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G.R. No.

200191 August 20, 2014

LOURDES C. FERNANDEZ, Petitioner,


vs.
NORMA VILLEGAS and any person acting in her behalf including her family, Respondents.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the Resolutions dated June 22, 20112 and
December 28, 20113 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 116143 which dismissed the
petition for review under Rule 42 of the Rules of Court4 (CA petition) due to defective verification and
certification against forum shopping.

The Facts

On August 21, 2008, petitioner Lourdes C. Fernandez (Lourdes) and her sister, Cecilia Siapno
(Cecilia), represented by her attorney-in-fact, Imelda S. Slater (Imelda), filed a Complaint for
Ejectment5 before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 1, Dagupan City(MTCC), docketed as
Civil Case No. 15980, against respondent Norma Villegas (Norma) and any person acting in her
behalf including her family (respondents), seeking to recover possession of a parcel of land situated
in Guilig Street, Dagupan City covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 191706 (subject
property).

In their complaint, Lourdes and Cecilia(plaintiffs) averred that they are the registered owners of the
subject property on which both Lourdes and respondents previously lived under oneroof. However,
when their house was destroyed by typhoon "Cosme," Lourdes transferred to a nipahut on the same
lot, while Norma, Cecilia’s daughter-in-law, and her family were advised to relocate but, in the
meantime, allowed to use a portion thereof.7 Instead, respondents erecteda house thereon over
plaintiffs’ objections and, despite demands, refused to vacate and surrender possession of the
subject property.8 The dispute was referred to the Barangay Office of Pugo9 Chico and the Public
Attorney’s Office, both of Dagupan City, but no settlement was reached.10

For their part, respondents, in their Answer,11 averred that the complaint stated no cause of
action,considering that Lourdes has no standing to question their possession ofthe subject property
as she had already donated her portion in favor of Cecilia,12 adding too that the latter is bound by her
declaration that"the house and lot belong[s] to Eddie," who is Norma’s late husband.13 Respondents
further asserted that there was no compliance with the required conciliation and mediation under the
Katarungang Pambarangay Law14 as no Certificate to File Action was attached to the
complaint,15 thereby rendering the complaint dismissible.

The MTCC Ruling

In a Decision16 dated September 30, 2009,the MTCC found that respondents failed to impugn the
validity of plaintiffs’ ownership over the subject property. As owners, plaintiffs therefore have the right
to enjoy the use and receive the fruits from the saidproperty, as well as to exclude one from its
enjoyment pursuant to Articles 428 and 429 of the Civil Code.17 Accordingly, the MTCC ordered
respondents to: (a) vacate the subject property and pay plaintiffs the amount of ₱1,000.00 per month
as reasonable compensation for the use and occupation of the portion of the lot occupied by them,
reckoned from the filing of the complaint; (b) pay plaintiffs ₱10,000.00 as attorney’s fees; and (c) pay
the cost of suit.18
Dissatisfied with the MTCC’s ruling, respondents filed an appeal19 before the Regional Trial Court
ofDagupan City (RTC), Branch 40, docketed as Civil Case No. 2009-0224-D.

The RTC Ruling

In a Decision20 dated March 16, 2010, the RTC, Branch 40 granted respondents’ appeal and ordered
the dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaint based on the following grounds: (a) there was no substantial
compliance with the mandatory conciliation and mediation process before the barangay, especially
considering that the parties are very close relatives;21 and (b) respondents are builders in good faith
and cannot be summarily ejected from the subject property without compliance with the provisions of
Articles 448, 546, and 548 of the Civil Code.22

The RTC, Branch 40 further ordered plaintiffs to jointly and severally pay respondents the amount of
₱50,000.00 as attorney’s fees.23

Aggrieved, plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration24 which was denied by the RTC, Branch 4425 in
a Resolution26 dated August 18, 2010, prompting the filing of the CA petition.

The CA Proceedings

In response to plaintiffs’ CA petition, respondents filed a Motion to Dismiss Appeal on the grounds
that: (a) Cecilia failed to personally verify the petition; and (b) the appeal is dilatory.27 In their
comment, plaintiffs maintained that Lourdes, as co-owner of the subject property, has the right tofile
an ejectment case by herself, without joining her co-owner, Cecilia, as provided under Article 487 of
the Civil Code. Moreover, Lourdes was specially authorized by Imelda to file the CA petition.28

In a Resolution29 dated June 22, 2011, the CA granted respondents’ Motion to Dismiss Appeal,
holding that the verification and certification30 against forum shopping attached to the CA petition was
defective since it was signed only by Lourdes, one of the plaintiffs in the case, in violation of Section
5,31 Rule 7 of the Rules of Court which requires all the plaintiffs to sign the same.32 There was also no
showing that Lourdes was authorized by her co-plaintiff, Cecilia, to represent the latter and to sign
the said certification, and neither did the submission of the special powers of attorney of Cecilia and
Imelda to that effect constitute substantial compliance with the rules.33 The CA further noted that
plaintiffs failed to comply with its prior Resolution dated October 11, 2010 requiring the submission of
an amended verification/certification against forum shopping within five (5) days from notice,
warranting the dismissal of the CA petition on this score.34

At odds with the CA’s resolution, plaintiffs sought reconsideration35 but the same was denied in a
Resolution36 dated December 28, 2011, hence, the instant petition filed by Lourdes alone.

The Issue Before the Court

The primordial issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in dismissing outright the CA petition
due to a defective verification and certification against forum shopping attached to the CA petition.

The Court’s Ruling

The present petition has merit.

The Court laid down the following guidelines with respect to noncompliance with the requirements on
or submission of a defective verification and certification against forum shopping, viz.:
1) A distinction must be madebetween non-compliance with the requirement on or
submission of defective verification, and noncompliance with the requirement on or
submission of defective certification against forum shopping.

2) As to verification, non-compliance therewith or a defect therein does not necessarily


render the pleading fatally defective. The court may order its submission or correction or act
on the pleading if the attending circumstances are such that strictcompliance with the Rule
may be dispensed with in order that the endsof justice may be served thereby.

3) Verification is deemed substantially compliedwith when one who has ample knowledge to
swear tothe truth of the allegations in the complaint or petition signs the verification, and
when matters alleged in the petition have been made in goodfaith or are true and correct.

4) As to certification against forum shopping, non-compliance therewith or a defect therein,


unlike in verification, is generally not curable by its subsequent submission orcorrection
thereof, unless there is a need to relax the Rule on the ground of "substantial compliance" or
presence of "special circumstances or compelling reasons."

5) The certification against forum shopping must be signed by all the plaintiffs or petitioners
in a case; otherwise, those who did not sign will be dropped as parties to the case. Under
reasonable or justifiable circumstances, however, as when all the plaintiffs or petitioners
share a common interestand invoke a common cause of action or defense, the signature of
only one of them in the certification against forum shopping substantially complies with the
Rule.

6) Finally, the certification against forum shopping must be executed by the party-pleader,
not by his counsel. If, however, for reasonable or justifiable reasons, the party-pleader is
unable to sign, he must execute a Special Power of Attorney designating his counsel of
record to sign on his behalf.37 (Emphases supplied)

Applying these guidelines to the caseat bar, particularly, those stated in paragraphs 3 and 5
highlighted above, the Court finds that the CA committed reversible error in dismissing the CA
petition due to a defective verification and certification against forum shopping.

A. Substantial Compliance with the Verification Requirement.

It is undisputed that Lourdes is not only a resident of the subject property but is a co-owner thereof
together with her co-plaintiff/sister, Cecilia. As such, she is "one who has ample knowledge to swear
to the truth of the allegations in the x x x [CA] petition" and is therefore qualified to "sign x x x the
verification" attached thereto in view of paragraph 3 of the above-said guidelines. 1âw phi 1

In fact, Article 487 of the Civil Code explicitly provides that any of the co-owners may bring an action
for ejectment, without the necessity of joining all the other co-owners as co-plaintiffs because the suit
is deemed to be instituted for the benefit of all.38 To reiterate, both Lourdes and Cecilia are co-
plaintiffs in the ejectment suit. Thus, they share a commonality of interest and cause of action as
against respondents. Notably, even the petition for review filed before the CA indicated that they are
the petitioners therein and that the same was filed on their behalf. Hence, the lone signature of
Lourdes on the verification attached to the CA petition constituted substantial compliance with the
rules.39 As held in the case of Medado v. Heirs of the Late Antonio Consing:40

[W]here the petitioners are immediate relatives, who share a common interestin the property subject
of the action, the fact that only one of the petitioners executed the verification or certification of forum
shopping will not deter the court from proceeding with the action.41 (Emphases and underscoring
supplied)

Besides, it is settled that the verification of a pleading is only a formal, not a jurisdictional
requirement intended to secure the assurance that the matters alleged in a pleading are true and
correct. Therefore, the courts may simply order the correction of the pleadings oract on them and
waive strict compliance with the rules,42 as in this case.

B. Substantial Compliance with the Certification Against Forum Shopping Requirement.

Following paragraph 5 of the guidelinesas aforestated, there was also substantial compliance with
the certification against forum shopping requirement, notwithstanding the fact that only Lourdes
signed the same.

It has been held that under reasonable or justifiable circumstances - as in this case where the
plaintiffs or petitioners share a common interest and invoke a common cause of action or defense -
the rule requiring all such plaintiffs or petitioners to sign the certification against forum shopping may
be relaxed.43 Consequently, the CA erred in dismissing the petition on this score.

Similar to the rules on verification, the rules on forum shopping are designed to promote and
facilitate the orderly administration of justice; hence, it should not be interpreted with such absolute
literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objectives. The requirement of strict
compliance with the provisions on certification against forum shopping merely underscores its
mandatory nature to the effect that the certification cannot altogether be dispensed with or its
requirements completely disregarded. It does not prohibit substantial compliance with the rules
under justifiable circumstances,44 as also in this case.

As there was substantial compliance with the above-discussed procedural requirements at the
onset, plaintiffs' subsequent failure to file an amended verification and certification, as directed by
the October 11, 2010 CA Resolution, should not have warranted the dismissal of the CA petition.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated January 22, 2011 and December
28, 2011 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 116143 are hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Accordingly, the case is REINSTATED and REMANDED to the CA for proper and immediate
disposition.

SO ORDERED.

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 186720 February 8, 2012

ELSA D. MEDADO, Petitioner,


vs.
HEIRS OF THE LATE ANTONIO CONSING, as represented by DR. SOLEDAD
CONSING, Respondents.

DECISION

REYES, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which
seeks to annul and set aside the following issuances of the Court of Appeals (CA) in the case
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 02660, entitled "Heirs of the Late Antonio Consing as represented by
Dra. Soledad Consing v. Hon. Renato D. Muñez, Presiding Executive Judge, Regional Trial Court,
Branch 60, Cadiz City, Spouses Meritus Rey Medado, the Sheriff IV, Balbino B. Germinal, Regional
Trial Court, Branch 60, Cadiz City and Land Bank of the Philippines":

(1) the Decision1 dated September 26, 2008, reversing and setting aside the order2 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 60, Cadiz City, in Civil Case No. 797-C, an action for
injunction; and

(2) the Resolution3 dated January 21, 2009, denying the motion for reconsideration of the
decision dated September 26, 2008.

The Factual Antecedents

Sometime in 1996, petitioner Meritus Rey Medado and Elsa Medado (Spouses Medado) and the
estate of the late Antonio Consing (Estate of Consing), as represented by Soledad Consing
(Soledad), executed Deeds of Sale with Assumption of Mortgage for the former's acquisition from
the latter of the property in Cadiz City identified as Hacienda Sol. Records indicate that the sale
included the parcels of land covered by OCT No. P-498, TCT No. T-31275, TCT No. T-31276 and
TCT No. T-31277. As part of the deal, Spouses Medado undertook to assume the estate's loan with
Philippine National Bank (PNB).

Subsequent to the sale, however, the Estate of Consing offered the subject lots to the government
via the Department of Agrarian Reform's Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) program. On November 22,
2000, the Estate of Consing also instituted with the RTC, Branch 44 of Bacolod City an action for
rescission and damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 00-11320 against Spouses Medado, PNB and
the Register of Deeds of Cadiz City, due to the alleged failure of the spouses to meet the conditions
in their agreement.

In the meantime that Civil Case No. 00-11320 for rescission was pending, Land Bank of the
Philippines (LBP) issued in favor of the Estate of Consing a certificate of deposit of cash and
agrarian reform bonds, as compensation for the lots covered by the VOS. Spouses Medado feared
that LBP would release the full proceeds thereof to the Estate of Consing. They claimed to be the
ones entitled to the proceeds considering that they had bought the properties through the Deeds of
Sale with Assumption of Mortgage which they and the Estate of Consing had earlier executed.

The foregoing prompted Spouses Medado to institute Civil Case No. 797-C, an action for injunction
with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, with the RTC, Branch 60 of Cadiz City.
They asked that the following be issued by the trial court: (a) writ of prohibitory injunction to restrain
LBP from releasing the remaining amount of the VOS proceeds of the lots offered by the Estate of
Consing, and restraining the Estate of Consing from receiving these proceeds; and (b) writ of
mandatory injunction to compel LBP to release the remaining amount of the VOS to the spouses.
On March 9, 2007, the RTC of Cadiz City issued an Order4 granting Spouses Medado's application
for the issuance of writs of preliminary prohibitory and mandatory injunction. The order's dispositive
portion reads:

WHEREFORE, finding the application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction
and preliminary mandatory injunction of the plaintiffs to be MERITORIOUS, the same is hereby
GRANTED.

Let therefore a Writ of Preliminary Prohibitory and Mandatory Injunction be issued against defendant
Land Bank, its agents, lawyers and all other persons acting in its behalf to cease and desist from
releasing the balance of the VOS Proceeds to defendant Heirs of the Late Antonio Consing as
represented by Dra. Soledad Consing and restraining said defendant Consing, her agents, lawyers,
successors-in-interest, and all other persons acting in its behalf from receiving the same and to
maintain the STATUS QUO ANTE BELLUM while defendant Land Bank of the Philippines is hereby
ordered to release and pay the whole of the remaining balance of the VOS Proceeds held by the
said defendant to the plaintiffs after the posting of a bond by the plaintiffs in the amount of FIVE
MILLION PESOS (P5,000,000.00) executed in favor of the defendants conditioned upon the
payment to the said defendants by the plaintiffs [of] all damages which the former may sustain by
reason of the issuance of the writ of preliminary prohibitory and mandatory injunction in case this
Court should finally decide that the plaintiffs are not entitled thereto.

Furnish copies of this Order to all counsels and parties.

SO ORDERED.5

Feeling aggrieved, the heirs of the late Antonio Consing (Consing) questioned the RTC's order via a
petition for certiorari filed with the CA, against Hon. Renato D. Muñez, Presiding Executive Judge,
RTC, Branch 60 of Cadiz City, Spouses Medado, Sheriff IV Balbino B. Germinal of RTC, Branch 60
of Cadiz City and LBP. They sought, among other reliefs, the dismissal of the complaint for
injunction for violation of the rules on litis pendentia and forum shopping. On the matter of the
absence of a motion for reconsideration of the trial court's order before resorting to a petition
for certiorari, the heirs explained that the implementation of the questioned writs through LBP's
release of the VOS proceeds' balance to the sheriff on March 29, 2007, notwithstanding: (a) the
pendency of motions for reconsideration and dissolution of the writs filed by the heirs, and (b) the
fact that the writs were immediately implemented even if a hearing on the motions was already
scheduled for March 30, 2007, prompted the heirs' withdrawal of their motions for being already
moot and academic. The heirs argued that their case was within the exceptions to the general rule
that a petition under Rule 65 will not lie unless a motion for reconsideration is first filed before the
lower court.

In their comment on the petition, Spouses Medado questioned, among other matters, the authority of
Soledad to sign the petition's certification of non-forum shopping on behalf of her co-petitioners.

The Ruling of the CA

On September 26, 2008, the CA rendered the assailed decision,6 the dispositive portion of which
reads:

WHEREFORE, the petition being impressed with merit is GRANTED. The assailed Order dated
March 9, 2007 is NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE and the complaint in Civil Case No. 797-
C DISMISSED. Private respondents are directed to return P3,743,825.88 to Land Bank of the
Philippines to await a final ruling in Civil Case No. 00-1320.
No costs.

SO ORDERED.7

The CA ruled that the RTC gravely abused its discretion in taking cognizance of Civil Case No. 797-
C for injunction during the pendency of Civil Case No. 00-11320 for rescission and damages as this
violates the rule against forum shopping.

Spouses Medado's motion for reconsideration of the decision of September 26, 2008 was denied by
the CA via its Resolution8 dated January 21, 2009. Hence, this petition.

The Present Petition

This petition was instituted by petitioner Elsa Medado without naming her husband as co-petitioner,
due to their alleged separation de facto.9 It presents the following issues for this Court's
determination:

I. Whether or not the CA correctly admitted the petition for certiorari filed before it,
notwithstanding alleged deficiencies in its verification and certification against forum
shopping;

II. Whether or not the CA correctly admitted the petition for certiorari filed before it even if no
motion for reconsideration of the RTC’s Order dated March 9, 2007 was filed with the lower
court; and

III. Whether or not the CA correctly held that the rule against forum shopping was violated by
the filing of the complaint for injunction during the pendency of the action for rescission and
damages.

In their comment on the petition, the respondents also raise as an issue the failure of the petitioner
to join her husband as a party to the petition, considering that the action affects conjugal property.

This Court's Ruling

After due study, this Court finds the petition bereft of merit.

The requirements for verification and certification against forum shopping in the CA petition
were substantially complied with, following settled jurisprudence.

Before us, the petitioner contended that the consolidated verification and certification against forum
shopping of the petition filed with the CA was defective: first, for being signed only by Soledad,
instead of by all the petitioners, and second, its jurat cites a mere community tax certificate of
Soledad, instead of a government-issued identification card required under the 2004 Rules on
Notarial Practice. The second ground was never raised by herein petitioner in her comment on the
CA petition, thus, it cannot be validly raised by the petitioner at this stage.

As regards the first ground, records show that Soledad signed the verification and certification
against forum shopping on behalf of her co-petitioners by virtue of a Special Power of
Attorney10 (SPA) attached to the petition filed with the CA. The SPA, signed by her co-heirs Ma.
Josefa Consing Saguitguit, Ma. Carmela Consing Lopez, Ma. Lourdes Consing Gonzales and Mary
Rose Consing Tuason, provides that their attorney-in-fact Soledad is authorized:
To protect, sue, prosecute, defend and adopt whatever action necessary and proper relative and
with respect to our right, interest and participation over said properties, particularly those described
in previous titles under TCT No. T-498, TCT No. T-31275, TCT No. T-31276 and TCT No. T-31277
of the [R]egister of Deeds, Cadiz City, covering a total area of 73.6814 square meters, and declared
in the name of said Antonio Consing and located in Brgy. Magsaysay, Cadiz City, Negros
Occidental, the same parcels of land are the subject of judicial litigation before the [R]egional Trial
[Court], Branch 44, Bacolod City, docketed as Civil [C]ase No. 11320, entitled "Soledad T. Consing,
for herself and as Administratix of the estate of Antonio Consing, plaintiffs, versus, Spouses Meritus
Rey and Elsa Medado, et.al., defendants," and Regional Trial Court, Branch 60, Cadiz City and
docketed as Civil Case No. 797-C, entitled, ["]Spouse[s] Meritus Rey Medado and Elsa Medado,
plaintiffs, versus, Land Bank of the Philippines and heirs of the Late Antonio Consing as represented
by Dra. Soledad Consing, defendants"; pending in said court and which cases may at anytime be
elevated to the Court of Appeals and/or Supreme Court as the circumstances so warrant;11

As may be gleaned from the foregoing, the authority of Soledad includes the filing of an appeal
before the CA, including the execution of a verification and certification against forum shopping
therefor, being acts necessary "to protect, sue, prosecute, defend and adopt whatever action
necessary and proper" in relation to their rights over the subject properties.

In addition, the allegations and contentions embodied in the CA petition do not deviate from the
claims already made by the heirs in Civil Case Nos. 00-11320 and 797-C, both specifically
mentioned in the SPA. We emphasize that the verification requirement is simply intended to 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.12 We rule that there
was no deficiency in the petition's verification and certification against forum shopping filed with the
CA.

In any case, we reiterate that where the petitioners are immediate relatives, who share a common
interest in the property subject of the action, the fact that only one of the petitioners executed the
verification or certification of forum shopping will not deter the court from proceeding with the action.
In Heirs of Domingo Hernandez, Sr. v. Mingoa, Sr.,13 we held:

Even if only petitioner Domingo Hernandez, Jr. executed the Verification/Certification against forum-
shopping, this will not deter us from proceeding with the judicial determination of the issues in this
petition. As we ratiocinated in Heirs of Olarte v. Office of the President:

The general rule is that the certificate of non-forum shopping must be signed by all the plaintiffs in a
case and the signature of only one of them is insufficient. However, the Court has also stressed that
the rules on forum shopping were designed to promote and facilitate the orderly administration of
justice and thus should not be interpreted with such absolute literalness as to subvert its own
ultimate and legitimate objective. The rule of substantial compliance may be availed of with respect
to the contents of the certification. This is because the requirement of strict compliance with the
provisions regarding the certification of non-forum shopping merely underscores its mandatory
nature in that the certification cannot be altogether dispensed with or its requirements completely
disregarded. Thus, under justifiable circumstances, the Court has relaxed the rule requiring the
submission of such certification considering that although it is obligatory, it is not jurisdictional.

In HLC Construction and Development Corporation v. Emily Homes Subdivision Homeowners


Association, it was held that the signature of only one of the petitioners in the certification against
forum shopping substantially complied with [the] rules because all the petitioners share a common
interest and invoke a common cause of action or defense.
The same leniency was applied by the Court in Cavile v. Heirs of Cavile, because the lone petitioner
who executed the certification of non-forum shopping was a relative and co-owner of the other
petitioners with whom he shares a common interest. x x x

xxx

Here, all the petitioners are immediate relatives who share a common interest in the land sought to
be reconveyed and a common cause of action raising the same arguments in support thereof. There
was sufficient basis, therefore, for Domingo Hernandez, Jr. to speak for and in behalf of his co-
petitioners when he certified that they had not filed any action or claim in another court or tribunal
involving the same issues. Thus, the Verification/Certification that Hernandez, Jr. executed
constitutes substantial compliance under the Rules.14 (citations omitted)

Furthermore, we have consistently held that verification of a pleading is a formal, not a jurisdictional,
requirement intended to secure the assurance that the matters alleged in a pleading are true and
correct. Thus, the court may simply order the correction of unverified pleadings or act on them and
waive strict compliance with the rules. It is deemed substantially complied with when one who has
ample knowledge to swear to the truth of the allegations in the complaint or petition signs the
verification; and when matters alleged in the petition have been made in good faith or are true and
correct.15 It was based on this principle that this Court had also allowed herein petitioner, via our
Resolution16 dated April 22, 2009, a chance to submit a verification that complied with Section 4, Rule
7 of the Rules of Court, as amended, instead of us dismissing the petition outright.

There are recognized exceptions permitting resort to a special civil action of certiorari even
without first filing a motion for reconsideration.

On the second issue, the CA did not err in accepting the petition for certiorari even if the motion for
reconsideration of the RTC Order of March 9, 2007 was withdrawn by herein respondents before the
RTC could act thereon. It is settled that the requirement on the filing of a motion for reconsideration
prior to the institution of a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court admits of several
exceptions, such as when the filing of a motion appears to be useless given the circumstances
attending the action. Thus, we have repeatedly held:

The general rule is that a motion for reconsideration is a condition sine qua non before a petition
for certiorari may lie, its purpose being to grant an opportunity for the court a quo to correct any error
attributed to it by re-examination of the legal and factual circumstances of the case. There are,
however, recognized exceptions permitting a resort to the special civil action for certiorari without
first filing a motion for reconsideration. In the case of Domdom v. Sandiganbayan, it was written:

"The rule is, however, circumscribed by well-defined exceptions, such as where the order is a patent
nullity because the court a quo had no jurisdiction; where the questions raised in
the certiorari proceeding have been duly raised and passed upon by the lower court, or are the same
as those raised and passed upon in the lower court; where there is an urgent necessity for the
resolution of the question, and any further delay would prejudice the interests of the Government or
of the petitioner, or the subject matter of the action is perishable; where, under the circumstances,
a motion for reconsideration would be useless; where the petitioner was deprived of due process
and there is extreme urgency of relief; where, in a criminal case, relief from an order of arrest is
urgent and the grant of such relief by the trial court is improbable; where the proceedings in the
lower court are a nullity for lack of due process; where the proceedings were ex parte or in which the
petitioner had no opportunity to object; and where the issue raised is one purely of law or where
public interest is involved."17 (emphasis supplied, and citations and underscoring omitted)
As correctly held by the CA, a motion for reconsideration, or the resolution of the trial court thereon,
had become useless given that the particular acts which the movants sought to prevent by the filing
of the motion were already carried out. Significantly, the heirs of the late Consing had filed a motion
for reconsideration of the RTC's order, but withdrew it only after the trial court had decided to
implement the writs notwithstanding the pendency of the motion and just a day before the scheduled
hearing on said motion.

Forum-shopping exists when the elements of litis pendentia concur.

On the third issue, there is forum shopping when the elements of litis pendentia are present, i.e.,
between actions pending before courts, there exist: (1) identity of parties, or at least such parties as
represent the same interests in both actions, (2) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the
relief being founded on the same facts, and (3) the identity of the two preceding particulars is such
that any judgment rendered in the other action will, regardless of which party is successful, amount
to res judicata in the action under consideration; said requisites are also constitutive of the requisites
for auter action pendant or lis pendens.18 Applying the foregoing, there was clearly a violation of the
rule against forum shopping when Spouses Medado instituted Civil Case No. 797-C for injunction
notwithstanding the pendency of Civil Case No. 00-11320 for rescission of contract and damages.

All elements of litis pendentia are present with the filing of the two cases. There is no dispute that
1âw phi 1

there is identity of parties representing the same interests in the two actions, both involving the
estate and heirs of the late Consing on one hand, and Spouses Medado on the other. The rescission
case names "Soledad T. Consing, for herself and as administratrix of the estate of Antonio Consing"
as plaintiff, with "Spouses Meritus Rey and Elsa Medado, [PNB] and the Register of Deeds of Cadiz
City" as respondents. The injunction case, on the other hand, was instituted by Spouses Medado,
against "(LBP) and the Heirs of the Late Antonio Consing, as represented by Dra. Soledad Consing."
The primary litigants in the two action, and their interests, are the same.

The two other elements are likewise satisfied. There is an identity of rights asserted and reliefs
prayed for in the two cases, with the reliefs being founded on the same set of facts. In both cases,
the parties claim their supposed right as owners of the subject properties. They all anchor their claim
of ownership on the deeds of absolute sale which they had executed, and the law applicable thereto.
They assert their respective rights, with Spouses Medado as buyers and the heirs as sellers, based
on the same set of facts that involve the deeds of sale's contents and their validity. Both actions
necessarily involve a ruling on the validity of the same contract as against the same parties. Thus,
the identity of the two cases is such as would render the decision in the rescission case res
judicata in the injunction case, and vice versa.

It does not even matter that one action is for the enforcement of the parties' agreements, while the
other action is for the rescission thereof. In the similar case of Victronics Computers, Inc. v. RTC,
Branch 63, Makati,19 we discussed:

Civil Case No. 91-2069 actually involves an action for specific performance; it thus upholds the
contract and assumes its validity. Civil Case No. 91-2192, on the other hand, is for the nullification of
the contract on the grounds of fraud and vitiated consent. While ostensibly the cause of action in
one is opposite to that in the other, in the final analysis, what is being determined is the
validity of the contract. x x x Thus, the identity of rights asserted cannot be disputed. Howsoever
viewed, it is beyond cavil that regardless of the decision that would be promulgated in Civil Case No.
91-2069, the same would constitute res judicata on Civil Case No. 91-2192 and vice
versa.20 (emphasis supplied)

This was further explained in Casil v. CA,21 where we ruled:


The Court of Appeals held that there can be no res adjudicata because there is no identity of causes
of action between the two cases. We do not agree. In the two cases, both petitioner and private
respondent brought to fore the validity of the agreement dated May 4, 1994. Private respondent
raised this point as an affirmative defense in her answer in the First Case. She brought it up again in
her complaint in the Second Case. A single issue cannot be litigated in more than one forum. As
held in Mendiola vs. Court of Appeals:

The similarity between the two causes of action is only too glaring. The test of identity of causes of
action lies not in the form of an action but on whether the same evidence would support and
establish the former and the present causes of action. The difference of actions in the aforesaid
cases is of no moment. In Civil Case No. 58713, the action is to enjoin PNB from foreclosing
petitioner's properties, while in Civil Case No. 60012, the action is one to annul the auction sale over
the foreclosed properties of petitioner based on the same grounds. Notwithstanding a difference in
the forms of the two actions, the doctrine of res judicata still applies considering that the parties were
litigating for the same thing, i.e. lands covered by TCT No. 27307, and more importantly, the same
contentions and evidence as advanced by herein petitioner in this case were in fact used to support
the former cause of action."22

The CA was then correct in ordering the dismissal of the complaint in Civil Case No. 797-C for
violation of the rule against forum shopping. The issue on the validity of the subject deeds of
absolute sale can best be addressed in the action for rescission, as against the case for injunction
filed by Spouses Medado. In a line of cases, we have set the relevant factors that courts must
consider when they have to determine which case should be dismissed, given the pendency of two
actions, to wit:

(1) the date of filing, with preference generally given to the first action filed to be retained;

(2) whether the action sought to be dismissed was filed merely to preempt the latter action or
to anticipate its filing and lay the basis for its dismissal; and

(3) whether the action is the appropriate vehicle for litigating the issues between the parties.23

We emphasize that the rules on forum shopping are meant to prevent such eventualities as
conflicting final decisions.24 This Court has consistently held that the costly consequence of forum
shopping should remind the parties to ever be mindful against abusing court processes.25 In addition,
the principle of res judicata requires that stability be accorded to judgments. Controversies once
decided on the merits shall remain in repose for there should be an end to litigation which, without
the doctrine, would be endless.26

Given the foregoing grounds already warranting the denial of this petition, we deem it no longer
necessary to take any action or to now rule on the issue of the non-joinder of the petitioner's
husband in the petition.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED.
Accordingly, the Court of Appeal’s Decision dated September 26, 2008, which reversed and set
aside the order of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 60, Cadiz City, dated March 09, 2007, is perforce
AFFIRMED.
G.R. No. 147394 August 11, 2004

SPOUSES MANUEL and ROSEMARIE WEE, petitioners,


vs.
ROSARIO D. GALVEZ, respondent.

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

For review is the Decision1 dated December 4, 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
55415, which denied special civil action for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus filed by petitioners
Manuel and Rosemarie Wee. In said petition, the Wees sought to (1) annul and set aside the Order
dated July 29, 1999 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 80, denying their
prayer to dismiss Civil Case No. Q-99-37372, as well as the Order of September 20, 1999 denying
their motion for reconsideration; (2) order the trial court to desist from further proceedings in Civil
Case No. Q-99-37372; and (3) order the trial court to dismiss the said action. Also assailed by the
Wees is the Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals, promulgated March 7, 2001, denying their motion
for reconsideration.

The antecedent facts in this case are not complicated.

Petitioner Rosemarie Wee and respondent Rosario D. Galvez are sisters.3 Rosemarie lives with her
husband, petitioner Manuel Wee, in Balanga, Bataan, while Rosario resides in New York, U.S.A.
The present controversy stemmed from an investment agreement between the two sisters, which
had gone sour along the way.

On April 20, 1999, Rosario, represented by Grace Galvez as her attorney-in-fact, filed a complaint
before the RTC of Quezon City to collect a sum of money from Manuel and Rosemarie Wee. The
amount for collection was US$20,000 at the exchange rate of P38.30 per dollar. The complaint,
which was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-99-37372, alleged that Rosario and Rosemarie entered
into an agreement whereby Rosario would send Rosemarie US$20,000, half of said amount to be
deposited in a savings account while the balance could be invested in the money market. The
interest to be earned therefrom would be given to Rosario's son, Manolito Galvez, as his allowance.

Rosario claimed that pursuant to their agreement, she sent to Rosemarie on various dates in 1993
and 1994, five (5) Chemical Bank checks, namely:

CHECK No. DATE AMOUNT


CB No. 97 5/24/93 US$1,550.00
CB No. 101 6/11/93 10,000.00
CB No. 104 11/12/93 5,500.00
CB No. 105 2/1/94 2,000.00
CB No. 123 3/3/94 1,000.00
TOTAL US$20,050.004

Rosario further alleged that all of the aforementioned checks were deposited and encashed by
Rosemarie, except for the first check, Chemical Bank Check No. 97, which was issued to one
Zenedes Mariano, who gave the cash equivalent of US$2,000 to Rosemarie.

In accordance with her agreement with Rosario, Rosemarie gave Manolito his monthly allowance
ranging from P2,000 to P4,000 a month from 1993 to January 1999. However, sometime in 1995,
Rosario asked for the return of the US$20,000 and for an accounting. Rosemarie promised to
comply with the demand but failed to do so.

In January 1999, Rosario, through her attorney-in-fact, Grace Galvez, sent Rosemarie a written
demand for her US$20,000 and an accounting. Again, Rosemarie ignored the demand, thus causing
Rosario to file suit.

On May 18, 1999, the Wees moved to dismiss Civil Case No. Q-99-37372 on the following grounds:
(1) the lack of allegation in the complaint that earnest efforts toward a compromise had been made
in accordance with Article 1515 of the Family Code; (2) failure to state a valid cause of action, the
action being premature in the absence of previous earnest efforts toward a compromise; and (3) the
certification against forum shopping was defective, having been executed by an attorney-in-fact and
not the plaintiff, as required by Rule 7, Section 56 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

Conformably with Rule 10, Sections 17 and 38 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, Rosario amended
her complaint with the addition of the following paragraph:

9-A. Earnest efforts towards (sic) have been made but the same have failed. As a matter of
fact, plaintiff thru her daughter as Attorney-In-Fact caused the sending of a Demand Letter
dated January 4, 1999 and the last paragraph of which reads as follows:

...

Trusting this will merit your utmost preferential attention and consideration in as
much as you and our client are sisters and in order that [earnest] efforts toward a
compromise could be obtained.9

The Wees opposed Rosario's motion to have the Amended Complaint admitted. They contended
that said motion was a mere scrap of paper for being in violation of the three-day notice requirement
of Rule 15, Section 410 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and for having the notice of hearing
addressed to the Clerk of Court and not to the adverse party as required by Section 511 of the same
Rule.

On July 29, 1999, the trial court came out with an Order denying the Wees' motion to dismiss for
being "moot and academic," thus:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the amended complaint is hereby admitted.


Defendant-spouses are hereby directed to file their Answer within the reglementary period
provided by the Rules of Court.

SO ORDERED.12
The Wees duly moved for reconsideration, but the motion was denied on September 20, 1999, for
lack of merit.

On October 18, 1999, the Wee couple brought the matter to the Court of Appeals via a special civil
action for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 55415. The petition
assailed the trial court for having acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction for issuing the interlocutory orders of July 29, 1999 and September 20, 1999, instead of
dismissing Civil Case No. Q-99-37372 outright.

On December 4, 2000, the appellate court decided CA-G.R. SP No. 55415 in this wise:

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.13

The Court of Appeals held that the complaint in Civil Case No. Q-99-37372, as amended, sufficiently
stated a cause of action. It likewise held that the questioned certification against forum shopping
appended thereto was not so defective as to warrant the dismissal of the complaint.

On January 9, 2001, the petitioners herein moved for reconsideration of the appellate court's
decision, but this was denied on March 7, 2001.

Hence, the instant petition, raising the following issues:

1. WHETHER OR NOT THE INSTANT PETITION FOR REVIEW ON CERTIORARI UNDER


RULE 45 OF THE REVISED RULES OF COURT IS THE PROPER REMEDY FOR
PETITIONERS UPON THE DENIAL OF THEIR PETITION FOR CERTIORARI,
PROHIBITION AND MANDAMUS BY THE COURT OF APPEALS;

2. WHETHER OR NOT THE CERTIFICATION OF NON-FORUM SHOPPING EXECUTED


BY THE PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY-IN-FACT IS DEFECTIVE; AND

3. WHETHER OR NOT THE AMENDED COMPLAINT BEFORE THE REGIONAL TRIAL


COURT SUFFICIENTLY STATES A CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST THE DEFENDANTS. 14

We shall now resolve these issues seriatim.

On the first issue, the petitioners argue that the present appeal by certiorari filed with this Court
assailing the dismissal of their special civil action for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus by the
appellate court is meritorious. After all, according to petitioners, a petition for review under Rule 45,
Section 1,15 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure could be brought before us, regardless of whether
the assailed decision of the appellate court involves an appeal on the merits from the trial court's
judgment or the dismissal of a special civil action questioning an interlocutory order of the trial court.
What is important under Rule 45, Section 1, is that the assailed decision of the appellate court is
final and that the petition before this Court should raise only questions of law.

Respondent, in turn, point out that the dismissal by the Court of Appeals of herein petitioners' special
civil action for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus in CA-G.R. SP No. 55415 is not the final
judgment or order, which could be the subject of an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45. This is
because, according to respondent, certiorari as a mode of appeal involves the review of a judgment,
final order, or award on the merits. Respondent contends that the appellate court's ruling in CA-G.R.
SP No. 55415 did not dispose of the case on the merits, as the orders of the trial court subject of
CA-G.R. SP No. 55415 were all interlocutory. In other words, the ruling of the appellate court did not
put an end to Civil Case No. Q-99-37372, which is still pending before the trial court. Hence, a
petition for review on certiorari will not lie to assail the judgment of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 55415, according to respondent.

We find no basis for respondent's contention that the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
No. 55415, dismissing the petitioners' special civil action for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus is
interlocutory in nature. The CA's decision on said petition is final for it disposes of the original action
for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus directed against the interlocutory orders of the trial court in
Civil Case No. Q-99-37372. In other words, having dismissed the said action, there is nothing more
left to be done in CA-G.R. SP No. 55415 as far as the appellate court is concerned.

Nor can we sustain respondent's argument that the appellate court's decision in CA-G.R. SP No.
55415 is not on the merits. In special civil actions for certiorari, such as CA-G.R. SP No. 55415, the
only issue before the appellate court is whether the lower court acted without or in excess of
jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Stated
differently, in a certiorari petition the appellate court is not tasked to adjudicate the merits of the
respondent's claims before the trial court. Resolving such claims on the merits remains the proper
province of the trial court in Civil Case No. Q-99-37372. The appellate court properly ruled in CA-
G.R. SP No. 55415 that the trial court committed no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction so as to warrant the issuance of writs of certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus
that petitioners sought. In so limiting itself to and addressing squarely only the issue of grave abuse
of discretion or lack or excess of jurisdiction, the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. SP No. 55415,
precisely decided the matter on the merits. In other words, it found that the special civil action of
petitioners before it had no merit.

Now, as to whether the Court of Appeals decided the matter in CA-G.R. SP No. 55415 in a manner
contrary to law or established jurisprudence remains precisely for us to determine in this review on
certiorari. Considering the factual and procedural circumstances of this case, the present petition is
petitioners' proper remedy to challenge the appellate court's judgment in CA-G.R. SP No. 55415
now.

Anent the second issue, the petitioners aver that the Court of Appeals gravely erred in finding that
the certification against forum shopping in Civil Case No. Q-99-37372 was valid, notwithstanding that
it was not the plaintiff below, Rosario D. Galvez, who executed and signed the same, but her
attorney-in-fact, Grace Galvez. Petitioners insist that there was nothing in the special power of
attorney executed by Rosario D. Galvez in favor of Grace Galvez, which expressly conferred upon
the latter the authority to execute and sign, on behalf of the former, the certificate of non-forum
shopping. Petitioners point out that under Rule 7, Section 5 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, it is
the "plaintiff" or "principal party" who must sign the certification. They rely on our ruling in BA
Savings Bank v. Sia,16 that where the parties in an action are natural persons, the party himself is
required to sign the certification, and where a representative is allowed in case of artificial persons,
he must be specifically authorized to execute and sign the certification. The petitioners stress that
Rosario D. Galvez failed to show any justifiable reason why her attorney-in-fact should be the one to
sign the certification against forum shopping, instead of herself as the party, as required by Santos v.
Court of Appeals.17

Respondent counters that petitioners' contention has no basis. The Special Power of Attorney
executed by her in favor of Grace Galvez, if subjected to careful scrutiny would clearly show that the
authority given to the latter is not only broad but also all encompassing, according to respondent. By
virtue of said document, Grace Galvez is given the power and authority to institute both civil and
criminal actions against any person, natural or juridical, who may be obliged or answerable to the
respondent. Corollary with this power is the authority to sign all papers, documents, and pleadings
necessary for the accomplishment of the said purpose. Respondent likewise stresses that since
Grace Galvez is the one authorized to file any action in the Philippines on behalf of her principal, she
is in the best position to know whether there are other cases involving the same parties and the
same subject matter instituted with or pending before any other court or tribunal in this jurisdiction.
Moreover, as an attorney-in-fact, Grace Galvez is deemed to be a party, pursuant to Rule 3, Section
318 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Hence, petitioners' argument that Grace Galvez is not
specifically authorized to execute and sign the certification of non-forum shopping deserves scant
consideration.

We find for the respondent. Noteworthy, respondent in the instant case is already a resident of the
United States, and not of the Philippines. Hence, it was proper for her to appoint her daughter,
Grace Galvez, to act as her attorney-in-fact in the Philippines. The Special Power of Attorney
granted by the respondent to her attorney-in-fact, Grace Galvez, categorically and clearly authorizes
the latter to do the following:

1. To ask, demand and claim any sum of money that is duly [due] from any person natural,
juridical and/or corporation in the Philippines;

2. To file criminal and/or civil complaints before the courts of justice in the Philippines to
enforce my rights and interest[s];

3. To attend hearings and/or Preliminary Conference[s], to make stipulations, adjust claims,


to settle and/or enter into Compromise Agreement[s], to litigate and to terminate such
proceedings; [and]

4. To sign all papers, documents and pleadings necessary for the accomplishment of the
above purposes.19

From the foregoing, it is indisputable that Grace Galvez, as attorney-in-fact of the respondent, was
duly authorized and empowered not just to initiate complaints, whether criminal or civil, to enforce
and protect the respondent's rights, claims, and interests in this jurisdiction, but is specifically
authorized to sign all "papers, documents, and pleadings" necessarily connected with the filing of a
complaint. Pursuant to Administrative Circular No. 04-94,20 which extended the requirement of a
certification on non-forum shopping to all initiatory pleadings filed in all courts and quasi-judicial
agencies,21 as well as Rule 7, Section 5 of the 1997 Rules of Civil procedure, the aforementioned
papers and documents, which Grace Galvez was authorized and empowered to sign, must
necessarily include the certification on non-forum shopping. To conclude otherwise would render
nugatory the Special Power of Attorney and also render respondent's constitution of an attorney-in-
fact inutile.

Forum shopping "occurs when a party attempts to have his action tried in a particular court or
jurisdiction where he feels he will receive the most favorable judgment or verdict."22 In our jurisdiction,
it has taken the form of filing multiple petitions or complaints involving the same issues before two or
more tribunals or agencies in the hope that one or the other court would make a favorable
disposition.23 There is also forum shopping when, because of an adverse decision in one forum, a
party seeks a favorable opinion (other than by appeal or certiorari) in another.24 The rationale against
forum shopping is that a party should not be allowed to pursue simultaneous remedies in two
different fora. Filing multiple petitions or complaints constitutes abuse of court processes,25 which
tends to degrade the administration of justice, wreaks havoc upon orderly judicial procedure, and
adds to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets of the courts.26 Thus, the rule proscribing
forum shopping seeks to promote candor and transparency among lawyers and their clients in the
pursuit of their cases before the courts to promote the orderly administration of justice, prevent
undue inconvenience upon the other party, and save the precious time of the courts. It also aims to
prevent the embarrassing situation of two or more courts or agencies rendering conflicting
resolutions or decisions upon the same issue.27 It is in this light that we must look at the propriety and
correctness of the Certificate of Non-Forum Shopping signed by Grace Galvez on the respondent's
behalf. We have examined said Certificate28 and find that under the circumstances, it does not negate
but instead serves the purpose of the rule against forum shopping, namely to promote and facilitate
the orderly administration of justice.

Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court, requires that the certification should be signed by the
"petitioner or principal party" himself. The rationale behind this is "because only the petitioner himself
has actual knowledge of whether or not he has initiated similar actions or proceedings in different
courts or agencies."29 However, the rationale does not apply where, as in this case, it is the attorney-
in-fact who instituted the action. The Special Power of Attorney in this instance was constituted
precisely to authorize Grace Galvez to file and prosecute suits on behalf of respondent, who was no
longer resident of the Philippines but of New York, U.S.A. As respondent points out, it is Grace
Galvez, as attorney-in-fact for her, who has actual and personal knowledge whether she initiated
similar actions or proceedings before various courts on the same issue on respondent's behalf. Said
circumstance constitutes reasonable cause to allow the attorney-in-fact, and not the respondent, as
plaintiff in Civil Case No. Q-99-37372 to personally sign the Certificate of Non-Forum Shopping.
Under the circumstances of this case, we hold that there has been proper compliance with the rule
proscribing forum shopping. As we previously held concerning Administrative Circular No. 04-94:

The fact that the Circular requires that it be strictly complied with merely underscores its
mandatory nature in that it cannot be dispensed with or its requirements altogether
disregarded, but it does not thereby interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under
justifiable circumstances.30

Administrative Circular No. 04-94 is now incorporated in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as Rule
7, Section 5. It is basic that the Rules "shall be liberally construed in order to promote their objective
of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding."31 Otherwise
put, the rule requiring a certification of forum shopping to accompany every initiatory pleading,
"should not be interpreted with such absolute literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate
objective or the goal of all rules of procedure – which is to achieve substantial justice as
expeditiously as possible."32

On the third issue, petitioners submit that the amended complaint in Civil Case No. Q-99-37372
violates Rule 8, Section 133 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as there is no plain and direct
statement of the ultimate facts on which the plaintiff relies for her claim. Specifically, petitioners
contend that the allegation in paragraph 9-A34 of the amended complaint that "Earnest efforts towards
have been made but the same have failed" is clearly insufficient. The sentence is incomplete, thus
requires the reader of the pleading to engage in deductions or inferences in order to get a complete
sense of the cause of action, according to petitioners.

Respondent rebuts petitioners' contention by stating that the amended complaint as well as the
annexes attached to the pleadings should be taken in their entirety in determining whether a cause
of action was validly stated in the complaint. Thus taken together, in their entirety, the amended
complaint and the attachments to the original complaint, clearly show that a sufficient cause of action
as it is shown and stated that earnest efforts towards a compromise have been made, according to
respondent.
Under Article 151 of the Family Code, a suit between members of the same family shall not be
entertained, unless it is alleged in the complaint or petition that the disputants have made earnest
efforts to resolve their differences through compromise, but these efforts have not succeeded. The
attempt to compromise as well as its failure or inability to succeed is a condition precedent to the
filing of a suit between members of the same family.35 Rule 8, Section 336 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure provides that conditions precedent may be generally averred in the pleadings. Applying
the foregoing to the instant case, we have to ask: Is there a sufficient general averment of the
condition precedent required by the Family Code in the Amended Complaint in Civil Case No. Q-99-
37372?

We find in the affirmative. Our examination of paragraph 9-A of the Amended Complaint shows that
respondent has complied with this requirement of a general averment. It is true that the lead
sentence of paragraph 9-A, which reads "Earnest efforts towards have been made but the same
have failed" may be incomplete or even grammatically incorrect as there might be a missing word or
phrase, but to our mind, a lacking word like "compromise" could be supplied by the rest of the
paragraph. A paragraph is "a distinct section or subdivision of a written or printed composition that
consists of from one to many sentences, forms a rhetorical unit (as by dealing with a particular point
of the subject or by comprising the words of a distinct speaker)."37 As a "short composition consisting
of a group of sentences dealing with a single topic,"38 a paragraph must necessarily be construed in
its entirety in order to properly derive the message sought to be conveyed. In the instant case,
paragraph 9-A of the Amended Complaint deals with the topic of efforts made by the respondent to
reach a compromise between the parties. Hence, it is in this light that the defective lead sentence
must be understood or construed. Contrary to what petitioners claim, there is no need for guesswork
or complicated deductions in order to derive the point sought to be made by respondent in
paragraph 9-A of the Amended Complaint, that earnest efforts to compromise the differences
between the disputants were made but to no avail. The petitioners' stance that the defective
sentence in paragraph 9-A of the Amended Complaint fails to state a cause of action, thus, has no
leg to stand on. Having examined the Amended Complaint in its entirety as well as the documents
attached thereto, following the rule that documents attached to a pleading are considered both as
evidence and as part of the pleading,39 we find that the respondent has properly set out her cause of
action in Civil Case No. Q-99-37372.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision dated December 4,
2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 55415, as well as its Resolution dated March 7,
2001, are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

SO ORDERED.

BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

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

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's Attestation, I
certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

Footnotes

1
Penned by Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, with Associate Justices Francisco P.
Acosta and Edgardo L. Delos Santos, concurring; rollo, pp. 31-43.

2
Id. at 134-141.

3
Id. at 55.