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the Regional Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Davao

. SECOND DIVISION City. Eventually, it was forwarded to the DENR Regional Office in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

On July 24, 1996, private respondent filed before the RTC a Petition for Relief from
Judgment, reiterating the same allegation in his Motion for New Trial. He averred that unless
there is a determination on who owned the land, he could not be made to vacate the land. He
[G.R. No. 131282. January 4, 2002] also averred that the judgment of the trial court was void inasmuch as the heirs of Artemio
Laurente, Sr., who are indispensable parties, were not impleaded.

On September 24, 1996, Josephine, Ana Soledad and Virginia, all surnamed Laurente,
grandchildren of Artemio who were claiming ownership of the land, filed a Motion for
GABRIEL L. DUERO, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, and BERNARDO A. Intervention. The RTC denied the motion.
ERADEL, respondents.
On October 8, 1996, the trial court issued an order denying the Petition for Relief from
Judgment. In a Motion for Reconsideration of said order, private respondent alleged that the
DECISION RTC had no jurisdiction over the case, since the value of the land was only P5,240 and therefore
it was under the jurisdiction of the municipal trial court. On November 22, 1996, the RTC denied
QUISUMBING, J.: the motion for reconsideration.

This petition for certiorari assails the Decision[1] dated September 17, 1997, of the Court of On January 22, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion for Execution, which the RTC granted on
Appeals in CA-G.R. No. SP No. 2340- UDK, entitled Bernardo Eradel vs. Hon. Ermelino G. January 28. On February 18, 1997, Entry of Judgment was made of record and a writ of
Andal, setting aside all proceedings in Civil Case No. 1075, Gabriel L. Duero vs. Bernardo execution was issued by the RTC on February 27, 1997. On March 12, 1997, private respondent
Eradel, before the Branch 27 of the Regional Trial Court of Tandag, Surigao del Sur. filed his petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals.

The pertinent facts are as follows: The Court of Appeals gave due course to the petition, maintaining that private respondent
is not estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC, Branch 27 in Tandag, Surigao del Sur,
Sometime in 1988, according to petitioner, private respondent Bernardo Eradel[2] entered when private respondent filed with said court his Motion for Reconsideration And/Or Annulment
and occupied petitioners land covered by Tax Declaration No. A-16-13-302, located in Baras, of Judgment. The Court of Appeals decreed as follows:
San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. As shown in the tax declaration, the land had an assessed value
of P5,240. When petitioner politely informed private respondent that the land was his and IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Petition is GRANTED. All proceedings in Gabriel
requested the latter to vacate the land, private respondent refused, but instead threatened him L. Duero vs. Bernardo Eradel, et. al. Civil Case 1075 filed in the Court a quo, including its
with bodily harm. Despite repeated demands, private respondent remained steadfast in his Decision, Annex E of the petition, and its Orders and Writ of Execution and the turn over of the
refusal to leave the land. property to the Private Respondent by the Sheriff of the Court a quo, are declared null and void
and hereby SET ASIDE, No pronouncement as to costs.
On June 16, 1995, petitioner filed before the RTC a complaint for Recovery of Possession
and Ownership with Damages and Attorneys Fees against private respondent and two others,
namely, Apolinario and Inocencio Ruena. Petitioner appended to the complaint the SO ORDERED.[6]
aforementioned tax declaration. The counsel of the Ruenas asked for extension to file their
Answer and was given until July 18, 1995. Meanwhile, petitioner and the Ruenas executed a
compromise agreement, which became the trial courts basis for a partial judgment rendered on Petitioner now comes before this Court, alleging that the Court of Appeals acted with
January 12, 1996. In this agreement, the Ruenas through their counsel, Atty. Eusebio Avila, grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction when it held that:
entered into a Compromise Agreement with herein petitioner, Gabriel Duero. Inter alia, the I.
agreement stated that the Ruenas recognized and bound themselves to respect the ownership
and possession of Duero.[3] Herein private respondent Eradel was not a party to the agreement,
and he was declared in default for failure to file his answer to the complaint. [4] THE LOWER COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE
CASE.
Petitioner presented his evidence ex parte on February 13, 1996. On May 8, 1996,
judgment was rendered in his favor, and private respondent was ordered to peacefully vacate
and turn over Lot No. 1065 Cad. 537-D to petitioner; pay petitioner P2,000 annual rental from II
1988 up the time he vacates the land, and P5,000 as attorneys fees and the cost of the
suit.[5] Private respondent received a copy of the decision on May 25, 1996. PRIVATE RESPONDENT WAS NOT THEREBY ESTOPPED FROM QUESTIONING THE
JURISDICTION OF THE LOWER COURT EVEN AFTER IT SUCCESSFULLY SOUGHT
On June 10, 1996, private respondent filed a Motion for New Trial, alleging that he has AFFIRMATIVE RELIEF THEREFROM.
been occupying the land as a tenant of Artemio Laurente, Sr., since 1958. He explained that he
turned over the complaint and summons to Laurente in the honest belief that as landlord, the
latter had a better right to the land and was responsible to defend any adverse claim on III
it. However, the trial court denied the motion for new trial.

Meanwhile, RED Conflict Case No. 1029, an administrative case between petitioner and THE FAILURE OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT TO FILE HIS ANSWER IS JUSTIFIED.[7]
applicant-contestants Romeo, Artemio and Jury Laurente, remained pending with the Office of
The main issue before us is whether the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion issue of lack of jurisdiction, not when the case was already on appeal, but when the case was
when it held that the municipal trial court had jurisdiction, and that private respondent was not still before the RTC that ruled him in default, denied his motion for new trial as well as for relief
estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC after he had filed several motions before from judgment, and denied likewise his two motions for reconsideration. After the RTC still
it. The secondary issue is whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that private respondents refused to reconsider the denial of private respondents motion for relief from judgment, it went
failure to file an answer to the complaint was justified. on to issue the order for entry of judgment and a writ of execution.

At the outset, however, we note that petitioner through counsel submitted to this Court Under these circumstances, we could not fault the Court of Appeals in overruling the RTC
pleadings that contain inaccurate statements. Thus, on page 5 of his petition,[8] we find that to and in holding that private respondent was not estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the
bolster the claim that the appellate court erred in holding that the RTC had no jurisdiction, regional trial court. The fundamental rule is that, the lack of jurisdiction of the court over an
petitioner pointed to Annex E [9] of his petition which supposedly is the Certification issued by the action cannot be waived by the parties, or even cured by their silence, acquiescence or even by
Municipal Treasurer of San Miguel, Surigao, specifically containing the notation, Note: Subject their express consent.[19] Further, a party may assail the jurisdiction of the court over the action
for General Revision Effective 1994. But it appears that Annex E of his petition is not a at any stage of the proceedings and even on appeal. [20] The appellate court did not err in saying
Certification but a xerox copy of a Declaration of Real Property. Nowhere does the document that the RTC should have declared itself barren of jurisdiction over the action. Even if private
contain a notation, Note: Subject for General Revision Effective 1994. Petitioner also asked this respondent actively participated in the proceedings before said court, the doctrine of estoppel
Court to refer to Annex F,[10] where he said the zonal value of the disputed land was P1.40 per cannot still be properly invoked against him because the question of lack of jurisdiction may be
sq.m., thus placing the computed value of the land at the time the complaint was filed before the raised at anytime and at any stage of the action. [21] Precedents tell us that as a general rule, the
RTC at P57,113.98, hence beyond the jurisdiction of the municipal court and within the jurisdiction of a court is not a question of acquiescence as a matter of fact, but an issue of
jurisdiction of the regional trial court. However, we find that these annexes are both merely xerox conferment as a matter of law.[22] Also, neither waiver nor estoppel shall apply to confer
copies. They are obviously without evidentiary weight or value. jurisdiction upon a court, barring highly meritorious and exceptional circumstances.[23]The Court
of Appeals found support for its ruling in our decision in Javier vs. Court of Appeals, thus:
Coming now to the principal issue, petitioner contends that respondent appellate court
acted with grave abuse of discretion. By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious and
whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to an excess or a lack of jurisdiction. The x x x The point simply is that when a party commits error in filing his suit or proceeding in a court
abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or that lacks jurisdiction to take cognizance of the same, such act may not at once be deemed
a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law as sufficient basis of estoppel. It could have been the result of an honest mistake, or of divergent
where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or interpretations of doubtful legal provisions. If any fault is to be imputed to a party taking such
hostility.[11] But here we find that in its decision holding that the municipal court has jurisdiction course of action, part of the blame should be placed on the court which shall entertain
over the case and that private respondent was not estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the suit, thereby lulling the parties into believing that they pursued their remedies in the
the RTC, respondent Court of Appeals discussed the facts on which its decision is grounded as correct forum. Under the rules, it is the duty of the court to dismiss an action whenever it
well as the law and jurisprudence on the matter.[12] Its action was neither whimsical nor appears that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter. (Sec. 2, Rule 9, Rules of
capricious. Court) Should the Court render a judgment without jurisdiction, such judgment may be
impeached or annulled for lack of jurisdiction (Sec. 30, Rule 132, Ibid), within ten (10) years from
Was private respondent estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC? In this the finality of the same. [Emphasis ours.][24]
case, we are in agreement with the Court of Appeals that he was not. While participation in all
stages of a case before the trial court, including invocation of its authority in asking for
Indeed, the trial court was duty-bound to take judicial notice of the parameters of its jurisdiction
affirmative relief, effectively bars a party by estoppel from challenging the courts
and its failure to do so, makes its decision a lawless thing.[25]
jurisdiction,[13] we note that estoppel has become an equitable defense that is both substantive
and remedial and its successful invocation can bar a right and not merely its equitable Since a decision of a court without jurisdiction is null and void, it could logically never
enforcement.[14] Hence, estoppel ought to be applied with caution. For estoppel to apply, the become final and executory, hence appeal therefrom by writ of error would be out of the
action giving rise thereto must be unequivocal and intentional because, if misapplied, estoppel question. Resort by private respondent to a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals
may become a tool of injustice.[15] was in order.
In the present case, private respondent questions the jurisdiction of RTC in Tandag, In holding that estoppel did not prevent private respondent from questioning the RTCs
Surigao del Sur, on legal grounds. Recall that it was petitioner who filed the complaint against jurisdiction, the appellate court reiterated the doctrine that estoppel must be applied only in
private respondent and two other parties before the said court,[16] believing that the RTC had exceptional cases, as its misapplication could result in a miscarriage of justice. Here, we find
jurisdiction over his complaint. But by then, Republic Act 7691[17] amending BP 129 had become that petitioner, who claims ownership of a parcel of land, filed his complaint before a court
effective, such that jurisdiction already belongs not to the RTC but to the MTC pursuant to said without appropriate jurisdiction. Defendant, a farmer whose tenancy status is still pending before
amendment. Private respondent, an unschooled farmer, in the mistaken belief that since he was the proper administrative agency concerned, could have moved for dismissal of the case on
merely a tenant of the late Artemio Laurente Sr., his landlord, gave the summons to a Hipolito jurisdictional grounds. But the farmer as defendant therein could not be expected to know the
Laurente, one of the surviving heirs of Artemio Sr., who did not do anything about the nuances of jurisdiction and related issues. This farmer, who is now the private respondent, ought
summons. For failure to answer the complaint, private respondent was declared in default. He not to be penalized when he claims that he made an honest mistake when he initially submitted
then filed a Motion for New Trial in the same court and explained that he defaulted because of his motions before the RTC, before he realized that the controversy was outside the RTCs
his belief that the suit ought to be answered by his landlord. In that motion he stated that he had cognizance but within the jurisdiction of the municipal trial court. To hold him in estoppel as the
by then the evidence to prove that he had a better right than petitioner over the land because of RTC did would amount to foreclosing his avenue to obtain a proper resolution of his
his long, continuous and uninterrupted possession as bona-fide tenant-lessee of the land.[18]But case. Furthermore, if the RTCs order were to be sustained, he would be evicted from the land
his motion was denied. He tried an alternative recourse. He filed before the RTC a Motion for prematurely, while RED Conflict Case No. 1029 would remain unresolved. Such eviction on a
Relief from Judgment. Again, the same court denied his motion, hence he moved for technicality if allowed could result in an injustice, if it is later found that he has a legal right to till
reconsideration of the denial. In his Motion for Reconsideration, he raised for the first time the the land he now occupies as tenant-lessee.
RTCs lack of jurisdiction. This motion was again denied. Note that private respondent raised the
Having determined that there was no grave abuse of discretion by the appellate court in
ruling that private respondent was not estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC, we
need not tarry to consider in detail the second issue. Suffice it to say that, given the
circumstances in this case, no error was committed on this score by respondent appellate
court. Since the RTC had no jurisdiction over the case, private respondent had justifiable reason
in law not to file an answer, aside from the fact that he believed the suit was properly his
landlords concern.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals
is AFFIRMED. The decision of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 1075 entitled Gabriel L.
Duero vs. Bernardo Eradel, its Order that private respondent turn over the disputed land to
petitioner, and the Writ of Execution it issued, are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Costs against
petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION Not satisfied with the judgment dismissing the complaint as against the private
respondents, petitioner appealed to the Regional Trial Court (Branch 47) of Manila (RTC). [7]In a
Decision[8] dated July 5, 1996, the RTC sustained the decision of the MeTC.

Undaunted, petitioner filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals (CA for brevity),
[G.R. No. 129638. December 8, 2003] docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 41394. In a Resolution dated March 21, 1997, the CA dismissed
the petition on two grounds: (a) the certification of non-forum shopping was signed by petitioners
counsel and not by petitioner himself, in violation of Revised Circular No. 28-91;[9] and, (b) the
only annex to the petition is a certified copy of the questioned decision but copies of the
pleadings and other material portions of the record as would support the allegations of the
ANTONIO T. DONATO, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, FILOMENO ARCEPE, petition are not annexed, contrary to Section 3, paragraph b, Rule 6 of the Revised Internal
TIMOTEO BARCELONA, IGNACIO BENDOL, THELMA P. BULICANO, Rules of the Court of Appeals (RIRCA).[10]
ROSALINDA CAPARAS, ROSITA DE COSTO, FELIZA DE GUZMAN, LETICIA DE
LOS REYES, ROGELIO GADDI, PAULINO GAJARDO, GERONIMO IMPERIAL, On April 17, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, [11] attaching thereto a
HOMER IMPERIAL, ELVIRA LESLIE, CEFERINO LUGANA, HECTOR PIMENTEL, photocopy of the certification of non-forum shopping duly signed by petitioner himself[12] and the
NIMFA PIMENTEL, AURELIO G. ROCERO, ILUMINADA TARA, JUANITO relevant records of the MeTC and the RTC.[13] Five days later, or on April 22, 1997, petitioner
VALLESPIN, AND NARCISO YABUT, respondents. filed a Supplement[14] to his motion for reconsideration submitting the duly authenticated original
of the certification of non-forum shopping signed by petitioner.[15]

DECISION In a Resolution[16] dated June 23, 1997 the CA denied petitioners motion for
reconsideration and its supplement, ruling that petitioners subsequent compliance did not cure
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: the defect in the instant petition.[17]

Hence, the present petition anchored on the following grounds:


Before us is a petition for review on certiorari filed on July 17, 1997 which should be a
petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. It assails the Resolutions[1]dated March I.
21, 1997 and June 23, 1997 issued by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 41394.[2]

The factual background of the case is as follows: RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DISMISSING THE PETITION
BASED ON HYPER-TECHNICAL GROUNDS BECAUSE:
Petitioner Antonio T. Donato is the registered owner of a real property located at Ciriaco
Tuason Street, San Andres, Manila, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 131793 issued
by the Register of Deeds of the City of Manila on November 24, 1978. On June 7, 1994, A. PETITIONER HAS SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLIED WITH SUPREME COURT
petitioner filed a complaint before the Metropolitan Trial Court (Branch 26) of Manila (MeTC) for CIRCULAR NO. 28-91. MORE, PETITIONER SUBSEQUENTLY
forcible entry and unlawful detainer against 43 named defendants and all unknown occupants of SUBMITTED DURING THE PENDENCY OF THE PROCEEDINGS A
the subject property.[3] DULY AUTHENTICATED CERTIFICATE OF NON-FORUM SHOPPING
WHICH HE HIMSELF SIGNED AND EXECUTED IN THE UNITED
Petitioner alleges that: private respondents had oral contracts of lease that expired at the STATES.
end of each month but were impliedly renewed under the same terms by mere acquiescence or
tolerance; sometime in 1992, they stopped paying rent; on April 7, 1994, petitioner sent them a B. PETITIONER HAS SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLIED WITH SECTION 3, RULE
written demand to vacate; the non-compliance with said demand letter constrained him to file the 6 OF THE REVISED INTERNAL RULES OF THE COURT OF
ejectment case against them.[4] APPEALS. MORE, PETITIONER SUBSEQUENTLY SUBMITTED
Of the 43 named defendants, only 20 (private respondents,[5] for brevity) filed a DURING THE PENDENCY OF THE PROCEEDINGS COPIES OF THE
consolidated Answer dated June 29, 1994 wherein they denied non-payment of rentals.They RELEVANT DOCUMENTS IN THE CASES BELOW.
contend that they cannot be evicted because the Urban Land Reform Law guarantees security
of tenure and priority right to purchase the subject property; and that there was a negotiation for C. PETITIONER HAS A MERITORIOUS APPEAL, AND HE STANDS TO LOSE
the purchase of the lots occupied by them but when the negotiation reached a passive stage, SUBSTANTIAL PROPERTY IF THE APPEAL IS NOT GIVEN DUE
they decided to continue payment of rentals and tendered payment to petitioners counsel and COURSE. THE RULES OF PROCEDURE MUST BE LIBERALLY
thereafter initiated a petition for consignation of the rentals in Civil Case No. 144049 while they CONSTRUED TO DO SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE.
await the outcome of the negotiation to purchase.

Following trial under the Rule on Summary Procedure, the MeTC rendered judgment on II.
September 19, 1994 against the 23 non-answering defendants, ordering them to vacate the
premises occupied by each of them, and to pay jointly and severally P10,000.00 per month from RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT ALL THE
the date they last paid their rent until the date they actually vacate, plus interest thereon at the ELEMENTS OF UNLAWFUL DETAINER ARE PRESENT IN THE CASE AT BAR.
legal rate allowed by law, as well as P10,000.00 as attorneys fees and the costs of the suit. As
to the 20 private respondents, the MeTC issued a separate judgment[6] on the same day
sustaining their rights under the Land Reform Law, declaring petitioners cause of action as not III.
duly warranted by the facts and circumstances of the case and dismissing the case without
prejudice.
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT THE RTC MANILA, THEY ACTUALLY VACATE THE SAME, WITH LEGAL INTEREST AT THE MAXIMUM RATE
BRANCH 47, COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN AFFIRMING THE FINDING OF MTC ALLOWED BY LAW UNTIL PAID.
MANILA, BRANCH 26, THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS CANNOT BE EJECTED FROM THE
SUBJECT PROPERTY WITHOUT VIOLATING THEIR SECURITY OF TENURE EVEN IF THE
V.
TERM OF THE LEASE IS MONTH-TO-MONTH WHICH EXPIRES AT THE END OF EACH
MONTH. IN THIS REGARD,
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT
RESPONDENTS SHOULD PAY PETITIONER ATTORNEYS FEES AND EXPENSES OF
A. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE RULED THAT THE
LITIGATION OF AT LEAST P20,000.00, PLUS COSTS.[18]
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT RULING
THAT TENANTS UNDER P.D. 1517 MAY BE EVICTED FOR NON-
PAYMENT OF RENT, TERMINATION OF LEASE OR OTHER Petitioner submits that a relaxation of the rigid rules of technical procedure is called for in
GROUNDS FOR EJECTMENT. view of the attendant circumstances showing that the objectives of the rule on certification of
non-forum shopping and the rule requiring material portions of the record be attached to the
petition have not been glaringly violated and, more importantly, the petition is meritorious.
B. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE RULED THAT THE
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT RULING The proper recourse of an aggrieved party from a decision of the CA is a petition for
THAT THE ALLEGED PRIORITY RIGHT TO BUY THE LOT THEY review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. However, if the error, subject of the
OCCUPY DOES NOT APPLY WHERE THE LANDOWNER DOES NOT recourse, is one of jurisdiction, or the act complained of was perpetrated by a court with grave
INTEND TO SELL THE SUBJECT PROPERTY, AS IN THE CASE AT abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the proper remedy available to
BAR. the aggrieved party is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the said Rules. As enunciated by
the Court in Fortich vs. Corona:[19]
C. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE RULED THAT THE
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RULING THAT Anent the first issue, in order to determine whether the recourse of petitioners is proper or not, it
THE SUBJECT PROPERTY IS LOCATED WITHIN A ZONAL is necessary to draw a line between an error of judgment and an error of jurisdiction. An error of
IMPROVEMENT AREA OR APD. judgment is one which the court may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction, and which error is
reviewable only by an appeal. On the other hand, an error of jurisdiction is one where the act
D. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE RULED THAT THE complained of was issued by the court, officer or a quasi-judicial body without or in excess of
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT RULING jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion which is tantamount to lack or in excess of
THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE jurisdiction. This error is correctible only by the extraordinary writ of certiorari.[20] (Emphasis
CONDITIONS UNDER THE LAW RESULT IN THE WAIVER OF supplied).
PROTECTION AGAINST EVICTION.
Inasmuch as the present petition principally assails the dismissal of the petition on ground of
E. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE RULED THAT THE procedural flaws involving the jurisdiction of the court a quo to entertain the petition, it falls within
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT RULING the ambit of a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS CANNOT BE ENTITLED TO
PROTECTION UNDER P.D. 2016 SINCE THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO At the time the instant petition for certiorari was filed, i.e., on July 17, 1997, the prevailing
INTENTION OF ACQUIRING THE SUBJECT PROPERTY. rule is the newly promulgated 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. However, considering that the CA
Resolution being assailed was rendered on March 21, 1997, the applicable rule is the three-
month reglementary period, established by jurisprudence.[21]Petitioner received notice of the
F. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE RULED THAT THE assailed CA Resolution dismissing his petition for review on April 4, 1997. He filed his motion
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN FINDING THAT reconsideration on April 17, 1997, using up only thirteen days of the 90-day period. Petitioner
THERE IS AN ON-GOING NEGOTIATION FOR THE SALE OF THE received the CA Resolution denying his motion on July 3, 1997 and fourteen days later, or on
SUBJECT PROPERTY AND THAT IT RENDERS THE EVICTION OF July 17, 1997, he filed a motion for 30-day extension of time to file a petition for review which
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS PREMATURE. was granted by us; and petitioner duly filed his petition on August 15, 1997, which is well-within
the period of extension granted to him.
G. RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD HAVE RULED THAT THE We now go to the merits of the case.
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT RULING
THAT THE ALLEGED CASE FOR CONSIGNATION DOES NOT BAR We find the instant petition partly meritorious.
THE EVICTION OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS.
The requirement regarding the need for a certification of non-forum shopping in cases filed
before the CA and the corresponding sanction for non-compliance thereto are found in the then
IV. prevailing Revised Circular No. 28-91.[22] It provides that the petitioner himself must make the
certification against forum shopping and a violation thereof shall be a cause for the summary
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT dismissal of the multiple petition or complaint. The rationale for the rule of personal execution of
RESPONDENTS SHOULD PAY PETITIONER A REASONABLE COMPENSATION FOR THEIR the certification by the petitioner himself is that it is only the petitioner who has actual knowledge
USE AND OCCUPANCY OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY IN THE AMOUNT OF AT of whether or not he has initiated similar actions or proceedings in other courts or tribunals; even
LEAST P10,000.00 PER MONTH FROM THE DATE THEY LAST PAID RENT UNTIL THE TIME counsel of record may be unaware of such fact.[23] The Court has ruled that with respect to the
contents of the certification, the rule on substantial compliance may be availed of. This is so technicalities.[39] This guideline is especially true when the petitioner has satisfactorily explained
because the requirement of strict compliance with the rule regarding the certification of non- the lapse and fulfilled the requirements in his motion for reconsideration, [40] as in this case.
forum shopping simply underscores its mandatory nature in that the certification cannot be
altogether dispensed with or its requirements completely disregarded, but it does not thereby In addition, petitioner prays that we decide the present petition on the merits without need
interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under justifiable circumstances. [24] of remanding the case to the CA. He insists that all the elements of unlawful detainer are present
in the case. He further argues that the alleged priority right to buy the lot they occupy does not
The petition for review filed before the CA contains a certification against forum shopping apply where the landowner does not intend to sell the subject property, as in the case; that
but said certification was signed by petitioners counsel. In submitting the certification of non- respondents cannot be entitled to protection under P.D. No. 2016 since the government has no
forum shopping duly signed by himself in his motion for reconsideration,[25] petitioner has aptly intention of acquiring the subject property, nor is the subject property located within a zonal
drawn the Courts attention to the physical impossibility of filing the petition for review within the improvement area; and, that assuming that there is a negotiation for the sale of the subject
15-day reglementary period to appeal considering that he is a resident of 1125 South Jefferson property or a pending case for consignation of rentals, these do not bar the eviction of
Street, Roanoke, Virginia, U.S.A. were he to personally accomplish and sign the certification. respondents.

We fully agree with petitioner that it was physically impossible for the petition to have been We are not persuaded. We shall refrain from ruling on the foregoing issues in the present
prepared and sent to the petitioner in the United States, for him to travel from Virginia, U.S.A. to petition for certiorari. The issues involved are factual issues which inevitably require the
the nearest Philippine Consulate in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., in order to sign the certification weighing of evidence. These are matters that are beyond the province of this Court in a special
before the Philippine Consul, and for him to send back the petition to the Philippines within the civil action for certiorari. These issues are best addressed to the CA in the petition for review
15-day reglementary period. Thus, we find that petitioner has adequately explained his failure to filed before it. As an appellate court, it is empowered to require parties to submit additional
personally sign the certification which justifies relaxation of the rule. documents, as it may find necessary, or to receive evidence, to promote the ends of justice,
pursuant to the last paragraph of Section 9, B.P. Blg. 129, otherwise known as The Judiciary
We have stressed that the rules on forum shopping, which were precisely designed to Reorganization Act of 1980, to wit:
promote and facilitate the orderly administration of justice, should not be interpreted with such
absolute literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objective [26] which is simply to
prohibit and penalize the evils of forum-shopping.[27] The subsequent filing of the certification The Intermediate Appellate Court shall have the power to try cases and conduct hearings,
duly signed by the petitioner himself should thus be deemed substantial receive evidence and perform any and all acts necessary to resolve factual issues raised in
compliance, pro hac vice. cases falling within its original and appellate jurisdiction, including the power to grant and
conduct new trials or further proceedings.
In like manner, the failure of the petitioner to comply with Section 3, paragraph b, Rule 6 of
the RIRCA, that is, to append to his petition copies of the pleadings and other material portions
WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The Resolutions dated March 21,
of the records as would support the petition, does not justify the outright dismissal of the
1997 and June 23, 1997 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 41394 are REVERSED and
petition. It must be emphasized that the RIRCA gives the appellate court a certain leeway to
SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings in CA-
require parties to submit additional documents as may be necessary in the interest of substantial
G.R. No. 41394, entitled, Antonio T. Donato vs. Hon. Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
justice. Under Section 3, paragraph d of Rule 3 of the RIRCA,[28] the CA may require the parties
Manila, Branch 47, Filomeno Arcepe, et al.
to complete the annexes as the court deems necessary, and if the petition is given due course,
the CA may require the elevation of a complete record of the case as provided for under Section SO ORDERED.
3(d)(5) of Rule 6 of the RIRCA.[29] At any rate, petitioner attached copies of the pleadings and
other material portions of the records below with his motion for reconsideration. [30] In Jaro vs.
Court of Appeals,[31] the Court reiterated the doctrine laid down in Cusi-Hernandez vs.
Diaz[32] and Piglas-Kamao vs. National Labor Relations Commission[33] that subsequent
submission of the missing documents with the motion for reconsideration amounts to substantial
compliance which calls for the relaxation of the rules of procedure. We find no cogent reason to
depart from this doctrine.

Truly, in dismissing the petition for review, the CA had committed grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in putting a premium on technicalities at the expense
of a just resolution of the case.

Needless to stress, "a litigation is not a game of technicalities." [34] When technicality
deserts its function of being an aid to justice, the Court is justified in exempting from its
operations a particular case.[35] Technical rules of procedure should be used to promote, not
frustrate justice. While the swift unclogging of court dockets is a laudable objective, granting
substantial justice is an even more urgent ideal.[36]

The Courts pronouncement in Republic vs. Court of Appeals[37] is worth echoing: cases
should be determined on the merits, after full opportunity to all parties for ventilation of
their causes and defenses, rather than on technicality or some procedural
imperfections. In that way, the ends of justice would be better served.[38]Thus, what should
guide judicial action is that a party litigant is given the fullest opportunity to establish the merits of
his action or defense rather than for him to lose life, honor or property on mere
THIRD DIVISION The logic and common sense of the situation lean heavily in favor of the defendant. It is evident
that what plaintiff had bought from the defendant is Lot 19 covered by TCT No. 28254 which
parcel of land has been properly indicated in the instruments and not Lot 18 as claimed by the
plaintiff. The contracts being clear and unmistakable, they reflect the true intention of the parties,
besides the plaintiff failed to assail the contracts on mutual mistake, hence the same need no
[G.R. No. 144025. December 27, 2002] longer be reformed.[3]

On June 22, 1998, a writ of execution was issued by the trial court. Thus, on September
17, 1998, petitioners filed an urgent motion to recall writ of execution, alleging that the court a
SPS. RENE GONZAGA and LERIO GONZAGA, petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, quo had no jurisdiction to try the case as it was vested in the Housing and Land Use Regulatory
Second Division, Manila, HON. QUIRICO G. DEFENSOR, Judge, RTC, Branch 36, Board (HLURB) pursuant to PD 957 (The Subdivision and Condominium Buyers Protective
Sixth Judicial Region, Iloilo City, and LUCKY HOMES, INC., represented by Decree). Conformably, petitioners filed a new complaint against private respondent with the
WILSON JESENA, JR., as Manager, respondents. HLURB. Likewise, on June 30, 1999, petitioner-spouses filed before the Court of Appeals a
petition for annulment of judgment, premised on the ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction
to try and decide Civil Case No. 17115.
DECISION
In a decision rendered on December 29, 1999, the Court of Appeals denied the petition for
CORONA, J.: annulment of judgment, relying mainly on the jurisprudential doctrine of estoppel as laid down in
the case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy.[4]
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the Their subsequent motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioners filed this
decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated December 29, 1999 and its resolution dated June 1, instant petition, contending that the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the petition by applying
2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 54587. the principle of estoppel, even if the Regional Trial Court, Branch 36 of Iloilo City had no
The records disclose that, sometime in 1970, petitioner-spouses purchased a parcel of jurisdiction to decide Civil Case No. 17115.
land from private respondent Lucky Homes, Inc., situated in Iloilo and containing an area of 240 At the outset, it should be stressed that petitioners are seeking from us the annulment of a
square meters. Said lot was specifically denominated as Lot No. 19 under Transfer Certificate of trial court judgment based on lack of jurisdiction. Because it is not an appeal, the correctness of
Title (TCT) No. 28254 and was mortgaged to the Social Security System (SSS) as security for the judgment is not in issue here. Accordingly, there is no need to delve into the propriety of the
their housing loan. Petitioners then started the construction of their house, not on Lot No. 19 but decision rendered by the trial court.
on Lot No. 18, as private respondent mistakenly identified Lot No. 18 as Lot No. 19. Upon
realizing its error, private respondent, through its general manager, informed petitioners of such Petitioners claim that the recent decisions of this Court have already abandoned the
mistake but the latter offered to buy Lot No. 18 in order to widen their premises. Thus, petitioners doctrine laid down in Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy.[5] We do not agree. In countless decisions, this
continued with the construction of their house. However, petitioners defaulted in the payment of Court has consistently held that, while an order or decision rendered without jurisdiction is a total
their housing loan from SSS. Consequently, Lot No. 19 was foreclosed by SSS and petitioners nullity and may be assailed at any stage, active participation in the proceedings in the court
certificate of title was cancelled and a new one was issued in the name of SSS. After Lot No. 19 which rendered the order or decision will bar such party from attacking its jurisdiction. As we
was foreclosed, petitioners offered to swap Lot Nos. 18 and 19 and demanded from private held in the leading case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy:[6]
respondent that their contract of sale be reformed and another deed of sale be executed with
respect to Lot No. 18, considering that their house was built therein. However, private
respondent refused. This prompted petitioners to file, on June 13, 1996, an action for A party may be estopped or barred from raising a question in different ways and for different
reformation of contract and damages with the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch 36, reasons. Thus we speak of estoppel in pais, or estoppel by deed or by record, and of estoppel
which was docketed as Civil Case No. 17115. by laches.

On January 15, 1998, the trial court[2] rendered its decision dismissing the complaint for xxx
lack of merit and ordering herein petitioners to pay private respondent the amount of P10,000 as
moral damages and another P10,000 as attorneys fees. The pertinent conclusion of the trial
court reads as follows: It has been held that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief
against his opponent and, after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate, or question
that same jurisdiction x x x x [T]he question whether the court had jurisdiction either of the
Aware of such fact, the plaintiff nonetheless continued to stay in the premises of Lot 18 on the subject matter of the action or of the parties was not important in such cases because the party
proposal that he would also buy the same. Plaintiff however failed to buy Lot 18 and likewise is barred from such conduct not because the judgment or order of the court is valid and
defaulted in the payment of his loan with the SSS involving Lot 19. Consequently Lot 19 was conclusive as an adjudication, but for the reason that such a practice can not be
foreclosed and sold at public auction. Thereafter TCT No. T-29950 was cancelled and in lieu tolerated obviously for reasons of public policy.
thereof TCT No. T-86612 (Exh. 9) was issued in favor of SSS. This being the situation obtaining,
the reformation of instruments, even if allowed, or the swapping of Lot 18 and Lot 19 as earlier
proposed by the plaintiff, is no longer feasible considering that plaintiff is no longer the owner of Tijam has been reiterated in many succeeding cases. Thus, in Orosa vs. Court of
Lot 19, otherwise, defendant will be losing Lot 18 without any substitute therefore (sic). Upon the Appeals;[7] Ang Ping vs. Court of Appeals;[8] Salva vs. Court of Appeals;[9] National Steel
other hand, plaintiff will be unjustly enriching himself having in its favor both Lot 19 which was Corporation vs. Court of Appeals;[10] Province of Bulacan vs. Court of Appeals;[11] PNOC
earlier mortgaged by him and subsequently foreclosed by SSS, as well as Lot 18 where his Shipping and Transport Corporation vs. Court of Appeals,[12] this Court affirmed the rule that a
house is presently standing. partys active participation in all stages of the case before the trial court, which includes invoking
the courts authority to grant affirmative relief, effectively estops such party from later challenging
that same courts jurisdiction.

In the case at bar, it was petitioners themselves who invoked the jurisdiction of the court a
quo by instituting an action for reformation of contract against private respondents. It appears
that, in the proceedings before the trial court, petitioners vigorously asserted their cause from
start to finish. Not even once did petitioners ever raise the issue of the courts jurisdiction during
the entire proceedings which lasted for two years. It was only after the trial court rendered its
decision and issued a writ of execution against them in 1998 did petitioners first raise the issue
of jurisdiction and it was only because said decision was unfavorable to them. Petitioners thus
effectively waived their right to question the courts jurisdiction over the case they themselves
filed.

Petitioners should bear the consequence of their act. They cannot be allowed to profit
from their omission to the damage and prejudice of the private respondent. This Court frowns
upon the undesirable practice of a party submitting his case for decision and then accepting the
judgment but only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction if not. [13]

Public policy dictates that this Court must strongly condemn any double-dealing by parties
who are disposed to trifle with the courts by deliberately taking inconsistent positions, in utter
disregard of the elementary principles of justice and good faith. [14] There is no denying that, in
this case, petitioners never raised the issue of jurisdiction throughout the entire proceedings in
the trial court. Instead, they voluntarily and willingly submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of
said court. It is now too late in the day for them to repudiate the jurisdiction they were invoking all
along.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION When arraigned on April 9, 1991,[3] the petitioner, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty
to the offense charged. Thereafter, on December 23, 1991, the petitioner filed a Motion to
Quash[4] the Information alleging that as mandated by Commonwealth Act No. 408, [5] in relation
to Section 1, Presidential Decree No. 1822 and Section 95 of R.A. No. 6975, the court martial,
not the RTC, had jurisdiction over criminal cases involving PNP members and officers.
[G.R. No. 124644. February 5, 2004]
Pending the resolution of the motion, the petitioner on June 25, 1993 requested the Chief
of the PNP for his reinstatement. He alleged that under R.A. No. 6975, his suspension should
last for only 90 days, and, having served the same, he should now be reinstated. On September
23, 1993,[6] the PNP Region V Headquarters wrote Judge David C. Naval requesting information
ARNEL ESCOBAL, petitioner, vs. HON. FRANCIS GARCHITORENA, Presiding Justice of on whether he issued an order lifting the petitioners suspension. The RTC did not reply. Thus,
the Sandiganbayan, Atty. Luisabel Alfonso-Cortez, Executive Clerk of Court IV on February 22, 1994, the petitioner filed a motion in the RTC for the lifting of the order of
of the Sandiganbayan, Hon. David C. Naval, Presiding Judge of the Regional suspension. He alleged that he had served the 90-day preventive suspension and pleaded for
Trial Court of Naga City, Branch 21, Luz N. Nueca, respondents. compassionate justice. The RTC denied the motion on March 9, 1994. [7] Trial thereafter
proceeded, and the prosecution rested its case. The petitioner commenced the presentation of
his evidence. On July 20, 1994, he filed a Motion to Dismiss [8] the case. Citing Republic of the
DECISION Philippines v. Asuncion, et al.,[9] he argued that since he committed the crime in the performance
CALLEJO, SR., J.: of his duties, the Sandiganbayan had exclusive jurisdiction over the case.

On October 28, 1994, the RTC issued an Order[10] denying the motion to dismiss. It,
This is a petition for certiorari with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining however, ordered the conduct of a preliminary hearing to determine whether or not the crime
order and preliminary injunction filed by Arnel Escobal seeking the nullification of the remand by charged was committed by the petitioner in relation to his office as a member of the PNP.
the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan of the records of Criminal Case No. 90-3184 to the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Naga City, Branch 21. In the preliminary hearing, the prosecution manifested that it was no longer presenting any
evidence in connection with the petitioners motion. It reasoned that it had already rested its
The petition at bench arose from the following milieu: case, and that its evidence showed that the petitioner did not commit the offense charged in
connection with the performance of his duties as a member of the Philippine Constabulary.
The petitioner is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, a member of the Armed According to the prosecution, they were able to show the following facts: (a) the petitioner was
Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Constabulary, as well as the Intelligence Group of not wearing his uniform during the incident; (b) the offense was committed just after midnight; (c)
the Philippine National Police. On March 16, 1990, the petitioner was conducting surveillance the petitioner was drunk when the crime was committed; (d) the petitioner was in the company of
operations on drug trafficking at the Sa Harong Caf Bar and Restaurantlocated along Barlin St., civilians; and, (e) the offense was committed in a beerhouse called Sa Harong Caf Bar and
Naga City. He somehow got involved in a shooting incident, resulting in the death of one Rodney Restaurant.[11]
Rafael N. Nueca. On February 6, 1991, an amended Information was filed with the RTC of Naga
City, Branch 21, docketed as Criminal Case No. 90-3184 charging the petitioner and a certain For his part, the petitioner testified that at about 10:00 p.m. on March 15, 1990, he was at
Natividad Bombita, Jr. alias Jun Bombita with murder. The accusatory portion of the amended the Sa Harong Caf Bar and Restaurant at Barlin St., Naga City, to conduct surveillance on
Information reads: alleged drug trafficking, pursuant to Mission Order No. 03-04 issued by Police Superintendent
Rufo R. Pulido. The petitioner adduced in evidence the sworn statements of Benjamin Cario and
Roberto Fajardo who corroborated his testimony that he was on a surveillance mission on the
That on or about March 16, 1990, in the City of Naga, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of aforestated date.[12]
this Honorable Court by virtue of the Presidential Waiver, dated June 1, 1990, with intent to kill,
conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping each other, did, then and there, On July 31, 1995, the trial court issued an Order declaring that the petitioner committed
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and maul one Rodney Nueca and accused 2Lt the crime charged while not in the performance of his official function. The trial court added that
Arnel Escobal armed with a caliber .45 service pistol shoot said Rodney Nueca thereby inflicting upon the enactment of R.A. No. 7975,[13] the issue had become moot and academic. The
upon him serious, mortal and fatal wounds which caused his death, and as a consequence amendatory law transferred the jurisdiction over the offense charged from the Sandiganbayan to
thereof, complainant LUZ N. NUECA, mother of the deceased victim, suffered actual and the RTC since the petitioner did not have a salary grade of 27 as provided for in or by Section
compensatory damages in the amount of THREE HUNDRED SIXTY-SEVEN THOUSAND ONE 4(a)(1), (3) thereof. The trial court nevertheless ordered the prosecution to amend the
HUNDRED SEVEN & 95/100 (P367,107.95) PESOS, Philippine Currency, and moral and Information pursuant to the ruling in Republic v. Asuncion[14] and R.A. No. 7975. The amendment
exemplary damages in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-FIVE THOUSAND consisted in the inclusion therein of an allegation that the offense charged was not committed by
(P135,000.00) PESOS, Philippine Currency.[1] the petitioner in the performance of his duties/functions, nor in relation to his office.

The petitioner filed a motion for the reconsideration[15] of the said order, reiterating that
On March 19, 1991, the RTC issued an Order preventively suspending the petitioner from based on his testimony and those of Benjamin Cario and Roberto Fajardo, the offense charged
the service under Presidential Decree No. 971, as amended by P.D. No. 1847.When apprised of was committed by him in relation to his official functions. He asserted that the trial court failed to
the said order, the General Headquarters of the PNP issued on October 6, 1992 Special Order consider the exceptions to the prohibition. He asserted that R.A. No. 7975, which was enacted
No. 91, preventively suspending the petitioner from the service until the case was terminated. [2] on March 30, 1995, could not be applied retroactively.[16]
The petitioner was arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by the RTC, while accused The petitioner further alleged that Luz Nacario Nueca, the mother of the victim, through
Bombita remained at large. The petitioner posted bail and was granted temporary liberty. counsel, categorically and unequivocably admitted in her complaint filed with the Peoples Law
Enforcement Board (PLEB) that he was on an official mission when the crime was committed.
On November 24, 1995, the RTC made a volte face and issued an Order reversing and the PNP with a salary grade below 27 committed in relation to office are within the exclusive
setting aside its July 31, 1995 Order. It declared that based on the petitioners evidence, he was jurisdiction of the proper RTC, the amendment thus introduced by R.A. No. 7975 should not be
on official mission when the shooting occurred. It concluded that the prosecution failed to applied retroactively. This is so, the petitioner asserts, because under Section 7 of R.A. No.
adduce controverting evidence thereto. It likewise considered Luz Nacario Nuecas admission in 7975, only those cases where trial has not begun in the Sandiganbayan upon the effectivity of
her complaint before the PLEB that the petitioner was on official mission when the shooting the law should be referred to the proper trial court.
happened.
The private complainant agrees with the contention of the petitioner. In contrast, the Office
The RTC ordered the public prosecutor to file a Re-Amended Information and to allege of the Special Prosecutor contends that the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan acted in
that the offense charged was committed by the petitioner in the performance of his accordance with law when he ordered the remand of the case to the RTC. It asserts that R.A.
duties/functions or in relation to his office; and, conformably to R.A. No. 7975, to thereafter No. 7975 should be applied retroactively. Although the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over the
transmit the same, as well as the complete records with the stenographic notes, to the crime committed by the petitioner when the amended information was filed with the RTC, by the
Sandiganbayan, to wit: time it resolved petitioners motion to dismiss on July 31, 1995, R.A. No. 7975 had already taken
effect. Thus, the law should be given retroactive effect.
WHEREFORE, the Order dated July 31, 1995 is hereby SET ASIDE and RECONSIDERED, and
it is hereby declared that after preliminary hearing, this Court has found that the offense charged
in the Information herein was committed by the accused in his relation to his function and duty
as member of the then Philippine Constabulary. The Ruling of the Court

Conformably with R.A. No. 7975 and the ruling of the Supreme Court in Republic v. Asuncion, et
The respondent Presiding Justice acted in accordance with law and the rulings of this
al., G.R. No. 180208, March 11, 1994: Court when he ordered the remand of the case to the RTC, the court of origin.

(1) The City Prosecutor is hereby ordered to file a Re-Amended Information The jurisdiction of the court over criminal cases is determined by the allegations in the
alleging that the offense charged was committed by the Accused Information or the Complaint and the statute in effect at the time of the commencement of the
in the performance of his duties/functions or in relation to his action, unless such statute provides for a retroactive application thereof. The jurisdictional
office, within fifteen (15) days from receipt hereof; requirements must be alleged in the Information.[19] Such jurisdiction of the court acquired at the
inception of the case continues until the case is terminated. [20]

(2) After the filing of the Re-Amended Information, the complete records of Under Section 4(a) of P.D. No. 1606 as amended by P.D. No. 1861, the Sandiganbayan
this case, together with the transcripts of the stenographic notes had exclusive jurisdiction in all cases involving the following:
taken during the entire proceedings herein, are hereby ordered
transmitted immediately to the Honorable Sandiganbayan,
(1) Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
through its Clerk of Court, Manila, for appropriate proceedings.[17]
Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised
Penal Code;
On January 8, 1996, the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan ordered the Executive
Clerk of Court IV, Atty. Luisabel Alfonso-Cortez, to return the records of Criminal Case No. 90-
(2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and employees in relation to their
3184 to the court of origin, RTC of Naga City, Branch 21. It reasoned that under P.D. No. 1606,
office, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, whether
as amended by R.A. No. 7975,[18] the RTC retained jurisdiction over the case, considering that
simple or complexed with other crimes, where the penalty prescribed by law is higher
the petitioner had a salary grade of 23. Furthermore, the prosecution had already rested its case
than prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fine of P6,000.00 .[21]
and the petitioner had commenced presenting his evidence in the RTC; following the rule on
continuity of jurisdiction, the latter court should continue with the case and render judgment
therein after trial. However, for the Sandiganbayan to have exclusive jurisdiction under the said law over
crimes committed by public officers in relation to their office, it is essential that the facts showing
Upon the remand of the records, the RTC set the case for trial on May 3, 1996, for the the intimate relation between the office of the offender and the discharge of official duties must
petitioner to continue presenting his evidence. Instead of adducing his evidence, the petitioner be alleged in the Information. It is not enough to merely allege in the Information that the crime
filed a petition for certiorari, assailing the Order of the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan charged was committed by the offender in relation to his office because that would be a
remanding the records of the case to the RTC. conclusion of law.[22] The amended Information filed with the RTC against the petitioner does not
contain any allegation showing the intimate relation between his office and the discharge of his
The threshold issue for resolution is whether or not the Presiding Justice of the
duties. Hence, the RTC had jurisdiction over the offense charged when on November 24, 1995,
Sandiganbayan committed a grave abuse of his discretion amounting to excess or lack of it ordered the re-amendment of the Information to include therein an allegation that the petitioner
jurisdiction in ordering the remand of the case to the RTC. committed the crime in relation to office. The trial court erred when it ordered the elevation of the
The petitioner contends that when the amended information was filed with the RTC on records to the Sandiganbayan. It bears stressing that R.A. No. 7975 amending P.D. No. 1606
February 6, 1991, P.D. No. 1606 was still in effect. Under Section 4(a) of the decree, the was already in effect and under Section 2 of the law:
Sandiganbayan had exclusive jurisdiction over the case against him as he was charged with
homicide with the imposable penalty of reclusion temporal, and the crime was committed while In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying positions corresponding to salary
in the performance of his duties. He further asserts that although P.D. No. 1606, as amended by grade 27 or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or PNP officers occupying
P.D. No. 1861 and by R.A. No. 7975 provides that crimes committed by members and officers of the rank of superintendent or higher, or their equivalent, exclusive jurisdiction thereof shall be
vested in the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, and
Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as
provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.

Under the law, even if the offender committed the crime charged in relation to his office
but occupies a position corresponding to a salary grade below 27, the proper Regional Trial
Court or Municipal Trial Court, as the case may be, shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the
case. In this case, the petitioner was a Police Senior Inspector, with salary grade 23. He was
charged with homicide punishable by reclusion temporal. Hence, the RTC had exclusive
jurisdiction over the crime charged conformably to Sections 20 and 32 of Batas Pambansa Blg.
129, as amended by Section 2 of R.A. No. 7691.

The petitioners contention that R.A. No. 7975 should not be applied retroactively has no
legal basis. It bears stressing that R.A. No. 7975 is a substantive procedural law which may be
applied retroactively.[23]

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DISMISSED. No pronouncement as


to costs.

SO ORDERED.
EN BANC Department of Public Works and Highways, respondents, JACINTO V. PARAS,
RAFAEL P. NANTES, EDUARDO C. ZIALCITA, WILLY BUYSON VILLARAMA,
PROSPERO C. NOGRALES, PROSPERO A. PICHAY, JR., HARLIN CAST
ABAYON, and BENASING O. MACARANBON, Respondents-Intervenors,

[G.R. No. 155001. January 21, 2004] FLORESTE ALCONIS, GINA ALNAS, REY AMPOLOQUIO, ROSEMARIE ANG, EUGENE
ARADA, NENETTE BARREIRO, NOEL BARTOLOME, ALDRIN BASTADOR,
ROLETTE DIVINE BERNARDO, MINETTE BRAVO, KAREN BRECILLA, NIDA
CAILAO, ERWIN CALAR, MARIFEL CONSTANTINO, JANETTE CORDERO,
ARNOLD FELICITAS, MARISSA GAYAGOY, ALEX GENERILLO, ELIZABETH
DEMOSTHENES P. AGAN, JR., JOSEPH B. CATAHAN, JOSE MARI B. REUNILLA, GRAY, ZOILO HERICO, JACQUELINE IGNACIO, THELMA INFANTE, JOEL
MANUEL ANTONIO B. BOE, MAMERTO S. CLARA, REUEL E. DIMALANTA, JUMAO-AS, MARIETTA LINCHOCO, ROLLY LORICO, FRANCIS AUGUSTO
MORY V. DOMALAON, CONRADO G. DIMAANO, LOLITA R. HIZON, REMEDIOS MACATOL, MICHAEL MALIGAT, DENNIS MANALO, RAUL MANGALIMAN, JOEL
P. ADOLFO, BIENVENIDO C. HILARIO, MIASCOR WORKERS UNION-NATIONAL MANLANGIT, CHARLIE MENDOZA, HAZNAH MENDOZA, NICHOLS MORALES,
LABOR UNION (MWU-NLU), and PHILIPPINE AIRLINES EMPLOYEES ALLEN OLAO, CESAR ORTAL, MICHAEL ORTEGA, WAYNE PLAZA, JOSELITO
ASSOCIATION (PALEA), petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL AIR REYES, ROLANDO REYES, AILEEN SAPINA, RAMIL TAMAYO, PHILLIPS TAN,
TERMINALS CO., INC., MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY, ANDREW UY, WILLIAM VELASCO, EMILIO VELEZ, NOEMI YUPANO, MARY
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS and JANE ONG, RICHARD RAMIREZ, CHERYLE MARIE ALFONSO, LYNDON
SECRETARY LEANDRO M. MENDOZA, in his capacity as Head of the BAUTISTA, MANUEL CABOCAN AND NEDY LAZO, Respondents-in-Intervention,
Department of Transportation and Communications, respondents,
NAGKAISANG MARALITA NG TAONG ASSOCIATION, INC., Respondents-in-Intervention,
MIASCOR GROUNDHANDLING CORPORATION, DNATA-WINGS AVIATION SYSTEMS
CORPORATION, MACROASIA-EUREST SERVICES, INC., MACROASIA-MENZIES
AIRPORT SERVICES CORPORATION, MIASCOR CATERING SERVICES
CORPORATION, MIASCOR AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE CORPORATION, and
MIASCOR LOGISTICS CORPORATION, Petitioners-in-Intervention, [G.R. No. 155661. January 21, 2003]

FLORESTE ALCONIS, GINA ALNAS, REY AMPOLOQUIO, ROSEMARIE ANG, EUGENE


ARADA, NENETTE BARREIRO, NOEL BARTOLOME, ALDRIN BASTADOR,
ROLETTE DIVINE BERNARDO, MINETTE BRAVO, KAREN BRECILLA, NIDA
CAILAO, ERWIN CALAR, MARIFEL CONSTANTINO, JANETTE CORDERO, CEFERINO C. LOPEZ, RAMON M. SALES, ALFREDO B. VALENCIA, MA. TERESA V.
ARNOLD FELICITAS, MARISSA GAYAGOY, ALEX GENERILLO, ELIZABETH GAERLAN, LEONARDO DE LA ROSA, DINA C. DE LEON, VIRGIE CATAMIN,
GRAY, ZOILO HERICO, JACQUELINE IGNACIO, THELMA INFANTE, JOEL RONALD SCHLOBOM, ANGELITO SANTOS, MA. LUISA M. PALCON and
JUMAO-AS, MARIETTA LINCHOCO, ROLLY LORICO, FRANCIS AUGUSTO SAMAHANG MANGGAGAWA SA PALIPARAN NG PILIPINAS
MACATOL, MICHAEL MALIGAT, DENNIS MANALO, RAUL MANGALIMAN, JOEL (SMPP), petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL AIR TERMINALS CO.,
MANLANGIT, CHARLIE MENDOZA, HAZNAH MENDOZA, NICHOLS MORALES, INC., MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY, DEPARTMENT
ALLEN OLAO, CESAR ORTAL, MICHAEL ORTEGA, WAYNE PLAZA, JOSELITO OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS, SECRETARY LEANDRO M.
REYES, ROLANDO REYES, AILEEN SAPINA, RAMIL TAMAYO, PHILLIPS TAN, MENDOZA, in his capacity as Head of the Department of Transportation and
ANDREW UY, WILLIAM VELASCO, EMILIO VELEZ, NOEMI YUPANO, MARY Communications, respondents,
JANE ONG, RICHARD RAMIREZ, CHERYLE MARIE ALFONSO, LYNDON
BAUTISTA, MANUEL CABOCAN AND NEDY LAZO, Respondents-in-Intervention, FLORESTE ALCONIS, GINA ALNAS, REY AMPOLOQUIO, ROSEMARIE ANG, EUGENE
ARADA, NENETTE BARREIRO, NOEL BARTOLOME, ALDRIN BASTADOR,
NAGKAISANG MARALITA NG TAONG ASSOCIATION, INC., Respondents-in-Intervention, ROLETTE DIVINE BERNARDO, MINETTE BRAVO, KAREN BRECILLA, NIDA
CAILAO, ERWIN CALAR, MARIFEL CONSTANTINO, JANETTE CORDERO,
ARNOLD FELICITAS, MARISSA GAYAGOY, ALEX GENERILLO, ELIZABETH
GRAY, ZOILO HERICO, JACQUELINE IGNACIO, THELMA INFANTE, JOEL
JUMAO-AS, MARIETTA LINCHOCO, ROLLY LORICO, FRANCIS AUGUSTO
[G.R. No. 155547. January 21, 2003] MACATOL, MICHAEL MALIGAT, DENNIS MANALO, RAUL MANGALIMAN, JOEL
MANLANGIT, CHARLIE MENDOZA, HAZNAH MENDOZA, NICHOLS MORALES,
ALLEN OLAO, CESAR ORTAL, MICHAEL ORTEGA, WAYNE PLAZA, JOSELITO
REYES, ROLANDO REYES, AILEEN SAPINA, RAMIL TAMAYO, PHILLIPS TAN,
ANDREW UY, WILLIAM VELASCO, EMILIO VELEZ, NOEMI YUPANO, MARY
SALACNIB F. BATERINA, CLAVEL A. MARTINEZ and CONSTANTINO G. JANE ONG, RICHARD RAMIREZ, CHERYLE MARIE ALFONSO, LYNDON
JARAULA, petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL AIR TERMINALS CO., BAUTISTA, MANUEL CABOCAN AND NEDY LAZO, Respondents-in-Intervention,
INC., MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY, DEPARTMENT OF
TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC NAGKAISANG MARALITA NG TAONG ASSOCIATION, INC., Respondents-in-Intervention.
WORKS AND HIGHWAYS, SECRETARY LEANDRO M. MENDOZA, in his capacity
as Head of the Department of Transportation and Communications, and
RESOLUTION
SECRETARY SIMEON A. DATUMANONG, in his capacity as Head of the
Puno, J.: Procedural Matters

Before this Court are the separate Motions for Reconsideration filed by respondent
Philippine International Air Terminals Co., Inc. (PIATCO), respondents-intervenors Jacinto V.
a. Lack of Jurisdiction
Paras, Rafael P. Nantes, Eduardo C. Zialcita, Willie Buyson Villarama, Prospero C. Nograles,
Prospero A. Pichay, Jr., Harlin Cast Abayon and Benasing O. Macaranbon, all members of the
House of Representatives (Respondent Congressmen), [1] respondents-intervenors who are
employees of PIATCO and other workers of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport International Private respondents and respondents-intervenors reiterate a number of procedural issues
Passenger Terminal III (NAIA IPT III) (PIATCO Employees)[2] and respondents-intervenors which they insist deprived this Court of jurisdiction to hear and decide the instant cases on its
Nagkaisang Maralita ng Taong Association, Inc., (NMTAI)[3] of the Decision of this Court dated merits. They continue to claim that the cases at bar raise factual questions which this Court is ill-
May 5, 2003 declaring the contracts for the NAIA IPT III project null and void. equipped to resolve, hence, they must be remanded to the trial court for reception of
evidence. Further, they allege that although designated as petitions for certiorari and prohibition,
Briefly, the proceedings. On October 5, 1994, Asias Emerging Dragon Corp. (AEDC) the cases at bar are actually actions for nullity of contracts over which the trial courts have
submitted an unsolicited proposal to the Philippine Government through the Department of exclusive jurisdiction. Even assuming that the cases at bar are special civil actions for certiorari
Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) for and prohibition, they contend that the principle of hierarchy of courts precludes this Court from
the construction and development of the NAIA IPT III under a build-operate-and-transfer taking primary jurisdiction over them.
arrangement pursuant to R.A. No. 6957, as amended by R.A. No. 7718 (BOT Law). [4] In
accordance with the BOT Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (Implementing We are not persuaded.
Rules), the DOTC/MIAA invited the public for submission of competitive and comparative
proposals to the unsolicited proposal of AEDC. On September 20, 1996 a consortium composed There is a question of fact when doubt or difference arises as to the truth or falsity of the
of the Peoples Air Cargo and Warehousing Co., Inc. (Paircargo), Phil. Air and Grounds Services, facts alleged.[5] Even a cursory reading of the cases at bar will show that the Court decided them
Inc. (PAGS) and Security Bank Corp. (Security Bank) (collectively, Paircargo Consortium), by interpreting and applying the Constitution, the BOT Law, its Implementing Rules and other
submitted their competitive proposal to the Prequalification Bids and Awards Committee (PBAC). relevant legal principles on the basis of clearly undisputed facts.All the operative facts were
settled, hence, there is no need for a trial type determination of their truth or falsity by a trial
After finding that the Paircargo Consortium submitted a bid superior to the unsolicited court.
proposal of AEDC and after failure by AEDC to match the said bid, the DOTC issued the notice
of award for the NAIA IPT III project to the Paircargo Consortium, which later organized into We reject the unyielding insistence of PIATCO Employees that the following factual issues
herein respondent PIATCO. Hence, on July 12, 1997, the Government, through then DOTC are critical and beyond the capability of this Court to resolve, viz: (a) whether the National
Secretary Arturo T. Enrile, and PIATCO, through its President, Henry T. Go, signed the Economic Development Authority- Investment Coordinating Committee (NEDA-ICC) approved
Concession Agreement for the Build-Operate-and-Transfer Arrangement of the Ninoy Aquino the Supplements; (b) whether the First Supplement created ten (10) new financial obligations on
International Airport Passenger Terminal III (1997 Concession Agreement). On November 26, the part of the government; and (c) whether the 1997 Concession Agreement departed from the
1998, the 1997 Concession Agreement was superseded by the Amended and Restated draft Concession Agreement contained in the Bid Documents.[6]
Concession Agreement (ARCA) containing certain revisions and modifications from the original
The factual issue of whether the NEDA-ICC approved the Supplements is hardly
contract. A series of supplemental agreements was also entered into by the Government and
relevant. It is clear in our Decision that the PIATCO contracts were invalidated on other and
PIATCO. The First Supplement was signed on August 27, 1999, the Second Supplement on
more substantial grounds. It did not rely on the presence or absence of NEDA-ICC approval of
September 4, 2000, and the Third Supplement on June 22, 2001 (collectively, Supplements) (the
the Supplements. On the other hand, the last two issues do not involve disputed facts. Rather,
1997 Concession Agreement, ARCA and the Supplements collectively referred to as the
they involve contractual provisions which are clear and categorical and need only to be
PIATCO Contracts).
interpreted. The interpretation of contracts and the determination of whether their provisions
On September 17, 2002, various petitions were filed before this Court to annul the 1997 violate our laws or contravene any public policy is a legal issue which this Court may
Concession Agreement, the ARCA and the Supplements and to prohibit the public properly pass upon.
respondents DOTC and MIAA from implementing them.
Respondents corollary contention that this Court violated the hierarchy of courts when it
In a decision dated May 5, 2003, this Court granted the said petitions and declared the entertained the cases at bar must also fail. The rule on hierarchy of courts in cases falling within
1997 Concession Agreement, the ARCA and the Supplements null and void. the concurrent jurisdiction of the trial courts and appellate courts generally applies to cases
involving warring factual allegations. For this reason, litigants are required to repair to the trial
Respondent PIATCO, respondent-Congressmen and respondents-intervenors now seek courts at the first instance to determine the truth or falsity of these contending allegations on the
the reversal of the May 5, 2003 decision and pray that the petitions be dismissed.In the basis of the evidence of the parties. Cases which depend on disputed facts for decision cannot
alternative, PIATCO prays that the Court should not strike down the entire 1997 Concession be brought immediately before appellate courts as they are not triers of facts.
Agreement, the ARCA and its supplements in light of their separability clause. Respondent-
Congressmen and NMTAI also pray that in the alternative, the cases at bar should be referred to It goes without saying that when cases brought before the appellate courts do not involve
arbitration pursuant to the provisions of the ARCA.PIATCO-Employees pray that the petitions be factual but legal questions, a strict application of the rule of hierarchy of courts is not
dismissed and remanded to the trial courts for trial on the merits or in the alternative that the necessary. As the cases at bar merely concern the construction of the Constitution, the
1997 Concession Agreement, the ARCA and the Supplements be declared valid and binding. interpretation of the BOT Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations on undisputed
contractual provisions and government actions, and as the cases concern public interest,
I this Court resolved to take primary jurisdiction over them. This choice of action follows the
consistent stance of this Court to settle any controversy with a high public interest component in
a single proceeding and to leave no root or branch that could bear the seeds of future litigation.
The suggested remand of the cases at bar to the trial court will stray away from this policy.[7]
b. Legal Standing implementing rules which have not been passed upon by this Court in previous cases. They can
chart the future inflow of investment under the BOT Law.

Before writing finis to the issue of legal standing, the Court notes the bid of new parties to
Respondent PIATCO stands pat with its argument that petitioners lack legal personality to participate in the cases at bar as respondents-intervenors, namely, (1) the PIATCO Employees
file the cases at bar as they are not real parties in interest who are bound principally or
and (2) NMTAI (collectively, the New Respondents-Intervenors). After the Courts Decision, the
subsidiarily to the PIATCO Contracts. Further, respondent PIATCO contends that petitioners New Respondents-Intervenors filed separate Motions for Reconsideration-In-Intervention
failed to show any legally demandable or enforceable right to justify their standing to file the alleging prejudice and direct injury. PIATCO employees claim that they have a direct and
cases at bar.
personal interest [in the controversy]... since they stand to lose their jobs should the
These arguments are not difficult to deflect. The determination of whether a person may governments contract with PIATCO be declared null and void.[16] NMTAI, on the other hand,
institute an action or become a party to a suit brings to fore the concepts of real party in interest, represents itself as a corporation composed of responsible tax-paying Filipino citizens with the
capacity to sue and standing to sue. To the legally discerning, these three concepts are different objective of protecting and sustaining the rights of its members to civil liberties, decent livelihood,
although commonly directed towards ensuring that only certain parties can maintain an opportunities for social advancement, and to a good, conscientious and honest government. [17]
action.[8] As defined in the Rules of Court, a real party in interest is the party who stands to be The Rules of Court govern the time of filing a Motion to Intervene. Section 2, Rule 19
benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the
provides that a Motion to Intervene should be filed before rendition of judgment.... The New
suit.[9] Capacity to sue deals with a situation where a person who may have a cause of action is
Respondents-Intervenors filed their separate motions after a decision has been promulgated in
disqualified from bringing a suit under applicable law or is incompetent to bring a suit or is under the present cases. They have not offered any worthy explanation to justify their late
some legal disability that would prevent him from maintaining an action unless represented by a
intervention. Consequently, their Motions for Reconsideration-In-Intervention are denied for the
guardian ad litem.Legal standing is relevant in the realm of public law. In certain instances, rules cannot be relaxed to await litigants who sleep on their rights. In any event, a sideglance at
courts have allowed private parties to institute actions challenging the validity of governmental these late motions will show that they hoist no novel arguments.
action for violation of private rights or constitutional principles.[10] In these cases, courts apply the
doctrine of legal standing by determining whether the party has a direct and personal interest
in the controversy and whether such party has sustained or is in imminent danger of
sustaining an injury as a result of the act complained of, a standard which is distinct from
the concept of real party in interest.[11] Measured by this yardstick, the application of the doctrine c. Failure to Implead an Indispensable Party
on legal standing necessarily involves a preliminary consideration of the merits of the case and
is not purely a procedural issue.[12]
PIATCO next contends that petitioners should have impleaded the Republic of the
Considering the nature of the controversy and the issues raised in the cases at bar, this Philippines as an indispensable party. It alleges that petitioners sued the DOTC, MIAA and the
Court affirms its ruling that the petitioners have the requisite legal standing. The petitioners in DPWH in their own capacities or as implementors of the PIATCO Contracts and not as a
G.R. Nos. 155001 and 155661 are employees of service providers operating at the existing contract party or as representatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. It then
international airports and employees of MIAA while petitioners-intervenors are service providers leapfrogs to the conclusion that the absence of an indispensable party renders ineffectual all the
with existing contracts with MIAA and they will all sustain direct injury upon the implementation proceedings subsequent to the filing of the complaint including the judgment. [18]
of the PIATCO Contracts. The 1997 Concession Agreement and the ARCA both provide that
upon the commencement of operations at the NAIA IPT III, NAIA Passenger Terminals I and II PIATCOs allegations are inaccurate. The petitions clearly bear out that public respondents
will cease to be used as international passenger terminals. [13] Further, the ARCA provides: DOTC and MIAA were impleaded as parties to the PIATCO Contracts and not merely as their
implementors. The separate petitions filed by the MIAA employees[19] and members of the
House of Representatives[20] alleged that public respondents are impleaded herein because they
(d) For the purpose of an orderly transition, MIAA shall not renew any expired concession either executed the PIATCO Contracts or are undertaking acts which are related to the
agreement relative to any service or operation currently being undertaken at the Ninoy Aquino PIATCO Contracts. They are interested and indispensable parties to this Petition. [21] Thus, public
International Airport Passenger Terminal I, or extend any concession agreement which may respondents DOTC and MIAA were impleaded as parties to the case for having executed the
expire subsequent hereto, except to the extent that the continuation of the existing services and contracts.
operations shall lapse on or before the In-Service Date.[14]
More importantly, it is also too late in the day for PIATCO to raise this issue. If PIATCO
Beyond iota of doubt, the implementation of the PIATCO Contracts, which the petitioners seriously views the non-inclusion of the Republic of the Philippines as an indispensable party as
and petitioners-intervenors denounce as unconstitutional and illegal, would deprive them of their fatal to the petitions at bar, it should have raised the issue at the onset of the proceedings as a
sources of livelihood. Under settled jurisprudence, one's employment, profession, trade, or ground to dismiss. PIATCO cannot litigate issues on a piecemeal basis, otherwise, litigations
calling is a property right and is protected from wrongful interference. [15]It is also self evident that shall be like a shore that knows no end. In any event, the Solicitor General, the legal counsel of
the petitioning service providers stand in imminent danger of losing legitimate business the Republic, appeared in the cases at bar in representation of the interest of the government.
investments in the event the PIATCO Contracts are upheld. II
Over and above all these, constitutional and other legal issues with far-reaching economic
and social implications are embedded in the cases at bar, hence, this Court liberally granted
legal standing to the petitioning members of the House of Representatives. First, at stake is the
build-operate-andtransfer contract of the countrys premier international airport with a projected Pre-qualification of PIATCO
capacity of 10 million passengers a year. Second, the huge amount of investment to complete
the project is estimated to be P13,000,000,000.00. Third, the primary issues posed in the cases
at bar demand a discussion and interpretation of the Constitution, the BOT Law and its
The Implementing Rules provide for the unyielding standards the PBAC should apply to financial standing of the Paircargo Consortium. It contends that in adjudging whether the
determine the financial capability of a bidder for pre-qualification purposes: (i) proof of the ability Paircargo Consortium is a pre-qualified bidder, the PBAC should have considered not only its
of the project proponent and/or the consortium to provide a minimum amount of equity to the financial statements but other factors showing its financial capability.
project and (ii) a letter testimonial from reputable banks attesting that the project proponent
and/or members of the consortium are banking with them, that they are in good financial Anent this argument, the guidelines provided in the Bid Documents are instructive:
standing, and that they have adequate resources.[22] The evident intent of these standards
is to protect the integrity and insure the viability of the project by seeing to it that the proponent 3.3.4 FINANCING AND FINANCIAL PREQUALIFICATIONS REQUIREMENTS
has the financial capability to carry it out. As a further measure to achieve this intent,
it maintains a certain debt-to-equity ratio for the project.
Minimum Amount of Equity
At the pre-qualification stage, it is most important for a bidder to show that it has the
financial capacity to undertake the project by proving that it can fulfill the requirement on
Each member of the proponent entity is to provide evidence of networth in cash and assets
minimum amount of equity. For this purpose, the Bid Documents require in no uncertain terms:
representing the proportionate share in the proponent entity. Audited financial statements for
the past five (5) years as a company for each member are to be provided.
The minimum amount of equity to which the proponents financial capability will be based shall
be thirty percent (30%) of the project cost instead of the twenty percent (20%) specified in
Section 3.6.4 of the Bid Documents. This is to correlate with the required debt-to-equity ratio Project Loan Financing
of 70:30 in Section 2.01a of the draft concession agreement. The debt portion of the project
financing should not exceed 70% of the actual project cost.[23] Testimonial letters from reputable banks attesting that each of the members of the ownership
entity are banking with them, in good financial standing and having adequate resources are to
be provided.[26]
In relation thereto, section 2.01 (a) of the ARCA provides:

Section 2.01 Project Scope. It is beyond refutation that Paircargo Consortium failed to prove its ability to provide the
amount of at least P2,755,095,000.00, or 30% of the estimated project cost.Its submission of
The scope of the project shall include:
testimonial letters attesting to its good financial standing will not cure this failure. At best, the
said letters merely establish its credit worthiness or its ability to obtain loans to finance the
(a) Financing the project at an actual Project cost of not less than Three Hundred Fifty project. They do not, however, prove compliance with the aforesaid requirement of minimum
Million United States Dollars (US$350,000,000.00) while maintaining a debt-to- amount of equity in relation to the prescribed debt-to-equity ratio. This equity cannot be satisfied
equity ratio of 70:30, provided that if the actual Project costs should exceed the through possible loans.
aforesaid amount, Concessionaire shall ensure that the debt-to-equity ratio is
maintained;[24] In sum, we again hold that given the glaring gap between the net worth of Paircargo and
PAGS combined with the amount of maximum funds that Security Bank may invest by equity in
a non-allied undertaking, Paircargo Consortium, at the time of pre-qualification, failed to show
Under the debt-to-equity restriction, a bidder may only seek financing of the NAIA IPT III that it had the ability to provide 30% of the project cost and necessarily, its financial capability for
Project up to 70% of the project cost. Thirty percent (30%) of the cost must come in the form of the project cannot pass muster.
equity or investment by the bidder itself. It cannot be overly emphasized that the rules require a
minimum amount of equity to ensure that a bidder is not merely an operator or implementor of III
the project but an investor with a substantial interest in its success. The minimum equity
requirement also guarantees the Philippine government and the general public, who are the
ultimate beneficiaries of the project, that a bidder will not be indifferent to the completion of the
project. The discontinuance of the project will irreparably damage public interest more than 1997 Concession Agreement
private interest.

In the cases at bar, after applying the investment ceilings provided under the General
Banking Act and considering the maximum amounts that each member of the consortium may Again, we brightline the principle that in public bidding, bids are submitted in accord with
validly invest in the project, it is daylight clear that the Paircargo Consortium, at the time of pre- the prescribed terms, conditions and parameters laid down by government and pursuant to the
qualification, had a net worth equivalent to only 6.08% of the total estimated project requirements of the project bidded upon. In light of these parameters, bidders formulate
cost.[25] By any reckoning, a showing by a bidder that at the time of pre-qualification its competing proposals which are evaluated to determine the bid most favorable to the
maximum funds available for investment amount to only 6.08% of the project cost is insufficient government. Once the contract based on the bid most favorable to the government is awarded,
to satisfy the requirement prescribed by the Implementing Rules that the project proponent must all that is left to be done by the parties is to execute the necessary agreements and implement
have the ability to provide at least 30% of the total estimated project cost. In peso and centavo them. There can be no substantial or material change to the parameters of the project, including
terms, at the time of pre-qualification, the Paircargo Consortium had maximum funds available the essential terms and conditions of the contract bidded upon, after the contract award. If there
for investment to the NAIA IPT III Project only in the amount of P558,384,871.55, when it had to were changes and the contracts end up unfavorable to government, the public bidding becomes
show that it had the ability to provide at least P2,755,095,000.00. The huge disparity cannot be a mockery and the modified contracts must be struck down.
dismissed as ofde minimis importance considering the high public interest at stake in the project.
Respondents insist that there were no substantial or material amendments in the 1997
PIATCO nimbly tries to sidestep its failure by alleging that it submitted not only audited Concession Agreement as to the technical aspects of the project, i.e., engineering design,
financial statements but also testimonial letters from reputable banks attesting to the good technical soundness, operational and maintenance methods and procedures of the project or
the technical proposal of PIATCO. Further, they maintain that there was no modification of the (f) porterage fees;
financial features of the project, i.e., minimum project cost, debt-to-equity ratio, the operations
and maintenance budget, the schedule and amount of annual guaranteed payments, or
. . . .[30]
the financial proposal of PIATCO. A discussion of some of these changes to determine
whether they altered the terms and conditions upon which the bids were made is again in order.
The plain purpose in re-classifying groundhandling fees, airline office rentals and
porterage fees as non-public utility fees is to remove them from regulation by the MIAA.In
excluding these fees from government regulation, the danger to public interest cannot be
a. Modification on Fees and downplayed.
Charges to be collected by PIATCO
We are not impressed by the effort of PIATCO to depress this prejudice to public interest
by its contention that in the 1997 Concession Agreement governing Non-Public Utility Revenues,
it is provided that [PIATCO] shall at all times be judicious in fixing fees and charges constituting
PIATCO clings to the contention that the removal of the groundhandling fees, airline office Non-Public Utility Revenues in order to ensure that End Users are not unreasonably deprived of
rentals and porterage fees from the category of fees subject to MIAA regulation in the 1997 services.[31] PIATCO then peddles the proposition that the said provision confers upon MIAA full
Concession Agreement does not constitute a substantial amendment as these fees are not regulatory powers to ensure that PIATCO is charging non-public utility revenues
really public utility fees. In other words, PIATCO justifies the re-classification under the 1997 at judicious rates.[32] To the trained eye, the argument will not fly for it is obviously non
Concession Agreement on the ground that these fees are non-public utility revenues. sequitur. Fairly read, it is PIATCO that wields the power to determine the judiciousness of the
We disagree. The removal of groundhandling fees, airline office rentals and porterage fees said fees and charges. In the draft Concession Agreement the power was expressly lodged with
the MIAA and any adjustment can only be done once every two years. The changes are not
from the category of Public Utility Revenues under the draft Concession Agreement and its re-
classification to Non-Public Utility Revenues under the 1997 Concession Agreement is insignificant specks as interpreted by PIATCO.
significant and has far reaching consequence. The 1997 Concession Agreement provides that PIATCO further argues that there is no substantial change in the 1997 Concession
with respect to Non-Public Utility Revenues, which include groundhandling fees, airline office Agreement with respect to fees and charges PIATCO is allowed to impose which are not
rentals and porterage fees,[27] [PIATCO] may make any adjustments it deems covered by Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 1993[33] as the relevant provision of the 1997
appropriate without need for the consent of GRP or any government agency.[28] In contrast, Concession Agreement is practically identical with the draft Concession Agreement. [34]
the draft Concession Agreement specifies these fees as part of Public Utility Revenues and can
be adjusted only once every two years and in accordance with the Parametric Formula and the We are not persuaded. Under the draft Concession Agreement, PIATCO
adjustments shall be made effective only after the written express approval of the may impose fees and charges other than those fees and charges previously imposed or
MIAA.[29] The Bid Documents themselves clearly provide: collected at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Passenger Terminal I, subject to the written
approval of MIAA.[35] Further, the draft Concession Agreement provides that MIAA reserves the
4.2.3 Mechanism for Adjustment of Fees and Charges right to regulate these new fees and charges if in its judgment the users of the airport shall be
deprived of a free option for the services they cover. [36] In contrast, under the 1997 Concession
Agreement, the MIAA merely retained the right to approve any imposition of new fees and
4.2.3.1 Periodic Adjustment in Fees and Charges charges which were not previously collected at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Passenger
Terminal I. The agreement did not contain an equivalent provision allowing MIAA to
reserve the right to regulate the adjustments of these new fees and charges.[37] PIATCO
Adjustments in the fees and charges enumerated hereunder, whether or not
falling within the purview of public utility revenues, shall be allowed only justifies the amendment by arguing that MIAA can establish terms before approval of new fees
and charges, inclusive of the mode for their adjustment.
once every two years in accordance with the parametric formula attached
hereto as Annex 4.2f. Provided that the adjustments shall be made effective PIATCOs stance is again a strained one. There would have been no need for an
only after the written express approval of MIAA. Provided, further, that MIAAs amendment if there were no change in the power to regulate on the part of MIAA. The deletion
approval, shall be contingent only on conformity of the adjustments to the said of MIAAs reservation of its right to regulate the price adjustments of new fees and charges can
parametric formula. have no other purpose but to dilute the extent of MIAAs regulation in the collection of these
fees. Again, the amendment diminished the authority of MIAA to protect the public interest in
The fees and charges to be regulated in the above manner shall consist of case of abuse by PIATCO.
the following:

.... b. Assumption by the


Government of the liabilities
c) groundhandling fees; of PIATCO in the event of the latters
default
d) rentals on airline offices;

PIATCO posits the thesis that the new provisions in the 1997 Concession Agreement in
.... case of default by PIATCO on its loans were merely meant to prescribe and limit the rights of
PIATCOs creditors with regard to the NAIA Terminal III. PIATCO alleges that Section 4.04 of the
1997 Concession Agreement simply provides that PIATCOs creditors have no right to foreclose Direct Government Guarantee
the NAIA Terminal III.

We cannot concur. The pertinent provisions of the 1997 Concession Agreement state:
The respondents further contend that the PIATCO Contracts do not contain direct
government guarantee provisions. They assert that section 4.04 of the ARCA, which superseded
Section 4.04 Assignment. sections 4.04(b) and (c), Article IV of the 1997 Concession Agreement, is but a clarification and
explanation[39] of the securities allowed in the bid documents. They allege that these provisions
merely provide for compensation to PIATCO[40] in case of a government buy-out or takeover of
....
NAIA IPT III. The respondents, particularly respondent PIATCO, also maintain that the
guarantee contained in the contracts, if any, is an indirect guarantee allowed under the BOT
(b) In the event Concessionaire should default in the payment of an Attendant Liability, and the Law, as amended.[41]
default has resulted in the acceleration of the payment due date of the Attendant Liability prior to
its stated date of maturity, the Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire shall immediately inform We do not agree. Section 4.04(c), Article IV[42] of the ARCA should be read in conjunction
GRP in writing of such default. GRP shall, within one hundred eighty (180) Days from receipt of with section 1.06, Article I,[43] in the same manner that sections 4.04(b) and (c), Article IV of the
the joint written notice of the Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire, either (i) take over the 1997 Concession Agreement should be related to Article 1.06 of the same contract. Section
Development Facility and assume the Attendant Liabilities, or (ii) allow the Unpaid Creditors, 1.06, Article I of the ARCA and its counterpart provision in the 1997 Concession Agreement
if qualified, to be substituted as concessionaire and operator of the Development Facility in define in no uncertain terms the meaning of attendant liabilities. They tell us of the amounts that
accordance with the terms and conditions hereof, or designate a qualified operator acceptable to the Government has to pay in the event respondent PIATCO defaults in its loan payments to its
GRP to operate the Development Facility, likewise under the terms and conditions of this Senior Lenders and no qualified transferee or nominee is chosen by the Senior Lenders or is
Agreement; Provided that if at the end of the 180-day period GRP shall not have served the willing to take over from respondent PIATCO.
Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire written notice of its choice, GRP shall be deemed to have
elected to take over the Development Facility with the concomitant assumption of Attendant A reasonable reading of all these relevant provisions would reveal that the ARCA made
Liabilities. the Government liable to pay all amounts ... from time to time owed or which may become
owing by Concessionaire [PIATCO] to Senior Lenders or any other persons or entities
who have provided, loaned, or advanced funds or provided financial facilities to
(c) If GRP should, by written notice, allow the Unpaid Creditors to be substituted as Concessionaire [PIATCO] for the Project [NAIA Terminal 3].[44] These amounts include without
concessionaire, the latter shall form and organize a concession company qualified to take over limitation, all principal, interest, associated fees, charges, reimbursements, and other
the operation of the Development Facility. If the concession company should elect to designate related expenses... whether payable at maturity, by acceleration or otherwise. [45] They further
an operator for the Development Facility, the concession company shall in good faith identify include amounts owed by respondent PIATCO to its professional consultants and advisers,
and designate a qualified operator acceptable to GRP within one hundred eighty (180) days from suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors as well as fees, charges and expenses of any agents
receipt of GRPs written notice. If the concession company, acting in good faith and with due or trustees of the Senior Lenders or any other persons or entities who have provided loans or
diligence, is unable to designate a qualified operator within the aforesaid period, then GRP shall financial facilities to respondent PIATCO in relation to NAIA IPT III.[46] The counterpart provision
at the end of the 180-day period take over the Development Facility and assume Attendant in the 1997 Concession Agreement specifying the attendant liabilities that the Government
Liabilities. would be obligated to pay should PIATCO default in its loan obligations is equally onerous to the
Government as those contained in the ARCA. According to the 1997 Concession Agreement, in
the event the Government is forced to prematurely take over NAIA IPT III as a result of
A plain reading of the above provision shows that it spells out in limpid language the
respondent PIATCOs default in the payment of its loan obligations to its Senior Lenders, it would
obligation of government in case of default by PIATCO on its loans. There can be no blinking
be liable to pay the following amounts as attendant liabilities:
from the fact that in case of PIATCOs default, the government will assume PIATCOs Attendant
Liabilities as defined in the 1997 Concession Agreement.[38] This obligation is not found in the
draft Concession Agreement and the change runs roughshod to the spirit and policy of the BOT Section 1.06. Attendant Liabilities
Law which was crafted precisely to prevent government from incurring financial risk.

In any event, PIATCO pleads that the entire agreement should not be struck down as the Attendant Liabilities refer to all amounts recorded and from time to time outstanding in the
1997 Concession Agreement contains a separability clause. books of the Concessionaire as owing to Unpaid Creditors who have provided, loaned or
advanced funds actually used for the Project, including all interests, penalties, associated
The plea is bereft of merit. The contracts at bar which made a mockery of the bidding fees, charges, surcharges, indemnities, reimbursements and other related expenses, and
process cannot be upheld and must be annulled in their entirety for violating law and public further including amounts owed by Concessionaire to its suppliers, contractors and sub-
policy. As demonstrated, the contracts were substantially amended after their award to the contractors.[47]
successful bidder on terms more beneficial to PIATCO and prejudicial to public interest. If this
flawed process would be allowed, public bidding will cease to be competitive and worse,
These provisions reject respondents contention that what the Government is obligated to
government would not be favored with the best bid. Bidders will no longer bid on the basis of the
pay, in the event that respondent PIATCO defaults in the payment of its loans, is merely
prescribed terms and conditions in the bid documents but will formulate their bid in anticipation
termination payment or just compensation for its takeover of NAIA IPT III. It is clear from said
of the execution of a future contract containing new and better terms and conditions that were
section 1.06 that what the Government would pay is the sum total of all the debts,
not previously available at the time of the bidding. Such a public bidding will not inure to the
including all interest, fees and charges, that respondent PIATCO incurred in pursuance of the
public good. The resulting contracts cannot be given half a life but must be struck down as totally
NAIA IPT III Project. This reading is consistent with section 4.04 of the ARCA itself which states
lawless.
that the Government shall make a termination payment to Concessionaire [PIATCO] equal to the
IV. Appraised Value (as hereinafter defined) of the Development Facility [NAIA Terminal III] or the
sum of the Attendant Liabilities, if greater. For sure, respondent PIATCO will not receive
any amount less than sufficient to cover its debts, regardless of whether or not the value key reason for invalidating the PIATCO Contracts. It is a basic principle in law that cases with
of NAIA IPT III, at the time of its turn over to the Government, may actually be less than dissimilar facts cannot have similar disposition.
the amount of PIATCOs debts. The scheme is a form of direct government guarantee for it is
undeniable that it leaves the government no option but to pay the attendant liabilities in the event This Court, however, is not unmindful of the reality that the structures comprising the NAIA
that the Senior Lenders are unable or unwilling to appoint a qualified nominee or transferee as a IPT III facility are almost complete and that funds have been spent by PIATCO in their
result of PIATCOs default in the payment of its Senior Loans. As we stressed in our Decision, construction. For the government to take over the said facility, it has to compensate respondent
this Court cannot depart from the legal maxim that those that cannot be done directly cannot be PIATCO as builder of the said structures. The compensation must be just and in accordance
done indirectly. with law and equity for the government can not unjustly enrich itself at the expense of PIATCO
and its investors.
This is not to hold, however, that indirect government guarantee is not allowed under the
BOT Law, as amended. The intention to permit indirect government guarantee is evident from II.
the Senate deliberations on the amendments to the BOT Law. The idea is to allow for
reasonable government undertakings, such as to authorize the project proponent to undertake
related ventures within the project area, in order to encourage private sector participation in
development projects.[48] An example cited by then Senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, one of the Temporary takeover of business affected with
sponsors of R.A. No. 7718, is the Mandaluyong public market which was built under the Build- public interest in times of national emergency
and-Transfer (BT) scheme wherein instead of the government paying for the transfer, the project
proponent was allowed to operate the upper floors of the structure as a commercial mall in order
to recoup their investments.[49] It was repeatedly stressed in the deliberations that in allowing Section 17, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution grants the State in times of national
indirect government guarantee, the law seeks to encourage both the government and the private emergency the right to temporarily take over the operation of any business affected with public
sector to formulate reasonable and innovative government undertakings in pursuance of BOT interest. This right is an exercise of police power which is one of the inherent powers of the
projects. In no way, however, can the government be made liable for the debts of the project State.
proponent as this would be tantamount to a direct government guarantee which is prohibited by
the law. Such liability would defeat the very purpose of the BOT Law which is to encourage the Police power has been defined as the "state authority to enact legislation that may
use of private sector resources in the construction, maintenance and/or operation of interfere with personal liberty or property in order to promote the general welfare."[54] It consists
development projects with no, or at least minimal, capital outlay on the part of the government. of two essential elements. First, it is an imposition of restraint upon liberty or property. Second,
the power is exercised for the benefit of the common good. Its definition in elastic terms
The respondents again urge that should this Court affirm its ruling that the PIATCO underscores its all-encompassing and comprehensive embrace.[55] It is and still is the most
Contracts contain direct government guarantee provisions, the whole contract should not be essential, insistent, and illimitable[56] of the States powers. It is familiar knowledge that unlike
nullified. They rely on the separability clause in the PIATCO Contracts. the power of eminent domain, police power is exercised without provision for just
compensation for its paramount consideration is public welfare.[57]
We are not persuaded.
It is also settled that public interest on the occasion of a national emergency is the primary
The BOT Law and its implementing rules provide that there are three (3) essential
consideration when the government decides to temporarily take over or direct the operation of a
requisites for an unsolicited proposal to be accepted: (1) the project involves a new concept in
public utility or a business affected with public interest. The nature and extent of the emergency
technology and/or is not part of the list of priority projects, (2) no direct government guarantee,
is the measure of the duration of the takeover as well as the terms thereof. It is the State that
subsidy or equity is required, and (3) the government agency or local government unit has
prescribes such reasonable terms which will guide the implementation of the temporary takeover
invited by publication other interested parties to a public bidding and conducted the same.[50] The
as dictated by the exigencies of the time. As we ruled in our Decision, this power of the State
failure to fulfill any of the requisites will result in the denial of the proposal. Indeed, it is further
can not be negated by any party nor should its exercise be a source of obligation for the State.
provided that a direct government guarantee, subsidy or equity provision will necessarily
disqualify a proposal from being treated and accepted as an unsolicited proposal.[51] In fine, the Section 5.10(c), Article V of the ARCA provides that respondent PIATCO shall be entitled
mere inclusion of a direct government guarantee in an unsolicited proposal is fatal to the to reasonable compensation for the duration of the temporary takeover by GRP, which
proposal. There is more reason to invalidate a contract if a direct government guarantee compensation shall take into account the reasonable cost for the use of the Terminal and/or
provision is inserted later in the contract via a backdoor amendment. Such an amendment Terminal Complex.[58] It clearly obligates the government in the exercise of its police power to
constitutes a crass circumvention of the BOT Law and renders the entire contract void. compensate respondent PIATCO and this obligation is offensive to the Constitution. Police
power can not be diminished, let alone defeated by any contract for its paramount consideration
Respondent PIATCO likewise claims that in view of the fact that other BOT contracts such
is public welfare and interest.[59]
as the JANCOM contract, the Manila Water contract and the MRT contract had been considered
valid, the PIATCO contracts should be held valid as well.[52] There is no parity in the cited cases. Again, respondent PIATCOs reliance on the case of Heirs of Suguitan v. City of
For instance, a reading of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v. JANCOM Mandaluyong[60] to justify its claim for reasonable compensation for the Governments temporary
Environmental Corporation[53] will show that its issue is different from the issues in the cases takeover of NAIA IPT III in times of national emergency is erroneous. What was involved
at bar. In the JANCOM case, the main issue is whether there is a perfected contract between in Heirs of Suguitan is the exercise of the states power of eminent domain and not of police
JANCOM and the Government. The resolution of the issue hinged on the following: (1) whether power, hence, just compensation was awarded. The cases at bar will not involve the exercise of
the conditions precedent to the perfection of the contract were complied with; (2) whether there the power of eminent domain.
is a valid notice of award; and (3) whether the signature of the Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources is sufficient to bind the Government. These issue and sub- III.
issues are clearly distinguishable and different. For one, the issue of direct government
guarantee was not considered by this Court when it held the JANCOM contract valid, yet, it is a
Monopoly

Section 19, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution mandates that the State prohibit or regulate
monopolies when public interest so requires. Monopolies are not per seprohibited. Given its
susceptibility to abuse, however, the State has the bounden duty to regulate monopolies to
protect public interest. Such regulation may be called for, especially in sensitive areas such as
the operation of the countrys premier international airport, considering the public interest at
stake.

By virtue of the PIATCO contracts, NAIA IPT III would be the only international passenger
airport operating in the Island of Luzon, with the exception of those already operating in Subic
Bay Freeport Special Economic Zone (SBFSEZ), Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) and in
Laoag City. Undeniably, the contracts would create a monopoly in the operation of an
international commercial passenger airport at the NAIA in favor of PIATCO.

The grant to respondent PIATCO of the exclusive right to operate NAIA IPT III should not
exempt it from regulation by the government. The government has the right, indeed the duty, to
protect the interest of the public. Part of this duty is to assure that respondent PIATCOs exercise
of its right does not violate the legal rights of third parties.We reiterate our ruling that while the
service providers presently operating at NAIA Terminals I and II do not have the right to demand
for the renewal or extension of their contracts to continue their services in NAIA IPT III, those
who have subsisting contracts beyond the In-Service Date of NAIA IPT III can not be arbitrarily
or unreasonably treated.

Finally, the Respondent Congressmen assert that at least two (2) committee reports by
the House of Representatives found the PIATCO contracts valid and contend that this Court, by
taking cognizance of the cases at bar, reviewed an action of a co-equal body.[61] They insist that
the Court must respect the findings of the said committees of the House of
Representatives.[62] With due respect, we cannot subscribe to their submission. There is a
fundamental difference between a case in court and an investigation of a congressional
committee. The purpose of a judicial proceeding is to settle the dispute in controversy by
adjudicating the legal rights and obligations of the parties to the case.On the other hand, a
congressional investigation is conducted in aid of legislation. [63] Its aim is to assist and
recommend to the legislature a possible action that the body may take with regard to a particular
issue, specifically as to whether or not to enact a new law or amend an existing
one. Consequently, this Court cannot treat the findings in a congressional committee report as
binding because the facts elicited in congressional hearings are not subject to the rigors of the
Rules of Court on admissibility of evidence.The Court in assuming jurisdiction over the petitions
at bar simply performed its constitutional duty as the arbiter of legal disputes properly brought
before it, especially in this instance when public interest requires nothing less.

WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration filed by the respondent PIATCO,


respondent Congressmen and the respondents-in-intervention are DENIED with finality.

SO ORDERED.
EN BANC notify, in writing, all the above concerned at least fifteen (15) days before the scheduled election
meeting on the exact date, time, place and requirements of the said meeting.

The Liga thereafter came out with its Calendar of Activities and Guidelines in the
[G.R. No. 154599. January 21, 2004] Implementation of the Liga Election Code of 2002,[6] setting on 21 October 2002 the
synchronized elections for highly urbanized city chapters, such as the Liga Chapter of Manila,
together with independent component city, provincial, and metropolitan chapters.

On 28 June 2002, respondent City Council of Manila enacted Ordinance No. 8039, Series
of 2002, providing, among other things, for the election of representatives of the District
THE LIGA NG MGA BARANGAY NATIONAL, petitioner, vs. THE CITY MAYOR OF MANILA,
Chapters in the City Chapter of Manila and setting the elections for both chapters thirty days
HON. JOSE ATIENZA, JR., and THE CITY COUNCIL OF MANILA, respondents.
after the barangay elections. Section 3 (A) and (B) of the assailed ordinance read:

DECISION
SEC. 3. Representation Chapters. Every Barangay shall be represented in the said Liga
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: Chapters by the Punong Barangayor, in his absence or incapacity, by the kagawad duly elected
for the purpose among its members.

This petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeks the nullification of
Manila City Ordinance No. 8039, Series of 2002,[1] and respondent City Mayors Executive Order A. District Chapter
No. 011, Series of 2002,[2] dated 15 August 2002 , for being patently contrary to law.
All elected Barangay Chairman in each District shall elect from among themselves the President,
The antecedents are as follows: Vice-President and five (5) members of the Board.
Petitioner Liga ng mga Barangay National (Liga for brevity) is the national organization of
all the barangays in the Philippines, which pursuant to Section 492 of Republic Act No. 7160, B. City Chapter
otherwise known as The Local Government Code of 1991, constitutes the duly elected
presidents of highly-urbanized cities, provincial chapters, the metropolitan Manila Chapter, and
metropolitan political subdivision chapters. The District Chapter representatives shall automatically become members of the Board and they
shall elect from among themselves a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Auditor
Section 493 of that law provides that [t]he liga at the municipal, city, provincial, and create other positions as it may deem necessary for the management of the chapter.
metropolitan political subdivision, and national levels directly elect a president, a vice-president,
and five (5) members of the board of directors. All other matters not provided for in the law The assailed ordinance was later transmitted to respondent City Mayor Jose L. Atienza,
affecting the internal organization of the leagues of local government units shall be governed by Jr., for his signature and approval.
their respective constitution and by-laws, which must always conform to the provisions of the
Constitution and existing laws.[3] On 16 July 2002, upon being informed that the ordinance had been forwarded to the
Office of the City Mayor, still unnumbered and yet to be officially released, the Liga sent
On 16 March 2000, the Liga adopted and ratified its own Constitution and By-laws to respondent Mayor of Manila a letter requesting him that said ordinance be vetoed considering
govern its internal organization.[4] Section 1, third paragraph, Article XI of said Constitution and that it encroached upon, or even assumed, the functions of the Liga through legislation, a
By-Laws states: function which was clearly beyond the ambit of the powers of the City Council.[7]

All other election matters not covered in this Article shall be governed by the Liga Election Code Respondent Mayor, however, signed and approved the assailed city ordinance and issued
or such other rules as may be promulgated by the National Liga Executive Board in conformity on 15 August 2002 Executive Order No. 011, Series of 2002, to implement the ordinance.
with the provisions of existing laws. Hence, on 27 August 2002, the Liga filed the instant petition raising the following issues:

By virtue of the above-cited provision, the Liga adopted and ratified its own Election I
Code.[5] Section 1.2, Article I of the Liga Election Code states:
WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT CITY COUNCIL OF MANILA COMMITTED GRAVE
1.2 Liga ng mga Barangay Provincial, Metropolitan, HUC/ICC Chapters. There shall be ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION,
nationwide synchronized elections for the provincial, metropolitan, and HUC/ICC chapters to be WHEN IT ENACTED CITY ORDINANCE NO. 8039 S. 2002 PURPOSELY TO GOVERN THE
held on the third Monday of the month immediately after the month when the synchronized ELECTIONS OF THE MANILA CHAPTER OF THE LIGA NG MGA BARANGAYS AND WHICH
elections in paragraph 1.1 above was held. The incumbent Liga chapter president concerned PROVIDES A DIFFERENT MANNER OF ELECTING ITS OFFICERS, DESPITE THE FACT
duly assisted by the proper government agency, office or department, e.g. THAT SAID CHAPTERS ELECTIONS, AND THE ELECTIONS OF ALL OTHER CHAPTERS OF
Provincial/City/NCR/Regional Director, shall convene all the duly elected Component THE LIGA NG MGA BARANGAYS FOR THAT MATTER, ARE BY LAW MANDATED TO BE
City/Municipal Chapter Presidents and all the current elected Punong Barangays (for HUC/ICC) GOVERNED BY THE LIGA CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS AND THE LIGA ELECTION
of the respective chapters in any public place within its area of jurisdiction for the purpose of CODE.
reorganizing and electing the officers and directors of the provincial, metropolitan or HUC/ICC
Liga chapters. Said president duly assisted by the government officer aforementioned, shall II
WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT CITY MAYOR OF MANILA COMMITTED GRAVE of the subject ordinance and issuance of the questioned executive order are legislative and
ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION executive functions, respectively, and thus, do not fall within the ambit of judicial functions. They
WHEN HE ISSUED EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 011 TO IMPLEMENT THE QUESTIONED CITY are both within the prerogatives, powers, and authority of the City Council and City Mayor of
ORDINANCE NO. 8039 S. 2002. Manila, respectively. Furthermore, the petition failed to show with certainty that the respondents
acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.
In support of its petition, the Liga argues that City Ordinance No. 8039, Series of 2002, The respondents also asseverate that the petitioner cannot claim that it has no other
and Executive Order No. 011, Series of 2002, contradict the Liga Election Code and are recourse in addressing its grievance other than this petition for certiorari. As a matter of fact,
therefore invalid. There exists neither rhyme nor reason, not to mention the absence of legal there are two cases pending before Branches 33 and 51 of the RTC of Manila (one is
basis, for the Manila City Council to encroach upon, or even assume, the functions of the Liga by for mandamus; the other, for declaratory relief) and three in the Court of Appeals (one is for
prescribing, through legislation, the manner of conducting the Liga elections other than what has prohibition; the two other cases, for quo warranto), which are all akin to the present petition in
been provided for by the Liga Constitution and By-laws and the Liga Election Code. Accordingly, the sense that the relief being sought therein is the declaration of the invalidity of the subject
the subject ordinance is an ultra vires act of the respondents and, as such, should be declared ordinance. Clearly, the petitioner may ask the RTC or the Court of Appeals the relief being
null and void. prayed for before this Court. Moreover, the petitioner failed to prove discernible compelling
reasons attending the present petition that would warrant cognizance of the present petition by
As for its prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, the petitioner cites as
this Court.
reason therefor the fact that under Section 5 of the assailed city ordinance, the Manila District
Chapter elections would be held thirty days after the regular barangay elections. Hence, it Besides, according to the respondents, the petitioner has transgressed the proscription
argued that the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction would be against forum-shopping in filing the instant suit. Although the parties in the other pending cases
imperative to prevent the implementation of the ordinance and executive order. and in this petition are different individuals or entities, they represent the same interest.
On 12 September 2002, Barangay Chairman Arnel Pea, in his capacity as a member of With regard to petitioner's prayer for temporary restraining order and/ or preliminary
the Liga ng mga Barangay in the City Chapter of Manila, filed a Complaint in Intervention with injunction in its petition, the respondents maintain that the same had become moot and
Urgent Motion for the Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary academic in view of the elections of officers of the City Liga ng mga Barangay on 15 September
Injunction.[8] He supports the position of the Liga and prays for the declaration of the questioned 2002 and their subsequent assumption to their respective offices. [10] Since the acts to be
ordinance and executive order, as well as the elections of the Liga ng mga Barangay pursuant enjoined are now fait accompli, this petition for certiorari with an application for provisional
thereto, to be null and void. The assailed ordinance prescribing for an indirect manner of election remedies must necessarily fail. Thus, where the records show that during the pendency of the
amended, in effect, the provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991, which provides for the case certain events or circumstances had taken place that render the case moot and academic,
election of the Liga officers at large. It also violated and curtailed the rights of the petitioner and the petition for certiorari must be dismissed.
intervenor, as well as the other 896 Barangay Chairmen in the City of Manila, to vote and be
voted upon in a direct election. After due deliberation on the pleadings filed, we resolve to dismiss this petition
for certiorari.
On 25 October 2002, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Manifestation in lieu
of Comment.[9] It supports the petition of the Liga, arguing that the assailed city ordinance and First, the respondents neither acted in any judicial or quasi-judicial capacity nor arrogated
executive order are clearly inconsistent with the express public policy enunciated in R.A. No. unto themselves any judicial or quasi-judicial prerogatives. A petition for certiorariunder Rule 65
7160. Local political subdivisions are able to legislate only by virtue of a valid delegation of of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is a special civil action that may be invoked only against a
legislative power from the national legislature. They are mere agents vested with what is called tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions.
the power of subordinate legislation. Thus, the enactments in question, which are local in origin,
cannot prevail against the decree, which has the force and effect of law. Section 1, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides:

On the issue of non-observance by the petitioners of the hierarchy-of-courts rule, the OSG
posits that technical rules of procedure should be relaxed in the instant petition.While Batas SECTION 1. Petition for certiorari. When any tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or
Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended, grants original jurisdiction over cases of this nature to the quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave
Regional Trial Court (RTC), the exigency of the present petition, however, calls for the relaxation abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal, or any
plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby
of this rule. Section 496 (should be Section 491) of the Local Government Code of 1991
primarily intended that the Liga ng mga Barangaydetermine the representation of the Liga in the may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that
sanggunians for the immediate ventilation, articulation, and crystallization of issues affecting judgment be rendered annulling or modifying the proceedings of such tribunal, board or officer,
and granting such incidental reliefs as law and justice may require.
barangay government administration. Thus, the immediate resolution of this petition is a must.

On the other hand, the respondents defend the validity of the assailed ordinance and Elsewise stated, for a writ of certiorari to issue, the following requisites must concur: (1) it
executive order and pray for the dismissal of the present petition on the following grounds: must be directed against a tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions;
(1) certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is unavailing; (2) the petition should not be (2) the tribunal, board, or officer must have acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with
entertained by this Court in view of the pendency before the Regional Trial Court of Manila of grave abuse of discretion amounting lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (3) there is no appeal or
two actions or petitions questioning the subject ordinance and executive order; (3) the petitioner any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
is guilty of forum shopping; and (4) the act sought to be enjoined is fait accompli.
A respondent is said to be exercising judicial function where he has the power to
The respondents maintain that certiorari is an extraordinary remedy available to one determine what the law is and what the legal rights of the parties are, and then undertakes to
aggrieved by the decision of a tribunal, officer, or board exercising judicial or quasi-judicial determine these questions and adjudicate upon the rights of the parties.[11]
functions. The City Council and City Mayor of Manila are not the board and officer contemplated
in Rule 65 of the Rules of Court because both do not exercise judicial functions. The enactment
Quasi-judicial function, on the other hand, is a term which applies to the actions, should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of
discretion, etc., of public administrative officers or bodies required to investigate facts or Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Courts original jurisdiction to issue these writs
ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them as a basis for should be allowed only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and
their official action and to exercise discretion of a judicial nature.[12] specifically set out in the petition. This is [an] established policy. It is a policy necessary to
prevent inordinate demands upon the Courts time and attention which are better devoted to
Before a tribunal, board, or officer may exercise judicial or quasi-judicial acts, it is those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of the Courts
necessary that there be a law that gives rise to some specific rights of persons or property under docket.
which adverse claims to such rights are made, and the controversy ensuing therefrom is brought
before a tribunal, board, or officer clothed with power and authority to determine the law and
adjudicate the respective rights of the contending parties.[13] As we have said in Santiago v. Vasquez,[17] the propensity of litigants and lawyers to
disregard the hierarchy of courts in our judicial system by seeking relief directly from this Court
The respondents do not fall within the ambit of tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial must be put to a halt for two reasons: (1) it would be an imposition upon the precious time of this
or quasi-judicial functions. As correctly pointed out by the respondents, the enactment by the Court; and (2) it would cause an inevitable and resultant delay, intended or otherwise, in the
City Council of Manila of the assailed ordinance and the issuance by respondent Mayor of the adjudication of cases, which in some instances had to be remanded or referred to the lower
questioned executive order were done in the exercise of legislative and executive functions, court as the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as better equipped to resolve the
respectively, and not of judicial or quasi-judicial functions. On this score alone, certiorari will not issues because this Court is not a trier of facts.
lie.
Thus, we shall reaffirm the judicial policy that this Court will not entertain direct resort to it
Second, although the instant petition is styled as a petition for certiorari, in essence, it unless the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts, and exceptional and
seeks the declaration by this Court of the unconstitutionality or illegality of the questioned compelling circumstances justify the availment of the extraordinary remedy of writ
ordinance and executive order. It, thus, partakes of the nature of a petition for declaratory relief of certiorari, calling for the exercise of its primary jurisdiction.[18]
over which this Court has only appellate, not original, jurisdiction. [14]Section 5, Article VIII of the
Constitution provides: Petitioners reliance on Pimentel v. Aguirre[19] is misplaced because the non-observance of
the hierarchy-of-courts rule was not an issue therein. Besides, what was sought to be nullified in
the petition for certiorari and prohibition therein was an act of the President of the Philippines,
Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers: which would have greatly affected all local government units. We reiterated therein that when an
act of the legislative department is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, settling
(1) Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers the controversy becomes the duty of this Court.The same is true when what is seriously alleged
and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo to be unconstitutional is an act of the President, who in our constitutional scheme is coequal with
warranto, and habeas corpus. Congress.

We hesitate to rule that the petitioner and the intervenor are guilty of forum-
(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari as the law or the shopping. Forum-shopping exists where the elements of litis pendentia are present or when a
Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in: final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other. For litis pendentia to exist, the
following requisites must be present: (1) identity of parties, or at least such parties as are
representing the same interests in both actions; (2) identity of rights asserted and reliefs prayed
(a) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international for, the reliefs being founded on the same facts; and (3) identity with respect to the two
or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order,
preceding particulars in the two cases, such that any judgment that may be rendered in the
instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question. (Italics supplied). pending case, regardless of which party is successful, would amount to res judicata in the other
case.[20]
As such, this petition must necessary fail, as this Court does not have original jurisdiction
over a petition for declaratory relief even if only questions of law are involved. [15] In the instant petition, and as admitted by the respondents, the parties in this case and in
the alleged other pending cases are different individuals or entities; thus, forum-shopping cannot
Third, even granting arguendo that the present petition is ripe for the extraordinary writ be said to exist. Moreover, even assuming that those five petitions are indeed pending before
of certiorari, there is here a clear disregard of the hierarchy of courts. No special and important the RTC of Manila and the Court of Appeals, we can only guess the causes of action and issues
reason or exceptional and compelling circumstance has been adduced by the petitioner or the raised before those courts, considering that the respondents failed to furnish this Court with
intervenor why direct recourse to this Court should be allowed. copies of the said petitions.

We have held that this Courts original jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari (as well as of WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.
prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction) is not exclusive, but is
concurrent with the Regional Trial Courts and the Court of Appeals in certain cases. As aptly SO ORDERED.
stated in People v. Cuaresma:[16]

This concurrence of jurisdiction is not, however, to be taken as according to parties seeking any
of the writs an absolute, unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which application
therefor0 will be directed. There is after all a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative
of the venue of appeals, and also serves as a general determinant of the appropriate forum for
petitions for the extraordinary writs. A becoming regard of that judicial hierarchy most certainly
indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level (inferior) courts
THIRD DIVISION 150, Makati City, a complaint against the former for specific performance and damages,
docketed as Civil Case No. 90-3440.

Meanwhile, during the pendency of the case, respondent finally accepted the
condominium unit and on April 12, 1991, occupied the same. Thus, respondents cause of action
[G.R. No. 139791. December 12, 2003] has been limited to his claim for damages.

On December 18, 1992, the trial court rendered a Decision[3] finding the petitioner liable for
payment of damages due to the delay in the performance of its obligation to the respondent. The
dispositive portion reads:
MANILA BANKERS LIFE INSURANCE CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. EDDY NG KOK
WEI, respondent. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff and against defendant, ordering
Manila Bankers Life Insurance Corporation to pay plaintiff Eddy Ng Kok Wei the following:
DECISION
1. One percent (1%) of the total amount plaintiff paid defendant;
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

2. P100,000.00 as moral damages;


Before us is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the Decision[1] dated March 26,
1999 and Resolution[2] dated August 5, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 40504,
entitled Eddy Ng Kok Wei vs. Manila Bankers Life Insurance Corporation. 3. P50,000.00 as exemplary damages;

The factual antecedents as borne by the records are:


4. P25,000.00 by way of attorneys fees; and
Eddy Ng Kok Wei, respondent, is a Singaporean businessman who ventured into investing
in the Philippines. On November 29, 1988, respondent, in a Letter of Intent addressed to Manila Cost of suit.
Bankers Life Insurance Corporation, petitioner, expressed his intention to purchase a
condominium unit at Valle Verde Terraces.
SO ORDERED.
Subsequently or on December 5, 1988, respondent paid petitioner a reservation fee
of P50,000.00 for the purchase of a 46-square meter condominium unit (Unit 703) valued
at P860,922.00. On January 16, 1989, respondent paid 90% of the purchase price in the sum On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in a Decision dated March 26, 1999, affirmed in toto the
of P729,830.00. trial courts award of damages in favor of the respondent.

Consequently, petitioner, through its President, Mr. Antonio G. Puyat, executed a Contract Unsatisfied, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by the Appellate
to Sell in favor of the respondent. The contract expressly states that the subject condominium Court in a Resolution dated August 5, 1999.
unit shall substantially be completed and delivered to the respondent within fifteen (15) months
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner contends that the trial court has no
from February 8, 1989 or on May 8, 1990, and that (S)hould there be no substantial completion
jurisdiction over the instant case; and that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial courts
and fail(ure) to deliver the unit on the date specified, a penalty of 1% of the total amount paid (by finding that petitioner incurred unreasonable delay in the delivery of the condominium unit to
respondent) shall be charged against (petitioner).
respondent.
Considering that the stipulated 15-month period was at hand, respondent returned to On petitioners contention that the trial court has no jurisdiction over the instant case,
the Philippines sometime in April, 1990.
Section 1 (c) of Presidential Decree No. 1344, as amended, provides:
In a letter dated April 5, 1990, petitioner, through its Senior Assistant Vice-President, Mr.
Mario G. Zavalla, informed respondent of the substantial completion of his condominium unit, SECTION 1. In the exercise of its functions to regulate the real estate trade and business and in
however, due to various uncontrollable forces (such as coup d etat attempts, typhoon and steel addition to its powers provided for in Presidential Decree No. 957, the National Housing
and cement shortage), the final turnover is reset to May 31, 1990. Authority [now Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB)] [4] shall have exclusive
jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of the following nature:
Meanwhile, on July 5, 1990, upon receipt of petitioners notice of delivery dated May 31,
1990, respondent again flew back to Manila. He found the unit still uninhabitable for lack of water
and electric facilities. xxx

Once more, petitioner issued another notice to move-in addressed to its building
administrator advising the latter that respondent is scheduled to move in on August 22, 1990. C. Cases involving specific performance of contractual and statutory obligations filed by buyers
of subdivision lots or condominium units against the owner, developer, dealer, broker or
On October 5, 1990, respondent returned to the Philippines only to find that his salesman.
condominium unit was still unlivable. Exasperated, he was constrained to send petitioner a letter
dated November 21, 1990 demanding payment for the damages he sustained. But petitioner x x x.
ignored such demand, prompting respondent to file with the Regional Trial Court, Branch
Pursuant to the above provisions, it is the HLURB which has jurisdiction over the instant
case. We have consistently held that complaints for specific performance with damages by a lot
or condominium unit buyer against the owner or developer falls under the exclusive jurisdiction
of the HLURB.[5]

While it may be true that the trial court is without jurisdiction over the case, petitioners
active participation in the proceedings estopped it from assailing such lack of it. We have held
that it is an undesirable practice of a party participating in the proceedings and submitting its
case for decision and then accepting the judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of
jurisdiction, when adverse.[6]

Here, petitioner failed to raise the question of jurisdiction before the trial court and the
Appellate Court. In effect, petitioner confirmed and ratified the trial courts jurisdiction over this
case. Certainly, it is now in estoppel and can no longer question the trial courts jurisdiction.

On petitioners claim that it did not incur delay, suffice it to say that this is a factual
issue. Time and again, we have ruled that the factual findings of the trial court are given weight
when supported by substantial evidence and carries more weight when affirmed by the Court of
Appeals.[7] Whether or not petitioner incurred delay and thus, liable to pay damages as a
result thereof, are indeed factual questions.

The jurisdiction of this Court in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, is limited to reviewing only errors of law, not of fact,
unless the factual findings being assailed are not supported by evidence on record or the
impugned judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts. [8] These exceptions are not present
here.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated March 26, 1999 and
Resolution dated August 5, 1999 of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMEDIN TOTO.

Costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION requires all cases involving justices and judges of the lower courts, whether or not such
complaints deal with acts apparently unrelated to the discharge of their official functions, such as
acts of immorality, estafa, crimes against persons and property, etc. to be forwarded to the
Supreme Court. Judge Hurtado asserted that since the case against him is one involving a judge
of a lower court, the same should be forwarded to the Supreme Court pursuant to Circular No. 3-
[A.M. No. MTJ-01-1370. April 25, 2003] 89.

The Provincial Prosecutor opposed Judge Hurtados motion, arguing that the case against
Judge Hurtado is not within the scope of Circular No. 3-89 since it is not an IBP-initiated case.
Moreover, the offense charged was committed in 1993 when Judge Hurtado was still a clerk of
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, complainant, vs. JUDGE AGUSTIN T. court and ex-officio notary public.
SARDIDO, Municipal Trial Court of Koronadal, South Cotabato, respondent.
On 20 October 1998, Judge Sardido issued an Order, the pertinent portions of which read:

DECISION
The issue to be resolved in the instant case is, whether the case of Judge Hurtado, who is
CARPIO, J.: charged for acts committed prior to his appointment as an RTC Judge, falls within the purview of
the afore-said Circular No. 3-89.

It is the humble submission of the Court that the case of Judge Hurtado, an RTC Judge of the
The Case Regional Trial Court of Kabacan, North Cotabato, falls within the meaning and intent of the said
circular.

This is an administrative case against respondent Judge Agustin T. Sardido (Judge


For reasons being, firstly, the said circular provides that all cases involving justices and judges of
Sardido) formerly presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Koronadal, South Cotabato, for
lower courts shall be forwarded to the Supreme Court for appropriate action, whether or not such
gross ignorance of the law. Judge Sardido issued an Order dated 20 October 1998 excluding
complaints deal with acts apparently unrelated to the discharge of their official functions, and
Judge Braulio Hurtado, Jr. (Judge Hurtado) of the Regional Trial Court of Kabacan, North
regardless of the nature of the crime, without any qualification whether the crime was committed
Cotabato as one of the accused in an Amended Information. [1] Judge Sardido ruled that
before or during his tenure of office. Under the law on Legal Hermeneutics, if the law does not
Supreme Court Circular No. 3-89 requires that Judge Hurtado be dropped from the Amended
qualify we must not qualify. Secondly, it would sound, to the mind of the Court, awkward for a
Information and his case be forwarded to the Court.
first level court to be trying an incumbent judge of a second level court.

For reasons afore-stated, this Court can not and shall not try this case as against Judge
The Facts Hurtado, unless the Honorable Supreme Court would order otherwise.

Wherefore, the foregoing premises duly considered, the name of Judge Braulio L. Hurtado, Jr. is
Private complainant Teresita Aguirre Magbanua accused Oscar Pagunsan and Danilo ordered excluded from the amended information and the case against him is ordered forwarded
Ong of the crime of Falsification by Private Individual and Use of Falsified Document. [2] The to the Honorable Supreme Court, pursuant to the afore-said Circular No. 3-89 of the Supreme
Amended Information included Judge Hurtado. The case, docketed as Criminal Case No. 14071, Court, dated February 9, 1989.
was raffled to Judge Sardido, then presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Koronadal,
South Cotabato (MTC-Koronadal).
Accordingly, Maxima S. Borja (Borja), Stenographer I and Acting Clerk of Court II of the
In a Deed of Absolute Sale dated 8 August 1993, private complainant Magbanua and six MTC-Koronadal, South Cotabato, wrote a letter dated 21 July 1999 forwarding the criminal case
other vendors allegedly sold two parcels of land, covered by TCT Nos. 47873 and 33633 and against Judge Hurtado to the Court Administrator for appropriate action.
located at the commercial district of Koronadal, to Davao Realty Development Corporation,
represented by accused Ong, with co-accused Pagunsan, as broker.Judge Hurtado, who at that Then Court Administrator Alfredo L. Benipayo issued a Memorandum dated 25 October
2000 pointing out that Circular No. 3-89 refers only to administrative complaints filed with the IBP
time was the Clerk of Court of RTC-Koronadal and ex-officio notary public, notarized the Deed of
against justices and judges of lower courts. The Circular does not apply to criminal cases filed
Absolute Sale.
before trial courts against such justices and judges.
However, private complainant Magbanua denies signing the Deed of Absolute Sale dated
Thus, in the Resolution of 6 December 2000, the Court directed that the letter of Acting
8 August 1993 which states that the consideration for the sale was only P600,000.00. Private
complainant asserts that what she and the other vendors signed was a Deed of Absolute Sale Clerk of Court Borja be returned to the MTC-Koronadal together with the records of the criminal
dated 6 August 1996 for a consideration of P16,000,000.00.Under the terms of the sale, the case. The Court directed Judge Sardido to explain in writing why he should not be held liable for
gross ignorance of the law for excluding Judge Hurtado from the Amended Information and for
vendee agreed to pay for the capital gains tax. The consideration in the 8 August 1993 Deed of
Absolute Sale was apparently undervalued.Subsequently, the Bureau of Internal Revenue transmitting the records of Judge Hurtados case to the Court.
assessed the vendors a deficiency capital gains tax of P1,023,375.00. In his Explanation dated 26 January 2001, Judge Sardido reasoned out that he excluded
Judge Hurtado because Circular No. 3-89 directs the IBP to forward to the Supreme Court for
Judge Hurtado filed a motion praying that the criminal complaint against him be forwarded
to the Supreme Court. Judge Hurtado claimed that Circular No. 3-89 dated 6 February 1989 appropriate action all cases involving justices and judges of lower courts x x x. Judge Sardido
claims that the Circular likewise applies to courts in cases involving justices or judges of the The IBP Board of Governors may, motu proprio or upon referral by the Supreme Court or by a
lower courts, especially so in this case where Judge Hurtado was charged with falsification of Chapter Board of Officers, or at the instance of any person, initiate and prosecute proper
public document as a notary public while he was still the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial charges against erring attorneys including those in the government service. (Emphasis
Court of the 11th Judicial Region in Koronadal, South Cotabato. supplied).

In the Resolution of 28 March 2001, the Court referred this case to the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA) for evaluation, report and recommendation. On 10 July 2001, the OCA As clarified, the phrase attorneys x x x in the government service in Section 1 of Rule 139-B
submitted a Memorandum recommending that this case be re-docketed as a regular does not include justices of appellate courts and judges of lower courts who are not subject to
administrative matter. the disciplining authority of the IBP. All administrative cases against justices of appellate courts
and judges of lower courts fall exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
Judge Sardido filed his Manifestation dated 20 September 2001 stating that he is
submitting the case for decision based on the pleadings and records already filed. Judge However, Rule 139-B refers to Disbarment and Discipline of Attorneys which is
Sardido insisted that he did what he had done in all honesty and good faith. administrative and not criminal in nature. The cases referred to in Circular No. 3-89 are
administrative cases for disbarment, suspension or discipline of attorneys, including justices of
appellate courts and judges of the lower courts. The Court has vested the IBP with the power to
initiate and prosecute administrative cases against erring lawyers. [8] However, under Circular No.
OCAs Findings and Conclusions 3-89, the Court has directed the IBP to refer to the Supreme Court for appropriate action all
administrative cases filed with IBP against justices of appellate courts and judges of the lower
courts. As mandated by the Constitution, the Court exercises the exclusive power to discipline
administratively justices of appellate courts and judges of lower courts.
The OCA found that Judge Sardido erred in excluding Judge Hurtado as one of the
accused in the Amended Information in Criminal Case No. 14071. The OCA held that Circular Circular No. 3-89 does not refer to criminal cases against erring justices of appellate
No. 3-89, which is Judge Sardidos basis in issuing the Order of 20 October 1998, refers to courts or judges of lower courts. Trial courts retain jurisdiction over the criminal aspect of
administrative complaints filed with the IBP against justices and judges of lower courts. The offenses committed by justices of appellate courts[9] and judges of lower courts. This is clear
Circular does not apply to criminal cases filed against justices and judges of lower courts. The from the Circular directing the IBP, and not the trial courts, to refer all administrative cases filed
OCA recommended that a fine of P5,000.00 be imposed on Judge Sardido for gross ignorance against justices of appellate courts and judges of lower courts to the Supreme Court. The case
of the law. filed against Judge Hurtado is not an administrative case filed with the IBP. It is a criminal case
filed with the trial court under its jurisdiction as prescribed by law.

The acts or omissions of a judge may well constitute at the same time both a criminal act
The Courts Ruling and an administrative offense. Whether the criminal case against Judge Hurtado relates to an
act committed before or after he became a judge is of no moment. Neither is it material that an
MTC judge will be trying an RTC judge in the criminal case. A criminal case against an attorney
or judge is distinct and separate from an administrative case against him. The dismissal of the
The Court issued Circular No. 3-89 in response to a letter dated 19 December 1988 by criminal case does not warrant the dismissal of an administrative case arising from the same set
then IBP President Leon M. Garcia, seeking clarification of the Courts En Banc Resolution of 29 of facts. The quantum of evidence that is required in the latter is only preponderance of
November 1998 in RE: Letter of then Acting Presiding Justice Rodolfo A. Nocon[3] and evidence, and not proof beyond reasonable doubt which is required in criminal cases.[10] As held
Associate Justices Reynato Puno[4] and Alfredo Marigomen[5]of the Court of Appeals. in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pool, Inc. v. Naldoza:[11]
A certain Atty. Eduardo R. Balaoing had filed a complaint against Court of Appeals
Justices Nocon, Puno and Marigomen relating to a petition filed before their division. In its En Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and
Banc Resolution of 29 November 1988, the Court required the IBP to refer to the Supreme Court they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.
for appropriate action the complaint[6] filed by Atty. Balaoing with the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline. The Court stated that the power to discipline justices and judges of the lower courts is
within the Courts exclusive power and authority as provided in Section 11, Article VII of the 1987 The burden of proof for these types of cases differ. In a criminal case, proof beyond reasonable
Constitution.[7] The Court Administrator publicized the En Banc Resolution of 29 November 1988 doubt is necessary; in an administrative case for disbarment or suspension, clearly preponderant
by issuing Circular No. 17 dated 20 December 1988. evidence is all that is required. Thus, a criminal prosecution will not constitute a prejudicial
question even if the same facts and circumstances are attendant in the administrative
The Court issued Circular No. 3-89 on 6 February 1989 clarifying the En Banc Resolution proceedings.
of 29 November 1988. Circular No. 3-89 provides in part as follows:
It should be emphasized that a finding of guilt in the criminal case will not necessarily result in a
(1) The IBP (Board of Governors and Commission on Bar Discipline) shall forward to the finding of liability in the administrative case. Conversely, respondents acquittal does not
Supreme Court for appropriate action all cases involving justices and judges of lower courts, necessarily exculpate him administratively. In the same vein, the trial courts finding of civil
whether or not such complaints deal with acts apparently unrelated to the discharge of their liability against the respondent will not inexorably lead to a similar finding in the administrative
official functions, such as acts of immorality, estafa, crimes against persons and property, etc. x action before this Court. Neither will a favorable disposition in the civil action absolve the
x x. (Emphasis supplied) administrative liability of the lawyer. The basic premise is that criminal and civil cases are
altogether different from administrative matters, such that the disposition in the first two will not
inevitably govern the third and vice versa. For this reason, it would be well to remember the
Circular No. 3-89 clarified the second paragraph, Section 1 of Rule 139-B of the Rules of Courts ruling in In re Almacen, which we quote:
Court which states that:
x x x Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely
criminal, they do not involve a trial of an action or a suit, but are rather investigations by the
Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, [they are] in
no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor
therein.[They] may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is [their] primary
objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit
person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the
Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the
Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and
honest administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their misconduct
have prove[n] themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities
pertaining to the office of an attorney. x x x

A judge is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and
procedural rules. He must be conversant with basic legal principles and well-settled
doctrines. He should strive for excellence and seek the truth with passion.[12] Judge Sardido
failed in this regard. He erred in excluding Judge Hurtado as one of the accused in the Amended
Information and in forwarding the criminal case against Judge Hurtado to the Court.

One last point. This administrative case against Judge Sardido started before the
amendment[13] of Rule 140 classifying gross ignorance of the law a serious offense punishable
by a fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00. The amendment cannot apply
retroactively to Judge Sardidos case. However, the fine of P5,000.00 recommended by the OCA
is too light a penalty considering that this is not the first offense of Judge Sardido.

In RE: Hold Departure Order Issued by Judge Agustin T. Sardido,[14] the Court
reprimanded Judge Sardido for issuing a hold-departure order contrary to Circular No. 39-
97. In Cabilao v. Judge Sardido,[15] the Court fined Judge Sardido P5,000.00 for gross
ignorance of the law, grave abuse of discretion and gross misconduct. The Court gave a stern
warning to Judge Sardido that a commission of the same or similar act would be dealt with more
severely. In Almeron v. Judge Sardido,[16] the Court imposed on Judge Sardido a stiffer fine
of P10,000.00 for gross ignorance of the law. He was again sternly warned that the commission
of the same or similar act in the future would be dealt with more severely including, if warranted,
his dismissal from the service.

In a more recent administrative case, Torcende v. Judge Sardido,[17] the Court found
Judge Sardido again guilty of gross ignorance of the law and of gross misconduct. This time the
Court dismissed Judge Sardido from the service with forfeiture of his retirement benefits, except
accrued leave credits. The dismissal was with prejudice to reemployment in any branch of the
government or any of its agencies or instrumentalities, including government-owned and
controlled corporations.

The records of the OCA further disclose that Judge Sardido has other similar
administrative complaints[18] still pending against him. Such an unflattering service record erodes
the peoples faith and confidence in the judiciary. It is the duty of every member of the bench to
avoid any impression of impropriety to protect the image and integrity of the judiciary.[19] The
Court may still impose a fine on Judge Sardido in the instant case despite his dismissal from the
service.

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Agustin T. Sardido is FINED Ten Thousand Pesos


(P10,000.00) for gross ignorance of the law. The fine may be deducted from his accrued leave
credits.

SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION On August 2, 1963, herein [P]etitioner [George Katon] filed a request with the District Office of
the Bureau of Forestry in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, for the re-classification of a piece of real
property known as Sombrero Island, located in Tagpait, Aborlan, Palawan, which consists of
approximately 18 hectares. Said property is within Timberland Block of LC Project No. 10-C of
Aborlan, Palawan, per BF Map LC No. 1582.
[G.R. No. 151149. September 7, 2004]
Thereafter, the Bureau of Forestry District Office, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, ordered the
inspection, investigation and survey of the land subject of the petitioners request for eventual
conversion or re-classification from forest to agricultural land, and thereafter for George Katon to
GEORGE KATON, petitioner, vs. MANUEL PALANCA JR., LORENZO AGUSTIN, JESUS apply for a homestead patent.
GAPILANGO and JUAN FRESNILLO, respondents.
Gabriel Mandocdoc (now retired Land Classification Investigator) undertook the investigation,
DECISION inspection and survey of the area in the presence of the petitioner, his brother Rodolfo Katon
(deceased) and his cousin, [R]espondent Manuel Palanca, Jr. During said survey, there were no
PANGANIBAN, J.: actual occupants on the island but there were some coconut trees claimed to have been planted
by petitioner and [R]espondent Manuel Palanca, Jr. (alleged overseer of petitioner) who went to
the island from time to time to undertake development work, like planting of additional coconut
Where prescription, lack of jurisdiction or failure to state a cause of action clearly appear trees.
from the complaint filed with the trial court, the action may be dismissed motu proprio by the
Court of Appeals, even if the case has been elevated for review on different grounds. Verily, the
dismissal of such cases appropriately ends useless litigations. The application for conversion of the whole Sombrero Island was favorably endorsed by the
Forestry District Office of Puerto Princesa to its main office in Manila for appropriate action. The
names of Felicisimo Corpuz, Clemente Magdayao and Jesus Gapilango and Juan Fresnillo were
included in the endorsement as co-applicants of the petitioner.
The Case
In a letter dated September 23, 1965, then Asst. Director of Forestry R.J.L. Utleg informed the
Director of Lands, Manila, that since the subject land was no longer needed for forest purposes,
Before us is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the the same is therefore certified and released as agricultural land for disposition under the Public
December 8, 2000 Decision[2] and the November 20, 2001 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals Land Act.
in CA-GR SP No. 57496. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:
Petitioner contends that the whole area known as Sombrero Island had been classified from
Assuming that petitioner is correct in saying that he has the exclusive right in applying for the forest land to agricultural land and certified available for disposition upon his request and at his
patent over the land in question, it appears that his action is already barred by laches because instance. However, Mr. Lucio Valera, then [l]and investigator of the District Land Office, Puerto
he slept on his alleged right for almost 23 years from the time the original certificate of title has Princesa, Palawan, favorably endorsed the request of [R]espondents Manuel Palanca Jr. and
been issued to respondent Manuel Palanca, Jr., or after 35 years from the time the land was Lorenzo Agustin, for authority to survey on November 15, 1965. On November 22, a second
certified as agricultural land. In addition, the proper party in the annulment of patents or titles endorsement was issued by Palawan District Officer Diomedes De Guzman with specific
acquired through fraud is the State; thus, the petitioners action is deemed misplaced as he really instruction to survey vacant portions of Sombrero Island for the respondents consisting of five (5)
does not have any right to assert or protect. What he had during the time he requested for the hectares each. On December 10, 1965, Survey Authority No. R III-342-65 was issued
re-classification of the land was the privilege of applying for the patent over the same upon the authorizing Deputy Public Land Surveyor Eduardo Salvador to survey ten (10) hectares
lands conversion from forest to agricultural. of Sombrero Island for the respondents. On December 23, 1990, [R]espondent Lorenzo Agustin
filed a homestead patent application for a portion of the subject island consisting of an area of
4.3 hectares.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to cost.[4]

Records show that on November 8, 1996, [R]espondent Juan Fresnillo filed a homestead patent
The assailed Resolution, on the other hand, denied the Motion for Reconsideration filed by application for a portion of the island comprising 8.5 hectares. Records also reveal that
petitioner. It affirmed the RTCs dismissal of his Complaint in Civil Case No. 3231, not on the [R]espondent Jesus Gapilango filed a homestead application on June 8, 1972. Respondent
grounds relied upon by the trial court, but because of prescription and lack of jurisdiction. Manuel Palanca, Jr. was issued Homestead Patent No. 145927 and OCT No. G-7089 on March
3, 1977[5] with an area of 6.84 hectares of Sombrero Island.

The Antecedent Facts Petitioner assails the validity of the homestead patents and original certificates of title covering
certain portions of Sombrero Island issued in favor of respondents on the ground that the same
were obtained through fraud. Petitioner prays for the reconveyance of the whole island in his
favor.
The CA narrates the antecedent facts as follows:
On the other hand, [R]espondent Manuel Palanca, Jr. claims that he himself requested for the Finally, granting arguendo that petitioner had the exclusive right to apply for a patent to the
reclassification of the island in dispute and that on or about the time of such request, land in question, he was already barred by laches for having slept on his right for almost 23
[R]espondents Fresnillo, Palanca and Gapilango already occupied their respective areas and years from the time Respondent Palancas title had been issued.
introduced numerous improvements. In addition, Palanca said that petitioner never filed any
homestead application for the island. Respondents deny that Gabriel Mandocdoc undertook the In the Assailed Resolution, the CA acknowledged that it had erred when it ruled on the
inspection and survey of the island. merits of the case. It agreed with petitioner that the trial court had acted without jurisdiction in
perfunctorily dismissing his September 10, 1999 Motion for Reconsideration, on the erroneous
ground that it was a third and prohibited motion when it was actually only his first motion.
According to Mandocdoc, the island was uninhabited but the respondents insist that they already
had their respective occupancy and improvements on the island. Palanca denies that he is a Nonetheless, the Complaint was dismissed motu proprio by the challenged Resolution of
mere overseer of the petitioner because he said he was acting for himself in developing his own the CA Special Division of five members with two justices dissenting pursuant to its residual
area and not as anybodys caretaker. prerogative under Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court.

From the allegations of the Complaint, the appellate court opined that petitioner clearly
Respondents aver that they are all bona fide and lawful possessors of their respective portions had no standing to seek reconveyance of the disputed land, because he neither held title to it
and have declared said portions for taxation purposes and that they have been faithfully paying nor even applied for a homestead patent. It reiterated that only the State could sue for
taxes thereon for twenty years. cancellation of the title issued upon a homestead patent, and for reversion of the land to the
public domain.
Respondents contend that the petitioner has no legal capacity to sue insofar as the island is
concerned because an action for reconveyance can only be brought by the owner and not a Finally, it ruled that prescription had already barred the action for reconveyance. First,
mere homestead applicant and that petitioner is guilty of estoppel by laches for his failure to petitioners action was brought 24 years after the issuance of Palancas homestead patent. Under
the Public Land Act, such action should have been taken within ten years from the issuance of
assert his right over the land for an unreasonable and unexplained period of time.
the homestead certificate of title. Second, it appears from the submission (Annex F of the
Complaint) of petitioner himself that Respondents Fresnillo and Palanca had been occupying six
In the instant case, petitioner seeks to nullify the homestead patents and original certificates of hectares of the island since 1965, or 33 years before he took legal steps to assert his right to the
title issued in favor of the respondents covering certain portions of the Sombrero Island as well property. His action was filed beyond the 30-year prescriptive period under Articles 1141 and
as the reconveyance of the whole island in his favor. The petitioner claims that he has the 1137 of the Civil Code.
exclusive right to file an application for homestead patent over the whole island since it was he
who requested for its conversion from forest land to agricultural land. [6] Hence, this Petition.[7]

Respondents filed their Answer with Special and/or Affirmative Defenses and
Counterclaim in due time. On June 30, 1999, they also filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground Issues
of the alleged defiance by petitioner of the trial courts Order to amend his Complaint so he could
thus effect a substitution by the legal heirs of the deceased, Respondent Gapilango. The Motion
to Dismiss was granted by the RTC in its Order dated July 29, 1999.
In his Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues:
Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of the July 29, 1999 Order was denied by the trial
court in its Resolution dated December 17, 1999, for being a third and prohibited motion. In his
1. Is the Court of Appeals correct in resolving the Petition for Certiorari based on an issue not
Petition for Certiorari before the CA, petitioner charged the trial court with grave abuse of
raised (the merits of the case) in the Petition?
discretion on the ground that the denied Motion was his first and only Motion for Reconsideration
of the aforesaid Order.
2. Is the Court of Appeals correct in invoking its alleged residual prerogative under Section 1,
Rule 9 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure in resolving the Petition on an issue not raised in the
Petition?[8]
Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Instead of limiting itself to the allegation of grave abuse of discretion, the CA ruled on the The Courts Ruling
merits. It held that while petitioner had caused the reclassification of SombreroIsland from forest
to agricultural land, he never applied for a homestead patent under the Public Land Act. Hence,
he never acquired title to that land. The Petition has no merit.
The CA added that the annulment and cancellation of a homestead patent and the First Issue:
reversion of the property to the State were matters between the latter and the homestead Propriety of Ruling on the Merits
grantee. Unless and until the government takes steps to annul the grant, the homesteaders right
thereto stands. This is not the first time that petitioner has taken issue with the propriety of the CAs ruling
on the merits. He raised it with the appellate court when he moved for reconsideration of its
December 8, 2000 Decision. The CA even corrected itself in its November 20, 2001 Resolution, A partys appeal by record on appeal is deemed perfected as to him with respect to the subject
as follows: matter thereof upon the approval of the record on appeal filed in due time.

Upon another review of the case, the Court concedes that it may indeed have lost its way and In appeals by notice of appeal, the court loses jurisdiction over the case upon the perfection of
been waylaid by the variety, complexity and seeming importance of the interests and issues the appeals filed in due time and the expiration of the time to appeal of the other parties.
involved in the case below, the apparent reluctance of the judges, five in all, to hear the case,
and the volume of the conflicting, often confusing, submissions bearing on incidental matters.
In appeals by record on appeal, the court loses jurisdiction only over the subject matter thereof
We stand corrected.[9]
upon the approval of the records on appeal filed in due time and the expiration of the time to
appeal of the other parties.
That explanation should have been enough to settle the issue. The CAs Resolution on this
point has rendered petitioners issue moot. Hence, there is no need to discuss it further. Suffice it
In either case, prior to the transmittal of the original record or the record on appeal, the court
to say that the appellate court indeed acted ultra jurisdictio in ruling on the merits of the case
may issue orders for the protection and preservation of the rights of the parties which do not
when the only issue that could have been, and was in fact, raised was the alleged grave abuse
involve any matter litigated by the appeal, approve compromises, permit appeals of indigent
of discretion committed by the trial court in denying petitioners Motion for
litigants, order execution pending appeal in accordance with Section 2 of Rule 39, and allow
Reconsideration. Settled is the doctrine that the sole office of a writ of certiorari is the correction
withdrawal of the appeal. (Italics supplied)
of errors of jurisdiction. Such writ does not include a review of the evidence, [10] more so when no
determination of the merits has yet been made by the trial court, as in this case.
The residual jurisdiction of trial courts is available at a stage in which the court is normally
Second Issue: deemed to have lost jurisdiction over the case or the subject matter involved in the appeal. This
Dismissal for Prescription stage is reached upon the perfection of the appeals by the parties or upon the approval of the
and Lack of Jurisdiction records on appeal, but prior to the transmittal of the original records or the records on
appeal.[13] In either instance, the trial court still retains its so-called residual jurisdiction to issue
Petitioner next submits that the CA erroneously invoked its residual prerogatives under protective orders, approve compromises, permit appeals of indigent litigants, order execution
Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court when it motu proprio dismissed the Petition for lack of pending appeal, and allow the withdrawal of the appeal.
jurisdiction and prescription. According to him, residual prerogative refers to the power that the
trial court, in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, may still validly exercise even after perfection The CAs motu proprio dismissal of petitioners Complaint could not have been based,
of an appeal. It follows that such powers are not possessed by an appellate court. therefore, on residual jurisdiction under Rule 41. Undeniably, such order of dismissal was not
one for the protection and preservation of the rights of the parties, pending the disposition of the
Petitioner has confused what the CA adverted to as its residual prerogatives under case on appeal. What the CA referred to as residual prerogatives were the general residual
Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court with the residual jurisdiction of trial courts over cases powers of the courts to dismiss an action motu proprio upon the grounds mentioned in Section 1
appealed to the CA. of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court and under authority of Section 2 of Rule 1[14] of the same rules.

Under Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court, defenses and objections not pleaded To be sure, the CA had the excepted instances in mind when it dismissed the
either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived, except when (1) lack of Complaint motu proprio on more fundamental grounds directly bearing on the lower courts lack
jurisdiction over the subject matter, (2) litis pendentia, (3) res judicata and (4) prescription are of jurisdiction[15] and for prescription of the action. Indeed, when a court has no jurisdiction over
evident from the pleadings or the evidence on record. In the four excepted instances, the court the subject matter, the only power it has is to dismiss the action.[16]
shall motu proprio dismiss the claim or action. In Gumabon v. Larin[11] we explained thus:
Jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred by law and is determined by the
allegations in the complaint and the character of the relief sought.[17] In his Complaint for
x x x [T]he motu proprio dismissal of a case was traditionally limited to instances when the court Nullification of Applications for Homestead and Original Certificate of Title No. G-7089 and for
clearly had no jurisdiction over the subject matter and when the plaintiff did not appear during Reconveyance of Title,[18] petitioner averred:
trial, failed to prosecute his action for an unreasonable length of time or neglected to comply with
the rules or with any order of the court. Outside of these instances, any motu proprio dismissal
would amount to a violation of the right of the plaintiff to be heard. Except for qualifying and 2. That on November 10, 1965, without the knowledge of [petitioner, Respondent] Manuel
expanding Section 2, Rule 9, and Section 3, Rule 17, of the Revised Rules of Court, the Palanca Jr., [petitioners] cousin, in connivance with his co-[respondent], Lorenzo Agustin, x x
amendatory 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure brought about no radical change. Under the new xfraudulently and in bad faith:
rules, a court may motu proprio dismiss a claim when it appears from the pleadings or evidence
on record that it has no jurisdiction over the subject matter; when there is another cause of 2.1. x x x made the request for authority to survey as a pre-requisite to the filing of an application
action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or where the action is barred by a for homestead patent in his name and that of his Co-[Respondent] Agustin, [despite being] fully
prior judgment or by statute of limitations. x x x.[12] (Italics supplied) aware that [Petitioner] KATON had previously applied or requested for re-classification and
certification of the same land from forest land to agricultural land which request was favorably
On the other hand, residual jurisdiction is embodied in Section 9 of Rule 41 of the Rules of acted upon and approved as mentioned earlier; a clear case of intrinsic fraud and
Court, as follows: misrepresentation;

SEC. 9. Perfection of appeal; effect thereof. A partys appeal by notice of appeal is deemed xxxxxxxxx
perfected as to him upon the filing of the notice of appeal in due time.
2.3. In stating in his application for homestead patent that he was applying for the VACANT would have the effect of canceling a free patent and its derivative title, with the result that the
PORTION of Sombrero Island where there was none, the same constituted another clear case land thereby covered would again form part of the public domain.[31]
of fraud and misrepresentation;
Thus, when the plaintiff admits in the complaint that the disputed land will revert to the
public domain even if the title is canceled or amended, the action is for reversion; and the proper
3. That the issuance of Homestead Patent No. 145927 and OCT No. G-7089 in the name of party who may bring action is the government, to which the property will revert. [32] A mere
[Respondent] Manuel Palanca Jr. and the filing of Homestead Patent Applications in the names homestead applicant, not being the real party in interest, has no cause of action in a suit for
of [respondents], Lorenzo Agustin, Jesus Gapilango and Juan Fresnillo[,] having been done reconveyance.[33] As it is, vested rights over the land applied for under a homestead may be
fraudulently and in bad faith, are ipso facto null and void and of no effect whatsoever.[19] validly claimed only by the applicant, after approval by the director of the Land Management
Bureau of the formers final proof of homestead patent. [34]
xxxxxxxxx
Consequently, the dismissal of the Complaint is proper not only because of lack of
jurisdiction, but also because of the utter absence of a cause of action, [35] a defense raised by
x x x. By a wrongful act or a willful omission and intending the effects with natural necessity arise respondents in their Answer.[36] Section 2 of Rule 3 of the Rules of Court[37] ordains that every
knowing from such act or omission, [Respondent Palanca] on account of his blood relation, first action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest, who stands to
degree cousins, trust, interdependence and intimacy is guilty of intrinsic fraud [sic]. x x x.[20] be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit. Indeed, one who has no right or interest to
protect has no cause of action by which to invoke, as a party-plaintiff, the jurisdiction of the
court.[38]
Thereupon, petitioner prayed, among others, for a judgment (1) nullifying the homestead
patent applications of Respondents Agustin, Fresnillo and Gapilango as well Finally, assuming that petitioner is the proper party to bring the action for annulment of title
as Homestead Patent No. 145927 and OCT No. G-7089 in the name of Respondent Palanca; or its reconveyance, the case should still be dismissed for being time-barred.[39] It is not disputed
and (2) ordering the director of the Land Management Bureau to reconvey that a homestead patent and an Original Certificate of Title was issued to Palanca on February
the Sombrero Island to petitioner.[21] 21, 1977,[40] while the Complaint was filed only on October 6, 1998. Clearly, the suit was brought
way past ten years from the date of the issuance of the Certificate, the prescriptive period for
The question is, did the Complaint sufficiently allege an action for declaration of nullity of
reconveyance of fraudulently registered real property.[41]
the free patent and certificate of title or, alternatively, for reconveyance? Or did it plead merely
for reversion? It must likewise be stressed that Palancas title -- which attained the status of indefeasibility
one year from the issuance of the patent and the Certificate of Title in February 1977 -- is no
The Complaint did not sufficiently make a case for any of such actions, over which the trial
longer open to review on the ground of actual fraud. Ybanez v. Intermediate Appellate
court could have exercised jurisdiction.
Court[42] ruled that a certificate of title, issued under an administrative proceeding pursuant to a
In an action for nullification of title or declaration of its nullity, the complaint must homestead patent, is as indefeasible as one issued under a judicial registration proceeding one
contain the following allegations: 1) that the contested land was privately owned by the year from its issuance; provided, however, that the land covered by it is disposable public land,
plaintiff prior to the issuance of the assailed certificate of title to the defendant; and 2) as in this case.
that the defendant perpetuated a fraud or committed a mistake in obtaining a
In Aldovino v. Alunan,[43] the Court has held that when the plaintiffs own complaint shows
document of title over the parcel of land claimed by the plaintiff. [ 22] In these cases,
clearly that the action has prescribed, such action may be dismissed even if the defense of
the nullity arises not from fraud or deceit, but from the fact that the director of the
prescription has not been invoked by the defendant. In Gicano v. Gegato,[44] we also explained
Land Management Bureau had no jurisdiction to bestow title; hence, the
thus:
issued patent or certificate of title was void ab initio.[23]

In an alternative action for reconveyance, the certificate of title is also respected as "x x x [T]rial courts have authority and discretion to dismiss an action on the ground of
incontrovertible, but the transfer of the property or title thereto is sought to be nullified on the prescription when the parties' pleadings or other facts on record show it to be indeed time-
ground that it was wrongfully or erroneously registered in the defendants name. [24] As with an barred; (Francisco v. Robles, Feb. 15, 1954; Sison v. McQuaid, 50 O.G. 97; Bambao v.
annulment of title, a complaint must allege two facts that, if admitted, would entitle the plaintiff to Lednicky, Jan. 28, 1961; Cordova v. Cordova, Jan. 14, 1958; Convets, Inc. v. NDC, Feb. 28,
recover title to the disputed land: (1) that the plaintiff was the owner of the land, and (2) that the 1958; 32 SCRA 529; Sinaon v. Sorongan, 136 SCRA 408); and it may do so on the basis of a
defendant illegally dispossessed the plaintiff of the property.[25] Therefore, the defendant who motion to dismiss (Sec. 1,f, Rule 16, Rules of Court), or an answer which sets up such ground
acquired the property through mistake or fraud is bound to hold and reconvey to the plaintiff the as an affirmative defense (Sec. 5, Rule 16), or even if the ground is alleged after judgment on
property or the title thereto.[26] the merits, as in a motion for reconsideration (Ferrer v. Ericta, 84 SCRA 705); or even if the
defense has not been asserted at all, as where no statement thereof is found in the pleadings
In the present case, nowhere in the Complaint did petitioner allege that he had previously (Garcia v. Mathis, 100 SCRA 250; PNB v. Pacific Commission House, 27 SCRA 766; Chua
held title to the land in question. On the contrary, he acknowledged that the disputed island was Lamco v. Dioso, et al., 97 Phil. 821); or where a defendant has been declared in default (PNB v.
public land,[27] that it had never been privately titled in his name, and that he had not applied for
Perez, 16 SCRA 270). What is essential only, to repeat, is that the facts demonstrating the lapse
a homestead under the provisions of the Public Land Act.[28]This Court has held that a complaint of the prescriptive period be otherwise sufficiently and satisfactorily apparent on the record;
by a private party who alleges that a homestead patent was obtained by fraudulent means, and either in the averments of the plaintiff's complaint, or otherwise established by the
who consequently prays for its annulment, does not state a cause of action; hence, such
evidence."[45] (Italics supplied)
complaint must be dismissed. [29]

Neither can petitioners case be one for reversion. Section 101 of the Public Land Act Clearly then, the CA did not err in dismissing the present case. After all, if and when they
categorically declares that only the solicitor general or the officer in his stead may institute such are able to do so, courts must endeavor to settle entire controversies before them to prevent
an action.[30] A private person may not bring an action for reversion or any other action that future litigations.[46]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED, and the assailed
Resolution AFFIRMED. The dismissal of the Complaint in Civil Case No. 3231
is SUSTAINED on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction, failure to state a cause of action and
prescription. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION b. Does the admission of the petitioner that it is difficult
to immediately stop a bus while it is running at 40 kilometers per hour for
the purpose of avoiding a person who unexpectedly crossed the road,
VENANCIO FIGUEROA y CERVANTES,[1] G.R. No. 147406 constitute enough incriminating evidence to warrant his conviction for the
Petitioner, crime charged?

Present: c. Is the Honorable Court of Appeals justified in considering the


place of accident as falling within Item 4 of Section 35 (b) of the Land
QUISUMBING, J.,* Transportation and Traffic Code, and subsequently ruling that the speed
YNARES-SANTIAGO, limit thereto is only 20 kilometers per hour, when no evidence whatsoever to
- versus - Chairperson, that effect was ever presented by the prosecution during the trial of this
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, case?
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ. d. Is the Honorable Court of Appeals justified in convicting the
petitioner for homicide through reckless imprudence (the legally correct
designation is reckless imprudence resulting to homicide) with violation of
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated: the Land Transportation and Traffic Code when the prosecution did not
Respondent. prove this during the trial and, more importantly, the information filed against
July 14, 2008 the petitioner does not contain an allegation to that effect?
x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
e. Does the uncontroverted testimony of the defense witness
Leonardo Hernal that the victim unexpectedly crossed the road resulting in
him getting hit by the bus driven by the petitioner not enough evidence to
acquit him of the crime charged?[9]
DECISION

NACHURA, J.: Applied uniformly is the familiar rule that the jurisdiction of the court to hear and decide
a case is conferred by the law in force at the time of the institution of the action, unless such
When is a litigant estopped by laches from assailing the jurisdiction of a tribunal? This statute provides for a retroactive application thereof.[10] In this case, at the time the criminal
is the paramount issue raised in this petition for review of the February 28, 2001 Decision[2] of information for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide with violation of the Automobile Law
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 22697. (now Land Transportation and Traffic Code) was filed, Section 32(2) of Batas
Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129[11] had already been amended by Republic Act No. 7691.[12] The said
Pertinent are the following antecedent facts and proceedings: provision thus reads:

On July 8, 1994, an information[3] for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide was filed against Sec. 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial
the petitioner before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan, Branch 18.[4] The case was Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Criminal Cases.Except in cases
docketed as Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94.[5] Trial on the merits ensued and on August 19, falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts and
1998, the trial court convicted the petitioner as charged.[6] In his appeal before the CA, the the Sandiganbayan, the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts,
petitioner questioned, among others, for the first time, the trial courts jurisdiction. [7] and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:

The appellate court, however, in the challenged decision, considered the petitioner to xxxx
have actively participated in the trial and to have belatedly attacked the jurisdiction of the RTC;
thus, he was already estopped by laches from asserting the trial courts lack of (2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with
jurisdiction. Finding no other ground to reverse the trial courts decision, the CA affirmed the imprisonment not exceeding six (6) years irrespective of the amount of fine,
petitioners conviction but modified the penalty imposed and the damages awarded. [8] and regardless of other imposable accessory or other penalties, including
Dissatisfied, the petitioner filed the instant petition for review on certiorari raising the the civil liability arising from such offenses or predicated thereon,
following issues for our resolution: irrespective of kind, nature, value or amount thereof: Provided,
however, That in offenses involving damage to property through criminal
a. Does the fact that the petitioner failed to raise the issue of negligence, they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction thereof.
jurisdiction during the trial of this case, which was initiated and filed by the
public prosecutor before the wrong court, constitute laches in relation to the
doctrine laid down in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, notwithstanding the fact that As the imposable penalty for the crime charged herein is prision correccional in its
said issue was immediately raised in petitioners appeal to the Honorable medium and maximum periods or imprisonment for 2 years, 4 months and 1 day to 6
[13]
Court of Appeals? Conversely, does the active participation of the petitioner years, jurisdiction to hear and try the same is conferred on the Municipal Trial Courts
in the trial of his case, which is initiated and filed not by him but by the public (MTCs). Clearly, therefore, the RTC of Bulacan does not have jurisdiction over Criminal Case
prosecutor, amount to estoppel? No. 2235-M-94.
While both the appellate court and the Solicitor General acknowledge this fact, they information. x x x (22 C.J.S., sec. 252, pp. 388-389;
nevertheless are of the position that the principle of estoppel by laches has already precluded italics ours.)
the petitioner from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTCthe trial went on for 4 years with the
petitioner actively participating therein and without him ever raising the jurisdictional Where accused procured a prior conviction to
infirmity. The petitioner, for his part, counters that the lack of jurisdiction of a court over the be set aside on the ground that the court
subject matter may be raised at any time even for the first time on appeal. As undue delay is was without jurisdiction, he is estopped subsequently to
further absent herein, the principle of laches will not be applicable. assert, in support of a defense of previous jeopardy,
that such court had jurisdiction. (22 C.J.S. p. 378.)[18]
To settle once and for all this problem of jurisdiction vis--vis estoppel by laches, which
continuously confounds the bench and the bar, we shall analyze the various Court decisions on
the matter. But in Pindagan Agricultural Co., Inc. v. Dans,[19] the Court, in not sustaining the plea of lack of
jurisdiction by the plaintiff-appellee therein, made the following observations:
As early as 1901, this Court has declared that unless jurisdiction has been conferred by some
legislative act, no court or tribunal can act on a matter submitted to it.[14] We went on to state It is surprising why it is only now, after the decision has been
in U.S. v. De La Santa[15] that: rendered, that the plaintiff-appellee presents the question of this Courts
jurisdiction over the case. Republic Act No. 2613 was enacted on August 1,
It has been frequently held that a lack of jurisdiction over the subject-matter 1959. This case was argued on January 29, 1960. Notwithstanding this
is fatal, and subject to objection at any stage of the proceedings, either in fact, the jurisdiction of this Court was never impugned until the adverse
the court below or on appeal (Ency. of Pl. & Pr., vol. 12, p. 189, and large decision of this Court was handed down. The conduct of counsel leads us
array of cases there cited), and indeed, where the subject-matter is not to believe that they must have always been of the belief that
within the jurisdiction, the court may dismiss the proceeding ex mero notwithstanding said enactment of Republic Act 2613 this Court has
motu. (4 Ill., 133; 190 Ind., 79; Chipman vs. Waterbury, 59 Conn., 496.) jurisdiction of the case, such conduct being born out of a conviction that the
actual real value of the properties in question actually exceeds the
Jurisdiction over the subject-matter in a judicial proceeding is jurisdictional amount of this Court (over P200,000). Our minute resolution
conferred by the sovereign authority which organizes the court; it is given in G.R. No. L-10096, Hyson Tan, et al. vs. Filipinas Compaa de Seguros, et
only by law and in the manner prescribed by law and an objection based on al., of March 23, 1956, a parallel case, is applicable to the conduct of
the lack of such jurisdiction can not be waived by the parties. x x x[16] plaintiff-appellee in this case, thus:

x x x that an appellant who files his brief and submits


Later, in People v. Casiano,[17] the Court explained: his case to the Court of Appeals for decision, without
questioning the latters jurisdiction until decision is
4. The operation of the principle of estoppel on the question rendered therein, should be considered as having
of jurisdiction seemingly depends upon whether the lower court voluntarily waived so much of his claim as would
actually had jurisdiction or not. If it had no jurisdiction, but the case exceed the jurisdiction of said Appellate Court; for the
was tried and decided upon the theory that it had jurisdiction, the reason that a contrary rule would encourage the
parties are not barred, on appeal, from assailing such jurisdiction, for undesirable practice of appellants submitting their
the same must exist as a matter of law, and may not be conferred by cases for decision to the Court of Appeals in
consent of the parties or by estoppel (5 C.J.S., 861-863). However, if expectation of favorable judgment, but with intent of
the lower court had jurisdiction, and the case was heard and decided upon attacking its jurisdiction should the decision be
a given theory, such, for instance, as that the court had no jurisdiction, the unfavorable: x x x[20]
party who induced it to adopt such theory will not be permitted, on appeal,
to assume an inconsistent positionthat the lower court had jurisdiction.
Here, the principle of estoppel applies. The rule that jurisdiction is Then came our ruling in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy[21] that a party may be barred by laches from
conferred by law, and does not depend upon the will of the parties, invoking lack of jurisdiction at a late hour for the purpose of annulling everything done in the
has no bearing thereon. Thus, Corpus Juris Secundum says: case with the active participation of said party invoking the plea. We expounded, thus:

Where accused has secured a decision that A party may be estopped or barred from raising a question in different ways
the indictment is void, or has been granted an and for different reasons. Thus, we speak of estoppel in pais, of estoppel
instruction based on its defective character directing the by deed or by record, and of estoppel by laches.
jury to acquit, he is estopped, when subsequently Laches, in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an
indicted, to assert that the former indictment was unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by
valid. In such case, there may be a new prosecution exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is
whether the indictment in the former prosecution was negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time,
good or bad. Similarly, where, after the jury was warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has
impaneled and sworn, the court on accused's motion abandoned it or declined to assert it.
quashed the information on the erroneous assumption The doctrine of laches or of stale demands is based upon
that the court had no jurisdiction, accused cannot grounds of public policy which requires, for the peace of society, the
successfully plead former jeopardy to a new discouragement of stale claims and, unlike the statute of limitations, is not
a mere question of time but is principally a question of the inequity or stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of Sibonghanoy. It is
unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be enforced or asserted. to be regretted, however, that the holding in said case had been applied to
situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. The exceptional
It has been held that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure from
secure affirmative relief against his opponent and, after obtaining or failing the accepted concept of non-waivability of objection to jurisdiction has been
to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction (Dean vs. ignored and, instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that
Dean, 136 Or. 694, 86 A.L.R. 79). In the case just cited, by way of rendered the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but
explaining the rule, it was further said that the question whether the court rather the general rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored
had jurisdiction either of the subject matter of the action or of the parties principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.
was not important in such cases because the party is barred from such
conduct not because the judgment or order of the court is valid and In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction of the court
conclusive as an adjudication, but for the reason that such a practice that rendered the questioned ruling was held to be barred by estoppel by
cannot be toleratedobviously for reasons of public policy. laches. It was ruled that the lack of jurisdiction having been raised for the
first time in a motion to dismiss filed almost fifteen (15) years after the
Furthermore, it has also been held that after voluntarily submitting a cause questioned ruling had been rendered, such a plea may no longer be raised
and encountering an adverse decision on the merits, it is too late for the for being barred by laches. As defined in said case, laches is failure or
loser to question the jurisdiction or power of the court (Pease vs. Rathbun- neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that
Jones etc., 243 U.S. 273, 61 L. Ed. 715, 37 S.Ct. 283; St. Louis etc. vs. which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier;
McBride, 141 U.S. 127, 35 L. Ed. 659). And in Littleton vs. Burgess, it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time,
16 Wyo. 58, the Court said that it is not right for a party who has affirmed warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned it
and invoked the jurisdiction of a court in a particular matter to secure an or declined to assert it.[24]
affirmative relief, to afterwards deny that same jurisdiction to escape a
penalty. In Calimlim, despite the fact that the one who benefited from the plea of lack of jurisdiction was
the one who invoked the courts jurisdiction, and who later obtained an adverse judgment therein,
Upon this same principle is what We said in the three cases mentioned in we refused to apply the ruling in Sibonghanoy. The Court accorded supremacy to the time-
the resolution of the Court of Appeals of May 20, 1963 (supra)to the effect honored principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.
that we frown upon the undesirable practice of a party submitting his case
for decision and then accepting the judgment, only if favorable, and Yet, in subsequent cases decided after Calimlim, which by sheer volume are too plentiful to
attacking it for lack of jurisdiction, when adverseas well as in Pindagan etc. mention, the Sibonghanoy doctrine, as foretold in Calimlim, became the rule rather than the
vs. Dans et al., G.R. L-14591, September 26, 1962; Montelibano et al. vs. exception. As such, in Soliven v. Fastforms Philippines, Inc.,[25] the Court ruled:
Bacolod-Murcia Milling Co., Inc., G.R. L-15092; Young Men Labor Union
etc. vs. The Court of Industrial Relations et al., G.R. L-20307, Feb. 26, While it is true that jurisdiction may be raised at any time, this rule
1965, and Mejia vs. Lucas, 100 Phil. p. 277. presupposes that estoppel has not supervened. In the instant case,
respondent actively participated in all stages of the proceedings before the
The facts of this case show that from the time the Surety became a quasi-party on July 31, 1948, trial court and invoked its authority by asking for an affirmative
it could have raised the question of the lack of jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Cebu relief. Clearly, respondent is estopped from challenging the trial courts
to take cognizance of the present action by reason of the sum of money involved which, jurisdiction, especially when an adverse judgment has been
according to the law then in force, was within the original exclusive jurisdiction of inferior rendered. In PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation vs. Court of
courts. It failed to do so. Instead, at several stages of the proceedings in the court a quo, as well Appeals, we held:
as in the Court of Appeals, it invoked the jurisdiction of said courts to obtain affirmative relief and
submitted its case for a final adjudication on the merits. It was only after an adverse decision Moreover, we note that petitioner did not question at all
was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally woke up to raise the question of jurisdiction. the jurisdiction of the lower court x x x in its answers to
Were we to sanction such conduct on its part, We would in effect be declaring as useless all the both the amended complaint and the second amended
proceedings had in the present case since it was commenced on July 19, 1948 and compel the complaint. It did so only in its motion for reconsideration
judgment creditors to go up their Calvary once more. The inequity and unfairness of this is not of the decision of the lower court after it had received
only patent but revolting.[22] an adverse decision. As this Court held in Pantranco
North Express, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No.
For quite a time since we made this pronouncement in Sibonghanoy, courts and tribunals, in 105180, July 5, 1993, 224 SCRA 477,
resolving issues that involve the belated invocation of lack of jurisdiction, have applied the 491), participation in all stages of the case before the
principle of estoppel by laches. Thus, in Calimlim v. Ramirez,[23] we pointed out trial court, that included invoking its authority in asking
that Sibonghanoy was developing into a general rule rather than the exception: for affirmative relief, effectively barred petitioner by
estoppel from challenging the courts jurisdiction.
A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and Notably, from the time it filed its answer to the second
upheld in decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a court amended complaint on April 16, 1985, petitioner did not
over the subject-matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be question the lower courts jurisdiction. It was only
conferred by consent or agreement of the parties. The lack of jurisdiction of on December 29, 1989 when it filed its motion for
a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. reconsideration of the lower courts decision that
This doctrine has been qualified by recent pronouncements which petitioner raised the question of the lower courts lack of
jurisdiction. Petitioner thus foreclosed its right to raise Petitioner argues that the CAs affirmation of the trial courts dismissal of its
the issue of jurisdiction by its own inaction. (italics ours) case was erroneous, considering that a full-blown trial had already been
conducted. In effect, it contends that lack of jurisdiction could no longer be
Similarly, in the subsequent case of Sta. Lucia Realty and Development, used as a ground for dismissal after trial had ensued and ended.
Inc. vs. Cabrigas, we ruled: The above argument is anchored on estoppel by laches, which
has been used quite successfully in a number of cases to thwart dismissals
In the case at bar, it was found by the trial based on lack of jurisdiction. Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, in which this doctrine
court in its 30 September 1996 decision in LCR Case was espoused, held that a party may be barred from questioning a courts
No. Q-60161(93) that private respondents (who filed the jurisdiction after being invoked to secure affirmative relief against its
petition for reconstitution of titles) failed to comply with opponent. In fine, laches prevents the issue of lack of jurisdiction from
both sections 12 and 13 of RA 26 and therefore, it had being raised for the first time on appeal by a litigant whose purpose is to
no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the annul everything done in a trial in which it has actively participated.
case.However, private respondents never questioned
the trial courts jurisdiction over its petition for Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and
reconstitution throughout the duration of LCR Case No. unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence,
Q-60161(93). On the contrary, private respondents could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to
actively participated in the reconstitution proceedings assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the
by filing pleadings and presenting its evidence. They party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.
invoked the trial courts jurisdiction in order to obtain
affirmative relief the reconstitution of their titles. Private The ruling in Sibonghanoy on the matter of jurisdiction is, however, the
respondents have thus foreclosed their right to raise the exception rather than the rule. Estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar
issue of jurisdiction by their own actions. the issue of lack of jurisdiction only in cases in which the factual milieu is
analogous to that in the cited case. In such controversies, laches should
The Court has constantly upheld the doctrine be clearly present; that is, lack of jurisdiction must have been raised so
that while jurisdiction may be assailed at any stage, a belatedly as to warrant the presumption that the party entitled to assert it
litigants participation in all stages of the case before the had abandoned or declined to assert it. That Sibonghanoy applies only to
trial court, including the invocation of its authority in exceptional circumstances is clarified in Calimlim v. Ramirez, which we
asking for affirmative relief, bars such party from quote:
challenging the courts jurisdiction (PNOC Shipping and
Transport Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 297 SCRA A rule that had been settled by unquestioned
402 [1998]). A party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a acceptance and upheld in decisions so numerous to
court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject-
and after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be
repudiate or question that same jurisdiction (Asset conferred by consent or agreement of the parties. The
Privatization Trust vs. Court of Appeals, 300 SCRA 579 lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage
[1998]; Province of Bulacan vs. Court of Appeals, 299 of the proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has
SCRA 442 [1998]). The Court frowns upon the been qualified by recent pronouncements which
undesirable practice of a party participating in the stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case
proceedings and submitting his case for decision and of Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however, that the
then accepting judgment, only if favorable, and holding in said case had been applied to situations
attacking it for lack of jurisdiction, when which were obviously not contemplated therein. The
adverse (Producers Bank of the Philippines vs. NLRC, exceptional circumstance involved
298 SCRA 517 [1998], citing Ilocos Sur Electric in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure from the
Cooperative, Inc. vs. NLRC, 241 SCRA 36 [1995]). accepted concept of non-waivability of objection to
(italics ours)[26] jurisdiction has been ignored and, instead a blanket
doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered the
supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception,
but rather the general rule, virtually overthrowing
Noteworthy, however, is that, in the 2005 case of Metromedia Times Corporation v. altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of
Pastorin,[27] where the issue of lack of jurisdiction was raised only in the National Labor Relations jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.
Commission (NLRC) on appeal, we stated, after examining the doctrines of jurisdiction vis--
vis estoppel, that the ruling in Sibonghanoystands as an exception, rather than the general Indeed, the general rule remains: a courts lack of jurisdiction may be raised
rule. Metromedia, thus, was not estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the labor arbiter at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. The reason is that
before the NLRC on appeal.[28] jurisdiction is conferred by law, and lack of it affects the very authority of
the court to take cognizance of and to render judgment on the action.
Later, in Francel Realty Corporation v. Sycip,[29] the Court clarified that: Moreover, jurisdiction is determined by the averments of the complaint, not
by the defenses contained in the answer.[30]
Also, in Mangaliag v. Catubig-Pastoral,[31] even if the pleader of lack of jurisdiction actively took The Court, thus, wavered on when to apply the exceptional circumstance
part in the trial proceedings by presenting a witness to seek exoneration, the Court, reiterating in Sibonghanoy and on when to apply the general rule enunciated as early as in De La
the doctrine in Calimlim, said: Santa and expounded at length in Calimlim. The general rule should, however, be, as it has
always been, that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even
Private respondent argues that the defense of lack of jurisdiction may be on appeal, and is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. Estoppel by laches, to bar a litigant from
waived by estoppel through active participation in the trial. Such, however, asserting the courts absence or lack of jurisdiction, only supervenes in exceptional cases similar
is not the general rule but an exception, best characterized by the peculiar to the factual milieu of Tijam v. Sibonghanoy. Indeed, the fact that a person attempts to invoke
circumstances in Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy. In Sibonghanoy, the party unauthorized jurisdiction of a court does not estop him from thereafter challenging its jurisdiction
invoking lack of jurisdiction did so only after fifteen years and at a stage over the subject matter, since such jurisdiction must arise by law and not by mere consent of the
when the proceedings had already been elevated to the parties. This is especially true where the person seeking to invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of
CA. Sibonghanoy is an exceptional case because of the presence of the court does not thereby secure any advantage or the adverse party does not suffer any
laches, which was defined therein as failure or neglect for an unreasonable harm.[35]
and unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due
diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is the negligence or Applying the said doctrine to the instant case, the petitioner is in no way estopped by laches in
omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC, considering that he raised the lack thereof in his appeal
presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned it or declined before the appellate court. At that time, no considerable period had yet elapsed for laches to
to assert it.[32] attach. True, delay alone, though unreasonable, will not sustain the defense of estoppel by
laches unless it further appears that the party, knowing his rights, has not sought to enforce
And in the more recent Regalado v. Go,[33] the Court again emphasized them until the condition of the party pleading laches has in good faith become so changed that
that laches should be clearly present for the Sibonghanoy doctrine to be applicable, thus: he cannot be restored to his former state, if the rights be then enforced, due to loss of evidence,
change of title, intervention of equities, and other causes.[36] In applying the principle of estoppel
Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable by laches in the exceptional case of Sibonghanoy, the Court therein considered the patent and
and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due revolting inequity and unfairness of having the judgment creditors go up their Calvary once more
diligence, could or should have been done earlier, it is negligence or after more or less 15 years.[37] The same, however, does not obtain in the instant case.
omission to assert a right within a reasonable length of time, warranting a
presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or We note at this point that estoppel, being in the nature of a forfeiture, is not favored by law. It is
declined to assert it. to be applied rarelyonly from necessity, and only in extraordinary circumstances. The doctrine
The ruling in People v. Regalario that was based on the landmark must be applied with great care and the equity must be strong in its favor.[38] When misapplied,
doctrine enunciated in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy on the matter of jurisdiction the doctrine of estoppel may be a most effective weapon for the accomplishment of
by estoppel is the exception rather than the rule. Estoppel by laches may be injustice.[39] Moreover, a judgment rendered without jurisdiction over the subject matter is
invoked to bar the issue of lack of jurisdiction only in cases in which the void.[40] Hence, the Revised Rules of Court provides for remedies in attacking judgments
factual milieu is analogous to that in the cited case. In such rendered by courts or tribunals that have no jurisdiction over the concerned cases. No laches will
controversies, laches should have been clearly present; that is, lack of even attach when the judgment is null and void for want of jurisdiction.[41] As we have stated
jurisdiction must have been raised so belatedly as to warrant the in Heirs of Julian Dela Cruz and Leonora Talaro v. Heirs of Alberto Cruz,[42]
presumption that the party entitled to assert it had abandoned or declined to
assert it. It is axiomatic that the jurisdiction of a tribunal, including a quasi-
judicial officer or government agency, over the nature and subject matter of
In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction was raised for a petition or complaint is determined by the material allegations therein and
the first time in a motion to dismiss filed by the Surety almost 15 years after the character of the relief prayed for, irrespective of whether the petitioner or
the questioned ruling had been rendered. At several stages of the complainant is entitled to any or all such reliefs. Jurisdiction over the nature
proceedings, in the court a quo as well as in the Court of Appeals, the and subject matter of an action is conferred by the Constitution and the law,
Surety invoked the jurisdiction of the said courts to obtain affirmative relief and not by the consent or waiver of the parties where the court otherwise
and submitted its case for final adjudication on the merits. It was only when would have no jurisdiction over the nature or subject matter of the
the adverse decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally action. Nor can it be acquired through, or waived by, any act or omission of
woke up to raise the question of jurisdiction. the parties. Moreover, estoppel does not apply to confer jurisdiction to a
tribunal that has none over the cause of action. x x x
Clearly, the factual settings attendant in Sibonghanoy are not
present in the case at bar. Petitioner Atty. Regalado, after the receipt of the Indeed, the jurisdiction of the court or tribunal is not affected by
Court of Appeals resolution finding her guilty of contempt, promptly filed a the defenses or theories set up by the defendant or respondent in his
Motion for Reconsideration assailing the said courts jurisdiction based on answer or motion to dismiss. Jurisdiction should be determined by
procedural infirmity in initiating the action. Her compliance with the appellate considering not only the status or the relationship of the parties but also the
courts directive to show cause why she should not be cited for contempt nature of the issues or questions that is the subject of the controversy. x x x
and filing a single piece of pleading to that effect could not be considered as x The proceedings before a court or tribunal without jurisdiction, including its
an active participation in the judicial proceedings so as to take the case decision, are null and void, hence, susceptible to direct and collateral
within the milieu of Sibonghanoy. Rather, it is the natural fear to disobey the attacks.[43]
mandate of the court that could lead to dire consequences that impelled her
to comply.[34]
With the above considerations, we find it unnecessary to resolve the other issues raised in the
petition.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review


on certiorari is GRANTED. Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94 is hereby DISMISSED without
prejudice.

SO ORDERED.

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