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Ibanes vs Roman Catholic Church

FACTS: The history of the image of the Holy Child of Ternate (Santo Nio de
Ternate), to which this case relates, is as follows:
But even if this section were applicable to such a case as the present, the action
could not be maintained. In the case of Smith v. Swormstedt, above cited, the
ISSUE: Whether or not the plaintiffs have the right to represent the inhabitants of the court said, at page 303:jgc:chanro

town of Ternate?

HELD: There are no other allegations in the complaint as to the right of the plaintiffs "In all cases where exceptions to the general rule are allowed, and a few
to represent the inhabitants of Ternate, nor is there any proof whatever in the case upon are permitted to sue and defend on I behalf of the many, by
this point. The claim of the plaintiffs is that the persons who were at the time of the representation, care must be taken that persons are brought on the
record fairly representing the interest or right involved, so that it may
presentation of the complaint the inhabitants of Ternate were the owners in common
be fully and honestly tried.
of the image considered as a piece of personal property. There is no evidence to show
that the present plaintiffs, or any one of the present inhabitants of Ternate, were the It sufficiently appears from the record in this case that it is a controversy
heirs or in any way related to any one of the two hundred Mardicas who came to the between the Roman Catholic Church on one side and the Independent Filipino
Philippines nearly two hundred and fifty years ago. The claim of the plaintiffs is Church on the other. That it is the purpose if the plaintiffs, if they secure
apparently not rested upon the proposition that they are entitled to relief because they possession of the image, to place it in the chapel of the Independent Church is
also very clear. What number of the inhabitants of the town (2,460 according to
are such heirs, but because they live in the pueblo. Their view seems to be that the
the census) are members of the Roman Catholic Church and what part are
heirs of the Mardicas living in other pueblos have no interest in the image.
members of the Independent Filipino Church does not appear. But it is very
apparent that many of the inhabitants are opposed to the transfer of the image
Nor is there any evidence in the case to show how many, if any, of the plaintiffs or of from the Roman Catholic Church. Under the circumstances, the thirteen plaintiffs
the present inhabitants of Ternate, who are some 2,460 people, belong to the Roman do not fairly represent all of the inhabitants of the town. Their interest and the
Catholic Church. It will have been observed that, when the Mardicas came here, there interests of some of the others are diametrically opposed. For this reason this
came with them a priest of the Roman Catholic Church; that the image has always action can not be maintained.
been used in connection with the worship of the religion professed by that church; that
the cofradia was an organization of that church, and by the terms of the decree of
November 30, 1803, necessarily had to have as its rector a priest of that religion; that
the disposition of the image has always been at the charge of the churchs officers, and
that recourse has always been had to them to determine any rights relating thereto.
The plaintiffs rely upon article 118 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which is as

"When the subject-matter of the controversy is one of common or

general interest to many persons, and the parties are so numerous that
it is impracticable to bring them all before the court, one or more may
sue or defend for the benefit of all. But in such case any party in interest
shall have a right to intervene in protection of his individual interests,
and the court shall make sure that the parties actually before it are
sufficiently numerous and representative so that all interests concerned
are fully protected.

No case has been called to our attention in which this section or the rule which
it enunciates has been applied where the ownership of personal property is
involved and where it is claimed to belong to persons who at a particular time
reside in a particular place, or where the ownership changes as persons move in
or out of such locality.