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[G.R. Nos. 147933-34.

December 12, 2001]


PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY, petitioner, vs. ELPIDIO S. UY, doing business under the name and style
EDISON DEVELOPMENT & CONSTRUCTION, AND THE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This is a petition for review of the Joint Decision dated September 25, 2000[1] and the Joint Resolution dated April
25, 2001[2] of the Court of Appeals in the consolidated cases CA-G.R. SP Nos. 59308 and 59849.
Petitioner Public Estates Authority is the government agency tasked by the Bases Conversion Development
Authority to develop the first-class memorial park known as the Heritage Park, located in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig,
Metro Manila. On November 20, 1996, petitioner executed with respondent Elpidio S. Uy, doing business under the
name and style Edison Development & Construction, a Landscaping and Construction Agreement, whereby
respondent undertook to perform all landscaping works on the 105-hectare Heritage Park. The Agreement stipulated
that the completion date for the landscaping job was within 450 days, commencing within 14 days after receipt by
respondent from petitioner of a written notice to proceed. Due to delays, the contracted period was extended to 693
days. Among the causes of the delay was petitioners inability to deliver to respondent 45 hectares of the property for
landscaping, because of the existence of squatters and a public cemetery.
Respondent instituted with the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission an action, docketed as CIAC Case No.
02-2000, seeking to collect from petitioner damages arising from its delay in the delivery of the entire property for
landscaping. Specifically, respondent alleged that he incurred additional rental costs for the equipment which were
kept on stand-by and labor costs for the idle manpower.Likewise, the delay incurred by petitioner caused the topsoil
at the original supplier to be depleted, which compelled respondent to obtain the topsoil from a farther source,
thereby incurring added costs. He also claims that he had to mobilize water trucks for the plants and trees which
have already been delivered at the site. Furthermore, it became necessary to construct a nursery shade to protect
and preserve the young plants and trees prior to actual transplanting at the landscaped area.
On May 16, 2000, the CIAC rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the Claimant Contractor ELPIDIO S. UY and Award is
hereby made on its monetary claim as follows:
Respondent PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY is directed to pay the Claimant the following amounts:
P19,604,132.06 --- for the cost of idle time of equipment.
2,275,721.00 --- for the cost of idled manpower.
6,050,165.05 --- for the construction of the nursery shade net area.
605,016.50 --- for attorneys fees.
Interest on the amount of P6,050,165.05 as cost for the construction of the nursery shade net area shall be paid at
the rate of 6% per annum from the date the Complaint was filed on 12 January 2000. Interest on the total amount
of P21,879,853.06 for the cost of idled manpower and equipment shall be paid at the same rate of 6% per annum
from the date this Decision is promulgated. After finality of this Decision, interest at the rate of 12% per annum shall
be paid on the total of these 3 awards amounting to P27,930,018.11 until full payment of the awarded amount shall
have been made, this interim period being deemed to be at that time already a forbearance of credit (Eastern
Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, et al., 243 SCRA 78 [1994]; Keng Hua Paper Products Co., Inc. v. Court of
Appeals, 286 SCRA 257 [1998]; Crismina Garments, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 128721, March 9, 1999).
SO ORDERED.[3]

Both petitioner and respondent filed petitions for review with the Court of Appeals. In CA-G.R. SP No. 59308,
petitioner contested the monetary awards given by the CIAC. On the other hand, respondent filed CA-G.R. SP No.
59849, arguing that the CIAC erred in awarding a reduced amount for equipment stand-by costs and for denying his
claims for additional costs for topsoil hauling and operating costs of water trucks.
The two petitions were consolidated. On September 25, 2000, the Court of Appeals rendered the now assailed Joint
Decision, dismissing the petitions, to wit:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitions in CA-G.R. SP No. 59308, entitled Public Estates Authority v.
Elpidio S. Uy, doing business under the name and style of Edison Development & Construction, and CAG.R. SP No. 59849, Elpidio S. Uy, doing business under the name and style of Edison Development &
Construction v. Public Estates Authority, are both hereby DENIED DUE COURSE and accordingly, DISMISSED,
for lack of merit.
Consequently, the Award/Decision issued by the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission on May 16, 2000 in
CIAC Case No. 02-200, entitled Elpidio S. Uy, doing business under the name and style of Edison
Development & Construction v. Public Estates Authority, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.[4]
Both parties filed motions for reconsideration. Subsequently, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals an Urgent
Motion for Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction, seeking to enjoin the
CIAC from proceeding with CIAC Case No. 03-2001, which respondent has filed. Petitioner alleged that the said
case involved claims by respondent arising from the same Landscaping and Construction Agreement, subject of the
cases pending with the Court of Appeals.
On April 25, 2001, the Court of Appeals issued the assailed Joint Resolution, thus:
WHEREFORE, the present Motion/s for Reconsideration in CA-G.R. SP No. 59308 and CA-G.R. SP No. 59849 are
hereby both DENIED, for lack of merit.
Accordingly, let an injunction issue permanently enjoining the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission from
proceeding with CIAC Case No. 03-2001, entitled ELPIDIO S. UY, doing business under the name and style of
EDISON DEVELOPMENT & CONSTRUCTION v. PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY and/or HONORABLE
CARLOS P. DOBLE.
SO ORDERED.[5]
Hence, this petition for review, raising the following arguments:
I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DENYING DUE COURSE
PETITIONERS (SIC) PETITION FILED PURSUANT TO RULE 43 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE
APPEALING THE ADVERSE DECISION OF THE CIAC A QUO
II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DENYING THE HEREIN PETITIONERS MOTION
FOR RECONSIDERATION ON THE JOINT DECISION PROMULGATED ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2000.
III

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT ALLOWING THE APPEAL ON THE MERITS
TO BE THRESHED OUT PURSUANT TO EXISTING LAWS AND JURISPRUDENCE ALL IN INTEREST OF DUE
PROCESS,.
IV
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DENYING PETITIONERS CLAIM FOR UNRECOUPED
BALANCE IN THE 15% ADVANCE PAYMENT; UNRECOUPED BALANCE ON PRE-PAID MATERIALS, AND
OVERPAYMENT BASED ON ACTUAL PAYMENT MADE AS AGAINST PHYSICAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
V
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE CIAC DECISION FINDING RESPONDENT
ENTITLED TO ATTORNEYS FEES IN THE AMOUNT OF P605,096.50 WHICH IS 10% OF THE AMOUNT
AWARDED FOR THE CLAIM OF NURSERY SHADE CONSTRUCTION WHILE DENYING PETITIONERS
COUNTERCLAIM FOR ATTORNEYS FEES.
VI
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT PETITIONERS OBLIGATION, IF ANY,
HAS BEEN EFFECTIVELY EXTINGUISHED.
VII
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT ORDERING THE RESPONDENT TO REIMBURSE
THE PETITIONER THE AMOUNT OF P345,583.20 THE LATTER PAID TO THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
ARBITRATION COMMISSION.[6]
After respondent filed its comment[7] on August 20, 2001, this Court issued a resolution dated September 3,
2001[8] requiring petitioner to file its reply within ten days from notice. Despite service of the resolution on petitioner
and its counsel on October 1, 2001, no reply has been filed with this Court to date. Therefore, we dispense with the
filing of petitioners reply and decide this case based on the pleadings on record.
The petition is without merit.
Petitioner assails the dismissal of its petition by the Court of Appeals based on a technicality, i.e., the verification and
certification of non-forum shopping was signed by its Officer-in-Charge, who did not appear to have been authorized
by petitioner to represent it in the case. Petitioner moreover argues that in an earlier resolution, the First Division of
the Court of Appeals gave due course to its petition. Despite this, it was the Seventeenth Division of the Court of
Appeals which rendered the Joint Decision dismissing its petition.
The contention is untenable. Petitioner, being a government owned and controlled corporation, can act only through
its duly authorized representatives. In the case of Premium Marble Resources, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[9] which the
Court of Appeals cited, we made it clear that in the absence of an authority from the board of directors, no person,
not even the officers of the corporation, can validly bind the corporation. [10] Thus, we held in that case:
We agree with the finding of public respondent Court of Appeals, that in the absence of any board resolution from its
board of directors the [sic] authority to act for and in behalf of the corporation, the present action must necessary
fail. The power of the corporation to sue and be sued in any court is lodged with the board of directors that exercises
its corporate powers. Thus, the issue of authority and the invalidity of plaintiff-appellants subscription which is still
pending, is a matter that is also addressed, considering the premises, to the sound judgment of the Securities and
Exchange Commission.[11]
Therefore, the Court of Appeals did not err in finding that, in view of the absence of a board resolution authorizing
petitioners Officer-in-Charge to represent it in the petition, the verification and certification of non-forum shopping

executed by said officer failed to satisfy the requirement of the Rules. In this connection, Rule 43, Section 7, of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure categorically provides:
Effect of failure to comply with requirements. --- The failure of the petition to comply with any of the foregoing
requirements regarding the payment of the docket and other lawful fees, the deposit for costs, proof of service of the
petition, and the contents of and the documents which should accompany the petition shall be sufficient ground for
the dismissal thereof.
Anent petitioners contention that its petition had already been given due course, it is well to note that under the
Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals, each case is raffled to a Justice twice --- the first raffle for completion of
records and the second raffle for study and report. [12] Hence, there was nothing unusual in the fact that its petition
was first raffled to the First Division of the Court of Appeals but was later decided by the Seventeenth Division
thereof. Petitioners imputations of irregularity have no basis whatsoever, and can only viewed as a desperate
attempt to muddle the issue by nit-picking on non-essential matters. Likewise, the giving of due course to a petition
is not a guarantee that the same will be granted on its merits.
Significantly, the dismissal by the Court of Appeals of the petition was based not only on its fatal procedural defect,
but also on its lack of substantive merit; specifically, its failure to show that the CIAC committed gross abuse of
discretion, fraud or error of law, such as to warrant the reversal of its factual findings.
We have carefully gone over the decision of the CIAC in CIAC Case No. 02-2000, and we have found that it
contains an exhaustive discussion of all claims and counterclaims of respondent and petitioner, respectively. More
importantly, its findings are well supported by evidence which are properly referred to in the record. In all, we have
found no ground to disturb the decision of the CIAC, especially since it possesses the required expertise in the field
of construction arbitration. It is well settled that findings of fact of administrative agencies and quasi-judicial bodies,
which have acquired expertise because their jurisdiction is confined to specific matters, are generally accorded not
only respect, but finality when affirmed by the Court of Appeals.[13]
Thus, we affirm the factual findings and conclusions of the CIAC as regards the arbitral awards to respondent. The
records clearly show that these are amply supported by substantial evidence.
Coming now to petitioners counterclaims, we find that the CIAC painstakingly sifted through the records to discuss
these, despite its initial observation that petitioner absolutely omitted to make any arguments to substantiate the
same.[14] As far as the unrecouped balance on prepaid materials are concerned, the CIAC found:
The Arbitral Tribunal finds the evidence adduced by the Respondents (petitioner herein) sorely lacking to establish
this counterclaim. The affidavit of Mr. Jaime Millan touched on this matter by merely stating this additional claim
a) Unrecouped balance on prepaid materials amounting to P45,372,589.85. No further elaboration was made of this
bare statement. The affidavit of Mr. Roigelio A. Cantoria merely states that as Senior Accountant, it was he who
prepared the computation for the recoupment of prepaid materials and advance payment marked as Annex B of
Respondents Compliance/Submissiondated 16 March 2000. Examination of that single page document shows
that for the 2nd Billing, the amount of P32,695,138.86 was 75% Prepaid for some unspecified Materials on Hand.
The rest of the other items were payments for trees and shrubs, RCP, Baluster & Cons. Paver, and GFRC
(Baluster) in various amounts taken from other billings. The billings themselves have not been introduced in
evidence. No testimonial evidence was also offered to explain how these computations were made, if only to explain
the meaning of those terms above-quoted and why the recoupment of amounts of the various billings were generally
much lower than the payment for materials. As stated at the outset of the discussion of these additional claims, it is
not the burden of this Tribunal to dig into the haystack to look for the proverbial needle to support these
counterclaims.[15]
On the other hand, we find that the CIAC correctly deferred determination of the counterclaim for unrecouped
balance on the advance payment. It explained that the amount of this claim is determined by deducting from
respondents progress billing a proportionate amount equal to the percentage of work accomplished. However, this
could not be done since petitioner terminated the construction contract. At the time the CIAC rendered its decision,

the issue of the validity of the termination was still pending determination by the Regional Trial Court of
Paraaque. Thus, in view of the non-fulfillment of that precondition to the grant of petitioners counterclaim, the CIAC
deferred resolution of the same.[16] In the case at bar, petitioner still failed to show that its termination of the
construction contract was upheld by the court as valid.
Anent petitioners claim for attorneys fees, suffice it to state that it was represented by the Government Corporate
Counsel in the proceedings before the CIAC. Attorney's fees are in the nature of actual damages, which must be
duly proved.[17] Petitioner failed to show with convincing evidence that it incurred attorneys fees.
Petitioner further argues that its liability to respondent has been extinguished by novation when it assigned and
turned over all its contracted works at the Heritage Park to the Heritage Park Management Corporation. [18] This,
however, can not bind respondent, who was not a party to the assignment. Moreover, it has not been shown that
respondent gave his consent to the turn-over. Article 1293 of the Civil Code expressly provides:
Novation which consists in substituting a new debtor in the place of the original one, may be made even without the
knowledge or against the will of the latter, but not without the consent of the creditor.Payment by the new debtor
gives him the rights mentioned in articles 1236 and 1237. (emphasis ours)
Lastly, petitioner argues that respondent should reimburse to it all fees paid to the CIAC by reason of the case. To
be sure, this contention is based on the premise that the suit filed by respondent was unwarranted and without legal
and factual basis. But as shown in the CIAC decision, this was not so. In fact, respondent was adjudged entitled to
the arbitral awards made by the CIAC. These awards have been sustained by the Court of Appeals, and now by this
Court.
It appears that there is a pending motion to consolidate the instant petition with G.R. No. 147925-26, filed by
respondent. Considering, however, that the instant petition has no merit, the motion for consolidation is rendered
also without merit, as there will be no more petition to consolidate with the said case. Hence, the motion to
consolidate filed in this case must be denied.
However, in order not to prejudice the deliberations of the Courts Second Division in G.R. No. 147925-26, it should
be stated that the findings made in this case, especially as regards the correctness of the findings of the CIAC, are
limited to the arbitral awards granted to respondent Elpidio S. Uy and to the denial of the counterclaims of petitioner
Public Estates Authority. Our decision in this case does not affect the other claims of respondent Uy which were not
granted by the CIAC in its questioned decision, the merits of which were not submitted to us for determination in the
instant petition.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for review is DENIED. The Motion to Consolidate this petition
with G.R. No. 147925-26 is also DENIED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 147989

February 20, 2006

ROLANDO CLAVECILLA, Petitioner,


vs.
TERESITO QUITAIN and RICO QUITAIN, et al., Respondents.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the Resolution1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated
October 5, 2000 which dismissed Rolando Clavecillas petition on the ground that the verification and certification of
non-forum shopping was signed by counsel without the proper authority from petitioner, as well as the Resolution
dated March 28, 20012 which denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.
The facts are as follows:
Teresito and Rico Quitain (Quitains) filed on March 7, 1997, a complaint against Rolando Clavecilla (Clavecilla)
before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 6, Davao City (MTCC) for the enforcement of the amicable
settlement entered into by them on August 19, 1996 before the Lupon Tagapamayapa, Barangay Talomo, Davao.
Pertinent portions of said settlement reads:
1. That the respondent (Clavecilla) agreed to purchase the property on October 15, 1996.
2. Failure to pay the property on the said date the respondent will voluntarily vacate the place with the assistance of
five thousand (P5,000.00) pesos only.
3. The complainant (Rico Quitain) agreed to the demand of the respondent. 3
The Quitains alleged that Clavecilla failed to pay the amount agreed upon and six months had already passed since
the agreement was entered into and yet Clavecilla has still not left the premises. 4
Clavecilla answered that the August 19, 1996 agreement was no longer enforceable since it was novated by an
agreement dated October 29, 1996.5 Said agreement reads:
xxx
1. That both parties agreed to meet again on Nov. 5, 1996 at the Barangay for another round of talk (sic).
2. That on Nov. 5, 1996 the respondent will pay the 50% total amount of the selling price of the said lot, 111 sq.m.
more or less located at Lot 1989-A being a portion of Lot 1989 (T.C.T. # T-6615) at Talomo proper.
3. Price per sq.m. P1,000.00 only.
4. Failure to accomplished (sic) this Nov. 5, 1996 requirement, the respondent will voluntarily vacate the said lot with
a P5,000.00 assistance for their effort.
5. All agreement is final upon signing.6
xxx
Clavecilla claims that on November 5, 1996, he appeared at the barangay and was supposed to pay Quitains the
50% price of the lot in question but they were not present.7 Rico Quitain asserts however that he was present that
day as shown by a certification made by the office of the lupon of said barangay.8

On March 8, 2000, the MTCC rendered its Decision in favor of the Quitains finding that there was no novation, as
the October 29, 1996 was not incompatible with the August 19, 1996 agreement but was only a reiteration of the
earlier agreement.9
Clavecilla filed a notice of appeal.10
On June 20, 2000, the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 33 (RTC) dismissed the appeal for Clavecillas
failure to file the memorandum on appeal within the period prescribed by the Rules. 11
Clavecilla filed a Motion for Reconsideration and For Leave of Court to Admit Appeal Memorandum claiming that his
counsel was not able to file the memorandum on appeal on time since said counsel was diagnosed with pneumonia
and had to rest for more than ten days.12 Clavecilla then filed an Appeal Memorandum claiming that the MTCC erred
in rendering judgment against him since he did not sign the agreement but it was his wife Erlinda who signed the
same without authority from him.13
On July 5, 2000, the RTC denied Clavecillas motion stating that the reason advanced by Clavecillas counsel for his
failure to file the appeal memorandum on time is not a compelling reason, and even if such memorandum was given
due course, the arguments raised by Clavecilla therein are not sufficient to justify a reversal of the Decision of the
lower court.14
Petitioner filed another motion for reconsideration dated July 21, 2000 which was denied by the RTC on the same
day.15
On September 13, 2000, petitioner filed a petition for review under Rule 42 of the Rules of Court with the CA which
rendered the herein assailed Resolution on October 5, 2000 thus:
The Verification and Certification of non-forum shopping, which accompanied the petition at bench, was executed
and signed by petitioners counsel Atty. Oswaldo A. Macadangdang, without the proper authority from petitioner, in
violation of Sec. 5, Rule 7 and Sec. 2, Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The duty to certify under oath is
strictly addressed to petitioner, Rolando Clavecilla. To allow delegation of said duty to anyone would render Revised
Circular No. 28-91 inutile.16
xxx
xxxx
Accordingly, the Court Resolves to DENY DUE COURSE and to DISMISS the petition.
SO ORDERED.17
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was also denied on March 28, 2001 as follows:
Petitioner moves for the reconsideration of our Resolution dated 05 October 2000 dismissing the petition for the
reason that the certificate of non-forum shopping was signed by petitioners counsel and not by the
petitioner.1avvphil.net
Admitting that the duty to sign under oath the certificate is addressed to the petitioner, petitioner attached to his
motion a Special Power of Attorney dated 09 August 2000 authorizing his counsel to sign the certificate. The court
believes that this authorization was made after the petition had been filed, in a vain attempt to cure the fatal defect,
for if Atty. Maca[d]angdang had such authority, he would have indicated that in the Verification and Certification he
signed on 25 August 2000 attached to the petition.
In any event, it is a settled rule that the certificate against forum shopping must be executed by the petitioner and
not by counsel. xxx To merit the Courts Consideration, petitioner must show reasonable cause for failure to
personally sign the certification. x x x This petitioner failed to show. (citations omitted)

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED for lack of merit.


SO ORDERED.18
Hence, the present petition alleging that:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DEPARTING FROM THE ACCEPTED JURISPRUDENCE
OF ALLOWING LIBERAL INTERPRETATION OF THE RULES OF COURT PROVIDED PETITIONER
SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLIED WITH CIRCULAR NO. 28-91 AS SHOWN IN THE SPECIAL POWER OF
ATTORNEY WHICH HE ATTACHED TO HIS MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION.19
Petitioner avers that: his lawyer had the authority to sign the certification against forum shopping; the CA was hasty
in concluding that the authorization of petitioners lawyer was made after the petition had been filed; the CA should
have granted petitioner the benefit of the doubt that he gave such authorization to his lawyer at the time that his
lawyer signed the verification and certification against forum shopping; petitioners failure to have a properly
executed certification against forum shopping attached to his petition for review is not fatal; the rules of procedure
are used only to help secure and not override substantial justice, and the CA departed from the established liberal
interpretation of the rules despite petitioners substantial compliance with the rule on non-forum shopping. 20
Rico Quitain in his Comment countered that: the petition is not sufficient in form and substance and is utterly
deficient in factual and procedural bases; petitioner named "Teresito Quitain, Rico Quitain, et al." as respondents
without specifying who "et al." referred to; Teresito Quitain is already deceased and the MTCC as early as June 5,
1998 already ordered Teresitos substitution; the spouse and children of Teresito, to wit, Lolita, Rene, Ruel, Radi and
Romy, all surnamed Quitain, have the right to be informed of the filing of the petition and the fact that they were not
so specifically named as respondents but were referred to as "et al." makes the petition a sham pleading; petitioner
failed to attach certified true copies of the MTCC Decision dated March 8, 2000 and the RTC Order dated July 5,
2000 which should have been included as annexes in the present petition as they are material to the case, and the
petition does not allege a good and valid defense which, if appreciated, could probably cause the reversal of the
July 5, 2000 and March 8, 2000 issuances.21
The parties filed their respective Memoranda reiterating their respective contentions. 22
After evaluating the records of the case and the issues raised by the parties, the Court finds that the CA did not err
in denying the petition and motion for reconsideration filed by Clavecilla before it. The Court however finds different
grounds for denying Clavecillas petition.
First, it must be determined whether there existed a special power of attorney in favor of petitioners counsel when
the petition before the CA was filed.
The CA in its Resolution dated March 28, 2001, stated that it believes that the special power of attorney in favor of
the lawyer attached to petitioners motion for reconsideration was only made after the petition had been filed
reasoning that if the counsel had such authority from the beginning, he would have attached the same when the
petition was first filed.
The Court disagrees.
The rule is that any suspicion on the authenticity and due execution of the special power of attorney which is a
notarized document, thus a public document, cannot stand against the presumption of regularity in their favor
absent evidence that is clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant. 23
In this case, the petition before the CA was filed on September 13, 2000. 24 The special power of attorney meanwhile
was dated August 9, 2000.25 Absent any proof that the special power of attorney was not actually in existence before
the petition was filed, this Court has no recourse but to believe that it was indeed in existence at such time.

The next matter to be determined is whether the CA was correct in dismissing Clavecillas petition and motion for
reconsideration, notwithstanding the authority given by Clavecilla in favor of his lawyer to sign the verification and
certification in his behalf.
The Court answers in the affirmative.
Obedience to the requirements of procedural rules is needed if we are to expect fair results therefrom, and utter
disregard of the rules cannot justly be rationalized by harking on the policy of liberal construction. 26 Time and again,
this Court has strictly enforced the requirement of verification and certification of non-forum shopping under the
Rules of Court.27 This case is no exception.
Verification is required to secure an assurance that the allegations of the petition have been made in good faith, or
are true and correct and not merely speculative.28
In this case, petitioners counsel signed the verification alleging that he had read the petition and the contents
thereof are true and correct of his own "knowledge and belief." 29
On this ground alone, the petition should already be dismissed for as provided for in Section 4 Rule 7 of the Rules of
Court, as amended by A.M. No. 00-2-10-SC dated May 1, 2000:
Sec. 4. Verification. ---xxx
A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true
and correct of his personal knowledge or based on authentic records.1avvphil.net
A pleading required to be verified which contains a verification based on "information and belief," or upon
"knowledge, information and belief," or lacks a proper verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading.
While the Court has exercised leniency in cases where the lapse in observing the rules was committed when the
rules have just recently taken effect,30 the attendant circumstances in this case however do not warrant such
leniency.1avvphil.net
The certification against forum shopping in this case was signed by petitioners counsel despite the clear
requirement of the law that petitioners themselves must sign the certification. The certification must be made by
petitioner himself and not by counsel, since it is petitioner who is in the best position to know whether he has
previously commenced any similar action involving the same issues in any other tribunal or agency.31 And the lack of
a certification against forum shopping, unlike that of verification, is generally not cured by its submission after the
filing of the petition.32
As explained by this Court in Gutierrez v. Sec. of Dept. of Labor and Employment:33
x x x [T]he certification (against forum shopping) must be signed by the plaintiff or any of the principal parties and
not by the attorney. For such certification is a peculiar personal representation on the part of the principal party, an
assurance given to the court or other tribunal that there are no other pending cases involving basically the same
parties, issues and causes of action.
x x x Obviously it is the petitioner, and not always the counsel whose professional services have been retained for a
particular case, who is in the best position to know whether he or it actually filed or caused the filing of a petition in
that case. Hence, a certification against forum shopping by counsel is a defective certification. 34
In Mariveles Shipyard Corp. v. Court of Appeals,35 this Court further elucidated that:
x x x In the case of natural persons, the Rule requires the parties themselves to sign the certificate of nonforum shopping. x x x [I]n the case of the corporations, the physical act of signing may be performed, on behalf of
the corporate entity, only by specifically authorized individuals for the simple reason that corporations, as artificial
persons, cannot personally do the task themselves.36 (emphasis supplied)

In the case of Santos v. Court of Appeals,37 the Court further clarified, that even with a special power of attorney
executed by the petitioners in favor of their counsel to sign the certification on their behalf, still the rule stands. Thus:
We are aware of our ruling in BA Savings Bank v. Sia that a certification against forum shopping may be signed by
an authorized lawyer who has personal knowledge of the facts required to be disclosed in such document.
However, BA Savings Bank must be distinguished from the case at bar because in the former, the complainant was
a corporation, and hence, a juridical person. Therefore, that case made an exception to the general rule that the
certification must be made by the petitioner himself since a corporation can only act through natural persons. In fact,
physical actions, e.g., signing and delivery of documents, may be performed on behalf of the corporate entity only
by specifically authorized individuals. In the instant case, petitioners are all natural persons and there is no
showing of any reasonable cause to justify their failure to personally sign the certification. It is noteworthy
that PEPSI in its Comment stated that it was petitioners themselves who executed the verification and certification
requirements in all their previous pleadings. Counsel for petitioners argues that as a matter of policy, a Special
Power of Attorney is executed to promptly and effectively meet any contingency relative to the handling of a case.
This argument only weakens their position since it is clear that at the outset no justifiable reason yet existed for
counsel to substitute petitioners in signing the certification. In fact, in the case of natural persons, this
policy serves no legal purpose. Convenience cannot be made the basis for a circumvention of the
Rules.38(emphasis supplied)
While there are cases when the Court has relaxed the rule requiring that in case of a natural person, he shall
personally sign the non-forum shopping certification, in such cases the Court found compelling and justifiable
reasons to relax observance of the rules.
In Donato v. Court of Appeals39 and Wee v. Galvez40 the Court noted that the petitioners were already in the United
States, thus the signing of the certification by their authorized representatives was deemed sufficient compliance
with the rules. In Orbeta v. Sendiong41 the Court found that the annulment of judgment filed by the parties was
meritorious thus the certification signed by the daughter of petitioner who had a general power of attorney in her
favor was deemed sufficient. In Sy Chin v. Court of Appeals42 the Court also upheld substantial justice and ruled that
the failure of the parties to sign the certification may be overlooked as the parties case was meritorious.
No such justifiable or compelling reasons exist in the case at bar.
In this case, petitioner did not present any cause for his failure to personally sign the certification against forum
shopping at the time that the petition was filed at the CA. He merely acknowledged in his motion for reconsideration
of the October 5, 2000 Resolution of the CA that he "has the duty to certify under oath." 43 He then asked for a
reconsideration of the said Resolution and attached a Special Power of Attorney executed by him in favor of his
lawyer.44
There is also no showing that there is substantial merit in petitioners claims. In his petition before the CA and in his
Appeal Memorandum filed with the RTC, petitioner argues that he is not a party to the amicable settlement as it was
his wife who signed the same without authority from him.45 Petitioner in his Answer however admitted having
entered into an agreement with the Quitains, before the lupon of their barangay on August 19, 1996.46
Petitioner also claims that the August 19, 1996 agreement was novated by the one dated October 29, 1996. The
claim has no merit.
Novation cannot be presumed but must be clearly shown either by the express assent of the parties or by the
complete incompatibility between the old and the new agreements. 47 In this case, the October 29, 1996 agreement
merely held that the parties shall meet again on November 5, 1996 at which time petitioner shall pay 50% of the
purchase price or he will vacate the property. His obligation to pay the purchase price or to vacate the property in
case of his failure to do so, still exists and was not extinguished by the October 29, 1996 agreement.
Records also show that Rico Quitain was ready to comply with his part of the agreement as he was present at
the barangay on November 5, 1996 to receive the payment from Clavecilla. 48 Quitain also consigned the amount

of P5,000.00 to the court, which is the amount he agreed to give Clavecilla to assist him and his family when they
leave the property.49
As correctly pointed out by the RTC, even if petitioners appeal was allowed to proceed, still the arguments raised
are not sufficient to overturn the ruling of the MTCC.
It is also worth mentioning that the petitioner erred in including the name of Teresito in the caption of the petition and
using only the phrase "et al." to refer to the heirs who substituted him after his death. As pointed out by respondent
Rico Quitain, Teresito is already deceased and was already substituted by his heirs, namely: Lolita, widow of
Teresito, Rene, Ruel, Radi, and Romy, sons of Teresito, in the Order of the MTCC dated June 5,
1998.50Consequently, the above-named heirs are deemed co-respondents in the present petition.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 146459

June 8, 2006

HEIRS OF DICMAN, namely: ERNESTO DICMAN, PAUL DICMAN, FLORENCE DICMAN FELICIANO TORRES,
EMILY TORRES, TOMASITO TORRES and HEIRS OF CRISTINA ALAWAS and BABING COSIL, * Petitioners,
vs.
JOSE CARIO and COURT OF APPEALS, Respondents.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
This refers to the petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court questioning the Decision 1dated
June 30, 2000 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in C.A.-G.R. CV No. 33731, which affirmed in toto the Decision dated
November 28, 1990 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 7 (Baguio City), La Trinidad, Benguet; and the CA
Resolution dated December 15, 2000 which denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration.
The petition originated from an action for recovery of possession of the eastern half of a parcel of land situated in
Residence Section "J", Camp Seven, Baguio City, consisting of 101,006 square meters, more or less, and identified
as Lot 46, Ts-39, Plan SWO-37115.2
The antecedent facts are clear:
The subject land, at the turn of the 20th century, had been part of the land claim of Mateo Cario. Within this site, a
sawmill and other buildings had been constructed by H.C. Heald in connection with his lumber business. On March
14, 1916, H.C. Heald sold the buildings to Sioco Cario, son of Mateo Cario and grandfather of private respondent
Jose Cario. Sioco Cario then took possession of the buildings and the land on which the buildings were situated.
Ting-el Dicman,3 predecessor-in-interest of the petitioners, namely, Ernesto Dicman, Paul Dicman, Florence
Dicman, Babing Cosil, Feliciano Torres, Cristina Alawas, Emily Torres and Tomasito Torres, and resident of Atab, a
sitio within the City of Baguio but located at some distance from the land in controversy, had been employed by
Sioco Cario as his cattle herder. On the advice of his lawyers, and because there were already many parcels of
land recorded in his name,4 Sioco Cario caused the survey of the land in controversy in the name of Ting-el
Dicman.
On October 22, 1928, Ting-el Dicman executed a public instrument entitled "Deed of Conveyance of Part Rights and
Interests in Agricultural Land" with Sioco Cario. The deed reads:
DEED OF CONVEYANCE OF PART RIGHTS AND
INTERESTS IN AGRICULTURAL LAND.
KNOW ALL PERSONS BY THESE PRESENTS:
That I, Ting-el Diac-man, of legal age, widower, and resident of the sitio known as "Atab", near Camp Seven, City of
Baguio, Philippine Islands, DO HEREBY STATE, viz:
That I am the applicant for a free-patent of a parcel of land (public), having a surface of over ten (10) hectares,
surveyed by the District Land Office of Baguio for me, and located in the place known as Camp Seven, Baguio;
That to-date I have not as yet received the plan for said survey;
That Mr. Sioco Cario has advanced all expenses for said survey for me and in my name, and also all other
expenses for the improvement of said land, to date;
That for and in consideration of said advance expenses, to me made and delivered by said Mr. Sioco Cario, I
hereby pledge and promise to convey, deliver and transfer unto said Sioco Cario, of legal age, married to Guilata
Acop, and resident of Baguio, P.I., his heirs and assigns, one half (1/2) of my title, rights, and interest to and in the

aforesaid parcel of land; same to be delivered, conveyed and transferred in a final form, according to law, to him, his
heirs and assigns, by me, my heirs, and assigns, as soon as title for the same is issued to me by proper authorities.
That this conveyance, transfer, or assignment, notwithstanding its temporary nature, shall have legal force and
effect; once it is approved by the approving authorities all the final papers and documents, this instrument shall be
considered superseded.
After I have received my title to said parcel of land I bind myself, my heirs and assigns, to execute the final papers
and forward same for approval of the competent authorities at Mr. Sioco Carios expense.
WITNESS MY HAND in the City of Baguio, P.I., this, the 22nd day of October, 1928, A.D.
his right thumbmark5
TING-EL DIAC-MAN
After the execution of the foregoing deed, Sioco Cario, who had been in possession of the land in controversy
since 1916, continued to stay thereon.
On January 10, 1938, Sioco Cario executed, as seller, a public instrument entitled "Deed of Absolute Sale"
covering the subject land and its improvements with his son, Guzman Cario, as buyer. The contract states in part:
x x x for and in consideration of the sum of ONE PESO (P 1.00) Philippine Currency and other valuable
considerations which I had received from my son, Guzman A. Cario x x x have ceded, transferred and conveyed as
by these presents do hereby cede, convey and transfer unto the [sic] said Guzman A. Cario, his heirs, executors,
administrators and assigns, all my rights, title, interests in and participation to that parcel of land (public) covered by
an application for free patent with a surface area of Ten (10) hectares, surveyed by the District Land Office of Baguio
in the name of Pingel Dicman, and who ceded, conveyed and transferred one half of his title, rights and interests to
me under an instrument executed by the said owner in the city of Baguio, Philippines, on the 22nd day of October,
1928 A.D. and duly ratified before Notary Public x x x together with all improvements therein, consisting of oranges,
mangoes, and other fruit trees and a building of strong materials (half finished) x x x, which building was purchased
by me from H.C. Heald on March 14, 1916, free from all liens and encumbrances, with full rights and authority to the
said Guzman A. Cario to perfect his claim with any government agency the proper issuance of such patent or title
as may be permitted to him under existing laws.
x x x x6
In a letter dated January 15, 1938, Sioco Cario asked his son, Guzman Cario, who had been doing business in
Damortis, Sto. Tomas, La Union, to take possession of the subject land and building. 7 Guzman Cario moved to
Baguio as requested and occupied the property. Evidence was adduced in the RTC to the effect that Guzman
Cario took possession of the property publicly, peacefully, and in the concept of owner: the directory of Baguio
Telephones published in October 1940 lists the residence of Guzman A. Cario at Camp 7, Baguio City, along with
his telephone number; pictures were taken of him and his family, including the private respondent who was then an
infant, depicting the property in the background; U.S. Army authorities obtained permission from Guzman Cario to
use a part of the land in question after the war; he introduced various improvements on the property over the years
and exercised acts of ownership over them; he permitted the use of portions of the land to Governor Eulogio
Rodriguez, Jr. and the Boy Scouts of Rizal Province; he leased out portions of the land to Bayani Pictures, Inc.; and
his neighbors confirmed the possession and occupation over the property of Guzman Cario and, after him, his son,
herein private respondent Jose Cario. These findings of fact were either confirmed or uncontroverted by the CA. 8
On July 27, 1954, Guzman Cario had the entire Lot 46 resurveyed so as to indicate the half portion that belonged
to him and the other half that belonged to the petitioners. The resurvey evenly divided the lot into Lot 76-A and 76-B,
and purportedly indicated that Lot 76-A, consisting of 50,953 square meters, belonged to the petitioners, while Lot
76-B, also consisting of 50,953 square meters, formerly pertained to Sioco Cario and, later, to Guzman Cario.

Additionally, the resurvey indicated the house where private respondent Jose Cario resided and, before him, where
his predecessors-in-interest, Sioco and Guzman Cario, also resided.
On May 23, 1955, Guzman Cario filed a Free Patent Application over the land in question. The application was
given due course, but Guzman later withdrew it when he decided to file his opposition to the petition later filed by the
heirs of Ting-el Dicman. This petition, entitled "Petition of the Heirs of Dicman to Reopen Civil Reservation Case No.
1, G.L.R.O. 211," was filed by Felipe Dicman, Bobing Dicman and Cating Dicman, in their capacity as compulsory
heirs of Ting-el Dicman on April 24, 1959 with the Court of First Instance of Baguio. The petition sought to establish
ownership over Lot 76-A and Lot 76-B which, taken together, covered an area of 10.1006 hectares. Guzman Cario
opposed the petition insofar as he insisted ownership over Lot 76-B, the land in controversy. The Estate of Sioco
Cario likewise filed an opposition.
On March 6, 1963, the trial court rendered a partial judgment and confirmed that the title over Lot 76-A belonged to
the heirs of Ting-el Dicman, there having been no adverse claim. But as to Lot 76-B, the trial court found it
necessary to hold further hearing in order to decide on the adverse claims of the parties.
Meanwhile, on January 8, 1960, while the foregoing petition was pending in the trial court, President Carlos P.
Garcia issued Proclamation No. 628 "excluding from the operation of the Baguio Townsite Reservation certain
parcels of public land known as Igorot Claims situated in the City of Baguio and declaring the same open to
disposition under the provisions of Chapter VII of the Public Land Act." The Proclamation further provided that the
"Igorot Claims" enumerated therein shall be "subject to the condition that except in favor of the government or any of
its branches, units, or institutions, lands acquired by virtue of this proclamation shall not be encumbered or alienated
within a period of fifteen years from and after the date of issuance of patent." One such claim pertained to the "Heirs
of Dicman," to wit:
Name Lot No. Survey Plan Residence Section Area (Sq.m.)
Heirs of 46 Swo-37115 "J" 101,006
Dicman
Before the trial court could dispose of the case, the Supreme Court promulgated Republic v. Marcos 9 which held that
Courts of First Instance of Baguio have no jurisdiction to reopen judicial proceedings on the basis of Republic Act
No. 931. As a consequence, on July 28, 1978, the trial court dismissed the petition to reopen Civil Reservation Case
No. 1, G.L.R.O. 211 insofar as Lot 76-B was concerned, and the certificate of title issued pursuant to the partial
decision involving Lot 76-A was invalidated. The trial court stated that the remedy for those who were issued titles
was to file a petition for revalidation under Presidential Decree No. 1271, as amended by Presidential Decrees No.
1311 and 2034.
After the dismissal of the case, Guzman Cario was left undisturbed in his possession of the subject property until
his death on August 19, 1982. His remains are buried on the land in question, next to the large house purchased in
1916 by his father, Sioco Cario (the grandfather of private respondent), from H.C. Heald. Guzmans widow and
son, private respondent Jose Sioco C. Cario, continued possession of the subject property.10
On April 20, 1983, petitioners, suing as compulsory heirs of Ting-el Dicman, revived the foregoing case by filing a
complaint for recovery of possession with damages involving the subject property with the RTC, docketed as Civil
Case No. 59-R. As earlier stated, petitioners, then complainants, originally sought to recover possession of the
eastern half of the parcel of land situated in Residence Section "J", Camp Seven, Baguio City, consisting of 101,006
square meters, more or less, and identified as Lot 46, Ts-39, Plan SWO-37115.
Petitioners, then plaintiffs, averred in their complaint:
10. That however, this Honorable Court was not able to decide the [ ] petition for reopening as far as the remaining
eastern half portion of the above-described property is concerned due to the fact that the said petition was
dismissed for alleged lack of jurisdiction; x x x

11. That because of the above-mentioned dismissal, the conflict between herein plaintiffs and defendant over the
half eastern portion of the above-described property which was one of the issues supposed to be decided in the
said judicial reopening case remains undecided;
12. That after the dismissal of the abovementioned petition and before the dispute between herein plaintiffs and
defendant over the eastern half portion of the above-described property, defendant unlawfully and illegally continue
to occupy portion [sic] of the above-described property to the clear damage and prejudice of herein plaintiffs;
13. That the defendant has no valid claim of ownership and possession over any of the portions of the abovedescribed property;
14. That plaintiffs and their predecessors-in-interest have been religiously paying the realty taxes covering the
above-described property x x x11
Private respondent Jose Cario filed his answer and prayed for dismissal. He alleged that his predecessors-ininterest had acquired the land by onerous title through the "Deed of Absolute Sale" dated January 10, 1938
executed by his grandfather, Sioco Cario, as seller, and his father, Guzman Cario, as buyer; that the property was
earlier acquired by Sioco Cario by virtue of the "Deed of Conveyance of Part Rights and Interests in Agricultural
Land" dated October 22, 1928 executed between Sioco Cario and Ting-el Dicman; and that he has been in
possession of the subject property for 55 years peacefully, in good faith, and in concept of owner and therefore
perfected title over the same through acquisitive prescription.
On June 13, 1983, the administratrix of the Estate of Sioco Cario filed a motion to intervene with the RTC. On July
1, 1983, the RTC granted said motion. On July 11, 1983, the Estate of Sioco Cario filed its Complaint-inIntervention, praying for quieting of title among the adverse claimants.
The RTC, through an ocular inspection on February 15, 1984, found that the larger building still stands on the land
in controversy and, together with the surrounding area, constituted the residence and was in the possession of
private respondent and his family.
On November 28, 1990, the RTC rendered its decision in favor of private respondent, the dispositive portion of
which states:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1. Plaintiffs complaint is hereby DISMISSED;
2. Plaintiffs-Intervenors complaint-in-intervention is hereby dismissed;
3. Defendant is hereby declared the lawful possessor and as the party who has the better right over the land subject
matter [sic] of this action and as such he may apply for the confirmation of his title thereto in accordance with law
(R.A. No. 894012 )[.] Defendants counterclaim is dismissed;
4. Costs is [sic] adjudged against the plaintiff and plaintiff-intervenor.
SO ORDERED.
To support its ruling, the RTC found that the tax declarations and their revisions submitted as evidence by the
petitioners made no reference to the land in question; 13 that no tax declaration over the land declared in the name of
the Estate of Sioco Cario had been submitted as evidence, and that the intervenor-estate presented tax
declarations over the building only; that it was Guzman Cario alone who declared for taxation purposes both the
land and the improvements thereon in his name;14 that there is no evidence to the
effect that petitioners ever filed any action to challenge the validity of the "Deed of Conveyance of Part Rights and
Interests in Agricultural Land" dated October 22, 1928; that even assuming that this instrument may be invalid for
whatever reason, the fact remains that Sioco Cario and his successors-in-interest had been in possession of the

subject property publicly, adversely, continuously and in concept of owner for at least 55 years before the filing of the
action;15 that Siocos successor, Guzman Cario, had been in open and continuous possession of the property in
good faith and in the concept of owner from 1938 until his death in 1982 and, hence, the Estate of Sioco Cario has
lost all rights to recover possession from Guzman Cario or his heirs and assigns; and that although the Estate of
Sioco Cario attempted to assail the genuineness and due execution of the "Deed of Absolute Sale" dated January
10, 1938 executed by Sioco Cario in favor of his son, Guzman Cario, the challenge failed since no evidence had
been adduced to support the allegation of forgery.16
On January 23, 1991, petitioners seasonably filed their notice of appeal. The RTC, however, denied the motion for
reconsideration and motion to admit appeal filed by the Estate of Sioco Cario on July 3, 1991 for being filed out of
time.
Petitioners raised the following issues before the Court of Appeals:
1. THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING THE DOCUMENTARY
EVIDENCE OF THE PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS AND THE STRAIGHTFORWARD DECLARATIONS OF THEIR
WITNESS.
2. THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE DEED OF CONVEYANCE [OF] PART
RIGHTS AND INTERESTS IN AGRICULTURAL LAND EXECUTED BY DICMAN IN FAVOR OF SIOCO CARIO
DESPITE ITS NULLITY.
3. THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DECLARING DEFENDANT-APPELLEE TO HAVE A BETTER
RIGHT TO THE PROPERTY IN DISPUTE.
4. THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT AND NOT GRANTING THE
RELIEFS PRAYED FOR THEREIN.
On June 30, 2000, the CA dismissed the petition and affirmed in toto the ruling of the RTC. On December 15, 2000,
the CA issued a Resolution denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
The CA based its ruling on the following reasons: that the petitioners raised for the first time on appeal the issue on
whether the "Deed of Conveyance of Part Rights and Interests in Agricultural Land" is void ab initio under Sections
145 and 146 of the Administrative Code of Mindanao and Sulu17 (which was made applicable later to the Mountain
Province and Nueva Viscaya by Act 2798, as amended by Act 2913, and then to all other cultural minorities found
within the national territory by virtue of Section 120 of the Public Land Act 18 ) and, hence, cannot be considered by
the reviewing court;19 that, even if this issue were considered, the records fail to show that Ting-el Dicman, though
an Igorot, is a non-Christian and, hence, the foregoing laws are not applicable; 20 that there was sufficient proof of
consideration for the said deed;21 and that even if the deed were a mere contract to sell and not an absolute sale,
under Borromeo v. Franco22 the obligation on the part of the purchaser to perfect the title papers within a certain
time is not a condition subsequent nor essential to the obligation to sell, but rather the same is an incidental
undertaking the failure to comply therewith not being a bar to the sale agreed upon. 23
On February 12, 2001, petitioners, through newly retained counsel, filed their petition for review on certiorari under
Rule 45.
Petitioners raise the following grounds for the petition:
A.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE PROVISIONS OF ACT NO. 2798 ARE NOT
APPLICABLE TO THE "DEED OF CONVEYANCE" EXECUTED BY PING-EL DICMAN ON THE GROUNDS THAT
THERE IS NO PROOF THAT HE WAS A NON-CHRISTIAN AND THAT BAGUIO CITY IS NOT COVERED BY THE
SAID ACT.

B.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN THE APPLICATION OF THE RULING IN BORROMEO V. FRANCO (5 PHIL
49 [1905]) THAT AN AGREEMENT ON THE PART OF THE PARTY TO A CONTRACT TO PERFECT THE TITLE
PAPERS TO A CERTAIN PROPERTY WITHIN A CERTAIN TIME IS NOT A CONDITION SUBSEQUENT OR
ESSENTIAL OF THE OBLIGATION TO SELL [sic].
C.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE PROPERTY SUBJECT OF LITIGATION AND OVER
WHICH RESPONDENTS IMPROVEMENTS ARE BUILT BELONGS TO RESPONDENT NOTWITHSTANDING
UNCONTROVERTED EVIDENCE THAT PETITIONERS PREDECESSOR-IN-INTEREST PING-EL DICMAN HAD
APPLIED FOR FREE PATENT OVER THE SUBJECT AREA AND HAD BEEN ISSUED PLAN SWO-37115 IN HIS
NAME BY THE BUREAU OF LANDS IN 1954 AND HAD BEEN IN ACTUAL, OPEN, PEACEFUL, ADVERSE AND
CONTINUOUS POSSESSION OF THE PROPERTY SINCE THE EARLY 1900s UNTIL HIS DEATH WHEN HIS
GRANCHILDREN AND SUCCESSORS-IN-INTEREST, THE PETITIONERS, TOOK OVER AND CONTINUED THE
POSSESSION OF THEIR GRANDFATHER, PING-EL DICMAN.
On March 2, 2001, petitioners filed their Manifestation and Motion to Substitute Babing Cosil and Cristina Alawas
With Their Respective Heirs stating, among others, that Julio F. Dicman, son of petitioner Ernesto Dicman, had been
appointed by the petitioners to sign the petition for and in their behalf, but due to distance and time constraints
between Makati City and Baguio, he was not able to submit the same in time for the deadline for the petition on
February 12, 2001. Petitioners attached the Special Power of Attorney seeking to formalize the appointment of Julio
F. Dicman as their attorney-in-fact and to ratify his execution of the verification and certification of non-forum
shopping for and on behalf of the petitioners.
On March 15, 2001, private respondent filed with this Court a Motion for Leave of Court to File Motion to Dismiss
and/or Deny Due Course, arguing that the petition failed to comply with the requirements for verification and
certification of non-forum shopping. The affiant of the petition, according to private respondent, is not a principal
party in the case; rather, he is merely the son of Ernesto Dicman, one of the petitioners. The verification and
certification reads:
VERIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION
I, JULIO F. DICMAN, of legal age, Filipino, with residence address at Camp 7, Montecillo Road, Baguio City, after
being first duly sworn in accordance with law, do hereby depose and state:
1. I am one of the petitioners in the above-entitled case;
x x x (emphasis supplied)
To private respondent, since Ernesto Dicman, one of the petitioners, appears to be alive, he excludes his son as the
successor-in-interest of Ting-el Dicman. The verification, therefore, is false in view of the statement under oath that
Julio F. Dicman is a petitioner when in fact he is not, and should be cause for the dismissal of the case and indirect
contempt of court, without prejudice to administrative and criminal action.
On May 2, 2001, in their Manifestation and Motion for Leave to File the Attached Reply and Reply, petitioners
argued that while it may be true that the verification and certification to the petition were signed by Julio F. Dicman,
the son of one of the petitioners, they subsequently confirmed his authority to sign on behalf of all the petitioners
through the Special Power of Attorney submitted to the Court in a Manifestation and Motion to Substitute Babing
Cosil and Cristina Alawas With Their Respective Heirs filed on March 2, 2001. Petitioners invoked substantial
compliance and prayed that the Court overlook the procedural lapse in the interest of substantial justice. The parties
thereafter submitted their respective memoranda.
The petition must be dismissed on the following grounds:

1. Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which requires the pleader to submit a certificate of nonforum shopping to be executed by the plaintiff or principal party, is mandatory, and non-compliance therewith is a
sufficient ground for the dismissal of the petition.24 The forum shopping certification must be signed by the party
himself as he has personal knowledge of the facts therein stated. 25 Obviously, it is the plaintiff or principal party who
is in the best position to know whether he actually filed or caused the filing of a petition in the case. 26 Where there
are two or more plaintiffs or petitioners, all of them must sign the verification and non-forum certification, and the
signature of only one of them is insufficient,27 unless the one who signs the verification and certification has been
authorized to execute the same by, and on behalf of, the co-plaintiff or co-petitioner.28 But it must be stressed that
the requirement the principal party himself should sign the certification applies only to a natural person and not to a
juridical person which can only act through its officer or duly authorized agent. 29
However, the Court has also held that the rules on forum shopping were designed to promote and facilitate the
orderly administration of justice and thus should not be interpreted with such absolute literalness as to subvert its
own ultimate and legitimate objective. The rule of substantial compliance may be availed of with respect to the
contents of the certification. This is because the requirement of strict compliance with the provisions regarding the
certification of non-forum shopping merely underscores its mandatory nature in that the certification cannot be
altogether dispensed with or its requirements completely disregarded. 30 Thus, under justifiable circumstances, the
Court has relaxed the rule requiring the submission of such certification considering that although it is obligatory, it is
not jurisdictional.31lawphil.net
But a perusal of the relevant decisions handed down by this Court consistently shows that substantial compliance
may be invoked and the procedural lapse overlooked provided that, where the petitioner is a natural person as in
the case at bar, the authorized signatory must also be a principal party or co-petitioner.32 Petitioners, as natural
persons, cannot therefore appoint a non-party to sign for them, especially since only the petitioners occupy the best
position to know whether they actually filed or caused the filing of a petition in this case and who personally know
the facts stated in the petition. On this point alone the petition should be dismissed.
2. It is a settled rule that in the exercise of the Supreme Courts power of review, the Court is not a trier of facts and
does not normally undertake the re-examination of the evidence presented by the contending parties during the trial
of the case considering that the findings of facts of the CA are conclusive and binding on the Court. While
jurisprudence has recognized several exceptions in which factual issues may be resolved by this Court, namely: (1)
when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is
manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is
based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of facts are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings
the CA went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and
the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without
citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the
petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on
the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the CA manifestly
overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, could justify a different
conclusion,33 none of these exceptions has been shown to apply in the present case and, hence, this Court may not
review the findings of fact made by the lower courts.
3. Petitioners argue on appeal that the "Deed of Conveyance of Part Rights and Interests in Agricultural Land" dated
October 22, 1928 executed between Sioco Cario and Ting-el Dicman is void ab initio for lack of approval of
competent authorities as required under Section 145 in relation to Section 146 of the Administrative Code of
Mindanao and Sulu, the application of which was later extended to the Mountain Province and Nueva Viscaya and,
thereafter, throughout the entire national territory;34 that the sale was without valid consideration; and that the said
deed is not an absolute sale but merely a contract to sell subject to the suspensive condition that the papers
evidencing the title must first be perfected. These arguments were lumped under the following issue in their appeal
to the CA:

2. THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE DEED OF CONVEYANCE [OF] PART
RIGHTS AND INTERESTS IN AGRICULTURAL LAND EXECUTED BY DICMAN IN FAVOR OF SIOCO CARIO
DESPITE ITS NULLITY.
The foregoing issue and the incidents thereunder were never raised by the petitioners during the proceedings
before the RTC. Suffice it to say that issues raised for the first time on appeal and not raised timely in the
proceedings in the lower court are barred by estoppel. 35 Matters, theories or arguments not brought out in the
original proceedings cannot be considered on review or appeal where they are raised for the first time. To consider
the alleged facts and arguments raised belatedly would amount to trampling on the basic principles of fair play,
justice and due process.36
4. Even if this Court should declare the sale null and void or the agreement merely a contract to sell subject to a
suspensive condition that has yet to occur, private respondent nonetheless acquired ownership over the land in
question through acquisitive prescription.37
The records show that as early as 1938, the land in controversy had been in the possession of Guzman Cario,
predecessor-in-interest of private respondent, continuously, publicly, peacefully, in concept of owner, and in good
faith with just title, to the exclusion of the petitioners and their predecessors-in-interest, well beyond the period
required under law to acquire title by acquisitive prescription which, in this case, is 10 years. 38 The findings of fact of
the lower courts, and which this Court has no reason to disturb, inescapably point to this conclusion: immediately
after the "Deed of Absolute Sale," a public instrument dated January 10, 1938, had been executed by Sioco Cario
in favor of his son, Guzman Cario (the father of private respondent), the latter immediately occupied the property;
the 1940 directory of Baguio Telephones lists his residence at Camp 7, Baguio City along with his telephone
number; his permitting the use of portions of the property to various third parties; his introduction of improvements
over the land in controversy; the testimonial accounts of his neighbors; and that it was Guzman Cario alone who
declared for tax purposes both the land and the improvements thereon in his name, while the tax declarations of the
other claimants made no reference to the subject property.39 Although arguably Sioco Cario may not have been the
owner of the subject property when he executed the "Deed of Absolute Sale" in 1938 in favor of his son, the
requirement of just title is nonetheless satisfied, which means that the mode of transferring ownership should
ordinarily have been valid and true, had the grantor been the owner.40 By the time the successors-in-interest of Tingel Dicman sought to establish ownership over the land in controversy by filing their "Petition of the Heirs of Dicman
to Reopen Civil Reservation Case No. 1, G.L.R.O. 211" on April 24, 1959 with the trial court, and which Guzman
timely opposed, more than 20 years had already elapsed. Thus, the 10-year period for acquisitive prescription is
deemed satisfied well before Guzmans possession can be said to be civilly interrupted by the filing of the foregoing
petition to reopen.41 After the dismissal of that case on July 28, 1978, Guzman Cario was left undisturbed in his
possession of the subject property until his death on August 19, 1982. His remains are buried on the land in
question. Thereafter, Guzmans widow and son, herein private respondent, continued possession of the subject
property in the same manner. When petitioners, heirs of Ting-el Dicman, tried to revive the case on April 20, 1983,
they had, far before that time, lost all rights to recover possession or ownership.
5. Prescinding from the issue on prescription, the petitioners and their predecessors-in-interest are nonetheless
guilty of laches.
Laches has been defined as such neglect or omission to assert a right, taken in conjunction with the lapse of time
and other circumstances causing prejudice to an adverse party, as will operate as a bar in equity.42 It is a delay in
the assertion of a right which works disadvantage to another 43 because of the inequity founded on some change in
the condition or relations of the property or parties.44 It is based on public policy which, for the peace of
society,45ordains that relief will be denied to a stale demand which otherwise could be a valid claim. 46 It is different
from and applies independently of prescription. While prescription is concerned with the fact of delay, laches is
concerned with the effect of delay. Prescription is a matter of time; laches is principally a question of inequity of
permitting a claim to be enforced, this inequity being founded on some change in the condition of the property or the
relation of the parties. Prescription is statutory; laches is not. Laches applies in equity, whereas prescription applies
at law. Prescription is based on a fixed time, laches is not.47 Laches means the failure or neglect for an

unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have
been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting the presumption
that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned or declined to assert it. 48 It has been held that even a
registered owner of property under the Torrens Title system may be barred from recovering possession of property
by virtue of laches.49
Given the foregoing findings of fact, all the four (4) elements of laches, as prescribed by the decisions of this Court,
are present in the case, to wit:
1. a. Conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of which
complaint is made and for which the complaint seeks a remedy;
2. b. Delay in asserting the complainants rights, the complainant having had knowledge or notice, of the defendants
conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to institute a suit;
3. c. Lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right on which
he bases his suit; and
d. Injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant, or the suit is not held to be
barred.50
As correctly held by the RTC, there is no evidence to the effect that Ting-el Dicman or his successors-in-interest
ever filed any action to question the validity of the "Deed of Conveyance of Part Rights and Interests in Agricultural
Land" after its execution on October 22, 192851 despite having every opportunity to do so. Nor was any action to
recover possession of the property from Guzman Cario instituted anytime prior to April 24, 1959, a time when the
period for acquisitive prescription, reckoned from Guzmans occupation of the property in 1938, had already
transpired in his favor. No evidence likewise appears on the record that Sioco Cario or his Estate ever filed any
action to contest the validity of the "Deed of Absolute Sale" dated January 10, 1938. 52 Though counsel for the Estate
of Sioco Cario tried to assail the deed as a forgery in the trial court, the attempt failed and no appeal was lodged
therefrom. It will be difficult for this Court to assume that the petitioners and their predecessors were all the while
ignorant of the adverse possession of private respondent and his predecessors given the publicity of their conduct
and the nature of their acts. Private respondent and his predecessors-in-interest were made to feel secure in the
belief that no action would be filed against them by such passivity. There is no justifiable reason for petitioners delay
in asserting their rightsthe facts in their entirety show that they have slept on them. For over 30 years reckoned
from the "Deed of Conveyance of Part Rights and Interests in Agricultural Land" dated October 22, 1928, or 20
years reckoned from the "Deed of Absolute Sale" dated January 10, 1938, they neglected to take positive steps to
assert their dominical claim over the property. With the exception of forgery, all other issues concerning the validity
of the two instruments abovementioned, as well as the averment that the former was in the nature of a contract to
sell, were issues raised only for the first time on appeal and cannot therefore be taken up at this late a stage. The
features of this case are not new. The Court has on several occasions held in particular that despite the judicial
pronouncement that the sale of real property by illiterate ethnic minorities is null and void for lack of approval of
competent authorities, the right to recover possession has nonetheless been barred through the operation of the
equitable doctrine of laches.53
6. Petitioners argue that Proclamation No. 628 issued by then President Carlos P. Garcia on January 8, 1960 had
the effect of "segregating" and "reserving" certain Igorot claims identified therein, including one purportedly
belonging to the "Heirs of Dicman," and prohibiting any encumbrance or alienation of these claims for a period of 15
years from acquisition of patent. But by the time the Proclamation had been issued, all rights over the property in
question had already been vested in private respondent. The executive issuance can only go so far as to classify
public land, but it cannot be construed as to prejudice vested rights. Moreover, property rights may not be altered or
deprived by executive fiat alone without contravening the due process guarantees 54 of the Constitution and may
amount to unlawful taking of private property to be redistributed for public use without just compensation. 55

The recognition, respect, and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples to preserve and develop their cultures,
traditions, and institutions are vital concerns of the State and constitute important public policies which bear upon
this case. To give life and meaning unto these policies the legislature saw it fit to enact Republic Act No. 8371,
otherwise known as The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, as a culminating measure to affirm the views and
opinions of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities
on matters that affect their life and culture.56 The provisions of that law unify an otherwise fragmented account of
constitutional, jurisprudential and statutory doctrine which enjoins the organs of government to be vigilant for the
protection of indigenous cultural communities as a marginalized sector,57 to protect their ancestral domain and
ancestral lands and ensure their economic, social, and cultural well-being, 58 and to guard their patrimony from those
inclined to prey upon their ignorance or ductility.59 As the final arbiter of disputes and the last bulwark of the Rule of
Law this Court has always been mindful of the highest edicts of social justice especially where doubts arise in the
interpretation and application of the law. But when in the pursuit of the loftiest ends ordained by the Constitution this
Court finds that the law is clear and leaves no room for doubt, it shall decide according to the principles of right and
justice as all people conceive them to be, and with due appreciation of the rights of all persons concerned.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals
are AFFIRMED.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 132007 August 5, 1998


SOLAR TEAM ENTERTAINMENT, INC., petitioner,
vs.
HON. HELEN BAUTISTA RICA-FORT, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Paraaque, Metro Manila (Branch 260), TEAM IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT, INC., FELIX S. CO, JEFFREY C.
CAL, and KING CUISIA, respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


At issue is whether respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in denying petitioner's motion to expunge private respondents' answer with counterclaims on the ground
that said pleading was not served personally; moreover, there was no written explanation as to why personal service
was not accomplished, as required by Section 11 of Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
The antecedents are not disputed.
On 10 July 1997, petitioner, as plaintiff, filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Paraaque, Metro Manila, a
complaint for recovery of possession and damages with prayer for a writ of replevin 1 against herein private
respondents. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 97-0304 and was assigned to Branch 260 of said court,
presided over by public respondent Judge Helen Bautista-Ricafort.
Summonses and copies of the complaint were forthwith served on private respondents. On 25 July 1997, their
counsel filed a notice of appearance with urgent ex-parte motion for extension of time to plead, 2 which the court
granted in its order of 4 August 1997. 3
On 8 August 1997, private respondents, as defendants, filed their "Answer (with Counterclaims).'' 4 A copy thereof
was furnished counsel for petitioner by registered mail; however, the pleading did not contain any written
explanation as to why service was not made personally upon petitioner-plaintiff, as required by Section 11 of Rule
13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
On 11 August 1997, petitioner filed a motion to expunge the "Answer (with Counterclaims)" and to declare herein
private respondents in default, 5 alleging therein that the latter did not observe the mandate of the aforementioned
Section 11, and that there was:
[A]bsolutely no valid reason why defendant[s] should not have personally served plaintiff's . . . counsel with [a] copy
of their answer [as] (t)he office of defendant's (sic) counsel, Atty. Froilan Cabaltera, is just a stone [sic] throw away
from the office of [petitioner's] counsel, with an estimate (sic) distance of about 200 meters more or less.
Petitioner further alleged that the post office was "about ten (10) times farther from the office of Atty. Cabaltera,"
On 15 August 1997, private respondents filed their opposition 6 to the abovementioned motion, alleging that
petitioner's "rigid and inflexible reliance on the provisions of Section 11, Rule 13 . . . is an adventitious resort to
technicality and is contrary to Section 6 of Rule 3 . . . which admonishes that said Rules 'shall be liberally construed
in order to promote their objective in securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of [e]very action and
proceeding;'" and that Section 11, Rule 13 notwithstanding, private respondents "religiously complied with [Section 5
of Rule 13] by personally present[ing] to the clerk of court their said Answer . . . furnishing a copy thereof to the
counsel for [petitioner] by way of registered mail."
On 8 September 1997, public respondent Judge Bautista-Ricafort issued an order 7 stating that under Section 11 of
Rule 13 "it is within the discretion of the [trial court] whether to consider the pleading as filed or not," and denying,

for lack of merit, petitioner's motion to expunge the "Answer (with Counterclaims)" and to declare private
respondents in default.
Petitioner immediately moved for reconsideration 8 of the order, but public respondent Judge Bautista-Ricafort
denied this motion in her order 9 of 17 November 1997. The order justified the denial in this wise:
Sec. 6 [of] Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure ordains that the Rules shall be liberally construed in order to
promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding.
Liberal construction of the rules and the pleading is the controlling principle to effect substantial justice.
As pointed out by the Supreme Court in Alonso vs. Villamor, 16 Phil. 315, "the error in this case is purely technical.
To take advantage of it for other purposes than to cure it, does not appeal to a fair sense of justice. Its presentation
as fatal to plaintiff a [sic] case smacks of skill rather than right. A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which
one, more deeply schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and position, entraps and destroys the other. It
is rather, a contest in which each contending party fully and fairly lays before the Court the facts in issue and then,
brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all imperfections or form of technicalities of procedure, asks that
justice be done upon the merits. Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not to be won by a rapier's thrust."
While it is desirable that the above Rules be faithfully and even meticulously observed, courts should not strict about
procedural lapses that do not really impair the proper administration of justice. Furthermore, it is well settled that
litigations should, as much as possible be decided on their merits and not on technicalities.
Petitioner thus filed the instant special civil action of certiorari, contending that public respondent Judge BautistaRicafort committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when she admitted private
respondents' "Answer (with Counterclaims)" notwithstanding private respondents' clear, admitted and inexcusable
violation of Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, in that: (a) the "Answer (with Counterclaims)"
was not served personally upon petitioner's counsel despite the undisputed fact that the offices of private
respondents' counsel and that of petitioner's counsel are only about 200 meters away from each other; and (b) the
Answer did not contain any explanation as to why the answer was not served personally.
In their Comment, filed in compliance with the resolution of 2 February 1998, and to which petitioner filed a Reply,
private respondents aver that public respondent Judge Bautista-Ricafort correctly admitted private respondents'
"Answer (with Counterclaims)" in light of Section 6, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure; that Section 11 of
Rule 13 begins with the phrase "whenever practicable," thereby suggesting that service by mail may still be effected
depending on the relative priority of the pleading sought to be filed; and when service is not done personally, it is
more prudent and judicious for the courts to require a written explanation rather than to expunge the pleading
outright or consider the same as not being filed.
In view of the importance of the issue raised, which is, undoubtedly, one of the first impression, the Court resolved to
give due course to the petition and consider it submitted for decision on the basis of the pleadings filed by the
parties.
Sec. 5, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure prescribes two modes of service of pleadings, motions, notices,
orders, judgments and other papers, namely: (1) personal service; and (2) service by mail. The first is governed by
Section 6, while the second, by Section 7 of said Rule. If service cannot be done either personally or by mail,
substituted service may be resorted to under Section 8 thereof.
Pursuant, however, to Section 11 of Rule 13, service and filing of pleadings and other papers must, whenever
practicable, be done personally; and if made through other modes, the party concerned must provide a written
explanation as to why the service or filing was not done personally. The section reads:
Sec. 11. Priorities in modes of service and filing. Whenever practicable, the service and filing of pleadings and
other papers shall be done personally. Except with respect to papers emanating from the court, a resort to other

modes must be accompanied by a written explanation why the service or filing was not done personally. A violation
of this Rule may be cause to consider the paper as not filed. (n)
Note that Section 11 refers to both service of pleadings and other papers on the adverse party or his counsel as
provided for in Sections 6, 7 and 8; and to the filing of pleadings and other papers in court.
Personal service and filing are preferred for obvious reasons. Plainly, such should expedite action or resolution on a
pleading, motion or other paper; and conversely, minimize, if not eliminate, delays likely to be incurred if service or
filing is done by mail, considering the inefficiency of the postal service. Likewise, personal service will do away with
the practice of some lawyers who, wanting to appear clever, resort to the following less than ethical practices: (1)
serving or filing pleadings by mail to catch opposing counsel off-guard, thus leaving the latter with little or no time to
prepare, for instance, responsive pleadings or an opposition; or (2) upon receiving notice from the post office that
the registered parcel containing the pleading of or other paper from the adverse party may be claimed, unduly
procrastinating before claiming the parcel, or, worse, not claiming it at all, thereby causing undue delay in the
disposition of such pleading or other papers.
If only to underscore the mandatory nature of this innovation to our set of adjective rules requiring personal service
whenever practicable, Section 11 of Rule 13 then gives the court the discretion to consider a pleading or paper as
not filed if the other modes of service or filing were resorted to and no written explanation was made as to why
personal service was not done in the first place. The exercise of discretion must, necessarily, consider the
practicability of personal service, for Section 11 itself begins with the clause "whenever practicable."
We thus take this opportunity to clarify that under Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
personal service and filing is the general rule, and resort to other modes of service and filing, the exception.
Henceforth, whenever personal service or filing is practicable, in light of the circumstances of time, place and
person, personal service or filing is mandatory. Only when personal service or filing is not practicable may resort to
other modes be had, which must then be accompanied by a written explanation as to why personal service or filing
was not practicable to begin with. In adjudging the plausibility of an explanation, a court shall likewise consider the
importance of the subject matter of the case or the issues involved therein, and the prima facie merit of the pleading
sought to be expunged for violation of Section 11. This Court cannot rule otherwise, lest we allow circumvention of
the innovation introduced by the 1997 Rules in order to obviate delay in the administration of justice.
Here, the proximity between the offices of opposing counsel was established; moreover, that the office of private
respondents' counsel was "ten times farther" from the post office than the distance separating the offices of
opposing counsel. Of course, proximity would seem to make personal service most practicable, but exceptions may
nonetheless apply. For instance, where the adverse party or opposing counsel to be served with a pleading seldom
reports to office and no employee is regularly present to receive pleadings, or where service is done on the last day
of the reglementary period and the office of the adverse party or opposing counsel to be served is closed, for
whatever reason.
Returning, however, to the merits of this case, in view of the proximity between the offices of opposing counsel and
the absence of any attendant explanation as to why personal service of the answer was not effected, indubitably,
private respondents' counsel violated Section 11 of Rule 13 and the motion to expunge was prima facie meritorious.
However, the grant or denial of said motion nevertheless remained within the sound exercise of the trial court's
discretion. Thus, as guided by Section 6, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which ordains that the Rules
shall be liberally construed in order to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition
of every action or proceeding, as well as by the dictum laid down in Alonso v. Villamor, 16 Phil. 315 [1910], the trial
court opted to exercise its discretion in favor of admitting the "Answer (with Counterclaims)," instead of expunging it
from the record.
To our mind, if motions to expunge or strike out pleadings for violation of Section 11 of Rule 13 were to be
indiscriminately resolved under Section 6 of Rule 1 or Alonzo v. Villamor and other analogous cases, then Section

11 would become meaningless and its sound purpose negated. Nevertheless, we sustain the challenged ruling of
the trial court, but for reasons other than those provided for in the challenged order.
The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure took effect only on 1 July 1997, while the questioned "Answer (with
Counterclaims)" was filed only on 8 August 1997, or on the 39th day following the effectivity of the 1997 Rules.
Hence, private respondents' counsel may not have been fully aware of the requirements and ramifications of
Section 11, Rule 13. In fact, as pointed out by petitioner's counsel, in another case where private respondents'
counsel was likewise opposing counsel, the latter similarly failed to comply with Section 11.
It has been several months since the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure took effect. In the interim, this Court has
generally accommodated parties and counsel who failed to comply with the requirement of a written explanation
whenever personal service or filing was not practicable, guided, in the exercise of our discretion, by the primary
objective of Section 11, the importance of the subject matter of the case, the issues involved and the prima
facie merit of the challenged pleading. However, as we have in the past, for the guidance of the Bench and Bar,
strictest compliance with Section 11 of Rule 13 is mandated one month from promulgation of this Decision.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED considering that while the justification for the denial of the motion
to expunge the "Answer (with Counterclaims)" may not necessarily be correct, yet, for the reasons above stated, the
violation of Section 11 of Rule 13 may be condoned.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Vitug, Panganiban and Quisumbing, JJ., concur.
Bellosillo, J., Please see Separate Opinion.

Separate Opinions

BELLOSILLO, J., separate opinion;


This case involves the proper application of Sec. 11, Rule 13, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which took effect
1 July 1997.
Restating the facts, on 10 July 1997 petitioner herein filed against private respondents a Complaint (For: Recovery
of Possession and Damages with Prayer for Writ of Replevin) in the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque against
private respondents. On 8 August 1997, after seeking an extension of ten (10) days from the expiration of its
reglementary period to respond, private respondents filed their Answer (with Counterclaims) furnishing counsel for
petitioner copy thereof by registered mail.
Alleging violation of Sec. 11, Rule 13, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, petitioner filed a Motion to Expunge
Answer with Counterclaim and Declare Defendants in Default for the reason that the Answer was not served
personally on its counsel but only by registered mail.
On 8 September 1997 respondent Judge Helen Bautista Ricafort of RTC-Br. 260, Paraaque City, denied the
motion to expunge as well as to reconsider her denial "for lack of merit," holding that under Sec. 11 of Rule 13 "it is
within the discretion of the Court whether to consider a pleading as filed or not."

Indeed, the trial court took too lightly Sec. 11, Rule 13, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which provides
Sec. 11. Priorities in modes of service and filing. Whenever practicable, the service and filing of pleadings and
other papers shall be done personally. Except with respect to papers emanating from the court, a resort to other
modes must be accompanied by a written explanation why the service or filing was not done personally. A violation
of this Rule may be cause to consider the paper as not filed.
I find it difficult to agree with respondent Judge that under the above provision it is solely within the discretion of the
trial court whether to consider the pleading as filed or not. Section 11 requires that service and filing of pleadings
and other papers shall be done personally, whenever practicable. In other words, when personal service is not done,
the party who fails to comply with the requirement must explain why. This makes personal service and filing of
pleadings mandatory, especially as the rule specifically uses the word "shall," unless personal service and filing are
shown to be impractical. At this stage, the exercise of discretion by the judge does not yet come into play.
In case personal service and filing are neither practical nor feasible then and only then can the parties avail of
other modes of service and filing, e.g., by registered mail. But resort to other modes must be accompanied by a
written explanation why service and filing are not done personally. From that explanation, the judge will then
determine whether personal service and filing are indeed impractical so that resort to other modes may be made. It
is only at this stage when the judge may properly exercise his discretion and only upon the explanation given.
In the case before us, private respondents gave no explanation why they resorted to service by registered mail and
not by personal service. Absent any explanation, respondent judge was without any hypothesis on which to anchor
her finding and conclusion that personal service was not practicable. In such a situation, respondent judge could not
exercise any discretion and, consequently, could not deny petitioner's motion to expunge the answer "for lack of
merit." Respondent judge did not even cite a single reason why personal service was not availed of by private
respondents. Consequently, the conclusion that the motion to strike out private respondents' answer filed by
petitioner should be denied "for lack of merit," was without any basis, thus amounting to grave abuse of discretion
on the part of respondent judge.
To emphasize, the court's discretion can only be exercised soundly if there exists some factual basis for it. The
explanation required of the parties serves as the authority for the judge's exercise of discretion. Without any
explanation, the judge cannot wield any discretion, much less dismiss the motion to expunge by simply saying that it
lacks merit.
Thus, speaking of discretionary power of a trial judge, I said as early as 2 October 1987 in Rayat Export Industries,
Inc. v. Lorenzana 1 that
Where no explanation whatsoever was given justifying the absence of a party whose presence was required, hence,
there was no factual milieu upon which discretion may be exercised, the discretionary power of the court to declare
him non-suited or as in default becomes mandatory.
Stated differently, where no explanation is offered to justify resort to service of pleading by mail, or other modes of
service (and filing for that matter), in lieu of the preferred personal service, hence, no factual milieu is provided upon
which judicial discretion may be brought into play, the discretionary power of the court to expunge the pleading
becomes mandatory and a disregard thereof constitutes grave abuse of discretion.
Sec. 11 of Rule 13 provides for priorities in the modes of service and filing of pleadings. By priority we mean an
order of preference in the service thereof, such that the first alternative must be availed of, and only upon its nonavailability may the second and succeeding options be resorted to. Admittedly, the offices of petitioner's counsel and
that of private respondents are located just about two hundred (200) meters from each other the office of
petitioner's counsel at 235 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City, and that of private respondents' counsel at 132
Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City. For lack of any explanation from private respondents, we cannot
determine the reason why they served and filed their pleading by registered mail instead of personally serving and
filing them.

Personal service and filing are obviously preferred so as to fasttrack the decongestion of court dockets. No less than
our present Constitution mandates the promulgation of rules that shall provide a simplified and inexpensive
procedure for the speedy disposition of cases. 2 In fact, the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is required to be
construed to promote its objective of securing a just, expeditious and inexpensive disposition of every action and
proceeding; hence, strict compliance with the rules is strongly favored. Taking judicial notice of the inadequacy of
our postal service, it is to the advantage of both parties if they avail of personal service and filing of pleadings in
order to resolve their case soonest.
Prescinding from the foregoing, I cannot agree with the ponencia that "the grant or denial of said motion (to
expunge) nevertheless remains within the sound exercise of the trial court's discretion." Alonso v. Villasor 3 upon
which the ponencia is premised cannot be invoked. The issue in Alonso involved merely a defect in form, a defect
which did not prejudice the substantial rights of the opposing party. In the instant case, the deviation is not
merely formal. It involves non-compliance with the mandatory requirement of Sec. 11 of Rule 13.
I ask: Would it not have been more appropriate and proper for respondent judge to start by requiring compliance
with Sec. 11, Rule 13, and grant the motion of petitioner to expunge the answer for obvious non-compliance
therewith which requires personal service, and on a motion for reconsideration by private respondents explaining
the non-observance of the rule, if such motion is filed, grant reconsideration in the exercise of the court's discretion?
At least the message would have been clear that the rule should first and foremost be obeyed before the same may
be relaxed upon exercise of discretion based on a reasonable explanation.
While I am constrained to yield for the moment to the majority pro hac vice in view of the recency of the rule
concerned, I am afraid we might be sending the wrong signals to our trial judges that a rule of procedure,
particularly Sec. 11, Rule 13, may be taken lightly, if not ignored completely, despite its mandatory character and its
publication in a newspaper of general circulation that it was to take effect 1 July 1997 or a year ago. Observance of
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, I submit, was never meant to be a useless exercise, otherwise, the dedicated
efforts of its architects would be fruitless. Such lackadaisical attitude in the proper observance of the rules of
procedure, regretfully, is one of the culprits in docket congestion and delay.

Separate Opinions
BELLOSILLO, J., separate opinion;
This case involves the proper application of Sec. 11, Rule 13, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which took effect
1 July 1997.
Restating the facts, on 10 July 1997 petitioner herein filed against private respondents a Complaint (For: Recovery
of Possession and Damages with Prayer for Writ of Replevin) in the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque against
private respondents. On 8 August 1997, after seeking an extension of ten (10) days from the expiration of its
reglementary period to respond, private respondents filed their Answer (with Counterclaims) furnishing counsel for
petitioner copy thereof by registered mail.
Alleging violation of Sec. 11, Rule 13, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, petitioner filed a Motion to Expunge
Answer with Counterclaim and Declare Defendants in Default for the reason that the Answer was not served
personally on its counsel but only by registered mail.
On 8 September 1997 respondent Judge Helen Bautista Ricafort of RTC-Br. 260, Paraaque City, denied the
motion to expunge as well as to reconsider her denial "for lack of merit," holding that under Sec. 11 of Rule 13 "it is
within the discretion of the Court whether to consider a pleading as filed or not."
Indeed, the trial court took too lightly Sec. 11, Rule 13, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure which provides

Sec. 11. Priorities in modes of service and filing. Whenever practicable, the service and filing of pleadings and
other papers shall be done personally. Except with respect to papers emanating from the court, a resort to other
modes must be accompanied by a written explanation why the service or filing was not done personally. A violation
of this Rule may be cause to consider the paper as not filed.
I find it difficult to agree with respondent Judge that under the above provision it is solely within the discretion of the
trial court whether to consider the pleading as filed or not. Section 11 requires that service and filing of pleadings
and other papers shall be done personally, whenever practicable. In other words, when personal service is not done,
the party who fails to comply with the requirement must explain why. This makes personal service and filing of
pleadings mandatory, especially as the rule specifically uses the word "shall," unless personal service and filing are
shown to be impractical. At this stage, the exercise of discretion by the judge does not yet come into play.
In case personal service and filing are neither practical nor feasible then and only then can the parties avail of
other modes of service and filing, e.g., by registered mail. But resort to other modes must be accompanied by a
written explanation why service and filing are not done personally. From that explanation, the judge will then
determine whether personal service and filing are indeed impractical so that resort to other modes may be made. It
is only at this stage when the judge may properly exercise his discretion and only upon the explanation given.
In the case before us, private respondents gave no explanation why they resorted to service by registered mail and
not by personal service. Absent any explanation, respondent judge was without any hypothesis on which to anchor
her finding and conclusion that personal service was not practicable. In such a situation, respondent judge could not
exercise any discretion and, consequently, could not deny petitioner's motion to expunge the answer "for lack of
merit." Respondent judge did not even cite a single reason why personal service was not availed of by private
respondents. Consequently, the conclusion that the motion to strike out private respondents' answer filed by
petitioner should be denied "for lack of merit," was without any basis, thus amounting to grave abuse of discretion
on the part of respondent judge.
To emphasize, the court's discretion can only be exercised soundly if there exists some factual basis for it. The
explanation required of the parties serves as the authority for the judge's exercise of discretion. Without any
explanation, the judge cannot wield any discretion, much less dismiss the motion to expunge by simply saying that it
lacks merit.
Thus, speaking of discretionary power of a trial judge, I said as early as 2 October 1987 in Rayat Export Industries,
Inc. v. Lorenzana 1 that
Where no explanation whatsoever was given justifying the absence of a party whose presence was required, hence,
there was no factual milieu upon which discretion may be exercised, the discretionary power of the court to declare
him non-suited or as in default becomes mandatory.
Stated differently, where no explanation is offered to justify resort to service of pleading by mail, or other modes of
service (and filing for that matter), in lieu of the preferred personal service, hence, no factual milieu is provided upon
which judicial discretion may be brought into play, the discretionary power of the court to expunge the pleading
becomes mandatory and a disregard thereof constitutes grave abuse of discretion.
Sec. 11 of Rule 13 provides for priorities in the modes of service and filing of pleadings. By priority we mean an
order of preference in the service thereof, such that the first alternative must be availed of, and only upon its nonavailability may the second and succeeding options be resorted to. Admittedly, the offices of petitioner's counsel and
that of private respondents are located just about two hundred (200) meters from each other the office of
petitioner's counsel at 235 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City, and that of private respondents' counsel at 132
Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City. For lack of any explanation from private respondents, we cannot
determine the reason why they served and filed their pleading by registered mail instead of personally serving and
filing them.

Personal service and filing are obviously preferred so as to fasttrack the decongestion of court dockets. No less than
our present Constitution mandates the promulgation of rules that shall provide a simplified and inexpensive
procedure for the speedy disposition of cases. 2 In fact, the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is required to be
construed to promote its objective of securing a just, expeditious and inexpensive disposition of every action and
proceeding; hence, strict compliance with the rules is strongly favored. Taking judicial notice of the inadequacy of
our postal service, it is to the advantage of both parties if they avail of personal service and filing of pleadings in
order to resolve their case soonest.
Prescinding from the foregoing, I cannot agree with the ponencia that "the grant or denial of said motion (to
expunge) nevertheless remains within the sound exercise of the trial court's discretion." Alonso v. Villasor 3 upon
which the ponencia is premised cannot be invoked. The issue in Alonso involved merely a defect in form, a defect
which did not prejudice the substantial rights of the opposing party. In the instant case, the deviation is not
merely formal. It involves non-compliance with the mandatory requirement of Sec. 11 of Rule 13.
I ask: Would it not have been more appropriate and proper for respondent judge to start by requiring compliance
with Sec. 11, Rule 13, and grant the motion of petitioner to expunge the answer for obvious non-compliance
therewith which requires personal service, and on a motion for reconsideration by private respondents explaining
the non-observance of the rule, if such motion is filed, grant reconsideration in the exercise of the court's discretion?
At least the message would have been clear that the rule should first and foremost be obeyed before the same may
be relaxed upon exercise of discretion based on a reasonable explanation.
While I am constrained to yield for the moment to the majority pro hac vice in view of the recency of the rule
concerned, I am afraid we might be sending the wrong signals to our trial judges that a rule of procedure,
particularly Sec. 11, Rule 13, may be taken lightly, if not ignored completely, despite its mandatory character and its
publication in a newspaper of general circulation that it was to take effect 1 July 1997 or a year ago. Observance of
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, I submit, was never meant to be a useless exercise, otherwise, the dedicated
efforts of its architects would be fruitless. Such lackadaisical attitude in the proper observance of the rules of
procedure, regretfully, is one of the culprits in docket congestion and delay.

G.R. No. L-40945 November 10, 1986


IGMEDIO AZAJAR, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (Second Division) and CHAM SAMCO & SONS, INC., respondents.

NARVASA, J.:
Petitioner seeks reversal of the Resolution of the respondent Court of Appeals (now Intermediate Appellate Court)
dated March 25, 1975 setting aside the judgment by default rendered against private respondent by the Court of
First Instance, and directing that said respondent be allowed to file its answer to the complaint and after joinder of
issues, trial be had and judgment rendered on the merits.
This case originated from a complaint filed by petitioner Igmedio Azajar against respondent Cham Samco and Sons,
Inc. in the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Camarines Sur. 1 Azajar's claim, briefly, is that he had
purchased from defendant (hereafter referred to simply as Cham Samco), thru the latter's agent, 100 Kegs of nails
of various sizes, specified in one of Cham Samco's printed order forms, and had given to the agent P18,000.00 in
fun payment thereof; but in breach of contract, Cham Samco had offered to deliver only a part of the quantity
ordered.
Cham Samco filed a motion to dismiss on two grounds: (1) failure of the complaint to state a cause of action-the
complaint's language indicating not a perfected sale but merely an "offer to buy by plaintiff that was partly accepted
by defendant," and failing to show that as explicitly required by the order form prices had been confirmed by Cham
Samco's "Manila Office," 2 and (2) that venue was improperly laid-Cham Samco's invariable conditions in
transactions of this nature, as Azajar well knew from many such transactions in the past, being that "any legal action
thereon must be instituted in the City of Manila. 3
The motion to dismiss contained a notice addressed to the Clerk of Court reading as follows:
The Clerk of Court
Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur
Naga City
Sir:
Please submit the foregoing motion to the Court for its consideration and resolution immediately upon receipt
thereof.
Makati, Rizal for Naga City, February 4, 1974
(SGD) POLO S. PANTALEON
Copy furnished:
Atty. Augusta A. Pardalias
Naga City
NF-927 4
It is this notice that has given rise to the controversy at bar.
Contending that such a notice was fatally defective and rendered the Motion to Dismiss incapable of to the period to
answer, Azajar filed a motion dated February 20, 1974 to declare Cham Samco in default, which the Court granted.

By Order dated February 22, 1974 the Court pronounced Cham Samco in default and allowed Azajar to present
evidence ex parte. The Court justified the order of default in the wise:
On February 4, 1974, defendant thru counsel instead of an answer to the complaint, filed a "Motion to Dismiss"
which, in legal contemplation, is not a motion at an because the ."notice" therein is directed to the Clerk of Court
instead of to the party concerned (as required by Section 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court) and is without the
requisite notice of time and place of hearing; that a motion "with a notice of hearing (a) directed to the Clerk of Court
not to the parties; and (b) merely stating that the same be "submitted for resolution of the Honorable Court upon
receipt thereof," copy of which motion was duly furnished to and received by "the adverse counsel is fatally defective
and did not toll the running of the period to appeal" (Cladera v. Sarmiento, 39 SCRA 552). Consequently, inasmuch
as the "motion to dismiss in this case is a mere scrap of paper because it is without the requisite notice of time and
place of hearing (Manakil v. Hevilla, 42 Phil. 81; Roman Catholic Bishop v. Unisan, 44 Phil. 866; Director of Lands v.
Sanz, 45 Phil. 117; and Manila Surety v. Bath, 14 SCRA 435), the filing thereof did not suspend the running ' of the
period to file the required responsive pleading. That from' February 4, 1974 to February 21, 1974, seventeen (17)
days had lapsed and defendant failed to file any responsive pleading ... 5
Then on March 30, 1974, the Trial Court rendered judgment by default against defendant Cham Samco ordering it:
... to deliver immediately to the plaintiff the nails mentioned in the Order Form No. 9020 (Exhibit A); (2) requiring
defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of P15,000.00 by way of actual damages, the sum of P10,000.00 by way of
consequential damages, plus interest in both instances, and the additional sum of P5,000.00, for exemplary
damages; (3) ordering defendant to pay plaintiff the sum of P7,500.00 for attorney's fees and related expenses of
litigation; and (4) to pay the costs.
Cham Samco filed a Motion for New Trial on April 9, 1974. It contended that its failure to observe the rules governing
notice of motions was due to excusable negligence, "because the grounds alleged in the Motion to Dismiss were all
in such nature and character that addressed themselves to a motu proprio resolution by the court and thus rendered
a hearing dispensable. 6 It also alleged certain defenses available to it which if duly alleged and proven, would
absolve it from any liability. 7 This motion was denied.
Cham Samco went to the Court of Appeals on certiorari asserting that the trial court acted with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in declaring it in default and then rendering judgment by default. 8 The
petition was dismissed for lack of merit by the Court of Appeals on November 20, 1974. 9
But on motion for reconsideration seasonably presented, the Court of Appeals reversed itself. By Resolution dated
March 25, 1975, 10 it set aside the Trial Court's order of default of February 22, 1974, judgment by default of March
13, 1974, and Order dated June 4, 1974 denying Cham Samco's motion for new trial, and directed the lower Court
to allow Cham Samco to file its answer to the complaint and upon due joinder of issues, to try and decide the case
on the merits.
The Court held that:
... (t)he notice in the motion which was addressed to the clerk of court asking him to submit the motion for the
consideration of the court is a substantial compliance with the provision of section 3 Rule 16 of the Rules of Court.
Verily under the said rule, the Court has the alternative of either hearing the case or deferring the hearing and
determination thereof until the trial on the merits. Thus upon the filing of said motion the court should have set the
motion for hearing or outrightly deny the motion, or otherwise postpone the hearing until the trial on the ground that
the grounds thereof do not appear to be indubitable. The prompt filing and apparently valid grounds invoked in the
motion are not the acts and declarations of a defaulting party.
... (E)ven assuming that the declaration of default of the petitioner was in order we find that the trial court committed
a grave abuse of discretion when it denied the motion for new trial that was filed by the petitioner not only on the
ground of excusable negligence we have above discussed but also on the ground that it has a meritorious defense.
and

... (E)xcessive damages have been awarded to the private respondent. In addition to ordering the petitioner to
deliver to the private respondent the nails ordered by the latter, the petitioner was also ordered to pay not only
P15,000 actual damages for profits that the private respondent could have earned but also consequential damages
of P10,000 for the unrealized profits that the said earnings and capital of the plaintiff could have earned, plus
interest in both instances, exemplary damages of P5,000 and P7,500 for attorney's fees and related expenses of
litigation. Thus for the capital of respondent of P18,100.00 in the purchase of the nails, the petitioner was ordered to
pay damages of a total of P37,500.00, which including the interest awarded can amount to over P40,000, more than
double the value of the said investment of respondent. Under Section 1, Rule 37 of the Rules of Court award of
excessive damages could be a ground for new trial.
The Court concluded its opinion with the observation that "the ends of justice would be better served in this case if
we brush aside technicality and afford the petitioner its day in court.
It was wrong, of course, for Cham Samco to have failed to set its motion to dismiss for hearing on a specified date
and time. The law explicitly requires that notice of a motion shall be served by the appellant to all parties concerned
at least three (3) days before the hearing thereof, together with a copy of the motion, and of any affidavits and other
papers accompanying it; 11 and that the notice shag be directed to the parties concerned, stating the time and place
for the hearing of the motion. 12 The uniform holding of this Court has been that a failure to comply with the
requirement is a fatal flaw. 13 Such notice is required to avoid surprises upon the opposite party and give the latter
time to study and meet the arguments of the motion, as well as to determine or make determinable the time of
submission of the motion for resolution. 14
Cham Samco quite frankly admits its error. It pleads however that under the circumstances the error be not
regarded as irremediable or that it be deemed as constituting excusable negligence, warranting relief. It argues that
legal and logical considerations, which it took to be tenable, caused it to theorize that a hearing on the motion was
dispensable. It also adverts to its position of affirmative defenses in addition to those set out in its motion to dismiss
which if ventilated and established at the trial would absolve it from all liability under the complaint.
Cham Samco's belief that it was not necessary that its motion to dismiss be set for hearing was avowedly
engendered by two factors, namely:
1) the fact that while the Rules of Court "specify the motions which can be heard only with prior service upon
adverse parties, 15 said Rules "do not point out which written motions may be ex parte, preferring, it appears,
to leave to the court, in motions other than those specified, the discretion either to ex parte resolve ... or to
call the parties to a hearing ...; 16and
2) the further fact that its motion to dismiss was based on two grounds on which a hearing was superfluous, the
first, failure of the complaint to state a cause of action, being determinable exclusively from the allegations of
the complaint and no evidence being allowable thereon; and the second, that venue is improperly laid, being
resolvable exclusively on the basis of documents annexed to the motion. 17
These considerations, to be sure, did not erase movant's duty to give notice to the adverse party of the date and
time of the hearing on its motion, the purpose of said notice being, as already stressed, not only to give the latter
time to oppose the motion if so minded, but also to determine the time of its submission for resolution. Without such
notice, the occasion would not arise to determine with reasonable certitude whether and within what time the
adverse party would respond to the motion, and when the motion might already be resolved by the Court. The duty
to give that notice is imposed on the movant, not on the Court.
Withal the reasons for Cham Samco's erroneous notion of the dispensability of a hearing on its motion to dismiss
are not utterly without plausibility. This circumstance, taken together with the fact, found by the Intermediate
Appellate Court and not disputed by petitioner Azajar, that Cham Samco has meritorious defenses which if proven
would defeat Azajar's claim against it, and the eminent desirability more than once stressed by this Court that cases
should be determined on the merits after full opportunity to all parties for ventilation of their causes and defenses,
rather than on technicality or some procedural imperfections, 18 all conduce to concurrence with the Court of Appeals

that "the ends of justice would be better served in this case if we brush aside technicality and afford the petitioner its
day in court.
WHEREFORE, the Resolutions of the Court of Appeals appealed from, are affirmed. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. RTJ-05-1896

April 29, 2005

ATTY. JULIUS NERI, Complainant,


vs.
JUDGE JESUS S. DE LA PEA, respondent.
RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:
This is a case for grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law and/or incompetence filed by Atty. Julius Z. Neri
against Judge Jesus S. de la Pea. It originated from a civil case for damages filed by Emmanuel Aznar against
Citibank (which was represented by complainant as counsel), docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-16474 and raffled to
the Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch XX, presided over by Judge Ferdinand J. Marcos. 1
Plaintiff Aznar had filed suit due to the alleged blacklisting of his Citibank Preferred Mastercard which, according to
him, was dishonored in several establishments in Singapore and Malaysia while he was on holiday, causing him
great inconvenience and embarrassment. He presented, as evidence, several receipts, plane tickets, a computer
print-out allegedly showing that his card had been declined for being "over limit", a statement of account and his
lone testimony.2 Defendant Citibank presented several documentary exhibits to the effect that Aznar's card had not
been placed on any "hot list" and could not possibly have been blacklisted. 3 After trial, Judge Marcos dismissed the
case for lack of merit.4
Dissatisfied with the decision, Aznar filed through counsel a motion for reconsideration, with motion to re-raffle the
case. In an order dated September 11, 1998, Acting Presiding Judge Ramon Codilla (who succeeded Marcos),
citing the fact that he was "occupied with two (2) salas" and the fact that "the Presiding Judge who originally penned
the decision is a credit card holder of CITIBANKwhose membership could naturally influence the outcome of this
case in favor of the defendant bank," directed the re-raffling of the case to RTC Cebu Branch X, presided over by
respondent Judge Jesus de la Pea.5 Respondent then ordered Citibank to file its comment on Aznar's motion for
reconsideration.6 Citibank filed its opposition instead. In an order dated November 25, 1998, respondent granted
Aznar's motion for reconsideration:
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. The DECISION dated May 29, 1998 is hereby
reconsidered, and consequently, the defendant is hereby condemned liable to pay the following sums of money:
a) P10,000,000.00 as moral damages;
b) P 5,000,000.00 as exemplary damages;
c) P 1,000,000.00 as attorney's fees; and
d) P200,000.00 as litigation expenses.
SO ORDERED.7
As a result of the Order, complainant filed this administrative case on July 16, 1999, which was docketed as Control
No. 41-99-P. Charging respondent with dishonesty, he alleged that respondent, contrary to his pronouncement in his
order, had rendered his decision without ever having read the transcripts of the case. 8 To support this contention,
complainant presented certifications from the Clerk of Court of Branch XX 9 and the Clerk of Court of the RTC of
Cebu City10 that the transcripts of the case had remained in their custody and that the respondent never borrowed
them all throughout.
Complainant also charged respondent with gross ignorance of the law and/or incompetence. He alleged that
respondent had improperly considered as a business record Aznar's computer print-out which in reality did not meet
the requisites to be rightly considered as such. Aznar never testified as to the date and time the subject print-out

was encoded, or who encoded and printed the same, nor did he establish personal knowledge of who prepared the
print-out, or whether it was prepared by one responsible for it in his professional capacity or in the performance of
his official duty or in the regular course of his business. Finally, the person who prepared it did not testify in court or
on deposition.
Complainant went on to say that respondent's incompetence and dishonesty showed in his failure to appreciate and
evaluate Citibank's extensive documentary evidence which clearly established that it did not blacklist Aznar's
Mastercard.
Finally, complainant pointed out that the damages respondent awarded to plaintiff Aznar were scandalously
exorbitant. He prayed for respondent's dismissal from the service.
On September 3, 1999, respondent filed his comment. 11 He principally contended that, having appealed from his
decision to the Court of Appeals, the complainant should not have filed this administrative case. Respondent decried
complainant's case as forum-shopping. In his defense, respondent asserted that he had in fact read the transcripts,
having received copies thereof attached to an ex parte manifestation filed by plaintiff Aznar.12 He also defended the
amount of damages he awarded by comparing them to those awarded in a 1973 case, with inflation taken into
account.
Complainant then filed his reply to the comment,13 assailing the ex parte manifestation which respondent had
supposedly relied upon in deciding the case. He pointed out that respondent should not have even considered the
said manifestation because Citibank had not been served a copy and it was filed after office hours. He likewise
refuted respondent's allegations of forum-shopping and impropriety in filing an administrative case while an appeal
was pending.
In his rejoinder, respondent defended his appreciation of the ex parte manifestation. He likewise reiterated his claim
that the administrative complaint should not have been filed with the appeal. 14
On February 28, 2001, the Second Division of this Court resolved to hold the administrative case in abeyance until
the final resolution of the Court of Appeals of CA-GR CV No. 62554, Aznar v. Citibank. By this time, the case had
been re-docketed as AM No. 01-1131-RTJ.15
On January 8, 2004, the Court of Appeals decided in favor of Citibank, vacating respondent's decision and
reinstating the dismissal of the case by Judge Marcos.16 On June 8, 2004, complainant filed a manifestation, with
the Court of Appeals' decision attached, pointing out that this administrative complaint was now ready for resolution.
In a manifestation dated June 14, 2004, respondent prayed for the resolution of the case and once more asked for
its dismissal. He cited the fact that the Court of Appeals decision made no mention of his administrative lapses and
that his decision was an exercise of purely judicial discretion. He also listed the various posts he had held as a
Regional Trial Court judge as well as the commendations he had received from the Honorable Chief Justice. He
also pointed out that this administrative complaint was the only one ever filed against him in all his years of
service.17
In a memorandum dated August 27, 2004, the Office of the Court Administrator reported its findings.
Because respondent based his assailed order mostly on the ex parte manifestation submitted by the counsel for
plaintiff Aznar, the OCA found him liable for violating Section 4, Rule 13, in relation to Section 5, Rule 15 of the
Revised Rules of Civil Procedure:
(Rule 13)
SEC. 4. Papers required to be filed and served. Every judgment, resolution, order, pleading subsequent to the
complaint, written motion, notice, appearance, demand, offer of judgment or similar papers shall be filed with the
court, and served upon the parties affected.

(Rule 15)
SEC. 4. Hearing of motion. Except for motions which the court may act upon without prejudicing the rights of the
adverse party, every written motion shall be set for hearing by the applicant.
According to the OCA, the fact that plaintiff Aznar had failed to serve a copy of his ex parte manifestation upon
Citibank should have been reason enough for respondent to disregard the same.
Likewise noting the fact that the ex parte manifestation was filed beyond office hours, the OCA found that this
"created an idea that there was a covert attempt to favor Aznar." However, citing the absence of substantial
evidence, it pointed out that "it should not be presumed that the procedural lapse committed by respondent (was)
attended by corrupt motive of flagrant disregard of the rules." The OCA also considered in respondent's favor his
defense that he was merely trying to help decongest the dockets. Finally, the OCA found the charges of gross
ignorance of law and incompetence to be without basis, and found him liable instead for simple misconduct. The
OCA recommended a fine of P10,000.
We adopt part of the findings of the Court Administrator.
But we disagree with its finding that the respondent violated both Rules 13 and 15 of the 1997 Revised Rules of
Civil Procedure.
Section 4, Rule 13 requires that adverse parties be served copies of all pleadings and similar papers. Section 4,
Rule 15 requires a movant to set his motion for hearing, unless it is one of those which a court can act upon without
prejudicing the rights of the other party. The prevailing doctrine in our jurisdiction is that a motion without a notice of
hearing addressed to the parties is a mere scrap of paper.18 In Cui v. Judge Madayag,19 we held that "any motion
that does not contain proof of service of notice to the other party is not entitled to judicial cognizance. (Such) motion
is nothing but a (mere) scrap of paper." It is important, however, to note that these doctrines refer exclusively
to motions.
The logic for such a requirement is simple: a motion invariably contains a prayer which the movant makes to the
court, which is usually in the interest of the adverse party to oppose. The notice of hearing to the adverse party is
therefore a form of due process; it gives the other party the opportunity to properly vent his opposition to the prayer
of the movant. In keeping with the principles of due process, therefore, a motion which does not afford the adverse
party the chance to oppose it should simply be disregarded. The same principle applies to objections to
interrogatories which also require a notice of hearing like motions under Section 3, Rule 25 of the Rules. 20
However, the same cannot be said for manifestations which, unless otherwise indicated, are usually made merely
for the information of the court. There is generally nothing to contest or argue; the manifesting party is just making a
statement for the knowledge of the court, such as in this case. There is nothing in either the Rules or in
jurisprudence that requires judges to disregard a manifestation that does not have proof of service.
This is not to say, however, that respondent is off the hook. While it is true that he was under no obligation to
disregard Aznar's ex parte manifestation, he should have at least called attention to its irregularity, both by
admonishing Aznar and by informing the adverse party of its filing. That he acted on it indeed, based his
decision on it while Citibank was totally unaware of its existence ran seriously afoul of the precepts of fair play,
specially since respondent only mentioned the document after this administrative case was filed against him.
Indeed, there seems to be something gravely amiss in respondent's sense of fairness and righteousness, the
primary requisites of a good judge.
Furthermore, we cannot help but find extreme bias and bad intent in respondent's award to Aznar of a
whopping P16.2 million in damages considering that, not having tried the case himself, the only records he actually
read came from no one else but Aznar himself. By itself, the unconscionable amount of the award evinces
indubitable malice on respondent's part and the shady circumstances in which he granted it show that he knowingly
rendered a manifestly unjust decision.

As a member of the judiciary, respondent's every action is supposed to be beyond reproach and above suspicion.
The 2004 Code of Judicial Conduct clearly states that "Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of
impropriety in all of their activities."21 By acting on a document which was sorely defective (for two reasons: failure to
serve a copy on the adverse party and failure to file it during office hours), and by making an egregiously large
award of damages in favor of plaintiff Aznar, he inevitably opened himself up to suspicion of having entered into a
dirty, secret deal with Aznar and thereby severely tarnished the impartiality with which he was at all times supposed
to conduct himself.
Given respondent's actions, we disagree with the OCA's findings of simple misconduct. Because of the highly
anomalous manner in which respondent rendered his decision, as well as the questionable content of the decision
itself, which was eventually overturned by the Court of Appeals, we find him guilty of knowingly rendering an unjust
judgment or order as determined by a competent court in an appropriate proceeding. 22
The penalty for this offense ranges from a fine of P20,000, to suspension from three to six months, to dismissal from
the service.23 In this case, the penalty of suspension for six months is appropriate, with a warning that another such
infraction of this nature will warrant a more severe penalty.
WHEREFORE, Judge JESUS S. DE LA PEA is hereby found GUILTY of knowingly rendering an unjust judgment
or order as determined by a competent court in an appropriate proceeding and is hereby SUSPENDED from office
for six months. Considering the gravity of this offense, he is hereby warned that another infraction of this kind will
merit a penalty beyond mere suspension from public office.
SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. RTJ-04-1886

May 16, 2005

ALFREDO G. BOISER, complainant,


vs.
JUDGE JOSE Y. AGUIRRE, JR., REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 55, HIMAMAYLAN CITY, NEGROS
OCCIDENTAL, respondent.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
The instant administrative case arose from the complaint1 of Alfredo G. Boiser filed with the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA) charging Judge Jose Y. Aguirre, Jr., Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Himamaylan City, Negros
Occidental, Branch 55, with Grave Abuse of Discretion and Gross Ignorance of the Law.
Complainant Alfredo Boiser was the plaintiff in an ejectment case filed before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of
Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental. On 11 July 2003, the MTC rendered a decision 2 in favor of complainant, the
dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant as follows:
1) For the defendant to vacate subject land known as Lot No. 2023 situated at Brgy. Candumarao, Hinigaran,
Negros Occiental, consisting of 5.5536 hectares leased by the plaintiff from Mary Nonasco and Ofelia Donado, heirs
of the registered owners, the late spouses Narciso Gayares and Paz Nava, and to peacefully turn over possession
thereof to the plaintiff;
2) For the defendant to pay plaintiff the amount of P200,000.00 by way of actual damages;
3) For defendant to pay plaintiff attorneys fees in the amount of P10,000.00 plus P1,000.00 as appearance fee and
to pay the cost.
The writ of preliminary injunction issued by the Court is hereby ordered dismissed.
The case was appealed to the RTC of Negros Occidental, Branch 55.
On 15 October 2003, defendant-appellant Salvador Julleza filed a motion to release bond on the ground that the
MTC of Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, in its decision dated 11 July 2003, had already resolved the writ of
preliminary injunction without mentioning the applicants liability.
On 16 October 2003, respondent judge granted the motion.3
Complainant alleged that the issuance by respondent judge of the Order dated 16 October 2003 is indicative of his
ignorance of the law considering that the motion did not state that he was furnished a copy of the motion thereby
depriving him of his right to due process. He also averred that the motion was a mere scrap of paper for failure to
state the time and date of hearing. He further alleged that respondent manifested gross ignorance when he resolved
to grant the motion to release the injunction bond considering that the same was meant to answer for damages that
he may suffer due to defendants continued illegal possession of the land.
On 15 January 2004, the OCA required4 respondent to file his comment.
In his comment5 dated 12 February 2004, respondent judge maintained that the filing of the administrative complaint
against him is hasty and uncalled for. He said there must have been a miscommunication between the complainant
and his counsel because had either of them exerted effort to find out the result of the appealed case, they would
have discovered that he affirmed in toto the decision of the lower court in favor of the complainant.
On 14 April 2004, complainant filed6 a motion to withdraw complaint.

On 3 August 2004, the OCA submitted its recommendation, 7 thus:


Respectfully submitted to the Honorable Court our recommendation that this administrative case be REDOCKETED as a regular administrative matter and that respondent Judge Jose Y. Aguirre, Jr., be FINED in the
amount of P21,000.00 for Gross Ignorance of the Law and be STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or
similar acts will be dealt with more severely.
On 17 November 2004, we referred8 the case to Court of Appeals Justice Monina Zenarosa for investigation, report
and investigation. Consequently, the case was scheduled for preliminary conference on 17 February 2005. On the
said date, complainant Alfredo Boiser, with his counsel Atty. Salvador Sabio, and respondent judge appeared.
During the preliminary conference, Atty. Sabio manifested that the complainant had already filed his motion to
withdraw the complaint and was no longer interested in pursuing the case. On the other hand, respondent judge
manifested he had retired from the service as of 01 November 2004 and is now appearing as a private citizen. He
further informed the court that he was submitting the case without further comment as he had already filed his
comment to the complaint.
After investigation, Justice Zenarosa submitted her report9 recommending the dismissal of the complaint.
Prefatorily, the Court must reiterate the rule that mere desistance on the part of the complainant does not warrant
the dismissal of an administrative complaint against any member of the bench. The withdrawal of complaints cannot
divest the Court of its jurisdiction nor strip it of its power to determine the veracity of the charges made and to
discipline, such as the results of its investigation may warrant, an erring respondent. The courts interest in the
affairs of the judiciary is a paramount concern that must not know bounds. 10
Anent respondents retirement on 01 November 2004, it has been settled that the Court is not ousted of its
jurisdiction over an administrative case by the mere fact that the respondent public official ceases to hold office
during the pendency of respondents case.11 This was expounded in the case of Perez v. Abiera,12 cited in the case
of Judge Rolando G. How v. Teodora Ruiz, et. al.,13 thus:
[T]he jurisdiction that was Ours at the time of the filing of the administrative complaint was not lost by the mere fact
that the respondent public official had ceased to be in office during the pendency of his case. The court retains its
jurisdiction either to pronounce the respondent official innocent of the charges or declare him guilty thereof. A
contrary rule would be fraught with injustices and pregnant with dreadful and dangerous implications. x x x If only for
reasons of public policy, this Court must assert and maintain its jurisdiction over members of the judiciary and other
officials under its supervision and control for acts performed in office which are inimical to the service and prejudicial
to the interests of litigants and the general public. If innocent, respondent official merits vindication of his name and
integrity as he leaves the government which he served well and faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to receive the
corresponding censure and a penalty proper and imposable under the situation.
We shall now discuss respondents liability relative to the lack of notice of hearing and proof of service of the
questioned motion.
The Rules of Court requires that every motion must be set for hearing by the movant, except those motions which
the court may act upon without prejudicing the rights of the adverse party. The notice of hearing must be addressed
to all parties and must specify the time and date of the hearing, with proof of service. Sections 4, 5 and 6 of Rule 15
of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure provide:
SECTION 4. Hearing of motion.- Except for motions which the court may act upon without prejudicing the rights of
the adverse party, every written motion shall be set for hearing by the applicant.
Every written motion required to be heard and the notice of the hearing thereof shall be served in such a manner as
to ensure its receipt by the other party at least three (3) days before the date of hearing, unless the court for good
cause sets the hearing on shorter notice.

SEC. 5. Notice of hearing.- The notice of hearing shall be addressed to all parties concerned, and shall specify the
time and date of the hearing which must not be later than ten (10) days after the filing of the motion.
SEC. 6. Proof of service necessary.- No written motion set for hearing shall be acted upon by the court without proof
of service thereof.
It appears that the Motion to Release Bond was defective as it did not have a proper notice of hearing. The date and
time of the hearing were not specified. Neither complainant nor his counsel was furnished a copy thereof. These
were never controverted by respondent judge.
A motion without notice of hearing is pro forma, a mere scrap of paper. It presents no question which the court could
decide. The court has no reason to consider it and the clerk has no right to receive it. The rationale behind the rule
is plain: unless the movant sets the time and place of hearing, the court will be unable to determine whether the
adverse party agrees or objects to the motion, and if he objects, to hear him on his objection, since the rules
themselves do not fix any period within which he may file his reply or opposition. 14 The objective of the rule is to
avoid a capricious change of mind in order to provide due process to both parties and ensure impartiality in the
trial.15
Also, without proof of service to the adverse party, a motion is nothing but an empty formality deserving no judicial
cognizance.16 The rule mandates that the same shall not be acted upon by the court. Proof of service is mandatory.17
As can be seen the law involved is simple and elementary, lack of conversance therewith constitutes gross
ignorance of the law. Judges are expected to exhibit more than just cursory acquaintance with statutes and
procedural laws. They must know the laws and apply them properly in all good faith. Judicial competence requires
no less.18
Clearly, respondent judge had ignored a fundamental rule. He acted too precipitately in granting defendants motion
despite the absence of the requirements as above prescribed. As a judge, Judge Aguirre is expected to keep
abreast of laws and prevailing jurisprudence.19 Unfamiliarity with the rules is a sign of incompetence. Basic rules
must be at the palm of his hand. A judge must be acquainted with legal norms and precepts as well as with
procedural rules.20 When a judge displays utter lack of familiarity with the rules, he erodes the confidence of the
public in the courts.21 Ignorance of the law by a judge can easily be the mainspring of injustice. 22
Thus, in the following cases a fine of Five Thousand Pesos was imposed:
1. In Mutilan v. Adiong,23 A.M. No. RTJ-00-1581, 2 July 2002, 383 SCRA 513, the Court found respondent
judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law for granting a motion for garnishment without compliance with the
proof of service and notice of hearing requirements, and was sentenced to pay a fine of Five Thousand
(P5,000.00) Pesos with a stern warning that repetition of the same or similar acts in the future will be dealt
with more severely.
2. In Espino v. Salubre,24 the court found respondent judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law and was
sentenced to pay a fine of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00), when respondent judge continued with the
investigation and subsequent issuance of a warrant of arrest against complainant notwithstanding that the
records of the case had been transmitted to the provincial fiscal and an information has already been filed in
court.
3. In Josefina M. Villanueva v. MTC Judge Benjamin E. Almazan,25 the court found respondent judge guilty of
gross ignorance of the law and was sentenced to pay a fine of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00), with stern
warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely, when he conducted a
preliminary investigation in a case cognizable by the Municipal Trial Court.
4. In Acting Solicitor General Romeo de la Cruz v. Judge Carlito A. Eisma, RTC, Branch 13, Zamboanga
City,26 a fine of P5,000.00 was imposed on the respondent judge for gross ignorance of the law and abuse of
authority, for preventing the execution of the decision of the RTC, Branch 17, a court of equal rank and
jurisdiction.

Ignorance of the law, which everyone is bound to know, excuses no one 27 - much more so judges. It is a truism that
the life chosen by a judge as a dispenser of justice is one which is demanding. By virtue of the delicate position
which he occupies in the society, he is duty bound to be the embodiment of competence and integrity.28 Because of
this, a judge who is not knowledgeable of the law which he is obligated to implement will not be able to live up to the
judiciarys exacting standards.29
WHEREFORE, the Court finds Judge Jose Y. Aguirre, Jr., of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental, Branch
55, guilty of gross ignorance of the law, and hereby imposes on him a fine of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00)
to be deducted from his retirement benefits.
SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. RTJ-05-1921 September 30, 2005


(Formerly OCA IPI No. 04-1973-RTJ)
MA. TERESA H. DE JESUS, Complainant, vs. JUDGE RENATO J. DILAG, PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 73, OLONGAPO CITY, Respondent.
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J:
In a complaint1 dated February 4, 2004 filed with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), complainant Maria
Teresa H. De Jesus charged respondent Judge Renato J. Dilag of the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City, Branch
73, with gross ignorance of the law, rendering unjust orders, abuse of authority and misuse of court processes.
Complainant alleged inter alia that on August 26, 2002, her husband Wolfgang Heinrich Konrad Harlinghausen
(Harlinghausen) filed a petition for declaration of nullity of their marriage with the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo
City, Branch 73, docketed as Civil Case No. 364-0-2002.
On August 27, 2002, Harlinghausen, through counsel, filed an "Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Preserve Properties to be
Collated." On the same day, respondent judge issued an Order 2 setting the hearing of the motion on August 30,
2002.
On August 29, 2002, complainant received summons in Civil Case No. 364-0-2002. Forthwith, she filed a motion to
dismiss the complaint on the ground of improper venue. This was denied by respondent judge.
On August 30, 2002, respondent judge considered the "Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Preserve Properties to be
Collated" submitted for resolution after hearing the testimonies of Harlinghausens attorney-in-fact, Harry E. Joost,
and his counsel of record, Atty. Edmundo S. Carian.
On September 3, 2002, respondent judge issued an Order3 granting the urgent ex-parte motion and placing under
legal custody the properties enumerated therein. The Register of Deeds of Tarlac, among others, was directed to
annotate the Order on the 62 land titles allegedly purchased by Harlinghausens wife using his money without his
consent.
On October 2, 2002, Harlinghausen, through counsel, filed another Ex-Parte Motion praying for the issuance of an
Order directing the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) to allow him to enter this country in order to
prosecute his petition for declaration of nullity of marriage.
On October 4, 2002, respondent judge issued an Order granting Harlinghausens Ex-Parte Motion.
Eventually, complainant filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari assailing respondent judges Order
dated September 3, 2002 granting Harlinghausens Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Preserve Properties to be Collated;
Order dated October 4, 2002 granting his Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to enter this country; and Order denying her
(complainants) motion to dismiss the complaint for improper venue. Complainant averred that in issuing the
challenged Orders, respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of
jurisdiction. The petition was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 74167.
On February 20, 2003, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision4 granting complainants petition, declaring void the
assailed Orders dated September 3 and October 4, 2002 and dismissing the complaint in Civil Case No. 364-0-2002
for declaration of marriage for improper venue.
Harlinghausen filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied by the Appellate Court. He then filed with this
Court a petition for review on certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 158333. In a Resolution of June 23, 2003, we denied
the petition for his failure to show that the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error. Upon finality of our
Resolution on August 12, 2003, an Entry of Judgment was made on October 3, 2003. 5

Complainant now contends that respondent judge, in issuing the Order of September 3, 2002 granting
Harlinghausens Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Preserve Properties to be Collated, is ignorant of the law and abused his
authority. The motion lacks the notice of hearing to be served upon the adverse party three (3) days before the
hearing; and proof of service of the motion upon the adverse party.
Complainant further contends that in issuing the Order dated October 4, 2002 directing the BID to allow
Harlinghausen to enter this country, respondent judge abused his authority and misused court processes.
In his comment, respondent judge explained that he did not disregard the basic procedural rules. Although
the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Preserve Properties to be Collated lacks a notice of hearing, nevertheless he set the
motion for hearing to enable the adverse party, herein complainant, to participate therein or to file an opposition.
Besides, the Rules allow him to act upon an ex-parte motion requiring "quick action," like the motion before him.
There was urgency considering that the conjugal funds are being misappropriated by complainant. Moreover, he
conducted clarificatory hearing. At any rate, his questioned Order is not tainted with "bad faith or fraud."
With respect to the Order of October 4, 2002, respondent judge explained that he did not overstep his jurisdiction.
He recognized the authority of the BID. In fact, he stated in his questioned Order that it is without prejudice to the
authority of the BID over Harlinghausen.
In his Report and Recommendation, Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. stated inter alia that:
"A thorough examination of the instant case reveals abuse of authority bordering on gross ignorance of the law.
Records show that, relative to the petition for declaration of nullity of marriage, respondent Judge issued at least two
orders that were bluntly nullified by the appellate court. The rules and principles ignored were so basic, and haste
was characteristically palpable from the incidents.
xxx
Likewise, respondent cannot take shield from the fact that his assailed orders were already set aside by the
appellate court through the proper judicial remedies. Precisely, his cited jurisprudence itself explicitly states, It is
only after the available judicial remedies have been exhausted or when the appellate tribunal have spoken with
finality that the door to an inquiry to his administrative liability may be said to have opened or closed. A display of
haste and disregard of basic rules is a norm incompatible with the prudent attitude and sobriety expected of a good
judge."
He recommended that:
"1. The instant complaint be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative matter;
2. The respondent Judge, for abuse of authority and gross ignorance of the law, be accordingly meted a FINE in the
amount of twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) with a WARNING that future similar infractions shall be dealt with
more severely."
In our Resolution6 dated January 24, 2005, we required the parties to manifest whether they are submitting the case
for resolution on the basis of the pleadings and records filed.
Subsequently, both parties submitted their respective Manifestations stating their willingness to submit the case for
decision based on the records.
On the challenged Order of September 3, 2002, Sections 4, 5 and 6, Rule 15 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
as amended, are pertinent, thus:
SECTION 4. Hearing of motion. Except for motions which the court may act upon without prejudicing the rights of
the adverse party, every written motion shall be set for hearing by the applicant.

Every written motion required to be heard and the notice of the hearing thereof shall be served in such a manner as
to ensure its receipt by the other party at least three (3) days before the date of hearing, unless the court for good
cause sets the hearing on shorter notice.
SECTION 5. Notice of hearing. The notice of hearing shall be addressed to all parties concerned, and shall specify
the time and date of the hearing which must not be later than ten (10) days after the filing of the motion.
SECTION 6. Proof of service necessary. No written motion set for hearing shall be acted upon by the court without
proof of service thereof.
Obviously, respondent judge blatantly disregarded the above provisions. Instead of denying the motion outright for
being manifestly defective, he granted the same. While he set the motion for hearing, still the three-day notice was
not observed, thus complainant failed to attend the hearing. Clearly, she was deprived of her right to due process.
When a judge fails to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law, or a principle in the discharge of his duties, he is
either too incompetent and undeserving of his position, or is too vicious that the oversight or omission was
deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority. In both instances, the judges dismissal is in
order.7
Likewise, respondents failure to afford complainant the opportunity to be heard as a matter of due process of law
deserves administrative sanction.8
Relative to the challenged Order dated October 4, 2002, respondent judge shows his ignorance of the Philippine
Immigration Act of 1940, as amended. This law confers upon the Commissioner of the BID, to the exclusion of the
courts of justice, the power and authority to enforce its provisions, specifically the admission of foreigners to this
country.
We sustain the observation of the Court of Appeals9 that the Order of respondent judge directing the BID to allow the
entry of Harlinghausen to this country would effectively countermand the order of detention 10issued by the BID and
"constitutes an intrusion into its prerogatives as regards the entry, admission, exclusion, registration, repatriation,
monitoring and deportation of foreigners within our national territory."
In his desperate attempt to evade administrative sanction, respondent judge maintains that since complainant has
already resorted to a proper remedy, i.e., by filing a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals questioning his
twin Orders, she is barred from filing the instant administrative complaint involving the same Orders. He cited our
ruling in Hilario vs. Ocampo III, 371 SCRA 260 (2001) that "where some judicial means is available, an
administrative complaint is not the appropriate remedy for an act of a judge deemed aberrant or irregular."
While it is true that the Court of Appeals has set aside the questioned twin Orders, the fact remains that respondent
judge has shown his ignorance of both substantive and procedural laws which warrants an administrative sanction.
The Court recognizes that "not every judicial error bespeaks ignorance of the law and that, if committed in good
faith, does not warrant administrative sanction, but only in cases within the parameters of tolerable misjudgment.
Where, however, the procedure is so simple and the facts so evident as to be beyond permissible margins of error,
as in this case, to still err thereon amounts to ignorance of the law."11
In this case, respondent judge displayed a deplorable deficiency in his grasp of the basic principles governing
motions, specifically, the three-day notice rule and the requisite proof of service. Also, he showed his utter lack of
knowledge and understanding of our immigration laws.
As an advocate of justice and a visible representation of the law, a judge is expected to keep abreast with and be
proficient in the application and interpretation of the law.12 When the law is sufficiently basic, as what is involved in
the present case, a judge owes it to his office to simply apply it; anything less than that would be gross ignorance of
the law.13

In Tugot v. Coliflores,14 we held that judicial competence demands that judges should be proficient in both
procedural and substantive aspects of the law. Anything less than this strict standard would subject them to
administrative sanction.
It is imperative that judges be conversant with basic legal principles. The Code of Judicial Conduct, in fact, enjoins
judges to "be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence." 15
Under Section 1, Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court on the Discipline of Justices and Judges, gross ignorance
of the law is classified as a serious charge punishable by either dismissal from the service, suspension from office or
a fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.
We believe that an imposition of P30,000.00 fine upon respondent judge is in order.
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Renato J. Dilag is hereby found GUILTY of gross ignorance of the law and is
ordered to pay a FINE of THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS (P30,000.00) upon notice.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. Nos. 79690-707 October 7, 1988

ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and HONORABLE RAUL M. GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as
Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution, respondents.
G.R. No. 80578 October 7, 1988
ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner,
vs.
HON. RAUL M. GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman ombudsman under the
1987 Constitution, respondent.
PER CURIAM:
The following are the subjects of this Resolution:
1) a Motion, dated 9 February 1988, to Cite in Contempt filed by petitioner Enrique A. Zaldivar against public
respondent Special Prosecutor (formerly Tanodbayan) Raul M. Gonzalez, in connection with G.R. Nos. 79690-707
and G.R. No. 80578. and 2) a Resolution of this Court dated 2 May 1988 requiring respondent Hon. Raul Gonzalez
to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt and/or subjected to administrative sanctions for making
certain public statements.
I
The pertinent facts are as follows:
Petitioner Zaldivar is one of several defendants in Criminal Cases Nos.
12159-12161 and 12163-12177 (for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) pending before the
Sandiganbayan. The Office of the Tanodbayan conducted the preliminary investigation and filed the criminal
informations in those cases (originally TBP Case No. 86-00778).
On 10 September 1987, petitioner filed with this Court a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus (G.R.
Nos. 79690-707) naming as respondents both the Sandiganbayan and Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez. Among other things,
petitioner assailed: (1) the 5 February 1987 Resolution 1 of the "Tanodbayan" recommending the filing of criminal
informations against petitioner Zaldivar and his co-accused in TBP Case No. 86-00778; and (2) the 1 September 1987
Resolution 2 of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and 1216312177 denying his Motion to Quash
the criminal informations filed in those cases by the "Tanodbayan." In this respect, petitioner alleged that respondent
Gonzalez, as Tanodbayan and under the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, was no longer vested with power and
authority independently to investigate and to institute criminal cases for graft and corruption against public officials and
employees, and hence that the informations filed in Criminal Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and 12163-12177 were all null and
void.
On 11 September 1987, this Court issued a Resolution, which read:
G.R. Nos. 79690-707 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. The Honorable Sandiganbayan and Honorable Raul
M. Gonzalez, Claiming To Be and Acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution ).
Acting on the special civil action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court, with urgent motion for preliminary elimination injunction, the Court Resolved, without
giving due course to the petition, to require the respondents to COMMENT thereon, within ten (10)
days from notice.

The Court further Resolved to ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER, effective


immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, ordering respondent Sandiganbayan
to CEASE and DESIST from hearing and trying Criminal Cases Nos. 12159 to 12161 and 12163 to
12177 insofar as petitioner Enrique Zaldivar is concerned and from hearing and resolving the
Special Prosecutor's motion to suspend dated September 3, 1987.
The parties later filed their respective pleadings.
Petitioner Zaldivar filed with this Court a second Petition for certiorari and Prohibition (G.R. No. 80578) on 19
November 1987, initially naming only Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez as respondent. That Petition assailed the 24
September 1987 Resolution 3 of the "Tanodbayan" in TBP Case No. 87- 01304 recommending that additional criminal
charges for graft and corruption be filed against petitioner Zaldivar and five (5) other individuals. Once again, petitioner
raised the argument of the Tanodbayan's lack of authority under the 1987 Constitution to file such criminal cases and to
investigate the same. Petitioner also moved for the consolidation of that petition with G.R. No. 79690-707.
In a Resolution dated 24 November 1987, 4 this Court, without giving due course to the second petition: (1) required
respondent Gonzalez to submit a comment thereon: and (2) issued a temporary restraining order "ordering respondent
Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez to CEASE and DESIST from further acting in TBP Case No. 87-01394 ... and particularly, from
filing the criminal information consequent thereof and from conducting preliminary investigation therein." In a separate
resolution of the same date, 5 G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and G.R. No. 80578 were ordered consolidated by the Court.
In the meantime, however, on 20 November 1987 or four (4) days prior to issuance by this Court of a temporary
restraining order in G.R. No. 80578, the Office of the Tanodbayan instituted Criminal Case No. 12570 6 with the
Sandiganbayan which issued on 23 November 1987 an Order of Arrest 7 for petitioner Zaldivar and his co-accused in
Criminal Case No. 12570. Upon Motion 8 of petitioner Zaldivar, this Court issued the following Resolution on 8 December
1987:
G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez and Sandiganbayan). The motion
filed by the Solicitor General for respondents for an extension of thirty (30) days from the expiration
of the original period within which to file comment on the petition for certiorari and prohibition with
prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction or restraining order is GRANTED.
Acting on the manifestation with motion to treat the Sandiganbayan as party-respondent, the Court
Resolved to (a) Consider IMPLEADED the Sandiganbayan as party respondent; and (b) In
pursuance of and supplementing the Temporary Restraining Order of November 24, 1987 "ordering
respondent Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez to CEASE and DESIST from further acting in TBP Case No. 8701304 entitled, "Commission on Audit vs. Gov. Enrique Zaldivar, et al." and particularly, from filing
the criminal information consequent thereof and from conducting preliminary investigation therein"
ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER effective immediately and continuing until further
orders from this Court, ordering respondents Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez and Sandiganbayan to CEASE
and DESIST from further acting in Criminal Case No. 12570, entitled, "People of the Philippines vs.
Enrique M. Zaldivar, et al." and from enforcing the order of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan in
said case.
The Solicitor General filed a Comment 9 on the petition in G.R. No. 80578, and we required the petitioner to submit a
Reply 10 thereto.
On 9 February 1988, petitioner Zaldivar filed with the Court a Motion to Cite in Contempt 11 directed at respondent
Gonzalez. The Motion cited as bases the acts of respondent Gonzalez in: (1) having caused the filing of the information
against petitioner in Criminal Case No. 12570 before the Sandiganbayan; and (2) issuing certain allegedly contemptuous
statements to the media in relation to the proceedings in G.R. No. 80578. In respect of the latter, petitioner annexed to his

Motion a photocopy of a news article, reproduced here in toto, which appeared in the 30 November 1987 issue of the
"Philippine Daily Globe:"

Tanod Scores SC for Quashing Graft Case


TANODBAYAN Justice Raul M. Gonzalez said yesterday the Supreme Court order stopping him
from investigating graft cases involving Antique Gov. Enrique Zaldivar can aggravate the thought that
affluent persons "an prevent the progress of a trial."
What I am afraid of (with the issuance of the order) is that it appears that while rich and influential
persons get favorable actions from the Supreme Court, it is difficult for an ordinary litigant to get his
petition to be given due course. Gonzalez told the Daily Globe in an exclusive interview.
Gonzalez said the high tribunal's order '"eightens the people's apprehension over the justice system
in this country, especially because the people have been thinking that only the small fly can get it
while big fishes go scot-free."
Gonzalez was reacting to an order issued by the tribunal last week after Zaldivar petitioned the court
to stop the Tanodbayan from investigating graft cases filed against him.
Zaldivar had charged that Gonzalez was biased in his investigations because the latter wanted to
help promote the political fortunes of a friend from Antique, lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan.
Acting on Zaldivar's petition, the high court stopped Gonzalez from investigating a graft charge
against the governor, and from instituting any complaint with the Sandiganbayan.
While President Aquino had been prodding me to prosecute graft cases even if they involve the high
and mighty, the Supreme Court had been restraining me. Gonzalez said.
In accordance with the President's order, Gonzalez said he had filed graft cases against two "very
powerful" officials of the Aquino government-Commissioner Quintin Doromal of the Presidential
Commission on Good Government and Secretary Jiamil I.M. Dianlan of the Office of Muslim Affairs
and Cultural Communities.
While I don't wish to discuss the merits of the Zaldivar petition before the Supreme Court, I am a
little bit disturbed that (the order) can aggravate the thinking of some people that affluent persons
can prevent the progress of a trial, he said.
He disclosed that he had a talk with the Chief Executive over the weekend and that while she
symphatizes with local officials who are charged in court during election time, 'She said that it might
be a disservice to the people and the voters who are entitled to know their candidates.
Gonzalez said that while some cases filed against local officials during election time could be mere
harassment suits, the Constitution makes it a right of every citizen to be informed of the character of
tile candidate, who should be subject to scrutiny. (Emphasis supplied)
Acting on petitioner's Motion to Cite in Contempt, the Court on 16 February 1988 required respondent Gonzalez "to
COMMENT on aforesaid Motion within ten (10) days from notice." 12 On 27 April 1988, the Court rendered its
Decision 13 (per curiam) in the Consolidated Petitions. The dispositive portion thereof read:
WHEREFORE, We hereby:

(1) GRANT the consolidated petitions filed by petitioner Zaldivar and hereby NULLIFY the criminal
informations filed against him in the Sandiganbayan; and
(2) ORDER respondent Raul Gonzalez to cease and desist from conducting investigations and filing
criminal cases with the Sandiganbayan or otherwise exercising the powers and functions of the
Ombudsman.
SO ORDERED.
A Motion for Reconsideration 14 was filed by respondent Gonzalez the next day, 28 April 1988. In his Motion, respondent
Gonzalez, after having argued the legal merits of his position, made the following statements totally unrelated to any legal
issue raised either in the Court's Decision or in his own Motion:
1. That he "ha(d) been approached twice by a leading member of the court ... and he was asked to
'go slow on Zaldivar and 'not to be too hard on him;' "
2. That he "was approached and asked to refrain from investigating the COA report on illegal
disbursements in the Supreme Court because 'it will embarass the Court;" and
3. That "(i)n several instances, the undersigned respondent was called over the phone by a leading
member of the Court and was asked to dismiss the cases against (two Members of the Court)."
Respondent Gonzalez also attached three (3) handwritten notes 15 which he claimed were sent by "some members of
this Honorable Court, interceeding for cases pending before this office (i.e., the Tanodbayan)." He either released his
Motion for Reconsideration with facsimiles of said notes to the press or repeated to the press the above extraneous
statements: the metropolitan papers for the next several days carried long reports on those statements and variations and
embellishments thereof On 2 May 1988, the Court issued the following Resolution in the Consolidated Petitions:
G.R. No. 79690-707 (Enrique Zaldivar vs. The Hon. Sandiganbayan, et al. G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique
A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez, etc).
1. Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent Gonzalez under date of April 28,
1988, the Court Resolved to REQUIRE the petitioner to COMMENT thereon within ten (10) days
from notice hereof.
2. It appearing that respondent Raul M. Gonzalez has made public statements to the media which
not only deal with matters subjudice but also appear offensive to and disrespectful of the Court and
its individual members and calculated, directly or indirectly, to bring the Court into disrepute, discredit
and ridicule and to denigrate and degrade the administration of justice, the Court Resolved to require
respondent Gonzalez to explain in writing within ten (10) days from notice hereof, why he should not
be punished for contempt of court and/or subjected to administrative sanctions for making such
public statements reported in the media, among others, in the issues of the "Daily Inquirer," the
"Journal," the "Manila Times," the "Philippine Star," the "Manila Chronicle" the "Daily Globe" and the
"Manila Standard" of April 29 and 30, and May 1, 1988, to wit:
(a) That the Court resolution in question is merely "an offshoot of the position he had taken that the
SC Justices cannot claim immunity from suit or investigation by government prosecutors or
motivated by a desire to stop him 'from investigating cases against some of their proteges or
friends;"

(b) That no less than six of the members of the Court "interceded for and on behalf of persons with
pending cases before the Tanodbayan," or sought "to pressure him to render decisions favorable to
their colleagues and friends;"
(c) That attempts were made to influence him to go slow on Zaldivar and not to be too hard on him
and to refrain from investigating the Commission on Audit report on illegal disbursements in the
Supreme Court because it will embarass the Court;
(d) That there were also attempts to cause the dismissal of cases against two Associate Justices;
and
(e) That the Court had dismissed judges' without rhyme or reason' and disbarred lawyers 'without
due process.
3. It further appearing that three (3) affidavits relative to the purpose of and circumstances attendant
upon the notes written to said public respondent by three (3) members of the Court have since been
submitted to the Court and now form part of its official records, the Court further Resolved to require
the Clerk of Court to ATTACH to this Resolution copies of said sworn statements and the annexes
thereto appended, and to DIRECT respondent Gonzalez also to comment thereon within the same
period of ten (10) days.
4. It finally appearing that notice of the Resolution of February 16, 1988 addressed to respondent
Gonzalez was misdelivered and therefore not served on him, the Court Resolved to require the Clerk
of Court to CAUSE SERVICE of said Resolution on the respondent and to REQUIRE the latter to
comply therewith.
Respondent Gonzalez subsequently filed with this Court on 9 May 1988 an Omnibus Motion for Extension and
Inhibition 16 alleging, among other things: that the above quoted 2 May 1988 Resolution of the Court "appears to have
overturned that presumption [of innocence] against him:" and that "he gravely doubts whether that 'cold neutrality [of an
impartial judge] is still available to him" there being allegedly "at least 4 members of this Tribunal who will not be able to sit
in judgment with substantial sobriety and neutrality." Respondent Gonzalez closed out his pleading with a prayer that the
four (4) Members of the Court Identified and referred to there by him inhibit themselves in the deliberation and resolution
of the Motion to Cite in Contempt.
On 19 May 1988 17 after receipt of respondent's Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. 18 this Court in an
extended per curiam Resolution 19 denied the Motion and Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. That denial was
made "final and immediately executory.
Respondent Gonzalez has since then filed the following pleadings of record:
1. Manifestation with Supplemental Motion to Inhibition

20

dated 23 May 1988;

2. Motion to Transfer Administrative Proceedures to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines 21dated 20
May 1988
3. Urgent Motion for Additional Extension of Time to File Explanation Ex Abundante
Cautelam, 22 dated 26 May 1988;
4. Urgent Ex-Parte Omnibus Motion
(a) For Extension of Time

(b) For Inhibition and


(c) For Transfer of Administrative Proceedings to the IBP, Under Rule 139-B 23 dated 4 June 1988
(with Annex "A;" 24 an anonymous letter dated 27 May 1988 from the alleged Concerned Employees of the
Supreme Court and addressed to respondent):
5. Ex-Parte Manifestation 25 dated 7 June 1988;
6. Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration 26 1988; and
7. Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation with Motion 27 member 1988.
In compliance with the 2 May 1988 Resolution of this Court quoted earlier, respondent Gonzalez submitted on 17
June 1988 an Answer with Explanation and Comment 28 offering respondent's legal arguments and defenses against
the contempt and disciplinary charges presently pending before this Court. Attached to that pleading as Annex "A" thereof
was respondent's own personal Explanation/Compliance 29 second explanation called "Compliance," 30 with annexes, was
also submitted by respondent on 22 July 1988.
II
We begin by referring to the authority of the Supreme Court to discipline officers of the court and members of the
Bar. The Supreme Court, as regulator and guardian of the legal profession, has plenary disciplinary authority over
attorneys. The authority to discipline lawyers stems from the Court's constitutional mandate to regulate admission to
the practice of law, which includes as well authority to regulate the practice itself of
law. 31 Quite apart from this constitutional mandate, the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court over members of the
Bar is an inherent power incidental to the proper administration of justice and essential to an orderly discharge of judicial
functions. 32 Moreover, the Supreme Court has inherent power to punish for contempt, to control in the furtherance of
justice the conduct of ministerial officers of the Court including lawyers and all other persons connected in any manner
with a case before the Court. 33 The power to punish for contempt is "necessary for its own protection against an improper
interference with the due administration of justice," "(it) is not dependent upon the complaint of any of the parties litigant. 34
There are, in other words, two (2) related powers which come into play in cases like that before us here; the Court's
inherent power to discipline attorneys and the contempt power. The disciplinary authority of the Court over members
of the Bar is broader than the power to punish for contempt. Contempt of court may be committee both by lawyers
and non-lawyers, both in and out of court. Frequently, where the contemnor is a lawyer, the contumacious conduct
also constitutes professional misconduct which calls into play the disciplinary authority of the Supreme
Court. 35 Where the respondent is a lawyer, however, the Supreme Court's disciplinary authority over lawyers may come
into play whether or not the misconduct with which the respondent is charged also constitutes contempt of court. The
power to punish for contempt of court does not exhaust the scope of disciplinary authority of the Court over lawyers. 36 The
disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the Bar is but corollary to the Court's exclusive power of admission to
the Bar. A lawyer is not merely a professional but also an officer of the court and as such, he is called upon to share in the
task and responsibility of dispensing justice and resolving disputes in society. Any act on his part which visibly tends to
obstruct, pervert, or impede and degrade the administration of justice constitutes both professional misconduct calling for
the exercise of disciplinary action against him, and contumacious conduct warranting application of the contempt power.
It is sometimes asserted that in the exercise of the power to punish for contempt or of the disciplinary authority of
the Court over members of the Bar, the Court is acting as offended party, prosecutor and arbiter at one and the
same time. Thus, in the present case, respondent Gonzalez first sought to get some members of the Court to inhibit
themselves in the resolution of this case for alleged bias and prejudice against him. A little later, he in effect asked
the whole Court to inhibit itself from passing upon the issues involved in this proceeding and to pass on
responsibility for this matter to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, upon the ground that respondent cannot expect
due process from this Court, that the Court has become incapable of judging him impartially and fairly. Respondent

Gonzalez misconceives the nature of the proceeding at bar as well as the function of the members of the Court in
such proceeding.
Respondent's contention is scarcely an original one. In In Re Almacen, 37 then Associate (later Chief) Justice Fred
Fruiz Castro had occasion to deal with this contention in the following lucid manner:
xxx xxx xxx
It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to the exercise of our authority in the premises, that, as
Atty. Almacen would have it appear, the members of the Court are the 'complainants, prosecutors
and judges' all rolled up into one in this instance. This is an utter misapprehension, if not a total
distortion, not only of the nature of the proceeding at hand but also of our role therein.
Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui generis.
Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this proceeding is notand does not involvea trial of an
action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers. Not being
intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a
plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its
primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit
person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the
Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the Court
with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the property and honest
administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their misconduct have proved
themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the
office of an attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a
prosecutor.
Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a certain degree, aggrieved parties. Any tirade against
the Court as a body is necessarily and inextricably as much so against the individual members
thereof But in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court acts as an entity separate and distinct
from the individual personalities of its members. Consistently with the intrinsic nature of a collegiate
court, the individual members act not as such individuals but only as a duly constituted court. The
distinct individualities are lost in the majesty of their office. So that, in a very real sense, if there be
any complainant in the case at bar, it can only be the Court itself, not the individual members thereof
as well as the people themselves whose rights, fortunes and properties, nay, even lives, would be
placed at grave hazard should the administration of justice be threatened by the retention in the Bar
of men unfit to discharge the solemn responsibilities of membership in the legal fraternity.
Finally, the power to exclude persons from the practice of law is but a necessary incident of the
power to admit persons to said practice. By constitutional precept, this power is vested exclusively in
this Court. This duty it cannot abdicate just as much as it cannot unilaterally renounce jurisdiction
legally invested upon it. So that even if it be conceded that the members collectively are in a sense
the aggrieved parties, that fact alone does not and cannot disqualify them from the exercise of the
power because public policy demands that they, acting as a Court, exercise the power in all cases
which call for disciplinary action. The present is such a case. In the end, the imagined anomaly of
the merger in one entity of the personalities of complainant, prosecutor and judge is absolutely
inexistent.
xxx xxx xxx. 38

It should not be necessary for the members of this Court expressly to disclaim any bias or prejudice against the
respondent that would prevent them from acting in accordance with the exacting requirements of their oaths of
office. It also appears to the Court that for all the members to inhibit themselves from sitting on this case is to
abdicate the responsibility with which the Constitution has burdened them. Reference of complaints against
attorneys either to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is not mandatory upon the
Supreme Court; such reference to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is certainly not an
exclusive procedure under the terms of Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court, especially where the charge
consists of acts done before the Supreme Court. There is no need for further investigation of facts in the present
case for it is not substantially disputed by respondent Gonzalez that he uttered or wrote certain statements
attributed to him. In any case, respondent has had the amplest opportunity to present his defense; his defense is not
that he did not make the statements ascribed to him but that those statements give rise to no liability on his part,
having been made in the exercise of his freedom of speech. The issues which thus need to be resolved here are
issues of law and of basic policy and the Court, not any other agency, is compelled to resolve such issues.
III
It is necessary to become very explicit as to what respondent Gonzalez was saying in his statements set out above.
Respondent has not denied making the above statements; indeed, he acknowledges that the newspaper reports of
the statements attributed to him are substantially correct. 39
Respondent Gonzalez was in effect saying, firstly, that the Supreme Court deliberately rendered an erroneous or
wrong decision when it rendered its per curiam Decision dated 27 April 1988 in G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and 80578.
That decision according to respondent Gonzalez, was issued as an act of retaliation by the Court against him for the
position he had taken "that the (Supreme Court) Justices cannot claim immunity from suit or investigation by
government prosecutors," and in order to stop respondent from investigating against "some of (the) proteges or
friends (of some Supreme Court Justices)." The Court cannot, of course, and will not debate the correctness of its
Decision of 27 April 1988 and of its Resolution dated 19 May 1988 (denying respondent Gonzalez Motion for
Reconsideration) in the consolidated Zaldivar cases. Respondent Gonzalez, and anyone else for that matter, is free
intellectually to accept or not to accept the reasoning of the Court set out in its per curiam Decision and Resolution
in the consolidated Zaldivar cases. This should not, however, obscure the seriousness of the assault thus
undertaken by respondent against the Court and the appalling implications of such assault for the integrity of the
system of administration of justice in our country. Respondent has said that the Court rendered its Decision and
Resolution without regard to the legal merits of the Zaldivar cases and had used the judicial process to impose
private punishment upon respondent for positions he had taken (unrelated to the Zaldivar cases) in carrying out his
duties. It is very difficult to imagine a more serious affront to, or a greater outrage upon, the honour and dignity of
this Court than this. Respondent's statement is also totally baseless. Respondent's statements were made in
complete disregard of the fact that his continuing authority to act as Tanodbayan or Ombudsman after the effectivity
of the 1987 Constitution, had been questioned before this Court as early as 10 September 1987 in the Petition for
Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus filed against him in these consolidated Petitions 40 that is, more than seven (7)
months before the Court rendered its Decision. Respondent also ignores the fact that one day later, this Court issued a
Temporary Restraining Order effective immediately ordering the Sandiganbayan to cease and desist from hearing the
criminal cases filed against petitioner Zaldivar by respondent Gonzalez. Respondent also disregards the fact that on 24
November 1987, upon the filing of a second Petition for certiorari for Prohibition by Mr. Zaldivar, the Court issued a
Temporary Restraining Order this time requiring the respondent to cease and desist from further acting in TBP Case No.
87-0934. Thus, the decision finally reached by this Court in April 1988 on the constitutional law issue pending before the
Court for the preceding eight (8) months, could scarcely have been invented as a reprisal simply against respondent.
A second charge that respondent Gonzalez hurled against members of the Supreme Court is that they have
improperly Id pressured" him to render decisions favorable to their "colleagues and friends," including dismissal of
"cases" against two (2) members of the Court. This particularly deplorable charge too is entirely baseless, as even a
cursory examination of the contents of the handwritten notes of three (3) members of this Court addressed to
respondent (which respondent attached to his Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of this Court of 27 April

1988 in the consolidated Petitions) win show. It is clear, and respondent Gonzalez does not pretend otherwise, that
the subject matters of the said notes had no relation at all to the issues in G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and 80578. This
charge appears to have been made in order to try to impart some substance (at least in the mind of respondent) to
the first accusation made by respondent that the Court had deliberately rendered a wrong decision to get even with
respondent who had, with great fortitude, resisted "pressure" from some members of the Court. Once again, in total
effect, the statements made by respondent appear designed to cast the Court into gross disrepute, and to cause
among the general public scorn for and distrust in the Supreme Court and, more generally, the judicial institutions of
the Republic.
Respondent Gonzalez has also asserted that the Court was preventing him from prosecuting "rich and powerful
persons," that the Court was in effect discrimination between the rich and powerful on the one hand and the poor
and defenseless upon the other, and allowing "rich and powerful" accused persons to go "scot-free" while
presumably allowing or affirming the conviction of poor and small offenders. This accusation can only be regarded
as calculated to present the Court in an extremely bad light. It may be seen as intended to foment hatred against the
Supreme Court; it is also suggestive of the divisive tactics of revolutionary class war.
Respondent, finally, assailed the Court for having allegedly "dismissed judges 'without rhyme or reason' and
disbarred lawyers 'without due process.'" The Court notes that this last attack is not without relation to the other
statements made by respondent against the Court. The total picture that respondent clearly was trying to paint of the
Court is that of an "unjudicial" institution able and willing to render "clearly erroneous" decisions by way of reprisal
against its critics, as a body that acts arbitrarily and capriciously denying judges and lawyers due process of law.
Once again, the purport of respondent's attack against the Court as an institution unworthy of the people's faith and
trust, is unmistakable. Had respondent undertaken to examine the records 'of the two (2) judges and the attorney he
later Identified in one of his Explanations, he would have discovered that the respondents in those administrative
cases had ample opportunity to explain their side and submit evidence in support thereof. 41 He would have also
found that there were both strong reasons for and an insistent rhyme in the disciplinary measures there administered by
the Court in the continuing effort to strengthen the judiciary and upgrade the membership of the Bar. It is appropriate to
recall in this connection that due process as a constitutional precept does not, always and in all situations, require the
trial-type proceeding, 42 that the essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and to
submit any evidence one may have in support of one's defense. 43 "To be heard" does not only mean verbal arguments in
court; one may be heard also through pleadings. Where opportunity to be heard, either through oral arguments or
pleadings, is accorded, there is no denial of procedural due process. 44
As noted earlier, respondent Gonzalez was required by the Court to explain why he should not be punished for
contempt and/or subjected to administrative discipline for making the statements adverted to above. In his
subsequent pleadings where he asked the full Court to inhibit itself and to transfer the administrative proceedings to
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, respondent made, among others, the following allegations:
(a) That the Members of the Court "should inhibit [themselves] in the contempt and administrative
charges against the respondent, in the light of the manifest prejudice and anger they hold against
respondent as shown in the language of the resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration;"
(b) That "the entire membership of the court has already lost that 'cold neutrality of an impartial
judge' [to] be able to allow fairness and due process in the contempt citation as well as in the
possible administrative charge;
(c) That "respondent honestly feels that this court as angry and prejudiced as it is, respondent has
no china man's chance to get fair hearing in the contempt and possible administrative charges;"
(d) That one must consider "the milieu before this Tribunal with, perhaps passion and obfuscation
running riot;"

(e) That respondent, "after having been castigated with such venom by the entire Court in its
decision denying the Motion for Reconsideration, does not have confidence in the impartiality of the
entire Court" and that he "funds it extremely difficult to believe that the members of this Tribunal can
still act with unbiased demeanor towards him;" and
(f) That "the Tribunal is determined to disbar [respondent] without due process" and that a specified
Member of the Court "has been tasked to be the ponente, or at least prepare the decision."
(Underscoring in the original)
Thus, instead of explaining or seeking to mitigate his statements earlier made, respondent sought to heap still more
opprobrium upon the Court, accusing it of being incapable of judging his acts and statements justly and according to
law. Once again, he paints this Court as a body not only capable of acting without regard to due process but indeed
determined so to act. A grand design to hold up this Court to public scorn and disrespect as an unworthy tribunal,
one obfuscated by passion and anger at respondent, emerges once more. It is very difficult for members of this
Court to understand how respondent Gonzalez could suppose that judges on the highest tribunal of the land would
be ready and willing to violate their most solemn oath of office merely to gratify any imagined private feelings
aroused by respondent. The universe of the Court revolves around the daily demands of law and justice and duty,
not around respondent nor any other person or group of persons.
Whether or not the statements made by respondent Gonzalez may reasonably be regarded by this Court as
contumacious or as warranting exercise of the disciplinary authority of this Court over members of the Bar, may best
be assayed by examining samples of the kinds of statements which have been held in our jurisdiction as constituting
contempt or otherwise warranting the exercise of the Court's authority.
1. In Montecillo v. Gica, 45 Atty. Quirico del Mar as counsel for Montecillo, who was accused in a slander case, moved to
reconsider a decision of the Court of Appeals in favor of the complainant with a veiled threat that he should interpose his
next appeal to the President of the Philippines. In his Motion for Reconsideration, he referred to the provisions of the
Revised Penal Code on "knowingly rendering an unjust judgment," and "judgment rendered through negligence" and
implied that the Court of Appeals had allowed itself to be deceived. Atty. del Mar was held guilty of contempt of court by
the Court of Appeals. He then sued the three (3) justices of the Court of Appeals for damages before the Court of First
Instance of Cebu, seeking to hold them liable for their decision in the appealed slander case. This suit was terminated,
however, by compromise agreement after Atty. del Mar apologized to the Court of Appeals and the justices concerned and
agreed to pay moral damages to the justices. Atty. del Mar some time later filed with this Court a Petition for Review on
certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals in a slander case. This Court denied the Petition for Review. Atty. del Mar
then filed a Motion for Reconsideration and addressed a letter to the Clerk of the Supreme Court asking for the names of
the justices of this Court who had voted in favor of and those who had voted against his Motion for Reconsideration. After
his Motion for Reconsideration was denied for lack of merit, Atty. del Mar filed a Manifestation in this Court saying:
I can at this time reveal to you that, had your Clerk of Court furnished me with certified true copies of
the last two Resolutions of the Supreme Court confirming the decision of the Court of Appeals in the
case entitled Francisco M. Gica vs. Jorge Montecillo, I would have filed against the Justices
supporting the same, civil and criminal suits as I did to the Justices of the Court of Appeals who,
rewarding the abhorent falsification committed by Mr. Gica, reversed for him the decisions of the City
Court and the Court of First Instance of Cebu, not with a view to obtaining a favorable judgment
therein but for the purpose of exposing to the people the corroding evils extant in our Government,
so that they may well know them and work for their extermination. (60 SCRA at 240;emphasis
supplied)
Counsel was asked to explain why he should not be administratively dealt with for making the above statements. In
his additional explanation, Atty. del Mar made the following statements:

... Graft, corruption and injustice are rampant in and outside of the Government. It is this state of
things that convinced me that all human efforts to correct and/or reform the said evils will be fruitless
and, as stated in my manifestation to you, I have already decided to retire from a life of militancy to a
life of seclusion, leaving to God the filling up deficiencies. (60 SCRA at 242)
The Court suspended Atty. del Mar, "until further orders," from the practice of law saying:
... Respondent is utilizing what exists in his mind as state of graft, corruption and injustice allegedly
rampant in and outside of the government as justification for his contemptuous statements. In other
words, he already assumed by his own contemptuous utterances that because there is an alleged
existence of rampant corruption, graft and injustice in and out of the government, We, by Our act in
G.R. No. L-36800, are among the corrupt, the grafters and those allegedly committing injustice. We
are at a complete loss to follow respondent del Mar's logic ...
xxx xxx xxx
To aged brethren of the bar it may appear belated to remind them that second only to the duty of
maintaining allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to support the Constitution and obey
the laws of the Philippines, is the duty of all attorneys to observe and maintain the respect due to the
courts of justice and judicial officers (Sec. 20 (b) Rule 138, Rules of Court). But We do remind them
of said duty to emphasize to their younger brethren its paramount importance. A lawyer must always
remember that he is an officer of the court exercising a high privilege and serving in the noble
mission of administering justice.
xxx xxx xxx.
As already stated, the decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A G.R. No. 46504-R was based on its
evaluation of the evidence on only one specific issue. We in turn denied in G.R. No. L-36800 the
petition for review on certiorari of the decision because We found no reason for disturbing the
appellate court's finding and conclusion. In both instances, both the Court of Appeals and this Court
exercised judicial discretion in a case under their respective jurisdiction. The intemperate and
imprudent act of respondent del Mar in resorting to veiled threats to make both Courts reconsider
their respective stand in the decision and the resolution that spelled disaster for his client cannot be
anything but pure contumely for aid tribunals.
It is manifest that respondent del Mar has scant respect for the two highest Court of the land when
on the flimsy ground of alleged error in deciding a case, he proceeded to challenge the integrity of
both Courts by claiming that they knowingly rendered unjust judgment. In short, his allegation is that
they acted with intent and malice, if not with gross ignorance of the law, in disposing of the case of
his client.
xxx xxx xxx
... To those who are in the practice of law and those who in the future will choose to enter this
profession, We wish to point to this case as a reminder for them to imprint in their hearts and minds
that an attorney owes it to himself to respect the courts of justice and its officers as a fealty for the
stability of our democratic institutions. (60 SCRA at 242-247: emphasis supplied)
2. In Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel, 46 four (4) members of the bar, acting as counsel for MacArthur
International Minerals Company were required by this Court to explain certain statements made in MacArthur's third
Motion for Reconsideration:

d. ...; and I the Supreme Court I has overlooked the applicable law due to the mis-representation and
obfuscation of the petitioners' counsel. (Last sentence, par. 1, Third Motion for Reconsideration
dated Sept. 10, 1968).
e. ... Never has any civilized democratic tribunal ruled that such a gimmick (referring to the "right to
reject any and all bids") can be used by vulturous executives to cover up and excuse losses to the
public, a government agency or just plain fraud ... and it is thus difficult, in the light of our upbringing
and schooling, even under many of the incumbent justices, that the Honorable Supreme Court
intends to create a decision that in effect does precisely that in a most absolute manner. (Second
sentence, par. 7, Third Motion for Reconsideration dated Sept. 10, 1968). (31 SCRA at 6)
They were also asked to explain the statements made in their Motion to Inhibit filed on 21 September 1968 asking
Mr. Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion and Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro to inhibit themselves from
considering, judging and resolving the case or any issue or aspect thereof retroactive to January 11,
1967. The motion charges "It that the brother of the Honorable Associate Justice Castro is a vicepresident of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of the false, erroneous and illegal decision
dated January 31, 1968" and the ex-parte preliminary injunction rendered in the above-entitled case,
the latter in effect prejudging and predetermining this case even before the joining of an issue. As to
the Chief Justice, the motion states [t]hat the son of the Honorable Chief Justice Roberto
Concepcion was given a significant appointment in the Philippine Government by the President a
short time before the decision of July 31, 1968 was rendered in this case. The appointment referred
to was as secretary of the newly-created Board of Investments. The motion presents a lengthy
discourse on judicial ethics, and makes a number of side comments projecting what is claimed to be
the patent wrongfulness of the July 31, 1968 decision. It enumerates "incidents" which, according to
the motion, brought about respondent MacArthur's belief that unjudicial prejudice had been caused it
and that there was 'unjudicial favoritism' in favor of 'petitioners, their appointing authority and a
favored party directly benefited by the said decision
(31 SCRA at 6-7)
Another attorney entered his appearance as new counsel for MacArthur and filed a fourth Motion for
Reconsideration without leave of court, which Motion contained the following paragraphs:
4. The said decision is illegal because it was penned by the Honorable Chief Justice Roberto
Concepcion when in fact he was outside the borders of the Republic of the Philippines at the time of
the Oral Argument of the above-entitled casewhich condition is prohibited by the New Rules of
CourtSection 1, Rule 51, and we quote: "Justices; who may take part... . Only those members
present when any matter is submitted for oral argument will take part in its consideration and
adjudication ... ." This requirement is especially significant in the present instance because the
member who penned the decision was the very member who was absent for approximately four
months or more. This provision also applies to the Honorable Justices Claudio Teehankee and
Antonio Barredo.
xxx xxx xxx
6. That if the respondent MacArthur International Minerals Company abandons its quest for justice in
the Judiciary of the Philippine Government, it will inevitably either raise the graft and corruption of
Philippine Government officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965, required by the Nickel Law to
determine the operator of the Surigao nickel deposits, to the World Court on grounds of deprivation
of justice and confiscation of property and/or to the United States Government, either its executive or
judicial branches or both, on the grounds of confiscation of respondent's proprietary vested rights by

the Philippine Government without either compensation or due process of law and invoking the
Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid and benefits to the Philippine
Government, including the sugar price premium, amounting to more than fifty million dollars
annually, until restitution or compensation is made.
(31 SCRA at 10-11)
Finding their explanations unsatisfactory, the Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Sanchez, held three (3) attorneys
guilty of contempt:
1. We start with the case of Atty. Vicente L. Santiago. In his third motion for reconsideration, we,
indeed, find language that is not to be expected of an officer of the courts. He pictures petitioners as
'vulturous executives.' He speaks of this Court as a 'civilized, democratic tribunal,' but by innuendo
would suggest that it is not.
In his motion to inhibit, his first paragraph categorizes our decision of July 31, 1968 as 'false,
erroneous and illegal' in a presumptuous manner. He then charges that the ex parte preliminary
injunction we issued in this case prejudiced and predetermined the case even before the joining of
an issue. He accuses in a reckless manner two justices of this Court for being interested in the
decision of this case: Associate Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, because his brother is the vice president
of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of the decision, and Chief Justice Roberto
Concepcion, whose son was appointed secretary of the newly-created Board of Investments, 'a
significant appointment in the Philippine Government by the President, a short time before the
decision of July 31, 1968 was rendered.' In this backdrop, he proceeds to state that 'it would seem
that the principles thus established [the moral and ethical guidelines for inhibition of any judicial
authority by the Honorable Supreme Court should first apply to itself.' He puts forth the claim that
lesser and further removed conditions have been known to create favoritism, only to conclude that
there is no reason for a belief that the conditions obtaining in the case of the Chief Justice and
Justice Castro would be less likely to engender favoritism and prejudice for or against a particular
cause or party.' Implicit in this at least is that the Chief Justice and Justice Castro are insensible
to delicadeza, which could make their actuation suspect. He makes it plain in the motion that the
Chief Justice and Justice Castro not only were not free from the appearance of impropriety but did
arouse suspicion that their relationship did affect their judgment. He points out that courts must be
above suspicion at all times like Ceasar's wife, warns that loss of confidence for the Tribunal or a
member thereof should not be allowed to happen in our country, 'although the process has already
begun.
xxx xxx xxx
What is disconcerting is that Atty. Santiago's accusations have no basis in fact and in law. The slur
made is not limited to the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Castro. It sweepingly casts aspersion on the
whole court. For, inhibition is also asked if, we repeated any other justices who have received favors
or benefits directly or indirectly from any of the petitioners or any members of any board-petitioner or
their agents or principals, including the president.' The absurdity of this posture is at once
apparent. For one thing, the justices of this Court are appointed by the President and in that sense
may be considered to have each received a favor from the President. Should these justices inhibit
themselves every time a case involving the Administration crops up? Such a thought may not
certainly be entertained. The consequence thereof would be to paralyze the machinery of this Court.
We would in fact, be wreaking havoc on the tripartite system of government operating in this country.
Counsel is presumed to know this. But why the unfounded charge? There is the not too-well
concealed effort on the part of a losing litigant's attorney to downgrade this Court.

The mischief that stems from all of the foregoing gross disrespect is easy to discern. Such
disrespect detracts much from the dignity of a court of justice. Decidedly not an expression of faith,
counsel's words are intended to create an atmosphere of distrust, of disbelief.
xxx xxx xxx
The precepts, the teachings, the injunctions just recited are not unfamiliar to lawyers. and yet, this
Court finds in the language of Atty. Santiago a style that undermines and degrades the
administration of justice. The stricture in Section 3 (d) of Rule 71 of the Rules against improper
conduct tending to degrade the administration of justice is thus transgressed. Atty. Santiago is guilty
of contempt of court.
xxx xxx xxx
Third. The motion contained an express threat to take the case to the World Court and/or the United
States government. It must be remembered that respondent MacArthur at that time was still trying to
overturn the decision of this Court of July 31, 1968. In doing so, unnecessary statements were in
ejected. More specifically, the motion announced that McArthur 'will inevitably ... raise the graft and
corruption of the Philippine government officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965 ... to the World Court'
and would invoke 'the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid and benefits to the
Philippine Government, including the sugar price premium, amount to more than fifty million dollars
annually ...
This is a clear attempt to influence or bend the blind of this Court to decide the case' in its favor. A
notice of appeal to the World Court has even been embodied in Meads return. There is a gross
inconsistency between the appeal and the move to reconsider the decision. An appeal from a
decision presupposes that a party has already abandoned any move to reconsider that decision. And
yet, it would appear that the appeal to the World Court is being dangled as a threat to effect a
change of the decision of this Court. Such act has no aboveboard explanation.
xxx xxx xxx
The dignity of the Court, experience teaches, can never be protected where infraction of ethics
meets with complacency rather than punishment. The people should not be given cause to break
faith with the belief that a judge is the epitome of honor amongst men. To preserve its dignity, a court
of justice should not yield to the assaults of disrespect. Punctilio of honor, we prefer to think, is a
standard of behavior so desirable in a lawyer pleading a cause before a court of justice. (31 SCRA at
13-23; emphasis supplied)
3. In In re Almacen, supra, Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen, in protest against what he asserted was "a great injustice
committed against his client by the Supreme Court," filed a Petition to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title. He
alleged that his client was deeply aggrieved by this Court's "unjust judgment," and had become "one of the sacrificial
victims before the altar of hypocrisy," saying that "justice as administered by the present members of the Supreme
Court [was) not only blind, but also deaf and dumb." Atty. Almacen vowed to argue the cause of his client "in the
people's forum" so that "the people may know of this silent injustice committed by this Court' and that "whatever
mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were committed [may] never be repeated." Atty. Almacen released to the press
the contents of his Petition and on 26 September 1967, the "Manila Times" published statements attributed to him
as follows:

Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented petition, said he did not expose the
tribunal's 'unconstitutional and obnoxious' practice of arbitrarily denying petitions or appeals without
any reason.
Because of the tribunal's 'short-cut justice.' Almacen deplored, his client was condemned to pay
P120,000, without knowing why he lost the case.
xxx xxx xxx
There is no use continuing his law practice, Almacen said in this petition, 'where our Supreme Court
is composed of men who are calloused to our pleas of justice, who ignore without reason their own
applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity.'
xxx xxx xxx
He expressed the hope that by divesting himself of his title by which he earns his living, the present
members of the Supreme Court 'will become responsible to all cases brought to its attention without
discrimination, and will purge itself of those unconstitutional and obnoxious "lack of merit' or "denied
resolutions. (31 SCRA at 565566; emphasis supplied)
Atty. Almacen was required by this Court to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. His
explanation, which in part read:
xxx xxx xxx
The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolized in paintings that can be found in all courts and
government offices. We have added only two more symbols, that it is also deaf and dumb. Deaf in
the sense that no members of this Court has ever heard our cries for charity, generosity, fairness,
understanding, sympathy and for justice; dumb in the sense, that inspire of our beggings,
supplications, and pleadings to give us reasons why our appeals has been DENIED, not one word
was spoken or given ... We refer to no human defect or ailment in the above statement. We only
described the impersonal state of Things and nothing more.
xxx xxx xxx
As we have stated, we have lost our faith and confidence in the members of this Court and for which
reason we offered to surrender our lawyer's certificate, IN TRUST ONLY. Because what has been
lost today may be regained tomorrow. As the offer was intended as our self-imposed sacrifice, then
we alone may decide as to when we must end our self- sacrifice. If we have to choose between
forcing ourselves to have faith and confidence in the members of the Court but disregard our
Constitution and to uphold the Constitution and be condemned by the members of this Court, there
is no choice, we must uphold the latter. (31 SCRA at 572; emphasis supplied)
was found by the Court to be "undignified and cynical" and rejected. The Court indefinitely suspended Almacen from
the practice of law holding, through Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, that Almacen had exceeded the boundaries of "fair
criticism."
4. In Paragas V. Cruz, 47 Counsel, whose Petition for Ceriorari ran was dismissed by this Court, made the following
statements in his Motion for Reconsideration:

The petitioner respectfully prays for a reconsideration of the resolution of this Honorable Court dated
April 20,1966 on the ground that it constitutes a violation of Section 14 of Rule 11 2 of the Rules of
Court promulgated by this very Hon. Supreme Court, and on the further ground that it is likewise a
violation of the most important right in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Philippines, a
culpable violation which is a ground for impeachment.
... The rule of law in a democracy should always be upheld and protected by all means, because the
rule of law creates and preserves peace and order and gives satisfaction and contentment to all
concerned. But when the laws and the rules are violated, the victims resort, sometimes, to armed
force and to the ways of the cavemen We do not want Verzosa and Reyes repeated again and
again, killed in the premises of the Supreme Court and in those of the City Hall of Manila. Educated
people should keep their temper under control at all times! But justice should be done to all
concerned to perpetuate the very life of Democracy on the face of the earth. (14 SCRA at 810;
emphasis supplied)
The Court considered the above statements as derogatory to the dignity of the Court and required counsel to show
cause why administrative action should not be taken against him. Counsel later explained that he had merely
related factual events (i.e., the killing of Verzosa and Reyes) and to express his desire to avoid repetition of such
acts. The Court, through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, found these explanations unsatisfactory and the above
statements contumacious.
... The expressions contained in the motion for reconsideration ... are plainly contemptuous and
disrespectful, and reference to the recent killing of two employees is but a covert threat upon the
members of the Court. ... That such threats and disrespectful language contained in a pleading filed
in courts are constitutive of direct contempt has been repeatedly decided (Salcedo vs. Hernandez,
61 Phil. 724; People vs. Venturanza, 52 Off. Gaz. 769; Medina vs. Rivera, 66 Phil. 151; De Joya vs.
Court of First Instance of Rizal, 1, 9785, September 19,1956; Sison vs. Sandejas L- 9270, April
29,1959; Lualhati vs. Albert, 57 Phil. 86). What makes the present case more deplorable is that the
guilty party is a member of the bar; for, as remarked in People vs. Carillo, 77 Phil. 580Counsel should conduct himself towards the judges who try his cases with that courtesy all have a
right to expect. As an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy
unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper
administration of justice.
It in light and plausible that an attorney in defending the cause and rights of his client, should do so
with all the fervor and energy of which he is capable, but it is not, and never will be so, for him to
exercise said right by resorting to intimidation or proceeding without the propriety and respect which
the dignity of the courts require. (Salcedo vs. Hernandez, [In re Francisco], 61 Phil. 729)' (1 4 SCRA
at 811-812; emphasis supplied)
5. In In re Sotto, 48 a newspaper reporter, Mr. Angel Parazo, invoking the Press Freedom Law, refused to divulge the
source of the news item which carried his by-line and was sent to jail for so refusing. Atty. Vicente Sotto, a senator and
author of said law, caused the publication of the following item in a number of daily newspapers in Manila:
As author of the Press Freedom Law (Republic Act No. 53), interpreted by the Supreme Court in the
case of Angel Parazo, reporter of a local daily, who now has to suffer 30 days imprisonment, for his
refusal to divulge the source of a news published in his paper, I regret to say that our High Tribunal
has not only erroneously interpreted said law, but that it is once more putting in evidence the
incompetency or narrow mindedness of the majority of its members. In the wake of so many
blunders and injustices deliberately committed during these last years, I believe that the only remedy

to put an end to so much evil, is to change the members of the Supreme Court. To this effect, I
announce that one of the first measures, which I will introduce in the coming congressional sessions,
will have as its object the complete reorganization of the Supreme Court. As it is now constituted,
the Supreme Court of today constitutes a constant peril to liberty and democracy. It need be said
loudly, very loudly, so that even the deaf may hear: The Supreme Court of today is a far cry from the
impregnable bulwark of Justice of those memorable times of Cayetano Arellano, Victorino Mapa,
Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who were the honor and glory of the Philippine Judiciary.
(82 Phil. at 597-598; emphasis supplied)
In finding Atty. Sotto in contempt, despite his avowals of good faith and his invocation of the
constitutional guarantee of free speech and in requiring him to show cause why he should not be
disbarred, the Court, through Mr. Justice Feria, saidTo hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing deliberately so many
blunders and injustices that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of one party knowing that the
law and justice is on the part of the adverse party and not on the one in whose favor the decision
was rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would tend necessarily to undermine
the coincidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court, and
consequently to lower and degrade the administration of justice by this Court. The Supreme Court of
the Philippines is, under the Constitution, the last bulwark to which the Filipino people may repair to
obtain relief for their grievances or protection of their rights when these are trampled upon, and if the
people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court and believe
that they cannot expect justice therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their hands, and
disorder and perhaps chaos might be the result. As a member of the bar and an officer of the courts
Atty. Vicente Sotto, like any other, is in duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court,
to which he owes fidelity according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to promote
distrust in the administration of justice. Respect to the courts guarantees the stability of other
institutions, which without such guaranty would be resting on a very shaky foundation. (82 Phil. at
601-602; emphasis supplied)
6. In Salcedo v. Hernandez, 49 Atty. Vicente Francisco filed a Motion before the Supreme Court which contained the
following paragraph (in translation):
We should like frankly and respectfully to make it of record that the resolution of this court, denying
our motion for reconsideration, is absolutely erroneous and constitutes an outrage to the rights of
the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a mockery of the popular will expressed at the polls in the
municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas. We wish to exhaust all the means within our power in order that this
error may be corrected by the very court which has committed it, because we should not want that
some citizen, particularly some voter of the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas, resort to the press
publicly to denounce, as he has a right to do, the judicial outrage of which the herein petitioner has
been the victim, and because it is our utmost desire to safeguard the prestige of this honorable court
and of each and every member thereof in the eyes of the public. But, at the same time we wish to
state sincerely that erroneous decisions like these, which the affected party and his thousands of
voters will necessarily consider unjust, increase the proselytes of sakdalism and make the public
lose confidence in the administration of justice. (61 Phil. at 726; emphasis supplied)
When required by the Court to show cause why he should not be declared in contempt, Atty. Francisco responded
by saying that it was not contempt to tell the truth. Examining the statements made above, the Court held:
... [they] disclose, in the opinion of this court, an inexcusable disrespect of the authority of the court
and an intentional contempt of its dignity, because the court is thereby charged with no less than

having proceeded in utter disregard of the laws, the rights of the parties, and of the untoward
consequences, or with having abused its power and mocked and flouted the rights of Attorney
Vicente J. Francisco's client, because the acts of outraging and mocking from which the words
'outrage' and mockery' used therein are derived, means exactly the same as all these, according to
the Dictionary of the Spanish Language published by the Spanish Academy (Dictionary of the
Spanish Language, 15th ed., pages 132-513).
The insertion of the phrases in question in said motion of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, for many
years a member of the Philippine bar, was neither justified nor in the least necessary, because in
order to call the attention of the court in a special way to the essential points relied upon in his
argument and to emphasize the force thereof, the many reasons stated in his said motion were
sufficient and the phrases in question were superfluous. In order to appeal to reason and justice, it is
highly improper and amiss to make trouble and resort to threats, as Attorney Vicente J. Francisco
has done, because both means are annoying and good practice can ever sanction them by reason
of their natural tendency to disturb and hinder the free exercise of a serene and impartial judgment,
particularly in judicial matters, in the consideration of questions submitted for resolution.
There is no question that said paragraph of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's motion contains a more
or less veiled threat to the court because it is insinuated therein, after the author shows the course
which the voters of Tiaong should follow in case he fails in his attempt, that they will resort to the
press for the purpose of denouncing, what he claims to be a judicial outrage of which his client has
been the victim; and because he states in a threatening manner with the intention of predisposing
the mind of the reader against the court, thus creating an atmosphere of prejudices against it in
order to make it odious in the public eye, that decisions of the nature of that referred to in his motion
to promote distrust in the administration of justice and increase the proselytes of sakdalism a
movement with seditious and revolutionary tendencies the activities of which, as is of public
knowledge, occurred in this country a few days ago. This cannot mean otherwise than contempt of
the dignity of the court and disrespect of the authority thereof on the part of Attorney Vicente J.
Francisco, because he presumes that the court is so devoid of the sense of justice that, if he did not
resort to intimidation, it would maintain its error notwithstanding the fact that it may be proven, with
good reasons, that it has acted erroneously.
As a member of the bar and an officer of this court, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, as any attorney, is
in duty bound to uphold its dignity and authority and to defend its integrity, not only because it had
conferred upon him the high privilege, not a right (Malcolm, Legal Ethics, 158 and 160), of being
what he now is: a priest of justice (In re Thatcher, 80 Ohio St., Rep., 492, 669), but also because in
so doing, he neither creates nor promotes distrust in the administration of justice, and prevents
anybody from harboring and encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is the source of disorder,
thus undermining the foundation upon which rests that bulwark called judicial power to which those
who are aggrieved turn for protection and relief (61 Phil. at 727-728; emphasis supplied)
It should not be supposed that the six (6) cases above discussed exhaust our case law on this matter. In the
following cases, among others, the Supreme Court punished for contempt or administratively disciplined lawyers
who had made statements not very different from those made in the cases discussed above:
1) In re Wenceslao Laureta, 148 SCRA 382 (1987);
2) Borromeo v. Court of appeals, 87 SCRA 67 (1978);
3) Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer, 20 SCRA 441 (1967);

4) Malolos v. Reyes, 1 SCRA 559 (1961);


5) De Joya, et al. v. Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasay City Branch, 99 Phil. 907 (1956);
6) People v. Venturanza, et al., 98 Phil. 211 (1956);
7) In re Suzano A. Velasquez, per curiam Resolution (unreported), Promulgated 29 April 1955;
8) Cornejo v. Tan, 85 Phil. 772 (1950);
9) People v. Carillon, 77 Phil. 572 (1946);
10) Intestate Estate of Rosario 0lba; Contempt Proceedings against Antonio Franco, 67 Phil. 312
(1939); and
11) Lualhati v. Albert, 57 Phil. 86 (1932).
Considering the kinds of statements of lawyers discussed above which the Court has in the past penalized as
contemptuous or as warranting application of disciplinary sanctions, this Court is compelled to hold that the
statements here made by respondent Gonzalez clearly constitute contempt and call for the exercise of the
disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. Respondent's statements, especially the charge that the Court
deliberately rendered an erroneous and unjust decision in the Consolidated Petitions, necessarily implying that the
justices of this Court betrayed their oath of office, merely to wreak vengeance upon the respondent here, constitute
the grossest kind of disrespect for the Court. Such statements very clearly debase and degrade the Supreme Court
and, through the Court, the entire system of administration of justice in the country. That respondent's baseless
charges have had some impact outside the internal world of subjective intent, is clearly demonstrated by the filing of
a complaint for impeachment of thirteen (13) out of the then fourteen (14) incumbent members of this Court, a
complaint the centerpiece of which is a repetition of the appalling claim of respondent that this Court deliberately
rendered a wrong decision as an act of reprisal against the respondent.
IV
The principal defense of respondent Gonzalez is that he was merely exercising his constitutional right of free
speech. He also invokes the related doctrines of qualified privileged communications and fair criticism in the public
interest.
Respondent Gonzalez is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. No one seeks to deny him that right,
least of all this Court. What respondent seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of expression, like all
constitutional freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to and
accommodated with the requirements of equally important public interests. One of these fundamental public
interests is the maintenance of the integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. There is no
antinomy between free expression and the integrity of the system of administering justice. For the protection and
maintenance of freedom of expression itself can be secured only within the context of a functioning and orderly
system of dispensing justice, within the context, in other words, of viable independent institutions for delivery of
justice which are accepted by the general community. As Mr. Justice Frankfurter put it:
... A free press is not to be preferred to an independent judiciary, nor an independent judiciary to a
free press. Neither has primacy over the other; both are indispensable to a free society. The freedom
of the press in itself presupposes an independent judiciary through which that freedom may, if
necessary be vindicated. And one of the potent means for assuring judges their independence is a
free press. 50

Mr. Justice Malcolm of this Court expressed the same thought in the following terms:
The Organic Act wisely guarantees freedom of speech and press. This constitutional right must be
protected in its fullest extent. The Court has heretofore given evidence of its tolerant regard for
charges under the Libel Law which come dangerously close to its violation. We shall continue in this
chosen path. The liberty of the citizens must be preserved in all of its completeness. But license or
abuse of liberty of the press and of the citizens should not be confused with liberty ill its true sense.
As important as is the maintenance of an unmuzzled press and the free exercise of the rights of the
citizens is the maintenance of the independence of the Judiciary. Respect for the Judiciary cannot be
had if persons are privileged to scorn a resolution of the court adopted for good purposes, and if
such persons are to be permitted by subterranean means to diffuse inaccurate accounts of
confidential proceedings to the embarassment of the parties and the courts. 51 (Emphasis supplied)
Only slightly (if at all) less important is the public interest in the capacity of the Court effectively to prevent and
control professional misconduct on the part of lawyers who are, first and foremost, indispensable participants in the
task of rendering justice to every man. Some courts have held, persuasively it appears to us, that a lawyer's right of
free expression may have to be more limited than that of a layman. 52
It is well to recall that respondent Gonzalez, apart from being a lawyer and an officer of the court, is also a Special
Prosecutor who owes duties of fidelity and respect to the Republic and to this Court as the embodiment and the
repository of the judicial power in the government of the Republic. The responsibility of the respondent "to uphold
the dignity and authority of this Court' and "not to promote distrust in the administration of justice 53 is heavier than
that of a private practicing lawyer.
Respondent Gonzalez claims to be and he is, of course, entitled to criticize the rulings of this Court, to point out
where he feels the Court may have lapsed into error. Once more, however, the right of criticism is not unlimited. Its
limits were marked out by Mr. Justice Castro in In re Almacen which are worth noting
But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bonafide and shall not spill over the
walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on the one hand, and
abuse and slander of courts and the judges thereof, on the other. Intemperate and unfair criticism is
a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct that subjects a lawyer to
disciplinary action.
The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential to the orderly
administration of justice. Hence, in the assertion of their clients' rights, lawyers even those gifted with
superior intellect are enjoined to rein up their tempers.
xxx xxx xxx 54
(Emphasis supplied)
The instant proceeding is not addressed to the fact that respondent has criticized the Court; it is addressed rather to
the nature of that criticism or comment and the manner in which it was carried out.
Respondent Gonzalez disclaims an intent to attack and denigrate the Court. The subjectivities of the respondent are
irrelevant so far as characterization of his conduct or misconduct is concerned. He will not, however, be allowed to
disclaim the natural and plain import of his words and acts. 55 It is upon the other hand, not irrelevant to point out that
respondent offered no apology in his two (2) explanations and exhibited no repentance. 56

Respondent Gonzalez also defends himself contending that no injury to the judiciary has been shown, and points to
the fact that this Court denied his Motion for Reconsideration of its per curiam Decision of 27 April 1988 and
reiterated and amplified that Decision in its Resolution of 19 May 1988. In the first place, proof of actual damage
sustained by a court or the judiciary in general is not essential for a finding of contempt or for the application of the
disciplinary authority of the Court. Insofar as the Consolidated Petitions are concerned, this Court after careful
review of the bases of its 27 April 1988 Decision, denied respondent's Motion for Reconsideration thereof and
rejected the public pressures brought to bear upon this Court by the respondent through his much publicized acts
and statements for which he is here being required to account. Obstructing the free and undisturbed resolution of a
particular case is not the only species of injury that the Court has a right and a duty to prevent and redress. What is
at stake in cases of this kind is the integrity of the judicial institutions of the country in general and of the Supreme
Court in particular. Damage to such institutions might not be quantifiable at a given moment in time but damage
there will surely be if acts like those of respondent Gonzalez are not effectively stopped and countered. The level of
trust and confidence of the general public in the courts, including the court of last resort, is not easily measured; but
few will dispute that a high level of such trust and confidence is critical for the stability of democratic government.
Respondent Gonzalez lastly suggests that punishment for contempt is not the proper remedy in this case and
suggests that the members of this Court have recourse to libel suits against him. While the remedy of libel suits by
individual members of this Court may well be available against respondent Gonzalez, such is by no means an
exclusive remedy. Moreover, where, as in the instant case, it is not only the individual members of the Court but the
Court itself as an institution that has been falsely attacked, libel suits cannot be an adequate remedy. 57
The Court concludes that respondent Gonzalez is guilty both of contempt of court in facie curiae and of gross
misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the Bar.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND Atty. Raul M. Gonzalez from the practice of law indefinitely and
until further orders from this Court, the suspension to take effect immediately.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Sandiganbayan, the Ombudsman, the Secretary of Justice, the
Solicitor General and the Court of Appeals for their information and guidance.

A.C. No. 5838

January 17, 2005

SPOUSES BENJAMIN SANTUYO AND EDITHA SANTUYO, complainants,


vs.
ATTY. EDWIN A. HIDALGO, respondent.
RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:
In a verified complaint-affidavit dated September 18, 2001,1 spouses Benjamin Santuyo and Editha Santuyo
accused respondent Atty. Edwin A. Hidalgo of serious misconduct and dishonesty for breach of his lawyers oath
and the notarial law.
Complainants stated that sometime in December 1991, they purchased a parcel of land covered by a deed of sale.
The deed of sale was allegedly notarized by respondent lawyer and was entered in his notarial register as Doc. No.
94 on Page No. 19 in Book No. III, Series of 1991. Complainant spouses averred that about six years after the date
of notarization, they had a dispute with one Danilo German over the ownership of the land. The case
was estafa through falsification of a public document.
During the trial of the case, German presented in court an affidavit executed by respondent denying the authenticity
of his signature on the deed of sale. The spouses allegedly forged his notarial signature on said deed. 2
According to complainants, respondent overlooked the fact that the disputed deed of sale contained all the legal
formalities of a duly notarized document, including an impression of respondents notarial dry seal. Not being
persons who were learned in the technicalities surrounding a notarial act, spouses contended that they could not
have forged the signature of herein respondent. They added that they had no access to his notarial seal and notarial
register, and could not have made any imprint of respondents seal or signature on the subject deed of sale or
elsewhere.3
In his answer4 to the complaint, respondent denied the allegations against him. He denied having notarized any
deed of sale covering the disputed property. According to respondent, he once worked as a junior lawyer at Carpio
General and Jacob Law Office where he was asked to apply for a notarial commission. While he admitted that he
notarized several documents in that office, these, however, did not include the subject deed of sale. He explained
that, as a matter of office procedure, documents underwent scrutiny by the senior lawyers and it was only when they
gave their approval that notarization was done. He claimed that, in some occasions, the secretaries in the law firm,
by themselves, would affix the dry seal of the junior associates on documents relating to cases handled by the law
firm. Respondent added that he normally required the parties to exhibit their community tax certificates and made
them personally acknowledge the documents before him as notary public. He would have remembered
complainants had they actually appeared before him. While he admitted knowing complainant Editha Santuyo, he
said he met the latters husband and co-complainant only on November 5, 1997, or about six years from the time
that he purportedly notarized the deed of sale. Moreover, respondent stressed that an examination of his alleged

signature on the deed of sale revealed that it was forged; the strokes were smooth and mild.l^vvphi1.net He
suspected that a lady was responsible for forging his signature.
To further refute the accusations against him, respondent stated that, at the time the subject deed of sale was
supposedly notarized, on December 27, 1991, he was on vacation. He surmised that complainants must have gone
to the law office and enticed one of the secretaries, with the concurrence of the senior lawyers, to notarize the
document. He claimed he was a victim of a criminal scheme motivated by greed.
The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation. In a report5 it submitted to the Court, the IBP noted that the alleged forged signature of respondent
on the deed of sale was different from his signatures in other documents he submitted during the investigation of the
present case.6 However, it ruled that respondent was also negligent because he allowed the office secretaries to
perform his notarial functions, including the safekeeping of his notarial dry seal and notarial register.7 It thus
recommended:
WHEREFORE[,] in view of the foregoing, it is respectfully recommended that respondents commission as notary
public be revoked for two (2) years if he is commissioned as such; or he should not be granted a commission as
notary public for two (2) years upon receipt hereof.8
After going over the evidence submitted by the parties, complainants did not categorically state that they appeared
before respondent to have the deed of sale notarized. Their appearance before him could have bolstered this
allegation that respondent signed the document and that it was not a forgery as he claimed. The records show that
complainants themselves were not sure if respondent, indeed, signed the document; what they were sure of was the
fact that his signature appeared thereon. They had no personal knowledge as well as to who actually affixed the
signature of respondent on the deed.1awphi1.nt
Furthermore, complainants did not refute respondents contention that he only met complainant Benjamin Santuyo
six years after the alleged notarization of the deed of sale. Respondents assertion was corroborated by one Mrs.
Lyn Santy in an affidavit executed on November 17, 20019 wherein she stated that complainant Editha Santuyo had
to invite respondent to her house on November 5, 1997 to meet her husband since the two had to be introduced to
each other. The meeting between complainant Benjamin Santuyo and respondent was arranged after the latter
insisted that Mr. Santuyo personally acknowledge a deed of sale concerning another property that the spouses
bought.
In finding respondent negligent in performing his notarial functions, the IBP reasoned out:
xxx xxx xxx.
Considering that the responsibility attached to a notary public is sensitive respondent should have been more
discreet and cautious in the execution of his duties as such and should not have wholly entrusted everything to the
secretaries; otherwise he should not have been commissioned as notary public.
For having wholly entrusted the preparation and other mechanics of the document for notarization to the secretary
there can be a possibility that even the respondents signature which is the only one left for him to do can be done
by the secretary or anybody for that matter as had been the case herein.
As it is respondent had been negligent not only in the supposed notarization but foremost in having allowed the
office secretaries to make the necessary entries in his notarial registry which was supposed to be done and kept by
him alone; and should not have relied on somebody else.10
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Edwin A. Hidalgo is hereby found GUILTY of negligence in the performance of his
duties as notary public and is hereby SUSPENDED from his commission as a notary public for a period of two
years, if he is commissioned, or if he is not, he is disqualified from an appointment as a notary public for a period of
two years from finality of this resolution, with a warning that a repetition of similar negligent acts would be dealt with
more severely.

SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 5864

April 15, 2005

ARTURO L. SICAT, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. GREGORIO E. ARIOLA, JR., respondent.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
In an affidavit-complaint,1 complainant Arturo L. Sicat, a Board Member of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Rizal,
charged respondent Atty. Gregorio E. Ariola, the Municipal Administrator of Cainta, Rizal, with violation of the Code
of Professional Responsibility by committing fraud, deceit and falsehood in his dealings, particularly the notarization
of a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) purportedly executed by a one Juanito C. Benitez. According to complainant,
respondent made it appear that Benitez executed the said document on January 4, 2001 when in fact the latter had
already died on October 25, 2000.
He alleged that prior to the notarization, the Municipality of Cainta had entered into a contract with J.C. Benitez
Architect and Technical Management, represented by Benitez, for the construction of low-cost houses. The cost of
the architectural and engineering designs amounted to P11,000,000 and two consultants were engaged to supervise
the project. For the services of the consultants, the Municipality of Cainta issued a check dated January 10, 2001 in
the amount of P3,700,000, payable to J.C. Benitez Architects and Technical Management and/or Cesar Goco. The
check was received and encashed by the latter by virtue of the authority of the SPA notarized by respondent Ariola.
Complainant further charged respondent with the crime of falsification penalized under Article 171 of the Revised
Penal Code by making it appear that certain persons participated in an act or proceeding when in fact they did not.
In his Comment,2 respondent explained that, as early as May 12, 2000, Benitez had already signed the SPA. He
claimed that due to inadvertence, it was only on January 4, 2001 that he was able to notarize it. Nevertheless, the
SPA notarized by him on January 4, 2001 was not at all necessary because Benitez had signed a similar SPA in
favor of Goco sometime before his death, on May 12, 2000. Because it was no longer necessary, the SPA was
cancelled the same day he notarized it, hence, legally, there was no public document that existed. Respondent
prayed that the complaint be dismissed on the ground of forum-shopping since similar charges had been filed with
the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. According to him, the complaints
were later dismissed based on findings that the assailed act referred to violations of the implementing rules and
regulations of PD 1594,3 PD 1445,4 RA 71605 and other pertinent rules of the Commission on Audit (COA). He
stressed that no criminal and administrative charges were recommended for filing against him.
In a Resolution dated March 12, 2003,6 the Court referred the complaint to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. On August 26, 2003, the IBP submitted its investigation report:
x x x it is evident that respondent notarized the Special Power of Attorney dated 4 January 2001 purportedly
executed by Juanito C. Benitez long after Mr. Benitez was dead. It is also evident that respondent cannot feign
innocence and claim that he did not know Mr. Benitez was already dead at the time because respondent, as

member of the Prequalification and Awards Committee of the Municipality of Cainta, personally knew Mr. Benitez
because the latter appeared before the Committee a number of times. It is evident that the Special Power of
Attorney dated 4 January 2001 was part of a scheme of individuals to defraud the Municipality of Cainta of money
which was allegedly due them, and that respondent by notarizing said Special Power of Attorney helped said parties
succeed in their plans.7
The IBP recommended to the Court that respondent's notarial commission be revoked and that he be suspended
from the practice of law for a period of one year.8
After a careful review of the records, we find that respondent never disputed complainant's accusation that he
notarized the SPA purportedly executed by Benitez on January 4, 2001. He likewise never took issue with the fact
that on said date, Benitez was already dead. His act was a serious breach of the sacred obligation imposed upon
him by the Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which prohibited him from
engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. As a lawyer and as an officer of the court, it was his
duty to serve the ends of justice,9 not to corrupt it. Oath-bound, he was expected to act at all times in accordance
with law and ethics, and if he did not, he would not only injure himself and the public but also bring reproach upon
an honorable profession.10
In the recent case of Zaballero v. Atty. Mario J. Montalvan,11 where the respondent notarized certain documents and
made it appear that the deceased father of complainant executed them, the Court declared the respondent there
guilty of violating Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.12 The Court was emphatic that
lawyers commissioned as notaries public should not authenticate documents unless the persons who signed them
are the very same persons who executed them and personally appeared before them to attest to the contents and
truth of what are stated therein. The Court added that notaries public must observe utmost fidelity, the basic
requirement in the performance of their duties, otherwise the confidence of the public in the integrity of notarized
deeds and documents will be undermined.
In the case at bar, the records show that Benitez died on October 25, 2000. However, respondent notarized the
SPA, purportedly bearing the signature of Benitez, on January 4, 2001 or more than two months after the latter's
death. The notarial acknowledgement of respondent declared that Benitez "appeared before him and acknowledged
that the instrument was his free and voluntary act." Clearly, respondent lied and intentionally perpetuated an
untruthful statement. Notarization is not an empty, meaningless and routinary act. 13 It converts a private document
into a public instrument, making it admissible in evidence without the necessity of preliminary proof of its authenticity
and due execution.14
Neither will respondent's defense that the SPA in question was superfluous and unnecessary, and prejudiced no
one, exonerate him of accountability. His assertion of falsehood in a public document contravened one of the most
cherished tenets of the legal profession and potentially cast suspicion on the truthfulness of every notarial act. As
the Municipal Administrator of Cainta, he should have been aware of his great responsibility not only as a notary
public but as a public officer as well. A public office is a public trust. Respondent should not have caused disservice
to his constituents by consciously performing an act that would deceive them and the Municipality of Cainta. Without
the fraudulent SPA, the erring parties in the construction project could not have encashed the check amounting
to P3,700,000 and could not have foisted on the public a spurious contract all to the extreme prejudice of the very
Municipality of which he was the Administrator. According to the COA Special Task Force:
Almost all acts of falsification of public documents as enumerated in Article 171 in relation to Article 172 of the
Revised Penal Code were evident in the transactions of the Municipality of Cainta with J.C. Benitez & Architects
Technical Management for the consultancy services in the conduct of Detailed Feasibility Study and Detailed
Engineering Design of the Proposed Construction of Cainta Municipal Medium Rise Low Cost Housing, in the
contract amount of P11,000,000. The agent resorted to misrepresentation, manufacture or fabrication of fictitious
document, untruthful narration of facts, misrepresentation, and counterfeiting or imitating signature for the purpose
of creating a fraudulent contract. All these were tainted with deceit perpetrated against the government resulting to

undue injury. The first and partial payment, in the amount of P3,700,000.00 was made in the absence of the
required outputs. x x x15
We need not say more except that we are constrained to change the penalty recommended by the IBP which we
find too light.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Gregorio E. Ariola, Jr., is found guilty of gross misconduct and is hereby
DISBARRED from the practice of law. Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and
entered in the records of respondent, and brought to the immediate attention of the Ombudsman.
SO ORDERED.