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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule

e 13)

G.R. No. L-41767 August 23, 1978 On June 26, 1975, private respondents filed a motion to "set aside the order of default
MR. AND MRS. ROMEO FERRER and ANNETTE FERRER, petitioners, vs. HON. and subsequent pleadings" on the ground that "defendants' failure to appear for pre-trial
VICENTE G. ERICTA, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Court of First was due to accident or excusable neglect." This was opposed by petitioners on the
Instance of Rizal, Quezon City, Branch XVIII, MR. AND MRS. FRANCIS PFLEIDER ground that the said pleading was not under oath, contrary to the requirements of Sec. 3,
and DENNIS PFLEIDER, respondents. Rule 18 of the Rules, and that it was not accompanied by an affidavit of merit showing
that the defendants have a good defense. In view of this, the motion of private
Mandamus to compel the immediate execution of the Decision of the Court of First respondents was denied by respondent Judge on July 21, 1975. On the same date,
Instance of Quezon City, Branch XVIII, presided over by respondent Judge, in Civil Case respondent Judge rendered judgment against private respondents, finding that the minor
No. Q-19647, dated July 21, 1975. The pertinent facts are as follows: Dennis Pfleider, was allowed by his parents to operate a Ford pick-up car and because
of his reckless negligence caused the accident in question, resulting in injuries to
In a complaint for damages against respondents, dated December 27, 1974 but actually Annette, and ordering the defendants, as a result thereof, to pay jointly and severally the
filed on January 6, 1975 (Civil Case No. Q-19647), and assigned to the sala of plaintiffs the following amounts: (1) P24,500.00 for actual expenses, hospitalization and
respondent Judge, it was alleged that defendants Mr. and Mrs. Francis Pfleider, residents medical expenses; (2) P24,000.00 for actual expenses for the care, medicines of plaintiff
of Bayawan, Negros Oriental, were the owners or operators of a Ford pick-up car; that at Annette for helps from December 31, 1970 to December 31, 1974; (3) P50,000.00 for
about 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon of December 31, 1970, in the streets of Bayawan, moral damages; (4) P10,000.00 for exemplary damages; (5) P5,000.00 for attorney's
Negros Oriental, their son, defendant Dennis Pfleider, who was then only sixteen (16) fees; and (6) costs of suit.
years of age, without proper official authority, drove the above-described vehicle, without
due regard to traffic rules and regulations, and without taking the necessary precaution to On September 1, 1975, private respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration 1 of the
prevent injury to persons or damage to property, and as a consequence the pickup car decision and of the order denying the motion to set aside order of default, based on the
was overturned, causing physical injuries to plaintiff Annette Ferrer, who was then a following grounds: (1) the complaint states no cause of action insofar as Mr. and Mrs. Pfleider
passenger therein, which injuries paralyzed her and required medical treatment and are concerned because it does not allege that at the time of the mishap, defendant Dennis
confinement at different hospitals for more than two (2) years; that as a result of the Pfleider was living with them, the fact being that at such time he was living apart from them,
physical injuries sustained by Annette, she suffered unimaginable physical pain, mental hence, there can be no application of Article 2180 of the Civil Code, upon which parents'
anguish, and her parents also suffered mental anguish, moral shock and spent a liability is premised; and (2) that tile complaint shows on its face "that it was filed only
considerable sum of money for her treatment. They prayed that defendants be ordered to on January 6, 1975, or after the lapse of MORE THAN FOUR YEARS from the date of the
reimburse them for actual expenses as well as other damages. accident on December 31, 1970", likewise appearing from the complaint and, therefore, the
action has already prescribed under Article 1146 of the Civil Code.
In due time, defendants filed their answer, putting up the affirmative defense that
defendant Dennis Pfleider exercised due care and utmost diligence in driving the vehicle A Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration 2 was subsequently filed by defendants-private
aforementioned and alleging that Annette Ferrer and the other persons aboard said respondents on September 10, 1975, alleging that their defense of prescription has not been
vehicle were not passengers in the strict sense of the term, but were merely joy riders waived and may be raised even at such stage of the proceedings because on the face of the
and that, consequently, defendants had no obligation whatsoever to plaintiffs. complaint, as well as from the plaintiff's evidence, their cause of action had already
prescribed, citing as authority the decision of this Court in Philippine National Bank v. Pacific
Commission House, 3 as well as the decisions quoted therein. The Opposition 4 to the above
At the pre-trial on May 12, 1975, only plaintiffs-petitioners and their counsel were
supplemental motion interposed by plaintiffs-petitioners averred that: (a) the defense of
present. Consequently, defendants-private respondents were declared in default and the prescription had been waived while the defense that the complaint states no cause of action
plaintiff petitioners were allowed to present their evidence ex parte. On May 21, 1975, "is available only at any time not later than the trial and prior to the decision"; (b) inasmuch as
petitioners moved that they be granted an extension of ten (10) days from May 22, 1975 defendants have been declared in default for failure to appear at the pretrial conference, they
to present her evidence, which was granted by the court a quo. The presentation of have lost their standing in court and cannot be allowed to adduce evidence nor to take part in
petitioners' evidence was later continued by the trial court to June 16, 1975, when the the trial, in accordance with Section 2 of Rule 18 of the Rules of Court; and (c) the motion and
deposition of Annette Ferrer was submitted by petitioners and admitted by the trial court. supplemental motion for reconsideration are pro forma because the defenses raised therein
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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
have been previously raised and passed upon by respondent court in resolving defendants' It is true that the defense of prescription can only be considered if the same is
motion to set aside order of default. Being pro forma, said motion and supplemental motion invoked as such in the answer of the defendant and that in this particular
do not suspend the running of the thirty-day period to appeal, which was from August 5, 1975, instance no such defense was invoked because the defendants had been
when defendants received a copy of the decision, to September 4, 1975, and hence the declared in default, but such rule does riot obtain when the evidence shows that
decision has already become final and executory. Plaintiffs-petitioners accordingly prayed the cause of action upon which plaintiff's complaint is based is already barred by
that a writ of execution be issued to enforce the judgment in their favor. the statute of limitations. (Emphasis supplied.)

On September 23, 1975, respondent judge, without setting aside the order of default, Again, in Philippine National Bank v. Pacific Commission House, 7 where the action sought
issued an order absolving defendants from any liability on the grounds that: (a) the to revive a judgment rendered by the Court of First Instance of Manila on February 3, 1953
complaint states no cause of action because it does not allege that Dennis Pfleider was and it was patent from the stamp appearing on the first page of the complaint that the
living with his parents at the time of the vehicular accident, considering that under Article complaint was actually filed on May 31, 1963, this Court sustained the dismissal of the
2180 of the Civil Code, the father and, in case of his death or incapacity the mother, are complaint on the ground of prescription, although such defense was not raised in the answer,
only responsible for the damages caused by their minor children who live in their overruling the appellants' invocation of Section 2 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court that
company; and (b) that the defense of prescription is meritorious, since the complaint was "defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in tile answer are
filed more than four (4) years after the date of the accident, and the action to recover deemed waived." We held therein that "... the fact that the plaintiff's own allegation in tile
damages based on quasi-delict prescribes in four (4) years. Hence, the instant petition complaint or the evidence it presented shows clearly that the action had prescribed removes
for mandamus. this case from the rule regarding waiver of the defense by failure to plead the same."

The basic issue is whether the defense of prescription had been deemed waived by In the present case, there is no issue of fact involved in connection with the question of
private respondents' failure to allege the same in their answer. prescription. The complaint in Civil Case No. Q-19647 alleges that the accident which
caused the injuries sustained by plaintiff Annette Ferrer occured on December 31, 1970.
As early as Chua Lamko v. Dioso, et al., 5 this Court sustained the dismissal of a It is undisputed that the action for damages was only filed on January 6, 1975. Actions
counterclaim on the ground of prescription, although such defense was not raised in the for damages arising from physical injuries because of a tort must be filed within four
answer of the plaintiff. Thus, this Court held that where the answer does not take issue with years. 8 The four-year period begins from the day the quasi-delict is committed or the date of
the complaint as to dates involved in the defendant's claim of prescription, his failure to the accident. 9
specifically plead prescription in the answer does not constitute a waiver of the defense of
prescription. It was explained that the defense of prescription, even if not raised in a motion to WHEREFORE, the instant petition for mandamus is hereby DISMISSED, without
dismiss or in the answer, is not deemed waived unless such defense raises issues of fact not pronouncement as to costs.
appearing upon the preceding pleading.

In Philippine National Bank v. Perez, et al., 6 which was an action filed by the Philippine
National Bank on March 22, 1961 for revival of a judgment rendered on December 29, 1949
against Amando Perez, Gregorio Pumuntoc and Virginia de Pumuntoc pursuant to Section 6,
Rule 39 of the rules of court the defendants were declared in default for their failure to file
their answer. There upon, the plaintiff submitted its evidence, but when the case was
submitted for decision, the court a quo dismissed the complaint on the ground that plaintiff's
cause of action had already prescribed under Articles 1144 and 1152 of the Civil Code. The
plaintiff in said case, contending that since prescription is a defense that can only be set up
by defendants, the court could not motu proprio consider it as a basis for dismissal, moved to
reconsider the order, but its motion was denied. When the issue was raised to this Court, We
ruled:

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. L-48577 September 30, 1980 It is true that an action will not be held to have prescribed if prescription is not expressly
SULPICIO A. GARCIA, petitioner, vs. COLONEL PAUL C. MATHIS, in his capacity as invoked. However there are exceptions to this rule and one of them is when the plaintiff's
Base Commander, Clark Air Force Base (CAFB) or his SUCCESSOR, and the own allegations in his complaint show clearly that the action has prescribed. (Philippine
HONORABLE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF PANGASINAN, Branch IV, Dagupan National Bank vs. Pacific Commission House, G.R. No. L-22675, March 28, 1969, 27
City, respondents. SCRA 766). In this case the complaint shows clearly that the plaintiff's action had
prescribed for he alleged that he was removed on August 23, 1956 (par. 5) but the case
Petition for certiorari to set aside the Order of the respondent judge, dated June 4, 1978, was filed only on November 18, 1977, after a lapse of more than 21 years. Prescinding,
dismissing petitioner's Complaint against the private respondent and another Order, therefore, the defense of jurisdiction which is apparently meritorious, the complaint was
dated July 7, 1978, denying a motion to reconsider the aforesaid order. properly dismissed.

The factual background can be briefly stated as follows. It is not amiss to state here that because of the special appearance which the defendant
had entered, he was constrained to confine himself to showing that the trial court did not
In Civil Case No. D-4097 of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan presided by the have jurisdiction over his person and had to exclude all other non-jurisdictional grounds
respondent judge, Sulpicio Garcia, the petitioner herein, sued Colonel Paul C. Mathis in in his motion to dismiss otherwise he could be deemed to have abandoned his special
his capacity as Base Commander, CAFB, acting for and in behalf of the United States of appearance and voluntarily submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court. (Republic
America. The complaint, which was filed on November 8, 1977, alleged that Garcia was vs. Ker z Co., Ltd; G.R. No. L-21609, Sept. 29,1966, 18 SCRA 207).
a civilian employee at Clark Air Force Base from May 26, 1949, to August 23, 1956,
when he was dismissed for alleged bribery and collusion. He prayed inter alia that he be WHEREFORE, finding the petition to be without merit, the same is hereby dismissal
reinstated to his former position, and paid back wages, moral damages, attorney's fees without any special pronouncement as to costs.
and costs of the suit.
SO ORDERED.
The defendant Mathis entered a special appearance and filed a motion for the dismissal
of the complaint upon the ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction over his person
because he was being sued as the representative of a foreign sovereign "which has not
consented and does not now consent to the maintenance of the present suit."

On June 7, 1978, the respondent judge issued an Order as aforesaid the text of which
reads as follows:

Without considering the issue of jurisdiction raised by the defendant in his motion
to dismiss the above-entitled case, the Court finds that the cause of action has
already prescribed, because paragraphs 3 and 5 of the complaint alleged that the
services of the plaintiff has been terminated on August 23, 1956.

WHEREFORE, the above-entitled case is hereby dismissed.

The only issue in this case is whether or not the respondent judge committed a grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when he dismissed the complaint on
the ground of prescription which the defendant did not raise in any of his pleadings.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. L-39047 April 30, 1985 of the land subject matter of this case; that the signature Sotera Pascua,
ALBERTO PASCUA, CRISPINA PASCUA, SOTERA PASCUA, and EDUARDO appearing in Exhibit D is not also the signature of Sotera Pascua; that he and his
MOLINA, petitioners, vs. HON. ALFREDO C. FLORENDO, CFI of Cagayan, co-plaintiffs did not appear before the Notary Public; that the land subject matter
CLEMENTE CASTRO, and JULIANA O. CASTRO, respondents. of this case was never given to Martin Pascua by their deceased father; that
Martin Pascua is already dead; that the land is now titled in the name of the
This is a petition for review on certiorari, seeking to annul the decision of the Court of defendant Juliana O. Castro (Exhibits F and F-1) while the deed of sale was
First Instance of Cagayan which dismissed the petitioners' action for reconveyance with executed in favor of Clemente Castro (Exhibit D); that the land is declared for
damages on the ground that the period within which to file the same had already taxation purposes under Tax Declaration No. 157 (Exhibit G) in the name of
prescribed. Juliana Castro; that plaintiffs and the defendants have been neighbors since
before the war and defendants know that the land sold to them and subject
Petitioners, as plaintiffs, filed a complaint for reconveyance with damages against the matter of this suit was inherited by the plaintiffs from their deceased father; that
private respondents, spouses Clemente and Juliana Castro. The latter, as defendants, in they (plaintiffs) have been deprived of the fruits of the land for more than 20
lieu of filing an answer, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the years; that the land yields from thirty to forty sacks of palay valued at P 30.00
complaint states no cause of action and that the same is already barred by the statute of each; and that plaintiffs agreed to pay their counsel the amount of P 1,200.00 out
limitations. of which they have already paid P 200.00.

The trial court denied the respondents' motion after finding that the grounds relied upon From Exhibit D of the plaintiffs, it appears that the deed of sale was executed in
by them did not appear on the face of the complaint. The court subsequently declared favor the defendant Clemente Castro married to Juliana Orteza by Martin Pascua
the respondents in default for their having failed to file an answer within the reglementary on May 8, 1951. Alberto Pascua and Sotera Pascua testified that lately they
period. Thus, the petitioners proceeded to present their evidence ex-parte came to know that this land was conveyed by Martin Pascua to the defendants
and that said defendants have been in possession of the land in question for
After receiving the petitioners' evidence, the trial court made the following findings: more than 20 years. They testified further, however, that they have been deprived
of the fruits of the land for more than twenty years. If such is the case, it is clear
From the evidence adduced during the presentation of evidence by plaintiffs, it that the defendants have entered and occupied the property for more than twenty
was shown that Alberto Pascua is one of the plaintiffs in this case; that he knows years and it is inconceivable that the plaintiffs did not come to know that the
his co-plaintiffs Crispina, Sotera, surnamed Pascua, and Eduardo Molina, the defendants bought the property from their brother Martin Pascua when they
first two being his sisters while the last is his nephew being the son of his sister admitted that they have suffered damages by virtue of the dispossession for
Alejandra; that his father is Jordan Pascua while his mother is Magdalena more than twenty years. The conclusion is obvious that the plaintiffs had
Dumadag; that both his parents are already dead (Exhibits A, B, and C); that knowledge of the transaction made by their brother about twenty years ago.
Alejandra Pascua is also dead; that during the lifetime of Jordan and Magdalena
Dumadag, they begot five children, namely Alberto, Alejandra, Crispina, Martin From the evidence of the plaintiffs, the Court finds that there was really fraud
and Sotera; that Jordan Pascua and Magdalena Dumadag acquired a parcel of committed by Martin Pascua in selling the entire property which said Martin
land located at Dacalafugo, Camalaniugan, Cagayan, consisting of 1.02.20 Pascua and plaintiffs inherited from their parents thus excluding the shares of the
hectares and described in paragraph 3 of the complaint; that lately they came to plaintiffs. Certainly, Martin Pascua could only sell one-fifth of the property and
know that their brother Martin Pascua sold the property to Clemente Castro, a that the four-fifths were fraudulently conveyed by him. It is clear that there was
resident of Camalaniugan, Cagayan; that when they went to complain to the fraud on the part of Martin Pascua in selling the shares of his brother and sisters.
Agrarian office in Tuguegarao Clemente Castro showed them the deed of sale The action for relief on the ground of fraud, however, may be brought only within
which they xerox copied (Exhibit D); that the signature Alberto Pascua appearing four years from the discovery of the fraud. (Article 1391, New Civil Code; Section
in Exhibit D is not his signature; that the genuine signature of Alberto Pascua 43 (c) Act 190).
appears in Exhibit E; that he and this co-plaintiffs did not give consent to the sale
xxx xxx xxx
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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
In view of the fact that the deed of sale was executed on May 8, 1951, or over We likewise find the petitioners' contention, that they came to know of the deed of sale
twenty years before the filing of the complaint on May 31, 1973, it is hard to by Martin Pascua in favor of the respondents only in 1973, highly improbable. As the trial
believe that plaintiffs did not come to know of this deed of sale executed by their court correctly observed, it is inconceivable that the petitioners did not come to know
brother. The Court, therefore, comes to the inevitable conclusion that this action, about the purchase by the respondents of property from Martin Pascua. They admitted
having been filed 22 years after the execution of the deed of sale, has long that they have been neighbors of the respondents since before the war or period of about
prescribed. 30 years and that the latter had deprived them of the fruits of the land in question for
more than 20 years. Alberto Pascua, one of the petitioners testified that his parents from
Not satisfied with the trial court's decision, petitioners elevated the case to this Court whom they inherited the property died more than 25 years ago yet the children never
through this petition. The petitioners ask us to examine the following alleged errors of the exerted any effort to have the property partitioned. This fact indicates that petitioners had
respondent court: knowledge of the sale, which explains why they had no interest at all in any project of
partition. More important is the fact that after the respondents purchased the land they
1. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING THE CASE ON GROUND OF worked to secure an Original Certificate of Title on the basis of a free patent application.
PRESCRIPTION ALTHOUGH IT HAS PREVIOUSLY DENIED A MOTION TO This was way back in 1958, 15 years before the petitioners decided to file the action
DISMISS BASED ON THE SAME GROUND. below. Clearly, the petitioners' action is now barred by the statute of limitations.

2. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT GRANTING RELIEF TO PLAINTIFFS In the case of Iglesia ni Cristo v. Hon. Judge, Court of First instance of Nueva Ecija, Br.
ALTHOUGH THE DEFENDANTS WERE DECLARED IN DEFAULT. I (123 SCRA 523), quoting the case of Labora v. Dayang-hirang (37 SCRA 346), we
ruled:
The petitioners contend that the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion when,
after hearing their evidence presented ex-parte, the respondents having been declared in The rule in this jurisdiction, regarding public patents and the character of the
default, it dismissed the case on the ground that the action had already prescribed. certificate of title that may be issued by virtue thereof, is that where land is
When the same ground was earlier raised, the court denied the motion to dismiss filed by granted by the government to a private individual, the corresponding patent
the respondents. The petitioners argue that because of its denying the motion to dismiss, therefore, is recorded, and the certificate of title is issued to the grantee;
the trial court is estopped from dismissing the case on the same ground. Petitioners thereafter, the land is automatically brought within the operation of the Land
further contend that the court's conclusion that they had knowledge of the sale executed Registration Act, the title issued to the grantee becoming entitled to all the
by their deceased brother, Martin Pascua about twenty years ago is based merely on safeguards provided in Section 38 of said Act. In other words, upon the expiration
surmises and conjectures because, in reality, it was only in 1973 when they came to of one year from its issuance, the certificate of title becomes irrevocable and
learn of the deed of sale executed by their deceased brother in 1951. In 1973, the deed indefeasible like a certificate issued in a registration proceeding.
was shown to them by respondent Clemente Castro at the Agrarian office. Therefore, the
period of prescription should be counted from the knowledge of the petitioners of the It is quite obvious, therefore, that the respondents' title has already become indefeasible
deed of sale and not from the date it was executed. and irrevocable, the one-year period provided by law having expired in 1959.

Petitioners' contention are without merit. Moreover, even if we add the lower court's finding that there was fraud on the part of
Martin Pascua when he effected the sale of the disputed lot in favor of the respondents,
The trial court denied the motion to dismiss because the grounds relied upon by the the petitioners are still barred from recovering the lot because their action should have
respondents for their motion did not appear on the face of the complaint. There was no been filed within four (4) years from their discovery of the fraud, which in turn, is deemed
finding that the allegation of prescription had no merit. It cannot be said, therefore, that at the latest to have taken place in 1958, when the respondents were issued an original
the trial court was already estopped from passing upon the issue of prescription. The certificate of title. This was our ruling in the case of Balbin v. Medalla (108 SCRA 666)
issue was not adjudicated on its merits and the doctrine of res judicata had not set in yet. where we stated:

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An action for reconveyance of real property resulting from fraud may be barred Favorable relief can be granted only after the court has ascertained that the evidence
by the statute of limitations, which requires that the action shall be filed within offered and the facts proven by the presenting party, petitioners in this case, warrant the
four (4) years from the discovery of the fraud. Such discovery is deemed to have grant of the same. Otherwise, it would be meaningless to require presentation of
taken place when the petitioners herein were issued original certificates of title evidence if everytime the other party is declared in default, a decision would
through either homestead or free patent grants, for the registration of said automatically be rendered in favor of the non-defaulting party and exactly according to
patents constitutes constructive notice to the whole world. (Gerona v. de the tenor of his prayer. This is not contemplated by the Rules nor is it sanctioned by the
Guzman, 11 SCRA 153, and cited cases thereof ). due process clause.

In the case at bar, the latest patent was issued on October 14, 1959. There is, In the case of Lim Tanhu v. Ramolete (66 SCRA 452-453), we had occasion to elaborate
therefore, merit in petitioners' contention that if any action for reconveyance on this point. We ruled:
should be commenced, the same should be filed on or before October 14, 1963.
But private respondents' complaint for reconveyance and annulment of titles with The Rules of Court contain a separate rule on the subject of default, Rule 18. But
damages was filed only on August 30, 1973 or more than 14 years had already said rule is concerned solely with default resulting from failure of the defendant or
elapsed from the date of the issuance of the respective titles of the defendants. defendants to answer within the reglementary period. Referring to the simplest
Consequently, the action for reconveyance of land titled in the names of form of default, that is, where there is only one defendant in the action and he
defendants (petitioners herein) had already prescribed. fails to answer on time, Section I of the rule provides that upon 'proof of such
failure, (the court shall) declare the defendant in default. Thereupon the court
The petitioners raise as a second issue that the respondent court had no alternative but shall proceed to receive the plaintiff's evidence and render judgment granting him
to grant the relief prayed for in their complaint as this was evident in the tenor of the such relief as the complaint and the facts proven may warrant.' This last clause is
summons issued by said court which in part stated: clarified by Section 5 which says that 'a judgment entered against a party in
default shall not exceed the amount or be different in kind from that prayed for'.
... if you fail to appear within the time aforesaid, the plaintiff will take judgment
against you by default and demand from this Court the relief applied for in said Unequivocal, in the literal sense, as these provisions are, they do not readily
complaint. ... convey the full import of what they contemplate. To begin with, contrary to the
immediate notion that can be drawn from their language, these provisions are not
Petitioners also anchor their contention on Rule 18, Section 1 of the Rules of Court which to be understood as meaning that default or the failure of the defendant to
provides: answer should be 'interpreted as an admission by the said defendant that the
plaintiff's cause of action find support in the law or that plaintiff is entitled to the
Judgment by default.If the defendant fails to answer within the time specified in relief prayed for.' (Moran, supra, p. 535 citing Macondray & Co. v. Eustaquio, 64
these rules, the court shall, upon motion of the plaintiff and proof of such failure, Phil. 466, citing with approval Chaffin v. McFadden, 41 Ark 42; Johnson v. Pierce,
declare the defendant in default. Thereupon the court shall proceed to receive 12 Ark. 599; Mayden v. Johnson, 59 Ga. 105; People v. Rust, 292 Ill. 328; Ken v.
the plaintiff's evidence and render judgment granting him such relief as the Leopold, 21 Ill. A. 163; Chicago, etc. Electric R. Co. v. Krempel, 116 Ill. A. 253.)
complaint and the facts proven may warrant. This provision applies where no
answer is made to a counter-claim, cross-claim or third-party complaint within the xxx xxx xxx
period provided in this Rule.
In other words, a defaulted defendant is not actually thrown out of court. While in
Nowhere in the aforequoted provision nor in the summons issued by the respondent a sense it may be said that by defaulting he leaves himself at the mercy of the
court is it stated that the petitioners are automatically entitled to the relief prayed for, court, the rules see to it that any judgment against him must be in accordance
once the respondents are declared in default. with law. The evidence to support the plaintiff's cause is, of course, presented in
his absence, but the court is not supposed to admit that which is basically

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incompetent. Although the defendant would not be in a position to object,
elementary justice requires that only legal evidence should be considered against
him. If the evidence presented should not be sufficient to justify a judgment for
the plaintiff, the complaint must be dismissed. And if an unfavorable judgment
should be justifiable, it cannot exceed in amount or be different in kind from what
is prayed for in the complaint.

In the instant case, from the evidence presented ex-parte by the petitioners and from
their very own allegations, the only judgment that is warranted is the dismissal of the
complaint. It is barred by the statute of limitations.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. L-45828 June 1, 1992 for at least thirthy (30) years immediately preceding the filing of the present application;
DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, and that these parcels of land are portions of the public domain belonging to the
SILVESTRE MANLAPAZ and NATIVIDAD PIZARRO, respondents. Republic of the Philippines, and therefore, not subject to appropriation. 6

This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the Decision 1 rendered At the hearing on August 21, 1973, the Court issued an order of special default with the
by respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 56788-B, dated March 7, 1977, affirming exception of the Director of Lands. 7 As prayed for by private respondents' counsel, the
the Decision 2 of the then Court of First Instance of Bataan, dated April 6, 1974, in Land parties were allowed to present evidence before the Clerk of Court who was
Registration Case No. N-235, adjudicating in favor of herein private respondents the commissioned to receive the same and to submit his findings after the termination of the
subject two (2) parcels of land. reception of evidence. 8

The undisputed facts of the case are as follows: In order to establish thirty (30) years of open and continuous possession over the subject
property, private respondents presented Crisanto Angeles and Monico Balila, Crisanto
On January 29, 1973, spouses Silvestre Manlapaz and Natividad Pizarro (herein private Angeles claimed that he first took possession of these two (2) parcels of land in the year
respondents) filed an application before the Court of First Instance of Bataan, seeking 1931 while he was still twenty (20) years old. He cleared the land and planted different
the registration and confirmation of titles to two (2) parcels of land, under Act 496 in kinds of fruit-bearing trees such as mango, star apple and bananas, as well as seasonal
relation to Sec. 48 (B) of C.A. No. 141, designated as Lot No. 2855 and Lot No. 2856. crops thereon. He likewise converted 5,000 sq. meters thereof into a ricefield which was
The parcels of land applied for are portions of Lot 2749 of Orion Cadastre covered by enlarged to one hectare. 9 These parcels of land were declared for taxation purposes
plans Sgs-4600-D and Sgs-4601-D, situated at Barrio Damulog, Municipality of Orion, only in 1966. 10 Meanwhile, in the year 1938, he sold the parcel containing an area of
Province of Bataan, containing an area of 49,954 sq. meters and 54,052 sq. meters, about five (5) hectares to Pablito Punay, who immediately took possession of the same,
respectively. 3 cultivated it and introduced several improvements thereon. 11 In September 1972, after
he had already cleared the whole tract of the second parcel of land, he sold the same to
Prior to the initial hearing of the case, the trial court in its Order dated April 5, 1973, private respondents. 12 Pablito Punay also sold the first parcel of land he acquired from
directed the Land Registration Commissioner to submit his report on whether or not the Crisanto to them. 13Angeles further stated that he knew all the owners of the adjoining
parcels of land in question had been issued patents or whether the same are subject of parcels of land but, on cross-examination, was unable to remember their
pending decrees. 4 In compliance with this directive, Acting Geodetic Engineer (Chief names. 14 Witness Monico Balila testified that he is the owner of the parcel of land
Surveyor) Amado Masicampo, on behalf of the Commissioner of Land Registration, filed adjoining private respondent's property. He had seen Angeles clear the same and plant
a manifestation dated April 26, 1973 stating that the subject parcels of land described on different fruit trees. On cross-examination, he said that he was twelve (12) years old
Plans Sgs-4600-D and Sgs-4601-D are portions of Lot 2749, Cad. 241, Orion Cadastre when he first lived at Bilolo, Orion, Bataan in 1938. His land holding was five kilometers
and that the same have been the subject of registration proceedings in Court Cadastral away from private respondents' land and it was his uncle who was then in possession of
Case No. 15, LRC (GLRO) Cadastral Record No. 1021 wherein a decision has been the land he presently owns. 15
rendered although there is no existing record of the same on file because it was among
those records lost or destroyed due to the ravages of the last global war. The record also Private respondent Silvestre Manlapaz also testified that upon their acquisition of the two
disclosed that Plans Sgs-4600-D and Sgs-4601-D, when plotted in the Municipal Index (2) parcels of land designated as Lots 2855 and 2856, they immediately took possession
Map through their respective lines conflict with Lot 1, Sgs-2806 which has been issued of the same, planted coconuts, camotes and other vegetables and expanded the portion
Sales Patent No. 5819. 5 planted to palay. Some portions were converted into two (2) residential lots, one with an
area of 276 sq. meters and the other, 105 sq. meters. They then declared those
The Director of Lands seasonably filed an opposition on the ground that neither the properties in their names and paid the corresponding land taxes. 16
applicants nor their predecessor-in-interest possess sufficient title to acquire ownership
in fee simple of the parcels of land applied for; that they have not been in open, The Director of Lands, on the other hand, did not present any evidence to support his
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the land in question opposition.

8
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
On April 6, 1974, the lower court rendered its decision, the dispositive part of which reads The Court of Appeals committed no error in disregarding res judicata. In the case
as follows: of Director of Lands v. Court of Appeals, 20 this Court had addressed a similar contention
in this manner:
WHEREFORE, the title to two parcels of land Identified and shown in plans Sgs-
4600-D and 4601-D, situated at Barrio Damulog, Municipality of Orion, Province WE find no legal basis to uphold the foregoing contentions of Petitioner. It is
of Bataan, containing an area of 49,954 square meters and 54,052 square clear from the evidence on record that in the proceedings had before the Court of
meters, respectively, is ordered confirmed in the name of the spouses Silvestre First Instance of Batangas, acting as a land registration court, the oppositor
Manlapaz and Natividad Pizarro, both of legal age, Filipino citizens and residents Director of Lands. petitioner herein, did not interpose any objection nor set up the
of Pilar, Bataan. defense of res judicata with respect to the lots in question. Such failure on the
part of oppositor Director of Lands. to OUR mind, is a procedural infirmity which
After this decision shall have become final, let an order issue for a decree of cannot be cured on appeal. Section 2, Rule 9, Revised Rules of Court of 1964, in
registration in favor of the applicants. SO ORDERED. 17 no uncertain language, provides that:

From said judgment, the Director of Lands interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals SEC. 2. Defenses and obligations not pleaded deemed waived.
which promulgated its decision 18 on May 7, 1977, affirming the decision of the lower Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in
court. It found that the defense of res judicata was belatedly raised on appeal. The the answer are deemed waived; . . .
omission to include the same in the answer as one of the affirmative defenses
constitutes a waiver of said defense. The manifestation of Mr. Masicampo stating that the All defenses therefore not interposed in a motion to dismiss or in an answer are
two (2) parcels of land have been the subject of registration proceedings was not enough deemed waived. (Santiago, et al. v. Ramirez, et al.; L-15237, May 31, 1963, 8
to support res judicata. It concluded that the 30-year period of continuous possession of SCRA 157, 162; Torrada v. Bonearos, L-39832, January 30, 1976, 69 SCRA 247,
private respondents' predecessors-in-interest has been satisfactorily proved, the Director 253).
of Lands not having presented any evidence to contradict, impugn or impeach the facts
established by private respondents. Thus, the defense of res adjudicata when not set up either in a motion to dismiss
or in answer, is deemed waived. It cannot be pleaded for the first time at the trial
Hence, this petition which assigns the following errors: or on appeal. (Phil. Coal Miners' Union v. CEPOC, et al., L-19007, April 30, 1964,
10 SCRA 784, 789). (Emphasis supplied)
I Respondent Court erred in ruling that petitioner failed to raise the defense
of res judicata in the trial court and, hence, waived the same. Furthermore, petitioner advanced the view that it is the intendment of the law that a
person who fails to prove his title to a parcel of land which is the object of cadastral
II Respondent Court erred in ruling that petitioner failed to prove res judicata by proceedings or one who does not file his claim therein is forever barred from doing so in
competent evidence. a subsequent proceeding. Judgment in a cadastral proceeding which is a proceeding
in rem constitutes res judicata even against a person who did not take part in the
III Respondent Court erred in ruling that after the cadastral proceedings and the proceedings as claimant.
declaration of the subject parcels of land as public land therein, the same may be
the subject of judicial confirmation of imperfect title or claim based on adverse We disagree. The above-cited case likewise settled this contention. It said:
and continuous possession of at least thirty (30) years, citing the case
of Mindanao v. Director of Lands, et al., G.R. No. L-19535, July 10, 1967. 19 But granting for a moment, that the defenses of res adjudicata was properly
raised by petitioner herein, WE still hold that, factually, there is no prior final
judgment all to speak of. The decision in Cadastral Case No. 41 does not
constitute a bar to the application of respondent Manuela Pastor; because a

9
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
decision in a cadastral proceeding declaring a lot public land is not the final Third, Pablito Punay, the second predecessor-in-interest of Lot No. 2855 of the private
decree contemplated in Section 38 and 40 of the Land Registration Act. respondents was not made to testify. No reason was disclosed for his failure to appear
before the court.
A Judicial declaration that a parcel of land is public, does not preclude even the
same applicant from subsequently seeking a judicial confirmation of his title to Lastly, the documents introduced by the applicants merely evidenced the fact that the
the same land, provided he thereafter complies with the provisions. of Section 48 parcels of land applied for were alienable and disposable lands of the public
of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, and as long as said public land domain, 25 but no document has been presented that would clearly establish the length of
remains alienable and disposable (now section 3 and 4, PD No. time of the possession of their predecessors-in-interest. That the private respondents
1073,) 21 (Emphasis supplied) have paid the corresponding taxes since 1972 26 when they possessed the same is of no
moment because what is vital to consider is their predecessors-in-interest's compliance
As a rule, the Court respects the factual findings of the Court of Appeals, imparting to with the 30-year period.
them a certain measure of finality. However, the rule is not without clearly defined
exceptions, among which are: ". . . (2) the inference made is manifestly mistaken; . . . (4) Undoubtedly, the private respondents have failed to submit convincing proof of their
the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts; . . . and (9) when the finding of fact predecessors-in-interest's actual, peaceful and adverse possession in the concept of
of the Court of Appeals is premised on the absence of evidence and is contradicted by owner of the lots in question during the period required, by law. This is of utmost
evidence on record." 22 significance in view of the basic presumption that lands of whatever classification belong
to the State and evidence of a land grant must be "well-nigh incontrovertible." 27
It must be emphasized that the burden is on applicant to prove his positive averments
and not for the government or the private oppositors to establish a negative proposition WHEREFORE, premises considered, the May 7, 1977 decision of the Court of Appeals is
insofar as the applicants' specific lots are concerned. 23 Applying this rule to the instant hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and judgment is rendered DISMISSING the
case, the conclusions reached by the court a quo and respondent Court of Appeals that application for registration and confirmation of titles of Lots No. 2855 and 2656. No
the private respondents through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the subject land under
a bonafide claim of ownership are not persuasive for the following reasons.

First, the testimony of Crisanto Angeles as to his possession and ownership of the two
(2) parcels of land fails to inspire belief. He claimed that he was in possession of the land
way back in 1930. Yet he declared the same for taxation purposes only in 1966. Although
tax receipts are not incontrovertible evidence of ownership, they constitute at least proof
that the holder had a claim of title over the property. 24 He stated that he knew the owners
of the adjoining properties, but during the cross-examination, he was unable to give their
names. Nor was he able to explain how he came into possession of the parcel of land
and there is no showing of any title, perfect or imperfect, granted by the state to him or
his predecessors.

Second, the attempt of Monico Balila to corroborate Angeles' length of possession over
the subject property is less than credible. Having been an adjoining owner only in 1953
by his own admission, he could not have known how long Crisanto Angeles owned and
possessed the parcels of land.

10
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 104846 November 23, 1995 turnover was issued by Sheriff Elias Anacleto in favor of petitioner. But the order of
RODRIGO GABUYA represented by his attorney-in-fact LUCIA execution was elevated by respondent Layug through a petition for certiorari to the Court
PONCE, petitioner, vs. ANTONIO LAYUG and HON. FEDERICO NOEL, REGIONAL of Appeals which subsequently dismissed it.
TRIAL COURT, ILIGAN CITY, BRANCH 2, respondents.
On 30 September 1991 the sheriff submitted to the trial court a return of the writ of
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeking execution with the recommendation that the buildings of private respondent found in the
to annul the orders dated 16 October 1991 and 11 March 1992 of respondent Judge property be demolished.
Federico V. Noel, Regional Trial Court, Lanao del Norte, Br. 2, in Civil Case No. II-
1408, Antonio Layug v. Rodrigo Gabuya, and to annul the proceedings held thereon. The Meanwhile, on 27 June 1989 respondent Layug filed a complaint for specific
questioned orders and proceedings are alleged to unduly interfere with the final judgment performance with prayer for a temporary restraining order against petitioner seeking
of this Court in G.R. No. 75364 involving the same parties, the same facts and the same reimbursement for the value of the improvements, buildings and materials he (Layug)
issues. 1 introduced in the premises covered by the contract of sale which by final judgment of this
Court was already ordered rescinded.
On 4 October 1978 private respondent Antonio Layug entered into a contract with
petitioner Rodrigo Gabuya for the purchase by the former of the latter's twelve (12) lots His motion to dismiss in the court below having been denied petitioner filed his answer to
situated in Iligan City for the price of P120,000.00 payable in three (3) yearly the complaint.
installments. Respondent Layug paid the first two (2) annual installments totaling
P80,000.00 but failed to pay the last installment of P40,000.00. When formal demands On 16 October 1991 respondent judge issued an order directing Deputy Provincial
for payment were made by petitioner and respondent repeatedly failed to pay the former Sheriff Salcedo "to refrain from disposs(ess)ing plaintiff of the possession of the property
brought suit in the then Court of First Instance of Lanao del Norte (now Regional Trial until ordered by the court." 2 On 22 January 1992 the trial court on motion of petitioner
Court) for annulment of contract and for recovery of damages against Layug. reconsidered its order. However on 11 March 1992, this time upon motion of respondent
Layug, it again reconsidered its order and reinstated the restraining order of 16 October 1991
After trial judgment was rendered in favor of petitioner. Respondent appealed to the against Deputy Sheriff Salcedo. Hence this petition by Rodrigo Gabuya against respondent
Court of Appeals which on 30 August 1985 affirmed the judgment. The appellate court (1) judge and Antonio Layug alleging grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction
ordered the rescission of the conditional sale of the twelve (12) lots described in the on the part of respondent judge in taking cognizance of Civil Case No. II-1408 and in issuing
contract; (2) declared as rentals for the twelve (12) lots from 1978 to the present (30 the questioned orders.
August 1985) all payments made by respondent Layug to Gabuya plus the legal interest
thereon from the execution of the contract; (3) ordered respondent Layug to vacate the There is obvious merit in the petition. The final judgment of this Court in G.R. No. 75364
twelve (12) lots and deliver the possession thereof to petitioner Gabuya; and, (4) ordered promulgated 23 November 1988 involving the same parties, facts and issues constitutes
respondent Layug to pay petitioner Gabuya the sum of P5,000.00 as attorney's fees and an absolute bar to Civil Case No. II-1408 now pending with the Regional Trial Court of
to pay the costs. Lanao del Norte, Br. 2. It is final as to all claims and demands of petitioner Gabuya and
respondent Layug with regard to the twelve (12) lots in Iligan City subject matter of the
On appeal to us we affirmed the Court of Appeals particularly insofar as it authorized the contract of sale ordered cancelled by this Court. This judgment binds the parties not only
cancellation by petitioner Gabuya of the contract of sale with respondent Layug but as to every matter offered and received to sustain or defeat their claims or demand but
modified the same to the affect that the cancellation should be effective and fully as to any other admissible matter which might have been offered for that purpose and of
operative only upon payment of the "cash surrender value" of his payments in the sum of all other matters that could have been adjudged in that case.
P40,000.00.
In the case before us, the claim for reimbursement of the value of improvements
On 8 March 1989 our decision became final and executory. Consequently, on 31 May introduced by respondent Layug on the property subject of the contract of sale should
1989 a writ of execution was issued by the trial court. On 8 June 1989 a certificate of have been raised by him as a counterclaim in the complaint for annulment of contract
before the trial court in the first case instituted by petitioner Gabuya. The failure of
11
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
respondent Layug to raise these matters therein precludes the re-litigation of the same
facts in a separate complaint. It has been ruled that when defendants are sued for
recovery of a tract of land they ought to have presented a counterclaim for the value of
the improvements thereon and the amount of damages suffered by them because the
claim for such improvements and indemnity is necessarily connected with the suit for the
restitution or recovery of land claimed to have been improved, and with the result of the
execution of the judgment awarding recovery. 3

On the basis of the foregoing, the questioned orders issued by respondent judge on 16
October 1991 and 11 March 1992 restraining the deputy sheriff from implementing the
writ of execution of the final judgment of this Court in G.R. No. 75364 were issued by
respondent judge with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The questioned orders of respondent judge


dated 16 October 1991 and 11 March 1992, as well as the proceedings in Civil Case No.
II-1408 now pending with the Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte, Br. 2, are
ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Respondent judge, or whoever may now be acting in his
behalf or assigned to the case, is directed to pursue immediately the implementation of
the writ of execution issued on 31 May 1989 to satisfy the judgment that has long
become final and executory. Costs against private respondent.

SO ORDERED.

12
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 73039 October 9, 1987 of lack of jurisdiction and, with a meritorious defense that the properties sought to be
PERFECTA CAVILI, PRIMITIVO CAVILI and QUIRINO CAVILI, petitioners, vs. HON. partitioned have already been the subject of a written partition agreement between the
TEODORO N. FLORENDO, Presiding Judge, Branch XXXVI, Regional Trial Court of direct heirs of the late Bernardo Cavili who are the predecessors of the parties in this
Negros Oriental, 7th Judicial Region, CLARITA CAVILI, ULPIANO CAVILI, case. In/an order dated April 23, 1980, the court granted said motion.
ESTRELLA CAVILI, PLACIDA CAVILI, ET AL., respondents.
The plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration of the order granting new trial and at the
This is a petition to review and set aside two orders of the then Court of First Instance of same time prayed that a writ of execution be issued but only in so far as defendant
Negros Oriental, namely: (1) the order dated October 11, 1985, disqualifying Perfects Perfecta Cavili was concerned.
Cavili dela Cruz as a witness in Civil Case No. 6880 entitled "Clarita Cavili, et al. v.
Perfecta Cavili, Quirino Cavili, and Primitivo Cavili" and (2) the order dated November In an order dated July 21, 1981, Judge Cipriano Vamenta of Branch III of the Court of
26, 1985, refusing to reconsider the previous orders of disqualification and resetting the First Instance of Negros Oriental to whom the case had been assigned after a re-raffle,
reception of evidence for the defendants to December 19 and 20, 1985 with a warning set aside the order of April 23, 1980 and directed the execution of the October 5, 1979
that should defendants' witnesses fail to appear in court on said date, they will be decision without qualification ruling that the petitioners' remedy should have been appeal
deemed to have waived their right to be witnesses in this case. rather than new trial.

The private respondents filed Civil Case No. 6880 with the Court of First Instance of Their motion for reconsideration having been denied on August 11, 1981, the defendants,
Negros Oriental against herein petitioners for Partition, Accounting, and Damages. After now petitioners, brought the case to this Court through a petition for certiorari, G.R. No.
the case was raffled to Branch I presided over by Judge Augusto S. Villarin, summons 57771, entitled "Quirino Cavili, et al., Petitioners vs. Hon. Cipriano Vamenta, et al.,
was issued to the three petitioners, all at Bayawan Negros Oriental which was the Respondents "
address indicated in the complaint.
On May 31, 1982, this Court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
After trying to effect service, the process server went back to the court with the following
return of service to Quirino and Primitivo Cavili not contacted, according to Perfecta WHEREFORE, Our resolution dismissing the petition is hereby
Cavili, subject persons is (sic) staying in Kabangkalan, Negros Occidental." reconsidered; the petition is granted; and the order dated July 21, 1981,
is set aside while that of April 23, 1980, is revived. (No special
Meanwhile, Atty. Jose P. Alamino filed a motion for extension to answer in behalf of the pronouncement as to costs. Rollo p. 21)
defendants, manifesting the representation of his client Perfecta Cavili that she will
inform her brothers Primitivo and Quirino about the case. Thereafter, the pre-trial and trial of Civil Case No. 6880 was scheduled on October 9, 10,
and 11, 1985 before Branch XXXVI of the Regional Trial Court, presided by respondent
The defendants, however, failed to file their answer within the request period and upon Judge Teodoro N. Florendo. The defendants, (now petitioners), presented Perfects Cavili
motion of the plaintiffs, the defendants were declared in default, and on October 5, 1979, dela Cruz as their first witness. The respondents, through counsel moved for her
a judgment by default was promulgated by Judge Augusto S. Villarin. disqualification as a witness on the ground that having been declared in default, Perfects
Cavili has lost her standing in court and she cannot be allowed to participate in all
The records of the case, however, show that a Manifestation was filed by Atty. Jose P. premise the even as a witness. The court, through the respondent judge, sustained the
Alamino informing the court that since he never met Primitivo and Quirino Cavili, who are respondents' contention and disqualified her from testifying.
residents of another province, he desisted from further appearing in the case in their
behalf. The petitioners, through counsel, moved for a reconsideration of the ruling.

On November 7, 1979, Atty. Jose P. Alamillo received a copy of the decision. On


December 7, 1979, he filed a motion for new trial in behalf of the defendants on grounds

13
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
On November 26, 1985, the lower court issued an order denying reconsideration of its Construction, Fourth Edition, Vol. 2A, p. 90) The Rules should not be interpreted to
Order dated October 11, 1985 disqualifying Perfecta Cavili dela Cruz as a witness in Civil include an exception not embodied therein.
Case No. 6880.
The respondents, however, cite Section 2, Rule 18 on Defaults, to wit:
Hence, this petition.
Section 2. Effect of order of default. Except as provided in section 9 of Rule 13, a
Petitioner Perfecta Cavili's competence as a witness is put in issue by the private party declared in default shall not be entitled to notice of subsequent proceedings nor to
respondents. take part in the trial.

Section 18, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court states who are qualified to be They advance the argument that to allow Perfecta Cavili to stand as witness would be to
witnesses. It provides: permit a party in default "to take part in the trial."

Section 18. Witnesses; their qualifications. Except as provided in the next succeeding An explanation of the Rule is in order.
section, all persons who, having organs of sense, can perceive, and perceiving, can
make known their perception to others, may be witnesses. Neither parties nor other Loss of standing in court is the consequence of an order of default. Thus, a party
persons interested in the outcome of a case shall be excluded; nor those who have been declared in default is considered out of court and cannot appear therein, adduce
convicted of crime; nor any person on account of his opinion on matters of religious evidence, and be heard and for that reason he is not entitled to notice. (Rule 18, Rules of
belief. Court; Lim Toco v. Go Fay, 80 Phil. 166) However, "loss of pending" must be understood
to mean only the forfeiture of one's rights as a party litigant, contestant or legal
The generosity with which the Rule allows people to testify is apparent. Interest in the adversary. A party in default loses his right to present his defense, control the
outcome of a case, conviction of a crime unless otherwise provided by law, and religious proceedings, and examine or cross-examine witnesses. He has no right to expect that
belief are not grounds for disqualification. his pleadings would be acted upon by the court nor may he object to or refute evidence
or motions filed against him. There is nothing in the rule, however, which contemplates a
Sections 19 and 20 of Rule 130 provide for specific disqualifications. Section 19 disqualification to be a witness or a opponent in a case. Default does not make him an
disqualifies those who are mentally incapacitated and children whose tender age or incompetent.
immaturity renders them incapable of being witnesses. Section 20 provides for
disqualification based on conflicts of interest or on relationship. Section 21 provides for As opposed to a party litigant, a witness is merely a beholder, a spectator or onlooker,
disqualifications based on privileged communications. Section 15 of Rule 132 may not be called upon to testify to what he has seen, heard, or observed. As such, he takes no
a rule on disqualification of witnesses but it states the grounds when a witness may be active part in the contest of rights between the parties. Cast in the cited role of witness, a
impeached by the party against whom he was called. party in default cannot be considered as " a part in the trial." He remains suffering the
effects of an order of default.
There is no provision of the Rules disqualifying parties declared in default from taking the
witness stand for non-disqualified parties. The law does not provide default as an A party in default may thus be cited as a witness by his co-defendants who have the
exception. The specific enumeration of disqualified witnesses excludes the operation of standing and the right to present evidence which the former may provide. The incidental
causes of disability other than those mentioned in the Rules. It is a maxim of recognized benefit giving the party in default the opportunity to present evidence which may
utility and merit in the construction of statutes that an express exception, exemption, or eventually redound to his advantage or bring about a desired result, through his co-
saving clause excludes other exceptions. (In Re Estate of Enriquez, 29 Phil. 167) As a defendants, is of minor consequence.
general rule, where there are express exceptions these comprise the only limitations on
the operation of a statute and no other exception will be implied. (Sutherland on Statutory Of greater concern or importance in allowing the presence of Perfecta Cavili as a witness
in the case at bar, is the preservation of the right of petitioners Quirino and Primitivo
14
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Cavili to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in their
behalf. To reject Perfects Cavili's presentation of testimonial evidence would be to treat
Primitivo and Quirino, as if they too were in default. There is no reason why the latter
should also be made to bear the consequences of Perfecta's omission. Moreover, we
cannot deprive Quirino and Primitivo of the only instrument of proof available to them, as
Perfecta alone has been in possession and administration of the claim.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The order of
the respondent court disqualifying. Perfects Cavili dela Cruz as a witness in Civil Case
No. 6880 is hereby SET ASIDE. The case is remanded to the court a quo for Wither
proceedings. The temporary restraining order issued on January 6, 1986 is LIFTED. SO
ORDERED.

15
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. L-22485 March 13, 1968 There is no question that it arises out of the same transaction which is the basis of the
CONSUELO V. CALO, doing business under the trade name CVC Lumber complaint in Civil Case No. IV-93062 and does not require the presence of third parties
Industries, assisted by MARCOS M. CALO, plaintiffs-appellants, vs. AJAX over whom the municipal court of Manila could not acquire jurisdiction.
INTERNATIONAL, INCORPORATED, defendant-appellee.
However, plaintiff's claim is not a compulsory counterclaim in Civil Case No. IV-
Sometime on May 7, 1959, plaintiff-appellant Calo ordered from defendant-appellee 93062 for the simple reason that the amount thereof exceeds the jurisdiction of the
Ajax International, Inc., 1,200 ft. of John Shaw wire rope at P2.85 per foot. The municipal court. The rule that a compulsory counterclaim not set up is barred, when
transaction was evidenced by Charge Order No. 37071, for P3,420.00. applied to the municipal court, presupposes that the amount involved is within the said
court's jurisdiction. Otherwise, as this Court had already noted in Yu Lay v. Galmes 3 we
According to plaintiff Calo, when the wire rope was delivered to Butuan City, the would come to the absurd situation where a claim must be filed with the municipal court
same was found short of 300 ft. Plaintiff then wrote two letters to defendant asking for which it is prohibited from taking cognizance of, being beyond its jurisdiction.
either completion of delivery or account adjustment of the alleged undelivered 300 ft. of
wire rope. Besides, the reason underlying the rule, which is to settle all related controversies
in one sitting only, does not obtain. For, even if the counterclaim in excess of the amount
On November 20, 1961, a complaint docketed as Civil Case No. IV-93062 was cognizable by the inferior court is set up, the defendant cannot obtain positive relief. The
filed in the Municipal Court of Manila by one Adolfo Benavides who claimed to have Rules allow this only for the defendant to prevent plaintiff from recovering from him. 4 This
acquired the outstanding credit account of Calo from defendant Ajax International, Inc. means that should the court find both plaintiff's complaint and defendant's counterclaim
Charge Order No. 37071 was among those included in the assigned account. (for an amount exceeding said court's jurisdiction) meritorious, it will simply dismiss the
Subsequently, a judgment by default was entered, and a writ of execution issued, against complaint on the ground that defendant has a bigger credit. Since defendant still has to
plaintiff Calo. The latter resorted to this Court on a petition for certiorari, prohibition institute a separate action for the remaining balance of his counterclaim, the previous
and mandamus.1 We set aside the judgment of default and writ of execution issued litigation did not really settle all related controversies.
against plaintiff Calo and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Plaintiff Calo's claim of P12,000.00 not being a compulsory counterclaim in Civil
On January 23, 1962, plaintiff Calo, assisted by her husband, Marcos Calo, filed in Case No. VI-93062, it need not be filed there. The pendency then of said civil case could
the Court of First Instance of Agusan a complaint against defendant asking (1) that the not be pleaded in abatement of Civil Case No. 860. Consequently, the lower court erred
latter either effect complete delivery of Charge Order No. 37071 or that she be relieved in dismissing plaintiff's complaint.
from paying P855.00 and (2) that the latter indemnify her for P12,000 as attorney's fees,
damages and expenses of litigation.2 The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 860. WHEREFORE, the order of dismissal appealed from is hereby reversed and the
case remanded for further proceedings. Costs against appellee Ajax International, Inc.
Instead of filing an answer, defendant moved for the dismissal of Civil Case 860 on So ordered.
the ground, inter alia, that the subject thereof was involved and intimately related to that
in Civil Case No. IV-93062 of the Municipal Court of Manila. The court a quo sustained
the motion and dismissed the case.

Plaintiff-appellant moved for reconsideration and new trial. When this failed, she
instituted the present appeal.1wph1.t

The dismissal of Civil Case No. 860 by the court a quo because of the pendency of
Civil Case No. IV-93062 in the municipal court of Manila is predicated on the supposition
that plaintiff's claim is a compulsory counter-claim that should be filed in the latter case.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. L-53880 March 17, 1994 The plaintiff thereupon filed a motion to declare the defendants in default, which the court
ENRICO L. PACETE, CLARITA DE LA CONCEPCION, EMELDA C. PACETE, forthwith granted. The plaintiff was then directed to present her evidence. 2 The court
EVELINA C. PACETE and EDUARDO C. PACETE, petitioners, vs. HON. GLICERIO V. received plaintiff's evidence during the hearings held on 15, 20, 21 and 22 February 1980.
CARRIAGA, JR. and CONCEPCION (CONCHITA) ALANIS PACETE, respondents.
On 17 March 1980, the court 3 promulgated the herein questioned decision, disposing of the
The issue in this petition for certiorari is whether or not the Court of First Instance (now case, thus
Regional Trial Court) of Cotabato, Branch I, in Cotabato City, gravely abused its
discretion in denying petitioners' motion for extension of time to file their answer in Civil WHEREFORE, order is hereby issued ordering:
Case No. 2518, in declaring petitioners in default and in rendering its decision of 17
March 1980 which, among other things, decreed the legal separation of petitioner Enrico 1. The issuance of a Decree of Legal Separation of the marriage between, the
L. Pacete and private respondent Concepcion Alanis and held to be null and void ab plaintiff, Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and the herein defendants, Enrico
initio the marriage of Enrico L. Pacete to Clarita de la Concepcion. L. Pacete, in accordance with the Philippine laws and with consequences, as
provided for by our laws;
On 29 October 1979, Concepcion Alanis filed with the court below a complaint for the
declaration of nullity of the marriage between her erstwhile husband Enrico L. Pacete 2. That the following properties are hereby declared as the conjugal properties of
and one Clarita de la Concepcion, as well as for legal separation (between Alanis and the partnership of the plaintiff, Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and the
Pacete), accounting and separation of property. In her complaint, she averred that she defendant, Enrico L. Pacete, half and half, to wit:
was married to Pacete on 30 April 1938 before the Justice of the Peace of Cotabato,
Cotabato; that they had a child named Consuelo who was born on 11 March 1943; that 1. The parcel of land covered by TCT No. V-815 which is a parcel of land situated
Pacete subsequently contracted (in 1948) a second marriage with Clarita de la in the barrio of Langcong, Municipality of Matanog (previously of Parang),
Concepcion in Kidapawan, North Cotabato; that she learned of such marriage only on 01 province of Maguindanao (previously of Cotabato province) with an area of
August 1979; that during her marriage to Pacete, the latter acquired vast property 45,265 square meters registered in the name of Enrico Pacete, Filipino, of legal
consisting of large tracts of land, fishponds and several motor vehicles; that he age, married to Conchita Alanis as shown in Exhibits "B" and "B-1" for the
fraudulently placed the several pieces of property either in his name and Clarita or in the plaintiff.
names of his children with Clarita and other "dummies;" that Pacete ignored overtures for
an amicable settlement; and that reconciliation between her and Pacete was impossible 2. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-20442, with an
since he evidently preferred to continue living with Clarita. area of 538 square meters and covered by Tax Declaration No. 2650 (74) in the
name of Enrico Pacete, situated in the Poblacion of Kidapawan, North Cotabato,
The defendants were each served with summons on 15 November 1979. They filed a together with all its improvements, which parcel of land, as shown by Exhibits "K-
motion for an extension of twenty (20) days from 30 November 1979 within which to file 1" was acquired by way of absolute deed of sale executed by Amrosio Mondog
an answer. The court granted the motion. On 18 December 1979, appearing through a on January 14, 1965.
new counsel, the defendants filed a second motion for an extension of another thirty (30)
days from 20 December 1979. On 07 January 1980, the lower court granted the motion 3. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-20424 and
but only for twenty (20) days to be counted from 20 December 1979 or until 09 January covered by Tax Declaration No. 803 (74), with an area of 5.1670 hectares, more
1980. The Order of the court was mailed to defendants' counsel on 11 January 1980. or less, as shown by Exhibit "R", the same was registered in the name of Enrico
Likely still unaware of the court order, the defendants, on 05 February 1980, again filed Pacete and the same was acquired by Enrico Pacete last February 17, 1967
another motion (dated 18 January 1980) for an extension of "fifteen (15) days counted from Ambag Ampoy, as shown by Exhibit "R-1", situated at Musan, Kidapawan,
from the expiration of the 30-day period previously sought" within which to file an answer. North Cotabato.
The following day, or on 06 February 1980, the court denied this last motion on the
ground that it was "filed after the original period given . . . as first extension had
expired." 1
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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
4. A parcel of land situated at Lanao, Kidapawan, North Cotabato, with an area of 3. Ordering the Cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No. P-34243 covering
5.0567 hectares, covered by Tax Declaration No. 4332 (74), as shown by Exhibit Lot No. 1066, issued in the name of Evelina Pacete, situated at Kiab, Matalam,
"S", and registered in the name of Enrico Pacete. North Cotabato, and ordering the registration of the same in the joint name of
Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and Enrico L. Pacete as their conjugal
5. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-9750, situated at property, with address on the part of Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete at
Lika, Mlang, North Cotabato, with an area of 4.9841 hectares and the same is Parang, Maguindanao and on the part of Enrico L. Pacete at Kidapawan, North
covered by Tax Declaration No. 803 (74) and registered in the name of Enrico Cotabato.
Pacete and which land was acquired by Enrico Pacete from Salvador Pacete on
September 24, 1962, as shown by Exhibit "Q-1". 4. Ordering likewise the cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No. V-20101,
covering Lot No. 77, in the name of Eduardo C. Pacete, situated at New Lawaan,
6. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-9944, with an Mlang, North Cotabato, and the issuance of a new Transfer Certificate of Title in
area of 9.9566 and also covered by Tax Declaration No. 8608 (74) and registered the joint name of (half and half) Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and Enrico
in the name of the defendant Enrico L. Pacete which Enrico L. Pacete acquired L. Pacete.
from Sancho Balingcos last October 22, 1962, as shown by Exhibit "L-1" and
which parcel of land is situated at (Kialab), Kiab, Matalam, North Cotabato. 5. Ordering likewise the cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No. P-29890,
covering Lot 1068, situated at Kiab, Matalam, North Cotabato, with an area of
7. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-9227, situated at 12.1031 hectares, in the name of Emelda C. Pacete and the issuance of a new
Kiab, Matalam, North Cotabato, with an area of 12.04339 hectares, more or less, Transfer Certificate of Title in the joint name (half and half) of Concepcion
and also covered by Tax Declaration No. 8607 (74) both in the name of the (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and Enrico L. Pacete; and declaring that the fishpond
defendant Enrico L. Pacete which he acquired last October 15, 1962 from Minda situated at Barrio Tumanan, Bislig, Surigao Del Sur, with an area of 48 hectares
Bernardino, as shown by Exhibit "M-1". and covered by Fishpond Lease Agreement of Emelda C. Pacete, dated July 29,
1977 be cancelled and in lieu thereof, the joint name of Concepcion (Conchita)
8. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-9228, situated at Alanis Pacete and her husband, Enrico L. Pacete, be registered as their joint
Kiab, Matalam, North Cotabato, with an area of 10.8908 hectares, registered in property, including the 50 hectares fishpond situated in the same place, Barrio
the name of Enrico Pacete and also covered by Tax Declaration No. 5781 (74) in Timanan, Bislig, Surigao del Sur.
the name of Enrico Pacete and which parcel of land he acquired last September
25, 1962 from Conchita dela Torre, as shown by Exhibit "P-1". 6. Ordering the following motor vehicles to be the joint properties of the conjugal
partnership of Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and Enrico L. Pacete, viz:
9. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-10301, situated
at Linao, Matalam, North Cotabato, with an area of 7.2547 hectares, registered in a. Motor vehicle with Plate No. T-RG-783; Make, Dodge; Motor No. T137-20561;
the name of Enrico Pacete and also covered by Tax Declaration No. 8716 (74) Chassis No. 83920393, and Type, Mcarrier;
also in the name of Enrico Pacete which Enrico Pacete acquired from Agustin
Bijo last July 16, 1963, as shown by Exhibit "N-1". b. Motor vehicle with Plate No. T-RG-784; Make, Dodge; Motor No. T214-
229547; Chassis No. 10D-1302-C; and Type, Mcarrier;
10. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 12728 in the
name of the defendant, Enrico L. Pacete, with an area of 10.9006 hectares, c. Motor vehicle with Plate No. J-PR-818; Make, Ford; Motor No. GRW-116188;
situated at Linao, Matalam, North Cotabato and is also covered by Tax Chassis No. HOCC-GPW-1161-88-C; Type, Jeep;
Declaration No. 5745 (74) in the name of Enrico Pacete, as shown on Exhibit "O"
and which Enrico Pacete acquired last December 31, 1963 from Eliseo Pugni, as d. Motor vehicle with Plate No. TH-5J-583; Make, Ford: Motor No. F70MU5-
shown on Exhibit "0-1". 11111; Chassis No. HOCC-GPW-1161188-G; Type, Stake;

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
e. Motor vehicle with Plate No. TH-5J-584; Make, Hino; Motor No. ED300-45758; Article 101 reflects the public policy on marriages, and it should easily explain the
Chassis No. KB222-22044; Type, Stake; and mandatory tenor of the law. In Brown v. Yambao, 10 the Court has observed:

f. Motor vehicle with Plate No. TH-5J-585; Make, Ford: Motor No. LTC-780-Dv; The policy of Article 101 of the new Civil Code, calling for the intervention of the
Chassis No. 10F-13582-K; Type, Stake. state attorneys in case of uncontested proceedings for legal separation (and of
annulment of marriages, under Article 88), is to emphasize that marriage is more
7. Ordering the defendant Enrico L. Pacete to pay the plaintiff the sum of than a mere contract; that it is a social institution in which the state is vitally
P46,950.00 which is the share of the plaintiff in the unaccounted income of the interested, so that its continuation or interruption can not be made to depend
ricemill and corn sheller for three years from 1971 to 1973. upon the parties themselves (Civil Code, Article 52; Adong vs. Cheong Gee, 43
Phil. 43; Ramirez v. Gmur, 42 Phil. 855; Goitia v. Campos, 35 Phil. 252). It is
8. Ordering the defendant, Enrico L. Pacete, to reimburse the plaintiff the consonant with this policy that the inquiry by the Fiscal should be allowed to
monetary equipment of 30% of whether the plaintiff has recovered as attorney's focus upon any relevant matter that may indicate whether the proceedings for
fees; separation or annulment are fully justified or not.

9. Declaring the subsequent marriage between defendant Enrico L. Pacete and Article 103 of the Civil Code, now Article 58 of the Family Code, further mandates that an
Clarita de la Concepcion to be void ab initio; and action for legal separation must "in no case be tried before six months shall have
elapsed since the filing of the petition," obviously in order to provide the parties a
10. Ordering the defendants to pay the costs of this suit. 4 "cooling-off" period. In this interim, the court should take steps toward getting the parties
to reconcile.
Hence, the instant special civil action of certiorari.
The significance of the above substantive provisions of the law is further underscored by
Under ordinary circumstances, the petition would have outrightly been dismissed, for, as the inclusion of the following provision in Rule 18 of the Rules of Court:
also pointed out by private respondents, the proper remedy of petitioners should have
instead been either to appeal from the judgment by default or to file a petition for relief Sec. 6. No defaults in actions for annulments of marriage or for legal separation.
from judgment. 5 This rule, however, is not inflexible; a petition for certiorari is allowed when If the defendant in an action for annulment of marriage or for legal separation
the default order is improperly declared, or even when it is properly declared, where grave fails to answer, the court shall order the prosecuting attorney to investigate
abuse of discretion attended such declaration. 6 In these exceptional instances, the special whether or not a collusion between the parties exists, and if there is no collusion,
civil action of certiorari to declare the nullity of a judgment by default is available. 7 In the case to intervene for the State in order to see to it that the evidence submitted is not
at bench, the default order unquestionably is not legally sanctioned. The Civil Code provides: fabricated.

Art. 101. No decree of legal separation shall be promulgated upon a stipulation of The special prescriptions on actions that can put the integrity of marriage to possible
facts or by confession of judgment. jeopardy are impelled by no less than the State's interest in the marriage relation and its
avowed intention not to leave the matter within the exclusive domain and the vagaries of
In case of non-appearance of the defendant, the court shall order the prosecuting the parties to alone dictate.
attorney to inquire whether or not a collusion between the parties exists. If there
is no collusion, the prosecuting attorney shall intervene for the State in order to It is clear that the petitioner did, in fact, specifically pray for legal separation. 11 That other
take care that the evidence for the plaintiff is not fabricated. remedies, whether principal or incidental, have likewise been sought in the same action
cannot dispense, nor excuse compliance, with any of the statutory requirements aforequoted.
The provision has been taken from Article 30 of the California Civil Code, 8 and it is, in
substance, reproduced in Article 60 of the Family Code. 9

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby GRANTED and the proceedings
below, including the Decision of 17 March 1980 appealed from, are NULLIFIED and SET
ASIDE. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 101789. April 28, 1993. On April 29, 1991, Bhagwan Ramnani filed a petition for certiorari before the respondent
BHAGWAN RAMNANI, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. BUENAVENTURA Court of Appeals imputing error to the trial court:
J. GUERRERO, as Regional Trial Court Judge of Makati, Metro Manila, Branch 133,
SPOUSES CENON G. DIZON and JULIETTE B. DIZON, respondents. (1) in denying the motion to lift order declaring petitioner as in default despite a clear
showing of a meritorious defense;
On March 13, 1990, the spouses Juliette Dizon and Cenen Dizon filed a complaint in the
Regional Trial Court of Makati against the spouses Josephine Anne Ramnani and (2) in not considering petitioner's reason for failure to attend pre-trial as excusable
Bhagwan Ramnani for the collection of a sum of money representing the alleged neglect.
unremitted value of jewelry received by Josephine from Juliette on consignment basis.
In a decision dated May 10, 1991, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition, holding
Josephine Ramnani submitted an answer with counterclaim 2 in which she alleged inter that certiorari was not the proper remedy. 9
alia:
The respondent court said:
(a) That although she did receive pieces of jewelry worth P934,347.00 from Dizon, the
latter had likewise received from her jewelries worth P1,671,842,00, including cash and Petitioners alleged that the respondent court erred and committed grave abuse of
unpaid checks in the amount of P159,742.50; discretion and/or acted in excess of jurisdiction in assigning its Branch Clerk of Court as
the hearing commissioner for the purpose of the ex parte reception of plaintiffs' evidence
(b) That she paid Dizon P50,000; and (par. 19, Petition); that the questioned Decision failed to specify whether defendants are
solidarily or only jointly liable (par. 20, Petition); and that petitioner had a valid and
(c) That Dizon still owes her P787,495.00; meritorious defense (par. 21, Petition). These are matters that could very well be
ventilated in an ordinary appeal. It should be stressed that the writ of certiorari issues for
The trial court set the case for pre-trial on August 14, 1990, 3 but the Ramnanis did not the correction of errors of jurisdiction only or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
appear. Consequently, they were declared in default. 4 On September 12, 1990, they or excess of jurisdiction. It cannot be legally used for any other purpose (Silverio vs.
filed a motion to lift the order of default, but this was denied on November 20, 1990. Court of Appeals, 141 SCRA 527). Mere error of judgment cannot be a proper subject of
the special civil action for certiorari (Zapata vs. NLRC, 175 SCRA 56). Further, it is a
On October 26, 1990, conformably to the default order, evidence of the Dizon spouses settled rule that certiorari cannot be made a substitute for an perform the function of an
was received ex parte. On January 28, 1991, Judge Buenaventura J. Guerrero rendered appeal (People vs. Cuaresma, 172 SCRA 415).
judgment against the Ramnanis, holding them liable to the plaintiffs in the amounts of
P884,347.00, representing the principal obligation plus legal interest thereon from March The petitioner has come to this Court to challenge that decision. He avers that the Court
13, 1990, until fully paid; P100,000.00 as moral damages; and P20,000.00 as exemplary of Appeals erred in upholding the refusal of the trial court to set aside the order of default
damages. They were also required to pay P50,000.00 as attorney's fees, and the costs and the default judgment thereafter issued.
of the suit.
The basic rule is found in Section 2, Rule 20, viz: "A party who fails to appear at a pre-
The Ramnanis filed a motion for reconsideration on the ground that a "personal trial conference may be non-suited or considered as in default."
obligation contracted by the wife without the consent of the husband (was) being made
enforceable against the spouses' conjugal partnership despite absence of any allegation As held in Lina v. Court of Appeals, 10 the remedies available to a defendant in the
and proof that the same redounded to the benefit of the family as required by Article 121 regional trial court who has been declared in default are:
of the Family Code." 7 The motion was denied on April 11, 1991.
a) The defendant in default may, at any time after discovery thereof and before judgment,
file a motion, under oath, to set aside the order of default on the ground that his failure to
21
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
answer was due to fraud, accident, mistake or excusable neglect, and that he has a The petitioner insists, however, that they had a meritorious defense which the trial court
meritorious defense; (Sec. 3, Rule 18) should not have disregarded. A meritorious defense is only one of the two conditions.
Even if it be assumed for the sake of argument that the private respondents did owe
b) If the judgment has already been rendered when the defendant discovered the default, Josephine Ramnani P900,000, as alleged in the counterclaim, that circumstance alone is
but before the same has become final and executory, he may file a motion for new trial not sufficient to justify the lifting of the order of default and the default judgment. The
under Section 1(a) of Rule 37; obvious reason is that a meritorious defense must concur with the satisfactory reason for
the non-appearance of the defaulted party. There is no such reason in this case.
c) If the defendant discovered the default after the judgment has become final and
executory, he may file a petition for relief under Section 2 of Rule 38; and The appropriate remedy is an ordinary appeal under Section 2 of Rule 41 of the Rules of
Court providing in part as follows:
d) He may also appeal from the judgment rendered against him as contrary to the
evidence or to the law, even if no petition to set aside the order of default has been A party who has been declared in default may likewise appeal from the judgment
presented by him. (Sec. 2, Rule 41) rendered against him as contrary to the evidence or to the law, even if no petition for
relief to set aside the order of default has been presented by him in accordance with
The first remedy was adopted by the petitioner but his motion to lift the order of default Rule 38.
was denied. According to the trial court:
In questioning the dismissal of its petition by the respondent court, the petitioner invokes
Defendants' non-appearance is inexcusable. It is unbelievable their former lawyer did not the case of Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation v. Hontanosas, 11 where the
explain to them the mandatory character of their appearance. Their invocation of the Court sustained the challenge to an order of default in a petition for certiorari rather than
deteriorating health of defendant Josephine necessitating her trip abroad for appropriate in an ordinary appeal, which was held as not an adequate remedy.
medical treatment, is unavailing. There is no medical certificate to attest such illness.
Besides, at the time of the hearing of the motion on October 19, 1990, counsel for the That case is not applicable to the present petition. Certiorari was allowed in that case
defendants admitted that Josephine had not yet arrived from the States, despite their because the petitioner was illegally declared in default. The Court held that, first, the
averment in their motion she would "only be back late September or early October of this petitioner could not be compelled to attend an unnecessary second pre-trial after it had
year." This only indicates her light regard of her duty to appear in court. Moreover, the indicated at the earlier pre-trial that there was no possibility of an amicable settlement;
other defendant Bhagwan Ramnani did not submit any other plausible explanation for his second, the pre-trial was premature because the last pleading had not yet been filed at
absence in the pre-trial. the time; and third, there was insufficient notice of the pre-trial to the petitioner. In the
case at bar, no such irregularities in the pre-trial have been alleged by the petitioner.
A satisfactory showing by the movant of the existence of fraud, accident, mistake or
excusable neglect is an indispensable requirement for the setting aside of a judgment of As we held in Pure Foods Corporation v. NLRC:
default or the order of default. After going over the pleadings of the parties and the
decision of the respondent court, we find that the motion to lift the order of default was It must emphatically be reiterated, since so often is it overlooked, that the special civil
properly denied for non-compliance with this requirement. action for certiorari is a remedy designed for the correction of errors of jurisdiction and
not errors of judgment. The reason for the rule is simple. When a court exercises its
The defendants were less than conscientious in defending themselves and protecting jurisdiction, an error committed while so engaged does not deprive it of the jurisdiction
their rights before the trial court. They did not pay proper attention and respect to its being exercised when the error is committed. If it did, every error committed by a court
directive. The petitioner has not shown that his and his wife's failure to attend the pre-trial would deprive it of its jurisdiction and every erroneous judgment would be a void
hearing as required was due to excusable neglect, much less to fraud, accident or judgment. This cannot be allowed. The administration of justice would not survive such a
mistake. rule. Consequently, an error of judgment that the court may commit in the exercise of its
jurisdiction is not correctible through the original civil action of certiorari.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Even on the supposition that certiorari was an appropriate remedy, the petition would still
fail because it has not been clearly shown that the trial court committed grave abuse of
discretion in refusing to set aside the default order and the default judgment. We have
held in many cases, including Pahilanga v. Luna, 13 that:

It is within the sound discretion of the court to set aside an order of default and to permit
a defendant to file his answer and to be heard on the merits even after the reglementary
period for the filing of the answer has expired, but it is not error, or an abuse of
discretion, on the part of the court to refuse to set aside its order of default and to refuse
to accept the answer where it finds no justifiable reason for the delay in the filing of the
answer. In motions for reconsideration of an order of default, the moving party has the
burden of showing such diligence as would justify his being excused from not filing the
answer within the reglementary period as provided by the Rules of Court, otherwise,
these guidelines for an orderly and expeditious procedure would be rendered
meaningless. Unless it is shown clearly that a party has justifiable reason for the delay
the court will not ordinarily exercise its discretion in his favor.

The above doctrine is applicable to the inexcusable neglect of the herein petitioner and
his wife to appear at the pre-trial hearing duly scheduled and of which they were properly
notified.

We must, however, moderate the award of damages by the trial court as we feel it is
rather harsh upon the petitioner. In the exercise of our discretion, we hereby reduce the
moral damages to P20,000.00 and the attorney's fees to P10,000.00, and disallow the
exemplary damages. The rest of the award is approved.

WHEREFORE, the challenged decision is AFFIRMED as above modified, with costs


against the petitioner. It is so ordered.

23
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 87617 April 6, 1990 P350,000.00, damage to his law practice of not less than P25,000.00, attorney's fees of
JOE HODGES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HEIRS OF LEON P. GELLADA, P35,000.00, and exemplary damages as well as temperate damages. A similar special
plaintiff-appellee in Civil Case No. 6512, ROMEO MEDIODIA, plaintiff-appellant in appearance for the defendant questioning the jurisdiction on the subject matter of the
Civil C court and the mode of extrajudicial service of summons dated June 25, 1964 and
pointing out that the court cannot acquire jurisdiction over the case as the plaintiff
What is the legal effect of the non-payment of the docket fees even before the claimed damages of P410,000.00 but he paid a docket fee of only P32.00 when it should
promulgation of Manchester Development Corporation vs. Court of appeals? This is the
1 not be less than P670.00. After an answer, an amended answer and a reply thereto was
decisive issue in this petition. filed, the amended answer were admitted by the trial court.

On April 7, 1964 Leon P. Gellada, a practicing lawyer, filed an action for damages against On August 31, 1972, these three cases were ordered consolidated by the trial court. On
Joe Hodges in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo City, wherein plaintiff claimed damages the same date another order was issued directing the plaintiffs to pay the docket fee
against defendant for some alleged defamatory statements of defendant against plaintiff commensurate to their respective demands. This was reiterated in another order dated
and his associates thus entitling him to moral damages of P400,000.00, damage to his March 11, 1982.
law practice of P30,000.00, attorney's fees of P30,000.00, and exemplary damages as
well as temperate damages. A special appearance questioning the jurisdiction of the On March 16, 1982 plaintiff Gellada paid the amount of P168.00 bringing his total
court on the subject matter and the mode of extrajudicial service of summons dated June payment of docket fees to P200.00. On September 5, 1972 plaintiff Mediodia paid
24, 1964 was filed by defendant. The defendant pointed out that the court cannot acquire P168.00 so he had paid a total of P200.00 for docket fees. Plaintiff Mirasol failed to
jurisdiction over the case unless the corresponding docket fee is paid. The defendant comply with the said orders.
maintained that considering the amount of damages claimed by the plaintiff, the docket
fee to be paid should be no less than P770.00 which is way beyond the P32.00 docket Plaintiff Gellada died on February 4, 1974 so an order was issued for the substitution of
fee paid by plaintiff. his heirs. Plaintiff Mirasol also died on March 29, 1979, so another order was issued by
the trial court for the substitution of his heirs.
An answer, amended answer and a reply thereto were filed. The amended answer was
admitted. After trial on the merits, a judgment was rendered by the trial court on February 18, 1988,
the dispositive part of which reads as follows:
On March 31, 1964, Romeo H. Mediodia, also a practicing lawyer, filed in the same court
a similar action for damages against Joe Hodges for alleged defamatory statements of WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the defendant Joe Hodges
defendant against plaintiff, wherein plaintiff claimed for moral damages of not less than
P300,000.00, damage to his law practice of not less than P20,000.00, attorney's fee of
P40,000.00 and exemplary damages as well as temperate damages. A special In Civil Case No. 6512, to pay the heirs of plaintiff Leon Gellada, the sums of
appearance questioning the jurisdiction over the subject matter and the mode of P50,000.00 and P10,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages, respectively;
extrajudicial service of summons dated June 25, 1964 was also filed by defendant P20,000.00 for and as attorney's fees and P10,000.00 as expenses of litigation,
pointing that the court cannot acquire jurisdiction over the case when plaintiff claimed plus costs;
damages of P360,000.00 and he paid a docket fee of only P32.00 when it should not be
less than P570.00. After an answer, amended answer, and a reply thereto were filed, the In Civil Case No. 6513, to pay the plaintiff Romeo Mediodia the sums of
amended answer was admitted by the trial court. P50,000.00 and P10,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages, respectively;
P20,000.00 for and as attorney's fees and P10,000.00 as expenses of litigation,
On April 8, 1964, another complaint for damages was filed by Fernando P. Mirasol, plus costs; and
another practicing lawyer, against Joe Hodges, for alleged defamatory statements of
defendant against plaintiff, wherein plaintiff claimed moral damages of not less than

24
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
In Civil Case No. 6516, to pay the heirs of plaintiff Fernando Mirasol, with the In the present petition, it appellants that in the case of Gellada vs. Hodges the total
exception of Ferdinand Mirasol, the sums of P50,000.00 and P10,000.00 as amount of the claim for damages is about P460,000.00, the estimated docket fee due is
moral and exemplary damages, respectively; P20,000.00 for and as attorney's P770.00 but what was paid only was P32.00. Despite the order of the trial court on
fees and P10,000.00 as expenses of litigation, plus costs. 2
August 31, 1972 and another order ten years later, that is on March 11, 1982, requiring
plaintiff to pay the correct docket fee, Gellada paid the amount of P168.00 Thus his total
Not satisfied therewith, petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals, wherein in due payment amounts to just P200.00, which is still much less than the amount of P770.00
course a decision was rendered on October 28, 1988 affirming the decision appealed due.
from, with costs against petitioner. 3

Similarly in Mediodia vs. Hodges where the claim is approximately P360,000.00 and the
A motion for reconsideration of the said decision having been denied in a resolution of appropriate filing fee would be about P570.00, the plaintiff paid only P32.00 upon filing
March 8, 1989, the instant petition was then filed in this Court, wherein nine (9) errors are the complaint. After the two aforesaid order of the trial court were issued, Mediodia paid
alleged to have been committed by the appellate court. The Court finds it necessary to on September 5, 1982 the amount of P168.00 bringing his payment to a total of P200.00
dispose of the first assigned error on the question of non-payment of docket fees. which is also much less than the amount of P570.00 due for docket fee.

As early as Lazaro vs. Endencia, this Court held that an appeal is not deemed perfected
4 In the case of Mirasol vs. Hodges, the total claim is for P410,000.00 and the amount of
if the appellate court docket fee is not fully paid. In Lee vs. Republic, this Court ruled
5 filing fee due is P670.00. Mirasol paid only P32.00 upon filing the complaint. He did not
that a declaration of intention to be a Filipino citizen produced no legal effect until the pay any additional sum even after the two orders of the court had been issued.
required filing fee is paid. In Malimit vs. Degamo, We held that the date of payment of
6

the docket fee must be considered the real date of filing of a petition for quo No doubt, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter in said three
warranto and not the date it was mailed. In Magaspi vs. Ramolete, the well-settled rule
7
(3) cases due to the failure to pay in full the prescribed docket fee. Thus, the entire
was reiterated that a case is deemed filed only upon payment of the docket fee proceedings undertaken in said cases are null and void. The plaintiffs in said cases are
regardless of the actual date of its filing in court.
8
practicing lawyers who are expected to know this mandatory requirement in the filing of
any complaint or similar pleading. Their non-payment of the prescribed docket fee was
At the time, therefore, that the three (3) cases subject of the herein petition were filed, deliberate and inexcusable.
the rule was already clear that the court does not acquire jurisdiction over a case until
after the prescribed docket is paid. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The appealed decision of the Court of Appeals
dated October 28, 1988 and its resolution dated February 8, 1989 are hereby reversed
In Manchester, this rule was emphasized when this Court stated "The court acquires and set aside and another judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the complaints in said
jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the prescribed docket fee. An three (3) cases. No pronouncement as to costs.
amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction in the
court, much less the payment of the docket fee based on the amount sought in the SO ORDERED.
amended pleading. 9

The rule in Manchester was relaxed in Sun Insurance vs. Hon. Maximiano
Asuncion, whereby this Court declared that the trial court may allow payment of the fee
10

within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or


reglementary period. Nevertheless, in Sun Insurance, this Court reiterated the rule that it
is the payment of the prescribed docket fee that vests the court with Jurisdiction over the
subject matter of nature of the case. 11

25
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 75919 May 7, 1987 were treated as merely to the main cause of action. Thus, the docket fee of only P60.00
MANCHESTER DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET AL., petitioners, vs. COURT OF and P10.00 for the sheriff's fee were paid. 6
APPEALS, CITY LAND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, STEPHEN ROXAS,
ANDREW LUISON, GRACE LUISON and JOSE DE MAISIP, respondents. In the present case there can be no such honest difference of opinion. As maybe
gleaned from the allegations of the complaint as well as the designation thereof, it is both
Acting on the motion for reconsideration of the resolution of the Second Division of an action for damages and specific performance. The docket fee paid upon filing of
January 28,1987 and another motion to refer the case to and to be heard in oral complaint in the amount only of P410.00 by considering the action to be merely one for
argument by the Court En Banc filed by petitioners, the motion to refer the case to the specific performance where the amount involved is not capable of pecuniary estimation
Court en banc is granted but the motion to set the case for oral argument is denied. is obviously erroneous. Although the total amount of damages sought is not stated in the
prayer of the complaint yet it is spelled out in the body of the complaint totalling in the
Petitioners in support of their contention that the filing fee must be assessed on the basis amount of P78,750,000.00 which should be the basis of assessment of the filing fee.
of the amended complaint cite the case of Magaspi vs. Ramolete. 1 They contend that
the Court of Appeals erred in that the filing fee should be levied by considering the 4. When this under-re assessment of the filing fee in this case was brought to the
amount of damages sought in the original complaint. attention of this Court together with similar other cases an investigation was immediately
ordered by the Court. Meanwhile plaintiff through another counsel with leave of court
The environmental facts of said case differ from the present in that filed an amended complaint on September 12, 1985 for the inclusion of Philips Wire and
Cable Corporation as co-plaintiff and by emanating any mention of the amount of
1. The Magaspi case was an action for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel damages in the body of the complaint. The prayer in the original complaint was
of land with damages. 2While the present case is an action for torts and damages and maintained. After this Court issued an order on October 15, 1985 ordering the re-
specific performance with prayer for temporary restraining order, etc. 3 assessment of the docket fee in the present case and other cases that were investigated,
on November 12, 1985 the trial court directed plaintiffs to rectify the amended complaint
2. In the Magaspi case, the prayer in the complaint seeks not only the annulment of title by stating the amounts which they are asking for. It was only then that plaintiffs specified
of the defendant to the property, the declaration of ownership and delivery of possession the amount of damages in the body of the complaint in the reduced amount of
thereof to plaintiffs but also asks for the payment of actual moral, exemplary damages P10,000,000.00. 7 Still no amount of damages were specified in the prayer. Said amended
and attorney's fees arising therefrom in the amounts specified therein. 4However, in the complaint was admitted.
present case, the prayer is for the issuance of a writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction
during the pendency of the action against the defendants' announced forfeiture of the sum of On the other hand, in the Magaspi case, the trial court ordered the plaintiffs to pay the
P3 Million paid by the plaintiffs for the property in question, to attach such property of amount of P3,104.00 as filing fee covering the damages alleged in the original complaint
defendants that maybe sufficient to satisfy any judgment that maybe rendered, and after as it did not consider the damages to be merely an or incidental to the action for recovery
hearing, to order defendants to execute a contract of purchase and sale of the subject of ownership and possession of real property. 8 An amended complaint was filed by plaintiff
property and annul defendants' illegal forfeiture of the money of plaintiff, ordering defendants with leave of court to include the government of the Republic as defendant and reducing the
jointly and severally to pay plaintiff actual, compensatory and exemplary damages as well as amount of damages, and attorney's fees prayed for to P100,000.00. Said amended complaint
25% of said amounts as maybe proved during the trial as attorney's fees and declaring the was also admitted. 9
tender of payment of the purchase price of plaintiff valid and producing the effect of payment
and to make the injunction permanent. The amount of damages sought is not specified in the In the Magaspi case, the action was considered not only one for recovery of ownership
prayer although the body of the complaint alleges the total amount of over P78 Million as but also for damages, so that the filing fee for the damages should be the basis of
damages suffered by plaintiff. 5 assessment. Although the payment of the docketing fee of P60.00 was found to be
insufficient, nevertheless, it was held that since the payment was the result of an "honest
3. Upon the filing of the complaint there was an honest difference of opinion as to the difference of opinion as to the correct amount to be paid as docket fee" the court "had
nature of the action in the Magaspi case. The complaint was considered as primarily an acquired jurisdiction over the case and the proceedings thereafter had were proper and
action for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of land. The damages stated regular." 10 Hence, as the amended complaint superseded the original complaint, the
26
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
allegations of damages in the amended complaint should be the basis of the computation To put a stop to this irregularity, henceforth all complaints, petitions, answers and other
of the filing fee. 11 similar pleadings should specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the
body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the
In the present case no such honest difference of opinion was possible as the allegations assessment of the filing fees in any case. Any pleading that fails to comply with this
of the complaint, the designation and the prayer show clearly that it is an action for requirement shall not bib accepted nor admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from
damages and specific performance. The docketing fee should be assessed by the record.
considering the amount of damages as alleged in the original complaint.
The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the prescribed
As reiterated in the Magaspi case the rule is well-settled "that a case is deemed filed only docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest
upon payment of the docket fee regardless of the actual date of filing in court . 12 Thus, in jurisdiction in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based on the amounts
the present case the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by the payment sought in the amended pleading. The ruling in the Magaspi case 14 in so far as it is
of only P410.00 as docket fee. Neither can the amendment of the complaint thereby vest inconsistent with this pronouncement is overturned and reversed.
jurisdiction upon the Court. 13 For an legal purposes there is no such original complaint
that was duly filed which could be amended. Consequently, the order admitting the WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is denied for lack of merit.
amended complaint and all subsequent proceedings and actions taken by the trial court
are null and void. SO ORDERED.

The Court of Appeals therefore, aptly ruled in the present case that the basis of
assessment of the docket fee should be the amount of damages sought in the original
complaint and not in the amended complaint.

The Court cannot close this case without making the observation that it frowns at the
practice of counsel who filed the original complaint in this case of omitting any
specification of the amount of damages in the prayer although the amount of over P78
million is alleged in the body of the complaint. This is clearly intended for no other
purpose than to evade the payment of the correct filing fees if not to mislead the docket
clerk in the assessment of the filing fee. This fraudulent practice was compounded when,
even as this Court had taken cognizance of the anomaly and ordered an investigation,
petitioner through another counsel filed an amended complaint, deleting all mention of
the amount of damages being asked for in the body of the complaint. It was only when in
obedience to the order of this Court of October 18, 1985, the trial court directed that the
amount of damages be specified in the amended complaint, that petitioners' counsel
wrote the damages sought in the much reduced amount of P10,000,000.00 in the body
of the complaint but not in the prayer thereof. The design to avoid payment of the
required docket fee is obvious.

The Court serves warning that it will take drastic action upon a repetition of this unethical
practice.

27
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. Nos. 79937-38 February 13, 1989 On December 16, 1985, Judge Antonio P. Solano, to whose sala Civil Case No. Q-41177
SUN INSURANCE OFFICE, LTD., (SIOL), E.B. PHILIPPS and D.J. was temporarily assigned, issuedan order to the Clerk of Court instructing him to issue a
WARBY, petitioners, vs. HON. MAXIMIANO C. ASUNCION, Presiding Judge, Branch certificate of assessment of the docket fee paid by private respondent and, in case of
104, Regional Trial Court, Quezon City and MANUEL CHUA UY PO deficiency, to include the same in said certificate.
TIONG, respondents.
On January 7, 1984, to forestall a default, a cautionary answer was filed by petitioners.
Again the Court is asked to resolve the issue of whether or not a court acquires On August 30,1984, an amended complaint was filed by private respondent including the
jurisdiction over a case when the correct and proper docket fee has not been paid. two additional defendants aforestated.

On February 28, 1984, petitioner Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL for brevity) filed a Judge Maximiano C. Asuncion, to whom Civil Case No. Q41177 was thereafter assigned,
complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Metro Manila for the consignation of a after his assumption into office on January 16, 1986, issued a Supplemental Order
premium refund on a fire insurance policy with a prayer for the judicial declaration of its requiring the parties in the case to comment on the Clerk of Court's letter-report
nullity against private respondent Manuel Uy Po Tiong. Private respondent as declared in signifying her difficulty in complying with the Resolution of this Court of October 15, 1985
default for failure to file the required answer within the reglementary period. since the pleadings filed by private respondent did not indicate the exact amount sought
to be recovered. On January 23, 1986, private respondent filed a "Compliance" and a
On the other hand, on March 28, 1984, private respondent filed a complaint in the "Re-Amended Complaint" stating therein a claim of "not less than Pl0,000,000. 00 as
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for the refund of premiums and the issuance of a writ actual compensatory damages" in the prayer. In the body of the said second amended
of preliminary attachment which was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-41177, initially complaint however, private respondent alleges actual and compensatory damages and
against petitioner SIOL, and thereafter including E.B. Philipps and D.J. Warby as attorney's fees in the total amount of about P44,601,623.70.
additional defendants. The complaint sought, among others, the payment of actual,
compensatory, moral, exemplary and liquidated damages, attorney's fees, expenses of On January 24, 1986, Judge Asuncion issued another Order admitting the second
litigation and costs of the suit. Although the prayer in the complaint did not quantify the amended complaint and stating therein that the same constituted proper compliance with
amount of damages sought said amount may be inferred from the body of the complaint the Resolution of this Court and that a copy thereof should be furnished the Clerk of
to be about Fifty Million Pesos (P50,000,000.00). Court for the reassessment of the docket fees. The reassessment by the Clerk of Court
based on private respondent's claim of "not less than P10,000,000.00 as actual and
Only the amount of P210.00 was paid by private respondent as docket fee which compensatory damages" amounted to P39,786.00 as docket fee. This was subsequently
prompted petitioners' counsel to raise his objection. Said objection was disregarded by paid by private respondent.
respondent Judge Jose P. Castro who was then presiding over said case. Upon the order
of this Court, the records of said case together with twenty-two other cases assigned to Petitioners then filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals questioning the
different branches of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City which were under said order of Judie Asuncion dated January 24, 1986.
investigation for under-assessment of docket fees were transmitted to this Court. The
Court thereafter returned the said records to the trial court with the directive that they be On April 24, 1986, private respondent filed a supplemental complaint alleging an
re-raffled to the other judges in Quezon City, to the exclusion of Judge Castro. Civil Case additional claim of P20,000,000.00 as d.qmages so the total claim amounts to about
No. Q-41177 was re-raffled to Branch 104, a sala which was then vacant. P64,601,623.70. On October 16, 1986, or some seven months after filing the
supplemental complaint, the private respondent paid the additional docket fee of
On October 15, 1985, the Court en banc issued a Resolution in Administrative Case No. P80,396.00. 1
85-10-8752-RTC directing the judges in said cases to reassess the docket fees and that
in case of deficiency, to order its payment. The Resolution also requires all clerks of court On August 13, 1987, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision ruling, among others, as
to issue certificates of re-assessment of docket fees. All litigants were likewise required follows:
to specify in their pleadings the amount sought to be recovered in their complaints.

28
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: that the trial court acquired jurisdiction over the case even if the docket fee paid was
insufficient.
1. Denying due course to the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 1, 09715 insofar as it
seeks annulment of the order The contention that Manchester cannot apply retroactively to this case is untenable.
Statutes regulating the procedure of the courts will be construed as applicable to actions
(a) denying petitioners' motion to dismiss the complaint, as amended, and pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are
retrospective in that sense and to that extent. 6
(b) granting the writ of preliminary attachment, but giving due course to the
portion thereof questioning the reassessment of the docketing fee, and requiring In Lazaro vs. Endencia and Andres, 7 this Court held that the payment of the full amount of
the Honorable respondent Court to reassess the docketing fee to be paid by the docket fee is an indispensable step for the perfection of an appeal. In a forcible entry and
private respondent on the basis of the amount of P25,401,707.00. 2 detainer case before the justice of the peace court of Manaoag, Pangasinan, after notice of a
judgment dismissing the case, the plaintiff filed a notice of appeal with said court but he
deposited only P8.00 for the docket fee, instead of P16.00 as required, within the
Hence, the instant petition.
reglementary period of appeal of five (5) days after receiving notice of judgment. Plaintiff
deposited the additional P8.00 to complete the amount of the docket fee only fourteen (14)
During the pendency of this petition and in conformity with the said judgment of days later. On the basis of these facts, this court held that the Court of First Instance did
respondent court, private respondent paid the additional docket fee of P62,432.90 on notacquire jurisdiction to hear and determine the appeal as the appeal was not thereby
April 28, 1988. 3 perfected.

The main thrust of the petition is that the Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the In Lee vs. Republic, 8 the petitioner filed a verified declaration of intention to become a
lower court did not acquire jurisdiction over Civil Case No. Q-41177 on the ground of Filipino citizen by sending it through registered mail to the Office of the Solicitor General in
nonpayment of the correct and proper docket fee. Petitioners allege that while it may be 1953 but the required filing fee was paid only in 1956, barely 5V2 months prior to the filing of
true that private respondent had paid the amount of P182,824.90 as docket fee as the petition for citizenship. This Court ruled that the declaration was not filed in accordance
herein-above related, and considering that the total amount sought to be recovered in the with the legal requirement that such declaration should be filed at least one year before the
amended and supplemental complaint is P64,601,623.70 the docket fee that should be filing of the petition for citizenship. Citing Lazaro, this Court concluded that the filing of
paid by private respondent is P257,810.49, more or less. Not having paid the same, petitioner's declaration of intention on October 23, 1953 produced no legal effect until the
petitioners contend that the complaint should be dismissed and all incidents arising required filing fee was paid on May 23, 1956.
therefrom should be annulled. In support of their theory, petitioners cite the latest ruling
of the Court in Manchester Development Corporation vs. CA, 4 as follows: In Malimit vs. Degamo, 9 the same principles enunciated in Lazaro and Lee were applied. It
was an original petition for quo warranto contesting the right to office of proclaimed
The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the candidates which was mailed, addressed to the clerk of the Court of First Instance, within the
prescribed docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not one-week period after the proclamation as provided therefor by law. 10 However, the required
thereby vest jurisdiction in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee docket fees were paid only after the expiration of said period. Consequently, this Court held
based on the amounts sought in the amended pleading. The ruling in the that the date of such payment must be deemed to be the real date of filing of aforesaid
Magaspi Case in so far as it is inconsistent with this pronouncement is petition and not the date when it was mailed.
overturned and reversed.
Again, in Garica vs, Vasquez, 11 this Court reiterated the rule that the docket fee must be
paid before a court will act on a petition or complaint. However, we also held that said rule is
On the other hand, private respondent claims that the ruling in Manchester cannot apply
not applicable when petitioner seeks the probate of several wills of the same decedent as he
retroactively to Civil Case No. Q41177 for at the time said civil case was filed in court
is not required to file a separate action for each will but instead he may have other wills
there was no such Manchester ruling as yet. Further, private respondent avers that what
probated in the same special proceeding then pending before the same court.
is applicable is the ruling of this Court in Magaspi v. Ramolete, 5 wherein this Court held
29
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Then in Magaspi, this Court reiterated the ruling in Malimit and Lee that a case is deemed
12
However, as aforecited, this Court
filed only upon payment of the docket fee regardless of the actual date of its filing in court. overturned Magaspi in Manchester. Manchester involves an action for torts and damages
Said case involved a complaint for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of land and specific performance with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order,
with damages filed in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. Upon the payment of P60.00 for the etc. The prayer in said case is for the issuance of a writ of preliminary prohibitory
docket fee and P10.00 for the sheriffs fee, the complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. R- injunction during the pendency of the action against the defendants' announced forfeiture
11882. The prayer of the complaint sought that the Transfer Certificate of Title issued in the of the sum of P3 Million paid by the plaintiffs for the property in question, the attachment
name of the defendant be declared as null and void. It was also prayed that plaintiff be of such property of defendants that may be sufficient to satisfy any judgment that may be
declared as owner thereof to whom the proper title should be issued, and that defendant be rendered, and, after hearing, the issuance of an order requiring defendants to execute a
made to pay monthly rentals of P3,500.00 from June 2, 1948 up to the time the property is contract of purchase and sale of the subject property and annul defendants' illegal
delivered to plaintiff, P500,000.00 as moral damages, attorney's fees in the amount of
forfeiture of the money of plaintiff. It was also prayed that the defendants be made to pay
P250,000.00, the costs of the action and exemplary damages in the amount of P500,000.00.
the plaintiff jointly and severally, actual, compensatory and exemplary damages as well
as 25% of said amounts as may be proved during the trial for attorney's fees. The plaintiff
The defendant then filed a motion to compel the plaintiff to pay the correct amount of the also asked the trial court to declare the tender of payment of the purchase price of
docket fee to which an opposition was filed by the plaintiff alleging that the action was for plaintiff valid and sufficient for purposes of payment, and to make the injunction
the recovery of a parcel of land so the docket fee must be based on its assessed value permanent. The amount of damages sought is not specified in the prayer although the
and that the amount of P60.00 was the correct docketing fee. The trial court ordered the body of the complaint alleges the total amount of over P78 Millon allegedly suffered by
plaintiff to pay P3,104.00 as filing fee. plaintiff.

The plaintiff then filed a motion to admit the amended complaint to include the Republic Upon the filing of the complaint, the plaintiff paid the amount of only P410.00 for the
as the defendant. In the prayer of the amended complaint the exemplary damages earlier docket fee based on the nature of the action for specific performance where the amount
sought was eliminated. The amended prayer merely sought moral damages as the court involved is not capable of pecuniary estimation. However, it was obvious from the
may determine, attorney's fees of P100,000.00 and the costs of the action. The allegations of the complaint as well as its designation that the action was one for
defendant filed an opposition to the amended complaint. The opposition notwithstanding, damages and specific performance. Thus, this court held the plaintiff must be assessed
the amended complaint was admitted by the trial court. The trial court reiterated its order the correct docket fee computed against the amount of damages of about P78 Million,
for the payment of the additional docket fee which plaintiff assailed and then challenged although the same was not spelled out in the prayer of the complaint.
before this Court. Plaintiff alleged that he paid the total docket fee in the amount of
P60.00 and that if he has to pay the additional fee it must be based on the amended
Meanwhile, plaintiff through another counsel, with leave of court, filed an amended
complaint.
complaint on September 12, 1985 by the inclusion of another co-plaintiff and eliminating
any mention of the amount of damages in the body of the complaint. The prayer in the
The question posed, therefore, was whether or not the plaintiff may be considered to original complaint was maintained.
have filed the case even if the docketing fee paid was not sufficient. In Magaspi, We
reiterated the rule that the case was deemed filed only upon the payment of the correct
On October 15, 1985, this Court ordered the re-assessment of the docket fee in the said
amount for the docket fee regardless of the actual date of the filing of the complaint; that
case and other cases that were investigated. On November 12, 1985, the trial court
there was an honest difference of opinion as to the correct amount to be paid as docket
directed the plaintiff to rectify the amended complaint by stating the amounts which they
fee in that as the action appears to be one for the recovery of property the docket fee of
were asking for. This plaintiff did as instructed. In the body of the complaint the amount of
P60.00 was correct; and that as the action is also one, for damages, We upheld the
damages alleged was reduced to P10,000,000.00 but still no amount of damages was
assessment of the additional docket fee based on the damages alleged in the amended
specified in the prayer. Said amended complaint was admitted.
complaint as against the assessment of the trial court which was based on the damages
alleged in the original complaint.
Applying the principle in Magaspi that "the case is deemed filed only upon payment of
the docket fee regardless of the actual date of filing in court," this Court held that the trial

30
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by payment of only P410.00 for the docket jurisdiction over the case and that the amended complaint could not have been admitted
fee. Neither can the amendment of the complaint thereby vest jurisdiction upon the inasmuch as the original complaint was null and void.
Court. For all legal purposes there was no such original complaint duly filed which could
be amended. Consequently, the order admitting the amended complaint and all In the present case, a more liberal interpretation of the rules is called for considering that,
subsequent proceedings and actions taken by the trial court were declared null and unlike Manchester, private respondent demonstrated his willingness to abide by the rules
void. 13 by paying the additional docket fees as required. The promulgation of the decision in
Manchester must have had that sobering influence on private respondent who thus paid
The present case, as above discussed, is among the several cases of under-assessment the additional docket fee as ordered by the respondent court. It triggered his change of
of docket fee which were investigated by this Court together with Manchester. The facts stance by manifesting his willingness to pay such additional docket fee as may be
and circumstances of this case are similar to Manchester. In the body of the original ordered.
complaint, the total amount of damages sought amounted to about P50 Million. In the
prayer, the amount of damages asked for was not stated. The action was for the refund Nevertheless, petitioners contend that the docket fee that was paid is still insufficient
of the premium and the issuance of the writ of preliminary attachment with damages. The considering the total amount of the claim. This is a matter which the clerk of court of the
amount of only P210.00 was paid for the docket fee. On January 23, 1986, private lower court and/or his duly authorized docket clerk or clerk in-charge should determine
respondent filed an amended complaint wherein in the prayer it is asked that he be and, thereafter, if any amount is found due, he must require the private respondent to
awarded no less than P10,000,000.00 as actual and exemplary damages but in the body pay the same.
of the complaint the amount of his pecuniary claim is approximately P44,601,623.70.
Said amended complaint was admitted and the private respondent was reassessed the Thus, the Court rules as follows:
additional docket fee of P39,786.00 based on his prayer of not less than P10,000,000.00
in damages, which he paid. 1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the
payment of the prescribed docket fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the
On April 24, 1986, private respondent filed a supplemental complaint alleging an subject matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the initiatory pleading is not
additional claim of P20,000,000.00 in damages so that his total claim is approximately accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee
P64,601,620.70. On October 16, 1986, private respondent paid an additional docket fee within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or
of P80,396.00. After the promulgation of the decision of the respondent court on August reglementary period.
31, 1987 wherein private respondent was ordered to be reassessed for additional docket
fee, and during the pendency of this petition, and after the promulgation of Manchester, 2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third party claims and similar
on April 28, 1988, private respondent paid an additional docket fee of P62,132.92. pleadings, which shall not be considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed
Although private respondent appears to have paid a total amount of P182,824.90 for the therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee within a reasonable time
docket fee considering the total amount of his claim in the amended and supplemental but also in no case beyond its applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.
complaint amounting to about P64,601,620.70, petitioner insists that private respondent
must pay a docket fee of P257,810.49. 3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the appropriate
pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment
The principle in Manchester could very well be applied in the present case. The pattern awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified the same has been left for
and the intent to defraud the government of the docket fee due it is obvious not only in determination by the court, the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the
the filing of the original complaint but also in the filing of the second amended complaint. judgment. It shall be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized deputy
to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fee.
However, in Manchester, petitioner did not pay any additional docket fee until] the case
was decided by this Court on May 7, 1987. Thus, in Manchester, due to the fraud WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Clerk of Court of the
committed on the government, this Court held that the court a quo did not acquire court a quo is hereby instructed to reassess and determine the additional filing fee that

31
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
should be paid by private respondent considering the total amount of the claim sought in
the original complaint and the supplemental complaint as may be gleaned from the
allegations and the prayer thereof and to require private respondent to pay the
deficiency, if any, without pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. Nos. 88075-77 December 20, 1989 4) P30,000.00, "as attorney's fees, and representation fees of P5,000.00 per day
MAXIMO TACAY, PONCIANO PANES and ANTONIA NOEL, petitioners, vs. of appearance;" 4
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF TAGUM Davao del Norte, Branches 1 and 2, Presided
by Hon. Marcial Fernandez and Hon. Jesus Matas, respectively, PATSITA and
GAMUTAN, Clerk of Court, and GODOFREDO PINEDA, respondents.
4) that he (Pineda) be granted such "further relief and remedies ... just and
In the Regional Trial Court at Tagum, Davao del Norte, 1 three(3) actions for recovery of equitable in the premises.
possession (acciones publicianas 2 ) were separately instituted by Godofredo Pineda
against three (3) defendants, docketed as follows: The prayer of each complaint contained a handwritten notation (evidently made by
plaintiff's counsel) reading, "P5,000.00 as and for," immediately above the typewritten
1) vs. Antonia Noel Civil Case No. 2209 words, "Actual damages, as proven," the intention apparently being to make the entire
phrase read, " P5,000.00 as and for actual damages as proven. 5
2) vs. Ponciano Panes Civil Case No. 2210
Motions to dismiss were filed in behalf of each of the defendants by common counsel . 6 Every
3) vs. Maximo Tacay Civil Case No. 2211. motion alleged that the Trial Court had not acquired jurisdiction of the case

Civil Cases Numbered 2209 and 2211 were raffled to Branch I of the Trial Court, . . . for the reason that the ... complaint violates the mandatory and clear
presided over by Judge Marcial Hernandez. Civil No. 2210 was assigned to Branch 2, provision of Circular No. 7 of the ... Supreme Court dated March 24,1988, by
presided over by Judge Jesus Matas. failing to specify all the amounts of damages which plaintiff is claiming from
defendant;" and
The complaints 3 all alleged the same essential facts (1) Pineda was the owner of a parcel of
land measuring 790 square meters, his ownership being evidenced by TCT No. T-46560; (2) . . . for ... failure (of the complaint) to even allege the basic requirement as to the
the previous owner had allowed the defendants to occupy portions of the land by mere assessed value of the subject lot in dispute.
tolerance; (3) having himself need to use the property, Pineda had made demands on the
defendants to vacate the property and pay reasonable rentals therefor, but these demands Judge Matas denied the motion to dismiss filed in Civil Case No. 2210 but ordered the
had been refused; and (4) the last demand had been made more than a year prior to the expunction of the "allegations in paragraph 11 of the ... complaint regarding moral as well
commencement of suit. The complaints prayed for the same reliefs, to wit: as nominal damages . 7 On motion of defendant Panes, Judge Matas later ordered the
striking out, too, of the "handwritten amount of 'P5,000. 00 as and for.' including the
1) that plaintiff be declared owner of the areas occupied by the defendants; typewritten words 'actual damages as proven' ... in sub-paragraph b of paragraph 4 in the
conclusion and prayer of the complaint ..." 8
2) that defendants and their "privies and allies" be ordered to vacate and deliver
the portions of the land usurped by them; The motions to dismiss submitted in Civil Cases Numbered 2211 and 2209 were also denied
in separate orders promulgated by Judge Marcial Fernandez. 9 His Order in Case No. 2209
3) that each defendant be ordered to pay: dated March 15, 1989 (a) declared that since the "action at bar is for Reivindicatoria,
Damages and Attorney's fees ... (d)efinitely this Court has the exclusive jurisdiction," (b) that
1 ) P 2,000 as monthly rents from February, 1987; the claims for actual, moral and nominal damages "are only one aspect of the cause of
action," and (c) because of absence of specification of the amounts claimed as moral,
nominal and actual damages, they should be "expunged from the records."
2 ) Actual damages, as proven;
Ascribing grave abuse of discretion to both Judges Matas and Fernandez in the rendition
3 ) Moral and nominal damages as the Honorable Court may fix ;
of the Orders above described, the defendants in all three (3) actions have filed with this
33
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Court a "Joint Petition" for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, with prayer for detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon
temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction," praying Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial
essentially that said orders be annulled and respondent judges directed to dismiss all the Courts." 14 The rule applies regardless of the value of the real property involved, whether it be
complaints "without prejudice to private respondent Pineda's re-filing a similar complaint worth more than P20,000.00 or not, infra. The rule also applies even where the complaint
that complies with Circular No. 7." The joint petition (a) re-asserted the proposition that involving realty also prays for an award of damages; the amount of those damages would be
because the complaints had failed to state the amounts being claimed as actual, moral immaterial to the question of the Court's jurisdiction. The rule is unlike that in other cases
and nominal damages, the Trial Courts a quo had not acquired jurisdiction over the three e.g., actions simply for recovery of money or of personal property, 15 or actions in admiralty
(3) actions in question-indeed, the respondent Clerk of Court should not have accepted and maritime jurisdiction 16 in which the amount claimed, 17 or the value of the personal
the complaints which initiated said suits, and (b) it was not proper merely to expunge the property, is determinative of jurisdiction; i.e., the value of the personal property or the amount
claims for damages and allow "the so-called cause of action for "reivindicatoria" remain claimed should exceed twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) in order to be cognizable by the
for trial" by itself. 10 Regional Trial Court.

The joint petition should be, as it is hereby, dismissed. Circular No. 7 of this Court, dated March 24, 1988, cannot thus be invoked, as the
petitioner does, as authority for the dismissal of the actions at bar. That circular,
avowedly inspired by the doctrine laid down in Manchester Development Corporation v.
It should be dismissed for failure to comply with this Court's Circular No. 1-88 (effective
Court of appeals, 149 SCRA 562 (May 7, 1987), has but limited application to said
January 1, 1989). The copies of the challenged Orders thereto attached 11 were not
actions, as shall presently be discussed. Moreover, the rules therein laid down have
certified by the proper Clerk of Court or his duly authorized representative. Certification was
made by the petitioners' counsel, which is not allowed. since been clarified and amplified by the Court's subsequent decision in Sun Insurance
Office, Ltd. (SIOL) v. Asuncion, et al., G.R. Nos. 79937-38, February 13, 1989.
The petition should be dismissed, too, for another equally important reason. It fails to
demonstrate any grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent Judges in Circular No. 7 was aimed at the practice of certain parties who omit from the prayer of
rendering the Orders complained of or, for that matter, the existence of any proper cause their complaints "any specification of the amount of damages," the omission being
for the issuance of the writ of mandamus. On the contrary, the orders appear to have "clearly intended for no other purposes than to evade the payment of the correct filing
correctly applied the law to the admitted facts. fees if not to mislead the docket clerk, in the assessment of the filing fee." The following
rules were therefore set down:
It is true that the complaints do not state the amounts being claimed as actual, moral and
nominal damages. It is also true, however, that the actions are not basically for the 1. All complaints, petitions, answers, and similar pleadings should specify the amount of
recovery of sums of money. They are principally for recovery of possession of real damages being prayed for not only in the body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and
property, in the nature of an accion publiciana. Determinative of the court's jurisdiction in said damages shall be considered in the assessment of the filing fees in any case.
this type of actions is the nature thereof, not the amount of the damages allegedly arising
from or connected with the issue of title or possession, and regardless of the value of the 2. Any pleading that fails to comply with this requirement shall not be accepted nor
property. Quite obviously, an action for recovery of possession of real property (such as admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the record.
an accion plenaria de possesion) or the title thereof, 12or for partition or condemnation of,
or the foreclosure of a mortgage on, said real property 13 - in other words, a real action-may 3. The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the prescribed
be commenced and prosecuted without an accompanying claim for actual, moral, nominal or docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest
exemplary damages; and such an action would fall within the exclusive, original jurisdiction of jurisdiction in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based on the amount
the Regional Trial Court. sought in the amended pleading.

Batas Pambansa Bilang 129 provides that Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive The clarificatory and additional rules laid down in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion,
original jurisdiction inter alia over "all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession supra, read as follows:
of, real property, or any interest therein, except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful
34
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but (also) Where the action is purely for the recovery of money or damages, the docket fees are
the payment of the prescribed docket fee that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the assessed on the basis of the aggregate amount claimed, exclusive only of interests and
subject-matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the initiatory pleading is not costs. In this case, the complaint or similar pleading should, according to Circular No. 7 of this
accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee Court, "specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the body of the pleading
within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or but also in the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the assessment of the filing
reglementary period. fees in any case."

2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third-party claims and similar Two situations may arise. One is where the complaint or similar pleading sets out a claim
pleadings, which shall not be considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed purely for money or damages and there is no precise statement of the amounts being
therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee within a reasonable time claimed. In this event the rule is that the pleading will "not be accepted nor admitted, or
but also in no case beyond its applicable prescriptive or reglementary period. shall otherwise be expunged from the record." In other words, the complaint or pleading
may be dismissed, or the claims as to which the amounts are unspecified may be
3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the appropriate expunged, although as aforestated the Court may, on motion, permit amendment of the
pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment complaint and payment of the fees provided the claim has not in the meantime become
awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified, the same has been left for time-barred. The other is where the pleading does specify the amount of every claim, but
determination by the court, the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the the fees paid are insufficient; and here again, the rule now is that the court may allow a
judgment. It shall be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized deputy reasonable time for the payment of the prescribed fees, or the balance thereof, and upon
to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fee. such payment, the defect is cured and the court may properly take cognizance of the
action, unless in the meantime prescription has set in and consequently barred the right
of action.
As will be noted, the requirement in Circular No. 7 that complaints, petitions, answers,
and similar pleadings should specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in
the body of the pleading but also in the prayer, has not been altered. What has been Where the action involves real property and a related claim for damages as well, the
revised is the rule that subsequent "amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will legal fees shall be assessed on the basis of both (a) the value of the property and (b) the
not thereby vest jurisdiction in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based total amount of related damages sought. The Court acquires jurisdiction over the action if
on the amount sought in the amended pleading," the trial court now being authorized to the filing of the initiatory pleading is accompanied by the payment of the requisite fees,
allow payment of the fee within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable or, if the fees are not paid at the time of the filing of the pleading, as of the time of full
prescriptive or reglementary period. Moreover, a new rule has been added, governing payment of the fees within such reasonable time as the court may grant, unless, of
awards of claims not specified in the pleading - i.e., damages arising after the filing of the course, prescription has set in the meantime. But where-as in the case at bar-the fees
complaint or similar pleading-as to which the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute prescribed for an action involving real property have been paid, but the amounts of
a lien on the judgment. certain of the related damages (actual, moral and nominal) being demanded are
unspecified, the action may not be dismissed. The Court undeniably has jurisdiction over
the action involving the real property, acquiring it upon the filing of the complaint or
Now, under the Rules of Court, docket or filing fees are assessed on the basis of the
similar pleading and payment of the prescribed fee. And it is not divested of that authority
"sum claimed," on the one hand, or the "value of the property in litigation or the value of
by the circumstance that it may not have acquired jurisdiction over the accompanying
the estate," on the other. 18 There are, in other words, as already above intimated, actions or
claims for damages because of lack of specification thereof. What should be done is
proceedings involving real property, in which the value of the property is immaterial to the
court's jurisdiction, account thereof being taken merely for assessment of the legal fees; and simply to expunge those claims for damages as to which no amounts are stated, which is
there are actions or proceedings, involving personal property or the recovery of money and/or what the respondent Courts did, or allow, on motion, a reasonable time for the
damages, in which the value of the property or the amount of the demand is decisive of the amendment of the complaints so as to allege the precise amount of each item of
trial court's competence (aside from being the basis for fixing the corresponding docket damages and accept payment of the requisite fees therefor within the relevant
fees). 19 prescriptive period.

35
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED, without pronouncement as to costs.

36
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 89747 July 20, 1990 subsequently be not allowed to export the goods by custom authorities. (p. 16,
MAERSK-TABACALERA SHIPPING AGENCY (FILIPINAS), INC., petitioner, vs. THE Record). itc-asl

HON. COURT OF APPEALS, MONET'S EXPORT AND MANUFACTURING


CORPORATION AND/OR VICENTE TAGLE, respondents. Defendant New Asia, for its part, denied any liability in favor of Monet's, alleging
that Monet's has no cause of action against it not being a party to the contract of
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision dated July 12, 1989 of the Court carriage between Monet and Maersk (p. 24, Record).
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 18124 affirming that of the Regional Trial Court of Legaspi
City in Civil Case No. 7480 which awarded damages to the plaintiff, now private Defendants during the hearing of February 17, 1986 were considered as in
respondent, Monet's Export and Manufacturing (Monet for short) against the petitioner default for their failure to attend the scheduled pre-trial conference despite proper
Maersk- Tabacalera Shipping Agency (Filipinas), Inc., (Maersk for short) for breach of a notice. Subsequently, the order of default in regard to defendant Maersk was
(contract of carriage. The facts are stated in the decision of the Court of Appeals as lifted and the latter was allowed to cross-examine all the witnesses of Monet's.
follows: Defendant New Asia did not move for the lifting of the order of default and
accordingly remained as in default. (p. 204, Record.)
On May 21, 1985, a complaint for damages was filed by plaintiff Monet's Export
and Manufacturing Corporation (Monet's) and/or Vicente Tagle against On March 28, 1988, the appealed judgment was rendered:
defendants Maersk Tabacalera Shipping (Maersk) and the New Asia Enterprises
(New Asia) and/or Manuel Ranola, alleging, among other things, that plaintiff, like WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendant Maersk Shipping Line is found
defendant New Asia, is engaged in the export of locally-made handicrafts and to be liable to plaintiff for damages in the following amounts: For breach of
products, while defendant Maersk Line is engaged in furnishing containerized contract of carriage, P50,000.00; for moral damages brought about by the
services through which Monet's and New Asia normally ship their goods; that on wanton bad faith employed by defendant shipping line in the performance of its
March 11, 1984, plaintiff, after complying with all the export and custom contractual obligation, P50,000.00; and as exemplary damages, another
requirements, loaded its goods in Maersk's container to be delivered on or before P50,000.00 and for attomey's fees, P20,000.00.
March 15, 1984 to Manila for immediate trans-shipment to its port of destination;
that through fraud and malice, and without prior notice to Monet's, Maersk Defendant New Asia Enterprises is exonerated of any liability, there being no
unloaded the goods at New Asia's factory site at Tagas, Daraga, Albay to give valid cause of action by plaintiff against it. New Asia Enterprises cannot be made
way to the latter's own export shipment; that Monet's shipment was later returned answerable for whatever action or violation of contracted obligation defendant
to its warehouse at Banag, Daraga, Albay; and that because of this occurrence, Maersk Line may have committed against plaintiff because they are 2 separate
Monet's had to secure another shipper, thereby incurring unnecessary expenses corporations and there is no proof of any collusion between them. (pp. 27-28,
as well as suffering mental anguish, worry and sleepless nights thinking of the Rollo.)
possibility of losing its trading partners which would seriously doubt Monet's
capacity as a respectable exporter. Monet's likewise alleged having suffered Maersk appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the judgment of the trial
actual, moral and exemplary damages (p. 1, Record). court on July 12, 1989.

Answering the complaint, Maersk contended that contrary to Monet's allegations, Hence, the instant petition wherein Maersk raises the following issues:
the latter's shipment was loaded on March 10, 1984 in Maersk container subject
to the condition that the bill of lading would be issued upon Monet's compliance
1. Respondent court erred in affirming the judgment of the trial court despite the
with all the necessary export papers prior to the departure of the truck bearing
obvious fact that the trial court never acquired jurisdiction over the subject-matter
said container for Manila on March 11, 1984. Maersk further alleged that Monet's
of the action because private respondents did not specify their claims for
knew that the subject goods would not be brought to Manila without submitting all
damages and the correct filing fees were not paid.
the necessary export papers, as without them, Maersk would incur charges on
the cargo when deposited at the customs warehouse in Manila and would
37
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
2. It was error for respondent court to have awarded P50,000.00 for "breach of seeking affirmative reliefs, and actively took part in the trial (p. 53, Rollo). A party who
contract" because this is not a form of damage and petitioner has a right to know voluntarily participates in the trial cannot later on raise the issue of the court's lack of
for what it is being made to pay. jurisdiction (Tan Boon Bee & Co. v. Judge Jarencio, 163 SCRA 205).

3. Respondent court erred also in awarding moral damages to a corporation that Maersk should have raised its objection to the trial court s jurisdiction when the case was
was not shown to have a good reputation that was damaged. still in that court. It should not have waited for an adverse decision by the Court of
Appeals before waking up to raise the question of jurisdiction. As this Court remarked
4. Again, respondent court erred in awarding exemplary damages in the absense in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, 23 SCRA 29, 37:
of evidence that petitioner acted in a wanton or malevolent manner.
Were we to sanction such conduct on its part, We would in effect be declaring as
5. Finally, respondent court erred in awarding attorney's fees without any useless all the proceedings had in the present case since it was commenced ...
explanation for such an award. (pp. 13-14, Rollo.) and compel the judgment creditors to go up their Calvary once more. The
inequity and unfairness of this is not only patent but revolting.
Petitioner's allegation that the decisions of the trial court and the Court of Appeals
were void for lack of jurisdiction (p. 75, Rollo) as Monet did not pay the correct A party may be barred by laches from invoking his plea (of lack of jurisdiction) for
filing fee on its claims for actual, moral and exemplary damages, the amounts of the first time on appeal for the purpose of annulling everything done in the case
which were not specified in the body and prayer of its complaint, is anchored in with the active participation of said party invoking the plea. (Tijam vs.
the following ruling of this Court in Manchester Development Corporation vs. Sibonghanoy, 23 SCRA 29, 34.)
CA (149 SCRA 526 [1987])
Since this is a case where some of the claims (for moral and exemplary damages) were
... the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by the payment of only not specified in the plaintiff s pleading and were left for determination by the court, the
P410.00 as docket fee. ... applicable rule is the third rule set out in the decision of this Court in Sun Insurance
Office Ltd., et al. vs. Hon. Maximiano Asuncion, et al., 170 SCRA 274, to wit:
To put a stop to this irregularity, henceforth all complaints, petitions, answers and
other similar pleadings should specify the amount of damages being prayed for 3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the
not only in the body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages appropriate pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently,
shall be considered in the assestment of the filing fees in any case. Any pleading the judgment awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified the
that fails to comply with the requirement shall not be accepted nor admitted, or same has been left for determination by the court, the additional filing fee
shall otherwise be expunged from the record. therefore shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It shall be the responsibility of
the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized deputy to enforce said lien and assess
The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the and collect the additional fee.
prescribed docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not
thereby vest jurisdiction in the court, much less the payment of the docket fee The Clerk of Court of the trial court shall assess and collect the proper additional fees on
based on the amounts sought in the amended pleading. (Emphasis supplied; pp. the totality of the judgment for the private respondent (Id).
568-569.)
Monet's counsel in the trial court, Attorney Jesus Salazar, is hereby reprimanded for his
Unlike Manchester, however, where the jurisdictional issue arising from insufficiency of unethical practice of not specifying the amount of damages sought in the body and
the docket fee paid, was seasonably raised in the answer of the defendant in the trial prayer of his complaint in order to defraud the Government of the proper fee for
court, in this case the issue is being raised for the first time in this Court. Petitioner docketing said complaint. He is warned that a repetition of that malpractice will be dealt
submitted to the jurisdiction of the trial court without question. It filed a counterclaim with more severely.

38
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is denied for lack of merit. However, the Clerk of
Court of the trial court shall assess and collect the fees due on the judgment as if the
same amounts were specified in the complaint. Costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

39
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 144934 January 15, 2004 Mortgage11, was signed by Marianos children, petitioners Adelfa, Cynthia and Jose, as
ADELFA S. RIVERA, CYNTHIA S. RIVERA, and JOSE S. RIVERA, petitioners, vs. buyers and mortgagees, on March 9, 1987.12
FIDELA DEL ROSARIO (deceased and substituted by her co-respondents), and her
children, OSCAR, ROSITA, VIOLETA, ENRIQUE JR., CARLOS, JUANITO and The following day, Mariano Rivera returned to the office of Atty. Barangan, bringing with
ELOISA, all surnamed DEL ROSARIO, respondents. him the signed documents. He also brought with him Fidela and her son Oscar del
Rosario, so that the latter two may sign the mortgage and the Kasunduan there.
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Court of Appeals decision 1, dated
November 29, 1999, in CA-G.R. CV No. 60552, which affirmed the judgment 2 of the Although Fidela intended to sign only the Kasunduan and the Real Estate Mortgage, she
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 17, in Civil Case No. 151-M-93. inadvertently affixed her signature on all the three documents in the office of Atty.
The RTC granted respondents complaint for nullity of contract of sale and annulment of Barangan on the said day, March 10, 1987. Mariano then gave Fidela the amount
the transfer certificates of title issued in favor of petitioners. of P250,000. On October 30, 1987, he also gave Fidela a check for P200,000. In the
ensuing months, also, Mariano gave Oscar del Rosario several amounts
The facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows: totaling P67,800 upon the latters demand for the payment of the balance despite
Oscars lack of authority to receive payments under the Kasunduan. 13 While Mariano was
Respondents Fidela (now deceased), Oscar, Rosita, Violeta, Enrique Jr., Carlos, making payments to Oscar, Fidela entrusted the owners copy of TCT No. T-50.668 (M)
Juanito and Eloisa, all surnamed Del Rosario, were the registered owners of Lot to Mariano to guarantee compliance with the Kasunduan.
No. 1083-C, a parcel of land situated at Lolomboy, Bulacan. This lot spanned an
area of 15,029 square meters and was covered by TCT No. T-50.668 (M) When Mariano unreasonably refused to return the TCT,14 one of the respondents, Carlos
registered in the Registry of Deeds of Bulacan. del Rosario, caused the annotation on TCT No. T-50.668 (M) of an Affidavit of Loss of the
owners duplicate copy of the title on September 7, 1992. This annotation was offset,
On May 16, 1983, Oscar, Rosita, Violeta, Enrique Jr., Juanito, and Eloisa, executed a however, when Mariano registered the Deed of Absolute Sale on October 13, 1992, and
Special Power of Attorney3 in favor of their mother and co-respondent, Fidela, authorizing afterwards caused the annotation of an Affidavit of Recovery of Title on October 14,
her to sell, lease, mortgage, transfer and convey their rights over Lot No. 1083- 1992. Thus, TCT No. T-50.668 (M) was cancelled, and in its place was issued TCT No.
C.4 Subsequently, Fidela borrowed P250,000 from Mariano Rivera in the early part of 158443 (M) in the name of petitioners Adelfa, Cynthia and Jose Rivera. 15
1987. To secure the loan, she and Mariano Rivera agreed to execute a deed of real
estate mortgage and an agreement to sell the land. Consequently, on March 9, 1987, Meanwhile, the Riveras, representing themselves to be the new owners of Lot No. 1083-
Mariano went to his lawyer, Atty. Efren Barangan, to have three documents drafted: the C, were also negotiating with the tenant, Feliciano Nieto, to rid the land of the latters
Deed of Real Estate Mortgage 5, a Kasunduan (Agreement to Sell)6, and a Deed of tenurial right. When Nieto refused to relinquish his tenurial right over 9,000 sq. m. of the
Absolute Sale.7 land, the Riveras offered to give 4,500 sq. m. in exchange for the surrender. Nieto could
not resist and he accepted. Subdivision Plan No. Psd-031404-052505 was then made on
The Kasunduan provided that the children of Mariano Rivera, herein petitioners Adelfa, August 12, 1992. Later, it was inscribed on TCT No. 158443 (M), and Lot No. 1083-C
Cynthia and Jose, would purchase Lot No. 1083-C for a consideration of P2,141,622.50. was divided into Lots 1083 C-1 and 1083 C-2.16
This purchase price was to be paid in three installments: P250,000 upon the signing of
the Kasunduan, P750,000 on August 31, 1987, and P1,141,622.50 on December 31, To document their agreement with Feliciano Nieto, the Riveras executed a Kasulatan sa
1987.8 It also provided that the Deed of Absolute Sale would be executed only after the Pagtatakwil ng Karapatan sa Pagmamay-ari ng Bahagi ng Isang Lagay na Lupa (Written
second installment is paid and a postdated check for the last installment is deposited Abdication of Rights over a Portion of a Parcel of Land) 17 on November 16, 1992. Four
with Fidela.9 As previously stated, however, Mariano had already caused the drafting of days later, they registered the document with the Registry of Deeds. Two titles were then
the Deed of Absolute Sale. But unlike the Kasunduan, the said deed stipulated a issued: TCT No. T-161784 (M) in the name of Nieto, for 4,500 sq. m. of land, and TCT
purchase price of only P601,160, and covered a certain Lot No. 1083-A in addition to Lot No. T-161785 (M) in the name of petitioners Adelfa, Cynthia and Jose Rivera, over the
No. 1083-C.10 This deed, as well as the Kasunduan and the Deed of Real Estate remaining 10,529 sq. m. of land.18

40
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
On February 18, 1993, respondents filed a complaint 19 in the Regional Trial Court of WHEREFORE, in the light of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered:
Malolos, asking that the Kasunduan be rescinded for failure of the Riveras to comply with
its conditions, with damages. They also sought the annulment of the Deed of Absolute 1. Declaring the Deed of Absolute Sale dated March 10, 1987 as null and
Sale on the ground of fraud, the cancellation of TCT No. T-161784 (M) and TCT No. T- void;
161785 (M), and the reconveyance to them of the entire property with TCT No. T-50.668
(M) restored.20 2. Annulling TCT No. T-158443 (M) and TCT No. T-161785 (M) both in
the names of Adelfa, Cynthia and Jose, all surnamed Rivera;
Respondents claimed that Fidela never intended to enter into a deed of sale at the time
of its execution and that she signed the said deed on the mistaken belief that she was 3. Declaring the plaintiffs to be the legitimate owners of the land covered
merely signing copies of the Kasunduan. According to respondents, the position where by TCT No. T-161785 (M) and ordering defendant Adelfa, Cynthia, and
Fidelas name was typed and where she was supposed to sign her name in Jose, all surnamed Rivera, to reconvey the same to the plaintiffs;
the Kasunduan was roughly in the same location where it was typed in the Deed of
Absolute Sale. They argued that given Fidelas advanced age (she was then around 72 4. Ordering the Register of Deeds of Bulacan to cancel TCT No. T-
at the time)21 and the fact that the documents were stacked one on top of the other at the 161785 (M) and to issue in its place a new certificate of title in the name
time of signing, Fidela could have easily and mistakenly presumed that she was merely of the plaintiffs as their names appear in TCT No. T-50.668;
signing additional copies of the Kasunduan. 22 They also alleged that petitioners acquired
possession of the TCT through fraud and machination. 5. Declaring TCT No. T-161784 (M) in the name of Feliciano Nieto as
valid;
In their defense, petitioners denied the allegations and averred that the Deed of Absolute
Sale was validly entered into by both parties. According to petitioners, Fidela del Rosario 6. Ordering the defendant Riveras to pay the plaintiffs solidarily the
mortgaged Lot No. 1083-C to their predecessor in interest, Mariano Rivera, on March 9, following amounts:
1987. But on the following day Fidela decided to sell the lot to petitioners
for P2,161,622.50. When Mariano agreed (on the condition that Lot No. 1083-C will be
a) P191,246.98 as balance for the 4,500 square-meter portion
delivered free from all liens and encumbrances), the Kasunduan was consequently
given to defendant Feliciano Nieto
drawn up and signed. After that, however, Fidela informed Mariano of the existence of
Feliciano Nietos tenancy right over the lot to the extent of 9,000 sq. m. When Mariano
b) P200,000.00 as moral damages
continued to want the land, albeit on a much lower price of only P601,160, as he had still
to deal with Feliciano Nieto, the parties drafted the Deed of Absolute Sale on March 10,
1987, to supersede the Kasunduan. c) P50,000.00 as exemplary damages

Petitioners likewise argued that respondents cause of action had been barred by laches d) P50,000.00 as attorneys fees
or estoppel since more than four years has lapsed from the time the parties executed the
Deed of Absolute Sale on March 10, 1987, to the time respondents instituted their e) costs of the suit.
complaint on February 18, 1993.
7. Dismissing the counterclaim of the defendant Riveras;
Petitioners also filed a counterclaim asking for moral and exemplary damages and the
payment of attorneys fees and costs of suit. 8. Dismissing the counterclaim and the crossclaim of defendant Feliciano
Nieto.
After trial, the RTC ruled in favor of respondents:
SO ORDERED.23

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
The trial court ruled that Fidelas signature in the Deed of Absolute Sale was genuine, but THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A SERIOUS, GRAVE AND
found that Fidela never intended to sign the said deed. Noting the peculiar differences REVERSIBLE ERROR IN AWARDING LOT 1083-A IN FAVOR OF THE PETITIONERS
between the Kasunduan and the Deed of Absolute Sale, the trial court concluded that the AND FELICIANO NIETO WHICH IS ADMITTEDLY A PART AND PORTION OF THE
Riveras were guilty of fraud in securing the execution of the deed and its registration in EXISTING NORTH LUZON EXPRESSWAY AND AS SUCH ACTED WITHOUT OR IN
the Registry of Deeds.24 This notwithstanding, the trial court sustained the validity of TCT EXCESS OF ITS JURISDICTION, OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF JUDICIAL
No. T-161784 (M) in the name of Feliciano Nieto since there was no fraud proven on DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION.
Nietos part. The trial court found him to have relied in good faith on the representations
of ownership of Mariano Rivera. Thus, Nietos rights, according to the trial court, were II
akin to those of an innocent purchaser for value.25
RESPONDENTS FAILED TO PAY THE CORRECT DOCKET, FILING AND OTHER
On the foregoing, the trial court rescinded the Kasunduan but ruled that the P450,000 LAWFUL FEES WITH THE OFFICE OF THE CLERK OF COURT OF THE COURT A
paid by petitioners be retained by respondents as payment for the 4,500 sq. m. portion of QUO (RTC, MALOLOS, BULACAN) AT THE TIME OF THE FILING OF THE ORIGINAL
Lot No. 1083-C that petitioners gave to Nieto. 26 The trial court likewise ordered petitioners COMPLAINT IN 1993 PURSUANT TO THE SIOL29 DOCTRINE.
to pay P191,246.98 as balance for the price of the land given to Nieto, P200,000 as
moral damages, P50,000 as exemplary damages, P50,000 as attorneys fees, and the III
costs of suit.27
[THE] TRIAL COURT AWARDED RELIEFS NOT SPECIFICALLY PRAYED FOR IN THE
On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the trial courts judgment was modified as follows: AMENDED COMPLAINT WITHOUT REQUIRING THE PAYMENT OF THE CORRECT
DOCKET, FILING AND OTHER LAWFUL FEES.
WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATION that the Deed of Absolute Sale dated March 10, 1987 is IV
declared null and void only insofar as Lot No. 1083-C is concerned, but valid
insofar as it conveyed Lot No. 1083-A, that TCT No. 158443 (M) is valid insofar THE COURT A QUO HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE RESPONDENTS CAUSE OF
as Lot No. 1083-A is concerned and should not be annulled, and increasing the ACTION AND OVER THE RES CONSIDERING THAT FELICIANO NIETO IS AN
amount to be paid by the defendants-appellants to the plaintiffs-appellees for the AGRICULTURAL TENANT OF THE RICELAND IN QUESTION.
4,500 square meters of land given to Feliciano Nieto to P323,617.50.
V
Costs against the defendants-appellants.
RESPONDENTS[] MAIN CAUSE OF ACTION [IS] FOR RESCISSION OF CONTRACT
SO ORDERED.28 WHICH IS SUBSIDIARY IN NATURE[,] AND ANNULMENT OF SALE[,] BOTH OF
WHICH HAVE ALREADY PRESCRIBED UNDER ARTICLES 1389 AND 1391 OF THE
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, this petition. CIVIL CODE.30

While this petition was pending, respondent Fidela del Rosario died. She was substituted Petitioners assignment of errors may be reduced into three issues: (1) Did the trial court
by her children, herein respondents. acquire jurisdiction over the case, despite an alleged deficiency in the amount of filing
fees paid by respondents and despite the fact that an agricultural tenant is involved in the
In this petition, petitioners rely on the following grounds: case? (2) Did the Court of Appeals correctly rule that the Deed of Absolute Sale is valid
insofar as Lot 1083-A is concerned? (3) Is the respondents cause of action barred by
I prescription?

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
On the first issue, petitioners contend that jurisdiction was not validly acquired because cultivation and use of all agricultural lands covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian
the filing fees respondents paid was only P1,554.45 when the relief sought was Reform Law.37 However, the cause of action in this case is primarily against the
reconveyance of land that was worth P2,141,622.50 under the Kasunduan. They petitioners, as indispensable parties, for rescission of the Kasunduan and nullification of
contend that respondents should have paid filing fees amounting to P12,183.70. In the Deed of Sale and the TCTs issued because of them. Feliciano Nieto was impleaded
support of their argument, petitioners invoke the doctrine in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd., merely as a necessary party, stemming from whatever rights he may have acquired by
(SIOL) v. Asuncion31 and attach a certification32 from the Clerk of Court of the RTC of virtue of the agreement between him and the Riveras and the corresponding TCT issued.
Quezon City. Hence, it is the regular judicial courts that have jurisdiction over the case.

Respondents counter that it is beyond dispute that they paid the correct amount of On the second issue, contrary to the ruling of the Court of Appeals that the Deed of
docket fees when they filed the complaint. If the assessment was inadequate, they could Absolute Sale is void only insofar as it covers Lot No. 1083-C, we find that the said deed
not be faulted because the clerk of court made no notice of demand or reassessment, is void in its entirety. Noteworthy is that during the oral arguments before the Court of
respondents argue. Respondents also add that since petitioners failed to contest the Appeals, both petitioners and respondents admitted that Lot No. 1083-A had been
alleged underpayment of docket fees in the lower court, they cannot raise the same on expropriated by the government long before the Deed of Absolute Sale was entered
appeal.33 into.38 Whats more, this case involves only Lot No. 1083-C. It never involved Lot 1083-A.
Thus, the Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction to adjudicate on Lot 1083-A, as it was
We rule in favor of respondents. Jurisdiction was validly acquired over the complaint. In never touched upon in the pleadings or made the subject of evidence at trial. 39
Sun Insurance Office, Ltd., (SIOL) v. Asuncion, 34 this Court ruled that the filing of the
complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading and the payment of the prescribed docket fee As to the third issue, petitioners cite Articles 1383, 40 138941 and 139142 of the New Civil
vest a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action. If the Code. They submit that the complaint for rescission of the Kasunduan should have been
amount of docket fees paid is insufficient considering the amount of the claim, the clerk dismissed, for respondents failure to prove that there was no other legal means
of court of the lower court involved or his duly authorized deputy has the responsibility of available to obtain reparation other than to file a case for rescission, as required by
making a deficiency assessment. The party filing the case will be required to pay the Article 1383. Moreover, petitioners contend that even assuming respondents had
deficiency, but jurisdiction is not automatically lost. satisfied this requirement, prescription had already set in, the complaint having been filed
in 1992 or five years after the execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale in March 10, 1987.
Here it is beyond dispute that respondents paid the full amount of docket fees as
assessed by the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch Respondents counter that Article 1383 of the New Civil Code applies only to rescissible
17, where they filed the complaint. If petitioners believed that the assessment was contracts enumerated under Article 1381 of the same Code, while the cause of action in
incorrect, they should have questioned it before the trial court. Instead, petitioners this case is for rescission of a reciprocal obligation, to which Article 1191 43 of the Code
belatedly question the alleged underpayment of docket fees through this petition, applies. They assert that their cause of action had not prescribed because the four-year
attempting to support their position with the opinion and certification of the Clerk of Court prescriptive period is counted from the date of discovery of the fraud, which, in this case,
of another judicial region. Needless to state, such certification has no bearing on the was only in 1992.
instant case.
Rescission of reciprocal obligations under Article 1191 of the New Civil Code should be
Petitioners also contend that the trial court does not have jurisdiction over the case distinguished from rescission of contracts under Article 1383 of the same Code. Both
because it involves an agricultural tenant. They insist that by virtue of Presidential presuppose contracts validly entered into as well as subsisting, and both require mutual
Decree Nos. 316 and 1038,35 it is the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board restitution when proper, nevertheless they are not entirely identical.44
(DARAB) that has jurisdiction.36
In countless times there has been confusion between rescission under Articles 1381 and
Petitioners contention lacks merit. The DARAB has exclusive original jurisdiction over 1191 of the Civil Code. Through this case we again emphasize that rescission of
cases involving the rights and obligations of persons engaged in the management, reciprocal obligations under Article 1191 is different from rescissible contracts under

43
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Chapter 6 of the law on contracts under the Civil Code. 45 While Article 1191 uses the term a situation that prevents the obligation of the vendor to convey title from acquiring an
rescission, the original term used in Article 1124 of the old Civil Code, from which Article obligatory force.50
1191 was based, was resolution.46 Resolution is a principal action that is based on
breach of a party, while rescission under Article 1383 is a subsidiary action limited to Respondents in this case bound themselves to deliver a deed of absolute sale and clean
cases of rescission for lesion under Article 1381 of the New Civil Code, 47 which expressly title covering Lot No. 1083-C after petitioners have made the second installment. This
enumerates the following rescissible contracts: promise to sell was subject to the fulfillment of the suspensive condition that petitioners
pay P750,000 on August 31, 1987, and deposit a postdated check for the third
ART. 1381. The following contracts are rescissible: installment of P1,141,622.50.51 Petitioners, however, failed to complete payment of the
second installment. The non-fulfillment of the condition rendered the contract to sell
(1) Those which are entered into by guardians whenever the wards whom ineffective and without force and effect. It must be stressed that the breach contemplated
they represent suffer lesion by more than one-fourth of the value of the in Article 1191 of the New Civil Code is the obligors failure to comply with an obligation
things which are the object thereof; already extant, not a failure of a condition to render binding that obligation. 52 Failure to
pay, in this instance, is not even a breach but an event that prevents the vendors
(2) Those agreed upon in representation of absentees, if the latter suffer obligation to convey title from acquiring binding force. 53 Hence, the agreement of the
the lesion stated in the preceding number; parties in the instant case may be set aside, but not because of a breach on the part of
petitioners for failure to complete payment of the second installment. Rather, their failure
(3) Those undertaken in fraud of creditors when the latter cannot in any to do so prevented the obligation of respondents to convey title from acquiring an
other manner collect the claims due them; obligatory force.54

(4) Those which refer to things under litigation if they have been entered Coming now to the matter of prescription. Contrary to petitioners assertion, we find that
into by the defendant without the knowledge and approval of the litigants prescription has not yet set in. Article 1391 states that the action for annulment of void
or of competent judicial authority; contracts shall be brought within four years. This period shall begin from the time the
fraud or mistake is discovered. Here, the fraud was discovered in 1992 and the complaint
(5) All other contracts specially declared by law to be subject to filed in 1993. Thus, the case is well within the prescriptive period.
rescission.
On the matter of damages, the Court of Appeals awarded respondents P323,617.50 as
Obviously, the Kasunduan does not fall under any of those situations mentioned in Article actual damages for the loss of the land that was given to Nieto, P200,000 as moral
1381. Consequently, Article 1383 is inapplicable. Hence, we rule in favor of the damages, P50,000 as exemplary damages, P50,000 as attorneys fees and the costs of
respondents. suit. Modifications are in order, however.

May the contract entered into between the parties, however, be rescinded based on Moral damages may be recovered in cases where one willfully causes injury to property,
Article 1191? or in cases of breach of contract where the other party acts fraudulently or in bad
faith.55 Exemplary damages are imposed by way of example or correction for the public
good,56 when the party to a contract acts in a wanton, fraudulent, oppressive or
A careful reading of the Kasunduan reveals that it is in the nature of a contract to sell, as
malevolent manner.57 Attorneys fees are allowed when exemplary damages are awarded
distinguished from a contract of sale. In a contract of sale, the title to the property passes
and when the party to a suit is compelled to incur expenses to protect his interest. 58
to the vendee upon the delivery of the thing sold; while in a contract to sell, ownership is,
by agreement, reserved in the vendor and is not to pass to the vendee until full payment
of the purchase price.48 In a contract to sell, the payment of the purchase price is a While it has been sufficiently proven that the respondents are entitled to damages, the
positive suspensive condition,49 the failure of which is not a breach, casual or serious, but actual amounts awarded by the lower court must be reduced because damages are not
intended for a litigants enrichment, at the expense of the petitioners. 59 The purpose for

44
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
the award of damages other than actual damages would be served, in this case, by
reducing the amounts awarded.

Respondents were amply compensated through the award of actual damages, which
should be sustained. The other damages awarded total P300,000, or almost equivalent
to the amount of actual damages. Practically this will double the amount of actual
damages awarded to respondents. To avoid breaching the doctrine on enrichment,
award for damages other than actual should be reduced. Thus, the amount of moral
damages should be set at only P30,000, and the award of exemplary damages at
only P20,000. The award of attorneys fees should also be reduced to P20,000, which
under the circumstances of this case appears justified and reasonable.

WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is MODIFIED. The Deed of
Absolute Sale in question is declared NULL and VOID in its entirety. Petitioners are
ORDERED to pay respondents P323,617.50 as actual damages, P30,000.00 as moral
damages, P20,000.00 as exemplary damages and P20,000.00 as attorneys fees. No
pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

45
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 140954. April 12, 2005 On August 4, 1998, Atty. Sulpicio A. Tinampay withdrew as counsel for Bertuldo as his
HEIRS OF BERTULDO1 HINOG: Bertuldo Hinog II, Bertuldo Hinog III, Bertuldo services were terminated by petitioner Bertuldo Hinog III. Atty. Veronico G. Petalcorin
Hinog, Jr., Jocelyn Hinog, Bertoldo Hinog IV, Bertoldo Hinog V, Edgardo Hinog, then entered his appearance as new counsel for Bertuldo.4
Milagros H. Pabatao, Lilian H. King, Victoria H. Engracia, Terisita C. Hinog, Paz H.
Besana, Roberto C. Hinog, Vicente C. Hinog, Roel C. Hinog, Marilyn C. Hinog, On September 22, 1998, Atty. Petalcorin filed a motion to expunge the complaint from
Bebot C. Hinog, lordes C. Hinog, Pablo Chiong, Arlene Lanasang (All respresented the record and nullify all court proceedings on the ground that private respondents failed
by Bertuldo Hinog III), Petitioners, vs. HON. ACHILLES MELICOR, in his capacity as to specify in the complaint the amount of damages claimed so as to pay the correct
Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch 4, 7th Judicial Region, Tagbiliran City, Bohol, and docket fees; and that under Manchester Development Corporation vs. Court of
CUSTODIO BALANE, RUFO BALANE, HONORIO BALANE, and TOMAS Appeals,5 non-payment of the correct docket fee is jurisdictional.6
BALANE, Respondents.
In an amended motion, filed on October 2, 1998, Atty. Petalcorin further alleged that the
Before us is a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court private respondents failed to pay the correct docket fee since the main subject matter of
which assails the Orders dated March 22, 1999, August 13, 1999 and October 15, 1999 the case cannot be estimated as it is for recovery of ownership, possession and removal
of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 4, of Tagbilaran City, Bohol in Civil Case No. 4923. of construction.7

The factual background of the case is as follows: Private respondents opposed the motion to expunge on the following grounds: (a) said
motion was filed more than seven years from the institution of the case; (b) Atty.
On May 21, 1991, private respondents Custodio, Rufo, Tomas and Honorio, all surnamed Petalcorin has not complied with Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court which provides
Balane, filed a complaint for "Recovery of Ownership and Possession, Removal of that the death of the original defendant requires a substitution of parties before a lawyer
Construction and Damages" against Bertuldo Hinog (Bertuldo for brevity). They alleged can have legal personality to represent a litigant and the motion to expunge does not
that: they own a 1,399- square meter parcel of land situated in Malayo Norte, Cortes, mention of any specific party whom he is representing; (c) collectible fees due the court
Bohol, designated as Lot No. 1714; sometime in March 1980, they allowed Bertuldo to can be charged as lien on the judgment; and (d) considering the lapse of time, the
use a portion of the said property for a period of ten years and construct thereon a small motion is merely a dilatory scheme employed by petitioners.8
house of light materials at a nominal annual rental of P100.00 only, considering the close
relations of the parties; after the expiration of the ten-year period, they demanded the In their Rejoinder, petitioners manifested that the lapse of time does not vest the court
return of the occupied portion and removal of the house constructed thereon but Bertuldo with jurisdiction over the case due to failure to pay the correct docket fees. As to the
refused and instead claimed ownership of the entire property. contention that deficiency in payment of docket fees can be made as a lien on the
judgment, petitioners argued that the payment of filing fees cannot be made dependent
Accordingly, private respondents sought to oust Bertuldo from the premises of the on the result of the action taken.9
subject property and restore upon themselves the ownership and possession thereof, as
well as the payment of moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees and litigation On January 21, 1999, the trial court, while ordering the complaint to be expunged from
expenses "in amounts justified by the evidence." 2 the records and the nullification of all court proceedings taken for failure to pay the
correct docket fees, nonetheless, held:
On July 2, 1991, Bertuldo filed his Answer. He alleged ownership of the disputed property
by virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale dated July 2, 1980, executed by one Tomas Pahac The Court can acquire jurisdiction over this case only upon the payment of the exact
with the knowledge and conformity of private respondents.3 prescribed docket/filing fees for the main cause of action, plus additional docket fee for
the amount of damages being prayed for in the complaint, which amount should be
After the pre-trial, trial on the merits ensued. On November 18, 1997, private specified so that the same can be considered in assessing the amount of the filing fees.
respondents rested their case. Thereupon, Bertuldo started his direct examination. Upon the complete payment of such fees, the Court may take appropriate action in the
However, on June 24, 1998, Bertuldo died without completing his evidence.

46
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
light of the ruling in the case of Manchester Development Corporation vs. Court of March 22, 1999 reinstating the case was not assailed by petitioners within the
Appeals, supra.10 reglementary period, despite receipt thereof on March 26, 1999.25

Accordingly, on January 28, 1999, upon payment of deficiency docket fee, private On November 19, 1999, Atty. Petalcorin complied with the directive of the trial court to
respondents filed a manifestation with prayer to reinstate the case. 11 Petitioners opposed submit the names and addresses of the heirs of Bertuldo. 26
the reinstatement12 but on March 22, 1999, the trial court issued the first assailed Order
reinstating the case.13 On November 24, 1999, petitioners filed before us the present petition for certiorari and
prohibition.27 They allege that the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion
On May 24, 1999, petitioners, upon prior leave of court, 14 filed their supplemental in allowing the case to be reinstated after private respondents paid the docket fee
pleading, appending therein a Deed of Sale dated November 15, 1982. 15 Following the deficiency since the trial court had earlier expunged the complaint from the record and
submission of private respondents opposition thereto,16the trial court, in its Order dated nullified all proceedings of the case and such ruling was not contested by the private
July 7, 1999, denied the supplemental pleading on the ground that the Deed of Absolute respondents. Moreover, they argue that the public respondent committed grave abuse of
Sale is a new matter which was never mentioned in the original answer dated July 2, discretion in allowing the case to be filed and denying the manifestation with motion to
1991, prepared by Bertuldos original counsel and which Bertuldo verified; and that such dismiss, despite the defect in the complaint which prayed for damages without specifying
new document is deemed waived in the light of Section 1, Rule 9 17 of the Rules of Court. the amounts, in violation of SC Circular No. 7, dated March 24, 1988.
The trial court also noted that no formal substitution of the parties was made because of
the failure of defendants counsel to give the names and addresses of the legal In their Comment, private respondents aver that no grave abuse of discretion was
representatives of Bertuldo, so much so that the supposed heirs of Bertuldo are not committed by the trial court in reinstating the complaint upon the payment of deficiency
specified in any pleading in the case. 18 docket fees because petitioners did not object thereto within the reglementary period.
Besides, Atty. Petalcorin possessed no legal personality to appear as counsel for the
On July 14, 1999, petitioners manifested that the trial court having expunged the heirs of Bertuldo until he complies with Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. 28
complaint and nullified all court proceedings, there is no valid case and the complaint
should not be admitted for failure to pay the correct docket fees; that there should be no At the outset, we note the procedural error committed by petitioners in directly filing the
case to be reinstated and no case to proceed as there is no complaint filed. 19 instant petition before this Court for it violates the established policy of strict observance
of the judicial hierarchy of courts.
After the submission of private respondents opposition 20 and petitioners rejoinder,21 the
trial court issued the second assailed Order on August 13, 1999, essentially denying Although the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Courts have
petitioners manifestation/rejoinder. The trial court held that the issues raised in such concurrent jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto,
manifestation/rejoinder are practically the same as those raised in the amended motion habeas corpus and injunction, such concurrence does not give the petitioner unrestricted
to expunge which had already been passed upon in the Order dated January 21, 1999. freedom of choice of court forum.29 As we stated in People vs. Cuaresma:30
Moreover, the trial court observed that the Order dated March 22, 1999 which reinstated
the case was not objected to by petitioners within the reglementary period or even This Court's original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari is not exclusive. It is shared by
thereafter via a motion for reconsideration despite receipt thereof on March 26, 1999. 22 this Court with Regional Trial Courts and with the Court of Appeals. This concurrence of
jurisdiction is not, however, to be taken as according to parties seeking any of the writs
On August 25, 1999, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration 23 but the same was an absolute, unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which application therefor will
denied by the trial court in its third assailed Order dated October 15, 1999. The trial court be directed. There is after all a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative of the
held that the Manchester rule was relaxed in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. vs. venue of appeals, and also serves as a general determinant of the appropriate forum for
Asuncion.24 Noting that there has been no substitution of parties following the death of petitions for the extraordinary writs. A becoming regard for that judicial hierarchy most
Bertuldo, the trial court directed Atty. Petalcorin to comply with the provisions of Section certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level
16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. The trial court also reiterated that the Order dated ("inferior") courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the

47
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Courts original the issue that the complaint should not have been reinstated in the first place because
jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and the trial court had no jurisdiction to do so, having already ruled that the complaint shall be
important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is [an] expunged.
established policy. It is a policy necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon the
Courts time and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive After recognizing the jurisdiction of the trial court by seeking affirmative relief in their
jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of the Courts docket. 31 motion to serve supplemental pleading upon private respondents, petitioners are
effectively barred by estoppel from challenging the trial courts jurisdiction. 38 If a party
The rationale for this rule is two-fold: (a) it would be an imposition upon the precious time invokes the jurisdiction of a court, he cannot thereafter challenge the courts jurisdiction
of this Court; and (b) it would cause an inevitable and resultant delay, intended or in the same case.39 To rule otherwise would amount to speculating on the fortune of
otherwise, in the adjudication of cases, which in some instances had to be remanded or litigation, which is against the policy of the Court.40
referred to the lower court as the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as better
equipped to resolve the issues because this Court is not a trier of facts. 32 Nevertheless, there is a need to correct the erroneous impression of the trial court as
well as the private respondents that petitioners are barred from assailing the Order dated
Thus, this Court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be March 22, 1999 which reinstated the case because it was not objected to within the
obtained in the appropriate courts, and exceptional and compelling circumstances, such reglementary period or even thereafter via a motion for reconsideration despite receipt
as cases of national interest and of serious implications, justify the availment of the thereof on March 26, 1999.
extraordinary remedy of writ of certiorari, calling for the exercise of its primary
jurisdiction. Exceptional and compelling circumstances were held present in the following It must be clarified that the said order is but a resolution on an incidental matter which
cases: (a) Chavez vs. Romulo33 on citizens right to bear arms; (b) Government of the does not touch on the merits of the case or put an end to the proceedings. 41 It is an
United States of America vs. Purganan 34 on bail in extradition proceedings; interlocutory order since there leaves something else to be done by the trial court with
(c) Commission on Elections vs. Quijano-Padilla35 on government contract involving respect to the merits of the case. 42 As such, it is not subject to a reglementary period.
modernization and computerization of voters registration list; (d) Buklod ng Kawaning Reglementary period refers to the period set by the rules for appeal or further review of a
EIIB vs. Zamora36 on status and existence of a public office; and (e) Fortich vs. final judgment or order, i.e., one that ends the litigation in the trial court.
Corona37 on the so-called "Win-Win Resolution" of the Office of the President which
modified the approval of the conversion to agro-industrial area. Moreover, the remedy against an interlocutory order is generally not to resort forthwith
to certiorari, but to continue with the case in due course and, when an unfavorable
In this case, no special and important reason or exceptional and compelling verdict is handed down, to take an appeal in the manner authorized by law.43 Only when
circumstance analogous to any of the above cases has been adduced by the petitioners the court issued such order without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
so as to justify direct recourse to this Court. The present petition should have been discretion and when the assailed interlocutory order is patently erroneous and the
initially filed in the Court of Appeals in strict observance of the doctrine on the hierarchy remedy of appeal would not afford adequate and expeditious relief will certiorari be
of courts. Failure to do so is sufficient cause for the dismissal of the petition at bar. considered an appropriate remedy to assail an interlocutory order. 44 Such special
circumstances are absolutely wanting in the present case.
In any event, even if the Court disregards such procedural flaw, the petitioners
contentions on the substantive aspect of the case fail to invite judgment in their favor. Time and again, the Court has held that the Manchester rule has been modified in Sun
Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) vs. Asuncion 45 which defined the following guidelines
The unavailability of the writ of certiorari and prohibition in this case is borne out of the involving the payment of docket fees:
fact that petitioners principally assail the Order dated March 22, 1999 which they never
sought reconsideration of, in due time, despite receipt thereof on March 26, 1999. 1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the
Instead, petitioners went through the motion of filing a supplemental pleading and only payment of the prescribed docket fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the
when the latter was denied, or after more than three months have passed, did they raise subject-matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the initiatory pleading is not

48
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fees Thus, while the docket fees were based only on the real property valuation, the trial court
within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or acquired jurisdiction over the action, and judgment awards which were left for
reglementary period. determination by the court or as may be proven during trial would still be subject to
additional filing fees which shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It would then be the
2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third-party claims and similar responsibility of the Clerk of Court of the trial court or his duly authorized deputy to
pleadings, which shall not be considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fees. 51
therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee within a reasonable time
but also in no case beyond its applicable prescriptive or reglementary period. It is worth noting that when Bertuldo filed his Answer on July 2, 1991, he did not raise the
issue of lack of jurisdiction for non-payment of correct docket fees. Instead, he based his
3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the appropriate defense on a claim of ownership and participated in the proceedings before the trial
pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment court. It was only in September 22, 1998 or more than seven years after filing the
awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified the same has been left for answer, and under the auspices of a new counsel, that the issue of jurisdiction was
determination by the court, the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the raised for the first time in the motion to expunge by Bertuldos heirs.
judgment. It shall be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized deputy
to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fee. After Bertuldo vigorously participated in all stages of the case before the trial court and
even invoked the trial courts authority in order to ask for affirmative relief, petitioners,
Plainly, while the payment of the prescribed docket fee is a jurisdictional requirement, considering that they merely stepped into the shoes of their predecessor, are effectively
even its non-payment at the time of filing does not automatically cause the dismissal of barred by estoppel from challenging the trial courts jurisdiction. Although the issue of
the case, as long as the fee is paid within the applicable prescriptive or reglementary jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings as the same is conferred by
period, more so when the party involved demonstrates a willingness to abide by the rules law, it is nonetheless settled that a party may be barred from raising it on ground of
prescribing such payment.46 Thus, when insufficient filing fees were initially paid by the laches or estoppel.52
plaintiffs and there was no intention to defraud the government, the Manchester
rule does not apply.47 Moreover, no formal substitution of the parties was effected within thirty days from date
of death of Bertuldo, as required by Section 16, Rule 3 53 of the Rules of Court. Needless
Under the peculiar circumstances of this case, the reinstatement of the complaint was to stress, the purpose behind the rule on substitution is the protection of the right of every
just and proper considering that the cause of action of private respondents, being a real party to due process. It is to ensure that the deceased party would continue to be
action, prescribes in thirty years,48 and private respondents did not really intend to evade properly represented in the suit through the duly appointed legal representative of his
the payment of the prescribed docket fee but simply contend that they could not be estate.54Non-compliance with the rule on substitution would render the proceedings and
faulted for inadequate assessment because the clerk of court made no notice of demand judgment of the trial court infirm because the court acquires no jurisdiction over the
or reassessment.49 They were in good faith and simply relied on the assessment of the persons of the legal representatives or of the heirs on whom the trial and the judgment
clerk of court. would be binding.55 Thus, proper substitution of heirs must be effected for the trial court
to acquire jurisdiction over their persons and to obviate any future claim by any heir that
Furthermore, the fact that private respondents prayed for payment of damages "in he was not apprised of the litigation against Bertuldo or that he did not authorize Atty.
amounts justified by the evidence" does not call for the dismissal of the complaint for Petalcorin to represent him.
violation of SC Circular No. 7, dated March 24, 1988 which required that all complaints
must specify the amount of damages sought not only in the body of the pleadings but The list of names and addresses of the heirs was submitted sixteen months after the
also in the prayer in order to be accepted and admitted for filing. Sun death of Bertuldo and only when the trial court directed Atty. Petalcorin to comply with the
Insurance effectively modified SC Circular No. 7 by providing that filing fees for damages provisions of Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. Strictly speaking therefore, before
and awards that cannot be estimated constitute liens on the awards finally granted by the said compliance, Atty. Petalcorin had no standing in the court a quo when he filed his
trial court.50

49
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
pleadings. Be that as it may, the matter has been duly corrected by the Order of the trial
court dated October 15, 1999.

To be sure, certiorari under Rule 6556 is a remedy narrow in scope and inflexible in
character. It is not a general utility tool in the legal workshop. 57 It offers only a limited form
of review. Its principal function is to keep an inferior tribunal within its jurisdiction. 58 It can
be invoked only for an error of jurisdiction, that is, one where the act complained of was
issued by the court, officer or a quasi-judicial body without or in excess of jurisdiction, or
with grave abuse of discretion which is tantamount to lack or in excess of
jurisdiction,59 not to be used for any other purpose, 60 such as to cure errors in
proceedings or to correct erroneous conclusions of law or fact. 61 A contrary rule would
lead to confusion, and seriously hamper the administration of justice.

Petitioners utterly failed to show that the trial court gravely abused its discretion in
issuing the assailed resolutions. On the contrary, it acted prudently, in accordance with
law and jurisprudence.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

50
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 136325. July 29, 2005 Respondent thus prayed in his complaint that the special power of attorney, affidavit, the
MANUEL M. SERRANO, Petitioners, vs. EUGENIO C. DELICA, Respondents new titles issued in the names of petitioner and MBJ Land, Inc., and contracts of sale be
cancelled; and that petitioner and his co-defendants be ordered to pay respondent, jointly
At bar is a petition for review on certiorari1 assailing the Decision2 dated September 30, and severally, actual, moral and exemplary damages in the amount of P200,000.00, as
1998 and Resolution dated November 13, 1998 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP well as attorneys fee of P200,000.00 and costs of litigation. Respondent likewise prayed
No. 46632, entitled "Manuel M. Serrano, petitioner, vs. Hon. Alberto L. Lerma, Presiding that, pending trial on the merits, a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary
Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 256, Muntinlupa City, and Eugenio C. Delica, injunction be issued ordering the defendants to immediately restore him to his
respondents. possession of the parcels of land in question; and that after trial, the writ of injunction be
made permanent.
The petition stemmed from the following facts:
Petitioner then filed his answer with compulsory counterclaim, denying the material
On June 30, 1997, Eugenio C. Delica, respondent, filed with the Regional Trial Court, allegations of the complaint.
Branch 256, Muntinlupa City, presided by Judge Alberto L. Lerma, a complaint for
cancellation of Deeds of Sale, Transfer Certificates of Title, Joint Venture Agreement, and Respondent later amended his complaint.
damages, with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and temporary
restraining order, docketed as Civil Case No. 97-120. Impleaded as defendants were On August 5, 1997, the trial court issued a temporary restraining order and
Manuel M. Serrano, now petitioner, Manuel P. Blanco, MBJ Land, Inc., and MARILAQUE on September 8, 1997, a preliminary injunction directing petitioner and his co-
Land, Inc. defendants to immediately restore respondent to his possession.

The complaint alleges inter alia that respondent is the registered owner of ten parcels of Petitioner then filed consolidated motions for reconsideration praying that the complaint
land situated in Bagbagan, Muntinlupa City, with a total area of 2,062,475 square meters, be dismissed for respondents failure to pay the required docket fee; and that Judge
more or less, covered by ten Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. S-12619 to S- Lerma be directed to inhibit himself from hearing the case.
12628 of the Registry of Deeds, same city. On August 10, 1995, after having been
"promised with financial bonanza" by petitioner and Manuel Blanco, respondent executed The trial court, in its Order dated January 7, 1998, denied petitioners consolidated
in favor of the latter a special power of attorney. Blanco then sold to MBJ Land, Inc. motions.
respondents three parcels of land covered by TCT Nos. S-12625, S-12626 and S-12628.
Thus, these titles were cancelled and in lieu thereof, TCT Nos. 207282, 207283 and Petitioner seasonably filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and
207284 were issued in the name of MBJ Land, Inc. prohibition with application for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order
assailing the trial courts twin Orders dated September 8, 1997 ordering the issuance of a
On December 4, 1996, MBJ Land, Inc. entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with writ of preliminary injunction; and denying his consolidated motions dated January 7,
MARILAQUE Land, Inc. involving the three parcels of land. 1998. Petitioner raised three issues: (a) whether respondent paid the correct docket fee;
(b) whether the trial courts issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction is in order; and
On December 23, 1996, petitioner Serrano again "unduly influenced, coerced and (c) whether Judge Lerma should inhibit himself from hearing the case.
intimidated" respondent into executing an affidavit wherein he confirmed that he sold his
remaining seven parcels of land, covered by TCT Nos. S-12619 to S-126124 and S- On September 30, 1998, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision partially
12627, to petitioners. Later, respondent found that these seven titles were cancelled and granting the petition by: (1) affirming the trial courts ruling that the docket fee was
new titles (TCT Nos. 209636 to 209642) were issued in petitioners name based on a correctly paid; (2) setting aside the trial courts Order directing the issuance of a writ of
spurious Deed of Absolute Sale. preliminary injunction; and (3) leaving the matter of inhibition to the discretion of
Judge Lerma.

51
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Petitioner then filed a motion for partial reconsideration of the Court of Appeals ruling We agree with petitioner that the Court of Appeals erred in issuing such ruling. It should
that respondent correctly paid the docket fee and that the motion for inhibition should be have considered the allegations of the complaint and the character of the reliefs
addressed to Judge Lermas sound discretion. sought, the criteria in determining the nature of an action.7

In a Resolution dated November 13, 1998, the Appellate Court denied the motion. A careful examination of respondents complaint is that it is a real action. In Paderanga
vs. Buissan,8 we held that "in a real action, the plaintiff seeks the recovery of real
Hence the instant petition for review on certiorari. property, or, as stated in Section 2(a), Rule 4 of the Revised Rules of Court, 9 a real
action is one affecting title to real property or for the recovery of possession of, or
The core issues for our resolution are: for partition or condemnation of, or foreclosure of a mortgage on a real property."

1. Whether respondent paid the correct docket fee when he filed his complaint in Civil Obviously, respondents complaint is a real action involving not only the recovery of real
Case No. 97-120; and properties, but likewise the cancellation of the titles thereto.

2. Whether the matter of inhibition should be addressed to Judge Lermas discretion. Considering that respondents complaint is a real action, the Rule requires that
"the assessed value of the property, or if there is none, the estimated
On the first issue, we cannot overemphasized the importance of paying the correct value thereof shall be alleged by the claimant and shall be the basis in computing
docket fees. Such fees are intended to take care of court expenses in the handling of the fees."10
cases in terms of cost of supplies, use of equipment, salaries and fringe benefits of
personnel, etc., computed as to man-hours used in the handling of each case. The We note, however, that neither the "assessed value" nor the "estimated value" of the
payment of said fees, therefore, cannot be made dependent on the result of the action questioned parcels of land were alleged by respondent in both his original and amended
taken, without entailing tremendous losses to the government and to the judiciary in complaint. What he stated in his amended complaint is that the disputed realties have a
particular.3 "BIR zonal valuation" of P1,200.00 per square meter. However, the alleged "BIR zonal
valuation" is not the kind of valuation required by the Rule. It is the assessed value of
Thus, the rule is that "upon the filing of the pleading or other application which initiates the realty.11 Having utterly failed to comply with the requirement of the Rule that he shall
an action or proceeding, the fees prescribed therefor shall be paid in full." 4 However, a allege in his complaint the assessed value of his real properties in controversy, the
litigant who is a pauper is exempt from the payment of the docket fees. But the fees shall correct docket fee cannot be computed. As such, his complaint should not have been
be a lien on the judgment rendered in favor of said pauper litigant, unless the court accepted by the trial court. We thus rule that it has not acquired jurisdiction over the
otherwise provides.5 present case for failure of herein respondent to pay the required docket fee. On this
ground alone, respondents complaint is vulnerable to dismissal.
It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the
payment of the prescribed docket fees that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the Since the complaint is dismissible, the second issue on whether Judge Lerma should
subject matter or nature of the action.6 inhibit himself from hearing the case has become moot and academic.

In the case at bar, petitioner impugns the Court of Appeals ruling that respondents WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the
complaint in Civil Case No. 97-120 is not capable of pecuniary estimation and that, Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 46632 are hereby REVERSED. The complaint in
therefore, the docket fee is fixed at P600.00 pursuant to Section 7(b)(1), Rule 141 of the Civil Case No. 97-120 is ordered DISMISSED without prejudice.
Revised Rules of Court.
SO ORDERED.

52
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 165147 July 9, 2008 . . . that after due proceedings, judgment be rendered, ordering [herein petitioners] to
PHILIPPINE FIRST INSURANCE CO., INC. and PARAMOUNT GENERAL comply with their obligation under their respective Insurance Policies by paying to [it]
INSURANCE CORPORATION,Petitioners, vs. PYRAMID LOGISTICS AND TRUCKING jointly and severally, the claims arising from the subject losses.
CORPORATION (formerly PANACOR INTEGRATED WAREHOUSING AND
TRUCKING CORPORATION), Respondent. THAT, [herein petitioners] be adjudged jointly and severally to pay to [it], in addition to the
foregoing, the following:
The issue, in the main, in the present case is whether respondent, Pyramid Logistics and
Trucking Corporation (Pyramid), which filed on November 7, 2001 a 1. The sum of PHP 50,000.00 plus PHP 1,500.00 for each Court session
complaint,1 denominated as one for specific performance and damages, against attended by counsel until the instant [case] is finally terminated, as and
petitioners Philippine First Insurance Company, Inc. (Philippine First) and Paramount for attorneys fees;
General Insurance Corporation (Paramount) before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Makati, docketed as Civil Case No. 01-1609, paid the correct docket fee; if in the 2. The costs of suit[;]3 (Underscoring supplied)
negative, whether the complaint should be dismissed or Pyramid can still be ordered to
pay the fee. and for other reliefs just and equitable in the premises.4

Pyramid sought to recover the proceeds of two insurance policies issued to it, Policy No. Pyramid was assessed P610 docket fee, apparently on the basis of the amount
IN-002904 issued by petitioner Paramount, and Policy No. MN-MCL-HO-00-0000007-00 of P50,000 specified in the prayer representing attorneys fees, which it duly paid. 5
issued by petitioner Philippine First. Despite demands, petitioners allegedly failed to
settle them, hence, it filed the complaint subject of the present petition. Pyramid later filed a 1st Amended Complaint 6 containing minor changes in its body7 but
bearing the same prayer.8Branch 148 of the Makati RTC to which the complaint was
In its complaint, Pyramid alleged that on November 8, 2000, its delivery van bearing raffled admitted the Amended Complaint.9
license plate number PHL-545 which was loaded with goods belonging to California
Manufacturing Corporation (CMC) valued at PESOS NINE HUNDRED SEVEN Petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of, inter alia, lack of jurisdiction,
THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY NINE AND SEVEN/100 (P907,149.07) left the Pyramid not having paid the docket fees in full, arguing thus:
CMC Bicutan Warehouse but the van, together with the goods, failed to reach its
destination and its driver and helper were nowhere to be found, to its damage and
xxxx
prejudice; that it filed a criminal complaint against the driver and the helper for qualified
theft, and a claim with herein petitioners as co-insurers of the lost goods but, in violation
In the body of the Amended Complaint, plaintiff alleged that the goods belonging to
of petitioners undertaking under the insurance policies, they refused without just and
California Manufacturing Co., Inc. (CMC) is [sic] "valued at Php907,149.07" and
valid reasons to compensate it for the loss; and that as a direct consequence of
consequently, "plaintiff incurred expenses, suffered damages and was constrained to
petitioners failure, despite repeated demands, to comply with their respective
engage the services of counsel to enforce and protect its right to recover compensation
undertakings under the Insurance Policies by compensating for the value of the lost
under the said policies and for which services, it obligated itself to pay the sum
goods, it suffered damages and was constrained to engage the services of counsel to
equivalent to twenty-five (25%) of any recovery in the instant action, as and for attorneys
enforce and protect its right to recover compensation under said policies, for which
fees and legal expenses".
services it obligated itself to pay the sum equivalent to twenty-five (25%) of any amount
recovered as and for attorneys fees and legal expenses.2
On the other hand, in the prayer in the Complaint, plaintiff deliberately omitted to specify
what these damages are. x x x
Pyramid thus prayed
xxxx

53
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Verily, this deliberate omission by the plaintiff is clearly intended for no other purposes By Order of June 3, 2002, the trial court20 denied the Motion to Dismiss in this wise:
than to evade the payment of the correct filing fee if not to mislead the docket clerk, in
the assessment of the filing fee. In fact, the docket clerk in the instant case charged the xxxx
plaintiff a total of Php610.00 only as a filing fee, which she must have based on the
amount of Php50,000.00 [attorneys fees] only.10 (Emphasis in the original; italics and Indeed, a perusal of the Complaint reveals that while plaintiff made mention of the value
underscoring supplied) of the goods, which were lost, the prayer of plaintiff did not indicate its exact claim from
the defendants. The Complaint merely prayed defendants "to comply with their obligation
Petitioners cited11 Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals12 which held: under their respective insurance policies by paying to plaintiff jointly and severally, the
claims arising from the subject losses" and did not mention the amount of
x x x [A]ll complaints, petitions, answers and other similar pleadings should specify the PHP907,149.07, which is the value of the goods and which is also the subject of
amount of damages being prayed for not only in the body of the pleading but also in the insurance. This resulted to the assessment and payment of docket fees in the amount of
prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the assessment of the filing fees in any P610 only. The Court, even without the Motion to Dismiss filed by defendant, actually
case. Any pleading that fails to comply with this requirement shall not be accepted or noted such omission which is actually becoming a practice for some lawyers. For
admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the record. 13 (Emphasis and underscoring whatever purpose it may be, the Court will not dwell into it. In this instant case, this being
supplied) for specific performance, it is not dismissible on that ground but unless proper docket
fees are paid, the Court can only grant what was prayed for in the Complaint.
They cited too Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion 14 which held that "[i]t is not simply
the filing of the complaint or appropriate pleading, but the payment of the prescribed x x x x21 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
docket fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject-matter or nature of the
action."15 Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration22 of the denial of their Motion to Dismiss having
been denied23 by Order of August 1, 2002, they filed their Answer with Compulsory
Petitioners thus concluded: Counterclaim ad Cautelam,24 alleging that they intended to file a Petition for Certiorari
with the Court of Appeals.25
With the above cases as a backdrop, the Supreme Court, in revising the rules of
pleading and practice in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, added a tenth ground to a Petitioners did indeed eventually file before the Court of Appeals a Petition for Certiorari
Motion to Dismiss to wit, "[t]hat a condition precedent for filing claim [sic] has not been (With Preliminary Injunction and Urgent Prayer for Restraining Order) 26 posing the
complied with.["] following two of three queries, viz:

On the contrary, if plaintiff would insist that its claim against the defendants is only First. Does [Pyramids] deliberate omission to pay the required correct docket and filing
Php50,000.00 plus Php 1,500.00 as appearance fee per court hearing, then it follows fee vest the trial court [with] jurisdiction to entertain the subject matter of the instant
that it is the Metropolitan Trial Court which has jurisdiction over this case, not this case?
Honorable Court. Such amount is way below the minimum jurisdictional amount
prescribed by the rules in order to confer jurisdiction to the Regional Trial Second. [Is] the instant case an action for specific performance or simply one for
Court.16 (Underscoring supplied) damages or recovery of a sum of money?

To the Motion to Dismiss Pyramid filed its Opposition, 17 alleging that if there was a x x x x27
mistake in the assessment of the docket fees, the trial court was not precluded from
acquiring jurisdiction over the complaint as "it has the authority to direct the mistaken By Decision of June 3, 2004, 28 the Court of Appeals partially granted petitioners petition
party to complete the docket fees in the course of the proceedings . . ."18 The Opposition for certiorari by setting aside the trial judges assailed orders and ordering Pyramid to file
merited a Reply19 from petitioners. the correct docket fees within a reasonable time, it holding that while the complaint was
54
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
denominated as one for specific performance, it sought to recover from petitioners WHEREFORE, the petition is partially granted. The Orders dated June 3, 2002 and
Pyramids "claims arising from the subject losses." The appellate court ratiocinated: August 1, 2002 of public respondent are partially set aside insofar as they dispensed with
the payment of the correct docket fees. Consequently, [Pyramid] is hereby directed to
xxxx pay the correct docket fees on the basis of the losses alleged in the body of the
complaint, plus the attorneys fees mentioned in the prayer, within a reasonable time
Indeed, it has been held that "it is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate which should not go beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period. In all
initiatory pleading, but the payment of the prescribed docket fee that vests a trial court other respects, the said Orders are affirmed.31(Underscoring supplied)
with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action." To determine the docket
fees, it is necessary to determine the true nature of the action by examining the Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration32 of the appellate courts decision. Pyramid
allegations of the complaint. x x x filed its Comment and Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration, 33 arguing thus:

xxxx xxxx

While the captions of the complaint and 1st amended complaint denominated the case In the present case, [Pyramid] thru its Complaint simply sought from petitioners
as one for "Specific Performance and Damages", the allegations and prayer therein compliance with their contractual undertaking as insurers of the goods insured which
show that the specific performance sought by private respondent was for petitioners to were lost in [its] custody. Private respondent did not specify the extent of petitioners
"comply with their obligation under their respective Insurance Policies by paying to obligation as it left the matter entirely in the judgment of the trial court to consider. Thus,
plaintiff jointly and severally, the claims arising from the subject losses" as well as the the Complaint was labeled "Specific Performance" which [Pyramid] submitted to the
attorneys fees and costs of suit. Obviously, what constitutes specific performance is the Clerk of Court for assessment of the docket fee, after which, it paid the same based on
payment itself by petitioners of private respondents claims arising from the losses it the said assessment. There was no indication whatsoever that [Pyramid] had refused to
allegedly incurred. x x x29 pay; rather, it merely argued against petitioners submissions as it maintained the
correctness of the assessment made.34 (Underscoring supplied)
xxxx
By Resolution of August 23, 2004, the Court of Appeals denied petitioners Motion for
Public respondent should have ordered private respondent to pay the correct docket Reconsideration;35 hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari, 36 raising the
fees on the basis of the allegations of the complaint. x x x issues of whether the appellate court erred:

xxxx . . . WHEN IT APPLIED IN THE INSTANT CASE THE LIBERAL RULE ENUNCIATED IN
SUN INSURANCE OFFICE, LTD. (SIOL) VS. ASUNCION, 170 SCRA 274 AND
While it has been held in Manchester Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals x x NATIONAL STEEL CORPORATION VS. COURT OF APPEALS, 302 SCRA 523 (1999)
x that "any pleading that fails to comply with this requirement of specifying the amount of IN RESPECT TO THE PAYMENT OF THE PRESCRIBED FILING AND DOCKET
damages not only in the body of the pleading but also in the prayer shall not be accepted FEES DESPITE CLEAR SHOWING OF RESPONDENTS INTENTION TO EVADE THE
nor admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the record," this rule was relaxed in PAYMENT OF THE CORRECT DOCKET FEE WHICH WARRANTS THE APPLICATION
subsequent cases, wherein payment of the correct docket fees was allowed within a OF THE DOCTRINE LAID DOWN IN MANCHESTER DEVELOPMENT
reasonable time. . . CORPORATION VS. COURT OF APPEALS, 149 SCRA 562.

x x x x30 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) . . . WHEN IT DID NOT APPLY THE RULING OF THIS HONORABLE TRIBUNAL IN
MARCOPPER MINING CORPORATION VS. GARCIA, 143 SCRA 178, TAN VS.
Thus the appellate court disposed: DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, 125 SCRA 302, AND CHINA ROAD AND BRIDGE
CORPORATION VS. COURT OF APPEALS, 348 SCRA 401. 37 (Underscoring supplied)

55
CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Petitioners invoke the doctrine in Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of In this event the rule is that the pleading will "not be accepted nor admitted, or shall
Appeals38 that a pleading which does not specify in the prayer the amount sought shall otherwise be expunged from the record." In other words, the complaint or pleading may
not be admitted or shall otherwise be expunged, and that the court acquires jurisdiction be dismissed, or the claims as to which amounts are unspecified may be expunged,
only upon the payment of the prescribed docket fee. 39 although as aforestated the Court may, on motion, permit amendment of the complaint
and payment of the fees provided the claim has not in the meantime become time-
Pyramid, on the other hand, insists, in its Comment on the Petition, 40 on the application of barred. The other is where the pleading does specify the amount of every claim, but the
Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) v. Asuncion 41 and subsequent rulings relaxing the fees paid are insufficient; and here again, the rule now is that the court may allow a
Manchester ruling by allowing payment of the docket fee within a reasonable time, in no reasonable time for the payment of the prescribed fees, or the balance thereof, and upon
case beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period, where the filing of the such payment, the defect is cured and the court may properly take cognizance of the
initiatory pleading is not accompanied by the payment of the prescribed docket fee. 42 action, unless in the meantime prescription has set in and consequently barred the right
of action.45 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
In Tacay v. Regional Trial Court of Tagum, Davao del Norte, 43 the Court clarified the effect
of the Sun Insurance ruling on the Manchester ruling as follows: Indeed, Pyramid captioned its complaint as one for "specific performance and damages"
even if it was, as the allegations in its body showed, seeking in the main the collection of
As will be noted, the requirement in Circular No. 7 [of this Court which was issued based its claims-sums of money representing losses the amount of which it, by its own
on the Manchester ruling 44 ] that complaints, petitions, answers, and similar pleadings admission, "knew."46 And, indeed, it failed to specify in its prayer in the complaint the
should specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the body of the amount of its claims/damages.
pleading but also in the prayer, has not been altered. What has been revised is the rule
that subsequent "amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest When Pyramid amended its complaint, it still did not specify, in its prayer, the amount of
jurisdiction in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based on the amount claims/damages it was seeking. In fact it has the audacity to inform this Court, in its
sought in the amended pleading," the trial court now being authorized to allow payment Comment on the present Petition, that
of the fee within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive
period or reglementary period. Moreover, a new rule has been added, governing the x x x In the natural order of things, when a litigant is given the opportunity to spend less
awards of claims not specified in the pleading i.e., damages arising after the filing of for a docket fee after submitting his pleading for assessment by the Office of the Clerk of
the complaint or similar pleading as to which the additional filing fee therefore shall Court, he would not decline it inasmuch as to request for a higher assessment under the
constitute a lien on the judgment. circumstances [for such] is against his interest and would be senseless. Placed under
the same situation, petitioner[s] would certainly do likewise. To say otherwise would
Now, under the Rules of Court, docket or filing fees are assessed on the basis of the certainly be dishonest,47
"sum claimed," on the one hand, or the "value of the property in litigation or the value of
the estate," on the other. . . which comment drew petitioners to conclude as follows:

Where the action is purely for the recovery of money or damages, the docket fees are [This] only shows respondents dishonesty and lack of regard of the rules. Following this
assessed on the basis of the aggregate amount claimed, exclusive only of interests and line of reasoning, respondent would do everything if only for it to spend less for the filing
costs. In this case, the complaint or similar pleading should, according to Circular No. 7 fee, even to the extent of circumventing and defying the rule on the payment of the filing
of this Court, "specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the body of fee.
the pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the
assessment of filing fees in any case." In spite of the fact that the respondent was already caught in the quagmire of its own
cobweb of deception, it further justified its unethical act by ratiocinating that "placed
Two situations may arise. One is where the complaint or similar pleading sets out a claim under the same situation, petitioner would certainly do likewise, to say otherwise would
purely for money and damages and there is no statement of the amounts being claimed. certainly be dishonest". This attitude of the respondent is very alarming! Having been

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
caught red-handed, the honorable thing that respondent should have done is admit its x x x While it is true that the determination of certain damages x x x is left to the sound
own violation rather than justify an act which it knows is a clear contravention of the rules discretion of the court, it is the duty of the parties claiming such damages to
and jurisprudence.48 (Italics and emphasis in the original) specify the amount sought on the basis of which the court may make a proper
determination, and for the proper assessment of the appropriate docket fees.
Pyramids following justification for omitting to specify in the prayer of its complaint the The exception contemplated as to claims not specified or to claims although specified
amount of its claims/damages, viz: are left for determination of the court is limited only to any damages that may
arise after the filing of the complaint or similar pleading for then it will not be possible for
xxxx the claimant to specify nor speculate as to the amount thereof. (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)
x x x While respondent knew its losses and alleged them in the body of the Complaint, it
was not aware of the extent of petitioners respective liability under the two If respondent Pyramids counsel had only been forthright in drafting the complaint and
insurance policies. The allegation of respondents losses, albeit, without repeating them taking the cudgels for his client and the trial judge assiduous in applying Circular No. 7
in its prayer for relief was not motivated by an intention to mislead, cheat or defraud the vis a vis prevailing jurisprudence, the precious time of this Court, as well as of that of the
Court. It just left the matter of liability arising from two separate and distinct Insurance appellate court, would not have been unnecessarily sapped.
Policies covering the same insurable risk for the trial courts determination, hence,
respondent came up with an action for "specific performance[,]" 49 (Emphasis and The Court at this juncture thus reminds Pyramids counsel to observe Canon 12 of the
underscoring supplied) Code of Professional Ethics which enjoins a lawyer to "exert every effort and consider it
his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice," and Rule 12.04 of
fails to impress. the same Canon which enjoins a lawyer "not [to] unduly delay a case, impede the
execution of a judgment or misuse court processes." And the Court reminds too the trial
As the salient allegations of Pyramids complaint show and as priorly stated, they judge to bear in mind that the nature of an action is determined by the allegations of the
constitute, in the main, an action for collection of its claims it admittedly "knew." pleadings51 and to keep abreast of all laws and prevailing jurisprudence, consistent with
the standard that magistrates must be the embodiments of competence, integrity and
Assuming arguendo that Pyramid has other claims the amounts of which are yet to be independence.52
determined by the trial court, the rule established in Manchester which was embodied in
this Courts Circular No. 7-88 issued on March 24, 1988, as modified by the Sun WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing discussions, the petition is DENIED.
Insurance ruling, still applies. Consider this Courts pronouncement bearing on the matter
in Ayala Corporation v. Madayag:50 1awphil
SO ORDERED.

xxxx

Apparently, the trial court misinterpreted paragraph 3 of the [Sun Insurance] ruling of this
Court wherein it stated that "where the judgment awards a claim not specified in the
pleading, or if specified, the same has been left for the determination of the court, the
additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment" by considering it to
mean that where in the body and prayer of the complaint there is a prayer xxx the
amount of which is left to the discretion of the Court, there is no need to specify the
amount being sought, and that any award thereafter shall constitute a lien on the
judgment.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 181842 February 5, 2010 3. To pay the plaintiff the would be unrealized income for the ensuing idle
METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST CO. and SOLIDBANK months of said building amounting to P7,126,494.30 (covering April 2006 until
CORPORATION, Petitioners, vs. BERNARDITA H. PEREZ, represented by her expiration of the contract of lease);
Attorney-in-Fact PATRIA H. PEREZ, Respondent.
4. To pay plaintiff the amount of P200,000.00 as moral damages;
On September 17, 1997, petitioner Solidbank Corporation (Solidbank) forged a lease
contract with Bernardita H. Perez (respondent), represented by her attorney-in-fact Patria 5. To pay plaintiff the amount of P100,000.00 as exemplary damages;
H. Perez1, over two parcels of land located in Sta. Maria, Bulacan for a period of 15 years
commencing on January 1, 1998. Solidbank was to, as it did, construct a one-storey 6. To pay plaintiff the amount of P100,000.00 as attorneys fees and
building specifically suited for bank premises.
7. To pay plaintiff as litigation expenses.
Solidbank was later acquired by its co-petitioner Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company
(Metrobank), the latter as the surviving entity. SO ORDERED.4 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

On September 24, 2002, Metrobank sent a notice of termination of the lease contract On appeal, Metrobank challenged, in the main, the trial courts award of "unrealized
effective September 30, 2002.2 Respondent, objecting to the termination, filed a income for the ensuing idle months" despite respondents failure to pay docket fees
complaint for breach of contract and damages against herein petitioners Solidbank and thereon to thus render the complaint dismissible for lack of jurisdiction.
Metrobank before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan praying that, inter
alia, herein petitioners be ordered to pay her "the would be unrealized income for the By Decision5 of November 23, 2007, the appellate court affirmed that of the trial
ensuing idle months of the said building."3 court6 and denied, by Resolution of February 21, 2008, a reconsideration thereof. Hence,
the present petition for review on certiorari.
Metrobank asserted in its Answer with Counterclaim, however, that the lease contract did
not prohibit pre-termination by the parties. In her Comment, respondent admitted that the filing fees she paid did not cover her
prayer for unrealized income for the ensuing idle months, for "at the time of filing and
After respondent rested her case, Metrobank was, by Order of January 12, 2006, payment[,] the period that the building would be idle could not yet be determined."7
declared to have waived its right to present evidence after its counsel incurred several
unexcused absences. In sustaining respondents justification for nonpayment of additional docket fees, the
appellate court held:
By Decision of April 5, 2006, Branch 22 of the Malolos RTC ruled in favor of respondent,
disposing as follows: For one, plaintiff-appellee Perez could not have been certain at the time she filed
the Complaint that defendant-appellant Metrobank would no longer return to the Leased
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of Property. It would have been speculative therefore on the part of plaintiff-appellee Perez
the plaintiff and against the defendants ordering the latter, jointly and severally: to allege in her Complaint any unrealized income for the remaining period of the Lease
Contract considering that the possibility of defendant-appellant Metrobank reconsidering
1. To pay the plaintiff the amount of P212,322.60 as unrealized income before the its decision to terminate the said Lease Contract and returning to the Leased Property at
filing of the case (Sept. 2002 to Feb. 2003); some future time was not definitively foreclosed when the Complaint was filed. In light of
her predicament, plaintiff-appellee Perez was thus justified in just making a general
2. To pay the plaintiff the amount of P2,013,753.03 as unrealized (income) after prayer for the court a quo to award unrealized income for the "ensuing idle months" of
the filing of the case up to present (March 2003 to March 2006); the Leased Property.8 (italics in the original; underscoring supplied)

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
The petition is partly meritorious. Metrobank raised the issue of jurisdiction only before the appellate court after it and its
co-petitioner participated in the proceedings before the trial court. While lack of
In Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals,9 the Court held that a jurisdiction may be raised at any time, a party may be held in estoppel if, as in the
pleading which does not specify in the prayer the amount sought shall not be admitted or present case, it has actively taken part in the proceedings being questioned.
shall be expunged, and that a court acquires jurisdiction only upon payment of the
prescribed docket fee. This rule was relaxed in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. The foregoing disposition notwithstanding, respondent is liable for the balance between
Asuncion10 which was echoed in the 2005 case of Heirs of Bertuldo Hinog v. Melico, the the actual fees paid and the correct payable filing fees to include an assessment on the
pertinent portion of the decision in the latter case reads: award of unrealized income, following Section 2 of Rule 141 which provides:

Plainly, while the payment of prescribed docket fee is a jurisdictional requirement, even SEC. 2. Fees in lien. Where the court in its final judgment awards a claim not alleged,
its non-payment at the time of filing does not automatically cause the dismissal of the or a relief different from, or more than that claimed in the pleading, the party concerned
case, as long as the fee is paid within the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period, shall pay the additional fees which shall constitute a lien on the judgment in satisfaction
more so when the party involved demonstrates a willingness to abide by the rules of said lien. The clerk of court shall assess and collect the corresponding fee
prescribing such payment. Thus, when insufficient filing fees were initially paid by the (underscoring supplied),
plaintiffs and there was no intention to defraud the government, the Manchester rule
does not apply.11 (emphasis and underscoring supplied) and jurisprudence, viz:

Metrobank takes exception to the application of Sun Insurance Office to the present case The exception contemplated as to claims not specified or to claims although specified
because, by its claim, respondent deliberately concealed the insufficient payment of are left for determination of the court is limited only to any damages that may arise after
docket fees. the filing of the complaint or similar pleading for then it will not be possible for the
claimant to specify nor speculate as to the amount thereof. 14 (emphasis and underscoring
Metrobanks position fails. The ensuing months in which the leased premises would be supplied)
rendered vacant could not be determined at the time of the filing of the complaint. It
bears recalling that the building constructed on respondents leased premises was A word on the grant of moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees.
specifically constructed to house a bank, hence, the idle period before another occupant
with like business may opt to lease would be difficult to project. The Court notes that respondents witness-attorney-in-fact testified only on the existence
of the lease agreement and unrealized income due to pre-termination. Since an award of
On Metrobanks raising the issue of lack of jurisdiction over the complaint for moral damages is predicated on a categorical showing from the claimant that emotional
respondents failure to pay the correct docket fees, apropos is the ruling in National Steel and mental sufferings were actually experienced, absent any evidence thereon in the
Corporation v. Court of Appeals: 12 present case,15 the award must be disallowed. And so too must the award of attorneys
fees, absent an indication in the trial courts Decision of the factual basis thereof, the
Although the payment of the proper docket fees is a jurisdictional requirement, the trial award having been merely stated in the dispositive portion. 16 Parenthetically, while
court may allow the plaintiff in an action to pay the same within a reasonable time before respondent prayed in her complaint for the award of attorneys fees and testified during
the expiration of the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period. If the plaintiff fails to the trial that:
comply with this requirement, the defendant should timely raise the issue of jurisdiction
or else he would be considered in estoppel. In the latter case, the balance between the Q: Now, in connection with the filing of this case and hiring your lawyer, do you
appropriate docket fees and the amount actually paid by the plaintiff will be considered a have agreement with your counsel with respect to attorneys fees?
lien on any award he may obtain in his favor.13 (emphasis and underscoring supplied) 1avvph!1

A: P100,000.00 acceptance fees.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Q: What about appearance fees?

A: I forgot already, sir.,17

there is no showing that she submitted any documentary evidence in support thereof.

WHEREFORE, the petition is in part GRANTED. The November 23, 2007 Decision of
the Court of Appeals is MODIFIED. The Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of
Malolos, Bulacan is ordered to reassess, determine and collect additional fees that
should be paid by respondent within fifteen (15) days, in accordance with the foregoing
discussion of the Court, provided the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period has
not

yet expired, which additional fees shall constitute a lien on the judgment in satisfaction of
said lien. The award of moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees is DELETED.

In all other respects, the appellate courts Decision is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 89070 May 18, 1992 During the period from 28 July to 25 September 1984, the respondent Beneco Board
BENGUET ELECTRlC COOPERATIVE, INC., petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR members adopted another series of resolutions which resulted in the ouster of
RELATIONS COMMISSION, PETER COSALAN and BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF respondent Cosalan as General Manager of Beneco and his exclusion from performance
BENGUET ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC., * respondents. of his regular duties as such, as well as the withholding of his salary and allowances.
These resolutions were as follows:
Private respondent Peter Cosalan was the General Manager of Petitioner Benguet
Electric Cooperative, Inc. ("Beneco"), having been elected as such by the Board of 1. Resolution No. 91-4 dated 28 July 1984:
Directors of Beneco, with the approval of the National Electrification Administrator, Mr.
Pedro Dumol, effective 16 October 1982. . . . that the services of Peter M. Cosalan as General Manager of
BENECO is terminated upon approval of the National Electrification
On 3 November 1982, respondent Cosalan received Audit Memorandum No. 1 issued by Administration;
the Commission on Audit ("COA"). This Memorandum noted that cash advances
received by officers and employees of petitioner Beneco in the amount of P129,618.48 2. Resolution No. 151-84 dated September 15, 1984;
had been virtually written off in the books of Beneco. In the Audit Memorandum, the COA
directed petitioner Beneco to secure the approval of the National Electrification . . . that Peter M. Cosalan is hereby suspended from his position as
Administration ("NEA") before writing off or condoning those cash advances, and General Manager of the Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BENECO)
recommended the adoption of remedial measures. effective as of the start of the office hours on September 24, 1984, until a
final decision has been reached by the NEA on his dismissal;
On 12 November 1982, COA issued another Memorandum Audit Memorandum No. 2
addressed to respondent Peter Cosalan, inviting attention to the fact that the audit . . . that GM Cosalan's suspension from office shall remain in full force
of per diems and allowances received by officials and members of the Board of Directors and effect until such suspension is sooner lifted, revoked or rescinded by
of Beneco showed substantial inconsistencies with the directives of the NEA. The Audit the Board of Directors; that all monies due him are withheld until cleared;
Memorandum once again directed the taking of immediate action in conformity with
existing NEA regulations. 3. Resolution No. 176-84 dated September 25, 1984;

On 19 May 1983, petitioner Beneco received the COA Audit Report on the financial . . . that Resolution No. 151-84, dated September 15, 1984 stands as
status and operations of Beneco for the eight (8) month period ended 30 September preventive suspension for GM Peter M. Cosalan. 1
1982. This Audit Report noted and enumerated irregularities in the utilization of funds
amounting to P37 Million released by NEA to Beneco, and recommended that Respondent Cosalan nevertheless continued to work as General Manager of Beneco, in
appropriate remedial action be taken. the belief that he could be suspended or removed only by duly authorized officials of
NEA, in accordance with provisions of P.D. No, 269, as amended by P.D. No. 1645 (the
Having been made aware of the serious financial condition of Beneco and what statute creating the NEA, providing for its capitalization, powers and functions and
appeared to be mismanagement, respondent Cosalan initiated implementation of the organization), the loan agreement between NEA and petitioner Beneco 2 and the NEA
remedial measures recommended by the COA. The respondent members of the Board Memorandum of 2 July 1980. 3 Accordingly, on 5 October and 10 November 1984,
of Beneco reacted by adopting a series of resolutions during the period from 23 June to respondent Cosalan requested petitioner Beneco to release the compensation due him.
24 July 1984. These Board Resolutions abolished the housing allowance of respondent Beneco, acting through respondent Board members, denied the written request of respondent
Cosalan; reduced his salary and his representation and commutable allowances; Cosalan.
directed him to hold in abeyance all pending personnel disciplinary actions; and struck
his name out as a principal signatory to transactions of petitioner Beneco. Respondent Cosalan then filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations
Commission ("NLRC") on 5 December 1984 against respondent members of the Beneco

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Board, challenging the legality of the Board resolutions which ordered his suspension We consider that petitioner's first contention is meritorious. There is no dispute about the
and termination from the service and demanding payment of his salaries and allowances. fact that the respondent Beneco Board members received the decision of the labor
On 18 February 1985, Cosalan amended his complaint to implead petitioner Beneco and Arbiter on 21 April 1988. Accordingly, and because 1 May 1988 was a legal holiday, they
respondent Board members, the latter in their respective dual capacities as Directors and had only up to 2 May 1988 within which to perfect their appeal by filing their
as private individuals. memorandum on appeal. It is also not disputed that the respondent Board members'
memorandum on appeal was posted by registered mail on 3 May 1988 and received by
In the course of the proceedings before the Labor Arbiter, Cosalan filed a motion for the NLRC the following day. 4 Clearly, the memorandum on appeal was filed out of time.
reinstatement which, although opposed by petitioner Beneco, was granted on 23 October
1987 by Labor Arbiter Amado T. Adquilen. Petitioner Beneco complied with the Labor Respondent Board members, however, insist that their Memorandum on Appeal was filed
Arbiter's order on 28 October 1987 through Resolution No. 10-90. on time because it was delivered for mailing on 1 May 1988 to the Garcia
Communications Company, a licensed private letter carrier. The Board members in effect
On 5 April 1988, the Labor Arbiter rendered a decision (a) confirming Cosalan's contend that the date of delivery to Garcia Communications was the date of filing of their
reinstatement; (b) ordering payment to Cosalan of his backwages and allowances by appeal memorandum.
petitioner Beneco and respondent Board members, jointly and severally, for a period of
three (3) years without deduction or qualification, amounting to P344,000.00; and (3) Respondent Board member's contention runs counter to the established rule that
ordering the individual Board members to pay, jointly and severally, to Cosalan moral transmission through a private carrier or letter-forwarder instead of the Philippine Post
damages of P50,000.00 plus attorney's fees of ten percent (10%) of the wages and Office is not a recognized mode of filing pleadings. 5The established rule is that the date
allowances awarded him. of delivery of pleadings to a private letter-forwarding agency is not to be considered as the
date of filing thereof in court, and that in such cases, the date of actual receipt by the court,
Respondent Board members appealed to the NLRC, and there filed a Memorandum on and not the date of delivery to the private carrier, is deemed the date of filing of that
Appeal. Petitioner Beneco did not appeal, but moved to dismiss the appeal filed by pleading. 6
respondent Board members and for execution of judgment. By this time, petitioner
Beneco had a new set of directors. There, was, therefore, no reason grounded upon substantial justice and the prevention of
serious miscarriage of justice that might have justified the NLRC in disregarding the ten-
In a decision dated 21 November 1988, public respondent NLRC modified the award day reglementary period for perfection of an appeal by the respondent Board members.
rendered by the Labor Arbiter by declaring that petitioner Beneco alone, and not Accordingly, the applicable rule was that the ten-day reglementary period to perfect an
respondent Board members, was liable for respondent Cosalan's backwages and appeal is mandatory and jurisdictional in nature, that failure to file an appeal within the
allowances, and by ruling that there was no legal basis for the award of moral damages reglementary period renders the assailed decision final and executory and no longer
and attorney's fees made by the Labor Arbiter. subject to review. 7 The respondent Board members had thus lost their right to appeal from
the decision of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC should have forthwith dismissed their appeal
memorandum.
Beneco, through its new set of directors, moved for reconsideration of the NLRC
decision, but without success.
There is another and more compelling reason why the respondent Board members'
appeal should have been dismissed forthwith: that appeal was quite bereft of merit. Both
In the present Petition for Certiorari, Beneco's principal contentions are two-fold: first,
the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC had found that the indefinite suspension and termination
that the NLRC had acted with grave abuse of discretion in accepting and giving due
of services imposed by the respondent Board members upon petitioner Cosalan was
course to respondent Board members' appeal although such appeal had been filed out of
illegal. That illegality flowed, firstly, from the fact that the suspension of Cosalan was
time; and second, that the NLRC had acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to
continued long after expiration of the period of thirty (30) days, which is the maximum
lack of jurisdiction in holding petitioner alone liable for payment of the backwages and
period of preventive suspension that could be lawfully imposed under Section 4, Rule
allowances due to Cosalan and releasing respondent Board members from liability
XIV of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code. Secondly, Cosalan had been
therefor.
deprived of procedural due process by the respondent Board members. He was never
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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
informed of the charges raised against him and was given no opportunity to meet those The applicable general rule is clear enough. The Board members and officers of a
charges and present his side of whatever dispute existed; he was kept totally in the dark corporation who purport to act for and in behalf of the corporation, keep within the lawful
as to the reason or reasons why he had been suspended and effectively dismissed from scope of their authority in so acting, and act in good faith, do not become liable, whether
the service of Beneco Thirdly, respondent Board members failed to adduce any cause civilly or otherwise, for the consequences of their acts, Those acts, when they are such a
which could reasonably be regarded as lawful cause for the suspension and dismissal of nature and are done under such circumstances, are properly attributed to the corporation
respondent Cosalan from his position as General Manager of Beneco. Cosalan was, in alone and no personal liability is incurred by such officers and Board members. 9
other words, denied due process both procedural and substantive. Fourthly, respondent
Board members failed to obtain the prior approval of the NEA of their suspension now The major difficulty with the conclusion reached by the NLRC is that the NLRC clearly
dismissal of Cosalan, which prior approval was required, inter alia, under the subsisting overlooked or disregarded the circumstances under which respondent Board members
loan agreement between the NEA and Beneco. The requisite NEA approval was had in fact acted in the instant case. As noted earlier, the respondent Board members
subsequently sought by the respondent Board members; no NEA approval was granted. responded to the efforts of Cosalan to take seriously and implement the Audit
Memoranda issued by the COA explicitly addressed to the petitioner Beneco, first by
In reversing the decision of the Labor Arbiter declaring petitioner Beneco and respondent stripping Cosalan of the privileges and perquisites attached to his position as General
Board members solidarily liable for the salary, allowances, damages and attorney's fees Manager, then by suspending indefinitely and finally dismissing Cosalan from such
awarded to respondent Cosalan, the NLRC said: position. As also noted earlier, respondent Board members offered no suggestion at all of
any just or lawful cause that could sustain the suspension and dismissal of Cosalan.
. . . A perusal of the records show that the members of the Board never acted in They obviously wanted to get rid of Cosalan and so acted, in the words of the NLRC
their individual capacities. They were acting as a Board passing resolutions itself, "with indecent haste" in removing him from his position and denying him
affecting their general manager. If these resolutions and resultant acts substantive and procedural due process. Thus, the record showed strong indications that
transgressed the law, to then BENECO for which the Board was acting in behalf respondent Board members had illegally suspended and dismissed Cosalan precisely
should bear responsibility. The records do not disclose that the individual Board because he was trying to remedy the financial irregularities and violations of NEA
members were motivated by malice or bad faith, rather, it reveals an intramural regulations which the COA had brought to the attention of Beneco. The conclusion
power play gone awry and misapprehension of its own rules and regulations. For reached by the NLRC that "the records do not disclose that the individual Board
this reason, the decision holding the individual board members jointly and members were motivated by malice or bad faith" flew in the face of the evidence of
severally liable with BENECO for Cosalan's backwages is untenable. The same record. At the very least, a strong presumption had arisen, which it was incumbent upon
goes for the award of damages which does not have the proverbial leg to stand respondent Board members to disprove, that they had acted in reprisal against
on. respondent Cosalan and in an effort to suppress knowledge about and remedial
measures against the financial irregularities the COA Audits had unearthed. That burden
The Labor Arbiter below should have heeded his own observation in his decision respondent Board members did not discharge.

The Solicitor General has urged that respondent Board members may be held liable for
Respondent BENECO as an artificial person could not have, by itself, damages under the foregoing circumstance under Section 31 of the Corporation Code
done anything to prevent it. But because the former have acted while in which reads as follows:
office and in the course of their official functions as directors of BENECO,
... Sec. 31. Liability of directors, trustees or officers. Directors or trustees who
willfully and knowingly vote for or assent to patently unlawful acts of the
Thus, the decision of the Labor Arbiter should be modified conformably with all corporation or who are guilty of gross negligence or bad faith in directing the
the foregoing holding BENECO solely liable for backwages and releasing the affairs of the corporation or acquire any personal or pecuniary interest in conflict
appellant board members from any individual liabilities. 8 (Emphasis supplied) with their duty as such directors or trustees shall be jointly liable and severally for
all damages resulting therefrom suffered by the corporation, its stockholders or
members and other persons . . . (Emphasis supplied)
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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
We agree with the Solicitor General, firstly, that Section 31 of the Corporation Code is WHEREFORE, the Petition for Certiorari is GIVEN DUE COURSE, the comment filed by
applicable in respect of Beneco and other electric cooperatives similarly situated. Section respondent Board members is TREATED as their answer, and the decision of the
4 of the Corporation Code renders the provisions of that Code applicable in a National Labor Relations Commission dated 21 November 1988 in NLRC Case No.
supplementary manner to all corporations, including those with special or individual RAB-1-0313-84 is hereby SET ASIDE and the decision dated 5 April 1988 of Labor
charters so long as those provisions are not inconsistent with such charters. We find no Arbiter Amado T. Adquilen hereby REINSTATED in toto. In addition, respondent Board
provision in P.D. No. 269, as amended, that would exclude expressly or by necessary members are hereby ORDERED to reimburse petitioner Beneco any amounts that it may
implication the applicability of Section 31 of the Corporation Code in respect of members be compelled to pay to respondent Cosalan by virtue of the decision of Labor Arbiter
of the boards of directors of electric cooperatives. Indeed, P.D. No. 269 expressly Amado T. Adquilen. No pronouncement as to costs.
describes these cooperatives as "corporations:"
SO ORDERED.
Sec. 15. Organization and Purpose. Cooperative non-stock, non-profit
membership corporations may be organized, and electric cooperative
corporations heretofore formed or registered under the Philippine non-
Agricultural Co-operative Act may as hereinafter provided be converted, under
this Decree for the purpose of supplying, and of promoting and encouraging-the
fullest use of, service on an area coverage basis at the lowest cost consistent
with sound economy and the prudent management of the business of such
corporations. 10 (Emphasis supplied)

We agree with the Solicitor General, secondly, that respondent Board members were
guilty of "gross negligence or bad faith in directing the affairs of the corporation" in
enacting the series of resolutions noted earlier indefinitely suspending and dismissing
respondent Cosalan from the position of General Manager of Beneco. Respondent
Board members, in doing so, acted belong the scope of their authority as such Board
members. The dismissal of an officer or employee in bad faith, without lawful cause and
without procedural due process, is an act that is contra legem. It cannot be supposed
that members of boards of directors derive any authority to violate the express mandates
of law or the clear legal rights of their officers and employees by simply purporting to act
for the corporation they control.

We believe and so hold, further, that not only are Beneco and respondent Board
members properly held solidarily liable for the awards made by the Labor Arbiter, but also
that petitioner Beneco which was controlled by and which could act only through
respondent Board members, has a right to be reimbursed for any amounts that Beneco
may be compelled to pay to respondent Cosalan. Such right of reimbursement is
essential if the innocent members of Beneco are not to be penalized for the acts of
respondent Board members which were both done in bad faith and ultra vires. The
liability-generating acts here are the personal and individual acts of respondent Board
members, and are not properly attributed to Beneco itself.

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G.R. No. L-27331 : July 30, 1981 The Offended Parties and the Witnesses, except Sgt. Pates, were represented by the
ELISEO ALIMPOOS, CIRIACA ALIMPOOS, SGT. MILLARDO M. PATES, PEDRO law firm of Seno, Mendoza and Associates, with offices located in Cebu City. They
BACLAY, CATALINO YAMILO, RAFAEL CAPANGPANGAN, DALMACIO YGOT and contended that they had nothing to do with the Accuseds detention and arrest. The
EUFROCINA ESTORES, Petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, Municipal Judge, the Chief of Police, and Patrolmen Libres and Galimba, who were
HONORABLE JUDGE MONTANO A. ORTIZ, REYNALDO MOSQUITO and MATILDE represented by the Acting Provincial Fiscal of Butuan City, alleged that the Warrant of
ABASTILLAS MOSQUITO, Respondents. Arrest was validly issued. Sgt. Pates was represented by Capt. Igualdad Cunanan, and
reiterated substantially the same defense.
Petitioner-spouses, Eliseo Alimpoos and Ciriaca Alimpoos, shall hereinafter be called the After due hearing in the Habeas Corpus case, respondent Trial Judge issued the
Offended Parties. Petitioners Pedro Baclay, Catalino Yamilo, Rafael Capangpangan, appealed Order cranad(the ORDER, for short), dated March 26, 1966, declaring the
Dalmacio Ygot, Eufrocina Estores and Sgt. Millardo M. Pates may hereinafter be referred detention of the Accused illegal and granting the Writ of Habeas Corpus as well as the
to as the Witnesses. Preliminary Injunction prayed for upon the filing of the required bond. The dispositive
portion of the ORDER reads:
Respondent Reynaldo Mosquito will hereinafter be called the Accused. Respondent
Matilde A. Mosquito is the Accuseds wife. Respondent Court of Appeals will be termed WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring illegal the detention of
the Appellate Tribunal; respondent Judge Montano A. Ortiz, as respondent Trial Judge, plaintiff Reynaldo Mosquito by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued without the
and the Municipal Judge, as such. observance of the fundamental legal requirements prior to the issuance of said
Writ. The petition for habeas corpus is therefore granted and it is hereby ordered
In this Petition for Certiorari, the Offended Parties and the Witnesses seek the reversal of
that said detention prisoner be forthwith released from custody, and set at liberty
the Decision of the Appellate Tribunal, upholding the disallowance of the Offended
and that upon the filing of the bond in the amount of P1,000.00 a writ of
Parties appeal by the Court of First Instance of Agusan cranad(the Trial Court, for short)
preliminary injunction issue restraining the Municipal Judge of Bayugan, Agusan,
in Civil Case No. 1088, entitled Reynaldo Mosquito, et al. vs. Eliseo Alimpoos, et al,
defendant Vicente Galicia and the rest of the defendants, their attorneys, agents
wherein respondent Trial Judge granted the Accuseds petition for Habeas Corpus and
or representatives from proceeding with Criminal Case No. 458 entitled The
declared his detention illegal. He also enjoined the prosecution of Criminal Case No. 458
People of the Philippines versus Reynaldo Mosquito et als., for the crime of
of the Municipal Court of Bayugan, Agusan cranad(hereinafter called Criminal Case)
Robbery with Less Serious Physical Injuries, with costs against the defendants in
where the Accused had been arrested.
these habeas corpus and preliminary injunction proceedings.
The Accused was detained by the Chief of Police of Bayugan, Agusan, by virtue of a
SO ORDERED. 1
Warrant of Arrest issued by the Municipal Judge in the Criminal Case, which was a
prosecution for Robbery with Less Serious Physical Injuries. The place allegedly robbed The Acting Provincial Fiscal of Agusan received copy of said ORDER on March 31, 1966,
belonged to the Offended Parties. Contending that the Warrant was issued without the and on April 1, 1966, moved for extension of time within which to appeal, but eventually
observance of the legal requirements for the issuance thereof, the Accused, then desisted from doing so.
detained, and his wife instituted the Habeas Corpus case before the Trial Court. Named
On April 4, 1966, counsel for the Offended Parties and the Witnesses mailed from Cebu
as defendants in the original complaint were the Offended parties and the
City a Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeals stating that:
Witnesses cranad(as witnesses for the prosecution) all of whom are residents of Agusan.
In an amended complaint, the two arresting policemen, the Chief of Police, and the Undersigned counsel received a copy of the order only today cranad(April 4,
Municipal Judge were added as co-defendants. 1966) which copy was handed to him by defendant cranad(petitioner) Eliseo
Alimpoos.
The Complaint of the Accused was premised on the alleged violation of Article
32 cranad(4),cranad(8), cranad(15), cranad(16), cranad(17) and cranad(19) of the Civil The appeal was opposed by the Accused on the ground that it was filed beyond the 48-
Code, and Article 269 of the Revised Penal Code, by defendants therein who were said hour reglementary period within which to perfect an appeal in Habeas Corpus
to have been instrumental in causing the detention and arrest of the Accused. It prayed proceedings.
for the Accuseds release from detention, as well as for the issuance of a Writ of On April 23, 1966, over the Offended Parties objections, respondent Trial Judge
Preliminary Injunction to enjoin the Offended Parties and the Witnesses, and the dismissed their appeal thus:
Municipal Judge and/or their representatives, from proceeding with the Criminal Case.
Actual, moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees, and costs were also prayed for.
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The notice of appeal of the Provincial Fiscal or of Atty. Seno for the defendants, III
having been filed out of time the Order of March 26, 1966 granting the habeas
The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in finding that as the records show that
corpus is now final and executory. The urgent ex-parte motion to grant extension
copy of the questioned order was received by counsel on March 30, 1966, the
to file notice of appeal does not interrupt the running of the period fixed by law for
notice of appeal was not filed within the 48-hour limit.
filing an appeal which is forty-eight hours from receipt of the order. 2
IV
No reconsideration was prayed for by the Provincial Fiscal.
The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in finding that petitioners appeal was,
The Offended Parties, however, resorted to a Mandamus proceeding before the Court of
therefore, filed out of time and the judgment has become final.
Appeals seeking to compel respondent Trial Judge to give due course to said appeal.
V
On January 11, 1967, the Appellate Tribunal, 3 in CA-G.R. No. 37781-R, denied
Mandamus stating in part: The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in denying the Motion for Reconsideration
without requiring the adverse party to answer the said Motion for
As the records show that copy of the questioned Order was received by counsel
Reconsideration.
on March 30, 1966, the notice of appeal was not filed within the 48-hour limit.
Petitioners appeal was therefore filed out of time and the judgment has become VI
final.
The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in failing to pass upon the issues raised in
In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby denied. Costs against the lower court and in the Court of Appeals.
petitioners.
The technical issue of timeliness of the appeal will first be considered. Counsel for the
Hence, this Petition for Certiorari, filed on March 13, 1967, praying that the Decision of Offended Parties alleges that he received a copy of the ORDER only on April 4, 1966
the Appellate Tribunal be set aside and the appeal interposed by the Offended Parties in from the Offended Party, Eliseo Alimpoos, who handed him the copy in Cebu City. The
the Habeas Corpus case be allowed. latter had received it on March 31, 1966. Counsel contends that the reglementary period
to appeal can not be reckoned from the latter date because, under the Rules, when a
We gave due course to the Petition on March 31, 1967, and after the filing of the
party is represented by counsel, notice should be sent, not to the party, but to his counsel
respective Briefs, the case was considered submitted for decision on April 19, 1968.
of record. Counsel for the Offended Parties and the Witnesses further maintains that the
The Offended Parties and the Witnesses pose the following Assignments of Error: period from which to reckon the period of appeal should actually be April 14, 1966 when
he actually received, through the mails, his copy of the ORDER, as shown by the rubber
I
stamp of his office appearing on the upper right hand corner of a duplicate copy of the
The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in finding that counsel, however, has not ORDER. 4
presented a shred of proof to bolster his claim of actual receipt of the order,
Respondent Trial Judge and the Appellate Tribunal alike found the foregoing assertion
Annex B on April 4, 1966, save of his own self-serving assertions, which cannot
self-serving and relied instead on the last page of the ORDER, 5 purportedly showing
prevail over the court record, cranad(Annex 1 of Answer) certified to by the Clerk
that the law office of counsel for the Offended Parties and the Witnesses received its
of Court, bearing the true actual date when the parties and counsel herein
copy on March 30, 1966 and not on April 4, 1966, hence the disallowance of the appeal
received their corresponding copies. The same certified true copy of the order
by respondent Trial Judge, and its affirmance by the Appellate Court.
shows that the law office of herein counsel received its copy on March 30, 1966
not on April 4, 1966; The crucial last page is reproduced hereunder exactly as it appears:
II
CIVIL CASE NO. 1088
The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in holding that respondent Judge was ORDER
fully justified in relying on its own record to determine the date on which 5
petitioners counsel received copy of the order, without any proof thereof, and preliminary injunction proceedings.
because courts will take judicial notice of its records and of the facts which the SO ORDERED.
same records establish and which are known to judges by reason of their judicial Done this 26th day of March, 1966 at the City of Butuan.
functions.
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(SGD.) MONTANO A. ORTIZ On the face of the envelope lower left hand corner:
JUDGE
MAO-bb. REGISTERED
Recd. CITY OF BUTUAN
31/3/66 (initial) PHILIPPINES

Received: March 31, 1966


(Sgd.) Illegible Mun. Judge cranad(Sgd.) Illegible 3/30/66 7:00 evening
3/31/66 cranad(Sgd.) B. Galimba 3/30/00 7:00 Superimposed on it in ink is No. 11633
cranad(Sgd.) Eliseo Alimpoos On the back of the envelope appears a big diagonal stamp FOR OFFICIAL USE
ONLY and two post office stamp marks:
Received copy March 31, 1966 8:00 A.M. REGISTERED
Ciriaco Alimpoos CITY OF BUTUAN
Pedro Baklay PHILIPPINES
Catalino Yamilo
Rafael Capangpangan March 31, 1966
Dalmacio Ygot
Eufrocina Estores CEBU CITY

By: cranad(Sgd.) Eliseo Alimpoos Received


March 31, 1966 April 11, 1966
(Sgd.) Illegible Philippines
cranad(Sgd.) Illegible
Since the registered mail was received in Cebu City only on April 11, 1966, it is not
For the Chief of Police 3-30-66 unlikely that the law office and addressee, as alleged by it, received the mail only three
TO ATTYS. SENO, MENDOZA, days after, or on April 14, 1966.
RUIZ & ASS. & CAPT. CUNANAN
The notation
BY REG. MAIL #11633 & #11634 (Sgd.) Illegible
A certified true copy: 3-30-66
(s) MACARIO C. CONDE appearing above the following note:
(t) MACARIO C. CONDE
Clerk of Court 6 (emphasis supplied) To Attys. Seno, Mendoza, Ruiz & Ass. &
Capt. Cunanan by reg. mail #11633 & #11634

Obviously, copies of the ORDER intended for Attys. Seno, Mendoza, Ruiz & Ass. & can not refer to personal receipt by the said law office for the obvious reason that its
Capt. Cunanan were sent by registered mail with Receipts Nos. 11633 and 11634. office being at Cebu City, personal service would not have been possible in Agusan.
Receipt No. 11633 is the registry number corresponding to the copy for the law office, It is apparent then that both respondent Trial Judge and the Appellate Tribunal committed
and Receipt No. 11634 that for Capt. Cunanan. This is borne out by the envelope 7 from error in holding that the Offended Parties appeal was interposed beyond the
the Office of the Clerk of Court Butuan City addressed to Seno, Mendoza, Ruiz and reglementary period. Service on the Offended Party, Eliseo Alimpoos, on March 31, 1966
Associates, Cor. Magallanes-D Jakosalem Sts., Aboitiz Bldg., Cebu City with the cannot be deemed as notice in law to his counsel. 8 Under the circumstances, therefore,
following markings: reliance may be placed on the assertion of counsel that the Offended Party, Eliseo

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Alimpoos, had given him a copy of the ORDER only on April 4, 1966, which must be (a) That the person in whose behalf the application is made is imprisoned or
deemed as the date of notice to said counsel of the ORDER. Counsel lost no time in restrained of his liberty;
mailing his Notice of Appeal on the same day, April 4, 1966 from Cebu. 9 Procedurally,
(b) The officer or name of the person by whom he is so imprisoned or
the appeal was seasonably filed.
restrained; or, if both are unknown or uncertain, such officer or person
Although the Appellate Tribunal had committed error in its appreciation of the date when may be described by an assumed appellation, and the person who is
the lawyers of the Offended Parties were served notice of the ORDER, we believe it served with the writ shall be deemed the person intended;
would not be justifiable to reverse and to direct respondent Trial Judge to allow the
(c) The place where he is so imprisoned or restrained, if known;
Offended Parties to appeal. Instead, we are opting to render a practical judgment.
(d) A copy of the commitment or cause of detention of such person, if it can
1. The original and amended complaints filed by the Offended Parties with the Trial Court
be procured without impairing the efficiency of the remedy; or, if the
contained three causes of action, principally for Habeas Corpus and for damages.
imprisonment or restraint is without any legal authority, such fact shall
However, the proceedings were conducted purely as a Habeas Corpus case. The
appear.
original complaint was filed on February 22, 1966, and resolved on March 26, 1966, in
keeping with the speedy and effectual character of Habeas Corpus proceedings. 10 The Accuseds allegation as to, and prayer for, damages was out of place. In Habeas
Corpus cases, the judgment in favor of the applicant cannot contain a provision for
The ORDER treated the case as exclusively a Habeas Corpus proceeding, ignoring the
damages. It has to be confined to what is provided for in Section 15, Rule 102, which
Accuseds prayer for damages. The lawyers of the Offended Parties attempted to appeal
reads:
from the ORDER in accordance with Section 19 of Rule 41, captioned who may appeal
in Habeas Corpus cases. The Appellate Tribunal resolved in the mandamus case as SEC. 15. When prisoner discharged if no appeal. When the court or Judge
relating to a Habeas Corpus case. has examined into the cause of caption and restraint of the prisoner, and is
satisfied that he is unlawfully imprisoned or restrained, he shall forthwith order his
2. Because the proceedings before the trial Court was a Habeas Corpus case, the
discharge from confinement, but such discharge shall not be effective until a
complaint filed was obviously defective. A Habeas Corpus proceeding is not a suit
copy of the order has been served on the officer or person detaining the prisoner.
between parties.
If the officer or person detaining the prisoner does not desire to appeal, the
Not a suit between the parties. While the issuance of the writ is to all intents and prisoner shall be forthwith released.
purposes the commencement of a civil action, a suit, yet technically the proceedings by
It will be observed that there is no provision for serving copy of the discharge on any
Habeas Corpus is in no sense a suit between private parties. It is an inquisition by the
other private party defendant, nor for an award of damages.
government, at the suggestion and instance of an individual, most probably, but still in
the name and capacity of the sovereign. It may be analogized to a proceeding in rem and As it has been held:
instituted for the sole purpose of fixing the status of a person. The person restrained is
The sole function of the writ is to relieve from unlawful imprisonment, and
the central figure in the transaction. The proceeding is instituted solely for his benefit. As
ordinarily it cannot properly be used for any other purpose. Thus it has been held
it is not designed to obtain redress against anybody, and as no judgment can be entered
that the writ cannot properly be used: To enforce a right to service; to determine
against anybody, and as there is no real plaintiff and defendant, there can be no suit in
whether a person has committed a crime; in determine a disputed interstate
the technical sense. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary(Extraordinary Legal Remedies, Forrest
boundary line; to punish respondent or to afford the injured person redress, for
G. Ferris & Forrest G. Ferris, Jr., p. 28)
the illegal detention; to recover damages or other money award;
The Accused, therefore, should have limited his complaint against the Chief of Police of .cra . chanroblesvirtualawlibrary(emphasis supplied) cranad(Vt In re St.
Bayugan, the person having him in alleged illegal custody. That is the clear implication in Onge, 108 A203, 93 Vt. 373; NY People vs. Prior, 182 NYS 577, 112 Misc.
the following provisions of Section 3, Rule 102, which enumerates what should be set 208 [39 C.J.S. 430]).
forth in a petition for Habeas Corpus:
3. The Accused has challenged the personality of the Offended Parties to interpose the
SEC. 3. Requisites of application therefor. Application for the writ shall be by appeal, premised on Section 19 of Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, which provides:
petition signed and verified either by the party for whose relief it is intended, or by
SEC 19. Who may appeal in habeas corpus cases. The appeal in habeas
some person on his behalf, and shall set forth:
corpus cases may be taken in the name of the person detained or of the officer
or person detaining him. But if the detention is by reason of civil proceedings the
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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
party in interest or the person who caused the detention shall be entitled to Casiano, had stressed this as the proper procedure, pointing out that the
control the appeal; and if, by virtue of criminal proceedings, the provincial fiscal absence of such investigation did not impair the validity of the information or
or the city fiscal as the case may be, is entitled to control the appeal on behalf of otherwise render it defective. Much less did it affect the jurisdiction of the Court of
the government, subject to the right of the Solicitor General to First Instance over the present case.
intervene chanroblesvirtualawlibrary(Rule 41).
5. As a matter of fact, Habeas Corpus was not the proper remedy for the Accused. In a
It is indisputable that the Habeas Corpus case arose by virtue of criminal proceedings in case where a warrant of arrest was assailed for an alleged improper preliminary
the Criminal case. Pursuant to the aforequoted provision, therefore, it was the Provincial examination, this Court, in Luna v. Plaza, 26 SCRA, 310, 323 cranad(1968), said:
Fiscal who was entitled to control the appeal on behalf of the Government. In this case,
At any rate, we believe that, if at all, the remedy available to the petitioner
although the Provincial Fiscal of Agusan, filed a Motion for Extension of Time to Perfect
herein, under the circumstances stated in this opinion, is not a petition for a writ
Appeal on April 1, 1966, he had nevertheless abandoned the same. Neither did he take
of habeas corpus but a petition to quash the warrant of arrest or a petition for
steps for the reconsideration of respondent Trial Judges Order of April 23, 1966
reinvestigation of the case by the respondent Municipal Judge or by the
dismissing the appeal. The inaction of the Fiscal may be deemed to have been an
Provincial Fiscal.
admission on his part of the unmeritoriousness of an appeal. As in criminal proceedings,
his sound discretion on the matter should be deemed controlling, and it has to be held It is the general rule that Habeas Corpus should not be resorted to when there is another
that the Offended Parties were bereft of personality to prosecute the appeal. remedy available.
Noteworthy is the fact that in the instant case, the Offended Parties had alleged in their As a general rule, a writ of habeas corpus will not be granted where relief may
Answer 11 that they were not detaining the Accused and had nothing to do with the be had or could have been procured by resort to another general remedy, such
Warrant of Arrest issued against him. With all the more reason then that they had no as appeal or writ of error. But the existence of another remedy does not
personality to interpose an appeal from a judicial Order granting the Writ of Habeas necessarily preclude a resort to the writ of habeas corpus to obtain relief from
Corpus and ordering the release of a person detained. illegal detention, especially where the other remedy is deemed not to be as
effective as that of habeas corpus. 12
4. It has been noted that the ORDER contains a provision enjoining the prosecution of
the Accused in the Criminal Case. That is error. If the Accused was illegally detained Time and again, it has been explained that Habeas Corpus cannot function as a writ of
because he was arrested without a preliminary examination, what should have been error. 13
done was to set aside the warrant of arrest and order the discharge of the Accused, but
6. It has further been noted that respondent Trial Judge erred in adjudging costs
without enjoining the Municipal Judge from conducting a preliminary examination and
against defendants in the Habeas Corpus case. When a person confined under color of
afterwards properly issuing a warrant of arrest. Habeas Corpus proceedings are not
proceedings in a criminal case is discharged, the costs shall be taxed against the
meant to determine criminal responsibility. This principle was enunciated in Lee Ching v.
Republic 14
Collector of Customs, 33 Phil. 329 cranad(1916) where it was said:
7. The Accused was charged with Robbery with Less Serious Physical Injuries in early
Proceedings in habeas corpus are separate and distinct from the main case
1966. Through the error of the Municipal Judge in issuing the warrant of arrest without
from which the proceedings spring. They rarely, if ever, touch the merits of the
conducting a preliminary examination, the Accused was able to institute the Habeas
case and require no pronouncement with respect thereto.
Corpus case which has pended to this date, or for fifteen years. The error of the
When a preliminary investigation is not held, or is improperly held, the procedure is not to Municipal Judge has considerably retarded the turning of the wheels of justice. It should
dismiss the case, or enjoin its prosecution, but to have the preliminary investigation be meet to reiterate the following admonition made in the aforecited Luna-Plaza case:
conducted. As stated in People v. Figueroa, 27 SCRA, 1239, 1247cranad(1969):
We wish to stress, however, that what has been stated in this opinion is certainly
Assuming that the trial court felt that the accused should have been given more not intended to sanction the return to the former practice of municipal judges of
ample chance and opportunity to be heard in the preliminary investigation, then simply relying upon affidavits or sworn statements that are made to accompany
what it could properly have done, since in its own Order it recognized that Fiscal the complaints that are filed before them, in determining whether there is a
Abaca had conducted a preliminary investigation although hurriedly in its probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. That practice is precisely
opinion, was not to dismiss the information but to hold the case in abeyance and what is sought to be voided by the amendment of Section 87 cranad(c) of
conduct its own investigation or require the fiscal to hold a reinvestigation. This Republic Act 296 cranad(Judiciary Act of 1948) which requires that before a
Court, speaking through now Mr. Chief Justice Concepcion in People vs. municipal judge issues a warrant of arrest he should first satisfy himself that
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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
there is a probable cause by examining the witnesses personally, and that the
examination must be under oath and reduced to writing in the form of searching
questions and answers. It is obvious that the purpose of this amendment is to
prevent the issuance of a warrant of arrest against a person based simply upon
affidavits of witnesses who made, and swore to, their statements before a person
or persons other than the judge before whom the criminal complaint is filed. We
wish to emphasize strict compliance by municipal or city judges of the provision
of Section 87(c) of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended by Republic Act 3828,
in order to avoid malicious and/or unfounded criminal prosecution of persons.
In view of the foregoing considerations, it should be practical to resolve this case in a
manner that will not further protract the matter brought to this instance. It will not do
merely to reverse and set aside the appealed decision of the Appellate Tribunal, for it will
leave the ORDER of respondent Trial Judge outstanding with its injunction against the
further prosecution of the Criminal Case.
WHEREFORE, in the distinct understanding that this Court has not acted in a proper
Habeas Corpus proceeding, the Warrant of Arrest issued against Reynaldo Mosquito in
Criminal Case No. 458 of the Municipal Court of Bayugan, Agusan, the Order of March
26, 1966 issued in Civil Case No. 1088 of the Court of First Instance of Agusan, as well
as the Decision of the Court of Appeals in its case CA-G.R. No. 37781-R, are hereby set
aside; and the proceedings in the last two cases mentioned are invalidated.
Without pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. L-58781 July 31, 1987 Considering that the copy of Decision dated June 30, 1981 addressed to Atty.
TEOFILO MAGNO, ISIDRO CABATIC, HERMINIO CABATIC, FELICITAS CABATIC, Atinidoro B. Sison of 33 B.M.A. Tatalon, Quezon City, counsel for the appellants
Assisted by her husband, JOSE CARINO, TOMAS MAGNO, ELPIDIO MAGNO, was returned unclaimed with the notation on the envelope "MOVED", the Court
AURORA MAGNO, Assisted by her husband, ODELON BUGAYONG, NICANOR Resolved to resend the said copy of the Decision to the appellants themselves at
MAGNO and LOLITA MAGNO, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, Alaminos, Pangasinan, and the appellants are hereby informed that the fifteen
GAVINO MAGNO, NICETAS MAGNO, and NAZARIA MAGNO, Assisted by her (15) days period within which to file for reconsideration will be counted from the
husband, SIMEON DE GUZMAN, respondents. receipt of the decision herewith attached. (Annex "5-A" p. 54, Rollo).

This is a special civil action for certiorari seeking to declare void ab initio the Resolution A copy of this Resolution was sent to petitioners themselves addressed as follows Mr.
of respondent Court of Appeals dated September 22, 1981 which ordered the issuance Teofilo Magno et al., Patricio, Alaminos, Pangasinan. It is not disputed that this address
of an Entry of Judgment in CA-G.R. No. 52655-R. The petition also prays for the is the address on record of petitioners. But again the enveloped addressed to them was
issuance of a preliminary injunction to temporarily maintain the status quo by ordering returned to the court with the notation deceased.
the provincial sheriff of the province of Pangasinan to desist from enforcing the writ of
execution issued in Civil Case No. A-413 pursuant to the said Entry of Judgment. On September 22, 1981, the respondent court issued its now assailed Resolution
ordering the issuance of the entry of judgment.
Civil Case No. A-413 is an action for Partition of Certain Properties and for Damages,
filed by private respondents against petitioners in the Court of First Instance of Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied hence, they filed the present petition,
Pangasinan, Branch VII thereof. In a Decision * dated October 5, 1972, the lower court which We find to be without merit.
ordered the partition of the properties subject of the complaint in accordance with the
schedule therein appearing. It also ordered the petitioners to pay jointly and severally It is well-settled that when a party is represented by counsel, notice should be made
unto the private respondents the amount of P3,000.00 as attorney's fees. upon the counsel of record at his given address to which notices of all kinds emanating
from the court should be sent in the absence of a proper and adequate notice to the
Petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals which appeal was docketed as CA-G.R. No. court of a change of address. (Cubar vs. Mendoza, 120 SCRA 768). lawph!1

52655-R. On June 30, 1981, the said court promulgated its Decision ** affirming the
decision of the lower court. In the case now before Us, the records show that the notice and copy of the decision of
respondent Court of Appeals were sent to petitioners's counsel of record Atty. Atinidoro
Notice of the decision was sent to petitioners' counsel Atty. Atinidoro B. Sison at his given E. Sison at his given mailing address which is 33 B.M.A. Avenue, Tatalon, Quezon City.
mailing address which is 33 B.M.A. Ave., Tatalon, Quezon City. The same, however, was The first notice to him by the Postmaster to claim his mail was on July 9, 1981. The rule
returned to the court with the certification of the postmaster "Return to sender, Reason is that service of notice becomes effective at the expiration of the five-day period upon
moved." failure of the addresse to claim his mail within five (5) days from the date of first notice
Sec. 8, Rule 13 Rules of Court (Feraren vs. Santos, 113 SCRA 707). Therefore in this
On September 14, 1981, respondent Court of Appeals issued the following Resolution: case the service became effective five days after July 9, 1981 which is July 14, 1981.
The decision became final on August 13, 1981. A xerox copy of the said envelope
properly addressed appears on page 52 of the Rollo. This fact is further shown by the
certification issued by the then Acting Clerk of the Court of Appeals, Atty. Cesar M.
Marzan. (p. 51, Rollo). If Atty. Sison moved to another address without informing the
respondent of his change of address the omission or neglect will not stay the finality of
the decision. The notice sent to petitioners themselves, under the circumstances is not
even necessary. (Francisco vs. Puno, 108 SCRA 427). It may be stated though that while
petitioners claim that Teofilo Magno to whom the notice to the petitioners was addressed

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
is already dead, it is not explained why their present petition before this Court still Hence, the herein petition for certiorari filed by the AU. On February 22, 1989, the court
includes the name Teofilo Magno. There is no indication in the record that he has been dismissed the petition for failure to sufficiently show that respondent commission had
duly substituted by his legal representative. committed a grave abuse of discretion in rendering its questioned judgment. A motion for
reconsideration hereof was filed by petitioner to which respondents were required to file
The decision in this case having become final on July 29, 1981, there being no appeal their comment. The desired comments having been submitted and the reply thereto filed
taken therefrom, respondent court committed no error in issuing its resolution dated by petitioner, the court finds a cogent basis to grant the motion for reconsideration. The
September 22, 1981 ordering the issuance of the corresponding entry of judgment. petition is based on the following arguments:

WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, this petition is hereby DISMISSED. The restraining SERVICE OF THE DECISION UPON THE SECURITY GUARD OF THE
order earlier issued is lifted. SO ORDERED. TOEFEMI BUILDING, WHERE RESPONDENT'S FORMER COUNSEL USED
TO HOLD OFFICE, IS INEFFECTIVE AND DOES NOT CAUSE THE RUNNING
G.R. No. 86819 November 9, 1989 OF THE 10-DAY PERIOD FOR AN APPEAL.
ADAMSON OZANAM EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION INC., ALSO KNOWN AS
ADAMSON UNIVERSITY, petitioner, vs. ADAMSON UNIVERSITY FACULTY AND BASED ON THE MERITS OF THE CASE, THE SUBJECT DECISION
EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION AND CONRADO MAGLAYA, COMMISSIONER OF THE PROMULGATED ON 30 SEPTEMBER 1988 IS CONTRARY TO THE
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, respondents. DOCTRINE LAID DOWN IN CEBU INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY ET AL. VS.
HON. BLAS OPLE, ET AL.
The Adamson Ozanam Educational Institution, Inc. also known as the Adamson
University (AU) was granted by the then Ministry of Education, Culture & Sports (MECS), On the first issue, it appears that the decision of the NLRC dated September 30, 1988
the authority to increase their tuition fees by 10% and 5% for the school year 1983-84. was served to the office of the counsel for petitioner on October 11, 1988 through the
The Adamson University Faculty and Employees Association (AUFEA) believing that security guard of the building. The office of then counsel for petitioner, Atty. Andres
under P.D. No. 451 60% thereof should be allocated for the increase in salaries and Narvasa (now member of this Court), was located at the TOEFEMI building. The copy of
wages of the members of the faculty and other members of the school filed a complaint the decision was addressed to Atty. Roberto I. Santos of said law office. However, at the
in the Ministry of Labor & Employment (MOLE) against the AU for the recovery of the time of said serllice the said law office was already dissolved as Atty. Narvasa was
said 60%. appointed as a member of this Court. Nevertheless, a copy of said decision was
transmitted by the former office of now Mr. Justice Narvasa to the present counsel of
The contention of the AU is that P.D. No. 451 was repealed by the Educational Act of record for petitioner on November 5, 1988 who promptly filed a motion for
1982, which took effect on September 12, 1982, and that assuming that B.P. No. 451 reconsideration on November 15, 1988.
was not repealed, complainant is not entitled to any benefit considering that there was no
actual increment proceeds in the tuition fee increase for the school year 1983-84 upon In denying the motion for reconsideration the NLRC observed that the former counsel of
which to base the 60% allocation. petitioner did not withdraw nor file a manifestation that his office had been dissolved so
he cannot continue to act as counsel thereof.
In a decision of the labor arbiter dated March 31, 1986 the complaint was dismissed for
lack of merit. The AUFEA appealed therefrom to the National Labor Relations Thus the question that arises is whether the service of the copy of the decision upon the
Commission (NLRC) wherein in due course a decision was rendered on September 30, security guard of the building where the former office of petitioner's counsel was located
1988 setting aside the appealed decision and ordering the AU to remit to the members of was sufficient compliance with the requirements of the law. Section 4, Rule 13 of the
AUFEA the amount of P1,298,160.00 representing the 60% share in the increment Rules of Court which is suppletory to the rules of the NLRC, provides as follows:
proceeds of the tuition fees collected for the school year 1983-84. A motion for
reconsideration of the said decision filed by the AU was denied in a resolution dated Section 4. Personal Service. Service of the papers may be made by delivering
January 30, 1989 for having been filed out of time. personally a copy to the party or his attorney, or by leaving it in his office with his

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
clerk or with a person having charge thereof. If no person is found in his office, or In the case of Cebu Institute of Technology vs. Hon. Blas Ople, 5 this Court ruled that P.D.
his office is not known, then by leaving the copy, between the hours of eight in No. 451 was repealed by B.P. 232 effective September 11, 1982. From the said date the
the morning and six in the evening, at the party's or attomey's residence, if governing law on the disposition of the 60% incremental proceeds on the tuition fees are the
known, with a person of sufficient discretion to receive the same. (Emphasis appropriate provisions of B.P. Blg. 232, which, in pertinent part provides as follows:
supplied)
Not less than sixty (60) percent of the incremental tuition proceeds shall be used
Under the foregoing rule, service of papers should be delivered personally to the party or for salaries or wages, allowances and fringe benefits of faculty and support staff,
attorney or by leaving it at his office with his clerk or with a person having charge thereof. including cost of living allowance, imputed costs of contributed services,
The service of the court's order upon any person other than the party's counsel is not thirteenth (13th) month pay, retirement fund contributions, social security,
legally effective. 1 Where the copy of the decision is served on a person who is neither a medicare, unpaid school personnel claims, and payment as may be prescribed
clerk or one in charge of the attorney's office, such service is invalid and the decision does by mandated wage orders, collective bargaining agreements and voluntary
not therefore become executory. 2 The security guard of the building where the attorney is employer practices ... (Sec. 42; Emphasis supplied)
holding office is neither the office clerk nor a person in charge thereof as contemplated in the
rules. In PLDT vs. NLRC, 3 this Court ruled that the service of the decision at the ground floor Accordingly, as of September 11, 1982, Section 3(a) of PD 451 which limits the
of a party's building when the office is at the 9th floor is not a valid service. disposition of said 60% incremental proceeds increase in tuition fees to those of salaries
and wages is deemed abrogated by way of repeal. 6 Indeed even prior thereto this Court
From the foregoing, it is clear that the service of the decision dated October 11, 1988 on ruled in the University of the East vs. UE Faculty Association 7 as follows:
the security guard of the building where the then counsel for petitioner was holding office
was an invalid service and the running of the period within which to appeal therefrom or We are underscoring such modification because as We see it, it settles the
file a motion for reconsideration cannot be deemed to commence thereby. second main issue We have stated at the outset as to whether or not increase of
salaries of wages or allowances or benefits secured by collective bargaining may
While it is true that said former counsel of petitioner failed to withdraw his appearance, be charged against the incremental proceeds (60%) under PD 451. We read the
the NLRC can take judicial notice of the fact that Mr. Justice Narvasa was already latest Malacaang decision to mean that increase of salaries even those secured
elevated to the Supreme Court at the time the decision in this case was promulgated. bv collective bargaining may be charged to the 60% incremental proceeds of
Since its decisions are reviewable by the Supreme Court such matter of public MEC authorized tuition fee increases. ... (Emphasis supplied)
knowledge should be within the judicial notice of the NLRC because of the nature of their
functions. 4 MECS Order No. 25 finds legal support in B.P. Blg. 232, otherwise known as the
Educational Act of 1982 as said MECS Order is an implementing administrative rule
On the second issue, the order of respondent NLRC to petitioner to remit to the interpretative of a pre-existing statute and not declarative of certain rights with obligation
respondent AUFEA the sum of P1,298,160.00 representing its 60% share in the thereunder. The same should be given retroactive effect and its effectivity should be on
increment tuition fees collected for the school year 1983-1984 is predicated on the September 11, 1982, which is the date of effectivity of B.P. Blg. 232, not April 1, 1985.
argument that: 1) MECS Order No. 25 took effect on April 1, 1985 and prior thereto this Remedial or curative statutes are by nature intended to be retroactive. 8
Court has ruled that the 60% incremental proceeds should be applied to the basic
salaries and wages; and 2) inasmuch as the CBA was concluded two (2) days after And this is as it should be as rules and regulations are and should be for the sole
petitioner was granted the authority to increase its tuition fees, it does not necessarily purpose of carrying into effect a general provision of the law. 9 Thus guided bv the Cebu
follow that the parties intended that the CBA benefits will be taken from the said Institute of Technology which declared the automatic repeal of P.D. 451 respondent NLRC
incremental proceeds. committed a grave error in ruling that petitioner cannot charge to the 60% incremental
proceeds the items under paragraph 7.4 of the MECS Order No. 25 including collective
We disagree. bargaining.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is granted and the resolution of February
22, 1989 is set aside; the petition is GRANTED so that the questioned decision of the
NLRC dated September 30, 1988 and its resolution dated January 20, 1989 are hereby
REVERSED AND SET ASIDE while the decision of the labor arbiter dated March 31,
1986 dismissing the complaint for lack of merit is hereby AFFIRMED without
pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. L-50711 November 17, 1980 Division (composed of Justices Carlos L. Sundiam, Samuel F. Reyes and Pacifico P. de
SIMEON ARAMBURO and CORAZON ARAMBURO KO, SALVACION TAN DE Castro now Associate Justice of the Supreme Court), the dispositive portion of which
ARAMBURO, JESUS T. ARAMBURO, JULIO T. ARAMBURO, JOSEPHINE T. reads as follows:
ARAMBURO, MARY JANE T. ARAMBURO, AUGUSTO T. ARAMBURO, JR., JAIME T.
ARAMBURO, JULIET T. ARAMBURO, JACKSON T. ARAMBURO, JOCELYN T. PREMISES CONSIDERED, the plaintiff-appellant having established her ownership over
ARAMBURO, JOVY T. ARAMBURO, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, the three parcels of land in issue and her possession, including those of her
CONCEPCION R. PEA, PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF ALBAY, respondents. predecessors-in-interest before the year 1961, the decision appealed from is hereby
REVERSED:
In this petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition, with prayer for a restraining order
filed on May 25, 1979, the petitioners seek to set aside the decision of the Court of (1) Declaring plaintiff-appellant the absolute owner of the three lots in question;
Appeals, dated December 28, 1978, in CA-GR No. 41251-R entitled "Concepcion R.
Pea vs. Salvacion Tan de Aramburo, et al." and/or to remand the case to the Court of (2) Ordering the defendants to vacate said lots and deliver the possession thereof to the
Appeals and other said court to further proceed with the same by requiring the herein plaintiff-appellant;
private respondent, appellant in said Court of Appeals' case, to furnish the herein
petitioners, the appellees in said case, with a copy of the appellant's brief and to allow (3) Ordering defendants Aramburos to deliver to plaintiff-appellant 30 sacks of palay from
petitioners-appellees to file their brief within 90 days from receipt of said copy before Lot 2361 and 50 sacks of palay from Lot 4725, annually, from 1961 until they vacate or
rendering a new decision on said appeal. Petitioners further pray that the Provincial pay their value at P12.00 per sack;
Sheriff of Albay be restrained from enforcing the writ of execution issued by the Court of
First Instance of Albay ordering said Provincial Sheriff to execute the said decision of the (4) Ordering defendant Jose Atadero to deliver to plaintiff-appellant 12 sacks of palay
Court of Appeals. from Lot 2360, annually, from 1961 until he vacates said lot or pay its value at P12.00 per
sack and
The procedural antecedents of this petition are as follow: On January 14, 1963, the
herein petitioners filed with the Court of First Instance of Albay an application for (5) Ordering defendants to pay the costs.
registration of lots Nos. 2361 and 4725 of the Cadastral Survey of Malinao. Docketed as
Land Registration Case No. 311, the application for registration was opposed by the
Petitioners-appellees now assail the decision of the Court of Appeals on the ground of
herein private respondent, Concepcion R. Pea who prayed that she be declared the
lack of procedural due process. They contend that they were deprived of their day in
owner of said lots. On May 23, 1964, said private respondent filed with the same Court of
court when the appeal was submitted for decision without their brief. Allegedly they were
First Instance of Albay an action for reivindicacion with damages seeking to recover from
not able to file their brief because the respondent-appellant did not furnish them with a
the herein petitioners the two lots covered by the application for registration together with
copy of the appellant's brief. They further contend that they did not receive both the
lot No. 2360 of the same cadastral survey. As the latter lot was found to be in the
resolution of the Court of Appeals dated September 23, 1971, which considered the case
possession of a certain Jose Atadero, the complaint was amended to include said new
as submitted for decision without appellee's brief, as well as the decision of said court
defendant. Said complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. 2850 and was jointly tried
dated December 28, 1978, and that it was only on May 9, 1979, that they learned of the
with Land Registration Case No. 311. On February 14, 1968, a decision was rendered by
judgment of said court when the Deputy Provincial Sheriff of Albay served upon them a
the Court of First Instance of Albay dismissing both cases. From said decision, the herein
copy of the writ of execution enforcing said judgment.
private respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. The appeal was docketed in the
Court of Appeals as CA-G.R. No. 41251-R. Respondent-appellant filed with said
On June 15, 1979, We required the respondents to comment on the petition and issued
appellate court her appeal brief; petitioners-appellee did not file any brief. Consequently,
an order temporarily restraining the Provincial Sheriff of Albay from enforcing the writ of
on September 23, 1971, the Court of Appeals, Special Eight Division (composed of
execution issued by the Court of First Instance of Albay .
Justices Ramon 0. Nolasco, Andres Reyes and Manuel P. Barcelona), issued a
resolution considering the case as submitted for decision without appellee's brief. More
than seven years thereafter, a decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals, Ninth
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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
Respondents filed their comment on the petition on August 3, 1979. Denying petitioners' 2. The Resolution of this Court dated September 23, 1971 considering the case
claim of lack of procedural due process, respondents allege that the counsel for the submitted for decision without defendants-appellees' brief was received by Attys. Antonio
petitioners-appellees were furnished with copies of the appellant's brief per registry Alfane and Delfin de Vera on October 7, 1971 per registry return receipt attached to the
receipts nos. 6724 and 6725 (Quiapo, Manila) dated January 20, 1971, which were filed back of resolution (p. 100, Rollo). Copy of said registry return receipt is attached hereto
with the Court of Appeals along with the appellant's brief and were attached to the Rollo as Annex 'A' and made an integral part hereof.
of the appealed case. Respondents further noted that the counsel for petitioners-
appellees likewise received copies of the Court of Appeals' resolution dated September 3. The decision of this Court, incidentally, was received by counsel for petitioner on
23, 1971, and of its decision dated December 28, 1978, per registry return cards January 10, 1979, as evidenced by the registry return receipt, copy of with is attached
attached to the Rollo of the case which show receipt by the authorized representatives of hereto and made an integral part hereof as Annex 'B'.
the petitioners-appellees' counsel of the said resolution and decision on October 7, 1971,
and January 10, 1979, respectively. Respondents finally contend that since the On June 11, 1980, We required the Division Clerk of Court of the Court of Appeals to
petitioners-appellees did not appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeals nor move submit his report over the signature of Justice Carlos L. Sundiam, the ponente of the
for reconsideration thereof, said decision became final and executory and that, assailed decision of the Court of Appeals.
consequently, the execution of said decision is in order and should not be restrained by
this Court. Accordingly, respondents pray that the temporary restraining order be lifted On June 19, 1980, Atty. Delfin de Vera, counsel for the petitioners, filed a manifestation
and that the petition be denied for lack of merit. stating that Atty. Antonio Alfane was the counsel for the petitioners in the Court of
Appeals and that neither he nor said Atty. Alfane received the registered communications
On December 7, 1979, We required the petitioners to file a reply to the comment of the (resolution and decision) covered by annexes "A" and "B" of the report of the Division
respondents. Petitioners, through their counsel, Atty. Delfin de Vera, filed their reply on Clerk of Court of the Court of Appeals. Noting said manifestation, We ordered Justice
January 17, 1980, wherein they reiterated their claim that their former counsel, Atty. Carlos L. Sundiam on July 16, 1980, to submit a comprehensive and reasoned report as
Antonio C. Alfane, never received a copy of the appellant's brief and of the Court of required in the resolution of June 11, 1980, in relation to the resolution of April 30, 1980,
Appeals' resolution and decision dated September 23, 1971 and December 28, 1978, taking into consideration the statements contained in the manifestation. In compliance
respectively. therewith, Justice Carlos L. Sundiam filed on September 1, 1980, his comment. He
reproduced in said comment the report of the Division Clerk of Court and noted further
On April 30, 1980, We required the Court of Appeals to ascertain carefully the allegations that since the resolution and decision of the Court of Appeals were sent to the
of the petitioners regarding the non-service of the appellant's brief and of the resolution petitioners-appellees' counsel thru a government agency, the postal services of the
and decision of the said Court and to report on the same without unnecessary delay. In country, it may be presumed, pursuant to Sec. 5 (m), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court that
compliance therewith, the Division Clerk of Court of the Ninth Division of the Court of the postmaster of Legaspi City performed his official duties and delivered the mail matter
Appeals, Atty. Arturo A. Marave, submitted a report on May 27, 1980, stating that: to the authorized representatives of the addressees.

1. The brief for the plaintiff-appellant filed with this Court on January 26, 1971 does not The only issue to be resolved in this special civil action for certiorari, mandamus and
have a registry return receipt from petitioners' counsel attached to it. Said brief bears prohibition is whether or not the herein petitioners were deprived of procedural due
only the registry return receipt from Atty. Jose Atadero. However, attached to the same process when the Court of Appeals decided CA-G.R. No. 41251-R without their briefs as
brief are two (2) registry receipts bearing numbers 6724 and 6725, both dated January the appellees therein.
26, 1971, ostensibly for the two opposing counsels. (p. 90, Rollo).
We are inclined to believe petitioners' allegation that they were not served with a copy of
the appellant's brief. For it must be observed that the duty of proving service of the
appellant's brief upon the appellee lies with the appellant, the private respondent herein,
who, regretably, failed to comply with the same. Section 10, Rule 14 of the Rules of
Court provides

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
SEC 10. PROOF OF SERVICE. Proof of personal service shall consist of a written as a waiver by petitioners-appellees of their right to file their brief in said appeal and their
admission of the party served, or the affidavit of the party serving, containing a full consent to have the case decided on the basis of the records thereof which were
statement of the date, place and manner of service, ... If service is made by registered elevated to the appellate court and of whatever pleadings already filed with said court.
mail, proof shall be made by such affidavit and the registry receipt issued by the mailing
office. The registry return card shall be filed immediately upon receipt thereof by the Petitioners-appelles coucel had persistently denied having received the subject
sender, or in lieu thereof the letter unclaimed together with the certified or sworn copy of resolution of the Court of Appeals and claimed that the signature appearing on the
the notice given by the postmaster to the addressee. registry return card, purportedly that of their authorized agent, was unknown to them. But
such naked denials cannot stand in the face of the presumption established in Sec. 5(m)
Conformably with the foregoing provision, sufficient proof of service of the appellant's of Rule 131 of the Rules of Court that official duties had been regularly performed his
brief upon the appellees, which was allegedly effected thru registered mail, consists of: official duties and delivered the subject resolution to the authorized representative of
(1) the affidavit of the party serving, containing a full statement of the date, place and petitioners-appelles' counsel.
manner of service; (2) the registry receipt issued by the mailing office; and (3) the
registry return card or, in lieu thereof, the letter unclaimed together with the certified or As the foregoing onbservations likewise hold true with respect to the decision of the
sworn copy of the notice given by the postmaster to the addressee. The records of the Court of Appeals which appears to have been received by the authorized representaive
case, however, reveal that only the registry receipts allegedly issued by the mailing office of petitioners-appelles' counsel on January 10, 1979, per registry return card attached to
were presented by the respondent-appellant as proof of service of her brief upon page 101 of the rollo of CA-G.R. No. 41251-R, it follows that said decision become final
petitioners-appellees. Such registry receipts cannot be considered as sufficient proof of and executory on January 25, 1979. Consequently, the executory of said decision is in
service of the appellant's brief. Firstly, to hold otherwise would be to disregard the explicit order.
requirements of the aforequoted provision of the Rules of Court. Secondly, said registry
receipts are evidence of the posting of the mail matter with the post office of the sender WHEREFORE, the temporary restraining order issued on June 15, 1979, is hereby lifted
not of the delivery of said mail matter by the post office of the addressee. Thirdly, the and the petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition is hereby denied for lack of
date of actual delivery to the addressee cannot be ascertained from such registry merit. Cost against petitioners. SO ORDERED.
receipts, And, finally, the possibility of presenting registry receipts covering mail matters
different from those involved in the litigation cannot be discounted. (See: resolution of the
Supreme Court, Second Division, dated May 21, 1980, in G.R. No. 51378 entitled
"American President Lines vs. The Honorable Court of Appeals, et al.")

Since respondent-appellant had not sufficiently proven service of the appellant's brief
upon the petitioners-appellees, it was, therefore, an error on the part of the Court of
Appeals to consider the appeal as submitted for decision without appellees' brief. But
such procedural defect was not fatal when, as in this case, the party adversely affected
thereby had sufficient opportunity to seek correction of such error. For, here, the
petitioners-appellees' counsel were notified of the resolution of the Court of Appeals
which considered the case as submitted for decision without appellees' brief more than
seven years before the rendition of the decision. (The registry return card attached to
page 100 of the Rollo of CA-G.R. No. 41251-R shows receipt by the authorized agent of
petitioners-appellees' counsel, Attys. Antonio Alfane and Delfin de Vera, of the subject
resolution of the Court of Appeals on October 7, 1971; the decision of the Court of
Appeals was promulgated on December 28, 1978.) Certainly, such length of time was
more than sufficient for petitioners-appellees to seek reconsideration of the resolution of
the Court of Appeals. But, this, they failed to do. And such failure could only be construed
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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
G.R. No. 132007 August 5, 1998 [A]bsolutely no valid reason why defendant[s] should not have personally
SOLAR TEAM ENTERTAINMENT, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. HELEN BAUTISTA RICA- served plaintiff's . . . counsel with [a] copy of their answer [as] (t)he office
FORT, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque, of defendant's (sic) counsel, Atty. Froilan Cabaltera, is just a stone [sic]
Metro Manila (Branch 260), TEAM IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT, INC., FELIX S. CO, throw away from the office of [petitioner's] counsel, with an estimate (sic)
JEFFREY C. CAL, and KING CUISIA, respondents. distance of about 200 meters more or less.

At issue is whether respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to Petitioner further alleged that the post office was "about ten (10) times farther from the
lack or excess of jurisdiction in denying petitioner's motion to expunge private office of Atty. Cabaltera,"
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 On 15 August 1997, private respondents filed their opposition 6 to the abovementioned
not accomplished, as required by Section 11 of Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil motion, alleging that petitioner's "rigid and inflexible reliance on the provisions of Section
Procedure. 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
The antecedents are not disputed. 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
On 10 July 1997, petitioner, as plaintiff, filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in respondents "religiously complied with [Section 5 of Rule 13] by personally present[ing]
Paraaque, Metro Manila, a complaint for recovery of possession and damages with to the clerk of court their said Answer . . . furnishing a copy thereof to the counsel for
prayer for a writ of replevin 1 against herein private respondents. The case was docketed [petitioner] by way of registered mail."
as Civil Case No. 97-0304 and was assigned to Branch 260 of said court, presided over
by public respondent Judge Helen Bautista-Ricafort. 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
Summonses and copies of the complaint were forthwith served on private respondents. court] whether to consider the pleading as filed or not," and denying, for lack of merit,
On 25 July 1997, their counsel filed a notice of appearance with urgent ex-parte motion petitioner's motion to expunge the "Answer (with Counterclaims)" and to declare private
for extension of time to plead, 2 which the court granted in its order of 4 August 1997. 3 respondents in default.

On 8 August 1997, private respondents, as defendants, filed their "Answer (with Petitioner immediately moved for reconsideration 8 of the order, but public respondent
Counterclaims).'' 4 A copy thereof was furnished counsel for petitioner by registered mail; Judge Bautista-Ricafort denied this motion in her order 9 of 17 November 1997. The
however, the pleading did not contain any written explanation as to why service was not order justified the denial in this wise:
made personally upon petitioner-plaintiff, as required by Section 11 of Rule 13 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. 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
On 11 August 1997, petitioner filed a motion to expunge the "Answer (with securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and
Counterclaims)" and to declare herein private respondents in default, 5 alleging therein proceeding.
that the latter did not observe the mandate of the aforementioned Section 11, and that
there was: 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

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
presentation as fatal to plaintiff a [sic] case smacks of skill rather than Sec. 5, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure prescribes two modes of service of
right. A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply pleadings, motions, notices, orders, judgments and other papers, namely: (1) personal
schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and position, entraps service; and (2) service by mail. The first is governed by Section 6, while the second, by
and destroys the other. It is rather, a contest in which each contending Section 7 of said Rule. If service cannot be done either personally or by mail, substituted
party fully and fairly lays before the Court the facts in issue and then, service may be resorted to under Section 8 thereof.
brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all imperfections or form of
technicalities of procedure, asks that justice be done upon the merits. Pursuant, however, to Section 11 of Rule 13, service and filing of pleadings and other
Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not to be won by a rapier's thrust." 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
While it is desirable that the above Rules be faithfully and even filing was not done personally. The section reads:
meticulously observed, courts should not strict about procedural lapses
that do not really impair the proper administration of justice. Furthermore, Sec. 11. Priorities in modes of service and filing. Whenever
it is well settled that litigations should, as much as possible be decided on practicable, the service and filing of pleadings and other papers shall be
their merits and not on technicalities. done personally. Except with respect to papers emanating from the court,
a resort to other modes must be accompanied by a written explanation
Petitioner thus filed the instant special civil action of certiorari, contending that public why the service or filing was not done personally. A violation of this Rule
respondent Judge Bautista-Ricafort committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to may be cause to consider the paper as not filed. (n)
lack or excess of jurisdiction when she admitted private respondents' "Answer (with
Counterclaims)" notwithstanding private respondents' clear, admitted and inexcusable Note that Section 11 refers to both service of pleadings and other papers on the
violation of Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, in that: (a) the adverse party or his counsel as provided for in Sections 6, 7 and 8; and to
"Answer (with Counterclaims)" was not served personally upon petitioner's counsel the filing of pleadings and other papers in court.
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 Personal service and filing are preferred for obvious reasons. Plainly, such should
did not contain any explanation as to why the answer was not served personally. 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,
In their Comment, filed in compliance with the resolution of 2 February 1998, and to considering the inefficiency of the postal service. Likewise, personal service will do away
which petitioner filed a Reply, private respondents aver that public respondent Judge with the practice of some lawyers who, wanting to appear clever, resort to the following
Bautista-Ricafort correctly admitted private respondents' "Answer (with Counterclaims)" less than ethical practices: (1) serving or filing pleadings by mail to catch opposing
in light of Section 6, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure; that Section 11 of Rule counsel off-guard, thus leaving the latter with little or no time to prepare, for instance,
13 begins with the phrase "whenever practicable," thereby suggesting that service by responsive pleadings or an opposition; or (2) upon receiving notice from the post office
mail may still be effected depending on the relative priority of the pleading sought to be that the registered parcel containing the pleading of or other paper from the adverse
filed; and when service is not done personally, it is more prudent and judicious for the party may be claimed, unduly procrastinating before claiming the parcel, or, worse, not
courts to require a written explanation rather than to expunge the pleading outright or claiming it at all, thereby causing undue delay in the disposition of such pleading or other
consider the same as not being filed. papers.

In view of the importance of the issue raised, which is, undoubtedly, one of the first If only to underscore the mandatory nature of this innovation to our set of adjective rules
impression, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition and consider it requiring personal service whenever practicable, Section 11 of Rule 13 then gives the
submitted for decision on the basis of the pleadings filed by the parties. 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,

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CIVIL PROCEDURE CASES Default (3, Rule 9), Payment of Docket Fees and Modes of Service ( 5-14, Rule 13)
necessarily, consider the practicability of personal service, for Section 11 itself begins favor of admitting the "Answer (with Counterclaims)," instead of expunging it from the
with the clause "whenever practicable." record.

We thus take this opportunity to clarify that under Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules To our mind, if motions to expunge or strike out pleadings for violation of Section 11 of
of Civil Procedure, personal service and filing is the general rule, and resort to other Rule 13 were to be indiscriminately resolved under Section 6 of Rule 1 or Alonzo v.
modes of service and filing, the exception. Henceforth, whenever personal service or Villamor and other analogous cases, then Section 11 would become meaningless and its
filing is practicable, in light of the circumstances of time, place and person, personal sound purpose negated. Nevertheless, we sustain the challenged ruling of the trial court,
service or filing is mandatory. Only when personal service or filing is not practicable may but for reasons other than those provided for in the challenged order.
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 The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure took effect only on 1 July 1997, while the questioned
plausibility of an explanation, a court shall likewise consider the importance of the subject "Answer (with Counterclaims)" was filed only on 8 August 1997, or on the 39th day
matter of the case or the issues involved therein, and the prima facie merit of the following the effectivity of the 1997 Rules. Hence, private respondents' counsel may not
pleading sought to be expunged for violation of Section 11. This Court cannot rule have been fully aware of the requirements and ramifications of Section 11, Rule 13. In
otherwise, lest we allow circumvention of the innovation introduced by the 1997 Rules in fact, as pointed out by petitioner's counsel, in another case where private respondents'
order to obviate delay in the administration of justice. counsel was likewise opposing counsel, the latter similarly failed to comply with Section
11.
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 It has been several months since the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure took effect. In the
than the distance separating the offices of opposing counsel. Of course, proximity would interim, this Court has generally accommodated parties and counsel who failed to
seem to make personal service most practicable, but exceptions may nonetheless apply. comply with the requirement of a written explanation whenever personal service or filing
For instance, where the adverse party or opposing counsel to be served with a pleading was not practicable, guided, in the exercise of our discretion, by the primary objective of
seldom reports to office and no employee is regularly present to receive pleadings, or Section 11, the importance of the subject matter of the case, the issues involved and
where service is done on the last day of the reglementary period and the office of the the prima facie merit of the challenged pleading. However, as we have in the past, for the
adverse party or opposing counsel to be served is closed, for whatever reason. guidance of the Bench and Bar, strictest compliance with Section 11 of Rule 13 is
mandated one month from promulgation of this Decision.
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 WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED considering that while the justification
personal service of the answer was not effected, indubitably, private respondents' for the denial of the motion to expunge the "Answer (with Counterclaims)" may not
counsel violated Section 11 of Rule 13 and the motion to expunge was prima necessarily be correct, yet, for the reasons above stated, the violation of Section 11 of
facie meritorious. However, the grant or denial of said motion nevertheless remained Rule 13 may be condoned.
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 No pronouncement as to costs.
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 SO ORDERED.
in Alonso v. Villamor, 16 Phil. 315 [1910], the trial court opted to exercise its discretion in

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