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TOPIC: SUPREME COURT AUTOMATIC REVIEW IN CERTAIN CRIMINAL

CASES
PEOPLE V ROLLY ESPEJON
FACTS
Rolly and Elsie were married in 1975. They were blessed with 9 children, 5 daughters and 4
sons.
1995- Jovielyn was 13 when she was raped for the first time by his father. Her mother was then
attending to the wake of their grandfather, and while her younger siblings were already asleep.
(Her older sister and brother were in Manila.) His father threatened her that if she tells anybody,
that he would cut her neck. This happened a few times again until the burial of her grandfather.
Thereafter, his father would sexually assault her during the day by taking her to the bushes some
70 meters away from their house.
Sometime in 1996, her older sister, Lilibeth arrived from Manila. Their mother was very happy
to see her and asked her to stay. Lilibeth then told her the truth why she left in 1992 she
confessed that her father sexually abused her twice. The first time was when she was only 7 yrs
old and the second time was when she was already 14 years old.
Upon hearing this, Jovielyn got the courage to tell her mother about her ordeal. Her mother then
brought her daughters for medical examination and filed rape charges against the accused.
The trial court found accused guilty of simple rape and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua.
It was not qualified because tho the information alleged the relationship of the accused to the
victim, it failed to state the victims age
The case was then submitted to the Supreme Court for automatic review.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the case should be directly be forwarded to the Supreme Court by virtue of
express provision in the constitution on automatic appeal where the penalty imposed is reclusion
perpetua, life imprisonment or death.
RULING:
Up until now, the Supreme Court has assumed the direct appellate review over all criminal cases
in which the penalty imposed is death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment (or lower but
involving offenses committed on the same occasion or arising out of the same occurrence that
gave rise to the more serious offense for which the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua, or life
imprisonment is imposed). The practice finds justification in the 1987 Constitution
Article VIII, Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:

(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules of
Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in:
x x x x x x x x x
(d) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher.
It must be stressed, however, that the constitutional provision is not preclusive in character, and
it does not necessarily prevent the Court, in the exercise of its rule-making power, from adding
an intermediate appeal or review in favour of the accused.
TOPIC : SUPREME COURT FINAL ARBITER; EN BANC and DIVISIONS
APO FRUITS PLANTATION V CA
FACTS
This case stemmed from the decision of the Special Agrarian Court where it determined the just
compensation for the 1,388.6027 hectares of land with improvements owned by the plaintiffs,
APO Fruits Corp and Hijo Plantation Inc.- pricing it at P103.33 psqm, giving a total of
P1,383,179,000.00 to be paid by Land Bank of the Philippines. In the same decision. LBP was
ordered to pay interests, commissioners fees, attorneys fees and costs of the suit,
The RTC on appeal, modified the decision fixing the rate of interest at 12%; commissioners fee
to be computed at 2.5%, and the attorneys fees at 10%.
LBP appealed to the Third Division of the SC; the motion was partially granted wherein the court
deleted the 12% interest, as well as the award of attorneys fees.
Consequently all parties sought reconsideration of above resolution and to refer the matter to the
SC en banc on the ground that there was a constitutional issue that needs to be determined by the
Court en banc, among others.
ISSUE: WON the resolution passed by the SC third Division to the SC en banc.
HELD:
Given the differences in the factual background of the case at bar and those cited by LBP, it
cannot be said that the Third Division is reversing any doctrine or principle laid down by
jurisprudence. There is therefore no basis for the prayer of LBP to refer the case to the Supreme
Court en banc. The Supreme Court sitting En Banc is not an appellate court vis--vis its
Divisions, and it exercises no appellate jurisdiction over the latter. Each division of the Court is
considered not a body inferior to the Court en banc, and sits veritably as the Court en banc
itself.16 It bears to stress further that a resolution of the Division denying a partys motion for
referral to the Court en banc of any Division case, shall be final and not appealable to the Court
en banc.17 Since, at this point, the Third Division already twice denied the motion of LBP to
refer the present Petition to the Supreme Court en banc, the same must already be deemed final
for no more appeal of its denial thereof is available to LBP.

TOPIC : RTC BP129 IN ORDINARY CIVIL ACTIONS


OLIVAREZ REALTY V CASTILLO
FACTS
Benjamin Castillo entered into a Deed of Conditional Sale of his property with Olivarex Realty
Corporation represented by Dr. Pablo Olivarez. Castillo agreed to sell his 346,918sqm property
for P19,080,490.00. Olivarez paid a downpayment of P2,500,000.00 and the balance to be paid
in 30 equal monthly instalments. One of the stipulations in the contract was that Olivares Realty
was to immediately occupy the property and will undertake to pay the legitimate tenants their
disturbance compensation while Castillo will clear the land of tenants within 6 months.
Later, Castillo filed a suit against Olivarez for (1) failing to pay the balance (2) failing to clear
the property of the tenants and paying them their disturbance compensation. It was further
alleged that Olivarez personally prepared the contract and that he was made to sign without
adequately explaining to him the contents thereof in tagalog.
Olivarez admitted in their answer that the corporation only paid P2,500,000.00 of the purchase
price. He alleged that Castillo failed to fully assist the corporation in filing an action with PTA
and to clear the land with tenants wirhin 6 months giving them all the legal right to withhold
subsequent payments.
The RTC ruled in favour of Castillo, ordering the contract rescinded and forfeiting the money
already paid in favour of plaintiff, and pay damages.
Olivarez filed an appeal and argued, among others, that the trial court had no jurisdiction to
decide the case as Castillo failed to pay the correct docket fees, that he should have paid it based
on the propertys fair market value since it was a real action.
Castillo answered that he prayed for rescission of contract and such is incapable of pecuniary
estimation.
ISSUE: WON the RTC had jurisdiction over the case.
HELD:
Yes.
Olivarez Realty Corporation and Dr. Olivarez claimed that the trial court had no jurisdiction to
take cognizance of the case. In the reply/motion to dismiss the complaint138 they filed with the
Court of Appeals, petitioners argued that Castillo failed to pay the correct amount of docket fees.
Stating that this action is a real action, petitioners argued that the docket fee Castillo paid should
have been based on the fair market value of the property. In this case, Castillo only paid
P4,297.00, which is insufficient if the real nature of the action was admitted and the fair market
value of the property was disclosed and made the basis of the amount of docket fees

to be paid to the court.139 Thus, according to petitioners, the case should be dismissed for lack
of jurisdiction.
Castillo countered that his action for rescission is an action incapable of pecuniary estimation.
Thus, the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Tanauan City did not err in assessing the
docket fees based on his prayer.
We rule for Castillo. In De Leon v. Court of Appeals,140 this court held that an action for
rescission of contract of sale of real property is an action incapable of pecuniary estimation. In
De Leon, the action involved a real property. Nevertheless, this court held that it is the nature of
the action as one for rescission of contract which is controlling.141 Consequently, the docket
fees to be paid shall be for actions incapable of pecuniary estimation, regardless if the claimant
may eventually recover the real property. This court said:
. . . the Court in Bautista v. Lim, held that an action for rescission of contract is one which cannot
be estimated and therefore the docket fee for its filing should be the flat amount of P200.00 as
then fixed in the former Rule 141, 141, 5(10). Said this Court:
We hold that Judge Dalisay did not err in considering Civil Case No. V-144 as basically one for
rescission or annulment of contract which is not susceptible of pecuniary estimation (1 Morans
Comments on the Rules of Court, p. 55, 1970 ed; Lapitan vs. Scandia, Inc., L-24668, July 31,
1968, 24 SCRA 479, 481-483).
Consequently, the fee for docketing it is P200, an amount already paid by plaintiff, now
respondent Matilda Lim. (She should pay also the two pesos legal research fund fee, if she has
not paid it, as required in Section 4 of Republic Act No. 3870, the charter of the U.P. Law
Center.)
Thus, although eventually the result may be the recovery of land, it is the nature of the action as
one for rescission of contract which is controlling. The Court of Appeals correctly applied these
cases to the present one. As it said:
We would like to add the observations that since the action of petitioners [private respondents]
against private respondents [petitioners] is solely for annulment or rescission which is not
susceptible of pecuniary estimation, the action should not be confused and equated with the
value of the property subject of the transaction; that by the very nature of the case, the
allegations, and specific prayer in the complaint, sans any prayer for recovery of money and/or
value of the transaction, or for actual or compensatory damages, the assessment and collection of
the legal fees should not be intertwined with the merits of the case and/or what may be its end
result; and that to sustain private respondents [petitioners] position on what the respondent
court may decide after all, then the assessment should be deferred and finally assessed only after
the court had finally decided the case, which cannot be done because the rules require that filing
fees should be based on what is alleged and prayed for in the face of the complaint and paid upon
the filing of the complaint.142

Although we discussed that there is no rescission of contract to speak of in contracts of


conditional sale, we hold that an action to cancel a contract to sell, similar to an action for
rescission of contract of sale, is an action incapable of pecuniary estimation. Like any action
incapable of pecuniary estimation, an action to cancel a contract to sell demands an inquiry into
other factors143 aside from the amount of money to be awarded to the claimant. Specifically in
this case, the trial court principally determined whether Olivarez Realty Corporation failed to pay
installments of the propertys purchase price as the parties agreed upon in the deed of conditional
sale. The principal nature of Castillos action, therefore, is incapable of pecuniary estimation.
All told, there is no issue that the parties in this case entered into a contract to sell a parcel of
land and that Olivarez Realty Corporation failed to fully pay the installments agreed upon.
Consequently, Castillo is entitled to cancel the contract to sell.