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G.R. No.

101041 November 13, 1991

HON. JUDGE ADRIANO R. VILLAMOR, petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE BERNARDO LL. SALAS and GEORGE
CARLOS, respondents.

G.R. No. 101296 November 13, 1991

HON. JUDGE ADRIANO R. VILLAMOR, petitioner, vs. ANTONIO T. GUERRERO and HON. PEARY G. ALEONAR, Presiding
Judge of RTC, Branch 21, Region VII, Cebu City, respondents.

GRIO-AQUINO, J.:

In 1977, Civil Case No. B-398 (Gloria Naval vs. George Carlos) for recovery of ownership of a parcel of coconut land was filed
and subsequently raffled to the sala of the petitioner, Judge Adriano Villamor. While the civil case was pending there,
respondent Carlos filed Criminal Cases Nos. N-989, N-990, N-991, N-992 and N-993 for qualified theft against Gloria Naval and
her helpers. The criminal cases were also assigned to the sala of Judge Villamor.

Due to the pendency of Civil Case No. B-398, the criminal cases were temporarily archived.

After trial in Civil Case No. B-398, a decision was rendered in favor of Naval who was declared the lawful owner and possessor
of the disputed land. Carlos was ordered to vacate the land.

Thereafter, respondent Carlos, through counsel, moved to activate the archived criminal cases. Having declared Naval the
lawful owner and possessor of the contested land in Civil Case No. B-398, Judge Villamor dismissed the criminal cases against
her and her co-accused.

Judge Villamor likewise granted execution pending appeal of his decision in Civil Case No. B-398. This order was challenged by
Carlos in the Court of Appeals and in this Court, both without success.

Afterwards, Carlos filed an administrative case, A.M. No. RTJ-87-105, against Judge Villamor, charging him with having issued
illegal orders and an unjust decision in Civil Case No. B-398. On November 21, 1988, this Court, in an En Banc resolution,
summarily dismissed the administrative case.

Dissatisfied with the outcome of the administrative case, respondent Carlos filed a civil action for damages (Civil Case No. CEB-
6478) against Judge Villamor for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment when he dismissed the five (5) criminal cases
against Naval, et al.

The summons in Civil Case No. CEB-6478 was served upon Judge Villamor on December 10, 1987. The next day (December 11,
1987), instead of answering the complaint, Judge Villamor issued in Criminal Cases Nos. N-0989 to 0993 an order of direct
contempt against Carlos and his lawyer. Attorney Antonio T. Guerrero, "for degrading the respect and dignity of the court
through the use of derogatory and contemptous language before the court," and sentenced each of them to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment for five (5) days and to pay a fine of P500.

Carlos immediately filed in this Court a petition for certiorari with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction
against the Judge (G.R. Nos. 82238-42). We promptly restrained Judge Villamor from enforcing his Order of Contempt against
Carlos and Attorney Guerrero. On November 13, 1989, we annulled the contempt order. (See pp. 26-34, Rollo of G.R. No.
101041.)

Back to Civil Case No. CEB-6478; Judge Villamor filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The trial court
granted the motion. The order of dismissal was affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. CV No. 20657, June 26, 1990). Carlos
appealed to this Court which also denied the petition. (p. 125, Rollo of G.R. No. 101296.)

Unfazed by these setbacks, Carlos and his counsel, Attorney Antonio Guerrero, filed separate complaints for damages against
Judge Villamor for knowingly rendering an unjust order of contempt.

Attorney Guerrero's complaint for damages (Civil Case No. CEB-8802) was raffled to Branch 21, Regional Trial Court, Cebu City,
presided over by Judge Peary G. Aleonar. Carlos' complaint for damages was docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-8823 and raffled to
Branch 8, Regional Trial Court of Cebu City presided over by Judge Bernardo LL. Salas.
On March 30, 1990, Judge Villamor filed a motion to dismiss Civil Case No. CEB-8802 but it was denied by Judge Aleonar (p.
33, Rollo of G.R. No. 101296).

Hence, this petition for certiorari and prohibition with restraining order docketed as G.R. No. 101296.

On September 19, 1991, this Court issued a temporary restraining order against Judge Aleonar to stop him from proceeding in
Civil Case No. CEB-8802 (pp. 45-46, Rollo of G.R. No. 101296).

On May 20, 1991, a Manifestation was filed by Judge Villamor praying Judge Salas to dismiss Civil Case No. CEB-8823 but the
motion was denied by respondent Judge on July 2, 1991 (pp. 13-16, Rollo of G.R. No. 101041).

Hence, this second petition for certiorari and prohibition with restraining order (G.R. No. 101041).

On August 21, 1991, a Resolution was issued by this Court: 1) temporarily restraining Judge Salas from further proceeding in
Civil Case No. CEB-8823; and 2) granting the petitioner's prayer that this case be consolidated with G.R. No. 101296 (pp. 37-
39, Rollo of G.R. No. 101041).

The sole issue here is: whether or not Judges Aleonar and Salas may take cognizance of the actions for damages against Judge
Villamor for allegedly having rendered an unjust order of direct contempt against Carlos and Attorney Guerrero which this
Court subsequently annulled.

The answer is no.

As very aptly held by this Court in a Resolution it issued in connection with a previous case filed by respondent Carlos against
Judge Villamor, over a similar action for "Damages and Attorney's Fees Arising From Rendering an Unjust Judgment," in
dismissing the five (5) criminal cases for qualified theft which he (respondent Carlos) had filed against Gloria P. Naval and
others

Indeed, no Regional Trial Court can pass upon and scrutinize, and much less declare as unjust a judgment of another
Regional Trial Court and sentence the judge thereof liable for damages without running afoul with the principle that
only the higher appellate courts, namely, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, are vested with authority to
review and correct errors of the trial courts. (George D. Carlos vs. CA, G.R. No. 95560, November 5, 1990; p.
125, Rollo of G.R No. 101296.)

To allow respondent Judges Aleonar and Salas to proceed with the trial of the actions for damages against the petitioner, a co-
equal judge of a co-equal court, would in effect permit a court to review and interfere with the judgment of a co-equal court
over which it has no appellate jurisdiction or power of review. The various branches of a Court of First Instance (now the
Regional Trial Court) being co-equal, may not interfere with each other's cases, judgments and orders (Parco vs. Court of
Appeals, 111 SCRA 262).

This Court has already ruled that only after the Appellate Court, in a final judgment, has found that a trial judge's errors were
committed deliberately and in bad faith may a charge of knowingly rendering an unjust decision be levelled against the latter
(Garcia vs. Alconcel, 111 SCRA 178; Sta. Maria vs. Ubay, 87 SCRA 179; Gahol vs. Riodique, 64 SCRA 494).

Nowhere in this Court's decision annulling Judge Villamor's order of direct contempt (G.R. Nos. 82238-42, November 13, 1989)
can there be found a declaration that the erroneous order was rendered maliciously or with conscious and deliberate intent to
commit an injustice. In fact, a previous order of direct contempt issued by Judge Villamor against Carlos' former counsel was
sustained by this Court (Jaynes C. Abarrientos, et al. vs. Judge Villamor, G.R. No. 82237, June 1, 1988).

At most, the order of direct contempt which we nullified may only be considered an error of judgment for which Judge Villamor
may not be held criminally or civilly liable to the respondents.

A judge is not liable for an erroneous decision in the absence of malice or wrongful conduct in rendering it (Barroso vs. Arche,
67 SCRA 161).

WHEREFORE, the consolidated petitions for certiorari are GRANTED, Civil Cases Nos. CEB-8802 and CEB-8823, respectively,
pending in the salas of respondents Judge Peary G. Aleonar and Judge Bernardo LL. Salas, are hereby dismissed. The temporary
restraining orders issued by this Court in these cases are hereby made permanent. No costs.
G.R. No. L-17299 July 31, 1963

JOSEFINA POTESTAS CABRERA and CRESENCIA POTESTAS OMULON, plaintiffs-appellees,


vs.
MARIANO T. TIANO, defendant-appellant.

PAREDES, J.:

Ciriaco Potestas and Gregoria Blanco, were parents of five children, Isabelo, Lourdes, Clemente, Josefina, and Cresencia.
Gregoria died before the second world war, together with Clemente, single. During their lifetime, the spouses acquired
properties, among which was a parcel of agricultural land, of about seven (7) hectares, located at barrio Manga, municipality of
Tangub, Misamis Occidental, planted to coconuts and fruit-bearing trees. On July 2, 1947, Ciriaco, the surviving husband and
three (3) children (Isabelo, Lourdes and Cresencia), purportedly sold the above mentioned parcel to herein defendant Mariano
T. Tiano, for P3,500.00. At the time of the sale, Cresencia was a minor, and the other child, Josefina, did not sign the deed of sale,
and did not know about the transaction.

Under date of June 20, 1957, in action for "Partition and Recovery of Real Estate, with Damages" was filed by Josefina and
Cresencia against Tiano. In the complaint, it was alleged that they were entitled to a portion of the land, since Josefina did not
sign the sale and Crescencia was a minor; that defendant Tiano had usurped the portions belonging to them, to their damage
and prejudice in the amount of P7,000.00, which consisted of their share in the produce of the property, during the period of
defendant's possession.

In answer, defendant claimed that the plaintiffs herein knew of the sale and that he was not aware of any defect in the title of
his vendors. As a Special Defense, defendant alleged that he was the absolute owner of the land by acquisitive prescription of
ten (10) years, from the date of purchase. Before the trial, the parties agreed to a stipulation of facts, parts of which recite

xxx xxx xxx

3. That at the time of the sale, appearing in Doc. No. 54, Page 81, Book No. 7, S. 1947, in the book of Notary Public
Basilio Binaoro of Tangub, Mis. Occ., Cresencia was a minor being only 16 years old, while Josefina who was long
married and of legal age did not know about the sale and/or did not give her consent to the same;

4. That the plaintiffs commenced this case against the defendant on June 20, 1957 and the judicial summons was
issued by the Clerk of Court on June 21, 1957, but defendant received the same on July 2, 1957.

After the hearing, the court a quo rendered the following judgment

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the court hereby renders judgment declaring that the plaintiffs are entitled each
to 1/8 of the property in question and therefore Judgment is hereby ordered declaring them entitled to partition the
property in question in proportion of 1/8 each of them, plus damages for both of them in the amount of P1,000.00 and
attorney's fees in the amount of P200.00.

The trial court in the same decision, commissioned the Deputy Provincial Sheriff, to partition the property in question and
render a report within 30 days. Defendant moved for a reconsideration of the decision, contending that prescription had
already set in, and his (defendant's) title, had become irrevocable, and that the award of damages had no factual and legal
basis. The motion for reconsideration was denied on March 5, 1960. The Commissioner's report, partitioning the property was
submitted on April 11, 1960. Defendant perfected his appeal on May 9, 1960, and on May 14, 1960, the same was given due
course and elevated to this Court.

In claiming that prescription had taken place, appellant insists that the period should be counted from the date the summons
was served on him, which was on July 2, 1957. It was agreed, however, that the complaint for the recovery of the land in
question was presented on June 20, 1957, and the summons was sent out the following day. The Civil Code, provides that

The prescription of actions is interrupted when they are filed before the court, when there is a written extra-judicial
demand by the creditors, and when there is any written acknowledgment of the debt of the debtor. (Art. 1155)

Since the sale of the property took place on July 2, 1947, the ten (10) year period within which to file the action had not yet
elapsed on June 20, 1957, when the complaint was presented. While it is true that the sale in question had taken place before
the effectivity of the new Civil Code and the law then on matter of prescription was Act No. 190, said law, however, contained
no specific provision on the interruption of the prescriptive period; and the established rule then, as it is the rule now, is that
the commencement of the suit prior to the expiration of the applicable limitation period, interrupts the running of the statute,
as to all parties to the action (34 Am. Jur., Sec. 247, pp. 202-203; Peralta, et al. v. Alipio, G. R. No. L-8273, Oct. 24, 1955). The fact
that summons was only served on defendant on July 2, 1957, which incidentally and/or coincidentally was the end of the ten
(10) year period, is of no moment, since civil actions are deemed commenced from date of the filing and docketing of the
complaint with the Clerk of Court, without taking into account the issuance and service of summons (Sotelo v. Dizon, et al., 67
Phil. 573). The contention that the period was not interrupted, until after defendant received the summons is, therefore,
without legal basis.

Defendant-appellant claims that he had already acquired full ownership of the property in question because the judicial
summons, which could civilly interrupt his possession (Art. 1123, N.C.C.), was received by him only on July 2, 1957. Conceding,
for the purposes of argument, that the article cited is applicable, still appellant cannot avail himself of acquisitive prescription,
for the simple reason that no finding was made by the trial court that his possession from the time of the sale (July 2, 1947),
was with just title, in good faith, in the concept of an owner, public, peaceful, adverse and uninterrupted (Arts. 1117 & 1118,
N.C.C.). Good faith is a question of fact which must be proved (Art. 1127, N.C.C.). For the purposes of acquisitive prescription,
just title must also be proved, it is never presumed (Art. 1131, N.C.C.). The factual requisite of adverse possession do not
appear in the stipulation of facts and the trial court did not make findings to this effect. These circumstances could and/or
should have been ventilated, had the appeal been taken to the Court of Appeals. Defendant, however, having chosen to appeal
the decision directly to this Court, he is deemed to have waived questions of fact and raised only questions of law. There being
no factual finding by the lower court of the presence of the requisites of acquisitive prescription this Court has to reject, as did
the trial court, said defense. Moreover, on July 2, 1957, when the summons was received, the ten (10) years necessary for
acquisitive prescription had not yet elapsed. In fact, said period terminated on that very day.1wph1.t

As to the award of damages, We find Ourselves devoid of ample authority to review the same, since it involves appreciation of
facts. It cannot be denied, as found by the lower court, that plaintiffs herein are entitled to a share in the land. Verily, they
should also share in the produce, which, admittedly, was enjoyed by the defendant-appellant herein.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from should be, as it is hereby affirmed. Costs against appellant in both instances.

Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Barrera, Dizon, Regala and Makalintal, JJ., concur.
G.R. Nos. 79937-38 February 13, 1989

SUN INSURANCE OFFICE, LTD., (SIOL), E.B. PHILIPPS and D.J. WARBY, petitioners, vs. HON. MAXIMIANO C. ASUNCION,
Presiding Judge, Branch 104, Regional Trial Court, Quezon City and MANUEL CHUA UY PO TIONG, respondents.

GANCAYCO, J.:

Again the Court is asked to resolve the issue of whether or not a court acquires jurisdiction over a case when the correct and
proper docket fee has not been paid.

On February 28, 1984, petitioner Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL for brevity) filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court of
Makati, Metro Manila for the consignation of a premium refund on a fire insurance policy with a prayer for the judicial
declaration of its nullity against private respondent Manuel Uy Po Tiong. Private respondent as declared in default for failure to
file the required answer within the reglementary period.

On the other hand, on March 28, 1984, private respondent filed a complaint in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for the
refund of premiums and the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment which was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-41177,
initially against petitioner SIOL, and thereafter including E.B. Philipps and D.J. Warby as additional defendants. The complaint
sought, among others, the payment of actual, compensatory, moral, exemplary and liquidated damages, attorney's fees,
expenses of litigation and costs of the suit. Although the prayer in the complaint did not quantify the amount of damages
sought said amount may be inferred from the body of the complaint to be about Fifty Million Pesos (P50,000,000.00).

Only the amount of P210.00 was paid by private respondent as docket fee which prompted petitioners' counsel to raise his
objection. Said objection was disregarded by respondent Judge Jose P. Castro who was then presiding over said case. Upon the
order of this Court, the records of said case together with twenty-two other cases assigned to different branches of the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City which were under investigation for under-assessment of docket fees were transmitted to
this Court. The Court thereafter returned the said records to the trial court with the directive that they be re-raffled to the
other judges in Quezon City, to the exclusion of Judge Castro. Civil Case No. Q-41177 was re-raffled to Branch 104, a sala which
was then vacant.

On October 15, 1985, the Court en banc issued a Resolution in Administrative Case No. 85-10-8752-RTC directing the judges in
said cases to reassess the docket fees and that in case of deficiency, to order its payment. The Resolution also requires all clerks
of court to issue certificates of re-assessment of docket fees. All litigants were likewise required to specify in their pleadings
the amount sought to be recovered in their complaints.

On December 16, 1985, Judge Antonio P. Solano, to whose sala Civil Case No. Q-41177 was temporarily assigned, issuedan
order to the Clerk of Court instructing him to issue a certificate of assessment of the docket fee paid by private respondent and,
in case of deficiency, to include the same in said certificate.

On January 7, 1984, to forestall a default, a cautionary answer was filed by petitioners. On August 30,1984, an amended
complaint was filed by private respondent including the two additional defendants aforestated.

Judge Maximiano C. Asuncion, to whom Civil Case No. Q41177 was thereafter assigned, after his assumption into office on
January 16, 1986, issued a Supplemental Order requiring the parties in the case to comment on the Clerk of Court's letter-
report signifying her difficulty in complying with the Resolution of this Court of October 15, 1985 since the pleadings filed by
private respondent did not indicate the exact amount sought to be recovered. On January 23, 1986, private respondent filed a
"Compliance" and a "Re-Amended Complaint" stating therein a claim of "not less than Pl0,000,000. 00 as actual compensatory
damages" in the prayer. In the body of the said second amended complaint however, private respondent alleges actual and
compensatory damages and attorney's fees in the total amount of about P44,601,623.70.

On January 24, 1986, Judge Asuncion issued another Order admitting the second amended complaint and stating therein that
the same constituted proper compliance with the Resolution of this Court and that a copy thereof should be furnished the
Clerk of Court for the reassessment of the docket fees. The reassessment by the Clerk of Court based on private respondent's
claim of "not less than P10,000,000.00 as actual and compensatory damages" amounted to P39,786.00 as docket fee. This was
subsequently paid by private respondent.

Petitioners then filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals questioning the said order of Judie Asuncion dated
January 24, 1986.
On April 24, 1986, private respondent filed a supplemental complaint alleging an additional claim of P20,000,000.00 as
d.qmages so the total claim amounts to about P64,601,623.70. On October 16, 1986, or some seven months after filing the
supplemental complaint, the private respondent paid the additional docket fee of P80,396.00. 1

On August 13, 1987, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision ruling, among others, as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Denying due course to the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 1, 09715 insofar as it seeks annulment of the order

(a) denying petitioners' motion to dismiss the complaint, as amended, and

(b) granting the writ of preliminary attachment, but giving due course to the portion thereof questioning the
reassessment of the docketing fee, and requiring the Honorable respondent Court to reassess the docketing
fee to be paid by private respondent on the basis of the amount of P25,401,707.00. 2

Hence, the instant petition.

During the pendency of this petition and in conformity with the said judgment of respondent court, private respondent paid
the additional docket fee of P62,432.90 on April 28, 1988. 3

The main thrust of the petition is that the Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the lower court did not acquire jurisdiction
over Civil Case No. Q-41177 on the ground of nonpayment of the correct and proper docket fee. Petitioners allege that while it
may be true that private respondent had paid the amount of P182,824.90 as docket fee as herein-above related, and
considering that the total amount sought to be recovered in the amended and supplemental complaint is P64,601,623.70 the
docket fee that should be paid by private respondent is P257,810.49, more or less. Not having paid the same, petitioners
contend that the complaint should be dismissed and all incidents arising therefrom should be annulled. In support of their
theory, petitioners cite the latest ruling of the Court in Manchester Development Corporation vs. CA, 4 as follows:

The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the prescribed docket fee. An
amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction in the Court, much less the
payment of the docket fee based on the amounts sought in the amended pleading. The ruling in the Magaspi
Case in so far as it is inconsistent with this pronouncement is overturned and reversed.

On the other hand, private respondent claims that the ruling in Manchester cannot apply retroactively to Civil Case No. Q41177
for at the time said civil case was filed in court there was no such Manchester ruling as yet. Further, private respondent avers
that what is applicable is the ruling of this Court in Magaspi v. Ramolete, 5 wherein this Court held that the trial court acquired
jurisdiction over the case even if the docket fee paid was insufficient.

The contention that Manchester cannot apply retroactively to this case is untenable. Statutes regulating the procedure of the
courts will be construed as applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are
retrospective in that sense and to that extent. 6

In Lazaro vs. Endencia and Andres, 7 this Court held that the payment of the full amount of the docket fee is an indispensable
step for the perfection of an appeal. In a forcible entry and detainer case before the justice of the peace court of Manaoag,
Pangasinan, after notice of a judgment dismissing the case, the plaintiff filed a notice of appeal with said court but he deposited
only P8.00 for the docket fee, instead of P16.00 as required, within the reglementary period of appeal of five (5) days after
receiving notice of judgment. Plaintiff deposited the additional P8.00 to complete the amount of the docket fee only fourteen
(14) days later. On the basis of these facts, this court held that the Court of First Instance did notacquire jurisdiction to hear
and determine the appeal as the appeal was not thereby perfected.

In Lee vs. Republic, 8 the petitioner filed a verified declaration of intention to become a Filipino citizen by sending it through
registered mail to the Office of the Solicitor General in 1953 but the required filing fee was paid only in 1956, barely 5V2
months prior to the filing of the petition for citizenship. This Court ruled that the declaration was not filed in accordance with
the legal requirement that such declaration should be filed at least one year before the filing of the petition for citizenship.
Citing Lazaro, this Court concluded that the filing of petitioner's declaration of intention on October 23, 1953 produced no
legal effect until the required filing fee was paid on May 23, 1956.
In Malimit vs. Degamo, 9 the same principles enunciated in Lazaro and Lee were applied. It was an original petition for quo
warranto contesting the right to office of proclaimed candidates which was mailed, addressed to the clerk of the Court of First
Instance, within the one-week period after the proclamation as provided therefor by law. 10However, the required docket fees
were paid only after the expiration of said period. Consequently, this Court held that the date of such payment must be deemed
to be the real date of filing of aforesaid petition and not the date when it was mailed.

Again, in Garica vs, Vasquez, 11 this Court reiterated the rule that the docket fee must be paid before a court will act on a petition
or complaint. However, we also held that said rule is not applicable when petitioner seeks the probate of several wills of the
same decedent as he is not required to file a separate action for each will but instead he may have other wills probated in the
same special proceeding then pending before the same court.

Then in Magaspi, 12 this Court reiterated the ruling in Malimit and Lee that a case is deemed filed only upon payment of the
docket fee regardless of the actual date of its filing in court. Said case involved a complaint for recovery of ownership and
possession of a parcel of land with damages filed in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. Upon the payment of P60.00 for the
docket fee and P10.00 for the sheriffs fee, the complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. R-11882. The prayer of the complaint
sought that the Transfer Certificate of Title issued in the name of the defendant be declared as null and void. It was also prayed
that plaintiff be declared as owner thereof to whom the proper title should be issued, and that defendant be made to pay
monthly rentals of P3,500.00 from June 2, 1948 up to the time the property is delivered to plaintiff, P500,000.00 as moral
damages, attorney's fees in the amount of P250,000.00, the costs of the action and exemplary damages in the amount of
P500,000.00.

The defendant then filed a motion to compel the plaintiff to pay the correct amount of the docket fee to which an opposition
was filed by the plaintiff alleging that the action was for the recovery of a parcel of land so the docket fee must be based on its
assessed value and that the amount of P60.00 was the correct docketing fee. The trial court ordered the plaintiff to pay
P3,104.00 as filing fee.

The plaintiff then filed a motion to admit the amended complaint to include the Republic as the defendant. In the prayer of the
amended complaint the exemplary damages earlier sought was eliminated. The amended prayer merely sought moral damages
as the court may determine, attorney's fees of P100,000.00 and the costs of the action. The defendant filed an opposition to the
amended complaint. The opposition notwithstanding, the amended complaint was admitted by the trial court. The trial court
reiterated its order for the payment of the additional docket fee which plaintiff assailed and then challenged before this Court.
Plaintiff alleged that he paid the total docket fee in the amount of P60.00 and that if he has to pay the additional fee it must be
based on the amended complaint.

The question posed, therefore, was whether or not the plaintiff may be considered to have filed the case even if the docketing
fee paid was not sufficient. In Magaspi, We reiterated the rule that the case was deemed filed only upon the payment of the
correct amount for the docket fee regardless of the actual date of the filing of the complaint; that there was an honest
difference of opinion as to the correct amount to be paid as docket fee in that as the action appears to be one for the recovery of
property the docket fee of P60.00 was correct; and that as the action is also one, for damages, We upheld the assessment of the
additional docket fee based on the damages alleged in the amended complaint as against the assessment of the trial court
which was based on the damages alleged in the original complaint.

However, as aforecited, this Court overturned Magaspi in Manchester. Manchester involves an action for torts and damages and
specific performance with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, etc. The prayer in said case is for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction during the pendency of the action against the defendants' announced
forfeiture of the sum of P3 Million paid by the plaintiffs for the property in question, the attachment of such property of
defendants that may be sufficient to satisfy any judgment that may be rendered, and, after hearing, the issuance of an order
requiring defendants to execute a contract of purchase and sale of the subject property and annul defendants' illegal forfeiture
of the money of plaintiff. It was also prayed that the defendants be made to pay the plaintiff jointly and severally, actual,
compensatory and exemplary damages as well as 25% of said amounts as may be proved during the trial for attorney's fees.
The plaintiff also asked the trial court to declare the tender of payment of the purchase price of plaintiff valid and sufficient for
purposes of payment, and to make the injunction permanent. The amount of damages sought is not specified in the prayer
although the body of the complaint alleges the total amount of over P78 Millon allegedly suffered by plaintiff.

Upon the filing of the complaint, the plaintiff paid the amount of only P410.00 for the docket fee based on the nature of the
action for specific performance where the amount involved is not capable of pecuniary estimation. However, it was obvious
from the allegations of the complaint as well as its designation that the action was one for damages and specific performance.
Thus, this court held the plaintiff must be assessed the correct docket fee computed against the amount of damages of about
P78 Million, although the same was not spelled out in the prayer of the complaint.
Meanwhile, plaintiff through another counsel, with leave of court, filed an amended complaint on September 12, 1985 by the
inclusion of another co-plaintiff and eliminating any mention of the amount of damages in the body of the complaint. The
prayer in the original complaint was maintained.

On October 15, 1985, this Court ordered the re-assessment of the docket fee in the said case and other cases that were
investigated. On November 12, 1985, the trial court directed the plaintiff to rectify the amended complaint by stating the
amounts which they were asking for. This plaintiff did as instructed. In the body of the complaint the amount of damages
alleged was reduced to P10,000,000.00 but still no amount of damages was specified in the prayer. Said amended complaint
was admitted.

Applying the principle in Magaspi that "the case is deemed filed only upon payment of the docket fee regardless of the actual
date of filing in court," this Court held that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by payment of only P410.00
for the docket fee. Neither can the amendment of the complaint thereby vest jurisdiction upon the Court. For all legal purposes
there was no such original complaint duly filed which could be amended. Consequently, the order admitting the amended
complaint and all subsequent proceedings and actions taken by the trial court were declared null and void. 13

The present case, as above discussed, is among the several cases of under-assessment of docket fee which were investigated by
this Court together with Manchester. The facts and circumstances of this case are similar to Manchester. In the body of the
original complaint, the total amount of damages sought amounted to about P50 Million. In the prayer, the amount of damages
asked for was not stated. The action was for the refund of the premium and the issuance of the writ of preliminary attachment
with damages. The amount of only P210.00 was paid for the docket fee. On January 23, 1986, private respondent filed an
amended complaint wherein in the prayer it is asked that he be awarded no less than P10,000,000.00 as actual and exemplary
damages but in the body of the complaint the amount of his pecuniary claim is approximately P44,601,623.70. Said amended
complaint was admitted and the private respondent was reassessed the additional docket fee of P39,786.00 based on his
prayer of not less than P10,000,000.00 in damages, which he paid.

On April 24, 1986, private respondent filed a supplemental complaint alleging an additional claim of P20,000,000.00 in
damages so that his total claim is approximately P64,601,620.70. On October 16, 1986, private respondent paid an additional
docket fee of P80,396.00. After the promulgation of the decision of the respondent court on August 31, 1987 wherein private
respondent was ordered to be reassessed for additional docket fee, and during the pendency of this petition, and after the
promulgation of Manchester, on April 28, 1988, private respondent paid an additional docket fee of P62,132.92. Although
private respondent appears to have paid a total amount of P182,824.90 for the docket fee considering the total amount of his
claim in the amended and supplemental complaint amounting to about P64,601,620.70, petitioner insists that private
respondent must pay a docket fee of P257,810.49.

The principle in Manchester could very well be applied in the present case. The pattern and the intent to defraud the
government of the docket fee due it is obvious not only in the filing of the original complaint but also in the filing of the second
amended complaint.

However, in Manchester, petitioner did not pay any additional docket fee until] the case was decided by this Court on May 7,
1987. Thus, in Manchester, due to the fraud committed on the government, this Court held that the court a quo did not acquire
jurisdiction over the case and that the amended complaint could not have been admitted inasmuch as the original complaint
was null and void.

In the present case, a more liberal interpretation of the rules is called for considering that, unlike Manchester, private
respondent demonstrated his willingness to abide by the rules by paying the additional docket fees as required. The
promulgation of the decision in Manchester must have had that sobering influence on private respondent who thus paid the
additional docket fee as ordered by the respondent court. It triggered his change of stance by manifesting his willingness to
pay such additional docket fee as may be ordered.

Nevertheless, petitioners contend that the docket fee that was paid is still insufficient considering the total amount of the
claim. This is a matter which the clerk of court of the lower court and/or his duly authorized docket clerk or clerk in-charge
should determine and, thereafter, if any amount is found due, he must require the private respondent to pay the same.

Thus, the Court rules as follows:

1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the payment of the prescribed docket fee,
that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the initiatory
pleading is not accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee within a reasonable time but
in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.

2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third party claims and similar pleadings, which shall not be considered
filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee within a
reasonable time but also in no case beyond its applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.

3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the appropriate pleading and payment of the
prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified the same has
been left for determination by the court, the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It shall be the
responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fee.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Clerk of Court of the court a quo is hereby instructed to reassess
and determine the additional filing fee that should be paid by private respondent considering the total amount of the claim
sought in the original complaint and the supplemental complaint as may be gleaned from the allegations and the prayer
thereof and to require private respondent to pay the deficiency, if any, without pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 87617 April 6, 1990


JOE HODGES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HEIRS OF LEON P. GELLADA, plaintiff-appellee in Civil Case No. 6512,
ROMEO MEDIODIA, plaintiff-appellant in Civil Case No. 6513, and HEIRS OF FERNANDO MIRASOL, plaintiff-appellee in
Civil Case No. 6516, respondents.

GANCAYCO, J.:

What is the legal effect of the non-payment of the docket fees even before the promulgation of Manchester Development
Corporation vs. Court of appeals? 1 This is the decisive issue in this petition.

On April 7, 1964 Leon P. Gellada, a practicing lawyer, filed an action for damages against Joe Hodges in the Court of First
Instance of Iloilo City, wherein plaintiff claimed damages against defendant for some alleged defamatory statements of
defendant against plaintiff and his associates thus entitling him to moral damages of P400,000.00, damage to his law practice
of P30,000.00, attorney's fees of P30,000.00, and exemplary damages as well as temperate damages. A special appearance
questioning the jurisdiction of the court on the subject matter and the mode of extrajudicial service of summons dated June 24,
1964 was filed by defendant. The defendant pointed out that the court cannot acquire jurisdiction over the case unless the
corresponding docket fee is paid. The defendant maintained that considering the amount of damages claimed by the plaintiff,
the docket fee to be paid should be no less than P770.00 which is way beyond the P32.00 docket fee paid by plaintiff.

An answer, amended answer and a reply thereto were filed. The amended answer was admitted.

On March 31, 1964, Romeo H. Mediodia, also a practicing lawyer, filed in the same court a similar action for damages against
Joe Hodges for alleged defamatory statements of defendant against plaintiff, wherein plaintiff claimed for moral damages of
not less than P300,000.00, damage to his law practice of not less than P20,000.00, attorney's fee of P40,000.00 and exemplary
damages as well as temperate damages. A special appearance questioning the jurisdiction over the subject matter and the
mode of extrajudicial service of summons dated June 25, 1964 was also filed by defendant pointing that the court cannot
acquire jurisdiction over the case when plaintiff claimed damages of P360,000.00 and he paid a docket fee of only P32.00 when
it should not be less than P570.00. After an answer, amended answer, and a reply thereto were filed, the amended answer was
admitted by the trial court.

On April 8, 1964, another complaint for damages was filed by Fernando P. Mirasol, another practicing lawyer, against Joe
Hodges, for alleged defamatory statements of defendant against plaintiff, wherein plaintiff claimed moral damages of not less
than P350,000.00, damage to his law practice of not less than P25,000.00, attorney's fees of P35,000.00, and exemplary
damages as well as temperate damages. A similar special appearance for the defendant questioning the jurisdiction on the
subject matter of the court and the mode of extrajudicial service of summons dated June 25, 1964 and pointing out that the
court cannot acquire jurisdiction over the case as the plaintiff claimed damages of P410,000.00 but he paid a docket fee of only
P32.00 when it should not be less than P670.00. After an answer, an amended answer and a reply thereto was filed, the
amended answer were admitted by the trial court.

On August 31, 1972, these three cases were ordered consolidated by the trial court. On the same date another order was issued
directing the plaintiffs to pay the docket fee commensurate to their respective demands. This was reiterated in another order
dated March 11, 1982.

On March 16, 1982 plaintiff Gellada paid the amount of P168.00 bringing his total payment of docket fees to P200.00. On
September 5, 1972 plaintiff Mediodia paid P168.00 so he had paid a total of P200.00 for docket fees. Plaintiff Mirasol failed to
comply with the said orders.

Plaintiff Gellada died on February 4, 1974 so an order was issued for the substitution of his heirs. Plaintiff Mirasol also died on
March 29, 1979, so another order was issued by the trial court for the substitution of his heirs.

After trial on the merits, a judgment was rendered by the trial court on February 18, 1988, the dispositive part of which reads
as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the defendant Joe Hodges

In Civil Case No. 6512, to pay the heirs of plaintiff Leon Gellada, the sums of P50,000.00 and P10,000.00 as moral and
exemplary damages, respectively; P20,000.00 for and as attorney's fees and P10,000.00 as expenses of litigation, plus
costs;
In Civil Case No. 6513, to pay the plaintiff Romeo Mediodia the sums of P50,000.00 and P10,000.00 as moral and
exemplary damages, respectively; P20,000.00 for and as attorney's fees and P10,000.00 as expenses of litigation, plus
costs; and

In Civil Case No. 6516, to pay the heirs of plaintiff Fernando Mirasol, with the exception of Ferdinand Mirasol, the sums
of P50,000.00 and P10,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages, respectively; P20,000.00 for and as attorney's fees
and P10,000.00 as expenses of litigation, plus costs. 2

Not satisfied therewith, petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals, wherein in due course a decision was rendered on October
28, 1988 affirming the decision appealed from, with costs against petitioner. 3

A motion for reconsideration of the said decision having been denied in a resolution of March 8, 1989, the instant petition was
then filed in this Court, wherein nine (9) errors are alleged to have been committed by the appellate court. The Court finds it
necessary to dispose of the first assigned error on the question of non-payment of docket fees.

As early as Lazaro vs. Endencia, 4 this Court held that an appeal is not deemed perfected if the appellate court docket fee is not
fully paid. In Lee vs. Republic, 5 this Court ruled that a declaration of intention to be a Filipino citizen produced no legal effect
until the required filing fee is paid. In Malimit vs. Degamo, 6 We held that the date of payment of the docket fee must be
considered the real date of filing of a petition for quo warranto and not the date it was mailed. In Magaspi vs. Ramolete, 7 the
well-settled rule was reiterated that a case is deemed filed only upon payment of the docket fee regardless of the actual date of
its filing in court. 8

At the time, therefore, that the three (3) cases subject of the herein petition were filed, the rule was already clear that the court
does not acquire jurisdiction over a case until after the prescribed docket is paid.

In Manchester, this rule was emphasized when this Court stated "The court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the
payment of the prescribed docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction in
the court, much less the payment of the docket fee based on the amount sought in the amended pleading. 9

The rule in Manchester was relaxed in Sun Insurance vs. Hon. Maximiano Asuncion, 10 whereby this Court declared that the trial
court may allow payment of the fee within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary
period. Nevertheless, in Sun Insurance, this Court reiterated the rule that it is the payment of the prescribed docket fee that
vests the court with Jurisdiction over the subject matter of nature of the case. 11

In the present petition, it appellants that in the case of Gellada vs. Hodges the total amount of the claim for damages is about
P460,000.00, the estimated docket fee due is P770.00 but what was paid only was P32.00. Despite the order of the trial court
on August 31, 1972 and another order ten years later, that is on March 11, 1982, requiring plaintiff to pay the correct docket
fee, Gellada paid the amount of P168.00 Thus his total payment amounts to just P200.00, which is still much less than the
amount of P770.00 due.

Similarly in Mediodia vs. Hodges where the claim is approximately P360,000.00 and the appropriate filing fee would be about
P570.00, the plaintiff paid only P32.00 upon filing the complaint. After the two aforesaid order of the trial court were issued,
Mediodia paid on September 5, 1982 the amount of P168.00 bringing his payment to a total of P200.00 which is also much less
than the amount of P570.00 due for docket fee.

In the case of Mirasol vs. Hodges, the total claim is for P410,000.00 and the amount of filing fee due is P670.00. Mirasol paid
only P32.00 upon filing the complaint. He did not pay any additional sum even after the two orders of the court had been
issued.

No doubt, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter in said three (3) cases due to the failure to pay in
full the prescribed docket fee. Thus, the entire proceedings undertaken in said cases are null and void. The plaintiffs in said
cases are practicing lawyers who are expected to know this mandatory requirement in the filing of any complaint or similar
pleading. Their non-payment of the prescribed docket fee was deliberate and inexcusable.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The appealed decision of the Court of Appeals dated October 28, 1988 and its
resolution dated February 8, 1989 are hereby reversed and set aside and another judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the
complaints in said three (3) cases. No pronouncement as to costs.
G.R. No. 104796. March 6, 1998: SPOUSES ROSALINA S. DE LEON and ALEJANDRO L. DE LEON, petitioners, vs. THE
COURT OF APPEALS, GLICERIO MA. ELAYDA II, FEDERICO ELAYDA and DANILO ELAYDA, respondents.

MENDOZA, J.:

The question for decision is whether in assessing the docket fees to be paid for the filing of an action for annulment or
rescission of a contract of sale, the value of the real property, subject matter of the contract, should be used as basis, or
whether the action should be considered as one which is not capable of pecuniary estimation and therefore the fee charged
should be a flat rate of P400.00 as provided in Rule 141, 7(b)(1) of the Rules of Court. The trial court held the fees should be
based on the value of the property, but the Court of Appeals reversed and held that the flat rate should be charged. Hence this
petition for review on certiorari.
The facts are as follows:

On August 8, 1991, private respondents filed in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City a complaint for annulment or rescission
of a contract of sale of two (2) parcels of land against petitioners, praying for the following reliefs:

1. Ordering the nullification or rescission of the Contract of Conditional Sale (Supplementary Agreement) for having violated
the rights of plaintiffs (private respondents) guaranteed to them under Article 886 of the Civil Code and/or violation of the
terms and conditions of the said contract.

2. Declaring void ab initio the Deed of Absolute Sale for being absolutely simulated; and

3. Ordering defendants (petitioners) to pay plaintiffs (private respondents) attorneys fees in the amount of P100,000.00.

Other reliefs and remedies as are just and equitable in the premises are also prayed for. [1]

Upon the filing of the complaint, the clerk of court required private respondents to pay docket and legal fees in the total
amount of P610.00, broken down as follows:

P450.00 - Docket fee for the Judicial Development Fund under Official Receipt No. 1877773

150.00 - Docket fee for the General Fund under Official Receipt No. 6834215

10.00 - for the Legal Research Fund under Official Receipt No. 6834450. [2]

On September 26, 1991, petitioners moved for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground that the trial court did not
acquire jurisdiction over the case by reason of private respondents nonpayment of the correct amount of docket fees.
Petitioners contended that in addition to the fees already paid based on the claim for P100,000.00 for attorneys fees, private
respondents should have paid docket fees in the amount of P21,640.00, based on the alleged value of the two (2) parcels of
land subject matter of the contract of sale sought to be annulled. [3]
On September 30, 1991, private respondents filed opposition to the motion to dismiss, arguing that outright dismissal of
their complaint was not warranted on the basis of the alleged nonpayment of the correct amount of docket fees, considering
that the amount paid by them was that assessed by the clerk of court. [4] On October 9, 1991, petitioners filed a reply to which
private respondents filed, on October 17, 1991, a rejoinder.
On October 21, 1991, the trial court [5] denied petitioners motion to dismiss but required private respondents to pay the
amount of docket fees based on the estimated value of the parcels of land in litigation as stated in the complaint.
Private respondents filed a motion for reconsideration but their motion was denied by the trial court. They therefore,
brought the matter to the Court of Appeals which, on February 26, 1992, rendered a decision [6] annulling the orders of the trial
court. The appellate court held that an action for rescission or annulment of contract is not susceptible of pecuniary estimation
and, therefore, the docket fees should not be based on the value of the real property, subject matter of the contract sought to be
annulled or rescinded. Petitioners moved for reconsideration, but their motion was denied in a resolution dated March 25,
1992 of the appellate court. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari.
Rule 141 of the Rules of Court provides:

SEC. 7. Clerks of Regional Trial Courts. - (a) For filing an action or a permissive counter-claim or money claim against an estate
not based on judgment, or for filing with leave of court a third-party, fourth-party, etc. complaint, or a complaint in
intervention, and for all clerical services in the same, if the total-sum claimed, exclusive of interest, or the stated value of the
property in litigation, is:

1. Not more than P20,000.00 .............P120.00

2. More than P20,000.00 but less than

P40,000.00 ......................... 150.00

3. P40,000.00 or more but less than

P60,000.00 ......................... 200.00

4. P60,000.00 or more but less than

P80,000.00 ... ...................... 250.00

5. P80,000.00 or more but less than

P100,000.00 ........................... 400.00

6. P100,000.00 or more but less than

P150,000.00 ........................... 600.00

7. For each P1,000.00 in excess of

P150,000.00 ............................. 5.00

(b) For filing:

1. Actions where the value of the subject

matter cannot be estimated ............. P400.00

2. Special civil actions except judicial

foreclosure of mortgage which shall be

governed by paragraph (a) above .... 400.00

3. All other actions not involving

property........................... 400.00

In a real action, the assessed value of the property, or if there is none, the estimated value thereof shall be alleged by the
claimant and shall be the basis in computing the fees. (emphasis added)

Petitioners argue that an action for annulment or rescission of a contract of sale of real property is a real action and,
therefore, the amount of the docket fees to be paid by private respondent should be based either on the assessed value of the
property, subject matter of the action, or its estimated value as alleged in the complaint, pursuant to the last paragraph of 7(b)
of Rule 141, as amended by the Resolution of the Court dated September 12, 1990. Since private respondents alleged that the
land, in which they claimed an interest as heirs, had been sold for P4,378,000.00 to petitioners, this amount should be
considered the estimated value of the land for the purpose of determining the docket fees.
On the other hand, private respondents counter that an action for annulment or rescission of a contract of sale of real
property is incapable of pecuniary estimation and, so, the docket fees should be the fixed amount of P400.00 in Rule 141, 7(b)
(1). In support of their argument, they cite the cases of Lapitan v. Scandia, Inc.[7] and Bautista v. Lim.[8] In Lapitan this Court, in
an opinion by Justice J.B.L. Reyes, held:
A review of the jurisprudence of this Court indicates that in determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which
is not capable of pecuniary estimation, this Court has adopted the criterion of first ascertaining the nature of the principal
action or remedy sought. If it is primarily for the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered capable of pecuniary
estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or in the courts of first instance would depend on the amount of
the claim. However, where the basic issue is something other than the right to recover a sum of money, or where the money
claim is purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought, like in suits to have the defendant perform his part
of the contract (specific performance) and in actions for support, or for annulment of a judgment or to foreclose a mortgage,
this Court has considered such actions as cases where the subject of the litigation may not be estimated in terms of money, and
are cognizableexclusively by courts of first instance. The rationale of the rule is plainly that the second class cases, besides the
determination of damages, demand an inquiry into other factors which the law has deemed to be more within the competence
of courts of first instance, which were the lowest courts of record at the time that the first organic laws of the Judiciary were
enacted allocating jurisdiction (Act 136 of the Philippine Commission of June 11, 1901).

Actions for specific performance of contracts have been expressly pronounced to be exclusively cognizable by courts of first
instance: De Jesus vs. Judge Garcia, L-26816, February 28, 1967; Manufacturers Distributors, Inc. vs. Yu Siu Liong, L-21285,
April 29, 1966. And no cogent reason appears, and none is here advanced by the parties, why an action for rescission (or
resolution) should be differently treated, a rescission being a counterpart, so to speak, of specific performance. In both cases,
the court would certainly have to undertake an investigation into facts that would justify one act or the other. No award for
damages may be had in an action for rescission without first conducting an inquiry into matters which would justify the setting
aside of a contract, in the same manner that courts of first instance would have to make findings of fact and law in actions not
capable of pecuniary estimation expressly held to be so by this Court, arising from issues like those raised in Arroz v. Alojado,
et al., L-22153, March 31, 1967 (the legality or illegality of the conveyance sought for and the determination of the validity of
the money deposit made); De Ursua v. Pelayo, L-13285, April 18, 1950 (validity of a judgment); Bunayog v. Tunas, L-12707,
December 23, 1959 (validity of a mortgage); Baito v. Sarmiento, L-13105, August 25, 1960 (the relations of the parties, the
right to support created by the relation, etc., in actions for support); De Rivera, et al. v. Halili, L-15159, September 30, 1963 (the
validity or nullity of documents upon which claims are predicated). Issues of the same nature may be raised by a party against
whom an action for rescission has been brought, or by the plaintiff himself. It is, therefore, difficult to see why a prayer for
damages in an action for rescission should be taken as the basis for concluding such action as one capable of pecuniary
estimation a prayer which must be included in the main action if plaintiff is to be compensated for what he may have suffered
as a result of the breach committed by defendant, and not later on precluded from recovering damages by the rule against
splitting a cause of action and discouraging multiplicity of suits.

Conformably with this discussion of actions where the value of the case cannot be estimated, the Court in Bautista v.
Lim, held that an action for rescission of contract is one which cannot be estimated and therefore the docket fee for its filing
should be the flat amount of P200.00 as then fixed in the former Rule 141, 5(10). Said this Court:

We hold that Judge Dalisay did not err in considering Civil Case No. V-144 as basically one for rescission or annulment of
contract which is not susceptible of pecuniary estimation (1 Morans Comments on the Rules of Court, 1970 Ed, p. 55; Lapitan
vs. Scandia, Inc., L-24668, July 31, 1968, 24 SCRA 479, 481-483).

Consequently, the fee for docketing it is P200, an amount already paid by plaintiff, now respondent Matilda Lim. (She should
pay also the two pesos legal research fund fee, if she has not paid it, as required in Section 4 of Republic Act No. 3870, the
charter of the U.P. Law Center).

Thus, although eventually the result may be the recovery of land, it is the nature of the action as one for rescission of
contract which is controlling. The Court of Appeals correctly applied these cases to the present one. As it said:

We would like to add the observations that since the action of petitioners [private respondents] against private respondents
[petitioners] is solely for annulment or rescission which is not susceptible of pecuniary estimation, the action should not be
confused and equated with the value of the property subject of the transaction; that by the very nature of the case, the
allegations, and specific prayer in the complaint, sans any prayer for recovery of money and/or value of the transaction, or for
actual or compensatory damages, the assessment and collection of the legal fees should not be intertwined with the merits of
the case and/or what may be its end result; and that to sustain private respondents [petitioners] position on what the
respondent court may decide after all, then the assessment should be deferred and finally assessed only after the court had
finally decided the case, which cannot be done because the rules require that filing fees should be based on what is alleged and
prayed for in the face of the complaint and paid upon the filing of the complaint.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.


SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 115683. July 26, 1996: DELIA MANUEL, petitioner, vs. JUDGE DAVID ALFECHE, JR., in his capacity as then
Presiding Judge of RTC, Region Six, Branch 15, Roxas City, FELIPE CELINO, DANNY FAJARDO and LEMUEL
FERNANDEZ, respondents.

PANGANIBAN, J.:
In criminal prosecutions, the civil action is deemed impliedly instituted unless the complainant waives it, or reserves the
right to institute it separately or files it prior to the criminal. Where the trial court renders a judgment finding the accused
guilty of libel, but motu proprio dismisses complainant's claims for, inter alia, moral and exemplary damages on the ground of
complainant's failure to pay the filing fees therefor, may the complainant raise the matter via a petition for review
on certiorari directly before this Court, while the judgment of conviction is on appeal before the Court of Appeals? This is the
main question brought before this Court in this petition to set aside a portion of the Decision [1] of the respondent judge dated
April 21, 1994 in Criminal Case No. 3539 as well as the Order [2] of the same court dated May 27, 1994 denying the motion for
reconsideration.

The Facts
On January 9, 1992, the City Prosecutor of the City of Roxas filed with the Regional Trial Court, 6th Judicial Region, Branch
15, Roxas City an Information[3]for libel worded as follows:

That on or about the period September 20-22, 1991, in the City of Roxas, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the said accused, FELIPE CELINO, being then the writer/author; DANNY FAJARDO, Editor-in-Chief, LEMUEL T.
FERNANDEZ, Associate Editor; and JOHN PAUL TIA, Assistant Editor of a regional newspaper known as Panay News which has
considerable circulation in Panay Island and throughout Western Visayas, including Roxas City and Capiz Province, conspiring,
confederating together and mutually helping one another, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, and with
malicious intent of impeaching the integrity, credibility, honor, and reputation of DELIA MANUEL, and with the further
malicious intent (to expose) DELIA MANUEL to public hatred, contempt, disrespect and ridicule, prepare, write, arrange, and
publish, or cause to be prepared, written, arranged and published in the regular issue of the said Panay News for the period
September 20-22, 1991, as Article in the front page and/or headline entitled LOCAL SHABU PEDDLER NOW A
MILLIONAIREthe text of which is quoted hereunder:

LOCAL SHABU PEDDLER NOW A MILLIONAIRE

BY: FELIPE V. CELINO

ROXAS CITY - A middle-aged woman here has joined the ranks of millionaires after several years of selling shabu in the island
of Panay.

Named by Narcom agents as "Delia" this woman is the alleged "shabu Queen" in Western Visayas and has been (raking) in
millions of pesos since she started peddling shabu, marijuana and other prohibited drugs in this part of the country.

According to reliable sources, Delia has been transporting about 750 grams of shabu weekly from Manila to Panay. A gram of
this poor man's Cocaine has a street value of P1,000 more or less.

What makes her business prosper almost unscathed and very productive is the protection provided her by a top ranking
military officer in Manila, they said.

At present, the (sources) said, the shabu Queen is residing near one of the private schools in this City. She has three brand new
cars. Her house's outside walls are made of bamboo but it is fully air-conditioned and complete with luxurious household
appliances, PN sources added.

In Iloilo, Delia is known as "Madam-Ex". She doesn't deal with small time users. "She specializes in deals with scions of rich
businessmen and even local politicians."

The Narcom has allegedly been monitoring the activities of the shabu queen but has not nailed her down yet because of lack of
cooperation from the public.

which newspaper issues containing the abovequoted article were sent and circulated to, or caused to be sent or circulated to,
and actually read by subscribers and other readers, especially those in the City of Roxas and Province of Capiz.
That said accused intended to convey, as in fact (have) actually conveyed in said article, false imputations and malicious
insinuations against the said DELIA MANUEL, that is, that said Delia Manuel is the alleged "SHABU QUEEN" in Western Visayas
and has been raking in millions of pesos since she started peddling shabu, marijuana and other prohibited drugs in this part of
the country, with no good intention or justifiable motives, thereby (unjustly) and unlawfully besmirching the good name,
character, and reputation of said Delia Manuel as a private person and as a businesswoman.

That as a direct consequence of the publication of the said article, said Delia Manuel suffered actual, moral and exemplary
damages in the amount of TEN MILLION PESOS (P10, 000,000.00). (Italics supplied)

After trial, the respondent judge rendered the assailed Decision finding three of the accused guilty and acquitting a
fourth. However, "(t)he civil indemnity by way of moral damages (was) dismissed for lack of jurisdiction" on the ground that
petitioner did not pay the filing fees therefor. In the words of the respondent court:

x x x, close scrutiny of the record disclose that while the offended party seeks to enforce civil liability against the accused by
way of moral damages in the amount of P10,000,000.00 which is alleged in the information, there was no payment of the filing
fees corresponding thereto at the time of the filing of the information on January 9, 1992. For failing on this requisite, the court
did not acquire jurisdiction on the civil indemnity thus claimed. Hence, the claim for recovery of moral damages by the
offended party is dismissed."

The respondent court cited General vs. Claravall[4] in support of its action.
Reconsideration having been denied, petitioner sought to overturn the above dismissal via the instant petition for review
on certiorari under Rule 45.

The Issues

Petitioner argues that "under the new Rules on Criminal Procedure x x x the filing fees, when moral, nominal, temperate
or exemplary damages are claimed in the criminal case, shall constitute a first lien in the judgment, and thus need not be paid
upon the filing of the information, (and therefore) the filing fees herein was (sic) not assessed by the Clerk of Court, nor paid by
herein petitioner at the time of the filing of the information." Petitioner further insists that "it is only when the amount
of damages other than actual, has been specified in the information that the filing fees is (sic) required to be paid upon the filing
of the information, x x x and that since in (this) case the amount of damages stated in the information partakes firstly of actual
damages and is not entirely other than actual, then this case does not fall under the last par. of Sec. 1, Rule 111" of the 1988
Rules on Criminal Procedure.
In their comment and subsequently in their memorandum, private respondents counter that the present petition is
erroneously filed. As the questioned Decision is a final judgment, the appropriate remedy would have been ordinary appeal,
not appeal by certiorari. They also argue that "(t)he present petition is pre-mature because the questioned decision is pending
appeal with the Honorable Court of Appeals. x x x (I)f the questioned decision be reversed ahead by the Court of Appeals x x x
(there) would then be no more basis for the present petition." The accused - herein private respondents - had gone to the Court
of Appeals seeking a reversal of the judgment of conviction.

The Court's Ruling

The petition is devoid of merit.


While petitioner may be correct in asserting that a direct petition may, under appropriate circumstances, be taken to this
Court from the final judgment of the Regional Trial Court on pure questions of law in the form and manner provided for in the
Revised Rules of Court,[5] nevertheless, in view of the factual environment of this case, particularly that private respondents
herein had already taken an appeal to the Court of Appeals to question the trial court's judgment of conviction, the proper
remedy for petitioner is simply ordinary appeal to the said tribunal.
This is so because the award of moral and exemplary damages by the trial court is inextricably linked to and necessarily
dependent upon the factual finding of basis therefor, viz., the existence of the crime of libel. Inasmuch as the very same
Decision herein assailed is already pending review by the Court of Appeals, there is a distinct possibility that said court may, if
the facts and the law warrant, reverse the trial court and acquit the accused. In such event, the appellate court's action could
collide with a ruling finding merit in petitioner's contentions before this Court. Such a situation would lead to absurdity and
confusion in the ultimate disposition of the case. Obviously, this possibility must be avoided at all cost. This is (at least partly)
the raison d'etre for the rule against forum-shopping. [6] Clearly, then, petitioner ought to have brought her challenge in the
Court of Appeals.
In connection with the foregoing discussion, we note petitioner's vehement insistence that Art. 33 of the Civil Code allows
an independent civil action for damages in cases of defamation, fraud, and physical injuries to be instituted separately and
independently from the criminal. She then concludes that the civil aspect of the case is not dependent on the criminal, but
rather, may proceed independently thereof, and that therefore, the review of the civil aspect by this Court may take place
simultaneously with and separately from the review of the criminal aspect by the Court of Appeals.
Such reasoning is misplaced. Sec. 1 of Rule 111 provides that the civil action for recovery of civil liability is impliedly
instituted with the criminal action unless the offended party waives the civil action prior to the criminal action. In the present
case, the civil action had been actually (not just impliedly) instituted with the criminal prosecution, as shown by the fact that
petitioner took an active part in the prosecution of the criminal case. As admitted in the petition, "the private prosecutor,
counsel for x x x the petitioner herein" was allowed "upon prior authority and under the supervision of the City Prosecutor, to
handle the prosecution, by presenting all the prosecution's evidence" and even filing the Prosecution's
Memorandum.Obviously then, there can no longer be any independent civil action to speak of, as the civil aspect had previously
been included in the criminal. And petitioner, by attempting to have recourse to this Court with the criminal aspect still
pending with the Court of Appeals, was effectively trying to split a single cause of action. This we cannot allow.
Petitioner also posits the non-necessity of paying the filing and docket fees by reason of the non-specification of the
amounts of moral and exemplary damages being claimed by her, purportedly on the authority of this Court's ruling in General
vs. Claravall (supra). For the sake of clarity, we quote from General:

"This Court's plain intent - to make the Manchester doctrine, requiring payment of filing fees at the time of the commencement
of an action applicable to impliedly instituted civil actions under Section 1, Rule 111 only when 'the amount of damages, other
than actual, is alleged in the complaint or information' - has thus been made manifest by the language of the amendatory
provisions (adopted by this Court with effect on October 1, 1988).

In any event, the Court now makes that intent plainer, and in the interests of clarity and certainty, categorically declares for the
guidance of all concerned that when a civil action is deemed impliedly instituted with the criminal in accordance with Section
1, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court - because the offended party has NOT waived the civil action, or reserved the right to institute
it separately, or instituted the civil action prior to the criminal action -the rule is as follows:

1) when the 'amount of damages, other than actual, is alleged in the complaint or information' filed in court, then 'the
corresponding filing fees shall be paid by the offended party upon the filing thereof in Court for trial;

2) in any other case, however - i.e., when the amount of damages is not so alleged in the complaint or information filed in court,
the corresponding filing fees need not be paid and shall simply 'constitute a first lien on the judgment, except in an award for
actual damages.

We hold that said General ruling, especially the last subparagraph above-quoted, was actually intended to apply to a
situation wherein either (i) the judgment awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or (ii) the complainant expressly claims
moral, exemplary, temperate and/or nominal damages but has not specified ANY amount at all, leaving the quantification
thereof entirely to the trial court's discretion, [7] and NOT to a situation where the litigant specifies some amounts or
parameters for the awards being sought, even though the different types of damages sought be not separately or individually
quantified. Were we to hold otherwise, the result would be to permit litigants to continue availing of one more loophole in the
rule on payment of filing fees, and would not serve to attain the purpose of the revised Sec. 1 of Rule 111, which is "to
discourage the 'gimmick of libel complainants of using the fiscal's office to include in the criminal information their claim for
astronomical damages in multiple millions of pesos without paying any filing fees. [8]
WHEREFORE, for utter lack of merit, the instant petition is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Davide, Jr., Melo, and Francisco, JJ., concur.

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