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No. L-75919. May 7, 1987.

MANCHESTER DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET AL., petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, CITYLAND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, STEPHEN
ROXAS, ANDREW LUISON, GRACE LUISON and JOSE DE MAISIP, respondents.

Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Complaint; Filing Fees; Environmental facts of Magaspi vs. Ramolete case, different from case at bar.—ln the
Magaspi case, the action was considered not only one for recovery of ownership but also for damages, so that the filing fee for the damages should
be the basis of assessment. Although the payment of the docketing fee of P60.00 was found to be insufficient, nevertheless, it was held that since
the payment was the result of an "honest difference of opinion as to the correct amount to be paid as docket fee" the court "had acquired
jurisdiction over the case and the proceedings thereafter had were proper and regular." Hence, as the amended complaint superseded the original
complaint, the allegations of damages in the amended complaint should be the basis of the computation of the filing fee. In the present case no
such honest difference of opinion was possible as the allegations of the complaint, the designation and the prayer show clearly that it is an action
for damages and specific performance. The docketing fee should be assessed by considering the amount of damages as alleged in the original
complaint.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Case is deemed filed only upon payment of the docket fee regardless of actual date of filing in court.—As reiterated in
the Magaspi case the rule is well-settled "that a case is deemed filed only upon payment of the docket fee regardless of the actual date of filing in
court." Thus, in the present case the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by the payment of only P410.00 as docket fee. Neither can
the amendment of the complaint thereby vest jurisdiction upon the Court. For all legal purposes there is no such original complaint that was duly
filed which could be amended. Consequently, the order admitting the amended complaint and all subsequent proceedings and actions taken by the
trial court are null and void. Same; Same; Same; Same; Basis of assessment of the docket fee should be the amount of damages in the original
complaint and not in the amended complaint.—The Court of Appeals therefore, aptly ruled in the present case that the basis of assessment of the
docket fee should be the amount of damages sought in the original complaint and not in the amended complaint.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Attorneys; Court frowns at practice of counsel who filed the original complaint of omitting any specification of the
amount of damages in the prayer although the amount of over P78 million is alleged in the body of the complaint which is clearly intended to
thwart payment of correct filing fees.—The Court cannot close this case without making the observation that it frowns at the practice of counsel
who filed the original complaint in this case of omitting any specification of the amount of damages in the prayer although the amount of over P 78
million is alleged in the body of the complaint. This is clearly intended for no other purpose than to evade the payment of the correct filing fees if
not to mislead the docket clerk in the assessment of the filing fee. This fraudulent practice was compounded when, even as this Court had taken
cognizance of the anomaly and ordered an investigation, petitioner through another counsel filed an amended complaint, deleting all mention of
the amount of damages being asked for in the body of the complaint. It was only when in obedience to the order of this Court of October 18, 1985,
the trial court directed that the amount of damages be specified in the amended complaint, that petitioners' counsel wrote the damages sought in
the much reduced amount of P10,000,000.00 in the body of the complaint but not in the prayer thereof. The design to avoid payment of the
required docket f ee is obvious.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Warning of Supreme Court that drastic action will be taken upon a repetition of the unethical practice.—The
Court serves warning that it will take drastic action upon a repetition of this unethical practice.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Requirement that henceforth all complaints, petitions, answers and other similar pleadings should specify the amount of
damages prayed for not only in the body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and that the damages should be considered in the assessment of
the filing fees; Any pleading that fails to comply with the requirement shall not be accepted or admitted.—To put a stop to this irregularity,
henceforth all complaints, petitions, answers and other similar pleadings should specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the
body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the assessment of the filing fees in any case. Any pleading that
fails to comply with this requirement shall not be accepted nor admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the record.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Jurisdiction; Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon payment of the prescribed docket fee; An amendment
of the complaint or similar pleading will not vest jurisdiction in the court, much less payment of the docket fee based on amount in the amended
pleading Magaspi vs. Ramolete case which is inconsistent with this decision, is reversed.—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.

PETITION to review the decision of the Court of Appeals,

The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court.

Tanjuatco, Oreta and Tanjuatco for petitioners.

Pecabar Law Offices for private respondents.

RESOLUTION

GANCAYCO, J.:

Acting on the motion f or reconsideration of the resolution of the Second Division of January 28, 1987 and. another motion to refer the case to and
to be heard in oral argument by the Court En Banc filed by petitioners, the motion to refer the case to the Court en banc is granted but the motion
to set the case f or oral argument is denied.

Petitioners in support of their contention that the filing fee must be assessed on the basis of the amended complaint cite the case of Magaspi vs.
Ramolete.1 They contend that the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the filing fee should be levied by considering the amount of damages
sought in the original complaint.

The environmental facts of said case differ from the present in that—

1. The Magaspi case was an action for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of land with damages,2 while the present case is an action
for torts and damages and specific performance with prayer for temporary restraining order, etc.3
2. In the Magaspi case, the prayer in the complaint seeks not only the annulment of title of the defendant to the property, the declaration of
ownership and delivery of possession thereof to plaintiffs but also asks for the payment of actual, moral, exemplary damages and attorney's fees
arising therefrom in the amounts specified therein.4 However, in the present case, the prayer is for the issuance of a writ of preliminary prohibitory
injunction during the pendency of the action against the dafendants' announced forfeiture of the sum of P3 Million paid by the plaintiff s for the
property in question, to attach such property of defendants that maybe sufficient to satisfy any judgment that maybe rendered, and after hearing,
to order defendants to execute a contract of purchase and sale of the subject property and annul defendants' illegal forfeiture of the money of
plaintiff, ordering defendants jointly and severally to pay plaintiff actual, compensatory and exemplary damages as well as 25% of said amounts as
maybe proved during the trial as attorney's fees and declaring the tender of payment of the purchase price of plaintiff valid and producing the
effect 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 Million as damages suffered by plaintiff. Upon the filing of the complaint there was an honest
difference of opinion as to the nature of the action in the Magaspi case. The complaint was considered as primarily an action for recovery of
ownership and possession of a parcel of land. The damages stated were treated as merely ancillary to the main cause of action. Thus, the docket
fee of only P60.00 and P10.00 for the sheriff s fee were paid.6

In the present case there can be no such honest difference of opinion. As maybe gleaned from the allegations of the complaint as well as the
designation thereof, it is both an action for damages and specific performance. The docket fee paid upon filing of complaint in the amount only of
P410.00 by considering the action to be merely one for specific performance where the amount involved is not capable of pecuniary estimation is
obviously erroneous. Although the total amount of damages sought is not stated in the prayer of the complaint yet it is spelled out in the body of
the complaint totalling in the amount of P78,750,000.00 which should be the basis of assessment of the f iling fee,

4. When this under-assessment of the filing fee in this case was brought to the attention of this Court together with similar other cases an
investigation was immediately ordered by the Court. Meanwhile plaintiff through another counsel with leave of court filed an amended complaint
on September 12, 1985 for the inclusion of Philips Wire and Cable Corporation as co-plaintiff and by eliminating any mention of the amount of
damages in the body of the complaint. The prayer in the original complaint was maintained. After this Court issued an order on October 15, 1985
ordering the re-assessment of the docket fee in the present case and other cases that were investigated, on November 12, 1985 the trial court
directed plaintiffs to rectify the amended complaint by stating the amounts which they are asking for. It was only then that plaintiffs specified the
amount of damages in the body of the complaint in the reduced amount of P10,000,000.00.7 Still no amount of damages were specified in the
prayer. Said amended complaint was admitted.

On the other hand, in the Magaspi case, the trial court ordered the plaintiffs to pay the amount of P3,104.00 as filing fee covering the damages
alleged in the original complaint as it did not consider the damages to be merely ancillary or incidental to the action for recovery of ownership and
possession of real property.8 An amended complaint was filed by plaintiff with leave of court to include the government of the Republic as
defendant and reducing the amount of damages, and attorney's fees prayed for to P100,000.00. Said amended complaint was also admitted.9

In the Magaspi case, the action was considered not only one for recovery of ownership but also for damages, so that the filing fee for the damages
should be the basis of assessment. Although the payment of the docketing fee of P60.00 was found to be insufficient, nevertheless, it was held that
since the payment was the result of an "honest difference of opinion as to the correct amount to be paid as docket fee" the court "had acquired
jurisdiction over the case and the proceedings thereafter had were proper and regular."10 Hence, as the amended complaint superseded the
original complaint, the allegations of damages in the amended complaint should be the basis of the computation of the filing fee.11

In the present case no such honest difference of opinion was possible as the allegations of the complaint, the designation and the prayer show
clearly that it is an action for damages and specific performance. The docketing fee should be assessed by considering the amount of damages as
alleged in the original complaint.

As reiterated in the Magaspi case the rule is well-settled "that a case is deemed filed only upon payment of the docket fee regardless of the actual
date of filing in court."12 Thus, in the present case the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by the payment of only P410.00 as
docket fee. Neither can the amendment of the complaint thereby vest jurisdiction upon the Court.13 For all legal purposes there is no such original
complaint that was duly filed which could be amended. Consequently, the order admitting the amended complaint and all subsequent proceedings
and actions taken by the trial court are null and void.

The Court of Appeals therefore, aptly ruled in the present case that the basis of assessment of the docket fee should be the amount of damages
sought in the original complaint and not in the amended complaint.

The Court cannot close this case without making the observation that it frowns at the practice of counsel who filed the original complaint in this
case of omitting any specification of the amount of damages in the prayer although the amount of over P78 million is alleged in the body of the
complaint. This is clearly intended for no other purpose than to evade the payment of the correct filing fees if not to mislead the docket clerk in the
assessment of the filing fee. This fraudulent practice was compounded when, even as this Court had taken cognizance of the anomaly and ordered
an investigation, petitioner through another counsel filed an amended complaint, deleting all mention of the amount of damages being asked for in
the body of the complaint It was only when in obedience to the order of this Court of October 18, 1985, the trial court directed that the amount of
damages be specified in the amended complaint, that petitioners' counsel wrote the damages sought in the much reduced amount of P
10,000,000.00 in the body of the complaint but not in the prayer thereof. The design to avoid payment of the required docket fee is obvious.

The Court serves warning that it will take drastic action upon a repetition of this unethical practice.

To put a stop to this irregularity, henceforth all complaints, petitions, answers and other similar pleadings should specify the amount of damages
being prayed for not only in the body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the assessment of the filing
fees in any case. Any pleading that fails to comply with this requirement shall not be accepted nor admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from
the record.

The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the prescribed docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar
pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based on the amounts sought in the amended
pleading. The ruling in the Magaspi case14 in so far as it is inconsistent with this pronouncement is overturned and reversed.

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is denied for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.
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.

Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Actions; Statutes regulating the procedure of courts are applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time
of their passage.—On the other hand, private respondent claims that the ruling in Manchester cannot apply retroactively to Civil Case No. Q-41177
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, 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.

Same; Same; Same; Jurisdiction; Complaint; Docket Fees; It is not only the filing of the complaint, but the payment of the prescribed docket fee,
that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action.—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.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Permissive Counter-claims; Third-Party Claims; Permissive counter-claims, third-party claims and the like
shall not be considered filed until and unless the prescribed filing fee is paid.—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.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Judgments; Lien; When the judgment of the courts awards a claim not specified in the pleading, the
additional filing fee shall constitute a lien on the judgment.—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.

PETITION to review the decision of the Court of Appeals.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Romulo, Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayoc & De los Angeles Law Offices for petitioners.

Tanjuatco, Oreta, Tanjuatco, Berenguer & Sanvicente Law Offices for private respondent.

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 was 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 reraffled 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, issued an 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 Jaunary 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. Q-41177 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 P10,000,000.00 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 Judge 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 damages 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. L-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 non-payment 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. Q-41177 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
not acquire 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 5-1/2 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.10 However, 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 10.00 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 ofP500,000.00.

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,l04.00 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 untill 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. 125683. March 2, 1999.*

EDEN BALLATAN and SPS. BETTY MARTINEZ and CHONG CHY LING, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, GONZALO GO, WINSTON GO, LI CHING YAO,
ARANETA INSTITUTE OF AGRICULTURE and JOSE N. QUEDDING, respondents.

Actions; Pleadings and Practice; Docket Fees; The rule in this jurisdiction is that when an action is filed in court, the complaint must be
accompanied by the payment of the requisite docket and filing fees.—The third-party complaint in the instant case arose from the complaint of
petitioners against respondents Go. The complaint filed was for accion publiciana, i.e., the recovery of possession of real property which is a real
action. The rule in this jurisdiction is that when an action is filed in court, the complaint must be accompanied by the payment of the requisite
docket and filing fees. In real actions, the docket and filing fees are based on the value of the property and the amount of damages claimed, if any.
If the complaint is filed but the fees are not paid at the time of filing, the court acquires jurisdiction upon full payment of the fees within a
reasonable time as the court may grant, barring prescription.

Same; Same; Same; Where the fees prescribed for the real action have been paid but the fees of certain related damages are not, the court,
although having jurisdiction over the real action, may not have acquired jurisdiction over the accompanying claim for damages.—Where the fees
prescribed for the real action have been paid but the fees of certain related damages are not, the court, although having jurisdiction over the real
action, may not have acquired jurisdiction over the accompanying claim for damages. Accordingly, the court may expunge those claims for
damages, or allow, on motion, a reasonable time for amendment of the complaint so as to allege the precise amount of damages and accept
payment of the requisite legal fees.

Same; Same; Same; If there are unspecified claims, the determination of which may arise after the filing of the complaint or similar pleading, the
additional filing fee thereon shall constitute a lien on the judgment award.—If there are unspecified claims, the determination of which may arise
after the filing of the complaint or similar pleading, the additional filing fee thereon shall constitute a lien on the judgment award. The same rule
also applies to third-party claims and other similar pleadings.

Ownership; Possession; Builders in Good Faith; Where a person had no knowledge that he encroached on his neighbor’s lot, he is deemed a builder
in good faith until the time the latter informed him of his encroachment on the latter’s property.—We hold that the Court of Appeals correctly
dismissed the third-party complaint against AIA. The claim that the discrepancy in the lot areas was due to AIA’s fault was not proved. The
appellate court, however, found that it was the erroneous survey by Engineer Quedding that triggered these discrepancies. And it was this survey
that respondent Winston Go relied upon in constructing his house on his father’s land. He built his house in the belief that it was entirely within the
parameters of his father’s land. In short, respondents Go had no knowledge that they encroached on petitioners’ lot. They are deemed builders in
good faith until the time petitioner Ballatan informed them of their encroachment on her property.

Same; Same; Same; Good faith is always presumed, and upon him who alleges bad faith on the part of a possessor rests the burden of proof.—
Respondent Li Ching Yao built his house on his lot before any of the other parties did. He constructed his house in 1982, respondents Go in 1983,
and petitioners in 1985. There is no evidence, much less, any allegation that respondent Li Ching Yao was aware that when he built his house he
knew that a portion thereof encroached on respondents Go’s adjoining land. Good faith is always presumed, and upon him who alleges bad faith
on the part of a possessor rests the burden of proof.

Same; Same; Same; The right to choose between appropriating the improvement or selling the land on which the improvement of the builder,
planter or sower stands, is given to the owner of the land.—The owner of the land on which anything has been built, sown or planted in good faith
shall have the right to appropriate as his own the building, planting or sowing, after payment to the builder, planter or sower of the necessary and
useful expenses, and in the proper case, expenses for pure luxury or mere pleasure. The owner of the land may also oblige the builder, planter or
sower to purchase and pay the price of the land. If the owner chooses to sell his land, the builder, planter or sower must purchase the land,
otherwise the owner may remove the improvements thereon. The builder, planter or sower, however, is not obliged to purchase the land if its
value is considerably more than the building, planting or sowing. In such case, the builder, planter or sower must pay rent to the owner of the land.
If the parties cannot come to terms over the conditions of the lease, the court must fix the terms thereof. The right to choose between
appropriating the improvement or selling the land on which the improvement of the builder, planter or sower stands, is given to the owner of the
land.

Same; Same; Same; In the event that the owner elects to sell to the builder, planter or sower the land on which the improvement stands, the price
must be fixed at the prevailing market value at the time of payment.—In the event that petitioners elect to sell to respondents Go the subject
portion of their lot, the price must be fixed at the prevailing market value at the time of payment. The Court of Appeals erred in fixing the price at
the time of taking, which is the time the improvements were built on the land. The time of taking is determinative of just compensation in
expropriation proceedings. The instant case is not for expropriation. It is not a taking by the state of private property for a public purpose upon
payment of just compensation. This is a case of an owner who has been paying real estate taxes on his land but has been deprived of the use of a
portion of this land for years. It is but fair and just to fix compensation at the time of payment.

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

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Jose A. Dizon for petitioners.

Jose C. Guico, Jr. Law Office for private respondents Li Ching Yao.

Rogelio E. Subong for Gonzalo Go and Winston S. Go.

Rogelio R. Nacorda for private respondent Quedding.

Macario O. Directo for Araneta Institute of Agriculture.

PUNO, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals dated March 25, 1996 in CA-G.R. CV No. 32472 entitled “Eden
Ballatan, et al., plaintiffs-appellees v. Gonzalo Go and Winston Go, appellants and third-party plaintiffs-appellants v. Li Ching Yao, et al., third-party
defendants.”1

The instant case arose from a dispute over forty-two (42) square meters of residential land belonging to petitioners. The parties herein are owners
of adjacent lots located at Block No. 3, Poinsettia Street, Araneta University Village, Malabon, Metro Manila. Lot No. 24, 414 square meters in area,
is registered in the name of petitioners Eden Ballatan and spouses Betty Martinez and Chong Chy Ling.2 Lots Nos. 25 and 26, with an area of 415
and 313 square meters respectively, are registered in the name of respondent Gonzalo Go, Sr.3 On Lot No. 25, respondent Winston Go, son of
Gonzalo Go, Sr., constructed his house. Adjacent to Lot No. 26 is Lot No. 27, 417 square meters in area, and is registered in the name of respondent
Li Ching Yao.4

In 1985, petitioner Ballatan constructed her house on Lot No. 24. During the construction, she noticed that the concrete fence and side pathway of
the adjoining house of respondent Winston Go encroached on the entire length of the eastern side of her property.5 Her building contractor
informed her that the area of her lot was actually less than that described in the title. Forthwith, Ballatan informed respondent Go of this
discrepancy and his encroachment on her property. Respondent Go, however, claimed that his house, including its fence and pathway, were built
within the parameters of his father’s lot; and that this lot was surveyed by Engineer Jose Quedding, the authorized surveyor of the Araneta Institute
of Agriculture (AIA), the owner-developer of the subdivision project.

Petitioner Ballatan called the attention of the AIA to the discrepancy of the land area in her title and the actual land area received from them. The
AIA authorized another survey of the land by Engineer Jose N. Quedding.

In a report dated February 28, 1985, Engineer Quedding found that the lot area of petitioner Ballatan was less by a few meters and that of
respondent Li Ching Yao, which was three lots away, increased by two (2) meters. Engineer Quedding declared that he made a verification survey of
Lots Nos. 25 and 26 of respondents Go in 1983 and allegedly found the boundaries to have been in their proper position. He, however, could not
explain the reduction in Ballatan’s area since he was not present at the time respondents Go constructed their boundary walls.6

On June 2, 1985, Engineer Quedding made a third relocation survey upon request of the parties. He found that Lot No. 24 lost approximately 25
square meters on its eastern boundary, that Lot No. 25, although found to have encroached on Lot No. 24, did not lose nor gain any area; that Lot
No. 26 lost some three (3) square meters which, however, were gained by Lot No. 27 on its western boundary.7 In short, Lots Nos. 25, 26 and 27
moved westward to the eastern boundary of Lot No. 24.

On the basis of this survey, on June 10, 1985, petitioner Ballatan made a written demand on respondents Go to remove and dismantle their
improvements on Lot No. 24. Respondents Go refused. The parties, including Li Ching Yao, however, met several times to reach an agreement on
the matter. Failing to agree amicably, petitioner Ballatan brought the issue before the barangay. Respondents Go did not appear. Thus, on April 1,
1986, petitioner Ballatan instituted against respondents Go Civil Case No. 772-MN for recovery of possession before the Regional Trial Court,
Malabon, Branch 169. The Go’s filed their “Answer with Third-Party Complaint” impleading as third-party defendants respondents Li Ching Yao, the
AIA and Engineer Quedding.

On August 23, 1990, the trial court decided in favor of petitioners. It ordered the Go’s to vacate the subject portion of Lot No. 24, demolish their
improvements and pay petitioner Ballatan actual damages, attorney’s fees and the costs of the suit. It dismissed the third-party complaint against:
(1) AIA after finding that the lots sold to the parties were in accordance with the technical description and verification plan covered by their
respective titles; (2) Jose N. Quedding, there being no privity of relation between him and respondents Go and his erroneous survey having been
made at the instance of AIA, not the parties; and (3) Li Ching Yao for failure to prove that he committed any wrong in the subject encroachment.8
The court made the following disposition:

“WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants, ordering the latter:

1. To demolish and remove all improvements existing and encroaching on plaintiff’s lot;

2. To clear, vacate and deliver possession of the encroached area to the plaintiffs;

3. To pay plaintiffs jointly and severally the following:

a) P7,800.00 for the expenses paid to the surveyors;

b) P5,000.00 for plaintiffs’ transportation;

4. To pay plaintiffs, jointly and severally, attorney’s fees equivalent to 25% of the current market value of the subject matter in litigation at the time
of execution; and

5. To pay the costs of suit.

The third-party complaint filed by third-party plaintiff Gonzalo Go and Winston Go against third-party defendants Araneta Institute of Agriculture,
Jose N. Quedding and Li Ching Yao is hereby DISMISSED, without pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.”

Respondents Go appealed. On March 25, 1996, the Court of Appeals modified the decision of the trial court. It affirmed the dismissal of the third-
party complaint against the AIA but reinstated the complaint against Li Ching Yao and Jose Quedding. Instead of ordering respondents Go to
demolish their improvements on the subject land, the appellate court ordered them to pay petitioner Ballatan, and respondent Li Ching Yao to pay
respondents Go, a reasonable amount for that portion of the lot which they encroached, the value to be fixed at the time of taking. It also ordered
Jose Quedding to pay respondents Go attorney’s fees of P5,000.00 for his erroneous survey. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED insofar as the dismissal of the third-party complaint against
Araneta Institute of Agriculture is concerned but modified in all other aspects as follows:

1) Defendants-appellants are hereby ordered to pay plaintiffs-appellees the reasonable value of the forty-two (42) square meters of their lot at the
time of its taking;

2) Third-party defendant Li Ching Yao is hereby ordered to pay defendants-appellants the reasonable value of the thirty-seven (37) square meters
of the latter’s lot at the time of its taking; and

3) Third-party defendant Jose N. Quedding is hereby ordered to pay to defendants-appellants the amount of P5,000.00 as attorney’s fees.

LET THE RECORD of the case be remanded to the Regional Trial Court of Malabon for further proceedings and reception of evidence for the
determination of the reasonable value of Lots Nos. 24 and 26.

SO ORDERED.”9

Hence, this petition. Petitioners allege that:

“RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON QUESTIONS OF LAW AND GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION
WHEN:

1. IT APPLIED EQUITY OR EQUITABLE SOLUTIONS TO THE INSTANT CASE IN UTTER DISREGARD AND IN VIOLATION OR GROSS IGNORANCE OF
EXISTING LAWS AND JURISPRUDENCE VESTING BASIC PROPERTY RIGHTS TO HEREIN PETITIONERS. RESPONDENT COURT HAS NO POWER TO
APPLY/USE EQUITY IN THE PRESENCE OF EXISTING LAWS TO THE CONTRARY.

2. UNDER THE GUISE OF APPLYING EQUITY BUT IN EFFECT A VERY APPARENT PARTIALITY AND FAVOR TO RESPONDENTS GO, IT ORDERED PAYMENT
OF THE ENCROACHED AREA AT THE VALUE AT THE TIME OF ITS TAKING AND NOT THE VALUE AT THE TIME OF PAYMENT, THEREBY ENRICHING THE
GO’S BUT DEPRIVING PETITIONERS OF THE FRUITS OR INCREASE IN VALUE OF THEIR PROPERTY TO WHICH THEY ARE ENTITLED UNDER THE LAW AS
THE REGISTERED OWNERS WITH TORRENS TITLE IN THEIR NAMES.

3. WHEN IT DID NOT DISMISS THE THIRD-PARTY COMPLAINT DUE TO NON-PAYMENT OF ANY FILING OR DOCKET FEE.

4. WHEN IT DENIED PETITIONERS THE RECOVERY OF THE NECESSARY EXPENSES IN PROTECTING THEIR RIGHTS IN THIS CASE.”10

Petitioners question the admission by respondent Court of Appeals of the third-party complaint by respondents Go against the AIA, Jose Quedding
and Li Ching Yao. Petitioners claim that the third-party complaint should not have been considered by the Court of Appeals for lack of jurisdiction
due to third-party plaintiffs’ failure to pay the docket and filing fees before the trial court. The third-party complaint in the instant case arose from
the complaint of petitioners against respondents Go. The complaint filed was for accion publiciana, i.e., the recovery of possession of real property
which is a real action. The rule in this jurisdiction is that when an action is filed in court, the complaint must be accompanied by the payment of the
requisite docket and filing fees.11 In real actions, the docket and filing fees are based on the value of the property and the amount of damages
claimed, if any.12 If the complaint is filed but the fees are not paid at the time of filing, the court acquires jurisdiction upon full payment of the fees
within a reasonable time as the court may grant, barring prescription.13 Where the fees prescribed for the real action have been paid but the fees
of certain related damages are not, the court, although having jurisdiction over the real action, may not have acquired jurisdiction over the
accompanying claim for damages.14 Accordingly, the court may expunge those claims for damages, or allow, on motion, a reasonable time for
amendment of the complaint so as to allege the precise amount of damages and accept payment of the requisite legal fees.15 If there are
unspecified claims, the determination of which may arise after the filing of the complaint or similar pleading, the additional filing fee thereon shall
constitute a lien on the judgment award.16 The same rule also applies to third-party claims and other similar pleadings.17
In the case at bar, the third-party complaint filed by respondents Go was incorporated in their answer to the complaint. The third-party complaint
sought the same remedy as the principal complaint but added a prayer for attorney’s fees and costs without specifying their amounts, thus:

“ON THE THIRD PARTY COMPLAINT

1. That summons be issued against Third-Party Defendants Araneta Institute of Agriculture, Jose N. Quedding and Li Ching Yao;

2. That after hearing, they be sentenced to indemnify the Third-Party Plaintiffs for whatever is adjudged against the latter in favor of the Plaintiffs;

3. That Third-Party Defendants be ordered to pay attorney’s fees as may be proved during trial;

4. That Third-Party Defendants be ordered to pay the costs. Other just and equitable reliefs are also prayed for.”18

The Answer with Third-Party Complaint was admitted by the trial court without the requisite payment of filing fees, particularly on the Go’s prayer
for damages.19 The trial court did not award the Go’s any damages. It dismissed the third-party complaint. The Court of Appeals, however, granted
the third-party complaint in part by ordering third-party defendant Jose N. Quedding to pay the Go’s the sum of P5,000.00 as attorney’s fees.

Contrary to petitioners’ claim, the Court of Appeals did not err in awarding damages despite the Go’s failure to specify the amount prayed for and
pay the corresponding additional filing fees thereon. The claim for attorney’s fees refers to damages arising after the filing of the complaint against
the Go’s. The additional filing fee on this claim is deemed to constitute a lien on the judgment award.20

The Court of Appeals found that the subject portion is actually forty-two (42) square meters in area, not forty-five (45), as initially found by the trial
court; that this forty-two (42) square meter portion is on the entire eastern side of Lot No. 24 belonging to petitioners; that on this said portion is
found the concrete fence and pathway that extends from respondent Winston Go’s house on adjacent Lot No. 25; that inclusive of the subject
portion, respondents Go did not gain nor lose any portion of Lots Nos. 25 and 26; that instead, Lot No. 27, on which respondent Li Ching Yao built
his house, encroached on the land of respondents Go, gaining in the process thirty-seven (37) square meters of the latter’s land.21

We hold that the Court of Appeals correctly dismissed the third-party complaint against AIA. The claim that the discrepancy in the lot areas was
due to AIA’s fault was not proved. The appellate court, however, found that it was the erroneous survey by Engineer Quedding that triggered these
discrepancies. And it was this survey that respondent Winston Go relied upon in constructing his house on his father’s land. He built his house in
the belief that it was entirely within the parameters of his father’s land. In short, respondents Go had no knowledge that they encroached on
petition-ers’ lot. They are deemed builders in good faith22 until the time petitioner Ballatan informed them of their encroachment on her
property.23

Respondent Li Ching Yao built his house on his lot before any of the other parties did.24 He constructed his house in 1982, respondents Go in 1983,
and petitioners in 1985.25 There is no evidence, much less, any allegation that respondent Li Ching Yao was aware that when he built his house he
knew that a portion thereof encroached on respondents Go’s adjoining land. Good faith is always presumed, and upon him who alleges bad faith
on the part of a possessor rests the burden of proof.26

All the parties are presumed to have acted in good faith. Their rights must, therefore, be determined in accordance with the appropriate provisions
of the Civil Code on property. Article 448 of the Civil Code provides:

“Art. 448. The owner of the land on which anything has been built, sown or planted in good faith, shall have the right to appropriate as his own the
works, sowing or planting, after payment of the indemnity provided for in Articles 546 and 548,27 or to oblige the one who built or planted to pay
the price of the land, and the one who sowed the proper rent. However, the builder or planter cannot be obliged to buy the land if its value is
considerably more than that of the building or trees. In such case, he shall pay reasonable rent, if the owner of the land does not choose to
appropriate the building or trees after proper indemnity. The parties shall agree upon the terms of the lease and in case of disagreement, the court
shall fix the terms thereof.”

The owner of the land on which anything has been built, sown or planted in good faith shall have the right to appropriate as his own the building,
planting or sowing, after payment to the builder, planter or sower of the necessary and useful expenses, and in the proper case, expenses for pure
luxury or mere pleasure. The owner of the land may also oblige the builder, planter or sower to purchase and pay the price of the land. If the owner
chooses to sell his land, the builder, planter or sower must purchase the land, otherwise the owner may remove the improvements thereon. The
builder, planter or sower, however, is not obliged to purchase the land if its value is considerably more than the building, planting or sowing. In
such case, the builder, planter or sower must pay rent to the owner of the land. If the parties cannot come to terms over the conditions of the
lease, the court must fix the terms thereof. The right to choose between appropriating the improvement or selling the land on which the
improvement of the builder, planter or sower stands, is given to the owner of the land.Article 448 has been applied to improvements or portions of
improvements built by mistaken belief on land belonging to the adjoining owner.29 The facts of the instant case are similar to those in Cabral v.
Ibanez,30 to wit:

“[P]laintiffs Geronima Zabala and her husband Justino Bernardo, constructed their house in the belief that it was entirely within the area of their
own land without knowing at that time that part of their house was occupying a 14-square meter portion of the adjoining lot belonging to the
defendants, and that the defendants Bernardo M. Cabral and Mamerta M. Cabral were likewise unaware of the fact that a portion of plaintiff’s
house was extending and occupying a portion of their lot with an area of 14 square meters. The parties came to know of the fact that part of the
plaintiff’s house was occupying part of defendant’s land when the construction of plaintiff’s house was about to be finished, after a relocation of
the monuments of the two properties had been made by the U.S. Army through the Bureau of Lands, according to their ‘Stipulation of Facts,’ dated
August 17, 1951.

On the basis of these facts, we held that:

“The Court, therefore, concludes that the plaintiffs are builders in good faith and the relative rights of the defendant Mamerta Cabral as owner of
the land and of the plaintiffs as owners of the building is governed by Article 361 of the Civil Code (Co Tao v. Joaquin Chan Chico, 46 Off. Gaz. 5514).
Article 361 of the old Civil Code has been reproduced with an additional provision in Article 448 of the new Civil Code, approved June 18, 1949.”31

Similarly, in Grana and Torralba v. Court of Appeals,32 we held that:

“Although without any legal and valid claim over the land in question, petitioners, however, were found by the Court of Appeals to have
constructed a portion of their house thereon in good faith. Under Article 361 of the old Civil Code (Article 448 of the new), the owner of the land on
which anything has been built in good faith shall have the right to appropriate as his own the building, after payment to the builder of necessary or
useful expenses, and in the proper case, expenses for pure luxury or mere pleasure, or to oblige the builder to pay the price of the land.
Respondents, as owners of the land, have therefore the choice of either appropriating the portion of petitioners’ house which is on their land upon
payment of the proper indemnity to petitioners, or selling to petitioners that part of their land on which stands the improvement. It may here be
pointed out that it would be impractical for respondents to choose to exercise the first alternative, i.e., buy that portion of the house standing on
their land, for in that event the whole building might be rendered useless. The more workable solution, it would seem, is for respondents to sell to
petitioners that part of their land on which was constructed a portion of the latter’s house. If petitioners are unwilling or unable to buy, then they
must vacate the land and must pay rentals until they do so. Of course, respondents cannot oblige petitioners to buy the land if its value is
considerably more than that of the aforementioned portion of the house. If such be the case, then petitioners must pay reasonable rent. The
parties must come to an agreement as to the conditions of the lease, and should they fail to do so, then the court shall fix the same.”33

In light of these rulings, petitioners, as owners of Lot No. 24, may choose to purchase the improvement made by respondents Go on their land, or
sell to respondents Go the subject portion. If buying the improvement is impractical as it may render the Go’s house useless, then petitioners may
sell to respondents Go that portion of Lot No. 24 on which their improvement stands. If the Go’s are unwilling or unable to buy the lot, then they
must vacate the land and, until they vacate, they must pay rent to petitioners. Petitioners, however, cannot compel respondents Go to buy the land
if its value is considerably more than the portion of their house constructed thereon. If the value of the land is much more than the Go’s
improvement, then respondents Go must pay reasonable rent. If they do not agree on the terms of the lease, then they may go to court to fix the
same.

In the event that petitioners elect to sell to respondents Go the subject portion of their lot, the price must be fixed at the prevailing market value at
the time of payment. The Court of Appeals erred in fixing the price at the time of taking, which is the time the improvements were built on the
land. The time of taking is determinative of just compensation in expropriation proceedings. The instant case is not for expropriation. It is not a
taking by the state of private property for a public purpose upon payment of just compensation. This is a case of an owner who has been paying
real estate taxes on his land but has been deprived of the use of a portion of this land for years. It is but fair and just to fix compensation at the
time of payment.34

Article 448 and the same conditions abovestated also apply to respondents Go as owners and possessors of their land and respondent Li Ching Yao
as builder of the improvement that encroached on thirty-seven (37) square meters of respondents Go’s land.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of respondent Court of Appeals is modified as follows:

(1) Petitioners are ordered to exercise within thirty (30) days from finality of this decision their option to either buy the portion of respondents Go’s
improvement on their Lot No. 24, or sell to said respondents the portion of their land on which the improvement stands. If petitioners elect to sell
the land or buy the improvement, the purchase price must be at the prevailing market price at the time of payment. If buying the improvement will
render respondents Go’s house useless, then petitioners should sell the encroached portion of their land to respondents Go. If petitioners choose
to sell the land but respondents Go are unwilling or unable to buy, then the latter must vacate the subject portion and pay reasonable rent from
the time petitioners made their choice up to the time they actually vacate the premises. But if the value of the land is considerably more than the
value of the improvement, then respondents Go may elect to lease the land, in which case the parties shall agree upon the terms of the lease.
Should they fail to agree on said terms, the court of origin is directed to fix the terms of the lease.

From the moment petitioners shall have exercised their option, respondents Go shall pay reasonable monthly rent up to the time the parties agree
on the terms of the lease or until the court fixes such terms.

(2) Respondents Go are likewise directed to exercise their rights as owners of Lots Nos. 25 and 26, vis-a-vis respondent Li Ching Yao as builder of
the improvement that encroached on thirty seven (37) square meters of respondents Go’s land in accordance with paragraph one
abovementioned.

(3) The Decision of the Court of Appeals ordering Engineer Quedding, as third-party defendant, to pay attorney’s fees of P5,000.00 to respondents
Go is affirmed. The additional filing fee on the damages constitutes a lien on this award. (4) The Decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing the
third-party complaint against Araneta Institute of Agriculture is affirmed.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 203124. June 22, 2015.*

PROVINCE OF LEYTE, herein represented by MR. RODOLFO BADIABLE, in his capacity as the ICO-Provincial Treasurer, Province of Leyte, petitioner,
vs. ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, respondent.

Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Appeals; Petition for Certiorari; In petitions for certiorari filed before the Court of Appeals (CA), the latter acquires
jurisdiction over the person of the respondent upon: (a) the service of the order or resolution indicating the CA’s initial action on the petition to the
respondent; or (b) the voluntary submission of the respondent to the CA’s jurisdiction.—Thus, in petitions for certiorari filed before the CA, the
latter acquires jurisdiction over the person of the respondent upon: (a) the service of the order or resolution indicating the CA’s initial action on the
petition to the respondent; or (b) the voluntary submission of the respondent to the CA’s jurisdiction. In the case at bar, records reveal that the CA
served its Resolution dated November 4, 2009 indicating its initial action on the Province of Leyte’s certiorari petition before it, i.e., directing EDC to
file a comment to the petition, among others. In fact, the EDC complied with such directive by filing its comment dated December 14, 2009 to such
petition. Hence, the CA had already acquired jurisdiction over both parties to the instant case.

Same; Same; Proof of Service; The Rules require that the petition filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) should include proof of service to the other
party.—Admittedly, the Rules require that the petition filed before the CA should include proof of service to the other party. Essentially, the
purpose of this rule is to apprise such party of the pendency of an action in the CA. Thus, if such party had already been notified of the same and
had even participated in the proceedings, such purpose would have already been served. Considering that in this case, the CA had already issued a
Resolution dated November 4, 2009 directing EDC to file a comment which the latter had complied with, it cannot be denied that EDC was already
aware of the certiorari proceedings before the CA and that jurisdiction had been acquired over its person. The CA, therefore, should have brushed
aside the Province of Leyte’s procedural mishap and resolved the case on the merits in the interest of substantial justice.

PETITION for review on certiorari of the resolutions of the Court of Appeals.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

The Provincial Legal Office for petitioner.

Puno & Puno Law Office for respondent.

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the Resolutions dated September 21, 20112 and August 3, 20123 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in C.A.-G.R. S.P. No. 04575, which dismissed petitioner Province of Leyte’s (Province of Leyte) petition for certiorari before it on the ground of, inter
alia, lack of proof of service of such petition to the adverse party, respondent Energy Development Corporation (EDC).

The Facts

Sometime in 2006 and 2007, the Province of Leyte issued four (4) separate franchise tax assessments against EDC which the latter, in turn,
protested separately. When the Province of Leyte effectively denied all protests, EDC appealed such denials before the Regional Trial Court of
Tacloban City, Branch 6 (RTC), docketed as Civil Case Nos. 2006-05-48, 2006-05-49, 2006-07-77, and 2007-08-03.4 Upon motion of EDC, the RTC
issued an Order5 dated February 4, 2008 directing the consolidation of said appeals.6

Notwithstanding the pendency of the cases before the RTC, the Province of Leyte issued another tax assessment against EDC on February 27, 2008,
with the Assistant Provincial Treasurer verbally intimating to EDC that he was under strict instruction from the Governor to enforce the collection
of tax through the available administrative remedies upon the lapse of the sixty (60)-day period mentioned in the assessment.7

This prompted EDC to file a Motion for Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction8 dated April 4, 2008 praying that the RTC enjoin the Province of
Leyte “from assessing, or attempting to assess, collecting or attempting to collect franchise taxes from, and availing [itself] of enforcement
remedies or actions against [EDC] until [the pending cases before the RTC] shall have been resolved with finality.”9

In support of its motion, EDC averred that it does not have a franchise; hence, the Province of Leyte’s assessment of franchise taxes against it is
contrary to law and would result in the payment of illegally exacted taxes if not enjoined. It was further claimed that should the Province of Leyte’s
actions continue, EDC’s operations will be seriously imperilled and will altogether cease, resulting in loss of substantial revenues amounting to
approximately Twenty-One Million Pesos (P21,000,000.00) per day, as well as loss of jobs for its employees. Finally, EDC contends that the damage
that it stands to suffer from the Province of Leyte’s acts is irreparable as there is no assurance that it will be able to recover such losses.10

The RTC’s Ruling

In an Order11 dated April 18, 2008, the RTC denied EDC’s motion on the ground that its grant would in effect dispose of the cases before it.
However, on EDC’s motion,12 the RTC issued an Order13 dated July 17, 2009 setting aside its earlier order, and accordingly, directed the issuance
of a writ of preliminary injunction in its favor. Contrary to its earlier ruling, the RTC held that the main action would not be disposed of even
though, in the meantime, the Province of Leyte would be enjoined from collecting franchise taxes from EDC. The RTC further noted that in case EDC
is ultimately held liable for said taxes, the injunction bond would initially and substantially answer for the Province of Leyte’s claim. On the other
hand, if EDC is compelled to pay such taxes pending resolution of the cases before the RTC and is subsequently adjudged not liable to pay the same,
there is no assurance that it could recover its operational losses.14

Aggrieved, the Province of Leyte elevated the matter before the CA by way of a petition for certiorari.15

The CA’s Ruling

In a Resolution16 dated September 21, 2011, the CA dismissed the petition on the ground that, inter alia, “there was no proper proof of service of
the [p]etition to the adverse party. Certainly, registry receipts can hardly be considered sufficient proper proof of receipt by the addressee of
registered mail.”17

The Province of Leyte moved for reconsideration,18 which was, however, denied in a Resolution19 dated August 3, 2012; hence, this petition.20

The Issue Before the Court

The core issue for the Court’s resolution is whether or not the CA correctly dismissed the Province of Leyte’s certiorari petition before it due to its
failure to provide proof of service of the same on EDC.

The Court’s Ruling

The petition is meritorious.

At the outset, it must be stressed that the instant case was elevated to the CA via a petition for certiorari which is, by nature, an original and
independent action, and therefore, not considered as part of the trial that had resulted in the rendition of the judgment or order complained of.21
Being an original action, there is a need for the CA to acquire jurisdiction over the person of the parties to the case before it can resolve the same
on the merits. Naturally, the CA acquired jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner — which is the Province of Leyte in this case — upon the
filing of the certiorari petition. On the other hand, Section 4, Rule 46 of the Rules of Court (Rules), which covers cases originally filed before the CA,
provides how the CA is able to acquire jurisdiction over the person of the respondent:

SEC. 4. Jurisdiction over person of respondent, how acquired.—The court shall acquire jurisdiction over the person of the respondent by the
service on him of its order or resolution indicating its initial action on the petition or by his voluntary submission to such jurisdiction. (Emphases
and underscoring supplied)
Thus, in petitions for certiorari filed before the CA, the latter acquires jurisdiction over the person of the respondent upon: (a) the service of the
order or resolution indicating the CA’s initial action on the petition to the respondent; or (b) the voluntary submission of the respondent to the CA’s
jurisdiction. In the case at bar, records reveal that the CA served its Resolution22 dated November 4, 2009 indicating its initial action on the
Province of Leyte’s certiorari petition before it, i.e., directing EDC to file a comment to the petition, among others. In fact, the EDC complied with
such directive by filing its comment23 dated December 14, 2009 to such petition. Hence, the CA had already acquired jurisdiction over both parties
to the instant case.

Despite the foregoing, the CA still opted to dismiss the Province of Leyte’s petition before it on the ground that, inter alia, there was no proper
proof of service of the petition to EDC in accordance with Section 13, Rule 13, of the Rules,24 which reads:

SEC. 13. Proof of Service.—Proof of personal service shall consist of a written admission of the party served, or the official return of the server, or
the affidavit of the party serving, containing a full statement of the date, place and manner of service. If the service is by ordinary mail, proof
thereof shall consist of an affidavit of the person mailing of facts showing compliance with section 7 of this Rule. If service is made by registered
mail, proof shall be made by such affidavit and the registry receipt issued by the mailing office. The registry return card shall be filed immediately
upon its receipt by the sender, or in lieu thereof the unclaimed letter together with the certified or sworn copy of the notice given by the
postmaster to the addressee. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Relying on Aramburo v. CA,25 the CA held that while the Province of Leyte presented the registry receipt, it failed to include the registry return
card; hence, there was no valid proof of service to EDC, which must then result in the dismissal of the Province of Leyte’s petition.26

The CA erred in this regard.

Section 3, Rule 46 of the Rules provides the procedural requirements in filing original actions before the CA, to wit:

SEC. 3. Contents and filing of petition; effect of noncompliance with requirements.—The petition shall contain the full names and actual
addresses of all the petitioners and respondents, a concise statement of the matters involved, the factual background of the case, and the grounds
relied upon for the relief prayed for.

In actions filed under Rule 65, the petition shall further indicate the material dates showing when notice of the judgment or final order or
resolution subject thereof was received, when a motion for new trial or reconsideration, if any, was filed and when notice of the denial thereof was
received.

It shall be filed in seven (7) clearly legible copies together with proof of service thereof on the respondent with the original copy intended for the
court indicated as such by the petitioner, and shall be accompanied by clearly legible duplicate original or certified true copy of the judgment,
order, resolution, or ruling subject thereof, such material portions of the record as are referred to therein, and other documents relevant or
pertinent thereto. x x x

xxxx

The failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the foregoing requirements shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal of the petition. (Emphasis
and underscoring supplied)

Admittedly, the Rules require that the petition filed before the CA should include proof of service to the other party. Essentially, the purpose of this
rule is to apprise such party of the pendency of an action in the CA. Thus, if such party had already been notified of the same and had even
participated in the proceedings, such purpose would have already been served.

Considering that in this case, the CA had already issued a Resolution dated November 4, 2009 directing EDC to file a comment which the latter had
complied with, it cannot be denied that EDC was already aware of the certiorari proceedings before the CA and that jurisdiction had been acquired
over its person. The CA, therefore, should have brushed aside the Province of Leyte’s procedural mishap and resolved the case on the merits in the
interest of substantial justice. The Court’s pronouncement in Barra v. Civil Service Commission27 is instructive on this matter:

Courts should not be unduly strict in cases involving procedural lapses that do not really impair the proper administration of justice. Since litigation
is not a game of technicalities, every litigant should be afforded the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his case, free
from the constraints of technicalities. Procedural rules are mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice, and even the Rules of Court
expressly mandates that “it shall be liberally construed in order to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of
every action and proceeding.”28

Verily, the demands of justice require the CA to resolve the issues before it, considering that what is at stake here are taxes, albeit locally imposed
in this case, which are the nation’s lifeblood through which government agencies continue to operate and with which the State discharges its
functions for the welfare of its constituents.29 Thus, it is far better and more prudent for the Court to excuse a technical lapse and afford the
parties a substantive review of the case in order to attain the ends of justice than to dismiss the same on mere technicalities.30

In view of the foregoing discussion and the fact that the CA had dismissed the case on purely procedural grounds, the Court deems it appropriate
to remand the case to the CA to thresh out its merits.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, the Resolutions dated September 21, 2011 and August 3, 2012 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
C.A.-G.R. S.P. No. 04575 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. C.A.-G.R. S.P. No. 04575 is REINSTATED and REMANDED to the CA, which is DIRECTED
to resolve the case on the merits.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 198270. December 9, 2015.*

ARMILYN MORILLO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and RICHARD NATIVIDAD, respondents.
Criminal Law; Bouncing Checks Law; Transitory or Continuing Crimes; It is well-settled that violations of Batas Pambansa (BP) Blg. 22 cases are
categorized as transitory or continuing crimes, meaning that some acts material and essential thereto and requisite in their consummation occur in
one municipality or territory, while some occur in another.—It is well-settled that violations of BP 22 cases are categorized as transitory or
continuing crimes, meaning that some acts material and essential thereto and requisite in their consummation occur in one municipality or
territory, while some occur in another. In such cases, the court wherein any of the crime’s essential and material acts have been committed
maintains jurisdiction to try the case; it being understood that the first court taking cognizance of the same excludes the other. Thus, a person
charged with a continuing or transitory crime may be validly tried in any municipality or territory where the offense was in part committed.

Same; Same; Same; Jurisdiction; The court of the place where the check was deposited or presented for encashment can be vested with jurisdiction
to try cases involving violations of Batas Pambansa (BP) Blg. 22.—There is no denying, therefore, that the court of the place where the check was
deposited or presented for encashment can be vested with jurisdiction to try cases involving violations of BP 22. Thus, the fact that the check
subject of the instant case was drawn, issued, and delivered in Pampanga does not strip off the Makati MeTC of its jurisdiction over the instant
case for it is undisputed that the subject check was deposited and presented for encashment at the Makati Branch of Equitable PCIBank. The MeTC
of Makati, therefore, correctly took cognizance of the instant case and rendered its decision in the proper exercise of its jurisdiction.

Attorneys; Office of the Solicitor General; Section 35(1), Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code provides that the Office of
the Solicitor General (OSG) shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any
litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers.—Section 35(1), Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV of the 1987
Administrative Code provides that the OSG shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials
and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. Specifically, it shall represent the Government in
all criminal proceedings before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. Thus, as a general rule, if a criminal case is dismissed by the trial court
or if there is an acquittal, the appeal on the criminal aspect of the case must be instituted by the Solicitor General on behalf of the State. There
have been instances, however, where the Court permitted an offended party to file an appeal without the intervention of the OSG, such as when
the offended party questions the civil aspect of a decision of a lower court, when there is denial of due process of law to the prosecution and the
State or its agents refuse to act on the case to the prejudice of the State and the private offended party, when there is grave error committed by
the judge, or when the interest of substantial justice so requires.

Remedial Law; Criminal Procedure; Judgment of Acquittal; A judgment of acquittal may be assailed through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65
of the Rules of Court showing that the lower court, in acquitting the accused, committed not merely reversible errors of judgment, but also
exercised grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, or a denial of due process, thereby rendering the assailed judgment
null and void; This is because a judgment of acquittal is immediately final and executory, and the prosecution is barred from appealing lest the
constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy be violated.—A judgment of acquittal may be assailed through a petition for certiorari under
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court showing that the lower court, in acquitting the accused, committed not merely reversible errors of judgment, but also
exercised grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, or a denial of due process, thereby rendering the assailed judgment
null and void. If there is grave abuse of discretion, granting the aggrieved party’s prayer is not tantamount to putting the accused in double
jeopardy, in violation of the general rule that the prosecution cannot appeal or bring error proceedings from a judgment rendered in favor of the
defendant in a criminal case. This is because a judgment of acquittal is immediately final and executory, and the prosecution is barred from
appealing lest the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy be violated.

Same; Same; Same; The appellate court’s dismissal of the case is not an acquittal of respondent. Basic is the rule that a dismissal of a case is
different from an acquittal of the accused therein.—The Court stresses that the appellate court’s dismissal of the case is not an acquittal of
respondent. Basic is the rule that a dismissal of a case is different from an acquittal of the accused therein. Except in a dismissal based on a
Demurrer to Evidence filed by the accused, or for violation of the right of the accused to a speedy trial, the dismissal of a criminal case against the
accused will not result in his acquittal.

Same; Civil Procedure; Appeals; Petition for Review on Certiorari; In a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, the parties raise only
questions of law because the Supreme Court (SC), in its exercise of its power of review, is not a trier of facts.—Petitioner’s resort to Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court cannot be struck down as improper. In a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, the parties raise only questions of law
because the Court, in its exercise of its power of review, is not a trier of facts. There is a question of law when the doubt or difference arises as to
what the law is on certain state of facts and which does not call for an existence of the probative value of the evidence presented by the parties-
litigants. In De Vera v. Spouses Santiago, 759 SCRA 431 (2015), the Court categorically ruled that the issue of whether the appellate court erred in
annulling the RTC Decision for lack of jurisdiction is a question of law, to wit: Undeniably, the issue whether the CA erred in annulling the RTC
Decision for lack of jurisdiction is a question of law. The resolution of such issue rests solely on what the law [B.P. Blg. 129, as amended] provides
on the given set of circumstances as alleged in petitioners’ complaint for reconveyance of ownership and possession with damages.

Same; Criminal Procedure; Jurisdiction; In criminal cases, the jurisdiction of the court is determined by the averments of the complaint or
Information, in relation to the law prevailing at the time of the filing of the complaint or Information, and the penalty provided by law for the crime
charged at the time of its commission.—The instant petition was filed within the bounds of our procedural rules for the issue herein rests solely on
what the law provides on the given set of circumstances insofar as the commission of the crime of BP 22 is concerned. In criminal cases, the
jurisdiction of the court is determined by the averments of the complaint or Information, in relation to the law prevailing at the time of the filing of
the complaint or Information, and the penalty provided by law for the crime charged at the time of its commission. Thus, when a case involves a
proper interpretation of the rules and jurisprudence with respect to the jurisdiction of courts to entertain complaints filed therewith, it deals with a
question of law that can be properly brought to this Court under Rule 45.

Same; Same; Judgments; Dismissal of Actions; Double Jeopardy; Since the dismissal of the instant case cannot be considered as an acquittal of
respondent herein, he cannot likewise claim that his constitutional right to protection against double jeopardy will be violated.—Since the dismissal
of the instant case cannot be considered as an acquittal of respondent herein, he cannot likewise claim that his constitutional right to protection
against double jeopardy will be violated. In Paulin v. Hon. Gimenez, 217 SCRA 386 (1993), the Court held: Jurisprudence on double jeopardy as well
as the exceptions thereto which finds application to the case at bar has been laid down by this Court as follows: . . . However, an appeal by the
prosecution from the order of dismissal (of the criminal case) by the trial court shall not constitute double jeopardy if (1) the dismissal is made
upon motion, or with the express consent of the defendant; (2) the dismissal is not an acquittal or based upon consideration of the evidence or of
the merits of the case; and (3) the question to be passed upon by the appellate court is purely legal so that should the dismissal be found incorrect,
the case would have to be remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings, to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant.

Same; Same; Jurisdiction; To rule that the accused can postpone criminal prosecution and delay the administration of justice at petitioner’s
expense on the erroneous ground of lack of jurisdiction would create a hazardous precedent and open loopholes in our criminal justice system.—
The Court finds that in the interest of substantial justice, it must give due course to the instant petition and consequently rule on the merits of the
same. The circumstances surrounding this case left petitioner with no other suitable recourse but to appeal the case herself. Not only was there an
absence of support from the OSG, said government office also took a position in contrast to the rights and interests of petitioner. Moreover, as
discussed above, the arguments which ran counter to petitioner’s interest as well as the grounds used to support them were simply inapplicable to
the issue at hand. In fact, these erroneous contentions were adopted by the appellate court in their entirety, dismissing the instant case in a
manner not in accord with law and applicable jurisprudence. For the Court, now, to apply procedural rules in their strict and literal sense by
similarly dismissing, as the CA had, petitioner’s action poses serious consequences tantamount to a miscarriage of justice. To rule that the accused
can postpone criminal prosecution and delay the administration of justice at petitioner’s expense on the erroneous ground of lack of jurisdiction
would create a hazardous precedent and open loopholes in our criminal justice system.

Same; Same; Dismissal of Actions; Procedural Rules and Technicalities; Dismissal of appeals purely on technical grounds is frowned upon where the
policy of the court is to encourage hearings of appeals on their merits and the rules of procedure ought not to be applied in a very rigid, technical
sense; rules of procedure are used only to help secure, not override substantial justice.—When there exists meritorious grounds to overlook strict
procedural matters, the Court cannot turn a blind eye thereto lest the administration of justice be derailed by an overly stringent application of the
rules. Rules of procedure are meant to be tools to facilitate a fair and orderly conduct of proceedings. Strict adherence thereto must not get in the
way of achieving substantial justice. As long as their purpose is sufficiently met and no violation of due process and fair play takes place, the rules
should be liberally construed. Dismissal of appeals purely on technical grounds is frowned upon where the policy of the court is to encourage
hearings of appeals on their merits and the rules of procedure ought not to be applied in a very rigid, technical sense; rules of procedure are used
only to help secure, not override substantial justice. It is a far better and more prudent course of action for the court to excuse a technical lapse
and afford the parties a review of the case on appeal to attain the ends of justice rather than dispose of the case on technicality and cause a grave
injustice to the parties, giving a false impression of speedy disposal of cases while actually resulting in more delay, if not a miscarriage of justice.

PETITION for review on certiorari of the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Fortun, Narvasa and Salazar for petitioner.

Sheryl C. Santos-Centeno for private respondent.

PERALTA, J.:

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision1 dated
January 18, 2011 and Resolution2 dated August 9, 2011 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in C.A.-G.R. CR No. 32723 which reversed and set aside the
Decision3 dated February 23, 2009 and Order4 dated July 13, 2009, of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Criminal Case Nos. 08-1876-77, which, in
turn, affirmed the Joint Decision5 dated September 3, 2008 of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) in Criminal Case Nos. 337902-03.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

Sometime in July 2003, respondent Richard Natividad, Milo Malong and Bing Nanquil, introducing themselves as contractors doing business in
Pampanga City under the name and style of RB Custodio Construction, purchased construction materials for their project inside the Subic Freeport
Zone from petitioner Armilyn Morillo, owner of Amasea General Merchandize and Construction Supplies. The parties agreed that twenty percent
(20%) of the purchases shall be paid within seven (7) days after the first delivery and the remaining eighty percent (80%) to be paid within thirty-
five (35) days after the last delivery, all of which shall be via postdated checks.6

Pursuant to the agreement, petitioner delivered construction materials amounting to a total of P500,054.00 at the construction site where
respondent and his partners were undertaking their project. After the last delivery, respondent paid P20,000.00 in cash and issued two (2) post-
dated checks, drawn from Metrobank, Pampanga branch, in the amounts of P393,000.00 and P87,054.00. Upon maturity, petitioner attempted to
deposit the checks in her savings account at Equitable PCIBank, San Lorenzo, Makati City. They were, however, dishonored by the drawee bank.
Immediately thereafter, petitioner communicated the dishonor to respondent and his partners and demanded for payment. Again, respondent
issued two (2) post-dated Metrobank checks and assured petitioner that they will be honored upon maturity. Upon deposit in her savings account
at Equitable PCIBank, Makati Branch, the checks were once again dishonored for the reason that the account from which they were drawn was
already a closed account. Consequently, petitioner made several demands from respondent and his partners, but to no avail, prompting her to file
a complaint with the City Prosecution Office, Makati City.7 Thus, on August 12, 2004, two (2) Informations were filed against respondent and Milo
Malong, the accusatory portions of which read:

Criminal Case No. 337902

That on or about the 20th day of October 2003, or prior thereto, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above named accused, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously make out, draw and issue to AMASEA
GENERAL MERCHANDIZE AND CONSTRUCTION SUPPLIES herein represented by ARMILYN MORILLO to apply on account or for value the check
described below:

Check No. : 2960203217

Drawn Against : Metrobank

In the amount : Php434,430.00

Postdated/Dated : October 20, 2003

Payable to : AMASEA GENERAL MERCHANDIZE AND CONSTRUCTION SUPPLIES

said accused well knowing that at the time of issue thereof, said accused did not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the
payment in full of the face amount of such check upon its presentment which check when presented for payment within ninety (90) days from the
date thereof, was subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for the reason “Account Closed” and despite receipt of notice of such dishonor, the
said accused failed to pay said payee the face amount of said check or to make arrangement for full payment thereof within five (5) banking days
after receiving notice.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Criminal Case No. 337903

That on or about the 20th day of October 2003, or prior thereto, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above named accused, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously make out, draw and issue to AMASEA
GENERAL MERCHANDIZE AND CONSTRUCTION SUPPLIES herein represented by ARMILYN MORILLO to apply on account or for value the check
described below:
Check No. : 2960203218

Drawn Against : Metrobank

In the amount : Php13,032.00

Postdated / Dated : October 20, 2003

Payable to : AMASEA GENERAL MERCHANDIZE AND CONSTRUCTION SUPPLIES

said accused well knowing that at the time of issue thereof, said accused did not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the
payment in full of the face amount of such check upon its presentment which check when presented for payment within ninety (90) days from the
date thereof, was subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for the reason “Account Closed” and despite receipt of notice of such dishonor, the
said accused failed to pay said payee the face amount of said check or to make arrangement for full payment thereof within five (5) banking days
after receiving notice.

CONTRARY TO LAW.8

On September 15, 2004, the Assistant City Prosecutor issued a Resolution recommending that respondent and his partners be charged in court
with the crime of Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 2(d) of the Revised Penal Code as well as for Violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (BP 22),
which was later docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 337902-03.

On September 3, 2008, the MeTC rendered its Joint Decision, finding that the prosecution had proven all the elements of violation of BP 22 as
against respondent, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered in Criminal Cases Nos. 337902-03 finding the accused, RICHARD NATIVIDAD, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
of the offense of Violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 and is sentenced to pay a fine equivalent to Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php200,000.00),
for Check No. 2960203217 and Thirteen Thousand Thirty-Two Pesos for Check No. 2960203218 or a total penalty of Two Hundred Thousand
Thirteen Thousand Thirty-Two Pesos (Php213,032.00), with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. However, accused MILO MALONG, is
ACQUITTED on the ground of reasonable doubt. Both accused Malong and Natividad are ordered to jointly pay the private complainant the total
sum of Four Hundred Forty-Seven Thousand Four Hundred Sixty-Two Pesos (Php447,462.00) which are the face value of the two (2) checks issued,
subject of these cases, with interest at twelve percent (12%) per annum and three percent (3%) penalty per month as stipulated in the invoices,
reckoned from the date of receipt of the demand on February 28, 2004, until the amount is fully paid, plus the costs of suit.

All other claims are DISMISSED for lack of evidence.

SO ORDERED.9

Respondent appealed the decision of the MeTC to the RTC arguing that the MeTC of Makati City had no jurisdiction over the case. He asserted that
since the subject checks were issued, drawn, and delivered to petitioner in Subic, the venue of the action was improperly laid for none of the
elements of the offense actually transpired in Makati City. Respondent also pointed out that during the retaking of petitioner’s testimony on March
14, 2008, the records of the case did not show that the public prosecutor manifested his presence in court and that he delegated the prosecution
of the case to the private prosecutor. Thus, since there was no appearance for the public prosecutor, nor was there a proper delegation of
authority, the proceedings should be declared null and void.10

On February 23, 2009, the RTC affirmed the MeTC ruling in the following wise:

Since accused Natividad failed to raise before the court [a quo] the issue of authority of the private prosecutor to present witness Morillo in the
absence of the public prosecutor during the March 14, 2008 proceeding, and only did so after obtaining an adverse judgment, it would be an
injustice if all the proceedings had in the case would be set aside.

The second issue raised on appeal also holds no ground. A violation of BP 22 is a continuing or transitory offense, which is oft-repeated in our
jurisprudence. Under this doctrine, jurisdiction may be had in several places where one of the acts material to the crime occurred. Accused
Natividad postulates that since the checks were presented and dishonored in Makati City, which is not the place where it was issued and delivered,
the court [a quo] lacks jurisdiction. This argument is, at best, specious. The fact remains that the bank where it was presented for payment is in
Makati City. These checks passed through this bank for clearance, confirmation, and or validation processes. Moreover, the eventual dishonour
indeed took place or was completed at the end of the collecting bank in Makati City, where the private complainant maintains her account over
which the court [a quo] has jurisdiction.

WHEREFORE, finding no merit on accused-appellant Natividad’s appeal, the same is hereby dismissed. Accordingly, the appealed decision of the
court [a quo] is hereby AFFIRMED in full.

SO ORDERED.11

On appeal, however, the Court of Appeals, in its January 18, 2011 Decision, reversed the lower courts’ rulings and dismissed the case without
prejudice to its refiling in the proper venue, the pertinent portions of said Decision state:

In this case, records will reveal that the first element of the offense happened in Pampanga. It was indisputably established that the subject checks
were issued to private complainant at petitioner’s office in Pampanga. Said checks were drawn from petitioner’s account in Metrobank, Pampanga
branch.

The second element of the offense or the knowledge of dishonor of the checks by the maker also transpired in Pampanga. After private
complainant was informed of the dishonor of the checks, she immediately proceeded to petitioner’s office in Pampanga, personally informed him
and his companions of the dishonor of the checks and tendered a demand letter for the payment of the construction materials.

Finally, the third element or dishonor of the checks by the drawee bank also happened in Pampanga. Upon maturity of the subject checks, private
complainant deposited the same in her savings account at Equitable PCIBank, Makati Branch. Subsequently, she was informed by the latter bank
that the subject checks were dishonored by the drawee bank, Metrobank, Pampanga branch.

Clearly, all the essential elements of the offense happened in Pampanga. Consequently, the case can only be filed in said place. Unfortunately,
private complainant filed the case in Makati City, under the erroneous assumption that since she deposited the subject checks in Equitable
PCIBank, Makati City, and was informed of the dishonor of the checks by the same bank, the case may be filed in Makati City. However, as correctly
argued by the OSG, the act of depositing the check is not an essential element of BP 22. Likewise, the fact that private complainant was informed of
the dishonor of the checks at her bank in Makati City did not vest the MeTC, Makati City with jurisdiction to take cognizance of the case. To
reiterate, a transitory crime can only be filed in any of the places where its constitutive elements actually transpired. And, knowledge of the payee
of the dishonor of the checks is not an element of BP 22. The law speaks only of the subsequent dishonor of the checks by the drawee bank and the
knowledge of the fact of dishonor by the maker. Consequently, none of the elements of the offense can be considered to have transpired in Makati
City. Thus, the venue of the instant case was improperly laid.12

Aggrieved, petitioner filed the instant action invoking the following argument:

I.

THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT OF MAKATI CITY DID NOT HAVE JURISDICTION
OVER THE CASE DESPITE A CLEAR SHOWING THAT THE OFFENSE WAS COMMITTED WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF SAID COURT.13

Petitioner maintains that the MeTC of Makati City, the place where the dishonored checks were deposited, had jurisdiction over the instant case. In
support of her contention, petitioner cites the ruling in Nieva, Jr. v. Court of Appeals,14 wherein it was held that since the check drawn in violation
of BP 22 was deposited and presented for encashment with the Angeles City Branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, the RTC of Pampanga
clearly had jurisdiction over the crime of which accused therein was charged.15 Thus, petitioner asserts that the appellate court erred in ruling that
the Makati MeTC did not have jurisdiction to try the instant case. That none of the essential elements of the crime of violation of BP 22 occurred in
the City of Makati is belied by the Nieva doctrine recognizing the jurisdiction of the court of the place where the check was deposited and/or
presented for encashment.

Petitioner went on to state that all the elements of violation of BP 22 were duly proven beyond reasonable doubt. First, the prosecution sufficiently
established that the respondent issued the subject checks as shown by the documentary evidence submitted. They were issued for value, as
payment for the construction supplies and materials which petitioner delivered to the accused.

As to the second and third elements, petitioner posits that it was clearly shown that respondent had knowledge of the insufficiency of funds in or
credit with the drawee bank, which subsequently dishonored the subject checks. Section 2 of BP 22 provides that “the dishonor of a check when
presented within ninety (90) days from the date of the check shall be prima facie evidence of knowledge of insufficiency of funds or credit unless
such maker or drawer pays the holder thereof the amount due thereon, or makes arrangements for payment in full by the drawee of such check
within five (5) banking days after receiving notice that such check has not been paid by the drawee.” In this case, petitioner states that the
prosecution was able to sufficiently show that the subject checks were presented within the time period required by law. In fact, written demand
relaying the fact that the drawee bank dishonored the subject checks was even personally delivered by petitioner to respondent as evidenced by
the demand letter signed by respondent. Thus, respondent cannot deny that he had knowledge of the insufficiency of funds in his account with the
drawee bank and that the subject checks were subsequently dishonored for the reason that the account from which they were drawn was already
a closed account.

For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), representing the State, is in line with the appellate court’s and respondent’s stance that the
MeTC had no jurisdiction over the instant case. According to the OSG, the act of depositing the check is not an essential element of the offense
under the Bouncing Checks Law. Citing the ruling in Rigor v. People,16 the OSG posited that the place of deposit and the place of dishonor are
distinct from each other and that the place where the check was issued, delivered, and dishonored is the proper venue, not the place where the
check was deposited, viz.: The evidence clearly shows that the undated check was issued and delivered at the Rural Bank of San Juan, Metro
Manila. x x x The check was deposited with PS Bank, San Juan Branch, Metro Manila. x x x The information at bar effectively charges San Juan as the
place of drawing and issuing. The jurisdiction of courts in criminal cases is determined by the allegations of the complaint or information. Although
the check was dishonored by the drawee, Associated Bank, in its Tarlac Branch, appellant has drawn, issued and delivered it at RBSJ, San Juan. The
place of issue and delivery was San Juan and knowledge, as an essential part of the offense, was also overtly manifested in San Juan. There is no
question that crimes committed in San Juan are triable by the RTC stationed in Pasig.17

On the basis of the pronouncement in Rigor, the OSG thus claimed that the MeTC of Makati City did not have jurisdiction over the instant case for
none of the essential elements of violation of BP 22 occurred therein.

The contention is untenable.

It is well-settled that violations of BP 22 cases are categorized as transitory or continuing crimes, meaning that some acts material and essential
thereto and requisite in their consummation occur in one municipality or territory, while some occur in another. In such cases, the court wherein
any of the crime’s essential and material acts have been committed maintains jurisdiction to try the case; it being understood that the first court
taking cognizance of the same excludes the other. Thus, a person charged with a continuing or transitory crime may be validly tried in any
municipality or territory where the offense was in part committed.18

The OSG, relying on our ruling in Rigor v. People, concluded that “the Supreme Court regarded the place of deposit

and the place of dishonor as distinct from one another and considered the place where the check was issued, delivered and dishonored, and not
where the check was deposited, as the proper venue for the filing of a B.P. Blg. 22 case.” The Court, however, cannot sustain such conclusion.

In said case, the accused therein obtained a loan from the Rural Bank of San Juan, Metro Manila, and in payment thereof, he issued a check drawn
against Associated Bank of Tarlac. Thereafter, Rural Bank deposited the check at PS Bank, San Juan, but the same was returned for the reason that
it had been dishonored by Associated Bank of Tarlac. When all other efforts to demand the repayment of the loan proved futile, Rural Bank filed an
action against the accused for violation of BP 22 at the RTC of Pasig City, wherein crimes committed in San Juan are triable. The accused, however,
contends that the RTC of Pasig had no jurisdiction thereon since no proof had been offered to show that his check was issued, delivered,
dishonored or that knowledge of insufficiency of funds occurred in the Municipality of San Juan. The Court, however, disagreed and held that while
the check was dishonored by the drawee, Associated Bank, in its Tarlac Branch, evidence clearly showed that the accused had drawn, issued and
delivered it at Rural Bank, San Juan, viz.:

Lastly, petitioner contends that the Regional Trial Court of Pasig had no jurisdiction over this case since no proof has been offered that his check
was issued, delivered, dishonored or that knowledge of insufficiency of funds occurred in the Municipality of San Juan, Metro Manila.

The contention is untenable.

x x x x.

The evidence clearly shows that the undated check was issued and delivered at the Rural Bank of San Juan, Metro Manila on November 16, 1989,
and subsequently the check was dated February 16, 1990 thereat. On May 25, 1990, the check was deposited with PS Bank, San Juan Branch,
Metro Manila. Thus, the Court of Appeals correctly ruled:
Violations of B.P. 22 are categorized as transitory or continuing crimes. A suit on the check can be filed in any of the places where any of the
elements of the offense occurred, that is, where the check is drawn, issued, delivered or dishonored. x x x

The information at bar effectively charges San Juan as the place of drawing and issuing. The jurisdiction of courts in criminal cases is determined by
the allegations of the complaint or information. Although, the check was dishonored by the drawee, Associated Bank, in its Tarlac Branch, appellant
has drawn, issued and delivered it at RBSJ, San Juan. The place of issue and delivery was San Juan and knowledge, as an essential part of the
offense, was also overtly manifested in San Juan. There is no question that crimes committed in November, 1989 in San Juan are triable by the RTC
stationed in Pasig. In short both allegation and proof in this case sufficiently vest jurisdiction upon the RTC in Pasig City.19

The bone of contention in Rigor, therefore, was whether the prosecution had offered sufficient proof that the check drawn in violation of BP 22
was issued, delivered, dishonored or that knowledge of insufficiency of funds occurred in the Municipality of San Juan, thereby vesting jurisdiction
upon the RTC of Pasig City. Nowhere in the cited case, however, was it held, either expressly or impliedly, that the place where the check was
deposited is not the proper venue for actions involving violations of BP 22. It is true that the Court, in Rigor, acknowledged the fact that the check
was issued and delivered at the Rural Bank of San Juan while the same was deposited with the PS Bank of San Juan. But such differentiation cannot
be taken as basis sufficient enough to conclude that the court of the place of deposit cannot exercise jurisdiction over violations of BP 22. In the
absence, therefore, of any ground, jurisprudential or otherwise, to sustain the OSG’s arguments, the Court cannot take cognizance of a doctrine
that is simply inapplicable to the issue at hand.

In contrast, the ruling in Nieva, Jr. v. Court of Appeals20 cited by petitioner is more squarely on point with the instant case. In Nieva, the accused
delivered to Ramon Joven a post-dated check drawn against the Commercial Bank of Manila as payment for Joven’s dump truck. Said check was
deposited in the Angeles City Branch of the Bank of Philippine Islands. Joven was advised, however, that the Commercial Bank of Manila returned
the check for the reason that the account against which the check was drawn is a “closed account.” Consequently, the accused was charged with
violation of BP 22 before the RTC of Pampanga. On the contention of the accused that said court had no jurisdiction to try the case, the Court
categorically ruled:

As to petitioner’s contention that the Regional Trial Court of Pampanga has no jurisdiction to try the cases charged herein as none of the essential
elements thereof took place in Pampanga, suffice it to say that such contention has no basis. The evidence discloses that the check was deposited
and/or presented for encashment with the Angeles City Branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands. This fact clearly confers jurisdiction upon the
Regional Trial Court of Pampanga over the crimes of which petitioner is charged. It must be noted that violations of B.P. Blg. 22 are categorized as
transitory or continuing crimes and so is the crime of estafa. The rule is that a person charged with a transitory crime may be validly tried in any
municipality or territory where the offense was in part committed.21

In fact, in the more recent Yalong v. People,22 wherein the modes of appeal and rules of procedure were the issues at hand, the Court similarly
inferred:

Besides, even discounting the above discussed considerations, Yalong’s appeal still remains dismissible on the ground that, inter alia, the MTCC had
properly acquired jurisdiction over Criminal Case No. 45414. It is well-settled that violation of BP 22 cases is categorized as transitory or continuing
crimes, which means that the acts material and essential thereto occur in one municipality or territory, while some occur in another. Accordingly,
the court wherein any of the crime’s essential and material acts have been committed maintains jurisdiction to try the case; it being understood
that the first court taking cognizance of the same excludes the other. Stated differently, a person charged with a continuing or transitory crime may
be validly tried in any municipality or territory where the offense was in part committed. Applying these principles, a criminal case for violation of
BP 22 may be filed in any of the places where any of its elements occurred — in particular, the place where the check is drawn, issued, delivered, or
dishonored.

In this case, while it is undisputed that the subject check was drawn, issued, and delivered in Manila, records reveal that Ylagan presented the same
for deposit and encashment at the LBC Bank in Batangas City where she learned of its dishonor. As such, the MTCC [of Batangas City] correctly took
cognizance of Criminal Case No. 45414 as it had the territorial jurisdiction to try and resolve Guided by the foregoing pronouncements, there is no
denying, therefore, that the court of the place where the check was deposited or presented for encashment can be vested with jurisdiction to try
cases involving violations of BP 22. Thus, the fact that the check subject of the instant case was drawn, issued, and delivered in Pampanga does not
strip off the Makati MeTC of its jurisdiction over the instant case for it is undisputed that the subject check was deposited and presented for
encashment at the Makati Branch of Equitable PCIBank. The MeTC of Makati, therefore, correctly took cognizance of the instant case and rendered
its decision in the proper exercise of its jurisdiction.

It may be argued, however, that the instant petition ought to be dismissed outright due to certain procedural infirmities. Section 35(1), Chapter 12,
Title III, Book IV of the 1987 Administrative Code provides that the OSG shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and
instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. Specifically, it
shall represent the Government in all criminal proceedings before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.24 Thus, as a general rule, if a
criminal case is dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, the appeal on the criminal aspect of the case must be instituted by the
Solicitor General on behalf of the State.25

There have been instances, however, where the Court permitted an offended party to file an appeal without the intervention of the OSG, such as
when the offended party questions the civil aspect of a decision of a lower court,26 when there is denial of due process of law to the prosecution
and the State or its agents refuse to act on the case to the prejudice of the State and the private offended party,27 when there is grave error
committed by the judge, or when the interest of substantial justice so requires.28

Corollary, a judgment of acquittal may be assailed through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court showing that the lower
court, in acquitting the accused, committed not merely reversible errors of judgment, but also exercised grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction, or a denial of due process, thereby rendering the assailed judgment null and void. If there is grave abuse of discretion,
granting the aggrieved party’s prayer is not tantamount to putting the accused in double jeopardy,29 in violation of the general rule that the
prosecution cannot appeal or bring error proceedings from a judgment rendered in favor of the defendant in a criminal case. This is because a
judgment of acquittal is immediately final and executory, and the prosecution is barred from appealing lest the constitutional prohibition against
double jeopardy be violated.30

Thus, it may be argued that since the instant petition is one for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, not under Rule 65, and was
not filed by the OSG representing the interest of the Republic, the same should be summarily dismissed. The unique and special circumstances
attendant in the instant petition, however, justify an adjudication by the Court on the merits and not solely on technical grounds.

First of all, the Court stresses that the appellate court’s dismissal of the case is not an acquittal of respondent. Basic is the rule that a dismissal of a
case is different from an acquittal of the accused therein. Except in a dismissal based on a Demurrer to Evidence filed by the accused, or for
violation of the right of the accused to a speedy trial, the dismissal of a criminal case against the accused will not result in his acquittal.31 In the oft-
cited People v. Salico,32 the Court explained:
This argument or reasoning is predicated on a confusion of the legal concepts of dismissal and acquittal. Acquittal is always based on the merits,
that is, the defendant is acquitted because the evidence does not show that defendant’s guilt is beyond a reasonable doubt; but dismissal does not
decide the case on the merits or that the defendant is not guilty. Dismissal terminates the proceeding, either because the court is not a court of
competent jurisdiction, or the evidence does not show that the offense was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, or the
complaint or information is not valid or sufficient in form and substance, etc. The only case in which the word dismissal is commonly but not
correctly used, instead of the proper term acquittal, is when, after the prosecution has presented all its evidence, the defendant moves for the
dismissal and the court dismisses the case on the ground that the evidence fails to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty;
for in such case the dismissal is in reality an acquittal because the case is decided on the merits. If the prosecution fails to prove that the offense
was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court and the case is dismissed, the dismissal is not an acquittal, inasmuch as if it were so
the defendant could not be again prosecuted before the court of competent jurisdiction; and it is elemental that in such case, the defendant may
again be prosecuted for the same offense before a court of competent jurisdiction.33

Thus, when the appellate court herein dismissed the instant case on the ground that the MeTC lacked jurisdiction over the offense charged, it did
not decide the same on the merits, let alone resolve the issue of respondent’s guilt or innocence based on the evidence proffered by the
prosecution.34 The appellate court merely dismissed the case on the erroneous reasoning that none of the elements of BP 22 was committed
within the lower court’s jurisdiction, and not because of any finding that the evidence failed to show respondent’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Clearly, therefore, such dismissal did not operate as an acquittal, which, as previously discussed, may be repudiated only by a petition for certiorari
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court showing a grave abuse of discretion.

Thus, petitioner’s resort to Rule 45 of the Rules of Court cannot be struck down as improper. In a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45,
the parties raise only questions of law because the Court, in its exercise of its power of review, is not a trier of facts. There is a question of law
when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on certain state of facts and which does not call for an existence of the probative value of
the evidence presented by the parties-litigants.35 In De Vera v. Spouses Santiago,36 the Court categorically ruled that the issue of whether the
appellate court erred in annulling the RTC Decision for lack of jurisdiction is a question of law, to wit:

Undeniably, the issue whether the CA erred in annulling the RTC Decision for lack of jurisdiction is a question of law. The resolution of such issue
rests solely on what the law [B.P. Blg. 129, as amended] provides on the given set of circumstances as alleged in petitioners’ complaint for
reconveyance of ownership and possession with damages.

In the instant case, the lone issue invoked by petitioner is precisely “whether the Court of Appeals erred when it ruled that the Metropolitan Trial
Court of Makati City did not have jurisdiction over the case despite clear showing that the offense was committed within the jurisdiction of said
court.” Evidently, therefore, the instant petition was filed within the bounds of our procedural rules for the issue herein rests solely on what the
law provides on the given set of circumstances insofar as the commission of the crime of BP 22 is concerned. In criminal cases, the jurisdiction of
the court is determined by the averments of the complaint or Information, in relation to the law prevailing at the time of the filing of the complaint
or Information, and the penalty provided by law for the crime charged at the time of its commission.38 Thus, when a case involves a proper
interpretation of the rules and jurisprudence with respect to the jurisdiction of courts to entertain complaints filed therewith, it deals with a
question of law that can be properly brought to this Court under Rule 45.39

More importantly, moreover, since the dismissal of the instant case cannot be considered as an acquittal of respondent herein, he cannot likewise
claim that his constitutional right to protection against double jeopardy will be violated. In Paulin v. Hon. Gimenez,40 the Court held:

Jurisprudence on double jeopardy as well as the exceptions thereto which finds application to the case at bar has been laid down by this Court as
follows:

. . . However, an appeal by the prosecution from the order of dismissal (of the criminal case) by the trial court shall not constitute double jeopardy
if (1) the dismissal is made upon motion, or with the express consent of the defendant; (2) the dismissal is not an acquittal or based upon
consideration of the evidence or of the merits of the case; and (3) the question to be passed upon by the appellate court is purely legal so that
should the dismissal be found incorrect, the case would have to be remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings, to determine the guilt
or innocence of the defendant.41

A cursory review of the records would readily reveal the presence of the foregoing requisites. First, as early as the stage of respondent’s appeal of
the MeTC’s decision to the RTC, respondent had already been moving for the dismissal of the case alleging the ground of lack of jurisdiction.
Accordingly, the CA’s dismissal on said ground can rightly be considered to have been with respondent’s express consent. Second, as earlier
mentioned, the dismissal herein is not an acquittal or based upon a consideration of the merits. Third, the question raised in this case is based
purely on a question of law. In view therefore of the presence of all three requisites, the Court finds that petitioner’s appeal of the appellate court’s
dismissal cannot be barred by double jeopardy.

As to the issue of petitioner’s legal standing to file the instant petition in the absence of the OSG’s participation, the circumstances herein warrant
the Court’s consideration. In Narciso v. Sta. Romana-Cruz,42 the Court gave due regard to the ends of substantial justice by giving due course to a
petition filed before it by the private offended party, viz.

Citing the “ends of substantial justice,” People v. Calo, however, provided an exception to the above doctrines in this manner:

While the rule is, as held by the Court of Appeals, only the Solicitor General may bring or defend actions on behalf of the Republic of the
Philippines, or represent the People or the State in criminal proceedings pending in this Court and the Court of Appeals (Republic v. Partisala, 118
SCRA 320 [1982]), the ends of substantial justice would be better served, and the issues in this action could be determined in a more just, speedy
and inexpensive manner, by entertaining the petition at bar. As an offended party in a criminal case, private petitioner has sufficient personality
and a valid grievance against Judge Adao’s order granting bail to the alleged murderers of his (private petitioner’s) father.

xxxx

The ends of substantial justice indeed require the affirmation of the appellate court’s ruling on this point. Clearly, the assailed Order of Judge
Santiago was issued in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. A void order is no order at all. It cannot confer any right or be the
source of any relief. This Court is not merely a court of law; it is likewise a court of justice.

To rule otherwise would leave the private respondent without any recourse to rectify the public injustice brought about by the trial court’s Order,
leaving her with only the standing to file administrative charges for ignorance of the law against the judge and the prosecutor. A party cannot be
left without recourse to address a substantive issue in law.

In a similar manner, the Court finds that in the interest of substantial justice, it must give due course to the instant petition and consequently rule
on the merits of the same. The circumstances surrounding this case left petitioner with no other suitable recourse but to appeal the case herself.
Notonly was there an absence of support from the OSG, said government office also took a position in contrast to the rights and interests of
petitioner. Moreover, as discussed above, the arguments which ran counter to petitioner’s interest as well as the grounds used to support them
were simply inapplicable to the issue at hand. In fact, these erroneous contentions were adopted by the appellate court in their entirety, dismissing
the instant case in a manner not in accord with law and applicable jurisprudence. For the Court, now, to apply procedural rules in their strict and
literal sense by similarly dismissing, as the CA had, petitioner’s action poses serious consequences tantamount to a miscarriage of justice. To rule
that the accused can postpone criminal prosecution and delay the administration of justice at petitioner’s expense on the erroneous ground of lack
of jurisdiction would create a hazardous precedent and open loopholes in our criminal justice system.44

Indeed, the unique and exceptional circumstances in the instant case demand that the Court forego a rigid application of the technicalities under
the law so as to prevent petitioner from suffering a grave injustice. As disclosed by the records, petitioner had already fulfilled her end of the
agreement in giving respondent, as early as in the year 2003, construction materials amounting to half a million pesos and yet up until now, she has
not been paid therefor. In fact, after having sufficiently proven to the satisfaction of both the MeTC and the RTC her right allegedly violated by
respondent, the CA simply dismissed, albeit without prejudice to the refiling of the case with the appropriate court, her action for the incorrect
ground of wrong venue. On the mistaken reasoning that the MeTC of Makati City did not have jurisdiction over the instant case, the CA, without
providing any legal or jurisprudential basis, would have petitioner start from the very beginning and refile her complaint before the same court
which already had jurisdiction in the first place.

Thus, when there exists meritorious grounds to overlook strict procedural matters, the Court cannot turn a blind eye thereto lest the
administration of justice be derailed by an overly stringent application of the rules.45 Rules of procedure are meant to be tools to facilitate a fair
and orderly conduct of proceedings. Strict adherence thereto must not get in the way of achieving substantial justice. As long as their purpose is
sufficiently met and no violation of due process and fair play takes place, the rules should be liberally construed.46 Dismissal of appeals purely on
technical grounds is frowned upon where the policy of the court is to encourage hearings of appeals on their merits and the rules of procedure
ought not to be applied in a very rigid, technical sense; rules of procedure are used only to help secure, not override substantial justice. It is a far
better and more prudent course of action for the court to excuse a technical lapse and afford the parties a review of the case on appeal to attain
the ends of justice rather than dispose of the case on technicality and cause a grave injustice to the parties, giving a false impression of speedy
disposal of cases while actually resulting in more delay, if not a miscarriage of justice.47

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated January 18, 2011 and Resolution dated August 9, 2011 of
the Court Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CR No. 32723 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision dated February 23, 2009 and Order dated July 13, 2009, of
the Regional Trial Court in Criminal Case Nos.

08-1876-77, which affirmed the Joint Decision dated September 3, 2008 of the Metropolitan Trial Court in Criminal Case Nos. 337902-03 are hereby
REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

Velasco, Jr. (Chairperson), Del Castillo,** Villarama, Jr. and Reyes, JJ., concur.

Petition granted, judgment and resolution reversed and set aside.

Notes.—The rule against double jeopardy is not without exceptions, which are: (1) Where there has been deprivation of due process and where
there is a finding of a mistrial, or (2) Where there has been a grave abuse of discretion under exceptional circumstances. (Villareal vs. Aliga, 713
SCRA 52 [2014])

The act of denying support to a child under Section 5(e)(2) and (i) of Republic Act (RA) No. 9262 is a continuing offense, which started in 1995 but is
still ongoing at present. (Del Socorro vs. Van Wilsem, 744 SCRA 516 [2014])