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Republic of the Philippines Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of its discretion in ordering a separate trial as to Asian

SUPREME COURT Bank (Metrobank) on the ground that the issue against Asian Bank was distinct and separate
Manila from that against the original defendants. Thereby, the Sandiganbayan veered away from the
general rule of having all the issues in every case tried at one time, unreasonably shunting
FIRST DIVISION aside the dictum in Corrigan, supra, that a “single trial will generally lessen the delay, expense,
and inconvenience to the parties and the courts.” Exceptions to the general rule are permitted
only when there are extraordinary grounds for conducting separate trials on different issues
G.R. No. 169677 February 18, 2013
raised in the same case, or when separate trials of the issues will avoid prejudice, or when
separate trials of the issues will further convenience, or when separate trials of the issues will
METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, as successor-in-interest of ASIAN BANK promote justice, or when separate trials of the issues will give a fair trial to all parties.
CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. HON. EDILBERTO G. SANDOVAL, HON. FRANCISCO H. Otherwise, the general rule must apply.
VILLARUZ, JR. and HON. RODOLFO A. PONFERRADA (in their capacities as Chairman and
Members, respectively, of the Second Division of SANDIGANBAYAN) and the REPUBLIC OF Same; Courts; Sandiganbayan; Jurisdiction; Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended by
THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents. Republic Act No. 7975 and Republic Act No. 8249, vests the Sandiganbayan with original
exclusive jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases instituted pursuant to and in connection with
Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Separate Trials; The rule on separate trials in civil actions is Executive Orders No. 1, No. 2, No. 14 and No. 14A, issued in 1986 by then President Corazon C.
found in Section 2, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court.—The rule on separate trials in civil actions is Aquino.—Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended by Republic Act No. 7975 and Republic
found in Section 2, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court, which reads: Section 2. Separate trials.—The Act No. 8249, vests the Sandiganbayan with original exclusive jurisdiction over civil and
court, in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice, may order a separate trial of any criminal cases instituted pursuant to and in connection with Executive Orders No. 1, No. 2, No.
claim, crossclaim, counterclaim, or thirdparty complaint, or of any separate issue or of any 14 and No. 14A, issued in 1986 by then President Corazon C. Aquino. Executive Order No. 1
number of claims, crossclaims, counterclaims, thirdparty complaints or issues. The text of the refers to cases of recovery and sequestration of illgotten wealth amassed by the Marcoses
rule grants to the trial court the discretion to determine if a separate trial of any claim, their relatives, subordinates, and close associates, directly or through nominees, by taking
crossclaim, counterclaim, or thirdparty complaint, or of any separate issue or of any number undue advantage of their public office and/or by using their powers, authority, influence,
of claims, crossclaims, counterclaims, thirdparty complaints or issues should be held, provided connections or relationships. Executive Order No. 2 states that the illgotten wealth includes
that the exercise of such discretion is in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice to assets and properties in the form of estates and real properties in the Philippines and abroad.
any party. Executive Orders No. 14 and No. 14A pertain to the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction over criminal
and civil cases relative to the illgotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies.
Same; Same; Same; Generally speaking, a lawsuit should not be tried piecemeal, or at least
such a trial should be undertaken only with great caution and sparingly; Separate trials of issues Same; Same; Same; Same; The Sandiganbayan has original and exclusive jurisdiction not only
should be ordered where such separation will avoid prejudice, further convenience, promote over principal causes of action involving recovery of illgotten wealth, but also over all incidents
justice, and give a fair trial to all parties.—Corpus Juris Secundum makes clear that neither arising from, incidental to, or related to such cases.—The Sandiganbayan has original exclusive
party had an absolute right to have a separate trial of an issue; hence, the motion to that effect jurisdiction over the claim against Asian Bank, for the Court has ruled in Presidential
should be allowed only to avoid prejudice, further convenience, promote justice, and give a Commission on Good Government v. Sandiganbayan, 326 SCRA 346 (2000), that “the
fair trial to all parties, to wit: Generally speaking, a lawsuit should not be tried piecemeal, or Sandiganbayan has original and exclusive jurisdiction not only over principal causes of action
at least such a trial should be undertaken only with great caution and sparingly. There should involving recovery of illgotten wealth, but also over all incidents arising from, incidental to, or
be one full and comprehensive trial covering all disputed matters, and parties cannot, as of related to such cases.” The Court made a similar pronouncement sustaining the jurisdiction of
right, have a trial divided. It is the policy of the law to limit the number of trials as far as the Sandiganbayan in Republic of the Philippines (PCGG) v. Sandiganbayan (First Division), 258
possible, and separate trials are granted only in exceptional cases. Even under a statute SCRA 685 (1996), to wit: We cannot possibly sustain such a puerile stand. Peña itself already
permitting trials of separate issues, neither party has an absolute right to have a separate trial dealt with the matter when it stated that under Section 2 of Executive Order No. 14, all cases
of an issue involved. The trial of all issues together is especially appropriate in an action at law of the Commission regarding alleged illgotten properties of former President Marcos and his
wherein the issues are not complicated, x x x, or where the issues are basically the same x x x relatives, subordinates, cronies, nominees and so forth, whether civil or criminal, are lodged
x x x Separate trials of issues should be ordered where such separation will avoid prejudice, within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, “and all incidents arising
further convenience, promote justice, and give a fair trial to all parties. from, incidental to, or related to such cases necessarily fall likewise under the Sandiganbayan’s
exclusive and original jurisdiction, subject to review on certiorari exclusively by the Supreme
Same; Same; Same; Exceptions to the general rule are permitted only when there are Court.”
extraordinary grounds for conducting separate trials on different issues raised in the same case,
or when separate trials of the issues will avoid prejudice, or when separate trials of the issues DECISION
will further convenience, or when separate trials of the issues will promote justice, or when
separate trials of the issues will give a fair trial to all parties.—We conclude that the
BERSAMIN, J.: respect to Asian Bank was whether Asian Bank had actual or constructive knowledge at the
time of the issuance of the TCTs for the properties in its name that such properties were the
The court, in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice, may order a separate trial of subject of the complaint in Civil Case No. 0004, while the issue as to the original defendants
any claim, cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party complaint, or of any separate issue or of was whether they had "committed the acts complained of as constituting illegal or unlawful
any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-party complaints or issues.1 But a accumulation of wealth which would, as a consequence, justify forfeiture of the said properties
separate trial may be denied if a party is thereby deprived of his right to be heard upon an or the satisfaction from said properties of the judgement that may be rendered in favor of the
issue dealt with and determined in the main trial. Republic."10

Through this special civil action for certiorari, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company Asian Bank’s rejoinder to the Republic’s reply asserted that the issue concerning its supposed
(Metrobank) hereby seeks to set aside and nullify the resolutions dated June 25, 20042 and actual or constructive knowledge of the properties being the subject of the complaint in Civil
July 13, 20053 issued in Civil Case No. 0004, whereby the Sandiganbayan granted the motion Case No. 0004 was intimately related to the issue delving on the character of the properties as
for separate trial filed by the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), and upheld its jurisdiction the ill-gotten wealth of the original defendants; that it thus had a right to confront the evidence
over the Republic’s claim against the petitioner as the successor-in-interest of Asian Bank presented by the Republic as to the character of the properties; and that the Sandiganbayan
Corporation (Asian Bank). had no jurisdiction to decide Asian Bank’s ownership of the properties because the
Sandiganbayan, being a special court with limited jurisdiction, could only determine the issue
of whether or not the properties were illegally acquired by the original defendants.11
Antecedents

On June 25, 2004, the Sandiganbayan issued the first assailed resolution granting the
On July 17, 1987, the Republic brought a complaint for reversion, reconveyance, restitution,
Republic’s motion for separate trial, giving its reasons as follows:
accounting and damages in the Sandiganbayan against Andres V. Genito, Jr., Ferdinand E.
Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos and other defendants. The action was obviously to recover allegedly
ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, their nominees, dummies and agents. Among the properties xxxx
subject of the action were two parcels of commercial land located in Tandang Sora (Old Balara),
Quezon City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 2664234 and TCT No. 2665885 A cursory reading of the comment filed by defendant Asian Bank to plaintiff’s request for a
of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City registered in the names of Spouses Andres V. Genito, separate trial would readily reveal that defendant is not actually opposing the conduct of a
Jr. and Ludivina L. Genito. separate trial insofar as the said bank is concerned. What it seeks is the opportunity to confront
the witnesses and whatever documentary exhibits that may have been earlier presented by
On February 5, 2001, the Republic moved for the amendment of the complaint in order to plaintiff in the case before the Court grants a separate trial. This being the situation, we find
implead Asian Bank as an additional defendant. The Sandiganbayan granted the motion.6 It no reason to deny the motion in light of plaintiff’s position that its claim as against Asian Bank
appears that Asian Bank claimed ownership of the two parcels of land as the registered owner is entirely separate and distinct from its claims as against the original defendants, albeit dealing
by virtue of TCT No. N-201383 and TCT No. N-201384 issued in its name by the Registry of with the same subject matter. In fact, as shown by the allegations of the Second Amended
Deeds of Quezon City. Asian Bank was also in possession of the properties by virtue of the writ Complaint where Asian Bank was impleaded as a party defendant, the action against the latter
of possession issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Quezon City.7 is anchored on the claim that its acquisition of the subject properties was tainted with bad
faith because of its actual or constructive knowledge that the said properties are subject of the
present recovery suit at the time it acquired the certificates of title covering the said properties
When the Republic was about to terminate its presentation of evidence against the original
in its name. Consequently, whether or not it is ultimately established that the properties are
defendants in Civil Case No. 0004, it moved to hold a separate trial against Asian Bank.8
ill-gotten wealth is of no actual significance to the incident pending consideration since the
action against defendant bank is predicated not on the claim that it had knowledge of the ill-
Commenting on the motion, Asian Bank sought the deferment of any action on the motion gotten wealth character of the properties in question but rather on whether or not it had
until it was first given the opportunity to test and assail the testimonial and documentary knowledge, actual or constructive, of the fact that the properties it registered in its name are
evidence the Republic had already presented against the original defendants, and contended the subject of the instant recovery suit. Besides, plaintiff already admits that the evidence it
that it would be deprived of its day in court if a separate trial were to be held against it without had presented as against the original defendants would not apply to defendant bank for the
having been sufficiently apprised about the evidence the Republic had adduced before it was reason that there is no allegation in the second amended complaint imputing responsibility or
brought in as an additional defendant.9 participation on the part of the said bank insofar as the issue of accumulation of wealth by the
original defendants are concerned. Thus, there appears no basis for defendant bank’s
In its reply to Asian Bank’s comment, the Republic maintained that a separate trial for Asian apprehension that it would be deprived of its right to due process if its not given the
Bank was proper because its cause of action against Asian Bank was entirely distinct and opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses presented prior to its inclusion as party defendant
independent from its cause of action against the original defendants; and that the issue with in the case. To reiterate, the only issue insofar as defendant bank is concerned is whether there
is evidence to show that it acquired the titles to the sequestered properties in bad faith.
Neither are we inclined to sustain defendant’s bank argument that the Court cannot grant a wealth" is equally important and relevant for Asian Bank Corporation as it is for the other
separate trial in this case because it has no jurisdiction over the claim that defendant bank defendants considering that the issue of its alleged acquisition in bad faith of the subject
acquired the properties in bad faith. Indeed, the issue of defendant bank’s acquisition of the properties is premised on Respondent Republic of the Philippines’ claim that the subject
properties in bad faith is merely incidental to the main action which is for reversion, properties form part of the ill-gotten wealth of the late President Marcos and his cronies. Such
reconveyance, restitution, accounting and damages. It is axiomatic that jurisdiction over the being the case, Asian Bank Corporation is entitled as a matter of right to contest whatever
subject matter of a case is conferred by law and is determined by the allegations in the evidence was presented by Respondent Republic of the Philippines on these two (2) issues,
complaint and the character of the relief sought, irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled specifically the character and nature of the subject properties.
to all or some of the claims asserted therein (Russell v. Vestil, 304 SCRA 738; Saura v. Saura,
Jr., 313 SCRA 465).12 8.03 It must be stressed that the discretion of the court to order a separate trial of such issues
should only be exercised where the issue ordered to be separately tried is so independent of
Asian Bank moved for the reconsideration of the resolution, but the Sandiganbayan denied its the other issues that its trial will in no way involve the trial of the issues to be thereafter tried
motion through the second assailed resolution issued on July 13, 2005.13 and where the determination of that issues will satisfactorily and with practical certainty
dispose of the case, if decided for defendant. Considering that the issue on Asian Bank
Hence, Metrobank commenced this special civil action for certiorari as the successor-in- Corporation’s alleged acquisition in bad faith of the subject properties is intimately related to
interest of Asian Bank and transferee of the properties.14 the issue on the character and nature of the subject properties as ill-gotten wealth of the other
defendants in the instant civil case, there is absolutely no legal or factual basis for the holding
of a separate trial against Asian Bank Corporation.17
Issues

As to the third issue, Metrobank posits that Asian Bank acquired the properties long after they
Metrobank contends that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in ruling
had been acquired by the original defendants supposedly through unlawful means; that the
that: (1) the Republic was entitled to a separate trial against Asian Bank; (2) the only issue as
Republic admitted that the evidence adduced against the original defendants would not apply
regards Asian Bank was whether there was evidence that Asian Bank acquired the properties
to Asian Bank because the amended complaint in Civil Case No. 0004 did not impute any
in bad faith; and
responsibility to Asian Bank for the accumulation of wealth by the original defendants, or did
not allege that Asian Bank had participated in such accumulation of wealth; that there was also
(3) the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over the issue of Asian Bank’s alleged bad faith in no allegation or proof that Asian Bank had been a business associate, dummy, nominee or
acquiring the properties.15 agent of the Marcoses; that the inclusion of Asian Bank was not warranted under the law; that
Asian Bank was a transferee in good faith and for valuable consideration; that the
Anent the first issue, Metrobank states that the holding of a separate trial would deny it due Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over civil cases against innocent purchasers for value like
process, because Asian Bank was entitled to contest the evidence of the Republic against the Asian Bank that had no notice of the allegedly ill-gotten nature of the properties; and that
original defendants prior to Asian Bank’s inclusion as an additional defendant; that Asian Bank considering the admission of the Republic that the issue on the accumulation of wealth by the
(Metrobank) would be deprived of its day in court if a separate trial was held against it, original defendants did not at all concern Asian Bank, it follows that the Sandiganbayan had no
considering that the Republic had already presented such evidence prior to its being impleaded jurisdiction to pass judgment on the validity of Asian Bank’s ownership of the properties.18
as an additional defendant; that such evidence would be hearsay unless Asian Bank
(Metrobank) was afforded the opportunity to test and to object to the admissibility of the In contrast, the Republic insists that the Rules of Court allowed separate trials if the issues or
evidence; that because Asian Bank disputed the allegedly ill-gotten character of the properties claims against several defendants were entirely distinct and separate, notwithstanding that
and denied any involvement in their allegedly unlawful acquisition or any connivance with the the main claim against the original defendants and the issue against Asian Bank involved the
original defendants in their acquisition, Asian Bank should be given the opportunity to refute same properties; that the allegations in the case against Spouses Genito and the other original
the Republic’s adverse evidence on the allegedly illgotten nature of the properties.16 defendants pertained to the Republic’s claim that the properties listed in Annex A of the
original complaint constituted ill-gotten wealth, resulting in the probable forfeiture of the
With respect to the second issue, Metrobank submits thuswise: listed properties should the Republic establish in the end that such original defendants had
illegally or unlawfully acquired such properties; that although the Republic conceded that
8.02 x x x the Honorable Sandiganbayan failed to consider that Respondent Republic of the neither Asian Bank nor Metrobank had any participation whatsoever in the commission of the
Philippines’ claim for the recovery of the subject properties from Asian Bank Corporation is illegal or unlawful acts, the only issue relevant to Metrobank being whether it had knowledge
anchored mainly on its allegations that: a) the subject properties constitute ill-gotten wealth that the properties had been in custodia legis at the time of its acquisition of them to
of the other defendants in the instant civil case; and, b) Asian Bank Corporation acquired the determine its allegation of being an innocent purchaser for valuable consideration; that
subject properties in bad faith and with due notice of the pendency of the ill-gotten wealth because the properties were situated in the heart of Quezon City, whose land records had
case. In other words, the determination of the character of the subject properties as "ill-gotten been destroyed by fire in 1998, resulting in the rampant proliferation of fake land titles, Asian
Bank should have acted with extra caution in ascertaining the validity of the mortgagor’s
certificates of title; and that the series of transactions involving the properties was made under xxxx
dubious circumstances.19
(b) Separate Trials. The court, in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice, or when
The Republic posits that the Sandiganbayan had exclusive original jurisdiction over all cases separate trials will be conducive to expedition and economy, may order a separate trial of any
involving the recovery of ill-gotten wealth pursuant to Executive Orders No. 1, No. 2, No. 14 claim, crossclaim, counterclaim, or third-party claim, or of any separate issue or of any number
and No. 14-A issued in 1986, laws encompassing the recovery of sequestered properties of claims, crossclaims, counterclaims, third-party claims, or issues, always preserving the
disposed of by the original defendants while such properties remained in custodia legis and inviolate right of trial by jury as declared by the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution or as
pending the final resolution of the suit; and that the properties pertaining to Spouses Genito given by a statute of the United States.
were among the properties placed under the writs of sequestration issued by the Presidential
Commission on Good Government (PCGG), thereby effectively putting such properties in The US Federal Courts have applied Rule 42(b) by using several principles and parameters
custodia legis and rendering them beyond disposition except upon the prior approval of the whose application in this jurisdiction may be warranted because our rule on separate trials has
Sandiganbayan.20 been patterned after the original version of Rule 42(b).21 There is no obstacle to adopting such
principles and parameters as guides in the application of our own rule on separate trials. This
Ruling is because, generally speaking, the Court has randomly accepted the practices in the US Courts
in the elucidation and application of our own rules of procedure that have themselves
The petition for certiorari is partly meritorious. originated from or been inspired by the practice and procedure in the Federal Courts and the
various US State Courts.
The Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in granting the Republic’s motion for separate
trial, but was correct in upholding its jurisdiction over the Republic’s claim against Asian Bank In Bowers v. Navistar International Transport Corporation,22 we find the following explanation
(Metrobank). made by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on the objectives of having
separate trials, to wit:
First and Second Issues: Separate Trials are Improper
The aim and purpose of the Rule is aptly summarized in C. Wright and A Miller’s Federal
Practice and Procedure:
The first and second issues, being interrelated, are jointly discussed and resolved.

The provision for separate trials in Rule 42 (b) is intended to further convenience, avoid delay
The rule on separate trials in civil actions is found in Section 2, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court,
and prejudice, and serve the ends of justice. It is the interest of efficient judicial administration
which reads:
that is to be controlling rather than the wishes of the parties. The piecemeal trial of separate
issues in a single suit is not to be the usual course. It should be resorted to only in the exercise
Section 2. Separate trials. – The court, in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice, of informed discretion when the court believes that separation will achieve the purposes of
may order a separate trial of any claim, cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party complaint, or the rule.
of any separate issue or of any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-party
complaints or issues.
xxxx

The text of the rule grants to the trial court the discretion to determine if a separate trial of
As explained recently by the Second Circuit in United v. Alcan Aluminum Corp., Nos. 92-6158,
any claim, cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party complaint, or of any separate issue or of
6160 1993 WL 100100, 1 (2d Cir., April 6, 1993), the purpose of separate trials under Rule 42
any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-party complaints or issues should be
(b) is to "isolate issues to be resolved, avoid lengthy and perhaps needless litigation . . . and to
held, provided that the exercise of such discretion is in furtherance of convenience or to avoid
encourage settlement discussions and speed up remedial action." (citing, Amoco Oil v. Borden,
prejudice to any party.
Inc., 889 F.2d 664, 668 (5th Cir. 1989); Katsaros v. Cody, 744 F.2d 270, 278 (2d Cir.), cert. denied
sub nom., 469 U.S. 1072, 105 S. Ct. 565, 83 L. Ed. 2d 506 (1984) (separate trials are proper to
The rule is almost identical with Rule 42(b) of the United States Federal Rules of Civil Procedure further convenience or to avoid prejudice); Ismail v. Cohen, 706 F. Supp. 243, 251 (S.D.N.Y.
(Federal Rules), a provision that governs separate trials in the United States Federal Courts (US 1989) (quoting, United States v. International Business Machines Corp., 60 F.R.D. 654, 657
Federal Courts), viz: (S.D.N.Y. 1973) (separate trials under Rule 42 (b) are appropriate, although not mandatory, to
"(1) avoid prejudice; (2) provide for convenience, or (3) expedite the proceedings and be
Rule 42. Consolidation; Separate Trials. economical.") Separate trials, however, remain the exception rather than the rule. See, e.g.,
Response of Carolina, Inc. v. Leasco Response, Inc., 537 F.2d 137 (5th Cir. 1976) xxx (separation
of issues is not the usual course under Rule 42 (b)). The moving party bears the burden of
establishing that separate trials are necessary to prevent prejudice or confusion and serve the this practice that distinct causes of action asserted in the same case may be made the subjects
ends of justice. Buscemi v. Pepsico, Inc., 736 F. Supp. 1267, 1271 (S.D.N.Y. 1990). of separate trials. Whether this reasonably may be done in any particular instance rests largely
in the court’s discretion.
In Divine Restoration Apostolic Church v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.,23 the US District
Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division specified that separate trials Further, Corpus Juris Secundum26 makes clear that neither party had an absolute right to have
remained the exception, and emphasized that the moving party had the burden to establish a separate trial of an issue; hence, the motion to that effect should be allowed only to avoid
the necessity for the separation of issues, viz: prejudice, further convenience, promote justice, and give a fair trial to all parties, to wit:

Rule 42 (b) provides that a court has discretion to order separate trials of claims "in furtherance Generally speaking, a lawsuit should not be tried piecemeal, or at least such a trial should be
of convenience or to avoid prejudice, or when separate trials will be conducive to expedition undertaken only with great caution and sparingly. There should be one full and comprehensive
and economy." FED. R. CIV. P.42 (b). Thus, the two primary factors to be considered in trial covering all disputed matters, and parties cannot, as of right, have a trial divided. It is the
determining whether to order separate trials are efficient judicial administration and potential policy of the law to limit the number of trials as far as possible, and
prejudice. Separation of issues for separate trials is "not the usual course that should be
followed," McDaniel v. Anheuser-Bush, Inc., 987 F. 2d 298, 304 (5th Cir. 1993), and the burden separate trials are granted only in exceptional cases. Even under a statute permitting trials of
is on the party seeking separate trials to prove that separation is necessary. 9A CHARLES ALAN separate issues, neither party has an absolute right to have a separate trial of an issue involved.
WRIGHT, ARTHUR R. MILLER & MARY KAY KANE, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE 2388 The trial of all issues together is especially appropriate in an action at law wherein the issues
(3d ed. 2001). are not complicated, x x x, or where the issues are basically the same x x x

xxxx x x x Separate trials of issues should be ordered where such separation will avoid prejudice,
further convenience, promote justice, and give a fair trial to all parties.
Still, in Corrigan v. Methodist Hospital,24 the US District Court for the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania has cautioned against the unfettered granting of separate trials, thusly: Bearing in mind the foregoing principles and parameters defined by the relevant US case law,
we conclude that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of its discretion in ordering a
Courts order separate trials only when "clearly necessary." Wetherill v. University of Chicago, separate trial as to Asian Bank (Metrobank) on the ground that the issue against Asian Bank
565 F. Supp. 1553, 1566-67 (N.D. Ill. 1983) (citing 5 James William Moore, Moore’s Federal was distinct and separate from that against the original defendants. Thereby, the
Practice at pp. 42-37 to 42-38 & n.4 (1982)). This is because a "single trial will generally lessen Sandiganbayan veered away from the general rule of having all the issues in every case tried
the delay, expense, and inconvenience to the parties and the courts." 5 James William Moore, at one time, unreasonably shunting aside the dictum in Corrigan, supra, that a "single trial will
Moore’s Federal Practice P. 42-03[1], at p. 42-43 (1994); Laitram Corp. v. Hewlett-Packard Co., generally lessen the delay, expense, and inconvenience to the parties and the courts."27
791 F. Supp. 113, 115 (E.D. La. 1992); Willemijn Houdstermaatschaapij BV. V. Apollo Computer,
707 F. Supp. 1429, 1433 (D. Del. 1989). The movant has the burden to show prejudice. Moore Exceptions to the general rule are permitted only when there are extraordinary grounds for
at p. 42-48. conducting separate trials on different issues raised in the same case, or when separate trials
of the issues will avoid prejudice, or when separate trials of the issues will further convenience,
x x x A Colorado District Court found three factors to weigh in determining whether to order or when separate trials of the issues will promote justice, or when separate trials of the issues
separate trials for separate defendants. These are 1) whether separate trials would further the will give a fair trial to all parties. Otherwise, the general rule must apply.
convenience of the parties; 2) whether separate trials would promote judicial economy; and
3) whether separate trials would avoid substantial prejudice to the parties. As we see it, however, the justification of the Sandiganbayan for allowing the separate trial did
not constitute a special or compelling reason like any of the exceptions. To begin with, the
Tri-R Sys. V. Friedman & Son, 94 F.R.D. 726, 727 (D. Colo. 1982). issue relevant to Asian Bank was not complicated. In that context, the separate trial would not
be in furtherance of convenience. And, secondly, the cause of action against Asian Bank was
In Miller v. American Bonding Company,25 the US Supreme Court has delimited the holding of necessarily connected with the cause of action against the original defendants.1âwphi1 Should
separate trials to only the exceptional instances where there were special and persuasive the Sandiganbayan resolve the issue against Spouses Genito in a separate trial on the basis of
reasons for departing from the general practice of trying all issues in a case at only one time, the evidence adduced against the original defendants, the properties would be thereby
stating: adjudged as ill-gotten and liable to forfeiture in favor of the Republic without Metrobank being
given the opportunity to rebut or explain its side. The outcome would surely be prejudicial
towards Metrobank.
In actions at law, the general practice is to try all the issues in a case at one time; and it is only
in exceptional instances where there are special and persuasive reasons for departing from
The representation by the Republic in its comment to the petition of Metrobank, that the latter sequestration of the properties as ill-gotten wealth has made the cause of action against Asian
"merely seeks to be afforded the opportunity to confront the witnesses and documentary Bank incidental or necessarily connected to the cause of action against the original defendants.
exhibits," and that it will "still be granted said right during the conduct of the separate trial, if Consequently, the Sandiganbayan has original exclusive jurisdiction over the claim against
proper grounds are presented therefor,"28 unfairly dismisses the objective possibility of leaving Asian Bank, for the Court has ruled in Presidential Commission on Good Government v.
the opportunity to confront the witnesses and documentary exhibits to be given to Metrobank Sandiganbayan,34 that "the Sandiganbayan has original and exclusive jurisdiction not only over
in the separate trial as already too late. The properties, though already registered in the name principal causes of action involving recovery of ill-gotten wealth, but also over all incidents
of Asian Bank, would be meanwhile declared liable to forfeiture in favor of the Republic, arising from, incidental to, or related to such cases." The Court made a similar pronouncement
causing Metrobank to suffer the deprivation of its properties without due process of law. Only sustaining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan in Republic of the Philippines (PCGG) v.
a joint trial with the original defendants could afford to Metrobank the equal and efficient Sandiganbayan (First Division),35 to wit:
opportunity to confront and to contest all the evidence bearing on its ownership of the
properties. Hence, the disadvantages that a separate trial would cause to Metrobank would We cannot possibly sustain such a puerile stand. Peña itself already dealt with the matter when
far outweigh any good or benefit that the Republic would seemingly stand to gain from the it stated that under Section 2 of Executive Order No. 14, all cases of the Commission regarding
separation of trials. alleged illgotten properties of former President Marcos and his relatives, subordinates,
cronies, nominees and so forth, whether civil or criminal, are
We must safeguard Metrobank’s right to be heard in the defense of its registered ownership
of the properties, for that is what our Constitution requires us to do. Hence, the grant by the lodged within the exclusive and original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, "and all incidents
Sandiganbayan of the Republic’s motion for separate trial, not being in furtherance of arising from, incidental to, or related to such cases necessarily fall likewise under the
convenience or would not avoid prejudice to a party, and being even contrary to the Sandiganbayan’s exclusive and original jurisdiction, subject to review on certiorari exclusively
Constitution, the law and jurisprudence, was arbitrary, and, therefore, a grave abuse of by the Supreme Court."
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the Sandiganbayan. 29
WHEREFORE, the Court PARTIALLY GRANTS the petition for certiorari.
Third Issue: Sandiganbayan has exclusive original jurisdiction over the matter involving
Metrobank
Let the writ of certiorari issue: (a) ANNULLING AND SETTING ASIDE the Resolution dated June
25, 2004 and the Resolution dated July 13, 2005 issued by the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case No.
Presidential Decree No. 1606,30 as amended by Republic Act No. 797531 and Republic Act No. 0004 granting the motion for separate trial of the Republic of the Philippines as to
8249,32 vests the Sandiganbayan with original exclusive jurisdiction over civil and criminal Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company; and (b), DIRECTING the Sandiganbayan to hear Civil
cases instituted pursuant to and in connection with Executive Orders No. 1, No. 2, No. 14 and Case No. 0004 against Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company in the same trial conducted
No. 14-A, issued in 1986 by then President Corazon C. Aquino. against the original defendants in Civil Case No. 0004.

Executive Order No. 1 refers to cases of recovery and sequestration of ill-gotten wealth The Court DECLARES that the Sandiganbayan has original exclusive jurisdiction over the
amassed by the Marcoses their relatives, subordinates, and close associates, directly or amended complaint in Civil Case No. 0004 as against Asian Bank Corporation/Metropolitan
through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or by using their Bank and Trust Company.
powers, authority, influence, connections or relationships. Executive Order No. 2 states that
the ill-gotten wealth includes assets and properties in the form of estates and real properties
No pronouncements on costs of suit.
in the Philippines and abroad. Executive Orders No. 14 and No. 14-A pertain to the
Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases relative to the ill-gotten wealth of
the Marcoses and their cronies. SO ORDERED.

The amended complaint filed by the Republic to implead Asian Bank prays for reversion, LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
reconveyance, reconstitution, accounting and damages. In other words, the Republic would Associate Justice
recover ill-gotten wealth, by virtue of which the properties in question came under
sequestration and are now, for that reason, in custodia legis.33

Although the Republic has not imputed any responsibility to Asian Bank for the illegal
accumulation of wealth by the original defendants, or has not averred that Asian Bank was a
business associate, dummy, nominee, or agent of the Marcoses, the allegation in its amended
complaint in Civil Case No. 0004 that Asian Bank acted with bad faith for ignoring the
Republic of the Philippines judgment. This type of consolidation does not merge the suits into a single action, or cause the
SUPREME COURT parties to one action to be parties to the other. (consolidation for trial)
Manila
Same; Same; Same; Same; Appeals; Since each action does not lose its distinct character,
SECOND DIVISION severance of one action from the other is not necessary to appeal a judgment already rendered
in one action. There is no rule or law prohibiting the appeal of a judgment or part of a judgment
in one case which is consolidated with other cases.―Since each action does not lose its distinct
G.R. No. 199501 March 6, 2013
character, severance of one action from the other is not necessary to appeal a judgment
already rendered in one action. There is no rule or law prohibiting the appeal of a judgment or
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, part of a judgment in one case which is consolidated with other cases. Further, severance is
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, REGION III, Petitioner, within the sound discretion of the court for convenience or to avoid prejudice. It is not
vs. HEIRS OF ENRIQUE ORIBELLO, JR. and THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF OLONGAPO CITY, mandatory under the Rules of Court that the court sever one case from the other cases before
Respondents. a party can appeal an adverse ruling on such case.

Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; “Final Order” and “Interlocutory Order,” Distinguished.—A final DECISION
order is defined as “one which disposes of the subject matter in its entirety or terminates a
particular proceeding or action, leaving nothing else to be done but to enforce by execution
CARPIO, J.:
what has been determined by the court.” Conversely, an interlocutory order “does not dispose
of the case completely but leaves something to be decided upon” by the court. Its effects are
merely provisional in character and substantial proceedings have to be further conducted by The Case
the court in order to finally resolve the issue or controversy.
This petition for review1 assails the 29 April 2011 Decision2 and 16 November 2011 Resolution3
Same; Same; Actions; Dismissal of Actions; Delay in Rendering Decision; To be a sufficient of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 90559. The Court of Appeals denied petitioner
ground for dismissal, delay must not only be lengthy but also unnecessary resulting in the Republic of the Philippines' (peitioner) appeal of the Order of the Regional Trial Court,
trifling of court processes.—Based on the records, petitioner has presented testimonial Olongapo City, Branch 72,4 which dismissed petitioner's action for reversion and cancellation
evidence on various hearing dates and marked numerous documents during the trial of Civil of Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-5004 in the name of Enrique Oribello, Jr. (Oribello ).
Case No. 225092. Such acts do not manifest lack of interest to prosecute. Admittedly there
was delay in this case. However, such delay is not the delay warranting dismissal of the The Facts
complaint. To be a sufficient ground for dismissal, delay must not only be lengthy but also
unnecessary resulting in the trifling of court processes. There is no proof that petitioner
The present controversy involves a parcel of land situated in Nagbaculao, Kalaklan, Olongapo
intended to delay the proceedings in this case, much less abuse judicial processes.
City, which was once classified as forest land by the Bureau of Forest Development. The
property was originally occupied by a certain Valentin Fernandez (Valentin) in 1968 by virtue
Same; Same; Same; Consolidation of Cases; Consolidation is a procedural device to aid the court
of a Residential Permit issued by the same government office.
in deciding how cases in its docket are to be tried so that the business of the court may be
dispatched expeditiously and with economy while providing justice to the parties.—
Consolidation is a procedural device to aid the court in deciding how cases in its docket are to Upon Valentin’s death, his son, Odillon Fernandez (Odillon), continued to occupy the property,
be tried so that the business of the court may be dispatched expeditiously and with economy together with spouses Ruperto and Matilde Apog. Sometime in 1969, Odillon sold the property
while providing justice to the parties. To promote this end, the rule allows the consolidation to a certain Mrs. Florentina Balcita who, later on, sold the same property to Oribello. Oribello
and a single trial of several cases in the court’s docket, or the consolidation of issues within filed a Miscellaneous Sales Application with the Department of Environment and Natural
those cases. The Court explained, thus: In the context of legal procedure, the term Resources (DENR), which denied the application since the land remained forest land.
“consolidation” is used in three different senses: (1) Where all except one of several actions
are stayed until one is tried, in which case the judgment in the one trial is conclusive as to the On 20 February 1987, the subject property was declared open to disposition under the Public
others. This is not actually consolidation but is referred to as such. (quasiconsolidation) (2) Land Act. Thus, Oribello filed another Miscellaneous Sales Application on 6 April 1987.
Where several actions are combined into one, lose their separate identity, and become a single
action in which a single judgment is rendered. This is illustrated by a situation where several On 27 March 1990, the Director of Lands issued an Order for the issuance of a patent in favor
actions are pending between the same parties stating claims which might have been set out of Oribello. On even date, Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. 12756 and OCT No. P-5004 were
originally in one complaint. (actual consolidation) (3) Where several actions are ordered to be issued to Oribello.
tried together but each retains its separate character and requires the entry of a separate
Matilde Apog (Apog) and Aliseo San Juan (San Juan),5 claiming to be actual occupants of the On several occasions when these cases were set for trial, neither Atty. Barcelo nor Atty. Pascua
property, protested with the DENR the issuance of the sales patent and OCT in favor of appeared, constraining the Court to postpone the hearing. The actuations of both lawyers
Oribello. They sought the annulment of the sales patent, arguing that Oribello and Land result to delay in the early termination of these cases which have been pending since 1992.
Inspector Dominador Laxa (Laxa) committed fraud and misrepresentation in the approval of
the Miscellaneous Sales Application of Oribello. They alleged that Laxa submitted a false report WHEREFORE, the Republic of the Philippines is hereby deemed to have abandoned the case
to the Director of Lands, by stating that there were no other claimants to the property and that for the government.
Oribello was the actual occupant thereof, when the contrary was true.
Attorney Dumpit for the defendant Matilde Apog, et al., is hereby required to manifest in
After investigation, the Regional Executive Director of the DENR found substantial evidence writing on whether or not he is adopting the evidence already presented by the Republic of
that fraud and misrepresentation were committed in the issuance of the sales patent in favor the Philippines, and if so, to make his offer of evidence within 30 days from today. Atty. Leyco
of Oribello, warranting a reversion suit. is given 10 days from receipt of a copy of his offer to file his comment or opposition. Let the
reception of evidence, if there be any on any part of Enrique Oribello, be set on October 24,
On 25 March 1992, the Office of the Solicitor General, representing petitioner, instituted a 1997 at 10:00 a.m. as previously scheduled. And in addition thereto on November 21, and
complaint for reversion and cancellation of title before the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo December 5, 1997 also both at 10:00 a.m. To give way to the filing of these pleadings, cancel
City, docketed as Civil Case No. 225-0-92. The case was thereafter consolidated with Civil Case the hearing scheduled for October 3, 1997.
No. 233-0-91, a complaint for recovery of possession filed by Oribello against Apog and San
Juan. Upon receipt of proof from the Post Office by this Court which will show that Atty. Pascua has
received a copy of the Order dated July 25, 1997, the Motion to hold him in contempt will be
During the trial, petitioner marked numerous documentary evidence and presented several deemed submitted for resolution. Furnish Atty. Barcelo, the Solicitor General, the Executive
witnesses on various hearing dates.6 Regional Director, DENR, R-III, Angeles City, and Atty. Oscar Pascua, a copy of this Order. Attys.
Dumpit and Leyco are both notified in open court of this Order.
In an Order dated 20 December 1996, the trial court warned petitioner on the possible effect
of its non-appearance on the next scheduled hearing, thus: SO ORDERED.9

WHEREFORE, let the continuation of the reception of evidence for the Republic of the The trial of the consolidated cases continued and the reception of evidence of the private
Philippines be reset to February 14, 21 and 28, 1997, all at 10:00 o’clock in the morning, as parties proceeded.
previously scheduled.
However, in its Order of 21 February 2005, the trial court dismissed the consolidated cases
The Solicitor General is warned that should his designated lawyer or any of his assistants fail without prejudice for non-substitution of the deceased plaintiff (Oribello) and his counsel, to
to appear on the dates above-stated, the Court will be constrained to consider the wit:
presentation of evidence for the Republic of the Philippines as terminated.
Considering that the plaintiff’s counsel is already dead, and the plaintiff is likewise dead
Atty. Dumpit, therefore, is advised that he bring his witnesses on said dates to testify for the already, there being no substitution of party-plaintiffs or any record showing the heirs or party
defendants Matilde Apog and Eliseo San Juan should the Solicitor General fail to appear and in interest, these cases are dismissed without prejudice.10
present evidence.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration, contending that the Order applied exclusively to Civil
xxxx Case No. 233-0-91 (for recovery of possession) and did not affect Civil Case No. 225-0-92 (for
reversion of property). Petitioner prayed that it be allowed to present its evidence.
SO ORDERED.7 (Emphasis supplied)
Acting favorably on the motion, the trial court allowed the continuation of the presentation of
On the hearing of 4 April 1997, Atty. Oscar Pascua, representing petitioner, presented a petitioner’s evidence in its Order dated 29 June 2005.11
witness on the stand.For petitioner’s failure to appear on the hearing of 12 September 1997,
the trial court issued an Order8 on even date holding as follows: Aggrieved, Oribello’s heirs filed a Manifestation and Motion, bringing to the attention of the
trial court the previous 12 September 1997 Order declaring petitioner to have abandoned the
On July 25, 1997, this Court issued an Order, quoted as follows: reversion case. Oribello’s heirs pointed out that from the time petitioner received the Order
in 1997, it did nothing to question the same, making the Order final.
In its Resolution of 12 July 2006, the trial court recalled its 29 June 2005 Order, and declared We agree with petitioner.
instead:
A final order is defined as "one which disposes of the subject matter in its entirety or
Finding merit in defendants’ Motion and Manifestation, the Order dated 29 June 2005 granting terminates a particular proceeding or action, leaving nothing else to be done but to enforce by
the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the Solicitor General is recalled and the above-entitled execution what has been determined by the court."16
case is DISMISSED.
Conversely, an interlocutory order "does not dispose of the case completely but leaves
SO RESOLVED.12 something to be decided upon"17 by the court. Its effects are merely provisional in character
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals. and substantial proceedings have to be further conducted by the court in order to finally
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals resolve the issue or controversy.18

Based on the records, petitioner has presented testimonial evidence on various hearing dates
The Court of Appeals denied petitioner’s appeal. The Court of Appeals held "that the remedy and marked numerous documents during the trial of Civil Case No. 225-0-92. Such acts do not
of appeal is no longer available" to petitioner. The appellate court agreed with respondents manifest lack of interest to prosecute. Admittedly there was delay in this case. However, such
that petitioner has lost its right to participate in the proceedings of Civil Case No. 225-0-92 delay is not the delay warranting dismissal of the complaint. To be a sufficient ground for
when it failed to question the trial court’s 12 September 1997 Order, declaring it to have dismissal, delay must not only be lengthy but also unnecessary resulting in the trifling of court
abandoned the case. As a consequence of petitioner’s inaction, such order inevitably became processes.19 There is no proof that petitioner intended to delay the proceedings in this case,
final. much less abuse judicial processes.

Moreover, the Court of Appeals ruled that petitioner is barred by laches and estoppel for failing While petitioner failed to appear on the hearing of 12 September 1997, such failure does not
to challenge the 12 September 1997 Order after almost a decade from receipt thereof. The constitute a ground for the dismissal of the reversion complaint for failure to prosecute.
appellate court stated that "while the general rule is that an action to recover lands of public Petitioner’s non-appearance on that date should simply be construed as a waiver of the right
domain is imprescriptible, said right can be barred by laches or estoppel." to present additional evidence.20

The Court of Appeals disposed of the case as follows: We note that prior to the issuance of the 12 September 1997 Order, the trial court already
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby DENIED for lack warned petitioner on the likely adverse effect of its non-appearance on the next hearing date.
of merit. If petitioner fails to attend the next scheduled hearing, the trial court would consider
SO ORDERED.13 (Emphasis in the original) petitioner’s presentation of evidence as terminated. Termination of presentation of a party’s
The Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration. evidence does not equate to dismissal of the complaint for failure to prosecute. In fact, the
The Issues trial court merely "deemed" petitioner to have abandoned the case without stating expressly
Petitioner anchors the present petition on the following grounds: and unequivocally that the complaint for reversion was dismissed. Had the trial court declared,
1. Interlocutory orders are not subject of appeal. in no uncertain terms, that the reversion suit was dismissed for failure to prosecute, there is
2. The consolidated cases, without any order of severance, cannot be subject of no doubt that petitioner would have questioned such ruling, as it now did with respect to the
multiple appeals. trial court’s 29 June 2005 Order.
3. There can be no private ownership over an unclassified public forest.
While it is within the trial court’s discretion to dismiss motu proprio the complaint on the
The Ruling of the Court ground of plaintiff’s failure to prosecute, it must be exercised with caution. Resort to such
action must be determined according to the procedural history of each case, the situation at
Is the 12 September 1997 Order interlocutory? the time of the dismissal, and the diligence (or the lack thereof) of the plaintiff to proceed
therein.21 As the Court held in Gomez v. Alcantara,22 if a lesser sanction would achieve the
same result, then dismissal should not be resorted to.
Petitioner contends that the 12 September 1997 Order of the trial court, deeming it to have
abandoned the case, is interlocutory in nature; thus, is not appealable.14 Respondents argue
otherwise, maintaining that such Order is a dismissal of the complaint on the ground of failure Unless a party’s conduct is so indifferent, irresponsible, contumacious or slothful as to provide
to prosecute which is, under the Rules,15 considered an adjudication on the merits, and hence substantial grounds for dismissal, i.e., equivalent to default or non-appearance in the case, the
appealable. courts should consider lesser sanctions which would still amount to achieving the desired end.
In the absence of a pattern or scheme to delay the disposition of the case or of a wanton failure
to observe the mandatory requirement of the rules on the part of the plaintiff, as in the case
at bar, courts should decide to dispense with rather than wield their authority to dismiss.23 claims which might have been set out originally in one complaint. (actual
(Emphasis supplied) consolidation)1âwphi1

Notably, the trial court, even after its supposed "dismissal" of the case for petitioner’s (3) Where several actions are ordered to be tried together but each retains its
abandonment, continued to recognize petitioner’s personality in its proceedings. In fact, in its separate character and requires the entry of a separate judgment. This type of
Order of 16 January 1998, well beyond the "dismissal" on 12 September 1997, the trial court consolidation does not merge the suits into a single action, or cause the parties to
directed the service of such order to the Solicitor General, to wit: one action to be parties to the other. (consolidation for trial)27

Should Atty. Dumpit fail to submit the said offer of evidence, it will be deemed a waiver on his In the present case, the complaint for reversion filed by petitioner (Civil Case No. 225-0-92)
part to do so. Atty. Leyco announced that he is presenting evidence for and in behalf of the was consolidated with the complaint for recovery of possession filed by Oribello (Civil Case No.
defendants Oribello in Civil Case No. 225-0-92 and as plaintiff in Civil Case No. 233-0-91. 223-0-91). While these two cases involve common questions of law and fact, 28 each action
retains its separate and distinct character. The reversion suit settles whether the subject land
To give way to the filing of said pleadings, cancel the hearing on February 20, 1998. Let the will be reverted to the State, while the recovery of possession case determines which private
reception of evidence for the plaintiff Oribellos be set on March 20, 1998 at 9:00 a.m.. Attys. party has the better right of possession over the subject property. These cases, involving
Leyco and Dumpit are notified in open court. Furnish a copy of this order the Solicitor General, different issues and seeking different remedies, require the rendition and entry of separate
DENR Office in Angeles City, as well as Atty. Pascua.24 (Emphasis supplied) judgments. The consolidation is merely for joint trial of the cases. Notably, the complaint for
recovery of possession proceeded independently of the reversion case, and was disposed of
accordingly by the trial court.
In addition, the above Order states that Oribello’s counsel was presenting evidence on the two
consolidated cases. This means that Oribello himself continued to recognize the pendency of
the reversion suit (Civil Case No. 225-0-92), contrary to his subsequent allegation that such Since each action does not lose its distinct character, severance of one action from the other
case has already been dismissed. is not necessary to appeal a judgment already rendered in one action. There is no rule or law
prohibiting the appeal of a judgment or part of a judgment in one case which is consolidated
with other cases. Further, severance is within the sound discretion of the court for convenience
Are the consolidated cases subject to multiple appeals?
or to avoid prejudice. It is not mandatory under the Rules of Court that the court sever one
case from the other cases before a party can appeal an adverse ruling on such case.
Section 1, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court provides:
Is the property unclassified public forest?
SECTION 1. Consolidation. — When actions involving a common question of law or fact are
pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue
In its petition, petitioner contended that the subject property remains unclassified public
in the actions; it may order all the actions consolidated, and it may make such orders
forest, incapable of private appropriation. In its complaint, petitioner alleged that Oribello
concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.
committed fraud and misrepresentation in acquiring the subject property.

Consolidation is a procedural device to aid the court in deciding how cases in its docket are to
This Court is not a trier of facts. Fraud is a question offact. 29 Whether there was fraud and
be tried so that the business of the court may be dispatched expeditiously and with economy
misrepresentation in the issuance of the sales patent in favor of Oribello calls for a thorough
while providing justice to the parties.25 To promote this end, the rule allows the consolidation
evaluation of the parties' evidence. Thus, this Court will have to remand the reversion case to
and a single trial of several cases in the court’s docket, or the consolidation of issues within
the trial court for further proceedings in order to resolve this issue and accordingly dispose of
those cases.26 The Court explained, thus:
the case based on the parties' evidence on record.

In the context of legal procedure, the term "consolidation" is used in three different senses:
WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition IN PART and SETS ASIDE the assailed Decision and
Resolution of the Court of Appeals. The reversion case is remanded to the trial court for further
(1) Where all except one of several actions are stayed until one is tried, in which case proceedings. The trial court is ordered to resolve the reversion case with utmost dispatch.
the judgment in the one trial is conclusive as to the others. This is not actually
consolidation but is referred to as such. (quasi-consolidation)
SO ORDERED.

(2) Where several actions are combined into one, lose their separate identity, and
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
become a single action in which a single judgment is rendered. This is illustrated by
Associate Justice
a situation where several actions are pending between the same parties stating