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20. City Treasurer of Makati v. BA Lepanto Condominium Corp., GR 154993, Oct.

25,
2005, 474 SCRA 258

Facts: Respondent BA-Lepanto Condominium Corporation (the “Corporation”) is a


condominium corporation constituted in accordance with the Condominium Act, which owns
and holds title to the common and limited common areas of the BA-Lepanto Condominium (the
“Condominium”), situated in Makati City. Its membership comprises the various unit owners.
The Corporation is authorized, under Article V of its Amended By-Laws, to collect regular
assessments from its members for operating expenses, capital expenditures on the common areas,
and other special assessments as provided for in the Master Deed with Declaration of
Restrictions of the Condominium.

The Corporation received a Notice of Assessment signed by the City Treasurer. The
Notice of Assessment stated that the Corporation is “liable to pay the correct city business
taxes.” The Notice of Assessment was silent as to the statutory basis of the business taxes
assessed. The Corporation responded with a written tax protest addressed to the City Treasurer.

According to respondent, under both the Makati Code and the Local Government Code,
“business” is defined as “trade or commercial activity regularly engaged in as a means of
livelihood or with a view to profit.” It was submitted that the Corporation, as a condominium
corporation, was organized not for profit, but to hold title over the common areas of the
Condominium, to manage the Condominium for the unit owners, and to hold title to the parcels
of land on which the Condominium was located. Neither was the Corporation authorized, under
its articles of incorporation or by-laws to engage in profit-making activities. The assessments it
did collect from the unit owners were for capital expenditures and operating expenses.

The protest was rejected by the City Treasurer and insisted that the collection of dues
from the unit owners was effected primarily “to sustain and maintain the expenses of the
common areas, with the end in view of getting full appreciative living values for the individual
condominium occupants and to command better marketable prices for those occupants” who
would in the future sell their respective units. In short, the petitioner avers that it is engaged in
business for profit making.

Because of the denial of the protest, respondent filed an Appeal with the RTC of Makati.
However, the latter dismissed the case. As a recourse, respondent filed a Petition for Review
under Rule 42 of the Rules of Civil Procedure with the CA. It was dismissed outright because
only decisions of the RTC brought on appeal from a first level court could be elevated for review
under Rule 42. However, it was reinstated by the CA because of Sec. 195 of the LGC stating that
the remedy of the taxpayer on the denial of the protest filed with the local treasurer is to appeal
the denial with the court of competent jurisdiction. Afterwards, the CA reversed the ruling of the
RTC.

Issue:
a. Whether the RTC, in deciding an appeal taken from a denial of a protest by a local treasurer
under Section 195 of the Local Government Code, exercises “original jurisdiction” or “appellate
jurisdiction.”
b. Whether or not the City of Makati may collect business taxes on condominium corporations.
Held:
a. The review taken by the RTC over the denial of the protest by the local treasurer would fall
within that court’s original jurisdiction. The review is the initial judicial cognizance of the
matter. Moreover, labeling the said review as an exercise of appellate jurisdiction is
inappropriate, since the denial of the protest is not the judgment or order of a lower court, but of
a local government official. Republic Act No. 9282 definitively proves that the CTA exercises
exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review on appeal decisions, orders or resolutions of the
Regional Trial Courts in local tax cases original decided or resolved by them in the exercise of
their originally or appellate jurisdiction. Moreover, the provision also states that the review is
triggered “by filing a petition for review under a procedure analogous to that provided for under
Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.” Republic Act No. 9282, however, would not
apply to this case simply because it arose prior to the effectivity of that law.

b. No. Section 143 of the Code specifically enumerates several types of business on which
municipalities and cities may impose taxes. However, the Corporation does not fall under such
law. Moreover, nowhere in the Makati Revenue Code that would serve as the legal authority for
the collection of business taxes from condominiums in Makati. We can elicit from the
Condominium Act that a condominium corporation is precluded by statute from engaging in
corporate activities other than the holding of the common areas, the administration of the
condominium project, and other acts necessary, incidental or convenient to the accomplishment
of such purposes. Neither the maintenance of livelihood, nor the procurement of profit, fall
within the scope of permissible corporate purposes of a condominium corporation under the
Condominium Act. None of these stated corporate purposes are geared towards maintaining a
livelihood or the obtention of profit. Even though the Corporation is empowered to levy
assessments or dues from the unit owners, these amounts collected are not intended for the
incurrence of profit by the Corporation or its members, but to shoulder the multitude of
necessary expenses that arise from the maintenance of the Condominium Project.

21. Hulst v. PR Builders, Inc., GR 566, Sept. 25, 2008, 566 SCRA 333

FACTS:
The Petitioner and his spouse, both Dutch Nationals, entered into a Contract to Sell with PR
Builders, Inc. to purchase a 210-sq m residential unit in the respondent's townhouse project in
Batanagas. When PR Builder's failed to comply with their verbal promise to complete the
project, the spouses Hulst filed a complaint for recession of contract with interest, damages and
attorney's fees before the Housing and Land Regulatory Board (HLURB), which then was
granted. A Writ of Execution was then addressed to the Ex-Officio Sheriff of the RTC of
Tanauan, Batangas, but upon the complaint of the respondent, the levy was set aside, leaving
only the respondent's personal properties to be levied first. The Sheriff set a public auction of the
said levied properties, however, the respondent filed a motion to quash Writ of levy on the
ground that the sheriff made an over levy since the aggregate appraised value of the properties at
P6,500 per sq m is P83,616,000. Instead of resolving the objection of the respondent's regarding
the auction, the Sheriff proceeded with the auction since there was no restraining order from the
HLURB. The 15 parcels of land was then awarded to Holly Properties Realty at a bid of
P5,450,653. On the same day, the Sheriff remitted the legal fees and submitted to contracts of
sale to HLURB, however, he then received orders to suspend proceedings on the auction for the
reason that the market value of the properties was not fair. There was disparity between the
appraised value and the value made by the petitioner and the Sheriff, which should've been
looked into by the Sheriff before making the sale. While an inadequacy in price is not a ground
to annul such sale, the court is justified to such intervention where the price shocks the
conscience.

ISSUE:
1. Whether or not the Sheriff erred in the value that was attached to the properties during the
auction and as well as disregarding the objection made by the respondent's?
2. Whether or not the market value of the said property was inadequate?
2. Whether or not the spouses Hulst's request for damages is actionable?

HELD:
1. No. According to the Rules of Court, the value of the property levied is not required to be
exactly the same as the judgment debt. In the levy of property, the Sheriff does not determine the
exact valuation of the levied property. The Sheriff is left to his own judgment. He should be
allowed a reasonable margin between the value of the property levied upon and the amount of
the execution; the fact that the Sheriff levies upon a little more than is necessary to satisfy the
execution does not render his actions improper.

In the absence of a restraining order, no error can be imputed to the Sheriff in proceeding
with the auction sale despite the pending motion to quash the levy filed by the respondents with
the HLURB. Sheriff’s, as officers charged with the task of the enforcement and/or
implementation of judgments, must act with considerable dispatch so as not to unduly delay the
administration of justice. It is not within the jurisdiction of the Sheriff to consider and resolve
respondent's objection to the continuation of the conduct of the auction sale. The Sheriff has no
authority, on his own, to suspend the auction sale. His duty being ministerial, he has no
discretion to postpone the conduct of the auction sale.

2. No. The HLURB Arbiter and Director had no sufficient factual basis to determine the value of
the levied property. The Appraisal report, that was submitted, was based on the projected value
of the townhouse project after it shall have been fully developed, that is, on the assumption that
the residential units appraised had already been built. Since it is undisputed that the townhouse
project did not push through, the projected value did not become a reality. Thus, the appraisal
value cannot be equated with the fair market value.

3. No. Under Article 12, Sec.7 of the 1987 Constitution, foreign nationals, the spouses Hulst, are
disqualified form owning real property. However, under article 1414 of the Civil Code, one who
repudiates the agreement and demands his money before the illegal act has taken place is entitled
to recover. Petitioner is therefore entitled to recover what he has paid, although the basis of his
claim for rescission, which was granted by the HLURB, was not the fact that he is not allowed to
acquire private land under the Philippine Constitution. But petitioner is entitled to the recovery
only of the amount of P3,187,500.00, representing the purchase price paid to respondent. No
damages may be recovered on the basis of a void contract; being nonexistent, the agreement
produces no juridical tie between the parties involved. Further, petitioner is not entitled to actual
as well as interests thereon, moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees.
22. Espinosa v. Makalintal, GR L-1334, Aug. 29, 1947, 79 Phil. 134

Facts: The complaint in said case prays that defendant be ordered to return to the plaintiff the
material possession of the parcel of public forest land described in the complaint. The land is
located in Iloilo; is the object of lease, executed on February 12, 1941, between plaintiff and the
Commonwealth of the Philippines, represented by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce;
is now a fishpond.

On December 27, 1945, defendants moved for the dismissal of the complaint upon the theory
that the lower court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case. Their theory is that the
litigation properly belongs to the jurisdiction and competency of the Department of Agriculture
and Commerce, who had absolute and discretionary authority to decide cases of conflicting
claims regarding the disposition of public lands for fishpond purposes.

Issue: Whether or not the DENR have the responsibility over disposition of public lands.

Ruling: The powers granted to the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce by law regarding the
disposition of public lands are all of executive and administrative nature. such as granting of
licenses, permits, leases, and contracts, or approving, rejecting, reinstating, or' cancelling-
applications, or deciding conflicting applications, which powers do not include the judicial
power, which has been lodged by the Constitution exclusively in the Supreme Court and in such
inferior tribunals as may have been established by law, to decide controversies arising from
disagreements in civil or contractual relations between the litigants such as those appearing in the
pleadings in this case.

23. Stolt-Nielsen Transportation Group, Inc. v. Medequillo, Jr., GR 177498, Jan. 18, 2012,
663 SCRA 291

FACTS:

Medequillo filed a complaint before the POEA against the petitioners for illegal dismissal and
failure to deploy. On 06 November 1991, he was hired by Stolt Nielsen on behalf of its principal
Chung-Gai Management on board the vessel Stolt Aspiration. While the vessel was docked at
MV Stolt Aspiration, he joined the crew for nearly three months. However, he was ordered by
the ship’s master to disembark the vessel and he was repatriated back to Manila for no reason or
explanation.

He was transferred to Stolt Pride under a second contract, with approval of the POEA. Despite
the commencement of the second contract, he was not deployed despite follow-ups from
Medequillo. When he sought for the return of his passport, seaman’s book and other papers, he
was made to sign a document that he cannot seek for employment with other agencies.

LABOR ARBITER: The Labor Arbiter found that Medequillo was constructively dismissed. He
found that the first contract entered into by and between the petitioner and Medequillo had been
novated by the second contract. Petitioners appealed that Medequillo cannot be considered as
having been illegally dismissed because he had not even been deployed yet.

NLRC: The NLRC upheld the finding of unjustified terminal


ISSUE:

Whether or not the first employment contract between the petitioner and Medequillo is
separate and distinct from the second one.
What is the consequence of the non-deployment of the respondent?

RULING:

YES. With the finding that respondent was still employed under the first contract when he
negotiated with the petitioners on the second contract, novation became an unavoidable
conclusion.
The POEA Standard Employment Conract provides that employment shall commence upon
the actual departure of the seafarer from the airport or seaport in the port of hire. Thus, the
contention of the petitioners of the alleged poor performance of the respondent while on board
the first ship cannot be sustained to justify non-deployment. Under the POEA Rules, failure of an
agency to deploy a worker within the prescribed period without valid reasons shall be a cause for
the suspension or cancellation of license or fine.

24. Brillantes v. Castro, GR L-9223, June 30, 1956, 99 Phil. 497

Facts: On December 1, 1953, Brillantes filed a complaint against Castro before the Wage
Administration Service (WAS) for the recovery of the alleged unpaid salary and overtime pay.
On February 15, 1954 Brillantes and Castro entered into an Arbitration Agreement whereby they
agreed “1. That they submit their case to the WAS for investigation; and 2. That they bind
themselves to abide by whatever decision WAS may render over the case; and that they
recognize said decision to be final and conclusive.

WAS ruling: the claim for overtime and underpayment is hereby dismissed but the respondent is
adjudged to pay the claimant P50.88 corresponding to his salary for services rendered in the
month of November.

No appeal was taken from this decision and on November 10, 1954, Brillantes filed a
complaint against Castro with this Court over the same subject matter and cause of action
litigated between them before and decided by the WAS. The counsel of Brillantes agreed that the
decision rendered by the hearing officer of the WAS is an order issued pursuant to section 7 of
Minimum Wage Law in relation section 12 which authorizes delegation by the Secretary of
Labor of his powers in the administration or enforcement of the MWL to the Chief of the WAS,
however he contends that the right to go to the Supreme Court for review of said order granted
by section 7 of MWL is not exclusive because under said section the review by this Tribunal is
limited to question of law and that the findings of fact contained in the appealed decision must be
accepted.

Trial Court ruling: dismissed the complaint on the ground that it is barred by prior judgment.
Hence, this appeal.

Issue: whether or not, the second complaint is barred by prior judgment.


Held: affirmative; the SC fully agree with the decision of the trial court that the complaint is
barred by prior judgment. There is no question that the complaint filed by Brillantes with the
WAS may be regarded as a suit by one party as against another to enforce a right; that the WAS
in entertaining said suit, hearing the parties and deciding the case acted as quasi-judicial body
and the proceedings before it were quasi-judicial proceedings, and conducted in accordance with
law, and so was the decision rendered. The failure of Brillantes to appeal from said decision to
the SC as provided by the Minimum wage law rendered it final and conclusive and served as a
bar to another action between the same parties involving the same subject matter and cause of
action and the same issues. Besides, the parties signed an agreement whereby they submitted
their case to the WAS, binding themselves to abide by whatever decision it would validly render.

Note: the principle of res judicata is applicable to decisions of a quasi-judicial body like the
WAS. In this connection, it has been declared that whatever a final adjudication of persons
invested with power to decide on the property and rights of the citizen is examinable by the SC,
upon a writ of error or a certiorari; such final adjudication may be pleaded as res judicata.

25. Ortua v. Encarnacion, GR 39919, Jan. 30, 1934, 59 Phil. 440

FACTS: January, 1920


The petitioner Fortunato Ortua filed an application with the Bureau of Lands for the purchase of
a tract of public land situated in the municipality of San Jose, Province of Camarines Sur.

Following an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Lands, Ortua's application was rejected,
allowing him, however, to file a sale or lease application for the portion of the land classified to
be suitable for commercial purposes, within a period of 60 days from the date of the decision and
upon payment of P3,000 for accrued rents.

Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Agriculture and Commerce)


-Upon the appeal to the then Secretary, the decision was affirmed, except that the sum of P3, 000
was reduced to P400.

One condition for the purchase of a tract of public agricultural land, provided by the Public
Land Law, Act No. 2874, in its sections 23 and 88, is that
 the purchaser shall be a citizen of lawful age of the Philippine Islands or of the United
States.

Fortunato Ortua in his application stated that he was a Filipino citizen, but the Director of Lands
held that on the contrary, Ortua was a Chinese citizen.
The Director of Lands found established the following facts:
 Fortunato Ortua was born in 1885 in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, Philippine Islands, being
the natural son of Irene Demesa, a Filipina, and Joaquin Ortua, a Chinese.

 In 1896 Fortunato was sent to China to study. While he was in China his father and
mother were legally married.

 Fortunato returned to the Philippines in 1906, that is, when he was twenty-one years of
age.
It was conceded by the Director of Lands that presumptively Fortunato Ortua was a Philippine
citizen, but certain acts of Ortua were pointed to as demonstrating that he had forfeited his
Philippine citizenship such as the ff:

 Ortua voluntarily applied for a landing certificate of residence which was issued by the
Insular Collector of Customs and which is only given to Chinese persons.

 Ortua applied for the registration of a boat, and it was denied by the Insular Collector of
Customs on the ground that the appellant was a Chinese citizen, Ortua submitted to the
ruling

Issue:
Whether or not the petitioner is qualified under the Public Land Law to purchase public
agricultural lands.

Held:
Yes. The petitioner is qualified under the Public Land Law to purchase public agricultural lands.
The Court held that a clear error of law resulted in not considering the petitioner a Philippine
citizen

Although, the decisions of the Director of Lands on the construction of the Public Land Law are
entitled to great respect by the courts, any action of the Director of Lands which is based upon a
misconstruction of the law can be corrected by the courts.

Fortunato Ortua should be considered to be a Philippine citizen or a Chinese citizen.


Presumptively it is admitted that he is a Philippine citizen. More correctly stated, Fortunato
Ortua had a sort of a dual citizenship, and had it within his power either to elect to become a
Philippine citizen or a Chinese citizen

The Director of Lands gave too much prominence, we think, to two minor facts, susceptible of
explanation.

When Ortua returned from China at the age of twenty-one


 it was the most natural thing in the world for him to land as a Chinese, for this would
facilitate entry and obviate complications.

When Ortua applied for the registration of a boat,


 there may have been any number of reasons why he did not care to appeal from the
decision of the Insular Collector of Customs.

On the other hand, some consideration should be given to the intention of the petitioner, and he
vigorously insists that it is his desire to be considered a Philippine citizen.
 He has taken a Filipino name.
 He has gone into business and has improved the property here in question to a great
extent.
 There has been no implied renunciation of citizenship, because the petitioner has been
domiciled in these Islands except for a short period during his infancy when he
temporarily sojourned in China for study.
 he states that he has always considered himself to be a Filipino, and that he has elected to
remain as a Philippine citizen.