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G.R. No.

175587 September 21, 2007


PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL INTERNATIONAL BANK, Petitioner,
vs.
JOSEPH ANTHONY M. ALEJANDRO, Respondent.

Petitioner filed against respondent Alejandro a complaint for sum of money with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
attachment. Said complaint alleged that respondent, a resident of Hong Kong, executed in favor of petitioner a promissory note
obligating himself to pay P249,828,588.90 plus interest.

In view of the fluctuations in the foreign exchange rates which resulted in the insufficiency of the deposits assigned by respondent as
security for the loan, petitioner requested the latter to put up additional security for the loan.

In praying for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment under Section 1 paragraphs (e) and (f) of Rule 57 of the Rules of Court,
petitioner alleged that (1) respondent fraudulently withdrew his unassigned deposits notwithstanding his verbal promise to PCIB
Assistant Vice-president Corazon B. Nepomuceno not to withdraw the same prior to their assignment as security for the loan; and (2)
that respondent is not a resident of the Philippines.

The trial court granted the application and issued the writ ex parte. Subsequently, respondent filed a motion to quash the writ
contending that the withdrawal of his unassigned deposits was not fraudulent as it was approved by petitioner. He also alleged
that petitioner knew that he maintains a permanent residence and an office address here in the Philippines. In both addresses,
petitioner regularly communicated with him through its representatives. The trial court issued an order quashing the writ. With the
denialof petitionersmotion for reconsideration, it elevated the case to the CA via a petition for certiorari. The CA dismissed the case.

ISSUE: Whether the issuance of the writ of attachment was proper.

RULING: No.

In the instant case, it must be stressed that the writ was issued by the trial court mainly on the representation of petitioner that
respondent is not a resident of the Philippines.

In actions in personam against residents temporarily out of the Philippines, the court need not always attach the defendants
property in order to have authority to try the case. Where the plaintiff seeks to attach the defendants property and to resort to the
concomitant service of summons by publication, the same must be with prior leave, precisely because, if the sole purpose of the
attachment is for the court to acquire jurisdiction, the latter must determine whether from the allegations in the complaint,
substituted service (to persons of suitable discretion at the defendants residence or to a competent person in charge of his office or
regular place of business) will suffice, or whether there is a need to attach the property of the defendant and resort to service of
summons by publication in order for the court to acquire jurisdiction over the case and to comply with the requirements of due
process.

Obviously, the trial courts issuance of the writ was for the sole purpose of acquiring jurisdiction to hear and decide the case. Had the
allegations in the complaint disclosed that respondent has a residence in Quezon City and an office in Makati City, the trial court, if
only for the purpose of acquiring jurisdiction, could have served summons by substituted service on the said addresses, instead of
attaching the property of the defendant. The rules on the application of a writ of attachment must be strictly construed in favor
of the defendant. For attachment is harsh, extraordinary, and summary in nature; it is a rigorous remedy which exposes the debtor to
humiliation and annoyance. It should be resorted to only when necessary and as a last remedy.

It is clear from the foregoing that even on the allegation that respondent is a resident temporarily out of the Philippines, petitioner is
still not entitled to a writ of attachment because the trial court could acquire jurisdiction over the case by substituted service instead
of attaching the property of the defendant.

The misrepresentation of petitioner that respondent does not reside in the Philippines and its omission of his local addresses was
thus a deliberate move to ensure that the application for the writ will be granted.