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37. HDMF v. Sps. See, GR No.

170292, June 22, 2011

Facts:

Respondent-spouses Fidel and Florinda See (respondent-spouses) were the highest bidders in the extrajudicial
foreclosure sale of a property that was mortgaged to petitioner HDMF. They paid the bid price to respondent Sheriff
Manuel L. Arimado. In turn, respondent-spouses received a Certificate of Sale wherein Sheriff Arimado
acknowledged receipt of the purchase price, and an Official Receipt from Atty. Jaime S. Narvaez, the clerk of court
with whom Sheriff Arimado deposited the respondent-spouses’ payment.

Despite the expiration of the redemption period, HDMF refused to surrender its certificate of title to the respondent-
spouses because it had yet to receive the respondent-spouses’ payment from Sheriff Arimado who failed to remit the
same despite repeated demands. It turned out that Sheriff Arimado withdrew from the clerk of court the amount paid
by respondent-spouses, on the pretense that he was going to deliver the same to HDMF. The money never reached
HDMF and was spent by Sheriff Arimado for his personal use. Considering HDMF’s refusal to recognize their
payment, respondent-spouses filed a complaint for specific performance.

HDMF admitted the factual allegations of the respondent-spouses but maintained that respondent-spouses had no
cause of action against it. HDMF insisted that it has no duty to deliver the certificate of title to respondent-spouses
unless HDMF actually receives the bid price.

When the case was called for pre-trial conference, the parties entered into a Compromise Agreement that in the event
that Arimado fails to pay HDMF or respondent-spouses the amount of ₱272,000.00 on October 31, 2001, the Court,
upon motion of [respondent-spouses], may issue the necessary writ of execution.

None of the parties sought a reconsideration of the RTC Decision. When Sheriff Arimado failed to meet his
undertaking to pay on or before October 31, 2001, the trial court proceeded to rule on the issue of whether HDMF is
liable to release the title to respondent-spouses despite non-receipt of their payment.

The trial court rendered its Decision dated February 21, 2002 in favor of respondent-spouses and ordered HDMF to
deliver the documents of ownership to the respondent-spouses.

HDMF filed a motion for reconsideration which the trial court denied.

HDMF filed before the CA a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 in order to annul and set aside the February 21,
2002 Decision of the trial court.

CA denied the petition.

Petitioner argues that the CA erred in denying due course to its petition for certiorari and maintains that the remedy
of certiorari is proper for two reasons: first, the trial court rendered its February 21, 2002 Decision without the benefit
of a trial; and second, the February 21, 2002 Decision modified the October 31, 2001 Decision, which has already
attained finality. These are allegedly two recognized instances where certiorari lies to annul the trial court’s Decision
because of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.

Issue:

Whether certiorari was the proper remedy.

Ruling:

The argument does not impress.

"Certiorari is a limited form of review and is a remedy of last recourse." It is proper only when appeal is not available
to the aggrieved party. In the case at bar, the February 21, 2002 Decision of the trial court was appealable under Rule
41 of the Rules of Court because it completely disposed of respondent-spouses’ case against HDMF. HDMF does not
explain why it did not resort to an appeal and allowed the trial court’s decision to attain finality. In fact, the February
21, 2002 Decision was already at the stage of execution when HDMF belatedly resorted to a Rule 65 Petition for
Certiorari. Clearly, HDMF lost its right to appeal and tried to remedy the situation by resorting to certiorari. It is
settled, however, that certiorari is not a substitute for a lost appeal, "especially if the party’s own negligence or error
in [the] choice of remedy occasioned such loss or lapse."

Moreover, even assuming arguendo that a Rule 65 certiorari could still be resorted to, HDMF’s petition would still
have to be dismissed for having been filed beyond the reglementary period of 60 days from notice of the denial of the
motion for reconsideration. HDMF admitted receiving the trial court’s Order denying its Motion for Reconsideration
on March 22, 2002; it thus had until May 21, 2002 to file its petition for certiorari. However, Pagibig filed its petition
only on May 24, 2002, which was the 63rd day from its receipt of the trial court’s order and obviously beyond the
reglementary 60-day period.

HDMF stated that its petition for certiorari was filed "within sixty (60) days from receipt of the copy of the writ of
execution by petitioner [HDMF] on 07 May 2002," which writ sought to enforce the Decision assailed in the petition.
This submission is beside the point. Rule 65, Section 4 is very clear that the reglementary 60-day period is counted
"from notice of the judgment, order or resolution" being assailed, or "from notice of the denial of the motion [for
reconsideration]," and not from receipt of the writ of execution which seeks to enforce the assailed judgment, order or
resolution. The date of HDMF’s receipt of the copy of the writ of execution is therefore immaterial for purposes of
computing the timeliness of the filing of the petition for certiorari.
38. Jose v. Suarez

Case Doctrines:
● The validity or invalidity of the interest rate is not determinative of the guilt of respondents in the criminal cases. The
cause or reason for the issuance of a check is inconsequential in determining criminal culpability under B.P. Blg. 22.
What the law punishes is the issuance of a bouncing check, which is a malum prohibitum, and not the purpose for
which it was issued or the terms and conditions relating to its issuance.

● Filing a Motion for Writ of Preliminary Injunction with Temporary Restraining Order with the RTC after a Motion
to Suspend Proceedings was denied by the MTC constitute forum shopping. Forum shopping is the act of one party
against another, when an adverse judgment has been rendered in one forum, of seeking another and possibly favorable
opinion in another forum other than by appeal or by special civil action of certiorari.

Facts: Spouses Laureano and Purita Suarez, had availed of Carolina Jose’s (Carolina) offer to lend money at the daily
interest rate of 1% to 2% which was later on increased to 5% per day. Respondents were forced to accept because they
allegedly had no other option left. Purita would then issue checks in favor of petitioners in payment of the amount
borrowed from them with the agreed 5% daily interest.

In 2004, Sps. Suarez filed a Complaint against Jose seeking to nullify the 5% interest per day, alleging that same is
iniquitous, contrary to morals, done under vitiated consent and imposed using undue influence by taking improper
advantage of their financial distress.

Thereafter, Jose filed several cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 against respondent Purita before the MTCC.

Purita, in turn filed motions to suspend the criminal proceedings on the ground of prejudicial question. Respondents
claimed that if the 5% interest per month is nullified and loans are computed at 1% per month, it would mean that the
checks subject of the B.P. Blg. 22 cases are not only fully paid but are also in fact overpaid.

The motion to suspend was denied. Hence, Sps. Suarez filed before the RTC a “Motion for Writ of Preliminary
Injunction with Temporary Restraining Order” seeking to restrain the MTCCs from further proceeding with the B.P.
Blg. 22 cases on the ground of prejudicial question. The RTC granted the motion. CA affirmed. Hence, petitioners
appealed.

Issues:

1. Whether or not a prejudicial question exists such that the outcome of the validity of the interest rate is
determinative of the guilt or innocence of the respondent spouses in the criminal case.
2. Whether or not respondent spouses are guilty of forum shopping.

Held:

1. No. There is none.

A prejudicial question has two essential elements: (i) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related
to the issue raised in the criminal action; and (ii) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal
action may proceed.

The validity or invalidity of the interest rate is not determinative of the guilt of respondents in the criminal cases. The
cause or reason for the issuance of a check is inconsequential in determining criminal culpability under B.P. Blg. 22.
What the law punishes is the issuance of a bouncing check, which is a malum prohibitum, and not the purpose for
which it was issued or the terms and conditions relating to its issuance.

Thus, whether or not the interest rate imposed by petitioners is eventually declared void for being contra bonos mores
will not affect the outcome of the B.P. Blg. 22 cases because what will ultimately be penalized is the mere issuance
of bouncing checks. The primordial question is whether the law has been breached, that is, if a bouncing check has
been issued.

2. Yes. There is forum shopping when a party seeks to obtain remedies in an action in one court, which had already
been solicited, and in other courts and other proceedings in other tribunals. Forum shopping is the act of one party
against another, when an adverse judgment has been rendered in one forum, of seeking another and possibly favorable
opinion in another forum other than by appeal or by special civil action of certiorari; or the institution of two or more
acts or proceedings grounded on the same cause on the supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable
disposition.

Respondents filed their motions to suspend proceedings in the MTCCs hearing the B.P. Blg. 22 cases but
unfortunately, the same were denied. Failing to get the relief they wanted, respondents sought before the RTC, the
suspension of the criminal proceedings which was granted. Respondents tried to extricate themselves from the charge
of forum shopping by explaining that after the denial of their motions to suspend, their only remedy was the application
for preliminary injunction in the civil case—a relief which they had already asked for in their complaint and which
was also initially not granted to them. Any which way the situation is viewed, respondents’ acts constituted forum
shopping since they sought a possibly favorable opinion from one court after another had issued an order unfavorable
to them.
39. AUZA JR. VS MOL PHILIPPINES (GR NO. 175481 NOVEMBER 21, 2012)

Facts:
The petitioners filed an illegal dismissal case against the respondent before the LA. Subsequently, they filed their
position papers. They averred in said pleading that their consent to resign was not voluntarily given but was instead
obtained through mistake and fraud. They claimed that they were led to believe that MOL’s Cebu branch would be
downsized into a mere skeletal force due to alleged low productivity and profitability volume. Pressured into resigning
prior to the branch’s closure as they might be denied separation pay, petitioners were constrained to resign.

Petitioners also filed a Supplemental Position Paper to show an itemized computation of backwages due them and to
further reiterate that their signatures in the resignation letters and quitclaims were conditioned upon respondents’
misrepresentation that the Cebu office will eventually be manned by a skeletal force, which, however, did not take
place.

Respondents filed a Motion to Expunge and/or Strike Out Position Paper for Complainants. They pointed out the
belated filing of petitioners’ Position Paper and the lack of authority of Atty. Cañete to file and sign the same, among
others. The Labor Arbiter granted the Motion ratiocinating that a Position Paper must be filed within the inextendible
10-day period as provided under Section 4, Rule V of the NLRC Rules of Procedure. In this case, petitioners’ counsel
of record, Atty. Boiser, received on June 22, 2004 the May 26, 2004 Order requiring the parties to file position papers
within 10 days from receipt thereof. However, petitioners were only able to file their Position Paper on August 11,
2004, way beyond the said 10-day period. And for being filed late, said pleading must be stricken off the records.
Consequently, the Labor Arbiter dismissed the Complaints without prejudice for failure to prosecute pursuant to
Section 3, Rule 17 of the Rules of Court.

Petitioners appealed to the NLRC claiming that the Labor Arbiter defied judicial pronouncements that the failure to
submit a Position Paper on time is not a ground for dismissing a complaint.

NLRC set aside the decision of LA. It held that the 10-day period given to petitioners for filing their Position Paper
should be reckoned from Atty. Cañete’s receipt on August 9, 2004 of the July 29, 2004 Order of the Labor Arbiter.
The filing, therefore, of petitioners’ Position Paper on August 11, 2004 is well within the allowed period, hence, there
was no basis in dismissing the Complaints for failure to prosecute.

The CA rendered its Decision annulling and setting aside the Decision of the NLRC. The CA did not find any element
of coercion and force in petitioners’ separation from employment but rather upheld the voluntary execution of their
resignation letters as gleaned from the tenor thereof. It opined that petitioners were aware of the consequences of their
acts in voluntarily resigning and executing quitclaims. Notably, however, the CA did not touch upon the issue raised
by respondents regarding the NLRC’s lack of jurisdiction.

Issue:
Whether the NLRC has the jurisdiction to entertain the petitioner’s appeal filed before it.

Ruling:
The NLRC has jurisdiction to entertain petitioners’ appeal filed before it. To settle the issue of the NLRC’s jurisdiction
over petitioners’ appeal, we quote in part Article 223 of the Labor Code concerning the appellate jurisdiction of the
NLRC:
“ART. 223. APPEAL. Decisions, awards, or orders of the Labor Arbiter are final and executory unless
appealed to the Commission by any or both parties within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of such
decisions, awards, or orders. Such appeal may be entertained only on any of the following grounds:

(a) If there is prima facie evidence of abuse of discretion on the part of the Labor Arbiter;
xxxx“

and Section 2, Rule VI of the NLRC Rules of Procedure which provides:


“Section 2. Grounds. – The appeal may be entertained only on any of the following grounds:

(a) If there is prima facie evidence of abuse of discretion on the part of the Labor Arbiter x x x;”
Clearly, the NLRC is possessed of power to rectify any abuse of discretion committed by the Labor Arbiter. Here, the
NLRC, in taking cognizance of petitioners’ appeal and in resolving it on the merits, merely exercised such power.
This is because the Labor Arbiter, in not admitting petitioners’ Position Paper (albeit filed late) and in dismissing
petitioners’ Complaints for failure to prosecute, acted with grave abuse of discretion as hereinafter explained.

First, "the failure to submit a Position Paper on time is not a ground for striking out the paper from the records, much
less for dismissing a complaint in the case of the complainant." As mandated by law, the Labor Arbiter is enjoined "to
use every reasonable means to ascertain the facts of each case speedily and objectively, without technicalities of law
or procedure, all in the interest of due process."

Next, the Labor Arbiter committed grave error in dismissing the Complaints on the ground of failure to prosecute
under Section 3, Rule 17 of the Rules of Court.41 Under this rule, a case may be dismissed on the ground of non-
prosequitur, if, under the circumstances, the "plaintiff is chargeable with want of due diligence in failing to proceed
with reasonable promptitude." In the case at bench, no negligence can be attributed to petitioners in pursuing their
case. The records show that petitioners themselves wrote the Labor Arbiter on July 7, 2004 to request for additional
time to submit a Position Paper since their counsel, Atty. Boiser, was frequently out of town and so they had to secure
the services of an additional counsel to prepare and file their Position Paper. Unfortunately, the Labor Arbiter refused
to recognize the appearance of their new counsel, Atty. Cañete. Under the circumstances, petitioners should be given
consideration for their vigilance in pursuing their causes. As aptly held by the NLRC, the delay in the filing of their
Position Paper cannot be interpreted as failure to prosecute on their part. "Failure to prosecute" is akin to lack of
interest. Here, petitioners did not sleep on their rights and obligations as party litigants.

In view of these, it is clear that the NLRC did not err in entertaining petitioners’ appeal and in considering their
Position Paper in resolving the same. It merely liberally applied the rules to prevent a miscarriage of justice in accord
with the provisions of the Labor Code. As it is, "technicality should not be allowed to stand in the way of equitably
and completely resolving the rights and obligations of the parties."
40. LBP v. Onate, GR No. 192371, January 15, 2014

Fact:
Land Bank is a government financial institution created under Republic Act No. 3844.7 From 1978 to 1980, Oñate
opened and maintained seven trust accounts with Land Bank. Each trust account was covered by an Investment
Management Account (IMA) with Full Discretion and has a corresponding passbook where deposits and withdrawals
were recorded.