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G.R. No.

L-30887 December 24, 1971 who are also plaintiffs-appellants in L-29754, claim that the factual background of
these two cases now before US, is as follows:
FELIPE RAYMUNDO, CESAR OBLIGACION, and PEDRO GARCIA, who
died during the pendency of their appeal in the Honorable Court of Appeals, xxx xxx xxx
succeeded by his widow, TRINIDAD ALTESA and his children AMBROCIO,
ENGRACIA, RUFINA, AMPARO, DOMINADOR and PABLO, all surnamed Lot 3 is owned possessed, and occupied by the defendant Felipe
GARCIA, petitioners-appellants, Raymundo who is paying taxes thereon while Lot 2, same block,
vs. belongs to the defendant Pedro Garcia. Both defendants have their
FELICIANO FELIPE, respondent-appellee. respective houses thereon and have been living and residing
therein for more than thirty (30) years each.
G.R. No. L-29754 December 24, 1971
xxx xxx xxx
FELIPE RAYMUNDO, PEDRO GARCIA and CRISPULO FELIPE, plaintiffs-
appellants, Before the last World War, the Filipino employees of the San
Francisco del Monte, Inc. organized fromexclusively among
vs. themselves a mutual aid association which they named "Tiyaga at
Pagtitipid." The plaintiff and the two defendants abovenamed were
FELICIANO FELIPE, FAUSTINA CONTRERAS, ANA SALONGA, among the members of that association.
ERNESTO SALONGA, GABRIEL DIONISIO, ARTURO S. FELIPE,
MATIAS SANTOS, AMBROCIO R. CRUZ, CONRADO FAUSTINO, xxx xxx xxx
ALFREDO C. VILLANUEVA, SIMEON B. SAMSON, BRIGIDA V.
SAMSON, and SAN FRANCISCO DEL MONTE, INC., defendants-appellees. With its funds, the association purchased lots from the San
Francisco del Monte, Inc. for resale to its members on the
L-30887 installment plan. Among the lots acquired by the said association
are the two now in question. In turn, Lot 3 was purchased from the
A. D. Dasalla for petitioners-appellants. association by the herein defendant Felipe Raymundo while Lot 2
was bought by the defendant Pedro Garcia. Both were able to
complete paying their respective lots before the aforesaid World
C. de los Santos for respondent-appellee.
War broke out. Not long after completing payments, the said war
begun.
L-29754
xxx xxx xxx
A. D. Dasalla for plaintiffs-appellants.
This state of facts was known to the plaintiff Feliciano Felipe. He
C. de los Santos for defendants-appellees Feliciano Felipe et al. knew the defendants very well as they have been neighbors in San
Francisco del Monte since boyhood; they had been co-workers in
Feria, Feria, Lugtu & La'O for defendant-appellee San Francisco del Monte, Inc. San Francisco del Monte Subdivision and they have been co-
members in the association "Tiyaga at Pagtitipid". He knew also
very well the two lots in question; he knew that the said lots have
been purchased and fully paid for by the defendants. But he knew
MAKASIAR, J.: very well too that the said defendants have not as yet acquired their
respective certificates of title over their respective lots.
In their brief which is partly quoted in the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA
G.R. No. 35640-R, (pp. 39-43, rec. of L-30887), petitioners-appellants in L-30887,
His knowledge of all these facts nurtured in him a selfish desire to acquire edge of the institution and prosecution of the said action
appropriate the said lots for his own benefit. He devised fraudulent until they have been brought to Court in the present case; they
means to accomplish his knave purpose. How did he do it? were thus never in a position to protect their respective rights in
that action;
For Lot 3, Block 159, which belongs to the defendant Felipe
Raymundo, the plaintiff-appellee employed the following devise: The decision rendered in the said case ordered the defendant
therein, San Francisco del Monte, Inc. to convey Lot 3, Block 159
He gathered a group of his close relatives and friends, such as his to the plaintiff Feliciano Felipe and Lot 2, same block, to the
own wife Faustina Contreras, his sister Ana Salonga, brother-in- plaintiff Alfredo G. Villanueva, the dispositive portion of the
law Ernesto Salonga, his nephews and trusted friend who willingly decision reading as follows: (N.B. — this decision was rendered on
connived with him and all of them made it appear in public March 14, 1963; p. 6, Petition for Review)
instrument denominated "Deed of Quitclaim" that the were all pre-
war members — even if they were not — of the association WHEREFORE, this Court finding that all the
"Tiyaga at Pagtitipid" and in that instrument they allegedly material allegations of the complaint have been
quitclaimed to and in favor of the plaintiff Felicia Felipe their substantiated, hereby orders the defendant (a) to
supposed rights, interests, and participation in the said Lot 3, Block execute the necessary final deeds of sale for Lot
159. No. 20, Block 82, and Lot No. 3, Block 159, of
the San Francisco del Monte Subdivision for the
xxx xxx xxx consideration of 1 peso per square meter leading
to the issuance of separate titles in favor of
plaintiff Feliciano Felipe ... (b) another final
For Lot 2, Block 159, which belongs to the defendant Pedro
deed of sale and title for the same consideration
Garcia, the herein plaintiff contrived a different cunning scheme as
of 1 peso per square meter for Lot No. 2, Block
follows: In another public instrument captioned "Deed
Assignment" the said plaintiff allegedly as President of the 159, in favor of plaintiff Alfredo G. Villanueva,
married to Pura C. Villanueva, 2226-A Narra,
association "Tiyaga at Pagtitipid" allegedly assigned to his willing
Manila upon payment of the amount of P25.00
tool Alfredo G. Villanueva, the said Lot 2, Block 159.
for each lot and without pronouncement as to
costs.
xxx xxx xxx
The required deeds of conveyance were executed by the defendant
Armed with the "Deed of Assignment" and the "Deed Quitclaim", San Francisco del Monte, Inc., as ordered in the decision. Pursuant
Feliciano Felipe and Alfredo G. Villanueva, as to the said deeds, the Register of Deeds for Quezon City issued
plaintiffs, instituted in the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Quezon Transfer Certificate of Title No: 68207 to Feliciano Felipe for Lot
City Branch IV) an action for specific performance, docketed 3, Block 159, and Transfer Certificate of Title No. 68296 to
as Civil Case No. Q-6882, of the said Court, against the San Alfredo G. Villanueva for Lot 2, same block.
Francisco del Monte, Inc., wherein the title to the two lots in
question then still resided, to compel the said corporation to
Feliciano Felipe then mortgaged Lot 3, Block 159, to the Rural
convey to the first (Feliciano Felipe) Lot 3, Block 159; and to the
Bank of San Juan, Rizal for P3,500.00, which mortgage is still in
second (Alfredo G. Villanueva) Lot 2, the same block;
full force and effect to this day;
The defendants in the present ease, Felipe Raymundo and Pedro
Felipe's tool, Alfredo G. Villanueva, transferred back to the said
Garcia owners, of Lots 3 and 2, respectively, were not parties in
Felipe Lot 2, Block 159 and the Register of Deeds for Quezon City
that action despite the fact that the plaintiff therein well knew that
issued Transfer Certificate No. 70981 for the said lot, in the name
those lots are owned by the said Raymundo and Garcia and knew
well that they have been in possession of their respective lots for of the said Feliciano Felipe, who, in turn sold same to the spouses
more than 30 years already to the present; nor did these two ever Simeon B. Samson and Brigida V. Samson who bought the same
from Felipe even if they knew that the said lot belongs to the of lot no. 2, attaching to said motion a true copy the deed of sale of August 15, 1963,
herein defendant Pedro Garcia who is in possession of the same for executed by vendors spouses Feliciano Felipe and Faustina Contreras in favor of
over thirty years already; vendees-spouses Simeon Samson and Brigida Samson (pp. 12-19, rec. on appeal).

Then after the lapse of 104 days from the sale of Lot 2, Block 159 On July 6, 1964, the defendants' two motions hereinabove mentioned were both
to the spouses Samsons, Feliciano Felipe, who was no longer the orally and simultaneously denied, the trial court ruling that the certificates of title
owner of the said Lot 2, if the sale to the Samsons were genuine being relied upon by the plaintiff cannot be attacked collaterally but only by means
and true, nevertheless, instituted the present action for the recovery of a separate action to that effect. The court directed that the trial proceed at that very
of the possession of the said lot from the herein defendant Pedro moment as scheduled, and a subsequent motion for reconsideration of the ruling met
Garcia, on the theory that he is still the owner of the said Lot 2, ... the same fate. As trial could not be finished that day, continuance thereof was set for
(pp. 11-29, Brief of Defendants-Appellants in CA G.R. No. 35640; the next day, July 7, 1964, despite defendants' plea for postponement of the trial to a
p. 28, rec., L-30887, emphasis supplied). later date to afford them time to file a separate action for annulment of title or
reconveyance as ruled (pp. 19-20, rec. on appeal).
G.R. No. L-30887
On July 7, 1964, defendants instituted their separate action, Civil Case No. Q-8114
This is a petition for review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. No. of the same court, for annulment of title or reconveyance of the lots in question.
35640-R, affirming in toto the decision rendered by the Court of First Instance Of When the continuation of the hearing of Civil Case No. Q-7668 was called that
Rizal (Quezon City Branch IV) in Civil Case No. Q-7668. morning, defendants moved that said hearing be held in abeyance, to be consolidated
with the action just instituted. This motion for consolidation of trial was denied, trial
proceeded as scheduled, and was continued on July 8, 1964, when said trial was
After securing titles in his name pursuant to the decision of the trial judge of Branch
terminated and Civil Case No. 7668 was submitted for decision (p. 20, rec. on
IV of the Quezon City Court First Instance as above intimated, respondent-appellee
appeal).
defendant-appellee Feliciano Felipe filed on November 27, 1963 a complaint for the
recovery of possession (accion publiciana of two parcels of land with the Court of
First Instance of Rizal, Quezon City Branch IV (Civil Case Q-7668), and prayed, On July 20, 1964, defendants filed a motion to hold the instant case in abeyance until
among others, that herein petitioner appellants (defendants in the lower court), who after the action for annulment or reconveyance should have been terminated and
have been illegally occupying since 1953 and 1955, be ordered to vacate, Lots Nos. 2 disposed of, alleging that "... there is therefore that necessity ... because, should the
and 3, Block 159, San Francisco Subdivision, covered by transfer certificates of title defendants be now ordered to vacate the premises in question but will later succeed
nos. 70981 and 68207, respectively, of the Office of the Register Deeds of Quezon in annulling plaintiff's title or in having the lots reconveyed to them, irreparable
City (pp. 1-5, rec. on appeal). injuries would have been unnecessarily inflicted upon them ..." (pp. 21-23, rec. on
appeal).
On December 19, 1963, defendants filed their answer denying the material
allegations of the complaint, and alleging that they are the true owners of the lots On July 25, 1964, plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion to hold in abeyance,
respectively occupied by them (lot No. 2 by defendant Pedro Garcia and lot No. 3 by alleging that said motion is merely dilatory, that the claim of defendants over the lots
defendant Felipe Raymundo), having bought the same from "Tiyaga at Pagtitipid," in question is without any legal or factual basis, and that it is contrary to the
its former owner, and that in 1963 they entered into the possession of the same constitutional precept of speedy administration registration of justice (pp. 24-31, rec.
peacefully and with the full knowledge and consent of "Tiyaga at Pagtitipid" (pp. 6- on appeal).
8, rec. on appeal).
On July 27, 1964, defendants filed their rejoinder plaintiff's opposition to their
On July 3, 1964, defendants filed a motion for leave amend their answer alleging that motion to hold in abeyance (pp. 31-26, rec. on appeal).
plaintiff perpetrated fraud in securing the certificates of title covering said lots, and
as the answer does not allege the fraud with suffice fullness and particularity, said On August 12, 1964, defendants filed a motion to drop defendant Pedro Garcia from
answer needs to be amended. the case on the ground plaintiff does not have any cause of action against him
because plaintiff had already sold lot No. 2 and, consequently that cannot be
Also on the same day, July 3, 1964, defendant Pedro Garcia filed a motion for leave prejudiced anymore by the possession of said lot by defendant Pedro Garcia (pp. 36-
to file a third-party complaint against one Simeon B. Samson as a buyer in bad faith 37, rec. on appeal; Exhibit D).
Finally, on October 18, 1964, the trial court rendered the following decision: ordering the aforesaid defendants to pay such to the plaintiff the
sum of P20.00 per month by way of rentals from the date of their
xxx xxx xxx respective occupation above-fated until the plaintiff is restored to
the possession thereof, plus the amount of P500.00 as attorney's
fees, and to pay the costs ... . (pp. 39-42, rec. on appeal.)
The defense interposed by the defendants, particularly Felipe
Raymundo and Pedro Garcia, is that they, on the contrary and not
the plaintiff, are the respective owners of Lots 3 and 2 of the San Defendants appealed to the Court of Appeals, and contended, among sixteen (16)
Francisco del Monte Subdivision, having been purchased from the errors assigned, that the trial court erred in not declaring them to be the true owners
mutual loan and savings association "Tiyaga at Pagtitipid" of the disputed lots and "in turning down the repeated requests of the defendants-
composed exclusively of employees of the said Francisco del appellants for the suspension of the proceedings in the present case in order to
Monte Subdivision, and to this effect they exhibited the receipts consolidate the trial thereof with that of Civil Case No. Q-8114 of the same court for
for installment payment (Exhs. 1, 1-A and 1-B) issued by "Tiyaga the annulment of plaintiff's title over the lots in question, or for reconveyance, the
at Pagtitipid" in favor of defendant Felipe Raymundo as well as the parties and the subject matter in both cases being the same"
tax declaration and a certificate of tax payment of Lot 3; that said
defendants have been in possession openly, continuously and in In its decision of May 22, 1969, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the
concept of owner for more than 30 years, and that all these fact trial court in toto thus:
were known to the plaintiff as he was their co-employee in the
"Tiyaga at Pagtitipid", reason which they were never asked by him xxx xxx xxx
to vacate the premises in question until he filed the present action.
From the aforesaid decision, defendants appealed to this Court
This being an ejectment case, the Court believes and so hold, that assigning several errors. One of the error raises the issue as to
the only question to be determined is whether the plaintiff is the whether or not the lower court was right in turning down the
registered owner of the lots under litigation whether the defendants repeated requests of the defendants-appellants for the suspension
unlawfully entered into possession of said lots. While on one hand, of the proceedings in the present case in order to consolidate with
the plaintiff presented Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 70981 it the trial of Civil Case No. Q-8114 for the annulment of plaintiff's
and 68207, which shows that he is the absolute owner of the land title over the lots in question, or for reconveyance.
in litigation, the defendants on their part failed to introduce any
evidence or document with color of title. The possession of the Essentially the present case is one of ejectment. And so the only
plaintiff is an attribute ownership, and the contention of the issue here is whether the plaintiff is the registered owner of the lots
defendants that they purchased said lots from "Tiyaga at
in litigation and whether the defendants unlawfully, entered into
Pagtitipid" without having been issued any valid title to the
the possession of said lots. Plaintiff's ownership of the lots in
property, cannot in any way operate to legalize the occupation and
dispute is amply proven by Transfer Certificate Title Nos. 70981
enjoyment thereafter of the premises by said defendants who are
and 68207 of the Office of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City.
mere intruders in the land. Hence, conformably with an owner's Defendants have nothing to offer and show any color of title on
right to possess his property, plaintiff, as the registered owner, has their part over the disputed lots. They claim they have purchased
the right to possess and enjoy subject land to the exclusion of the
said lots from the mutual loan and savings association known as
defendants. Their efforts to amend the answer to allege that said
"Tiyaga at Pagtitipid" but they could not present any Deed of Sale
titles were obtained thru fraud, cannot be brought up as an issue in
in their favor. All they have shown to the court are the supposed
the present case, this being a mere action for ejectment. That issue
receipts for installment payment (Exhs. 1, 1-A and 1-B) issued by
would be brought in an independent action. the "Tiyaga at Pagtitipid" in favor of the defendant Felipe
Raymundo and the tax declarations and certificate of payment of
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the tax for Lot No. 3. All these documents are hopelessly inadequate to
plaintiff and against the defendants Felipe Raymundo, Cesar defeat the title and right of ownership of plaintiff over the lots
Obligacion and Pedro Garcia, and all persons claiming under them, under litigation as evidenced by his certificates of title over the
ordering said defendants to vacate their respective lots in question disputed lots. As registered owner of the same their right to the
and to remove their houses and other construction therefrom;
possession and enjoyment of the property to the exclusion of all plaintiff-appellee has every right to institute the present action for
other persons cannot be questioned. And so even the claim of ejectment against whoever occupies the lot he said to Simeon B.
defendants that they have been in possession of the lots for a Samson and his wife. The lower court therefore committed no
period of (30) years will prove unavailing to the title of ownership error in not allowing defendant Pedro Garcia to be dropped from
plaintiff over the lots in dispute. (Barcelona vs. Barcelona, 53 O.G. the action of the plaintiff ... (pp. 12-16 and 20-24, rec., L-30887).
No. 2, 373.) For by express provision of Sec. 46 of Act No. 496 no
title to register land in derogation to that of the registered owner Hence, this present appeal by certiorari to this Court.
can be acquired by prescription or adverse possession.
(Corporacion de PP. Recoleto vs. Crisostomo, 32 Phil., 427.) It G.R. No. L-29754
was therefore no mistake for the lower court to rule out defendants'
claim that their possession of the property for over 30 years has
ripened into title of ownership over the said lots. This is an appeal from the order dated June 22, 1967 of the Court of First Instance of
Rizal (Quezon City Branch IX) dismissing the complaint of herein plaintiffs-
appellants in Civil Case No. Q-8114.
But defendants-appellants want to dispute the title of plaintiff-
appellee on the ground of fraud. Note must be taken of the manner
by which the latter acquired his title over the lots under litigation. As heretofore stated, a complaint for annulment of title or reconveyance was filed by
In their own brief, defendants-appellants narrated: (as quoted on herein appellants (plaintiffs in the lower court) Felipe Raymundo and Pedro Garcia
pp. 1-5 hereof) ... From defendants-appellants' own brief we can against herein appellee (defendant in the lower court) Feliciano Felipe on July 7,
gather that plaintiff-appellee's acquisition of the lots in question 1964, which was assigned to Branch IX (pp. 1-9, rec. on appeal).
was pursuant to a judicial decision. If there was anything irregular
or illegal in the manner by which plaintiff-appellee was able to On August 8, 1964, defendant Feliciano Felipe, on the ground that the complaint
acquire said lots defendants-appellants should have ventilated the states no cause of action, filed a motion to dismiss the same (pp. 10-11, rec. on
matter with the court in the same proceedings. It is too late for appeal). An opposition thereto was interposed by plaintiffs on August 15, 1964 (pp.
them now to question the decision of the court ordering the San 12-13, rec. on appeal), and on September 28, 1964, the trial court issued an order
Francisco del Monte, Inc. the former owner of the lots in question, denying said motion to dismiss (p. 13, rec. on appeal).
to convey lot 3, Block 159 to the plaintiff-appellee and Lot 2 of the
same Block to one Alfredo G. Villanueva. Even on the ground of Defendant Feliciano Felipe filed his answer on October 3, 1964 (pp. 14-16, rec. on
fraud, they a given a limited period within which to attack the appeal), denying the material allegations of the complaint and asserting that his
judgment which defendants-appellants did not take advantage of. certificates of title over the lots in question were not secured through fraud but
We are not a bit surprised therefore that the lower court refused to pursuant to court order.
allow defendants-appellants to amend their answer to the plaintiff
appellee's complaint so as to seek the annulment of the title of the On February 2, 1965, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint (pp. 16-40, rec. on
latter to the lots in question. appeal), alleging that they are the true and lawful owners of their respective lots,
having acquired the same from the San Francisco del Monte, Inc., the registered
Defendants-appellants also blame the lower court for denying the owner thereof, through their pre-war mutual savings and loan association "Tiyaga at
motion of defendant-appellant Pedro Garcia to be dropped from Pagtitipid", as evidenced by various receipts issued in their favor by said association;
the action. He claims that no cause of action exists against him that defendant Feliciano Felipe obtained certificates of title covering said lots in his
anymore because the plaintiff-appellee had no more title over Lot own name by two false quit-claim deeds as evidence in obtaining a favorable
No. 2 at the time he instituted the present action. An examination decision in Civil Case No. Q-6882 of the Court First Instance of Rizal, entitled
of the Deed of Sale of Lot 2, Block 159 in favor of Simeon B. "Feliciano Felipe and Alfredo Villanueva vs. San Francisco del Monte, Inc.", an
Samson and his wife show that plaintiff-appellee warrants that the action to compel the latter to convey lot No. 3 to Felipe a lot No. 2 to Villanueva;
lot is free from all liens and encumbrances, and guarantees the free that afterwards, Alfredo Villanueva transferred back lot Not. 2 to Felipe, who in turn
and peaceful possession of the same by the vendees. He even sold the same to the spouses Simeon and Brigida Samson; and that they were not
agreed to bear the expenses for the ejectment, removal, and made parties and were therefore unaware of and cannot be bound by said Civil Case
demolition of any construction whatsoever on the lot, including the No. Q-6882.
expenses and costs of litigation. With the above-warranty, the
On March 27, 1965, defendant Alfredo Villanueva filed his answer denying the judgment by the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, Branch IV
material allegations of the complaint and praying for the dismissal of the same (pp. requiring and ordering the San Francisco del Monte, Inc. to
41-45, rec. on appeal). transfer the property to Feliciano Felipe, and that in consonance
therewith the San Francisco del Monte, Inc. executed a deed of
On March 31, 1965, defendants Simeon and Brigida Samson filed their answer, sale, as a result of which a TCT was issued in the names of
likewise denying the material delegations of the complaint, and alleging that no Feliciano Felipe and Alfredo Villanueva. It is also manifested now
cause of action exists against them (pp. 45-48, rec. on appeal). that after the title was issued in the names of these two persons,
both of whom are now defendants in this case, Feliciano Felipe
On April 3, 1965, defendant San Francisco del Monte, Inc. filed a motion to dismiss, filed a suit of recovery of possession against herein plaintiffs who
were then and still are in possession of the land; that a decision
alleging that the complain states no cause of action against it, and the alleged cause
was rendered in favor of Felipe, and that Felipe Raymundo and the
of action is barred by the statute of limitations (pp. 48-54, rec. on appeal).
other defendants in that case have appealed to the Court of
Appeals, and that this appeal is still pending.
On April 5, 1965, defendant Conrado Faustino filed his answer denying the material
allegations of the complain and his alleged complicity with defendant Feliciano
In view of these circumstances and facts about which all of the
Felipe in consummating the alleged fraud (pp. 54-62, rec. appeal).
parties are agreed, the Court feels that it has no jurisdiction to hear
this case it having been decided not only once but twice, by a court
On April 8, 1965, plaintiffs filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss interposed of equal jurisdiction and it being at present the subject of an appeal
by defendant San Francisco del Monte, Inc. (pp. 62-65, rec. on appeal). The trial (pp. 71-73, rec. on appeal).
court denied said motion in an order dated July 10, 1965 (pp. 65-66, rec. on appeal).
A motion for reconsideration of the aforesaid order filed by plaintiffs on August 7,
On August 18, 1965, defendant San Francisco del Monte Inc. filed its answer, 1967, was denied by the trial court in an order dated December 8, 1967 (pp. 73-91,
alleging affirmative and special defenses, and stating, among other things, that "even rec. on appeal).
before the Pacific War, in 1934, the said lots were already sold to, and fully paid by,
the "Tiyaga at Pagtitipid" (pp., 66-69, rec. on appeal).
Hence, this present appeal direct to this Court.
On January 26, 1966, plaintiffs filed a motion to declare defendants Faustina
1. The trial judge in Civil Case No. Q-7668 grossly exceeded his authority when he
Contreras, Ana Salonga, Ernesto Salonga, Matias Santos, Ambrocio Cruz, and
Gabriel Dionisio in default for having failed to answer within the reglamentary denied the motion of the petitioners or the plaintiffs-appellants to amend their answer
in said case for recovery of possession (accion publiciana) in order to allege with
period. Accordingly, said defendants were declared in default in an order of the trial
particularity and precision the defense of fraud in addition to their claim of
court dated January 28, 1966 (pp. 70-71, rec. on appeal).
ownership over the two lots in question. These defenses of ownership and fraud are
compulsory counter-claims against the pretension of respondent or defendant-
Then on June 22, 1967, after a pre-trial but without any trial on the merits, the trial appellee Feliciano Felipe that he owns the two disputed lots as the basis of his right
court issued an order dismissing the complaint, thus: to recover possession (Gojo vs. Goyala et al., L-26768, Oct. 30, 1970, 35 SCRA 557,
563-564; J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. vs. Sanvictores, L-16836, Jan. 30, 1962, 4 SCRA
xxx xxx xxx 123).

When this case was called for pre-trial, counsel for plaintiffs, Counter-claims, other than money claims — which were not permitted by the old
inviting the attention of the Court to an order of default against Code of Civil Procedure — are allowed under the rules of court (Sec. 1, Rule 10,
defendant Feliciano Felipe and several others, manifests that the Rules of Court of 1940, Sec. 6, Rule 6, Revised Rules of Court of 1964; Matela vs.
only defendants left who now have a standing in Court are Chua Tay, L-16407, May 30, 1962, 5 SCRA 163, 168-169; Pongos vs. Hidalgo etc.
Conrado Faustino, Brigida V. Samson, Simeon B. Samson, San et al., 47 O.G. 733; Vol. 1, Moran, Comment on the Rules of Court, 1970 ed., p. 2-
Francisco del Monte, Inc., and Alfredo Villanueva, all of whom are 64).
represented by counsel today with the exception of Villanueva.
Counsel for San Francisco del Monte, Inc. then manifested that the
subject-matter of this suit has already been the object of a final
"The object of a counterclaim is to prevent multiplicity of suits by allowing the achieve the purpose or rationale of a joint hearing authorized by Rule 31 of the Rules
determination in one action of the entire controversy between the parties, thus of Court, namely, to avoid duplication of suits, guard against oppression or abuse,
avoiding inconvenience, expense, waste of the court's time and injustice. A prevent delay, clear congested dockets, simplify the work of the trial court, and save
counterclaim also enables a defendant to make his defense more complete and unnecessary costs and expenses, thus attaining justice with maximum speed and with
effectual than it would be if he stood on one answer alone" (Vol. 1, Martin, Rules of the least expense and vexation to the litigants. (Palanca vs. Querubin, G.R. No. L-
Court, 1969 ed., p. 274-citing 80 C.J.S. 22; 47 Am. Jur. 712; Merchant's Nat. Bank 29510-31, Nov. 29, 1969, 30 SCRA 739, 745.)
vs. Clark Parker Co., 215 Cal. 296; 9 P. (2d.) 826, 81 ALR 778; Hoffman vs.
Maloratsky, 164-A. 260; 112 NJ Eq. 333). The herein petitioners or plaintiffs- The fact that Civil Case No. Q-7668 was already partly tried on July 6, 1964, should
appellants could have been spared so much expense, anxiety and anguish and the not justify the refusal of the trial judge in consolidating the same with Civil Case No.
delay in the disposition of the two cases could have been averted if the lower court in Q-8114, which was filed on July 7, 1964; because the evidence already submitted by
said Civil Case No. Q-7668 correctly appreciated the nature and purpose of the the plaintiffs in the first case could be submitted as part of the evidence in the second
counter-claims interposed therein as envisioned by the Rules of Court. case, without further need of retaking the testimonies of the witnesses, in view of the
fact that both cases involve as herein before stated the same parties, the same
In ordering the petitioners to file a separate action for annulment of title or subject-matter and the same issues. Pursuant to section 2, Rule 1 of the Revised
reconveyance, the trial court in Civil Case No. Q-7668, committed a grave error; Rules of Court, the rules of consolidation should be liberally construed to achieve the
because under the rules the compulsory counterclaim would be barred if not object of the parties in obtaining just, speedy and inexpensive determination of their
interposed in the answer (Sec. 4, Rule 9, Revised Rules of Court). cases. (Palanca vs. Querubin, supra; Sideco vs. Paredes, 74 Phil. 6, 7.)

2. The grave error committed by the trial court in Civil Case No. Q-7668 was Consolidation of the two cases might not be proper, if the joint hearing were to be,
compounded by its refusal to consolidate Civil Case No. Q-7668 with Civil Case No. conducted by the judge presiding over Branch IX to which Civil Case No. Q-8114
Q-8114, which consolidation should have been ordered as allowed under section 1 of was assigned, under the principle enunciated in the case of PAL vs. Teodoro (supra.);
Rule 31 of the Revised Rules of Court and controlling jurisprudence, immediately because the judge presiding over Branch IX was not the one who partly tried Civil
after the institution of Civil Case No. Q-8114 pursuant to the ruling of said trial Case No. Q-7668 and therefore did not observe the witnesses who testified on July 6,
court. 1964 in Civil Case No. Q-7668 before the trial judge of Branch IV. But that is not so
in these two cases where precisely Civil Case No. Q-8114 was to be transferred to
Although consolidation of several cases involving the same parties and subject- Branch IV and consolidated with Civil Case No. Q-7668, which was then already
matter is a matter addressed to the discretion of the trial court, joint hearing becomes partly tried by the trial judge presiding over Branch IV of the same Court of First
a matter of duty if two or more cases are tried before the same judge, or even if filed Instance of Rizal, Quezon City.
with the different branches of the same court of first instance, provided one of such
cases has not been partially tried (PAL et al. vs. Teodoro, et al., G.R. No. L-6698, 3. After denying the separate motions of Feliciano Felipe and San Francisco del
Aug. 30, 1955, 97 Phil. 461). Monte, Inc., to dismiss the complaint filed by Felipe Raymundo, Pedro Garcia and
Crispulo D. Felipe in Civil Case No. Q-8114, the trial judge presiding over Branch
True it is that on July 6, 1964, the hearing of Civil Case No. Q-7668 was commenced IX of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Quezon City), after conducting a pre-trial
in Branch IV, while Civil Case No. Q-8114 was filed the following day, July 7, of said Civil Case No. Q-8114 and without a hearing on the merits, erred in
1964, when the trial of Civil Case No. Q-7668 was continued. Although the latter dismissing said Civil Case No. Q-8114 thru the order dated June 22, 1967 on the
was assigned to Branch IV of the Rizal Court of First Instance, Quezon City, the trial ground that "it has no jurisdiction to hear this case it having been decided not only
judge presiding Branch IV of the same court and trying Civil Case No. Q-7668 once but twice, by a court of equal jurisdiction and it being the subject of an appeal"
should have granted the motion of the counsel for petitioners Felipe Raymundo, referring to Civil Cases Nos. Q-6882 and Q-7668, which are both decided by the trial
Pedro Garcia and Cesar Obligacion, for a joint hearing by him of the two cases; judge presiding over Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, with
because both cases involve the same parties, the same subject-matter (the two Civil Case No. Q-7668 having been appealed to the Court of Appeals (now L-30887
disputed lots), and the same issues of ownership and possession of the two before US) by Felipe Raymundo, Pedro Garcia and Cesar Obligacion. It seems that
questioned lots, and are handled by the same lawyers. There can therefore be no the trial judge of Branch IX misapprehended the nature and purpose of the complaint
confusion in the presentation of the evidence or in the appreciation of such evidence filed by herein appellants Felipe Raymundo, Pedro Garcia and Crispulo Felipe in
or of the witnesses by the same trial Judge hearing both cases. The trial judge Civil Case No. Q-8114. Pursuant to the ruling of the trial judge in Case No. Q-7668
presiding over Branch IX will have no reason to object to such consolidation of the that the herein plaintiffs-appellants should institute a separate action for annulment
hearing of the two cases in Branch IV. Such a consolidation of the two cases will or reconveyance, Civil Case No. 8114 was precisely filed by said plaintiffs-
appellants to annul the titles over the two disputed lots, issued in the name of the
defendant Feliciano Felipe and his successors-in-interest Alfredo G. Villanueva,
Simeon B. Samson and Brigida V. Samson on the ground that said titles were
secured fraudulently by said defendant Feliciano Felipe in Civil Case No. Q-6882, in
which the aforesaid plaintiffs were not parties and were not even notified of the
pendency of said Civil Case No. Q-6882. The herein plaintiffs-appellants (in L-
29754) were again denied their day in Court in Civil Case No. Q-8114, for the
simply reason that their complaint was dismissed without giving them the
opportunity to submit evidence to demonstrate their claim of ownership and of fraud
allegedly perpetrated by the herein defendant-appellee Feliciano Felipe in securing
the titles to the two disputed lots, which they allegedly have been possessing since
1933, when they purchased the same from the defendant-appellee San Francisco del
Monte, Inc. thru their association known as "Tiyaga at Pagtitipid," which was their
pre-war mutual savings and loan association composed of employees of the San
Francisco del Monte Subdivision, Inc. The plaintiffs-appellants were vexed by and
exposed to a long and expensive litigation; because thru deceit, Feliciano Felipe
despoiled them of their lots in Civil Case No. Q-6882 in which they were not parties
and about which they were not notified, aggravated by the unjust refusal of the trial
judge presiding over Branch IV to consolidate the hearing of the two Civil Cases
Nos. Q-7668 and Q-8114, with the latter case precisely having been filed pursuant to
the order of said trial judge that any claim for the annulment of the titles of Feliciano
Felipe and for the conveyance of the lots and of the said titles to plaintiffs-appellants
should be thru a separate action. And the unkindest cut of all was the dismissal
without a trial on the merits of said separate action in Civil Case No. Q-8114 by the
presiding judge of Branch IX of the same Court of First substance of Rizal (Quezon
City).

Consequently, the decision dated May 22, 1969 of the Court of Appeals affirming
the decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. Q-7668 (L-30887) should be
reversed, the order dated June 22, 1967 of the trial judge in Civil Case No. Q-8114
(L-29754) should be set aside, and the records of both cases nos. Q-7668 and Q-8114
should be remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings, if justice were not
to be denied to herein plaintiffs-appellants in G.R. No. L-29754 or petitioners in
G.R. No. L-30887.

WHEREFORE, the decision dated May 22, 1969 of the Court of Appeals is hereby
reversed; the judgment dated October 18, 1964 of the trial lower court in Civil Case
No. Q-7668 (G.R. No. L-30887) and the order dated June 22, 1967 of the trial court
in Civil Case No. Q-8114 (G.R. No. L-29754) are hereby set aside as null and void;
the records of both civil cases Nos. Q-7668 and Q-8114 are hereby consolidated and
remanded to Branch IV of the Quezon City Court of First Instance; and the trial
judge presiding over said Branch IV is hereby directed to try on the merits Civil Case
No. Q-8114 and to render only one judgment in both Civil Cases Nos. Q-7668 and
Q-8114 to the basis of the evidence submitted in both cases. Costs against
respondent in L-30887 and defendants-appellees in L-29754. So ordered.
G.R. No. 174489 April 11, 2012 document is her last will and testament. She thereafter affixed her signature at the
end of the said document on page 38 and then on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4
ANTONIO B. BALTAZAR, SEBASTIAN M. BALTAZAR, ANTONIO L. thereof.9
MANGALINDAN, ROSIE M. MATEO, NENITA A. PACHECO, VIRGILIO
REGALA, JR., and RAFAEL TITCO, Petitioners, The witnesses to the Will were Dra. Maria Lioba A. Limpin (Dra. Limpin),
vs. Francisco Garcia (Francisco) and Faustino R. Mercado (Faustino). The three attested
LORENZO LAXA, Respondent. to the Will’s due execution by affixing their signatures below its attestation
clause10 and on the left margin of pages 1, 2 and 4 thereof,11 in the presence of
DECISION Paciencia and of one another and of Judge Limpin who acted as notary public.

DEL CASTILLO, J.: Childless and without any brothers or sisters, Paciencia bequeathed all her properties
to respondent Lorenzo R. Laxa (Lorenzo) and his wife Corazon F. Laxa and their
It is incumbent upon those who oppose the probate of a will to clearly establish that children Luna Lorella Laxa and Katherine Ross Laxa, thus:
the decedent was not of sound and disposing mind at the time of the execution of
said will. Otherwise, the state is duty-bound to give full effect to the wishes of the xxxx
testator to distribute his estate in the manner provided in his will so long as it is
legally tenable.1 Fourth - In consideration of their valuable services to me since then up to the present
by the spouses LORENZO LAXA and CORAZON F. LAXA, I hereby
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari2 of the June 15, 2006 Decision3 of the BEQUEATH, CONVEY and GIVE all my properties enumerated in parcels 1 to 5
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 80979 which reversed the September 30, unto the spouses LORENZO R. LAXA and CORAZON F. LAXA and their children,
2003 Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 52, Guagua, Pampanga in LUNA LORELLA LAXA and KATHERINE LAXA, and the spouses Lorenzo R.
Special Proceedings No. G-1186. The assailed CA Decision granted the petition for Laxa and Corazon F. Laxa both of legal age, Filipinos, presently residing at Barrio
probate of the notarial will of Paciencia Regala (Paciencia), to wit: Sta. Monica, [Sasmuan], Pampanga and their children, LUNA LORELLA and
KATHERINE ROSS LAXA, who are still not of legal age and living with their
parents who would decide to bequeath since they are the children of the spouses;
WHEREFORE, premises considered, finding the appeal to be impressed with merit,
the decision in SP. PROC. NO. G-1186 dated 30 September 2003, is hereby SET
ASIDE and a new one entered GRANTING the petition for the probate of the will of xxxx
PACIENCIA REGALA.
[Sixth] - Should other properties of mine may be discovered aside from the
SO ORDERED. 5 properties mentioned in this last will and testament, I am also bequeathing and
giving the same to the spouses Lorenzo R. Laxa and Corazon F. Laxa and their two
Also assailed herein is the August 31, 2006 CA Resolution6 which denied the Motion children and I also command them to offer masses yearly for the repose of my soul
and that of D[ñ]a Nicomeda Regala, Epifania Regala and their spouses and with
for Reconsideration thereto.
respect to the fishpond situated at San Antonio, I likewise command to fulfill the
wishes of D[ñ]a Nicomeda Regala in accordance with her testament as stated in my
Petitioners call us to reverse the CA’s assailed Decision and instead affirm the testament. x x x12
Decision of the RTC which disallowed the notarial will of Paciencia.
The filial relationship of Lorenzo with Paciencia remains undisputed. Lorenzo is
Factual Antecedents Paciencia’s nephew whom she treated as her own son. Conversely, Lorenzo came to
know and treated Paciencia as his own mother.13 Paciencia lived with Lorenzo’s
Paciencia was a 78 year old spinster when she made her last will and testament family in Sasmuan, Pampanga and it was she who raised and cared for Lorenzo since
entitled "Tauli Nang Bilin o Testamento Miss Paciencia Regala" 7 (Will) in the his birth. Six days after the execution of the Will or on September 19, 1981,
Pampango dialect on September 13, 1981. The Will, executed in the house of retired Paciencia left for the United States of America (USA). There, she resided with
Judge Ernestino G. Limpin (Judge Limpin), was read to Paciencia twice. After Lorenzo and his family until her death on January 4, 1996.
which, Paciencia expressed in the presence of the instrumental witnesses that the
In the interim, the Will remained in the custody of Judge Limpin. be her Will. Simultaneously, petitioners filed an Opposition and
Recommendation29 reiterating their opposition to the appointment of Lorenzo as
More than four years after the death of Paciencia or on April 27, 2000, Lorenzo filed administrator of the properties and requesting for the appointment of Antonio in his
a petition14 with the RTC of Guagua, Pampanga for the probate of the Will of stead.
Paciencia and for the issuance of Letters of Administration in his favor, docketed as
Special Proceedings No. G-1186. On January 29, 2001, the RTC issued an Order30 denying the requests of both
Lorenzo and Antonio to be appointed administrator since the former is a citizen and
There being no opposition to the petition after its due publication, the RTC issued an resident of the USA while the latter’s claim as a co-owner of the properties subject of
Order on June 13, 200015allowing Lorenzo to present evidence on June 22, 2000. On the Will has not yet been established.
said date, Dra. Limpin testified that she was one of the instrumental witnesses in the
execution of the last will and testament of Paciencia on September 13, 1981. 16 The Meanwhile, proceedings on the petition for the probate of the Will continued. Dra.
Will was executed in her father’s (Judge Limpin) home office, in her presence and of Limpin was recalled for cross-examination by the petitioners. She testified as to the
two other witnesses, Francisco and Faustino.17 Dra. Limpin positively identified the age of her father at the time the latter notarized the Will of Paciencia; the living
Will and her signatures on all its four pages.18 She likewise positively identified the arrangements of Paciencia at the time of the execution of the Will; and the lack of
signature of her father appearing thereon.19 Questioned by the prosecutor regarding photographs when the event took place. 31
Judge Limpin’s present mental fitness, Dra. Limpin testified that her father had a
stroke in 1991 and had to undergo brain surgery.20 The judge can walk but can no Aside from Dra. Limpin, Lorenzo and Monico Mercado (Monico) also took the
longer talk and remember her name. Because of this, Dra. Limpin stated that her witness stand. Monico, son of Faustino, testified on his father’s condition. According
father can no longer testify in court.21 to him his father can no longer talk and express himself due to brain damage. A
medical certificate was presented to the court to support this allegation. 32
The following day or on June 23, 2000, petitioner Antonio Baltazar (Antonio) filed
an opposition22 to Lorenzo’s petition. Antonio averred that the properties subject of For his part, Lorenzo testified that: from 1944 until his departure for the USA in
Paciencia’s Will belong to Nicomeda Regala Mangalindan, his predecessor-in- April 1980, he lived in Sasmuan, Pampanga with his family and his aunt, Paciencia;
interest; hence, Paciencia had no right to bequeath them to Lorenzo. 23 in 1981 Paciencia went to the USA and lived with him and his family until her death
in January 1996; the relationship between him and Paciencia was like that of a
Barely a month after or on July 20, 2000, Antonio, now joined by petitioners mother and child since Paciencia took care of him since birth and took him in as an
Sebastian M. Baltazar, Virgilio Regala, Jr., Nenita A. Pacheco, Felix B. Flores, adopted son; Paciencia was a spinster without children, and without brothers and
Rafael Titco, Rosie M. Mateo (Rosie) and Antonio L. Mangalindan filed a sisters; at the time of Paciencia’s death, she did not suffer from any mental disorder
Supplemental Opposition24 contending that Paciencia’s Will was null and void and was of sound mind, was not blind, deaf or mute; the Will was in the custody of
because ownership of the properties had not been transferred and/or titled to Judge Limpin and was only given to him after Paciencia’s death through Faustino;
Paciencia before her death pursuant to Article 1049, paragraph 3 of the Civil and he was already residing in the USA when the Will was executed.33 Lorenzo
Code.25 Petitioners also opposed the issuance of Letters of Administration in positively identified the signature of Paciencia in three different documents and in
Lorenzo’s favor arguing that Lorenzo was disqualified to be appointed as such, he the Will itself and stated that he was familiar with Paciencia’s signature because he
being a citizen and resident of the USA.26 Petitioners prayed that Letters of accompanied her in her transactions.34 Further, Lorenzo belied and denied having
Administration be instead issued in favor of Antonio. 27 used force, intimidation, violence, coercion or trickery upon Paciencia to execute the
Will as he was not in the Philippines when the same was executed.35 On cross-
Later still on September 26, 2000, petitioners filed an Amended Opposition 28 asking examination, Lorenzo clarified that Paciencia informed him about the Will shortly
the RTC to deny the probate of Paciencia’s Will on the following grounds: the Will after her arrival in the USA but that he saw a copy of the Will only after her death. 36
was not executed and attested to in accordance with the requirements of the law; that
Paciencia was mentally incapable to make a Will at the time of its execution; that she As to Francisco, he could no longer be presented in court as he already died on May
was forced to execute the Will under duress or influence of fear or threats; that the 21, 2000.
execution of the Will had been procured by undue and improper pressure and
influence by Lorenzo or by some other persons for his benefit; that the signature of For petitioners, Rosie testified that her mother and Paciencia were first cousins. 37 She
Paciencia on the Will was forged; that assuming the signature to be genuine, it was claimed to have helped in the household chores in the house of Paciencia thereby
obtained through fraud or trickery; and, that Paciencia did not intend the document to allowing her to stay therein from morning until evening and that during the period of
her service in the said household, Lorenzo’s wife and his children were staying in the The trial court gave considerable weight to the testimony of Rosie and concluded
same house.38 She served in the said household from 1980 until Paciencia’s departure that at the time Paciencia signed the Will, she was no longer possessed of sufficient
for the USA on September 19, 1981.39 reason or strength of mind to have testamentary capacity. 58

On September 13, 1981, Rosie claimed that she saw Faustino bring "something" for Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Paciencia to sign at the latter’s house.40 Rosie admitted, though, that she did not see
what that "something" was as same was placed inside an envelope. 41 However, she On appeal, the CA reversed the RTC Decision and granted the probate of the Will of
remembered Paciencia instructing Faustino to first look for money before she signs Paciencia. The appellate court did not agree with the RTC’s conclusion that
them.42 A few days after or on September 16, 1981, Paciencia went to the house of Paciencia was of unsound mind when she executed the Will. It ratiocinated that "the
Antonio’s mother and brought with her the said envelope. 43 Upon going home, state of being ‘magulyan’ does not make a person mentally unsound so [as] to render
however, the envelope was no longer with Paciencia. 44 Rosie further testified that [Paciencia] unfit for executing a Will." 59 Moreover, the oppositors in the probate
Paciencia was referred to as "magulyan" or "forgetful" because she would sometimes proceedings were not able to overcome the presumption that every person is of sound
leave her wallet in the kitchen then start looking for it moments later.45 On cross mind. Further, no concrete circumstances or events were given to prove the
examination, it was established that Rosie was neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist, allegation that Paciencia was tricked or forced into signing the Will. 60
that her conclusion that Paciencia was "magulyan" was based on her personal
assessment,46 and that it was Antonio who requested her to testify in court. 47
Petitioners moved for reconsideration61 but the motion was denied by the CA in its
Resolution62 dated August 31, 2006.
In his direct examination, Antonio stated that Paciencia was his aunt. 48 He identified
the Will and testified that he had seen the said document before because Paciencia Hence, this petition.
brought the same to his mother’s house and showed it to him along with another
document on September 16, 1981.49 Antonio alleged that when the documents were
shown to him, the same were still unsigned.50 According to him, Paciencia thought Issues
that the documents pertained to a lease of one of her rice lands, 51 and it was he who
explained that the documents were actually a special power of attorney to lease and Petitioners come before this Court by way of Petition for Review on Certiorari
sell her fishpond and other properties upon her departure for the USA, and a Will ascribing upon the CA the following errors:
which would transfer her properties to Lorenzo and his family upon her
death.52 Upon hearing this, Paciencia allegedly uttered the following words: "Why I.
will I never [return], why will I sell all my properties?" Who is Lorenzo? Is he the
only [son] of God? I have other relatives [who should] benefit from my properties. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED
Why should I die already?"53 Thereafter, Antonio advised Paciencia not to sign the WHEN IT ALLOWED THE PROBATE OF PACIENCIA’S WILL
documents if she does not want to, to which the latter purportedly replied, "I know DESPITE RESPONDENT’S UTTER FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH
nothing about those, throw them away or it is up to you. The more I will not sign SECTION 11, RULE 76 OF THE RULES OF COURT;
them."54 After which, Paciencia left the documents with Antonio. Antonio kept the
unsigned documents
II.
and eventually turned them over to Faustino on September 18, 1981. 55
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN
MAKING CONCLUSIONS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court EVIDENCE ON RECORD;

On September 30, 2003, the RTC rendered its Decision56 denying the petition thus: III.

WHEREFORE, this court hereby (a) denies the petition dated April 24, 2000; and (b) THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN
disallows the notarized will dated September 13, 1981 of Paciencia Regala. RULING THAT PETITIONERS FAILED TO PROVE THAT
PACIENCIA WAS NOT OF SOUND MIND AT THE TIME THE WILL
SO ORDERED.57 WAS ALLEGEDLY EXECUTED63
The pivotal issue is whether the authenticity and due execution of the notarial Will If the attestation clause is in a language not known to the witnesses, it shall be
was sufficiently established to warrant its allowance for probate. interpreted to them.

Our Ruling Art. 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and
the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or
We deny the petition. file another with the Office of the Clerk of Court.

Faithful compliance with the formalities laid down by law is apparent from the face Here, a careful examination of the face of the Will shows faithful compliance with
of the Will. the formalities laid down by law. The signatures of the testatrix, Paciencia, her
instrumental witnesses and the notary public, are all present and evident on the Will.
Further, the attestation clause explicitly states the critical requirement that the
Courts are tasked to determine nothing more than the extrinsic validity of a Will in
probate proceedings.64 This is expressly provided for in Rule 75, Section 1 of the testatrix and her instrumental witnesses signed the Will in the presence of one
Rules of Court, which states: another and that the witnesses attested and subscribed to the Will in the presence of
the testator and of one another. In fact, even the petitioners acceded that the signature
of Paciencia in the Will may be authentic although they question her state of mind
Rule 75 when she signed the same as well as the voluntary nature of said act.

Production of Will. Allowance of Will Necessary. The burden to prove that Paciencia was of unsound mind at the time of the execution
of the will lies on the shoulders of the petitioners.
Section 1. Allowance necessary. Conclusive as to execution. – No will shall pass
either real or personal estate unless it is proved and allowed in the proper court. Petitioners, through their witness Rosie, claim that Paciencia was "magulyan" or
Subject to the right of appeal, such allowance of the will shall be conclusive as to its forgetful so much so that it effectively stripped her of testamentary capacity. They
due execution. likewise claimed in their Motion for Reconsideration66 filed with the CA that
Paciencia was not only "magulyan" but was actually suffering from paranoia.67
Due execution of the will or its extrinsic validity pertains to whether the testator,
being of sound mind, freely executed the will in accordance with the formalities We are not convinced.
prescribed by law.65 These formalities are enshrined in Articles 805 and 806 of the
New Civil Code, to wit:
We agree with the position of the CA that the state of being forgetful does not
necessarily make a person mentally unsound so as to render him unfit to execute a
Art. 805. Every will, other than a holographic will, must be subscribed at the end Will.68 Forgetfulness is not equivalent to being of unsound mind. Besides, Article
thereof by the testator himself or by the testator's name written by some other person 799 of the New Civil Code states:
in his presence, and by his express direction, and attested and subscribed by three or
more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator and of one another.
Art. 799. To be of sound mind, it is not necessary that the testator be in full
possession of all his reasoning faculties, or that his mind be wholly unbroken,
The testator or the person requested by him to write his name and the instrumental unimpaired, or unshattered by disease, injury or other cause.
witnesses of the will, shall also sign, as aforesaid, each and every page thereof,
except the last, on the left margin, and all the pages shall be numbered correlatively
It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the time of making the will to know
in letters placed on the upper part of each page.
the nature of the estate to be disposed of, the proper objects of his bounty, and the
character of the testamentary act.
The attestation shall state the number of pages used upon which the will is written,
and the fact that the testator signed the will and every page thereof, or caused some
other person to write his name, under his express direction, in the presence of the In this case, apart from the testimony of Rosie pertaining to Paciencia’s
forgetfulness, there is no substantial evidence, medical or otherwise, that would
instrumental witnesses, and that the latter witnessed and signed the will and all the
show that Paciencia was of unsound mind at the time of the execution of the Will.
pages thereof in the presence of the testator and of one another.
On the other hand, we find more worthy of credence Dra. Limpin’s testimony as to
the soundness of mind of Paciencia when the latter went to Judge Limpin’s house
and voluntarily executed the Will. "The testimony of subscribing witnesses to a Will between Paciencia and Antonio on September 16, 1981 wherein the former
concerning the testator’s mental condition is entitled to great weight where they are purportedly repudiated the Will and left it unsigned.
truthful and intelligent."69 More importantly, a testator is presumed to be of sound
mind at the time of the execution of the Will and the burden to prove otherwise lies We are not persuaded.
on the oppositor. Article 800 of the New Civil Code states:
We take into consideration the unrebutted fact that Paciencia loved and treated
Art. 800. The law presumes that every person is of sound mind, in the absence of Lorenzo as her own son and that love even extended to Lorenzo’s wife and children.
proof to the contrary. This kind of relationship is not unusual. It is in fact not unheard of in our culture for
old maids or spinsters to care for and raise their nephews and nieces and treat them
The burden of proof that the testator was not of sound mind at the time of making his as their own children. Such is a prevalent and accepted cultural practice that has
dispositions is on the person who opposes the probate of the will; but if the testator, resulted in many family discords between those favored by the testamentary
one month, or less, before making his will was publicly known to be insane, the disposition of a testator and those who stand to benefit in case of intestacy.
person who maintains the validity of the will must prove that the testator made it
during a lucid interval. In this case, evidence shows the acknowledged fact that Paciencia’s relationship with
Lorenzo and his family is different from her relationship with petitioners. The very
Here, there was no showing that Paciencia was publicly known to be insane one fact that she cared for and raised Lorenzo and lived with him both here and abroad,
month or less before the making of the Will. Clearly, thus, the burden to prove that even if the latter was already married and already has children, highlights the special
Paciencia was of unsound mind lies upon the shoulders of petitioners. However and bond between them. This unquestioned relationship between Paciencia and the
as earlier mentioned, no substantial evidence was presented by them to prove the devisees tends to support the authenticity of the said document as against petitioners’
same, thereby warranting the CA’s finding that petitioners failed to discharge such allegations of duress, influence of fear or threats, undue and improper influence,
burden. pressure, fraud, and trickery which, aside from being factual in nature, are not
supported by concrete, substantial and credible evidence on record. It is worth
Furthermore, we are convinced that Paciencia was aware of the nature of her estate stressing that bare arguments, no matter how forceful, if not based on concrete and
to be disposed of, the proper objects of her bounty and the character of the substantial evidence cannot suffice to move the Court to uphold said
testamentary act. As aptly pointed out by the CA: allegations.71Furthermore, "a purported will is not [to be] denied legalization on
dubious grounds. Otherwise, the very institution of testamentary succession will be
shaken to its foundation, for even if a will has been duly executed in fact, whether x
A scrutiny of the Will discloses that [Paciencia] was aware of the nature of the
document she executed. She specially requested that the customs of her faith be x x it will be probated would have to depend largely on the attitude of those
observed upon her death. She was well aware of how she acquired the properties interested in [the estate of the deceased]." 72
from her parents and the properties she is bequeathing to LORENZO, to his wife
CORAZON and to his two (2) children. A third child was born after the execution of Court should be convinced by the evidence presented before it that the Will was duly
the will and was not included therein as devisee.70 executed.

Bare allegations of duress or influence of fear or threats, undue and improper Petitioners dispute the authenticity of Paciencia’s Will on the ground that Section 11
influence and pressure, fraud and trickery cannot be used as basis to deny the probate of Rule 76 of the Rules of Court was not complied with. It provides:
of a will.
RULE 76
An essential element of the validity of the Will is the willingness of the testator or
testatrix to execute the document that will distribute his/her earthly possessions upon Allowance or Disallowance of Will
his/her death. Petitioners claim that Paciencia was forced to execute the Will under
duress or influence of fear or threats; that the execution of the Will had been Section 11. Subscribing witnesses produced or accounted for where will contested. –
procured by undue and improper pressure and influence by Lorenzo or by some other If the will is contested, all the subscribing witnesses, and the notary in the case of
persons for his benefit; and that assuming Paciencia’s signature to be genuine, it was wills executed under the Civil Code of the Philippines, if present in the Philippines
obtained through fraud or trickery. These are grounded on the alleged conversation and not insane, must be produced and examined, and the death, absence, or insanity
of any of them must be satisfactorily shown to the court. If all or some of such
witnesses are present in the Philippines but outside the province where the will has itself prima facie proof that the supposed [testatrix] has willed that [her] estate be
been filed, their deposition must be taken. If any or all of them testify against the due distributed in the manner therein provided, and it is incumbent upon the state that, if
execution of the will, or do not remember having attested to it, or are otherwise of legally tenable, such desire be given full effect independent of the attitude of the
doubtful credibility, the will may nevertheless, be allowed if the court is satisfied parties affected thereby."75 This, coupled with Lorenzo’s established relationship
from the testimony of other witnesses and from all the evidence presented that the with Paciencia, the evidence and the testimonies of disinterested witnesses, as
will was executed and attested in the manner required by law. opposed to the total lack of evidence presented by petitioners apart from their self-
serving testimonies, constrain us to tilt the balance in favor of the authenticity of the
If a holographic will is contested, the same shall be allowed if at least three (3) Will and its allowance for probate.
witnesses who know the handwriting of the testator explicitly declare that the will
and the signature are in the handwriting of the testator; in the absence of any WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated June 15, 2006 and the
competent witnesses, and if the court deem it necessary, expert testimony may be Resolution dated August 31, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
resorted to. (Emphasis supplied.) 80979 are AFFIRMED.

They insist that all subscribing witnesses and the notary public should have been SO ORDERED.
presented in court since all but one witness, Francisco, are still living.

We cannot agree with petitioners.

We note that the inability of Faustino and Judge Limpin to appear and testify before
the court was satisfactorily explained during the probate proceedings. As testified to
by his son, Faustino had a heart attack, was already bedridden and could no longer
talk and express himself due to brain damage. To prove this, said witness presented
the corresponding medical certificate. For her part, Dra. Limpin testified that her
father, Judge Limpin, suffered a stroke in 1991 and had to undergo brain surgery. At
that time, Judge Limpin could no longer talk and could not even remember his
daughter’s name so that Dra. Limpin stated that given such condition, her father
could no longer testify. It is well to note that at that point, despite ample opportunity,
petitioners neither interposed any objections to the testimonies of said witnesses nor
challenged the same on cross examination. We thus hold that for all intents and
purposes, Lorenzo was able to satisfactorily account for the incapacity and failure of
the said subscribing witness and of the notary public to testify in court. Because of
this the probate of Paciencia’s Will may be allowed on the basis of Dra. Limpin’s
testimony proving her sanity and the due execution of the Will, as well as on the
proof of her handwriting. It is an established rule that "[a] testament may not be
disallowed just because the attesting witnesses declare against its due execution;
neither does it have to be necessarily allowed just because all the attesting witnesses
declare in favor of its legalization; what is decisive is that the court is convinced by
evidence before it, not necessarily from the attesting witnesses, although they must
testify, that the will was or was not duly executed in the manner required by
law."73 1âwphi1

Moreover, it bears stressing that "[i]rrespective x x x of the posture of any of the


parties as regards the authenticity and due execution of the will x x x in question, it is
the mandate of the law that it is the evidence before the court and/or [evidence that]
ought to be before it that is controlling." 74 "The very existence of [the Will] is in
G.R. No. 173008 February 22, 2012 In their Amended Complaint4 for Partition and Annulment of Documents with
Damages dated February 5, 1991 against Enrico, Consolacion and the respondents,
NENITA GONZALES, SPOUSES GENEROSA GONZALES and RODOLFO petitioners alleged, inter alia, that the only surviving children of the Spouses Ayad
FERRER, SPOUSES FELIPE GONZALES and CAROLINA SANTIAGO, are Enrico and Consolacion, and that during the Spouses Ayad's lifetime, they owned
SPOUSES LOLITA GONZALES and GERMOGENES GARLITOS, several agricultural as well as residential properties.
SPOUSES DOLORES GONZALES and FRANCISCO COSTIN, SPOUSES
CONCHITA GONZALES and JONATHAN CLAVE, and SPOUSES Petitioners averred that in 1987, Enrico executed fraudulent documents covering all
BEATRIZ GONZALES and ROMY CORTES, REPRESENTED BY THEIR the properties owned by the Spouses Ayad in favor of Consolacion and respondents,
ATTORNEY-IN-FACT and CO-PETITIONER NENITA completely disregarding their rights. Thus, they prayed, among others, for the
GONZALES, Petitioners, partition of the Spouses Ayad's estate, the nullification of the documents executed by
vs. Enrico, and the award of actual, moral and exemplary damages, as well as attorney's
MARIANO BUGAAY AND LUCY BUGAAY, SPOUSES ALICIA BUGAAY fees.
AND FELIPE BARCELONA, CONEY "CONIE" BUGAAY, JOEY GATAN,
LYDIA BUGAAY, SPOUSES LUZVIMINDA BUGAAY AND REY As affirmative defenses5 , Enrico, Consolacion and respondents claimed that
PAGATPATAN AND BELEN BUGAAY, Respondents. petitioners had long obtained their advance inheritance from the estate of the
Spouses Ayad, and that the properties sought to be partitioned are now individually
DECISION titled in respondents' names.

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: After due proceedings, the RTC rendered a Decision6 dated November 24, 1995,
awarding one-fourth (¼) pro-indiviso share of the estate each to Enrico, Maximiano,
Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 is the Decision 1 of Encarnacion and Consolacion as the heirs of the Spouses Ayad, excluding Mariano
the Court of Appeals (CA) dated March 23, 2006 in CA-G.R. SP No. 91381 as well who predeceased them. It likewise declared the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement and
as the Resolution2 dated June 2, 2006 dismissing petitioners' motion for Partition executed by Enrico and respondents, as well as all other documents and
reconsideration. The CA reversed and set aside the assailed Orders3 of the Regional muniments of title in their names, as null and void. It also directed the parties to
Trial Court (RTC) of Lingayen, Pangasinan, Branch 39, dated April 13, 2005 and submit a project of partition within 30 days from finality of the Decision.
August 8, 2005, respectively, in Civil Case No. 16815, denying the demurrer to
evidence filed by herein respondents and instead dismissed petitioners' complaint. On December, 13, 1995,7 respondents filed a motion for reconsideration and/or new
trial from the said Decision. On November 7, 1996, the RTC, through Judge Eugenio
The Facts Ramos, issued an Order which reads: "in the event that within a period of one (1)
month from today, they have not yet settled the case, it is understood that the motion
for reconsideration and/or new trial is submitted for resolution without any further
The deceased spouses Bartolome Ayad and Marcelina Tejada ("Spouses Ayad") had
hearing."8
five (5) children: Enrico, Encarnacion, Consolacion, Maximiano and Mariano. The
latter, who was single, predeceased his parents on December 4, 1943. Marcelina died
in September 1950 followed by Bartolome much later on February 17, 1964. Without resolving the foregoing motion, the RTC, noting the failure of the parties to
submit a project of partition, issued a writ of execution9 on February 17, 2003 giving
them a period of 15 days within which to submit their nominees for commissioner,
Enrico has remained single. Encarnacion died on April 8, 1966 and is survived by
who will partition the subject estate.
her children, Nenita Gonzales, Generosa Gonzales, Felipe Gonzales, Lolita
Gonzales, Dolores Gonzales, Conchita Gonzales and Beatriz Gonzales, the
petitioners in this case. Consolacion, meanwhile, was married to the late Imigdio Subsequently, the RTC, through then Acting Presiding Judge Emilio V. Angeles,
Bugaay. Their children are Mariano Bugaay, Alicia Bugaay, Amelita Bugaay, discovered the pendency of the motion for reconsideration and/or new trial and set
Rodolfo Bugaay, Letecia Bugaay, Lydia Bugaay, Luzviminda Bugaay and Belen the same for hearing. In the Order10 dated August 29, 2003, Judge Angeles granted
Bugaay, respondents herein. Maximiano died single and without issue on August 20, respondents' motion for reconsideration and/or new trial for the specific "purpose of
1986. The spouses of petitioners, except Nenita, a widow, and those of the receiving and offering for admission the documents referred to by the
respondents, except Lydia and Belen, were joined as parties in this case. [respondents]."11
However, instead of presenting the documents adverted to, consisting of the Section 1, Rule 33 of the Rules of Court provides:
documents sought to be annulled, respondents demurred 12 to petitioners' evidence on
December 6, 2004 which the RTC, this time through Presiding Judge Dionisio C. "SECTION 1. Demurrer to evidence. - After the plaintiff has completed the
Sison, denied in the Order13 dated April 13, 2005 as well as respondents' motion for presentation of his evidence, the defendant may move for dismissal on the ground
reconsideration in the August 8, 2005 Order.14 that upon the facts and the law the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. If his motion
is denied, he shall have the right to present evidence. If the motion is granted but on
Aggrieved, respondents elevated their case to the CA through a petition for appeal the order of dismissal was reversed he shall be deemed to have waived the
certiorari, imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC in denying their right to present evidence."
demurrer notwithstanding petitioners' failure to present the documents sought to be
annulled. On March 23, 2006, the CA rendered the assailed Decision reversing and The Court has previously explained the nature of a demurrer to evidence in the case
setting aside the Orders of the RTC disposing as follows: of Celino v. Heirs of Alejo and Teresa Santiago18 as follows:

"WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the assailed "A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of
Orders of the trial court dated April 13, 2006 and August 8, 2005 are hereby both evidence and is presented after the plaintiff rests his case. It is an objection by one of
SET ASIDE and in lieu thereof, another Order is hereby issued DISMISSING the the parties in an action, to the effect that the evidence which his adversary produced
Complaint, as amended. is insufficient in point of law, whether true or not, to make out a case or sustain the
issue. The evidence contemplated by the rule on demurrer is that which pertains to
No pronouncement as to costs. the merits of the case."

SO ORDERED."15 In passing upon the sufficiency of the evidence raised in a demurrer, the court is
merely required to ascertain whether there is competent or sufficient proof to sustain
In dismissing the Amended Complaint, the appellate court ratiocinated in the the judgment.19 Being considered a motion to dismiss, thus, a demurrer to evidence
following manner: must clearly be filed before the court renders its judgment.

"In the light of the foregoing where no sufficient evidence was presented to grant the In this case, respondents demurred to petitioners' evidence after the RTC
reliefs being prayed for in the complaint, more particularly the absence of the promulgated its Decision.1âwphi1 While respondents' motion for reconsideration
documents sought to be annulled as well as the properties sought to be partitioned, and/or new trial was granted, it was for the sole purpose of receiving and offering for
common sense dictates that the case should have been dismissed outright by the trial admission the documents not presented at the trial. As respondents never complied
court to avoid unnecessary waste of time, money and efforts." 16 with the directive but instead filed a demurrer to evidence, their motion should be
deemed abandoned. Consequently, the RTC's original Decision stands.
Subsequently, the CA denied petitioners' motion for reconsideration in its
Resolution17 dated June 2, 2006. Accordingly, the CA committed reversible error in granting the demurrer and
dismissing the Amended Complaint a quo for insufficiency of evidence. The
demurrer to evidence was clearly no longer an available remedy to respondents and
The Issues
should not have been granted, as the RTC had correctly done.
In this petition for review, petitioners question whether the CA's dismissal of the
Amended Complaint was in accordance with law, rules of procedure and WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of
the CA are SET ASIDE and the Orders of the RTC denying respondents' demurrer
jurisprudence.
are REINSTATED. The Decision of the RTC dated November 24, 1995 STANDS.
The Ruling of the Court
SO ORDERED.
The RTC Orders assailed before the CA basically involved the propriety of filing a
demurrer to evidence after a Decision had been rendered in the case.
G.R. No. 132102 May 19, 1999 properties in favor of the plaintiff Nellie
Manzano;
SPS. AMADO & MILAGROS TINIO and ROLANDO TINIO, petitioners,
vs. 3. AUTHORIZING the defendant Rolando Tinio
NELLIE MANZANO, respondent. to withdraw the amount of One Hundred
Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) which was
deposited by the plaintiff representing the
redemption price of the properties;
GONZAGA-REYES, J.:
So Ordered. 2
This petition for review on certiorari seeks to reverse the decision of the Court of
Appeals 1 in CA-G.R. CV No. 48567 affirming in toto the decision of the Regional On appeal, the aforesaid judgment was affirmed in toto by the Court of Appeals.
Trial Court, Branch XXI, Santiago City, Isabela, in an action by private respondent With the denial of their motion for reconsideration, petitioners filed the instant for
against petitioners for legal redemption of real property pursuant to Articles 1620 review, on the grounds that the Court of Appeals:
and 1621 of the New Civil Code (Civil Case No. 21-0948).
1. (Has) Decided Question of Substance Not
The material antecedents as taken from the decision of the respondent Court of Heretofore Been Decided By The Honorable
Appeals are: Supreme Court And Decided It On Mere
Technicality By Declaring That Petitioners
Could Not Raise The Issue That There Is No
Private respondent Nellie A. Manzano is a co-owner, together with her brothers and
Legal Redemption Over A Land Of The Public
sisters Ernesto Manzano, Roland Manzano, Pamela Manzano and Edna Manzano of
Lot No. 113, CCs-167, situated in Victory Norte, Santiago, Isabela. On or about Domain Because It Was Raised For The First
April 12, 1988, while private respondent was abroad, her brothers and sisters sold the Time On Appeal;
aforesaid property to petitioner Rolando Tinio, the son of the other petitioners,
spouses Amado and Milagros Tinio, for the price of P100,000.00. In a forged 2. Gravely Erred In Not Considering The Letters
"Affidavit of Waiver of Rights, Claim and Interest", private respondent was made to Of Respondent Nellie Manzano, Exhibits 1,2 and
appear as having waived her rights over Lot No. 113 in favor of Rolando Tinio. 3, Which Patently Prove That She Is Fully
Subsequently, on April 19, 1991, Rolando Tinio obtained a Miscellaneous Sales Aware Of The Sale Of The Land;
Patent over a portion of Lot No. 113, denominated as Lot No. 113-B, with an area of
105 square meters, from the Bureau of Lands. The patent was registered in the 3. Grievously Erred In Not Admitting The
Registry of Deeds for the Province of Isabela, which issued Original Certificate of RECEIPT, Annex 2 of the Motion for
Title No. P-55907 in the name of Rolando Tinio. Upon private respondent's return to Reconsideration, As Newly Discovered Evidence
the Philippines in 1994, the plaintiff-appellee offered to redeem the shares of her co- Proving The Full Awareness of Nellie Manzano
owners pursuant to Articles 1620 and 1621 of the New Civil Code. Receiving no Of The Sale Of The Subject Land And Having
reply, private respondent filed an action for legal redemption before the trial court. Benefited Therefrom Is Estopped From
Asserting He Alleged Right Of Legal
After trial, a decision war rendered by the court a quo in favor of private respondent, Redemption;
to wit;
4. Gravely Erred In Ruling That The Trial Court
1. DECLARING that the plaintiff has the right of Had Jurisdiction Over The Subject Land Which
redemption over the shares of her co-owners to Under Existing Jurisprudence Lie Within The
the properties which they sold to the defendants; Exclusive Authority Of The Director Of Lands
Under the Executive Department. 3
2. ORDERING the defendant Rolando Tinio to
execute the necessary deed of sale of the The petition is not impressed with merit.
In the interrelated first and fourth grounds, petitioners fault the respondent court for 3. Whether or not the plaintiff
its refusal to resolve the issue that the subject property is part of the public domain, is in estoppel;
hence, under the exclusive authority of the Director of Lands. Further, petitioners
contend that a finding that the subject property is part of the public domain would 4. Whether there was a valid
negate co-ownership; sale by a private individual; and the right of legal redemption. tender of payment;

The Court of Appeals ruled in this wise: 5. Damages and attorney's


fees. 5
The argument that the land involved is land of the public domain is
an issue being raised for the first time. Section 18, Rule 46 of the Evidently, the petitioners having admitted that respondent Nellie Manzano along
Revised Rules of Court (Sec. 15, Rule 44 of the 1997 Rules of Manzano along with her brothers and sisters were co-owners of the subject property;
Civil procedure) provides that the "appellant may include in his and that the former acquired it by sale from the brothers and sisters, banked on the
assignment of errors any question of law or fact that has been lapse of the prescriptive period to exercise the right of legal redemption and the
raised in the court below and which is within the issues framed by alleged knowledge and participation by respondent Nellie Manzano in the
the parties." It is well-settled that issues not raised and/or consummation of the sale including receipt of partial payment, as precluding her
ventilated in the lower court cannot be raised for the first time on from exercising said right. Petitioners cannot now be allowed to escape the adverse
appeal (Redodos v. WCC, 6 SCRA 7171, DBP v. CA, 116 SCRA effects of their defense by belatedly raising a new theory that the land is part of the
636, Galicia v. Polo, 179 SCRA 372). A look at the issues agreed public domain as this would be offensive to the fundamental tenets of fair play.
upon by the parties in the lower court (supra) readily shows that
the character of the land, whether of public domain or private
It is worthy of mention that:
ownership, is not among such issues.
A pre-trial is meant to serve as a device to clarify and narrow down
Besides, having purchased the land from the brothers and sisters of the basic issues between the parties, to ascertain the facts relative
the plaintiff-appellate, Rolando Tinio is now stopped from to those issues and to enable the parties to obtain the fullest
claiming that the latter had no rights over it. 4
possible knowledge of the issues and facts before civil trials and
thus prevent that said trial are carried on in the dark. Pre-trial is
We note that at the pre-trial of the case, the parties agreed among other matters that primarily intended to make certain that all issues necessary to the
"the plaintiff is co-owner in equal shares with her brothers Ernesto Manzano and disposition of a case are properly raised. Thus, to obviate the
Roland Manzano and sisters Pamela Manzano and Edna Manzano of the properties element of surprise, parties are expected to disclose at a pre-trial
enumerated in paragraph 2 of the second amended complainant"; and that "the co- conference all issues of law and fact which they intend to raise at
owners of the plaintiff sold their share of the properties in favor of Rolando Tinio." the trial, except such as may involve privileged or impeaching
matters. The determination of issues at a pre-trial conference bars
Likewise, the following issues were agreed upon during the pre-trial: the consideration of other questions on appeal. 6

1. Whether or not the plaintiff Further, the applicable and well-settled principle is that "a party is bound by the
can exercise her right of legal theory he adopts and by the cause of action he stands on and cannot be permitted
redemption of the properties of after having lost thereon to repudiate his theory and cause of action and adopt
her co-owner under Article another and seek to re-litigate the matter anew either in the same forum or on
1619 and 1620 of the New appeal." 7 This is in essence putting petitioners in estoppel to question the judgment.
Civil Code;
As for the question of jurisdiction, we agree with the appellate court that what is
2. Whether or not plaintiff's involved in this case is not jurisdiction to dispose public lands which is exclusively
right to redeem expired; vested with the Director of the Bureau of Lands, but the right of legal redemption
given to a co-owner of a parcel of land. Jurisdiction is determinable on the basis of
the allegations in the complaint. 8 The character of the land as being part of the
public domain could not be impliedly included nor could it be inferred, as contended Manzano in which she acknowledges receipt of P3,000.00 as part payment of the
by petitioners, on the first issue of "whether plaintiff can exercise her right of legal subject property. This is to support their argument that no legal redemption can be
redemption of the properties of her co-owners under Articles 1619 and 1620 of the exercised by respondent Manzano because she participated in the sale as vendor and
New Civil Code." Neither could statements and/or references in the pleadings and is therefore estopped.
subsequently in the judgments of the lower courts that "Rolando Tinio obtained a
Miscellaneous Sales Patent" over the subject property be sufficient to consider the Sec. 1, Rule 53 of the 1964 Rules of Court, as amended, reads:
issue as having been raised, or that such fact was already within the knowledge of
the courts which should have been adjudicated upon. Verily, herein petitioners as Sec. 1. Petition. — Before a final order or judgment rendered by
defendants in the court a quo stipulated on the co-ownership by the Manzano the Court of Appeals becomes executory, a motion for new trial
siblings and the acquisition by sale of the subject property from the raid co-owners.
may be filed on the ground of newly discovered evidence which
Now that petitioner Rolando Tinio had acquired a certificate of title of the subject
could not have been discovered prior to the trial in the court below
property in his name, the same has become private property beyond the control or
by the exercise of due diligence and which is of such a character as
jurisdiction of the Bureau of Lands. 9
would probably change the result. The motion shall be
accompanied by affidavits showing the facts constituting the
As regards the second ground, the issue as to whether Nellie Manzano was fully grounds therefor and the newly discovered evidence.
aware of the sale of the land is a factual matter. In this regard, the Court of Appeals
affirmed the following findings of the court a quo:
Instead of filing a motion for reconsideration and merely attaching thereto an alleged
"newly discovered evidence", petitioners should have filed a motion for new trial on
It is clear that the plaintiff was not apprised of the consummated the ground of newly discovered evidence in accordance with the aforequoted Rule 53
sale. In fact, she did not even know the actual vendee until after of the 1964 Rules of Court. 12 Petitioners failed to support their motion with
she filed the complaint. Concededly, the plaintiff was aware of the affidavits and to show compliance with the following requisites for newly discovered
negotiations for the sale of the properties by her co-owners for evidence as a ground for new trial: (a) the evidence was discovered and after the
which reason she asked the prospective vendees to wait for her trial; (b) such evidence could not have been discovered and produced at the trial with
arrival in order that they could talk about the sale. But her reasonable diligence; and (c) that it is material, not merely cumulative, corroborative
awareness of the intention to sell by her co-owners cannot take the or impeaching, and is of such weight that, if admitted ill probably change the
place of actual knowledge because it was not shown that she had judgment. 13
anything to do with the negotiations and the consummation of the
sale. On the contrary what was shown is that the defendants tried
Moreover, the Court of Appeals correctly pointed out that the letter-receipt does not
to conceal the sale and even attempted to deprive the plaintiff of identify the house and lot referred to therein, and that assuming it is signed by
her share in the property by causing the preparation of a falsified respondent Nellie Manzano, it does not show that she received P3,000.00 as payment
affidavit of assignment of rights and then obtain a sales patent and
for her share of the subject property, but the amount was to be given to Mrs. Edna M.
a certificate of title over the land to the exclusion of the plaintiff
Perez.
even though they knew very well that she did not sell her share of
the property to them. It was not only the right of the plaintiff to
redeem which the defendants suppressed but even her very right to In fine, we find no reversible error in the judgment appealed from.
the property. (pp. 38-39, Rollo). 10
WHEREFORE, the PETITION is DENIED for lack of merit.1âwphi1.nêt
It is axiomatic that only questions of law, not questions of fact, may be raised before
the Supreme Court in a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of SO ORDERED.
Court. 11 This Court can no longer be tasked to go over the proofs presented by the
petitioners in the lower courts and analyze, assess and weigh them to ascertain if the
court a quo and the appellate court were correct in their appreciation of the evidence.

As regards the third ground, petitioners fault the Court of Appeals for not admitting
the receipt attached to their motion for reconsideration filed before the same court as
"newly discovered evidence" — an alleged letter of private respondent Nellie
G.R. No. 71388 September 23, 1986 On August 19, 1983, Mr. E.R. Belen, Officer-in-Charge of the Regional Trial Court
of Makati, Branch 141, sent the following "NOTICE OF CASE STATUS" to the
MARIA MONSERRAT R. KOH, petitioner, parties through their respective lawyers.
vs.
HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, HON. JOB. B. G R E E T I N G S:
MADAYAG in his capacity as the Presiding Judge, of Branch CXLV, Regional
Trial Court of Makati, et al., respondents. Please take notice that cases where issues have been joined will be
scheduled for pre-trial conference only after Rules 24, 25, 26, 27,
Bito, Misa & Lozada Law Office for petitioner. 28, and 29-where applicable, necessary and or feasible have been
resorted to by the parties.
Fernandez, Oliva, Umali & Associates and Vicente C. Ramirez, Jr. for respondents.
If a party believes that those modes of discovery are not applicable,
necessary or feasible with respect to him, he shall file a
manifestation to that effect.
FERIA, J.:
The pre-trial conference, shall be scheduled as soon as the
The Court affirms the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court (now renamed respective manifestations of having resorted to, or of dispensing
with, those modes of discovery have been filed by the parties.
Court of Appeals) which dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner
against respondent Judge Job B. Madayag of the Regional Trial Court of Makati and
respondent First Interstate Bank of California. Petitioner sought to annul and set The party, who has dispensed with those modes of discovery shall
aside the order of respondent Judge denying her motion to dismiss the complaint be deemed to have waived resort thereto, and, unless for good
based on res adjudicata. cause shown, motion to resort thereto, after termination of the pre-
trial, shall not be grantee. The costs entailed the waiving party in
presenting evidence during trial that could have been obtained
On June 15, 1983, respondent Bank filed a Complaint against petitioner to recover
through any of those modes of discovery which were waived, shall
the sum of US-$7,434.90 or its equivalent in Philippine Currency which, due to a
not be assessed against the adverse party nor awarded as part of the
computer error, it had overpaid to her on October 8, 1981. The Complaint alleged
that on September 30, 1981, petitioner's father sent her US-$500.00 through the litigation expenses.
Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company which was the remitting bank of respondent
Bank. But due to computer mistake, respondent Bank's Los Angeles Office If, after 30 days from receipt of this notice, no such manifestation
erroneously overstated the amount to US-$8,500.00 instead of US-$500.00, and as a has been filed, the case shall be archived or dismissed as the case
consequence respondent Bank issued and delivered to petitioner Cashier Check No. may be.
1217681 amounting to US-$8,500.00 dated October 8, 1981 which petitioner
deposited to her account and subsequently withdrew. Upon Order of the Court, this 19th day of August 1983.

In her Answer dated August 17, 1983, petitioner admitted the above-stated Makati, Metro Manila.
allegations in the Complaint and alleged that immediately after receipt of a formal
demand letter to return the overpayment, she offered to pay respondent Bank through (SGD.) E.R. BELEN
its lawyer in installments of $100.00 a month but the offer was unreasonably
rejected.
Officer-in-Charge

It is significant to note that no copy of said Answer was attached to the petition for No manifestation was filed by the parties' lawyers. On November 29, 1983, the
certiorari filed by petitioner with the Intermediate Appellate Court, nor was any copy
presiding Judge (not respondent Judge), issued the following order:
thereof attached to the petition for review on certiorari filed with this Court. It was
only in the Comment of respondents' counsel filed with this Court that a copy of said
Answer was attached thereto.
For non-compliance with the Order (Notice of Case Status) dated 'If, after 30 days from receipt of this notice, no such manifestation
August 19, 1983, more particularly the last paragraph thereof, this has been filed, the case shall be archived or dismiss as the case
case is hereby dismissed. may be.'

This order was received by respondent Bank's counsel on December 28, 1983. was not an order of the court. It was a warning emanating from
E.R. Belen, the officer-in-charge (of civil cases). The failure of the
On July 4, 1984, respondent Bank, through a new counsel, refiled its complaint parties to heed the warning was not tantamount to disobedience of
which was assigned to Branch 143 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati presided a lawful order of the court, for the 'officer-in-charge' was not the
over by respondent Judge. Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the court or judge.
ground of res adjudicata, as well as a supplement thereto, which was opposed by
respondent Bank. Since the order of dismissal was null and void, it did not have the
force of a judgment. It did not constitute a bar to the refiling of the
On August 27, 1984, respondent Judge denied the motion to dismiss and on bank's complaint. Respondent Judge did not err, or abuse his
November 27, 1984, he denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration, on the discretion, in denying petitioner's motion to dismiss Civil Case No.
following grounds: 7765. (pp. 35-36, Record)

(1) The dismissal was too drastic and was tantamount to depriving the plaintiff of its Petitioner has appealed by certiorari to this Court. We are constrained to affirm
day in court. Indeed, with the admission in petitioner's Answer of the allegations in the Complaint
that due to computer error there was an overpayment to her of the amount of US-
$8,000.00, coupled with her offer to pay respondent Bank the amount of the
(2) Notwithstanding the failure of the parties in said case to comply with said notice
overpayment in installments of $100.00 a month, we cannot find any justification for
of case status (above quoted), the court (Branch 141) should have set the case for
ruling that the order dismissing the first complaint operated as an adjudication on the
pre-trial conference since the last pleading had been filed and there are no other
conditions to be complied with before any case is calendared for pre-trial under merits or constituted a bar to the second complaint. In fact, the trial court could have,
Section 1 of Rule 20. on motion, rendered a judgment on the pleadings in the first case in favor of
respondent Bank.
(3) It would be better for the defendant to have a definite and clear-cut decision as to
True it is that respondent Bank's counsel should have taken the precaution of
her liability or non-liability, instead of winning a case on a technicality.
complying with the instructions contained in the "NOTICE OF CASE STATUS" if
only to avoid the consequent delay resulting from non-compliance; that respondent
On May 8, 1985, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with the Intermediate Bank's counsel was negligent in not seeking a reconsideration or clarification of the
Appellate Court praying that the orders denying the motion to dismiss and the order of dismissal or appealing therefrom. But, fortunately for respondent Bank, the
motion for reconsideration be set aside as null and void and that the complaint be omissions of its counsel are not fatal to its cause in view of the defective procedure
ordered dismissed. On May 21, 1985, the appellate court, finding no merit to the which culminated in the dismissal of the first complaint.
petition, resolved not to give it due course. In its decision, the appellate court ruled
as follows:
The rules on discovery (Rules 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 of the Revised Rules of
Court) are intended to enable a party to obtain knowledge of material facts within the
We concur with the above reasoning of respondent Judge. We knowledge of the adverse party or of third parties through depositions to obtain
should add to that our observation that the order of dismissal of knowledge of material facts or admissions from the adverse party through written
Judge Elbiñas in Civil Case No. 4272 (Annex F) was null and void interrogatories; to obtain admissions from the adverse party regarding the
for lack of legal basis. The 'notice of case status' (Annex D) was genuineness of relevant documents or relevant matters of fact through requests for
not an order' of the court. I t was, as its title indicated, only a admission; to inspect relevant documents or objects and lands or other property in
'notice,' not an order. The warning in the last paragraph of the the possession or control of the adverse party; and to determine the physical or
notice advising the parties that- mental condition of a party when such is in controversy. This mutual discovery
enables a party to discover the evidence of the adverse party and thus facilitates an
amicable settlement or expedites the trial of the case. All the parties are required to 25, after proper service of such interrogatories, the Court on motion and notice may
lay their cards on the table so that justice can be rendered on the merits of the case. dismiss the action or render judgment by default.

Trial judges should, therefore, encourage the proper utilization of the rules on Petitioner further contends that if the ruling of the appellate court regarding the
discovery. However, recourse to discovery procedures is not mandatory. If the legality of the notice signed by the officer-in-charge were sustained, then court
parties do not choose to resort to such procedures, the pre-trial conference should be processes such as summons, notices of pre-trial, writs of execution and the like can
set pursuant to the mandatory provisions of Section 1 of Rule 20. be merely disregarded by lawyers. This contention is without merit. Section 1 of
Rule 14 expressly provides that upon the filing of the complaint, the clerk of court
Petitioner argues that respondent Judge was wrong in stating that a pre-trial order shall forthwith issue the corresponding summons to the defendant. Sections 1 and 5
should have been issued since the last pleading had been filed, because the "notice of of Rule 20 authorize the clerk of court to issue the notice of the date of the pre-trial
case status" was issued on August 19, 1983, while the last pleading or the answer to and Section 2 of Rule 22 authorizes the clerk of court to issue the notice of the date
petitioner's counterclaim was filed much later. Although, ordinarily, the last pleading of the trial. A writ of execution may be issued by the clerk of court pursuant to an
which has to be filed before the court shall set the case for pre-trial under Section 1 order of execution signed by the judge. There is no rule authorizing the issuance of
of Rule 20 is the answer to the counterclaim (Itchon vs. Baligod, 17 SCRA 268; the "notice of case status" in question signed by an officer-in-charge.
Pioneer Insurance & Surety Corp. vs. Hontanosas, 78 SCRA 447), in the case at bar,
petitioner's counterclaim for damages resulting from the filing of the complaint did WHEREFORE, the decision of the appellate court is affirmed, with costs against
not require an answer (Navarro vs. Bello, 102 Phil. 1019; Gojo vs. Goyola, 35 SCRA petitioner. This decision is immediately executory.
557). Since the counterclaim was the last pleading, the court should have issued a
pre-trial order after its submission and it was the duty of the clerk of court to place SO ORDERED.
the case in the pre-trial calendar under Section 5 of Rule 20.

Petitioner invokes the provisions of Section 3 of Rule 17 which reads as follows:

Failure to prosecute.-If plaintiff fails to appear at the time of the trial, or to prosecute
his action for an unreasonable length of time, or to comply with these rules or any
order of the court, the action may be dismissed upon motion of the defendant or upon
the court's own motion. This dismissal shall have the effect of an adjudication upon
the merits, unless otherwise provided by court.

This provision is not applicable to the case at bar. As the appellate court correctly
held, the "notice of case status" was not an order of the court. It was signed by Mr.
E.R. Belen, officer-in-charge. Even the warning in the notice (that if no such
manifestation has been filed after 30 days from receipt the case shall be archived or
dismissed as the case may be) was ambiguous. The failure of the parties to heed the
warning did not constitute disobedience of a lawful order of the court. Consequently,
the order of dismissal could not have the effect of an adjudication upon the merits.
Neither could respondent Bank be considered to have failed to prosecute its action
for an unreasonable length of time, inasmuch as petitioner's Answer was dated
August 17, 1983 and the order of dismissal was dated November 29, 1983.

Petitioner cites the case of Arellano vs. Court of First Instance of Sorsogon (65
SCRA 45) in support of her stand. However, in said case, the Court upheld the order
of dismissal for failure of respondent Barreta to serve any answer to petitioner
Arellano's interrogatories. The dismissal was based on Section 5 of Rule 29 which
provides that if a party fails to serve answers to interrogatories submitted under Rule
G.R. No. 108229 August 24, 1993 The motion was opposed by Dasmariñas. It contended that (a) the motion was
"fatally defective in that it does not seek . . . that a foreign court examine a person
DASMARIÑAS GARMENTS, INC., petitioner, within its jurisdiction;" (b) issuance of letters rogatory was unnecessary because the
vs. witnesses "can be examined before the Philippine Court;" and
HON. RUBEN T. REYES, Judge, Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 50, and (c) the Rules of Court "expressly require that the testimony of a witness must be
AMERICAN PRESIDENT LINES, LTD., respondents. taken orally in open court and not by deposition."

Sobreviñas, Diaz, Haudini & Bodegon Law Offices for petitioner. Extensive argument on the matter thereafter followed, through various pleadings
filed by the parties, in the course of which APL submitted to the Trial Court (a) the
letter received by its counsel from Director Joaquin R. Roces of the Asian Exchange
Tan, Manzano & Velez Law Offices for private respondent.
Center, Inc., dated November 20, 1989, advising that "this Office can only take
deposition upon previous authority from the Department of Foreign Affairs," this
being "in consonance with the Supreme Court Administrative Order requiring courts
or judicial bodies to course their requests through the Department of Foreign
RESOLUTION Affairs;" and (b) a letter sent by "fax" to the same counsel by a law firm in Taipei,
Lin & Associates Maritime Law Office, transmitting information inter alia of the
NARVASA, C.J.: mode by which, under the "ROC Civil Procedure Code," "a copy or an abridged
copy" of documents on file with a Taiwan Court may be obtained.
Sometime in September, 1987, in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, the American
President Lines, Ltd. sued Dasmariñas Garments, Inc. to recover the sum of US By Order dated March 15, 1991, the Trial Court resolved the incident in favor of
$53,228.45 as well as an amount equivalent to twenty-five percent (25%) thereof as APL, disposing as follows:
attorney's fees and litigation expenses.
ACCORDINGLY, the motion to take testimonies of plaintiff's
In its answer dated December 1, 1987, Dasmariñas Garments, Inc. (hereafter, simply Taiwanese witnesses, Kenneth H. Lee and Yeong Fah Yeh, by
Dasmariñas) specifically denied any liability to the plaintiff (hereafter simply APL), deposition (upon written interrogatories) is hereby GRANTED.
and set up compulsory counterclaims against it. The Asian Exchange Center, Inc. thru Director Joaquin R. Roces is
hereby COMMISSIONED to take down the deposition.
The case was in due course scheduled for trial on April 27, 1988. On that date APL Compliance with the Rules on the taking of testimony by
presented its first witness whose testimony was completed on November 12, 1988. deposition upon written interrogatories under Sections 25-29 of
The case was reset to May 3, 1989 for reception of the testimony of two (2) more Rule 24, Rules of Court is enjoined.
witnesses in APL's behalf.
Let this Order be coursed through the Department of Foreign
At the hearing of May 3, 1989, instead of presenting its witnesses, APL filed a Affairs, Manila, pursuant to Supreme Court Administrative
motion praying that it intended to take the depositions of H. Lee and Yeong Fang Circular No. 4 dated April 6, 1987.
Yeh in Taipei, Taiwan and prayed that for this purpose, a "commission or letters
rogatory be issued addressed to the consul, vice-consul or consular agent of the The Court opined that "the Asian Exchange Center, Inc. being the authorized
Republic of the Philippines in Taipei . . . " Five (5) days later APL filed an amended Philippine representative in Taiwan, may take the testimonies of plaintiff's witnesses
motion stating that since the Philippine Government has no consulate office in residing there by deposition, but only upon written interrogatories so as to give
Taiwan in view of its "one China policy," there being in lieu thereof an office set up defendant the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses by serving cross-
by the President "presently occupied by Director Joaquin Roces which is the Asia examination."
Exchange Center, Inc.," it was necessary — and it therefore prayed — "that
commission or letters rogatory be issued addressed to Director Joaquin Roces, Dasmariñas sought reconsideration by motion filed June 25, 1991 on the following
Executive Director, Asian Executive Exchange Center, Inc., Room 901, 112 grounds: (1) authority of the Asian Exchange Center, Inc. (AECI) to take depositions
Chunghsiao, E. Road, Section 1, Taipe, Republic of China, to hear and take the oral has not been established, it not being one of those so authorized by the Rules of
deposition of the aforenamed persons . . . ." Court to take depositions in a foreign state; (2) AECI's articles of incorporation show
that it is not vested with any such authority; (3) to permit deposition-taking by b) no urgent or compelling reason has been
commission without the authority of the foreign state in which deposition is taken shown to justify the departure from the accepted
constitutes infringement of judicial sovereignty; and (4) depositions by written and usual judicial proceedings of examining
interrogatories have inherent limitations and are not suitable to matters dependent on witnesses in open court where their demeanor
the credibility of witnesses; oral testimony in open court remains the "most could be observed by the trial judge;"
satisfactory method of investigation of facts'" and "'affords the greatest protection to
the rights and liberties of citizens." 2) "in disregarding the inherently unfair situation in allowing
private respondent, a foreign entity suing in the Philippines, to
By Order dated July 5, 1991, the motion for reconsideration was denied because present its evidence by mere deposition of its witnesses away from
"filed out of time" and being a mere rehash of arguments already passed upon. In the the 'penetrating scrutiny' of the trial Judge while petitioner is
same Order, APL was directed "to take the necessary steps to implement the order obligated to bring and present its witnesses in open court subject to
authorizing the . . . (deposition-taking) of its witnesses not later than the end of this the prying eyes and probing questions of the Judge;" and
month, otherwise the Court will consider inaction or lack of interest as waiver to
adduce additional evidence by deposition." 3) "in sanctioning the deposition taking of . . . (APL's) witnesses in
Taipei, Taiwan, a foreign jurisdiction not recognized by the
Dasmariñas instituted a special civil action of certiorari in the Court of Appeals to Philippines in view of its 'one-China policy,' before the AECI, a
nullify the orders of the Trial Court just described. Said Appellate Court restrained private entity not authorized by law to take depositions."
enforcement of the orders of March 15, 1991 and July 5, 1991 "in order to maintain
the status quo and to prevent the infliction of irreparable damage and injury upon the Depositions are chiefly a mode of discovery. They are intended as a means to compel
petitioner." disclosure of facts resting in the knowledge of a party or other person which are
relevant in some suit or proceeding in court. Depositions, and the other modes of
After due proceedings, the Court of Appeals (Third Division) rendered judgment on discovery (interrogatories to parties; requests for admission by adverse party;
September 23, 1992 denying Dasmariñas petition for certiorari and upholding the production or inspection of documents or things; physical and mental examination of
challenged orders of the Trial Court. Once again, Dasmariñas sought reconsideration persons) are meant to enable a party to learn all the material and relevant facts, not
of an adverse disposition, and once again, was rebuffed. Its motion for only known to him and his witnesses but also those known to the adverse party and
reconsideration was denied in a Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated December the latter's own witnesses. In fine, the object of discovery is to make it possible for
11, 1992. all the parties to a case to learn all the material and relevant facts, from whoever may
have knowledge thereof, to the end that their pleadings or motions may not suffer
Once again Dasmariñas has availed of the remedy of appeal. It has come to this from inadequacy of factual foundation, and all the relevant facts may be clearly and
Court and prays for the reversal of the Appellate Court's Decision of September 23, completely laid before the Court, without omission or suppression.
1992 and Resolution dated December 11, 1992. Once again, it will fail.
Depositions are principally made available by law to the parties as a means of
Dasmariñas ascribes to the Court of Appeals the following errors, to wit: informing themselves of all the relevant facts; they are not therefore generally meant
to be a substitute for the actual testimony in open court of a party or witness. The
deponent must as a rule be presented for oral examination in open court at the trial or
1) "in holding that a party could, during the trial of the case,
hearing. This is a requirement of the rules of evidence. Section 1, Rule 132 of the
present its evidence by taking the deposition of its witnesses in a
Rules of Court provides:
foreign jurisdiction before a private entity not authorized by law to
take depositions in lieu of their oral examination in open Court
considering that: Sec. 1. Examination to be done in open court. — The examination
of witnesses presented in a trial or hearing shall be done in open
court, and under oath or affirmation. Unless the witness is
a) the taking of deposition is a mode of pretrial
incapacitated to speak, or the question calls for a different mode of
discovery to be availed of before the action
answer, the answers of the witness shall be given orally.
comes to trial;
Indeed, any deposition offered to prove the facts therein set out during a trial or (d) If only part of a deposition is offered in evidence by a party, the
hearing, in lieu of the actual oral testimony of the deponent in open court, may be adverse party may require him to introduce all of it which is
opposed and excluded on the ground that it is hearsay; the party against whom it is relevant to the part introduced, and any party may introduce any
offered has no opportunity to cross-examine the deponent at the time that his other parts.
testimony is offered. It matters not that that opportunity for cross-examination was
afforded during the taking of the deposition; for normally, the opportunity for cross- The principle conceding admissibility to a deposition when the deponent is dead, out
examination must be accorded a party at the time that the testimonial evidence is of the Philippines, or otherwise unable to come to court to testify, is consistent with
actually presented against him during the trial or hearing. another rule of evidence, found in Section 47, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

However, depositions may be used without the deponent being actually called to the Sec. 47. Testimony or deposition at a former proceeding. — The
witness stand by the proponent, under certain conditions and for certain limited testimony or deposition of a witness deceased or unable to testify,
purposes. These exceptional situations are governed by Section 4, Rule 24 of the given in a former case or proceeding, judicial or administrative,
Rules of Court. involving the same parties and subject matter, may be given in
evidence against the adverse party who had the opportunity to
Sec. 4. Use of depositions. — At the trial or upon the hearing of a cross-examine him.
motion of an interlocutory proceeding, any part or all of a
deposition, so far as admissible under the rules of evidence, may It is apparent then that the deposition of any person may be taken wherever he may
be used against any party who was present or represented at the be, in the Philippines or abroad. If the party or witness is in the Philippines, his
taking of the deposition or who had due notice thereof, in deposition "shall be taken before any judge, municipal or notary public" (Sec. 10,
accordance with any of the following provisions: Rule 24, Rules of Court). If in a foreign state or country, the deposition "shall be
taken: (a) on notice before a secretary or embassy or legation, consul general, consul,
(a) Any deposition may be used by any party for the purpose of vice-consul, or consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines, or (b) before such
contradicting or impeaching the testimony of deponent as a person or officer as may be appointed by commission or under letters rogatory" (Sec.
witness; 11, Rule 24).

(b) The deposition of a party or of any one who at the time of Leave of court is not necessary where the deposition is to be taken before "a
taking the deposition was an officer, director, or managing agent of secretary or embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice-consul, or consular
a public or private corporation, partnership, or association which is agent of the Republic of the Philippines," and the defendant's answer has already
a party may be used by an adverse party for any purpose; been served (Sec. 1 Rule 24). After answer, whether the deposition-taking is to be
accomplished within the Philippines or outside, the law does not authorize or
(c) The deposition of a witness, whether or not a party, may be contemplate any intervention by the court in the process, all that is required being
used by any party for any purpose if the court finds: (1) that the that "reasonable notice" be given "in writing to every other party to the action . . .
witness is dead; or (2) that the witness if out of the province and at (stating) the time and place for taking the deposition and the name and address of
a greater distance than fifty (50) kilometers from the place of trial each person to be examined, if known, and if the name is not known, a general
or hearing, or is out of the Philippines, unless it appears that his description sufficient to identify him or the particular class or group to which he
absence was procured by the party offering the deposition; or (3) belongs. . . . " (Sec. 15, Rule 24). The court intervenes in the process only if a party
that the witness is unable to attend to testify because of age, moves (1) to "enlarge or shorten the time" stated in the notice (id.), or (2) "upon
sickness, infirmity, or imprisonment; or (4) that the party offering notice and for good cause shown," to prevent the deposition-taking, or impose
the deposition has been unable to procure the attendance of the conditions therefor, e.g., that "certain matters shall not be inquired into" or that the
witness by subpoena; or (5) upon application and notice, that such taking be "held with no one present except the parties to the action and their officers
exceptional circumstances exist as to make it desirable, in the or counsel," etc. (Sec. 16, Rule 24), or
interest of justice and with due regard to the importance of (3) to terminate the process on motion and upon a showing that "it is being
presenting the testimony of witnesses orally in open court, to allow conducted in bad faith or in such manner as unreasonably to annoy, embarrass, or
the deposition to be used; oppress the deponent or party" (Sec 18, Rule 24).
Where the deposition is to be taken in a foreign country where the Philippines has no In the case at bar, the Regional Trial Court has issued a commission to the "Asian
"secretary or embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice-consul, or consular Exchange Center, Inc. thru Director Joaquin R. Roces" "to take the testimonies of . . .
agent," then obviously it may be taken only "before such person or officer as may be Kenneth H. Lee and Yeong Fah Yeh, by deposition (upon written interrogatories) . . .
appointed by commission or under letters rogatory. Section 12, Rule 24 provides as ." It appears that said Center may, "upon request and authority of the Ministry (now
follows: Department) of Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Philippines" issue a "Certificate of
Authentications" attesting to the identity and authority of Notaries Public and other
Sec. 12. Commission or letters rogatory. — A commission or public officers of the Republic of China, Taiwan (eg., the Section Chief, Department
letters rogatory shall be issued only when necessary or convenient, of Consular Affairs of the latter's Ministry of Foreign Affairs) (Annex B of Annex N
on application and notice, and on such terms and with such of the petition for review on certiorari) — a prima facie showing not rebutted by
directions as are just and appropriate. Officers may be designated petitioner.
in notices or commissions either by name or descriptive title and
letters rogatory may be addressed "To the Appropriate Judicial It further appears that the commission is to be coursed through the Department of
Authority in (here name the country)." Foreign Affairs conformably with Circular No. 4 issued by Chief Justice Claudio
Teehankee on April 6, 1987, pursuant to the suggestion of the Department of Foreign
A commission may be defined as "(a)n instrument issued by a court of justice, or Affairs — directing "ALL JUDGES OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS,
other competent tribunal, to authorize a person to take depositions, or do any other METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS IN CITIES,
act by authority of such court or tribunal" (Feria, J., Civil Procedure, 1969 ed., p. MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS AND MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS"
415, citing Cyclopedic Law Dictionary, p. 200). Letters rogatory, on the other hand, "to course all requests for the taking of deposition of witnesses residing abroad
may be defined as "(a)n instrument sent in the name and by the authority of a judge through the Department of Foreign Affairs" to enable it and "the Philippine Foreign
or court to another, requesting the latter to cause to be examined, upon Service establishments to act on the matter in a judicious and expeditious manner;"
interrogatories filed in a cause pending before the former, a witness who is within the this, "in the interest of justice," and to avoid delay in the deposition-taking.
jurisdiction of the judge or court to whom such letters are addressed" (Feria, J., op.
cit., citing Cyclopedic Law Dictionary, p. 653). Section 12, Rule 24 just quoted Petitioner would however prevent the carrying out of the commission on various
states that a commission is addressed to "officers . . . designated . . . either by name grounds.
or descriptive title," while letters rogatory are addressed to some "appropriate
judicial authority in the foreign state." Noteworthy in this connection is the The first is that the deposition-taking will take place in "a foreign jurisdiction not
indication in the Rules that letters rogatory may be applied for and issued only after a recognized by the Philippines in view of its 'one-China policy.'" This is
commission has been "returned unexecuted" as is apparent from Form 21 of the inconsequential. What matters is that the deposition is taken before a Philippine
"Judicial Standard Forms" appended to the Rules of Court, which requires the official acting by authority of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and in
inclusion in a "petition for letters rogatory" of the following paragraph, viz.: virtue of a commission duly issued by the Philippine Court in which the action is
pending, and in accordance, moreover, with the provisions of the Philippine Rules of
xxx xxx xxx Court pursuant to which opportunity for cross-examination of the deponent will be
fully accorded to the adverse party.
3. A commission issued by this Court on the ______ day of
______, 19__, to take the testimony of (here name the witness or Dasmariñas also contends that the "taking of deposition is a mode of pretrial
witnesses) in (here name the foreign country in which the discovery to be availed of before the action comes to trial." Not so. Depositions may
testimony is to be taken), before _________________ (name of be taken at any time after the institution of any action, whenever necessary or
officer), was returned unexecuted by __________________ on the convenient. There is no rule that limits deposition-taking only to the period of pre-
ground that ____________, all of which more fully appears from trial or before it; no prohibition against the taking of depositions after pre-trial.
the certificate of said __________ to said commission and made a Indeed, the law authorizes the taking of depositions of witnesses before or after an
part hereof by attaching it hereto (or state other facts to show appeal is taken from the judgment of a Regional Trial Court "to perpetuate their
commission is inadequate or cannot be executed) (emphasis testimony for use in the event of further proceedings in the said court" (Rule 134,
supplied). Rules of Court), and even during the process of execution of a final and executory
judgment (East Asiatic Co. v. C.I.R., 40 SCRA 521, 544).
Dasmariñas further claims that the taking of deposition under the circumstances is a Trial Court reached this conclusion because, as the record discloses, the motion for
"departure from the accepted and usual judicial proceedings of examining witnesses reconsideration was filed by Dasmariñas on June 25, 1991, twenty-five (25) days
in open court where the demeanor could be observed by the trial judge;" that it is after notice (on May 20, 1991) of the Order of March 15, 1991 sought to be
"inherently unfair" to allow APL, "a foreign entity suing in the Philippines, to reconsidered. Denial of the motion on such a ground is incorrect. In the first place, it
present its evidence by mere deposition of its witnesses away from the 'penetrating appears that there was a motion for extension of time to file a motion for
scrutiny' of the trial Judge while petitioner is obligated to bring and present its reconsideration, ending on June 25, 1991 which was however not acted on or granted
witnesses in open court subject to the prying eyes and probing questions of the by the Court. More importantly, the order sought to be reconsidered is
Judge." an interlocutory order, in respect of which there is no provision of law fixing the
time within which reconsideration thereof should be sought.
Of course the deposition-taking in the case at bar is a "departure from the accepted
and usual judicial proceedings of examining witnesses in open court where their PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Court Resolved to DISMISS the petition for review
demeanor could be observed by the trial judge;" but the procedure is not on that on certiorari. Costs against petitioner.
account rendered illegal nor is the deposition thereby taken, inadmissible. It precisely
falls within one of the exceptions where the law permits such a situation, i.e., the use SO ORDERED.
of deposition in lieu of the actual appearance and testimony of the deponent in open
court and without being "subject to the prying eyes and probing questions of the
Judge." This is allowed provided the deposition is taken in accordance with the
applicable provisions of the Rules of Court and the existence of any of the
exceptions for its admissibility — e.g., "that the witness if out of the province and at
a greater distance than fifty (50) kilometers from the place of trial or hearing, or
is out of the Philippines, unless it appears that his absence was procured by the party
offering the deposition; or . . . that the witness is unable to attend to testify because
of age, sickness, infirmity, or imprisonment, etc." (Sec. 4 Rule 24, supra, emphasis
supplied) — is first satisfactorily established (See Lopez v. Maceren, 95 Phil. 754).

The Regional Trial Court saw fit to permit the taking of the depositions of the
witnesses in question only by written interrogatories, removing the proponent's
option to take them by oral examination, i.e., by going to Taipei and actually
questioning the witnesses verbally with the questions and answers and observations
of the parties being recorded stenographically. The imposition of such a limitation,
and the determination of the cause thereof, are to be sure within the Court's
discretion. The ostensible reason given by the Trial Court for the condition — that
the deposition be taken "only upon written interrogatories" — is "so as to give
defendant (Dasmariñas) the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses by serving
cross-interrogatories." The statement implies that opportunity to cross-examine will
not be accorded the defendant if the depositions were to be taken upon oral
examination, which, of course, is not true. For even if the depositions were to be
taken on oral examination in Taipei, the adverse party is still accorded full right to
cross-examine the deponents by the law, either by proceeding to Taipei and there
conducting the cross-examination orally, or opting to conduct said cross-examination
merely by serving cross-interrogatories.

One other word. In its Order of July 5, 1991 — denying Dasmariñas motion for
reconsideration of the earlier order dated March 15, 1991 (allowing the taking of
deposition by commission) — one of the reasons adduced by the Regional Trial
Court for the denial was that the motion had been "filed out of time." Evidently, the
G.R. No. 158857 November 11, 2005 Rodrigo filed a petition for the issuance of letters rogatory in order to get the
depositions of several witnesses residing abroad.6 Petitioners, on the other hand,
PFEGER R. DULAY, GODOFREDO S. DULAY, SR., ROWENA R. DULAY, moved to be allowed to file cross-examination questions to respondent’s written
ENDZELIUS R. DULAY, GODOFREDO R. DULAY, JR., JIMPSEY R. interrogatories, which the trial court granted.7 In an order dated 1 December 1999,
DULAY, SHERYL R. DULAY, FLORDELIZA R. DULAY, BENITA R. the trial court stated:
DULAY, and MARICOR L. DULAY, represented by their Attorney-In-Fact,
PFEGER R. DULAY, Petitioners, These are petitions for letters Rogatory dated November 11, 1999 and November 22,
vs. 1999 respectively praying that this Court order the Clerk of Court to issue any order
RODRIGO S. DULAY, Respondent. requiring the Clerk of Court in Boston Ma., USA to conduct the examination of the
following parties:
DECISION
1. Mr. Rodrigo S. Dulay of 38 Claremont St. Malden, Ma., USA, and
Tinga, J.:
2. Manager or authorized representative of the Bank of Boston, Ma., USA and for
1
The instant petition seeks the review of the Decision dated 30 May the above-named persons to answer the attached questions (direct and cross) attached
2002 and Resolution2 dated 28 May 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP to each petition, and for the Clerk of Court of Boston to forward the same questions
No. 66993 entitled "Pfeger R. Dulay v. Hon. Alicia B. Gonzales-Decano, etc. and and answers as soon as the same were already properly answered.
Rodrigo S. Dulay."
SO ORDERED.8
In a complaint3 for recovery of his bank deposit with prayer for a writ of attachment
and damages, Rodrigo S. Dulay, a naturalized American citizen, alleged that upon Meanwhile, petitioners filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground of
his petition sometime in October of 1996, his brother Godofredo S. Dulay, Sr. and failure to prosecute.9 This was however denied by the trial court, which instead
nephew Pfeger R. Dulay immigrated to the United States of America. The two stayed allowed Rodrigo to complete his depositions.10 As it turned out, however, the
with him in his house at Claremont, Massachusetts. Godofredo, however, decided to depositions could not be taken before the Clerk of Court of Massachusetts, but were
return to the Philippines because he could not endure the weather. Pfeger stayed taken instead before a notary public in New York.
behind to take care of Rodrigo. Having nurtured affection, love and trust for his
nephew Pfeger, Rodrigo opened a trust account with the Bank of Boston on 27 On 2 February 2000, Rodrigo submitted to the trial court his answers to the
January 1997 with a deposit of Two Hundred Thirty Thousand U.S. Dollars interrogatories and cross interrogatories of petitioners given before a notary public in
($230,000.00), naming Pfeger as trustee thereof. Five months later, Pfeger left the United States. Thereafter, petitioners filed their Motion Reiterating Motion to
Rodrigo’s house allegedly to join his girlfriend in California. Rodrigo learned only Dismiss Dated July 10, 2000,11 which the trial court denied in its 28 September
later that Pfeger actually went back to the Philippines. Pfeger returned to the United 2000 Order.12 In the same Order, the trial court directed respondent to have the
States in November of 1997, but after a brief stay returned again to the Philippines written and cross interrogatories taken by the notary public authenticated by the
where he went on a spending binge. Upon knowing this, Rodrigo verified the status consulate. Thus, respondent filed a motion to withdraw the answers so that he could
of his account with the Bank of Boston, and to his shock and dismay discovered that have them authenticated by a Philippine consul in the United States.13
Pfeger had already emptied the account. Rodrigo additionally claimed that Pfeger
used the money from said account to buy several vehicles, loan money to several
On 10 January 2001, petitioners filed an Omnibus Motion,14 praying that the written
people, open bank accounts for his siblings, and buy a house and lot and jewelry for
interrogatories be declared inadmissible and reiterating their prayer for the dismissal
his wife. Whatever was left of the account was allegedly transferred to Pfeger’s of the complaint. The lower court denied the motion on 20 February 2001, at the
father, Godofredo.4 same time directing the archival of the case while waiting for the documents from
the United States.15 According to the trial court, the dismissal of the case is improper
Denying the accusations, respondent claimed that the money deposited in the name considering that Rodrigo had already commenced presenting his evidence and that it
of Pfeger was his own money and not Rodrigo’s. They assailed the admissibility of is mandated to hear the evidence on the counterclaims of the petitioners. Anent the
the Statement of Account and the supporting Affidavit attached to the Complaint. objection to the admission of the answers to the written interrogatories, the trial court
For his part, Pfeger asserted that he spent his own money.5 stated that the deposition taken before the Notary Public from New York, whose
authority was duly certified by the Philippine Consul in New York, substantially
complied with the Rules of Court.16 Thus, on 31 August 2001, the trial court ordered follow the directive since the Clerk of Court of Boston merely brushed it aside and
the admission of the assailed documents. Petitioners moved for the reconsideration refused to cooperate. Respondent cannot be faulted for the resultant delay brought
of the order but the motion was denied.17 about by this circumstance. Neither can the trial court be faulted for allowing the
admission of the depositions taken not in strict adherence to its original directive, nor
Imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial judge, petitioners filed for directing the petitioner to have the depositions authenticated. Obviously, it was
before the Court of Appeals an original action for certiorari on 7 October 2001. The not within the trial court’s power, much less the respondent’s to force the Clerk of
appellate court dismissed the petition, finding that the questioned depositions were Court of Boston to have the deposition taken before it. It would be illogical and
accomplished in substantial compliance with the Rules of Court. 18 According to the unreasonable to expect respondent to comply with the letters rogatory without the
Court of Appeals, Rodrigo could not be faulted for the incidental delays in the cooperation of the very institution or personality named in the letters rogatory and
proceedings, which were after all caused by the refusal of the American tribunal requested to examine the witnesses. After all, while a court had the authority to
which brushed aside the letters rogatory issued by the trial court. Putting premium on entertain a discovery request, it is not required to provide judicial assistance
merit rather than on technicality, the Court of Appeals held that "laxity in the thereto.26 This reality was recognized by the trial court when it ordered respondent to
application of the procedure is not have the questioned depositions authenticated by the Philippine consulate. Indeed,
refusing the allowance of the depositions in issue would be going directly against the
tantamount to laxity in the rendition of justice when equitable circumstances exist to purpose of taking the depositions in the first place, that is, the disclosure of facts
which are relevant to the proceedings in court.
warrant the same."19Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration to no avail as it
was denied by the Court of Appeals.20
More importantly, the Court finds that respondent substantially complied with the
In the present petition for review, petitioners argue that the Court of Appeals erred requirements for depositions taken in foreign countries.
when it refused to dismiss the case at the trial court level despite respondent’s failure
to prosecute his case with reasonable diligence. According to petitioners, the major In our jurisdiction, depositions in foreign countries may be taken: (a) on notice
delays in the litigation of the case were caused by respondent’s failure to send on before a secretary of embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice consul, or
time the needed documents to the trial court.21 In addition, petitioners allege that consular agent of the Republic of the Philippines; (b) before such person or officer as
contrary to the ruling of the Court of Appeals the documents submitted by may be appointed by commission or under letters rogatory; or (c) before any person
respondent were not taken in substantial compliance with the directive of the trial authorized to administer oaths as stipulated in writing by the parties. 27 While letters
court itself but in violation of Sections 11, 12, and 14, Rule 23 of the Rules of rogatory are requests to foreign tribunals, commissions are directives to officials of
Court.22 the issuing jurisdiction.28

The Court is not persuaded. Generally, a commission is an instrument issued by a court of justice, or other
competent tribunal, directed to a magistrate by his official designation or to an
individual by name, authorizing him to take the depositions of the witnesses named
Deposition is chiefly a mode of discovery, the primary function of which is to
therein, while a letter rogatory is a request to a foreign court to give its aid, backed
supplement the pleadings for the purpose of disclosing the real points of dispute
by its
between the parties and affording an adequate factual basis during the preparation for
trial. It may be taken with leave of court after jurisdiction has been obtained over any
defendant or over property that is the subject of the action; or, without such leave, power, to secure desired information.29 Commissions are taken in accordance with
after an answer has been served. A party’s right to avail itself of this procedure is the rules laid down by the court issuing the commission, while in letters rogatory, the
"well-nigh unrestricted" if the matters inquired into are otherwise relevant and not methods of procedure are under the control of the foreign tribunal. 30
privileged, and the inquiry is made in good faith and within the bounds of the
law. 23 Nevertheless, the use of discovery procedures is directed to the sound Leave of court is not required when the deposition is to be taken before a secretary of
discretion of the trial courts,24 which, in general, are given wide latitude in granting embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice-consul or consular agent of the
motions for discovery in order to enable the parties to prepare for trial or otherwise Republic of the Philippines and the defendant’s answer has already been
to settle the controversy prior thereto.25 served.31 However, if the deposition is to be taken in a foreign country where the
Philippines has no secretary of embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice-
While the letters rogatory issued by the trial court specifically directed the Clerk of consul or consular agent, it may be taken only before such person or officer as may
Court of Boston to take the depositions needed in the case, it became impossible to be appointed by commission or under letters rogatory. 32
In the instant case, the authentication made by the consul was a ratification of the
authority of the notary public who took the questioned depositions. The deposition
was, in effect, obtained through a commission, and no longer through letters
rogatory. It must be noted that this move was even sanctioned by the trial court by
virtue of its Orderdated 28 September 2000.33 With the ratification of the depositions
in issue, there is no more impediment to their admissibility.

Besides, the allowance of the deposition can not be said to have caused any prejudice
to the adverse party. They were given the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses
through their cross-interrogatories, which were in turn answered by the deponents.
Save for the complaint of delay in the proceedings, petitioners were unable to point
out any injury they suffered as a result of the trial court’s action.

The ends of justice are reached not only through the speedy disposal of cases, but
more importantly, through a meticulous and comprehensive evaluation of the merits
of the case. The parties’ right to be given full opportunity to ventilate their cases
should not be hindered by a strict adherence to technicalities. After all, as this Court
has so often enunciated, rules of procedure are not inflexible tools designed to hinder
or delay, but to facilitate and promote the administration of justice. 34 A strict and
rigid application of rules, resulting in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than
promote substantial justice, must be avoided.35

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. Costs against


petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 185145 February 5, 2014 NOTICE

SPOUSES VICENTE AFULUGENCIA and LETICIA The Branch Clerk of Court


AFULUGENCIA, Petitioners, Regional Trial Court
vs. Branch 7, Malolos, Bulacan
METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST CO. and EMMANUEL L. ORTEGA,
Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff, Province of Greetings:
Bulacan, Respondents.
Please submit the foregoing motion for the consideration and approval of the Hon.
DECISION Court immediately upon receipt hereof.

DEL CASTILLO, J.: (signed)


Vicente C. Angeles9
Section 6,1 Rule 25 of the Rules of Court (Rules) provides that "a party not served
with written interrogatories may not be compelled by the adverse party to give Metrobank filed an Opposition10 arguing that for lack of a proper notice of hearing,
testimony in open court, or to give a deposition pending appeal." The provision seeks the Motion must be denied; that being a litigated motion, the failure of petitioners to
to prevent fishing expeditions and needless delays. Its goal is to maintain order and set a date and time for the hearing renders the Motion ineffective and pro forma; that
facilitate the conduct of trial. pursuant to Sections 1 and 611 of Rule 25 of the Rules, Metrobank’s officers – who
are considered adverse parties – may not be compelled to appear and testify in court
Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari2 are the April 15, 2008 for the petitioners since they were not initially served with written interrogatories;
Decision3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 99535 which dismissed that petitioners have not shown the materiality and relevance of the documents
petitioners' Petition for Certiorari for lack of merit and its October 2, 2008 sought to be produced in court; and that petitioners were merely fishing for evidence.
Resolution4 denying petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration. 5
Petitioners submitted a Reply12 to Metrobank’s Opposition, stating that the lack of a
Factual Antecedents proper notice of hearing was cured by the filing of Metrobank’s Opposition; that
applying the principle of liberality, the defect may be ignored; that leave of court is
Petitioners, spouses Vicente and Leticia Afulugencia, filed a Complaint6 for not necessary for the taking of Metrobank’s officers’ depositions; that for their case,
nullification of mortgage, foreclosure, auction sale, certificate of sale and other the issuance of a subpoena is not unreasonable and oppressive, but instead favorable
documents, with damages, against respondents Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. to Metrobank, since it will present the testimony of these officers just the same
(Metrobank) and Emmanuel L. Ortega (Ortega) before the Regional Trial Court during the presentation of its own evidence; that the documents sought to be
(RTC) of Malolos City, where it was docketed as Civil Case No. 336-M-2004 and produced are relevant and will prove whether petitioners have paid their obligations
assigned to Branch 7. to Metrobank in full, and will settle the issue relative to the validity or invalidity of
the foreclosure proceedings; and that the Rules do not prohibit a party from
presenting the adverse party as its own witness.
Metrobank is a domestic banking corporation existing under Philippine laws, while
Ortega is the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff of the Malolos RTC.
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
After the filing of the parties’ pleadings and with the conclusion of pre-trial,
petitioners filed a Motion for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum Ad On October 19, 2006, the trial court issued an Order13 denying petitioners’ Motion
Testificandum7 to require Metrobank’s officers8 to appear and testify as the for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum Ad Testificandum, thus:
petitioners’ initial witnesses during the August 31, 2006 hearing for the presentation
of their evidence-in-chief, and to bring the documents relative to their loan with The motion lacks merit.
Metrobank, as well as those covering the extrajudicial foreclosure and sale of
petitioners’ 200-square meter land in Meycauayan, Bulacan covered by Transfer As pointed out by the defendant bank in its opposition, the motion under
Certificate of Title No. 20411 (M). The Motion contained a notice of hearing written consideration is a mere scrap of paper by reason of its failure to comply with the
as follows:
requirements for a valid notice of hearing as specified in Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 Ruling of the Court of Appeals
of the Revised Rules of Court. Moreover, the defendant bank and its officers are
adverse parties who cannot be summoned to testify unless written interrogatories are Petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari19 with the CA asserting this time that their
first served upon them, as provided in Sections 1 and 6, Rule 25 of the Revised Rules Motion for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum Ad Testificandum is not a litigated
of Court. motion; it does not seek relief, but aims for the issuance of a mere process. For these
reasons, the Motion need not be heard. They likewise insisted on liberality, and the
In view of the foregoing, and for lack of merit, the motion under consideration is disposition of the case on its merits and not on mere technicalities. 20 They added that
hereby DENIED. Rule 2121 of the Rules requires prior notice and hearing only with respect to the
taking of depositions; since their Motion sought to require Metrobank’s officers to
SO ORDERED.14 appear and testify in court and not to obtain their depositions, the requirement of
notice and hearing may be dispensed with. Finally, petitioners claimed that the Rules
– particularly Section 10,22 Rule 132 – do not prohibit a party from presenting the
Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration15 pleading for leniency in the
application of the Rules and claiming that the defective notice was cured by the adverse party as its own witness.
filing of Metrobank’s Opposition, which they claim is tantamount to notice. They
further argued that Metrobank’s officers – who are the subject of the subpoena – are On April 15, 2008, the CA issued the questioned Decision, which contained the
not party-defendants, and thus do not comprise the adverse party; they are following decretal portion:
individuals separate and distinct from Metrobank, the defendant corporation being
sued in the case. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The assailed orders
dated October 19, 2006 and April 17, 2007 in Civil Case No. 336-M-2004 issued by
In an Opposition16 to the Motion for Reconsideration, Metrobank insisted on the the RTC, Branch 7, Malolos City, Bulacan, are AFFIRMED. Costs against
procedural defect of improper notice of hearing, arguing that the rule relative to petitioners.
motions and the requirement of a valid notice of hearing are mandatory and must be
strictly observed. It added that the same rigid treatment must be accorded to Rule 25, SO ORDERED.23
in that none of its officers may be summoned to testify for petitioners unless written
interrogatories are first served upon them. Finally, it said that since a corporation The CA held that the trial court did not commit grave abuse of discretion in issuing
may act only through its officers and employees, they are to be considered as adverse the assailed Orders; petitioners’ Motion is a litigated motion, especially as it seeks to
parties in a case against the corporation itself. require the adverse party, Metrobank’s officers, to appear and testify in court as
petitioners’ witnesses. It held that a proper notice of hearing, addressed to the parties
In another Order17 dated April 17, 2007, the trial court denied petitioners’ Motion for and specifying the date and time of the hearing, was required, consistent with
Reconsideration. The trial court held, thus: Sections 4 and 5,24 Rule 15 of the Rules.

Even if the motion is given consideration by relaxing Sections 4 and 5, Rule 15 of The CA held further that the trial court did not err in denying petitioners’ Motion to
the Rules of Court, no such laxity could be accorded to Sections 1 and 6 of Rule 25 secure a subpoena duces tecum/ad testificandum, ratiocinating that Rule 25 is quite
of the Revised Rules of Court which require prior service of written interrogatories clear in providing that the consequence of a party’s failure to serve written
to adverse parties before any material and relevant facts may be elicited from them interrogatories upon the opposing party is that the latter may not be compelled by the
more so if the party is a private corporation who could be represented by its officers former to testify in court or to render a deposition pending appeal. By failing to serve
as in this case. In other words, as the persons sought to be subpoenaed by the written interrogatories upon Metrobank, petitioners foreclosed their right to present
plaintiffs-movants are officers of the defendant bank, they are in effect the very the bank’s officers as their witnesses.
persons who represent the interest of the latter and necessarily fall within the
coverage of Sections 1 and 6, Rule 25 of the Revised Rules of Court. The CA declared that the justification for the rule laid down in Section 6 is that by
failing to seize the opportunity to inquire upon the facts through means available
In view of the foregoing, the motion for reconsideration is hereby denied. under the Rules, petitioners should not be allowed to later on burden Metrobank with
court hearings or other processes. Thus, it held:
SO ORDERED.18
x x x Where a party unjustifiedly refuses to elicit facts material and relevant to his Requests by a party for the issuance of subpoenas do not require notice to other
case by addressing written interrogatories to the adverse party to elicit those facts, parties to the action.1âwphi1 No violation of due process results by such lack of
the latter may not thereafter be compelled to testify thereon in court or give a notice since the other parties would have ample opportunity to examine the witnesses
deposition pending appeal. The justification for this is that the party in need of said and documents subpoenaed once they are presented in court. 29
facts having foregone the opportunity to inquire into the same from the other party
through means available to him, he should not thereafter be permitted to unduly Petitioners add that the Rules should have been liberally construed in their favor, and
burden the latter with courtroom appearances or other cumbersome processes. The that Metrobank’s filing of its Opposition be considered to have cured whatever
sanction adopted by the Rules is not one of compulsion in the sense that the party is defect the Motion suffered from.
being directly compelled to avail of the discovery mechanics, but one of negation by
depriving him of evidentiary sources which would otherwise have been accessible to
Petitioners likewise persist in the view that Metrobank’s officers – the subject of the
him.25
Motion – do not comprise the adverse party covered by the rule; they insist that these
bank officers are mere employees of the bank who may be called to testify for them.
Petitioners filed their Motion for Reconsideration,26 which the CA denied in its
assailed October 2, 2008 Resolution. Hence, the present Petition. Respondents’ Arguments

Issues
Metrobank essentially argues in its Comment30 that the subject Motion for the
issuance of a subpoena duces tecum/ad testificandum is a litigated motion, especially
Petitioners now raise the following issues for resolution: as it is directed toward its officers, whose testimony and documentary evidence
would affect it as the adverse party in the civil case. Thus, the lack of a proper notice
I of hearing renders it useless and a mere scrap of paper. It adds that being its officers,
the persons sought to be called to the stand are themselves adverse parties who may
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERRORS IN not be compelled to testify in the absence of prior written interrogatories; they are
REQUIRING NOTICE AND HEARING (SECS. 4 AND 5, RULE 15, RULES OF not ordinary witnesses whose presence in court may be required by petitioners at any
COURT) FOR A MERE MOTION FOR SUBPOENA OF RESPONDENT BANK’S time and for any reason.
OFFICERS WHEN SUCH REQUIREMENTS APPLY ONLY TO DEPOSITION
UNDER SEC. 6, RULE 25, RULES OF COURT. Finally, Metrobank insists on the correctness of the CA Decision, adding that since
petitioners failed up to this time to pay the witnesses’ fees and kilometrage as
II required by the Rules,31 the issuance of a subpoena should be denied.

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED (REVERSIBLE) ERROR IN Our Ruling


HOLDING THAT THE PETITIONERS MUST FIRST SERVE WRITTEN
INTERROGATORIES TO RESPONDENT BANK’S OFFICERS BEFORE THEY The Court denies the Petition.
CAN BE SUBPOENAED.27
On the procedural issue, it is quite clear that Metrobank was notified of the Motion
Petitioners’ Arguments for Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum Ad Testificandum; in fact, it filed a timely
Opposition thereto. The technical defect of lack of notice of hearing was thus cured
Praying that the assailed CA dispositions be set aside and that the Court allow the by the filing of the Opposition.32
issuance of the subpoena duces tecum/ad testificandum, petitioners assert that the
questioned Motion is not a litigated motion, since it seeks not a relief, but the Nonetheless, contrary to petitioners’ submission, the case of Adorio cannot apply
issuance of process. They insist that a motion which is subject to notice and hearing squarely to this case. In Adorio, the request for subpoena duces tecum was sought
under Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 is an application for relief other than a pleading; against bank officials who were not parties to the criminal case for violation of Batas
since no relief is sought but just the process of subpoena, the hearing and notice Pambansa Blg. 22. The situation is different here, as officers of the adverse party
requirements may be done away with. They cite the case of Adorio v. Hon. Metrobank are being compelled to testify as the calling party’s main witnesses;
Bersamin,28 which held that – likewise, they are tasked to bring with them documents which shall comprise the
petitioners’ principal evidence. This is not without significant consequences that possession as part of their principal documentary evidence. This is improper.
affect the interests of the adverse party, as will be shown below. Petitioners may not be allowed, at the incipient phase of the presentation of their
evidence-in-chief at that, to present Metrobank’s officers – who are considered
As a rule, in civil cases, the procedure of calling the adverse party to the witness adverse parties as well, based on the principle that corporations act only through
stand is not allowed, unless written interrogatories are first served upon the latter. their officers and duly authorized agents34 – as their main witnesses; nor may they be
This is embodied in Section 6, Rule 25 of the Rules, which provides – allowed to gain access to Metrobank’s documentary evidence for the purpose of
making it their own. This is tantamount to building their whole case from the
Sec. 6. Effect of failure to serve written interrogatories. evidence of their opponent. The burden of proof and evidence falls on petitioners,
not on Metrobank; if petitioners cannot prove their claim using their own evidence,
then the adverse party Metrobank may not be pressured to hang itself from its own
Unless thereafter allowed by the court for good cause shown and to prevent a failure defense.
of justice, a party not served with written interrogatories may not be compelled by
the adverse party to give testimony in open court, or to give a deposition pending
appeal. It is true that under the Rules, a party may, for good cause shown and to prevent a
failure of justice, be compelled to give testimony in court by the adverse party who
has not served written interrogatories. But what petitioners seek goes against the very
One of the purposes of the above rule is to prevent fishing expeditions and needless principles of justice and fair play; they would want that Metrobank provide the very
delays; it is there to maintain order and facilitate the conduct of trial. It will be evidence with which to prosecute and build their case from the start. This they may
presumed that a party who does not serve written interrogatories on the adverse party not be allowed to do.
beforehand will most likely be unable to elicit facts useful to its case if it later opts to
call the adverse party to the witness stand as its witness. Instead, the process could be
Finally, the Court may not turn a blind eye to the possible consequences of such a
treated as a fishing expedition or an attempt at delaying the proceedings; it produces
move by petitioners. As one of their causes of action in their Complaint, petitioners
no significant result that a prior written interrogatories might bring.
claim that they were not furnished with specific documents relative to their loan
agreement with Metrobank at the time they obtained the loan and while it was
Besides, since the calling party is deemed bound by the adverse party’s outstanding. If Metrobank were to willingly provide petitioners with these
testimony,33 compelling the adverse party to take the witness stand may result in the documents even before petitioners can present evidence to show that indeed they
calling party damaging its own case. Otherwise stated, if a party cannot elicit facts or were never furnished the same, any inferences generated from this would certainly
information useful to its case through the facility of written interrogatories or other not be useful for Metrobank. One may be that by providing petitioners with these
mode of discovery, then the calling of the adverse party to the witness stand could documents, Metrobank would be admitting that indeed, it did not furnish petitioners
only serve to weaken its own case as a result of the calling party’s being bound by with these documents prior to the signing of the loan agreement, and while the loan
the adverse party’s testimony, which may only be worthless and instead detrimental was outstanding, in violation of the law.
to the calling party’s cause.
With the view taken of the case, the Court finds it unnecessary to further address the
Another reason for the rule is that by requiring prior written interrogatories, the court other issues raised by the parties, which are irrelevant and would not materially alter
may limit the inquiry to what is relevant, and thus prevent the calling party from the conclusions arrived at.
straying or harassing the adverse party when it takes the latter to the stand.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The assailed April 15, 2008 Decision and
Thus, the rule not only protects the adverse party from unwarranted surprises or October 2, 2008 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 99535 are
harassment; it likewise prevents the calling party from conducting a fishing AFFIRMED.
expedition or bungling its own case. Using its own judgment and discretion, the
court can hold its own in resolving a dispute, and need not bear witness to the parties
SO ORDERED.
perpetrating unfair court practices such as fishing for evidence, badgering, or
altogether ruining their own cases. Ultimately, such unnecessary processes can only
constitute a waste of the court’s precious time, if not pointless entertainment.

In the present case, petitioners seek to call Metrobank’s officers to the witness stand
as their initial and main witnesses, and to present documents in Metrobank’s
G.R. No. 101682 December 14, 1992 Among the improvements on this parcel of land is plaintiff's
residential house where his wife and children used to stay until
SALVADOR D. BRIBONERIA, petitioner, they migrated to the United States.
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, GERTRUDES B. MAG-ISA, 3. The abovementioned parcel of land was acquired and the
married to and assisted by PEDRO MAG-ISA, respondents. residential house was constructed through plaintiff's hard-earned
salaries and benefits from his employment abroad.

4. Plaintiff, as the duly registered owner, has declared the above-


PADILLA, J.: described parcel of land and residential house for tax purposes
under P.D. No. 464, copies of Declaration of Real Property
On 17 October 1991, the petitioner filed with this Court a petition attached herewith as Annexes B and B-1.
for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals, Eleventh
Division, * in CA-G.R. SP No. 20114 dated 13 August 1990 as well as its resolution 5. Of late, plaintiff was surprised to learn that his wife Nonita A.
dated 9 September 1991 denying the petitioner's for reconsideration. Briboneria sold to defendant Gertrudis B. Mag-isa by means of a
Deed of Absolute Sale, copy attached herewith as Annex C, the
Acting upon the petition, the Court required the private respondents to comment abovementioned house and lot.
thereon. After the private respondents had filed their comment, the Court resolved to
consider the comment as answer and to give due course to the petition and the case 6. Plaintiff, as the duly registered owner, never authorized or
was deemed submitted for decision. 1 empowered Nonita A. Briboneria or anybody for or on his behalf,
stead or representation to enter into any transaction regarding the
The antecedents are as follows: sale, transfer or conveyance of the abovedescribed house and lot.

7. Plaintiff had all along been expecting that the house and lot shall
On 23 May 1988, petitioner Salvador D. Briboneria, as plaintiff, filed a
be for his family, particularly his children.
complaint 2 for Annulment of Document and Damages, with prayer for preliminary
injunction and/or temporary restraining order against private respondent Gertrudes
B. Mag-isa, with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, docketed therein as Civil Case 8. As a result of the unauthorized sale, plaintiff was denied the use
No. 55961, alleginginter alia that: and enjoyment of his properties since defendant Gertrudis B. Mag-
isa had even leased the premises to another who in turn had
prohibited plaintiff from entering the premises.
xxx xxx xxx

9. By reason of the unlawful deprivation from him of his


2. Plaintiff, together with his wife Nonita A. Briboneria, are the
properties, plaintiff suffered serious anxiety, fright, mental anguish
registered owners (of) a parcel of land located at 59 Amsterdam
and wounded feelings and further subjected him to social
Street Provident Village, J. de la Peña, Marikina, Metro-Manila,
humiliation and embarassment, particularly considering that the
covered under Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-29859 (Copy
attached herewith as Annex A) more particularly described as abovementioned properties came from his hard-earned salaries and
follows: emoluments from his employment abroad, for which defendants
Mag-isa must be adjudged liable for moral damages in an amount
not less than ONE MILLION PESOS (P1,000,000.00) or as may
A parcel of land . . . situated in the Municipality be equitably determined by this Honorable Court.
of Marikina, Province of Rizal, Island of Luzon .
. . containing an area of THREE HUNDRED
(300) SQUARE METERS, more or less, . . . 10. In order to serve as an example or correction for the public
good, defendants Mag-isa should likewise be adjudged liable for
examplary damages in an amount not less than ONE HUNDRED
THOUSAND PESOS (P100,000.00) or as may be equitably the improvements thereon and defendants were purchasers in good
determined by this Honorable Court. faith and for value.

11. Plaintiff, in protection of his legitimate right and interests 3. Defendants deny the allegations in paragraph 3 for lack of
prejudiced by defendants — Mag-isa, was constrained to engage knowledge and information to form a judgment as to the truths,
the services of undersigned counsel for P50,000.00, exclusive of and granting arguendo that the acquisition of the land and the
appearance fees and expenses. construction of the house came from the salaries and benefits of
the plaintiff, said salaries and benefits are considered conjugal.
Plaintiff adopts the foregoing.
4. Defendants deny the allegations in paragraph 4 for lack of
12. The next move of defendants — Mag-isa is to consolidate knowledge and information sufficient to form a judgment as to the
ownership over the properties by means of the Deed of Absolute truth thereof although it may be of judicial notice that the Office of
Sale (Annex C herein) which is inceptually void. the Provincial/Municipal Assessor motu proprio accomplishes (sic)
Annexes "B" and "B-1" and all tax declarations for that matter
based on existing records in said office.
13. Defendant Register of Deeds of Marikina would have no other
alternative but to give due course to the consolidation of ownership
over the properties in the name of defendants — Mag-isa which 5. Defendants admit the allegations in paragraph 5 in so far as the
eventually causes grave and irreparable injury, untold injustice and transaction of absolute sale between them and defendant's
undue prejudice to plaintiff unless — a Writ of Preliminary (plaintiff's) wife who acted not only in her behalf but also as
Injunction, or at least a Temporary Restraining Order is attorney-in-fact of her husband, plaintiff in the instant case, which
immediately issued by this Honorable Court enjoining or transaction was actually known by and with the consent of or
restraining defendant Register of Deeds of Marikina, Metro-Manila should at least have been known to and with the consent of
or any person acting on his behalf from consolidating ownership of plaintiff as evidenced by a letter of plaintiff to his wife, a xerox
the house and lot covered under TCT No. N-29895 of the Registry copy of which is attached hereto as Annex "1" and made an
of Deeds for the province of Rizal in the name of defendants — integral part hereof.
Mag-isa or their heirs or successor-in-interest.
6. Defendants deny the allegation in paragraph 6, the truth and fact
14. Plaintiff is ready and willing to post a bond in such amount as being that plaintiff's wife was duly authorized by a Special Power
this Honorable Court may equitable determine subject to such of Attorney to transact on and sell the subject house and lot, a
conditions and terms as may be appropriately imposed thereon. xerox copy of which marked Annex "2" is hereto attached and
made an integral part hereof.
In due time, private respondent Gertrudes B. Mag-isa, as defendant, filed her
answer 3 alleging as follows: 7. Defendants deny the allegations in paragraph 7 for lack of
knowledge and information sufficiento (sic) form a judgment as to
the truths thereof.
1. Defendants admit their circumstances as alleged in paragraph 1,
the age of plaintiff but denies the rest of the allegations therein for
lack of knowledge and/or information sufficient to form a 8. Defendants deny the allegations in paragraph 8 to the effect that
judgment as to the truths thereof. he was denied the use and enjoyment of his properties for the
reason that as the owners of the property, defendants have the
absolute rights of use and enjoyment over said properties with the
2. Defendants admit the allegations in paragraph 2 that pursuant to
prerogative to lease the same to any party of their choice, the
Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-29859 (Annex "A"), plaintiff
lessee with the right to exclude others from the use and enjoyment
together with his wife appears to be the registered owners of the
subject parcel of land but that is more apparent and (sic) real of the premises.
considering that defendants have admittedly bought the land and
9. Defendants deny the allegations in paragraphs 9, 10 and 11 not 2. That plaintiff, as the duly registered owner had declared for the
only for lack of knowledge and information to form a judgment as year 1988 the parcel of land and residential house for tax purposes
to the truths thereof but also because said allegations have no under P.D. 464.
factual and legal basis.
3. That plaintiff's family used to live at the said residential house.
10. Defendants admit the allegations in paragraph 12 in so far as
the prospective registration of Annex "C" is concerned but deny 4. That defendant Mag-isa actually lives near the location address
the rest of the allegations for reasons stated earlier to the effect that of plaintiff's properties.
Annex "C" is a valid and binding sale, with defendants as the
purchasers in good faith and for value.
5. That defendant Mag-isa knows that plaintiff works abroad but
he (plaintiff) regularly comes home and stays with his family at
11. Defendants admit the allegations in paragraph 13 in so far as their residential house abovementioned.
the ministerial functions of defendant Register of Deeds but deny
the rest of the allegations the same being without any factual and
6. That the abovementioned house and lot were acquired through
legal basis for reasons essayed earlier.
plaintiff's hard-earned salaries and benefits from his employment
abroad.
12. Defendants deny the allegations in paragraph 14 for lack of
knowledge and information sufficient to form a judgment as to the 7. That plaintiff has reserved the house and lot as a place to stay to
truths thereof aside from the fact that plaintiff's alleged readiness
(sic) with his family upon his retirement from his employment.
and willingness to post a bond will simply be exercises in futility.
8. That plaintiff had never authorized his wife or anybody for that
On 13 September 1988, after issues in the case had been joined, petitioner served on matter to sell or to dispose of the property covered under TCT No.
the private respondent Mag-isa a request for admission 4 reading as follows: N-29895.

ATTY. ALFREDO A. ALTO


9. That plaintiff never executed the alleged Special Power of
Counsel for Defendant Mag-isa
Attorney dated November 14, 1984 appended as Annex 2 —
Balaga-Luna Building Answer.
Malolos, Bulacan
10. That the alleged Special Power of Attorney mentions "Transfer
Greeting:
Certificate of Title No. N-29995 issued by the Register of Deeds of
Rizal."
Plaintiff, through counsel, respectfully requests your admission
within ten (10) days from service hereof pursuant to Rule 26, Rules
11. That plaintiff never personally appeared before Notary Public
of Court of the following:
Jose Constantino upon whom the acknowledgment of said Special
Power of Attorney was made.
The Material facts
12. That plaintiff never sold or disposed of, and never consented to
1. That plaintiff, together with his wife Nonita A. Briboneria, are the sale or disposition of properties covered under TCT No. N-
the registered owners of a parcel of land together with the 29995.
improvements thereon covered under Transfer Certificate of Title
No. N-29895 (Annex A-Complaint) located at 59 Amsterdam 13. That plaintiff never received the consideration of the alleged
Street, Provident Village, Marikina, Metro-Manila.
sale, and he never benefited therefrom in any manner.
14. That defendant Mag-isa never confirmed with plaintiff The petitioner thereupon filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari,
notwithstanding their being neighbors, the authenticity of the prohibition and mandamus to annul and set aside the order dated 1 February 1989 of
alleged Special Power of Attorney and the validity of the alleged the court a quo, alleging that the said order was issued with grave abuse of discretion
Deed of Absolute Sale particularly considering that the subject amounting to lack of jurisdiction. On 13 August 1990, the Court of Appeals rendered
matter thereof involves plaintiff's properties. a decision, 14 dismissing the petition. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration having
been likewise denied, 15 he is now before us in the present petition.
15. That plaintiff was denied the use and enjoyment of his
properties since defendant Mag-isa had even leased the premises to Petitioner assails the respondent appellate court in holding that the matters of fact
another who in turn had prohibited plaintiff from entering the and the documents requested to be admitted are mere reiterations and/or
premises. reproductions of those alleged in the complaint. He claims that the material facts and
documents described in the request for admission are relevant evidentiary matters
The Material Documents supportive of his cause of action. He further argues that the private respondents have
impliedly admitted the material facts and documents subject of the request for
1. Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-29895 of the Register of admission on account of their failure to answer the request for admission within the
period fixed therein, and for said answer not being under oath.
Deeds of Rizal, copy attached to the Complaint as Annex A.

The petition can not be upheld; the petitioner's contentions are devoid of merit.
2. The Declarations of Real Property filed by Salvador D.
Briboneria pursuant to P.D. 464 for the year 1988, copies attached
to the Complaint as Annexes B and B-1. To begin with, a cursory reading of the petitioner's complaint and his request for
admission clearly shows, as found by respondent appellate court, that "the material
matters and documents set forth in the request for admission are the same as those set
On 10 November 1988, the private respondents filed with the court a quo their
forth in the complaint which private respondents either admitted or denied in their
Answer to Request for Admission, 5alleging that most if not all the matters subject of
petitioner's request for admission had been admitted, denied and/or clarified in their answer." 16The respondent court therefore correctly held that this case falls under the
verified answer dated 20 June 1988, and that the other matters not admitted, denied rule laid down in Po vs. Court of Appeals. 17 wherein this Court held:
and/or clarified were either irrelevant or improper.
A party should not be compelled to admit matters of fact already
admitted by his pleading and concerning which there is no issue
On 18 November 1988, petitioner filed a Motion for summary
Judgment, 6 claiming that the Answer to Request for Admission was filed by private (Sherr vs. East, 71 A2d, 752, terry 260, cited in 27 C.J.S. 91), nor
should he be required to make a second denial of those already
respondents beyond the ten (10) day period fixed in the request and that the answer
denied in his answer to the complaint. A request for admission is
was not under oath; that, consequently the private respondents are deemed to have
not intended to merely reproduce or reiterate the allegations of the
admitted the material facts and documents subject of the request for admission,
requesting party's pleading but should set forth relevant evidentiary
pursuant to Section 2, Rule 26 of the Rules of Court. The private respondents filed an
opposition 7 to the motion for summary judgment, while the petitioner filed a matters of fact, or documents described in and exhibited with the
reply 8 to said opposition. request, whose purpose is to establish said party's cause of action
or defense. . . .
On 28 December 1988, the trial court issued an order 9 denying
Moreover, under Section 1, Rule 26 of the Rules of Court, 18 the request for
the petitioner's motion for summary judgment. Petitioner moved for
reconsideration 10 which the court granted in its order dated 20 July 1989, setting admission must be served directly upon the party; otherwise, the party to whom the
aside the order of 28 December 1988. 11 The private respondents, in turn, filed a request is directed cannot be deemed to have admitted the genuineness of any
relevant document in and exhibited with the request or relevant matters of fact set
Motion for Clarification and Reconsideration, to which the petitioner filed an
forth therein, on account of failure to answer the request for admission. 19
opposition. 12 On 1 February 1989, the trial court issued another order 13 this time
setting aside its order of 20 July 1989 and set the pre-trial conference on 22 February
1989. In one case, namely, CA-G.R. No. 20561-R, entitled "Jose Ledesma, Jr., Plaintiff-
Appellee, versus Guillermo Locsin, Defendant-Appellant", 20 the Court of Appeals in
favorably resolving the defendant-appellant's motion for reconsideration of its earlier
decision (wherein it affirmed the summary judgment of the Court of First Instance of No. L-5147, June 2, 1953, that the notice of the pendency of the
Negros Occidental in favor of plaintiff Jose Ledesma, Jr. upon failure of defendant appeal must be served upon the parties for said section being
Guillermo Locsin to answer a request for admission served upon his counsel by the express and specific cannot be interpreted to mean that the notice
plaintiff) held in its Resolution dated 1 June 1963, as follows: can be given to the lawyer alone.

The issue raised by the first two assigned errors is whether or not a Similarly, section 1 of Rule 20 (now Section 1, Rule 25) provides
request for admission must be served directly on a party, and not that "any party may serve upon any adverse party written
his counsel, in order that said request can be considered as validly interrogatories", and Chief Justice Moran commenting on this rule
served. In our decision which is sought to be reconsidered, we held states that "the written interrogatories referred to in the instant
that a request for admission may be validly served upon party's provision should be delivered directly to the adverse party." We
counsel. After a further review of the facts of the case and the see no valid reason why a different rule should govern request for
circumstances surrounding the same, we are now fully convinced admission inasmuch as written interrogatories and request for
that it should not be so. admissions are both modes of discovery.

The general rule as provided for under Section 2 of Rule 27 (now Section 1 of Rule 23 (now Section 1, Rule 26) of the Rules of
Section 2, Rule 13) of the Rules of Court is that all notices must be Court which expressly states that "a party may serve upon any
served upon counsel and not upon party. This is so because the other party a written request" should receive no other construction
attorney of a party is the agent of the party and is the one than that the request for admission must be served directly on the
responsible for the conduct of the case in all its procedural aspects; party and not on his counsel. Section 2 of Rule 27 (now Section 2,
hence, notice to counsel is notice to party. The purpose of the rule Rule 13) of the Rules of Court does not control the mode of service
is obviously to maintain a uniform procedure calculated to place in of request for admission. It should be observed that the orders,
competent hands the orderly prosecution of a party's case motions and other papers mentioned in said section have this
(Chainani v. Judge Tancinco, G.R. No. L-4782, Feb. 29, 1952; property in common: they have to be filed with the court. A
Capili v. Badelles, G.R. No. L-17786, Sept. 29, 1962). However, request for admission, on the other hand, need not be filed with the
the general rule cannot apply where the law expressly provides that court; it was intended to operate extra-judicially and courts are not
notice must be served upon a definite person. In such cases, service burdened with the duty to determine the propriety or impropriety
must be made directly upon the person mentioned in the law and of the request for admission (I Moran's Comments on the Rules of
upon no other in order that the notice be valid. Court, 1957 ed., 372-73; I Francisco's Rules of Court, Part 2, p.
282).
Whenever notice is necessary, it must appear that
it was served on the proper person, and there . . . Permission of the court is not required to
must be strict compliance with a statute requiring make such a request or demand, or to file it, or
service on a particular person, so that service on serve it on the adverse party; but service must be
another person is not sufficient. made in the manner specified by the statute or
rule. (27 C.J.C. 277)
In general, service of notice of a modal or formal
step in a proceeding on the attorney of record is And the answer to the request for admission is likewise not a
sufficient, if not otherwise specifically provided matter of record and would require another step in procedure to
by statute or rule of court. (66 C.J.S. 658) bring it on record (Seranton Lackawanna Trust Co. vs.
McDermont, 1 Pa. Dist. & Co. 2nd 539, 55 Lack. Jur. 265, cited in
Thus, we see that section 7 of Rule 40, with regard to notice of 27 C.J.S. 277, fn 19). Section 2 of Rule 27 governs only those
pendency of an appeal from an inferior court to a Court of First papers that have to be filed in court and does not govern papers
Instance, provides that "it shall be the duty of the clerk of the court which, by the rules of procedure, do not have to be filed in court.
to notify the parties of that fact by registered mail", and the
Supreme Court construing said section held, in Ortiz v.Mania, G.R.
In view of the foregoing, it is our considered opinion that the
request for admission made by plaintiff was not validly served and
that, therefore, defendant cannot be deemed to have admitted the
truth of the matters upon which admissions were requested and,
consequently, the summary judgment rendered by the court a
quo has no legal basis to support it. This conclusion renders it
unnecessary to discuss the other assigned errors.

The plaintiff-appellee Jose Ledesma, Jr. filed with this Court a petition for review
on certiorari of the aforesaid resolution, docketed as G.R. No.
L-21715. On 2 October 1963, this Court denied the petition, thus —

After a consideration of the allegations of the petition filed in case


L-21715 (Jose Ledesma, Jr. vs. Guillermo Locsin), for review of
the decision of the Court of Appeals referred to therein, THE
COURT RESOLVED to dismiss the petition for lack of merit.

In the present case, it will be noted that the request for admission was not served
upon the private respondent Mag-isa but upon her counsel, Atty. Alfredo A. Alto.
Private respondent Mag-isa, therefore, cannot be deemed to have admitted the facts
and documents subject of the request for admission for having failed to file her
answer thereto within the period fixed in the request.

WHEREFORE, the petition should be, as it is hereby, DENIED. The decision of the
Court of Appeals dated 13 August 1990 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.