to be a citizen may get a
declaration in a court of justice to that effect or in
regard to his citizenship. "Under our laws, there can be
no action or proceeding for the judicial declaration of
the citizenship of an individual. Courts of justice exist
for the settlement of justiciable controversies, which
imply a given right, legally demandable and
enforceable, an act or omission violative of said right,
and a remedy, granted or sanctioned by law, for said
breach of right. As an incident only of the adjudication
of the rights of the parties to a controversy, the court
may pass upon, and make a pronouncement relative
to, their status. Otherwise, such a pronouncement is

beyond judicial power. If the petition be considered as


one for declaratory judgment, the facts do not warrant
the filing of the said special civil action. If the petition
seeks to compel the Commissioner of Immigration to
cancel her and her children's alien certificate of
registration, this petition would not lie because such a
remedy of cancellation of alien certificate of
registration can only be had by virtue of a judgment of
a competent court, in an action where the citizenship
of parties is a material matter in issue, declaring the
Filipino citizenship of the petitioner and her children,
and such declaration cannot be obtained directly
because there is no proceeding at present provided by
law or the rules for such purpose.