You are on page 1of 40

CIVPRO – JURISDICTION OVER THE PARTIES – HOW ACQUIRED OVER THE DEFENDANT Preliminary Injunction ordering petitioner to reconnect

on ordering petitioner to reconnect its utilities; for petitioner to be ordered to


renegotiate a renewal of the Contract of Lease; and for actual, moral and exemplary damages, as
G.R. No. 183035 January 9, 2013 well as attorney’s fees and costs.
OPTIMA REALTY CORPORATION, Petitioner, On 1 March 2006, Optima, through counsel, wrote Hertz a letter requiring the latter to surrender
vs. and vacate the leased premises in view of the expiration of the Contract of Lease on 28 February
HERTZ PHIL. EXCLUSIVE CARS, INC., Respondent. 2006.17 It likewise demanded payment of the sum of ₱420,967.28 in rental arrearages, unpaid utility
bills and other charges.18 Hertz, however, refused to vacate the leased premises.19 As a result,
DECISION
Optima was constrained to file before the MeTC a Complaint for Unlawful Detainer and Damages
SERENO, CJ.: with Prayer for the Issuance of a TRO and/or Preliminary Mandatory Injunction (Unlawful Detainer
Complaint) against Hertz.20
Before us is a Rule 45 Petition assailing the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-GR SP No. 99890, which reversed the Decision3 and Resolution4 of the Regional Trial Court On 14 March 2006, Summons for the Unlawful Detainer Complaint was served on Henry Bobiles,
(RTC), Branch 13 7, Makati City in Civil Case No. 06-672. The RTC had affirmed in toto the 22 May quality control supervisor of Hertz, who complied with the telephone instruction of manager Rudy
2006 Decision5 of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 64, Makati City in Civil Case No. Tirador to receive the Summons.21
90842 evicting respondent Hertz Phil.
On 28 March 2006, or 14 days after service of the Summons, Hertz filed a Motion for Leave of Court
Exclusive Cars, Inc. (Hertz) and ordering it to pay back rentals and other arrearages to petitioner to file Answer with Counterclaim and to Admit Answer with Counterclaim (Motion for Leave to File
Optima Realty Corporation (Optima). Answer).22 In that Motion, Hertz stated that, "in spite of the defective service of summons, it opted
to file the instant Answer with Counterclaim with Leave of Court."23 In the same Motion, it likewise
Optima is engaged in the business of leasing and renting out commercial spaces and buildings to its prayed that, in the interest of substantial justice, the Answer with Counterclaim attached to the
tenants. On 12 December 2002, it entered into a Contract of Lease with respondent over a 131- Motion for Leave to File Answer should be admitted regardless of its belated filing, since the service
square-meter office unit and a parking slot in the Optima Building for a period of three years of summons was defective.24
commencing on 1 March 2003 and ending on 28 February 2006.6 On 9 March 2004, the parties
amended their lease agreement by shortening the lease period to two years and five months, On 22 May 2006, the MeTC rendered a Decision,25 ruling that petitioner Optima had established its
commencing on 1 October 2003 and ending on 28 February 2006.7 right to evict Hertz from the subject premises due to nonpayment of rentals and the expiration of
the period of lease.26 The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
Renovations in the Optima Building commenced in January and ended in November 2005. 8 As a
result, Hertz alleged that it experienced a 50% drop in monthly sales and a significant decrease in WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby renders judgment for the plaintiff and against
its personnel’s productivity. It then requested a 50% discount on its rent for the months of May, the defendant, ordering:
June, July and August 2005.9
1. the defendant corporation and all persons claiming rights from it to immediately
On 8 December 2005, Optima granted the request of Hertz.10 However, the latter still failed to pay vacate the leased premises and to surrender possession thereof to the plaintiff;
its rentals for the months of August to December of 2005 and January to February 2006,11 or a total
2. the defendant corporation to pay the plaintiff the amount of Four Hundred Twenty
of seven months. In addition, Hertz likewise failed to pay its utility bills for the months of November
Thousand Nine Hundred Sixty Seven Pesos and 28/100 (P420,967.28) representing its
and December of 2005 and January and February of 2006,12 or a total of four months.
rentals arrearages and utility charges for the period of August 2005 to February 2006,
On 8 December 2005, Optima wrote another letter to Hertz,13 reminding the latter that the Contract deducting therefrom defendant’s security deposit;
of Lease could be renewed only by a new negotiation between the parties and upon written notice
3. the defendant corporation to pay the amount of Fifty Four Thousand Two Hundred
by the lessee to the lessor at least 90 days prior to the termination of the lease period.14 As no letter
Pesos (P54,200.00) as a reasonable monthly compensation for the use and occupancy of
was received from Hertz regarding its intention to seek negotiation and extension of the lease
the premises starting from March 2006 until possession thereof is restored to the
contract within the 90-day period, Optima informed it that the lease would expire on 28 February
plaintiff; and
2006 and would not be renewed.15
4. the defendant corporation to pay the amount of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00)
On 21 December 2005, Hertz wrote a letter belatedly advising Optima of the former’s desire to
as and for attorney’s fees; and
negotiate and extend the lease.16 However, as the Contract of Lease provided that the notice to
negotiate its renewal must be given by the lessee at least 90 days prior to the expiration of the 5. the cost of suit.
contract, petitioner no longer entertained respondent’s notice.
SO ORDERED.27
On 30 January 2006, Hertz filed a Complaint for Specific Performance, Injunction and Damages
and/or Sum of Money with prayer for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Writ Hertz appealed the MeTC’s Decision to the RTC.28
of Preliminary Injunction (Complaint for Specific Performance) against Optima. In that Complaint,
Hertz prayed for the issuance of a TRO to enjoin petitioner from committing acts that would tend Finding no compelling reason to warrant the reversal of the MeTC’s Decision, the RTC affirmed it by
to disrupt respondent’s peaceful use and possession of the leased premises; for a Writ of dismissing the appeal in a Decision29 dated 16 March 2007.
On 18 June 2007, the RTC denied respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration of its assailed Decision.30 Preliminarily, jurisdiction over the defendant in a civil case is acquired either by the coercive power
of legal processes exerted over his person, or his voluntary appearance in court. As a general
Hertz thereafter filed a verified Rule 42 Petition for Review on Certiorari with the CA.31 proposition, one who seeks an affirmative relief is deemed to have submitted to the jurisdiction of
the court. It is by reason of this rule that we have had occasion to declare that the filing of motions
On appeal, the CA ruled that, due to the improper service of summons, the MeTC failed to acquire
to admit answer, for additional time to file answer, for reconsideration of a default judgment, and
jurisdiction over the person of respondent Hertz. The appellate court thereafter reversed the RTC
to lift order of default with motion for reconsideration, is considered voluntary submission to the
and remanded the case to the MeTC to ensure the proper service of summons. Accordingly, the CA
court's jurisdiction. This, however, is tempered by the concept of conditional appearance, such that
issued its 17 March 2008 Decision, the fallo of which reads:
a party who makes a special appearance to challenge, among others, the court's jurisdiction over
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the May 22, 2006 Decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of his person cannot be considered to have submitted to its authority.
Makati City, Branch 64, in Civil Case No. 90842, and both the March 16, 2007 Decision, as well as
Prescinding from the foregoing, it is thus clear that:
the June 18, 2007 Resolution, of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 137, in Civil Case
No. 06-672, are hereby REVERSED, ANNULLED and SET ASIDE – due to lack of jurisdiction over the (1) Special appearance operates as an exception to the general rule on voluntary
person of the defendant corporation HERTZ. This case is hereby REMANDED to the Metropolitan appearance;
Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 64, in Civil Case No. 90842, which is DIRECTED to ensure that its
Sheriff properly serve summons to only those persons listed in Sec. 11, Rule 14 of the Rules of Civil (2) Accordingly, objections to the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the
Procedure in order that the MTC could acquire jurisdiction over the person of the defendant defendant must be explicitly made, i.e., set forth in an unequivocal manner; and
corporation HERTZ.
(3) Failure to do so constitutes voluntary submission to the jurisdiction of the court,
SO ORDERED.32 especially in instances where a pleading or motion seeking affirmative relief is filed and
submitted to the court for resolution. (Emphases supplied)
Petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration of the CA’s Decision was denied in a Resolution dated 20
May 2008.33 In this case, the records show that the following statement appeared in respondent’s Motion for
Leave to File Answer:
Aggrieved by the ruling of the appellate court, petitioner then filed the instant Rule 45 Petition for
Review on Certiorari with this Court.34 In spite of the defective service of summons, the defendant opted to file the instant Answer with
Counterclaim with Leave of Court, upon inquiring from the office of the clerk of court of this
THE ISSUES Honorable Court and due to its notice of hearing on March 29, 2005 application for TRO/Preliminary
Mandatory Injunction was received on March 26, 2006. (Emphasis supplied)37
As culled from the records, the following issues are submitted for resolution by this Court:
Furthermore, the Answer with Counterclaim filed by Hertz never raised the defense of improper
1. Whether the MeTC properly acquired jurisdiction over the person of respondent
service of summons. The defenses that it pleaded were limited to litis pendentia, pari delicto,
Hertz;
performance of its obligations and lack of cause of action.38 Finally, it even asserted its own
2. Whether the unlawful detainer case is barred by litis pendentia; and counterclaim against Optima.39

3. Whether the ejectment of Hertz and the award of damages, attorneys fees and costs Measured against the standards in Philippine Commercial International Bank, these actions lead to
are proper. no other conclusion than that Hertz voluntarily appeared before the court a quo. We therefore rule
that, by virtue of the voluntary appearance of respondent Hertz before the MeTC, the trial court
THE COURT’S RULING acquired jurisdiction over respondent’s.

We grant the Petition and reverse the assailed Decision and Resolution of the appellate court. II

I The instant ejectment case is not barred by litis pendentia. Hertz contends that the instant case is
barred by litis pendentia because of the pendency of its Complaint for Specific Performance against
The MeTC acquired jurisdiction over the person of respondent Hertz. Optima before the RTC.
In civil cases, jurisdiction over the person of the defendant may be acquired either by service of We disagree.
summons or by the defendant’s voluntary appearance in court and submission to its authority.35
Litis pendentia requires the concurrence of the following elements:
In this case, the MeTC acquired jurisdiction over the person of respondent Hertz by reason of the
latter’s voluntary appearance in court. (1) Identity of parties, or at least their representation of the same interests in both
actions;
In Philippine Commercial International Bank v. Spouses Dy,36 we had occasion to state:
(2) Identity of rights asserted and reliefs prayed for, the relief being founded on the
same facts; and
(3) Identity with respect to the two preceding particulars in the two cases, such that any As to the award of monthly compensation, we find that Hertz should pay adequate compensation
judgment that may be rendered in the pending case, regardless of which party is to Optima, since the former continued to occupy the leased premises even after the expiration of
successful, would amount to res judicata in the other case.40 the lease contract. As the lease price during the effectivity of the lease contract was P54,200 per
month, we find it to be a reasonable award.
Here, while there is identity of parties in both cases, we find that the rights asserted and the reliefs
prayed for under the Complaint for Specific Performance and those under the present Unlawful Finally, we uphold the award of attorney's fees in the amount of P30,000 and judicial costs in the
Detainer Complaint are different. As aptly found by the trial court: light of Hertz's unjustifiable and unlawful retention of the leased premises, thus forcing Optima to
file the instant case in order to protect its rights and interest.
The Complaint for Specific Performance] seeks to compel plaintiff-appellee Optima to: (1)
renegotiate the contract of lease; (2) reconnect the utilities at the leased premises; and (3) pay From the foregoing, we find that the MeTC committed no reversible error in its 22 May 2006
damages. On the other hand, the unlawful detainer case sought the ejectment of defendant- Decision, and that the RTC committed no reversible error either in affirming the MeTC's Decision.
appellant Hertz from the leased premises and to collect arrears in rentals and utility bills.41
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant Rule 45 Petition for Review is GRANTED. The
As the rights asserted and the reliefs sought in the two cases are different, we find that the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 99890 are hereby
pendency of the Complaint for Specific Performance is not a bar to the institution of the present REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 13 7, Makati City in Civil
case for ejectment. Case No. 06-672 affirming in toto the Decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 64, Makati
City in Civil Case No. 90842 is hereby REINSTATED and AFFIRMED.
III
SO ORDERED.
The eviction of respondent and the award of damages,

attorney’s fees and costs were proper.

We find that the RTC’s ruling upholding the ejectment of Hertz from the building premises was
proper. First, respondent failed to pay rental arrearages and utility bills to Optima; and, second, the
Contract of Lease expired without any request from Hertz for a renegotiation thereof at least 90
days prior to its expiration.

On the first ground, the records show that Hertz failed to pay rental arrearages and utility bills to
Optima. Failure to pay timely rentals and utility charges is an event of default under the Contract of
Lease,42 entitling the lessor to terminate the lease.

Moreover, the failure of Hertz to pay timely rentals and utility charges entitles the lessor to judicially
eject it under the provisions of the Civil Code.43

On the second ground, the records likewise show that the lease had already expired on 28 February
2006 because of Hertz’s failure to request a renegotiation at least 90 days prior to the termination
of the lease period.

The pertinent provision of the Contract of Lease reads:

x x x. The lease can be renewed only by a new negotiation between the parties upon written notice
by the LESSEE to be given to the LESSOR at least 90 days prior to termination of the above lease
period.44

As the lease was set to expire on 28 February 2006, Hertz had until 30 November 2005 within which
to express its interest in negotiating an extension of the lease with Optima. However, Hertz failed
to communicate its intention to negotiate for an extension of the lease within the time agreed upon
by the parties. Thus, by its own provisions, the Contract of Lease expired on 28 February
2006.1âwphi1

Under the Civil Code, the expiry of the period agreed upon by the parties is likewise a ground for
judicial ejectment.45
CIVPRO – JURISDICTION OVER THE PARTIES – HOW ACQUIRED OVER THE DEFENDANT 3. Ordering defendants to pay plaintiff the amount of TEN THOUSAND PESOS
(₱10,000.00) a month thereafter, as reasonable compensation for the use of the subject
G.R. No. 173379 December 1, 2010 premises until they finally vacate the same;
ABUBAKAR A. AFDAL and FATIMA A. AFDAL, Petitioners, 4. Ordering defendants to pay plaintiff the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS
vs. (₱50,000.00) as and for attorney’s fees plus ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS
ROMEO CARLOS, Respondent. (₱1,500.00) appearance fee;
DECISION 5. Ordering defendants to pay the costs of suit.
CARPIO, J.: SO ORDERED.10
The Case On 1 October 2004, the MTC issued a writ of execution.11
This is a petition for review1 of the 3 January 20052 and 16 June 20063 Orders of the Regional Trial On 30 October 2004, petitioners filed a petition for relief from judgment with the MTC. 12
Court, Branch 25, Biñan, Laguna (RTC) in Civil Case No. B-6721. In its 3 January 2005 Order, the RTC Respondent filed a motion to dismiss or strike out the petition for relief.13 Subsequently, petitioners
ordered the dismissal of petitioners Abubakar A. Afdal and Fatima A. Afdal’s (petitioners) petition manifested their intention to withdraw the petition for relief after realizing that it was a prohibited
for relief from judgment. In its 16 June 2006 Order, the RTC denied petitioners’ motion for pleading under the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure. On 10 November 2004, the MTC granted
reconsideration. petitioners’ request to withdraw the petition for relief.14
The Facts On 6 December 2004, petitioners filed the petition for relief before the RTC. 15 Petitioners alleged
that they are the lawful owners of the property which they purchased from spouses Martha D.G.
On 18 December 2003, respondent Romeo Carlos (respondent) filed a complaint for unlawful
Ubaldo and Francisco D. Ubaldo. Petitioners denied that they sold the property to respondent.
detainer and damages against petitioners, Zenaida Guijabar (Guijabar), John Doe, Peter Doe, Juana
Petitioners added that on 15 December 2003, petitioner Abubakar filed with the Commission on
Doe, and all persons claiming rights under them docketed as Civil Case No. 3719 before the
Elections his certificate of candidacy as mayor in the municipality of Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur,
Municipal Trial Court, Biñan, Laguna (MTC). Respondent alleged that petitioners, Guijabar, and all
for the 10 May 2004 elections. Petitioners said they only learned of the MTC’s 23 August 2004
other persons claiming rights under them were occupying, by mere tolerance, a parcel of land in
Decision on 27 October 2004. Petitioners also pointed out that they never received respondent’s
respondent’s name covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-5301394 in the Registry of Deeds
demand letter nor were they informed of, much less participated in, the proceedings before the
Calamba, Laguna. Respondent claimed that petitioner Abubakar Afdal (petitioner Abubakar) sold
Lupon. Moreover, petitioners said they were not served a copy of the summons and the complaint.
the property to him but that he allowed petitioners to stay in the property. On 25 August 2003,
respondent demanded that petitioners, Guijabar, and all persons claiming rights under them turn On 3 January 2005, the RTC issued the assailed Order dismissing the petition for relief. The RTC said
over the property to him because he needed the property for his personal use.5 Respondent further it had no jurisdiction over the petition because the petition should have been filed before the MTC
alleged that petitioners refused to heed his demand and he was constrained to file a complaint in accordance with Section 1 of Rule 38 of the Rules of Court which provides that a petition for relief
before the Lupon ng Tagapamayapa (Lupon). According to respondent, petitioners ignored the should be filed "in such court and in the same case praying that the judgment, order or proceeding
notices and the Lupon issued a "certificate to file action."6 Then, respondent filed the complaint be set aside."
before the MTC.
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 16 June 2006 Order, the RTC denied
According to the records, there were three attempts to serve the summons and complaint on petitioners’ motion.
petitioners – 14 January, 3 and 18 February 2004.7 However, petitioners failed to file an answer.
Hence, this petition.
On 2 June 2004, respondent filed an ex-parte motion and compliance with position paper submitting
the case for decision based on the pleadings on record.8 The Issue

In its 23 August 2004 Decision,9 the MTC ruled in favor of respondent. The dispositive portion of the Petitioners raise the sole issue of whether the RTC erred in dismissing their petition for relief from
23 August 2004 Decision reads: judgment.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff and against defendants as follows: The Ruling of the Court

1. Ordering defendants Abubakar Afdal, Zenaida Guijabar and all persons claiming rights Petitioners maintain that the RTC erred in dismissing their petition for relief. Petitioners argue that
under them to vacate the subject property and peacefully turn-over possession of the they have no other recourse but to file the petition for relief with the RTC. Petitioners allege the
same to plaintiff; need to reconcile the apparent inconsistencies with respect to the filing of a petition for relief from
judgment under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court and the prohibition under the Revised Rule on
2. Ordering defendants to pay plaintiff the amount of TEN THOUSAND PESOS Summary Procedure. Petitioners suggest that petitions for relief from judgment in forcible entry
(₱10,000.00) as rental arrears from August 25, 2003 up to the date of decision; and unlawful detainer cases can be filed with the RTC provided that petitioners have complied with
all the legal requirements to entitle him to avail of such legal remedy.
Section 13(4) of Rule 70 of the Rules of Court provides: of the summons at the defendant’s residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then
residing therein, or (b) by leaving the copies at defendant’s office or regular place of business with
SEC. 13. Prohibited pleadings and motions. - The following petitions, motions, or pleadings shall not some competent person in charge thereof.
be allowed: x x x
Any judgment of the court which has no jurisdiction over the person of the defendant is null and
4. Petition for relief from judgment; x x x void.22
Section 19(d) of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure also provides: The 23 August 2004 Decision of the MTC states:
SEC. 19. Prohibited pleadings and motions. - The following pleadings, motions, or petitions shall not Record shows that there were three attempts to serve the summons to the defendants. The first
be allowed in the cases covered by this Rule: x x x was on January 14, 2004 where the same was unserved. The second was on February 3, 2004 where
the same was served to one Gary Akob and the last was on February 18, 2004 where the return was
(d) Petition for relief from judgment; x x x
duly served but refused to sign.23
Clearly, a petition for relief from judgment in forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases, as in the
A closer look at the records of the case also reveals that the first indorsement dated 14 January
present case, is a prohibited pleading. The reason for this is to achieve an expeditious and
2004 carried the annotation that it was "unsatisfied/given address cannot be located."24 The second
inexpensive determination of the cases subject of summary procedure.16
indorsement dated 3 February 2004 stated that the summons was "duly served as evidenced by his
Moreover, Section 1, Rule 38 of the Rules of Court provides: signature of one Gary Acob25 (relative)."26 While the last indorsement dated 18 February 2004
carried the annotation that it was "duly served but refused to sign" without specifying to whom it
SEC. 1. Petition for relief from judgment, order or other proceedings. - When a judgment or final was served.27
order is entered, or any other proceeding is thereafter taken against a party in any court through
fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence, he may file a petition in such court and in the Service of summons upon the defendant shall be by personal service first and only when the
same case praying that the judgment, order or proceeding be set aside. (Emphasis supplied) defendant cannot be promptly served in person will substituted service be availed of.28 In Samartino
v. Raon,29 we said:
A petition for relief from judgment, if allowed by the Rules and not a prohibited pleading, should be
filed with and resolved by the court in the same case from which the petition arose.171avvphi1 We have long held that the impossibility of personal service justifying availment of substituted
service should be explained in the proof of service; why efforts exerted towards personal service
In the present case, petitioners cannot file the petition for relief with the MTC because it is a failed. The pertinent facts and circumstances attendant to the service of summons must be stated
prohibited pleading in an unlawful detainer case. Petitioners cannot also file the petition for relief in the proof of service or Officer’s Return; otherwise, the substituted service cannot be upheld. 30
with the RTC because the RTC has no jurisdiction to entertain petitions for relief from judgments of
the MTC. Therefore, the RTC did not err in dismissing the petition for relief from judgment of the In this case, the indorsements failed to state that prompt and personal service on petitioners was
MTC. rendered impossible. It failed to show the reason why personal service could not be made. It was
also not shown that efforts were made to find petitioners personally and that said efforts failed.
The remedy of petitioners in such a situation is to file a petition for certiorari with the RTC under These requirements are indispensable because substituted service is in derogation of the usual
Rule 6518 of the Rules of Court on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of the MTC over the person of method of service. It is an extraordinary method since it seeks to bind the defendant to the
petitioners in view of the absence of summons to petitioners. Here, we shall treat petitioners’ consequences of a suit even though notice of such action is served not upon him but upon another
petition for relief from judgment as a petition for certiorari before the RTC. whom the law could only presume would notify him of the pending proceedings. Failure to faithfully,
strictly, and fully comply with the statutory requirements of substituted service renders such service
An action for unlawful detainer or forcible entry is a real action and in personam because the ineffective.31
plaintiff seeks to enforce a personal obligation on the defendant for the latter to vacate the property
subject of the action, restore physical possession thereof to the plaintiff, and pay actual damages Likewise, nowhere in the return of summons or in the records of the case was it shown that Gary
by way of reasonable compensation for his use or occupation of the property. 19 In an action in Acob, the person on whom substituted service of summons was effected, was a person of suitable
personam, jurisdiction over the person of the defendant is necessary for the court to validly try and age and discretion residing in petitioners’ residence. In Manotoc v. Court of Appeals,32 we said:
decide the case.20 Jurisdiction over the defendant is acquired either upon a valid service of summons
or the defendant’s voluntary appearance in court.21 If the defendant does not voluntarily appear in If the substituted service will be effected at defendant’s house or residence, it should be left with a
court, jurisdiction can be acquired by personal or substituted service of summons as laid out under person of "suitable age and discretion then residing therein." A person of suitable age and discretion
Sections 6 and 7 of Rule 14 of the Rules of Court, which state: is one who has attained the age of full legal capacity (18 years old) and is considered to have enough
discernment to understand the importance of a summons. "Discretion" is defined as "the ability to
Sec. 6. Service in person on defendant. - Whenever practicable, the summons shall be served by make decisions which represent a responsible choice and for which an understanding of what is
handing a copy thereof to the defendant in person, or, if he refuses to receive and sign for it, by lawful, right or wise may be presupposed." Thus, to be of sufficient discretion, such person must
tendering it to him. know how to read and understand English to comprehend the import of the summons, and fully
realize the need to deliver the summons and complaint to the defendant at the earliest possible
Sec. 7. Substituted Service. - If, for justifiable causes, the defendant cannot be served within a time for the person to take appropriate action. Thus, the person must have the "relation of
reasonable time as provided in the preceding section, service may be effected (a) by leaving copies confidence" to the defendant, ensuring that the latter would receive or at least be notified of the
receipt of the summons. The sheriff must therefore determine if the person found in the alleged
dwelling or residence of defendant is of legal age, what the recipient’s relationship with the
defendant is, and whether said person comprehends the significance of the receipt of the
summons and his duty to immediately deliver it to the defendant or at least notify the defendant
of said receipt of summons. These matters must be clearly and specifically described in the Return
of Summons.33 (Emphasis supplied)

In this case, the process server failed to specify Gary Acob’s age, his relationship to petitioners and
to ascertain whether he comprehends the significance of the receipt of the summons and his duty
to deliver it to petitioners or at least notify them of said receipt of summons.

In sum, petitioners were not validly served with summons and the complaint in Civil Case No. 3719
by substituted service. Hence, the MTC failed to acquire jurisdiction over the person of the
petitioners and, thus, the MTC’s 23 August 2004 Decision is void.34 Since the MTC’s 23 August 2004
Decision is void, it also never became final.35

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We SET ASIDE the 3 January 2005 and 16 June 2006 Orders
of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 25, Biñan, Laguna. The 23 August 2004 Decision and the 1
October 2004 Writ of Execution, as well as all acts and deeds incidental to the judgment in Civil Case
No. 3719, are declared VOID. We REMAND the case to the Municipal Trial Court, Biñan, Laguna, for
consolidation with the unlawful detainer case in Civil Case No. 3719 and for the said Municipal Trial
Court to continue proceedings thereon by affording petitioners Abubakar A. Afdal and Fatima A.
Afdal a chance to file their answer and present evidence in their defense, and thereafter to hear
and decide the case.

SO ORDERED.
CIVPRO – JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER The undersigned 2nd Assistant Provincial Prosecutor accuses SSGT Edison Rural, CAA Jose Matu.
CAA Morie Flores, CAA Guillen Topas, CAA Dandy Flores, CAA Leonardo Calimutan and CAA Rene
G.R. No. 171855 October 15, 2012 Rom, stationed at Alpha Company, 22nd Infantry Battalion, 9th Division, Philippine Army,
Cabangcalan Detachment, Aroroy, Masbate, committed as follows:
FE V. RAPSING, TITA C. VILLANUEVA and ANNIE F. APAREJADO, represented by EDGAR AP
AREJADO, Petitioners, That on May 9, 2004, at around 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon thereof, at Barangay Lagta,
vs. Municipality of Baleno, Province of Masbate, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
HON. JUDGE MAXIMINO R. ABLES, of RTC-Branch 47, Masbate City; SSGT. EDISON RURAL, CAA Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together and mutually helping with one
JOSE MATU, CAA MORIE FLORES, CAA GUILLEN TOPAS, CAA DANDY FLORES, CAA LEONARDO another, taking advantage of their superior strength as elements of the Philippine Army, armed with
CALIMUTAN and CAA RENE ROM, Respondents. their government issued firearms, with intent to kill, by means of treachery and evident
premeditation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot
DECISION
Teogenes Rapsing y Manlapaz, Teofilo Villanueva y Prisado, Marianito Villanueva y Oliva, Edwin
PERALTA, J.: Aparejado y Valdemoro, Isidro Espino y Arevalo, Roque Tome y Morgado and Norberto Aranilla y
Cordova, hitting them on different parts of their bodies, thereby inflicting upon them multiple
Before this Court is a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, filed gunshot wounds which caused their deaths.
by petitioners Fe Rapsing, Tita C. Villanueva and Annie Aparejado, · as represented by Edgar
Aparejado, seeking to set aside the Orders dated December 6, 20051 and January 11, 2006,2 CONTRARY TO LAW.
respectively, of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Masbate City, Branch 47, in Criminal Case No.
Masbate City, February 15, 2005.
11846.
On July 28, 2005, a warrant5 for the arrest of respondents was issued by the RTC of Masbate City,
The antecedents are as follows:
Branch 47, but before respondents could be arrested, the Judge Advocate General's Office (JAGO)
Respondents SSgt. Edison Rural, CAA Jose Matu, CAA Morie Flores, CAA Guillien Topas, CAA Dandy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) filed an Omnibus Motion6 dated July 20, 2005, with the
Flores, CAA Leonardo Calimutan and CAA Rene Rom are members of the Alpha Company, 22nd trial court seeking the cases against respondents be transferred to the jurisdiction of the military
Infantry Battalion, 9th Division of the Philippine Army based at Cabangcalan Detachment, Aroroy, tribunal.7 Initially, the trial court denied the motion filed by the JAGO on the ground that
Masbate. respondents have not been arrested. The JAGO filed a Motion for Reconsideration,8 and in an Order9
dated December 6, 2005, the trial court granted the Omnibus Motion and the entire records of the
Petitioners, on the other hand, are the widows of Teogenes Rapsing, Teofilo Villanueva and Edwin case were turned over to the Commanding General of the 9th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, for
Aparejado, who were allegedly killed in cold blood by the respondents. appropriate action.

Respondents alleged that on May 3, 2004, around 1 o'clock in the afternoon, they received Petitioners sought reconsideration10 of the Order, but was denied by the trial court in an Order 11
information about the presence of armed elements reputed to be New People’s Army (NPA) dated January 11, 2006.
partisans in Sitio Gaway-gaway, Barangay Lagta, Baleno, Masbate. Acting on the information, they
coordinated with the Philippine National Police and proceeded to the place. Thereat, they Hence, the present petition with the following arguments:
encountered armed elements which resulted in an intense firefight. When the battle ceased, seven
I
(7) persons, namely: Teogenes Rapsing y Manlapaz, Teofilo Villanueva y Prisado, Marianito
Villanueva y Oliva, Edwin Aparejado y Valdemoro, Isidro Espino y Arevalo, Roque Tome y Morgado HON. JUDGE MAXIMINO ABLES GRAVELY ABUSED HIS DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO
and Norberto Aranilla y Cordova were found sprawled on the ground lifeless. The post-incident EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN GRANTING THE MOTION TO TRANSFER THE INSTANT
report of the Philippine Army states that a legitimate military operation was conducted and in the CRIMINAL CASE OF MULTIPLE MURDER TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE MILITARY COURT
course of which, the victims, armed with high-powered firearms, engaged in a shoot-out with the MARTIAL, AS THE SAID TRIBUNAL, BASED ON FACTS AND IN LAW, HAS NO JURISDICTION
military. OVER THE INSTANT MURDER CASE.
On the other hand, petitioners complained that there was no encounter that ensued and that the II
victims were summarily executed in cold blood by respondents. Hence, they requested the National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the case. After investigation, the NBI recommended to IT IS GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO EXCESS IN JURISDICTION IF NOT
the Provincial Prosecutor of Masbate City that a preliminary investigation be conducted against GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW ON THE PART OF HONORABLE JUDGE MAXIMINO
respondents for the crime of multiple murder. In reaching its recommendation, the NBI relied on ABLES TO HOLD THAT HIS ORDER DATED DECEMBER 6, 2005 COULD ONLY BE REVIEWED
the statements of witnesses who claim that the military massacred helpless and unarmed civilians. THROUGH AN APPEAL, AS THERE IS NO TRIAL ON THE MERIT YET ON THE INSTANT
CRIMINAL CASE.12
On February 9, 2005, the provincial prosecutor issued a Resolution3 recommending the filing of an
Information for Multiple Murder. Consequently, respondents were charged with multiple murder Petitioners alleged that the trial court gravely abused its discretion amounting to excess of
in an Information4 dated February 15, 2005, which reads: jurisdiction when it transferred the criminal case filed against the respondents to the jurisdiction of
the military tribunal, as jurisdiction over the same is conferred upon the civil courts by Republic Act
No. 7055 (RA 7055).13 On the other hand, the respondents and the Office of the Solicitor General SUSPENSION OF THE SESSION
(OSG) alleged that the acts complained of are service connected and falls within the jurisdiction of
the military court. The President. Will the Gentleman kindly try to work it out between the two of you? I will suspend
the session for a minute, if there is no objection. There was none.
The petition is meritorious. The trial court gravely abused its discretion in not taking cognizance of
the case, which actually falls within its jurisdiction. It was 5:02 p.m.

It is an elementary rule of procedural law that jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case is RESUMPTION OF THE SESSION
conferred by law and is determined by the allegations of the complaint irrespective of whether the
At 5:06 p.m., the session was resumed.
plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein.14 As a necessary
consequence, the jurisdiction of the court cannot be made to depend upon the defenses set up in The President. The session is resumed.
the answer or upon the motion to dismiss, for otherwise, the question of jurisdiction would almost
entirely depend upon the defendant. What determines the jurisdiction of the court is the nature of Senator Tañada. Mr. President, Senator Shahani has graciously accepted my amendment to her
the action pleaded as appearing from the allegations in the complaint. The averments in the amendment, subject to refinement and style.
complaint and the character of the relief sought are the matters to be consulted.15
The President. Is there any objection? Silence There being none, the amendment is approved. 19
In the case at bar, the information states that respondents, "conspiring together and mutually
helping with one another, taking advantage of their superior strength, as elements of the Philippine In the same session, Senator Tañada emphasized:
Army, armed with their government-issued firearms with intent to kill, by means of treachery and Senator Tañada. Section 1, already provides that crimes of offenses committed by persons subject
evident premeditation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and to military law ... will be tried by the civil courts, except, those which are service-related or
shoot the [victims], hitting them on different parts of their bodies, thereby inflicting upon them connected. And we specified which would be considered service-related or connected under the
multiple gunshot wounds which caused their deaths."16 Murder is a crime punishable under Article Articles of War, Commonwealth Act No. 408.20 (Emphasis supplied.)
248 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended, and is within the jurisdiction of the RTC. 17 Hence,
irrespective of whether the killing was actually justified or not, jurisdiction to try the crime charged The said amendment was later on reflected in the final version of the statute as Paragraph 2 of
against the respondents has been vested upon the RTC by law. Section 1. Section 1 of R.A. 7055 reads in full:
Respondents, however, contend that the military tribunal has jurisdiction over the case at bar Section 1. Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other persons subject to military
because the crime charged was a service-connected offense allegedly committed by members of law, including members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Units, who commit crimes or
the AFP. To support their position, respondents cite the senate deliberations on R.A. 7055. offenses penalized under the Revised Penal Code, other special penal laws, or local government
ordinances, regardless of whether or not civilians are co-accused, victims, or offended parties which
Respondents stress in particular the proposal made by Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani to define a may be natural or juridical persons, shall be tried by the proper civil court, except when the offense,
service-connected offense as those committed by military personnel pursuant to the lawful order as determined before arraignment by the civil court, is service-connected, in which case the offense
of their superior officer or within the context of a valid military exercise or mission.18 Respondents shall be tried by court-martial: Provided, That the President of the Philippines may, in the interest
maintain that the foregoing definition is deemed part of the statute.1âwphi1 of justice, order or direct at any time before arraignment that any such crimes or offenses be tried
However, a careful reading of R.A. 7055 indicate that the proposed definition was not included as by the proper civil courts.
part of the statute. The proposed definition made by Senator Shahani was not adopted due to the As used in this Section, service-connected crimes or offenses shall be limited to those defined in
amendment made by Senator Wigberto E. Tañada, to wit: Articles 54 to 70, Articles 72 to 92, and Articles 95 to 97 of Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended.
Senator Tañada. Yes, Mr. President. I would just want to propose to the Sponsor of this amendment (Emphasis supplied)
to consider, perhaps, defining what this service-related offenses would be under the Articles of War. The second paragraph of Section 1 of R.A. 7055 explicitly specifies what are considered "service-
And so, I would submit for her consideration the following amendment to her amendment which connected crimes or offenses" under Commonwealth Act No. 408 (CA 408), as amended,21 to wit:
would read as follows: AS USED IN THIS SECTION, SERVICE-CONNECTED CRIMES OR OFFENSES SHALL
BE LIMITED TO THOSE DEFINED IN ARTICLES 54 TO 70, ARTICLES 72 TO 75, ARTICLES 76 TO 83 AND Articles 54 to 70:
ARTICLES 84 TO 92, AND ARTICLES 95 TO 97, COMMONWEALTH ACT NO. 408 AS AMENDED.
Art. 54. Fraudulent Enlistment.
This would identify, I mean, specifically, what these service-related or connected offenses or crimes
would be. (Emphasis supplied.) Art. 55. Officer Making Unlawful Enlistment.

The President. What will happen to the definition of "service-connected offense" already put Art. 56. False Muster.
forward by Senator Shahani?
Art. 57. False Returns.
Senator Tañada. I believe that would be incorporated in the specification of the Article I have
Art. 58. Certain Acts to Constitute Desertion.
mentioned in the Articles of War.
Art. 59. Desertion. Art. 88. Personal Interest in Sale of Provisions.

Art. 60. Advising or Aiding Another to Desert. Art. 88-A. Unlawfully Influencing Action of Court.

Art. 61. Entertaining a Deserter. Art. 89. Intimidation of Persons Bringing Provisions.

Art. 62. Absence Without Leave. Art. 90. Good Order to be Maintained and Wrongs Redressed.

Art. 63. Disrespect Toward the President, Vice-President, Congress of the Philippines, or Secretary Art. 91. Provoking Speeches or Gestures.
of National Defense.
Art. 92. Dueling.
Art. 64. Disrespect Toward Superior Officer.
Articles 95 to 97:
Art. 65. Assaulting or Willfully Disobeying Superior Officer.
Art. 95. Frauds Against the Government.
Art. 66. Insubordinate Conduct Toward Non-Commissioned Officer.
Art. 96. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman.
Art. 67. Mutiny or Sedition.
Art. 97 General Article.
Art. 68. Failure to Suppress Mutiny or Sedition.
In view of the provisions of R.A. 7055, the military tribunals cannot exercise jurisdiction over
Art. 69. Quarrels; Frays; Disorders. respondents' case since the offense for which they were charged is not included in the enumeration
of "service-connected offenses or crimes" as provided for under Section 1 thereof. The said law is
Art. 70. Arrest or Confinement. very clear that the jurisdiction to try members of the AFP who commit crimes or offenses covered
by the RPC, and which are not service-connected, lies with the civil courts. Where the law is clear
Articles 72 to 92
and unambiguous, it must be taken to mean exactly what it says and the court has no choice but to
Art. 72. Refusal to Receive and Keep Prisoners. see to it that its mandate is obeyed. There is no room for interpretation, but only application. 22
Hence, the RTC cannot divest itself of its jurisdiction over the alleged crime of multiple
Art. 73. Report of Prisoners Received. murder.1âwphi1

Art. 74. Releasing Prisoner Without Authority. WHEREFORE, the assailed Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Masbate City, Branch 47, dated
December 6, 2005 and January 11, 2006, respectively, in Criminal Case No. 11846 are REVERSED
Art. 75. Delivery of Offenders to Civil Authorities. and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 47, Masbate City, is DIRECTED to reinstate Criminal
Art. 76. Misbehavior Before the Enemy. Case No. 11846 to its docket and conduct further proceedings thereon with utmost dispatch in light
of the foregoing disquisition.
Art. 77. Subordinates Compelling Commander to Surrender.
SO ORDERED.
Art. 78. Improper Use of Countersign.

Art. 79. Forcing a Safeguard.

Art. 80. Captured Property to be Secured for Public Service.

Art. 81. Dealing in Captured or Abandoned Property.

Art. 82. Relieving, Corresponding With, or Aiding the Enemy.

Art. 83. Spies.

Art. 84. Military Property. – Willful or Negligent Loss, Damage or Wrongful Disposition.

Art. 85. Waste or Unlawful Disposition of Military Property Issued to Soldiers.

Art. 86. Drunk on Duty.

Art. 87. Misbehavior of Sentinel.


CIVPRO – JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER that the respondents be ordered to jointly and severally pay 13,000 cavans of palay, or its monetary
equivalent, as actual damages, to return possession of the subject property, and to pay ₱15,000.00
G.R. No. 165676 November 22, 2010 as attorney’s fees.11
JOSE MENDOZA,* Petitioner, On January 9, 1996, the respondents filed their answer denying the allegations in the complaint,
vs. claiming, among others, that the plaintiffs had no right over the subject property as they agreed to
NARCISO GERMINO and BENIGNO GERMINO, Respondents. sell it to respondent Benigno for ₱87,000.00. As a matter of fact, respondent Benigno had already
made a ₱50,000.00 partial payment, but the plaintiffs refused to receive the balance and execute
DECISION
the deed of conveyance, despite repeated demands. The respondents also asserted that jurisdiction
BRION, J.: over the complaint lies with the Regional Trial Court since ownership and possession are the
issues.12
Before us is the petition for review on certiorari1 filed by petitioner Jose Mendoza to challenge the
decision2 and the resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 48642.4 THE PARAD RULING

FACTUAL BACKGROUND In a March 19, 1996 decision, PARAD Romeo Bello found that the respondents were mere usurpers
of the subject property, noting that they failed to prove that respondent Benigno was the plaintiffs’
The facts of the case, gathered from the records, are briefly summarized below. bona fide agricultural lessee. The PARAD ordered the respondents to vacate the subject property,
and pay the plaintiffs 500 cavans of palay as actual damages.13
On June 27, 1988, the petitioner and Aurora C. Mendoza5 (plaintiffs) filed a complaint with the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija against respondent Narciso Germino for Not satisfied, the respondents filed a notice of appeal with the DARAB, arguing that the case should
forcible entry.6 have been dismissed because the MTC’s referral to the DARAB was void with the enactment of
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657,14 which repealed the rule on referral under Presidential Decree (P.D.)
The plaintiffs claimed that they were the registered owners of a five-hectare parcel of land in No. 316.15
Soledad, Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija (subject property) under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 34267.
Sometime in 1988, respondent Narciso unlawfully entered the subject property by means of THE DARAB RULING
strategy and stealth, and without their knowledge or consent. Despite the plaintiffs’ repeated
demands, respondent Narciso refused to vacate the subject property.7 The DARAB decided the appeal on July 22, 1998. It held that it acquired jurisdiction because of the
amended complaint that sufficiently alleged an agrarian dispute, not the MTC’s referral of the case.
On August 9, 1988, respondent Narciso filed his answer, claiming, among others, that his brother, Thus, it affirmed the PARAD decision.16
respondent Benigno Germino, was the plaintiffs’ agricultural lessee and he merely helped the latter
in the cultivation as a member of the immediate farm household.8 The respondents elevated the case to the CA via a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of
Court.17
After several postponements, the plaintiffs filed a motion to remand the case to the Department of
Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB), in view of the tenancy issue raised by respondent THE CA RULING
Narciso.
The CA decided the appeal on October 6, 2003.18 It found that the MTC erred in transferring the
Without conducting a hearing, and despite respondent Narciso’s objection, the MTC issued an order case to the DARAB since the material allegations of the complaint and the relief sought show a case
on October 27, 1995, remanding the case to the DARAB, Cabanatuan City for further proceedings.9 for forcible entry, not an agrarian dispute. It noted that the subsequent filing of the amended
complaint did not confer jurisdiction upon the DARAB. Thus, the CA set aside the DARAB decision
On December 14, 1995, the plaintiffs10 filed an amended complaint with the Provincial Agrarian and remanded the case to the MTC for further proceedings.
Reform Adjudicator (PARAD), impleading respondent Benigno as additional defendant.
When the CA denied19 the subsequent motion for reconsideration,20 the petitioner filed the present
The plaintiffs alleged that Efren Bernardo was the agricultural lessee of the subject property. petition.21
Respondent Benigno unlawfully entered the subject property in 1982 or 1983 through strategy and
stealth, and without their knowledge or consent. He withheld possession of the subject property up THE PETITION
to 1987, and appropriated for himself its produce, despite repeated demands from the plaintiffs for
The petitioner insists that the jurisdiction lies with the DARAB since the nature of the action and the
the return of the property. In 1987, they discovered that respondent Benigno had transferred
allegations of the complaint show an agrarian dispute.
possession of the subject property to respondent Narciso, who refused to return the possession of
the subject property to the plaintiffs and appropriated the land’s produce for himself. The subject THE CASE FOR THE RESPONDENTS
property was fully irrigated and was capable of harvest for 2 cropping seasons. Since the subject
property could produce 100 cavans of palay per hectare for each cropping season, or a total of 500 The respondents submit that R.A. No. 6657 abrogated the rule on referral previously provided in
cavans per cropping season for the five-hectare land, the plaintiffs alleged that the respondents P.D. No. 316. Moreover, neither the Rules of Court nor the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure
were able to harvest a total of 13,000 cavans of palay from the time they unlawfully withheld (RRSP) provides that forcible entry cases can be referred to the DARAB.
possession of the subject property in 1982 until the plaintiffs filed the complaint. Thus, they prayed
THE ISSUE 8. The plaintiffs are entitled to the relief demanded or prayed for, and the whole or part
of such relief/s consist of immediately or permanently RESTRAINING, ENJOINING or
The core issue is whether the MTC or the DARAB has jurisdiction over the case. STOPPING the defendant or any person/s acting in his behalf, from entering, occupying,
or in any manner committing, performing or suffering to be committed or performed for
OUR RULING
him, any act indicative of, or tending to show any color of possession in or about the
We deny the petition. tenement, premises or subject of this suit, such as described in par. 3 of this complaint;

Jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint 9. Plaintiffs are ready and willing to post a bond answerable to any damage/s should the
issuance of the writ x x x;
It is a basic rule that jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the allegations in the
complaint.22 It is determined exclusively by the Constitution and the law. It cannot be conferred by 10. As a consequence of defendant’s malevolent refusal to vacate the premises of the
the voluntary act or agreement of the parties, or acquired through or waived, enlarged or land in dispute, plaintiffs incurred litigation expenses of P1,500.00, availing for the
diminished by their act or omission, nor conferred by the acquiescence of the court. Well to purpose the assistance of a counsel at an agreed honorarium of P5,000.00 and P250.00
emphasize, it is neither for the court nor the parties to violate or disregard the rule, this matter per appearance/ not to mention the moral damages incurred due to sleepless nights and
being legislative in character.23 mental anxiety, including exemplary damages, the award and amount of which are left
to the sound discretion of this Honorable Court.
Under Batas Pambansa Blg. 129,24 as amended by R.A. No. 7691,25 the MTC shall have exclusive
original jurisdiction over cases of forcible entry and unlawful detainer. The RRSP 26 governs the PRAYER
remedial aspects of these suits.27
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that pending the resolution of the
Under Section 5028 of R.A. No. 6657, as well as Section 3429 of Executive Order No. 129-A,30 the issue in this case, a restraining order be issued RESTRAINING, ENJOINING, or STOPPING the
DARAB has primary and exclusive jurisdiction, both original and appellate, to determine and defendant or any person/s acting in his behalf, from ENTERING OR OCCUPYING the parcel of land,
adjudicate all agrarian disputes involving the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian or any portion thereof, described in paragraph 3 of this complaint, nor in any manner committing,
Reform Program, and other agrarian laws and their implementing rules and regulations. performing or suffering to be committed or, performed for him, by himself or thru another, any
act indicative of, or tending to show any color of possession in or about the premises subject of
An agrarian dispute refers to any controversy relating to, among others, tenancy over lands devoted this suit;
to agriculture.31 For a case to involve an agrarian dispute, the following essential requisites of an
agricultural tenancy relationship must be present: (1) the parties are the landowner and the tenant; THEREAFTER, making said writ of preliminary injunction PERMANENT; and on plaintiffs’ damages,
(2) the subject is agricultural land; (3) there is consent; (4) the purpose is agricultural production; judgment be rendered ordering the defendant to pay to the plaintiffs the sum alleged in paragraph
(5) there is personal cultivation; and (6) there is sharing of harvest or payment of rental.321avvphil 10 above.

In the present case, the petitioner, as one of the plaintiffs in the MTC, made the following allegations GENERAL RELIEFS ARE LIKEWISE PRAYED FOR.33
and prayer in the complaint:
Based on these allegations and reliefs prayed, it is clear that the action in the MTC was for forcible
3. Plaintiffs are the registered owners of a parcel of land covered by and described in entry.
Transfer Certificate of Title Numbered 34267, with an area of five (5) hectares, more or
Allegation of tenancy does not divest the MTC of jurisdiction
less situated at Bo. Soledad, Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija. x x x;
Although respondent Narciso averred tenancy as an affirmative and/or special defense in his
4. That so defendant thru stealth, strategy and without the knowledge, or consent of
answer, this did not automatically divest the MTC of jurisdiction over the complaint. It continued to
administrator x x x much more of the herein plaintiffs, unlawfully entered and occupied
have the authority to hear the case precisely to determine whether it had jurisdiction to dispose of
said parcel of land;
the ejectment suit on its merits.34 After all, jurisdiction is not affected by the pleas or the theories
5. Inspite of x x x demands, defendant Germino, refused and up to the filing of this set up by the defendant in an answer or a motion to dismiss. Otherwise, jurisdiction would become
complaint, still refused to vacate the same; dependent almost entirely upon the whims of the defendant.35

6. The continuos (sic) and unabated occupancy of the land by the defendant would work Under the RRSP, the MTC is duty-bound to conduct a preliminary conference36 and, if necessary, to
and cause prejudice and irreparable damage and injury to the plaintiffs unless a writ of receive evidence to determine if such tenancy relationship had, in fact, been shown to be the real
preliminary injunction is issued; issue.37 The MTC may even opt to conduct a hearing on the special and affirmative defense of the
defendant, although under the RRSP, such a hearing is not a matter of right. 38 If it is shown during
7. This prejudice, damage or injury consist of disturbance of property rights tantamount the hearing or conference that, indeed, tenancy is the issue, the MTC should dismiss the case for
to deprivation of ownership or any of its attributes without due process of law, a lack of jurisdiction.39
diminution of plaintiffs’ property rights or dominion over the parcel of land subject of
this dispute, since they are deprived of freely entering or possessing the same; In the present case, instead of conducting a preliminary conference, the MTC immediately referred
the case to the DARAB. This was contrary to the rules. Besides, Section 240 of P.D. No. 316, which
required the referral of a land dispute case to the Department of Agrarian Reform for the
preliminary determination of the existence of an agricultural tenancy relationship, has indeed been
repealed by Section 7641 of R.A. No. 6657 in 1988.

Amended complaint did confer jurisdiction on the DARAB

Neither did the amendment of the complaint confer jurisdiction on the DARAB. The plaintiffs alleged
in the amended complaint that the subject property was previously tilled by Efren Bernardo, and
the respondents took possession by strategy and stealth, without their knowledge and consent. In
the absence of any allegation of a tenancy relationship between the parties, the action was for
recovery of possession of real property that was within the jurisdiction of the regular courts.42

The CA, therefore, committed no reversible error in setting aside the DARAB decision. While we
lament the lapse of time this forcible entry case has been pending resolution, we are not in a
position to resolve the dispute between the parties since the evidence required in courts is different
from that of administrative agencies.43

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The October 6, 2003 Decision and October 12, 2004 Resolution
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 48642 are AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
CIVPRO – JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER Anent the non-payment of filing fees on the Amended Complaint, plaintiff alleges that no new
assessment was made when the Amended Complaint was filed since there [were] no additional
G.R. No. 185663 June 20, 2012 damages prayed for. The Manchester decision has been recently relaxed as to allow additional
payment of the necessary fees if the Honorable Court so orders an assessment thereof.
REMEDIOS ANTONINO, Petitioner,
vs. The Court is not persuaded.
THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF MAKATI CITY and TAN TIAN SU, Respondents.
The Amended Complaint, which the Court notes to have been filed at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon
RESOLUTION or few hours after the initial complaint was filed, further prays that judgment be rendered "ordering
defendant to sell his property located at 1623 Cypress, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City covered by
REYES, J.:
TCT No. 426900 to plaintiff in accordance with the terms and conditions stipulated in their
Nature of the Case agreement dated July 7, 2004 and ordering defendant to desist from selling his property to any
other party other than plaintiff.", which makes the instant case also an action for Specific
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Decision1 dated May Performance in addition to the claim for Damages. However, the value of the described property
26, 2008 and Resolution2 dated December 5, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. was not stated in the prayer and no docket fees were paid. Thus, following the ruling of the Supreme
89145. Court in the case of Manchester Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 75919,
May 7, 1987, that the Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the
Factual Antecedents prescribed docket fee, the instant case is hereby dismissed.11
Since March 21, 1978, petitioner Remedios Antonino (Antonino) had been leasing a residential On December 23, 2004, Su filed an Omnibus Motion,12 praying for the cancellation of the notice of
property located at Makati City and owned by private respondent Tan Tian Su (Su). Under the lis pendens, which Antonino caused to be annotated on the title covering the subject property and
governing lease contract, Antonino was accorded with the right of first refusal in the event Su would the issuance of a summary judgment on his counterclaims. Su, among others, alleged the propriety
decide to sell the subject property.3 of cancelling the notice of lis pendens in view of the dismissal of the complaint and Antonino’s
On July 7, 2004, the parties executed a document denominated as Undertaking Agreement 4 where failure to appeal therefrom.
Su agreed to sell to Antonino the subject property for ₱39,500,000.00. However, in view of a On January 3, 2005, Antonino filed a Motion for Reconsideration,13 claiming that her complaint is a
disagreement as to who between them would shoulder the payment of the capital gains tax, the real action and the location of the subject property is determinative of its venue. Alternatively, she
sale did not proceed as intended.5 submitted a certification issued by the Commission on Elections, stating that she is a resident of
On July 9, 2004, Antonino filed a complaint against Su with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati Makati City. She then prayed for the reinstatement of her complaint and issuance of an order
City, for the reimbursement of the cost of repairs on the subject property and payment of damages. directing the clerk of court to assess the proper docket fees. This was denied by the RTC in an Order14
The complaint was raffled to Branch 149 and docketed as Civil Case No. 04-802.6 Later that same dated January 6, 2005, holding that there was non-compliance with Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 of
day, Antonino filed an amended complaint to enforce the Undertaking Agreement and compel Su the Rules of Court.
to sell to her the subject property.7 Antonino thus filed a Motion for Reconsideration15 dated January 21, 2005, claiming that there was
In an Order8 dated December 8, 2004, the RTC dismissed Antonino’s complaint on the grounds of due observance of the rules on motions. Antonino alleged that her motion for reconsideration from
improper venue and non-payment of the appropriate docket fees. According to the RTC, Antonino’s the RTC’s December 8, 2004 was set for hearing on January 7, 2005 and Su received a copy thereof
complaint is one for specific performance, damages and sum of money, which are personal actions on January 6, 2005. Antonino pleaded for a liberal interpretation of the rules as Su was notified of
that should have been filed in the court of the place where any of the parties resides. Antonino and her motion before the hearing thereon and was not in any way prejudiced. She also reiterated her
Su reside in Muntinlupa and Manila, respectively, thus Makati City is not the proper venue. arguments for the reinstatement of her complaint.
Specifically: In a Joint Resolution16 dated February 24, 2005, the RTC denied Su’s Omnibus Motion and
The instant case is an action for specific performance with damages, a personal action, which may Antonino’s January 21, 2005 Motion for Reconsideration. The RTC refused to cancel the notice of lis
be commenced and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the pendens, holding that:
defendant or any of the principal defendants resides (Section 2, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court). It is quite clear that the dismissal of the Amended Complaint was anchored on two grounds, e.g. (1)
Records show that plaintiff is a resident of 706 Acacia Avenue, Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa for improper venue and (2) for non-payment of docket fee. It is elementary that when a complaint
City while defendant is a resident of 550 Sto. Cristo St., Binondo, Manila. Hence, the instant case was dismissed based on these grounds[,] the court did not resolve the case on the merits. Moreover,
should have been filed in the place of residence of either the plaintiff or defendant, at the election "a court cannot acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case unless the docket fees are
of the plaintiff. Contrary to the claim of plaintiff, the alleged written agreements presented by the paid" x x x. Thus, the cause of action laid down in the complaint remains unresolved for proper re-
plaintiff in her Amended Complaint do not contain any stipulation as to the venue of actions. x x x9 filing before the proper court. Furthermore, the Supreme Court said: "The cancellation of such a
The RTC also ruled that it did not acquire jurisdiction over Antonino’s complaint in view of her failure precautionary notice is therefore also a mere incident in the action, and may be ordered by the
to pay the correct amount of docket fees. Citing Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of Court having jurisdiction of it at any given time." x x x17
Appeals,10 the RTC ruled that:
The RTC maintained its earlier ruling that Antonino’s Motion for Reconsideration from the of the case. She only assails the manner in which the trial court formulated its judgment in the
December 8, 2004 Order is pro-forma and did not suspend the running of the period to file an exercise of its jurisdiction. It follows that petitioner cannot use lack of jurisdiction as ground to annul
appeal. The RTC also reiterated that Antonino’s complaint is a personal action such that the proper the judgment by claiming grave abuse of discretion. In this case where the court refused to exercise
venue therefore is either the City of Manila or Muntinlupa City. jurisdiction due to improper venue, neither lack of jurisdiction nor grave abuse of discretion is
available to challenge the assailed order of dismissal of the trial court.20 (Citations omitted)
On April 1, 2005, Antonino filed with the CA a petition for annulment of judgment.18 Antonino
prayed for the nullification of the RTC’s Order dated December 8, 2004 dismissing her complaint, Antonino filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied by the CA in its Resolution dated
Order dated January 6, 2005 denying her motion for reconsideration and Joint Resolution dated December 5, 2008. 21
February 24, 2005 denying her motion for reconsideration of the January 6, 2005 Order. According
to Antonino, the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it Issue
ruled that her action for the enforcement of the Undertaking Agreement is personal and when it
The sole issue for the resolution of this Court is the propriety of Antonino’s use of the remedy of a
deprived her of an opportunity to pay the correct amount of docket fees. The RTC’s grave abuse of
petition for annulment of judgment as against the final and executory orders of the RTC.
discretion, Antonino posited, was likewise exhibited by its strict application of the rules on motions
and summary denial of her motion for reconsideration. Our Ruling
In its Decision19 dated May 26, 2008, the CA dismissed Antonino’s petition. While the CA recognized In Ramos v. Judge Combong, Jr.,22 this Court expounded that the remedy of annulment of judgment
Antonino’s faulty choice of remedy, it proceeded to resolve the issues she raised relative to the is only available under certain exceptional circumstances as this is adverse to the concept of
dismissal of her complaint. Thus: immutability of final judgments:
It should be stressed that in this case, there is neither allegation in the petition, nor sufficient proof Annulment of judgment is a recourse equitable in character, allowed only in exceptional cases as
adduced showing highly exceptional circumstance to justify the failure of petitioner to avail of the where there is no available or other adequate remedy. Rule 47 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
remedies of appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedy through no fault attributable to as amended, governs actions for annulment of judgments or final orders and resolutions, and
[her] before filing this petition for annulment of judgment. In Manipor v. Ricafort, the Supreme Section 2 thereof explicitly provides only two grounds for annulment of judgment, i.e., extrinsic
Court held, thus: fraud and lack of jurisdiction. The underlying reason is traceable to the notion that annulling final
judgments goes against the grain of finality of judgment. Litigation must end and terminate
If the petitioner failed to avail of such remedies without sufficient justification, he cannot avail of
sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an effective administration of justice that once a
an action for annulment because, otherwise, he would benefit from his own inaction or negligence.
judgment has become final, the issue or cause involved therein should be laid to rest. The basic rule
Notwithstanding the foregoing procedural infirmity, and in the interest of justice, we shall look into of finality of judgment is grounded on the fundamental principle of public policy and sound practice
the issues raised and decide the case on the merit. that at the risk of occasional error, the judgment of courts and the award of quasi-judicial agencies
must become final at some definite date fixed by law.23 (Citations omitted)
xxxx
In Barco v. Court of Appeals, 24 this Court emphasized that only void judgments, by reason of
A perusal of the allegations of the complaint unambiguously shows that petitioner seeks to enforce "extrinsic fraud" or the court’s lack of jurisdiction, are susceptible to being annulled.
the commitment of private respondent to sell his property in accordance with the terms and
conditions of their purported agreement dated July 7, 2004. By implication, petitioner does not The law sanctions the annulment of certain judgments which, though final, are ultimately void.
question the ownership of private respondent over the property nor does she claim, by any color of Annulment of judgment is an equitable principle not because it allows a party-litigant another
title, right to possess the property or to its recovery. The action is simply for the enforcement of a opportunity to reopen a judgment that has long lapsed into finality but because it enables him to
supposed contract, and thus, unmistakably a personal action. be discharged from the burden of being bound to a judgment that is an absolute nullity to begin
with.25
xxxx
Apart from the requirement that the existence of "extrinsic fraud" or "lack of jurisdiction" should
Guided by the above rule (Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Court), petitioner should have filed the be amply demonstrated, one who desires to avail this remedy must convince that the ordinary and
case either in Muntinlupa City, where she resides, or in Manila, where private respondent maintains other appropriate remedies, such as an appeal, are no longer available for causes not attributable
his residence. Other than filing the complaint in any of these places, petitioner proceeds with the to him. This is clearly provided under Section 1, Rule 47 of the Rules of Court.
risk of a possible dismissal of her case. Unfortunately for petitioner, private respondent forthwith
raised improper venue as an affirmative defense and his stand was sustained by trial court, thus, Antonino’s recourse to annulment of judgment is seriously flawed and the reasons are patent. There
resulting to the dismissal of the case. is therefore no reason to disturb the questioned issuances of the RTC that are already final and
executory.
Further, it is important to note that in a petition for annulment of judgment based on lack of
jurisdiction, the petitioner must show not merely an abuse of jurisdictional discretion but an A petition for annulment of judgment cannot serve as a substitute for the lost remedy of an appeal.
absolute lack of jurisdiction. The concept of lack of jurisdiction as a ground to annul a judgment
First, Antonino cannot pursue the annulment of the various issuances of the RTC, primary of which
does not embrace abuse of discretion. Petitioner, by claiming grave abuse of discretion on the part
is the Order dated December 8, 2004, in order to avoid the adverse consequences of their becoming
of the trial court, actually concedes and presupposes the jurisdiction of the court to take cognizance
final and executory because of her neglect in utilizing the ordinary remedies available. Antonino did
not proffer any explanation for her failure to appeal the RTC’s Order dated December 8, 2004 and, not contemplate "grave abuse of discretion" considering that "jurisdiction" is different from the
thereafter, the Order dated January 6, 2005, denying her Motion for Reconsideration dated January exercise thereof. As ruled in Tolentino v. Judge Leviste:32
3, 2005. Knowledge of rudimentary remedial rules immediately indicates that an appeal was already
available from the Order dated December 8, 2004, as this is a final order as contemplated under Jurisdiction is not the same as the exercise of jurisdiction. As distinguished from the exercise of
Sections 2, 3 and 5 of Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, and there was no legal compulsion for Antonino jurisdiction, jurisdiction is the authority to decide a cause, and not the decision rendered therein.
to move for reconsideration. Nonetheless, since there is no bar for her to file a motion for Where there is jurisdiction over the person and the subject matter, the decision on all other
reconsideration so as to give the RTC opportunity to reverse itself before elevating the matter for questions arising in the case is but an exercise of the jurisdiction. And the errors which the court
the appellate courts’ review, appeal is the prescribed remedy from the denial of such motion and may commit in the exercise of jurisdiction are merely errors of judgment which are the proper
not another motion for reconsideration. While Section 1 of Rule 41 of the Rules of Court includes subject of an appeal.33 (Citation omitted)
"an order denying a motion for new trial or reconsideration" in the enumeration of unappealable
In fact, the RTC did not gravely abuse its discretion or err in dismissing Antonino’s complaint. The
matters, this Court clarified in Quelnan v. VHF Philippines, Inc. 26 that such refers to a motion for
RTC was correct in classifying Antonino’s cause of action as personal and in holding that it was
reconsideration of an interlocutory order and the denial of a motion for reconsideration of an order
instituted in the wrong venue. Personal action is one that is founded on privity of contracts between
of dismissal is a final order, therefore, appealable. Moreover, a second motion for reconsideration
the parties; and in which the plaintiff usually seeks the recovery of personal property, the
from a final judgment or order is prohibited, hence, can never interrupt the period to perfect an
enforcement of a contract, or recovery of damages. Real action, on the other hand, is one anchored
appeal.
on the privity of real estate, where the plaintiff seeks the recovery of ownership or possession of
The RTC may have been overly strict in the observance of the three-day notice rule under Section real property or interest in it.34 Antonino’s following allegations in her amended complaint show
4, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court contrary to liberal stance taken by this Court in cases when the that one of her causes of action is one for the enforcement or consummation of a contract, hence,
purpose of such rule can be achieved by giving the opposing party sufficient time to study and a personal action:
controvert the motion.27 Justice and equity would thus suggest that the fifteen-day period within
XII
which Antonino can appeal should be counted from her receipt on January 7, 2005 28 of the Order
dated January 6, 2005 denying her Motion for Reconsideration dated January 3, 2005. On July 7, 2004, plaintiff and defendant executed a document entitled "Undertaking Agreement"
Unfortunately, even liberality proved to be inadequate to neutralize the adverse consequences of (copy of which is hereto attached as Annex H) wherein defendant agreed to sell said property to
Antonino’s negligence as she allowed such period to lapse without filing an appeal, erroneously plaintiff "who has leased said property since March 21, 1978 up to the present" with the plaintiff
believing that a second motion for reconsideration is the proper remedy. While a second motion paying a downpayment of $50,000.00 US dollars the following day, July 8, 2004.
for reconsideration is not prohibited insofar as interlocutory orders are concerned, 29 the Orders
dated December 8, 2004 and January 6, 2005 are final orders. xxxx

In fact, even if the period to appeal would be counted from Antonino’s receipt of the Order dated XIV
February 24, 2005 denying her second motion for reconsideration, she interposed no appeal and
filed a petition for annulment of judgment on April 1, 2005 instead. This, for sure, constitutes a Defendant also refused to accept the $50,000.00 US Dollars and was about to tear up the document
categorical admission that the assailed issuances of the RTC had already become final and executory they previously signed the day before when plaintiff prevented him from doing so.
in view of her omission to perfect an appeal within the mandated period. By no means can her XV
petition for annulment of judgment prosper as that would, in effect, sanction her blatant negligence
or sheer obliviousness to proper procedure. Consequently, plaintiff discovered that defendant was already negotiating to sell the said property
to another Chinese national who incidentally is also one of plaintiff’s buyers.
Let it be stressed at the outset that before a party can avail of the reliefs provided for by Rule 47,
i.e., annulment of judgments, final orders, and resolutions, it is a condition sine qua non that one xxxx
must have failed to move for new trial in, or appeal from, or file a petition for relief against said
issuances or take other appropriate remedies thereon, through no fault attributable to him. If he Premises considered, in the interest of substantial justice, it is most respectfully prayed that after
failed to avail of those cited remedies without sufficient justification, he cannot resort to the action due hearing that judgment be rendered:
for annulment provided in Rule 47, for otherwise he would benefit from his own inaction or
1. Ordering defendant to sell his property located at 1623 Cypress, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City
negligence.30 (Citation omitted)
covered by TCT No. 426900 to plaintiff in accordance with the terms and conditions stipulated in
"Grave abuse of discretion" is not a ground to annul a final and executory judgment. their agreement dated July 7, 2004.

Second, a petition for annulment of judgment can only be based on "extrinsic fraud" and "lack of x x x x35
jurisdiction" and cannot prosper on the basis of "grave abuse of discretion". By anchoring her
Antonino’s cause of action is premised on her claim that there has already been a perfected contract
petition on the alleged grave abuse of discretion that attended the dismissal of her complaint and
of sale by virtue of their execution of the Undertaking Agreement and Su had refused to comply
the denial of her two (2) motions for reconsideration, Antonino, is, in effect, enlarging the concept
with his obligations as seller. However, by claiming the existence of a perfected contract of sale, it
of "lack of jurisdiction". As this Court previously clarified in Republic of the Philippines v. "G"
does not mean that Antonino acquired title to the subject property. She does not allege otherwise
Holdings, Inc.,31 "lack of jurisdiction" as a ground for the annulment of judgments pertains to lack of
jurisdiction over the person of the defending party or over the subject matter of the claim. It does
and tacitly acknowledges Su’s title to the subject property by asking for the consummation of the
sale.

That there is a private document supposedly evidencing the alleged sale does not confer to
Antonino title to the subject property.1âwphi1 Ownership is transferred when there is actual or
constructive delivery and the thing is considered delivered when it is placed in the control or
possession of the buyer or when the sale is made through a public instrument and the contrary does
not appear or cannot be clearly inferred.36 In other words, Antonino’s complaint is not in the nature
of a real action as ownership of the subject property is not at issue.

Moreover, that the object of the alleged sale is a real property does not make Antonino’s complaint
real in nature in the absence of a contrary claim of title. After a contract of sale is perfected, the
right of the parties to reciprocally demand performance, thus consummation, arises – the vendee
may require the vendor to compel the transfer the title to the object of the sale37 and the vendor
may require the payment of the purchase price.38 The action to cause the consummation of a sale
does not involve an adverse claim of ownership as the vendor’s title is recognized and the vendor is
simply being asked to perform an act, specifically, the transfer of such title by any of the recognized
modes of delivery.

Considering that the filing of the complaint in a wrong venue sufficed for the dismissal thereof, it
would be superfluous to discuss if Antonino’s non-payment of the correct docket fees likewise
warranted it.

At any rate, even if the RTC erred in ordering the dismissal of her complaint, such had already
become final and executory and will not be disturbed as it had jurisdiction and it was not alleged,
much less, proved that there was extrinsic fraud. Moreover, annulment of the assailed orders of the
RTC will not issue if ordinary remedies, such as an appeal, were lost and were not availed of because
of Antonino’s fault. Litigation should end and terminate sometime and somewhere. It is essential to
an effective and efficient administration of justice that, once a judgment has become final, the
winning party should not be deprived of the fruits of the verdict.39

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit and the Decision dated
May 26, 2008 and Resolution dated December 5, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
89145 are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
CIVPRO – OBJECTIONS TO JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER When Gilbert Semon died in 1983,13 his children extrajudicially partitioned the property among
themselves and allotted Lot No. 1 thereof in favor of Margarita. 14 Since then, Margarita allegedly
G.R. No. 173021 October 20, 2010 paid the realty tax over Lot No. 115 and occupied and improved the property together with her
husband; while at the same time, tolerating her first cousins’ occupation of portions of the same
DELFIN LAMSIS, MAYNARD MONDIGUING, JOSE VALDEZ, JR. and Heirs of AGUSTIN KITMA,
lot.
represented by EUGENE KITMA, Petitioners,
vs. This state of affairs changed when petitioners Delfin and Agustin allegedly began expanding their
MARGARITA SEMON DONG-E, Respondent. occupation on the subject property and selling portions thereof.16 Delfin allegedly sold a 400-square
meter portion of Lot No. 1 to petitioner Maynard17 Mondiguing (Maynard) while Agustin sold
DECISION
another portion to petitioner Jose Valdez (Jose).18
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
With such developments, Margarita filed a complaint 19 for recovery of ownership, possession,
There is laches when a party is aware, even in the early stages of the proceedings, of a possible reconveyance and damages against all four occupants of Lot No. 1 before the Regional Trial Court
jurisdictional objection, and has every opportunity to raise said objection, but fails to do so, even (RTC) of Baguio City. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 4140-R and raffled to Branch 59. The
on appeal. complaint prayed for the annulment of the sales to Maynard and Jose and for petitioners to vacate
the portions of the property which exceed the areas allowed to them by Margarita. 20 Margarita
This is a Petition for Review1 assailing the March 30, 2006 Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in claimed that, as they are her first cousins, she is willing to donate to Delfin and Agustin a portion of
CA-G.R. CV No. 78987 as well as its May 26, 2006 Resolution3 which denied petitioners’ motion for Lot No. 1, provided that she retains the power to choose such portion.21
reconsideration. The dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads:
Petitioners denied Margarita’s claims of ownership and possession over Lot No. 1. According to
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the appeal is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and the Delfin and Agustin, Lot No. 1 is a public land claimed by the heirs of Joaquin Smith (not parties to
judgment dated January 8, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City in Civil Case No. 4140-R the case).22 The Smiths gave their permission for Delfin and Agustin’s parents to occupy the land
is AFFIRMED in toto. sometime in 1969 or 1970. They also presented their neighbors who testified that it was Delfin and
Agustin as well as their respective parents who occupied Lot No. 1, not Margarita and her parents.
SO ORDERED.4
Delfin and Agustin also assailed the muniments of ownership presented by Margarita as fabricated,
Factual antecedents unauthenticated, and invalid. It was pointed out that the Deed of Quitclaim, allegedly executed by
This case involves a conflict of ownership and possession over an untitled parcel of land, all of Ap-ap’s children, failed to include two – Rita Bocahan and Stewart Sito.23 Margarita admitted
denominated as Lot No. 1, with an area of 80,736 square meters. The property is located along Km. during trial that Rita Bocahan and Stewart Sito were her uncle and aunt, but did not explain why
5 Asin Road, Baguio City and is part of a larger parcel of land with an area of 186,090 square meters. they were excluded from the quitclaim.
While petitioners are the actual occupants of Lot No. 1, respondent is claiming ownership thereof According to Maynard and Jose, Delfin and Agustin were the ones publicly and openly in possession
and is seeking to recover its possession from petitioners. of the land and who introduced improvements thereon. They also corroborated Delfin and Agustin’s
According to respondent Margarita Semon Dong-E (Margarita), her family’s ownership and allegation that the real owners of the property are the heirs of Joaquin Smith.24
occupation of Lot No. 1 can be traced as far back as 1922 to her late grandfather, Ap-ap.5 Upon Ap- In order to debunk petitioners’ claim that the Smiths owned the subject property, Margarita
ap’s death, the property was inherited by his children, who obtained a survey plan in 1964 of the presented a certified copy of a Resolution from the Land Management Office denying the Smiths’
186,090-square meter property, which included Lot No. 1.6 On the same year, they declared the application for recognition of the subject property as part of their ancestral land. 25 The resolution
property for taxation purposes in the name of "The Heirs of Ap-ap."7 The 1964 tax declaration bears explains that the application had to be denied because the Smiths did not "possess, occupy or utilize
a notation that reads: "Reconstructed from an old Tax Declaration No. 363 dated May 10, 1922 per all or a portion of the property x x x. The actual occupants (who were not named in the resolution)
true of same presented."8 whose improvements are visible are not in any way related to the applicant or his co-heirs."26
The heirs of Ap-ap then executed, for a ₱500.00 consideration, a Deed of Quitclaim9 on February To bolster her claim of ownership and possession, Margarita introduced as evidence an
26, 1964 in favor of their brother Gilbert Semon (Margarita’s father). unnumbered resolution of the Community Special Task Force on Ancestral Lands (CSTFAL) of the
Sometime between 1976 and 1978,10 Gilbert Semon together with his wife Mary Lamsis, allowed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), acting favorably on her and her siblings’
his in-laws Manolo Lamsis and Nancy Lamsis-Kitma, to stay on a portion of Lot No. 1 together with ancestral land claim over a portion of the 186,090-square meter property.27 The said resolution
their respective families.11 They were allowed to erect their houses, introduce improvements, and states:
plant trees thereon. When Manolo Lamsis and Nancy Lamsis-Kitma died sometime in the 1980s, The land subject of the instant application is the ancestral land of the herein applicants. Well-
their children, petitioners Delfin Lamsis (Delfin) and Agustin Kitma (Agustin), took possession of established is the fact that the land treated herein was first declared for taxation purposes in 1922
certain portions of Lot No. 1. Delfin possessed 4,000 square meters of Lot No. 1, while Agustin under Tax Declaration No. 363 by the applicant’s grandfather Ap-Ap (one name). Said application
occupied 5,000 square meters thereof.12 Nevertheless, the heirs of Gilbert Semon tolerated the acts was reconstructed in 1965 after the original got lost during the war. These tax declarations were
of their first cousins. issued and recorded in the Municipality of Tuba, Benguet, considering that the land was then within
the territorial jurisdiction of the said municipality. That upon the death of declarant Ap-Ap his heirs The resolution was not signed by two members of the CSTFAL on the ground that the signing of the
x x x transferred the tax declaration in their name, [which tax declaration is] now with the City unnumbered resolution was overtaken by the enactment of the Republic Act (RA) No. 8371 or the
assessor’s office of Baguio. Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA). The IPRA removed the authority of the DENR to issue
ancestral land claim certificates and transferred the same to the National Commission on
The land consisting of four (4) lots with a total area of ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX THOUSAND NINETY Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).29 The Ancestral Land Application No. Bg-L-064 of the Heirs of Gilbert
(186,090) SQUARE METERS, is covered by Psu-198317 duly approved by the Director of Lands on Semon was transferred to the NCIP, Cordillera Administrative Region, La Trinidad, Benguet and re-
October 4, 1963 in the name of Ap-Ap (one name). In 1964, the same land was the subject of a docketed as Case No. 05-RHO-CAR-03.30 The petitioners filed their protest in the said case before
petition filed by Gilbert Semon, as petitioner, before the Court of First Instance of the City of Baguio the NCIP. The same has been submitted for resolution.
in the reopening of Judicial Proceedings under Civil Case No. 1, GLRO Record No. 211 for the
registration and the issuance of Certificate of Title of said land. The land registration case was Ruling of the Regional Trial Court31
however overtaken by the decision of the Supreme Court declaring such judicial proceedings null
and void because the courts of law have no jurisdiction. After summarizing the evidence presented by both parties, the trial court found that it
preponderates in favor of respondent’s long-time possession of and claim of ownership over the
It has been sufficiently substantiated by the applicants that prior to and at the time of the pendency subject property.32 The survey plan of the subject property in the name of the Heirs of Ap-ap
of the land registration case and henceforth up to and including the present, the herein applicants executed way back in 1962 and the tax declarations thereafter issued to the respondent and her
by themselves and through their predecessor-in-interest have been in exclusive, continuous, and siblings all support her claim that her family and their predecessors-in-interest have all been in
material possession and occupation of the said parcel of land mentioned above under claim of possession of the property to the exclusion of others. The court likewise gave credence to the
ownership, devoting the same for residential and agricultural purposes. Found are the residential documentary evidence of the transfer of the land from the Heirs of Ap-ap to respondent’s father
houses of the applicants as well as those of their close relatives, while the other areas planted to and, eventually to respondent herself. The series of transfers of the property were indications of
fruit trees, coffee and banana, and seasonal crops. Also noticeable therein are permanent stone and the respondent’s and her predecessors’ interest over the property. The court opined that while
earthen fences, terraces, clearings, including irrigation gadgets. these pieces of documentary evidence were not conclusive proof of actual possession, they lend
credence to respondent’s claim because, "in the ordinary course of things, persons will not execute
On the matter of the applicant[s’] indiguinity [sic] and qualifications, there is no doubt that they are legal documents dealing with real property, unless they believe, and have the basis to believe, that
members of the National Cultural Communities, particularly the Ibaloi tribe. They are the legitimate they have an interest in the property subject of the legal documents x x x."33
grandchildren of Ap-Ap (one name) who lived along the Asin Road area. His legal heirs are: Orani
Ap-Ap, married to Calado Salda; Rita Ap-Ap, married to Jose Bacacan; Sucdad Ap-Ap, married to In contrast, the trial court found nothing on record to substantiate the allegations of the
Oragon Wakit; and Gilbert Semon, a former vice-mayor of Tuba, Benguet, [who] adopted the petititioners that they and their parents were the long-time possessors of the subject property.
common name of their father Semon, as it is the customary practice among the early Ibalois. x x x Their own statements belied their assertions. Petitioner Maynard and Jose both admitted that they
could not secure title for the property from the Bureau of Lands because there were pending
On the matter regarding the inheritance of the heirs of Ap-Ap, it is important to state [that] Gilbert ancestral land claims over the property.34 Petitioner Agustin’s Townsite Sales Application over the
Semon consolidated ownership thereof and became the sole heir in 1964, by way of a "Deed of property was held in abeyance because of respondent’s own claim, which was eventually favorably
Quitclaim" executed by the heirs in his favor. As to the respective share of the applicants[’] co-heirs, considered by the CSTFAL.35
the same was properly adjudicated in 1989 with the execution of an "Extrajudicial Settlement/
Partition of Estate with Waiver of Rights." The dispositive portion of the trial court’s Decision reads:

With regard to the overlapping issue, it is pertinent to state that application No. Bg-L-066 of Thomas WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the [respondent] and
Smith has already been denied by us in our Resolution dated November 1997. As to the other against the [petitioners] –
adverse claims therein by reason of previous conveyances in favor of third parties, the same were
likewise excluded resulting in the reduction of the area originally applied from ONE HUNDRED (1) Declaring the transfer of a portion of Lot 1 of PSU 198317 made by the [petitioner]
EIGHTY SIX THOUSAND NINETY (186,090) SQUARE METERS, more or less to ONE HUNDRED TEN Delfin Lamsis to Menard Mondiguing and Jose Valdez, Jr. null and void;
THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED FORTY TWO (110,342) SQUARE METERS, more or less. Considering
(2) Ordering the [petitioners] Delfin Lamsis, Agustin Kitma, Menard Mondiguing and Jose
the foregoing developments, we find no legal and procedural obstacle in giving due course to the
Valdez, Jr., to vacate the area they are presently occupying that is within Lot 1 of PSU
instant application.
198317 belonging to the [respondent] and to surrender possession thereof to the
Now therefore, we hereby [resolve] that the application for Recognition of Ancestral Land Claim [respondent];
filed by the Heirs of Gilbert Semon, represented by Juanito Semon, be granted [and] a Certificate of
(3) To pay [respondent] attorney’s fees in the amount of ₱10,000.00; and
Ancestral Land Claim (CALC) be issued to the herein applicants by the Secretary, Department of
Environment and Natural Resources, Visayas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, through the Regional (4) To pay the costs of suit.
Executive Director, DENR-CAR, Diego Silang Street, Baguio City. The area of the claim stated herein
above is however subject to the outcome of the final survey to be forthwith executed. SO ORDERED.36

Carried this 23rd day of June 1998.28 It appears that no motion for reconsideration was filed before the trial court. Nevetheless, the trial
court issued an Order37 allowing the petitioners’ Notice of Appeal.38
Ruling of the Court of Appeals39 Ibaloi tribe of the Benguet Province should be applied to their dispute as mandated by Section 65,
Chapter IX of RA 8371, which states: "When disputes involve ICCs/IPs,51 customary laws and
The sole issue resolved by the appellate court was whether the trial court erred in ruling in favor of practices shall be used to resolve the dispute."
respondent in light of the adduced evidence. Citing the rule on preponderance of evidence, the CA
held that the respondent was able to discharge her burden in proving her title and interest to the In the alternative that jurisdiction over an accion reivindicatoria is held to be vested in the trial court,
subject property. Her documentary evidence were amply supported by the testimonial evidence of the petitioners insist that the courts should dismiss the reivindicatory action on the ground of litis
her witnesses. pendentia.52 They likewise argue that NCIP has primary jurisdiction over ancestral lands, hence, the
courts should not interfere "when the dispute demands the exercise of sound administrative
In contrast, petitioners only made bare allegations in their testimonies that are insufficient to discretion requiring special knowledge, experience and services of the administrative tribunal x x x
overcome respondent’s documentary evidence. In cases where the doctrine of primary jurisdiction is clearly applicable, the court cannot arrogate
unto itself the authority to resolve a controversy, the jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with
Petitioners moved for a reconsideration40 of the adverse decision but the same was denied.
an administrative body of special competence."53 The courts should stand aside in order to prevent
Hence this petition, which was initially denied for failure to show that the CA committed any the possibility of creating conflicting decisions.54
reversible error.41 Upon petitioners’ motion for reconsideration,42 the petition was reinstated in the
Respondent’s arguments
Court’s January 15, 2007 Resolution.43
Respondent opines that the appellate court did not commit any reversible error in affirming the trial
Petitioners’ arguments
court’s decision. The present petition is a mere dilatory tactic to frustrate the speedy administration
Petitioners assign as error the CA’s appreciation of the evidence already affirmed and considered of justice.55
by the trial court. They maintain that the change in the presiding judges who heard and decided
Respondent also asserts that questions of fact are prohibited in a Rule 45 petition. 56 Thus, the
their case resulted in the appreciation of what would otherwise be inadmissible evidence.44
appreciation and consideration of the factual issues are no longer reviewable. 57
Petitioners ask that the Court exempt their petition from the general rule that a trial judge’s
assessment of the credibility of witnesses is accorded great respect on appeal. The issue of lack of jurisdiction is raised for the first time in the petition before this Court. It was
never raised before the trial court or the CA. Thus, respondent insists that petitioners are now
To support their claim that the trial and appellate courts erred in ruling in favor of respondent, they
barred by laches from attacking the trial court’s jurisdiction over the case. Citing Aragon v. Court of
assailed the various pieces of evidence offered by respondent. They maintain that the Deed of
Appeals,58 respondent argues that the jurisdictional issue should have been raised at the appellate
Quitclaim executed by the Heirs of Ap-ap is spurious and lacks the parties’ and witnesses’ signatures.
level at the very least so as to avail of the doctrine that the ground lack of jurisdiction over the
Moreover, it is a mere photocopy, which was never authenticated by the notary public in court and
subject matter of the case may be raised at any stage of the proceedings even on appeal.59
no reasons were proferred regarding the existence, loss, and contents of the original copy.45 Under
the best evidence rule, the Deed of Quitclaim is inadmissible in evidence and should have been Respondent maintains that there is no room for the application of litis pendentia because the issues
disregarded by the court. in the application for ancestral land claim are different from the issue in a reivindicatory action. The
issue before the NCIP is whether the Government, as grantor, will recognize the ancestral land claim
Respondent did not prove that she and her husband possessed the subject property since time
of respondent over a public alienable land; while the issue in the reivindicatory case before the trial
immemorial. Petitioners argue that respondent admitted possessing and cultivating only the land
court is ownership, possession, and right to recover the real property.60
that lies outside the subject property.46
Given that the elements of lis pendens are absent in case at bar, the allegation of forum-shopping
Petitioners next assail the weight to be given to respondent’s muniments of ownership, such as the
is also bereft of merit. Any judgment to be rendered by the NCIP will not amount to res judicata in
tax declarations and the survey plan. They insist that these are not indubitable proofs of
the instant case.61
respondent’s ownership over the subject property given that there are other claimants to the land
(who are not parties to this case) who also possess a survey plan over the subject property. 47 Issues
Petitioners then assert their superior right to the property as the present possessors thereof. They The petitioners present the following issues for our consideration:
cite pertinent provisions of the New Civil Code which presume good faith possession on the part of
the possessor and puts the burden on the plaintiff in an action to recover to prove her superior 1. Whether the appellate court disregarded material facts and circumstances in affirming
title.48 the trial court’s decision;

Petitioners next assert that they have a right to the subject property by the operation of acquisitive 2. Whether petitioners have acquired the subject property by prescription;
prescription. They posit that they have been in possession of a public land publicly, peacefully,
exclusively and in the concept of owners for more than 30 years. Respondent’s assertion that 3. Whether the trial court has jurisdiction to decide the case in light of the effectivity of
petitioners are merely possessors by tolerance is unsubstantiated.49 RA 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 at the time that the complaint was
instituted;
Petitioners also maintain that the reivindicatory action should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction
in light of the enactment of the IPRA, which gives original and exclusive jurisdiction over disputes 4. If the trial court retains jurisdiction, whether the ancestral land claim pending before
involving ancestral lands and domains to the NCIP.50 They assert that the customary laws of the the NCIP should take precedence over the reivindicatory action.62
Our Ruling and uninterrupted. Possession not in the concept of owner, such as the one claimed by petitioners,
cannot ripen into ownership by acquisitive prescription, unless the juridical relation is first expressly
Whether the appellate court disregarded material facts and circumstances in affirming the trial repudiated and such repudiation has been communicated to the other party. Acts of possessory
court’s decision character executed due to license or by mere tolerance of the owner are inadequate for purposes
of acquisitive prescription. Possession by tolerance is not adverse and such possessory acts, no
Both the trial and the appellate courts ruled that respondent has proven her claims of ownership
matter how long performed, do not start the running of the period of prescription.68
and possession with a preponderance of evidence. Petitioners now argue that the two courts erred
in their appreciation of the evidence. They ask the Court to review the evidence of both parties, In the instant case, petitioners made no effort to allege much less prove any act of repudiation
despite the CA’s finding that the trial court committed no error in appreciating the evidence sufficient for the reckoning of the acquisitive prescription. At most, we can find on record the sale
presented during trial. Hence, petitioners seek a review of questions of fact, which is beyond the by petitioners Delfin and Agustin of parts of the property to petitioners Maynard and Jose; but the
province of a Rule 45 petition. A question of fact exists if the uncertainty centers on the truth or same was done only in 1998, shortly before respondent filed a case against them. Hence, the 30-
falsity of the alleged facts.63 "Such questions as whether certain items of evidence should be year period necessary for the operation of acquisitve prescription had yet to be attained.
accorded probative value or weight, or rejected as feeble or spurious, or whether the proofs on one
side or the other are clear and convincing and adequate to establish a proposition in issue, are Whether the ancestral land claim pending before the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
without doubt questions of fact."64 (NCIP) should take precedence over the reivindicatory action

Since it raises essentially questions of fact, this assignment of error must be dismissed for it is settled The application for issuance of a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title pending before the NCIP is akin
that only questions of law may be reviewed in an appeal by certiorari. 65 There is a question of law to a registration proceeding. It also seeks an official recognition of one’s claim to a particular land
when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state of facts. Questions of law can be resolved and is also in rem. The titling of ancestral lands is for the purpose of "officially establishing" one’s
without having to re-examine the probative value of evidence presented, the truth or falsehood of land as an ancestral land.69 Just like a registration proceeding, the titling of ancestral lands does not
facts being admitted.66 The instant case does not present a compelling reason to deviate from the vest ownership70 upon the applicant but only recognizes ownership71 that has already vested in the
foregoing rule, especially since both trial and appellate courts agree that respondent had proven applicant by virtue of his and his predecessor-in-interest’s possession of the property since time
her claim of ownership as against petitioners’ claims. Their factual findings, supported as they are immemorial. As aptly explained in another case:
by the evidence, should be accorded great respect.
It bears stressing at this point that ownership should not be confused with a certificate of title.
In any case, even if petitioners’ arguments attacking the authenticity and admissibility of the Deed Registering land under the Torrens system does not create or vest title because registration is not a
of Quitclaim executed in favor of respondent’s father are well-taken, it will not suffice to defeat mode of acquiring ownership. A certificate of title is merely an evidence of ownership or title over
respondent’s claim over the subject property. Even without the Deed of Quitclaim, respondent’s the particular property described therein. Corollarily, any question involving the issue of ownership
claims of prior possession and ownership were adequately supported and corroborated by her must be threshed out in a separate suit x x x The trial court will then conduct a full-blown trial
other documentary and testimonial evidence. We agree with the trial court’s observation that, in wherein the parties will present their respective evidence on the issue of ownership of the subject
the ordinary course of things, people will not go to great lengths to execute legal documents and properties to enable the court to resolve the said issue. x x x72 (Emphasis supplied)
pay realty taxes over a real property, unless they have reason to believe that they have an interest
over the same.67 Likewise apropos is the following explanation:

The fact that respondent’s documents traverse several decades, from the 1960s to the 1990s, is an The fact that the [respondents] were able to secure [TCTs over the property] did not operate to vest
indication that she and her family never abandoned their right to the property and have upon them ownership of the property. The Torrens system does not create or vest title. It has never
continuously exercised rights of ownership over the same. been recognized as a mode of acquiring ownership x x x If the [respondents] wished to assert their
ownership, they should have filed a judicial action for recovery of possession and not merely to have
Moreover, respondent’s version of how the petitioners came to occupy the property coincides with the land registered under their respective names. x x x Certificates of title do not establish
the same timeline given by the petitioners themselves. The only difference is that petitioners ownership.73 (Emphasis supplied)
maintain they came into possession by tolerance of the Smith family, while respondent maintains
that it was her parents who gave permission to petitioners. Given the context under which the A registration proceeding is not a conclusive adjudication of ownership. In fact, if it is later on found
parties’ respective statements were made, the Court is inclined to believe the respondent’s version, in another case (where the issue of ownership is squarely adjudicated) that the registrant is not the
as both the trial and appellate courts have concluded, since her version is corroborated by the owner of the property, the real owner can file a reconveyance case and have the title transferred
documentary evidence. to his name.74

Whether petitioners have acquired the subject property by prescription Given that a registration proceeding (such as the certification of ancestral lands) is not a conclusive
adjudication of ownership, it will not constitute litis pendentia on a reivindicatory case where the
Assuming that the subject land may be acquired by prescription, we cannot accept petitioners’ claim issue is ownership.75 "For litis pendentia to be a ground for the dismissal of an action, the following
of acquisition by prescription. Petitioners admitted that they had occupied the property by requisites must concur: (a) identity of parties, or at least such parties who represent the same
tolerance of the owner thereof. Having made this admission, they cannot claim that they have interests in both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded
acquired the property by prescription unless they can prove acts of repudiation. It is settled that on the same facts; and (c) the identity with respect to the two preceding particulars in the two cases
possession, in order to ripen into ownership, must be in the concept of an owner, public, peaceful is such that any judgment that may be rendered in the pending case, regardless of which party is
successful, would amount to res judicata in the other case."76 The third element is missing, for any virtue of the enactment of the IPRA. They assailed the validity of the CSTFAL resolution favoring
judgment in the certification case would not constitute res judicata or be conclusive on the respondent on the ground that the CSTFAL had been rendered functus officio under the IPRA.
ownership issue involved in the reivindicatory case. Since there is no litis pendentia, there is no Inexplicably, petitioners still did not question the trial court’s jurisdiction.1avvphi1
reason for the reivindicatory case to be suspended or dismissed in favor of the certification case.
When petitioners recoursed to the appellate court, they only raised as errors the trial court’s
Moreover, since there is no litis pendentia, we cannot agree with petitioners’ contention that appreciation of the evidence and the conclusions that it derived therefrom. In their brief, they once
respondent committed forum-shopping. Settled is the rule that "forum shopping exists where the again assailed the CSTFAL’s resolution as having been rendered functus officio by the enactment of
elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res IPRA.83 But nowhere did petitioners assail the trial court’s ruling for having been rendered without
judicata in the other."77 jurisdiction.

Whether the trial court has jurisdiction to decide the case in light of the effectivity of RA 8371 or It is only before this Court, eight years after the filing of the complaint, after the trial court had
the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 at the time that the complaint was instituted already conducted a full-blown trial and rendered a decision on the merits, after the appellate court
had made a thorough review of the records, and after petitioners have twice encountered adverse
For the first time in the entire proceedings of this case, petitioners raise the trial court’s alleged lack decisions from the trial and the appellate courts — that petitioners now want to expunge all the
of jurisdiction over the subject-matter in light of the effectivity78 of the IPRA at the time that the efforts that have gone into the litigation and resolution of their case and start all over again. This
complaint was filed in 1998. They maintain that, under the IPRA, it is the NCIP which has jurisdiction practice cannot be allowed.
over land disputes involving indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples.
Thus, even assuming arguendo that petitioners’ theory about the effect of IPRA is correct (a matter
As a rule, an objection over subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time of the proceedings. which need not be decided here), they are already barred by laches from raising their jurisdictional
This is because jurisdiction cannot be waived by the parties or vested by the agreement of the objection under the circumstances.
parties. Jurisdiction is vested by law, which prevails at the time of the filing of the complaint.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is denied for lack of merit. The March 30, 2006
An exception to this rule has been carved by jurisprudence. In the seminal case of Tijam v. Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 78987 and its May 26, 2006 Resolution denying
Sibonghanoy,79 the Court ruled that the existence of laches will prevent a party from raising the the motion for reconsideration are AFFIRMED.
court’s lack of jurisdiction. Laches is defined as the "failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and
unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been SO ORDERED.
done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting the
presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned or declined to assert it." 80
Wisely, some cases81 have cautioned against applying Tijam, except for the most exceptional cases
where the factual milieu is similar to Tijam.

In Tijam, the surety could have raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction in the trial court but failed to
do so. Instead, the surety participated in the proceedings and filed pleadings, other than a motion
to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. When the case reached the appellate court, the surety again
participated in the case and filed their pleadings therein. It was only after receiving the appellate
court’s adverse decision that the surety awoke from its slumber and filed a motion to dismiss, in
lieu of a motion for reconsideration. The CA certified the matter to this Court, which then ruled that
the surety was already barred by laches from raising the jurisdiction issue.

In case at bar, the application of the Tijam doctrine is called for because the presence of laches
cannot be ignored. If the surety in Tijam was barred by laches for raising the issue of jurisdiction for
the first time in the CA, what more for petitioners in the instant case who raised the issue for the
first time in their petition before this Court.

At the time that the complaint was first filed in 1998, the IPRA was already in effect but the
petitioners never raised the same as a ground for dismissal; instead they filed a motion to dismiss
on the ground that the value of the property did not meet the jurisdictional value for the RTC. They
obviously neglected to take the IPRA into consideration.

When the amended complaint was filed in 1998, the petitioners no longer raised the issue of the
trial court’s lack of jurisdiction. Instead, they proceeded to trial, all the time aware of the existence
of the IPRA as evidenced by the cross-examination82 conducted by petitioners’ lawyer on the CSTFAL
Chairman Guillermo Fianza. In the cross-examination, it was revealed that the petitioners were
aware that the DENR, through the CSTFAL, had lost its jurisdiction over ancestral land claims by
CIVPRO – EFFECT OF ESTOPPEL ON OBJECTIONS TO JURISDICTION 3. Ordering defendant Uldarico Inayan to pay plaintiff Corazon Jalbuena de Leon, one thousand
two hundred sixty (1,260) cavans of palay representing unpaid rentals from 1983 up to 1987, or
G.R. No. 96107 June 19, 1995 its money equivalent computed at the current market price of palay, less whatever amount may
have been deposited by defendant with the Court during the pendency of this case, which deposit
CORAZON JALBUENA DE LEON, petitioner,
should be released in favor of plaintiff;
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS (SPECIAL SECOND DIVISION) and ULDARICO INAYAN, respondents. 4. Ordering defendant Inayan to pay to plaintiff Jalbuena de Leon the sum of P38,501.28
representing the unpaid irrigation fees, and all fees thereafter until possession of the land has
ROMERO, J.:
been transferred to the plaintiff;
In this petition for review, we are asked to set aside the amended decision of the Court of Appeals
5. Ordering defendant Inayan to pay to plaintiff Jalbuena de Leon the sum of P3,000.00 as
dated November 8, 1990 in "Corazon Jalbuena de Leon v. Uldarico Inayan," (CA-G.R. CV No. 19777)
1 which reversed its original decision dated May 24, 1990. 2 attorney' s fees; P1,000.00 as litigation expenses, and P2,000.00 as moral damages, plus costs;
and
The subject property in the case at bench involves two parcels of irrigated riceland covering an area
6. Dismissing defendant's counterclaim for lack of merit.4
of 117,785 square meters located in Barangays Guintas and Bingke, Napnod, Leganes, Iloilo. Jesus
Jalbuena, the owner of the land, entered into a verbal lease contract in 1970 with Uldarico Inayan, On appeal to the Court of Appeals, private respondent raised the sole issue of jurisdiction and
for one year renewable for the same period. Inayan, private respondent herein, bound himself to alleged that the lower court, acting as Court of Agrarian Relations, had no jurisdiction over the
deliver 252 cavans of palay each year as rental to be paid during the first ten days of January. Private action.
respondent who was a godson of Jesus Jalbuena, was allowed to continue with the lease from year
to year. The respondent appellate court, on May 24, 1990, affirmed the trial court's decision, disposing as
follows:
Petitioner Corazon Jalbuena de Leon is the daughter of Jesus Jalbuena and the transferee of the
subject property. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision appealed from should be, as it is hereby
AFFIRMED, with a MODIFICATION that the period within which appellant should be ordered to
Although private respondent cultivated the subject property through hired men, the cavans of palay pay the rentals in arrears now covers the years 1983 to 1990. Costs against appellant. 5
were paid annually until 1983 when Inayan ceased paying the agreed rental and instead, asserted
dominion over the land. When asked by the petitioner to vacate the land, he refused to do so, It held that while jurisdiction must exist as a matter of law, private respondent's attack on the
prompting the latter to bring an action in court. jurisdiction of the lower court must fail for he is guilty of estoppel. 6 Despite several opportunities
to question the jurisdiction of the lower court, he failed to do so. Moreover, it was he who insisted,
In March 1984, herein petitioner filed a complaint against private respondent before the Regional through his misrepresentations, that the case, involving, as it does, purely agrarian issues, should
Trial Court of Iloilo City for "Termination of Civil Law Lease; Recovery of Possession, Recovery of be referred to the Ministry of Agrarian Reform. 7 Finally, the appellate court held that since regional
Unpaid Rentals and Damages." trial courts, by express provision of B.P. 129, Section 24, now have exclusive original jurisdiction
over agrarian cases, but still applying the special rules of agrarian procedure, it was no error for the
Private respondent, in his Answer, claimed that the land had been tenanted by his father since 1938
court below, even if acting as an agrarian court, to resolve a controversy involving a civil lease. 8
and that he has already been issued Certificates of Land Transfer (CLT) for the subject property.
These Certificates of Land Transfer were subsequently canceled by the then Ministry of Agrarian Private respondent's motion to reconsider the above decision was granted by the Court of Appeals
Reform on November 22, 1983 upon a finding that said lands were owned by Jesus Jalbuena and on November 8, 1990. Respondent court then set aside its earlier decision and dismissed the civil
that the CLTs were erroneously issued. 3 case filed by petitioner below (Civil Case No. 15628) for want of jurisdiction. In its amended decision,
the appellate court held that petitioner's complaint below was anchored on acción interdictal, a
On April 11, 1984, the lower court issued an order adopting the procedure in agrarian cases.
summary action for recovery of physical possession that should have been brought before the
The dispositive portion of the trial court's decision dated February 26, 1988 in favor of petitioner De proper inferior court. To make private respondent a deforciant so that the unlawful detainer suit
Leon reads: may be properly filed, it is necessary to allege when demand to pay rent and to vacate were made.
The court found that this requisite was not specifically met in petitioner's complaint below. Such
WHEREFORE, Premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered: failure on her part is fatal to her cause since the one-year period within which a detainer suit may
be instituted had not yet elapsed when Civil Case No. 15628 was filed. Therefore, the court below
1. Declaring the lease contract between plaintiff and defendant as a civil law lease, and that the was devoid of jurisdiction to entertain the case. 9
same has already been terminated due to defendant's failure to pay his rentals from 1983 up to
the present; Hence this petition for review.

2. Ordering defendant Uldarico Inayan and his privies and successors-in-interest to immediately It is petitioner's contention that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the case below is an
vacate the land subject-matter of this complaint and to return possession thereof to plaintiff; unlawful detainer action. Since the parties did not confine themselves to issues pertaining solely to
possession but also to the nature of the lease contract, the case is not one of unlawful detainer but
one incapable of pecuniary estimation.
Next, petitioner argues that the issue of lack of jurisdiction should not have been resolved in favor Acción reivindicatoria, which is an action to recover ownership, including the recovery of possession,
of private respondent who had voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of the court a quo and raised should also be filed in the regional trial court.
the issue only after an adverse decision was rendered against him.
Petitioner's complaint was for "Termination of Civil Law Lease; Recovery of Possession; Recovery of
Aside from emphasizing the correctness of respondent court's ruling that the case below was a mere Unpaid Rentals and Damages" 23 After alleging the facts regarding the lease of the subject property,
ejectment case, private respondent raises the issue of res judicata in his comment. including Inayan's refusal to pay rent and to vacate, petitioner prayed that the trial court declare
the civil law lease (and not "tenancy or agricultural lease") terminated. Plaintiff likewise prayed that
Private respondent Inayan claims that the issue in the instant petition, i.e. whether or not the trial defendant be ordered to vacate the premises, pay back rentals, unpaid irrigation fees, moral and
court, acting as an agrarian court, had jurisdiction over the unlawful detainer suit filed by petitioner, exemplary damages and litigation fees.
had already been ruled upon by the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. SP No. 15700 entitled "Uldarico
Inayan v. Hon. Alonsagay and Corazon Jalbuena" and the petition for review of said decision had Clearly, the case involves more than just the issue of possession. It was necessary for the trial court
already been denied by this Court in G.R. No. 89312. 10 below to determine whether the lease was civil and not an agricultural or tenancy relationship and
whether its termination was in order. More specifically, the complaint emphasized, in paragraph 4:
The petition is impressed with merit.
That in entering into the contract, Jesus Jalbuena and defendant Uldarico Inayan definitely agreed
The primary issue presented here revolves around the jurisdiction of the trial court, then acting as that the contract was to be CIVIL LAW LEASE NOT TENANCY OR AGRICULTURAL LEASE, for a period
a court of agrarian relations employing agrarian procedure, to try the suit filed by petitioner. of one (1) year renewable for the same period at the option and agreement of the parties; 24
Jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter is conferred only by the Constitution or by law. 11
As correctly determined by the trial court, one of the issues in the case below was whether or not
It is determinable on the basis of allegations in the complaint. 12 the contract entered into by the plaintiff and defendant was a civil law lease or an agricultural lease.
If the former, the next issue was whether the lease contract between the parties had been
An error in jurisdiction can be raised at any time and even for the first time on appeal. 13 Barring
terminated in 1983 for failure of defendant to pay his annual rental. 25
highly meritorious and exceptional circumstances, 14 neither estoppel nor waiver may be raised as
defenses to such an error. 15 A detainer suit exclusively involves the issue of physical possession. The case below, however, did
not concern merely the issue of possession but as well, the nature of the lease contracted by
In order to determine whether the court below had jurisdiction, it is necessary to first ascertain the
petitioner's predecessor-in-interest and private respondent. It likewise involved the propriety of
nature of the complaint filed before it.
terminating the relationship contracted by said parties, as well as the demand upon defendant to
A study of the complaint instituted by petitioner in the lower court reveals that the case is, contrary deliver the premises and pay unpaid rentals, damages and incidental fees.
to the findings of the respondent appellate court, not one of unlawful detainer.
Where the issues of the case extend beyond those commonly involved in unlawful detainer suits,
An unlawful detainer suit (acción interdictal) together with forcible entry are the two forms of an such as for instance, the respective rights of parties under various contractual arrangements and
ejectment suit that may be filed to recover possession of real property. Aside from the summary the validity thereof, the case is converted from a mere detainer suit to one "incapable of pecuniary
action of ejectment, acción publiciana or the plenary action to recover the right of possession and estimation," thereby placing it under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the regional trial courts
acción reivindicatoria or the action to recover ownership which includes recovery of possession, (formerly the courts of first instance). 26
make up the three kinds of actions to judicially recover possession. 16
Not being merely a case of ejectment, the regional trial court possessed jurisdiction to try and
Illegal detainer consists in withholding by a person from another of the possession of a land or resolve the case.
building to which the latter is entitled after the expiration or termination of the former's right to
Still on the question of jurisdiction, private respondent Inayan, as appellant before the respondent
hold possession by virtue of a contract, express or implied. 17 An ejectment suit is brought before
court, claimed that the trial court, acting as a court of agrarian relations, did not have jurisdiction
the proper inferior court to recover physical possession only or possession de facto and not
over the complaint filed by petitioner because the latter did not concern itself with tenancy or
possession de jure, where dispossession has lasted for not more than one year. Forcible entry and
agrarian matters. The Court of Appeals, in its original decision, ruled that private respondent was
unlawful detainer are quieting processes and the one-year time bar to the suit is in pursuance of
guilty of estoppel. Accordingly, he can not successfully raise the issue.
the summary nature of the action. 18 The use of summary procedure in ejectment cases is intended
to provide an expeditious means of protecting actual possession or right to possession of the In the past, the principle of estoppel has been used by the courts to avoid a clear case of injustice.
property. They are not processes to determine the actual title to an estate. If at all, inferior courts Its use as a defense to a jurisdictional error is more of an exception rather than the rule. The
are empowered to rule on the question of ownership raised by the defendant in such suits, only to circumstances outlining estoppel must be unequivocal and intentional, for it is an exception to
resolve the issue of possession. 19 Its determination on the ownership issue is, however, not standard legal norms and is generally applied only in highly exceptional and justifiable cases. 27
conclusive.
We find that the situation in the case at bench falls within the ambit of justifiable cases where
Acción publiciana is the plenary action to recover the right of possession when dispossession has estoppel may be applied. The trial court's recourse to agrarian procedure was undoubtedly
lasted for more than one year or when dispossession was effected by means other than those provoked by private respondent Inayan's insistence on the existence of a tenancy relationship with
mentioned in Rule 70. 20 Under these circumstances, a plenary action 21 may be brought before the petitioner. Private respondent cannot now use these same misrepresentations to assert the court's
regional trial court.22
lack of jurisdiction. He cannot invoke the court's jurisdiction to secure affirmative relief against From the foregoing quote, we find that the decision of the appellate court did not categorically rule
petitioner and, after failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction. 28 on the matter of jurisdiction but only made mention of it in passing and in ruling upon the real issue
of the correctness of execution pending appeal ordered by the respondent judge. The decision in
Participation in judicial proceedings where the court was devoid of jurisdiction is not normally CA-G.R. SP No. 15700 became final after the petition for review of said decision was dismissed by
considered as estoppel because the jurisdiction of a court is mandated by law. Estoppel is likewise the Court for failure to pay the prescribed legal fees and to attach duplicate original or certified true
not appreciated where a mistaken belief in the court's jurisdiction is maintained. copies of the questioned decision. 33
But private respondent's case is different for it does not involve an honest mistake. He is directly In sum, we have concluded that the case filed by petitioner below, not being one of unlawful
responsible for the trial court's use of the special rules of agrarian procedure. His insistence brought detainer, the regional trial court had jurisdiction to hear and try the case.
about the want of jurisdiction he conveniently asserted before the appellate court, and only after
an adverse decision was leveled against him. Private respondent cannot be allowed to seek refuge Moreover, as shown in the foregoing paragraphs, private respondent is estopped from asserting the
under the protective mantle of the law after he has abused and made a mockery of it. He is, lower court's lack of jurisdiction.
therefore, considered estopped from asserting the court's want of jurisdiction to try the case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The amended decision of the Court of Appeals dated
Moreover, the case was ostensibly one that involved agrarian matters, as alleged by private November 8, 1990 in CA G.R. CV No. 19777 ("Corazon Jalbuena de Leon v. Uldarico Inayan") is SET
respondent. Hence the trial court cannot be faulted for its use of agrarian procedure. ASIDE and the original decision dated May 24, 1990 is REINSTATED.

The respondent court also correctly held: Costs against private respondent.

Finally, and more importantly, while it is true that when the trial court decreed that the procedure SO ORDERED.
outlined in P.D. 946 was to be observed at the trial of the case at bar, it, in effect assumed its
character as an agrarian court which is a court of limited jurisdiction, and that since agrarian
matters are solely cognizable by agrarian courts in the exercise of their limited jurisdiction
(Depositario vs. Herbas 121 SCRA 756) conversely, agrarian courts have no jurisdiction in cases
where there is no tenancy relation between the parties (Dumlao vs. De Guzman, 1 SCRA 144). We
believe, however, that the dictum enunciated in the Dumlao case obtains only when, as before,
the then C.F.I. and C.A.R. are two separate and distinct entities. Consequently, the foregoing legal
principle no longer finds much relevance under the present system, said agrarian courts having
been integrated into the Regional Trial Courts which, by express mandate of Section 24 of B.P.
129, shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over agrarian cases although they are ordained to
continue applying the special rules of procedure provided for said cases. This being the case, it is
no error for the court below, acting as an agrarian court, to resolve a controversy involving a civil
lease since it is already a settled rule that inasmuch as the RTC is a court of general jurisdiction,
whether a particular matter should be resolved by it in the exercise of its general jurisdiction, or
in its limited jurisdiction, or in its limited jurisdiction, is not a jurisdictional question but a
procedural question involving a mode of practice which, therefore, may be waived (Manalo vs.
Mariano, L-33850, Jan. 22, 1976; Santos vs. Banayo, L-31854, Sept. 9, 1982). 29 (Emphasis ours.)

On the matter of res judicata raised by private respondent, we conclude that the same does not
find application in instant petition. The issues herein and in the petition in G.R. No. 89312 30 are not
the same. In the latter, the issue involved execution pending appeal granted by the trial court judge
to petitioner Jalbuena De Leon. The Court of Appeals 31 enjoined the respondent judge from
enforcing the execution pending appeal after having found no valid and compelling reason to justify
said execution. Then too, private respondent asserted, and the appellate court found, that an
agrarian court has no jurisdiction in a case where there exists no tenancy relation between the
parties. The court said:

In any event, the matter of jurisdiction of respondent court having been impugned and said issue
permeating and going as it does into the very competence of the trial court to act on CAR Case
No. 15628, it behooves us to tread softly and give the benefit of the doubt to petitioner, for
should execution pending appeal be allowed and the judgment is later ordered vacated on the
ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction to hear the case, then it would be well-nigh
impossible to restore petitioner to his former status. 32
CIVPRO – EFFECT OF ESTOPPEL ON OBJECTIONS TO JURISDICTION On September 22, 1998, Atty. Petalcorin filed a motion to expunge the complaint from the
[G.R. No. 140954. April 12, 2005] record and nullify all court proceedings on the ground that private respondents failed to specify in
HEIRS OF BERTULDO[1] HINOG: Bertuldo Hinog II, Bertuldo Hinog III, Bertuldo Hinog, Jr., Jocelyn the complaint the amount of damages claimed so as to pay the correct docket fees; and that under
Hinog, Bertoldo Hinog IV, Bertoldo Hinog V, Edgardo Hinog, Milagros H. Pabatao, Lilian Manchester Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals,[5] non-payment of the correct docket
H. King, Victoria H. Engracia, Terisita C. Hinog, Paz H. Besana, Roberto C. Hinog, Vicente fee is jurisdictional.[6]
C. Hinog, Roel C. Hinog, Marilyn C. Hinog, Bebot C. Hinog, lordes C. Hinog, Pablo Chiong,
Arlene Lanasang (All respresented by Bertuldo Hinog III), petitioners, vs. HON. ACHILLES In an amended motion, filed on October 2, 1998, Atty. Petalcorin further alleged that the
MELICOR, in his capacity as Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch 4, 7th Judicial Region, Tagbiliran private respondents failed to pay the correct docket fee since the main subject matter of the case
City, Bohol, and CUSTODIO BALANE, RUFO BALANE, HONORIO BALANE, and TOMAS cannot be estimated as it is for recovery of ownership, possession and removal of construction. [7]
BALANE, respondents.
Private respondents opposed the motion to expunge on the following grounds: (a) said
DECISION motion was filed more than seven years from the institution of the case; (b) Atty. Petalcorin has not
complied with Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court which provides that the death of the original
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: defendant requires a substitution of parties before a lawyer can have legal personality to represent
a litigant and the motion to expunge does not mention of any specific party whom he is
representing; (c) collectible fees due the court can be charged as lien on the judgment; and (d)
considering the lapse of time, the motion is merely a dilatory scheme employed by petitioners.[8]
Before us is a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court which
assails the Orders dated March 22, 1999, August 13, 1999 and October 15, 1999 of the Regional In their Rejoinder, petitioners manifested that the lapse of time does not vest the court with
Trial Court, Branch 4, of Tagbilaran City, Bohol in Civil Case No. 4923. jurisdiction over the case due to failure to pay the correct docket fees. As to the contention that
deficiency in payment of docket fees can be made as a lien on the judgment, petitioners argued that
the payment of filing fees cannot be made dependent on the result of the action taken.[9]
The factual background of the case is as follows:

On January 21, 1999, the trial court, while ordering the complaint to be expunged from the
On May 21, 1991, private respondents Custodio, Rufo, Tomas and Honorio, all surnamed
records and the nullification of all court proceedings taken for failure to pay the correct docket fees,
Balane, filed a complaint for Recovery of Ownership and Possession, Removal of Construction and
nonetheless, held:
Damages against Bertuldo Hinog (Bertuldo for brevity). They alleged that: they own a 1,399- square
meter parcel of land situated in Malayo Norte, Cortes, Bohol, designated as Lot No. 1714; sometime
in March 1980, they allowed Bertuldo to use a portion of the said property for a period of ten years The Court can acquire jurisdiction over this case only upon the payment of the
and construct thereon a small house of light materials at a nominal annual rental of P100.00 only, exact prescribed docket/filing fees for the main cause of action, plus additional docket
considering the close relations of the parties; after the expiration of the ten-year period, they fee for the amount of damages being prayed for in the complaint, which amount should
demanded the return of the occupied portion and removal of the house constructed thereon but be specified so that the same can be considered in assessing the amount of the filing
Bertuldo refused and instead claimed ownership of the entire property. fees. Upon the complete payment of such fees, the Court may take appropriate action
in the light of the ruling in the case of Manchester Development Corporation vs. Court
of Appeals, supra.[10]
Accordingly, private respondents sought to oust Bertuldo from the premises of the subject
property and restore upon themselves the ownership and possession thereof, as well as the
payment of moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees and litigation expenses in amounts Accordingly, on January 28, 1999, upon payment of deficiency docket fee, private respondents
justified by the evidence. [2] filed a manifestation with prayer to reinstate the case.[11] Petitioners opposed the reinstatement[12]
but on March 22, 1999, the trial court issued the first assailed Order reinstating the case.[13]
On July 2, 1991, Bertuldo filed his Answer. He alleged ownership of the disputed property by
virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale dated July 2, 1980, executed by one Tomas Pahac with the On May 24, 1999, petitioners, upon prior leave of court,[14] filed their supplemental pleading,
knowledge and conformity of private respondents.[3] appending therein a Deed of Sale dated November 15, 1982.[15] Following the submission of private
respondents opposition thereto,[16] the trial court, in its Order dated July 7, 1999, denied the
supplemental pleading on the ground that the Deed of Absolute Sale is a new matter which was
After the pre-trial, trial on the merits ensued. On November 18, 1997, private respondents
never mentioned in the original answer dated July 2, 1991, prepared by Bertuldos original counsel
rested their case. Thereupon, Bertuldo started his direct examination. However, on June 24, 1998,
and which Bertuldo verified; and that such new document is deemed waived in the light of Section
Bertuldo died without completing his evidence.
1, Rule 9[17] of the Rules of Court. The trial court also noted that no formal substitution of the parties
was made because of the failure of defendants counsel to give the names and addresses of the legal
On August 4, 1998, Atty. Sulpicio A. Tinampay withdrew as counsel for Bertuldo as his services representatives of Bertuldo, so much so that the supposed heirs of Bertuldo are not specified in any
were terminated by petitioner Bertuldo Hinog III. Atty. Veronico G. Petalcorin then entered his pleading in the case. [18]
appearance as new counsel for Bertuldo.[4]
On July 14, 1999, petitioners manifested that the trial court having expunged the complaint This Court's original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari is not exclusive. It is
and nullified all court proceedings, there is no valid case and the complaint should not be admitted shared by this Court with Regional Trial Courts and with the Court of Appeals. This
for failure to pay the correct docket fees; that there should be no case to be reinstated and no case concurrence of jurisdiction is not, however, to be taken as according to parties seeking
to proceed as there is no complaint filed.[19] any of the writs an absolute, unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which
application therefor will be directed. There is after all a hierarchy of courts. That
After the submission of private respondents opposition[20] and petitioners rejoinder,[21] the hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals, and also serves as a general
trial court issued the second assailed Order on August 13, 1999, essentially denying petitioners determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the extraordinary writs. A
manifestation/rejoinder. The trial court held that the issues raised in such manifestation/rejoinder becoming regard for that judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for
are practically the same as those raised in the amended motion to expunge which had already been the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level (inferior) courts should be filed
passed upon in the Order dated January 21, 1999. Moreover, the trial court observed that the Order with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A
dated March 22, 1999 which reinstated the case was not objected to by petitioners within the direct invocation of the Supreme Courts original jurisdiction to issue these writs should
reglementary period or even thereafter via a motion for reconsideration despite receipt thereof on be allowed only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and
March 26, 1999.[22] specifically set out in the petition. This is [an] established policy. It is a policy necessary
to prevent inordinate demands upon the Courts time and attention which are better
devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-
On August 25, 1999, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration[23] but the same was denied
crowding of the Courts docket.[31]
by the trial court in its third assailed Order dated October 15, 1999. The trial court held that the
Manchester rule was relaxed in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. vs. Asuncion.[24] Noting that there has been
no substitution of parties following the death of Bertuldo, the trial court directed Atty. Petalcorin The rationale for this rule is two-fold: (a) it would be an imposition upon the precious time of this
to comply with the provisions of Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. The trial court also Court; and (b) it would cause an inevitable and resultant delay, intended or otherwise, in the
reiterated that the Order dated March 22, 1999 reinstating the case was not assailed by petitioners adjudication of cases, which in some instances had to be remanded or referred to the lower court
within the reglementary period, despite receipt thereof on March 26, 1999.[25] as the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as better equipped to resolve the issues
because this Court is not a trier of facts.[32]
On November 19, 1999, Atty. Petalcorin complied with the directive of the trial court to
submit the names and addresses of the heirs of Bertuldo.[26] Thus, this Court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be
obtained in the appropriate courts, and exceptional and compelling circumstances, such as cases of
national interest and of serious implications, justify the availment of the extraordinary remedy of
On November 24, 1999, petitioners filed before us the present petition for certiorari and
writ of certiorari, calling for the exercise of its primary jurisdiction. Exceptional and compelling
prohibition.[27] They allege that the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion in
circumstances were held present in the following cases: (a) Chavez vs. Romulo[33] on citizens right
allowing the case to be reinstated after private respondents paid the docket fee deficiency since the
to bear arms; (b) Government of the United States of America vs. Purganan[34] on bail in extradition
trial court had earlier expunged the complaint from the record and nullified all proceedings of the
proceedings; (c) Commission on Elections vs. Quijano-Padilla[35] on government contract involving
case and such ruling was not contested by the private respondents. Moreover, they argue that the
modernization and computerization of voters registration list; (d) Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB vs.
public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion in allowing the case to be filed and denying
Zamora[36] on status and existence of a public office; and (e) Fortich vs. Corona[37] on the so-called
the manifestation with motion to dismiss, despite the defect in the complaint which prayed for
Win-Win Resolution of the Office of the President which modified the approval of the conversion to
damages without specifying the amounts, in violation of SC Circular No. 7, dated March 24, 1988.
agro-industrial area.

In their Comment, private respondents aver that no grave abuse of discretion was committed
In this case, no special and important reason or exceptional and compelling circumstance
by the trial court in reinstating the complaint upon the payment of deficiency docket fees because
analogous to any of the above cases has been adduced by the petitioners so as to justify direct
petitioners did not object thereto within the reglementary period. Besides, Atty. Petalcorin
recourse to this Court. The present petition should have been initially filed in the Court of Appeals
possessed no legal personality to appear as counsel for the heirs of Bertuldo until he complies with
in strict observance of the doctrine on the hierarchy of courts. Failure to do so is sufficient cause for
Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court.[28]
the dismissal of the petition at bar.

At the outset, we note the procedural error committed by petitioners in directly filing the
In any event, even if the Court disregards such procedural flaw, the petitioners contentions
instant petition before this Court for it violates the established policy of strict observance of the
on the substantive aspect of the case fail to invite judgment in their favor.
judicial hierarchy of courts.

The unavailability of the writ of certiorari and prohibition in this case is borne out of the fact
Although the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Courts have concurrent
that petitioners principally assail the Order dated March 22, 1999 which they never sought
jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and
reconsideration of, in due time, despite receipt thereof on March 26, 1999. Instead, petitioners
injunction, such concurrence does not give the petitioner unrestricted freedom of choice of court
went through the motion of filing a supplemental pleading and only when the latter was denied, or
forum.[29] As we stated in People vs. Cuaresma:[30]
after more than three months have passed, did they raise the issue that the complaint should not
have been reinstated in the first place because the trial court had no jurisdiction to do so, having for determination by the court, the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a
already ruled that the complaint shall be expunged. lien on the judgment. It shall be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly
authorized deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fee.
After recognizing the jurisdiction of the trial court by seeking affirmative relief in their motion
to serve supplemental pleading upon private respondents, petitioners are effectively barred by Plainly, while the payment of the prescribed docket fee is a jurisdictional requirement, even
estoppel from challenging the trial courts jurisdiction.[38] If a party invokes the jurisdiction of a court, its non-payment at the time of filing does not automatically cause the dismissal of the case, as long
he cannot thereafter challenge the courts jurisdiction in the same case.[39] To rule otherwise would as the fee is paid within the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period, more so when the party
amount to speculating on the fortune of litigation, which is against the policy of the Court.[40] involved demonstrates a willingness to abide by the rules prescribing such payment.[46] Thus, when
insufficient filing fees were initially paid by the plaintiffs and there was no intention to defraud the
Nevertheless, there is a need to correct the erroneous impression of the trial court as well as government, the Manchester rule does not apply.[47]
the private respondents that petitioners are barred from assailing the Order dated March 22, 1999
which reinstated the case because it was not objected to within the reglementary period or even Under the peculiar circumstances of this case, the reinstatement of the complaint was just
thereafter via a motion for reconsideration despite receipt thereof on March 26, 1999. and proper considering that the cause of action of private respondents, being a real action,
prescribes in thirty years,[48] and private respondents did not really intend to evade the payment of
It must be clarified that the said order is but a resolution on an incidental matter which does the prescribed docket fee but simply contend that they could not be faulted for inadequate
not touch on the merits of the case or put an end to the proceedings.[41] It is an interlocutory order assessment because the clerk of court made no notice of demand or reassessment. [49] They were in
since there leaves something else to be done by the trial court with respect to the merits of the good faith and simply relied on the assessment of the clerk of court.
case.[42] As such, it is not subject to a reglementary period. Reglementary period refers to the period
set by the rules for appeal or further review of a final judgment or order, i.e., one that ends the Furthermore, the fact that private respondents prayed for payment of damages in amounts
litigation in the trial court. justified by the evidence does not call for the dismissal of the complaint for violation of SC Circular
No. 7, dated March 24, 1988 which required that all complaints must specify the amount of damages
Moreover, the remedy against an interlocutory order is generally not to resort forthwith to sought not only in the body of the pleadings but also in the prayer in order to be accepted and
certiorari, but to continue with the case in due course and, when an unfavorable verdict is handed admitted for filing. Sun Insurance effectively modified SC Circular No. 7 by providing that filing fees
down, to take an appeal in the manner authorized by law.[43] Only when the court issued such order for damages and awards that cannot be estimated constitute liens on the awards finally granted by
without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion and when the assailed the trial court.[50]
interlocutory order is patently erroneous and the remedy of appeal would not afford adequate and
expeditious relief will certiorari be considered an appropriate remedy to assail an interlocutory Thus, while the docket fees were based only on the real property valuation, the trial court
order.[44] Such special circumstances are absolutely wanting in the present case. acquired jurisdiction over the action, and judgment awards which were left for determination by
the court or as may be proven during trial would still be subject to additional filing fees which shall
Time and again, the Court has held that the Manchester rule has been modified in Sun constitute a lien on the judgment. It would then be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court of the
Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) vs. Asuncion[45] which defined the following guidelines involving the trial court or his duly authorized deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional
payment of docket fees: fees.[51]

1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the It is worth noting that when Bertuldo filed his Answer on July 2, 1991, he did not raise the
payment of the prescribed docket fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over issue of lack of jurisdiction for non-payment of correct docket fees. Instead, he based his defense
the subject-matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the initiatory pleading on a claim of ownership and participated in the proceedings before the trial court. It was only in
is not accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of September 22, 1998 or more than seven years after filing the answer, and under the auspices of a
the fees within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive new counsel, that the issue of jurisdiction was raised for the first time in the motion to expunge by
or reglementary period. Bertuldos heirs.

2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third-party claims and similar After Bertuldo vigorously participated in all stages of the case before the trial court and even
pleadings, which shall not be considered filed until and unless the filing fee invoked the trial courts authority in order to ask for affirmative relief, petitioners, considering that
prescribed therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee within a they merely stepped into the shoes of their predecessor, are effectively barred by estoppel from
reasonable time but also in no case beyond its applicable prescriptive or challenging the trial courts jurisdiction. Although the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage
reglementary period. of the proceedings as the same is conferred by law, it is nonetheless settled that a party may be
barred from raising it on ground of laches or estoppel.[52]
3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the appropriate
pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment Moreover, no formal substitution of the parties was effected within thirty days from date of
awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified the same has been left death of Bertuldo, as required by Section 16, Rule 3[53] of the Rules of Court. Needless to stress, the
purpose behind the rule on substitution is the protection of the right of every party to due process.
It is to ensure that the deceased party would continue to be properly represented in the suit through
the duly appointed legal representative of his estate.[54] Non-compliance with the rule on
substitution would render the proceedings and judgment of the trial court infirm because the court
acquires no jurisdiction over the persons of the legal representatives or of the heirs on whom the
trial and the judgment would be binding.[55] Thus, proper substitution of heirs must be effected for
the trial court to acquire jurisdiction over their persons and to obviate any future claim by any heir
that he was not apprised of the litigation against Bertuldo or that he did not authorize Atty.
Petalcorin to represent him.

The list of names and addresses of the heirs was submitted sixteen months after the death of
Bertuldo and only when the trial court directed Atty. Petalcorin to comply with the provisions of
Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. Strictly speaking therefore, before said compliance, Atty.
Petalcorin had no standing in the court a quo when he filed his pleadings. Be that as it may, the
matter has been duly corrected by the Order of the trial court dated October 15, 1999.

To be sure, certiorari under Rule 65[56] is a remedy narrow in scope and inflexible in character.
It is not a general utility tool in the legal workshop.[57] It offers only a limited form of review. Its
principal function is to keep an inferior tribunal within its jurisdiction.[58] It can be invoked only for
an error of jurisdiction, that is, one where the act complained of was issued by the court, officer or
a quasi-judicial body without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion which is
tantamount to lack or in excess of jurisdiction,[59] not to be used for any other purpose, [60] such as
to cure errors in proceedings or to correct erroneous conclusions of law or fact. [61] A contrary rule
would lead to confusion, and seriously hamper the administration of justice.

Petitioners utterly failed to show that the trial court gravely abused its discretion in issuing
the assailed resolutions. On the contrary, it acted prudently, in accordance with law and
jurisprudence.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.
CIVPRO –JURISDICTION AT TIME OF FILING OF ACTION 1988; 12 while Accused Cawaling, assisted by Counsel Jovencio Q. Mayor, entered a plea of not guilty
on March 16, 1988. 13
G.R. No. 117970 July 28, 1998
After due trial, 14 the court a quo 15 rendered its Decision dated October 21, 1994, 16 the decretal
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, portion of which reads:
vs.
ULYSSES M. CAWALING, ERNESTO TUMBAGAHAN, RICARDO DE LOS SANTOS, and HILARIO WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused (1) ULYSSES M. CAWALING, (2) ERNESTO
CAJILO, accused-appellants. TUMBAGAHAN, (3) RICARDO DELOS SANTOS, (4) HILARIO CAJILO, AND (5) ANDRES FONTAMILLAS
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER under the Information, dated June 4,
PANGANIBAN, J.: 1987, and sentences each of them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, with the accessory
penalties of the law.
It is axiomatic that once an accused-appellant admits killing the victim, he bears the burden of
establishing the presence of any circumstance like self-defense, performance of a lawful duty or, for The accused, jointly and severally, are ORDERED to pay Nelson Elisan the sum of P6,000.00 as
that matter, double jeopardy, which may relieve him of responsibility, or which may mitigate his actual damages and the heirs of the deceased Ronie Elisan the sums of P116,666.66 by way of
criminal liability.1 If he fails to discharge this burden, his conviction becomes inevitable. In this lost earnings and P50,000.00 as indemnity for death, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of
Decision, we also reiterate the following doctrines: (1) the regional trial court, not the insolvency, and to pay the costs.
Sandiganbayan, has jurisdiction over informations for murder committed by public officers,
including a town mayor; (2) the assessment of trial courts on the credibility of witnesses and their The bail bonds of all the accused are ORDERED CANCELLED and all said accused ORDERED
testimonies deserve great respect; (3) the equipoise rule cannot be invoked where the evidence of immediately confined in jail.
the prosecution is overwhelming; (4) alibi cannot be believed in the face of credible testimony
The slug (Exh. A); the .38 caliber revolver (with 3 empty shells and 3 live bullets) (Exh. G); and the
identifying the appellants; and (5) conspiracy may be proven by circumstantial evidence.
slug of bullet (Exh. H) are confiscated in favor of the government.
The Case
After the judgment has become final, the Officer-in-Charge, Office of the Clerk of Court, this
Before us is an appeal from the 34-page Decision 2 dated October 21, 1994, promulgated by the Court, is ordered to deliver and deposit the foregoing Exhibits A, F, G and H, inclusive, to the
Regional Trial Court of Romblon in Criminal Case No. OD-269. Convicted of murder were former Provincial Director, PNP, of the Province of Romblon properly receipted. Thereafter, the receipt
Mayor Ulysses M. Cawaling and Policemen Ernesto Tumbagahan, 3 Ricardo De los Santos and Hilario must be attached to the record of the case and shall form part of the record.
Cajilo.
The period of preventive imprisonment the accused had undergone shall be credited in their
Prior to the institution of the criminal case against all the appellants, an administrative case 4 had favor to its full extent pursuant to Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.
been filed before the National Police Commission, in which Policemen Ernesto Tumbagahan,
The case against co-accused ALEX BATUIGAS who is at large is ORDERED ARCHIVED pending his
Ricardo De los Santos, Hilario Cajilo (three of herein appellants) and Andres Fontamillas were
arrest. 17
charged by Nelson Ilisan 5 with the killing of his brother Ronie 6 Ilisan. On April 6, 1986, Adjudication
Board No. 14 7 rendered its Decision which found Tumbagahan, De los Santos, Cajilo and Fontamillas Hence, this appeal. 18
guilty of grave misconduct and ordered their dismissal from the service with prejudice. 8 On June
26, 1986, the Board issued a resolution, 9 dismissing the respondents' motion for reconsideration The Facts
for lack of merit.
Version of the Prosecution
Subsequently, on June 4, 1987, Second Assistant Provincial Fiscal Alexander Mortel filed, before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Odiongan, Romblon, 10 an Information for murder 11 against the The trial court gives this summary of the facts as viewed by the prosecution witnesses:
appellants and Andres Fontamillas. The accusatory portion reads: The killing occurred on December 4, 1982 at around 9:00 o'clock in the evening at the ricefield of
That on or about the 4th day of December 1982, at around 9:00 o'clock in the evening, in the Poblacion, San Jose, Romblon when the bright moon was already above the sea at an angle of
Poblacion, [M]unicipality of San Jose, [P]rovince of Romblon, Philippines, and within the about 45 degrees, or if it was daytime, it was about 9:00 o'clock in the morning (Imelda Elisan
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, with intent to kill, conspiring, confederating Tumbagahon, on direct examination, tsn, Jan. 17, 1989, p. 5, and on cross examination, tsn, April
and mutually helping one another, did then and there, by means of treachery and with evident 18, 1989, p. 22).
premeditation and taking advantage of their superior strenght [sic] willfully, unlawfully and On December 4, 1982, about 8:00 o'clock or 8:30 o'clock in the evening, Vicente Elisan and his
feloniously attack, assault and shoot RONIE ILISAN, with the use of firearms, inflicting upon the elder brother Ronie Elisan, the victim, were drinking tuba at C & J-4 Kitchenette of co-accused
latter multiple mortal injuries in different parts of his body which were the direct and immediate Andres Fontamillas in Poblacion, San Jose, Romblon. When they stood up to go home, Luz Venus,
cause of his death. the wife of Diosdado Venus, told them not to go out because the accused were watching them
Accused Tumbagahan, De los Santos, Cajilo and Fontamillas, with the assistance of their lawyers outside about three (3) meters from the restaurant. Diosdado Venus accompanied them upon
Atty. Abelardo V. Calsado and Juanito Dimaano, pleaded not guilty when arraigned on February 15, their request and they went out and walked towards home. About a hundred meters from the
restaurant, the six (6) accused, that is, Mayor Cawaling, the four (4) policemen, namely, Hilario
Cajilo, Andres Fontamillas, Ernesto Tumbagahan and Ricardo delos Santos, and civilian Alex Based on the death certificate (Exhibit E) issued by Dr. Flores, Ronie Ilisan died of "severe
Batuigas, the mayor's brother-in-law, flashlighted them and Diosdado Venus ran going back. The hemorrhage and gun shot wo[unds]." 21
two (2) brothers also ran towards home to the house of their elder sister Imelda Elisan
Tumbagahon. Co-accused Andres Fontamillas and Hilario Cajilo blocked them on the gate of the Version of the Defense
fence of their sister's house. Ronie Elisan ran towards the ricefield. The accused were chasing
Appellant Cawaling, in his 47-page Brief, 22 presented his own narration of the incident as follows:
them. Vicente Elisan saw his brother Ronie f[a]ll down on the ricefield while he ran towards the
bushes and la[y] on the ground. Ronie Elisan rose up by kneeling and raising his two (2) hands. All At around 7:00 in the evening of December 4, 1982, Ulysses Cawaling, then the mayor of the
the six (6) accused approached him with their flashlights and shot him. Ronie fell down about [M]unicipality of San Jose in the [P]rovince of Romblon, arrived aboard a hired motorized boat
twenty (20) meters from the bushes where Vicente Elisan hid behind the coconut tree. Co- from Manila in the seashore of San Jose. From the seashore, he immediately proceeded to his
accused Cawaling said ["]you left him, he is already dead.["] Mayor Cawaling was armed with .45 home. At around 7:30 in the evening, Cawaling went to the municipal hall to check on
caliber, policemen Andres Fontamillas and Hilario Cajilo were both with armalites, Ernesto administrative matters that piled up in the course of his trip to Manila. He also went inside the
Tumbagahan and Ricardo delos Santos were both with .38 caliber and so with civilian Alex police station (located inside the municipal building) to be apprised of any developments, after
Batuigas. They left towards the house of Mayor Cawaling. After they were gone, Vicente Elisan which he went out and joined Pfc. Tumbagahan and Pfc. Cajilo who were standing near the
ran towards the house of his older brother Nelson Elisan. Upon seeing him, Vicente told Nelson flagpole in front of the municipal building. The three engaged in a conversation. Cawaling learned
that Ronie was already dead. Nelson said nothing. While they were there, elder sister Imelda that the two police officers were the ones assigned for patrol/alert for that night. The three of
Elisan Tumbagahon, who was crying came. She said: "Manong, patay ron si Ronie." (Brother, them went inside the INP office and there Cawaling informed the two policemen that he received
Ronie is already dead). Nelson said ["]do not be noisy; they might come back and kill all of us.["] information from reliable persons that certain persons were plotting to kill him and a member of
Imelda stopped crying. the town's police force. It is to be noted that this occurred at the height of the communist
insurgency and political violence in the countryside in the early 80's. Hence, such information was
After a while, brothers Nelson and Vicente Elisan went to the house of barangay captain Aldolfo
taken very seriously, having been relayed by sources independent of each other.
Tumbagahon. The three (3) went to the townhall and called the police but there was none there.
Going to the house of the Chief of Police Oscar Montero, they were told by his wife that Cawaling, as town chief then empowered with supervisory authority over the local police,
Commander Montero was in the house of Mayor Cawaling. They proceeded to the place where accompanied Pfc. Tumbagahan and Pfc. Cajilo in conducting patrol and surveillance operations
Ronie Elisan was shot. The cadaver was brought to the house of Nelson Elisan. Vicente Elisan around the small municipality. He usually did this as routine since Romblon was then plagued
found an empty shell of a .45 caliber about three (3) arm's length from the body of the victim. with political assassinations and armed conflict. On their way to the seashore, they passed by C
They surrendered it to the Napolcom. 19 & J-4 Kitchenette, and chanced upon Ronnie Ilisan and his brother Vicente Ilisan drinking liquor
and discussing in very loud voices. They stopped right in the front of the restaurant and there
Dr. Blandino C. Flores described the gunshot wounds of the victim as follows:
they heard Ronnie Ilisan state in a every loud voice that he will kill a person that night. Inside the
Gunshot Wounds: restaurant, without the knowledge then of Cawaling and the two police officers, witness Gil
Palacio, who was buying cigarettes and Luz Venus, the cook/server of the restaurant, saw Ronnie
1. Shoulder: Ilisan, very drunk, brandishing in the air a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver with a protruding
screw.
Gun shot wound 1/2 x 1/2 inch in diameter shoulder right 2 inches from the neck with
contussion [sic] collar s[u]rrounding the wound. Initially dismissing Ronnie Ilisan's statement as just another hollow swagger of an intoxicated
person ("salitang lasing"), Cawaling and the two policemen proceeded on their way. After the
2. Right Axilla: patrol, they returned to the municipal building and stationed themselves in front. At around 8:30
in the evening, Ronnie Elisan passed by the municipal hall walking towards the direction of the
Gun shot wound 1/4 x 1/4 inch in diameter, 2 inches below the right nipple with
house of Nelson Ilisan, another brother, and shouted the challenge, "gawas ang maisog", meaning
contussion [sic] collar s[u]rrounding the wound.
THOSE WHO ARE BRAVE, COME OUT. Cawaling and the two police officers again brushed aside
3. Left Axilla: [the] challenge as just another foolish drunken revelry [o]n the part of Ronnie Ilisan, a well-known
troublemaker in the small municipality.
Exit of the gun shot wound from the right axilla, measuring 1/2 x 1/2 inch with edges
everted, one inch below the axilla and one inch below the level of the nipple. A few moments later, after Ronie Ilisan had passed by, they distinctly heard a gunshot and
hysterical female voices shouting, "pulis, tabang" meaning POLICE! HELP! four times. Impelled by
4. Back: the call of duty, Cawaling and the two policemen immediately ran in the direction of the gunshot
and the desperate female voices until they reached the house of Nelson Ilisan in San Jose Street.
Gun shot wound measuring 1/4 x 1/4 inch, along the vertebral column, right at the level At this point, they saw Ronnie Ilisan holding a .38 caliber revolver. They also saw Vicente Ilisan,
of the 10th ribs with contussion [sic] collar. Francisco Tesnado, Fe Ilisan, the wife of Nelson and Delma Ilisan, the wife of Vicente, the latter
5. Leg, Left: two being the same persons who cried "pulis, tabang" four times. Cawaling then told Ronnie to
surrender his gun but the latter responded by pointing the gun at Cawaling and pulling the trigger.
Gun shot wound measuring 1/4 x 1/4 anterior aspect upper third leg with contussion [sic]
collar, with the exit 1/2 x 1/2 posterior aspect upper third leg, left. 20
At the precise moment that the gun fired, Cawaling warned the two policemen to drop to the 3. Cawaling and his men, armed with guns, could have immediately disarmed the victim at the
ground by shouting "dapa". Fortunately, Cawaling was not hit. Ronnie Ilisan then turned around initial encounter. The court could not understand why the victim was able to fire his gun, run,
and ran towards the church. The two policemen gave chase. Cawaling, still shaken and trembling then stop and again fire his gun, without being caught.
after the mischance was initially left behind but followed shortly. When Ronnie Ilisan reached the
church, he turned around and again fired at the pursuing Pfc. Cajilo. Fortunately, the gun misfired. 4. The positive identification made by the prosecution witnesses prevails over the alibi posed by
When they finally reached the ricefield, Pfc. Cajilo fired two (2) warning shots in the air for Ronnie De los Santos and Fontamillas, a defense that was not corroborated by any other witness.
to surrender. Ronnie responded by firing once again at Pfc. Tumbagahan but failed to hit the
5. The .38 caliber revolver, allegedly owned by the victim, was in fact owned and used by Alex
latter. At that instance, Pfc. Cajilo counter-fired at Ronnie Ilisan hitting him. Pfc. Tumbagahan also
Batuigas.
fired his weapon in the heat of exchange and also hit Ronnie Ilisan. As a result of the gunshot
wounds, Ronnie Ilisan later on succumbed. 6. The defense presented a photo and a sketch to prove that Imelda Ilisan Tumabagahan had an
obstructed view of the killing. The trial court ruled that such evidence was misleading, because
Pfc. Tumbagahan picked up the gun still in the hand of the dead Ronnie Ilisan and gave it to Pfc.
the window, from where said witness allegedly saw the incident, was at the eastern side of her
Cajilo. The three, Cawaling, who subsequently caught up with them after the incident, and the
house, and thus afforded a clear view of the incident, while the window referred to by the defense
two police officers, then proceeded to the police station located in the municipal building to
was at the southern portion.
formally report the incident in their station blotter. 23
7. The questioned testimonies of Dr. Flores, Nelson Ilisan and Provincial Prosecutor Pedro
The "Brief for All of the Accused-Appellants" filed by Atty. Napoleon U. Galit and the "Brief for
Victoriano, Jr., though not formally offered as evidence, may be admitted because of the failure
Appellants Ernesto Tumbagahan and Hilario Cajilo" submitted by Atty. Joselito R. Enriquez merely
of the defense to object thereto at the time they were called to testify.
repeated the facts as narrated by the trial court.
8. The defense failed to prove that the prosecution witnesses had any ill motive to testify falsely
Ruling of the Trial Court
against the appellant.
Finding the prosecution witnesses and their testimonies credible, the court a quo convicted the
9. Appellants had a motive to kill the victim. Nelson Ilisan testified that his brother Ronie (the
appellants. The killing was qualified to murder because of the aggravating circumstances of abuse
victim) had witnessed Bonifacio Buenaventura (a former chief commander of the San Jose Police
of superior strength and treachery. The trial court ruled that there was a notorious inequality of
Force) kill a certain Ruben Ventura. Cawaling, who was Buenaventura's first cousin, wanted Ronie
forces between the victim and his assailants, as the latter were greater in number and armed with
dead, because the latter had not followed his instruction to leave town to prevent him from
guns. It further ruled that abuse of superior strength absorbed treachery, as it ratiocinated:
testifying in said case.
"Certain cases," an authority wrote, "involving the killing of helpless victim by assailants superior
Assignment of Errors
to them in arms or numbers, or victims who were overpowered before being killed, were decided
on the theory that the killing was treacherous, when perhaps the correct qualifying circumstance The appellants, through their common counsel, Atty. Napoleon Galit, assign the following errors to
would be abuse of superiority. In these cases the attack was not sudden nor unexpected and the the lower court:
element of surprise was lacking." (Id., I Aquino, pp. 423-424). In the instant case, we earlier ruled
that the qualifying treachery should be considered as an exception to the general rule on 1. The trial court gravely erred in sustaining prosecutor's theory of conspiracy and thus renders
treachery because it was not present at the inception of the attack. The killing was not sudden nugatory or has totally forgotten that policemen when in actual call of duty normally operate in
nor unexpected and the element of surprise was lacking. It is for this reason that we hold that group but not necessarily in conspiracy.
alevosia should be deemed absorbed or included in abuse of superiority. Even assuming ex-gratia
argumenti that it should be the other way around, the situation will not be of help, penaltywise, 2. The trial court gravely erred in believing the theory of the prosecution that accused-appellant
to the accused. 24 Ulysses Cawaling was one of the alleged co-conspirators in the killing of the deceased Ronnie
Elisan.
The defenses raised by the appellants were dismissed and their witnesses declared unworthy of
belief for the following reasons: 3. The trial court gravely erred in not believing the defense of accused-appellant Ulysses Cawaling
that he has nothing to do with the shooting incident except to shout to arrest the accused[,] which
1. It was highly improbable that Defense Witness Tesnado would not tell his wife (Dory) and prompted his co-accused policemen to chase the accused and sho[o]t him when he resisted, after
Bebelinia Ilisan Sacapaño about the incident he had allegedly witnessed, more so when Sacapaño he fired at Mayor Cawaling.
was the victim's first cousin.
4. The trial court gravely erred in not giving weight to accused-appellant policemen['s]
2. The spot report prepared by Station Commander Oscar M. Montero, the testimonies of Cajilo testimonies which carry the presumption of regularity.
and Tumbagahan and the medical findings of Dr. Flores contradicted one another on the
following details: the caliber of the gun used in shooting the victim, the wounds inflicted and the 5. The trial court gravely erred in not acquitting all the accused-appellants by applying "the
whereabouts of Cawaling during the shoot-out. equipoise rule" thereby resulting [i]n reasonable doubts on the guilt. 25

In their joint brief, 26 Appellants Tumbagahan and Cajilo cite these other errors:
1. The trial court gravely erred in relying on the theory of the prosecution that accused-appellants Jurisdiction of the Trial Court
Ernesto Tumbagahan and Hilario Cajilo were alleged co-conspirators in the killing of the victim,
Ronie Ilisan. Appellants Tumbagahan and Cajilo argue that the trial court erred when it assumed jurisdiction over
the criminal case. They insist that the Sandiganbayan, not the regular courts, had jurisdiction to try
2. The trial court gravely erred in not believing the defense that herein accused-appellants merely and hear the case against the appellants, as they were public officers at the time of the killing which
did a lawful duty when the shooting incident happened which led to the death of Ronnie Ilisan. was allegedly committed by reason of or in relation to their office.

3. The trial court gravely erred in not acquitting herein accused-appellants by applying the We do not agree.
equipoise rule, thereby resulting in reasonable doubt on their guilt.
The jurisdiction of a court to try a criminal case is determined by the law in force at the time of the
4. Prescinding from the foregoing, herein accused-appellants do press and hold, that the lower institution of the action. Once the court acquires jurisdiction, it may not be ousted from the case by
court committed grave, serious and reversible error in appreciating the qualifying circumstance any subsequent events, such as a new legislation placing such proceedings under the jurisdiction of
of treachery (alevosia). another tribunal. The only recognized exceptions to the rule, which find no application in the case
at bar, arise when: (1) there is an express provision in the statute, or (2) the statute is clearly
5. The lower court committed grave, serious and reversible error in convicting both accused- intended to apply to actions pending before its enactment. 29
appellants of murder, instead merely of homicide, defined and penalized under the Revised Penal
Code. The statutes pertinent to the issue are PD 1606, as amended; 30 and PD 1850, as amended by PD
1952 and BP 129.
6. The lower court committed grave, serious and reversible error in appreciating the qualifying
circumstance of taking advantage of superior strength. Sec. 4 of PD 1606 31 reads:

7. The consummated crime being merely homicide, the mitigating circumstance of voluntary Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. — The Sandiganbayan shall exercise:
surrender should be considered to lower the penalty of homicide.
(a) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
8. The lower court committed error in not considering double jeopardy.
xxx xxx xxx
9 The lower court committed error in not dismissing the case for want of jurisdiction. 27
(2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and employees in relation to their
Appellant Cawaling imputes these additional errors to the court a quo: office, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, whether
simple or complexed with other crimes, where the penalty prescribed by law is higher than
1. The trial court gravely erred in not acquitting herein accused-appellant, Ulysses M. Cawaling, prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fine of P6,000.00: PROVIDED,
considering that he had no part in the killing and the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond HOWEVER, that offenses or felonies mentioned in this paragraph where the penalty prescribed
reasonable doubt; by law does not exceed prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years or a fine of
P6,000.00 shall be tried by the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal
2. The trial court gravely erred in not finding the shooting incident a result of hot pursuit and
Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court.
shoot-out between the deceased Ronnie Ilisan and the police officers in the performance of their
duty and self-defense, and in sustaining the prosecution's conspiracy theory; xxx xxx xxx
3. The trial court gravely erred in not acquitting Accused-Appellant Ulysses M. Cawaling However, former President Ferdinand Marcos issued two presidential decrees placing the members
considering that there was blatant absence of due process in the proceedings tantamount to of the Integrated National Police under the jurisdiction of courts-martial. Section 1 of PD 1952, 32
mistrial. 28 amending Section 1 of PD 1850, reads:
This Court's Ruling Sec. 1. Court Martial Jurisdiction over Integrated National Police and Members of the Armed
Forces. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding — (a) uniformed members of the
We affirm the conviction of the appellants. In so ruling, we will resolve the following issues: (1)
Integrated National Police who commit any crime or offense cognizable by the civil courts shall
jurisdiction of the trial court, (2) double jeopardy, (3) credibility of prosecution witnesses and their
henceforth be exclusively tried by courts-martial pursuant to and in accordance with
testimonies, (4) self-defense, (5) performance of lawful duty, (6) alibi, (7) conspiracy, (8) rule on
Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended, otherwise known as the Articles of War; (b) all persons
equipoise, (9) qualifying circumstances, (10) damages and (11) attending circumstances as they
subjects to military law under Article 2 of the aforecited Articles of War who commit any crime
affect the penalty.
or offense shall be exclusively tried by courts-martial or their case disposed of under the said
We shall address the first two issues as important preliminary questions and discuss the merits of Articles of War; Provided, that, in either of the aforementioned situations, the case shall be
the remaining ones, which we have culled from the errors cited by the appellants in their disposed of or tried by the proper civil or judicial authorities when court-martial jurisdiction over
aforementioned briefs. the offense has prescribed under Article 38 of Commonwealth Act Numbered 408, as amended,
or court-martial jurisdiction over the person of the accused military or Integrated National Police
First Issue: personnel can no longer be exercised by virtue of their separation from the active service without
jurisdiction having duly attached beforehand unless otherwise provided by law:
PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT THE PRESIDENT MAY, IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE, ORDER OR DIRECT, Second Issue:
AT ANY TIME BEFORE ARRAIGNMENT, THAT A PARTICULAR CASE BE TRIED BY THE APPROPRIATE
CIVIL COURT. Double Jeopardy

As used herein, the term uniformed members of the Integrated National Police shall refer to In seeking their acquittal, Appellants Tumbagahan and Cajilo also invoke their right against double
police officers, policemen, firemen, and jail guards. jeopardy. They argue that the first jeopardy attached when a criminal case for murder was filed
before the Judge Advocate General's Office (JAGO), which was allegedly dismissed after several
On the other hand, the jurisdiction of regular courts over civil and criminal cases was laid down in hearings had been conducted. 39 We are not persuaded.
BP 129, the relevant portion of which is quoted hereunder:
There is double jeopardy when the following requisites are present: (1) a first jeopardy has attached
Sec. 20. Jurisdiction in Criminal Cases. — Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy has been validly terminated; and (3) a second jeopardy is
in all criminal cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal or body, except for the same offense as that in the first. And the first jeopardy attaches only (a) after a valid
those now falling under the exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan which indictment; (b) before a competent court; (c) after arraignment; (d) when a valid plea has been
shall hereafter be exclusively taken cognizance of by the latter. 33 entered; and (e) when the accused was acquitted or convicted, or the case was dismissed or
otherwise terminated without his express consent. 40
In relation to the above, Section 4-a-2 of PD 1606, as amended by PD 1861, quoted earlier, lists two
requisites that must concur before the Sandiganbayan may exercise exclusive and original For a better appreciation of appellants' argument, we must consider PD 39 41 and its implementing
jurisdiction over a case: (a) the offense was committed by the accused public officer in relation to rules, 42 which prescribe the procedure before a military commission. A summary preliminary
his office; and (b) the penalty prescribed by law is higher than prision correccional or imprisonment investigation shall be conducted before trial for the purpose of determining whether there is prima
for six (6) years, or higher than a fine of six thousand pesos (P6,000). 34 Sanchez vs. Demetriou 35 facie evidence to pursue trial before a military commission. The investigation report shall contain a
clarified that murder or homicide may be committed both by public officers and by private citizens, summary of the evidence, the acts constituting the offense or offenses committed, and the findings
and that public office is not a constitutive element of said crime, viz.: and recommendations of the investigating officer. Thereafter, the report shall be forwarded to the
judge advocate general, who shall determine for either the defense secretary or for the AFP chief
The relation between the crime and the office contemplated by the Constitution is, in our opinion, of staff whether the case shall be referred for trial to a military commission. 43 Where a prima facie
direct and not accidental. To fall into the intent of the Constitution, the relation has to be such case is found against the accused, formal charges shall be signed by a commissioned officer
that, in the legal sense, the offense cannot exist without the office. In other words, the office designated by the judge advocate general. 44 The accused shall then be arraigned, during which the
must be a constituent element of the crime as defined in the statute, such as, for instance, the charge and specification shall be read and the accused shall enter his plea. 45 After hearings, a record
crimes defined and punished in Chapter Two to Six, Title Seven, of the Revised Penal Code. of the trial shall be forwarded to the AFP chief of staff for proper action. 46
Public office is not the essence of murder. The taking of human life is either murder or homicide In the present case, the appellants have presented no sufficient and conclusive evidence to show
whether done by a private citizen or public servant, and the penalty is the same except when the that they were charged, arraigned and acquitted in a military commission, or that the case was
perpetrator, being a public functionary, took advantage of his office, as alleged in this case, in dismissed therein without their consent. The defense merely offered as evidence certain disposition
which event the penalty is increased. forms 47 and a
letter, 48 dated March 8, 1983, recommending that the case against Appellants Tumbagahan, Cajilo
But the use or abuse of office does not adhere to the crime as an element; and even as an
and De los Santos be dropped and considered closed. 49 No charge sheet and record of arraignment
aggravating circumstance, its materiality arises, not from the allegations but on the proof, not
and trial were presented to establish the first jeopardy.
from the fact that the criminals are public officials but from the manner of the commission of the
crime. As pointed out by the solicitor general, "appellants were never arraigned, they never pleaded before
the Judge Advocate General's Office, there was no trial, and no judgment on the merits had been
Furthermore, the Information filed against the appellants contains no allegation that appellants
rendered." 50
were public officers who committed the crime in relation to their office. The charge was for murder,
a felony punishable under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. As clarified in Aguinaldo, et al. vs. Third Issue:
Domagas, et al., 36 "[I]n the absence of such essential allegation, and since the present case does
not involve charges of violation of R.A. No. 3019 (the Anti-Graft etc. Act), the Sandiganbayan does Credibility of Witnesses
not have jurisdiction over the present case. (Bartolome vs. People, 142 SCRA 459 [1986]) Even
before considering the penalty prescribed by law for the offense charged, it is thus essential to As a general rule, the factual findings of trial courts deserve respect and are not disturbed on appeal,
determine whether that offense was committed or alleged to have been committed by the public unless some facts or circumstances of weight and substance have been overlooked,
officers and employees in relation to their offices." misapprehended or misinterpreted, and would otherwise materially affect the disposition of the
case. 51 This rule, however, does not apply when the judge who penned the decision was not the
Jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. 37 In the absence of same one who had heard the prosecution witnesses testify, 52 as in the present case. Nonetheless,
any allegation that the offense was committed in relation to the office of appellants or was we have carefully perused and considered the voluminous records of this case, and we find no
necessarily connected with the discharge of their functions, the regional trial court, not the reason to alter the findings of the court a quo in regard to the credibility of the prosecution
Sandiganbayan, has jurisdiction to hear and decide the case. 38 witnesses and their testimonies.
Vicente Ilisan, the victim's brother, narrated before the trial court the circumstances relevant to the A. Mayor Cawaling, Andres Fontamillas, Hilario Cajilo, Ernesto Tumbagahan, Ricardo delos
crime: Santos and Alex Batuigas.
Q. How were you able to recognize them when that was night time?
Q. In the evening of December 4, 1982, at about 8:00 or 8:30, where were you? A. Because the flashlight[s] were bright.
A. I was inside the restaurant of Andres Fontamillas. Q. When Diosdado Venus ran back to his restaurant, what did your brother Ronie Elisan and you
xxx xxx xxx do?
Q. What were you doing there? A. We also ran towards home.
A. I was drinking tuba. Q. To whose house?
Q. When you were about to finish drinking tuba, what did you do? A. That of my older sister Imelda [E]lisan.
A. I stood up preparing to go home. Q. Were you able to reach that house?
Q. Were you able to leave that restaurant actually? A. No, sir.
A. No, sir. Q. Why, what happened when you ran away?
Q. Why? A. Andres Fontamillas and Hilario Cajilo were blocking us on the gate of the fence of my sister's
A. Luz Venus told us not to go out when [I] stood up to go home. house.
Q. Do you know why you were advise[d] not to go out? Q. Since your way was blocked, where did Ronie Elisan go?
A. Yes, sir. A. We ran towards the ricefield.
Q. Why? Q. When you ran, what did Mayor Cawaling do?
A. Because we were being watched by Mayor Cawaling, Andres Fontamillas, Hilario Cajilo and A. They were chasing us.
Alex Bat[ui]gas. Q. What about Alex Batuigas, what did he do?
xxx xxx xxx A. He also followed helping chasing us. [sic]
Q. When you were informed by Luz Venus that you should not go out because Mayor Cawaling Q. What about the four policemen, what did they do?
and the persons you mentioned were outside watching for you, what did you do? A. The same. They were also chasing us.
A. We did not go out. Q. About how far is that restaurant [from] the spot where you were first lighted by the flashlight
Q. Since you remained inside, what did you do? of the accused?
A. I also viewed thru the window. A. About one hundred meters.
Q. Did you see them? Q. Now, according to you, you ran towards the ricefield, what happened while you were
A. Yes, sir. running towards the ricefield?
Q. How far were they from the restaurant? A. I saw my brother fell [sic] down.
A. About three meters. Q. Fell down where?
Q. What were they doing outside the restaurant? A. On the ricefield.
A. They were also viewing us. Q. What about you, where were you when your brother fell down in the ricefield?
Q. For how long did they remain there viewing you? A. I ran towards the bushes.
A. Just a short time. Q. What did you do upon reaching the bushes?
Q. And later on, do you know where did they go? [sic] A. I la[y] on the ground with my belly touch[ing] on the ground behind the coconut tree.
A. No, sir. I went out from the restaurant and when I went out, I did not see them anymore. Q. When your brother according to you had fallen on the ricefield, what did he do thereafter?
Q. Before you went out of the restaurant, what did you do? A. He rose up, [raised] his hands and surrender[ed] to them.
A. Diosdado Venus accompanied us. Q. In rising, what was his position?
Q. Why did you ask Diosdado Venus to accompany you? A. He was rising like this. (Witness demonstrating by kneeling [and] raising his two hands).
A. Yes, sir. Because we were aware that we were being watched from outside so we asked to be Q. While Ronie Elisan was kneeling and raising both of his hands, what happened?
accompanied by Diosdado Venus. A. Mayor Cawaling approached him together with the four policemen and his brother-in-law
Q. From the restaurant accompanied by Diosdado Venus, what did you do? and they shot him.
A. Towards home. Q. Do you know what weapon[s] were used in shooting your brother?
Q. Were you able to reach home? A. Yes, sir.
A. No, sir. Q. What weapon were used?
Q. Why, what happened on the way? A. The weapon of Mayor Cawaling is .45 caliber and that of Andres Fontamillas and Hilario Cajilo
A. Diosdado Venus ran going back because we were lighted by a flashlight. were both armalite and that of Ernesto Tumbagahan, Alex Batuigas and Ricardo delos Santos
Q. How many flashlight[s] were trimed [sic] to you? were .38 caliber.
A. Six. Q. How were you able to identify their weapons?
Q. Did you come to know who trimed [sic] the flashlight towards you? A. Because the flashlight[s] were bright.
A. Yes, sir. Q. Now, what happened to your brother when he was fired upon by the accused in this case?
Q. Who were they? A. He fell down.
Q. And how far is that spot where your elder brother had fallen down to the spot where This argument is not persuasive. The evidence presented fails to show that Vicente was so
Diosdado Venus left you when he returned to the restaurant? intoxicated that night as to affect his powers of observation and retrospection. Defense Witness
A. To my estimate it is about 300 meters. Palacio merely saw the witness drinking tuba on the night of the killing. 63 Meanwhile the whole
Q. After your brother had fallen down, what did the accused do? testimony of Luz on the matter mainly reveals that Ronie was the person she was referring to as
A. Mayor Cawaling said, ["]you left him, he is already dead.["] drunk, as shown by this portion: 64
Q. Where did they go?
A. They went towards the house of Mayor Cawaling. 53 Q When Ronie and Vicente both surnamed Ilisan entered the C & J-4 kitchenette what if any did
you observe?
Imelda Tumbagahan was at home feeding her child when she heard her brother Ronie shouting for A I saw them so dr[u]nk (Nakita ko sila lasing na lasing).
help. After getting a flashlight and looking through the window of her house, she saw Cawaling and Q Who was lasing na lasing or so dr[u]nk?
Alex Batuigas chasing Ronie who was running towards her house. Tumbagahan and De los Santos A Ronie Ilisan sir.
prevented Ronie from entering the fence of her house, as a result of which, her brother ran towards
a rice field nearby. There, on bended knees and with hands raised, Ronie was shot by Cawaling and Granting that Vicente was drunk, the conviction of the appellants is still inevitable in view of the
his men. 54 positive declarations of Witnesses Nelson and Imelda, who unequivocally identified appellants as
perpetrators of the senseless killing of their brother Ronie.
Nelson Ilisan also heard his younger brother Ronie shouting for help while being chased by the group
of Cawaling. As Cajilo and Fontamillas blocked Ronie from entering the gate of Imelda's house, the Appellant Cawaling also questions the trial court's reliance on the testimonies of Dr. Blandino Flores,
65 Nelson Ilisan 66 and Prosecutor Pedro Victoriano, Jr., 67 for failure of the prosecution to offer them
victim ran towards a rice field. Nelson stopped Cawaling and asked, "Nong, basi guinalagas ninyo
and acon hali? (Nong, why do you chase my brother?)" But the mayor merely continued chasing as evidence. In People vs. Java, 68 this Court ruled that the testimony of a witness, although not
Ronie. Thereafter, Nelson saw his brother, on his knees with both hands raised, shot by appellants. formally offered in evidence, may still be admitted by the courts, if the other party does not object
55 to its presentation. The Court explained: "Section 36 of [Rule 132] requires that an objection in the
course of the oral examination of a witness should be made as soon as the grounds therefor shall
The three aforementioned witnesses narrated in detail the assault against their brother Ronie and become reasonably apparent. Since no objection to the admissibility of evidence was made in the
positively identified the appellants as the perpetrators. The trial court cannot be faulted for relying court below, an objection raised for the first time on appeal will not be considered." In the present
on their testimonies and accepting them as true, 56 especially when the defense failed, to prove any case, a cursory reading of the stenographic notes reveals that the counsel for the appellants did not
ill motive on their part. 57 In addition, family members who have witnessed the killing of their loved raise any objection when said witnesses testified on the matters now being impugned. Moreover,
one usually strive to remember the faces of the assailants. 58 Thus, the relationship per se of they repeatedly cross-examined the witnesses, which shows that they had waived their objections
witnesses with the victim does not necessarily mean that the former are biased. On the contrary, it to the said testimonies of such witnesses.
is precisely such relationship that would impel them to seek justice and put the real culprit behind
bars, rather than impute the offense to the innocent. 59 Lastly, Appellant Mayor Cawaling questions the motive of Prosecutor Pedro Victoriano Jr. This
contention is likewise bereft of merit. Unlike judges who are mandated to display cold neutrality in
Appellant Cawaling submits that the prosecution witnesses tampered with the evidence by cleaning hearing cases, 69 prosecutors are not required to divest themselves of their personal convictions
the cadaver before an autopsy could be done. "Such irregular washing of the cadaver by a close and refrain from exhibiting partiality. In this case, there is reasonable ground for Prosecutor
relative of the deceased, who is educated and who presumably knew perfectly well the need to Victoriano to believe that an offense has been committed and that the accused was probably guilty
preserve it in its original state for the medico-legal examination[,] is highly suspicious. It points to thereof. 70 Under the circumstance, it is his sworn duty to see that justice is served. 71 Thus, "[h]e
the fact that the relatives of the deceased wanted to hide, or erase something that would bolster may prosecute with earnestness and vigor — indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard
and assist the defense (that is, state of drunkenness, powder burns or lack thereof, indicating the blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods
firing of a weapon or the proximity of the weapon used on the deceased, etc.)." 60 calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a
just one." 72 Further,
Such contention is unavailing. First, Bebelinia Sacapaño merely cleaned the cadaver and made no
further examination. Second, appellants had an opportunity to have the body examined again to Under the prevailing criminal procedure, the fiscal's sphere of action is quite extensive, for he has
determine or prove important matters, such as whether Ronie was drunk, if he fired a gun, how very direct and active intervention in the trial, assuming as the Government's representative the
many and what caliber of guns were used in shooting him; they did not, however, avail themselves defense of society, which has been disturbed by the crime, and taking public action as though he
of this opportunity. As public officers, appellants knew that it was within their power to request or were the injured party, for the purpose of securing the offender's punishment, whenever the
secure from the court, or any other competent authority, an order for another autopsy 61 or any crime has been proved and the guilt of the accused as the undoubted perpetrator thereof
such evidence as may affirm their innocence. Third, their conviction lies in the strong and convincing established. 73
testimonial evidence of the prosecution, not in the corroborative testimony of Bebelinia Sacapaño.
Fourth Issue:
Relying on the testimonies of Luz Venus and Gil Palacio, Appellant Cawaling also pointed out that Self-Defense
"[t]he power of observation of alleged eyewitness Vicente was severely affected by his intoxication.
It may be inferred that an intoxicated person's sense[s] of sight and hearing and of touch are less To escape criminal liability, the appellants also invoke the justifying circumstances of self-defense
acute than those of a sober person and that his observation are inexact as to what actually and lawful performance of duty. 74 Allegedly, Ronie was firing his gun and shouting. "Guwa ang
occurred." 62
maisog! (Come out who is brave!)." Then the mayor and the policemen arrived at the scene to pacify We likewise brush aside the defenses of alibi and denial raised by Appellant De los Santos.
him. Ronie fired at them, which forced them to chase him and return fire. Prosecution witnesses positively identified him and Fontamillas as part of the group which chased
and shot Ronie Ilisan. It is elementary that alibi and denial are outweighed by positive identification
We find this scenario bereft of plausibility. that is categorical, consistent and untainted by any ill motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying
on the matter. Alibi and denial, if not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence, are negative
Unlawful aggression on the part of the victim is a condition sine qua non for the successful
and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law. 83
invocation of self-defense. 75 As factually found by the trial court, unlawful aggression did not start
with the victim, but rather with the appellants. Cawaling and his men proceeded to the C & J-4 In fact, De los Santos failed to establish with clear and convincing evidence that it was physically
Kitchenette and waited for Ronie to come out. When the victim did, they chased and shot him impossible for him to have been at the scene of the crime during its commission. 84 The evidence
without giving him any opportunity to defend himself. he had presented demonstrated only that, at the time, he was sleeping in his house, which was near
the locus criminis.
Granting arguendo the veracity of the defense's factual version, it is important to note that
appellants admitted that Ronie was running away from them when they chased and shot him. Thus, Alibi is always considered with suspicion and received with caution, not only because it is inherently
unlawful aggression — assuming it was initially present — had ceased, and the appellants no longer weak and unreliable, but also because it is easily fabricated and concocted. 85 It is therefore
had any right to pursue the offender. Basic is the rule that when unlawful aggression ceases, the incumbent upon the appellant to prove that he was at another place when the felony was
defender no longer has the right to kill or even wound the former aggressor. Upon the cessation of committed, and that it was physically impossibie for him to have been at the scene of the crime at
the unlawful aggression and the danger or risk to life and limb, there should be a corresponding the time it was committed. 86 This he failed to prove.
cessation of hostilities on the part of the person defending himself. 76
Seventh Issue:
Conspiracy
Furthermore, the means employed to ward off the attack was unreasonably excessive. Being armed, The trial court correctly appreciated the presence of conspiracy. Conspiracy exists when two or
the appellants could have easily ordered the victim to surrender. Even the first shot at his shoulder more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit
would have been sufficient to immobilize him, yet they fired a succession of shots at him while he it. Direct proof of conspiracy is rarely found, for criminals do not write down their lawless plans and
was in no position to put up a defense. plots. The agreement to commit a crime, however, may be deduced from the mode and manner of
the commission of the offense or inferred from acts that point to a joint purpose and design,
Jurisprudence teaches that when an accused admits having committed the crime but invokes self-
concerted action, and community of intent. 87 It does not matter who inflicted the mortal wound,
defense to escape criminal liability, the burden of proof is reversed and shifted to him. He must then
as the act of one is the act of all, and each incurs the same criminal liability. 88 We concur with the
prove the elements of self-defense. 77 It necessarily follows that he must now rely on the strength
trial court's elucidation:
of his own evidence and not on the weakness of that of the prosecution; for even if the latter
evidence were weak, it could not be disbelieved after the accused has admitted the All of the accused chased the victim and his brother; four (4) of whom blocked their ways, first,
killing. 78 Thus, appellants must establish with clear and convincing evidence that the killing was to their elder brother Nelson Elisan's house and, second, to their elder sister Imelda Elisan
justified, and that they incurred no criminal liability therefor. 79 They failed to do so, and their Tumbagahon's house. Having changed course by proceeding to the ricefield in their desperate
conviction thus becomes inevitable. 80 attempt to evade the accused, all the six (6) armed accused continued their pursuit. Their victim,
having fallen on the rice paddy, and rising and kneeling on it with raised hands, all the said
Fifth Issue:
accused with their flashlights beamed on their victim, in a united and concerted manner, shot
Lawful Performance of Duties
him. After Ronie Elisan had fallen down, co-accused Mayor Cawaling was even heard as saying
"(Y)ou left [sic] him, he is already dead." . . . . 89
Appellants contend that the killing of Ronie resulted from the lawful performance of their duties as
police officers. However, such justifying circumstance may be invoked only after the defense Eighth Issue:
successfully proves that (1) the accused acted in the performance of a duty, and (2) the injury or Equipoise Rule
offense committed is the necessary consequence of the due performance or lawful exercise of such
duty. 81 These two requisites are wanting in this case. We reject appellants' position that the equipoise rule should apply to this case. 90 In People vs.
Lagnas, 91 the Court, through Mr. Justice Florenz D. Regalado, described this rule as follows:
The appellants, except Mayor Cawaling, were men in uniform who happened to be on duty when
they killed Ronie. The victim was nor committing any offense at the time. Killing the victim under Once again, albeit in effect a supportive and cumulative consideration in view of the preceding
the circumstances of this case cannot in any wise be considered a valid performance of a lawful duty disquisition, the equipoise rule finds application in this case, that is, if the inculpatory facts and
by men who had sworn to maintain peace and order and to protect the lives of the people. As aptly circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is consistent with the
held in People vs. De la Cruz, 82 "Performance of duties does not include murder." That Ronie was a innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill
troublemaker in their town is not an excuse; as the Court declared in the same case of People vs. De the test of moral certainty, and is not sufficient to support a conviction.
la Cruz, "Murder is never justified, regardless of the victim."
In this case, the inculpatory facts point to only one conclusion: appellants are guilty. As amplified in
Sixth Issue: the discussion above, the Court agrees with the trial court that the guilt of the appellants was proven
Alibi beyond reasonable doubt.
Ninth Issue: Loss of earning capacity of Ronie Elisan = 2/3 (90-20) x P2,500.00 = P116,666.66.
Murder or Homicide? 97

Consistent with jurisprudence, we affirm the ruling of the trial court awarding the amount of
The Information alleges three qualifying circumstances: treachery, evident premeditation and P50,000 as civil indemnity to the heirs of the victim. 98
taking advantage of superior strength. If appreciated, any one of these will qualify the killing to
murder. However, Appellants Tumbagahan and Cajilo posit that there was no treachery, reasoning We cannot do the same to the award of actual damages and lost earnings, however. The award of
that Ronie was not an unsuspecting victim, as he had been forewarned by Diosdado Venus of the actual damages has no basis, as no receipts were presented to substantiate the expenses allegedly
presence of the appellants inside the restaurant, and there had been a chase prior to the killing. incurred. An alleged pecuniary loss must be established by credible evidence before actual damages
Further, they contend that abuse of superior strength is deemed absorbed in treachery, and that may be awarded. 99 Similarly erroneous is the award for loss of earning capacity, which should be
"the addition of abuse of superior strength to qualify the case to murder is nothing more than mere computed as follows: 100
repetition — a legal chicanery, so to say. Similarly, where treachery is not proved, there can be no
2/3 x [80 — age of victim at the time of death] x [reasonable portion of the
abuse of superior strength, vice-versa." 92
annual net income which would have been received as support by heirs]
We partly agree.
As testified to by Nelson Ilisan, the deceased had been earning an average of P100 daily or P3,000
Treachery exists when the malefactors employ means and methods that tend directly and especially monthly. 101 From this monthly income must be deducted the reasonable amount of P1,000
to insure their execution without risk to themselves arising from the defense which the victims representing the living and other necessary expenses of the deceased. Hence, the lost earnings of
might make. The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack without the slightest the deceased should be computed as follows:
provocation on the part of the person attacked. 93 While we do not disregard the fact that the victim,
= 2/3 x [80 - 22] x [P24,000]
together with his brother Vicente, was able to run towards a rice field, we still believe that treachery
= 2/3 x [58] x [P24,000]
attended the killing.
= 2[P1,392,000]
In People vs. Landicho, 94 we ruled that treachery might still be appreciated even when the victim 3
was warned of danger to his person, for "what is decisive is that the execution of the attack made = P2,784,000
it impossible for the victim to defend himself or to retaliate." 3
= P928,000.
The appellants waited for Ronie to come out of the restaurant. All of them chased the victim and Eleventh Issue:
prevented him from seeking refuge either in the house of his sister Imelda or that of his brother
Nelson. All of them carried firearms and flashlights. They fired their guns at the victim while he was Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances
on his knees with arms raised, manifesting his intention not to fight back.
Prior to the amendment of Section 248 of the Revised Penal Code, 102 the imposable penalty for
We cannot appreciate the aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength, however, as we murder was reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death. In their Brief, Appellants Cajilo and
have consistently ruled that it is deemed absorbed in treachery. 95 Tumbagahan argue for the imposition of the lower penalty of reclusion temporal, contending that
their filing of bail bonds/property bonds, before the order for their arrest was issued, should be
We also affirm the finding of the trial court that the prosecution failed to prove the attending treated as voluntary surrender. 103
circumstance of evident premeditation. To prove this aggravating circumstance, the prosecution
must show the following: (1) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime; (2) an We cannot accept this contention. In the first place, it has no factual basis. The warrant for the
act manifestly indicating that the offender clung to his determination; and (3) a lapse of time, arrest of herein appellants was issued on August 18, 1987, 104 but appellants' counsel filed the
between the determination to commit the crime and the execution thereof, sufficient to allow the Urgent Motion for Bail only thereafter, on September 2, 1987. 105 In the second place, appellants
offender to reflect upon the consequences of his act. 96 Nothing in the records shows how and when failed to prove the requisites for voluntary surrender, which are: (1) the offender has not been
the plan to kill was hatched, or how much time had elapsed before it was carried out. actually arrested; (2) the offender surrenders himself to a person in authority or to the latter's
agent; and (3) the surrender is voluntary. 106 The records reveal that a warrant of arrest was actually
Tenth Issue: served on Tumbagahan and Cajilo 107 on September 2, 1987 and that they were in fact detained. 108
Damages
The trial court awarded the following: (a) P50,000.00, as civil indemnity; (b) P6,000.00, as actual In view of the absence of any other aggravating or mitigating circumstance, the trial court correctly
damages; and (c) P116,666.66, for lost earnings. In computing the latter, the trial court used the imposed reclusion perpetua.
following formula:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision is AFFIRMED with the following
Total annual net income = 10% x total annual gross income MODIFICATIONS: (1) the award of P6,000 as actual damages is DELETED, and (2) the award for loss
= .10 x P25,000.00 of earning capacity is INCREASED to P928,000. Costs against appellant.
= P2,500.00.
SO ORDERED.
xxx xxx xxx
CIVPRO – ERROR OF JURISDICTION VS. ERROR OF JUDGMENT Abillar as President and member of the Board of Directors because they had already lost their
confidence in him for having been involved in various anomalies and irregularities during his tenure.
G.R. No. 171989 July 4, 2007 Thereby, private respondent Abillar was ousted from the petitioner corporation.
FIRST CORPORATION, petitioner, On 13 March 1998, private respondent Sacris, for a valuable consideration, executed a Deed of
vs. Assignment4 in favor of private respondent Abillar, assigning and transferring to private respondent
FORMER SIXTH DIVISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS, BRANCH 218 OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL Abillar his remaining collectibles due from the petitioner corporation in the amount of P1.8 million.
COURT OF QUEZON CITY,** EDUARDO M. SACRIS, and CESAR A. ABILLAR, respondents. As consideration for the execution of the aforesaid Deed of Assignment, private respondent Abillar
shall pay private respondent Sacris the outstanding balance of P1.8 million due from the petitioner
DECISION
corporation on or before 30 July 1998.
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
On 10 April 1998, private respondent Abillar, by virtue of the Deed of Assignment, filed a Complaint
This is a Special Civil Action for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure for Sum of Money with Prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Attachment and Damages before the RTC of
seeking to annul, on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of Pasig City against the petitioner corporation. The said case was docketed as Civil Case No. 66757.
jurisdiction, the Decision1 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City in Civil Case No. Q01- While the case was still pending, both private respondents agreed to rescind the Deed of
44599 dated 28 June 2004, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals in its Decision2 and Resolution3 dated Assignment that they had executed on 13 March 1998 for failure of private respondent Abillar to
29 November 2005 and 14 February 2006, respectively, in CA-G.R. CV No. 84660 entitled, Eduardo comply with his undertaking to pay private respondent Sacris the amount of P1.8 million on or
M. Sacris v. First Corporation and First Corporation v. Cesar A. Abillar. before 30 July 1998. Thus, on 27 August 1998, private respondents Sacris and Abillar executed a
Deed of Rescission5 of the Deed of Assignment dated 13 March 1998. Consequently, private
Herein petitioner First Corporation is a corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine respondent Sacris himself made a demand upon the petitioner corporation to pay its outstanding
laws and engaged primarily in trade. Herein private respondent Eduardo M. Sacris (Sacris) is the obligation of P1.8 million but the latter refused to do so.
alleged creditor of the petitioner corporation, while private respondent Cesar A. Abillar (Abillar) had
served as the President and Chairman of the Board of the petitioner corporation from 1993 until 26 Hence, before pre-trial of the aforesaid Civil Case No. 66757, private respondent Sacris filed a
February 1998. Motion for Intervention attaching thereto his Complaint in Intervention. At first, the RTC of Pasig
City denied the said Motion for Intervention. Subsequently, however, the trial court admitted the
The controversy of the present case arose from the following generative facts: Complaint in Intervention filed by private respondent Sacris and dismissed the Complaint originally
filed by private respondent Abillar against the petitioner corporation. The admission of the
In 1991, the corporate officers of the petitioner corporation namely: Vicente C. Esmeralda, Edgardo Complaint in Intervention prompted petitioner corporation to file a Petition for Certiorari and
C. Cerbo, Nicolas E. Esposado, Rafael P. La Rosa and herein private respondent Abillar, convinced Prohibition before the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 54322 entitled, First
private respondent Sacris to invest in their business as the petitioner corporation needed a fresh Corporation v. Hon. Jose R. Hernandez, Presiding Judge of Branch 158 of the Regional Trial Court of
equity infusion, particularly in its Rema Tip Top Division, to make viable its continuous operation. Pasig City and Mr. Eduardo Sacris. In a Decision6 dated 31 May 2001, the Third Division of the Court
The petitioner corporation made a promise of turning such equity into shareholding in the of Appeals granted the Petition filed by the petitioner corporation and issued a Writ of Certiorari,
petitioner corporation. While the conversion of such investment into shareholding was still pending, as a result of which, the Orders of the RTC of Pasig City dated 27 April 1999 and 21 July 19997 in Civil
private respondent Sacris and the petitioner corporation agreed to consider the same as a loan Case No. 66757 were set aside. The appellate court directed Judge Jose R. Hernandez 8 to dismiss
which shall earn an interest of one percent per month. Accordingly, from the year 1991 up to 1994, the Complaint with prejudice and to deny the Motion in Intervention without prejudice. The
private respondent Sacris had already extended a P1.2 million loan to the Rema Tip Top Division of dispositive portion of the aforesaid Decision reads:
the petitioner corporation.
WHEREFORE, finding merit in the [P]etition, the Court issues the writ of certiorari and sets aside
In 1997, private respondent Sacris extended another P1 million loan to the petitioner corporation. the Orders dated 27 April 1999 and 21 July 1999 in Civil Case No. 66757. The respondent judge is
Thus, from 1991 up to 1997, the total loan extended by private respondent Sacris to the petitioner directed to dismiss the Complaint with prejudice and deny the Motion in Intervention without
corporation reached a total amount of P2.2 million. All loans were given by private respondent prejudice. Resultantly, if they are so minded, the [herein] petitioner First Corporation may
Sacris to herein private respondent Abillar, as the latter was then the President and Chairman of institute an action in pursuit of its claims against [herein private respondent] Cesar A. Abillar; and
the Board of Directors of the petitioner corporation. The receipts for the said loans were issued by [herein private respondent] Eduardo Sacris may sue the [petitioner] First Corporation on his
the petitioner corporation in the name of private respondent Abillar. Petitioner corporation failed claims embodied in his rejected Complaint in Intervention.9
to convert private respondent Sacris’s investment/loan into equity or shareholding in the petitioner
corporation. In its place, petitioner corporation agreed to pay a monthly interest of 2.5% on the Based on the aforesaid Decision of the Court of Appeals, private respondent Sacris filed a Complaint
amount of the loan extended to it by private respondent Sacris. Petitioner corporation likewise for Sum of Money with Damages before the RTC of Quezon City against the petitioner corporation,
made partial payments of P400,000.00 on the principal obligation and interest payment in the docketed as Civil Case No. Q01-44599, to recover his alleged collectible amount of P1.8 million due
amounts of P33,750.27 and P23,250.00, thus, leaving an outstanding balance of P1.8 million. from the petitioner corporation. Petitioner corporation filed its Answer denying the material
allegations stated in the Complaint. Petitioner corporation denied having liability to private
In the meantime or on 27 February 1998, a Special Stockholders’ Meeting of the petitioner respondent Sacris, as it had no knowledge of or consent to the purported transactions or dealings
corporation was held to elect the members of the Board of Directors and also to elect a new set of that private respondent Sacris may have had with private respondent Abillar. Subsequently,
officers. The stockholders of the petitioner corporation no longer re-elected private respondent petitioner corporation filed a Third-Party Complaint against private respondent Abillar alleging that
the investment/loan transactions of private respondent Sacris, the basis of his cause of action IV. PUBLIC RESPONDENTS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND WITHOUT AND/OR
against the petitioner corporation, were all entered into by private respondent Abillar without the IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN NOT AWARDING DAMAGES TO PETITIONER AND IN DISMISSING
knowledge, consent, authority and/or approval of the petitioner corporation or of the latter’s Board THE THIRD-PARTY COMPLAINT FILED BY PETITIONER AGAINST [PRIVATE RESPONDENT] CESAR
of Directors. The aforesaid transactions were not even ratified by the petitioner corporation or by ABILLAR.
its Board of Directors. Private respondent Abillar filed his Answer to the said Third-Party Complaint
In the Memorandum11 filed by the petitioner corporation, it avers that the RTC of Quezon City and
raising therein the same allegations found in the Complaint filed by private respondent Sacris. Pre-
the appellate court erred in holding that private respondents’ claim of the existence of the
trial ensued followed by the trial on the merits.
purported loans was supported by a preponderance of evidence, despite the fact that the pieces of
On 28 June 2004, the RTC of Quezon City rendered a Decision in Civil Case No. Q01-44599 in favor documentary evidence presented by the private respondents were tainted with irregularities. Thus,
of the private respondents. The decretal portion of which reads: the RTC and the appellate court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of their
jurisdiction in giving credence to these pieces of documentary evidence presented by the private
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the court renders judgment in favor of [herein private respondents. The aforesaid pieces of documentary evidence are the following: (1) the certifications
respondents] EDUARDO M. SACRIS and CESAR A. ABILLAR but against [herein petitioner] FIRST and official receipts to prove petitioner corporation’s indebtedness to private respondent Sacris; (2)
CORPORATION, as follows: Exhibits "G"-"FF," inclusive, consisting of check vouchers which allegedly proved petitioner
corporation’s loans from private respondent Sacris which was subject to 2.5% interest; (3) deposit
1. Ordering [petitioner] corporation to pay the balance of P1,800,000.00 plus an interest of
slips and official receipts, supposedly evidence of deposit payments made by private respondent
twenty-four percent (24%) per annum computed from the time this action was filed until fully
Abillar to the petitioner corporation; (4) Exhibit "GG," to show that the amount of P150,000.00 given
paid;
in the form of a loan was used by the petitioner corporation in paying its employees’ 13 th month
2. Ordering [petitioner] corporation to pay [private respondent Abillar] P20,000.00 as and by way pay; and (5) Exhibit "RR," which consists of a handwritten note to prove petitioner corporation’s
of attorney’s fees; offer to settle amicably its account with private respondent Sacris.
3. Ordering [petitioner] corporation to pay [private respondent Sacris] P50,000.00 as and by way Petitioner corporation further argues that the conclusion made by the RTC of Quezon City and the
of attorney’s fees; and appellate court that it benefited from the loans obtained from private respondent Sacris had no
basis in fact and in law. More so, it was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC of Quezon
4. Ordering [petitioner] corporation to pay the cost of suit.10
City and the Court of Appeals to conclude that the alleged loans were reflected in its financial
Feeling aggrieved, the petitioner corporation appealed the above-quoted Decision of the court a statements. Petitioner corporation points out that its financial statements covering the period 1992-
quo to the appellate court where it was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 84660. On 29 November 2005, 1997 revealed that only its financial statements for the years 1992 and 1993 reflected entries of
the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision dismissing the appeal filed by the petitioner corporation "loans payable." The other financial statements following the year 1993 no longer had any entries
because it did not find any reversible error in the Decision of the RTC of Quezon City dated 28 June of outstanding loan due from the petitioner corporation. Thus, the RTC of Quezon City and the
2004. The petitioner corporation moved for the reconsideration of the said Decision but it was appellate court had no basis for claiming that the alleged loans from private respondent Sacris were
denied by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated 14 February 2005 because the issues raised reflected in its financial statements.
therein had already been passed upon by the appellate court.
Also, petitioner corporation alleges that it was grave abuse of discretion for the RTC and the
Hence, this Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65. appellate court to hold that private respondent Abillar was authorized by the petitioner corporation
to borrow money from private respondent Sacris, deliberately ignoring the provisions of the by-laws
Petitioner corporation comes before this Court alleging grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of petitioner corporation which only authorized private respondent Abillar, as President, to act as
or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the RTC of Quezon City in rendering its Decision dated 28 its signatory of negotiable instruments and contracts. The by-laws clearly authorized private
June 2004 in Civil Case No. Q01-44599, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals in its Decision and respondent Abillar to perform only the ministerial act of "signing," and never gave private
Resolution dated 29 November 2005 and 14 February 2006, respectively, in CA-G.R. CV No. 84660. respondent Abillar a blanket authority to bind the petitioner corporation in any kind of contract,
Thus, petitioner corporation now presents the following issues for this Court’s resolution: regardless of its nature and its legal consequences or effects on the petitioner corporation and its
stockholders.
I. PUBLIC RESPONDENTS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND ACTED WITHOUT
AND/OR IN EXCESS OF THEIR JURISDICTION IN HOLDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT [SACRIS’S] Lastly, petitioner corporation contends that the RTC and the Court of Appeals likewise acted with
CLAIMS OF A PURPORTED LOAN ARE SUPPORTED BY PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE. grave abuse of discretion in not awarding damages in its favor and in dismissing its Third-Party
Complaint against private respondent Abillar.
II. PUBLIC RESPONDENTS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND ACTED CONTRARY TO
LAW AND EVIDENCE IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER BENEFITED FROM THE PURPORTED LOAN On the other hand, private respondents argue that the grounds enumerated by the petitioner
FROM PRIVATE RESPONDENT [SACRIS]. corporation for the allowance of its Petition for Certiorari before this Court clearly call for the review
of the factual findings of the RTC of Quezon City. Private respondents further avow that the
III. PUBLIC RESPONDENTS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND/OR ACTED WITHOUT petitioner corporation is simply using the remedy of certiorari provided for under Rule 65 of the
AND/OR IN EXCESS OF THEIR JURISDICTION IN NOT FINDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENT Revised Rules of Civil Procedure as a substitute for an ordinary appeal. They claim that certiorari
ABILLAR WAS NOT AUTHORIZED BY PETITIONER TO BORROW MONEY FROM PRIVATE under Rule 65 of the aforesaid Rules cannot be used for the review of the findings of fact and
REPSONDENT SACRIS. evidence. Neither is it the proper remedy to cure errors in proceedings nor to correct erroneous
conclusions of law or fact. Thus, private respondents maintain that the petitioner corporation is
merely using the remedy of certiorari as a delaying tool to prevent the Decision of the RTC of Quezon the trial court in its appreciation of the evidence of the parties, or its conclusions anchored on the
City from immediately becoming final and executory. said findings and its conclusions of law.19 It is not for this Court to re-examine conflicting evidence,
re-evaluate the credibility of the witnesses or substitute the findings of fact of the court a quo.20
Likewise, private respondents aver that for failure of the petitioner corporation to allege in its
appeal before the Court of Appeals that the RTC of Quezon City committed grave abuse of Since the issues raised by the petitioner corporation in its Petition for Certiorari are mainly factual,
discretion, petitioner corporation cannot now make the said allegation in its Petition before this as it would necessitate an examination and re-evaluation of the evidence on which the RTC of
Court so as to justify its availment of the remedy of certiorari to annul the Decision of the RTC of Quezon City and the appellate court based their Decisions, the Petition should not be given due
Quezon City dated 28 June 2004. course. Thus, the remedy of certiorari will not lie to annul or reverse the Decision of the RTC of
Quezon City dated 28 June 2004, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals in its Decision and Resolution
The Petition is unmeritorious.
dated 29 November 2005 and 14 February 2006, respectively.
Petitioner corporation evidently availed itself of the wrong mode of appeal. Although petitioner
Settled is the rule that the proper remedy from an adverse decision of the Court of Appeals is an
corporation ascribes grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the
appeal under Rule 45 and not a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65.21 Hence, petitioner corporation
part of both the RTC of Quezon City and the appellate court in rendering their respective Decisions,
could have raised the Court of Appeals Decision dated 29 November 2005 and Resolution dated 14
a closer look on the grounds relied upon by the petitioner corporation in its present Petition for
February 2006, affirming the assailed Decision dated 28 June 2004 of the RTC of Quezon City, to this
Certiorari will clearly reveal that the petitioner corporation seeks a review of the factual findings
Court via an ordinary appeal under Rule 45 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. It should
and evidence of the instant case.
be emphasized that the extraordinary remedy of certiorari will not lie when there are other
It is a well-entrenched rule that this Court is not a trier of facts. 12 This Court will not pass upon the remedies available to the petitioner.22 Therefore, in availing itself of the extraordinary remedy of
findings of fact of the trial court, especially if they have been affirmed on appeal by the appellate certiorari, the petitioner corporation resorted to a wrong mode of appeal.
court.13 Unless the case falls under the recognized exceptions,14 the rule should not be disturbed.
While it is true that this Court, in accordance with the liberal spirit which pervades the Rules of Court
In the case at bar, the findings of the RTC of Quezon City as well as the appellate court are properly and in the interest of justice, may treat a Petition for Certiorari as having been filed under Rule 45,
supported by evidence on record. Both courts found that the alleged loans extended to the more so if the same was filed within the reglementary period for filing a Petition for Review,23
petitioner corporation by private respondent Sacris were reflected in the petitioner corporation’s however, in the present case, this Court finds no compelling reason to justify a liberal application of
financial statements, particularly in the years 1992-1993, were contrary to the claim of petitioner the rules, as this Court did in the case of Delsan Transport Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals.24 In the
corporation. The said financial statements of the petitioner corporation were not the sole bases said case, this Court treated the Petition for Certiorari filed by the petitioner therein as having been
used by the RTC of Quezon City and by the appellate court in its findings of liability against the filed under Rule 45, because said Petition was filed within the 15-day reglementary period for filing
petitioner corporation. The RTC of Quezon City also took into consideration the pieces of a Petition for Review on Certiorari. Petitioner’s counsel therein received the Court of Appeals
documentary evidence15 which likewise became the grounds for its findings that indeed, private Resolution denying their Motion for Reconsideration on 26 October 1993 and filed the Petition for
respondent Sacris had extended a loan to petitioner corporation, and that the same was given to Certiorari on 8 November 1993, which was within the 15-day reglementary period for filing a
private respondent Abillar, and received by the petitioner corporation. Those pieces of Petition for Review on Certiorari. It cannot therefore be claimed that the Petition was used as a
documentary evidence very well supported the claim of private respondent Sacris that the substitute for appeal after that remedy had been lost through the fault of the petitioner. 25
petitioner corporation received money from him through its former President, private respondent Conversely, such was not the situation in the present case.
Abillar. Thus, petitioner corporation cannot claim that it never consented to the act of private
In the instant case, petitioner corporation received on 23 February 2006 the Resolution of the
respondent Abillar of entering into a loan/investment transaction with private respondent Sacris,
appellate court dated 14 February 2006 denying its Motion for Reconsideration. Upon receipt of the
for there are documents that would prove that the money was received by the petitioner
said Resolution, the petitioner corporation had 15-days or until 10 March 2006 within which to file
corporation, and the latter acknowledged receipt of said money. The same pieces of evidence
an appeal by way of Petition for Review under Rule 45. Instead of doing so, they inexplicably allowed
likewise confirm the findings of the RTC of Quezon City that the petitioner corporation benefited
the 15-day period to lapse, and then on 6 April 2006 or on the 42nd day from receipt of the Resolution
from the said transaction; therefore, it should be held liable for the same amount of its unpaid
denying their Motion for Reconsideration, they filed this Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65
obligation to private respondent Sacris. As the findings of the RTC of Quezon City and the appellate
alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of both the RTC of Quezon City and the appellate
court are supported by evidence, this Court finds no reason to deviate from the heretofore cited
court. Hence, this case cannot be treated as an appeal under Rule 45, primarily because it was filed
rule.
way beyond the 15-day reglementary period within which to file the Petition for Review. Petitioner
It is a fundamental aphorism in law that a review of facts and evidence is not the province of the corporation will not be allowed to use the remedy of certiorari as a substitute for the lapsed or lost
extraordinary remedy of certiorari, which is extra ordinem - beyond the ambit of appeal.16 In remedy of appeal.26
certiorari proceedings, judicial review does not go as far as to examine and assess the evidence of
Finally, even if this case will be treated as having been filed under Rule 45, still it will be dismissed
the parties and to weigh the probative value thereof.17 It does not include an inquiry as to the
for utter lack of merit because this case does not fall under the recognized exceptions 27 wherein
correctness of the evaluation of evidence.18 Any error committed in the evaluation of evidence is
this Court is authorized to resolve factual issues.
merely an error of judgment that cannot be remedied by certiorari. An error of judgment is one
which the court may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction. An error of jurisdiction is one where WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is hereby DISMISSED. With costs against
the act complained of was issued by the court without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave petitioner.
abuse of discretion, which is tantamount to lack or in excess of jurisdiction and which error is
SO ORDERED.
correctible only by the extraordinary writ of certiorari. Certiorari will not be issued to cure errors of