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G.R. No. 192718 February 18, 2015

ROBERT F. MALLILIN, Petitioner,


vs.
LUZ G. JAMESOLAMIN and the REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the


Revised Rules of Court assailing the November 20, 2009 Decision1
of the Court of Appeals (CA) and its June 1, 2010 Resolution,2 in
CA-G.R. CV No. 78303-MIN, which reversed and set aside the
September 20, 2002 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
37, Cagayan de Oro City(RTC-Br.37), declaring the marriage
between petitioner Robert F. Mallilin (Robert) and private
respondent Luz G. Jamesolamin (Luz) null and void.

The Facts:

Robert and Luz were married on September 6, 1972. They begot


three (3) children.

On March 16, 1994, Robert filed a complaint for declaration of


nullity of marriage before the RTC, Branch 23, Cagayan de Oro
City (RTC-Br. 23). On March 7, 1996, RTC-Br. 23 denied the
petition. Robert appealed this judgment before the CA where it
was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 54261. On January 29, 1999, the
CA reversed the RTC-Br. 23 decision "due to lack of participation
of the State as required under Article 48 of the Family Code."3
The case was remanded to the RTC for further proceedings and its
records were thereafter transferred from RTC-Br. 23 to RTC-Br. 37,
as the latter was designated as Family Court pursuant to the
Family Code Act of 1997.
In the complaint, Robert alleged that at the time of the
celebration of their marriage, Luz was suffering from
psychological and mental incapacity and unpreparedness to enter
into such marital life and to comply with its essential obligations
and responsibilities. Such incapacity became even more apparent
during their marriage when Luz exhibited clear manifestation of
immaturity, irresponsibility, deficiency of independent rational
judgment, and inability to cope with the heavy and oftentimes
demanding obligation of a parent.

Luz filed her Answer with Counterclaim contesting the complaint.


She averred that it was Robert who manifested psychological
incapacity in their marriage. Despite due notice, however, she did
not appear during the trial. Assistant City Prosecutor Isabelo
Sabanal appeared for the State. When Robert testified, he
disclosed that Luz was already living in California, USA, and had
married an American. He also revealed that when they were still
engaged, Luz continued seeing and dating another boyfriend, a
certain Lt. Liwag. He also claimed that from the outset, Luz had
been remiss in her duties both as a wife and as a mother as
shown by the following circumstances: (1) it was he who did the
cleaning of the room because Luz did not know how to keep
order; (2) it was her mother who prepared their meal while her
sister was the one who washed their clothes because she did not
want her polished nails destroyed; (3) it was also her sister who
took care of their children while she spent her time sleeping and
looking at the mirror; (4) when she resumed her schooling, she
dated different men; (5) he received anonymous letters reporting
her loitering with male students; (6) when he was not home, she
would receive male visitors; (7) a certain Romy Padua slept in
their house when he was away; and (6) she would contract loans
without his knowledge.

In addition, Robert presented the testimony of Myrna Delos Reyes


Villanueva (Villanueva), Guidance Psychologist II of Northern
Mindanao Medical Center.
On May 8, 2000, while the case was pending before the trial
court, Robert filed a petition for marriage annulment with the
Metropolitan Tribunal of First Instance for the Archdiocese of
Manila (Metropolitan Tribunal).

On October 10, 2002, the Metropolitan Tribunal handed down a


decision declaring their marriage invalid ab initio on the ground of
grave lack of due discretion on the part of both parties as
contemplated by the second paragraph of Canon1095. This
decision was affirmed by the National Appellate Matrimonial
Tribunal (NAMT).

Prior to that, on September 20, 2002,the RTC had rendered a


decision declaring the marriage null and void on the ground of
psychological incapacity on the part of Luz as she failed to comply
with the essential marital obligations.

The State, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General


(OSG), interposed an appeal with the CA. The OSG argued that
Robert failed to make a case for declaration of nullity of his
marriage with Luz. It pointed out that the real cause of the marital
discord was the sexual infidelity of Luz. Such ground, the OSG
contended, should not result in the nullification of the marriage
under the law, but merely constituted a ground for legal
separation.

The CA, in its November 20, 2009 Decision,4 granted the petition
and reversed the RTC decision. The decision, including the
decretal portion, partially reads:

[W]e find that the trial court committed a reversible error. Closer
scrutiny of the records reveals, as correctly noted by the Solicitor
General, sexual infidelity are not rooted on some debilitating
psychological condition but a mere refusal or unwillingness to
assume the essential obligations of marriage. x x x.

xxxx
In the case at bar, apart from his self-serving declarations, the
evidence adduced by Robert fell short of establishing the fact that
at the time of their marriage, Luz was suffering from a
psychological defect which in fact deprived [her] of the ability to
assume the essential duties of marriage and its concomitant
responsibilities.

xxxx

We commiserate with the plaintiff-appellees undeserved marital


plight. Yet, Our paramount duty as a court compels Us to apply
the law at all costs, however harsh it may be on whomsoever is
called upon to bear its unbiased brunt.

FOR THESE REASONS, the appealed Decision dated September


20, 2002 in Civil Case No. 94-178 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. No
costs.

SO ORDERED.5

Robert filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied by the


CA in its June 1, 2010 Resolution,6 stating that the arguments of
Robert were mere rehash of the same ground, arguments and
discussion previously pointed out by him, and that no new
substance was brought out to warrant the reconsideration or
reversal of its decision.

Hence, this petition.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR:

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING THAT THE


ABSENCE OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINATION OF THE WIFE
UNDERSCORES THE EVIDENTIAL GAP TO SUSTAIN THE DECISION
OFTHE RTC DECLARING THE MARRIAGE OF PETITIONER TO
RESPONDENT NULL AND VOID ON THE GROUND OF
PSYCHOLOGICAL INCAPACITY IS CONTRARY TO LAW AND
JURISPRUDENCE.

II

THE RESPONDENT WIFE WAS ALSO DECLARED BY THE NATIONAL


APPELLATE MATRIMONIAL TRIBUNAL OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS
CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES AS GUILTY OF GRAVE LACKOF
DUE DISCRETION.

III

THE RESPONDENT WIFE WAS ALSO FOUND BY THE LOWER COURT


AS PSYCHOLOGICALLY INCAPACITATED TO COMPLY WITH THE
ESSENTIAL MARITAL OBLIGATIONS.

Robert now argues that he has sufficiently proven the nullity of his
marriage even in the absence of any medical, psychiatric or
psychological examination of the wife by a competent and
qualified professional. To bolster his claim, he avers that the
Metropolitan Tribunal already declared that Luz exhibited grave
lack of discretion in judgment concerning the essential rights and
obligations mutually given and accepted in marriage. The said
decision was affirmed by the NAMT.

Robert further argues that the sexual indiscretion of Luz with


different men coupled with the fact that she failed to function as a
home maker to her family and as a housewife to him
incapacitated her from accepting and complying with her
essential marital obligations. For said reason, he asserts that the
case of Luz was not a mere case of sexual infidelity, but clearly an
illness that was rooted on some debilitating psychological
condition which incapacitated her to carry out the responsibilities
of a married woman. Robert avers that a sex maniac is not just a
mere sexual infidel but one who is suffering from a deep
psychological problem.

Position of the State


The OSG argues that the CA correctly ruled that the totality of
evidence presented by Robert was not sufficient to support a
finding that Luz was psychologically incapacitated. His evidence
fell short of establishing his assertion that at the time of their
marriage, Luz was suffering from a psychological defect which
deprived her of the ability to assume the essential duties of
marriage and its concomitant responsibilities.

With regard to the findings of the Metropolitan Tribunal and the


NAMT, the OSG claims that the same were only given persuasive
value and were not controlling or decisive in cases of nullity of
marriage. Further, the decision was based on grave lack of
discretion of judgment concerning matrimonial rights and
obligations due to outside factors other than psychological
incapacity as contemplated in Article 36 of the Family Code. The
OSG also raises the strong possibility of collusion between the
parties as shown by the events that took place after the issuance
of the March 7, 1996 RTC Decision. The OSG wrote:

Significantly, the chronological events after the trial court issued


its March 7, 1996 Decision unmistakably show the collusion
between the parties to obtain the reliefs pleaded. Among others,
respondents Retraction of Testimony was executed without the
presence of counsel sometime in 1998, a few months before she
married an American. This irregularity was even noticed by the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 54261:

xxxx

The involvement and active participation of the Solicitor General


became indispensable, in the present recourse, when, in a
whirlwind turn of events, the Appellee made a VOLTE FACE
executed a "Retraction of Testimony" and a "Waiver of Custody"
waiving custody of Franco Mark J Mallillin, still a minor, her son by
the Appellant. It bears stressing that the Appellee, in the Court a
quo, obdurately denied the material allegations of the Appellants
complaint and declared that it was the Appellant who was
psychologically incapacitated. The sudden turn-about of the
appellee, in the present recourse, to the extent of disowning her
testimony in the Court a quo and even praying for the reversal of
the Decision of the Trial Court is strongly suggestive, if not
constitutive, of collusion or a modus vivendi between the parties,
outlawed by the Family Code of the Philippines and the
Constitution. x x x

The Courts Ruling

The main issue is whether the totality of the evidence adduced


proves that Luz was psychologically incapacitated to comply with
the essential obligations of marriage warranting the annulment of
their marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.

The petition is bereft of merit.

A petition for declaration of nullity of marriage is anchored on


Article 36 of the Family Code which provides:

Art. 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of


the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with
the essential marital obligation of marriage, shall likewise be void
even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its
solemnization. "Psychological incapacity," as a ground to nullify a
marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code, should refer to no
less than a mental not merely physical incapacity that causes
a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that
concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to
the marriage which, as so expressed in Article 68 of the Family
Code, among others, include their mutual obligations to live
together; observe love, respect and fidelity; and render help and
support. There is hardly a doubt that the intendment of the law
has been to confine the meaning of "psychological incapacity" to
the most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning
and significance to the marriage.7

Psychological incapacity as required by Article 36 must be


characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence and (c)
incurability. The incapacity must be grave or serious such that the
party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties
required in marriage. It must be rooted in the history of the party
antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may
only emerge after the marriage. It must be incurable or, even if it
were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party
involved.8

In Republic v. Court of Appeals and Eduardo C. De Quintos, Jr.,9


the Court reiterated the well-settled guidelines in resolving
petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage, embodied in
Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,10 based on Article 36 of
the Family Code. Thus:

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage


belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt should be resolved in favor of
the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its
dissolution and nullity. x x x.

xxxx

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a)


medically or clinically identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c)
sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly explained in the
decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity
must be psychological not physical, although its manifestations
and/or symptoms may be physical. x x x.

xxxx

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of


the celebration" of the marriage. x x x.

xxxx

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or


clinically permanent or incurable. x x x.

xxxx
(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the
disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of
marriage. Thus, "mild characteriological peculiarities, mood
changes, occasional emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as
root causes. x x x.

xxxx

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by


Articles 68 up to 71 of the Family Code as regards the husband
and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same Code in
regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital
obligation(s) must also be stated in the petition, proven by
evidence and included in the text of the decision.

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial


Tribunal of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not
controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by our
courts.

x x x.

xxxx

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal
and the Solicitor General to appear as counsel for the state. x x x.

Guided by these pronouncements, the Court is of the considered


view that Roberts evidence failed to establish the psychological
incapacity of Luz.

First, the testimony of Robert failed to overcome the burden of


proof to show the nullity of the marriage. Other than his self-
serving testimony, no other evidence was adduced to show the
alleged incapacity of Luz. He presented no other witnesses to
corroborate his allegations on her behavior. Thus, his testimony
was self-serving and had no serious value as evidence.
Second, the root cause of the alleged psychological incapacity of
Luz was not medically or clinically identified, and sufficiently
proven during the trial. Based on the records, Robert failed to
prove that her disposition of not cleaning the room, preparing
their meal, washing the clothes, and propensity for dating and
receiving different male visitors, was grave, deeply rooted, and
incurable within the parameters of jurisprudence on psychological
incapacity.

The alleged failure of Luz to assume her duties as a wife and as a


mother, as well as her emotional immaturity, irresponsibility and
infidelity, cannot rise to the level of psychological incapacity that
justifies the nullification of the parties' marriage. The Court has
repeatedly stressed that psychological incapacity contemplates
"downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to
assume the basic marital obligations," not merely the refusal,
neglect or difficulty, much less ill will, on the part of the errant
spouse.11 Indeed, to be declared clinically or medically incurable
is one thing; to refuse or be reluctant to perform one's duties is
another. Psychological incapacity refers only to the most serious
cases of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter
insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the
marriage.12

As correctly found by the CA, sexual infidelity or perversion and


abandonment do not, by themselves, constitute grounds for
declaring a marriage void based on psychological incapacity.
Robert argues that the series of sexual indiscretion of Luz were
external manifestations of the psychological defect that she was
suffering within her person, which could be considered as
nymphomania or "excessive sex hunger." Other than his
allegations, however, no other convincing evidence was adduced
to prove that these sexual indiscretions were considered as
nymphomania, and that it was grave, deeply rooted, and
incurable within the term of psychological incapacity embodied in
Article 36. To stress, Roberts testimony alone is insufficient to
prove the existence of psychological incapacity.
In Sivino A. Ligeralde v. May Ascension A. Patalinghug and the
Republic of the Philippines,13 the Court ruled that the
respondents act of living an adulterous life cannot automatically
be equated with a psychological disorder, especially when no
specific evidence was shown that promiscuity was a trait already
existing at the inception of marriage. The petitioner must be able
to establish that the respondents unfaithfulness was a
manifestation of a disordered personality, which made her
completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the
marital state.

Third, the psychological report of Villanueva, Guidance


Psychologist II of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Cagayan
de Oro City, was insufficient to prove the psychological in capacity
of Luz. There was nothing in the records that would indicate that
Luz had either been interviewed or was subjected to a
psychological examination. The finding as to her psychological
incapacity was based entirely on hearsay and the self-serving
information provided by Robert.

Fourth, the decision of the Metropolitan Tribunal is insufficient to


prove the psychological incapacity of Luz. Although it is true that
in the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals and Molina,14 the
Court stated that interpretations given by the NAMT of the
Catholic Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or
decisive, should be given great respect by our courts, still it is
subject to the law on evidence. Thus:

Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code


is to harmonize our civil laws with the religious faith of our people,
it stands to reason that to achieve such harmonization, great
persuasive weight should be given to decisions of such appellate
tribunal. Ideally subject to our law on evidence what is decreed
as [canonically] invalid should be decreed civilly void x x x.
(Emphasis supplied)

Pertinently, Rule 132, Section 34 of the Rules of Evidence


provides:
The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally
offered. The purpose of which the evidence is offered must be
specified.

In this regard, the belated presentation of the decision of the


NAMT cannot be given value since it was not offered during the
trial, and the Court has in no way of ascertaining the evidence
considered by the same tribunal.

Granting that it was offered and admitted, it must be pointed out


that the basis of the declaration of nullity of marriage by the
NAMT was not the third paragraph of Canon 1095 which mentions
causes of a psychological nature similar to Article 36 of the Family
Code, but the second paragraph of Canon 1095 which refers to
those who suffer from grave lack of discretion of judgment
concerning essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be
mutually given and accepted. For clarity, the pertinent portions of
the NAMT decision are as follows:

The FACTS on the Case prove with the certitude required by law
that based on the deposition of the petitioner the respondent
understandably ignored the proceedings completely for which she
was duly cited for Contempt of Court and premised on the
substantially concordant testimonies of the Witnesses, the woman
Respondent demonstrated in the external forum through her
action and reaction patterns, before and after the marriage-in-
fact, her grave lack of due discretion in judgement for marriage
intents and purposes basically by reason of her immaturity of
judgement as manifested by her emotional ambivalence x x x.

WHEREFORE, this COLLEGIAL COURT OF APPEALS, having invoked


the Divine Name and having in mind the Law, the Jurisprudence
and the Facts pertaining to the Case, hereby declares and decrees
the confirmation of the nullity decision rendered by the
Metropolitan Tribunal of First Instance for the Archdiocese of
Manila on the Marriage Case MALLILIN JAMISOLAMIN with Prot.
N. 63/2000 on the ground provided by Canon 1095 par. 2CIC on
the part of the woman Respondent but NOT on the part of the
man Petitioner for lack of evidence. (Emphases and underscoring
supplied)15

In Santos v. Santos,6 the Court referred to the deliberations


during the sessions of the Family Code Revision Committee, which
drafted the Code, to provide an insight on the import of Article 36
of the Family Code. It went out to state that a part of the provision
is similar to the third paragraph of Canon 1095 of the Code of
Canon Law, which reads:

Canon 1095. The following are incapable of contracting marriage:

1. those who lack sufficient use of reason;

2. those who suffer from a grave lack of discretion of judgment


concerning the essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be
mutually given and accepted;

3. those who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are


unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage.(Emphasis
and underscoring supplied)

In Najera v. Najera,17 the Court was also confronted with a similar


issue of whether to consider an annulment by the NAMT as also
covering psychological incapacity, the only ground recognized in
our law. In the said case, the NAMT decision was also based on
the second paragraph of Canon 1095. The Court ruled that it was
not similar to, and only annulments under the third paragraph of,
Canon 1095 should be considered. Elucidating, the Court wrote:
Petitioners argument is without merit.

In its Decision dated February 23, 2004, the Court of Appeals


apparently did not have the opportunity to consider the decision
of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal. Nevertheless, it is
clear that the Court of Appeals considered the Matrimonial
Tribunals decision in its Resolution dated August 5, 2004 when it
resolved petitioners motion for reconsideration. In the said
Resolution, the Court of Appeals took cognizance of the very
same issues now raised before this Court and correctly held that
petitioners motion for reconsideration was devoid of merit. It
stated:

The Decision of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal dated


July 2, 2002, which was forwarded to this Court only on February
11, 2004, reads as follows:

[T]he FACTS collated from party complainant and reliable


witnesses which include a sister-in-law of Respondent (despite
summons from the Court dated June14, 1999, he did not appear
before the Court, in effect waiving his right to be heard, hence,
trial in absentia followed) corroborate and lead this Collegiate
Court to believe with moral certainty required by law and
conclude that the husband-respondent upon contracting marriage
suffered from grave lack of due discretion of judgment, thereby
rendering nugatory his marital contract: First, his family was
dysfunctional in that as a child, he saw the break-up of the
marriage of his own parents; his own two siblings have broken
marriages; Second, he therefore grew up with a domineering
mother with whom [he] identified and on whom he depended for
advice; Third, he was according to his friends, already into drugs
and alcohol before marriage; this affected his conduct of bipolar
kind: he could be very quiet but later very talkative, peaceful but
later hotheaded even violent, he also was aware of the infidelity
of his mother who now lives with her paramour, also married and
a policeman; Finally, into marriage, he continued with his drugs
and alcohol abuse until one time he came home very drunk and
beat up his wife and attacked her with a bolo that wounded her;
this led to final separation.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court of Second Instance,


having invoked the Divine Name and having considered the
pertinent Law and relevant Jurisprudence to the Facts of the Case
hereby proclaims, declares and decrees the confirmation of the
sentence from the Court a quo in favor of the nullity of marriage
on the ground contemplated under Canon 1095, 2 of the 1983
Code of Canon Law.
However, records of the proceedings before the Trial Court show
that, other than herself, petitioner-appellant offered the
testimonies of the following persons only, to wit: Aldana
Celedonia (petitioner-appellants mother), Sonny de la Cruz
(member, PNP, Bugallon, Pangasinan), and Ma. Cristina R. Gates
(psychologist). Said witnesses testified, in particular, to the
unfaithful night of July 1, 1994 wherein the respondent allegedly
made an attempt on the life of the petitioner. But unlike the
hearing and finding before the Matrimonial Tribunal, petitioner-
appellants sister-in-law and friends of the opposing parties were
never presented before said Court. As to the contents and
veracity of the latters testimonies, this Court is without any clue.
True, in the case of Republic v. Court of Appeals, et al. (268 SCRA
198), the Supreme Court held that the interpretations given by
the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic Church
in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be
given great respect by our courts. However, the Highest Tribunal
expounded as follows:

Since the purpose of including such provision in our Family Code


is to harmonize our civil laws with the religious faith of our people,
it stands to reason that to achieve such harmonization, great
persuasive weight should be given to decisions of such appellate
tribunal. Ideally subject to our law on evidence what is decreed
as [canonically] invalid should be decreed civilly void x x x.

And in relation thereto, Rule 132, Sec. 34 of the Rules of Evidence


states:

The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally
offered. The purpose of which the evidence is offered must be
specified.

Given the preceding disquisitions, petitioner-appellant should not


expect us to give credence to the Decision of the National
Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal when, apparently, it was made on
a different set of evidence of which We have no way of
ascertaining their truthfulness. Furthermore, it is an elementary
rule that judgments must be based on the evidence presented
before the court (Manzano vs. Perez, 362 SCRA 430 [2001]). And
based on the evidence on record, We find no ample reason to
reverse or modify the judgment of the Trial Court.[31]

Santos v. Santos18 cited the deliberations during the sessions of


the Family Code Revision Committee, which drafted the Code, to
provide an insight on the import of Article 36 of the Family Code.
It stated that a part of the provision is similar to the third
paragraph of Canon 1095 of the Code of Canon Law, which reads:

Canon 1095. The following are incapable of contracting marriage:

1. those who lack sufficient use of reason;

2. those who suffer from a grave lack of discretion of judgment


concerning the essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be
mutually given and accepted;

3. those who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are


unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

It must be pointed out that in this case, the basis of the


declaration of nullity of marriage by the National Appellate
Matrimonial Tribunal is not the third paragraph of Canon 1095
which mentions causes of a psychological nature, but the second
paragraph of Canon 1095 which refers to those who suffer from a
grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning essential
matrimonial rights and obligations to be mutually given and
accepted. For clarity, the pertinent portion of the decision of the
National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal reads:

The FACTS collated from party complainant and reliable witnesses


which include a sister-in-law of Respondent (despite summons
from the Court dated June 14, 1999, he did not appear before the
Court, in effect waiving his right to be heard, hence, trial in
absentia followed) corroborate and lead this Collegiate Court to
believe with moral certainty required by law and conclude that
the husband-respondent upon contacting marriage suffered from
grave lack of due discretion of judgment, thereby rendering
nugatory his marital contract x x x.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court of Second Instance,


having invoked the Divine Name and having considered the
pertinent Law and relevant Jurisprudence to the Facts of the Case
hereby proclaims, declares and decrees the confirmation of the
sentence from the Court a quo in favor of the nullity of marriage
on the ground contemplated under Canon 1095, 2 of the 1983
Code of Canon Law. x x x.

Hence, even if, as contended by petitioner, the factual basis of


the decision of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal is
similar to the facts established by petitioner before the trial court,
the decision of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal
confirming the decree of nullity of marriage by the court a quo is
not based on the psychological incapacity of respondent.
Petitioner, therefore, erred in stating that the conclusion of
Psychologist Cristina Gates regarding the psychological incapacity
of respondent is supported by the decision of the National
Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal.

In fine, the Court of Appeals did not err in affirming the Decision
of the RTC. (Emphases in the original; Underscoring supplied)

Hence, Roberts reliance on the NAMT decision is misplaced. To


repeat, the decision of the NAMT was based on the second
paragraph of Canon 1095 which refers to those who suffer from a
grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning essential
matrimonial rights and obligations to be mutually given and
accepted, a cause not of psychological nature under Article 36 of
the Family Code. A cause of psychological nature similar to Article
36 is covered by the third paragraph of Canon 1095 of the Code
of Canon Law (Santos v. Santos 19), which for ready reference
reads:

Canon 1095. The following are incapable of contracting marriage:

xxxx
3. those who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are
unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

To hold that annulment of marriages decreed by the NAMT under


the second paragraph of Canon 1095 should also be covered
would be to expand what the lawmakers did not intend to include.
What would prevent members of other religious groups from
invoking their own interpretation of psychological incapacity?
Would this not lead to multiple, if not inconsistent,
interpretations?

To consider church annulments as additional grounds for


annulment under Article 36 would be legislating from the
bench.1wphi1 As stated in Republic v. Court of Appeals and
Molina,20 interpretations given by the NAMT of the Catholic
Church in the Philippines are given great respect by our courts,
but they are not controlling or decisive.

In Republic v. Galang,21 it was written that the Constitution set


out a policy of protecting and strengthening the family as the
basic social institution, and the marriage was the foundation of
the family. Marriage, as an inviolable institution protected by the
State, cannot be dissolved at the whim of the parties. In petitions
for declaration of nullity of marriage, the burden of proof to show
the nullity of marriage lies with the plaintiff. Unless the evidence
presented clearly reveals a situation where the parties, or one of
them, could not have validly entered into a marriage by reason of
a grave and serious psychological illness existing at the time it
was celebrated, the Court is compelled to uphold the
indissolubility of the marital tie.

In fine, the Court holds that the CA decided correctly. Petitioner


Robert failed to adduce sufficient and convincing evidence to
prove the alleged psychological incapacity of Luz.

As asserted by the OSG, the allegations of the petitioner make a


case for legal separation. Hence, this decision is without prejudice
to an action for legal separation if a party would want to pursue
such proceedings. In this disposition, the Court cannot decree a
legal separation because in such proceedings, there are matters
and consequences like custody and separation of properties that
need to be considered and settled.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of


Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 78303-MIN, dated November 20, 2009,
and its Resolution, dated June 1, 2010, are hereby AFFIRMED,
without prejudice.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.*


Associate Justice MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice
MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been


reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer
of the opinion of the Court's Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division
CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the


Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in
the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's
Division.

MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes

* Designated Acting member in lieu of Associate Justice Arturo D.


Brion, per Special Order No. 1910, dated January 12, 2015.

1 Rollo, pp. 47-60, penned by Associate Justice Edgardo A.


Camello, and Associate Justice Edgardo T. Lloren and Associate
Justice Leoncia R. Dimagiba, concurring.

2 Id. at 76-77.

3 Id. at 48.

4 Id. at 47 penned by Associate Justice Edgardo A. Camello, and


Associate Justice Edgardo T. Lloren, with Associate Justice Leoncia
R. Dimagiba, concurring.

5 Id. at 57-59.

6 Id. at 76.

7 Republic v. Garcia, G.R. No. 171557, February 12, 2014.

8 Ligarde v. Patalinghug, G.R. No. 168796, April 15, 2010, 618


SCRA 315, 320321.

9 G.R. No. 159594, November 12, 2012, 685 SCRA 33, 42-43.
10 335 Phil. 664, 676 678 (1997).

11 Republic v. Encelan, G.R. No. 170022, January 9, 2013, 668


SCRA 215, 221.

12 Republic v. Gracia, supra note 7.

13 Supra note 8, at 322.

14 Supra note 10, at 679.

15 Rollo, p. 83.

16 310 Phil. 21, 37 (1995).

17 609 Phil. 316, 336 (2009), also citing Santos v. Santos, supra.

18 Supra note 16.

19 Supra note 16.

20 Supra note 10, at 679.


21 G.R. No. 168335, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 524, 543-544.

Case Digest
FACTS:

Robert and Luz were married on 1972. In 1994, Robert filed a


complaint for declaration of nullity of marriage before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC). Robert disclosed that Luz was already
living in California, USA, and had married an American. He also
revealed that when they were still engaged, Luz continued seeing
and dating another boyfriend, a certain Lt. Liwag. He also claimed
that from the outset, Luz had been remiss in her duties both as a
wife and as a mother as shown by the following circumstances:
(1) it was he who did the cleaning of the room because Luz did
not know how to keep order; (2) it was her mother who prepared
their meal while her sister was the one who washed their clothes
because she did not want her polished nails destroyed; (3) it was
also her sister who took care of their children while she spent her
time sleeping and looking at the mirror; (4) when she resumed
her schooling, she dated different men; (5) he received
anonymous letters reporting her loitering with male students; (6)
when he was not home, she would receive male visitors; (7) a
certain Romy Padua slept in their house when he was away; and
(6) she would contract loans without his knowledge.
In addition, Robert presented the testimony of Myrna Delos Reyes
Villanueva (Villanueva), Guidance Psychologist II of Northern
Mindanao Medical Center. While the case was pending before RTC,
Robert filed a petition for marriage annulment with the
Metropolitan Tribunal of First Instance for the Archdiocese of
Manila (Metropolitan Tribunal) which was granted and, later on,
affirmed by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal (NAMT).
The RTC declared the marriage null and void on the ground of
psychological incapacity on the part of Luz. The State, through the
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), interposed an appeal with
the Court of Appeals which, later on, reversed the RTC decision.

ISSUE:

Did the totality of the evidence adduced by Robert prove that Luz
is
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential
obligations of marriage warranting the annulment of their
marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code?

RULING:
No. The Court has repeatedly stressed that psychological
incapacity
contemplates "downright incapacity or inability to take
cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations," not
merely the refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will, on the
part of the errant spouse. Indeed, to be declared clinically or
medically incurable is one thing; to refuse or be reluctant to
perform one's duties is another.

Other than his allegations, however, no other convincing evidence


was adduced to prove that these sexual indiscretions were
considered as nymphomania, and that it was grave, deeply
rooted, and incurable within the term of psychological incapacity
embodied in Article 36. To stress, Roberts testimony alone is
insufficient to prove the existence of psychological incapacity. The
psychological report of Villanueva was insufficient to prove the
psychological incapacity of Luz. There was nothing in the records
that would indicate that Luz had either been interviewed or was
subjected to a psychological examination. The finding as to her
psychological incapacity was based entirely on hearsay and the
self-serving information provided by Robert. The decision of the
Metropolitan Tribunal is insufficient to prove the
psychological incapacity of Luz. The Court stated that
interpretations given by the NAMT of the Catholic Church in the
Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given
great respect by our courts, still it is subject to the law on
evidence. To consider church annulments as additional grounds
for annulment under Article 36 would be legislating from the
bench.
2

G.R. No. L-28642 April 30, 1976

MARIA CASTRO and CO LING petitioners,


vs.
HONORABLE JAVIER PABALAN, Judge of the Court of First
Instance of La Union, and SGT. ERNESTO
LUMANG, respondents.

Marcelino B. Florentino for petitioners.

Jose L Yumang for respondent Sgt. Ernesto Lumang. Hon.


Javier Pabalan for and in his own behalf.

FERNANDO, J.:

This Court is confronted anew in this certiorari proceeding with


the claim that a search warrant issued without complying with the
requisites of the Constitution 1 and the Rules of Court 2 should
have been nullified, but was not in the challenged order of
respondent Judge Javier Pabalan. 3 More specifically, it was the
failure of the application for the search warrant as well as the
search warrant itself to specify the specific offense, to examine
the applicant as well as his witnesses on the part of respondent
Judge, and to describe with particularity the place to be searched
and the things to be seized, that were singled out to justify the
assertion of illegality. When required to answer, respondent Judge
did not bother to refute specifically the allegations of the petition
for certiorari, but merely contented himself with inviting attention
to the challenged order as well as the resolutions denying the
motion for reconsideration and with the statement that he "has no
particular prayer to ask the Supreme Court," an assertion
thereafter repeated in the second paragraph of his two-paragraph
answer that he "has no request to make in this particular case
leaving the issues entirely to the discretion of the Supreme
Court." 4 The tone of diffidence, almost of apology, is easy to
understand. It is difficult to resist the thought that respondent
Judge failed to pay heed to authoritative decisions of this Court.
The most cursory perusal of the application for search
warrant 5 by respondent Lumang and the search warrant
itself, 6 yields no other conclusion. Respondent Judge ignored
what the Constitution requires on two points, the existence of a
probable cause and the particular description of the things to be
seized. The limitation as to the specific offense as mandated by
the Rules of Court was not observed either. Even on the
assumption then that he could not

relevant According to the former: "A search warrant shall not


issue but upon probable cause in connection with one specific
offense to be determined by the municipal or city judge after
examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the
witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place
to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. No search
warrant shall issue for more than one specific offense." Section 4
provides: "The municipal or city judge must, before issuing the
warrant, personally examine on oath or affirmation the
complainant and any witnesses he may produce and take their
depositions in writing, and attach them to the record, in addition
to any affidavits presented to him." be held chargeable with
knowledge of the leading Stonehill decision, 7 announced barely
twenty days before the search warrant in question was issued,
still from Alverez v. Court of First Instance 8 the first to be decided
under the 1935 Constitution, promulgated in 1937, to Oca v.
Marquez, 9 that came out in 1965, this Court had adhered firmly
to the view that for a search warrant to escape the imputation of
being unreasonable, there should be strict conformity with the
requirements of the Constitution and the applicable procedural
rules. The finding then should have been against the validity of
the search warrant. Nonetheless, insofar as such order limited
itself to requiring the return solely of the liquor, the pack of
playing cards, the bottle of distilled water and five bottles of
Streptomycin, all of which may be considered as personal effects
of petitioners, with the rest of the goods taken falling under the
category of things forbidden by law and therefore need not be
restored, 10 it can be sustained. So we rule.

In the opening paragraph of the application for search warrant,


respondent Ernesto I. Lumang admitted that "he has been
informed" and therefore was of the belief that petitioners Maria
Castro and Co Ling, whose place of residence was not even
indicated, although subsequently mention was made of their
being at Barrio Padasil, Bangar, La Union, "have in possession
narcotics and other contraband." 11 There is a claim that he had
verified the report and that therefore he had "reasons to believe
that a Search Warrant should be issued to enable the undersigned
to take possession" of such narcotics and other contraband. 12 The
application was accompanied by the joint affidavit of a Sergeant
Francisco C. Molina and a Corporal Lorenzo G. Apilado of the
Philippine Constabulary. 13 Again, mention was merely made of
their information about narcotics and other contraband being kept
by petitioners. They did allege therein that they conducted rigid
surveillance, but all they could come out with is that petitioner Co
Ling is an overstaying alien for almost ten years conducting such
traffic and that after verification, he was not registered in the
Immigration Office. 14 Then, on the very same day, July 10, 1967,
the search warrant was issued for illegal traffic of narcotics and
contraband. 15 Again, there was reference to the possession by
petitioners of such forbidden goods. As to the complete and
detailed description of the properties to be seized, the search
warrant merely mentioned illegal traffic of narcotics and
contraband inside the warehouse and premises of
petitioners. 16 In the resolution upholding the validity of the search
warrant, respondent Judge did state the following: "On July 10,
1967, Ernesto Lumang, Sgt. of the PC, with a long service behind,
appeared in chamber before the Presiding Judge of Branch I of this
Court. With him were Sgt. Molina and Cpl. Apilado both of the PC
Command of La Union. The three submitted to the Presiding Judge
in chamber an application for search warrant which is Exhibit I in
this case and a joint affidavit supporting the search warrant
asked. As Sgt. Lumang said, testifying regarding this incident,
those appearing were asked, although not in writing and not
recorded, some questions by the Presiding Judge regarding their
request of the search warrant on the knowledge of Molina and
Apilado on the facts stated on the application and on the joint
affidavit. The inquiry was brief. The barrio to be searched was
handwritten in ink, Maria Cristina cancelling the typewritten name
Padasil. But this correction was not done in the duplicates.
Anyhow Padasil and Maria Cristina are adjoining barrios. After the
routine taking of their oath and examination questions and
answers, the Presiding Judge of this Branch signed the application
for search warrant, the joint affidavits, and forthwith issued the
search warrant which is Exhibit C." 17

As set forth at the outset, failure to abide by both the Constitution


and the procedural law in terms of the existence of a probable
cause, a particular description of the property to be seized and
the requirement that there be only one specific offense, is quite
manifest.

1. This excerpt from the epochal opinion of former Chief Justice


Concepcion in Stonehill v. Diokno 18 is highly relevant: "Two points
must be stressed in connection with this constitutional
mandate, namely: (1) that no warrant shall issue but upon
probable cause, to be determined by the judge in the manner set
forth in said provision; and (2) that the warrant
shall particularly describe the things to be seized. None of these
requirements has been complied with in the contested warrants.
Indeed, the same were issued upon applications stating that the
natural and juridical persons therein named had committed a
'violation of Central Bank Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal
Revenue (Code) and Revised Penal Code.' In other words,
no specific offense had been alleged in said applications. The
averments thereof with respect to the offense committed
were abstract. As a consequence, it was impossible for the judges
who issued the warrants to have found the existence of probable
cause, for the same presupposes the introduction of competent
proof that the party against whom it is sought has
performed particular acts, or committed specific omissions,
violating a given provision of our criminal laws. As a matter of
fact, the applications involved in this case do not allege any
specific acts performed by herein petitioners. It would be a legal
heresy, of the highest order, to convict anybody of a 'violation of
Central Bank Laws, Tariff and Customs Laws, Internal Revenue
(Code) and Revised Penal Code,' as alleged in the
aforementioned applications without reference to any
determinate provision of said laws or codes." 19 That same
approach is reflected in the two subsequent cases of Bache & Co.
(Phil.), Inc. v. Ruiz 20 and Asian Surety & Insurance Co., Inc. v.
Herrera. 21 It bears repeating, as was emphasized in Stonehill v.
Diokno, that the averments as to the alleged commission of the
offenses imputed to petitioner were abstract. As admitted in the
challenged order, the inquiry was brief. Subsequently, reference
was made to "the routine taking of [their oath] and examination
questions and answers ..." 22 Nor can such perfunctory manner in
which respondent Judge conducted the required "examination
under oath" be justified merely because respondent Lumang was
"a Sergeant of the PC, with a long service behind
[him]." 23 Moreover, contrary to the Rules of Court, he did not
even bother to take the depositions of the witnesses in writing,
attaching them to the record. 24 There was thus a manifest and
palpable violation of the constitutional standard as to the
quantum of proof to show the existence of probable cause, as so
clearly enunciated in Stonehill.

2. Then again, the Constitution requires, for the validity of a


search warrant, that there be a particular description of "the place
to be searched and the persons or things to be seized." 25 As was
admitted by the judge in the challenged resolution, there was a
mistake concerning the residence of petitioners, which was set
forth in the search warrant as being in Barrio Padasil when in fact
it is in Barrio Maria Cristina. He would gloss over such inaccuracy
by saying that they were, anyway, adjoining barrios. As to the
premises to be searched, it may be admitted that the deficiency
in the writ is not of sufficient gravity to call for its invalidation.
Nonetheless, and again in line with Stonehill v. Diokno, the
Constitution is quite explicit that there be a particular description
of the things to be seized. That requisite was not complied with in
this case. That would explain why the searching party felt it had a
free hand and did take possession of various kinds of goods,
including personal effects, which respondent Judge himself would
have them return. What was aptly characterized as a "major
objective" of this constitutional provision, the elimination of
general warrants, was thus frustrated. It need not be stressed
anew that this Court is resolutely committed to the doctrine that
this constitutional provision is of a mandatory character and
therefore must be strictly complied with. 26 To quote from the
landmark American decision of Boyd v. United States: 27 "It is the
duty of courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the
citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon. Their
motto should be obsta principis." 28

3. Another infirmity was the failure to comply with the basic


procedural requisite that a search warrant "shall not issue but
upon probable cause in connection with one specific
offense." 29 Here reference was made to "an illegal traffic of
narcotics and contraband." The latter is a generic term covering
all goods exported from or imported into the country contrary to
applicable statutes. Necessarily then, more than one offense
could arise from the activity designated as illegal traffic of
narcotics and contraband. As a matter of fact, in the challenged
order, reference was made to at least three charges having been
filed, the violation of Section 203 of the Internal Revenue Code, its
Section 1039 on tax evasion, as well as illegal possession of
opium. It would seem that once again what was correctly pointed
out by Chief Justice Concepcion in Stonehill v. Diokno as
unjustified and unwarranted finds application. Nor can there be
any plausibility to the possible excuse, to repeat what was said
before, that the Stonehill opinion having been rendered only
twenty days previous to the issuance of the search warrant,
respondent Judge could not be held chargeable with a knowledge
thereof, considering that as far back as July 30, 1965, two years
earlier, in Oca v. Marquez, 30 this Court, through the then Justice J.
P. Bengzon, enunciated: "The decision herein has applied the
provisions of th Old Rules of Court since this case arose under
said Rules. Attention of the Bench and Bar is however called to
the fact that effective January 1, 1964 the issuance of search
warrants is governed by Section 3, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules
of Court which among other things requires that a search warrant
must be in connection with one specific offense." 31

4. As was made clear at the outset, though, the illegality of the


search warrant does not call for the return of the things seized,
the possession of which is prohibited by law. This is the
established doctrine in this jurisdiction. As far back as Uy Kheytin
v. Villareal, 32 a 1920 decision, it was held: "That although in the
issuance of the search warrant in question the judge did not
comply with the requirements of section 98 of General Orders No.
58, the petitioners are not entitled to the return of the opium. and
its paraphernalia which were found and seized under said
warrant, and much less are they entitled to be exonerated
because of such omission of the judge." 33 Among the authorities
cited is Cooley: "'Search-warrants have heretofore been allowed
to search for stolen goods, for goods supposed to have been
smuggled into the country in violation of the revenue laws, for
implements of gaming or counterfeiting, for lottery tickets or
Prohibited liquors kept for sale contrary to law, for obscene books
and papers kept for sale or circulation, and for powder or other
explosive and dangerous material so kept as to endanger the
public safety.'" 34 So, also, in Yee Sue Koy v. Almeda, 35 handed
down in 1940, Justice Laurel, speaking for this Court, stated: "If it
be true, furthermore, without, however, deciding the point, that
as alleged by the respondents the articles in question constitute
the corpus delicti of the Usury Law, their return to the petitioners
cannot be ordered." 36 Magoncia v. Palacios, 37 promulgated in
1948, reiterated such a doctrine. Thus: "En el asunto de Uy
Kheytin contra Villareal (42 Jur. Fil. 935), los recurrentes pidieron
la devolucion del opio de que se incautaron los constabularies al
registrar su casa armados con un mandamiento de registro
expedido sin cumplir las disposiciones de los articulos 96 y 98 de
la Orden General No. 58; sostenian que los requisites exigidos por
dichos articulos no se habian cumplido, y por tanto, el
mandamiento de registro era ilegal, como si no existiera; que al
registro se ha hecho sin mandamiento de registro debidamente
expedido. Este Tribunal denego la peticion, declarando que la
irregularidad de la expedicion del mandamiento de registro ne era
suficiente causa para ordenar la devolucion del opio. El Hon. Juez
recurrido no abuso de su discrecion al denegar la devolucion al
acusado del paltik, 42 municiones y una granada de mano,
tampoco abuso de su sana discrecion al denegar la peticion del
acusado de que se prohiba al Fiscal Provincial y al Jefe de Policia
de Asingan, Pangasinan a presentar tales efectos como prueba en
la vista." 38

5. This decision leaves open the question of the legality of any


possible use that may be made by the prosecuting authorities of
the articles seized under an invalid search warrant. Here, again,
the Yee Sue Koy opinion of Justice Laurel is illuminating, especially
in view of the inadmissibility of evidence illegally seized under the
present Constitution 39 At this stage, the question does not have
to be faced. The words of Justice Laurel follow: "While we reiterate
the rule that the seizure of books and documents by means of a
search warrant ' for the purpose of using them as evidence in a
criminal case against the person in whose possession they were
found is unconstitutional because it makes the warrant
unreasonable, and it is equivalent to a violation of the
constitutional provision prohibiting the compulsion of an accused
to testify against himself ..., the said rule has no applicable force
in the present case. ... In the application for the issuance of the
search warrant in question, it was alleged that the articles seized
were 'being used by it (Sam Sing & Co.) in connection with its
activities of lending money at usurious rate of interest in violation
of the Usury Law,' and it is now suggested (memoranda of
respondents) that the only object of the agents of the Anti-Usury
Board in keeping the articles is to prevent the petitioners from
employing them as a means of further violations of the Usury Law.
In this state of the record, without deciding the question whether
the petitioners will in fact use the articles in question, if returned,
for illegal purposes, we are not prepared to order the return
prayed for by the petitioners. (Cf. People v. Rubio, 57 Phil. 384,
394-395.)" 40

WHEREFORE, the writ of certiorari is granted and the order of


September 12, 1967 denying the motion of petitioners to annul
the search warrant as well as the resolutions of October 26, 1967
and January 29, 1968 denying the motions for reconsiderations
are reversed, the decision of this Court being that the search
warrant in question is tainted by illegality for being violative both
of the Constitution and the Rules of Court. It is likewise the
decision of this Court that notwithstanding the illegality of such
search warrant, the challenged order of respondent Judge can be
sustained only insofar as it would limit the return of the articles
seized to the liquor, the pack of playing cards, the bottle of
distilled water and five bottles of Streptomycin taken under such
search warrant. No costs.

Barred, Antonio, Aquino and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1 The search warrant was issued on July 10, 1967 at a


time when the 1935 Constitution was still in force. As
set forth in Art. III, Sec. 1, par. (3): "The right of the
people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers
and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures
shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but
upon probable cause, to be determined by the judge
after examination under oath or affirmation of the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and
particularly describing the place to be searched, and
the persons or things to be seized." Under the present
Constitution, Art. IV, Sec. 3, the provision remains
unaltered except for the vesting of the competence on
any other responsible officer as may be authorized by
law to issue a search warrant or a warrant of arrest
where formerly only a judge may do so.

2 Rule 126 of the Rules of Court defines with


particularity how a search warrant may be issued.
Sections 3 and 4 are particularly
3 Ernesto Lumang, a Philippine Constabulary Sergeant
who applied for the search warrant, was included
likewise as a respondent.

4 Answer of Respondent Judge Pabalan dated February


28, l968.

5 Petition, Annex A.

6 Ibid, Annex B.

7 Stonehill v. Diokno, L-19550, June 19, 1967, 20 SCRA


383.

8 64 Phil. 33.

9 L-20749, July 30, 1965, 14 SCRA 735.

10 Cf. Uy Kheytin v. Villareal, 42 Phil. 886 (1920);


Magoncia v. Palacio, 80 Phil 770(1948).

11 Petition, Annex A.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid, Annex B.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid, Annex C.

16 Ibid.

17 Resolution dated September 12,1967, Ibid, Annex H.

18 L-19550, June 19, 1967 20 SCRA 383.

19 Ibid, 391-392.

20 L-32409, February 27, 1971, 37 SCRA 823.

21 L-25232, December 20, 1973, 54 SCRA 312.


22 Resolution, Annex H.

23 Ibid.

24 Cf. Rule 126, Section 3.

25 Art. 111, Sec. 1, par. 3 of the 1935 Constitution.

26 Alvarez v. Court of First Instance, 64 Phil. 33 (1937).

27 116 US 616 (1886).

28 Ibid, 630.

29 Section 3 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court bears


repeating in full: "A search warrant shall not issue but
upon probable cause in connection with one specific
offense to be determined by the municipal or city judge
after examination gander oath or affirmation of the
complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and
particularly describing the place to be searched and the
persons or things to be seized. No search warrant shall
issue for more than one specific offense." What cannot
escape attention is that the Rules of Court twice spoke
of such basic limitation of "one specific offense."

30 L-20749, July 30, 1965, 14 SCRA 735.

31 Ibid, 738.

32 42 Phil. 886.

33 Ibid, 899-900.

34 Ibid, 892. The citation came from Cooley on


Constitutional Limitations, 7th ed., 432 (1909).

35 70 Phil. 141.

36 Ibid, 148.
37 80 Phil. 770.

38 Ibid, 774-775.

39 According to Art. IV, See. 4, par. (2) of the present


Constitution: "Any evidence obtained in violation of this
or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any
purpose in any proceeding."

40 70 Phil. 141, 147-148.

Case Digest
FACTS:

Respondent Ernesto I. Lumang admitted that "he has been


informed" and was of the belief that Maria Castro and Co Ling,
whose place of residence was not indicated, although
subsequently mention was made of their being at Barrio Padasil,
Bangar, La Union, "have in possession narcotics and other
contraband." There is a claim that he had verified the report and
that he had "reasons to believe that a Search Warrant should be
issued to enable the undersigned to take possession" of such
narcotics and other contraband. The application was accompanied
by the joint affidavit of a Sergeant Francisco C. Molina and a
Corporal Lorenzo G. Apilado of the Philippine Constabulary. Again,
mention was merely made of their information about narcotics
and other contraband being kept by Castro and Co Ling. They
allege that they conducted rigid surveillance, but all they could
come out with is that petitioner Co Ling is an overstaying alien for
almost ten years conducting such traffic and that after
verification, he was not registered in the Immigration Office. Then,
on the very same day, the search warrant was issued for illegal
traffic of narcotics and contraband. Again, there was reference to
the possession by Castro and Co Ling of such forbidden goods.

As to the complete and detailed description of the properties to


be seized, the search warrant merely mentioned illegal traffic of
narcotics and contraband inside the warehouse and premises of
petitioners. In the resolution upholding the validity of the search
warrant, respondent Judge did state the following: "On July 10,
1967, Ernesto Lumang, Sgt. of the PC, with a long service behind,
appeared in chamber before the Presiding Judge of Branch I of this
Court. With him were Sgt. Molina and Cpl. Apilado both of the PC
Command of La Union. The three submitted to the Presiding Judge
in chamber an application for search warrant which is Exhibit I in
this case and a joint affidavit supporting the search warrant
asked. As Sgt. Lumang said, testifying regarding this incident,
those appearing were asked, although not in writing and not
recorded, some questions by the Presiding Judge regarding their
request of the search warrant on the knowledge of Molina and
Apilado on the facts stated on the application and on the joint
affidavit. The inquiry was brief. The barrio to be searched was
handwritten in ink, Maria Cristina cancelling the typewritten name
Padasil. But this correction was not done in the duplicates.
Anyhow Padasil and Maria Cristina are adjoining barrios. After the
routine taking of their oath and examination questions and
answers, the Presiding Judge of this Branch signed the application
for search warrant, the joint affidavits, and forthwith issued the
search warrant.
ISSUE:

Whether or not a search warrant issued without complying with


the requisites of the Constitution and the Rules of Court should
have been nullified

RULING:

Respondent Judge conducted the required "examination under


oath" be justified merely because respondent Lumang was "a
Sergeant of the PC, with a long service behind him.

He did not even bother to take the depositions of the witnesses in


writing, attaching them to the record. There was thus a manifest
and palpable violation of the constitutional standard as to the
quantum of proof to show the existence of probable cause. The
Constitution requires, for the validity of a search warrant, that
there be a particular description of "the place to be searched and
the persons or things to be seized." As admitted by the judge in
the challenged resolution, there was a mistake concerning the
residence of petitioners, which was set forth in the search warrant
as being in Barrio Padasil when in fact it is in Barrio Maria Cristina.
Another infirmity was the failure to comply with the basic
procedural requisite that a search warrant "shall not issue but
upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense."

Reference was made to "an illegal traffic of narcotics and


contraband." The latter is a generic term covering all goods
exported from or imported into the country contrary to applicable
statutes. More than one offense could arise from the activity
designated as illegal traffic of narcotics and contraband. As a
matter of fact, in the challenged order, reference was made to at
least three charges having been filed, the violation of Section 203
of the Internal Revenue Code, its Section 1039 on tax evasion, as
well as illegal possession of opium. It is the established doctrine in
this jurisdiction that the illegality of the search warrant does not
call for the return of the things seized, the possession of which is
prohibited by law. The issuance of the search warrant in question
the judge did not comply with the requirements of section 98 of
General Orders No. 58, the petitioners are not entitled to the
return of the opium and its paraphernalia which were found and
seized under said warrant, and much less are they entitled to be
exonerated because of such omission of the judge. The SC held
that the search warrant in question is tainted by illegality for
being violative both of the Constitution and the Rules of Court.
Likewise notwithstanding the illegality of such search warrant, the
challenged order of respondent Judge can be sustained only
insofar as it would limit the return of the articles seized to the
liquor, the pack of playing cards, the bottle of distilled water and
five bottles of Streptomycin taken under such search warrant.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. ANTONIO C.


ESTELLA, appellant.
[G.R. Nos. 138539-40. January 21, 2003]

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

The Constitution bars the admission of evidence gathered in


violation of the right against unreasonable search and seizure. In
the present case, the illegal drug was searched for and found in a
hut that has not been proven to be owned, controlled, or used by
appellant for residential or any other purpose. Hence, he cannot
be held guilty of illegal possession of the illegal drug found
therein.

The Case

Antonio C. Estella appeals the August 25, 1998 Decision[1] of the


Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iba, Zambales (Branch 69) in Criminal
Case No. RTC 2143-I. The trial court found him guilty of violating
Section 8, Article II of RA 6425, as amended by RA 7659, and
sentenced him to reclusion perpetua as follows:

WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, in Criminal Case No. RTC


2143-I, accused Antonio C. Estella is found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt for Violation of Section 8, Article II of R.A. 6425
as amended by R.A. 7659 and is sentenced to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua.
The 8.320 kilograms of dried marijuana is ordered confiscated in
favor of the government. The Sheriff is directed to deliver the
subject marijuana to the Dangerous Drugs Board for its proper
disposition.

In Criminal Case No. RTC 2144-I, accused Antonio C. Estella is


ACQUITTED and the Information dated 07 January 1997 filed
against him for violation of P.D. 1866 is dismissed with costs de
oficio.

The .38 caliber revolver without serial number and four (4) live
ammunitions, subject of the offense, are ordered delivered to any
authorized representative of the Philippine National Police,
Firearms and Explosives Division, Camp Crame, Quezon City.[2]

The Information dated January 7, 1997, charged appellant thus:

That on or about the 20th day of November, 1996 at about 11:15


oclock in the morning, at Purok Yakal, Barangay Baloganon, in the
Municipality of Masinloc, Province of Zambales, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, said accused, did
then and there, wil[l]fully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his
possession, custody and control, [o]ne (1) tin can labeled CLASSIC
containing twenty (20) small bricks of dried marijuana fruiting
tops having a total weight of 589.270 grams each wrapped with a
piece of reading material; [o]ne (1) tin can labeled CLASSIC
containing dried marijuana fruiting tops weighing 41.126 grams;
[t]wo (2) white sando plastic bag each containing one (1) [brick]
of dried marijuana fruiting tops having a total weight of 1.710
kilograms each wrapped with a piece of newspaper; [o]ne (1)
white sando plastic bag containing two (2) bricks of dried
marijuana fruiting tops having a total weight of 1.820 kilograms
each wrapped with a piece of newspaper, all in the total of 8.320
kilograms of dried marijuana, without any authority to possess the
same.[3]

After the Information had been read to him in Filipino, a language


he fully understood,[4] appellant, assisted by his counsel de
parte,[5] pleaded not guilty when arraigned on March 11, 1997.
After due trial, the RTC convicted appellant of illegal possession of
dangerous drugs (marijuana), but acquitted him of illegal
possession of firearms. On November 4, 1998, his counsel filed a
Notice of Appeal.[6]

The Facts

Version of the Prosecution

In its Brief,[7] the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) presents


the prosecutions version of the facts as follows:

Prior to November 20, 1996, Executive Judge Romulo Estrada of


the Regional Trial Court of Zambales issued a warrant for the
conduct of a search and seizure in the residence of appellant at
Purok Yakal, Barangay Baloganon, Masinloc, Zambales.

In the morning of November 20, 1996, Senior Police Officer 1


(SPO1) Antonio Bulor[o]n, then Intelligence and Investigation
Officer, together with SPO1 Jose Arca and several other members
of the Provincial Special Operation Group based in Burgos, San
Marcelino, Zambales proceeded to Masinloc. They coordinated
with the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in
Masinloc and sought the assistance of Barangay Captain Rey
Barnachea of Baloganon, Masinloc for the enforcement of the
search warrant. Barangay Captain Barnaceha accompanied the
police officers to Purok Yakal, Barangay Baloganon, Masinloc, the
place mentioned in the search warrant.

On their way to Purok Yakal, SPO1 Buloron saw appellant sitting


on a rocking chair located about two (2) meters away from a hut
owned by Narding Estella, brother of appellant, and being rented
by appellants live-in partner, named Eva. They approached
appellant and introduced themselves as police officers. They
showed appellant the search warrant and explained the contents
to him. SPO1 Buloron asked appellant if indeed he had in his
possession prohibited drug and if so, to surrender the same so he
would deserve a lesser penalty.

While inside the hut, appellant surrendered to the team two cans
containing dried marijuana fruiting tops. One can contained
twenty (20) bricks of fruiting tops. The team searched the hut in
the presence of appellant and his live-in partner. They found a
plastic container under the kitchen table, which contained four (4)
big bricks of dried marijuana leaves and a .38 caliber revolver
with four live ammunitions. The team seized the prohibited drug,
the revolver and ammunitions. The team seized and signed a
receipt for the seized items. Barangay Captain Barnachea and
SPO1 Edgar Bermudez of the Masinloc Police Station also signed
the receipt as witnesses. SPO1 Buloron and his companions
arrested appellant and brought him to San Marcelino, Zambales.

At their office in San Marcelino, Zambales, SPO1 Buloron and


SPO1 Arca placed their markings on the seized items for purposes
of identification. SPO1 Arca kept the seized items under his
custody. The next day, SPO1 Buloron and SPO1 Arca brought the
seized items to San Antonio, Zambales, where Police Senior
Inspector Florencio Sahagun examined the suspected marijuana
dried leaves. Inspector Sahagun prepared a certification of field
test.

On November 29, 1996, the suspected marijuana dried leaves


were delivered to the PNP Crime Laboratory at Camp Olivas for
further examination. Senior Inspector Daisy Babor, a forensic
chemist, examined the suspected marijuana dried leaves and
issued Chemistry Report No. D-768-96 stating that the specimens
are positive for marijuana, a prohibited drug. Specimen A weighed
1.710 kilograms, while Specimen D weighed 1.820 kilograms.[8]
(Citations omitted)

Version of the Defense

For his version of the facts, appellant merely reproduced the


narration in the assailed RTC Decision as follows:

Accused Antonio C. Estella [I]s married to Gloria Atrero Estella.


They have three (3) children, namely: Carmen Estella (8 years
old), Antonio Estella, Jr. (5 years old) and Roen Estella (3 years
old). Since 1982, Antonio Estella has been [a] resident of
Barangay Baloganon, Masinloc, Zambales.

On 20 November 1996 between 10:30 oclock and 11:00 oclock in


the morning, while accused was talking with his friends Rael
Tapado and Victor de Leon at a vacant lot just outside the house
of Camillo Torres and about 70 meters away from his house, a
group of men approached them. The group introduced themselves
as policemen and told them that they were looking for Antonio
Estella because they have a search warrant issued against him.
Accused identified himself to them. The policemen inquired from
the accused as to where his house is located and accused told
them that his house is located across the road. The police did not
believe him and insisted that accuseds house (according to their
asset) is that house located about 5-8 meters away from them.
Accused told the policemen to inquire from the Barangay Captain
Barnachea as to where his house is and heard the latter telling
the policemen that his house is located near the Abokabar junk
shop. After about half an hour, the policemen went inside the
house nearby and when they came out, they had with them a
bulk of plastic and had it shown to the accused. They
photographed the accused and brought him to their office at San
Marcelino, Zambales. Accused Antonio Estella was investigated
a[t] San Marcelino, Zambales where he informed the police
officers of the fact that the house they searched was occupied by
Spouses Vicente and Fely Bakdangan.

Accused denied having surrendered to policeman Buloron tin cans


containing marijuana and likewise having any firearm.

Miguel Buccat, who personally knew the accused for about ten
(10) years, identified the house depicted on a photograph as that
house belonging to the accused.[9] (Citations omitted)

Ruling of the Trial Court

In finding appellant guilty of violating the Dangerous Drugs Act,


the court a quo relied heavily on the testimony of the
prosecutions principal witness, Intelligence and Investigation
Officer SPO1 Antonio Buloron. He was among the members of the
police team that searched appellants alleged house. Since the
defense failed to present proof of any intent on the part of SPO1
Buloron to falsely impute to appellant such a serious crime, the
trial court accorded full faith and credence to the police officers
testimony.

Moreover, the RTC held that no less than the barangay captain of
the place named in the search warrant led the police to the
house. Thus, appellant could not deny that he owned it.

As to the charge of illegal possession of firearms, the lower court


ruled that the search warrant did not cover the seized firearm,
making it inadmissible against appellant. He was thus acquitted of
the charge.

Hence, this recourse.[10]

The Issues

In his appeal, appellant assigns the following alleged errors for


our consideration:

A. The trial court erred in convicting the accused based on the


conjectural and conflicting testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses;

B. The trial court gravely failed to consider the serious


contradictions in the facts and evidences adduced by the
prosecution;
C. The trial court gravely erred in finding that the guilt of the
accused-appellant for the crime charged has been prove[n]
beyond reasonable doubt, instead of judgment of acquittal
demanded by the constitutional presumption of innocence[.][11]

Though not clearly articulated by appellant, the pivotal issue here


is the legality of the police search undertaken in the hut where
the subject marijuana was seized.

The Courts Ruling

The appeal is meritorious.

Main Issue:

Legality of the Search Undertaken

Once again, this Court is confronted with a situation that involves


a well-enshrined dogma in our Constitution: the inviolable right of
the people to be secure in their persons and properties against
unreasonable searches and seizures.[12] The exclusionary rule
prescribed by Section 3(2), Article III of the Constitution, bars the
admission of evidence obtained in violation of this right.[13]
The conviction or the acquittal of appellant hinges primarily on
the validity of the police officers search and seizure, as well as the
admissibility of the evidence obtained by virtue thereof. Without
that evidence, the prosecution would not be able to prove his guilt
beyond reasonable doubt.

Ownership of the Subject House

Appellant claims that the hut,[14] which was searched by the


police and where the subject marijuana was recovered, does not
belong to him. He points to another house[15] as his real
residence. To support his claim, he presents a document[16] that
shows that the subject hut was sold to his brother Leonardo C.
Estella by one Odilon Eclarinal. The OSG, on the other hand,
argues that just because appellant has another house in a place
away from the hut that was searched does not necessarily mean
that the hut is not occupied by him or under his full control.[17]
The prosecution cites the testimony of Rey Barnachea, the
barangay captain of that place, to show that the hut in question
belongs to appellant.

The only link that can be made between appellant and the subject
hut is that it was bought by his brother Leonardo a.k.a. Narding
Estella.[18] We cannot sustain the OSGs supposition that since it
was being rented by the alleged live-in partner of appellant, it
follows that he was also occupying it or was in full control of it. In
the first place, other than SPO1 Bulorons uncorroborated
testimony, no other evidence was presented by the prosecution to
prove that the person renting the hut was indeed the live-in
partner of appellant -- if he indeed had any. Moreover, the
testimony of Barnachea serves to undermine, not advance, the
position of the prosecution. We quote from his testimony:
Q Do you know who is the owner of that house?

A What I know is that Narding Estella bought that house, sir.

Q Who is that Narding Estella?

A The brother of Tony Estella, sir.

Q And you know that that has been rent[ed] to people?

A Yes, sir.

Q Now, so far how many people [rented] that place or that house?

A I do not have any information about that[,] sir.

Q Why did you know that that place was rented?

A Because when I asked Eva she replied that they [were] only
renting that house, sir.

Q How long has Eva been renting that house?


A I do not have any information about that[,] sir.

Q Do you know who was living with Eva?

A No, sir.

Q So, what you know is that Eva lives alone in that house?

A Yes, sir.

Q And you do not know anybody who is renting that house?

A I have no information, sir.

Q And you do not know if the accused was renting [it] or not?

A I dont have any information, sir.[19]

At most, the testimony shows that the subject hut was bought by
Narding Estella and rented by someone named Eva. The attempt
to make it appear that appellant occupied it, or that it was under
his full control, is merely conjectural and speculative. We have
often ruled that courts do not rely on evidence that arouses mere
suspicion or conjecture.[20] To lead to conviction, evidence must
do more than raise the mere possibility or even probability of
guilt.[21] It must engender moral certainty.

Neither do we find merit in the OSGs argument that appellant


cannot deny ownership or control of the hut, since he was found
in front of it, sitting on a rocking chair and drinking coffee.[22]
Indeed, to uphold this proposition would be to stretch our
imagination to the extreme.

The OSG maintains that when appellant was shown the search
warrant and asked about the existence of prohibited drug in his
possession, appellant went inside the hut, took his stock of
marijuana and turned it [over] to the police officers.[23] This,
according to the prosecution, clearly showed that he was not only
occupying the hut, but was in fact using it to store the prohibited
drug.[24]

It is well-settled that this Court is not precluded from assessing


the probative value of witnesses testimonies on the basis of the
transcript of stenographic notes (TSNs).[25]

In the case at bar, we believe that the trial court erred in adopting
the prosecutions dubious story. It failed to see patent
inconsistencies in the prosecution witnesses testimonies about
the search undertaken.

A review of the TSNs shows that SPO1 Buloron, the prosecution's


principal witness, testified that appellant had allegedly gone
inside the hut; and that the latter had done so to get his stock of
illegal drugs, which he turned over to the police. Ironically,
Captain Barnachea, who was purposely presented by the
prosecution to corroborate SPO1 Buloron's story, belied it when he
testified thus:

PROS. QUINTILLAN:

Q When the police officer showed that search warrant what did
Antonio Estella said, if any, if you hear[d]?

A What I saw is that Tony Estella is sitting in the rocking chair


outside the house drinking coffee, sir.

Q And you saw him and then the search warrant was presented,
isnt it?

A Yes, sir.

Q And when it was presented what did Tony Estella do?

A What they did they show to Tony the search warrant and I also
read the contents of the search warrant, sir.

Q And when Tony was shown that search warrant what did he do
immediately after being shown that search warrant?
A He just [sat] and then he stood up, sir.

Q And when he stood up what else did he do?

A Nothing, sir. The NARCOM g[o]t inside the house, sir.

Q And where did Antonio Estella go when the police entered the
house?

A He was just outside the house, sir.

Q And how far is that house from Antonio Estella?

INTERPRETER:

Witness estimating the distance of about five (5) meters.

COURT:

Do the prosecution and defense agree to 5 meters?


BOTH COUNSEL:

Yes, Your Honor.

PROS. QUINTILLAN:

Q And when the police entered the house did not Tony go with
them?

A I did not notice, sir.[26]

It is undisputed that even before arriving at the hut, the police


officers were already being assisted by Barangay Captain
Barnachea. Thus, it was highly improbable for him not to see
personally appellants alleged voluntary surrender of the
prohibited drug to the authorities. And yet, his testimony
completely contradicted the policemen version of the events. He
testified that appellant, after being served the search warrant,
remained outside the hut and did nothing. In fact, the former
categorically stated that when the police officers had gone inside
the hut to conduct the search, appellant remained seated on a
rocking chair outside.[27] Barnacheas statements sow doubts as
to the veracity of SPO1 Bulorons claim that, after being apprised
of the contents of the search warrant, appellant voluntarily
surrendered the prohibited drug to the police.[28]

Apart from the testimony of Barnachea -- which contradicted


rather than validated the story of SPO1 Buloron -- no other
evidence was presented to corroborate the latters narration of the
events. Without any independent or corroborative proof, it has
little or no probative value at all.

In a criminal prosecution, the court is always guided by evidence


that is tangible, verifiable, and in harmony with the usual course
of human experience -- not by mere conjecture or speculation.
[29] While the guilty should not escape, the innocent should not
suffer.[30]

Search Incident to Lawful Arrest

The OSG argues that [e]ven assuming that appellant was not the
occupant of the hut, the fact remains that he voluntarily
surrendered the marijuana to the police officers. After appellant
had surrendered the prohibited stuff, the police had a right to
arrest him even without a warrant and to conduct a search of the
immediate vicinity of the arrestee for weapons and other unlawful
objects as an incident to the lawful arrest.[31]

The above argument assumes that the prosecution was able to


prove that appellant had voluntarily surrendered the marijuana to
the police officers. As earlier adverted to, there is no convincing
proof that he indeed surrendered the prohibited drug, whether
voluntarily or otherwise. In fact, the testimony of Prosecution
Witness Barnachea clouds rather than clarifies the prosecutions
story.

Given this backdrop, the police authorities cannot claim that the
search was incident to a lawful arrest. Such a search presupposes
a lawful or valid arrest and can only be invoked through Section 5,
Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which we
quote:

SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful - A peace officer or a


private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has


committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
offense;

(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has


probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts
or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it;
and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped


from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final
judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or
has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to
another.

In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person
arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the
nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in
accordance with Section 7 Rule 112.

Never was it proven that appellant, who was the person to be


arrested, was in possession of the subject prohibited drug during
the search. It follows, therefore, that there was no way of knowing
if he had committed or was actually committing an offense in the
presence of the arresting officers. Without that knowledge, there
could have been no search incident to a lawful arrest.

Assuming arguendo that appellant was indeed committing an


offense in the presence of the arresting officers, and that the
arrest without a warrant was lawful, it still cannot be said that the
search conducted was within the confines of the law. Searches
and seizures incident to lawful arrests are governed by Section
12, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which
reads:

Section 12. Search incident to lawful arrest. A person lawfully


arrested may be searched for dangerous weapons or anything
which may have been used or constitute proof in the commission
of an offense without a search warrant.

However, the scope of the search should be limited to the area


within which the person to be arrested can reach for a weapon or
for evidence that he or she can destroy.[32] The prevailing rule is
that the arresting officer may take from the arrested individual
any money or property found upon the latters person -- that which
was used in the commission of the crime or was the fruit of the
crime, or which may provide the prisoner with the means of
committing violence or escaping, or which may be used in
evidence in the trial of the case.[33]

In the leading case Chimel v. California,[34] the Supreme Court of


the United States of America laid down this rule:

When an arrest is made, it is reasonable for the arresting officer


to search the person arrested in order to remove any weapons
that the latter might seek to use in order to resist arrest or effect
his escape. Otherwise, the officers safety might well be
endangered, and the arrest itself frustrated. In addition, it is
entirely reasonable for the arresting officer to search for and seize
any evidence on the arrestees person in order to prevent its
concealment or destruction. And the area into which an arrestee
might reach in order to grab a weapon or evidentiary items must,
of course, be governed by a like rule. A gun on a table or in a
drawer in front of one who is arrested can be as dangerous to the
arresting officer as one concealed in the clothing of the person
arrested. There is ample justification, therefore, for a search of
the arrestees person and the area within his immediate control
construing that phrase to mean the area from within which he
might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence.

There is no comparable justification, however, for routinely


searching any room other than that in which an arrest occurs or,
for that matter, for searching through all the desk drawers or
other closed or concealed areas in that room itself.[35]

The purpose of the exception is to protect the arresting officer


from being harmed by the person being arrested, who might be
armed with a concealed weapon, and to prevent the latter from
destroying evidence within reach. The exception, therefore,
should not be strained beyond what is needed to serve its
purpose.[36]

In the case before us, searched was the entire hut, which cannot
be said to have been within appellants immediate control. Thus,
the search exceeded the bounds of that which may be considered
to be incident to a lawful arrest.

The Presence of the Accused or the


Witnesses During the Search

Having ruled that the prosecution failed to prove appellants


ownership, control of or residence in the subject hut, we hold that
the presence of appellant or of witnesses during the search now
becomes moot and academic.

Obviously, appellant need not have been present during the


search if he was neither the owner nor the lawful occupant of the
premises in question. Besides, as we have noted, the testimonies
of the prosecution witnesses regarding these crucial
circumstances were contradictory. They erode SPO1 Bulorons
credibility as a prosecution witness and raise serious doubts
concerning the prosecutions evidence. This Court is thus
constrained to view his testimony with caution and care.

With the failure of the prosecution to establish the propriety of the


search undertaken -- during which the incriminating evidence was
allegedly recovered -- we hold that the search was illegal. Without
the badge of legality, any evidence obtained therein becomes
ipso facto inadmissible.

Objections to the

Legality of the Search


Finally, the OSG argues that appellant is deemed to have waived
his right to object to the legality of the search and the
admissibility of the evidence seized through that search because,
during the trial, he did not raise these issues.

On the contrary, during the trial, appellant constantly questioned


the legality of the search. In fact, when SPO1 Buloron was
presented as a prosecution witness, the formers counsel objected
to the offer of the latters testimony on items allegedly confiscated
during the search. Appellants counsel argued that these items,
which consisted of the marijuana and the firearm, had been
seized illegally and were therefore inadmissible.[37]

Further, in his Comments and Objections to Formal Offer of


Exhibits,[38] appellant once again questioned the legality of the
search conducted by the police, a search that had yielded the
evidence being used against him.

Finally, on October 21, 1997, he filed a Demurrer to Evidence[39]


reiterating his objection to the search and to the eventual use
against him of the evidence procured therefrom.

All told, without sufficient admissible evidence against appellant,


the prosecution failed to establish his guilt with moral certainty.
[40] Not only did its evidence fall short of the quantum of proof
required for a conviction, it has also failed to present any
evidence at all. Under our Bill of Rights, among the fundamental
rights of the accused is to be presumed innocent until the
contrary is proved.[41] To overcome such presumption, the
prosecution must establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Our
criminal justice system dictates that if the prosecution fails to do
so, it becomes not only the right of the accused to be set free, but
also the constitutional duty of the court to set them free.[42] This
principle leaves this Court no option but to acquit Appellant
Antonio C. Estella for insufficiency of evidence.

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is SET ASIDE. Antonio C.


Estella is ACQUITTED and ordered immediately RELEASED from
custody, unless he is being held for some other lawful cause.

The director of the Bureau of Corrections is ORDERED to


implement this Decision forthwith and to INFORM this Court,
within five (5) days from receipt hereof, of the date appellant was
actually released from confinement. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, (chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona and Carpio-Morales,


JJ., concur.

[1] Penned by Judge Rodolfo V. Toledano.

[2] Assailed Decision, pp. 20-21; rollo, pp. 40-41; records, pp. 237-
238.

[3] Rollo, p. 10; records, p.2; signed by 2nd Assistant Provincial


Prosecutor Froilan F. Quintillan and approved by Provincial
Prosecutor Dorentino Z. Floresta.
[4] See the lower courts Order dated March 11, 1997; records, p.
15.

[5] Atty. Florante A. Miano.

[6] Rollo, p. 42; records, p. 246.

[7] Signed by Assistant Solicitor General Carlos N. Ortega,


Assistant Solicitor General Nestor J. Ballacillo and Solicitor Fidel
Thaddeus I. Borja.

[8] Appellees Brief, pp. 4-7; rollo, pp. 128-131.

[9] Appellants Brief, pp. 7-9; rollo, pp. 73-75; signed by Atty.
Sancho A. Abasta Jr.

[10] This case was deemed submitted for decision upon this
Courts receipt of Appellees Brief on August 6, 2001. Appellants
Brief was filed on March 27, 2001. The filing of a Reply Brief was
deemed waived, as none had been filed within the reglementary
period.

[11] Appellants Brief, pp. 3-4; rollo, pp. 69-70. Original in upper
case.
[12] Art. III, 2 of the 1987 Constitution, provides: The right of the
people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects
against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature
and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or
warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be
determined personally by the judge after examination under oath
or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may
produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and
the persons or things to be seized.

[13] Art. III, 3(2) of the 1987 Constitution, provides: Any evidence
obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be
inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

[14] Exh. 2 of appellant; records, p. 207.

[15] Exh. 2-A of appellant; records, p. 208.

[16] Exh. 1 of appellant; records, p. 206.

[17] Appellees Brief, p. 10; rollo, p. 134.

[18] TSN, June 3, 1997, p. 8.

[19] Id., pp. 7-9.


[20] People v. Williams, 357 SCRA 124, April 20, 2001.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Appellees Brief, p. 10; rollo, p. 134.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] People v. Rafael, 343 SCRA 97, October 13, 2000; People v.
Mendoza, 332 SCRA 485, May 31, 2000; People v. Badon, 308
SCRA 175, June 10, 1999; People v. Compendio Jr., 258 SCRA 254,
July 5, 1996.

[26] TSN, June 3, 1997, pp. 9-11.

[27] Id., p. 20.

[28] Id.; TSN, April 2, 1997, p. 10.

[29] People v. Laurente, 353 SCRA 765, March 7, 2001.


[30] People v. Baldevieso, 314 SCRA 803, September 21, 1999.

[31] Appellees Brief, p. 11; rollo, p. 135.

[32] Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, Vol. II, 1999 7th rev.
ed., p. 527.

[33] Herrera, Remedial Law, Vol. IV, 1992 ed., p. 669.

[34] 23 L. Ed. 2d 685, June 23, 1969.

[35] Id., p. 694, per Stewart, J.

[36] Bernas, The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A


Commentary, Vol. I, 1987 1st ed., p. 105.

[37] TSN, April 2, 1997, pp. 6-7.

[38] Records, pp. 103-109.

[39] Id., pp. 119-152.


[40] 2, Rule 133, Revised Rules on Evidence.

[41] 14(2), Art. III, 1987 Constitution.

[42] People v. Laurente, supra; People v. Laguerta, 344 SCRA 453,


October 30, 2000; People v. San Juan, 326 SCRA 786, February 29,
2000.

Case Digest
FACTS:

Prior to Nov. 20, 1996, Executive Judge Romulo Estrada


of the RTC of Zambales issued a warrant for the conduct of a
search and seizure in the residence of appellant at Purok Yakal,
Barangay Baloganon, Masinloc, Zambales. On same day, Senior
Police Officer (SPO1) Antonio Buloron, then Intelligence and
Investigation Officer, together with SPO1 Jose Arca and several
other members of the Provincial Special Operation Group based in
Burgos, San Marcelino, Zambales, coordinated with the members
of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Masinloc and sought the
assistance of Barangay Captain Rey Barnachea of Baloganon,
Masinloc for the enforcement of the search warrant. On their way
to Purok Yakal, SPO1 Buloron saw Estrella sitting on a rocking
chair located about 2 meters away from a hut owned by Narding
Estella, brother of appellant, and being rented by Estrella's live-in
partner, named Eva. They approached Estrella and showed him
the search warrant. Estrella surrendered to the team 2 cans
containing dried marijuana fruiting tops. One can contained 20
bricks of fruiting tops. The team searched the hut in the presence
of Estrella and his live-in partner. They found a plastic container
which contained 4 big bricks of dried marijuana leaves and a .38
caliber revolver with four live ammunitions. The team seized the
prohibited drug, the revolver and ammunitions. SPO1 Buloron and
his companions arrested Estrella and brought him to San
Marcelino, Zambales.

The defense, however has different version, denied having


surrendered to policeman Buloron tin cans containing marijuana
and likewise having any firearm. Appellant also claims that the
hut, which was searched by the police and where the subject
marijuana was recovered, does not belong to him. He points to
another house as his real residence. Estella was investigated at
San Marcelino, Zambales where he informed the police officers of
the fact that the house they searched was occupied by Spouses
Vicente and Fely Bakdangan. Still, Estrella was charged for
possession of prohibited drugs and unlicensed firearms. On the
other hand, Estrella was acquitted from the charge of violation of
PD 1866 The .38 caliber revolver without serial number and 4 live
ammunitions, subject of the offense, were however ordered
delivered to any authorized representative of the Philippine
National Police, Firearms and Explosives Division, Camp Crame,
Quezon City. Estrella appealed said decision.

ISSUE:

Whether the search undertaken inside the hut during which the
incriminating evidence was allegedly recovered was legal.
RULING:

There is no convincing proof that Estrella indeed


surrendered the prohibited drug, whether voluntarily or otherwise.
In fact, the testimony of Prosecution Witness Barnachea clouds
rather than clarifies the prosecution's story. Given this backdrop,
the police authorities cannot claim that the search was incident to
a lawful arrest. Such a search presupposes a lawful or valid arrest
and can only be invoked through Section 5 (Arrest without
warrant; when lawful), Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal
Procedure, which provides that "A peace officer or a private
person may, without a warrant, arrest a person: (a) when, in his
presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually
committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b) When an
offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to
believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances
that the person to be arrested has committed it; and (c) When the
person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal
establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is
temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped
while being transferred from one confinement to another.

All told, without sufficient admissible evidence against appellant,


the prosecution failed to establish his guilt with moral certainty.
Not only did its evidence fall short of the quantum of proof
required for a conviction, it has also failed to present any
evidence at all. Under our Bill of Rights, among the fundamental
rights of the accused is to be presumed innocent until the
contrary is proved. To overcome such presumption, the
prosecution must establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Our
criminal justice system dictates that if the prosecution fails to do
so, it becomes not only the right of the accused to be set free, but
also the constitutional duty of the court to set them free. This
principle leaves this Court no option but to acquit Appellant
Antonio C. Estella for insufficiency of evidence.
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is SET ASIDE. Antonio C.
Estella is ACQUITTED and ordered immediately RELEASED from
custody.

G.R. No. 184982 August 20, 2014

LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,

vs.

JOSE T. LAJOM, represented by PORFIRIO RODRIGUEZ,


FLORENCIA LAJOM GARCIA-DIAZ, FRANCISCO LAJOM
GARCIA, JR., FERNANDO LAJOM RODRIGUEZ, TOMAS
ATAYDE, AUGUSTO MIRANDA, JOSEFINA ATAYDE
FRANCISCO, RAMON L. ATAYDE, and BLESILDA ATAYDE
RIOS, Respondents.
G.R. No. 185048

JOSE T. LAJOM, represented by PORFIRIO RODRIGUEZ,


FLORENCIA LAJOM GARCIA-DIAZ, FRANCISCO LAJOM
GARCIA, JR., FERNANDO LAJOM RODRIGUEZ, TOMAS
ATAYDE, AUGUSTO MIRANDA, JOSEFINA ATAYDE
FRANCISCO, RAMON L. ATAYDE, and BLESILDA ATAYDE
RIOS, Petitioners,

vs.

LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Assailed in these consolidated1 petitions for review on certiorari2


are the Decision3 dated February 26, 2008 and the Resolution4
dated October 17, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP
No. 89545 which affirmed with modification the Decision5 dated
March 11, 2004 and the Order6 dated April 15, 2005 of the
Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 23 (RTC) in SP.
Civil Case No. 1483-AF, deleting the award of interest at the rate
of 6% per annum (p.a.) and imposing interest by way of damages,
at the rate of 12% p.a. on the just compensation for the land in
controversy at P3,858,912.00, from March 11, 2004 until fully
paid.

The Facts
Jose T. Lajom (Lajom)7 and his mother Vicenta Vda. De Lajom
(Vda. De Lajom)8 were the registered owners of several parcels of
land with an aggregate area of 27 hectares (ha.), more or less,
located at Alua, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija and covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. NT-707859 issued by the Registry of
Deeds ofNueva Ecija (subject land).

Sometime in 1991, a 24-ha., more or less, portion of the subject


land (subject portion) was placed under the government's
Operation Land Transfer Program pursuant to Presidential Decree
No. (PD) 27,10 otherwise known as the "Tenants Emancipation
Decree," as amended. Accordingly, the Department of Agrarian
Reform (DAR), through the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP),
offered to pay Lajom the following amounts as just compensation
for the following constitutive areas of the subject portion: (a)
19,434.00 for 11.3060 has.; (b) 17,505.65 for 2.4173 has.; and (c)
80,733.45 for 10.3949 has. (DAR valuation).11 Records show,
however, that despite non-payment of the offered just
compensation, DAR granted twelve (12) Emancipation Patents12
between 1994 and 1998 in favor of the following farmer-
beneficiaries: Vicente Dela Cruz, Donato Magno,13 Eutiquio
Gablao,14 Ricardo Bulos, Proceso Julian, Ceferino Dela Cruz,
Rufino Gripal, Simplicio Pataleta,15 Jovita Vda. De Bondoc, and
Julian Pataleta16 (farmer-beneficiaries).17

Lajom rejected the DAR valuation and, instead, filed an amended


Petition18 for determination of just compensation and
cancellation of land transfers against the DAR, the LBP, and the
said farmer-beneficiaries, docketed as SP. Civil Case No. 1483-
AF.19 He alleged, inter alia, that in computing the amount of just
compensation, the DAR erroneously applied the provisions of PD
27 and Executive Order No. (EO) 228, Series of 1997, that have
been repealed by Section 17 of Republic Act No. (RA) 6657,20
otherwise known as the "Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of
1988," which took effect on June 15, 1988. Thus, he asserted that
the value of the subject portion should be computed based on the
provisions of RA 6657, and not of PD 27 and/or EO 228. He
likewise claimed that the Barrio Committee on Land Production
(BCLP) resolution which fixed the average gross production
(AGP) per ha. per year at 120 cavans of palay, and which the DAR
used in arriving at its valuation was falsified and therefore
cannot validly serve as basis for determining the value of the
land. In sum, Lajom stressed that the DAR valuation was arrived
at without due process, highly prejudicial and inimical to his and
his heirs property rights.21

For its part, the LBP agreed with the DAR valuation and insisted
that PD 27 and EO 228, on which the DAR valuation was based,
were never abrogated by the passage of RA 6657,contrary to
Lajoms stance.22

The RTC Ruling

In a Decision23 dated March 11, 2004, the RTC rejected the DAR
valuation and, using the formula Land Value = (AGP x 2.5
Hectares x Government Support Price [GSP] x Area) under PD 27
and EO 228, fixed the just compensation for the subject portion at
the total amount of P3,858,912.00, with legal interest at the rate
of 6% p.a. from 1991 until fully paid.24

The RTC set the AGP at 160 cavans of palayper ha. per year,
taking judicial notice of the fact that the normal production of 120
cavans thereof per ha. per year has been increased with the
"advent of new modern farm technology" coupled with the
utilization of high-breed variety of palay, good weather, and
continuous supply of irrigated water.25 With respect to the GSP,
the RTC pegged the same at P400.00, per certification from the
National Food Authority fixing the GSP at the same amount as of
1991, when the subject portion was actually expropriated.26
Using the above formula, therefore, the RTC computedthe just
compensation as follows: AGP (160) x 2.5 x GSP (P400.00) x Area
(24.1182 has.) = P3,858,912.00.27

Dissatisfied, the LBP moved for reconsideration but was, however,


denied in an Order28 dated April 15, 2004, prompting it to elevate
the matter before the CA via a petition for review, docketedas CA-
G.R. SP No. 89545.

The CA Ruling

In a Decision29 dated February 26, 2008, the CA affirmed with


modification the RTC Decision, deleting the award of 6% interest
p.a. and, in lieu thereof, ordered LBP to pay Lajom, through his
representatives and/or heirs, interest by way of damages at the
rate of 12% p.a. on the just compensation award of P3,858,912.00
from March 11, 2004 until fully paid.30

The CA found no error on the part of the RTC in considering 1991


as the time of the subject portions actual taking, instead of
October 21, 1972 when PD 27 took effect, and in consequently
using the higher GSP value of P400.00 prevailing in 1991 instead
of P35.00, contrary to the LBPs claim.31 The CA found it
inequitable to determine just compensation based on the
guidelines provided by PD 27 and EO 228 considering that the
actual taking of the subject property took place in 1991. Hence,
just compensation, being the "full and fair equivalent of the
property taken from its owner by the expropriator, the equivalent
being real, substantial, full and ample,"32 should be determined
in accordance with RA 6657, not with PD 27 and EO 228.33

However, the CA deleted the award of interest at the rate of 6%


p.a. imposed on the amount of just compensation in accordance
with DAR Administrative Order No. 13, Series of 1994,34 because
the RTC had already used the higher GSP value of 400.00 in1991.
Nonetheless, the CA deemed it necessary to impose legal interest
pegged at the rate of 12% p.a. to serve as damages for the delay
incurred in the payment of just compensation to the landowner.35
Lajoms representative, Porfirio Rodriguez (Rodriguez), who had
substituted him in these proceedings, moved for a partial
reconsideration of the CA Decision, while the LBP and the rest of
Lajoms heirs filed separate motions for reconsideration, all of
which the CA denied in a Resolution36 dated October 17, 2008,
hence, these consolidated petitions.

The Issues Before the Court

In its petition,37 the LBP contends that the CA committed


reversible error in: (a) retroactively applying the provisions of RA
6657 to land acquired under PD 27 and EO 228; (b) reckoning the
period to determine just compensation on the date of actual
payment instead of the date of taking; and (c) imposing interest
at the rate of 12% p.a. on the just compensation award in the
nature ofdamages from March 11, 2004 until full payment.

On the other hand, Lajom, through his representatives, raises in


his Petition38 the sole question of whether or not the CA erred in
deleting the award of 6% interest p.a. on the justcompensation
award from the time of taking until full payment.
The Courts Ruling

The petitions are meritorious.

Case law instructs that when the agrarian reform process under
PD 27 remains incomplete and is overtaken by RA 6657, such
aswhen the just compensation due the landowner has yet to be
settled, as in this case, such just compensation should be
determined and the process concluded under RA 6657, with PD 27
and EO 228 applying only suppletorily.39 Hence, where RA 6657 is
sufficient, PD27 and EO 228 are superseded.40

Records show that even before Lajom filed a petition for the
judicial determination of just compensation in May 1993, RA 6657
had already taken effect on June 15, 1988. Similarly, the
emancipation patents had been issued in favor of the farmer-
beneficiaries prior to the filing of the said petition, and both the
taking and the valuation of the subject portion occurred after the
passage of RA 6657. Quite evidently, the matters pertaining to
the correct just compensation award for the subject portion were
still in contention at the time RA 6657 took effect; thus, as
correctly ruled by the CA, its provisions should have been applied,
with PD 27 and EO 228 applying only suppletorily.

As to the proper reckoning point, it is fundamental that just


compensation should be determined atthe time of the propertys
taking.41 Taking may be deemed to occur, for instance, at the
time emancipation patents are issued by the government. As
enunciated in LBP v. Heirs of Angel T. Domingo:42
The date of taking of the subject land for purposes of computing
just compensation should be reckoned from the issuance dates of
the emancipation patents. An emancipation patent constitutes the
conclusive authority for the issuance of a TransferCertificate of
Title in the name of the grantee. It is from the issuance of an
emancipation patent that the grantee can acquirethe vested right
of ownership in the landholding, subject to the payment of
justcompensation to the landowner.43 (Emphasis supplied)

Since the emancipation patents in this case had been issued


between the years 1994 and 1998, the just compensation for the
subject portion should then be reckoned therefrom, being
considered the "time of taking" or the time when the landowner
was deprived of the use and benefit of his property.44 On this
score, it must be emphasized that while the LBP is charged with
the initial responsibility of determining the value of lands placed
under the land reform and, accordingly, the just compensation
therefor, its valuation is considered only as an initial
determination and, thus, not conclusive. Verily, it is well-settled
that it is the RTC, sitting as a Special Agrarian Court, which should
make the final determination of just compensation in the
exerciseof its judicial function.45 In this respect, the RTC is
required to consider the factors enumerated in Section 17 of RA
6657, as amended, viz.:

SEC. 17. Determination of Just Compensation. In determining


just compensation, the cost of acquisition of the land, the current
value of like properties, its nature, actual use and income, the
sworn valuation by the owner, the tax declarations, and the
assessment made by government assessors shall be considered.
The social and economic benefits contributed by the farmers and
the farmworkers and by the Government to the property as well
as the non-payment of taxes or loans secured from any
government financing institution on the said land shall be
considered as additional factors to determine its valuation.
After a punctilious review of the records, however, the Court finds
that none of the aforementioned factors had been considered by
the RTC in determining the just compensation for the subject
portion. Thus, the Court must reject the valuation pronounced
inthe RTC Decision, as affirmed by the CA, and consequently
direct the remand of the case to the trial court in order to
determine the proper amountof just compensation anew in
accordance with the following guidelines:

First. Just compensation must be valuedat the time of the taking,


or the "time when the landowner was deprived of the use and
benefit of his property"46 which, in this case, is reckoned from the
date of the issuance of the emancipation patents.47 Hence, the
valuation of the subject portion must be based on evidence
showing the valuesprevalent on such time of taking for like
agricultural lands.48

Second.The evidence must conform to Section 17 of RA 6657, as


amended, priorto its amendment by RA 9700.49 While RA 9700
took effect on July 1, 2009, which amended furthercertain
provisions of RA 6657, as amended, among them Section 17,
declaring "[t]hat all previously acquired lands wherein valuation is
subject to challenge by landowners shall be completed and finally
resolved pursuant to Section 17 of [RA 6657], as amended,"50 the
law should not be applied retroactively to pending cases.
Considering that the present consolidated petitions had been filed
before the effectivity of RA 9700, or on December 8, 2008 for G.R.
No. 184982 and May 18, 2009 for G.R. No. 185048, Section 17 of
RA 6657, as amended, priorto its further amendment by RA 9700,
should therefore apply.
Third.With respect to the commonly raised issue on interest, the
RTC may impose the same on the just compensation award as
may be justified by the circumstances of the case and in
accordance with prevailing jurisprudence.51 The Court has
previously allowed the grant of legal interest in expropriation
cases where there was delay in the payment of just
compensation, deeming the same to bean effective forbearance
on the part of the State.52 To clarify, this incremental interest is
not granted on the computed just compensation; rather, it is a
penaltyimposed for damages incurred by the landowner due tothe
delay in its payment.53 Thus, legal interest shall be pegged at the
rate of 12% p.a. from the time of taking until June 30, 2013.
Thereafter, or beginning July 1, 2013, until fully paid, just
compensation shall earn interest at the new legal rate of 6% p.a.,
conformably with the modification on the rules respecting interest
rates introduced by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board
Circular No. 799, Series of 2013.54

Fourth. The RTC, sitting as a Special Agrarian Court, is reminded


that while it should take into account the various formulae
created by the DAR in arriving at the just compensation for the
subject land, it is not strictly bound thereby if the situations
before it do not warrant their application. The RTC, in the exercise
of its judicial function of determining just compensation, cannot
be restrained or delimited in the performance thereof. As
explained in LBP v. Heirs of Maximo Puyat:55

[T]he determination of just compensation is a judicial function;


hence, courts cannot be unduly restricted in their determination
thereof. To do so would deprive the courts of their judicial
prerogatives and reduce them to the bureaucratic function of
inputting data and arriving at the valuation. While the courts
should be mindful of the different formulae created by the DAR in
arriving at just compensation, they are not strictly bound to
adhere thereto if the situations before them do not warrant it. x x
x:
"x x x [T]he basic formula and its alternatives administratively
determined (as it is not found in Republic Act No. 6657, but
merely set forth in DAR AO No. 5, Series of 1998) although
referred to and even applied by the courts in certain instances,
does not and cannot strictly bind the courts. To insist that the
formula must be applied with utmost rigidity whereby the
valuation is drawn following a strict mathematical computation
goes beyond the intent and spirit of the law.1wphi1 The
suggested interpretation is strained and would render the law
inutile. Statutory construction should not kill but give life to the
law. As we have established in earlier jurisprudence, the valuation
of property in eminent domain is essentially a judicial function
which is vested in the regional trial court acting as a SAC, and not
in administrative agencies. The SAC, therefore, must still be able
to reasonably exercise its judicial discretion in the evaluation of
the factors for just compensation, which cannot be arbitrarily
restricted by a formula dictated by the DAR, an administrative
agency. Surely, DAR AO No. 5 did not intend to straightjacket the
hands of the court in the computation of the land valuation. While
it provides a formula, it could not have been its intention to
shackle the courts into applying the formula in every instance.
The court shall apply the formula after an evaluation of the three
factors, orit may proceed to make its own computation based on
the extended list in Section 17 of Republic Act No. 6657, which
includes other factors[.] x x x"

As a final word, the Court would like to emphasize that while the
agrarian reform program was undertaken primarily for the benefit
of our landless farmers, this undertaking should, however, not
result in the oppression of landowners by pegging the cheapest
value for their lands. Indeed, although the taking of properties for
agrarian reform purposes is a revolutionary kind of expropriation,
it should not be carried out at the undue expense of landowners
who are also entitled to protection under the Constitution and
agrarian reform laws.56
WHEREFORE, the petitions are GRANTED. The Decision dated
February 26, 2008 and the Resolution dated October 17, 2008 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 89545 which: (a) upheld
the valuation of the subject portion computed by the Regional
Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Branch 23 (RTC) without, however,
taking into account the factors enumerated under Section 17 of
Republic Act No. 6657, as amended; and (b) deleted the interest
award pegged at the rate of 6% per annum (p.a.) from 1991 until
fully paid and, instead, awarded the interest at the rate of 12%
p.a. in the nature of damages from March 11, 2004 until fully
paid, are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. SP. Civil Case No.
1483-AF is REMANDED to the RTC for reception of evidence on the
issue of just compensation in accordance with the guidelines set
in this Decision. The RTC is directed to conduct the proceedings in
said case with reasonable dispatch and submit to the Court a
report on its findings and recommended conclusions within sixty
(60) days from notice of this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE

Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.*

Associate Justice MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO

Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been


reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer
of the opinion of the Court's Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the


Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in
the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's
Division.
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

Chief Justice

Footnotes

* Designated Additional Member per Special Order No. 1757 dated


August 20, 2014.

1 See Resolution dated November 19, 2008; rollo (G.R. No.


185048), p. 41.

2 Rollo (G.R. No. 184982), pp. 39-91; rollo (G.R. No 185048), pp.
54-70.

3 Rollo (G.R. No. 184982), pp. 10-35. Penned by Associate Justice


Celia C. Librea-Leagogo, with Associate Justices Regalado E.
Maambong and Ramon R. Garcia, concurring.

4 Id. at 7-9.

5 Id. at 215-221. Penned by Presiding Judge Lydia Bauto Hipolito.


6 Id. at 222-223. Penned by Pairing Judge Rodrigo S. Caspillo.

7 Records show that Jose T. Lajom died during the pendency of his
petition before the RTC or on June 28, 1999 (see Certificate of
Death; id. at 289) and that he was substituted by his heirs Porfirio
Rodriguez, et al. (see Orders of the RTC dated May 21, 2002 and
May 27, 2001; id. at 320 and 321, respectively).

8 Died on May 2, 1993; id at 13 and 246.

9 Id. at 291-293.

10 Entitled "DECREEING THE EMANCIPATION OF TENANTS FROM


THE BONDAGE OF THE SOIL, TRANSFERRING TO THEM THE
OWNERSHIP OF THE LAND THEY TILL AND PROVIDING THE
INSTRUMENTS AND MECHANISM THEREFOR."

11 Rollo (G.R. No. 184982), p. 217.

12 Id. at 300-311.

13 "Donito Magno" in some parts of the records.

14 "Estiquio Cabiao" and "Eutiquio Cablao" in some parts of the


records.
15 "Simplicio Patatela" in some parts of the records.

16 "Julian Patatela" in some parts of the records.

17 Rollo (G.R. No. 184982), p. 217. See also Emancipation


Patents; id. at 300-311.

18 Id. at 245-250. Dated May 12, 1993.

19 Id. at 249.

20 Entitled "AN ACT INSTITUTING A COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN


REFORM PROGRAM TO PROMOTE SOCIAL JUSTICE AND
INDUSTRIALIZATION, PROVIDING THE MECHANISM FOR ITS
IMPLEMENTATION."

21 See rollo (G.R. No. 184982), pp. 217, 247-A, and 248.

22 Id. at 218.

23 Id. at 215-221.
24 See id. at 220-221.

25 Id. at 219.

26 Id. at 220.

27 Id.

28 Id. at 222-223.

29 Id. at 10-35.

30 Id. at 31-32.

31 Id. at 29.

32 Id. at 30.

33 Id. at 29-30.

34 Entitled "RULES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE GRANT


OF INCREMENT OF SIX PERCENT (6%) YEARLY INTEREST
COMPOUNDED ANNUALLY ON LANDS COVERED BY PRESIDENTIAL
DECREE NO. 27 AND EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 228."

35 Rollo (G.R. No. 184982), pp. 30-32.

36 Id. at 7-9.

37 Id. at 39-91.

38 Rollo (G.R. No. 185048), pp. 54-70.

39 See LBP v. Santiago, Jr., G.R. No. 182209, October 3, 2012, 682
SCRA 264, 277-278; citations omitted.

40 See LBP v. Heirs of Maximo Puyat,G.R. No. 175055, June 27,


2012, 675 SCRA 233, 243-244.

41 See Secretary of the Department of Public Works and


Highways v. Tecson, G.R. No. 179334, July 1, 2013, 700 SCRA 243,
257-258, citing Republic v. Lara, 96 Phil. 170 (1954).

42 567 Phil. 593 (2008).

43 Id. at 608.
44 LBP v. Heirs of Salvador Encinas, G.R. No. 167735, April 18,
2012, 670 SCRA 52, 60.

45 See LBP v. Dumlao, 592 Phil. 486, 504 (2008). See also LBP v.
Heir of Trinidad S. Vda. De Arieta, G.R. No. 161834, August 11,
2010, 628 SCRA 43, 66.

46 LBP v. Livioco, G.R. No. 170685, September 22, 2010, 631


SCRA 86, 112-113.

47 LBP v. Heirs of Angel T. Domingo, supra note 42.

48 See LBP v. Livioco, supra not 46, at 114.

49 Entitled "AN ACT STRENGTHENING THE COMPREHENSIVE


AGRARIAN REFORM PROGRAM (CARP), EXTENDING THE
ACQUISITION AND DISTRIBUTION OF ALL AGRICULTURAL LANDS,
INSTITUTING NECESSARY REFORMS, AMENDING FOR THE
PURPOSE CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6657,
OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM
LAW OF 1988,AS AMENDED, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS
THEREFOR."

50 See Section 5 of RA 9700 which further amended Section 17 of


RA 6657, as amended on the "Priorities" in the acquisition and
distribution of agricultural lands.
51 LBP v. Livioco, supra note 46, at 116.

52 See LBP v. Santiago, Jr., supra note 39, at 283-284; citations


omitted.

53 DAR v. Goduco, G.R. Nos. 174007 and 181327, June 27, 2012,
675 SCRA 187, 205.

54 See Nacar v. Gallery Frames, G.R. No. 189871, August 13,


2013, 703 SCRA 439, 454-456.

55 Supra note 40, at 250-251; citations omitted.

56 See LBP v. Spouses Chico, 600 Phil. 272, 291 (2009).


Case Digest
FACTS:

A big portion of the land owned by Jose T. Lajom, and his mother,
Vicenta Vda. De Lajom, was placed under the governments
Operation Land Transfer Program pursuant to P.D. 27 otherwise
known as the Tenants Emancipation Decree. The Department of
Agriculture (DAR), through the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP),
offered to pay Lajom just compensation but despite its
nonpayment, DAR has already granted twelve (12) Emancipation
Patents. Lajom rejected the DAR valuation and alleged that
computation of just compensation must be based on the provision
of RA 6657, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988
and not P.D. 27 and/or E.O. 228. LBP alleged that P.D. 27 and E.O.
228 were never abrogated by the passage of RA 6657. The
Regional Trial Court (RTC) rejected the DAR valuation and, under
P.D. 27 and E.O. 228, fixed the just compensation at the total
amount of P2,858,912.00, with legal interest at the rate of 6% p.a.
from 1991, when the subject portion was actually expropriated,
until fully paid. The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed with
modification the RTC Decision. It applied the provisions of RA 6657
as basis in the computation of just compensation, deleted the
award of 6% interest p.a. and ordered petitioner LBP to pay 12%
interest on the just compensation by way of damages from the
time of issuance of emancipation patents until fully paid.
ISSUES: Is interest computed on the just compensation in the
nature of damages when the government delay in its payment?

RULING:

Yes. The Court has previously allowed the grant of legal interest in
expropriation cases where there was delay in the payment of just
compensation, deeming the same to be an effective forbearance
on the part of the State. To clarify, this incremental interest is not
granted on the computed just compensation; rather, it is a
penalty imposed for damages incurred by the landowner due to
the delay in its payment. Thus, legal interest shall be pegged at
the rate of 12% p.a. from the time of taking until June 30, 2013.
Thereafter, or beginning July 1, 2013, until fully paid, just
compensation shall earn interest at the new legal rate of 6% p.a.,
conformably with the modification on the rules respecting interest
rates introduced by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board
Circular No. 799, Series of 2013.

5
G.R. No. 190901 November 12, 2014
AMADA COTONER-ZACARIAS, Petitioner,

vs.

SPOUSES ALFREDO AND THE HEIRS REVILLA OF PAZ


REVILLA, Respondents.

DECISION

LEONEN, J.:

Well-settled is the rule that "conveyances by virtue of a forged


signature ... are void ab initio [as] [t]he absence of the essential
[requisites] of consent and cause or consideration in these cases
rendered the contract inexistent[.]"1

Before us is a petition for review2 filed by Amada Cotoner-


Zacarias against respondent spouses Alfredo Revilla and Paz
Castillo-Revilla, praying that this court render a decision
"reversing the Decision of the Regional Trial Court and Court of
Appeals and declaring the transfer of title to the Petitioner and
then to her successors-in-interest as valid and binding as against
the respondents."3

The Court of Appeals summarized the facts as follows.

Alfredo Revilla and Paz Castillo-Revilla (Revilla spouses) are the


owners in fee simple of a 15,000-square-meter unregistered
parcel of land in Silang, Cavite, covered by Tax Declaration No.
7971.4

In 1983, the Revilla spouses faced financial difficulties in raising


funds for Alfredo Revillas travel to Saudi Arabia, so Paz Castillo-
Revilla borrowed money from Amada Cotoner-Zacarias (Amada).
By way of security, the parties verbally agreed that Amada would
take physical possession of the property, cultivate it, then use the
earnings from the cultivation to pay the loan and realty taxes.5
Upon full payment of the loan, Amada would return the property
to the Revilla spouses.6

Unknown to the Revilla spouses, Amada presented a fictitious


document entitled "Kasulatan ng Bilihanng Lupa" before the
Provincial Assessor of Cavite. This document was executed on
March 19, 1979 with the Revilla spouses as sellers and Amada as
buyer of the property.7 Consequently, Tax Declaration No. 7971 in
the name of the Revilla spouses was cancelled, and Tax
Declaration No. 19773 in the name of Amada was issued.

On August 25, 1984, Amada sold the property to the spouses


Adolfo and Elvira Casorla (Casorla spouses) by "Deed of Absolute
SaleUnregistered Land." Tax Declaration No. 30411-A was later
issued in the name of the Casorla spouses.8

In turn, the Casorla spouses executed a deed of absolute sale


dated December 16, 1991 in favor of the spouses Rodolfo and
Yolanda Sun (Sun spouses). Tax Declaration Nos. 30852-A and
18584 were issued in favor of the Sun spouses.9
In December 1994, Alfredo Revilla returned from Saudi Arabia. He
asked Amada why she had not returnedtheir tax declaration
considering their full payment of the loan. He then discovered
that the propertys tax declaration was already in the name of the
Sun spouses.10

On February 15, 1995, the Revilla spouses were served a copy of


the answer11 in the land registration case filed by the Sun
spouses for the property.12 The Revilla spouses then saw a copy
of the "Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa" and noticed that their
signatures as sellers were forged.13

They then demanded the cancellation of the "Kasulatan ng Bilihan


ng Lupa" from Amada and all subsequent transfers of the
property, its reconveyance, and the restoration of its tax
declaration in their name.14 Amada failed to take action.

On November 17, 1995, the Revillaspouses filed a complaint


before the Tagaytay Regional Trial Court for the annulment of
sales and transfers of title and reconveyance of the property with
damages against Amada, the Casorla spouses, the Sun spouses,
and the Provincial Assessor of Cavite.15

In her answer, Amada denied that the property was used as a


security for the Revilla spouses loan.16 Instead, she claimed that
the Revilla spouses voluntarily executed the "Kasulatan ng Bilihan
ng Lupa" in her favor on March 19, 1979. She added that the
Revilla spouses cause of action already prescribed.17

For their part, the Sun spouses argued good faith belief that
Amada was the real owner of the property asAmada showed them
a tax declaration in her name and the "Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng
Lupa" allegedly executed by the Revilla spouses.18 When the Sun
spouses discovered there was another sale with the Casorla
spouses, they were assured by Amada that she had already
bought back the property from the Casorla spouses.19
Subsequently, the Casorla spouses executed a deed ofabsolute
sale dated December 16, 1991 in favor of the Sun spouses.20
They also argued prescription against the Revilla spouses, and
prayed for damages against Amada by way of crossclaim.21

On August 3, 2006, the Regional Trial Court22 found the


"Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa" to be a fictitious document, and
ruled in favor of the Revilla spouses:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered


as follows:

1. Declaring the sales/transfers from Tax Declaration No. 7971, s.


1980 to Tax Declaration No. 18584, s. 1994 as NULL and VOID,
without valid transmission of title and interest from the original
owners, plaintiffs herein and consequently, entitling plaintiffs to
reinstatement and reconveyance of their title/taxdeclaration as
well as possession of the subject property;

2. Ordering defendant Zacariasto pay the following:

2.1 To the Plaintiffs:

a. P50,000.00 for moral damages;


b. P20,000.00 for exemplary damages; and

c. P80,000.00 for attorneys fees.

2.2 To Defendant-Spouses Sun:

a. P467,350.00 for actual damages;

b. P50,000.00 for moral damages;

c. P20,000.00 for exemplary damages; and

d. P100,000.00 for attorneys fees.

SO ORDERED.23

Amada appealed the trial courts decision, while the Sun spouses
partially appealed the decision as to interest and damages.

On August 13, 2009, the Court of Appeals24 dismissed the appeal


of Amada, and partially granted the appeal of the Sun spouses.
The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is
hereby rendered by us DISMISSING the appeal filed by defendant
appellant Amada C. Zacarias in this case, and PARTIALLY
GRANTING the appeal filed by the Spouses Rodolfo and Yolanda
Sun. The Decision dated August 3, 2006 rendered by Branch 18 of
the Regional Trial Court of the Fourth Judicial Region stationed in
Tagaytay City, Cavite in Civil Case No. TG-1543 is MODIFIED in
that defendant-appellant Amada C. Zacarias is ordered to pay
interest at 6% per annum on the principal obligation in the
amount of P467,350.00 from February 3, 1995, the date of the
first judicial demand by the Spouses Sun, until said decision on
the principal obligation became final and executory, and interest
at 12% per annum on the principal obligation, moral and
exemplary damages, as well as attorneys fees, from the time said
decision became final and executory until full payment of said
amounts.

SO ORDERED.25

The Court of Appeals denied Amadas motion for reconsideration;


hence, she filed this petition. Petitioner argues that the
antichresisclaim of the Revilla spouses was not reduced into
writing, thus, it is void under Article 2134 of the Civil Code.26 She
submits that the allegation of antichresis was only an excuse by
the Revilla spouses for their failure to impugn possession of the
property by Amada and her successors-in-interest for over 16
years.27

Petitioner contends that the sale inher favor was established by


the "Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa," the delivery of the tax
declaration, and the testimony of one Mrs. Rosita Castillo
(Rosita).28 Rosita was the second wife of Felimon Castillo, the
previous owner of the property. She testified that respondent Paz
Castillo-Revilla admitted toher father, Felimon, that she and
Alfredo Revilla sold the property to Amada.29

On the alleged forgery, petitioner submits that the court


misapplied the principle that "he who alleges not he who denies
must prove" when it stated that she had the burden of proving the
due execution of the deed of absolute sale. Since the Revilla
spouses alleged that the deedwas a forged document, they had
the burden of proving the forgery.30 She then cites the trial court
in that "[a]ccordingly, the National Bureauof Investigation was not
able to ascertain the genuineness of the signatureof plaintiff Paz
Revilla because of lack of sufficient sample signatures. . . ."31

On the prescription argument, the parties live in a very small


barangay. While Alfredo Revilla worked in Saudi Arabia, he
admitted returning to the Philippines twice a year, while his wife
never left Silang, Cavite,32 and yet the Revilla spouses never
questioned the activities on the property for more than 16
years.33

On the proper docket fees, petitioner contends that the Revilla


spouses paid docket fees based on their prayer for actual
damages of P50,000.00, moral damages of P50,000.00, and
attorneys fee of P80,000.00, when they should have based it on
P12,000,000.00, the value of the property they alleged in their
supplemental pre-trial brief.34

Lastly, petitioner argues that the property is conjugal in nature,


but the court never declared that respondent Paz Castillo-Revillas
signature was falsified. Thus, the sale over her half of the
property cannot be declared void.35 She adds that the Sun
spouses are buyers in good faith for value, making reinstatement
of the property impossible.36

Respondents Revilla spouses counter that the factual issue of


whether the "Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa" isa falsified document
was already conclusively resolved by the lower courts and,
generally, factual findings are beyond this courts power of
review.37

On the prescription issue, respondents Revilla spouses argue that


an action or defense to declare a document null is
imprescriptible.38 Laches also does not apply since they
immediately questioned the fraudulent transfers by filing a
complaint in November 1995 upon learning of the questionable
documents in February 1995, after Alfredo had returned from
Saudi Arabia in December 1994.39

Respondents Revilla spouses contend that they paid the proper


docket fees. The P12,000,000.00 mentioned during pre-trial that
petitioner insists should have been the basis of the fees was
neither stated in the complaint nor awarded by the court.40

Respondents Revilla spouses argue that the court did not err in
ordering reinstatement of the property tothem. First, the defense
that the Sun spouses were buyers in good faith is a personal
defense that cannot be raised by petitioner who was not privy to
the sale between the Casorla spouses and the Sun spouses.41
Second, an alternative prayer for damages cannot be interpreted
as an admission that the relief for reinstatement is not viable.42
Third, the transaction happened prior to the effectivity of the
Family Code; thus, Article 172 of the Civil Code applies such that
"[t]he wife cannot bind the conjugal partnership without the
husbands consent, except in cases provided by law."43
Consequently, the result is the same even if respondent Paz
Castillo-Revilla did not testify that the signature is not hers, as she
cannot bind the entire property without her husbands consent.44
Lastly, no unjust enrichment exists since they were deprived of
their property for so long.45

The issues for this courts resolution are as follows:

First, whether respondents Revilla spouses cause of action is


barred by prescription or laches; Second, whether the trial court
acquired jurisdiction when respondents Revilla spouses paid filing
fees based on the P50,000.00 claim for damages in the complaint
but stated in their supplemental pre-trial brief that the property is
valued at P12,000,000.00; and

Third, whether the Court of Appeals erred in upholding the


reinstatement and reconveyance of the property in favor of
respondents Revilla spouses.

I.

On the first issue, petitioner argues that respondents Revilla


spouses claim is barred by laches since theyallowed 16 years to
lapse, with petitioner having possession of the property, before
filing suit.46

Laches has been defined as "the failure or neglect, for an


unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which
by the exercise of due diligence could or should have been
done earlier."47

The elements that need to be present and proven before an


action is considered barred by laches are the following:

The four basic elements of laches are: (1) conduct on the part of
the defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the
situation of which complaint is made and for which the complaint
seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the complainant's rights,
the complainant having had knowledge or notice of the
defendants conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to
institute suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the
defendant that the complainant would assert the right on which
he bases his suit; and, (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in
the event relief is accorded to the complainant or the suit is not
held to be barred.48

There was no delay by respondents Revilla spouses in asserting


their rights over the property. The lower courts found that
respondents Revilla spouses first learned of the existence of the
"Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa" in February 1995 when they were
serveda copy of the pleading in the land registration case
instituted by the Sun spouses.49 They filed their complaint within
the same year, specifically, on November 17, 1995. The lapse of
only nine (9) months from the time they learned of the
questionable transfers on the property cannot be considered as
sleeping on their rights.

In any case, doctrines of equity such as laches apply only in the


absence of statutory law. The Civil Code clearly provides that
"[t]he action or defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a
contract does not prescribe."50 This court has discussed:

Lachesis a doctrine in equity and our courts are basically courts of


law and not courts of equity. Equity, which has been aptly
described as "justice outside legality," should be applied only in
the absence of, and never against, statutory law. Aequetas
nunguam contravenit legis. The positive mandate of Art. 1410 of
the New Civil Code conferring imprescriptibility to actions for
declaration of the inexistence of a contract should pre-empt and
prevail over all abstract arguments based only on equity.
Certainly, laches cannot be set up to resist the enforcement of an
imprescriptible legal right, and petitioners can validly vindicate
their inheritance despite the lapse of time.51

II.

On the second issue, petitioner argues that respondents Revilla


spouses did not pay the correct docket fees. She submits that
docket fees paid were based on the prayer for actual damages of
P50,000.00, moral damages of P50,000.00, and attorneys fee of
P80,000.00, when the spouses Revilla should have based it on
P12,000,000.00, the value of the property they alleged in their
supplemental pre-trial brief.52 Petitioner cites Supreme Court
Circular No. 7 and jurisprudence holding that the payment of
proper docket fees is crucial in vesting courts with jurisdiction
over the subject matter.53

This court finds that respondents Revilla spouses paid the proper
docket fees, thus, the trial court acquired jurisdiction.
It is true that "[i]t 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
subject matter or nature of the action."54

In Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals,55


this court "condemned the practice of counsel who in filing the
original complaint omitted from the prayer any specification of
the amount of damages although the amount of over 78 million is
alleged in the body of the complaint."56 The court gave the
following warning against this unethical practice that serves no
other purpose than to avoid paying the correct filing fees:

The Court serves warning that itwill take drastic action upon a
repetition of this unethical practice. 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 not only inthe body of the pleading but also in
the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the
assessment of the filing fees in any case. Any pleading that fails
to comply with this requirement shall not be accepted nor
admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the record.

The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the
payment of the 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 based on the
amounts sought in the amended pleading. The ruling in the
Magaspi case in sofar as it is inconsistent with this
pronouncement is overturned and reversed.57 (Emphasis
supplied)
This ruling was circularized through Supreme Court Circular No.
758 addressed to all lower court judges and the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines for dissemination to and guidance for all its
members.

The facts of this case differ from Manchester and similar


situations envisioned under the circular. The complaint filed by
respondents Revilla spouses included in its prayer the amount of
P50,000.00 as actual damages, without mention of any other
amount in the body of the complaint. No amended complaint was
filed to increase this amount in the prayer. Thus, the Court of
Appeals found as follows:

In the case at bench, the complaint filed by the Spouses Revilla


only asked for actual damages in the amount of P50,000.00.
While the Spouses Revilla mentioned the amount of
P12,000,000.00 as actual damages in the pre-trial, said amount
was not stated in the complaint and neither was it awarded by the
lower court in its judgment. Hence, said amount was not even
considered by the court a quo when it awarded damages in favor
of the Spouses Revilla. Considering that the complaint was not
formally amended by the spouses to increase the amount of
actual damages being sought, the trial court was not stripped of
its jurisdiction to try the case since the Spouses Revilla correctly
paid the docket fees based merely on what was prayed for in the
complaint.Indeed, the mere mentioning by the Spouses Revilla of
the amount of P12,000,000.00 during the pre-trial is
inconsequential, as the trial court properly acquired jurisdiction
over the action when the Spouses Revilla filed the complaint and
paid the requisite filing fees based on the amount as prayed for in
the complaint.59 (Emphasis supplied)

In Padlan v. Dinglasan,60 this court reiterated that "[w]hat


determines the jurisdiction of the court is the nature of the action
pleaded as appearing from the allegations in the complaint [and]
[t]he averments therein and the character of the relief sought are
the ones to be consulted."61

Petitioner attached copies of the tax declarations and deeds of


sale over the property to the petition. Tax Declaration No. 7971 in
the name of respondents Revilla spouses provides that the land
had a market value of P13,500.00, while the mango trees had a
market value of P3,500.00.62 Petitioner alleged in her petition
that respondents Revilla spouses offered to sell the property to
her for P50,000.00,63 while the trial court found that the
"Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa" reflected the amount of
P20,000.00.64 Subsequent tax declarations in the name of
petitioner, the Casorla spouses, and the Sun spouses all provided
for land market values lower than P50,000.00.65 The deed of sale
in favor of the Casorla spouses states that the assessed value of
the property was P1,400.00, and the consideration for the sale
was P50,000.00.66 The subsequent deed of sale in favor of the
Sun spouses provides for the same amount as consideration.67

None of these documents submitted by petitioner indicate an


amount in excess of the P50,000.00 prayed for by respondents
Revilla spouses as actual damages in their complaint. Thus, the
basis for the P12,000,000.00 value raised during pre-trial is
unclear. Based on the complaint, respondents Revilla spouses
paid the correct docket fees computed from the amounts in their
prayer.

III.
The third issue involves the reinstatement of respondents Revilla
spouses in the property and reconveyance of its tax declaration in
their favor.

Petitioner argues that antichresis is a formal contract that must


be in writing in order to be valid.68 Respondents Revilla spouses
were not able to prove the existence of the alleged antichresis
contract. On the other hand, the sale of the property to petitioner
was established by the "Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa" and the
testimony of Rosita Castillo, the second wife of the previous
owner, Felimon Castillo.69

We affirm the lower courts order of reinstatement and


reconveyance of the property in favor of respondents Revilla
spouses.

Respondents Revilla spouses complaint sought "to annul the


sales and transfers of title emanating from Tax Declaration No.
7971 registered in their name involving a 15,000-square[-]meter
unregistered land . . . with prayer for reconveyance and claims for
damages."70 There was no prayer to declare the purported
contract of sale as antichresis.71 Thus, respondents Revilla
spouses neither discussed nor used the term "antichresis" in their
comment and memorandum before this court. They focused on
the nature of their complaint as one for annulment of titles on the
ground of forgery.72 At most, the trial courts summary of
respondents Revilla spouses evidence described the parties
agreements as follows:

Plaintiffs evidence and the testimony of plaintiff Alfredo Revilla


tend to indicate that plaintiffs are the owners in fee simple of a
15,000-square[-]meter unregistered land, located at Brgy. Adlas,
Silang, Cavite. Their ownership being evidenced by Tax
Declaration No. 7971, s. 1980 (Exh. "A"). Sometime in 1981,
plaintiffs needed money for the travel and deployment of plaintiff
Alfredo to Saudi Arabia. Plaintiff Paz Revilla sought financial help
from defendant Cotoner-Zacarias from whom she was able to
obtain a loan but secured with and by way of mortgage of the
subject property. The parties further agreed that defendant
Cotoner Zacarias would take possession of the subject property
and cultivate it with the earnings therefrom to be used to pay-off
the loan and the annual realty taxes on the land.It was their
agreement with defendant Cotoner Zacarias that the latter will
rent the subject property and with that agreement, the lease
started sometime in 1981 and plantiffs got from defendant
Cotoner-Zacarias the amount of Php3,000.00 as rental for the first
year, 1981, with no specific agreement as to the period covered
by such rental[.]73 (Emphasis supplied)

Article 2132 of the Civil Code provides that "[b]y the contract of
antichresis the creditor acquires the right to receive the fruits of
an immovable of his debtor, with the obligation to apply them to
the payment of the interest, if owing, and thereafter to the
principal of his credit."

Thus, antichresis involves an express agreement between parties


such that the creditor will have possession of the debtors real
property given as security, and such creditor will apply the fruits
of the property to the interest owed by the debtor, if any, then to
the principal amount.74

The term, antichresis, has a Greek origin with "anti (against) and
chresis (use) denoting the action of giving a credit against the
use of a property."75
Historically, 15th century B.C. tablets revealed that "antichresis
contracts were commonly employed in the Sumerian and
Akkadian Mesopotamian cultures."76 Antichresis contracts were
incorporated in Babylonian law, modifying and combining it with
that of mortgage pledge.77 Nearing the end of the classical
period, antichresis contracts entered Roman law that "adopted
the convention that the tenant usufruct had to be exactly
compensated by the interest on the lump sum payment."78
During the middle ages, canon law banned antichresis contracts
for being a form of usury.79 These contracts only reappeared in
the 1804 Napoleonic Code that influenced the laws of most
countries today.80 It had been observed that "antichresis
contracts coexist with periodic rent contracts in many property
markets."81

In the Civil Code, antichresis provisions may be found under Title


XVI, together with other security contracts such as pledge and
mortgage.

Antichresis requires delivery of the property to the antichretic


creditor, but the latter cannot ordinarily acquire this immovable
property in his or her possession by prescription.82

Similar to the prohibition against pactum commissorium83 since


creditors cannot "appropriate the thingsgiven by way of pledge or
mortgage, or dispose of them,"84 an antichretic creditor also
cannot appropriate the real property in his or her favor upon the
non-payment of the debt.85

Antichresis also requires that the amount of the principal and the
interest be in writing for the contract to be valid.86
However, the issue before us does not concern the nature of the
relationship between the parties, but the validity of the
documents that caused the subsequent transfers of the property
involved.

The reinstatement of the property in favor of respondents Revilla


spouses was anchored on the lower courts finding that their
signatures as sellers in the "Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa" were
forged.

This court has held that the "question of forgery is one of fact."87
Well-settled is the rule that "[f]actual findings of the lower courts
are entitled great weight and respect on appeal, and in fact
accorded finality when supported by substantial evidence on the
record."88

The Court of Appeals agreed with the finding of the trial court that
the signature of Alfredo Revilla in the "Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng
Lupa" was forged:

It was convincingly found by the court a quo that the Kasulatan ng


Bilihan ng Lupaor Deed of Sale covering the subject property
allegedly executed by the Spouses Revilla in favorof Zacarias was
spurious, as the trial court, after relying on the report of the
handwriting experts of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
saying that "there exist significant differences in handwriting
characteristics/habits between the questioned and the
standard/sample signatures ALFREDO REVILLA such as in the
manner of execution of strokes, structural pattern of
letters/elements, and minute identifying details", as well as the
trial courts own visual analysis of the document and the sample
signatures of plaintiff-appellee Alfredo, clearly showed that his
signature on the said Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupawas indeed
forged.89

Petitioner contends that the lower courts never declared as


falsified the signature of Alfredos wife, Paz Castillo-Revilla. Since
the property is conjugal in nature, the sale as to the one-half
share of Paz Castillo-Revilla should not be declared as void.90

The transaction took place before the effectivity of the Family


Code in 2004. Generally, civil laws have no retroactive effect.91
Article 256 of the Family Code provides that "[it] shall have
retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested
or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other
laws."

Article 165 of the Civil Code states that "[t]he husband is the
administrator of the conjugal partnership." Article 172 of the Civil
Code provides that "[t]he wife cannot bind the conjugal
partnership without the husbands consent, except in cases
provided by law."92 In any case, the Family Code also provides as
follows:

Art. 96. The administration and enjoyment of the community


property shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of
disagreement, the husbands decision shall prevail, subject to
recourse to the court by the wife for proper remedy, which must
be availed of within five years from the date of the contract
implementing such decision.

In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable


to participate in the administration of the common properties, the
other spouse may assume sole powers of administration. These
powers do not include disposition or encumbrance without
authority of the court or the written consent of the other spouse.
In the absence of such authority or consent, the disposition or
encumbrance shall be void. However, the transaction shall be
construed as a continuing offer on the part of the consenting
spouse and the third person, and may be perfected as a binding
contract upon the acceptance by the other spouse or
authorization by the court before the offer iswithdrawn by either
or both offerors. (Emphasis supplied)

Thus, as correctly found by the Court of Appeals, "assuming


arguendo that the signature of plaintiff-appellee Paz on the
Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupawas not forged, her signature alone
would still not bind the subject property, it being already
established that the said transaction was made without the
consent of her husband plaintiff-appellee Alfredo."93

Lastly, petitioner argues that she has no obligation to prove the


genuineness and due execution of the "Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng
Lupa" considering it is a public document.94

The trial court found otherwise. Atty. Diosdado de Mesa, who


allegedly notarized the "Kasulatanng Bilihan ng Lupa," was not a
commissioned notary public. The trial court discussed as follows:

Furthermore, it was discovered that the notary public who


purportedly notarized the "Kasulatanng Bilihan ng Lupa" has not
been registered notary public in the province of Cavite in 1979
nor at present. The record bears out various Certifications to
prove there is no available record on file with the Office of the
Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Cavite City of a
Commission/Order appointing Atty. Diosdado de Mesa, the lawyer
who notarized the subject document, as Notary Public for the
Province and City of Cavite (Exh. "Y" to "Y-2"); Certification from
the Records Management and Archives Office, Manila that no copy
is on file with the said office of the Deed of Sale allegedly
executed by plaintiffs before Notary Public Diosdado de Mesa, for
and within Imus, Cavite, acknowledged as Doc. No. 432, Page No.
45, Book No. VIII, Series of 1979 (Exh. "Z" to "Z-1"); Certification
issued by Clerk of Court, Atty. Ana Liza M. Luna, Regional Trial
Court, Tagaytay City that there is no available record on file of a
Commission/Order appointing Atty. Diosdado de Mesa as Notary
Public for the Province and Cities of Tagaytay, Cavite and Trece
Martires in 1979 (Exh. "AA" to"AA-2"); Certification issued by Clerk
of Court, Atty. Jose O, Lagao, Jr., Regional Trial Court, Multiple Sala,
Bacoor, Cavite that there isno available record on file of a
Commission/Order appointing Atty. Diosdado de Mesa as Notary
Public for the Province and City of Cavite (Exh. "BB" to "BB-2");
and Certification issued by Clerk of Court, Atty. Regalado E.
Eusebio, Regional Trial Court, Multiple Sala, Imus, Cavite that
there is no available record on file of a Commission/Order
appointing Atty. Diosdado de Mesa as Notary Public for the
Province of Cavite (Exh. "CC" to "CC-2").95 (Emphasis supplied).

Petitioner contends that the Sun spouses were buyers in good


faith for value, thus, the court erred in ordering reinstatement of
the property in favor of respondents Revilla spouses.96

This court has held that "the rule in land registration law that the
issue of whether the buyer of realty is in good or bad faith is
relevant only where the subject of the sale is registeredland and
the purchase was made from the registered owner whose title to
the land is clean[.]"97 Our laws have adopted the Torrens system
to strengthen public confidence in land transactions: [T]he Torrens
system was adopted in this country because it was believed to be
the most effective measure to guarantee the integrity of land
titles and to insure their indefeasibility once the claim of
ownership is established and recognized. If a person purchases a
piece of land on the assurance that the sellers title thereto is
valid, he should not run the risk of losing his acquisition. If this
were permitted, public confidence in the system would be eroded
and land transactions would have to be attended by complicated
and not necessarily conclusive investigations and proof of
ownership.98

Necessarily, those who rely in good faith on a clean title issued


under the Torrens system for registered lands must be
protected.1wphi1 On the other hand, those who purchase
unregistered lands do so at their own peril.99

This good faith argument cannot be considered as this case


involves unregistered land. In any case, as explained by
respondents Revilla spouses in their memorandum, this is a
defense personal to the Sun spouses and cannot be borrowed by
petitioner.100 The Sun spouses no longer raised this argument on
appeal, but only made a partial appeal regarding legal interest on
the award.101

WHEREFORE, this petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The


decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 13, 2009 is
AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN

Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO

Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify


that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court's Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Acting Chief Justice


Footnotes

1 Manzano, Jr. v. Garcia, G.R. No. 179323, November 28, 2011,


661 SCRA 350, 362 [Per J. LeonardoDe Castro, First Division]. See
also Gochan and Sons Realty Corporation v. Heirs of Raymundo
Baba, 456 Phil. 569, 578-579 ,(2003) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First
Division], citing Salomon v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 263
Phil. 1068, 1081-1082 (1990) [Per J. Medialdea, First Division];
Vda. de Portugal v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 242 Phil. 709,
716 (1988) [Per J. Sarmiento, Second Division]; -Garanciang v.
Garanciang, 138 Phil. 237, 239 (1969) [Per J. Makalintal, En Banc];
Lacsamana v. Court of Appeals, 351 Phil. 526, 533-534 (1998)
[Per J. Bellosillo, First Division].

2 Rollo, pp. 1038. The petition is filed pursuant to Rule 45 of the


Rules of Court.

3 Id. at 3738.

4 Id. at 44, citing record, p. 7.

5 Id. at 45.

6 Id.
7 Id.

8 Id.

9 Id.

10 Id. at 46.

11 Id. at 46 and 83.

12 Id. at 46, 162, and 169.

13 Id. at 46.

14 Id.

15 Id. at 46 and 177.

16 Id. at 4647.

17 Id.
18 Id. at 47.

19 Id.

20 Id.

21 Id.

22 Id. at 161173, RTC decision. Thiscase, docketed as Civil Case


No. TG-1543, was tried at Branch 18, Regional Trial Court,
Tagaytay City, with the decision being penned by Presiding Judge
Edwin G. Larida, Jr.

23 Id. at 173.

24 Id. at 174190, CA decision. The decision, docketed as CA-G.R.


CV No. 88600, was penned by Associate Justice Isaias
Dicdicanand concurred in by Associate Justices Bienvenido L.
Reyes and Marlene Gonzales-Sison of the Seventh (7th) Division.

25 Id. at 189.
26 Id. at 131. Article 2134 of the Civil Code provides that "[t]he
amount of the principal and of the interest shall be specified in
writing; otherwise,the contract of antichresis shall be void."

27 Id.

28 Id. at 131 and 133.

29 Id. at 132.

30 Id. at 134.

31 Id. at 134, citing RTC decision, p. 6.

32 Id. at 136.

33 Id. at 137, citing Far East Bank and Trust Company v. Spouses
Cayetano, G.R. No. 179909, January 25, 2010, 611 SCRA 96 [Per J.
Villarama, Jr., First Division].

34 Id. at 139.

35 Id. at 140.
36 Id. at 141, citing Tiro v. Philippine Estates Corporation,585 Phil.
306 (2008) [Per J. Chico-Nazario, Third Division].

37 Id. at 150, citing Tongoy v. Court of Appeals, 208 Phil. 95


(1983) [Per J. Makasiar, Second Division].

38 Id. at 152.

39 Id. at 153.

40 Id. at 154, citing Union Bank of the Philippines v. Court of


Appeals, 352 Phil. 808 (1998) [Per J. Romero, Third Division] and
Siapno v. Manalo, 505 Phil. 430 (2005) [Per J. Garcia, Third
Division].

41 Id. at 156.

42 Id.

43 Id. at 157.

44 Id., citing Bucoy v. Paulino, 131 Phil. 790 (1968) [Per J.


Sanchez, En Banc].
45 Id.

46 Id. at 135.

47 Department of Education, Division of Albay v. Oate, 551 Phil.


633, 648649 (2007) [Per J. Velasco, Jr., Second Division], citing
Soliva v. The Intestate Estate of Marcelo M. Villalba, 462 Phil. 761,
773 (2003) [Per J. Panganiban, First Division], which in turn cited
Ramos v. Heirs of Ramos, Sr., 431 Phil. 337, 350 (2002) [Per J.
Panganiban, Third Division]; Westmont Bank v. Ong, 425 Phil. 834,
846 (2002) [Per J. Quisumbing, Second Division].

48 Heirs of Dumaliang v. Serban, 545 Phil. 243, 251 (2007) [Per J.


Austria-Martinez, Third Division], citing Felix Gochan and Sons
Realty Corporation v. Heirs of Raymundo Baba, 456 Phil. 569, 579
(2003) [Per J. Ynares-Santiago, First Division] and Biala v. Court of
Appeals and Maria P. Lee, G.R. No. 43503, October 31, 1990, 191
SCRA 50, 56 [Per J. Medialdea, First Division].

49 Rollo, pp. 169 and 184.

50 CIVIL CODE, art. 1410.

51 Heirs of Ingjug-Tiro v. Spouses Casals, 415 Phil. 665, 673674


(2001) [Per J. Bellosillo, Second Division].
52 Rollo, p. 139.

53 Id. at 140.

54 Ungria v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 165777, July 25, 2011, 654
SCRA 314, 325 [Per J. Peralta, Third Division], citing Pantranco
North Express, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 105180, July 5,
1993, 224 SCRA 477, 478 [Per J. Davide, Jr., Third Division].

55 233 Phil. 579 (1987) [Per J. Gancayco, En Banc].

56 Supreme Court Circular No. 7 (1988).

57 Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals,233


Phil. 579, 585 (1987) [Per J. Gancayco, En Banc].

58 This was issued on March 24, 1988.

59 Rollo, p. 51.

60 G.R. No. 180321, March 20, 2013, 694 SCRA 91 [Per J. Peralta,
Third Division].
61 Id. at 99. See also Unilongo v. Court of Appeals, 365 Phil. 105,
114115 (1999) [Per J. Kapunan, En Banc]; Ermita v. Aldecoa-
Delorino, G.R. No. 177130, June 7, 2011, 651 SCRA 128, 137 [Per
J. Carpio Morales, En Banc], citing Fernando v. Spouses Lim, 585
Phil. 141 (2008) [Per J. Austria-Martinez, Third Division].

62 Rollo, p. 60.

63 Id. at 20.

64 Id. at 167.

65 Tax Declaration No. 19773 in the name of Amada provides that


the land had a market value of 13,500.00, while the mango trees
had a market value of 1,050.00. (rollo, p. 62). Tax Declaration No.
38 in the name of Amada provides that the land had a market
value of 26,550.00, while the mango trees had a market value of
1,500.00. (rollo, p. 63). Tax Declaration No. 30411-A in the name
of the Casorla spouses provides that the land had a market value
of 20,692.50. (rollo, p. 66). Tax declarations in the name of the
Sun spouses provide that the land had a market value of
41,652.00, then 20,692.50, then 20,692.50. (rollo, pp. 6971).

66 Rollo, p. 64.

67 Id. at 67.
68 Id. at 131.

69 Id.

70 Id. at 161.

71 See Bangis v. Heirs of Adolfo, G.R. No. 190875, June 13, 2012,
672 SCRA 468, 472 [Per J. PerlasBernabe, Third Division].

72 Rollo, p. 146.

73 Id. at 161162.

74 Diego v. Fernando, 109 Phil. 143, 145 (1960) [Per J. J. B. L.


Reyes].

75 See I. Navarro and G. Turnbull, Antichresis Leases: Theory and


Empirical Evidence from the Bolivian Experience 5 (2009) for its
discussion on the history of antichresis.

76 Id.

77 Id.
78 Id.

79 Id.

80 Id. at 6.

81 Id.

82 Trillana v. Manansala, et al., 96 Phil. 865, 866 (1955) [Per J.


Bengzon, En Banc], citing Barretto v. Barretto, 37 Phil. 234 (1917)
[Per J. Torres, En Banc] and Valencia v. Acala, 42 Phil. 177 (1921)
[Per J. Villamor, En Banc].

83 "Pactum commissorium is a stipulation empowering the


creditor to appropriate the thing given as guaranty for the
fulfilment of the obligation in the event the obligor fails to live up
to his undertakings without further formality, such as foreclosure
proceedings, and a public sale." Martires v. Chua, G.R. No.
174240, March 20, 2013, 694 SCRA 38, 52 [Per J. Peralta, Third
Division], citing Edralin v. Philippine Veterans Bank, G.R. No.
168523, March 9, 2011, 645 SCRA 75, 89 [Per J. Del Castillo, First
Division].

84 CIVIL CODE, art. 2088. "The creditor cannot appropriate the


things given by way of pledge or mortgage, or dispose of them.
Any stipulation to the contrary is null and void."
85 CIVIL CODE, art. 2137 "The creditor does not acquire the
ownership of the real estate for non-payment of the debt within
the period agreed upon."

86 CIVIL CODE, art. 2134;Bangis v. Heirs of Adolfo, G.R. No.


190875, June 13, 2012, 672 SCRA 468, 477 [Per J. Perlas-Bernabe,
Third Division].

87 Deheza-Inamarga v. Alano, et al., 595 Phil. 294, 300 (2008)


[Per J. Quisumbing, Second Division], citing Cogtong v. Kyoritsu
International, Inc., 555 Phil. 302, 306 (2007) [Per J. Quisumbing,
Second Division].

88 Spouses Bernales v. Heirs of Sambaan, G.R. No. 163271,


January 15, 2010, 610 SCRA 90, 99 [Per J. Del Castillo, Second
Division].

89 Rollo, pp. 52 and 165166.

90 Id. at 140.

91 CIVIL CODE, art. 4.

92 See Fabrigas v. Del Monte, 512 Phil. 627, 640642 (2005) [Per
J. Tinga, Second Division] for its discussion on Article 172 and the
Civil Code and the status of contracts entered by a wife without
her husbands consent.

93 Rollo, p. 54.

94 Id. at 134.

95 Id. at 166.

96 Id. at 141, citing Heirs of Tiro v. Philippine Estates Corporation,


585 Phil. 306 (2008) [Per J. Chico Nazario, Third Division].

97 See Estate of Cabacungan v. Laigo, G.R. No. 175073, August


15, 2011, 655 SCRA 366, 388 [Per J. Peralta, Third Division], citing
Spouses Rayos v. Reyes, 446 Phil. 32, 50 (2003) [Per J. Bellosillo,
Second Division], in turn citing Sales v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
40145, July 29, 1992, 211 SCRA 858 [Per J. Romero, Third Division]
and David v. Bandin, 233 Phil. 139, 150 (1987) [Per C.J. Yap, First
Division].

98 Vda. de Melencion v. Court of Appeals, 560 Phil. 334, 356


(2007) [Per J. Nachura, Third Division].

99 See Estate of Cabacungan v. Laigo, G.R. No. 175073, August


15, 201 l, 655 SCRA 366, 388 [Per J. Peralta, Third Division].
100 Rollo, p. 156.

101 See CA decision, rollo, p. 55.

Case Digest
FACTS:

Alfredo Revilla and Paz Castillo-Revilla (Revilla spouses) are the


owners in
fee simple of an unregistered parcel of land. In 1983, Paz Castillo-
Revilla borrowed money from Amada Cotoner-Zacarias (Amada) to
finance Alfredo Revillas travel to Saudi Arabia. By way of security,
the parties verbally agreed that until full payment of the loan,
Amada would take physical possession of the property, cultivate
it, then use the earnings from the cultivation to pay the loan and
realty taxes. Unknown to the Revilla spouses, Amada presented a
fictitious document dated March 19, 1979, entitled Kasulatan ng
Bilihan ng Lupa before the Provincial Assessor of Cavite,
with the Revilla spouses as sellers and Amada as buyer of the
property. Consequently, the tax declaration in the name of the
Revilla spouses was cancelled, and a new tax declaration was
issued in the name of Amada.

In 1984, Amada sold the property to the spouses Adolf and Elvira
Casorla
(Casorla spouses). In turn, the Casorla spouses sold the property
to spouses Rodolfo and Yolanda Sun (Sunspouses). Upon Alfredo
Revillas return from Saudi Arabia, he discovered that the
propertys tax declaration was already in the name of the Sun
spouses. Subsequently, the Revilla spouses were served a copy of
the answer in the land registration case filed by the Sun spouses,
with a copy of the Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupaattached to it.
The Revilla spouses then filed a complaint for the annulment of
sales and transfers of title and reconveyance of the property with
damages against Amada, the Casorla spouses, the Sun spouses,
and the Provincial Assessor of Cavite. The Regional Trial Court
(RTC) ruled in favor of there villa
spouses. Amada appealed but it was denied, as well as her
motion for
reconsideration.

ISSUES:

Whether the Court of Appeals erred in upholding the


reinstatement and
reconveyance of the property in favor of respondents Revilla
spouses

RULING:

The reinstatement of the property in favor of respondents Revilla


spouses
was anchored on the lower courts finding that their signatures as
sellers in the Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa were forged. Amada
contends that the lower courts never declared as falsified the
signature of Alfredos wife, Paz Castillo-Revilla. Since the property
is conjugal in nature, the sale as to the one-half share of Paz
Castillo Revilla should not be declared as void.
The transaction took place before the effectivity of the Family
Code in2004.
Generally, civil laws have no retroactive effect. Article 256 of the
Family Code
provides that [it] shall have retroactive effect insofar as it does
not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in accordance
with the Civil Code or other
laws. Article 165 of the Civil Code states that [t]he husband is
the administrator of the conjugal partnership. Article 172 of the
Civil Code provides that [t]he wife cannot bind the conjugal
partnership without the husbands consent, except in cases
provided by law. In any case, the Family Code also provides as
follows:

Art. 96. The administration and enjoyment of the community


property shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of
disagreement, the husbands decision shall prevail, subject to
recourse to the court by the wife for proper remedy, which must
be availed of within five years from the date of the
contract implementing such decision. In the event that one
spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate in the
administration of the common properties, the other spouse may
assume sole powers of administration. These powers do not
include disposition or encumbrance
without authority of the court or the written consent of the other
spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent, the
disposition or encumbrance shall be void. However,
thetransaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the part
of the consenting spouse and the third person, and may be
perfected as a binding contract upon the acceptance by the other
spouse or
authorization by the court before the offer is withdrawn by either
or both offerors. (Emphasis supplied) Thus, as correctly found by
the Court of Appeals, assuming arguendo that the signature of
plaintiff-appellee Paz on the Kasulatan ng Bilihan ngLupa was not
forged, her signature alone would still not bind the subject
property, it being already established that the said transaction
was made without the consent of her husband plaintiff-appellee
Alfredo. Lastly, Amada argues that she has no obligation to prove
the genuineness and due execution of the Kasulatan ng Bilihan
ng Lupaconsidering it is a public document. The trial court found
otherwise. Atty. Diosdado de Mesa, who allegedly notarized the
Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa, was not a commissioned notary
public. Amada contends that the Sun spouses were buyers in
good faith for value, thus, the court erred in ordering
reinstatement of the property in favor of respondents Revilla
spouses. The Court has held that the rule in land registration law
that the issue of whether the buyer of realty is in good or bad
faith is relevant only where the subject of the sale is registered
land and the purchase was made from the registered owner
whose title to the land is clean[.]Necessarily, those who rely in
good faith on a clean title issued under the Torrens system for
registered lands must be protected.

On the other hand, those who purchase unregistered lands do so


at their own peril. This good faith argument cannot be considered
as this case
involves unregistered land. In any case, as explained by
respondents Revilla
spouses in their memorandum, this is a defense personal to the
Sun spouses
and cannot be borrowed by Amada. The Sun spouses no longer
raised this argument on appeal, but only made a partial appeal
regarding legal interest on the award.

G.R. No. L-63915 April 24, 1985

LORENZO M. TAADA, ABRAHAM F. SARMIENTO, and


MOVEMENT OF ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD,
INTEGRITY AND NATIONALISM, INC. [MABINI], petitioners,
vs.
HON. JUAN C. TUVERA, in his capacity as Executive
Assistant to the President, HON. JOAQUIN VENUS, in his
capacity as Deputy Executive Assistant to the President ,
MELQUIADES P. DE LA CRUZ, in his capacity as Director,
Malacaang Records Office, and FLORENDO S. PABLO, in
his capacity as Director, Bureau of Printing, respondents.

ESCOLIN, J.:

Invoking the people's right to be informed on matters of public


concern, a right recognized in Section 6, Article IV of the 1973
Philippine Constitution, 1 as well as the principle that laws to be
valid and enforceable must be published in the Official Gazette or
otherwise effectively promulgated, petitioners seek a writ of
mandamus to compel respondent public officials to publish,
and/or cause the publication in the Official Gazette of various
presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders,
proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and
administrative orders.

Specifically, the publication of the following presidential issuances


is sought:

a] Presidential Decrees Nos. 12, 22, 37, 38, 59, 64, 103,
171, 179, 184, 197, 200, 234, 265, 286, 298, 303, 312,
324, 325, 326, 337, 355, 358, 359, 360, 361, 368, 404,
406, 415, 427, 429, 445, 447, 473, 486, 491, 503, 504,
521, 528, 551, 566, 573, 574, 594, 599, 644, 658, 661,
718, 731, 733, 793, 800, 802, 835, 836, 923, 935, 961,
1017-1030, 1050, 1060-1061, 1085, 1143, 1165, 1166,
1242, 1246, 1250, 1278, 1279, 1300, 1644, 1772,
1808, 1810, 1813-1817, 1819-1826, 1829-1840, 1842-
1847.

b] Letter of Instructions Nos.: 10, 39, 49, 72, 107, 108,


116, 130, 136, 141, 150, 153, 155, 161, 173, 180, 187,
188, 192, 193, 199, 202, 204, 205, 209, 211-213, 215-
224, 226-228, 231-239, 241-245, 248, 251, 253-261,
263-269, 271-273, 275-283, 285-289, 291, 293, 297-
299, 301-303, 309, 312-315, 325, 327, 343, 346, 349,
357, 358, 362, 367, 370, 382, 385, 386, 396-397, 405,
438-440, 444- 445, 473, 486, 488, 498, 501, 399, 527,
561, 576, 587, 594, 599, 600, 602, 609, 610, 611, 612,
615, 641, 642, 665, 702, 712-713, 726, 837-839, 878-
879, 881, 882, 939-940, 964,997,1149-1178,1180-
1278.

c] General Orders Nos.: 14, 52, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64 &
65.

d] Proclamation Nos.: 1126, 1144, 1147, 1151, 1196,


1270, 1281, 1319-1526, 1529, 1532, 1535, 1538, 1540-
1547, 1550-1558, 1561-1588, 1590-1595, 1594-1600,
1606-1609, 1612-1628, 1630-1649, 1694-1695, 1697-
1701, 1705-1723, 1731-1734, 1737-1742, 1744, 1746-
1751, 1752, 1754, 1762, 1764-1787, 1789-1795, 1797,
1800, 1802-1804, 1806-1807, 1812-1814, 1816, 1825-
1826, 1829, 1831-1832, 1835-1836, 1839-1840, 1843-
1844, 1846-1847, 1849, 1853-1858, 1860, 1866, 1868,
1870, 1876-1889, 1892, 1900, 1918, 1923, 1933, 1952,
1963, 1965-1966, 1968-1984, 1986-2028, 2030-2044,
2046-2145, 2147-2161, 2163-2244.

e] Executive Orders Nos.: 411, 413, 414, 427, 429-454,


457- 471, 474-492, 494-507, 509-510, 522, 524-528,
531-532, 536, 538, 543-544, 549, 551-553, 560, 563,
567-568, 570, 574, 593, 594, 598-604, 609, 611- 647,
649-677, 679-703, 705-707, 712-786, 788-852, 854-
857.

f] Letters of Implementation Nos.: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-22, 25-


27, 39, 50, 51, 59, 76, 80-81, 92, 94, 95, 107, 120, 122,
123.
g] Administrative Orders Nos.: 347, 348, 352-354, 360-
378, 380-433, 436-439.

The respondents, through the Solicitor General, would have this


case dismissed outright on the ground that petitioners have no
legal personality or standing to bring the instant petition. The
view is submitted that in the absence of any showing that
petitioners are personally and directly affected or prejudiced by
the alleged non-publication of the presidential issuances in
question 2 said petitioners are without the requisite legal
personality to institute this mandamus proceeding, they are not
being "aggrieved parties" within the meaning of Section 3, Rule
65 of the Rules of Court, which we quote:

SEC. 3. Petition for Mandamus.When any tribunal,


corporation, board or person unlawfully neglects the
performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins
as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or
unlawfully excludes another from the use a rd
enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is
entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the
person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in
the proper court alleging the facts with certainty and
praying that judgment be rendered commanding the
defendant, immediately or at some other specified
time, to do the act required to be done to Protect the
rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages
sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful
acts of the defendant.

Upon the other hand, petitioners maintain that since the subject
of the petition concerns a public right and its object is to compel
the performance of a public duty, they need not show any specific
interest for their petition to be given due course.

The issue posed is not one of first impression. As early as the


1910 case of Severino vs. Governor General, 3 this Court held that
while the general rule is that "a writ of mandamus would be
granted to a private individual only in those cases where he has
some private or particular interest to be subserved, or some
particular right to be protected, independent of that which he
holds with the public at large," and "it is for the public officers
exclusively to apply for the writ when public rights are to be
subserved [Mithchell vs. Boardmen, 79 M.e., 469]," nevertheless,
"when the question is one of public right and the object of the
mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a public duty, the
people are regarded as the real party in interest and the relator at
whose instigation the proceedings are instituted need not show
that he has any legal or special interest in the result, it being
sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as such interested in the
execution of the laws [High, Extraordinary Legal Remedies, 3rd
ed., sec. 431].

Thus, in said case, this Court recognized the relator Lope


Severino, a private individual, as a proper party to the mandamus
proceedings brought to compel the Governor General to call a
special election for the position of municipal president in the town
of Silay, Negros Occidental. Speaking for this Court, Mr. Justice
Grant T. Trent said:

We are therefore of the opinion that the weight of


authority supports the proposition that the relator is a
proper party to proceedings of this character when a
public right is sought to be enforced. If the general rule
in America were otherwise, we think that it would not
be applicable to the case at bar for the reason 'that it is
always dangerous to apply a general rule to a particular
case without keeping in mind the reason for the rule,
because, if under the particular circumstances the
reason for the rule does not exist, the rule itself is not
applicable and reliance upon the rule may well lead to
error'
No reason exists in the case at bar for applying the
general rule insisted upon by counsel for the
respondent. The circumstances which surround this
case are different from those in the United States,
inasmuch as if the relator is not a proper party to these
proceedings no other person could be, as we have seen
that it is not the duty of the law officer of the
Government to appear and represent the people in
cases of this character.

The reasons given by the Court in recognizing a private citizen's


legal personality in the aforementioned case apply squarely to the
present petition. Clearly, the right sought to be enforced by
petitioners herein is a public right recognized by no less than the
fundamental law of the land. If petitioners were not allowed to
institute this proceeding, it would indeed be difficult to conceive
of any other person to initiate the same, considering that the
Solicitor General, the government officer generally empowered to
represent the people, has entered his appearance for respondents
in this case.

Respondents further contend that publication in the Official


Gazette is not a sine qua non requirement for the effectivity of
laws where the laws themselves provide for their own effectivity
dates. It is thus submitted that since the presidential issuances in
question contain special provisions as to the date they are to take
effect, publication in the Official Gazette is not indispensable for
their effectivity. The point stressed is anchored on Article 2 of the
Civil Code:

Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following


the completion of their publication in the Official
Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided, ...

The interpretation given by respondent is in accord with this


Court's construction of said article. In a long line of
decisions, 4 this Court has ruled that publication in the Official
Gazette is necessary in those cases where the legislation itself
does not provide for its effectivity date-for then the date of
publication is material for determining its date of effectivity,
which is the fifteenth day following its publication-but not when
the law itself provides for the date when it goes into effect.

Respondents' argument, however, is logically correct only insofar


as it equates the effectivity of laws with the fact of publication.
Considered in the light of other statutes applicable to the issue at
hand, the conclusion is easily reached that said Article 2 does not
preclude the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette,
even if the law itself provides for the date of its effectivity. Thus,
Section 1 of Commonwealth Act 638 provides as follows:

Section 1. There shall be published in the Official


Gazette [1] all important legislative acts and resolutions
of a public nature of the, Congress of the Philippines;
[2] all executive and administrative orders and
proclamations, except such as have no general
applicability; [3] decisions or abstracts of decisions of
the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as may be
deemed by said courts of sufficient importance to be so
published; [4] such documents or classes of documents
as may be required so to be published by law; and [5]
such documents or classes of documents as the
President of the Philippines shall determine from time to
time to have general applicability and legal effect, or
which he may authorize so to be published. ...

The clear object of the above-quoted provision is to give the


general public adequate notice of the various laws which are to
regulate their actions and conduct as citizens. Without such notice
and publication, there would be no basis for the application of the
maxim "ignorantia legis non excusat." It would be the height of
injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the
transgression of a law of which he had no notice whatsoever, not
even a constructive one.
Perhaps at no time since the establishment of the Philippine
Republic has the publication of laws taken so vital significance
that at this time when the people have bestowed upon the
President a power heretofore enjoyed solely by the legislature.
While the people are kept abreast by the mass media of the
debates and deliberations in the Batasan Pambansaand for the
diligent ones, ready access to the legislative recordsno such
publicity accompanies the law-making process of the President.
Thus, without publication, the people have no means of knowing
what presidential decrees have actually been promulgated, much
less a definite way of informing themselves of the specific
contents and texts of such decrees. As the Supreme Court of
Spain ruled: "Bajo la denominacion generica de leyes, se
comprenden tambien los reglamentos, Reales decretos,
Instrucciones, Circulares y Reales ordines dictadas de
conformidad con las mismas por el Gobierno en uso de su
potestad. 5

The very first clause of Section I of Commonwealth Act 638 reads:


"There shall be published in the Official Gazette ... ." The word
"shall" used therein imposes upon respondent officials an
imperative duty. That duty must be enforced if the Constitutional
right of the people to be informed on matters of public concern is
to be given substance and reality. The law itself makes a list of
what should be published in the Official Gazette. Such listing, to
our mind, leaves respondents with no discretion whatsoever as to
what must be included or excluded from such publication.

The publication of all presidential issuances "of a public nature" or


"of general applicability" is mandated by law. Obviously,
presidential decrees that provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties
for their violation or otherwise impose a burden or. the people,
such as tax and revenue measures, fall within this category. Other
presidential issuances which apply only to particular persons or
class of persons such as administrative and executive orders need
not be published on the assumption that they have been
circularized to all concerned. 6
It is needless to add that the publication of presidential issuances
"of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is a requirement
of due process. It is a rule of law that before a person may be
bound by law, he must first be officially and specifically informed
of its contents. As Justice Claudio Teehankee said in Peralta vs.
COMELEC 7:

In a time of proliferating decrees, orders and letters of


instructions which all form part of the law of the land,
the requirement of due process and the Rule of Law
demand that the Official Gazette as the official
government repository promulgate and publish the
texts of all such decrees, orders and instructions so that
the people may know where to obtain their official and
specific contents.

The Court therefore declares that presidential issuances of


general application, which have not been published, shall have no
force and effect. Some members of the Court, quite apprehensive
about the possible unsettling effect this decision might have on
acts done in reliance of the validity of those presidential decrees
which were published only during the pendency of this petition,
have put the question as to whether the Court's declaration of
invalidity apply to P.D.s which had been enforced or implemented
prior to their publication. The answer is all too familiar. In similar
situations in the past this Court had taken the pragmatic and
realistic course set forth in Chicot County Drainage District vs.
Baxter Bank 8 to wit:

The courts below have proceeded on the theory that


the Act of Congress, having been found to be
unconstitutional, was not a law; that it was inoperative,
conferring no rights and imposing no duties, and hence
affording no basis for the challenged decree. Norton v.
Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, 442; Chicago, 1. & L. Ry.
Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566. It is quite clear,
however, that such broad statements as to the effect of
a determination of unconstitutionality must be taken
with qualifications. The actual existence of a statute,
prior to such a determination, is an operative fact and
may have consequences which cannot justly be
ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new
judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling
as to invalidity may have to be considered in various
aspects-with respect to particular conduct, private and
official. Questions of rights claimed to have become
vested, of status, of prior determinations deemed to
have finality and acted upon accordingly, of public
policy in the light of the nature both of the statute and
of its previous application, demand examination. These
questions are among the most difficult of those which
have engaged the attention of courts, state and federal
and it is manifest from numerous decisions that an all-
inclusive statement of a principle of absolute
retroactive invalidity cannot be justified.

Consistently with the above principle, this Court in Rutter vs.


Esteban 9 sustained the right of a party under the Moratorium
Law, albeit said right had accrued in his favor before said law was
declared unconstitutional by this Court.

Similarly, the implementation/enforcement of presidential decrees


prior to their publication in the Official Gazette is "an operative
fact which may have consequences which cannot be justly
ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial
declaration ... that an all-inclusive statement of a principle of
absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified."

From the report submitted to the Court by the Clerk of Court, it


appears that of the presidential decrees sought by petitioners to
be published in the Official Gazette, only Presidential Decrees
Nos. 1019 to 1030, inclusive, 1278, and 1937 to 1939, inclusive,
have not been so published. 10 Neither the subject matters nor the
texts of these PDs can be ascertained since no copies thereof are
available. But whatever their subject matter may be, it is
undisputed that none of these unpublished PDs has ever been
implemented or enforced by the government. In Pesigan vs.
Angeles, 11 the Court, through Justice Ramon Aquino, ruled that
"publication is necessary to apprise the public of the contents of
[penal] regulations and make the said penalties binding on the
persons affected thereby. " The cogency of this holding is
apparently recognized by respondent officials considering the
manifestation in their comment that "the government, as a
matter of policy, refrains from prosecuting violations of criminal
laws until the same shall have been published in the Official
Gazette or in some other publication, even though some criminal
laws provide that they shall take effect immediately.

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents to publish in


the Official Gazette all unpublished presidential issuances which
are of general application, and unless so published, they shall
have no binding force and effect.

SO ORDERED.

Relova, J., concurs.

Aquino, J., took no part.

Concepcion, Jr., J., is on leave.

Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, C.J., concurring (with qualification):

There is on the whole acceptance on my part of the views


expressed in the ably written opinion of Justice Escolin. I am
unable, however, to concur insofar as it would unqualifiedly
impose the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette for
unpublished "presidential issuances" to have binding force and
effect.

I shall explain why.

1. It is of course true that without the requisite publication, a due


process question would arise if made to apply adversely to a
party who is not even aware of the existence of any legislative or
executive act having the force and effect of law. My point is that
such publication required need not be confined to the Official
Gazette. From the pragmatic standpoint, there is an advantage to
be gained. It conduces to certainty. That is too be admitted. It
does not follow, however, that failure to do so would in all cases
and under all circumstances result in a statute, presidential
decree or any other executive act of the same category being
bereft of any binding force and effect. To so hold would, for me,
raise a constitutional question. Such a pronouncement would lend
itself to the interpretation that such a legislative or presidential
act is bereft of the attribute of effectivity unless published in the
Official Gazette. There is no such requirement in the Constitution
as Justice Plana so aptly pointed out. It is true that what is
decided now applies only to past "presidential issuances".
Nonetheless, this clarification is, to my mind, needed to avoid any
possible misconception as to what is required for any statute or
presidential act to be impressed with binding force or effectivity.

2. It is quite understandable then why I concur in the separate


opinion of Justice Plana. Its first paragraph sets forth what to me
is the constitutional doctrine applicable to this case. Thus: "The
Philippine Constitution does not require the publication of laws as
a prerequisite for their effectivity, unlike some Constitutions
elsewhere. It may be said though that the guarantee of due
process requires notice of laws to affected Parties before they can
be bound thereby; but such notice is not necessarily by
publication in the Official Gazette. The due process clause is not
that precise. 1 I am likewise in agreement with its closing
paragraph: "In fine, I concur in the majority decision to the extent
that it requires notice before laws become effective, for no person
should be bound by a law without notice. This is elementary
fairness. However, I beg to disagree insofar as it holds that such
notice shall be by publication in the Official Gazette. 2

3. It suffices, as was stated by Judge Learned Hand, that law as


the command of the government "must be ascertainable in some
form if it is to be enforced at all. 3 It would indeed be to reduce it
to the level of mere futility, as pointed out by Justice Cardozo, "if
it is unknown and unknowable. 4 Publication, to repeat, is thus
essential. What I am not prepared to subscribe to is the doctrine
that it must be in the Official Gazette. To be sure once published
therein there is the ascertainable mode of determining the exact
date of its effectivity. Still for me that does not dispose of the
question of what is the jural effect of past presidential decrees or
executive acts not so published. For prior thereto, it could be that
parties aware of their existence could have conducted themselves
in accordance with their provisions. If no legal consequences
could attach due to lack of publication in the Official Gazette, then
serious problems could arise. Previous transactions based on such
"Presidential Issuances" could be open to question. Matters
deemed settled could still be inquired into. I am not prepared to
hold that such an effect is contemplated by our decision. Where
such presidential decree or executive act is made the basis of a
criminal prosecution, then, of course, its ex post facto character
becomes evident. 5 In civil cases though, retroactivity as such is
not conclusive on the due process aspect. There must still be a
showing of arbitrariness. Moreover, where the challenged
presidential decree or executive act was issued under the police
power, the non-impairment clause of the Constitution may not
always be successfully invoked. There must still be that process of
balancing to determine whether or not it could in such a case be
tainted by infirmity. 6 In traditional terminology, there could arise
then a question of unconstitutional application. That is as far as it
goes.
4. Let me make therefore that my qualified concurrence goes no
further than to affirm that publication is essential to the effectivity
of a legislative or executive act of a general application. I am not
in agreement with the view that such publication must be in the
Official Gazette. The Civil Code itself in its Article 2 expressly
recognizes that the rule as to laws taking effect after fifteen days
following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette
is subject to this exception, "unless it is otherwise provided."
Moreover, the Civil Code is itself only a legislative enactment,
Republic Act No. 386. It does not and cannot have the juridical
force of a constitutional command. A later legislative or executive
act which has the force and effect of law can legally provide for a
different rule.

5. Nor can I agree with the rather sweeping conclusion in the


opinion of Justice Escolin that presidential decrees and executive
acts not thus previously published in the Official Gazette would be
devoid of any legal character. That would be, in my opinion, to go
too far. It may be fraught, as earlier noted, with undesirable
consequences. I find myself therefore unable to yield assent to
such a pronouncement.

I am authorized to state that Justices Makasiar, Abad Santos,


Cuevas, and Alampay concur in this separate opinion.

Makasiar, Abad Santos, Cuevas and Alampay, JJ., concur.

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:

I concur with the main opinion of Mr. Justice Escolin and the
concurring opinion of Mme. Justice Herrera. The Rule of Law
connotes a body of norms and laws published and ascertainable
and of equal application to all similarly circumstances and not
subject to arbitrary change but only under certain set procedures.
The Court has consistently stressed that "it is an elementary rule
of fair play and justice that a reasonable opportunity to be
informed must be afforded to the people who are commanded to
obey before they can be punished for its violation, 1 citing the
settled principle based on due process enunciated in earlier cases
that "before the public is bound by its contents, especially its
penal provisions, a law, regulation or circular must first be
published and the people officially and specially informed of said
contents and its penalties.

Without official publication in the Official Gazette as required by


Article 2 of the Civil Code and the Revised Administrative Code,
there would be no basis nor justification for the corollary rule of
Article 3 of the Civil Code (based on constructive notice that the
provisions of the law are ascertainable from the public and official
repository where they are duly published) that "Ignorance of the
law excuses no one from compliance therewith.

Respondents' contention based on a misreading of Article 2 of the


Civil Code that "only laws which are silent as to their effectivity
[date] need be published in the Official Gazette for their
effectivity" is manifestly untenable. The plain text and meaning of
the Civil Code is that "laws shall take effect after fifteen days
following the completion of their publication in the Official
Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided, " i.e. a different
effectivity date is provided by the law itself. This proviso perforce
refers to a law that has been duly published pursuant to the basic
constitutional requirements of due process. The best example of
this is the Civil Code itself: the same Article 2 provides otherwise
that it "shall take effect [only] one year [not 15 days] after such
publication. 2 To sustain respondents' misreading that "most laws
or decrees specify the date of their effectivity and for this reason,
publication in the Official Gazette is not necessary for their
effectivity 3 would be to nullify and render nugatory the Civil
Code's indispensable and essential requirement of prior
publication in the Official Gazette by the simple expedient of
providing for immediate effectivity or an earlier effectivity date in
the law itself before the completion of 15 days following its
publication which is the period generally fixed by the Civil Code
for its proper dissemination.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., concurring:

I agree. There cannot be any question but that even if a decree


provides for a date of effectivity, it has to be published. What I
would like to state in connection with that proposition is that
when a date of effectivity is mentioned in the decree but the
decree becomes effective only fifteen (15) days after its
publication in the Official Gazette, it will not mean that the decree
can have retroactive effect to the date of effectivity mentioned in
the decree itself. There should be no retroactivity if the
retroactivity will run counter to constitutional rights or shall
destroy vested rights.

PLANA, J., concurring (with qualification):

The Philippine Constitution does not require the publication of


laws as a prerequisite for their effectivity, unlike some
Constitutions elsewhere. * It may be said though that the
guarantee of due process requires notice of laws to affected
parties before they can be bound thereby; but such notice is not
necessarily by publication in the Official Gazette. The due process
clause is not that precise. Neither is the publication of laws in
the Official Gazette required by any statute as a prerequisite for
their effectivity, if said laws already provide for their effectivity
date.

Article 2 of the Civil Code provides that "laws shall take effect
after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in
the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided " Two things
may be said of this provision: Firstly, it obviously does not apply
to a law with a built-in provision as to when it will take effect.
Secondly, it clearly recognizes that each law may provide not only
a different period for reckoning its effectivity date but also a
different mode of notice. Thus, a law may prescribe that it shall be
published elsewhere than in the Official Gazette.

Commonwealth Act No. 638, in my opinion, does not support the


proposition that for their effectivity, laws must be published in the
Official Gazette. The said law is simply "An Act to Provide for the
Uniform Publication and Distribution of the Official Gazette."
Conformably therewith, it authorizes the publication of the Official
Gazette, determines its frequency, provides for its sale and
distribution, and defines the authority of the Director of Printing in
relation thereto. It also enumerates what shall be published in the
Official Gazette, among them, "important legislative acts and
resolutions of a public nature of the Congress of the Philippines"
and "all executive and administrative orders and proclamations,
except such as have no general applicability." It is noteworthy
that not all legislative acts are required to be published in the
Official Gazette but only "important" ones "of a public nature."
Moreover, the said law does not provide that publication in the
Official Gazette is essential for the effectivity of laws. This is as it
should be, for all statutes are equal and stand on the same
footing. A law, especially an earlier one of general application
such as Commonwealth Act No. 638, cannot nullify or restrict the
operation of a subsequent statute that has a provision of its own
as to when and how it will take effect. Only a higher law, which is
the Constitution, can assume that role.

In fine, I concur in the majority decision to the extent that it


requires notice before laws become effective, for no person
should be bound by a law without notice. This is elementary
fairness. However, I beg to disagree insofar as it holds that such
notice shall be by publication in the Official Gazette.

Cuevas and Alampay, JJ., concur.


GUTIERREZ, Jr., J., concurring:

I concur insofar as publication is necessary but reserve my vote


as to the necessity of such publication being in the Official
Gazette.

DE LA FUENTE, J., concurring:

I concur insofar as the opinion declares the unpublished decrees


and issuances of a public nature or general applicability
ineffective, until due publication thereof.

Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, C.J., concurring (with qualification):

There is on the whole acceptance on my part of the views


expressed in the ably written opinion of Justice Escolin. I am
unable, however, to concur insofar as it would unqualifiedly
impose the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette for
unpublished "presidential issuances" to have binding force and
effect.

I shall explain why.

1. It is of course true that without the requisite publication, a due


process question would arise if made to apply adversely to a
party who is not even aware of the existence of any legislative or
executive act having the force and effect of law. My point is that
such publication required need not be confined to the Official
Gazette. From the pragmatic standpoint, there is an advantage to
be gained. It conduces to certainty. That is too be admitted. It
does not follow, however, that failure to do so would in all cases
and under all circumstances result in a statute, presidential
decree or any other executive act of the same category being
bereft of any binding force and effect. To so hold would, for me,
raise a constitutional question. Such a pronouncement would lend
itself to the interpretation that such a legislative or presidential
act is bereft of the attribute of effectivity unless published in the
Official Gazette. There is no such requirement in the Constitution
as Justice Plana so aptly pointed out. It is true that what is
decided now applies only to past "presidential issuances".
Nonetheless, this clarification is, to my mind, needed to avoid any
possible misconception as to what is required for any statute or
presidential act to be impressed with binding force or effectivity.

2. It is quite understandable then why I concur in the separate


opinion of Justice Plana. Its first paragraph sets forth what to me
is the constitutional doctrine applicable to this case. Thus: "The
Philippine Constitution does not require the publication of laws as
a prerequisite for their effectivity, unlike some Constitutions
elsewhere. It may be said though that the guarantee of due
process requires notice of laws to affected Parties before they can
be bound thereby; but such notice is not necessarily by
publication in the Official Gazette. The due process clause is not
that precise. 1 I am likewise in agreement with its closing
paragraph: "In fine, I concur in the majority decision to the extent
that it requires notice before laws become effective, for no person
should be bound by a law without notice. This is elementary
fairness. However, I beg to disagree insofar as it holds that such
notice shall be by publication in the Official Gazette. 2

3. It suffices, as was stated by Judge Learned Hand, that law as


the command of the government "must be ascertainable in some
form if it is to be enforced at all. 3 It would indeed be to reduce it
to the level of mere futility, as pointed out by Justice Cardozo, "if
it is unknown and unknowable. 4 Publication, to repeat, is thus
essential. What I am not prepared to subscribe to is the doctrine
that it must be in the Official Gazette. To be sure once published
therein there is the ascertainable mode of determining the exact
date of its effectivity. Still for me that does not dispose of the
question of what is the jural effect of past presidential decrees or
executive acts not so published. For prior thereto, it could be that
parties aware of their existence could have conducted themselves
in accordance with their provisions. If no legal consequences
could attach due to lack of publication in the Official Gazette, then
serious problems could arise. Previous transactions based on such
"Presidential Issuances" could be open to question. Matters
deemed settled could still be inquired into. I am not prepared to
hold that such an effect is contemplated by our decision. Where
such presidential decree or executive act is made the basis of a
criminal prosecution, then, of course, its ex post facto character
becomes evident. 5 In civil cases though, retroactivity as such is
not conclusive on the due process aspect. There must still be a
showing of arbitrariness. Moreover, where the challenged
presidential decree or executive act was issued under the police
power, the non-impairment clause of the Constitution may not
always be successfully invoked. There must still be that process of
balancing to determine whether or not it could in such a case be
tainted by infirmity. 6 In traditional terminology, there could arise
then a question of unconstitutional application. That is as far as it
goes.

4. Let me make therefore that my qualified concurrence goes no


further than to affirm that publication is essential to the effectivity
of a legislative or executive act of a general application. I am not
in agreement with the view that such publication must be in the
Official Gazette. The Civil Code itself in its Article 2 expressly
recognizes that the rule as to laws taking effect after fifteen days
following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette
is subject to this exception, "unless it is otherwise provided."
Moreover, the Civil Code is itself only a legislative enactment,
Republic Act No. 386. It does not and cannot have the juridical
force of a constitutional command. A later legislative or executive
act which has the force and effect of law can legally provide for a
different rule.

5. Nor can I agree with the rather sweeping conclusion in the


opinion of Justice Escolin that presidential decrees and executive
acts not thus previously published in the Official Gazette would be
devoid of any legal character. That would be, in my opinion, to go
too far. It may be fraught, as earlier noted, with undesirable
consequences. I find myself therefore unable to yield assent to
such a pronouncement.

I am authorized to state that Justices Makasiar, Abad Santos,


Cuevas, and Alampay concur in this separate opinion.

Makasiar, Abad Santos, Cuevas and Alampay, JJ., concur.

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:

I concur with the main opinion of Mr. Justice Escolin and the
concurring opinion of Mme. Justice Herrera. The Rule of Law
connotes a body of norms and laws published and ascertainable
and of equal application to all similarly circumstances and not
subject to arbitrary change but only under certain set procedures.
The Court has consistently stressed that "it is an elementary rule
of fair play and justice that a reasonable opportunity to be
informed must be afforded to the people who are commanded to
obey before they can be punished for its violation, 1 citing the
settled principle based on due process enunciated in earlier cases
that "before the public is bound by its contents, especially its
penal provisions, a law, regulation or circular must first be
published and the people officially and specially informed of said
contents and its penalties.

Without official publication in the Official Gazette as required by


Article 2 of the Civil Code and the Revised Administrative Code,
there would be no basis nor justification for the corollary rule of
Article 3 of the Civil Code (based on constructive notice that the
provisions of the law are ascertainable from the public and official
repository where they are duly published) that "Ignorance of the
law excuses no one from compliance therewith.

Respondents' contention based on a misreading of Article 2 of the


Civil Code that "only laws which are silent as to their effectivity
[date] need be published in the Official Gazette for their
effectivity" is manifestly untenable. The plain text and meaning of
the Civil Code is that "laws shall take effect after fifteen days
following the completion of their publication in the Official
Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided, " i.e. a different
effectivity date is provided by the law itself. This proviso perforce
refers to a law that has been duly published pursuant to the basic
constitutional requirements of due process. The best example of
this is the Civil Code itself: the same Article 2 provides otherwise
that it "shall take effect [only] one year [not 15 days] after such
publication. 2 To sustain respondents' misreading that "most laws
or decrees specify the date of their effectivity and for this reason,
publication in the Official Gazette is not necessary for their
effectivity 3 would be to nullify and render nugatory the Civil
Code's indispensable and essential requirement of prior
publication in the Official Gazette by the simple expedient of
providing for immediate effectivity or an earlier effectivity date in
the law itself before the completion of 15 days following its
publication which is the period generally fixed by the Civil Code
for its proper dissemination.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., concurring:

I agree. There cannot be any question but that even if a decree


provides for a date of effectivity, it has to be published. What I
would like to state in connection with that proposition is that
when a date of effectivity is mentioned in the decree but the
decree becomes effective only fifteen (15) days after its
publication in the Official Gazette, it will not mean that the decree
can have retroactive effect to the date of effectivity mentioned in
the decree itself. There should be no retroactivity if the
retroactivity will run counter to constitutional rights or shall
destroy vested rights.

PLANA, J., concurring (with qualification):

The Philippine Constitution does not require the publication of


laws as a prerequisite for their effectivity, unlike some
Constitutions elsewhere. * It may be said though that the
guarantee of due process requires notice of laws to affected
parties before they can be bound thereby; but such notice is not
necessarily by publication in the Official Gazette. The due process
clause is not that precise. Neither is the publication of laws in
the Official Gazette required by any statute as a prerequisite for
their effectivity, if said laws already provide for their effectivity
date.

Article 2 of the Civil Code provides that "laws shall take effect
after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in
the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise provided " Two things
may be said of this provision: Firstly, it obviously does not apply
to a law with a built-in provision as to when it will take effect.
Secondly, it clearly recognizes that each law may provide not only
a different period for reckoning its effectivity date but also a
different mode of notice. Thus, a law may prescribe that it shall be
published elsewhere than in the Official Gazette.

Commonwealth Act No. 638, in my opinion, does not support the


proposition that for their effectivity, laws must be published in the
Official Gazette. The said law is simply "An Act to Provide for the
Uniform Publication and Distribution of the Official Gazette."
Conformably therewith, it authorizes the publication of the Official
Gazette, determines its frequency, provides for its sale and
distribution, and defines the authority of the Director of Printing in
relation thereto. It also enumerates what shall be published in the
Official Gazette, among them, "important legislative acts and
resolutions of a public nature of the Congress of the Philippines"
and "all executive and administrative orders and proclamations,
except such as have no general applicability." It is noteworthy
that not all legislative acts are required to be published in the
Official Gazette but only "important" ones "of a public nature."
Moreover, the said law does not provide that publication in the
Official Gazette is essential for the effectivity of laws. This is as it
should be, for all statutes are equal and stand on the same
footing. A law, especially an earlier one of general application
such as Commonwealth Act No. 638, cannot nullify or restrict the
operation of a subsequent statute that has a provision of its own
as to when and how it will take effect. Only a higher law, which is
the Constitution, can assume that role.

In fine, I concur in the majority decision to the extent that it


requires notice before laws become effective, for no person
should be bound by a law without notice. This is elementary
fairness. However, I beg to disagree insofar as it holds that such
notice shall be by publication in the Official Gazette.

Cuevas and Alampay, JJ., concur.

GUTIERREZ, Jr., J., concurring:

I concur insofar as publication is necessary but reserve my vote


as to the necessity of such publication being in the Official
Gazette.

DE LA FUENTE, J., concurring:

I concur insofar as the opinion declares the unpublished decrees


and issuances of a public nature or general applicability
ineffective, until due publication thereof.
Footnotes

1 Section 6. The right of the people to information on


matters of public concern shag be recognized, access to
official records, and to documents and papers
pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions,
shag be afforded the citizens subject to such limitation
as may be provided by law.

2 Anti-Chinese League vs. Felix, 77 Phil. 1012; Costas


vs. Aidanese, 45 Phil. 345; Almario vs. City Mayor, 16
SCRA 151;Parting vs. San Jose Petroleum, 18 SCRA 924;
Dumlao vs. Comelec, 95 SCRA 392.

3 16 Phil. 366, 378.

4 Camacho vs. Court of Industrial Relations, 80 Phil 848;


Mejia vs. Balolong, 81 Phil. 486; Republic of the
Philippines vs. Encamacion, 87 Phil. 843; Philippine
Blooming Mills, Inc. vs. Social Security System, 17 SCRA
1077; Askay vs. Cosalan, 46 Phil. 179.

5 1 Manresa, Codigo Civil 7th Ed., p. 146.

6 People vs. Que Po Lay, 94 Phil. 640; Balbuena et al.


vs. Secretary of Education, et al., 110 Phil. 150.

7 82 SCRA 30, dissenting opinion.

8 308 U.S. 371, 374.

9 93 Phil.. 68,.

10 The report was prepared by the Clerk of Court after


Acting Director Florendo S. Pablo Jr. of the Government
Printing Office, failed to respond to her letter-request
regarding the respective dates of publication in the
Official Gazette of the presidential issuances listed
therein. No report has been submitted by the Clerk of
Court as to the publication or non-publication of other
presidential issuances.

11 129 SCRA 174.

Fernando, CJ.:

1 Separate Opinion of Justice Plana, first paragraph. He


mentioned in tills connection Article 7, Sec. 21 of the
Wisconsin Constitution and State ex rel. White v. Grand
Superior Ct., 71 ALR 1354, citing the Constitution of
Indiana, U.S.A

2 Ibid, closing paragraph.

3 Learned Hand, The Spirit of Liberty 104 (1960).

4 Cardozo, The Growth of the Law, 3 (1924).

5 Cf. Nunez v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 50581-50617,


January 30, 1982, 111 SCRA 433.

6 Cf. Alalayan v. National Power Corporation, L-24396,


July 29, 1968, 24 SCRA 172.

Teehankee, J.:

1 People vs. de Dios, G.R. No. 11003, Aug. 3l, 1959, per
the late Chief Justice Paras.

2 Notes in brackets supplied.

3 Respondents: comment, pp. 14-15.

Plana, J.:

* See e.g., Wisconsin Constitution, Art. 7, Sec. 21: "The


legislature shall provide publication of all statute laws ...
and no general law shall be in force until published."
See also S ate ex rel. White vs. Grand Superior Ct., 71
ALR 1354, citing Constitution of Indiana, U.S.A.

Case Digest
FACTS:

Invoking the right of the people to be informed on matters of


public concern as well as the principle that laws to be valid and
enforceable must be published in the Official Gazette, petitioners
filed for writ of mandamus to compel respondent public officials to
publish and/or cause to publish various presidential decrees,
letters of instructions, general orders, proclamations, executive
orders, letters of implementations and administrative orders.

The Solicitor General, representing the respondents, moved for


the dismissal of the case, contending that petitioners have no
legal personality to bring the instant petition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not publication in the Official Gazette is required


before any law or statute becomes valid and enforceable.

RULING:

Art. 2 of the Civil Code does not preclude the requirement of


publication in the Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides
for the date of its effectivity. The clear object of this provision is to
give the general public adequate notice of the various laws which
are to regulate their actions and conduct as citizens. Without such
notice and publication, there would be no basis for the application
of the maxim ignoratia legis nominem excusat. It would be the
height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the
transgression of a law which he had no notice whatsoever, not
even a constructive one.

The very first clause of Section 1 of CA 638 reads: there shall be


published in the Official Gazette. The word shall therein
imposes upon respondent officials an imperative duty. That duty
must be enforced if the constitutional right of the people to be
informed on matter of public concern is to be given substance and
validity.

The publication of presidential issuances of public nature or of


general applicability is a requirement of due process. It is a rule of
law that before a person may be bound by law, he must first be
officially and specifically informed of its contents. The Court
declared that presidential issuances of general application which
have not been published have no force and effect.

7
G.R. No. L-23326 December 18, 1965

PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION, INC., JOSE E.


ROMERO, SALVADOR ARANETA, GUILLERMO B. GUEVARA,
PIO PEDROSA, CONRADO BENITEZ, JOSE M. ARUEGO,
SOTERO H. LAUREL, FELIXBERTO M. SERRANO, and ROMAN
OZAETA, petitioners,
vs.
PEDRO M. GIMENEZ, JOSE VELASCO, ELADIO SALITA and
JOSE AVILES, respondents.

Roman Ozaeta, Guillermo B. Guevara, Jose M. Aruego,


Sotero H. Laurel and Felixberto M. Serrano for themselves
and for other petitioners.
Office of the Solicitor General for respondents.

REGALA, J.:

We are called upon in this case to decide the grave and


fundamental problem of the constitutionality of Republic Act No.
3836 "insofar as the same allows retirement gratuity and
commutation of vacation and sick leave to Senators and
Representatives, and to the elective officials of both houses (of
Congress)." The suit was instituted by the Philippine Constitution
Association, Inc. (Philconsa, for short), a non-profit civic
organization, duly incorporated under Philippine laws, by way of a
petition for prohibition with preliminary injunction to restrain the
Auditor General of the Philippines and the disbursing officers of
both Houses of Congress from "passing in audit the vouchers, and
from countersigning the checks or treasury warrants for the
payment to any former Senator or former Member of the House of
Representatives of retirement and vacation gratuities pursuant to
Republic Act No. 3836; and likewise restraining the respondent
disbursing officers of the House and Senate, respectively, and
their successors in office from paying the said retirement and
vacation gratuities."
It is argued that the above-numbered Republic Act, at least to the
end that it provided for the retirement of the members of
Congress in the manner and terms that it did, is unconstitutional
and void. The challenge to the constitutionality of the law is
centered on the following propositions:

1. The provision for the retirement of the members and


certain officers of Congress is not expressed in the title of
the bill, in violation of section 21 (1) of Article VI of the
Constitution.

2. The provision on retirement gratuity is an attempt to


circumvent the Constitutional ban on increase of salaries of
the members of Congress during their term of office,
contrary to the provisions of Article VI, Section 14 of the
Constitution.

3. The same provision constitutes "selfish class legislation"


because it allows members and officers of Congress to retire
after twelve (12) years of service and gives them a gratuity
equivalent to one year salary for every four years of service,
which is not refundable in case of reinstatement or re-
election of the retiree, while all other officers and employees
of the government can retire only after at least twenty (20)
years of service and are given a gratuity which is only
equivalent to one month salary for every year of service,
which, in any case, cannot exceed 24 months.

4. The provision on vacation and sick leave, commutable at


the highest rate received, insofar as members of Congress
are concerned, is another attempt of the legislators to
further increase their compensation in violation of the
Constitution.

The text of Republic Act No. 3836

The text of Republic Act No. 3836 reads:

AN ACT AMENDING SUBSECTION (c), SECTION TWELVE OF


COMMONWEALTH ACT NUMBERED ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY-
SIX, AS AMENDED BY REPUBLIC ACT NUMBERED THIRTY
HUNDRED NINETY-SIX:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of


the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Subsection (c), Section twelve of Commonwealth


Act Numbered One Hundred eighty-six, as amended by
Republic Act Numbered Thirty hundred ninety-six, is further
amended to read as follows:

"(c) Retirement is likewise allowed to a member, regardless


of age, who has rendered at least twenty years of service.
The benefit shall, in addition to the return of his personal
contributions plus interest and the payment of the
corresponding employer's premiums described in subsection
(a) of Section five hereof, without interest, be only a gratuity
equivalent to one month's salary for every year of service,
based on the highest rate received, but not to exceed
twenty-four months: Provided, That the retiring officer or
employee has been in the service of the said employer or
office for at least four years immediately preceding his
retirement.

"Retirement is also allowed to a senator or a member of the


House of Representatives and to an elective officer of either
House of the Congress, regardless of age, provided that in
the case of a Senator or Member, he must have served at
least twelve years as a Senator and/or as a member of the
House of Representatives, and, in the case of an elective
officer of either House, he must have served the government
for at least twelve years, not less than four years of which
must have been rendered as such elective officer: Provided,
That the gratuity payable to a retiring senator, member of
the House of Representatives, or elective officer, of either
House, shall be equivalent to one year's salary for every four
years of service in the government and the same shall be
exempt from any tax whatsoever and shall be neither liable
to attachment or execution nor refundable in case of
reinstatement or re-election of the retiree.
"This gratuity is payable by the employer or office concerned
which is hereby authorized to provide the necessary
appropriation or pay the same from any unexpended items
of appropriations or savings in its appropriations or saving in
its appropriations.

"Elective or appointive officials and employees paid gratuity


under this subsection shall be entitled to the commutation of
the unused vacation and sick leave, based on the highest
rate received, which they may have to their credit at the
time of retirement."

SECTION 2. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

Approved, June 22, 1963.

The Solicitor General's Office, in representation of the respondent,


filed its answer on September 8, 1964, and contends, by way of
special and affirmative defenses that:

1. The grant of retirement or pension benefits under Republic


Act No. 3836 to the officers objected to by the petitioner
does not constitute "forbidden compensation" within the
meaning of Section 14 of Article VI of the Philippine
Constitution.

2. The title of the law in question sufficiently complies with


the provisions of Section 21, Article VI, of the Constitution
that "no bill which may be enacted into law shall embrace
more than one subject which shall be expressed in the title
of the bill.

3. The law in question does not constitute legislation.

4. Certain indispensable parties, specifically the elected


officers of Congress who are authorized to approve vouchers
for payments for funds under the law in question, and the
claimants to the vouchers to be presented for payment
under said items, were not included in the petition.

5. The petitioner has no standing to institute this suit.


6. The payment of commutable vacation and sick leave
benefits under the said Act is merely "in the nature of a basis
for computing the gratuity due each retiring member" and,
therefore, is not an indirect scheme to increase their salary.

A brief historical background of Republic Act No. 3836

Republic Act No. 3836 was originally House Bill No. 6051, which
was introduced by Congressmen Marcial R. Pimentel of Camarines
Norte and Marcelino R. Veloso of the Third District of Leyte, on
May 6, 1963. On the same date, it was referred to the Committee
on Civil Service. which on the following May 8, submitted its
REPORT No. 3129, recommending approval of the bill with
amendments, among others, that the word "TWENTY" in the bill
as filed representing the number of years that a senator or
member must serve in Congress to entitle him to retirement
under the bill must be reduced to "TWELVE" years, and that the
following words were inserted, namely, "AND THE SAME (referring
to gratuity) SHALL BE EXEMPT FROM ANY TAX WHATSOEVER AND
SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FROM ATTACHMENT OR EXECUTION NOR
REFUNDABLE IN CASE OF REINSTATEMENT OR REELECTION OF
THE RETIREE." On May 8, 1963, the bill with the proposed
amendments was approved on second reading. It was passed on
third reading on May 13, 1963, and on the same day was sent to
the Senate, which, in turn, on May 23, 1963, passed it without
amendment. The bill was finally approved on June 22, 1963. As
explained in the EXPLANATORY NOTE attached to the bill, among
others

The inclusion of members of Congress in subsection (c),


Section 12 of C.A. 186, as amended, will enable them to
retire voluntarily, regardless of age, after serving a minimum
of twenty years as a Member of Congress. This gratuity will
insure the security of the family of the retiring member of
Congress with the latter engaging in other activities which
may detract from his exalted position and usefulness as
lawmaker. It is expected that with this assurance of security
for his loved ones, deserving and well-intentioned but poor
men will be attracted to serve their people in Congress.
As finally approved, the law (Subsection [c], paragraph 2, Section
1, R.A. 3836) allows a Senator or a Member of the House of
Representatives and an elective officer of either House of
Congress to retire regardless of age. To be eligible for retirement,
he must have served for at least twelve years as such Senator
and/or as member of the House of Representatives. For an
elective officer of either House, he must have served the
government for at least twelve years, of which not less than four
years must have been rendered as such elective officer. The
gratuity payable by the employer or office concerned is
equivalent to one year's salary for every four years of service in
the government. Said gratuity is exempt from taxation, not liable
to attachment or execution, and not refundable in case of
reinstatement or re-election of the retiree.

First legal point personality of the Petitioner to bring suit.

The first point to be considered is whether petitioner Philconsa


has a standing to institute this action. This Court has not
hesitated to examine past decisions involving this matter. This
Court has repeatedly held that when the petitioner, like in this
case, is composed of substantial taxpayers, and the outcome will
affect their vital interests, they are allowed to bring this suit.
(Pascual v. Secretary, G.R. No. L-10405, December 29, 1960; and
Gonzales v. Hechanova, 60 Off. Gaz. 802 [1963]).

The petitioner, Philconsa, is precisely a non-profit, civic


organization composed of several leaders from all walks of life
whose main objective is to uphold the principles of the
Constitution.

In rejecting the motion to dismiss in the case of Pascual v.


Secretary, supra, this Court stated, among other things, that
"there are many decisions nullifying, at the instance of the
taxpayers, laws providing the disbursement of public funds, upon
the theory that the expenditure of public funds by an officer of the
State for the purpose of administering an unconstitutional act
constitutes a misappropriation of such funds, which may be
enjoined at the request of the taxpayers." 1 This legislation
(Republic Act 3836) involves the disbursement of public funds.
We are not, however, unmindful of the ruling laid down by the
Supreme Court of the United States in the case ofMassachusetts
v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, holding that:

... the relation of a taxpayer of the United States to the


Federal Government is very different. His interest in the
moneys of the Treasury partly realized from taxation and
partly from other sources is shared with millions of others;
is comparatively minute and indeterminable; and the effect
upon future taxation of any payment out of the funds, so
remote, fluctuating and uncertain, that no basis is afforded
for an appeal to the preventive powers of equity.

The general view in the United States, which is followed here, is


stated in the American Jurisprudence, thus

In the determination of the degree of interest essential to


give the requisite standing to attack the constitutionality of a
statute the general rule is that not only persons individually
affected, but also taxpayers have sufficient interest in
preventing the illegal expenditure of moneys raised by
taxation and may therefore question the constitutionality of
statutes requiring expenditure of public moneys. (11 Am. Jur.
761; emphasis supplied.)

As far as the first point is concerned, We hold, therefore, that the


contention of the Solicitor General is untenable.

Second legal point Whether or not Republic Act No. 3836 falls
within the prohibition embodied in Art. VI, section 14 of the
Constitution.

The first constitutional question is whether Republic Act 3836


violates Section 14, Article VI, of the Constitution, which reads as
follows:

The senators and the Members of the House of


Representatives shall, unless otherwise provided by law,
receive an annual compensation of seven thousand two
hundred pesos each, including per diems andother
emoluments or allowances, and exclusive only of travelling
expenses to and from their respective districts in the case of
Members of the House of Representative and to and from
their places of residence in the case of Senators, when
attending sessions of the Congress. No increase in said
compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of
the full term of all the Members of the Senate and of the
House of Representatives approving such increase. Until
otherwise provided by law, the President of the Senate and
the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall each
receive an annual compensation of sixteen thousand pesos
(emphasis supplied)

Before discussing this point, it is worthy to note that the


Constitution embodies some limitations and prohibitions upon the
members of Congress, to wit:

1. They may not hold any other office or employment in the


Government without forfeiting their respective seats;

2. They shall not be appointed, during the time for which


they are elected, to any civil office which may have been
created or the emoluments whereof shall have been
increased while they were members of Congress; (Section
16, Article VI, Constitution)

3. They cannot be financially interested in any franchise;

4. They cannot appear in any civil case wherein the


Government is an adverse party;

5. They cannot appear as counsel before any Electoral


Tribunal; and

6. They cannot appear as counsel in any criminal case where


an officer or employee of the Government is accused.
(Section 17, Article VI, Constitution)

In addition to the above prohibitions, the Anti-Graft Law (Republic


Act 3019) also prohibits members of Congress to have any special
interest in any specific business which will directly or indirectly be
favored by any law or resolution authored by them during their
term of office.

It is thus clear that the Constitutional Convention wisely


surrounded the Constitution with these limitations and
prohibitions upon Members of Congress. This is a practical
demonstration or application of the principle of the and balances
which is one of the peculiar characteristics of our Constitution. In
the light of this background, can We conclude that Congress can
validly enact Republic Act 3836, providing retirement benefits to
its members, without violating the provisions in the
aforementioned Article VI, Section 14, of the Constitution,
regarding increase of the compensation act including other
emoluments?

It is worthy to note that the original salary for the members of the
National Assembly (unicameral body) was fixed at P5,000.00 per
annum each. This was raised to P7,200 per annum by the
enactment of the 1940 Constitutional amendment, when the
unicameral body, the National Assembly, was changed to
Congress, composed of two bodies, the Senate and the House of
Representatives. Again, in 1964, by the enactment of Republic Act
4143, the salary for the Members of Congress was raised to
P32,000.00 per annum for each of them; and for the President of
the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to
P40,000.00 per annum each.

Likewise, it is significant that, as stated above, when the


Constitutional Convention first determined the compensation for
the Members of Congress, the amount fixed by it was only
P5,000.00 per annum, but it embodies a special proviso which
reads as follows: "No increase in said compensation shall take
effect until after the expiration of the full term of all the members
of the National Assembly elected subsequent to approval of such
increase." In other words, under the original constitutional
provision regarding the power of the National Assembly to
increase the salaries of its members, no increase would take
effect until after the expiration of the full term of the members of
the Assembly elected subsequent to the approval of such
increase. (See Aruego, The Framing of the Constitution, Vol. 1, pp.
296-300; Sinco, Philippine Government and Political Law, 4th ed.,
p. 187)

This goes to show how zealous were the members of the


Constitutional Convention in guarding against the temptation for
members of Congress to increase their salaries. However, the
original strict prohibition was modified by the subsequent
provision when the Constitutional amendments were approved in
19402

The Constitutional provision in the aforementioned Section 14,


Article VI, includes in the term compensation "other emoluments."
This is the pivotal point on this fundamental question as to
whether the retirement benefits as provided for in Republic Act
3836 fall within the purview of the term "other emoluments."

Most of the authorities and decided cases have regarded


"emolument" as "the profit arising from office or employment;
that which is received as compensation for services or which is
annexed to the possession of an office, as salary, fees and
perquisites.3

In another set of cases, "emolument" has been defined as "the


profit arising from office or employment; that which is received as
compensation for services, or which is annexed to the possession
of office, as salary, fees and perquisites; advantage, gain, public
or private." The gain, profit or advantage which is contemplated
in the definition or significance of the word "emolument" as
applied to public officers, clearly comprehends, We think, a gain,
profit, or advantage which is pecuniary in character. (citing
Taxpayers' League of Cargon County v. McPherson, 54 P. 2d. 897,
90l.: 49 Wy. 26; 106 A.L.R. 767)

In Schieffelin v. Berry, 216 N.Y.S. (citing Wright v. Craig, 202 App.


Div. 684, 195 N.Y.S. 391, affirmed 234 N.Y. 548, 138 N.E. 441), it
has been established that pensions and retirement allowances
are part of compensation of public officials; otherwise their
payment would be unconstitutional.
In another case, State v. Schmahl, 145 N.W. 795, 125 Minn. 104, it
is stated that "as used in Article 4, section 9, of the Constitution of
Minnesota, providing that no Senator or Representative shall hold
any office, the emoluments of which have been increased during
the session of the Legislature of which he was a member, until
after the expiration of his term of office in the Legislature, the
word "emoluments" does not refer to the fixed salary alone, but
includes fees and compensation as the incumbent of the office is
by law entitled to receive because he holds such office and
performed some service required of the occupant thereof."

From the decisions of these cases, it is evident that retirement


benefit is a form or another species of emolument, because it is a
part of compensation for services of one possessing any office.

Republic Act No. 3836 provides for an increase in the emoluments


of Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, to take
effect upon the approval of said Act, which was on June 22, 1963.
Retirement benefits were immediately available thereunder,
without awaiting the expiration of the full term of all the Members
of the Senate and the House of Representatives approving such
increase. Such provision clearly runs counter to the prohibition in
Article VI, Section 14 of the Constitution.

Third Legal Point Whether or not the law in question violates


the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Another reason in support of the conclusion reached herein is that


the features of said Republic Act 3836 are patently discriminatory,
and therefore violate the equal protection clause of the
Constitution. (Art. III, Sec. 1, part. 1.)

In the first place, while the said law grants retirement benefits to
Senators and Members of the House of Representatives who are
elective officials, it does not include other elective officials such
as the governors of provinces and the members of the provincial
boards, and the elective officials of the municipalities and
chartered cities.
The principle of equal protection of law embodied in our
Constitution has been fully explained by Us in the case ofPeople
v. Vera, 65 Phil. 56, 126, where We stated that the classification to
be reasonable must be based upon substantial distinctions which
make real differences and must be germane to the purposes of
the law.

As well stated by Willoughby on the Constitution of the United


States (second edition), p. 1937, the principle of the requirement
of equal protection of law applies to all persons similarly situated.
Why limit the application of the benefits of Republic Act 3836 to
the elected members of Congress? We feel that the classification
here is not reasonable. (See also Sinco, Philippine Political Law,
11th ed. [1962]; Selected Essays on Constitutional Law [1938-62],
p. 789; The Equal Protection of the Laws, 37 Cal. Law Rev. 341.)

Secondly, all members of Congress under Republic Act 3836 are


given retirement benefits after serving twelve years, not
necessarily continuous, whereas, most government officers and
employees are given retirement benefits after serving for at least
twenty years. In fact, the original bill of Act 3836 provided for
twenty years of service.

In the third place, all government officers and employees are


given only one retirement benefit irrespective of their length of
service in the government, whereas, under Republic Act 3836,
because of no age limitation, a Senator or Member of the House
of Representatives upon being elected for 24 years will be entitled
to two retirement benefits or equivalent to six years' salary.

Also, while the payment of retirement benefits (annuity) to an


employee who had been retired and reappointed is suspended
during his new employment (under Commonwealth Act 186, as
amended), this is not so under Republic Act 3836.

Lastly, it is peculiar that Republic Act 3836 grants retirement


benefits to officials who are not members of the Government
Service Insurance System. Most grantees of retirement benefits
under the various retirement laws have to be members or must at
least contribute a portion of their monthly salaries to the System. 4
The arguments advanced against the discriminatory features of
Republic Act 3836, as far as Members of Congress are concerned,
apply with equal force to the elected officers of each House, such
as the Secretaries and the Sergeants-at-arms. Under Republic Act
3836, the Secretaries and Sergeants-at-arms of each House are
given the benefits of retirement without having served for twenty
years as required with other officers and employees of the
Government.

Fourth Legal Point Whether or not the title of Republic Act No.
3836 is germane to the subject matter expressed in the act.

Another Constitutional point to determine is whether the title of


Republic Act 3836 complies with the requirement of paragraph 1,
section 21, Article VI of the Constitution, which reads as follows:

No bill which may be enacted into law shall embrace more


than one subject which shall be expressed in the title of the
bill.

We are not unmindful of the fact that there has been a general
disposition in all courts to construe the constitutional provision
with reference to the subject and title of the Act, liberally.

It is the contention of petitioner that the said title of Republic Act


3836 gives no inkling or notice whatsoever to the public regarding
the retirement gratuities and commutable vacation and sick leave
privileges to members of Congress. It is claimed that petitioner
learned of this law for the first time only when Jose Velasco,
disbursing officer of the House, testified on January 30, 1964,
before Justice Labrador, in connection with the hearing of the
case, and he revealed that in 1963, Congress enacted the
retirement law for its members. In fact the Appropriation Act for
the fiscal year 1964-65, Republic Act No. 4164, provides:

13. For payment of retirement gratuities of members of the


Senate pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 3836:
PROVIDED, That no portion of this Appropriation shall be
transferred to any other item until all approved claims shall
have been paid P210,000.00.
In the appropriations for the House of Representatives the
following items appear:

7. For government share of premiums on life insurance and


retirement of Members and employees of the House of
Representatives, as provided for under Republic Act No. 1616
P300,000.00

8. For payment of the cash commutation of the accumulated


vacation and sick leaves as provided for under Republic Act
No. 611, and retirement gratuities of Members and
employees of the House of Representatives under Republic
Act No. 1616 P1,300,000.00.

In the Appropriations Act of 1965-1966 (Republic Act No. 4642),


the following item appears in the appropriations for the Senate:

13. For payment of retirement gratuities of Senate personnel


pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 1616:
PROVIDED, That no portion of this appropriation shall be
transferred to any other item until all approved claims shall
have been paid P100,000.00.

It is thus clear that in the Appropriations Act for 1965-1966, the


item in the Senate for P210,000.00 to implement Republic Act
3836 was eliminated.

In the appropriations for the House (1965-1966), the following


items appear:

7. For government share of premiums on life insurance and


retirement of Members and employees of the House Of
Representatives as provided for under Republic Act No. 1616
P1,200,000.00.

8. For payment of the cash commutation of the accumulated


vacation and sick leaves as provided for under Republic Act
No. 611, and retirement gratuities of Members and
employees of the House of Representatives under Republic
Act No. 1616 P1,700,000.00.
It is to be observed that under Republic Act 3836, amending the
first paragraph of section 12, subsection (c) of Commonwealth Act
186, as amended by Republic Acts Nos. 660 and. 3096, the
retirement benefits are granted to members of the Government
Service Insurance System, who have rendered at least twenty
years of service regardless of age. This paragraph is related and
germane to the subject of Commonwealth Act No. 186.

On the other hand, the succeeding paragraph of Republic Act


3836 refers to members of Congress and to elective officers
thereof who are not members of the Government Service
Insurance System. To provide retirement benefits, therefore, for
these officials, would relate to subject matter which is not
germane to Commonwealth Act No. 186. In other words, this
portion of the amendment (re retirement benefits for Members of
Congress and elected officers, such as the Secretary and
Sergeants-at-arms for each House) is not related in any manner to
the subject of Commonwealth Act 186 establishing the
Government Service Insurance System and which provides for
both retirement and insurance benefits to its members.

Parenthetically, it may be added that the purpose of the


requirement that the subject of an Act should be expressed in its
title is fully explained by Cooley, thus: (1) to prevent surprise or
fraud upon the Legislature; and (2) to fairly apprise the people,
through such publication of legislation that are being considered,
in order that they may have the opportunity of being heard
thereon by petition or otherwise, if they shall so desire (Cooley,
Constitutional Limitations, 8th ed., Vol. 1, p. 162; See also Martin,
Political Law Reviewer, Book One [1965], p. 119)

With respect to sufficiency of title this Court has ruled in two


cases:

The Constitutional requirement with respect to titles of


statutes as sufficient to reflect their contents is satisfied if all
parts of a law relate to the subject expressed in its title, and
it is not necessary that the title be a complete index of the
content. (People v. Carlos, 78 Phil. 535)
The Constitutional requirement that the subject of an act
shall be expressed in its title should be reasonably construed
so as not to interfere unduly with the enactment of
necessary legislation. It should be given a practical, rather
than technical, construction. It should be a sufficient
compliance with such requirement if the title expresses the
general subject and all the provisions of the statute are
germane to that general subject. (Sumulong v. The
Commission on Elections, 73 Phil. 288, 291)

The requirement that the subject of an act shall be expressed in


its title is wholly illustrated and explained inCentral Capiz v.
Ramirez, 40 Phil. 883. In this case, the question raised was
whether Commonwealth Act 2784, known as the Public Land Act,
was limited in its application to lands of the public domain or
whether its provisions also extended to agricultural lands held in
private ownership. The Court held that the act was limited to
lands of the public domain as indicated in its title, and did not
include private agricultural lands. The Court further stated that
this provision of the Constitution expressing the subject matter of
an Act in its title is not a mere rule of legislative
procedure, directory to Congress, but it is mandatory. It is the
duty of the Court to declare void any statute not conforming to
this constitutional provision. (See Walker v. State, 49 Alabama
329; Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, pp. 162-164; 5 See also
Agcaoili v. Suguitan, 48 Phil. 676; Sutherland on Statutory
Construction, Sec. 111.)

In the light of the history and analysis of Republic Act 3836, We


conclude that the title of said Republic Act 3836 is void as it is not
germane to the subject matter and is a violation of the
aforementioned paragraph 1, section 21, Article VI of the
Constitution.

In short, Republic Act 3836 violates three constitutional


provisions, namely: first, the prohibition regarding increase in the
salaries of Members of Congress; second, the equal protection
clause; and third, the prohibition that the title of a bill shall not
embrace more than one subject.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, Republic Act No.
3836 is hereby declared null and void, in so far as it refers to the
retirement of Members of Congress and the elected officials
thereof, as being unconstitutional. The restraining order issued in
our resolution on December 6, 1965 is hereby made permanent.
No costs.

Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon,


Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P. and Zaldivar, JJ.,concur.

Barrera, J., took no part.

Footnotes
1
Kubbs v. Thompson, 56 N.E. 2d 761; Reid v. Smith, 375 Ill.
147, 30 N.E. 2d 908; Fergus v. Russel, 270 Ill. 304, 110 N.E.
130; Burke v. Snively, 208 111. 328; Jones v. Connel, 266 Ill.
443, 107 N.E. 731; Dudick v. Baumann, 349 111. 46, 181 N.E
690.
2
Aruego, Know Your Constitution, p. 58.

3 Reals v. Smith, 56 P. 690, 8 Wy. 159; Apple v. Crawford


Country, 105 Pa. 300, 51 Am. Rep. 205; 14 Skly. Notes
Cas. 322, 41 Leg. Int. 322; Vansant v. State, 53 A. 711,
714, 6 Md. 110; Town of Bruce v. Dickey, 6 N.E. 435.
4
In the case of Justices of the Supreme Court, Justices of the
Court of Appeals, Judges of courts of record-all contribute a
certain amount to the GSIS, although under a different plan
of premiums from other members (See R.A. 910, as
amended by R.A. Nos. 1057 and 2614).

In the case of the Armed Forces, officers and enlisted


men are also members of the System but their
retirement benefits are provided for under R.A. 340.
However, the Auditor General and the Chairman and
Members of the Commission on Elections are entitled to
retirement benefits, under R.A. 1568, notwithstanding
the fact that they are not members of the System,
provided they have at least 20 years of service.
5
18th Edition, Vol. I.

Case Digest
FACTS:
Philippine Constitution Association, Inc (PHILCONSA)
assails the validity of RA 3836 insofar as the same allows
retirement gratuity and commutation of vacation and sick leave to
Senators and Representatives, and to the elective officials of both
Houses (of Congress). The provision on retirement gratuity is an
attempt to circumvent the Constitutional ban on increase of
salaries of the members of Congress during their term of office,
contrary to the provisions of Article VI, Section 14 of the
Constitution. The same provision constitutes selfish class
legislation because it allows members and officers of Congress to
retire after twelve (12) years of service and gives them a gratuity
equivalent to one year salary for every four years of service,
which is not refundable in case of reinstatement or re election of
the retiree, while all other officers and employees of the
government can retire only after at least twenty (20) years of
service and are given a gratuity which is only equivalent to one
month salary for every year of service, which, in any case, cannot
exceed 24 months. The provision on vacation and sick leave,
commutable at the highest rate received, insofar as members of
Congress are concerned, is another attempt of the legislator to
further increase their compensation in violation of the
Constitution.
The Solicitor General counter-argued alleging that the grant
of retirement or pension benefits under Republic Act No. 3836 to
the officers objected to by the petitioner does not constitute
forbidden compensation within the meaning of Section 14 of
Article VI of the Philippine Constitution. The law in question does
not constitute class legislation. The payment of commutable
vacation and sick leave benefits under the said Act is merely in
the nature of a basis for computing the gratuity due each retiring
member and, therefore, is not an indirect scheme to increase
their salary.

ISSUE:
whether Republic Act 3836 violates Section 14, Article
VI, of the Constitution which reads as follows:
The senators and the Members of the House of Representatives
shall, unless otherwise provided by law, receive an annual
compensation of seven thousand two hundred pesos each,
including per diems and other emoluments or allowances, and
exclusive only of travelling expenses to and from their respective
districts in the case of Members of the House of Representative
and to and from their places of residence in the case of Senators,
when attending sessions of the Congress. No increase in said
compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the full
term of all the Members of the Senate and of the House of
Representatives approving such increase. Until otherwise
provided by law, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of
the House of Representatives shall each receive an annual
compensation of sixteen thousand pesos.

RULING:
Yes. When the Constitutional Convention first
determined the compensation for the Members of Congress, the
amount fixed by it was only P5,000.00 per annum but it embodies
a special proviso which reads as follows: No increase in said
compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the full
term of all the members of the National Assembly elected
subsequent to approval of such increase. In other words, under
the original constitutional provision regarding the power of the
National Assembly to increase the salaries of its members, no
increase would take effect until after the expiration of the full
term of the members of the Assembly elected subsequent to the
approval of such increase.
The Constitutional provision in the aforementioned Section
14, Article VI, includes in the term compensation other
emoluments. This is the pivotal point on this fundamental
question as to whether the retirement benefit as provided for in
Republic Act 3836 fall within the purview of the term other
emoluments.
Emolument is defined as the profit arising from office or
employment; that which is received as compensation for services
or which is annexed to the possession of an office, as salary, fees
and perquisites.
It is evident that retirement benefit is a form or another
species of emolument, because it is a part of compensation for
services of one possessing any office.
Republic Act 3836 provides for an increase in the
emoluments of Senators and Members of the House of
Representatives, to take effect upon the approval of said Act,
which was on June 22, 1963. Retirement benefits were
immediately available thereunder, without awaiting the expiration
of the full term of all the Members of the Senate and the House of
Representatives approving such increase. Such provision clearly
runs counter to the prohibition in Article VI, Section 14 of the
Constitution. RA 3836 is therefore unconstitutional.
8
G.R. No. L-18456 November 30, 1963

CONRADO P. NAVARRO, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
RUFINO G. PINEDA, RAMONA REYES, ET AL., defendants-
appellants.

Deogracias Taedo, Jr. for plaintiff-appellee.


Renato A. Santos for defendants-appellants.

PAREDES, J.:

On December 14, 1959, defendants Rufino G. Pineda and his


mother Juana Gonzales (married to Gregorio Pineda), borrowed
from plaintiff Conrado P. Navarro, the sum of P2,500.00, payable 6
months after said date or on June 14, 1959. To secure the
indebtedness, Rufino executed a document captioned "DEED OF
REAL ESTATE and CHATTEL MORTGAGES", whereby Juana
Gonzales, by way of Real Estate Mortgage hypothecated a parcel
of land, belonging to her, registered with the Register of Deeds of
Tarlac, under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 25776, and Rufino G.
Pineda, by way of Chattel Mortgage, mortgaged his two-story
residential house, having a floor area of 912 square meters,
erected on a lot belonging to Atty. Vicente Castro, located at Bo.
San Roque, Tarlac, Tarlac; and one motor truck, registered in his
name, under Motor Vehicle Registration Certificate No. A-171806.
Both mortgages were contained in one instrument, which was
registered in both the Office of the Register of Deeds and the
Motor Vehicles Office of Tarlac.
When the mortgage debt became due and payable, the
defendants, after demands made on them, failed to pay. They,
however, asked and were granted extension up to June 30, 1960,
within which to pay. Came June 30, defendants again failed to pay
and, for the second time, asked for another extension, which was
given, up to July 30, 1960. In the second extension, defendant
Pineda in a document entitled "Promise", categorically stated that
in the remote event he should fail to make good the obligation on
such date (July 30, 1960), the defendant would no longer ask for
further extension and there would be no need for any formal
demand, and plaintiff could proceed to take whatever action he
might desire to enforce his rights, under the said mortgage
contract. In spite of said promise, defendants, failed and refused
to pay the obligation.

On August 10, 1960, plaintiff filed a complaint for foreclosure of


the mortgage and for damages, which consisted of liquidated
damages in the sum of P500.00 and 12% per annum interest on
the principal, effective on the date of maturity, until fully paid.

Defendants, answering the complaint, among others, stated

Defendants admit that the loan is overdue but deny that


portion of paragraph 4 of the First Cause of Action which
states that the defendants unreasonably failed and refuse to
pay their obligation to the plaintiff the truth being the
defendants are hard up these days and pleaded to the
plaintiff to grant them more time within which to pay their
obligation and the plaintiff refused;

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing it is most respectfully


prayed that this Honorable Court render judgment granting
the defendants until January 31, 1961, within which to pay
their obligation to the plaintiff.

On September 30, 1960, plaintiff presented a Motion for summary


Judgment, claiming that the Answer failed to tender any genuine
and material issue. The motion was set for hearing, but the record
is not clear what ruling the lower court made on the said motion.
On November 11, 1960, however, the parties submitted a
Stipulation of Facts, wherein the defendants admitted the
indebtedness, the authenticity and due execution of the Real
Estate and Chattel Mortgages; that the indebtedness has been
due and unpaid since June 14, 1960; that a liability of 12% per
annum as interest was agreed, upon failure to pay the principal
when due and P500.00 as liquidated damages; that the
instrument had been registered in the Registry of Property and
Motor Vehicles Office, both of the province of Tarlac; that the only
issue in the case is whether or not the residential house, subject
of the mortgage therein, can be considered a Chattel and the
propriety of the attorney's fees.

On February 24, 1961, the lower court held

... WHEREFORE, this Court renders decision in this Case:

(a) Dismissing the complaint with regard to defendant


Gregorio Pineda;

(b) Ordering defendants Juana Gonzales and the spouses


Rufino Pineda and Ramon Reyes, to pay jointly and severally
and within ninety (90) days from the receipt of the copy of
this decision to the plaintiff Conrado P. Navarro the principal
sum of P2,550.00 with 12% compounded interest per annum
from June 14, 1960, until said principal sum and interests are
fully paid, plus P500.00 as liquidated damages and the costs
of this suit, with the warning that in default of said payment
of the properties mentioned in the deed of real estate
mortgage and chattel mortgage (Annex "A" to the complaint)
be sold to realize said mortgage debt, interests, liquidated
damages and costs, in accordance with the pertinent
provisions of Act 3135, as amended by Act 4118, and Art. 14
of the Chattel Mortgage Law, Act 1508; and

(c) Ordering the defendants Rufino Pineda and Ramona


Reyes, to deliver immediately to the Provincial Sheriff of
Tarlac the personal properties mentioned in said Annex "A",
immediately after the lapse of the ninety (90) days above-
mentioned, in default of such payment.

The above judgment was directly appealed to this Court, the


defendants therein assigning only a single error, allegedly
committed by the lower court, to wit

In holding that the deed of real estate and chattel mortgages


appended to the complaint is valid, notwithstanding the fact
that the house of the defendant Rufino G. Pineda was made
the subject of the chattel mortgage, for the reason that it is
erected on a land that belongs to a third person.

Appellants contend that article 415 of the New Civil Code, in


classifying a house as immovable property, makes no distinction
whether the owner of the land is or not the owner of the building;
the fact that the land belongs to another is immaterial, it is
enough that the house adheres to the land; that in case of
immovables by incorporation, such as houses, trees, plants, etc;
the Code does not require that the attachment or incorporation be
made by the owner of the land, the only criterion being the union
or incorporation with the soil. In other words, it is claimed that "a
building is an immovable property, irrespective of whether or not
said structure and the land on which it is adhered to, belong to
the same owner" (Lopez v. Orosa, G.R. Nos. L-10817-8, Feb. 28,
1958). (See also the case of Leung Yee v. Strong Machinery Co.,
37 Phil. 644). Appellants argue that since only movables can be
the subject of a chattel mortgage (sec. 1, Act No. 3952) then the
mortgage in question which is the basis of the present action,
cannot give rise to an action for foreclosure, because it is nullity.
(Citing Associated Ins. Co., et al. v. Isabel Iya v. Adriano Valino, et
al., L-10838, May 30, 1958.)

The trial court did not predicate its decision declaring the deed of
chattel mortgage valid solely on the ground that the house
mortgaged was erected on the land which belonged to a third
person, but also and principally on the doctrine of estoppel, in
that "the parties have so expressly agreed" in the mortgage to
consider the house as chattel "for its smallness and mixed
materials of sawali and wood". In construing arts. 334 and 335 of
the Spanish Civil Code (corresponding to arts. 415 and 416,
N.C.C.), for purposes of the application of the Chattel Mortgage
Law, it was held that under certain conditions, "a property may
have a character different from that imputed to it in said articles.
It is undeniable that the parties to a contract may by agreement,
treat as personal property that which by nature would be real
property" (Standard Oil Co. of N.Y. v. Jaranillo, 44 Phil. 632-
633)."There can not be any question that a building of mixed
materials may be the subject of a chattel mortgage, in which
case, it is considered as between the parties as personal property.
... The matter depends on the circumstances and the intention of
the parties". "Personal property may retain its character as such
where it is so agreed by the parties interested even though
annexed to the realty ...". (42 Am. Jur. 209-210, cited in
Manarang, et al. v. Ofilada, et al., G.R. No. L-8133, May 18, 1956;
52 O.G. No. 8, p. 3954.) The view that parties to a deed of chattel
mortgagee may agree to consider a house as personal property
for the purposes of said contract, "is good only insofar as the
contracting parties are concerned. It is based partly, upon the
principles of estoppel ..." (Evangelista v. Alto Surety, No. L-11139,
Apr. 23, 1958). In a case, a mortgage house built on a rented
land, was held to be a personal property, not only because the
deed of mortgage considered it as such, but also because it did
not form part of the land (Evangelista v. Abad [CA];36 O.G. 2913),
for it is now well settled that an object placed on land by one who
has only a temporary right to the same, such as a lessee or
usufructuary, does not become immobilized by attachment
(Valdez v. Central Altagracia, 222 U.S. 58, cited in Davao Sawmill
Co., Inc. v. Castillo, et al., 61 Phil. 709). Hence, if a house
belonging to a person stands on a rented land belonging to
another person, it may be mortgaged as a personal property is so
stipulated in the document of mortgage. (Evangelista v.
Abad, supra.) It should be noted, however, that the principle is
predicated on statements by the owner declaring his house to be
a chattel, a conduct that may conceivably estop him from
subsequently claiming otherwise (Ladera, et al.. v. C. N. Hodges,
et al., [CA]; 48 O.G. 5374). The doctrine, therefore, gathered from
these cases is that although in some instances, a house of mixed
materials has been considered as a chattel between them, has
been recognized, it has been a constant criterion nevertheless
that, with respect to third persons, who are not parties to the
contract, and specially in execution proceedings, the house is
considered as an immovable property (Art. 1431, New Civil Code).

In the case at bar, the house in question was treated as personal


or movable property, by the parties to the contract themselves. In
the deed of chattel mortgage, appellant Rufino G. Pineda
conveyed by way of "Chattel Mortgage" "my personal properties",
a residential house and a truck. The mortgagor himself grouped
the house with the truck, which is, inherently a movable property.
The house which was not even declared for taxation purposes was
small and made of light construction materials: G.I. sheets
roofing, sawali and wooden walls and wooden posts; built on land
belonging to another.

The cases cited by appellants are not applicable to the present


case. The Iya cases (L-10837-38, supra), refer to a building or a
house of strong materials, permanently adhered to the land,
belonging to the owner of the house himself. In the case of Lopez
v. Orosa, (L-10817-18), the subject building was a theatre, built of
materials worth more than P62,000, attached permanently to the
soil. In these cases and in the Leung Yee case, supra, third
persons assailed the validity of the deed of chattel mortgages; in
the present case, it was one of the parties to the contract of
mortgages who assailed its validity.

CONFORMABLY WITH ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed


from, should be, as it is hereby affirmed, with costs against
appellants.

Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Barrera, Dizon,


Regala, and Makalintal, JJ., concur.
Case Digest
FACTS:
Pineda and his mother executed real estate and chattel
mortgages in favor of Navarro, to secure a loan they got from the
latter. The REM covered a parcel of land owned by the mother
while the chattel mortgage covered a residential house. Due
to the failure to pay the loan, they asked for extensions to
pay for the loan. On the second extension, Pineda executed a
PROMISE wherein in case of default in payment, he wouldnt ask
for any additional extension and there would be no need for any
formal demand. In spite of this, they still failed to pay.
Navarro then filed for the foreclosure of the mortgages. The
court decided in his favor.

ISSUE:
W/N the deed of real estate mortgage and chattel mortgage
appended to the complaint is valid notwithstanding the fact that
the house was made subject of chattel mortgage for the reason
that it is erected on a land that belongs to a third person.

HELD:
Where a house stands on a rented land belonging to
another person, it may be the subject matter of a chattel
mortgage as personal property if so stipulated in the document of
mortgage, and in an action by the mortgagee for the foreclosure,
the validity of the chattel mortgage cannot be assailed by one of
the parties to the contract of mortgage.
Furthermore, although in some instances, a house of mixed
materials has been considered as a chattel between the parties
and that the validity of the contract between them, has been
recognized, it has been a contant criterion that with respect
to third persons, who are not parties to the contract, and
specially in execution proceedings, the house is considered as
immovable property.

9
A.C. No. 2474 June 30, 2005

EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR., complainant,


vs.
ATTY. LEO J. PALMA, respondent.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:

Providing ones children with a comfortable life and good


education does not render marriage a fait accompli. Leo J. Palma,
respondent herein, may have provided well for his children but
this accomplishment is not sufficient to wipe away the penalty for
his transgression. He ought to remember that before he became a
father, he was a husband first. As such, he should have loved,
respected and remained faithful to his wife.

At bar is respondents Motion to Vacate1 our Decision dated


September 15, 2004 finding him guilty of grossly immoral conduct
and violation of his oath as a lawyer and imposing upon him the
penalty of disbarment from the practice of law.
In resolving the instant motion, a brief revisit of the facts is
imperative. On June 22, 1982, respondent, despite his subsisting
marriage with Elizabeth Hermosisima, married Maria Luisa
Cojuangco, the 22-year old daughter of complainant Eduardo M.
Cojuangco, Jr. This prompted the latter to file with this Court, on
November 8, 1982, a complaint for disbarment against
respondent.

Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint.

In our Resolution2 dated March 2, 1983, we referred the case to


the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for investigation, report
and recommendation. Then Assistant Solicitor General Oswaldo D.
Agcaoili heard the testimonies of the complainant and his witness
in the presence of respondents counsel.

On March 19, 1984, respondent filed with the OSG an urgent


motion to suspend proceedings3 on the ground that the final
outcome of Civil Case No. Pq0401-P,4 for declaration of nullity of
marriage between him and his wife Lisa, poses a prejudicial
question to the disbarment proceeding. The motion was denied.

Respondent then filed with this Court an urgent motion for


issuance of a restraining order. 5 On December 19, 1984, we
issued a Resolution enjoining the OSG from continuing the
disbarment proceedings.6

In the interim, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court took effect. Hence,
the OSG transferred the disbarment case to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP). On October 19, 1998, IBP Commissioner
Julio C. Elamparo required the parties to manifest within ten (10)
days from notice whether they are still interested in pursuing the
case.7

In his manifestation,8 complainant confirmed his continuing


interest in prosecuting the case.

For his part, respondent moved to postpone the hearing eight (8)
times. In one of those instances, particularly on August 28, 2001,
complainant moved "that respondent be deemed to have
waived his right to present evidence and for the case to
be deemed submitted for resolution in view of his
continuing failure to present his evidence." However,
complainant withdrew such motion upon the promise of the
respondents counsel that on the next hearing, scheduled on
October 4, 2001, he would definitely present his clients evidence.
But even before that date, respondent already manifested that he
would not be able to return to the Philippines for his direct
testimony. Instead, he promised to submit his "direct testimony in
affidavit form."9 In an Order issued that day, the IBP
Commissioner reset the hearing for the last time on January 24,
2002 and warned respondent that should he fail to appear or
present his "direct testimony in affidavit form," the case will be
deemed submitted for resolution.10 On January 24,
2002, respondent neither appeared nor presented his
"direct testimony in affidavit form," hence, the case was
deemed submitted for resolution.11

On March 20, 2003, the IBP Commissioner submitted a Report and


Recommendation finding respondent guilty of gross immoral
conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer and recommending
that he be suspended from the practice of law for a period of
three (3) years.

The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the above


Report and Recommendation, but reduced the penalty of
suspension to only one (1) year.

On September 15, 2004, we rendered the assailed Decision.

In his motion for reconsideration, respondent raised the following


issues:

First, the complaint for disbarment was filed by


an improper party, complainant not being the offended
party.

Second, he was denied due process because the case


was submitted for resolution on January 24, 2002 without his
"direct testimony in affidavit form."
Third, the disbarment proceedings before the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline is void because our Resolution
dated December 19, 1984 restraining the OSG from
continuing such proceedings has not been lifted.

Fourth, our Decision is barred by laches because of the


lapse of almost fourteen (14) years fromDecember 19,
1984, the date we restrained the OSG from continuing the
disbarment proceedings, untilOctober 19, 1998, the date
the IBP Commissioner required the parties to "manifest
whether or not they are still interested in prosecuting the
case."

Fifth, the Resolution dated June 21, 2003 of the IBP Board of
Governors imposing upon him the penalty of one (1) year
suspension "has attained finality and should be
deemed served already."

And sixth, he acted under a "firm factual and legal


conviction" in declaring before the Hong Kong Marriage
Registry that he is a "bachelor" because his first marriage is
void even if there is no judicial declaration of nullity.

In his comment, complainant countered that: first, respondent


cannot claim denial of due process because his failure to adduce
evidence was due to his own fault; second, it is now too late to
invoke this Courts Resolution of December 19, 1984 restraining
the OSG from continuing the disbarment proceedings; third,
laches does not apply because the 14-year hiatus was brought
about by the said Resolution; fourth, the penalty of one-year
suspension imposed by the IBP Board of Governors cannot be
deemed "final and served already" because it is a mere
recommendation to this Court; and fifth, although his previous
marriage was annulled, it can not erase the betrayal of trust and
abuse of confidence he committed against complainant.

Respondents motion is bereft of merit.

We observe that in his motion, respondent alleged new


issues12 which were not considered below. Nonetheless, in view of
the caveat that the power to disbar must be exercised with great
caution, we shall resolve all these new issues.

I - Improper Party

We find no merit in respondents contention that the complainant,


being the father of the offended party, does not have the standing
to file the instant complaint.

Disbarment proceedings are undertaken solely for public welfare.


The only question for determination is whether respondent is fit to
be a member of the Bar. The complainant or the person who
called the attention of this Court to the lawyers alleged
misconduct is in no sense a party and generally has no interest in
the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper
administration of justice.13 Thus, this Court may investigate
charges against lawyers, regardless of complainants standing. In
fact, it can do so motu proprio. Our ruling in Rayos-Ombac vs.
Rayos14 applies four-square, thus:

"x x x A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed


regardless of interest or lack of interest of the
complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the
facts borne out by the record, the charge of deceit and
grossly immoral conduct has been duly proven. This rule is
premised on the nature of disciplinary proceedings. A proceeding
for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action
where the complainant is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is
a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private
interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They
are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public
welfare. They are undertaken for the purpose of preserving
courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to
practice in them. The attorney is called to answer to the court for
his conduct as an officer of the court. The complainant or the
person who called the attention of the court to the attorney's
alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no
interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in
the proper administration of justice. Hence, if the evidence on
record warrants, the respondent may be suspended or disbarred
despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of the
charges."

II Due Process

Neither do we find merit in respondents claim that the IBP


Commission on Bar Discipline violated his right to due process
when it considered the case submitted for resolution on January
24, 2002 without his "direct testimony in affidavit form." The
records show that the case dragged on for three (3) years after
the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline resumed its investigation on
October 19, 1998. Of the fifteen15 (15) settings from February 2,
1999 to January 24, 2002, respondent had the hearing postponed
for eight (8) times.

Indisputably, it was respondents failure to submit his "direct


testimony in affidavit form" that caused delay. Since the
proceedings had been dragging on a lethargic course, the IBP
Commissioner is correct in considering the case submitted for
resolution. At this juncture, it must be stressed that the essence
of due process in administrative proceedings is the opportunity to
explain ones side or seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling
complained of. As long as the parties are given the opportunity to
be heard before judgment is rendered, the demands of due
process are sufficiently met.16 Here, respondent was given
sufficient opportunity to explain his side and adduce his evidence.
Despite his sudden "flight into oblivion," the IBP Commissioner
notified him of the proceedings. Significantly, he was duly
represented by a counsel who attended the hearings and
submitted manifestations and motions on his behalf, the latest of
which is the instant Motion to Vacate. In short, the active
participation of his lawyer in every stage of the proceedings rules
out any badge of procedural deficiency therein. Of course, we
need not mention the fact that respondent was able to file with
this Court a motion to dismiss the complaint, as well as to
confront and cross-examine the complainant and his witness
during the investigation in the OSG.

III Restraining Order


The restraining order was anchored on the ground that the final
outcome of Civil Case No. Pq0401-P poses a prejudicial question
to the disbarment proceedings. It appears from complainants
allegation, which respondent does not deny, that Civil Case No.
Pq0401-P was dismissed without prejudice.17 Necessarily, there
is no more prejudicial question to speak of.

IV - Laches

Respondent cannot find solace in the principle of laches. While it


is true that there was a hiatus or delay of 14 years before the IBP
Commissioner resumed the investigation, the same was pursuant
to the said restraining order of December 19, 1984.

V Finality of the Penalty Imposed

by the IBP-Board of Governors

The penalty of one-year suspension imposed by the IBP Board of


Governors cannot attain finality. Section 12 of Rule 139-B
provides:

"Section 12. Review and Decision by the Board of Governors.-

xxxxxx

(b) If the Board, by the vote of a majority of its total membership,


determines that the respondent should be suspended from the
practice of law or disbarred, it shall issue a resolution setting forth
its findings and recommendations which, together with the whole
record of the case shall forthwith be transmitted to the
Supreme Court for final action."

Clearly, the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors is merely


recommendatory. The "power to recommend" includes the power
to give "advice, exhortation or indorsement, which is essentially
persuasive in character, not binding upon the party to whom it is
made."18 Necessarily, the "final action" on the resolution of the
IBP Board of Governors still lies with this Court. Obviously,
respondents argument that we affirmed such resolution when we
"noted" it is certainly misplaced. In Re: Problem of Delays in
Cases Before the Sandiganbayan,19 we held that the term "noted"
means that the Court has merely taken cognizance of the
existence of an act or declaration, without exercising a judicious
deliberation or rendering a decision on the matter. It does not
imply agreement or approval. The power to disbar belongs to the
Court alone.

VI - Good Faith

Respondents argument that he was of the "firm factual and legal


conviction when he declared before the Hong Kong authorities
that he was a bachelor since his first marriage is void and does
not need judicial declaration of nullity" cannot exonerate him.
In Terre vs. Terre,20 the same defense was raised by respondent
lawyer whose disbarment was also sought. We held:

"x x x Respondent Jordan Terre, being a lawyer, knew or


should have known that such an argument ran counter to
the prevailing case law of this Court which holds that for
purposes of determining whether a person is legally free
to contract a second marriage, a judicial declaration that
the first marriage was null and void ab initio is
essential. Even if we were to assume, arguendo merely, that
Jordan Terre held that mistaken belief in good faith, the same
result will follow. For if we are to hold Jordan Terre to his own
argument, his first marriage to complainant Dorothy Terre must
be deemed valid, with the result that his second marriage must
be regarded as bigamous and criminal in character."

Before we write finis to this case, we find it necessary to stress


certain points in view of respondents additional reason why he
should be exonerated that he loves all his children and has
always provided for them. He may have indeed provided well for
his children. But this accomplishment is not sufficient to show his
moral fitness to continue being a member of the noble profession
of law. It has always been the duties of parents e.g., to support,
educate and instruct their children according to right precepts
and good example; and to give them love, companionship and
understanding, as well as moral and spiritual guidance. 21 But what
respondent forgot is that he has also duties to his wife. As a
husband, he is obliged to live with her; observe mutual
love, respect and fidelity; and render help and
support.22 And most important of all, he is obliged to remain
faithful to her until death.

The undeniable truth is that respondent married Lisa while his


marriage with Elizabeth Hermosisima was still subsisting. Such act
constitutes grossly immoral conduct, a ground for disbarment
under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court.
Obviously, he exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of
morality required of him as a member of the Bar. He made a
mockery of marriage, a sacred institution demanding respect and
dignity. InCordova vs. Cordova,23 we held that "The moral
delinquency that affects the fitness of a member of the bar to
continue as such includes conduct that outrages the generally
accepted moral standards of the community, conduct for
instance, which makes a mockery of the inviolable social
institution of marriage."

We also reiterate our ruling that respondents conduct speaks of a


clear case of betrayal of trust and abuse of confidence, thus:

"x x x. It was respondents closeness to the complainants family


as well as the latters complete trust in him that made possible
his intimate relationship with Lisa. When his concern was
supposed to be complainants legal affairs only, he sneaked at the
latters back and courted his daughter. Like the proverbial thief in
the night, he attacked when nobody was looking. Moreover, he
availed of complainants resources by securing a plane ticket from
complainants office in order to marry the latters daughter in
Hong Kong. He did this without complainants knowledge.
Afterwards, he even had the temerity to assure complainant that
"everything is legal." Clearly, respondent had crossed he limits of
propriety and decency.

Indeed, we are not prepared to exonerate respondent or reduce


the penalty we imposed on him as it will denigrate the standard of
the law profession.
WHEREFORE, respondents Motion to Vacate our Decision dated
September 15, 2004 is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago,


Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-
Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, and Garcia, JJ.,
concur.

Footnotes
1
Which we treat as a motion for reconsideration.
2
Rollo, at 354.
3
Rollo at 199 - 201.
4
Then pending in the Court of First Instance (CFI), Branch 27,
Pasay City, Annex "D" of the Complaint, id.at 13-19.
5
Dated December 13, 1984.
6
OSG Records at 5. The OSG issued the Order dated
December 20, 1984 suspending the scheduled hearing until
the Court orders otherwise. (OSG Records at 1)
7
Records of the Commission on Bar Discipline at 11.
8
Dated November 13, 1998, id. at 13.
9
Manifestation with Motion, Records of the Commission on
Bar Discipline at 45
10
Order dated December 4, 2001, Records of the
Commission on Discipline at 51.
11
Order dated January 24, 2002, Records of the Commission
on Discipline at 97.
12
Except the 5th issue mentioned earlier.
13
Pimentel, Jr. vs. Llorente, A.C. No. 4680, August 29, 2000,
339 SCRA 154.
14
A.C. No. 2884, January 28, 1998, 285 SCRA 93.
15
Hearings set on February 2, 1999, May 7, 1999, May
16,2000, June 15, 2000, August 24, 2000, November 21,
2000, January 18, 2001, February 20, 2001, April 24, 2001,
May 17, 2001, June 28, 2001, August 28, 2001, October 4,
2001, December 4, 2001, and January 24, 2002.
16
Montemayor vs. Bundalian, G.R. No. 149335, July 1, 2003,
405 SCRA 264.
17
Comment to Respondents Motion to Vacate, at 2.
18
Cuyegkeng vs. Cruz, No. L- 16263, July 26,1960, 108 Phil.
1147.
19
A.M. No. 00-8-05-SC, January 31, 2002, 375 SCRA 339.
20
A.C. No. 2349, July 3, 1992, 211 SCRA 6.
21
Art. 220, Family Code. See also Art. 356 of the Civil Code
and Art. 3 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code (or PD 603).
22
Art. 68, Family Code.
23
Adm. Case No. 3249, November 29, 1989, 179 SCRA 680.

Case Digest
FACTS:

On June 22, 1982, respondent Atty. Leo J. Palma, despite his


subsisting marriage, wed Maria Luisa Cojuangco, the daughter of
complainant Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr. Thus, the latter filed on
November 1982, a complaint disbarment against respondent.
Palma moved to dismiss the complaint.
On March 2, 1983, the court referred the case to OSG for
investigation and recommendation. The Assistant Solicitor
General heard the testimonies of the complainant and his witness
in the presence of respondents counsel.
On March 19, 1984 respondent filed with the OSG an urgent
motion to suspend proceedings on the ground that the final
actions of his civil case for the declaration of nullity of marriage
between him and his wife Lisa, poses a prejudicial question to the
disbarment proceeding, but it was denied.
The OSG transferred the disbarment case to the IBP, the latter
found respondent guilty of gross immoral conduct and violation of
his oath as a lawyer, hence, was suspended from the practice of
law for a period of three years.
In his motion for reconsideration, respondent alleged that he
acted under a firm factual and legal conviction in declaring
before the Hong Kong Marriage Registry that he is a bachelor
because his first marriage is void even if there is judicial
declaration of nullity.

ISSUE:

Whether or not a subsequent void marriage still needs a judicial


declaration of nullity for the purpose of remarriage.

RULING:

Respondents arguments that he was of the firm factual and legal


conviction when he declared before the HIC authorities that he
was a bachelor since his first marriage is void and does not need
judicial declaration of nullity cannot exonerate him. In Terre vs
Terre, the same defense was raised by respondent lawyer whose
disbarment was also sought. We held:
xxx respondent Jordan Terre, being a lawyer, knew or should
have known that such an argument ran counter to the prevailing
case law of this court which holds that purposes of determining
whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage, a
judicial declaration that the first marriage was null and void an
initio is essential. Even if we were to assume, arguendo merely,
that Jordan Terre held that mistaken belief in good faith, the same
result will follow. For if we are to hold Jordan Terre to his own
argument, his frist marriage to complainant Dorothy Terre must
be deemed valid, with the result that his second marriage must
be regarded as bigamous and criminal.

10

G.R. NO. 118982. February 19, 2001


LORETA BRAVO CERVANTES, LOIDA CERVANTES, LEAH
CERVANTES, CHRISTY CERVANTES, CHARME CERVANTES,
SPS. ARMANDO ABAD and ADORACION
ORDUNA, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, GUILLERMO (GIL) FRANCISCO,
VENANCIO FRANCISCO, APOLONIA FRANCISCO and
VIRGINIA FRANCISCO, respondents.

DECISION

DE LEON, JR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision 1 of


the Court of Appeals dated August 25, 1994 affirming the
decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan in Civil Case
No. 16211 (for Recovery of Land with Damages) ordering herein
petitioners to vacate the respective parcel of land which they are
occupying and to recognize private respondents ownership
thereof.1wphi1.nt

In dispute are certain portions of a parcel of land (Parcel 1, Lot No.


1, plan Psu-131830) situated in Poblacion, Bugallon, Pangasinan,
with an area of seven thousand seven hundred thirty-three
(7,733) square meters, covered and described in TCT No. 2200-
Pangasinan and registered in the name of Antonio G. Francisco. 3 A
portion with an area of 3,768 square meters was earlier ceded to
the Municipality of Bugallon, Pangasinan. 4

On July 8, 1985, plaintiffs, herein private respondents, filed an


amended complaint alleging that they were the heirs of the late
Antonio G. Francisco who was the registered owner of the subject
property, and that they recently discovered that the defendants,
herein petitioners, were illegally occupying and had declared in
their names portions of said property as follows:

Antonio Cervantes 398 square meters, declared under Tax


Declaration No. 316, now Tax Declaration No. 445;
Armando Abad and Adoracion Ordua - 442 square meters,
declared under Tax Declaration No. 473 and assessed at
P2,480.00.

Plaintiffs demanded that the defendants vacate the subject


premises, but the latter refused to do so. 5 Hence, this action for
recovery of land wherein the plaintiffs prayed that the defendants
be ordered to (1) vacate immediately the portions of land that
they are occupying and to recognize plaintiffs ownership thereof;
(2) pay reasonable rentals from the time this complaint was filed
up to the time they vacate the land; (3) pay actual damages
amounting to P4,000.00 as reasonable attorneys fees, moral
damages and the costs. 6

In his answer, defendant Antonio Cervantes, herein petitioner,


denied the material allegations of the complaint, and in defense
claimed legal possession over one of the parcels of land in
question alleging that he, together with his brother Claro and
sister Macrina-Teresita, inherited the land from their late father
Tranquilino Cervantes who purchased the same on January 22,
1947 from Juan Abad, now deceased, who in turn earlier
purchased the property from plaintiffs predecessors-in-interest.
During his lifetime, Tranquilino Cervantes introduced
improvements in the land without any objection from the plaintiffs
or their predecessors-in-interest. By virtue of the Deed of
Extrajudicial Partition executed by the heirs of Tranquilino
Cervantes, the ownership of the contested premises were
allegedly transmitted to them. In his counterclaim, Cervantes
prayed that judgment be rendered: (1) dismissing the complaint
against him for lack of cause of action; (2) declaring the validity of
the Deed of Sale dated January 22, 1947; (3) ordering the
plaintiffs, jointly and severally, to pay him the sum of P5,000.00
as attorneys fees; P5,000.00 as litigating expenses; P5,000 as
moral damages; P5,000.00 as exemplary damages, plus costs. 7

Defendants spouses Armando and Adoracion Abad, on the other


hand, alleged that their possession, together with that of their
predecessors-in-interest, over the questioned parcel of land was
lawful and in the concept of owner. Their possession was for more
than 70 years, even dating back before the year 1920. The
questioned parcel was a portion of the land jointly purchased by
their parent, the late Juan Abad, and Marcelino Nievera from
Estefania Ignacio Vda. De F. Totaez, who purchased the same
from Antonio Fernandez, who in turn purchased the property from
Vicente Espino, whose possession and ownership of the property
was public, exclusive, notorious, open and continuous long before
the alleged registration of the subject property in the name of
Antonio Francisco, under Act No. 496, the latter being known as a
mere trustee or overseer. When Juan Abad died, the defendant
spouses acquired the subject property partly by inheritance and
partly by purchase. 8

Defendants Abad alleged that the imprescriptibility and


indefeasibility of the Torrens Title do not apply to the case at bar
because registration by the applicant-registrant was done in bad
faith and by way of actual fraudulent acts; that Act No. 496 as
amended by P.D. No. 1529 was never intended to shield the
fraudulent and unlawful acts of the applicant-registrant in order to
divest the actual owner and possessor thereof before the
registration; and that between the actual owners-possessors
before the registration under Act No. 496 and a usurper-trustee
who applied and successfully registered the same land in his
name, the former should prevail over the latter. 9

As counterclaim, defendants Abad prayed that the plaintiffs be


ordered to pay them P10,000.00 as attorneys fees; appearance
fees computed at P300.00 per hearing; P20,000.00 as actual and
other incidental expenses; P50,000.00 as moral damages;
P50,000.00 as exemplary damages and costs of suit. 10

Based on the Pre-trial Order dated July 8, 1985, the parties agreed
that the issues are the following:

1. Who are the lawful owners of the parcels of land in question?


2. Whether or not the parties are entitled for damages as claimed
in their respective pleadings. 11

On October 28, 1987, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of


the plaintiffs, which in part reads:

Thus, this Court hereby declares that the plaintiffs are the owners
of the parcels of land subject of this action having acquired it from
their late father, Antonio Francisco by hereditary succession.
Prescription and laches cannot be raised against the plaintiffs. If
there is/are somebody who is/are guilty of laches in this case, it
would be the defendants. Because for a considerable long period
of time, they failed to obtain a title over the parcels in question.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the


plaintiffs and against the defendants, to wit:

a) ordering the defendants to vacate immediately the parcel of


land they are occupying, and to recognize the plaintiffs
ownership thereof; and

b) ordering the defendants to pay actual damages in the amount


of P4,000.00 by way of reasonable attorneys fees and P10,000.00
by way of moral damages and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED. 12

The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court in its
Decision promulgated on August 25, 1994, the dispositive portion
of which reads:

WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the decision appealed


herefrom the same is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED. 13

Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied by the Court of


Appeals in a Resolution dated February 13, 1995.
Petitioners ascribe to the Court of Appeals the following errors:

1. IT IS AN ERROR TO CONCLUDE THAT THE PLAINTIFFS,


HEREIN PRIVATE RESPONDENTS, ARE THE LAWFUL OWNERS
OF THE LANDS IN QUESTION BASED ON A DOUBTFUL
MUTILATED ENTRY IN TCT NO. 2200.

2. IT IS AN ERROR (NOT) TO CONSIDER SUBSEQUENT ACTS


OF THE PARTIES AFTER THE SALE TO ASCERTAIN THE
IDENTITY OF THE LAND SUBJECT OF THE SALE.

3. IT IS AN ERROR NOT TO RECOGNIZE THE DEFENDANTS,


HEREIN PETITIONERS, AS LAWFUL OWNERS OF THEIR
RESPECTIVE RESIDENTIAL LOTS. 14

Petitioners faulted the Court of Appeals for concluding that private


respondents are the lawful owners of the parcels of land in
question based on a doubtful mutilated entry in TCT No. 2200.
Contrary to the conclusion of the Court of Appeals, petitioners
asserted that as shown in the pre-trial order, they did not admit
the authenticity of Exhibits D, D-1 and D-2, which were the
photocopy of TCT No. 2200 in the name of Antonio Francisco.
Further, the resolution of the issue of ownership of the subject
premises called for examination of the respective evidence of the
parties. It is in this connection that they questioned the
correctness and authenticity of the mutilated portion on page 3 of
TCT No. 2200 (Exhibit D) showing that their predecessor-in-
interest, Vicente Espino, purchased parcel 2 of Lot No. 3 instead of
parcel 1 of Lot No. 1, where their respective houses were erected
fifty (50) years ago. They argued that under the entry
compraventa Vicente Espino on said page, the true identity of
the land sold was mutilated and it was made to appear in
handwriting that Vicente Espino purchased parcel 2 of Lot No. 3.
There was no evidence adduced to show that the handwritten
words were the correct words before the mutilation, considering
that the next entry showed that one Pablo Zalazar also purchased
the same parcel 2 of Lot No. 3.
As observed by the Court of Appeals, petitioners did not raise in
issue the authenticity of the now contested TCT No. 2200 or a
portion thereof during the pre-trial and trial on the merits in the
trial court. An issue which was neither raised in the complaint nor
ventilated during the trial in the court below cannot be raised for
the first time on appeal as it would be offensive to the basic rule
of fair play, justice and due process. 15 Moreover, the
determination of issues at the pre-trial conference bars the
consideration of other questions on appeal. 16Further, petitioners
did not object to the formal offer in evidence of TCT No. 2200 as
Exhibit D and Series 17 and Exhibit F and Series; 18 hence, there is
a waiver of any objection to its admissibility. 19

Nevertheless, an examination of the evidence on record


particularly Exhibits D-2 and F-2, which contained the
encumbrances affecting TCT No. 2200, showed that the sale to
Vicente Espino involved Lot No. 3, while the sale to Pablo Zalazar
involved Lot No. 7. 20 Clearly, the sale to Vicente Espino, the
alleged predecessor-in-interest of the Abad spouses did not
involve the parcel of land, subject matter of this case, which is
parcel 1, Lot 1, Plan Psu-131830.

Petitioners further argued that the private respondents inaction


for 50 years showed that they were not the owners of the subject
parcels of land, and realty taxes were not paid by them. On the
other hand, petitioners, who are in physical possession of the lots
have been paying their obligation as landowners as shown by
their respective tax declarations and tax receipts.

The argument of petitioners is without merit. It is a fundamental


principle in land registration that the certificate of title serves as
evidence of an indefeasible and incontrovertible title to the
property in favor of the person whose name appears therein, 21 in
this case the private respondents father, Antonio Francisco. A
title once registered under the Torrens System cannot be defeated
even by adverse, open and notorious possession; neither can it be
defeated by prescription. 22 Petitioners cannot prove their
ownership of the subject parcels of land through tax declarations
and corresponding tax receipts inasmuch as they are not
conclusive evidence of ownership. 23

Further, the trial court found that defendant, herein petitioner


Cervantes, had no right to the parcel of land which he and his
siblings were occupying, thus:

Taking into consideration the documentary evidence presented by


the plaintiffs, particularly that of TCT No. 2200 (Exhibit A.) which
the parcel in question is included, among others, that the sale of
the parcel in question was made by Juan Abad to Tranquilino
Cervantes (father of defendant Antonio Cervantes) on January 22,
1947 took place when the said TCT No. 2200 was already existing
in the name of Antonio Francisco, the late father of the herein
plaintiffs. Said TCT No. 2200 was issued on November 8, 1924, or
more than twenty-two (22.) years before the aforesaid sale
between Juan Abad and Tranquilino Cervantes. This clearly shows
that what Juan Abad sold to Tranquilino Cervantes on January 22,
1947 was a parcel of land that did not belong to the former. It is
because said parcel of land already belonged to Antonio Francisco
for having obtained a title over said parcel of land covered by TCT
No. 2200. Not being the owner of the parcel in question, Juan
Abad did not transmit any right whatsoever with respect to the
parcel in question. Well-settled is the rule that one cannot sell
what he does not own and this rule has much force when the
subject of the sale is a titled land that belongs to another person.
Simply put, the sale of the parcel in question made by Juan Abad
to Tranquilino Cervantes did not affect the title of Antonio
Francisco over said parcel. 24

Likewise, the trial court correctly held that defendants Abad had
no right to the parcel of land they were occupying, thus:

The purchases alleged by the defendants-spouses on the


questioned parcel of land beginning from their alleged primitive
predecessor-in-interest Vicente Espino to Estefania Ignacio Vda.
De F. Totaez to Juan Abad and Marcelino Nievera were never
proven in court. The documentary evidence they presented before
this Court were not sufficient to establish their right over the
parcel in question. The Deed of Extra-Judicial Partition of Real and
Personal Property with Sale has no probative value because it is
self-serving. Besides, it sought to partition the parcel of land
which is already covered by TCT No. 2200 issued in the name of
Antonio Francisco. Simply stated, there was no property that they
could partition among themselves because said property subject
of the partition did not belong to their late father Juan Abad but to
the late Antonio Francisco, the father of the plaintiffs.

The Deed of Absolute Sale (Exhibit 2.) entered between Juan


Abad and Tranquilino Cervantes, has no probative value also for
being irrelevant. Besides, this is the same deed wherein this Court
has already passed upon concerning its efficacy and ruled in the
early part of this decision that it has no effect whatsoever to TCT
No. 2200 issued in the name of the late Antonio
Francisco.1wphi1.nt

The Tax Declaration issued in the name of the defendants-spouses


and the corresponding Tax Receipts have no probative value also
as against the TCT No. 2200 issued in the name of the late
Antonio Francisco. It is because they are not proofs of ownership.
TCT No. 2200, on the other hand, serves as evidence of an
indefeasible title to the property in favor of the person whose
name appears thereinAntonio Francisco. Further, after the
expiration of the one year period from the issuance of the decree
of registration upon which it is based, it becomes incontrovertible
(Pamintuan vs. San Agustin, 43 Phil. 558). 25

The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court in


toto, the same being in accordance with law and the evidence.
Hence, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals should be as
it is hereby affirmed.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The assailed


Decision of the Court of Appeals and its Resolution denying the
motion for reconsideration are hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ.,


concur.

Footnotes

1. Penned by Associate Justice Corona Ibay-Somera and


concurred in by Associate Justices Fidel P. Purisima and Asaali
S. Isnani, Rollo, pp. 42-51

2. Penned by Judge Cornelio W. Wasan, Sr.

3. Amended Complaint, Records, pp. 22-24

4. Exh. D-2-A, Records, p. 59; Exhibit F-2, Records, p.


64; Rollo, p. 22

5. Rollo, p. 22

6. Rollo, pp. 22-23

7. Amended Answer with Counterclaim, Records, pp. 25-29

8. Records, pp. 14-15

9. Records, pp. 14-16

10. Records, pp. 16-17

11. Pre-trial Order, Records, p. 33

12. Rollo, p. 28

13. Rollo, p. 51

14. Petition, p. 2; Rollo, p. 11

15. Medida v. Court of Appeals, 208 SCRA 887, 893 (1992)


16. Bergado v. Court of Appeals, 173 SCRA 497, 501 (1989);
citing Permanent Concrete Products, Inc. v. Teodoro, 26 SCRA
332 (1968)

17. Records, p. 48

18. Records, p. 49; Exhibits F to F-2 are certified photocopies


of TCT No. 2200

19. People v. Sanchez, 308 SCRA 264, 282 (1999)

20. Records, pp. 59, 64

21. Heirs of Mariano, Juan, Tarcela and Josefa Brusas v. Court


of Appeals, 313 SCRA 176, 183 (1999).21

22. Id

23. Director of Lands v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 195


SCRA 38, 44 (1991); Heirs of Mariano, Juan, Tarcela and
Josefa Brusas v. Court of Appeals, 313 SCRA 176, 184 (1999)

24. Rollo, pp. 25-26

25. Rollo, pp. 27-28

Case Digest
FACTS:

Spouses Mauricio and Simons owned two parcel of land. It contain


a large residential dwelling or smaller house and other
improvements.
They had three children Roland, Cesar and Lily, Cesar died. Lily
married David and had a son, David Jr,, Senia, Benjamin and their
half-sister, Ofelia.
Simona executed a General Power of Attorney (GPA) on June 17,
1966, appointing her husband as her attorney-in-fact. He
subsequently mortgaged the land to the PNB and DBP.
On October 25, 1970, Mauricio executed a Deed of Sale with
assumption of Real Estate Mortgage transferring the properties to
Roland, Ofelia and Elizabeth. It was conditioned on the payment
of P1,000 and on the assumption of the vendees of the PNB and
DBP mortgages over the properties.
The deed of sale was notarized but was not annotated on TCT,
neither was it presented to DBP and PNB. The mortgage loans and
receipts for loan payment issued by the two banks continued to
be in Mauricios name even after his death November 1973.
Simona passed away in 1977.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the deed of sale was void for lack of marital
consent.

RULING:

Art. 166. Unless the wife has been declared a non compos mentis
or a spendthrift, or is under civil interdiction or is confined in a
leprosarium, the husband cannot alienate or encumber any real
property of the conjugal partnership without the wife's consent. If
she refuses unreasonably to give her consent, the court may
compel her to grant the same.
This article shall not apply to property acquired by the conjugal
partnerships before the effective date of this Code.

Article 166 expressly applies only to properties acquired by the


conjugal partnership after the effectivity of the Civil Code of the
Philippines ("Civil Code"). The Civil Code came into force on 30
August 1950.1161 Although there is no dispute that the Properties
were conjugal properties of Mauricio and Simona, the records do
not show, and the parties did not stipulate, when the Properties
were acquired.1171 Under Article 1413 of the old Spanish Civil
Code, the husband could alienate conjugal partnership property
for valuable consideration without the wife's consent.1181
Even under the present Civil Code, however, the Deed of Sale is
not void. It is well-settled that contracts alienating conjugal real
property without the wife's consent are merely voidable under the
Civil Code - that is, binding on the parties unless annulled by a
competent court - and not void ab initial
Article 166 must be read in conjunction with Article 173 of the
Civil Code ("Article 173"). The latter prescribes certain conditions
before a sale of conjugal property can be annulled for lack of the
wife's consent, as follows:
Art. 173. The wife may, during the marriage and within ten years
from the transaction questioned, ask the courts for the annulment
of any contract of the husband entered into without her consent,
when such consent is required, or any act or contract of the
husband which tends to defraud her or impair her interest in the
conjugal partnership property. Should the wife fail to exercise this
right, she or her heirs after the dissolution of the marriage, may
demand the value of property fraudulently alienated by the
husband. (Emphasis supplied)
Under the Civil Code, only the wife can ask to annul a contract
that disposes of conjugal real property without her consent. The
wife must file the action for annulment during the marriage and
within ten years from the questioned transaction. Article 173 is
explicit on the remedies available if the wife fails to exercise this
right within the specified period. In such case, the wife or her heir;
can only demand the value of the property provided they prove
that the husband fraudulently alienated the property. Fraud is
never presumed, but must be established by clear and convincing
evidence.
11
G.R. No. 151867 January 29, 2004

DAVID B. DEDEL, Petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SHARON L. CORPUZ-DEDEL a.k.a.
JANE IBRAHIM, Respondents.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Oppositor-Respondent.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Petitioner David B. Dedel met respondent Sharon L. Corpuz Dedel


while he was working in the advertising business of his father. The
acquaintance led to courtship and romantic relations, culminating
in the exchange of marital vows before the City Court of Pasay on
September 28, 1966.1 The civil marriage was ratified in a church
wedding on May 20, 1967.2

The union produced four children, namely: Beverly Jane, born on


September 18, 1968;3 Stephanie Janice born on September 9,
1969;4 Kenneth David born on April 24, 1971; 5 and Ingrid born on
October 20, 1976.6 The conjugal partnership, nonetheless,
acquired neither property nor debt.

Petitioner avers that during the marriage, Sharon turned out to be


an irresponsible and immature wife and mother. She had extra-
marital affairs with several men: a dentist in the Armed Forces of
the Philippines; a Lieutenant in the Presidential Security
Command and later a Jordanian national.

Sharon was once confirmed in the Manila Medical City for


treatment by Dr. Lourdes Lapuz, a clinical psychiatrist. Petitioner
alleged that despite the treatment, Sharon did not stop her illicit
relationship with the Jordanian national named Mustafa Ibrahim,
whom she married and with whom she had two children.
However, when Mustafa Ibrahim left the country, Sharon returned
to petitioner bringing along her two children by Ibrahim. Petitioner
accepted her back and even considered the two illegitimate
children as his own. Thereafter, on December 9, 1995, Sharon
abandoned petitioner to join Ibrahim in Jordan with their two
children. Since then, Sharon would only return to the country on
special occasions.

Finally, giving up all hope of a reconciliation with Sharon,


petitioner filed on April 1, 1997 a petition seeking the declaration
of nullity of his marriage on the ground of psychological
incapacity, as defined in Article 36 of the Family Code, before the
Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 149. Summons was
effected by publication in the Pilipino Star Ngayon, a newspaper
of general circulation in the country considering that Sharon did
not reside and could not be found in the Philippines. 7

Petitioner presented Dr. Natividad A. Dayan, who testified that she


conducted a psychological evaluation of petitioner and found him
to be conscientious, hardworking, diligent, a perfectionist who
wants all tasks and projects completed up to the final detail and
who exerts his best in whatever he does.

On the other hand, Dr. Dayan declared that Sharon was suffering
from Anti-Social Personality Disorder exhibited by her blatant
display of infidelity; that she committed several indiscretions and
had no capacity for remorse, even bringing with her the two
children of Mustafa Ibrahim to live with petitioner. Such
immaturity and irresponsibility in handling the marriage like her
repeated acts of infidelity and abandonment of her family are
indications of Anti-Social Personality Disorder amounting to
psychological incapacity to perform the essential obligations of
marriage.8

After trial, judgment was rendered, the dispositive portion of


which reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the civil and church


marriages between DAVID B. DEDEL and SHARON L. CORPUZ
celebrated on September 28, 1966 and May 20, 1967 are hereby
declared null and void on the ground of psychological incapacity
on the part of the respondent to perform the essential obligations
of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code.

Accordingly, the conjugal partnership of gains existing between


the parties is dissolved and in lieu thereof a regime of complete
separation of property between the said spouses is established in
accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Family Code,
without prejudice to rights previously acquired by creditors.

Let a copy of this Decision be duly recorded in the proper civil and
property registries in accordance with Article 52 of the Family
Code.

SO ORDERED.9

Respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor


General, appealed alleging that

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION


DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF A VALID GROUND FOR
DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.

II

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE CHURCH


MARRIAGE BETWEEN PETITIONER IS NULL AND VOID.

III

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RENDERING A DECISION


WITHOUT A CERTIFICATION HAVING BEEN ISSUED BY THE
SOLICITOR GENERAL AS REQUIRED IN THE MOLINA CASE.

The Court of Appeals recalled and set aside the judgment of the
trial court and ordered dismissal of the petition for declaration of
nullity of marriage.10
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied in a Resolution
dated January 8, 2002.11 Hence, the instant petition.

Petitioner contends that the appellate court gravely abused its


discretion and manifestly erred in its conclusion that the: (1)
respondent was not suffering from psychological incapacity to
perform her marital obligations; (2) psychological incapacity of
respondent is not attended by gravity, juridical antecedence and
permanence or incurability; and (3) totality of evidence submitted
by the petitioner falls short to prove psychological incapacity
suffered by respondent.

The main question for resolution is whether or not the totality of


the evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding that
respondent is psychologically incapacitated. More specifically,
does the aberrant sexual behavior of respondent adverted to by
petitioner fall within the term "psychological incapacity?"

In Santos v. Court of Appeals,12 it was ruled:

x x x "psychological incapacity" should refer to no less than a


mental (not physical) incapacity that causes a party to be truly
incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly
must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage
which, as so expressed in Article 68 of the Family Code, include
their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect
and fidelity and render help and support. There is hardly any
doubt that the intendment of the law has been to confine the
meaning of "psychological incapacity" to the most serious cases
of personality disorders clearly demonstrative of an utter
insensitivity of inability to give meaning and significance to the
marriage. This psychological condition must exist at the time the
marriage is celebrated. The law does not evidently envision, upon
the other hand, an inability of the spouse to have sexual relations
with the other. This conclusion is implicit under Article 54 of the
Family Code which considers children conceived prior to the
judicial declaration of nullity of the void marriage to be
"legitimate."
The other forms of psychoses, if existing at the inception of
marriage, like the state of a party being of unsound mind or
concealment of drug addiction, habitual alcoholism,
homosexuality or lesbianism, merely renders the marriage
contract voidable pursuant to Article 46, Family Code. If drug
addiction, habitual alcoholism, lesbianism or homosexuality
should occur only during the marriage, they become mere
grounds for legal separation under Article 55 of the Family Code.
These provisions, however, do not necessarily preclude the
possibility of these various circumstances being themselves,
depending on the degree and severity of the disorder, indicia of
psychological incapacity.

Until further statutory and jurisprudential parameters are


established, every circumstance that may have some bearing on
the degree, extent and other conditions of that incapacity must,
in every case, be carefully examined and evaluated so that no
precipitate and indiscriminate nullity is peremptorily decreed. The
well-considered opinion of psychiatrists, psychologists and
persons with expertise in psychological disciplines might be
helpful or even desirable.13

The difficulty in resolving the problem lies in the fact that a


personality disorder is a very complex and elusive phenomenon
which defies easy analysis and definition. In this case,
respondents sexual infidelity can hardly qualify as being mentally
or psychically ill to such an extent that she could not have known
the obligations she was assuming, or knowing them, could not
have given a valid assumption thereof. 14 It appears that
respondents promiscuity did not exist prior to or at the inception
of the marriage. What is, in fact, disclosed by the records is a
blissful marital union at its celebration, later affirmed in church
rites, and which produced four children.

Respondents sexual infidelity or perversion and abandonment do


not by themselves constitute psychological incapacity within the
contemplation of the Family Code. Neither could her emotional
immaturity and irresponsibility be equated with psychological
incapacity.15 It must be shown that these acts are manifestations
of a disordered personality which make respondent completely
unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state,
not merely due to her youth, immaturity16 or sexual promiscuity.

At best, the circumstances relied upon by petitioner are grounds


for legal separation under Article 55 17 of the Family Code.
However, we pointed out in Marcos v. Marcos18 that Article 36 is
not to be equated with legal separation in which the grounds need
not be rooted in psychological incapacity but on physical violence,
moral pressure, civil interdiction, drug addiction, habitual
alcoholism, sexual infidelity, abandonment and the like. In short,
the evidence presented by petitioner refers only to grounds for
legal separation, not for declaring a marriage void.

We likewise agree with the Court of Appeals that the trial court
has no jurisdiction to dissolve the church marriage of petitioner
and respondent. The authority to do so is exclusively lodged with
the Ecclesiastical Court of the Roman Catholic Church.

All told, we find no cogent reason to disturb the ruling of the


appellate court.1wphi1 We cannot deny the grief, frustration and
even desperation of petitioner in his present situation.
Regrettably, there are circumstances, like in this case, where
neither law nor society can provide the specific answers to every
individual problem.19 While we sympathize with petitioners
marital predicament, our first and foremost duty is to apply the
law no matter how harsh it may be. 20

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. The


decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 60406, which
ordered the dismissal of Civil Case No. 97-467 before the Regional
Trial Court of Makati, Branch 149, is AFFIRMED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Panganiban, and Carpio, JJ., concur.


Azcuna, J., on official leave.

Footnotes
1
Exhibits F and F-3.
2
Exhibit F.
3
Exhibit H.
4
Exhibit I.
5
Exhibit J.
6
Exhibit K.
7
Exhibits D to D-3.
8
Exhibit L; Records pp. 57-78.
9
Rollo, p. 49; penned by Presiding Judge Josefina Guevarra-
Salonga (now an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals).
10
Rollo, pp. 33-44; per Associate Justice Conrado M. Vasquez,
Jr., with Associate Justices Martin S. Villarama, Jr. and Eliezer
R. Delos Santos, concurring.
11
Rollo, p. 45.
12
310 Phil. 21 (1995).
13
Id., at 40-41.
14
Republic v. Dagdag, G.R. No. 109975, 9 February 2001,
351 SCRA 425.
15
Pesca v. Pesca, G.R. No. 136921, 17 April 2001, 356 SCRA
588, 594.
16
Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, supra, pp. 87-88.
17
ART. 55. A petition for legal separation may be filed on
any of the following grounds:
(1) Repeated physical violence or grossly abusive
conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child
or a child of the petitioner;

(2) Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the


petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;

(3) Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the


petitioner, a common child, or a child of the petitioner,
to engage in prostitution, or connivance in such
corruption or inducement;

(4) Final judgment sentencing the respondent to


imprisonment of more than six years even if pardoned;

(5) Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism of the


respondent;

(6) Lesbianism or homosexuality of the respondent;

(7) Contracting by the respondent of a subsequent


bigamous marriage in the Philippines, whether in the
Philippines or abroad;

(8) Sexual infidelity or perversion.

(9) Attempt by the respondent against the life of the


petitioner; or

(10) Abandonment of petitioner by respondent without


justifiable cause for more than one year.

For purposes of this Article, the term child shall


include a child by nature or by adoption.
18
G.R. No. 136490, 19 October 2000, 343 SCRA 755, 765.
19
Santos v. Court of Appeals, supra, p. 36.
20
Pesca v. Pesca, supra.
Case Digest
FACTS:

David Debel met Sharon Corpuz while he was working in the


advertising business of his father. The acquaintance led to
courtship and romantic relations, culminating into marriage
before the City Court of Pasay on September 28, 1966. On May
20, 1967, the civil marriage was ratified in a church wedding. The
union produced four children. The petitioner avers that during the
marriage Sharon turned out to be an irresponsible and immature
wife and mother. She had an illicit affair with several men and
then later to a Jordanian national named Ibrahim. Sharon was
once confined for psychiatric treatment but she didnt stop her
illicit relationship with the Jordanian national whom she married
and whom she had two children. Ibrahim left Sharon so she
returned back to the petitioner who had accepted her back.
However on December 9, 1995, Sharon abandoned the petitioner
and joined Ibrahim in Jordan with their two children. After giving
up all hope for reconciliation, petitioner filed on April 1, 1997 a
petition seeking the declaration of nullity of his marriage on the
ground of psychological incapacity. The RTC granted the nullity of
the marriage. It was appealed in the CA which set aside the
decision of RTC and ordered dismissal of the case. Hence, the
instant petition was filed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUE:

Whether or not private respondents sexual infidelity or


perversion and abandonment fall within the term of psychological
incapacity.
RULING:

In this case private respondents sexual infidelity or perversion


and abandonment can hardly qualify as mental or psychological
illness to such extent that she could not have known the
obligation she was assuming. It appears that private respondents
promiscuity did not exist prior to or at the inception of the
marriage; in fact, the record disclosed that there was a blissful
marital union. It must be shown that the acts are a manifestation
of a disordered personality which makes respondent completely
unable to discharge the essential obligations of marital state, not
merely due to her youth, immaturity or sexual promiscuity.

12
G.R. No. 140500 January 21, 2002

ERNESTINA BERNABE, petitioner,


vs.
CAROLINA ALEJO as guardian ad litem for the minor
ADRIAN BERNABE, respondent.

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

The right to seek recognition granted by the Civil Code to


illegitimate children who were still minors at the time the Family
Code took effect cannot be impaired or taken away. The minors
have up to four years from attaining majority age within which to
file an action for recognition.

Statement of the Case


Before us is a Petition1 for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of
the Rules of Court, praying for (1) the nullification of the July 7,
1999 Court of Appeals2 (CA) Decision3 in CA-GR CV No. 51919 and
the October 14, 1999 CA Resolution 4 denying petitioners Motion
for Reconsideration, as well as (2) the reinstatement of the two
Orders issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City
(Branch 109) concerning the same case. The dispositive portion of
the assailed Decision reads as follows:

"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the order of the lower court


dismissing Civil Case No. 94-0562 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Let the records of this case be remanded to the lower court for
trial on the merits."5

The Facts

The undisputed facts are summarized by the Court of Appeals in


this wise:

"The late Fiscal Ernesto A. Bernabe allegedly fathered a son with


his secretary of twenty-three (23) years, herein plaintiff-appellant
Carolina Alejo. The son was born on September 18, 1981 and was
named Adrian Bernabe. Fiscal Bernabe died on August 13, 1993,
while his wife Rosalina died on December 3 of the same year,
leaving Ernestina as the sole surviving heir.

"On May 16, 1994, Carolina, in behalf of Adrian, filed the aforesaid
complaint praying that Adrian be declared an acknowledged
illegitimate son of Fiscal Bernabe and as such he (Adrian) be given
his share in Fiscal Bernabes estate, which is now being held by
Ernestina as the sole surviving heir.

"On July 16, 1995, the Regional Trial Court dismissed the
complaint, ruling that under the provisions of the Family Code as
well as the case of Uyguangco vs. Court of Appeals, the complaint
is now barred x x x."6

Orders of the Trial Court


In an Order dated July 26, 1995, the trial court granted Ernestina
Bernabes Motion for Reconsideration of the trial courts Decision
and ordered the dismissal of the Complaint for recognition. Citing
Article 175 of the Family Code, the RTC held that the death of the
putative father had barred the action.

In its Order dated October 6, 1995, the trial court added that
since the putative father had not acknowledged or recognized
Adrian Bernabe in writing, the action for recognition should have
been filed during the lifetime of the alleged father to give him the
opportunity to either affirm or deny the childs filiation.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On the other hand, the Court of Appeals ruled that in the interest
of justice, Adrian should be allowed to prove that he was the
illegitimate son of Fiscal Bernabe. Because the boy was born in
1981, his rights are governed by Article 285 of the Civil Code,
which allows an action for recognition to be filed within four years
after the child has attained the age of majority. The subsequent
enactment of the Family Code did not take away that right.

Hence, this appeal.7

Issues

In her Memorandum,8 petitioner raises the following issues for our


consideration:

"Whether or not respondent has a cause of action to file a case


against petitioner, the legitimate daughter of the putative father,
for recognition and partition with accounting after the putative
fathers death in the absence of any written acknowledgment of
paternity by the latter.

II

"Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals erred in ruling


that respondents had four years from the attainment of minority
to file an action for recognition as provided in Art. 285 of the Civil
Code, in complete disregard of its repeal by the [express]
provisions of the Family Code and the applicable jurisprudence as
held by the Honorable Court of Appeals.

III

"Whether or not the petition for certiorari filed by the petition[er]


is fatally defective for failure to implead the Court of Appeals as
one of the respondents."9

The Courts Ruling

The Petition has no merit.

First and Second Issues: Period to File Action for Recognition

Because the first and the second issues are interrelated, we shall
discuss them jointly.

Petitioner contends that respondent is barred from filing an action


for recognition, because Article 285 of the Civil Code has been
supplanted by the provisions of the Family Code. She argues that
the latter Code should be given retroactive effect, since no vested
right would be impaired. We do not agree.

Article 285 of the Civil Code provides the period for filing an
action for recognition as follows:

"ART. 285. The action for the recognition of natural children may
be brought only during the lifetime of the presumed parents,
except in the following cases:

(1) If the father or mother died during the minority of the


child, in which case the latter may file the action before the
expiration of four years from the attainment of his majority;

(2) If after the death of the father or of the mother a


document should appear of which nothing had been heard
and in which either or both parents recognize the child.
"In this case, the action must be commenced within four years
from the finding of the document."

The two exceptions provided under the foregoing provision, have


however been omitted by Articles 172, 173 and 175 of the Family
Code, which we quote:

"ART. 172. The filiation of legitimate children is established by any


of the following:

(1) The record of birth appearing in the civil register or a final


judgment; or

(2) An admission of legitimate filiation in a public document


or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the
parent concerned.

"In the absence of the foregoing evidence, the legitimate filiation


shall be proved by:

(1) The open and continuous possession of the status of a


legitimate child; or

(2) Any other means allowed by the Rules of Court and


special laws."

"ART. 173. The action to claim legitimacy may be brought by the


child during his or her lifetime and shall be transmitted to the
heirs should the child die during minority or in a state of insanity.
In these cases, the heirs shall have a period of five years within
which to institute the action.

"The action already commenced by the child shall survive


notwithstanding the death of either or both of the parties."

"ART. 175. Illegitimate children may establish their illegitimate


filiation in the same way and on the same, evidence as legitimate
children.

"The action must be brought within the same period specified in


Article 173, except when the action is based on the second
paragraph of Article 172, in which case the action may be brought
during the lifetime of the alleged parent."

Under the new law, an action for the recognition of an illegitimate


child must be brought within the lifetime of the alleged parent.
The Family Code makes no distinction on whether the former was
still a minor when the latter died. Thus, the putative parent is
given by the new Code a chance to dispute the claim, considering
that "illegitimate children are usually begotten and raised in
secrecy and without the legitimate family being aware of their
existence. x x x The putative parent should thus be given the
opportunity to affirm or deny the childs filiation, and this, he or
she cannot do if he or she is already dead." 10

Nonetheless, the Family Code provides the caveat that rights that
have already vested prior to its enactment should not be
prejudiced or impaired as follows:

"ART. 255. This Code shall have retroactive effect insofar as it


does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in
accordance with the Civil Code or other laws."

The crucial issue to be resolved therefore is whether Adrians right


to an action for recognition, which was granted by Article 285 of
the Civil Code, had already vested prior to the enactment of the
Family Code. Our answer is affirmative.

A vested right is defined as "one which is absolute, complete and


unconditional, to the exercise of which no obstacle exists, and
which is immediate and perfect in itself and not dependent upon
a contingency x x x."11Respondent however contends that the
filing of an action for recognition is procedural in nature and that
"as a general rule, no vested right may attach to [or] arise from
procedural laws."12

Bustos v. Lucero13 distinguished substantive from procedural law


in these words:

"x x x. Substantive law creates substantive rights and the two


terms in this respect may be said to be synonymous. Substantive
rights is a term which includes those rights which one enjoys
under the legal system prior to the disturbance of normal
relations. Substantive law is that part of the law which creates,
defines and regulates rights, or which regulates the rights and
duties which give rise to a cause of action; that part of the law
which courts are established to administer; as opposed to
adjective or remedial law, which prescribes the method of
enforcing rights or obtains redress for their invasion." 14 (Citations
omitted)

Recently, in Fabian v. Desierto,15 the Court laid down the test for
determining whether a rule is procedural or substantive:

"[I]n determining whether a rule prescribed by the Supreme


Court, for the practice and procedure of the lower courts,
abridges, enlarges, or modifies any substantive right, the test is
whether the rule really regulates procedure, that is, the judicial
process for enforcing rights and duties recognized by substantive
law and for justly administering remedy and redress for a
disregard or infraction of them. If the rule takes away a vested
right, it is not procedural. If the rule creates a right such as the
right to appeal, it may be classified as a substantive matter; but if
it operates as a means of implementing an existing right then the
rule deals merely with procedure."16

Applying the foregoing jurisprudence, we hold that Article 285 of


the Civil Code is a substantive law, as it gives Adrian the right to
file his petition for recognition within four years from attaining
majority age. Therefore, the Family Code cannot impair or take
Adrians right to file an action for recognition, because that right
had already vested prior to its enactment.

Uyguangco v. Court of Appeals17 is not applicable to the case at


bar, because the plaintiff therein sought recognition as an
illegitimate child when he was no longer a minor. On the other
hand, in Aruego Jr. v. Court of Appeals 18 the Court ruled that an
action for recognition filed while the Civil Code was in effect
should not be affected by the subsequent enactment of the
Family Code, because the right had already vested.
Not Limited to Natural Children

To be sure, Article 285 of the Civil Code refers to the action for
recognition of "natural" children. Thus, petitioner contends that
the provision cannot be availed of by respondent, because at the
time of his conception, his parents were impeded from marrying
each other. In other words, he is not a natural child.

A "natural child" is one whose parents, at the time of conception,


were not disqualified by any legal impediment from marrying
each other. Thus, in De Santos v. Angeles,19 the Court explained:

"A childs parents should not have been disqualified to marry each
other at the time of conception for him to qualify as a natural
child."20

A strict and literal interpretation of Article 285 has already been


frowned upon by this Court in the aforesaid case of Aruego, which
allowed minors to file a case for recognition even if their parents
were disqualified from marrying each other. There, the Complaint
averred that the late Jose Aruego Sr., a married man, had an
extramarital liason with Luz Fabian. Out of this relationship were
born two illegitimate children who in 1983 filed an action for
recognition. The two children were born in 1962 and 1963, while
the alleged putative father died in 1982. In short, at the time of
their conception, the two childrens parents were legally
disqualified from marrying each other. The Court allowed the
Complaint to prosper, even though it had been filed almost a year
after the death of the presumed father. At the time of his death,
both children were still minors.

Moreover, in the earlier case Divinagracia v. Rovira,21 the Court


said that the rules on voluntary and compulsory acknowledgment
of natural children, as well as the prescriptive period for filing
such action, may likewise be applied to spurious children.
Pertinent portions of the case are quoted hereunder:

"The so-called spurious children, or illegitimate children other


than natural children, commonly known as bastards, include those
adulterous children or those born out of wedlock to a married
woman cohabiting with a man other than her husband or to a
married man cohabiting with a woman other than his wife. They
are entitled to support and successional rights. But their filiation
must be duly proven.

"How should their filiation be proven? Article 289 of the Civil Code
allows the investigation of the paternity or maternity or spurious
children under the circumstances specified in articles 283 and 284
of the Civil Code. The implication is that the rules on compulsory
recognition of natural children are applicable to spurious children.

"Spurious children should not be in a better position than natural


children. The rules on proof of filiation of natural children or the
rules on voluntary and compulsory acknowledgment for natural
children may be applied to spurious children.

"That does not mean that spurious children should be


acknowledged, as that term is used with respect to natural
children. What is simply meant is that the grounds or instances
for the acknowledgment of natural children are utilized to
establish the filiation of spurious children.

"A spurious child may prove his filiation by means of a record of


birth, a will, a statement before a court of record, or in any
authentic writing. These are the modes of voluntary recognition of
natural children.

"In case there is no evidence on the voluntary recognition of the


spurious child, then his filiation may be established by means of
the circumstances or grounds for compulsory recognition
prescribed in the aforementioned articles 283 and 284.

"The prescriptive period for filing the action for compulsory


recognition in the case of natural children, as provided for in
article 285 of the Civil Code, applies to spurious
children."22 (Citations omitted, italics supplied)

Thus, under the Civil Code, natural children have superior


successional rights over spurious ones. 23 However,Rovira treats
them as equals with respect to other rights, including the right to
recognition granted by Article 285.

To emphasize, illegitimate children who were still minors at the


time the Family Code took effect and whose putative parent died
during their minority are thus given the right to seek recognition
(under Article 285 of the Civil Code) for a period of up to four
years from attaining majority age. This vested right was not
impaired or taken away by the passage of the Family Code.

Indeed, our overriding consideration is to protect the vested rights


of minors who could not have filed suit, on their own, during the
lifetime of their putative parents. As respondent aptly points out
in his Memorandum,24 the State as parens patriae should protect
a minors right. Born in 1981, Adrian was only seven years old
when the Family Code took effect and only twelve when his
alleged father died in 1993. The minor must be given his day in
court.

Third Issue: Failure to Implead the CA

Under Section 4(a) of Rule 45 of the current Rules of Court, it is


no longer required to implead "the lower courts or judges x x x
either as petitioners or respondents." Under Section 3, however,
the lower tribunal should still be furnished a copy of the petition.
Hence, the failure of petitioner to implead the Court of Appeals as
a party is not a reversible error; it is in fact the correct procedure.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed


Decision and Resolution AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Melo, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio, JJ., concur.


Vitug, J., no part. Relationship with family.

Footnotes
1
Rollo, pp. 3-14. The Petition was signed by Atty. Wenceslao
B. Trinidad.
2
Special First Division; penned by J. Jesus M. Elbinias
(presiding justice and Division chairman); concurred in
by JJ Delilah Vidallon Magtolis and Edgardo P. Cruz
(members).
3
Rollo, pp. 33-37.
4
Rollo, p. 18. J. Andres B. Reyes Jr. signed for J. Magtolis who
was on leave.
5
Assailed Decision, p. 5; Rollo, p. 37.
6
Assailed Decision, pp. 1-2; Rollo, pp. 33-34.
7
This case was deemed submitted for decision on August 16,
2000, upon this Courts receipt of petitioners Memorandum
signed by Atty. Jose Allan M. Tebelin. Respondents
Memorandum, signed by Attys. Felix D. Carao Jr. and R.A.V.
Saguisag, was received by this Court on August 14, 2000.
8
Rollo, pp. 103-116; original underscored and in upper case.
9
Memorandum for petitioner, p. 4; Rollo, p. 106.
10
Alicia V. Sempio-Diy, Handbook on the Family Code (1995
ed.), p. 282.
11
Reyes v. Commission on Audit, 305 SCRA 512, 518, March
29, 1999, per Pardo, J.
12
Medina Investigation & Security Corporation v. Court of
Appeals, GR No. 144074, March 20, 2001, per Gonzaga-
Reyes, J.
13
81 Phil. 648, March 8, 1949.
14
Ibid., pp. 649-650, per Tuason, J.
15
295 SCRA 470, 492, September 16, 1998.
16
Ibid., p. 492, per Regalado, J.
17
178 SCRA 684, October 26, 1989.
18
254 SCRA 711, March 13, 1996.
19
251 SCRA 206, December 12, 1995.
20
Ibid., p. 212, per Romero, J.
21
72 SCRA 307, August 10, 1976.
22
Ibid., pp. 314-315, per Aquino, J. (later CJ).
23
Cf. Jose C. Vitug, Compendium of Civil Law and
Jurisprudence, (1993 rev. ed.), p.218.
24
Pages 12-15.

Case Digest
FACTS:

The late Fiscal Ernesto Bernabe allegedly fathered a son with his
secretary Carolina Alejo and was named Adrian Bernabe who was
born on September 18, 1981. After Ernesto Bernabe and Rosalina,
his legal wife died, the only heir left is Erestina. Carolina, in behalf
of Adrian, filed a complaint praying that Adrian be declared an
acknowledged illegitimate son of Fiscal Bernabe and be given a
share of his fathers estate.
ISSUE:

Whether or not Adrian Bernabe may be declared an


acknowledged illegitimate son.

RULING:

Under the new law, an action for the recognition of an illegitimate


child must be brought within the lifetime of the alleged parent.
The Family Code makes no distinction on whether the former was
still a minor when the latter died. Thus, the putative parent is
given by the new code a chance to dispute the claim, considering
that illegitimate children are usually begotten and raised in
secrecy and without the legitimate family being aware of their
existence.

13
G. R. No. 155320 February 5, 2004
RENATO F. HERRERA, petitioner
vs.
PLARIDEL ELMER J. BOHOL, respondent.

DECISION

PUNO, J.:

Before us is a petition for review under Rule 45 assailing the


Decision dated March 15, 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 638731 which affirmed the decision of the Ombudsman in
OMB-ADM-0-99-00272finding petitioner guilty of simple
misconduct and suspending him for one (1) month without pay as
well as its Resolution dated September 19, 2002 which denied
petitioners motion for reconsideration.

Petitioner Renato F. Herrera was a former Director III at the


Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Central Office, now DAR
Regional Director at San Fernando, Pampanga. He approved in
January 1997 a request for shift of item number of respondent
Plaridel Elmer J. Bohol, Senior Agrarian Reform Program Officer at
the Bureau of Agrarian Reform Information and Education (BARIE)
of the DAR, from Item 577-1 of Fund 108 to 562-3 of Fund 101.
Respondent then drew his salary under Fund 101 until April 17,
1997 when he was informed by the Department Cashier that he
may no longer draw his salary thereunder because his item had
been recalled and given to one Gregoria Ancheta. Respondent
protested to petitioner but the latter referred him to BARIE
Director Sharon Joy Berlin-Chao, respondents immediate
supervisor, who allegedly was the one who caused the recall.
Respondent subsequently charged the petitioner in the Office of
the Ombudsman with Grave Misconduct for allegedly giving
unwarranted benefit to Gregoria Ancheta and/or Inefficiency and
Incompetence for illegally recalling his item.

On June 11, 1999 the Ombudsman rendered a decision, 3 the


dispositive portion of which reads

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Office finds respondent


RENATO F. HERRERA guilty of Simple Misconduct and is hereby
meted the penalty of Suspension for One (1) Month Without Pay
to take effect immediately upon receipt of this Decision by the
respondent, the same being final and executory in accordance
with Sections 7 and 10 of Administrative Order No. 07, in relation
to Section 25 (sic) of Republic Act No. 6770.

Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals contending that the


decision of the Ombudsman was premature, and contesting some
of its factual findings. The Court of Appeals denied the appeal. 4 It
ruled that the questioned decision of the Ombudsman is
unappealable citing Lapid v. Court of Appeals.5 It also
debunked petitioners defense of prematurity and his claim that
he did not fail to take measures to correct respondents recall.
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied in the
Resolution dated September 19, 2002.6

In this petition for review, petitioner contends: First, that the


penalty imposed upon him by the Ombudsman, that is,
suspension for one (1) month without pay, is appealable because
it is not among those enumerated as final and unappealable
under Sec. 27 of Republic Act No. 6770, otherwise known as The
Ombudsman Act of 1989,viz:

x x x Any order, directive or decision imposing the penalty of


public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one
months salary shall be final and unappealable. x x x

Petitioner insists that "suspension for one (1) month without pay"
imposed upon him by the Ombudsman, and "suspension of not
more than one months salary" stated in the above law are
different. To support his argument, petitioner cites the following
excerpt from Lapid v. Court of Appeals7 -

It is clear from the above provisions that the punishment imposed


upon petitioner, i.e., suspension without pay for one month, is not
among those listed as final and unappealable x x x x
(underscoring ours)

Second, petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in


affirming the finding of the Ombudsman that respondent was not
informed beforehand of the recall of his item, and that petitioner
did not take any corrective measure to address respondents
complaint. Petitioner insists that he was assured by BARIE
Director Chao that she had informed respondent of the impending
recall of his item as proven by Director Chaos letter to him dated
March 12, 1997.8 In addition, he claims he immediately directed
Director Chao to act on the problem through the BARIE Local
Selection Board after respondent and his lawyer wrote to him
protesting the recall.

Third, petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in


finding him guilty of misconduct despite lack of proof that he
acted deliberately and with evil intent. 9

We deny the appeal.

In enumerating the penalties which are final and unappealable,


Sec. 27 of R.A. No. 6770 states: "[a]ny order, directive or decision
imposing the penalty of public censure, reprimand, suspension
of not more than one months salary shall be final and
unappealable." We hold that the phrase "suspension of not more
than one months salary includes that imposed upon petitioner,
i.e., suspension for one month without pay. There is no penalty as
suspension of salary in our administrative law, rules and
regulations. Salaries are simply not suspended. Rather it is the
official or employee concerned who is suspended with a
corresponding withholding of salaries following the principle of
"no work, no pay." Or, an official or employee may be fined an
amount equivalent to his or her monthly salary as penalty without
an accompanying suspension from work.

In truth, the Office of the Ombudsman, pursuant to its authority to


promulgate rules to implement R.A. No. 6770, has clarified this
ambiguity of its Sec. 27. Sec. 7, Rule III of its Rules of Procedure,
Administrative Order No. 7, provides, viz:

Where the respondent is absolved of the charge, and in case of


conviction where the penalty imposed is public censure or
reprimand, suspension of not more than one month, or a fine
equivalent to one month salary, the decision shall be final and
unappealable x x x x (underscoring ours)

The cited excerpt in the Lapid decision that "the punishment


imposed upon petitioner, i.e., suspension without pay for one
month, is not among those listed as final and unappealable" is of
no comfort to the petitioner. A reading of the decision will show
that the penalty imposed upon the petitioner therein, Gov. Manuel
M. Lapid of Pampanga, was not suspension for one month but
suspension for one year. In fact, in the statement immediately
preceding the dispositive portion of the decision, the Court, after
applying Sec. 27 of R.A. No. 6770 and Sec. 7, Rule III of the Rules
of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, ruled that "the
decision imposing a penalty of one year suspension without pay
on petitioner Lapid is not immediately executory."

Indeed, in the later case of Lopez v. Court of Appeals,10 the Court,


again citing Sec. 27 of R.A. No. 6770, Sec. 7, Rule III of the Rules
of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman and Lapid v. Court
of Appeals, reiterated that decisions of the Ombudsman in
administrative cases imposing the penalty of public censure,
reprimand, or suspension of not more than one month, or a fine
equivalent to one month salary shall be final and unappealable.
The penalty imposed upon herein petitioner being suspension for
one month without pay, we hold the same final and unappealable,
as correctly ruled by the Court of Appeals.

We shall refrain from delving into the merits of petitioners other


contentions as they present factual issues not reviewable on
appeal via certiorari.11 This Court has always accorded due
respect and weight to the factual findings of the Office of the
Ombudsman12 especially when such findings have been affirmed
by the Court of Appeals, as in the instant case.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is DENIED. The questioned


Decision dated March 15, 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 63873 as well as its Resolution dated September 9, 2002
denying petitioners motion for reconsideration are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1
Entitled "Renato F. Herrera, Director III, Department of
Agrarian Reform v. Plaridel Elmer J. Bohol."
2
Entitled "Plaridel Elmer J. Bohol v. Renato F. Herrera,
Director III, Department of Agrarian Reform."
3
Rollo, pp. 58-64; Original Record, pp. 0121-0127.
4
Decision dated March 15, 2002; Rollo, pp. 84-91.
5
334 SCRA 738 (2000).
6
Id., p. 103.
7
Supra, note 5.
8
Rollo, p. 73.
9
U.P. v. Civil Service Commission, 228 SCRA 207, 213 (1993).
10
389 SCRA 570 (2002).
11
Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Leobreba, 375 SCRA 81,
87 (2002); Reyes, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 374 SCRA 86, 92
(2002).
12
Young v. Office of the Ombudsman, 228 SCRA 718, 722
(1993).
Case Digest
FACTS:

Renato F. Herrera, former Director III at DAR Central Office,


approved the request for shift of item number of Plaridel Elmer J.
Bohol, a Senior Agrarian Reform officer at the BARIE. The shift or
item number from 577-1 of Fund 108 to 562-3 of Fund 101
resulted to Bohol ontaining his salary under Fund 101. When
Bohol was informed that he could not draw his salary under such
item anymore because his item was recalled and was given to
another person, he charged Herrera before the Office of the
Ombudsman, with Grave Misconduct and/or Inefficiency and
Incompetence. The Ombudsman found Renato Herrera guilty of
simple misconduct and was suspended for one month without
pay. Such decision was contested by Herrera and he even
appealed to the CA on the ground that he did not fail to take
measures to correct respondents recall; but, such petition was
just denied by the CA.A petition for review was raised to the SC
stressing that one month suspension, as stated in the
Ombudsman Act of 1998, is appealable considering that it is not
among those enumerated as final and unappealable.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the provision in R.A. No. 6770, otherwise known as


the Ombudsman Act of 1998, providing suspension of not more
than one months salary is final and unappealable.

RULING:

Sec. 27 of RA No. 6770 states that: any order, directive or


decision imposing the penalty of public censure, reprimand,
suspension of not more than one months salary shall be final and
unappealable
Salary suspension is an effect of work suspension following the
no work, no pay principle. It will be the employee concerned
who will be suspended and such suspension without pay,being
final, and unappealable, is clearly expressed the law. RA No. 6770,
therefore, is a legal and clear basis of denying the petitioners
appeal.

14
G.R. No. 154499 March 14, 2003

ALBERTO V. REYES, WILFREDO B. DOMO-ONG, and


HERMINIO C. PRINCIPIO, petitioners,
vs.
RURAL BANK OF SAN MIGUEL (BULACAN), INC.,
represented by HILARIO P. SORIANO, President and
Principal Stockholder, respondent.

Mendoza, J.:

Petitioners are officials of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). At


the time material to this case, Alberto V. Reyes was Deputy
Governor and Head of the Supervision and Examination Sector
(SES), Wilfredo B. Domo-ong was Director of the Department of
Rural Banks (DRB), while Herminio Principio was an Examiner of
the DRB. They filed this petition for review on certiorari of the
decision1 of the Court of Appeals which found them
administratively liable for unprofessionalism under the Code of
Conduct and Ethical Standards on Public Officials and Employees
and imposed upon each of them a fine equivalent to six months of
their salaries.

The case arose from a letter, 2 dated May 19, 1999, which
respondent Rural Bank of San Miguel (Bulacan), Inc. (RBSMI) sent
to then BSP Governor Gabriel Singson. In its letter, RBSMI charged
petitioners with violations of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act) and Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of
Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).
The Monetary Board of the BSP created a committee to
investigate the matter.

The ensuing investigation revealed that RBSMI had had a history


of major violations/exceptions dating back to 1995. The Report of
Examination3 on RBSMI as of July 31, 1995, submitted by BSP
Examiner Danilo J. Castillo, cited 10 major exceptions/violations
and deficiencies of RBSMI, for which reason the latter was
directed to immediately desist from conducting business in an
unsound and unsafe manner. On March 15, 1996, RBSMI
undertook to take corrective measures and/or comply with the
instructions/recommendations of the BSP. 4

In 1996, RBSMI was again examined. The examination team was


led by petitioner Principio who, in a "Report of Examination 5 on
RBSMI as of September 15, 1996," noted 20 serious
exceptions/violations and deficiencies of RBSMI. On January 9,
1997, upon her request, Rose Ilagan, an RBSMI director, was given
a copy of the list of exceptions/deficiencies found by petitioner
Principio. Ms. Ilagan, however, in a sworn affidavit, 6 dated August
10, 1999, claimed that the copy she was given was unreadable,
"making it impossible for RBSMI to immediately react to said list
of exceptions."

The exit conference on the September 1996 General Examination


on RBSMI was originally scheduled on January 13, 1997, but on
that date, RBSMIs Legal Counsel and Corporate Secretary
requested a rescheduling of the conference "to allow RBSMI to
review the findings/ exceptions and thereafter, prepare their
comments/observations on the same." 7 In a letter, dated January
14, 1997, petitioner Domo-ong granted the request and the
conference was reset to January 21, 1997.

It is claimed that the board of RBSMI discussed the exceptions


noted in the list given to them on January 21, 1997, but as the
copy sent to them was unreadable, "it was unable to understand
many exceptions." As the members of the board were furnished
clear copies only during the exit conference, RBSMI asked for 30
days within which to submit its answer to the exceptions.

Meanwhile, an advance copy of the report of petitioner Principio


was submitted to the Monetary Board (MB) after review of said
report by petitioner Domo-ong. The report, which was dated
January 23, 1997, was signed by petitioner Reyes and submitted
to the MB on January 27, 1997. Acting on this memorandum, the
MB issued Resolution No. 968 requiring RBSMI to explain in writing
within 15 days the findings of the examiner. It also directed the
DRB to verify, monitor, and report to the Deputy Governor,
petitioner Reyes, the findings/exceptions noted until the same had
been corrected.

On February 26, 1997, RBSMI submitted its comments on the


exceptions/deficiencies/findings noted by petitioners in a paper
entitled "Concurrence, Corrections and Comments on the
Exceptions, Deficiencies and Recommendations of BSP in its
General Examination of RBSMIs Books of Accounts as of
September 15, 1996 as contained in the Report of Examiner
Herminio C. Principio, dated December 23, 1996, initially
discussed on January 21, 1997."9

Pursuant to the MBs directive in Resolution No. 96, another


examination team conducted a special examination on RBSMI
from March 4, 1997 to March 26, 1997, with February 28, 1997 as
the cut-off date of examination. The special examination team,
headed by petitioner Principio and assisted by Ms. Carmelita
Reyes, was introduced to RBSMI through a letter of petitioner
Domo-ong dated February 14, 1997.

RBSMI president Hilario Soriano claims that he was pressured on


March 4, 1997 into issuing a memorandum to the bank employees
authorizing petitioner Principio and Ms. Reyes to review the
banks accounting and internal control system. He likewise claims
that sometime in March 1997, petitioner Reyes urged him
(Soriano) to consider selling the bank. Soriano says that on or
about May 28, 1997, Soriano, through a telephone introduction
made by petitioner Reyes the day before, met with Exequiel
Villacorta, President and Chief Executive Officer of TA Bank. In his
sworn affidavit,10 Villacorta confirmed that he and Soriano indeed
met to discuss a possible corporate combination of RBSMI and TA
Bank. The talks between TA Bank and RBSMI never got past the
exploratory stage. Their discussions were cut short as Soriano
wanted a "sell-out," while Villacorta was interested in a "buy-in."

Soriano continues: Around the last week of May, petitioner Reyes


asked him (Soriano) whether he wanted another buyer. When told
that he did, petitioner Reyes introduced Soriano by telephone to
Benjamin P. Castillo of the Export and Industry Bank (EIB). Hence,
he and Castillo met on June 26, 1997, but their talks ended then
and there because, as per his affidavit11 dated July 12, 1999,
Castillo alleged that Soriano insisted on an RBSMI sell-out while
he wanted a mere EIB buy-in and take-over of the management.

Meanwhile, on June 13, 1997, the MB approved Resolution No.


72412 noting the Report on the examination of RBSMI submitted
by petitioner Domo-ong. The MB confirmed the steps taken or to
be taken by the DRB. It also ordered RBSMI to correct the major
exceptions noted within 30 days from receipt of the advice and to
remit to the BSP the amount of P2,538,483.00 as fines and
penalties for incurring deficiencies in reserves against deposit
liabilities.

In accordance with the MB resolution, petitioner Domo-ong wrote


the bank on June 25, 1997, informing it of the prescriptions of the
resolution. On July 21, 1997, Soriano submitted RBSMIs answers
to the BSP exceptions/findings mentioned. Soriano said in the
letter that "the actions taken or to be taken by the bank (RBSMI)
were deliberated and ratified by the Board of Directors in its
regular meeting held on July 9, 1997." With regard to the fines
and penalties amounting to P2,538,483.00, RBSMI requested the
director of the DRB to debit its demand deposit with the amount. 13

On September 22, 1997, nearly six months after MB Resolution


No. 96 had been issued, RBSMI wrote petitioner Domo-ong
seeking clarification of two specific issues:

1. May the scope/coverage of monitoring be expanded as to


include verifications of bank transactions, before and beyond
the cut-off date of the general examinations as of September
15, 1996? If so, to what extent?

2. Was there no pre-empting of the Monetary Board directive


which was approved under Resolution No. 96 dated January
29, 1997?14

In a letter, dated November 13, 1997, petitioner Domo-ong


explained that "DRBs monitoring of the extent of corrective
measures must necessarily cover bank transactions after the
examination cut-off date to be assured that the same exceptions
have not been repeated." As to the second issue, he explained
that "there was no pre-empting of the MB directive as it was
approved on January 29, 1997, way ahead of the initial monitoring
which was undertaken from March 4 to 26, 1997 with a cut-off
date of February 26, 1997." In conclusion, petitioner Domo-ong
said that "considering that monitoring in this regard simply
means overseeing, observing or keeping track of the corrective
measures being made by the bank on the serious
findings/exceptions noted, we do not see any reason for your
apprehensions on the matter. As soon as said findings/exceptions
have been fully corrected, then the DRB can immediately
recommend the lifting of said monitoring."15

Meanwhile, petitioner Principio allegedly requested RBSMI on


October 6, 1997 to authorize him and a new BSP examiner, Ms.
Zeny Cabais, to visit the bank from time to time to review
accounting and control systems. This was before a letter of
introduction, dated October 10, 1997, was issued by DRB
introducing the new examination team of petitioner Principio and
Ms. Cabais. The letter of instruction stated that both examiners
were authorized, pursuant to MB Resolution No. 96, to verify and
monitor the corrective measures taken by RBSMI on the
findings/exceptions noted in the general examination of
September 15, 1996.

When petitioner Principio presented the letter to Ms. Ilagan on


October 22, 1997, the latter allegedly asked for a specification of
the scope of his examination. However, Ms. Ilagan claimed in her
sworn affidavit that on October 22, 1997 Soriano asked petitioner
Principio to make a formal request for the records which he
wanted to examine in order to avoid confusion. Nevertheless,
Soriano subsequently allowed petitioner Principio to conduct the
examination without the formal request.

Soriano claims that sometime in November 1997, he accidentally


met petitioner Reyes who allegedly told him to sell out or RBSMI
would suffer a bank run and it would be placed under
conservatorship. Early that month, the Monetary Board issued
Resolution No. 1473,16 dated November 5, 1997, ordering the
continuous verification/monitoring of RBSMI until the major
exceptions were substantially corrected. It likewise warned the
officers of the bank that unless they ceased from conducting
business in such an unsafe and unsound manner, drastic actions
might be taken against the bank, including the take-over of
management without prejudice to the prosecution of parties
responsible pursuant to 36 of R.A. No. 7653.

The action of the MB was followed on March 20, 1998 by the MBs
notation of DRBs report on the corrective measures taken by
complainant on the serious findings/exceptions in the September
15, 1996 General Examination. However, as there were some
major and/or serious exceptions/findings which remained
uncorrected, the MB again ordered its DRB to continue the
verification/monitoring of RBSMI until the exceptions/findings
were fully corrected.

In another development, the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO)


issued a memorandum,17 dated April 6, 1998, to all of its
collection officers enjoining them not to accept RBSMI checks
from customers and other payees of bills, service deposit, and
other payments until further advice from the Treasury. MERALCO
thought that RBSMI had declared a "bank holiday." The next day
(April 7, 1998), MERALCO issued another memorandum 18 to its
collection officers, informing them that RBSMIs alleged bank
holiday was not true and instructing them to accept RBSMI checks
from customers and other payees. This was after the BSP had
denied the news of pending RBSMI bank holiday. On the same
date, MERALCO issued a letter of apology to RBSMI Chairman Atty.
Sedfrey A. Ordoez.
Thereafter, more than one year after authorizing the BSP to debit
its demand deposit up to the extent of the fines and penalties
imposed by BSP, RBSMI, through its counsel Atty. Rene Saguisag,
in a letter,19 dated November 4, 1998, appealed to the MB to
reverse the imposition of the P2.5 million penalty on the ground
that "no Board Resolution [had been] adopted to authorize the
debit in the Demand Deposit maintained by the bank with the
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas."

RBSMI reiterated its request for the reversal of the imposition of


penalty in another letter. 20 Atty. Saguisag said that "as for the
letter of Mr. Hilario requesting the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to
debit the account of our client, I would like to state that, at that
time, he was under a state of extreme pressure to sell the bank at
an unreasonably low price, hence, the reason for the said
measure of desperation." The aforesaid letters of Atty. Saguisag
were answered by the BSP in its letter 21 dated November 18,
1998, explaining to Atty. Saguisag the bases for BSPs imposition
of the penalty on RBSMI.

On January 21, 1999, the MB, through Resolution No. 71,


authorized the conditional reversal of sixty percent (60%) of the
penalty debited against RBSMI pending resolution of the dispute
on the findings on reserve deficiency. The conditional reversal was
communicated to RBSMI by petitioner Reyes through a letter,
dated February 8, 1999. In a letter, dated March 29, 1999, RBSMI
agreed to "the interim reversal of the penalty, such that said P2.5
million will be credited to RBSMI, without prejudice to the outcome
of the legal study regarding the propriety of the imposition of the
penalty." Later, on April 7, 1999, the MB approved the interim
reversal of the entire amount of the penalty "pending the
outcome of the study on the legal and factual basis for the
imposition of the penalty." Accordingly, the BSP credited RBSMIs
demand deposit account to the extent of the remaining forty
percent (40%) of the penalty.

On February 3, 1999, Atty. Sedfrey A. Ordoez, RBSMI Chairman,


and Soriano wrote the MB regarding the release of the remaining
proceeds of the emergency loans granted to RBSMI. Later on,
RBSMI would claim that this letter was somehow leaked to the
press. The Manila Times issue of March 10, 1999 carried a news
article by Jun T. Ebias entitled "2 rural banks seek emergency
loans, investors,"22 which quoted certain portions of the February
3, 1999 letter of RBSMI to the MB. In addition, RBSMI alleged that
supposedly forged directives from Soriano addressed to all
directors of the rural bank were faxed to the municipal mayors of
Bulacan. The undated fax message announced a special board
meeting of the directors of RBSMI on February 20, 1999 to discuss
internal and external audit findings, unpaid savings deposit
withdrawals and matured time deposits, and the possible closure
of the bank due to insolvency.

In a letter, dated March 10, 1999, Soriano asked for an inquiry


into the alleged leak of sensitive information which can "logically
be traced [to] Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas sources." After
investigating the matter, BSP, through petitioner Reyes and BSP
Deputy Governor and General Counsel Armando L. Suratos,
informed RBSMI in a letter, dated March 23, 1999, that the BSP
was unable to determine the source of information of the Manila
Times.

On the basis of the foregoing, RBSMI, through counsel, filed its


letter-complaint of May 19, 1999, which was referred by the MB to
an Ad Hoc Committee it had created. After the parties had
submitted their respective pleadings, documents and
memoranda, the Ad Hoc Committee issued a resolution, dated23

February 16, 2000, the pertinent part of which reads:

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION:

After a thorough review of the records, we find that


complainant has not substantiated its allegations of
respondents unprofessionalism. It has failed to present
sufficient factual and legal bases to administratively charge
respondents with the violation of any provision of R.A. No.
3019 and/or R.A. No. 6713. The acts complained of were
done by respondents in the performance of their official
duties.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, this Committee respectfully recommends
that upon the approval of these findings, the monetary
Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas dismiss the
complaint for lack of merit."

The MB adopted the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee,


prompting RBSMI to appeal to the Court of Appeals the dismissal
of the complaint as well as the denial of its motion for
reconsideration and supplemental motion to vacate or reconsider.
On December 14, 2001, the Court of Appeals reversed. The
dispositive portion of its decision states:

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED.


Accordingly, Resolution No. 257 dated February 18, 2000 and
letter dated July 31, 2000 of the respondent Monetary Board
are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one entered
finding respondents BSP Deputy Governor Alberto V. Reyes,
Director Wilfredo B. Domo-ong of the BSP Department of
Rural Bank, and bank examiner Herminio C. Principio,
administratively liable for unprofessionalism and are each
meted the penalty of fine equivalent to six (6) months
salary. 24

SO ORDERED.

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration. However, the


motion was denied on July 29, 2002. Hence, this petition for
review.

Petitioners submit the following issues:

I. Contrary to the baseless and illogical conclusion of the


Court of Appeals, there exists no substantial and convincing
evidence to support the charge that Petitioners Reyes and
Domo-ong are guilty of unprofessionalism by reason of their
alleged "careless handling of confidential matters involving
the internal problems of RBSMI."

II. Contrary to the conclusion of the Court of Appeals,


Petitioner Reyes did not commit any act of unprofessionalism
by reason of his alleged "illegal and unethical act of
brokering the sale of RBSMI."

III. The conclusion of the Court of Appeals that petitioner


Principio is liable for the charge of undue pressure against
RBSMI, as a consequence of the undue haste by which
petitioner Principio submitted his advance report to the MB,
exposes the lack of knowledge of the Court of Appeals on
how BSP officials work and perform their functions and duties
and/or lack of full understanding of the facts of the case.

IV. The justification advanced by the Court of Appeals in


declaring petitioners guilty of undue pressure,
unprofessionalism, and arrogance relative to the latters act
of recommending penalty charges for RBSMIs reserve
deficiency, is absolutely without any factual and legal basis.

V. The findings of fact of the Ad Hoc Committee as approved


by the Monetary Board of the BSP in its Resolution No. 257
was not accorded due consideration by the Court of Appeals
despite the fact that said findings of fact are supported by
substantial evidence.

VI. The questioned decision violates the constitutional


provision that a decision should state the facts and law on
which it is based.

The present petition warrants the modification of the Court of


Appeals decision.

First. Petitioners, particularly petitioner Reyes, are faulted with


the careless handling of confidential and vital information
regarding the financial status of RBSMI. The Court of Appeals
ruled:

The respondent BSP officials cannot deny that the


newspaper article in the Manila Times which was brought to
the attention of respondent Alberto V. Reyes unequivocably
states that the source of the information concerning the
alleged financial needs of RBSMI came from BSP and from an
officer of the Monetary Board. If Reyes himself was not the
source of such a confidential information, he should have, at
the very least and considering his exalted position as no less
than the BSP Deputy Governor, exerted efforts to discover
the leak and make accountable the concerned BSP officials
or employees. . . . Unfortunately, however, Reyes appeared
to have done nothing to unmask and hold responsible the
talkative official or employee of the BSP. His unlawful act of
omission on such a delicate and confidential matter is no
less censurable as an act of omission.

This is error. It is indeed unfortunate that information regarding


the financial needs of RBSMI came to the knowledge of the media.
We realize that a banks lifeline depends largely on the trust and
confidence accorded to it by its depositors and the public in
general. However, too many possibilities exist on how word got to
the press.

It is to be noted that before the Manila Times article came out in


1999, RBSMI had already undergone several examinations and
was subject to continuous monitoring for major exceptions and
violations found during the 1996 General Examination. Word could
have gotten around that the bank was being examined and that
interested persons or entities could have inquired into the
purpose of the examinations and monitoring. RBSMIs own
employees could have made remarks to friends and family
members - maybe harmless - without totally realizing the effect of
such statements. Indeed, MERALCO said that the basis of its
memorandum was the information concerning RBSMI obtained
from the Philippine Clearing House, an entity distinct and
separate from the BSP. In fact, it was the BSP which dispelled the
rumors which incited the second memorandum of recantation.
The undated fax message alleged to be a forged memorandum
has not been sufficiently proven as having been produced by any
of the petitioners.

The article might have attributed the source to be an official or


employee of the BSP if only to appear more credible. In any case,
an inquiry was conducted by an investigating committee
especially formed upon RBSMIs request. But the committee was
unable to determine the source of the leak. We have to presume
that the said committee had performed its tasks with regularity
and good faith, and thus it is entitled to due respect for its
findings.

The issue of the training materials is a different matter. RBSMI


claims that during one of the BSP training seminars, the bank was
used as a case study albeit not specifically mentioned in the
training materials. The Court of Appeals found that "the derision
against RBSMI in the seminar materials is truly an additional
pound of salt to RBSMIs already wounded
reputation." Petitioners allege that the seminar was for bank
25

examiners who were bound not to reveal any confidential


information they learned in the performance of their duties. They
further claim that there is no evidence showing that petitioners
Reyes and Domo-ong were the ones who distributed and used the
materials or that they harbored any ill will against the bank to
employ such means.

We agree with the appellate court. The facilitators of the seminar


who prepared the materials obviously applied little or no creativity
at all as shown by the words used therein, i.e., "Mrs. Ona I. Ros"
which clearly is Sorianos name in reverse, and "Rural Bank of
Barangay Ginebra" referring to the banks name - Rural Bank of
San Miguel. While there was indeed no evidence showing that
either petitioner Reyes or petitioner Domo-ong distributed or used
the materials, the very fact that the seminar was conducted
under their auspices is enough to make them liable to a certain
extent. Petitioner Reyes, as Head of the BSP Supervision and
Examination Sector, and petitioner Domo-ong, as Director of the
BSP Department of Rural Banks, should have exercised their
power of control and supervision so that the incident could have
been prevented or at the very least remedied.

Second. On the charge that petitioner Reyes was brokering the


sale of RBSMI, the Court of Appeals ruled:

Nor can respondent Reyes escape administrative liability for


the charge of having displayed undue interest in brokering
the sale of petitioner RBSM. In a number of occasions, such
an interest readily surfaced. . . . If anything else, Reyes
actuations smack of unprofessionaliam as he had concerned
himself with transactions that had nothing to do with his
official function as BSP Deputy Governor.

...

Nor is it correct to say that respondent Alberto V. Reyes did


no brokering simply because he was not paid for his efforts.
As rightly argued by petitioner, there is no law which defines
brokering in terms of payment thereof. To our mind, it
suffices that respondent Reyes introduced and brought the
parties together to try to hammer out a sale of RBSMI. After
all, a brokers duty is mainly to bring the prospective buyers
and sellers together.

We agree with the foregoing ruling of the Court of Appeals. In


introducing Soriano to the presidents of TA Bank and EIB Bank,
petitioner Reyes was clearly not acting in his official capacity. It is
enough that he brought the parties together to discuss the
possibility of a sale in order for him to be found guilty of
brokering. Petitioner Reyes did not have to be paid for what he did
in order to be considered to have committed a breach of the
requirement of propriety expected of a BSP official. The
circulars26 presented by petitioner Reyes indicate that it is indeed
BSPs policy to promote mergers and consolidations by providing
incentives for banks who would undergo such corporate
combinations. But nowhere in these circulars is it stated that BSP
officials should take an active role in bringing parties together for
the possibility of a buy-in or sell-out.

Section 4 (A)(b) of R.A. No. 6713 states:

Norms of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees. - (A)


Every public official and employee shall observe the
following as standards of personal conduct in the discharge
and execution of official duties:

....
(b) Professionalism - Public officials and employees shall
perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree
of excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skill. They
shall enter public service with utmost devotion and
dedication to duty. They shall endeavor to discourage wrong
perceptions of their roles as dispensers or peddlers of undue
patronage.

We do not think Soriano was subjected to undue pressure since he


was also interested in selling the bank. 27However, petitioner
Reyes active participation in looking for possible buyers for
RBSMI was clearly a violation of the standards of professionalism.

Third. For his part, petitioner Principio is charged with "undue


haste" in submitting his report to the Monetary Board. His
recommendation for the imposition of a penalty of P2.5 million on
RBSMI is also complained of as a way of pressuring the bank.
RBSMI points out that there was an irregularity in the fact that
petitioner Principio headed the three consecutive examinations
conducted on the bank.

We find no undue haste in the submission of petitioner Principios


report. The 1996 examination on RBSMI was concluded on
December 13, 1996. The list of exceptions prepared by petitioner
Principio was dated December 23, 1996, and a copy thereof was
sent to RBSMI on January 9, 1997. This was 18 days before
petitioner Principio finally submitted the report to the Monetary
Board. Having had sufficient time to prepare its reply, RBSMI
cannot pretend ignorance of the findings of the examiner. It
should have anticipated the actions it needed to take considering
the urgency of the matter.

Moreover, it is clear from the records that RBSMI was given not
only one but two opportunities to answer the findings in the
report before the report was submitted to the MB. It should be
noted that the exit conference for the 1996 General Examination
was originally scheduled on January 13, 1997. However, upon the
request of RBSMIs corporate counsel, the examination was
postponed to January 21, 1997. RBSMI was furnished a copy of
the findings on January 9, 1997. Although RBSMI claimed that the
copy it received was unreadable, it made this accusation only
after the complaint had been filed with the Monetary Board.

The members of the Board of Directors only discussed their reply


on the very day of the rescheduled exit conference. Surely, RBSMI
only had itself to blame. It was given a sporting chance to react to
the findings before it was confirmed by the MB, but it did not
make use of the opportunity. Again, it was given another chance
after the exit conference when the MB, upon review of the report
of petitioner Principio, issued Resolution No. 96 requiring RBSMI to
answer the findings within 15 days from receipt of the advice.

On the other hand, the imposition of the P2.5 million fine was
made on the basis of the finding of legal reserve deficiencies.
Soriano wrote to the BSP authorizing the latter to debit its
demand deposit in the amount of the penalty a few days after MB
Resolution No. 96 was issued. It took RBSMI more than one year
before it contested the imposition of the penalty. That the BSP
subsequently reversed, albeit conditionally, the debiting of the
amount of penalty is not an admission that it erred in imposing
the same. It was only an accommodation on the part of the BSP to
ease the financial difficulties of RBSMI. More importantly, it was a
conditional reversal pending the resolution of the dispute on the
finding of legal reserve deficiency.

RBSMI likewise complains that petitioner Principio took part in


three consecutive examinations in violation of BSPs own Manual
of Examiners which states:

G. ROTATION OF ASSIGNMENTS FOR EXAMINERS:

A Bank Examiner shall not be in charge of more than two


consecutive examinations of any financial institutions. No
exception to this rule shall be permitted.

But, as petitioners explain, RBSMI was subjected only to one


examination the 1996 General Examination in which major
exceptions and violations were found. The ensuing examinations
were "special examinations" meant to monitor the progress of the
bank in correcting the exceptions found. With the finding of
serious violations by the bank, the MB, through its Resolution No.
96, thought it best to put RBSMI under continuous monitoring
until the exceptions had been corrected. It is logical for petitioner
Principio to be part of the monitoring team considering that he
was the initial examiner and was familiar with the matters to be
made in order.

By and large, therefore, we find that while there may have been
some irregularities and badges of unprofessionalism which can be
held against petitioners, these are not so grave as to merit the
imposition of the penalty of fine equal to six months salary
imposed by the appellate court. The modification of the Court of
Appeals decision is proper.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated


December 14, 2001 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. Petitioner
Alberto V. Reyes is ordered to pay a fine equivalent to two (2)
months salary, while petitioner Wilfredo B Domo-ong is fined in an
amount equivalent to one (1) month salary. Petitioner Herminio C.
Principio is found not administratively liable.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, and Callejo,


Sr., JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1
Per Associate Justice Cancio C. Garcia with Justices Roberto
A. Barrios and Bienvenido L. Reyes concurring.
2
CA Rollo, p. 201.
3
Id., p. 245.
4
Id., p. 270.
5
Id., p. 278.
6
Id., p. 118.
7
Id., p. 460.
8
Resolution of the BSP Ad Hoc Committee, p. 6; CA Rollo, p.
68.
9
CA Rollo, p. 470.
10
Id., p. 340.
11
Id., p. 342.
12
Resolution, p. 8; CA Rollo, p. 70.
13
CA Rollo, p. 485.
14
Id., p. 463.
15
Id., p. 464.
16
Resolution, p. 14; CA Rollo, p. 76.
17
Copy of Memorandum; CA Rollo, p. 524.
18
Id.
19
CA Rollo, p. 490.
20
Id., p. 491.
21
Id., p. 581.
22
Photocopy of the article; CA Rollo, p. 527.
23
CA Rollo, p. 63.
24
Rollo, p. 40.
25
CA Decision, p. 22; Rollo, p. 61.
26
Circular No. 1312, Series of 1991; Circular No. 172, Series
of 1998; Circular No. 193, Series of 1999; Circular No. 207,
Series of 1999; Circular No. 225, Series of 2000; Circular No.
237, Series of 2000; and Circular No. 256, Series of 2000. CA
Rollo, pp. 888-904.
27
Mr. Soriano met and discussed with Mr. Castillo and Mr.
Villacorta on his own accord. The affidavits of Mssrs. Castillo
and Villacorta fully support this statement. (See notes at 11
and 12) Moreover, Mr. Sorianos own statements revealed
that he was undecided as to whether he should sell the bank
or not inasmuch as he was concerned with how much the
bank would sell for. (See RBSMIs Petition for Review with the
Court of Appeals, pp. 8-10; CA Rollo, pp. 31-33.)

Case Digest

FACTS:

In a letter dated May 19,1999, addressed to then BSP


Governor Singson, RBSMI charge the petitioner with violation
of RA No. 6713 ( code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for
Public Officials and Employees). The Monetary Board (MB) of
the BSP created an Ad Hoc Committee to investigate the
matter.
The ensuing investigation disclosed that sometime in
September 1996, RBSMI, which had a history of major
violations/exceptions dating back to 1995, underwent
periodic examination by the BSP. The examination team
headed by Principio noted serious 20 exceptions/violations
and deficiencies of RBSMI.
Through Resolution No. 96, the MB required RBSMI to submit
within 15 days a written explanation with respect to the
findings of the examiner. It also directed the Department of
Rural Banks DRB), to verify, monitor and report to the
Deputy Governor, Supervision and Examination Sector (SES)
on the findings noted, until the same shall have been
corrected.
Meanwhile on June 13,1997, the MB approved Resolution No.
724 ordering RBSMI to correct the major exceptions noted
within 30 days from receipt of the advice, and to remit to the
BSP the amount of P2,538,483.00 as fines and penalties for
incurring deficiencies in reserves against deposit liabilities.
More than a year after, however, the RBSMI asked for a
reconsideration of MB Resolution No. 724 insofar as the
imposition of fine amounting to P P2,538,483.00.On January
21, 1999, the MB adopted Resolution No. 71, authorizing the
conditional reversal of sixty of the dispute on the findings on
reserve deficiency. Subsequently, on April 7, 1999, the MB
approved the interim reversal of the entire amount of the
penalty pending the outcome of the study on the legal and
factual basis for the imposition of the penalty.
The above incidents, particularly the alleged brokering by
Reyes and the petitioners unsupported recommendation
to impose a penalty of P2,538,483.00 for legal reserve
deficiency, prompted the respondent to file the letter-
complaint charging the petitioners with unprofessionalism.
In the Decision if March 14,2003, this Court found Deputy
Governor Reyes and Director Domo-ong liable for violation of
the standards of professionalism prescribed by RA 6713in
that they used the distressed financial condition of
respondent RBSMI as the subject of a case study in one of
the BSP seminars and did the brokering of the sale of
RBSMI. The Court modified the decision of the CA by
reducing the penalty imposed from the a fine equivalent to
six monthssalary to a fine of 2 months salary for Reyes and
one month salary for Domo-ong.
The court exonerated petitioner Proncipio of the
Administrative charges. The exoneration is subject to
RBSMIs Motion for Partial Reconsideration.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Superior officer shall not be civilly liable


for the wrongful acts, omissions of duty, negligence or
misfeasance of his subordinate officer.

RULING:

The immunity of public officers from liability for nonfeasance,


negligence or omissions of duty of their official subordinate
and even for the latters misfeasance or positive wrong rests,
according to MECHEM, upon obvious considerations of
public policy, the necessities of the public service and the
perplexities and embarrassments of a contrary doctrine.
These official subordinates are themselves public officers
though of an inferior grade, and therefore directly liable in
the cases in which any public officer is liable, for their own
misdeeds or defaults.
Under the Admin Code of 1987, which provides that head of
a department or a superior officer shall not be civilly liable
for the wrongful acts, omissions of duty, negligence,
misfeasance of his subordinates, unless he has actually
authorized by written order the specific act or misconduct
complained of.

15
G.R. No. 155855, January 26, 2004
MA. SALVACION BUAC AND ANTONIO BAUTISTA,
PETITIONERS, VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND ALAN
PETER S. CAYETANO, RESPONDENTS.

DECISION

PUNO, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari and mandamus filed by petitioners


Ma. Salvacion Buac and Antonio Bautista assailing the October 28,
2002 'en banc Resolution of the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) which held that it has no jurisdiction over
controversies involving the conduct of plebiscite and the
annulment of its result.
The facts show that in April, 1988, a plebiscite was held in Taguig
for the ratification of the Taguig Cityhood Law (Republic Act No.
8487) proposing the conversion of Taguig from a municipality into
a city. Without completing the canvass of sixty-four (64) other
election returns, the Plebiscite Board of Canvassers declared that
the "NO" votes won and that the people rejected the conversion
of Taguig to a city.

The Board of Canvassers was, however, ordered by the


COMELEC en banc to reconvene and complete the canvass. The
Board did and in due time issued an Order proclaiming that the
negative votes prevailed in the plebiscite conducted.

Forthwith, petitioners filed with the COMELEC a petition to


annul[1] the results of the plebiscite with a prayer for revision and
recount of the ballots cast therein. They alleged that fraud and
irregularities attended the casting and counting of votes. The case
was docketed as an election protest and raffled to the COMELEC
Second Division.[2]

Private respondent Cayetano intervened and moved to dismiss


the petition on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of the COMELEC.
He claimed that a plebiscite cannot be the subject of an election
protest. He averred that the jurisdiction to hear a complaint
involving the conduct of a plebiscite is lodged with the Regional
Trial Court (RTC).[3]
The COMELEC Second Division initially gave due course to the
petition and ruled that it has jurisdiction over the case. It treated
the petition as akin to an election protest considering that the
same allegations of fraud and irregularities in the casting and
counting of ballots and preparation of returns are the same
grounds for assailing the results of an election. It then ordered the
Taguig ballot boxes to be brought to its Manila office and created
revision committees to revise and recount the plebiscite ballots. [4]

In an unverified motion, intervenor Cayetano moved for


reconsideration of the COMELEC Order insisting that it has no
jurisdiction to hear and decide a petition contesting the results of
a plebiscite.

In a complete turnaround, the COMELEC 2nd Division issued an


Order on November 29, 2001 granting the Motion for
Reconsideration. It dismissed the petition to annul the results of
the Taguig plebiscite and ruled that the COMELEC has no
jurisdiction over said case as it involves an exercise of quasi-
judicial powers not contemplated under Section 2 (2), Article IX
(C) of the 1987 Constitution.[5]

On appeal, the COMELEC en banc affirmed the ruling of its 2nd


Division. It held that the COMELEC cannot use its power to enforce
and administer all laws relative to plebiscites as this power is
purely administrative or executive and not quasi-judicial in nature.
It concluded that the jurisdiction over the petition to annul the
Taguig plebiscite results is lodged with the RTC under Section 19
(6) of Batas Pambansa Big. 129 which provides that the RTC shall
have exclusive original jurisdiction in cases not within the
exclusive jurisdiction of any court or body exercising judicial or
quasi-judicial functions.[6]

Hence this petition.

Petitioners Ma. Salvacion Buac and Antonio Bautista reiterate


their submission that jurisdiction to decide plebiscite protest
cases is constitutionally vested with the COMELEC. They likewise
claim that the impugned Order is discriminatory as during the
pendency of the Taguig case, the COMELEC assumed jurisdiction
over a similar case concerning the revision and recount of the
plebiscite ballots involving the conversion of Malolos into a city.
The COMELEC resolved said case and already declared Malolos a
city.

Respondents contend that there is no such action as a plebiscite


protest under the Constitution, the laws and the COMELEC rules
as they provided only for election protests; the quasi-judicial
jurisdiction of the COMELEC over election contests extends only to
cases enumerated in Section 2(2), Article IX (C) of the
Constitution, which does not include controversies over plebiscite
results; and, even if the petition to annul plebiscite results is akin
to an election protest, it is the RTC that has jurisdiction over
election protests involving municipal officials, and the COMELEC
has only appellate jurisdiction in said cases.

The petition is impressed with merit.

First. The key to the case at bar is its nature. The case at bar
involves the determination of whether the electorate of Taguig
voted in favor of, or against the conversion of the municipality of
Taguig into a highly urbanized city in the plebiscite conducted for
the purpose. Respondents submit that the regular courts of
justice, more specifically, the Regional Trial Court, has the
jurisdiction to adjudicate any controversy concerning the conduct
of said plebiscite. We hold that the invocation of judicial power to
settle disputes involving the conduct of a plebiscite is misplaced.
Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution defines judicial power as
including "the duty of the courts of justice to settle
actual controversies involving rights which are legally
demandable and enforceable and to determine whether or not
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality
of the Government." According to Mr. Justice Isagani Cruz, "the
first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of
judicial power involving the settlement of conflicting rights as
conferred by law."[7] The case at bar assailing the regularity of the
conduct of the Taguig plebiscite does not fit the kind of a case
calling for the exercise of judicial power. It does not involve the
violation of any legally demandable right and its enforcement.
There is no plaintiff or defendant in the case at bar for it merely
involves the ascertainment of the vote of the electorate of Taguig
whether they approve or disapprove the conversion of their
municipality to a highly urbanized city. There is no invocation of a
private right conferred by law that has been violated and which
can be vindicated alone in our courts of justice in an adversarial
proceeding. Rather, the issue in the case at bar is the
determination of the sovereign decision of the electorate of
Taguig. The purpose of this determination is more to protect the
sovereignty of the people and less to vindicate the private
interest of any individual. Such a determination does not
contemplate the clash of private rights of individuals and hence
cannot come under the traditional jurisdiction of courts.

Second. If the determination of the result of a plebiscite is not fit


for the exercise ofjudicial power, the invocation of Section 19 of
B.P. Big. 129, as amended, otherwise known as the Judiciary
Reorganization Act, is ineluctably errant, viz:

Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts shall


exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:

1. In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is


incapable of pecuniary estimation;

xxx xxx xxx

6. In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court,


tribunal, person or body exercising jurisdiction of any court,
tribunal, person or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
functions.

There cannot be any bout with doubt that the


aforequoted provisions refer to civil cases or actions. A civil action
is one by which a party sues another for the enforcement or
protection of a right or the prevention or redress of a wrong. [8] As
stressed above, a plebiscite involves the expression of the public
will on a public issue. The determination of the public will is a
subject that does not fit the jurisdiction of civil courts, for civil
courts are established essentially to resolve controversies
between private persons.[9]

The case of Salva v. Macalintal [10] does not support the


overarching thesis that "any question on the validity of plebiscite,
or any dispute on the result of the plebiscite falls within the
general jurisdiction of regular trial courts." Looking at it with clear
eyes, Salva resolved the validity, not of a plebiscite or its result,
but of a provision in the rules and regulations issued by the
COMELEC governing the conduct of a plebiscite.

Third. To grant the RTC jurisdiction over petitions to annul


plebiscite results can lead to jumbled justice. Consider for
instance where the plebiscite is national as it deals with the
ratification of a proposed amendment to our Constitution. Snap
thinking will tell us that it should be the COMELEC that should
have jurisdiction over a petition to annul its results. If jurisdiction
is given to the regular courts, the result will not enhance the
orderly administration of justice. Any regional trial court from
every nook and corner of the country will have jurisdiction over a
petition questioning the results of a nationwide plebiscite.
Bearing in mind that the jurisdiction of these courts is limited only
within their respective judicial regions, the difficulties that will
attend their exercise of jurisdiction would be many if not
unmanageable.

Fourth. An eye contact with our Constitution and related laws will
reveal that only contests relating to the elections, returns and
qualifications of elected officials are subject to the exercise of
judicial power of our courts or quasi-judicial power of our
administrative agencies, thus: (a) contests involving elective
municipal officials are tried and decided by trial courts of general
jurisdiction, while those involving barangay officials are tried and
decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction; in both cases,
however, the COMELEC exercises appellate jurisdiction; (b)
contests involving all elective regional, provincial and city
officials fall within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the
COMELEC in the exercise of its quasi-judicial power; (c) contests
involving members of the House of Representatives fall within the
exclusive original jurisdiction of the House of Representatives
Electoral Tribunal in the exercise of quasi-judicial power; (d)
contests involving members of the Senate fall within the exclusive
original jurisdiction of the Senate Electoral Tribunal in the exercise
of quasi-judicial power; and, (e) contests involving the President
and the Vice President fall within the exclusive original jurisdiction
of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, also in the exercise of quasi-
judicial power.

What grabs the eyeball is the intent of our Constitution and


election laws to subject only contests relating to the elections,
returns and qualifications of elected officials from the barangay
to the President of the Philippines to the exercise of judicial or
quasi-judicial powers of courts or administrative tribunals.
Contests which do not involve the election, returns and
qualifications of elected officials are not subjected to the exerci of
the judicial or quasi-judicial powers of courts oradministra i
agencies. Clearly, controversies concerning the conduct plebiscite
appertain to this category. In the case at bar. conduct of the
Taguig plebiscite is the core of the controversy. This is a matter
that involves the enforcement and administration of a law relative
to a plebiscite. It falls under the jurisdiction of the COMELEC
under Section 2(1), Article IX (C) of the Constitution which gives it
the power "to enforce and administer all laws and regulations
relative to the conduct of a x x x plebiscite x x x."

Fifth. The Court agrees with the following submissions of the


Solicitor General, viz.

xxx xxx xxx


There can hardly be any doubt that the test and intent of the
constitutional grant of powers to the COMELEC is to give it all the
necessary and incidental powers for it to achieve the holding of
free, orderly, honest and peaceful and credible elections
[Maruhom v. COMELEC, 331 SCRA 473 (2000)]. Hence, the all
encompassing power endowed the COMELEC to enforce and
administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an
election (or plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall) includes
the power to cancel proclamations [(Nolasco v. COMELEC, 275
SCRA 762 (1997)]. The COMELEC also has the power to supervise
and control the proceedings of the board of canvassers, suspend
and/or annul illegal and void proclamations, declare a failure of
elections and promulgate rules and regulations concerning the
conduct of elections.

While the jurisdiction of the COMELEC is most commonly invoked


over popular elections that which involves the choice or
selection ' of candidates to public office by popular vote, the same
may likewise be invoked in connection with the conduct of
plebiscite.

In the present case, petitioners filed a petition for revision of


ballots cast in a plebiscite. The COMELEC dismissed the petition
on the ground that it has no jurisdiction over the petition
considering that the issue raised therein calls for the exercise by
the COMELEC of its judicial or quasi-judicial power. According to
the COMELEC, there is no law nor any constitutional provision that
confers it with jurisdiction to hear and decide a case contesting
the officially proclaimed results of a plebiscite based on frauds
and irregularities.

The COMELEC's position is highly untenable. Article LX-C, Section


2(1) is very explicit that the COMELEC has the power to "enforce
administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an
election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall." To enforce
means to cause to take effect or to cause the performance of
such act or acts necessary to bring into actual effect or operation,
a plan or measure. When we say the COMELEC has the power to
enforce all laws relative to the conduct of a plebiscite, it
necessarily entails all the necessary and incidental power for it to
achieve the holding of an honest and credible plebiscite.
Obviously, the power of the COMELEC is not limited to the mere
administrative function of conducting the plebiscite. The law is
clear. It is also mandated to enforce the laws relative to the
conduct of the plebiscite. Hence, the COMELEC, whenever it is
called upon to correct or check what the Board of Canvassers
erroneously or fraudulently did during the canvassing, can verify
or ascertain the true results of the plebiscite either through a pre-
proclamation case or through revision of ballots. To remove from
the COMELEC the power to ascertain the true results of the
plebiscite through revision of ballots is to render nugatory its
constitutionally mandated power to "enforce" laws relative to the
conduct of plebiscite. It is not correct to argue that the quasi-
judicial power of the COMELEC is limited to contests relating to
the elections, returns and qualifications of all elective regional,
provincial and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all
contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial
courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective Barangay
officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction. If the
COMELEC has quasi-judicial power to enforce laws relating to
elective officials then there is no reason why it cannot exercise
the same power to ascertain the true results of a plebiscite. All
that the Constitution provides is that the COMELEC shall exercise
exclusive jurisdiction over all contests relating to elective officials.
The provision is not a limiting provision in the sense that it only
limits the quasi-judicial power of the COMELEC to said cases. To
repeat, the power of the COMELEC to ascertain the true results of
the plebiscite is implicit in its power to enforce all laws relative to
the conduct of plebiscite.

COMELEC's claim that the petition for revision of ballots is


cognizable by the Regional Trial Courts pursuant to Section 19 (6)
of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 whieh provides that
"Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction
x x x in cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court
tribunal, person or body exercisingjudicial or quasi-judicial
functions lacks merit. To repeat, the power to ascertain the true
results of the plebiscite is necessarily included in the power to
enforce all laws relative to the conduct of plebiscite. [11]

Sixth. From our earliest Constitution and election laws, the


conduct of plebiscite and determination of its result have always
been the business of the COMELEC and not the regular courts. If
the COMELEC has no jurisdiction over this matter, our laws would
have been amended to that effect. There is another reason why
the jurisdiction of the COMELEC to resolve disputes involving
plebiscite results should be upheld. Such a case involves the
appreciation of ballots which is best left to the COMELEC. As an
independent constitutional body exclusively charged with the
power of enforcement and administration of all laws and
regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite,
initiative, referendum and recall, the COMELEC has the
indisputable expertise in the field of election and related laws.
Consequently, we should be extra cautious in delimiting the
parameters of the COMELEC's broad powers. We should give the
COMELEC enough latitude in the exercise of its expertise, for to
straightjacket its discretion in the enforcement and administration
of laws relating to the conduct of election, plebiscite or
referendum may render it impotent. This is the first time that the
COMELEC's jurisdiction over a petition to annul the results of a
plebiscite has been assailed and surprisingly, this is the first time
that the COMELEC has yielded its historic jurisdiction. More
inexplicable is the inconsistent stance of the COMELEC on the
issue. As stressed by the petitioners, the COMELEC assumed
jurisdiction over the case assailing the result of the Malolos
plebiscite. In the case at bar, it refused to exercise jurisdiction.

Seventh. Finally, it appears that the Motion for Reconsideration of


private respondent Congressman Cayetano was filed out of time.
Section 2, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides
that a motion for reconsideration should be filed within five (5)
days from receipt of the COMELEC Order or Resolution.
Congressman Cayetano himself admitted [12] that he received a
copy of the October 3, 2001 Resolution of the COMELEC 2nd
Division on October 9, 2001. The records show that it was only ten
(10) days after said receipt, or on October 19, 2001, that private
respondent Cayetano filed his undated and unverified Motion for
Reconsideration. Clearly, the COMELEC 2nd Division had no
jurisdiction to entertain his Motion. .

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The COMELEC is


directed to reinstate the petition to annul the results of the 1998
Taguig plebiscite and to decide it without delay.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Sanliago,


Sandoval-Gutierrez, Austria-Martinez, Corona and Azcuna,
JJ., concur.
Carpio and Carpio Morales, JJ., see dissenting opinions. Callejo,
Sr., .J., concurs in the dissent of Carpio Morales.

Tinga, J., took no part. One of the intervenors and former counsel
for the intervenor.

Docketed as EPC No. 98-102; Annex "G", Petition. Rollo at 100-1


[1]

10.

Presided
[2]
by Commissioner Ralph C. Lantion. with
Commissioners Mehol K. Sadain and Florentino A. Tuazon. Jr. as
members.
[3]
Motion to Dismiss, Annex "J", Petition, Rollo at 120-130.

October 3, 2001 COMELEC 2nd Division Order. Annex "L".


[4]

Petition, id. at 137-142.


[5]
The COMELEC shall exercise "exclusive original jurisdiction over
all contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of
all elective regional, provincial and city officials, and appellate
jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials
decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving electi
barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction."

October 28. 2002 Resolution of the COMELEC en banc. Annex


[6]

"A". Petition, Rollo at 56-77.


[7]
Philippine Political Law. p. 247 ( 1998 ed.).
[8]
Section 3(a). Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
[9]
Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, p. 2. Vol. I. 1970 ed.

340 SCRA 506 (2000). cited in the dissenting opinion of Justice


[10]

Carpio.
[11]
Manifestation in Lieu of Comment. Rollo. pp. 415-418.

Sec p. 1 of his Motion for Reconsideration, Annex "N" of


[12]

Petition. o, p. 213.

DISSENTING OPINION

CARPIO, J.,

I dissent from the majority opinion penned by Justice Reynato S.


Puno that the Commission on Elections ("COMELEC") has
jurisdiction over the instant petition to annul the results of the
plebiscite held on 25 April 1998 on the proposed conversion of
Taguig from a municipality into a city.

The Constitution expressly confers on the COMELEC only a limited


quasi-judicial jurisdiction. Thus, Section 2(2), Article IX-C of the
Constitution provides:

Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the


following powers and functions:

(1) xxx

(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests


relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective
regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction
over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by
trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective
barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.

Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election


contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall
be final, executory and not appealable. (Italics supplied)
A plain reading of the text of this constitutional provision clearly
shows that the quasi-judicial jurisdiction of the COMELEC applies
only to election contests involving elective officials. The wording
of this provision is not susceptible to any other interpretation.

Thus, this Court has ruled that the quasi-judicial jurisdiction of the
COMELEC is found only in Section 2(2) of Article IX-C and nowhere
else. In Baytan v. COMELEC,[1] the Court held:

Under Section 2, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution, the


COMELEC exercises both administrative and quasi-judicial powers.
The COMELEC's administrative powers are found in Section 2 (1),
(3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), and (9) of Article IX-C. The 1987
Constitution does not prescribe how the COMELEC should exercise
its administrative powers, whether en banc or in division. The
Constitution merely vests the COMELEC's administrative powers
in the "Commission on Elections," while providing that the
COMELEC "may sit en banc or in two divisions." Clearly, the
COMELEC en banc can act directly on matters falling within its
administrative powers. Indeed, this has been the practice of the
COMELEC both under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions.

On the other hand, the COMELEC's quasi-judicial powers are


found in Section 2 (2) of Article IX-C, to wit:

"Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the


following powers and functions:

xxx xxx xxx


(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests
relating to the elections, return's, and qualifications of all elective
regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction
over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by
trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay
officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.

Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election


contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall
be final, executory, and not appealable."
The COMELEC's exercise of its quasi-judicial powers is subject to
Section 3 of Article IX-C which expressly requires that all election
cases, including pre-proclamation controversies, shall be decided
by the COMELEC in division, and the motion for reconsideration
shall be decided by the COMELEC en banc. It follows, as held by
the Court in Canicosa, that the COMELEC is mandated to decide
cases first in division, and then upon motion for
reconsideration en banc, only when the COMELEC exercises its
quasi-judicial powers.

The Court reiterated this ruling in the more recent case


of Bautista v. COMELEC. [2]

The COMELEC can exercise its quasi-judicial jurisdiction only if


there is an election contest involving an elective official. A
plebiscite on whether a municipality should become a city does
not involve the election into public office of any official. Such a
plebiscite does not involve any election contest as no one is
running for any public office. Thus, the COMELEC has no quasi-
judicial jurisdiction over any dispute involving the results of such
plebiscite. In Garces v. Court of Appeals,[3] this Court ruled:

The jurisdiction of the RTC was challenged by respondent


Empeynado contending that this is a "case" or "matter"
cognizable by the COMELEC under Sec. 7, Art. 1X-A of the I 987
Constitution. The COMELEC resolution cancelling the appointment
of Garces as Election Registrar of Gutalac. he argues, should be
raised only on certiorari before the Supreme Court and not before
the R fC, else the latter court becomes a reviewer of an en
bancCOMEL resolution contrary to Sec. 7. Art. 1X-A.

The contention is without merit. Sec. 7, Art. IX-A of the


Constitution provides:

"Each commission shall decide by a majority vote of all its


members any case or matter brought before it within sixty days
from the date of its submission for decision or resolution. A case
or matter is deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the
filing of the last pleading, brief, or memorandum required by the
rules of the Commission or by the Commission itself. Unless
otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law, any decision,
order, or ruling of each Commission may be brought to the
Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty
days from receipt of a copy thereof."

This provision is inapplicable as there was no case or matter filed


before the COMELEC. On the contrary, it was the COMELEC's
resolution that triggered this controversy. The "case" or "matter"
referred to by the constitution must be something within the
jurisdiction of the COMELEC, i.e., must pertain to an election
dispute. The settled rule is that "decision, rulings, order" of the
COMELEC that may be brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari
under Sec. 7, Art. IX-A are those that relate to the COMELEC's
exercise of its adjudicator}- or quasi-judicial powers involving
"elective regional, provincial and city officials." In this case, what
is being assailed is the COMELEC's choice of an appointee to
occupy the Gutalac Post which is an administrative duty done for
the operational set-up of an agency. The controversy involves an
appointive, not an elective, official. Hardly can this matter call for
the certiorari jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. To rule otherwise
would surely burden the Court with trivial administrative
questions that are best ventilated before the RTC, a court which
the law vests with the power to exercise original jurisdiction over
"all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court,
tribunal, person or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
functions." (Italics supplied)

The distinction between the administrative powers and quasi-


judicial jurisdiction of the COMELEC extends to the conduct of
plebiscites. The COMELEC's power to "enforce and administer all
laws relative to the conduct's x x of x x x plebiscite" does not
include any quasi-judicial po.vver. Any question on the validity of
the plebiscite, or any dispute on the results of the plebiscite, falls
within the general jurisdiction of regular trial courts. Thus,
in Salva v. Makalintal,[4]this Court ruled:

xxx We agree with the Solicitor General that ". . . [t]he issuance of
[COMELEC] Resolution No. 2987 is thus a ministerial duty of the
COMELEC that is enjoined by law and is part and parcel of its
administrative functions. It involves no exercise of discretionary,
authority on the part of respondent COMELEC; let alone an
exercise of its adjudicatory or quasi-judicial power to hear and
resolve controversies defining the rights and duties of party-
litigants, relative to the conduct of elections of public officers and
the enforcement of the election laws." (Citation omitted.) Briefly,
COMELEC Resolution No. 2987 which provides for the rules and
regulations governing the conduct of the required plebiscite, was
not issued pursuant to the COMELEC's quasi-judicial functions but
merely as an incident of its inherent administrative functions over
the conduct of plebiscites, thus, the said resolution may not be
deemed as a "final order" reviewable by certiorari by this
Court. Any question pertaining to the validity of said
resolution may be well taken in an ordinary civil action
before the trial courts. (Emphasis supplied)

Indisputably, the Constitution has not vested in the COMELEC any


quasi-judicial jurisdiction over disputes involving the results of
plebiscites. The question then arises whether such disputes fall
under the jurisdiction of the regular courts. This leads us to
Section 19 of the Judiciary Reorganization Act, as amended,
[5]
which states:

Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts shall


exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:

(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is


incapable of pecuniary estimation;

xxx xxx xxx


(6) In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court,
tribunal, person or body exercising jurisdiction of any court,
tribunal, person or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
functions; x x x. (Italics supplied)

An action to annul the results of a plebiscite is one incapable of


pecuniary estimation, just like an action to declare the
unconstitutionality of a law.[6] Moreover, an action to annul the
results of a plebiscite does not fall under the exclusive jurisdiction
of the COMELEC in the exercise of its quasi-judicial functions.
Thus, under Section 19(1) and (6) of the Judiciary Reorganization
Act, such action expressly falls under the exclusive original
jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts.

The argument that Regional Trial Courts have no experience in the


revision of ballots does not hold water. Regional Trial Courts
exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over election contests
involving elective municipal officials. [7] Regional Trial Courts also
exercise appellate jurisdiction over election contests involving
elective barangay officials.[8] Besides, it is the law that confers
jurisdiction, not experience, practice or tradition.

The suggestion that the administrative power of the COMELEC to


"[Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the
conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and
recall"[9] should be liberally construed to include quasi-judicial
jurisdiction over the instant petition would lead to constitutional
anomalies. To do so would also mean granting to the COMELEC
quasi-judicial jurisdiction over disputes arising from the validity of
an initiative, or the recall of local officials. Under the same logic,
the COMELEC would also have quasi-judicial jurisdiction over
cases involving violations of election laws. If Congress
subsequently confers on regular trial courts exclusive jurisdiction
over these cases, then such legislative act would have to be
invalidated as unconstitutional. This would wreak havoc on the
constitutional concept of judicial power as being lodged in the
judiciary.[10]

In summary, neither the Constitution nor any existing law grants


the COMELEC jurisdiction over a petition to annul the results of a
plebiscite. However, the Judiciary Reorganization Act expressly
confers on Regional Trial Courts exclusive original jurisdiction over
such a petition. The ineluctable conclusion is that the COMELEC
has no jurisdiction over the instant petition to annul the results of
the plebiscite held on 25 April 1998 on the proposed conversion of
Taguig from a municipality into a city. Such jurisdiction clearly
belongs to the proper Regional Trial Court.

Accordingly, I vote to DISMISS the instant petition, without


prejudice to the filing of an appropriate action with the proper
Regional Trial Court.
[1]
G.R. No. 153945. 4 February 2003.
[2]
G.R. Nos. 154796-97. 21 October 2003.
[3]
G.R. No. I 14795. 17 JuK 1996. 259 SCRA 99.
[4]
G.R. No. 132603. 18 September 2000. 340 SCRA 506.
[5]
Republic Act No. 7691.

Mirasol v. Cowl of Appeals, G.R. No. 128448. 1 February 2001.


[6]

351 SCRA 44; Drilon v. Lim, G.R. No. 112497. 4 August 1994, 235
SCRA 135.

Section 251, Batas Pambansa Big. 881. otherwise known as


[7]

"Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines."


[8]
Section 252. ibid.
[9]
Section 2(1). Article 1X-C of the Constitution.
[10]
Section 1. Article VIII of the Constitution.

DISSENTING OPINION

CARPIO MORALES, J.,

With due respect, I dissent from the majority decision that the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has jurisdiction over the
present petition to annul the results of the plebiscite held on April
25, 1998 on the proposed conversion of Taguig from a
municipality into a highly urbanized city.

Petitioners and petitioners-intervenors invoke the following


provision of Section 2(1), Article XI-C of the 1987 Constitution
which reads:

Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the


following powers and functions:

(I) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the
conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and
recall.

xxx xxx xxx.

(Emphasis and italics supplied).

They claim that the above-quoted provision clearly bestows


jurisdiction in the COMELEC to order the recount of plebiscite
results.[1]

In Baytan v. COMELEC,[2] this Court classified the constitutionally-


vested powers of the COMELEC, in this wise:

Under Section 2, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution, the


COMELEC exercises both administrative and quasi-judicial
powers. The COMELEC's administrative powers are found in
Section 2(1), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), and (9) of Article IX-C. x x
x

On the other hand, the COMELEC'S quasi-judicial powers are


found in Section 2 (2) of Article IX-C, to wit:

Section 2. The'Commission on Elections shall exercise the


following powers and functions:

xxx xxx xxx.

(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests


relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective
regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction
over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by
the trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving
elective barangayofficials decided by trial courts of limited
jurisdiction.

Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election


contests involving municipal and barangay offices shall be final,
executory and not appealable."

xxx xxx xxx.


(Emphasis and italics supplied)

Given the above classification of the COMELEC's constitutionally


vested powers, petitioners and petitioner-intervenors thus invoke
an administrative power of the COMELEC to order the revision and
recount of ballots.

The grounds petitioners and petitioner-intervenors are raising,


however fraud, anomalies and irregularities that attended the
balloting and canvassing alleged to have seriously affected the
results of the plebiscite are similar to the grounds raised in an
election contest. Petitioners and petitioner-intervenors are thus
asking the COMELEC to exercise a function similar to what it
exercises in election protests.

The Constitution provides, however, that election protests are


governed by Section 2(2) of Article IX-C a quasi-judicial power
of the COMELEC. Ergo, petitioners and petitioner-intervenors call
on the COMELEC to exercise a function quasi-judicial in nature but
invoke a constitutionally-vested administrative power as legal
basis thereof. This is impermissible.

It bears emphasis that Section 2(2) of Article IX-C of the


Constitution can neither be applied to the petition for revision and
recount of plebiscite votes, for the Constitution expressly
enunciates the quasi-judicial power of the COMELEC as covering
the exercise of exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests
relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective
regional, provincial and city officials appellate jurisdiction over all
contests involving elective municipal official decided by trial
courts of general jurisdiction, involving elective barangay officials
decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction. To extend by
implication the jurisdiction to plebiscite results violates the clear
provision of the Constitution.

In Lopez v. Roxas,[3] this Court held that the Constitution vests the
entirety of judicial power in the judicial branch "except only so
much as the Constitution confers upon some other agency' in
which case said agency would be exercising quasi-judicial power.
Consequently, where the power has not been expressly delegated
by either the law or the Constitution to "some other agency," the
same remains lodged with the judicial branch.

Since neither the Constitution nor any law confers upon the
COMELEC the jurisdiction to order the revision and recount of
ballots in plebiscites or any contests arising from plebiscite
results, it is the judicial branch that can take cognizance thereof.

Not only by analogy with election contests can it be concluded


that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction over controversies involving
plebiscites. The case at bar does not simply involve "the
determination of whether the electorate of Taguig voted in favor
of, or against the conversion of the municipality of Taguig into a
highly urbanized city" as seen by the majority. For petitioners are
alleging that there have been fraud, anomalies and irregularities
in the balloting and counting. Whether there was fraud or there
were anomalies or irregularities is a legal question which is
determinable by a judicial or quasi-judicial body calling for the
exercise of judicial power or quasi-judicial power as the case may
be.

The majority also view the case as not calling for the exercise of
judicial power as it does not involve violation of any legally
demandable and enforceable right nor the protection of the
private interest of any individual and does not contemplate the
clash of contending private parties. I beg to differ. The Taguig
electorate, being directly affected by the proposed conversion
into cityhood, has the constitutionally vested right to vote in said
plebiscite.[4] The exercise of such right would be futile if it does not
come with the concurrent right to a canvass free from fraud,
anomalies and irregularities. As said right is alleged to have been
impaired, as in the case at bar, then there exists a controversy
which calls for the exercise of judicial power.

Just as I beg to disagree with the conclusion that the exercise of


judicial and quasi-judicial powers of courts and administrative
tribunals is limited only to contests relating to elected officials and
not to plebiscites. The question is not whether the case involves a
plebiscite or an elected official.

To determine whether a case calls for the exercise of judicial or


quasi-judicial powers of courts or administrative tribunals is to
determine whether it involves a justiciable controversy or only
involves a purely administrative function.

As previously pointed out, the case at bar calls for determination


as to whether the balloting and canvassing was attended with
fraud, anomalies and irregularities, a legal question which is
clearly justiciable and thus requires the exercise of judicial or
quasi-judicial power.

Being justiciable, B.P. Big. 129 or the Judiciary Reorganization Act


of 1980, specifically Section 19, which provides:

Section 19. Jurisdiction in Civil Cases. Regional Trial Courts


shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:

xxx xxx xxx.


(6) In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court,
tribunal, person or body exercising jurisdiction of any court,
tribunal, person or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
functions;
xxx xxx xxx.

(Italics supplied)

applies.
The above-quoted provision is not limited to traditional civil
cases, i.e., involving the violation of a right of specific person, as
the majority seems to point out. The Rules of Court provides
for special civil actions of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus for
questioning the legality of any law, act, order or ordinance.
Thespecial civil action of quo warranto may also be commenced
by a verified petition brought in the name of the Republic or the
Philippines. Such civil actions do not necessarily involve a
violation of a specific right of a particular person.

As to the apparent fear of "jumbled justice" that may result in


giving the Regional Trial Courts jurisdiction over petitions to annul
plebiscite results in the event that they involve a nationwide
plebiscite, it should be stressed that the present petition
accentuates the present gap in the law as neither the Constitution
nor legislation provides which court or body has jurisdiction over
said controversy. Recognizing such gap in the law, however, does
not empower the judiciary to fill it in without committing judicial
legislation.

WHEREFORE, I vote that the petition be DISMISSED, without


prejudice to the filing of an appropriate action with the proper
court.
[1]
Rollo at 326.
[2]
G.R. No. 153945. February 4. 2003.
[3]
17 SCRA 756 (1966).

Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution reads: "No


[4]

province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided,


merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in
accordance with the criteria established in the local government
code and subject to approval by majority of the votes cast in a
Plebiscite in the political units directly affected."
Case Digest
FACTS:

Reynato Baytan registered as a voter in two precincts and the


COMELEC En Banc affirmed the recommendation of its Law
Department to file information of double registration in violation
of the Election Code.

Baytan filed with the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari on


the grounds, among others, that there was no probable cause and
that election cases must first be heard and decided by a Division
before the COMELEC En Banc can assume jurisdiction.

RULING:

1. It is well- settled that the finding of probable cause in the


prosecution of election offenses rests in the sound discretion of
the COMELEC. Generally, the Court will not interfere with such
finding of the COMELEC, absent a clear showing of grave abuse of
discretion. This principle emanates from the exclusive power of
the COMELEC to conduct preliminary investigation of all election
investigation of all election offenses and to prosecute the same.

2. Under Sec. 2, Art. IX-C of the Constitution, the COMELEC


exercises both administrative and quasi-judicial powers. The
administrative powers are found in Sec 2. (1), (3) to (9) of Art IX-
C. The Constitution does not provide on whether these
administrative powers shall be exercised by the COMELEC en
banc or in division. The COMELEC en banc therefore can act on
administrative matters, and this had been the practice under the
1973 and 1987 Constitutions. The prosecution by the COMELEC of
violations of election laws is an administrative power.

3. The exercise by the COMELEC of its quasi-judicial powers is


subject to Sec.3, Art.IX-C which expressly requires that all election
cases, including pre-proclamation controversies, shall be decided
by the COMELEC in division, and the motion for reconsideration
shall be decided by the COMELEC en banc.