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COMPLAINT AND
DOCKET FEES
2

subsequently, PIL started its operations in the Philippines; however, it refused to


comply with its undertaking to employ Todaro on a permanent basis. 4

Instead of filing an Answer, PPHI, PCPI and Klepzig separately moved to dismiss the
complaint on the grounds that the complaint states no cause of action, that the RTC
G.R. No. 154830 June 8, 2007
has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint, as the same is within the
jurisdiction of the NLRC, and that the complaint should be dismissed on the basis of
PIONEER CONCRETE PHILIPPINES, INC., PIONEER PHILIPPINES HOLDINGS, the doctrine of forum non conveniens.5
and PHILIP J. KLEPZIG, petitioners,
vs.
In its Order dated January 4, 1999, the RTC of Makati, Branch 147, denied herein
ANTONIO D. TODARO, respondent.
petitioners' respective motions to dismiss.6 Herein petitioners, as defendants, filed an
Urgent Omnibus Motion7 for the reconsideration of the trial court's Order of January 4,
DECISION 1999 but the trial court denied it via its Order8 dated June 3, 1999.

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: On August 3, 1999, herein petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari with the CA.9 On
October 31, 2000, the CA rendered its presently assailed Decision denying herein
petitioners' Petition for Certiorari. Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration but the
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari seeking to annul and set aside CA denied it in its Resolution dated August 21, 2002.
the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated October 31, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No.
54155 and its Resolution2 of August 21, 2002 denying petitioners’ Motion for
Reconsideration. Hence, herein Petition for Review on Certiorari based on the following assignment of
errors:
The factual and procedural antecedents of the case are as follows:
A.
On January 16, 1998, herein respondent Antonio D. Todaro (Todaro) filed with the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, a complaint for Sum of Money and THE COURT OF APPEALS' CONCLUSION THAT THE COMPLAINT
Damages with Preliminary Attachment against Pioneer International Limited (PIL), STATES A CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST PETITIONERS IS WITHOUT
Pioneer Concrete Philippines, Inc. (PCPI), Pioneer Philippines Holdings, Inc. (PPHI), ANY LEGAL BASIS. THE ANNEXES TO THE COMPLAINT CLEARLY
John G. McDonald (McDonald) and Philip J. Klepzig (Klepzig).3 BELIE THE ALLEGATION OF EXISTENCE OF AN EMPLOYMENT
CONTRACT BETWEEN PRIVATE RESPONDENT AND PETITIONERS.
In his complaint, Todaro alleged that PIL is a corporation duly organized and existing
under the laws of Australia and is principally engaged in the ready-mix concrete and B.
concrete aggregates business; PPHI is the company established by PIL to own and
hold the stocks of its operating company in the Philippines; PCPI is the company
THE COURT OF APPEALS DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN
established by PIL to undertake its business of ready-mix concrete, concrete
A WAY NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH APPLICABLE
aggregates and quarrying operations in the Philippines; McDonald is the Chief
DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT WHEN IT UPHELD THE
Executive of the Hongkong office of PIL; and, Klepzig is the President and Managing
JURISDICTION OF THE TRIAL COURT DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE
Director of PPHI and PCPI; Todaro has been the managing director of Betonval
COMPLAINT INDUBITABLY SHOWS THAT IT IS AN ACTION FOR AN
Readyconcrete, Inc. (Betonval), a company engaged in pre-mixed concrete and
ALLEGED BREACH OF EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT, AND HENCE,
concrete aggregate production; he resigned from Betonval in February 1996; in May
FALLS WITHIN THE EXLCUSIVE JURISDICTION OF THE NATIONAL
1996, PIL contacted Todaro and asked him if he was available to join them in
LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION.
connection with their intention to establish a ready-mix concrete plant and other
related operations in the Philippines; Todaro informed PIL of his availability and
interest to join them; subsequently, PIL and Todaro came to an agreement wherein C
the former consented to engage the services of the latter as a consultant for two to
three months, after which, he would be employed as the manager of PIL's ready-mix
concrete operations should the company decide to invest in the Philippines;
3

THE COURT OF APPEALS DISREGARDED AND FAILED TO CONSIDER With respect to the third assigned error, petitioners assert that the principle of forum
THE PRINCIPLE OF "FORUM NON CONVENIENS" AS A VALID GROUND non conveniens dictates that even where exercise of jurisidiction is authorized by law,
FOR DISMISSING A COMPLAINT.10 courts may refuse to entertain a case involving a foreign element where the matter
can be better tried and decided elsewhere, either because the main aspects of the
case transpired in a foreign jurisdiction or the material witnesses have their residence
In their first assigned error, petitioners contend that there was no perfected
there and the plaintiff sought the forum merely to secure procedural advantage or to
employment contract between PIL and herein respondent. Petitioners assert that the
annoy or harass the defendant. Petitioners also argue that one of the factors in
annexes to respondent's complaint show that PIL's offer was for respondent to be
determining the most convenient forum for conflicts problem is the power of the court
employed as the manager only of its pre-mixed concrete operations and not as the
to enforce its decision. Petitioners contend that since the majority of the defendants in
company's managing director or CEO. Petitioners argue that when respondent
the present case are not residents of the Philippines, they are not subject to
reiterated his intention to become the manager of PIL's overall business venture in the
compulsory processes of the Philippine court handling the case for purposes of
Philippines, he, in effect did not accept PIL's offer of employment and instead made a
requiring their attendance during trial. Even assuming that they can be summoned,
counter-offer, which, however, was not accepted by PIL. Petitioners also contend that
their appearance would entail excessive costs. Petitioners further assert that there is
under Article 1318 of the Civil Code, one of the requisites for a contract to be
no allegation in the complaint from which one can conclude that the evidence to be
perfected is the consent of the contracting parties; that under Article 1319 of the same
presented during the trial can be better obtained in the Philippines. Moreover, the
Code, consent is manifested by the meeting of the offer and the acceptance upon the
events which led to the present controversy occurred outside the Philippines.
thing and the cause which are to constitute the contract; that the offer must be certain
Petitioners conclude that based on the foregoing factual circumstances, the case
and the acceptance absolute; that a qualified acceptance constitutes a counter-offer.
should be dismissed under the principle of forum non conveniens.
Petitioners assert that since PIL did not accept respondent's counter-offer, there never
was any employment contract that was perfected between them.
In his Comment, respondent extensively quoted the assailed CA Decision maintaining
that the factual allegations in the complaint determine whether or not the complaint
Petitioners further argue that respondent's claim for damages based on the provisions
states a cause of action.
of Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil Code is baseless because it was shown that there
was no perfected employment contract.
As to the question of jurisdiction, respondent contends that the complaint he filed was
not based on a contract of employment. Rather, it was based on petitioners'
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that PIL may be held liable for breach of
unwarranted breach of their contractual obligation to employ respondent. This breach,
employment contract, petitioners contend that PCPI and PPHI, may not also be held
respondent argues, gave rise to an action for damages which is cognizable by the
liable because they are juridical entities with personalities which are separate and
regular courts.
distinct from PIL, even if they are subsidiary corporations of the latter. Petitioners also
aver that the annexes to respondent's complaint show that the negotiations on the
alleged employment contract took place between respondent and PIL through its Even assuming that there was an employment contract, respondent asserts that for
office in Hongkong. In other words, PCPI and PPHI were not privy to the negotiations the NLRC to acquire jurisdiction, the claim for damages must have a reasonable
between PIL and respondent for the possible employment of the latter; and under causal connection with the employer-employee relationship of petitioners and
Article 1311 of the Civil Code, a contract is not binding upon and cannot be enforced respondent.
against one who was not a party to it even if he be aware of such contract and has
acted with knowledge thereof.
Respondent further argues that there is a perfected contract between him and
petitioners as they both agreed that the latter shall employ him to manage and operate
Petitioners further assert that petitioner Klepzig may not be held liable because he is their ready-mix concrete operations in the Philippines. Even assuming that there was
simply acting in his capacity as president of PCPI and PPHI and settled is the rule that no perfected contract, respondent contends that his complaint alleges an alternative
an officer of a corporation is not personally liable for acts done in the performance of cause of action which is based on the provisions of Articles 19 and 21 of the Civil
his duties and within the bounds of the authority conferred on him. Furthermore, Code.
petitioners argue that even if PCPI and PPHI are held liable, respondent still has no
cause of action against Klepzig because PCPI and PPHI have personalities which are
As to the applicability of the doctrine of forum non conveniens, respondent avers that
separate and distinct from those acting in their behalf, such as Klepzig.
the question of whether a suit should be entertained or dismissed on the basis of the
principle of forum non conveniens depends largely upon the facts of the particular
As to their second assigned error, petitioners contend that since herein respondent's case and is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial judge, who is in the best
claims for actual, moral and exemplary damages are solely premised on the alleged position to determine whether special circumstances require that the court desist from
breach of employment contract, the present case should be considered as falling assuming jurisdiction over the suit.
within the exclusive jurisdiction of the NLRC.
4

The petition lacks merit. The Court does not agree with petitioners' contention that they were not privy to the
negotiations for respondent's possible employment. It is evident from paragraphs 24 to
28 of the Complaint16 that, on various occasions, Klepzig conducted negotiations with
Section 2, Rule 2 of the Rules of Court, as amended, defines a cause of action as the
respondent regarding the latter's possible employment. In fact, Annex "H" 17 of the
act or omission by which a party violates a right of another. A cause of action exists if
complaint shows that it was Klepzig who informed respondent that his company was
the following elements are present: (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever
no longer interested in employing respondent. Hence, based on the allegations in the
means and under whatever law it arises or is created; (2) an obligation on the part of
Complaint and the annexes attached thereto, respondent has a cause of action
the named defendant to respect or not to violate such right; and, (3) an act or omission
against herein petitioners.
on the part of such defendant violative of the right of the plaintiff or constituting a
breach of the obligation of the defendant to the plaintiff for which the latter may
maintain an action for recovery of damages.11 As to the question of jurisdiction, this Court has consistently held that where no
employer-employee relationship exists between the parties and no issue is involved
which may be resolved by reference to the Labor Code, other labor statutes or any
In Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited v. Catalan,12 this Court held:
collective bargaining agreement, it is the Regional Trial Court that has jurisdiction. 18 In
the present case, no employer-employee relationship exists between petitioners and
The elementary test for failure to state a cause of action is whether the respondent. In fact, in his complaint, private respondent is not seeking any relief under
complaint alleges facts which if true would justify the relief demanded. the Labor Code, but seeks payment of damages on account of petitioners' alleged
Stated otherwise, may the court render a valid judgment upon the facts breach of their obligation under their agreement to employ him. It is settled that an
alleged therein? The inquiry is into the sufficiency, not the veracity of the action for breach of contractual obligation is intrinsically a civil dispute.19 In the
material allegations. If the allegations in the complaint furnish sufficient alternative, respondent seeks redress on the basis of the provisions of Articles 19 and
basis on which it can be maintained, it should not be dismissed regardless 21 of the Civil Code. Hence, it is clear that the present action is within the realm of civil
of the defense that may be presented by the defendants.13 law, and jurisdiction over it belongs to the regular courts.20

Moreover, the complaint does not have to establish or allege facts proving the With respect to the applicability of the principle of forum non conveniens in the present
existence of a cause of action at the outset; this will have to be done at the trial on the case, this Court's ruling in Bank of America NT & SA v. Court of Appeals21 is
merits of the case.14 To sustain a motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action, the instructive, to wit:
complaint must show that the claim for relief does not exist, rather than that a claim
has been defectively stated, or is ambiguous, indefinite or uncertain.15
The doctrine of forum non conveniens, literally meaning ‘the forum is
inconvenient’, emerged in private international law to deter the practice of
Hence, in resolving whether or not the Complaint in the present case states a cause of global forum shopping, that is to prevent non-resident litigants from
action, the trial court correctly limited itself to examining the sufficiency of the choosing the forum or place wherein to bring their suit for malicious
allegations in the Complaint as well as the annexes thereto. It is proscribed from reasons, such as to secure procedural advantages, to annoy and harass the
inquiring into the truth of the allegations in the Complaint or the authenticity of any of defendant, to avoid overcrowded dockets, or to select a more friendly
the documents referred or attached to the Complaint, since these are deemed venue. Under this doctrine, a court, in conflicts of law cases, may refuse
hypothetically admitted by the respondent. impositions on its jurisdiction where it is not the most "convenient" or
available forum and the parties are not precluded from seeking remedies
elsewhere.
This Court has reviewed respondent’s allegations in its Complaint. In a nutshell,
respondent alleged that herein petitioners reneged on their contractual obligation to
employ him on a permanent basis. This allegation is sufficient to constitute a cause of Whether a suit should be entertained or dismissed on the basis of said
action for damages. doctrine depends largely upon the facts of the particular case and is
addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court. In the case of
Communication Materials and Design, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, this Court
The issue as to whether or not there was a perfected contract between petitioners and held that "xxx [a] Philippine Court may assume jurisdiction over the case if it
respondent is a matter which is not ripe for determination in the present case; rather,
chooses to do so; provided, that the following requisites are met: (1) that the
this issue must be taken up during trial, considering that its resolution would Philippine Court is one to which the parties may conveniently resort to; (2)
necessarily entail an examination of the veracity of the allegations not only of herein that the Philippine Court is in a position to make an intelligent decision as to
respondent as plaintiff but also of petitioners as defendants.
the law and the facts; and, (3) that the Philippine Court has or is likely to
have power to enforce its decision."
5

Moreover, this Court enunciated in Philsec. Investment Corporation vs. Petition for review on certiorari assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
Court of Appeals, that the doctrine of forum non conveniens should not G.R. CV No. 57868, entitled "Dr. Ibarra S. Santos and Josefina M. Rivera versus
be used as a ground for a motion to dismiss because Sec. 1, Rule 16 Spouses Nieves de Leon, Virginia Enales and Deputy Sheriff Pericles Telan."
of the Rules of Court does not include said doctrine as a ground. This
Court further ruled that while it is within the discretion of the trial court
Records show that on September 25, 1995, spouses Pablo and Nieves de Leon,
to abstain from assuming jurisdiction on this ground, it should do so
herein respondents, filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC), Branch 77,
only after vital facts are established, to determine whether special
Parañaque City a complaint for forcible entry against Josefina Rivera, petitioner,
circumstances require the court’s desistance; and that the propriety of
docketed as Civil Case No. 9500. In her answer, petitioner Rivera claimed that the real
dismissing a case based on this principle of forum non conveniens
owner of the subject property is Dr. Ibarra Santos, also a petitioner.
requires a factual determination, hence it is more properly considered
a matter of defense.22 (emphasis supplied)
The MTC rendered a Decision in favor of respondent spouses de Leon. Upon appeal,
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) affirmed the MTC Decision. Petitioners filed with the
In the present case, the factual circumstances cited by petitioners which would
Court of Appeals a petition for review, but it was denied.
allegedly justify the application of the doctrine of forum non conveniens are matters of
defense, the merits of which should properly be threshed out during trial.
Subsequently, or on July 3, 1996, petitioners Dr. Ibarra Santos and Josefina Rivera
filed with the RTC, Branch 260, Parañaque City, Civil Case No. 96-0285 for
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision and
declaration of nullity of a Deed of Sale with prayer for a temporary restraining order
Resolution of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED.
and preliminary injunction. Impleaded as defendants were spouses Pablo and Nieves
de Leon (herein respondents), Virginia Enales and Pericles Telan, deputy sheriff IV of
Costs against petitioners. the said MTC.

SO ORDERED. The complaint alleges that petitioner, Dr. Ibarra Santos, is the registered owner of a
parcel of land and its improvements thereon situated in 1264 Interior Quirino Ave.,
San Dionisio Parañaque City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 69150 of the
Registry of Deeds, same city; that Virginia Enales and Rosendo Rivera (deceased
husband of petitioner Josefina Rivera) sold Dr. Santos’ property to respondent
spouses de Leon; and that in Civil Case No. 9500 for forcible entry filed by said
respondent spouses with the MTC of Parañaque City involving the same property, a
writ of execution was issued evicting from the premises petitioner Josefina Rivera, the
lessee of Dr. Santos. Petitioners Dr. Santos and Rivera thus prayed that the Deed of
Sale between Virginia Enales and Rosendo Rivera, as vendors, and respondent
spouses de Leon, as vendees, be declared void; and that a temporary restraining
order and/or preliminary injunction be issued enjoining the sheriff from implementing
the Decision of the MTC in Civil Case No. 9500.

On August 1, 1996, respondent spouses de Leon filed a motion to dismiss the


G.R. No. 140892. September 21, 2005 complaint on the ground that it states no cause of action. The motion was granted.

Dr. Ibarra S. Santos and Josefina M. Rivera, Petitioners, Hence, both petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review.
vs.
Spouses Pablo and Nieves de Leon and Virginia Enales, Respondent.
On September 22, 1999, the Appellate Court rendered its Decision denying the
petition, holding that the complaint does not state a cause of action considering that
DECISION while it alleges that the Deed of Sale is null and void, however, petitioner Dr. Santos
failed to specify the grounds why the said document is a nullity and should, therefore,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: be annulled.
6

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by the Appellate Court. has been prejudiced when the property, belonging to Dr. Santos, was sold by persons
who are not its real owners to spouses de Leon.
Hence, the instant petition.
In determining whether the allegations of the complaint are sufficient to support a
cause of action, the complaint does not have to establish or allege the facts proving
Petitioners Dr. Santos and Rivera contend that the Court of Appeals erred in ruling
the existence of a cause at the outset; this will have to be done at the trial on the
that the complaint states no cause of action. They insist that the allegations therein
merits of the case.2 A complaint is sufficient if it contains sufficient notice of the cause
"are sufficient for rendering a valid judgment in accordance with their prayer." Their
of action even though the allegations may be vague and indefinite.3 To sustain a
complaint states only the ultimate facts since the details can be proven during the trial.
motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action, the complaint must show that the claim
for relief does not exist rather than that a claim has been defectively stated or is
Petitioners alleged in their complaint that: ambiguous, indefinite or uncertain.4 The determination of the issue of ownership of a
property requires proofs which can be threshed out, not in a motion to dismiss, but in a
full-blown trial on the merits.
"6. That plaintiff SANTOS is the absolute owner in fee simple of that parcel of land and
improvements thereon disputed in Civil Case No. 9500 entitled ‘SPS. PABLO AND
NIEVES DE LEON versus JOSEFINA RIVERA’ before Branch 77 of the In fine, we rule that the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that petitioners’ complaint in
METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT of PARAÑAQUE, METRO MANILA, as shown by Civil Case No. 96-0285 does not state a cause of action and that in filing the said
copy of TCT No. 69150 (ANNEX ‘A’); complaint, petitioners did not violate the Rule on forum shopping.

7. That in said MTC Civil Case No. 9500, defendant ENALES and the late ROSENDO WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed Decision and
RIVERA (deceased husband of plaintiff RIVERA) allegedly sold plaintiff SANTOS’ real Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 57868 are REVERSED. Let the
estate property covered by TCT No. 69150 (ANNEX ‘A’) to herein defendant spouses records of this case be remanded to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 260, Parañaque
DE LEON as shown by the ‘DEED OF SALE WITH WAIVER OF RIGHTS’ (ANNEX City for trial on the merits with dispatch.
‘B’), ‘WAIVER WITH SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY’ (ANNEX ‘C’) and ‘RECEIPT
AND COMMITMENT’ (ANNEX ‘D’)."
SO ORDERED.

The general rule is that the allegations in a complaint are sufficient to constitute a
cause of action against the defendants if, admitting the facts alleged, the court can
render a valid judgment upon the same in accordance with the prayer therein. A cause
of action exists if the following elements are present, namely: (1) a right in favor of the
plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever law it arises or is created; (2) an
obligation on the part of the named defendant to respect or not to violate such right;
and (3) an act or omission on the part of such defendant violative of the right of the
plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the defendant to the plaintiff for
which the latter may maintain an action for recovery of damages.1

The above allegations quoted above sufficiently establish a cause of action. They
specify that petitioners Dr. Ibarra Santos is the absolute owner of the disputed parcel
of land and the improvements thereon. His claim of ownership is evidenced by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 4569216 of the Registry of Deeds for Parañaque City.
Definitely, as the registered owner of the subject property, he has a cause of action
against spouses de Leon who claim to have purchased the same from Virginia Enales
and Rosendo Rivera who are not the true owners thereof.

On the part of petitioner Josefina Rivera, she alleged in the same complaint that she
has been in possession, as a lessee, of the same property since 1983 as shown by a
Contract of Lease between her and Dr. Ibarra Santos; and that her right as a lessee
7

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court assailing the Decision1 dated August 23, 2002 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
CA-G.R. SP No. 65570 and the CA Resolution2 dated October 22, 2002 which denied
petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration.

The facts:

Universal Aquarius, Inc. (Universal) is engaged in the manufacture and distribution of


chemical products in Metro Manila. It operates a chemical plant in Antipolo City.
Conchita Tan (Tan), as a proprietor under the name and style of Marman Trading
(Marman), is engaged in the trading, delivery and distribution of chemical products in
Metro Manila, with a depot in Antipolo City adjoining Universal's chemical plant.

Q.C. Human Resources Management Corporation (Resources) is engaged in


supplying manpower to various establishments. It supplied Universal with about
seventy-four (74) temporary workers to assist Universal in the operation of its
chemical plant in Antipolo City.

On December 13, 2000, Rodolfo Capocyan (Capocyan), claiming to be the general


counsel/national president of the labor organization called Obrero Pilipino (Universal
Aquarius Chapter), hereinafter referred to as Obrero Filipino, sent a Notice of Strike to
Universal.

On the same date, Resources informed the Regional Office of the Department of
Labor and Employment that the officers and members of Obrero Pilipino are its
employees and not employees of Universal.

Five days later, or on December 19, 2000, Capocyon and 36 other union officers and
members3 of Obrero Pilipino, picketed, barricaded and obstructed the entry and exit of
Universal's Antipolo City chemical plant and intercepted Universal's delivery trucks
thereby disrupting its business operations. Marman's depot, which adjoined
Universal's plant, suffered a similar fate.

On December 27, 2000, Universal and Tan filed a Complaint against the strikers and
G.R. No. 155990 September 12, 2007 Resources before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 74, Antipolo City (RTC) for breach
of contract and damages suffered due to the disruption of their respective business
operations, docketed as Civil Case No. 00-6029.4 The Complaint alleges, in part:
UNIVERSAL AQUARIUS, INC. and CONCHITA TAN, petitioners,
vs.
Q.C. HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, respondent *. (17) On December 19, 2000, at about 2:00 o'clock in the morning, in gross
violation of all applicable laws, rules and regulations, defendants Capocyan,
et al., willfully, unlawfully and feloniously picketed, barricaded and otherwise
DECISION obstructed entry and exit to and from the main gate of plaintiff Universal's
plant; x x x
8

(23) In a parallel move, and a companion activity to their unlawful of the complaint, it was apparent that the right of the plaintiffs to operate
obstruction of plaintiff Universal's premises, Capocyan, et al., likewise their business was violated when the defendants, Rodolfo Capocyan and
picketed , obstructed and otherwise barricaded the premises of plaintiff company, staged the strike in the premises of Universal Aquarius and
Marman, whose depot adjoined that of plaintiff Universal; x x x Marman, thereby disrupting the plant's operations. Q.C. Human Resources
Management Corporation (the petitioner in this case) was made defendant
in the complaint only because it was the employer of the strikers. However,
(26) As a consequence of the companion blockade on plaintiff Marman's
subsequent events erased the cause of action of plaintiffs, that is, when
premises, its business operations were paralyzed;
Universal Aquarius agreed to end the dispute by giving financial assistance
to the striking workers and the dismissal of the case against them. With this
(27) Plaintiff Universal's and plaintiff Marman's operations continue to be at turn of events, the trial court had no more issue to resolve, and the
a standstill, causing damages in the form of unearned sales x x x dismissal of the complaint against the strikers necessarily warranted the
dismissal of the complaint against Q.C. Human Resources Management
Corporation because plaintiffs had no more cause of action against it.14
(31) Defendant Resources represented itself to be able to provide
temporary workers who are competent to assist in plaintiff Universal's plant
operations; it held itself out as a manpower firm with a pool of what can Universal and Tan filed a Motion for Reconsideration15 but it was denied by the CA in
generally be described as law-abiding workers, as that is essential in its its Resolution dated October 22, 2002.16
business of job-contracting;
The present petition is anchored on the following grounds:
(32) Defendant Resources instead sent a band of scoundrels who allowed
themselves to be misdirected and misguided by Capocyan, an attorney (?),
The Honorable Court of Appeals seriously erred in dismissing Civil Case
and "national president" of Obrero Pilipino (?)
No. 00-6829 for lack of cause of action.

x x x5
The Honorable Court of Appeals seriously erred in holding that the lower
court committed grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack of jurisdiction
On January 3, 2001, Universal forged an Agreement (To End Labor Dispute) with when he denied the motion to dismiss filed by respondent Resources. 17
Obrero Pilipino.6 Thus, the strike which affected the business operations of Universal
and Marman ended. Universal and Tan then filed a Notice of Dismissal as against the
Universal and Tan aver that the complaint stated a cause of action against Resources
strikers.7
that would warrant cognizance by the RTC; the allegations of the complaint clearly
point out that Universal is suing Resources for the latter's failure to supply the former
On January 8, 2001, Resources filed a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that the with temporary workers who will help in its business.
complaint stated no cause of action against it; that, assuming the existence of such
cause of action, the same was lost upon dismissal of the case against the individual
On the other hand, Resources contends that the complaint stated no cause of action
defendants; and lack of jurisdiction.8
against it since there is nothing in the allegations thereof that it participated in the acts
committed by its employees.
In an Order dated February 2, 2001, the RTC denied the Motion to Dismiss.9
Resources filed a Motion for Reconsideration10 but it was denied by the RTC in its
The petition is partly impressed with merit.
Order dated May 11, 2001.11

Section 1(g) Rule 1618 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure makes it clear that failure
On July 11, 2001, Resources filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the CA.12
to make a sufficient allegation of a cause of action in the complaint warrants the
On August 23, 2002, the CA rendered a Decision which set aside the Orders dated
dismissal thereof. Section 2, Rule 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure defines a
February 2, 2001 and May 11, 2001 of the RTC and dismissed the complaint for lack
cause of action as the act or omission by which a party violates the right of another. It
of cause of action.13 The CA held that:
is the delict or the wrongful act or omission committed by the defendant in violation of
the primary right of the plaintiff.19 Its essential elements are as follows:
It was very clear from the allegations in the complaint that the claims of
plaintiffs (private respondents in this case) stemmed from the strike, which
1. A right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever law
resulted in the disruption of their business operations. From the four corners
it arises or is created;
9

2. An obligation on the part of the named defendant to respect or not to by the employees of Resources. It is settled that an employer's liability for acts of its
violate such right; and employees attaches only when the tortious conduct of the employee relates to, or is in
the course of, his employment.28 The question then is whether, at the time of the
damage or injury, the employee is engaged in the affairs or concerns of the employer
3. Act or omission on the part of such defendant in violation of the right of
or, independently, in that of his own. An employer incurs no liability when an
the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the defendant to the
employee’s conduct, act or omission is beyond the range of employment. 29
plaintiff for which the latter may maintain an action for recovery of damages
Unquestionably, when Resources' employees staged a strike, they were acting on
or other appropriate relief.20
their own, beyond the range of their employment. Thus, Resources cannot be held
liable for damages caused by the strike staged by its employees.
It is only upon the occurrence of the last element that a cause of action arises, giving
the plaintiff the right to maintain an action in court for recovery of damages or other
WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision dated August 23,
appropriate relief.21
2002 and Resolution dated October 22, 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
No. 65570 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE insofar only as the dismissal of the
In Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited v. Catalan,22 this Court held: complaint in Civil Case No. 00-6029 for lack of cause of action of Universal Aquarius,
Inc. against Q.C. Human Resources Management Corporation is concerned. The
complaint against the latter is REINSTATED. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 74,
The elementary test for failure to state a cause of action is whether the Antipolo City is DIRECTED to continue with the proceedings on the cause of action of
complaint alleges facts which if true would justify the relief demanded. Universal Aquarius, Inc. against Q.C. Human Resources Management Corporation.
Stated otherwise, may the court render a valid judgment upon the facts
alleged therein? The inquiry is into the sufficiency, not the veracity of the
material allegations. If the allegations in the complaint furnish sufficient The dismissal of the complaint in Civil Case No. 00-6029 for lack of cause of action of
basis on which it can be maintained, it should not be dismissed regardless Conchita Tan against Q.C. Human Resources Management Corporation is
of the defense that may be presented by the defendants.23 AFFIRMED.

Verily, it is beside the point whether or not the allegations in the complaint are true, for SO ORDERED.
with a motion to dismiss complaint based on lack of cause of action, the movant only
hypothetically admits the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint; that is, assuming
arguendo that the facts alleged are true, those allegations are insufficient for the court
to render a valid judgment upon the same in accordance with the prayer of the
complaint.24

The complaint does not have to establish or allege facts proving the existence of a
cause of action at the outset; this will have to be done at the trial on the merits of the
case.25 To sustain a motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action, the complaint must
show that the claim for relief does not exist, rather than that a claim has been
defectively stated, or is ambiguous, indefinite or uncertain.26

Anent Universal's claim for breach for contract and damages, the Court is convinced
that the Complaint sufficiently states a cause of action against Resources. The
Complaint alleged that Universal had a contract of employment of temporary workers
with Resources; and that Resources violated said contract by supplying it with unfit,
maladjusted individuals who staged a strike and disrupted its business operations.
Given these hypothetically admitted facts, the RTC, in the exercise of its original and
exclusive jurisdiction,27 could have rendered judgment over the dispute.

However, with regard to Tan's claim for damages, the Court finds that she has no
cause of action against Resources. A thorough reading of the allegations of the
Complaint reveals that Tan's claim for damages clearly springs from the strike effected
10

DE LEON, JR., J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by petitioners Pilar S. Vda De Manalo, et.
Al., seeking to annul the Resolution 1 of the Court of Appeals 2 affirming the Orders 3 of
the Regional Trial Court and the Resolution 4 which denied petitioner' motion for
reconsideration.

The antecedent facts 5 are as follows:

Troadio Manalo, a resident of 1996 Maria Clara Street, Sampaloc, Manila died
intestate on February 14, 1992. He was survived by his wife, Pilar S. Manalo, and his
eleven (11) children, namely: Purita M. Jayme, Antonio Manalo, Milagros M. Terre,
Belen M. Orillano, Isabelita Manalo, Rosalina M. Acuin, Romeo Manalo, Roberto
Manalo, Amalia Manalo, Orlando Manalo and Imelda Manalo, who are all of legal
age.1âwphi1.nêt

At the time of his death on February 14, 1992, Troadio Manalo left several real
properties located in Manila and in the province of Tarlac including a business under
the name and style Manalo's Machine Shop with offices at No. 19 Calavite Street, La
Loma, Quezon City and at NO. 45 General Tinio Street, Arty Subdivision, Valenzuela,
Metro Manila.

On November 26, 1992, herein respondents, who are eight (8) of the surviving
children of the late Troadio Manalo, namely; Purita, Milagros, Belen Rocalina, Romeo,
Roberto, Amalia, and Imelda filed a petition 6 with the respondent Regional Trial Court
of Manila 7 of the judicial settlement of the estate of their late father, Troadio Manalo,
and for the appointment of their brother, Romeo Manalo, as administrator thereof.

On December 15, 1992, the trial court issued an order setting the said petition for
hearing on February 11, 1993 and directing the publication of the order for three (3)
consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in Metro Manila, and further
directing service by registered mail of the said order upon the heirs named in the
petition at their respective addresses mentioned therein.

On February 11, 1993, the date set for hearing of the petition, the trial court issued an
order 'declaring the whole world in default, except the government," and set the
reception of evidence of the petitioners therein on March 16, 1993. However, the trial
G.R. NO. 129242 January 16, 2001 court upon motion of set this order of general default aside herein petitioners
(oppositors therein) namely: Pilar S. Vda. De Manalo, Antonio, Isabelita and Orlando
PILAR S. VDA. DE MANALO, ANTONIO S. MANALO, ORLANDO S. MANALO, and who were granted then (10) days within which to file their opposition to the petition.
ISABELITA MANALO ,petitioners,
vs. Several pleadings were subsequently filed by herein petitioners, through counsel,
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA culminating in the filling of an Omnibus Motion8 on July 23, 1993 seeking; (1) to seat
(BRANCH 35), PURITA S. JAYME, MILAGROS M. TERRE, BELEN M. ORILLANO, aside and reconsider the Order of the trial court dated July 9, 1993 which denied the
ROSALINA M. ACUIN, ROMEO S. MANALO, ROBERTO S. MANALO, AMALIA motion for additional extension of time file opposition; (2) to set for preliminary hearing
MANALO and IMELDA MANALO, respondents. their affirmative defenses as grounds for dismissal of the case; (3) to declare that the
11

trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the persons of the oppositors; and (4) for the contains certain averments, which, according to them, are indicative of its adversarial
immediate inhibition of the presiding judge. nature, to wit:

On July 30, 1993, the trial court issued an order9 which resolved, thus: X X X

A. To admit the so-called Opposition filed by counsel for the oppositors on Par. 7. One of the surviving sons, ANTONIO MANALO, since the death of
July 20, 1993, only for the purpose of considering the merits thereof; his father, TROADIO MANALO, had not made any settlement, judicial or
extra-judicial of the properties of the deceased father TROADIO MANALO.
B. To deny the prayer of the oppositors for a preliminary hearing of their
affirmative defenses as ground for the dismissal of this proceeding, said Par. 8. xxx the said surviving son continued to manage and control the
affirmative defenses being irrelevant and immaterial to the purpose and properties aforementioned, without proper accounting, to his own benefit
issue of the present proceeding; and advantage xxx.

C. To declare that this court has acquired jurisdiction over the persons of X X X
the oppositors;
Par. 12. That said ANTONIO MANALO is managing and controlling the
D. To deny the motion of the oppositors for the inhibition of this Presiding estate of the deceased TROADIO MANALO to his own advantage and to
Judge; the damage and prejudice of the herein petitioners and their co-heirs xxx.

E. To set the application of Romeo Manalo for appointment as regular X X X


administrator in the intestate estate of the deceased Troadio Manalo for
hearing on September 9, 1993 at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon.
Par. 14. For the protection of their rights and interests, petitioners were
compelled to bring this suit and were forced to litigate and incur expenses
Herein petitioners filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with and will continue to incur expenses of not less than, P250,000.00 and
the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. SP. No. 39851, after the trial court in its engaged the services of herein counsel committing to pay P200,000.00 as
Order 10 dated September 15, 1993. In their petition for improperly laid in SP. PROC. and attorney's fees plus honorarium of P2,500.00 per appearance in court
No. 92-63626; (2) the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over their persons; (3) the xxx.13
share of the surviving spouse was included in the intestate proceedings; (4) there was
absence of earnest efforts toward compromise among members of the same family;
Consequently, according to herein petitioners, the same should be dismissed under
and (5) no certification of non-forum shopping was attached to the petition.
Rule 16, Section 1(j) of the Revised Rules of Court which provides that a motion to
dismiss a complaint may be filed on the ground that a condition precedent for filling
Finding the contentions untenable, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for the claim has not been complied with, that is, that the petitioners therein failed to aver
certiorari in its Resolution11 promulgated on September 30, 1996. On May 6, 1997 the in the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626, that earnest efforts toward a compromise
motion for reconsideration of the said resolution was likewise dismissed. 12 have been made involving members of the same family prior to the filling of the
petition pursuant to Article 222 14 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
The only issue raised by herein petitioners in the instant petition for review is whether
or not the respondent Court of Appeals erred in upholding the questioned orders of the The instant petition is not impressed with merit.
respondent trial court which denied their motion for the outright dismissal of the
petition for judicial settlement of estate despite the failure of the petitioners therein to
It is a fundamental rule that in the determination of the nature of an action or
aver that earnest efforts toward a compromise involving members of the same family
proceeding, the averments15 and the character of the relief sought 16 in the complaint,
have been made prior to the filling of the petition but that the same have failed.
or petition, as in the case at bar, shall be controlling. A careful srutiny of the Petition
for Issuance of Letters of Administration, Settlement and Distribution of Estatein SP.
Herein petitioners claim that the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 is actually an PROC. No. 92-63626 belies herein petitioners' claim that the same is in the nature of
ordinary civil action involving members of the same family. They point out that it an ordinary civil action. The said petition contains sufficient jurisdictional facts required
in a petition for the settlement of estate of a deceased person such as the fat of death
12

of the late Troadio Manalo on February 14, 1992, as well as his residence in the City be properly threshed out only in an ordinary civil action. In addition, the rule has
of Manila at the time of his said death. The fact of death of the decedent and of his always been to the effect that the jurisdiction of a court, as well as the concomitant
residence within he country are foundation facts upon which all the subsequent nature of an action, is determined by the averments in the complaint and not by the
proceedings in the administration of the estate rest. 17 The petition is SP.PROC No. 92- defenses contained in the answer. If it were otherwise, it would not be too difficult to
63626 also contains an enumeration of the names of his legal heirs including a have a case either thrown out of court or its proceedings unduly delayed by simple
tentative list of the properties left by the deceased which are sought to be settled in strategem.21 So it should be in the instant petition for settlement of estate.
the probate proceedings. In addition, the relief's prayed for in the said petition leave no
room for doubt as regard the intention of the petitioners therein (private respondents
Herein petitioners argue that even if the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 were to
herein) to seek judicial settlement of the estate of their deceased father, Troadio
be considered as a special proceeding for the settlement of estate of a deceased
Manalo, to wit;
person, Rule 16, Section 1(j) of the Rules of Court vis-à-vis Article 222 of the Civil
Code of the Philippines would nevertheless apply as a ground for the dismissal of the
PRAYER same by virtue of ule 1, Section 2 of the Rules of Court which provides that the 'rules
shall be liberally construed in order to promote their object and to assist the parties in
obtaining just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action and
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed for of this Honorable
proceedings.' Petitioners contend that the term "proceeding" is so broad that it must
Court:
necessarily include special proceedings.

a. That after due hearing, letters of administration be issued to petitioner


The argument is misplaced. Herein petitioners may not validly take refuge under the
ROMEO MANALO for the administration of the estate of the deceased
provisions of Rule 1, Section 2, of the Rules of Court to justify the invocation of Article
TROADIO MANALO upon the giving of a bond in such reasonable sum that
222 of the Civil Code of the Philippines for the dismissal of the petition for settlement
this Honorable Court may fix.
of the estate of the deceased Troadio Manalo inasmuch as the latter provision is clear
enough. To wit:
b. That after all the properties of the deceased TROADIO MANALO have
been inventoried and expenses and just debts, if any, have been paid and
Art. 222. No suit shall be filed or maintained between members of the same family
the legal heirs of the deceased fully determined, that the said estate of
unless it should appear that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been made,
TROADIO MANALO be settled and distributed among the legal heirs all in
but that the same have failed, subject to the limitations in Article 2035(underscoring
accordance with law.
supplied).22

c. That the litigation expenses of these proceedings in the amount of


The above-quoted provision of the law is applicable only to ordinary civil actions. This
P250,000.00 and attorney's fees in the amount of P300,000.00 plus
is clear from the term 'suit' that it refers to an action by one person or persons against
honorarium of P2,500.00 per appearance in court in the hearing and trial of
another or other in a court of justice in which the plaintiff pursues the remedy which
this case and costs of suit be taxed solely against ANTONIO MANALO. 18
the law affords him for the redress of an injury or the enforcement of a right, whether
at law or in equity. 23 A civil action is thus an action filed in a court of justice, whereby a
Concededly, the petition in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 contains certain averments party sues another for the enforcement of a right, or the prevention or redress of a
which may be typical of an ordinary civil action. Herein petitioners, as oppositors wrong.24 Besides, an excerpt form the Report of the Code Commission unmistakably
therein, took advantage of the said defect in the petition and filed their so-called reveals the intention of the Code Commission to make that legal provision applicable
Opposition thereto which, as observed by the trial court, is actually an Answer only to civil actions which are essentially adversarial and involve members of the
containing admissions and denials, special and affirmative defenses and compulsory same family, thus:
counterclaims for actual, moral and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees and
costs 19 in an apparent effort to make out a case of an ordinary civil action and
It is difficult to imagine a sadder and more tragic spectacle than a litigation
ultimately seek its dismissal under Rule 16, Section 1(j) of the Rules of Court vis-à-vis,
between members of the same family. It is necessary that every effort
Article 222 of civil of the Civil Code.
should be made toward a compromise before litigation is allowed to breed
hate and passion in the family. It is know that lawsuit between close
It is our view that herein petitioners may not be allowed to defeat the purpose of the relatives generates deeper bitterness than stranger.25
essentially valid petition for the settlement of the estate of the late Troadio Manalo by
raising matters that as irrelevant and immaterial to the said petition. It must be
It must be emphasized that the oppositors (herein petitioners) are not being sued in
emphasized that the trial court, siting as a probate court, has limited and special
SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 for any cause of action as in fact no defendant was
jurisdiction 20 and cannot hear and dispose of collateral matters and issues which may
13

imploded therein. The Petition for issuance of letters of Administration, Settlement and COURT OF APPEALS, SPOUSES PONCIANO MALLARI and GLORIA BINUYA,
Distribution of Estate in SP. PROC. No. 92-63626 is a special proceeding and, as SPOUSES ELENA MALLARI and MELENCIO TULABAN, and REGINA MALLARI,
such, it is a remedy whereby the petitioners therein seek to establish a status, a right, respondents.
or a particular fact. 26 the petitioners therein (private respondents herein) merely seek
to establish the fat of death of their father and subsequently to be duly recognized as
among the heirs of the said deceased so that they can validly exercise their right to
participate in the settlement and liquidation of the estate of the decedent consistent
with the limited and special jurisdiction of the probate court.1âwphi1.nêt DAVIDE, JR., J.:

WHEREFORE, the petition in the above-entitled case, is DENIED for lack of merit, In this petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioners seek the
Costs against petitioners. reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 400171 which set
aside the Order of the Regional Trial Court of Gapan, Nueva Ecija, Branch 35 in Civil
Case No. 8362 dismissing private respondent's complaint3 which sought the
SO ORDERED.
declaration of nullity of the Original Certificate of Title (OCT) issued pursuant to a Free
Patent in the name of petitioners.

The factual antecedents, as succinctly summarized by the Court of Appeals, are as


follows:

Plaintiffs-appellants [private respondents] filed complaint for the declaration


of nullity of Original Certificate of Title No. P-8265 issued in the name of the
heirs of Marciano Nagaño and covering Cad. Lot. No. 3275. Plaintiff-
appellants alleged that the issuance of the said title was on account of the
fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation committed by defendant Marcario
Valerio. An information for perjury was even filed on November 2, 1983
against defendant Valerio, who unlawfully attested that Lot No. 3275 was
not occupied or being claimed by other persons. Plaintiff-appellants alleged
that part of the subject property was owned by their predecessors-in-interest
Rufino Mallari and Ferminal Jamlig and that they were in possession of the
said land since 1920. They recently discovered that their entire Lot No. 3275
was registered by defendant Valerio under Free Patent No. (III-2) 001953
and OCT No. P-8265 in the name of the heirs of Marciano Nagaño. They
allegedly demanded from defendant Velerio to execute the necessary
document in order that the 2,250 square meters owned by them be
segregated from the property titled in the name of the defendants-appellee
[petitioners herein]. Defendants-appellee, however, refused to accede their
demands.

A motion to dismiss was filed by defendants-appellees on the following


grounds, viz.:

1. The court has no jurisdiction over the nature of the action;

G.R. No. 123231 November 17, 1997 2. Plaintiffs have no cause of action against the defendants, since suit for
annulment of title which actually is a reversion proceedings should be
HEIRS OF MARCIANO NAGAÑO, petitioner, instituted by the Solicitor;
vs.
14

3. Plaintiff's cause of action is barred by the statute of limitations, the lawsuit PRIVATE RESPONDENTS' PRINCIPAL CAUSE OF ACTION IN THIS
having been instituted more than one year, or in fact almost fifteen years CASE IS FOR THE AWARD IN THEIR FAVOR OF 2,250 SQUARE
after the issuance of the title.4 METERS PORTION OF THAT PARCEL OF LAND COVERED BY OCT NO.
P-8265 AND CIVIL COURTS HAVE NO JURISDICTION OVER THE
NATURE OF THE ACTION SINCE IT IS THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, NOT
In its Order of 21 September 1992,5 the trial court granted petitioners' motion to
THE CIVIL COURTS, WHO IS VESTED WITH JURISDICTION TO DECIDE
dismiss on the ground that:
[TO] WHOM TO AWARD DISPOSABLE LANDS OF THE PUBLIC
DOMAIN.
[The] action to annul the subject certificate of title, which is the plaintiffs'
principal cause of action, should be instituted by the Solicitor General.
III
(Lopez v. Padilla, 45 SCRA 44; Maximo v. CFI of Capis (sic), 182 SCRA
420; and Sumali v. Judge of CFI Cotabato, 96 Phil. 946, cited by the
defendants). PRIVATE RESPONDENTS HAVE NO CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE
PETITIONERS, SINCE [A] SUIT FOR ANNULMENT OF TITLE WHICH
ACTUALLY IS A REVERSION PROCEEDING [sic], SHOULD BE
Private respondents appealed the order of dismissal to respondents court raising this
INSTITUTED BY THE SOLICITOR GENERAL.
lone assignment of error:

IV
THE COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING THE CASE AND/OR ALL THE
CAUSES OF ACTION OF THE PLAINTIFF-APPELLANTS.6
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS' CAUSE OF ACTION IS BARRED BY THE
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, THE LAWSUIT HAVING BEEN INSTITUTED
In its decision7 of 20 September 1995, the Court of Appeals set aside the challenged
MORE THAN ONE YEAR, OR IN FACT ALMOST FIFTEEN YEARS,
order of the trial court and reinstated private respondents' complaint. Applying Agne v.
AFTER THE ISSUANCE OF THE TITLE.
Director of Lands,8 respondent court distinguished private respondents' action from a
review of the decree of title on the ground of fraud, and held that the rule on the
incontrovertibility of a certificate of title upon the expiration of one year after entry of The Court of Appeals correctly set aside the challenged order of the trial court, but not
the decree did not apply as the action for cancellation of the patent and certificate of necessarily for the correct reasons. The trial court sustained the second ground of
title issued pursuant thereto was instituted on the ground that they were null and void petitioners' motion to dismiss, namely, that private respondents had no cause of action
as the Bureau of Lands had no jurisdiction to issue them, the land having been since the suit for annulment of title amounted to a reversion proceeding which only the
withdrawn from the public domain prior to the award of the patent and grant of the Office of the Solicitor General could initiate. The propriety of that ruling was the
certificate of title to another person. primary issue before the Court of Appeals, as the trial court did not deem it necessary
to rule on the other grounds, viz., (a) lack of jurisdiction over the nature of the action;
and (2) that private respondents' cause of action was barred by the statute of
Petitioners' motion to reconsider9 having been denied by the Court of Appeals in its
limitations since the action was filed more than one year after issuance of the title.
Resolution of 20 December 1995,10 petitioners filed the petition at bar alleging that:

The rule is settled that a motion to dismiss a complaint hypothetically admits the truth
I
of the facts alleged therein.11 In their complaint,12 private respondents specifically
alleged that: (a) they are "the heirs of Rufino Mallari and Fermina Jamlig who are part
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN REVERSING THE owners of a parcel of land known as Cad. 324-D, Lot 3275, situated at Mambangan,
ORDER OF DISMISSAL, CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT PRIVATE San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija;" (b) the portion belonging to private respondents, with an
RESPONDENTS DO NOT HAVE THE LEGAL PERSONALITY TO area of 2,250 square meters, was covered by a tax declarations in their names,
CONTEST THE FINAL AWARD MADE BY THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, occupied and possessed by their predecessors-in-interest since 1920 and
AND CIVIL COURTS ARE DEVOID OF JURISDICTION AND AUTHORITY continuously thereafter until the present; (c) their possession has been peaceful,
TO REVIEW OR CONTROL SUCH FINAL JUDGMENT. public, continuous, adverse and in the concept of an owner; (d) on or about 18
February 1974, defendant Macario Valerio, in order to deprive private respondents of
their rights over and ownership of the portion of the lot, committed perjury, for which
II he is now criminally charged in court, by causing the entire Lot 3275 to be registered
under Free Patent No. (III-2)001953 and the issuance of original certificate of Title No.
P-8265, both in the name of Marciano Nagaño, represented by Macario Valerio; (e) on
15

account of the fraud, deceit and misrepresentation committed by Macario Valerio, the title under the provisions of this
grant of the patent and issuance of the title were null and void and the indefeasibility of chapter.13
a title issued pursuant thereto one year after did not apply; (f) upon discovery, only
recently, of the issuance of the title in the name of the Heirs of Marciano Nagaño,
Under Section 48, a subject lot is, for all legal intents and purposes, segregated from
private respondents demanded from Macario Valerio the execution of the necessary
the public domain, because the beneficiary is "conclusively presumed to have
documents segregating the 2,250 square meter portion and transferring the property
performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a
to them, however, Macario refused without justifiable cause or reason; and (g) as a
certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter."
consequence of Macario's refusal, they suffered moral damages and were compelled
to incur expenses and secure the services of counsel. Private respondents then
prayed, inter alia, that Original Certificate of Title No. P-8265 be declared null and Consequently, merely on the basis of the allegations in the complaint, the lot in
void, or that the 2,250 square meter portion be segregated and the Register of Deeds question is apparently beyond the jurisdiction of the Director of the Bureau of Lands
ordered to issue a title over said portion in their names, and that petitioners be ordered and could not be the subject of a Free Patent. Hence, dismissal of private
to pay actual, moral and other damages, attorney's fees and litigation expenses. respondents' complaint was premature and trial on the merits should have been
conducted to thresh out evidentiary matters.
It is then clear from the allegations in the complaint that private respondents claim
ownership to the 2,250 square meter portion for having possessed it in the concept of It would have been entirely differently if the action were clearly for reversion, in which
an owner, openly, peacefully, publicly, continuously and adversely since 1920. This case, it would have to be instituted by the Solicitor General pursuant to Section 101 of
claim is an assertion that the lot is private land, or that even assuming it was part of C.A. No. 141, which provides:
the public domain, private respondents had already acquired imperfect title thereto
under Section 48(b) of C.A. No. 141, otherwise known as the Public Land Act, as
amended by R.A. No. 1942. This section provides: Sec. 101. All actions for the reversion to the Government of lands of the
public domain or improvements thereon shall be instituted by the Solicitor
General or the officer acting in his stead, in the proper courts, in the name of
Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands the [Republic] of the Philippines.
of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest
therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply
In light of the above, and at this time, prescription is unavailing against private
to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for
confirmation of their claims and issuance of a certificate of title therefor, respondent's action. It is settled that a Free Patent issued over private land is null and
under the Land Registration Act, to wit: void,14 and produces no legal affects whatsoever. Quod nullum est, nullum producit
effectum.15 Moreover, private respondent's claim of open, public, peaceful,
continuous and adverse possession of the 2,250 square meter portion since 1920,
xxx xxx xxx and its illegal inclusion in the Free Patent of petitioners and in their original certificate
of title, gave private respondents a cause of action for quieting of title which is
imprescriptible.16 The complaint of private respondents may thus likewise be
(b) Those who by themselves or
considered and action for quieting of title.
through their predecessors in
interest have been in open,
continuous, exclusive and The grounds then relied upon in petitioners' motion to dismiss are not indubitable and
notorious possession and cannot be impressed with merit. We are not, however, foreclosing the presentation of
occupation of agricultural lands of evidence during trial on the merits that the land in question is not private property and
the public domain, under a bona that private respondents are not entitled to the benefits of Section 48 of C.A. No. 141.
fide claim of acquisition of
ownership, for at least thirty years
immediately preceding the filing of WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit and the challenged
the application for confirmation of judgment of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED, but for the reasons stated above.
title except when prevented by was
or force majeure. These shall be Cost against petitioners.
conclusively presumed to have
performed all the conditions
essential to Government grant and SO ORDERED.
shall be entitled to a certificate of
16

Brother MARIANO "MIKE" Z. VELARDE, petitioner,


vs.
SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY, respondent.

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

A decision that does not conform to the form and substance required by the
Constitution and the law is void and deemed legally inexistent. To be valid, decisions
should comply with the form, the procedure and the substantive requirements laid out
in the Constitution, the Rules of Court and relevant circulars/orders of the Supreme
Court. For the guidance of the bench and the bar, the Court hereby discusses these
forms, procedures and requirements.

The Case

Before us is a Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the
June 12, 2003 Decision2 and July 29, 2003 Order3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Manila (Branch 49).4

The challenged Decision was the offshoot of a Petition for Declaratory Relief5 filed
before the RTC-Manila by herein Respondent Social Justice Society (SJS) against
herein Petitioner Mariano "Mike" Z. Velarde, together with His Eminence, Jaime
Cardinal Sin, Executive Minister Eraño Manalo, Brother Eddie Villanueva and Brother
Eliseo F. Soriano as co-respondents. The Petition prayed for the resolution of the
question "whether or not the act of a religious leader like any of herein respondents, in
endorsing the candidacy of a candidate for elective office or in urging or requiring the
members of his flock to vote for a specified candidate, is violative of the letter or spirit
of the constitutional provisions x x x."6

Alleging that the questioned Decision did not contain a statement of facts and a
dispositive portion, herein petitioner filed a Clarificatory Motion and Motion for
Reconsideration before the trial court. Soriano, his co-respondent, similarly filed a
separate Motion for Reconsideration. In response, the trial court issued the assailed
Order, which held as follows:

"x x x [T]his Court cannot reconsider, because what it was asked to do, was
only to clarify a Constitutional provision and to declare whether acts are
violative thereof. The Decision did not make a dispositive portion because a
dispositive portion is required only in coercive reliefs, where a redress from
G.R. No. 159357 April 28, 2004 wrong suffered and the benefit that the prevailing party wronged should get.
The step that these movants have to take, is direct appeal under Rule 45 of
the Rules of Court, for a conclusive interpretation of the Constitutional
provision to the Supreme Court."7
17

The Antecedent Proceedings This Court, in a Resolution13 dated September 2, 2003, required SJS and the Office of
the Solicitor General (OSG) to submit their respective comments. In the same
Resolution, the Court gave the other parties -- impleaded as respondents in the
On January 28, 2003, SJS filed a Petition for Declaratory Relief ("SJS Petition") before
original case below --the opportunity to comment, if they so desired.
the RTC-Manila against Velarde and his aforesaid co-respondents. SJS, a registered
political party, sought the interpretation of several constitutional provisions, 8
specifically on the separation of church and state; and a declaratory judgment on the On April 13, 2004, the Court en banc conducted an Oral Argument. 14
constitutionality of the acts of religious leaders endorsing a candidate for an elective
office, or urging or requiring the members of their flock to vote for a specified
The Issues
candidate.

In his Petition, Brother Mike Velarde submits the following issues for this Court’s
The subsequent proceedings were recounted in the challenged Decision in these
resolution:
words:

"1. Whether or not the Decision dated 12 June 2003 rendered by the court a
"x x x. Bro. Eddie Villanueva submitted, within the original period [to file an
quo was proper and valid;
Answer], a Motion to Dismiss. Subsequently, Executive Minister Eraño
Manalo and Bro. Mike Velarde, filed their Motions to Dismiss. While His
Eminence Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, filed a Comment and Bro. Eli Soriano, filed "2. Whether or not there exists justiceable controversy in herein
an Answer within the extended period and similarly prayed for the dismissal respondent’s Petition for declaratory relief;
of the Petition. All sought the dismissal of the Petition on the common
grounds that it does not state a cause of action and that there is no
justiciable controversy. They were ordered to submit a pleading by way of "3. Whether or not herein respondent has legal interest in filing the Petition
advisement, which was closely followed by another Order denying all the for declaratory relief;
Motions to Dismiss. Bro. Mike Velarde, Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Executive
Minister Eraño Manalo moved to reconsider the denial. His Eminence Jaime "4. Whether or not the constitutional question sought to be resolved by
Cardinal L. Sin, asked for extension to file memorandum. Only Bro. Eli herein respondent is ripe for judicial determination;
Soriano complied with the first Order by submitting his Memorandum. x x x.
"5. Whether or not there is adequate remedy other than the declaratory
"x x x the Court denied the Motions to Dismiss, and the Motions for relief; and,
Reconsideration filed by Bro. Mike Velarde, Bro. Eddie Villanueva and
Executive Minister Eraño Manalo, which raised no new arguments other
than those already considered in the motions to dismiss x x x."9 "6. Whether or not the court a quo has jurisdiction over the Petition for
declaratory relief of herein respondent."15

After narrating the above incidents, the trial court said that it had jurisdiction over the
Petition, because "in praying for a determination as to whether the actions imputed to During the Oral Argument, the issues were narrowed down and classified as follows:
the respondents are violative of Article II, Section 6 of the Fundamental Law, [the
Petition] has raised only a question of law."10 It then proceeded to a lengthy discussion "A. Procedural Issues
of the issue raised in the Petition – the separation of church and state – even tracing,
to some extent, the historical background of the principle. Through its discourse, the
court a quo opined at some point that the "[e]ndorsement of specific candidates in an "Did the Petition for Declaratory Relief raise a justiciable controversy? Did it
election to any public office is a clear violation of the separation clause." 11 state a cause of action? Did respondent have any legal standing to file the
Petition for Declaratory Relief?

After its essay on the legal issue, however, the trial court failed to include a dispositive
portion in its assailed Decision. Thus, Velarde and Soriano filed separate Motions for "B. Substantive Issues
Reconsideration which, as mentioned earlier, were denied by the lower court.
"1. Did the RTC Decision conform to the form and substance
Hence, this Petition for Review.12 required by the Constitution, the law and the Rules of Court?
18

"2. May religious leaders like herein petitioner, Bro. Mike Velarde, SJS Petition for Declaratory Relief fell short of this test. It miserably failed to allege an
be prohibited from endorsing candidates for public office? existing controversy or dispute between the petitioner and the named respondents
Corollarily, may they be banned from campaigning against said therein. Further, the Petition did not sufficiently state what specific legal right of the
candidates?" petitioner was violated by the respondents therein; and what particular act or acts of
the latter were in breach of its rights, the law or the Constitution.
The Court’s Ruling
As pointed out by Brother Eliseo F. Soriano in his Comment,19 what exactly has he
done that merited the attention of SJS? He confesses that he does not know the
The Petition of Brother Mike Velarde is meritorious.
answer, because the SJS Petition (as well as the assailed Decision of the RTC)
"yields nothing in this respect." His Eminence, Jaime Cardinal Sin, adds that, at the
Procedural Issues: time SJS filed its Petition on January 28, 2003, the election season had not even
started yet; and that, in any event, he has not been actively involved in partisan
politics.
Requisites of Petitions for Declaratory Relief

An initiatory complaint or petition filed with the trial court should contain "a plain,
Section 1 of Rule 63 of the Rules of Court, which deals with petitions for declaratory concise and direct statement of the ultimate facts on which the party pleading relies for
relief, provides in part:
his claim x x x."20 Yet, the SJS Petition stated no ultimate facts.

"Section 1. Who may file petition.- Any person interested under a deed, will, Indeed, SJS merely speculated or anticipated without factual moorings that, as
contract or other written instrument, whose rights are affected by a statute,
religious leaders, the petitioner and his co-respondents below had endorsed or
executive order or regulation, ordinance, or any other governmental threatened to endorse a candidate or candidates for elective offices; and that such
regulation may, before breach or violation thereof, bring an action in the actual or threatened endorsement "will enable [them] to elect men to public office who
appropriate Regional Trial Court to determine any question of construction
[would] in turn be forever beholden to their leaders, enabling them to control the
or validity arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties thereunder." government"[;]21 and "pos[ing] a clear and present danger of serious erosion of the
people’s faith in the electoral process[;] and reinforc[ing] their belief that religious
Based on the foregoing, an action for declaratory relief should be filed by a person leaders determine the ultimate result of elections,"22 which would then be violative of
interested under a deed, a will, a contract or other written instrument, and whose the separation clause.
rights are affected by a statute, an executive order, a regulation or an ordinance. The
purpose of the remedy is to interpret or to determine the validity of the written
Such premise is highly speculative and merely theoretical, to say the least. Clearly, it
instrument and to seek a judicial declaration of the parties’ rights or duties does not suffice to constitute a justiciable controversy. The Petition does not even
thereunder.16 The essential requisites of the action are as follows: (1) there is a allege any indication or manifest intent on the part of any of the respondents below to
justiciable controversy; (2) the controversy is between persons whose interests are champion an electoral candidate, or to urge their so-called flock to vote for, or not to
adverse; (3) the party seeking the relief has a legal interest in the controversy; and (4) vote for, a particular candidate. It is a time-honored rule that sheer speculation does
the issue is ripe for judicial determination.17 not give rise to an actionable right.

Justiciable Controversy Obviously, there is no factual allegation that SJS’ rights are being subjected to any
threatened, imminent and inevitable violation that should be prevented by the
Brother Mike Velarde contends that the SJS Petition failed to allege, much less declaratory relief sought. The judicial power and duty of the courts to settle actual
establish before the trial court, that there existed a justiciable controversy or an controversies involving rights that are legally demandable and enforceable23 cannot be
adverse legal interest between them; and that SJS had a legal right that was being exercised when there is no actual or threatened violation of a legal right.
violated or threatened to be violated by petitioner. On the contrary, Velarde alleges
that SJS premised its action on mere speculations, contingent events, and All that the 5-page SJS Petition prayed for was "that the question raised in paragraph
hypothetical issues that had not yet ripened into an actual controversy. Thus, its
9 hereof be resolved."24 In other words, it merely sought an opinion of the trial court on
Petition for Declaratory Relief must fail. whether the speculated acts of religious leaders endorsing elective candidates for
political offices violated the constitutional principle on the separation of church and
A justiciable controversy refers to an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or state. SJS did not ask for a declaration of its rights and duties; neither did it pray for
ripe for judicial determination, not one that is conjectural or merely anticipatory. 18 The
19

the stoppage of any threatened violation of its declared rights. Courts, however, are material to the issue and affected by the questioned act or instrument, as
proscribed from rendering an advisory opinion.25 distinguished from simple curiosity or incidental interest in the question raised. 34

Cause of Action To bolster its stance, SJS cites the Corpus Juris Secundum and submits that the
"[p]laintiff in a declaratory judgment action does not seek to enforce a claim against
[the] defendant, but seeks a judicial declaration of [the] rights of the parties for the
Respondent SJS asserts that in order to maintain a petition for declaratory relief, a
purpose of guiding [their] future conduct, and the essential distinction between a
cause of action need not be alleged or proven. Supposedly, for such petition to
‘declaratory judgment action’ and the usual ‘action’ is that no actual wrong need have
prosper, there need not be any violation of a right, breach of duty or actual wrong
been committed or loss have occurred in order to sustain the declaratory judgment
committed by one party against the other.
action, although there must be no uncertainty that the loss will occur or that the
asserted rights will be invaded."35
Petitioner, on the other hand, argues that the subject matter of an action for
declaratory relief should be a deed, a will, a contract (or other written instrument), a
SJS has, however, ignored the crucial point of its own reference – that there must be
statute, an executive order, a regulation or an ordinance. But the subject matter of the
no uncertainty that the loss will occur or that the asserted rights will be invaded.
SJS Petition is "the constitutionality of an act of a religious leader to endorse the
Precisely, as discussed earlier, it merely conjectures that herein petitioner (and his co-
candidacy of a candidate for elective office or to urge or require the members of the
respondents below) might actively participate in partisan politics, use "the awesome
flock to vote for a specified candidate."26 According to petitioner, this subject matter is
voting strength of its faithful flock [to] enable it to elect men to public office x x x,
"beyond the realm of an action for declaratory relief."27 Petitioner avers that in the
enabling [it] to control the government."36
absence of a valid subject matter, the Petition fails to state a cause of action and,
hence, should have been dismissed outright by the court a quo.
During the Oral Argument, though, Petitioner Velarde and his co-respondents below
all strongly asserted that they had not in any way engaged or intended to participate in
A cause of action is an act or an omission of one party in violation of the legal right or
partisan politics. They all firmly assured this Court that they had not done anything to
rights of another, causing injury to the latter.28 Its essential elements are the following:
trigger the issue raised and to entitle SJS to the relief sought.
(1) a right in favor of the plaintiff; (2) an obligation on the part of the named defendant
to respect or not to violate such right; and (3) such defendant’s act or omission that is
violative of the right of the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the Indeed, the Court finds in the Petition for Declaratory Relief no single allegation of fact
former to the latter.29 upon which SJS could base a right of relief from the named respondents. In any event,
even granting that it sufficiently asserted a legal right it sought to protect, there was
nevertheless no certainty that such right would be invaded by the said respondents.
The failure of a complaint to state a cause of action is a ground for its outright
Not even the alleged proximity of the elections to the time the Petition was filed below
dismissal.30 However, in special civil actions for declaratory relief, the concept of a
(January 28, 2003) would have provided the certainty that it had a legal right that
cause of action under ordinary civil actions does not strictly apply. The reason for this
would be jeopardized or violated by any of those respondents.
exception is that an action for declaratory relief presupposes that there has been no
actual breach of the instruments involved or of rights arising thereunder.31
Nevertheless, a breach or violation should be impending, imminent or at least Legal Standing
threatened.
Legal standing or locus standi has been defined as a personal and substantial interest
A perusal of the Petition filed by SJS before the RTC discloses no explicit allegation in the case, such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of
that the former had any legal right in its favor that it sought to protect. We can only the challenged act.37 Interest means a material interest in issue that is affected by the
infer the interest, supposedly in its favor, from its bare allegation that it "has thousands questioned act or instrument, as distinguished from a mere incidental interest in the
of members who are citizens-taxpayers-registered voters and who are keenly question involved.38
interested in a judicial clarification of the constitutionality of the partisan participation of
religious leaders in Philippine politics and in the process to insure adherence to the
Petitioner alleges that "[i]n seeking declaratory relief as to the constitutionality of an
Constitution by everyone x x x."32
act of a religious leader to endorse, or require the members of the religious flock to
vote for a specific candidate, herein Respondent SJS has no legal interest in the
Such general averment does not, however, suffice to constitute a legal right or controversy";39 it has failed to establish how the resolution of the proffered question
interest. Not only is the presumed interest not personal in character; it is likewise too would benefit or injure it.
vague, highly speculative and uncertain.33 The Rules require that the interest must be
20

Parties bringing suits challenging the constitutionality of a law, an act or a statute must The Court, thus, called for Oral Argument to determine with certainty whether it could
show "not only that the law [or act] is invalid, but also that [they have] sustained or resolve the constitutional issue despite the barren allegations in the SJS Petition as
[are] in immediate or imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its well as the abbreviated proceedings in the court below. Much to its chagrin, however,
enforcement, and not merely that [they] suffer thereby in some indefinite way." 40 They counsels for the parties -- particularly for Respondent SJS -- made no satisfactory
must demonstrate that they have been, or are about to be, denied some right or allegations or clarifications that would supply the deficiencies hereinabove discussed.
privilege to which they are lawfully entitled, or that they are about to be subjected to Hence, even if the Court would exempt this case from the stringent locus standi
some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of. 41 requirement, such heroic effort would be futile because the transcendental issue
cannot be resolved anyway.
First, parties suing as taxpayers must specifically prove that they have sufficient
interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation.42 A Proper Proceedings Before the Trial Court
taxpayer’s action may be properly brought only when there is an exercise by Congress
of its taxing or spending power.43 In the present case, there is no allegation, whether
To prevent a repetition of this waste of precious judicial time and effort, and for the
express or implied, that taxpayers’ money is being illegally disbursed.
guidance of the bench and the bar, the Court reiterates the elementary procedure49
that must be followed by trial courts in the conduct of civil cases.50
Second, there was no showing in the Petition for Declaratory Relief that SJS as a
political party or its members as registered voters would be adversely affected by the
Prefatorily, the trial court may -- motu proprio or upon motion of the defendant --
alleged acts of the respondents below, if the question at issue was not resolved. There
dismiss a complaint51 (or petition, in a special civil action) that does not allege the
was no allegation that SJS had suffered or would be deprived of votes due to the acts
plaintiff’s (or petitioner’s) cause or causes of action. 52 A complaint or petition should
imputed to the said respondents. Neither did it allege that any of its members would
contain "a plain, concise and direct statement of the ultimate facts on which the party
be denied the right of suffrage or the privilege to be voted for a public office they are
pleading relies for his claim or defense."53 It should likewise clearly specify the relief
seeking.
sought.54

Finally, the allegedly keen interest of its "thousands of members who are citizens-
Upon the filing of the complaint/petition and the payment of the requisite legal fees,
taxpayers-registered voters" is too general44 and beyond the contemplation of the
the clerk of court shall forthwith issue the corresponding summons to the defendants
standards set by our jurisprudence. Not only is the presumed interest impersonal in
or the respondents, with a directive that the defendant answer55 within 15 days, unless
character; it is likewise too vague, highly speculative and uncertain to satisfy the
a different period is fixed by the court.56 The summons shall also contain a notice that
requirement of standing.45
if such answer is not filed, the plaintiffs/petitioners shall take a judgment by default and
may be granted the relief applied for.57 The court, however, may -- upon such terms as
Transcendental Importance may be just -- allow an answer to be filed after the time fixed by the Rules.58

In any event, SJS urges the Court to take cognizance of the Petition, even sans legal If the answer sets forth a counterclaim or cross-claim, it must be answered within ten
standing, considering that "the issues raised are of paramount public interest." (10) days from service.59 A reply may be filed within ten (10) days from service of the
pleading responded to.60
In not a few cases, the Court has liberalized the locus standi requirement when a
petition raises an issue of transcendental significance or paramount importance to the When an answer fails to tender an issue or admits the material allegations of the
people.46 Recently, after holding that the IBP had no locus standi to bring the suit, the adverse party’s pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on
Court in IBP v. Zamora47 nevertheless entertained the Petition therein. It noted that such pleading (except in actions for declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage or
"the IBP has advanced constitutional issues which deserve the attention of this Court for legal separation).61 Meanwhile, a party seeking to recover upon a claim, a
in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents."48 counterclaim or crossclaim -- or to obtain a declaratory relief -- may, at any time after
the answer thereto has been served, move for a summary judgment in its favor. 62
Similarly, a party against whom a claim, a counterclaim or crossclaim is asserted -- or
Similarly in the instant case, the Court deemed the constitutional issue raised in the
a declaratory relief sought -- may, at any time, move for a summary judgment in its
SJS Petition to be of paramount interest to the Filipino people. The issue did not
favor.63 After the motion is heard, the judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if
simply concern a delineation of the separation between church and state, but ran
there is a showing that, except as to the amount of damages, there is no genuine
smack into the governance of our country. The issue was both transcendental in
issue as to any material fact; and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a
importance and novel in nature, since it had never been decided before.
matter of law.64
21

Within the time for -- but before -- filing the answer to the complaint or petition, the Based on these elementary guidelines, let us examine the proceedings before the trial
defendant may file a motion to dismiss based on any of the grounds stated in Section court in the instant case.
1 of Rule 16 of the Rules of Court. During the hearing of the motion, the parties shall
submit their arguments on the questions of law, and their evidence on the questions of
First, with respect to the initiatory pleading of the SJS. Even a cursory perusal of the
fact.65 After the hearing, the court may dismiss the action or claim, deny the motion, or
Petition immediately reveals its gross inadequacy. It contained no statement of
order the amendment of the pleadings. It shall not defer the resolution of the motion
ultimate facts upon which the petitioner relied for its claim. Furthermore, it did not
for the reason that the ground relied upon is not indubitable. In every case, the
specify the relief it sought from the court, but merely asked it to answer a hypothetical
resolution shall state clearly and distinctly the reasons therefor. 66
question.

If the motion is denied, the movant may file an answer within the balance of the period
Relief, as contemplated in a legal action, refers to a specific coercive measure prayed
originally prescribed to file an answer, but not less than five (5) days in any event,
for as a result of a violation of the rights of a plaintiff or a petitioner.80 As already
computed from the receipt of the notice of the denial. If the pleading is ordered to be
discussed earlier, the Petition before the trial court had no allegations of fact 81 or of
amended, the defendant shall file an answer within fifteen (15) days, counted from the
any specific violation of the petitioner’s rights, which the respondents had a duty to
service of the amended pleading, unless the court provides a longer period.67
respect. Such deficiency amounted to a failure to state a cause of action; hence, no
coercive relief could be sought and adjudicated. The Petition evidently lacked
After the last pleading has been served and filed, the case shall be set for pretrial, 68 substantive requirements and, we repeat, should have been dismissed at the outset.
which is a mandatory proceeding.69 A plaintiff’s/ petitioner’s (or its duly authorized
representative’s) non-appearance at the pretrial, if without valid cause, shall result in
Second, with respect to the trial court proceedings. Within the period set to file their
the dismissal of the action with prejudice, unless the court orders otherwise. A similar
respective answers to the SJS Petition, Velarde, Villanueva and Manalo filed Motions
failure on the part of the defendant shall be a cause for allowing the plaintiff/petitioner
to Dismiss; Cardinal Sin, a Comment; and Soriano, within a priorly granted extended
to present evidence ex parte, and the court to render judgment on the basis thereof.70
period, an Answer in which he likewise prayed for the dismissal of the Petition.82 SJS
filed a Rejoinder to the Motion of Velarde, who subsequently filed a Sur-Rejoinder.
The parties are required to file their pretrial briefs; failure to do so shall have the same Supposedly, there were "several scheduled settings, in which the "[c]ourt was
effect as failure to appear at the pretrial.71 Upon the termination thereof, the court shall apprised of the respective positions of the parties."83 The nature of such settings --
issue an order reciting in detail the matters taken up at the conference; the action whether pretrial or trial hearings -- was not disclosed in the records. Before ruling on
taken on them, the amendments allowed to the pleadings; and the agreements or the Motions to Dismiss, the trial court issued an Order84 dated May 8, 2003, directing
admissions, if any, made by the parties regarding any of the matters considered. 72 The the parties to submit their memoranda. Issued shortly thereafter was another Order85
parties may further avail themselves of any of the modes of discovery,73 if they so dated May 14, 2003, denying all the Motions to Dismiss.
wish.
In the latter Order, the trial court perfunctorily ruled:
Thereafter, the case shall be set for trial,74 in which the parties shall adduce their
respective evidence in support of their claims and/or defenses. By their written
"The Court now resolves to deny the Motions to Dismiss, and after all the
consent or upon the application of either party, or on its own motion, the court may
memoranda are submitted, then, the case shall be deemed as submitted for
also order any or all of the issues to be referred to a commissioner, who is to be
resolution."86
appointed by it or to be agreed upon by the parties.75 The trial or hearing before the
commissioner shall proceed in all respects as it would if held before the court. 76
Apparently, contrary to the requirement of Section 2 of Rule 16 of the Rules of Court,
the Motions were not heard. Worse, the Order purportedly resolving the Motions to
Upon the completion of such proceedings, the commissioner shall file with the court a
Dismiss did not state any reason at all for their denial, in contravention of Section 3 of
written report on the matters referred by the parties.77 The report shall be set for
the said Rule 16. There was not even any statement of the grounds relied upon by the
hearing, after which the court shall issue an order adopting, modifying or rejecting it in
Motions; much less, of the legal findings and conclusions of the trial court.
whole or in part; or recommitting it with instructions; or requiring the parties to present
further evidence before the commissioner or the court. 78
Thus, Velarde, Villanueva and Manalo moved for reconsideration. Pending the
resolution of these Motions for Reconsideration, Villanueva filed a Motion to suspend
Finally, a judgment or final order determining the merits of the case shall be rendered.
the filing of the parties’ memoranda. But instead of separately resolving the pending
The decision shall be in writing, personally and directly prepared by the judge, stating
Motions fairly and squarely, the trial court again transgressed the Rules of Court when
clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based, signed by the issuing
it immediately proceeded to issue its Decision, even before tackling the issues raised
magistrate, and filed with the clerk of court.79
in those Motions.
22

Furthermore, the RTC issued its "Decision" without allowing the parties to file their "Sec. 2. Form and contents of judgments. -- The judgment must be written
answers. For this reason, there was no joinder of the issues. If only it had allowed the in the official language, personally and directly prepared by the judge and
filing of those answers, the trial court would have known, as the Oral Argument signed by him and shall contain clearly and distinctly a statement of the
revealed, that the petitioner and his co-respondents below had not committed or facts proved or admitted by the accused and the law upon which the
threatened to commit the act attributed to them (endorsing candidates) -- the act that judgment is based.
was supposedly the factual basis of the suit.
"x x x xxx x x x."
Parenthetically, the court a quo further failed to give a notice of the Petition to the
OSG, which was entitled to be heard upon questions involving the constitutionality or
Pursuant to the Constitution, this Court also issued on January 28, 1988,
validity of statutes and other measures.87
Administrative Circular No. 1, prompting all judges "to make complete findings of facts
in their decisions, and scrutinize closely the legal aspects of the case in the light of the
Moreover, as will be discussed in more detail, the questioned Decision of the trial evidence presented. They should avoid the tendency to generalize and form
court was utterly wanting in the requirements prescribed by the Constitution and the conclusions without detailing the facts from which such conclusions are deduced."
Rules of Court.
In many cases,89 this Court has time and time again reminded "magistrates to heed
All in all, during the loosely abbreviated proceedings of the case, the trial court indeed the demand of Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution." The Court, through Chief
acted with inexplicable haste, with total ignorance of the law -- or, worse, in cavalier Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. in Yao v. Court of Appeals,90 discussed at length the
disregard of the rules of procedure -- and with grave abuse of discretion. implications of this provision and strongly exhorted thus:

Contrary to the contentions of the trial judge and of SJS, proceedings for declaratory "Faithful adherence to the requirements of Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution is
relief must still follow the process described above -- the petition must state a cause of indisputably a paramount component of due process and fair play. It is likewise
action; the proceedings must undergo the procedure outlined in the Rules of Court; demanded by the due process clause of the Constitution. The parties to a litigation
and the decision must adhere to constitutional and legal requirements. should be informed of how it was decided, with an explanation of the factual and legal
reasons that led to the conclusions of the court. The court cannot simply say that
judgment is rendered in favor of X and against Y and just leave it at that without any
First Substantive Issue:
justification whatsoever for its action. The losing party is entitled to know why he lost,
so he may appeal to the higher court, if permitted, should he believe that the decision
Fundamental Requirements of a Decision should be reversed. A decision that does not clearly and distinctly state the facts and
the law on which it is based leaves the parties in the dark as to how it was reached
and is precisely prejudicial to the losing party, who is unable to pinpoint the possible
The Constitution commands that "[n]o decision shall be rendered by any court without errors of the court for review by a higher tribunal. More than that, the requirement is an
expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. No assurance to the parties that, in reaching judgment, the judge did so through the
petition for review or motion for reconsideration of a decision of the court shall be processes of legal reasoning. It is, thus, a safeguard against the impetuosity of the
refused due course or denied without stating the basis therefor." 88 judge, preventing him from deciding ipse dixit. Vouchsafed neither the sword nor the
purse by the Constitution but nonetheless vested with the sovereign prerogative of
Consistent with this constitutional mandate, Section 1 of Rule 36 of the Rules on Civil passing judgment on the life, liberty or property of his fellowmen, the judge must
Procedure similarly provides: ultimately depend on the power of reason for sustained public confidence in the
justness of his decision."
"Sec. 1. Rendition of judgments and final orders. – A judgment or final order
determining the merits of the case shall be in writing personally and directly In People v. Bugarin,91 the Court also explained:
prepared by the judge, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on
which it is based, signed by him and filed with the clerk of court." "The requirement that the decisions of courts must be in writing and that
they must set forth clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which they
In the same vein, Section 2 of Rule 120 of the Rules of Court on Criminal Procedure are based serves many functions. It is intended, among other things, to
reads as follows: inform the parties of the reason or reasons for the decision so that if any of
them appeals, he can point out to the appellate court the finding of facts or
the rulings on points of law with which he disagrees. More than that, the
23

requirement is an assurance to the parties that, in reaching judgment, the The assailed Decision in the present case leaves us in the dark as to its final
judge did so through the processes of legal reasoning. x x x." resolution of the Petition. To recall, the original Petition was for declaratory relief. So,
what relief did the trial court grant or deny? What rights of the parties did it
conclusively declare? Its final statement says, "SO ORDERED." But what exactly did
Indeed, elementary due process demands that the parties to a litigation be given
the court order? It had the temerity to label its issuance a "Decision," when nothing
information on how the case was decided, as well as an explanation of the factual and
was in fact decided.
legal reasons that led to the conclusions of the court. 92

Respondent SJS insists that the dispositive portion can be found in the body of the
In Madrid v. Court of Appeals,93 this Court had instructed magistrates to exert effort to
assailed Decision. It claims that the issue is disposed of and the Petition finally
ensure that their decisions would present a comprehensive analysis or account of the
resolved by the statement of the trial court found on page 10 of its 14-page Decision,
factual and legal findings that would substantially address the issues raised by the
which reads: "Endorsement of specific candidates in an election to any public office is
parties.
a clear violation of the separation clause."95

In the present case, it is starkly obvious that the assailed Decision contains no
We cannot agree.
statement of facts -- much less an assessment or analysis thereof -- or of the court’s
findings as to the probable facts. The assailed Decision begins with a statement of the
nature of the action and the question or issue presented. Then follows a brief In Magdalena Estate, Inc. v. Caluag,96 the obligation of the party imposed by the Court
explanation of the constitutional provisions involved, and what the Petition sought to was allegedly contained in the text of the original Decision. The Court, however, held:
achieve. Thereafter, the ensuing procedural incidents before the trial court are
tracked. The Decision proceeds to a full-length opinion on the nature and the extent of
"x x x The quoted finding of the lower court cannot supply deficiencies in the
the separation of church and state. Without expressly stating the final conclusion she
dispositive portion. It is a mere opinion of the court and the rule is settled
has reached or specifying the relief granted or denied, the trial judge ends her
that where there is a conflict between the dispositive part and the opinion,
"Decision" with the clause "SO ORDERED."
the former must prevail over the latter on the theory that the dispositive
portion is the final order while the opinion is merely a statement ordering
What were the antecedents that necessitated the filing of the Petition? What exactly nothing." (Italics in the original)
were the distinct facts that gave rise to the question sought to be resolved by SJS?
More important, what were the factual findings and analysis on which the trial court
Thus, the dispositive portion cannot be deemed to be the statement quoted by SJS
based its legal findings and conclusions? None were stated or implied. Indeed, the
and embedded in the last paragraph of page 10 of the assailed 14-page Decision. If at
RTC’s Decision cannot be upheld for its failure to express clearly and distinctly the
all, that statement is merely an answer to a hypothetical legal question and just a part
facts on which it was based. Thus, the trial court clearly transgressed the
of the opinion of the trial court. It does not conclusively declare the rights (or
constitutional directive.
obligations) of the parties to the Petition. Neither does it grant any -- much less, the
proper -- relief under the circumstances, as required of a dispositive portion.
The significance of factual findings lies in the value of the decision as a precedent.
How can it be so if one cannot apply the ruling to similar circumstances, simply
Failure to comply with the constitutional injunction is a grave abuse of discretion
because such circumstances are unknown? Otherwise stated, how will the ruling be
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Decisions or orders issued in careless
applied in the future, if there is no point of factual comparison?
disregard of the constitutional mandate are a patent nullity and must be struck down
as void.97
Moreover, the court a quo did not include a resolutory or dispositive portion in its so-
called Decision. The importance of such portion was explained in the early case
Parts of a Decision
Manalang v. Tuason de Rickards,94 from which we quote:

In general, the essential parts of a good decision consist of the following: (1)
"The resolution of the Court on a given issue as embodied in the dispositive
statement of the case; (2) statement of facts; (3) issues or assignment of errors; (4)
part of the decision or order is the investitive or controlling factor that
court ruling, in which each issue is, as a rule, separately considered and resolved;
determines and settles the rights of the parties and the questions presented
and, finally, (5) dispositive portion. The ponente may also opt to include an
therein, notwithstanding the existence of statements or declaration in the
introduction or a prologue as well as an epilogue, especially in cases in which
body of said order that may be confusing."
controversial or novel issues are involved.98
24

An introduction may consist of a concise but comprehensive statement of the principal 2. Statement of Facts
factual or legal issue/s of the case. In some cases -- particularly those concerning
public interest; or involving complicated commercial, scientific, technical or otherwise
There are different ways of relating the facts of the case. First, under the objective or
rare subject matters -- a longer introduction or prologue may serve to acquaint readers
reportorial method, the judge summarizes -- without comment -- the testimony of each
with the specific nature of the controversy and the issues involved. An epilogue may
witness and the contents of each exhibit. Second, under the synthesis method, the
be a summation of the important principles applied to the resolution of the issues of
factual theory of the plaintiff or prosecution and then that of the defendant or defense
paramount public interest or significance. It may also lay down an enduring philosophy
is summarized according to the judge’s best light. Third, in the subjective method, the
of law or guiding principle.
version of the facts accepted by the judge is simply narrated without explaining what
the parties’ versions are. Finally, through a combination of objective and subjective
Let us now, again for the guidance of the bench and the bar, discuss the essential means, the testimony of each witness is reported and the judge then formulates his or
parts of a good decision. her own version of the facts.

1. Statement of the Case In criminal cases, it is better to present both the version of the prosecution and that of
the defense, in the interest of fairness and due process. A detailed evaluation of the
contentions of the parties must follow. The resolution of most criminal cases, unlike
The Statement of the Case consists of a legal definition of the nature of the action. At
civil and other cases, depends to a large extent on the factual issues and the
the first instance, this part states whether the action is a civil case for collection,
appreciation of the evidence. The plausibility or the implausibility of each version can
ejectment, quieting of title, foreclosure of mortgage, and so on; or, if it is a criminal
sometimes be initially drawn from a reading of the facts. Thereafter, the bases of the
case, this part describes the specific charge -- quoted usually from the accusatory
court in arriving at its findings and conclusions should be explained.
portion of the information -- and the plea of the accused. Also mentioned here are
whether the case is being decided on appeal or on a petition for certiorari, the court of
origin, the case number in the trial court, and the dispositive portion of the assailed On appeal, the fact that the assailed decision of the lower court fully, intelligently and
decision. correctly resolved all factual and legal issues involved may partly explain why the
reviewing court finds no reason to reverse the findings and conclusions of the former.
Conversely, the lower court’s patent misappreciation of the facts or misapplication of
In a criminal case, the verbatim reproduction of the criminal information serves as a
the law would aid in a better understanding of why its ruling is reversed or modified.
guide in determining the nature and the gravity of the offense for which the accused
may be found culpable. As a rule, the accused cannot be convicted of a crime different
from or graver than that charged. In appealed civil cases, the opposing sets of facts no longer need to be presented.
Issues for resolution usually involve questions of law, grave abuse of discretion, or
want of jurisdiction; hence, the facts of the case are often undisputed by the parties.
Also, quoting verbatim the text of the information is especially important when there is
With few exceptions, factual issues are not entertained in non-criminal cases.
a question on the sufficiency of the charge, or on whether qualifying and modifying
Consequently, the narration of facts by the lower court, if exhaustive and clear, may
circumstances have been adequately alleged therein.
be reproduced; otherwise, the material factual antecedents should be restated in the
words of the reviewing magistrate.
To ensure that due process is accorded, it is important to give a short description of
the proceedings regarding the plea of the accused. Absence of an arraignment, or a
In addition, the reasoning of the lower court or body whose decision is under review
serious irregularity therein, may render the judgment void, and further consideration by
should be laid out, in order that the parties may clearly understand why the lower court
the appellate court would be futile. In some instances, especially in appealed cases, it
ruled in a certain way, and why the reviewing court either finds no reason to reverse it
would also be useful to mention the fact of the appellants’ detention, in order to
or concludes otherwise.
dispose of the preliminary query -- whether or not they have abandoned their appeal
by absconding or jumping bail.
3. Issues or Assignment of Errors
Mentioning the court of origin and the case number originally assigned helps in
facilitating the consolidation of the records of the case in both the trial and the Both factual and legal issues should be stated. On appeal, the assignment of errors,
appellate courts, after entry of final judgment. as mentioned in the appellant’s brief, may be reproduced in toto and tackled seriatim,
so as to avoid motions for reconsideration of the final decision on the ground that the
court failed to consider all assigned errors that could affect the outcome of the case.
Finally, the reproduction of the decretal portion of the assailed decision informs the
But when the appellant presents repetitive issues or when the assigned errors do not
reader of how the appealed case was decided by the court a quo.
strike at the main issue, these may be restated in clearer and more coherent terms.
25

Though not specifically questioned by the parties, additional issues may also be Religious Leaders’ Endorsement
included, if deemed important for substantial justice to be rendered. Note that
appealed criminal cases are given de novo review, in contrast to noncriminal cases in
of Candidates for Public Office
which the reviewing court is generally limited to issues specifically raised in the
appeal. The few exceptions are errors of jurisdiction; questions not raised but
necessary in arriving at a just decision on the case; or unassigned errors that are The basic question posed in the SJS Petition -- WHETHER ENDORSEMENTS OF
closely related to those properly assigned, or upon which depends the determination CANDIDACIES BY RELIGIOUS LEADERS IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL -- undoubtedly
of the question properly raised. deserves serious consideration. As stated earlier, the Court deems this constitutional
issue to be of paramount interest to the Filipino citizenry, for it concerns the
governance of our country and its people. Thus, despite the obvious procedural
4. The Court’s Ruling
transgressions by both SJS and the trial court, this Court still called for Oral Argument,
so as not to leave any doubt that there might be room to entertain and dispose of the
This part contains a full discussion of the specific errors or issues raised in the SJS Petition on the merits.
complaint, petition or appeal, as the case may be; as well as of other issues the court
deems essential to a just disposition of the case. Where there are several issues,
Counsel for SJS has utterly failed, however, to convince the Court that there are
each one of them should be separately addressed, as much as practicable. The
enough factual and legal bases to resolve the paramount issue. On the other hand,
respective contentions of the parties should also be mentioned here. When procedural
the Office of the Solicitor General has sided with petitioner insofar as there are no
questions are raised in addition to substantive ones, it is better to resolve the former
facts supporting the SJS Petition and the assailed Decision.
preliminarily.

We reiterate that the said Petition failed to state directly the ultimate facts that it relied
5. The Disposition or Dispositive Portion
upon for its claim. During the Oral Argument, counsel for SJS candidly admitted that
there were no factual allegations in its Petition for Declaratory Relief. Neither were
In a criminal case, the disposition should include a finding of innocence or guilt, the there factual findings in the assailed Decision. At best, SJS merely asked the trial
specific crime committed, the penalty imposed, the participation of the accused, the court to answer a hypothetical question. In effect, it merely sought an advisory opinion,
modifying circumstances if any, and the civil liability and costs. In case an acquittal is the rendition of which was beyond the court’s constitutional mandate and jurisdiction. 99
decreed, the court must order the immediate release of the accused, if detained,
(unless they are being held for another cause) and order the director of the Bureau of
Indeed, the assailed Decision was rendered in clear violation of the Constitution,
Corrections (or wherever the accused is detained) to report, within a maximum of ten
because it made no findings of facts and final disposition. Hence, it is void and
(10) days from notice, the exact date when the accused were set free.
deemed legally inexistent. Consequently, there is nothing for this Court to review,
affirm, reverse or even just modify.
In a civil case as well as in a special civil action, the disposition should state whether
the complaint or petition is granted or denied, the specific relief granted, and the costs.
Regrettably, it is not legally possible for the Court to take up, on the merits, the
The following test of completeness may be applied. First, the parties should know their
paramount question involving a constitutional principle. It is a time-honored rule that
rights and obligations. Second, they should know how to execute the decision under
"the constitutionality of a statute [or act] will be passed upon only if, and to the extent
alternative contingencies. Third, there should be no need for further proceedings to
that, it is directly and necessarily involved in a justiciable controversy and is essential
dispose of the issues. Fourth, the case should be terminated by according the proper
to the protection of the rights of the parties concerned."100
relief. The "proper relief" usually depends upon what the parties seek in their
pleadings. It may declare their rights and duties, command the performance of positive
prestations, or order them to abstain from specific acts. The disposition must also WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review of Brother Mike Velarde is GRANTED. The
adjudicate costs. assailed June 12, 2003 Decision and July 29, 2003 Order of the Regional Trial Court
of Manila (Branch 49) are hereby DECLARED NULL AND VOID and thus SET
ASIDE. The SJS Petition for Declaratory Relief is DISMISSED for failure to state a
The foregoing parts need not always be discussed in sequence. But they should all be
cause of action.
present and plainly identifiable in the decision. Depending on the writer’s character,
genre and style, the language should be fresh and free-flowing, not necessarily
stereotyped or in a fixed form; much less highfalutin, hackneyed and pretentious. At all Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Court Administrator to
times, however, the decision must be clear, concise, complete and correct. evaluate and recommend whether the trial judge may, after observing due process, be
held administratively liable for rendering a decision violative of the Constitution, the
Rules of Court and relevant circulars of this Court. No costs. SO ORDERED.
Second Substantive Issue:
26

Ventura County Humane Society v. Holloway

Annotate this Case


[Civ. No. 31873.

Court of Appeals of California, First Appellate District, Division Two.

July 23, 1974.]

VENTURA COUNTY HUMANE SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY


TO CHILDREN AND ANIMALS, INC., Plaintiff and Appellant, v. WILLIAM L.
HOLLOWAY et al., Defendants and Respondents

(Opinion by Kane, J., with Taylor, P. J., and Rouse, J., concurring.) [40 Cal. App. 3d
898]

COUNSEL

Thomas McGinn Smith, James P. Sullivan, Jr., and Ropers, Majeski, Kohn, Bentley &
Wagner and John M. Rubens for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Evelle J. Younger, Attorney General, Anthony C. Joseph, Assistant Attorney General,


Lawrence R. Tapper and Joanne Condas, Deputy Attorneys General, as Amici Curiae
on behalf of Plaintiff and Appellant.

Morrison, Foerster, Holloway, Clinton & Clark, Girvan Peck, Sedgwick, Detert, Moran
& Arnold and Scott Conley for Defendants and Respondents.

OPINION

KANE, J.

Plaintiffs appeal from a judgment of dismissal entered upon an order sustaining


respondents' demurrer to the second amended complaint [40 Cal. App. 3d 900]
without leave to amend. The relevant facts as appear in the second amended
complaint and the record at hand may be summarized as follows:

In October 1967, George Whittel ("Whittel") retained respondents-law firm to prepare


his last will and testament. A will bearing the date of October 5, 1967, was thereafter
drawn by respondents. Whittel died on April 17, 1969, and his will was admitted to
probate on May 15, 1969. The decedent's estate, appraised at approximately
$40,000,000, was largely bequeathed to various charities. The legal dispute in the
probate court centered around Paragraph Eighth of the will which reads as follows:
27

"Eighth: All of the residue of my estate I give, devise and bequeath to the three From the decision of the probate court SFSPCA filed a notice of appeal. The matter,
organizations named below. I direct that the three named organizations (or their however, was settled by a court order which approved the agreement entered into
respective affiliates) each receive at least 25% of the total; and with this limitation I between SFSPCA and the executors of the estate by the terms of which the appeal
give to my executors the authority to choose the exact allocation of the remaining 25% was dismissed in consideration of payment of $700,000 to SFSPCA.
among said organizations.
In this class action it is alleged that the drafting of the will in ambiguous terms
"It is my desire the funds be used to relieve pain and suffering among animal, bird and constituted both breach of contract and negligence, as a result of which appellants
fish life and to preserve, improve and perpetuate animal, bird and fish life and my were damaged in the following particulars:
executors should disburse funds in such manner as, in their judgment, to best achieve
these aims.
(a) They had to hire legal counsel and participate in lengthy legal proceedings at great
expense to them in order to oppose the exclusive claims of SFSPCA and others and
"I further instruct my executors to require the organizations receiving these funds to to obtain a decree interpreting the will of the decedent and determining their interest in
devote some or all of the funds paid over to them to the erection and maintenance of the estate;
buildings or other permanent structures to be used pursuant to the desires
enumerated above, said structures to bear my name.
(b) They have not received any part whatsoever of the funds to which they are entitled
and the resultant delay has caused and will continue to cause further damages and
"The organizations so receiving funds must be organizations which qualify under the deprivation of benefits;
provisions of Section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. If such section is
amended, revised or superseded, the organizations must continue to qualify under the
(c) The exclusive claim of SFSPCA resulted in a settlement of $700,000 and
section as amended or revised or such section or sections as might supersede it.
increased the costs of administration of the estate causing direct and indirect losses to
appellants.
"The organizations are:
Respondents demurred to both the original complaint and the first amended complaint
"(1) Defenders of Wildlife, Washington, D.C. which demurrers were sustained with leave to amend. Finally, in an order dated March
29, 1972, the trial court sustained respondents' demurrer to the second amended
complaint without leave to amend. Relying on its earlier ruling that there must be a
"(2) Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Local or National).
proximity between the attorney and his acts and the beneficiary and his loss, the trial
court pointed out that an attorney who is given the name of a beneficiary by [40 Cal.
"(3) The National Audubon Society, Inc., Washington, D.C., or any affiliated chapter, App. 3d 902] a client is under no duty to investigate the named beneficiary to
branch, etc. determine whether it exists or whether the classification is nebulous or confusing. As a
consequence, the trial court held that appellants' second amended complaint did not
state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action.
"If any said organization shall not so qualify under the Internal Revenue Code, its
share shall proportionately increase the shares of the qualifying organizations." [40
Cal. App. 3d 901] Initially, it must be pointed out that, although the second amended complaint purports
to state a cause of action for both breach of contract and negligence, the gist of both
causes of action is respondents' alleged malpractice in drafting the will in ambiguous
In the probate court the fundamental issue revolved around the definition of "Society terms. [1] The elements of a cause of action for professional negligence are, of
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Local or National)" which, under the will, was course, well defined. These ingredients are: (1) the duty of the professional to use
to receive 25 percent of the residuary estate. While numerous humane societies filed such skill, prudence and diligence as other members of his profession commonly
nonexclusive claims to the portion of the estate disposed of by Paragraph Eighth, the
possess and exercise; (2) breach of that duty; (3) a proximate causal connection
San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (hereinafter SFSPCA) between the negligent conduct and the resulting injury; and (4) actual loss or damage
took the position that it alone was entitled to one-fourth of the estate. The exclusive resulting from the professional negligence (Budd v. Nixen (1971) 6 Cal. 3d 195, 200
claim raised by SFSPCA necessitated extensive hearings and evidence. After 13 days
[98 Cal. Rptr. 849, 491 P.2d 433]; Chavez v. Carter (1967) 256 Cal. App. 2d 577, 579
of trial, the probate court rejected the exclusive claim of SFSPCA, holding that the [64 Cal. Rptr. 350]; Ishmael v. Millington (1966) 241 Cal. App. 2d 520, 523 [50 Cal.
testator intended a gift to the local and national humane societies as a group, and, by Rptr. 592]; Modica v. Crist (1954) 129 Cal. App. 2d 144, 146 [276 P.2d 614]). When
its decree interpreting the will, directed the executors to select one or more charitable
these elements coexist, they constitute actionable negligence. On the other hand,
organizations which actively perform the functions of societies for the prevention of absence of, or failure to prove, any of them is fatal to recovery. This applies especially
cruelty to animals.
28

to the all important element of duty. As the cases underline, in ruling on general notary public, failed to have the will properly attested. The court held that defendant
demurrers the dispositive issue ordinarily is that of duty, i.e., the existence of duty of had a duty to protect the beneficiary specified in the will where the "'end and aim'" of
care owed by the alleged wrongdoer to the person injured or to a class of which he is the will was to provide for such beneficiary and where plaintiff would have received her
a member. If the plaintiff does not and cannot show a duty owed directly to him, the bequest but for the defendant's negligence. In Lucas v. Hamm, supra, a group of
action is subject to dismissal (Amaya v. Home Ice, Fuel & Supply Co. (1963) 59 Cal. beneficiaries designated under a will alleged that they failed to receive their intended
2d 295, 307 [29 Cal. Rptr. 33, 379 P.2d 513]; 35 Cal.Jur.2d, § 9, p. 494). bequest as a consequence of the drafting attorney's failure to avoid the operation of
the rule against perpetuities and restraints on alienation. The court first restated the
requisites of a cause of action as laid down in Biakanja v. Irving, supra, then went on
Apparently recognizing that but for establishing a duty of care on the part of
to say: "As in Biakanja, one of the main purposes which the transaction between
respondents there is no right to recovery, appellants, buttressed by amicus curiae,
defendant and the testator intended [40 Cal. App. 3d 904] to accomplish was to
advance the novel argument that respondent attorneys owed a duty to appellant class
provide for the transfer of property to plaintiffs; the damage to plaintiffs in the event of
as potential beneficiaries under the will, which duty embraced an obligation to make
invalidity of the bequest was clearly foreseeable; it became certain, upon the death of
an investigation to determine the true intention of the testator and to draft an
the testator without change of the will, that plaintiffs would have received the intended
unambiguous will. Appellants likewise contend that by ambiguously designating the
benefits but for the asserted negligence of defendant ... ," and concluded that"
intended beneficiaries in Clause Eighth, subdivision (2), as "Society for the Prevention
intended beneficiaries of a will who lose their testamentary rights because of failure of
of Cruelty to Animals (Local or National)," a nonexistent organization, respondents
the attorney who drew the will to properly fulfill his obligations under his contract with
breached their duty of care, and the delay, litigation expense and the settlement
the testator may recover ..." ( Lucas v. Hamm, supra, at pp. 589, 591; italics added).
compromise resulting from the ambiguity constitute recoverable damages. As will be
fn. 1
seen below, appellants' argument is not supported by case law, cannot be accepted
as a matter of legal policy, and, under the facts of the case at bench, must be rejected
as a matter of law. [40 Cal. App. 3d 903] Finally, in Heyer v. Flaig, supra, where the attorney negligently failed to advise the
testatrix of the legal consequences of her intended marriage, and as a result her
daughters failed to receive their legacies, the court similarly reaffirmed the foregoing
[2] It is an elementary proposition that an attorney, by accepting employment to give
premise, stating, "We impose this duty because of the relationship between the
legal advice or to render legal services, impliedly agrees to use ordinary judgment,
attorney and the intended beneficiary; public policy requires that the attorney exercise
care, skill and diligence in the performance of the tasks he undertakes (Moser v.
his position of trust and superior knowledge responsibly so as not to affect adversely
Western Harness Racing Assn. (1948) 89 Cal. App. 2d 1, 7 [200 P.2d 7]). [3] In
persons whose rights and interests are certain and foreseeable." (P. 229; italics
elaborating on this duty, the cases have repeatedly held that an attorney who
added.)
assumes preparation of a will incurs a duty not only to the testator client, but also to
his intended beneficiaries, and lack of privity does not preclude the testamentary
beneficiary from maintaining an action against the attorney based on either the The foregoing analysis makes it evident that the contention that respondents owed a
contractual theory of third party beneficiary or the tort theory of negligence (Heyer v. duty of care towards appellant class as potential beneficiaries, even in the absence of
Flaig (1969) 70 Cal. 2d 223 [74 Cal. Rptr. 225, 449 P.2d 161]; Lucas v. Hamm (1961) an allegation of a clear causal connection between the claimed malpractice and the
56 Cal. 2d 583 [15 Cal. Rptr. 821, 364 P.2d 685]; Biakanja v. Irving (1958) 49 Cal. 2d alleged loss and notwithstanding the fact that appellants did receive their testamentary
647 [320 P.2d 16, 65 A.L.R.2d 1358]). However, the foregoing general rule share, is not supported by the existing case authorities. Appellants' position therefore
notwithstanding, the attorney's liability towards the intended beneficiaries under the can only be construed as a request to extend the scope of the attorney's liability so
will is not automatic. [4] The cases underline that the determination whether in a that any defects in wills which result in litigation would also constitute actionable legal
specific case the attorney should be held responsible to a third person not in privity malpractice. Neither appellants nor amicus curiae, however, advance any cogent
constitutes a policy matter and involves balancing factors, among which are the extent reasons why the scope of an attorney's duty should be so extended under the
to which the transaction was intended to affect the plaintiff, the foreseeability of harm principles enunciated in Biakanja and the cases following it and/or on the basis of
to him, the degree of certainty that the plaintiff suffered injury, the closeness of the general legal policy.
connection between the defendant's conduct and the injury suffered, the moral blame
attached to the defendant's conduct, and the policy of preventing future harm (
[5] In resolving this issue we must call to mind the basic principle that, while out of an
Biakanja v. Irving, supra, at p. 650; Lucas v. Hamm, supra, at p. 588).
agreement to provide legal services to the testator, a duty also arises to act with due
care with regard to the interests of the intended beneficiary, the scope of duty owed to
The cases cited by appellants unhesitatingly support the view that an attorney may be the beneficiary is determined by reference to the attorney-client relationship ( Heyer v.
held liable to the testamentary beneficiaries only if the above stated test is fully met, Flaig, supra, at p. 229). The primary duty is owed to the testator-client and the
that is, if due to the attorney's professional negligence the testamentary intent attorney's [40 Cal. App. 3d 905] paramount obligation is to serve and carry out the
expressed in the will is frustrated and the beneficiaries clearly designated by the intention of the testator. Consequently, when, as in the case at bench, the
testator lose their legacy as a direct result of such negligence. Thus, in Biakanja v. testamentary intent has been implemented, no good reason exists why the attorney
Irving, supra, the sole beneficiary under the will lost her bequest because defendant, a should be held accountable for using certain words suggested or selected by the
29

testator which later prove to be ambiguous. In addition, the task of proving whether detected, appellants would have been altogether precluded from acquiring any portion
claimed ambiguity was the result of negligence of the drafting attorney or whether it of the estate, and the testator's bounty would have been limited exclusively to the
was the deliberate choice of the testator, would impose an insurmountable burden on SFSPCA and/or to an entirely different group of beneficiaries. Under these
the parties, since in such a case the trier of fact would be required to decide this circumstances, there is ample ground to presume that the institution of the lawsuit, by
crucial issue without the benefit of the testimony of the most important witness, the which appellants' claim to 25 percent of the residuary estate was successfully
testator himself. Once recognized, such a duty would apply by parity of reasoning not established, worked a benefit rather than a detriment to appellants. The deduction is
only to wills, but also to contracts, conveyances and other legal instruments. The duty thus inescapable, that appellants have failed to show the crucial elements upon which
thus created would amount to a requirement to draft litigation-proof legal documents. respondents' duty may be predicated, namely the foreseeability of harm resulting from
This unlimited liability, as the learned trial judge aptly observed, would result in a the ambiguity, the degree of certainty that injury was suffered, and the closeness of
speculative and almost intolerable burden on the legal profession indeed. connection between respondents' conduct and the loss claimed (cf. Biakanja v. Irving;
Lucas v. Hamm; both supra).
We are not unmindful that some textbooks cited in the amicus curiae brief do set up
certain guidelines for attorneys, suggesting that "Care should be exercised to But the lack of these allegations negates not only the duty of care, the [40 Cal. App.
determine the correct name of the charity" (Harris, Family Estate Planning Guide (2d 3d 907] most vital element of the cause of action, but also the requisite showing that
ed. 1971) § 335, p. 648), that "The correct corporate title of any charity to which the actual loss or damage resulted from the conduct charged.
testator wishes to make a gift should be ascertained" (Schwarzberg, Practicing Law
Institute Monographs (1963) p. 30), that "there are several inquiries which must be
While it has been frequently said that a person who commits a wrongful act or
made before you actually proceed with your charitable bequest ..." (Callahan, How to
wrongfully omits to perform a particular act required of him is liable for all the detriment
Make a Will Simplified (1965) p. 61). However, it is apparent that these suggestions
directly flowing from the wrongful act or omission, it is black-letter law that damages
are merely in the nature of recommendations and are not established criteria for
may not be based upon sheer speculation or surmise, and the mere possibility or even
determining the scope of the duty of ordinary care imposed upon the will-drafting
probability that damage will result from wrongful conduct does not render it actionable
attorney. Moreover, these textbooks, too, acknowledge that "Good draftsmanship
(McGregor v. Wright (1931) 117 Cal. App. 186, 196-198 [3 P.2d 624]; 14 Cal.Jur.2d,
requires that the designation of the charity and the charitable purpose be as specific
§§ 43, 68, 75, pp. 670-671, 692-693, 699-700). As often emphasized, it is the
and unambiguous as the testator's desires will permit" (Cal. Will Drafting (Cont. Ed.
uncertainty as to the fact of damage rather than its amount which negatives the
Bar 1965) § 6.19; italics added).
existence of a cause of action based on either breach of contract and/or negligence
(Walker v. Pacific Indemnity Co. (1960) 183 Cal. App. 2d 513, 517 [6 Cal.Rptr. 924]).
[6] But aside from the foregoing considerations, in the situation here presented
appellants must be precluded from recovery as a matter of law.
The judgment is affirmed.

First, in interpreting the will, the probate court found that although there were
Taylor, P. J., and Rouse, J., concurred.
ambiguities in the designation of the beneficiaries, the trust purpose was clear and
could be fully implemented. fn. 2 Accordingly, unlike the [40 Cal. App. 3d 906] cases
cited, in the present case the testamentary intent was fully carried out and the FN 1. It is of interest to note that while the court in Lucas held that the third party
beneficiaries under the clause complained of did get their full share. beneficiary theory is available to testamentary beneficiaries in actions against the
testator's attorney, it also concluded that the error, if any, with respect to the rule
against perpetuities and restraints on alienation was not actionable under either a
Secondly, and more significantly, while the second amended complaint contains
negligence or contract theory ( Lucas v. Hamm, supra, at pp. 592-593).
allegations that "defendants did negligently and carelessly fail to inquire as to the
testator's true intention and did negligently and carelessly draft said Clause Eighth and
Clause Ninth of said Will in language which was ineffectual to clearly and precisely set FN 2. The pertinent portion of the memorandum decision reads as follows:
forth the intention of the testator," it is utterly devoid of any indication as to what the
true intention of the testator (if different from that expressed in the will) was; and, oddly
enough, appellants likewise fail to address themselves to this vital issue on appeal. "The charitable trust will provide a proper and adequate vehicle for distribution and will
terminate when the funds have been distributed pursuant to the terms of the will. The
trust, both its purpose and objective, and the rights of the qualified beneficiaries
The importance of this omission can hardly be overstated. It is obvious that in the thereof, will receive adequate protection from a court of equity; and the enforcement of
absence of an allegation that the testator did intend to leave a part of his residuary the requirements of the testator and an accounting of the corpus may be compelled by
estate to appellants specifically, it cannot be determined with any degree of certainty the Attorney General. ...
that appellants suffered harm or injury at all. It is entirely possible that, had the
suggested inquiry by respondents been made and the "true intention" of the testator
30

"The guidelines for the executors and trustees have been detailed herein; there is G.R. No. 101526 July 3, 1992
nothing indefinite as to the trust -- the beneficiaries can be ascertained, determined
and qualified pursuant to the will and within the groups which limit selection; the
RODELA D. TORREGOZA, petitioner,
distributive purpose of the trust is clear; provision for termination is made; and,
vs.
protective devices for the effective management and operation of the trust are present
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, respondent.
and available."

PARAS, J.:

The petition filed under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, seeks to review the
decision of the respondent Civil Service Commission, dated July 4, 1991, denying the
petitioner the privilege granted under Republic Act No. 6850, entitled "An Act to Grant
Civil Service Eligibility Under Certain Conditions to Government Employees Appointed
Under Provisional or Temporary Status Who Have Rendered a Total of Seven (7)
Years of Efficient Service, and for other Purposes". The petition prays for a Writ of
Mandamus to compel the respondent Commission to grant the petitioner the
appropriate civil service eligibility pursuant to the aforestated law, for having worked in
the Legal Office, Office of the President, Malacañang, Manila, since January 18, 1978,
to the present.

The original appointment of the petitioner on January 18, 1978, was one of the six (6)
Staff Aide positions, in the aforementioned office, specifically Item No. 198-6, (P.D.
No. 1050), issued by then Presidential Assistant Juan C. Tuvera for a period of six (6)
months. On June 5, 1978, less than five months after the first appointment, petitioner
was given another appointment to the same position effective "as of June 18, 1978"
and with a notation that "This appointment is declared confidential." (Rollo, p. 39)

Obviously, since 1978 to February 8, 1990 when Republic Act No. 6850 became a
law, petitioner never left the same position. Then on March 5, 1990, respondent
Commission issued the "Rules Implementing Republic Act No. 6850, enabling the
petitioner to file her application for the appropriate eligibility to the position she has
been occupying for the last thirteen (13) years and having accordingly rendered
efficient service. (The Solicitor General's Comment, pp. 3 & 13)

Petitioner's request was returned unacted upon by respondent's field office in


Malacañang, Manila for the reason that based on the service record submitted by the
Personnel Office of the Office of the President, petitioner's position had allegedly been
declared confidential. (Ibid., p. 4)

In the course of time, after the Salary Standardization Law (Republic Act No. 6758)
was passed, the same position was reclassified as Clerk II in July 1989. (Rollo, p. 5)

Subsequently, Deputy Executive Secretary Mariano Sarmiento sent a letter to the


respondent dated November 7, 1990, (Petition, Annex "G") requesting that based on
the present certified function and actual duties of the petitioner, the position be
31

restored to the career service and that said petitioner be granted the civil service From the above facts, there are two (2) issues to be resolved, however, one is
eligibility under R.A. No. 6850. (Rollo, p. 33). subordinate to the other. The principal issue is whether or not the writ of mandamus
may be issued by this Court to compel the respondent Commission to grant the
petitioner the privilege of securing an appropriate civil service eligibility under Republic
Respondent Commission denied petitioner's request on January 28, 1991, after
Act No. 6850. The answer to this is NO. The simple reason being that under the law
determining that petitioner's appointment in 1978 was declared by the Office of the
granting the privilege to government employees, there is a wide latitude of discretion
President as "confidential in nature", nevertheless, respondent stated that "an analysis
given to the Commission which determines in Section 1 thereof, "who are qualified to
of the duties and responsibilities of the subject position reveals that they are the same
avail themselves of the privilege granted under this Act." With such a discretion,
with the other positions in the career service . . ." and specifically held, that:
Section 2 of the same law requires the Civil Service Commission to promulgate the
rules and regulations to implement this Act using certain standards. Following are the
In view of the foregoing, the request for restoration of the position pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 6850:
of Clerk II to career service is hereby granted effective January 1,
1991. However, the incumbent shall continue to occupy the
Sec. 1. All government employees as of the approval of this Act
position in a confidential status. Any subsequent appointment to
who are holding career civil service positions appointed under
subject position shall be covered by career service policies.
provisional or temporary status who have rendered at least a total
(Petition, Annex "A")
of seven (7) years of efficient service may be granted the civil
service eligibility that will qualify them for permanent appointment
On February 27, 1991, petitioner moved for reconsideration of the foregoing Decision, to their present positions.
but the respondent stood firm in its resolution dated July 4, 1991, by issuing the
following ruling:
The Civil Service Commission shall formulate performance
evaluation standards in order to determine these temporary
After due consideration of the instant request for reconsideration employees who are qualified to avail themselves of the privilege
of Torregoza, this Commission finds no ample reason to disturb granted under this Act.
its Opinion of January 28, 1991. The Office of the President
declared her previous appointments as primarily confidential and
The civil service eligibility herein grantee may apply to such other
they were all attested as such by this Commission. These twin
positions as the Civil Service Commission may deem appropriate.
actions, i.e., declaration by the Office of the President and
confirmation by this Commission made the appointments in
question to be primarily confidential. Moreover, granting en Sec. 2. The Civil Service Commission shall promulgate the rules
arguendo that the position in question may not have been and regulations to implement this Act consistent with the merit
properly and validly declared as primarily confidential, all and fitness principle within ninety (90) days after its effectivity.
concerned were of the belief that the appointments issued to
Torregoza as Clerk II were indeed primarily confidential. Further,
From the above, it is crystal-clear that the Writ of Mandamus will not lie as the
it cannot also be denied that from the time her first appointment
responsibility of the respondent Commission in implementing the law is not ministerial,
was issued up to the time that she requested for the change of
besides, what the law granted is a mere privilege and not a right to those who are
the status of her appointment, Torregoza enjoyed the benefits of
qualified according to the standards to be set by the Commission.
the primarily confidential nature of her position. She is, therefore,
estopped from questioning and impugning the validity of her
previous appointments specially now, that she stands to benefit In Marcelo vs. Tantuico, Jr., (142 SCRA 439), citing other cases, this Court held that
from the provisions of R.A. 6850, with a declaration of her the "Remedy of mandamus is available only to compel the performance of a
appointment as temporary. ministerial duty, but not where the reinstatement involves the exercise of sound
judgment and discretion by the appointing power, absent a showing of a clear and
certain right by petitioner."
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, this Commission
resolves to deny the instant request of Rodela Torregoza, Clerk II,
Office of the President that she be issued a temporary The other question that this Court deems appropriate for resolution is the
appointment as Clerk II effective July 1, 1989, the effectivity date categorization of the position in the Legal Office, Office of the President, Malacañang,
of RA 6758 for lack of merit. Hence, CSC Opinion of January 28, Manila. This categorization attaches to the entire Office of the President under
1991 is hereby affirmed." (Petition, Annex "H") Republic Act No. 6040, which provides:
32

Sec. 5. The Non-Competitive Service. — The non-competitive placed the secretarial and office staff of the Office of the President under the non-
service shall be composed of positions expressly declared by law competitive category. To do so is a glaring violation of Republic Act No. 6040, the
to be in the non-competitive service and those which are policy- specific provision of which is quoted above.
determining, primarily confidential or highly technical in nature.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
The following specific officers and employees shall be embraced
in the non-competitive service:
SO ORDERED.

xxx xxx xxx

(b) The secretarial and office staff of the President, of the Vice-
President, of the President of the Senate, of the Speaker of the
House of Representatives and of each Member of the Congress
of the Philippines including the personnel of all offices of the
Chairmen of committees of both Houses of the Congress;

This particular law has never been repealed and therefore, it is still controlling with
respect to the classification of the secretarial and office staff positions in the Office of
the President as belonging to the non-competitive service. Thus, any subsequent
classification of the same positions has to be made with the specific sanction of the
legislative branch. The mere fact that the functions of the position in question are
parallel or the same as those in the career civil service positions, do not make the said
position eligible for conferment of the civil service eligibility specially given to other
government employees in the competitive service.

Furthermore, the classification under the Salary Standardization Act, also known as
the "Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989". Republic Act No. 6758,
did not in effect amend the specific above-quoted provision of R.A. 6040. For the
statement of policy of the former is distinctly clear as it states the following:

Sec. 2. Statement of Policy. — It is hereby declared the policy of


the State to provide equal pay for substantially equal work and to
base differences in pay upon substantive differences in duties and
responsibilities, and qualification requirements of the positions. In
determining rates of pay, due regard shall be given to, among
others, prevailing rates in the private sector for comparable work.
For this purpose, the Department of Budget and Management
(DBM) is hereby directed to establish and administer a unified
Compensation Position Classification System, hereinafter referred
to as the System, as provided for in Presidential Decree No. 985,
as amended, that shall be applied for all government entities, as
mandated by the Constitution.

Moreover, this Court noted with alarm the attempt of the respondent Commission in
subjecting the position in question to the coverage of the "career service policies" after
the incumbent shall have ceased to occupy the position in a confidential status,
without the necessary enabling act after the legislative branch of the Government has
33

[G.R. No. 150605. December 10, 2002]

EUFROCINO M. CODILLA, SR., petitioner, vs. HON. JOSE DE VENECIA, ROBERTO


P. NAZARENO, in their official capacities as Speaker and Secretary-General of the
House of Representatives, respectively, and MA. VICTORIA L. LOCSIN, respondents.

DECISION

PUNO, J.:

In a democracy, the first self-evident principle is that he who has been rejected by the
people cannot represent the people. Respondent Ma. Victoria L. Locsin lost to
petitioner Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr. by 17,903 votes in the May 14, 2001 elections as
Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte. The most sophisticated legal
alchemy cannot justify her insistence that she should continue governing the people of
Leyte against their will. The enforcement of the sovereign will of the people is not
subject to the discretion of any official of the land.

This is a Petition for Mandamus and Quo Warranto directed against respondents
Speaker Jose De Venecia and Secretary-General Roberto P. Nazareno of the House
of Representatives to compel them to implement the decision of the Commission on
Elections en banc by (a) administering the oath of office to petitioner as the duly-
elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte, and (b) registering the
name of the petitioner in the Roll of Members of the House of Representatives, and
against respondent Ma. Victoria L. Locsin for usurping, intruding into, and unlawfully
holding and exercising the said public office on the basis of a void proclamation.

The facts are uncontroverted. Petitioner and respondent Locsin were candidates for
the position of Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte during the May 14,
2001 elections. At that time, petitioner was the Mayor of Ormoc City while respondent
Locsin was the sitting Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte. On May 8,
2001, one Josephine de la Cruz, a registered voter of Kananga, Leyte, filed directly
with the COMELEC main office a Petition for Disqualification1[1] against the petitioner
for indirectly soliciting votes from the registered voters of Kananga and Matag-ob,
Leyte, in violation of Section 68 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code. It was alleged that
the petitioner used the equipments and vehicles owned by the City Government of
Ormoc to extract, haul and distribute gravel and sand to the residents of Kananga and
Matag-ob, Leyte, for the purpose of inducing, influencing or corrupting them to vote for
34

him. Attached to the petition are the (a) Affidavits of Basilio Bates,2[2] Danilo D. On May 16, 2001, before the counting could be finished, respondent Locsin joined as
Maglasang,3[3] Cesar A. Laurente;4[4] (b) Joint Affidavit of Agripino C. Alferez and intervenor in SPA No. 128 and filed a Most Urgent Motion to Suspend
Rogelio T. Salvera;5[5] (c) Extract Records from the Police Blotter executed by Police Proclamation of Respondent [herein petitioner] with the COMELEC Second
Superintendent Elson G. Pecho;6[6] and (d) Photographs showing government dump Division.10[10] Respondent Locsin alleged that the evidence on record against
trucks, haulers and surfacers and portions of public roads allegedly filled-in and respondent is very strong and unless rebutted remains. She urged the Commission to
surfaced through the intercession of the respondent.7[7] The case was docketed as set the hearing of the disqualification case and prayed for the suspension of the
SPA No. 01-208 and assigned to the COMELECs Second Division. proclamation of the respondent so as not to render the present disqualification case
moot and academic. A copy of the Motion was allegedly served on petitioner by
registered mail but no registry receipt was attached thereto.11[11]
On May 10, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division issued an Order delegating the
hearing and reception of evidence on the disqualification case to the Office of the
Regional Director of Region VIII.8[8] On May 11, 2001, the COMELEC Second On May 18, 2001, respondent Locsin filed a Second Most Urgent Motion to
Division sent a telegram informing the petitioner that a disqualification case was filed Suspend Proclamation of Respondent stating there is clear and convincing
against him and that the petition was remanded to the Regional Election Director for evidence showing that the respondent is undoubtedly guilty of the charges against him
investigation.9[9] and this remains unrebutted by the respondent. A copy of the Motion was sent to the
petitioner and the corresponding registry receipt was attached to the pleading.12[12]
The records, however, do not show the date the petitioner received the motion.
At the time of the elections on May 14, 2001, the Regional Election Director had
yet to hear the disqualification case. Consequently, petitioner was included in the
list of candidates for district representative and was voted for. The initial results
showed that petitioner was the winning candidate.
35

On the same day, May 18, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division issued an Ex-Parte the petition from the COMELEC Regional Office No. 8 at his own instance.17[17]
Order13[13] directing the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte to suspend the Petitioner further alleged that the maintenance, repair and rehabilitation of barangay
proclamation of petitioner in case he obtains the highest number of votes by reason of roads in the municipalities of Matag-ob and Kananga were undertaken without his
the seriousness of the allegations in the petition for disqualification.14[14] It also authority, participation or directive as City Mayor of Ormoc. He attached in his Answer
directed the Regional Election Director to speed up the reception of evidence and to the following: (a) Affidavit of Alex B. Borinaga;18[18] (b) Copy of the Excerpt from the
forward immediately the complete records together with its recommendation to the Minutes of the Regular Session of Barangay Monterico;19[19] (c) Affidavit of Wilfredo
Office of the Clerk of the Commission.15[15] As a result, petitioner was not A. Fiel;20[20] (d) Supplemental Affidavit of Wilfredo A. Fiel;21[21] and (e) Affidavit of
proclaimed as winner even though the final election results showed that he garnered Arnel Y. Padayao.22[22]
71,350 votes as against respondent Locsins 53,447 votes.16[16]
On May 25, 2001, petitioner filed a Motion to Lift Order of Suspension,23[23]
At the time that the COMELEC Second Division issued its Order suspending his alleging that (a) he did not receive a copy of the Motion to Suspend his Proclamation
proclamation, the petitioner has yet to be summoned to answer the petition for and hence, was denied the right to rebut and refute the allegations in the Motion; (b)
disqualification. Neither has said petition been set for hearing. It was only on May 24, that he did not receive a copy of the summons on the petition for disqualification and
2001 that petitioner was able to file an Answer to the petition for his disqualification after personally obtaining a copy of the petition, filed the requisite answer only on May
with the Regional Election Director, alleging that: (a) he has not received the 24, 2001; and (c) that he received the telegraph Order of the COMELEC Second
summons together with the copy of the petition; (b) he became aware of the matter Division suspending his proclamation only on May 22, 2001. He attached
only by virtue of the telegram sent by the COMELEC Second Division informing him documentary evidence in support of his Motion to Lift the Suspension of his
that a petition was filed against him and that the Regional Election Director was proclamation, and requested the setting of a hearing on his Motion.24[24]
directed to investigate and receive evidence therewith; and (c) he obtained a copy of
36

On May 30, 2001, an oral argument was conducted on the petitioners Motion and the solicitation of votes and ordered his disqualification. It directed the immediate
parties were ordered to submit their respective memoranda.25[25] On June 4, 2001, proclamation of the candidate who garnered the highest number of votes xxx. A
petitioner submitted his Memorandum26[26] in support of his Motion assailing the copy of said Resolution was sent by fax to the counsel of petitioner in Cebu City in
suspension of his proclamation on the grounds that: (a) he was not afforded due the afternoon of the following day.36[36]
process; (b) the order has no legal and factual basis; and (c) evidence of his guilt is
patently inexistent for the purpose of suspending his proclamation. He prayed that his
By virtue of the said Resolution, the votes cast for petitioner, totaling 71,350, were
proclamation as winning congressional candidate be expediently made, even while the
declared stray even before said Resolution could gain finality. On June 15, 2001,
disqualification case against him continue upon due notice and hearing. He attached
respondent Locsin was proclaimed as the duly elected Representative of the 4th
the following additional evidence in his Memorandum: (a) Copy of certification issued
legislative district of Leyte by the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte. It issued a
by PNP Senior Inspector Benjamin T. Gorre;27[27] (b) Certification issued by Elena S.
Certificate of Canvass of Votes and Proclamation of the Winning Candidates for
Aviles, City Budget Officer;28[28] (c) Copy of certification issued by Wilfredo A. Fiel,
Member of the House of Representatives stating that MA. VICTORIA LARRAZABAL
City Engineer of Ormoc;29[29] (d) Joint Affidavit of Antonio Patenio and Pepito
LOCSIN obtained a total of FIFTY THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED FORTY
Restituto;30[30] and (e) Affidavits of Demetrio Brion,31[31] Igmedio Rita32[32] and
SEVEN (53,447) votes representing the highest number of votes legally cast in the
Gerardo Monteza.33[33] Respondent Locsins memorandum also contained additional
affidavits of his witnesses.34[34]

Petitioners Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension, however, was not resolved.
Instead, on June 14, 2001, the COMELEC Second Division promulgated its
Resolution35[35] in SPA No. 01-208 which found the petitioner guilty of indirect
37

legislative district for said office.37[37] Respondent Locsin took her oath of office Division of the Commission and not directly by the Commission en banc; and (3) the
on June 18, 2001 and assumed office on June 30, 2001. proclamation of Locsin was valid because she received the highest number of valid
votes cast, the votes of Codilla being stray.
On June 20, 2001, petitioner seasonably filed with the COMELEC en banc a
Motion for Reconsideration38[38] from the June 14, 2001 Resolution of the On June 28, 2001, petitioner filed an Urgent Manifestation42[42] stating that he was
COMELEC Second Division which ordered his disqualification, as well as an deprived of a fair hearing on the disqualification case because while the
Addendum to the Motion for Reconsideration.39[39] Petitioner alleged in his Motion documentary evidence adduced in his Memorandum was in support of his
for Reconsideration that the COMELEC Second Division erred: (1) in disqualifying Motion for the lifting of the suspension of his proclamation, the COMELEC
petitioner on the basis solely of the dubious declaration of the witnesses for Second Division instead ruled on the main disqualification case. In consonance
respondent Locsin; (2) in adopting in toto the allegations of the witnesses for with his prayer that a full-dress hearing be conducted on the disqualification case, he
respondent Locsin; and (3) in promulgating the resolution in violation of its own rules submitted Affidavits of additional witnesses43[43] which he claims would refute and
of procedure and in directing therein the immediate proclamation of the second substantially belie the allegations of petitioners/intervenors witnesses. A Reply,44[44]
highest vote getter. Respondent Locsin and her co-petitioner in SPA No. 01-208 filed Rejoinder45[45] and Sur-Rejoinder46[46] were respectively filed by the parties.
a joint Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration.40[40] Consequently, the motion for reconsideration in SPA No. 01-208 and the petition for
declaration of nullity in SPC No. 01-324 were submitted for resolution.
On June 21, 2001, petitioner filed with the COMELEC en banc a Petition for
Declaration of Nullity of Proclamation,41[41] docketed as SPC No. 01-324, From the records, it appears that initially, a Resolution penned by Commissioner
assailing the validity of the proclamation of respondent Locsin who garnered only the Rufino S.B. Javier, dated July 24, 2001, was submitted to the Office of the Chairman,
second highest number of votes. Respondent Locsin filed her Answer alleging that: dismissing the petition for declaration of nullity for lack of jurisdiction and denying the
(1) the Commission lost jurisdiction to hear and decide the case because of the
proclamation of Locsin and that any question on the election, returns, and qualification
of Locsin can only be taken cognizance of by the House of Representatives Electoral
Tribunal (HRET); (2) the case should be filed and heard in the first instance by a
38

motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Codilla.47[47] Commissioners Florentino (b) to lift the order of suspension of proclamation of petitioner
A. Tuason, Jr. and Resurreccion Z. Borra submitted their respective dissenting Codilla, issued by the Commission (Second Division) on May
opinions48[48] to the Javier resolution. It bears emphasis that Commissioner Tuason, 18, 2001, having been issued without hearing and without
Jr. was the ponente of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division which any finding that the evidence of guilt of petitioner Codilla is
ordered the disqualification of petitioner but after considering the additional evidence strong and, thus, null and void;
presented by the latter, he concluded that the totality of the evidence was clearly in
petitioners favor. Equally worth mentioning is the fact that Commissioner Ralph C.
(c) to nullify the order contained in the Resolution of the
Lantion, who was the Presiding Commissioner of the Second Division, also dissented
Commission (Second Division) promulgated on June 14,
and voted to grant Codillas motion for reconsideration on the ground that [T]he people
2001, for (t)he immediate proclamation of the candidate who
of Leyte have spoken and I respect the electorates will. x x x. 49[49]
garnered the highest number of votes, to the exclusion of
respondent and the concurrent order for the Provincial Board
On August 29, 2001, then COMELEC Chairman Alfredo L. Benipayo issued a Vote of Canvasser (sic) of Leyte to immediately reconvene and
and Opinion and Summary of Votes reversing the resolution of the Second thereafter proclaim forthwith the candidate who obtained the
Division and declaring the proclamation of respondent Locsin as null and void. highest number of votes counting out the Respondent the
The dispositive portion reads: same being violative of election laws, established
jurisprudence, and resolutions of the Commission;
JUDGMENT
(d) to nullify the ruling contained in the Resolution of the
Commission (Second Division) promulgated o June 14, 2001,
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, I concur with Commissioner
that the votes of respondent Codilla are considered stray and
Resurreccion Z. Borra, Commissioner Florentino A. Tuason, Jr. and Commissioner
invalid said ruling being issued on the basis of an
Ralph C. Lantion, in SPA No. 01-208, to GRANT the motion for reconsideration and to
inapplicable decision, and contrary to established
REVERSE the resolution of the Commission (Second Division) promulgated on June
jurisprudence;
1, 2001, disqualifying Codilla; and subsequently, in SPC No. 01-324, to GRANT the
petition of Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr., and declare as null and void the proclamation of
losing candidate Locsin. (e) to order the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte,
upon the finality of this resolution, to reconvene and proclaim
petitioner Codilla as the winning candidate for Representative
Accordingly:
of the Fourth Legislative district of Leyte to comply with its
ministerial duty to proclaim the candidate who garnered the
1. On the Motion for Reconsideration of the disqualification resolution against highest number of votes in the elections for that position; and
Codilla, promulgated by the Commission (Second Division) on June 14, 2001 (SPA
No. 01-208), I vote:
(f) to order intervenor-oppositor Locsin, upon the finality of
this resolution, to vacate the office of Representative of the
(a) to GRANT the Motion for Reconsideration of respondent- House of Representatives representing the Fourth legislative
movant Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr., and to REVERSE the district of Leyte and, for this purpose, to inform the House of
Resolution of the Commission (Second Division) promulgated Representatives through the Honorable Speaker of this
on June 14, 2001, for insufficiency of evidence; resolution for its attention and guidance; and
39

2. On the petition for Declaration of Nullity of proclamation of respondent Ma. garnered the highest number of votes in the elections for the
Victoria L. Locsin (SPC No. 01-324), I vote: position; and

(a) to GRANT the petition of Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr., and (f) to order respondent Locsin, upon the finality of this
declare as null and void the proclamation of losing candidate resolution, to vacate the office of Representative of the
Locsin, the proclamation being violative of election laws, House of Representatives representing the Fourth Legislative
established jurisprudence, and resolutions of the Commission district of Leyte and, for this purpose, to inform the House of
on Elections; Representatives through the Honorable Speaker of this
resolution for its attention and guidance.
(b) to lift the order of suspension of proclamation of petitioner
Codilla, issued by the Commission (Second Division) on May Summary of Votes
18, 2001, in SPA No. 01-208, having been issued without
hearing and without any finding that the evidence of guilt of
Considering the FOUR (4) VOTES of the Chairman and Commissioners Resurreccion
petitioner Codilla is strong and, thus, null and void;
Z. Borra, Florentino A. Tuason, Jr., and Ralph C. Lantion, to grant the Motion for
Reconsideration of Codilla and reverse the disqualification Resolution of the
(c) to nullify the order contained in the Resolution of the Commission (Second Division) in SPA No. 01-208, promulgated on June 14, 2001,
Commission (Second Division) promulgated on June 14, and as an inevitable consequence, in voting to grant the petition for declaration of
2001, in SPA No. 01-208, for (t)he immediate proclamation of nullity of the proclamation of Ma. Victoria L. Locsin in SPC No. 01-324, the
the candidate who garnered the highest number of votes, to verdict/opinion of the Chairman and the three (3) Commissioners taken together now
the exclusion of respondent and the concurrent order for the stands, as it is, the MAJORITY DECISION of the Commission En Banc in both cases;
provincial Board of Canvasser (sic) of Leyte to immediately and the Resolution submitted by three (3) Commissioners, namely, Commissioner
reconvene and thereafter proclaim forthwith the candidate Rufino S.B. Javier, Commissioner Luzviminda G. Tancangco, and Commissioner
who obtained the highest number of votes counting out the Mehol K. Sadain, is considered, as it is, the MINORITY DECISION of the Commission
Respondent the same being violative of election laws, En Banc in both cases.
established jurisprudence, and resolutions of the
Commission;
The MAJORTIY DECISION was arrived at after proper consultation with those who
joined the majority. The Chairman and the three (3) Commissioners comprising the
(d) to nullify the ruling contained in the Resolution of the majority decided that no one will be assigned to write a Majority Decision. Instead,
Commission (Second Division) promulgated on June 14, each one will write his own separate opinion. Commissioners Borra, Tuason, Jr. and
2001, in SPA No. 01-208, that the votes of respondent the undersigned Chairman submitted separate opinions. Commissioner Lantion wrote
Codilla are considered stray and invalid said ruling being an explanation on his vote.50[50]
issued on the basis of an inapplicable decision, and contrary
to established jurisprudence;
The aforequoted judgment was adopted in a Vote of Adoption signed by
Commissioners Ralph C. Lantion, Resurreccion Z. Borra and Florentino A. Tuason,
(e) to order the provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte, Jr.51[51]
upon the finality of this resolution, to reconvene and proclaim
petitioner Codilla as the winning candidate for Representative
Respondent Locsin did not appeal from this decision annulling her
of the Fourth legislative district of Leyte he (sic) having
proclamation. Instead, she filed a Comment and Manifestation52[52] with the
40

COMELEC en banc questioning the procedure and the manner by which the decision before Executive Judge Fortunito L. Madrona of the Regional Trial Court of Ormoc
was issued. In addition, respondent Locsin requested and was issued an opinion by City.57[57]
House of Representatives Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel Leonardo B.
Palicte III declaring that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction to nullify the proclamation
On September 14, 2001, petitioner wrote the House of Representatives, thru
of respondent Locsin after she had taken her oath and assumed office since it is the
respondent Speaker De Venecia, informing the House of the August 29, 2001
HRET which is the sole judge of election, returns and qualifications of Members of the
COMELEC en banc resolution annulling the proclamation of respondent Locsin, and
House.53[53] Relying on this opinion, respondent Locsin submitted a written
proclaiming him as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of
privileged speech to the House during its regular session on September 4, 2001,
Leyte.58[58] Petitioner also served notice that I am assuming the duties and
where she declared that she will not only disregard but will openly defy and disobey
responsibilities as Representative of the fourth legislative district of Leyte to which
the COMELEC en banc resolution ordering her to vacate her position.54[54]
position I have been lawfully elected and proclaimed. On behalf of my constituents, I
therefore expect that all rights and privileges intended for the position of
On September 6, 2001, the COMELEC en banc issued an Order55[55] constituting Representative of the fourth legislative district of Leyte be accorded to me, including
the members of the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte to implement the all physical facilities and staff support. On the basis of this letter, a
aforesaid decision. It likewise ordered the Board to reconvene and proclaim the Memorandum59[59] dated October 8, 2001 was issued by Legal Affairs Deputy
candidate who obtained the highest number of votes in the district, as the duly-elected Secretary-General Gaudencio A. Mendoza, Jr., for Speaker De Venecia, stating that
Representative of the Fourth Legislative district of Leyte, and accordingly issue a there is no legal obstacle to complying with the duly promulgated and now final and
Certificate of Canvass and Proclamation of Winning Candidate for Member of the executory COMELEC Decision of August 29, 2001 x x x.
House of Representatives x x x, based on the city/municipal certificates of canvass
submitted beforehand to the previous Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte x x x.
These notwithstanding, and despite receipt by the House of Representatives of a copy
of the COMELEC en banc resolution on September 20, 2001,60[60] no action was
On September 12, 2001, petitioner Codilla was proclaimed by the Provincial Board taken by the House on the letter-appeal of petitioner. Hence, petitioner sought the
of Canvassers as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of assistance of his party, LAKAS-NUCD-UMDP, which sent a letter61[61] addressed to
Leyte, having obtained a total of 71,350 votes representing the highest number of respondent Speaker De Venecia, dated October 25, 2001, and signed by Party
votes cast in the district.56[56] On the same day, petitioner took his oath of office President Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr., Secretary-General Heherson T. Alvarez, and
Region VIII Party Chairman Sergio Antonio F. Apostol, requesting the House of
Representatives to act decisively on the matter in order that petitioner can avail of
41

whatever remedy is available should their action remain unfavorable or otherwise He alleges that the action or inaction of public respondents has deprived him of his
undecisive. lawful right to assume the office of Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte.

In response, Speaker De Venecia sent a letter62[62] dated October 30, 2001, stating In his Comment,63[63] public respondent Speaker De Venecia alleged that
that: mandamus will not lie to compel the implementation of the COMELEC decision which
is not merely a ministerial duty but one which requires the exercise of discretion by the
Speaker of the House considering that: (1) it affects the membership of the House;
We recognize the finality of the COMELEC decision and we are inclined to sustain it.
and (2) there is nothing in the Rules of the House of Representatives which imposes a
However, Rep. Locsin has officially notified the HOUSE in her privilege speech,
duty on the House Speaker to implement a COMELEC decision that unseats an
inserted in the HOUSE Journal dated September 4, 2001, that she shall openly defy
incumbent House member.
and disobey the COMELEC ruling. This ultimately means that implementing the
decision would result in the spectacle of having two (2) legislators occupying the same
congressional seat, a legal situation, the only consideration, that effectively deters the In his Comment,64[64] public respondent Secretary-General Nazareno alleged that in
HOUSEs liberty to take action. reading the name of respondent Locsin during the roll call, and in allowing her to take
her oath before the Speaker-elect and sit as Member of the House during the Joint
Session of Congress, he was merely performing official acts in compliance with the
In this light, the accepted wisdom is that the implementation of the COMELEC
opinions65[65] rendered by House of Representatives Chief Counsel and Executive
decision is a matter that can be best, and with finality, adjudicated by the
Director Leonardo C. Palicte III stating that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction to
Supreme Court, which, hopefully, shall act on it most expeditiously. (emphases
declare the proclamation of respondent Locsin as null and void since it is the HRET
supplied)
which is the sole judge of all election, returns and qualifications of Members of the
House. He also contends that the determination of who will sit as Member of the
Hence, the present petition for mandamus and quo warranto. House of Representatives is not a ministerial function and cannot, thus, be compelled
by mandamus.
Petitioner submits that by virtue of the resolution of the COMELEC en banc which has
become final and executory for failure of respondent Locsin to appeal therefrom, it has Respondent Locsin, in her Comment,66[66] alleged that the Supreme Court has no
become the ministerial duty: (1) of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as its original jurisdiction over an action for quo warranto involving a member of the House
Administrative Head and Presiding Officer, to implement the said resolution of the of Representatives for under Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution it is the HRET
COMELEC en banc by installing him as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th which is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications
legislative district of Leyte; and (2) of the Secretary-General, as official custodian of of Members of the House of Representatives. She likewise asserts that this Court
the records of the House, to formally register his name in the Roll of Members of the cannot issue the writ of mandamus against a co-equal legislative department without
House and delete the name of respondent Locsin therefrom. Petitioner further grossly violating the principle of separation of powers. She contends that the act of
contends that respondent Locsin has been usurping and unlawfully holding the public recognizing who should be seated as a bona fide member of the House of
office of Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte considering that her Representatives is not a ministerial function but a legislative prerogative, the
premature proclamation has been declared null and void by the COMELEC en banc. performance of which cannot be compelled by mandamus. Moreover, the prayer for a
writ of mandamus cannot be directed against the Speaker and Secretary-General
42

because they do not have the authority to enforce and implement the resolution of the The core issues in this case are: (a) whether the proclamation of respondent Locsin by
COMELEC. the COMELEC Second Division is valid; (b) whether said proclamation divested the
COMELEC en banc of jurisdiction to review its validity; and (c) assuming the invalidity
of said proclamation, whether it is the ministerial duty of the public respondents to
Additionally, respondent Locsin urges that the resolution of the COMELEC en banc is
recognize petitioner Codilla, Sr. as the legally elected Representative of the 4th
null and void for lack of jurisdiction. First, it should have dismissed the case pending
legislative district of Leyte vice respondent Locsin.
before it after her proclamation and after she had taken her oath of office. Jurisdiction
then was vested in the HRET to unseat and remove a Member of the House of
Representatives. Second, the petition for declaration of nullity is clearly a pre- I
proclamation controversy and the COMELEC en banc has no original jurisdiction to Whether the proclamation of respondent Locsin is valid.
hear and decide a pre-proclamation controversy. It must first be heard by a
COMELEC Division. Third, the questioned decision is actually a hodge-podge decision
After carefully reviewing the records of this case, we find that the proclamation of
because of the peculiar manner in which the COMELEC disposed of the case.
respondent Locsin is null and void for the following reasons:

Finally, respondent Locsin asserts that the matter of her qualification and eligibility has
First. The petitioner was denied due process during the entire proceedings
been categorically affirmed by the HRET when it dismissed the quo warranto case
leading to the proclamation of respondent Locsin.
filed against her, docketed as HRET Case No. 01-043, entitled Paciano Travero vs.
Ma. Victoria Locsin, on the ground that the allegations stated therein are not proper
grounds for a petition for quo warranto against a Member of the House of COMELEC Resolution Nos. 340270[70] sets the procedure for disqualification cases
Representatives under section 253 of the Omnibus Election Code and Rule 17 of the pursuant to section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code, viz:
HRET Rules, and that the petition was filed late.67[67]
C. PETITION TO DISQUALIFY A CANDIDATE PURSUANT TO SEC. 68 OF
In his Reply,68[68] petitioner asserts that the remedy of respondent Locsin from the THE OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE AND PETITION TO DISQUALIFY FOR
COMELEC decision was to file a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, not to LACK OF QUALIFICATIONS OR POSSESSING SAME GROUNDS FOR
seek an opinion from the Chief Legal Counsel of the House of Representatives; that DISQUALIFICATION
the HRET has no jurisdiction over a petition for declaration of nullity of proclamation
which is based not on ineligibility or disloyalty, but by reason that the candidate
proclaimed as winner did not obtain the highest number of votes; that the petition for (1) The verified petition to disqualify a candidate pursuant to Sec. 68 of the
annulment of proclamation is a pre-proclamation controversy and, hence, falls within Omnibus Election Code and the verified petition to disqualify a
candidate for lack of qualifications or possessing same grounds for
the exclusive jurisdiction of the COMELEC pursuant to section 242 of B.P. Blg.
88169[69] and section 3, Article IX (C) of the Constitution; that respondent Speaker disqualification, may be filed any day after the last day for filing of
De Venecia himself recognizes the finality of the COMELEC decision but has decided certificates of candidacy but not later than the date of proclamation.
to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for adjudication; that the enforcement and
implementation of a final decision of the COMELEC involves a ministerial act and (2) The petition to disqualify a candidate pursuant to Sec. 68 of the
does not encroach on the legislative power of Congress; and that the power to Omnibus Election Code shall be filed in ten (10) legible copies by any
determine who will sit as Member of the House does not involve an exercise of citizen of voting age, or duly registered political party, organization or
legislative power but is vested in the sovereign will of the electorate. coalition of political parties against any candidate who in an action or
43

protest in which he is a party is declared by final decision of a (8) The hearing must be completed within ten (10) days from the date of
competent court guilty of, or found by the Commission of: the filing of the answer. The hearing officer concerned shall submit to
the Clerk of the Commission through the fastest means of
communication, his findings, reports and recommendations within five
2.a having given money or other material consideration to influence,
(5) days from the completion of the hearing and reception of evidence
induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing
together with the complete records of the case;
electoral functions;

(9) Upon receipt of the records of the case of the findings, reports and
2.b having committed acts of terrorism to enhance his candidacy;
recommendation of the hearing officer concerned, the Clerk of the
Commission shall immediately docket the case consecutively and
2.c having spent in his election campaign an amount in excess of calendar the same for raffle to a division;
that allowed by the Omnibus Election Code;
(10) The division to whom the case is raffled, shall after consultation,
2.d having solicited, received or made any contribution prohibited assign the same to a member who shall pen the decision, within
under Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104 of the Omnibus five (5) days from the date of consultation.
Election Code;
Resolution No. 3402 clearly requires the COMELEC, through the Regional Election
2.e having violated any of Sections 80, 83, 85, 86 and 261, Director, to issue summons to the respondent candidate together with a copy of the
paragraphs d, e, k, v, and cc, sub-paragraph 6 of the petition and its enclosures, if any, within three (3) days from the filing of the petition for
Omnibus Election Code, shall be disqualified from continuing disqualification. Undoubtedly, this is to afford the respondent candidate the opportunity
as a candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding the to answer the allegations in the petition and hear his side. To ensure compliance with
office. this requirement, the COMELEC Rules of Procedure requires the return of the
summons together with the proof of service to the Clerk of Court of the COMELEC
when service has been completed, viz:
xxx xxx xxx

Rule 14. Summons


(4) Upon payment of the filing fee of P1,000.00 and legal research fee of
P20.00, the offices concerned shall docket the petition and assign to
it a docket number which must be consecutive, according to the order xxx xxx xxx
of receipt and must bear the year and prefixed as SPA with the
corresponding initial of the name of the office, i.e. SPA (RED) No.
Section 5. Return.- When the service has been completed by personal service, the
C01-001; SPA (PES) No. C01-001;
server shall give notice thereof, by registered mail, to the protestant or his counsel and
shall return the summons to the Clerk of Court concerned who issued it, accompanied
(5) Within three (3) days from filing of the petitions, the offices concerned with the proof of service.
shall issue summons to the respondent candidate together with a
copy of the petition and its enclosures, if any;
Section 6. Proof of Service.- Proof of service of summons shall be made in the
manner provided for in the Rules of Court in the Philippines.
(6) The respondent shall be given three (3) days from receipt of summons
within which to file his verified answer (not a motion to dismiss) to the
Thereafter, hearings, to be completed within ten (10) days from the filing of the
petition in ten (10) legible copies, serving a copy thereof upon the
Answer, must be conducted. The hearing officer is required to submit to the Clerk of
petitioner. Grounds for Motion to Dismiss may be raised as an
the Commission his findings, reports and recommendations within five (5) days from
affirmative defense;
the completion of the hearing and reception of evidence together with the complete
records of the case.
(7) The proceeding shall be summary in nature. In lieu of the testimonies,
the parties shall submit their affidavits or counter-affidavits and other
(a) Petitioner was not notified of the petition for his disqualification through the
documentary evidences including their position paper;
service of summons nor of the Motions to suspend his proclamation.
44

The records of the case do not show that summons was served on the petitioner. Section 4. Notice.- Notice of a motion shall be served by the movant to all parties
They do not contain a copy of the summons allegedly served on the petitioner and its concerned, at least three (3) days before the hearing thereof, together with a copy of
corresponding proof of service. Furthermore, private respondent never rebutted the motion. For good cause shown, the motion may be heard on shorter notice,
petitioners repeated assertion that he was not properly notified of the petition for his especially on matters which the Commission or the Division may dispose of on its own
disqualification because he never received summons.71[71] Petitioner claims that motion.
prior to receiving a telegraphed Order from the COMELEC Second Division on May
22, 2001, directing the District Board of Canvassers to suspend his proclamation, he
The notice shall be directed to the parties concerned and shall state the time and
was never summoned nor furnished a copy of the petition for his disqualification. He
place of the hearing of the motion.
was able to obtain a copy of the petition and the May 22 Order of the COMELEC
Second Division by personally going to the COMELEC Regional Office on May 23,
2001. Thus, he was able to file his Answer to the disqualification case only on May 24, Section 5. Proof of Service.- No motion shall be acted upon by the Commission
2001. without proof of service of notice thereof, except when the Commission or a Division is
satisfied that the rights of the adverse party or parties are not affected.
More, the proclamation of the petitioner was suspended in gross violation of section
72 of the Omnibus Election Code which provides: Respondents Most Urgent Motion does not fall under the exceptions to notice and
service of motions. First, the suspension of proclamation of a winning candidate is not
a matter which the COMELEC Second Division can dispose of motu proprio. Section 6
Sec. 72. Effects of disqualification cases and priority.- The Commission and the courts
of R.A. No. 664673[73] requires that the suspension must be upon motion by the
shall give priority to cases of disqualification by reason of violation of this Act to the
complainant or any intervenor, viz:
end that a final decision shall be rendered not later than seven days before the
election in which the disqualification is sought.
Section 6. Effect of Disqualification Case.- Any candidate who has been declared by
final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall
Any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be disqualified shall not be
not be counted. If for any reason, a candidate is not declared by final judgment before
voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be counted. Nevertheless, if for any
an election to be disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of
reason, a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be
votes in such election, the Court or Commission (COMELEC) shall continue with
disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in
the trial or hearing of the action, inquiry, or protest and, upon motion of the
such election, his violation of the provisions of the preceding sections shall not
complainant or any intervenor, may during the pendency thereof order the
prevent his proclamation and assumption to office. (emphases supplied)
suspension of the proclamation of such candidate whenever the evidence of his
guilt is strong. (emphases supplied)
In the instant case, petitioner has not been disqualified by final judgment when the
elections were conducted on May 14, 2001. The Regional Election Director has yet to
Second, the right of an adverse party, in this case, the petitioner, is clearly affected.
conduct hearing on the petition for his disqualification. After the elections, petitioner
Given the lack of service of the Most Urgent Motion to the petitioner, said Motion is a
was voted in office by a wide margin of 17,903. On May 16, 2001, however,
respondent Locsin filed a Most Urgent Motion for the suspension of petitioners
proclamation. The Most Urgent Motion contained a statement to the effect that a copy
was served to the petitioner through registered mail. The records reveal that no
registry receipt was attached to prove such service.72[72] This violates COMELEC
Rules of Procedure requiring notice and service of the motion to all parties, viz:
45

mere scrap of paper.74[74] It cannot be acted upon by the COMELEC Second All throughout the proceeding, no hearing was conducted on the petition for
Division. disqualification in gross violation of section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 which specifically
enjoins the COMELEC to continue with the trial or hearing of the action, inquiry,
or protest. This is also in violation of COMELEC Resolution No. 3402 requiring the
On May 18, 2001 at exactly 5:00 p.m.,75[75] respondent Locsin filed a Second Most
Regional Election Director to complete the hearing and reception of evidence
Urgent Motion for the suspension of petitioners proclamation. Petitioner was served a
within ten (10) days from the filing of the Answer, and to submit his findings, reports,
copy of the Second Motion again by registered mail. A registry receipt76[76] was
and recommendations within the five (5) days from completion of the hearing and the
attached evidencing service of the Second Most Urgent Motion to the petitioner but it
reception of evidence.
does not appear when the petitioner received a copy thereof. That same day, the
COMELEC Second Division issued an Order suspending the proclamation of
petitioner. Clearly, the petitioner was not given any opportunity to contest the Petitioner filed a Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension of his proclamation on May
allegations contained in the petition for disqualification. The Order was issued on the 25, 2001. Although an oral argument on this Motion was held, and the parties were
very same day the Second Most Urgent Motion was filed. The petitioner could not allowed to file their respective memoranda, the Motion was not acted upon. Instead,
have received the Second Most Urgent Motion, let alone answer the same on time as the COMELEC Second Division issued a Resolution on the petition for disqualification
he was served a copy thereof by registered mail. against the petitioner. It was based on the following evidence: (a) the affidavits
attached to the Petition for Disqualification; (b) the affidavits attached to the Answer;
and (c) the respective memoranda of the parties.
Under section 6 of R.A. No. 6646, the COMELEC can suspend proclamation only
when evidence of the winning candidates guilt is strong. In the case at bar, the
COMELEC Second Division did not make any specific finding that evidence of On this score, it bears emphasis that the hearing for Motion to Lift the Order of
petitioners guilt is strong. Its only basis in suspending the proclamation of the Suspension cannot be substituted for the hearing in the disqualification case. Although
petitioner is the seriousness of the allegations in the petition for disqualification. intrinsically linked, it is not to be supposed that the evidence of the parties in the main
Pertinent portion of the Order reads: disqualification case are the same as those in the Motion to Lift the Order of
Suspension. The parties may have other evidence which they may deem proper to
present only on the hearing for the disqualification case. Also, there may be evidence
Without giving due course to the petition xxx the Commission (2nd Division), pursuant
which are unavailable during the hearing for the Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension
to Section 72 of the Omnibus Election Code in relation to Section 6, Republic Act No.
but which may be available during the hearing for the disqualification case.
6646 xxx and considering the serious allegations in the petition, hereby directs
the Provincial Board of Canvassers of Leyte to suspend the proclamation of
respondent, if winning, until further orders.77[77] (emphases supplied) In the case at bar, petitioner asserts that he submitted his Memorandum merely to
support his Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension. It was not intended to answer and
refute the disqualification case against him. This submission was sustained by the
We hold that absent any finding that the evidence on the guilt of the petitioner is
COMELEC en banc. Hence, the members of the COMELEC en banc concluded, upon
strong, the COMELEC Second Division gravely abused its power when it suspended
consideration of the additional affidavits attached in his Urgent Manifestation, that the
his proclamation.
evidence to disqualify the petitioner was insufficient. More specifically, the ponente of
the challenged Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division held:
(b) The COMELEC Second Division did not give ample opportunity to the
petitioner to adduce evidence in support of his defense in the petition for his
Indeed, I find from the records that the May 30, 2001 hearing of the COMELEC
disqualification.
(Second Division) concerns only the incident relating to the Motion to Lift Order of
Suspension of Proclamation. It also appears that the order for the submission of the
46

parties respective memoranda was in lieu of the parties oral argument on the motion. Worse, the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division, even without the evidence
This would explain the fact that Codillas Memorandum refers mainly to the validity of coming from the petitioner, failed to prove the gravamen of the offense for which he
the issuance of the order of suspension of proclamation. There is, however, no record was charged.82[82]
of any hearing on the urgent motion for the suspension of proclamation. Indeed, it
was only upon the filing of the Urgent Manifestation by Codilla that the Members
Petitioner allegedly violated section 68 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code which reads:
of the Commission (Second Division) and other Members of the Commission en
banc had the opportunity to consider Codillas affidavits. This time, Codilla was
able to present his side, thus, completing the presentation of evidentiary Section 68. Disqualifications.- Any candidate who, in action or protest in which he is a
documents from both sides.78[78] (emphases supplied) party is declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of, or found by the
Commission of having (a) given money or other material consideration to influence,
induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing official functions, xxx shall be
Indeed, careful reading of the petitioners Memorandum shows that he confined his
disqualified from continuing as candidate, or if he has been elected, from holding
arguments in support of his Motion to Lift the Order of Suspension. In said
office
Memorandum, petitioner raised the following issues: (a) he was utterly deprived of
procedural due process, and consequently, the order suspending his proclamation is
null and void; (b) the said order of suspension of proclamation has no legal and factual To be disqualified under the above-quoted provision, the following elements must be
basis; and (c) evidence of guilt on his part is patently inexistent for the purpose of proved: (a) the candidate, personally or through his instructions, must have given
directing the suspension of his proclamation.79[79] He urged the COMELEC Second money or other material consideration; and (b) the act of giving money or other
Division to conduct a full dress hearing on the main disqualification case should the material consideration must be for the purpose of influencing, inducing, or corrupting
suspension be lifted.80[80] the voters or public officials performing electoral functions.

(c) the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division disqualifying the petitioner In the case at bar, the petition for disqualification alleged that (a) petitioner ordered the
is not based on substantial evidence. extraction, hauling and distribution of gravel and sand, and (b) his purpose was to
induce and influence the voters of Kananga and Matag-ob, Leyte to vote for him.
Pertinent portion of the petition reads:
The Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division cannot be considered to be based
on substantial evidence. It relied merely on affidavits of witnesses attached to the
petition for disqualification. As stressed, the COMELEC Second Division gave [T]he respondent [herein petitioner], within the election period, took advantage of his
credence to the affidavits without hearing the affiants. In reversing said Resolution, the current elective position as City Mayor of Ormoc City by illegally and unlawfully using
COMELEC en banc correctly observed: during the prohibited period, public equipments and vehicles belonging to and owned
by the City Government of Ormoc City in extracting, hauling and distributing gravel
and sand to the residents and voters of the Municipalities of Kananga and Matag-ob
Lacking evidence of Codilla, the Commission (Second Division) made its decisions
Leyte, well within the territorial limits of the 4th Congressional District of Leyte, which
based mainly on the allegation of the petitioner and the supporting affidavits. With this
acts were executed without period, and clearly for the illicit purpose of unduly inducing
lopsided evidence at hand, the result was predictable. The Commission (Second
or directly corrupting various voters of Kananga and Matag-ob, within the 4th legislative
Division) had no choice. Codilla was disqualified.81[81]
district of Leyte, for the precise purpose of inducing and influencing the
47

voters/beneficiaries of Kananga and Matag-ob, Leyte to cast their votes for said who ordered this and the property is owned by the family of Mayor Codilla. We were to
respondent.83[83] deliver sand and gravel to whoever requests from Mayor Codilla.86[86]

The affidavits relied upon by the COMELEC Second Division failed to prove these Similarly, the Affidavit of Basilio Bates cannot prove the offense charged against the
allegations. For instance, Cesar A. Laurente merely stated that he saw three (3) ten- petitioner. He alleged that on April 18, 2001, a white truck with the marking City
wheeler dump trucks and a Hyundai Payloader with the markings Ormoc City Government of Ormoc came to his lot at Montebello, Kananga, Leyte and unloaded
Government extracting and hauling sand and gravel from the riverbed adjacent to the mixed sand and that the driver of the truck told him to vote for Codilla as a (sic)
property owned by the Codilla family.84[84] congressman during election.87[87] His statement is hearsay. He has no personal
knowledge of the supposed order of the petitioner to distribute gravel and sand for the
purpose of inducing the voters to vote for him. The same could be said about the
Agripino C. Alferez and Rogelio T. Sulvera in their Joint Affidavit merely stated that
affidavits of Randy T. Merin,88[88] Alfredo C. De la Pea,89[89] Miguel P.
they saw white trucks owned by the City Government of Ormoc dumping gravel and
Pandac,90[90] Paquito Bregeldo, Cristeta Alferez , Glicerio Rios,91[91] Romulo
sand on the road of Purok 6, San Vicente, Matag-ob, Leyte. A payloader then
scattered the sand and gravel unloaded by the white trucks.85[85]

On the other hand, Danilo D. Maglasang, a temporary employee of the City


Government of Ormoc assigned to check and record the delivery of sand and gravel
for the different barangays in Ormoc, stated as follows:

3. That on April 20, 2001, I was ordered by Engr. Arnel Padayo, an employee of the
City Engineering Office, Ormoc City to go to Tagaytay, Kangga (sic), Leyte as that will
be the source of the sand and gravel. I inquired why we had to go to Kananga but
Engr. Padayao said that its not a problem as it was Mayor Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr.
48

Alkuino, Sr.,92[92] Abner Casas,93[93] Rita Trangia,94[94] and Judith Erispe95[95] agencies including government-owned or controlled corporations, or by the Armed
attached to respondent Locsins Memorandum on the Motion to Lift the Suspension of Forces of the Philippines for any election campaign or for any partisan political activity
Proclamation. x x x.

Also valueless are the affidavits of other witnesses96[96] of respondent Locsin, all However, the jurisdiction of the COMELEC to disqualify candidates is limited to those
similarly worded, which alleged that the petitioner ordered the repair of the road in enumerated in section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code. All other election offenses
Purok 6, Barangay San Vicente, Matag-ob, Leyte and the flattening of the area where are beyond the ambit of COMELEC jurisdiction.97[97] They are criminal and not
the cockfights were to be held. These allegations are extraneous to the charge in the administrative in nature. Pursuant to sections 265 and 268 of the Omnibus Election
petition for disqualification. More importantly, these allegations do not constitute a Code, the power of the COMELEC is confined to the conduct of preliminary
ground to disqualify the petitioner based on section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code. investigation on the alleged election offenses for the purpose of prosecuting the
alleged offenders before the regular courts of justice, viz:
To be sure, the petition for disqualification also ascribed other election offenses
against the petitioner, particularly section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, viz: Section 265. Prosecution.- The Commission shall, through its duly authorized legal
officers, have the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election
offenses punishable under this Code, and to prosecute the same. The Commission
Section 261. Prohibited Acts.- The following shall be guilty of an election offense:
may avail of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government: Provided,
however, That in the event that the Commission fails to act on any complaint within
(a) Vote-buying and vote-selling.- (1) Any person who gives, offers or promises money four months from his filing, the complainant may file the complaint with the office of the
or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, fiscal or with the Ministry of Justice for proper investigation and prosecution, if
public or private, or make or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or warranted.
cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity or
community in order to induce anyone or the public in general, to vote for or against
xxx xxx xxx
any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant
for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process
of a political party. Section 268. Jurisdiction.- The regional trial court shall have the exclusive original
jurisdiction to try and decide any criminal action or proceeding for violation of this
Code, except those relating to the offense of failure to register or failure to vote which
xxx xxx xxx
shall be under the jurisdictions of metropolitan or municipal trial courts. From the
decision of the courts, appeal will lie as in other criminal cases.
(o) Use of public funds, money deposited in trust, equipment, facilities owned or
controlled by the government for an election campaign.- Any person who uses under
any guise whatsoever directly or indirectly, xxx (3) any equipment, vehicle, facility,
apparatus, or paraphernalia owned by the government or by its political subdivisions,
49

The COMELEC Second Division grievously erred when it decided the disqualification petitioner as stray, and on this basis, proclaim the respondent as having garnered the
case based on section 261 (a) and (o), and not on section 68 of the Omnibus Election next highest number of votes.
Code.
(a) The order of disqualification is not yet final, hence, the votes cast in favor of
(d) Exclusion of the votes in favor of the petitioner and the proclamation of the petitioner cannot be considered stray.
respondent Locsin was done with undue haste.
Section 6 of R.A. No. 6646 and section 72 of the Omnibus Election Code require a
The COMELEC Second Division ordered the exclusion of the votes cast in favor of the final judgment before the election for the votes of a disqualified candidate to be
petitioner, and the proclamation of the respondent Locsin, without affording the considered stray. Hence, when a candidate has not yet been disqualified by final
petitioner the opportunity to challenge the same. In the morning of June 15, 2001, the judgment during the election day and was voted for, the votes cast in his favor cannot
Provincial Board of Canvassers convened, and on the strength of the said Resolution be declared stray. To do so would amount to disenfranchising the electorate in whom
excluding the votes received by the petitioner, certified that respondent Locsin sovereignty resides.99[99] For in voting for a candidate who has not been disqualified
received the highest number of votes. On this basis, respondent Locsin was by final judgment during the election day, the people voted for him bona fide, without
proclaimed. any intention to misapply their franchise, and in the honest belief that the candidate
was then qualified to be the person to whom they would entrust the exercise of the
powers of government.100[100]
Records reveal that the petitioner received notice of the Resolution of the COMELEC
Second Division only through his counsel via a facsimile message in the afternoon of
June 15, 200198[98] when everything was already fait accompli. Undoubtedly, he was This principle applies with greater force in the case at bar considering that the
not able to contest the issuance of the Certificate of Canvass and the proclamation of petitioner has not been declared by final judgment to be disqualified not only
respondent Locsin. This is plain and simple denial of due process. before but even after the elections. The Resolution of the COMELEC Second
Division disqualifying the petitioner did not attain finality, and hence, could not be
executed, because of the timely filing of a Motion for Reconsideration. Section 13,
The essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. When a party is deprived
Rule 18 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure on Finality of Decisions and
of that basic fairness, any decision by any tribunal in prejudice of his rights is void.
Resolutions reads:

Second. The votes cast in favor of the petitioner cannot be considered stray and
Sec. 13. Finality of Decisions or Resolutions.- (a) In ordinary actions, special
respondent cannot be validly proclaimed on that basis.
proceedings, provisional remedies and special reliefs, a decision or resolution of the
Commission en banc shall become final and executory after thirty (30) days from its
The Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division in SPA No. 01-208 contains two promulgation.
dispositions: (1) it ruled that the petitioner was disqualified as a candidate for the
position of Congressman of the Fourth District of Leyte; and (2) it ordered the
(b) In Special Actions and Special Cases a decision or resolution of the
immediate proclamation of the candidate who garnered the highest number of votes,
Commission en banc shall become final and executory after five (5) days in
to the exclusion of the respondent [herein petitioner].
Special Actions and Special Cases and after fifteen (15) days in all other
proceedings, following their promulgation.
As previously stated, the disqualification of the petitioner is null and void for being
violative of due process and for want of substantial factual basis. Even assuming,
(c) Unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed, a decision or
however, that the petitioner was validly disqualified, it is still improper for the
resolution of a Division shall become final and executory after the
COMELEC Second Division to order the immediate exclusion of votes cast for the
lapse of five (5) days in Special Actions and Special Cases and after
50

fifteen (15) days in all other actions or proceedings, following its (4) the decision or resolution of the En Banc on nuisance candidates,
promulgation. (emphasis supplied) particularly whether the nuisance candidate has the same name as
the bona fide candidate shall be immediately executory;
In this wise, COMELEC Resolution No. 4116,101[101] issued in relation to the finality
of resolutions or decisions in disqualification cases, provides: (5) the decision or resolution of a DIVISION on nuisance candidate,
particularly where the nuisance candidate has the same name as the
bona fide candidate shall be immediately executory after the lapse of
This pertains to the finality of decisions or resolutions of the Commission en banc or
five (5) days unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed.
division, particularly on Special Actions (Disqualification Cases).
In which case, the votes cast shall not be considered stray but shall
be counted and tallied for the bona fide candidate.
Special Action cases refer to the following:
All resolutions, orders and rules inconsistent herewith are hereby modified or
(a) Petition to deny due course to a certificate of candidacy; repealed.

(b) Petition to declare a candidate as a nuisance candidate; Considering the timely filing of a Motion for Reconsideration, the COMELEC Second
Division gravely abused its discretion in ordering the immediate disqualification of the
petitioner and ordering the exclusion of the votes cast in his favor. Section 2, Rule 19
(c) Petition to disqualify a candidate; and of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure is very clear that a timely Motion for
Reconsideration shall suspend the execution or implementation of the resolution, viz:
(d) Petition to postpone or suspend an election.
Section 2. Period for filing Motion for Reconsideration.- A motion to reconsider a
Considering the foregoing and in order to guide field officials on the finality of decision, resolution, order, or ruling of a Division shall be filed within five (5) days from
decisions or resolutions on special action cases (disqualification cases) the the promulgation thereof. Such motion, if not pro forma, suspends the execution
Commission, RESOLVES, as it is hereby RESOLVED, as follows: or implementation of the decision, resolution, order or ruling. (emphases
supplied)
(1) the decision or resolution of the En Banc of the Commission on
disqualification cases shall become final and executory after five (5) (b) Respondent Locsin, as a mere second placer, cannot be proclaimed.
days from its promulgation unless restrained by the Supreme Court;
More brazen is the proclamation of respondent Locsin which violates the settled
(2) the decision or resolution of a Division on disqualification cases shall doctrine that the candidate who obtains the second highest number of votes may not
become final and executory after the lapse of five (5) days unless a be proclaimed winner in case the winning candidate is disqualified.102[102] In every
motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed; election, the peoples choice is the paramount consideration and their expressed will
must at all times be given effect. When the majority speaks and elects into office a
candidate by giving him the highest number of votes cast in the election for the office,
(3) where the ground for disqualification case is by reason of non-
residence, citizenship, violation of election laws and other analogous
cases and on the day of the election the resolution has not become
final and executory the BEI shall tally and count the votes for such
disqualified candidate;
51

no one can be declared elected in his place.103[103] In Domino v. This contention is without merit. In the recent case of Trinidad v. COMELEC,107[107]
COMELEC,104[104] this Court ruled, viz: this Court ruled that the effect of a judgment disqualifying a candidate, after winning
the election, based on personal circumstances or section 68 of the Omnibus Election
Code is the same: the second placer could not take the place of the disqualified
It would be extremely repugnant to the basic concept of the constitutionally
winner.
guaranteed right to suffrage if a candidate who has not acquired the majority or
plurality of votes is proclaimed winner and imposed as representative of a
constituency, the majority of which have positively declared through their ballots that II
they do not choose him. To simplistically assume that the second placer would have Whether the proclamation of respondent Locsin divested the COMELEC en banc of
received that (sic) other votes would be to substitute our judgment for the mind of the jurisdiction to review its validity.
voters. He could not be considered the first among the qualified candidates because in
a field which excludes the qualified candidate, the conditions would have substantially
Respondent Locsin submits that the COMELEC en banc has no jurisdiction to annul
changed.
her proclamation. She maintains that the COMELEC en banc was been divested of
jurisdiction to review the validity of her proclamation because she has become a
xxx xxx xxx member of the House of Representatives. Thus, she contends that the proper forum to
question her membership to the House of Representatives is the House of
Representative Electoral Tribunal (HRET).
The effect of a decision declaring a person ineligible to hold an office is only that the
election fails entirely, that the wreath of victory cannot be transferred from the
disqualified winner to the repudiated loser because the law then as now only We find no merit in these contentions.
authorizes a declaration in favor of the person who has obtained a plurality of votes,
and does not entitle the candidate receiving the next highest number of votes to be
First. The validity of the respondents proclamation was a core issue in the
declared elected. In such case, the electors have failed to make a choice and the
Motion for Reconsideration seasonably filed by the petitioner.
election is a nullity. To allow the defeated and repudiated candidate to take over the
elective position despite his rejection by the electorate is to disenfranchise the
electorate without any fault on their part and to undermine the importance and In his timely Motion for Reconsideration with the COMELEC en banc, petitioner
meaning of democracy and the peoples right to elect officials of their choice.105[105] argued that the COMELEC Second Division erred thus:

Respondent Locsin proffers a distinction between a disqualification based on personal (1) in disqualifying petitioner on the basis solely of the dubious declaration
circumstances such as age, residence or citizenship and disqualification based on of the witnesses for respondent Locsin;
election offenses. She contends that the election of candidates later disqualified based
on election offenses like those enumerated in section 68 of the Omnibus Election
Code should be invalidated because they violate the very essence of suffrage and as (2) in adopting in toto the allegations of the witnesses for respondent
such, the votes cast in his favor should not be considered.106[106] Locsin; and
52

(3) in promulgating the resolution in violation of its own rules of Section 3. Form and Contents of Motion for Reconsideration.- The motion shall be
procedure and in directing therein the immediate proclamation verified and shall point out specifically the findings or conclusions of the decision,
of the second highest vote getter. (emphases supplied) resolution, order or ruling which are not supported by the evidence or which are
contrary to law, making express reference to the testimonial or documentary evidence
or to the provisions of law alleged to be contrary to such findings or resolutions.
In support of his third assignment of error, petitioner argued that the Second Divisions
directive for the immediate proclamation of the second highest vote-getter is
premature considering that the Resolution has yet to become final and Section 4. Effect of Motion for Reconsideration on Period to Appeal.- A motion to
executory.108[108] Clearly, the validity of respondent Locsins proclamation was made reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling when not pro forma, suspends the
a central issue in the Motion for Reconsideration seasonably filed by the petitioner. running of the period to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court.
Without doubt, the COMELEC en banc has the jurisdiction to rule on the issue.
Section 5. How Motion for Reconsideration Disposed Of.- Upon the filing of a motion
The fact that the Petition for Nullity of Proclamation was filed directly with the to reconsider a decision, resolution, order or ruling of a Division, the Clerk of Court
COMELEC en banc is of no moment. Even without said Petition, the COMELEC en concerned shall, within twenty-four (24) hours from the filing thereof, notify the
banc could still rule on the nullity of respondents proclamation because it was properly Presiding Commissioner. The latter shall within two (2) days thereafter certify the case
raised in the Motion for Reconsideration. to the Commission en banc.

Section 3, Article IX-C of the 1987 Constitution empowers the COMELEC en banc to Section 6. Duty of the Clerk of Court of the Commission to set Motion for Hearing.-
review, on motion for reconsideration, decisions or resolutions decided by a division, The Clerk of Court concerned shall calendar the motion for reconsideration for the
viz: resolution of the Commission en banc within ten (10) days from the certification
thereof. (emphases supplied)
Sec. 3. The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in two divisions, and shall
promulgate its rules of procedure in order to expedite disposition of election cases, Since the petitioner seasonably filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Order of the
including pre-proclamation controversies. All such election cases shall be heard and Second Division suspending his proclamation and disqualifying him, the COMELEC
decided in division, provided that motions for reconsideration of decision shall be en banc was not divested of its jurisdiction to review the validity of the said Order of
decided by the Commission en banc. the Second Division. The said Order of the Second Division was yet unenforceable as
it has not attained finality; the timely filing of the motion for reconsideration suspends
its execution. It cannot, thus, be used as the basis for the assumption in office of the
Pursuant to this Constitutional mandate, the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides:
respondent as the duly elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte.

Rule 19. Motions for Reconsideration.-


Second. It is the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) which has
no jurisdiction in the instant case.
Section 1. Grounds for Motion for Reconsideration.- A motion for reconsideration may
be filed on the grounds that the evidence is insufficient to justify the decision, order or
Respondent contends that having been proclaimed and having taken oath as
ruling, or that the said decision, order or ruling is contrary to law.
representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte, any question relative to her
election and eligibility should be brought before the HRET pursuant to section 17 of
Section 2. Period for filing Motion for Reconsideration.- A motion to reconsider a Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.109[109]
decision, resolution, order, or ruling of a Division shall be filed within five (5) days from
the promulgation thereof. Such motion, if not pro forma, suspends the execution
We reject respondents contention.
or implementation of the decision, resolution, order or ruling.
53

(a) The issue on the validity of the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division was void from the beginning. It is the height of absurdity for the respondent, as a loser,
has not yet been resolved by the COMELEC en banc. to tell petitioner Codilla, Sr., the winner, to unseat her via a quo warranto proceeding.

To stress again, at the time of the proclamation of respondent Locsin, the validity of III
the Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division was seasonably challenged by the Whether it is the ministerial duty of the public respondents to
petitioner in his Motion for Reconsideration. The issue was still within the exclusive recognize petitioner Codilla, Sr. as the legally elected Representative
jurisdiction of the COMELEC en banc to resolve. Hence, the HRET cannot assume of the 4th legislative district of Leyte vice respondent Locsin.
jurisdiction over the matter.
Under Rule 65, section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, any person may file a
In Puzon vs. Cua,110[110] even the HRET ruled that the doctrinal ruling that once a verified petition for mandamus when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person
proclamation has been made and a candidate-elect has assumed office, it is this unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a
Tribunal that has jurisdiction over an election contest involving members of the House duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the
of Representatives, could not have been immediately applicable due to the issue use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and there is no
regarding the validity of the very COMELEC pronouncements themselves. This other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.112[112] For a
is because the HRET has no jurisdiction to review resolutions or decisions of the petition for mandamus to prosper, it must be shown that the subject of the petition for
COMELEC, whether issued by a division or en banc. mandamus is a ministerial act or duty, and not purely discretionary on the part of
the board, officer or person, and that the petitioner has a well-defined, clear and
certain right to warrant the grant thereof.
(b) The instant case does not involve the election and qualification of
respondent Locsin.
The distinction between a ministerial and discretionary act is well delineated. A purely
ministerial act or duty is one which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of
Respondent Locsin maintains that the proper recourse of the petitioner is to file a
facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, without
petition for quo warranto with the HRET.
regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the
act done. If the law imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives him the right to
A petition for quo warranto may be filed only on the grounds of ineligibility and decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such duty is discretionary and not
disloyalty to the Republic of the Philippines.111[111] In the case at bar, neither the ministerial. The duty is ministerial only when the discharge of the same requires
eligibility of the respondent Locsin nor her loyalty to the Republic of the Philippines is neither the exercise of official discretion or judgment.113[113]
in question. There is no issue that she was qualified to run, and if she won, to assume
office.
In the case at bar, the administration of oath and the registration of the petitioner in the
Roll of Members of the House of Representatives representing the 4th legislative
A petition for quo warranto in the HRET is directed against one who has been duly district of Leyte is no longer a matter of discretion on the part of the public
elected and proclaimed for having obtained the highest number of votes but whose respondents. The facts are settled and beyond dispute: petitioner garnered 71,350
eligibility is in question at the time of such proclamation. It is evident that respondent votes as against respondent Locsin who only got 53, 447 votes in the May 14, 2001
Locsin cannot be the subject of quo warranto proceeding in the HRET. She lost the elections. The COMELEC Second Division initially ordered the proclamation of
elections to the petitioner by a wide margin. Her proclamation was a patent nullity. Her respondent Locsin; on Motion for Reconsideration the COMELEC en banc set aside
premature assumption to office as Representative of the 4th legislative district of Leyte the order of its Second Division and ordered the proclamation of the petitioner. The
54

Decision of the COMELEC en banc has not been challenged before this Court by MARIE G. GUTIERREZ, NICANOR F. VILLAROSA, JR., MARIE SUE F. CUAL,
respondent Locsin and said Decision has become final and executory. MIRAMICHI MAJELLA B. MARIOT, ALMA F. RAMIREZ, ANTOLIN D. ZAMAR, JR.,
MARIO S. ALILING, TEODULO SALVORO, JR., PHILIP JANSON ALTAMARINO,
ANTONIETTA PADURA, ADOLFO R. CORNELIA, IAN RYAN PATULA, WILLIAM
In sum, the issue of who is the rightful Representative of the 4th legislative district of
TANOY, VICTOR ARBAS, JEANITH CUAL, BRAULIO SAYSON, DAWN M.
Leyte has been finally settled by the COMELEC en banc, the constitutional body with
VILLAROSA, AGUSTIN A. RENDOQUE, ENRIQUETA TUMONGHA, LIONEL P.
jurisdiction on the matter. The rule of law demands that its Decision be obeyed by
BANOGON, ROSALITO VERGANTINOS, MARIO T. CUAL, JR., ELAINE MAY
all officials of the land. There is no alternative to the rule of law except the reign
TUMONGHA, NORMAN F. VILLAROSA, RICARDO C. PATULA, RACHEL
of chaos and confusion.
BANAGUA, RODOLFO A. CALUGCUGAN, PERGENTINO CUAL, BERNARD J.
OZOA, ROGER JOHN AROMIN, CHERYL E. NOCETE, MARIVIC SANCHEZ,
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Petition for Mandamus is granted. Public Speaker of the CRISPIN DURAN, REBCO LINGCONG, ANNA LEE ESTRABELA, MELCHOR B.
House of Representatives shall administer the oath of petitioner EUFROCINO M. MAQUILING, RAUL MOLAS, OSCAR KINIKITO, DARWIN B. CONEJOS, ROMEL
CODILLA, SR., as the duly-elected Representative of the 4th legislative district of CUAL, ROQUETA AMOR, DISODADO LAJATO, PAUL PINO, LITO PINERO,
Leyte. Public respondent Secretary-General shall likewise register the name of the RODULFO ZOSA, JR. and JORGE ARBOLADO, Petitioners,
petitioner in the Roll of Members of the House of Representatives after he has taken vs.
his oath of office. This decision shall be immediately executory. CITY OF DUMAGUETE, represented by City Mayor Agustin Perdices, Dominador
Dumalag, Jr., Erlinda Tumongha, Josephine Mae Flores and Araceli Campos,
Respondents.
SO ORDERED.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This Petition assails the Decision1 dated 27 March 2007 and Order dated 26 April
2007 of Branch 41 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dumaguete City, Negros
Oriental, dismissing Civil Case No. 13013.

Petitioners were all bona fide employees of the City Government of Dumaguete. They
were appointed to various positions by City Mayor Felipe Antonio B. Remollo, Jr.
(Remollo) sometime in June 2001, shortly before the end of his term. The details on
petitioners’ appointments are summarized below2 :

Name of Appointee Previous Position Present Position Date of


Appointme

1. Leah M. Nazareno Legal Researcher Asst. Dept. Head I June 7, 200

2. Carlo M. Cual Legislative Staff Legislative Staff Officer III June 5, 200
Officer I

3. Rogelio B. Clamonte Public Services Supply Officer IV June 5, 200

4. Florecita Llosa Supply Officer I Records Officer II June 11, 20


G.R. No. 177795 June 19, 2009
5. Rogelio S. Villarubia Agriculturist II Agriculturist III June 5, 200

LEAH M. NAZARENO, CARLO M. CUAL, ROGELIO B. CLAMONTE, FLORECITA


M. LLOSA, ROGELIO S. VILLARUBIA, RICARDO M. GONZALES, JR., ROSSEL
55

6. Rossel Marie G. Gutierrez Casual/Plantilla Supervising June 5, 200131. Rachel Banagua Casual/Plantilla Utility Worker I June 5, 200
Environmental
Management Specialist 32. Rodolfo Calugcugan Job Order Driver I June 7, 200

7. Nicanor F. Villarosa, Jr. Casual/Plantilla Dentist II June 5, 200133. Pergentino Cual Job Order Metro Aide II June 11, 20

8. Marie Sue Cual Casual/Plantilla Social Welfare Officer I June 7, 200134. Bernard Ozoa Job Order Utility Worker I June 7, 200

9. Miramichi Majella B. Mariot Casual/Plantilla Records Officer II June 7, 200135. Roger J. Aromin Job Order Utility Worker I June 7, 200

10. Alma F. Ramirez Casual/Plantilla Clerk IV June 7, 200136. Cheryl Nocete Job Order Utility Worker I June 11, 20

11. Antolin D. Zamar, Jr. Casual/Plantilla Metro Aide II 37. Marivic Sanchez
June 11, 2001 Job Order Utility Worker I June 11, 20

12. Mario S. Aliling Casual/Plantilla Driver II June 5, 200138. Crispin Duran Job Order Metro Aide II June 11, 20

13. Teodulo Salvoro, Jr. Casual/Plantilla Metro Aide II June 5, 200139. Rebeco Lingcong Job Order Metro Aide II June 5, 200

14. Philip Janson Altamarino Casual/Plantilla Clerk I June 5, 200140. Anna Lee Estrabela Job Order Cash Clerk III June 5, 200

15. Antonieta Padura Casual/Plantilla Metro Aide II 41. Melchor Maquiling


June 11, 2001 Job Order Engineer I June 7, 200

16. Adolfo Cornelia Casual/Plantilla Metro Aide II 42. Raul Molas


June 11, 2001 Job Order Construction and June 7, 200
Maintenance Foreman
17. Ian Ryan Patula Casual/Plantilla Metro Aide II June 7, 2001
43. Oscar Kinikito Job Order Electrician II June 7, 200
18. William Tanoy Casual/Plantilla Metro Aide II June 5, 2001
44. Darwin Conejos Job Order Engineering Aide June 7, 200
19. Victor Arbas Casual/Plantilla Public Services Foreman June 7, 2001
45. Romel Cual Job Order Metro Aide II June 11, 20
20. Jeanith Cual Casual/Plantilla Utility Worker II June 5, 2001
46. Roqueta Amor Job Order Dental Aide June 5, 200
21.Braulio Sayson Casual/Plantilla Mechanical Plant June 7, 2001
Supervisor 47. Diosdado Lajato Job Order Pest Control Worker II June 5, 200

22. Dawn Villarosa Casual/Plantilla Clerk I June 7, 200148. Paul Pino Job Order Utility Worker II June 5, 200

23. Agustin Rendoque Casual/Plantilla Utility Worker I June 7, 200149. Lito Piñero Job Order Metro Aide II June 11, 20

24. Enriqueta Tumongha Casual/Plantilla Utility Worker II June 5, 200150. Rodulfo Zosa, Jr. Job Order Metro Aide II June 11, 20

25. Lionel Banogon Casual/Plantilla Clerk II June 5, 200151. Jorge Arbolado Job Order Traffic Aide I June 5, 200

26. Rosalito Vergantinos Casual/Plantilla Pest Control Worker II June 5, 200152. Ricardo M. Gonzales, Jr. OIC-General Asst. Dept. Head I June 5, 200
Services Officer
27. Mario Cual, Jr. Casual/Plantilla Utility Foreman June 7, 2001

28. Elaine Tumongha Casual/Plantilla Registration Officer I June


On 211, 2001
July 2001, newly elected City Mayor Agustin Perdices (Perdices) announced
during the flag ceremony held at the City Hall that he was not recognizing the
29. Norman Villarosa Casual/Plantilla Utility Worker I June 5, 2001
appointments made by former Mayor Remollo. Thereafter, (1) City Administrator
30. Ricardo C. Patula Casual/Plantilla Revenue Collection Clerk Dominador
June 5, 2001Dumalag, Jr. (Dumalag) issued a Memorandum dated 2 July 2001
I directing Assistant City Treasurer Erlinda Tumongha (Tumongha) to "refrain from
making any disbursements, particularly payments for salary differential[s]" to those
given promotional appointments by former Mayor Remollo, which included several of
56

the petitioners; (2) several of the petitioners, who were engaged on "casual basis" or invalidates and revokes these appointments mentioned therein led by Ms. Dolores
"job order basis," prior to their appointment to permanent positions by former Mayor Buncalan, Rev. Collection Clerk I and 14 others for the promotional appointments and
Remollo, were not given salary differentials and salaries for June and July 2001, Ms. Donna P. Aguilar as Clerk I and 73 others for the original appointments.
respectively; (3) several of the petitioners who were assigned to the slaughterhouse
were told not to report for work effective 1 August 2001; and (4) petitioners’ names
From the foregoing facts, several different cases arose.
were deleted from the list of employees of the City Government of Dumaguete.

The 1 August 2001 letter of CSC-FO Director II Abucejo


Thus, petitioners were constrained to file with the RTC on 1 August 2001 a Petition for
Mandamus with Injunction and Damages with Prayer for a Temporary Restraining
Order and Preliminary Injunction against respondents City Mayor Perdices and City When petitioners were furnished with a copy of CSC-FO Director Abucejo’s letter
Officers Dumalag, Tumongha, Josephine Mae Flores (Flores), and Araceli Campos dated 1 August 2001, they filed on 4 September 2001 with the CSC Regional Office
(Campos), representing the City of Dumaguete.3 The Petition was docketed as Civil (CSC-RO) No. VII, Cebu City, a Motion for Reconsideration of the same. The CSC-
Case No. 13013. RO promulgated a Decision on 21 September 2001 dismissing petitioners’ Motion on
the grounds that it should have been filed with the CSC-FO, which rendered the
judgment sought to be reconsidered. Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration of
Also on 1 August 2001, the same day petitioners instituted Civil Case No. 13013,
the Decision dated 21 September 2001 of the CSC-RO, requesting that petitioners’
Director II Fabio Abucejo (Abucejo) of the Civil Service Commission Field Office
earlier Motion for Reconsideration be treated as an appeal of CSC-FO Director
(CSC-FO), pursuant to CSC Memorandum No. 001374, invalidated and revoked the
Abucejo’s letter dated 1 August 2001. In a Decision dated 14 February 2002, the
appointments made by former Mayor Remollo in June 2001. He relayed his findings to
CSC-RO dismissed petitioners’ appeal and affirmed the invalidation of petitioners’
Mayor Perdices in a letter dated 1 August 2001. Pertinent portions of the 1 August
appointments. 5
2001 letter of CSC-FO Director Abucejo reads4 :

Petitioners elevated their case to the CSC Proper. On 23 August 2004, the CSC
1. There was a total of 15 promotional appointments and 74 original
issued Resolution No. 040932 dismissing petitioners’ appeal. The CSC acknowledged
appointments issued as reflected in the submitted ROPA for the month of
that generally, appeal of invalidated appointments should be made by the appointing
June 2001.
authority. However, since the term of Mayor Repollo, who actually appointed
petitioners, already ended, and there was a new incumbent Mayor, there could be no
2. There was only one (1) en banc meeting of the City Personnel Selection other person to file such an appeal except the appointees themselves. The CSC held
Board (PSB) held on June 5, 2001 to consider the number of appointments that a relaxation of the rules was proper in this case. Nevertheless, the CSC
thus issued, and there was no other call for PSB meeting certified by the considered petitioners’ appointments as "mass appointments" unnecessarily made by
City HRMO. an outgoing chief executive, which should be disapproved or invalidated, under Item
No. 3 of CSC Resolution No. 010988. Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration of
CSC Resolution No. 040932, but the same was denied by the CSC in Resolution No.
3. There were no minutes available on the deliberation of the PSB of the 89
050473 issued on 11 April 2005.6
appointments listed in the ROPA as certified by the HRMO.

Thereafter, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Review under Rule
4. There were no PSB statements certifying that there was actual screening
43 of the Revised Rules of Court, docketed as CA-G.R. CEB-S.P. No. 00665.7 In a
and evaluation done on all candidates for each position.
Decision dated 28 August 2007, the Court of Appeals affirmed CSC Resolutions No.
040932 and No. 050473, dated 23 August 2004 and 11 April 2005, respectively, being
5. The appointing officer of the 89 appointments was an outgoing local in accordance with CSC Resolution No. 010988, which provided rules and guidelines
official who lost during the May 14, 2001 elections for City Mayor of geared to prevent the nefarious practices of outgoing chief executives in making
Dumaguete City. appointments before, during, and/or after the regular local elections for ulterior
partisan motives. The Court of Appeals found that petitioners were appointed by
outgoing Mayor Remollo after the results of the May 2001 elections were already
6. The 89 appointments were all issued after the election and when the new
known, without any showing that there was a need for the issuance of these
mayor was about to assume office. appointments. Thus, the appellate court agreed with the CSC that Mayor Remollo
approved the questioned appointments in bad faith and in violation of CSC Resolution
In view of all the foregoing and since all the appointments involved indicated in the No. 010988.8
attached ROPA Audit Results, were issued in clear violation of the guidelines of CSC
MC No. 010988, this CSC Field Office has decided to invalidate as it hereby
57

Petitioners next filed an appeal before this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 181559, September 2001 was denied by the said trial court in another Order dated 17 January
raising the issue of whether petitioners’ appointments were valid.9 2002.15

Writ of preliminary injunction Petitioners assailed RTC Orders dated 26 September 2001 and 17 January 2002
before the Court of Appeals, in a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised
Rules of Court, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 70254.
In their Petition in Civil Case No. 13013, petitioners applied for the issuance by the
RTC of a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin respondents from further doing acts or
issuing orders nullifying petitioners’ appointments. 10 In the meantime, on 18 January 2002, the RTC ordered a contingent suspension of
the proceedings in Civil Case No. 13013 until after the Court of Appeals has resolved
CA-G.R. SP No. 70254.
After hearing the parties, the RTC issued an Order11 dated 3 August 2001 granting the
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction against respondents.
In a Decision dated 30 January 2004, the Court of Appeals denied petitioners’ Petition
in CA-G.R. SP No. 70254 and affirmed that Mayor Perdices alone had the locus standi
Respondents filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration of the 3 August 2001 Order
to elevate the matter of petitioners’ appointment to the CSC Proper. Since he failed to
of the RTC, invoking CSC-FO Director Abucejo’s letter dated 1 August 2001 which
exercise this prerogative by 16 August 2001, or 15 days after he received a copy of
invalidated and revoked petitioners’ appointments.
CSC-FO Director Abucejos’ letter dated 1 August 2001, the said letter became final
and executory. Thus, the RTC did not act with grave abuse of discretion when it
On 15 August 2001, the RTC denied respondents’ Urgent Motion for Reconsideration permanently lifted the writ of injunction against the respondents.16 The appellate court
of its 3 August 2001 Order, granting the writ of preliminary injunction in petitioners’ denied petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration in a Resolution dated 6 May 2005.
favor. The RTC upheld petitioners’ position that their appointments should continue to
remain effective since the afore-mentioned letter dated 1 August 2001 of CSC-FO
Unsatisfied, petitioners filed with this Court a Petition for Review on Certiorari under
Director Abucejo had not yet become final and executory. Mayor Perdices, the
Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, questioning the Decision and Resolution dated
appointing authority, still had 15 days to file a motion for reconsideration of the said
30 January 2004 and 6 May 2005, respectively, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
letter.12
No. 70254. The Petition was docketed as G.R. No. 168484. In a Decision dated 12
July 2007, the Court also affirmed the lifting by the RTC of the writ of preliminary
Subsequently, respondents filed with the RTC an Urgent Motion to Dismiss Civil Case injunction, but on grounds different from those relied upon by the Court of Appeals.
No. 13013, asserting that CSC-FO Director Abucejo’s letter dated 1 August 2001, The Court ruled that petitioners, as the appointees, are real parties-in-interest who can
which invalidated and revoked petitioners’ appointments, already attained finality on appeal the invalidation of their appointments. The Court noted that petitioners had, in
16 August 2001, without Mayor Perdices filing any motion for reconsideration of the fact, availed themselves of this remedy by successively appealing the invalidation and
same.13 revocation of their appointments by CSC-FO Director Abucejo to the CSC-RO, the
CSC Proper, and the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-S.P. No. 00665. Thus,
petitioners were given by law adequate remedies to protect their interests without
Petitioners vehemently opposed respondents’ Urgent Motion to Dismiss, arguing that need for the remedy of injunction. Petitioners specifically prayed for in their Petition in
former Mayor Remollo should be considered the appointing authority, and since he CA-G.R. CEB-S.P. No. 00665 that the invalidation of their appointments be stayed in
had not received a copy of the 1 August 2001 letter of CSC-FO Director Abucejo, the the interest of justice and equity, which was the same purpose to be served by the writ
15-day reglementary period for filing a motion for reconsideration of the same did not of preliminary injunction sought by petitioners in Civil Case No. 13013. The Court
commence. They also contended that CSC-FO Director Abucejo’s recommendations
cannot allow petitioners to seek the same relief in two forums, for it would constitute
on the appointments in question have not been approved by the CSC Proper. 14 forum shopping which is proscribed by the Rules of Court. 17

On 26 September 2001, the RTC issued an Order permanently lifting the writ of
Motion to declare respondents in default
preliminary injunction it earlier issued against the respondents. It held that the
"appointing power" who had personality to file a motion for reconsideration of the 1
August 2001 letter of CSC-FO Director Abucejo was incumbent Mayor Perdices. Since On 2 October 2002, petitioners filed with the RTC in Civil Case No. 13013, a
Mayor Perdices did not file any such motion for reconsideration, CSC-FO Director Manifestation and Motion Ad Cautelam seeking the resumption of the trial on their
Abucejo’s letter dated 1 August 2001, invalidating and revoking petitioners’ main Petition and the declaration that respondents were already in default for failure to
appointments, had become final and executory, thus, rendering the writ of preliminary file an Answer. On 5 November 2002, respondents finally filed their Answer to the
injunction moot. Petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration of the RTC Order dated 26 Petition in Civil Case No. 13013. In an Order dated 19 November 2002, the RTC
denied petitioners’ motion to declare respondents in default and admitted respondents’
58

Answer. Petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration of said Order was denied by the RTC In a Decision dated 27 March 2007 in Civil Case No. 13013, the RTC dismissed
in the subsequent Order dated 10 February 2003.18 petitioners’ Petition insofar as it concerns their prayers for the issuance of a writ of
mandamus and for the award of damages, without prejudice to a hearing on their
prayers in the same Petition for the issuance of a writ of injunction and for payment of
Petitioners again sought recourse with the Court of Appeals by filing a Petition for
their salaries, if warranted. The RTC took note that the invalidation of petitioners’
Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.
appointments by the CSC Proper was then a pending appeal before the Court of
77133. In a Decision dated 18 November 2003, the appellate court reversed the RTC
Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-S.P. No. 00665, and unless it was reversed, petitioners’ right
Orders dated 19 November 2002 and 10 February 2003, and declared respondents in
to the salaries, salary adjustments, and other emoluments claimed, were doubtful.
default since their Answer was filed 15 months after the issuance by the RTC of
Thus, mandamus would not lie against respondents when petitioners’ rights to the
summons.19
positions and the corresponding benefits thereof remained unclear. The RTC further
reasoned that damages could only be recovered when a termination constituted an act
Main Case for Mandamus, Injunction, and Damages oppressive to labor, or was attended by bad faith or fraud, or was done in a manner
contrary to morals, good customs, or policy;24 and since the Decision of the CSC
Proper invalidating petitioners’ appointments has not yet become final and executory,
Given that the Court of Appeals, in its Decision dated 18 November 2003 in CA-G.R. their claims for damages were premature.25
SP No. 77133, found respondents to be in default in Civil Case No. 13013, the RTC
allowed petitioners, in the proceedings a quo, to present their evidence ex-parte on
the issues of mandamus and damages which, petitioners insisted, were not covered On 10 April 2007, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the foregoing
by their appeals in the other cases. Decision, which the RTC denied in an Order dated 26 April 2007. 26

Petitioners adduced evidence to prove that former Mayor Remollo appointed them Unsatisfied with the judgment of the RTC, petitioners filed this "Petition for Certiorari
only after a list of vacant positions in the City Government of Dumaguete was under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as amended" raising the following issues 27 :
published in the Negros News on 4 March 2001. The Personnel Selection Board held
a meeting on 14 May 2001, during which, a CSC representative, together with various
I
city officials, were present to assess the qualifications of the applicants. Only after
these requirements were complied with, were petitioners appointed sometime in June
2001.20 Current Mayor Perdices’ announcement during the flag ceremony on 2 July WHETHER OR NOT THE MARCH 27, 2007 DECISION (AND THE APRIL 24, 2007
2001 that he refused to recognize petitioners’ appointments resulted in the latter’s [sic] ORDER) OF THE HONORABLE RTC BRANCH 41 THAT PETITIONERS’
humiliation before their peers. Petitioners’ termination from work resulted in hardship "RIGHT TO THEIR RESPECTIVE POSITIONS IS STILL UNCLEAR", IS CONTRARY
and their inability to support their families. It also caused petitioners psychological TO LAW, JUSTICE AND THE RULES OF COURT, ESPECIALLY BECAUSE AT
depression. Therefore, petitioners should be entitled to their unpaid salaries, as well THAT TIME (UNTIL THIS DATE), THE ISSUE OF THE INVALIDITY OR VALIDITY
as the award of moral and exemplary damages.21 OF THE APPOINTMENTS REMAINS UNRESOLVED;

In a Manifestation dated 22 February 2005, Atty. Neil Ray M. Lagahit, counsel for the II
respondents, informed the RTC that petitioners were paid their salaries for the period
covered by 1 July 2001 to 27 September 2001.22 Still, petitioners sought the issuance
WHETHER OR NOT THE APPEALED DECISION AND ORDER OF THE
by the RTC of an order directing respondents to release petitioners’ salaries, salary
HONORABLE RTC BRANCH 41 ARE CONTRARY TO LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE
differentials, and/or other legal emoluments from 28 September 2001 until present,
FOR HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS ARE NOT ENTITLED TO THEIR CLAIM FOR
since petitioners’ appointments were to be considered valid until the Supreme Court
DAMAGES AND FOR THEIR FAILURE TO PROVE "BAD FAITH" ON THE PART OF
has finally resolved otherwise.
RESPODENT CITY MAYOR PERDICES; and

As regards their claims for damages, petitioners originally sought the award of
III
₱300,000.00 as moral damages, ₱200,000.00 as exemplary damages, ₱15,000.00 as
costs of litigation, and attorneys fees of ₱50,000.00 and an additional ₱3,000.00 for
every appearance in court. However, during the hearing of Civil Case No. 13013, WHETHER OR NOT THE PETITIONERS ARE FORUM-SHOPPING IN INSTITUTING
petitioners asserted that, as the case was pending for three years, they were already THE PRESENT PETITION.
entitled to ₱1,500,000.00 as moral damages and ₱1,000,000.00 as exemplary
damages.23
Before proceeding to resolve the issues raised in the instant Petition, the Court shall
first address several procedural matters that caught its notice.
59

The Petition was confusingly denominated as a "Petition for Certiorari under Rule 45 hierarchy of courts. Normally, direct resort from the lower courts to this Court
of the Rules of Court, as amended." Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court governs will not be entertained unless the appropriate remedy cannot be obtained in the
petitions for review on certiorari, while Rule 65 of the same covers petitions for lower tribunals.
ceritorari. These are two distinct remedies. A petition for review under Rule 45 of the
Revised Rules of Court is generally limited only to questions of law or errors of
Thus, when a party appeals from a decision of the RTC directly to this Court via a
judgment. On the other hand, the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 may be availed
Petition for Review under Rule 45, it must only raise questions of law; otherwise, its
of to correct errors of jurisdiction including the commission of grave abuse of
appeal shall be dismissed.
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. 28 Considering that the instant
Petition (1) raises supposed errors of judgment committed by the RTC; (2) does not
contain any categorical assertion of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or A cursory reading of the three issues raised by petitioners herein, would readily reveal
excess of jurisdiction on the part of the RTC which rendered the assailed judgment; that the second one – on whether the RTC erred in holding that petitioners are not
and (3) states that it is a Petition under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, the entitled to their claim for damages since they failed to prove bad faith on the part of
Court shall treat the present Petition as a Petition for Review. Counsel for petitioners, Mayor Perdices – is a question of fact, since it involves an examination of the
however, is cautioned to be more circumspect in properly identifying the remedy his probative value of the evidence presented by the parties.30 Petitioners, therefore,
clients are availing themselves of so as to avoid confusion. availed themselves of the wrong or inappropriate mode of appeal. On this score alone,
the present Petition could have been outrightly dismissed. However, the procedural
flaws notwithstanding, the Court deems it judicious to take cognizance of the
Even if it is settled that the Court shall treat this as a Petition for Review under Rule 45
substantive questions herein, if only to put petitioners’ mind to rest. 31
of the Revised Rules of Court, it faces another obstacle in giving the same due course
since petitioners erroneously filed the appeal directly with this Court.
This Petition raises two main issues: (1) whether petitioners are entitled to the
29 issuance of a writ of mandamus ordering respondents to pay petitioners’ salaries,
In Five Star Marketing, Co., Inc. v. Booc, this Court distinguished the different modes
salary adjustments, and other emoluments, from 28 September 2001 until this Court
of appealing RTC decisions, to wit:
finally resolves the issue of the validity of petitioners’ appointments; and (2) whether
petitioners are entitled to an award for damages resulting from the invalidation of their
The Court, in Murillo v. Consul, Suarez v. Villarama, Jr. and Velayo-Fong v. Velayo, appointments.
had the occasion to clarify the three modes of appeal from decisions of the RTC,
namely: a) ordinary appeal or appeal by writ of error, where judgment was rendered in
The Court answers both in the negative.
a civil or criminal action by the RTC in the exercise of its original jurisdiction; b) petition
for review, where judgment was rendered by the RTC in the exercise of its appellate
jurisdiction; and c) petition for review to this Court. The first mode of appeal is Mandamus is a command issuing from a court of competent jurisdiction, in the name
governed by Rule 41, and is taken to the CA on questions of fact or mixed questions of the state or the sovereign, directed to some inferior court, tribunal or board, or to
of fact and law. The second mode, covered by Rule 42, is brought to the CA on some corporation or person requiring the performance of a particular duty therein
questions of fact, of law, or mixed questions of fact and law. The third mode, specified, which duty results from the official station of the party to whom the writ is
provided for by Rule 45, is elevated to this Court only on questions of law. directed, or from operation of law. A writ of mandamus may issue when any tribunal,
corporation board, officer or person unlawfully: (1) neglects the performance of an act
which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station; or
A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state
(2) excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which the other
of facts, while there is a question of fact when the doubt arises as to the truth or falsity
is entitled. 32
of the alleged facts. For a questions (sic) to be one of law, the same must not involve
an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants or
any of them. The resolution of the issue must rest solely on what the law provides on Petitioners insist that they are entitled to salaries, salary adjustments, and other
the given set of circumstances. emoluments, arising from their June 2001 appointments by former Mayor Remollo,
despite the invalidation of the same by the CSC-FO. They cite an unnumbered CSC
Memorandum Circular, issued on 6 December 2001, with the subject matter:
xxxx
"Reiteration of the Strict Implementation of Section 1, Rule IV and Section 3, Rules VI,
both of Memorandum Circular No. 40, s. 1998, otherwise known as the Revised
Section 4 of Circular 2-90 in effect provides that an appeal taken either to this Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Personnel Actions."
Court or to the CA by the wrong mode or inappropriate mode shall be
dismissed. This rule is now incorporated in Section 5, Rule 56 of the Rules of
Court. Moreover, the filing of the case directly with this Court departs from the
60

The CSC Memorandum Circular dated 6 December 2001 referred to Section 1, Rule or CSCRO of the appointments issued by the predecessor of the incumbent
IV of the Revised Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Personnel Actions, appointing authority/head of agency shall not be considered as final and executory
which reads: unless and until the Collegial Commission has finally decided on the matter. It is only
after the Collegial Commission has finally affirmed the disapproval of the appointment
that the new appointing authority/head of agency could issue appointments to replace
Section 1. An appointment issued in accordance with pertinent laws and rules shall
appointees whose appointments were disapproved. Hence, the appointment of the
take effect immediately upon its issuance by the appointing authority, and if the
replacement of the incumbent whose appointment has been disapproved shall also be
appointee has assumed the duties of the position, he shall be entitled to receive his
disapproved by the CSCFO or CSCRO unless the appeal has been finally resolved by
salary at once without awaiting the approval of his appointment by the Commission.
the Collegial Commission.1avvphi1
The appointment shall remain effective until disapproved by the Commission. x x x.

The general rule, therefore, is that appointments shall take effect immediately; and
The same CSC Memorandum Circular recited Section 3, Rule VI, also of the Revised
should the appointees already assume the duties of their positions, they shall be
Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Personnel Actions, which provides:
entitled to receive their salary at once. There is no need to wait for the approval of the
appointments by the CSC. The appointments shall be effective until disapproved by
Section 3. When an appointment is disapproved, the services of the appointee shall the CSC.
be immediately terminated, unless a motion for reconsideration or appeal is
seasonably filed.
The CSC, in carrying out its powers and functions, has a three-tiered organizational
structure, i.e., the CSC-FO, the CSC-RO, and the CSC Proper acting as a collegial
Services rendered by a person for the duration of his disapproved appointment shall body. The appointing authority33 or the appointees themselves34 may file a motion for
not be credited as government service for whatever purpose. reconsideration or an appeal of the disapproval of appointments by the CSC-FO to the
CSC-RO, and by the CSC-RO to the CSC Proper. Until the disapproval of the
appointments by the CSC-FO and CSC-RO is affirmed by the CSC Proper, it shall not
If the appointment was disapproved on grounds which do not constitute a violation of
be considered final and executory. Stated differently, the appointments shall remain
civil service law, such as failure of the appointee to meet the Qualification Standards effective until they are disapproved by the CSC Proper. In the meantime, there shall
(QS) prescribed for the position, the same is considered effective until disapproved by be no obstacle to the concerned appointees continuing to render public service; and to
the Commission or any of its regional or field offices. The appointee is meanwhile
receiving salary for the actual services they have rendered during the period, based
entitled to payment of salaries from the government. on the "no work, no pay" policy.35

If a motion for reconsideration or an appeal from the disapproval is seasonably filed


Nevertheless, the aforementioned general rules cannot be simply applied to the case
with the proper office, the appointment is still considered to be effective. The at bar given its peculiar circumstances.
disapproval becomes final only after the same is affirmed by the Commission.

The Court stresses that Section 3, Rule VI of the Revised Omnibus Rules on
In relation to the afore-quoted provisions, the CSC Memorandum Circular dated 6 Appointments and Other Personnel Actions only categorically recognizes the right of
December 2001 gives the following reminder: the appointee to payment of salaries from the government, during the pendency of his
motion for reconsideration or appeal of the disapproval of his appointment by the
The Commission observed that there are some appointing authorities/heads of CSC-FO and/or CSC-RO before the CSC Proper, "[i]f the appointment was
agencies in the government who immediately replace their predecessors’ appointees disapproved on grounds which do not constitute a violation of civil service law, such as
after the appointments of the latter have been disapproved by the Field Office or failure of the appointee to meet the Qualification Standards (QS) prescribed for the
Regional Office of this Commission, notwithstanding the pendency of an appeal with position."
the Collegial Commission. Said appointing authorities/heads of agencies construe the
disapproval by the CSCFO or CSCRO of the subject appointments as final and What happens then if the appointment was disapproved for violation of civil service
executory. law? In such a situation, Section 4, Rule VI of the Revised Omnibus Rules on
Appointments and Other Personnel Action applies. It states:
xxxx
Sec. 4. The appointing authority shall be personally liable for the salary of appointees
In this regard, it is hereby emphasized that the aforequoted provisions of CSC MC No. whose appointments have been disapproved for violation of pertinent laws such as the
40, s. 1998 should be strictly observed such that the disapproval by either the CSCFO publication requirement pursuant to RA 7041.
61

It is clear from the afore-quoted provision that when the appointment was disapproved Since petitioners’ right to the payment of their salaries by the City Government of
for violation of pertinent laws, the appointing authority shall be personally liable for the Dumaguete is still unsettled at this point, the Court cannot issue a writ of mandamus
salary of the appointee. This is in complete accord with the Section 65, Chapter 10, against respondents to make such payment. Mandamus applies only where the
Book V, of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of petitioner’s right is founded clearly in law and not when it is doubtful.38 The writ will not
1987, to wit: issue to compel an official to give to the applicant anything to which he is not entitled
by law.39 Mandamus will not issue to establish a right, but only to enforce one that is
already established.40
Section 65. Liability of appointing authority. – No person employed in the Civil Service
in violation of Civil Service law and rules shall be entitled to receive pay from the
government, but the appointing authority responsible for such unlawful employment The recent case of Bunsay v. Civil Service Commission41 is not on all fours with this
shall be personally liable for the pay that would have accrued had the employment case. In Bunsay, the Court readily recognized the right of therein petitioners to be paid
been lawful, and the disbursing officials shall make payment to the employee of such compensation by the government for services actually rendered by them while the
amount from the salary of the officers so liable. disapproval of their appointments by the CSC-FO and CSC-RO was pending appeal
before the CSC Proper. It must be emphasized, however, that in said case, the CSC
Proper had already reversed the initial disapproval and, instead, upheld the validity of
To recall, petitioners’ appointments were invalidated and revoked by CSC-FO Director
therein petitioners’ appointments. The approval by the CSC Proper of therein
Abucejo, in a letter dated 1 August 2001, on the ground that said appointments were
petitioners’ appointments was no longer in dispute; and since such appointments were
made by former Mayor Remollo in violation of Items No. 3(d) and 4 of CSC Resolution
already deemed made in accordance with law, then the there was no question that
No. 010988 dated 4 June 2001, which prohibit the outgoing chief executive from
therein petitioners’ backwages, if they indeed continued to report to work during the
making mass appointments36 after elections. The rules laid down by the CSC in CSC
pendency of their appeal before the CSC Proper,42 should be paid by the government.
Resolution No. 010988, dated 4 June 2001, are deemed included in what is the "civil
service law," it having the force and effect of law.37
In contrast, CSC-FO Director Abucejo’s letter dated 1 August 2001 disapproving
herein petitioners’ appointments for being in violation of CSC Resolution No. 010988
Upon disapproval by CSC-FO Director Abucejo of petitioners’ appointments on 1
dated 4 June 2001, was affirmed not only by the CSC-RO in a Decision dated 14
August 2001, for being in violation of civil service law, petitioners may no longer claim
February 2002; but, more importantly, by the CSC Proper in CSC Resolutions No.
entitlement to the payment of their salaries from the government. There is no doubt
040932 and No. 050473, dated 23 August 2004 and 11 April 2005, respectively. To
that, pending their appeals before the CSC-RO, then the CSC Proper, petitioners’
stress, the CSC Proper itself already disapproved petitioners’ appointments since they
appointments remained effective and they could still continue reporting to work and
violated civil service law. Petitioners then challenged the aforementioned CSC
rendering service, but there already arose the question as to who shall be liable for
Resolutions before the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-S.P. No. 00665, but the
their salaries during the period, i.e., whether it is the City Government of Dumaguete
appellate court affirmed the same in its Decision dated 28 August 2007. Petitioners’
(under Section 3, Rule VI of the Revised Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other
appeal of the judgment of the appellate court in CA-G.R. CEB-S.P. No. 00665 is now
Personnel Action) or former Mayor Remollo who appointed them (under Section 4,
pending before this Court in G.R. No. 181559.
Rule VI of the same Revised Omnibus Rules). Hence, petitioners’ right to salary
cannot be firmly anchored as of yet on Section 3, Rule VI of the Revised Omnibus
Rules on Appointments and Other Personnel Action. It is irrefragable that the issue of whether the City Government of Dumaguete or
former Mayor Repollo is liable to pay for petitioners’ salaries, during the pendency of
their appeal with the CSC-RO, and then the CSC Proper, of the disapproval of their
Neither can the unnumbered CSC Memorandum Circular dated 6 December 2001
appointments by CSC-FO Director Abucejo is inextricably intertwined with the issue in
invoked by petitioners support their case. Its avowed intention is to put a stop to the
G.R. No. 181559 of whether petitioners’ appointments should be disapproved for
practice of some appointing authorities/heads of agencies in the government of
having been made in violation of CSC Resolution No. 010988 dated 4 June 2001.
immediately replacing their predecessors’ appointees after the latter’s appointments
Only if this Court finally rules in G.R. No. 181559 that petitioners’ appointments did not
have been disapproved by the CSC-FO or CSC-RO, notwithstanding the pendency of
violate any civil service law, is petitioners’ right to payment of their salaries by the City
an appeal with the CSC Proper. The CSC issuance requires the strict observance of
Government of Dumaguete, during the given period, indisputably established.
the rule that until the disapproval of the appointment by the CSC-FO or CSC-RO is
affirmed by the CSC Proper, the new appointing authority/head of agency cannot
issue appointments to replace the appointees whose appointments were disapproved The remedy of mandamus is available only to compel the performance of a ministerial
by the CSC-FO or CSC-RO; and any appointment in violation of this rule should be duty.43 The distinction between a ministerial and discretionary act is well delineated. A
disapproved by the CSC-FO or CSC-RO. There is nothing in the CSC Memorandum purely ministerial act or duty is one which an officer or tribunal performs in a given
Circular dated 6 December 2001 providing for the payment of the salaries of the state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal
appointees whose appointments were disapproved by the CSC-FO or the CSC-RO, authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or
while their appeals are pending before the CSC Proper. impropriety of the act done. If the law imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives
62

him the right to decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such duty is Similarly unfounded is petitioners’ claims for moral and exemplary damages, as well
discretionary and not ministerial. The duty is ministerial only when the discharge of the as attorney’s fees and costs of suit.
same requires neither the exercise of official discretion or judgment.441avvphi1
Moral damages are awarded if the following elements exist in the case: (1) an injury
While it is true that it is the ministerial duty of the government to pay for the clearly sustained by the claimant; (2) a culpable act or omission factually established;
appointees’ salaries while the latter’s appeal of the disapproval of their appointments (3) a wrongful act or omission by the defendant as the proximate cause of the injury
by CSC-FO and/or CSC-RO is still pending before the CSC Proper, however, this sustained by the claimant; and (4) the award of damages predicated on any of the
applies only when the said appointments have been disapproved on grounds which do cases stated Article 2219 of the Civil Code.46 In addition, the person claiming moral
not constitute a violation of civil service law. Such is clearly not the case in the instant damages must prove the existence of bad faith by clear and convincing evidence for
Petition. The factual circumstances which would have made it the ministerial duty of the law always presumes good faith. It is not enough that one merely suffered
the City Government of Dumaguete to pay petitioners’ salaries have not yet been sleepless nights, mental anguish, and serious anxiety as the result of the actuations of
established. Until this Court resolves the Petition in G.R. No. 181559, reversing the the other party. Invariably such action must be shown to have been willfully done in
disapproval of petitioners’ appointments or, at the very least, declaring that the bad faith or with ill motive.47 Bad faith, under the law, does not simply connote bad
disapproval of the same was not on grounds which constitute violation of civil service judgment or negligence. It imports a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and
law, this Court cannot rule in the instant Petition that it is the ministerial duty of the City conscious doing of a wrong, a breach of a known duty through some motive or interest
Government of Dumaguete to pay petitioners’ salaries during the pendency, before or ill will that partakes of the nature of fraud.48
the CSC-RO, then the CSC Proper, of petitioners’ appeal of the disapproval of their
appointments by CSC-FO Director Abucejo. Thus, there is yet no ministerial duty
Petitioners enucleate that Mayor Perdices’ act of announcing during the flag ceremony
compellable by a writ of mandamus.
at the City Hall on 2 July 2001 that he will not honor the mass appointments made by
his predecessor, former Mayor Remollo, even before CSC-FO Director Abucejo
Respondents manifested, and petitioners did not controvert, that the City Government invalidated and revoked petitioners’ appointments in a letter dated 1 August 2001,
of Dumaguete had already paid petitioners their salaries, salary adjustments, and evidenced bad faith, especially since Mayor Perdices himself made 36 appointments
other emoluments from June 2001, when they assumed office immediately upon their at the end of his term in 1998. Mayor Perdices’ subsequent appointments to fill four of
appointment; until 27 September 2001, almost two months after 1 August 2001, when the contested positions sometime in 2001 to 2006 likewise amounted to bad faith. As
their appointments were disapproved by CSC-FO Director Abucejo for being in a result of these acts, petitioners purportedly endured economic difficulties and
violation of CSC Resolution No. 010988 dated 4 June 2001. Petitioners, however, still humiliation among their peers. These arguments are untenable.
want this Court to compel by mandamus the payment, by the City Government of
Dumaguete, of their salaries, salary adjustments, and other emoluments from 28
The announcement made by Mayor Perdices on 2 July 2001 cannot be deemed the
September 2001 until the Court finally resolves the issue on the validity of petitioners’
proximate cause for petitioners’ financial and emotional suffering. The validity of
appointments in G.R. No. 181559. Given that the Court already ruled herein that
petitioners’ appointments did not depend on Mayor Perdices honoring or rejecting said
petitioners do not have a clear and established right to the payment of their salaries by
appointments but on the CSC approving or disapproving of the same. CSC-FO
the City Government of Dumaguete while their appeal of CSC-FO Director Abucejo’s
Director Abucejo did release a letter dated 1 August 2001 invalidating and revoking
disapproval of their appointments was pending before the CSC-RO and the CSC
petitioners’ appointments on the ground that they were "mass appointments" in
Proper; then there is even less reason or justification for the payment by the City
violation of CSC Resolution No. 010988 dated 4 June 2001. Said letter was
Government of Dumaguete of petitioners’ salaries after the CSC Proper already
subsequently affirmed by the CSC-RO and the CSC Proper. Therefore, the
affirmed the disapproval of petitioners’ appointments.
invalidation and revocation of petitioners’ appointments, as well as the non-payment of
their salaries, salary adjustments, and emoluments, did not result from Mayor
Furthermore, Section 3, Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court also prescribes that a Perdices’ announcement, but from the official acts of the CSC on petitioners’
petition for mandamus can be given due course only if there is no other plain, speedy appointments.
and adequate remedy available in the course of law.45 In this case, petitioners already
availed themselves of administrative remedies by appealing CSC-FO Director
Although Mayor Perdices could have re-appointed petitioners despite the disapproval
Abucejo’s disapproval of their appointments to the CSC-RO, and thereafter, to the
by the CSC of petitioners’ appointments, he chose not to do so. Mayor Perdices’
CSC Proper. When even the CSC Proper disapproved their appointments, petitioners
previous announcement that he will not honor petitioners’ appointments already
appealed to the Court of Appeals in CEB-S.P. No. 00665, and when they were again
indirectly revealed his lack of intention to re-appoint petitioners. Mayor Perdices’
unsuccessful in the latter recourse, they appealed once more to this Court in G.R. No.
refusal to re-appoint petitioners is merely in exercise of the former’s discretion and
181559. After all the administrative, as well as judicial remedies which petitioners
cannot be construed as illegal or, by itself, proof of bad faith or ill-motive. While
actually availed themselves of, they cannot persuade this Court that there is no other
petitioners might have been embarrassed by Mayor Perdices’ announcement before
plain, speedy and adequate remedy available to them in the course of law, to justify
the other city employees on 2 July 2001, they did not adduce any evidence that said
the issuance herein of a writ of mandamus in their favor.
63

announcement was made with the specific and malicious design to humiliate For the same reasons discussed above, there is no basis to award petitioners
petitioners, rather than the expression by Mayor Perdices of an earnest intent to right exemplary damages. Similar to moral damages, exemplary damages may only be
a perceived wrong committed by his predecessor. The fact that Mayor Perdices awarded if it has been shown that the wrongful act was accompanied by bad faith or
publicly announced his course of action as regards petitioners’ appointments is not done in a wanton, fraudulent and reckless or malevolent manner. Exemplary damages
conclusive of any malevolent intent on his part in doing so. are allowed only in addition to moral damages such that no exemplary damage can be
awarded unless the claimant first establishes his clear right to moral damages. As the
moral damages are improper in the present case, so is the award of exemplary
The "mass appointments" made by Mayor Perdices himself by the end of his term in
damages.50
1998 are likewise insufficient proof of bad faith or ill motive on his part. CSC
Resolution No. 010988 providing the guidelines on appointments by local chief
executives immediately before and after elections was issued only on 4 June 2001. It Finally, petitioners have failed to state the ground on which they base their claim for
cannot be applied retroactively.49 Moreover, even assuming arguendo that CSC attorney’s fees and legal costs, much less submitted evidence in support thereof.
Resolution No. 010988 could be applied to the appointments made by Mayor Perdices Article 2208 of the Civil Code51 identifies specific circumstances when attorney’s fees
in 1998, these appointments were not necessarily in violation of said CSC issuance. and expenses of litigation may be recovered. The power of the court to award
CSC Resolution No. 010988 does not totally proscribe the local chief executive from attorney’s fees under Article 2208 of the Civil Code demands factual, legal and
making any appointments immediately before and after elections. The same equitable justification. Its basis cannot be left to speculation or conjecture. 52 Given the
Resolution provides that the validity of an appointment issued immediately before and dearth of petitioners’ allegations, arguments, and most importantly, evidence, on the
after elections by an outgoing local chief executive is to be determined on the basis of matter, the Court does not find any basis to award petitioners attorney’s fees and legal
the nature, character, and merit of the individual appointment and the particular costs.
circumstances surrounding the same. The Court cannot simply assume that the
appointments made by Mayor Perdices in 1998 and those made by Mayor Remollo in
Considering the foregoing procedural and substantive reasons for dismissing/denying
2001 (which included those of petitioners) were identical in their natures, characters,
the instant Petition, the Court is addressing the third issue on forum shopping
merits, and surrounding circumstances, so that they should have been dealt with in
succinctly.
the same manner. And even if this Court does make such an assumption, Mayor
Perdices’ refusal to honor the appointments made in 2001 by then outgoing Mayor
Remollo, after the former made similar appointments by the end of his mayoralty term For forum-shopping to exists, both actions should involve a common transaction with
in 1998, may expose Mayor Perdices’ hypocrisy, but, again, not necessarily his essentially the same facts and circumstances and raise identical causes of action,
malice, bad faith, or ill-motive against petitioners. subject matter and issues. Although much of the factual antecedents of the Petition
herein and that in G.R. No. 168484 are the same, closer study would disclose that
they involve different subject matters and issues.
Mayor Perdices’ appointments, made between 2001 to 2006, to fill four out of the 52
posts to which petitioners herein were appointed by former Mayor Remollo, may
indeed constitute a violation of the Revised Omnibus Rules on Appointments and In must be borne in mind that petitioners filed with the RTC their Petition for
Other Personnel Action and the unnumbered CSC Memorandum Circular dated 6 Mandamus with Injunction and Damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 13013, on 1
December 2001. Thus, petitioners could have sought from the CSC the disapproval of August 2001, to challenge respondents’ refusal to recognize petitioners’ appointments
said appointments. However, any challenge to Mayor Perdices’ appointments to fill in and to pay petitioners’ salaries, salary adjustments, and other emoluments. It is the
the contested posts, grounded on petitioners’ pending appeal before the CSC Proper, judgment of the RTC therein, dismissing petitioners’ Petition insofar as it concerns
had been rendered moot, given that the CSC Proper already denied petitioners’ their applications for the issuance of a writ of mandamus and for the award of
appeal and affirmed the disapproval of their appointments. Furthermore, petitioners damages, which is assailed in the Petition at bar.
fail to convince this Court that Mayor Perdices’ appointments to four of the 52
contested posts, made from 2001 to 2006, was not only made in bad faith or with ill-
G.R. No. 181559, meanwhile, involves petitioners’ appeal of the invalidation and
motive, but that it was the proximate cause of their financial difficulties and humiliation.
The number of the appointments (filling in only four out of the 52 contested posts) and revocation of their appointments by CSC-FO Director Abucejo in his letter dated 1
the length of period in which such appointments were made (spread between 2001 to August 2001, affirmed by the CSC-RO, CSC Proper, and the Court of Appeals. Since
CSC-FO Director Abucejo ruled on the validity of petitioners’ appointments only in his
2006, or a period of five years) are inconsistent with any supposed malicious motive
on the part of Mayor Perdices to immediately replace petitioners with his own people. letter dated 1 August 2001, and petitioners had yet to receive notice of said letter, it
Additionally, as the Court previously ruled herein, the alleged financial difficulties and could not be expected that the same was already included in and made the subject of
Civil Case No. 13013, which petitioners instituted also on 1 August 2001. Even though
humiliation petitioners have suffered, for which they now claim moral damages,
resulted from the disapproval by the CSC of their appointments, not from the afore- Mayor Perdices later invoked CSC-FO Director Abucejo’s letter dated 1 August 2001
mentioned appointments made by Mayor Perdices. in seeking the dismissal of Civil Case No. 13013, it cannot be denied that said letter
was drafted and issued only subsequent to Mayor Perdices’ announcement on 2 July
2001 that he would not honor petitioners’ appointments.
64

True, that the present Petition and the one in G.R. No. 181559 are interrelated, but CORONA, J.:
they are not necessarily the same for this Court to adjudge that the filing of both by
petitioners constitutes forum shopping. In G.R. No. 181559, the Court will resolve
The Republic of the Philippines assails the May 31, 2001 decision 1 and August 20,
whether or not the petitioners’ appointments are valid. On the present petitions,
2001 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 52948 in this petition for
petitioners are claiming a right to the salaries, salary adjustments and other
review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
emoluments during the pendency of the administrative cases, regardless of how the
CSC decided the validity of their appointments. It is only herein that the court has
been able to settle that petitioners’ right to salaries, salary adjustments and other This case stemmed from the construction by respondent Kenrick Development
emoluments require a finding in G.R. No. 181559 that (1) petitioners’ appointments Corporation of a concrete perimeter fence around some parcels of land located behind
are valid or that (2) if the appointments are invalid, the reasons for the invalidity is not the Civil Aviation Training Center of the Air Transportation Office (ATO) in 1996. As a
for a violation of civil service laws. The Court emphasizes that the Court herein only result, the ATO was dispossessed of some 30,228 square meters of prime land.
ruled that, at present, there is still no clear right for it to compel the respondents, by Respondent justified its action with a claim of ownership over the property. It
writ of mandamus, to pay petitioners’ salaries, salary adjustments, and emoluments presented Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. 135604, 135605 and 135606 issued
until the resolution of G.R. No. 181559. In fact, the RTC dismissed the Petition in Civil in its name and which allegedly originated from TCT No. 17508 registered in the name
Case No. 13013 without prejudice to further hearings on the payment of petitioners’ of one Alfonso Concepcion.
salaries, salary adjustments, and emoluments, if warranted by subsequent events.
ATO verified the authenticity of respondent’s titles with the Land Registration Authority
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the instant Petition is DENIED and the Decision (LRA). On May 17, 1996, Atty. Jose Loriega, head of the Land Title Verification Task
dated 27 March 2007 and Order dated 26 April 2007 of Branch 41 of the Regional Force of the LRA, submitted his report. The Registrar of Deeds of Pasay City had no
Trial Court of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, in Civil Case No. 13013 are record of TCT No. 17508 and its ascendant title, TCT No. 5450. The land allegedly
AFFIRMED. No costs. covered by respondent’s titles was also found to be within Villamor Air Base
(headquarters of the Philippine Air Force) in Pasay City.
SO ORDERED.
By virtue of the report, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), on September 3,
1996, filed a complaint for revocation, annulment and cancellation of certificates of title
in behalf of the Republic of the Philippines (as represented by the LRA) against
respondent and Alfonso Concepcion. It was raffled to Branch 114 of the Regional Trial
Court of Pasay City where it was docketed as Civil Case No. 96-1144.

On December 5, 1996, respondent filed its answer which was purportedly signed by
Atty. Onofre Garlitos, Jr. as counsel for respondent.

Since Alfonso Concepcion could not be located and served with summons, the trial
court ordered the issuance of an alias summons by publication against him on
February 19, 1997.

The case was thereafter punctuated by various incidents relative to modes of


discovery, pre-trial, postponements or continuances, motions to dismiss, motions to
G.R. No. 149576 August 8, 2006 declare defendants in default and other procedural matters.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the Land Registration During the pendency of the case, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and Committee
Authority, Petitioner, on Justice and Human Rights conducted a hearing in aid of legislation on the matter of
vs. land registration and titling. In particular, the legislative investigation looked into the
KENRICK DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondent. issuance of fake titles and focused on how respondent was able to acquire TCT Nos.
135604, 135605 and 135606.

DECISION
65

During the congressional hearing held on November 26, 1998, one of those statements of another, evidence of those statements is admissible against him. 8 This
summoned was Atty. Garlitos, respondent’s former counsel. He testified that he is the essence of the principle of adoptive admission.
prepared respondent’s answer and transmitted an unsigned draft to respondent’s
president, Mr. Victor Ong. The signature appearing above his name was not his. He
An adoptive admission is a party’s reaction to a statement or action by another person
authorized no one to sign in his behalf either. And he did not know who finally signed
when it is reasonable to treat the party’s reaction as an admission of something stated
it.
or implied by the other person. 9 By adoptive admission, a third person’s statement
becomes the admission of the party embracing or espousing it. Adoptive admission
With Atty. Garlitos’ revelation, the Republic promptly filed an urgent motion on may occur when a party:
December 3, 1998 to declare respondent in default, 2 predicated on its failure to file a
valid answer. The Republic argued that, since the person who signed the answer was 10
(a) expressly agrees to or concurs in an oral statement made by another;
neither authorized by Atty. Garlitos nor even known to him, the answer was effectively
an unsigned pleading. Pursuant to Section 3, Rule 7 of the Rules of Court, 3 it was a
mere scrap of paper and produced no legal effect. (b) hears a statement and later on essentially repeats it; 11

On February 19, 1999, the trial court issued a resolution granting the Republic’s (c) utters an acceptance or builds upon the assertion of another; 12

motion. 4 It found respondent’s answer to be sham and false and intended to defeat
the purpose of the rules. The trial court ordered the answer stricken from the records,
declared respondent in default and allowed the Republic to present its evidence ex (d) replies by way of rebuttal to some specific points raised by another but ignores
parte. further points which he or she has heard the other make 13 or

The Republic presented its evidence ex parte, after which it rested its case and (e) reads and signs a written statement made by another. 14
formally offered its evidence.
Here, respondent accepted the pronouncements of Atty. Garlitos and built its case on
Meanwhile, respondent sought reconsideration of the February 19, 1999 resolution but them. At no instance did it ever deny or contradict its former counsel’s statements. It
the trial court denied it. went to great lengths to explain Atty. Garlitos’ testimony as well as its implications, as
follows:

Aggrieved, respondent elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals via a petition for
certiorari 5 seeking to set aside the February 19, 1999 resolution of the trial court. 1. While Atty. Garlitos denied signing the answer, the fact was that the answer was
signed. Hence, the pleading could not be considered invalid for being an unsigned
Respondent contended that the trial court erred in declaring it in default for failure to
file a valid and timely answer. pleading. The fact that the person who signed it was neither known to Atty. Garlitos
nor specifically authorized by him was immaterial. The important thing was that the
answer bore a signature.
On May 31, 2001, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed decision. It found Atty.
Garlitos’ statements in the legislative hearing to be unreliable since they were not
subjected to cross-examination. The appellate court also scrutinized Atty. Garlitos’ 2. While the Rules of Court requires that a pleading must be signed by the party or his
acts after the filing of the answer 6 and concluded that he assented to the signing of counsel, it does not prohibit a counsel from giving a general authority for any person to
the answer by somebody in his stead. This supposedly cured whatever defect the sign the answer for him which was what Atty. Garlitos did. The person who actually
answer may have had. Hence, the appellate court granted respondent’s petition for signed the pleading was of no moment as long as counsel knew that it would be
certiorari. It directed the lifting of the order of default against respondent and ordered signed by another. This was similar to addressing an authorization letter "to whom it
the trial court to proceed to trial with dispatch. The Republic moved for reconsideration may concern" such that any person could act on it even if he or she was not known
beforehand.
but it was denied. Thus, this petition.

Did the Court of Appeals err in reversing the trial court’s order which declared 3. Atty. Garlitos testified that he prepared the answer; he never disowned its contents
and he resumed acting as counsel for respondent subsequent to its filing. These
respondent in default for its failure to file a valid answer? Yes, it did.
circumstances show that Atty. Garlitos conformed to or ratified the signing of the
answer by another.
A party may, by his words or conduct, voluntarily adopt or ratify another’s statement. 7

Where it appears that a party clearly and unambiguously assented to or adopted the
66

Respondent repeated these statements of Atty. Garlitos in its motion for No doubt, Atty. Garlitos could not have validly given blanket authority for just anyone
reconsideration of the trial court’s February 19, 1999 resolution. And again in the to sign the answer. The trial court correctly ruled that respondent’s answer was invalid
petition it filed in the Court of Appeals as well as in the comment 15 and memorandum and of no legal effect as it was an unsigned pleading. Respondent was properly
it submitted to this Court. declared in default and the Republic was rightly allowed to present evidence ex parte.

Evidently, respondent completely adopted Atty. Garlitos’ statements as its own. Respondent insists on the liberal application of the rules. It maintains that even if it
Respondent’s adoptive admission constituted a judicial admission which was were true that its answer was supposedly an unsigned pleading, the defect was a
conclusive on it. mere technicality that could be set aside.

Contrary to respondent’s position, a signed pleading is one that is signed either by the Procedural requirements which have often been disparagingly labeled as mere
party himself or his counsel. Section 3, Rule 7 is clear on this matter. It requires that a technicalities have their own valid raison d’ etre in the orderly administration of justice.
pleading must be signed by the party or counsel representing him. To summarily brush them aside may result in arbitrariness and injustice. 19

Therefore, only the signature of either the party himself or his counsel operates to The Court’s pronouncement in Garbo v. Court of Appeals 20 is relevant:
validly convert a pleading from one that is unsigned to one that is signed.
Procedural rules are [tools] designed to facilitate the adjudication of cases. Courts and
Counsel’s authority and duty to sign a pleading are personal to him. He may not litigants alike are thus [enjoined] to abide strictly by the rules. And while the Court, in
delegate it to just any person. some instances, allows a relaxation in the application of the rules, this, we stress, was
never intended to forge a bastion for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity.
The liberality in the interpretation and application of the rules applies only in proper
The signature of counsel constitutes an assurance by him that he has read the
cases and under justifiable causes and circumstances. While it is true that litigation is
pleading; that, to the best of his knowledge, information and belief, there is a good
not a game of technicalities, it is equally true that every case must be prosecuted in
ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay. 16 Under the Rules of Court,
accordance with the prescribed procedure to insure an orderly and speedy
it is counsel alone, by affixing his signature, who can certify to these matters.
administration of justice.

The preparation and signing of a pleading constitute legal work involving practice of
Like all rules, procedural rules should be followed except only when, for the most
law which is reserved exclusively for the members of the legal profession. Counsel
persuasive of reasons, they may be relaxed to relieve a litigant of an injustice not
may delegate the signing of a pleading to another lawyer 17 but cannot do so
commensurate with the degree of his thoughtlessness in not complying with the
prescribed procedure. 21 In this case, respondent failed to show any persuasive
in favor of one who is not. The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: reason why it should be exempted from strictly abiding by the rules.

Rule 9.01 ― A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of As a final note, the Court cannot close its eyes to the acts committed by Atty. Garlitos
any task which by law may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good in violation of the ethics of the legal profession. Thus, he should be made to account
standing. for his possible misconduct.

Moreover, a signature by agents of a lawyer amounts to signing by unqualified WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The May 31, 2001 decision and
persons, 18 something the law strongly proscribes. August 20, 2001 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 52948 are
REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the February 19, 1999 resolution of the Regional
Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 114 declaring respondent in default is hereby
Therefore, the blanket authority respondent claims Atty. Garlitos entrusted to just REINSTATED.
anyone was void. Any act taken pursuant to that authority was likewise void. There
was no way it could have been cured or ratified by Atty. Garlitos’ subsequent acts.
Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Commission on Bar Discipline of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the commencement of disbarment proceedings
Moreover, the transcript of the November 26, 1998 Senate hearing shows that Atty. against Atty. Onofre Garlitos, Jr. for his possible unprofessional conduct not befitting
Garlitos consented to the signing of the answer by another "as long as it conformed to his position as an officer of the court.
his draft." We give no value whatsoever to such self-serving statement.
67

SO ORDERED. ALCAIDE, ROSARIO MABANA, ESTELA MANGUBAT, ROSIE BALDOVE,


CARMELITA RUIZ and LUCILA JUSTARES, petitioners,
vs.
SPECIALIZED PACKAGING DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION and/or ALFREDO
GAO (President) and PETER CHUA (General Manager); EUSEBIO CAMACHO
GENERAL SERVICES and/or EUSEBIO CAMACHO (President/General Manager);
MPL SERVICES and/or MIGUELITO LAURIANO (President/General Manager),
respondents.

DECISION

PANGANIBAN, J.:

The Court may give due course to a petition, even if the accompanying certificate
against forum shopping has not been signed by all the petitioners, provided it is shown
that, as in this case, there is a justifiable cause for such failure; and the outright
dismissal of the petition would seriously impair the orderly administration of justice. In
the interest of substantial justice, strict observance of procedural rules may be
dispensed with for compelling reasons.

The Case

Before us is a Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to
nullify the January 15, 20012 and the August 28, 20013 Resolutions of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No. 62530. The first Resolution disposed as follows:

"ACCORDINGLY, and to strictly enforce the aforesaid circulars to attain


their objectives (Carrara Marble Phil., Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
127059, January 22, 1997; Far Eastern Shipping Co. vs. Court of Appeals,
297 SCRA 30), the Court [r]esolved to DISMISS the petition for a defective
or insufficient verification and certification thereof."4

The second assailed Resolution, on the other hand, denied petitioners' Motion for
Reconsideration.
G.R. No. 149634 July 6, 2004
The Antecedents
LORETA TORRES, MARILYN TANGTANG, ARMELA FIGURACION, RAQUEL
BERNARTE, ESTRELLA TITO, RHEA ELLORDA, ROSITA FUENTES, ANITA Petitioners claim to be employees of the Specialized Packaging Development
LAPORRE, JOCELYN RIN, MATODIA DEREPAS, FELICISIMA ALEGRE, LEA Corporation (SPDC), a business entity engaged in the repackaging of cosmetic
MARTILLANA, EVANGELINE RAFON, ALICIA EMPILLO, AMY TORRES, EDNA products. In three separate Complaints, they charged SPDC and alleged labor
JIMENEZ, EVELYN DOLOM, HAMILI UYVICO, CRISELINA ANQUILO, NILDA recruiters Eusebio Camacho General Services (ECGS) and MPL Services with illegal
68

dismissal; and with nonpayment of overtime, premium and 13th month pays, and night three (23) remaining principal petitioners may just obtain the services of
differential. another lawyer to institute practically the same case in a different for[um]."5

The cases were later consolidated and assigned to Labor Arbiter (LA) Salimathar Denying petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration, the appellate court pointed out that
Nambi. On June 30, 1995, the LA issued his Decision in favor of petitioners, because disregarding the rules could not be rationalized by invoking a liberal construction
SPDC and MPL Services had failed to submit their position papers on or before the thereof. Furthermore, it found no satisfactory explanation why the 25 principal
deadline. SPDC was ordered to reinstate all petitioners to their former positions and to petitioners, who resided in different provinces, had not executed a special power of
pay them back wages, premium pay for holidays and rest days, service incentive attorney in favor of either of the two petitioners or their counsel.
leave pay and 13th month pay.
Hence, this Petition.6
The LA's Decision was appealed by SPDC to the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC), which set aside the ruling and ordered the case remanded to LA
Issues
Nambi for further proceedings.

Petitioners submit the following issues for our consideration:


The case was then set again for hearings. Respondents SPDC and ECGS submitted
their position papers five months after the case had been considered submitted for
decision. "A.

On December 14, 1999, LA Nambi issued a second Decision finding petitioners' Whether or not petitioners are employees of the Respondent Specialized
employment to have been illegally terminated by SPDC. The NLRC, however, again Packaging Development Corporation (SPDC).
reversed and set aside this new Decision on June 9, 2000.
"B.
On January 29, 2001, petitioners appealed to the CA.
Whether or not petitioners were illegally dismissed by Respondent SPDC.
Ruling of the CA
"C.
The Petition was dismissed by the CA, which found the verification and the
certification against forum shopping to be either defective or insufficient. It justified its
Whether or not petitioners are entitled to their money claims."7
ruling thus:

The Court's Ruling


"x x x [I]t appears that there are twenty-five (25) principal parties-petitioners
who were former workers of private respondent Corporation and
complainants in NLRC NCR Case Nos. 00-04-03325-94, 00-05-03727-94 The Petition is meritorious.
and 00-05-03971-94 as a result of their being laid-off from employment.
Perusing the verification and certification[,] however, it also appears that it
was executed and signed by only two (2) petitioners, namely, Evelyn Dolom Preliminary Issue:
and Criselina Anquilo, among the said twenty-five (25) principal petitioners. Propriety of the Petition
The duty to verify and certify under oath is strictly addressed to all the
twenty-five (25) principal petitioners. To allow only two (2) of them to At the outset we note that the present Petition is anchored on Rule 45, and that it
execute the required verification and certification, without the proper assails the two CA Resolutions dismissing petitioners' earlier Petition for Certiorari. In
authorization of the others, would render Revised Circular No. 28-91 and accordance with Section 1 of Rule 45,8 the herein Petition alleges reversible errors
Administrative Circular No. 04-94 (now Sec. 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of based on the supposedly defective verification and certification against forum
Civil Procedure) inutile in avoiding the practice of non-forum shopping shopping.
because the other principal petitioners, who did not execute and sign the
same, much less execute the proper power of attorney, would not be bound
by the certification executed by only two (2) of them. Any one of the twenty- The above-quoted issues raised in the Memorandum of petitioners, however, were not
the same ones raised in the Petition. Because these three substantive issues were
69

sprung by the former only in their own Memorandum, respondents were not able to "SEC. 4. Verification. – Except when otherwise specifically required by law
traverse these directly in their Comment9 or Memorandum.10 Hence, save for or rule,17 pleadings need not be under oath, verified or accompanied by
perfunctory references to the NLRC Decision, the latter were not given the opportunity affidavit.
to defend themselves on these questions.
"A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading
Elementary due process -- which means giving the opposite party the opportunity to and that the allegations therein are true and correct of his knowledge and
be heard, and the assailed court to consider every argument presented11 -- bars this belief.
Court from taking up these three issues in this Decision, even if doing so would speed
up the final resolution of the case. Basic is the rule that issues not presented below
"A pleading required to be verified which contains a verification based on
cannot for the first time be taken up on appeal.12
'information and belief,' or upon 'knowledge, information and belief,' or lacks
a proper verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading." (Italics
Review of NLRC Decisions supplied)

The proper procedure for seeking a review of the final dispositions of the NLRC was The purpose of requiring a verification is to secure an assurance that the allegations of
laid down in 1998 in St. Martin Funeral Homes v. NLRC.13 That case heralded two the petition have been made in good faith; or are true and correct, not merely
very important rules: 1) decisions and final resolutions of the NLRC may be reviewed speculative.18 This requirement is simply a condition affecting the form of pleadings,
only via a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court; and 2) and noncompliance therewith does not necessarily render it fatally defective.19
such petition must be filed with the CA in strict observance of the doctrine of the Indeed, verification is only a formal, not a jurisdictional, requirement.20
hierarchy of courts.
In the present case, the problem is not the lack of a verification, but the adequacy of
Thus, after St. Martin became final, special civil actions challenging NLRC rulings one executed by only two of the 25 petitioners. These two signatories are
have been referred by this Court to the CA for proper disposition. Exceptions to this unquestionably real parties in interest, who undoubtedly have sufficient knowledge
rule were those instances when -- prior to the finality of St. Martin -- both parties had and belief to swear to the truth of the allegations in the Petition. This verification is
already filed their respective memoranda with this Court, and it then opted to take final enough assurance that the matters alleged therein have been made in good faith or
cognizance of the case.14 Under AM No. 99-2-01-SC, however, all new cases are true and correct, not merely speculative. The requirement of verification has thus
erroneously filed with this Court after June 1, 1999, were dismissed forthwith. been substantially complied with.

Main Issue: Certification Against Forum Shopping


Propriety of the CA's Dismissal of the Petition Substantially Complied With

In their present Petition, petitioners plead a liberal construction of the rules. They For petitions for certiorari, on the other hand, a certification against forum shopping is
argue that the verification and the certification against forum shopping executed by required under Section 3 of Rule 4621 of the Rules of Court, as follows:
only two of the 25 petitioners have already satisfied the requirements under Sections
415 and 516 of Rule 7. On the other hand, the CA ruled that all 25 petitioners should
"SEC. 3. Contents and filing of petition; effect of non-compliance with
have signed the verification and the certification of non-forum shopping. We clarify.
requirements. - x x x

Actually, two separate rules are involved in the present controversy – one, on
xxx xxx xxx
verification; and the other, on the certification against forum shopping.

"The petitioner shall also submit together with the petition a sworn
Two Signatures Sufficient for Verification
certification that he has not theretofore commenced any other action
involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals or
The verification requirement is provided under Section 4 of Rule 7 of the Rules of different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency; if there is such
Court, as follows: other action or proceeding, he must state the status of the same; and if he
should thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or
is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or different
divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to promptly
70

inform the aforesaid courts and other tribunal or agency thereof within five "x x x. The attestation contained in the certification on non-forum shopping
(5) days therefrom. requires personal knowledge by the party who executed the same. To merit
the Court's consideration, petitioners here must show reasonable cause for
failure to personally sign the certification. The petitioners must convince the
xxx xxx xxx
court that the outright dismissal of the petition would defeat the
administration of justice. x x x" (Italics supplied)
"The failure of the petitioner to comply with any of the foregoing
requirements shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal of the petition."
Petitioners need only show, therefore, that there was reasonable cause for the failure
of some of them to sign the certification against forum shopping, and that the outright
The certification requirement is rooted in the principle that a party-litigant shall not be dismissal of the Petition would defeat the administration of justice.
allowed to pursue simultaneous remedies in different fora, as this practice is
detrimental to an orderly judicial procedure.22 The lack of a certification against forum
We find their reasons meritorious. First, as pointed out in the Motion for
shopping, unlike that of verification, is generally not cured by its submission after the
Reconsideration filed with the CA, the case dragged for an undeniably long time,
filing of the petition.23
because its remand to the labor arbiter forced many of the petitioners to go back to the
provinces to await the final outcome, while those who remained in Metro Manila were
The submission of a certificate against forum shopping is thus deemed obligatory, forced out of temporary quarters every so often.36 Under these circumstances, it was
though not jurisdictional.24 (Jurisdiction over the subject or nature of the action is extremely difficult to secure all the required signatures.
conferred by law.) Not being jurisdictional, the requirement has been relaxed under
justifiable circumstances25 under the rule of substantial compliance.
Second, it is safe to assume that the matters alleged in the certificate against forum
shopping have been complied with by the non-signing petitioners. Twenty-one of the
In fact, the Court has allowed the belated filing of the certification against forum petitioners executed in favor of their counsel, a "Natatanging Gawad ng
shopping because of compelling reasons.26 In Uy v. Land Bank,27 it even reinstated Kapangyarihan,"37 which gives him authority to represent them in all matters
a petition it had already dismissed for lack of verification and certification against connected with the case. As it has not been revoked or superseded, the possibility of
forum shopping, after petitioner had justified the reinstatement. Similarly, in Roadway any of them filing another action or claim through another counsel is effectively
Express v. CA,28 the Court considered as substantial compliance the filing of the foreclosed.
certification 14 days prior to the dismissal of the petition.
Third, the apparent merits of the substantive aspects of the case, as in Uy, should be
The rule of substantial compliance has likewise been availed of with respect to the deemed as a "special circumstance" or "compelling reason" for allowing the Petition.
contents of the certification.29 Gabionza v. Court of Appeals accepted, as sufficient Pertinent thereto, the Court notes that the conflicting findings of the NLRC and of the
compliance therewith, petitioner's certification to the effect that "there is no similar labor arbiter -- who ruled twice in favor of petitioners -- provide ample justification for
petition [with] the same subject matter previously filed, pending, withdrawn or the CA's review of the merits. The outright dismissal of the Petition was therefore
dismissed in the Supreme Court, in this Honorable Court [of Appeals] or different prejudicial to the substantial rights of the parties.
divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency."30 It stressed that while Circular 28-
9131 required strict compliance, it did not thereby prevent substantial compliance
Indeed, rules of procedure are established to secure substantial justice.38 Being
under justifiable circumstances.32
instruments for the speedy and efficient administration of justice, they must be used to
achieve such end, not to derail it.39 Technical requirements may thus be dispensed
In the present case, petitioners aver that the signatures of only two of them suffice as with in meritorious appeals.40
substantial compliance with the attestation requirement for a certificate against forum
shopping. In effect, they are asking this Court to disregard a defect33 in their Petition.
It has been our consistent holding that the ends of justice are better served when
cases are determined on the merits -- after all parties are given full opportunity to
In previous rulings, we have held that a certificate against forum shopping should be ventilate their causes and defenses -- rather than on technicality or some procedural
signed by all the petitioners, because a lone signatory cannot be presumed to have imperfections. 41
personal knowledge of the matters required to be stated in the attestation.34 The
ruling is not without exception, however. In Spouses Ortiz v. Court of Appeals35 and
Consequently, the case should be remanded to the CA for a proper determination of
similar rulings, the following has always been pointed out:
the substantive issues. Time-honored is the principle that when the law entrusts the
review of factual and substantive issues to a lower court or to a quasi-judicial tribunal,
71

that court or agency must be given the opportunity to pass upon those issues.42 Only ROBERN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. JUDGE JESUS V.
thereafter may the parties resort to this Court.43 QUITAIN, Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Br. 15; and NATIONAL POWER
CORPORATION, respondents.
WHEREFORE, this Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolutions of the Court of
Appeals are SET ASIDE, and the case is remanded to the CA for a proper DECISION
determination of the substantive issues. No costs.
PANGANIBAN, J.:
SO ORDERED.
Expropriation proceedings are governed by revised Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure which took effect on July 1, 1997. Previous doctrines inconsistent with this
Rule are deemed reversed or modified. Specifically, (1) an answer, not a motion to
dismiss, is the responsive pleading to a complaint in eminent domain; (2) the trial court
may issue a writ of possession once the plaintiff deposits an amount equivalent to the
assessed value of the property, pursuant to Section 2 of said Rule, without need of a
hearing to determine the provisional sum to be deposited; and (3) a final order of
expropriation may not be issued prior to a full hearing and resolution of the objections
and defenses of the property owner.

The Case

Before us is a Petition under Rule 45, challenging the Decision of the Court of
Appealsi[1] promulgated February 27, 1998 and its Resolution promulgated July 23,
1998 in CA-GR SP-46002, which (1) dismissed the action for certiorari and preliminary
injunction filed by Robern Development Corporation ("Robern" for brevity); and (2)
effectively affirmed the Orders (dated August 13, 1997; September 11, 1997; and
November 5, 1997) and the Writ of Possession (dated September 19, 1997), all issued
by the Regional Trial Court of Davao City in Civil Case No. 25356-97.

The assailed Decision disposed as follows:ii[2]

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is ordered DISMISSED.


Costs against the petitioner.

In its assailed Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied reconsideration in this


manner:iii[3]

There being no compelling reason to modify, reverse or reconsider the Decision


rendered in the case dated February 27, 1998[;] the Motion for Reconsideration
posted by petitioner on March 23, 1998 is DENIED, it appearing further that the
arguments raised therein were already considered and passed upon in the aforesaid
Decision.

The Facts

[G.R. No. 135042. September 23, 1999]


The following facts are undisputed.
72

1. Robern is the registered owner of a parcel of land with an area of about 8. Without awaiting the outcome of the Motion for Reconsideration, NPC filed a
17,746.50 square meters, which the National Power Corporation ("NPC" for brevity) is Motion to Implement the Writ of Possession.
seeking to expropriate. The property forms part of a proposed low-cost housing project
in Inawayan, Binugao, Toril, Davao City.
9. On September 19, 1997, in spite of petitioners opposition, the trial court
issued a Writ of Possession as follows:
2. On June 6, 1997, NPC filed a Complaint for Eminent Domain against
Robern.iv[4] Instead of filing an answer, petitioner countered with a Motion to
WHEREAS, the applicant National Power Corporation in the above-titled case has
Dismiss,v[5] alleging (a) that the Complaint suffered a jurisdictional defect for not
presented to this Court a petition praying for the issuance of a Writ of Possession of
showing that the action bore the approval of the NPC board of directors; (b) that
the affected property of the xxx Robern Development Corporation, described
Nemesio S. Caete, who signed the verification and certification in the Complaint, was
hereinbelow, as follows:
not the president, the general manager or an officer specifically authorized under the
NPC charter (RA 6395); (c) that the choice of property to be expropriated was
improper, as it had already been intended for use in a low-cost housing project, a TCT No. Total Area in Area Affected in
public purpose within the contemplation of law; and the choice was also arbitrary, as Square Meter Square Meter
there were similar properties available within the area.
T-251558
3. Before this Motion could be resolved, NPC filed a Motion for the Issuance of (T-141754) 11,469.00 3,393.00
Writ of Possession based on Presidential Decree No. 42. On July 9, 1997, NPC
deposited P6,121.20 at the Philippine National Bank, Davao Branch, as evidenced by
T-251559
PNB Savings Account No. 385-560728-9.vi[6]
(T-141755) 10,000.00 2,124.00

4. In its Order of August 13, 1997, the trial court denied the petitioner's Motion
T-251556
to Dismiss in this wise:
(T-14152) 30,000.00 3,402.00

This refers to the motion to dismiss. The issues raised are matters that should be dealt
T-251555 45,000.00 8,827.50
with during the trial proper. Suffice it to say that [NPC] has the privilege as a utility to
use the power of eminent domain.
TOTAL - - 97,371.00 17,746.50 Total
affected area
The motion is denied for lack of merit. The pre-trial conference shall be on August 27,
1997 at 2:30 P.M.vii[7]
WHEREAS, on September 11, 1997 the court issued an Order granting the issuance
of a Writ of Possession in favor of the xxx National Power Corporation for the
5. On September 2, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration,
pointing out that (a) the issues raised in the Motion to Dismiss could be resolved immediate possession and control of the parcels of land owned by the [petitioner] as
without trial, as they could be readily appreciated on the face of the Complaint itself aforestated for the construction of the Mantanao-New-Loon 138 KV Transmission Line
vis--vis the applicable provisions of law on the matter; and (b) the grounds relied upon Project to be undertaken by the petitioner affecting 17,746.50 sq.m. of the 97,371.00
for dismissing the Complaint did not require evidence aliunde. sq. meters as shown above.

6. On September 11, 1997, the trial court denied the Motion, as follows: NOW THEREFORE, you are hereby commanded to place [NPC] in possession and
control of the affected property consisting 17,746.50 [s]quare [m]eters of the total area
of 97,371.00 square meters described above and to eject therefrom all adverse
The xxx motion [of the petitioner] for reconsideration is denied for lack of merit. occupants, Robern Development Corporation and [all other] persons xxx claiming
Finding the xxx motion [of NPC] to be meritorious[,] let a writ of possession issue.viii[8] under it.ix[9]

7. On September 22, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the 10. On November 5, 1997, before counsel for the petitioner received any order
Order of September 11, 1997, arguing among others that Section 15-A of RA 6395 from the trial court directing the implementation of the Writ of Possession, NPC
was virtually amended when Caete was allowed to verify and sign the certificate of occupied the disputed property.
non-forum shopping in regard to the Complaint for expropriation filed by NPC.
73

11. In a Petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA), Robern assailed I WHETHER OR NOT THE QUESTIONED ORDER OF THE RESPONDENT
the Writ on the following grounds: (a) patent on the face of the complaint were its JUDGE DATED SEPTEMBER 11, 1997 DIRECTING THE ISSUANCE OF A
jurisdictional defect, prematurity and noncompliance with RA 6395; and (b) the WRIT OF POSSESSION IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL, HIGHLY IRREGULAR,
issuance of the Writ of Possession was irregular, arbitrary and unconstitutional, as the ARBITRARY, AND DESPOTIC.
trial court had yet to fix the appropriate value for purposes of taking or entering upon
the property to be expropriated.
II WHETHER OR NOT THE COMPLAINT FILED IN THE INSTANT CASE IS
DISMISSIBLE ON ITS FACE FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION, BEING FLAWED
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
WITH PREMATURITY, AND VIOLATIVE OF RA 6395.

The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court on the following grounds. III WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS MADE A FINDING NOT
BORNE OUT BY THE COMPLAINT, THUS IT EXCEEDED ITS JURISDICTION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION.
First, the verification and certification of the Complaint by someone other than the
president or the general manager of NPC was not a fatal jurisdictional defect. It was
enough to allege that the expropriating body had the right of eminent domain. The IV WHETHER OR NOT THE CHOICE OF THE PROPERTY TO BE
issues of whether the expropriation was properly authorized by the board of directors EXPROPRIATED IS ARBITRARY.
and whether Caetes verification and certification of the Complaint was likewise
authorized were evidentiary and could be ruled upon only after the reception of
Simply stated, the petition raises the following issues:
evidence.

1. Were there valid grounds to dismiss the Complaint?


Second, whether the disputed property could still be expropriated even if it had
already been intended to be used in a low-cost housing project and whether the
choice of that lot was arbitrary and erroneous, given the availability of similar 2. Was the Writ of Possession validly issued, considering that the trial court
properties in the area, were factual issues that would entail presentation of evidence had not conducted any hearing on the amount to be deposited?
by both parties.
This Courts Ruling

Third, the allegation in the Complaint that NPC sought to acquire an easement of
right-of-way through the disputed property did not preclude its expropriation. Section
3-A of the NPC charter allowed the power company to acquire an easement of right- The Court of Appeals was correct in its rulings, but in the interest of substantial justice,
the petitioner should be given an opportunity to file its answer.
of-way or even the land itself if the servitude would injure the land.

First Issue:
Fourth, the issuance of the Writ of Possession was proper in view of NPCs
compliance with Section 2, Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, by
depositing with the Philippine National Bank an amount equivalent to the assessed Grounds for Dismissal

value of the disputed property.


Jurisdiction

Fifth, certiorari was not the proper remedy, as the Order sustaining the right to
expropriate the property was not final and could still be appealed by the aggrieved
party. The availability of appeal ruled out certiorari. Petitioner contends that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case
because, first, Atty. Caete who signed the verification and certification of non-forum
shopping was neither the president nor the general manager of NPC; and second,
Hence, this Petition.x[10] under Section 15-A of RA 6395, only the NPC chief legal counsel, under the
supervision of the Office of the Solicitor General is authorized to handle legal matters
The Issues affecting the government power corporation. On the other hand, NPC argues that
Caete, as its regional legal counsel in Mindanao, is authorized to prepare the
Complaint on its behalf.
In their Memorandum,xi[11] petitioner raises the following issues:xii[12]
74

We find the disputed verification and certification to be sufficient in form. Verification is The National Power Corporation explains that, like other corporate officers and
intended to assure that the allegations therein have been prepared in good faith or are employees whose functions are defined by the board, Atty. Caete is authorized to file
true and correct, not mere speculations.xiii[13] Generally, lack of verification is merely the expropriation case. Even if he is not the general counsel, he has residual authority
a formal defect that is neither jurisdictional nor fatal. Its absence does not divest the to prepare, verify and certify the Complaint for expropriation.
trial court of jurisdiction.xiv[14] The trial court may order the correction of the pleading
or act on the unverified pleading, if the attending circumstances are such that strict
We rule for the private respondent. Rule 67, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, provides:
compliance with the rule may be dispensed with in order to serve the ends of justice.

SECTION 1. The complaint.The right of eminent domain shall be exercised by the


The certificate of non-forum shopping directs the plaintiff or principal party to attest
filing of a verified complaint which shall state with certainty the right and purpose of
under oath that (1) no action or claim involving the same issues have been filed or
expropriation, describe the real or personal property sought to be expropriated, and
commenced in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and that, to the best of the
join as defendants all persons owning or claiming to own, or occupying, any part
plaintiff's knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending; (2) if there is such other
thereof or interest therein, showing, so far as practicable, the separate interest of each
pending action or claim, a complete statement of its present status shall be made; and
defendant. xxxx.
(3) if it should be learned that the same or a similar action or claim has been filed or is
pending, the plaintiff shall report this fact to the court where the complaint or initiatory
pleading was filed.xv[15] This rule is rooted in the principle that a party-litigant shall The foregoing Rule does not require that the Complaint be expressly approved by the
not be allowed to pursue simultaneous remedies in different forums, as this practice is board of directors of a corporation. In any event, such authorization is a factual issue
detrimental to orderly judicial procedure.xvi[16] Administrative Circular No. 04-94, that can be threshed out during the trial. As held by the appellate court, the issue of
which came before the 1997 Rules of Court, is deemed mandatory but not whether or not the expropriation proceedings [were] authorized by the Board of
jurisdictional, as jurisdiction over the subject or nature of the action is conferred by Directors or that those who signed the complaint [were] authorized representatives are
law.xvii[17] evidentiary in character determinable only in [the] trial proper.

Prematurity of the Complaint


In this case, the questioned verification stated that Atty. Caete was the acting regional
legal counsel of NPC at the Mindanao Regional Center in Iligan City. He was not
merely a retained lawyer, but an NPC in-house counsel and officer, whose basic
The same ruling applies to the argument alleging prematurity of the Complaint.
function was to prepare legal pleadings and to represent NPC-Mindanao in legal
cases. As regional legal counsel for the Mindanao area, he was the officer who was in Petitioner's insistence that NPC must secure the approval of the provincial board and
the best position to verify the truthfulness and the correctness of the allegations in the the municipal council is unfounded. Section 3(j), RA 6395, merely requires that the
Complaint for expropriation in Davao City. As internal legal counsel, he was also in the Complaint be filed in the same manner as an expropriation case of the national, the
best position to know and to certify if an action for expropriation had already been filed provincial or the municipal government. At bottom, all that is needed is compliance
and pending with the courts. with Rule 67 of the Rules of Court and the prevailing jurisprudence on expropriation.

Defenses and Objections


Besides, Atty. Caete was not the only signatory to the Complaint; he was joined by
Comie P. Doromal, OIC-assistant general counsel; and Catherine J. Pablo -- both of
the NPC Litigation & Land and Land Rights Department. They all signed on behalf of Petitioner avers that the Complaint should be dismissed, because the subject property
the solicitor general in accordance with the NPC charter.xviii[18] Their signatures was already committed to be used in a low-cost housing project. Besides, there were
prove that the NPC general counsel and the solicitor general approved the filing of the other available properties in the area. Finally, the Complaint allegedly sought only an
Complaint for expropriation. Clearly then, the CA did not err in holding that the easement of a right-of-way, not essentially an expropriation.
Complaint was not dismissible on its face, simply because the person who had signed
the verification and certification of non-forum shopping was not the president or the
general manager of NPC. We disagree. Petitioner's argument in this case is premised on the old rule. Before the
1997 amendment, Section 3 of Rule 67 allowed a defendant in lieu of an answer, [to]
present in a single motion to dismiss or for other appropriate relief, all of his objections
Legal Standing and Condition Precedent
and defenses to the right of the plaintiff to take his property xxx. A motion to dismiss
was not governed by Rule 15 which covered ordinary motions. Such motion was the
Next, petitioner asserts that NPC had no legal standing to file the expropriation case, required responsive pleading that took the place of an answer and put in issue the
plaintiff's right to expropriate the defendant's property.xix[19] Any relevant and
because the Complaint did not allege that its board of directors had authorized its
filing. It added that under Section 6, RA 6395, only the board was vested with the material fact could be raised as a defense in a condemnation proceeding, such as that
corporate power to sue and be sued. which tended to show that (1) the exercise of the power to condemn was
75

unauthorized, or (2) there was cause for not taking defendants property for the To be exact, the issues raised by the petitioner are affirmative defenses that should be
purpose alleged in the petition, or (3) the purpose for the taking was not public in alleged in an answer, since they require presentation of evidence aliunde.xxvii[27]
character.xx[20] Section 3 of Rule 67 provides that if a defendant has any objection to the filing of or
the allegations in the complaint, or any objection or defense to the taking of his
property, he should include them in his answer. Naturally, these issues will have to be
This old rule found basis in the constitutional provisions on the exercise of the power
fully ventilated in a full-blown trial and hearing. It would be precipitate to dismiss the
of eminent domain, which were deemed to be for the protection of the individual
Complaint on such grounds as claimed by the petitioner. Dismissal of an action upon a
property owner against the aggressions of the government.xxi[21] Under the old rule,
motion to dismiss constitutes a denial of due process if, from a consideration of the
the hearing of the motion and the presentation of evidence followed.
pleadings, it appears that there are issues that cannot be decided without a trial of the
case on the merits.xxviii[28]
However, Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure no longer requires such
extraordinary motion to dismiss. Instead, it provides:
Inasmuch as the 1997 Rules had just taken effect when this case arose, we believe
that in the interest of substantial justice, the petitioner should be given an opportunity
SEC. 3. Defenses and objections. x x x x to file its answer to the Complaint for expropriation in accordance with Section 3, Rule
67 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
If a defendant has any objection to the filing of or the allegations in the complaint, or
Order of Condemnation
any objection or defense to the taking of his property, he shall serve his answer within
the time stated in the summons. The answer shall specifically designate or identify the
property in which he claims to have an interest, state the nature and extent of the
The Court will now tackle the validity of the trial court's assailed Order of August 13,
interest claimed, and adduce all his objections and defenses to the taking of his
1997, which Respondent Court affirmed in this wise:
property. x x x x.

xxxx The denial of Roberns Motion to Dismiss [is tantamount] to a confirmation


In his book on remedial law, Justice Florenz D. Regalado writes that the old Rule was
or a determination of the authority of NPC to exercise the power of eminent
a bit confusing as the previous holdings under that former provision also allowed the
domain and the propriety of its exercise in the context of the facts involved in
filing of another motion to dismiss, as that is understood in Rule 16, to raise
the case. Under Section 4 of the present Rule 67, 1997 Rules, supra, an order
additionally the preliminary objections authorized by that Rule. Further, an answer,
sustaining the right to expropriate the property is a final one and may be
which is now required, gives more leeway. First, even if it still applies the omnibus
appealed by any aggrieved party (Municipality of Bian v. Garcia, 180 SCRA 576
motion rule, it allows amendments to be made within ten days from its filing.xxii[22]
[1989]). xxxx.xxix[29]
Second, the failure to file an answer does not produce all the disastrous
consequences of default in ordinary civil actions, because the defendant may still
present evidence as to just compensation.xxiii[23] We clarify. Founded on common necessity and interest, eminent domain is the
inherent right of the state (and of those entities to which the power has been lawfully
delegated) to condemn private property to public use upon payment of just
When petitioner filed its Motion to Dismiss, the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure had
compensation. It may appear to be harsh and encompassing, but judicial review limits
already taken effect. Statutes regulating procedure in the courts are applicable to
the exercise of eminent domain to the following areas of concern: (1) the adequacy of
actions pending and undetermined at the time those statutes were passed.xxiv[24]
the compensation, (2) the necessity of the taking, and (3) the public-use character of
New court rules apply to proceedings that take place after the date of their
the purpose of the taking.xxx[30]
effectivity.xxv[25] On April 8, 1997, the Court en banc issued a Resolution in Bar
Matter No. 803, declaring that the revisions in the Rules of Court were to become
effective on July 1, 1997. If there are objections and defenses that require the presentation of evidence and the
hearing of arguments, the trial court should not immediately issue an order of
expropriation. This is clearly implied in Section 4 of Rule 67, which mandates that [i]f
Accordingly, Rule 16, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, does not consider as grounds
the objections to and the defenses against the right of the plaintiff to expropriate the
for a motion to dismiss the allotment of the disputed land for another public purpose or
property are overruled, or when no party appears to defend as required by this Rule,
the petition for a mere easement of right-of-way in the complaint for expropriation. The
the court may issue an order of expropriation declaring that the plaintiff has a lawful
grounds for dismissal are exclusive to those specifically mentioned in Section 1, Rule
right to take the property sought to be expropriated, for the public use or purpose
16 of the Rules of Court, and an action can be dismissed only on a ground authorized
described in the complaint x x x.
by this provision.xxvi[26]
76

The Court of Appeals ruled that there were issues that required presentation of promptly ascertained and fixed by the court having jurisdiction of the proceedings, to
evidence during the trial proper; namely, whether the expropriation proceeding was be held by such treasurer subject to the orders and final dispositon of the court. xxxx.
authorized by the NPC board of directors, whether the property to be expropriated was (Underscoring ours.)
already devoted to public use, and whether the choice of the property was arbitrary
and erroneous in view of the other properties available in the area. The necessity of
Subsequently, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed into law Presidential
the taking and the public character of the purpose of the expropriation were still in
Decree No. 42 and its companion decrees, which removed the court's discretion in
issue and pending resolution by the trial court. To these we add the issue of whether
determining the amount of the provisional value of the land to be expropriated and
the taking of the disputed property would require only an easement of right-of-way or
fixed the provisional deposit at its assessed value for taxation purposes. Hearing was
would perpetually deprive Robern of its proprietary rights. Therefore, the trial court
not required; only notice to the owner of the property sought to be condemned.
should not have issued the assailed Order of Expropriation which foreclosed any
further objection to the NPCs right to expropriate and to the public purpose of the
expropriation, leaving the matter of just compensation as the only remaining On the issue of immediate possession, PD 42 (Authorizing The Plaintiff In Eminent
substantial issue. Domain Proceedings To Take Possession Of The Property Involved Upon Depositing
The Assessed Value, For Purposes of Taxation) provided:
The nullity of the Order was glaring. While the trial court correctly denied the Motion to
Dismiss, as the issues raised by the petitioner should be dealt with during the trial WHEREAS, the existing procedure for the exercise of the right of eminent domain is
proper, it nonetheless ruled that NPC had the privilege as a [public] utility to use the not expeditious enough to enable the plaintiff to take or enter upon the possession of
power of eminent domain. the real property involved as soon as possible, when needed for public purposes;

Second Issue
xxx xxx xxx

Requisites of a Writ of Possession


xxx [T]hat, upon filing in the proper court of the complaint in eminent domain
proceedings or at anytime thereafter, and after due notice to the defendant, plaintiff
shall have the right to take or enter upon the possession of the real property involved if
Petitioner objects to the issuance of the Writ of Possession for being highly irregular,
he deposits with the Philippine National Bank, xxx an amount equivalent to the
arbitrary and despotic, because the Motion to Dismiss was yet to be resolved. It
assessed value of the property for purposes of taxation, to be held by said bank
stresses that there was no hearing on the correct amount of just compensation for the
subject to the orders and final disposition of the court.
taking of the disputed property, as required in Panes v. Visayas State College of
Agriculture.xxxi[31] We cannot uphold this contention.
The provisions of Rule 67 of the Rules of Court and of any other existing law contrary
to or inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed.
There is no prohibition against a procedure whereby immediate possession of the land
involved in expropriation proceedings may be taken, provided always that due
provision is made to secure the prompt adjudication and payment of just Paragraph 3 of PD No. 1224 (Defining The Policy On The Expropriation Of Private
compensation to the owners.xxxii[32] However, the requirements for authorizing Property For Socialized Housing Upon Payment Of Just Compensation) also
immediate entry in expropriation proceedings have changed. authorized immediate takeover of the property in this manner:

To start with, in Manila Railroad Company v. Paredes,xxxiii[33] the Court held that the 3. Upon the filing of the petition for expropriation and the deposit of the amount
railway corporation had the right to enter and possess the land involved in of just compensation as provided for herein, the Government, or its authorized agency
condemnation proceedings under Section 1, Act No. 1592,xxxiv[34] immediately upon or entity, shall immediately have possession, control and disposition of the real
the filing of a deposit fixed by order of the court. property and the improvements thereon even pending resolution of the issues that
may be raised whether before the Court of First Instance or the higher courts.
The Rules of Court of 1964xxxv[35] sanctioned this procedure as follows:
Where the taking was for socialized housing, Section 3, PD 1259 (Amending
Paragraphs 1, 2, And 3 Of PD No. 1224 Further Defining The Policy On The
SEC. 2. Entry of plaintiff upon depositing value with National or Provincial Treasurer.--
Expropriation Of Private Property For Socialized Housing Upon Payment Of Just
Upon the filing of the complaint or at any time thereafter the plaintiff shall have the
Compensation), amending the above-quoted paragraph, provided:
right to take or enter upon the possession of the real or personal property involved if
he deposits with the National or Provincial Treasurer its value, as provisionally and
77

Upon the filing of the petition for expropriation and the deposit of the amount of the improvements thereon, including the power of demolition if necessary, notwithstanding
just compensation provided for in Section 2 hereof, the Government, or its authorized the pendency of the issues before the courts.
agency or entity, shall immediately have possession, control and disposition of the real
property and the improvements thereon even pending resolution of the issues that
Accordingly, in San Diego v. Valdellon,xxxvi[36] Municipality of Daet v. Court of
may be raised whether before the Court of First Instance, Court of Agrarian Relations
Appeals,xxxvii[37] and Haguisan v. Emilia,xxxviii[38] the Court reversed itself and
or the higher courts.
ruled that Section 2, Rule 67 of the 1964 Rules, was repealed by Presidential Decree
No. 42. The judicial duty of ascertaining and fixing the provisional value of the property
Similarly, Section 1, PD No. 1313 (Further Amending Paragraph 3 Of Presidential was done away with, because the hearing on the matter had not been expeditious
Decree No. 1224 As Amended By Presidential Decree No. 1259, Defining The Policy enough to enable the plaintiff to take possession of the property involved as soon as
On The Expropriation Of Private Property For Socialized Housing Upon Payment Of possible, when needed for public purpose.xxxix[39]
Just Compensation), amending paragraph 3 of PD 1224, decreed:
In Daet, the Court clarified that the provisional value of the land did not necessarily
Upon the filing of the petition for expropriation and the deposit in the Philippine represent the true and correct one but only tentatively served as the basis for
National Bank at its main office or any of its branches of the amount equivalent to ten immediate occupancy by the condemnor. The just compensation for the property
percent (10%) of the just compensation provided for in Section 2 of Presidential continued to be based on its current and fair market value, not on its assessed value
Decree No. 1259, the government, or its authorized agency or entity, shall which constituted only a percentage of its current fair market value.
immediately have possession, control and disposition of the real property and the
improvements thereon with the power of demolition, if necessary, even pending
However, these rulings were abandoned in Export Processing Zone Authority v.
resolution of the issues that may be raised whether before the Court of First Instance,
Dulay,xl[40] because [t]he method of ascertaining just compensation under the
Court of Agrarian Relations, or the higher Courts.
aforecited decrees constitute[d] impermissible encroachment on judicial prerogatives.
It tend[ed] to render this Court inutile in a matter which under the Constitution [was]
In this connection, we also quote Section 7 of PD No. 1517 (Proclaiming Urban Land reserved to it for final determination. The Court added:
Reform In The Philippines And Providing For The Implementing Machinery Thereof),
which reads:
We return to older and more sound precedents. This Court has the duty to formulate
guiding and controlling constitutional principles, precepts, doctrines, or rules. (See
xxx xxx xxx Salonga v. Cruz Pano, supra).

Upon the filing of the petition for expropriation and the deposit in the Philippine The determination of just compensation in eminent domain cases is a judicial function.
National Bank at its main office or any of its branches of the amount equivalent to ten The executive department or the legislature may make the initial determinations but
per cent (10%) of the declared assessment value in 1975, the Government, or its when a party claims a violation of the guarantee in the Bill of Rights that private
authorized agency or entity shall immediately have possession, control and disposition property may not be taken for public use without just compensation, no statute,
of the real property and the improvements thereon with the power of demolition, if decree, or executive order can mandate that its own determination shall prevail over
necessary, even pending resolution of the issues that may be raised whether before the courts findings. Much less can the courts be precluded from looking into the just-
the Court of First Instance, Court of Agrarian Relations, or the higher Courts. ness of the decreed compensation.

Finally, PD 1533 (Establishing A Uniform Basis For Determining Just Compensation In Province of Camarines Sur v. Court of Appeals,xli[41] the Court reaffirmed the
And The Amount Of Deposit For Immediate Possession Of The Property Involved In unconstitutionality of the presidential decrees that fixed the just compensation in an
Eminent Domain Proceedings) mandated the deposit of only ten percent (10%) of the expropriation case at the value given to the condemned property either by the owners
assessed value of the private property being sought to be expropriated, after fixing the or by the assessor, whichever was lower.
just compensation for it at a value not exceeding that declared by the owner or
determined by the assessor, whichever is lower. Section 2 thereof reads:
More precisely, Panes v. Visayas State College of Agriculturexlii[42] ruled that the
judicial determination of just compensation included the determination of the
SEC. 2. Upon the filing of the petition for expropriation and the deposit in the provisional deposit. In that case, the Court invalidated the Writ of Possession because
Philippine National Bank at its main office or any of its branches of an amount of lack of hearing on the provisional deposit, as required under then Section 2 of Rule
equivalent to ten per cent (10%) of the amount of compensation provided in Section 1 67, pre-1997 Rules. In the light of the declared unconstitutionality of PD Nos. 76, 1533
hereof, the government or its authorized instrumentality agency or entity shall be and 42, insofar as they sanctioned executive determination of just compensation, any
entitled to immediate possession, control and disposition of the real property and the right to immediate possession of the property must be firmly grounded on valid
78

compliance with Section 2 of Rule 67, pre-1997 Rules; that is, the value of the subject T-251558
property, as provisionally and promptly ascertained and fixed by the court that has (T-141754) 11,469.00 3,393.00 P4,250.00 P1,257.32
jurisdiction over the proceedings, must be deposited with the national or the provincial
treasurer.xliii[43]
T-251559
(T-141755) 10,000.00 2,124.00 8,960.00 1,903.10
However, the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure revised Section 2 of Rule 67 and clearly
reverted to the San Diego, Daet and Haguisan rulings. Section 2 now reads:
T-251556
(T-14152) 30,000.00 3,402.00 18,910.00 2,144.39
SEC. 2. Entry of plaintiff upon depositing value with authorized government
depositary.Upon the filing of the complaint or at any time thereafter and after due
T-251555 45,000.00 8,827.50 18,450.00 3,619.28
notice to the defendant, the plaintiff shall have the right to take or enter upon the
possession of the real property involved if he deposits with the authorized government
depositary an amount equivalent to the assessed value of the property for purposes of TOTAL 97,371.00 17,746.50 P8,924.09
taxation to be held by such bank subject to the orders of the court. xxxx
Hence, the amount of the provisional deposit should be increased, in order to conform
xxx xxx xxx to the requirement that it should be equivalent to the assessed value of the property.
In the interest of justice, NPC should in the meantime pay Robern reasonable rental,
to be fixed by the trial court in its final decision, for the use and occupation of the
After such deposit is made the court shall order the sheriff or other proper officer to
disputed property from the date of entry until the deposit of the full assessed value of
forthwith place the plaintiff in possession of the property involved and promptly submit
the property, as mandated by Rule 67.
a report thereof to the court with service of copies to the parties. [Underscoring ours.]

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-
In the present case, although the Complaint for expropriation was filed on June 6,
GR SP-46002 are AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS: (1) petitioner is
1997, the Motion for the Issuance of the Writ of Possession was filed on July 28, 1997;
granted a period of ten days from the finality of this Decision within which to file its
thus, the issuance of the Writ is covered by the 1997 Rules. As earlier stated,
answer, in accordance with Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules of Court; (2) NPC shall deposit,
procedural rules are given immediate effect and are applicable to actions pending and
also within ten days from the finality if this Decision, the full amount required under the
undetermined at the time they are passed; new court rules apply to proceedings that
aforecited Rule; and (3) the trial court shall, in its final decision, fix the rental for the
take place after the date of their effectivity.xliv[44] Therefore, Section 2, Rule 67 of the
use and the occupation of the disputed property, from the date of NPCs entry until its
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, is the prevailing and governing law in this case.xlv[45]
deposit of the full amount required under the 1997 Rules. No costs.

With the revision of the Rules, the trial court's issuance of the Writ of Possession
SO ORDERED.
becomes ministerial, once the provisional compensation mentioned in the 1997 Rule
is deposited. Thus, in the instant case the trial court did not commit grave abuse of
discretion when it granted the NPCs Motion for the issuance of the Writ, despite the
absence of hearing on the amount of the provisional deposit.

The Court nonetheless hastens to add that PD 1533 is not being revived.

Under Section 2, Rule 67 of the 1997 Rules, the provisional deposit should be in an
amount equivalent to the full assessed value of the property to be condemned, not
merely ten percent of it. Therefore, the provisional deposit of NPC is insufficient. Since
it seeks to expropriate portions, not the whole, of four parcels of land owned by
Robern, the provisional deposit should be computed on the basis of the Tax
Declarations of the property:xlvi[46]

TCT No. Total Area Area Affected Assessed Provisional


in Sq. M. in Sq. M. Value Deposit
79

G.R. No. 164929 April 10, 2006

ERNELIZA Z. MAMARIL, Petitioner,


vs.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION and DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS, Respondents.

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

The present Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks a relaxation of the Rules on verification and certification against forum shopping,
petitioner’s Petition for Review of a Civil Service Commission Resolution having been dismissed1 by the appellate court for failure to
comply therewith.

On October 10, 1983, Erneliza Mamaril (petitioner) was hired by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) as
Stenographic Reporter on a temporary status. On March 15, 1984, she was promoted to Administrative Assistant II, a permanent position.
In 1992, then DOTC Secretary Jesus B. Garcia, Jr. appointed her as Department Legislative Liaison Specialist (DLLS), a coterminous
position. Her appointment as DLLS was renewed by the succeeding DOTC Secretaries.2
80

The DOTC filed a Motion for Reconsideration of CSC Resolution No. 02-1504 which was denied, by Resolution No. 03-1019 dated
September 26, 2003. In the same Resolution, the CSC declared that petitioner and Cruz are not entitled to back salaries from the time
On December 19, 2000, then DOTC Secretary Vicente C. Rivera, Jr. requested the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to attest that at least
they were separated from the service up to their date of reinstatement.14
two of the four DLLS positions in the DOTC be made permanent. The request was granted by the CSC by Resolution No. 01-0233 dated
January 23, 2001.3
Petitioner thus filed a Motion for Reconsideration of said Resolution No. 03-1019 only insofar as the CSC held that she was not entitled to
backwages. By Resolution No. 04-027915 issued on March 18, 2004, the CSC denied petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration.
Upon verbal query by DOTC Director Carina S. Valera (Director Valera), then CSC Chairman Corazon Alma de Leon advised the DOTC
that the incumbents of the formerly coterminous DLLS positions had no vested right to occupy the already permanent DLLS positions, and
that they were not automatically appointed thereto; and the positions which were made permanent could only be filled up by following Petitioner thereupon filed on March 7, 2004 before the Court of Appeals a Petition for Review under Rule 43 assailing CSC Resolution No.
existing CSC rules and regulations as well as DOTC policies and guidelines on the appointment of personnel.4 03-101916 which the appellate court dismissed, as earlier stated, by Resolution of May 14, 2004,17 for non-compliance with the Rules, it
not having been verified and it containing no sworn certification against forum shopping.

By letter of January 29, 2001,5 DOTC Assistant Secretary for Administrative and Legal Affairs Wilfredo Trinidad (Trinidad) sought from the
CSC a written confirmation of its Chairman’s above-said advice.6 Pending receipt of a reply from the CSC, Trinidad sent separate letters Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the appellate court’s May 14, 2004 Resolution to which she attached a verified petition with
dated February 22, 2001 to petitioner7 and Rolando Cruz,8 the other incumbent of the two DLLS positions, advising each of them as certification against forum shopping, but it was denied by Resolution of August 6, 2004, the appellate court holding that her subsequent
follows: compliance with the Rules "[did] not cleanse her Petition of its infirmity."18

The change of the nature of the DLLS position which you held, from coterminous to permanent pursuant to CSC Resolution No. 010233 Hence, the present petition, petitioner arguing that,
dated 23 January 2001 did not automatically make you the holder of the now permanent DLLS position. This interpretation was confirmed
by Director Carina S. Valera with the then CSC Chairman de Leon.1avvphil.net
I

As your appointment was of cotermin[o]us nature, your services automatically terminated with the non-existence of the cotermin[o]us
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS DID NOT ONLY COMMIT GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN HOLDING THAT
position and the advent of the new appointing authority.
PETITIONER’S SUBSEQUENT COMPLIANCE WITH THE RULES OF COURT DOES NOT CLEANSE HER PETITION OF ITS
INFIRMITY, BUT ALSO DISREGARDED THE JURISPRUDENTIAL DOCTRINE THAT RULES OF PROCEDURE, WHICH ARE MERELY
When the new DLLS permanent positions are authorized to be filled up, you can apply therefor. In the meantime, you may seek SECONDARY IN IMPORTANCE, OUGHT NOT TO BE APPLIED IN A VERY RIGID AND TECHNICAL SENSE AS THEY ARE USED
appointment to any other vacant position that suits your qualifications. Needless to say, selection in any case will follow the usual process ONLY TO HELP SECURE NOT OVERRIDE SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE.
in accordance with the DOTC guidelines and the CSC rules and regulations. (Underscoring supplied)

II
Acting on the above-said query of Trinidad, the CSC, by Resolution No. 01-0502 dated February 22, 20019 which was received at his
office on March 9, 2001 and by the DOTC Personnel Division on March 12, 2001,10 ruled that "the two occupants of the two DLLS
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE PETITIONER
positions are ipso facto appointed to such positions under permanent status if they meet the minimum requirements of the said positions."
IS ENTITLED TO BACK SALARIES FROM THE TIME OF HER ILLEGAL TERMINATION BY RESPONDENT DOTC UP TO THE TIME
OF HER ACTUAL REINSTATEMENT.19 (Underscoring supplied)
In light of the contrary advice previously given by the former CSC Chairman de Leon, the DOTC, by letter of April 27, 2001, sought
clarification on CSC Resolution No. 01-0502.
Petitioner pleads that the dismissal of her petition by the appellate court should be without prejudice as its infirmity was cured by her
subsequent and substantial compliance20 with the Rules which should not be rigidly applied to defeat and override the ends of justice.21
By Resolution No. 01-1409 issued on August 20, 2001, the CSC modified Resolution No. 01-0502 by declaring that "the previous
incumbents of the two Department Legislative Liaison Specialist (DLLS) positions were no longer existing employees as of the date said
On the merits of her petition, petitioner asserts that every employee of the civil service is entitled to security of tenure and should not be
positions were declared by the Commission as career in CSC Resolution No. 01-0233 dated January 23, 2001," and that "DOTC
removed or suspended except for cause provided by law. She concludes that she having been "illegally dismissed," she must not only be
Secretary Pantaleon D. Alvarez may now appoint who will occupy these newly created DLLS positions . . ."11
reinstated but must be entitled to all the rights and privileges that accrued to her by virtue of the office she held, such as her right to back
salaries.22
By petitioner’s own information, her services were "effectively terminated" on September 1, 2001 upon which her name was deleted from
the payroll.12
The petition is bereft of merit.

Petitioner and Cruz filed a Motion for Reconsideration of CSC Resolution No. 01-1409. By Resolution of November 26, 2002, the CSC
Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 7 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure lay down the rules on verification and certification against forum
issued Resolution No. 02-1504 reconsidering and setting aside CSC Resolution No. 01-1409. Petitioner was thus reinstated to her former
shopping as follows:
position on November 26, 2002.13
81

Octot v. Ybañez29 instructs that the good faith or bad faith and grave abuse of discretion in the dismissal or termination of the services of
a government employee come into play in the determination of the award of back salaries upon his reinstatement. In said case, the therein
SEC. 4. Verification. — Except when otherwise specifically required by law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or
petitioner, a security guard in the Regional Health Office No. VII, Cebu City who had been convicted of libel by a trial court, was summarily
accompanied by affidavit.
dismissed pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 6 and LOI Nos. 14 and 14-A issued by then President Marcos directing heads of
departments and agencies of the government to weed out undesirable government officials and employees, specifically those who were
A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and correct of his facing charges or were notoriously undesirable on the ground of dishonesty, incompetence or other kinds of misconduct defined in the
personal knowledge or based on authentic records. Civil Service Law. The therein petitioner was eventually acquitted of the criminal charge. Hence, his request for reinstatement was granted
but not his claim for back salaries from the date of his dismissal. This Court, through then Chief Justice Teehankee, held:

A pleading required to be verified which contains a verification based on "information and belief" or upon "knowledge, information, and
belief," or lacks a proper verification, shall be treated as an unsigned pleading. (As amended, A.M. No. 00-2-10 SC, May 1, 2000.) In the absence of proof that respondent Regional Director acted in bad faith and with grave abuse of discretion, petitioner is not entitled to
backwages and consequently cannot claim for damages. In the case at bar, the record manifests that respondents officials were not
motivated by ill will or personal malice in dismissing petitioner but only by their desire to comply with the mandates of Presidential Decree
SEC. 5. Certification against forum shopping. — The plaintiff or principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory
No. 6. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that he has not
theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the
best of his knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete The denial of the award of back salaries, absent a showing of bad faith and/or grave abuse of discretion in the termination of the services
statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is of a government employee who was reinstated, was reiterated in Clemente v. Commission on Audit,30 Acting Director of Prisons v.
pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been Villaluz,31 and Echeche v. Court of Appeals.32
filed.

Petitioner, however, invokes the rulings in Tañala v. Legaspi,33 De Guzman v. Civil Service Commission,34 Gabriel v. Domingo,35 Del
Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable by mere amendment of the complaint or other initiatory Castillo v. Civil Service Commission36 to the effect that when an official or employee was illegally dismissed and his reinstatement is
pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice, unless otherwise provided, upon motion and after ordered, for all legal purposes he is considered as not having left his office and, therefore, is entitled to all rights and privileges that accrue
hearing. The submission of a false certification or non-compliance with any of the undertakings therein shall constitute indirect contempt to him by virtue of the office.
of court, without prejudice to the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the party or his counsel clearly constitute
willful and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt,
To begin with, petitioner cannot be considered to have been illegally dismissed. Her services were terminated effective September 1, 2001
as well as a cause for administrative sanctions." (Emphasis supplied)
by the DOTC in light of the CSC August 20, 2001 Resolution.

The purpose of requiring a verification is to secure an assurance that the allegations of the petition have been made in good faith, or are
At any rate, no parity of circumstances in the above-cited cases invoked by petitioner obtains in the case at bar.
true and correct, not merely speculative.23 Non-compliance with such requirement does not necessarily render the pleading fatally
defective, hence, the court may order its correction if verification is lacking, or act on the pleading although it is not verified if the attending
circumstances are such that strict compliance with the Rules may be dispensed with in order that the ends of justice may thereby be In Tañala, payment of back salaries upon reinstatement was ordered upon acquittal in a criminal case of the regular employee of the
served.24 government who had been suspended as a result of the filing of said case.37 De Guzman involved a proscribed abolition of office,38
hence, payment of back salaries was ordered upon reinstatement of the separated employee. In Del Castillo, the therein petitioner was
preventively suspended and later dismissed for grave misconduct.39 He was eventually exonerated. He was thus ordered reinstated. He
On the other hand, the rule against forum shopping is rooted in the principle that a party-litigant shall not be allowed to pursue
thereafter filed a "Motion for Clarificatory Relief" praying for an award of backwages. Noting that the CSC did not object to the payment of
simultaneous remedies in different fora, as this practice is detrimental to orderly judicial procedure. The lack of certification against forum
backwages and the Solicitor General in fact recommended the payment thereof, this Court granted the motion.
shopping, unlike that of verification, is generally not curable by the submission thereof after the filing of the petition.25 The submission of a
certificate against forum shopping is thus deemed obligatory, albeit not jurisdictional.26
In Gabriel, the therein petitioner was holding a permanent position of Motor Vehicle Registrar I at the Motor Vehicles Office, later renamed
the Land Transportation Commission. In 1979, the Land Transportation Commission was reorganized, renaming plantilla positions. The
The rule on certification against forum shopping may, however, be also relaxed on grounds of "substantial compliance" or "special
therein petitioner’s position was changed to Transportation District Supervisor, but since another had been appointed thereto, he filed a
circumstance or compelling reasons." The Court thus examined the records of the case on hand to determine the existence of any
protest. During the pendency of his protest, he was extended a casual appointment but his services were "in effect terminated" three days
circumstances or compelling reasons which call for the relaxation of the Rules but appreciated none in light of the following discussion.
later, drawing him to file a complaint for illegal termination of services which reached the CSC. The CSC eventually found that the
issuance to the therein petitioner of a casual appointment which resulted in the termination of his services was illegal and that he was
The general proposition is that a public official is not entitled to any compensation if he has not rendered any service. As he works, so more qualified than the one appointed to his renamed position of Transportation District Supervisor. The CSC accordingly directed his
shall he earn.27 Compensation is paid only for service actually or constructively rendered."28 appointment to his former position. He was appointed alright but to a lower position. He later filed a claim for backwages which was denied
by the Commission on Audit but which this Court ordered granted.

Petitioner’s services were actually terminated on September 1, 2001, after the CSC issued Resolution No. 01-1409 dated August 20, 2001
declaring that "the previous incumbents of the two Department Legislative Liaison Specialist (DLLS) positions were no longer existing
employees as of the date said positions were declared by the Commission as career." She was, however, reinstated on November 26,
2002 after the CSC issued on even date Resolution No. 02-1504 setting aside Resolution No. 01-1409.
82

mortgagor must be the absolute owner of the property mortgaged. This finding, however, is not reflected in the dispositive portion of the
RTC decision, which reads:
In all these cases, the suspensions and/or dismissals were held unjustified, the therein petitioners having been either exonerated from the
charges-bases of suspension or dismissal or were victims of proscribed abolition of office or issuance of appointment to a different position
which soon after resulted in dismissal therefrom. WHEREFORE, with all the foregoing disquisition, the court finds no cogent reason to disturb the findings of the trial court and with more
reason where plaintiff-appellant cannot validly and legally claim, to say the least, any POSSESSION over the subject properties involved
herein. Hence, the assailed decision, should be, as it is AFFIRMED en toto [sic].
That the DOTC’s termination of petitioner’s services in accordance with the August 20, 2001 Resolution of the CSC was not attended with
bad faith and/or grave abuse of discretion, it cannot, under the facts and circumstances of the case, be gainsaid.
No cost.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED.


SO ORDERED.3

G.R. No. 136100 July 24, 2000


On December 12, 1996, Land Bank filed in the Court of Appeals (CA) a motion for a 30-day extension to file a petition for review, alleging
that:
FELIPE G. UY, petitioner,
vs.
THE LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. 1. On May 7, 1996, LANDBANK, received a copy of the decision promulgated by the respondent Regional Trial Court of
Iloilo on April 19, 1996;

DECISION
2. On May 16, 1996, Petitioner LANDBANK filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the aforementioned decision;

KAPUNAN, J.:
3. On December 6, 1996, LANDBANK received a Notice of Resolution promulgated on November 15, 1996 denying the
said Motion for Reconsideration. Thus, LANDBANK has six (6) days or until December 12, 1996 to elevate the case
On February 24, 1988, the Land Bank of the Philippines filed before the Metropolitan Trial Circuit Court of Iloilo City (MTCC) a complaint
through a petition for review on certiorari to the Honorable Court of Appeals;
for unlawful detainer against Felipe Uy. The bank claimed ownership of two parcels of land located in Quezon Street, Iloilo City, and of the
two-story house built thereon, and sought the ejectment of petitioner, the occupant of the premises.
4. On December 10, 1996, the undersigned counsel received the records of this case from the Petitioner’s Regional Legal
Manager based in Iloilo City, for purposes of filing the said Petition for Review on Certiorari since it is the practice of
The properties were originally owned by a certain Tia Yu. Tia Yu, through a special power of attorney, authorized Gold Motors Parts
Petitioner that appealed cases are being handled by its Head Office Lawyers. Hence, undersigned counsel only have two
Corporation to mortgage the same as security for a loan extended by the bank to Gold Motors. On August 19, 1980, Gold Motors
(2) days to file the said Petition for Review on Certiorari;
mortgaged the properties to Land Bank but it eventually defaulted on the loan, prompting Land Bank to initiate foreclosure proceedings.
The highest bidder in the foreclosure sale, Land Bank was subsequently issued a certificate of sale in its favor. Titles to the properties1
were consolidated in the name of Land Bank in October 1986. 5. That the records sent by the Petitioner’s Regional Legal Manager in Iloilo City is incomplete and undersigned counsel
already notified the former of the needed documents and hence, the latter lacks material time within which to prepare the
Petition for Review on Certiorari;
The defendant, Felipe Uy, averred that he furnished Tia Yu the materials used to construct the house on the land but Tia Yu failed to pay
fully for the value of said materials. Thus, on February 1980, he and Tia Yu agreed that the former shall occupy the house and apply the
rent as payment to the balance of Tia Yu’s debt amounting to ₱400,000.00. The terms of their agreement were later put into writing in a 6. In view hereof, petitioner by the undersigned counsel requests for an extension of thirty (30) days within which to file its
Lease Contract dated June 6, 1982. Petition for Review reckoned from December 12, 1996 or until January 11, 1997;

On March 31, 1989, the MTCC rendered a decision finding in Uy’s favor. The court found that at the time the mortgage was constituted the x x x.4
bank was aware that petitioner was leasing the property. Accordingly, the bank accepted the terms of the mortgage subject to the terms of
said lease. The MTCC disposed of the case as follows:
In a Resolution dated January 14, 1997, the CA granted Land Bank an extension of "fifteen (15) days only or until
December 27, 1996" to file its petition. Land Bank did not file its petition within the extension granted, however. Instead, it
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered dismissing plaintiff[’]s complaint, confirming the right of defendant to continue in possession in filed the petition only on January 11, 1997 or fifteen days beyond the extension granted by the CA.
accordance with the Lease Contract, Exh. "1", as already renewed by defendant per said contract’s own provisions; and ordering the
plaintiff to pay defendant the sum of ₱10,000.00 as attorney’s fees and ₱5,000.00 as litigation expenses.2
On January 23, 1997, respondent filed in the CA a "Manifestation and Motion" reiterating most of the allegations in its
motion for extension, and adding that:
On appeal by Land Bank, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) affirmed the decision of the MTCC in toto. In addition, the RTC made mention in
the body of its decision that the mortgage between Gold Motors and Land Bank was void since under Article 2085 of the Civil Code the
83

On March 4, 1999, counsel for petitioner filed a "Motion for Admission of Verification and Certification against Forum-Shopping."
Apparently, counsel, at the time of the filing of the motion, had not yet received the February 15, 1999 Resolution denying the petition.
xxx
Counsel alleged that:

9. The undersigned counsel could not file the Petition for Review on December 27, 1996 considering that he received the
1. He has filed for the petitioner the above-entitled petition for review on certiorari dated November 30, 1998, with this
essential documents only in the afternoon of December 26, 1996 and besides, the Resolution of the Honorable Court
Honorable Court;
granting him until December 27, 1996 to file the Petition for Review was received only on January 20, 1997. At the same
time, the undersigned counsel also has to contend with the pressures of preparing equally important pleadings,
memoranda and other documents in equally important cases for the Petitioner; 2. Until today, he has not yet been notified of any action taken thereon;

10. In addition and more importantly, the undersigned counsel also needed more time within which to read and study the 3. While again reviewing his "office copy" of the above-entitled petition, he just discovered that it contained no Verification
voluminous records of this case, which he has to do for the first time, before filing the Petition for Review since he was not and Certification Against Forum-Shopping, and he is afraid that the copies submitted and filed with this Honorable Court
the handling lawyer of the case during trial and even when it was appealed with the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo. Hence, may also lack this requirement;
the prayer for a reasonable period of thirty days or until January 11, 1997 within which to file the said Petition for Review.5

4. This non-inclusion of this requirement is only due to excusable neglect and honest inadvertence and may have
Land Bank prayed that the Court of Appeals reconsider its Resolution dated January 14, 1997 and to admit the petition. happened in the process of collating the many pages of the petition and in the attaching the many annexes thereto;

On February 20, 1997, the CA issued a resolution granting the manifestation and motion, and admitting the petition. It also ordered 5. Undersigned most respectfully submits that at this stage of the proceeding, no material damage, injury or prejudice has
petitioner herein to comment on the petition. yet been caused because (a) as earlier stated, he has yet no notice that any action has already been taken by this
Honorable Court on said petition and (b) no pleading has yet been filed by the respondent thereto x x x.7

Previously, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss and an opposition to the manifestation and motion praying for the court to dismiss Land
Bank’s petition. The CA merely noted these pleadings in separate resolutions. Attached to the motion was a "verification/certification."

On March 22, 1997, Felipe Uy filed his comment, raising among other issues, the timeliness of the petition. On March 15, 1999, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, praying that the verification/certification be admitted to cure the defect of
the petition. Petitioner alleged that he received the Resolution denying the petition only on March 10, 1999.

On July 1, 1998, the CA rendered a decision reversing the decision of the RTC. It held that Land Bank had a superior right over the
property since it was already issued a Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) in its name. The CA also ruled that the RTC erred in declaring the On June 14, 1999, the Court issued a Resolution denying the motion for admission of verification and certification against forum shopping
mortgage void since the validity of the mortgage was not in issue in the proceedings before the MTCC. The dispositive portion of the CA for lack of merit. In the same resolution, the Court denied with finality reconsideration of the February 15, 1999 Resolution denying the
decision states: petition.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed decision (dated April 19, 1996) and resolution (dated November 15, 1998) of the On July 28, 1999, petitioner filed a "Motion for Leave to File and for Admission of Second Motion for Reconsideration," reiterating its
respondent court in Civil Case No. 22138 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE – and the private respondent ordered to surrender the allegations in its motion for admission of verification and certification against forum shopping. The motion for leave was accompanied by
possession of the subject premises to the petitioner. Costs against the private respondent. the second motion for reconsideration.

SO ORDERED.6 In a Resolution dated September 27, 1999, the Court required respondent Land Bank to comment on the motion for leave and the motion
for second motion for reconsideration. In compliance, respondent submitted its Comment on November 9, 1999. On December 3, 1999,
petitioner filed a Reply to respondent’s Comment.
Land Bank filed a motion for partial reconsideration, asking that the CA award reasonable rent in its favor. Felipe Uy likewise filed a motion
for reconsideration. The CA denied both parties’ respective motions in a Resolution dated October 2, 1998.
In a Resolution dated March 22, 2000, the Court granted the second motion for reconsideration, reinstated the petition and required
respondent to comment.
On December 2, 1998, Felipe Uy filed in this Court a petition to review the decision of the CA.

In its Comment, respondent submits that the Court should not have reinstated the petition.
In a Resolution dated February 15, 1999, the Court denied the petition for (a) lack of certification against forum shopping, and (b) lack of
verification.
It may be recalled that the Court initially dismissed the present petition on two grounds, namely, (1) for lack of verification, and (2) for lack
of a certification against forum shopping.
84

Petitioner contends that the CA should have dismissed Land Bank’s petition for review outright for having been filed beyond the extension
granted. Petitioner invokes Lacsamana vs. Second Special Cases Division of the Intermediate Appellate Court17 where this Court held
The requirement regarding verification of a pleading is formal, not jurisdictional.8 Such requirement is simply a condition affecting the form
that "an extension of only fifteen days for filing a petition for review may be granted by the Court of Appeals, save in exceptionally
of pleading, the non-compliance of which does not necessarily render the pleading fatally defective.9 Verification is simply intended to
meritorious cases."
secure an assurance that the allegations in the pleading are true and correct and not the product of the imagination or a matter of
speculation, and that the pleading is filed in good faith.10 The court may order the correction of the pleading if verification is lacking or act
on the pleading although it is not verified, if the attending circumstances are such that strict compliance with the rules may be dispensed The Lacsamana ruling, pursuant to Supreme Court Resolution dated November 24, 1992, was subsequently embodied in Rule 6, Section
with in order that the ends of justice may thereby be served.11 3 of the Revised Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals [RIRCA] (As Amended), which states:

The lack of certification against forum shopping, on the other hand, is generally not curable by the submission thereof after the filing of the SEC. 3. Petitions for Review. – Within the period to appeal, the petitioner shall file a verified petition in seven (7) legible copies and (1) one
petition. Section 5, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court provides that the failure of petitioner to submit the required documents that should copy thereof shall be served on each of the respondents. Upon proper motion presented before the expiration of the original reglementary
accompany the petition, including the certification against forum shopping, shall be sufficient ground for the dismissal thereof. period, the Court may grant a non-extendible additional period of fifteen (15) days save in exceptionally meritorious cases within which to
file the petition for review; Provided, however, that should there be no petition filed within the extended period, the case shall be
dismissed. A petition filed after the period shall be denied due course outright. The Regional Trial Court shall be furnished a copy of the
In some cases, though, this Court deemed the belated filing of the certification as substantial compliance with the requirement. In Loyola
resolution to this effect. (As amended by S. Ct. Res., dated November 24, 1992)
vs. Court of Appeals,12 the Court held that the filing of the certification, a day after the filing of an election protest and while within the
reglementary period, constituted substantial compliance.
The Lacsamana ruling was reiterated in Loboro vs. Court of Appeals.18

In Kavinta vs. Castillo, Jr.,13 the Court allowed the submission of the certification after the filing of the petition since Administrative Circular
04-94 was then in effect for only a little over a month when the complaint was filed. "The proximity then of the filing of the complaint to the In the case at bar, the petition was filed 15 days after the period allowed by the CA. If the CA were to strictly follow the provisions of
date of the effectivity of the Circular may be pleaded as a justifiable circumstance, and the belated filing of the certification required Section 3, Rule 6 of the RIRCA, it should have dismissed the petition filed by Land Bank outright. The CA obviously did not find any
thereunder may be deemed a substantial compliance therewith." The ruling, however, was expressly pro hac vice: compelling reason in the motion for extension to warrant the allowance of a period longer than the usual fifteen days. Indeed, it granted an
extension of only 15 days, instead of the 30 days respondent prayed for. Respondent, for its part, should not have assumed that the CA
would grant an extension or, if at all, the time prayed for.19
x x x. We thus rule pro hac vice, but not without a whit of reluctance, that this special circumstance in this case could sustain the action of
the respondent Judge. This should not be taken, however, as a precedent. Elsewise stated, the mere submission of a certification under
Administrative Circular No. 04-94 after the filing of a motion to dismiss on the ground of non-compliance thereof does not ipso facto Nevertheless, we find that the CA did not err in admitting respondent’s petition. There is nothing in the Rules of Court or in the RIRCA that
operate as a substantial compliance; otherwise the Circular would lose its value or efficacy. would prevent the CA from reconsidering its resolution granting only a 15-day extension, and thereafter admitting the petition. Moreover,
the CA in this case apparently found merit in the petition, even granting the same eventually. The court acted well within its discretion for
cases should be decided as much as possible on the merits rather on technicalities.
In Roadway Express, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals,14 the Court considered as substantial compliance the filing of the certification 14 days
before the dismissal of the petition. The Court even cited an instance where this Court allowed the filing of the certification even after the
dismissal of the petition for non-compliance with the requirement: It is also in the exercise of this discretion and, ultimately, in the interest of justice that we have reinstated the petition herein: petitioner’s
right to possession of the property is clearly superior to respondent’s right to possess the same.

x x x If subsequent compliance [citing Sanchez vs. CA, G.R. 111255, February 7, 1994, First Division, Minute Resolution] with Circular 28-
91, after a petition was dismissed for non-compliance was considered by the court as substantial compliance [citing Fajardo, Jr. vs. CA, In respect of the lease on the foreclosed property, the buyer at the foreclosure sale merely succeeds to the rights and obligations of the
G.R. 112558, en banc, Minute Resolution], with more reason should the petition for review be allowed in this case, in view of the pledgor-mortgagor subject to the provisions of Article 1676 of the Civil Code on its possible termination.20 This article provides that "[t]he
compliance prior to the dismissal of the petition. purchaser of a piece of land which is under a lease that is not recorded in the Registry of Property may terminate the lease, save when
there is a stipulation to the contrary in the contract of sale, or when the purchaser knows of the existence of the lease." In short, the buyer
at the foreclosure sale, as a rule, may terminate an unregistered lease except when it knows of the existence of the lease.
The admission of the petition after the belated filing of the certification, therefore, is not unprecedented. In those cases where the Court
excused non-compliance with the requirements, there were special circumstances or compelling reasons making the strict application of
the rule clearly unjustified.15 In the case at bar, the apparent merits of the substantive aspects of the case should be deemed as a The MTCC in this case found it difficult to believe that respondent did not know of the existence of the lease since it was the bank’s
"special circumstance" or "compelling reason" for the reinstatement of the petition. That counsel for petitioner filed the practice to conduct periodic inspections on the property. The MTCC found:
"verification/certification" before receipt for the resolution initially denying the petition also mitigates the oversight.

The contention of plaintiff that it learned of the possession of defendant in 1986 only does not appear to be supported by its own evidence.
In any event, this Court has the power to suspend its own rules when, as in this case, the ends of justice would be served thereby.16 Plaintiff’s witness, Clarita Rebueno, testified that before accepting the property for collateral of a loan, plaintiff "will send the inspector to
check the property and examine the same[,]" and that "[t]he bank will never loan and accept real properties [to be] mortgage[d] without
examining or inspecting the property[;]" x x x that, this procedure was observed in this case; and that, one of the purpose[s] of this
We come now to the merits of the petition.
inspection is to determine the actual occupant of the premises (TSN, Rebueno, January 11, 1991, p. 15-16). Furthermore, after the
mortgage was constituted, which was in August, 1980 in this case, plaintiff also conducted periodic inspection of the premises which is
85

done at least annually, to determine the condition of the property and its actual occupant for the purpose of collection and monitoring of
account (Ibid, p. 18). In fact, the bank inspector reported the name of the occupant – the defendant in this case – to plaintiff (Ibid, pp. 18-
19). Her testimony is corroborated by plaintiff’s witness, Ivan Binayas (TSN, January 30, 1991, pp. 16-20).21

The only conclusion that can be drawn from the foregoing is that Land Bank knew of the lease and, under Article 1676 of the Civil Code, it
may not terminate the same.1âwphi1

The rights, therefore, acquired by the defendant as lessee of the estate above referred to, which were known to the estate above referred
to, which were known to the plaintiff at the time of purchasing it, cannot be prejudiced, as they cannot be affected by such a transfer.

The plaintiff is not, therefore, entitled to terminate the lease in question, and having been subrogated into the legal situation of the lessor,
created by the contract of lease which was known to [plaintiff], it is [plaintiff’s] duty to respect it in toto.22

The issuance of the Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) over the properties in respondent's name does not entitle it to disregard the lease.
A TCT is mere evidence of ownership, and ownership may be subjected to limitations imposed by law, in this case, by Article 1676 of the
Civil Code.

Nevertheless, we agree with respondent that the CA did not err in holding that the RTC, by adverting to the validity of the mortgage,
delved into an issue beyond its jurisdiction. The only issue before the RTC was who between petitioner and respondent had a better right
of possession over the subject properties. The validity of the mortgage was not raised by the parties in the MTCC, much less in the RTC,
and the resolution thereof was not necessary for the disposition of the case.

WHEREFORE, the petition is given DUE COURSE and the decision of the appellate court is SET ASIDE insofar as it ordered petitioner to
surrender possession of the subject property to respondent. The Decision of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities of Iloilo City, Branch 4, is
hereby REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.
86

Meanwhile, the private respondent demanded that the petitioners vacate and surrender possession of the subject property, but the latter
refused to do so. This compelled the private respondent to file an Ex Parte Petition for Issuance of a Writ of Possession,9 docketed as
LRC Case No. Q-14150(01) also with the Quezon City RTC.

Instead of acting on the petition and receiving the evidence of the private respondent ex parte, as mandated by Act No. 3135, as
amended, the RTC set the case for hearing at 8:30 a.m. of August 30, 2001, and ordered that a copy of the petition be served on the
petitioners.10 The latter filed their Answer alleging that (1) the private respondent failed to incorporate a Certificate of Non-Forum
Shopping in its petition; and (2) the petition was abated by the pendency of their complaint in Civil Case No. Q-98-34094 involving the
non-payment of their mortgage obligation, the validity of the foreclosure sale of the mortgaged property and their failure to redeem the
same. The petitioners prayed that the trial court dismiss the petition outright.11 They appended to their answer a copy of their amended
and supplemental complaint in Civil Case No. Q-98-34094.

The trial court conducted a hearing of the petition during which the petitioners and the private respondent adduced their respective
G.R. No. 160479 June 8, 2005 evidence.

SPOUSES GODOFREDO V. ARQUIZA and REMEDIOS D. ARQUIZA, petitioners, On February 22, 2002, the trial court rendered a Decision in LRC Case No. Q-14150(01) granting the petition, thus:
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and EQUITABLE PCIBANK, respondents.
WHEREFORE, the Court holds that the Instant Petition for Issuance of a Writ of Possession is meritorious and should be granted. Let a
writ of possession be issued in favor of the petitioner and directing the Respondents Sps. Godofredo and Remedios Arquiza and all
DECISION persons claiming rights and interest under them to vacate the premises and place the petitioner in possession thereof.

CALLEJO, SR., J.: The petitioner Equitable PCIBank is directed to coordinate with the Branch Clerk of Court, this Court, for the expeditious issuance and
implementation of the Writ of Possession.

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 74592 and its Resolution
denying the motion for reconsideration of the said decision. The assailed decision affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) SO ORDERED.12
of Quezon City, Branch 221, granting the ex parte petition for the issuance of a writ of possession in LRC Case No. Q-14150(01).

The petitioners appealed the decision to the CA alleging that:


The petitioners, spouses Godofredo V. Arquiza and Remedios D. Arquiza, obtained a loan from private respondent Equitable PCIBank for
₱2.5 million. To secure the payment thereof, the petitioners executed a Real Estate Mortgage over their parcel of land covered by Transfer
1. THAT THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING DUE COURSE TO THE "EX-PARTE PETITION FOR ISSUANCE OF WRIT OF
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. N-143274 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City.2
POSSESSION" AND IN NOT DISMISSING THE SAME FOR BEING INDEROGATION OF THE APPELLANTS’ RIGHT TO A DUE
PROCESS OF LAW;
When the spouses defaulted in the payment of their loan, the private respondent filed a petition for extrajudicial foreclosure of the real
estate mortgage. A public auction was held on October 18, 1999 in accordance with Act No. 3135, as amended by Act No. 4118 during
2. THAT THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT APPLYING IN THIS CASE THE WELL-ESTABLISHED RULE ON "LITIS PENDENCIA"
which the mortgaged property, together with all the improvements existing thereon, was sold to the private respondent as the highest
BY NOT DISMISSING THE "EX-PARTE PETITION, etc." IN QUESTION FOR THE REASON "THAT THERE IS ANOTHER ACTION
bidder.3 Accordingly, a Certificate of Sale4 over the property was issued in favor of the private respondent. This was registered with the
PENDING BETWEEN THE SAME PARTIES FOR THE SAME CAUSE; (Sec. 1(e), Rule 16, Rules of Court).
Registry of Deeds of Quezon City on November 22, 1999.5

3. THAT THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN IGNORING THE RULE AGAINST "FORUM SHOPPING" AND THE MANDATORY
Following the expiry date of the redemption period without the petitioners having exercised their right to redeem the property, the private
REQUIREMENT FOR A "CERTIFICATION OF NON-FORUM SHOPPING" IN AN INITIATORY PLEADING LIKE PETITIONER-
respondent consolidated its ownership over the subject property.6 As a consequence, the Registry of Deeds issued TCT No. N-2216507
APPELLEES’ ÉX-PARTE PETITION, etc." IN QUESTION AND FOR NOT DISMISSING SAID PLEADING ON THE GROUND "THAT A
in the name of the private respondent, canceling the petitioners’ former title.
CONDITION PRECEDENT FOR FILING THE CLAIM HAS NOT BEEN COMPLIED WITH" (Sec. 1(j), Rule 16, Rules of Court).

The petitioners filed a complaint against the private respondent and the sheriffs with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City for the
4. THAT THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING TO THE EFFECT THAT SECTIONS 4 & 5, RULE 7 OF THE 1997 RULES OF
declaration of the nullity of the promissory note, real estate mortgage and the foreclosure sale and damages with a plea for injunctive relief
CIVIL PROCEDURE DOES NOT APPLY TO THE "EX-PARTE PETITION, etc." IN QUESTION BECAUSE ALLEGEDLY THE CASE AT
for the suspension redemption period. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-98-34094.8
BAR IS A LAND REGISTRATION CASE.
87

For its part, the private respondent contends that the requirement for the filing of a certificate of non-forum shopping is not applicable,
considering that the ex parte motion for the issuance of a writ of possession is not an initiatory pleading.19 It submits that litis pendentia
5. THAT THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RENDERING A DECISION GRANTING THE RELIEF PRAYED FOR IN THE "EX-PARTE
does not exist because there is no identity of the issues and the reliefs prayed for between the present case and Civil Case No. Q-98-
PETITION, etc. FOR THE ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF POSSESSION AGAINST THE RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS ALBEIT NO
34094. Hence, forum shopping cannot likewise exist.20
EVIDENCE WAS ADDUCED PROVING THAT THE SUBJECT REAL ESTATE MORTGAGE AND ITS FORECLOSURE, AMONG OTHER
SUBSEQUENT PROCEEDINGS, ARE LAWFUL, VALID AND REGULAR, IN CIRCUMVENTION OF THE PREJUDICIAL ISSUES
PRECISELY RAISED IN THE PENDING CIVIL CASE NO. Q-98-34094 INVOLVING THE DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF SAID The private respondent maintains that after the expiration of the redemption period and the consolidation of ownership over the property, it
MORTGAGE AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS.13 had the right to be placed in possession thereof without the need of a separate and independent action. It posits that the right to possess
an extrajudicially foreclosed property is not affected by the pendency of an action for annulment of foreclosure proceedings. The private
respondent stresses that the issuance of a writ of possession is a ministerial function of the court, and should be issued as a matter of
The CA rendered judgment affirming the appealed decision. The CA held that the petition for the issuance of a writ of possession was not
course upon the filing of the proper ex parte motion.21
an initiatory pleading; hence, a certification against forum shopping was not necessary. The appellate court also held that there could be
no forum shopping because a petition for the issuance of a writ of possession is but an incident in the transfer of title. The CA held that the
rule requiring the highest bidder to be placed in possession of the property is founded on the right of ownership, which becomes absolute It asserts that the petitioners were not denied their right to due process because, notwithstanding the grant of the writ of possession, they
after title thereto has been issued in favor of the new owner, and that the court must aid in effecting its delivery.14 may still resort to another proceeding to question the regularity and validity of the foreclosure sale. It points out that the petitioners should
appreciate the fact that the court a quo allowed them to participate in the proceedings even if the motion for issuance of a writ of
possession was ex parte in nature.22 Finally, the private respondent avers that it had presented sufficient evidence to show that it is
The motion for reconsideration of the decision having been denied by the CA, the petitioners filed their petition for review on certiorari with
entitled to the possession of the subject property.23
this Court and raised the following issues:

The petition is denied for lack of merit.


Firstly, is it right, proper and just for the Court below to completely ignore and disregard a related prior and pending action between the
same parties where the very basis of the right of possession over the subject property sought to be enforced as a result of the foreclosure
of a "mortgage" is being assailed in court for being NULL AND VOID ab initio OR INEXISTENT? The assailed ruling of the CA is correct. The certification against forum shopping is required only in a complaint or other initiatory
pleading.24 The ex parte petition for the issuance of a writ of possession filed by the respondent is not an initiatory pleading. Although the
private respondent denominated its pleading as a petition, it is, nonetheless, a motion. What distinguishes a motion from a petition or other
Secondly, is it right, proper and just for the Court below to summarily close its eyes to the patent and obvious flaw or irregularity of the
pleading is not its form or the title given by the party executing it, but rather its purpose. The office of a motion is not to initiate new
"mortgage" in the appreciation of the evidence offered in support of the Ex-Parte Petition For the Issuance of a Writ of Possession?
litigation, but to bring a material but incidental matter arising in the progress of the case in which the motion is filed.25 A motion is not an
independent right or remedy, but is confined to incidental matters in the progress of a cause. It relates to some question that is collateral to
Thirdly, does the application of Section 7 of Act 3135, as amended by Act 4118, as the Court below did, exclude or preclude the effectivity the main object of the action and is connected with and dependent upon the principal remedy.26 An application for a writ of possession is
or applicability of the mandate against forum shopping, of the requirement for certification in pleadings against forum shopping, of the a mere incident in the registration proceeding. Hence, although it was denominated as a "petition," it was in substance merely a motion.
principle of "litis pendentia," and of due process of law?15 Thus, the CA correctly made the following observations:

The petitioners assert that the ex parte petition for the issuance of the writ of possession should have been dismissed by the RTC for Such petition for the issuance of a writ of possession is filed in the form of an ex parte motion, inter alia, in the registration or cadastral
failure to attach a certification against forum shopping. They claim that this requirement is mandatory and there is no law exempting the proceedings if the property is registered. Apropos, as an incident or consequence of the original registration or cadastral proceedings, the
private respondent’s ex parte petition from compliance therewith.16 motion or petition for the issuance of a writ of possession, not being an initiatory pleading, dispels the requirement of a forum-shopping
certification. Axiomatic is that the petitioner need not file a certification of non-forum shopping since his claims are not initiatory in
character (Ponciano vs. Parentela, Jr., 331 SCRA 605 [2000])27
The petitioners contend that they are legally entitled to be protected in their possession over the subject property pending the resolution of
Civil Case No. Q-98-34094 for the declaration of nullity of the promissory note, real estate mortgage, and foreclosure sale. They argue that
the issuance of a writ of possession preempted and pre-judged the outcome of Civil Case No. Q-98-34094. The petitioners maintain that It bears stressing that Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended by Act No. 4118, specifically provides that the buyer at public auction may
the ex parte petition for the issuance of a writ of possession violated the petitioners’ right to procedural due process considering that file a verified petition in the form of an ex parte motion.
Section 4, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court requires every written motion to be set for hearing, except for those which would not prejudice the
rights of the adverse party.17
SEC. 7. In any sale made under the provisions of this Act, the purchaser may petition the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial
Court) of the province or place where the property or any part thereof is situated, to give him possession thereof during the redemption
The petitioners maintain that the private respondent failed to substantiate its ex parte petition for the issuance of the writ of possession. period, furnishing bond in an amount equivalent to the use of the property for a period of twelve months, to indemnify the debtor in case it
They fault the trial court for not scrutinizing judiciously the private respondent’s evidence because had it done so, it would have noted the be shown that the sale was made without violating the mortgage or without complying with the requirements of this Act. Such petition shall
nullity of the mortgage, which appears to have been executed not by the owners of the subject property. They question the private be made under oath and filed in form of an ex parte motion in the registration or cadastral proceedings if the property is
respondent’s failure to attach the promissory notes evidencing their loan, which would have shown that the real estate mortgage was registered, or in special proceedings in the case of property registered under the Mortgage Law or under Sec. 194 of the Administrative
executed prior to the execution of the said promissory notes. The petitioners aver that the private respondent failed to prove the validity Code, or of any other real property encumbered with a mortgage duly registered in the office of any register of deeds in accordance with
and legality of the real estate mortgage, and without a valid mortgage, there can be no valid foreclosure sale or valid title.18 any existing law, and in each case the clerk of court shall, upon the filing of such petition, collect the fees specified in par. 11 of Sec. 114
88

Rejoinder42 to the private respondent’s Reply. The petitioners were even allowed to adduce and offer documentary evidence.43 What the
fundamental law prohibits is total absence of opportunity to be heard. When a party has been afforded opportunity to present his side,
of Act No. 496, and the court shall, upon the filing of the bond, order that a writ of possession issue, addressed to the sheriff of the
such party cannot feign denial of due process.44
province in which the property is situated, who shall execute said order immediately.

The petitioners’ contention that the private respondent failed to sufficiently establish its right to a writ of possession is belied by the
Indeed, it is well-settled that an ordinary action to acquire possession in favor of the purchaser at an extrajudicial foreclosure of real
evidence. In support of its application for a writ of possession, the private respondent submitted the following documentary evidence: (1)
property is not necessary. There is no law in this jurisdiction whereby the purchaser at a sheriff’s sale of real property is obliged to bring a
real estate mortgage; (2) TCT No. N-143274 in the name of the petitioners, and the annotations on its back of the real estate mortgage,
separate and independent suit for possession after the one-year period for redemption has expired and after he has obtained the sheriff’s
certificate of sale, and the consolidation of ownership; (3) the petition for sale; (4) affidavit of publication of the extrajudicial sale; (5) TCT
final certificate of sale.28 The basis of this right to possession is the purchaser’s ownership of the property. The mere filing of an ex parte
No. N-221650 in the name of the private respondent; (6) notice to vacate; (7) petitioners’ reply to the notice to vacate; and (8) affidavit of
motion for the issuance of the writ of possession would suffice, and no bond is required.29lawphil.net
consolidation of ownership.

The Court rejects the contention of the petitioners that the RTC erred in not dismissing the petition of the private respondent on the
The petitioners fault the trial court for not delving into the validity of the mortgage and the foreclosure proceeding before granting the
grounds of forum shopping and litis pendentia, in view of the pendency of Civil Case No. Q-98-34094.
petition for a writ of possession. This contention is barren of legal basis. The judge to whom an application for writ of possession is filed
need not look into the validity of the mortgage or the manner of its foreclosure. In the issuance of a writ of possession, no discretion is left
The requisites of litis pendentia are the following: (a) identity of parties, or at least such as representing the same interests in both actions; to the trial court. Any question regarding the cancellation of the writ or in respect of the validity and regularity of the public sale should be
(b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and (c) the identity of the two cases such determined in a subsequent proceeding as outlined in Section 8 of Act No. 3135.45
that judgment in one, regardless of which party is successful, would amount to res judicata in the other.30 And one element of res judicata
is that the judgment or order must be on the merits of the case.31
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 74592 are AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
As heretofore ruled by the Court, the petition of the private respondent for a writ of possession was not an ordinary action. Any order or
decision of the RTC in LRC Case No. Q-14150(01) is not determinative of the merits of Civil Case No. Q-98-34094.
SO ORDERED.

Well established is the rule that after the consolidation of title in the buyer’s name for failure of the mortgagor to redeem, the writ of
possession becomes a matter of right. Its issuance to a purchaser in an extrajudicial foreclosure is merely a ministerial function.32 The
issuance of the writ of possession being a ministerial function, and summary in nature, it cannot be said to be a judgment on the merits,
but simply an incident in the transfer of title. Hence, a separate case for annulment of mortgage and foreclosure sale cannot be barred by
litis pendentia or res judicata.33

Conversely, we reject the petitioners’ argument that the ex parte petition for the issuance of a writ of possession should have been
dismissed on the ground of forum shopping. The test to determine whether a party violated the rule against forum shopping is whether the
elements of litis pendentia are present, or whether a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another.34 In other words,
when litis pendentia or res judicata does not exist, neither can forum shopping exist. Having settled that litis pendentia does not exist, it
follows then that no forum shopping likewise exists in this case. The Court’s ruling in Ong vs. Court of Appeals35 is instructive, thus:

As a rule, any question regarding the validity of the mortgage or its foreclosure cannot be a legal ground for refusing the issuance of a writ
of possession. Regardless of whether or not there is a pending suit for annulment of the mortgage or the foreclosure itself, the purchaser
is entitled to a writ of possession, without prejudice of course to the eventual outcome of said case.36

Likewise barren of merit is the petitioners’ contention that they were denied their right to due process by the RTC.

Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended, specifically provides that a petition (for a writ of possession) is in the nature of an ex parte motion
in which the court hears only one side of the controversy.37 An ex parte proceeding presupposes a right of the petitioners to which there
is no adverse party.38 An ex parte proceeding merely means that it is taken or granted at the instance and for the benefit of one party,
and without notice to or contestation by any party adversely affected.39

In this case, the RTC opted not to conduct an ex parte hearing. It went out of its way and set the application for a writ of possession for
hearing as shown by the trial court’s Order40 dated June 25, 2001. Moreover, the petitioners were allowed to file an Answer,41 and a
89

For failure of petitioners to cure the defects that resulted in the dismissal of their petition, per Resolution dated May 25,
2001, the "Motion for Reconsideration" of the Resolution dated June 6, 2001, is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

Petitioners presented the following issues in their Memorandum: 1) whether there was substantial compliance with the certification of non-
forum shopping before the CA; 2) whether the written explanation of why personal service was not done is a mandatory requirement in
pleadings filed before the CA; 3) whether the remaining balance of compensation of Atty. Gabriel should be released; and 4) whether the
probate court can take cognizance of the tax controversies.14

The petition is devoid of merit. The CA committed no reversible error in issuing the assailed Resolutions.

On the first issue regarding the certification against forum shopping, the Rules of Court provides that the plaintiff or the principal party shall
certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading the requirements as mandated under Section 5, Rule 7.15 The said
requirements are mandatory, and therefore, strict compliance thereof is necessary for the proper administration of justice.

In the petition filed by the petitioners in the CA, the verification and the certification against forum shopping were signed by Teresa Gabriel
rt's refusal to order the release of the amount of Php648,000.00 representing the compensation of Atty. Gabriel as the executor of the last
alone, albeit there were seven petitioners therein.16 In their Memorandum,17 petitioners proffer the view that the signature of Teresa,
will and testament; and (2) the court's insistence to hear respondents' allegation of non-payment of taxes resulting from the sale of the
being the mother of the rest of the petitioners, should be considered as substantial compliance, for she was willing to take the risk of
properties located at Quiapo, Manila, for which reason the compensation of Atty. Gabriel should not be released until resolution by the
contempt and perjury should she be found lying. According to petitioners, what is fatal is the utter lack of signatory in the certification.18
probate court on this matter.9

In numerous decisions,19 this Court has been consistent in stringently enforcing the requirement of verification20 and certification of non-
In the meantime, the parties came to an agreement to divide the amount deposited in court. Petitioners received Php284,400.00, and
forum shopping. When there is more than one petitioner, a petition signed solely by one of them is defective, unless he was authorized by
thus, there still remained a balance of Php363,600.00.10
his co-parties to represent them and to sign the certification. The attestation contained in the certification of non-forum shopping requires
personal knowledge by the party who executed the same.21
On May 25, 2001, the first questioned Resolution11 was rendered by the CA, the pertinent portion of which reads:

In the instant case, the records are bereft of anything that would show that Teresa was authorized by the other petitioners to file the
An examination of the instant petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus reveals that: petition. In the certification against forum shopping, the principal party is required to certify under oath as to the matters contained therein
and failure to comply with the requirements shall not be curable by amendment but shall be a ground for the dismissal of the case.
Personal knowledge of the party executing the same is important and a similar requirement applies to the verification. Thus, the
1. The verification and certification of non-forum shopping was signed by only one (Teresa S. Gabriel) of
verification and certification signed only by Teresa are utterly defective, and it is within the prerogative of the court to dismiss the petition.
the seven petitioners, and there is no showing or proof that she was duly authorized to sign on behalf of
her co-petitioners; and
As aptly stated in Ortiz v. CA,22 substantial compliance will not suffice in a matter involving strict observance. The attestation contained in
the certification of non-forum shopping requires personal knowledge by the party who executed the same. To deserve the Court's
2. There is no written explanation why copies of the petition had to be furnished the respondents by way
consideration, petitioners must show reasonable cause for failure to personally sign the certification. They must convince the Court that
of registered mail rather than through the preferred personal service.
the outright dismissal of the petition would defeat the administration of justice. In this case, the petitioners did not give any explanation to
warrant their exemption from the strict application of the rule. Downright disregard of the rules cannot justly be rationalized by harking on
WHEREFORE, premises considered, for being insufficient in form and substance pursuant to Section 1, 2 & 3, par. 2, the policy of liberal construction.23
Rule 65, in relation to Section 3 pars. 3 & 5, Rule 46 and Section 11, Rule 13 both of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus is hereby DENIED DUE COURSE and accordingly DISMISSED.
On the second issue, the written explanation why another mode of service was resorted to is a mandatory and indispensable requirement
in pleadings or papers filed before all the courts of the land. Parties must exert their best to effect personal service. The Rules of Court24
SO ORDERED.12 provides that personal service of petitions and other pleadings is the general rule, while a resort to other modes of service and filing is the
exception.25 Strictest compliance with Section 11 of Rule 13 is mandated by the Court,26 and noncompliance therewith is a ground for
the denial of the petition or the expulsion of the pleading from the records.
On September 11, 2001, the second assailed Resolution13 was issued by the CA, the relevant portion of which reads:
90

This Court will no longer dwell on the third issue because it is a matter that should be ventilated before the probate court.

As to the fourth issue, the probate court can rightfully take cognizance of the unpaid taxes of the estate of the deceased; if the estate is
found liable, the probate court has the discretion to order the payment of the said taxes.27

Finally, petitioners should bear in mind that the right to appeal is not a natural right or a part of due process. It is merely a statutory
privilege, and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law. The party who seeks to avail of the
remedy of appeal must comply with the requirements of the rules; otherwise, the appeal is lost. Rules of procedure are required to be
followed, except only when, for the most persuasive of reasons, they may be relaxed to relieve the litigant of an injustice not
commensurate with the degree of his thoughtlessness in not complying with the procedure prescribed.28

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Resolutions of the Court of Appeals dated May 25,
2001 and September 11, 2001 are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 157696-97 February 9, 2006

MARICALUM MINING CORPORATION, Petitioner,


vs.
HON. ARTURO D. BRION in his official capacity as Acting Secretary of Labor and Employment and the NATIONAL MINES AND
ALLIED WORKERS UNION (NAMAWU Local 103), Respondents.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeks to set aside the Decision1 dated 24 January 2002 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 65351 and No. 65458 entitled, "Carlos G. Nerja, Jr., et al. v. Hon. Arturo D. Brion, et al." and
"Maricalum Mining Corporation v. Hon. Arturo D. Brion, et al.," respectively, and the Resolution dated 18 March 2003 denying petitioner’s
motion for reconsideration.
91

bargaining agent, and providing for an annual across-the-board increase in the daily wage of all rank and file workers in
the amount of P60.00 per day from February, 1995 until January, 1998 and another P50.00 increase annually effective
Petitioner Maricalum Mining Corporation (MMC) is a domestic corporation engaged in mining business and operation, while private
February 1, 1998 until January 31, 2000.
respondent National Mines and Allied Workers Union Local 103 (NAMAWU) is the exclusive bargaining agent of the rank and file
employees of petitioner.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which was granted by succeeding DOLE Secretary Cresenciano Trajano in an order dated 17
April 1998 (Trajano order). The Trajano order modified the Quisumbing order as follows: (1) setting aside the finding of illegal dismissal
On 29 January 1996, NAMAWU submitted its Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) proposals to petitioner. Due to petitioner’s inaction
and unfair labor practice and remanding these issues to the arbitration level of the NLRC for a hearing on the merits; and (2) deleting the
to the proposals submitted by NAMAWU, the latter filed on 19 March 1996, its first Notice of Strike with the National Conciliation and
award of backwages for the workers to be reinstated. The pertinent portions of the Trajano order state:
Mediation Board (NCMB), Bacolod City, for refusal to bargain and Unfair Labor Practice.

This Office finds that there are no new matters/evidence in the Motion for Reconsideration which would warrant a reversal of Our decision
Eventually, petitioner presented its counter-proposals and started the CBA negotiations. While the negotiations were going on, petitioner
on wage issue.
dismissed some workers effective 06 May 1996.

We however find it necessary, in the interest of justice and fairness, to reconsider Our finding of Unfair Labor Practice which could
On 23 August 1996, NAMAWU filed a second Notice of Strike for Unfair Labor Practice against petitioner.
ultimately subject the Company and its officers to criminal prosecution.

On 05 September 1996, while the NCMB Bacolod City was conducting conciliation meetings, petitioner issued Notices of Temporary Lay-
xxxx
off to its selected rank and file employees effective 07 October 1996.

This being the case, it is a matter of necessity that a full-blown hearing be conducted on the issue of unfair labor practice. Indeed, Art. 247
After the NCMB failed to conciliate the labor dispute between NAMAWU and petitioner, then Department of Labor and Employment
of the Labor Code, as amended, mandates that a hearing should be conducted in the resolution of an unfair labor practice.
(DOLE) Secretary Leonardo Quisumbing,2 on 03 October 1996, assumed jurisdiction over the case docketed as OS-AJ-10-96-014
(NCMB-RB6-08-06-96).
Pending resolution of the issue of unfair labor practice and illegal termination, the Company is directed to physically reinstate all workers,
whether union members or not who were laid-off on May 7, 1996 and October 7, 1996.
Meanwhile, Pedro M. Abuana, Jr., an adversely affected employee of petitioner during the retrenchment effected on 07 October 1996,
filed, in his own behalf, an illegal dismissal case against the petitioner before the Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI, National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC) docketed as RAB Case No. 06-12-10636-96 (Abuana case). The Labor Arbiter ruled that the dismissal of WHEREFORE, except as above modified, Our Order dated 30 July 1997 is hereby AFFIRMED.
Abuana was legal and valid.3 On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the ruling of the Labor Arbiter, which decision became final and executory.4

The Executive Labor Arbiter, Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI, National Labor Relations Commission, is hereby deputized as Hearing
In an order dated 30 July 1997 (Quisumbing order), Secretary Quisumbing resolved the labor dispute in favor of NAMAWU: (1) directing Officer and is directed to conduct hearing/s and receive evidence as expeditiously as possible on the issues of unfair labor practice and
the reinstatement with backwages of the workers laid-off in May and October 1996; (2) finding petitioner guilty of illegal dismissal and terminations effected by the Company on May 7, 1996 and October 7, 1996, and to submit his Report and Recommendation to this Office
unfair labor practice; (3) directing the parties to enter into a collective bargaining agreement incorporating all the terms and conditions of within ten (10) days from termination of the hearing.
the previous bargaining agreement; and (4) providing for across-the-board increase of all rank-and-file workers. The dispositive portion
reads:
Meanwhile, as earlier mentioned, on 30 April 1998, the Labor Arbiter handling RAB Case No. 06-12-10636-96 which was filed by Abuana
ruled that the retrenchment effected by MMC on 07 May 1996 and 07 October 1996 were valid and legal.5
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:

Dissatisfied by the Quisumbing and Trajano orders, petitioner MMC filed a petition for certiorari before this Court docketed as G.R. No.
1. Declaring that lay-offs implemented on May 7, 1996 and October 7, 1996 as illegal: 133519 entitled, "Maricalum Mining Corporation v. Hon. Cresenciano B. Trajano, et al." In a resolution dated 06 July 1998 (Resolution),
this Court dismissed the petition on the ground that the then Secretary of DOLE Quisumbing did not commit grave abuse of discretion in
issuing his order dated 30 July 1997.
2. Ordering that all workers, whether union members or not, who were laid-off on May 7, 1996 and October 7, 1996 be
immediately reinstated without gap in service, loss of seniority, and that their full backwages and benefits from the time of
termination until actual reinstatement be paid; Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the Resolution.

3. Declaring the Company to have violated the Labor Code provisions on Unfair Labor Practice for negotiating in bad faith On 11 September 1998, NAMAWU filed a Motion for Partial Execution with the DOLE which was not acted upon due to the pendency of
and later refusing to negotiate; and petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.

4. Ordering the parties to enter into a new collective bargaining agreement incorporating all the terms and conditions of
the previous collective bargaining agreement between the Company and the NFL, except the name of the exclusive
92

Let a partial writ of execution be issued directing the Sheriff, Regional Office No. VI, Department of Labor and Employment, Bacolod City
to proceed to the premises of Mariculum Mining Corporation to execute the Order dated July 30, 1997 affirmed by the Court of Appeals
During the pendency of petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, the decision in St. Martin’s Funeral Homes v. National Labor Relations
and the Supreme Court in the resolutions dated June 14, 1999 and July 6, 1998, respectively, and collect the aggregate amount of
Commission6 was promulgated. Following the ruling in said case, petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of our resolution dated 06 July
P159,054,971.30 whose breakdown is specified in the partial writ of execution.
1998 was remanded to the Court of Appeals for proper disposition.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. On 11 May 2001, then DOLE Acting Secretary Brion issued a Partial Writ of Execution,9
On 14 June 1999, the appellate court denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
directing to proceed to the MMC premises for the execution of the same. In an order dated o6 June 2001, Acting Secretary Brion denied
petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
Still undaunted, petitioner brought the case anew to this Court via petition for review on certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 138996 entitled,
"Maricalum Mining Corporation v. Hon Cresenciano B. Trajano, in his capacity as the Secretary of the DOLE and NAMAWU Local 103,"
With the denial of petitioner’s motion, Carlos G. Nerja, Jr. and Eugenio D. Caras, who claimed to represent the 342 employees of
which was, however, denied with finality in a resolution dated 26 January 2000.
petitioner at that time and who allegedly stand to be adversely affected by the enforcement of the Partial Writ of Execution, filed a petition
for certiorari before the Court of Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 65351.
On 10 February 2000, NAMAWU filed an Ex-Parte Manifestation and Second Motion for Execution with the Secretary of DOLE. The
motion also sought assistance from the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) in the computation of the awards/benefits due NAMAWU’s
Petitioner also filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 65458.
members under the Quisumbing order.

NAMAWU filed a motion for consolidation of the two petitions which was granted by the appellate court in its order dated 12 November
On 25 July 2000, the BWC submitted to the DOLE its findings and observation, coming up with a computation in the aggregate amount of
2001.
One Hundred Fifty-Nine Million, Fifty-Four Thousand Nine Hundred Seventy-One and 30/100 (₱159,054,971.30) Pesos for loss of time,
benefits, rice subsidy, health insurance bonus and backwages of union members who were illegally dismissed.
The Court of Appeals dispose of the two petitions by dismissing them in a Decision dated 24 January 2002.

Petitioner filed a comment to the BWC findings on 08 September 2000, stating that the BWC computation was erroneous for the following
reasons: (1) there is no legal basis for the computation of backwages because the Trajano order deleted the award of backwages made in Motions for reconsiderations were filed, which the Court of Appeals denied in an order dated 18 March 2003.
the Quisumbing order; (2) the entitlement to backwages of the employees retrenched in May and October 1996 would be dependent on
the resolution of the cases for illegal dismissal and unfair labor practice; and (3) the wage increase awarded by the Secretary cannot be
Carlos G. Nerja, Jr. and Eugenio D. Caras filed a petition for review before this Court which was dismissed on 09 June 2003.
availed of by the other employees who were not retrenched in May and October 1996.

On 11 April 2003, petitioner filed the instant petition for review on certiorari.
On 18 November 2000, 149 employees of petitioner who claimed were part of the 215 members of NAMAWU filed a Motion for
Intervention With Prior Leave before the Office of the Secretary of DOLE.7

In its Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues:

In an order8 dated 09 May 2001, DOLE Acting Secretary Arturo D. Brion granted NAMAWU’s motion for execution, approved BWC’s
computation of the benefits due to the laid-off employees and denied the motion for intervention, thus: I

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered: WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT THE TRAJANO ORDER MODIFIED THE
QUISUMBING ORDER AND THUS, PUBLIC RESPONDENT GRAVELY ABUSED HIS DISCRETION IN ORDERING
AND ISSUING A WRIT OF EXECUTION BASED ON THE QUISUMBING ORDER.
1. Ordering respondent MMC to immediately reinstate all workers whether union member or not, who were laid-off on May
7, 1997 and October 7, 1996 without gap in service, loss of seniority, and that their full backwages and benefits from the
time of termination until actual reinstatement be paid; II

2. Approving the computation of BWC consisting of 23 pages based on the Order of July 30, 1997 submitted on this office WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT PUBLIC RESPONDENT ACTED
on July 25, 2000 through Director Danilo S. Lorredo and made integral part thereof; WHIMSICALLY AND CAPRICIOUSLY IN APPROVING THE COMPUTATION OF THE BUREAU OF WORKING
CONDITIONS (BWC) WITHOUT GIVING ANY CONSIDERATION TO THE SUPERVENING EVENTS THAT RENDER
THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE BWC COMPUTATION UNREASONABLE AND UNJUST.
3. Denying intervenor’s motion for intervention; and

III
4. Ordering the Bureau of Working Condition to compute the remaining amount of the award due to complainants as per
order of the Secretary of Labor dated July 30, 1997 starting October 1, 1999 until January 31, 2000.
93

Indeed, the timing of the retrenchment of workers tends to confirm the finding of the Secretary of Labor that the cessation of operations on
October 7, 1996 was an illegal lock-out. It is noteworthy that Petitioner claimed business losses to justify the retrenchment of workers at
WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT NAMAWU HAD NO LEGAL STANDING TO
the time when the parties were negotiating a new CBA.
SEEK THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ASSAILED ORDERS GIVEN THAT MAJORITY OF ITS TOTAL MEMBERSHIP
HAS CHOSEN TO DISAFFILIATE.
Considering that he found Petitioner to be guilty of unfair labor practice in bargaining in bad faith, the reinstatement of the dismissed
workers and the grant of wage increase were proper.
The petition has no merit.

It must be noted that the Trajano order omitted the findings of unfair labor practice and illegal dismissal and the award of backwages
On the first issue, petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the assailed orders issued by DOLE Acting Secretary
which were embodied in the Quisumbing order. Since we upheld entirely the findings in the Quisumbing order, i.e., illegal dismissal, unfair
Brion finding that it was the Quisumbing order that this Court upheld in G.R. No. 133519 and that the said order should be the basis for the
labor practice, award of backwages, reinstatement and wage increase in our Resolution, as a result the Trajano order is necessarily
enforcement of the writ of execution.
vacated.

Petitioner stresses that the Trajano order superseded and modified the Quisumbing order, hence, the basis for the issuance and
Furthermore, the dispositive portion could not have been clearer as it categorically declares that the Secretary of Labor, i.e., Leonardo
enforcement of the writ of execution must be the former order. To support its stance, petitioner argues that when it filed the petition in G.R.
Quisumbing, did not commit grave abuse in his order dated 30 July 1997, thus:
No. 133519, it merely questioned the Trajano order inasmuch as the said order affirmed the Quisumbing order directing the reinstatement
of the laid-off workers and the award of wage increase. Petitioner points out that since the only issues raised by it in G.R. No. 133519
were the reinstatement and award of wage increase, it follows that the other issues such as unfair labor practice and the award of WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of showing that the Secretary of Labor and Employment committed grave
backwages are excluded. Thus, the effect of the dismissal of the petition in G.R. No. 133519 was the reinstatement of the Trajano order. abuse of discretion in his order of July 30, 1997.

Petitioner also asserts that even assuming that the Resolution affirmed the Quisumbing order in its entirety without a similar The order that we sustained in the foregoing fallo is the Quisumbing order which is dated 30 July 1997, and definitely not the Trajano
pronouncement that the Trajano order was a nullity, would only mean that there were two valid and subsisting orders. Since the Trajano order which is dated 17 April 1998. Even if we did not explicitly annul the Trajano order, nevertheless the tenor of the Resolution’s
order is the later issuance, ergo, it supersedes and modifies the Quisumbing order. dispositive portion indubitably decreed that we sustained the order dated 30 July 1997 or the Quisumbing order. Indeed, it is the
dispositive part of the judgment that actually settles and declares the rights and obligations of the parties, finally, definitively,
authoritatively, notwithstanding the existence of inconsistent statements in the body that may tend to confuse.13 It is the dispositive part
Petitioner further claims that NAMAWU admitted the validity, finality and enforceability of the Trajano order in its Motion for Partial
that controls, for purposes of execution.14 Hence, there is no doubt that it was the Quisumbing order, not the Trajano order, that we
Execution dated 11 September 1998.
upheld in our Resolution and which should be the basis of the writ of execution.

In the petition filed by petitioner in G.R. No. 133519, the following averments appear:10
As to petitioner’s contention that NAMAWU allegedly admitted in its Motion for Partial Execution dated 11 September 1998 the validity and
finality the Trajano order, the same is unsubstantiated. It does not appear from the said motion that NAMAWU made such categorical
Now, not only was the assumption improperly made, but worse, its implementation was also gravely abused by the then Secretary of admission.
Labor. It may be well to note that in the first assailed Order dated 30 July 1997, the Petitioner was found guilty of unfair labor practice and
illegal dismissal, a finding that was arrived at by then Secretary Quisumbing without observing the measure of due process demanded by
Besides, even if there was such an admission, the same does not bind this Court. It is not the interpretation of NAMAWU that makes the
the gravity of the charges made against MMC x x x.
Trajano order or the Quisumbing order controlling, rather, it is the Court’s declaration that settles such issue.

For all its efforts, the Petitioner should have, at the very least, been spared of these whimsical and arbitrary impositions of the Public
Anent the second issue, petitioner questions the BWC computation. It accentuates that the same is flawed as it included the award of
Respondent and his predecessor in office (referring to Secretary Quisumbing) x x x.
backwages which was already deleted in the Trajano order.

The foregoing portion of the petition amply suggests that petitioner was assailing the Quisumbing order, not only on the issues of
Petitioner also insists that the Abuana case – where the dismissal of Abuana was declared valid, and therefore the award of backwages
reinstatement and the award of wage increase, but also on the matter of unfair labor practice, illegal dismissal and the award of
was deleted by the labor arbiter and later affirmed by the NLRC - should have a bearing in the instant case considering that the
backwages as well. Assuming arguendo that indeed the issues on unfair labor practice and award of backwages were not raised by
circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Abuana are the same circumstances that resulted in the retrenchments of NAMAWU’s
petitioner, there is nothing to prevent this Court from reviewing matters not specifically raised or assigned as error by the parties, if their
members in May and October 1996. As Abuana was not awarded backwages, NAMAWU’s members should not have been awarded
consideration is necessary in arriving at a just resolution of the controversy, as in the instant case. Thus we held:
backwages as well.

x x x It is axiomatic that an appeal, once accepted by this Court, throws the entire case open to review, and that this Court has the
Petitioner likewise avers that the employees who were not retrenched in May and October 1996 should not be awarded the wage increase
authority to review matters not specifically raised or assigned as error by the parties, if their consideration is necessary in arriving at a just
because of subsequent and supervening events such as the fact that these employees had entered into separate agreements with
resolution of the case.11
petitioner for the adoption of a new progressive wage system and that they executed quitclaims releasing petitioner from any liabilities.

In upholding the Quisumbing order over the Trajano order, we resolved:12


94

illegal.18 In the instant case, the execution of the alleged quitclaims appears to be suspect because of the illegal dismissal of the workers
and the unfair labor practice committed by petitioner. For fear of getting nothing from petitioner, it may be readily concluded that
According to petitioner, another reason why the wage increase cannot be availed of by the employees not retrenched in May and October
employees were compelled to sign the quitclaims. Also, petitioner failed to present evidence to show that payments to the workers were
1996, is because the NAMAWU and petitioner have yet to enter into a collective bargaining as required by the Quisumbing order. It is
made.
petitioner’s interpretation of the said order that prior to the implementation of the wage increase, a CBA must first be constituted.

Equally unavailing is petitioner’s assertion that the wage increase or adjustment adopted under the BWC computation is premature since
On the other hand, the Court of Appeals opined that the Quisumbing order, and not the Trajano order, is controlling and should be the
no CBA had been entered into.
basis of the issuance of the writ of execution.

As accurately explained by the appellate court:19


As to the Abuana case, the appellate court ruled that the same cannot prevail over the Quisumbing order, the latter having been affirmed
both by the Court of Appeals and this Court. The Court of Appeals added that the decision in Abuana cannot bind the parties in the instant
case since they are not involved in the said Abuana case. Neither can We subscribe to petitioner’s contention that the wage adjustment or increase adopted in the BWC computation cannot be
implemented in the absence of a new CBA. It is undisputed that the increase adverted to in the BWC computation does not refer to the
agreed wage increase that could only be implemented based on a new CBA. Rather, it refers to the across-the-board increase granted in
Addressing the matter on the execution of quitclaims, the Court of Appeals discredited the same on the grounds that the copies of the
the Quisumbing order as a consequence of a finding of unfair labor practice on the part of MMC due to its failure to observe its duty to
same were not presented, and that granting that they were indeed executed, the same cannot bar the execution of the Quisumbing order
bargain.
in the absence of any showing that the entire amount due the employees was fully satisfied with the execution of the quitclaims.

Anent the third issue, petitioner argues that NAMAWU had no legal standing to seek the implementation of the assailed orders of DOLE
It ruled that the wage increase embodied in the BWC computation does not refer to the agreed wage increase that can only be
Acting Secretary Brion because of the disaffiliation of the majority of its members which deprived NAMAWU’s authority to represent its
implemented after a CBA is reached by the parties, rather, it refers to the across-the-board increase granted in the Quisumbing order as a
members.
result of a finding of unfair labor practice on the part of petitioner due to its failure to observe its duty to bargain. Thus, the wage increase
as computed by the BWC, is legally in order even in the absence of a new CBA.
Article 256 of the Labor Code partly provides:

We agree with the Court of Appeals.


REPRESENTATION ISSUE IN ORGANIZED ESTABLISHMENTS. – In organized establishments, when a verified petition questioning the
majority status of the incumbent bargaining agent is filed before the Department of Labor and Employment within the sixty-day period
Petitioner’s assertion that there is no basis for the computation of backwages, because the backwages awarded in the Quisumbing order
before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, the Med-Arbiter shall automatically order an election by secret ballot when
was deleted in the Trajano order flounders in view of our declaration that the Quisumbing order sets aside the Trajano order.
the verified petition is supported by the written consent of at least twenty-five (25%) percent of all the employees in the appropriate
bargaining unit.
The Court of Appeals is correct in saying that the pronouncement in the Abuana case is not binding on the parties in this case. We further
state that the Abuana case does not affect NAMAWU no matter the similarity in situation is on the ground that NAMAWU was not
xxxx
impleaded as a party in the Abuana case. It is a basic postulate in this jurisdiction that "no man shall be affected [in] any proceeding to
which he is a stranger, and strangers to a case are not bound by any judgment rendered by the court."15 Due process requires that a
court decision can only bind a party therein and not against one who did not have his day in court. At the expiration of the freedom period, the employer shall continue to recognize the majority status of the incumbent bargaining agent
where no petition for certification election is filed.

As to petitioner’s argument on the new progressive wage, suffice it to state that the same issue had already been passed upon in
Maricalum Mining Corporation v. Trajano16 where we affirmed the finding of the Court of Appeals, viz:17 According to the foregoing provision, for a union to become an exclusive bargaining representative of a particular establishment, it must
emerge as winner in a certification election. In the case at bar, there was no certification election held challenging the majority status of
NAMAWU as the exclusive bargaining representative of petitioner’s employees. NAMAWU, therefore, remains the exclusive bargaining
The alleged acceptance of the workers of the new wage structure is likewise unreliable. If the alternative is dismissal, who would not sign
representative of petitioner’s employees and possesses legal standing to represent them.
an "acceptance" of such new wage structure? Besides, as pointed out by the private respondent, even granting that the workers freely
agreed to such wage structures, the company could not have validly negotiated with them without violating the Labor Code, considering
that the private respondent was still then the exclusive bargaining agent of the rank-and-file employees. One final point. NAMAWU accuses petitioner of forum shopping. NAMAWU alleges that the instant petition is filed for the purpose of
preventing the execution of the Quisumbing order as affirmed by this Court on 06 July 1998 in G.R. No. 133519 and on 26 January 2000
in G.R. No. 138996.
Petitioner’s contention that the workers whose services were terminated subsequent in May and October 1996 executed quitclaims does
not merit our attention because petitioner failed to prove such execution.
Petitioner counters that it did not commit forum shopping because the relief prayed for in the previous case was the reversal of the Trajano
order while the relief prayed for in this petition is the reversal of the orders enforcing and executing the terms of the Quisumbing order.
Quitclaims are commonly frowned upon as contrary to public policy and ineffective to bar claims for the full measure of the workers’ legal
rights especially if the following are present: (a) there is clear proof that the waiver was wangled from an unsuspecting or gullible person;
or (b) the terms of the settlement are unconscionable, and on their face invalid, such quitclaims must be struck down as invalid or
95

Forum shopping exists when a party repetitively avails of several judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively, all
substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the same
issues either pending in, or already resolved adversely, by some other court.20 It has been characterized as an act of malpractice that is
prohibited and condemned as trifling with the courts and abusing their processes. The test in determining whether a party violates the rule
against forum shopping is where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the action under consideration or where the
elements of litis pendentia are present. In turn, the elements of res judicata as enumerated in Sy Kao v. Court of Appeals21 are as follows:
(a) identity of parties; (b) identity of rights asserted and reliefs being founded on the same facts; and (c) identity in the two preceding
particulars should be such that any judgment which may be rendered on the other action will, regardless of which party is successful,
amount to res judicata in the action under consideration.

In this case, the parties are the same, petitioner and NAMAWU. The reliefs prayed for are substantially identical which is ultimately the
nullification of the Quisumbing order. Likewise, res judicata22 exists because a ruling of this Court on the issues raised by petitioner would
amount to revisiting and re-ventilating the essentially same issue, i.e., whether or not the Quisumbing order is controlling, which were
already passed upon and definitely resolved by this Court in Maricalum Mining Corporation v. Trajano.23 Even on this ground alone, for
being violative of the rule against forum shopping, the instant petition for review should be denied.24

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 24 January 2002 and its Resolution dated 18
March 2003 are hereby AFFIRMED. With costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 159323 July 31, 2008


96

The Labor Arbiter, in each of the complaints, ruled in favor of petitioner company.20 The first complaint was dismissed after Labor Arbiter
Jesus N. Rodriguez, Jr. found that the company did not have the power of control over Dr. Climaco’s performance of his duties and
COCA-COLA BOTTLERS (PHILS.), INC. and ERIC MONTINOLA, Petitioners,
responsibilities. The validity of the Retainer Agreement was also recognized. Labor Arbiter Benjamin Pelaez likewise dismissed the
vs.
second complaint in view of the dismissal of the first complaint.1avvphi1
SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSION and DR. DEAN CLIMACO, Respondents.

On appeal, the NLRC, Fourth Division, Cebu City, affirmed the Arbiter disposition.21 On petition for review before the CA, the NLRC ruling
DECISION
was reversed.22 The appellate court ruled that using the four-fold test, an employer-employee relationship existed between the company
and Dr. Climaco. Petitioners elevated the case through a petition for review on certiorari23 before this Court.
REYES, R.T., J.:

Meantime, on November 9, 1994, while the NLRC cases were pending, Dr. Climaco filed with the SSC in Bacolod City, a petition24
WE are confronted with triple remedial issues on prejudicial question, forum shopping, and litis pendentia. praying, among others, that petitioner Coca-Cola Bottlers (Phils.), Inc. be ordered to report him for compulsory social security coverage.

We review on certiorari the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) upholding the order of the Social Security Commission (SSC),2 On April 12, 1995, petitioners moved for the dismissal of the petition on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. They argued that there is no
denying petitioners’ motion to dismiss respondent Climaco’s petition for compulsory coverage with the Social Security System (SSS). employer-employee relationship between the company and Dr. Climaco; and that his services were engaged by virtue of a Retainer
Agreement.25

The Facts
Dr. Climaco opposed the motion.26 According to Dr. Climaco, "[t]he fact that the petitioner [i.e., respondent Dr. Climaco] does not enjoy
the other benefits of the company is a question that is being raised by the petitioner in his cases filed with the National Labor Relations
Petitioner Coca-Cola Bottlers (Phils.), Inc. is a corporation engaged in the manufacture and sale of softdrink beverages.3 Co-petitioner
Commission (NLRC), Bacolod City, against the respondent [i.e., petitioner company]."27
Eric Montinola was the general manager of its plant in Bacolod City.4 Respondent Dr. Dean Climaco was a former retainer physician at
the company’s plant in Bacolod City.5
On July 24, 1995, the SSC issued an order stating among others, that the resolution of petitioner company’s motion to dismiss is held in
abeyance "pending reception of evidence of the parties."28
In 1988, petitioner company and Dr. Climaco entered into a Retainer Agreement6 for one year, with a monthly compensation of
₱3,800.00,7 where he "may charge professional fees for hospital services rendered in line with his specialization."8 The agreement further
provided that "either party may terminate the contract upon giving thirty (30)-day written notice to the other."9 In consideration of the In view of the statements of Dr. Climaco in his opposition to the company’s motion to dismiss, petitioners again, on March 1, 1996, moved
retainer’s fee, Dr. Climaco "agrees to perform the duties and obligations"10 enumerated in the Comprehensive Medical Plan,11 which was for the dismissal of Dr. Climaco’s complaint, this time on the grounds of forum shopping and litis pendentia.29
attached and made an integral part of the agreement.

SSC and CA Dispositions


Explicit in the contract, however, is the provision that no employee-employer relationship shall exist between the company and Dr.
Climaco while the contract is in effect.12 In case of its termination, Dr. Climaco "shall be entitled only to such retainer fee as may be due
On January 17, 1997, the SSC denied petitioners’ motion to dismiss, disposing as follows:
him at the time of termination."13

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the respondents’ Motion to Dismiss is hereby denied for lack of merit.
Dr. Climaco continuously served as the company physician, performing all the duties stipulated in the Retainer Agreement and the
Comprehensive Medical Plan. By 1992, his salary was increased to ₱7,500.00 per month.14
Accordingly, let this case be remanded to SSS Bacolod Branch Office for reception of evidence of the parties pursuant to the Order dated
July 24, 1995.
Meantime, Dr. Climaco inquired with the Department of Labor and Employment and the SSS whether he was an employee of the
company. Both agencies replied in the affirmative.15 As a result, Dr. Climaco filed a complaint16 before the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC), Bacolod City. In his complaint, he sought recognition as a regular employee of the company and demanded SO ORDERED.30
payment of his 13th month pay, cost of living allowance, holiday pay, service incentive leave pay, Christmas bonus and all other
benefits.17
Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration31 received the same fate.32

During the pendency of the complaint, the company terminated its Retainer Agreement with Dr. Climaco. Thus, Dr. Climaco filed another
On April 29, 1997, the company filed a petition for certiorari before the CA. On March 15, 2002, the CA dismissed the petition, with a fallo
complaint18 for illegal dismissal against the company before the NLRC Bacolod City. He asked that he be reinstated to his former position
reading:
as company physician of its Bacolod Plant, without loss of seniority rights, with full payment of backwages, other unpaid benefits, and for
payment of damages.19
97

While we deplore the failure of petitioners and counsel in updating the Court on the resolution of the said related case, We hasten to state
that it did not operate to moot the issues pending before Us. We take this opportunity to address the questions on prejudicial question,
WHEREFORE, under the premises, the Court holds that public respondent Social Security Commission did not act with grave abuse of
forum shopping, and litis pendentia.
discretion in issuing the disputed orders, and the herein petition is therefore DISMISSED for want of merit.

No prejudicial question exists.


SO ORDERED.33

Petitioners allege that Dr. Climaco previously filed separate complaints before the NLRC seeking recognition as a regular employee.
Hence, the present recourse.
Necessarily then, a just resolution of these cases hinge on a determination of whether or not Dr. Climaco is an employee of the
company.35 The issue of whether Dr. Climaco is entitled to employee benefits, as prayed for in the NLRC cases, is closely intertwined
Issues with the issue of whether Dr. Climaco is an employee of the company who is subject to compulsory coverage under the SSS Law. Hence,
they argue, said regularization/illegal dismissal case is a prejudicial question.

Petitioners raise the following issues for Our consideration:


The argument is untenable.

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RENDERING THE ASSAILED RESOLUTIONS,
HAVING DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF Our concept of prejudicial question was lifted from Spain, where civil cases are tried exclusively by civil courts, while criminal cases are
THIS HONORABLE COURT, CONSIDERING THAT: tried exclusively in criminal courts. Each kind of court is jurisdictionally distinct from and independent of the other. In the Philippines,
however, courts are invariably tribunals of general jurisdiction. This means that courts here exercise jurisdiction over both civil and criminal
cases. Thus, it is not impossible that the criminal case, as well as the civil case in which a prejudicial question may rise, may be both
I.
pending in the same court. For this reason, the elements of prejudicial question have been modified in such a way that the phrase
"pendency of the civil case in a different tribunal" has been eliminated.36
THE PREVIOUS COMPLAINT FOR REGULARIZATION AND/OR ILLEGAL DISMISSAL, WHICH IS NOW PENDING
RESOLUTION BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT, POSES A PREJUDICIAL QUESTION TO THE SUBJECT OF THE
The rule is that there is prejudicial question when (a) the previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to
PRESENT CASE.
the issue raised in the subsequent criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may
proceed.37 It comes into play generally in a situation where a civil action and a criminal action both pend and there exists in the former an
II. issue which must be preemptively resolved before the criminal action may proceed. This is so because howsoever the issue raised in the
civil action is resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case.38

GIVEN THE ATTENDANT CIRCUMSTANCES, RESPONDENT CLIMACO IS GUILTY OF FORUM SHOPPING, WHICH
THEREBY CALLED FOR THE OUTRIGHT DISMISSAL OF HIS PETITION BEFORE THE SOCIAL SECURITY Here, no prejudicial question exists because there is no pending criminal case.39 The consolidated NLRC cases cannot be
COMMISSION. considered as "previously instituted civil action." In Berbari v. Concepcion,40 it was held that a prejudicial question is understood in law to
be that which must precede the criminal action, that which requires a decision with which said question is closely related.

III.
Neither can the doctrine of prejudicial question be applied by analogy. The issue in the case filed by Dr. Climaco with the SSC
involves the question of whether or not he is an employee of Coca-Cola Bottlers (Phils.), Inc. and subject to the compulsory coverage of
THE PETITION SHOULD HAVE ALSO BEEN DISMISSED OUTRIGHT ON THE GROUND OF LITIS PENDENTIA, AS
the Social Security System. On the contrary, the cases filed by Dr. Climaco before the NLRC involved different issues. In his first
THERE ARE OTHER ACTIONS PENDING BETWEEN THE SAME PARTIES FOR THE SAME CAUSE OF ACTION.34
complaint,41 Dr. Climaco sought recognition as a regular employee of the company and demanded payment of his 13th month pay, cost
(Underscoring supplied)
of living allowance, holiday pay, service incentive leave pay, Christmas bonus and all other benefits.42 The second complaint43 was for
illegal dismissal, with prayer for reinstatement to his former position as company physician of the company’s Bacolod Plant, without loss of
Our Ruling seniority rights, with full payment of backwages, other unpaid benefits, and for payment of damages.44 Thus, the issues in the NLRC
cases are not determinative of whether or not the SSC should proceed. It is settled that the question claimed to be prejudicial in nature
must be determinative of the case before the court.45
The petition fails.

There is no forum shopping.


The Court notes that petitioners, in their petition, averred that the appeal from the NLRC and CA dispositions on the illegal dismissal of
respondent Climaco is still pending with this Court. Upon verification, however, it was unveiled that the said case had already been
decided by this Court’s First Division on February 5, 2007. Anent the second issue, petitioners posit that since the issues before the NLRC and the SSC are the same, the SSC cannot make a ruling
on the issue presented before it without necessarily having a direct effect on the issue before the NLRC. It was patently erroneous, if not
98

What therefore started both in conflicts of laws and in our domestic law as a legitimate device for solving problems has been abused and
misused to assure scheming litigants of dubious reliefs.51
malicious, for Dr. Climaco to invoke the jurisdiction of the SSC through a separate petition.46 Thus, petitioners contend, Dr. Climaco was
guilty of forum shopping.
Thus, in order to prevent forum shopping, the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure now provide:

Again, We turn down the contention.


SEC. 5. Certification against forum shopping. – The plaintiff or principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory
pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that he has not
Forum shopping is a prohibited malpractice and condemned as trifling with the courts and their processes.47 It is proscribed because it
theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the
unnecessarily burdens the courts with heavy caseloads. It also unduly taxes the manpower and financial resources of the judiciary. It
best of his knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete
mocks the judicial processes, thus, affecting the efficient administration of justice.48
statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is
pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been
The grave evil sought to be avoided by the rule against forum shopping is the rendition by two (2) competent tribunals of two (2) separate filed.52
and contradictory decisions. Unscrupulous litigants, taking advantage of a variety of competent tribunals, may repeatedly try their luck in
several different fora until a favorable result is reached.49
Forum shopping is not only strictly prohibited but also condemned. So much so that "[f]ailure to comply with the foregoing requirements
shall not be curable by mere amendment of the initiatory pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice. The
It is well to note that forum shopping traces its origin in private international law on choice of venues, which later developed to a choice of submission of a false certification or non-compliance with any of the undertakings therein shall constitute indirect contempt of court,
remedies. In First Philippine International Bank v. Court of Appeals,50 the Court had occasion to outline the origin of the rule on forum without prejudice to the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the party or his counsel clearly constitute willful
shopping. Said the Court: and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt as well
as a cause for administrative sanctions."53

x x x forum shopping originated as a concept in private international law, where non-resident litigants are given the option to choose the
forum or place wherein to bring their suit for various reasons or excuses, including to secure procedural advantages, to annoy and harass There is forum shopping when one party repetitively avails of several judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively,
the defendant, to avoid overcrowded dockets, or to select a more friendly venue. To combat these less than honorable excuses, the all substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the same
principle of forum non conveniens was developed whereby a court, in conflicts of law cases, may refuse impositions on its jurisdiction issues either pending in, or already resolved adversely, by some other court.54 In short, forum shopping exists where the elements of litis
where it is not the most "convenient" or available forum and the parties are not precluded from seeking remedies elsewhere. pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other.55

xxxx There is res judicata when (1) there is a final judgment or order; (2) the court rendering it has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the
parties; (3) the judgment or order is on the merits; and (4) there is between the two cases identity of parties, subject matter and causes of
action.56
In the Philippines, forum shopping has acquired a connotation encompassing not only a choice of venues, as it was originally understood
in conflicts of laws, but also to a choice of remedies. As to the first (choice of venues), the Rules of Court, for example, allow a plaintiff to
commence personal actions "where the defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be found, or where the plaintiff or any of the Measured by the foregoing yardstick, Dr. Climaco is not guilty of forum shopping. While it is true that the parties are identical in the NLRC
plaintiffs resides, at the election of the plaintiff" (Rule 4, Sec. 2[b]). As to remedies, aggrieved parties, for example, are given a choice of and in the SSC, the reliefs sought and the causes of action are different.
pursuing civil liabilities independently of the criminal, arising from the same set of facts. A passenger of a public utility vehicle involved in a
vehicular accident may sue on culpa contractual, culpa aquiliana or culpa criminal – each remedy being available independently of the
Admittedly, Dr. Climaco’s basis in filing the cases before the NLRC and the SSC is his Retainer Agreement with the company. This does
others – although he cannot recover more than once.
not mean, however, that his causes of action are the same:

"In either of these situations (choice of venue or choice of remedy), the litigant actually shops for a forum of his action. This was the
x x x Some authorities declare the distinction between demands or rights of action which are single and entire and those which are several
original concept of the term forum shopping.
and distinct to be that the former arise out of one and the same act or contract and the latter out of different acts or contracts. This rule has
been declared to be unsound, however, and as evidence of its unsoundness, reference has been made to the fact that several promissory
"Eventually, however, instead of actually making a choice of the forum of their actions, litigants, through the encouragement of their notes may, and often do, grow out of one and the same transaction, and yet they do not constitute an entire demand. The better rule is
lawyers, file their actions in all available courts, or invoke all relevant remedies simultaneously. This practice had not only resulted to (sic) that the bare fact that different demands spring out of the same or contract does not ipso facto render a judgment on one a bar to a suit on
conflicting adjudications among different courts and consequent confusion enimical (sic) to an orderly administration of justice. It had another, however distinct. It is clear that the right of a plaintiff to maintain separate actions cannot be determined by the fact that the
created extreme inconvenience to some of the parties to the action. claims might have been prosecuted in a single action. A plaintiff having separate demands against a defendant may, at his election, join
them in the same action, or he may prosecute them separately, subject of the power of the court to order their consolidation. There may
be only one cause of action although the plaintiff is entitled to several forms and kinds of relief, provided there is not more than one
"Thus, ‘forum-shopping’ had acquired a different concept – which is unethical professional legal practice. And this necessitated or had
primary right sought to be enforced or one subject of controversy presented for adjudication.57 (Underscoring supplied)
given rise to the formulation of rules and canons discouraging or altogether prohibiting the practice."
99

G.R. No. 147570 February 27, 2004


As the SSC and the CA correctly observed, different laws are applicable to the cases before the two tribunals. The Labor Code and
pertinent social legislations would govern the cases before the NLRC, while the Social Security Law would govern the case before the SPS. NUMERIANO and CARMELITA ROMERO, petitioners
SSC. Clearly, as the issues pending before the NLRC and the SSC are diverse, a ruling on the NLRC cases would not amount to res vs.
judicata in the case before the SSC. MERCEDES L. TAN, FLORENTINA L. GONZALES, CELSO L. LUNA, MARIO
LUNA and RAMON L. GARCIA, respondents.
The elements of litis pendentia are absent.
DECISION
Lastly, petitioners contend that the petition of Dr. Climaco before the SSC is defective because there were pending actions between the
same parties and involving the same issues in different fora.58 QUISUMBING, J.:

For litis pendentia to exist, there must be (1) identity of the parties or at least such as representing the same interests in both actions; (2) Petitioners assail the decision1 dated January 19, 2001, of the Court of Appeals in CA-
identity of the rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief founded on the same facts; and (3) identity of the two cases such that GR SP No. 59110, which reversed that of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudication
judgment in one, regardless of which party is successful, would amount to res judicata in the other.59 Board,2 Region III, dated May 9, 2000. The Board found that a tenancy relationship
existed between petitioners and respondents, entitling petitioners to retain possession
of the fishpond in dispute. The appellate court ruled against petitioners, declaring the
In the case under review, there is no litis pendentia to speak of. As previously explained, although the parties in the cases before the
PARAB’s decision void for want of jurisdiction.
NLRC and the SSC are similar, the nature of the cases filed, the rights asserted, and reliefs prayed for in each tribunal, are
different.lawp++il
Subject of this controversy is a private fishpond with an area of one million, two
hundred fifty six thousand and four hundred thirty three (1,256,433) square meters in
As a last attempt, however, petitioners invoke Rule 16, Section 1(e) of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Petitioners contend that the
Barangay San Jose, Lubao, Pampanga. The records show that under a contract to
petition Dr. Climaco lodged with the SSC is "another action" prohibited by the Rule.60
petitioners as lessees by respondents as lessors, the fishpond was leased for
P1,200,000.00 yearly rental. This contract is evidenced by a "Kasunduan Sa
In Solancio v. Ramos,61 the issue centered on whether the pending administrative case before the Bureau of Lands is "another action," Pamuwisan," spanning the period January 1, 1996 until December 31, 1999. 3
which would justify the dismissal of the complaint of plaintiff against defendants before the then Court of First Instance (now RTC) of
Cagayan. Ruling in the negative, the Court noted that "both parties as well as the trial court have missed the extent or meaning of the
Petitioners allege that they have been in peaceful possession of the fishpond as
ground of the motion to dismiss as contemplated under the Rules of Court."62 Mr. Justice Regala, who wrote the opinion of the Court,
tenant-lessee since 1985. They present cash vouchers and hand-written receipts
explained the phrase "another action" in this wise:
covering the period 1987 to 1997.4 In September 1999, respondents gave verbal
notice to terminate petitioners’ lease. According to petitioners, respondents wanted to
This is not what is contemplated under the law because under Section 1(d), Rule 16 (formerly Rule 8) of the Rules of Court, [now Rule 1, terminate the contract because a third party offered to pay higher rent. However,
Section 16(e) of the Rules of Court, supra] one of the grounds for the dismissal of an action is that "there is another action pending despite petitioners’ counter-offer to match the increase in the rent, respondents
between the same parties for the same cause." Note that the Rule uses the phrase "another action." This phrase should be construed in appeared bent on removing petitioners from the premises.
line with Section 1 of Rule 2, which defines the word action, thus –

For their part, respondents aver that there is no relationship of lease-tenancy by


"Action means an ordinary suit in a court of justice, by which one party prosecutes another for the enforcement or protection of a right, or petitioners to speak of. They add that the existing contract between them and
the prevention or redress of a wrong. Every other remedy is a special proceeding."63 petitioners is an ordinary lease, governed by the Civil Code. Respondents further
claim that petitioners failed to pay the agreed rental covering the period January 1,
1997 to December 31, 1997. Accordingly, respondents were constrained to file an
Evidently, there is no "another action" pending between petitioners and Dr. Climaco at the time when the latter filed a petition before the
ejectment case against petitioners before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of
SSC.
Malabon, Branch 55, conformably with the provision on venue in the lease contract. 5

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the appealed decision AFFIRMED.


On July 21, 1997, the MTC issued a judgment based on a compromise agreement
wherein the parties agreed, inter alia, that petitioners would vacate the leased
Costs against petitioners. premises not later than December 31, 1999.6

SO ORDERED.
100

5). Declaring the lease contract between intervenor and defendants as null
and void.10
Both parties admit that the aforestated compromise agreement bore the imprimatur of
the trial court. Equally admitted is the fact that petitioners were not represented by
counsel when they entered into said compromise agreement. In the meantime, while the complaint before the PARAB was pending, herein
petitioners on December 10, 1999, (21 days before the expiration of the lease contract
and the date to relinquish possession of the fishpond pursuant to the compromise
On November 10, 1999, petitioners filed a complaint for maintenance of peaceful
agreement), filed with the RTC of Malabon, Branch 74, a petition for annulment of the
possession and issuance of mandatory preliminary injunction with the Provincial
MTC judgment, order, and compromise agreement.11 Petitioners raised issues
Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board, Region III (PARAB). Respondents filed a motion
concerning the tenancy relationship, lack of assistance by counsel in arriving at the
to dismiss it, alleging lack of jurisdiction, improper venue and litis pendentia, and/or
compromise agreement, as well as lack of jurisdiction by the MTC Malabon because
res judicata. The PARAB in an order dated January 19, 2000 denied the motion to
the subject property is located in Lubao, Pampanga. Respondents filed a motion to
dismiss.
dismiss premised on culpability of petitioners for forum shopping, including lack of
cause of action to file the petition. On March 7, 2001, the RTC dismissed the petition
On January 6, 2000, Kenneth Bautista filed a motion for intervention.7 He alleged that for lack of cause of action and failure to prosecute.12
he had entered into a one year-joint venture agreement8 dated November 30, 1998, to
expire on December 30, 1999, with the petitioners to augment their harvest and
As it turned out, even before the RTC’s Order of dismissal came out in their favor,
enhance their fishpond technology. Intervenor claims that he has the right of
respondents had already elevated the controversy to the appellate court. To be
possession over the subject fishpond as respondents (defendants in the PARAB
precise, on June 8, 2000, respondents filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for
complaint) executed a lease contract extending from January 1, 2000 to December
certiorari assailing the May 9, 2000 decision of the PARAB. Finding in favor of
31, 2003 in his favor.9 He claims that petitioners’ right as lessees of the fishpond
respondents, the Court of Appeals, in a decision dated January 19, 2001, set aside
already lapsed with the expiration of their contract on December 31, 1999.
the PARAB decision, decreeing thus:

On January 28, 2000, petitioners amended their complaint to include intervenor


WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED and
Kenneth Bautista as one of the defendants.
GIVEN DUE COURSE. The assailed Order of January 19, 2000 and the questioned
Decision dated May 9, 2000 are declared NULL and VOID for want of jurisdiction.
After the parties submitted their evidence and position papers, the PARAB rendered
judgment in favor of herein petitioners. It found that petitioners have proved the
Let the final and executory judgment of the MTC of Malabon in Civil Case No. 1694-97
existence of all the elements necessary to establish a tenancy relationship. Dated May
be executed immediately.
9, 2000, the judgment reads:

SO ORDERED.13
Wherefore, in view of the foregoing judgment is hereby rendered:

Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration of the said decision was denied by the CA in a
1) Maintaining plaintiff-spouses Numeriano and Carmelita Romeo as
resolution dated March 19, 2001. Heedless of this development, petitioners filed on
tenants over the subject fishpond;
April 4, 2001, a petition with the RTC of Malabon, Branch 170, for certiorari and
prohibition with prayer for the issuance of preliminary injunction/restraining order. This
2). Ordering the issuance of a Writ of Permanent Mandatory Injunction petition questioned the order of execution dated February 26, 2001 issued by the MTC
restoring plaintiffs in their peaceful possession of the fishpond in question of Malabon, Branch 55, which ordered the execution of its judgment based on the
and directing defendants and intervenor to cease and desist from doing any compromise agreement.14
act which would deprive herein plaintiffs of their possession and cultivation
of the subject fishpond;
Then on April 11, 2001 petitioners filed before this Court an appeal via a petition
praying for reversal of the abovestated CA decision, which ruled that the PARAB had
3). Ordering plaintiffs herein to post bond in the amount of 1.2 million pesos no jurisdiction to hear and decide the complaint filed by petitioners, and thus ordered
in favor of intervenor herein to answer for the damages which the latter the immediate execution of MTC judgment.
might suffer if it should be found later on that the former is not entitled to the
relief prayed for;
Petitioners now assign the following as errors:

4). Ordering the defendants and intervenor to respect the peaceful


possession and cultivation by the plaintiffs of the subject fishpond;
101

…[T]hat the provincial adjudicator’s jurisdiction is only to hear, determine and


adjudicate all agrarian cases, AND disputes and incidents in connection therewith
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT DECLARED THAT THE
(DARAB New Rules of Procedure, Rule 2, Section 2), and considering further that
PROVINCIAL ADJUDICATOR ERASMO SP. CRUZ HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER
lands devoted to fishing are not agricultural lands because the use of the land is only
THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE CASE BASED ON THE CASE OF ATLAS
incidental to and not the principal factor in productivity, as implied by this Court in the
FERTILIZER CORP. VS. SECRETARY OF DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN
Atlas case, it follows that the PARAB has no jurisdiction over the instant case. 17
REFORM, 274 SCRA 30, WHERE THE SUPREME COURT RULED THAT THE
PROVISIONS OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7881 EXPRESSLY STATED THAT
FISHPONDS AND PRAWN FARMS ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE COVERAGE OF On the jurisdictional issue, we find that it was reversible error for the PARAB to have
THE COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM LAW [CARL]; taken cognizance of petitioners’ complaint. The jurisdiction of the PARAB in this case
is limited to agrarian disputes or controversies and other matters or incidents involving
the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) under
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT DECLARED THAT IT IS LIKEWISE
Rep. Act No. 6657, Rep. Act No. 3844 and other agrarian laws.18 An agrarian dispute
DISMISSIBLE CONSIDERING THAT THERE WAS A COMPROMISE AGREEMENT
is defined as any controversy relating to tenurial arrangements, whether leasehold,
BETWEEN THE PETITIONER AND THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS WHICH HAS
tenancy, stewardship or otherwise, over lands devoted to agriculture, including
THE FORCE OF RES JUDICATA BETWEEN THE PARTIES AND SHOULD NOT BE
disputes concerning farm workers associations or representation of persons in
DISTURBED EXCEPT FOR VICES OF CONSENT OR FORGERY;
negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing or seeking to arrange terms or conditions of
such tenurial arrangements.19
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT GAVE DUE COURSE TO THE
PETITION FILED BY THE RESPONDENTS CONSIDERING THAT THE PROPER
Although Section 166 (1) of Rep. Act No. 3844 had included fishponds in its definition
REMEDY IS TO APPEAL THE DECISION OF THE PROVINCIAL ADJUDICATOR TO
of agricultural land within its coverage, this definition must be considered modified in
THE DARAB.15
the light of Sec. 2 of Rep. Act No. 7881, which amended Section 10 of Rep. Act No.
6657, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL).
Principally, the issues for our resolution are (1) whether or not the PARAB had Expressly, the amendment has excluded private lands actually, directly and
jurisdiction to hear and decide the complaint for maintenance of peaceful possession exclusively used for prawn farms and fishponds from the coverage of the CARL. In
and issuance of mandatory preliminary injunction; (2) whether or not the compromise fact, under Section 3 (c) of R.A. No. 6657, as amended, defines an agricultural land as
agreement duly approved by the MTC of Malabon, Branch 55, had the force and effect that which is devoted to agricultural activity and not otherwise classified as mineral,
of res judicata; and (3) whether or not the PARAB decision should have been forest, residential, commercial or industrial land. In turn, Section 3 (b) thereof defines
appealed to the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB), and not agricultural activity as the cultivation of the soil, planting of crops, growing of fruit
the subject of a special civil action of certiorari filed with the Court of Appeals. These trees, including the harvesting of such farm products, and other farm activities, and
issues depend, in turn, on whether the fishpond, which is the subject of the practices performed by a farmer in conjunction with such farming operations done by
controversy, is governed by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). persons whether natural or juridical. Clearly, by virtue of the amendments to the
CARL, the operation of a fishpond is no longer considered an agricultural activity, and
a parcel of land devoted to fishpond operation is not agricultural land as therein
Noteworthy, respondents counter that petitioners are guilty of forum shopping in filing
defined.
different complaints based on the same facts with different judicial and quasi-judicial
bodies. Considering the circumstances of this case, however, we shall first tackle the
substantial issues on the merits before the technical matter raised by respondents. Significantly, although there is no express repeal of Rep. Act No. 3844 as a whole, as
in fact its provisions that are not inconsistent with Rep. Act No. 6657, may still be
given suppletory effect, nonetheless, there is now irreconcilable inconsistency or
Petitioners aver that the PARAB had jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case as
repugnancy between the two laws as regards the treatment of fishponds and prawn
it involves a tenancy relationship. They further claim that this tenancy relationship has
farms. Such repugnancy leads us to conclude that the provisions of Rep. Act No. 6657
long been in existence since 1985 such that any amendment to the Comprehensive
(CARL) supersede the provisions of Rep. Act No. 3844 insofar as fishponds and
Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) to the effect that fishponds are excluded from the
prawn farms are concerned. In any event, Section 76 of Rep. Act No. 6657 (CARL), as
coverage of the latter cannot be given retroactive effect, hence, will not operate to
amended, provides that all other laws, decrees, issuances, or parts thereof
divest the PARAB of its jurisdiction over the complaint.
inconsistent thereto are repealed or amended accordingly.20

The Court of Appeals in ruling that the PARAB has no jurisdiction relies on our ruling
Consequently, we rule that there is no agrarian tenancy relationship to speak of in this
in the case of Atlas Fertilizer Corp. v. Secretary, Dept. of Agrarian Reform 16 where we
case at this time, since certain requirements set by present law on the matter have not
held that Rep. Act No. 7881 expressly provides that fishponds and prawn farms are
been met. Among these are: (1) the subject matter should be agricultural land; (2) the
excluded from the coverage of CARL. In reversing the PARAB’s findings, the appellate
court stated:
102

of official duty, such presumption of regularity should be upheld. 27 Besides, it is


presumed that a person would take ordinary care of his concerns,28 such that
purpose should be agricultural production; and (3) there should be personal cultivation
petitioners’ failure to obtain counsel at that time must be deemed with full knowledge
done by the tenants themselves.21
of the consequences thereof. Had petitioners truly believed that the compromise
agreement should have been stricken down, the proper course to take would have
Unless the requisite elements of agrarian tenancy concur in order to create a tenancy been to file a motion to set aside the agreement on grounds of nullity under Article
relationship between the parties, we cannot bring the matter within the purview of 2038 of the Civil Code. It is well settled that a judicial compromise has the effect of res
tenancy under CARL. The absence of one element makes an occupant of a parcel of judicata and is immediately executory and not appealable unless set aside as
land, or a cultivator thereof, or a planter thereon outside the scope of CARL. Nor can abovestated.29 Should the motion to set aside the compromise agreement be denied,
such occupant, cultivator or planter be classified as a de jure agricultural tenant for petitioners may then appeal the denial. Further, a judgment based on a compromise
purposes of agrarian reform law. And unless a person has established his status as a agreement is a judgment on the merits, wherein the parties have validly entered into
de jure tenant, he is not entitled to security of tenure nor is he covered by the Land stipulations and the evidence was duly considered by the trial court that approved the
Reform Program of the Government under existing agrarian reform laws. 22 agreement.

Here, we also find that petitioners failed to prove their personal "cultivation" of the area That the MTC of Malabon, Branch 55, had jurisdiction over the case for ejectment, to
in question. There is personal cultivation if the tenant (lessee) cultivates the land begin with, is in our view beyond dispute. It is a basic tenet of law that courts acquire
himself or with the aid of the immediate farm household, which refers to the members jurisdiction over the subject matter based on the allegations of the complaint. The
of the family of the tenant (lessee) and other persons who are dependent upon him for assertions in the answer by the defendant cannot divest the court of said jurisdiction.
support and who usually help him in the activities. 23 Particularly fatal to petitioners’ The original complaint filed by respondents clearly alleged that it was a suit for
cause is the joint venture agreement with Kenneth Bautista. This agreement provides, ejectment, the jurisdiction of which is lodged with the proper MTC.
among others, that Kenneth Bautista will share in the operation and management of
the fishpond; pay the agreed rentals to the registered owner of the land; and that after
It cannot be denied also that in the actions filed by petitioners in the different courts,
deducting all operational expenses, Kenneth Bautista and petitioners shall have equal
as well as in the PARAB, there is identity of parties, of subject matter and of causes of
share in the net profits.24 Not only does it reflect lack of personal cultivation by
action. The ultimate test in ascertaining the identity of causes of action in two suits is
petitioners, but it also shows the nature of their fishpond operation is that of a large
to look into whether or not the same evidence fully supports and establishes both the
scale commercial venture.
present cause of action and the former cause of action. If in the affirmative, the former
judgment would be a bar.30 Petitioners in all instances sought to prove the existence of
Petitioners claim vested rights arising from the alleged existing tenancy relations. But tenancy relationship with respondents over a huge area devoted to fishpond
this cannot be done validly under the present circumstances of this case. Section operations. They had to present the same evidence in any case, and they did. On this
2(b)25 of Rep. Act No. 7881 now contains a proviso, precisely to protect vested rights score, we note that petitioners’ counsel failed to apprise this Court of all the actions
of those who have already been issued a Certificate of Land Ownership Award tending to raise the same cause of action, filed in different judicial and quasi-judicial
(CLOA). Without such CLOA no vested rights could now be claimed by petitioners. In bodies, in contravention of the undertaking specified in the certification on non-forum
any event, petitioners failed to substantiate their allegation that they have been in shopping. Petitioners and their counsel made no mention of the petition for annulment
possession of the fishpond as early as 1985. The records show that the lease contract of judgment/compromise agreement filed with the RTC of Malabon, Branch 74, nor of
began on January 1, 1996, to end on December 31, 1999. Petitioners have not shown the petition for certiorari with injunction filed with RTC of Malabon, Branch 170, on
other pieces of evidence in their favor that would show possession prior to this lease April 4, 2001 assailing the February 26, 2001 order of execution of the municipal trial
contract, to prove their allegation of prior occupancy. court. Petitioners through counsel showed a lack of candor in coming to this Court
without full disclosure of prior actions taken successively or simultaneously.
Respondents claim that petitioners engaged in forum shopping as shown by the
Coming now to the issue of res judicata, we find that the elements thereof have been
records in this controversy. However, the Court deems it necessary to decide now this
duly established in favor of respondents, to wit: (1) there is a final judgment or order;
case on the merits, rather than merely relying on a technicality, for the sake of
(2) the court rendering it has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3)
substantive justice due the concerned parties.
the judgment or order is on the merits; (4) there is between the two cases identity of
parties, subject matter and causes of action.26 The compromise agreement between
the parties was duly approved by the MTC of Malabon, Branch 55. Absent any Finally, we rule that respondents correctly filed a special civil action of certiorari with
evidence that mistake, fraud, violence, intimidation, undue influence, or falsity of the Court of Appeals, as provided under Section 1, Rule 65, observing the rules on
documents that vitiated the compromise agreement, the agreement must be upheld. hierarchy of courts. A special civil action of certiorari is an independent action, raising
Petitioners claim that counsel did not assist them at the time the court approved the the question of jurisdiction where the tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or
compromise agreement. However, this fact alone does not ipso facto result in a quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave
mistake under the law as to render inutile the approval of the trial court. In the abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. 31 As already discussed,
absence of any evidence to counter the presumption of regularity of the performance
103

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The assailed decision
dated January 19, 2001 of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. Costs against
the PARAB has no power to act on the case as the subject matter of the action was
petitioners.
beyond the scope of its jurisdiction under the law. Petitioners would want respondents
to appeal the PARAB ruling to the DARAB as a logical and proper remedy, rather than
go on certiorari before the CA. Appeal in this case, however, would have been an SO ORDERED.
inadequate remedy as precisely respondents were questioning the very jurisdiction of
the PARAB to take cognizance of the case.

The availability of the ordinary recourse of appeal does not bar a party from making
use of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari where the ordinary appeal would not be a
prompt and adequate remedy, that is,32 "[a] remedy which is equally beneficial, speedy
and sufficient, not merely a remedy which at some time in the future will bring about a
revival of the judgment of the lower court complained of in the certiorari proceeding,
but a remedy which will promptly relieve the petitioner from the injurious effects of that
judgment and the acts of the inferior court or tribunal."33

The rationale behind CARL, (the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, Rep. Act No.
6657) and other agrarian reform laws is to emancipate the small farmers and farm
workers from the bondage of tilling land they do not own. They aim to put into their
hands the cultivation of economically viable family-sized34 farms. Earlier, the Land
Reform Code (Rep. Act No. 3844) defined economic family-sized farm as an area of
farm land that permits efficient use of labor and capital resources of the farm family,
and will produce an income sufficient to provide a modest standard of living to meet a
farm family’s need for food, clothing, shelter and education with possible allowance for
payment of yearly installments on the land, and reasonable reserves to absorb yearly
fluctuations in income.35 Subsequently, Rep. Act No. 6657 was enacted declaring that
it is the policy of the state to pursue a comprehensive agrarian reform program to the
end that there be a more equitable distribution and ownership of land to provide small
farmers and farm workers with the opportunity to enhance their dignity and improve
the quality of their lives through greater productivity of agricultural lands.36 Indeed, our
agrarian laws have been enacted to make the small farmers more independent, self-
reliant and responsible citizens and a source of genuine strength in our democratic
society.37

In this case, however, the records do not show that petitioners are small farmers or
farm workers deserving of the beneficence and protection afforded by our agrarian
laws. It would stretch one’s imagination to consider petitioners as lowly farm workers
when evidence shows in reality they are businessmen engaged in aquaculture,
operating a huge fishpond with an area of one million, two hundred fifty six thousand
and four hundred thirty three (1,256,433) square meters. Leasing this huge area could
be better appreciated as falling properly under civil law lease rather than agrarian
reform lease-tenancy. Moreover, in this case, there is no showing that large fishpond
operators belong to the class of beneficiaries contemplated by legislators when they
envisioned a policy of emancipation of small farmers or farm workers from bondage of
the soil through agrarian reforms. In sum, we agree that the appellate court did not err
in excluding the fishpond subject of the present controversy from the coverage of
CARL, and holding the PARAB’s decision dated May 9, 2000 void for lack of
jurisdiction.
104

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Before this Court are two special civil actions for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule
65 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, which were consolidated per
Resolution1 dated 5 February 2007.

The petitioners in G.R. No. 174290, namely: St. Mary of the Woods School, Inc.
(SMWSI) and Marcial P. Soriano, seek to annul and set aside on the ground of grave
abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction the Resolution2 dated
18 August 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 85561, which granted
herein private respondent Hilario P. Soriano’s Motion to Reinstate/Re-annotate the
Notice of Lis Pendens over Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) No. 175029, 3 2209774
and 220978,5 of the Registry of Deeds of Makati City, all registered in the name of
herein petitioner SMWSI.

The afore-named petitioners are the same petitioners in G.R. No. 176116 in which
they also seek to annul and set aside, on the ground of grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the three Resolutions similarly rendered by
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 85561, to wit: (1) Resolution6 dated 18
August 2006 denying petitioners’ Motion to Dismiss Appeal of herein private
respondent Hilario P. Soriano; (2) Resolution7 dated 9 November 2006 denying for
lack of merit petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration of the 18 August 2006 Resolution
of the appellate court, as well as the supplement to the said motion; and (3)
Resolution8 dated 9 November 2006 requiring the Register of Deeds of Makati City to
submit to the appellate court the original copies of the documents involved in Civil
Case No. 03-954 so that they can be presented to the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI) for comparative analysis of the signatures of Tomas Q. Soriano.
G.R. No. 174290 January 20, 2009
Petitioner SMWSI is an educational institution incorporated and existing by virtue of
the laws of the Republic of the Philippines. It is the current registered owner of the
ST. MARY OF THE WOODS SCHOOL, INC. and MARCIAL P. SORIANO, three parcels of land (subject properties), located in Makati City and covered by TCTs
petitioners, No. 175029, No. 220977 and No. 220978. Petitioner Marcial P. Soriano is the
vs. President of petitioner SMWSI.
OFFICE OF THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS OF MAKATI CITY and HILARIO P.
SORIANO,
Private respondent Hilario P. Soriano, on the other hand, is one of the siblings of
petitioner Marcial P. Soriano.
x---------------------x

The consolidated cases presently before this Court originated from the Complaint 9
G.R. No. 176116 January 20, 2009 filed on 14 August 2003 by the private respondent with the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Makati City, Branch 148, for Declaration of Nullity of Deed of Assignment, Deed of
ST. MARY OF THE WOODS SCHOOL, INC. and MARCIAL P. SORIANO, Sale and Cancellation of TCTs No. 156249, No. 156250, and No. 156251 of the
petitioners, Register of Deeds of Makati, Metro Manila,10 registered in the name of Oro
vs. Development Corporation (ODC); and TCT No. 175029, registered in the name of
OFFICE OF THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS OF MAKATI CITY, NATIONAL BUREAU petitioner SMWSI. Named defendants therein were the petitioners, together with ODC,
OF INVESTIGATION, and HILARIO P. SORIANO, Respondents. Antonio P. Soriano, Aurelia P. Soriano-Hernandez, Rosario P. Soriano-Villasor,
Eugenia Ma. P. Soriano-Lao and Josefina P. Soriano (hereinafter collectively referred
to as petitioners, et al.). The Complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. 03-954.
DECISION
105

On 17 January 2005, the RTC issued an Order26 dismissing the private respondent’s
Complaint. The RTC ratiocinated in this manner:
In his Complaint, private respondent alleged that during the marriage of his parents,
Tomas Q. Soriano and Josefina P. Soriano, the couple acquired both real and
personal properties, including the subject properties, which were then covered by A careful reading of the [14] August 2003 Complaint filed by [herein private
TCTs No. 169941,11 No. 114408,12 and No. 114409.13 On 10 May 1988, the Soriano respondent] Hilario P. Soriano would suffice that he indeed failed to state that he has
couple allegedly executed14 a Deed of Assignment15 in favor of ODC involving the a right over the [subject properties] and that the [herein petitioners, et al.] have the
subject properties to pay for Tomas Q. Soriano’s subscription of stocks in the said obligation to observe such right. Assuming for the sake of argument that the signature
corporation. On 14 June 1988, Tomas Q. Soriano died16 intestate. was forged, the [private respondent] did not state that he was deprived of his share in
the legitime of the deceased. Thus, his right over the [subject properties which were]
assigned by the deceased was not clearly defined and stated in the [C]omplaint filed.
By virtue of the said Deed of Assignment, the ownership and title over the subject
properties were transferred to ODC. Consequently, TCTs No. 169941, No. 114408
and No. 114409 were cancelled and the new TCTs No. 156249, 17 No. 15625018 and xxxx
No. 15625119 were issued in the name of ODC.
x x x. Also, the [private respondent] must comply with the provision of the Civil Code of
Thereafter, on 26 April 1991, ODC executed20 in favor of petitioner SMWSI a Deed of [the] Philippines, to wit:
Sale21 over the subject property covered by TCT No. 156249. By virtue of the sale,
petitioner SMWSI acquired ownership and title over the particular property. Thus, TCT
No. 156249 was cancelled and the new TCT No. 175209 was issued in the name of "Article 22227 – No suit shall be filed or maintained between members of the same
petitioner SMWSI. family unless it should appear that earnest efforts toward a compromise have been
made, but that the same have failed, subject to the limitations in Article 2035."

Private respondent claimed that several years after his father Tomas Q. Soriano’s
death, he discovered that the latter’s signature in the Deed of Assignment of 10 May x x x. There is no showing in the allegations in the [C]omplaint of the [private
1988 in favor of ODC was a forgery. Being very familiar with his father’s signature, respondent] that he complied with the requirement of the law. Thus, the Court finds
private respondent compared Tomas Q. Soriano’s purported signature in the Deed of merit in the position of the [petitioners, et al.]
Assignment of 10 May 1988 with Tomas Q. Soriano’s genuine signature in another
document captioned Second Amendment of Credit Agreement.22 Private respondent xxxx
also presented a Certification23 from the Records Management and Archives Office
which stated that the forged Deed of Assignment dated 10 May 1988 was not
available in the files of the Office. x x x. Clearly, the act of the [private respondent] in acknowledging the legality, validity
and genuineness of the [D]eed of [A]ssignment in the [J]oint [A]ffidavit placed him in
no better position to question the validity of the subject document. [Private respondent]
Meanwhile, by reason of the pendency of Civil Case No. 03-954, a Notice of Lis never questioned the distribution of the properties among the heirs of Tomas Soriano.
Pendens was annotated on TCTs No. 156249, No. 156250, and No. 156251, in the [Private respondent] even accepted the conveyance of a parcel of land covered by
name of ODC. With the subsequent cancellation of TCT No. 156249 and the issuance TCT No. 156253. By accepting said property as his share in the estate of his late
of TCT No. 175209 in the name of petitioner SMWSI, the Notice of Lis Pendens was father, [private respondent] is now deemed to have been paid or compensated
carried over to the new certificate of title. because there was delivery of his share in the estate of the deceased. It can now be
conclusively presumed that his share in the legitime of deceased Tomas Soriano was
In a Joint Affidavit24 dated 18 July 1990 executed by petitioner Marcial P. Soriano, it fully awarded to [private respondent]. He is now estopped in questioning the validity of
appears that the other individual defendants in Civil Case No. 03-954, and private the [D]eed of [A]ssignment by Tomas Q. Soriano in favor of [ODC]. Accordingly, all
respondent, recognized and acknowledged the validity, legality and propriety of the subsequent conveyances involving the subject properties can no longer be questioned
transfer of the subject properties from Tomas Q. Soriano to ODC. On this basis, by [private respondent] Hilario P. Soriano.28
defendants filed with the RTC a Motion to Dismiss 25 Civil Case No. 03-954 on the
grounds that: (1) the Complaint states no cause of action; (2) the claim set forth in the Accordingly, the RTC decreed:
Complaint has been paid, waived, abandoned or otherwise extinguished; (3) the
Complaint is barred by estoppel or laches; (4) the Complaint is barred by prescription;
(5) the titles to the subject properties are incontestable and can no longer be annulled; WHEREFORE, finding merits on the [M]otion to [D]ismiss filed by [herein petitioners,
and (6) a condition precedent for filing the claim has not been complied with, i.e., the et al.] and in the prayer set forth in the [A]nswer of defendants Josefina P. Soriano and
compromise agreement failed despite earnest efforts towards that end. Rosario P. Soriano-Villasor, the dismissal of this case is hereby GRANTED.
Accordingly, the Complaint filed by [private respondent] Hilario P. Soriano is dismissed
106

156249, No. 156250, and No. 156251 in the name of ODC were already cancelled
and replaced with TCTs No. 175209, No. 220977, and No. 220978 all registered in the
because it asserts no cause of action and the claim or demand set forth in the [private
name of petitioner SMWSI in which the Notice of Lis Pendens was carried over. The
respondent’s] pleading has been waived, abandoned, or otherwise extinguished, and
private respondent, on the other hand, filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the RTC
that a condition precedent for filing the claim has not been complied with. 29
Order dated 20 June 2005 with Comment on the petitioners, et al.’s, Motion for
Issuance of Supplement to the same RTC Order.
In the interim, the subject properties covered by TCTs No. 156250 and No. 156251 in
the name of ODC were also transferred to petitioner SMWSI by virtue of a Deed of
On 15 July 2005, the RTC issued another Order35 by way of supplement to its Order
Sale dated 3 February 2005. TCTs No. 156250 and No. 156251 in the name of ODC
dated 20 June 2005, directing anew the Registrer of Deeds of Makati City to cancel
were then cancelled and the new TCTs No. 220977 and No. 220978 were issued in
the Notice of Lis Pendens annotated on TCTs No. 175029, No. 220977 and No.
the name of petitioner SMWSI. The Notice of Lis Pendens annotated on the cancelled
220978 in the name of petitioner SMWSI.
TCTs was copied into the new TCTs in the name of petitioner SMWSI.

In a subsequent Order36 dated 15 August 2005, the RTC denied for lack of merit
Aggrieved by the RTC Order dated 17 January 2005, private respondent moved for its
private respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration of the RTC Order dated 20 June
reconsideration, but the RTC denied the same in an Order30 dated 26 April 2005.
2005.

On 16 May 2005, petitioners, et al., filed with the RTC a Motion to Cancel Notice of Lis
On 28 September 2005, private respondent received a directive from the Court of
Pendens31 annotated on the titles covering the subject properties, which Motion was
Appeals dated 20 September 2005 requiring him to file his Appellant’s Brief pursuant
opposed by the private respondent.
to his Notice of Appeal dated 17 May 2005. In compliance therewith, private
respondent submitted his Appellant’s Brief to the Court of Appeals with the following
The very next day, 17 May 2005, private respondent filed a Notice of Appeal stating assignment of errors:
his intention to elevate the RTC Orders dated 17 January 2005 and 26 April 2005 to
the Court of Appeals. Private respondent’s appeal before the Court of Appeals was
1. The lower court erred in dismissing the [C]omplaint on the ground that no
docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 85561.
certificate from a signature expert was attached to affirm the conclusion of
the [herein private respondent] that the signature of Tomas Q. Soriano in
Meanwhile, the RTC issued its Order32 dated 20 June 2005 granting the Motion to the [D]eed of [A]ssignment was forged and on the ground that neither can
Cancel Notice of Lis Pendens filed by petitioners, et al., and ordering the Registrer of the certificate issued by the Records Management and Archive Office
Deeds of Makati City to cancel the Notice of Lis Pendens annotated on TCTs No. support such allegation and that the [herein petitioners, et al.] cannot
156249, No. 156250, No. 156251 in the name of ODC and TCT No. 175029 in the shoulder the burden caused by the Notary Public in failing to file the
name of petitioner SMWSI. The RTC justified its latest Order as follows: notarized documents, if he indeed failed.

As mentioned in the case, the notice of lis pendens can be cancelled if it is not 2. The lower court erred in dismissing the [C]omplaint on the ground that the
necessary to protect the interest of the party who caused it to be recorded. In this [private respondent] failed to state that he has a right over the subject
case, the [herein private respondent’s] interest should be considered on whether the properties and that the [petitioners, et al.] have the obligation to observe
notice of lis pendens should be cancelled or not. As it is the Court believes that the such right.
cancellation is proper in this case. First, the Court still has jurisdiction of the case
considering that the Notice of Appeal was only filed on [17 May 2005], while the
3. The lower court erred in ruling that Article 151 of the Family Code should
Motion to cancel Notice of Lis Pendens was filed on [16 May 2005]. Second, [private
have been complied with.
respondent] Hilario P. Soriano has no interest to be protected insofar as the subject
properties are concerned because of his acknowledgment that he already received his
share in the estate of Tomas Soriano. Lastly, the contention of the [private 4. The lower court erred in denying [private respondent’s] [M]otion for
respondent] that the motion is premature is not tenable. The authority of the Court to [R]econsideration despite valid and compelling arguments that warrant the
Cancel Notice of Lis Pendens is even evident in the Comment/Opposition of the reconsideration prayed for.
[private respondent] which states that "While it may be true that the cancellation of a
notice of lis pendens may be ordered at any given time even before final judgment, x x
x."33 5. The lower court erred in granting [petitioners, et al.] [M]otion for
[C]ancellation of Lis Pendens.

On 4 July 2005, the petitioners, et al., filed with the RTC a Motion for Issuance of
Supplement to Order Cancelling Notice of Lis Pendens 34 to clarify that TCTs No.
107

amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the appellate court in


rendering the assailed Resolution. The Petition is docketed as G.R. No. 174290.
6. The lower court erred in dismissing the [C]omplaint on the ground that by
accepting the conveyance of a parcel of land covered by TCT No. 156253
as his share in the estate of his late father, [private respondent] is now Petitioners maintain that the RTC Orders canceling the Notice of Lis Pendens on the
deemed to have been paid or compensated because there was delivery of TCTs of the subject properties were valid and proper as they were issued on the basis
his share in the estate of the deceased.37 of private respondent’s lack of interest/right over the subject properties to be protected
by the annotation of such Notice. Moreover, the cancellation of the Notice of Lis
Pendens is authorized by Section 14,41 Rule 13 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil
While CA-G.R. CV No. 85561 was still pending, and since the Notice of Lis Pendens
Procedure, as well as under Section 77,42 Presidential Decree No. 1529.43 Hence, the
annotated on the TCTs of the subject properties in the name of petitioner SMWSI was
reinstatement of the Notice of Lis Pendens should not have been allowed.
already cancelled per RTC Orders dated 20 June 2005 and 15 July 2005, petitioner
SMWSI mortgaged the subject properties on 15 February 2006 for the amount of
₱8,000,000.00. Petitioners opine that the Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion when it
ordered the re-annotation of the Notice of Lis Pendens based on the mere motion filed
by private respondent, as it was violative of the proper procedures prescribed under
On 14 March 2006, private respondent filed before the Court of Appeals a Motion to
Presidential Decree No. 1529.
Reinstate/Re-annotate Notice of Lis Pendens on the TCTs of the subject properties
given that there was yet no final judgment of dismissal of his Complaint, as its
dismissal had been duly appealed. Moreover, it had not been shown that the Notice of Grave abuse of discretion is committed when an act is 1) done contrary to the
Lis Pendens was to molest the petitioners, et al., or that the same was not necessary Constitution, the law or jurisprudence; or 2) executed "whimsically or arbitrarily" in a
to protect his interests; thus, its re-annotation on the TCTs of the subject properties manner "so patent and so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty, or to a
while the appeal was pending would be in accordance with public policy. Petitioners, virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined." What constitutes grave abuse of
et al., opposed the aforesaid Motion of private respondent. discretion is such capricious and arbitrary exercise of judgment as that which is
equivalent, in the eyes of the law, to lack of jurisdiction.44 It does not encompass an
error of law.45
On 17 March 2006, petitioners, et al., filed a Motion to Dismiss Appeal on the ground
that "the issues in the appeal are and can only be questions of law, the appellate
jurisdiction over which belongs exclusively to the Supreme Court, thus the dismissal of At the outset, it is significant to note that petitioners filed the instant Petition without
[private respondent’s] appeal is mandatory pursuant to Supreme Court Circular No. 2- filing a Motion for Reconsideration of the assailed Resolution. A Motion for
90 and Section 2, Rule 50 of the 1997 Rules of Civil procedure." 38 Reconsideration of the order or resolution is a condition precedent for the filing of a
Petition for Certiorari challenging the issuance of the same.46
Thereafter, on 18 August 2006, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution granting
private respondent’s Motion to Reinstate/Re-annotate Notice of Lis Pendens on the The general rule that the filing of a Motion for Reconsideration before resort to
TCTs of the subject properties. The Court of Appeals ruled that although the RTC certiorari will lie is intended to afford the public respondent an opportunity to correct
found that private respondent had no interest to be protected by the Notice of Lis any factual or fancied error attributed to it by way of re-examination of the legal and
Pendens, since the appellate court already acquired jurisdiction over the case, it was factual aspects of the case.47 This rule, however, is subject to certain recognized
the latter which must ascertain the propriety of canceling the Notice of Lis Pendens exceptions, to wit: (1) where the order or a resolution, is a patent nullity, as where the
upon proper motion and hearing.39 On the same day, the Court of Appeals also issued court a quo has no jurisdiction; (2) where the questions raised in the certiorari
a separate Resolution denying petitioners, et al.’s, Motion to Dismiss Appeal of private proceeding have been duly raised and passed upon in the lower court; (3) where there
respondent. According to the appellate court, private respondent raised both questions is an urgent necessity for the resolution of the question, and any further delay would
of fact and law in his appeal; hence, the ground for the dismissal of the appeal relied prejudice the interests of the Government or of the petitioner or the subject matter of
upon by the petitioners, et al., was untenable. the action is perishable; (4) where, under the circumstances, a Motion for
Reconsideration would be useless; (5) where petitioner was deprived of due process
and there is extreme urgency for relief; (6) where, in a criminal case, relief from an
G.R. No. 17429040
order of arrest is urgent and the granting of such relief by the trial court is improbable;
(7) where the proceedings in the lower court are a nullity for lack of due process; (8)
Aggrieved by the Resolution dated 18 August 2006 of the Court of Appeals granting where the proceedings were ex parte or were such that the petitioner had no
private respondent’s Motion to Reinstate/Re-annotate Notice of Lis Pendens on the opportunity to object; and (9) where the issue raised is one purely of law or where
subject properties, petitioners, without filing a Motion for Reconsideration, filed on 11 public interest is involved.48
September 2006 before this Court the instant Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of
the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure alleging grave abuse of discretion
108

Granting arguendo that the present special civil action for certiorari can be given due
course, the Court still finds that the Court of Appeals did not commit any grave abuse
In the case at bar, petitioners aver that they dispensed with the filing of a Motion for
of discretion in granting private respondent’s Motion to Reinstate/Re-annotate Notice
Reconsideration of the 18 August 2006 before the Court of Appeals because of the
of Lis Pendens.
extreme urgency of the relief prayed for, and the issues raised herein are purely of law
and involve public interest, therefore, placing the instant case within the ambit of the
exceptions to the general rule. Petitioners claim that at the time of filing of this Petition, Lis pendens, which literally means pending suit, refers to the jurisdiction, power or
private respondent was taking steps and other measures to present for registration the control which a court acquires over property involved in a suit, pending the
18 August 2006 Resolution of the Court of Appeals to the Office of the Registry of continuance of the action, and until final judgment. Founded upon public policy and
Deeds of Makati City so as to already re-annotate the Notice of Lis Pendens on the necessity, lis pendens is intended (1) to keep the properties in litigation within the
TCTs of the subject properties, prompting petitioners to immediately file the instant power of the court until the litigation is terminated and to prevent the defeat of the
Petition without seeking reconsideration of the assailed Resolution. judgment or decree by subsequent alienation; and (2) to announce to the whole world
that a particular property is in litigation and serves as a warning that one who acquires
an interest over said property does so at his own risk, or that he gambles on the result
We find that petitioners’ reasons for excusing themselves from filing a Motion for
of the litigation over said property.50
Reconsideration before filing the present Petition for Certiorari are baseless and
unsubstantiated.
A trial court has, however, the inherent power to cancel a notice of lis pendens, under
the express provisions of law.51 As provided for by Sec. 14, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules
Petitioners’ averment of sense of urgency in that private respondent was already
of Civil Procedure, a notice of lis pendens may be cancelled on two grounds: (1) if the
taking steps and other measures to have the Notice of Lis Pendens re-annotated by
annotation was for the purpose of molesting the title of the adverse party; or (2) when
presenting the 18 August 2006 Resolution of the Court of Appeals to the Office of the
the annotation is not necessary to protect the title of the party who caused it to be
Registry of Deeds of Makati City deserves scant consideration. Petitioners never
recorded.
described with particularity, much less, presented proof of the steps purportedly taken
by the private respondent that would justify their immediate resort to this Court on
certiorari without seeking reconsideration of the Resolution in question from the Court Considering that the dismissal of private respondent’s Complaint by the RTC was
of Appeals. Petitioners simply made a sweeping allegation that absolutely has no appealed to the Court of Appeals, which Complaint refers to the properties covered by
basis. The records themselves are bare of any proof that would convince this Court TCTs No. 175209, No. 220977, and No. 220978 that bear the annotations of lis
that the private respondent indeed, took steps to have the challenged Resolution pendens, and such properties therefore are irrefragably still the subject matter of
implemented. In fact, petitioners themselves, in their letter49 dated 8 September 2006 litigation, the appellate court rightly saw the need for giving notice to the public of such
addressed to the Office of the Registry of Deeds of Makati City, pointed out that the a fact. The necessity becomes even more compelling considering that petitioner
questioned Resolution of the Court of Appeals did not yet order the said Office to re- SMWSI had already entered into transactions with third parties involving the subject
annotate the Notice of Lis Pendens. Petitioners explained in their letter that the 18 properties.
August 2006 Resolution granting private respondent’s Motion to Reinstate/Re-
annotate Notice of Lis Pendens is a mere indication that private respondent can
proceed with the legal procedure leading to the actual re-annotation of the said notice. On the issue of jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to entertain the issue on the notice
They even reminded the Register of Deeds of Makati City that even if it would be of lis pendens, we adhere to the Court of Appeals’ ratiocination, thus:
furnished with a copy of the assailed Resolution, it had no authority to reinstate/re-
annotate the Notice of Lis Pendens without a proper and direct order from the However, as the dismissal of this case by the lower court has been appealed to us, we
appellate court. More importantly, petitioners explicitly revealed in their letter that they now have jurisdiction over the case.
intended to file a Motion for Reconsideration with the Court of Appeals, as its
Resolution dated 18 August 2006 had not yet acquired finality. Why then did
petitioners not proceed with filing their motion for reconsideration, and opted to The doctrine of lis pendens is based on consideration of public policy and
immediately file the present Petition for Certiorari? convenience, under the view that once a court has taken cognizance of a controversy,
it should be impossible to interfere with the consummation of the judgment by any ad
interim transfer, encumbrance, or change of possession.
Similarly baseless is petitioners’ bare assertion, without even an attempt at explaining,
that the issues subject of the Petition at bar involve public interest sufficient to excuse
them from filing a Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated 18 August 2006. Now that the case is pending before us on appeal, there is no certainty as to the
outcome of the case. There is a need to warn the whole world that a particular
property is in litigation, serving as a warning that the one who acquires an interest
Given the foregoing, the Court dismisses the instant Petition for Certiorari for over said property does so at his own risk, or that he gambles on the result of the
petitioners’ failure to comply with a condition precedent for filing such a petition. litigation over said property.
109

Registration by the Register of Deeds, or by the party in interest thru the Register of
Deeds.
x x x. Although the lower court made a finding that [herein private respondent] Hilario
has no interest to be protected by the annotation of the notice of the pendency of the
case as we now have jurisdiction over the case, we have to ascertain for ourselves the Where the instrument is denied registration, the Register of Deeds shall notify the
propriety of canceling the annotation of the notice of lis pendens upon proper motion interested party in writing, setting forth the defects of the instrument or legal grounds
and hearing.52 relied upon, and advising him that if he is not agreeable to such ruling, he may,
without withdrawing the documents from the Registry, elevate the matter by consulta
within five days from receipt of notice of the denial of registration to the Commissioner
There is likewise no merit in petitioners’ contention that the filing by private respondent
of Land Registration.
with the Court of Appeals of an appeal (where he already raised the issue of re-
annotating the Notice of Lis Pendens) and, subsequently, a separate Motion to
Reinstate/Re-annotate Notice of Lis Pendens is tantamount to forum shopping. The Register of Deeds shall make a memorandum of the pending consulta on the
certificate of title which shall be canceled motu proprio by the Register of Deeds after
final resolution or decision thereof, or before resolution, if withdrawn by petitioner.
Forum shopping is committed by a party who, having received an adverse judgment in
one forum, seeks another opinion in another court, other than by appeal or the special
civil action of certiorari. More accurately, however, forum shopping is the institution of The Commissioner of Land Registration, considering the consulta and the records
two or more suits in different courts, either simultaneously or successively, in order to certified to him after notice to the parties and hearing, shall enter an order prescribing
ask the courts to rule on the same or related causes and/or to grant the same or the step to be taken or memorandum to be made. His resolution or ruling in consultas
substantially the same reliefs.53 The essence of forum-shopping is the filing of multiple shall be conclusive and binding upon all Registers of Deeds, provided, that the party in
suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or interest who disagrees with the final resolution, ruling or order of the Commissioner
successively, to secure a favorable judgment. Forum-shopping is present when in the relative to consultas may appeal to the Court of Appeals within the period and in the
two or more cases pending, there is identity of parties, rights of action and reliefs manner provided in Republic Act No. 5434.
sought.54
It is clear that the afore-quoted procedure applies only when the instrument is already
In the present case, what were filed by the private respondent before the appellate presented for registration and: (1) the Register of Deeds is in doubt with regard to the
court were an appeal and a motion relative to the same case. The appeal and the proper step to be taken or memorandum to be made in pursuance of any deed,
motion filed by the private respondent cannot be regarded as separate and distinct mortgage or other instrument presented to him for registration; or (2) where any party
cases or suits. It is settled that the office of a motion is not to initiate new litigation, but in interest does not agree with the action taken by the Register of Deeds with
to bring up a material but incidental matter arising in the progress of the case in which reference to any such instrument; and (3) when the registration is denied. None of
the motion was filed. A motion is not an independent right or remedy, but is confined these situations is present in this case.
to incidental matters in the progress of a cause. It relates to some question that is
collateral to the main object of the action and is connected with and dependent upon
the principal remedy.55 Private respondent’s Motion to Reinstate/Re-annotate Notice There was no evidence that the 18 August 2006 Resolution of the Court of Appeals
of Lis Pendens is, at the very least, a mere reiteration of one particular issue already was already presented to the Register of Deeds of Makati City for the re-annotation of
raised in the appeal, and an insistence on the urgency of resolving the same ahead of the Notice of Lis Pendens. There is also no showing that the Register of Deeds denied
the other issues. The filing of said Motion cannot be considered forum shopping and the re-annotation.
the admission thereof by the Court of Appeals did not constitute grave abuse of
discretion. G.R. No. 17611656

Finally, petitioners futilely attempt to convince this Court that the Court of Appeals Unsatisfied with the other Resolution dated 18 August 2006 of the Court of Appeals
acted with grave abuse of discretion in granting private respondent’s Motion to denying their Motion to Dismiss Appeal, petitioners moved for its reconsideration, but
Reinstate/Re-annotate Notice of Lis Pendens in violation of the proper procedures it was denied by the appellate court in a Resolution57 dated 9 November 2006. In a
prescribed under Presidential Decree No. 1529: separate Resolution58 also dated 9 November 2006, the Court of Appeals ordered the
Register of Deeds of Makati City to submit the original copies of the Minutes of the
Section 117. Procedure. When the Register of Deeds is in doubt with regard to the Meeting of the Board of Directors of ODC dated 7 May 1988, together with the Deed
proper step to be taken or memorandum to be made in pursuance of any deed, of Assignment dated 10 May 1988 entered into by and between Tomas Q. Soriano
mortgage or other instrument presented to him for registration, or where any party in and ODC involving the subject properties, so that they could be referred to the NBI for
interest does not agree with the action taken by the Register of Deeds with reference comparative analysis of Tomas Q. Soriano’s signatures.
to any such instrument, the question shall be submitted to the Commissioner of Land
110

no cause of action;60 (2) the claim or demand set forth in the Complaint had been paid,
waived, abandoned, or otherwise extinguished;61 and (3) a condition precedent for
Following the foregoing development, petitioners filed before this Court another
filing the claim has not been complied with.62
Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure on
29 December 2006, docketed as G.R. No. 176116.
Settled is the rule that in a Motion to Dismiss based on lack of cause of action, the
issue is passed upon on the basis of the allegations in the complaint, assuming them
Petitioners assert that the Court of Appeals acted with grave abuse of discretion
to be true. The court does not inquire into the truth of the allegations and declare them
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in refusing to dismiss private respondent’s
to be false; otherwise, it would be a procedural error and a denial of due process to
appeal in its Resolutions dated 18 August 2006 and 9 November 2006, even though
the plaintiff. Only the statements in the complaint may be properly considered, and the
the appeal raised only questions of law. Petitioners argue that an appeal raising pure
court cannot take cognizance of external facts or hold preliminary hearings to
questions of law must be filed with the Supreme Court via Petition for Review under
ascertain their existence. To put it simply, the test for determining whether a complaint
Rule 45 and not with the Court of Appeals.
states or does not state a cause of action against the defendants is whether or not,
admitting hypothetically the truth of the allegations of fact made in the complaint, the
Petitioners also contend that the Resolution dated 9 November 2006 of the Court of judge may validly grant the relief demanded in the complaint.63
Appeals ordering the submission of documents so that the NBI could perform a
comparative analysis of Tomas Q. Soriano’s signatures, was apparently for the
In a Motion to Dismiss based on failure to state a cause of action, there cannot be any
purpose of finding out whether forgery was committed in the Deed of Assignment
question of fact or "doubt or difference as to the truth or falsehood of facts," simply
dated 10 May 1988. Petitioners assert that the appellate court has absolutely no
because there are no findings of fact in the first place. What the trial court merely does
original jurisdiction to rule whether Tomas Q. Soriano’s signature was forged in the
is to apply the law to the facts as alleged in the complaint, assuming such allegations
Deed of Assignment in question. There is no need for the Court of Appeals to have
to be true. It follows then that any appeal therefrom could only raise questions of law
done an analytical comparison of Tomas Q. Soriano’s signatures considering that the
or "doubt or controversy as to what the law is on a certain state of facts." Therefore, a
RTC made no factual finding as regards the existence or non-existence of forgery.
decision dismissing a complaint based on failure to state a cause of action necessarily
Accordingly, the Court of Appeals has no power to inquire into the allegations of
precludes a review of the same decision on questions of fact. One is the legal and
forgery made in the private respondent’s Complaint, and for it to proceed to do so is
logical opposite of the other.64
grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

Hence, private respondent did raise a question of law when he assigned as an error in
The Court resolves first the issue of whether the Court of Appeals committed grave
his appeal to the Court of Appeals the RTC’s alleged error in dismissing his Complaint
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in denying petitioners’
in Civil Case No. 03-954 for failure to state a cause of action.
Motion to Dismiss Appeal.

It must be remembered, however, that the basis of the RTC Order on 17 January 2005
In resolving such issue, it is necessary to determine only if private respondent's
dismissing private respondent’s Complaint was not only its failure to state a cause of
appeal to the Court of Appeals involves purely questions of law, in which case, the
action, but also the fact that the claim or demand set forth therein had been paid,
proper mode of appeal would be a Petition for Review on Certiorari to the Supreme
waived, abandoned, or otherwise extinguished, and that the condition precedent for
Court under Rule 45 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure; or questions of fact
filing a claim had not been complied with.
or mixed questions of fact and law, in which case, the proper mode would be by
ordinary appeal to the Court of Appeals under Rule 41.
According to the RTC, the Complaint was dismissible on the ground that the claim or
demand set forth therein had been paid, waived, abandoned, or otherwise
A question of law exists when there is doubt or controversy as to what the law is on a
extinguished. Private respondent, in accepting a certain parcel of land as his share in
certain state of facts, and there is a question of fact when the doubt or difference
the estate of his late father Tomas Q. Soriano, was now deemed to have been paid or
arises as to the truth or falsehood of facts, or when the query necessarily invites
compensated because his share in the estate of the deceased had been delivered to
calibration of the whole evidence considering mainly the credibility of witnesses,
him. In arriving at such a finding, the RTC necessarily made a preliminary
existence and relevancy of specific surrounding circumstances, their relation to one
determination of the facts in order to verify that, indeed, private respondent’s claim or
another and to the whole, and probabilities of the situation. Ordinarily, the
demand had been paid. When the private respondent assigned as error in his appeal
determination of whether an appeal involves only questions of law or questions both of
such finding of the RTC, he raised not only a question of law, but also a question of
law and of fact is best left to the appellate court, and all doubts as to the correctness
fact.
of such conclusions will be resolved in favor of the Court of Appeals.59

Among the grounds raised by petitioners in seeking the dismissal by the RTC of
private respondent’s Complaint in Civil Case No. 03-954 are: (1) the Complaint stated
111

to enable the NBI to perform a comparative analysis of Tomas Q. Soriano’s signatures


therein.
The Court agrees in the following observation and pronouncement made by the Court
of Appeals:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, these consolidated Petitions for Certiorari are
hereby DISMISSED.
The lower court evaluated the documents [herein private respondent] Hilario submitted
to prove his claim of forgery. The lower court practically made a finding of fact that the
signature of Tomas Q. Soriano in the [D]eed of [A]ssignment is a forgery when the SO ORDERED.
court stated that "the signatures in the [D]eed of [A]ssignment and in the [S]econd
[A]mendment of [C]redit [A]greement are the same." Whether the signature of Tomas
Q. Soriano was a forgery or not should have been determined during a trial, and not
merely in the resolution of a [M]otion to [D]ismiss.

[Private respondent] Hilario likewise raised the issue of whether or not there was
payment or estoppel as claimed by the [herein peititoners]. At first glance, it could be
surmised that the issue of estoppel is a question of law. However, in this case, there is
a question of fact involved.

[Private respondent] Hilario comments that there is precisely a need to factually


ascertain whether there has been full payment or award of his legitime, as a
compulsory heir of Tomas Q. Soriano, before the court can conclude that [private
respondent] Hilario is estopped from questioning the [D]eed of [A]ssignment.

xxxx

As [private respondent] Hilario raised questions of fact as well as questions of law in


his appeal, the ground for dismissal relied upon by the [petitioners] is not applicable in
his case.65

The rule is that the determination of whether an appeal involves only questions of law
or questions of both law and fact is best left to the appellate court, and all doubts as to
the correctness of such conclusions will be resolved in favor of the Court of Appeals. 66

Finally, we do not perceive any abusive exercise of power in the Resolution dated 9
November 2006 of the Court of Appeals requiring the submission of the original copies
of the documents involved in Civil Case No. 03-954 to enable the NBI to perform a
comparative analysis of Tomas Q. Soriano’s signatures therein.

It must be stressed that in its 17 January 2005 Order, the trial court expressed a
finding that "in the beholder of untrained eyes, the signatures in the Deed of
Assignment and in the Second Amendment of Credit Agreement are the same."67
Considering that the trial court made a finding of fact as regards the issue of forgery
and such issue was properly raised in the private respondent’s appeal with the
appellate court, it certainly behooves the appellate court to review the said findings.
Accordingly, as the Court of Appeals has the power to inquire into the allegations of
forgery made in the private respondent’s Complaint, it can validly require the
submission of the original copies of the documents involved in Civil Case No. 03-954
112

Reconsideration of petitioner for lack of merit and for failure to show the authority of
Atty. Vicente R. Acsay (Atty. Acsay), one of the members of the Board of Directors of
petitioner, to sign the Verification and Certification against Forum Shopping
accompanying the Petition.

Petitioner additionally prays for the setting aside or reversal of the Decision4 dated 28
December 2006 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-
Mines Adjudication Board (MAB) in MAB Case No. 0147-06, which affirmed the
Orders dated 14 September 20055 and 27 December 20056 of the DENR-Panel of
Arbitrators, Region 1, San Fernando City, La Union (Panel of Arbitrators), in Case No.
2005-00012-I, dismissing the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner to the
Application for Exploration Permit of private respondent Montague Resources
Philippines Corporation. Ultimately, petitioner seeks the denial of the mining claim and
the revocation/cancellation of the Exploration Permit, EXPA No. 21 dated 12
September 2003, of private respondent.

The factual antecedents of this case are as follows:

Petitioner is a corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine laws engaged
in the business of mining. On 31 March 2000, petitioner’s Application for Mineral
Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), identified as APSA-SF-000089, with the
Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) of the DENR, Regional Office No. 1, San
Fernando City in La Union, for the exploration, development and commercial utilization
of certain pyrite ore and other mineral deposits in a 4,360.71-hectare land in Dasol,
Pangasinan, was approved and MPSA No. 153-2000-1 was issued in its favor.
G.R. No. 179674 July 28, 2009
Private respondent is also a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the
PYRO COPPER MINING CORPORATION, petitioner, Philippines and engaged in the business of mining. On 12 September 2003, private
vs. respondent filed an Application for Exploration Permit7 with MGB covering the same
MINES ADJUDICATION BOARD-DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND properties covered by and during the subsistence of APSA-SF-000089 and MPSA No.
NATURAL RESOURCES, MINES AND GEO-SCIENCES BUREAU DIRECTOR 153-2000-18 of petitioner. In turn, petitioner filed a Verified Protest/Opposition to the
HORACIO C. RAMOS, REGIONAL DIRECTOR SAMUEL T. PARAGAS, REGIONAL Application for Exploration Permit of the private respondent. It was allegedly filed with
PANEL OF ARBITRATORS ATTY. CLARO E. RAMOLETE, JR., ATTY. JOSEPH the Panel of Arbitrators9 on 30 August 2005 and was received by the latter on 5
ESTRELLA and ENGR. RENATO RIMANDO, and MONTAGUE RESOURCES September 2005. The case was docketed as Case No. 2005-00012-I.
PHILIPPINES CORPORATION, Respondents.
Prior, however, to petitioner’s filing of its Verified Protest/Opposition to the private
DECISION respondent’s Application for Exploration Permit, petitioner’s MPSA No. 153-2000-1
was cancelled per DENR Memorandum Order (DMO) No. 2005-0310 issued by the
DENR Secretary Michael Defensor on 1 February 2005. Petitioner moved for the
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: reconsideration of DMO No. 2005-03, which the DENR Secretary denied in its
Decision11 dated 14 June 2005.12
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari, under Rule 45 of the 1997
Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, seeking to reverse the Resolutions dated 23 On 1 September 2005,13 the MGB issued EP No. 05-001 to private respondent.
February 20071 and 6 September 20072 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
97663. The appellate court, in its assailed Resolution dated 23 February 2007,
dismissed the Petition for Review, under Rule 43 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil In an Order dated 14 September 2005, the Panel of Arbitrators dismissed motu
Procedure, of herein petitioner Pyro Copper Mining Corporation, for failure of proprio the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner for the following reasons: (1) the
petitioner to attach pertinent and relevant documents thereto. 3 The appellate court, in instant pleading was filed out of time; (2) in view of the issuance of EP No. 05-001 to
its other assailed Resolution dated 6 September 2007, denied the Motion for
113

II. WHETHER OR NOT THE [COURT OF APPEALS] DEPARTED FROM THE


RULES AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE WHEN IT DISMISSED THE
private respondent, the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner to the Application for
PETITION A QUO DESPITE THE ATTACHMENT AND SUBMISSION OF THE
Exploration Permit of private respondent was rendered moot and academic; (3) the
REQUISITE AUTHORITY TO MAKE AND SIGN VERIFICATIONS AND
Panel of Arbitrators had no authority/jurisdiction to cancel, deny and/or revoke EP No.
SUBSEQUENTLY REQUIRED PLEADINGS.
05-001 of private respondent, the same being lodged with the MGB, the issuing
authority; and (4) petitioner failed to include a certification against forum shopping.14
Petitioner moved for its reconsideration, but the Panel of Arbitrators denied the same III. WHETHER OR NOT THE [COURT OF APPEALS] REFUSED TO ADJUDICATE
in its Order dated 27 December 2005.15 THE PETITION A QUO DESPITE THE ATTENDANCE OF A CLEARLY
EXCEPTIONAL CHARACTER AND PARAMOUNT PUBLIC INTEREST INVOLVED
AS WELL AS THE NECESSITY FOR A RULING TO PUT AN END TO
Petitioner elevated by appeal to the MAB the Orders dated 14 September 2005 and
UNSCRUPULOUS ISSUANCE OF MINING CLAIMS.
27 December 2005 of the Panel of Arbitrators, docketed as MAB Case No. 0147-06.

IV. WHETHER OR NOT PUBLIC RESPONDENTS IN THE DENR COMMITTED


Subsequently, in a Decision16 dated 28 December 2006 in MAB Case No. 0147-06,
SERIOUS ERROR AND GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN DECLARING THAT:
the MAB dismissed the appeal of petitioner, on the following grounds: (a) the Verified
(A) THE VERIFIED PROTEST/OPPOSITION WAS FILED OUT OF TIME; (B) THE
Protest/Opposition of petitioner to the Application for Exploration Permit of private
ISSUANCE OF THE EXPLORATION PERMIT IN FAVOR OF [PRIVATE
respondent was filed beyond the reglementary period; and (b) the Verified
RESPONDENT] ON [1 SEPTEMBER 2005] AND THE UNILATERAL
Protest/Opposition of petitioner did not include a certification against forum
CANCELLATION OF THE MPSA BY THE DENR-SECRETARY RENDERED THE
shopping.17
VERIFIED PROTEST/OPPOSITION MOOT AND ACADEMIC; (C) THE [PANEL OF
ARBITRATORS] HAVE NO JURISDICTION TO CANCEL, DENY AND/OR REVOKE
Petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Review under Rule 43 of the THE EXPLORATION PERMIT OF [PRIVATE RESPONDENT]; AND (D) THE
1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. VERIFIED PROTEST/OPPOSITION DOES NOT CONTAIN A CERTIFICATION
97663. AGAINST FORUM SHOPPING.21

In a Resolution dated 23 February 2007, the Court of Appeals dismissed the said To resolve the foregoing issues, the Court must address the more specific issues
Petition, pursuant to Section 7, Rule 43, of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil below:
Procedure,18 for failure of petitioner to attach thereto some pertinent and relevant
documents required under Section 6 of the same Rule.19
I. Whether the subsequently attached Minutes of the Special Meeting dated
22 January 2007 of the Board of Directors of petitioner sufficiently granted
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the 23 February 2007 Resolution, Atty. Acsay authority to sign the Verification and Certification against Forum
together with the required documents. Private respondent, however, in its Comment, 20 Shopping which accompanied the Petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 97663.
still prayed for the dismissal of the Petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 97663 for failure of
petitioner to submit Atty. Acsay’s authority to sign the Verification and Certification
II. Whether the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner to the Application for
against Forum Shopping.
Exploration Permit of private respondent was filed out of time.

Petitioner was given an opportunity to submit Atty. Acsay’s written authority, but failed
III. Whether the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner filed before the
to do so. Consequently, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution dated 6 September
MAB needs to be accompanied by a Certification against Forum Shopping.
2007, denying for lack of merit the Petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 97663.

IV. Whether the issuance by the DENR Secretary of DMO No. 2005-03 on 1
Hence, this Petition.
February 2005 which cancelled MPSA No. 153-2000-1 of petitioner and the
issuance by MGB of EP No. 05-001 in favor of private respondent on 1
The petitioner raises the following issues for this Court’s Resolution: September 2005 rendered the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner moot
and academic.
I. WHETHER OR NOT THE [COURT OF APPEALS] DEPARTED FROM THE RULES
AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE WHEN IT DISMISSED THE PETITION [A V. Whether the Panel of Arbitrators has jurisdiction to cancel, deny and/or
QUO] DESPITE FAITHFUL COMPLIANCE WITH THE RULES ON DISCLOSURE AS revoke EP No. 05-001 issued by MGB to private respondent.
INCORPORATED IN THE VERIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION PORTION OF THE
MOTION FOR EXTENSION [OF] TIME AND PETITION A QUO.
114

The requirement that petitioner should sign the Certification against Forum Shopping
applies even to corporations, the Rules of Court making no distinction between natural
The Court finds no merit in the present Petition.
and juridical persons.25 A corporation, however, exercises its powers through its board
of directors and/or its duly authorized officers and agents. Physical acts, like the
I signing of documents, can be performed only by natural persons duly authorized for
the purpose by corporate by-laws or by a specific act of the board of directors.26 The
signatory, therefore, in the case of the corporation should be "a duly authorized
Petitioner maintains that there are special circumstances and basic considerations in
director or officer of the corporation" who has knowledge of the matter being
support of Atty. Acsay’s authority to execute and sign the Verification and Certification
certified.27
against Forum Shopping which accompanied its Petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 97663.
Firstly, Atty. Acsay is an incorporator, stockholder, member of the board of directors,
corporate secretary, and legal counsel of petitioner. Secondly, he was the authorized If the petitioner is a corporation, a board resolution authorizing a corporate officer to
representative of petitioner in the signing of MPSA No. 153-2000-1. Therefore, Atty. execute the Certification against Forum Shopping is necessary. A certification not
Acsay is the best legally suitable person to make the required sworn disclosures in the signed by a duly authorized person renders the petition subject to dismissal. 28
Verification and Certification against Forum Shopping in the Petition of petitioner in
CA-G.R. SP No. 97663.
To recall, the Court of Appeals initially dismissed, in its Resolution dated 23 February
2007, the Petition for Review in CA-G.R. SP No. 97663, for failure of petitioner to
Petitioner also contends that the Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 January 2007 by submit pertinent and relevant documents required under Section 6, Rule 43 of the
the board of directors of petitioner, bestowing upon Atty. Acsay the authority to make 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. The petitioner filed a Motion for
and sign the Verification for the Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Reconsideration, attaching thereto the required documents, except the proof of Atty.
Review under Rule 43 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, must be Acsay’s authority to sign the Verification and Certification against Forum Shopping for
construed in its entirety. According to the Minutes, Atty. Acsay was granted authority the Petition. Instead of immediately dismissing the Motion for Reconsideration of
by the board to sign even verifications, which may be required in subsequent petitioner, however, the Court of Appeals, in its Resolution dated 8 June 2007, gave
pleadings filed by petitioner. The reference in the Minutes to the Motion for Extension petitioner five days from receipt thereof to submit such proof. The petitioner then
of Time to File Petition for Review is not meant to be restrictive or qualifying, as to submitted the Minutes of the Special Meeting held on 22 January 2007 by its board of
exclude other pleadings. directors, adopting a Resolution to the following effect:

With the foregoing, petitioner firmly argues that it has substantially complied with the RESOLVED, that [Atty. Acsay], Director and Corporate Secretary of [herein petitioner]
requirements for the execution of the Verification and Certification against Forum be, as he hereby is, authorized to make and sign the verification of the pleading filed
Shopping, which accompanied its Petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 97663. by [petitioner] entitled "Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Review under
Rule 43 of the Rules of Court.29
Section 6(d), Rule 4322 in relation to Section 2, Rule 4223 of the 1997 Revised Rules of
Civil Procedure mandates that a petition for review shall contain a sworn certification It can be gleaned from the afore-quoted Resolution of the board of directors of
against forum shopping, in which the petitioner shall attest that he has not petitioner that the authority granted to Atty. Acsay was to make and sign the pleading
commenced any other action involving the same issues in this Court, the Court of entitled "Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Review under Rule 43 of the
Appeals or different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency; if there is such Rules of Court," but not the Petition for Review itself. The wordings of the board
other action or proceeding, he must state the status of the same; and if he should Resolution are so explicit that they cannot be interpreted otherwise. There is nothing
thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before to justify the argument of petitioner that the authority to sign granted to Atty. Acsay by
this Court, the Court of Appeals, or different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or the said board Resolution extended to all other pleadings subsequent to the Motion for
agency, he undertakes to promptly inform the aforesaid courts and other tribunal or Extension.
agency thereof within five days therefrom.24
Other than the Minutes of the Special Meeting held on 22 January 2007 by the board
For failure to comply with this mandate, Section 7, Rule 43 of the 1997 Revised Rules of directors of petitioner, which the Court deemed unsatisfactory, no other proof of
of Civil Procedure provides: Atty. Acsay’s purported authority to sign the Verification and Certification against
Forum Shopping for the Petition for Review in CA-G.R. SP No. 97663 was presented.
Absent proof of such authority, then the reasonable conclusion is that there is actually
SEC. 7. Effect of failure to comply with requirements. – The failure of the petitioner to
none. Given that a certification not signed by a duly authorized person renders the
comply with any of the foregoing requirements regarding the payment of the docket
petition subject to dismissal,30 the Court of Appeals did not err in finally dismissing in
and other lawful fees, the deposit for costs, proof of service of the petition, and the
contents of and the documents which should accompany the petition shall be sufficient
ground for the dismissal thereof.
115

Section 21. Publication/Posting/Radio Announcement of an Exploration Permit


Application. - x x x Any adverse claim, protest or opposition shall be filed directly,
its Resolution dated 6 September 2007 the Petition of petitioner in CA-G.R. SP No.
within thirty (30) calendar days from the last date of publication/posting/radio
97663.
announcement, with the concerned Regional Office or through any concerned PENRO
or CENRO for filing in the concerned Regional Office for purposes of its resolution by
Although the Court has previously relaxed the rules on verification and certification the Panel of Arbitrators pursuant to the provisions of the Act and these implementing
against forum shopping in some instances,31 it cannot do so here. rules and regulations. x x x.

From the very beginning, petitioner failed to attach to its Petition for Review before the Considering that the Rules on Pleadings, Practice and Procedure before the Panel of
Court of Appeals the relevant documents required by Section 6, Rule 43 of the 1997 Arbitrators and MAB are bereft of any provision regarding the computation of time and
Revised Rules of Procedure. Petitioner had two opportunities to comply with the the manner of filing, the Court may refer to Section 1, Rule 22 and Section 3, Rule 13
requisites, i.e., when it filed its Motion for Reconsideration of the 23 February 2007 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure,33 which state:
Resolution of the Court of Appeals and when it submitted its compliance with the 8
June 2007 Resolution of the appellate court; yet, petitioner still failed to do so.
Section 1. How to compute time. – In computing any period of time prescribed or
Petitioner never offered any satisfactory explanation for its stubborn non-compliance
allowed by these Rules, or by order of the court, or by any applicable statute, the day
with or disregard for the rules of procedure.
of the act or event from which the designated period of time begins to run is to be
excluded and the date of performance included. If the last day of the period, as thus
It is true that a litigation is not a game of technicalities, and that the rules of procedure computed, falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday in the place where the
should not be strictly enforced at the cost of substantial justice. However, it does not court sits, the time shall not run until the next working day. (Emphasis supplied.)
mean that the Rules of Court may be ignored at will and at random, to the prejudice of
the orderly presentation and assessment of the issues and their just resolution. It must
Section 3. Manner of filing. - The filing of pleadings, appearances, motions, notices,
be emphasized that procedural rules should not be belittled or dismissed simply
orders, judgments and all other papers shall be made by presenting the original copies
because their non-observance may have resulted in prejudice to a party’s substantial
thereof, plainly indicated as such, personally to the clerk of court or by sending them
rights. Like all rules, they are required to be followed except only for the most
by registered mail. In the first case, the clerk of court shall endorse on the pleading the
persuasive of reasons.32
date and hour of filing. In the second case, the date of the mailing of motions,
pleadings, or any other papers or payments or deposits, as shown by the post office
II stamp on the envelope or the registry receipt, shall be considered as the date of their
filing, payment or deposit in court. The envelope shall be attached to the record of the
case. (Emphasis supplied.)
Even assuming arguendo that Atty. Acsay did have the authority to sign the
Verification and Certification against Forum Shopping for the Petition for Review of
petitioner in CA-G.R. SP No. 97663, and the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing said In the present case, notices of the Application for Exploration Permit of private
Petition, the Court still cannot grant the prayer of petitioner herein to reverse the respondent were published in newspapers,34 announced on the radio,35 and posted in
actions undertaken by the DENR as regards the cancellation of its MPSA No. 153- public places. The posting was done the latest, so we reckon the last possible date
2000-1 and the issuance of EP No. 05-001 to private respondent. petitioner could have validly filed its Verified Petition/Opposition with the Panel of
Arbitrators therefrom.
Petitioner insists that it filed its Verified Protest/Opposition to the Application for
Exploration Permit of private respondent within the reglementary period. Based on the The notices of the Application for Exploration Permit of private respondent were
records of MGB, the Notice of Application for Exploration Permit of private respondent posted on the bulletin boards of the Office of the Municipal Mayor of Dasol,
was actually posted from 14 July 2005 to 28 July 2005. Applying the 30-day Pangasinan on 16 to 31 March 2005; Office of the Municipal Mayor of Mabini,
reglementary period, the last date on which to file any adverse claim, protest or Pangasinan on 16 to 31 March 2005; Office of the Pangasinan Provincial Environment
opposition to the said application was 27 August 2005, a Saturday. Since 29 August and Natural Resources on 17 March 2005 to 2 April 2005; Office of the DENR
2005, Monday, was declared a national holiday, the next business day was 30 August Provincial Environment and Natural Resources-Pangasinan on 15 March 2005 to 6
2005, Tuesday. This very well explains why the Verified Protest/Opposition of April 2005; Office of the DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources-
petitioner was filed on 30 August 2005. Petitioner further avows that it paid the Alaminos City on 17 March 2005 to 5 April 2005; Offices of the Punong Barangays of
required legal fees through postal money order. The issuance of the official receipt Malimpin, San Pedro, Barlo, San Vicente, and Alilao on 16 to 31 March 2005; and
only after the filing, through registered mail, of its Verified Protest/Opposition, does not MGB on 14 to 28 July 2005.36
erase the fact that the docket fees were paid to and received by the government.

Section 21 of DAO No. 96-40 mandates:


116

evidence do not establish at all that the docket fee was paid by postal money order; or
indicate the postal money order number and the date said postal money order was
Since the notice of the Application for Exploration Permit of private respondent was
sent. Without any evidence to prove otherwise, the Court presumes that the docket
last posted on 28 July 2005, the 30-day reglementary period for filing any adverse
fee was paid on the date the receipt for the same was issued, i.e., 6 September 2005.
claim/protest/opposition thereto ended on 27 August 2005. As petitioner explained,
however, 27 August 2005 was a Saturday; and 29 August 2005, Monday, was
declared a national holiday,37 so the next working day was 30 August 2005, Tuesday. Based on the foregoing, the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner to the Application
Petitioner did send its Verified Protest/Opposition, through registered mail, on 30 for Exploration Permit of respondent is deemed filed with the Panel of Arbitrators only
August 2005, as evidenced by the Affidavit of Service38 of even date and Registry upon payment of the prescribed docket fee on 6 September 2005, clearly beyond the
Receipts No. 10181; No. 10182; No. 10183; and No. 10184. 39 Nevertheless, the Court reglementary period, which ended on 30 August 2005.
still could not consider the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner as having been
filed within the reglementary period.lavvphil
III

Section 21 of DAO No. 96-40, fixing the 30-day reglementary period for filing any
adverse claim/protest/opposition to an application for exploration permit, must be read The Panel of Arbitrators denied the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner in Case
in relation to Section 204 of DAO No. 96-40, which reads: No. 2005-00012-I for another procedural lapse, the lack of a certification against forum
shopping.

Section 204. Substantial Requirements for Adverse Claims, Protest and Oppositions.
No adverse claim, protest or opposition involving mining rights shall be accepted for Petitioner argues that a Verified Protest/Opposition does not require a certification
filing unless verified and accompanied by the prescribed docket fee and proof of against forum shopping. According to it, Section 204 of DAO No. 96-40 identifies the
services to the respondent(s), either personally or by registered mail: Provided, That substantial requirements of a mining adverse claim/ protest/opposition, and a
the requirement for the payment of docket fees shall not be imposed on pauper certification against forum shopping is not among them; the Panel of Arbitrators has
litigants[;] (Emphasis supplied.) no power and authority to impose additional requirements for the filing and service of
pleadings; the Panel of Arbitrators also does not have the authority to promulgate
rules and regulations involving the practice, pleadings, litigation and disposition of
and Section 7, Rule III of the Rules on Pleadings, Practice and Procedure before the cases before it, for the same only belongs to the MAB, pursuant to Section 207 of
Panel of Arbitrators and MAB, which states that: DAO No. 96-40.

Section 7. Form and Contents of Adverse Claims, Protest or Opposition. No adverse The arguments of petitioner have no merit.
claim, petition, protest or opposition involving mining rights shall be accepted for filing
unless verified and accompanied by the prescribed docket fee and proof of services to
the respondent(s), either personally or by registered mail: Provided, That the Petitioner filed a Verified Protest/Opposition before the Panel of Arbitrators to oppose
requirement for the payment of docket fees shall not be imposed on pauper litigants. the Application for Exploration Permit filed by private respondent with the MGB. The
(Emphasis supplied.) Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner constitutes an initiatory pleading before the
Panel of Arbitrators, for which a certification against forum shopping may be required.
Truly, DAO No. 96-40 is bereft of any provision requiring that a certification against
Section 204 of DAO No. 96-40 and Section 7, Rule III of the Rules on Pleadings, forum shopping be attached to the adverse claim/protest/opposition. However, Section
Practice and Procedure before the Panel of Arbitrators and MAB explicitly require that 4, Rule 1 of the Rules on Pleading, Practice and Procedure before the Panel of
the adverse claim/protest/opposition be accompanied by the payment of the Arbitrators and the MAB allows the application of the pertinent provisions of the Rules
prescribed docket fee for the same to be accepted for filing. of Court by analogy or in a suppletory manner, in the interest of expeditious justice
and whenever practical and convenient; and, according to Section 5, Rule 7 of the
Revised Rules of Court:
Upon a careful examination of the records of this case, it appears that the docket fee
was paid only on 6 September 2005, as evidenced by Official Receipt (O.R.) No.
7478283 B.40 Although petitioner avers that it paid the docket fee through postal SEC. 5. Certification against forum shopping. – The plaintiff or principal party shall
money order – in which case, the date of mailing would be deemed the date of certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading asserting a claim for
payment – such averment is unsubstantiated. The Court finds no evidence to prove relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith:
that petitioner actually sent the purported postal money order for the payment of the (a) that he has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the
docket fee. Petitioner submits the following evidence to prove payment of the docket same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his
fee: (a) a Prudential Bank Check in the amount of ₱5,020.00 dated 1 September knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other
2005;41 (b) O.R. No. 7478283 B dated 6 September 2005 issued by MGB Region I, pending action or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if
San Fernando City; and (c) several registry return receipts.42 But these pieces of
117

have no jurisdiction. The Panel of Arbitrators cannot simply consider or convert the
Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner to the Application for Exploration Permit of
he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is
private respondent as a petition for the cancellation of EP No. 05-001. Since the Panel
pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court wherein his
of Arbitrators can no longer grant petitioner any actual substantial relief by reason of
aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed.
the foregoing circumstances, then the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner was
appropriately dismissed for being moot and academic.
Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable by mere
amendment of the complaint or other initiatory pleading but shall be cause for the
V
dismissal of the case without prejudice, unless otherwise provided, upon motion and
after hearing. The submission of a false certification or non-compliance with any of the
undertakings therein shall constitute indirect contempt of court, without prejudice to Finally, petitioner posits that Section 77 of Republic Act No. 7942 and Sections 202 to
the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the party or his 203 of its Implementing Rules vest the Panel of Arbitrators with the jurisdiction to
counsel clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be entertain and accept any claim, protest or opposition filed directly with its office. In the
ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt, as discharge thereof, the office and function bestowed upon the Panel of Arbitrators
well as a cause for administrative sanctions. include the power and authority to deny clearances, exclude exploration permits, and
not to accept or entertain the same.
Hence, the requirement by the Panel of Arbitrators and the MAB that a certification
against forum shopping be attached to initiatory pleadings filed before them, to The Court disagrees.
ascertain that no similar actions have been filed before other courts, tribunals, or
quasi-judicial bodies, is not arbitrary or baseless. The lack of such a certification is a
ground for the dismissal of the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner. Section 77 of Republic Act No. 7942 establishes the jurisdiction of the Panel of
Arbitrators, thus:

IV
Sec. 77. Panel of Arbitrators. – x x x. Within thirty (30) working days, after the
submission of the case by the parties for decision, the panel shall have exclusive
The Panel of Arbitrators dismissed the Verified Protest/Opposition of petitioner for a and original jurisdiction to hear and decide on the following:
third reason: that the same has become moot and academic, given that the DENR
Secretary already issued DMO No. 2005-03 on 1 February 2005 canceling MPSA No.
153-2000-1 and MGB issued EP No. 05-001 to private respondent on 1 September a. Disputes involving rights to mining areas;
2005.
b. Disputes involving mineral agreements or permits;
However, petitioner asserts that MPSA No. 153-2000-1 has not been finally cancelled
or revoked, considering the pendency of the legal remedies it availed itself of for DMO c. Disputes involving surface owners, occupants and
No. 2005-03. The issuance of DMO No. 2005-03 by the DENR Secretary, and of EP claimholders/concessionaires; and
No. 05-001 by MGB pursuant thereto, should not render the Verified
Protest/Opposition of petitioner moot and academic.
d. Disputes pending before the Bureau and the Department at the date of
the effectivity of this Act. (Emphasis supplied.)
The position of petitioner is untenable.
In Olympic Mines and Development Corporation v. Platinum Group Metals
It must be stressed that the cancellation of MPSA No. 153-2000-1 of petitioner by the Corporation43 citing Celestial Nickel Mining Exploration Corporation v. Macroasia
DENR Secretary in DMO No. 2005-03 is already the subject of separate proceedings. Corporation,44 this Court made the following pronouncements as regards paragraphs
The Court cannot touch upon it in the Petition at bar. (a) and (b) of Section 77 of Republic Act No. 7942:

Also worth stressing is that petitioner filed a Verified Protest/Opposition to the In Celestial Nickel Mining Exploration Corporation v. Macroasia Corporation, et al., this
Application for Exploration Permit of private respondent. When the application was Court speaking through Justice Velasco, specified the kind of disputes that fall under
approved and the exploration permit issued to private respondent, petitioner had Section 77(a) of the Mining Act:
nothing more to protest/oppose. More importantly, with the issuance by MGB of EP
No. 05-001 to private respondent, the remedy of petitioner is to seek the cancellation
thereof, over which, as subsequently discussed herein, the Panel of Arbitrators would
118

SO ORDERED.
The phrase "disputes involving rights to mining areas" refers to any adverse claim,
protest, or opposition to an application for a mineral agreement.

xxxx

[T]he power of the POA to resolve any adverse claim, opposition, or protest relative to
mining rights under Section 77 (a) of RA 7942 is confined only to adverse claims,
conflicts, and oppositions relating to applications for the grant of mineral rights. x x x.
Clearly, POA’s jurisdiction over "disputes involving rights to mining areas" has
nothing to do with the cancellation of existing mineral agreements. (Emphases
supplied.)

xxxx

Parenthetically, the "permit" referred to in Section 77(b) of the Mining Act pertains to
exploration permit, quarry permit, and other mining permits recognized in Chapters IV,
VIII, and IX of the Mining Act. An operating agreement, not being among those listed,
cannot be considered as a "mineral permit" under Section 77 (b). (Emphases
supplied.)

It is clear from the ruling of the Court in Olympic Mines and Celestial Nickel Mining
that the Panel of Arbitrators only has jurisdiction over adverse claims, conflicts, and
oppositions relating to applications for the grant of mineral rights, but not over
cancellation of mineral rights already granted and existing.

As to who has jurisdiction to cancel an existing exploration permit, Section 28 of DAO


NO. 96-40 explicitly provides:

Section 28. Cancellation of an Exploration Permit. – The Director/concerned Regional


Director may cancel the Exploration Permit for failure of the Permittee to comply with
any of the requirements and for violation(s) of the terms and conditions under which
the Permit is issued. For renewed Exploration Permits, the Secretary upon the
recommendation of the Director shall cause the cancellation of the same.

According to Section 5 of DAO No. 96-40, "Director" means the Director of the MGB
Central Office, while "Regional Director" means the Regional Director of any MGB
Regional Office. As the authority to issue an Exploration Permit is vested in the MGB,
then the same necessarily includes the corollary power to revoke, withdraw or cancel
the same.45 Indisputably, the authority to deny, revoke, or cancel EP No. 05-001 of
private respondent is already lodged with the MGB, and not with the Panel of
Arbitrators.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari of


petitioner Pyro Copper Mining Corporation is hereby DENIED. The Resolutions dated
23 February 2007 and 6 September 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
97663 are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
119

The same complaint, now docketed as Civil Case No. 97-0608, was re-filed on
November 25, 1997. It was raffled in due course to Branch 260 of the Regional Trial
Court of Parañaque City presided by Judge Helen Bautista-Ricafort.

On May 13, 1998, when the case was called for a pre-trial conference, the matter of
plaintiff’s (petitioner’s) application for support pendente lite of their four (4) minor
children was taken up. Judge Bautista-Ricafort received evidence on the application
for support pendente lite. The private respondent and her counsel, Atty. Alberto Diaz,
participated in that proceedings by conducting an extensive cross-examination of the
petitioner. The trial court then issued its Order dated May 13, 1998 declaring the
proceedings on the application for support pendente lite terminated and deemed
submitted for resolution; and as prayed for by the parties, also set the case for pre-trial
on June 15, 1998 at 8:30 a.m.1âwphi1.nêt

On May 19, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort, issued an Order4 granting the application
for support pendente lite, the pertinent portion of which reads:

xxx xxx xxx


G.R. No. 139337 August 15, 2001

The plaintiff, testifying under oath, submitted Exhibit "A" itemizing the
MA. CARMINIA C. ROXAS, petitioner,
expenses incurred for the support of the children over a period of time
vs.
during their stay at Ayala-Alabang; and showed that their total monthly
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and JOSE ANTONIO F. ROXAS, respondents.
average expense is P84,585.00, or P42,292.50 per month, per spouse.
Interestingly, the defendant did not adduce any evidence to dispute the
DE LEON, JR., J.: figures presented to the Court by the plaintiff, nor did he present proof of his
financial incapacity to contribute more than 50% of the children’s school
tuition fees.
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 dated April 21, 1999
and Resolution2 dated July 20, 1999 of the Court of Appeals nullifying the Orders3
dated May 13, 1998, May 19, 1998 and September 23, 1998 of the Regional Trial The court has painstakingly reviewed the item included in Exhibit "A", and
Court of Parañaque City, Branch 260, which found private respondent Jose Antonio F. found the same reasonable, xxx.
Roxas liable to pay support pendente lite and subsequently in contempt of court after
failing to tender the required amount of support pendente lite.
Under Art. 49 of the Family Code, there being no written agreement
between the plaintiff and the defendant for the adequate support of their
The antecedent facts are as follows: minor children xxx, this Court finds the prayer for support pendente lite to be
in order. Accordingly, the defendant is hereby ordered to contribute to the
support of the above-named minors, (aside from 50% of their school tuition
On November 4, 1997, petitioner Ma. Carminia C. Roxas filed with the Regional Trial fees which the defendant has agreed to defray, plus expenses for books
Court of Parañaque City, Civil Case No. 97-0523, which is an action for declaration of and other supplies), the sum of P42,292.50 per month, effective May 1,
nullity of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity on the part of her 1998, as his share in the monthly support of the children until further orders
husband, Jose Antonio F. Roxas, private respondent herein, with an application for from this Court. xxx. All expenses for books and other school supplies shall
support pendente lite for their four (4) minor children. The case was raffled to Branch be shouldered by the plaintiff and the defendant, share and share alike.
257 of the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City presided by Judge Rolando C. How. Finally, it is understood that any claim for support-in-arrears prior to May 1,
But the petitioner, soon thereafter, filed in the said RTC Branch 257 a Notice of 1998, may be taken up later in the course of the proceedings proper.
Dismissal dated November 20, 1997, to dismiss the complaint, without prejudice,
pursuant to the provision of Section 1, Rule 17, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
considering that summons has not yet been served and no responsive pleading has On July 22, 1998, the petitioner filed a manifestation and motion praying the trial court
yet been filed. to cite private respondent in contempt of court in accordance with Section 5, Rule 61
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, after the latter failed to comply with the said
120

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Order dated May 19, 1998 of the trial court. Private respondent, through his counsel,
Atty. Alberto Diaz, filed a counter-manifestation and motion admitting that "xxx there is Private respondent was arrested by the agents of the National Bureau of Investigation
really no genuine issue as to his obligation and willingness to contribute to the (NBI) on December 14, 1998 but he was released on the following day after the
expenses for the support of his minor children xxx. He simply wants to make sure that appellate court temporarily enjoined Judge Bautista-Ricafort from enforcing her
whatever funds he provides for the purpose will go to the expenses for which they are November 27, 1998 Order as well as her Orders dated May 19, 1998, September 23,
intended."5 Thus, he prayed that the manner and mode of payment of his contribution 1998, and October 8, 1998. When the temporary restraining order lapsed on March
to the expenses of his minor children be modified such that he will pay directly to the 11, 1998, the respondent was again arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by
entities or persons to which the payment for such expenses are intended. On Judge Bautista-Ricafort. After depositing with the clerk of court of the trial court the
September 23, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort issued an Order6 directing the private amount of support in arrears stated in the Orders of the trial court, private respondent
respondent "to comply fully with the Order of this Court dated May 19, 1998 by was released from custody.
updating payment of his share in the support of the minor children, pendente lite,
covering the period May 1998 to September 1998, within five (5) days from his receipt
hereof xxx under pain of legal sanctions if he still fails to do so. xxx." On April 21, 1999, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision in favor of private
respondent, the dispositive portion of which states:

On September 28, 1998, or about four (4) months later, private respondent, through
his new counsel, Atty. Francisco Ma. Guerrerro, filed an Omnibus Motion (1) applying WHEREFORE, being meritorious, the instant petition is GRANTED.
to be authorized to discharge Atty. Alberto Diaz as his counsel and to substitute him Consequently, all the proceedings/actions taken by respondent Judge on
with the new counsel; (2) to re-open hearing on the Motion for Support Pendente Lite; the matter of support pendente lite in Civil Case No. 97-0608 (formerly Civil
and (3) to temporarily stay execution of the Orders dated May 19, 1998 and Case No. 97-0523) are hereby declared NULL and VOID, and said CASE is
September 23, 1998. The omnibus motion was set for hearing on October 2, 1998. ordered RETURNED to Branch 257 of the Regional Trial Court of
Private respondent requested that before the omnibus motion is heard the May 19, Parañaque City, for appropriate proceedings.
1998 Order be temporarily suspended. When the presiding judge did not grant that
request of private respondent, the latter’s new counsel refused to proceed with the SO ORDERED.8
hearing of his omnibus motion.
The appellate court nullified the Orders and the proceedings of the trial court for the
On October 8, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort issued an Order giving private reason that the certificate of non-forum shopping of the petitioner did not mention the
respondent ten (10) days to comply with the May 19, 1998 Order, otherwise, he would prior filing of Civil Case No. 97-0523 before the sala of Judge How and the dismissal
be cited for contempt of court. thereof without prejudice. The decision of the appellate court elaborated the reasons
for the granting of the petition, to wit:
On October 23, 1998, private respondent filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for
certiorari questioning the Orders of the trial court dated May 19, 1998, September 23, xxx xxx xxx
1998 and October 8, 1998.
While a complaint may be dismissed by the plaintiff by filing a notice of
Meanwhile, on November 27, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort issued another Order,7 dismissal at any time before service of the answer (Sec. 1, Rule 17), there is
the dispositive portion of which reads: however a need to state the fact of prior filing and dismissal thereof in the
certification on non-forum shopping, in the event the complaint is refiled, as
xxx xxx xxx in this case. This must be so in order to prevent the plaintiff or principal
party from invoking Section 1 of Rule 17 in the hope that, if and when
refiled, the complaint will be raffled to a more sympathetic judge.
Accordingly, and on the strength of the provisions of Sec. 5 Rule 61 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the defendant (herein private respondent) is
hereby pronounced guilty of Contempt of Court, and is hereby ordered To the mind of the Court, private respondent availed of Section 1 of Rule 17
arrested and confined at the City Jail of Parañaque City, Metro Manila, not for any other reason or purpose than to take the case out of the sala of
without bail, and as long as he has not complied with and obeyed in full the Judge How and to have it assigned to another. This belief finds support from
Order of this Court dated May 19, 1998 by updating his monthly contribution the fact that private respondent’s lawyer and respondent Judge were
of P42,292.50 for the period of May 1998 to the date, giving the said amount classmates at the UP College of Law.
directly to the plaintiff, or depositing it with the Clerk of Court, who shall
therefor (issue) the corresponding receipts.
121

AFFECTING HER QUESTIONED ORDERS, AT THE SAME TIME


IMPLIEDLY UPHOLDING THE VALIDITY OF THE REST OF THE
Not only that. While private respondent actually resides in Ayala Alabang,
PROCEEDINGS INCLUDING THE TRIAL ON THE MERITS OF THE CASE
Muntinlupa City, it was made to appear in the complaint that she is a
FOR ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE?
resident of Parañaque City, where respondent Judge is one of the RTC
Judges. While the question of venue was not properly raised on time, this
circumstance is being cited to support petitioner’s charge of forum- IV
shopping.
DID THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN ORDERING THAT
xxx xxx xxx CIVIL CASE NO. 97-0523 RAFFLED TO JUDGE RICAFORT BE
"RETURNED" TO JUDGE HOW OF BRANCH 257 OF THE RTC OF
PARANAQUE CITY?
Needless to say, forum-shopping merits such serious sanctions as those
prescribed in Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
Considering, however, that when the complaint was withdrawn, no In other words, if a case is dismissed without prejudice upon the filing by the plaintiff of
substantial proceedings had as yet been taken by the court to which it was a notice of dismissal pursuant to Section 1 of Rule 17, before the service of the
first raffled, and that the dismissal thereof was then a matter or (sic) right, answer or responsive pleading, would the subsequent re-filing of the case by the
the Court is not inclined to impose any of the said sanctions. Instead, for the same party require that the certificate of non-forum shopping state that a case
peace of mind of petitioner who entertains some doubts on the impartiality involving the same issues and parties was filed and dismissed without prejudice
of respondent Judge, the annulment case should be returned to Branch 257 beforehand? Would the omission of such a statement in the certificate of non-forum
of the RTC of Parañaque City, to which it was originally raffled. And, to shopping render null and void the proceedings and orders issued by the trial court in
enable the Presiding Judge of said Branch to act on the matter of support the re-filed case?
pendente lite, which gave rise to this petition for certiorari and
disqualification, the proceedings/actions taken by respondent Judge relative
thereto should be set aside, the same having been attended with grave It is our considered view and we hold that the