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Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

SELWYN F. LAO AND G.R. No. 164791


EDGAR MANANSALA,
Petitioners, Present:

CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,


VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
DEL CASTILLO, and
PEREZ, JJ.

SPECIAL PLANS, INC., Promulgated:


Respondent. June 29, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

In Roman Law, compensation was the reciprocal extinction of claims between mutual debtors. In
the earlier stages of that system the practice did not exist as a matter of right but its application was
discretionary with the judex. Later the praetor applied it by incorporating into the formula, which he
prepared for the judex, an exception doli, that is, an authorization to take into account any circumstances
which would render inequitable the enforcement of the claim. The effect was to cause a dismissal of the
claim, however large, if a counterclaim, however small, was proven and the indirect result was to compel
the actor (plaintiff) to deduct the counterclaim in advance.[1]

Factual Antecedents
Petitioners Selwyn F. Lao (Lao) and Edgar Manansala (Manansala), together with Benjamin Jim
(Jim), entered into a Contract of Lease[2] with respondent Special Plans, Inc. (SPI) for the period January
16, 1993 to January 15, 1995 over SPIs building at No. 354 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. Petitioners
intended to use the premises for their karaoke and restaurant business known as Saporro Restaurant.

Upon expiration of the lease contract, it was renewed for a period of eight months at a rental rate
of P23,000.00 per month.

On June 3, 1996, SPI sent a Demand Letter[3] to the petitioners asking for full payment of rentals
in arrears.

Receiving no payment, SPI filed on July 23, 1996 a Complaint[4] for sum of money with the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Quezon City, claiming that Jim and petitioners have accumulated
unpaid rentals of P118,000.00 covering the period March 16, 1996 to August 16, 1996.

After service of summons, petitioners filed their Verified Answer[5] faulting SPI for making them
believe that it owns the leased property. They likewise asserted that SPI did not deliver the leased
premises in a condition fit for petitioners intended use. Thus, petitioners claimed that they were
constrained to incur expenses for necessary repairs as well as expenses for the repair of structural defects,
which SPI failed and refused to reimburse. Petitioners prayed that the complaint be dismissed and
judgment on their counterclaims be rendered ordering SPI to pay them the sum of P422,920.40 as actual
damages, as well as moral damages, attorneys fees and exemplary damages.
After the issues were joined, trial on the merits ensued. As culled from the MeTC Decision, the
following account was presented by SPI:

Delfin Cruz, president of Special Plans, Inc. testified that on January 7, 1993,
plaintiff-corporation and herein defendants entered into a two-year Contract of Lease
(Exhibit A inclusive, with sub-markings) starting January 16, 1993 until January 15, 1995,
involving a portion of said plaintiff-corporations office building which used to be the Bahay
Namin Food and Drinks at 354 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City. Defendants used the leased
premises for their karaoke and restaurant business known as Saporro Restaurant. Upon
[expiration of the lease], defendants, through defendant Lao requested in writing (Exhibit
B) for a renewal of the contract of lease, but plaintiff-corporation agreed only for an eight-
month extension of [the] contract with all its terms and conditions on a month-to-month
basis at a monthly rental of P23,000.00.

This witness further testified that while defendants paid the sum of P23,000.00 in
August 1996 they nevertheless failed to pay the agreed rental since March 16, 1996, thus
the accumulated unpaid rentals shot up to P118,000.00. Plaintiff-corporation demanded
upon defendants payment therefor in a letter dated June 3, 1996 (Exhibit D inclusive with
sub-markings).

On cross, Delfin Cruz admitted that plaintiff-corporation did not inform defendants
that it was not the owner of the leased premises during the signing of the contract of
lease and that said defendants did not inform him of the structural defects of the subject
premises, including the repair works conducted thereon.

Antonio San Mateo, vice-president for legal affairs of plaintiff-corporation, averred


that he made the demand to pay upon defendants for their failure to settle their agreed
monthly rentals starting March 16, 1996 to August 15, 1996; and that for the period
covering September 16, 1995 to October 15, 1995, defendants paid only P20,000.00,
hence, the balance of P3,000.00 (Exhibit
E).[6]

In their defense, Jim and petitioners proffered the following:

Meanwhile, defendant Benjamin Jim testified that he was one of the signatories
[to] the original contract of lease involving the subject premises whose facilities, including
the roof, were already dilapidated: thus prompting the group to renovate the same. After
a year of operation, Saporro lost so he decided to back out but defendant Lao convinced
him to stay with the group for another x x x year. But the business lost even more so he
finally called it quits with the consent of the group. He pulled out his audio-video
equipment, refrigerator, and air-conditioning unit on January 2, 1995, thirteen (13) days
before the expiration of the contract of lease. He further denied having signed the request
for the extension of the contract.

On cross, he stated that he did not sign documents for and in behalf of Saporro;
and, that he allowed defendant Lao and Victor San Luis to sign for the group.

Testifying for defendant Jim, Atty. Maria Rosario Carmela Nova declared that
defendant Jim sought her services on August 30, 1996 for the recovery of his money
invested at Mount Fuji and Saporro but Atty. Cesa, who acted as counsel for defendants
Lao and Manansala, refused to return the same in a letter-reply dated September 23,
1996 (Exhibit 1-Jim inclusive with sub-markings).

Defendant Selwyn Lao testified that the group was not able to inspect the leased
premises since Delfin Cruz had no key thereon during the signing of the contract of lease
on January 7, 1993. He stated that paragraph 6 of the said contract provides that the
LESSEE shall maintain the leased premises, including the parking lot, in good, clean and
sanitary condition and shall make all necessary repairs thereon at his own expense except
repairs of structural defects which shall be the responsibility of the LESSOR (Exhibit 1-Lao
and Manansala). When the group took possession of the leased premises on January 16,
1993, the equipment and furniture, among others, were found to be not in good
condition. The trusses, roof and ceiling of the premises were already dilapidated. Rain
seeped through the floor. When the group talked with Delfin Cruz about the condition of
the leased property, the latter would just tell the former not to worry about it.

The group conducted structural and necessary repairs thereon, thus incurring the
sum of P545,000.00 (Exhibit 2-Lao and Manansala inclusive, with sub-
markings), P125,000.00 of which was spent on structural defects, as follows:

Roofing repair - P 45,000.00 (Exhibit 2-A)


Ceiling repair - 50,000.00 (Exhibit 2-B)
Flooring repair - 20,000.00 (Exhibit 2-C)
Waterproofing - 10,000.00 (Exhibit 2-D)

Defendant Lao further testified that Delfin Cruz told him to proceed with the repair
work without informing him (Lao) that plaintiff-corporation was not the owner of the
leased premises. The witness added that the group paid the sum of P23,000.00 on July
21, 1996 for the period March 16, 1996 to April 15, 1996.

On cross, he averred that he sought the expertise of Gregorio Tamayo to repair


the premises for P545,000.00; and that he had a verbal authority to sign for and in behalf
of defendant Jim who took his audio-video equipment on January 2, 1996.

Presented at the witness stand to testify for defendant Lao and Manansala,
Gregorio Tamayo admitted that defendant Lao sought his services to undertake both
structural and finishing works on the subject property at a cost of P545,00.00.

On cross, he declared that he was the subcontractor of defendant Lao.[7]

Ruling of the Metropolitan Trial Court

On December 15, 1999,the MeTC rendered its Decision[8] finding that the unpaid rentals stood at
only P95,000.00. It also found that SPI is solely responsible for repairing the structural defects of the
leased premises, for which the petitioners spent P125,000.00. It held that even assuming that petitioners
did not notify SPI about the structural defects and the urgency to repair the same, Article 1663 of the Civil
Code allows the lessee to make urgent repairs in order to avoid an imminent danger at the lessors
cost. Hence, the MeTC dismissed the complaint for lack of cause of action. The dispositive portion of
the Decision reads:

Wherefore, in view of the foregoing considerations, let this case be, as it


is, hereby ordered DISMISSED for lack of cause of action. No costs.
The counterclaim and cross-claim of the defendants are likewise DENIED
for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.[9]

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

Aggrieved, SPI filed an appeal before the RTC of Quezon City. Both parties filed their respective
memoranda.[10] However, on November 24, 2000, counsel for SPI filed his Withdrawal of
Appearance[11] with the conformity of SPI, through its Vice President Antonio L. San Mateo.[12] In an
Order[13] dated January 5, 2001, the RTC granted the Withdrawal of Appearance and ordered that all
notices, orders and other court processes in the case be forwarded to SPI at its address at 354 Quezon
Avenue, Quezon City.

On March 12, 2001, the RTC rendered a Decision[14] affirming with modification the MeTC Decision
by ordering petitioners to pay SPI the amount of P95,000.00 for unpaid rentals.[15] The RTC disagreed
with the MeTC on the aspect of off-setting the amount allegedly spent by petitioners for the repairs of the
structural defects of subject property with their unpaid rentals. The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision
reads:

FROM THE GOING MILLIEU, premises considered, the lower courts (Branch 38)
decision dated December 15, 1999 is modified to the effect that Defendants Selwyn Lao
and Edgar Manansala are ordered to pay to the plaintiff-corporation the amount of Ninety
Five Thousand (P95,000.00) pesos for unpaid rentals. With respect to the other aspect of
the decision, there being no cogent reason to disturb the lower courts ruling, the same
stands.

SO ORDERED.[16]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On April 25, 2003, petitioners Lao and Manansala filed a Petition for Review with the CA.[17] Jim
did not join them. Hence, the appealed Decision of the RTC had become final insofar as Jim is concerned.
On June 30, 2003, the CA rendered a Decision[18] affirming in toto the RTC Decision. Petitioners
moved for reconsideration, but it was denied in a Resolution[19] dated August 9, 2004.

Issues

Petitioners do not take issue that the unpaid rentals amount to P95,000.00.[20]
Nonetheless, they assert that the amount of P545,000.00 they spent for repairs, P125,000.00 of which
was spent on structural repairs, should be judicially compensated against the said unpaid rentals
amounting to P95,000.00.[21] On the other hand, SPI avers that petitioners have not shown proof that
they spent these amounts.[22]

Our Ruling

The petition is without merit.

The Civil Code provides that compensation shall take place when two persons, in their own right,
are creditors and debtors of each other.[23] In order for compensation to be proper, it is necessary that:

1. Each one of the obligors be bound principally and that he be at the same time a
principal creditor of the other;

2. Both debts consist in a sum of money, or if the things due are consumable, they be of
the same kind, and also of the same quality if the latter has been stated;

3. The two debts are due:

4. The debts are liquidated and demandable;

5. Over neither of them be any retention or controversy, commenced by third parties and
communicated in due time to the debtor. [24]

Petitioners failed to properly discharge their burden to


show that the debts are liquidated and demandable.
Consequently, legal compensation is inapplicable.
A claim is liquidated when the amount and time of payment is fixed.[25] If
acknowledged by the debtor, although not in writing, the claim must be treated as liquidated.[26] When
the defendant, who has an unliquidated claim, sets it up by way of counterclaim, and a judgment is
rendered liquidating such claim, it can be compensated against the plaintiffs claim from the moment it is
liquidated by judgment.[27] We have restated this in Solinap v. Hon. Del Rosario[28] where we held that
compensation takes place only if both obligations are liquidated.

In addition, paragraph 6 of the contract of lease between the petitioners and the respondent
reads:

The lessee shall maintain the leased premises including the parking lot in good, clean and
sanitary condition and shall make all the necessary repairs thereon at their own
expense except repairs of the structural defects which shall be the responsibility of the
lessor. x x x (Emphasis supplied)

As the contract contrastingly treats necessary repairs, which are on the account of the lessee, and
repairs of structural defects, which are the responsibility of the lessor, the onus of the petitioners is two-
fold: (1) to establish the existence, amount and demandability of their claim; and (2) to show that these
expenses were incurred in the repair of structural defects.

Respecting these issues, petitioner Lao testified as follows:[29]

Q: When you took possession of the premises on January 16, 1993, were you able to
notice or discover anything about the structure of the premises, if any?
A: Being an engineer, when I took possession of the premises I have noticed the structure
of the premises specially the trusses and the roof and the ceiling were already
dilapidated.

Q: What else if any were you able to discover?


A: We discovered that when it is raining, water [seeped] through the floor and it caused
a lot of mess especially the carpet getting wet.

Q: What did you do next after having discovered the defects in the premises?
A: I tried to talk to Mr. Cruz regarding our position because based on our agreement the
rental is high because according to him we can move in immediately without so
much cost to our company thats why the 3 of us came up only with P120,000.00
for the immediate operation of the Karaoke but Mr. Cruz told us never mind, pag-
usapan na natin sa ibang araw yan.

Q: What happened next after you were [able] to talk to Mr. Cruz?
A: The group decided not to waste time because our rental expenses are already running
so, we decided that I will [be] the one to shoulder first the construction and repair
of the premises.

Q: How much did you spend and were you able to repair the defects?
A: I was able to repair the defects but it caused me a lot of time and money because
usually repairs cannot be controlled and my expenses reached more
than P500,000.00.

Q: I am showing to you a document can you please go over it and identify it if this is the
document?
A: This is the contract signed by me and the sub-contractor who was assigned to renovate
and prepare the whole structure.

Q: According to this document you submitted a quotation?


A: Yes, sir.

Q: And whose signature appears above the name Gregorio Tamayo?


A: The signature of an engineer/contractor, sir.

Q: Among the list of scope of work can you please specify the repairs done x x x.
A: It was indicated here that the roofing repair works costs around P45,000.00; the ceiling
repair works is P50,000.00; the floor repair works is P50,000.00; and the water
proofing works is P10,000.00.

Q: And what happened to the repairs?


A: It was completed, sir.

xxxx

Q: All in all how much did it cost you in Exh. 2?


A: More than P500,00.00 sir.

xxxx

Q: With respect to the roofing repair works, the ceiling repair works, the flooring repair
works and the water proofing works, all in all how much is total amount you
incurred in these repairs?
A: P 140,000.00 sir

xxxx

Q: And, what happened next after informing the lessor.


A: He told me that I being an engineer/contractor, just proceed with the repair works and
then he said, saka na lang pag-usapan yan maliit lang naman na bagay yan.

Q: Were you able to talk to him some other day with respect to these repairs?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: What happened when you were able to talk to Mr. Cruz?


A: He is shy on us sometime but dont talk to us, sir.

On the basis of Laos testimony, the MeTC found that the group conducted structural and
necessary repairs thereon, incurring the sum of P545,000.00, P125,000.00 of which was spent on
structural defects.

We are not persuaded. The evidence presented by the petitioners failed to establish by
preponderant evidence that they have indeed spent the amounts they claim. Based on the arguments
presented by both parties, we agree with the observation of the CA that:

Petitioners did not present any convincing evidence of proof which could support
their allegation on structural defects and the subsequent repairs made on the leased
premises, i.e. documentary evidence (receipts of payments made to subcontractor
Tamayo for the repairs made on the building) except for the self-serving testimony of
petitioner Lao. They (petitioners) merely submitted an estimated statement of account
which did not show that there were actual expenses made for the alleged structural
defects. Neither were they able to submit proofs of actual expenses made on the alleged
structural defects. Besides, it is contrary to human experience that a lessee would
continually renew the lease contract if the subject property were not in good condition
free from structural defects.

Further, the testimony of Tamayo, the alleged subcontractor who made the
repairs on the leased premises did not convince Us that there were repairs made thereat
since he failed to present any receipts of acknowledgments of payments which was
allegedly made to him.[30]

Further manifesting the present appeals lack of merit, petitioner Lao, as shown above in his
testimony, did not define the lessors and the lessees understanding of the demarcation between repairs
of structural defects and necessary repairs. Even petitioners second witness, Gregorio Tamayo, the
contractor who supposedly performed the repair work on the leased premises, did not credibly and
categorically testify on classification of structural repairs:
Q: Insofar as you are concerned, what do you mean by structural?
A: Because when I inspect the building

Q: In this room, what is the structural defect?


A: Rocks on the wall.

Q: It has something to do with the foundation?


A: Maybe, sir.[31] (Emphasis supplied)

The petitioners attempted to prove that they spent for the repair of the roofing, ceiling and
flooring, as well as for waterproofing. However, they failed to appreciate that, as per their lease contract,
only structural repairs are for the account of the lessor, herein respondent SPI. In which case, they
overlooked the need to establish that aforesaid repairs are structural in nature, in the context of their
earlier agreement. It would have been an altogether different matter if the lessor was informed of the
said structural repairs and he implicitly or expressly consented and agreed to take responsibility for the
said expenses. Such want of evidence on this respect is fatal to this appeal. Consequently, their claim
remains unliquidated and, legal compensation is inapplicable.

For failure to timely appeal the RTC Decision before the


CA and subsequently the latters Decision before this
Court, SPI can no longer ask for affirmative reliefs.

In its Memorandum, SPI prays that petitioners be ordered to pay 3% interest monthly as
stipulated in the Contract for Lease, plus attorneys fees. However, as SPI did not appeal the RTC Decision
before the appellate court, we cannot act on the same.
It is well-settled that a party who has not appealed from a Decision cannot seek any relief other
than what is provided in the judgment appealed from.[32] SPI did not appeal, thus it cannot obtain from
the appellate court any affirmative relief other than those granted in the Decision of the court below.[33] It
can only advance any argument that it may deem necessary to defeat petitioners claim or to uphold the
Decision that is being disputed, and it can assign errors in its brief if such is required to strengthen the
views expressed by the court a quo.[34] These assigned errors, in turn, may be considered by the appellate
court solely to maintain the appealed decision on other grounds, but not for the purpose of reversing or
modifying the judgment in SPI's favor and giving it other reliefs.[35]
We find on record that SPIs counsel, with the concurrence of its Vice President, withdrew his
appearance on November 24, 2000. The RTC granted said withdrawal in its Order dated January 5,
2001. Subsequently, the case was decided by the RTC and appealed by the petitioners to the CA. In due
time, the CA rendered judgment on the same and petitioners filed this Petition for Review on Certiorari. SPI
did not interpose an appeal from the RTC Decision nor from the CA Decision. After more than six years,
on September 13, 2007, a new law firm entered its appearance as counsel of SPI.[36] SPI now claims that
it was not able to appeal the Decision of the RTC and subsequently of the CA which failed to impose 3%
monthly interest as provided in the Contract of Lease because it never received said Decisions, considering
that its counsel has migrated to another country and that petitioners misled the courts about SPIs
address.[37]

We are not persuaded. SPI failed to exercise due diligence in keeping itself updated on the
developments of the case. That its erstwhile counsel has not communicated for a long period of time and
has migrated abroad, should have cautioned it that something was amiss with the case. By that time, SPI
should have initiated moves to locate its counsel or to inquire from the court on the progress of the case. It
should have ensured that its address on record with the court is updated and current. Thus, it has been
equally stressed that litigants represented by counsel should not expect that all they need to do is sit back,
relax and await the outcome of the case.[38] Instead, they should give the necessary assistance to their
counsel and exercise due diligence to monitor the status of the case for what is at stake is ultimately their
interest.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The June 30, 2003 Decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 76631 ordering the petitioners to pay P95,000.00 as unpaid rentals and the August 9,
2004 Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion
of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

[1]
12 C.J. 224.
[2]
Rollo, pp. 547-552.
[3]
Id. at 553.
[4]
Id. at 70-73.
[5]
Id. at 74-95.
[6]
Id. at 96-97.
[7]
Id. at 97-99.
[8]
Id. at 96-101; penned by Presiding Judge Augustus C. Diaz, Pairing Judge for MeTC Branch
38.
[9]
Id. at 101.
[10]
CA rollo, p. 78-97.
[11]
Id. at 98-99.
[12]
Id. at 98.
[13]
Rollo, 314.
[14]
Id. at 560-562; penned by Judge Percival Mandap Lopez.
[15]
Id. at 562.
[16]
Id.
[17]
Id. at 2.
[18]
Id. at 108-116; penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes and concurred in by Associate
Justices Salvador J. Valdez, Jr. and Danilo B. Pine.
[19]
Id. at 162-163.
[20]
CA rollo, p. 487.
[21]
Id. at 487-486.
[22]
Id. at 524.
[23]
CIVIL CODE, Art. 1278.
[24]
CIVIL CODE, Art. 1279.
[25]
Sentence Spanish Supr. Trib. March 21, 1898, 83 Jur. Civ. 679.
[26]
Ogden v. Cain, 5 La. Ann. 160; Reynaud v. His Creditors, 4 Rob. (La.) 514.
[27]
TOLENTINO, CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES VOL. IV (1973 edition), 354
citing Manresa 409-410.
[28]
208 Phil. 561, 565 (1983).
[29]
Rollo, p. 107-115.
[30]
Id. at 37.
[31]
Id. at 532-533.
[32]
Solidbank Corp. v. Court of Appeals, 456 Phil. 879, 887 (2003).
[33]
Quezon Development Bank v. Court of Appeals, 360 Phil. 392, 399 (1998).
[34]
Spouses Buot v. Court of Appeals, 410 Phil. 183, 200 (2001).
[35]
Spouses Custodio v. Court of Appeals, 323 Phil. 575, 584 (1996).
[36]
Rollo at 430-433.
[37]
Id. at 464.
[38]
Friend v. Union Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. 165767, November 29, 2005, 476 SCRA 453,
549.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 185209
Appellee,

Present:
- versus -
CORONA, C. J., Chairperson,
VELASCO, JR.,
RENE BARON y TANGAROCAN, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
Appellant. DEL CASTILLO, and
PEREZ, JJ.
REY VILLATIMA and alias
DEDONG BARGO, Promulgated:
Accused. June 28, 2010
x--------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Circumstantial evidence is sufficient to produce a conviction that the appellant conspired with his
co-accused in committing the crime of robbery with homicide. His claim that he acted under the impulse
of uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury could not be sustained because there was no genuine,
imminent, and reasonable threat, preventing his escape that compelled him to take part in the commission
of the offense charged.

Factual Antecedents

On July 19, 1995, an Information[1] was filed before the Regional Trial Court of Cadiz City, Negros
Occidental, Branch 60, charging Rene Baron y Tangarocan (appellant), Rey Villatima (Villatima), and alias
Dedong Bargo (Bargo) with the special complex crime of robbery with homicide committed against Juanito
Berallo (Berallo). The Information contained the following accusatory allegations:

That on or about 9 oclock in the evening of June 28, 1995 at Hda. Sta. Ana, Brgy.
Burgos, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and helping one
another with evident premeditation and treachery and with intent to kill, did then and
there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously assault, attack and stab to death one Juanito
Berallo in order to rob, steal and take away the following:

1) sidecar of the tricycle which costs P16,000.00;


2) motorcycle described as Kawasaki HDX colored black with Engine No. G7E-
088086 and Chassis No. HDX-849776 which is worth P103,536.00;
3) wallet with cash money of P1,250.00;
4) wrist watch and ring worth P3,800.00.

and inflicting upon the person of Juanito Berallo the following injuries, to wit:
1. Gaping incised wound, shallow at the extremeties and deeper at the middle
portion, 7 cms. long, from right lateral aspect of the neck going slightly
downward and to the left of anterior neck.
2. Stabbed wound, 2 cm. long, 14 cm. deep, directed slightly upward and to the
right, located on the upper chest below wound # 1.
3. Stabbed wound, 2 cm. long, 12 cm. deep, directed to the right, located at the
left chest, level of 3rd rib.
4. Stabbed wound, 2 cm. long 20 cm. deep, directed slightly downward and to
the left, located at the middle of the chest, level of 5th rib.
5. Incised wound 1 cm long, right cheek.
6. Stabbed wound, 2 cm. long, 6 cm. deep, directed downward located at the
medial aspect of the upper back, right.
7. Stabbed wound, 2 cm. long, 10 cm. deep, located at the upper outer quadrant
of the back, right.
8. Incised wound, 2 cm. long, located at the middle of the upper quadrant of
back, right.
9. Stabbed wound, 2 cm. long, 4 cm. deep, directed downward located at the
medial aspect of upper inner quadrant of back, left.
10. Stabbed wound, 2 cm. long, 5 cm deep, directed downward, located at the
middle of upper quadrant of back, left.
11. Incised wound, 2 cm long, located 2 cm to the left of wound # 10.
12. Stabbed wound, 2 cm. long, 7 cm. deep, directed downward located at the
middle of lower back, left.
13. Incised wound, 6 cm. long, distal third left forearm.
14. Incised wound, 3 cm. long palmar surface left hand.
15. Incised wound, 5 cm. long palmar surface left hand, 2 cm. below wound #
13.

CAUSE OF DEATH: Severe hemorrhage due to Multiple Stabbed wounds,

which directly caused the death of the victim Juanito Berallo, to the damage and prejudice
of the heirs of the victim in the amount, to wit:

P 50, 000.00 - as indemnity for the death of the victim.


P 150, 000.00 - as indemnity for the loss of earning capacity, or such amount to
be fixed by the court.
ACT CONTRARY TO LAW.

Only the appellant was arrested. Villatima and Bargo remain at-large to date. Appellant entered a
plea of not guilty when arraigned. After the termination of the pre-trial conference, trial ensued.
The Prosecutions Version

Culled from the evidence presented by the prosecution, the case against the appellant is as
follows:

On June 28, 1995, at around 8:30 in the evening, Ernesto Joquino, Jr. (Joquino), a tricycle driver,
was having a conversation with Canni Ballesteros (Ballesteros) in front of Julies Bakeshop at Magsaysay
St., Cadiz City. Berallo arrived and parked his tricycle in front of the bakeshop. The appellant approached
Berallo and asked if he could take him and his companions to Hacienda Caridad for P30.00. When Berallo
agreed, the appellant called Villatima, then wearing a fatigue jacket, and Bargo. They then rode Berallos
tricycle.

Pacita Caratao, a dressmaker, was also in Julies Bakeshop at around the same time Joquino and
Ballesteros were in front of the premises. She noticed Berallo sitting on a parked tricycle while the appellant
was seated behind him. After buying bread, she approached Berallo and asked if he was going home to
Lag-asan, hoping that she could ride with him. However, Berallo replied that he still had to ferry
passengers. She thus decided to cross the street and take a passenger jeep. While inside the jeep, she
saw two more persons boarding Berallos tricycle.

On June 29, 1995, SPO2 Jude dela Rama received a report of a robbery with homicide incident. Together
with other policemen, he proceeded to Hacienda Sta. Ana, Cadiz City, where he saw Berallo lying dead in
a sugarcane plantation about 20 meters away from the highway. They also noticed several traces of
footprints near Berallos body and a tricycle sidecar in a canal beside the Martesan Bridge. Beside the
sidecar was a fatigue jacket.

Dr. Merle Jane B. Regalado conducted the post-mortem examination on the cadaver of Berallo. She found
that the victim sustained 15 stab wounds and died of severe hemorrhage due to multiple stab
wounds. Five of them were considered as fatal and caused the immediate death of Berallo. The wounds
also indicated that they could have been inflicted by more than one person.

The follow-up investigation of the police team identified the appellant as one of the suspects. After having
been apprised of his rights, appellant admitted that he and his co-accused took Berallos tricycle and, after
detaching the motorcycle from the sidecar, brought the motorcycle to Barangay Oringao, Kabankalan,
Negros Occidental and left the same at the house of Villatimas aunt, Natividad Camparicio (Natividad).
Natividad denied knowledge of the incident but admitted that her nephew Villatima, together with the
appellant, and another companion, were the ones who brought the motorcycle to her house in
Kabankalan.

Nemia Berallo (Nemia) identified the motorcycle recovered from the house of Natividad as the one stolen
from her deceased husband. She also testified on the sum of money and the value of the personal
property stolen from her husband. She allegedly spent the sum of P2,400.00 for the purchase of the burial
lot.
The Version of the Defense

Appellant denied any participation in the crime. He claimed that on June 28, 1995, at around 7 oclock in
the evening, he bought rice and other necessities for his family and proceeded to the public transport
terminal to get a ride home. A tricycle with two passengers passed by and its driver inquired if he wanted
a ride up to Segundo Diez. He boarded the tricycle and told the driver that he would alight at Canibugan,
but the driver requested him to accompany them up to Segundo Diez. He agreed out of concern for the
safety of the driver. Upon reaching Bangga Doldol, however, the passengers announced a hold-up. Armed
with guns, the passengers told him and the driver not to make any wrong move, or they would be
killed. Thereafter, the passengers tied the hands of the driver and dragged him towards the sugarcane
fields. He no longer knew what happened to the driver since he remained in the tricycle. However, he
suspected that the driver was killed by the two passengers.

Thereafter, the passengers went to Taytay Martesan and detached the sidecar of the tricycle. They then
took him to a house at Barangay Oringao and did not allow him to leave the premises.The following
morning, they returned to Cadiz City. The two passengers even accompanied him to his house and
threatened him and his wife at gunpoint not to report the incident to the police authorities.

On June 30, 1995, at around 10:00 oclock in the evening, policemen came to his house and asked where
the motorcycle was taken. He told them of the location of the vehicle and insisted that he had nothing to
do with the incident. He stressed that the two passengers whose names he did not know, were responsible
for the crime committed.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court


On February 12, 2002, the trial court rendered a Decision[2] finding the appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the complex crime of robbery with homicide. It disposed as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Court finds accused RENE BARON Y
TANGAROCAN (detained) GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of
Robbery with Homicide as charged in the information and there being the attendance of
the aggravating circumstance of treachery hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of
DEATH.

The accused is further ordered to pay the heirs of the victim the amount
of P50,000.00 by way of indemnity for the death of the victim, Juanito Berallo and the
amount of P5,050.00 for the cash and the value of the wrist watch and ring of the victim
plus the amount of P2,400.00 for the purchase of the burial lot by way of reparation and
in addition the amount of P100,000.00 as moral damages and P50,000.00 as exemplary
damages. The sidecar and the motorcycle are hereby ordered returned to the heirs of the
victim.

The accused is further ordered to be immediately committed to the National


Penitentiary for service of his sentence.

The Clerk of Court of this Court is hereby ordered to immediately forward the
records of this case together with the Decision of this Court to the Supreme Court for
automatic review.

The case against Rey Villatima and alias Dedong Bargo [both of whom are] at-
large is hereby ordered archived and [to] be immediately revived upon their arrest.

Cost against accused Rene Baron.

SO ORDERED.[3]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Before the appellate court, appellant alleged that the trial court erred in finding him guilty as charged and
in not appreciating in his favor the exempting circumstance of irresistible force and/or uncontrollable fear
of an equal or greater injury. However, the same was disregarded by the CA holding that all the requisites
for said circumstances were lacking. The appellate court found that the alleged threat, if at all, was not
real or imminent. Appellant had every opportunity to escape but did not take advantage of the
same. Instead, he waited inside the tricycle as if he was one of the malefactors. The dispositive portion of
the CA Decision[4] reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, the APPEAL is DISMISSED. The Decision dated February 12, 2002,
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, Branch 60, in Criminal
Case No. 1675-C finding accused-appellant Rene Baron y Tangarocan guilty of robbery
with homicide is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION reducing the death penalty to reclusion
perpetua without parole conformably with R.A. 9346 and reducing the award of moral
damages from P100,000.00 to P50,000.00 and exemplary damages from P50,000.00
to P25,000.00.

Costs against accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.

Issues

Still aggrieved, the appellant comes to us for a final review of his case. In his brief, he assigns the following
correlated errors:

I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FAILING TO APPRECIATE THE EXEMPTING
CIRCUMSTANCES OF IRRESISTABLE FORCE AND/OR UNCONTROLLABLE FEAR OF AN
EQUAL OR GREATER INJURY.

II
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME CHARGED.[5]

Our Ruling

The appeal is unmeritorious.


Robbery with homicide exists when a homicide is committed either by reason, or on occasion, of
the robbery. To sustain a conviction for robbery with homicide, the prosecution must prove the following
elements: (1) the taking of personal property belonging to another; (2) with intent to gain; (3) with the
use of violence or intimidation against a person; and (4) on the occasion or by reason of the robbery, the
crime of homicide, as used in the generic sense, was committed. A conviction needs certainty that the
robbery is the central purpose and objective of the malefactor and the killing is merely incidental to the
robbery. The intent to rob must precede the taking of human life but the killing may occur before, during
or after the robbery.[6]

In this case, the prosecution successfully adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt that the real
intention of the appellant and his companions was to rob the victim. The appellant and his companions
boarded the tricycle of the victim pretending to be passengers. Midway to their destination, one of the
accused declared a hold-up and at gun point, tied the hands of the victim and brought him towards the
sugarcane field where he was stabbed to death. The victim was divested of his wallet
containing P1,250.00, a wrist watch and ring. Emerging from the sugarcane plantation, they boarded the
tricycle of the victim, detached the sidecar and dumped the same in a canal beside
the Martesan Bridge with the fatigue jacket of one of the accused. They proceeded to Barangay Oringao,
Kabankalan and hid the motorcycle in the house of Villatimas aunt, Natividad.

Concededly, there is no direct evidence proving that the appellant conspired and participated in
committing the crime. However, his complicity may be proved by circumstantial evidence, which consists
of proof of collateral facts and circumstances from which the existence of the main fact may be inferred
according to reason and common experience.[7]Circumstantial evidence is sufficient to sustain conviction
if: (a) there is more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived have been
established; (c) the combination of all circumstances is such as to warrant a finding of guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.[8] A judgment of conviction based on circumstantial evidence can be sustained when
the circumstances proved form an unbroken chain that results to a fair and reasonable conclusion pointing
to the accused, to the exclusion of all others, as the perpetrator.[9]

In this case, the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution leads to the inescapable
conclusion that the appellant and his co-accused conspired to commit robbery with homicide. When
considered together, the circumstances point to them and no one else as the culprits. We thus agree with
the observation of the trial court that:

A careful examination of the records of this case reveals, [that] no eye witness was
presented by the prosecution pointing to the three accused to be actually responsible in
the perpetration of the crime charged except the extra-judicial narration of the accused
Rene Baron but who also tried to exculpate himself from the commission of the crime by
denying his [complicity] in the crime.

Despite this finding however, this Court found from the records of this case, numerous
and cumulative material circumstantial evidence from which one can derive a logical and
necessary inference clearly showing the three accused to be responsible for the crime
charged and these are the following; to wit:

1. The fact that at about 8:30 in the evening of June 28, 1995 witness Ernesto
Joquino, Jr. while in front of Julies Bakeshop saw the victim Juanito Berallo
[park] the latters tricycle in front of the bakeshop when accused Rene Baron
hired the tricycle of the victim in going to Hda. Caridad and whose
companions were Rey Villatima and Dedong Bargo (TSN-Tan, January 18,
1996, pp. 6-10).Thus, the excerpts of the Transcript of the Stenographic
Notes has this to reveal in vivid fashion, to wit:
Q. Mr. Joquino, on June 28, 1995 at about 8:30 in the evening where were
you?
A. I was in front of Julies Bakeshop.

Q. Where is this Julies Bakeshop located x x x?


A. At Magsaysay Street, Cadiz City.

Q. What were you doing at Julies Bakeshop at that particular date and time?
A. I was x x x having a conversation with Canni Ballesteros.

Q. While you were x x x in front of Julies Bakeshop, was there anything that
transpired?
A. Yes, maam.

Q. Can you tell us what was that?


A. I saw Juanito Berallo park his tricycle in front of Julies Bakeshop.

Q. When you saw Juanito Berallo park his tricycle x x x in front of Julies
Bakeshop, what transpired after that?
A. Rene Baron approached Juanito Berallo and asked him if he can conduct
Rene Baron to Hda. Caridad.

Q. By the way, do you know Rene Baron before June 28, 1995?
A. Yes, maam, I know him because we are all drivers of the tricycle.

Q. What about this Juanito Berallo, do you know him before June 28, 1995?
A. Yes maam.

Q. Why do you know him?


A. Because he ran as councilor in Cadiz City.

Q. So going back to the incident where you said Rene Baron approached
Juanito Berallo and asked Berallo if the latter would conduct him to Hda.
Caridad, what was the answer of Juanito Berallo to Rene Baron?
A. Juanito Berallo asked Rene Baron how much he will pay [to] him and then
Rene Baron said that he will pay Juanito Berallo the amount of P30.00
and then again Juanito Berallo asked Rene Baron how many x x x will
ride on the tricycle and Rene Baron said that there were three of them.

Q. By the way, how far were you from where Juanito Berallo and Rene Baron
were talking?
A. From here up there. (Witness pointed to a distance of about four (4)
meters.)

Q. After Juanito Berallo agreed with Rene Baron and his companions to
conduct them to Hda. Caridad, what did Rene Baron do if there was any?
A. Rene Baron called his companions who were just across the street.
Q. Were you able to recognize x x x the two companions whom Rene Baron
called from across the street?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. And who were they if you know?


A. Rey Villatima and Dedong Bargo.

(TSN-Tan, January 18, 1996, pp. 6-10)

2. The fact the Rey Villatima was wearing a fatigue jacket when the latter boarded
the tricycle of the victim and proceeded to Hda. Caridad (ibid, p. 12) and it
was the same fatigue jacket recovered by the police from the sidecar of the
tricycle at the scene of the crime and this was the last time that the victim
was seen alive;

3. The fact that witness Pacita Caratao corroborated the testimony of Ernesto
Joquino, Jr. and Berallo sitting on the latters tricycle parked near Julies
Bakeshop and saw Rene Baron sitting behind Juanito Berallo and the witness
even asked the former if he will be going to Lag-asan to which the victim
Juanito Berallo refused because he has some passengers to be conducted
(TSN-Tan, March 13, 1997, pp. 3-4) and has referred to the accused Rene
Baron and his two companions (TSN-Tan, March 13, 1997, pp. 4-5) as his
passengers;

4. The fact that the during the police investigation witness SPO2 Jude de la Rama
found the dead body of the victim inside the sugarcane plantation in Hda.
Sta. Ana and found many traces of footsteps inside the sugarcane fields (TSN-
Tan, July 8, 1997, p. 4) indicating that more than one person conspired and
co-operated with each other in killing the victim;

5. The fact that the witness De la Rama found the sidecar of the tricycle beside
the Martisan Bridge which is just beside the scene of the incident and also
beside the sidecar of the tricycle they found a fatigue jacket and has
recovered inside its pocket a used soap (ibid, p. 5);

6. The fact that when the police officers invited Rene Baron for interview, Rene
Baron pointed to his co-accused, Rey Villatima as the one who was wearing
the fatigue jacket the police officers recovered as well as had named his
(Baron) other companion as alias Dedong Bargo (ibid, p. 7);

7. The fact that after the three accused had detached the motorcycle from its
sidecar, Rey Villatima was pointed to by the accused Rene Baron as the one
who drove it while he (Rene Baron) and Dedong Bargo rode behind and all
of them immediately proceeded to the house of the aunt of Rey Villatima in
Brgy. Oringao, Kabankalan, Negros Occidental (ibid);
8. The fact that it was accused Rene Baron who had guided the police
investigators to Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, a city in the southern
portion of Negros Occidental which is about 150 kilometers away from Cadiz
City in the north, the scene of the crime; and with the cooperation of the Chief
of Police of the former place proceeded to the house of a certain Natividad
Camparicio, the aunt of accused Rey Villatima (ibid, pp. 7-8);

9. The fact that Natividad Camparicio affirmed that the stolen motorcycle was
brought to her house at around 1:15 in the morning of July 1, 1995 by her
nephew, Rey Villatima together with the latters companions and pinpointed
to accused Rene Baron as one of them (ibid, p. 9);

10. The fact that prosecution witness, Police Insp. Eduardo Berena also confirmed
they were able to recover the stolen motorcycle which was kept in the ground
floor of the house of Mrs. Camparicio (TSN-Guanzon, October 2, 1997, pp. 8-
15);

11. The fact that the stolen motorcycle was positively identified by witness Nemia
Berallo as the same motorcycle driven, owned and registered in the name of
the victim, Juanito Berallo (TSN-Guanzon, October 2, 1997, pp. 9-10);

12. The fact that accused Rene Baron admitted during his testimony that he rode
in the tricycle driven by the victim together with the two passengers in going
to Segundo Diez but reached only the area of Bangga Doldol where the actual
robbery and killing took place (TSN-Tan, May 11, 1999, pp. 9-12);

13. The fact that when the two hold-up men brought the driver inside the
sugarcane field, accused Rene Baron who was left on the road outside the
sugarcane field (ibid, p. 11) did nothing and instead of escaping and seeking
help, accused Rene Baron leisurely stayed in the tricycle as if everything [was]
normal and nothing [happened], thus indicating that he (Baron) [was] in
conspiracy to rob and kill the victim since as the facts are depicted x x x Rene
Baron would clearly appear that he (Baron) acted as a look out while the two
companions were killing the victim and to make matters worse, he (Baron)
even went along with the two other accused up to Oringao, Kabankalan City
where they hid the stolen motorcycle (ibid, pp. 12-13);

14. The fact that the accused Baron was left unharmed by the killers of the victim
in spite of the fact that he (Baron) is a potential witness to the serious crime
of Robbery with Homicide; and when they were in Oringao, ate breakfast
with them then rode a passenger jeep with many passengers; alighted in
Kabankalan proper from Barangay Oringao; stood and waited in a public
place at the Ceres Bus Terminal; rode a public transportation bus to Bacolod
City for three (3) hours then alighted in Libertad Street in Bacolod City; and
again rode a passenger jeepney going to a place known as Shopping to take
another passenger bus in going back to Cadiz City (ibid, pp. 21-30).
From [this] series of proven circumstantial evidence, the inescapable and natural
conclusion is the three accused were in conspiracy with one another to kill the victim and
cart away the motorcycle as the combination of these numerous circumstantial evidence
[is] enough to produce the strong moral certainty from an unbiased and [unprejudiced]
mind to safely conclude that no other persons but the three accused conspired to
perpetrate the crime as clearly the series of events indubitably [shows] that there was
unity of purpose, concurrence of will, and that they all acted in concert towards the same
end, the accused being together with a group when they rode the tricycle of the victim;
all of them were together at the scene of the crime, they all rode in the same stolen
motorcycle going to Barangay Oringao, Kabankalan City; all of them were together in
hiding the stolen motorcycle in the house of Natividad Camparicio; and they were together
as a group going to Cadiz City from Kabankalan City passing [through] and stopping [at]
various cities and municipalities.[10]

The concerted manner in which the appellant and his companions perpetrated the crime showed
beyond reasonable doubt the presence of conspiracy. When a homicide takes place by reason of or on
the occasion of the robbery, all those who took part shall be guilty of the special complex crime of robbery
with homicide whether they actually participated in the killing, unless there is proof that there was an
endeavor to prevent the killing.[11] There was no evidence adduced in this case that the appellant
attempted to prevent the killing. Thus, regardless of the acts individually performed by the appellant and
his co-accused, and applying the basic principle in conspiracy that the act of one is the act of all, the
appellant is guilty as a co-conspirator. As a result, the criminal liabilities of the appellant and his co-accused
are one and the same.[12]

The appellants attempt to evade criminal liability by insisting that he acted under the impulse of
an uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury fails to impress. To avail of this exempting
circumstance, the evidence must establish: (1) the existence of an uncontrollable fear; (2) that the fear
must be real and imminent; and (3) the fear of an injury is greater than or at least equal to that
committed.[13] A threat of future injury is insufficient. The compulsion must be of such a character as to
leave no opportunity for the accused to escape.[14]

We find nothing in the records to substantiate appellants insistence that he was under duress
from his co-accused in participating in the crime. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary.Villatima and
Bargo dragged the victim towards the sugarcane field and left the appellant inside the tricycle that was
parked by the roadside. While all alone, he had every opportunity to escape since he was no longer
subjected to a real, imminent or reasonable fear. Surprisingly, he opted to wait for his co-accused to return
and even rode with them to Kabankalan, Negros Occidental to hide the victims motorcycle in the house
of Villatimas aunt.
The appellant had other opportunities to escape since he traveled with his co-accused for more
than 10 hours and passed several transportation terminals. However, he never tried to escape or at least
request for assistance from the people around him.

Robbery with Homicide is a single indivisible crime punishable with reclusion perpetua to death under
paragraph 1, Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code. We find that the trial court correctly appreciated the
aggravating circumstance of treachery, which exists when the offender commits any of the crimes against
persons, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof that tend directly and specifically
to insure its execution without risk to himself arising from the defense that the offended party might
make.[15] The evidence points that one of the co-conspirators tied the hands of the victim before dragging
him to the sugarcane field.[16] Thus, he was unable to defend and protect himself against his malefactors
who were superior in number and armed with knives and guns.

As thoroughly discussed in People v. Escote, Jr.,[17] treachery is not a qualifying circumstance but a generic
aggravating circumstance to robbery with homicide although said crime is classified as a crime against
property and a single and indivisible crime.[18] Corollarily, Article 62, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code
provides that in diminishing or increasing the penalty for a crime, aggravating circumstances shall be taken
into account. However, aggravating circumstances which in themselves constitute a crime especially
punishable by law or which are included by the law in defining a crime and prescribing a penalty therefor
shall not be taken into account for the purpose of increasing the penalty.[19] In the case at bar, treachery
is not an element of robbery with homicide.[20] Neither is it inherent in the crime of robbery with
homicide.[21] As such, treachery may be properly considered in increasing the penalty for crime.

In this case, the presence of treachery as a generic aggravating circumstance would have merited the
imposition of the death penalty. However, in view of the subsequent passage of Republic Act (RA) No.
9346, entitled An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of the Death Penalty in the Philippines, we are mandated
to impose on the appellant the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole.[22]

In line with current jurisprudence, if the death penalty would have been imposed if not for the proscription
in RA 9346, the civil indemnity for the victim shall be P75,000.00.[23] As compensatory damages, the award
of P2,400.00 for the burial lot of the victim must be deleted since this expense was not supported by
receipts.[24] However, the heirs are entitled to an award of temperate damages in the sum
of P25,000.00.[25] The existence of one aggravating circumstance merits the award of exemplary damages
under Article 2230 of the New Civil Code. Thus, the award of exemplary damages is proper. However, it
must be increased from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00.[26] Moral damages must also be increased
from P25,000.00 to P75,000.00.[27]Moreover, the appellant is ordered to return the stolen items that were
not recovered. Should this no longer be possible, there must be restitution in the total amount
of P5,050.00 representing the cash contained in the victims wallet, as well as the value of the wrist watch,
the ring, the motorcycle and sidecar taken by the appellant and his co-accused.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 00638 finding appellant guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of Robbery with Homicide and sentencing him to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. The appellant is hereby ordered
to PAY the heirs of the victim P75,000.00 as civil indemnity; P75,000.00 as moral damages,
and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages. Actual damages is DELETED, and in lieu thereof, appellant is
ordered to pay temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00.The appellant is also ordered to return
the cash of P5,050.00 taken from the victims wallet and the other pieces of personal property also taken
but not recovered, more particularly his wrist watch, ring, his Kawasaki HDX motorcycle and its
sidecar. Should restitution be no longer possible, the appellant must pay the equivalent value of the
unreturned items.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice
CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion
of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

[1]
Records, pp. 1-3.
[2]
Id. at 202-221; penned by Executive Judge Renato D. Munez.
[3]
Id. at 221.
[4]
CA rollo, pp. 146-166; penned by Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier and concurred in by
Associate Justices Pampio A. Abarintos and Francisco P. Acosta.
[5]
Id. at 61.
[6]
People v. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 168173, December 24, 2008, 575 SCRA 412, 436.
[7]
People v. Darilay, 465 Phil. 747, 767 (2004).
[8]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 133, Section 4.
[9]
People v. Pascual, G.R. No. 172326, January 19, 2009, 576 SCRA 242, 252.
[10]
Records, pp. 212-217.
[11]
People v. Reyes, 369 Phil. 61, 80 (1999).
[12]
Supra note 7.
[13]
REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 12(6); People v. Petenia, 227 Phil. 337, 345 (1986).
[14]
People v. Palencia, 162 Phil. 695, 711 (1976).
[15]
REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 14(16).
[16]
TSN, May 11, 1999, p. 10.
[17]
448 Phil 749 (2003).
[18]
Id. at 791.
[19]
Id.
[20]
Id. at 792.
[21]
Id.
[22]
People v. Villanueva, G.R. No. 187152, July 22, 2009, 593 SCRA 523, 547-548. See also People
v. Darilay, supra note 7.
[23]
People v. Villanueva, supra.
[24]
People v. Escote, Jr., supra note 17 at 796.
[25]
People v. Diaz, G.R. No. 185841, August 4, 2009.
[26]
Supra note 7.
[27]
Id.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

SOUTHEASTERN SHIPPING, G.R. No. 167678


SOUTHEASTERN SHIPPING
GROUP, LTD.,
Petitioners, Present:

CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,


VELASCO, JR.,
- versus - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
DEL CASTILLO, and
PEREZ, JJ.

FEDERICO U. NAVARRA, JR., Promulgated:


Respondent. June 22, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Money claims arising from employer-employee relations, including those specified in the Standard
Employment Contract for Seafarers, prescribe within three years from the time the cause of action
accrues.[1] However, for death benefit claims to prosper, the seafarers death must have occurred during
the effectivity of said contract.

This Petition for Review assails the January 31, 2005 Decision[2] and the April 4, 2005 Resolution[3] of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP. No. 85584. The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari filed before it
assailing the May 7, 2003 Decision[4] of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) ordering
petitioners to pay to Evelyn J. Navarra (Evelyn), the surviving spouse of deceased Federico U. Navarra,
Jr. (Federico), death compensation, allowances of the three minor children, burial expenses plus 10% of
the total monetary awards as and for attorney's fees.

Factual Antecedents

Petitioner Southeastern Shipping, on behalf of its foreign principal, petitioner Southeastern Shipping
Group, Ltd., hired Federico to work on board the vessel "George McLeod." Federico signed 10 successive
separate employment contracts of varying durations covering the period from October 5, 1995 to March
30, 1998. His latest contract was approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
on January 21, 1998 for 56 days extendible for another 56 days. He worked as roustabout during the first
contract and as a motorman during the succeeding contracts.

On March 6, 1998, Federico, while on board the vessel, complained of having a sore throat and on and
off fever with chills. He also developed a soft mass on the left side of his neck. He was given medication.

On March 30, 1998, Federico arrived back in the Philippines. On April 21, 1998 the specimen excised from
his neck lymph node was found negative for malignancy.[5] On June 4, 1998, he was diagnosed at the
Philippine General Hospital to be suffering from a form of cancer called Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Nodular
Sclerosing Type (also known as Hodgkin's Disease). This diagnosis was confirmed in another test
conducted at the Medical Center Manila on June 8, 1998.

On September 6, 1999, Federico filed a complaint against petitioners with the arbitration branch of the
NLRC claiming entitlement to disability benefits, loss of earning capacity, moral and exemplary damages,
and attorney's fees.

During the pendency of the case, on April 29, 2000, Federico died. His widow, Evelyn, substituted him as
party complainant on her own behalf and in behalf of their three children. The claim for disability benefits
was then converted into a claim for death benefits.

Ruling of the Labor Arbiter

On May 10, 2000, Labor Arbiter Ermita T. Abrasaldo-Cuyuca rendered a Decision dismissing the complaint
on the ground that "Hodgkin's Lymphoma is not one of the occupational or compensable diseases or the
exact cause is not known," the dispositive portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, premises considered judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the complaint
for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.[6]

Evelyn appealed the Decision to the NLRC.

Ruling of the NLRC

On May 7, 2003, the NLRC rendered a Decision reversing that of the Labor Arbiter, the dispositive portion
of which provides:

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Judgment is hereby
rendered ordering the respondents Southeastern Shipping/Southeastern Shipping Group
Ltd. jointly and severally, to pay complainant Evelyn J. Navarra the following:

Death compensation - US$ 50,000.00


Minor child allowance
(3 x US$ 7,000) - 21,000.00
Burial expense - 1,000.00
Total US$ 72,000.00

Plus 10% of the total monetary awards as and for attorney's fees.

SO ORDERED.[7]

Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was denied by the NLRC. They, thus, filed a petition
for certiorari with the CA.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The CA found that the claim for benefits had not yet prescribed despite the complaint being filed more
than one year after Federico's return to the Philippines. It also found that although Federico died 17
months after his contract had expired, his heirs could still claim death benefits because the cause of his
death was the same illness for which he was repatriated. The dispositive portion of the CA Decision states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and
the May 7, 2003 Decision of the National Labor Relations Commission is hereby AFFIRMED
en toto.

SO ORDERED.[8]
After the denial by the CA of their motion for reconsideration, petitioners filed the present petition for
review.

Issues

Petitioners raise the following issues:

I
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT PRESCRIPTION DOES NOT
APPLY DESPITE THE LATE FILING OF THE COMPLAINT OF THE RESPONDENT
FEDERICO U. NAVARRA, JR.

II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT HODGKIN'S DISEASE
IS A COMPENSABLE ILLNESS.

III
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ITS CONCLUSION THAT PETITIONERS ARE
LIABLE FOR THE DEATH OF THE RESPONDENT AS SUCH DEATH WAS DURING THE
TERM OF HIS EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT.[9]

Petitioners' Arguments

Petitioners contend that the factual findings of the CA were not supported by sufficient evidence. They
argue that as can be seen from the medical report of Dr. Salim Marangat Paul, Federico suffered from
and was treated for Acute Respiratory Tract Infection, not Hodgkin's Disease, during his employment in
March 1998. They further contend that Federico returned to the Philippines on March 30, 1998 because
he had already finished his contract, not because he had to undergo further medical treatment.

They also insist that the complaint has already prescribed. Despite having been diagnosed on June 4,
1998 of Hodgkin's Disease, the complaint was filed only on September 6, 1999, one year and five months
after Federico arrived in Manila from Qatar.

They also posit that respondents are not entitled to the benefits claimed because Federico did not die
during the term of his contract and the cause of his death was not contracted by him during the term of
his contract.
Respondents' Arguments

Respondents on the other hand contend that the complaint has not prescribed and that the prescriptive
period for filing seafarer claims is three years from the time the cause of action accrued. They claim that
in case of conflict between the law and the POEA Contract, it is the law that prevails.

Respondents also submit that Federico contracted on board the vessel the illness which later caused his
death, hence it is compensable.

Our Ruling

The petition is partly meritorious.

Prescription

The employment contract signed by Federico stated that "the same shall be deemed an integral part of
the Standard Employment Contract for Seafarers," Section 28 of which states:

SECTION 28. JURISDICTION

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) or the National Labor


Relations Commission (NLRC) shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over any and
all disputes or controversies arising out of or by virtue of this Contract.

Recognizing the peculiar nature of overseas shipboard employment, the employer and
the seafarer agree that all claims arising from this contract shall be made within one (1)
year from the date of the seafarer's return to the point of hire.

On the other hand, the Labor Code states:

Art. 291. Money claims.-All money claims arising from employer-employee relations
during the effectivity of this Code shall be filed within three (3) years from the time the
cause of action accrued; otherwise they shall forever be barred.
The Constitution affirms labor as a primary social economic force.[10] Along this vein, the State vowed to
afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full
employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.[11]

"The employment of seafarers, including claims for death benefits, is governed by the contracts they sign
every time they are hired or rehired; and as long as the stipulations therein are not contrary to law, morals,
public order or public policy, they have the force of law between the parties."[12]

In Cadalin v. POEA's Administrator,[13] we held that Article 291 of the Labor Code covers all money claims
from employer-employee relationship. It is not limited to money claims recoverable under the
Labor Code, but applies also to claims of overseas contract workers.[14]

Based on the foregoing, it is therefore clear that Article 291 is the law governing the prescription of money
claims of seafarers, a class of overseas contract workers. This law prevails over Section 28 of the Standard
Employment Contract for Seafarers which provides for claims to be brought only within one year from the
date of the seafarers return to the point of hire. Thus, for the guidance of all, Section 28 of the Standard
Employment Contract for Seafarers, insofar as it limits the prescriptive period within which the seafarers
may file their money claims, is hereby declared null and void. The applicable provision is Article 291 of the
Labor Code, it being more favorable to the seafarers and more in accord with the States declared policy
to afford full protection to labor. The prescriptive period in the present case is thus three years from the
time the cause of action accrues.

In the present case, there is no exact showing of when the cause of action accrued. Nevertheless, it could
not have accrued earlier than January 21, 1998 which is the date of his last contract.Hence, the claim has
not yet prescribed, since the complaint was filed with the arbitration branch of the NLRC on September 6,
1999.

Compensability and Liability

In petitions for review on certiorari, only questions of law may be raised, the only exceptions being when
the factual findings of the appellate court are erroneous, absurd, speculative, conjectural, conflicting, or
contrary to the findings culled by the court of origin. Considering the conflicting findings of the NLRC, the
CA and the Labor Arbiter, we are impelled to resolve the factual issues in this case along with the legal
ones.[15]
Section 20 of the Standard Terms and Conditions Governing the Employment of Filipino Seafarers On-
Board Ocean-Going Vessels states:

A. COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS FOR DEATH

1. In case of death of the seafarer during the term of his contact, the
employer shall pay his beneficiaries the Philippine currency equivalent to
the amount of Fifty Thousand US Dollars (US$50,000) and an additional
amount of Seven Thousand US Dollars (US$7,000) to each child under
the age of twenty-one (21) but not exceeding four children, at the
exchange rate prevailing during the time of payment. (Emphasis
supplied)

Thus, as we declared in Gau Sheng Phils., Inc. v. Joaquin, Hermogenes v. Oseo Shipping Services, Inc.,
Prudential Shipping and Management Corporation v. Sta. Rita, Klaveness Maritime Agency, Inc. v.
Beneficiaries of Allas, in order to avail of death benefits, the death of the employee should occur during
the effectivity of the employment contract.[16] For emphasis, we reiterate that the death of a seaman
during the term of employment makes the employer liable to his heirs for death compensation benefits,
but if the seaman dies after the termination of his contract of employment, his beneficiaries are not entitled
to the death benefits.[17] Federico did not die while he was under the employ of petitioners. His contract
of employment ceased when he arrived in the Philippines on March 30, 1998, whereas he died on April
29, 2000. Thus, his beneficiaries are not entitled to the death benefits under the Standard Employment
Contract for Seafarers.

Moreover, there is no showing that the cancer was brought about by Federico's stint on board petitioners'
vessel. The records show that he got sick a month after he boarded M/V George Mcleod. He was then
brought to a doctor who diagnosed him to have acute respiratory tract infection. It was only on June 6,
1998, more than two months after his contract with petitioners had expired, that he was diagnosed to
have Hodgkin's Disease. There is no proof and we are not convinced that his exposure to the motor fumes
of the vessel, as alleged by Federico, caused or aggravated his Hodgkin's Disease.

While the Court adheres to the principle of liberality in favor of the seafarer in construing the Standard
Employment Contract, we cannot allow claims for compensation based on surmises. When the evidence
presented negates compensability, we have no choice but to deny the claim, lest we cause injustice to
the employer.
The law in protecting the rights of the employees, authorizes neither oppression nor self-destruction of
the employer there may be cases where the circumstances warrant favoring labor over the interests of
management but never should the scale be so tilted as to result in an injustice to the employer.[18]

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The January 31, 2005 Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 85584 holding that the claim for death benefits has not yet prescribed
is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that petitioners are not liable to pay to respondents death
compensation benefits for lack of showing that Federicos disease was brought about by his stint on board
petitioners vessels and also considering that his death occurred after the effectivity of his contract.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion
of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

[1]
LABOR CODE, Art. 291.
[2]
Rollo, pp. 8-17; penned by Associate Justice Vicente Q. Roxas and concurred in by Associate
Justices Salvador J. Valdez, Jr. and Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr.
[3]
Id. at 7.
[4]
Id. at 386-395.
[5]
Id. at 280.
[6]
Id. at 152.
[7]
Id. at 184.
[8]
Id. at 17.
[9]
Id. at 339.
[10]
CONSTITUTION, Article II, Section 18.
[11]
CONSTITUTION, Article XIII, Section 3.
[12]
Coastal Safeway Marine Services, Inc. v. Delgado, G.R. No. 168210, June 17, 2008, 554 SCRA
590, 595-596.
[13]
G.R. Nos. 104776 and 104911-14, December 5, 1994, 238 SCRA 721, 764.
[14]
Degamo v. Avantgarde Shipping Corp., G.R. No. 154460, November 22, 2005, 475 SCRA 671, 676-
677.
[15]
Prudential Shipping and Management Corporation v. Sta. Rita, G.R. No. 166580, February 8, 2007,
515 SCRA 157, 167. See also White Diamond Trading Corporation v. National Labor Relations
Commission, G.R. No. 186019, March 29, 2010.
[16]
Estate of Posedio Ortega v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 175005, April 30, 2008, 553 SCRA 649,
655-656.
[17]
Prudential Shipping and Management Corporation v. Sta. Rita, supra at 168-169.
[18]
Ledesma, Jr. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 537 SCRA 358, 371.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION
JOSE DELOS REYES, G.R. No. 169135
Petitioner,

Present:

CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,


- versus - VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
DEL CASTILLO, and
PEREZ, JJ.

JOSEPHINE ANNE B. RAMNANI, Promulgated:


Respondent. June 18, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

A judgment debt is enforced by the levy and sale of the debtors property.[1] The issuance of the
final certificate of sale to the purchaser at the execution sale is a mere formality upon the debtors failure
to redeem the property within the redemption period.

This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks to reverse and set aside the May 13, 2005 Decision[2] of
the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 87972, which affirmed the August 19, 2004[3] and November
10, 2004[4] Orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City, Branch 159 in Civil Case No. 24858. Also
assailed is the August 3, 2005 Resolution[5]denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.

Factual Antecedents

On October 11, 1977, the trial court rendered a Decision in Civil Case No. 24858 in favor of respondent
Josephine Anne B. Ramnani. Thereafter, a writ of execution was issued by the trial court. On June 6,
1978, then Branch Sheriff Pedro T. Alarcon conducted a public bidding and auction sale over the property
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 480537 (subject property) during which respondent was
the highest bidder. Consequently, a certificate of sale was executed in her favor on even date. On
November 17, 1978, a writ of possession was issued by the trial court. On March 8, 1990, the certificate
of sale was annotated at the back of TCT No. 480537. Thereafter, the taxes due on the sale of the subject
property were paid on September 26, 2001.
On February 17, 2004, respondent filed a motion (subject motion) for the issuance of an order directing
the sheriff to execute the final certificate of sale in her favor. Petitioner opposed on the twin grounds that
the subject motion was not accompanied by a notice of hearing and that the trial courts October 11, 1977
Decision can no longer be executed as it is barred by prescription.
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

In its August 19, 2004 Order, the trial court granted the motion:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the motion is hereby GRANTED; and this Court
hereby directs the Branch Sheriff of this Court to issue the corresponding Final Certificate
of Sale in the above-entitled case in accordance with the rules immediately upon receipt
hereof.

SO ORDERED.[6]
The trial court ruled that the prescription for the issuance of a writ of execution is not applicable in this
case. Less than a year from the October 11, 1977 Decision, respondent exercised her right to enforce the
same through the levy and sale of the subject property on June 6, 1978. Although the certificate of sale
was annotated on TCT No. 480537 only on March 8, 1990, petitioner did not exercise his right to redeem
the subject property within one year from said registration. Thus, what remains to be done is the issuance
of the final certificate of sale which was, however, not promptly accomplished at that time due to the
demise of the trial courts sheriff. The issuance of the final certificate of sale is a ministerial duty of the
sheriff in order to complete the already enforced judgment.

Petitioner moved for reconsideration which was denied by the trial court in its November 10, 2004
Order. Petitioner thereafter sought review via certiorari before the CA.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The CA denied the petition in its assailed May 13, 2005 Decision:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED. The orders dated
August 19, 2004 and November 10, 2004 of the RTC, Branch 159, Pasig City in Civil Case
No. 24858 are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.[7]
In affirming the ruling of the trial court, the CA noted that the subject motion is a non-litigious motion,
hence, the three-day notice rule does not apply. Further, it agreed with the trial court that the issuance of
the final certificate of sale is not barred by prescription, laches or estoppel because the October 11, 1977
Decision was already executed through the levy and sale of the subject property on June 6,
1978. Respondent is entitled to the issuance of the final certificate of sale as a matter of right because
petitioner failed to redeem the subject property.
Issues

1. Whether the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in taking cognizance of the fatally defective motion and the subsequent issuance of
the Orders dated August 19, 2004 and November 10, 2004;

2. Whether respondent is barred by prescription, laches or estoppel.[8]

Petitioners Arguments

Petitioner contends that the motion dated February 16, 2004 filed by respondent to compel the
sheriff to execute the final certificate of sale is fatally defective because it does not contain a notice of
hearing. He further claims that the subject motion seeks to enforce the trial courts October 11, 1977
Decision which can no longer be done because 27 years have elapsed from the finality of said Decision.

Respondents Arguments

Respondent contends that the subject motion is a non-litigious motion and that petitioner was not
denied due process because he was given an opportunity to be heard by the trial court. She also points
out that said motion is not barred by prescription, laches and estoppel considering that the levy and sale
of the subject property was conducted on June 6, 1978 and petitioner failed to redeem the same.

Our Ruling

The petition lacks merit.

Respondent is entitled to the issuance of the final


certificate of sale as a matter of right.
Petitioner, in essence, argues that the October 11, 1977 Decision was not timely executed because
of respondents failure to secure the final certificate of sale within 10 years from the entry of said
judgment. This is erroneous. It is not disputed that shortly after the trial court rendered the aforesaid
judgment, respondent moved for execution which was granted by the trial court. On June 6, 1978, the
subject property was sold on execution sale. Respondent emerged as the highest bidder, thus, a certificate
of sale was executed by the sheriff in her favor on the same day. As correctly held by the trial court, the
October 11, 1977 Decision was already enforced when the subject property was levied and sold on June
6, 1978 which is within the five-year period for the execution of a judgment by motion under Section
6,[9] Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.

It is, likewise, not disputed that petitioner failed to redeem the subject property within one year
from the annotation of the certificate of sale on TCT No. 480537. The expiration of the one-year
redemption period foreclosed petitioners right to redeem the subject property and the sale thereby
became absolute. The issuance thereafter of a final certificate of sale is a mere formality and confirmation
of the title that is already vested in respondent.[10] Thus, the trial court properly granted the motion for
issuance of the final certificate of sale.

As to petitioners claim that the subject motion is defective for lack of a notice of hearing, the CA
correctly ruled that the subject motion is a non-litigious motion. While, as a general rule, all written motions
should be set for hearing under Section 4,[11] Rule 15 of the Rules of Court, excepted from this rule are
non-litigious motions or motions which may be acted upon by the court without prejudicing the rights of
the adverse party.[12] As already discussed, respondent is entitled to the issuance of the final certificate of
sale as a matter of right and petitioner is powerless to oppose the same.[13] Hence, the subject motion
falls under the class of non-litigious motions. At any rate, the trial court gave petitioner an opportunity to
oppose the subject motion as in fact he filed a Comment/ Opposition[14] on March 1, 2004 before the trial
court. Petitioner cannot, therefore, validly claim that he was denied his day in court.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The May 13, 2005 Decision and August 3, 2005
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87972 are AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion
of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

[1]
Jalandoni v. Philippine National Bank, 195 Phil. 1, 5 (1981).
[2]
Rollo, pp. 28-34; penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando and concurred in
by Associate Justices Rosmari D. Carandang and Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa.
[3]
Id. at 60-62; penned by Judge Rodolfo R. Bonifacio.
[4]
Id. at 69.
[5]
Id. at 42; penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando and concurred in by
Associate Justices Rosmari D. Carandang and Monina Arevalo-Zearosa.
[6]
Id. at 62.
[7]
Id. at 33.
[8]
Id. at 15.
[9]
SECTION 6. Execution by motion or by independent action. A final and executory judgment or
order may be executed on motion within five (5) years from the date of its entry. After the
lapse of such time, and before it is barred by the statute of limitations, a judgment may be
enforced by action. The revived judgment may also be enforced by motion within five (5)
years from the date of its entry and thereafter by action before it is barred by the statute of
limitations.
[10]
Calacala v. Republic of the Philippines, 502 Phil. 681, 691 (2005).
[11]
SECTION 4. Hearing of motion. Except for motions which the court may act upon without
prejudicing the rights of the adverse party, every written motion shall be set for hearing by
the applicant.
Every written motion required to be heard and the notice of the hearing thereof shall be served
in such a manner as to ensure its receipt by the other party at least three (3) days before the
date of hearing, unless the court for good cause sets the hearing on shorter notice.
[12]
Id.
[13]
Section 33, Rule 39 provides:
SECTION 33. Deed and possession to be given at expiration of redemption period; by whom
executed or given. If no redemption be made within one (1) year from the date of the
registration of the certificate of sale, the purchaser is entitled to a conveyance and possession
of the property; x x x. The deed shall be executed by the officer making the sale or by his
successor in office, and in the latter case shall have the same validity as though the officer
making the sale had continued in office and executed it.
Upon the expiration of the right of redemption, the purchaser or redemptioner shall be substituted
to and acquire all the rights, title, interest and claim of the judgment obligor to the property
as of the time of the levy. The possession of the property shall be given to the purchaser or
last redemptioner by the same officer unless a third party is actually holding the property
adversely to the judgment obligor.
[14]
Rollo, pp. 92-94.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

ERIBERTO S. MASANGKAY, G.R. No. 164443


Petitioner,

Present:

CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,


- versus - VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
DEL CASTILLO, and
PEREZ, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:


Respondent. June 18, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Every criminal conviction must draw its strength from the prosecutions evidence. The evidence must be
such that the constitutional presumption of innocence is overthrown and guilt is established beyond
reasonable doubt. The prosecutorial burden is not met when the circumstances can yield to different
inferences. Such equivocation betrays a lack of moral certainty to support a judgment of conviction.

This Petition for Review[1] assails the March 16, 2004 Decision[2] and the July 9, 2004 Resolution[3] of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 25775. The dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, and the appealed Decision is AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATION that Eriberto Masangkay is instead meted the penalty of imprisonment
for a term of Six (6) months and One (1) day of prision correccional minimum.

SO ORDERED.[4]

Factual Antecedents

Petitioner Eriberto Masangkay (Eriberto), his common-law wife Magdalena Ricaros (Magdalena),
Cesar Masangkay (Cesar) and his wife Elizabeth Masangkay (Elizabeth), and Eric Dullano were the
incorporators and directors of Megatel Factors, Inc. (MFI) which was incorporated in June 1990.[5]

On December 29, 1993 Eriberto filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a
Petition for the Involuntary Dissolution[6] of MFI for violation of Section 6 of Presidential Decree (PD) No.
902-A. The named respondents were MFI, Cesar and Elizabeth.[7] The said petition was made under oath
before a notary public, and alleged among others:

3. At or around September 1, 1993, respondent Elizabeth A. Masangkay


prepared or caused to be prepared a Secretarys Certificate which states:
That at a special meeting of the Board of Directors of the said
corporation held at its principal office on December 5, 1992, the following
resolution by unanimous votes of the directors present at said meeting
and constituting a quorum was approved and adopted:

RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved that Lot No. 2069-A-2


situated at Bo. Canlalay, Bian, Laguna containing an area of 3,014 square
meters covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-210746 be
exchanged with 3,700 shares of stock of the corporation worth or valued
at P370,000.00 by way of a Deed of Exchange with Cancellation of
Usufruct.

xxxx
4. Said secretarys certificate is absolutely fictitious and simulated because
the alleged meeting of the Board of Directors held on December 5, 1992 did not actually
materialize.

xxxx

5. Using the said falsified and spurious document, x x x respondents


executed another fictitious document known as the Deed of Exchange with Cancellation
of Usufruct.

The contract purporting to be a transfer of 3,700 shares of stock of MFI in return


for a piece of a land (Lot No. 2064-A-2) located at Canlalay, Bian, Laguna and owned by
minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay is void.

Article 1409 of the New Civil Code states:

Art. 1409. The following contracts are inexistent and void from
the beginning.

xxxx

(2) Those which are absolutely simulated or fictitious;

(3) Those whose cause or object did not exist at the time of the
transaction;

xxxx

These contracts cannot be ratified. Neither can the right to set up


the defense of illegality be waived.

The aforementioned contract is indeed simulated and fictitious because they


defrauded minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay and deprived him of his own property
without any consideration at all.
Records of the MFI revealed that minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay [or] his
alleged guardian Magdalena S. Ricaros never became a stockholder at any point in time
of MFI.

x x x x[8]

The case remains pending to date.[9]


Claiming that Eriberto lied under oath when he said that there was no meeting of the Board held
on December 5, 1992 and that the Deed of Exchange with Cancellation of Usufruct is a fictitious
instrument, the respondent in the SEC case, Cesar, filed a complaint for perjury[10] against Eriberto before
the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal.

Eriberto raised the defense of primary jurisdiction. He argued that what is involved is primarily an
intra-corporate controversy; hence, jurisdiction lies with the SEC pursuant to Section 6 of PD 902-A, as
amended by PD No. 1758. He also insisted that there was a prejudicial question because the truth of the
allegations contained in his petition for involuntary dissolution has yet to be determined by the SEC. These
defenses were sustained by the assistant provincial prosecutor and the complaint for perjury was
dismissed for lack of merit.[11]

It was however reinstated upon petition for review[12] before the Department of Justice.[13] Chief
State Prosecutor Zenon L. De Guia held that the petition for involuntary dissolution is an administrative
case only and thus cannot possibly constitute a prejudicial question to the criminal case. He also rejected
the claim that the SEC has exclusive authority over the case. The Chief State Prosecutor explained that
the prosecution and enforcement department of the SEC has jurisdiction only over criminal and civil cases
involving a violation of a law, rule, or regulation that is administered and enforced by the SEC. Perjury,
penalized under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), is not within the SECs authority.[14] Thus, he
ordered the conduct of a preliminary investigation, which eventually resulted in the filing of the following
information:

That sometime in the month of December 1992,[15] in the City of Mandaluyong,


Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously commit acts of perjury in
his Petition for Involuntary Dissolution of Megatel Factors, Inc. based on violation of
Section 6 of Presidential Decree 902-A against Megatel Factors, Inc., Cesar Masangkay,
Jr. and Elizabeth Masangkay which he made under oath before a notary authorized to
receive and administer oath and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission,
wherein he made willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood on a material matter when
he declared the following, to wit: a) the secretary certificate dated September 1, 1993,
proposed by Elizabeth Masangkay is fictitious and simulated because the alleged
December 5, 1992, meeting never took place; and, b) the Deed of Exchange with
Cancellation of Usufruct is a fictitious document, whereby the respondents defrauded the
minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay, by exchanging the childs 3,014 square meters
lot with 3, 700 shares of stock of the corporation, when in fact no consideration for the
transfer was made as Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay or his guardian Magdalena Ricaros has
never been a stockholder of the Corporation at any point in time, when in truth and in
fact the accused well knew that the same statements he made in his petition and which
he reaffirmed and made use as part of his evidence in the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) are false.[16]

The information was docketed as Criminal Case No. 56495 and raffled to the Metropolitan Trial Court
(MeTC) of Mandaluyong City, Branch 59.

Eriberto filed a motion to quash,[17] insisting that it is the SEC which has primary jurisdiction over
the case. He also argued that the truth of the allegations contained in the information is still pending
resolution in SEC Case No. 12-93-4650, thereby constituting a prejudicial question to the perjury case.

The MeTC denied the motion to quash for lack of merit.[18] It held that the fact that the parties to
the criminal case are mostly stockholders of the same corporation does not automatically make the case
an intra-corporate dispute that is within the SEC jurisdiction. It likewise held that the fact that the parties
are stockholders is merely incidental and that the subject of the case is a criminal act and hence within
the general jurisdiction of the MeTC. As regards the issue of prejudicial question, the MeTC ruled that the
petition before the SEC has nothing to do with the criminal case. The truth of the statements for which he
is being indicted is a matter of defense which the defendant may raise in the criminal case.

Eriberto filed a petition for certiorari before Branch 158 of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC)
to assail the denial of his motion to quash. The denial was affirmed.[19] He then filed a petition
for certiorari before the CA, which was denied for being a wrong mode of appeal.[20]
Failing to suspend the criminal proceedings, Eriberto entered a plea of not guilty during
arraignment.[21] He then waived the conduct of a pre-trial conference.[22]

During trial, the prosecution presented the private complainant Cesar as its sole witness.[23] He
testified that on December 5, 1992, a meeting of the Board of Directors was held at 9:00 oclock in the
morning at the office of MFI in Canlalay, Bian, Laguna. He presented the minutes of the alleged meeting
and reiterated the details contained therein indicating that the Board unanimously approved Magdalenas
proposal to exchange her sons (Gilberto Masangkay [Gilberto]) property with MFI shares of stock.[24] The
prosecution established that one of the signatures appearing in the minutes belongs to Eriberto.[25] This
allegedly belies Eribertos statement that the December 5, 1992 meeting did not actually materialize, and
shows that he knew his statement to be false because he had attended the meeting and signed the
minutes thereof. The prosecution also pointed out that in the proceedings before the guardianship court
to obtain approval for the exchange of properties, Eriberto had testified in support of the exchange.[26] The
guardianship court subsequently approved the proposed transaction.[27] The resulting Deed of Exchange
contained Eribertos signature as first party.[28]

As for Eribertos statement that the Deed of Exchange was simulated, the prosecution disputed
this by again using the minutes of the December 5, 1992 meeting, which states that the property of
Gilberto will be exchanged for 3,700 MFI shares.

For his defense, Eriberto asserted that the December 5, 1992 meeting did not actually take
place. While he admitted signing, reading and understanding the minutes of the alleged meeting, he
explained that the minutes were only brought by Cesar and Elizabeth to his house for signing, but there
was no actual meeting.[29]

To support the claim that no meeting took place in 1992, the defense presented Elizabeth, the
MFI corporate secretary, who could not remember with certainty if she had sent out any notice for the
December 5, 1992 meeting and could not produce any copy thereof.

The defense also presented a notice of meeting dated October 19, 1993, which called for the MFI
boards initial meeting since its business operations started, to be held on November 9, 1993. Emphasizing
the words initial meeting, Eriberto argued that this proves that prior to November 9, 1993, no meeting
(including the December 5, 1992 meeting) had ever taken place.

As for the charge that he perjured himself when he stated that the Deed of Exchange was fictitious
and simulated for lack of consideration, Eriberto explained that MFI never issued stock certificates in favor
of his son Gilberto. Corporate secretary Elizabeth corroborated this statement and admitted that stock
certificates were never issued to Gilberto or any of the stockholders.[30]

While he admitted supporting the proposed exchange and seeking its approval by the
guardianship court, Eriberto maintained that he did so because he was convinced by private complainant
Cesar that the exchange would benefit his son Gilberto. He however reiterated that, to date, Gilberto is
not a stockholder of MFI, thus has not received any consideration for the exchange.
On rebuttal, the prosecution refuted Eribertos claim that the board had its first actual meeting
only on November 9, 1993. It explained that the November 9, 1993 meeting was the initial meeting since
business operations began, because MFI obtained permit to conduct business only in 1993. But
the November 9, 1993 meeting was not the first meeting ever held by the board of directors. The
prosecution presented the secretarys certificates of board meetings held on April 6,
1992 [31]
and September 5, 1992 [32]
-- both before November 9, 1993 and both signed by Eriberto. [33]
At
this time, business operations have not yet begun because the companys hotel building was still under
construction. The said secretarys certificates in fact show that MFI was still sourcing additional funds for
the construction of its hotel.[34]

Ruling of the Metropolitan Trial Court

On October 18, 2000, the MeTC rendered a judgment[35] holding that the prosecution was able to
prove that the December 5, 1992 meeting actually took place and that petitioner attended the same as
evidenced by his signature in the minutes thereof. As for Eribertos statement that the Deed of Exchange
was fictitious, the MeTC held that his participation in the approval and execution of the document, as well
as his avowals before the guardianship court regarding the proposed exchange all militate against his
previous statement. Petitioner was thus found guilty as charged and sentenced to imprisonment of two
months of arresto mayor minimum and medium, as minimum, to one year and one day of arresto
mayor maximum and prison correccional minimum, as maximum.[36]

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

Eriberto appealed[37] his conviction to the RTC of Mandaluyong City, Branch 213, which eventually affirmed
the appealed judgment.[38] The fallo of the Decision states that:

WHEREFORE, the decision of October 18, 2000 by Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch
59, Mandaluyong City, convicting the accused-appellant Eriberto S. Masangkay of the
crime of perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code is hereby affirmed in toto.

SO ORDERED.[39]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The CA affirmed the appealed ruling of the trial courts, holding that the prosecution was able to prove
that the falsehoods in the petition for involuntary dissolution were deliberately made. It explained that
Eribertos signatures on the two allegedly fictitious documents show that he participated in the execution
of the Deed of Exchange and was present in the December 5, 1992meeting. Having participated in these
two matters, Eriberto knew that these were not simulated and fictitious, as he claimed in his verified
petition for involuntary dissolution of MFI. Thus, he deliberately lied in his petition.[40]

The CA rejected petitioners argument that the two statements were not material. It ruled that they were
material because petitioner even cited them as principal basis for his petition for involuntary dissolution.[41]

The appellate court found no merit in the issue of prejudicial question. It held that the result of the petition
for involuntary dissolution will not be determinative of the criminal case, which can be resolved
independently.[42]

The CA however, corrected the imposed penalty on the ground that the trial court was imprecise in its
application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law. The CA meted the penalty of imprisonment for a term of
six months and one day of prision correccional minimum.[43]

Petitioner moved for reconsideration[44] which was denied.[45]

Hence, this petition.[46]

Issues

Petitioner submits the following issues for review:


I
WHETHER THERE WAS DELIBERATE ASSERTION OF FALSEHOOD

II
WHETHER THE TRUTHFUL ALLEGATION IN THE PETITION FOR INVOLUNTARY
DISSOLUTION THAT THERE WAS NO MEETING IS MATERIAL TO THE PETITION

III
WHETHER PERJURY COULD PROSPER WHILE THE MAIN CASE REMAINS PENDING[47]

Since this is a case involving a conviction in a criminal case, the issues boil down to whether the prosecution
was able to prove the accuseds guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Our Ruling

We rule that the prosecution failed to prove the crime of perjury beyond reasonable doubt.
Article 183 of the RPC provides:

False testimony in other cases and perjury in solemn affirmation. The penalty of arresto
mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be
imposed upon any person who, knowingly making untruthful statements and not being
included in the provisions of the next preceding articles shall testify under oath, or make
an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to
administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires.

Any person who, in case of a solemn affirmation made in lieu of an oath, shall
commit any of the falsehoods mentioned in this and the three preceding articles of this
section, shall suffer the respective penalties provided therein.

For perjury to exist, (1) there must be a sworn statement that is required by law; (2) it must be made
under oath before a competent officer; (3) the statement contains a deliberate assertion of falsehood;
and (4) the false declaration is with regard to a material matter.[48]

The presence of the first two elements is not disputed by the petitioner and they are indeed present in
the instant case. The sworn statements which contained the alleged falsehoods in this case were
submitted in support of the petition for involuntary dissolution, as required by Sections 105 and 121 of the
Corporation Code.

The petition was also verified by the petitioner before a notary public[49]an officer duly authorized
by law to administer oaths. This verification was done in compliance with Section 121 of the Corporation
Code.[50]

It is the elements of deliberate falsehood and materiality of the false statements to the petition for
involuntary dissolution which are contested.

On the element of materiality, a material matter is the main fact which is the subject of the inquiry or any
fact or circumstance which tends to prove that fact, or any fact or circumstance which tends to corroborate
or strengthen the testimony relative to the subject of inquiry, or which legitimately affects the credit of
any witness who testifies.[51]

Petitioner filed a petition for involuntary dissolution of MFI based on Section 105 of the Corporate
Code, which states:
Section 105. Withdrawal of stockholder or dissolution of corporation. In addition
and without prejudice to the other rights and remedies available to a stockholder under
this Title, any stockholder of a close corporation may, for any reason, compel the said
corporation to purchase his shares at their fair value, which shall not be less than their
par or issued value, when the corporation has sufficient assets in his books to cover its
debts and liabilities exclusive of capital stock: Provided, That any stockholder of a close
corporation may, by written petition to the Securities and Exchange Commission, compel
the dissolution of such corporation whenever any of the acts of the directors, officers or
those in control of the corporation is illegal, or fraudulent, or dishonest, or oppressive or
unfairly prejudicial to the corporation or any stockholder, or whenever corporate assets
are being misapplied or wasted.

He stated in his petition for involuntary dissolution that:

xxxx

4. Said secretarys certificate is absolutely fictitious and simulated,


because the alleged meeting of the Board of Directors held on December 5, 1992 did not
actually materialize.

xxxx

5. Using the said falsified and spurious document, x x x respondents


executed another fictitious document known as the Deed of Exchange with Cancellation
of Usufruct.

xxxx

The aforementioned contract is indeed simulated and fictitious because they


defrauded minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay and deprived him of his own property
without any consideration at all.

xxxx

8. The foregoing acts and deeds of the respondents, done in evident


bad faith and in conspiracy with one another, are seriously fraudulent and illegal because
they constitute estafa through falsification of documents, punishable under Articles 315
and 171 of the Revised Penal Code.

9. Likewise, said acts and deeds are feloniously prejudicial to the


stockholders of MFI, including petitioner, as corporate assets are being misapplied and
wasted.

10. MFI should therefore be ordered dissolved after appropriate


proceedings before this Honorable Commission, in accordance with Sections 105 and 121
of the New Corporation Code x x x.[52]
The statements for which the petitioner is tried for perjury are the very grounds he relied upon in his
petition for corporate dissolution. They refer to acts of the MFI directors which are allegedly fraudulent,
illegal and prejudicial, and which would allegedly justify corporate dissolution under Section 105 of the
Corporation Code. Evidently, these statements are material to his petition for involuntary dissolution. The
element of materiality is therefore present.

The prosecution, however, failed to prove the element of deliberate falsehood.

The prosecution has the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt the falsehood of petitioners
statement that the December 5, 1992 meeting did not actually materialize. In other words, the
prosecution has to establish that the said meeting in fact took place, i.e., that the directors were actually
and physically present in one place at the same time and conferred with each other.

To discharge this burden, the prosecution relied mainly on the minutes of the alleged December
5, 1992 meeting, signed by the accused, which are inconsistent with his statement that the December 5,
1992 meeting did not actually materialize. According to the minutes, a meeting actually took place. On
the other hand, according to the petitioners statement in the petition for dissolution, the meeting did not
actually materialize or take place. The two statements are obviously contradictory or inconsistent with
each other. But the mere contradiction or inconsistency between the two statements merely means that
one of them is false. It cannot tell us which of the two statements is actually false. The minutes could be
true and the sworn statement false. But it is equally possible that the minutes are false and the sworn
statement is true, as explained by the petitioner who testified that the minutes were simply brought to his
house for signature, but no meeting actually transpired. Given the alternative possibilities, it is the
prosecutions burden to affirmatively prove beyond reasonable doubt that the first statement (the minutes)
is the true one, while the other statement (in the petition for dissolution) is the false one.

We have held before that a conviction for perjury cannot be obtained by the prosecution by merely
showing the inconsistent or contradictory statements of the accused, even if both statements are
sworn. The prosecution must additionally prove which of the two statements is false and must show the
statement to be false by evidence other than the contradictory statement.[53] The rationale for requiring
evidence other than a contradictory statement is explained thus:

x x x Proof that accused has given contradictory testimony under oath at a


different time will not be sufficient to establish the falsity of his testimony charged as
perjury, for this would leave simply one oath of the defendant as against another, and it
would not appear that the testimony charged was false rather than the testimony
contradictory thereof. The two statements will simply neutralize each other; there must
be some corroboration of the contradictory testimony. Such corroboration, however, may
be furnished by evidence aliunde tending to show perjury independently of the
declarations of testimony of the accused.[54]

In this case, however, the prosecution was unable to prove, by convincing evidence other than
the minutes, that the December 5, 1992 meeting actually took place. It merely presented, aside from the
minutes, the testimony of private complainant Cesar, who is a respondent in the corporate dissolution
case filed by the petitioner and is therefore not a neutral or disinterested witness.[55] The prosecution did
not present the testimony of the other directors or participants in the alleged meeting who could have
testified that the meeting actually occurred. Neither did the prosecution offer any explanation why such
testimony was not presented. It likewise failed to present any evidence that might circumstantially prove
that on December 5, 1992, the directors were physically gathered at a single place, and there conferred
with each other and came up with certain resolutions. Notably, the prosecution failed to present
the notice for the alleged meeting. The corporate secretary, Elizabeth, who was presented by the
petitioner, could not even remember whether she had sent out a prior notice to the directors for the
alleged December 5, 1992 meeting. The lack of certainty as to the sending of a notice raises serious doubt
as to whether a meeting actually took place, for how could the directors have been gathered for a meeting
if they had not been clearly notified that such a meeting would be taking place?

The insufficiency of the prosecutions evidence is particularly glaring considering that the petitioner had
already explained the presence of his signature in the minutes of the meeting. He testified that while the
meeting did not actually take place, the minutes were brought to his house for his signature. He affixed
his signature thereto because he believed that the proposed exchange of the assets, which was the subject
of the minutes, would be beneficial to his child, Gilberto. Acting on this belief, he also supported the
approval of the exchange by the guardianship court.

Under these circumstances, we cannot say with moral certainty that the prosecution was able to prove
beyond reasonable doubt that the December 5, 1992 meeting actually took place and that the petitioners
statement denying the same was a deliberate falsehood.
The second statement in the petition for involuntary dissolution claimed to be perjurious reads:

5. Using the said falsified and spurious document, respondents executed


another fictitious document known as the Deed of Exchange with Cancellation of Usufruct.
The contract purporting to be a transfer of 3,700 shares of stock of MFI in return
for a piece of land (Lot No. 2064-A-2) located at Canlalay, Bian, Laguna and owned by
minor child Gilberto Masangkay is void.

Article 1409 of the New Civil Code states:

Article 1409. The following contracts are inexistent and void from
the beginning:

xxxx

(2) those which are absolutely simulated or fictitious;

(3) those whose cause or object did not exist at the time of the
transaction;

xxxx

These contracts cannot be ratified. Neither can the right to set up


the defense of illegality be waived.

The aforementioned contract is indeed simulated and fictitious because they


defrauded minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay and deprived him of his own
property without any consideration at all.

Records of the MFI revealed that minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay [or] his
alleged guardian Magdalena S. Ricaros never became a stockholder at any point in time
of MFI.

In short, the petitioner is being charged with deliberate falsehood for his statement that the deed of
exchange is fictitious. To support the accusation, the prosecution proved that petitioner assented to the
said Deed of Exchange by virtue of his signatures in the minutes of the alleged December 5, 1992 meeting
and on the instrument itself, and his participation in procuring the guardianship courts approval of the
transaction. These allegedly show that the exchange was not fictitious and that Eriberto knew it.

We cannot agree with this line of reasoning. Petitioners imputation of fictitiousness to the Deed of
Exchange should not be taken out of context. He explained in paragraph 5 of his petition for involuntary
dissolution that the Deed of Exchange is simulated and fictitious pursuant to Article 1409 of the Civil Code,
because it deprived Gilberto Masangkay of his property without any consideration at all. To justify his
allegation that Gilberto did not receive anything for the exchange, he stated in the same paragraph that
Gilberto never became a stockholder of MFI (MFI stocks were supposed to be the consideration for
Gilbertos land). This fact was subsequently proven by the petitioner through the corporate secretary
Elizabeth, who admitted that MFI never issued stocks in favor of the stockholders. This testimony was
never explained or rebutted by the prosecution. Thus, petitioners statement that the exchange was
simulated and fictitious x x x because they x x x deprived [Gilberto] of his own property without any
consideration at all cannot be considered a deliberate falsehood. It is simply his characterization of the
transaction, based on the fact that Gilberto did not receive consideration for the exchange of his land.

As importantly, petitioners statements in paragraph 5 of the petition for involuntary dissolution about the
nature of the Deed of Exchange are conclusions of law, and not factual statements which are susceptible
of truth or falsity. They are his opinion regarding the legal character of the Deed of Exchange. He opined
that the Deed of Exchange was fictitious or simulated under Article 1409 of the Civil Code, because MFI
supposedly did not perform its reciprocal obligation to issue stocks to Gilberto in exchange for his land. His
opinion or legal conclusion may have been wrong (as failure of consideration does not make a contract
simulated or fictitious),[56] but it is an opinion or legal conclusion nevertheless. An opinion or a judgment
cannot be taken as an intentional false statement of facts.[57]

We recognize that perjury strikes at the very administration of the laws; that it is the policy of the
law that judicial proceedings and judgments shall be fair and free from fraud; that litigants and parties be
encouraged to tell the truth, and that they be punished if they do not.[58] However, it is also at the heart
of every criminal proceeding that every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable
doubt.

Given the foregoing findings, there is no more need to discuss the issue involving the propriety of
proceeding with the perjury case while the civil case for corporate dissolution is pending.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed March 16, 2004 Decision of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. GR No. 25775 and its July 9, 2004 Resolution, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner
Eriberto S. Masangkay is ACQUITTED of the charge of perjury on the ground
of REASONABLE DOUBT.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:
RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion
of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

[1]
Rollo, pp. 9-35.
[2]
Id. at 37-45; penned by Associate Justice Roberto A. Barrios and concurred in by Associate
Justices Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. and Fernanda Lampas Peralta.
[3]
Id. at 47-48.
[4]
Id. at 44.
[5]
Records, Vol. III, pp. 762-774.
[6]
Rollo, pp. 49-64.
[7]
Id. at 49. The petition was docketed as Case No. 12-93-4650.

[8]
Id. at 50-52.
[9]
The case was transferred to and remains pending in Branch 90 of the Quezon City Regional
Trial Court pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code, which
took effect on August 9, 2000 (See Suzuki v. De Guzman, G.R. No. 146979, July 27, 2006,
496 SCRA 651, 666). The said Code transferred jurisdiction over intra-corporate disputes to
regular courts. Section 5 of RA 8799 reads:
Section 5. Powers and Functions of the Commission. x x x
5.2. The Commissions jurisdiction over all cases enumerated under Section 5 of Presidential
Decree No. 902-A is hereby transferred to the Courts of general jurisdiction or the appropriate
Regional Trial Court: Provided, That the Supreme Court in the exercise of its authority may
designate the Regional Trial Court branches that shall exercise jurisdiction over these cases.
The Commission shall retain jurisdiction over pending cases involving intra-corporate disputes
submitted for final resolution which should be resolved within one (1) year from the enactment
of this Code. The Commission shall retain jurisdiction over pending suspension of
payment/rehabilitation cases filed as of June 30, 2000 until finally disposed.
Section 5 of PD No. 902-A reads:
Section 5. In addition to the regulatory and adjudicative functions of the Securities and Exchange
Commission over corporations, partnerships and other forms of associations registered with
it as expressly granted under existing laws and decrees, it shall have original and exclusive
jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving:
a) Devices or schemes employed by or any acts, of the board of directors, business associates,
its officers or partnership, amounting to fraud and misrepresentation which may be
detrimental to the interest of the public and/or of the stockholder, partners, members of
associations or organizations registered with the Commission.
b) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership relations, between and among
stockholders, members, or associates; between any or all of them and the corporation,
partnership or association of which they are stockholders, members or associates,
respectively; and between such corporation, partnership or association and the state insofar
as it concerns their individual franchise or right to exist as such entity;
c) Controversies in the election or appointments of directors, trustees, officers or managers of
such corporations, partnerships or associations.
[10]
Records, Vol. IV, pp. 1009-1011.
[11]
Rollo, pp. 65-67.
[12]
Records, Vol. IV, pp. 1012-1026.
[13]
Rollo, pp. 68-69.
[14]
Id.
[15]
Order dated March 27, 1996 (id. at 89) granting the prosecutions motion to amend the
information.
[16]
CA rollo, p. 65.
[17]
Rollo, pp. 70-83.
[18]
Id. at 84-85.
[19]
Records, Vol. II, pp. 382-387.
[20]
Id. at 576-577, 620.
[21]
Records, Vol. I, p. 79.
[22]
Id. at 144.
[23]
Records, Vol. II, pp. 673-691 and Records, Vol. III, pp. 695-709.
[24]
Records, Vol. III, p. 752.
[25]
Id.
[26]
Id at 793-794.
[27]
Id. at 812-814 and 819.
[28]
Id. at 817.
[29]
Id. at 911.
[30]
Id. at 912-913.
[31]
Id. at 900.
[32]
Id. at 901.
[33]
Id. at 900-901.
[34]
Id.
[35]
Rollo, pp. 90-98.
[36]
Id. at 98.
[37]
Id. at 100-118.
[38]
CA rollo, pp. 22-24.
[39]
Id. at 24.
[40]
Id. at 42.
[41]
Id. at 43.
[42]
Id.
[43]
Id. at 44.
[44]
Id. at 142-153.
[45]
Id. at 47-48.
[46]
Defendants motion for extension was initially denied by the Court (id. at 7) in its Resolution
dated August 16, 2004, which states:
[Defendants] motion for extension of thirty (30) days from August 4, 2004 within which to file
petition for review on certiorari is DENIED for lack of sufficient showing that [defendant] has
not lost the fifteen (15)-day reglementary period to appeal pursuant to Section 2, Rule 45 of
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, in view of the lack of statement of whether
the assailed Court of Appeals resolution dated July 9, 2004 received on July 20, 2004 is a
denial/dismissal of the petition or the motion for reconsideration thereof.
Upon [defendants] Motion for Reconsideration (id. at 154-157), the Court granted the motion for
extension (id. at 160) and eventually gave due course to the Petition for Review (id. at 232-
233).
[47]
Id. at 240.
[48]
Sy Tiong Shiou v. Sy Chim and Chan Sy, G.R. Nos. 174168 and 179438, March 30, 2009, 582
SCRA 517, 534.
[49]
Rollo, p. 59.
[50]
Section 121. Involuntary Dissolution. A corporation may be dissolved by the Securities and
Exchange Commission upon filing a verified complaint and after proper notice and hearing on
grounds provided by existing laws, rules and regulations.
[51]
United States v. Estraa, 16 Phil. 520, 529 (1910).
[52]
Rollo, pp. 50-54.
[53]
Villanueva v. Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 162187, November 18, 2005, 475 SCRA 495, 514-
515.
[54]
Id. at 515, citing People v. McClintic, 160 N.W. 461 (1916).
[55]
See also Magat v. People, G.R. No. 92201, August 21, 1991, 201 SCRA 21, 36 and Mercury
Drug, Co., Inc. v. Court of Industrial Relations, 155 Phil. 636, 644, 648 (1974).
[56]
Simulated or fictitious contracts are defective contracts, those not really desired or intended
to produce legal effects or in any way alter the juridical situation of the parties (Vda. de
Rodriguez v. Rodriguez, 127 Phil. 294, 301 (1967). Failure of consideration or failure to pay
the consideration does not make a contract defective; it merely gives rise to a cause of action
for specific performance or rescission (Montecillo v. Reynes, 434 Phil. 456, 468-469 (2002).
[57]
See also People v. Yanza, 107 Phil. 888, 891 (1960).
[58]
People v. Cainglet, 123 Phil. 568, 575 (1966).
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

FELISA R. FERRER, G.R. No. 170956


Petitioner,
Present:

- versus - CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
DOMINGO CARGANILLO, ABAD, and
SERGIO CARGANILLO, PEREZ, JJ.
SOLEDAD AGUSTIN and
MARCELINA SOLIS, Promulgated:
Respondents. May 12, 2010
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

The concept of social function of private property which today is presented as one of the possible
justifications for agrarian and urban land reform has its roots in the cosmogenic and philosophical concept
which maintains that man must answer to the Creator for the use of the resources entrusted to him. It is
an old concept and is ultimately related to the genesis of society itself. Hence, the use, enjoyment,
occupation or disposition of private property is not absolute. It is predicated on the social functions of
property. It is restricted in a sense so as to bring about maximum benefits to all and not to a few chosen
individuals.[1]
This petition concerns four cases, involving herein petitioner Felisa R. Ferrer, jointly heard by the
Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD), appealed to the Department of Agrarian Reform
Adjudication Board (DARAB) and subsequently further appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA), to wit:
1. DARAB Case No. 7862 Felisa R. Ferrer v. Domingo Carganillo and Sergio
Carganillo for Ejectment and Damages;

2. DARAB Case No. 7863 Felisa R. Ferrer v. Soledad Agustin for Ejectment and
Damages;

3. DARAB Case No. 7864 Rosa Pajarito, Elvira Madolora and Anastacia Lagado
represented by Felisa R. Ferrer v. Marcelina Solis for Ejectment and Damages;

4. DARAB Case No. 7865 Irene Aguinaldo and Felisa R. Ferrer v. Marcelina
Solis for Ejectment and Damages.

For clarity, each case will be tackled independently as each involved different set of facts.

Factual Antecedents

a) DARAB Case No. 7862

In her Complaint,[2] petitioner Felisa R. Ferrer (Felisa) alleged that she is the owner of a 6,000-
square meters lot under Tax Declaration No. 42-06462, situated at Brgy. Legaspi, Tayug, Pangasinan and
being tenanted by respondent Domingo Carganillo (Domingo). Without her knowledge and consent,
Domingo subleased the subject landholding to his brother, herein respondent Sergio Carganillo (Sergio)
for P15,000.00. Felisa only knew of this fact when she visited the place and found Sergio in actual
possession and cultivation of the landholding in question.

In his Answer,[3] Domingo denied that he mortgaged his possessory rights to Sergio and asserted
that he is still in actual, continuous and peaceful possession of subject property.

Meanwhile, upon a verbal complaint lodged by Felisa with the Municipal


Agrarian Reform Office (MARO) of Tayug, Pangasinan, MARO Legal Officer Dionisio G. Estimada
(Estimada) conducted an investigation on the matter.
In his December 19, 1997 Investigation Report,[4] Estimada stated that based on the testimony
he had gathered from other people, the cultivation and possession of the subject landholding was
subleased by Domingo to Sergio as the former was applying for work abroad.[5] In fact, Domingo admitted
the existence of the sublease.[6] Thus, based on the foregoing, Estimada recommended that Sergio and
Domingo be ejected from the subject landholding.[7]

The Affidavit of Angela N. Clarion (Clarion) was also submitted to corroborate the Investigation
Report.[8] Clarion averred that Domingo mortgaged his tenancy rights over the subject agricultural land to
Sergio, and that the latter is presently cultivating the said land by virtue of such mortgage.[9]

Ruling of the PARAD

In an Order[10] dated January 20, 1998, the PARAD required the parties to submit their respective
position papers within 20 days from said date. Felisa filed her position paper for all the four cases, attaching
thereto the Investigation Report of Estimada, as well as the corroborating affidavits of Clarion and Gelacio
Gano (Gano). Sergio, on the other hand, admitted that he helps his older brother, Domingo, in cultivating
the landholding[11] but he denied subleasing the same from Domingo.[12]

In addition, respondents presented the affidavits of (1) Mariano Orina


(Mariano), tenant of the adjacent agricultural land, who attested that Domingo is the one who supervises
the activities in his tenanted land;[13] (2) Barangay Agrarian Reform Council (BARC) Chairman Valentin
Costales (Costales), who stated that he does not know of any violation that Domingo has committed
against the landowner;[14] and (3) Barangay KagawadArsenio R. Frago (Frago), who maintained that
Domingo has not violated any provision of the Land Reform Code.[15]

On April 8, 1998, PARAD Rodolfo A. Caddarao (Caddarao) issued a Decision[16] holding that:

In a situation such as this, the complainant has the burden of proof to show by convincing
evidence the truth of her allegations. In the case at bar the complainant failed to prove
by clear and convincing evidence that there is subleasing or mortgage of the property by
the respondent tenant. Hence, the herein action must necessarily fail.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the complaint in the instant case is hereby
DISMISSED for lack of evidence and merit.

SO ORDERED.

Aggrieved, Felisa appealed to the DARAB.

Ruling of the DARAB

In her appeal memorandum[17] dated October 7, 1998, Felisa asserted that the PARAD erred in
failing to give credence to the Investigation Report of the MARO legal officer. She likewise presented for
the first time an original copy of the Katulagan[18] (Agreement) to prove that Domingo obtained a loan in
the amount of P15,000.00 from Sergio. Felisa argued that she has established, by more than substantial
evidence, that Domingo has indeed conveyed his leasehold rights to Sergio for said amount.

On January 27, 2004, the DARAB rendered its Decision[19] affirming the findings of the PARAD
that Felisa failed to substantiate her allegation of subleasing.

Felisa thence elevated the matter to the CA through a Petition for Review[20] dated December 6,
2004.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On August 22, 2005, the CA rendered a Decision[21] affirming the DARAB Decision. The dispositive
portion of the CA Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. The


assailed Decision dated January 27, 2004 and the Resolution dated October 18, 2004 are
hereby AFFIRMED.[22]
Our Ruling
a) DARAB Case No. 7862

Petitioner argues that the CA erred in not finding that Domingo subleased or mortgaged his
landholding rights to Sergio which warrants their ejectment from the subject landholding.Petitioner asserts
that: (1) the law is explicit that the tenant and his immediate family must work directly on the land; (2)
Sergio cannot pass as Domingos immediate family; (3) as evidenced by the Katulagan, Sergio has been
cultivating the land for more than two years prior to the filing of the complaint; and (4) when Domingo
subleased the land to Sergio, he is considered as having abandoned the land as a tenant.[23] She further
stresses that respondents admission, coupled with the finding of the DARAB that Sergio is tilling the land,
proved subtenancy. Consequently, she prays that the lease tenancy relationship between the contending
parties be declared terminated.

Domingo, on the other hand, denies that he subleased or mortgaged his tenancy rights to
anyone. He claims that he complied with all his obligations under the leasehold agreement over the subject
agricultural land, and thus prays for the dismissal of the case.

The petition is impressed with merit.

The DARAB erred in disregarding the Katulagan


(Agreement) as evidence.

The DARAB held that the Katulagan is inadmissible in evidence because it was not formally offered
before the PARAD, citing our ruling in People v. Mongado.[24] On appeal, however, the CA considered
the Katulagan, but found the same to be a mere promissory note tending to prove indebtedness and not
as an evidence of mortgage.
We cannot subscribe with the reasoning of the DARAB. The Rules of Court, particularly the Revised
Rules on Evidence, are specifically applicable to judicial proceedings, to wit:

Section 1. Evidence defined. Evidence is the means, sanctioned by these rules, of


ascertaining in a judicial proceeding the truth respecting a matter of fact.

Sec. 2. Scope. The rules of evidence shall be the same in all courts and in all trials and
hearings except as otherwise provided by law or these rules.[25] (Emphasis supplied)

In quasi judicial proceedings, the said rules shall not apply except by analogy or in a suppletory
character and whenever practicable and convenient.[26] In the instant case, the then prevailing DARAB
Rules of Procedures[27] provide that:
Section 2. Construction. These Rules shall be liberally construed to carry out the objectives
of agrarian reform and to promote just, expeditious and inexpensive adjudication and
settlement of agrarian cases, disputes or controversies.

xxxx

Section 3. Technical Rules Not Applicable. The Board and its Regional and Provincial
Adjudicators shall not be bound by technical rules of procedure and evidence as
prescribed in the Rules of Court, but shall proceed to hear and decide all agrarian cases,
disputes or controversies in a most expeditious manner, employing all reasonable means
to ascertain the facts of every case in accordance with justice and equity.

a) If and when a case comes up for adjudication wherein there is no applicable provision
under these rules, the procedural law and jurisprudence generally applicable to agrarian
disputes shall be applied;

b) The Adjudication Board (Board), and its Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudicators
(RARADs) and Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicators (PARADs) hereinafter referred to
as Adjudicators, shall have the authority to adopt any appropriate measure or procedure
in any given situation or matter not covered by these Rules. All such special measures or
procedures and the situations to which they have been applied must be reported to the
Board; and
c) The provisions of the Rules of Court shall not apply even in a suppletory
character unless adopted herein or by resolution of the Board. However, due process of
the law shall be observed and followed in all instances. (Emphasis supplied)

The DARAB Rules of Procedures explicitly provides that the Agrarian Reform Adjudicators are not
bound by technical rules of procedure and evidence in the Rules of Court nor shall the latter apply even
in a suppletory manner. Thus, we find that the DARAB erred in holding the Katulagan as inadmissible
since it was not formally offered and admitted.[28] Moreover, reliance on our ruling in People v.
Mongado, i.e., that "[t]he court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered," is
misplaced. We simply cannot find any legal basis for the DARAB to cite our ruling in a criminal case;[29] the
fundamental rule found in Rule 132 of the Rules of Court does not find any application in this agrarian
case.

Petitioner has sufficiently proven by clear and


convincing evidence the fact of subleasing.

The PARAD summed up the evidence presented by both parties as follows:

In the instant case, the evidence for the complainant are as follows:
1. Exhibit 1 Photocopy of an Investigation Report dated December 19, 1997 submitted by
Legal Officer I Dionisio Estimada to the Legal Services Division of DAR wherein he stated
in his findings that Verily, the tenants, particularly Domingo Carganillo, who actually and
finally accepted that he subleased the land to another is clear and blatant violation against
the landowner and co-owner for that matter. Hence, he recommended that Domingo
Carganillo and Sergio Carganillo be ejected from the landholding.

2. Exhibit 2 Affidavit dated January 21, 1998 of one Angela [Clarion] wherein she stated
that she knew for a fact that Domingo Carganillo mortgaged his tenancy rights in 1995 to
his brother Sergio Carganillo.

On the part of the respondent Domingo Carganillo, his evidence are:

1. Exhibit 1 The affidavit of one Sergio Carganillo, the other respondent and brother of
respondent Domingo Carganillo denying that the land was mortgaged by his brother to
him and stated that he usually help his brother to do some works in the landholding.
2. Exhibit 2 Affidavit dated February 3, 1998 of one Mariano Orina stating that being a
tenant in the adjoining landholding, he knows that Domingo Carganillo is always present
doing or supervising the activities in his field.

3. Exhibit 3 Sworn statement of Valentin Costales, the incumbent Barangay Agrarian


Reform Council Chairman of the place where the property is located attesting that
Domingo and Sergio Carganillo never violated any agrarian laws.

4. Exhbit 4 Sworn statement issued by one of the incumbent Barangay Kagawads having
jurisdiction of the land in suit, stating also to the fact that respondents never violated any
agrarian laws.

The PARAD assessed the evidence submitted and held that Felisa failed to discharge the burden
of proof of establishing her allegations, to wit:

After a careful assessment of the facts and evidence presented, the Board is of the view
and so holds that there is no evidence showing that respondent Domingo Carganillo
subleased the land to his brother Sergio Carganillo. The investigation report
dated December 19, 1997 of Legal Officer I Dionisio Estimada (Exhibit 1 of complaint) is
not conclusive. His conclusion that Domingo Carganillo accepted to him that he subleased
the property could not be accepted by this Board as fact. There is no evidence showing
that Domingo Carganillo accepted said matter to him. The Board cannot be compelled to
accept the report as true since, in the first place it had not ordered such investigation.

On appeal, the DARAB concurred with the findings of the PARAD stating that:
One of the contentions invoked by the complainant-appellant is that the landholding in
question was subleased by herein respondent-appellee to his co-respondent Sergio
Carganillo, who is in actual possession and cultivation thereof. This contention, however,
cannot be given due consideration. The Honorable Adjudicator a quo correctly ruled that
there was no subleasing in this case.

At this juncture, it is better to define what a sub-lessee means. In the case of Santiago vs.
Rodrigo, et al., CA-G.R. No. 33651-R, June 3, 1965, sub-tenant or sub-lessee has been
defined as a person who rents all, or a portion of the leased premises, from the lessor for
a term less than the original one, leaving a reversionary interest in the first lessee. Sub-
leasing therefore, creates a new estate dependent upon, out of, and distinct from, the
original leasehold. However, this is not true in the case at bar. Granting that Sergio
Carganillo is working on the land tenanted by respondent-appellee, such is not in the
nature of being a sub-lessee, but is merely helping his brother as an immediate member
of the family to cultivate the land. The employment of respondent-appellees brother to
cultivate the landholding in question is not in any way prejudicial to the interest of the
landowner. Also, it was ruled that the employment by the lessee of the members of his
immediate farm household does not come within the prohibition (De Guzman v. Santos,
6 SCRA 796, November 30, 1962).

Since the issue of sub-leasing was not properly proved by substantial evidence, the same
cannot be given favorable consideration.

On further appeal, the CA held thus:

Clearly, petitioners assertion that respondent Domingo subleased the subject landholding
to respondent Sergio cannot be given weight. She failed to prove with sufficient evidence
neither the fact of subleasing the subject landholding nor the mortgaging of the
possessory rights thereof to respondent Sergio. The document belatedly presented by
petitioner and denominated as Katulagan, is merely a promissory note which is a proof of
indebtedness and not as evidence to prove mortgage.

We disagree with the findings of fact of the CA and the agencies below. The confluence of
evidence shows that Felisa has clearly and convincingly established her allegation that Domingo subleased
his landholding to Sergio, to wit:

a) The investigation conducted by MARO Legal Officer Estimada shows that Domingo admitted
that the cultivation and possession of the subject landholding was subleased to Sergio as he was then
applying for work abroad.[30]

b) In her complaint, Felisa stressed that in one of her visits to the subject landholding prior to the
filing of the said complaint, she discovered that Sergio, the sublessee, was in actual possession and
cultivation of the landholding in question.[31] Petitioner further contended that Domingo subleased the said
agricultural leasehold to Sergio for the amount of P15,000.00.[32]

c) The Katulagan or Agreement establishes that indeed Domingo was indebted to Sergio in the
amount of P15,000.00.
d) The affidavit of Clarion, a resident of the municipality where the subject landholding lies, further
corroborates the said facts when she narrated the series of events leading up to Sergios possession of
said agricultural land:

xxxx

That I know for a fact that the above-described parcel of land was under cultivation by
one RICARDO PADILLO of Brgy. Amistad, Tayug, Pangasinan, formerly, but when the
same went abroad, he transferred his tenancy right to DOMINGO CARGANILLO, who in
the year 1995 mortgaged his tenancy rights to SERGIO CARGANILLO, his own brother;

That at present, the said parcel of land is under the cultivation of said SERGIO
CARGANILLO;

xxxx

Domingo did not even affirm or deny in his answer that Estimada conducted an investigation and
during such investigation, he admitted that he subleased subject landholding. It is totally against our
human nature to just remain reticent and say nothing in the face of false accusations. The natural instinct
of man impels him to resist an unfounded imputation. Hence, silence in such cases is almost always
construed as implied admission of the truth thereof.

Likewise, the attestations of BARC Chairman Costales and Barangay Kagawad Frago that
Domingo never violated his agreement with Felisa or any provision of the Land Reform Code, are
conclusions of law bereft of any factual basis. Time and again, we have held that general statements,
which are mere conclusions of law and not factual proof, are unavailing and do not suffice.

In view of the sublease, Domingo and Sergio


should be dispossessed of the subject agricultural
landholding.
Republic Act (RA) No. 3844 or the Agricultural Land Reform Code[33] is the
governing statute in actions involving leasehold of agricultural land. The pertinent provisions thereof state
as follows:

Sec. 36. Possession of Landholding; Exceptions. Notwithstanding any agreement as to


the period or future surrender of the land, an agricultural lessee shall continue in the
enjoyment and possession of his landholding except when his dispossession has
been authorized by the Court in a judgment that is final and executory if after
due hearing it is shown that:

xxxx

(7) the lessee employed a sub-lessee on his landholding in violation of the terms
of paragraph 2 of Section twenty seven.[34] (Emphasis supplied)

Sec. 37. Burden of Proof. The burden of proof to show the existence of a lawful cause for
the ejectment of an agricultural lessee shall rest upon the agricultural lessor.

The prohibition against subleasing an agricultural lease has already been in our statute books
even prior to the enactment of RA 3844. RA 1199, of The Agricultural Tenancy Act enacted in 1954,
similarly provides that:

SECTION 24. Prohibitions to Tenant:

xxxx

(2) It shall be unlawful for a share-tenant to employ a sub-tenant to furnish


labor or any phase of the work required of him under this Act, except in cases of
illness or any temporary incapacity on his part, in which eventuality the tenant or any
member of his immediate farm household is under obligation to report such illness or
incapacity to the landholder. Payment to the sub-tenant, in whatever form, for services
rendered on the land under this circumstance, shall be for the account of the tenant.
(Emphasis supplied)

However, Section 4[35] of RA 3844 declared all share tenancy to be contrary to public policy and,
in its stead, provided for the compulsory conversion of the sharing system into leasehold system where
the tenant continues in possession of the land for cultivation.

In this case, Domingo subleased his agricultural landholding to Sergio. It is prohibited, except in
the case of illness or temporary incapacity where he may employ laborers. Domingo does not claim illness
or temporary incapacity in his Answer. Therefore, we hereby declare the dispossession of Domingo and
Sergio from the subject agricultural land of the leaseholder.

b) DARAB Case No. 7863

Felisa is the owner of a parcel of land with an approximate area of 4,667 square meters registered
under Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-51201.[36] She alleged that the duly instituted lessee of the
agricultural land is the late Isabelo Ramirez (Isabelo).[37] During Isabelos lifetime, he subleased said
landholding to Soledad Agustin (Soledad), without Felisas knowledge and consent.[38] She argued that the
said act of her now deceased tenant is a ground for ejectment of Soledad, who is a mere sublessee.[39]

Ruling of the PARAD

After service of summons, Soledad filed her Answer dated January 20, 1998 affirming that Isabelo
was the duly instituted tenant of the subject landholding. [40] Upon his death, his possessory rights passed
on to his surviving spouse, who was not named in the Answer.[41] Soledad likewise alleged that said
surviving spouse continues to cultivate the subject landholding.[42]

In compliance with the PARADs Order dated January 20, 1998[43] requiring the parties to submit
their respective position papers, Felisa filed a position paper for all four cases,[44]attaching thereto a copy
of the Investigation Report of Estimada[45] and corroborating affidavit of Gano.[46]

The Investigation Report of the MARO Legal Officer Estimada stated that the lawful tenant was
the late Isabelo and not Soledad. Meanwhile, Gano declared in his affidavit that he knew that Isabelo
mortgaged his tenancy rights and possession to Soledad. He further averred that Soledad is presently
cultivating said landholding, having acquired her tenancy rights from Isabelo through the alleged
mortgage.
On the other hand, Soledad submitted the following affidavits: (1) her own affidavit wherein she
denied that she is Felisas tenant and contended that the true tenant is her sister-in-law Marina O. Ramirez
(Marina), the widow of her brother, the deceased Isabelo; (2) Marina, who affirmed that she is the true
tenant of Felisa as evidenced by the renewal of their leasehold contract dated May 30, 1997 and
corroborated Soledads statement that the latter does not possess any landholding owned or administered
by Felisa; (3) BARC Chairman Costales, who declared that as per their records, Soledad is not the
registered tenant of the petitioner nor has Soledad managed the activities of the said landholding; (4)
Timoteo Orina, owner of the adjoining agricultural land, who attested that Soledad never became a tenant,
tiller or manager of subject landholding; and (5) Silverio C. Bugayong, incumbent Barangay
Kagawad of Brgy. Amistad, who stated that Marina continued tilling the subject land after the death of
her husband.[47] In addition, Soledad submitted the leasehold contract dated May 30, 1997 (Tulag ti
Panagabang ti Talon), which showed that the leasehold formerly held by the deceased Isabelo is now
with his widow, Marina.

On April 13, 1998, PARAD Caddarao, dismissed the complaint for lack of merit.[48]

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal dated April 30, 1998 with the PARAD signifying her
intention to elevate the latters April 13, 1998 Decision.[49]

Ruling of the DARAB

On January 7, 2004, the DARAB promulgated a Decision dismissing the appeal for lack of merit.[50]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In her Memorandum, petitioner asserted that the DARAB failed to resolve the issue of non-
payment of lease raised in the companion cases.[51] The respondents did not file their memorandum.

On August 22, 2005, the CA rendered a Decision affirming the DARAB Decision.

Our Ruling
b) DARAB Case No. 7863

Felisa submits that the CA gravely erred in affirming the DARAB Decision dated January 7, 2004 by
assuming that the case against Soledad was already subsumed in the said Decision and in not ordering
or remanding the case to the DARAB for disposition or decision. Hence, Felisa now prays that we take a
second hard look at the assailed CA Decision and Resolution in order to avoid a miscarriage of justice.

The new evidence presented by the petitioner in


the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration
with Manifestation to the DARAB cannot be
admitted.

On March 24, 2004, Felisa filed a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration with Manifestation
with the DARAB, allegedly as an expanded discussion on what she averred in her Motion for
Reconsideration.[52]

We note though that aside from amplifying her arguments, petitioner likewise attached and
referred to new pieces of evidence in the form of: (1) affidavit of Rudy O. Tubiera dated September 14,
2001;[53] (2) affidavit of Liberato Cabigas;[54] (3) affidavit of Alberto A. Millan dated July 26, 2002[55] and
(4) survey plan.[56]

Section 12, Rule VIII of the 1994 DARAB New Rules of Procedures provide that only one motion
for reconsideration shall be allowed a party which shall be based on the ground that: (a) the findings
of facts in the said decision, order or resolution are not supported by substantial evidence,
or (b) the conclusions stated therein are against the law and jurisprudence. As expressed by
the Rule, the office of the Motion for Reconsideration is not for the reception of new evidence. Hence,
when Felisa submitted new pieces of evidence in her Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration, she went
beyond the stated purpose of the Motion for Reconsideration. In which case, we rule that the new
evidence presented by Felisa in the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration with Manifestation to the
DARAB cannot be admitted.
Petitioner has not established her claim of
sublease.

We exhaustively went over the Petition for Review and Felisas Memorandum submitted to the CA
and found the same bereft of any issue, whether of fact or law, involving the case against Soledad. In her
petition before the CA, Felisa presented the following arguments: (1) The DARAB erred in holding that
there exists no valid ground to warrant the ejectment of Domingo and Sergio; and (2) The DARAB erred
in considering only the issue of subleasing without giving credence to the issue of non-payment of lease
rentals as ground for ejectment.Nowhere in the discussion portion of either pleadings can the
name Soledad be found. Moreover, the issue presented in the case against Soledad is alleged subleasing
and not non-payment of lease rentals. If there is no issue presented, then there is no controversy to
resolve.

Similarly, in her appeal by certiorari before this Court, Felisa did not expound specifically on her
issues with the decisions of the agencies below with respect to Soledad. Petitioner, however, questions
the CAs affirmation of the DARAB Decision dated January 27, 2004.

We reiterate that the petitioner, as agricultural lessor, has the burden of


proof to show the existence of a lawful cause for the ejectment of an agricultural lessee.[57] In support of
her allegations, Felisa presented the Investigation Report of MARO Legal Officer Estimada and an affidavit
of a resident of the barangay where both the original leaseholder Isabelo and the alleged
sublessee, Soledad, reside. The full text of the Investigation Report with respect to his factual findings on
the case against Soledad is as follows:

In the dispute against Soledad Agustin, the lawful tenant was Isabelo Ramirez and not
Soledad Agustin. In the conference/mediation that was conducted it was discovered that
the cultivator and possessor of the land is actually Isabelo Ramirez. This is also being
covered by an Agricultural leasehold Contract.

The findings of fact as expressed above are not relevant and material to the question of sublease
which the petitioner alleges.

On the other hand, the affidavit of Gano reads as follows:


xxxx

That I know for a fact that the above-described parcel of land was being cultivated
formerly by the late, Isabelo Ramirez, a resident of Brgy. Amistad,
Tayug, Pangasinan, Philippines;

That I also have the knowledge that prior to the death of said Isabelo Ramirez, the same
mortgaged his tenancy rights and possession to Soledad Agustin and in fact, said Soledad
Agustin is at present cultivating and in possession of the above-described landholding;

That to the best of my knowledge, the transfer of tenancy rights and possession from
Isabelo Ramirez to Soledad Agustin by way of mortgage was made without the
knowledge and consent of the owners thereof;

That I know of the above facts because being a resident of the same barangay with the
former tenant and the present tenant of the said landholding, it is of common knowledge
in our community that Soledad Agustin is presently cultivating the same landholding and
that she acquired such tenancy rights from its former tenant by way of mortgage;

xxxx
In contrast to the Carganillo case above, the evidence presented by Felisa with respect
to Soledad is uncorroborated and unsubstantial. Hence, we rule that Felisa has not discharged her burden
of establishing her claim of sublease.

c) DARAB Case No. 7864 and d) DARAB Case No. 7865

In DARAB Case No. 7864, the first case against respondent Marcelina Solis (Marcelina), Felisa
represented that the tenant of the landholding, Pedro Solis (Pedro), died in June 1997 and was survived
by his wife, Marcelina.[58] She further alleged that Marcelina took over the cultivation of the 14,000-square
meter landholding without her knowledge and consent.[59] In addition, during the lifetime of Pedro, the
latter failed to pay lease rentals for three consecutive years from 1995 to 1997.[60] Hence, the case for
ejectment against Marcelina.[61]

With respect to the second case (DARAB Case No. 7865), Irene Aguinaldo and Felisa co-owned a
6,830.5-square meter landholding tenanted by Marcelina.[62] Felisa averred that Marcelina has not fully
paid the rental for the use of the land on the third cropping season.[63] Hence, the second case for
ejectment against Marcelina.[64]
Ruling of the PARAD

In her Answer, Marcelina specifically denied Felisas allegation of arrears in lease rentals from 1995
to 1997.[65] With respect to the second complaint, she admitted that while it is true that there were times
that the subject landholding were planted with palay on third cropping, this is not regular.[66] Moreover,
she averred that if ever the said landholding were planted with palay on third cropping and yields produce,
the landowner is given her due share.[67]

After submission of their respective position papers, the PARAD promulgated a Decision
dated April 14, 1998 dismissing both cases for lack of merit and evidence.[68]

Rulings of the DARAB and the Court of Appeals

The DARAB dismissed the appeal for lack of merit and affirmed the Decision of the PARAD in
toto.[69] On Petition for Review under Rule 43 to the CA, the appellate court affirmed the ruling of the
DARAB with respect to the issue of non-payment of lease rentals. On which basis, the CA dismissed the
petition.

Our Ruling
c) DARAB Case No. 7864 and d) DARAB Case No. 7865

DARAB Case No. 7864 should be dismissed for


failure of Felisa to properly indicate the appealing
party.

With respect to the first case against Marcelina, we resolve to dismiss the appeal of Felisa. Section
5 of Rule 45 provides that the failure of the petitioner to comply, among others, with the contents of the
petition for review on certiorari shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal thereof. Section 4 of the same
rule mandates, among others, that the petition should state the full name of the appealing party as the
petitioner. In this case, Felisa indicated in the caption as well as in the parties portion of the petition that
she is the landowner. Even in the verification and certification of non-forum shopping, Felisa attested that
she is the petitioner in the instant case. However, it appears in the PARAD records that the owners of the
subject 14,000-square meter agricultural land are Rosa R. Pajarito (Pajarito), Elvira A. Madolora (Madolora)
and Anastacia F. Lagado (Lagado).[70] Felisa is only the representative of the said landowners with respect
to the first case against Marcelina.[71] Thus, for failure of Felisa to indicate the appealing party with respect
to the said case, the appeal must perforce be dismissed. However, such failure does not affect the appeal
on the other three cases as Felisa is the owner/co-owner of the landholdings subject of said three cases.

Procedural lapse aside, DARAB Case No. 7864


should still be dismissed for failure of Felisa to
establish her principals claim.

In her Complaint dated October 6, 1997, Felisa, in representation of landowners Pajarito,


Madolora and Lagado, alleged that Pedro failed to pay the lease rental for the 14,000-square meter land
for agricultural years 1995, 1996 and 1997.[72] Subsequently, Pedro died and his widow, Marcelina took
over the tenancy and cultivation of the said land.[73] On the other hand, Marcelina sufficiently rebutted the
allegation of non-payment by presenting evidence to show that the landowners share was received by
therein complainants administrator, to wit:

Exhibit 1 Receipt dated March 30, 1995 issued by Irene M. Aguinaldo evidencing receipt
of their share of the produce of the subject land;
Exhibit 4 Receipt dated October 21, 1995 issued by Irene M. Aguinaldo evidencing receipt
of their share of the produce;
Exhibit 5 Receipt dated March 23, 1996 issued by Irene M. Aguinaldo evidencing receipt
of their share of the produce;
Exhibit 7 Receipt dated November 17, 1996 issued by Irene M. Aguinaldo evidencing
receipt of their share of the produce;
Exhibit 8 Receipt dated April 10, 1997 issued by Irene M. Aguinaldo evidencing receipt of
their share of the produce;
We hence agree with the PARAD that therein complainants were unable to produce substantial
proof to support their allegation of non-payment.

DARAB Case No. 7865 should likewise be


dismissed for failure of Felisa to establish her
claim.
With respect to the second case against Marcelina, Felisa alleged that the landholding in question
is principally devoted to the planting of palay three times a year.[74] However, Marcelina did not deliver her
share in the third cropping.[75]

In her Answer, Marcelina admitted that she is the tenant of the subject parcel of land co-owned
by Felisa and Irene Aguinaldo.[76] Marcelina, however, averred that while it was true that there were times
that the landholding was planted with palay on third cropping, this was not regular.[77] She further asserted
that she would give to the landowners their due shares if ever there was third cropping.[78]

In an Order dated January 20, 1998, the PARAD directed the parties to submit their position
papers, affidavits of witnesses and other evidence to support their respective claims.[79]

Felisa submitted her position paper[80] for the four cases subject of this Decision, together with the
Investigation Report of Estimada[81] and the affidavit of Camilo G. Taganas.[82]The Investigation Report
declared that the former tenant who was the husband of Marcelina did not pay any rental to
Felisa[83] because he recognized only the other co-owners of the land, who among others are the sisters
of Felisa.[84] In addition, in the affidavit of Camilo G. Taganas, the authorized administrator of the subject
parcel of land, he declared that Marcelina did not deliver the share of the landowners on the subject
landholding.[85]

On the other hand, Marcelina filed her individual compliance, supported by the following affidavits
and the purposes for which they were offered:

Exhibit 1 Notice of threshing and reaping dated March 14, 1995 addressed to Mrs. Irene
Aguinaldo, administrator and landowner of the property in question.
Exhibit 2 -- Receipt dated March 30, 1995 issued by Mrs. Irene Aguinaldo acknowledging
that respondent has duly complied with her obligations for this season.
Exhibit 3 -- Notice of reaping and threshing dated Nov. 6, 1995 to the landowner.
Exhibit 4 Receipt issued to respondent by Mrs. Irene Aguinaldo dated Nov. 10,
1995 acknowledging the fact that shares due to them was duly given and
delivered.
Exhibit 5 Receipt dated March 19, 1996 duly issued by Mrs. Irene Aguinaldo, the
landowner/administrator of the subject property.
Exhibit 6 -- Notice of reaping and threshing dated March 5, 1996 to prove that respondent
has been religiously fulfilling her obligations.
Exhibit 7 -- Notice sent to Mrs. Aguinaldo dated Sept. 2, 1996 informing him that since
they unreasonably refused to receive the shares due them, it was sold
and the proceeds thereof was deposited in the bank.
Exhibit 8 -- Notice of reaping and threshing dated Nov. 7, 1996 proving that respondent
has been faithfully complying with her obligations.
Exhibit 9 -- Acknowledgment and/or receipt duly issued by the landowner/administrator,
Mrs. Irene Aguinaldo dated November 17, 1996 to prove that the
obligations of the respondent for this date has been faithfully complied
with.
Exhibit 10 -- Receipt dated April 4, 1997 issued and signed by the
landowner/administrator, Mrs. Irene Aguinaldo, acknowledging the
delivery of the legal shares due them;
Exhibit 11 -- Notice of threshing and reaping dated March 26, 1997 showing that
obligations to do so was [sic]complied with.
Exhibit 12 -- Notice of reaping and threshing dated Oct. 14, 1997 to prove that landowner
of the landholding in question was duly notified.
Exhibit 13 -- Certification from the office of the BARC and issued by the BARC Chairman
himself attesting to the fact that shares due to landowners for Oct., 1997
was sold and deposited because of the unjustified refusal to receive them.
Exhibit 14 -- Receipt bearing the amount which represents the legal shares of the
landowners and deposited in the bank.
Exhibit 15 -- The name of the bank ROSBANK from which the proceeds of the sold shares
due to the landowner was deposited and it was deposited by Pedro Solis
and/or Marcelina Solis in the name of Irene Aguinaldo.
Exhibit 16 -- The passbook with account no. T-01689-5, containing the amount deposited
due to the landowners for those years stated therein.
Exhibit 17 -- Leasehold contract or Tulag ti Panagabang ti Talon, executed by and
between Irene Aguinaldo and Pedro Solis, landowner and tenant,
respectively. The purpose is to prove that tenancy relationships exists and
the same passes to respondent Marclina Solis, the surviving spouse of
Pedro Solis upon his death.
Exhibit 18 -- Investigation report conducted by the office of the BARC. The purpose of
which is to show that the then tenant and now succeeded by his wife
Marcelina Solis, has been duly complying with their obligations as
bonafide tenant thereof.
Exhibit 19 -- A sworn statement made by one Herminigildo P. Vinluan, a resident and
landowner of the lot adjacent or adjoining to the subject property,
attesting to the fact that the then tenant and now succeeded by herein
respondent never failed to comply with their obligations.
Exhibit 20 -- A sworn statement made by one Arsenio B. Orina, incumbent Brgy. Kgd. of
the barangay where the property is located attesting that respondent is
indeed the bonafide tenant of Mrs. Irene Aguinaldo.
Exhibit 21 -- Affidavit of Valentine O. Costales, the incumbent BARC Chairman of Brgy.
Amistad, Tayug, Pangasinan, proving and attesting the fact that Pedro
Solis and now succeeded by his wife Marcelina Solis is the bonafide tenant
of the subject landholding and that they are complying faithfully and
religiously with their obligations as such.
Exhibit 22 -- The sworn statement of Marcelina Solis, the respondent and successor of the
former tenant, swearing to the Hon. Board and to the public, that she
never failed or neglected any of the obligations imposed by law.

As held earlier, the petitioner, as agricultural lessor, has the burden of proof to show the existence
of a lawful cause for the ejectment of an agricultural lessee. In the instant case, we have carefully studied
the evidence presented by the petitioner and found the same wanting on the matter of third cropping
over the subject land. Other than the bare allegations in her complaint before the PARAD, Felisa did not
present any evidence to establish her claim that the subject agricultural land can regularly support a third
cropping. Neither did she present evidence to establish that their leasehold agreement includes a provision
on third cropping. Hence, her allegation of non-payment of the leasehold rentals for the third cropping
likewise finds no support in evidence.

In addition, we find that the evidence presented by Felisa is inconsistent on major points. In her
Complaint dated October 3, 1997, Felisa alleged that Marcelina is not delivering the shares of the land
with respect to the third cropping.[86] However, the said statement is contradicted in the Estimada
Investigation Report where it was indicated that Marcelina is not giving any rentals/shares to Felisa.

The contention of non-payment of the leasehold shares of the landowner has been effectively
rebutted by the evidence presented by Marcelina. Through Marcelinas evidence, we have established that
she had regularly complied with the leasehold contract, as supported by:
1. Notice of Reaping dated March 14, 1995
Receipt of Rental dated March 30, 1995 for 2nd crop 94-95
2. Notice of Reaping dated Nov. 6, 1995
Receipt of Rental dated November 10, 1995 for 1st crop 95
3. Notice of Reaping dated March 5, 1996
Receipt of Rental dated March 19, 1996 for 2nd crop 95-96
4. Notice of Reaping dated November 7, 1996
Receipt of Rental dated November 17, 1996 for 1st crop 96
5. Notice of Reaping dated March 26, 1997
Receipt of Rental dated April 5, 1997 for 2nd crop 96-97
6. Notice of Reaping dated October 14, 1997
Rental for 1st crop 1997 deposited in bank in land co-owner Irene
Aguinaldos name, as per BARC Certification dated October 27, 1997.
In addition, we have held earlier that the additional pieces of evidence Felisa attached and referred
to in her Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration with Manifestation cannot be admitted as reception of
new evidence is not within the office of a Motion for Reconsideration.

On the basis of the evidence presented, we cannot find sufficient evidence to support Felisas
claims. Hence, we agree with the factual findings of the CA and the agrarian tribunals that Felisa failed to
discharge the burden of proving her claim with the necessary quantum of proof.

With respect to all four cases, petitioner further alleges that (1) the Decision of the DARAB dated
January 27, 2004 and of the CA dated August 22, 2005 only disposed of the first case; and (2) the DARAB
failed to issue a consolidation order informing the parties of the consolidation of the four appealed cases
considering that these four cases have different parties and causes of action.[87]

Article VIII, Section 14 of the Constitution states that no decision shall be rendered by any court
without expressing clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. Petitioner argues that
the CA practically closed its eyes in affirming the Boards Decision.[88]

We do not agree. The Decision of the CA detailed the evidence presented by the parties.
Thereafter, it weighed the respective pieces of evidence submitted by the petitioner and the respondent
and chose the one that to its mind, deserved credence. Said Decision contained findings of facts as well
as an application of case law. The Decision states, thus:

With respect to the issue of non-payment of lease rentals, We affirm the ruling of the
DARAB as follows:

With respect to Case No. 01-1567, we find [that] the allegations of complainant
that respondents husband, Pedro Solis, deliberately failed to pay lease rentals for
the crop years 1995, 1996 and 1997 bereft of any evidence. The complainants
were unable to produce any proof to prove their accusations.

On the other hand, respondent has shown (be) substantial evidence that she or
her husband have complied with the duties of lawful tenant. The evidence
submitted by respondents (Exhibits 1 to 10) duly show that the representatives
of the complainants, Mrs. Irene R. Aguinaldo, received the landowners share for
agricultural year 1995 to 1997. This is shown specifically by Exhibits 1, 4, 5, 7 and
8.Moreover, the complainants were informed of the date of reaping and threshing
as shown by other evidence.

As to case No. 01-1568, the Board again fails to find any evidence showing that
respondent Marcelina Solis deliberately failed to deliver the produce for the third
cropping. The bare allegations of the complainant are insufficient to prove that
the said tenants have been remiss [sic] in her duties.

Respondent Marcelina Solis, on the other hand, has substantially proven by her
evidence her compliance with her obligation as a tenant. She has informed the
complainants through their administrator, Mrs. Irene Aguinaldo, the date of
threshing and reaping (Exhibits 1, 3, 6, 8, 11 and 12). She also submitted
evidence to show that the landowners share is received by complainants
administrator (Exhibit 2, 4, 5, 9 and 10). Other evidence submitted by respondent
is Exh. 7, wherein she informed Mrs. Aguinaldo that she deposited the proceeds
of the landowners share with the bank because she (Mrs. Aguinaldo) refused to
received (sic) it (Decision dated April 14, 1998, pp. 4-5, Rollo pp. 61-62).

In appeals of agrarian cases, this Court cannot make its own factual findings and
substitute the same for that of the DARAB, as the only function of this Court is to
determine whether the DARABs findings of fact are supported by substantial
evidence (Reyes vs. Reyes, 388 SCRA 471). Substantial Evidence is that amount of
relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion (Resngit-Marquez vs. Llamas, Jr., 385 SCRA 6). [89]

In any event, there was an earlier statement of the facts and the law involved in the decisions
rendered by the PARAD dated April 8, 1998, April 13, 1998 and April 14, 1998. In these decisions, the
facts and the law on which they were based were clearly and distinctly stated. Furthermore, in this case,
the Court has exhaustively gone through the records and made its own findings of facts, rather than
further delay the disposition of the case by remanding the records for further proceedings.

With regard to the issue of consolidation, we find in the records that although petitioner filed
separate notices of appeal for the four cases, she but filed one consolidated Appeal Memorandum
dated October 7, 1998 to the DARAB, putting into the caption all the appealed cases.[90] She persisted in
consolidating the said cases in her Motion for Reconsideration of the DARAB Decision, Supplemental
Motion for Reconsideration with Manifestation dated March 24, 2004,[91] Petition for Review
dated December 6, 2004 to the CA,[92] Motion for Reconsideration (ad cautelam) dated September 13
2005[93] and the Petition for Review on Certiorari dated January 20, 2006 to this Court.[94] In all of these
pleadings where petitioner consolidated the said four cases, petitioner sought the jurisdiction of this Court
and the agencies below for relief. Gainsaid on equitable ground of estoppel, she cannot now come to this
Court assailing the consolidation of said cases, which was brought about by her own acts.

WHEREFORE, we partially GRANT the petition.

1. In DARAB Case No. 7862, we hereby AUTHORIZE THE DISPOSSESSION of


respondents Domingo and Sergio Carganillo from the subject landholding.

2. In DARAB Case No. 7863, we AFFIRM the dismissal of the complaint against
respondent Soledad Agustin for failure of the petition to establish her claim.

3. In DARAB Case No. 7864, we AFFIRM the dismissal of the complaint against
respondent Marcelina Solis for failure of the petitioner to establish her claim and to properly indicate
the appealing party in violation of Section 4 in relation to Section 5 Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

4. In DARAB Case No. 7865, we AFFIRM the dismissal of the complaint against
respondent Marcelina Solis for failure of the petitioner to establish her claim.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
German, Milagros A., Agrarian Law in the New Society 7 (1980).
[2]
DARAB records, pp. 3-1.
[3]
Id. at 31.
[4]
Id. at 46.
[5]
Id.
[6]
Id.
[7]
Id.
[8]
Id at 44.
[9]
Id
[10]
Id. at 32.
[11]
Id. at 52.
[12]
Id.
[13]
Id. at 51.
[14]
Id. at 50.
[15]
Id. at 49.
[16]
Id. at 61-54.
[17]
Id at 65-63.
[18]
Id. at 62.

It reads:

Ilocano (original) English Translation


Katulagan Agreement
Siak ni Domingo Caganillo agnaed ditoy I, Domingo Carganillo, residing at Brgy.
Brgy. Sitio Cabuaan, Tayug, Sitio Cabuaan, Tayug, Pangasinan, of legal
Pangasinan. Nahustuan ti edad, gapu ti age, due to necessity, have borrowed
panagkasapulak nakabuludak ti kuarta nga money to the amount of P10,000.00 +
aggatad ti P10,000.00 + 4,000.00 + 4,000.00 + 1,000.00 from Mr. & Mrs.
1,000.00 kada Mr. & Mrs. Sergio Carganillo, Sergio Carganillo, residing at Brgy. Legaspi,
agnaed ti Brgy. Legaspi, Tayug, Tayug, Pangasinan, and as evidence of this
Pangasinan, ket bilang pammaneknek loan, I have signed below together with the
daytoy a bulod to, ipirmak ti nagan ko witnesses today the 20th of April 1995. This
agraman dagiti saksi iti daytoy met lang a constitutes as proof of our agreement.
petsa April 20, 1995. Agserbi daytoy nga (Sgd.) Domingo Carganillo
pammatalged iti daytoy nga katulagan mi. (Sgd.) Sergio Caganillo
(Sgd.) Domingo Carganillo by: Mary Ann Carganillo
(Sgd.) Sergio Caganillo (wife)
by: Mary Ann Carganillo (Sgd.) witnesses
(wife)
(Sgd.) witnesses

[19]
Id. at 85-79; penned by Assistant Secretary Augusto P. Quijano, with Undersecretary Rolando
G. Mangulabnan, Assistant Secretaries Lorenzo R. Reyes, Edgar A. Igano and Rustico T. Belen,
concurring.
[20]
CA rollo, pp. 8-21.
[21]
Id. at 107-113; penned by Associate Justice Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. and concurred in by
Associate Justices Portia Alino-Hormachuelos and Vicente Q. Roxas.
[22]
Id. at 113.
[23]
Id. at 9-11.
[24]
138 Phil. 699 (1969).
[25]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 128.
[26]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 1, Section 4 provides:
SEC. 4. In what cases not applicable. These Rules shall not apply to election cases, land
registration cases, cadastral, naturalization and insolvency proceedings, and other cases not
herein provided for, except by analogy or in a suppletory character and whenever practicable
and convenient.
[27]
Adopted on May 30, 1994 by the DARAB. Subsequently repealed on January 17, 2003 and
on September 1, 2009.
[28]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 132, Sec. 34 provides:
Sec. 34. Offer of Evidence. The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally
offered. The purpose for which evidence is offered must be specified.
[29]
Supra note 24 at 706.
[30]
Rollo, p. 65.
[31]
Id. at 29.
[32]
Id. at 129.
[33]
Approved August 8, 1963.
[34]
SECTION 27. Prohibitions to Agricultural Lessee. It shall be unlawful for the agricultural lessee:
xxxx
(2) To employ a sub-lessee on his landholding: Provided, however, That in case of illness or
temporary incapacity he may employ laborers whose services on his landholding shall be on
his account.
[35]
SECTION 4. Abolition of Agricultural Share Tenancy. Agricultural share tenancy, as
herein defined, is hereby declared to be contrary to public policy and shall be
abolished: Provided, That existing share tenancy contracts may continue in force and effect
in any region or locality, to be governed in the meantime by the pertinent provisions of
Republic Act Numbered Eleven hundred and ninety-nine, as amended, until the end of the
agricultural year when the National Land Reform Council proclaims that all the government
machineries and agencies in that region or locality relating to leasehold envisioned in this
Code are operating, unless such contracts provide for a shorter period or the tenant sooner
exercises his option to elect the leasehold system: Provided, further, That in order not to
jeopardize international commitments, lands devoted to crops covered by marketing
allotments shall be made the subject of a separate proclamation that adequate provisions,
such as the organization of cooperatives, marketing agreements, or other similar workable
arrangements, have been made to insure efficient management on all matters requiring
synchronization of the agricultural with the processing phases of such crops: Provided,
furthermore, That where the agricultural share tenancy contract has ceased to be
operative by virtue of this Code, or where such a tenancy contract has been
entered into in violation of the provisions of this Code and is, therefore, null and
void, and the tenant continues in possession of the land for cultivation, there shall
be presumed to exist a leasehold relationship under the provisions of this Code, without
prejudice to the right of the landowner and the former tenant to enter into any other lawful
contract in relation to the land formerly under tenancy contract, as long as in the interim the
security of tenure of the former tenant under Republic Act Numbered Eleven hundred and
ninety-nine, as amended, and as provided in this Code, is not impaired: Provided, finally, That
if a lawful leasehold tenancy contract was entered into prior to the effectivity of this Code,
the rights and obligations arising therefrom shall continue to subsist until modified by the
parties in accordance with the provisions of this Code. (Emphasis supplied)
[36]
PARAD records, pp. 2-1.
[37]
Id.
[38]
Id.
[39]
Id.
[40]
Id. at 6.
[41]
Id.
[42]
Id.
[43]
Id. at 16.
[44]
DARAB records, pp. 48-47.
[45]
Id at 46-44.
[46]
Id at 43.
[47]
PARAD records, pp. 14-8.
[48]
Id. at 17-15.
[49]
Id. at 18.
[50]
DARAB records, p. 80.
[51]
CA rollo, p. 104.
[52]
DARAB records, pp. 184-154.
[53]
Annex G.
[54]
Annex H.
[55]
Annex I.
[56]
Annex J.
[57]
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 3844, Section 37.
[58]
Rollo, p. 130.
[59]
Id.
[60]
Id.
[61]
Id.
[62]
Id at 131.
[63]
Id.
[64]
Id.
[65]
PARAD records, p. 9.
[66]
Id.
[67]
Id.
[68]
Id. at 38-34.
[69]
Rollo, p. 33.
[70]
PARAD records, p. 4.
[71]
Id.
[72]
Id. at 3.
[73]
Id.
[74]
Id. at 2.
[75]
Id.
[76]
Id. at 11.
[77]
Id.
[78]
Id.
[79]
Id. at 12.
[80]
DARAB records, pp. 57-48.
[81]
Id. at 46-45.
[82]
Id. at 42.
[83]
PARAD records, pp. 34-32.
[84]
Id.
[85]
Id. at 42.
[86]
Id. at 2.
[87]
Rollo, p. 14.
[88]
Id. at 13.
[89]
Id. at 24-25.
[90]
DARAB records, pp. 65-63.
[91]
Id. at 183-174.
[92]
CA rollo, pp. 8-21.
[93]
Id. at 116-126.
[94]
Rollo, pp. 3-17.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

ANUNCIO C. BUSTILLO, G.R. No. 160718


EMILIO SUMILHIG, JR., and
AGUSTIN BILLEDO, JR.,
Petitioners,
Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus - BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:


Respondent. May 12, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

It is disputably presumed that official duty has been regularly performed. In this case, this presumption
remains unrebutted; hence, petitioners who were charged with violations of Section 3(e) of Republic Act
(RA) No. 3019, deserve an acquittal. It was not proven that they gave undue preference or acted in
evident bad faith in effecting the transfer of the properties owned by the local government unit.
This Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] assails the July 31, 2003 Decision[2] of the Sandiganbayan in
Criminal Case No. 24741, finding herein petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section
3(e) of RA 3019. Also assailed is the November 6, 2003 Resolution[3] denying the Motion for
Reconsideration.

Factual Antecedents

Congressman Ceferino Paredes, Jr. (Congressman Paredes) used a portion of his Countryside
Development Fund (CDF) to purchase one unit of Toyota Tamaraw FX and six units
of Kawasakimotorcycles. All vehicles were registered in the name of the Municipality of Bunawan and
were turned over to the municipality through its mayor, herein petitioner Anuncio C. Bustillo (Bustillo).

On May 17, 1995, the Sangguniang Bayan of Bunawan passed Resolution No. 95-27[4] which authorized
the transfer without cost of the aforesaid vehicles to the San Francisco Water District (SFWD). Pursuant
thereto, Bustillo executed on June 19, 1995, a Deed of Transfer[5] relative to the aforementioned vehicles
in favor of the SFWD represented by its General Manager, Elmer T. Luzon (Luzon).

On July 27, 1995, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Agusan del Sur passed Resolution No.
183[6] disapproving the Sangguniang Bayans Resolution No. 95-27 for being violative of Section 381[7] of
RA 7160 or the Local Government Code. On August 17, 1995, it passed Resolution No. 246[8] canceling
and declaring the Deed of Transfer as null and void for being highly irregular and grossly violative of
Section 381 of RA 7160.

On May 23, 1996, a complaint[9] was filed charging Bustillo, Vice-Mayor Agustin Billedo, Jr. (Billedo),
and Sangguniang Bayan members Teogenes Tortor (Tortor), Emilio Sumilhig, Jr. (Sumilhig), Ruth C. Orot
(Orot), and Ernesto Amador, Jr., with violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019. Also included in the complaint
were Antonio Taotao and Luzon, the Board Secretary and General Manager, respectively, of SFWD.

On August 13, 1996, the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao issued a Resolution which
provides:

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Office finds probable cause to


prosecute respondents Antonio C. Bustillo, Agustin Billedo, Jr., Teogenes Tortor, Emilio
Sumilhig, Jr., Ruth C. Orot, Ernesto Amador, Jr., and Elmer T. Luzon for violation of Section
3 (e) of Republic Act 3019. It is hereby recommended that the enclosed Information be
filed with the Sandiganbayan against the above-named respondents.
FINDING insufficient evidence to hold respondent Antonio Taotao, Board
Secretary of SFWD, liable for the charge, let the instant case against him be dismissed.

SO RESOLVED.[10]

Consequently, on June 24, 1998, an Information was filed with the Sandiganbayan docketed as Criminal
Case No. 24741 charging Bustillo, Billedo, Tortor, Sumilhig, Orot, Amador, and Luzon, for violation of
Section 3(e) of RA 3019, committed as follows:
That on or about 19 June 1995, or shortly prior or subsequent thereto, in San
Francisco, Agusan del Sur, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused
Anuncio C. Bustillo, a public officer being then the Mayor of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur,
with salary grade 27, Agustin Billedo, Jr., Vice Mayor of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur,
Teogenes Tortor, Emilio Sumilhig, Jr., Ruth C. Orot, Ernesto Amador, being then members
of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Bunawan, and Elmer T. Luzon, General Manager of
San Francisco Water District (SFWD), all public officers with salary grades below 27,
committing the offense in relation to their official duties and taking advantage of their
official positions, conspiring and confederating with each other [sic], thru evident bad
faith, did there and then, willfully, unlawfully and criminally, cause undue injury to the
government, by passing Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 95-27 which transferred
without cost one (1) unit of Tamaraw FX vehicle and six (6) units of KE Kawasaki
motorcycles purchased for the Municipality of Bunawan out of the Countryside
Development Fund of Congressman Ceferino Paredes, Jr. and municipal counterpart fund
and which were newly purchased and in perfect running condition, to the San Francisco
Water District in violation of Section 381 of R.A. 7160, and despite the subsequent
nullification of SB Resolution No. 95-27 by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Agusan del
Sur and the repeated demands by the municipal government of Bunawan, accused Elmer
T. Luzon and the San Francisco Water District refused to surrender the afore-enumerated
motor vehicle and motorcycles to the Municipality of Bunawan, thereby depriving it of the
possession, ownership and use thereof, to the damage and prejudice of said local
government unit.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[11]

All the accused posted their respective bail for their provisional liberty, with the exception of Orot who died
on June 28, 1998.[12]

On April 16, 1999, Bustillo, Billedo, Tortor and Sumilhig entered pleas of Not Guilty.[13]

During pre-trial conference[14] held on June 7, 1999, the following facts were admitted by both the
prosecution and the defense:
1) At the time material to this case all the accused are public officers namely,
Anuncio C. Bustillo as Municipal Mayor and Agustin Billedo, Jr., as Vice Mayor, Teogenes
Tortor and Emilio Sumilhig, Jr., as members of the Sangguniang Bayan all of the
Municipality of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur;

2) That during the local election held on May 8, 1995, accused Anuncio C. Bustillo
was not re-elected as Mayor of the Municipality of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur;

3) That on May 17, 1995, the Sangguniang Bayan of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur,
during its 17th regular session passed Resolution No. 95-27 transferring without any
consideration and cost to the San Francisco Water District the following properties: one
(1) unit of Tamaraw Toyota FX and six (6) units of Kawasaki Motorcycles; Accused Agustin
Billedo, Jr., Teogenes Tortor and Emilio Sumilhig, Jr., were among the members of the
said council who voted to approve said Resolution;
4) That on June 19, 1995, accused Anuncio C. Bustillo in behalf of
the Municipality of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur executed a Deed of Transfer relative to the
above mentioned vehicles in favor of San Francisco Water District represented by Elmer
T. Luzon, General Manager;

5) That on July 27, 1995, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Agusan del Sur in its
3 regular session passed Resolution No. 183, series of 1995 disapproving Sangguniang
rd

Bayan Resolution No. 95-27 of the Municipality of Bunawan;

6) That on August 17, 1995, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Agusan del Sur
passed Resolution No. 246, series of 1995, canceling and declaring the aforementioned
Deed of Transfer executed by and between the Municipality of Bunawan and San
Francisco Water District as null and void;

7) That, in a letter dated July 11, 1995, of Leonardo Barrios, Municipal Mayor of
Bunawan, Agusan del Sur addressed to the Director of San Francisco Water District, it
was requested that the subject Tamaraw FX and Kawasaki Motorcycles owned by the
Municipality of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur be returned to the Municipality of Bunawan;

8) That in response to said letter dated July 11, 1995, of Municipal Mayor
Leonardo Barrios, Antonio Tao-Tao, Acting Board Secretary of San Francisco Water
District on his letter dated July 16, 1995, refused to return the subject vehicles;

9) That the subject vehicles are all newly purchased and serviceable and in good
running condition at the time of the transfer in question;

The other set of facts agreed upon were:

a) That the purchase price or value of the Toyota Tamaraw FX was P400,000.00
and the six (6) units Kawasaki Motorcycles P305,100.00, or a total purchase price or value
of P705,100.00 Pesos;
b) That Resolution No. 95-27 was unanimously approved by the members of the
Sangguniang Bayan of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur and was not judicially declared null and
void.

On June 15, 1999, the SFWD executed a Deed of Donation[15] effecting the transfer of the aforesaid
vehicles in favor of the Municipality of Bunawan because according to SFWD, the water projects funded
by the CDF of Congressman Paredes were already completed.

Thereafter, Luzon and Amador also entered pleas of Not Guilty.

On December 9, 1999, the Sandiganbayan was informed of the death of Tortor.[16]

During trial, the prosecution presented three witnesses, namely: 1) Florencia Ilorde, 2) Lilia J. Nacorda,
and 3) Leonardo Barrios. After the testimonies of the witnesses and the admission of its exhibits, the
prosecution rested its case.[17]

On December 6, 1999, herein petitioners filed a Demurrer to Evidence[18] but it was denied[19] for lack of
merit. Luzons Demurrer to Evidence[20] was likewise denied on February 4, 2000.[21] Thus, the defense
presented its evidence. Four witnesses, namely: 1) Luzon, 2) Benigno G. Asis, 3) Sumilhig, and 4) Ceferino
S. Paredes, were presented along with other exhibits.

Ruling of the Sandiganbayan

On July 31, 2003, the Sandiganbayan rendered its Decision[22] finding petitioners guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019. Luzon and Amador were acquitted for failure of the
prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The case against Tortor and Orot was dismissed
on account of their demise.

Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration[23] which was denied in a Resolution dated November 6,
2003.[24]

Issue

Hence this Petition for Review on Certiorari faulting the Sandiganbayan for finding petitioners
guilty of violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.
Our Ruling

The Sandiganbayan based its conviction of (Mayor) Bustillo, (Vice-Mayor) Billedo and (Councilor) Sumilhig
on the finding that they conspired to effect the transfer of the vehicles to the prejudice of
the Municipality of Bunawan in violation of the provision of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.

Section 3(e) of RA 3019 provides:

Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of


public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt
practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
xxxx

(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving
any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of
his official, administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith
or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of
offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other
concessions.

The elements of the offense are as follows: (1) that the accused are public officers or private
persons charged in conspiracy with them; (2) that said public officers commit the prohibited acts during
the performance of their official duties or in relation to their public positions; (3) that they caused undue
injury to any party, whether the Government or a private party; (4) that such injury is caused by giving
unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to such parties; and (5) that the public officers have acted
with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.[25]

In this case, only the first element was proven. At the time material to this case, all the petitioners are
public officers, namely, Bustillo as Municipal Mayor, Billedo as Vice Mayor, and Sumilhig as member of
the Sangguniang Bayan.

All the other elements were not present. It cannot be denied that the transfer of the vehicles to SFWD
was made in furtherance of the purpose for which the funds were released which is to help in the planning,
monitoring and coordination of the implementation of the waterworks projects located throughout
the Province of Agusan del Sur. The Deed of Donation expressly provided that the subject vehicles shall
be used for the same purpose for which they were purchased.
Moreover, the transfer was made to ensure the success of the implementation of the CDF-funded
waterworks projects of the province of Agusan del Sur. In the Memorandum of Agreement
dated February 10, 1993, SFWD was designated to implement, control or supervise all the CDF-funded
waterworks projects. Clearly, the vehicles were donated to SFWD not because it was given any preference,
unwarranted benefits or undue advantage, but in recognition of its technical expertise.

We find no evidence on record which would show that petitioners were motivated by bad faith when they
transferred the vehicles to SFWD. Bustillo, as Mayor, is authorized by law to enter into contracts for and
in behalf of the local government unit. Billedo, as Vice Mayor, acted as the Presiding Officer of
the Sangguniang Bayan and did not even vote for the passage of Resolution No. 95-27. Said Resolution
was unanimously passed by the Sangguniang Bayan and Sumilhig was only one of those who voted for
its passage.
In sum, the petitioners have in their favor the presumption of regularity in the performance of official
duties which the records failed to rebut. The presumption of regularity of official acts may be rebutted by
affirmative evidence of irregularity or failure to perform a duty. The presumption, however, prevails until
it is overcome by no less than clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. Thus, unless the presumption
in rebutted, it becomes conclusive. Every reasonable intendment will be made in support of the
presumption and in case of doubt as to an officers act being lawful or unlawful, construction should be in
favor of its lawfulness.[26]

WHEREFORE, the July 31, 2003 Decision of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 24741 and
its November 6, 2003 Resolution are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioners Anuncio C. Bustillo,
Agustin Billedo, Jr. and Emilio Sumilhig, Jr., are hereby ACQUITTED for failure to prove their guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
Rollo, pp. 9-41.
[2]
Records, Vol. II, pp. 808-835; penned by Associate Justice Godofredo L. Legaspi and concurred
in by Associate Justices Edilberto G. Sandoval and Norberto Y. Geraldez.
[3]
Id. at 978-979.
[4]
Id. Vol. I, pp. 251-252.
[5]
Id. at 253-254.
[6]
Id. at 255-257.
[7]
Section 381. Transfer Without Cost. Property which has become unserviceable or is no longer
needed may be transferred without cost to another office, agency, subdivision or
instrumentality of the national government or another local government unit at an appraised
valuation determined by the local Committee on Awards. Such transfer shall be subject to the
approval of the sanggunian concerned making the transfer and by the head of the office,
agency, subdivision, instrumentality or local government unit receiving the property.
[8]
Records, Vol. I, pp. 258-259.
[9]
Id. at 8-9.
[10]
Id. at 6.
[11]
Id. at 1-2.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL G.R. No. 178087


REVENUE,
Petitioner, Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


BRION,
- versus - DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

KUDOS METAL CORPORATION, Promulgated:


Respondent. May 5, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:


The prescriptive period on when to assess taxes benefits both the government and the
taxpayer.[1] Exceptions extending the period to assess must, therefore, be strictly construed.

This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks to set aside the Decision[2] dated March 30, 2007 of
the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) affirming the cancellation of the assessment notices for having been issued
beyond the prescriptive period and the Resolution[3] dated May 18, 2007 denying the motion for
reconsideration.
Factual Antecedents

On April 15, 1999, respondent Kudos Metal Corporation filed its Annual Income Tax Return (ITR)
for the taxable year 1998.

Pursuant to a Letter of Authority dated September 7, 1999, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)
served upon respondent three Notices of Presentation of Records. Respondent failed to comply with these
notices, hence, the BIR issued a Subpeona Duces Tecum dated September 21, 2006, receipt of which
was acknowledged by respondents President, Mr. Chan Ching Bio, in a letter dated October 20, 2000.

A review and audit of respondents records then ensued.

On December 10, 2001, Nelia Pasco (Pasco), respondents accountant, executed a Waiver of the
Defense of Prescription,[4] which was notarized on January 22, 2002, received by the BIR Enforcement
Service on January 31, 2002 and by the BIR Tax Fraud Division on February 4, 2002, and accepted by
the Assistant Commissioner of the Enforcement Service, Percival T. Salazar (Salazar).
This was followed by a second Waiver of Defense of Prescription[5] executed by Pasco on February
18, 2003, notarized on February 19, 2003, received by the BIR Tax Fraud Division on February 28,
2003 and accepted by Assistant Commissioner Salazar.

On August 25, 2003, the BIR issued a Preliminary Assessment Notice for the taxable year 1998
against the respondent. This was followed by a Formal Letter of Demand with Assessment Notices for
taxable year 1998, dated September 26, 2003 which was received by respondent on November 12, 2003.
Respondent challenged the assessments by filing its Protest on Various Tax Assessments on
December 3, 2003 and its Legal Arguments and Documents in Support of Protests against Various
Assessments on February 2, 2004.

On June 22, 2004, the BIR rendered a final Decision[6] on the matter, requesting the immediate
payment of the following tax liabilities:
Kind of Tax Amount
Income Tax P 9,693,897.85
VAT 13,962,460.90
EWT 1,712,336.76
Withholding Tax-Compensation 247,353.24
Penalties 8,000.00
Total P25,624,048.76

Ruling of the Court of Tax Appeals, Second Division

Believing that the governments right to assess taxes had prescribed, respondent filed on August
27, 2004 a Petition for Review[7] with the CTA. Petitioner in turn filed his Answer.[8]
On April 11, 2005, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Preferential Resolution of the Issue on
Prescription.[9]

On October 4, 2005, the CTA Second Division issued a Resolution[10] canceling the assessment
notices issued against respondent for having been issued beyond the prescriptive period. It found the first
Waiver of the Statute of Limitations incomplete and defective for failure to comply with the provisions of
Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) No. 20-90. Thus:
First, the Assistant Commissioner is not the revenue official authorized to sign the
waiver, as the tax case involves more than P1,000,000.00. In this regard, only the
Commissioner is authorized to enter into agreement with the petitioner in extending the
period of assessment;

Secondly, the waiver failed to indicate the date of acceptance. Such date of
acceptance is necessary to determine whether the acceptance was made within the
prescriptive period;

Third, the fact of receipt by the taxpayer of his file copy was not indicated on the
original copy. The requirement to furnish the taxpayer with a copy of the waiver is not
only to give notice of the existence of the document but also of the acceptance by the
BIR and the perfection of the agreement.

The subject waiver is therefore incomplete and defective. As such, the three-year
prescriptive period was not tolled or extended and continued to run. x x x[11]

Petitioner moved for reconsideration but the CTA Second Division denied the motion in a
Resolution[12] dated April 18, 2006.
Ruling of the Court of Tax Appeals, En Banc

On appeal, the CTA En Banc affirmed the cancellation of the assessment notices. Although it ruled that
the Assistant Commissioner was authorized to sign the waiver pursuant to Revenue Delegation Authority
Order (RDAO) No. 05-01, it found that the first waiver was still invalid based on the second and third
grounds stated by the CTA Second Division. Pertinent portions of the Decision read as follows:

While the Court En Banc agrees with the second and third grounds for invalidating
the first waiver, it finds that the Assistant Commissioner of the Enforcement Service is
authorized to sign the waiver pursuant to RDAO No. 05-01, which provides in part as
follows:

A. For National Office cases

Designated Revenue Official

1. Assistant Commissioner (ACIR), For tax fraud and policy


Enforcement Service cases

2. ACIR, Large Taxpayers Service For large taxpayers cases


other than those cases falling under
Subsection B hereof

3. ACIR, Legal Service For cases pending


verification and awaiting
resolution of certain legal issues prior to
prescription and for
issuance/compliance of Subpoena
Duces Tecum

4. ACIR, Assessment Service (AS) For cases which are


pending in or subject to
review or approval by the ACIR,
AS

Based on the foregoing, the Assistant Commissioner, Enforcement Service is


authorized to sign waivers in tax fraud cases. A perusal of the records reveals that the
investigation of the subject deficiency taxes in this case was conducted by the National
Investigation Division of the BIR, which was formerly named the Tax Fraud Division. Thus,
the subject assessment is a tax fraud case.

Nevertheless, the first waiver is still invalid based on the second and third grounds
stated by the Court in Division. Hence, it did not extend the prescriptive period to assess.

Moreover, assuming arguendo that the first waiver is valid, the second waiver is
invalid for violating Section 222(b) of the 1997 Tax Code which mandates that the period
agreed upon in a waiver of the statute can still be extended by subsequent written
agreement, provided that it is executed prior to the expiration of the first period agreed
upon. As previously discussed, the exceptions to the law on prescription must be strictly
construed.

In the case at bar, the period agreed upon in the subject first waiver expired
on December 31, 2002. The second waiver in the instant case which was supposed to
extend the period to assess to December 31, 2003 was executed on February 18,
2003 and was notarized on February 19, 2003. Clearly, the second waiver was executed
after the expiration of the first period agreed upon. Consequently, the same could not
have tolled the 3-year prescriptive period to assess.[13]

Petitioner sought reconsideration but the same was unavailing.

Issue

Hence, the present recourse where petitioner interposes that:

THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS EN BANC ERRED IN RULING THAT THE GOVERNMENTS
RIGHT TO ASSESS UNPAID TAXES OF RESPONDENT PRESCRIBED.[14]

Petitioners Arguments

Petitioner argues that the governments right to assess taxes is not barred by prescription as the
two waivers executed by respondent, through its accountant, effectively tolled or extended the period
within which the assessment can be made. In disputing the conclusion of the CTA that the waivers are
invalid, petitioner claims that respondent is estopped from adopting a position contrary to what it has
previously taken. Petitioner insists that by acquiescing to the audit during the period specified in the
waivers, respondent led the government to believe that the delay in the process would not be utilized
against it. Thus, respondent may no longer repudiate the validity of the waivers and raise the issue of
prescription.

Respondents Arguments

Respondent maintains that prescription had set in due to the invalidity of the waivers executed by Pasco,
who executed the same without any written authority from it, in clear violation of RDAO No. 5-01. As to
the doctrine of estoppel by acquiescence relied upon by petitioner, respondent counters that the principle
of equity comes into play only when the law is doubtful, which is not present in the instant case.
Our Ruling

The petition is bereft of merit.

Section 203[15] of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 (NIRC) mandates the government
to assess internal revenue taxes within three years from the last day prescribed by law for the filing of the
tax return or the actual date of filing of such return, whichever comes later. Hence, an assessment notice
issued after the three-year prescriptive period is no longer valid and effective. Exceptions however are
provided under Section 222[16] of the NIRC.

The waivers executed by respondents accountant


did not extend the period within which the
assessment can be made

Petitioner does not deny that the assessment notices were issued beyond the three-year
prescriptive period, but claims that the period was extended by the two waivers executed by respondents
accountant.

We do not agree.

Section 222 (b) of the NIRC provides that the period to assess and collect taxes may only be
extended upon a written agreement between the CIR and the taxpayer executed before the expiration of
the three-year period. RMO 20-90[17] issued on April 4, 1990 and RDAO 05-01[18] issued on August 2,
2001 lay down the procedure for the proper execution of the waiver, to wit:

1. The waiver must be in the proper form prescribed by RMO 20-90. The phrase but not
after ______ 19 ___, which indicates the expiry date of the period agreed upon to
assess/collect the tax after the regular three-year period of prescription, should be
filled up.

2. The waiver must be signed by the taxpayer himself or his duly authorized
representative. In the case of a corporation, the waiver must be signed by any of its
responsible officials. In case the authority is delegated by the taxpayer to a
representative, such delegation should be in writing and duly notarized.
3. The waiver should be duly notarized.

4. The CIR or the revenue official authorized by him must sign the waiver indicating that
the BIR has accepted and agreed to the waiver. The date of such acceptance by the
BIR should be indicated. However, before signing the waiver, the CIR or the revenue
official authorized by him must make sure that the waiver is in the prescribed form,
duly notarized, and executed by the taxpayer or his duly authorized representative.

5. Both the date of execution by the taxpayer and date of acceptance by the Bureau
should be before the expiration of the period of prescription or before the lapse of the
period agreed upon in case a subsequent agreement is executed.

6. The waiver must be executed in three copies, the original copy to be attached to the
docket of the case, the second copy for the taxpayer and the third copy for the Office
accepting the waiver. The fact of receipt by the taxpayer of his/her file copy must be
indicated in the original copy to show that the taxpayer was notified of the acceptance
of the BIR and the perfection of the agreement.[19]

A perusal of the waivers executed by respondents accountant reveals the following infirmities:

1. The waivers were executed without the notarized written authority of Pasco to
sign the waiver in behalf of respondent.

2. The waivers failed to indicate the date of acceptance.

3. The fact of receipt by the respondent of its file copy was not indicated in the
original copies of the waivers.

Due to the defects in the waivers, the period to assess or collect taxes was not
extended. Consequently, the assessments were issued by the BIR beyond the three-year period and are
void.

Estoppel does not apply in this case

We find no merit in petitioners claim that respondent is now estopped from claiming prescription
since by executing the waivers, it was the one which asked for additional time to submit the required
documents.
In Collector of Internal Revenue v. Suyoc Consolidated Mining Company,[20] the doctrine of
estoppel prevented the taxpayer from raising the defense of prescription against the efforts of the
government to collect the assessed tax. However, it must be stressed that in the said case, estoppel was
applied as an exception to the statute of limitations on collection of taxes and not on the assessment of
taxes, as the BIR was able to make an assessment within the prescribed period. More important, there
was a finding that the taxpayer made several requests or positive acts to convince the government to
postpone the collection of taxes, viz:

It appears that the first assessment made against respondent based on its second
final return filed on November 28, 1946 was made on February 11, 1947. Upon receipt of
this assessment respondent requested for at least one year within which to pay the
amount assessed although it reserved its right to question the correctness of the
assessment before actual payment. Petitioner granted an extension of only three months.
When it failed to pay the tax within the period extended, petitioner sent respondent a
letter on November 28, 1950 demanding payment of the tax as assessed, and upon
receipt of the letter respondent asked for a reinvestigation and reconsideration of the
assessment. When this request was denied, respondent again requested for a
reconsideration on April 25, 1952, which was denied on May 6, 1953, which denial was
appealed to the Conference Staff. The appeal was heard by the Conference Staff
from September 2, 1953 to July 16, 1955, and as a result of these various negotiations,
the assessment was finally reduced on July 26, 1955. This is the ruling which is now being
questioned after a protracted negotiation on the ground that the collection of the tax has
already prescribed.

It is obvious from the foregoing that petitioner refrained from collecting the tax
by distraint or levy or by proceeding in court within the 5-year period from the filing of
the second amended final return due to the several requests of respondent for extension
to which petitioner yielded to give it every opportunity to prove its claim regarding the
correctness of the assessment. Because of such requests, several reinvestigations were
made and a hearing was even held by the Conference Staff organized in the collection
office to consider claims of such nature which, as the record shows, lasted for several
months. After inducing petitioner to delay collection as he in fact did, it is most unfair for
respondent to now take advantage of such desistance to elude his deficiency income tax
liability to the prejudice of the Government invoking the technical ground of prescription.

While we may agree with the Court of Tax Appeals that a mere request for
reexamination or reinvestigation may not have the effect of suspending the running of
the period of limitation for in such case there is need of a written agreement to extend
the period between the Collector and the taxpayer, there are cases however where a
taxpayer may be prevented from setting up the defense of prescription even if he has not
previously waived it in writing as when by his repeated requests or positive acts the
Government has been, for good reasons, persuaded to postpone collection to make him
feel that the demand was not unreasonable or that no harassment or injustice is meant
by the Government. And when such situation comes to pass there are authorities that
hold, based on weighty reasons, that such an attitude or behavior should not be
countenanced if only to protect the interest of the Government.

This case has no precedent in this jurisdiction for it is the first time that such has
risen, but there are several precedents that may be invoked in American jurisprudence.
As Mr. Justice Cardozo has said: The applicable principle is fundamental and
unquestioned. He who prevents a thing from being done may not avail himself of the
nonperformance which he has himself occasioned, for the law says to him in effect this is
your own act, and therefore you are not damnified. (R. H. Stearns Co. vs. U.S., 78 L. ed.,
647). Or, as was aptly said, The tax could have been collected, but the government
withheld action at the specific request of the plaintiff. The plaintiff is now estopped and
should not be permitted to raise the defense of the Statute of Limitations. [Newport Co.
vs. U.S., (DC-WIS), 34 F. Supp. 588].[21]

Conversely, in this case, the assessments were issued beyond the prescribed period. Also, there
is no showing that respondent made any request to persuade the BIR to postpone the issuance of the
assessments.

The doctrine of estoppel cannot be applied in this case as an exception to the statute of limitations
on the assessment of taxes considering that there is a detailed procedure for the proper execution of the
waiver, which the BIR must strictly follow. As we have often said, the doctrine of estoppel is predicated
on, and has its origin in, equity which, broadly defined, is justice according to natural law and right.[22] As
such, the doctrine of estoppel cannot give validity to an act that is prohibited by law or one that is against
public policy.[23] It should be resorted to solely as a means of preventing injustice and should not be
permitted to defeat the administration of the law, or to accomplish a wrong or secure an undue advantage,
or to extend beyond them requirements of the transactions in which they originate.[24] Simply put, the
doctrine of estoppel must be sparingly applied.

Moreover, the BIR cannot hide behind the doctrine of estoppel to cover its failure to comply with
RMO 20-90 and RDAO 05-01, which the BIR itself issued. As stated earlier, the BIR failed to verify whether
a notarized written authority was given by the respondent to its accountant, and to indicate the date of
acceptance and the receipt by the respondent of the waivers. Having caused the defects in the waivers,
the BIR must bear the consequence. It cannot shift the blame to the taxpayer. To stress, a waiver of the
statute of limitations, being a derogation of the taxpayers right to security against prolonged and
unscrupulous investigations, must be carefully and strictly construed.[25]

As to the alleged delay of the respondent to furnish the BIR of the required documents, this cannot
be taken against respondent. Neither can the BIR use this as an excuse for issuing the assessments
beyond the three-year period because with or without the required documents, the CIR has the power to
make assessments based on the best evidence obtainable.[26]

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated March 30, 2007 and
Resolution dated May 18, 2007 of the Court of Tax Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Manila

SECOND DIVISION
HEIRS OF MARIO PACRES, namely: G.R. No. 174719
VALENTINA Vda. DE PACRES, JOSERINO,
ELENA, LEOVIGILDO, LELISA, and
LOURDES all surnamed PACRES, and
VEARANDA Vda. DE ABABA,

Present:

Petitioners,
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,

BRION,

- versus - DEL CASTILLO,

ABAD, and

PEREZ, JJ.

HEIRS of CECILIA YGOA, namely


BAUDILLO YGOA YAP, MARIA YAP
DETUYA, JOSEFINA YAP, EGYPTIANA YAP
BANZON, and VICENTE YAP[1] and
HILARIO RAMIREZ,

Promulgated:

Respondents. May 5, 2010

x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:


While contracts are generally obligatory in whatever form they may have been entered into, it remains
imperative for a party that seeks the performance thereof to prove the existence and the terms of the
contract by a preponderance of evidence. Bare assertions are not the quantum of proof contemplated by
law.

This Petition for Review[2] assails the Decision[3] dated October 28, 2005 of the Court of Appeals (CA), as
well as its Resolution[4] dated August 31, 2006. The dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, with the foregoing, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, 7th Judicial
Region, Branch 13, Cebu City dated March 15, 2000 in Civil Case No. 18819 for Specific
Performance, Damages and Attorneys Fees is hereby SET ASIDE and a new one entered
DISMISSING said case for failure to establish the causes of action with the required
quantum of proof.

No pronouncement as to cost.

SO ORDERED.[5]

Factual Antecedents

Lot No. 9 is a 1,007 square meter parcel of land located at Kinasang-an, Pardo, Cebu City and fronting
the Cebu provincial highway. The lot originally belonged to Pastor Pacres (Pastor) who left it intestate to
his heirs[6] Margarita, Simplicia, Rodrigo, Francisco, Mario (petitioners predecessor-in-interest) and
Vearanda (herein petitioner). Petitioners admitted that at the time of Pastors death in 1962, his heirs were
already occupying definite portions of Lot No. 9. The front portion along the provincial highway was
occupied by the co-owned Pacres ancestral home,[7]and beside it stood Rodrigos hut (also fronting the
provincial highway). Marios house stood at the back of the ancestral house.[8] This is how the property
stood in 1968, as confirmed by petitioner Valentinas testimony.

On the same year, the heirs leased[9] the ground floor of the [ancestral home] together with a lot
area of 300 square meters including the area occupied by the house to respondent Hilario Ramirez
(Ramirez), who immediately took possession thereof. Subsequently in 1974, four of the Pacres
siblings[10] (namely, Rodrigo, Francisco, Simplicia and Margarita) sold their shares in the ancestral home
and the lot on which it stood to Ramirez. The deeds of sale described the subjects thereof as part and
portion of the 300 square meters actually in possession and enjoyment by vendee and her spouse, Hilario
Ramirez, by virtue of a contract of lease in their favor.[11] The Deed of Sale of Right in a House executed
by Rodrigo and Francisco was more detailed, to wit:

x x x do hereby sell, cede, transfer and convey, forever and in absolute manner, our
shares interests and participation in a house of mixed materials under roof of nipa which
is constructed inside Lot No. 5506[12] of the Cadastral Survey of Cebu, the lot on which
the house is constructed has already been sold to and bought by the herein vendee from
our brothers and sisters; that this sale pertains only to our rights and interests and
participation in the house which we inherited from our late father Pastor Pacres.[13]

With the sale, respondent Ramirezs possession as lessee turned into a co-ownership with petitioners Mario
and Vearanda, who did not sell their shares in the house and lot.

On various dates in 1971, Rodrigo,[14] Francisco,[15] and Simplicia[16] sold their remaining shares in Lot No.
9 to respondent Cecilia Ygoa (Ygoa). In 1983, Margarita[17] also sold her share to Ygoa. The total area
sold to Ygoa was 493 square meters.

In 1984, Ygoa filed a petition to survey and segregate[18] the portions she bought from Lot No. 9. Mario
objected on the ground that he wanted to exercise his right as co-owner to redeem his siblings
shares. Vendee Rodrigo also opposed on the ground that he wanted to annul the sale for failure of
consideration. On the other hand, Margarita and the widow of Francisco both manifested their assent to
Ygoas petition. By virtue of such manifestation, the court issued a writ of possession[19] respecting
Margaritas and Franciscos shares in favor of Ygoa. It is by authority of this writ that Ygoa built her house
on a portion of Lot No. 9. Considering, however, the objections of the two other Pacres siblings, the trial
court subsequently dismissed the petition so that the two issues could be threshed out in the proper
proceeding. Mario filed the intended action while Rodrigo no longer pursued his objection.

The complaint for legal redemption,[20] filed by Mario and Vearanda, was dismissed on the ground of
improper exercise of the right. The decision was affirmed by the appellate court[21] and attained finality in
the Supreme Court[22] on December 28, 1992. The CA held that the complaint was filed beyond the 30-
day period provided in Article 1623 of the New Civil Code and failed to comply with the requirement of
consignation. It was further held that Ygoa built her house on Lot No. 9 in good faith and it would be
unjust to require her to remove her house thereon.

On June 18, 1993, the Republic of the Philippines, through the Department of Public Works and Highways
(DPWH), expropriated the front portion of Lot No. 9 for the expansion of the Cebusouth road. The petition
for expropriation was filed in Branch 9 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City and docketed as Civil Case
No. CEB-14150.[23] As occupant of the expropriated portion, Ygoa moved to withdraw her corresponding
share in the expropriation payment. Petitioners opposed the said motion.[24] The parties did not supply the
Court with the pleadings in the expropriation case; hence, we are unaware of the parties involved and the
issues presented therein. However, from all indications, the said motion of Ygoa remains unresolved.

On July 20, 1993, the Pacres siblings (Margarita and Francisco were already deceased at that time and
were only represented by their heirs) executed a Confirmation of Oral Partition/Settlement of Estate[25] of
Pastor Pacres. The relevant statements in the affidavit read:

1. That our father the late Pastor Pacres died instestate at Kinasang-an,
Pardo, Cebu City on January 2, 1962;

2. That he left some real properties, one of which is a parcel of land (Lot No. 9,
PCS 07-01-000006, Cebu Cad., located at Kinasang-an, Pardo, Cebu City);

3. That after the death of Pastor Pacres, the above-named children declared
themselves extra-judicially as heirs of Pastor Pacres and they likewise adjudicated
unto themselves the above described lot and forthwith MADE AN ORAL PARTITION;

4. That in that ORAL PARTITION, the shares or portion to be allotted to Mario


Pacres and Vearanda Pacres Vda. de Ababa shall be fronting the national highway,
while the shares of the rest shall be located at the rear;

5. That recently, the said heirs had the said lot surveyed to determine specifically
their respective locations in accordance with the oral partition made after the death
of Pastor Pacres;

6. That a sketch of the subdivision plan is hereto attached, duly labeled,


indicating the respective locations of the shares of each and every heir.

On September 30, 1994, Mario, petitioners predecessor-in-interest, filed an ejectment suit against Ramirez
successor-in-interest Vicentuan. Mario claimed sole ownership of the lot occupied by Ramirez/Vicentuan
by virtue of the oral partition. He argued that Ramirez/Vicentuan should pay rentals to him for occupying
the front lot and should transfer to the rear of Lot No. 9 where the lots of Ramirezs vendors are located.

The court dismissed Marios assertion that his siblings sold the rear lots to Ramirez. It held that
the deeds of sale in favor of Ramirez clearly described the object of the sale as the ancestral house and
lot.[26] Thus, Ramirez has a right to continue occupying the property he bought. The court further held
that since Mario did not sell his pro-indiviso shares in the house and lot, at the very least, the parties are
co-owners thereof. Co-owners are entitled to occupy the co-owned property.[27]

The Complaint for Specific Performance

On June 3, 1996, Vearanda and the heirs of Mario filed the instant complaint for specific
performance[28] against Ygoa and Ramirez. Contrary to Marios allegations of co-ownership over Lot No. 9
in the legal redemption case, Marios heirs insist in the action for specific performance that the heirs agreed
on a partition prior to the sale. They seek compliance with such agreement from their siblings vendees,
Ygoa and Ramirez, on the basis that the two were privy to these agreements, hence bound to comply
therewith. In compliance with such partition, Ygoa and Ramirez should desist from claiming any portion
of the expropriation payment for the front lots.

Their other cause of action is directed solely at Ygoa, whom they insist agreed to additional, albeit
unwritten, obligations other than the payment of the purchase price of the shares in Lot No. 9. Vearanda
and Marios heirs insist that Ygoa contracted with her vendors to assume all obligations regarding the
payment of past and present estate taxes, survey Lot No. 9 in accordance with the oral partition, and
obtain separate titles for each portion. While these obligations were not written into the deeds of sale,
petitioners insist it is not subject to the Statute of Frauds since these obligations were allegedly partly
complied with by Ygoa. They cite as evidence of Ygoas compliance the survey of her purchased lots and
payment of realty taxes.

Respondents denied privity with the heirs oral partition. They further maintained that no such partition
took place and that the portions sold to and occupied by them were located in front of Lot No. 9; hence
they are the ones entitled to the expropriation payment.[29] They sought damages from the unfounded
suit leveled against them. To discredit petitioners assertion of an oral partition, respondents presented
Exhibit No. 1, which petitioner Valentina herself executed during her testimony. Exhibit No. 1
demonstrated Valentinas recollection of the actual occupation of the Pacres siblings, their heirs and
vendees. The sketch undermined petitioners allegation that the heirs partitioned the
property and immediately took possession of their allotted lots/shares.Ygoa also denied ever agreeing to
the additional obligations being imputed against her.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

The trial court ruled in favor of respondents.[30] It held that petitioners failed to prove partition of the lot
in accordance with petitioners version. Instead, the trial court held that the parties actual occupation of
their portions in Lot No. 9, as evidenced by petitioner Valentinas sketch, is the real agreement to which
the parties are bound. Apparently unsatisfied with the parties state of affairs, the trial court further ordered
that a survey of the lot according to the parties actual occupation thereof be conducted.

Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied.[31] Unsatisfied with the adverse decision, petitioners
appealed to the CA questioning the factual findings of the trial court and its reliance on Exhibit 1. They
maintained that Valentina was incompetent and barely literate; hence, her sketch should not be given
weight.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The appellate court sustained the ruling of the trial court insofar as it dismissed petitioners complaint for
lack of evidence. It held that the oral partition was not valid because the heirs did not ratify it by taking
possession of their shares in accordance with their oral agreement. Moreover, the CA ruled that Ygoas
sole undertaking under the deeds of sale was the payment of the purchase price. Since petitioners did not
question the validity of the deeds and did not assail its terms as failing to express the true intent of the
parties, the written document stands superior over the allegations of an oral agreement.

It, however, reversed the trial court on the latters order to survey the lot in accordance with Valentinas
sketch. The appellate court explained that while it was conclusive that Ygoa and Ramirez bought portions
of the property from some of the Pacres siblings, the issue of the actual area and location of the portions
sold to them remains unresolved. The CA narrated all the unresolved matters that prevented a finding
that definitively settles the partition of Lot No. 9. The CA emphasized that the question regarding
ownership of the front lots and the expropriation payment should be threshed out in the proper
proceeding.

The CA likewise found no basis for the award of damages to either party.

Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration[32] was denied,[33] hence this petition.

Issues

Petitioners formulated the following issues:[34]

1. Whether or not this complaint for specific performance, damages and


attorneys fee [sic] with a prayer for the issuance of a restraining order and later on
issuance of a writ of permanent injunction is tenable.

2. Whether or not the area purchased and owned by respondents in Lot No. 9 is
located along or fronting the national highway.

3. Whether or not the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion by


rendering a decision not in accord with laws and applicable decisions of the Supreme
Court, resulting to the unrest of this case.

4. Whether or not it is lawful for the respondents to claim ownership of


the P220,000.00 which the government set aside for the payment of the expropriated
area in Lot No. 9, fronting the highway, covered by the road widening.

Consolidated and simplified, the issues to be resolved are:


I

Whether petitioners were able to prove the existence of the alleged oral agreements such
as the partition and the additional obligations of surveying and titling

II

Whether the issue of ownership regarding the front portion of Lot No. 9 and entitlement
to the expropriation payment may be resolved in this action

Our Ruling
Whether petitioners were able to prove the existence of
the alleged oral agreements such as the partition and the
additional obligations of surveying and titling

Both the trial and appellate courts dismissed petitioners complaint on the ground that they had
failed to prove the existence of an oral partition. Petitioners now insist that the two courts overlooked facts
and circumstances that are allegedly of much weight and will alter the decision if properly considered.[35]

Petitioners would have the Court review the evidence presented by the parties, despite the CAs
finding that the trial court committed no error in appreciating the evidence presented during the trial. This
goes against the rule that this Court is not a trier of facts. Such questions as whether certain items of
evidence should be accorded probative value or weight, or rejected as feeble or spurious, or whether or
not the proofs on one side or the other are clear and convincing and adequate to establish a proposition
in issue, are without doubt questions of fact.[36]Questions like these are not reviewable by this Court which,
as a rule, confines its review of cases decided by the CA only to questions of law, which may be resolved
without having to re-examine the probative value of the evidence presented.[37]

We find no compelling reason to deviate from the foregoing rule and disturb the trial and appellate
courts factual finding that the existence of an oral partition was not proven. Our examination of the records
indicates that, contrary to petitioners contention, the lower courts conclusion was justified.
Petitioners only piece of evidence to prove the alleged oral partition was the joint affidavit
(entitled Confirmation of Oral Partition/Settlement of Estate) supposedly executed by some of the Pacres
siblings and their heirs in 1993, to the effect that such an oral partition had previously been agreed
upon. Petitioners did not adequately explain why the affidavit was executed only in 1993, several years
after respondents Ygoa and Ramirez took possession of the front portions of Lot No. 9.[38] If there had
been an oral partition allotting the front portions to petitioners since Pastors death in 1962, they should
have immediately objected to respondents occupation. Instead, they only asserted their ownership over
the front lots beginning in 1993 (with the execution of their joint affidavit) when expropriation became
imminent and was later filed in court.

Petitioners assertion of partition of Lot No. 9 is further belied by their predecessor-in-interests


previous assertion of co-ownership over the same lot in the legal redemption case filed 10 years
before.[39] The allegations therein, sworn to as truth by Mario and Vearanda, described Lot No. 9 as a
parcel of land that is co-owned by the Pacres siblings pro indiviso. It was further alleged that Ygoa bought
the undivided shares of Rodrigo, Francisco, Margarita, and Simplicia.

The statements in the legal redemption case are extrajudicial admissions,[40] which were not
disputed by petitioners. These admissions may be given in evidence against them.[41] At the very least,
the polarity of their previous admissions and their present theory makes the latter highly suspect.

Moreover, petitioners failed to show that the Pacres siblings took possession of their allotted shares
after they had supposedly agreed on the oral partition. Actual possession and exercise of dominion over
definite portions of the property in accordance with the alleged partition would have been strong proof of
an oral partition.[42] In this case, however, petitioners failed to present any evidence that the petitioners
took actual possession of their respective allotted shares according to the supposed partition. In fact, the
evidence of the parties point to the contrary.Petitioner Valentina herself drew a sketch[43] showing the
location of the actual occupants of Lot No. 9, but the actual occupation shown in her sketch is not in
accordance with the terms of the alleged oral partition.[44] According to the terms of the alleged oral
partition, the front portions of Lot No. 9 were supposed to have been occupied by petitioners, but
Valentinas sketch indicates that the actual occupants of the said portions are respondents.
In fine, we rule that the records contain ample support for the trial and appellate courts factual
findings that petitioners failed to prove their allegation of oral partition. While petitioners claim that the
trial and appellate courts did not appreciate their evidence regarding the existence of the alleged oral
partition, the reality is that their evidence is utterly unconvincing.

With respect to the alleged additional obligations which petitioners seek to be enforced against
respondent Ygoa, we likewise find that the trial and appellate courts did not err in rejecting
them. Petitioners allege that when Ygoa bought portions of Lot No. 9 from petitioners four siblings, aside
from paying the purchase price, she also bound herself to survey Lot No. 9 including the shares of the
petitioners (the non-selling siblings); to deliver to petitioners, free of cost, the titles corresponding to their
definite shares in Lot No. 9; and to pay for all their past and present estate and realty taxes.[45] According
to petitioners, Ygoa agreed to these undertakings as additional consideration for the sale, even though
they were not written in the Deeds of Sale.

Like the trial and appellate courts, we find that these assertions by petitioners have not been sufficiently
established.

In the first place, under Article 1311 of the Civil Code, contracts take effect only between the
parties, their assigns and heirs (subject to exceptions not applicable here). Thus, only a party to the
contract can maintain an action to enforce the obligations arising under said contract.[46] Consequently,
petitioners, not being parties to the contracts of sale between Ygoa and the petitioners siblings, cannot
sue for the enforcement of the supposed obligations arising from said contracts.

It is true that third parties may seek enforcement of a contract under the second paragraph of
Article 1311, which provides that if a contract should contain some stipulation in favor of a third person,
he may demand its fulfillment. This refers to stipulations pour autrui, or stipulations for the benefit of third
parties. However, the written contracts of sale in this case contain no such stipulation in favor of the
petitioners. While petitioners claim that there was an oral stipulation, it cannot be proven under the Parol
Evidence Rule. Under this Rule, [w]hen the terms of an agreement have been reduced to writing, it is
considered as containing all the terms agreed upon and there can be, between the parties and their
successors in interest, no evidence of such terms other than the contents of the written
agreement.[47] While the Rule admits of exception, no such exception was pleaded, much less proved, by
petitioners.

The Parol Evidence Rule applies to the parties and their successors in interest. Conversely, it has
no application to a stranger to a contract. For purposes of the Parol Evidence Rule, a person who claims
to be the beneficiary of an alleged stipulation pour autrui in a contract (such as petitioners) may be
considered a party to that contract. It has been held that a third party who avails himself of a
stipulation pour autrui under a contract becomes a party to that contract.[48] This is why under Article
1311, a beneficiary of a stipulation pour autrui is required to communicate his acceptance to the obligor
before its revocation.

Moreover, to preclude the application of Parol Evidence Rule, it must be shown that at least one
of the parties to the suit is not party or a privy of a party to the written instrument in question and does
not base a claim on the instrument or assert a right originating in the instrument or the relation established
thereby.[49] A beneficiary of a stipulation pour autrui obviously bases his claim on the contract. He
therefore cannot claim to be a stranger to the contract and resist the application of the Parol Evidence
Rule.

Thus, even assuming that the alleged oral undertakings invoked by petitioners may be deemed
stipulations pour autrui, still petitioners claim cannot prosper, because they are barred from proving them
by oral evidence under the Parol Evidence Rule.

Whether the issue of ownership regarding the front


portion of Lot No. 9 and entitlement to the expropriation
payment may be resolved in this action

Petitioners characterize respondents claim over the expropriation payment as unlawful on the ground that
the expropriated portion belongs to petitioners per the alleged oral partition. They also maintain that Ygoa
is barred by laches from claiming the front portion because she waited 13 years from the time of the sale
to claim her share via petition for subdivision and survey.
On the other hand, respondents charge petitioners with forum-shopping on the ground that the issue of
ownership had already been submitted to the expropriation court. The trial court affirmed this argument
stating that petitioners resorted to forum-shopping, while the appellate court ruled that it could not
determine the existence of forum-shopping considering that it was not provided with the pleadings in the
expropriation case.

We agree with the CA on this score. The parties did not provide the Court with the pleadings filed in the
expropriation case, which makes it impossible to know the extent of the issues already submitted by the
parties in the expropriation case and thereby assess whether there was forum-shopping.

Nonetheless, while we cannot rule on the existence of forum-shopping for insufficiency of evidence, it is
correct that the issue of ownership should be litigated in the expropriation court.[50]The court hearing the
expropriation case is empowered to entertain the conflicting claims of ownership of the condemned
property and adjudge the rightful owner thereof, in the same expropriation case.[51] This is due to the
intimate relationship of the issue of ownership with the claim for the expropriation payment. Petitioners
objection regarding respondents claim over the expropriation payment should have been brought up in
the expropriation court as opposition to respondents motion. While we do not know if such objection was
already made,[52] the point is that the proper venue for such issue is the expropriation court, and not here
where a different cause of action (specific performance) is being litigated.

We also cannot agree with the trial courts order to partition the lot in accordance with Exhibit No. 1 or the
sketch prepared by petitioner Valentina. To do so would resolve the issue of ownership over portions of
Lot No. 9 and effectively preempt the expropriation court, based solely on actual occupation (which was
the only thing which Exhibit No. 1 could have possibly proved). It will be remembered that Exhibit No. 1
is simply a sketch demonstrating the portions of Lot No. 9 actually occupied by the parties. It was offered
simply to impeach petitioners assertion of actual occupation in accordance with the terms of the alleged
oral partition.

Let it be made clear that our ruling, just like those of the trial court and the appellate court, is
limited to resolving petitioners action for specific performance. Given the finding that petitioners failed to
prove the existence of the alleged oral partition and the alleged additional consideration for the sale, they
cannot compel respondents to comply with these inexistent obligations. In this connection, there is no
basis for petitioners claim that the CA Decision was incomplete by not definitively ruling on the ownership
over the front lots. The CA decision is complete. It ruled that petitioners failed to prove the alleged
obligations and are therefore not entitled to specific performance thereof.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed October 28, 2005 Decision of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. No. 174719, as well as its August 31, 2006 Resolution, are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO

Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice Associate Justice


JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was

assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson's attestation, it is

hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the

case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO

Chief Justice

[1]
Per Order dated October 15, 1996 of Judge Meinrado P. Paredes.
[2]
Rollo, pp. 11-19.
[3]
Id. at 21-29; penned by Associate Justice Pampio A. Abarintos and concurred in by Associate
Justices Mercedes Gozo-Dadole and Enrico A. Lanzanas.
[4]
CA rollo, pp. 153-154.
[5]
Rollo, p. 28.
[6]
Lot No. 9 is registered under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 61114 in the name of the Heirs
of Pastor Pacres.
[7]
TSN (Valentina Vda. De Pacres), September 17, 1997, pp. 6-9.
[8]
Id. at 6; id., September 23, 1997, pp. 4-5.
[9]
Exhibit C dated October 26, 1968. A portion reads:
The lessors hereby lease unto the lessee the ground floor of the House No. 1277, together with
a lot area of 300 square meters including the area occupied by the house, of which the lessors
are the co-owners, owning undivided interest over the house and lot.
[10]
Namely Simplicia, Margarita, Francisco, and Rodrigo Pacres.
[11]
Exhibit 5, Deed of Sale executed by Simplicia Pacres. Exhibit 6, which is the Deed of Sale
executed by Margarita Pacres in favor of Ramirez, describes the object of the sale as forming
part and portion of the 300 square meters under the occupancy of the vendee and her
husband, Mr. Hilario Ramirez, by virtue of a Lease Contract in their favor.
[12]
Lot No. 9 consists of two consolidated lots, Lot Nos. 5504 and 5506, as confirmed by the
description in TCT No. 61114 (Exhibit 37).
[13]
Exhibit 7 dated December 31, 1974.
[14]
Exhibit 3 dated August 5, 1971.
[15]
Exhibit 3 dated August 5, 1971. Rodrigo and Franciscos Deed of Sale described the property
sold as the portion of 300 square meters which is the subject matter of this sale, shall be
taken along the provincial road where the house of Rodrigo Pacres is built.
[16]
Exhibit 23 dated August 1971. The deed of sale described its object as the portion sold shall
be taken along the provincial highway. Exhibit 24 dated December 1971. Simplicia sold an
additional 50 square meters to Ygoa with the proviso x x x that my sister Margarita Pacres is
giving me an equivalent area of 50 square meters, in exchange of the portion sold to
hereunder Cecilia Ygoa, the vendee.
[17]
Exhibit 25 dated March 1, 1983.
[18]
Exhibit 27 dated February 8, 1984.
[19]
Exhibit 26. It stated that Lot No. 9-A was awarded to Ygoa and it ordered the dispossession
of Margarita and Franciscos shares.
[20]
Exhibit 26 dated October 25, 1985. It contained the following allegations:
xxxx
II Plaintiffs are among the co-owners of a pro-indiviso parcel of land which they and the herein
defendants brothers and sisters, inherited from their father x x x
III Recently, plaintiffs were verily informed and therefore allege that herein defendants PACRES
on one hand and defendant Cecilia Ygoa on the other, connived, confederated and
mutually helped one another in having the formers undivided shares, consisting of 492
square meters sold clandestinely in favor of the latter (Cecilia Ygoa), a stranger, without
giving written notice to the other pro-indiviso co-owners, in violation of Article 1623, New
Revised Civil Code of the Philippines;
xxxx
V Proper demands were made upon the defendants, for plaintiffs desire to redeem the undivided
portions purchased clandestinely by defendant Cecilia Ygoa, but the latter refused and
ignored and still continue to refuse and ignore the said plaintiffs plea;
xxxx
VII Plaintiffs are likewise verily informed and so allege that the price or consideration stated in
the deeds of sale have been jacked up, for obvious reasons, hence the consideration
stated in the said deeds of sale are not reasonable, and therefore it should be fixed or
determined first so that the correct and reasonable redemption price could be consignated
and/or paid accordingly, pursuant to law x x x
[21]
CA-G.R. CV No. 14654. Exhibit 33.
[22]
Entry of Judgment in G.R. No. 97185. Exhibit 35.
[23]
Rollo, p. 67.
[24]
Id. at 57.
[25]
Exhibit N.
[26]
Civil Case No. R-32715, RTC Decision, p. 5.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 172708


Appellee,

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus - CARPIO MORALES,*
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

JOSEPH AMPER y REPASO, Promulgated:


Appellant. May 5, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

In this case, appellant Joseph Amper y Repaso not only robbed his victim of her material possessions; he
also robbed her of her virginity.

On appeal is the Decision[1] dated August 18, 2005 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No.
00716, which affirmed with modification the Decision[2] dated January 30, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Gumaca, Quezon, Branch 61, in Criminal Case No. 5195-G, convicting appellant of the crime of
robbery with rape. Also assailed is the Resolution[3]dated December 5, 2005 denying the motion for
reconsideration.

Version of the Prosecution

On August 17, 1995, at approximately 7:30 in the evening, AAA[4] was walking along Mateo Manila
Street near Leon Guinto Memorial College located at Brgy. Zone II, Poblacion, Atimonan, Quezon to buy
peanuts for her father.[5] While approaching the place of a certain Noni Magisa, appellant suddenly put his
hand on AAAs shoulder, poked a pointed instrument at the left side of her body and ordered her not to
make any move.[6] The appellant then directed her to walk casually towards the direction of the
church. [7] When they reached the back of the church, appellant ordered AAA to sit on the cemented floor
and to remove all the pieces of jewelry she was wearing, particularly her wrist watch, bracelet and pair of
earrings.[8]

After ordering AAA to lie down on the floor,[9] appellant removed AAAs shorts and underwear[10] then also
lowered his own pants and briefs[11] and forcibly inserted his penis into her vagina and made push and
pull movements.[12] All this time, appellant poked a weapon at the left side of AAAs neck which prevented
her from shouting for help.[13] After satisfying his lust, appellant told AAA not to leave until he was gone.[14]

After about two minutes, AAA put on her garments and hurried home
where she narrated the incident to her father.[15] Both proceeded to the place where the incident
happened[16] but appellant could no longer be found.[17] AAA and her father proceeded to the police station
and reported the matter.[18] Thereafter, Dr. Lourdes Taguinod (Dr. Taguinod)
of Doa Martha Hospital examined her. [19]

On August 22, 1995, appellant was arrested for robbery and attempted rape committed against another
individual.[20] On the following day,[21] AAA went to the police station and identified appellant as the person
who robbed and raped her.[22]

Subsequently, an Information was filed against appellant charging him with the crime of robbery with
rape,[23] viz:

That on or about the 17th day of August 1995, at Barangay Zone II, Municipality
of Atimonan, Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, armed with a pointed instrument, with intent to gain
and to rob, and by means of force, violence against and intimidation of person, taking
advantage of nighttime and his superior strength to better facilitate his purpose, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take from AAA the following:

One (1) ring ......... P 400.00


Bracelet ......... 314.00
Wrist Watch ......... 300.00
Pair of Earring ......... 220.00
________________

Total P 1,234.00

with a total value of ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR PESOS (P1,234.00)
Philippine currency, belonging to said AAA, to her damage and prejudice in the said
amount; and that by reason thereof and on the same occasion, the above-named
accused, with lewd design, by means of force, threats, violence and intimidation, did, then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of the aforesaid AAA,
a minor, 14 years of age, against her will.

Contrary to law.

Upon arraignment,[24] appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial thereafter ensued.

Version of the Defense

Appellant denied liability and insisted that he only saw AAA for the first time in the police station. He
claimed that on August 17, 1995, he left his place of work at Hopewell Power Plant at around 6:30 in the
evening[25] and arrived at the Atimonan town proper at past 9:00 oclock in the evening. [26] Thus he could
not have robbed or raped AAA. In support of his claim, appellant submitted Cepa Slip Form Power System
Ltd. showing that he was at the power plant project site between 6:16 in the morning up to 5:21 in the
afternoon of August 17, 1995[27]and a letter addressed to all jeepney operators stating the time when they
should depart from the site.[28]

On cross-examination, however, appellant admitted that he could take a passenger jeepney from
the gate of Hopewell Power Plant going to the junction of Maharlika highway[29]which would take around
45 to 50 minutes. From the junction, he could reach Atimonan town proper in 30 minutes by taking a
passenger bus.[30]

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On January 30, 2003, the RTC rendered its Decision convicting appellant of the crime of robbery with
rape, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The RTC did not give credence to
appellants alibi since he failed to prove that it was impossible for him to be at the situs of the crime at the
time it took place. The trial court also found AAAs testimony to be clear and convincing; hence there was
no reason to disbelieve her.

The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused JOSEPH AMPER


guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Rape under Article 294 of
the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 7659 and he is therefore sentenced to suffer
the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA and to pay the amount of P75,000.00 as indemnity
to the victim and the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages and to pay the amount
of P1,340.00 in restitution of the value of jewelries taken from AAA.

SO ORDERED.[31]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The appellate court affirmed with modification the Decision of the trial court. It held that the prosecution
satisfactorily proved all the elements of the complex crime of robbery with rape, to wit: a) the taking of
personal property is committed with violence or intimidation against persons; b) the property taken
belongs to another; c) the taking is done with animo lucrandi, and d) the robbery is accompanied by rape.

The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the appealed decision is hereby


AFFIRMED in all aspects with the MODIFICATION that the civil indemnity is reduced
from P75,000.00 to P50,000.00.

SO ORDERED.[32]

Hence, this appeal.

Our Ruling

The appeal lacks merit.

We have consistently ruled that an accused is estopped from assailing the legality of his arrest if he fails
to raise this issue, or to move for the quashal of the information against him on this ground, which should
be made before arraignment.[33] In this case, appellant only raised for the first time the alleged irregularity
of his arrest in his appeal before the CA. This is not allowed considering that he was already properly
arraigned and even actively participated in the proceedings. He is, therefore, deemed to have waived such
alleged defect when he submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court.

We likewise cannot sustain appellants contention that his identification was marked by
suggestiveness. Appellant claims that he was arrested after the incident based on the suggestion of the
police officer and not on the identification made by AAA. It must be stressed that what is crucial is for the
witness to positively declare during trial that the persons charged were the malefactors.[34] In this case,
AAA positively and categorically identified appellant during trial as her molester. She could not have been
mistaken because she had a fairly good look at appellants face even before the commission of the
crime.[35] The place where she first saw the appellant was well-lighted.[36] Moreover, AAA never faltered in
her identification of the appellant.

That the crime was committed at the back of the church and that there are several establishments in the
area would not make the commission of the same highly improbable. It is settled jurisprudence that rape
can be committed even in a public place, in places where people congregate, in parks, along the roadside,
within school premises, inside a house or where there are other occupants, and even in the same room
where there are other members of the family who are sleeping.[37]

Both the trial court and the appellate court correctly found appellant guilty of the complex crime of robbery
with rape, the elements of which are as follows: (1) the taking of personal property is committed with
violence against or intimidation of persons; (2) the property taken belongs to another; (3) the taking is
characterized by intent to gain or animus lucrandi; and (4) the robbery is accompanied by rape.

The first three elements were proven by AAA who testified that appellant brought her at knife point to the
back of the church and divested her of her belongings. Appellant also threatened her with bodily harm if
she refused.[38] From the foregoing, it is clear that the crime of robbery was committed.

As to the attendant rape, we find the testimony of AAA worthy of full faith and credence. The records
show that AAA was only 15 years old at the time she testified. Her credibility was also strengthened by
the fact that she immediately reported the incident to her father, who in turn reported the same to the
police authorities. The results of the medical examination likewise corroborated her testimony that she
was indeed raped as the presence of spermatozoa was even found in her vagina.[39] AAAs declaration of
her sexual ordeal, which was given in a straightforward, convincing, credible and satisfactory manner,
shows no other intention than to obtain justice for the wrong committed by the appellant against her.

The trial court and the appellate court properly disregarded appellants defense of alibi. Aside from the fact
that the same cannot prevail over the positive identification made by AAA of the appellant as the
perpetrator of the crime, appellant also failed to prove that it was physically impossible for him to be at
the scene of the crime at the time of its commission. Here, appellant claimed that he was at his workplace
at the time the crime was committed and that he left work at around 6:00 oclock in the evening and
reached his home at around 9:00 oclock in the evening. However, on cross examination, he admitted that
it is possible to reach Maharlika Highway junction from his place of work in 45 to 50 minutes and from
there reach Atimonan town proper in 30 minutes.[40] It will be recalled that the incident happened at
about 7:30 in the evening; thus, it is not impossible for the appellant to be at the crime scene at the time
it was committed.

Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code provides for the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death, when the
robbery was accompanied by rape. Thus, both the trial court and the appellate court correctly imposed
upon the appellant the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay the amounts of P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P1,340.00 in restitution of the value of the jewelries taken
from AAA.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 18, 2005 in CA-
G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00716, which affirmed with modification the Decision dated January 30, 2003 of the
Regional Trial Court of Gumaca, Quezon, Branch 61, in Criminal Case No. 5195-G, convicting appellant of
the crime of robbery with rape, and the Resolution dated December 5, 2005 denying the motion for
reconsideration, are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice
JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

*
In lieu of Justice Arturo D. Brion, per Raffle dated December 21, 2009.
[1]
CA rollo, pp. 153-169; penned by Associate Justice Eliezer R. De los Santos and concurred in
by Associate Justices Eugenio S. Labitoria and Arturo D. Brion.
[2]
Records, pp. 392-428; penned by Judge Aurora V. Maqueda-Roman.
[3]
CA rollo, p. 192.
[4]
Pursuant to Section 44 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence
Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, and Section 63, Rule XI of the Rules and
Regulations Implementing RA 9262, the real name of the child-victim is withheld to protect
his/her privacy. Fictitious initials are used instead to represent him/her. Likewise, the personal
circumstances or any other information tending to establish or compromise his/her identity,
as well as those of his/her immediate family or household members shall not be disclosed.
[5]
TSN, September 10, 1996, pp. 8-9.
[6]
Id. at 10.
[7]
Id.
[8]
Id. at 12.
[9]
Id. at 13.
[10]
Id.
[11]
Id. at 14-15.
[12]
Id. at 18-20.
[13]
Id. at 20.
[14]
Id. at 20-21.
[15]
Id. at 21.
[16]
Id.
[17]
TSN, May 28, 2001, pp. 8-9.
[18]
TSN, September 10, 1996, p. 22.
[19]
Id. at 25.
[20]
TSN, May 28, 2001, p. 11
[21]
Id. at 12.
[22]
TSN, February 12, 2001, p. 6.
[23]
Records, pp. 2-3.
[24]
Id. at 19.
[25]
TSN, May 7, 2002, p. 9.
[26]
Id. at 9.
[27]
Id. at 11.
[28]
Id. at 11-12.
[29]
TSN, September 24, 2002, p. 7.
[30]
Id. at 9.
[31]
Records, pp. 427-428.
[32]
CA rollo, p. 169.
[33]
People v. Alunday, G.R. No. 181546, September 3, 2008, 564 SCRA 135, 149.
[34]
People v. Martin, G.R. No. 177571, September 29, 2008, 567 SCRA 42, 49.
[35]
TSN, September 10, 1996, p. 10.
[36]
Id. at 24.
[37]
People v. Mendoza, 440 Phil. 755, 772 (2002).
[38]
TSN, September 10, 1996, p. 12.
[39]
TSN, September 24, 1996, pp. 7-8.
[40]
Id. at 7-9.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

TEOFILO EVANGELISTA, G.R. No. 163267


Petitioner,

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus- BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:


Respondent. May 5, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

To be guilty of the crime of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, one does not have to
be in actual physical possession thereof. The law does not punish physical possession alone but possession
in general, which includes constructive possession or the subjection of the thing to the owners control.[1]

This Petition for Review on Certiorari[2] assails the October 15, 2003 Decision[3] of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 21805 which affirmed the January 23, 1998 Decision[4] of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City, Branch 109 convicting petitioner Teofilo Evangelista for violation of Section
1, Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1866,[5] as amended, as well as the April 16, 2004 Resolution which denied
petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.

Factual Antecedents

In an Information[6] dated January 31, 1996, petitioner was charged with violation of Section 1 of PD 1866
allegedly committed as follows:

That on or about the 30th day of January 1996, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport,
Pasay City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, did, then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his
possession, custody and control the following items:

1. One (1) Unit 9mm Jericho Pistol, Israel with SN F-36283 with one (1)
magazine;

2. One (1) Unit Mini-Uzi 9mm Israel Submachine gun with SN 931864 with two
(2) magazines;

3. Nineteen (19) 9mm bullets.

without the corresponding permit or license from competent authority.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

After posting his bail, petitioner filed on February 14, 1996 an Urgent Motion for (a) Suspension of
Proceedings and (b) the Holding of A Preliminary Investigation.[7] The RTC granted the motion and,
accordingly, the State Prosecutor conducted the preliminary investigation.

In a Resolution[8] dated March 6, 1996, the State Prosecutor found no probable cause to indict petitioner
and thus recommended the reversal of the resolution finding probable cause and the dismissal of the
complaint. Thereafter, a Motion to Withdraw Information[9] was filed but it was denied by the trial court
in an Order[10] dated March 26, 1996, viz:

Acting on the Motion to Withdraw Information filed by State Prosecutor Aida Macapagal
on the ground that [there exists] no probable cause to indict the accused, the Information
having been already filed in Court, the matter should be left to the discretion of the Court
to assess the evidence, hence, for lack of merit, the same is hereby denied. Let the
arraignment of the accused proceed.

When arraigned on March 26, 1996, petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge. Thereafter, trial ensued.

Version of the Prosecution

In the morning of January 30, 1996, Maximo Acierto, Jr. (Acierto), a Customs Police assigned at the Ninoy
Aquino International Airport (NAIA) District Command, was informed by his superior that a certain
passenger of Philippine Airlines (PAL) Flight No. 657 would be arriving from Dubai bringing with him
firearms and ammunitions. Shortly after lunch, Acierto, together with Agents Cuymo and Fuentabella,
proceeded to the tube area where they were met by a crewmember who introduced to them herein
petitioner. Acierto asked petitioner if he brought firearms with him and the latter answered in the
affirmative adding that the same were bought in Angola. Thereupon, Acierto was summoned to the
cockpit by the pilot, Capt. Edwin Nadurata (Capt. Nadurata), where the firearms and ammunitions were
turned over to him. Petitioner was then escorted to the arrival area to get his luggage and thereafter
proceeded to the examination room where the luggage was examined and petitioner was investigated. In
open court, Acierto identified the firearms and ammunitions.

During the investigation, petitioner admitted before Special Agent Apolonio Bustos (Bustos) that he bought
the subject items in Angola but the same were confiscated by the Dubai authorities, which turned over
the same to a PAL personnel in Dubai. Upon inquiry, the Firearms and Explosive Office (FEO)
in Camp Crame certified that petitioner is neither registered with said office[11] nor licensed holder of
aforesaid firearms and ammunitions. Bustos likewise verified from the Bureau of Customs, but his effort
yielded no record to show that the firearms were legally purchased. Among the documents Bustos had
gathered during his investigation were the Arrival Endorsement Form[12] and Customs Declaration
Form.[13] A referral letter[14] was prepared endorsing the matter to the Department of Justice. Bustos
admitted that petitioner was not assisted by counsel when the latter admitted that he bought the firearms
in Angola.

SPO4 Federico Bondoc, Jr. (SPO4 Bondoc), a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and
representative of the FEO, upon verification, found that petitioner is not a licensed/registered firearm
holder. His office issued a certification[15] to that effect which he identified in court as Exhibit A.

After the prosecution rested its case, petitioner, with leave of court, filed his Demurrer to Evidence,[16] the
resolution of which was deferred pending submission of petitioners evidence.[17]

Version of the Defense

The defense presented Capt. Nadurata whose brief but candid and straightforward narration of the event
was synthesized by the CA as follows:

x x x On January 30, 1996, he was approached by the PAL Station Manager in Dubai,
who informed him that a Filipino contract worker from Angola who is listed as a passenger
of PAL flight from Dubai to Manila, was being detained as he was found in possession of
firearms; that if said passenger will not be able to board the airplane, he would be
imprisoned in Dubai; and that the Arabs will only release the passenger if the Captain of
PAL would accept custody of the passenger [herein petitioner] and the firearms. Capt.
Nadurata agreed to take custody of the firearms and the passenger, herein appellant, so
that the latter could leave Dubai. The firearms were deposited by the Arabs in the cockpit
of the airplane and allowed the appellant to board the airplane. Upon arrival in Manila,
Capt. Nadurata surrendered the firearms to the airport authorities.

Meanwhile, in view of the unavailability of the defenses intended witness, Nilo Umayaw (Umayaw), the
PAL Station Manager in Dubai, the prosecution and the defense agreed and stipulated on the following
points:

1. That PAL Station Manager Mr. Nilo Umayaw was told by a Dubai Police that
firearms and ammunitions were found in the luggage of a Filipino passenger coming
from Angola going to the Philippines;

2. That he was the one who turned over the subject firearms to Captain Edwin
Nadurata, the Pilot in command of PAL Flight 657;

3. That the subject firearms [were] turned over at Dubai;

4. That the said firearms and ammunitions were confiscated from the accused
Teofilo Evangelista and the same [were] given to the PAL Station Manager who in
turn submitted [them] to the PAL Pilot, Capt. Edwin Nadurata who has already
testified;

5. That [these are] the same firearms involved in this case.[18]

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On February 4, 1997, the RTC rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

In view of all the foregoing, the Court finds accused TEOFILO E. EVANGELISTA
guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Sec. 1, P.D. 1866 as amended (Illegal
Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions: (One (1) Unit Mini-Uzi 9mm Israel submachine
gun with SN-931864 with two (2) magazines and nineteen (19) 9mm bullets) and hereby
sentences him to imprisonment of Seventeen (17) Years and Four (4) Months to Twenty
(20) Years.

The above-mentioned firearms are hereby ordered forfeited in favor of the


government and is ordered transmitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, Manila for
proper disposition.

SO ORDERED.[19]

On April 4, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion for New Trial[20] which the RTC granted.[21] Forthwith,
petitioner took the witness stand narrating his own version of the incident as follows:
On January 28, 1996, he was at Dubai International Airport waiting for his flight to
the Philippines. He came from Luwanda, Angola where he was employed as a seaman at Oil International
Limited. While at the airport in Dubai, Arab policemen suddenly accosted him and brought him to their
headquarters where he saw guns on top of a table. The Arabs maltreated him and forced him to admit
ownership of the guns. At this point, PAL Station Manager Umayaw came and talked to the policemen in
Arabian dialect. Umayaw told him that he will only be released if he admits ownership of the guns. When
he denied ownership of the same, Umayaw reiterated that he (petitioner) will be released only if he will
bring the guns with him to the Philippines. He declined and insisted that the guns are not his. Upon the
request of Umayaw, petitioner was brought to the Duty Free area for his flight going to the Philippines.
When he was inside the plane, he saw the Arab policemen handing the guns to the pilot. Upon arrival at
the NAIA, he was arrested by the Customs police and brought to the arrival area where his passport was
stamped and he was made to sign a Customs Declaration Form without reading its contents. Thereafter,
he was brought to a room at the ground floor of the NAIA where he was investigated. During the
investigation, he was not represented by counsel and was forced to accept ownership of the guns. He
denied ownership of the guns and the fact that he admitted having bought the same in Angola.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

After new trial, the RTC still found petitioner liable for the offense charged but modified the penalty of
imprisonment. The dispositive portion of the Decision dated January 23, 1998 reads:

In view of all the foregoing, the Court finds accused TEOFILO E. EVANGELISTA guilty
beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Sec. 1, P.D. 1866 as amended (Illegal Possession
of Firearms and Ammunitions: One (1) Unit 9mm Jerico Pistol, Israel with SN F-36283
with one (1) magazine; One (1) Unit Mini-Uzi 9mm Israel submachine gun with SN-
931864 with two (2) magazines and nineteen (19) 9mm bullets and hereby sentences
him to imprisonment of Six (6) Years and One (1) Day to Eight (8) Years and a fine
of P30,000.00.

The above-mentioned firearms are hereby ordered forfeited in favor of the government
and [are] ordered transmitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, Manila for proper
disposition.

SO ORDERED.[22]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals


On appeal, the CA affirmed the findings of the trial court in its Decision dated October 15, 2003. It
ruled that the stipulations during the trial are binding on petitioner. As regards possession of subject
firearms, the appellate court ruled that Capt. Naduratas custody during the flight
from Dubai to Manila was for and on behalf of petitioner. Thus, there was constructive possession.

Petitioner moved for reconsideration[23] but it was denied by the appellate court in its April 16,
2004 Resolution.

Hence, this petition.

Issues

Petitioner assigns the following errors:

a. The Court of Appeals gravely erred in not acquitting Evangelista from the charge of
Presidential Decree No. 1866, Illegal Possession of Firearms.

b. The Court of Appeals gravely erred in not holding that Evangelista was never in
possession of any firearm or ammunition within Philippine jurisdiction and he
therefore could not have committed the crime charged against him.

c. The Court of Appeals gravely erred in holding that Evangelista committed a continuing
crime.

d. The Court of Appeals gravely erred in disregarding the results of the preliminary
investigation.[24]

We find the appeal devoid of merit.

At the outset, we emphasize that under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, a petition for review
on certiorari shall only raise questions of law considering that the findings of fact of the CA are, as a
general rule, conclusive upon and binding on the Supreme Court.[25] In this recourse, petitioner indulges
us to calibrate once again the evidence adduced by the parties and to re-evaluate the credibility of their
witnesses. On this ground alone, the instant petition deserves to be denied outright. However, as the
liberty of petitioner is at stake and following the principle that an appeal in a criminal case throws the
whole case wide open for review, we are inclined to delve into the merits of the present petition.
In his bid for acquittal, petitioner argues that he could not have committed the crime imputed against him
for he was never in custody and possession of any firearm or ammunition when he arrived in
the Philippines. Thus, the conclusion of the appellate court that he was in constructive possession of the
subject firearms and ammunitions is erroneous.

We are not persuaded. As correctly found by the CA:

Appellants argument that he was never found in possession of the subject firearms and
ammunitions within Philippine jurisdiction is specious. It is worthy to note that at the
hearing of the case before the court a quo on October 8, 1996, the defense counsel
stipulated that the subject firearms and ammunitions were confiscated from appellant and
the same were given to PAL Station Manager Nilo Umayaw who, in turn, turned over the
same to Capt. Edwin Nadurata. Such stipulation of fact is binding on appellant, for the
acts of a lawyer in the defense of a case are the acts of his client. Granting that Nilo
Umayaw was merely told by the Dubai authorities that the firearms and ammunitions
were found in the luggage of appellant and that Umayaw had no personal knowledge
thereof, however, appellants signature on the Customs Declaration Form, which contains
the entry 2 PISTOL guns SENT SURRENDER TO PHILIPPINE AIRLINE, proves that he was
the one who brought the guns to Manila. While appellant claims that he signed the
Customs Declaration Form without reading it because of his excitement, however, he
does not claim that he was coerced or persuaded in affixing his signature thereon. The
preparation of the Customs Declaration Form is a requirement for all arriving passengers
in an international flight. Moreover, it cannot be said that appellant had already been
arrested when he signed the Customs Declaration Form. He was merely escorted by
Special Agent Acierto to the arrival area of the NAIA. In fact, appellant admitted that it
was only after he signed the Customs Declaration Form that he was brought to the ground
floor of NAIA for investigation. Consequently, appellant was in constructive possession of
the subject firearms. As held in People v. Dela Rosa, the kind of possession punishable
under PD 1866 is one where the accused possessed a firearm either physically or
constructively with animus possidendi or intention to possess the same. Animus
possidendi is a state of mind. As such, what goes on into the mind of the accused, as his
real intent, could be determined solely based on his prior and coetaneous acts and the
surrounding circumstances explaining how the subject firearm came to his possession.

Appellants witness, Capt. Nadurata, the PAL pilot of Flight No. PR 657
from Dubai to Manila on January 30, 1996, testified that he accepted custody of the
firearms and of appellant in order that the latter, who was being detained in Dubai for
having been found in possession of firearms, would be released from custody. In other
words, Capt. Naduratas possession of the firearm during the flight
from Dubai to Manilawas for and on behalf of appellant.[26]

We find no cogent reason to deviate from the above findings, especially considering petitioners admission
during the clarificatory questioning by the trial court:
Court: So, it is clear now in the mind of the Court, that the firearms and ammunitions will
also be with you on your flight to Manila, is that correct?
A: Yes, your honor.

Court: [You] made mention of that condition, that the Dubai police agreed to release you
provided that you will bring the guns and ammunitions with you? Is that the
condition of the Dubai Police?
A: Yes, your honor.

Court: The condition of his release was that he will have to bring the guns and
ammunitions to the Philippines and this arrangement was made by the PAL
Supervisor at Dubai and it was Mr. Umayaw the PAL Supervisor, who interceded
in his behalf with the Dubai Police for his flight in the Philippines.[27]

To us, this constitutes judicial admission of his possession of the subject firearms and ammunitions. This
admission, the veracity of which requires no further proof, may be controverted only upon a clear showing
that it was made through palpable mistake or that no admission was made.[28] No such controversion is
extant on record.

Moreover, we cannot ignore the Customs Declaration Form wherein it appeared that petitioner brought
the firearms with him upon his arrival in the Philippines. While there was no showing that he was forced
to sign the form, petitioner can only come up with the excuse that he was excited. Hardly can we accept
such pretension.

We are likewise not swayed by petitioners contention that the lower court erroneously relied on the
Customs Declaration Form since it is not admissible in evidence because it was accomplished without the
benefit of counsel while he was under police custody.

The accomplishment of the Customs Declaration Form was not elicited through custodial investigation. It
is a customs requirement which petitioner had a clear obligation to comply. As correctly observed by the
CA, the preparation of the Customs Declaration Form is a requirement for all arriving passengers in an
international flight. Petitioner was among those passengers.Compliance with the constitutional procedure
on custodial investigation is, therefore, not applicable in this case. Moreover, it is improbable that the
customs police were the ones who filled out the declaration form. As will be noted, it provides details that
only petitioner could have possibly known or supplied. Even assuming that there was prior
accomplishment of the form which contains incriminating details, petitioner could have easily taken
precautionary measures by not affixing his signature thereto. Or he could have registered his objection
thereto especially when no life threatening acts were being employed against him upon his arrival in the
country.

Obviously, it was not only the Customs Declaration Form from which the courts below based their
conclusion that petitioner was in constructive possession of subject firearms and ammunitions. Emphasis
was also given on the stipulations and admissions made during the trial. These pieces of evidence are
enough to show that he was the owner and possessor of these items.

Petitioner contends that the trial court has no jurisdiction over the case filed against him. He claims that
his alleged possession of the subject firearms transpired while he was at the DubaiAirport and his
possession thereof has ceased when he left for the Philippines. He insists that since Dubai is outside the
territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines and his situation is not one of the exceptions provided in Article 2
of the Revised Penal Code, our criminal laws are not applicable. In short, he had not committed a crime
within the Philippines.

Indeed it is fundamental that the place where the crime was committed determines not only the venue
of the action but is an essential element of jurisdiction.[29] In order for the courts to acquire jurisdiction in
criminal cases, the offense should have been committed or any one of its essential ingredients should
have taken place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. If the evidence adduced during the trial
shows that the offense was committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for want of
jurisdiction.[30]

Contrary to the arguments put forward by petitioner, we entertain no doubt that the crime of illegal
possession of firearms and ammunition for which he was charged was committed in the Philippines. The
accomplishment by petitioner of the Customs Declaration Form upon his arrival at the NAIA is very clear
evidence that he was already in possession of the subject firearms in the Philippines.

And more than mere possession, the prosecution was able to ascertain that he has no license or authority
to possess said firearms. It bears to stress that the essence of the crime penalized under PD 1866, as
amended, is primarily the accuseds lack of license to possess the firearm. The fact of lack or absence of
license constitutes an essential ingredient of the offense of illegal possession of firearm. Since it has been
shown that petitioner was already in the Philippines when he was found in possession of the subject
firearms and determined to be without any authority to possess them, an essential ingredient of the
offense, it is beyond reasonable doubt that the crime was perpetrated and completed in no other place
except the Philippines.
Moreover, the jurisdiction of a court over the criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint
or information. In this case, the information specifically and categorically alleged that on or about January
30, 1996 petitioner was in possession, custody and control of the subject firearms at
the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Pasay City, Philippines, certainly a territory within the jurisdiction
of the trial court.

In contrast, petitioner failed to establish by sufficient and competent evidence that the present charge
happened in Dubai. It may be well to recall that while in Dubai, petitioner, even in a situation between life
and death, firmly denied possession and ownership of the firearms. Furthermore, there is no record of
any criminal case having been filed against petitioner in Dubai in connection with the discovered
firearms. Since there is no pending criminal case when he left Dubai, it stands to reason that there was
no crime committed in Dubai. The age-old but familiar rule that he who alleges must prove his allegation
applies.[31]

Petitioner finally laments the trial courts denial of the Motion to Withdraw Information filed by the
investigating prosecutor due to the latters finding of lack of probable cause to indict him. He argues that
such denial effectively deprived him of his substantive right to a preliminary investigation.

Still, petitioners argument fails to persuade. There is nothing procedurally improper on the part of the trial
court in disregarding the result of the preliminary investigation it itself ordered.Judicial action on the motion
rests in the sound exercise of judicial discretion. In denying the motion, the trial court just followed the
jurisprudential rule laid down in Crespo v. Judge Mogul[32] that once a complaint or information is filed in
court, any disposition of the case as to its dismissal or the conviction or acquittal of the accused rests on
the sound discretion of the court. The court is not dutifully bound by such finding of the investigating
prosecutor. In Solar Team Entertainment, Inc v. Judge How[33] we held:

It bears stressing that the court is however not bound to adopt the resolution of the
Secretary of Justice since the court is mandated to independently evaluate or assess the
merits of the case, and may either agree or disagree with the recommendation of the
Secretary of Justice. Reliance alone on the resolution of the Secretary of Justice would be
an abdication of the trial courts duty and jurisdiction to determine prima facie case.

Consequently, petitioner has no valid basis to insist on the trial court to respect the result of the preliminary
investigation it ordered to be conducted.
In fine, we find no reason not to uphold petitioners conviction. The records substantiate the RTC and CAs
finding that petitioner possessed, albeit constructively, the subject firearms and ammunition when he
arrived in the Philippines on January 30, 1996. Moreover, no significant facts and circumstances were
shown to have been overlooked or disregarded which if considered would have altered the outcome of
the case.

In the prosecution for the crime of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, the Court has reiterated
the essential elements in People v. Eling[34] to wit: (1) the existence of subject firearm; and, (2) the fact
that the accused who possessed or owned the same does not have the corresponding license for it.

In the instant case, the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt the elements of the crime. The
existence of the subject firearms and the ammunition were established through the testimony of
Acierto. Their existence was likewise admitted by petitioner when he entered into stipulation and through
his subsequent judicial admission. Concerning petitioners lack of authority to possess the firearms, SPO4
Bondoc, Jr. testified that upon verification, it was ascertained that the name of petitioner does not appear
in the list of registered firearm holders or a registered owner thereof. As proof, he submitted a certification
to that effect and identified the same in court. The testimony of SPO4 Bondoc, Jr. or the certification from
the FEO would suffice to prove beyond reasonable doubt the second element.[35]
A final point. Republic Act (RA) No. 8294[36] took effect on June 6, 1997 or after the commission of the
crime on January 30, 1996. However, since it is advantageous to the petitioner, it should be given
retrospective application insofar as the penalty is concerned.

Section 1 of PD 1866, as amended by RA 8294 provides:

Section 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms


or Ammunition or Instruments Used or Intended to be Used in the Manufacture of
Firearms or Ammunition. x x x

The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period and a fine of Thirty thousand pesos
(P30,000.00) shall be imposed if the firearm is classified as high powered firearm which
includes those with bores bigger in diameter than .38 caliber and 9 millimeter such as
caliber .40, .41, .44, .45 and also lesser calibered firearms but considered powerful such
as caliber .357 and caliber .22 center-fire magnum and other firearms with firing capability
of full automatic and by burst of two or three: Provided, however, That no other crime
was committed by the person arrested.
Prision mayor in its minimum period ranges from six years and one day to eight years. Hence, the penalty
imposed by the RTC as affirmed by the CA is proper.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
21805 affirming the January 23, 1998 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 109 dated
January 23, 1998, convicting petitioner Teofilo Evangelista of violation of Section 1 of Presidential Decree
No. 1866, as amended, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of six years and one
day to eight years and to pay a fine of P30,000.00 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division
CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
People v. Fajardo, 123 Phil. 1348, 1351 (1966).
[2]
Rollo, pp. 3-37.
[3]
CA rollo, pp. 181-194; penned by Associate Justice Marina L. Buzon and concurred in by
Associate Justices Sergio L. Pestao and Jose Catral Mendoza (now a member of this Court).
[4]
Records, Vol. II, pp. 133-141; penned by Judge Lilia C. Lopez.
[5]
Decree Codifying the Laws on Illegal/Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing In Acquisition
or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunition or Explosives.
[6]
Records, Vol. I, pp. 1-2.
[7]
Id. at 54-59.
[8]
Id. at 75-79.
[9]
Id. at 73-74.
[10]
Id. at 86.
[11]
Exhibit G, records, p. 174.
[12]
Exhibit I, id. at 177.
[13]
Exhibit J, id. at 178.
[14]
Exhibit H, id. at 175-176.
[15]
Id. at 171.
[16]
Id. at 187-199.
[17]
Id. at 212.
[18]
Id. at 293-294.
[19]
Id. at 303-304.
[20]
Records, Vol. II, pp. 1-8.
[21]
Id. at 25.
[22]
Id. at 133-141.
[23]
CA rollo, 198-206.
[24]
Rollo, p. 16.
[25]
Dacut v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 169434, March 28, 2008, 550 SCRA 260, 267.
[26]
CA rollo, pp. 191-192. Citations Omitted
[27]
TSN, June 30, 1997, pp. 22-23.
[28]
RULES OF COURT, Rule129, Section 4.
Sec. 4 - Judicial admissions. An admission verbal or written made by a party in the course of the
proceedings in the same case does not require proof. The admission may be contradicted
only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was
made.
[29]
People v. Macasaet, 492 Phil. 355, 370 (2005).
[30]
Uy v. Court of Appeals, 342 Phil. 329, 337 (1997).
[31]
Samson v. Daway, 478 Phil. 784, 795 (2004).
[32]
235 Phl. 465, 476 (1987).
[33]
393 Phil. 172, 181 (2000).
[34]
G.R. No. 178546, April 30, 2008, 553 SCRA 724, 738.
[35]
Valeroso v. People, G.R. No. 164815, February 22, 2008, 546 SCRA 450, 468-469.
[36]
An Act Amending the Provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1866.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

EN BANC

ISABELITA C. VINUYA, VICTORIA G.R. No. 162230


C. DELA PEA, HERMINIHILDA
MANIMBO, LEONOR H. SUMAWANG,
CANDELARIA L. SOLIMAN, MARIA
L. QUILANTANG, MARIA L. MAGISA,
NATALIA M. ALONZO, LOURDES M.
NAVARO, FRANCISCA M. ATENCIO,
ERLINDA MANALASTAS, TARCILA
M. SAMPANG, ESTER M. PALACIO,
MAXIMA R. DELA CRUZ, BELEN A.
SAGUM, FELICIDAD TURLA,
FLORENCIA M. DELA PEA, Present:
EUGENIA M. LALU, JULIANA G.
MAGAT, CECILIA SANGUYO, ANA PUNO, C. J.,
ALONZO, RUFINA P. MALLARI, CARPIO,
ROSARIO M. ALARCON, RUFINA C. CORONA,
GULAPA, ZOILA B. MANALUS, CARPIO MORALES,
CORAZON C. CALMA, MARTA A. VELASCO, JR.,
GULAPA, TEODORA M. HERNANDEZ, NACHURA,
FERMIN B. DELA PEA, MARIA DELA LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
PAZ B. CULALA, ESPERANZA BRION,
MANAPOL, JUANITA M. BRIONES, PERALTA,
VERGINIA M. GUEVARRA, MAXIMA BERSAMIN,
ANGULO, EMILIA SANGIL, TEOFILA DEL CASTILLO,
R. PUNZALAN, JANUARIA G. GARCIA, ABAD,
PERLA B. BALINGIT, BELEN A. VILLARAMA, JR.,
CULALA, PILAR Q. GALANG, PEREZ, and
ROSARIO C. BUCO, GAUDENCIA C. MENDOZA, JJ.
DELA PEA, RUFINA Q. CATACUTAN,
FRANCIA A. BUCO, PASTORA C.
GUEVARRA, VICTORIA M. DELA
CRUZ, PETRONILA O. DELA CRUZ,
ZENAIDA P. DELA CRUZ, CORAZON
M. SUBA, EMERINCIANA A. VINUYA,
LYDIA A. SANCHEZ, ROSALINA M.
BUCO, PATRICIA A. BERNARDO,
LUCILA H. PAYAWAL, MAGDALENA
LIWAG, ESTER C. BALINGIT, JOVITA
A. DAVID, EMILIA C. MANGILIT,
VERGINIA M. BANGIT, GUILLERMA
S. BALINGIT, TERECITA PANGILINAN,
MAMERTA C. PUNO, CRISENCIANA
C. GULAPA, SEFERINA S. TURLA, Promulgated:
MAXIMA B. TURLA, LEONICIA G. April 28, 2010
GUEVARRA, ROSALINA M. CULALA,
CATALINA Y. MANIO, MAMERTA T.
SAGUM, CARIDAD L. TURLA, et al.
In their capacity and as members of the
Malaya Lolas Organization,
Petitioners,

- versus -

THE HONORABLE EXECUTIVE


SECRETARY ALBERTO G.
ROMULO, THE HONORABLE
SECRETARY OF FOREIGN
AFFAIRS DELIA DOMINGO-
ALBERT, THE HONORABLE
SECRETARY OF JUSTICE
MERCEDITAS N. GUTIERREZ,
and THE HONORABLE SOLICITOR
GENERAL ALFREDO L. BENIPAYO,
Respondents.
x--------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

The Treaty of Peace with Japan, insofar as it barred future claims such as those asserted
by plaintiffs in these actions, exchanged full compensation of plaintiffs for a future peace.
History has vindicated the wisdom of that bargain. And while full compensation for
plaintiffs' hardships, in the purely economic sense, has been denied these former prisoners
and countless other survivors of the war, the immeasurable bounty of life for themselves
and their posterity in a free society and in a more peaceful world services the debt.[1]

There is a broad range of vitally important areas that must be regularly decided by the Executive
Department without either challenge or interference by the Judiciary. One such area involves the delicate
arena of foreign relations. It would be strange indeed if the courts and the executive spoke with different
voices in the realm of foreign policy. Precisely because of the nature of the questions presented, and the
lapse of more than 60 years since the conduct complained of, we make no attempt to lay down general
guidelines covering other situations not involved here, and confine the opinion only to the very questions
necessary to reach a decision on this matter.

Factual Antecedents

This is an original Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with an application for
the issuance of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction against the Office of the Executive Secretary,
the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Secretary of the Department of Justice
(DOJ), and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

Petitioners are all members of the MALAYA LOLAS, a non-stock, non-profit organization
registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, established for the purpose of providing
aid to the victims of rape by Japanese military forces in the Philippines during the Second World
War.

Petitioners narrate that during the Second World War, the Japanese army attacked villages and
systematically raped the women as part of the destruction of the village. Their communities were bombed,
houses were looted and burned, and civilians were publicly tortured, mutilated, and slaughtered. Japanese
soldiers forcibly seized the women and held them in houses or cells, where they were repeatedly raped,
beaten, and abused by Japanese soldiers. As a result of the actions of their Japanese tormentors, the
petitioners have spent their lives in misery, having endured physical injuries, pain and disability, and mental
and emotional suffering.[2]
Petitioners claim that since 1998, they have approached the Executive Department through the
DOJ, DFA, and OSG, requesting assistance in filing a claim against the Japanese officials and military
officers who ordered the establishment of the comfort women stations in the Philippines. However,
officials of the Executive Department declined to assist the petitioners, and took the position that the
individual claims of the comfort women for compensation had already been fully satisfied by Japans
compliance with the Peace Treaty between the Philippines and Japan.

Issues

Hence, this petition where petitioners pray for this court to (a) declare that respondents committed
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of discretion in refusing to espouse their claims for
the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against them; and (b) compel the respondents
to espouse their claims for official apology and other forms of reparations against Japan before the
International Court of Justice (ICJ) and other international tribunals.

Petitioners arguments

Petitioners argue that the general waiver of claims made by the Philippine government in the
Treaty of Peace with Japan is void. They claim that the comfort women system established by Japan, and
the brutal rape and enslavement of petitioners constituted a crime against humanity,[3] sexual
slavery,[4] and torture.[5] They allege that the prohibition against these international crimes is jus
cogens norms from which no derogation is possible; as such, in waiving the claims of Filipina comfort
women and failing to espouse their complaints against Japan, the Philippine government is in breach of
its legal obligation not to afford impunity for crimes against humanity. Finally, petitioners assert that the
Philippine governments acceptance of the apologies made by Japan as well as funds from the Asian
Womens Fund (AWF) were contrary to international law.

Respondents Arguments

Respondents maintain that all claims of the Philippines and its nationals relative to the war were dealt with
in the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 and the bilateral Reparations Agreement of 1956.[6]
Article 14 of the Treaty of Peace[7] provides:

Article 14. Claims and Property

a) It is recognized that Japan should pay reparations to the Allied Powers for the damage
and suffering caused by it during the war. Nevertheless it is also recognized
that the resources of Japan are not presently sufficient, if it is to maintain a
viable economy, to make complete reparation for all such damage and
suffering and at the present time meet its other obligations.

b) Except as otherwise provided in the present Treaty, the Allied Powers


waive all reparations claims of the Allied Powers, other claims of the Allied
Powers and their nationals arising out of any actions taken by Japan and its
nationals in the course of the prosecution of the war, and claims of the Allied
Powers for direct military costs of occupation.

In addition, respondents argue that the apologies made by Japan[8] have been satisfactory, and
that Japan had addressed the individual claims of the women through the atonement money paid by the
Asian Womens Fund.
Historical Background

The comfort women system was the tragic legacy of the Rape of Nanking. In December 1937,
Japanese military forces captured the city of Nanking in China and began a barbaric campaign of terror
known as the Rape of Nanking, which included the rapes and murders of an estimated 20,000 to 80,000
Chinese women, including young girls, pregnant mothers, and elderly women.[9]

In reaction to international outcry over the incident, the Japanese government sought ways to
end international condemnation[10] by establishing the comfort women system. Under this system, the
military could simultaneously appease soldiers' sexual appetites and contain soldiers' activities within a
regulated environment.[11] Comfort stations would also prevent the spread of venereal disease among
soldiers and discourage soldiers from raping inhabitants of occupied territories.[12]

Daily life as a comfort woman was unmitigated misery.[13] The military forced victims into barracks-
style stations divided into tiny cubicles where they were forced to live, sleep, and have sex with as many
30 soldiers per day.[14] The 30 minutes allotted for sexual relations with each soldier were 30-minute
increments of unimaginable horror for the women.[15] Disease was rampant.[16] Military doctors regularly
examined the women, but these checks were carried out to prevent the spread of venereal diseases; little
notice was taken of the frequent cigarette burns, bruises, bayonet stabs and even broken bones inflicted
on the women by soldiers.

Fewer than 30% of the women survived the war.[17] Their agony continued in having to suffer with the
residual physical, psychological, and emotional scars from their former lives. Some returned home and
were ostracized by their families. Some committed suicide. Others, out of shame, never returned home.[18]
Efforts to Secure Reparation

The most prominent attempts to compel the Japanese government to accept legal responsibility
and pay compensatory damages for the comfort women system were through a series of lawsuits,
discussion at the United Nations (UN), resolutions by various nations, and the Womens International
Criminal Tribunal. The Japanese government, in turn, responded through a series of public apologies and
the creation of the AWF.[19]

Lawsuits

In December 1991, Kim Hak-Sun and two other survivors filed the first lawsuit in Japan by former
comfort women against the Japanese government. The Tokyo District Court however dismissed their
case.[20] Other suits followed,[21] but the Japanese government has, thus far, successfully caused the
dismissal of every case.[22]

Undoubtedly frustrated by the failure of litigation before Japanese courts, victims of the comfort
women system brought their claims before the United States (US). On September 18, 2000, 15 comfort
women filed a class action lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia[23] "seeking money
damages for [allegedly] having been subjected to sexual slavery and torture before and during World War
II," in violation of "both positive and customary international law." The case was filed pursuant to the Alien
Tort Claims Act (ATCA),[24] which allowed the plaintiffs to sue the Japanese government in a US federal
district court.[25] On October 4, 2001, the district court dismissed the lawsuit due to lack of jurisdiction over
Japan, stating that [t]here is no question that this court is not the appropriate forum in which plaintiffs
may seek to reopen x x x discussions nearly half a century later x x x [E]ven if Japan did not enjoy
sovereign immunity, plaintiffs' claims are non-justiciable and must be dismissed.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the case.[26] On
appeal, the US Supreme Court granted the womens petition for writ of certiorari, vacated the judgment
of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and remanded the case.[27] On remand, the Court of Appeals
affirmed its prior decision, noting that much as we may feel for the plight of the appellants, the courts of
the US simply are not authorized to hear their case.[28] The women again brought their case to the US
Supreme Court which denied their petition for writ of certiorari on February 21, 2006.

Efforts at the United Nations


In 1992, the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (KCWS),
submitted a petition to the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), asking for assistance in investigating
crimes committed by Japan against Korean women and seeking reparations for former comfort
women.[29] The UNHRC placed the issue on its agenda and appointed Radhika Coomaraswamy as the
issue's special investigator. In 1996, Coomaraswamy issued a Report reaffirming Japan's responsibility in
forcing Korean women to act as sex slaves for the imperial army, and made the
following recommendations:

A. At the national level


137. The Government of Japan should:

(a) Acknowledge that the system of comfort stations set up by the Japanese Imperial
Army during the Second World War was a violation of its obligations under
international law and accept legal responsibility for that violation;

(b) Pay compensation to individual victims of Japanese military sexual slavery according
to principles outlined by the Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on
Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities on the right to restitution,
compensation and rehabilitation for victims of grave violations of human rights
and fundamental freedoms. A special administrative tribunal for this purpose
should be set up with a limited time-frame since many of the victims are of a very
advanced age;

(c) Make a full disclosure of documents and materials in its possession with regard to
comfort stations and other related activities of the Japanese Imperial Army during
the Second World War;

(d) Make a public apology in writing to individual women who have come forward and
can be substantiated as women victims of Japanese military sexual slavery;

(e) Raise awareness of these issues by amending educational curricula to reflect historical
realities;

(f) Identify and punish, as far as possible, perpetrators involved in the recruitment and
institutionalization of comfort stations during the Second World War.

Gay J. McDougal, the Special Rapporteur for the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and
Protection of Minorities, also presented a report to the Sub-Committee on June 22,
1998 entitled Contemporary Forms of Slavery: Systematic Rape, Sexual Slavery and Slavery-like Practices
During Armed Conflict. The report included an appendix entitled An Analysis of the Legal Liability of the
Government of Japan for 'Comfort Women Stations' established during the Second World War,[30] which
contained the following findings:
68. The present report concludes that the Japanese Government remains liable for grave
violations of human rights and humanitarian law, violations that amount in their totality
to crimes against humanity. The Japanese Governments arguments to the contrary,
including arguments that seek to attack the underlying humanitarian law prohibition of
enslavement and rape, remain as unpersuasive today as they were when they were first
raised before the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal more than 50 years ago. In addition,
the Japanese Governments argument that Japan has already settled all claims from the
Second World War through peace treaties and reparations agreements following the war
remains equally unpersuasive. This is due, in large part, to the failure until very recently
of the Japanese Government to admit the extent of the Japanese militarys direct
involvement in the establishment and maintenance of these rape centres. The Japanese
Governments silence on this point during the period in which peace and reparations
agreements between Japan and other Asian Governments were being negotiated
following the end of the war must, as a matter of law and justice, preclude Japan from
relying today on these peace treaties to extinguish liability in these cases.

69. The failure to settle these claims more than half a century after the cessation of
hostilities is a testament to the degree to which the lives of women continue to be
undervalued. Sadly, this failure to address crimes of a sexual nature committed on a
massive scale during the Second World War has added to the level of impunity with which
similar crimes are committed today. The Government of Japan has taken some steps to
apologize and atone for the rape and enslavement of over 200,000 women and girls who
were brutalized in comfort stations during the Second World War. However, anything less
than full and unqualified acceptance by the Government of Japan of legal liability and the
consequences that flow from such liability is wholly inadequate. It must now fall to the
Government of Japan to take the necessary final steps to provide adequate redress.

The UN, since then, has not taken any official action directing Japan to provide the reparations sought.
Women's International War Crimes

Tribunal

The Women's International War Crimes Tribunal (WIWCT) was a people's tribunal established by a
number of Asian women and human rights organizations, supported by an international coalition of non-
governmental organizations.[31] First proposed in 1998, the WIWCT convened in Tokyo in 2000 in order
to adjudicate Japan's military sexual violence, in particular the enslavement of comfort women, to bring
those responsible for it to justice, and to end the ongoing cycle of impunity for wartime sexual violence
against women.

After examining the evidence for more than a year, the tribunal issued its verdict on December 4,
2001, finding the former Emperor Hirohito and the State of Japan guilty of crimes against humanity for
the rape and sexual slavery of women.[32] It bears stressing, however, that although the tribunal included
prosecutors, witnesses, and judges, its judgment was not legally binding since the tribunal itself was
organized by private citizens.

Action by Individual Governments

On January 31, 2007, US Representative Michael Honda of California, along with six co-sponsor
representatives, introduced House Resolution 121 which called for Japanese action in light of the ongoing
struggle for closure by former comfort women. The Resolution was formally passed on July 30,
2007,[33] and made four distinct demands:

[I]t is the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan (1) should
formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and
unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of young women into sexual
slavery, known to the world as comfort women, during its colonial and wartime occupation
of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II; (2)
would help to resolve recurring questions about the sincerity and status of prior
statements if the Prime Minister of Japan were to make such an apology as a public
statement in his official capacity; (3) should clearly and publicly refute any claims that the
sexual enslavement and trafficking of the comfort women for the Japanese Imperial Army
never occurred; and (4) should educate current and future generations about this horrible
crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect
to the comfort women.[34]

In December 2007, the European Parliament, the governing body of the European Union, drafted
a resolution similar to House Resolution 121.[35] Entitled, Justice for Comfort Women, the resolution
demanded: (1) a formal acknowledgment of responsibility by the Japanese government; (2) a removal of
the legal obstacles preventing compensation; and (3) unabridged education of the past. The resolution
also stressed the urgency with which Japan should act on these issues, stating: the right of individuals to
claim reparations against the government should be expressly recognized in national law, and cases for
reparations for the survivors of sexual slavery, as a crime under international law, should be prioritized,
taking into account the age of the survivors.

The Canadian and Dutch parliaments have each followed suit in drafting resolutions
against Japan. Canada's resolution demands the Japanese government to issue a formal apology, to admit
that its Imperial Military coerced or forced hundreds of thousands of women into sexual slavery, and to
restore references in Japanese textbooks to its war crimes.[36] The Dutch parliament's resolution calls for
the Japanese government to uphold the 1993 declaration of remorse made by Chief Cabinet Secretary
Yohei Kono.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the United Kingdoms Parliament also produced a report in
November, 2008 entitled, "Global Security: Japan and Korea" which concluded that Japan should
acknowledge the pain caused by the issue of comfort women in order to ensure cooperation
between Japan and Korea.

Statements of Remorse made by representatives


of the Japanese government

Various officials of the Government of Japan have issued the following public statements
concerning the comfort system:

a) Statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993:

The Government of Japan has been conducting a study on the issue of wartime "comfort
women" since December 1991. I wish to announce the findings as a result of that study.

As a result of the study which indicates that comfort stations were operated in extensive
areas for long periods, it is apparent that there existed a great number of comfort women.
Comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military authorities of
the day. The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the
establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort
women. The recruitment of the comfort women was conducted mainly by private
recruiters who acted in response to the request of the military. The Government study
has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through
coaxing coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took
part in the recruitments. They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive
atmosphere.

As to the origin of those comfort women who were transferred to the war areas, excluding
those from Japan, those from the Korean Peninsula accounted for a large part.
The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese rule in those days, and their recruitment,
transfer, control, etc., were conducted generally against their will, through coaxing,
coercion, etc.

Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day,
that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. The Government of Japan
would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse
to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable
physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

It is incumbent upon us, the Government of Japan, to continue to consider seriously,


while listening to the views of learned circles, how best we can express this sentiment.
We shall face squarely the historical facts as described above instead of evading them,
and take them to heart as lessons of history. We hereby reiterated our firm determination
never to repeat the same mistake by forever engraving such issues in our memories
through the study and teaching of history.

As actions have been brought to court in Japan and interests have been shown in this
issue outside Japan, the Government of Japan shall continue to pay full attention to this
matter, including private researched related thereto.

b) Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayamas Statement in 1994

On the issue of wartime comfort women, which seriously stained the honor and dignity
of many women, I would like to take this opportunity once again to express my profound
and sincere remorse and apologies

c) Letters from the Prime Minister of Japan to Individual Comfort Women


The issue of comfort women, with the involvement of the Japanese military authorities at
that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of a large number of women.

As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse
to all the women who endured immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered
incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

I believe that our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of
apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it
to future generations.

d) The Diet (Japanese Parliament) passed resolutions in 1995 and 2005

Solemnly reflecting upon the many instances of colonial rule and acts of aggression that
occurred in modern world history, and recognizing that Japan carried out such acts in the
past and inflicted suffering on the people of other countries, especially in Asia, the
Members of this House hereby express deep remorse. (Resolution of the House of
Representatives adopted on June 9, 1995)

e) Various Public Statements by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe


I have talked about this matter in the Diet sessions last year, and recently as well, and
to the press. I have been consistent. I will stand by the Kono Statement. This is our
consistent position. Further, we have been apologizing sincerely to those who suffered
immeasurable pain and incurable psychological wounds as comfort women. Former Prime
Ministers, including Prime Ministers Koizumi and Hashimoto, have issued letters to the
comfort women. I would like to be clear that I carry the same feeling. This has not
changed even slightly. (Excerpt from Remarks by Prime Minister Abe at an Interview by
NHK, March 11, 2007).

I am apologizing here and now. I am apologizing as the Prime Minister and it is as stated
in the statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono. (Excerpt from Remarks by Prime
Minister Abe at the Budget Committee, the House of Councilors, the Diet of Japan, March
26, 2007).

I am deeply sympathetic to the former comfort women who suffered hardships, and I
have expressed my apologies for the extremely agonizing circumstances into which they
were placed. (Excerpt from Telephone Conference by Prime Minister Abe to President
George W. Bush, April 3, 2007).

I have to express sympathy from the bottom of my heart to those people who were taken
as wartime comfort women. As a human being, I would like to express my sympathies,
and also as prime minister of Japan I need to apologize to them. My administration has
been saying all along that we continue to stand by the Kono Statement. We feel
responsible for having forced these women to go through that hardship and pain as
comfort women under the circumstances at the time. (Excerpt from an interview article
"A Conversation with Shinzo Abe" by the Washington Post, April 22, 2007).

x x x both personally and as Prime Minister of Japan, my heart goes out in sympathy to
all those who suffered extreme hardships as comfort women; and I expressed my
apologies for the fact that they were forced to endure such extreme and harsh conditions.
Human rights are violated in many parts of the world during the 20th Century; therefore
we must work to make the 21st Century a wonderful century in which no human rights
are violated. And the Government of Japan and I wish to make significant contributions
to that end. (Excerpt from Prime Minister Abe's remarks at the Joint Press Availability after
the summit meeting at Camp David between Prime Minister Abe and President Bush, April
27, 2007).

The Asian Women's Fund

Established by the Japanese government in 1995, the AWF represented the government's
concrete attempt to address its moral responsibility by offering monetary compensation to victims of the
comfort women system.[37] The purpose of the AWF was to show atonement of the Japanese people
through expressions of apology and remorse to the former wartime comfort women, to restore their
honor, and to demonstrate Japans strong respect for women.[38]

The AWF announced three programs for former comfort women who applied for assistance: (1) an
atonement fund paying 2 million (approximately $20,000) to each woman; (2) medical and welfare
support programs, paying 2.5-3 million ($25,000-$30,000) for each woman; and (3) a letter of apology
from the Japanese Prime Minister to each woman. Funding for the program came from the Japanese
government and private donations from the Japanese people. As of March 2006, the AWF provided 700
million (approximately $7 million) for these programs in South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines; 380
million (approximately $3.8 million) in Indonesia; and 242 million (approximately $2.4 million) in
the Netherlands.

On January 15, 1997, the AWF and the Philippine government signed a Memorandum of Understanding
for medical and welfare support programs for former comfort women. Over the next five years, these
were implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Our Ruling

Stripped down to its essentials, the issue in this case is whether the Executive Department
committed grave abuse of discretion in not espousing petitioners claims for official apology and other
forms of reparations against Japan.

The petition lacks merit.

From a Domestic Law Perspective, the Executive


Department has the exclusive prerogative to
determine whether to espouse petitioners claims
against Japan.

Baker v. Carr[39] remains the starting point for analysis under the political question doctrine. There
the US Supreme Court explained that:

x x x Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a political question is found a
textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political
department or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it,
or the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for
non-judicial discretion; or the impossibility of a court's undertaking independent resolution
without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government; or an
unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made; or the
potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments
on question.

In Taada v. Cuenco,[40] we held that political questions refer "to those questions which, under the
Constitution, are to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full
discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government. It is
concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality of a particular measure."

Certain types of cases often have been found to present political questions.[41] One such category involves
questions of foreign relations. It is well-established that "[t]he conduct of the foreign relations of our
government is committed by the Constitution to the executive and legislative--'the political'--departments
of the government, and the propriety of what may be done in the exercise of this political power is not
subject to judicial inquiry or decision."[42] The US Supreme Court has further cautioned that decisions
relating to foreign policy

are delicate, complex, and involve large elements of prophecy. They are and should be
undertaken only by those directly responsible to the people whose welfare they advance
or imperil. They are decisions of a kind for which the Judiciary has neither aptitude,
facilities nor responsibility.[43]

To be sure, not all cases implicating foreign relations present political questions, and courts certainly
possess the authority to construe or invalidate treaties and executive agreements.[44]However, the
question whether the Philippine government should espouse claims of its nationals against a foreign
government is a foreign relations matter, the authority for which is demonstrably committed by our
Constitution not to the courts but to the political branches. In this case, the Executive Department has
already decided that it is to the best interest of the country to waive all claims of its nationals for reparations
against Japan in the Treaty of Peace of 1951. The wisdom of such decision is not for the courts to
question. Neither could petitioners herein assail the said determination by the Executive
Department via the instant petition for certiorari.

In the seminal case of US v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp.,[45] the US Supreme Court held that [t]he
President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign
relations.

It is quite apparent that if, in the maintenance of our international relations,


embarrassment -- perhaps serious embarrassment -- is to be avoided and success for our
aims achieved, congressional legislation which is to be made effective through negotiation
and inquiry within the international field must often accord to the President a degree of
discretion and freedom from statutory restriction which would not be admissible where
domestic affairs alone involved. Moreover, he, not Congress, has the better opportunity
of knowing the conditions which prevail in foreign countries, and especially is this true in
time of war. He has his confidential sources of information. He has his agents in the form
of diplomatic, consular and other officials. x x x
This ruling has been incorporated in our jurisprudence through Bayan v.
Executive Secretary[46] and Pimentel v. Executive Secretary;[47] its overreaching principle was, perhaps,
best articulated in (now Chief) Justice Punos dissent in Secretary of Justice v. Lantion:[48]

x x x The conduct of foreign relations is full of complexities and consequences, sometimes


with life and death significance to the nation especially in times of war. It can only be
entrusted to that department of government which can act on the basis of the best
available information and can decide with decisiveness. x x x It is also the President who
possesses the most comprehensive and the most confidential information about foreign
countries for our diplomatic and consular officials regularly brief him on meaningful events
all over the world. He has also unlimited access to ultra-sensitive military intelligence
data.In fine, the presidential role in foreign affairs is dominant and the President is
traditionally accorded a wider degree of discretion in the conduct of foreign affairs. The
regularity, nay, validity of his actions are adjudged under less stringent standards, lest
their judicial repudiation lead to breach of an international obligation, rupture of state
relations, forfeiture of confidence, national embarrassment and a plethora of other
problems with equally undesirable consequences.

The Executive Department has determined that taking up petitioners cause would be inimical to our
countrys foreign policy interests, and could disrupt our relations with Japan, thereby creating serious
implications for stability in this region. For us to overturn the Executive Departments determination would
mean an assessment of the foreign policy judgments by a coordinate political branch to which authority
to make that judgment has been constitutionally committed.

In any event, it cannot reasonably be maintained that the Philippine government was without authority
to negotiate the Treaty of Peace with Japan. And it is equally true that, since time immemorial, when
negotiating peace accords and settling international claims:

x x x [g]overnments have dealt with x x x private claims as their own, treating them as
national assets, and as counters, `chips', in international bargaining. Settlement
agreements have lumped, or linked, claims deriving from private debts with others that
were intergovernmental in origin, and concessions in regard to one category of claims
might be set off against concessions in the other, or against larger political considerations
unrelated to debts.[49]

Indeed, except as an agreement might otherwise provide, international settlements generally wipe out
the underlying private claims, thereby terminating any recourse under domestic law. In Ware v.
Hylton,[50] a case brought by a British subject to recover a debt confiscated by
the Commonwealth of Virginia during the war, Justice Chase wrote:
I apprehend that the treaty of peace abolishes the subject of the war, and that after peace
is concluded, neither the matter in dispute, nor the conduct of either party, during the
war, can ever be revived, or brought into contest again. All violences, injuries, or damages
sustained by the government, or people of either, during the war, are buried in oblivion;
and all those things are implied by the very treaty of peace; and therefore not necessary
to be expressed. Hence it follows, that the restitution of, or compensation for, British
property confiscated, or extinguished, during the war, by any of the United States, could
only be provided for by the treaty of peace; and if there had been no provision, respecting
these subjects, in the treaty, they could not be agitated after the treaty, by the British
government, much less by her subjects in courts of justice. (Emphasis supplied).

This practice of settling claims by means of a peace treaty is certainly


nothing new. For instance, in Dames & Moore v. Regan,[51] the US Supreme Court held:

Not infrequently in affairs between nations, outstanding claims by nationals of one country
against the government of another country are sources of friction between the two
sovereigns. United States v. Pink, 315 U.S. 203, 225, 62 S.Ct. 552, 563, 86 L.Ed. 796
(1942). To resolve these difficulties, nations have often entered into agreements settling
the claims of their respective nationals. As one treatise writer puts it, international
agreements settling claims by nationals of one state against the government of another
are established international practice reflecting traditional international theory. L. Henkin,
Foreign Affairs and the Constitution 262 (1972). Consistent with that principle, the United
States has repeatedly exercised its sovereign authority to settle the claims of its nationals
against foreign countries. x x x Under such agreements, the President has agreed to
renounce or extinguish claims of United States nationals against foreign governments in
return for lump-sum payments or the establishment of arbitration procedures. To be sure,
many of these settlements were encouraged by the United States claimants themselves,
since a claimant's only hope of obtaining any payment at all might lie in having his
Government negotiate a diplomatic settlement on his behalf. But it is also undisputed that
the United States has sometimes disposed of the claims of its citizens without their
consent, or even without consultation with them, usually without exclusive regard for their
interests, as distinguished from those of the nation as a whole. Henkin, supra, at 262-
263. Accord, Restatement (Second) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States 213
(1965) (President may waive or settle a claim against a foreign state x x x [even] without
the consent of the [injured] national). It is clear that the practice of settling claims
continues today.

Respondents explain that the Allied Powers concluded the Peace Treaty with Japan not necessarily for the
complete atonement of the suffering caused by Japanese aggression during the war, not for the payment
of adequate reparations, but for security purposes. The treaty sought to prevent the spread of
communism in Japan, which occupied a strategic position in the Far East. Thus, the Peace Treaty
compromised individual claims in the collective interest of the free world.
This was also the finding in a similar case involving American victims of Japanese slave labor during the
war.[52] In a consolidated case in the Northern District of California,[53] the court dismissed the lawsuits
filed, relying on the 1951 peace treaty with Japan,[54] because of the following policy considerations:

The official record of treaty negotiations establishes that a fundamental goal of the
agreement was to settle the reparations issue once and for all. As the statement of the
chief United States negotiator, John Foster Dulles, makes clear, it was well understood
that leaving open the possibility of future claims would be an unacceptable
impediment to a lasting peace:

Reparation is usually the most controversial aspect of peacemaking. The


present peace is no exception.

On the one hand, there are claims both vast and just. Japan's aggression
caused tremendous cost, losses and suffering.

On the other hand, to meet these claims, there stands a Japan presently
reduced to four home islands which are unable to produce the food its
people need to live, or the raw materials they need to work. x x x

The policy of the United States that Japanese liability for reparations should be sharply
limited was informed by the experience of six years of United States-led occupation
of Japan. During the occupation the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP)
for the region, General Douglas MacArthur, confiscated Japanese assets in conjunction
with the task of managing the economic affairs of the vanquished nation and with a view
to reparations payments. It soon became clear that Japan's financial condition
would render any aggressive reparations plan an exercise in futility.
Meanwhile, the importance of a stable, democratic Japan as a bulwark to
communism in the region increased. At the end of 1948, MacArthur expressed the
view that [t]he use of reparations as a weapon to retard the reconstruction of a viable
economy in Japan should be combated with all possible means and recommended that
the reparations issue be settled finally and without delay.

That this policy was embodied in the treaty is clear not only from the negotiations history
but also from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee report recommending approval of
the treaty by the Senate. The committee noted, for example:

Obviously insistence upon the payment of reparations in any proportion


commensurate with the claims of the injured countries and their nationals
would wreck Japan's economy, dissipate any credit that it may possess
at present, destroy the initiative of its people, and create misery and
chaos in which the seeds of discontent and communism would flourish.
In short, [it] would be contrary to the basic purposes and policy of x x
x the United States x x x.
We thus hold that, from a municipal law perspective, that certiorari will not lie. As a general principle and
particularly here, where such an extraordinary length of time has lapsed between the treatys conclusion
and our consideration the Executive must be given ample discretion to assess the foreign policy
considerations of espousing a claim against Japan, from the standpoint of both the interests of the
petitioners and those of the Republic, and decide on that basis if apologies are sufficient, and whether
further steps are appropriate or necessary.

The Philippines is not under any international


obligation to espouse petitioners claims.

In the international sphere, traditionally, the only means available for individuals to bring a claim within
the international legal system has been when the individual is able to persuade a government to bring a
claim on the individuals behalf.[55] Even then, it is not the individuals rights that are being asserted, but
rather, the states own rights. Nowhere is this position more clearly reflected than in the dictum of the
Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) in the 1924 Mavrommatis Palestine Concessions Case:

By taking up the case of one of its subjects and by resorting to diplomatic action or
international judicial proceedings on his behalf, a State is in reality asserting its own
right to ensure, in the person of its subjects, respect for the rules of international law. The
question, therefore, whether the present dispute originates in an injury to a private
interest, which in point of fact is the case in many international disputes, is irrelevant from
this standpoint. Once a State has taken up a case on behalf of one of its subjects before
an international tribunal, in the eyes of the latter the State is sole claimant.[56]
Since the exercise of diplomatic protection is the right of the State, reliance on the right is within
the absolute discretion of states, and the decision whether to exercise the discretion may invariably be
influenced by political considerations other than the legal merits of the particular claim.[57] As clearly stated
by the ICJ in
Barcelona Traction:

The Court would here observe that, within the limits prescribed by international law, a
State may exercise diplomatic protection by whatever means and to whatever
extent it thinks fit, for it is its own right that the State is asserting. Should the
natural or legal person on whose behalf it is acting consider that their rights
are not adequately protected, they have no remedy in international law. All
they can do is resort to national law, if means are available, with a view to furthering their
cause or obtaining redress. The municipal legislator may lay upon the State an obligation
to protect its citizens abroad, and may also confer upon the national a right to demand
the performance of that obligation, and clothe the right with corresponding sanctions.
However, all these questions remain within the province of municipal law and do not affect
the position internationally.[58] (Emphasis supplied)
The State, therefore, is the sole judge to decide whether its protection will be granted, to what
extent it is granted, and when will it cease. It retains, in this respect, a discretionary power the exercise
of which may be determined by considerations of a political or other nature, unrelated to the particular
case.

The International Law Commissions (ILCs) Draft Articles on Diplomatic Protection fully support
this traditional view. They (i) state that "the right of diplomatic protection belongs to or vests in the
State,[59] (ii) affirm its discretionary nature by clarifying that diplomatic protection is a "sovereign
prerogative" of the State;[60] and (iii) stress that the state "has the right to exercise diplomatic protection
on behalf of a national. It is under no duty or obligation to do so."[61]

It has been argued, as petitioners argue now, that the State has a duty to protect its nationals
and act on his/her behalf when rights are injured.[62] However, at present, there is no sufficient evidence
to establish a general international obligation for States to exercise diplomatic protection of their own
nationals abroad.[63] Though, perhaps desirable, neither state practice nor opinio juris has evolved in such
a direction. If it is a duty internationally, it is only a moral and not a legal duty, and there is no means of
enforcing its fulfillment.[64]

We fully agree that rape, sexual slavery, torture, and sexual violence are morally reprehensible as well as
legally prohibited under contemporary international law.[65] However, petitioners take quite a theoretical
leap in claiming that these proscriptions automatically imply that that the Philippines is under a non-
derogable obligation to prosecute international crimes, particularly since petitioners do not demand the
imputation of individual criminal liability, but seek to recover monetary reparations from the state of Japan.
Absent the consent of states, an applicable treaty regime, or a directive by the Security Council, there is
no non-derogable duty to institute proceedings against Japan. Indeed, precisely because of states
reluctance to directly prosecute claims against another state, recent developments support the
modern trend to empower individuals to directly participate in suits against perpetrators of
international crimes.[66]Nonetheless, notwithstanding an array of General Assembly resolutions calling
for the prosecution of crimes against humanity and the strong policy arguments warranting such a rule,
the practice of states does not yet support the present existence of an obligation to prosecute international
crimes.[67] Of course a customary duty of prosecution is ideal, but we cannot find enough evidence to
reasonably assert its existence. To the extent that any state practice in this area is widespread, it is in the
practice of granting amnesties, immunity, selective prosecution, or de facto impunity to those who commit
crimes against humanity.[68]
Even the invocation of jus cogens norms and erga omnes obligations will not alter this analysis. Even if
we sidestep the question of whether jus cogens norms existed in 1951, petitioners have not deigned to
show that the crimes committed by the Japanese army violated jus cogens prohibitions at the time the
Treaty of Peace was signed, or that the duty to prosecute perpetrators of international crimes is an erga
omnes obligation or has attained the status of jus cogens.

The term erga omnes (Latin: in relation to everyone) in international law has been used as a legal term
describing obligations owed by States towards the community of states as a whole. The concept was
recognized by the ICJ in Barcelona Traction:

x x x an essential distinction should be drawn between the obligations of a State towards


the international community as a whole, and those arising vis--vis another State in the
field of diplomatic protection. By their very nature, the former are the concern of all States.
In view of the importance of the rights involved, all States can be held to have a legal
interest in their protection; they are obligations erga omnes.

Such obligations derive, for example, in contemporary international law, from the
outlawing of acts of aggression, and of genocide, as also from the principles and rules
concerning the basic rights of the human person, including protection from slavery and
racial discrimination. Some of the corresponding rights of protection have entered into the
body of general international law others are conferred by international instruments of a
universal or quasi-universal character.

The Latin phrase, erga omnes, has since become one of the rallying cries of those sharing a belief in the
emergence of a value-based international public order. However, as is so often the case, the reality is
neither so clear nor so bright. Whatever the relevance of obligations erga omnes as a legal concept, its
full potential remains to be realized in practice.[69]
The term is closely connected with the international law concept of jus cogens. In international law, the
term jus cogens (literally, compelling law) refers to norms that command peremptory authority,
superseding conflicting treaties and custom. Jus cogens norms are considered peremptory in the sense
that they are mandatory, do not admit derogation, and can be modified only by general international
norms of equivalent authority.[70]

Early strains of the jus cogens doctrine have existed since the 1700s,[71] but peremptory norms began to
attract greater scholarly attention with the publication of Alfred von Verdross's influential 1937 article,
Forbidden Treaties in International Law.[72] The recognition of jus cogens gained even more force in the
1950s and 1960s with the ILCs preparation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
(VCLT).[73] Though there was a consensus that certain international norms had attained the status of jus
cogens,[74] the ILC was unable to reach a consensus on the proper criteria for identifying peremptory
norms.
After an extended debate over these and other theories of jus cogens, the ILC concluded ruefully in 1963
that there is not as yet any generally accepted criterion by which to identify a general rule of international
law as having the character of jus cogens.[75] In a commentary accompanying the draft convention, the
ILC indicated that the prudent course seems to be to x x x leave the full content of this rule to be worked
out in State practice and in the jurisprudence of international tribunals.[76] Thus, while the existence of jus
cogens in international law is undisputed, no consensus exists on its substance,[77] beyond a tiny core of
principles and rules.[78]

Of course, we greatly sympathize with the cause of petitioners, and we cannot begin to
comprehend the unimaginable horror they underwent at the hands of the Japanese soldiers. We are also
deeply concerned that, in apparent contravention of fundamental principles of law, the petitioners appear
to be without a remedy to challenge those that have offended them before appropriate fora. Needless to
say, our government should take the lead in protecting its citizens against violation of their fundamental
human rights. Regrettably, it is not within our power to order the Executive Department to take up the
petitioners cause. Ours is only the power to urge and exhort the Executive Department to take up
petitioners cause.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DISMISSED.


SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO RENATO C. CORONA


Associate Justice Associate Justice
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice Associate Justice

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION DIOSDADO M. PERALTA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR. JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion
of the Court.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
In Re World War II Era Japanese Forced Labor Litigation, 114 F. Supp. 2d 939 (N.D. Cal.
2000).
[2]
U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1996/53/Add.1 (January 4, 1996), Report of the Special Rapporteur on
violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, in
accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1994/45.
[3]
Treaty and customary law both provide that when rape is committed as part of a widespread
or systematic attack directed at any civilian population, regardless of its international or
internal character, then it constitutes one of the gravest crimes against humanity. This
principle is codified under Article 6(c) of the 1945 Nuremberg Charter as well as Article 5(c)
of the Tokyo Charter, which enumerated murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation,
and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian populations, before or during the war
as crimes against humanity, and extended in scope to include imprisonment, torture and rape
by Control Council Law No. 10.
[4]
Article 1 of the Slavery Convention provides:
For the purpose of the present Convention, the following definitions are agreed upon:
(1) Slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching
to the right of ownership are exercised.
(2) The slave trade includes all acts involved in the capture, acquisition or disposal of a person
with intent to reduce him to slavery; all acts involved in the acquisition of a slave with a
view to selling or exchanging him; all acts of disposal by sale or exchange of a slave
acquired with a view to being sold or exchanged, and, in general, every act of trade or
transport in slaves.
Slavery, Servitude, Forced Labour and Similar Institutions and Practices Convention of 1926
(Slavery Convention of 1926), 60 L.N.T.S. 253, entered into force March 9, 1927.
[5]
Torture is defined as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is
intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person,
information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or
is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for
any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or
at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person
acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent
in or incidental to lawful sanctions. (Convention Against Torture, Article 1.1)
[6]
Signed at San Francisco, September 8, 1951; Initial entry into force: April 28, 1952. The treaty
was signed
by Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa
Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El
Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japa
n, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New
Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama,Paraguay, Peru, The
Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, the Soviet Union, Sri Lanka, South Africa,Syria, Turkey,
the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam. The signatories for the
Republic of the Philippines were Carlos P. Romulo, J.M. Elizalde, Vicente Francisco, Diosdado
Macapagal, Emiliano Tirona, and V.G. Sinco.
[7]
Signed in San Francisco, September 8, 1951, ratified by the Philippine Senate on July 16, 1956.
Signed by the Philippine President on July 18, 1956. Entered into force on July 23, 1956.
[8]
On September 21, 1992, the Japanese Embassy formally confirmed to the Philippine
government the involvement of the Japanese Imperial Army in the establishment of comfort
women stations.
In May 1993, Japan approved textbooks featuring an account of how comfort women were
forced to work as prostitutes for the Japanese Imperial Army.
On August 4, 1993, Japanese Prime Minister Miyazawa, before resigning, formally apologized
to women all over the world who were forced to serve as comfort women:
The Japanese government regrets and sincerely apologizes for the unbearable pain
that these women regardless of their nationalities, suffered while being forced to
work as so-called comfort women.
The Japanese government expresses its heartfelt sentiments of reflection and
apology to all the women for their many sufferings and the injuries to mind and
body that cannot be healed.
The Philippine government, under the administration of then President Fidel V. Ramos,
accepted the formal apology given the Japanese Government. Though the formal apology
came late, it is a most welcome gesture from the government of Japan, which has been very
supportive of our economic development.
[9]
Richard J. Galvin, The Case for a Japanese Truth Commission Covering World War II Era
Japanese War Crimes, 11 TUL. J. INT'L & COMP. L. 59, 64 (2003).
[10]
See Argibay, Ad Litem Judge, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia,
Speech at the Stefan A. Riesenfeld Symposium: Sexual Slavery and the Comfort Women of
World War II, in 21 BERKELEY J. INT'L L. 375, 376 (2003).
[11]
Id.
[12]
Nearey, Seeking Reparations in the New Milleunium: Will Japan Compensate the Comfort
Women of World War II?, 15 TEMP. INT'L & COMP. L.J. 121, 134 (2001).
[13]
USTINIA DOLGOPOL & SNEHAL PARANJAPE, COMFORT WOMEN: AN UNFINISHED
ORDEAL 15 (1994).
[14]
Id. at 48.
[15]
See Johnson, Comment, Justice for Comfort Women: Will the Alien Tort Claims Act Bring Them
the Remedies They Seek?, 20 PENN ST. INT'L L. REV. 253, 260 (2001).
[16]
Id. at 261. Soldiers disregarded rules mandating the use of condoms, and thus many women
became pregnant or infected with sexually transmitted diseases.
[17]
Boling, Mass Rape, Enforced Prostitution, and the Japanese Imperial Army: Japan Eschews
International Legal Responsibility? 3 OCCASIONAL PAPERS/REPRINT SERIES
CONTEMPORARY ASIAN STUDIES 8 (1995).
[18]
Id.
[19]
YAMAMOTO ET AL., RACE, RIGHTS AND REPARATION 435-38 (2001).
[20]
Meade, From Shanghai to Globocourt: An Analysis of the Comfort Women's Defeat in Hwang
v. Japan, 35 VAND. J. TRANSNAT'L L. 211, 233 (2002).
[21]
Numerous lawsuits immediately followed, including lawsuits filed by the Korean Council for
Women Drafted for Sexual Slavery, and a suit by a Dutch former comfort woman;
Fisher, Japan's Postwar Compensation Litigation, 22 WHITTIER L. REV. 35, 44 (2000).
[22]
The lower court ruling in Ha v. Japan has been the lone courtroom victory for comfort women.
On December 25, 1992, ten Korean women filed the lawsuit with the Yamaguchi Prefectural
Court, seeking an official apology and compensation from the Japanese government. The
plaintiffs claimed that Japan had a moral duty to atone for its wartime crimes and a legal
obligation to compensate them under international and domestic laws. More than five years
later, on April 27, 1998, the court found the Japanese government guilty of negligence and
ordered it to pay 300,000, or $2,270, to each of the three plaintiffs. However, the court denied
plaintiffs demands that the government issue an official apology. Both parties appealed,
but Japan's High Court later overturned the ruling. See Park, Broken Silence: Redressing the
Mass Rape and Sexual Enslavement of Asian Women by the Japanese Government in an
Appropriate Forum, 3 ASIAN-PAC. L. & POL'Y J. 40 (2002); Kim & Kim, Delayed Justice: The
Case of the Japanese Imperial Military Sex Slaves, 16 UCLA PAC. BASIN L.J. 263
(1998). Park, Comfort Women During WW II: Are U.S. Courts a Final Resort for Justice?,
17 AM. U. INT'L L. REV. 403, 408 (2002).
[23]
Hwang Geum Joo v. Japan (Hwang I), 172 F. Supp. 2d 52 (D.D.C. 2001), affirmed, 332 F.3d
679 (D.C. Cir. 2003), vacated, 542 U.S. 901 (2004), remanded to 413 F.3d 45 (D.C. Cir. 2005),
cert. denied, 126 S. Ct. 1418 (2006).
[24]
Alien Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1350 (2000). The ATCA gives US federal district courts original
jurisdiction to adjudicate civil cases and award tort damages for violations of the law of nations
or United States treaties. See Ahmed, The Shame of Hwang v. Japan: How the
International Community Has Failed Asia's Comfort Women, 14 TEX. J. WOMEN & L. 121,
141-42 (2004).
[25]
Under the ATCA, when a cause of action is brought against a sovereign nation, the only basis
for obtaining personal jurisdiction over the defendant is through an exception to the Foreign
Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). See Jeffords, Will Japan Face Its Past? The Struggle for
Justice for Former Comfort Women, 2 REGENT J. INT'L L. 145, 158 (2003/2004). The FSIA
(28 U.S.C. 1604 (1994 & Supp. 1999).) grants foreign states immunity from being sued in US
district courts unless the state waives its immunity or the claims fall within certain enumerated
exceptions. The Japanese government successfully argued that it is entitled to sovereign
immunity under the FSIA. The government additionally argued that post-war treaties had
resolved the issue of reparations, which were non-justiciable political questions.
[26]
See Hwang Geum Joo v. Japan (Hwang II), 332 F.3d 679, 680-81 (D.C. Cir. 2003),
vacated, 542 U.S. 901 (2004), remanded to 413 F.3d 45 (D.C. Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 126
S. Ct. 1418 (2006).
[27]
See Hwang Geum Joo v. Japan (Hwang III), 542 U.S. 901 (2004) (memorandum), remanded
to 413 F.3d 45 (D.C. Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 126 S. Ct. 1418 (2006).
[28]
Id.
[29]
SOH, THE COMFORT WOMEN PROJECT, SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY (1997-
2001), http://online.sfsu.edu/~soh/comfortwomen.html, at 1234-35.
[30]
An Analysis Of The Legal Liability Of The Government Of Japan For Comfort Women Stations
Established During The Second World War (Appendix); REPORT ON CONTEMPORARY FORMS
OF SLAVERY: SYSTEMATIC RAPE, SEXUAL SLAVERY AND SLAVERY-LIKE PRACTICES DURING
ARMED CONFLICT, Final report submitted by Ms. Gay J. McDougall, Special Rapporteur, Sub-
Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Commission on
Human Rights (Fiftieth Session) E/CN.4/Sub.2/1998/13 (June 22, 1998).
[31]
Chinkin, Women's International Tribunal on Japanese Sexual Slavery, 95 AM. J. INT'L. L. 335
(2001).
[32]
A large amount of evidence was presented to the tribunal for examination. Sixty-four former
comfort women from Korea and other surrounding territories in the Asia-Pacific region
testified before the court. Testimony was also presented by historical scholars, international
law scholars, and two former Japanese soldiers. Additional evidence was submitted by the
prosecution teams of ten different countries, including: North and South Korea, China, Japan,
the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, East Timor, and the Netherlands. Id. at 336.
[33]
Press Release, Congressman Mike Honda, Rep. Honda Calls on Japan to Apologize for World
War II Exploitation of Comfort Women (January 31, 2007).
[34]
H.R. Res. 121, 110th Cong. (2007) (enacted).
[35]
European Parliament, Human rights: Chad, Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia, Japan's Wartime
Sex Slaves, Dec. 17, 2007, http://
www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?language=EN&type=IM-
PRESS&reference=20071210BRI14639&secondRef=ITEM-008-EN.
[36]
The Comfort Women--A History of Trauma,
http:// taiwan.yam.org.tw/womenweb/conf_women/index_e.html.
[37]
YAMAMOTO ET AL., supra note 19 at 437. The government appointed Bunbei Hara, former
Speaker of the Upper House of the Diet, as the first President of the Asian Women's Fund
(1995-1999). Former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama succeeded Hara as the second
president of the program (1999-present). See Jeffords, supra note 25 at 158.
[38]
The Asian Women's Fund, http://www.awf.or.jp/english/project_ atonement.html, at 55.
[39]
369 U.S. 186, 82 S.Ct. 691, 7 L.Ed.2d 663 (1962).
[40]
103 Phil 1051, 1068 (1957).
[41]
See Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. at 211-222.
[42]
Oetjen v. Central Leather Co., 246 U.S. 297, 302 (1918).
[43]
Chicago & S. Air Lines, Inc. v. Waterman S.S. Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 111 (1948).
[44]
CONSTITUTION, Art. VIII, Sec. 5(2)(a).
[45]
299 US 304, 57 S. Ct. 216, 81 L. Ed, 255 (1936).
[46]
396 Phil 623, 663 (2000). We held:
By constitutional fiat and by the intrinsic nature of his office, the President, as head
of State, is the sole organ and authority in the external affairs of the country. In
many ways, the President is the chief architect of the nation's foreign policy; his
"dominance in the field of foreign relations is (then) conceded." Wielding vast
powers and influence, his conduct in the external affairs of the nation,
as Jefferson describes, is "executive altogether".
[47]
501 Phil. 304, 313 (2005). We stated:
In our system of government, the President, being the head of state, is regarded
as the sole organ and authority in external relations and is the country's sole
representative with foreign nations. As the chief architect of foreign policy, the
President acts as the country's mouthpiece with respect to international affairs.
Hence, the President is vested with the authority to deal with foreign states and
governments, extend or withhold recognition, maintain diplomatic relations, enter
into treaties, and otherwise transact the business of foreign relations. In the realm
of treaty-making, the President has the sole authority to negotiate with other
states.
[48]
379 Phil. 165, 233-234 (2004).
[49]
HENKIN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND THE CONSTITUTION 300 (2d 1996); see Dames and Moore
v. Regan, 453 U.S. 654, 688, 101 S.Ct. 2972, 69 L.Ed.2d 918 (1981) (upholding the President's
authority to settle claims of citizens as "a necessary incident to the resolution of a major
foreign policy dispute between our country and another [at least] where ... Congress
acquiesced in the President's action"); Am. Ins. Ass'n v. Garamendi, 539 U.S. 396, 424, 123
S.Ct. 2374, 156 L.Ed.2d 376 (2003) (acknowledging "President's authority to provide for
settling claims in winding up international hostilities"). See also Akbayan Citizens Action Party
(AKBAYAN) v. Aquino, G.R. No. 170516, July 16, 2008, 558 SCRA 468, 517 where we held
that:
x x x While, on first impression, it appears wise to deter Philippine representatives
from entering into compromises, it bears noting that treaty negotiations, or any
negotiation for that matter, normally involve a process of quid pro quo, and
oftentimes negotiators have to be willing to grant concessions in an area of lesser
importance in order to obtain more favorable terms in an area of greater national
interest.
[50]
3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 199, 230, 1 L.Ed. 568 (1796).
[51]
453 U.S. 654, 101 S.Ct. 2972 (1981) (re the establishment of the Iran-United States Claims
Tribunal following the seizure of American personnel as hostages at the American Embassy
in Tehran).
[52]
Bazyler, The Holocaust Restitution Movement in Comparative Perspective, 20 BERKELEY J.
INTL. L. 11, 25-32 (2002).
[53]
In Re World War II Era Japanese Forced Labor Litigation, supra note 1.
[54]
Treaty of Peace with Japan 1951, 136 UNTS 45.
[55]
The conceptual understanding that individuals have rights and responsibilities in the
international arena does not automatically mean that they have the ability to bring
international claims to assert their rights. Thus, the Permanent Court of International Justice
declared that it is scarcely necessary to point out that the capacity to possess civil rights does
not necessarily imply the capacity to exercise those rights oneself. Appeal from a Judgment
of the Hungaro/Czeochoslovak Mixed Arbitral Tribunal, Judgment, 1933, PCIJ, Ser. A/B No.
61, p. 208 at 231.
[56]
PCIJ, Ser. A, No. 2, p. 11, at 16. This traditional view was repeated by the PCIJ in
the Panevezys-Saldutiskis Railway Case, the Case Concerning the Payment of Various Serbian
Loans issued in France, Judgment of July 12, 1929, PCIJ Reports, Series A No. 20; and in
the Case Concerning the Factory at Chorzow, Judgment of September 13, 1928, Merits, PCIJ
Reports, Series A No. 17. The ICJ has adopted it in the Reparation for injuries suffered in the
service of the United Nations Advisory Opinion: ICJ Reports 1949, p. 174; the Nottebohm
Case (second phase) Judgment of April 6, 1955: ICJ Reports 1955, p. 4 at p. 24;
the Interhandel Case (Judgment of March 21st, 1959: ICJ Reports 1959, p. 6 at p. 27) and
the Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited case, (Belg. v. Spain), 1970 I.C.J.
3, 32 (Feb. 5).
[57]
See BORCHARD, E., DIPLOMATIC PROTECTION OF CITIZENS ABROAD AT VI (1915). Under
this view, the considerations underlying the decision to exercise or not diplomatic protection
may vary depending on each case and may rely entirely on policy considerations regardless
of the interests of the directly-injured individual, and the State is not required to provide
justification for its decision.
[58]
Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited, case, supra note 56, at p. 44 par. 78.
[59]
ILC First Reading Draft Articles on Diplomatic Protection, U.N. Doc. A/CN.4/484, ILC
Report, A/53/10 (F), par. 60, Commentary to Draft Article 2, par. (1); see also, Commentary
to Draft Article 1, par. (3), and text of Draft Article 2.
[60]
Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its 50th session, supra note 60,
par. 77.
[61]
ILC First Reading Draft Articles on Diplomatic Protection, supra note 60, commentary to Draft
Article 2, par. (2).
[62]
For instance, Special Rapporteur Dugard proposed that the ILC adopt in its Draft Articles a
provision under which States would be internationally obliged to exercise diplomatic
protection in favor of their nationals injured abroad by grave breaches to jus cogens norms,
if the national so requested and if he/she was not afforded direct access to an international
tribunal. The proposed article reads as follows:
Article [4]1. Unless the injured person is able to bring a claim for such injury before
a competent international court or tribunal, the State of his/her nationality has a
legal duty to exercise diplomatic protection on behalf of the injured person upon
request, if the injury results from a grave breach of a jus cogens norm attributable
to another State. 2. The state of nationality is relieved of this obligation if: (a) The
exercise of diplomatic protection would seriously endanger the overriding interests
of the State and/or its people; (b) Another State exercises diplomatic protection
on behalf of the injured person; (c) The injured person does not have the effective
and dominant nationality of the State. States are obliged to provide in their
municipal law for the enforcement of this right before a competent domestic court
or other independent national authority". Special Rapporteur John Dugard,
appointed in 1999, First Report on Diplomatic Protection, par. 74 (UN Doc.
A/CN.4/506 (March 7, 2000) and Corr. 1 (June 7, 2000) and Add. 1 (April 20,
2000).
However, the proposal was not accepted by the ILC, as "the question was still not ripe for
treatment" because "the State practice and their opinio juris still had not evolved in such
direction". Official Records of the General Assembly: 55th session, Supplement No. 10,
Doc. A/55/10 (2000), Report of the ILC on the work of its 52nd session, p. 131. Instead, Draft
Article 19, entitled Recommended Practice, suggests that states should be encouraged to
exercise diplomatic protection especially when significant injury occurred to the national.
Drafted in soft language, the Article does not purport to create any binding obligations on the
state.
In addition, some States have incorporated in their municipal law a duty to exercise
diplomatic protection in favor of their nationals. (Dugard identifies this "obligation" to exist in
the Constitutions of Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China,
Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Guyana, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Lao Peoples Democratic
Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation,
Spain, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, Viet Nam and Yugoslavia,
albeit with different reaches. J. Dugard, First Report on diplomatic protection, supra note 13,
par. 80), but their enforceability is also, to say the least, questionable (in many cases there
are not even courts competent to review the decision). Moreover, their existence in no way
implies that international law imposes such an obligation, simply suggesting "that certain
States consider diplomatic protection for their nationals abroad to be desirable" (ILC First
Reading Draft Articles on Diplomatic Protection, supra note 60, Commentary to Draft Article
2, par (2)).
[63]
Even decisions of national courts support the thesis that general international law as it stands
does not mandate an enforceable legal duty of diplomatic protection.
The traditional view has been challenged in the UK in a case arising from the unlawful detention
by the US of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. In Abbasi v. Secretary of State for Foreign and
Commonwealth Affairs ([2002] EWCA Civ 1316, 19 September 2002), the applicant (a British
national) sought judicial review of the adequacy of the diplomatic actions of the British
government with the US government. The UK Court of Appeals came to the conclusion that
diplomatic protection did not as such give rise to an enforceable duty under English Law. It
found that on no view would it be appropriate to order the Secretary of State to make any
specific representations to the United States, even in the face of what appears to be a clear
breach of a fundamental human right, as it is obvious that this would have an impact on the
conduct of foreign policy.
Courts in the UK have also repeatedly held that the decisions taken by the executive in its
dealings with foreign states regarding the protection of British nationals abroad are non-
justiciable.
(1) R. v. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, ex parte Pirbhai (107
ILR 462 (1985):
"x x x in the context of a situation with serious implications for the conduct of
international relations, the courts should act with a high degree of circumspection
in the interests of all concerned. It can rarely, if ever, be for judges to intervene
where diplomats fear to tread." (p.479, per Sir John Donaldson MR)
(2) R. v. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, ex parte Ferhut
Butt (116 ILR 607 (1999):
"The general rule is well established that the courts should not interfere in the
conduct of foreign relations by the Executive, most particularly where such
interference is likely to have foreign policy repercussions (see R. v. Secretary of
State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, ex parte Everett [1989] 1 QB 811 at
820). This extends to decisions whether or not to seek to persuade a foreign
government of any international obligation (e.g. to respect human rights) which it
has assumed. What if any approach should be made to the Yemeni authorities in
regard to the conduct of the trial of these terrorist charges must be a matter for
delicate diplomacy and the considered and informed judgment of the FCO. In such
matters the courts have no supervisory role." (p. 615, per Lightman J).
"Whether and when to seek to interfere or to put pressure on in relation to the
legal process, if ever it is a sensible and a right thing to do, must be a matter for
the Executive and no one else, with their access to information and to local
knowledge. It is clearly not a matter for the courts. It is clearly a high policy
decision of a government in relation to its foreign relations and is not justiciable
by way of judicial review." (p.622, per Henry LJ).
(3) R. (Suresh and Manickavasagam) v. Secretary of State for the Home
Department [2001] EWHC Admin 1028 (unreported, 16 November 2001):
"... there is, in my judgment, no duty upon the Secretary of State to ensure that
other nations comply with their human rights obligations. There may be cases
where the United Kingdom Government has, for example by diplomatic means,
chosen to seek to persuade another State to take a certain course in its treatment
of British nationals; but there is no duty to do so." (paragraph 19, per Sir Richard
Tucker).
The South African Constitutional Court in Kaunda and others v. President of the Republic of South
Africa and others (Case CCCT23/04) recognized the constitutional basis of the right of
diplomatic protection as enshrined in the South African Constitution, but went on to hold that
the nature and extent of this obligation was an aspect of foreign policy within the discretion
of the executive.
[64]
BORCHARD, E., DIPLOMATIC PROTECTION OF CITIZENS ABROAD, 29 (1915).
[65]
The concept of rape as an international crime is relatively new. This is not to say that rape
has never been historically prohibited, particularly in war. But modern-day sensitivity to the
crime of rape did not emerge until after World War II. In the Nuremberg Charter, the word
rape was not mentioned. The article on crimes against humanity explicitly set forth prohibited
acts, but rape was not mentioned by name. (For example, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce
between Prussia and theUnited States provides that in time of war all women and children
shall not be molested in their persons. The Treaty of Amity and Commerce, Between his
Majesty the King of Prussia and the United States of America, art. 23, Sept. 10, 1785, U.S.-
Pruss., 8 TREATIES & OTHER INT'L AGREEMENTS OF THE U.S. 78, 85. The 1863 Lieber
Instructions classified rape as a crime of troop discipline. (Mitchell, The Prohibition of Rape in
International Humanitarian Law as a Norm of Jus cogens: Clarifying the Doctrine, 15 DUKE J.
COMP. INTL. L. 219, 224). It specified rape as a capital crime punishable by the death penalty
(Id. at 236). The 1907 Hague Convention protected women by requiring the protection of
their honour. (Family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as
religious convictions and practice, must be respected. Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws
& Customs of War on Land, art. 46, Oct. 18, 1907. General Assembly resolution 95 (I) of
December 11, 1946 entitled, Affirmation of the Principles of International Law recognized by
the Charter of the Nrnberg Tribunal; General Assembly document A/64/Add.1 of
1946; See Agreement for the Prosecution and Punishment of the Major War Criminals of the
European Axis, Aug. 8, 1945, 59 Stat. 1544, 82 U.N.T.S. 279. Article 6(c) of the Charter
established crimes against humanity as the following:
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement,
deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population,
before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds
in execution of or in connection with any crime within the Jurisdiction of the
Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where
perpetrated.
The Nuremberg Judgment did not make any reference to rape and rape was not
prosecuted. (Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, The International Criminal Tribunals Crime and
Punishment in the International Arena,7 ILSA J. INTL. COMP. L. 667, 676.) However,
International Military Tribunal for the Far East prosecuted rape crimes, even though its Statute
did not explicitly criminalize rape. The Far East Tribunal held General Iwane Matsui,
Commander Shunroku Hata and Foreign Minister Hirota criminally responsible for a series of
crimes, including rape, committed by persons under their authority. (THE TOKYO JUDGMENT:
JUDGMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL FOR THE FAR EAST445-54
(1977).
The first mention of rape as a specific crime came in December 1945 when Control
Council Law No. 10 included the term rape in the definition of crimes against humanity. Law
No. 10, adopted by the four occupying powers in Germany, was devised to establish a uniform
basis for prosecuting war criminals in German courts. (Control Council for Germany, Law No.
10: Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes, Crimes Against Peace and Against Humanity,
Dec. 20, 1945, 3 Official Gazette Control Council for Germany 50, 53 (1946))
The 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War was the first
modern-day international instrument to establish protections against rape for women. Geneva
Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Aug. 12, 1949, art.
27, 6 U.S.T. 3316, 75 U.N.T.S. 287 (entry into force Oct. 20, 1950) [hereinafter Fourth Geneva
Convention].Furthermore, the ICC, the ICTY, and the International Criminal Tribunal for
Rwanda (ICTR) have significantly advanced the crime of rape by enabling it to be prosecuted
as genocide, a war crime, and a crime against humanity.
Rape is clearly emerging as a core crime within humanitarian law. (APPLEMAN, MILITARY
TRIBUNALS AND INTERNATIONAL CRIMES 299 (1954); MERON, HUMAN RIGHTS AND
HUMANITARIAN NORMS AS CUSTOMARY LAW 47 (1989). A major step in this legal
development came in 1949, when rape and sexual assault were included in the Geneva
Conventions. Rape is included in the following acts committed against persons protected by
the 1949 Geneva Conventions: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological
experiments; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health. Rape as a
violation of the laws or customs of war generally consists of violations of Article 3 of the 1949
Geneva Conventions, which, in part, prohibits violence to life and person, in particular
mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; outrages upon personal dignity, in particular
humiliating and degrading treatment. (See Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the
Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, art. 3(1)(c), 75 U.N.T.S. 31;
Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked
Members of Armed Forces at Sea, art. 3(1)(c), 75 U.N.T.S. 85; Geneva Convention Relative
to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, art. 3(1)(c), 75 U.N.T.S. 973; Fourth Geneva
Convention, supra note 23, art. 3(1)(c).
Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, directed at protecting civilians during time of war,
states that women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in
particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault.
Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions continues to expand the protected rights by providing
that women shall be the object of special respect and shall be protected in particular against
rape, forced prostitution and any form of indecent assault. (Protocol Additional to the Geneva
Conventions of August 12, 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International
Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), Article 76(1), 1125 U.N.T.S. 4).
[66]
For instance, the International Criminal Court was established to deal with the most serious
crimes of concern to the international community, with jurisdiction over genocide, crimes
against humanity, and war crimes, as defined in the Rome Statute. The ICC Prosecutor can
investigate allegations of crimes not only upon referral from the Security Council and state
parties, but also on information from victims, non-governmental organizations or any other
reliable source (Article 15). See also the Statute of the International Tribunal for the
Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law
Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, U.N. Doc. S/25704 at 36,
annex (1993) and S/25704/Add.1 (1993), adopted by Security Council on 25 May 1993, U.N.
Doc. S/RES/827 (1993).
[67]
Scharf, The Letter of the Law: The Scope of the International Legal Obligation To Prosecute
Human Rights Crimes, 59(4) LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 41, 59 (1996). Dugard, Dealing with
Crimes of a Past Regime: Is Amnesty Still an Option?, 12 LEIDEN J. INT'L L. 1001, 1003
(1999). Gavron, Amnesties in Light of Developments in International Law and the
Establishment of the International Criminal Court, 51 INT'L & COMP. L.Q. 91, 106 (2002).
[68]
O'SHEA, AMNESTY FOR CRIME IN INTERNATIONAL LAW AND PRACTICE 35 (2002).
[69]
Bruno Simmas much-quoted observation encapsulates this feeling of disappointment:Viewed
realistically, the world of obligations erga omnes is still the world of the ought rather than of
the isTHE CHARTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS: A COMMENTARY 125 (Simma, ed.
1995). See Tams, Enforcing Obligations Erga omnes in International Law (2005). In all cases
where this principle has been cited, even the ICJ has found a way to avoid giving force to the
claims based on the erga omnes character of the obligation, despite having recognized them
in principle. In the South West Africa Case, the ICJ declared that an action popularis was
incompatible with existing international law. In the Nicaragua case, it evaded the
consequences of a violation of erga omnes obligations by treating human rights conventions
as self-contained regimes. Nicaragua v. US, Merits, ICJ Reports 1986, 14 et seq. (134, par.
267): However, where human rights are protected by international conventions, that
protection takes the form of such arrangements for monitoring or ensuring respect for human
rights as are provided for in the conventions themselves. In the East Timor Case, it denied
jurisdiction on the ground that Indonesia was an indispensable third party to the proceedings
which had not accepted jurisdiction. (Portugal v. Australia, ICJ Reports 1995, 90 (102, par
29) Portugals assertion that the right of peoples to self-determination has an erga
omnescharacter, is irreproachable.
[70]
See Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties art. 53, opened for signature May 23, 1969,
1155 U.N.T.S. 331, 8 I.L.M. 679 [hereinafter VCLT].
[71]
Classical publicists such as Hugo Grotius, Emer de Vattel, and Christian Wolff drew upon the
Roman law distinction between jus dispositivum (voluntary law) and jus scriptum (obligatory
law) to differentiate consensual agreements between states from the necessary principles of
international law that bind all states as a point of conscience regardless of consent. (See
Hugonis Grotii, De Jure Belli et Pacis [On the Law of War and Peace] (William Whewell ed. &
trans., John W. Parker, London 2009) (1625); Emer de Vattel, Le Droit des Gens ou Principes
de la Loi Naturelle [The Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law] 9, 27 (1758)
(distinguishing le Droit des Gens Naturel, ou Ncessaire from le Droit Volontaire); Christian
Wolff, Jus Gentium Methodo Scientifica Pertractorum [A Scientific Method for Understanding
the Law of Nations] 5 (James Brown Scott ed., Joseph H. Drake trans., Clarendon Press 1934)
(1764)). Early twentieth-century publicists such as Lassa Oppenheim and William Hall
asserted that states could not abrogate certain universally recognized principles by mutual
agreement. (William Hall, A Treatise on International Law 382-83 (8th ed. 1924) (asserting
that fundamental principles of international law may invalidate [], or at least render voidable,
conflicting international agreements); 1 Lassa Oppenheim, International Law 528 (1905).)
Judges on the Permanent Court of International Justice affirmed the existence of peremptory
norms in international law by referencing treaties contra bonos mores (contrary to public
policy) in a series of individual concurring and dissenting opinions. (For example, in the 1934
Oscar Chinn Case, Judge Schcking's influential dissent stated that neither an international
court nor an arbitral tribunal should apply a treaty provision in contradiction to bonos mores.
Oscar Chinn Case, 1934 P.C.I.J. (ser. A/B) No. 63, at 149-50 (Dec. 12) (Schcking, J.,
dissenting).
[72]
Verdross argued that certain discrete rules of international custom had come to be recognized
as having a compulsory character notwithstanding contrary state agreements. At first,
Verdross's vision of international jus cogens encountered skepticism within the legal academy.
These voices of resistance soon found themselves in the minority, however, as the jus
cogens concept gained enhanced recognition and credibility following the Second World
War. (See Lauri Hannikainen, Peremptory Norms (Jus cogens) in International Law: Historical
Development, Criteria, Present Status 150 (1988) (surveying legal scholarship during the
period 1945-69 and reporting that about eighty per cent [of scholars] held the opinion that
there are peremptory norms existing in international law).
[73]
In March 1953, the ILC's Special Rapporteur, Sir Hersch Lauterpacht, submitted for the ILC's
consideration a partial draft convention on treaties which stated that [a] treaty, or any of its
provisions, is void if its performance involves an act which is illegal under international law
and if it is declared so to be by the International Court of Justice. Hersch Lauterpacht, Law of
Treaties: Report by Special Rapporteur, [1953] 2 Y.B. Int'l L. Comm'n 90, 93, U.N. Doc.
A/CN.4/63.
[74]
See Summary Records of the 877th Meeting, [1966] 1 Y.B. Int'l L. Comm'n 227, 230-231, U.N.
Doc. A/CN.4/188 (noting that the emergence of a rule of jus cogens banning aggressive war
as an international crime was evidence that international law contains minimum
requirement[s] for safeguarding the existence of the international community).
[75]
Second Report on the Law of Treaties, [1963] 2 Y.B. Int'l L. Comm'n 1, 52, U.N. Doc.
A/CN.4/156.
[76]
Id. at 53.
[77]
While the ICJ recently endorsed the jus cogens concept for the first time in its 2006 Judgment
on Preliminary Objections in Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Congo v.
Rwanda), it declined to clarify jus cogens's legal status or to specify any criteria for identifying
peremptory norms. (Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo, Jurisdiction of the Court
and Admissibility of the Application (Dem. Rep. Congo v. Rwanda) (Judgment of February 3,
2006), at 31-32, available at http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/126/10435.pdf.
In some municipal cases, courts have declined to recognize international norms as
peremptory while expressing doubt about the proper criteria for identifying jus cogens. (See,
e.g., Sampson v. Federal Republic of Germany, 250 F.3d 1145, 1149 (7th Cir.
2001) (expressing concern that jus cogens should be invoked [o]nly as a last resort)).
In other cases, national courts have accepted international norms as peremptory, but
have hesitated to enforce these norms for fear that they might thereby compromise state
sovereignty. (See, e.g., Bouzari v. Iran, [2004] 71 O.R.3d 675 (Can.) (holding that the
prohibition against torture does not entail a right to a civil remedy enforceable in a foreign
court)).
In Congo v. Rwanda, for example, Judge ad hoc John Dugard observed that the ICJ had
refrained from invoking the jus cogens concept in several previous cases where peremptory
norms manifestly clashed with other principles of general international law. (See Armed
Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Dem. Rep. Congo v. Rwanda) (Judgment of February
3, 2006), at 2 (Dissenting Opinion of Judge Dugard))
Similarly, the European Court of Human Rights has addressed jus cogens only once, in Al-
Adsani v. United Kingdom, when it famously rejected the argument that jus cogens violations
would deprive a state of sovereign immunity. Al-Adsani v. United Kingdom, 2001-XI Eur.
Ct. H.R. 79, 61).
[78]
SZTUCKI, JUS COGENS AND THE VIENNA CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF TREATIES 119-123
(1974).

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Baguio City

SECOND DIVISION

TRINIDAD GO, joined by her G.R. No. 182341


husband, GONZALO GO, SR.,
Petitioners,
- versus - Present:

VICENTE VELEZ CHAVES,* CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


Respondent, BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ALICE CHAVES, ABAD, and
Respondent-Intervenor, PEREZ, JJ.

MEGA-INTEGRATED AGRO Promulgated:


LIVESTOCK FARMS, INC.,
Respondent-Intervenor, April 23, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Equity regards substance rather than form, it abhors forfeiture.

On purely technical grounds, the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed petitioners appeal and denied
their plea for reconsideration. Hence, petitioners come to this Court via this Petition for Review
on Certiorari to assail the Resolutions dated October 10, 2007[1] and March 11, 2008[2] of the appellate
court in CA-G.R. CV No. 00257.

Factual Antecedents

On January 29, 1997, Vicente Chaves (Vicente) filed a Complaint[3] against spouses Trinidad Go
and Gonzalo Go (Go spouses, herein petitioners) before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cagayan de Oro
City for the removal of clouds on his transfer certificates of title. The case was docketed as Civil Case No.
97-065 and was raffled to Branch 38 (later re-raffled to Branch 24) of said court. Vicente alleged that in
April 1996 Paquito Francisco Yap and Evelyn Nellie Chaves-Yap (the Yap spouses), his son-in-law and
daughter respectively, obtained a loan in the amount of P23.2 million from Trinidad Go (Trinidad), using
his and his wifes real properties as collaterals. The Yap spouses were able to do this by presenting a forged
Special Power of Attorney (SPA)[4] purporting to authorize the Yap spouses to obtain a loan using Transfer
Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. T-60898 and T-60899 registered in the names of Vicente and his wife Alice
Chaves (Alice) as collaterals.[5]
Because some portions of said lots were disposed of, Vicente consolidated and subdivided the
remaining lots (which included the mortgaged properties to Trinidad), bringing about three derivative titles
still under the names of the Chaves spouses: TCT Nos. T-114415,[6] T-114416,[7] and T-114417.[8] The Go
spouses considered this move a machination in order to prevent them from annotating their right on the
collaterals. Hence, to protect their right, they got hold of the derivative titles and caused the annotation
of the SPA and their mortgage rights on each certificates of title.[9]

Vicente prayed that the SPA and mortgage to petitioners be invalidated, and that the Go spouses
be directed to surrender the owners duplicate certificates of title over the subject properties.

Subsequently, the trial court allowed two parties to intervene in the case: a) Alice, who alleged
that her rights to the share of the conjugal partnership are being trampled upon and who, like her
husband, averred that she had never authorized the Yap spouses to mortgage the conjugal
properties[10] and; b) Mega Integrated Agro-Livestock Farms, Inc. (Mega), which claimed that it had
purchased from Vicente in December 1996 a portion of the property covered by TCT No. T-114415, and
that it could not effect the transfer of said title in its name because the Go spouses are in possession of
the owners copy of TCT No. T-114415.[11]

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court


After due hearing, the RTC rendered a Decision[12] dated March 19, 2004, the dispositive portion
of which stated:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. DECLARING, as between plaintiff, intervenor Alice C. Chaves and defendants,


the Special Power of Attorney (Exh. 1-Go and Exh. A) allegedly executed by plaintiff and
intervenor Alice C. Chaves as well as the second mortgage (Exh. 2-Go) as INEFFECTIVE,
INVALID, AND UNENFORCEABLE as against plaintiff and intervenor ALICE CHAVES as
they did not sign said special power of attorney and second mortgage. Consequently, the
adverse claim, notice of lis pendens and the annotation of the second mortgage on TCT
No. T-114415, TCT No. T-114416 and TCT No. T-114417 must be cancelled and or
removed they being clouds to said titles. For said purpose, the Register of Deeds of the
City of Cagayan de Oro is hereby ordered to cancel them;

2. DECLARING plaintiff and intervenor Alice C. Chaves as not bound by the effects
of the second mortgage they having not signed the Special Power of Attorney and said
second mortgage. What defendants should do is to demand the amount mentioned in
the second mortgage from Paquito S. Yap and Evelyn Nellie Chaves Yap;
3. ORDERING defendant TRINIDAD GO to surrender to MEGA INTERGRATED
AGRO-LIVESTOCK INDUSTRIAL FARMS, INC. the owners copy of TCT No. T-114415 and
to intervenor ALICE C. CHAVES the owners copy of TCT No. T-114416 and T-114417;

4. Ordering MEGA INTEGRATED AGRO-LIVESTOCK INDUSTRIAL FARMS, INC.


thru [sic] See Hong to pay intervenor Alice C. Chaves the balance of P15,074,000.00 as
her share in the conjugal partnership but only after the land sold consisting of Lot Nos. 1
and 2 covered by TCT No. 114414 and TCT No. 114415 shall have been cleared of
squatters by intervenor Alice Chaves.

5. DENYING the prayer for attorneys fees and moral damages there being no
proof shown that in annotating the second mortgage on TCT No. T-114415, TCT No. T-
114416, and TCT No. T-114417, all of the Registry of Deeds of Cagayan de Oro City,
defendants were motivated by evident bad faith;

6. DENYING defendants counterclaim for lack of merit it not being shown that in
filing the case, plaintiff was motivated by malice and evident bad faith.[13]

The Procedural Blunders that Prodded the CA to Dismiss


Petitioners Appeal

The Go spouses appealed to the CA Cagayan de Oro. They filed their brief and furnished Vicente
with a copy thereof before the June 12, 2007 deadline. However, all the other adverse parties moved
before the CA to have the appeal dismissed:

a) Mega argued in its Motion to Dismiss[14] that Go spouses failed to file their brief on time. It
appears that Go spouses failed to furnish Mega with a copy of their brief. Their counsel, Atty. Kathryn
Dela Serna, claimed inadvertence for the mistake.[15] Nonetheless, when Go spouses received Megas
Motion to Dismiss on June 14, 2007, they personally served Mega a copy of the brief that same day;[16]
b) Vicente (now substituted by his children in view of his death) on the other hand, complained
about the form of the appellants brief he received, pointing to want of the following requirements
under Rule 44 of the Rules of Court: 1) subject index, page references, and legal citations as required
under Section 13; and 2) certified true copy of the assailed RTC Decision as required in Section 13(f)
[should be (h)]. Petitioners counsel again professed inadvertence and good faith, reasoning that the
errors cannot be considered fatal, for the body/contents of the appellants brief have substantially
complied with the provisions of Rule 44. Nevertheless, she submitted the subject index/table of
contents of the brief;[17]

c) More than two months after the filing of the appellants brief, Alice still had not received a copy
of said brief. She thus joined Mega in asking the appellate court for the dismissal of Go spouses
appeal.[18] Upon learning that Alice was likewise not provided with the appellants brief, petitioners then
furnished her with a copy thereof on August 30, 2007.[19] In their Comment,[20] petitioners counsel,
Atty. Emmy Lou Lomboy (working for Atty. Dela Sernas law firm), justified the oversight by explaining
that she only inherited the case from the former counsel of record, and that she merely relied on the
list of parties indicated on the CA Resolutions/Notices[21] who must be furnished with copies of the
appellants brief. It appears, however, that Atty. Erlington Pimentel, is not included therein.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Acceding to all the appellees objections and opining that an utter and flagrant disregard of the
rules of procedure is inexcusable, the CA dismissed the appeal of the Go spouses on the following
grounds: First, that Go spouses failed to serve a copy of their appellants brief upon the intervenors on
time,[22] and, second, that their appellants brief does not contain a subject index and that no copy of the
assailed Decision was appended thereto, in violation of Section 44, Section 13 (a) and (h) in relation to
Rule 50, Section 1(f).[23]

It reasoned:

In the case at bench, appellants [Go spouses] even admitted that they failed to
serve a copy of their brief to Mega Farms as well as to Alice Chaves on the same day they
filed the brief with this Court.Belated compliance with this requirement does not
suffice. Proper procedure dictates that a copy of the pleading be first furnished the
opposing party so that proof of such service may be duly indicated on the original of the
pleading to be filed shortly afterward in court, such indication being either a handwritten
acknowledgment by the adverse party or the registry receipt of the copy mailed to the
adverse party.Service precedes filing; both within the time allowed by the Rules.

Second. It is a matter of fact that the appellants brief does not contain a subject
index nor does it have as an appendix the copy of the assailed decision. x x x

The first requirement of an appellants brief is a subject index. The index is


intended to facilitate the review of appeals by providing ready reference, functioning much
like a table of contents. This jurisdiction prescribes no limit on the length of appeal briefs
or appeal memoranda filed before appellate courts. The downside of this liberal rule is, of
course, the very real possibility that the reviewing tribunal will be swamped with
voluminous documents. This occurs even though the rules consistently urge the parties
to be brief or concise in the drafting of pleadings, briefs, and other papers to be filed in
court. Herein lies the reason and the need for a subject index. The subject index makes
readily available at ones fingertips the subject of the contents of the brief so that the need
to thumb through the brief page after page to locate a partys arguments, or a particular
citation, or whatever else needs to be found and considered, is obviated.
xxxx

Although appellants may have subsequently rectified those deficiencies, the


belated compliance, however, is not by itself sufficient to warrant suspension of the strict
requirements of the rules, absent any showing that the initial non-compliance was not in
any way attributable to negligence, or that there are highly justifying equitable reasons
for this Court to make an extraordinary disposition in the interest of justice.

It has long been recognized that strict compliance with the rules is indispensable
for the prevention of needless delays and for the orderly and expeditious dispatch of
judicial business. Utter disregard of the rules cannot just be rationalized by harking on the
policy of liberal construction. While courts should, in all cases, endeavor to do substantial
justice without undue subservience to technicalities, the mere invocation by the parties of
liberality and substantial justice does not automatically do away with the rules laid down
for the orderly administration of justice.[24]

Issue

Stated simply, the lone issue for our consideration is whether the appellate court erred in
dismissing the appeal.

Our Ruling

Facing up to all these objections and admitting the mistakes committed, the Gos beseech liberality in the
application of the rules. Even if clearly their counsel committed a number of palpable mistakes which, as
a general rule should bind the client, we shall grant the petition in the interest of justice.[25]

Our rules of procedure are designed to facilitate the orderly disposition of cases and permit the
prompt disposition of unmeritorious cases which clog the court dockets and do little more than waste the
courts time.[26] These technical and procedural rules, however, are intended to ensure, rather than
suppress, substantial justice.[27] A deviation from their rigid enforcement may thus be allowed, as
petitioners should be given the fullest opportunity to establish the merits of their case, rather than lose
their property on mere technicalities.[28] We held in Ong Lim Sing, Jr. v. FEB Leasing and Finance
Corporation[29] that:

Courts have the prerogative to relax procedural rules of even the most mandatory
character, mindful of the duty to reconcile both the need to speedily put an end to litigation
and the parties' right to due process. In numerous cases, this Court has allowed liberal
construction of the rules when to do so would serve the demands of substantial justice
and equity.
We agree that the CA had the discretion to dismiss petitioners appeal. The discretion, however,
must be a sound one, to be exercised in accordance with the tenets of justice and fair play, having in mind
the circumstances obtaining in each case.[30]

Here, we find that the failure to serve a copy of the appellants brief to two of the adverse parties
was a mere oversight, constituting excusable neglect.[31] A litigant's failure to furnish his opponent with a
copy of his appeal brief does not suffice to warrant dismissal of that appeal. In such an instance, all that
is needed is for the court to order the litigant to furnish his opponent with a copy of his brief.[32] Anent the
failure to append a copy of the assailed judgment, instead of dismissing the appeal on that basis, it is
more in keeping with equity to simply require the appellants to immediately submit a copy of the Decision
of the lower court rather than punish litigants for the reckless inattention of their lawyers.

The purpose of a subject index in an appellants/appellees brief obviates the court to thumb
through a possibly lengthy brief page after page to locate whatever else needs to be found and considered,
such as arguments and citations.[33] In the case at bar, notably, the appeal brief submitted to the CA
consists only of 17 pages which the appellate court may easily peruse to apprise it of what the case is all
about and of the relief sought. Thus, the belated submission of the subject index may be considered
excusable. Our discussion in Philippine Coconut Authority v. Corona International, Inc.[34] is apropos:

x x x the purpose of the brief is to present the court in coherent and concise form the
point and questions in controversy, and by fair argument on the facts and law of the case,
to assist the court in arriving at a just and proper conclusion. A haphazard and pellmell
presentation will not do for the brief should be so prepared as to minimize the labor of
the court in examination of the record upon which the appeal is heard and determined.
It is certainly, 'the vehicle of counsel to convey to the court the essential facts of his client's
case, a statement of the questions of law involved, the law he should have applied, and
the application he desires of it by the court'. There should be an honest compliance with
the requirements regarding contents of appellant's brief, and among which is that it should
contain "a subject index of the matter in the brief with a digest of the argument and page
references."

We do not disagree with the appellate court's above exposition. The requirements laid
down in Section 13, Rule 43 are intended to aid the appellate court in arriving at a just
and proper conclusion of the case. However, we are of the opinion that despite its
deficiencies petitioner's appellant's brief is sufficient in form and substance as to apprise
the appellate court of the essential facts and nature of the case as well as the issues raised
and the laws necessary for the disposition of the same.
This case involves voluminous records meriting a review on the merits by the CA. Otherwise, the
efforts of the petitioners to protect their collateral in their judicial battle will lead to naught once they lose
their remedy of an appeal just because of procedural niceties. Adherence to legal technicalities allows
individual error to be suffered in order that justice in the maximum may be preserved. Nonetheless, "we
should indeed welcome," as Judge Learned Hand once wrote, "any efforts that help disentangle us from
the archaisms that still impede our pursuit of truth".[35] Our ruling in Aguam v. Court of Appeals[36] also
bears recalling:

Every party litigant must be afforded the amplest opportunity for the proper and just
determination of his cause, free from the unacceptable plea of technicalities. Thus,
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.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated October 10, 2007 and March
11, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 00257 are SET ASIDE; petitioners appeal
is REINSTATED; and the instant case is REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE P. PEREZ
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

*
Substituted by Ronaldo Chaves, Lino Chaves, Carlos Chaves and Tessie C. Aldana, per Order
dated January 18, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 24,
records, p. 563.
[1]
Rollo, pp. 204-209, penned by Associate Justice Edgardo A. Camello and concurred in by
Associate Justices Jane Aurora C. Lantion and Elihu A. Ybaez.
[2]
Id. at 226-228.
[3]
Id. at 62-75.
[4]
Id. at 112.
[5]
Id. at 113-114. The mortgage to Trinidad Go is a 2nd mortgage by the Yaps over the subject
properties, the first one being with Metrobank, which was subsequently released. Vicente is
only assailing this mortgage with Trinidad Go.
[6]
Id. at 115-116.
[7]
Id. at 117-118.
[8]
Id. at 119-120.
[9]
Id. at 116, 118 and 120.
[10]
Id. at 296-298.
[11]
Id. at 100-105.
[12]
Id. at 129-143; penned by Presiding Judge Leonardo N. Demecillo.
[13]
Id. at 142-143.
[14]
Id. at 164-167.
[15]
Id. at 168-171.
[16]
Id. at 172.
[17]
Id. at 178-188.
[18]
CA rollo, pp. 112-113.
[19]
Id. at 118.
[20]
Id. at 114-117.
[21]
Id. at 119-122; dated February 28, 2006, June 20, 2006, March 7, 2007, and March 16, 2007.
[22]
Rule 44, Sec. 7. Appellants brief. It shall be the duty of the appellant to file with the court,
within forty-five (45) days from receipt of the notice of the clerk that all the evidence, oral
and documentary, are attached to the record, seven (7) copies of his legibly typewritten,
mimeographed or printed brief, with proof of service of two (2) copies thereof upon the
appellee.
[23]
Rule 44, Sec. 13. Contents of appellants brief. The appellants brief shall contain, in the order
herein indicated, the following:
(a) A subject index of the matter in the brief with a digest of the arguments and page
references, and a table of cases alphabetically arranged, textbooks and statutes cited with
references to the pages where they are cited;
xxxx
(h) In cases not brought up by record on appeal, the appellants brief shall contain, as an
appendix, a copy of the judgment or final order appealed from.
Rule 50, Sec. 1. Grounds for dismissal of appeal. An appeal may be dismissed by the Court of
Appeals, on its own motion or on that of the appellee, on the following grounds:
xxxx
(f) Absence of specific assignment of errors in the appellants brief, or of page references to
the record as required in section 13, paragraphs (a), (c), (d) and (f) of Rule 44;
[24]
CA rollo, pp. 206-208.
[25]
Friend v. Unionbank, G.R. No. 165767, November 29, 2005, 476 SCRA 453, 457-458.
[26]
Sps. Del Rosario v. Court of Appeals, 311 Phil. 630, 636 (1995).
[27]
Bigornia v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 173017, March 17, 2009.
[28]
Sangalang v. Barangay Maguihan, G.R. No. 159792, December 23, 2009; Acme Shoe, Rubber
& Plastic Corp. v. Court of Appeals, 329 Phi. 531, 538 (1996).
[29]
G.R. No. 168115, June 8, 2007, 524 SCRA 333, 343.
[30]
Aguam v. Court of Appeals, 388 Phil. 587, 593 (2000).
[31]
Sunrise Manning Agency, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 485 Phil. 426, 430-431
(2004); Carnation Philippines Employees Labor Union-FFW v. National Labor Relations
Commission, 210 Phil. 30, 31 (1983).
[32]
Perez v. Court of Appeals, 374 Phil. 388, 408 (1999), citing Precision Electronics Corporation
v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 86657, October 23, 1989, 178 SCRA 667,
670.
[33]
De Liano v. Court of Appeals, 421 Phil. 1033, 1042 (2001).
[34]
395 Phil. 742, 750 (2000). Citations omitted.
[35]
United States v. Allied Stevedoring Corp., 241 F.2d 925, 934 (2 Cir.), cert. denied, 353 U.S.
984, 77 S.Ct. 1282, 1 L.Ed.2d 1143 (1957).
[36]
388 Phil. 587, 594 (2000). See also American Express International, Inc. v. Intermediate
Appellate Court, G.R. No. L-70766, November 9, 1988, 167 SCRA 209, 221; Tan Boon Bee &
Co., Inc. v. Judge Jarencio, G.R. No. L-413337, June 30, 1988, 163 SCRA 205, 213; De las
Alas v. Court of Appeals, 172 Phil. 559, 575 (1978); Nerves v. Civil Service Commission, 342
Phil. 578, 585 (1997).

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Baguio City

SECOND DIVISION

ASSOCIATED ANGLO-AMERICAN G.R. No. 167237


TOBACCO CORPORATION and FLORANTE
DY,
Petitioners,
Present:

- versus - CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ABAD, and
HON. CRISPIN C. LARON, in his capacity as PEREZ, JJ.
PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT, REGION 1, BRANCH 44, DAGUPAN
CITY, SHERIFF VIRGILIO F. VILLAR,
OFFICE OF THE EX-OFFICIO SHERIFF OF
PASAY CITY, REGISTER OF DEEDS OF
LINGAYEN, PANGASINAN and SPOUSES
PAUL PELAEZ, JR. and ROCELI MAMISAY
PELAEZ,
Promulgated:

Respondents. April 23, 2010


x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

The appeal of a final order substantially amending only some matters in a previously rendered
Decision is also an appeal of the other intimately interwoven matters passed upon in the original decision.

In the present Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, petitioners assail the May 31,
2004 Decision[1] and the January 17, 2005[2] Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP. No.
75347. The CA dismissed the Petition for Certiorari filed before it assailing the Decision and several Orders
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dagupan City, Branch 44 in Civil Case No. D-8732.

Factual Antecedents

Spouses Paul Pelaez, Jr. (Paul) and Roceli Mamisay Pelaez (Roceli) were employees of petitioner
Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corporation (the Corporation). Paul worked as Sales Supervisor and
later as Senior Salesman while Roceli worked as secretary.

As salesman, Paul was required, on April 17, 1986, by the Corporation to post a bond to answer for any
amount which he might fail to turnover to the Corporation. He complied by executing a mortgage bond
over his family's house and lot in favor of the Corporation. The mortgaged real estate was covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 155994 of the Registry of Deeds of Pangasinan.

Upon its determination that Paul had defaulted in remitting the sales proceeds, the Corporation initiated
the extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgage bond.

To stop the extrajudicial sale, Paul and Roceli filed on August 21, 1987, a Complaint against the
Corporation, Dy and the Sheriff Virgilio S. Villar (Sheriff) before the RTC.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court


The RTC issued a restraining order and, subsequently, a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the
extrajudicial sale. Then, on September 14, 2000, after due hearing, Judge Crispin C. Laron, issued a
Decision in favor of the spouses Pelaez, the fallo of which reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants,
as follows:

1. The defendants Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corporation and Florante C. Dy


are ordered to jointly and severally pay plaintiffs the amount of P23,820.16 representing
the overage and the account of Plaintiff Paul Pelaez, Jr. and to release the mortgage on
the parcel of land covered by, and release to plaintiffs, Transfer Certificate of Title No.
155994;

2. The defendants Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corporation and Florante C. Dy


are ordered to pay the plaintiffs moral, exemplary damages, attorney's fees and litigation
expenses in the amount of P50,000.00;

3. The injunction is made permanent.

With costs against defendants.

SO ORDERED.[3]

Upon motion of the spouses Pelaez, the RTC amended its Decision in its February 7, 2001 Order, to wit:

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Partial Reconsideration is granted and the dispositive
portion of the Decision dated September 14, 2000 is hereby modified as follows:

The defendants Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corp. and Florante C. Dy are ordered
to jointly and severally pay plaintiffs the amount of P843,383.11 representing the overage
and the amount of award of moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees is
increased from P50,000.00 to P2,000,000.00.

Furnish copies of this Order to Atty. Efren Moncupa and Atty. Da Vinci Crisostomo.

SO ORDERED.[4]

On February 20, 2001, petitioners received their copy of the February 7, 2001 Order and on March 6,
2001, they filed a Notice of Appeal of the September 14, 2000 Decision and the February 7, 2001 Order
of the RTC. The spouses Pelaez, on the other hand, filed a Motion to Dismiss the Appeal and Motion for
Partial Execution dated August 22, 2001.
Ruling on the motion, the RTC in its May 9, 2002 Order, found that the petitioners Notice of Appeal was
filed timely "only insofar as the Order of the Court dated February 7, 2001 is concerned." Hence, it
disposed as follows:

WHEREFORE, the appeal insofar as to all matters not raised in the plaintiffs' Motion for
Partial Reconsideration is DISMISSED.

Let a writ of execution issue for the release of the mortgage on the parcel of land covered
by, and release to plaintiffs Transfer Certificate of Title No. 155994 and that the injunction
is made permanent.

Furnish copies of this Order to Atty. Rafael Declaro, Jr., Atty. Da Vinci Crisostomo and Mr.
Sancho Esquillo.

SO ORDERED.[5]

On June 7, 2002, a Writ of Execution in favor of the spouses Pelaez was issued and on December 12,
2002, the RTC issued two Orders, one denying petitioners motion for reconsideration of the May 9, 2002
Order; and the other mandating the release of the mortgage under TCT No. 155994 and causing the
issuance of a new title in the name of spouses Pelaez free from any liens or encumbrances.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Petitioners then filed a Petition for Certiorari with the CA. The CA found that the September 14, 2000
Decision of the RTC had become final and executory. It found no cogent reason to disturb the RTC's
Decision and its subsequent amendment as embodied in the February 7, 2001 Order. The dispositive
portion of the CA Decision states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.[6]

After the denial by the CA of their motion for reconsideration, petitioners filed the present Petition
for Certiorari and Prohibition.

Issues

Petitioners raise the following issues:


Whether or not the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion
tantamount to lack of jurisdiction in holding the trial court's decision to be final and
executory notwithstanding that said decision had been modified, superseded and
substituted by a subsequent order upon which petitioner had duly perfected an appeal?

Whether or not the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in holding that
the petition for certiorari is not the right judicial remedy but ordinary appeal
notwithstanding the latter course of action had already been availed of to no avail?

Whether or not the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion when
in dismissing the petition for certiorari it validated in effect the trial court's order to release
the mortgage and declaring the injunction permanent notwithstanding the loss of
jurisdiction due to the perfection of an appeal?[7]

Petitioners' Arguments

Petitioners contend that their petition for certiorari is the proper remedy and that it was filed on time within
60 days from their receipt of the CA's assailed Resolution.

They contend that the CA gravely abused its discretion when it regarded the September 14, 2000 Decision
of the trial court as final and executory even if said Decision was already modified, superseded, vacated
and substituted by the subsequent February 7, 2001 Order.

They also contend that it is grossly erroneous for the CA to conclude that the Petition for Certiorari and
Prohibition is not the right judicial remedy but ordinary appeal, when the latter action had already been
taken and perfected by petitioners but the trial court simply refused to elevate the records to the CA.

Respondents' Arguments

Respondents on the other hand contend that petitioners failed to demonstrate patent and gross abuse of
discretion on the part of the CA and since all they say is that the CA erred in dismissing their petition, the
CA Resolution can only be assailed by means of a petition for review, not an original petition
for certiorari. They also contend that the availability of the remedy of filing a petition for review foreclosed
the filing of this original petition for certiorari and justifies its dismissal.
Respondents also submit that the February 7, 2001 RTC Order granting the spouses Pelaez' Partial Motion
for Reconsideration by increasing the monetary awards only, did not amend the RTC Decision but merely
supplemented it. Thus, they contend that the finality of the Decision was therefore not affected.

Our Ruling

The petition has merit.

Mode of Appeal

Petitioners are questioning a final decision of the CA by resorting to Rule 65, when their remedy should
be based on Rule 45. This case would normally have been dismissed outright for failure of the petitioners
to adopt the proper remedy. While ordinarily, certiorari is unavailing where the appeal period has lapsed,
there are exceptions. Among them are (a) when public welfare and the advancement of public policy
dictates; (b) when the broader interest of justice so requires; (c) when the writs issued are null and void;
or (d) when the questioned order amounts to an oppressive exercise of judicial authority.[8] In the present
case, the CA's act of dismissing petitioners' petition for certiorari and in finding the RTC's Decision already
final and executory in its entirety, despite the filing by the petitioners of a Notice of Appeal within 15 days
from their receipt of the February 7, 2001 RTC Order amending the said RTC Decision is an oppressive
exercise of judicial authority. Hence, in the interest of substantial justice, we deem it wise to overlook the
procedural technicalities.

Trial Court's Decision and Its Modification

Both parties agree that the February 7, 2001 Order increased the monetary awards in the Decision,
specifically, the amount of overage from P23,820.16 to P843,383.11 and the award of moral and
exemplary damages and attorney's fees from P50,000.00 to P2,000,000.00. They however, differ on
whether these changes constituted an amendment of the Decision or merely provided a supplement to
the Decision. Petitioners argue that the change constituted a substantial amendment, which therefore
makes the entire case reviewable on appeal, while respondents argue that the Order merely supplements
the Decision which therefore makes only the changes reviewable on appeal. They both cite Esquivel v.
Alegre[9] which states:

There is a difference between an amended judgment and a supplemental judgment. In


an amended and clarified judgment, the lower court makes a thorough study of the
original judgment and renders the amended and clarified judgment only after considering
all the factual and legal issues. The amended and clarified decision is an entirely new
decision which supersedes the original decision. Following the court's differentiation of a
supplemental pleading from an amending pleading, it can be said that a supplemental
decision does not take the place or extinguish the existence of the original. As its very
name denotes, it only serves to bolster or adds something to the primary decision. A
supplement exists side by side with the original. It does not replace that which it
supplements.

In the present case, the dispositive portion of the February 7, 2001 Order was crafted in such a way that
it initially evades a categorical classification into either of the situations as described in the above-cited
case.

Hence, we further take into consideration that what plaintiffs filed was merely a Partial Motion for
Reconsideration. It is clear they were seeking a partial change in the original Decision. It follows that there
were some parts of the Decision that they sought to remain unchanged. The RTC, thus made a study of
only a portion of its original Decision and then amended the pertinent portion. The RTC Decision was
indeed, only partially amended. The February 7, 2001 Order cannot be considered as a supplemental
Decision because it cannot exist side by side with the original pertinent portion on overage, damages and
attorney's fees. The former replaced and superceded the latter.

Now what is the effect of this partial amendment? Is the subject RTC Decision divisible, such that a portion
may be considered already final and unappealable while another portion may be considered as not
yet final and unappealable? To answer this question we draw some light from some provisions of the
Rules of Court that permit divisions, to wit:
Rule 37, Sec. 7. Partial new trial or reconsideration.- If the grounds for a motion
under this Rule appear to the court to affect the issues as to only a part, or less than all
of the matter in controversy, or only one, or less than all, of the parties to it, the court
may order a new trial or grant reconsideration as to such issues if severable without
interfering with the judgment or final order upon the rest. (Italics and emphasis supplied)

Rule 36, Sec. 5. Separate judgments.-When more than one claim for relief is
presented in an action, the court, at any stage, upon a determination of the issues
material to a particular claim and all counterclaims arising out of the
transaction or occurrence which is the subject matter of the claim, may render
a separate judgment disposing of such claim. The judgment shall terminate the action
with respect to the claim so disposed of and the action shall proceed as to the remaining
claims.

It can be seen that when matters, issues or claims can properly and conveniently be separately resolved,
then division is permitted, otherwise it is not. We see no hindrance in applying this thesis to the current
situation.
In the present case, the matter of the release of the mortgaged property is material and
intertwined with the issue of the amount of overage as well as the issue on the amount of damages.[10] It
is difficult to separate these matters because a determination of the correct amount of overage would
require the examination and computation of the entire account of deliveries and payments. Necessarily,
upon re-examination of the subject account during an appeal, the possibility of finding a shortage instead
of an overage is present. And dependent on the result of the re-examination of the entire account is the
determination of the correctness of either the foreclosure or release of the mortgaged property. It follows
that the ruling on the amount of damages and attorney's fees, if any, may also be affected by a re-
examination of the entire account.

As the disposition of some inter-related issues in the original RTC Decision were materially amended by
the February 7, 2001 RTC Order, these two issuances must be taken in conjunction with each
other. Together, these two issuances form one integrated amended decision.[11] Hence, an appeal from
the February 7, 2001 RTC Order must be deemed to be an appeal from the whole integrated amended
Decision.

Appeal and Partial Execution

Petitioners received their copy of the February 7, 2001 Order on February 20, 2001. They timely filed a
notice of appeal on March 6, 2001, or after 14 days. The appeal was duly perfected.

When an appeal had been duly perfected, execution of the judgment, whether wholly or partially,[12] was
not a matter of right, but of discretion provided good reasons therefor existed. The compelling grounds
for the issuance of the writ must be stated in a special order after due hearing. Aside from the existence
of good reasons, the rules also require that the motion for partial execution should have been filed while
the trial court still had jurisdiction over the case.[13]

In the present case, the RTC's May 9, 2002 Order granting the issuance of the writ of execution
failed to state good reasons for the issuance of the writ. The RTC mistakenly deemed that the execution
should issue as a matter of right because it had held that part of its September 14, 2001 Decision had
become final and executory. As previously discussed, the said proposition is erroneous because the
Decision in the present case is not properly severable.

Furthermore, the motion for partial execution was filed only on August 22, 2001, more than four
months after the appeal was perfected. In appeals by notice of appeal, the court loses jurisdiction over
the case upon the perfection of the appeals filed in due time and the expiration of the time to appeal of
the other parties."[14] Each party only has at most 15 days from their receipt of the final order to appeal
it. Thus, when respondents filed their motion for partial execution the RTC no longer had jurisdiction over
the case and it no longer had jurisdiction to act on the said motion for partial execution.

Aside from the fact that the appeal was filed on time and should thus not have been dismissed in the
assailed May 9, 2002 Order, the said Order, which also resolved the motion for partial execution, fell short
of the requirements of Section 2, Rule 39, as previously discussed. Where the order of execution is not in
conformity with the rules, the same is null and void.[15]Therefore, the CA erred in not nullifying the May 9,
2002 Order.
Finally, we address the December 12, 2002 RTC Orders. These Orders proceeded from, and
implemented, the May 9, 2002 Order that was null and void. These Orders were also issued more than a
year after the RTC had already lost jurisdiction over the case. Clearly, like the May 9, 2002 Order,
the December 12, 2002 Orders were also null and void. Thus the CA should have also nullified these
Orders instead of dismissing the petition for certiorari questioning these Orders before it.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed May 31, 2004 Decision and January 17,
2005 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP. No. 75347
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The May 9, 2002 and both December 12, 2002 Orders of the Regional
Trial Court in Civil Case No. D-8732
are DECLARED NULL and VOID. The Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 44
is ORDERED to TRANSMIT forthwith the records of Civil Case No. D-8732 to the Court of Appeals for
the appeal.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
CA rollo, pp. 334-340; penned by Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and concurred in by
Presiding Justice Cancio C. Garcia and Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin.
[2]
Id. at 376; penned by Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and concurred in by Associate
Justices Rodrigo V. Cosico and Lucas P. Bersamin
[3]
Rollo, pp. 136-137.
[4]
Id. at 147.
[5]
CA rollo, pp. 241-242.
[6]
Rollo, p. 229.
[7]
Id. at 295-296.
[8]
Martillano v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 148277, June 29, 2004, 433 SCRA 195, 201; Sps. Go
v. Tong, 462 Phil. 256, 266 (2003); Uy Chua v. Court of Appeals, 398 Phil. 17, 30 (2000).
[9]
254 Phil. 316, 325-326 (1989).
[10]
Cf. De Leon v. Court of Appeals, 432 Phil 775, 786-787 (2002); Bangkok Bank Public Company
Limited v. Lee, G.R. No. 159806, January 20, 2006, 479 SCRA 267, 273.
[11]
Cf. De Leon v. Court of Appeals, id.
[12]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 39, Section 2(b).
[13]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 39, Section 2 provides:
Sec. 2. Discretionary execution. (a) Execution of a judgment or a final order pending appeal.- On
motion of the prevailing party with notice to the adverse party filed in the trial court while it
has jurisdiction over the case and is in possession of either the original record or the record
on appeal, as the case may be, at the time of the filing of such motion, said court may, in its
discretion, order execution of a judgment or final order even before the expiration of the
period to appeal.
After the trial court has lost jurisdiction, the motion for execution pending appeal may be filed in
the appellate court.
Discretionary execution may only issue upon good reasons to be stated in a special order after
due hearing.
(b) Execution of several, separate or partial judgments. - A several, separate or partial judgment
may be executed under the same terms and conditions as execution of a judgment or final
order pending appeal.
[14]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 41, Section 9: [P]rior to the transmittal of the original record or the
record on appeal, the court may issue orders for the protection and preservation of the rights
of the parties which do not involve any matter litigated by the appeal, approve compromises,
permit appeals of indigent litigants, order execution pending appeal in accordance with section
2 of Rule 39, and allow withdrawal of the appeal.
[15]
Bangkok Bank Public Company Limited v. Lee, supra note 10 at 274.

Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Baguio City

SECOND DIVISION
ATTY. PEDRO M. FERRER, G.R. No. 165300

Petitioner,

Present:

- versus -

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,

BRION,

SPOUSES ALFREDO DIAZ ABAD,

and IMELDA DIAZ, DEL CASTILLO, and

REINA COMANDANTE and PEREZ, JJ.

SPOUSES BIENVENIDO

PANGAN and ELIZABETH

PANGAN, Promulgated:

Respondents. April 23, 2010

x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

The basic questions to be resolved in this case are: Is a waiver of hereditary rights in favor of
another executed by a future heir while the parents are still living valid? Is an adverse claim annotated on
the title of a property on the basis of such waiver likewise valid and effective as to bind the subsequent
owners and hold them liable to the claimant?

This Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assails the December
12, 2003 Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 70888.[3]Said Decision modified
the June 14, 2001 Summary Judgment[4] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City in Civil Case
No. Q-99-38876 by holding respondents Spouses Bienvenido and Elizabeth Pangan (the Pangans) not
solidarily liable with the other respondents, Spouses Alfredo and Imelda Diaz (the Diazes) and Reina
Comandante (Comandante), to petitioner Atty. Pedro M. Ferrer (Atty. Ferrer). Likewise assailed is the CA
Resolution[5] dated September 10, 2004 which denied petitioners as well as respondents Spouses Diaz
and Comandantes respective motions for reconsideration.

The parties respective versions of the factual antecedents are as follows:

Version of the Petitioner

Petitioner Atty. Ferrer claimed in his original Complaint[6] that on May 7, 1999, the Diazes, as
represented by their daughter Comandante, through a Special Power of Attorney (SPA),[7] obtained from
him a loan of P1,118,228.00. The loan was secured by a Real Estate Mortgage Contract[8] by way of
second mortgage over Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. RT-6604[9] and a Promissory Note[10] payable
within six months or up to November 7, 1999. Comandante also issued to petitioner postdated checks to
secure payment of said loan.

Petitioner further claimed that prior to this or on May 29, 1998, Comandante, for a valuable
consideration of P600,000.00, which amount formed part of the abovementioned secured loan, executed
in his favor an instrument entitled Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interests Over a Real Property (Still
Undivided),[11] the pertinent portions of which read:
I, REINA D. COMANDANTE, of legal age, Filipino, married, with residence and
postal address at No. 6, Road 20, Project 8, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, for a
valuable consideration of SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P600,000.00) which
constitutes my legal obligation/loan to Pedro M. Ferrer, likewise of legal age, Filipino,
married to Erlinda B. Ferrer, with residence and postal address at No. 9, Lot 4, Puerto Rico
Street, Loyola Grand Villas, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, by virtue of these
presents, do hereby WAIVE, and/or REPUDIATE all my hereditary rights and interests as
a legitimate heir/daughter of Sps. Alfredo T. Diaz and Imelda G. Diaz in favor of said Pedro
M. Ferrer, his heirs and assigns over a certain parcel of land together with all the
improvements found thereon and which property is more particularly described as follows:

TRANSFER CERTIFICATE OF TITLE


NO. RT-6604 (82020) PR-18887

xxxx

and which property is titled and registered in the name of my parents Alfredo T. Diaz and
Imelda G. Diaz, as evidenced by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT 6604 (82020) PR-
18887.
(sgd.)
REINA D. COMANDANTE
Affiant

On the basis of said waiver, petitioner executed an Affidavit of Adverse Claim[12] which he caused
to be annotated at the back of TCT No. RT-6604 on May 26, 1999.

The Diazes, however, reneged on their obligation as the checks issued by Comandante were
dishonored upon presentment. Despite repeated demands, said respondents still failed and refused to
settle the loan. Thus, petitioner filed on September 29, 1999 a Complaint[13] for Collection of Sum of
Money Secured by Real Estate Mortgage Contract against the Diazes and Comandante docketed as Civil
Case No. Q-99-38876 and raffled to Branch 224 of RTC, Quezon City.

Petitioner twice amended his complaint. First, by including as an alternative relief the Judicial
Foreclosure of Mortgage[14] and, second, by impleading as additional defendants the Pangans as the
mortgaged property covered by TCT No. RT-6604 was already transferred under their names in TCT No.
N-209049. Petitioner prayed in his second amended complaint that all the respondents be ordered to
jointly and solidarily pay him the sum of P1,118,228.00, exclusive of interests, and/or for the judicial
foreclosure of the property pursuant to the Real Estate Mortgage Contract.

Version of the Respondents

In her Answer[15] to petitioners original complaint, Comandante alleged that petitioner and his wife
were her fellow members in the Couples for Christ Movement. Sometime in 1998, she sought the help of
petitioner with regard to the mortgage with a bank of her parents lot located at No. 6, Rd. 20, Project
8, Quezon City and covered by TCT No. RT-6604. She also sought financial accommodations from the
couple on several occasions which totaled P500,000.00. Comandante, however, claimed that these loans
were secured by chattel mortgages over her taxi units in addition to several postdated checks she issued
in favor of petitioner.

As she could not practically comply with her obligation, petitioner and his wife, presented to
Comandante sometime in May 1998 a document denominated as Waiver of Hereditary Rights and
Interests Over a Real Property (Still Undivided) pertaining to a waiver of her hereditary share over her
parents abovementioned property. Purportedly, the execution of said waiver was to secure Comandantes
loan with the couple which at that time had already ballooned to P600,000.00 due to interests.

A year later, the couple again required Comandante to sign the following documents: (1) a Real
Estate Mortgage Contract over her parents property; and, (2) an undated Promissory Note, both
corresponding to the amount of P1,118,228.00, which petitioner claimed to be the total amount of
Comandantes monetary obligation to him exclusive of charges and interests. Comandante alleged that
she reminded petitioner that she was not the registered owner of the subject property and that although
her parents granted her SPA, same only pertains to her authority to mortgage the property to banks and
other financial institutions and not to individuals. Petitioner nonetheless assured Comandante that the SPA
was also applicable to their transaction. As Comandante was still hesitant, petitioner and his wife
threatened to foreclose the formers taxi units and present the postdated checks she issued to the bank
for payment. For fear of losing her taxi units which were the only source of her livelihood, Comandante
was thus constrained to sign the mortgage agreement as well as the promissory note. Petitioner, however,
did not furnish her with copies of said documents on the pretext that they still have to be notarized, but,
as can be gleaned from the records, the documents were never notarized. Moreover, Comandante claimed
that the SPA alluded to by petitioner in his complaint was not the same SPA under which she thought she
derived the authority to execute the mortgage contract.

Comandante likewise alleged that on September 29, 1999 at 10:00 o clock in the morning, she
executed an Affidavit of Repudiation/Revocation of Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interests Over A (Still
Undivided) Real Property,[16] which she caused to be annotated on the title of the subject property with
the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City on the same day. Interestingly, petitioner filed his complaint later
that day too.

By way of special and affirmative defenses, Comandante asserted in her Answer to the amended
complaint[17] that said complaint states no cause of action against her because the Real Estate Mortgage
Contract and the waiver referred to by petitioner in his complaint were not duly, knowingly and validly
executed by her; that the Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interests Over a Real Property (Still Undivided)
is a useless document as its execution is prohibited by Article 1347 of the Civil Code,[18] hence, it cannot
be the source of any right or obligation in petitioners favor; that the Real Estate Mortgage was of doubtful
validity as she executed the same without valid authority from her parents; and, that the prayer for
collection and/or judicial foreclosure was irregular as petitioner cannot seek said remedies at the same
time.

Apart from executing the affidavit of repudiation, Comandante also filed on October 4, 1999 a
Petition for Cancellation of Adverse Claim (P.E. 2468) Under The Memorandum of Encumbrances of TCT
No. RT-6604 (82020) PR-18887[19] docketed as LRC Case No. Q-12009 (99) and raffled to Branch 220 of
RTC, Quezon City. Petitioner who was impleaded as respondent therein moved for the consolidation of
said case[20] with Civil Case No. Q-99-38876. On June 24, 2000, Branch 220 of RTC, Quezon City ordered
the consolidation of LRC Case No. Q-12009 (99) with Civil Case No. Q-99-38876. Accordingly, the records
of the former case was forwarded to Branch 224.
For their part, the Diazes asserted that petitioner has no cause of action against them. They
claimed that they do not even know petitioner and that they did not execute any SPA in favor of
Comandante authorizing her to mortgage for the second time the subject property. They also contested
the due execution of the SPA as it was neither authenticated before the Philippine Consulate in the United
States nor notarized before a notary public in the State of New York where the Diazes have been residing
for 16 years. They claimed that they do not owe petitioner anything. The Diazes also pointed out that the
complaint merely refers to Comandantes personal obligation to petitioner with which they had nothing to
do. They thus prayed that the complaint against them be dismissed.[21]

At the Pangans end, they alleged that they acquired the subject property by purchase in good
faith and for a consideration of P3,000,000.00 on November 11, 1999 from the Diazes through the latters
daughter Comandante who was clothed with SPA acknowledged before the Consul of New York. The
Pangans immediately took actual possession of the property without anyone complaining or
protesting. Soon thereafter, they were issued TCT No. N-209049 in lieu of TCT No. RT-6604 which was
cancelled. [22]

However, on December 21, 1999, they were surprised upon being informed by petitioner that the
subject land had been mortgaged to him by the Diazes. Upon inquiry from Comandante, the latter readily
admitted that she has a personal loan with petitioner for which the mortgage of the property in petitioners
favor was executed. She admitted, though, that her parents were not aware of such mortgage and that
they did not authorize her to enter into such contract. Comandante also informed the Pangans that the
signatures of her parents appearing on the SPA are fictitious and that it was petitioner who prepared such
document.

As affirmative defense, the Pangans asserted that the annotation of petitioners adverse claim on
TCT No. RT-6604 cannot impair their rights as new owners of the subject property. They claimed that the
Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interests Over a Real Property (Still Undivided) upon which petitioners
adverse claim is anchored cannot be the source of any right or interest over the property considering that
it is null and void under paragraph 2 of Article 1347 of the Civil Code.

Moreover, the Pangans asserted that the Real Estate Mortgage Contract cannot bind them nor in
any way impair their ownership of subject property because it was not registered before the Register of
Deeds.[23]

All the respondents interposed their respective counterclaims and prayed for moral and exemplary
damages and attorneys fees in varying amounts.

After the parties have submitted their respective pre-trial briefs, the Diazes filed on March 29,
2001 a Motion for Summary Judgment[24] alleging that: first, since the documents alluded to by petitioner
in his complaint were defective, he was not entitled to any legal right or relief; and, second, it was clear
from the pleadings that it is Comandante who has an outstanding obligation with petitioner which the
latter never denied. With these, the Diazes believed that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
against them and, hence, they were entitled to summary judgment.

On May 7, 2001, petitioner also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment,[25] claiming that his suit
against the respondents is meritorious and well-founded and that same is documented and supported by
law and jurisprudence. He averred that his adverse claim annotated at the back of TCT No. RT-6604,
which was carried over in TCT No. 209049 under the names of the Pangans, is not merely anchored on
the Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interests Over a Real Property (Still Undivided) executed by
Comandante, but also on the Real Estate Mortgage likewise executed by her in representation of her
parents and in favor of petitioner. Petitioner insisted that said adverse claim is not frivolous and invalid
and is registrable under Section 70 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1529. In fact, the Registrar of Deeds
of Quezon City had already determined the sufficiency and/or validity of such registration by annotating
said claim, and this, respondents failed to question. Petitioner further averred that even before the sale
and transfer to the Pangans of the subject property, the latter were already aware of the existence of his
adverse claim. In view of these, petitioner prayed that his Motion for Summary Judgment be granted.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

After the filing of the parties respective Oppositions to the said motions for summary judgment,
the trial court, in an Order dated May 31, 2001,[26] deemed both motions for summary judgment submitted
for resolution. Quoting substantially petitioners allegations in his Motion for Summary Judgment, it
thereafter rendered on June 14, 2001 a Summary Judgment[27] in favor of petitioner, the dispositive
portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, summary judgment is hereby rendered in


favor of plaintiff and against defendants by:

a) ORDERING all defendants jointly and solidarily to pay plaintiff the sum
of ONE MILLION ONE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED TWENTY
EIGHT PESOS (P1,118,228.00) which is blood money of plaintiff;

b) ORDERING the Honorable Registrar of Deeds of Quezon City that the


rights and interest of the plaintiff over subject property be annotated at the back of T.C.T.
No. N-209049;

c) SENTENCING all defendants to pay plaintiffs expenses of TEN


THOUSAND PESOS (P10,000.00) and to pay the costs of suit.

IT IS SO ORDERED.[28]
The Pangans, the Diazes, and Comandante appealed to the CA.[29] The Pangans faulted the trial court in
holding them jointly and severally liable with the Diazes and Comandante for the satisfaction of the latters
personal obligation to petitioner in the total amount of P1,118,228.00. The Diazes and Comandante, on
the other hand, imputed error upon the trial court in rendering summary judgment in favor of
petitioner. They averred that assuming the summary judgment was proper, the trial court should not have
considered the Real Estate Mortgage Contract and the Promissory Note as they were defective, as well as
petitioners frivolous and non-registrable adverse claim.

In its Decision[30] dated December 12, 2003, the CA declared Comandantes waiver of hereditary rights null
and void. However, it found the Real Estate Mortgage executed by Comandante on behalf of her parents
as binding between the parties thereto.

As regards the Pangans, the CA ruled that the mortgage contract was not binding upon them as they
were purchasers in good faith and for value. The property was free from the mortgage encumbrance of
petitioner when they acquired it as they only came to know of the adverse claim through petitioners phone
call which came right after the formers acquisition of the property.The CA further ruled that as
Comandantes waiver of hereditary rights and interests upon which petitioners adverse claim was based is
a nullity, it could not be a source of any right in his favor.Hence, the Pangans were not bound to take
notice of such claim and are thus not liable to petitioner.

Noticeably, the appellate court did not rule on the propriety of the issuance of the Summary Judgment as
raised by the Diazes and Comandante. In the ultimate, the CA merely modified the assailed Summary
Judgment of the trial court by excluding the Pangans among those solidarily liable to petitioner, in effect
affirming in all other respects the assailed summary judgment, viz:

WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 224 in Civil Case No. Q-99-38876 is hereby MODIFIED, as follows:

1. Ordering defendants-appellants Comandante and Spouses Diaz to jointly and severally


pay plaintiff the sum of Php 1,118, 228.00; and

2. Ordering defendants-appellants Comandante and Spouses Diaz to jointly and severally


pay plaintiff the amount of Php10,000.00 plus cost of suit.

SO ORDERED.[31]

Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration[32] having been denied by the CA in its


Resolution[33] dated September 10, 2004, he now comes to us through this petition for review
on certiorari insisting that the Pangans should, together with the other respondents, be held solidarily
liable to him for the amount of P1,118,228.00.

Our Ruling

The petition lacks merit.

Petitioner merely reiterates his contentions in the Motion for Summary Judgment he filed before
the trial court. He insists that his Adverse Claim annotated at the back of TCT No. RT-6604 is not merely
anchored on Comandantes Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interests Over A Real Property (Still
Undivided) but also on her being the attorney-in-fact of the Diazes when she executed the mortgage
contract in favor of petitioner. He avers that his adverse claim is not frivolous or invalid and is registrable
as the Registrar of Deeds of Quezon City even allowed its annotation. He also claims that even prior to
the sale of subject property to the Pangans, the latter already knew of his valid and existing adverse claim
thereon and are, therefore, not purchasers in good faith. Thus, petitioner maintains that the Pangans
should be held, together with the Diazes and Comandante, jointly and severally liable to him in the total
amount of P1,118,228.00.

Petitioners contentions are untenable.


The Affidavit of Adverse Claim executed by petitioner reads in part:

xxxx

1. That I am the Recipient/Benefactor of compulsory heirs share over


an undivided certain parcel of land together with all the improvements found
therein x x x as evidenced by Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interests Over
A Real Property, executed by REINA D. COMANDANTE (a
compulsory/legitimate heir of Sps. Alfredo T. Diaz and Imelda G. Diaz), x x x.

2. That in order to protect my interest over said property as a


Recipient/Benefactor, for the registered owners/parents might dispose (of) and/or
encumber the same in a fraudulent manner without my knowledge and consent, for the
owners duplicate title was not surrendered to me, it is petitioned that this Affidavit of
Adverse Claim be ANNOTATED at the back of the said title particularly on the original copy
of Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-6604 (82020) PR-18887 which is on file with the
Register of Deeds of Quezon City.

3. That I am executing this Affidavit in order to attest (to) the truth of the
foregoing facts and to petition the Honorable Registrar of Deeds, Quezon City, to annotate
this Affidavit of Adverse Claim at the back of the said title particularly the original copy of
Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-6604 (82020) PR-18887 which is on file with the said
office, so that my interest as Recipient/Benefactor of the said property will be
protected especially the registered owner/parents, in a fraudulent manner might dispose
(of) and/or encumber the same without my knowledge and consent. (Emphasis ours)

Clearly, petitioners Affidavit of Adverse Claim was based solely on the waiver of hereditary interest
executed by Comandante. This fact cannot be any clearer especially so when the inscription of his adverse
claim at the back of TCT No. RT-6604 reads as follows:

P.E. 2468/T-(82020)RT-6604 - - AFFIDAVIT OF ADVERSE CLAIM - - Executed


under oath by PEDRO M. FERRER, married to Erlinda B. Ferrer, claiming among others
that they have a claim, the interest over said property as
Recipient/Benefactor, by virtue of a waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interest
over a real property x x x[34] (Emphasis ours)

Therefore, there is no basis for petitioners assertion that the adverse claim was also anchored on the
mortgage contract allegedly executed by Comandante on behalf of her parents.

The questions next to be resolved are: Is Comandantes waiver of hereditary rights valid? Is
petitioners adverse claim based on such waiver likewise valid and effective?

We note at the outset that the validity of petitioners adverse claim should have been determined
by the trial court after the petition for cancellation of petitioners adverse claim filed by Comandante was
consolidated with Civil Case No. Q-99-38876.[35] This is in consonance with Section 70 of PD 1529 which
provides:

Section 70. Adverse Claim. Whoever claims any part or interest in registered land
adverse to the registered owner, arising subsequent to the date of the original registration,
may, if no other provision is made in this Decree for registering the same, make a
statement in writing setting forth fully his alleged right or interest, and how or under
whom acquired, a reference to the number of the certificate of title of the registered
owner, the name of the registered owner, and a description of the land in which the right
or interest is claimed.

The statement shall be signed and sworn to, and shall state the adverse claimants
residence, and a place at which all notices may be served upon him. This statement shall
be entitled to registration as an adverse claim on the certificate of title. The adverse claim
shall be effective for a period of thirty days from the date of registration. After the lapse
of said period, the annotation of adverse claim may be cancelled upon filing of
a verified petition therefor by the party in interest: Provided, however, That after
cancellation, no second adverse claim based on the same ground shall be registered by
the same claimant.

Before the lapse of thirty days aforesaid, any party in interest may file a
petition in the Court of First Instance where the land is situated for the
cancellation of the adverse claim, and the court shall grant a speedy hearing
upon the question of validity of such adverse claim, and shall render judgment
as may be just and equitable. If the adverse claim is adjudged to be invalid,
the registration thereof shall be ordered cancelled. If, in any case, the court, after
notice and hearing, shall find that the adverse claim thus registered was frivolous, it may
fine the claimant in an amount not less than one thousand pesos nor more than five
thousand pesos, in its discretion. Before the lapse of thirty days, the claimant may
withdraw his adverse claim by filing with the Register of Deeds a sworn petition to that
effect. (Emphasis ours)

Pursuant to the third paragraph of the afore-quoted provision, it has been held that the validity or
efficaciousness of an adverse claim may only be determined by the Court upon petition by an interested
party, in which event, the Court shall order the immediate hearing thereof and make the proper
adjudication as justice and equity may warrant. And, it is only when such claim is found unmeritorious
that the registration of the adverse claim may be cancelled.[36]

As correctly pointed out by respondents, the records is bereft of any showing that the trial court
conducted any hearing on the matter. Instead, what the trial court did was to include this material issue
among those for which it has rendered its summary judgment as shown by the following portion of the
judgment:

x x x it will be NOTED that subject Adverse Claim annotated at the back of Transfer
Certificate of Title No. RT-6604 (82020) PR-18887, and carried over to defendants-Sps.
Pangans Title No. N-20909, is not merely anchored on defendant Reina Comandantes
Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interest Over a Real Property but also on her being the
Attorney-In-Fact of the previous registered owners/parents/defendants Sps. Alfredo and
Imelda Diaz about the Real Estate Mortgage Contract for a loan of P1,118,228.00 which
is a blood money of the plaintiff. Moreover, subject Adverse Claim in LRC Case No.
Q-12009 (99) is NOT frivolous and invalid and consequently, REGISTRABLE
by virtue of Section 110 of the Land Registration Act (now Section 70 of
Presidential Decree No. 1529). [37](Emphasis ours)

It does not escape our attention that the trial court merely echoed the claim of petitioner that his adverse
claim subject of LRC Case No. Q-12009 (99) is not frivolous, invalid and is consequently registrable. We
likewise lament the apparent lack of effort on the part of said court to make even a short ratiocination as
to how it came up with said conclusion. In fact, what followed the above-quoted portion of the summary
judgment are mere recitals of the arguments raised by petitioner in his motion for summary
judgment. And in the dispositive portion, the trial court merely casually ordered that petitioners adverse
claim be inscribed at the back of the title of the Pangans. What is worse is that despite this glaring defect,
the CA manifestly overlooked the matter even if respondents vigorously raised the same before it.
Be that as it may, respondents efforts of pointing out this flaw, which we find significant, have not
gone to naught as will be hereinafter discussed.

All the respondents contend that the Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interest Over a Real Property (Still
Undivided) executed by Comandante is null and void for being violative of Article 1347 of the Civil Code,
hence, petitioners adverse claim which was based upon such waiver is likewise void and cannot confer
upon the latter any right or interest over the property.

We agree with the respondents.

Pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 1347 of the Civil Code, no contract may be entered into upon
a future inheritance except in cases expressly authorized by law. For the inheritance to be considered
future, the succession must not have been opened at the time of the contract. A contract may be classified
as a contract upon future inheritance, prohibited under the second paragraph of Article 1347, where the
following requisites concur:

(1) That the succession has not yet been opened.

(2) That the object of the contract forms part of the inheritance; and,

(3) That the promissor has, with respect to the object, an expectancy of a right
which is purely hereditary in nature.[38]

In this case, there is no question that at the time of execution of Comandantes Waiver of
Hereditary Rights and Interest Over a Real Property (Still Undivided), succession to either of her parents
properties has not yet been opened since both of them are still living. With respect to the other two
requisites, both are likewise present considering that the property subject matter of Comandantes waiver
concededly forms part of the properties that she expect to inherit from her parents upon their death and,
such expectancy of a right, as shown by the facts, is undoubtedly purely hereditary in nature.
From the foregoing, it is clear that Comandante and petitioner entered into a contract involving
the formers future inheritance as embodied in the Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interest Over a Real
Property (Still Undivided) executed by her in petitioners favor.

In Taedo v. Court of Appeals,[39] we invalidated the contract of sale between Lazaro Taedo and
therein private respondents since the subject matter thereof was a one hectare of whatever share the
former shall have over Lot 191 of the cadastral survey of Gerona, Province of Tarlac and covered by Title
T-13829 of the Register of Deeds of Tarlac. It constitutes a part of Taedos future inheritance from his
parents, which cannot be the source of any right nor the creator of any obligation between the parties.
Guided by the above discussions, we similarly declare in this case that the Waiver of Hereditary
Rights and Interest Over a Real Property (Still Undivided) executed by Comandante in favor of petitioner
as not valid and that same cannot be the source of any right or create any obligation between them for
being violative of the second paragraph of Article 1347 of the Civil Code.

Anent the validity and effectivity of petitioners adverse claim, it is provided in Section 70 of PD
1529, that it is necessary that the claimant has a right or interest in the registered land adverse to the
registered owner and that it must arise subsequent to registration. Here, as no right or interest on the
subject property flows from Comandantes invalid waiver of hereditary rights upon petitioner, the latter is
thus not entitled to the registration of his adverse claim. Therefore, petitioners adverse claim is without
any basis and must consequently be adjudged invalid and ineffective and perforce be cancelled.

Albeit we have already resolved the issues raised by petitioner, we shall not stop here as the Diazes and
Comandante in their Comment[40] call our attention to the failure of the CA to pass upon the issue of the
propriety of the issuance by the trial court of the Summary Judgment in favor of petitioner despite the
fact that they have raised this issue before the appellate court. They argue that summary judgment is
proper only when there is clearly no genuine issue as to any material fact in the action. Thus, where the
defendant presented defenses tendering factual issue which call for presentation of evidence, as when he
specifically denies the material allegations in the complaint, summary judgment cannot be rendered.

The Diazes and Comandante then enumerate the genuine issues in the case which they claim
should have precluded the trial court from issuing a summary judgment in petitioners favor.First, the
execution of the SPA in favor of Comandante referred to by petitioner in his complaint was never admitted
by the Diazes. They assert that as such fact is disputed, trial should have been conducted to determine
the truth of the matter, same being a genuine issue. Despite this, the trial court merely took the word of
the plaintiff and assumed that said document was indeed executed by them. Second, although
Comandante acknowledges that she has a personal obligation with petitioner, she nevertheless, did not
admit that it was in the amount of P1,118,228.00.Instead, she claims only the amount of P500,000.00
or P600,000.00 (if inclusive of interest) as her obligation. Moreover, the Diazes deny borrowing any money
from petitioner and neither did the Pangans owe him a single centavo. Thus, the true amount of the
obligation due the petitioner and how each of the respondents are responsible for such amount are
genuine issues which need formal presentation of evidence. Lastly, they aver that the trial court ignored
factual and material issues such as the lack of probative value of Comandantes waiver of hereditary rights
as well as of the SPA; the fact that Comandante signed the mortgage contract and promissory note in her
personal capacity; and, that all such documents were prepared by petitioner who acted as a lawyer and
the creditor of Comandante at the same time.

Rule 35 of the Rules of Court provides for summary judgment, the pertinent provisions of which
are the following:
Section 1. Summary Judgment for claimant. A party seeking to recover upon a
claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim or to obtain a declaratory relief may, at any time after
the pleading in answer thereto has been served, move with supporting affidavits,
depositions or admissions for a summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part
thereof.

Section 2. Summary Judgment for the defending party. A party against whom a
claim, counterclaim or cross-claim is asserted or a declaratory relief is sought may, at any
time, move with supporting affidavits, depositions or admissions for a summary judgment
in his favor as to all or any part thereof.

Section 3. Motion and proceedings thereon. The motion shall be served at least ten (10)
days before the time specified for the hearing. The adverse party may serve opposing
affidavits, depositions, or admissions at least three (3) days before the hearing. After the
hearing, the judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, supporting
affidavits, depositions and admissions on file, show that, except as to the amount of
damages, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.

As can be deduced from the above provisions, summary judgment is a procedural devise resorted
to in order to avoid long drawn out litigations and useless delays. When the pleadings on file show that
there are no genuine issues of facts to be tried, the Rules of Court allows a party to obtain immediate
relief by way of summary judgment. That is, when the facts are not in dispute, the court is allowed to
decide the case summarily by applying the law to the material facts. Conversely, where the pleadings
tender a genuine issue, summary judgment is not proper. A genuine issue is such fact which requires the
presentation of evidence as distinguished from a sham, fictitious, contrived or false claim.[41]

Here, we find the existence of genuine issues which removes the case from the coverage of
summary judgment. The variance in the allegations of the parties in their pleadings is evident.

Petitioner anchors his complaint for sum of money and/or judicial foreclosure on the alleged real
estate mortgage over the subject property allegedly entered into by Comandante in behalf of her parents
to secure payment of a loan amounting to P1,118,228.00. To support this claim, petitioner attached to his
complaint (1) the SPA alleged to have been executed by the Diazes; (2) the Real Estate Mortgage Contract
pertaining to the amount of P1,118,228.00; and, (3) a Promissory Note.

Comandante, in her Answer to petitioners Amended Complaint, assailed the validity and due
execution of the abovementioned documents. She asserted that the same were not duly, knowingly and
validly executed by her and that it was petitioner who prepared all of them. Also, although she admitted
owing petitioner, same was not an absolute admission as she limited herself to an obligation amounting
only to P600,000.00 inclusive of charges and interests. She likewise claimed that such obligation is her
personal obligation and not of her parents.

The Diazes, for their part, also denied that they executed the SPA authorizing their daughter to
mortgage their property to petitioner as well as having any obligation to the latter.

Clearly, there are genuine issues in this case which require the presentation of evidence. For one,
it is necessary to ascertain in a full blown trial the validity and due execution of the SPA, the Real Estate
Mortgage and the Promissory Notes because the determination of the following equally significant
questions depends on them, to wit: (1) Are the Diazes obligated to petitioner or is the obligation a purely
personal obligation of Comandante? and, (2) Is the sum of P1,118,228.00 as shown in the Real Estate
Mortgage and the Promissory Note, the amount which is really due the petitioner?

To stress, trial courts have limited authority to render summary judgments and may do so only when
there is clearly no genuine issue as to any material fact. When the facts as pleaded by the parties are
disputed or contested, proceedings for summary judgment cannot take the place of trial.[42] From the
foregoing, it is apparent that the trial court should have refrained from issuing the summary judgment but
instead proceeded to conduct a full blown trial of the case. In view of this, the present case should be
remanded to the trial court for further proceedings and proper disposition according to the rudiments of
a regular trial on the merits and not through an abbreviated termination of the case by summary
judgment.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated December
12, 2003 insofar as it excluded the respondents Spouses Bienvenido Pangan and Elizabeth Pangan from
among those solidarily liable to petitioner Atty. Pedro M. Ferrer, is AFFIRMED. The inscription of the
adverse claim of petitioner Atty. Pedro M. Ferrer on T.C.T. No. N-209049 is hereby
ordered CANCELLED. Insofar as its other aspects are concerned, the assailed Decision is SET ASIDE
and VACATED. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 224 for
further proceedings in accordance with this Decision.
SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division
CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
Rollo, pp. 13-14.
[2]
CA rollo, pp. 140-149; penned by Associate Justice Arsenio J. Magpale and concurred in by
Associate Justices Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. and Bienvenido L. Reyes.
[3]
Entitled Atty. Pedro M. Ferrer, plaintiff-appellee, vs. Spouses Alfredo Diaz and Imelda Diaz,
Reina Commandante and Spouses Bienvenido Pangan and Elizabeth Pangan.
[4]
Records, pp. 287-291; penned by Judge Emilio L. Leachon, Jr.
[5]
CA rollo, p. 91.
[6]
Records, pp. 3-6.
[7]
Id. at 7.
[8]
Id. at 14-17.
[9]
Id. at 92-95.
[10]
Id. at 18.
[11]
Id. at 19-20.
[12]
Id. at 21.
[13]
Id. at 3-6.
[14]
Id. at 48-51 and 69-72.
[15]
Id. at 29-33.
[16]
Id. at 38.
[17]
Id. at 208-219.
[18]
ART. 1347. All things which are not outside the commerce of men, including future things,
may be the object of a contract. All rights which are not intransmissible may also be the object
of contracts.
No contract may be entered into upon future inheritance except in cases expressly authorized by
law.
All services which are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy
may likewise be the object of a contract.
[19]
Records, p. 1.
[20]
Id. at 93.
[21]
See Answer with Compulsory Counter-Claim of the Diazes, id. at 231-237.
[22]
See Answer with Compulsory Counter-Claim of the Pangans, id. at 172-183.
[23]
Id.
[24]
Id. at 246-257.
[25]
Id. at 262-268.
[26]
Id. at 286.
[27]
Id. at 287-291.
[28]
Id. at 290-291.
[29]
Id. at 295 and 301.
[30]
CA rollo, pp. 140-149.
[31]
Id. at 148.
[32]
Id. 166-170.
[33]
Id. at 191.
[34]
Dorsal side of p. 13 of the Records.
[35]
Records, p. 66.

[36]
Sajonas v. Court of Apeals, 327 Phil. 689, 712 (1996).
[37]
Records, p. 290.
[38]
J.L.T. Agro Inc. v. Balansag, 493 Phil. 365, 378-379 (2005).
[39]
322 Phil 84 (1996).
[40]
Rollo, pp. 192-210.
[41]
D.M. Consunji, Inc. v. Duvas Corporation, G.R. No. 155174, August 4, 2009.
[42]
Id.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Baguio City

SECOND DIVISION

DANNIE M. PANTOJA, G.R. No. 163554


Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus - DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
PEREZ, and
MENDOZA,* JJ.
SCA HYGIENE PRODUCTS
CORPORATION, Promulgated:
Respondent. April 23, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Once again, we uphold the employers exercise of its management prerogative because it was done for
the advancement of its interest and not for the purpose of defeating the lawful rights of an employee.

This petition for review on certiorari[1] assails the Decision[2] dated January 30, 2004 and
Resolution[3] dated May 13, 2004 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 73076, which affirmed
the May 30, 2002 Decision[4] of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and reinstated the Labor
Arbiters dismissal of the illegal dismissal complaint filed by petitioner Dannie M. Pantoja against respondent
SCA Hygiene Products Corporation.
Factual Antecedents

Respondent, a corporation engaged in the manufacture, sale and distribution of industrial paper and tissue
products, employed petitioner as a utility man on March 15, 1987. Petitioner was eventually assigned at
respondents Paper Mill No. 4, the section which manufactures the companys industrial paper products, as
a back tender in charge of the proper operation of the sections machineries.

In a Notice of Transfer dated March 27, 1999,[5] respondent informed petitioner of its reorganization plan
and offered him a position at Paper Mill No. 5 under the same terms and conditions of employment in
anticipation of the eventual closure and permanent shutdown of Paper Mill No. 4 effective May 5,
1999. The closure and concomitant reorganization is in line with respondents decision to streamline and
phase out the companys industrial paper manufacturing operations due to financial difficulties brought
about by the low volume of sales and orders for industrial paper products.

However, petitioner rejected respondents offer for his transfer. Thus, a notice of termination[6] of
employment effective May 5, 1999 was sent to petitioner as his position was declared redundant by the
closure of Paper Mill No. 4. He then received his separation pay equivalent to two months pay for every
year of service in the amount of P356,335.20 and thereafter executed a release and quitclaim[7] in favor
of respondent. On April 5, 1999, respondent informed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
of its reorganization and partial closure by submitting with the said office an Establishment Termination
Report[8] together with the list[9] of 31 terminated employees.

On June 20, 2000, petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against respondent assailing his
termination as without any valid cause. He averred that the alleged redundancy never occurred as there
was no permanent shutdown of Paper Mill No. 4 due to its continuous operation since his termination. A
co-employee, Nestor Agtang, confirmed this fact and further attested that several contractual workers
were employed to operate Paper Mill No. 4.[10] Petitioner also presented in evidence documents pertaining
to the actual and continuous operation of Paper Mill No. 4 such as the Paper Mill Personnel Schedule
for July 2-8, 2000[11] and 23-29, 2000[12] and Paper Machine No. 4 Production Report and Operating Data
dated April 28, 2000[13]and May 18, 2000.[14]

In its defense, respondent refuted petitioners claim of illegal dismissal. It argued that petitioner has
voluntarily separated himself from service by opting to avail of the separation benefits of the company
instead of accepting reassignment/transfer to another position of equal rank and pay. According to
respondent, petitioners discussion on the alleged resumption of operation of Paper Mill No. 4 is rendered
moot by the fact of petitioners voluntary separation.

Ruling of the Labor Arbiter

On March 23, 2001, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision[15]


dismissing petitioners complaint for lack of merit. The Labor Arbiter ruled that inasmuch as petitioner
rejected the position offered to him, opted to receive separation pay and executed a release and quitclaim
releasing the company from any claim or demand in connection with his employment, petitioners claim
that he was illegally dismissed must perforce fail.

Ruling of the National Labor Relations Commission

Upon appeal by petitioner, the NLRC reversed the Labor Arbiters Decision by finding petitioners separation
from employment illegal. The NLRC gave credence to petitioners evidence of Paper Mill No. 4s continuous
operation and consequently opined that the feigned shutdown of operations renders respondents
redundancy program legally infirm. According to the NLRC, petitioners refusal to be transferred to an equal
post in Paper Mill No. 5 is of no consequence since he would not have had the need to make a choice
where the situation, in the first place, never called for it. The NLRC further disregarded the validity of the
quitclaim because its execution cannot be considered as having been done voluntarily by petitioner there
being fraud and misrepresentation on the part of respondent. The dispositive portion of the NLRC Decision
reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision under review is hereby REVERSED and
SET ASIDE, and another entered, declaring complainants dismissal from employment as
ILLEGAL.
Accordingly, respondent is ordered to REINSTATE the complainant to his former position
without loss of seniority rights and pay him FULL BACKWAGES in the amount
corresponding to the period when he was actually dismissed until actual reinstatement,
less the sum of THREE HUNDRED FIFTY SIX THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE
& 20/100 Pesos (P356,335.20) representing his separation pay.

Respondent is further ordered to pay the complainant, by way of attorneys fees, ten
percent (10%) of the total net amount due as backwages.

SO ORDERED.[16]

Respondent sought reconsideration of the NLRCs ruling. It denied the fact that Paper Mill No. 4 continued
to be fully operational in 1999. Respondent asseverated that when Paper Mill No. 4 was shut down in
1999 due to its low production output as certified in an affidavit[17] executed by SCAs VP-Tissue
Manufacturing Director, there was a necessity to occasionally run from time to time the machines in Paper
Mill No. 4 only for the purpose of maintaining and preserving the same and does not mean that Paper Mill
No. 4 continued to be operational. It was only in 2000 that Paper Mill No. 4 was subsequently reopened
due to a more favorable business climate, which decision is recognized as a rightful exercise of
management prerogative. Moreover, respondent maintained that this is a case of voluntary separation
and not illegal dismissal.

In a Resolution[18] dated August 22, 2002, respondents motion was denied.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Aggrieved, respondent filed a petition for certiorari with the CA. On January 30, 2004, the CA reversed
the NLRCs Decision and reinstated the Labor Arbiters Decision dismissing the compliant. It ruled that there
was no illegal dismissal as the act of petitioner in rejecting the transfer and accepting the separation pay
constitutes a valid basis for the separation from employment. Respondents Motion to Annul the NLRCs
Entry of Judgment was granted by the CA.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied.


Issue

The lone issue in this petition for review on certiorari is whether or not respondent is guilty of illegal
dismissal.
Petitioner contends that respondents streamlining of operations which resulted in the reduction of
personnel was a mere scheme to get rid of regular employees whose security of tenure is protected by
law. As there was evident bad faith in the implementation of a flawed retrenchment program, petitioner
argued that his separation from employment due to his decision to accept separation pay is illegal since
respondent has no valid basis to give him an option either to be transferred or be separated. Further,
neither can the quitclaim he executed stamp legality to his precipitate separation.

Our Ruling

The petition lacks merit.

Respondents right of management prerogative was exercised in


good faith.

Respondent presented evidence of the low volume of sales and orders for the production of industrial
paper in 1999 which inevitably resulted to the companys decision to streamline its operations. This fact
was corroborated by respondents VP-Tissue Manufacturing Director and was not disputed by petitioner.
Exercising its management prerogative and sound business judgment, respondent decided to cut down
on operational costs by shutting down one of its paper mill. As held in International Harvester Macleod,
Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court,[19]the determination of the need to phase out a particular department
and consequent reduction of personnel and reorganization as a labor and cost saving device is a
recognized management prerogative which the courts will not generally interfere with.

In this case, the abolishment of Paper Mill No. 4 was undoubtedly a business judgment arrived at
in the face of the low demand for the production of industrial paper at the time. Despite an apparent
reason to implement a retrenchment program as a cost-cutting measure, respondent, however, did not
outrightly dismiss the workers affected by the closure of Paper Mill No. 4 but gave them an option to be
transferred to posts of equal rank and pay. As can be seen, retrenchment was utilized by respondent only
as an available option in case the affected employee would not want to be transferred. Respondent did
not proceed directly to retrench. This, to our mind, is an indication of good faith on respondents part as it
exhausted other possible measures other than retrenchment. Besides, the employers prerogative to bring
down labor costs by retrenching must be exercised essentially as a measure of last resort, after less drastic
means have been tried and found wanting. Giving the workers an option to be transferred without any
diminution in rank and pay specifically belie petitioners allegation that the alleged streamlining scheme
was implemented as a ploy to ease out employees, thus, the absence of bad faith. Apparently, respondent
implemented its streamlining or reorganization plan with good faith, not in an arbitrary manner and
without prejudicing the tenurial rights of its employees.
Petitioner harps on the fact that there was no actual shutdown of Paper Mill No. 4 but that it
continued to be operational. No evidence, however, was presented to prove that there was continuous
operation after the shutdown in the year 1999. What the records reveal is that Paper Mill No. 4 resumed
its operation in 2000 due to a more favorable business climate. The resumption of its industrial paper
manufacturing operations does not, however, make respondents streamlining/reorganization plan illegal
because, again, the abolishment of Paper Mill No. 4 in 1999 was a business judgment arrived at to prevent
a possible financial drain at that time. As long as no arbitrary or malicious action on the part of an employer
is shown, the wisdom of a business judgment to implement a cost saving device is beyond this courts
determination. After all, the free will of management to conduct its own business affairs to achieve its
purpose cannot be denied.[20]
Petitioners voluntary separation from employment renders his
claim of illegal dismissal unfounded and baseless.

Petitioner claims that he had no choice but to resign on the belief that Paper Mill No. 4 will be
permanently closed as misrepresented by respondent and thus can invalidate the release and quitclaim
executed by him.

We find this contention untenable.

We held that work reassignment of an employee as a genuine business necessity is a valid


management prerogative.[21] After being given an option to be transferred, petitioner rejected the offer
for reassignment to Paper Mill No. 5 even though such transfer would not involve any diminution of rank
and pay. Instead, he opted and preferred to be separated by executing a release and quitclaim in
consideration of which he received separation pay in the amount of P356,335.20 equal to two months
pay for every year of service plus other accrued benefits. Clearly, petitioner freely and voluntarily
consented to the execution of the release and quitclaim. Having done so apart from the fact that the
consideration for the quitclaim is credible and reasonable, the waiver represents a valid and binding
undertaking.[22] As aptly concluded by the CA, the quitclaim was not executed under force or duress and
that petitioner was given a separation pay more than what the law requires from respondent.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed January 30, 2004 Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 73076 dismissing petitioner Dannie M. Pantojas complaint for illegal
dismissal and the May 13, 2004 Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ROBERTO A. ABAD JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

*
In lieu of Justice Arturo D. Brion, per raffle dated April 19, 2010.
[1]
Rollo, pp.10-23.
[2]
Id. at 73-79; penned by Associate Justice Eloy R. Bello, Jr. and concurred in by Associate
Justices Amelita G. Tolentino and Arturo D. Brion.
[3]
Id. at 91.
[4]
Id. at 63-69; penned by Presiding Commissioner Raul T. Aquino and concurred in by
Commissioners Victoriano R. Calaycay and Angelita A. Gacutan.
[5]
Annex 1, CA rollo, p. 72.
[6]
Annex 2, id. at 73; Annex A of petitioners position paper, id. at 88.
[7]
Annex 6, id. at 77.
[8]
Annex 4, id. at 75.
[9]
Annex 5, id. at 76.
[10]
Agtangs Affidavit, Annex B, id. at 89-90.
[11]
Annex C, id. at 91.
[12]
Annex D, id. at 92.
[13]
Annex E, id. at 93.
[14]
Annex F, id. at 94.
[15]
Rollo, pp. 46-51.
[16]
Id. at 68-69.
[17]
Annex 1 of respondents motion for reconsideration to the NLRC Decision dated May 30, 2002,
CA rollo, pp. 163-165.
[18]
Rollo, pp. 70-71.
[19]
233 Phil. 655, 665-666 (1987).
[20]
Maya Farms Employees Organization v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No.
106256, December 28, 1994, 239 SCRA 508, 514.
[21]
Merck Sharp and Dohme (PHIL.) v. Robles, G.R. No. 176506, November 25, 2009.
[22]
San Miguel Corp. v. Teodosio, G.R. No. 163033, October 2, 2009.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Baguio City

SECOND DIVISION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 179935
Appellee,

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


-versus- BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

ROGELIO ASIS y LACSON, Promulgated:


Appellant. April 19, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Once again, we are confronted with the repulsive situation where a father raped his minor daughter. In
this case, AAA[1] was sexually molested not once but twice. Unfortunately, until this stage, her father did
not manifest any feeling of remorse or sought forgiveness; instead, he insists on his innocence
notwithstanding overwhelming evidence against him.

This is an appeal from the June 29, 2007 Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No.
00961 which affirmed with modification the January 25, 2005 Decision[3] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 64, Camarines Norte finding appellant Rogelio Asis y Lacson guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
two counts of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
Factual Antecedents

On November 8, 1996, two Informations were filed charging appellant with two counts of rape
committed against his own daughter, AAA. The accusatory portions of the two Informations read as
follows:

Crim. Case No. 96-0125:

That on or about January 8, 1994, and subsequently thereafter, at x x x,


Camarines Norte, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, taking advantage of the moral ascendancy he exercises over the private
complainant and by means of force and intimidation, did then and there, willfully,
unlawfully, and feloniously succeed in having sexual intercourse with his own daughter
AAA, a minor who at the time of the incident is below 12 years old, against the latters will,
to her damage and prejudice.

Contrary to law.[4]

Crim. Case No. 96-0126:

That on or about 3:00 oclock in the afternoon of August 15, 1996, at x x x,


Camarines Norte, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, taking advantage of the moral ascendancy he exercises over the private
complainant and by means of force and intimidation, did then and there, willfully,
unlawfully, and feloniously succeed in having sexual intercourse with his own daughter
AAA, a minor barely 14 years old, against the latters will, to her damage and prejudice.

Contrary to law.[5]

During the arraignment on December 4, 1996, the appellant pleaded not guilty. Trial on the merits
ensued thereafter.
Version of the Prosecution

The prosecution presented the offended party AAA as its first witness. She testified that
on January 8, 1994, while her brother was out with their neighbors and while her mother was doing
laundry, she was left alone in their house with her father, herein appellant.[6] The appellant then ordered
her to undress. At first, AAA tried to resist but she subsequently succumbed to appellants orders when
the latter threatened to kill her if she refused.[7] The appellant then removed his shorts and briefs and
ordered AAA to lie down on the floor. Appellant thereafter went on top of AAA, separated her legs and
forcibly inserted his penis into his daughters vagina and succeeded in having carnal knowledge of her.
After satisfying himself, appellant threatened to kill AAA if she would disclose the incident to anyone.

AAA further testified that appellant again raped her on August 15, 1996. Appellant pulled her to a
grassy portion near their house and ordered her to remove her clothes. She followed his orders because
he threatened to kill her if she refused.[8] After telling her to lie down on the ground, appellant took two
pieces of stones, separated her legs, and placed them on top of the stones. He then inserted his penis
into her vagina. It was so painful for AAA that she asked her father why he was doing this to her. Appellant
answered that before anybody will benefit from her, he will be the one to do it first.[9]
The prosecution presented BBB, the brother of AAA, as its second witness. BBB testified that
on January 8, 1994, he saw his father, the appellant, undressing AAA.[10] Appellant was already fully naked
when he ordered AAA to lie down on the ground. BBB claimed that he saw his father rape his sister but
he did not reveal to anyone what he saw because he was scared of his father who was always carrying a
bolo.[11]

On cross-examination, BBB testified that he witnessed his father rape his sister AAA on two
occasions.[12] However, he did not report the incidents to anyone for fear of what his father might do to
him.

The prosecution next presented Dr. Marcelito B. Abas. He testified that he conducted a genital
examination on AAA and found several hymenal lacerations in the following positions: 3, 5, 6, and 12
oclock positions.[13] He then concluded that the hymenal lacerations were caused by sexual intercourse
and that AAA is no longer a virgin.

Version of the Defense

The defense presented the appellant as its lone witness. Appellant denied the charges against
him and claimed that on January 8, 1994, he was in Quezon City working as a carpenter at Josefa
Corporation.[14] According to the appellant, he worked in the said corporation for six months or up to June
1994, although he returned home on January 17, 1994 to get his marriage license and to secure his NBI
clearance.[15] Thus, he claimed that he could not have raped his daughter AAA on January 8, 1994.

Appellant also denied raping AAA on August 15, 1996. He claimed that on said date, he was at
his house celebrating the birthday of his mother-in-law.[16] He claimed that during the party, his daughter
AAA was in the house of her aunt which was located within the same neighborhood as appellants house.[17]
Appellant also claimed that AAA harbored ill-feelings against him hence, she filed the rape
charges. He alleged that he scolded AAA and did not allow her to work in Manila as a helper.[18] When
AAA insisted on working in Manila, he whipped her with a broom causing her legs to bleed.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

The trial court found the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of rape and sentenced
him to suffer the penalty of death.
The trial court rejected appellants alibi for being self-serving and for lack of any evidence
supporting said claim.[19] It held that appellants denial and alibi deserve no credence at all considering the
testimony of AAA positively identifying the appellant as the perpetrator of the crime. It also noted that
AAA was not ill-motivated when she filed the charges against her own father.[20]

The dispositive portion of the Decision of the trial court reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused ROGELIO ASIS Y LACSON


GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape for two (2) counts as charged and
defined and penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code as amended in relation
to Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659 (Death Penalty Law) and accordingly, sentencing
him to suffer the capital punishment of death in each two (2) separate crimes of rape
committed on January 8, 1994 and August 15, 1996 respectively. To pay the victim the
amount of P75,000.00 each for [the] separate crime of rape or for a total of P150,000.00
as civil indemnity; P100,000.00 as moral damages for two (2) counts; P50,000.00 as
exemplary damages for two (2) counts and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.[21]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed with modification the Decision of

the trial court. It held that the victims testimony clearly showed that the appellant had sexual intercourse
with her on January 8, 1994, and on August 15, 1996. The CA held that the evidence presented by the
prosecution specially that of AAA was clear, steadfast, and convincing.

Regarding the appellants argument that the prosecution failed to prove the age of AAA, the appellate
court ruled that:

x x x Latest jurisprudence, however, also pronounced that the presentation of the


birth certificate or any other official document is no longer necessary to prove minority.
Thus, in this case, where the age of the victim was never put in doubt, except on appeal,
and was in fact sufficiently established, there is no corresponding obligation on the part
of the prosecution to present other evidence since the testimony of the victim, who is
competent to testify, is sufficient to prove her age. The presentation of the birth certificate
would merely be corroborative. x x x[22]

Our Ruling

We AFFIRM with MODIFICATIONS the Decision of the CA.


Findings of the trial court on the credibility of
witnesses and their testimonies are accorded
great weight and respect.

The trial court found the testimony of AAA to be clear, steadfast, and credible. Thus:

After a careful scrutiny of the evidence adduced by both the prosecution and the defense
and the testimonies of their respective witnesses, this Court finds more for the prosecution
convincing and worthy of belief.

From the detailed testimony of the private complainant AAA (who was only 12 and 14
years old at the time of the incident) the Court is inclined to believe that the incident of
rape actually [transpired] x x x. AAA has also no reason to concoct false stories just to
implicate this serious offense to [her] own father x x x.[23]

The CA affirmed the said findings, holding thus:

x x x After a perusal of the records of the case, we are convinced that the trial court did
not err in giving credence to the testimonies of the victim and the other prosecution
witnesses. The testimony of the victim, detailing how she was abused by the accused-
appellant, on two separate occasions, was clear, steadfast, and convincing. x x x[24]

We find no reason to deviate from the said findings. In rape cases, the evaluation of the credibility of
witnesses is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial judge whose conclusion thereon deserves much
weight and respect, because the judge has the opportunity to observe them on the stand and ascertain
whether they are telling the truth or not.[25] We have long adhered to the rule that findings of the trial
court on the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies are accorded great respect unless it overlooked
substantial facts and circumstances, which if considered, would materially affect the result of the case.[26]

An accused could justifiably be convicted based solely on the credible testimony of the victim. At any rate,
we perused the records of the case and we find nothing which would indicate that the trial court and the
CA overlooked or failed to appreciate some facts which if considered would change the outcome of the
case. Thus, we find the testimony of AAA sufficient to hold appellant guilty of two counts of rape.

The testimony of AAA clearly established that on January 8, 1994, she was ravished by her own
father. She succumbed to his lustful desires because appellant threatened to kill her if she refused. AAA
thus testified in her direct examination, viz:
Prosecutor Pante:
Q: While you and your father was in your house sometime on January 8, 1994 do you
remember any extra ordinary thing that happened to you?
A: There was, sir.

Q: What was that incident all about?


A: Sometime on January 8, 1994, I was sexually molested by my father x x x

xxxx

Q: How did your father sexually abuse you that noon of January 8, 1994?
A: At noontime, he tried to lay me down but I resisted, sir.

Q: What happened [when you tried to resist]?


A: He told me that I will be killed x x x, sir.

xxxx

Q: After[your father removed his short and briefs] and while he was on top of you what
did he do to you?
A: He was kissing me sir, and was placing his organ into my organ, sir.

xxxx

Q: Now, why did you not report [the incident] to your mother or [to] any [of your]
relative?
A: [He] threatened to [kill me,] sir.[27]

As regards the rape incident on August 15 1996, AAA testified thus:

Prosecutor Pante:
Q: Sometime on August 15, 1996 at about 3:00 in the afternoon while you were in your
house in x x x, Camarines Norte is there anything that happened to you?
A: There was, sir.

Q: What was the incident all about?


A: I was raped by my father x x x, sir.

xxxx

Q: After you were totally naked what happened next?


A: He went on top of me and put his organ [in my vagina], sir.

xxxx

Q: Will you kindly tell the court how [his] penis [was] able to penetrate your vagina?
A: He just placed it inside, sir.[28]
Appellants denial and alibi deserve no
consideration at all.

Appellants defense of alibi deserves no credence at all. He claimed that on January 8, 1994, he was
working as a carpenter in Quezon City and only returned to Camarines Norte on January 17, 1994 to get
his marriage license and to secure his NBI clearance. However, other than this self-serving allegation, the
defense presented no other evidence to corroborate said claim. When asked to present any documentary
proof to substantiate his claim, he claimed that he lost his identification card.

As regards the August 15, 1996 rape incident, appellant claimed that he attended the birthday party of
his mother-in-law which was held in his house in Camarines Norte. He denied having raped his daughter
and claimed that it was impossible for him to have raped AAA on said date considering that a number of
people were in attendance during the party.

We are not persuaded. We have held that denial, if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence, is
negative and self-serving evidence, which deserves no weight in law and cannot be given greater
evidentiary value over the testimonies of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters.[29] In this
case, appellants denial does not deserve any consideration given AAAs positive identification of appellant
as her lecherous attacker.

We are likewise not swayed by appellants assertion that AAA filed the rape charges against him because
he disallowed her to work in Manila. This claim is not only unsubstantiated, but likewise unworthy of
belief. As aptly held by the trial court, it strains credulity that the victim would concoct a tale of rape against
her own father, allow an examination of her private parts and subject herself to a public trial simply
because she was not allowed to work in Manila. We have consistently held that when a woman, more so
if she is a minor, says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape
was committed.[30]

The minority of the victim was satisfactorily


established.

The Informations specifically alleged that AAA was a minor, i.e., below 12 years old on January 8, 1994,
and barely 14 years old on August 15, 1996, when she was raped by her own father. While the evidence
of the prosecution consisted mainly of the victims testimony, we find that the express admission by the
accused as regards the age of the victim sufficient to establish her minority.
We quote the testimony of appellant, viz:

Prosecutor Velarde:
Q: You will admit that on January 8, 1994, your daughter AAA, who is the complainant in
this case was only 11 years old going to 12, isnt it?
A: Yes.

Q: In fact she was in grade 6, isnt it?


A: Yes.[31]

At this juncture, we deem it proper to reiterate the guidelines set forth in People v. Pruna[32] in appreciating
the age, either as an element of the crime or as a qualifying circumstance, viz:

1. The best evidence to prove the age of the offended party is an original or
certified true copy of the certificate of live birth of such party.

2. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar authentic documents such


as baptismal certificate and school records which show the date of birth of the victim
would suffice to prove age.

3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is shown to have been lost
or destroyed or otherwise unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the victims
mother or a member of the family either by affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to
testify on matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or date of birth of the
offended party pursuant to Section 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be
sufficient under the following circumstances:

a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and what is sought to be


proved is that she is less than 7 years old;
b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and what is sought to be
proved is that she is less than 12 years old;

c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and what is sought to be


proved is that she is less than 18 years old.

4. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic document or


the testimony of the victims mother or relatives concerning the victims age,
the complainants testimony will suffice provided that it is expressly and
clearly admitted by the accused. (Emphasis supplied)

5. It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving the age of the offended
party. The failure of the accused to object to the testimonial evidence regarding age shall
not be taken against him.

6. The trial court should always make a categorical finding as to the age of the
victim.
The rape incidents in this case were committed on January 8, 1994 and August 15, 1996. As such, the
applicable provision is Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659 or the
Death Penalty Law.[33] Article 335 provides:

ART. 335. When and how rape is committed. Rape is committed by having carnal
knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:

1. By using force or intimidation;

2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and

3. When the woman in under twelve years of age or is demented.

The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.

xxxx

The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the
following circumstances:

1. when the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent,
ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil
degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.

xxxx

The prosecution satisfactorily proved the concurrence of minority and relationship. Thus, the proper
imposable penalty would have been death. However, with the passage of Republic Act No. 9346 (An act
Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty), the appellate court correctly reduced the penalty to reclusion
perpetua.

As regards the damages, we find that the appellate court correctly awarded the amounts of P75,000.00
as civil indemnity and another P75,000.00 as moral damages for each count of rape, pursuant to prevailing
jurisprudence.[34] However, the award of exemplary damages must be increased from P25,000.00
to P30,000.00.[35]

Finally, appellant is not eligible for parole pursuant to Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9346.
WHEREFORE, the June 29, 2007 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00961 finding
appellant Rogelio Asis y Lacson guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of rape and sentencing him
to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay AAA the amounts P75,000.00 as civil indemnity and
another P75,000.00 as moral damages, for each count, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS that the
award of exemplary damages is increased to P30,000.00, for each count of rape. Appellant is likewise held
not eligible for parole.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
Pursuant to Section 44 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence
Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, and Section 63, Rule XI of the Rules and
Regulations Implementing RA 9262, the real name of the child-victim is withheld to protect
his/her privacy. Fictitious initials are used instead to represent him/her. Likewise, the personal
circumstances or any other information tending to establish or compromise his/her identity,
as well as those of his/her immediate family or household members shall not be disclosed.
[2]
CA rollo, pp. 87-100; penned by Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., and concurred in
by Associate Justices Bienvenido L. Reyes and Aurora Santiago-Lagman.
[3]
Id. at 2140-223; penned by Judge Franco T. Falcon.
[4]
Records, p. 2.
[5]
Id. at 9.
[6]
Id. at 10
[7]
Id.
[8]
Id.
[9]
Id.
[10]
Id. at 11.
[11]
Id.
[12]
Id.
[13]
Id. at 199.
[14]
Id. at 148-149.
[15]
Id. at 149.
[16]
Id. at 152-153.
[17]
Id. at 151.
[18]
Id. at 153.
[19]
CA rollo, p. 16.
[20]
Id. at 17.
[21]
Id. at 17-18.
[22]
Id. at 98.
[23]
Records, pp. 218-219.
[24]
CA rollo, p. 91.
[25]
People v. Manalili, G.R. No. 184598, June 23, 2009.
[26]
Id.
[27]
TSN, April, 14, 1997, pp. 11-17.
[28]
Id. at 18-21.
[29]
Id.
[30]
People v. Ruales, 457 Phil. 160, 172 (2003).
[31]
TSN, September 8, 1999, p. 25.
[32]
439 Phil. 440, 470 (2002).
[33]
See People v. Manalili, supra note 25.
[34]
People v. Sarcia, G.R. No. 169641, September 10, 2009.
[35]
Id.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Baguio City

SECOND DIVISION

ROMEO BASAY, JULIAN G.R. No. 175532


LITERAL and JULIAN ABUEVA,
Petitioners,

- versus - Present:

HACIENDA CONSOLACION, CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


and/or BRUNO BOUFFARD III, BRION,
JOSE RAMON BOUFFARD, DEL CASTILLO,
MALOT BOUFFARD, ABAD, and
SPOUSES CARMEN and PEREZ, JJ.
STEVE BUMANLAG,
BERNIE BOUFFARD,
ANALYN BOUFFARD, and
DONA BOUFFARD, as Owners, Promulgated:
Respondents. April 19, 2010
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:


Fair evidentiary rule dictates that before employers are burdened to prove that they did not commit illegal
dismissal, it is incumbent upon the employee to first establish the fact of his or her dismissal.
This Petition for Review on Certiorari[1] assails the Decision[2] dated June 7, 2006 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 00313, which affirmed the March 22, 2004 Decision[3]of the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC), dismissing the illegal dismissal case filed by petitioners against respondents.

Factual Antecedents

Respondents hired petitioners Romeo Basay (Basay) in 1967 and Julian Literal (Literal) in 1984, as tractor
operators, and petitioner Julian Abueva (Abueva) in 1989, as laborer, in the hacienda devoted for sugar
cane plantation.

On August 29, 2001, petitioners filed a complaint[4] for illegal dismissal with monetary claims
against respondents. They alleged that sometime in July 2001, respondents verbally informed them to
stop working. Thereafter, they were not given work assignments despite their status as regular
employees. They alleged that their termination was done in violation of their right to substantive and
procedural due process. Petitioners also claimed violation of Minimum Wage Law and non-payment of
overtime pay, premium pay for holiday and rest day, five days service incentive leave pay, separation pay
and 13th month pay. They also prayed for damages and attorneys fees.

Respondents denied petitioners allegations. As regards Abueva, respondents averred that he is not an
employee but a mere contractor in the hacienda. According to respondents, Abueva hired other men to
perform weeding jobs and even entered into contract with neighboring haciendas for similar jobs.
Respondents alleged that Abuevas name does not appear in the payroll, thus indicating that he is not an
employee. As such, there can be no dismissal to speak of, much less an illegal dismissal.

With regard to petitioners Literal and Basay, respondents admitted that both are regular employees, each
receiving P130.00 per days work as evidenced by a Master Voucher.[5] However, respondents denied
having illegally dismissed them and asserted that they abandoned their jobs.

Respondents alleged that Literal was facing charges of misconduct, insubordination, damaging
and taking advantage of hacienda property, and unauthorized cultivation of a portion of the
hacienda. Literal was ordered to explain; instead of complying, Literal did not anymore report for
work. Instead, he filed a complaint for illegal dismissal.
Respondents asserted that they sent a representative to convince petitioners to return but to no
avail. Respondents maintained that they have been religiously giving 13th month pay to their employees
as evidenced by a voucher[6] corresponding to year 2000.
Ruling of the Labor Arbiter

On December 19, 2001, the Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision[7] exonerating respondents from the charge
of illegal dismissal as petitioners were the ones who did not report for work despite respondents call. The
Labor Arbiter, however, awarded petitioners claim of 13th month pay and salary differentials. The
dispositive portion of the Labor Arbiters Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, all the foregoing premises being considered, judgment is hereby rendered
declaring the Respondent not guilty of Illegal Dismissal but is however directed to pay the
complainants their 13thMonth Pay covering the years 1998 and 1999, and their Salary
Differentials for 2 years at 6 months per year of service. The computation of the foregoing
monetary awards are as follows:

I - 13th Month Pay: (For Each Complainant)


1998 & 1999 = 2 years or 12 months @ 6 months per year of service

P145.00/day x 26 days = P3,770.00/mo.


P3,770.00/mo. x 12 mos. = P45,240.00= P7,540.00
6

II Salary Differential:

(a) Romeo Basay:


Basic Pay = P145.00/day
Salary Received = P122.00/day
Salary Differential = P 23.00/day

1998 & 1999 = 2 years or 312 days

P23.00/day x 312 days = P7,176.00

(b) Julian Literal:


Basic Pay = P145.00/day
Salary Received = P 91.00/day
Salary Differential = P 54.00/day

1998 & 1999 = 2 years or 312 days

P54.00/day x 312 days = P16,848.00

(c) Julian Abueva:


Basic Pay = P145.00/day
Salary Received = P 91.50/day
Salary Differential = P 53.50/day

1998 & 1999 = 2 years or 312 days

P53.50/day x 312 days = P16, 692.00

SUMMARY

1. ROMEO BASAY:
a) 13th Month Pay = P7,540.00
b) Salary Differential = P7,176.00
Total P14,716.00

2. JULIAN LITERAL
a) 13th Month Pay = P 7,540.00
b) Salary Differential = P16,848.00
Total P24,388.00

3. JULIAN ABUEVA
a) 13 Month Pay = P 7,540.00
th

b) Salary Differential = P16,692.00


Total P24,232.00

GRAND TOTAL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P63,336.00

Ten Percent (10%) Attorneys Fees is also adjudicated from the total monetary
award.

SO ORDERED.[8]

Ruling of the National Labor Relations Commission

Both parties sought recourse to the NLRC. Petitioners filed a Partial Appeal[9] to the Decision declaring
respondents not guilty of illegal dismissal. They argued that there was no proof of clear and deliberate
intent to abandon their work. On the contrary, their filing of an illegal dismissal case negates the intention
to abandon. Petitioners likewise alleged that respondents failed to observe procedural due process.

Respondents, for their part, filed a Memorandum on Appeal[10] with respect to the award of salary
differentials and 13th month pay to petitioners. Respondents averred that the Labor Arbiter erred in finding
that petitioners are entitled to receive a minimum wage of P145.00/day instead of P130.00/day which is
the minimum wage rate for sugarcane workers in Negros Oriental per Wage Order No. ROVII-
07.[11] Respondents likewise presented vouchers[12] to prove payment of 13th month pay for the years 1998
and 1999.
The NLRC, in its Decision[13] dated March 22, 2004, found merit in respondents appeal. It ruled that
respondents have satisfactorily proven payment of the correct amount of wages and 13thmonth pay for
the years 1998, 1999 and 2000, as shown in the Master Voucher indicating the workers payroll and the
various vouchers for 13th month pay. The NLRC further ruled that Abueva is not an employee of the
hacienda but a mere contractor; thus, he is not entitled to any of his claims. The NLRC thus affirmed with
modification the Decision of the Labor Arbiter, viz:
WHEREFORE, finding complainants not illegally dismissed, judgment is hereby
rendered AFFIRMING the Decision of the Labor Arbiter dated December 13, 2001, with
the MODIFICATION that complainants Julian Literal and Romeo Basay are not entitled
to their claims for salary differentials and 13th month pay for lack of legal basis. However,
respondents are ordered to pay complainants Julian Literal and Romeo Basay
proportionate 13th month pay computed from January 1, 2001 to August 29, 2001.

All other claims are dismissed for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.[14]

Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration[15] which was denied by the NLRC in a
Resolution[16] dated September 3, 2004.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

Aggrieved, petitioners filed with the CA a petition for certiorari. On June 7, 2006, however, the CA
dismissed the petition and affirmed the findings of the NLRC. It opined that respondents have manifested
their willingness to retain petitioners but the latter intentionally abandoned their work. The CA also struck
down petitioners contention that abandonment is inconsistent with the filing of a complaint for illegal
dismissal as this rule applies only when a complainant seeks reinstatement and not when separation pay
is instead prayed for, as in the case of petitioners. As to the issue posed by petitioners assailing the
admissibility of the Master Voucher due to lack of petitioners authentic signatures, the CA refrained from
resolving the matter since the issue was only raised for the first time on appeal.
Petitioners moved for reconsideration, but to no avail.

Issue

Hence, this petition raising the issue of whether petitioners were illegally dismissed and are entitled to
their money claims.
Petitioners contend that the CA erred in affirming the findings of the labor tribunals that they deliberately
abandoned their work on the basis of respondents self-serving allegation that they sent emissaries to
persuade them to return to work. They maintain that in the absence of competent evidence to show clear
intention to sever the employment relationship and compliance with the two-notice rule, no abandonment
can exist. Moreover, the theory that abandonment of work is inconsistent with the filing of a complaint for
illegal dismissal is applicable in the present case since what was prayed for in the complaint was
reinstatement, contrary to the CAs finding that they were asking for separation pay. Petitioners likewise
insist that the CA gravely erred in holding that they assailed the admissibility of the Master Voucher for
the first time only during appeal. They claim that such issue was raised in their motion for reconsideration
of the NLRC Decision. Finally, petitioners allege that the fact that they were staying inside the premises of
the hacienda and had been working therein for more than a year is an indication that they are regular
employees entitled to their monetary claims, as correctly found by the Labor Arbiter.

Our Ruling

The petition is partly meritorious.

There was no illegal dismissal.

We are not unmindful of the rule in labor cases that the employer has the burden of proving that the
termination was for a valid or authorized cause; however, it is likewise incumbent upon the employees
that they should first establish by competent evidence the fact of their dismissal from employment.[17] The
one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and the proof should be clear, positive and
convincing.[18] In this case, aside from mere allegations, no evidence was proffered by the petitioners that
they were dismissed from employment. The records are bereft of any indication that petitioners were
prevented from returning to work or otherwise deprived of any work assignment by respondents.

The CA, in sustaining the Labor Arbiter and NLRCs finding that there was no illegal dismissal, ruled that
respondents have manifested their willingness to retain petitioners in their employ. Petitioners, however,
complained that this finding is anchored on mere allegations of respondents.

We do not agree. Respondents presented a declaration[19] made under oath by Leopoldo Utlang, Jr.,
assistant supervisor of the hacienda, attesting that petitioners were asked to return to do some work for
the hacienda but refused to do so upon the advice of their lawyer. Interestingly too, as late as November
of 2001 or even after almost three months from the filing of the illegal dismissal case, the names of Literal
and Basay were still listed and included in respondents payroll as can be gleaned in the Master Voucher
covering the employees payroll of November 12 to 16, 2001. While a voucher does not necessarily prove
payment, it is an acceptable documentary record of a business transaction.[20] As such, entries made
therein, being entered in the ordinary or regular course of business, enjoy the presumption of
regularity.[21] Hence, on the basis of this material proof evincing respondents intention to retain petitioners
as employees, we are not convinced that petitioners were told to stop working or were prevented from
working in the hacienda. This may well be an indication of respondents lack of intention to dismiss
petitioners from employment since they were still considered employees as of that time. Records are
likewise bereft of any showing that to date, respondents had already terminated petitioners from
employment.

We are not persuaded by petitioners contention that nothing was presented to establish their intention of
abandoning their work, or that the fact that they filed a complaint for illegal dismissal negates the theory
of abandonment.

It bears emphasizing that this case does not involve termination of employment on the ground of
abandonment. As earlier discussed, there is no evidence showing that petitioners were actually dismissed.
Petitioners filing of a complaint for illegal dismissal, irrespective of whether reinstatement or separation
pay was prayed for, could not by itself be the sole consideration in determining whether they have been
illegally dismissed. All circumstances surrounding the alleged termination should also be taken into
account.

In Abad v. Roselle Cinema,[22] we ruled that the substantial evidence proffered by the employer
that it had not terminated the employee should not be ignored on the pretext that the employee would
not have filed the complaint for illegal dismissal if he had not really been dismissed. We held that such non
sequitur reasoning cannot take the place of the evidence of both the employer and the employee.

Given that there was no dismissal to speak of, there can be no question as to the legality or illegality
thereof.

Basay and Literal are entitled to salary differentials for two years
and proportionate 13th month pay from January 1-29, 2001.
Abueva is not an employee, thus not entitled to his claims.
We agree with the petitioners that the issue on the admissibility of the Master Voucher, which does not
show that they actually received the amount of salary indicated therein, was raised in their motion for
reconsideration of the NLRC Decision dated March 22, 2004 where the labor tribunal ruled that petitioners
were duly compensated for their work on the basis of such voucher. At any rate, even if its admission as
evidence is not put into issue, still, the Master Voucher did not prove that petitioners were indeed paid the
correct amount of wages.

A perusal of the Master Voucher shows that it covers the employees payroll for the period
of November 12-16, 2001 only. Clearly, the Master Voucher cannot constitute as proof that petitioners
were duly paid for other periods not covered by such voucher. No other pertinent vouchers, payrolls,
records or other similar documents have been presented as proof of payment of the correct amount of
salaries paid, particularly, for the years 1998 and 1999. As a general rule, one who pleads payment has
the burden of proving it.[23] Consequently, respondents failed to discharge the burden of proving payment
thereby making them liable for petitioners claim for salary differentials. We thus reinstate the Labor
Arbiters award of salary differentials for 1998 and 1999, computed at 6 months per year of service.
However, the Labor Arbiters computation must be modified pursuant to Wage Order No. ROVII-07. Under
this wage order, the minimum wage rate of sugarcane plantation workers is at P130.00/day. The correct
computation for the salary differentials due to Basay and Literal, who claimed to have received
only P122.00 and P91.00 per day, respectively, should be as follows:

For ROMEO BASAY:


Basic Pay = P130.00/day
Salary Received = P122.00/day
Salary Differential = P 8.00/day
P8.00/day x 312 days (for 1998 & 1999) = P2,496.00

For JULIAN LITERAL:


Basic Pay = P130.00/day
Salary Received = P 91.00/day
Salary Differential = P 39.00/day

P39.00/day x 312 days (for 1998 & 1999) = P12,168.00

As regards the 13th month pay, respondents were able to adduce evidence that the benefit was
given to the employees for the years 1998, 1999, and 2000. However, for an employee who has been
separated from service before the time for payment of the 13th month pay, he is entitled to this monetary
benefit in proportion to the length of time he worked during the year, reckoned from the time he started
working during the calendar year up to the time of his separation.[24] The NLRCs award of proportionate
13th month pay computed from January 1, 2001 to August 29, 2001 in favor of Basay and Literal, is
therefore proper.
As for petitioner Abueva, he is not entitled to his claims. The NLRC excluded Abueva in its
judgment award, ruling that he is not an employee but a mere contractor. The existence of an employer-
employee relationship is ultimately a question of fact.[25] Settled is the rule that only errors of law are
generally reviewed by this Court.[26] Factual findings of administrative and quasi-judicial agencies
specializing in their respective fields, especially when affirmed by the CA, must be accorded high respect,
if not finality.[27]

The elements to determine the existence of an employment relationship are: (1) selection and
engagement of the employee; (2) the payment of wages; (3) the power of dismissal; and (4) the
employers power to control the employees conduct.[28] In filing a complaint for illegal dismissal, it is
incumbent upon Abueva to prove the relationship by substantial evidence.

In this regard, petitioners claim that Abueva has worked with respondents for more than a year already
and was allowed to stay inside the hacienda. As such, he is a regular employee entitled to monetary
claims. However, petitioners have not presented competent proof that respondents engaged the services
of Abueva; that respondents paid his wages or that respondents could dictate what his conduct should be
while at work. In other words, Abuevas allegations did not establish that his relationship with respondents
has the attributes of employer-employee on the basis of the above-mentioned four-fold test. Therefore,
Abueva was not able to discharge the burden of proving the existence of an employer-employee
relationship. Moreover, Abueva was not able to refute respondents assertions that he hires other men to
perform weeding job in the hacienda and that he is not exclusively working for respondents.

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
No. 00313 dated June 7, 2006, finding petitioners Romeo Basay, Julian Literal and Julian Abueva not
illegally dismissed and awarding petitioners Romeo Basay and Julian Literal their proportionate 13th month
pay computed from January 1, 2001 to August 29, 2001, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the
petitioners Romeo Basay and Julian Literal are entitled to receive the amounts of P2,496.00
and P12,168.00 as salary differentials, respectively.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

SECOND DIVISION

ROO SEGURITAN y JARA, G.R. No. 172896


Petitioner,
Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


BRION,
-versus- DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:


Respondent. April 19, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

In a criminal case, factual findings of the trial court are generally accorded great weight and respect on
appeal, especially when such findings are supported by substantial evidence on record.[1] It is only in
exceptional circumstances, such as when the trial court overlooked material and relevant matters, that
this Court will re-calibrate and evaluate the factual findings of the court below. In this case, we hold that
the trial court did not overlook such factual matters; consequently, we find no necessity to review, much
less, overturn its factual findings.

This petition for review on certiorari assails the Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated February 24,
2006 in CA-G.R. CR No. 25069 which affirmed with modification the Judgment[3] of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Aparri, Cagayan, Branch 06 in Criminal Case No. VI-892 finding petitioner Roo
Seguritan y Jara guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide. Likewise impugned is the
Resolution[4] dated May 23, 2006 which denied the Motion for Reconsideration.[5]

Factual Antecedents

On October 1, 1996, petitioner was charged with Homicide in an Information, [6] the accusatory portion of
which reads as follows:

That on or about November 25,1995, in the municipality of Gonzaga, province of


Cagayan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
ROO SEGURITAN y JARA alias Ranio, with intent to kill, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously assault, attack and box one Lucrecio Seguritan, inflicting upon
the latter head injuries which caused his death.

Contrary to law.

During the arraignment, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty. Thereafter, trial ensued.
The Version of the Prosecution

In the afternoon of November 25, 1995, petitioner was having a drinking session with his uncles Lucrecio
Seguritan (Lucrecio), Melchor Panis (Melchor) and Baltazar Panis (Baltazar), in the house of Manuel dela
Cruz in Barangay Paradise, Gonzaga, Cagayan. Petitioner, who was seated beside Lucrecio, claimed that
Lucrecios carabao entered his farm and destroyed his crops. A heated discussion thereafter ensued, during
which petitioner punched Lucrecio twice as the latter was about to stand up. Petitioners punches landed
on Lucrecios right and left temple, causing him to fall face-up to the ground and hit a hollow block which
was being used as an improvised stove.

Lucrecio lost consciousness but was revived with the assistance of Baltazar. Thereafter, Lucrecio rode a
tricycle and proceeded to his house in the neighboring barangay of Calayan, Cagayan.Upon his arrival, his
wife noticed blood on his forehead. Lucrecio explained that he was stoned, then went directly to his room
and slept.

At around 9 oclock in the evening, Lucrecios wife and daughter noticed that his complexion has darkened
and foamy substance was coming out of his mouth. Attempts were made to revive Lucrecio but to no
avail. He died that same night.

After the burial of Lucrecio on December 4, 1995, his wife learned of petitioners involvement in
her husbands death. Thus, she sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). NBI
Medico-Legal Officer Dr. Antonio Vertido (Dr. Vertido) exhumed Lucrecios body and performed the
autopsy. Dr. Vertido found hematomas in the scalp located in the right parietal and left occipital areas, a
linear fracture in the right middle fossa, and a subdural hemorrhage in the right and left cerebral
hemisphere. Dr. Vertido concluded that Lucrecios cause of death was traumatic head injury.[7]

On May 21, 1996, Melchor executed a sworn statement before the Gonzaga Police Station recounting the
events on that fateful day, including the punching of Lucrecio by petitioner.

At the time of Lucrecios death, he was 51 years old and earned an annual income of P14,000.00 as a
farmer.

The Version of the Defense

Petitioner denied hitting Lucrecio and alleged that the latter died of cardiac arrest. Petitioner claimed that
he suddenly stood up during their heated argument with the intent to punch Lucrecio.However, since the
latter was seated at the opposite end of the bench, Lucrecio lost his balance and fell before he could be
hit. Lucrecios head hit the improvised stove as a result of which he lost consciousness.

Petitioner presented Joel Cabebe, the Assistant Registration Officer of Gonzaga, Cagayan, and Dr. Corazon
Flor, the Municipal Health Officer of Sta. Teresita, Cagayan, to prove that Lucrecio died of a heart
attack. These witnesses identified the Certificate of Death of Lucrecio and the entry therein which reads:
Antecedent cause: T/C cardiovascular disease.[8]

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On February 5, 2001, the trial court rendered a Decision convicting petitioner of homicide. The dispositive
portion of the Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of homicide and sentences the accused to an indeterminate sentence of 6
years and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 17 years and 4 months
of reclusion temporal as maximum. The accused is ordered to pay the heirs of the
late Lucrecio Seguritan the amount of P30,000.00 as actual damages and the
amount of P135,331.00 as loss of earning capacity and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.[9]

The Decision of the Court of Appeals

On appeal, the CA affirmed with modification the Judgment of the RTC.


Thus:

WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is partly AFFIRMED, WITH


MODIFICATION, to read as follows: The Court finds the accused GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide and sentences the accused to an indeterminate
penalty of SIX (6) YEARS AND ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor, as minimum, to TWELVE
(12) YEARS AND ONE (1) DAY of reclusion temporal, as maximum. The accused Roo
Seguritan is ordered to pay the heirs of the late Lucrecio Seguritan the amount
of P 30,000.00 as actual damages, the amount of P135,331.00 as loss of earning
capacity, P50,000.00 as moral damages and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.[10]
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration but it was denied by the CA in its Resolution
dated May 23, 2006.

Issues

Thus, this petition for review raising the following issues:

I
The Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial courts judgment of conviction.

II
The Court of Appeals erred in convicting the accused of the crime of homicide.[11]

Our Ruling

The petition is denied.

Petitioner disputes the conclusion that the fracture on the right middle fossa of the skull, beneath the area
where a hematoma developed was due to the blow he delivered because according to the testimony of
Dr. Vertido, the fracture may also be caused by one falling from a height. Petitioner also maintains that
the punches he threw at Lucrecio had nothing to do with the fatal head injuries the latter
suffered. According to him, Lucrecio sustained the head injuries when he accidentally hit the hollow block
that was used as an improvised stove, after falling from the opposite end of the bench. Petitioner insists
that Lucrecio died due to a fatal heart attack.

In fine, petitioner contends that the appellate court, in affirming the judgment of the trial court, overlooked
material and relevant factual matters which, if considered, would change the outcome of the case.

We are not persuaded.

It is on record that Lucrecio suffered two external injuries and one internal injury in his head. The
autopsy report showed that Lucrecio died of internal hemorrhage caused by injuries located at the upper
right portion of the head, left side of the center of his head, and a fracture, linear, right middle fossa,
hemorrhage, subdural, right and left cerebral hemisphere.

We find no reason to doubt the findings of the trial court, as affirmed by the appellate court, that petitioner
punched Lucrecio twice causing him to fall to the ground. Melchor categorically testified that petitioner
punched Lucrecio twice and as a result, Lucrecio fell to the ground and lost consciousness. Melchor would
not have testified falsely against petitioner, who was his nephew. He even hesitated to testify as shown
by his execution of a sworn statement just after the autopsy of Lucrecio which revealed that the cause of
death was traumatic head injury attributed to petitioner.

Melchors eyewitness account of the fist blows delivered by petitioner to Lucrecio and the manner by which
the latter fell from the bench and hit his head on the improvised stove is consistent with the autopsy
findings prepared and testified to by Dr. Vertido. Thus:
xxxx
Court:
Q: What is the right parietal area?
A: This is the right parietal area, sir.
(Witness pointing to the upper right portion of the head).
: And then the left occipital area, this is left occipital area with a hematoma again
measuring 5.0 x 4.0 centimeters, sir.
(Witness pointing to the back left part, middle back portion)[12]

xxxx

Fiscal Feril:
Q: What about this which reads Fracture, linear, right middle fossa, where is this injury
located?

xxxx

Court:
Q: Will you point that from your head?
A: x x x [A]t the base of the brain of the skull, sir.
If you look at the head at the cut portion, the fracture is located on the base of the brain,
particularly on the right mid-cranial fossa, sir.[13]

xxxx

Fiscal Feril:
Q: Could it be possible that the victim suffered the injuries specifically the fracture while
he was falling to the ground, hitting solid objects in the process?
A: Well, with regard to the hematomas there is a possibility [that it could be caused by]
falling from a height x x x although it produces hematoma, sir.

Court:
Q: Falling from a height?
A: Yes, sir.

Fiscal Feril:
Q: If an external force is administered to such victim, such as x x x fist blow[s] would it
accelerate this force and cause these injuries?
A: Definitely it could accelerate, sir.[14]
We find no merit in petitioners argument that he could not be held liable for the head fracture
suffered by Lucrecio. The height from which he stood to deliver the fist blows to Lucrecios head is sufficient
to cause the fracture.

The testimony of Dr. Vertido also ruled out petitioners contention that Lucrecio died of a heart
attack. The fact that Lucrecios cause of death is internal hemorrhage resulting from the head injuries
suffered during his encounter with the petitioner and the certainty that he had no heart problem are
evident in the following portion of Dr. Vertidos testimony:

Atty. Antonio:
Q: Did you notice anything unusual in the heart of Lucrecio Seguritan?
A: Well, with regard to our examination of the heart Your Honor I limit only the
examination on the atomic portion, gross findings, when we say gross
findings that can be seen by the eyes and so if for example other that the
findings on the brain, if I have not seen my injury from the brain then my
next examination to contemplate would be to bring a portion of each
particular organ to Manila and have it subjected to a hispathologic
examination over the microscope. But then we found out that there is an
injury to the brain so why should I now perform a hispathologic
examination on the heart, when in fact there is already a gross finding on
the brain, meaning that the cause of death now is of course, this
traumatic injury, sir.

Court:
Q: Supposed the victim had a heart attack first and then fell down later, can you
determine then x x x the cause of death?
A: Well, your Honor as I said a while ago I opened up the heart, I examined the heart
grossly and there was no findings that would find to a heart attach on its
function, the heart was okay and coronaries were not thickened so I said
well grossly there was no heart attack.[15]

xxxx

Court:
Q: Since you were conducting just a cursory examination of the heart, my question again
is that, could you have determined by further examination whether the
victim suffered a heart attack before the injuries on the head were
inflicted?
A: That is why sir, I said, I examined the heart and I found out that there was noting
wrong with the heart, and why should I insist on further examining the
heart.[16]
The notation in the Certificate of Death of Lucrecio that he died of a heart attack has no weight
in evidence. Dr. Corazon Flor, who signed said document testified that she did not examine the cadaver
of Lucrecio. She stated that a circular governing her profession did not require her to conduct an
examination of Lucrecios corpse, as long as the informant tells her that it is not a medico-legal
case. Renato Sidantes (Renato), the brother-in-law of Lucrecio who applied for the latters death certificate,
had no knowledge of the real cause of his death. Thus, Dr. Flor was mistakenly informed by Renato that
the cause of Lucrecios death was heart attack.

The petitioner belatedly contends that the delay in the autopsy of Lucrecios body and its
embalming compromised the results thereof. To substantiate his claim, he quotes the book entitled Legal
Medicine authored by Dr. Pedro Solis, viz:

a dead body must not be embalmed before the autopsy. The embalming fluid
may render the tissue and blood unfit for toxilogical analyses. The embalming may alter
the gross appearance of the tissues or may result to a wide variety of artifacts that tend
to destroy or obscure evidence.

the body must be autopsied in the same condition when found at the crime
scene. A delay in the performance may fail or modify the possible findings thereby not
serving the interest of justice.[17]

Petitioners reliance on this citation is misplaced. Petitioner failed to adduce evidence that the one
month delay in the autopsy indeed modified the possible findings. He also failed to substantiate his claim
that the embalming fluid rendered the tissue and blood of Lucrecio unfit for toxilogical analysis.
Further, it is settled that courts will only consider as evidence that which has been formally
offered.[18] The allegation that the results of the autopsy are unworthy of credence was based on a book
that was neither marked for identification nor formally offered in evidence during the hearing of the
case. Thus, the trial court as well as the appellate court correctly disregarded them. The prosecution was
not even given the opportunity to object as the book or a portion thereof was never offered in evidence.[19]

A formal offer is necessary since judges are required to base their findings of fact and judgment
only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties at the trial. To rule otherwise would deprive the
opposing party of his chance to examine the document and object to its admissibility. The appellate court
will have difficulty reviewing documents not previously scrutinized by the court below.[20] Any evidence
which a party desires to submit to the courts must be offered formally because a judge must base his
findings strictly on the evidence offered by the parties at the trial.[21]
We are not impressed with petitioners argument that he should be held liable only for reckless
imprudence resulting in homicide due to the absence of intent to kill Lucrecio. When death resulted, even
if there was no intent to kill, the crime is homicide, not just physical injuries, since with respect to crimes
of personal violence, the penal law looks particularly to the material results following the unlawful act and
holds the aggressor responsible for all the consequences thereof.[22] Accordingly, Article 4 of the Revised
Penal Code provides:

Art. 4. Criminal liability Criminal liability shall be incurred:

1. By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be
different from that which he intended.

xxxx

Petitioner committed an unlawful act by punching Lucrecio, his uncle who was much older than him, and
even if he did not intend to cause the death of Lucrecio, he must be held guilty beyond reasonable doubt
for killing him pursuant to the above-quoted provision. He who is the cause of the cause is the cause of
the evil caused.[23]

Considering the foregoing discussion, we find that both the trial court and the appellate court correctly
appreciated the evidence presented before them. Both courts did not overlook facts and circumstances
that would warrant a reevaluation of the evidence. Accordingly, there is no reason to digress from the
settled legal principle that the appellate court will generally not disturb the assessment of the trial court
on factual matters considering that the latter as a trier of facts, is in a better position to appreciate the
same.

Further, it is settled that findings of fact of the trial court are accorded greatest respect by the appellate
court absent any abuse of discretion.[24] There being no abuse of discretion in this case, we affirm the
factual findings of the trial court.

Penalty and Damages

The penalty for Homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code is reclusion temporal the range of
which is from 12 years and one day to 20 years. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the penalty
next lower in degree is prision mayor the range of which is from six years and one day to 12 years. In this
case, we find that the mitigating circumstance of no intention to commit so grave a wrong as that
committed, attended the commission of the crime. Thus, the appellate court correctly imposed the
indeterminate penalty of six years and one day of prision mayor, as minimum, to 12 years and one day
of reclusion temporal, as maximum.

As regards the amount of damages, civil indemnity must also be awarded to the heirs of Lucrecio without
need of proof other than the fact that a crime was committed resulting in the death of the victim and that
petitioner was responsible therefor.[25] Accordingly, we award the sum of P50,000.00 in line with current
jurisprudence.[26]

The award of P135,331.00 for the loss of earning capacity was also in order.[27] The prosecution
satisfactorily proved that the victim was earning an annual income of P14,000.00 from the harvest of
pineapples. Besides, the defense no longer impugned this award of the trial court.

However, the other awards of damages must be modified. It is error for the trial court and the appellate
court to award actual damages of P30,000.00 for the expenses incurred for the death of the victim. We
perused the records and did not find evidence to support the plea for actual damages. The expenses
incurred in connection with the death, wake and burial of Lucrecio cannot be sustained without any
tangible document to support such claim. While expenses were incurred in connection with the death of
Lucrecio, actual damages cannot be awarded as they are not supported by receipts.[28]

In lieu of actual damages, the heirs of the victim can still be awarded temperate damages. When pecuniary
loss has been suffered but the amount cannot, from the nature of the case, be proven with certainty,
temperate damages may be recovered. Temperate damages may be allowed in cases where from the
nature of the case, definite proof of pecuniary loss cannot be adduced, although the court is convinced
that the aggrieved party suffered some pecuniary loss.[29] In this regard, the amount of P25,000.00 is in
accordance with recent jurisprudence.[30]

Moral damages was correctly awarded to the heirs of the victim without need of proof other than the fact
that a crime was committed resulting in the death of the victim and that the accused was responsible
therefor.[31] The award of P50,000.00 as moral damages conforms to existing jurisprudence.[32]

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 25069
finding petitioner Roo Seguritan y Jara guilty of homicide and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of six
years and one day of prision mayor as minimum, to 12 years and one day of reclusion temporal as
maximum, and to pay the heirs of Lucrecio Seguritan the amounts of P50,000.00 as moral damages
and P135,331.00 as loss of earning capacity is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that petitioner is
further ordered to pay P25,000.00 as temperate damages in lieu of actual damages, and P50,000.00 as
civil indemnity.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division
CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
People v. Narca, 341 Phil. 713-714 (1997).
[2]
CA rollo, pp. 155-164; penned by Associate Justice Santiago Javier Ranada and concurred in
by Associate Justices Roberto A. Barrios and Mario L. Guaria III.
[3]
Records, pp. 186-194; penned by Judge Rolando R. Velasco.
[4]
Rollo, p. 33.
[5]
CA rollo, pp. 164-175.
[6]
Records, p. 1.

[7]
Id. at 121.
[8]
Id. at 133.
[9]
Id. at 194.
[10]
CA rollo, p. 163.
[11]
Rollo, p. 15.
[12]
TSN, December 15, 1998, p. 32.
[13]
Id. at 31-32.
[14]
Id. at 37-38.
[15]
TSN, December 15, 1998, pp. 41-42.
[16]
Id. at 44-45
[17]
Rollo, p. 21.
[18]
RULES OF COURT, Rule 132, Section 34.
[19]
Candido v. Court of Appeals, 323 Phil. 95, 99 (1996).
[20]
Id. at 100.
[21]
Id.
[22]
United States v. Gloria, 3 Phil. 333, 335 (1904).
[23]
People v. Ural, 155 Phil. 116, 123 (1974).
[24]
People v. San Gabriel, 323 Phil. 102, 108 (1996).
[25]
People v. Diaz, 443 Phil. 67, 90-91 (2003).
[26]
People v. Satonero, G.R. No. 186233, October 2, 2009.
[27]
See People v. Nullan, 365 Phil. 227, 257-258 (1999).
[28]
People v. San Gabriel, supra note 24.
[29]
Canada v. All Commodities Marketing Corp., G.R. No. 146141, October 17, 2008, 569 SCRA
321, 329.
[30]
People v. Bascugin, G.R. No. 184704, June 30, 2009.
[31]
People v. San Gabriel, supra note 24.
[32]
People v. Satonero, supra note 26.

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is
hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
Rollo, pp. 14-37.
[2]
Id. at 164-172; penned by Associate Justice Isaias P. Dicdican and concurred in by Associate
Justices Apolinario D. Bruselas Jr. and Agustin S. Dizon.
[3]
Id. at 137-141; penned by Presiding Commissioner Gerardo C. Nograles and concurred in by
Commissioners Edgardo M. Enerlan and Oscar S. Uy.
[4]
Id. at 214- 216. The complaints were later amended on September 27, 2001, id. at 74-76.
[5]
Voucher covering the payroll for the period November 12-16, 2001, Annex 1 of Respondents
Position Paper, Id. at 96.
[6]
Voucher dated January 4, 2000, Annex 5 of Respondents Position Paper, Id. at 100-102.
[7]
Id. at 105-110.
[8]
Id. at 108-109.
[9]
Id. at 111-114.
[10]
Id. at 115-124.
[11]
Annex 2 of Respondents Memorandum on Appeal, Id. at 131.
[12]
Annex 3 of Respondents Memorandum on Appeal, Id. at 132-135.
[13]
Supra note 3.
[14]
Rollo, p. 141.
[15]
Id. at 142-154.
[16]
Id. at 158.
[17]
Ledesma, Jr. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 174585, October 19, 2007,
537 SCRA 358, 370.
[18]
Leopard Integrated Services, Inc. v. Macalinao, G.R. No. 159808, September 30, 2008, 567
SCRA 192, 200.
[19]
Annex 4 of respondents Position Paper, rollo, p. 99.
[20]
Alonzo v. San Juan, 491 Phil. 232, 244 (2005).
[21]
See RULES OF COURT, Rule 130, Section 43.
[22]
G.R. No. 141371, March 24, 2006, 485 SCRA 262, 272.
[23]
Agabon v. National Labor Relations Commission, 485 Phil. 248, 289 (2004).
[24]
Mantle Trading Services, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 166705, July
28, 2009.
[25]
Aklan v. San Miguel Corporation, G.R. No. 168537, December 11, 2008, 573 SCRA 675, 685.
[26]
Lopez v. Bodega City, G.R. No. 155731, September 3, 2007, 532 SCRA 56, 64.
[27]
V.V. Aldaba Engineering v. Ministry of Labor and Employment, G.R. No. 76925, September 26,
1994, 237 SCRA 31, 38-39.
[28]
CRC Agricultural Trading v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 177664, December
23, 2009.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Baguio City

SECOND DIVISION

TFS, INCORPORATED, G.R. No. 166829


Petitioner,

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus - NACHURA,*
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL
REVENUE, Promulgated:
Respondent. April 19, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:


Only in highly meritorious cases, as in the instant case, may the rules for perfecting an appeal be
brushed aside.

This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeks to set aside the
November 18, 2004[1] Resolution of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) En Banc in C.T.A. EB No. 29 which
dismissed petitioners Petition for Review for having been filed out of time. Also assailed is the January 24,
2005[2] Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration.

Factual Antecedents

Petitioner TFS, Incorporated is a duly organized domestic corporation engaged in the pawnshop
business. On January 15, 2002, petitioner received a Preliminary Assessment Notice (PAN)[3] for deficiency
value added tax (VAT), expanded withholding tax (EWT), and compromise penalty in the amounts
of P11,764,108.74, P183,898.02 and P25,000.00, respectively, for the taxable year 1998. Insisting that
there was no basis for the issuance of PAN, petitioner through a letter[4] dated January 28, 2002 requested
the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to withdraw and set aside the assessments.

In a letter-reply[5] dated February 7, 2002, respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue (CIR)


informed petitioner that a Final Assessment Notice (FAN)[6] was issued on January 25, 2002, and that
petitioner had until February 22, 2002 within which to file a protest letter.

On February 20, 2002, petitioner protested the FAN in a letter[7] dated February 19, 2002.

There being no action taken by the CIR, petitioner filed a Petition for Review[8] with the CTA
on September 11, 2002, docketed as CTA Case No. 6535.

During trial, petitioner offered to compromise and to settle the assessment for deficiency EWT
with the BIR. Hence, on September 24, 2003, it filed a Manifestation and Motion withdrawing its appeal
on the deficiency EWT, leaving only the issue of VAT on pawnshops to be threshed out. Since no
opposition was made by the CIR to the Motion, the same was granted by the CTA on November 4, 2003.

Ruling of the Court of the Tax Appeals


On April 29, 2004, the CTA rendered a Decision[9] upholding the assessment issued against
petitioner in the amount of P11,905,696.32, representing deficiency VAT for the year 1998, inclusive of
25% surcharge and 20% deficiency interest, plus 20% delinquency interest from February 25, 2002 until
full payment, pursuant to Sections 248 and 249(B) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997
(NIRC). The CTA ruled that pawnshops are subject to VAT under Section 108(A) of the NIRC as they are
engaged in the sale of services for a fee, remuneration or consideration.[10]

Aggrieved, petitioner moved for reconsideration[11] but the motion was denied by the CTA in its
Resolution dated July 20, 2004,[12] which was received by petitioner on July 30, 2004.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On August 16, 2004, petitioner filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) a Motion for Extension of
Time to File Petition for Review.[13] On August 24, 2004, it filed a Petition for Review[14] but it was dismissed
by the CA in its Resolution[15] dated August 31, 2004, for lack of jurisdiction in view of the enactment
of Republic Act No. 9282 (RA 9282).[16]
Ruling of the Court of Tax Appeals En Banc

Realizing its error, petitioner filed a Petition for Review[17] with the CTA En Banc on September 16,
2004. The petition, however, was dismissed for having been filed out of time per Resolution
dated November 18, 2004. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration but it was denied in a Resolution
dated January 24, 2005.

Hence, this petition.

Issues

In its Memorandum,[18] petitioner interposes the following issues:

WHETHER THE HONORABLE COURT OF TAX APPEALS EN BANC SHOULD HAVE GIVEN
DUE COURSE TO THE PETITION FOR REVIEW AND NOT STRICTLY APPLIED THE
TECHNICAL RULES OF PROCEDURE TO THE DETRIMENT OF JUSTICE.

WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER IS SUBJECT TO THE 10% VAT.[19]

Petitioners Arguments
Petitioner admits that it failed to timely file its Petition for Review with the proper court
(CTA). However, it attributes the procedural lapse to the inadvertence or honest oversight of its counsel,
who believed that at the time the petition was filed on August 24, 2004, the CA still had jurisdiction since
the rules and regulations to implement the newly enacted RA 9282 had not yet been issued and the
membership of the CTA En Banc was not complete. In view of these circumstances, petitioner implores
us to reverse the dismissal of its petition and consider the timely filing of its petition with the CA, which
previously exercised jurisdiction over appeals from decisions/resolutions of the CTA, as substantial
compliance with the then recently enacted RA 9282.

Petitioner also insists that the substantive merit of its case outweighs the procedural infirmity it
committed. It claims that the deficiency VAT assessment issued by the BIR has no legal basis because
pawnshops are not subject to VAT as they are not included in the enumeration of services under Section
108(A) of the NIRC.

Respondents Arguments

The CIR, on the other hand, maintains that since the petition was filed with the CTA beyond the
reglementary period, the Decision had already attained finality and can no longer be opened for review. As
to the issue of VAT on pawnshops, he opines that petitioners liability is a matter of law; and in the absence
of any provision providing for a tax exemption, petitioners pawnshop business is subject to VAT.

Our Ruling

The petition is meritorious.

Jurisdiction to review decisions or resolutions issued by the Divisions of the CTA is no longer with
the CA but with the CTA En Banc. This rule is embodied in Section 11 of RA 9282, which provides that:
SECTION 11. Section 18 of the same Act is hereby amended as follows:

SEC. 18. Appeal to the Court of Tax Appeals En Banc. No civil proceeding involving
matters arising under the National Internal Revenue Code, the Tariff and Customs Code
or the Local Government Code shall be maintained, except as herein provided, until and
unless an appeal has been previously filed with the CTA and disposed of in accordance
with the provisions of this Act.
A party adversely affected by a resolution of a Division of the CTA on a
motion for reconsideration or new trial, may file a petition for review with the
CTA en banc. (Emphasis supplied)

Procedural rules may be relaxed in the interest of


substantial justice

It is settled that an appeal must be perfected within the reglementary period provided by law;
otherwise, the decision becomes final and executory.[20] However, as in all cases, there are exceptions to
the strict application of the rules for perfecting an appeal.[21]
We are aware of our rulings in Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority v. Mangubat[22] and
in Alfonso v. Sps. Andres,[23] wherein we excused the late filing of the notices of appeal because at the
time the said notices of appeal were filed, the new rules[24] applicable therein had just been recently
issued. We noted that judges and lawyers need time to familiarize themselves with recent rules.

However, in Cuevas v. Bais Steel Corporation[25] we found that the relaxation of rules was
unwarranted because the delay incurred therein was inexcusable. The subject SC Circular 39-98 therein
took effect on September 1, 1998, but the petitioners therein filed their petition for certiorari five months
after the circular took effect.

In the instant case, RA 9282 took effect on April 23, 2004, while petitioner
filed its Petition for Review on Certiorari with the CA on August 24, 2004, or four months after the
effectivity of the law. By then, petitioners counsel should have been aware of and familiar with the changes
introduced by RA 9282. Thus, we find petitioners argument on the newness of RA 9282 a bit of a stretch.

Petitioner likewise cannot validly claim that its erroneous filing of the petition with the CA was
justified by the absence of the CTA rules and regulations and the incomplete membership of the CTA En
Banc as these did not defer the effectivity[26] and implementation of RA 9282. In fact, under Section 2 of
RA 9282,[27] the presence of four justices already constitutes a quorum for En Banc sessions and the
affirmative votes of four members of the CTA En Banc are sufficient to render judgment.[28] Thus, to us,
the petitioners excuse of inadvertence or honest oversight of counsel deserves scant consideration.

However, we will overlook this procedural lapse in the interest of substantial justice. Although a
client is bound by the acts of his counsel, including the latters mistakes and negligence, a departure from
this rule is warranted where such mistake or neglect would result in serious injustice to the
client.[29] Procedural rules may thus be relaxed for persuasive reasons to relieve a litigant of an injustice
not commensurate with his failure to comply with the prescribed procedure.[30] Such is the situation in this
case.

Imposition of VAT on pawnshops for the tax years


1996 to 2002 was deferred

Petitioner disputes the assessment made by the BIR for VAT deficiency in the amount
of P11,905,696.32 for taxable year 1998 on the ground that pawnshops are not included in the coverage
of VAT.

We agree.

In First Planters Pawnshop, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue,[31] we ruled that:

x x x Since petitioner is a non-bank financial intermediary, it is subject to 10%


VAT for the tax years 1996 to 2002; however, with the levy, assessment and
collection of VAT from non-bank financial intermediaries being specifically
deferred by law, then petitioner is not liable for VAT during these tax years. But
with the full implementation of the VAT system on non-bank financial intermediaries
starting January 1, 2003, petitioner is liable for 10% VAT for said tax year. And beginning
2004 up to the present, by virtue of R.A. No. 9238, petitioner is no longer liable for VAT
but it is subject to percentage tax on gross receipts from 0% to 5%, as the case may
be. (Emphasis in the original text)

Guided by the foregoing, petitioner is not liable for VAT for the year 1998. Consequently, the VAT
deficiency assessment issued by the BIR against petitioner has no legal basis and must therefore be
cancelled. In the same vein, the imposition of surcharge and interest must be deleted.[32]

In fine, although strict compliance with the rules for perfecting an appeal is indispensable for the
prevention of needless delays and for the orderly and expeditious dispatch of judicial business, strong
compelling reasons such as serving the ends of justice and preventing a grave miscarriage may
nevertheless warrant the suspension of the rules.[33] In the instant case, we are constrained to disregard
procedural rules because we cannot in conscience allow the government to collect deficiency VAT from
petitioner considering that the government has no right at all to collect or to receive the same. Besides,
dismissing this case on a mere technicality would lead to the unjust enrichment of the government at the
expense of petitioner, which we cannot permit.Technicalities should never be used as a shield to
perpetrate or commit an injustice.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed November 18, 2004 Resolution of the Court of
Tax Appeals En Banc in C.T.A. EB No. 29 which dismissed petitioners Petition for Review for having been
filed out of time, and the January 24, 2005 Resolution which denied the motion for reconsideration, are
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The assessment for deficiency Value Added Tax for the taxable
year 1998, including surcharges, deficiency interest and delinquency interest, are
hereby CANCELLED and SET ASIDE.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice Associate Justice


JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was

assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson, Second Division


CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson's attestation, it is

hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the

case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO

Chief Justice

*
In lieu of Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion, per Raffle dated April 12, 2010.
[1]
Rollo, p. 50.
[2]
Id. at 51-54.
[3]
Id. at 82-83.
[4]
Id. at 84-87.
[5]
Id. at 88.
[6]
Id. at 89-94.
[7]
Id. at 95-98.
[8]
Id. at 72-81.
[9]
Id. at 100-111.
[10]
Id. at 107.
[11]
Id. at 112-125.
[12]
Id. at 126.
[13]
Id. at 128-132.
[14]
Id. at 134-160.
[15]
Id. at 161.
[16]
An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), Elevating its Rank to the
Level of a Collegiate Court with Special Jurisdiction and Enlarging its Membership, Amending
for the Purpose Sections of Republic Act No. 1125, otherwise known as the Law Creating the
Court of Tax Appeals, and for Other Purposes.
[17]
Rollo, pp.162-189.
[18]
Id. at 268-326.
[19]
Id. at 274.
[20]
Nationwide Security and Allied Services, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 155844, July 14,
2008, 558 SCRA 148, 155-156.
[21]
Monreal v. Court of Appeals, 204 Phil. 395, 401 (1982).
[22]
371 Phil. 393, 398-399 (1999).
[23]
439 Phil. 298, 306-307 (2002).
[24]
On the alternative modes of service of pleading and the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure,
respectively.
[25]
439 Phil. 793, 805-806 (2002).
[26]
SECTION 19. Effectivity Clause. This Act shall take effect after fifteen (15) days following its
publication in at least two newspapers of general circulation.
[27]
Now Amended by RA 9503, An Act Enlarging the Organizational Structure of the Court of Tax
Appeals, Amending for the Purpose Certain Sections of the Law Creating the Court of Tax
Appeals, and For Other Purposes, Approved June 12, 2008.
[28]
Section 2 of the same Act is hereby amended to read as follows:
SEC. 2. Sitting En Banc or Division; Quorum; Proceedings. The CTA may sit en banc or in two (2)
Divisions, each Division consisting of three (3) Justices.
Four (4) Justices shall constitute a quorum for sessions en banc and two (2) Justices for
sessions of a Division: Provided, That when the required quorum cannot be constituted due
to any vacancy, disqualification, inhibition, disability, or any other lawful cause, the Presiding
Justice shall designate any Justice of other Divisions of the Court to sit temporarily therein.
The affirmative votes of four (4) members of the Court en banc or two (2) members of a
Division, as the case may be, shall be necessary for the rendition of a decision or resolution.
[29]
Meneses v. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, G.R. No. 156304, October 23, 2006, 505 SCRA 90,
97-98.
[30]
Spouses Ello v. Court of Appeals, 499 Phil. 398, 411 (2005), citing Sebastian v. Morales, 445
Phil. 595, 605 (2003).
[31]
G.R. No. 174134, July 30, 2008, 560 SCRA 606, 621.
[32]
See Tambunting Pawnshop, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No.
179085, January 21, 2010.
[33]
Villanueva v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 99357, January 27, 1992, 205 SCRA 537, 545.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Baguio City
SECOND DIVISION

REGIONAL AGRARIAN REFORM G.R. No. 165155


ADJUDICATION BOARD,
Office of the Regional Adjudicator,
San Fernando, Pampanga,
CECILIA MANIEGO, JOSE
BAUTISTA, ELIZA PACHECO,
JUANITO FAJARDO, MARIO
PACHECO, MARIANO
MANANGHAYA as heir of Antonio
Mananghaya, MARCIANO
NATIVIDAD, ROBERTO
BERNARDO in his personal capacity
and as heir of Pedro Bernardo,
EDILBERTO NATIVIDAD, as heir of Present:
Ismael Natividad, JEFFREY DIAZ as
heir of Jovita R. Diaz, RODOLFO
DIMAAPI, ALBERTO ENRIQUEZ, CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
BENIGNO CABINGAO, MARIO BRION,
GALVEZ, DELFIN SACDALAN, as DEL CASTILLO,
heir of Avelino Santos, ABAD, and
Petitioners,[1] PEREZ, JJ.

- versus -

COURT OF APPEALS,
VERONICA R. GONZALES,
DEOGRACIAS REYES, LEONARDO
REYES, ISABELITA BALATBAT,
MANUELA REYES, WILHELMINA
ALMERO, ARTURO REYES,
EPIFANIO REYES, GLORIA
REYES, MARIO REYES, TERESITA
BALATBAT, LYDIA BALATBAT,
FERNANDO BALATBAT, VICENTE
BALATBAT, GILBERTO REYES,
RENE REYES, EMILIA DUNGO,
BRENDA CANCIO, VICTOR REYES,
and EDGARDO REYES, represented
by VERONICA R. GONZALES, for
herself and as attorney-in-fact, Promulgated:
Respondents. April 13, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Rules of procedure are tools to facilitate a fair and orderly conduct of proceedings. Strict adherence thereto
must not get in the way of achieving substantial justice. So long as their purpose is sufficiently met and
no violation of due process and fair play takes place, the rules should be liberally construed, especially in
agrarian cases.
This Petition for Certiorari[2] assails the June 9, 2004 Decision[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-
G.R. SP No. 79304 which granted the Petition for Certiorari of respondents and held that petitioners
notices of appeal are mere scrap of paper for failure to specify the ground for the appeal; and for being
forged. Also assailed is the August 31, 2004 Resolution[4] denying petitioners motion for
reconsideration. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is GRANTED and the Notices of


Appeal filed by the private respondents before the public respondent are hereby decreed
without legal effect.

SO ORDERED.[5]

Factual Antecedents

Respondents are co-owners of several parcels of land primarily devoted to rice production consisting of
58.8448 hectares, located at Sta. Barbara, Baliuag, Bulacan and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title
(TCT) Nos. T-158564, T-215772, T-215776, T-215777, T 215775. Petitioners are in actual possession of
the said land as tillers thereof. According to respondents, petitioners are agricultural lessees with the
obligation to pay annual lease rentals. On the other hand, petitioners aver that they are farmer-
beneficiaries under Presidential Decree 27, who have been granted Certificates of Land Transfer (CLTs)
and (unregistered) emancipation patents (EPs).

On March 6, 2002, respondents filed a complaint for ejectment against petitioners for non-
payment of rentals before the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB), Office of the
Regional Adjudicator, San Fernando, Pampanga. They alleged that petitioners failed to pay and remit the
agreed lease rentals to respondents since 1994, or for a period of eight years. The case was docketed as
DARAB Case No. R-03-02-0213-Bul02.
Among the named defendants were Avelino Santos (Avelino) and Pedro Bernardo (Pedro), who were
already deceased at the time of the filing of the complaint. Per the death certificates presented before the
Regional Adjudicator, Avelino died on December 29, 1997, while Pedro passed away on July 25,
1999. Thus, when the complaint for ejectment was filed in 2002, the actual tillers on the land were already
the successors-in-interest of Avelino and Pedro, namely Delfin Sacdalan (Delfin) and Roberto Bernardo
(Roberto), respectively. Despite such disclosure, no amendment to implead the real parties-in-interest was
made to the complaint. Instead on May 9, 2002, the Regional Adjudicator ordered the respective legal
heirs to substitute the named decedents in the case. For some reason, no formal substitution of party
litigants took place either. However, it is clear from the records, and neither party disputes, that
notwithstanding the non-amendment of the complaint and the absence of a formal substitution, the heirs
of Avelino and Pedro appeared and participated in the proceedings below. The position papers of
respondents[6]as well as petitioners[7] both named Delfin and Roberto as the heirs of the two decedents
and parties to the case.[8] Thus, the records support a conclusion that the respondents acquiesced to the
participation of the said heirs as the real parties-in-interest.

Rulings of the Regional Adjudicator


a) Decision dated January 23, 2003

After the submission of the parties respective position papers, Regional Adjudicator Fe Arche Manalang
(Manalang) issued a Decision[9] dated January 23, 2003 in favor of respondents, the dispositive portion of
which states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Severing and extinguishing the existing tenancy/agricultural


leasehold relationship existing between the plaintiffs-landowners and the
defendants over the landholdings described in paragraph 2 of the complaint.

2. Directing the defendants and all persons claiming rights under


them to:

a. Vacate the landholdings in question and peacefully surrender


possession thereof to the plaintiffs;

b. Remove at their own expense all structures and other improvements


introduced thereon if any;

c. Continue to pay to the plaintiffs the annual leasehold rentals due


thereon until the latter are fully restored to the premises in question.
3. Directing the said defendants to pay to the plaintiffs, jointly and
severally the amount of P300,000.00 as and by way of liquidated damages;

4. Denying all other claims for lack of basis; and


5. Without pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
The Decision explained that with the exemption of the subject properties from the coverage of the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), as evidenced by the December 18, 1992 Order issued
by Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Regional Director Antonio M. Nuesa (which also directed the
cancellation of the issued CLTs/EPs in the proper forum), petitioners could only retain their status as
agricultural lessees if they complied with their statutory obligations to pay the required leasehold rentals
when they fell due. Since all the petitioners failed to prove that they complied with their rental obligations
to respondents since 1994, the Regional Adjudicator held that they could no longer invoke their right to
security of tenure.

Aggrieved by the adverse Decision, petitioners filed two separate notices of appeal; one was filed on
February 28, 2003[10] by petitioners Marciano Natividad, Alberto Enriquez, Benigno Cabingao, and Rodolfo
Dimaapi (first group); while the other was filed on March 5, 2003 by petitioners Cecilia Maniego, Jose
Bautista, Eliza Pacheco, Roberto Bernardo, Ismael Natividad,[11] Juanito Fajardo, Antonio
Mananghaya, [12]
Jovita R. Diaz, [13]
Mario Pacheco, Emilio Peralta, Mario Galvez, and the two
decedents Pedro and Avelino (second group).[14] Both notices of appeal were similarly worded thus:

DEFENDANTS, unto this Honorable Board, hereby serve notice that they are
appealing the decision rendered in the above-entitled case, which was received
on February 18, 2003 to the DARAB, Central Office at Diliman, Quezon City on the
grounds of question of law and fact.

Unlike their previous pleadings, which were all signed by Atty. Jaime G. Mena (Atty. Mena), petitioners
notices of appeal were not signed by a lawyer.

On March 6, 2003, respondents filed a motion to dismiss the appeal[15] and an ex-parte motion for the
issuance of a writ of execution and/or partial implementation of the decision against non-appealing
defendants.[16] They presented three grounds for the dismissal of the appeal: first, the two notices did not
state the grounds relied upon for the appeal; second, the March 5, 2003 Notice of Appeal was filed beyond
the reglementary period; third, the March 5, 2003 Notice of Appeal contained the forged signatures of the
deceased defendants Avelino and Pedro.
b) May 6, 2003 Order

On May 6, 2003, the Regional Adjudicator issued an Order[17] giving due course to the appeal, except with
respect to the decedents Avelino and Pedro, whose signatures were held to be falsified. Thus, a writ of
execution was issued against the non-appealing defendants and the deceased defendants.

The petitioners received the above Order only on May 8, 2003, together with the writ of
execution,[18] which was promptly implemented on the same day and on May 10, 2003.[19]

Dissatisfied with the May 6, 2003 Order of the Regional Adjudicator, both the respondents and the
petitioners whose appeal was disallowed, moved for reconsideration of the order. Respondents
reiterated[20] that the Regional Adjudicator should not have given due course to the appeal because it did
not adhere strictly with Section 2, Rule XIII of the DARAB Rules of Procedure; and that it was a dilatory
or frivolous appeal that deserved outright dismissal.

On the other hand, the petitioners who were included in the writ of execution, including the heirs
of Avelino and Pedro, now represented by the DAR-Legal Counsel Atty. Dauphine B. Go,[21] argued that
the May 6, 2003 Order was hastily executed, without giving them an opportunity to question its
correctness. They pointed out that Pedros signature was not forged, since what appears thereon is actually
the name of his widow, Pilar Bernardo (Pilar).[22] As for the signature of Avelino, which was executed by
his widow, Jovita Santos (Jovita), the same was an innocent error since she did not know which name to
write, having been unaided by counsel. Jovita maintained that she simply thought that writing her
deceased husbands name on the Notice of Appeal would relay the intention of the heirs to appeal the
adverse decision.[23]

A hearing was conducted on July 3, 2003,[24] where the heirs of Avelino and Pedro personally
appeared to explain the alleged falsification of signatures. Pilar, the widow of Pedro, explained that she
did not sign the Notice of Appeal herself, but that she allowed her son Roberto to sign it for her. Roberto
confirmed his mothers testimony and admitted that he personally signed all documents and pleadings on
behalf of his mother, Pilar. Their testimonies are verified by the records. As for Jovita, widow of Avelino,
she admits signing her deceased husbands name in all pleadings. All of them explained that their only
intention was to sign the pleadings on behalf of their deceased relatives so as to be able to participate in
the proceedings.

c) August 5, 2003 Order


Based on these testimonies, Regional Adjudicator Manalang allowed the appeal of the heirs of the two
decedents and nullified the writ of execution as regards them in an Order dated August 5, 2003.[25] It
resolved the two motions in this wise:

Plaintiffs in their first-cited motion lightly brushed off the defendants Notice of
Appeal as a mere scrap of paper but [do] not elaborate how they arrived at this
conclusion, apart from a general statement that the same [do] not assign any specific
errors in the findings of fact and conclusions of law made in the decision being challenged.

While this may be so, it is not for this Office to pass on the merits of the appeal. All
that it is called upon to do is to determine whether the same was seasonably filed and
perfected by the appellants within the prescribed reglementary period. With an affirmative
finding on this aspect, nothing more remains to be done except to allow the appeal to run
its full course.

xxxx

Evaluating the parties conflicting claims x x x this Office finds for the plaintiffs x x
x. However, with the voluntary confessions of Pilar Bernardo and Jovita Santos x x x who
are the widows of the deceased tenants Pedro Bernardo and Avelino Santos that they
really mean to appeal the adverse decision affecting their late spouses farmholdings, any
perceived legal defect in the manner of affixing their signatures on the questioned Notices
of Appeal must give way to the greater demands of justice and equity. x x x

xxxx

FOREGOING premises considered, Order is hereby issued:

1. Denying the plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration filed on May 13,


2003;

2. Noting without action the same plaintiffs Motion for Execution Pending
Appeal filed on May 14, 2003;

3. Giving due course to the Motion for Reconsideration (from the Order
of May 6, 2003 and Writ of Execution dated May 8, 2003) filed by the Heirs
of Pedro Bernardo, Heirs of Avelino Santos, and of Ismael Natividad[26] and
thereby allowing their appeal to the exclusion of the other defendants-
movants;

4. Motu proprio quashing the Writ of Execution issued on May 8, 2003


directed against aforenamed defendants and thereby nullifying all
proceedings undertaken in connection therewith.

xxxx
SO ORDERED.
Respondents moved for another reconsideration on August 14, 2003.[27] This was denied in the November
13, 2003 Order,[28] which also ordered the sheriff to restore the farmholdings of the heirs of Avelino and
Pedro in view of the quashal of the writ of execution as to the said individuals. Respondents sought another
reconsideration,[29] which was again denied on January 9, 2004.[30]

Respondents thus filed a petition for certiorari before the CA. They argued that the DARAB no
longer had any jurisdiction to reverse the portion of its Decision, which had already been duly executed
upon the authority of a writ issued on May 6, 2003. They also insisted that both notices of appeal were
infirm for failure to state the grounds for an appeal and for containing forged signatures.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The appellate court found merit in respondents petition.

It held that the Notice of Appeal of the second group bearing the signatures of deceased Avelino
and Pedro was a product of forgery, and thus had no legal effect. The appellate court brushed aside the
heirs explanations that they merely signed the decedents names to show their intention to appeal
the Regional Adjudicators decision. It found their intentions immaterial and irrelevant to the nullity of a
forged instrument.

Further, it found the two Notices of Appeal lodged by the first and second groups to be mere
scraps of paper as they failed to comply with the mandate of Section 2, Rule XIII of the 1997 DARAB New
Rules of Procedure (actually, it should have been the 1994 DARAB New Rules of Procedure[31]). According
to the CA, the Notices of Appeal failed to specifically allege the grounds relied upon for the appeal. The
statement that they are appealing on questions of fact and law was held to be insufficient because an
appeal, being a mere statutory privilege, must be exercised in the manner prescribed by the provisions of
law authorizing it.

Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration[32] was denied. Hence, this petition seeking a review of the Decision
dated June 9, 2004 of the CA.

Issue

The issues raised by both parties are as follows:


(1) Whether the Notices of Appeal dated February 28, 2003 and March 3, 2003 are mere
scraps of paper for failure to state the grounds relied upon for an appeal; and

(2) Whether the Notice of Appeal dated March 3, 2003 is null and void for containing two
falsified signatures.

Petitioners Arguments

Petitioners pray that their Notices of Appeal to the DARAB be given due course on the ground that
they have substantially complied with the rules as set forth in Section 2, Rule XIII of the 1994 DARAB New
Rules of Procedure. They posit that their appeal on questions of fact and law should suffice, even if they
omitted the phrase which if not corrected would cause grave irreparable damage and injury to them. They
argue that the stringent application of the rules denied them substantial justice.

Petitioners also argue that the complaint itself was filed against their deceased predecessors-in-
interest. Hence, if technicality is to be followed, the complaint should have been dismissed as to the
deceased defendants. But the case continued and they, as heirs, participated in the proceedings. Thus
when they signed the Notice of Appeal, their intent was not to defraud but only to continue their quest
for justice.

Respondents Arguments

Respondents reiterate that the notices of appeal are mere scraps of paper for failure to state the grounds
relied upon for the appeal and for containing forged signatures. They insist that giving effect to the Notice
of Appeal would countenance an act which is criminal in nature. Respondents maintain that there should
be strict adherence to the technical rules of procedure because the DARAB rules frown upon frivolous and
dilatory appeals.

Our Ruling
The petition is meritorious. The defects found in the two notices of appeal are not of such nature that
would cause a denial of the right to appeal. Placed in their proper factual context, the defects are not only
excusable but also inconsequential.

Alleged failure to specify grounds for appeal


There is nothing sacred about the forms of pleadings or processes, their sole purpose being to facilitate
the application of justice to the rival claims of contending parties. Hence, pleadings as well as
procedural rules should be construed liberally. Dismissal of appeals purely on technical grounds is
frowned upon because rules of procedure should not be applied to override substantial
justice. Courts must proceed with caution so as not to deprive a party of statutory appeal; they
must ensure that all litigants are granted the amplest opportunity for the proper and just
ventilation of their causes, free from technical constraints.[33] If the foregoing tenets are followed
in a civil case, their application is made more imperative in an agrarian case where the rules
themselves provide for liberal construction, thus:

Rule I
GENERAL PROVISIONS

Section 2. Construction. These Rules shall be liberally construed to carry out the
objectives of the agrarian reform program and to promote just, expeditious, and
inexpensive adjudication and settlement of agrarian cases, disputes or controversies.

xxxx

Section 3. Technical Rules Not Applicable. The Board and its Regional and Provincial
Adjudicators shall not be bound by technical rules of procedure and evidence as
prescribed in the Rules of Court, but shall proceed to hear and decide all agrarian
cases, disputes or controversies in a most expeditious manner, employing all
reasonable means to ascertain the facts of every case in accordance with justice and
equity.

xxxx

Rule VIII
PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE ADJUDICATORS
AND THE BOARD

Section 1. Nature of Proceedings. The proceedings before the Board or its


Adjudicators shall be non-litigious in nature. Subject to the essential requirements of
due process, the technicalities of law and procedure and the rules governing the
admissibility and sufficiency of evidence obtained in the courts of law shall not apply.
x x x[34]
Guided by the foregoing principles, we find that the Notices of Appeal substantially complied with
all that is required under the 1994 DARAB Rules. The following provisions are instructive in making this
conclusion:
Rule XIII
APPEALS

Section 1. Appeal to the Board. a) An appeal may be taken from an order,


resolution or decision of the Adjudicator to the Board by either of the parties or both,
orally or in writing, within a period of fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the order,
resolution or decision appealed from, and serving a copy thereof on the adverse party, if
the appeal is in writing.

b) An oral appeal shall be reduced into writing by the Adjudicator to be signed by


the appellant, and a copy thereof shall be served upon the adverse party within ten (10)
days from the taking of the oral appeal.

Section 2. Grounds. The aggrieved party may appeal to the Board from a final
order, resolution or decision of the Adjudicator on any of the following grounds:

a) That errors in the findings of fact or conclusions of laws were


committed which, if not corrected, would cause grave and irreparable
damage and injury to the appellant;

b) That there is a grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Adjudicator;


or

c) That the order, resolution or decision is obtained through fraud or


coercion.

xxxx

Section 5. Requisites and Perfection of the Appeal. a) The Notice of Appeal shall
be filed within the reglementary period as provided for in Section 1 of this Rule. It shall
state the date when the appellant received the order or judgment appealed from and the
proof of service of the notice to the adverse party; and

b) An appeal fee of Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00) shall be paid by the appellant
within the reglementary period to the DAR Cashier where the Office of the Adjudicators
is situated. x x x

Non-compliance with the above-mentioned requisites shall be a ground for


dismissal of the appeal.

Both Notices of Appeal stated that the petitioners were appealing the decision on the grounds
of questions of fact and of law, which we find sufficient statement of the ground for appeal under Section
2(a), Rule XIII of the DARAB Rules. While the notices omitted to state that the decision would cause grave
and irreparable damage and injury to the appellant, we find such punctilious fidelity to the language of
the DARAB Rules unnecessary. Surely by appealing the Decision of the Regional Adjudicator, the
petitioners were already manifesting that they will be damaged by the assailed decision. Requiring a literal
application of the rules when its purpose has already been served is oppressive superfluity.

It must be stressed that the purpose of the notice of appeal is not to detail ones objections
regarding the appealed decision; that is the purpose of the appellants memorandum.[35] In the context of
a DARAB case, the notice of appeal serves only to inform the tribunal or officer that rendered the appealed
decision (i.e., the Regional Adjudicator) of the timeliness of the appeal and of the general reason for the
appeal, and to prepare the records thereof for transmission to the appellate body (i.e., the
DARAB). Petitioners Notices of Appeal contain everything that is necessary to serve these purposes.

Another important consideration is the fact that petitioners were obviously not assisted by counsel
in the filing of the Notices of Appeal. Only the parties were signatories thereto; Atty. Menas signature was
missing, which gives credence to petitioners assertion that they had already terminated the services of
their counsel at that time. Their new counsel, Atty. Dauphine B. Go, DAR-Legal Counsel, entered her
appearance only on March 13, 2003, or several days after the Notices of Appeal were filed.[36]

The Regional Adjudicator is also correct when she ruled that she has no power to determine if the
appeal is frivolous and intended merely for delay. Such matters are for the appellate body to determine
after it has studied the appellants brief or the appeal memorandum. The body which rendered the
appealed decision should not pass upon the question of whether the appeal was taken manifestly for
delay because such determination belongs to the appellate body.[37] For the lower body to do so would
constitute a review of its own judgment and a mockery of the appellate process. This principle is applicable
to agrarian disputes by virtue of Section 8, Rule XIII of the DARAB Rules which states that the Board (not
the Regional Adjudicator) has the power to impose reasonable penalties, including fine or censure, on
parties who file frivolous or dilatory appeals. The implication is that since the Board is the one which has
the power to punish, it is also the one which has the power to decide if there has been a violation. The
Regional Adjudicator has no such power. She must allow the appeal if it is timely and compliant with the
reglementary requirements. It has been held that when an appeal is filed on time, the approval of a notice
of appeal is a ministerial duty of the court or tribunal which rendered the decision.[38]

Effect of forgery on the March 5, 2003 Notice of Appeal

Respondents claim, and the CA has ruled, that the March 5, 2003 Notice of Appeal (filed by the second
group) was a forgery and thus void, because it bore signatures above the names of the deceased Avelino
and Pedro, which were obviously not written by the decedents themselves.
First of all, we have to point out that the confusion in this case was brought about by respondents
themselves when they included in their complaint two defendants who were already dead. Instead of
impleading the decedents heirs and current occupants of the landholding, respondents filed their
complaint against the decedents, contrary to the following provision of the 1994 DARAB Rules of
Procedure:
RULE V
PARTIES, CAPTION AND SERVICE OF PLEADINGS

SECTION 1. Parties in Interest. Every agrarian case must be initiated and defended in
the name of the real party in interest. x x x

A real party in interest is defined as the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in
the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of a suit.[39] The real parties in interest, at the time the complaint
was filed, were no longer the decedents Avelino and Pedro, but rather their respective heirs who are
entitled to succeed to their rights (whether as agricultural lessees or as farmers-beneficiaries) under our
agrarian laws.[40] They are the ones who, as heirs of the decedents and actual tillers, stand to be removed
from the landholding and made to pay back rentals to respondents if the complaint is sustained.

Since respondents failed to correct their error (they did not amend the erroneous caption of their
complaint to include the real parties-in-interest), they cannot be insulated from the confusion which it
engendered in the proceedings below. But at any rate, notwithstanding the erroneous caption and the
absence of a formal substitution of parties, jurisdiction was acquired over the heirs of Avelino and Pedro
who voluntarily participated in the proceedings below. This Court has ruled that formal substitution of
parties is not necessary when the heirs themselves voluntarily appeared, participated, and presented
evidence during the proceedings.[41]

Going now to the alleged forgery, it is clear from the records that there was never an instant when
the respondents (and the Regional Adjudicator) were deceived or made to believe that Avelino and Pedro
were still alive and participating in the proceedings below. In fact, respondents were clearly aware that
the two were already deceased such that they even indicated the names of the respective heirs in their
position paper before the Regional Adjudicator:

Plaintiffs are the agricultural lessors of the following tenant-lessees in the subject
landholding primarily devoted to rice production, namely: x x x Pedro Bernardo
(deceased), substituted by Roberto Bernardo, Antonio Mananghaya (deceased)
substituted by Mariano, Faustino, and Tranquilino all surnamed Mananghaya, x x x Avelino
Santos (deceased) substituted by Delfin Sacdalan x x x.[42]
Respondents also never questioned the appearance and participation of the heirs Roberto and Delfin in
the proceedings below. The parties, as well as the Regional Adjudicator, were all aware of the death of
Avelino and Pedro, and of the fact that the complaint (and its corresponding prayer for ejectment) is now
directed against their heirs.

Therefore, it is unquestionable that when the heirs of Avelino and Pedro signed the Notice of Appeal, they
did not intend, and could not have intended, to visit fraud upon the proceedings.Indeed, any intention to
mislead is simply negated by their ready admission and participation in the proceedings as heirs of Avelino
and Pedro. Thus, there can be no deception or prejudice, as there were prior repeated disclosures that
the named defendants were already dead.

Respondents insist that allowing the appeal would condone an act which is criminal in nature. We
do not agree. Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) provides that malice or criminal intent (dolo) is an
essential requisite of all crimes and offenses defined therein.[43] The circumstances narrated above do not
indicate the presence of dolo. In this regard, it should be noted that the heirs who signed the Notice of
Appeal are lay persons unfamiliar with the technical requirements of procedure and pleadings. This
unfamiliarity, compounded by the absence of legal counsel, appears to have caused the imperfections in
their signing of the Notice of Appeal. We do not see any criminal intent motivating them.

Moreover, in cases of falsification of public documents, such as documents introduced in judicial


proceedings, the change in the public document must be such as to affect the integrityof the same
or change the effects which it would otherwise produce; for, unless that happens, there could not exist
the essential element of the intent to commit the crime, which is required by Article 3 of the Penal
Code.[44] In the instant case, given the heirs admissions contained in several pleadings that Avelino and
Pedro are already deceased and their submission to the jurisdiction of the Regional Adjudicator as the
successors-in-interest of the decedents, the effect would be the same if the heirs did not sign the
decedents names but their own names on the appeal. As the recognized real parties in interest, the case
actually proceeded against the heirs and the judgment rendered was executed against them. It was thus
unnecessary for the heirs to sign the decedents names when their own names, as the real parties in
interest, would have served the same purpose just as effectively.

Given the foregoing circumstances, we conclude that the unfortunate matter of signing the decedents
names in the Notice of Appeal is an innocent and harmless error on the part of the heirs.
Respondents own procedural errors

At this juncture, we must point out that while respondents bewail petitioners lack of strict adherence to
procedural rules, they also failed to observe some rules. It is evident from the records that respondents
filed two motions for reconsideration after the August 5, 2003 Order of the Regional Adjudicator. This is
prohibited under Section 12, Rule VIII of DARAB Rules, which provides that only one motion for
reconsideration shall be allowed.
Moreover, respondents failed to exhaust administrative remedies[45] when they filed their petition
for certiorari before the CA, instead of the Board.[46] The DARAB Rules state that:

Rule XIV
JUDICIAL REVIEW

Section 1. Certiorari to the Court of Appeals. Any decision, order, resolution, award or
ruling of the Board on any agrarian dispute or on any matter pertaining to the application,
implementation, enforcement, interpretation of agrarian reform laws or rules and
regulations promulgated thereunder, may be brought within fifteen (15) days from receipt
of a copy thereof, to the Court of Appeals by certiorari.

An aggrieved party can only resort to judicial review after it has invoked the authority of the Board. Judicial
review is not provided for orders, rulings, and decisions of adjudicators. It is stated in Section 1, Rule II
that the Board has primary and exclusive, original and appellate jurisdiction over agrarian disputes
involving agrarian laws and their implementing rules and regulations.If respondents were strict adherents
to procedural rules, they should have followed Section 2(b) of Rule XIII which provides for an appeal to
the Board on the ground of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the adjudicator.

These matters, while not raised by the parties, are important considerations in resolving the case where
one party laments that she is prejudiced by the leniency that is afforded to the other party. It should be
made clear that there was no partiality or undue advantage given to petitioners that had not likewise been
enjoyed by respondents.

Allegation that the basis for the Regional Adjudicators


Decision is an utter fabrication

Petitioners also raise for the first time in the entire proceedings of this case that respondents had
presented to the Regional Adjudicator an entirely spurious and fabricated DAR Order exempting
respondents landholdings from the coverage of CARP. It will be recalled that the Regional Adjudicators
decision below is based on the assumption that respondents landholdings are exempt from CARP
coverage, hence the obligation on the part of petitioners to pay lease rentals.

Petitioners maintain that they only discovered the spurious nature of the exemption order during
the pendency of their appeal to this Court. They presented several certificates from various DAR offices
stating that the latter have no record of the said exemption order in favor of respondents. If such
exemption order is indeed fabricated, their possession of CLTs and EPs should be respected, thus they
should be held under no obligation to pay rentals to respondents. Thus, they seek the nullification of the
exemption order on the ground that it is counterfeit.

On the other hand, respondents assert that the validity of the exemption order had already been
settled in the annulment case filed by petitioners against respondents in 1994, docketed as DARAB Case
No. 602-B-94. They likewise maintain that the issue involves factual matters which are not within the
province of the Supreme Court.

DARAB Case No. 602-B 94 is a complaint for annulment of the regional directors order, which granted
respondents petition for the exemption of their landholdings from the coverage of the CARP. In that case,
petitioners assailed the validity of the order on the ground that they were not given an opportunity to
present controverting evidence and that the title of petitioners to the land was not registered within the
period prescribed by law.

Their complaint was dismissed on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. The provincial adjudicator, as later
affirmed by the DARAB[47] and the CA,[48] ruled that only the Agrarian Reform Secretary has appellate
jurisdiction over the exemption orders issued by a regional director.[49] Petitioners filed a petition for review
before this Court but it was not timely filed. Hence, a resolution was issued where the case was deemed
closed and terminated. Entry of judgment was made on September 6, 2002.

Contrary to respondents arguments, there was never any ruling regarding the validity or authenticity of
the exemption order. What was ruled upon, and became final, was that the exemption order
cannot be reviewed by the provincial adjudicator or DARAB since exclusive appellate jurisdiction
rests in the Office of the DAR Secretary. Thus, it appears that petitioners right to question
the authenticity of the exemption order in the proper forum has not yet been foreclosed.

The instant case, however, is not the proper place to bring the issue of authenticity.
Exemption from the comprehensive agrarian reform law is an administrative matter the primary
jurisdiction over which has been lodged with the DAR Secretary.[50] Moreover, the issue of authenticity is
entirely factual.[51] Since this was never raised below, we have no basis on record to rule on the authenticity
of the exemption order.

A final note. After the decision was rendered by the CA, the record shows that several withdrawals of
appeal were allegedly filed with the Office of the Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudicator. This new
development, however, was not raised by the parties in their memoranda before the Court. For this reason
and because of the necessity of verifying the authenticity, voluntariness, and the personalities of the
parties that signed the withdrawals of appeal, the Court deems it prudent to leave the matter for the
Board that would hear the appeal.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED and the assailed June 9, 2004 Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 79304, which gave no legal effect to petitioners Notices of Appeal, is
hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The August 5, 2003 Order of the Regional Adjudicator giving due
course to the two Notices of Appeal is REINSTATED. Let the records of the case be transmitted forthwith
to the Adjudication Board which is DIRECTED to proceed to dispose of the appeal with deliberate
dispatch.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson
ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE P. PEREZ

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I hereby certify that the conclusions in the above

Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of

the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO

Chief Justice

[1]
Only the signatories to the Petition for Certiorari submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of
this Court as petitioners.
[2]
Rollo, pp. 12-28. In the resolution dated August 31, 2005, the instant Petition for Certiorari was
given due course notwithstanding procedural infirmities so as not to deny petitioners of their
last opportunity to ventilate their cause; id. at 263-265.
[3]
Id. at 30-39; penned by Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and concurred in by Presiding Justice
Cancio C. Garcia and Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin.
[4]
Id. at 49.
[5]
Id. at 39.
[6]
DARAB records, pp. 139-138.
[7]
Id. at 228-227.
[8]
Roberto Bernardo was impleaded as a defendant in his own right. After the order for
substitution of parties, he was also recognized by both parties in their respective position
papers as the representative of the deceased Pedro Bernardo.
[9]
Rollo, pp. 71-79.
[10]
Id. at 80-81.
[11]
Now deceased and substituted by Edilberto Natividad.
[12]
Now deceased and substituted by Mariano Mananghaya.
[13]
Now deceased and substituted by Jeffrey Diaz.
[14]
Rollo, pp. 82-83.
[15]
Id. at 84-86.
[16]
Id. at 89-91.
[17]
Id. at 93-94.
[18]
Implementation Report dated May 12, 2003, DARAB records, pp. 429-427.
[19]
Id. at 439.
[20]
Plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration dated May 13, 2003, id. at 424-423.
[21]
A motion relieving Atty. Jaime G. Mena of his legal services and the entry of appearance of
DAR-Legal Officer Atty. Dauphine B. Go were filed on March 13, 2003, id. at 367-361.
[22]
Id. at 483 and 480.
[23]
Id. at 482 and 479.
[24]
Id. at 545-543.
[25]
Id. at 624-621.
[26]
The order admitted its error in the May 6, 2003 Decision which included Ismael Natividad
among the deceased parties.
[27]
DARAB records, pp. 650-647.
[28]
Id. at 682-680.
[29]
Id. at 702-700.
[30]
Id. at 730-728.
[31]
There is no 1997 DARAB Rules of Procedure. The only previous and existing versions are the
1989, 1994, 2003 and 2009 DARAB Rules of Procedure. The complaint in the instant case was
filed on March 6, 2002, during the effectivity of the 1994 DARAB Rules of Procedure, thus it
is the latter which is applicable in this case. This is further reinforced by the fact that the 2003
DARAB Rules of Procedure, which became effective when the subject notices of appeal were
filed, expressly provides in Section 1, Rule XXIV (Miscellaneous Provisions) thereof that all
cases pending with the Board and the Adjudicators, prior to the date of effectivity of these
Rules, shall be governed by the DARAB Rules prevailing at the time of their filing.
[32]
Rollo, pp. 40-47.
[33]
See Remulla v. Manlongat, 484 Phil. 832, 841 (2004); Magsaysay Lines Inc. v. Court of
Appeals, 329 Phil. 310, 322-323 (1996); Piglas-Kamao (Sari-Sari Chapter) v. National Labor
Relations Commission, 409 Phil. 735, 744-745 (2001).
[34]
1994 DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM ADJUDICATION BOARD RULES OF PROCEDURE.
[35]
Section 6. Appeal Memorandum. Upon perfection of the appeal, the Adjudicator shall issue an
order requiring the appellant to file an appeal memorandum within ten (10) days from receipt
of such order, furnishing a copy thereof to the appellee and his counsel who may reply thereto
if he so desires, within the same period of time. The parties may also submit a draft decision
desired. After the filing of their respective appeal memoranda or lapse of the period within
which to file them, the entire records of the case shall be elevated on appeal to the Board
within five (5) days therefrom.
x x x (Rule XII, 1994 DARAB Rules of Procedure)
[36]
DARAB records, pp. 365-364.
[37]
See Dasalla v. Hon. Judge Caluag, 118 Phil, 663, 666 (1963); ITT Philippines, Inc, v. Court of
Appeals, 160-A Phil, 582, 588 (1975); Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership v. Velasco, G.R.
No. 109645, July 25, 1994, 234 SCRA 455, 495.
[38]
See Oro v. Judge Diaz, 413 Phil. 419, 426 (2001).
[39]
RULES OF COURT, Rule III, Section 2. The DARAB Rules itself does not define a real party-in-
interest.
[40]
Section 9 of Republic Act No. 3844, as amended (the Code of Agrarian Reform), provides that
in case of the death of the agricultural lessee, the leasehold continues between the lessor and
the deceased lessees heirs in the order specified therein.Similarly, per Presidential Decree No.
27 (Decreeing the Emancipation of Tenants), which is invoked by petitioners, title to land
acquired thereunder is transferable by hereditary succession in accordance with the Code of
Agrarian Reform, among other laws. Even Republic Act No. 6657, as amended
(Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law), also recognizes the right of the heirs to succeed to
the rights of their predecessor-farmer-beneficiary (Section 27).
[41]
Torres, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 344 Phil. 348, 366-367 (1997), citing Vda. de Salazar v. Court
of Appeals, 320 Phil. 373, 377-380 (1995).
[42]
Plaintiffs Position Paper, DARAB records, p. 162.
[43]
Except in those cases where the element required is negligence or culpa.
[44]
Beradio v. Court of Appeals, 191 Phil. 153, 168 (1981). See also People v. Pacana, 47 Phil.
48, 55-56 (1924); Lecaroz v. Sandiganbayan, 364 Phil. 890, 904-905 (1999); Luague v. Court
of Appeals, 197 Phil. 784, 788 (1982).
[45]
What could have been a fatal error in its petition for certiorari before the appellate court was
entirely ignored because petitioners herein did not raise it as an issue. It is doctrinal that non-
exhaustion of administrative remedies can be waived (see Rosario v. Court of Appeals, G.R.
No. 89554, July 10, 1992, 211 SCRA 384, 387).
[46]
Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board v. Court of Appeals, 334 Phil. 369, 381-
382 (1997).
[47]
Rollo, pp. 469-475.
[48]
Id. at 476-482.
[49]
Id. at 461-468.
[50]
Section 13 of DAR Administrative Order No. 02, series of 2003 (2003 RULES AND
PROCEDURES GOVERNING LANDOWNER RETENTION RIGHTS) provides for appeals from the
decisions of the Regional Director regarding retention applications to the Secretary. The
procedure for such appeals is provided in DAR Administrative Order No. 3, series of 2003
(2003 RULES OF AGRARIAN LAW IMPLEMENTATION CASES), which also provides in Section
10 thereof that, The Secretary shall exercise appellate jurisdiction over all cases, and may
delegate the resolution of appeals to any Undersecretary.
[51]
See Guevarra v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 100894, January 26, 1993, 217 SCRA 550, 553.
Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Baguio City

EN BANC

ANG LADLAD LGBT PARTY G.R. No. 190582

represented herein by its Chair,

DANTON REMOTO,

Petitioner, Present:

PUNO, C. J.,

CARPIO,

CORONA,

CARPIO MORALES,

VELASCO, JR.,

NACHURA,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

- versus - BRION,

PERALTA,

BERSAMIN,

DEL CASTILLO,

ABAD,

VILLARAMA, JR.,

PEREZ, and

MENDOZA, JJ.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Promulgated:

Respondent. April 8, 2010

x--------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

... [F]reedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a
mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that
touch the heart of the existing order.

Justice Robert A. Jackson


West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette[1]

One unavoidable consequence of everyone having the freedom to choose is that others may make
different choices choices we would not make for ourselves, choices we may disapprove of, even choices
that may shock or offend or anger us. However, choices are not to be legally prohibited merely because
they are different, and the right to disagree and debate about important questions of public policy is a
core value protected by our Bill of Rights. Indeed, our democracy is built on genuine recognition of, and
respect for, diversity and difference in opinion.
Since ancient times, society has grappled with deep disagreements about the definitions and
demands of morality. In many cases, where moral convictions are concerned, harmony among those
theoretically opposed is an insurmountable goal. Yet herein lies the paradox philosophical justifications
about what is moral are indispensable and yet at the same time powerless to create agreement. This
Court recognizes, however, that practical solutions are preferable to ideological stalemates;
accommodation is better than intransigence; reason more worthy than rhetoric. This will allow persons of
diverse viewpoints to live together, if not harmoniously, then, at least, civilly.

Factual Background
This is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, with an application for a writ
of preliminary mandatory injunction, filed by Ang Ladlad LGBT Party (Ang Ladlad) against the Resolutions
of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) dated November 11, 2009[2] (the First Assailed Resolution)
and December 16, 2009[3] (the Second Assailed Resolution) in SPP No. 09-228 (PL) (collectively, the
Assailed Resolutions). The case has its roots in the COMELECs refusal to accredit Ang Ladlad as a party-
list organization under Republic Act (RA) No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party-List System Act.[4]

Ang Ladlad is an organization composed of men and women who identify themselves as lesbians,
gays, bisexuals, or trans-gendered individuals (LGBTs). Incorporated in 2003, Ang Ladlad first applied for
registration with the COMELEC in 2006. The application for accreditation was denied on the ground that
the organization had no substantial membership base. On August 17, 2009, Ang Ladlad again filed a
Petition[5] for registration with the COMELEC.

Before the COMELEC, petitioner argued that the LGBT community is a marginalized and under-
represented sector that is particularly disadvantaged because of their sexual orientation and gender
identity; that LGBTs are victims of exclusion, discrimination, and violence; that because of negative societal
attitudes, LGBTs are constrained to hide their sexual orientation; and that Ang Ladlad complied with the
8-point guidelines enunciated by this Court in Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on
Elections.[6] Ang Ladlad laid out its national membership base consisting of individual members and
organizational supporters, and outlined its platform of governance.[7]

On November 11, 2009, after admitting the petitioners evidence, the COMELEC (Second Division)
dismissed the Petition on moral grounds, stating that:
x x x This Petition is dismissible on moral grounds. Petitioner defines the Filipino
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community, thus:

x x x a marginalized and under-represented sector that is particularly


disadvantaged because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

and proceeded to define sexual orientation as that which:

x x x refers to a persons capacity for profound emotional, affectional and


sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with, individuals of
a different gender, of the same gender, or more than one gender.
This definition of the LGBT sector makes it crystal clear that petitioner tolerates immorality
which offends religious beliefs. In Romans 1:26, 27, Paul wrote:

For this cause God gave them up into vile affections, for even their
women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And
likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in
their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is
unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error
which was meet.

In the Koran, the hereunder verses are pertinent:

For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women ye are indeed


a people transgressing beyond bounds. (7.81) And we rained down on
them a shower (of brimstone): Then see what was the end of those who
indulged in sin and crime! (7:84) He said: O my Lord! Help Thou me
against people who do mischief (29:30).

As correctly pointed out by the Law Department in its Comment dated October 2, 2008:

The ANG LADLAD apparently advocates sexual immorality as indicated in


the Petitions par. 6F: Consensual partnerships or relationships by gays
and lesbians who are already of age. It is further indicated in par. 24 of
the Petition which waves for the record: In 2007, Men Having Sex with
Men or MSMs in the Philippines were estimated as 670,000 (Genesis 19
is the history of Sodom and Gomorrah).

Laws are deemed incorporated in every contract, permit, license,


relationship, or accreditation. Hence, pertinent provisions of the Civil Code
and the Revised Penal Code are deemed part of the requirement to be
complied with for accreditation.

ANG LADLAD collides with Article 695 of the Civil Code which defines
nuisance as Any act, omission, establishment, business, condition of
property, or anything else which x x x (3) shocks, defies; or
disregards decency or morality x x x
It also collides with Article 1306 of the Civil Code: The contracting parties
may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as they
may deem convenient, provided they are not contrary to law, morals,
good customs, public order or public policy. Art 1409 of the Civil Code
provides that Contracts whose cause, object or purpose is contrary to
law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy are inexistent and
void from the beginning.

Finally to safeguard the morality of the Filipino community, the Revised Penal Code, as
amended, penalizes Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions and
indecent shows as follows:

Art. 201. Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions, and


indecent shows. The penalty of prision mayor or a fine ranging from six
thousand to twelve thousand pesos, or both such imprisonment and fine,
shall be imposed upon:

1. Those who shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines


openly contrary to public morals;

2. (a) The authors of obscene literature, published with their knowledge


in any form; the editors publishing such literature; and the
owners/operators of the establishment selling the same;

(b) Those who, in theaters, fairs, cinematographs or any other place,


exhibit indecent or immoral plays, scenes, acts or shows, it being
understood that the obscene literature or indecent or immoral plays,
scenes, acts or shows, whether live or in film, which are prescribed by
virtue hereof, shall include those which: (1) glorify criminals or condone
crimes; (2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for
violence, lust or pornography; (3) offend any race or religion; (4) tend to
abet traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; and (5) are contrary to law,
public order, morals, good customs, established policies, lawful orders,
decrees and edicts.

3. Those who shall sell, give away or exhibit films, prints, engravings,
sculpture or literature which are offensive to morals.
Petitioner should likewise be denied accreditation not only for advocating immoral
doctrines but likewise for not being truthful when it said that it or any of its
nominees/party-list representatives have not violated or failed to comply with laws, rules,
or regulations relating to the elections.

Furthermore, should this Commission grant the petition, we will be exposing our youth to an
environment that does not conform to the teachings of our faith. Lehman Strauss, a
famous bible teacher and writer in the U.S.A. said in one article that older practicing
homosexuals are a threat to the youth. As an agency of the government, ours too is the
States avowed duty under Section 13, Article II of the Constitution to protect our youth
from moral and spiritual degradation.[8]

When Ang Ladlad sought reconsideration,[9] three commissioners voted to overturn the First
Assailed Resolution (Commissioners Gregorio Y. Larrazabal, Rene V. Sarmiento, and Armando Velasco),
while three commissioners voted to deny Ang Ladlads Motion for Reconsideration (Commissioners
Nicodemo T. Ferrer, Lucenito N. Tagle, and Elias R. Yusoph). The COMELEC Chairman, breaking the tie
and speaking for the majority in his Separate Opinion, upheld the First Assailed Resolution, stating that:

I. The Spirit of Republic Act No. 7941

Ladlad is applying for accreditation as a sectoral party in the party-list system. Even
assuming that it has properly proven its under-representation and marginalization, it
cannot be said that Ladlads expressed sexual orientations per se would benefit the nation
as a whole.

Section 2 of the party-list law unequivocally states that the purpose of the party-list system
of electing congressional representatives is to enable Filipino citizens belonging to
marginalized and under-represented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack
well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and
enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become
members of the House of Representatives.

If entry into the party-list system would depend only on the ability of an organization to
represent its constituencies, then all representative organizations would have found
themselves into the party-list race. But that is not the intention of the framers of the law.
The party-list system is not a tool to advocate tolerance and acceptance of misunderstood
persons or groups of persons. Rather, the party-list system is a tool for the
realization of aspirations of marginalized individuals whose interests are also
the nations only that their interests have not been brought to the attention of the nation
because of their under representation. Until the time comes when Ladlad is able to
justify that having mixed sexual orientations and transgender identities is
beneficial to the nation, its application for accreditation under the party-list
system will remain just that.

II. No substantial differentiation

In the United States, whose equal protection doctrine pervades Philippine jurisprudence,
courts do not recognize lesbians, gays, homosexuals, and bisexuals (LGBT) as a special
class of individuals. x x xSignificantly, it has also been held that homosexuality is not a
constitutionally protected fundamental right, and that nothing in the U.S. Constitution
discloses a comparable intent to protect or promote the social or legal equality of
homosexual relations, as in the case of race or religion or belief.

xxxx

Thus, even if societys understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of LGBTs is elevated,


there can be no denying that Ladlad constituencies are still males and females, and they
will remain either male or female protected by the same Bill of Rights that
applies to all citizens alike.

xxxx

IV. Public Morals

x x x There is no question about not imposing on Ladlad Christian or Muslim religious


practices. Neither is there any attempt to any particular religious groups moral rules
on Ladlad. Rather, what are being adopted as moral parameters and precepts are
generally accepted public morals. They are possibly religious-based, but as a society,
the Philippines cannot ignore its more than 500 years of Muslim and Christian
upbringing, such that some moral precepts espoused by said religions have
sipped [sic] into society and these are not publicly accepted moral norms.
V. Legal Provisions

But above morality and social norms, they have become part of the law of the land. Article
201 of the Revised Penal Code imposes the penalty of prision mayor upon Those who
shall publicly expound or proclaim doctrines openly contrary to public morals. It penalizes
immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibition and indecent shows. Ang
Ladlad apparently falls under these legal provisions. This is clear from its Petitions
paragraph 6F: Consensual partnerships or relationships by gays and lesbians who are
already of age It is further indicated in par. 24 of the Petition which waves for the record:
In 2007, Men Having Sex with Men or MSMs in the Philippines were estimated as
670,000. Moreoever, Article 694 of the Civil Code defines nuisance as any act, omission x
x x or anything else x x x which shocks, defies or disregards decency or morality x x x.
These are all unlawful.[10]

On January 4, 2010, Ang Ladlad filed this Petition, praying that the Court annul the Assailed
Resolutions and direct the COMELEC to grant Ang Ladlads application for accreditation.Ang Ladlad also
sought the issuance ex parte of a preliminary mandatory injunction against the COMELEC, which had
previously announced that it would begin printing the final ballots for the May 2010 elections by January
25, 2010.

On January 6, 2010, we ordered the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to file its Comment on
behalf of COMELEC not later than 12:00 noon of January 11, 2010.[11] Instead of filing a Comment,
however, the OSG filed a Motion for Extension, requesting that it be given until January 16, 2010 to
Comment.[12] Somewhat surprisingly, the OSG later filed a Comment in support of petitioners
application.[13] Thus, in order to give COMELEC the opportunity to fully ventilate its position, we required
it to file its own comment.[14] The COMELEC, through its Law Department, filed its Comment on February
2, 2010.[15]

In the meantime, due to the urgency of the petition, we issued a temporary restraining order
on January 12, 2010, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, directing
the COMELEC to cease and desist from implementing the Assailed Resolutions.[16]
Also, on January 13, 2010, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) filed a Motion to Intervene
or to Appear as Amicus Curiae, attaching thereto its Comment-in-Intervention.[17]The CHR opined that the
denial of Ang Ladlads petition on moral grounds violated the standards and principles of the Constitution,
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR). On January 19, 2010, we granted the CHRs motion to intervene.

On January 26, 2010, Epifanio D. Salonga, Jr. filed his Motion to Intervene[18] which motion was
granted on February 2, 2010.[19]

The Parties Arguments

Ang Ladlad argued that the denial of accreditation, insofar as it justified the exclusion by using
religious dogma, violated the constitutional guarantees against the establishment of religion. Petitioner
also claimed that the Assailed Resolutions contravened its constitutional rights to privacy, freedom of
speech and assembly, and equal protection of laws, as well as constituted violations of
the Philippines international obligations against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The OSG concurred with Ang Ladlads petition and argued that the COMELEC erred in denying petitioners
application for registration since there was no basis for COMELECs allegations of immorality. It also opined
that LGBTs have their own special interests and concerns which should have been recognized by the
COMELEC as a separate classification. However, insofar as the purported violations of petitioners freedom
of speech, expression, and assembly were concerned, the OSG maintained that there had been no
restrictions on these rights.

In its Comment, the COMELEC reiterated that petitioner does not have a concrete and genuine
national political agenda to benefit the nation and that the petition was validly dismissed on moral grounds.
It also argued for the first time that the LGBT sector is not among the sectors enumerated by the
Constitution and RA 7941, and that petitioner made untruthful statements in its petition when it alleged
its national existence contrary to actual verification reports by COMELECs field personnel.
Our Ruling

We grant the petition.

Compliance with the Requirements of the


Constitution and Republic Act No. 7941

The COMELEC denied Ang Ladlads application for registration on the ground that the LGBT sector
is neither enumerated in the Constitution and RA 7941, nor is it associated with or related to any of the
sectors in the enumeration.

Respondent mistakenly opines that our ruling in Ang Bagong Bayani stands for the proposition
that only those sectors specifically enumerated in the law or related to said sectors (labor, peasant,
fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans,
overseas workers, and professionals) may be registered under the party-list system. As we explicitly ruled
in Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on Elections,[20] the enumeration of marginalized
and under-represented sectors is not exclusive. The crucial element is not whether a sector is specifically
enumerated, but whether a particular organization complies with the requirements of the Constitution and
RA 7941.

Respondent also argues that Ang Ladlad made untruthful statements in its petition when it alleged
that it had nationwide existence through its members and affiliate organizations. The COMELEC claims
that upon verification by its field personnel, it was shown that save for a few isolated places in the country,
petitioner does not exist in almost all provinces in the country.[21]

This argument that petitioner made untruthful statements in its petition when it alleged its national
existence is a new one; previously, the COMELEC claimed that petitioner was not being truthful when it
said that it or any of its nominees/party-list representatives have not violated or failed to comply with laws,
rules, or regulations relating to the elections. Nowhere was this ground for denial of petitioners
accreditation mentioned or even alluded to in the Assailed Resolutions. This, in itself, is quite curious,
considering that the reports of petitioners alleged non-existence were already available to the COMELEC
prior to the issuance of the First Assailed Resolution. At best, this is irregular procedure; at worst, a belated
afterthought, a change in respondents theory, and a serious violation of petitioners right to procedural
due process.

Nonetheless, we find that there has been no misrepresentation. A cursory perusal of Ang
Ladlads initial petition shows that it never claimed to exist in each province of the Philippines. Rather,
petitioner alleged that the LGBT community in the Philippines was estimated to constitute at least 670,000
persons; that it had 16,100 affiliates and members around the country, and 4,044 members in its
electronic discussion group.[22] Ang Ladlad also represented itself to be a national LGBT umbrella
organization with affiliates around the Philippines composed of the following LGBT networks:

Abra Gay Association

Aklan Butterfly Brigade (ABB) Aklan

Albay Gay Association

Arts Center of Cabanatuan City Nueva Ecija

Boys Legion Metro Manila

Cagayan de Oro People Like Us (CDO PLUS)

Cant Live in the Closet, Inc. (CLIC) Metro Manila

Cebu Pride Cebu City

Circle of Friends

Dipolog Gay Association Zamboanga del Norte

Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Youth Association (GABAY)

Gay and Lesbian Activists Network for Gender Equality (GALANG)


Metro Manila

Gay Mens Support Group (GMSG) Metro Manila

Gay United for Peace and Solidarity (GUPS) Lanao del Norte

Iloilo City Gay Association Iloilo City

Kabulig Writers Group Camarines Sur

Lesbian Advocates Philippines, Inc. (LEAP)

LUMINA Baguio City

Marikina Gay Association Metro Manila


Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Metro Manila

Naga City Gay Association Naga City

ONE BACARDI

Order of St. Aelred (OSAe) Metro Manila

PUP LAKAN

RADAR PRIDEWEAR

Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights), Inc. Metro Manila

San Jose del Monte Gay Association Bulacan

Sining Kayumanggi Royal Family Rizal

Society of Transexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) Metro Manila

Soul Jive Antipolo, Rizal

The Link Davao City

Tayabas Gay Association Quezon

Womens Bisexual Network Metro Manila

Zamboanga Gay Association Zamboanga City[23]

Since the COMELEC only searched for the names ANG LADLAD LGBT or LADLAD LGBT, it is no
surprise that they found that petitioner had no presence in any of these regions. In fact, if COMELECs
findings are to be believed, petitioner does not even exist in Quezon City, which is registered as Ang
Ladlads principal place of business.

Against this backdrop, we find that Ang Ladlad has sufficiently demonstrated its compliance with
the legal requirements for accreditation. Indeed, aside from COMELECs moral objection and the belated
allegation of non-existence, nowhere in the records has the respondent ever found/ruled that Ang
Ladlad is not qualified to register as a party-list organization under any of the requisites under RA 7941 or
the guidelines in Ang Bagong Bayani. The difference, COMELEC claims, lies in Ang Ladlads morality, or
lack thereof.
Religion as the Basis for Refusal to Accept Ang
Ladlads Petition for Registration

Our Constitution provides in Article III, Section 5 that [n]o law shall be made respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. At bottom, what our non-establishment
clause calls for is government neutrality in religious matters.[24] Clearly, governmental reliance on religious
justification is inconsistent with this policy of neutrality.[25] We thus find that it was grave violation of the
non-establishment clause for the COMELEC to utilize the Bible and the Koran to justify the exclusion of Ang
Ladlad.

Rather than relying on religious belief, the legitimacy of the Assailed Resolutions should depend,
instead, on whether the COMELEC is able to advance some justification for its rulings beyond mere
conformity to religious doctrine. Otherwise stated, government must act for secular purposes and in ways
that have primarily secular effects. As we held in Estrada v. Escritor:[26]

x x x The morality referred to in the law is public and necessarily secular, not religious as
the dissent of Mr. Justice Carpio holds. "Religious teachings as expressed in public debate
may influence the civil public order but public moral disputes may be resolved only on
grounds articulable in secular terms." Otherwise, if government relies upon religious
beliefs in formulating public policies and morals, the resulting policies and morals would
require conformity to what some might regard as religious programs or agenda. The non-
believers would therefore be compelled to conform to a standard of conduct buttressed
by a religious belief, i.e., to a "compelled religion," anathema to religious freedom.
Likewise, if government based its actions upon religious beliefs, it would tacitly approve
or endorse that belief and thereby also tacitly disapprove contrary religious or non-
religious views that would not support the policy. As a result, government will not provide
full religious freedom for all its citizens, or even make it appear that those whose beliefs
are disapproved are second-class citizens.
In other words, government action, including its proscription of immorality as expressed
in criminal law like concubinage, must have a secular purpose. That is, the government
proscribes this conduct because it is "detrimental (or dangerous) to those conditions upon
which depend the existence and progress of human society" and not because the conduct
is proscribed by the beliefs of one religion or the other. Although admittedly, moral
judgments based on religion might have a compelling influence on those engaged in
public deliberations over what actions would be considered a moral disapprobation
punishable by law. After all, they might also be adherents of a religion and thus have
religious opinions and moral codes with a compelling influence on them; the human mind
endeavors to regulate the temporal and spiritual institutions of society in a uniform
manner, harmonizing earth with heaven. Succinctly put, a law could be religious or
Kantian or Aquinian or utilitarian in its deepest roots, but it must have an articulable and
discernible secular purpose and justification to pass scrutiny of the religion clauses. x x x
Recognizing the religious nature of the Filipinos and the elevating influence of religion in
society, however, the Philippine constitution's religion clauses prescribe not a strict but a
benevolent neutrality. Benevolent neutrality recognizes that government must pursue its
secular goals and interests but at the same time strive to uphold religious liberty to the
greatest extent possible within flexible constitutional limits. Thus, although the morality
contemplated by laws is secular, benevolent neutrality could allow for accommodation of
morality based on religion, provided it does not offend compelling state interests.[27]

Public Morals as a Ground to Deny Ang Ladlads


Petition for Registration

Respondent suggests that although the moral condemnation of homosexuality and homosexual
conduct may be religion-based, it has long been transplanted into generally accepted public morals. The
COMELEC argues:

Petitioners accreditation was denied not necessarily because their group consists of LGBTs
but because of the danger it poses to the people especially the youth. Once it is recognized
by the government, a sector which believes that there is nothing wrong in having sexual
relations with individuals of the same gender is a bad example. It will bring down the
standard of morals we cherish in our civilized society. Any society without a set of moral
precepts is in danger of losing its own existence.[28]

We are not blind to the fact that, through the years, homosexual conduct, and perhaps
homosexuals themselves, have borne the brunt of societal disapproval. It is not difficult to imagine the
reasons behind this censure religious beliefs, convictions about the preservation of marriage, family, and
procreation, even dislike or distrust of homosexuals themselves and their perceived lifestyle. Nonetheless,
we recall that the Philippines has not seen fit to criminalize homosexual conduct. Evidently, therefore,
these generally accepted public morals have not been convincingly transplanted into the realm of law.[29]

The Assailed Resolutions have not identified any specific overt immoral act performed by Ang Ladlad. Even
the OSG agrees that there should have been a finding by the COMELEC that the groups members have
committed or are committing immoral acts.[30] The OSG argues:
x x x A person may be sexually attracted to a person of the same gender, of a different
gender, or more than one gender, but mere attraction does not translate to immoral acts.
There is a great divide between thought and action. Reduction ad absurdum. If immoral
thoughts could be penalized, COMELEC would have its hands full of disqualification cases
against both the straights and the gays. Certainly this is not the intendment of the law.[31]

Respondent has failed to explain what societal ills are sought to be prevented, or why special
protection is required for the youth. Neither has the COMELEC condescended to justify its position that
petitioners admission into the party-list system would be so harmful as to irreparably damage the moral
fabric of society. We, of course, do not suggest that the state is wholly without authority to regulate
matters concerning morality, sexuality, and sexual relations, and we recognize that the government will
and should continue to restrict behavior considered detrimental to society. Nonetheless, we cannot
countenance advocates who, undoubtedly with the loftiest of intentions, situate morality on one end of
an argument or another, without bothering to go through the rigors of legal reasoning and explanation. In
this, the notion of morality is robbed of all value. Clearly then, the bare invocation of morality will not
remove an issue from our scrutiny.

We also find the COMELECs reference to purported violations of our penal and civil laws flimsy, at
best; disingenuous, at worst. Article 694 of the Civil Code defines a nuisance as any act, omission,
establishment, condition of property, or anything else which shocks, defies, or disregards decency or
morality, the remedies for which are a prosecution under the Revised Penal Code or any local ordinance,
a civil action, or abatement without judicial proceedings.[32] A violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal
Code, on the other hand, requires proof beyond reasonable doubt to support a criminal conviction. It
hardly needs to be emphasized that mere allegation of violation of laws is not proof, and a mere blanket
invocation of public morals cannot replace the institution of civil or criminal proceedings and a judicial
determination of liability or culpability.

As such, we hold that moral disapproval, without more, is not a sufficient governmental interest
to justify exclusion of homosexuals from participation in the party-list system. The denial of Ang
Ladlads registration on purely moral grounds amounts more to a statement of dislike and disapproval of
homosexuals, rather than a tool to further any substantial public interest.Respondents blanket
justifications give rise to the inevitable conclusion that the COMELEC targets homosexuals themselves as
a class, not because of any particular morally reprehensible act.It is this selective targeting that implicates
our equal protection clause.

Equal Protection

Despite the absolutism of Article III, Section 1 of our Constitution, which provides nor shall any
person be denied equal protection of the laws, courts have never interpreted the provision as an absolute
prohibition on classification. Equality, said Aristotle, consists in the same treatment of similar
persons.[33] The equal protection clause guarantees that no person or class of persons shall be deprived
of the same protection of laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in the same place and
in like circumstances.[34]

Recent jurisprudence has affirmed that if a law neither burdens a fundamental right nor targets a suspect
class, we will uphold the classification as long as it bears a rational relationship to some legitimate
government end.[35] In Central Bank Employees Association, Inc. v. Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas,[36] we
declared that [i]n our jurisdiction, the standard of analysis of equal protection challenges x x x have
followed the rational basis test, coupled with a deferential attitude to legislative classifications and a
reluctance to invalidate a law unless there is a showing of a clear and unequivocal breach of the
Constitution.[37]

The COMELEC posits that the majority of the Philippine population considers homosexual conduct
as immoral and unacceptable, and this constitutes sufficient reason to disqualify the petitioner.
Unfortunately for the respondent, the Philippine electorate has expressed no such belief. No law exists to
criminalize homosexual behavior or expressions or parties about homosexual behavior. Indeed, even if
we were to assume that public opinion is as the COMELEC describes it, the asserted state interest here
that is, moral disapproval of an unpopular minority is not a legitimate state interest that is sufficient to
satisfy rational basis review under the equal protection clause. The COMELECs differentiation, and its
unsubstantiated claim that Ang Ladlad cannot contribute to the formulation of legislation that would
benefit the nation, furthers no legitimate state interest other than disapproval of or dislike for a disfavored
group.
From the standpoint of the political process, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender have the
same interest in participating in the party-list system on the same basis as other political parties similarly
situated. State intrusion in this case is equally burdensome. Hence, laws of general application should
apply with equal force to LGBTs, and they deserve to participate in the party-list system on the same basis
as other marginalized and under-represented sectors.

It bears stressing that our finding that COMELECs act of differentiating LGBTs from heterosexuals
insofar as the party-list system is concerned does not imply that any other law distinguishing between
heterosexuals and homosexuals under different circumstances would similarly fail. We disagree with the
OSGs position that homosexuals are a class in themselves for the purposes of the equal protection
clause.[38] We are not prepared to single out homosexuals as a separate class meriting special or
differentiated treatment. We have not received sufficient evidence to this effect, and it is simply
unnecessary to make such a ruling today. Petitioner itself has merely demanded that it be recognized
under the same basis as all other groups similarly situated, and that the COMELEC made an unwarranted
and impermissible classification not justified by the circumstances of the case.

Freedom of Expression and Association

Under our system of laws, every group has the right to promote its agenda and attempt to
persuade society of the validity of its position through normal democratic means.[39] It is in the public
square that deeply held convictions and differing opinions should be distilled and deliberated upon. As we
held in Estrada v. Escritor:[40]

In a democracy, this common agreement on political and moral ideas is distilled in the
public square. Where citizens are free, every opinion, every prejudice, every aspiration,
and every moral discernment has access to the public square where people deliberate the
order of their life together. Citizens are the bearers of opinion, including opinion shaped
by, or espousing religious belief, and these citizens have equal access to the public square.
In this representative democracy, the state is prohibited from determining which
convictions and moral judgments may be proposed for public deliberation. Through a
constitutionally designed process, the people deliberate and decide. Majority rule is a
necessary principle in this democratic governance. Thus, when public deliberation on
moral judgments is finally crystallized into law, the laws will largely reflect the beliefs and
preferences of the majority, i.e., the mainstream or median groups. Nevertheless, in the
very act of adopting and accepting a constitution and the limits it specifies including
protection of religious freedom "not only for a minority, however small not only for a
majority, however large but for each of us" the majority imposes upon itself a self-denying
ordinance. It promises not to do what it otherwise could do: to ride roughshod over the
dissenting minorities.

Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society, and
this freedom applies not only to those that are favorably received but also to those that offend, shock, or
disturb. Any restriction imposed in this sphere must be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. Absent
any compelling state interest, it is not for the COMELEC or this Court to impose its views on the populace.
Otherwise stated, the COMELEC is certainly not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than
promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one.

This position gains even more force if one considers that homosexual conduct is not illegal in this
country. It follows that both expressions concerning ones homosexuality and the activity of forming a
political association that supports LGBT individuals are protected as well.

Other jurisdictions have gone so far as to categorically rule that even overwhelming public
perception that homosexual conduct violates public morality does not justify criminalizing same-sex
conduct.[41] European and United Nations judicial decisions have ruled in favor of gay rights claimants on
both privacy and equality grounds, citing general privacy and equal protection provisions in foreign and
international texts.[42] To the extent that there is much to learn from other jurisdictions that have reflected
on the issues we face here, such jurisprudence is certainly illuminating. These foreign authorities, while
not formally binding on Philippine courts, may nevertheless have persuasive influence on the Courts
analysis.

In the area of freedom of expression, for instance, United States courts have ruled that existing
free speech doctrines protect gay and lesbian rights to expressive conduct. In order to justify the
prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, public institutions must show that their actions were
caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always
accompany an unpopular viewpoint.[43]

With respect to freedom of association for the advancement of ideas and beliefs, in Europe, with
its vibrant human rights tradition, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has repeatedly stated that
a political party may campaign for a change in the law or the constitutional structures of a state if it uses
legal and democratic means and the changes it proposes are consistent with democratic principles. The
ECHR has emphasized that political ideas that challenge the existing order and whose realization is
advocated by peaceful means must be afforded a proper opportunity of expression through the exercise
of the right of association, even if such ideas may seem shocking or unacceptable to the authorities or the
majority of the population.[44]A political group should not be hindered solely because it seeks to publicly
debate controversial political issues in order to find solutions capable of satisfying everyone
concerned.[45] Only if a political party incites violence or puts forward policies that are incompatible with
democracy does it fall outside the protection of the freedom of association guarantee.[46]

We do not doubt that a number of our citizens may believe that homosexual conduct is distasteful,
offensive, or even defiant. They are entitled to hold and express that view. On the other hand, LGBTs and
their supporters, in all likelihood, believe with equal fervor that relationships between individuals of the
same sex are morally equivalent to heterosexual relationships. They, too, are entitled to hold and express
that view. However, as far as this Court is concerned, our democracy precludes using the religious or
moral views of one part of the community to exclude from consideration the values of other members of
the community.

Of course, none of this suggests the impending arrival of a golden age for gay rights litigants. It well may
be that this Decision will only serve to highlight the discrepancy between the rigid constitutional analysis
of this Court and the more complex moral sentiments of Filipinos. We do not suggest that public opinion,
even at its most liberal, reflect a clear-cut strong consensus favorable to gay rights claims and we neither
attempt nor expect to affect individual perceptions of homosexuality through this Decision.

The OSG argues that since there has been neither prior restraint nor subsequent punishment imposed
on Ang Ladlad, and its members have not been deprived of their right to voluntarily associate, then there
has been no restriction on their freedom of expression or association. The OSG argues that:

There was no utterance restricted, no publication censored, or any assembly denied.


[COMELEC] simply exercised its authority to review and verify the qualifications of
petitioner as a sectoral party applying to participate in the party-list system. This lawful
exercise of duty cannot be said to be a transgression of Section 4, Article III of the
Constitution.

xxxx
A denial of the petition for registration x x x does not deprive the members of the petitioner
to freely take part in the conduct of elections. Their right to vote will not be hampered by
said denial. In fact, the right to vote is a constitutionally-guaranteed right which cannot
be limited.

As to its right to be elected in a genuine periodic election, petitioner contends that the
denial of Ang Ladlads petition has the clear and immediate effect of limiting, if not
outrightly nullifying the capacity of its members to fully and equally participate in public
life through engagement in the party list elections.

This argument is puerile. The holding of a public office is not a right but a privilege
subject to limitations imposed by law. x x x[47]
The OSG fails to recall that petitioner has, in fact, established its qualifications to participate in the
party-list system, and as advanced by the OSG itself the moral objection offered by the COMELEC was
not a limitation imposed by law. To the extent, therefore, that the petitioner has been precluded, because
of COMELECs action, from publicly expressing its views as a political party and participating on an equal
basis in the political process with other equally-qualified party-list candidates, we find that there has,
indeed, been a transgression of petitioners fundamental rights.

Non-Discrimination and International Law

In an age that has seen international law evolve geometrically in scope and promise, international
human rights law, in particular, has grown dynamically in its attempt to bring about a more just and
humane world order. For individuals and groups struggling with inadequate structural and governmental
support, international human rights norms are particularly significant, and should be effectively enforced
in domestic legal systems so that such norms may become actual, rather than ideal, standards of conduct.

Our Decision today is fully in accord with our international obligations to protect and promote
human rights. In particular, we explicitly recognize the principle of non-discrimination as it relates to the
right to electoral participation, enunciated in the UDHR and the ICCPR.

The principle of non-discrimination is laid out in Article 26 of the ICCPR, as follows:


Article 26

All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the
equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and
guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any
ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or
social origin, property, birth or other status.

In this context, the principle of non-discrimination requires that laws of general application relating
to elections be applied equally to all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. Although sexual orientation
is not specifically enumerated as a status or ratio for discrimination in Article 26 of the ICCPR, the ICCPR
Human Rights Committee has opined that the reference to sex in Article 26 should be construed to include
sexual orientation.[48] Additionally, a variety of United Nations bodies have declared discrimination on the
basis of sexual orientation to be prohibited under various international agreements.[49]

The UDHR provides:

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly
or through freely chosen representatives.

Likewise, the ICCPR states:

Article 25

Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the
distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen
representatives;
(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by
universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free
expression of the will of the electors;

(c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.

As stated by the CHR in its Comment-in-Intervention, the scope of the right to electoral participation is
elaborated by the Human Rights Committee in its General Comment No. 25 (Participation in Public Affairs
and the Right to Vote) as follows:

1. Article 25 of the Covenant recognizes and protects the right of every citizen to
take part in the conduct of public affairs, the right to vote and to be elected and the right
to have access to public service. Whatever form of constitution or government is in force,
the Covenant requires States to adopt such legislative and other measures as may be
necessary to ensure that citizens have an effective opportunity to enjoy the rights it
protects. Article 25 lies at the core of democratic government based on the consent of the
people and in conformity with the principles of the Covenant.

xxxx

15. The effective implementation of the right and the opportunity to stand for
elective office ensures that persons entitled to vote have a free choice of candidates. Any
restrictions on the right to stand for election, such as minimum age, must be justifiable
on objective and reasonable criteria. Persons who are otherwise eligible to stand for
election should not be excluded by unreasonable or discriminatory requirements such as
education, residence or descent, or by reason of political affiliation. No person should
suffer discrimination or disadvantage of any kind because of that person's candidacy.
States parties should indicate and explain the legislative provisions which exclude any
group or category of persons from elective office.[50]

We stress, however, that although this Court stands willing to assume the responsibility of giving
effect to the Philippines international law obligations, the blanket invocation of international law is not the
panacea for all social ills. We refer now to the petitioners invocation of the Yogyakarta Principles (the
Application of International Human Rights Law In Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender
Identity),[51] which petitioner declares to reflect binding principles of international law.

At this time, we are not prepared to declare that these Yogyakarta Principles contain norms that
are obligatory on the Philippines. There are declarations and obligations outlined in said Principles which
are not reflective of the current state of international law, and do not find basis in any of the sources of
international law enumerated under Article 38(1) of the Statute of the International Court of
Justice.[52] Petitioner has not undertaken any objective and rigorous analysis of these alleged principles of
international law to ascertain their true status.

We also hasten to add that not everything that society or a certain segment of society wants or
demands is automatically a human right. This is not an arbitrary human intervention that may be added
to or subtracted from at will. It is unfortunate that much of what passes for human rights today is a much
broader context of needs that identifies many social desires as rights in order to further claims that
international law obliges states to sanction these innovations. This has the effect of diluting real human
rights, and is a result of the notion that if wants are couched in rights language, then they are no longer
controversial.

Using even the most liberal of lenses, these Yogyakarta Principles, consisting of a declaration
formulated by various international law professors, are at best de lege ferenda and do not constitute
binding obligations on the Philippines. Indeed, so much of contemporary international law is characterized
by the soft law nomenclature, i.e., international law is full of principles that promote international
cooperation, harmony, and respect for human rights, most of which amount to no more than well-
meaning desires, without the support of either State practice or opinio juris.[53]

As a final note, we cannot help but observe that the social issues presented by this case are
emotionally charged, societal attitudes are in flux, even the psychiatric and religious communities are
divided in opinion. This Courts role is not to impose its own view of acceptable behavior. Rather, it is to
apply the Constitution and laws as best as it can, uninfluenced by public opinion, and confident in the
knowledge that our democracy is resilient enough to withstand vigorous debate.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The Resolutions of the Commission on Elections
dated November 11, 2009 and December 16, 2009 in SPP No. 09-228 (PL) are hereby SET ASIDE. The
Commission on Elections is directed to GRANT petitioners application for party-list accreditation.
SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO

Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO RENATO C. CORONA

Associate Justice Associate Justice

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.

Associate Justice Associate Justice


ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

Associate Justice Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR. JOSE P. PEREZ

Associate Justice Associate Justice


JOSE C. MENDOZA

Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion
of the Court.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

[1]
319 U.S. 624, 640-42 (1943).
[2]
Rollo, pp. 33-40.
[3]
Id. at 41-74.
[4]
An Act Providing For The Election Of Party-List Representatives Through The Party-List System, And
Appropriating Funds Therefor (1995).
[5]
Rollo, pp. 89-101.
[6]
412 Phil. 308 (2001).
[7]
Ang Ladlad outlined its platform, viz:
As a party-list organization, Ang Ladlad is willing to research, introduce, and work for the passage into law
of legislative measures under the following platform of government:
a) introduction and support for an anti-discrimination bill that will ensure equal rights for LGBTs in
employment and civil life;
b) support for LGBT-related and LGBT-friendly businesses that will contribute to the national
economy;
c) setting up of micro-finance and livelihood projects for poor and physically challenged
LGBT Filipinos;
d) setting up of care centers that will take care of the medical, legal, pension, and other needs of
old and abandoned LGBTs. These centers will be set up initially in the key cities of the country; and
e) introduction and support for bills seeking the repeal of laws used to harass and legitimize
extortion against the LGBT community. Rollo, p. 100.
[8]
Id. at 36-39. Citations omitted. Italics and underscoring in original text.
[9]
Id. at 77-88.
[10]
Id. at 50-54. Emphasis and underscoring supplied.
[11]
Id. at 121.
[12]
Id. at 129-132.
[13]
Id. at 151-283.
[14]
Id. at 284.
[15]
Id. at 301-596.
[16]
Id. at 126.
[17]
Id. at 133-160.
[18]
Id. at 288-291.
[19]
Id. at 296.
[20]
Supra note 6.
[21]
It appears that on September 4, 2009, the Second Division directed the various COMELEC Regional
Offices to verify the existence, status, and capacity of petitioner. In its Comment, respondent
submitted copies of various reports stating that ANG LADLAD LGBT or LADLAD LGBT did not exist in
the following areas: Batangas (October 6, 2009); Romblon (October 6, 2009); Palawan (October 16,
2009); Sorsogon (September 29, 2009); Cavite, Marinduque, Rizal (October 12, 2009); Basilan,
Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi Tawi (October 19, 2009); Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte,
Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar (October 19, 2009); Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte,
Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon (October 25, 2009); Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan
(October 23, 2009); North Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat (October 23, 2009);
Aklan, Antique, Iloilo and Negros Occidental (October 25, 2009); Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor (October 24,
2009); Negros Oriental (October 26, 2009); Cordillera Administrative Region (October 30, 2009);
Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur (October 26,
2009); Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Camiguin, MIsamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte (October 31, 2009);
Laguna (November 2, 2009); Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro (November 13, 2009); Quezon
(November 24, 2009); Davao City, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental
(November 19, 2009); Caloocan, Las Pinas, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa,
Navotas, Paranaque, Pasay, Pasig, Pateros, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela (December
16, 2009). Rollo, pp.323-596.
[22]
Id. at 96.
[23]
Id. at 96-97.
[24]
BERNAS, THE 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE PHILIPPINES: A COMMENTARY 346 (2009).
[25]
Estrada v. Escritor, 455 Phil. 411 (2003), citing Smith, S., "The Rise and Fall of Religious Freedom in
Constitutional Discourse", 140 UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA LAW REVIEW, 149, 160 (1991).
[26]
455 Phil. 411 (2003).
[27]
Id. at 588-589.
[28]
Rollo, p. 315.
[29]
In Anonymous v. Radam, A.M. No. P-07-2333, December 19, 2007, 541 SCRA 12, citing Concerned
Employee v. Mayor, A.M. No. P-02-1564, 23 November 2004, 443 SCRA 448, we ruled that immorality
cannot be judged based on personal bias, specifically those colored by particular mores. Nor should it
be grounded on "cultural" values not convincingly demonstrated to have been recognized in the realm
of public policy expressed in the Constitution and the laws. At the same time, the constitutionally
guaranteed rights (such as the right to privacy) should be observed to the extent that they protect
behavior that may be frowned upon by the majority.
[30]
Rollo, pp. 178.
[31]
Id. at 179-180.
[32]
CIVIL CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Art. 699.
[33]
POLITICS VII. 14.
[34]
Abakada Guro Party v. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 168056, September 1, 2005, 2005, 469 SCRA 1,
139.
[35]
In BERNAS, THE 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE PHILIPPINES: A COMMENTARY 139-140 (2009), Fr.
Joaquin Bernas, S.J. writes:

For determining the reasonableness of classification, later jurisprudence has developed three
kinds of test[s] depending on the subject matter involved. The most demanding is the strict
scrutiny test which requires the government to show that the challenged classification serves
a compelling state interest and that the classification is necessary to serve that interest. This
[case] is used in cases involving classifications based on race, national origin, religion,
alienage, denial of the right to vote, interstate migration, access to courts, and other rights
recognized as fundamental.

Next is the intermediate or middle-tier scrutiny test which requires government to show that the
challenged classification serves an important state interest and that the classification is at least
substantially related to serving that interest. This is applied to suspect classifications like
gender or illegitimacy.

The most liberal is the minimum or rational basis scrutiny according to which government need
only show that the challenged classification is rationally related to serving a legitimate state
interest. This is the traditional rationality test and it applies to all subjects other than those
listed above.
[36]
487 Phil. 531, 583 (2004).
[37]
Id. at 584. See also Mid-States Freight Lines v. Bates, 111 N.Y.S. 2d 568.
[38]
The OSG argues that [w]hile it is true that LGBTs are immutably males and females, and they are
protected by the same Bill of Rights that applies to all citizens alike, it cannot be denied that as a
sector, LGBTs have their own special interests and concerns. Rollo, p. 183.
[39]
Article III, Section 4 of the Constitution provides that [n]o law shall be passed abridging the freedom
of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition
the government for redress of grievances.
[40]
Supra note 26.
[41]
In Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), the US Supreme Court first upheld the constitutionality
of a Georgia sodomy law that criminalized oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults
when applied to homosexuals. Seventeen years later the Supreme Court directly
overruled Bowers in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), holding that "Bowers was not correct
when it was decided, and it is not correct today."
In Lawrence, the US Supreme Court has held that the liberty protected by the Constitution allows
homosexual persons the right to choose to enter into intimate relationships, whether or not said
relationships were entitled to formal or legal recognition.

Our prior cases make two propositions abundantly clear. First, the fact that the governing majority
in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for
upholding a law prohibiting the practice; neither history nor tradition could save a law prohibiting
miscegenation from constitutional attack. Second, individual decisions by married persons, concerning
the intimacies of their physical relationship, even when not intended to produce offspring, are a form
of liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Moreover, this
protection extends to intimate choices by unmarried as well as married persons.

The present case does not involve minors. It does not involve persons who might be injured or
coerced or who are situated in relationships where consent might not easily be refused. It does not
involve public conduct or prostitution. It does not involve whether the government must give formal
recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter. The case does involve two
adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a
homosexual lifestyle. The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot
demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their
right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct
without intervention of the government. It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of
personal liberty which the government may not enter. The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state
interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.
In similar fashion, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the avowed state interest in
protecting public morals did not justify interference into private acts between homosexuals. In Norris
v. Ireland, the European Court held that laws criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct violated the right
to privacy enshrined in the European Convention.

The Government are in effect saying that the Court is precluded from reviewing Irelands observance of
its obligation not to exceed what is necessary in a democratic society when the contested interference
with an Article 8 (Art. 8) right is in the interests of the "protection of morals". The Court cannot accept
such an interpretation. x x x.
x x x The present case concerns a most intimate aspect of private life. Accordingly, there must
exist particularly serious reasons before interferences on the part of public authorities can be legitimate
x x x.
x x x Although members of the public who regard homosexuality as immoral may be shocked,
offended or disturbed by the commission by others of private homosexual acts, this cannot on its own
warrant the application of penal sanctions when it is consenting adults alone who are involved. (Norris
v. Ireland (judgment of October 26, 1988, Series A no. 142, pp. 20-21, 46); Marangos
v. Cyprus (application no. 31106/96, Commission's report of 3 December 1997, unpublished)).
The United Nations Human Rights Committee came to a similar conclusion in Toonen v. Australia (Comm.
No. 488/1992 U.N. GAOR Hum. Rts. Comm., 50th Sess., U.N. Doc. CCPR/c/50/D/488/1992
(1994)), involving a complaint that Tasmanian laws criminalizing consensual sex between adult males
violated the right to privacy under Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights. The Committee held:
x x x it is undisputed that adult consensual sexual activity in private is covered by the concept of
privacy x x x any interference with privacy must be proportional to the end sought and be
necessary in the circumstances of any given case.
[42]
See Toonen v. Australia, (Comm. No. 488/1992 U.N. GAOR Hum. Rts. Comm., 50th Sess., U.N. Doc.
CCPR/c/50/D/488/1992 (1994)); Dudgeon v. United Kingdom, 45 Eur. H.R. Rep. 52 (1981) (decision
by the European Court of Human Rights, construing the European Convention on Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms); Norris v. Ireland, 13 Eur. Ct. H.R. 186 (1991); Modinos v. Cyprus, 16 Eur.
H.R. Rep. 485 (1993). See also, L. and V. v Austria (2003-I 29; (2003) 36 EHRR 55) and S.L. v
Austria (2003-I 71; (2003) 37 EHRR 39), where the European Court considered that Austrias differing
age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual relations was discriminatory; it embodied a
predisposed bias on the part of a heterosexual majority against a homosexual minority, which could
not amount to sufficient justification for the differential treatment any more than similar negative
attitudes towards those of a different race, origin or colour.
[43]
See Fricke v. Lynch, 491 F. Supp. 381 (1980) and Gay Student Services v. Texas A&M University, 737
F. 2d 1317 (1984).
[44]
Case of the United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden and Others v. Bulgaria Application No. 5941/00;
Judgment of January 20, 2006. Note that in Baczkowski and Others v. Poland, Application No. 1543/06;
Judgment of May 3, 2007, the ECHR unanimously ruled that the banning of an LGBT gay parade
in Warsaw was a discriminatory violation of Article 14 of the ECHR, which provides:
The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in [the] Convention shall be secured without
discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other
opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other
status.
It also found that banning LGBT parades violated the groups freedom of assembly and
association. Referring to the hallmarks of a democratic society, the Court has attached
particular importance to pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness. In that context, it
has held that although individual interests must on occasion be subordinated to those
of a group, democracy does not simply mean that the views of the majority must
always prevail: a balance must be achieved which ensures the fair and proper
treatment of minorities and avoids any abuse of a dominant position.
[45]
Case of Freedom & Democracy Party (OZDEP) v. Turkey, Application No. 23885/94; Judgment
of December 8, 1999.
[46]
Article 11 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
(European Convention) provides:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others,
including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law
and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for
the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of
the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions
on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration
of the State. Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 213
U.N.T.S. 222, entered into force September 3, 1953, as amended by Protocols Nos. 3, 5, 8, and
11 which entered into force on September 21, 1970, December 20, 1971, January 1, 1990, and
November 1, 1998, respectively.
*
Note that while the state is not permitted to discriminate against homosexuals, private individuals
cannot be compelled to accept or condone homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of
behavior. In Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, Inc. (515 U.S.
557 (1995)), the US Supreme Court discussed whether anti-discrimination legislation operated to
require the organizers of a private St. Patricks Day parade to include among the marchers an Irish-
American gay, lesbian, and bisexual group. The court held that private citizens organizing a public
demonstration may not be compelled by the state to include groups that impart a message the
organizers do not want to be included in their demonstration. The court observed:

[A] contingent marching behind the organizations banner would at least bear witness to the
fact that some Irish are gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and the presence of the organized
marchers would suggest their view that people of their sexual orientations have as much
claim to unqualified social acceptance as heterosexuals x x x. The parades organizers may
not believe these facts about Irish sexuality to be so, or they may object to unqualified social
acceptance of gays and lesbians or have some other reason for wishing to keep GLIBs
message out of the parade. But whatever the reason, it boils down to the choice of a
speaker not to propound a particular point of view, and that choice is presumed to lie beyond
the governments power to control.

So, too, in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (530 U.S. 640 [2000]), the US Supreme Court held that
the Boy Scouts of America could not be compelled to accept a homosexual as a scoutmaster,
because the Boy Scouts believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values it seeks to
instill in its youth members; it will not promote homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior.

When an expressive organization is compelled to associate with a person whose views the group does not
accept, the organizations message is undermined; the organization is understood to embrace, or at
the very least tolerate, the views of the persons linked with them. The scoutmasters presence would,
at the very least, force the organization to send a message, both to the youth members and the
world, that the Boy Scouts accepts homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior.
[47]
Rollo, pp. 197-199.
[48]
In Toonen v. Australia, supra note 42, the Human Rights Committee noted that in its view the
reference to sex in Articles 2, paragraph 2, and 26 is to be taken as including sexual orientation.
[49]
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has dealt with the matter in its
General Comments, the interpretative texts it issues to explicate the full meaning of the provisions of
the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In General Comments Nos. 18 of 2005 (on the
right to work) (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 18: The
right to work, E/C.12/GC/18, November 24, 2005), 15 of 2002 (on the right to water) (Committee on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 15: The right to water, E/C.12/2002/11,
November 26, 2002) and 14 of 2000 (on the right to the highest attainable standard of health)
(Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 14: The right to the
highest attainable standard of health, E/C.12/2000/4, August 14, 2000), it has indicated that the
Covenant proscribes any discrimination on the basis of, inter-alia, sex and sexual orientation.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has also dealt with the issue in a General Comment. In
its General Comment No. 4 of 2003, it stated that, State parties have the obligation to ensure that all
human beings below 18 enjoy all the rights set forth in the Convention [on the Rights of the Child]
without discrimination (Article 2), including with regard to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political
or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status. These
grounds also cover [inter alia] sexual orientation. (Committee on the Rights of the Child, General
Comment No. 4: Adolescent health and development in the context of the Convention on the Rights
of the Child, July 1, 2003, CRC/GC/2003/4).

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), has, on a number of
occasions, criticized States for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. For example, it also
addressed the situation in Kyrgyzstan and recommended that, lesbianism be reconceptualized as a
sexual orientation and that penalties for its practice be abolished (Concluding Observations of the
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women regarding Kyrgyzstan, February 5,
1999, A/54/38 at par. 128).
[50]
General Comment No. 25: The right to participate in public affairs, voting rights and the right of equal
access to public service (Art. 25) December 16, 1996. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.7.
[51]
The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual
Orientation and Gender Identity is a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and
gender identity, intended to address documented evidence of abuse of rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender (LGBT) individuals. It contains 29 Principles adopted by human rights practitioners
and experts, together with recommendations to governments, regional intergovernmental institutions,
civil society, and the United Nations.
[52]
One example is Principle 3 (The Right to Recognition Before the Law), which provides:

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. Persons of diverse sexual
orientations and gender identities shall enjoy legal capacity in all aspects of life. Each persons self-
defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most
basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom. No one shall be forced to undergo medical
procedures, including sex reassignment surgery, sterilization or hormonal therapy, as a requirement
for legal recognition of their gender identity. No status, such as marriage or parenthood, may be
invoked as such to prevent the legal recognition of a persons gender identity. No one shall be
subjected to pressure to conceal, suppress or deny their sexual orientation or gender identity.

States shall:

a) Ensure that all persons are accorded legal capacity in civil matters, without discrimination on the
basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and the opportunity to exercise that capacity,
including equal rights to conclude contracts, and to administer, own, acquire (including through
inheritance), manage, enjoy and dispose of property;

b) Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to fully respect and
legally recognise each persons self-defined gender identity;

c) Take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure that
procedures exist whereby all State-issued identity papers which indicate a persons
gender/sex including birth certificates, passports, electoral records and other
documents reflect the persons profound self-defined gender identity;

d) Ensure that such procedures are efficient, fair and non-discriminatory, and respect the dignity
and privacy of the person concerned;
e) Ensure that changes to identity documents will be recognized in all contexts where the
identification or disaggregation of persons by gender is required by law or policy;

f) Undertake targeted programmes to provide social support for all persons experiencing gender
transitioning or reassignment. (Emphasis ours)
[53]
See Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Secretary of Health, G.R. No.
173034, October 9, 2007, 535 SCRA 265, where we explained that soft law does not fall into any of
the categories of international law set forth in Article 38, Chapter III of the 1946 Statute of the
International Court of Justice. It is, however, an expression of non-binding norms, principles, and
practices that influence state behavior. Certain declarations and resolutions of the UN General
Assembly fall under this category.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Baguio City

SECOND DIVISION

ROSIE QUIDET, G.R. No. 170289


Petitioner,

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus - BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
PEREZ, and
MENDOZA,* JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:


Respondent. April 8, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:


Conspiracy must be proved as clearly and convincingly as the commission of the offense itself for
it is a facile device by which an accused may be ensnared and kept within the penal fold. In case of
reasonable doubt as to its existence, the balance tips in favor of the milder form of criminal liability as
what is at stake is the accuseds liberty. We apply these principles in this case.

This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks to reverse and set aside the Court of Appeals (CA) July
22, 2005 Decision[1] in CA-G.R. CR No. 23351 which affirmed with modifications the March 11, 1999
Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 20 in Criminal Case Nos. 92-
079 and 92-080.

Factual Antecedents

On January 13, 1992, petitioner Rosie Quidet (petitioner), Feliciano Taban, Jr. (Taban), and
Aurelio Tubo (Tubo) were charged with homicide in Criminal Case No. 92-079 for the death of Jimmy
Tagarda (Jimmy) allegedly committed as follows:

That on or about the 19th day of October 1991 at 8:00 oclock in the evening,
more or less, at Barangay Looc, Salay, Misamis Oriental, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused Feliciano Taban, Jr., Rosie
Quidet and Aurelio Tubo, with intent to kill, conspiring, confederating, x x x and [sic]
helping one another, taking advantage of the darkness of the night, in order to facilitate
the commission of the offense with the use of sharp pointed x x x instruments which the
accused conveniently provided themselves did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault, stab one Jimmy Tagarda thus the victim sustained several
wounds in different parts of his body and as a consequence of which the victim died
immediately thereafter.

CONTRARY TO and in violation of Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code.[3]

On even date, the aforesaid accused were charged with frustrated homicide in Criminal Case No. 92-080
for the stab wounds sustained by Jimmys cousin, Andrew Tagarda (Andrew), arising from the same
incident, viz:

That on or about the 19th day of October 1991 at 8:00 oclock in the evening,
more or less, at Barangay Looc, Salay, Misamis Oriental, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to kill, and with
the use of sharp pointed x x x instrument, and x x x conspiring, confederating and helping
one another, and taking advantage of the night [in] order to facilitate the commission of
the offense, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, and
stab one Andrew Tagarda thereby hitting his left chest and nose, the accused having
performed all the acts of execution which would produce the crime of Homicide as a
consequence except for reason or cause independent of the will of the accused that is,
the stab was deflected by the victim.

CONTRARY TO and in violation of Article 249 in relation to Article 6 of the Revised


Penal Code.[4]

Upon arraignment, all the accused entered a plea of not guilty in Criminal Case No. 92-080
(frustrated homicide). Meanwhile, in Criminal Case No. 92-079 (homicide), Taban entered a voluntary plea
of guilt while petitioner and Tubo maintained their innocence. Accordingly, on June 24, 1992, the trial
court rendered a partial judgment[5] sentencing Taban to imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day
of prision mayor, as minimum, to twelve (12) years, two (2) months and one (1) day of reclusion
temporal, as maximum, and ordering him to pay the heirs of Jimmy P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity.[6] Thereafter, joint trial ensued.

Version of the Prosecution

On October 19, 1991, at around 8:00 oclock in the evening, Jimmy, Andrew, Edwin Balani[7] (Balani), and
Rolando Mabayo (Mabayo) visited a friend in Sitio Punta, Looc, Salay, Misamis Oriental. Along the way,
they saw Taban, together with petitioner and Tubo, come out of the house of one Tomas Osep
(Osep). Taban suddenly stabbed Andrew on the chest with a knife. Andrew retaliated by boxing
Taban. Jimmy tried to pacify Andrew and Taban but the latter stabbed him in the abdomen. Taban then
immediately fled.

Meanwhile, after Jimmy fell down, Tubo threw a drinking glass at Andrews face while petitioner boxed
Andrews jaw. Tubo stabbed Jimmy who was then lying face down on the ground twice on the back with
an ice pick after which he fled. Petitioner then boxed Jimmys mouth. At this juncture, Balani rushed to
Jimmys aid and boxed petitioner who retaliated by punching
Balani. Thereafter, petitioner left the scene. Mabayo was unable to help Jimmy or

Andrew because he was shocked by the incident.

After the incident, Jimmy was brought to the clinic of Dr. Precioso Tacandang (Dr. Tacandang). Jimmy
was then in critical condition, thus, Dr. Tacandang advised the relatives of Jimmy to bring him to the
Northern Mindanao Regional Training Hospital. Upon arrival at the aforesaid hospital, Jimmy was declared
dead by the attending physician, Dr. Cedric Dael (Dr. Dael). Jimmy sustained a vital or mortal stab wound
at the epigastric area four centimeters below the cyphoid process and another stab wound on the left
lumbar. Andrew, who sustained minor injuries, was treated by Dr. Dael.

Version of the Defense

On the night of the stabbing incident, Taban, Tubo and petitioner were drinking liquor in the house of
Osep. Taban left the group to urinate on a nearby coconut tree. Outside Oseps house, he was suddenly
boxed by Andrew and kicked by Jimmy causing him to fall near a fishing boat. There Taban found a fishing
knife with which he stabbed Jimmy and Andrew in order to defend himself. After which, he fled for fear
for his life. Meanwhile, petitioner went out to look for Taban. As he was stepping out of Oseps house, he
was boxed by Balani. Petitioner fought back. Andrew tried to help Balani but petitioner was able to evade
Andrews attacks. Instead, petitioner was able to box Andrew. Petitioner then called out to Tubo to come
out and run. When Tubo stepped out of the house, neither Taban nor petitioner was present but he saw
a person being lifted by several people. Upon seeing this, Tubo, likewise, fled for fear for his life.
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On May 16, 1995, the RTC rendered a judgment finding petitioner and Tubo guilty of
homicide[8] and all three accused (petitioner, Tubo and Taban) guilty of frustrated homicide, viz:

1) In Criminal Case No. 92-079, accused Rosie Quidet and Aurelio Tubo are
hereby sentenced, there being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances present,
to the penalty of EIGHT (8) YEARS AND ONE (1) DAY OF PRISION MAYOR with its
medium period as minimum under the Indeterminate Sentence Law to FOURTEEN
(14) YEARS, EIGHT (8) MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY OF RECLUSION TEMPORAL in
its medium period [as maximum] under the same law.

2) In Criminal Case No. 92-080 for Frustrated Homicide, there being no mitigating
or aggravating circumstances present, this court hereby sentences all the accused
[Feliciano Taban, Jr., Rosie Quidet and Aurelio Tubo] in this case to an Indeterminate
Sentence [Law] of FOUR (4) YEARS OF PRISION CORRECCIONAL in its medium
period as the minimum under the Indeterminate Sentence Law to TEN (10) YEARS
OF PRISION MAYOR in its medium period as the maximum under the same law. With
costs.

3) To pay jointly and severally the heirs of Jimmy Tagarda in the sum
of P50,000.00 for Criminal Case No. 92-079;

4) And likewise to pay solidarily the heirs of the victim Andrew Tagarda the sum
of P10,000.00 for committing the crime of Frustrated Homicide.[9]

The period of preventive imprisonment during which the accused were detained
pending the trial of these cases shall be credited in full in favor of all the accused.
SO ORDERED.[10]

The trial court found that the stabbing of Jimmy and Andrew was previously planned by the accused. The
active participation of all three accused proved conspiracy in the commission of the crimes. Furthermore,
the positive identification of the accused by the prosecution witnesses cannot be offset by the defense of
plain denial.

From this judgment, only petitioner appealed to the CA.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On July 22, 2005, the CA promulgated the assailed Decision, affirming with modifications, the judgment
of the RTC, viz:
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. The assailed
decision is hereby AFFIRMED with the following modifications: (a) That in Criminal Case
No. 92-080 the crime is only Attempted Homicide; and (b) the civil indemnity in the
amount of ten thousand (P10,000.00) pesos which was awarded to the heirs of Andrew
Tagarda be deleted as the same has not been fully substantiated. No costs.

SO ORDERED.[11]

In upholding the conviction of the accused for homicide, the CA held that conspiracy was duly established
as shown by the concerted acts of the accused in inflicting mortal wounds on Jimmy. Hence, all of the
accused are guilty of homicide for the death of Jimmy.

The CA, however, disagreed with the trial courts finding that the accused are liable for frustrated homicide
with respect to the injuries sustained by Andrew. According to the CA, the accused failed to inflict mortal
wounds on Andrew because the latter successfully deflected the attack. Andrew suffered only minor
injuries which could have healed within five to seven days even without medical treatment. The crime
committed, therefore, is merely attempted homicide.

The CA also deleted the award of civil indemnity to the heirs of Andrew because the same was not fully
substantiated.

Issue
Whether the Decision of the CA finding petitioner to have acted in conspiracy with the other
accused (Taban and Tubo) in the commission of the offenses charged is in accordance with law and/or
jurisprudence.[12]

Petitioners Arguments

Petitioner claims that the evidence merely established that: (1) Taban went out of Oseps store
while petitioner and Tubo remained inside; (2) a commotion took place between Taban and Andrew; (3)
after this altercation, petitioner and Tubo stepped out of Oseps store; and (4) petitioners participation in
the incident is limited to boxing Andrew after the latter had already been stabbed by Taban, and boxing
Jimmys mouth after the latter had been stabbed by Taban and Tubo in succession.

Petitioner insists that it cannot be said that he had the same criminal purpose and design as Taban
and Tubo. His participation was not necessary to the completion of the criminal acts because by the time
he boxed Andrew and Jimmy, the stabbing had already taken place. The evidence further established that
the stabbing incident was purely accidental and that the accused had no grudge against the victims. Also,
petitioner was unarmed negating his intent to kill.

Petitioner also cites People v. Vistido[13] where it was ruled that conspiracy was not established
under facts similar to the present case. In Vistido, the accused was merely convicted of slight physical
injuries.

Respondents Arguments

Respondent contends that conspiracy was duly established. Petitioner was not merely present
during the commission of the crime but he aided Taban and Tubo by inflicting blows on Andrew and
Jimmy after the latter were stabbed. The simultaneous movement of the accused towards the victims and
their successive escape from the crime scene clearly evince conspiracy. Respondent also stresses that the
factual findings of the trial court should be accorded respect for it is in a better position to evaluate
testimonial evidence.

Our Ruling

The petition is partly meritorious.


The existence of conspiracy was not proved beyond
reasonable doubt. Thus, petitioner is criminally liable only
for his individual acts.

Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission
of a felony and decide to commit it.[14] The essence of conspiracy is the unity of action and purpose.[15] Its
elements, like the physical acts constituting the crime itself, must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
When there is conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all.

Conspiracy can be inferred from and established by the acts of the accused themselves when said
acts point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action and community of interests.[16] However, in
determining whether conspiracy exists, it is not sufficient that the attack be joint and simultaneous for
simultaneousness does not of itself demonstrate the concurrence of will or unity of action and purpose
which are the bases of the responsibility of the assailants.[17] What is determinative is proof establishing
that the accused were animated by one and the same purpose.[18]

As a general rule, factual findings of the trial court, which is in a better position to evaluate the
testimonial evidence, are accorded respect by this Court. But where the trial court overlooked,
misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which can affect the
result of the case, this Court is duty-bound to correct this palpable error for the right to liberty, which
stands second only to life in the hierarchy of constitutional rights, cannot be lightly taken away. In the
instant case, we find that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner
conspired with Taban and Tubo in committing the crimes of homicide and attempted homicide.

Both the trial court and the CA ruled that the evidence duly established conspiracy. In particular,
the CA noted:
[T]his Court HOLDS that there was conspiracy. x x x

With respect to Criminal Case No. 92-080 (for frustrated homicide), it was
revealed that after Andrews chest was stabbed by Taban, Tubo also threw a drinking
glass at Andrews fa