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53 True False On September 15, 1993, herein private respondent Angelina Mejia Lopez

314809 (plaintiff below) filed a petition for APPOINTMENT AS SOLE

578 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED ADMINISTRATRIX OF CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP OF PROPERTIES,


Relucio vs. Lopez FORFEITURE, ETC., against defendant Alberto Lopez and petitioner Imelda

G.R. No. 138497. January 16, 2002.* Relucio, docketed as Spec. Proc. M-3630, in the Regional Trial Court of
Makati, Branch 141. In the petition, private-respondent alleged that
IMELDA RELUCIO, petitioner, vs. ANGELINA MEJIA LOPEZ, respondent. sometime in 1968, defendant Lopez, who is legally married to the private
respondent, abandoned the latter and their four legitimate children; that
Remedial Law; Actions; A cause of action is an act or omission of he arrogated unto himself full and exclusive control and administration of
one party the defendant in violation of the legal right of the other; the conjugal properties, spending and using the same for his sole gain and
Elements of.A cause of action is an act or omission of one party the benefit to the total exclusion of the private respondent and their four
defendant in violation of the legal right of the other. The elements of a children; that defendant Lopez, after abandoning his family, maintained an
cause of action are: (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means illicit relationship and cohabited with herein petitioner since 1976.
and under whatever law it arises or is created; (2) an obligation on the It was further alleged that defendant Lopez and petitioner Relucio,
part of the named defendant to respect or not to violate such right; and during their period of cohabitation since 1976, have amassed a fortune
(3) an act or omission on the part of such defendant in violation of the consisting mainly of stockholdings in Lopez-owned or controlled
right of the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the corporations, residential, agricultural, commercial lots, houses,
defendant to the plaintiff for which the latter may maintain an action for apartments and buildings, cars and other motor vehicles, bank accounts
recovery of damages. and jewelry. These properties, which are in the names of defendant Lopez
Same; Same; To sustain a motion to dismiss for lack of cause of and petitioner Relucio singly or jointly or their dummies and proxies, have
action, the complaint must show that the claim for relief does not exist, been acquired principally if not solely through the actual contribution of
rather than that a claim has been merely defectively stated or is money, property
ambiguous, indefinite or uncertain.A cause of action is sufficient if a
_______________
valid judgment may be rendered thereon if the alleged facts were
admitted or proved. In order to sustain a motion to dismiss for lack of
1 Under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court.
cause of action, the complaint must show that the claim for relief does not
2 In CA-G.R. SP No. 34398, promulgated on May 31, 1996, Petition,
exist, rather than that a claim has been merely defectively stated or is
Annex A, Rollo, pp. 28-39. Ibay-Somera, J., ponente, Lipana Reyes+ and
ambiguous, indefinite or uncertain.
Agcaoili, JJ., concurring.

PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals.


580

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. 580 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Roco, Buag, Kapunan & Migallos for petitioner. Relucio vs. Lopez

Abello, Concepcion, Regala & Cruz for private respondent. and industry of defendant Lopez with minimal, if not nil, actual
_______________ contribution from petitioner Relucio.
In order to avoid defendant Lopez obligations as a father and
*
FIRST DIVISION. husband, he excluded the private respondent and their four children from
sharing or benefiting from the conjugal properties and the income or fruits
579
there from. As such, defendant Lopez either did not place them in his
VOL. 373, JANUARY 16, 2002 579 name or otherwise removed, transferred, stashed away or concealed
Relucio vs. Lopez them from the private-respondent. He placed substantial portions of these
conjugal properties in the name of petitioner Relucio.
PARDO, J.:
It was also averred that in the past twenty-five years since defendant
Lopez abandoned the private-respondent, he has sold, disposed of,
The Case
alienated, transferred, assigned, canceled, removed or stashed away
The case is a petition for review on certiorari1 seeking to set aside the
properties, assets and income belonging to the conjugal partnership with
decision2 of the Court of Appeals that denied a petition for certiorari
the private-respondent and either spent the proceeds thereof for his sole
assailing the trial courts order denying petitioners motion to dismiss the
benefit and that of petitioner Relucio and their two illegitimate children or
case against her inclusion as party defendant therein.
permanently and fraudulently placed them beyond the reach of the
The Facts
private-respondent and their four children.
The facts, as found by the Court of Appeals, are as follows:
On December 8, 1993, a Motion, to Dismiss the Petition was filed by 2. (2) an obligation on the part of the named
herein petitioner on the ground that private respondent has no cause of defendant to respect or not to violate such right;
action against her. and
An Order dated February 10, 1994 was issued by herein respondent 3. (3) an act or omission on the part of such defendant
Judge denying petitioner Relucios Motion to Dismiss on the ground that in violation of the right of the plaintiff or
she is impleaded as a necessary or indispensable party because some of constituting a breach
the subject properties are registered in her name and defendant Lopez, or
solely in her name. _______________
Subsequently thereafter, petitioner Relucio filed a Motion for
6 CA Rollo, pp. 114-119.
Reconsideration to the Order of the respondent Judge dated February 10,
7 Petition, Annex B. Rollo, p. 40.
1994 but the same was likewise denied in the Order dated May 31, 1994.3
8 Filed on June 18, 1999, posted by Registered Mail. Rollo, pp. 10-27.
On June 21, 1994, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for On September 15, 1999, the Court gave due course to the petition (Rollo,
certiorari assailing the trial courts denial of her motion to dismiss.4 pp. 86-87).
On May 31, 1996, the Court of Appeals promulgated a decision 9 Memorandum, Rollo, pp. 113-137, at p. 120.
denying the petition.5 On June 26, 1996, petitioner filed a motion 10 Far East Bank and Trust Company v. Court of Appeals, 341 SCRA
_______________ 486, 490 (2000); Centeno v. Centeno, 343 SCRA 153, 160 (2000).

3 Rollo, pp. 28-39, at pp. 28-31. 582


4 Docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 34398. Petition, Annex A, CA Rollo, pp.
582 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
18-19. Relucio vs. Lopez
5 Petition, Annex A, Rollo, pp. 28-39.

1. of the obligation of the defendant to the plaintiff for


581
which the latter may maintain an action for recovery
VOL. 373, JANUARY 16, 2002 581 of damages.11
Relucio vs. Lopez

for reconsideration.6 However, on April 6, 1999, the Court of Appeals A cause of action is sufficient if a valid judgment may be rendered thereon
denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.7 if the alleged facts were admitted or proved.12
Hence, this appeal.8 In order to sustain a motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action, the
The Issues complaint must show that the claim for relief does not exist, rather than
that a claim has been merely defectively stated or is ambiguous, indefinite
1. 1. Whether respondents petition for appointment or uncertain.13
as sole administratrix of the conjugal property, Hence, to determine the sufficiency of the cause of action alleged in
accounting, etc. against her husband Alberto J. Special Proceedings M-3630, we assay its allegations.
Lopez established a cause of action against In Part Two on the Nature of [the] Complaint, respondent Angelina
petitioner. Mejia Lopez summarized the causes of action alleged in the complaint
2. 2. Whether petitioners inclusion as party defendant below.
is essential in the proceedings for a complete The complaint is by an aggrieved wife against her husband.
adjudication of the controversy.9 Nowhere in the allegations does it appear that relief is sought against
petitioner. Respondents causes of action were all against her husband.
The Courts Ruling
The first cause of action is for judicial appointment of respondent as
We grant the petition. We resolve the issues in seriatim.
administratrix of the conjugal partnership or absolute community property
First issue: whether a cause of action exists against petitioner in the
arising from her marriage to Alberto J. Lopez. Petitioner is a complete
proceedings below. A cause of action is an act or omission of one party
stranger to this cause of action. Article 128 of the Family Code refers only
the defendant in violation of the legal right of the other.10 The elements
to spouses, to wit:
of a cause of action are:
If a spouse without just cause abandons the other or fails to comply with
his or her obligations to the family, the aggrieved spouse may petition the
1. (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever
court for receivership, for judicial separation of property, or for authority
means and under whatever law it arises or is
to be the sole administrator of the conjugal partnership property
created;
x x x
The administration of the property of the marriage is entirely between 584
them, to the exclusion of all other persons. Respondent alleges that
584 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Alberto J. Lopez is her husband. Therefore, her first cause of action is Relucio vs. Lopez
against Alberto J. Lopez. There is no right-duty
forth facts and circumstances that prove the causes of action alleged
_______________
against Alberto J. Lopez.

11
Finally, as to the moral damages, respondents claim for moral
Centeno v. Centeno, supra, Note 10.
12
damages is against Alberto J. Lopez, not petitioner.
Racoma v. Fortich, 148-A Phil. 454, 460; 39 SCRA 520 (1971), citing
To sustain a cause of action for moral damages, the complaint must
Amedo v. Rio, 92 Phil. 214 (1952).
13
have the character of an action for interference with marital or family
Dulay v. Court of Appeals, 243 SCRA 220 (1995).
relations under the Civil Code.

583 A real party in interest is one who stands to be benefited or injured


by the judgment of the suit.18 In this case, petitioner would not be
VOL. 373, JANUARY 16, 2002 583
affected by any judgment in Special Proceedings M-3630.
Relucio vs. Lopez
If petitioner is not a real party-in-interest, she cannot be an
relation between petitioner and respondent that can possibly support a
indispensable party. An indispensable party is one without whom there
cause of action. In fact, none of the three elements of a cause of action
can be no final determination of an action.19 Petitioners participation in
exists.
Special Proceedings M-3630 is not indispensable. Certainly, the trial court
The second cause of action is for an accounting by respondent
can issue a judgment ordering Alberto J. Lopez to make an accounting of
husband.14 The accounting of conjugal partnership arises from or is an
his conjugal partnership with respondent, and give support to respondent
incident of marriage.
and their children, and dissolve Alberto J. Lopez conjugal partnership with
Petitioner has nothing to do with the marriage between respondent
respondent, and forfeit Alberto J. Lopez share in property co-owned by
Alberto J. Lopez. Hence, no cause of action can exist against petitioner on
him and petitioner. Such judgment would be perfectly valid and
this ground.
enforceable against Alberto J. Lopez.
Respondents alternative cause of action is for forfeiture of Alberto J.
Nor can petitioner be a necessary party in Special Proceedings M-
Lopez share in the co-owned property acquired during his illicit
3630. A necessary party as one who is not indispensable but who ought to
relationship and cohabitation with [petitioner]15 and for the dissolution
be joined as party if complete relief is to be accorded those already
of the conjugal partnership of gains between him [Alberto J. Lopez] and
parties, or for a complete determination or settlement of the claim subject
the [respondent].
of the action.20 In the context of her petition in the lower court,
The third cause of action is essentially for forfeiture of Alberto J.
respondent would be accorded complete relief if Alberto J. Lopez were
Lopez share in property co-owned by him and petitioner. It does not
ordered to account for his alleged conjugal partnership property with
involve the issue of validity of the co-ownership between Alberto J. Lopez
respondent, give support to respondent and her children, turn over his
and petitioner. The issue is whether there is basis in law to forfeit Alberto
share in the co-ownership with petitioner and dissolve his conjugal
J. Lopez share, if any there be, in property co-owned by him with
partnership or absolute community property with respondent.
petitioner.
_______________
Respondents asserted right to forfeit extends to Alberto J. Lopez
share alone. Failure of Alberto J. Lopez to surrender such share, assuming 18
Rule 3, Section 2, Revised Rules of Court. Salonga v. Warner Barnes
the trial court finds in respondents favor, results in a breach of an
& Co., Ltd., 88 Phil. 125 (1951); Republic v. Sandiganbayan, 203 SCRA 310
obligation to respondent and gives rise to a cause of action.16 Such cause
(1991).
of action, however, pertains to Alberto J. Lopez, not petitioner. 19 Rule 3, Section 7, Revised Rules of Court.
The respondent also sought support. Support cannot be compelled 20 Rule 3, Section 8, Revised Rules of Court.
from a stranger.
The action in Special Proceedings M-3630 is, to use respondent 585
Angelina M. Lopez own words, one by an aggrieved wife against her
VOL. 373, JANUARY 16, 2002 585
husband.17 References to petitioner in the common and specific People vs. Escordial
allegations of fact in the complaint are merely incidental, to set
The Judgment
_______________
WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition and REVERSES the decision of
the Court of Appeals.21 The Court DISMISSES Special Proceedings M-3630
14 Rollo, pp. 42-62, at p. 44.
of the Regional Trial Court, Makati, Branch 141 as against petitioner.
15 Ibid., p. 44.
No costs.
16 Kramer, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 170 SCRA 518 (1989).
SO ORDERED.
17 Rollo, p. 43.
Davide, Jr. (C.J., Chairman), Puno, Kapunan and Ynares-Santiago,
JJ., concur.

Petition granted, judgment reversed.


Note.A complaint is sufficient if it contains sufficient notice of the
cause of action even though the allegations may be vague or indefinite.
(Cometa vs. Court of Appeals, 301 SCRA 459 [1999])

o0o

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