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G.R. No.

133179               March 27, 2008 manager’s check representing the proceeds of the placement, and to
give the check to one Deborah Dee Santos who would pick up the
ALLIED BANKING CORPORATION, Petitioner,  check.5 Lim Sio Wan described the appearance of Santos so that So
vs. could easily identify her.6
LIM SIO WAN, METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST CO., and
PRODUCERS BANK, Respondents. Later, Santos arrived at the bank and signed the application form for
a manager’s check to be issued.7 The bank issued Manager’s Check
DECISION No. 035669 for PhP 1,158,648.49, representing the proceeds of Lim
Sio Wan’s money market placement in the name of Lim Sio Wan, as
payee.8 The check was cross-checked "For Payee’s Account Only"
VELASCO, JR., J.:
and given to Santos.9
To ingratiate themselves to their valued depositors, some banks at
Thereafter, the manager’s check was deposited in the account of
times bend over backwards that they unwittingly expose themselves
Filipinas Cement Corporation (FCC) at respondent Metropolitan
to great risks.
Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank),10 with the forged signature of Lim
Sio Wan as indorser.11
The Case
Earlier, on September 21, 1983, FCC had deposited a money market
This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 seeks to reverse placement for PhP 2 million with respondent Producers Bank. Santos
the Court of Appeals’ (CA’s) Decision promulgated on March 18, was the money market trader assigned to handle FCC’s
19981 in CA-G.R. CV No. 46290 entitled Lim Sio Wan v. Allied account.12 Such deposit is evidenced by Official Receipt No.
Banking Corporation, et al. The CA Decision modified the Decision 31756813 and a Letter dated September 21, 1983 of Santos
dated November 15, 19932 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch addressed to Angie Lazo of FCC, acknowledging receipt of the
63 in Makati City rendered in Civil Case No. 6757. placement.14 The placement matured on October 25, 1983 and was
rolled-over until December 5, 1983 as evidenced by a Letter dated
The Facts October 25, 1983.15 When the placement matured, FCC demanded
the payment of the proceeds of the placement.16 On December 5,
The facts as found by the RTC and affirmed by the CA are as 1983, the same date that So received the phone call instructing her
follows: to pre-terminate Lim Sio Wan’s placement, the manager’s check in
the name of Lim Sio Wan was deposited in the account of FCC,
On November 14, 1983, respondent Lim Sio Wan deposited with purportedly representing the proceeds of FCC’s money market
petitioner Allied Banking Corporation (Allied) at its Quintin Paredes placement with Producers Bank.17 In other words, the Allied check
Branch in Manila a money market placement of PhP 1,152,597.35 for was deposited with Metrobank in the account of FCC as Producers
a term of 31 days to mature on December 15, 1983,3 as evidenced Bank’s payment of its obligation to FCC.
by Provisional Receipt No. 1356 dated November 14, 1983.4
To clear the check and in compliance with the requirements of the
On December 5, 1983, a person claiming to be Lim Sio Wan called Philippine Clearing House Corporation (PCHC) Rules and
up Cristina So, an officer of Allied, and instructed the latter to pre- Regulations, Metrobank stamped a guaranty on the check, which
terminate Lim Sio Wan’s money market placement, to issue a
reads: "All prior endorsements and/or lack of endorsement Summonses were duly served upon all the parties except for Santos,
guaranteed."18 who was no longer connected with Producers Bank.30

The check was sent to Allied through the PCHC. Upon the On May 15, 1984, or more than six (6) months after funding the
presentment of the check, Allied funded the check even without check, Allied informed Metrobank that the signature on the check
checking the authenticity of Lim Sio Wan’s purported indorsement. was forged.31 Thus, Metrobank withheld the amount represented by
Thus, the amount on the face of the check was credited to the the check from FCC. Later on, Metrobank agreed to release the
account of FCC.19 amount to FCC after the latter executed an Undertaking, promising to
indemnify Metrobank in case it was made to reimburse the amount.32
On December 9, 1983, Lim Sio Wan deposited with Allied a second
money market placement to mature on January 9, 1984.20 Lim Sio Wan thereafter filed an amended complaint to include
Metrobank as a party-defendant, along with Allied.33The RTC
On December 14, 1983, upon the maturity date of the first money admitted the amended complaint despite the opposition of
market placement, Lim Sio Wan went to Allied to withdraw it.21 She Metrobank.34 Consequently, Allied’s third party complaint against
was then informed that the placement had been pre-terminated upon Metrobank was converted into a cross-claim and the latter’s fourth
her instructions. She denied giving any instructions and receiving the party complaint against FCC was converted into a third party
proceeds thereof. She desisted from further complaints when she complaint.35
was assured by the bank’s manager that her money would be
recovered.22 After trial, the RTC issued its Decision, holding as follows:

When Lim Sio Wan’s second placement matured on January 9, WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1984, So called Lim Sio Wan to ask for the latter’s instructions on the
second placement. Lim Sio Wan instructed So to roll-over the 1. Ordering defendant Allied Banking Corporation to pay
placement for another 30 days.23On January 24, 1984, Lim Sio Wan, plaintiff the amount of P1,158,648.49 plus 12% interest per
realizing that the promise that her money would be recovered would annum from March 16, 1984 until fully paid;
not materialize, sent a demand letter to Allied asking for the payment
of the first placement.24 Allied refused to pay Lim Sio Wan, claiming 2. Ordering defendant Allied Bank to pay plaintiff the amount
that the latter had authorized the pre-termination of the placement of P100,000.00 by way of moral damages;
and its subsequent release to Santos.25
3. Ordering defendant Allied Bank to pay plaintiff the amount
Consequently, Lim Sio Wan filed with the RTC a Complaint dated of P173,792.20 by way of attorney’s fees; and,
February 13, 198426 docketed as Civil Case No. 6757 against Allied
to recover the proceeds of her first money market placement.
Sometime in February 1984, she withdrew her second placement 4. Ordering defendant Allied Bank to pay the costs of suit.
from Allied.
Defendant Allied Bank’s cross-claim against defendant Metrobank is
27
Allied filed a third party complaint  against Metrobank and Santos. In DISMISSED.
turn, Metrobank filed a fourth party complaint28 against FCC. FCC for
its part filed a fifth party complaint29 against Producers Bank.
Likewise defendant Metrobank’s third-party complaint as against The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in absolving Producers Bank
Filipinas Cement Corporation is DISMISSED. of any liability for the reimbursement of amount adjudged
demandable.
Filipinas Cement Corporation’s fourth-party complaint against
Producer’s Bank is also DISMISSED. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in holding [Allied] liable to the
extent of 60% of amount adjudged demandable in clear disregard to
SO ORDERED.36 the ultimate liability of Metrobank as guarantor of all endorsement on
the check, it being the collecting bank.38
The Decision of the Court of Appeals
The petition is partly meritorious.
Allied appealed to the CA, which in turn issued the assailed Decision
on March 18, 1998, modifying the RTC Decision, as follows: A Question of Fact

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision appealed from is Allied questions the finding of both the trial and appellate courts that
MODIFIED. Judgment is rendered ordering and sentencing Allied was not authorized to release the proceeds of Lim Sio Wan’s
defendant-appellant Allied Banking Corporation to pay sixty (60%) money market placement to Santos. Allied clearly raises a question
percent and defendant-appellee Metropolitan Bank and Trust of fact. When the CA affirms the findings of fact of the RTC, the
Company forty (40%) of the amount of P1,158,648.49 plus 12% factual findings of both courts are binding on this Court.39
interest per annum from March 16, 1984 until fully paid. The moral
damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit adjudged shall likewise be We also agree with the CA when it said that it could not disturb the
paid by defendant-appellant Allied Banking Corporation and trial court’s findings on the credibility of witness So inasmuch as it
defendant-appellee Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company in the was the trial court that heard the witness and had the opportunity to
same proportion of 60-40. Except as thus modified, the decision observe closely her deportment and manner of testifying. Unless the
appealed from is AFFIRMED. trial court had plainly overlooked facts of substance or value, which,
if considered, might affect the result of the case,40 we find it best to
SO ORDERED.37 defer to the trial court on matters pertaining to credibility of
witnesses.
Hence, Allied filed the instant petition.
Additionally, this Court has held that the matter of negligence is also
a factual question.41 Thus, the finding of the RTC, affirmed by the
The Issues
CA, that the respective parties were negligent in the exercise of their
obligations is also conclusive upon this Court.
Allied raises the following issues for our consideration:
The Liability of the Parties
The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in holding that Lim Sio Wan
did not authorize [Allied] to pre-terminate the initial placement and to
As to the liability of the parties, we find that Allied is liable to Lim Sio
deliver the check to Deborah Santos.
Wan. Fundamental and familiar is the doctrine that the relationship
between a bank and a client is one of debtor-creditor.
Articles 1953 and 1980 of the Civil Code provide: (1) By payment or performance;

Art. 1953. A person who receives a loan of money or any other (2) By the loss of the thing due;
fungible thing acquires the ownership thereof, and is bound to pay to
the creditor an equal amount of the same kind and quality. (3) By the condonation or remission of the debt;

Art. 1980. Fixed, savings, and current deposits of money in banks (4) By the confusion or merger of the rights of creditor and
and similar institutions shall be governed by the provisions debtor;
concerning simple loan.
(5) By compensation;
Thus, we have ruled in a line of cases that a bank deposit is in the
nature of a simple loan or mutuum.42 More succinctly, in Citibank, (6) By novation.
N.A. (Formerly First National City Bank) v. Sabeniano, this Court
ruled that a money market placement is a simple loan or
mutuum.43 Further, we defined a money market in Cebu International Other causes of extinguishment of obligations, such as annulment,
Finance Corporation v. Court of Appeals, as follows: rescission, fulfillment of a resolutory condition, and prescription, are
governed elsewhere in this Code. (Emphasis supplied.)
[A] money market is a market dealing in standardized short-term
credit instruments (involving large amounts) where lenders and From the factual findings of the trial and appellate courts that Lim Sio
borrowers do not deal directly with each other but through a middle Wan did not authorize the release of her money market placement to
man or dealer in open market. In a money market transaction, the Santos and the bank had been negligent in so doing, there is no
investor is a lender who loans his money to a borrower through a question that the obligation of Allied to pay Lim Sio Wan had not
middleman or dealer. been extinguished. Art. 1240 of the Code states that "payment shall
be made to the person in whose favor the obligation has been
constituted, or his successor in interest, or any person authorized to
In the case at bar, the money market transaction between the receive it." As commented by Arturo Tolentino:
petitioner and the private respondent is in the nature of a loan.44
Payment made by the debtor to a wrong party does not extinguish
Lim Sio Wan, as creditor of the bank for her money market the obligation as to the creditor, if there is no fault or negligence
placement, is entitled to payment upon her request, or upon maturity which can be imputed to the latter. Even when the debtor acted in
of the placement, or until the bank is released from its obligation as utmost good faith and by mistake as to the person of his creditor, or
debtor. Until any such event, the obligation of Allied to Lim Sio Wan through error induced by the fraud of a third person, the payment to
remains unextinguished. one who is not in fact his creditor, or authorized to receive such
payment, is void, except as provided in Article 1241. Such payment
Art. 1231 of the Civil Code enumerates the instances when does not prejudice the creditor, and accrual of interest is not
obligations are considered extinguished, thus: suspended by it.45 (Emphasis supplied.)

Art. 1231. Obligations are extinguished:


Since there was no effective payment of Lim Sio Wan’s money Section 66. Liability of general indorser.—Every indorser who
market placement, the bank still has an obligation to pay her at six indorses without qualification, warrants to all subsequent holders in
percent (6%) interest from March 16, 1984 until the payment thereof. due course;

We cannot, however, say outright that Allied is solely liable to Lim a) The matters and things mentioned in subdivisions (a), (b)
Sio Wan. and (c) of the next preceding section; and

Allied claims that Metrobank is the proximate cause of the loss of Lim b) That the instrument is at the time of his indorsement valid
Sio Wan’s money. It points out that Metrobank guaranteed all prior and subsisting;
indorsements inscribed on the manager’s check, and without
Metrobank’s guarantee, the present controversy would never have And in addition, he engages that on due presentment, it shall be
occurred. According to Allied: accepted or paid, or both, as the case may be according to its tenor,
and that if it be dishonored, and the necessary proceedings on
Failure on the part of the collecting bank to ensure that the proceeds dishonor be duly taken, he will pay the amount thereof to the holder,
of the check is paid to the proper party is, aside from being an or to any subsequent indorser who may be compelled to pay it.
efficient intervening cause, also the last negligent act, x x x
contributory to the injury caused in the present case, which thereby Section 65. Warranty where negotiation by delivery, so forth.—Every
leads to the conclusion that it is the collecting bank, Metrobank that person negotiating an instrument by delivery or by a qualified
is the proximate cause of the alleged loss of the plaintiff in the instant indorsement, warrants:
case.46
a) That the instrument is genuine and in all respects what it
We are not persuaded. purports to be;

Proximate cause is "that cause, which, in natural and continuous b) That he has a good title of it;
sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the
injury and without which the result would not have occurred."47 Thus, c) That all prior parties had capacity to contract;
there is an efficient supervening event if the event breaks the
sequence leading from the cause to the ultimate result. To determine
the proximate cause of a controversy, the question that needs to be d) That he has no knowledge of any fact which would impair
asked is: If the event did not happen, would the injury have resulted? the validity of the instrument or render it valueless.
If the answer is NO, then the event is the proximate cause.
But when the negotiation is by delivery only, the warranty extends in
In the instant case, Allied avers that even if it had not issued the favor of no holder other than the immediate transferee.
check payment, the money represented by the check would still be
lost because of Metrobank’s negligence in indorsing the check The provisions of subdivision (c) of this section do not apply to
without verifying the genuineness of the indorsement thereon. persons negotiating public or corporation securities, other than bills
and notes. (Emphasis supplied.)
Section 66 in relation to Sec. 65 of the Negotiable Instruments Law
provides:
The warranty "that the instrument is genuine and in all respects what resulted in the fraud and the subsequent loss. While it is true that
it purports to be" covers all the defects in the instrument affecting the petitioner BPI’s negligence may have been the proximate cause of
validity thereof, including a forged indorsement. Thus, the last the loss, respondent CBC’s negligence contributed  equally to the
indorser will be liable for the amount indicated in the negotiable success of the impostor in encashing the proceeds of the forged
instrument even if a previous indorsement was forged. We held in a checks. Under these circumstances, we apply Article 2179 of the
line of cases that "a collecting bank which indorses a check bearing Civil Code to the effect that while respondent CBC may recover its
a forged indorsement and presents it to the drawee bank guarantees losses, such losses are subject to mitigation by the courts.
all prior indorsements, including the forged indorsement itself, and (See Phoenix Construction Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Courts, 148
ultimately should be held liable therefor."48 SCRA 353 [1987]).

However, this general rule is subject to exceptions. One such Considering the comparative negligence of the two (2) banks, we
exception is when the issuance of the check itself was attended with rule that the demands of substantial justice are satisfied by allocating
negligence. Thus, in the cases cited above where the collecting bank the loss of P2,413,215.16 and the costs of the arbitration proceeding
is generally held liable, in two of the cases where the checks were in the amount of P7,250.00 and the cost of litigation on a 60-40
negligently issued, this Court held the institution issuing the check ratio.52
just as liable as or more liable than the collecting bank.
Similarly, we ruled in Associated Bank v. Court of Appeals that the
In isolated cases where the checks were deposited in an account issuing institution and the collecting bank should equally share the
other than that of the payees on the strength of forged indorsements, liability for the loss of amount represented by the checks concerned
we held the collecting bank solely liable for the whole amount of the due to the negligence of both parties:
checks involved for having indorsed the same. In Republic Bank v.
Ebrada,49 the check was properly issued by the Bureau of Treasury. The Court finds as reasonable, the proportionate sharing of fifty
While in Banco de Oro Savings and Mortgage Bank (Banco de Oro) percent-fifty percent (50%-50%). Due to the negligence of the
v. Equitable Banking Corporation,50 Banco de Oro admittedly issued Province of Tarlac in releasing the checks to an unauthorized person
the checks in the name of the correct payees. And in Traders Royal (Fausto Pangilinan), in allowing the retired hospital cashier to receive
Bank v. Radio Philippines Network, Inc.,51 the checks were issued at the checks for the payee hospital for a period close to three years
the request of Radio Philippines Network, Inc. from Traders Royal and in not properly ascertaining why the retired hospital cashier was
Bank.1avvphi1 collecting checks for the payee hospital in addition to the hospital’s
real cashier, respondent Province contributed to the loss amounting
However, in Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Court of Appeals, we to P203,300.00 and shall be liable to the PNB for fifty (50%) percent
said that the drawee bank is liable for 60% of the amount on the face thereof. In effect, the Province of Tarlac can only recover fifty percent
of the negotiable instrument and the collecting bank is liable for 40%. (50%) of P203,300.00 from PNB.
We also noted the relative negligence exhibited by two banks, to wit:
The collecting bank, Associated Bank, shall be liable to PNB for fifty
Both banks were negligent in the selection and supervision of their (50%) percent of P203,300.00. It is liable on its warranties as
employees resulting in the encashment of the forged checks by an indorser of the checks which were deposited by Fausto Pangilinan,
impostor. Both banks were not able to overcome the presumption of having guaranteed the genuineness of all prior indorsements,
negligence in the selection and supervision of their employees. It including that of the chief of the payee hospital, Dr. Adena Canlas.
was the gross negligence of the employees of both banks which
Associated Bank was also remiss in its duty to ascertain the As to Producers Bank, Allied Bank’s argument that Producers Bank
genuineness of the payee’s indorsement.53 must be held liable as employer of Santos under Art. 2180 of the
Civil Code is erroneous. Art. 2180 pertains to the vicarious liability of
A reading of the facts of the two immediately preceding cases would an employer for quasi-delicts that an employee has committed. Such
reveal that the reason why the bank or institution which issued the provision of law does not apply to civil liability arising from delict.
check was held partially liable for the amount of the check was
because of the negligence of these parties which resulted in the One also cannot apply the principle of subsidiary liability in Art. 103
issuance of the checks. of the Revised Penal Code in the instant case. Such liability on the
part of the employer for the civil aspect of the criminal act of the
In the instant case, the trial court correctly found Allied negligent in employee is based on the conviction of the employee for a crime.
issuing the manager’s check and in transmitting it to Santos without Here, there has been no conviction for any crime.
even a written authorization.54 In fact, Allied did not even ask for the
certificate evidencing the money market placement or call up Lim Sio As to the claim that there was unjust enrichment on the part of
Wan at her residence or office to confirm her instructions. Both Producers Bank, the same is correct. Allied correctly claims in its
actions could have prevented the whole fraudulent transaction from petition that Producers Bank should reimburse Allied for whatever
unfolding. Allied’s negligence must be considered as the proximate judgment that may be rendered against it pursuant to Art. 22 of the
cause of the resulting loss. Civil Code, which provides: "Every person who through an act of
performance by another, or any other means, acquires or comes into
To reiterate, had Allied exercised the diligence due from a financial possession of something at the expense of the latter without just
institution, the check would not have been issued and no loss of cause or legal ground, shall return the same to him."1avvphi1
funds would have resulted. In fact, there would have been no
issuance of indorsement had there been no check in the first place. The above provision of law was clarified in Reyes v. Lim, where we
ruled that "[t]here is unjust enrichment when a person unjustly retains
The liability of Allied, however, is concurrent with that of Metrobank a benefit to the loss of another, or when a person retains money or
as the last indorser of the check. When Metrobank indorsed the property of another against the fundamental principles of justice,
check in compliance with the PCHC Rules and Regulations55 without equity and good conscience."58
verifying the authenticity of Lim Sio Wan’s indorsement and when it
accepted the check despite the fact that it was cross-checked In Tamio v. Ticson, we further clarified the principle of unjust
payable to payee’s account only,56 its negligent and cavalier enrichment, thus: "Under Article 22 of the Civil Code, there is unjust
indorsement contributed to the easier release of Lim Sio Wan’s enrichment when (1) a person is unjustly benefited, and (2) such
money and perpetuation of the fraud. Given the relative participation benefit is derived at the expense of or with damages to another."59
of Allied and Metrobank to the instant case, both banks cannot be
adjudged as equally liable. Hence, the 60:40 ratio of the liabilities of In the instant case, Lim Sio Wan’s money market placement in Allied
Allied and Metrobank, as ruled by the CA, must be upheld. Bank was pre-terminated and withdrawn without her consent.
Moreover, the proceeds of the placement were deposited in
FCC, having no participation in the negotiation of the check and in Producers Bank’s account in Metrobank without any justification. In
the forgery of Lim Sio Wan’s indorsement, can raise the real defense other words, there is no reason that the proceeds of Lim Sio Wans’
of forgery as against both banks.57 placement should be deposited in FCC’s account purportedly as
payment for FCC’s money market placement and interest in
Producers Bank.lavvphil With such payment, Producers Bank’s percent and defendant-appellee Metropolitan Bank and Trust
indebtedness to FCC was extinguished, thereby benefitting the Company forty (40%) of the amount of P1,158,648.49 plus 12%
former. Clearly, Producers Bank was unjustly enriched at the interest per annum from March 16, 1984 until fully paid. The moral
expense of Lim Sio Wan. Based on the facts and circumstances of damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit adjudged shall likewise be
the case, Producers Bank should reimburse Allied and Metrobank for paid by defendant-appellant Allied Banking Corporation and
the amounts the two latter banks are ordered to pay Lim Sio Wan. defendant-appellee Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company in the
same proportion of 60-40. Except as thus modified, the decision
It cannot be validly claimed that FCC, and not Producers Bank, appealed from is AFFIRMED.
should be considered as having been unjustly enriched. It must be
remembered that FCC’s money market placement with Producers SO ORDERED.
Bank was already due and demandable; thus, Producers Bank’s
payment thereof was justified. FCC was entitled to such payment. As Additionally and by way of MODIFICATION, Producers Bank is
earlier stated, the fact that the indorsement on the check was forged hereby ordered to pay Allied and Metrobank the aforementioned
cannot be raised against FCC which was not a part in any stage of amounts. The liabilities of the parties are concurrent and
the negotiation of the check. FCC was not unjustly enriched. independent of each other.

From the facts of the instant case, we see that Santos could be the SO ORDERED.
architect of the entire controversy. Unfortunately, since summons
had not been served on Santos, the courts have not acquired G.R. No. 183984               April 13, 2011
jurisdiction over her.60 We, therefore, cannot ascribe to her liability in
the instant case.
ARTURO SARTE FLORES, Petitioner, 
vs.
Clearly, Producers Bank must be held liable to Allied and Metrobank SPOUSES ENRICO L. LINDO, JR. and EDNA C.
for the amount of the check plus 12% interest per annum, moral LINDO, Respondents.
damages, attorney’s fees, and costs of suit which Allied and
Metrobank are adjudged to pay Lim Sio Wan based on a proportion
of 60:40. DECISION

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The March 18, CARPIO, J.:


1998 CA Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 46290 and the November 15,
1993 RTC Decision in Civil Case No. 6757 are AFFIRMED with The Case
MODIFICATION.
Before the Court is a petition for review1 assailing the 30 May 2008
Thus, the CA Decision is AFFIRMED, the fallo of which is Decision2 and the 4 August 2008 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals
reproduced, as follows: in CA-G.R. SP No. 94003.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision appealed from is The Antecedent Facts
MODIFIED. Judgment is rendered ordering and sentencing
defendant-appellant Allied Banking Corporation to pay sixty (60%)
The facts, as gleaned from the Court of Appeals’ Decision, are as On 8 September 2004, petitioner filed a Complaint for Sum of Money
follows: with Damages against respondents. It was raffled to Branch 42
(RTC, Branch 42) of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, and
On 31 October 1995, Edna Lindo (Edna) obtained a loan from Arturo docketed as Civil Case No. 04-110858.
Flores (petitioner) amounting to ₱400,000 payable on 1 December
1995 with 3% compounded monthly interest and 3% surcharge in Respondents filed their Answer with Affirmative Defenses and
case of late payment. To secure the loan, Edna executed a Deed of Counterclaims where they admitted the loan but stated that it only
Real Estate Mortgage4 (the Deed) covering a property in the name of amounted to ₱340,000. Respondents further alleged that Enrico was
Edna and her husband Enrico (Enrico) Lindo, Jr. (collectively, not a party to the loan because it was contracted by Edna without
respondents). Edna also signed a Promissory Note5and the Deed for Enrico’s signature. Respondents prayed for the dismissal of the case
herself and for Enrico as his attorney-in-fact. on the grounds of improper venue, res judicata and forum-shopping,
invoking the Decision of the RTC, Branch 33. On 7 March 2005,
Edna issued three checks as partial payments for the loan. All respondents also filed a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds of res
checks were dishonored for insufficiency of funds, prompting judicata and lack of cause of action.
petitioner to file a Complaint for Foreclosure of Mortgage with
Damages against respondents. The case was raffled to the Regional The Decision of the Trial Court
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 33 (RTC, Branch 33) and docketed as
Civil Case No. 00-97942. On 22 July 2005, the RTC, Branch 42 issued an Order8 denying the
motion to dismiss. The RTC, Branch 42 ruled that res judicata will not
In its 30 September 2003 Decision,6 the RTC, Branch 33 ruled that apply to rights, claims or demands which, although growing out of the
petitioner was not entitled to judicial foreclosure of the mortgage. The same subject matter, constitute separate or distinct causes of action
RTC, Branch 33 found that the Deed was executed by Edna without and were not put in issue in the former action. Respondents filed a
the consent and authority of Enrico. The RTC, Branch 33 noted that motion for reconsideration. In its Order9 dated 8 February 2006, the
the Deed was executed on 31 October 1995 while the Special Power RTC, Branch 42 denied respondents’ motion. The RTC, Branch 42
of Attorney (SPA) executed by Enrico was only dated 4 November ruled that the RTC, Branch 33 expressly stated that its decision did
1995. not mean that petitioner could no longer recover the loan petitioner
extended to Edna.
The RTC, Branch 33 further ruled that petitioner was not precluded
from recovering the loan from Edna as he could file a personal action Respondents filed a Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus with
against her. However, the RTC, Branch 33 ruled that it had no Prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary
jurisdiction over the personal action which should be filed in the place Restraining Order before the Court of Appeals.
where the plaintiff or the defendant resides in accordance with
Section 2, Rule 4 of the Revised Rules on Civil Procedure. The Decision of the Court of Appeals

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its Order7 dated 8 In its 30 May 2008 Decision, the Court of Appeals set aside the 22
January 2004, the RTC, Branch 33 denied the motion for lack of July 2005 and 8 February 2006 Orders of the RTC, Branch 42 for
merit. having been issued with grave abuse of discretion.
The Court of Appeals ruled that while the general rule is that a The rule is that a mortgage-creditor has a single cause of action
motion to dismiss is interlocutory and not appealable, the rule admits against a mortgagor-debtor, that is, to recover the debt.10 The
of exceptions. The Court of Appeals ruled that the RTC, Branch 42 mortgage-creditor has the option of either filing a personal action for
acted with grave abuse of discretion in denying respondents’ motion collection of sum of money or instituting a real action to foreclose on
to dismiss. the mortgage security.11 An election of the first bars recourse to the
second, otherwise there would be multiplicity of suits in which the
The Court of Appeals ruled that under Section 3, Rule 2 of the 1997 debtor would be tossed from one venue to another depending on the
Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may not institute more than one suit location of the mortgaged properties and the residence of the
for a single cause of action. If two or more suits are instituted on the parties.12
basis of the same cause of action, the filing of one on a judgment
upon the merits in any one is available ground for the dismissal of The two remedies are alternative and each remedy is complete by
the others. The Court of Appeals ruled that on a nonpayment of a itself.13 If the mortgagee opts to foreclose the real estate mortgage,
note secured by a mortgage, the creditor has a single cause of action he waives the action for the collection of the debt, and vice
against the debtor, that is recovery of the credit with execution of the versa.14 The Court explained:
suit. Thus, the creditor may institute two alternative remedies: either
a personal action for the collection of debt or a real action to x x x in the absence of express statutory provisions, a mortgage
foreclose the mortgage, but not both. The Court of Appeals ruled that creditor may institute against the mortgage debtor either a personal
petitioner had only one cause of action against Edna for her failure to action for debt or a real action to foreclose the mortgage. In other
pay her obligation and he could not split the single cause of action by words, he may pursue either of the two remedies, but not both. By
filing separately a foreclosure proceeding and a collection case. By such election, his cause of action can by no means be impaired, for
filing a petition for foreclosure of the real estate mortgage, the Court each of the two remedies is complete in itself. Thus, an election to
of Appeals held that petitioner had already waived his personal bring a personal action will leave open to him all the properties of the
action to recover the amount covered by the promissory note. debtor for attachment and execution, even including the mortgaged
property itself. And, if he waives such personal action and pursues
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 4 August 2008 his remedy against the mortgaged property, an unsatisfied judgment
Resolution, the Court of Appeals denied the motion. thereon would still give him the right to sue for deficiency judgment,
in which case, all the properties of the defendant, other than the
Hence, the petition before this Court. mortgaged property, are again open to him for the satisfaction of the
deficiency. In either case, his remedy is complete, his cause of action
undiminished, and any advantages attendant to the pursuit of one or
The Issue
the other remedy are purely accidental and are all under his right of
election. On the other hand, a rule that would authorize the plaintiff to
The sole issue in this case is whether the Court of Appeals bring a personal action against the debtor and simultaneously or
committed a reversible error in dismissing the complaint for collection successively another action against the mortgaged property, would
of sum of money on the ground of multiplicity of suits. result not only in multiplicity of suits so offensive to justice (Soriano
v. Enriques, 24 Phil. 584) and obnoxious to law and equity (Osorio v.
The Ruling of this Court San Agustin, 25 Phil. 404), but also in subjecting the defendant to the
vexation of being sued in the place of his residence or of the
The petition has merit. residence of the plaintiff, and then again in the place where the
property lies.15
The Court has ruled that if a creditor is allowed to file his separate RTC, Branch 33 held that petitioner could still recover the amount
complaints simultaneously or successively, one to recover his credit due from Edna through a personal action over which it had no
and another to foreclose his mortgage, he will, in effect, be jurisdiction.
authorized plural redress for a single breach of contract at so much
costs to the court and with so much vexation and oppressiveness to Edna also filed an action for declaratory relief before the RTC,
the debtor.16 Branch 93 of San Pedro Laguna (RTC, Branch 93), which ruled:

In this case, however, there are circumstances that the Court takes At issue in this case is the validity of the promissory note and the
into consideration. Real Estate Mortgage executed by Edna Lindo without the consent
of her husband.
Petitioner filed an action for foreclosure of mortgage. The RTC,
Branch 33 ruled that petitioner was not entitled to judicial foreclosure The real estate mortgage executed by petition Edna Lindo over their
because the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage was executed without conjugal property is undoubtedly an act of strict dominion and must
Enrico’s consent. The RTC, Branch 33 stated: be consented to by her husband to be effective. In the instant case,
the real estate mortgage, absent the authority or consent of the
All these circumstances certainly conspired against the plaintiff who husband, is necessarily void. Indeed, the real estate mortgage is this
has the burden of proving his cause of action. On the other hand, case was executed on October 31, 1995 and the subsequent special
said circumstances tend to support the claim of defendant Edna power of attorney dated November 4, 1995 cannot be made to
Lindo that her husband did not consent to the mortgage of their retroact to October 31, 1995 to validate the mortgage previously
conjugal property and that the loan application was her personal made by petitioner.
decision.
The liability of Edna Lindo on the principal contract of the loan
Accordingly, since the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage was executed however subsists notwithstanding the illegality of the mortgage.
by defendant Edna Lindo lacks the consent or authority of her Indeed, where a mortgage is not valid, the principal obligation which
husband Enrico Lindo, the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage is void it guarantees is not thereby rendered null and void. That obligation
pursuant to Article 96 of the Family Code. matures and becomes demandable in accordance with the
stipulation pertaining to it. Under the foregoing circumstances, what
This does not mean, however, that the plaintiff cannot recover the is lost is merely the right to foreclose the mortgage as a special
₱400,000 loan plus interest which he extended to defendant Edna remedy for satisfying or settling the indebtedness which is the
Lindo. He can institute a personal action against the defendant for principal obligation. In case of nullity, the mortgage deed remains as
the amount due which should be filed in the place where the plaintiff evidence or proof of a personal obligation of the debtor and the
resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal defendants amount due to the creditor may be enforced in an ordinary action.
resides at the election of the plaintiff in accordance with Section 2,
Rule 4 of the Revised Rules on Civil Procedure. This Court has no In view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the
jurisdiction to try such personal action.17 deed of real estate mortgage as void in the absence of the authority
or consent of petitioner’s spouse therein. The liability of petitioner on
Edna did not deny before the RTC, Branch 33 that she obtained the the principal contract of loan however subsists notwithstanding the
loan. She claimed, however, that her husband did not give his illegality of the real estate mortgage.19
consent and that he was not aware of the transaction.18 Hence, the
The RTC, Branch 93 also ruled that Edna’s liability is not affected by other spouse x x x before the offer is withdrawn by either or both
the illegality of the real estate mortgage. offerors."

Both the RTC, Branch 33 and the RTC, Branch 93 misapplied the In this case, the Promissory Note and the Deed of Real Estate
rules. Mortgage were executed on 31 October 1995. The Special Power of
Attorney was executed on 4 November 1995. The execution of the
Article 124 of the Family Code provides: SPA is the acceptance by the other spouse that perfected the
continuing offer as a binding contract between the parties,
making the Deed of Real Estate Mortgage a valid contract.
Art. 124. The administration and enjoyment of the conjugal
partnership property shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of
disagreement, the husband’s decision shall prevail, subject to However, as the Court of Appeals noted, petitioner allowed the
recourse to the court by the wife for proper remedy, which must be decisions of the RTC, Branch 33 and the RTC, Branch 93 to become
availed of within five years from the date of contract implementing final and executory without asking the courts for an alternative relief.
such decision. The Court of Appeals stated that petitioner merely relied on the
declarations of these courts that he could file a separate personal
action and thus failed to observe the rules and settled jurisprudence
In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to
on multiplicity of suits, closing petitioner’s avenue for recovery of the
participate in the administration of the conjugal properties, the other
loan.
spouse may assume sole powers of administration. These powers do
not include disposition or encumbrance without authority of the court
or the written consent of the other spouse. In the absence of such Nevertheless, petitioner still has a remedy under the law.
authority or consent the disposition or encumbrance shall be
void. However, the transaction shall be construed as a In Chieng v. Santos,20 this Court ruled that a mortgage-creditor may
continuing offer on the part of the consenting spouse and the institute against the mortgage-debtor either a personal action for debt
third person, and may be perfected as a binding contract upon or a real action to foreclose the mortgage. The Court ruled that the
the acceptance by the other spouse or authorization by the remedies are alternative and not cumulative and held that the filing of
court before the offer is withdrawn by either or both a criminal action for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg.  22 was in
offerors. (Emphasis supplied) effect a collection suit or a suit for the recovery of the mortgage-
debt.21 In that case, however, this Court pro hac vice, ruled that
Article 124 of the Family Code of which applies to conjugal respondents could still be held liable for the balance of the loan,
partnership property, is a reproduction of Article 96 of the Family applying the principle that no person may unjustly enrich himself at
Code which applies to community property. the expense of another.22

Both Article 96 and Article 127 of the Family Code provide that the The principle of unjust enrichment is provided under Article 22 of the
powers do not include disposition or encumbrance without the written Civil Code which provides:
consent of the other spouse. Any disposition or encumbrance without
the written consent shall be void. However, both provisions also state Art. 22. Every person who through an act of performance by another,
that "the transaction shall be construed as a continuing offer on the or any other means, acquires or comes into possession of something
part of the consenting spouse and the third person, and may be at the expense of the latter without just or legal ground, shall return
perfected as a binding contract upon the acceptance by the the same to him.
There is unjust enrichment "when a person unjustly retains a benefit G.R. No. 179736               June 26, 2013
to the loss of another, or when a person retains money or property of
another against the fundamental principles of justice, equity and SPOUSES BILL AND VICTORIA HING, Petitioners, 
good conscience."23 The principle of unjust enrichment requires two vs.
conditions: (1) that a person is benefited without a valid basis or ALEXANDER CHOACHUY, SR. and ALLAN
justification, and (2) that such benefit is derived at the expense of CHOACHUY, Respondents.
another.241avvphi1
DECISION
The main objective of the principle against unjust enrichment is to
prevent one from enriching himself at the expense of another without DEL CASTILLO, J.:
just cause or consideration.25 The principle is applicable in this case
considering that Edna admitted obtaining a loan from petitioners, and
the same has not been fully paid without just cause. The Deed was "The concept of liberty would be emasculated if it does not likewise
declared void erroneously at the instance of Edna, first when she compel respect for one's personality as a unique individual whose
raised it as a defense before the RTC, Branch 33 and second, when claim to privacy and non-interference demands respect."1
she filed an action for declaratory relief before the RTC, Branch 93.
Petitioner could not be expected to ask the RTC, Branch 33 for an This Petition for Review on Certiorari2 under Rule 45 of the Rules of
alternative remedy, as what the Court of Appeals ruled that he Court assails the July 10, 2007 Decision3 and the September 11,
should have done, because the RTC, Branch 33 already stated that it 2007 Resolution4 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CEB-SP
had no jurisdiction over any personal action that petitioner might No. 01473.
have against Edna.
Factual Antecedents
Considering the circumstances of this case, the principle against
unjust enrichment, being a substantive law, should prevail over the On August 23, 2005, petitioner-spouses Bill and Victoria Hing filed
procedural rule on multiplicity of suits. The Court of Appeals, in the with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaue City a Complaint5 for
assailed decision, found that Edna admitted the loan, except that she Injunction and Damages with prayer for issuance of a Writ of
claimed it only amounted to ₱340,000. Edna should not be allowed Preliminary Mandatory Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order
to unjustly enrich herself because of the erroneous decisions of the (TRO), docketed as Civil Case MAN-5223 and raffled to Branch 28,
two trial courts when she questioned the validity of the Deed. against respondents Alexander Choachuy, Sr. and Allan Choachuy.
Moreover, Edna still has an opportunity to submit her defenses
before the RTC, Branch 42 on her claim as to the amount of her Petitioners alleged that they are the registered owners of a parcel of
indebtedness. land (Lot 1900-B) covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No.
42817 situated in Barangay Basak, City of Mandaue, Cebu;6 that
WHEREFORE, the 30 May 2008 Decision and the 4 August 2008 respondents are the owners of Aldo Development & Resources, Inc.
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 94003 (Aldo) located at Lots 1901 and 1900-C, adjacent to the property of
are SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 42 is petitioners;7 that respondents constructed an auto-repair shop
directed to proceed with the trial of Civil Case No. 04-110858. building (Aldo Goodyear Servitec) on Lot 1900-C; that in April 2005,
Aldo filed a case against petitioners for Injunction and Damages with
SO ORDERED. Writ of Preliminary Injunction/TRO, docketed as Civil Case No. MAN-
5125;8 that in that case, Aldo claimed that petitioners were IT IS SO ORDERED.20
constructing a fence without a valid permit and that the said
construction would destroy the wall of its building, which is adjacent Respondents moved for a reconsideration21 but the RTC denied the
to petitioners’ property;9 that the court, in that case, denied Aldo’s same in its Order22 dated February 6, 2006.23Thus:
application for preliminary injunction for failure to substantiate its
allegations;10 that, in order to get evidence to support the said case, WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED for
respondents on June 13, 2005 illegally set-up and installed on the lack of merit. Issue a Writ of Preliminary Injunction in consonance
building of Aldo Goodyear Servitec two video surveillance cameras with the Order dated 18 October 2005.
facing petitioners’ property;11 that respondents, through their
employees and without the consent of petitioners, also took pictures
of petitioners’ on-going construction;12 and that the acts of IT IS SO ORDERED.24
respondents violate petitioners’ right to privacy.13 Thus, petitioners
prayed that respondents be ordered to remove the video surveillance Aggrieved, respondents filed with the CA a Petition for
cameras and enjoined from conducting illegal surveillance.14 Certiorari25 under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with application for a
TRO and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction.
In their Answer with Counterclaim,15 respondents claimed that they
did not install the video surveillance cameras,16nor did they order Ruling of the Court of Appeals
their employees to take pictures of petitioners’ construction.17 They
also clarified that they are not the owners of Aldo but are mere On July 10, 2007, the CA issued its Decision26 granting the Petition
stockholders.18 for Certiorari. The CA ruled that the Writ of Preliminary Injunction
was issued with grave abuse of discretion because petitioners failed
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court to show a clear and unmistakable right to an injunctive writ.27 The CA
explained that the right to privacy of residence under Article 26(1) of
On October 18, 2005, the RTC issued an Order19 granting the the Civil Code was not violated since the property subject of the
application for a TRO. The dispositive portion of the said Order controversy is not used as a residence.28 The CA alsosaid that since
reads: respondents are not the owners of the building, they could not have
installed video surveillance cameras.29 They are mere stockholders
of Aldo, which has a separate juridical personality.30 Thus, they are
WHEREFORE, the application for a Temporary Restraining Order or not the proper parties.31 The fallo reads:
a Writ of Preliminary Injunction is granted. Upon the filing and
approval of a bond by petitioners, which the Court sets at
₱50,000.00, let a Writ of Preliminary Injunction issue against the WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is
respondents Alexander Choachuy, Sr. and Allan Choachuy. They are hereby rendered by us GRANTING the petition filed in this case. The
hereby directed to immediately remove the revolving camera that assailed orders dated October 18, 2005 and February 6, 2006 issued
they installed at the left side of their building overlooking the side of by the respondent judge are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.
petitioners’ lot and to transfer and operate it elsewhere at the back
where petitioners’ property can no longer be viewed within a distance SO ORDERED.32
of about 2-3 meters from the left corner of Aldo Servitec, facing the
road. Issues
Hence, this recourse by petitioners arguing that: Essentially, the issues boil down to (1) whether there is a violation of
petitioners’ right to privacy, and (2) whether respondents are the
I. proper parties to this suit.

THE X X X CA COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT Petitioners’ Arguments


ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE THE ORDERS OF THE RTC DATED
18 OCTOBER 2005 AND 6 FEBRUARY 2006 HOLDING THAT Petitioners insist that they are entitled to the issuance of a Writ of
THEY WERE ISSUED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. Preliminary Injunction because respondents’ installation of a
stationary camera directly facing petitioners’ property and a revolving
II. camera covering a significant portion of the same property
constitutes a violation of petitioners’ right to privacy.34 Petitioners cite
Article 26(1) of the Civil Code, which enjoins persons from prying into
THE X X X CA COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT
the private lives of others.35 Although the said provision pertains to
RULED THAT PETITIONER SPOUSES HING ARE NOT ENTITLED
the privacy of another’s residence, petitioners opine that it includes
TO THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION ON THE GROUND
business offices, citing Professor Arturo M. Tolentino.36 Thus, even
THAT THERE IS NO VIOLATION OF THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL
assuming arguendo that petitioners’ property is used for business, it
AND CIVIL RIGHT TO PRIVACY DESPITE THE FACTUAL
is still covered by the said provision.37
FINDINGS OF THE RTC, WHICH RESPONDENTS CHOACHUY
FAILED TO REFUTE, THAT THE ILLEGALLY INSTALLED
SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS OF RESPONDENTS CHOACH[U]Y As to whether respondents are the proper parties to implead in this
WOULD CAPTURE THE PRIVATE ACTIVITIES OF PETITIONER case, petitioners claim that respondents and Aldo are one and the
SPOUSES HING, THEIR CHILDREN AND EMPLOYEES. same, and that respondents only want to hide behind Aldo’s
corporate fiction.38 They point out that if respondents are not the real
owners of the building, where the video surveillance cameras were
III.
installed, then they had no business consenting to the ocular
inspection conducted by the court.39
THE X X X CA COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT
RULED THAT SINCE THE OWNER OF THE BUILDING IS ALDO
Respondents’ Arguments
DEVELOPMENT AND RESOURCES, INC. THEN TO SUE
RESPONDENTS CHOACHUY CONSTITUTES A PURPORTEDLY
UNWARRANTED PIERCING OF THE CORPORATE VEIL. Respondents, on the other hand, echo the ruling of the CA that
petitioners cannot invoke their right to privacy since the property
involved is not used as a residence.40 Respondents maintain that
IV.
they had nothing to do with the installation of the video surveillance
cameras as these were installed by Aldo, the registered owner of the
THE X X X CA COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT building,41as additional security for its building.42 Hence, they were
IGNORED THE SERIOUS FORMAL DEFICIENCIES OF BOTH THE wrongfully impleaded in this case.43
PETITION AND THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION DATED
15 MARCH 2006 OF RESPONDENTS CHOACHUY AND GAVE X X
Our Ruling
X THEM DUE COURSE AND CONSIDERATION.33

The Petition is meritorious.


The right to privacy is the right to be let alone. (1) Prying into the privacy of another’s residence;

The right to privacy is enshrined in our Constitution44 and in our laws. xxxx


It is defined as "the right to be free from unwarranted exploitation of
one’s person or from intrusion into one’s private activities in such a This provision recognizes that a man’s house is his castle, where his
way as to cause humiliation to a person’s ordinary sensibilities."45 It is right to privacy cannot be denied or even restricted by others. It
the right of an individual "to be free from unwarranted publicity, or to includes "any act of intrusion into, peeping or peering inquisitively
live without unwarranted interference by the public in matters in into the residence of another without the consent of the latter."49 The
which the public is not necessarily concerned."46 Simply put, the right phrase "prying into the privacy of another’s residence," however,
to privacy is "the right to be let alone."47 does not mean that only the residence is entitled to privacy. As
elucidated by Civil law expert Arturo M. Tolentino:
The Bill of Rights guarantees the people’s right to privacy and
protects them against the State’s abuse of power. In this regard, the Our Code specifically mentions "prying into the privacy of another’s
State recognizes the right of the people to be secure in their houses. residence." This does not mean, however, that only the residence is
No one, not even the State, except "in case of overriding social need entitled to privacy, because the law covers also "similar acts." A
and then only under the stringent procedural safeguards," can business office is entitled to the same privacy when the public is
disturb them in the privacy of their homes.48 excluded therefrom and only such individuals as are allowed to enter
may come in. x x x50 (Emphasis supplied)
The right to privacy under Article 26(1)
Thus, an individual’s right to privacy under Article 26(1) of the Civil
of the Civil Code covers business offices Code should not be confined to his house or residence as it may
extend to places where he has the right to exclude the public or deny
where the public are excluded them access. The phrase "prying into the privacy of another’s
residence," therefore, covers places, locations, or even situations
which an individual considers as private. And as long as his right is
therefrom and only certain individuals
recognized by society, other individuals may not infringe on his right
to privacy. The CA, therefore, erred in limiting the application of
are allowed to enter. Article 26(1) of the Civil Code only to residences.

Article 26(1) of the Civil Code, on the other hand, protects an The "reasonable expectation of
individual’s right to privacy and provides a legal remedy against privacy" test is used to determine
abuses that may be committed against him by other individuals. It whether there is a violation of the right
states: to privacy.

Art. 26. Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy In ascertaining whether there is a violation of the right to privacy,
and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following courts use the "reasonable expectation of privacy" test. This test
and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, determines whether a person has a reasonable expectation of
shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other privacy and whether the expectation has been violated.51 In Ople v.
relief: Torres,52 we enunciated that "the reasonableness of a person’s
expectation of privacy depends on a two-part test: (1) whether, by his petitioners’ lot. To allow the respondents to do that over the objection
conduct, the individual has exhibited an expectation of privacy; and of the petitioners would violate the right of petitioners as property
(2) this expectation is one that society recognizes as reasonable." owners. "The owner of a thing cannot make use thereof in such a
Customs, community norms, and practices may, therefore, limit or manner as to injure the rights of a third person."55
extend an individual’s "reasonable expectation of privacy."53 Hence,
the reasonableness of a person’s expectation of privacy must be The RTC, thus, considered that petitioners have a "reasonable
determined on a case-to-case basis since it depends on the factual expectation of privacy" in their property, whether they use it as a
circumstances surrounding the case.54 business office or as a residence and that the installation of video
surveillance cameras directly facing petitioners’ property or covering
In this day and age, video surveillance cameras are installed a significant portion thereof, without their consent, is a clear violation
practically everywhere for the protection and safety of everyone. The of their right to privacy. As we see then, the issuance of a preliminary
installation of these cameras, however, should not cover places injunction was justified. We need not belabor that the issuance of a
where there is reasonable expectation of privacy, unless the consent preliminary injunction is discretionary on the part of the court taking
of the individual, whose right to privacy would be affected, was cognizance of the case and should not be interfered with, unless
obtained. Nor should these cameras be used to pry into the privacy there is grave abuse of discretion committed by the court.56 Here,
of another’s residence or business office as it would be no different there is no indication of any grave abuse of discretion. Hence, the
from eavesdropping, which is a crime under Republic Act No. 4200 CA erred in finding that petitioners are not entitled to an injunctive
or the Anti-Wiretapping Law. writ.

In this case, the RTC, in granting the application for Preliminary This brings us to the next question: whether respondents are the
Injunction, ruled that: proper parties to this suit.

After careful consideration, there is basis to grant the application for A real party defendant is one who has a
a temporary restraining order. The operation by respondents of a correlative legal obligation to redress a
revolving camera, even if it were mounted on their building, violated wrong done to the plaintiff by reason of
the right of privacy of petitioners, who are the owners of the adjacent the defendant's act or omission which
lot. The camera does not only focus on respondents’ property or the had violated the legal right of the
roof of the factory at the back (Aldo Development and Resources, former.
Inc.) but it actually spans through a good portion of the land of
petitioners. Section 2, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court provides:

Based on the ocular inspection, the Court understands why petitioner SEC. 2. Parties-in-interest. — A real party-in-interest is the party who
Hing was so unyielding in asserting that the revolving camera was stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the
set up deliberately to monitor the on[-]going construction in his party entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by
property. The monitor showed only a portion of the roof of the factory law or these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in
of Aldo. If the purpose of respondents in setting up a camera at the the name of the real party-in-interest.
back is to secure the building and factory premises, then the camera
should revolve only towards their properties at the back.
Respondents’ camera cannot be made to extend the view to
A real party defendant is "one who has a correlative legal obligation and transferred.65 Noticeably, in these instances, the personalities of
to redress a wrong done to the plaintiff by reason of the defendant’s respondents and Aldo seem to merge.
act or omission which had violated the legal right of the former."57
All these taken together lead us to the inevitable conclusion that
In ruling that respondents are not the proper parties, the CA respondents are merely using the corporate fiction of Aldo as a
reasoned that since they do not own the building, they could not shield to protect themselves from this suit. In view of the foregoing,
have installed the video surveillance cameras.58 Such reasoning, we find that respondents are the proper parties to this suit.
however, is erroneous. The fact that respondents are not the
registered owners of the building does not automatically mean that WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision
they did not cause the installation of the video surveillance cameras. dated July 10, 2007 and the Resolution dated September 11, 2007 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB-SP No. 01473 are hereby
In their Complaint, petitioners claimed that respondents installed the REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Orders dated October 18,2005
video surveillance cameras in order to fish for evidence, which could and February 6, 200[6] of Branch 28 of the Regional Trial Court of
be used against petitioners in another case.59 During the hearing of Mandaue City in Civil Case No. MAN-5223 are hereby REINSTATED
the application for Preliminary Injunction, petitioner Bill testified that and AFFIRMED.
when respondents installed the video surveillance cameras, he
immediately broached his concerns but they did not seem to SO ORDERED.
care,60 and thus, he reported the matter to the barangay for
mediation, and eventually, filed a Complaint against respondents G.R. Nos. 175277 & 175285               September 11, 2013
before the RTC.61 He also admitted that as early as 1998 there has
already been a dispute between his family and the Choachuy family
concerning the boundaries of their respective properties.62 With these UNICAPITAL, INC., UNICAPITAL REALTY, INC., and JAIME J.
factual circumstances in mind, we believe that respondents are the MARTINEZ, Petitioners, 
proper parties to be impleaded. vs.
RAFAEL JOSE CONSING, JR., and THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF
THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG CITY, BRANCH
Moreover, although Aldo has a juridical personality separate and 168, Respondents.
distinct from its stockholders, records show that it is a family-owned
corporation managed by the Choachuy family.63
x-----------------------x
Also quite telling is the fact that respondents, notwithstanding their
claim that they are not owners of the building, allowed the court to G.R. No. 192073
enter the compound of Aldo and conduct an ocular inspection. The
counsel for respondents even toured Judge Marilyn Lagura-Yap RAFAEL JOSE CONSING, JR., Petitioner, 
inside the building and answered all her questions regarding the set- vs.
up and installation of the video surveillance cameras.64 And when HON. MARISSA MACARAIG-GUILLEN, in her capacity as the
respondents moved for reconsideration of the Order dated October Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City,
18, 2005 of the RTC, one of the arguments they raised is that Aldo Branch 60 and UNICAPITAL, INC., Respondents.
would suffer damages if the video surveillance cameras are removed
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: development arm, URI. In view of the foregoing, the loan and
mortgage over the subject property was later on modified into an
Before the Court are consolidated petitions for review on Option to Buy Real Property14 and, after further negotiations, Dela
certiorari1 assailing separate issuances of the Court of Appeals (CA) Cruz decided to sell the same to Unicapital and PBI. For this
as follows: purpose, Dela Cruz appointed Consing, Jr. as her attorney-in-fact.15

(a) The petitions in G.R. Nos. 175277 and 175285 filed by Eventually, Unicapital, through URI, purchased one-half of the
Unicapital, Inc., (Unicapital), Unicapital Realty, Inc. (URI), subject property for a consideration of ₱21,221,500.00 (against
and Unicapital Director and Treasurer Jaime J. Martirez which Dela Cruz’s outstanding loan obligations were first offset),
(Martirez)assail the CA’s Joint Decision2 dated October 20, while PBI bought the remaining half for the price of
2005 and Resolution3 dated October 25, 2006 in CA-G.R. SP ₱21,047,000.00.16 In this relation, Dela Cruz caused TCT No. T-
Nos. 64019and 64451 which affirmed the Resolution4 dated 687599 to be divided into three separate titles as follows: (a) TCT
September 14,1999 and Order5 dated February 15, 2001 of No. T-851861 for URI;17 (b) TCT No. T-851862 for PBI;18 and (c)TCT
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City, Branch 68 No. T-51863 which was designated as a road lot.19 However, even
(RTC-Pasig City) in SCA No. 1759, upholding the denial of before URI and PBI were able to have the titles transferred to their
their motion to dismiss; and names, Juanito Tan Teng (Teng) and Po Willie Yu (Yu) informed
Unicapital that they are the lawful owners of the subject property as
evidenced by TCT No.T-114708;20 that they did not sell the subject
(b) The petition in G.R. No. 192073 filed by Rafael Jose
property; and that Dela Cruz’s title, i.e., TCT No. T-687599, thereto
Consing, Jr. (Consing, Jr.) assails the CA’s Decision6dated
was a mere forgery.21 Prompted by Teng and Yu’s assertions, PBI
September 30, 2009 and Resolution7 dated April 28, 2010
conducted further investigations on the subject property which later
inCA-G.R. SP No. 101355 which affirmed the Orders dated
revealed that Dela Cruz's title was actually of dubious origin. Based
July16, 20078 and September 4, 20079 of the RTC of Makati
on this finding, PBI and Unicapital sent separate demand letters22 to
City, Branch 60 (RTC-Makati City) in Civil Case No. 99-
Dela Cruz and Consing, Jr., seeking the return of the purchase price
1418,upholding the denial of his motion for consolidation.
they had paid for the subject property.
The Facts
From the above-stated incidents stemmed the present controversies
as detailed hereunder.
In 1997, Consing, Jr., an investment banker, and his mother, Cecilia
Dela Cruz (Dela Cruz), obtained an ₱18,000,000.00 loan from
The Proceedings Antecedent to G.R. Nos. 175277 & 175285
Unicapital,₱12,000,000.00 of which was acquired on July 24, 1997
and the remaining₱6,000,000.00 on August 1, 1997. The said loan
was secured by Promissory Notes10 and a Real Estate On May 3, 1999, Consing, Jr. filed a complaint, denominated as a
Mortgage11 over a 42,443 square meter-parcel of land located at Complex Action for Declaratory Relief23 and later amended to
Imus, Cavite, registered in the name of Dela Cruz as per Transfer Complex Action for Injunctive Relief24 (Consing, Jr.’s complaint)
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-687599 (subject property).12 Prior to before the RTC-Pasig City against Unicapital, URI, PBI, Martirez, PBI
these transactions, Plus Builders, Inc. (PBI), a real estate company, General Manager Mariano Martinez (Martinez), Dela Cruz and Does
was already interested to develop the subject property into a 1-20, docketed as SCA No. 1759. In his complaint, Consing, Jr.
residential subdivision.13 In this regard, PBI entered into a joint claimed that the incessant demands/recovery efforts made upon him
venture agreement with Unicapital, through its real estate by Unicapital and PBI to return to them the purchase price they had
paid for the subject property constituted harassment and oppression identified. Moreover, Unicapital, et al. posited that the RTC-PasigCity
which severely affected his personal and professional life.25 He also did not acquire jurisdiction over the case given that Consing, Jr.
averred that he was coerced to commit a violation of Batas failed to pay the proper amount of docket fees. In the same vein,
Pambansa Blg. 2226 as Unicapital and PBI, over threats of filing they maintained that the RTC-Pasig City had no jurisdiction over their
acase against him, kept on forcing him to issue a post-dated check in supposed violations of the Corporation Code and Revised Securities
the amount sought to be recovered, notwithstanding their knowledge Act, which, discounting its merits, should have been supposedly
that he had no funds for the same.27 He further alleged that lodged with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Finally, they
Unicapital and URI required him to sign blank deeds of sale and pointed out that Consing, Jr.’s complaint suffers from a defective
transfers without cancelling the old one sin violation of the laws on verification and, thus, dismissible.34
land registration and real estate development.28 Likewise, Consing,
Jr. added that Unicapital and PBI’s representatives were" speaking Similar to Unicapital et al.’s course of action, PBI and its General
of him in a manner that was inappropriate and libelous,"29 and that Manager, Martinez (Unicapital and PBI, et al.), sought the dismissal
some John Does "deliberately engaged in a fraudulent scheme to of Consing, Jr.’s complaint on the ground that it does not state a
compromise Consing, Jr.’s honor, integrity and fortune x x x cause of action. They also denied having singled out Consing, Jr.
consisting of falsifying or causing to be falsified, or attempting to because their collection efforts were directed at both Consing, Jr.
present as falsified certain transfers of Land Titles and Deeds for and Dela Cruz, which should be deemed as valid and, therefore,
profit,"30 classifying the foregoing as ultra vires acts which should should not be restrained.35
warrant sanctions under the corporation law, Revised Securities Act
and related laws.31 Accordingly, Consing, Jr. prayed that: (a) he be On September 14, 1999, the RTC-Pasig City issued a
declared as a mere agent of Dela Cruz, and as such, devoid of any Resolution36 denying the above mentioned motions to dismiss,
obligation to Unicapital, URI, and PBI for the transactions entered holding that Consing, Jr.’s complaint sufficiently stated a cause of
into concerning the subject property; (b) Unicapital, URI, and PBI be action for tort and damages pursuant to Article 19 of the Civil Code. It
enjoined from harassing or coercing him, and from speaking about ruled that where there is abusive behavior, a complainant, like
him in a derogatory fashion; and (c) Unicapital, URI, and PBI pay him Consing, Jr., has the right to seek refuge from the courts. It also
actual and consequential damages in the amount of ₱2,000,000.00, noted that the elements of libel in a criminal case are not the same
moral damages of at least ₱1,000,000.00, exemplary damages of as those for a civil action founded on the provisions of the Civil Code,
₱1,000,000.00, all per month, reckoned from May 1, 1999 and until and therefore, necessitates a different treatment. It equally refused to
the controversy is resolved, and attorney's fees and costs of suit.32 dismiss the action on the ground of non-payment of docket fees,
despite Consing, Jr.’s escalated claims for damages therein, as
For their part, Unicapital, URI, and Martirez (Unicapital, et al.) filed jurisdiction was already vested in it upon the filing of the original
separate Motions to Dismiss33 Consing, Jr.’s complaint (Unicapital, et complaint. Moreover, it resolved to apply the liberal construction rule
al.’s motion to dismiss) on the ground of failure to state a cause of as regards the subject complaint’s verification and certification,
action, considering that: (a) no document was attached against which despite its improper wording, considering further that such defect
Consing, Jr. supposedly derived his right and against which his rights was not raised at the first opportunity. Consequently, it ordered
may be as certained; (b) the demands to pay against Consing, Jr. Unicapital and PBI, et al. to file their Answer and, in addition, to
and for him to tender post-dated checks to cover the amount due submit" any Comment or Reaction within five (5) days from receipt
were well within the rights of Unicapital as an unpaid creditor, as hereof on the allegations of Consing, Jr. in his rejoinder of
Consing, Jr. had already admitted his dealings with them; (c) the September 9, 1999regarding the supposed filing of an identical case
utterances purportedly constituting libel were not set out in the in Makati City,"37 i.e., Civil Case No. 99-1418. Unperturbed,
complaint; and (d) the laws supposedly violated were not properly Unicapital and PBI, et al. moved for reconsideration therefrom which
was, however, denied by the RTC-Pasig City in an Order38 dated Dissatisfied, only Unicapital, et al. sought reconsideration therefrom
February 15, 2001 for lack of merit. Aggrieved, they elevated the but the same was denied by the CA in a Resolution46 dated October
denial of their motions to dismiss before the CA via a petition for 25,2006. Hence, the present petitions for review on certiorari in G.R.
certiorari and prohibition,39 docketed as CA-G.R. SP Nos. 64019 and Nos.175277 and 175285.
64451.
The Proceedings Antecedent to G.R. No. 192073
On October 20, 2005, the CA rendered a Joint Decision40 holding
that no grave abuse of discretion was committed by the RTC-Pasig On the other hand, on August 4, 1999, Unicapital filed a
City in refusing to dismiss Consing, Jr.'s complaint.1âwphi1 At the complaint47 for sum of money with damages against Consing, Jr. and
outset, it ruled that while the payment of the prescribed docket fee is Dela Cruz before the RTC-Makati City, docketed as Civil Case No.
a jurisdictional requirement, its non-payment will not automatically 99-1418, seeking to recover (a) the amount of ₱42,195,397.16,
cause the dismissal of the case. In this regard, it considered that representing the value of their indebtedness based on the
should there be any deficiency in the payment of such fees, the Promissory Notes (subject promissory notes) plus interests; (b)
same shall constitute a lien on the judgment award.41 It also refused ₱5,000,000.00 as exemplary damages; (c) attorney's fees; and (d)
to dismiss the complaint for lack of proper verification upon a finding costs of suit.48
that the copy of the amended complaint submitted to the RTC-Pasig
City was properly notarized.42 Moreover, it upheld the order of the PBI also filed a complaint for damages and attachment against
RTC-Pasig City for Unicapital and PBI, et al. to submit their comment Consing, Jr. and Dela Cruz before the RTC of Manila, Branch 12,
due to the alleged existence of a similar case filed before the RTC- docketed as Civil Case No. 99-95381, also predicated on the same
Makati City.43 set of facts as above narrated.49 In its complaint, PBI prayed that it
be allowed to recover the following: (a) ₱13,369,641.79, representing
Anent the substantive issues of the case, the CA concurred with the the total amount of installment payments made as actual damages
RTC-Pasig City that Consing Jr.'s complaint states a cause of action. plus interests; (b) ₱200,000.00 as exemplary damages; (c)
It found that Unicapital and PBI, et al.’s purportedly abusive manner ₱200,000.00 as moral damages; (d) attorney's fees; and (e) costs of
in enforcing their claims against Consing, Jr. was properly suit.50 Civil Case No. 99-95381 was subsequently consolidated with
constitutive of a cause of action as the same, if sufficiently proven, SCA No. 1759 pending before the RTC-Pasig City.51
would have subjected him to "defamation of his name in business
circles, the threats and coercion against him to reimburse the For his part, Consing, Jr. filed a Motion to Dismiss Civil Case No. 99-
purchase price, fraud and falsification and breach of fiduciary 1418 which was, however, denied by the RTC-Makati City in an
obligation." It also found that the fact that Consing Jr.'s complaint Order52 dated November 16, 1999. Thereafter, he filed a Motion for
contains "nebulous" allegations will not warrant its dismissal as any Consolidation53 (motion for consolidation) of Civil Case No. 99-1418
vagueness therein can be clarified through a motion for a bill of with his own initiated SCA No. 1759 pending before the RTC-Pasig
particulars."44 Furthermore, it noted that Consing, Jr. does not seek City.
to recover his claims against any particular provision of the
corporation code or the securities act but against the actions of
Unicapital and PBI, et al.; hence, Consing, Jr.’s complaint was In an Order54 dated July 16, 2007, the RTC-Makati City dismissed
principally one for damages over which the RTC has jurisdiction, Consing, Jr.’s motion for consolidation and, in so doing, ruled that the
and, in turn, there lies no misjoinder of causes of action.45 cases sought to be consolidated had no identity of rights or causes of
action and the reliefs sought for by Consing, Jr. from the RTC-Pasig
City will not bar Unicapital from pursuing its money claims against
him. Moreover, the RTC-Makati City noted that Consing, Jr. filed his due course to the instant petitions and required the parties to submit
motion only as an after thought as it was made after the mediation their respective memoranda.60
proceedings between him and Unicapital failed. Consing, Jr.'s motion
for reconsideration therefrom was denied in an Order55 dated The Issues Before the Court
September 4, 2007. Hence, he filed a petition for certiorari before the
CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 101355, ascribing grave abuse of The essential issues in these cases are as follows: (a) in G.R.
discretion on the part of the RTC-Makati City in refusing to Nos.175277 and 175285, whether or not the CA erred in upholding
consolidate Civil Case No. 99-1418 with SCA No. 1759 in Pasig City. the RTC-Pasig City’s denial of Unicapital, et al.’s motion to dismiss;
and (b) in G.R. No. 192073, whether or not the CA erred in upholding
On September 30, 2009, the CA rendered a Decision56 sustaining the the RTC-Makati City’s denial of Consing, Jr.’s motion for
Orders dated July 16, 2007 and September 4, 2007 of the RTC- consolidation.
Makati City which denied Consing, Jr.’s motion for consolidation. It
held that consolidation is a matter of sound discretion on the part of The Court’s Ruling
the trial court which could be gleaned from the use of the word "may"
in Section 1, Rule38 of the Rules of Court. Considering that
preliminary steps (such as mediation) have already been undertaken A. Propriety of the denial of
by the parties in Civil Case No.99-1418 pending before the RTC- Unicapital, et al.’s motion to
Makati City, its consolidation with SCA No. 1759 pending before the dismiss and ancillary issues.
RTC-Pasig City "would merely result in complications in the work of
the latter court or squander the resources or remedies already A cause of action is defined as the act or omission by which a party
utilized in the Makati case."57 Moreover, it noted that the records of violates a right of another.61 It is well-settled that the existence of a
the consolidated Pasig and Manila cases, i.e., SCA No. 1759 and cause of action is determined by the allegations in the complaint.62 In
Civil Case No. 99-95381, respectively, had already been elevated to this relation, a complaint is said to sufficiently assert a cause of
the Court, that joint proceedings have been conducted in those action if, admitting what appears solely on its face to be correct, the
cases and that the pre-trial therein had been terminated as early as plaintiff would be entitled to the relief prayed for.63 Thus, if the
October 23, 2007.Therefore, due to these reasons, the consolidation allegations furnish adequate basis by which the complaint can be
prayed for would be impracticable and would only cause a maintained, then the same should not be dismissed, regardless of
procedural faux pas. Undaunted, Consing, Jr. filed a motion for the defenses that may be averred by the defendants.64 As edified in
reconsideration therefrom but was denied by the CA in a the case of Pioneer Concrete Philippines, Inc. v. Todaro,65 citing
Resolution58 dated April 28, 2010. Hence, the present petition for Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Limited. v.
review on certiorari in G.R. No. 192073. Catalan66 (HSBC):

The Proceedings Before the Court The elementary test for failure to state a cause of action is whether
the complaint alleges facts which if true would justify the relief
After the filing of the foregoing cases, the parties were required to file demanded. Stated otherwise, may the court render a valid judgment
their respective comments and replies. Further, considering that G.R. upon the facts alleged therein? The inquiry is into the sufficiency, not
No.192073 (Makati case) involves the same parties and set of facts the veracity of the material allegations. If the allegations in the
with those in G.R. Nos. 175277 & 175285 (Pasig case), these cases complaint furnish sufficient basis on which it can be maintained, it
were ordered consolidated per the Court's Resolution59 dated should not be dismissed regardless of the defense that may be
November 17, 2010. On March 9, 2011, the Court resolved to give presented by the defendants.67 (Emphasis supplied)
Stated otherwise, the resolution on this matter should stem from an abuse. There is an abuse of right when it is exercised for the only
analysis on whether or not the complaint is able to convey a cause of purpose of prejudicing or injuring another. The exercise of a right
action; and not that the complainant has no cause of action. Lest it must be in accordance with the purpose for which it was established,
be misunderstood, failure to state a cause of action is properly a and must not be excessive or unduly harsh; there must be no
ground for a motion to dismiss under Section 1(g), Rule 1668 of the intention to injure another.71 (Emphasis supplied)
Rules of Court(Rules), while the latter is not a ground for dismissal
under the same rule. Likewise, Consing, Jr.’s complaint states a cause of action for
damages under Article 26 of the Civil Code which provides that:
In this case, the Court finds that Consing, Jr.’s complaint in SCA
No.1759 properly states a cause of action since the allegations there Article 26. Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy
insufficiently bear out a case for damages under Articles 19 and 26 and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following
of the Civil Code. and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense,
shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other
Records disclose that Consing, Jr.’s complaint contains allegations relief:
which aim to demonstrate the abusive manner in which Unicapital
and PBI, et al. enforced their demands against him. Among others, (1) Prying into the privacy of another's residence;
the complaint states that Consing, Jr. "has constantly been harassed
and bothered by Unicapital and PBI, et al.; x x x besieged by phone (2) Meddling with or disturbing the private life or family
calls from them; x x x has had constant meetings with them relations of another;
variously, and on a continuing basis, such that he is unable to attend
to his work as an investment banker."69 In the same pleading, he also
alleged that Unicapital and PBI, et al.’s act of "demanding a (3) Intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his
postdated check knowing fully well that he does not have the friends;
necessary funds to cover the same, nor is he expecting to have them
is equivalent to asking him to commit a crime under unlawful (4) Vexing or humiliating another on account of his religious
coercive force."70 Accordingly, these specific allegations, if beliefs, lowly station in life, place of birth, physical defect, or
hypothetically admitted, may result into the recovery of damages other personal condition.
pursuant to Article 19 of the Civil Code which states that "every
person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of The rationale therefor was explained in the case of Manaloto v.
his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe Veloso III,72 citing Concepcion v. CA,73 to wit:
honesty and good faith." As explained in the HSBC case:
The philosophy behind Art. 26 underscores the necessity for its
When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform with inclusion in our civil law. The Code Commission stressed in no
the norms enshrined in Article 19 and results in damage to another, a uncertain terms that the human personality must be exalted. The
legal wrong is thereby committed for which the wrongdoer must sacredness of human personality is a concomitant consideration of
beheld responsible. But a right, though by itself legal because it is every plan for human amelioration. The touchstone of every system
recognized or granted by law as such, may nevertheless become the of law, of the culture and civilization of every country, is how far it
source of some illegality. A person should be protected only when he dignifies man. If the statutes insufficiently protect a person from
acts in the legitimate exercise of his right, that is, when he acts with being unjustly humiliated, in short, if human personality is not exalted
prudence and in good faith; but not when he acts with negligence or
- then the laws are indeed defective. Thus, under this article, the perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of
rights of persons are amply protected, and damages are provided for law.79 This the Court does not perceive in the case at bar.
violations of a person's dignity, personality, privacy and peace of
mind.74 Further, so as to obviate any confusion on the matter, the Court
equally finds that the causes of action in SCA No. 1759 were not –
To add, a violation of Article 26 of the Civil Code may also lead to the as Unicapital, et al. claim – misjoined even if Consing, Jr. averred
payment of moral damages under Article 2219(10)75 of the Civil that Unicapital and PBI, et al. violated certain provisions of the
Code. Corporation Law and the Revised Securities Act.80

Records reveal that Consing, Jr., in his complaint, alleged that "he The rule is that a party’s failure to observe the following conditions
has come to discover that Unicapital and PBI, et al. are speaking of under Section 5, Rule 2 of the Rules results in a misjoinder of causes
him in a manner that is inappropriate and libelous; and that they have of action:81
spread their virulent version of events in the business and financial
community such that he has suffered and continues to suffer injury SEC. 5. Joinder of causes of action . - A party may in one pleading
upon his good name and reputation which, after all, is the most assert, in the alternative or otherwise, as many causes of action as
sacred and valuable wealth he possesses - especially considering he may have against an opposing party, subject to the following
that he is an investment banker."76 In similar regard, the hypothetical conditions:
admission of these allegations may result into the recovery of
damages pursuant to Article 26, and even Article2219(10), of the (a) The party joining the causes of action shall comply with
Civil Code. the rules on joinder of parties;

Corollary thereto, Unicapital, et al.’s contention77 that the case should (b) The joinder shall not include special civil actions
be dismissed on the ground that it failed to set out the actual libelous governed by special rules;
statements complained about cannot be given credence. These
incidents, as well as the specific circumstances surrounding the
manner in which Unicapital and PBI, et al. pursued their claims (c) Where the causes of action are between the same parties
against Consing, Jr. may be better ventilated during trial. It is a but pertain to different venues or jurisdictions, the joinder
standing rule that issues that require the contravention of the may be allowed in the Regional Trial Court provided one of
allegations of the complaint, as well as the full ventilation, in effect, of the causes of action falls within the jurisdiction of said court
the main merits of the case, should not be within the province of a and the venue lies therein; and
mere motion to dismiss,78 as in this case. Hence, as what is only
required is that the allegations furnish adequate basis by which the (d) Where the claims in all the causes of action are
complaint can be maintained, the Court – in view of the above-stated principally for recovery of money the aggregate amount
reasons – finds that the RTC-Pasig City’s denial of Unicapital, et al.’s claimed shall be the test of jurisdiction. (Emphasis supplied)
motion to dismiss on the ground of failure to state a cause of action
was not tainted with grave abuse of discretion which would A careful perusal of his complaint discloses that Consing, Jr. did not
necessitate the reversal of the CA’s ruling. Verily, for grave abuse of seek to hold Unicapital and PBI, et al. liable for any specific violation
discretion to exist, the abuse of discretion must be patent and gross of the Corporation Code or the Revised Securities Act. Rather, he
so as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to merely sought damages for Unicapital and PBI, et al.’s alleged acts
of making him sign numerous documents and their use of the same Manchester rule does not apply.87 (Emphasis and italics in the
against him. In this respect, Consing, Jr. actually advances an original)
injunction and damages case82 which properly falls under the
jurisdiction of the RTC-Pasig City.83 Therefore, there was no violation Indeed, while the Court acknowledges Unicapital, et al.'s
of Section 5, Rule 2 of the Rules, particularly, paragraph (c) thereof. apprehension that Consing, Jr.'s "metered" claim for damages to the
Besides, even on the assumption that there was a misjoinder of tune of around ₱2,000,000.00 per month88 may balloon to a rather
causes of action, still, such defect should not result in the dismissal huge amount by the time that this case is finally disposed of, still, any
of Consing, Jr.’s complaint. Section 6, Rule 2 of the Rules explicitly amount that may by then fall due shall be subject to assessment and
states that a "misjoinder of causes of action is not a ground for any additional fees determined shall constitute as a lien against the
dismissal of an action" and that "a misjoined cause of action may, on judgment as explicitly provided under Section 2,89Rule 141 of the
motion of a party or on the initiative of the court, be severed and Rules.
proceeded with separately."
Finally, on the question of whether or not Consing, Jr.'s complaint
Neither should Consing, Jr.’s failure to pay the required docket fees was properly verified, suffice it to state that since the copy submitted
lead to the dismissal of his complaint.1âwphi1 It has long been to the trial court was duly notarized by one Atty. Allan B. Gepty and
settled that while the court acquires jurisdiction over any case only that it was only Unicapital, et al.’s copy which lacks the notarization,
upon the payment of the prescribed docket fees, its non-payment at then there was sufficient compliance with the requirements of the
the time of the filing of the complaint does not automatically cause rules on pleadings.90
the dismissal of the complaint provided that the fees are paid within a
reasonable period.84 Consequently, Unicapital, et al.’s insistence that In fine, the Court finds no reversible error on the part of the CA in
the stringent rule on non-payment of docket fees enunciated in the sustaining the RTC-Pasig City’s denial of Unicapital et al.’s motion to
case of Manchester Development Corporation v. CA85 should be dismiss. As such, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 175277 and 175285
applied in this case cannot be sustained in the absence of proof that must be denied.
Consing, Jr. intended to defraud the government by his failure to pay
the correct amount of filing fees. As pronounced in the case of Heirs
of Bertuldo Hinog v. Hon. Melicor:86 B. Propriety of the denial of
Consing, Jr.’s motion for
consolidation.
Plainly, while the payment of the prescribed docket fee is a
jurisdictional requirement, even its
The crux of G.R. No. 192073 is the propriety of the RTC-Makati
City’s denial of Consing, Jr.’s motion for the consolidation of the
non-payment at the time of filing does not automatically cause the Pasig case, i.e., SCA No. 1759, and the Makati case, i.e., Civil Case
dismissal of the case, as long as the fee is paid within the applicable No. 99-1418.Records show that the CA upheld the RTC-Makati
prescriptive or reglementary period, more so when the party involved City’s denial of the foregoing motion, finding that the consolidation of
demonstrates a willingness to abide by the rules prescribing such these cases was merely discretionary on the part of the trial court. It
payment. added that it was "impracticable and would cause a procedural faux
pas
Thus, when insufficient filing fees were initially paid by the plaintiffs
and there was no intention to defraud the government, the "if it were to "allow the RTC-Pasig City to preside over the Makati
case."91
The CA’s ruling is proper. dockets since pre-trial procedures have already been undertaken
therein and, thus, its consolidation with SCA No. 1759 pending
It is hornbook principle that when or two or more cases involve the before the RTC-Pasig City would merely result in complications on
same parties and affect closely related subject matters, the same the part of the latter court or squander the resources or remedies
must be consolidated and jointly tried, in order to serve the best already utilized in Civil Case No. 99-1418.93 In this light, aside from
interest of the parties and to settle the issues between them the perceived improbability of having conflicting decisions, the
promptly, thus, resulting in a speedy and inexpensive determination consolidation of SCA No. 1759 and Civil Case No. 99-1418 would,
of cases. In addition, consolidation serves the purpose of avoiding contrary to its objective, only delay the proceedings and entail
the possibility of conflicting decisions rendered by the courts in two or unnecessary costs.
more cases, which otherwise could be disposed of in a single
suit.92 The governing rule is Section 1, Rule 31 of the Rules which All told, the Court finds the consolidation of SCA No. 1759 and Civil
provides: Case No. 99-1418 to be improper, impelling the affirmance of the
CA’s ruling. Consequently, the petition in G.R. No. 192073 must also
SEC. 1. Consolidation. - When actions involving a common question be denied.
of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint
hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may WHEREFORE, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 175277, 175285 and
order all the actions consolidated; and it may make such orders 192073 are DENIED. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals’ Joint
concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary Decision dated October 20, 2005 and Resolution dated October 25,
costs or delay. 2006 in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 64019 and 64451 and the Decision dated
September 30, 2009 and Resolution dated April 28, 2010 in CA-G.R.
In the present case, the Court observes that the subject cases, i.e., No. 101355 are hereby AFFIRMED.
SCA No. 1759 and Civil Case No. 99-1418, although involving the
same parties and proceeding from a similar factual milieu, should G.R. No. L-54598 April 15, 1988
remain unconsolidated since they proceed from different sources of
obligations and, hence, would not yield conflicting dispositions. SCA JOSE B. LEDESMA, petitioner, 
No. 1759 is an injunction and damages case based on the Civil Code vs.
provisions on abuse of right and defamation, while Civil Case No. 99- HON. COURT OF APPEALS, Spouses PACIFICO DELMO and
1418 is a collection and damages suit based on actionable SANCHA DELMO (as private respondents), respondents.
documents, i.e., the subject promissory notes. In particular, SCA No.
1759 deals with whether or not Unicapital and BPI, et al, abused the The Solicitor General for petitioner.
manner in which they demanded payment from Consing, Jr., while
Civil Case No. 99-1418 deals with whether or not Unicapital may
demand payment from Consing, Jr. based on the subject promissory Luzel D. Demasu-ay for respondent.
notes. Clearly, a resolution in one case would have no practical
effect as the core issues and reliefs sought in each case are
separate and distinct from the other.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
Likewise, as the CA correctly pointed out, the RTC-Makati City could
not have been failured in retaining Civil Case No. 99-1418 in its
This petition seeks to reverse the decision of the respondent Court of from Mr. Jesse Dagoon, adviser of the funds of the
Appeals which afirmed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Club, that Office conducted an investigation on the
Iloilo, adjudging the petitioner, who was then the President of the matter and having been convinced of the guilt of
West Visayas College liable for damages under Article 27 of the Civil Violets Delmo and the other officers and members of
Code of the Philippines for failure to graduate a student with honors. the Club, that Office rendered the order or decision
in question. In justifying that Office's order or
The facts are not disputed. decision, it is contended that approval by that Office
of the Constitution and By-Laws of the Club is
necessary for its effectivity and validity and since it
An organization named Student Leadership Club was formed by
was never submitted to that Office, the Club had no
some students of the West Visayas College. They elected the late
valid constitution and By-Laws and that as a
Violets Delmo as the treasurer. In that capacity, Delmo extended
consequence, Resolution No. 2 which was passed
loans from the funds of the club to some of the students of the
based on the Constitution and By-Laws- is without
school. "the petitioner claims that the said act of extending loans was
any force and effect and the treasurer, Violeta
against school rules and regulations. Thus, the petitioner, as
Delmo, who extended loans to some officers and
President of the School, sent a letter to Delmo informing her that she
members of the Club pursuant thereto are illegal
was being dropped from the membership of the club and that she
(sic), hence, she and the other students involved are
would not be a candidate for any award or citation from the school.
deemed guilty of misappropriating the funds of the
Club. On the other hand, Raclito Castaneda, Nestor
Delmo asked for a reconsideration of the decision but the petitioner Golez and Violeta Delmo, President, Secretary and
denied it. Delmo, thus, appealed to the Office of the Director of the Treasurer of the Club, respectively, testified that the
Bureau of Public Schools. Club had adopted its Constitution and By-Laws in a
meeting held last October 3, 1965, and that pursuant
The Director after due investigation, rendered a decison on April 13, to Article I of said Constitution and By-Laws, the
1966 which provided: majority of the members of the Executive Board
passed Resolution No. 2, which resolution became
Records of the preliminary investigation conducted the basis for the extension on of loans to some
by one of the legal officers of this Office disclosed officers and members of the Club, that the Club
the following: That Violeta Delmo was the treasurer honestly believed that its Constitution and By-Laws
of the Student Leadership Club, an exclusive student has been approved by the superintendent because
organization; that pursuant to Article IX of the of the the adviser of the Club, Mr. Jesse Dagoon, assured
Constitution and By-Laws of the club, it passed the President of the Club that he will cause the
Resolution No. 2, authorizing the treasurer to approval of the Constitution and By-Laws by the
disburse funds of the Club to student for financial aid Superintendent; the officers of the Club have been
and other humanitarian purposes; that in compliance inducted to office on October 9,1965 by the
with said resolution and as treasurer of the Club, Superintendent and that the Club had been likewise
Violeta Delmo extended loans to some officers and allowed to cosponsor the Education Week
members of the Club upon proper application duly Celebration.
approved by the majority of the members of the
Executive Board; and that upon receiving the report
After a careful study of the records, this Office school, if they are otherwise entitled thereto. (Rollo,
sustains the action taken by the Superintendent in pp. 28-30)
penalizing the adviser of the Club as well as the
officers and members thereof by dropping them from On April 27, 1966, the petitioner received by mail the decision of the
membership therein. However, this Office is Director and all the records of the case. On the same day, petitioner
convinced that Violets M. Delmo had acted in good received a telegram stating the following:
faith, in her capacity as Club Treasurer, in extending
loans to the officers and members of the Student "AIRMAIL RECORDS DELMO CASE MISSENT
partnership Club. Resolution No. 2 authorizing the THAT OFFICE"
Club treasurer to discharge finds to students in need
of financial assistance and other humanitarian
purposes had been approved by the Club adviser, The Director asked for the return only of the records but the
Mr. Jesse Dagoon, with the notation that approval petitioner allegedly mistook the telegram as ordering him to also
was given in his capacity as adviser of the Club and send the decision back. On the same day, he returned by mail all the
extension of the Superintendent's personality. Aside records plus the decision of the Director to the Bureau of Public
from misleading the officers and members of the Schools.
Club, Mr. Dagoon, had unsatisfactorily explained
why he failed to give the Constitution and By-Laws The next day, the petitioner received another telegram from the
of the Club to the Superintendent for approval Director order him to furnish Delmo with a copy of the decision. The
despite his assurance to the Club president that he petitioner, in turn, sent a night letter to the Director informing the
would do so. With this finding of negligence on the latter that he had sent the decision back and that he had not retained
part of the Club adviser, not to mention laxity in the a copy thereof..
performance of his duties as such, this Office
considers as too severe and unwarranted that On May 3, 1966, the day of the graduation, the petitioner received
portion of the questioned order stating that Violeta another telegram from the Director ordering him not to deprive Delmo
Delmo "shall not be a candidate for any award or of any honors due her. As it was impossible by this time to include
citation from this school or any organization in this Delmo's name in the program as one of the honor students, the
school." Violeta Delmo, it is noted, has been a petitioner let her graduate as a plain student instead of being
consistent full scholar of the school and she alone awarded the Latin honor of Magna Cum Laude.
has maintained her scholarship. The decision in
question would, therefore, set at naught all her To delay the matter further, the petitioner on May 5, 1966, wrote the
sacrifice and frustrate her dreams of graduating with Director for a reconsideration of the latters" decision because he
honors in this year's commencement exercises. believed that Delmo should not be allowed to graduate with honors.
The Director denied the petitioner's request.
In view of all the foregoing, this Office believes and
so holds and hereby directs that appellant Violeta. On July 12, 1966, the petitioner finally instructed the Registrar of the
M. Delmo, and for that matter all other Club school to enter into the scholastic records of Delmo the honor,
members or officers involved in this case, be not "Magna Cum Laude."
deprived of any award, citation or honor from the
On July 30, 1966, Delmo, then a minor, was joined by her parents in only three pages, and the portion which directed that
flag action for damages against the petitioner. During the pendency Miss Delmo "be not deprived of any award, citation
of the action, however, Delmo passed away, and thus, an Amended or honor from the school, if otherwise entitled thereto
and Supplemental Complaint was filed by her parents as her sole is found at the last paragraph of the same. How did
and only heirs. he know the last paragraph if he did not read the
letter.
The trial court after hearing rendered judgment against the petitioner
and in favor of the spouses Delmo. The court said: Defendants actuations regarding Miss Delmo's cam
had been one of bias and prejudice. When his action
Let us go to specific badges of the defendants (now would favor him, he was deliberate and aspect to the
petitioners) bad faith. Per investigation of Violeta utter prejudice and detriment of Miss Delmo. Thus,
Delmo's appeal to Director Vitaliano Bernardino of although, as early as April 27, 1966, he knew of the
the Bureau of Public Schools (Exhibit L it was the exoneration of Miss Delino by Director Bernardino,
defendant who inducted the officers of the Student he withheld the information from Miss Delmo. This is
Leadership Club on October 9, 1965. In fact the Club eloquently dramatized by Exh. "11" and Exh. "13" On
was allowed to cosponsor the Education Week April 29,1966, Director Bernardino cabled him to
Celebration. (Exh. "L"). If the defendant he not furnish Violeta Delmo copy of the Decision, Exh. "L,"
approve of the constitution and by-laws of the Club, but instead of informing Miss Delmo about the
why did he induct the officers into office and allow decision, since he said he mailed back the decision
the Club to sponsor the Education Week on April 28,1966, he sent a night letter on April
Celebration"? It was through his own act that the 29,1966, to Director Bernardino, informing the latter
students were misled to do as they did. Coupled with that he had returned the decision (Exh. "l3"),
the defendants tacit recognition of the Club was the together with the record. Why a night letter when the
assurance of Mr. Jemm Dagoon, Club Adviser, who matter was of utmost urgency to the parties in the
made the students believe that he was acting as an case, because graduation day was only four days
extension of Mr. Ledesma's personality. (Exhibit "L"). ahead? An examination of the telegrams sent by the
defendant shows that he had been sending ordinary
telegram and not night letters. (Exh. "5", Exhibit "7").
Another badge of the defendan'ts want of good faith
At least, if the defendant could not furnish a copy of
is the fact that, although, he kaew as early as April
the decision, (Exh. "L"), to Miss Delmo, he should
27,1966 that per on of r Bernardino, Exhibit "L," he
have told her about it or that Miss Delmo's honors
was directed to give honors to Miss Delmo, he kept
and citation in the commencement be announced or
Id information to . He told the Court that he knew
indicated. But Mr. Ledesma is one who cannot admit
that the letter of Director Bernardino directed him not
a mistake. Very ungentlemanly this is home out by
to deprive Miss Delmo the honors due her, but she
his own testimony despite his knowledge that his
(sic) says that he has not finished reading the letter-
decision to deprive Miss Delmo of honors due to her
decision, Exhibit "L," of Director Bernardino 0, him to
was overturned by Director Bernardino, he on his
give honors to Miss Delmo. (Tsn, Feb. 5, 1974,
wrong belief. To quote the defendant,1 believed that
testimony of Mr. Ledesma, pp. .33-35). It could not
she did not deserve those honors(Tsn Feb. 5, 1974,
be true that he has not finished reading the letter-
p. 43,Empasized supplied). Despite the telegram of
decision, Exh. "L," because said letter consisted of
Director Bernardino which the defendant received proper. As we have affirmed in the case of (Prudenciado v. Alliance
hours before the commencement executory on May Transport System, Inc., 148 SCRA 440, 448):
3-4,1966, he did not obey Director Bernardino
because he said in his testimony that he would be There is no argument that moral damages include
embarrassment . Tan Feb 5,1974, P. 46). Evidently, physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious
he knew only his embarrassment and not that of r anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings,
Bernardino whose order was being flagrantly and moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury.
wantonly disregarded by bim And certainly, not the Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral
least of Miss Delmo's embarrassment. His acts damages may be recovered if they are the proximate
speak eloquently of ho bad faith and unjust of result of defendant's wrongly act or omission."
mindwarped by his delicate sensitivity for having (People v. Baylon, 129 SCRA 62 (1984).
been challenged by Miss Delmo, a mere student.
The Solicitor-General tries to cover-up the petitioner's deliberate
xxx xxx xxx omission to inform Miss Delmo by stating that it was not the duty of
the petitioner to furnish her a copy of the Director's decision.
Finally the defendant's behaviour relative to Miss s Granting this to be true, it was nevertheless the petitioner's duty to
case smacks of contemptuous arrogance, enforce the said decision. He could have done so considering that he
oppression and abuse of power. Come to think of it. received the decision on April 27, 1966 and even though he sent it
He refused to obey the directive of Be o and instead, back with the records of the case, he undoubtedly read the whole of
chose to feign ignorance of it." (Reward on Appeal, it which consisted of only three pages. Moreover, the petitioner
p. 72-76). should have had the decency to meet with Mr. Delmo, the girl's
father, and inform the latter, at the very least of the decision. This,
The trial court awarded P20,000.00 to the estate of Violeta Delmo the petitioner likewise failed to do, and not without the attendant bad
and P10,000.00 to her parents for moral damages; P5,000.00 for faith which the appellate court correctly pointed out in its decision, to
nominal damages to Violeta's estate; exemplary damages of wit:
P10,000.00 and P2,000.00 attorney's fees.
Third, assuming that defendant could not furnish
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision. Hence, this Miss Delmo of a copy of the decision, he could have
petition. used his discretion and plain common sense by
informing her about it or he could have directed the
inclusion of Miss Delmo's honor in the printed
The issues raised in this petition can be reduced to the sole question
commencement program or announced it during the
of whether or not the respondent Court of Appeals erred in affirming
commencement exercises.
the trial court's finding that petitioner is liable for damages under
Article 27 of the New Civil Code.
Fourth, defendant despite receipt of the telegram of
Director Benardino hours before the commencement
We find no reason why the findings of the trial and appellate courts
exercises on May 3-4, 1966, disobeyed his superior
should be reversed. It cannot be disputed that Violeta Delmo went
by refusing to give the honors due Miss Delmo with
through a painful ordeal which was brought about by the petitioner's
a lame excuse that he would be embarrassed if he
neglect of duty and callousness. Thus, moral damages are but
did so, to the prejudice of and in complete disregard modification as stated in the preceding paragraph. This decision is
of Miss Delmo's rights. immediately executory.

Fifth, defendant did not even extend the courtesy of SO ORDERED.


meeting Mr. Pacifico Delmo, father of Miss Delmo,
who tried several times to see defendant in his office G.R. No. 122150            March 17, 2003
thus Mr. Delmo suffered extreme disappointment
and humiliation. GEORGE (CULHI) HAMBON, petitioner, 
vs.
xxx xxx xxx COURT OF APPEALS AND VALENTINO U.
CARANTES, respondents.
Defendant, being a public officer should have acted
with circumspection and due regard to the rights of AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Miss Delmo. Inasmuch as he exceeded the scope of
his authority by defiantly disobeying the lawful Petitioner George (Culhi) Hambon filed herein petition for review on
directive of his superior, Director Bernardino, certiorari, raising the following issues:
defendant is liable for damages in his personal
capacity. . . . (Rollo, pp- 57-58)
WHETHER OR NOT A CIVIL CASE FOR DAMAGES BASED ON
AN INDEPENDENT CIVIL ACTION FALLING UNDER ARTICLE 32,
Based on the undisputed facts, exemplary damages are also in 33, 34 AND 2176 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE BE DULY DISMISSED
order. In the same case of Prudenciado v. Alliance Transport FOR FAILURE TO MAKE RESERVATION TO FILE A SEPARATE
System, Inc.,  supra., at p. 450, we ruled: CIVIL ACTION IN A CRIMINAL CASE FILED ARISING FROM THE
SAME ACT OR OMISSION OF THE ACCUSED PURSUANT TO
The rationale behind exemplary or corrective RULE 111, SECTION 1 OF THE RULES OF COURT, THE FAILURE
damages is, as the name implies, to provide an TO MAKE RESERVATION BEING DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE
example or correction for the public good (Lopez, et CRIMINAL CASE WAS DISMISSED BEFORE THE PROSECUTION
al. v. Pan American World Airways, 16 SCRA 431). STARTED TO PRESENT EVIDENCE FOR FAILURE OF THE
PRIVATE COMPLAINANT TO APPEAR DESPITE NOTICE
However, we do not deem it appropriate to award
the spouses Delmo damages in the amount of SHOULD A STRICT INTERPRETATION OF RULE 111, SECTION 1
P10,000.00 in their individual capacity, separately OF THE RULES OF COURT WHICH INFRINGES ON A RIGHT OF
from and in addition to what they are already entitled A PARTY BASED ON A SUBSTANTIVE LAW BE PERMITTED
to as sole heirs of the deceased Violeta Delmo. WHEN TO DO SO WOULD DIMINISH, MODIFY AND/OR AMEND A
Thus, the decision is modified insofar as moral SUBSTANTIVE RIGHT CONTRARY TO LAW.1
damages are awarded to the spouses in their own
behalf. The factual background that led to the filing of the petition is as
follows:
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The
decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED with the slight
On June 6, 1989, the petitioner filed before the Regional Trial Court Hence, herein petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
of Baguio (Branch 6), a complaint for damages2for the injuries and Rules of Court.
expenses he sustained after the truck driven by the respondent
bumped him on the night of December 9, 1985.3 In answer thereto, Petitioner argues that the ruling in the case of Abellana v.
respondent contended that the criminal case arising from the same Marave11 should be observed, i.e., a civil action for damages may be
incident, Criminal Case No. 2049 for Serious Physical Injuries thru filed and proceed independently of the criminal action even without
Reckless Imprudence, earlier filed on January 8, 1986,4had already reservation to file the same has been made;12 and that the
been provisionally dismissed by the Municipal Trial Court of Tuba, requirement of reservation, as provided in Rule 111 of the Rules of
Benguet on March 23, 1987, due to petitioner’s lack of interest;5 and Court, practically diminished/amended/modified his substantial
that the dismissal was with respect to both criminal and civil liabilities right.13
of respondent.6
The petition must be denied.
After trial, the Regional Trial Court rendered a decision, dated
December 18, 1991, ruling that the civil case was not barred by the Petitioner filed the complaint for damages on June 6, 1989. Hence,
dismissal of the criminal case, and that petitioner is entitled to Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, as
damages. The dispositive portion of the RTC decision reads: amended in 1988,14 is the prevailing and governing law in this
case, viz.:
WHEREFORE, Judgment is hereby rendered, sentencing
defendant Valentino Cerantes to pay plaintiff George SECTION 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. – When
Hambon the sum of P60,000.00 for hospitalization and a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery
medical expenses and P10,000.00 for native rituals, as of civil liability is impliedly instituted with the criminal action,
Actual Damages; the sum of P10,000.00 as Moral Damages, unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves
P5,000.00 as Exemplary Damages and P5,000.00 as his right to institute it separately, or institutes the civil action
Attorney’s fees and costs. prior to the criminal action.

SO ORDERED.7 Such civil action includes recovery of indemnity under the


Revised Penal Code, and damages under Article 32, 33, 34
On appeal,8 the Court of Appeals, in its decision promulgated on and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines arising from the
March 8, 1995,9 reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court, same act or omission of the accused.
and dismissed petitioner’s complaint for damages.
...
According to the appellate court, since the petitioner did not make
any reservation to institute a separate civil action for damages, it was Under the foregoing rule, civil actions to recover liability arising from
impliedly instituted with the criminal case, and the dismissal of the crime (ex delicto) and under Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil
criminal case carried with it the dismissal of the suit for damages, Code (quasi-delict) are deemed impliedly instituted with the criminal
notwithstanding the fact that the dismissal was provisional as it action unless waived, reserved or previously instituted.
amounted to an acquittal and had the effect of an adjudication on the
merits. 10
Thus, in Maniago v. Court of Appeals,15 the Court ruled that the right Contrary to private respondent’s contention, the requirement
to bring an action for damages under the Civil Code must be that before a separate civil action may be brought it must be
reserved, as required by Section 1, Rule 111, otherwise it should be reserved does not impair, diminish or defeat substantive
dismissed;16 and that the reservation requirement does not impair, rights, but only regulates their exercise in the general interest
diminish or defeat substantive rights, but only regulates their exercise of procedure. The requirement is merely procedural in
in the general interest of orderly procedure.17 nature. For that matter the Revised Penal Code, by providing
in Art. 100 that any person criminally liable is also civilly
In the Maniago case, petitioner Ruben Maniago was the owner of the liable, gives the offended party the right to bring a separate
bus driven by Herminio Andaya that figured in a vehicular accident civil action, yet no one has ever questioned the rule that
with the jeepney owned by respondent Alfredo Boado. The petitioner such action must be reserved before it may be brought
therein initially sought for the suspension of the civil case for separately.19
damages filed against him in view of the pendency of the criminal
case for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property and While the Abellana case ruled that a reservation is not necessary,
multiple physical injuries filed against his driver. The respondent, in the 1988 amendment of the rule explicitly requires reservation of the
the criminal case, did not reserve the right to bring the separate civil civil action.
action against the petitioner or his driver. The criminal case was later
dismissed for the failure of the prosecution to prosecute its case. On x x x Prior reservation is a condition sine qua non before any
appeal, the Court identified the issues as (1) whether the respondent of these independent civil actions can be instituted and
can file a civil action for damages despite the absence of reservation; thereafter have a continuous determination apart from or
(2) whether the dismissal of the criminal case brought with it the simultaneous with the criminal action.
dismissal of the civil action; and (3) whether the reservation
requirement is substantive in character and beyond the rule-making . . . Far from altering substantive rights, the primary purpose
power of the Court.18 of the reservation is, to borrow the words of the Court in
"Caños v. Peralta":
The Court expounded:
‘. . . to avoid multiplicity of suits, to guard against
. . . §1quite clearly requires that a reservation must be made oppression and abuse, to prevent delays, to clear
to institute separately all civil actions for the recovery of civil congested dockets, to simplify the work of the trial
liability, otherwise they will de deemed to have been court; in short, the attainment of justice with the least
instituted with the criminal case. … In other words the right of expense and vexation to the parties-litigants.’20
the injured party to sue separately for the recovery of the civil
liability whether arising from crimes (ex delicto) or from Thus, herein petitioner Hambon should have reserved his right to
quasi-delict under Art. 2176 of the Civil Code must be separately institute the civil action for damages in Criminal Case No.
reserved otherwise they will de deemed instituted with the 2049. Having failed to do so, Civil Case No. 1761-R for damages
criminal action. subsequently filed by him without prior reservation should be
dismissed. With the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 2049, whatever
... civil action for the recovery of civil liability that was impliedly instituted
therein was likewise dismissed.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review on certiorari is hereby the ground that it stated no cause of action, but the same was denied
DENIED for lack of merit, and the decision of the Court of Appeals on July 7 of the same year. 1äwphï1.ñët
dated March 8, 1995, is AFFIRMED in toto.
On September 2, 1958, petitioner, in turn, filed a motion in Criminal
SO ORDERED. Case No. 3405 to suspend proceedings therein, on the ground that
the determination of the issue involved in Civil Case No. 1446 of the
G.R. No. L-14534             February 28, 1962 Court of First Instance of Pampanga was a prejudicial question.
Respondent judge denied the motion on September 20, 1958 as well
as petitioner's motion for reconsideration, and ordered his
MERARDO L. ZAPANTA, petitioner, 
arraignment. After entering a plea of not guilty, petitioner filed the
vs.
present action.
THE HON. AGUSTIN P. MONTESA, ETC., ET AL., respondents.

We have heretofore defined a prejudicial question as that which


Pedro M. Santos and Jorge C. Salonga for petitioner.
arises in a case, the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the
Office of the Solicitor General, Romulo L. Chua and Dewey G.
issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to
Soriano for respondents.
another tribunal (People vs. Aragon, G.R. No. L-5930, February 17,
1954). The prejudicial question — we further said — must be
DIZON, J.: determinative of the case before the court, and jurisdiction to try the
same must be lodged in another court (People vs. Aragon, supra).
This is a petition for prohibition filed by Merardo L. Zapanta against These requisites are present in the case at bar. Should the question
the Hon. Agustin P. Montesa, Judge of the Court of First Instance of for annulment of the second marriage pending in the Court of First
Bulacan, Fernando A. Cruz, Provincial Fiscal of Bulacan, and Instance of Pampanga prosper on the ground that, according to the
Olimpia A. Yco, to enjoin the former from proceeding with the trial of evidence, petitioner's consent thereto was obtained by means of
Criminal Case No. 3405 pending the final determination of Civil Case duress, force and intimidation, it is obvious that his act was
No. 1446 of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga. involuntary and can not be the basis of his conviction for the crime of
bigamy with which he was charged in the Court of First Instance of
Upon complaint filed by respondent Olimpia A. Yco on May 20, 1958, Bulacan. Thus, the issue involved in the action for the annulment of
an information for Bigamy was filed by respondent Provincial Fiscal the second marriage is determinative of petitioner's guilt or
against petitioner in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan (Criminal innocence of the crime of bigamy. On the other hand, there can be
Case No. 3405), alleging that the latter, having previously married no question that the annulment of petitioner's marriage with
one Estrella Guarin, and without said marriage having been respondent Yco on the grounds relied upon in the complaint filed in
dissolved, contracted a second marriage with said complainant. the Court of First Instance of Pampanga is within the jurisdiction of
said court.
On June 16, 1958, petitioner filed in the Court of First Instance of
Pampanga Civil Case No. 1446 against respondent Olimpia A. Yco In the Aragon case already mentioned (supra) we held that if the
for the annulment of their marriage on the ground of duress, force defendant in a case for bigamy claims that the first marriage is void
and intimidation. On the 30th of the same month respondent Yco, as and the right to decide such validity is vested in another court, the
defendant in said case, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint upon civil action for annulment must first be decided before the action for
bigamy can proceed. There is no reason not to apply the same rule
when the contention of the accused is that the second marriage is
void on the ground that he entered into it because of duress, force alleged use of force, threats and intimidation allegedly employed by
and intimidation. petitioner and because of its allegedly bigamous character. On June
15, 1963, petitioner as defendant in said case, filed a third-party
WHEREFORE, the writ prayed for in the petition is hereby granted. complaint, against the third-party defendant Elvira Makatangay, the
Without costs. first spouse, praying that his marriage with the said third-party
defendant be declared null and void, on the ground that by means of
threats, force and intimidation, she compelled him to appear and
G.R. No. L-22579             February 23, 1968
contract marriage with her before the Justice of the Peace of Makati,
Rizal.
ROLANDO LANDICHO, petitioner, 
vs.
          Thereafter, on October 7, 1963, petitioner moved to suspend
HON. LORENZO RELOVA, in his capacity as Judge of the Court
the hearing of the criminal case pending the decision on the question
of First Instance of Batangas, Branch I, and PEOPLE OF THE
of the validity of the two marriages involved in the pending civil suit.
PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Respondent Judge on November 19, 1963 denied the motion for lack
of merit. Then came a motion for reconsideration to set aside the
Jose W. Diokno for petitioner.  above order, which was likewise denied on March 2, 1964. Hence
Office of the Solicitor General for respondents. this petition, filed on March 13, 1964.

FERNANDO, J.:           In a resolution of this Court of March 17, 1964, respondent


Judge was required to answer within ten (10) days, with a preliminary
          In this petition for certiorari  and prohibition with preliminary injunction being issued to restrain him from further proceeding with
injunction, the question before the Court is whether or not the the prosecution of the bigamy case. In the meanwhile, before the
existence of a civil suit for the annulment of marriage at the instance answer was filed there was an amended petition for certiorari, the
of the second wife against petitioner, with the latter in turn filing a amendment consisting solely in the inclusion of the People of the
third party complaint against the first spouse for the annulment of the Philippines as another respondent. This Court admitted such
first marriage, constitutes a prejudicial question in a pending suit for amended petition in a resolution of April 3, 1964.
bigamy against him. Respondent, Judge Relova answered in the
negative. We sustain him.           Then came the answer to the amended petition on May 14 of
that year where the statement of facts as above detailed was
          The pertinent facts as set forth in the petition follow. On admitted, with the qualifications that the bigamy charge was filed
February 27, 1963, petitioner was charged before the Court of First upon the complaint of the first spouse Elvira Makatangay. It alleged
Instance of Batangas, Branch I, presided over by respondent Judge, as one of its special and affirmative defenses that the mere fact that
with the offense, of bigamy. It was alleged in the information that "there are actions to annul the marriages entered into by the accused
petitioner "being then lawfully married to Elvira Makatangay, which in a bigamy case does not mean that 'prejudicial questions are
marriage has not been legally dissolved, did then and there wilfully, automatically raised in said civil actions as to warrant the suspension
unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with Fe of the criminal case for bigamy." 1 The answer stressed that even on
Lourdes Pasia." On March 15, 1963, an action was filed before the the assumption that the first marriage was null and void on the
Court of First Instance ofBatangas, likewise presided plaintiff ground alleged by petitioner, the fact would not be material to the
respondent Judge Fe Lourdes Pasia, seeking to declare her outcome of the criminal case. It continued, referring to Viada, that
marriage to petitioner as null and void ab initio because of the "parties to the marriage should not be permitted to judge for
themselves its nullity, for this must be submitted to the judgment of charged in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan. Thus the issue
competent courts and only when the nullity of a marriage is so involved in the action for the annulment of the second marriage is
declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such determinative of petitioner's guilt or innocence of the crime of
declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists. Therefore, bigamy. . . ."
according to Viada, he who contracts a second marriage before the
judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage incurs the penalty           The situation in this case is markedly different. At the time the
provided for in this Article. . . ." 2 petitioner was indicted for bigamy on February 27, 1963, the fact that
two marriage ceremonies had been contracted appeared to be
          This defense is in accordance with the principle implicit in indisputable. Then on March 15, 1963, it was the second spouse, not
authoritative decisions of this Court. In Merced v. Diez, 3 what was in petitioner who filed an action for nullity on the ground of force, threats
issue was the validity of the second marriage, "which must be and intimidation. It was sometime later, on June 15, 1963, to be
determined before hand in the civil action before the criminal action precise, when petitioner, as defendant in the civil action, filed a third-
can proceed." According to the opinion of Justice Labrador: "We party complaint against the first spouse alleging that his marriage
have a situation where the issue of the validity of the second with her should be declared null and void on the ground of force,
marriage can be determined or must first be determined in the civil threats and intimidation. As was correctly stressed in the answer of
action before the criminal action for bigamy can be prosecuted. The respondent Judge relying on Viada, parties to a marriage should not
question of the validity of the second marriage is, therefore, a be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, only competent courts
prejudicial question because determination of the validity of the having such authority. Prior to such declaration of nullity, the validity
second marriage is determinable in the civil action and must precede of the first marriage is beyond question. A party who contracts a
the criminal action for bigamy." It was the conclusion of this Court second marriage then assumes the risk of being prosecuted for
then that for petitioner Merced to be found guilty of bigamy, the bigamy.
second marriage which he contracted "must first be declared valid."
Its validity having been questioned in the civil action, there must be a           Such was the situation of petitioner. There is no occasion to
decision in such a case "before the prosecution for bigamy can indulge in the probability that the third-party complaint against the
proceed." first wife brought almost five months after the prosecution for bigamy
was started could have been inspired by the thought that he could
          To the same effect is the doctrine announced in Zapanta v. thus give color to a defense based on an alleged prejudicial question.
Mendoza. 4 As explained in the opinion of Justice Dizon: "We have The above judicial decisions as well as the opinion of Viada preclude
heretofore defined a prejudicial question as that which arises in a a finding that respondent Judge abused, much less gravely abused,
case, the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue his discretion in failing to suspend the hearing as sought by
involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another petitioner.
tribunal. . . . The prejudicial question — we further said — must be
determinative of the case before the court, and jurisdiction to try the           WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is denied and the writ
same must be lodged in another court. . . . These requisites are of preliminary injunction issued dissolved. With costs.1äwphï1.ñët
present in the case at bar. Should the question for annulment of the
second marriage pending in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga G.R. No. 111244 December 15, 1997
prosper on the ground that, according to the evidence, petitioner's
consent thereto was obtained by means of duress, force and
intimidation, it is obvious that his act was involuntary and can not be ARTURO ALANO, petitioner, 
the basis of his conviction for the crime of bigamy with which he was vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, HON. ENRICO A. Petitioner moved for the suspension of the criminal case on the
LANZANAS, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, National ground that there was a prejudicial question pending resolution in
Capital Judicial Region, Manila, Branch 37, and ROBERTO another case being tried in the Regional Trial Court, National Capital
CARLOS, respondents. Region, Pasig, Branch 68. The case, docketed as Civil Case No.
55103 and entitled "Roberto Carlos and Trinidad M. Carlos v. Arturo
Alano, et. al.," concerns the nullity of the sale and recovery of
possession and damages. In the aforementioned Civil Case, private
respondent filed a complaint against the petitioner seeking the
ROMERO, J.:
annulment of the second sale of said parcel of land made by the
petitioner to a certain Erlinda Dandoy on the premise that the said
Petitioner Arturo Alano has filed this petition for review of the land was previously sold to them. In his answer, petitioner contends
decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 28150 which that he never sold the property to the private respondents and that
affirmed in toto the order of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, his signature appearing in the deed of absolute sale in favor of the
Branch 372 denying petitioner's motion for the suspension of latter was a forgery, hence, the alleged sale was fictitious and
proceeding of Criminal Case No. 90-84933, entitled "People of the inexistent. At this juncture, it is worth mentioning that the civil case
Philippines vs. Arturo Alano" as well as his motion for was filed on March 1, 1985, five years before June 19, 1990 when
reconsideration. the criminal case for estafa was instituted.

Criminal Case No. 90-84933 is a prosecution for the crime of estafa. On October 3, 1991, the trial court denied the petitioner's motion as
The information3 alleges: well as a subsequent motion for reconsideration.

That on or about June 10, 1986, in the City of Aggrieved, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari  and prohibition
Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and before the Court of Appeals seeking the nullification of the assailed
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud order.
Roberto S. Carlos in the following manner, to wit: the
said accused, pretending to be still the owner of a
On July 26, 1993,4 the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for
parcel of land with an area of 1,172 square meters,
lack of merit, the decretal portion of which reads:
more or less, located at Bicutan, Taguig, Metro
Manila, covered by Tax Declaration No. 120-004-
00398, well knowing that he had previously sold the WHEREFORE, finding no merit to the petition, the
same to the said Roberto S. Carlos for P30,000.00, same is hereby DISMISSED, with cost against
sold the aforesaid property for the second time to petitioner.
one Erlinda B. Dandoy for P87,900.00, thereby
depriving the said Roberto S. Carlos of his rightful Hence, this petition.
ownership/possession of the said parcel of land, to
the damage and prejudice of the said Roberto S. The only issue in this petition is whether the pendency of Civil Case
Carlos in the aforesaid amount of P30,000.00, No. 55103, is a prejudicial question justifying the suspension of the
Philippine currency. proceedings in Criminal Case No. 90-84933 filed against the
petitioner.
Contrary to law.
Petitioner alleges that his signature appearing in the first deed of respondent.8 Moreover, it was also noted by the Court of
absolute sale in favor of private respondent was a forgery, such that Appeals that petitioner even wrote to the private respondent
there was no second sale covering the said parcel of land. Otherwise offering to refund whatever sum the latter had paid.9
stated, if the Court in the said Civil Case rules that the first sale to
herein private respondent was null and void, due to the forgery of In this regard, the pre-trial provision on criminal procedure found in
petitioner's signature in the first deed of sale, it follows that the Rule 118 of the Rules of Court provides:
criminal case for estafa would not prosper.
Sec. 2. Pre-trial conference; subject. . . . The pre-
While at first blush there seems to be merit in petitioner's claim, we trial conference shall consider the following:
are compelled to affirm the Court of Appeal's findings.
(a) Plea bargaining
The doctrine of prejudicial question comes into play in a situation
where a civil action and a criminal action are both pending and there (b) Stipulation of facts
exists in the former an issue which must be preemptively resolved
before the criminal action may proceed, because howsoever the
issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative of From the foregoing, there is no question that a stipulation of facts by
the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal action.5 In other the parties in a criminal case is recognized as declarations
words, if both civil and criminal cases have similar issues or the issue constituting judicial admissions, hence, binding upon the
in one is intimately related to the issues raised in the other, then a parties10 and by virtue of which the prosecution dispensed with the
prejudicial question would likely exists, provided the other element or introduction of additional evidence and the defense waived the right
characteristic is satisfied.6 to contest or dispute the veracity of the statement contained in the
exhibit.11
On the basis of the foregoing and a perusal of the facts obtaining in
the case at bar, the disposition of the issue raised need not unduly Accordingly, the stipulation of facts stated in the pre-trial order
detain us. We have already ruled that a criminal action for estafa (for amounts to an admission by the petitioner resulting in the waiver of
alleged double sale of property) is a prejudicial question to a civil his right to present evidence on his behalf. While it is true that the
action for nullity of the alleged deed of sale and the defense of the right to present evidence is guaranteed under the Constitution,12 this
alleged vendor is the forgery of his signature in the deed.7 right may be waived expressly or impliedly.13

Notwithstanding the apparent prejudicial question involved, Since the suspension of the criminal case due to a prejudicial
the Court of Appeals still affirmed the Order of the trial court question is only a procedural matter, the same is subject to a waiver
denying petitioner's motion for the suspension of the by virtue of the prior acts of the accused. After all, the doctrine of
proceeding on the ground that petitioner, in the stipulation of waiver is made solely for the benefit and protection of the individual
facts, had already admitted during the pre-trial order dated in his private capacity, if it can be dispensed with and relinquished
October 5, 1990 of the criminal case the validity of his without infringing on any public right and without detriment to the
signature in the first deed of sale between him and the community at large.14
private respondent, as well as his subsequent
acknowledgment of his signature in twenty-three (23) cash Accordingly, petitioner's admission in the stipulation of facts during
vouchers evidencing the payments made by the private the pre-trial of the criminal amounts to a waiver of his defense of
forgery in the civil case. Hence, we have no reason to nullify such Petitioner Meynardo Beltran and wife Charmaine E. Felix were
waiver, it being not contrary to law, public order, public policy, morals married on June 16, 1973 at the Immaculate Concepcion Parish
or good customs, or prejudicial to a third person with a right Church in Cubao, Quezon City.1
recognized by law.15 Furthermore, it must be emphasized that the
pre-trial order was signed by the petitioner himself. As such, the rule On February 7, 1997, after twenty-four years of marriage and four
that no proof need be offered as to any facts admitted at a pre-trial children,2 petitioner filed a petition for nullity of marriage on the
hearing applies.16 ground of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family
Code before Branch 87 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the appealed decision of the The case was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-97-30192.3
Court of Appeals dated July 26, 1993 is AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioner. In her Answer to the said petition, petitioner's wife Charmaine Felix
alleged that it was petitioner who abandoned the conjugal home and
SO ORDERED. lived with a certain woman named Milagros Salting.4 Charmaine
subsequently filed a criminal complaint for concubinage5 under Article
G.R. No. 137567               June 20, 2000 334 of the Revised Penal Code against petitioner and his paramour
before the City Prosecutor's Office of Makati who, in a Resolution
dated September 16, 1997, found probable cause and ordered the
MEYNARDO L. BELTRAN, petitioner, 
filing of an Information6 against them. The case, docketed as Criminal
vs.
Case No. 236176, was filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court of
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and HON. JUDGE FLORENTINO
Makati City, Branch 61.1awphi1
TUAZON, JR., being the Judge of the RTC, Brach 139, Makati
City, respondents.
On March 20, 1998, petitioner, in order to forestall the issuance of a
warrant for his arrest, filed a Motion to Defer Proceedings Including
BUENA, J.:
the Issuance of the Warrant of Arrest in the criminal case. Petitioner
argued that the pendency of the civil case for declaration of nullity of
This petition for review, filed under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil his marriage posed a prejudicial question to the determination of the
Procedure, seeks to review and set aside the Order dated January criminal case. Judge Alden Vasquez Cervantes denied the foregoing
28, 1999 issued by Judge Florentino A. Tuazon, Jr. of the Regional motion in the Order7 dated August 31, 1998. Petitioner's motion for
Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 139 in Special Civil Case No. 98- reconsideration of the said Order of denial was likewise denied in an
3056, entitled "Meynardo Beltran vs. People of the Philippines and Order dated December 9, 1998.
Hon. Judge Alden Cervantes of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati
City, Branch 61." The said Order denied petitioner's prayer for the
In view of the denial of his motion to defer the proceedings in the
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin Judge Cervantes
concubinage case, petitioner went to the Regional Trial Court of
from proceeding with the trial of Criminal Case No. 236176, a
Makati City, Branch 139 on certiorari, questioning the Orders dated
concubinage case against petitioner on the ground that the pending
August 31, 1998 and December 9, 1998 issued by Judge Cervantes
petition for declaration of nullity of marriage filed by petitioner against
and praying for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction.8 In an
his wife constitutes a prejudicial question.
Order9 dated January 28, 1999, the Regional Trial Court of Makati
denied the petition for certiorari. Said Court subsequently issued
The antecedent facts of the case are undisputed:
another Order 10 dated February 23, 1999, denying his motion for same facts upon which the criminal prosecution would be based, but
reconsideration of the dismissal of his petition. also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the
aforesaid civil action, the guilt or innocence of the accused would
Undaunted, petitioner filed the instant petition for review. necessarily be determined.

Petitioner contends that the pendency of the petition for declaration Art. 40 of the Family Code provides:
of nullity of his marriage based on psychological incapacity under
Article 36 of the Family Code is a prejudicial question that should The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked
merit the suspension of the criminal case for concubinage filed for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final
against him by his wife. judgment declaring such previous marriage void.

Petitioner also contends that there is a possibility that two conflicting In Domingo vs. Court of Appeals, 12 this Court ruled that the import of
decisions might result from the civil case for annulment of marriage said provision is that for purposes of remarriage, the only legally
and the criminal case for concubinage. In the civil case, the trial court acceptable basis for declaring a previous marriage an absolute nullity
might declare the marriage as valid by dismissing petitioner's is a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void, whereas,
complaint but in the criminal case, the trial court might acquit for purposes of other than remarriage, other evidence is acceptable.
petitioner because the evidence shows that his marriage is void on The pertinent portions of said Decision read:
ground of psychological incapacity. Petitioner submits that the
possible conflict of the courts' ruling regarding petitioner's marriage . . . Undoubtedly, one can conceive of other instances where
can be avoided, if the criminal case will be suspended, until the court a party might well invoke the absolute nullity of a previous
rules on the validity of marriage; that if petitioner's marriage is marriage for purposes other than remarriage, such as in
declared void by reason of psychological incapacity then by reason case of an action for liquidation, partition, distribution and
of the arguments submitted in the subject petition, his marriage has separation of property between the erstwhile spouses, as
never existed; and that, accordingly, petitioner could not be convicted well as an action for the custody and support of their
in the criminal case because he was never before a married man. common children and the delivery of the latters' presumptive
legitimes. In such cases, evidence needs must be adduced,
Petitioner's contentions are untenable. testimonial or documentary, to prove the existence of
grounds rendering such a previous marriage an absolute
The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid nullity. These needs not be limited solely to an earlier final
two conflicting decisions. It has two essential elements: (a) the civil judgment of a court declaring such previous marriage void.
action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue
raised in the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue So that in a case for concubinage, the accused, like the herein
determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed. 11 petitioner need not present a final judgment declaring his marriage
void for he can adduce evidence in the criminal case of the nullity of
The pendency of the case for declaration of nullity of petitioner's his marriage other than proof of a final judgment declaring his
marriage is not a prejudicial question to the concubinage case. For a marriage void.
civil case to be considered prejudicial to a criminal action as to cause
the suspension of the latter pending the final determination of the With regard to petitioner's argument that he could be acquitted of the
civil case, it must appear not only that the said civil case involves the charge of concubinage should his marriage be declared null and
void, suffice it to state that even a subsequent pronouncement that ARTHUR TE, petitioner, 
his marriage is void from the beginning is not a defense. vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, and LILIANA CHOA, respondents.
Analogous to this case is that of Landicho vs.  Relova 1 cited
in Donato vs.  Luna 14 where this Court held that: DECISION

. . . Assuming that the first marriage was null and void on the KAPUNAN, J.:
ground alleged by petitioner, that fact would not be material
to the outcome of the criminal case. Parties to the marriage Before us is a petition for review on certiorari which seeks to reverse
should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for the Decision of the Court of Appeals Tenth Division, dated 31 August
the same must be submitted to the judgment of the 1994 in CA-G.R. SP No. 239711 and CA-G.R. SP No. 261782 and the
competent courts and only when the nullity of the marriage is Resolution dated October 18, 1996 denying petitioner’s motion for
so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no reconsideration.
such declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists.
Therefore, he who contracts a second marriage before the The facts of the case are as follows:
judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage assumes the
risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.
Petitioner Arthur Te and private respondent Liliana Choa were
married in civil rites on September 14, 1988. They did not live
Thus, in the case at bar it must also be held that parties to the together after the marriage although they would meet each other
marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, regularly. Not long after private respondent gave birth to a girl on
for the same must be submitted to the judgment of the competent April 21, 1989, petitioner stopped visiting her.3
courts and only when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it
be held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration the
presumption is that the marriage exists for all intents and purposes. On May 20, 1990, while his marriage with private respondent was
Therefore, he who cohabits with a woman not his wife before the subsisting, petitioner contracted a second marriage with a certain
judicial declaration of nullity of the marriage assumes the risk of Julieta Santella (Santella).4
being prosecuted for concubinage. The lower court therefore, has not
erred in affirming the Orders of the judge of the Metropolitan Trial On the basis of a complaint-affidavit filed by private respondent
Court ruling that pendency of a civil action for nullity of marriage does sometime in June 1990, when she learned about petitioner’s
not pose a prejudicial question in a criminal case for concubinage. marriage to Santella, an information charging petitioner with bigamy
was filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City on
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the instant petition is DISMISSED. August 9, 1990.5 This case was docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-
90-14409.6
SO ORDERED.
Meanwhile, on July 20, 1990, petitioner filed in the RTC of Quezon
City an action for the annulment of his marriage to private
G.R. No. 126746               November 29, 2000 respondent on the ground that he was forced to marry her. He
alleged that private respondent concealed her pregnancy by another
man at the time of their marriage and that she was psychologically annulment of his marriage to private respondent and criminal case
incapacitated to perform her essential marital obligations.7 for bigamy in Branches 106 and 98, respectively of the RTC of
Quezon City.12 When the Board denied the said motion in its Order
On November 8, 1990, private respondent also filed with the dated July 16, 1991,13 petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals
Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) an administrative case another petition for certiorari, contending that the Board gravely
against petitioner and Santella for the revocation of their respective abused its discretion in: (1) failing to hold that the resolution of the
engineering licenses on the ground that they committed acts of annulment case is prejudicial to the outcome of the administrative
immorality by living together and subsequently marrying each other case pending before it; (2) not holding that the continuation of
despite their knowledge that at the time of their marriage, petitioner proceedings in the administrative case could render nugatory
was already married to private respondent. With respect to petitioner, petitioner’s right against self-incrimination in this criminal case for
private respondent added that he committed an act of falsification by bigamy against him; and (3) making an overly-sweeping
stating in his marriage contract with Santella that he was still single.8 interpretation that Section 32 of the Rules and Regulations
Governing the Regulation and Practice of Professionals does not
allow the suspension of the administrative proceeding before the
After the prosecution rested its case in the criminal case for bigamy,
PRC Board despite the pendency of criminal and/or administrative
petitioner filed a demurrer to evidence with leave of court and motion
proceedings against the same respondent involving the same set of
to inhibit the trial court judge for showing antagonism and animosity
facts in other courts or tribunals. This petition was docketed as CA-
towards petitioner’s counsel during the hearings of said case.
G.R. SP No. 26178.14
The trial court denied petitioner’s demurrer to evidence in an Order
The two petitions for certiorari were consolidated since they arose
dated November 28, 1990 which stated that the same could not be
from the same set of facts.
granted because the prosecution had sufficiently established a prima
facie case against the accused.9 The RTC also denied petitioner’s
motion to inhibit for lack of legal basis.10 On 31 August 1994, the Court of Appeals, Tenth Division, rendered
the assailed decision in the consolidated petitions. The appellate
court upheld the RTC’s denial of the motion to inhibit due to
Petitioner then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari,
petitioner’s failure to show any concrete evidence that the trial court
alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court judge,
judge exhibited partiality and had prejudged the case. It also ruled
Judge Cezar C. Peralejo, for (1) exhibiting antagonism and animosity
that the denial of petitioner’s motion to suspend the proceedings on
towards petitioner’s counsel; (2) violating the requirements of due
the ground of prejudicial question was in accord with law.15 The Court
process by denying petitioner’s [motion for reconsideration and]
of Appeals likewise affirmed the RTC’s denial of the demurrer to
demurrer to evidence even before the filing of the same; (3)
evidence filed by petitioner for his failure to set forth persuasive
disregarding and failing to comply with the appropriate guidelines for
grounds to support the same, considering that the prosecution was
judges promulgated by the Supreme Court; and (4) ruling that in a
able to adduce evidence showing the existence of the elements of
criminal case only "prima facie evidence" is sufficient for conviction of
bigamy.16
an accused. This case was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 23971.11

Neither did the appellate court find grave abuse of discretion on the
Petitioner also filed with the Board of Civil Engineering of the PRC
part of the Board’s Order denying petitioner’s motion to suspend
(PRC Board), where the administrative case for the revocation of his
proceedings in the administrative case on the ground of prejudicial
engineering license was pending, a motion to suspend the
question. Respondent court held that no prejudicial question existed
proceedings therein in view of the pendency of the civil case for
since the action sought to be suspended is administrative in nature, question to emphasize the guarding and controlling precepts and
and the other action involved is a civil case.17 rules.20

Petitioner thereafter filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision A prejudicial question has been defined as one based on a fact
of the Court of Appeals but the same was denied.18 distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with
it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to
Hence, petitioner filed the instant petition raising the following issues: suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that said case
involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal
prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the
I
issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the
accused would necessarily be determined.21 The rationale behind the
PUBLIC RESPONDENT COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR principle of suspending a criminal case in view of a prejudicial
IN REFUSING TO SUSPEND THE LEGAL [CRIMINAL AND question is to avoid two conflicting decisions.22
ADMINISTRATIVE] PROCEEDINGS DESPITE THE
PENDENCY OF THE CIVIL CASE FOR DECLARATION OF
The Court of Appeals did not err when it ruled that the pendency of
NULLITY OF MARRIAGE.
the civil case for annulment of marriage filed by petitioner against
private respondent did not pose a prejudicial question which would
II necessitate that the criminal case for bigamy be suspended until said
civil case is terminated.
PUBLIC RESPONDENT GRAVELY ABUSED ITS
DISCRETION AND COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioner’s marriage
NOT HOLDING THAT THE DEMURRER TO EVIDENCE to private respondent had no bearing upon the determination of
SHOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN DUE COURSE. petitioner’s innocence or guilt in the criminal case for bigamy,
because all that is required for the charge of bigamy to prosper is
III that the first marriage be subsisting at the time the second marriage
is contracted.23Petitioner’s argument that the nullity of his marriage to
PUBLIC RESPONDENT COMMITTED A SERIOUS LEGAL private respondent had to be resolved first in the civil case before the
ERROR IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE TRIAL JUDGE A criminal proceedings could continue, because a declaration that their
QUO SHOULD HAVE INHIBITED HIMSELF.19 marriage was void ab initio  would necessarily absolve him from
criminal liability, is untenable. The ruling in People vs.
The petition has no merit. Mendoza24 and  People vs. Aragon25 cited by petitioner that no judicial
decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of a marriage which is
void ab initio has been overturned. The prevailing rule is found in
While the termination of Civil Case No. Q-90-6205 for annulment of
Article 40 of the Family Code, which was already in effect at the time
petitioner’s marriage to private respondent has rendered the issue of
of petitioner’s marriage to private respondent in September 1988.
the propriety of suspending both the criminal case for bigamy before
Said article states that the absolute nullity of a previous marriage
the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 98 and the administrative case for
may not be invoked for purposes of remarriage unless there is a final
revocation of petitioner’s engineering license before the PRC Board
judgment declaring such previous marriage void. Thus, under the
moot and academic, the Court shall discuss the issue of prejudicial
law, a marriage, even one which is void or voidable, shall be deemed
valid until declared otherwise in a judicial proceeding.26 In Landicho It must also be noted that the allegations in the administrative
vs. Relova,27 we held that: complaint before the PRC Board are not confined to the issue of the
alleged bigamous marriage contracted by petitioner and Santella.
Parties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves Petitioner is also charged with immoral conduct for continued failure
its nullity, for this must be submitted to the judgment of competent to perform his obligations as husband to private respondent and as
courts and only when the nullity of a marriage is so declared can it be father to their child, and for cohabiting with Santella without the
held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration the benefit of marriage.30 The existence of these other charges justified
presumption of marriage exists.28 the continuation of the proceedings before the PRC Board.

It is clear from the foregoing that the pendency of the civil case for Petitioner also contends that the Court of Appeals erred in upholding
annulment of petitioner’s marriage to private respondent did not give the trial court’s denial of his demurrer to evidence in the criminal
rise to a prejudicial question which warranted the suspension of the case for bigamy, arguing that the prosecution failed to establish the
proceedings in the criminal case for bigamy since at the time of the existence of both the first and second marriages beyond reasonable
alleged commission of the crime, their marriage was, under the law, doubt. Petitioner claims that the original copy of marriage contract
still valid and subsisting. between him and private respondent was not presented, the
signatures therein were not properly identified and there was no
showing that the requisites of a valid marriage were complied with.
Neither did the filing of said civil case for annulment necessitate the
He alleges further that the original copy of the marriage contract
suspension of the administrative proceedings before the PRC Board.
between him and Santella was not presented, that no proof that he
As discussed above, the concept of prejudicial question involves a
signed said contract was adduced, and that there was no witness
civil and a criminal case. We have previously ruled that there is no
presented to show that a second marriage ceremony participated in
prejudicial question where one case is administrative and the other is
by him ever took place.31
civil.29

We are not persuaded. The grant or denial of a demurrer to evidence


Furthermore, Section 32 of the Rules and Regulations Governing the
is left to the sound discretion of the trial court, and its ruling on the
Regulation and Practice of Professionals of the PRC Board expressly
matter shall not be disturbed in the absence of a grave abuse of such
provides that the administrative proceedings before it shall not be
discretion.32 In this case, the Court of Appeals did not find any grave
suspended notwithstanding the existence of a criminal and/or civil
abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court, which based its
case against the respondent involving the same facts as the
denial of the demurrer on two grounds: first, the prosecution
administrative case:
established a prima facie  case for bigamy against the petitioner; and
second, petitioner’s allegations in the demurrer were insufficient to
The filing or pendency of a criminal and/or civil cases in the courts or justify the grant of the same. It has been held that the appellate court
an administrative case in another judicial body against an examinee will not review in a special civil action for certiorari the prosecution’s
or registered professional involving the same facts as in the evidence and decide in advance that such evidence has or has not
administrative case filed or to be filed before the Board shall neither yet established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable
suspend nor bar the proceeding of the latter case. The Board shall doubt.33 In view of the trial court’s finding that a prima facie case
proceed independently with the investigation of the case and shall against petitioner exists, his proper recourse is to adduce evidence in
render therein its decision without awaiting for the final decision of his defense.34
the courts or quasi-judicial body.
The Court also finds it necessary to correct petitioner’s Philippines vs. Court of Appeals,38this Court held that while bias and
misimpression that by denying his demurrer to evidence in view of prejudice have been recognized as valid reasons for the voluntary
the existence of a prima facie case against him, the trial court was inhibition of a judge under Section 1, Rule 137, the rudimentary rule
already making a pronouncement that he is liable for the offense is that the mere suspicion that a judge is partial is not enough. There
charged. As correctly held by the Court of Appeals, the order of the should be clear and convincing evidence to prove the charge of bias
RTC denying the demurrer was not an adjudication on the merits but and partiality.39
merely an evaluation of the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence
to determine whether or not a full-blown trial would be necessary to Furthermore, since the grounds raised by petitioner in his motion to
resolve the case.35 The RTC’s observation that there was a prima inhibit are not among those expressly mentioned in Section 1, Rule
facie  case against petitioner only meant that the prosecution had 137 of the Revised Rules of Court, the decision to inhibit himself lay
presented sufficient evidence to sustain its proposition that petitioner within the sound discretion of Judge Peralejo. Said provision of law
had committed the offense of bigamy, and unless petitioner presents states:
evidence to rebut the same, such would be the conclusion.36 Said
declaration by the RTC should not be construed as a pronouncement Section 1. Disqualification of judges. – No judge or judicial officer
of petitioner’s guilt. It was precisely because of such finding that the shall sit in any case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily
trial court denied the demurrer, in order that petitioner may present interested as heir, legatee, creditor or otherwise, or in which he is
evidence in his defense and allow said court to resolve the case related to either party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or
based on the evidence adduced by both parties. affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree, computed according to
the rules of the civil law, or in which he has been executor,
Lastly, petitioner contends that his motion to inhibit Judge Peralejo in administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he has
Criminal Case No. Q-90-14409 should have been granted since said presided in any inferior court when his ruling or decision is the
judge exhibited partiality and bias against him in several instances. subject of review, without the written consent of all parties in interest,
First, when petitioner manifested that he would file a motion for signed by them and entered upon the record.
reconsideration of the denial of his motion to suspend the
proceedings in said case, the judge said such motion was dilatory A judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify
and would be denied even though the motion for reconsideration had himself from sitting in the case, for just and valid reasons other than
not yet been filed. Second, when petitioner’s counsel manifested that those mentioned above.
he had just recovered from an accident and was not physically fit for
trial, the judge commented that counsel was merely trying to delay
the case and required said counsel to produce a medical certificate Thus, it was not mandatory that the judge inhibit himself from hearing
to support his statement. Third, when petitioner manifested that he and deciding the case.
was going to file a demurrer to evidence, the judge characterized the
same as dilatory and declared that he would deny the same. This Court does not find any abuse of discretion by respondent judge
According to petitioner, the judge’s hostile attitude towards in denying petitioner’s motion to inhibit. The test for determining the
petitioner’s counsel as shown in the foregoing instances justified the propriety of the denial of said motion is whether petitioner was
grant of his motion to inhibit. deprived a fair and impartial trial.40 The instances when Judge
Peralejo allegedly exhibited antagonism and partiality against
We agree with the appellate court that the grounds raised by petitioner and/or his counsel did not deprive him of a fair and
petitioner against Judge Peralejo did not conclusively show that the impartial trial. As discussed earlier, the denial by the judge of
latter was biased and had prejudged the case.37 In People of the petitioner’s motion to suspend the criminal proceeding and the
demurrer to evidence are in accord with law and jurisprudence. Under the agreement, petitioner shall pay for an equivalent amount
Neither was there anything unreasonable in the requirement that of one month of deliveries in advance within the first seven days of
petitioner’s counsel submit a medical certificate to support his claim the succeeding month. Petitioner's allowable percentage of return
that he suffered an accident which rendered him unprepared for trial. shall be 10% and be entitled to a rebate of P0.15 per copy sold.
Such requirement was evidently imposed upon petitioner’s counsel
to ensure that the resolution of the case was not hampered by After execution of the agreement, respondent Philippines Today, Inc.
unnecessary and unjustified delays, in keeping with the judge’s duty made regular deliveries of the agreed copies of the newspaper to
to disposing of the court’s business promptly.41 petitioner.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. In order to make partial payments for the deliveries, on December
18, 1990 to April 15, 1991, petitioner issued to respondent several
SO ORDERED. checks amounting to ninety thousand (P90,000.00) pesos.

G.R. No. 124498            October 5, 2001 When respondent presented petitioner's checks to the drawee banks
for payment, the bank dishonored the checks for insufficiency of
EDDIE B. SABANDAL, petitioner,  funds and/or account closed. Consequently, respondent made oral
vs. and written demands for petitioner to make good the checks.
HON. FELIPE S. TONGCO, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial However, petitioner failed to pay despite demands.
Court, Manila, Branch 42, and PHILIPPINES
TODAY, respondents. In December 1992, on the basis of a complaint-affidavit filed by
respondent Philippines Today, Inc., assistant city prosecutor of
PARDO, J.: Manila Jacinto A. de los Reyes, Jr. filed with the Regional Trial Court,
Manila eleven informations for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang
22 against petitioner.4
The Case

Three years later, or on October 11, 1995, petitioner filed with the
The case is a petition to suspend the criminal proceedings in the
Regional Trial Court, Negros Occidental at Himamaylan, a complaint
Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 42,1 where petitioner Eddie B.
against Philippines Today, Inc. for specific performance, recovery of
Sabandal is charged with eleven counts of violation of Batas
overpayment and damages.5
Pambansa Bilang 22.2

On October 11, 1995, petitioner also filed with the Regional Trial
The Facts
Court, Manila, Branch 42, a motion to suspend trial in the criminal
cases against him based on a prejudicial question.6
On February 18, 1989, Eddie B. Sabandal entered into a
memorandum of agreement on dealership with respondent
On November 27, 1995, the trial court denied petitioner's motion to
Philippines Today, Inc. for the distribution of the newspaper
suspend trial based on a prejudicial question.7
Philippines Today, (now Philippine Star) in Bacolod City and in
designated towns in Negros Occidental.3
On December 20, 1995, petitioner filed with the trial court a motion criminal prosecution would be based; (2) in the resolution of the
for reconsideration of the denial.8 issue or issues raised in the civil action, the guilt or innocence of the
accused would necessarily be determined; and (3) jurisdiction to try
On January 9, 1996, the trial court denied the motion for said question must be lodged in another tribunal."13
reconsideration.9
If both civil and criminal cases have similar issues or the issue in one
Hence, this petition.10 is intimately related to the issues raised in the other, then a
prejudicial question would likely exist, provided the other element or
characteristic is satisfied.14 It must appear not only that the civil case
The Issue
involves the same facts upon which the criminal prosecution would
be based, but also that the resolution of the issues raised in the civil
The issue raised is whether a prejudicial question exists to warrant action would be necessarily determinative of the guilt or innocence of
the suspension of the trial of the criminal cases for violation of Batas the accused.15 If the resolution of the issue in the civil action will not
Pambansa Bilang 22 against petitioner until after the resolution of the determine the criminal responsibility of the accused in the criminal
civil action for specific performance, recovery of overpayment, and action based on the same facts, or there is no necessity "that the civil
damages. case be determined first before taking up the criminal case,"
therefore, the civil case does not involve a prejudicial
The Court's Ruling question.16 Neither is there a prejudicial question if the civil and the
criminal action can, according to law, proceed independently of each
The petition has no merit. other.17

The two (2) essential elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the In this case, the issue in the criminal cases for violation of Batas
civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue Pambansa Bilang 22 is whether the accused knowingly issued
raised in the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue worthless checks. The issue in the civil action for specific
determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.11 performance, overpayment, and damages is whether complainant
Sabandal overpaid his obligations to Philippines Today, Inc. If, after
"A prejudicial question is defined as that which arises in a case the trial in the civil case, petitioner is shown to have overpaid
resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue involved respondent, it does not follow that he cannot be held liable for the
therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. bouncing checks he issued, for the mere issuance of worthless
The prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the checks with knowledge of the insufficiency of funds to support the
court but the jurisdiction to try and resolve the question must be checks is itself an offense.18
lodged in another court or tribunal. It is a question based on a fact
distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with The lower court, therefore, did not err in ruling that the pendency of a
it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused."12 civil action for specific performance, overpayment, and damages did
not pose a prejudicial question in the criminal cases for violation of
"For a civil action to be considered prejudicial to a criminal case as to Batas Pambansa Bilang 22.
cause the suspension of the criminal proceedings until the final
resolution of the civil, the following requisites must be present: (1) the Furthermore, the peculiar circumstances of the case clearly indicate
civil case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the that the filing of the civil case was a ploy to delay the resolution of the
criminal cases. Petitioner filed the civil case three years after the
institution of the criminal charges against him. Apparently, the civil
action was instituted as an afterthought to delay the proceedings in GANCAYCO, J.:
the criminal cases.
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction,
Petitioner's claim of overpayment to respondent may be raised as a the question for the resolution of the Court is whether or not a
defense during the trial of the cases for violation of Batas Pambansa criminal case for bigamy pending before the Court of First Itance of
Bilang 22 charged against him. The civil action for recovery of civil Manila should be suspended in view of a civil case for annulment of
liability is impliedly instituted with the filing of the criminal marriage pending before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court
action.19 Hence, petitioner may invoke all defenses pertaining to his on the ground that the latter constitutes a prejudicial question. The
civil liability in the criminal action.20 respondent judge ruled in the negative. We sustain him.

The Fallo The pertinent facts as set forth in the records follow. On January 23,
1979, the City Fiscal of Manila acting thru Assistant City Fiscal
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby DISMISSES the petition for lack of Amado N. Cantor filed an information for bigamy against herein
merit. The Court directs the Regional Trial Court, Manila to proceed petitioner, Leonilo C. Donato with the Court of First Instance of
with the trial of the criminal cases against petitioner with all judicious Manila, docketed as Criminal Case No. 43554 and assigned to
dispatch in accordance with the Speedy Trial Act of 1998.21 Branch XXXII of said court. The information was filed based on the
complaint of private respondent Paz B. Abayan.
No costs.
On September 28, 1979, before the petitioner's arraignment, private
SO ORDERED. respondent filed with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of
Manila a civil action for declaration of nullity of her marriage with
petitioner contracted on September 26, 1978, which action was
G.R. No. L-53642 April 15, 1988
docketed as Civil Case No. E-02627. Said civil case was based on
the ground that private respondent consented to entering into the
LEONILO C. DONATO, petitioners,  marriage, which was petitioner Donato's second one, since she had
vs. no previous knowledge that petitioner was already married to a
HON. ARTEMON D. LUNA, PRESIDING JUDGE, COURT OF certain Rosalinda R. Maluping on June 30, 1978. Petitioner Donato's
FIRST INSTANCE OF MANIIA, BRANCH XXXII HON. JOSE answer in the civil case for nullity interposed the defense that his
FLAMINIANO, CITY FISCAL OF MANILA; PAZ B. second marriage was void since it was solemnized without a
ABAYAN, respondents. marriage license and that force, violence, intimidation and undue
influence were employed by private respondent to obtain petitioner's
Leopoldo P. Dela Rosa for petitioner. consent to the marriage. Prior to the solemnization of the subsequent
or second marriage, petitioner and private respondent had lived
Emiterio C. Manibog for private respondent. together and deported themselves as husband and wife without the
benefit of wedlock for a period of at least five years as evidenced by
City Fiscal of Manila for public respondent. a joint affidavit executed by them on September 26, 1978, for which
reason, the requisite marriage license was dispensed with pursuant
to Article 76 of the New Civil Code pertaining to marriages of would be determinative juris et de jure  of the guilt or innocence of the
exceptional character. accused in a criminal case.5

Prior to the date set for the trial on the merits of Criminal Case No. The requisites of a prejudicial question do not obtain in the case at
43554, petitioner filed a motion to suspend the proceedings of said bar. It must be noted that the issue before the Juvenile and Domestic
case contending that Civil Case No. E-02627 seeking the annulment Relations Court touching upon the nullity of the second marriage is
of his second marriage filed by private respondent raises a not determinative of petitioner Donato's guilt or innocence in the
prejudicial question which must first be determined or decided before crime of bigamy. Furthermore, it was petitioner's second wife, the
the criminal case can proceed. herein private respondent Paz B. Abayan who filed the complaint for
annulment of the second marriage on the ground that her consent
In an order dated April 7, 1980. Hon. Artemon D. Luna denied the was obtained through deceit.
motion to suspend the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 43554 for
bigamy. Respondent judge's basis for denial is the ruling laid down in Petitioner Donato raised the argument that the second marriage
the case of Landicho vs. Relova. 1 The order further directed that the should have been declared null and void on the ground of force,
proceedings in the criminal case can proceed as scheduled. threats and intimidation allegedly employed against him by private
respondent only sometime later when he was required to answer the
A motion for reconsideration was flied by herein petitioner thru civil action for anulment of the second marriage. The doctrine
counsel citing as one of his grounds for suspension of proceedings elucidated upon by the case of Landicho vs. Relova 6 may be applied
the ruling laid down by this Court in the case of De la Cruz vs. to the present case. Said case states that:
Ejercito 2 which was a much later case than that cited by respondent
judge in his order of denial. The mere fact that there are actions to annul the
marriages entered into by the accused in a bigamy
The motion for reconsideration of the said order was likewise denied case does not mean that "prejudicial questions" are
in an order dated April 14, 1980, for lack of merit. Hence, the present automatically raised in civil actions as to warrant the
petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction. suspension of the case. In order that the case of
annulment of marriage be considered a prejudicial
question to the bigamy case against the accused, it
A prejudicial question has been defined to be one which arises in a
must be shown that the petitioner's consent to such
case, the resolution of which question is a logical antecedent of the
marriage must be the one that was obtained by
issue involved in said case, and the cognizance of which pertains to
means of duress, force and intimidation to show that
another tribunal.3 It is one based on a fact distinct and separate from
his act in the second marriage must be involuntary
the crime but so intimately connected with it that it determines the
and cannot be the basis of his conviction for the
guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal
crime of bigamy. The situation in the present case is
action, it must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately
markedly different. At the time the petitioner was
related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based
indicted for bigamy on February 27, 1963, the fact
but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil
that two marriage ceremonies had been contracted
case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be
appeared to be indisputable. And it was the second
determined. 4 A prejudicial question usually comes into play in a
spouse, not the petitioner who filed the action for
situation where a civil action and a criminal action may proceed,
nullity on the ground of force, threats and
because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved
intimidation. And it was only on June 15, 1963, that
petitioner, as defendant in the civil action, filed a accused in the criminal case. In the present case, there is as yet no
third-party complaint against the first spouse alleging such judgment in the civil case.
that his marriage with her should be declared null
and void on the ground of force, threats and Pursuant to the doctrine discussed in Landicho vs. Relova, petitioner
intimidation. Assuming that the first marriage was Donato cannot apply the rule on prejudicial questions since a case
null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner, the for annulment of marriage can be considered as a prejudicial
fact would not be material to the outcome of the question to the bigamy case against the accused only if it is proved
case. Parties to the marriage should not be that the petitioner's consent to such marriage was obtained by
permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for the means of duress, violence and intimidation in order to establish that
same must be submitted to the judgment of the his act in the subsequent marriage was an involuntary one and as
competent courts and only when the nullity of the such the same cannot be the basis for conviction. The preceding
marriage is so declared can it be held as void, and elements do not exist in the case at bar.
so long as there is no such declaration the
presumption is that the marriage exists. Therefore, Obviously, petitioner merely raised the issue of prejudicial question
he who contracts a second marriage before the to evade the prosecution of the criminal case. The records reveal
judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage that prior to petitioner's second marriage on September 26, 1978, he
assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy. had been living with private respondent Paz B. Abayan as husband
The lower court therefore, has not abused much less and wife for more than five years without the benefit of marriage.
gravely abused, its discretion in failing to suspend Thus, petitioner's averments that his consent was obtained by private
the hearing as sought by petitioner. respondent through force, violence, intimidation and undue influence
in entering a subsequent marriage is belled by the fact that both
In the case at bar, petitioner has not even sufficiently shown that his petitioner and private respondent executed an affidavit which stated
consent to the second marriage has been obtained by the use of that they had lived together as husband and wife without benefit of
threats, force and intimidation. marriage for five years, one month and one day until their marital
union was formally ratified by the second marriage and that it was
Petitioner calls the attention of this Court to the fact that the case of private respondent who eventually filed the civil action for nullity.
De la Cruz vs. Ejercito is a later case and as such it should be the
one applied to the case at bar. We cannot agree. The situation in the Another event which militates against petitioner's contentions is the
case at bar is markedly different. In the aforecited case it was fact hat it was only when Civil Case No. E-02627 was filed on
accused Milagros dela Cruz who was charged with bigamy for having September 28, 1979, or more than the lapse of one year from the
contracted a second marriage while a previous one existed. solemnization of the second marriage that petitioner came up with
Likewise, Milagros dela Cruz was also the one who filed an action for the story that his consent to the marriage was secured through the
annulment on the ground of duress, as contra-distinguished from the use of force, violence, intimidation and undue influence. Petitioner
present case wherein it was private respondent Paz B. Abayan, also continued to live with private respondent until November 1978,
petitioner's second wife, who filed a complaint for annulment of the when the latter left their abode upon learning that Leonilo Donato
second marriage on the ground that her consent was obtained was already previously married.
through deceit since she was not aware that petitioner's marriage
was still subsisting. Moreover, in De la Cruz, a judgment was already In the light of the preceding factual circumstances, it can be seen
rendered in the civil case that the second marriage of De la Cruz was that the respondent Judge did not err in his earlier order. There is no
null and void, thus determinative of the guilt or innocence of the
pivotal issue that must be pre-emptively resolved in Civil Case No. E- After earnest efforts, Narcisa found Salvador in Quezon City
02627 before proceedings in the criminal action for bigamy can be cohabiting with Fe Corazon Plato. She also discovered that on
undertaken. January 10, 1989, Salvador contracted a second marriage with a
certain Zenaida Biñas before Judge Lilian Dinulos Panontongan in
Accordingly, there being no prejudicial question shown to exit the San Mateo, Rizal.3
order of denial issued by the respondent judge dated April 14, 1980
should be sustained. On January 19, 1995, an annulment case was filed by Salvador
against Narcisa.4 On May 18, 1995, a case for bigamy was filed by
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby Narcisa against Salvador and Zenaida.5
DISMISSED for lack of merit. We make no pronouncement as to
costs. Salvador admitted that he first married Zenaida on December 24,
1955 before a municipal trial court judge in Concepcion, Iloilo and
SO ORDERED. has four children with her prior to their separation in 1966. It
appeared however that there was no evidence of their 1955 marriage
so he and Zenaida remarried on January 10, 1989, upon the request
G.R. No. 159218             March 30, 2004
of their son for the purpose of complying with the requirements for
his commission in the military.
SALVADOR S. ABUNADO and ZENAIDA BIÑAS
ABUNADO, Petitioners, 
On May 18, 2001, the trial court convicted petitioner Salvador
vs.
Abunado of bigamy and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment of six
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Responden
(6) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1)
day, as maximum. Petitioner Zenaida Biñas was acquitted for
DECISION insufficiency of evidence.6

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the


decision of the trial court, as follows:
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse and set aside
the decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 26135 which WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is hereby MODIFIED as
affirmed with modification the decision of the Regional Trial Court, to the penalty imposed but AFFIRMED in all other respects.
Branch 77, San Mateo, Rizal in Criminal Case No. 2803 convicting Appreciating the mitigating circumstance that accused is 76 years of
petitioner Salvador S. Abunado of bigamy. age and applying the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law,
the appellant is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison
The records show that on September 18, 1967, Salvador married term of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision
Narcisa Arceño at the Manila City Hall before Rev. Pedro correccional as Minimum to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision
Tiangco.2 In 1988 Narcisa left for Japan to work but returned to the mayor as Maximum. No costs.
Philippines in 1992, when she learned that her husband was having
an extra-marital affair and has left their conjugal home. SO ORDERED.7

Petitioner is now before us on petition for review.


First,  he argues that the Information was defective as it stated that Abunado on January 10, 1989. Petitioner’s submission, therefore,
the bigamous marriage was contracted in 1995 when in fact it should that the information was defective is untenable.
have been 1989.
The general rule is that a defective information cannot support a
Indeed, an accused has the right to be informed of the nature and judgment of conviction unless the defect was cured by evidence
cause of the accusation against him.8 It is required that the acts and during the trial and no objection appears to have been raised.12 It
omissions complained of as constituting the offense must be alleged should be remembered that bigamy can be successfully prosecuted
in the Information.9 provided all its elements concur – two of which are a previous
marriage and a subsequent marriage which possesses all the
The real nature of the crime charged is determined by the facts requisites for validity.13 All of these have been sufficiently established
alleged in the Information and not by the title or designation of the by the prosecution during the trial. Notably, petitioner failed to object
offense contained in the caption of the Information. It is fundamental to the alleged defect in the Information during the trial and only
that every element of which the offense is comprised must be alleged raised the same for the first time on appeal before the Court of
in the Information. What facts and circumstances are necessary to Appeals.
be alleged in the Information must be determined by reference to the
definition and essential elements of the specific crimes.10 Second,  petitioner argues that Narcisa consented to his marriage to
Zenaida, which had the effect of absolving him of criminal liability.
The question, therefore, is whether petitioner has been sufficiently
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, In this regard, we agree with the Court of Appeals when it ruled, thus:
namely, that he contracted a subsequent marriage with another
woman while his first marriage was subsisting. x x x, while he claims that there was condonation on the part of
complainant when he entered into a bigamous marriage, the same
The information against petitioner alleges: was likewise not established by clear and convincing evidence. But
then, a pardon by the offended party does not extinguish criminal
That in or about and sometime in the month of January, 1995 at the action considering that a crime is committed against the State and
Municipality of San Mateo, Rizal place (sic) within the jurisdiction of the crime of Bigamy is a public offense which can be denounced not
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, having been legally only by the person affected thereby but even by a civic-spirited
married to complainant Narcisa Abunado on September 16, 1967 citizen who may come to know the same.14
which has not been legally dissolved, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously contract a subsequent marriage to Third, petitioner claims that his petition for annulment/declaration of
Zenaida Biñas Abunado on January 10, 1989which has all the nullity of marriage was a prejudicial question, hence, the proceedings
essential requisites of a valid marriage. in the bigamy case should have been suspended during the
pendency of the annulment case. Petitioner, in fact, eventually
CONTRARY TO LAW.11 obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Narcisa on
October 29, 1999.15
The statement in the information that the crime was committed "in or
about and sometime in the month of January, 1995," was an obvious A prejudicial question has been defined as one based on a fact
typographical error, for the same information clearly states that distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with
petitioner contracted a subsequent marriage to Zenaida Biñas it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to
suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that said case The penalty next lower would be based on the penalty prescribed by
involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal the Code for the offense, without first considering any modifying
prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the circumstance attendant to the commission of the crime. The
issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the determination of the minimum penalty is left by law to the sound
accused would necessarily be determined. The rationale behind the discretion of the court and it can be anywhere within the range of the
principle of suspending a criminal case in view of a prejudicial penalty next lower without any reference to the periods into which it
question is to avoid two conflicting decisions.16 might be subdivided. The modifying circumstances are considered
only in the imposition of the maximum term of the indeterminate
The subsequent judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage sentence.20
was immaterial because prior to the declaration of nullity, the crime
had already been consummated. Moreover, petitioner’s assertion In light of the fact that petitioner is more than 70 years of
would only delay the prosecution of bigamy cases considering that age,21 which is a mitigating circumstance under Article 13, paragraph
an accused could simply file a petition to declare his previous 2 of the Revised Penal Code, the maximum term of the
marriage void and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial indeterminate sentence should be taken from prision mayor in its
question in the criminal case. We cannot allow that.17 minimum period which ranges from six (6) years and one (1) day to
eight (8) years, while the minimum term should be taken from prision
The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioner’s marriage correccional in any of its periods which ranges from six (6) months
to Narcisa had no bearing upon the determination of petitioner’s and one (1) day to six (6) years.
innocence or guilt in the criminal case for bigamy, because all that is
required for the charge of bigamy to prosper is that the first marriage Therefore, the penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals, i.e., two (2)
be subsisting at the time the second marriage is contracted.18 years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as
minimum, to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as
Thus, under the law, a marriage, even one which is void or voidable, maximum, is proper.
shall be deemed valid until declared otherwise in a judicial
proceeding.19 In this case, even if petitioner eventually obtained a WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Court of
declaration that his first marriage was void ab initio, the point is, both Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 26135, finding petitioner Salvador S.
the first and the second marriage were subsisting before the first Abunado guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of bigamy, and
marriage was annulled. sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years,
four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum,
Finally, petitioner claims that the penalty imposed on him was to six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum, is
improper. AFFIRMED.

Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code imposes the penalty of prision Costs de oficio.
mayor for bigamy. Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the court
shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate penalty, the SO ORDERED.
maximum term of which shall be that which, in view of the attending
circumstances, could be properly imposed under the Revised Penal G.R. No. 184861               June 30, 2009
Code, and the minimum term of which shall be within the range of
the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense.
DREAMWORK CONSTRUCTION, INC., Petitioner,  Thereafter, on July 25, 2007, private respondent filed a Motion to
vs. Suspend Proceedings dated July 24, 20076 in Criminal Case Nos.
CLEOFE S. JANIOLA and HON. ARTHUR A. 55554-61, alleging that the civil and criminal cases involved facts and
FAMINI, Respondents. issues similar or intimately related such that in the resolution of the
issues in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would
DECISION necessarily be determined. In other words, private respondent
claimed that the civil case posed a prejudicial question as against the
criminal cases.
VELASCO, JR., J.:

Petitioner opposed the suspension of the proceedings in the criminal


The Case
cases in an undated Comment/Opposition to Accused’s Motion to
Suspend Proceedings based on Prejudicial Question7 on the grounds
Petitioner Dreamwork Construction, Inc. seeks the reversal of the that: (1) there is no prejudicial question in this case as the rescission
August 26, 2008 Decision1 in SCA No. 08-0005 of the Regional Trial of the contract upon which the bouncing checks were issued is a
Court (RTC), Branch 253 in Las Piñas City. The Decision affirmed separate and distinct issue from the issue of whether private
the Orders dated October 16, 20072 and March 12, 20083 in Criminal respondent violated BP 22; and (2) Section 7, Rule 111 of the Rules
Case Nos. 55554-61 issued by the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC), of Court states that one of the elements of a prejudicial question is
Branch 79 in Las Piñas City. that "the previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or
intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent criminal
The Facts action"; thus, this element is missing in this case, the criminal case
having preceded the civil case.
On October 18, 2004, petitioner, through its President, Roberto S.
Concepcion, and Vice-President for Finance and Marketing, Later, the MTC issued its Order dated October 16, 2007, granting the
Normandy P. Amora, filed a Complaint Affidavit dated October 5, Motion to Suspend Proceedings, and reasoned that:
20044 for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 (BP 22) against
private respondent Cleofe S. Janiola with the Office of the City Should the trial court declare the rescission of contract and the
Prosecutor of Las Piñas City. The case was docketed as I.S. No. 04- nullification of the checks issued as the same are without
2526-33. Correspondingly, petitioner filed a criminal information for consideration, then the instant criminal cases for alleged violation of
violation of BP 22 against private respondent with the MTC on BP 22 must be dismissed. The belated filing of the civil case by the
February 2, 2005 docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 55554-61, entitled herein accused did not detract from the correctness of her cause,
People of the Philippines v. Cleofe S. Janiola. since a motion for suspension of a criminal action may be filed at any
time before the prosecution rests (Section 6, Rule 111, Revised
On September 20, 2006, private respondent, joined by her husband, Rules of Court).8
instituted a civil complaint against petitioner by filing a Complaint
dated August 20065 for the rescission of an alleged construction In an Order dated March 12, 2008,9 the MTC denied petitioner’s
agreement between the parties, as well as for damages. The case Motion for Reconsideration dated November 29, 2007.
was filed with the RTC, Branch 197 in Las Piñas City and docketed
as Civil Case No. LP-06-0197. Notably, the checks, subject of the
Petitioner appealed the Orders to the RTC with a Petition dated May
criminal cases before the MTC, were issued in consideration of the
13, 2008. Thereafter, the RTC issued the assailed decision dated
construction agreement.
August 26, 2008, denying the petition. On the issue of the existence issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal
of a prejudicial question, the RTC ruled: action; and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or
not the criminal action may proceed.
Additionally, it must be stressed that the requirement of a
"previously" filed civil case is intended merely to obviate delays in the Thus, the Court has held in numerous cases12 that the elements of a
conduct of the criminal proceedings. Incidentally, no clear evidence prejudicial question, as stated in the above-quoted provision and in
of any intent to delay by private respondent was shown. The criminal Beltran v. People,13 are:
proceedings are still in their initial stages when the civil action was
instituted. And, the fact that the civil action was filed after the criminal The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid
action was instituted does not render the issues in the civil action any two conflicting decisions. It has two essential elements: (a) the civil
less prejudicial in character.10 action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue
raised in the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue
Hence, we have this petition under Rule 45. determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.

The Issue On December 1, 2000, the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure,


however, became effective and the above provision was amended by
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO SERIOUSLY ERRED IN Sec. 7 of Rule 111, which applies here and now provides:
NOT PERCEIVING GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION ON THE
PART OF THE INFERIOR COURT, WHEN THE LATTER RULED SEC. 7. Elements of prejudicial question.—The elements of a
TO SUSPEND PROCEEDINGS IN CRIM. CASE NOS. 55554-61 ON prejudicial question are: (a) the previously instituted civil action
THE BASIS OF "PREJUDICIAL QUESTION" IN CIVIL CASE NO. involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in
LP-06-0197.11 the subsequent criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue
determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
The Court’s Ruling (Emphasis supplied.)

This petition must be granted. Petitioner interprets Sec. 7(a) to mean that in order for a civil case to
create a prejudicial question and, thus, suspend a criminal case, it
must first be established that the civil case was filed previous to the
The Civil Action Must Precede the Filing of the
filing of the criminal case. This, petitioner argues, is specifically to
guard against the situation wherein a party would belatedly file a civil
Criminal Action for a Prejudicial Question to Exist action that is related to a pending criminal action in order to delay the
proceedings in the latter.
Under the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended by
Supreme Court Resolutions dated June 17, 1988 and July 7, 1988, On the other hand, private respondent cites Article 36 of the Civil
the elements of a prejudicial question are contained in Rule 111, Code which provides:
Sec. 5, which states:
Art. 36. Pre-judicial questions which must be decided before any
SEC. 5. Elements of prejudicial question. — The two (2) essential criminal prosecution may be instituted or may proceed, shall be
elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the civil action involves an governed by rules of court which the Supreme Court shall
promulgate and which shall not be in conflict with the provisions of prosecutor or the court conducting the preliminary investigation.
this Code. (Emphasis supplied.) When the criminal action has been filed in court for trial, the petition
to suspend shall be filed in the same criminal action at any time
Private respondent argues that the phrase "before any criminal before the prosecution rests.
prosecution may be instituted or may proceed" must be interpreted to
mean that a prejudicial question exists when the civil action is filed Sec. 7. Elements of prejudicial question. - The elements of a
either before the institution of the criminal action or during the prejudicial question are: (a) the previously instituted civil action
pendency of the criminal action. Private respondent concludes that involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in
there is an apparent conflict in the provisions of the Rules of Court the subsequent criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue
and the Civil Code in that the latter considers a civil case to have determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
presented a prejudicial question even if the criminal case preceded
the filing of the civil case. Under the amendment, a prejudicial question is understood in law as
that which must precede the criminal action and which requires a
We cannot agree with private respondent. decision before a final judgment can be rendered in the criminal
action with which said question is closely connected. The civil action
First off, it is a basic precept in statutory construction that a "change must be instituted prior to the institution of the criminal action. In this
in phraseology by amendment of a provision of law indicates a case, the Information was filed with the Sandiganbayan ahead of the
legislative intent to change the meaning of the provision from that it complaint in Civil Case No. 7160 filed by the State with the RTC in
originally had."14 In the instant case, the phrase, "previously Civil Case No. 7160. Thus, no prejudicial question exists. (Emphasis
instituted," was inserted to qualify the nature of the civil action supplied.)
involved in a prejudicial question in relation to the criminal action.
This interpretation is further buttressed by the insertion of Additionally, it is a principle in statutory construction that "a statute
"subsequent" directly before the term criminal action. There is no should be construed not only to be consistent with itself but also to
other logical explanation for the amendments except to qualify the harmonize with other laws on the same subject matter, as to form a
relationship of the civil and criminal actions, that the civil action must complete, coherent and intelligible system."16 This principle is
precede the criminal action. consistent with the maxim, interpretare et concordare leges legibus
est optimus interpretandi modus or every statute must be so
Thus, this Court ruled in Torres v. Garchitorena15 that: construed and harmonized with other statutes as to form a uniform
system of jurisprudence.171 a vv p h i l
Even if we ignored petitioners’ procedural lapse and resolved their
petition on the merits, we hold that Sandiganbayan did not abuse its In other words, every effort must be made to harmonize seemingly
discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in denying their conflicting laws. It is only when harmonization is impossible that
omnibus motion for the suspension of the proceedings pending final resort must be made to choosing which law to apply.
judgment in Civil Case No. 7160. Section 6, Rule lll of the Rules of
Criminal Procedure, as amended, reads: In the instant case, Art. 36 of the Civil Code and Sec. 7 of Rule 111
of the Rules of Court are susceptible of an interpretation that would
Sec. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question. - A petition for harmonize both provisions of law. The phrase "previously instituted
suspension of the criminal action based upon the pendency of a civil action" in Sec. 7 of Rule 111 is plainly worded and is not
prejudicial question in a civil action may be filed in the office of the susceptible of alternative interpretations. The clause "before any
criminal prosecution may be instituted or may proceed" in Art. 36 of institution of the criminal charges against him. Apparently, the civil
the Civil Code may, however, be interpreted to mean that the motion action was instituted as an afterthought to delay the proceedings in
to suspend the criminal action may be filed during the preliminary the criminal cases.19
investigation with the public prosecutor or court conducting the
investigation, or during the trial with the court hearing the case. Here, the civil case was filed two (2) years after the institution of the
criminal complaint and from the time that private respondent
This interpretation would harmonize Art. 36 of the Civil Code with allegedly withdrew its equipment from the job site. Also, it is worth
Sec. 7 of Rule 111 of the Rules of Court but also with Sec. 6 of Rule noting that the civil case was instituted more than two and a half (2
111 of the Civil Code, which provides for the situations when the ½) years from the time that private respondent allegedly stopped
motion to suspend the criminal action during the preliminary construction of the proposed building for no valid reason. More
investigation or during the trial may be filed. Sec. 6 provides: importantly, the civil case praying for the rescission of the
construction agreement for lack of consideration was filed more than
SEC. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question.—A petition for three (3) years from the execution of the construction agreement.
suspension of the criminal action based upon the pendency of a
prejudicial question in a civil action may be filed in the office of the Evidently, as in Sabandal, the circumstances surrounding the filing of
prosecutor or the court conducting the preliminary investigation. the cases involved here show that the filing of the civil action was a
When the criminal action has been filed in court for trial, the petition mere afterthought on the part of private respondent and interposed
to suspend shall be filed in the same criminal action at any time for delay. And as correctly argued by petitioner, it is this scenario that
before the prosecution rests. Sec. 7 of Rule 111 of the Rules of Court seeks to prevent. Thus,
private respondent’s positions cannot be left to stand.
Thus, under the principles of statutory construction, it is this
interpretation of Art. 36 of the Civil Code that should govern in order The Resolution of the Civil Case Is Not 
to give effect to all the relevant provisions of law. Determinative of the Prosecution of the Criminal Action

It bears pointing out that the circumstances present in the instant In any event, even if the civil case here was instituted prior to the
case indicate that the filing of the civil action and the subsequent criminal action, there is, still, no prejudicial question to speak of that
move to suspend the criminal proceedings by reason of the presence would justify the suspension of the proceedings in the criminal case.
of a prejudicial question were a mere afterthought and instituted to
delay the criminal proceedings. To reiterate, the elements of a prejudicial question under Sec. 7 of
Rule 111 of the Rules of Court are: (1) the previously instituted civil
In Sabandal v. Tongco,18 we found no prejudicial question existed action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue
involving a civil action for specific performance, overpayment, and raised in the subsequent criminal action; and (2) the resolution of
damages, and a criminal complaint for BP 22, as the resolution of the such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may
civil action would not determine the guilt or innocence of the accused proceed.
in the criminal case. In resolving the case, we said:
Petitioner argues that the second element of a prejudicial question,
Furthermore, the peculiar circumstances of the case clearly indicate as provided in Sec. 7 of Rule 111 of the Rules, is absent in this case.
that the filing of the civil case was a ploy to delay the resolution of the Thus, such rule cannot apply to the present controversy.
criminal cases. Petitioner filed the civil case three years after the
Private respondent, on the other hand, claims that if the construction and commercial value of checks as currency substitutes, and bring
agreement between the parties is declared null and void for want of havoc in trade and in banking communities. The clear intention of the
consideration, the checks issued in consideration of such contract framers of B.P. 22 is to make the mere act of issuing a worthless
would become mere scraps of paper and cannot be the basis of a check malum prohibitum.
criminal prosecution.
Lee v. Court of Appeals23 is even more poignant. In that case, we
We find for petitioner. ruled that the issue of lack of valuable consideration for the issuance
of checks which were later on dishonored for insufficient funds is
It must be remembered that the elements of the crime punishable immaterial to the success of a prosecution for violation of BP 22, to
under BP 22 are as follows: wit:

(1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply Third issue. Whether or not the check was issued on account or for
for account or for value; value.

(2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the Petitioner’s claim is not feasible. We have held that upon issuance of
time of issue there are no sufficient funds in or credit with the a check, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is presumed
drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its that the same was issued for valuable consideration. Valuable
presentment; and consideration, in turn, may consist either in some right, interest, profit
or benefit accruing to the party who makes the contract, or some
forbearance, detriment, loss or some responsibility, to act, or labor,
(3) the subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee
or service given, suffered or undertaken by the other side. It is an
bank for insufficiency of funds or credit, or dishonor for the
obligation to do, or not to do in favor of the party who makes the
same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause,
contract, such as the maker or indorser.
ordered the bank to stop payment.20

In this case, petitioner himself testified that he signed several checks


Undeniably, the fact that there exists a valid contract or agreement to
in blank, the subject check included, in exchange for 2.5% interest
support the issuance of the check/s or that the checks were issued
from the proceeds of loans that will be made from said account. This
for valuable consideration does not make up the elements of the
is a valuable consideration for which the check was issued. That
crime. Thus, this Court has held in a long line of cases21 that the
there was neither a pre-existing obligation nor an obligation incurred
agreement surrounding the issuance of dishonored checks is
on the part of petitioner when the subject check was given by
irrelevant to the prosecution for violation of BP 22. In Mejia v.
Bautista to private complainant on July 24, 1993 because petitioner
People,22 we ruled:
was no longer connected with Unlad or Bautista starting July 1989,
cannot be given merit since, as earlier discussed, petitioner failed to
It must be emphasized that the gravamen of the offense charge is adequately prove that he has severed his relationship with Bautista
the issuance of a bad check. The purpose for which the check was or Unlad.
issued, the terms and conditions relating to its issuance, or any
agreement surrounding such issuance are irrelevant to the
At any rate, we have held that what the law punishes is the mere act
prosecution and conviction of petitioner. To determine the reason for
of issuing a bouncing check, not the purpose for which it was issued
which checks are issued, or the terms and conditions for their
nor the terms and conditions relating to its issuance. This is because
issuance, will greatly erode the faith the public reposes in the stability
the thrust of the law is to prohibit the making of worthless checks and The Case
putting them into circulation.24 (Emphasis supplied.)
Before the Court is a petition for review1 assailing the Decision2 of
Verily, even if the trial court in the civil case declares that the the Court of Appeals, promulgated on 20 March 2006, in CA-G.R. SP
construction agreement between the parties is void for lack of No. 91867.
consideration, this would not affect the prosecution of private
respondent in the criminal case. The fact of the matter is that private The Antecedent Facts
respondent indeed issued checks which were subsequently
dishonored for insufficient funds. It is this fact that is subject of The facts are stated in the Court of Appeals’ decision:
prosecution under BP 22.lawphil.net
On 25 October 2004, Maria Chrysantine Pimentel y Lacap (private
Therefore, it is clear that the second element required for the respondent) filed an action for frustrated parricide against Joselito R.
existence of a prejudicial question, that the resolution of the issue in Pimentel (petitioner), docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415,
the civil action would determine whether the criminal action may before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, which was raffled to
proceed, is absent in the instant case. Thus, no prejudicial question Branch 223 (RTC Quezon City).
exists and the rules on it are inapplicable to the case before us.
On 7 February 2005, petitioner received summons to appear before
WHEREFORE, we GRANT this petition. We hereby REVERSE and the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City, Branch 72 (RTC Antipolo)
SET ASIDE the August 26, 2008 Decision in SCA No. 08-0005 of the for the pre-trial and trial of Civil Case No. 04-7392 (Maria
RTC, Branch 253 in Las Piñas City and the Orders dated October Chrysantine Lorenza L. Pimentel v. Joselito Pimentel) for Declaration
16, 2007 and March 12, 2008 in Criminal Case Nos. 55554-61 of the of Nullity of Marriage under Section 36 of the Family Code on the
MTC, Branch 79 in Las Piñas City. We order the MTC to continue ground of psychological incapacity.
with the proceedings in Criminal Case Nos. 55554-61 with dispatch.
On 11 February 2005, petitioner filed an urgent motion to suspend
No costs. the proceedings before the RTC Quezon City on the ground of the
existence of a prejudicial question. Petitioner asserted that since the
SO ORDERED. relationship between the offender and the victim is a key element in
parricide, the outcome of Civil Case No. 04-7392 would have a
G.R. No. 172060               September 13, 2010 bearing in the criminal case filed against him before the RTC Quezon
City.
JOSELITO R. PIMENTEL, Petitioner, 
vs. The Decision of the Trial Court
MARIA CHRYSANTINE L. PIMENTEL and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondents. The RTC Quezon City issued an Order dated 13 May 20053 holding
that the pendency of the case before the RTC Antipolo is not a
DECISION prejudicial question that warrants the suspension of the criminal case
before it. The RTC Quezon City held that the issues in Criminal Case
CARPIO, J.: No. Q-04-130415 are the injuries sustained by respondent and
whether the case could be tried even if the validity of petitioner’s The Issue
marriage with respondent is in question. The RTC Quezon City ruled:
The only issue in this case is whether the resolution of the action for
WHEREFORE, on the basis of the foregoing, the Motion to Suspend annulment of marriage is a prejudicial question that warrants the
Proceedings On the [Ground] of the Existence of a Prejudicial suspension of the criminal case for frustrated parricide against
Question is, for lack of merit, DENIED. petitioner.

SO ORDERED.4 The Ruling of this Court

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 22 August 2005 The petition has no merit.
Order,5 the RTC Quezon City denied the motion.
Civil Case Must be Instituted
Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with application for a writ of Before the Criminal Case
preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order before the
Court of Appeals, assailing the 13 May 2005 and 22 August 2005 Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal
Orders of the RTC Quezon City. Procedure6 provides:

The Decision of the Court of Appeals Section 7. Elements of Prejudicial Question. - The elements of a
prejudicial question are: (a) the previously instituted civil action
In its 20 March 2006 Decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed the involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in
petition. The Court of Appeals ruled that in the criminal case for the subsequent criminal action and (b) the resolution of such issue
frustrated parricide, the issue is whether the offender commenced determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
the commission of the crime of parricide directly by overt acts and did
not perform all the acts of execution by reason of some cause or The rule is clear that the civil action must be instituted first before the
accident other than his own spontaneous desistance. On the other filing of the criminal action. In this case, the Information7 for
hand, the issue in the civil action for annulment of marriage is Frustrated Parricide was dated 30 August 2004. It was raffled to RTC
whether petitioner is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the Quezon City on 25 October 2004 as per the stamped date of receipt
essential marital obligations. The Court of Appeals ruled that even if on the Information. The RTC Quezon City set Criminal Case No. Q-
the marriage between petitioner and respondent would be declared 04-130415 for pre-trial and trial on 14 February 2005. Petitioner was
void, it would be immaterial to the criminal case because prior to the served summons in Civil Case No. 04-7392 on 7 February
declaration of nullity, the alleged acts constituting the crime of 2005.8 Respondent’s petition9 in Civil Case No. 04-7392 was dated 4
frustrated parricide had already been committed. The Court of November 2004 and was filed on 5 November 2004. Clearly, the civil
Appeals ruled that all that is required for the charge of frustrated case for annulment was filed after the filing of the criminal case for
parricide is that at the time of the commission of the crime, the frustrated parricide. As such, the requirement of Section 7, Rule 111
marriage is still subsisting. of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure was not met since the civil
action was filed subsequent to the filing of the criminal action.
Petitioner filed a petition for review before this Court assailing the
Court of Appeals’ decision.
Annulment of Marriage is not a Prejudicial Question case, since petitioner was charged with frustrated parricide, the issue
in Criminal Case for Parricide is whether he performed all the acts of execution which would have
killed respondent as a consequence but which, nevertheless, did not
Further, the resolution of the civil action is not a prejudicial question produce it by reason of causes independent of petitioner’s will.16 At
that would warrant the suspension of the criminal action. the time of the commission of the alleged crime, petitioner and
respondent were married. The subsequent dissolution of their
marriage, in case the petition in Civil Case No. 04-7392 is granted,
There is a prejudicial question when a civil action and a criminal
will have no effect on the alleged crime that was committed at the
action are both pending, and there exists in the civil action an issue
time of the subsistence of the marriage. In short, even if the marriage
which must be preemptively resolved before the criminal action may
between petitioner and respondent is annulled, petitioner could still
proceed because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is
be held criminally liable since at the time of the commission of the
resolved would be determinative of the guilt or innocence of the
alleged crime, he was still married to respondent.1avvphi1
accused in the criminal case.10 A prejudicial question is defined as:

We cannot accept petitioner’s reliance on Tenebro v. Court of


x x x one that arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical
Appeals17 that "the judicial declaration of the nullity of a marriage on
antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of
the ground of psychological incapacity retroacts to the date of the
which pertains to another tribunal. It is a question based on a fact
celebration of the marriage insofar as the vinculum between the
distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with
spouses is concerned x x x." First, the issue in Tenebro is the effect
it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to
of the judicial declaration of nullity of a second or subsequent
suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that said case
marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity on a criminal
involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal
liability for bigamy. There was no issue of prejudicial question in that
prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the
case. Second, the Court ruled in Tenebro that "[t]here is x x x a
issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the
recognition written into the law itself that such a marriage, although
accused would necessarily be determined.11
void ab initio, may still produce legal consequences."18 In fact, the
Court declared in that case that "a declaration of the nullity of the
The relationship between the offender and the victim is a key second marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity is of
element in the crime of parricide,12 which punishes any person "who absolutely no moment insofar as the State’s penal laws are
shall kill his father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, concerned."19
or any of his ascendants or descendants, or his spouse."13 The
relationship between the offender and the victim distinguishes the
In view of the foregoing, the Court upholds the decision of the Court
crime of parricide from murder14 or homicide.15 However, the issue in
of Appeals. The trial in Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415 may proceed
the annulment of marriage is not similar or intimately related to the
as the resolution of the issue in Civil Case No. 04-7392 is not
issue in the criminal case for parricide. Further, the relationship
determinative of the guilt or innocence of petitioner in the criminal
between the offender and the victim is not determinative of the guilt
case.
or innocence of the accused.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the 20 March


The issue in the civil case for annulment of marriage under Article 36
2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91867.
of the Family Code is whether petitioner is psychologically
incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations. The
issue in parricide is whether the accused killed the victim. In this SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 166836               September 4, 2013 for which San Miguel Properties paid the full price of
₱39,122,627.00, were not delivered to San Miguel Properties.
SAN MIGUEL PROPERTIES, INC., PETITIONER, 
vs. On its part, BF Homes claimed that it withheld the delivery of the 20
SEC. HERNANDO B. PEREZ, ALBERT C. AGUIRRE, TEODORO TCTs for parcels of land purchased under the third deed of sale
B. ARCENAS, JR., MAXY S. ABAD, JAMES G. BARBERS, because Atty. Orendain had ceased to be its rehabilitation receiver at
STEPHEN N. SARINO, ENRIQUE N. ZALAMEA, JR., MARIANO M. the time of the transactions after being meanwhile replaced as
MARTIN, ORLANDO O. SAMSON, CATHERINE R. AGUIRRE, receiver by FBO Network Management, Inc. on May 17, 1989
AND ANTONIO V. AGCAOILI, RESPONDENTS. pursuant to an order from the SEC.4

DECISION BF Homes refused to deliver the 20 TCTs despite demands. Thus,


on August 15, 2000, San Miguel Properties filed a complaint-affidavit
BERSAMIN, J.: in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Las Piñas City (OCP Las
Piñas) charging respondent directors and officers of BF Homes with
non-delivery of titles in violation of Section 25, in relation to Section
The pendency of an administrative case for specific performance
39, both of Presidential Decree No. 957 (I.S. No. 00-2256).5
brought by the buyer of residential subdivision lots in the Housing
and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) to compel the seller to
deliver the transfer certificates of title (TCTs) of the fully paid lots is At the same time, San Miguel Properties sued BF Homes for specific
properly considered a ground to suspend a criminal prosecution for performance in the HLURB (HLURB Case No. REM-082400-
violation of Section 25 of Presidential Decree No. 9571 on the ground 11183),6 praying to compel BF Homes to release the 20 TCTs in its
of a prejudicial question. The administrative determination is a logical favor.
antecedent of the resolution of the criminal charges based on non-
delivery of the TCTs. In their joint counter-affidavit submitted in I.S. No. 00-
2256,7 respondent directors and officers of BF Homes refuted San
Antecedents Miguel Properties’ assertions by contending that: (a) San Miguel
Properties’ claim was not legally demandable because Atty.
Orendain did not have the authority to sell the 130 lots in 1992 and
Petitioner San Miguel Properties Inc. (San Miguel Properties), a
1993 due to his having been replaced as BF Homes’ rehabilitation
domestic corporation engaged in the real estate business, purchased
receiver by the SEC on May 17, 1989; (b) the deeds of sale
in 1992, 1993 and April 1993 from B.F. Homes, Inc. (BF Homes),
conveying the lots were irregular for being undated and unnotarized;
then represented by Atty. Florencio B. Orendain (Orendain) as its
(c) the claim should have been brought to the SEC because BF
duly authorized rehabilitation receiver appointed by the Securities
Homes was under receivership; (d) in receivership cases, it was
and Exchange Commission (SEC),2 130 residential lots situated in its
essential to suspend all claims against a distressed corporation in
subdivision BF Homes Parañaque, containing a total area of 44,345
order to enable the receiver to effectively exercise its powers free
square meters for the aggregate price of ₱106,248,000.00. The
from judicial and extra-judicial interference that could unduly hinder
transactions were embodied in three separate deeds of sale.3 The
the rescue of the distressed company; and (e) the lots involved were
TCTs covering the lots bought under the first and second deeds were
under custodia legis in view of the pending receivership proceedings,
fully delivered to San Miguel Properties, but 20 TCTs covering 20 of
necessarily stripping the OCP Las Piñas of the jurisdiction to proceed
the 41 parcels of land with a total area of 15,565 square meters
in the action.
purchased under the third deed of sale, executed in April 1993 and
On October 10, 2000, San Miguel Properties filed a motion to Established jurisprudence supports the position taken by the City
suspend proceedings in the OCP Las Piñas,8 citing the pendency of Prosecutor concerned.
BF Homes’ receivership case in the SEC. In its comment/opposition,
BF Homes opposed the motion to suspend. In the meantime, There is no dispute that aside from the instant complaint for violation
however, the SEC terminated BF Homes’ receivership on September of PD 957, there is still pending with the Housing and Land Use
12, 2000, prompting San Miguel Properties to file on October 27, Resulatory Board (HLURB, for short) a complaint for specific
2000 a reply to BF Homes’ comment/opposition coupled with a performance where the HLURB is called upon to inquire into, and
motion to withdraw the sought suspension of proceedings due to the rule on, the validity of the sales transactions involving the lots in
intervening termination of the receivership.9 question and entered into by Atty. Orendain for and in behalf of BF
Homes.
On October 23, 2000, the OCP Las Piñas rendered its
resolution,10 dismissing San Miguel Properties’ criminal complaint for As early as in the case of Solid Homes, Inc. vs. Payawal, 177 SCRA
violation of Presidential Decree No. 957 on the ground that no action 72, the Supreme Court had ruled that the HLURB has exclusive
could be filed by or against a receiver without leave from the SEC jurisdiction over cases involving real estate business and practices
that had appointed him; that the implementation of the provisions of under PD 957. This is reiterated in the subsequent cases of Union
Presidential Decree No. 957 exclusively pertained under the Bank of the Philippines versus HLURB, G.R. [No.] 953364, June 29,
jurisdiction of the HLURB; that there existed a prejudicial question 1992 and C.T. Torres Enterprises vs. Hilionada, 191 SCRA 286.
necessitating the suspension of the criminal action until after the
issue on the liability of the distressed BF Homes was first determined The said ruling simply means that unless and until the HLURB rules
by the SEC en banc or by the HLURB; and that no prior resort to on the validity of the transactions involving the lands in question with
administrative jurisdiction had been made; that there appeared to be specific reference to the capacity of Atty. Orendain to bind BF Homes
no probable cause to indict respondents for not being the actual in the said transactions, there is as yet no basis to charge criminally
signatories in the three deeds of sale. respondents for non-delivery of the subject land titles. In other words,
complainant cannot invoke the penal provision of PD 957 until such
On February 20, 2001, the OCP Las Piñas denied San Miguel time that the HLURB shall have ruled and decided on the validity of
Properties’ motion for reconsideration filed on November 28, 2000, the transactions involving the lots in question.
holding that BF Homes’ directors and officers could not be held liable
for the non-delivery of the TCTs under Presidential Decree No. 957 WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby DENIED.
without a definite ruling on the legality of Atty. Orendain’s actions;
and that the criminal liability would attach only after BF Homes did
not comply with a directive of the HLURB directing it to deliver the SO ORDERED.12 (Emphasis supplied)
titles.11
The DOJ eventually denied San Miguel Properties’ motion for
San Miguel Properties appealed the resolutions of the OCP Las reconsideration.13
Piñas to the Department of Justice (DOJ), but the DOJ Secretary
denied the appeal on October 15, 2001, holding: Ruling of the CA

After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find no cogent Undaunted, San Miguel Properties elevated the DOJ’s resolutions to
reason to disturb the ruling of the City Prosecutor of Las Piñas City. the CA on certiorari and mandamus (C.A.-G.R. SP No. 73008),
contending that respondent DOJ Secretary had acted with grave pending determination of another case closely interrelated or
abuse in denying their appeal and in refusing to charge the directors interlinked with it.
and officers of BF Homes with the violation of Presidential Decree
No. 957. San Miguel Properties submitted the issue of whether or not It thus appears that public respondent did not act with grave abuse of
HLURB Case No. REM-082400-11183 presented a prejudicial discretion x x x when he applied the rule on prejudicial question to
question that called for the suspension of the criminal action for the instant proceedings considering that the issue on the validity of
violation of Presidential Decree No. 957. the sale transactions x x x by x x x Orendain in behalf of BF Homes,
Inc., is closely intertwined with the purported criminal culpability of
In its assailed decision promulgated on February 24, 2004 in C.A.- private respondents, as officers/directors of BF Homes, Inc., arising
G.R. SP No. 73008,14 the CA dismissed San Miguel Properties’ from their failure to deliver the titles of the parcels of land included in
petition, holding and ruling as follows: the questioned conveyance.

From the foregoing, the conclusion that may be drawn is that the rule All told, to sustain the petitioner’s theory that the result of the HLURB
on prejudicial question generally applies to civil and criminal actions proceedings is not determinative of the criminal liability of private
only. respondents under PD 957 would be to espouse an absurdity. If we
were to assume that the HLURB finds BFHI under no obligation to
However, an exception to this rule is provided in Quiambao vs. delve the subject titles, it would be highly irregular and contrary to the
Osorio cited by the respondents. In this case, an issue in an ends of justice to pursue a criminal case against private respondents
administrative case was considered a prejudicial question to the for the non-delivery of certificates of title which they are not under
resolution of a civil case which, consequently, warranted the any legal obligation to turn over in the first place. (Bold emphasis
suspension of the latter until after termination of the administrative supplied)
proceedings.
On a final note, absent grave abuse of discretion on the part of the
Quiambao vs. Osorio is not the only instance when the Supreme prosecutorial arm of the government as represented by herein public
Court relaxed the application of the rule on prejudicial question. respondent, courts will not interfere with the discretion of a public
prosecutor in prosecuting or dismissing a complaint filed before him.
A public prosecutor, by the nature of his office, is under no
In Tamin vs. CA involving two (2) civil actions, the Highest Court
compulsion to file a criminal information where no clear legal
similarly applied the rule on prejudicial question when it directed
justification has been shown, and no sufficient evidence of guilt nor
petitioner therein to put up a bond for just compensation should the
prima facie case has been established by the complaining party.
demolition of private respondents’ building proved to be illegal as a
result of a pending cadastral suit in another tribunal.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition for
Certiorari and Mandamus is hereby DENIED. The Resolutions dated
City of Pasig vs. COMELEC is yet another exception where a civil
15 October 2001 and 12 July 2002 of the Department of Justice are
action involving a boundary dispute was considered a prejudicial
AFFIRMED.
question which must be resolved prior to an administrative
proceeding for the holding of a plebiscite on the affected areas.
SO ORDERED. 15
In fact, in Vidad vs. RTC of Negros Oriental, Br. 42, it was ruled that
in the interest of good order, courts can suspend action in one case
The CA denied San Miguel Properties’ motion for reconsideration on PARCELS OF LAND TO PETITIONER, AND NOT FROM THEIR
January 18, 2005.16 NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE HLURB’S RULING IN THE
ADMINISTRATIVE CASE.
Issues
NONETHELESS, BY DECREEING THAT PETITIONER’S
Aggrieved, San Miguel Properties is now on appeal, raising the CRIMINAL COMPLAINT IS PREMATURE, BOTH THE COURT OF
following for consideration and resolution, to wit: APPEALS AND RESPONDENT SECRETARY HAD IMPLIEDLY
ADMITTED THE EXISTENCE OF SUFFICIENT PROBABLE CAUSE
AGAINST PRIVATE RESPONDENTS FOR THE CRIME
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE, SERIOUS AND
CHARGED.17
REVERSIBLE ERRORS WHEN IT DISMISSED PETITIONER’S
CERTIORARI AND MANDAMUS PETITION TO ORDER AND
DIRECT RESPONDENT SECRETARY TO INDICT RESPONDENTS It is relevant at this juncture to mention the outcome of the action for
FOR VIOLATION OF SECTION 25, PD. 957 IN THAT: specific performance and damages that San Miguel Properties
instituted in the HLURB simultaneously with its filing of the complaint
for violation of Presidential Decree No. 957. On January 25, 2002,
THE OBLIGATION OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS TO DELIVER TO
the HLURB Arbiter ruled that the HLURB was inclined to suspend the
PETITIONER THE TITLES TO 20 FULLY-PAID LOTS IS
proceedings until the SEC resolved the issue of Atty. Orendain’s
MANDATED BY SECTION 25, PD 957. IN FACT, THE OFFICE OF
authority to enter into the transactions in BF Homes’ behalf, because
THE PRESIDENT HAD DULY CONFIRMED THE SAME PER ITS
the final resolution by the SEC was a logical antecedent to the
DECISION DATED 27 JANUARY 2005 IN O.P. CASE NO. 03-E-203,
determination of the issue involved in the complaint before the
ENTITLED "SMPI V. BF HOMES, INC.".
HLURB. Upon appeal, the HLURB Board of Commissioners (HLURB
Board), citing the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, affirmed the HLURB
A FORTIORI, PRIVATE RESPONDENTS’ FAILURE AND/OR Arbiter’s decision, holding that although no prejudicial question could
REFUSAL TO DELIVER TO PETITIONER THE SUBJECT TITLES arise, strictly speaking, if one case was civil and the other
CONSTITUTES CRIMINAL OFFENSE PER SECTIONS 25 AND 39, administrative, it nonetheless opted to suspend its action on the
PD 957 FOR WHICH IT IS THE MINISTERIAL DUTY OF cases pending the final outcome of the administrative proceeding in
RESPONDENT SECRETARY TO INDICT PRIVATE the interest of good order.18
RESPONDENTS THEREFOR.
Not content with the outcome, San Miguel Properties appealed to the
IN ANY EVENT, THE HLURB CASE DOES NOT PRESENT A Office of the President (OP), arguing that the HLURB erred in
"PREJUDICIAL QUESTION" TO THE SUBJECT CRIMINAL CASE suspending the proceedings. On January 27, 2004, the OP reversed
SINCE THE FORMER INVOLVES AN ISSUE SEPARATE AND the HLURB Board’s ruling, holding thusly:
DISTINCT FROM THE ISSUE INVOLVED IN THE LATTER.
CONSEQUENTLY, THE HLURB CASE HAS NO CORRELATION,
The basic complaint in this case is one for specific performance
TIE NOR LINKAGE TO THE PRESENT CRIMINAL CASE WHICH
under Section 25 of the Presidential Decree (PD) 957 – "The
CAN PROCEED INDEPENDENTLY THEREOF.
Subdivision and Condominium Buyers’ Protective."
IN FACT, THE CRIMINAL CULPABILITY OF PRIVATE
As early as August 1987, the Supreme Court already recognized the
RESPONDENTS EMANATE FROM THEIR MALA PROHIBITA
authority of the HLURB, as successor agency of the National
NON-DELIVERY OF THE TITLES TO TWENTY (20) FULLY-PAID
Housing Authority (NHA), to regulate, pursuant to PD 957, in relation [T]he High Court has consistently ruled that the NHA or the HLURB
to PD 1344, the real estate trade, with exclusive original jurisdiction has jurisdiction over complaints arising from contracts between the
to hear and decide cases "involving specific performance of subdivision developer and the lot buyer or those aimed at compelling
contractual and statutory obligation filed by buyers of subdivision lots the subdivision developer to comply with its contractual and statutory
… against the owner, developer, dealer, broker or salesman," the obligations.
HLURB, in the exercise of its adjudicatory powers and functions,
"must interpret and apply contracts, determine the rights of the Hence, the HLURB should take jurisdiction over respondent’s
parties under these contracts and award[s] damages whenever complaint because it pertains to matters within the HLURB’s
appropriate." competence and expertise. The proceedings before the HLURB
should not be suspended.
Given its clear statutory mandate, the HLURB’s decision to await for
some forum to decide – if ever one is forthcoming – the issue on the While We sustain the Office of the President, the case must be
authority of Orendain to dispose of subject lots before it peremptorily remanded to the HLURB. This is in recognition of the doctrine of
resolves the basic complaint is unwarranted, the issues thereon primary jurisdiction. The fairest and most equitable course to take
having been joined and the respective position papers and the under the circumstances is to remand the case to the HLURB for the
evidence of the parties having been submitted. To us, it behooved proper presentation of evidence.21
the HLURB to adjudicate, with the usual dispatch, the right and
obligation of the parties in line with its own appreciation of the Did the Secretary of Justice commit grave abuse of discretion in
obtaining facts and applicable law. To borrow from Mabubha Textile upholding the dismissal of San Miguel Properties’ criminal complaint
Mills Corporation vs. Ongpin, it does not have to rely on the finding of for violation of Presidential Decree No. 957 for lack of probable
others to discharge this adjudicatory functions.19 cause and for reason of a prejudicial question?

After its motion for reconsideration was denied, BF Homes appealed The question boils down to whether the HLURB administrative case
to the CA (C.A.-G.R. SP No. 83631), raising as issues: (a) whether brought to compel the delivery of the TCTs could be a reason to
or not the HLURB had the jurisdiction to decide with finality the suspend the proceedings on the criminal complaint for the violation
question of Atty. Orendain’s authority to enter into the transaction of Section 25 of Presidential Decree No. 957 on the ground of a
with San Miguel Properties in BF Homes’ behalf, and rule on the prejudicial question.
rights and obligations of the parties to the contract; and (b) whether
or not the HLURB properly suspended the proceedings until the SEC
resolved with finality the matter regarding such authority of Atty. Ruling of the Court
Orendain.
The petition has no merit.
The CA promulgated its decision in C.A.-G.R. SP No.
83631,20 decreeing that the HLURB, not the SEC, had jurisdiction 1.
over San Miguel Properties’ complaint. It affirmed the OP’s decision
and ordered the remand of the case to the HLURB for further Action for specific performance, even if pending in the HLURB, an
proceedings on the ground that the case involved matters within the administrative agency, raises a prejudicial question BF Homes’
HLURB’s competence and expertise pursuant to the doctrine of posture that the administrative case for specific performance in the
primary jurisdiction, viz: HLURB posed a prejudicial question that must first be determined
before the criminal case for violation of Section 25 of Presidential An action for specific performance is the remedy to demand the
Decree No. 957 could be resolved is correct. exact performance of a contract in the specific form in which it was
made, or according to the precise terms agreed upon by a party
A prejudicial question is understood in law to be that which arises in bound to fulfill it.26 Evidently, before the remedy of specific
a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue performance is availed of, there must first be a breach of the
involved in the criminal case, and the cognizance of which pertains to contract.27 The remedy has its roots in Article 1191 of the Civil Code,
another tribunal. It is determinative of the criminal case, but the which reads:
jurisdiction to try and resolve it is lodged in another court or tribunal.
It is based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but is so Article 1191. The power to rescind obligations is implied in reciprocal
intimately connected with the crime that it determines the guilt or ones, in case one of the obligors should not comply with what is
innocence of the accused.22 The rationale behind the principle of incumbent upon him.
prejudicial question is to avoid conflicting decisions.23 The essential
elements of a prejudicial question are provided in Section 7, Rule The injured party may choose between the fulfillment and the
111 of the Rules of Court, to wit: (a) the previously instituted civil rescission of the obligation, with the payment of damages in either
action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue case. He may also seek rescission, even after he has chosen
raised in the subsequent criminal action, and (b) the resolution of fulfillment, if the latter should become impossible. x x x (Emphasis
such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may supplied)
proceed.
Accordingly, the injured party may choose between specific
The concept of a prejudicial question involves a civil action and a performance or rescission with damages. As presently worded,
criminal case. Yet, contrary to San Miguel Properties’ submission Article 1191 speaks of the remedy of rescission in reciprocal
that there could be no prejudicial question to speak of because no obligations within the context of Article 1124 of the former Civil Code
civil action where the prejudicial question arose was pending, the which used the term resolution. The remedy of resolution applied
action for specific performance in the HLURB raises a prejudicial only to reciprocal obligations, such that a party’s breach of the
question that sufficed to suspend the proceedings determining the contract equated to a tacit resolutory condition that entitled the
charge for the criminal violation of Section 2524of Presidential Decree injured party to rescission. The present article, as in the former one,
No. 957. This is true simply because the action for specific contemplates alternative remedies for the injured party who is
performance was an action civil in nature but could not be instituted granted the option to pursue, as principal actions, either the
elsewhere except in the HLURB, whose jurisdiction over the action rescission or the specific performance of the obligation, with payment
was exclusive and original.25 of damages in either case.28

The determination of whether the proceedings ought to be On the other hand, Presidential Decree No. 957 is a law that
suspended because of a prejudicial question rested on whether the regulates the sale of subdivision lots and condominiums in view of
facts and issues raised in the pleadings in the specific performance the increasing number of incidents wherein "real estate subdivision
case were so related with the issues raised in the criminal complaint owners, developers, operators, and/or sellers have reneged on their
for the violation of Presidential Decree No. 957, such that the representations and obligations to provide and maintain properly" the
resolution of the issues in the former would be determinative of the basic requirements and amenities, as well as of reports of alarming
question of guilt in the criminal case. An examination of the nature of magnitude of swindling and fraudulent manipulations perpetrated by
the two cases involved is thus necessary. unscrupulous subdivision and condominium sellers and
operators,29 such as failure to deliver titles to the buyers or titles free That the action for specific performance was an administrative case
from liens and encumbrances. Presidential Decree No. 957 pending in the HLURB, instead of in a court of law, was of no
authorizes the suspension and revocation of the registration and consequence at all. As earlier mentioned, the action for specific
license of the real estate subdivision owners, developers, operators, performance, although civil in nature, could be brought only in the
and/or sellers in certain instances, as well as provides the procedure HLURB. This situation conforms to the doctrine of primary
to be observed in such instances; it prescribes administrative fines jurisdiction. There has been of late a proliferation of administrative
and other penalties in case of violation of, or non-compliance with its agencies, mostly regulatory in function. It is in favor of these
provisions. agencies that the doctrine of primary jurisdiction is frequently
invoked, not to defeat the resort to the judicial adjudication of
Conformably with the foregoing, the action for specific performance controversies but to rely on the expertise, specialized skills, and
in the HLURB would determine whether or not San Miguel Properties knowledge of such agencies in their resolution. The Court has
was legally entitled to demand the delivery of the remaining 20 TCTs, observed that one thrust of the proliferation is that the interpretation
while the criminal action would decide whether or not BF Homes’ of contracts and the determination of private rights under contracts
directors and officers were criminally liable for withholding the 20 are no longer a uniquely judicial function exercisable only by the
TCTs. The resolution of the former must obviously precede that of regular courts.31
the latter, for should the HLURB hold San Miguel Properties to be not
entitled to the delivery of the 20 TCTs because Atty. Orendain did not The doctrine of primary jurisdiction has been increasingly called into
have the authority to represent BF Homes in the sale due to his play on matters demanding the special competence of administrative
receivership having been terminated by the SEC, the basis for the agencies even if such matters are at the same time within the
criminal liability for the violation of Section 25 of Presidential Decree jurisdiction of the courts. A case that requires for its determination
No. 957 would evaporate, thereby negating the need to proceed with the expertise, specialized skills, and knowledge of some
the criminal case. administrative board or commission because it involves technical
matters or intricate questions of fact, relief must first be obtained in
Worthy to note at this juncture is that a prejudicial question need not an appropriate administrative proceeding before a remedy will be
conclusively resolve the guilt or innocence of the accused. It is supplied by the courts although the matter comes within the
enough for the prejudicial question to simply test the sufficiency of jurisdiction of the courts. The application of the doctrine does not call
the allegations in the information in order to sustain the further for the dismissal of the case in the court but only for its suspension
prosecution of the criminal case. A party who raises a prejudicial until after the matters within the competence of the administrative
question is deemed to have hypothetically admitted that all the body are threshed out and determined.32
essential elements of the crime have been adequately alleged in the
information, considering that the Prosecution has not yet presented a To accord with the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, the courts cannot
single piece of evidence on the indictment or may not have rested its and will not determine a controversy involving a question within the
case. A challenge to the allegations in the information on the ground competence of an administrative tribunal, the controversy having
of prejudicial question is in effect a question on the merits of the been so placed within the special competence of the administrative
criminal charge through a non-criminal suit.30 tribunal under a regulatory scheme. In that instance, the judicial
process is suspended pending referral to the administrative body for
2. its view on the matter in dispute. Consequently, if the courts cannot
resolve a question that is within the legal competence of an
administrative body prior to the resolution of that question by the
Doctrine of primary jurisdiction is applicable
latter, especially where the question demands the exercise of sound
administrative discretion requiring the special knowledge, WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on
experience, and services of the administrative agency to ascertain February 24, 2004 by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP NO.
technical and intricate matters of fact, and a uniformity of ruling is 73008; and ORDERS petitioner to pay the costs of suit.
essential to comply with the purposes of the regulatory statute
administered, suspension or dismissal of the action is proper.33 SO ORDERED.

3. G.R. No. L-60544 May 19, 1984

Other submissions of petitioner are unwarranted ARSENIO FLORENDO, JR., MILAGROS FLORENDO and
BEATRIZ FLORENDO, petitioners, 
It is not tenable for San Miguel Properties to argue that the character vs.
of a violation of Section 25 of Presidential Decree No. 957 as malum HON. PERPETUA D. COLOMA, Presiding Judge of Branch VII,
prohibitum, by which criminal liability attached to BF Homes’ City Court of Quezon City; GAUDENCIO TOBIAS, General
directors and officers by the mere failure to deliver the TCTs, already Manager, National Housing Authority; Registrar of Deeds for
rendered the suspension unsustainable.34 The mere fact that an act Quezon City; WILLIAM R. VASQUEZ and ERLINDA
or omission was malum prohibitum did not do away with the initiative NICOLAS, respondents.
inherent in every court to avoid an absurd result by means of
rendering a reasonable interpretation and application of the Emilio A. de Peralta for petitioners.
procedural law. Indeed, the procedural law must always be given a
reasonable construction to preclude absurdity in its Byron S. Anastacio for respondent Vasquez.
application.35 Hence, a literal application of the principle governing
prejudicial questions is to be eschewed if such application would
produce unjust and absurd results or unreasonable consequences. Emilio Purunganan for respondent Nicolas.

San Miguel Properties further submits that respondents could not


validly raise the prejudicial question as a reason to suspend the
criminal proceedings because respondents had not themselves GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
initiated either the action for specific performance or the criminal
action.1âwphi1 It contends that the defense of a prejudicial question In this petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction, the petitioners
arising from the filing of a related case could only be raised by the seek the annulment of: (1) the May 20, 1975 decision of the
party who filed or initiated said related case. respondent court in Civil Case No. VII-17952 for ejectment
entitled Adela Salindon v. William Vasquez and Silverio Nicolas; (2)
The submission is unfounded. The rule on prejudicial question the August 3, 1981 writ of execution issued by the respondent court;
makes no distinction as to who is allowed to raise the defense. Ubi and (3) the March 1, 1982 order also issued by the respondent court
lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. When the law makes directing the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to annul Transfer
no distinction, we ought not to distinguish.36 Certificate of Title No. 138007 in the name of Adela Salindon and
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 239729 in the name of the
petitioners.
On July 11, 1969, Adela Salindon an awardee of a Philippine years. Like defendant Vasquez, he also questioned the jurisdiction of
Homesite and Housing Corporation (hereinafter referred to as the respondent court over the subject matter of the action and the
PHHC) lot filed a complaint for ejectment against William Vasquez qualifications of Salindon to purchase the subject parcel of land.
and Silverio Nicolas with the respondent court. The disputed
residential lot, located at Diliman, Quezon City, is more particularly Third-Party defendant PHHC admitted the sale of the disputed land
described as follows: to Adela Salindon. According to PHHC, the award of the lot to
Salindon was a valid exercise of the PHHCs powers and could not
Residential lot situated at Quezon City, Philippines, be collaterally assailed the illegal acts of the defendants could not
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 138007, ripen into legal ones; the defendants being squatters have not
in the name of the herein plaintiff, containing an area acquired any vested right over the property and that, since the
of 915.00 square meters. Designated as Lot No. 1, subject lot is not a relocation area intended for squatters, the
Block No. 101 Psd — 68808 Diliman Estate defendants can not claim preference in the award of the lot. The
Subdivision. Bounded on the SW-by Lot No. 2, Block PHHC also questioned the jurisdiction of the city court over the third
101; of the subdivision plan; on the NW-by Road Lot party complaint on the following grounds: (1) cancellation of the deed
8, Pcs-4564; on the NE by Road Lot 96; and on the of sale executed in favor of Salindon amounts to an action for
SE by Lot No. 12, Block 101; both of the subdivision rescission of contract which falls within the original and exclusive
plan. jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance; and (2) the action involves
title or possession of real property, hence the action against PHHC
In her complaint, Salindon alleged that the defendants were should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
squatters occupying her property.
After trial on the merits, the respondent court issued a decision in
Defendant William Vasquez denied his being a squatter in the favor of the defendants. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
subject parcel of land. He alleged that he had been in continuous,
open, adverse and actual possession and occupation of the lot since WHEREFORE, this Court renders judgment in favor
1950. He also questioned the city court's jurisdiction over the subject of the defendants and against the plaintiff as follows:
matter of the action stating that the facts alleged in the complaint
involved questions of title or ownership of the lot, matters outside the (1) declaring the conditional and the absolute deeds
jurisdiction of the respondent court. He further questioned the of sale executed by the PHHC in favor of the plaintiff
qualifications of Salindon to purchase the disputed lot from the Adela Salindon as null and void; and
PHHC, as she was the owner of several other registered real estate
properties and an outsider in so far as the lot was concerned. (2) ordering the PHHC to award the lot in litigation to
the defendant William Vasquez and Erlinda Nicolas
On March 12, 1971, defendant Silverio Nicolas died. He was and, upon payment by said defendants of the total
substituted by his wife Erlinda who filed an amended answer with consideration within 30 days from notice of this
third party complaint against PHHC. In his answer, Nicolas had decision, to execute the corresponding deed of
denied that he was a squatter on the lot. He alleged that lie had been absolute sale in their favor.
a possessor and occupant of a piece of residential lot located at
Malaya Avenue, continuously, openly, publicly and adverse to any On August 25, 1975 Adela Salindon appealed the aforequoted
other claimant and under concept of an owner for more than ten decision to the Court of Appeals.
On December 11, 1976, Salindon died. There was, however, no Considering the circumstances of the case, a preliminary issue
substitution of party, hence Salindon continued to be the appellant in surfaces as to the status of the decision vis-a-vis the petitioners. The
the appealed case. On March 21, 1977 the case was remanded to petitioners challenge the proceeding in the Court of Appeals after the
the city court for the retaking of testimony which could not be death of the plaintiff-appellant Adela Salindon. They are of the
considered because the stenographic notes could not be transcribed. opinion that since there was no legal representative substituted for
The deceased Salindon continued to be an adverse party. Salindon after her death, the appellate court lost its jurisdiction over
Meanwhile, after Salindon's death, her heirs settled her estate and the case and consequently, the proceedings in the said court are null
the subject lot was transferred with a new Transfer Certificate of Title and void. This argument is without merit.
to the petitioners.
There is no dispute that an ejectment case survives the death of a
On July 31, 1980 the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution ordering party. The supervening death of plaintiff-appellant Salindon did not
plaintiff-appellant Salindon to show cause why her appeal should not extinguish her civil personality (Republic v. Bagtas, 6 SCRA 242;
be dismissed. Vda. de Haberes v. Court of Appeals, 104 SCRA 534). Section 17,
Rule 3 of the Rules of Court provides:
On December 4, 1980, the Court of Appeals issued another
Resolution dismissing the appeal for having been abandoned. After a party dies and the claim is not thereby
extinguished, the court shall order upon proper
On August 3, 1981, respondent court issued a writ of execution to notice, the legal representative of the deceased to
enforce the decision. appear and to be substituted for the deceased within
a period of thirty (30) days or within such time as
may be granted ...
On November 7, 1981, respondent General Manager Gaudencio
Tobias of the National Housing Authority (hereinafter referred as
NHA), successor to the powers and functions of the PHHC, wrote a Section 16 of Rule 3 provides:
letter to private respondents informing them that the NHA was ready
to implement the decision and suggesting that in order to avoid Whenever a party to a pending case dies ... it shall
delay, they secure an order directing the Registrar of Deeds of be the duty of his attorney to inform the court
Quezon City to cancel Transfer Certificate of Title No. 239729. promptly of such death ... and to give the name and
residence of the executor, administrator, guardian or
On February 16, 1982 respondent William Vasquez filed a motion for other legal representative of the deceased ...
the issuance of an order directing the Quezon City Register of Deeds
to cancel TCT No. 138007 in the name of Adela Salindon and TCT In the case at bar, Salindon's counsel after her death on December
No. 239729, in the name of petitioners. A similar motion was filed by 11, 1976 failed to inform the court of Salindon's death. The appellate
respondent Erlinda Nicolas. court could not be expected to know or take judicial notice of the
death of Salindon without the proper manifestation from Salindon's
On March 19, 1982, petitioner Arsenio Florendo, Jr., filed a counsel. In such a case and considering that the supervening death
manifestation and opposition to the motions for cancellation alleging of appellant did not extinguish her civil personality, the appellate
that the court has no jurisdiction to order the cancellation of the titles court was well within its jurisdiction to proceed as it did with the case.
There is no showing that the appellate court's proceedings in the
case were tainted with irregularities.
Hence, the instant petition.
It appears that the petitioners are heirs of Adela Salindon. In fact, it As a rule, the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.
was because of this relationship that the petitioners were able to The time honored principle is that "... jurisdiction of a court is a
transfer the title of Adela Salindon over the subject lot to their names. matter of law and may not be conferred by consent or agreement of
After Salindon's death, the disputed lot was included as part of her the parties. The lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any
estate. Salindon's counsel, whose acts bind his client, failed to stage of the proceedings, even on appeal ...".(Calimlim v. Ramirez,
comply with his duty to the court and his deceased client. 118 SCRA 399). This principle, however, is not absolute. There are
Considering all this, the appellate decision is binding and enforceable cases wherein we ruled that because of their exceptional and
against the petitioners as successors-in-interest by title subsequent peculiar circumstances, a party is estopped from invoking the lack of
to the commencement of the action (Section 49 (b) Rule 39, Rules of the court's jurisdiction. (Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, 23 SCRA 29;
Court). Furthermore, "... judgment in an ejectment case may be Crisostomo v. Court of Appeals, 32 SCRA 543). We always look into
enforced not only against defendants therein but also against the the attendant circumstances of the case so as not to subvert public
members of their family, their relatives, or privies who derived their policy. (See Paro v. Court of Appeals, 111 SCRA 262).
right of possession from the defendants" (Ariem v. De los Angeles,
49 SCRA 343). Under the circumstances of this case, the same rule This is one such case where the successors-in- interest of the
should apply to the successors-in-interest if the decision should go original plaintiff are estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the
against the original plaintiff. respondent court. Adela Salindon, the original plaintiff in the
ejectment case consistently maintained her stand that the
We note, however, that the petitioners challenge the decision on the respondent court had jurisdiction over the ejectment complaint. She
ground that the respondent city court had no jurisdiction in the first insisted on this jurisdiction over the opposition of the defendants, the
instance over the ejectment complaint. private respondents herein. Thus, she filed a lengthy memorandum
against the dismissal of the complaint after the trial on the merits of
In this respect, the petitioners are correct. Adela Salindon filed an the case and made an emphatic justification of the jurisdiction of the
ejectment case to evict alleged squatters who were in possession of respondent court.
a lot awarded to her by the PHHC. Instead of dealing with the case
as a simple one of ejectment and handling the issues within the The following rule applies:
confines of its limited jurisdiction, the respondent city court went
further into territory out of bounds to it and cancelled the ... a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to
administrative determinations of the PHHC, rescinded the deeds of secure affirmative relief against his opponent and,
sale, usurped the powers of the administrative agency by awarding after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief,
the government lots to the defendants on the basis of evidence repudiate or question that same jurisdiction (Dean
clearly inadequate from the records and by the rules of the agency to vs. Dean, 136 Or. 694, 86 A.L.R. 79). In the case
sustain such awards, conclusively adjudicated on the basis of just cited, by way of explaining the rule, it was further
irregular proceedings the ownership of the disputed lot, and ordered said that the question whether the court had
the cancellation of Torrens titles already issued in the petitioners' jurisdiction either of the subject-matter of the action
names. or of the parties was not important in such cases
because the party is barred from such conduct not
May the petitioners take advantage of this lack of jurisdiction? because the judgment or order of the court is valid
and conclusive as an adjudication but for the reason
that such a practice can not be tolerated obviously
for reasons of public policy. (Tijam vs. entrance. True, the government by an act of magnanimity and in the
Sibonghanoy, supra) interest of buying social peace through the quieting of mass unrest
may declare usurped property as a "relocation" area for the
Equitable considerations cannot also help the petitioners. Their own squatters. However, the records fall to show that there has been
deed of extra-judicial partition dated March 31, 1977 shows that such action insofar as the disputed lot is concerned or that the
Adela Lucero Salindon left forty four (44) parcels of land, forty two private respondents fall within such a policy or that they have
(42) of which were in Pangasinan, one (1) parcel in Natividad Street, complied with the usual requirements before the benefits of
Manila and the disputed parcel in Quezon City. There is no showing relocation may be given them. At any rate, this was for the PHHC,
in the records that the forty three (43) other parcels were either not now the NHA, to decide and not the city court.
owned by Salindon when the PHHC lot was awarded to her or that
ownership of these lots and of 706,684 shares of stock in such blue Under the circumstances of this case, the ownership of the disputed
chip corporations as Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., Philippine lot remains with. the National Housing Authority. The NHA may use
Overseas Drilling and Oil Development Corporation, etc. did not the authority of this decision to evict the private respondents and
disqualify her from applying for a PHHC lot. There is no showing their successors-in-interest from the property and deal with the lot
from the records that the petitioners would suffer from a denial of according to its present powers vested by law and in the light of its
substantial justice if the foregoing rules are applied to them. current policies and programs. This decision, however, should not be
interpreted to preclude the private respondents from introducing
The private respondents, however, stand on an entirely different evidence and presenting arguments before the National Housing
footing. As defendants in the ejectment case they vigorously Authority to establish any right to which they may be entitled under
questioned the jurisdiction of the city court. They cannot now take the law and the facts of the case.
advantage of a decision issued in excess of jurisdiction and in doing
so abandon a principal averment in their respective answers. The WHEREFORE, the decision dated May 20, 1975, the writ of
respondent court had no jurisdiction to take over the functions of the execution dated August 3, 1981 and the order to annul TCT Nos.
PHHC and award ownership of the lot to them. 138007 and 239729 dated March 1, 1982, all issued by the
respondent city court are nullified and set aside for having been
Not only was the decision of the city court rendered without issued in excess of jurisdiction and with grave abuse of discretion
jurisdiction, it was also erroneously irregular to the point of insofar as the private respondents are concerned. Considering our
constituting grave abuse of discretion. findings as regards the petitioner, the Registrar of Deeds for Quezon
City is hereby ordered to cancel TCT No. 239729 in the names of the
petitioners and TCT No. 138007 in the name of Adela Salindon. The
The PHHC was correct when it stated that squatters and intruders
National Housing Authority is declared the owner of the disputed lot
who clandestinely enter into titled government property cannot, by
and is directed to take possession of the same and to either hold or
such act, acquire any legal right to said property. There is no
dispose of it according to law and this decision.
showing in the records that the entry of the private respondents into
the lot was effected legally and properly. An act which was illegal
from the start cannot ripen into lawful ownership simply because the SO ORDERED.
usurper has occupied and possessed the government lot for more
than ten (10) years, cleared it of cogon grass, fenced it, and built a G.R. No. L-27956 April 30, 1976
house on the premises. No vested rights should be allowed to arise
from the social blights and lawless acts of squatting and clandestine
DIONISIO DUMLAO, in his own behalf and in his capacity as It turned out that Oria died on April 23, 1959 or long before June 13,
Administrator of the Testate Estate of the late Pedro Oria; 1960 when the action was filed. Oria's death was not known to
FAUSTA DUMLAO, AMADO DUMLAO, and BENJAMIN Quality Plastic Products, Inc. Nor were the representatives of Quality
DUMLAO, plaintiffs-appellants,  Plastic Products, Inc. aware that in the same Tayug court Special
vs. Proceeding No. T-212, Testate Estate of the deceased Pedro Oria,
QUALITY PLASTIC PRODUCTS, INC., defendant-appellee. was pending.

Castillo & Castillo for appellants. The summons and copies of the complaint for the five defendants in
Civil Case No. 
Eugenio T. Estavillo for appellee. T-662 had been personally served on June 24, 1960 by a deputy
sheriff on Soliven, the principal in the bond, who acknowledged such
service by signing on the back of the original summons in his own
behalf and again signing for his co-defendants.
AQUINO, J.:p
On March 1, 1963 Dionisio, Fausta, Amado and Benjamin, all
surnamed Dumlao and all testamentary heirs in Oria's duly probated
On February 28, 1962 the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan in will, sued Quality Plastic Products, Inc., also in the Tayug court for
Civil Case No.  the annulment of the judgment against Oria and the execution
T-662 rendered a judgment ordering defendants Vicente Soliven, against his land. (Dionisio Dumlao also sued in his capacity as
Pedro Oria, Santiago Laurencio, Marcelino Sumalbag and Juana administrator of Oria's testate estate).
Darang to pay solidarity Quality Plastic Products, Inc. the sum of
P3,667.03 plus the legal rate of interest from November, 1958. The
The ground for annulment was lack of jurisdiction over the person of
lower court directed that in case the defendants failed to pay the said
the deceased Oria (Civil Case No. T- 873). It was only when Quality
amount before its decision became final, then Quality Plastic
Plastic Products, Inc. received the summons in Civil Case No. T-873
Products, Inc. "is hereby authorized to foreclose the bond, Exhibit A,
that it learned that Oria was already dead at the time the prior case,
in accordance with law, for the satisfaction of the judgment". (Under
Civil Case No. T-662, was filed.
that bond the four sureties bound themselves to answer solidarity for
the obligations of the principal, Vicente Soliven and certain real
properties of the sureties were "given as security for" their Quality Plastic Products, Inc. in its answer alleged that Oria's heirs
undertaking). were aware of the suit against Soliven and his sureties and that the
said heirs were estopped to question the court's jurisdiction over
Oria.
Upon defendants' failure to pay the amount of the judgment and after
the decision had become final, the lower court, on motion of Quality
Plastic Products, Inc., ordered the "foreclosure" of the surety bond After hearing the lower court held that it acquired jurisdiction over
and the sale at public auction of the land of Pedro Oria which he had Soliven and the other defendants in Civil Case No. T-662 by reason
given as security under the bond. Oria's land, which was covered by of their voluntary appearance. It reasoned out that Soliven acted in
Original Certificate of Title No. 28732 and has an area of nine and bad faith because he did not apprise the court that Oria was dead. It
six-tenths hectares, was levied upon and sold by the sheriff at public specifically ruled that "it had acquired jurisdiction over the person" of
auction on September 24, 1962. The sale was confirmed by the Oria and that the judgment was valid as to him. From that decision
lower court in its order of November 20, 1962. the plaintiffs appealed.
The four assignments of error of appellants Dumlao may be boiled
down to the issue as to the validity of the lower court's judgment
against the deceased Pedro Oria who, being already in the other
world, was never served with summons.

There is no difficulty in resolving that issue. Since no jurisdiction was


acquired over Oria, the judgment against him is a patent nullity (Ang
Lam vs. Rosillosa and Santiago, 86 Phil. 447; Asuncion vs. Nieto, 4
Phil. 97; Gorostiaga vs. Sarte, 68 Phil. 4).

As far as Oria was concerned, the lower court's judgment against


him in Civil Case No. T-662 is void for lack of jurisdiction over his
person. He was not, and he could not have been, validly served with
summons. He had no more civil personality. His juridical capacity,
which is the fitness to be the subject of legal relations, was lost
through death. (Arts. 37 and 42, Civil Code).

The lower court erred in ruling that since Soliven's counsel also
appeared as counsel for Oria, there was a voluntary appearance
which enabled the court to acquire jurisdiction over Oria, as
contemplated in section 23, Rule 14 of the Revised Rules of Court.
Soliven's counsel could not have validly appeared for a dead co-
defendant. Estoppel has no application to this case.

But from the fact that appellants Dumlao had to sue Quality Plastic
Products, Inc. in order to annul the judgment against Oria, it does not
follow that they are entitled to claim attorney's fees against that
corporation. The parties herein agreed in their stipulation of facts that
Quality Plastic Products, Inc. was unaware of Oria's death.
Appellants Dumlao in effect conceded that the appellee acted in
good faith in joining Oria as a co-defendant.

WHEREFORE, the lower court's decision is reversed and set aside.


Its judgment in Civil Case No. T-662 against Pedro Oria is declared
void for lack of jurisdiction. The execution sale of Oria's land covered
by OCT No. 28732 is also void. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

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