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US v. Ah Chong GR No. L-5272, March 19, 1910

The defendant, Ah Chong, was employed as a cook in one of the Officers’
quarters at Fort McKinley, Rizal Province. Together living with him in the said quarters was the
deceased, Pascual Gualberto, who was employed as a houseboy. There had been several
robberies in Fort McKinley prior to the incident thus prompting the defendant and his roommate
to reinforce the flimsy hook used to lock the door of their room by placing a chair against it. The
defendant and the deceased had an understanding that when either returned at night, he should
knock on the door and say his name. On the night of Aug. 14, 1908, Ah Chong, who was alone
in his room, was awakened by someone trying to force open the door of the room. The
defendant called out twice, asking the identity of the person but heard no answer. Fearing that
the intruder was a robber or a thief, the defendant called out that he would kill the intruder if he
tried to enter. At that moment, the door was forced open and the defendant was struck first
above the knee by the edge of the chair. Because of the darkness of the room, the defendant
thought he was being hit by the intruder and tried to defend himself by striking wildly at the
intruder using a common kitchen knife which he kept under his pillow. It turned out that the said
intruder was actually the defendant’s roommate, Pascual Gualberto. The roommate was
brought to the military hospital where he died from the effects of the wound the following day.

WON the defendant was criminally liable for committing a felony.

Defendant was not criminally liable and exonerated.
In order for mistake of fact to be held as a valid defense, there has to be several requisites.
One, that the act done would have been lawful had the facts been as the accused believed
them to be. Two, that the intention of the accused in performing the act should be lawful, and
lastly, that the mistake must be without fault or carelessness on the part of the accused.

In the case at bar, had the intruder been a robber as the defendant believed him to be, then Ah
Chong acted in good faith, without malice or criminal intent, and would have been wholly
exempt from criminal liability and that he cannot be said to have been guilty of negligence or
SALVADOR YAPYUCO y G.R. Nos. 120744-46

- versus -




The cases are predicated on a shooting incident on April 5, 1988 in Barangay Quebiawan, San
Fernando, Pampanga which caused the death of Leodevince Licup (Licup) and injured Noel
Villanueva (Villanueva). Accused were petitioners Salvador Yapyuco, Jr. (Yapyuco) and
Generoso Cunanan, Jr. (Cunanan) and Ernesto Puno (Puno) who were members of the
Integrated National Police (INP) stationed at the Sindalan Substation in San Fernando,
Pampanga; Jose Pamintuan (Pamintuan) and Mario Reyes, who were barangay captains of
Quebiawan and Del Carmen, respectively; Ernesto Puno, Andres Reyes and Virgilio Manguerra
(Manguerra), Carlos David, Ruben Lugtu, Moises Lacson (Lacson), Renato Yu, Jaime Pabalan
(Pabalan) and Carlos David (David), who were either members of the Civil Home Defense Force
(CHDF) or civilian volunteer officers in Barangays Quebiawan, Del Carmen and Telebastagan.
They were all charged with murder, multiple attempted murder and frustrated murder in three
Informations, the inculpatory portions of which read:

Criminal Case No. 16612:

That on or about the 5th day of April 1988, in Barangay Quebiawan, San Fernando, Pampanga,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, all
public officers, being then policemen, Brgy. Captains, Brgy. Tanod and members of the Civil
Home Defense Force (CHDF), respectively, confederating and mutually helping one another,
and while responding to information about the presence of armed men in said barangay and
conducting surveillance thereof, thus committing the offense in relation to their office, did then
and there, with treachery and evident premeditation, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, and
with deliberate intent to take the life of Leodevince S. Licup, attack the latter with automatic
weapons by firing directly at the green Toyota Tamaraw jitney ridden by Leodevince S. Licup
and inflicting multiple gunshot wounds which are necessarily mortal on the different parts of the
body, thereby causing the direct and immediate death of the latter.

On the same day, and with the same intent to take life and attack Eduardo S. Flores, Alejandro
R. de Vera, Restituto G. Calma and Raul V. Panlican also, Noel C. Villanueva boarded on the
same colored green Toyota Tamaraw by using firing weapons; although three are all same
criminal cases, they were filed directly to the above-named accused. The criminal cases
numbers; 16613 and 16614.

Yapyuco who was then allegedly adversed entered individual pleas of not guilty. A month later,
Yapyuco voluntarily surrendered to the authorities, and at his arraignment likewise entered a
negative plea. In the meantime, Mario Reyes, Andres Reyes, David, Lugtu, Lacson, Yu and
Manguerra jointly filed a Motion for Bail relative to Criminal Case No. 16612. On May 10, 1991,
the Sandiganbayan granted bail in Criminal Case No. 16612. Yapyuco likewise applied for bail on
May 15, 1991 and the same was also granted on May 21, 1991. Pamintuan, same as Pabalan
who died earlier; died on November 21, 1992, and accordingly, the charges against him were

The prosecution established that in the evening of April 5, 1988, Villanueva, Flores, Calma, De
Vera, Panlican and Licup (victims) were at the residence of Salangsang as guests at the barrio
fiesta celebrations between 5:00 and 7:30 p.m.. The company decided to leave at around 7:30
p.m., shortly after the religious procession had passed. As they were all intoxicated, Salangsang
reminded Villanueva, who was on the wheel, to drive carefully and watch out for potholes and
open canals on the road. With Licup in the passenger seat and the rest of his companions at the
back of his Tamaraw jeepney, Villanueva allegedly proceeded at 5-10 kph with headlights
dimmed. Suddenly, as they were approaching a curve on the road, they met a burst of gunfire
and instantly, Villanueva and Licup were both wounded and bleeding profusely.

In open court, Flores executed a sketch depicting the relative location of the Tamaraw jeepney
on the road, the residence of Salangsang where they had come from and the house situated on
the right side of the road right after the curve where the jeepney had taken a left turn; he identified
said house to be that of a certain Lenlen Naron where the gunmen allegedly took post and opened
fire at him and his companions. He could not tell how many firearms were used. He recounted
that after the shooting, he, unaware that Licup and Villanueva were wounded, jumped out of the
jeepney when he saw from behind them Pamintuan emerging from the yard of Narons house.
Frantic and shaken, he instantaneously introduced himself and his companions to be employees
of San Miguel Corporation but instead, Pamintuan corrected them for not stopping when flagged.
At this point, he was distracted when Villanueva cried out and told him to summon Salangsang
for help as he (Villanueva) and Licup were wounded. He dashed back to Salangsangs house as
instructed and, returning to the scene, he observed that petitioner Yu was also there, and
Villanueva and Licup were being loaded into a Sarao jeepney to be taken to the hospital. This
was corroborated by Villanueva who stated that as soon as the firing had ceased, two armed men,
together with Pamintuan, approached them and transferred him and Licup to another jeepney and
taken to the nearby St. Francis Hospital.

Flores claimed that all the accused in the case had not been known to him prior to the incident,
except for Pamintuan whom he identified to be his wifes uncle and with whom he denied having
had any rift nor with the other accused for that matter, which would have otherwise inspired ill
motives. He claimed the bullet holes on the Tamaraw jeepney were on the passenger side and
that there were no other bullet holes at the back or in any other portion of the vehicle.

Yapyuco only took stand for defense, narrated that in the afternoon of April 5, 1988, he and his
men were investigating a physical injuries case when Yu suddenly received a summon for police
assistance from David, who supposedly was instructed by Pamintuan, concerning a reported
presence of armed NPA members in Quebiawan. Yapyuco allegedly called on their main station
in San Fernando for reinforcement but at the time no additional men could be dispatched. Hence,
he decided to respond and instructed his men to put on their uniforms and bring their M-16 rifles
with them.

Yapyuco continued that at the place appointed, he and his group met with Pamintuan who told
him that he had earlier spotted four (4) men carrying long firearms. As if sizing up their collective
strength, Pamintuan allegedly intimated that he and barangay captain Mario Reyes of nearby Del
Carmen had also brought in a number of armed men and that there were likewise Cafgu members
convened at the residence of Naron. Moments later, Pamintuan announced the approach of his
suspects, hence Yapyuco, Cunanan and Puno took post in the middle of the road at the curve
where the Tamaraw jeepney conveying the victims would make an inevitable turn. As the jeepney
came much closer, Pamintuan announced that it was the target vehicle, so he, with Cunanan and
Puno behind him, allegedly flagged it down and signaled for it to stop. He claimed that instead of
stopping, the jeepney accelerated and swerved to its left. This allegedly inspired him, and his
fellow police officers Cunanan and Puno, to fire warning shots but the jeepney continued pacing
forward, hence they were impelled to fire at the tires thereof and instantaneously, gunshots
allegedly came bursting from the direction of Narons house directly at the subject jeepney.

Yapyuco recalled that Flores, exclaimed that they were employees of San Miguel Corporation.
Holding their fire, they searched the vehicle and found no firearms but two injured men whom
they loaded them to jeep and brought to hospital. From there he and his men returned to the
scene supposedly to investigate and look for the people who fired directly at the jeepney. They
found no one; the Tamaraw jeepney was likewise gone.
That night, he said, his group which responded to the scene were twelve (12) in all, comprised of
Cunanan and Puno from the Sindalan Police Substation, the team composed of Pamintuan and
his men, as well as the team headed by Captain Mario Reyes. He admitted that all of them,
including himself, were armed. He denied that they had committed an ambuscade because
otherwise, all the occupants of the Tamaraw jeepney would have been killed. He said that the
shots which directly hit the passenger door of the jeepney did not come from him or from his fellow
police officers but rather from Cafgu members assembled in the residence of Naron, inasmuch
as said shots were fired only when the jeepney had gone past the spot on the road where they
were assembled.

Issue: Whether or not Yapyuco and his men and the offense committed is the necessary
consequence of the due performance of such duty or the lawful exercise of such right.

Whether or not they had deliberately ambushed the victims with the intent of killing them.

Held: The Sandiganbayan reduced the basic issue to whether the accused had acted in the
regular and lawful performance of their duties in the maintenance of peace and order either as
barangay officials and as members of the police and the CHDF, and hence, could take shelter in
the justifying circumstance provided in Article 11 (5) of the Revised Penal Code:



Article 11. Justifying circumstances. - The following do not incur any criminal liability:

5. Any person who acts in the fulfillment of a duty or in the lawful exercise of a right or office.

With the evidence in hand, it found Yapyuco, Cunanan, Puno, Manguera and Mario and Andres
Reyes guilty as co-principals in the separate offense of homicide for the eventual death of Licup
(instead of murder as charged in Criminal Case No. 16612) and of attempted homicide for the
injury sustained by Villanueva (instead of frustrated murder as charged in Criminal Case No.
16614), and acquitted the rest in those cases. It acquitted all of them of attempted murder charged
in Criminal Case No. 16613 in respect of Flores, Panlican, De Vera and Calma.

The availability of the justifying circumstance of fulfillment of duty or lawful exercise of a right or
office under Article 11 (5) of the Revised Penal Code rests on proof that (a) the accused acted in
the performance of his duty or in the lawful exercise of his right or office, and (b) the injury caused
or the offense committed is the necessary consequence of the due performance of such duty or
the lawful exercise of such right or office. The justification is based on the complete absence of
intent and negligence on the part of the accused, inasmuch as guilt of a felony connotes that it
was committed with criminal intent or with fault or negligence. Where invoked, this ground for non-
liability amounts to an acknowledgment that the accused has caused the injury or has committed
the offense charged for which, however, he may not be penalized because the resulting injury or
offense is a necessary consequence of the due performance of his duty or the lawful exercise of
his right or office. Thus, it must be shown that the acts of the accused relative to the crime charged
were indeed lawfully or duly performed; the burden necessarily shifts on him to prove such

We find that the requisites for justification under Article 11 (5) of the Revised Penal Code do not
obtain in this case.

The undisputed presence of all the accused at the situs of the incident is a legitimate law
enforcement operation. No objection is strong enough to defeat the claim that all of them – who
were either police and barangay officers or CHDF members tasked with the maintenance of peace
and order – were bound to, as they did, respond to information of a suspected rebel infiltration in
the locality. While, it may certainly be argued that rebellion is a continuing offense, it is interesting
that nothing in the evidence suggests that the accused were acting under an official order to open
fire at or kill the suspects under any and all circumstances. Even more telling is the absence of
reference to the victims having launched such aggression as would threaten the safety of any one
of the accused, or having exhibited such defiance of authority that would have instigated the
accused, particularly those armed, to embark on a violent attack with their firearms in self-

But whether or not the passengers of the subject jeepney were NPA members and whether or
not they were at the time armed, are immaterial in the present inquiry inasmuch as they do not
stand as accused in the prosecution at hand. Besides, even assuming that they were as the
accused believed them to be, the actuations of these responding law enforcers must inevitably
be ranged against reasonable expectations that arise in the legitimate course of performance of
policing duties. The rules of engagement, of which every law enforcer must be thoroughly
knowledgeable and for which he must always exercise the highest caution, do not require that he
should immediately draw or fire his weapon if the person to be accosted does not heed his call.
Pursuit without danger should be his next move, and not vengeance for personal feelings or a
damaged pride. Police work requires nothing more than the lawful apprehension of suspects,
since the completion of the process pertains to other government officers or agencies.

The records disclose no ill motives attributed to petitioners by the prosecution. It is interesting
that, in negating the allegation that they had by their acts intended to kill the occupants of the
jeepney, petitioners turn to their co-accused Pamintuan, whose picture depicted in the defense
evidence is certainly an ugly one: petitioners affidavits as well as Yapyucos testimony are replete
with suggestions that it was Pamintuan alone who harbored the motive to ambush the suspects
as it was he who their (petitioners) minds that which they later on conceded to be a mistaken
belief as to the identity of the suspects. Cinco, for one, stated in court that Pamintuan had once
reported to him that Flores, a relative of his (Pamintuan), was frequently meeting with NPA
members and that the San Miguel Corporation plant where the victims were employed was being
penetrated by NPA members. He also affirmed Yapyucos claim that there had been a number of
ambuscades launched against members of law enforcement in Quebiawan and in the neighboring
areas supposedly by NPA members at around the time of the incident. But as the Sandiganbayan
pointed out, it is unfortunate that Pamintuan had died during the pendency of these cases even
before his opportunity to testify in court emerged.

WHEREFORE, the instant petitions are DENIED. The joint decision of the Sandiganbayan in
Criminal Case Nos. 16612, 16613 and 16614, dated June 27, 1995, are hereby AFFIRMED with
the following MODIFICATIONS:

(a) In Criminal Case No. 16612, petitioners are sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of
six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as the minimum, to twelve (12) years and one (1)
day of reclusion temporal, as the maximum; in Criminal Case No. 16614, the indeterminate
sentence is hereby modified to Two (2) years and four (4) months of prision correccional, as the
maximum, and Six (6) months of arresto mayor, as the minimum.

(b) Petitioners are DIRECTED to indemnify, jointly and severally, the heirs of Leodevince Licup in
the amount of P77,000.00 as actual damages, P50,000.00 in moral damages, as well as Noel
Villanueva, in the amount of P51,700.00 as actual and compensatory damages, and P20,000.00
as moral damages.


(Inclusion: Justifying circumstance; lawful exercise of right. The availability of the justifying
circumstance of fulfillment of duty or lawful exercise of a right or office under Article 11 (5) of the
Revised Penal Code rests on proof that (a) the accused acted in the performance of his duty or
in the lawful exercise of his right or office, and (b) the injury caused or the offense committed is
the necessary consequence of the due performance of such duty or the lawful exercise of such
right or office. The justification is based on the complete absence of intent and negligence on the
part of the accused, inasmuch as guilt of a felony connotes that it was committed with criminal
intent or with fault or negligence.

[G.R. No. 55960. November 24, 1988.]


Sy Kiat was a Chinese national who died on January 17, 1977 in Caloocan City where he was
then residing. He left behind real and personal properties here in the Philippines worth

Thereafter, Aida Sy-Gonzales, Manuel Sy, Teresita Sy-Bernabe and Rodolfo Sy filed a petition
for the grant of letters of administration alleging that:

a) they are the children of the deceased with Asuncion Gillego;

b) that Sy Kiat died intestate;
c) they do not recognize Sy Kiat's marriage to Yao Kee nor the filiation of her children to him;
d) they nominate Aida Sy-Gonzales for appointment as administratrix of the intestate estate
of the deceased

The petition was opposed by Yao Kee, Sze Sook Wah, Sze Lai Cho and Sy Yun Chen who alleged

a) Yao Kee is the lawful wife of Sy Kiat whom he married on January 19, 1931 in China;
b) the other oppositors are the legitimate children of the deceased with Yao Kee; and,
c) Sze Sook Wah is the eldest among them and is competent, willing and desirous to become
the administratrix of the estate of Sy Kiat

Probate Court (PC): held in favor of the petitioners (Yao Kee et al.) and appointed Sze Sook
Wah as the administratrix.

CA: modified the PC’s decision by declaring that:

a) Respondents as acknowledged natural children of Sy Kiat with Asuncion Gillego

b) Legality of the alleged marriage of Sy Kiat to Yao Kee in China had not been
proven to be valid to the laws of the Chinese People's Republic of China


W/N the marriage of Sy Kiat to Yao Kee was conclusively proven valid in accordance with the
laws of the People’s Republic of China.


The law on foreign marriages is provided by Article 71 of the Civil Code which states that:

Art. 71.All marriages performed outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws
in force in the country where they were performed, and valid there as such, shall
also be valid in this country, except bigamous, polygamous, or incestuous
marriages, as determined by Philippine law.

This Court has held that to establish a valid foreign marriage two things must be proven, namely:
(1) the existence of the foreign law as a question of fact; and (2) the alleged foreign marriage by
convincing evidence [Adong v. Cheong Seng Gee, 43 Phil. 43, 49 (1922).].

In proving a foreign law the procedure is provided in the Rules of Court. With respect to an
unwritten foreign law, Rule 130 section 45 states that:

Sec. 45.Unwritten law. — The oral testimony of witnesses, skilled therein, is

admissible as evidence of the unwritten law of a foreign country, as are also printed
and published books of reports of decisions of the courts of the foreign country, if
proved to be commonly admitted in such courts.

Proof of a written foreign law, on the other hand, is provided for under Rule 132 section 25, thus:

Sec. 25.Proof of public or official record. — An official record or an entry therein,

when admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced by an official publication
thereof or by a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody of the record,
or by his deputy, and accompanied, if the record is not kept in the Philippines, with
a certificate that such officer has the custody. If the office in which the record is
kept is in a foreign country, the certificate may be made by a secretary of embassy
or legation, consul general, consul, vice consul, or consular agent or by any officer
in the foreign service of the Philippines stationed in the foreign country in which
the record is kept and authenticated by the seal of his office.

In the case at bar, petitioners did not present any competent evidence relative to the law and
custom of China on marriage. The testimonies of Yao and Gan Ching cannot be considered as
proof of China's law or custom on marriage not only because they are self-serving evidence, but
more importantly, there is no showing that they are competent to testify on the subject matter. For
failure to prove the foreign law or custom, and consequently, the validity of the marriage in
accordance with said law or custom, the marriage between Yao Kee and Sy Kiat cannot be
recognized in this jurisdiction.

Furthermore, well-established in this jurisdiction is the principle that Philippine courts cannot take
judicial notice of foreign laws. They must be alleged and proved as any other fact.

Accordingly, in the absence of proof of the Chinese law on marriage, it should be presumed that
it is the same as ours. Since Yao Kee admitted in her testimony that there was no solemnizing
officer as is known here in the Philippines when her alleged marriage to Sy Kiat was celebrated,
it therefore follows that her marriage to Sy Kiat, even if true, cannot be recognized in this

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

KAREN E. SALVACION, minor, thru Federico N. Salvacion, Jr., father and Natural Guardian,
and Spouses FEDERICO N. SALVACION, JR., and EVELINA E. SALVACION, petitioners,
Ponente: TORRES, JR.

Respondent Greg Bartelli y Northcott, an American tourist, coaxed and lured the 12-year old
petitioner Karen Salvacion to go with him in his apartment where the former repeatedly raped
latter. After the rescue, policemen recovered dollar and peso checks including a foreign currency
deposit from China Banking Corporation (CBC). Writ of preliminary attachment and hold departure
order were issued. Notice of Garnishment was served by the Deputy Sheriff to CBC which later
invoked R.A. No. 1405 as its answer to it. Deputy Sheriff sent his reply to CBC saying that the
garnishment did not violate the secrecy of bank deposits since the disclosure is merely incidental
to a garnishment properly and legally made by virtue of a court order which has placed the subject
deposits in custodia legis. CBC replied and invoked Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960
to the effect that the dollar deposits of Greg Bartelli are exempt from attachment, garnishment, or
any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative
body, whatsoever. Central Bank of the Philippines affirmed the defense of CBC.

Whether or not Sec. 113 of Central Bank Circular 960 and Sec. 8 of RA 6426 amended by PD
1246 otherwise known as the “Foreign Currency Deposit Act” be made applicable to a foreign

NO. The provisions of Section 113 of CB Circular No. 960 and PD No. 1246, insofar as it amends
Section 8 of R.A. No. 6426 are hereby held to be INAPPLICABLE to this case because of its
peculiar circumstances.

[T]he application of the law depends on the extent of its justice. Eventually, if we rule that the
questioned Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960 which exempts from attachment,
garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or
any administrative body whatsoever, is applicable to a foreign transient, injustice would result
especially to a citizen aggrieved by a foreign guest like accused Greg Bartelli. This would negate
Article 10 of the New Civil Code which provides that “in case of doubt in the interpretation or
application of laws, it is presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and justice to prevail.

“Ninguno non deue enriquecerse tortizeramente con dano de otro.” Simply stated, when the
statute is silent or ambiguous, this is one of those fundamental solutions that would respond to
the vehement urge of conscience. It would be unthinkable, that the questioned Section 113 of
Central Bank No. 960 would be used as a device by accused Greg Bartelli for wrongdoing, and
in so doing, acquitting the guilty at the expense of the innocent.
Call it what it may — but is there no conflict of legal policy here? Dollar against Peso?
Upholding the final and executory judgment of the lower court against the Central Bank Circular
protecting the foreign depositor? Shielding or protecting the dollar deposit of a transient alien
depositor against injustice to a national and victim of a crime? This situation calls for fairness
against legal tyranny.
G.R. No. 148311. March 31, 2005

Honorato Catindig filed a petition to adopt his minor illegitimate child Stephanie Nathy Astorga
Garcia. He prayed that the child's middle name Astorga be changed to Garcia, her mother's
surname, and that her surname Garcia be changed to Catindig, his surname.
Trial court granted the petition and declared Stephanie as his legitimate child and heir, and
pursuant to Art. 189 of the Family Code, she is now known as Stephanie Nathy Catindig.
Honorato filed a motion for clarification and/or reconsideration that Stephanie should be allowed
to use the surname Garcia as her middle name.
The Republic, through the OSG, agreed with Honorato for her relationship with her natural
mother should be maintained and preserved, to prevent any confusion and hardship in the
future, and under Article 189 she remains to be an intestate heir of her mother.

Whether or not an illegitimate child, upon adoption by her natural father, use the surname of her
natural mother as her middle name.

Yes. there is no law prohibiting an illegitimate child adopted by her natural father, like
Stephanie, to use, as middle name her mother’s surname, we find no reason why she should
not be allowed to do so.
Article 176 of the Family Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 9255, (An Act Allowing
Illegitimate Children To Use The Surname Of Their Father) is silent as to what middle name a
child may use. Article 365 of the CC merely provides that “an adopted child shall bear the
surname of the adopter.” Article 189 of the Family Code, enumerating the legal effects of
adoption, is likewise silent on the matter.

Republic Act No. 8552, (Domestic Adoption Act of 1998) an legitimate child by virtue of her
adoption, Stephanie is entitled to all the rights provided by law to a legitimate child without
discrimination of any kind, including the right to bear the surname of her father and her mother.

People vs Tulin
GR NO. 111709
August 30, 2001

MT Tabangao, cargo vessel owned by PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation , was sailing
near the coast of Mindoro loaded with barrels of kerosene, gasoline, and diesel oil with a total
value of 40.4M was suddenly boarded by seven fully armed pirates. The pirates detained the
crews and took control of the vessel, the PNOC logo were painted over with black and was
painted over with the name Galilee. The ship crew was forced to sail to Singapore and later
went back to Batangas, Philippines and remained at sea.

Days later, it sailed back to Singapore and later another vessel called the Navi Pride anchored
beside it. Cheong San Hiong, supervised the Navi’s crew and received the cargo on board MT
Tabangao/Galilee. After the transfer of goods were completed, MT Tabangao/Galilee sailed
back to the Philippines and the original crew members were released by the pirates and was
ordered not to report to authorities . However, the chief engineer reported the incident to the
coast guard and thereafter followed a series of arrests were effected and charged the accused
of qualified piracy or violation of PD 532.


Whether or not the accused are guilty of qualified piracy.


Yes, the accused are guilty of piracy.

Art. 122 of the RPC (piracy in general and mutiny in the high seas) provided that piracy must be
committed in the high seas by any person not a member of its complement nor a passenger
thereof. It was amended by RA 7659, which broadened the law to include offenses committed in
Philippine waters. PD 532 on the other hand, embraces any person, including a passenger or
member of the complement of said vessel in the Philippine waters.

Passenger or not, member of the complement or not, any person is covered by the law. No
conflict exists among the mentioned laws; they exist harmoniously as separate laws.

The attack on and the seizure of MT Tabangao and its cargo were committed in Philippine
waters, although the captive vessel was later brought by the pirates to Singapore, where its
cargo was offloaded, transferred and sold. Such transfer was done under Hiong’s supervision.

Although the disposition by the pirates of the vessel and its cargo was not done in

Philippine waters, it is still deemed part of the same act. Piracy falls under Title 1 of Book 2 of
the RPC. It is an exception to the rule on territoriality in criminal law. The same principle applies
to the case, even if Hiong is charged with violation of a special penal law, instead of the RPC.
Regardless of the law penalizing piracy, it remains to be a reprehensible crime against the
whole world.
U.S. v. Bull, 15 Phil. 7
G.R. No. L-5270 January 15, 1910

Lessons Applicable: Applicability of Provision

Laws Applicable: Art. 2 RPC

• accused H. N. Bull, master of vessel, willfully, unlawfully, and wrongly carry, transport, and
bring into the port and city of Manila, aboard said vessel, from the port of Ampieng, Formosa,
677 head of cattle and carabaos, without providing suitable means for securing the animals
while in transit, so as to avoid cruelty and unnecessary suffering.
• animals to be tied by means of rings passed through their noses, and allow and permit
others to be transported loose in the hold and on the deck of said vessel without being tied or
secured in stalls, and all without bedding
• neglect and failure of the accused to provide suitable means for securing said animals while
so in transit, the noses of some of said animals were cruelly torn, and many of said animals
were tossed about upon the decks and hold of said vessel, and cruelly wounded, bruised, and
• All contrary to the provisions of Acts No. 55 and No. 275 of the Philippine Commission.
Section 1 of Act No. 55, which went into effect January 1, 1901, provides that —
The owners or masters of steam, sailing, or other vessels, carrying or transporting cattle,
sheep, swine, or other animals, from one port in the Philippine Islands to another, or from
any foreign port to any port within the Philippine Islands, shall carry with them, upon the
vessels carrying such animals, sufficient forage and fresh water to provide for the suitable
sustenance of such animals during the ordinary period occupied by the vessel in passage from
the port of shipment to the port of debarkation, and shall cause such animals to be provided
with adequate forage and fresh water at least once in every twenty-four hours from the time
that the animals are embarked to the time of their final debarkation.
• Bull(Norweigan): Norwegian vessel, and it is conceded that it was not registered or licensed
in the Philippine Islands under the laws thereof so it is not within the jurisdiction of the
ISSUE: W/N the court had jurisdiction over an offense of this character when the neglect and
omission which constitutes the offense continued during the time the ship was within the
territorial waters of the United States
HELD: The defendant was found guilty
• No court of the Philippine Islands had jurisdiction over an offenses or crime committed on the
high seas or within the territorial waters of any other country, but when she came within 3 miles
of a line drawn from the headlines which embrace the entrance to Manila Bay, she was within
territorial waters, and a new set of principles became applicable.
Note: when it comes in our territory it has the discretion to prosecute or not.
If it choose to prosecute must be justified.
• 2 well-defined theories as to extent of the immunities ordinarily granted to them
1. French theory and practice-matters happening on board a merchant ship which do not
concern the tranquillity of the port or persons foreign to the crew, are justiciable only by the
court of the country to which the vessel belongs. The French courts therefore claim exclusive
jurisdiction over crimes committed on board French merchant vessels in foreign ports by one
member of the crew against another.
2. The United States has adhered consistently to the view that when a merchant vessel enters
a foreign port it is subject to the jurisdiction of the local authorities, unless the local sovereignty
has by act of acquiescence or through treaty arrangements consented to waive a portion of
such jurisdiction.
• The disembarkation of the animals is not necessary in order to constitute the completed
offense, and a reasonable construction of the language of the statute confers jurisdiction upon
the court sitting at the port into which the animals are bought. They are then within the territorial
jurisdiction of the court, and the mere fact of their disembarkation is immaterial so far as
jurisdiction is concerned.
• The appellant contends that the language of the Spanish text of the information does not
charge him with failure to provide "sufficient" and "adequate" means. The words used are
"medios suficientes" and "medios adecuados." In view of the fact that the original complaint was
prepared in English, and that the word "suitable" is translatable by the words "adecuado,"
"suficiente," and "conveniente," according to the context and circumstances, we determine this
point against the appellant, particularly in view of the fact that the objection was not made in the
court below, and that the evidence clearly shows a failure to provide "suitable means for the
protection of the animals."
[G.R. No. L-6897. November 29, 1956.]
In the Matter of the Claim for Attorney’s Fees. CLARO M. RECTO, claimant-Appellee, vs.
ESPERANZA P. DE HARDEN and FRED M. HARDEN, Defendants-Appellants.
This is an appeal taken by Esperanza P. de Harden and Fred M. Harden from a decision of the
Court of First Instance of Manila, the pertinent part of which is of the following
“The contingent fee to which the claimant is entitled under paragraph 3 of the contract, Exhibit
JJJ or 20, is 20% of P1,920,554.85 or the sum of P384,110.97.
“WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves the recommendation of the Commissioner with the
above-stated modification, and finds that Attorney Claro M. Recto is entitled to the sum of
NINETY-SEVEN CENTAVOS (P384,110.97), representing 20% of Esperanza P. de Harden’s
share in the conjugal properties owned by her and her husband, Fred M. Harden, as contingent
fee stipulated in paragraph 3 of the Contract of Professional Services, Exhibit JJJ or 20, and the
said Esperanza P. de Harden is hereby ordered to pay the said amount above-stated.” It
appears that sometime in July, 1941, Appellant, Mrs. Harden, and Appellee, Claro M. Recto,
executed the following:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
“That I, ESPERANZA PEREZ DE HARDEN, of age, married to Fred M. Harden, and
temporarily residing in the Philippines, with address at 534 Sales Street, Manila, have
engaged the services of Attorney Claro M. Recto to appear and act as my counsel in the
action which I will file against my husband, Fred M. Harden, for the purpose of securing
an increase in the amount of support being received by me from the conjugal partnership
of myself and said Fred M. Harden, and for the purpose likewise of protecting and
preserving my rights in the properties of the said conjugal partnership, in contemplation
of the divorce suit which I intent to file against him in the competent Court of California
and of the liquidation of the conjugal partnership between us, this contract of services to
be under the following conditions:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
“1. That in lieu of retainer fee, which under the circumstances I am not in a
position to pay, I hereby agree to pay Attorney Claro M. Recto, such payment to
be made monthly, during the pendency of the litigation and until the termination
of the same, twenty-five (25%) per cent of the total increase in allowance or
pension which may be awarded to me by the court over and above the amount of
P1,500.00 which I now receive monthly from Defendant Fred M. Harden out of
the funds of the conjugal partnership; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryProvided, that
should the case be terminated or an amicable settlement thereof be arrived at by
the parties before the expiration of two years from the date of the filing of the
complaint, I shall continue to pay the said twenty-five (25%) per cent up to the
end of said period.
“2. That the aforesaid monthly payments shall be in addition to whatever amount
may be adjudged by the court against the Defendant Fred M. Harden or against
the conjugal partnership by way of litis expense, that is, attorney’s fees
chargeable as expenses of litigation.
“3. That as full and complete satisfaction of the fees of Attorney Claro M. Recto
in connection with the case above referred to, and said case being for the
purposes aforestated, that is, to secure an increase in the amount of support I
now receive as well as to protect and preserve my rights and interest in the
properties of the conjugal partnership, in contemplation of divorce and of the
liquidation of said partnership, I hereby agree to pay said Attorney Claro M.
Recto twenty (20%) per cent of the value of the share and participation which I
may receive in the funds and properties of the said conjugal partnership of myself
and Defendant Fred M. Harden, as a result of the liquidation thereof either by
death, divorce, judicial separation, compromise or by any means or method by
virtue of which said partnership is or may be liquidated.
“4. All expenses in connection with the litigation are to be for my account, but the
same may be advanced by Attorney Claro M. Recto, to be reimbursed to him
either from the money which I receive by way of support or from the funds of the
conjugal partnership.
“5. It is hereby understood that this contract includes the services of Attorney
Claro M. Recto in connection with the securing of the liquidation of the properties
and assets of the conjugal partnership of myself and Fred M. Harden, upon
dissolution of said partnership or for any other cause mentioned in Paragraph (3)
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have signed these presents in the City _____ of
Manila, Philippines this _______ day of July, 1941.
s/ Esperanza P. de Harden
s/ Claro M. Recto
In compliance therewith, on July 12, 1941, the Appellee, as counsel for Mrs. Harden,
commenced Civil Case No. 59634 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled “Esperanza
P. de Harden vs. Fred M. Harden and Jose Salumbides.” In the complaint therein filed, it was
prayed, among other things:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (a) that Mrs. Harden be given the
exclusive administration of the business and all properties of the conjugal partnership of Mr. and
Mrs. Harden; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary(b) that, in the event of denial of this prayer,
the Defendants be ordered to inform her “of everything pertaining to the administration of said
business and properties”, as well as to render accounts thereof and to permit her to examine the
books and records pertinent thereto; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary(c) that Mr. Harden be ordered
to account to Mrs. Harden, and to return to this jurisdiction, the sum of P449,015.44 allegedly
withdrawn by him from the Philippines or sent by him to Hongkong on April 1, 1941; chan
roblesvirtualawlibrary(d) that Defendant Salumbides be ordered to account for all moneys,
amounting to P285,000.00, belonging to the business and assets of said conjugal partnership
and deposited by him in a safety box, either in his name, or in that of Antonio Wilson, from
January 23 to December 23, 1940; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary(e) that the transfer, in the name
of Salumbides, of certain shares of stock, allegedly belonging to the conjugal partnership, be
rescinded and said Defendant ordered to transfer said shares of stock in the name of Mrs.
Harden or in that of Mr. and Mrs. Harden, should Mr. Harden be allowed to continue as
administrator of said partnership; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary( f ) that the transfer, made by Mr.
Harden and/or by Defendant Salumbides, as his attorney-in-fact, of 36,000 shares of stock of
the Angelo Mining Company, to some residents of Hongkong, be rescinded and said shares
returned to the assets of the conjugal partnership and placed in the name of Mr. and Mrs.
Harden; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary(g) that the monthly allowance of Mrs. Harden be increased
from P1,500 to P15,000; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary(h) that, pending final decision, Mr. Harden
be ordered to increase the allowance or pension of Mrs. Harden and their daughter Sarah
Elizabeth to P10,000 a month; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand (i) that a writ of preliminary
injunction be issued restraining the Defendants from disposing of the assets of the conjugal
partnership in fraud of Mrs. Harden.
By an order dated July 12, 1941, the court authorized the issuance of said writ, upon the filing of
the corresponding bond. It appears that, pursuant to an agreement submitted by both parties,
and with a view to avoiding unnecessary embarrassment, restraint or inconvenience in the
financial operations of the business enterprises affected by said writ of preliminary injunction,
the same was amended by an order dated July 19, 1941, in the sense that.
“ cralaw without prejudicing in any way the rights of the parties in this case, a separate
bank account be established in the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, of
Manila, and all transactions in connection with the aforesaid businesses passed through
that account by Mr. Harden or his duly authorized representative, who at present is Mr.
Salumbides, without the necessity of securing a particular order from this Court on each
occasion; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat the present funds in the Philippine National
Bank in the name of Plaza Lunch and Fred M. Harden be utilized for the purpose of
starting said special bank account in the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and
China; chan roblesvirtualawlibrarythat all income from the aforesaid businesses be
deposited in this special bank account and no checks be drawn upon the same, except
to pay the necessary overhead and running expenses including purchases of tobacco,
merchandise, etc., required for the proper operation of said businesses; chan
roblesvirtualawlibrarythat a new set of books be opened by Mr. Harden or his duly
authorized representative covering all business transactions passed through said special
bank account and the same be opened for inspection by the Plaintiff’s duly authorized
“The order of injunction of July 12, 1941, is modified only to the above extent, and in all
other respects is maintained.”
Subsequently, the Philippines was invaded by the Japanese and placed under military
occupation. Then came the liberation, in the course of which the records of this case were
destroyed. On October 23, 1946, said records were reconstituted at the instance
of Appellee herein. Thereafter, the proceedings were resumed and, in due course, the Court of
First Instance of Manila rendered, on or about October 31, 1949, a decision the dispositive part
of which we quote:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
“In view of the foregoing considerations, this court finds and so holds that —
“(a) Fred M. Harden abandoned his domicile of origin in New Jersey and
established a domicile of choice in Manila, Philippines, since 1901;
“(b) The matrimonial domicile of Fred M. Harden and Esperanza P. de Harden
was established in Manila, Philippines, from the date of their marriage on
December 14, 1917;
“(c) Since they did not execute any antenuptial contract before their marriage, all
the properties, real or personal, acquired by either or both of them on and after
December 14, 1917, up to the present, over and above the sum of P20,000.00
representing Fred M. Harden’s capital, are hereby declared conjugal properties;
“(d) The total amount of P1,944,794.37 representing deposits in safety deposit
boxes in the name of Jose Salumbides, the selling price of the house in Los
Angeles, California, and the pre-war and post-war remittances abroad of Fred M.
Harden, from which has already been deducted the sum of P160,000.00 covering
payments for deficiency Federal income taxes and attorney’s fees, both in the tax
case and the present one, is hereby declared chargeable to the share
ofDefendant Harden and deductible from whatever participation he may still have
in the said conjugal partnership upon the liquidation thereof, upon his failure to
return and deposit them in the name of the Plaza Lunch with the Manila branch
of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China up to the time this decision
shall become final;
“(e) A conjugal lien be annotated in the original and owner’s duplicate of
Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 24393, 52436 and 54911 of the Register of
Deeds of Manila and in Original Certificate of Title No. 2292 of Quezon Province,
and on all the certificates of shares belonging to said conjugal partnership, as
well as in the corresponding books of the companies or corporations issuing
them, whereby it will be made to appear that any subsequent alienation or
encumbrance of said properties by Fred M. Harden alone or his representative
without the consent of his wife will be deemed fraudulent and subject to
revocation or cancellation for being in fraud and prejudicial to the right of
Esperanza P. de Harden;
“( f ) Within a period of fifteen (15) days after this decision shall have become
final, Fred M. Harden and Esperanza P. de Harden are hereby ordered to
execute a document to be approved by this court creating and express active
trust upon the remaining cash assets and income of the conjugal partnership in
the Philippines, whereby the Philippine Trust Company, with offices in Manila, will
act as trustee, subject to the right of Fred M. Harden to receive therefrom the
sum of P2,500,00 a month by way of allowance and an equal amount for
the Plaintiff as separate support and maintenance;
“(g) Within thirty (30) days after this decision shall have become final, Fred M.
Harden shall inform the Plaintiff of all the properties and businesses of the
conjugal partnership, be they in the Philippines or abroad, and render a true and
complete accounting of the earnings and profits thereof;
“(h) The Plaintiff is entitled to litis expensae in the amount of P175,000.00 for
services rendered by her counsel up to the rendition of this judgment, which Fred
M. Harden or the herein receiver is ordered to pay within a period of fifteen (15)
days after this decision has become final; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand
“(i) The writ of preliminary injunction of July 12, 1941, is hereby declared
permanent and the order of receivership of November 20, 1946, is hereby
maintained, but said auxiliary remedies will be automatically lifted upon the
conclusion of the annotation of the conjugal lien and the execution of the deed of
trust above mentioned. Without costs.
The Defendants appealed from said decision to this Court, where the case was docketed as
case No. L-3687. While the appeal was thus pending before us, herein Appellee filed a
manifestation and a motion, both dated February 20, 1952. In said
“manifestation”, Appellee stated that Mrs. Harden had instructed him, by letter, to “discontinue
all proceedings relative to” said case, “vacate all orders and judgments rendered therein, and
abandon and nullify all her claims to the conjugal partnership existing between her and Mr.
Harden”, in accordance with several instruments dated January 29, 1952, and executed without
the knowledge, advise and consent of said Appellee, as counsel for Mrs. Harden,
whereby:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (1) Mr. and Mrs. Harden had purportedly agreed to settle
their differences in consideration of the sum of $5,000 paid by Mr. Harden to Mrs. Harden, and a
monthly pension of P500 to be paid by him to her; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary(2) Mr. Harden
had created a trust fund of $20,000 from which said monthly pension of $500 would be
taken; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand (3) Mr. and Mrs. Harden had mutually released and
forever discharged each other from all actions, debts, duties, accounts, demands and claims to
the conjugal partnership, in consideration of the sum of $1. It was further asserted, in Appellee’s
“manifestation”, that the purpose of the said instruments, executed by Mr. and Mrs. Harden, was
to defeat the claim of the former for attorney’s fees, for which reason, he prayed, in his
aforementioned motion, that
“a) Pending the resolution of this motion, the receiver appointed herein be authorized to
continue holding the properties above mentioned in his custody in order not to defeat the
undersigned’s inchoate lien on them;
“b) A day set aside to receive the evidence of the undersigned and those of
the Plaintiff and theDefendant Fred M. Harden, in order to determine the amount of fees
due to the undersigned, by the appointment of a referee or commissioner for the
reception of such
“c) After due hearing, the undersigned be declared entitled to the sum of P400,000.00
as his fees for services rendered in behalf of the Plaintiff in this case, under paragraph 3
of the contract, Annex ‘A’, and to that end a charging lien therefore be established upon
the properties above-mentioned;
“d) And the receiver be ordered to pay to the undersigned the full amount of the fees to
which the latter is found to be entitled.”
Counsel for the Defendants-Appellants, in turn, moved for the dismissal of the case, to
whichAppellee objected. Acting upon the issues raised in such motion for dismissal and
in Appellee’s motion to establish and enforce his charging lien, as counsel for Mrs. Harden, this
Court issued on July 22, 1952, a resolution the pertinent part of which
“It will be seen from the above that the Defendants-Appellants pray for the complete
dismissal of the above entitled case without prejudice to the annotation of the contingent
claim of Attorney Claro M. Recto on the property under receivership, other than the
368,553 shares of the Balatoc Mining Company which belong to Fred M. Harden. On the
other hand, Attorney Claro M. Recto agrees to the lifting of the writ of preliminary
injunction, the orders of contempt and commitment, and all other interlocutory orders
which were issued in the course of this case, with the exception of the receivership, but
objects to the dismissal of the case on the ground that, since receivership is merely an
auxiliary remedy, the present case should be allowed to remain pending for the purpose
of maintaining the receivership to safeguard his right to collect the fees that may be due
“Attorney Claro M. Recto prays that a commissioner or referee be immediately appointed
by this Court to receive evidence in support of his allegations as to his attorney’s lien
and its enforcement. Counsel for the Defendants-Appellants does not object to this
proceeding provided that the restrictions set forth by him be observed. However, this
Court does not have the proper facilities for receiving evidence in order to determine the
amount of the fees claimed by Attorney Claro M. Recto, and it is deemed advisable that
this matter be determined by the Court of First Instance. This is specially so considering
the opposition to the claim of Attorney Claro M. Recto filed by Attorney J. W. Ferrier, Sr.
in behalf of Esperanza P. de Harden.
“In view of the foregoing, the above entitled case is hereby remanded to the court of
origin in order to determine the amount of fees claimed by Attorney Claro M. Recto in his
motion dated February 20, 1952.
“It is understood that, after said fees had been finally determined and paid, this case will
be completely dismissed as prayed for by the Defendants-Appellants, without prejudice
to considering the claim of the receiver for compensation as stated in his urgent motion
dated July 2, 1952. “Pending the determination of the amount of fees claimed by
Attorney Claro M. Recto, the writ of preliminary injunction, the orders of contempt and
commitment, and all interlocutory orders which were issued in the course of this case,
are hereby lifted and vacated, and with regard to the receivership, the same is hereby
dissolved, only with respect to the 368,553 shares of the Balatoc Mining Company. As to
the rest of the properties, the receivership shall be maintained.”
In compliance with said resolution, the records of this case were remanded to the lower court,
which, on September 2, 1952, designated a commissioner to receive evidence on the amount of
the fees collectible by herein Appellee and to report thereon. After due hearing, said
commissioner submitted, on February 6, 1953, a report of about one hundred (100) pages of the
printed record on appeal, setting forth, in detail, the evidence introduced by both parties, and his
findings of fact, with the following conclusion and recommendation:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
“Taking into consideration the value of the properties involved in this litigation, the length
of time in which claimant had handled the same for Esperanza Harden, the volume and
quality of the work performed, the complicated legal questions involved, the
responsibility assumed by the claimant as counsel, his reputation in the bar, the
difficulties encountered by him while handling the same in which he had to work hard
every inch of the way because of the stiff oppositions filed by adverse counsel, the
diligence he employed not only in the preservation of the records in his possession
during the days of enemy occupation but also in the protection of the interests of
Esperanza Harden, his successful handling of said case and those cases growing out of
it which reached the Supreme Court, and the extra services he rendered in her behalf in
the tax and other court cases, the undersigned Commissioner concludes that claimant is
entitled to the full amount of 20% of Esperanza Harden’s share of the conjugal
properties, as provided in paragraph 3 of the Contract of Professional Services, Exhibit
“WHEREFORE, the undersigned Commissioner respectfully recommends that Atty.
Claro M. Recto be paid the equivalent amount of 20% of Esperanza P. de Harden’s
share of the conjugal properties or the sum of P369,410.04 as his contingent fee for
services rendered in her behalf.”
After appropriate proceedings, the lower court rendered a decision dated April 30, 1953,
adopting substantially said report of the commissioner, but increasing the contingent fee
ofAppellee herein from P369,410.04, the sum recommended in the report, to P384,110.97.
Hence, this appeal taken by Mr. and Mrs. Harden.
The first question for determination therein is the validity of the above-quoted contract of
services, which the Appellants assail as void, mainly, upon the
ground:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (1) that Mrs. Harden cannot bind the conjugal partnership
without her husband’s consent; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary(2) that Article 1491 of the Civil Code
of the Philippines in effect prohibits contingent fees; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary(3) that the
contract in question has for its purpose to secure a decree of divorce, allegedly in violation of
Articles 1305, 1352 and 1409 of the Civil Code of the Philippines; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryand (4) that the terms of said contract are harsh, inequitable and
The first objection has no foundation in fact, for the contract in dispute does not seek to bind the
conjugal partnership. By virtue of said contract, Mrs. Harden merely bound herself — or
assumed the personal obligation — to pay, by way of contingent fees, 20% of her share in said
partnership. The contract neither gives, nor purports to give, to the Appellee any right
whatsoever, personal or real, in and to her aforesaid share. The amount thereof is simply a
basis for the computation of said fees.
For the same reason, the second objection is, likewise, untenable. Moreover, it has already
been held that contingent fees are not prohibited in the Philippines and are impliedly sanctioned
by our Cannons (No. 13) of Professional Ethics. (see, also, Ulanday vs. Manila Railroad Co., 45
Phil., 540, 554.) Such is, likewise, the rule in the United States (Legal Ethics by Henry S.
Drinker, p. 176).
“ cralaw in the United States, the great weight of authority recognizes the validity of
contracts for contingent fees, provided such contracts are not in contravention of public
policy, and it is only when the attorney has taken an unfair or unreasonable advantage of
his client that such a claim is condemned.” (See 5 Am. Jur. 359 et seq.; chan
roblesvirtualawlibraryBallentine, Law Dictionary, 2nd ed., p. 276.)
Needless to say, there is absolutely nothing in the records before us to show
that Appellee herein had, in any manner, taken an unfair or unreasonable advantage of his
client Mrs. Harden.
The third objection is not borne out, either by the language of the contract between them, or by
the intent of the parties thereto. Its purpose was not to secure a divorce, or to facilitate or
promote the procurement of a divorce. It merely sought to protect the interest of Mrs. Harden in
the conjugal partnership, during the pendency of a divorce suit she intended to file in the United
States. What is more, inasmuch as Mr. and Mrs. Harden are admittedly citizens of the United
States, their status and the dissolution thereof are governed — pursuant to Article 9 of the Civil
Code of Spain (which was in force in the Philippines at the time of the execution of the contract
in question) and Article 15 of the Civil Code of the Philippines — by the laws of the United
States, which sanction divorce. In short, the contract of services, between Mrs. Harden and
hereinAppellee, is not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy.
The last objection is based upon principles of equity, but, pursuant thereto, one who seeks
equity must come with clean hands (Bastida, et al., vs. Dy Buncio & Co., 93 Phil., 195; chan
roblesvirtualawlibrary30 C.J. S. 475), and Appellants have not done so, for the circumstances
surrounding the case show, to our satisfaction, that their aforementioned agreements,
ostensibly for the settlement of the differences between husband and wife, were made for the
purpose of circumventing or defeating the rights of herein Appellee, under his above-quoted
contract of services with Mrs. Harden. Indeed, having secured a judgment in her favor,
acknowledging her rights to the assets of the conjugal partnership, which turned out to be worth
almost P4,000,000 in addition to litis expensae in the sum of P175,000, it is inconceivable that
Mrs. Harden would have waived such rights, as well as the benefits of all orders and judgments
in her favor, in consideration of the paltry sum of $5,000 allegedly paid to her by Mr. Harden and
the additional sum of $20,000 to be paid by him in installments, at the rate of $500 a month. In
fact, no explanation has been given for this most unusual avowed settlement between Mr. and
Mrs. Harden. One cannot even consider the possibility of a reconciliation between the spouses,
the same being inconsistent with the monetary consideration for said alleged settlement. What
is more, the records show that the relations between said spouses — which were bad indeed,
not only in July, 1941, when Mrs. Harden engaged the services of the Appellee, but, even,
before, for Mr. and Mrs. Harden were separated since 1938 — had worsened considerably
thereafter, as evidence by an action for divorce filed by Mr. Harden in New Jersey, in July 1948,
upon the ground of repeated acts of infidelity allegedly committed by Mrs. Harden in 1940 and
Again, it appears that Appellee had rendered, under the contract in question, the following
services, for the benefit of Mrs. Harden:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
1. He succeeded in defeating Defendants’ motion for the dissolution of the writ of
preliminary injunction, issued by the Court on July 12, 1941, and amended on July 19,
2. On November 12, 1946, Appellee moved for the appointment of a receiver, upon the
ground that, despite said writ of preliminary injunction, the Defendants had been
disposing of the properties of the conjugal partnership for the purpose of defrauding Mrs.
Harden. After due hearing, the court, by an order dated November 20, 1946, directed the
appointment of Abelardo Perez as receiver of said properties, upon the filing of a
P10,000 bond. Defendants asked, on February 13, 1947, that the receivership be
suspended, or else, that they be allowed to file a bond for the discharge of the
receivership. Appellee replied objecting thereto, unless theDefendants posted a
P4,000,000 bond. Subsequently or on March 5, 1947, the Defendants sought a
reconsideration of the order of November 20, 1946, and the discharge of the receiver. By
an order dated March 21, 1947, the Court authorized said discharged upon the filing, by
theDefendants, of a bond in the sum of P500,000, provided that Mr. Harden “should
bring back all the 368,553 shares of the Balatoc Mining Co., in his name to the
Philippines for deposit with the Clerk of Court, or with the Chartered Bank of India,
Australia and China, at Manila cralaw
“3. On motion of the Appellee dated March 4, 1947, the Court, by an order dated April 5,
1947, directed Mr. Harden to remit to Mrs. Harden the sum of $2,500, to be charged
against her litis expensae. Upon similar motion, filed by Appellee on or about April 26,
1947, the Court ordered Mr. Harden, on May 13, 1947, to furnish Mrs. Harden the sum
of $5,000, under the same conditions.
4. On June 21, 1947, the Defendants instituted Civil Case No. G. R. No. L-1499 of this
Court, entitled “Fred M. Harden and Jose Salumbides vs. Emilio Peña, Abelardo Perez
and Esperanza P. Harden” for the purpose of annulling and setting aside, by writ of
certiorari, the aforementioned orders of the lower court dated July 12, 1941, November
20, 1946, and April 5 and May 13, 1947, and to restrain, in the meantime, the
enforcement thereof. After appropriate proceedings, in the course of
which Appellee appeared as counsel for Mrs. Harden, and like counsel for
thePetitioners therein, filed several lengthy, detailed pleadings and memoranda, decision
was rendered on November 21, 1950, denying the writ of certiorari prayed for.
5. On or about September 9, 1947, Appellee filed a motion alleging that despite the writ
of preliminary injunction above mentioned, the Defendants had, fraudulently and without
judicial consent, remitted abroad several sums of money aggregating P1,000,608.66,
and praying that Mr. Harden be ordered to return this sum to the Philippines, within a
stated period, said sum to be deposited with the account of the Plaza Lunch at the
Manila Branch of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China. Mr. Harden objected
to said motion. Appellee filed a rejoinder, to which Mr. Harden replied. Appellee filed a
rejoinder to the rejoinder. On October 7, 1947, the Court granted Appellee’s motion. Mr.
Harden sought a reconsideration, which was opposed by the Appellee on October 27,
1947, and denied by an order dated November 13, 1947. Mr. Harden moved, on
November 18, 1947, for the suspension of this order, which was immediately objected to
by the Appellee and then denied by the Court.
6. Inasmuch as said order of November 13, 1947 had not been complied
with, Appellee filed on November 27, 1947, a motion praying that Mr. Harden be
declared in contempt of court and punished accordingly. Meanwhile, or on November 24,
1947, Mr. Harden had instituted case G. R. No. L-1816 of this Court against Hon. Emilio
Peña, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, and Mrs. Harden. In the petition
therein filed, Mr. Harden applied for a writ of certiorari annulling said orders of Judge
Peña of October 7 and November 13, 1947, and prayed that, pending disposition of the
case, a writ of preliminary injunction be issued restraining theRespondents therein from
enforcing said orders, particularly through contempt proceedings. Hence, the lower court
deferred action on the aforementioned motion of November 27, 1947. After due hearing,
this Court, in a resolution dated February 12, 1948, refused to issue the writ of
preliminary injunction prayed for. Subsequently, or on November 21, 1950, decision was
rendered denying the petition for a writ of certiorari.
7. Soon after the issuance of our resolution in said case G. R. No. 1816, dated February
12, 1948, or to be exact on March 27, 1948, the lower court issued an order directing Mr.
Harden to comply, within five (5) days from notice, with the order of October 7, 1947. On
April 6, 1948,Appellee filed with the lower court the corresponding formal charges
against Mr. Harden for contempt of court. After due hearing, Mr. Harden was, by an
order of April 28, 1948, found guilty as charged and ordered confined “until he complies
with the aforementioned orders” of October 7, 1947 and March 27, 1948. On motion of
Mr. Harden, said order of April 28, 1948 was suspended until May 4, 1948, on which
date he was arrested and placed in confinement at the New Bilibid Prison, in
Muntinglupa, Rizal. On July 10, 1948, he filed with this Court a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus against the Director of Prisons, (G. R. No. L-2349, entitled “Fred M.
Harden vs. The Director of Prisons”), which, in due course was denied in a decision
promulgated on October 22, 1948.
8. During the military occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese, the Appellee made
representations with the Japanese Government to prevent the commandeering of a
business establishment belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Harden. Moreover, he succeeded in
persuading the Japanese to refrain from interning Mrs. Harden and her daughter and to
allow her to withdraw, from the former’s deposit in a local bank, from P200 to P250 a
month, for their subsistence. He, likewise, lent her money to meet her needs and spent
the sum of P55,000 in the preservation of the records and papers pertaining to the
business and other properties of the conjugal partnership of Mr. and Mrs. Harden.
9. Appellee assisted, also, the receiver, as his counsel and, in such capacity, took all
steps essential for the proper discharge of the duties of the former. Among other
things, Appelleesought and obtained judicial authority for some important acts of
administration of, and disposition by, the receiver. He (Appellee) secured judicial
intervention for the protection and preservation of the assets of the conjugal partnership,
including orders for the delivery of certificates of stock, the return thereof and/or its
deposit with the clerk of court. He, likewise, represented the receiver in seeking war
damage payments.
10. In civil case No. 6222 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled “Francisco
Dalupan vs. Fred M. Harden” for the recovery of P113,837.17, it was decided,
through Appellee’s intervention, that the conjugal assets would bear the payment of
P22,767.43 only, the balance to be chargeable exclusively against Mr. Harden’s share of
the conjugal partnership.
11. Appellee instituted civil case No. 6940 of the Court of First Instance of Manila,
entitled “Abelardo Perez vs. Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China and Fred M.
Harden”, for the recovery of P1,000,608.66 and the return of stock certificates of the
Balatoc Mining Co., which had been sent abroad.
12. He (Appellee) represented Mrs. Harden in connection with a million-peso federal tax
case against Mr. and Mrs. Harden.
13. Appellee successfully blocked Mr. Harden’s attempts to
withdraw:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (1) $53,000 and forward the same to the Collector
of Internal Revenue of Los Angeles, California; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary(2)
$50,000.00, allegedly to defray expenses in resisting a new tax assessment against him
in the United States; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand (3) P65,000 for his expenses.
Then too, the conjugal partnership had varried and extensive business interests and its assets
were worth almost P4,000,000. The pleadings, motions, oppositions, rejoinders, and
memoranda filed, and the evidence introduced, in the aforementioned cases — in
which Appellee was pitted against one of the most experienced and able members of the
Philippine Bar — were numerous, extensive and exhaustive. For instance, the record on appeal
in one of those cases, namely, G. R. No. L-3687, consisted of 966 pages.
In short, considering the character of the services rendered by the Appellee, the nature and
importance of the issues in said litigations, the amount of labor, time (1941 to 1952) and trouble
involved therein, the skill displayed in connection with said cases, the value of the property
affected by the controversy, the professional character and standing of the Appellee, the risks
assumed and the results obtained, we are of the opinion, and so hold, that the contract of
services in question is neither harsh nor oppressive or inequitable.
Under their second assignment of error, Appellants maintain that:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
“The lower court erred in failing to find as a fact borne out by the evidence that the legal
services of Attorney Claro M. Recto to Mrs. Esperanza P. de Harden, payment, for which is
sought by him in this case, have already been paid by his immediate execution pending appeal
of the decision in Civil Case No. CFI-R-59634 (SC-G.R. No. L- 3687), wherein he collected the
sum of P176,000.00 for all such legal services.”
Said decision, however, states clearly that the aforementioned sum of P175,000 represents litis
expensae, and the contract between the Appellee and Mrs. Harden explicitly declares that said
litis expensae shall be “in addition to” Appellee’s share of 25% of the increase in the allowance
of Mrs. Harden and his attorney’s fees of 20% of her share in the conjugal partnership. The
second assignment of error is, therefore, devoid of merit.
Appellants, further contend, that:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
3. The lower court erred in holding that the inchoate share of the wife, Esperanza P. de
Harden, in the undissolved and unliquidated conjugal partnership properties of the
Harden spouses, is capable of certain valuation before such dissolution and liquidation,
and summarily assessing the value of Mrs. Harden’s share in such conjugal properties
without proper evidence.
4. “The lower court erred in awarding 20% of such inchoate share to Attorney Claro M.
Recto from Mrs. Harden’s interests in the Harden conjugal properties, summarily
assessing such 20% inchoate share as of a value of P384,110.97, and ordering the
payment of said sum to Attorney Recto in pursuance of the provisions of paragraph 3 of
the Contract of Professional Services.”
Appellants’ arguments in support thereof may be summarized as
follows:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary The contract of services in question provides that Appellee’s
contingent fees shall be 20% of the share of Mrs. Harden in the conjugal partnership. Pursuant
to law, the share of Mrs. Harden shall be determined upon the liquidation of said partnership,
which has not taken place, as yet. What is more, it cannot be effected until the dissolution of the
marriage relation between Mr. and Mrs. Harden. Inasmuch as this relation subsists, it follows
that the amount of attorney’s fees due toAppellee herein should not have been determined in
the decision appealed from.
This line of argument overlooks the fact that said contract of services was made, principally, in
contemplation of a suit for divorce that, according to Mrs. Harden, she intended to file before a
competent court in California, “and of the liquidation of the conjugal partnership between” her
and Mr. Harden. Had she filed said action for divorce and secured a decree of divorce, said
conjugal partnership would have been dissolved and then liquidated, and the share of Mrs.
Harden therein would have been fixed. However, this cannot take place, either now, or in the
foreseeable future, owing to the aforementioned agreements between Mr. and Mrs. Harden,
which were made for the evident purpose of defeating Appellee’s claim for attorney’s fees. In
other words, the occurrence, within the time contemplated by the parties — bearing in mind the
nature of, and the circumstances under which they entered into, said contract of services — of
the event upon which the amount of said fees depended, was rendered impossible by Mrs.
Harden. Hence, whether such event be regarded as a condition or as a period, she may not
insist upon its occurrence, prior to the enforcement of the rights of the herein Appellee, for “the
condition shall be deemed fulfilled when the obligor voluntarily prevents its fulfillment” (Art.
1186, Civil Code) and “the debtor shall lose every right to make use of the period” when he
“violates any undertaking, in consideration of which the creditor agreed to the period.” (Art.
1198, Civil Code.)
It should be noted, also, that the compensation agreed upon for Appellee’s services, consists of
three (3) parts, namely:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (a) 25% of the increase in the allowance of
Mrs. Harden; chan roblesvirtualawlibrary(b) litis expensae; chan roblesvirtualawlibraryand (c)
20% of her share in the conjugal partnership. The first part was dealt with in the first paragraph
of their contract of services. The second and third parts were the object of the second and third
paragraphs, respectively. The first paragraph limited the rights of Appelleethereunder to two (2)
years, in the event of termination of the case or amicable settlement thereof within two (2) years
from the filing of the complaint. No such limitation appears in the second and third paragraphs of
said contract. Hence, the same were intended by the parties to be fully operative under any and
all conditions.
It may not be amiss to add that the value of the properties involved has been assessed, not
summarily, but after due notice and full dress hearing, in the course of which both parties
introduced testimonial and documentary evidence. Appellants presented Exhibits 1 to 58,
whereas those of the Appellee were so numerous that, having begun with Exhibit A, his last
piece of documentary evidence was marked Exhibit 26 Y’s. The transcript of the hearing, which
lasted ten (10) days, covers over 220 pages.
The other assignments of error made by Appellants herein are mere corollaries of those already
disposed of, and, hence, no further discussion thereof is necessary.
In conclusion, it appears that the assets of the conjugal partnership between Mr. and Mrs.
Harden are reasonably valued at P3,841,109.70. One-half (1/2) thereof, representing the share
of Mrs. Harden, is therefore, worth P1,920,554.85. Twenty percentum (20%) of this sum is
P384,110.97, which is the contingent fee due to the Appellee, apart from the litis expensae
already paid to him. Inasmuch as the Appellee has collected, also, the sum of P80,000.00, on
account of said contingent fees, there results in his favor a balance of P304,110.97.
Subject to this qualification, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, therefore, with costs
against the Appellants. SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-68470
October 8, 1985
FACTS: Petitioner Alice Van Dorn is a citizen of the Philippines while private respondent
Richard Upton is a citizen of the USA. They were married in Hongkong in 1972 and begot two
children. The parties were divorced in Nevada, USA in 1982. Alice has then re-married also in
Nevada, this time to Theodore Van Dorn.
In 1983, Richard filed suit against Alice in the RTC-Pasay, stating that Alice’s business in
Ermita, Manila is conjugal property of the parties, and asking that Alice be ordered to render an
accounting of that business, and that Richard be declared with right to manage the conjugal

Alice moved to dismiss the case on the ground that the cause of action is barred by previous
judgment in the divorce proceedings before the Nevada Court wherein respondent had
acknowledged that he and petitioner had “no community property” as of June 11, 1982.
The Court below (presiding judge: Judge Romillo) denied the MTD in the mentioned case on the
ground that the property involved is located in the Philippines so that the Divorce Decree has no
bearing in the case. The denial is now the subject of this certiorari proceeding.

ISSUE: What is the effect of the foreign divorce on the parties and their alleged conjugal
property in the Philippines?
HELD: Petition is granted, and respondent Judge is hereby ordered to dismiss the Complaint…
For the resolution of this case, it is not necessary to determine whether the property relations
between Alice and Richard, after their marriage, were upon absolute or relative community
property, upon complete separation of property, or upon any other regime. The pivotal fact in
this case is the Nevada divorce of the parties.

The Nevada District Court, which decreed the divorce, had obtained jurisdiction over petitioner
who appeared in person before the Court during the trial of the case. It also obtained jurisdiction
over private respondent who authorized his attorneys in the divorce case to agree to the divorce
on the ground of incompatibility in the understanding that there were neither community property
nor community obligations.

As explicitly stated in the Power of Attorney he executed in favor of the law firm of KARP &
GRAD LTD. to represent him in the divorce proceedings:

xxx xxx xxx

You are hereby authorized to accept service of Summons, to file an Answer, appear on my
behalf and do all things necessary and proper to represent me, without further contesting,
subject to the following:

1. That my spouse seeks a divorce on the ground of incompatibility.

2. That there is no community of property to be adjudicated by the Court.
3. That there are no community obligations to be adjudicated by the court.
xxx xxx xxx

There can be no question as to the validity of that Nevada divorce in any of the States of the
United States. The decree is binding on private respondent as an American citizen. What he is
contending in this case is that the divorce is not valid and binding in this jurisdiction, the same
being contrary to local law and public policy.

It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15 of the Civil Code, only
Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against absolute divorces the same being
considered contrary to our concept of public police and morality. However, aliens may obtain
divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are valid according
to their national law. In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the
marriage from the standards of American law, under which divorce dissolves the marriage.
Thus, pursuant to his national law, private respondent is no longer the husband of petitioner. He
would have no standing to sue in the case below as petitioner’s husband entitled to exercise
control over conjugal assets. As he is bound by the Decision of his own country’s Court, which
validly exercised jurisdiction over him, and whose decision he does not repudiate, he is
estopped by his own representation before said Court from asserting his right over the alleged
conjugal property.
G.R. No. 80116. June 30, 1989.


On September 7, 1979, petitioner Imelda Manalaysay Pilapil (Filipino citizen) and respondent and
respondent Erich Ekkehard Geiling, German national, were married at Federal Republic of
Germany. They lived together in Malate, Manila and had a child, Isabella Pilapil Geiling.
The private respondent initiated divorce proceeding against petitioner in Germany. The local court
in Germany promulgated a decree of divorce on the ground of failure of marriage of the spouse.
On the other hand, petitioner filed an action for legal separation before a trial court in Manila.

After the issuance of the divorce decree, private respondent filed the complaint for adultery before
the prosecutor of Manila alleging that the petitioner had an affair William Chia and
Jesus Chua while they were still married.
Petitioner filed a petition with the Justice Secretary asking to set aside the cases filed against her
and be dismissed. Thereafter, petitioner moved to defer her arraignment and to
suspend further proceedings. Justice Secretary Ordoñez issued a resolution directing to move for
the dismissal of the complaints against petitioner.


Is the action tenable?


Yes. The crime of adultery, as well as four other crimes against chastity, cannot be prosecuted
except upon sworn written filed by the offended spouse. Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code
presupposes that the marital relationship is still subsisting at the time of the institution of the
criminal action for adultery. This is logical consequence since the raison d’etre of said provision
of law would be absent where the supposed offended party had ceased to be the spouse of the
alleged offender at the time of the filing of the criminal case. It is indispensable that the status and
capacity of the complainant to commence the action be definitely established and, such status or
capacity must indubitably exist as of the time he initiates the action. Thus, the divorce decree is
valid not only in his country, may be recognized in the Philippines insofar as private respondent
is concerned – in view of the nationality principle under the Civil Code on the matter of civil status
of persons. Private respondent is no longer the husband of petitioner and has no legal standing
to commence the adultery case. The criminal case filed against petitioner is dismissed.