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[G.R. No. 129718.

August 17, 1998] The complaint and other initiatory pleadings referred to and subject of this Circular are the
original civil complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim, third (fourth, etc) party complaint, or
complaint-in-intervention, petition or application wherein a party asserts his claim on (sic)
relief.
SANTO TOMAS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, petitioner vs. CESAR ANTONIO Y. SURLA and
EVANGELINE SURLA, respondents. It will be noted that the counterclaim does not distinguish whether the same should be
permissive or compulsory, hence this Court finds that the counterclaim referred to in said
DECISION Circular covers both kinds.
VITUG, J.:
WHEREFORE, the counterclaim of defendant is hereby DISMISSED. Let the pre-trial of this
case be set on May 14, 1996 at 2:00 oclock in the afternoon xxx[2]
Can a compulsory counterclaim pleaded in an Answer be dismissed on the ground of
a failure to accompany it with a certificate of non-forum shopping? This question is the
core issue presented for resolution in the instant petition. On 16 April 1996, petitioner filed before the same court an Omnibus Motion seeking
a clarification of the courts Order of 14 March 1996 denying respondents Reply to
First, a factual background. Counterclaim and reconsideration of the 22nd March 1996 Order dismissing the
compulsory counterclaim.[3] On 22 April 1996, petitioner received a copy of the courts
On 26 December 1995, respondent spouses filed a complaint for damages against
Order, dated 16 April 1996, which pertinently read:
petitioner Santo Tomas University Hospital with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City
predicated on an allegation by the spouses that their son, Emmanuel Cesar Surla, while WHEREFORE, the Order dated March 14, 1996 is hereby clarified as follows:
confined at the said hospital for having been born prematurely, had accidentally fallen from
his incubator on 16 April 1995 possibly causing serious harm on the child. The case was
xxxxxxxxx
raffled and assigned to Branch 226 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, presided
over by the Hon. Leah S. Domingo-Regala, and there docketed Civil Case No. Q-95-25977. The Reply to counterclaim filed by counsel for plaintiffs is hereby NOTED.
On 28 February 1996, petitioner hospital filed its Answer with Compulsory
Counterclaim asserting that respondents still owed to it the amount of P82,632.10 SO ORDERED.
representing hospital bills for Emmanuels confinement at the hospital and making a claim
for moral and exemplary damages, plus attorneys fees, by reason of the supposed "The Motion for Reconsideration of this Courts Order dated March 22, 1996 is hereby
unfounded and malicious suit filed against it. DENIED. The pre-trial conference set on May 14, 1996 will go on as scheduled.[4]
On 21 March 1996, petitioner received a copy of respondents Reply to Counterclaim,
dated 12 March 1996, that sought, inter alia, the dismissal of petitioners counterclaim for Petitioner forthwith elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals by way of a special civil
its non-compliance with Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 04-94 requiring that action for certiorari under Rule 65, Revised Rules of Court, asseverating grave abuse of
a complaint and other initiatory pleadings, such as a counterclaim, cross-claim, third (fourt, discretion by public respondent in dismissing the compulsory counterclaim and in
etc.) party complaint, be accompanied with a certificate of non-forum shopping. espousing the view that Administrative Circular No. 04-94 should apply even to
compulsory counterclaims.
In its Rejoinder to respondents Reply to Counterclaim, petitioner contended that the
subject circular should be held to refer only to a permissive counterclaim, an initiatory The Court of Appeals, in its Decision promulgated on 12 March 1997, dismissed the
pleading not arising out of, nor necessarily connected with, the subject matter of the petition for certiorari; it opined:
plaintiffs claim but not to a compulsory counterclaim spawned by the filing of a complaint
x x x the Supreme Court circular aforequoted requires without equivocation that to the
and so intertwined therewith and logically related thereto that it verily could not stand for
original civil complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim, third (fourth,etc.) party complainant, or
independent adjudication. Petitioner concluded that, since its counterclaim was
complaint-in-intervention, petition, or application wherein a party asserts his claim for
compulsory in nature, the subject circular did not perforce apply to it.[1]
relief to be filed in all courts and agencies other than the Supreme Court and the Court of
In its Order of 22 March 1996, the trial court dismissed petitioners counterclaim,it Appeals must be annexed and simultaneously filed therewith the required certification
held: under oath to avoid forum shopping or multiple filing of petitions and complaints. Non-
compliance therewith is a cause for the dismissal of the complainant, petition, application
Administrative Circular No. 04-94 provides; among others: or other initiatory pleading. Included in such initiatory pleading is the defendants
counterclaim, permissive or compulsory.
A counterclaim partakes of the nature of a complaint and/or a cause of action against the an ordinary appeal would simply be inadequate to relieve a party from the injurious effects
plaintiff in a case x x x, only this time it is the original defendant who becomes the of the judgment complained of.[12]
plaintiff. It stands on the same footing and is tested by the same rules as if it were an
independent action.[5] In the case at bar, an appeal from the dismissal of the counterclaim, although not
totally unavailable, could have well been ineffective, if not futile, as far as petitioner is
concerned since no single piece of evidence has yet been presented by it, the opportunity
In its present recourse, petitioner contends that having been foreclosed by the trial court, on the dismissed counterclaim which could form
The Court of Appeals (has) committed serious, evident and palpable error in ruling that: part of the records to be reviewed by the appellate court. The object of procedural law is
not to cause an undue protraction of the litigation, but to facilitate the adjudication of
conflicting claims and to serve, rather than to defeat, the ends of justice.[13]
5.1 THE SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION OF CERTIORARI UNDER RULE 65 OF THE REVISED RULES
OF COURT IS UNAVAILING. THE DISMISSAL OF THE COMPULSORY COUNTERCLAIM
BEING A FINAL ORDER, THE PETITIONER SHOULD HAVE TAKEN AN APPEAL
THEREFROM; AND The opinion of this Court on the next issue persuades it to accept, tested by the
foregoing disquisition, the instant petition for its consideration.
5.2 ADMINISTRATIVE CIRCULAR NO. 04-94 OF THIS HONORABLE COURT The pertinent provisions of Administrative Circular No. 04-94 provide:
LIKEWISE APPLIES TO BOTH KINDS OF COUNTERCLAIMS, PERMISSIVE AND
COMPULSORY.[6] 1 The plaintiff, petitioner, applicant or principal party seeking relief in the complaint,
petition, application or other initiatory pleading shall certify under oath in such original
pleading, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith,
The petition is partly meritorious. to the truth of the following facts and undertakings: (a) he has not theretofore commenced
The appellate court ruled that the dismissal of the counterclaim, being a final order, any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the Court
petitioners remedy was to appeal therefrom and, such appeal being then available, the of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency; (b) to the best of his knowledge, no such action
special civil action for certiorari had been improperly filed. or proceeding is pending in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal
or agency; (c) if there is any such action or proceeding which is either pending or may have
The concept of a final judgment or order, distinguished form an interlocutory been terminated, he must state the status thereof; and (d) if he should thereafter learn that
issuance, is that the former decisively puts to a close, or disposes of a case or a disputed a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the
issue leaving nothing else to be done by the court in respect thereto. Once that judgment Court of Appeals or any other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to report that fact within
or order is rendered, the adjudicative task of the court is likewise ended on the particular five (5) days therefrom to the court or agency wherein the original pleading and sworn
matter involved.[7] An order is interlocutory, upon the other hand, if its effects would only certification contemplated here have been filed.
be provisional in character and would still leave substantial proceedings to be further had
by the issuing court in order to put the controversy to rest.[8] The complaint and other initiatory pleadings referred to and subject of this Circular are
The order of the trial court dismissing petitioners counterclaim was a final order the original civil complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim third (fourth, etc.) party
since the dismissal, although based on a technicality, would require nothing else to be done complaint or complaint-in-intervention, petition, or application wherein a party
by the court with respect to the specific subject except only to await the possible filing asserts his claim for relief. (Emphasis supplied)
during the reglementary period of a motion for reconsideration or the taking of an appeal
therefrom. It bears stressing, once again, that the real office of Administrative Circular No. 04-
94, made effective on 01 April 1994, is to curb the malpractice commonly referred to also
As a rule, errors of judgment, as well as of procedure, neither relating to the as forum-shopping. It is an act of a party against whom an adverse judgment has been
jurisdiction of the court nor involving grave abuse of discretion, are not reviewable by the rendered in one forum of seeking and possibly getting a favorable opinion in another
extraordinary remedy of certiorari.[9] As long as a court acts within its jurisdiction and does forum, other than by appeal or the special civil action of certiorari, or the institution of two
not gravely abuse its discretion in the exercise thereof, any supposed error committed by or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause on the supposition tha tone
it will amount to nothing more than an error of judgment reviewable by a timely appeal or the other court would make a favorable disposition.[14] The language of the circular
and not assailable by a special civil action for certiorari.[10] This rule however, is not a rigid distinctly suggests that it is primarily intended to cover an initiatory pleading or an
and inflexible technicality.This Court has not too infrequently given due course to a petition incipient application of a party asserting a claim for relief.[15]
for certiorari, even when the proper remedy would have been an appeal, where valid and
compelling considerations could warrant such a recourse.[11] Certiorari has been deemed It should not be too difficult, the foregoing rationale of the circular aptly taken, to
to be justified, for instance, in order to prevent irreparable damage and injury to a party sustain the view that the circular in question has not, in fact, been contemplated to include
where the trial judge has capriciously and whimsically exercised his judgment, or where a kind of claim which, by its very nature as being auxiliary to the proceedings in the suit
and as deriving its substantive and jurisdictional support therefrom, can only be
appropriately pleaded in the answer and not remain outstanding for independent
resolution except by the court where the main case pends. Prescinding from the foregoing,
the provisio in the second paragraph of Section 5, Rule 8 of the 1997 Rules on Civil
Procedure, i.e., that the violation of the anti-forum shopping rule shall not be curable by
mere amendment x x x but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice,
being predicated on the applicability of the need for a certification against forum shopping,
obviously does not include a claim which cannot be independently set up.
Petitioner, nevertheless, is entitled to a mere partial relief. The so called counterclaim
of petitioner really consists of two segregative parts: (1) for unpaid hospital bills of
respondents son, Emmanuel Surla, in the total amount of P82,632.10; and (2) for damages,
moral and exemplary, plus attorneys fees by reason of the alleged malicious and unfounded
suit filed against it.[16] It is the second, not the first, claim that the Court here refers to as
not being initiatory in character and thereby not covered by the provisions of
Administrative Circular No. 04-94.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby modified in that the claim for moral,
exemplary damages and attorneys fees in Civil Case No. Q-95-25977 of petitioner is
ordered reinstated. The temporary restraining order priorly issued by this Court is
lifted. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Panganiban and Quisumbing, JJ., concur
[G.R. No. 102858. July 28, 1997] in-interest had been in open, continuous, exclusive and peaceful possession of the subject
land since 1938.
THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and TEODORO
ABISTADO, substituted by MARGARITA, MARISSA, MARIBEL, ARNOLD and MARY In dismissing the petition, the trial court reasoned:[7]
ANN, all surnamed ABISTADO, respondents.
DECISION "x x x. However, the Court noted that applicants failed to comply with the provisions of
Section 23 (1) of PD 1529, requiring the Applicants to publish the notice of Initial Hearing
PANGANIBAN, J.: (Exh. `E') in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. Exhibit `E' was only
Is newspaper publication of the notice of initial hearing in an original land published in the Official Gazette (Exhibits `F' and `G'). Consequently, the Court is of the well
registration case mandatory or directory? considered view that it has not legally acquired jurisdiction over the instant application for
want of compliance with the mandatory provision requiring publication of the notice of
Statement of the Case initial hearing in a newspaper of general circulation."

The trial court also cited Ministry of Justice Opinion No. 48, Series of 1982, which in
The Court of Appeals ruled that it was merely procedural and that the failure to cause its pertinent portion provides:[8]
such publication did not deprive the trial court of its authority to grant the application. But
the Solicitor General disagreed and thus filed this petition to set aside the It bears emphasis that the publication requirement under Section 23 [of PD 1529] has a
Decision[1] promulgated on July 3, 1991 and the subsequent Resolution[2] promulgated on two-fold purpose; the first, which is mentioned in the provision of the aforequoted
November 19, 1991 by Respondent Court of Appeals[3] in CA-G.R. CV No. 23719. The provision refers to publication in the Official Gazette, and is jurisdictional; while the
dispositive portion of the challenged Decision reads:[4] second, which is mentioned in the opening clause of the same paragraph, refers to
publication not only in the Official Gazette but also in a newspaper of general circulation,
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the judgment of dismissal appealed from is hereby and is procedural. Neither one nor the other is dispensable. As to the first, publication in
set aside, and a new one entered confirming the registration and title of applicant, Teodoro the Official Gazette is indispensably necessary because without it, the court would be
Abistado, Filipino, a resident of Barangay 7, Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, powerless to assume jurisdiction over a particular land registration case. As to the second,
now deceased and substituted by Margarita, Marissa, Maribel, Arnold and Mary Ann, all publication of the notice of initial hearing also in a newspaper of general circulation is
surnamed Abistado, represented by their aunt, Miss Josefa Abistado, Filipinos, residents of indispensably necessary as a requirement of procedural due process; otherwise, any
Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, to the parcel of land covered under MSI (IV-A- decision that the court may promulgate in the case would be legally infirm.
8) 315-D located in Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro.
Unsatisfied, private respondents appealed to Respondent Court of Appeals which, as
The oppositions filed by the Republic of the Philippines and private oppositor are hereby earlier explained, set aside the decision of the trial court and ordered the registration of
dismissed for want of evidence. the title in the name of Teodoro Abistado.
The subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied in the challenged CA
Upon the finality of this decision and payment of the corresponding taxes due on this land,
Resolution dated November 19, 1991.
let an order for the issuance of a decree be issued."
The Director of Lands represented by the Solicitor General thus elevated this
The Facts recourse to us. This Court notes that the petitioners counsel anchored his petition on Rule
65. This is an error. His remedy should be based on Rule 45 because he is appealing a final
disposition of the Court of Appeals. Hence, we shall treat his petition as one for review
On December 8, 1986, Private Respondent Teodoro Abistado filed a petition for under Rule 45, and not for certiorari under Rule 65.[9]
original registration of his title over 648 square meters of land under Presidential Decree
The Issue
(PD) No. 1529.[5] The application was docketed as Land Registration Case (LRC) No. 86 and
assigned to Branch 44 of the Regional Trial Court of Mamburao, Occidental
Mindoro.[6] However, during the pendency of his petition, applicant died. Hence, his heirs -
- Margarita, Marissa, Maribel, Arnold and Mary Ann, all surnamed Abistado -- represented Petitioner alleges that Respondent Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of
by their aunt Josefa Abistado, who was appointed their guardian ad litem, were substituted discretion[10] in holding
as applicants. x x x that publication of the petition for registration of title in LRC Case No. 86 need not be
The land registration court in its decision dated June 13, 1989 dismissed the petition published in a newspaper of general circulation, and in not dismissing LRC Case No. 86 for
for want of jurisdiction. However, it found that the applicants through their predecessors- want of such publication.
Petitioner points out that under Section 23 of PD 1529, the notice of initial hearing Upon receipt of the order of the court setting the time for initial hearing, the Commissioner
shall be published both in the Official Gazette and in a newspaper of general of Land Registration shall cause a notice of initial hearing to be published once in the
circulation. According to petitioner, publication in the Official Gazette is necessary to Official Gazette and once in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines: Provided,
confer jurisdiction upon the trial court, and xxx in xxx a newspaper of general circulation however, that the publication in the Official Gazette shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction
to comply with the notice requirement of due process.[11] upon the court. Said notice shall be addressed to all persons appearing to have an interest
in the land involved including the adjoining owners so far as known, and `to all whom it
Private respondents, on the other hand, contend that failure to comply with the may concern.' Said notice shall also require all persons concerned to appear in court at a
requirement of publication in a newspaper of general circulation is a mere procedural certain date and time to show cause why the prayer of said application shall not be granted.
defect. They add that publication in the Official Gazette is sufficient to confer
jurisdiction.[12]
xxx xxx xxx
In reversing the decision of the trial court, Respondent Court of Appeals ruled:[13]
x x x although the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette and in a newspaper of Admittedly, the above provision provides in clear and categorical terms that
general circulation is couched in mandatory terms, it cannot be gainsaid that the law also publication in the Official Gazette suffices to confer jurisdiction upon the land registration
mandates with equal force that publication in the Official Gazette shall be sufficient to court. However, the question boils down to whether, absent any publication in a
confer jurisdiction upon the court. newspaper of general circulation, the land registration court can validly confirm and
register the title of private respondents.

Further, Respondent Court found that the oppositors were afforded the opportunity We answer this query in the negative. This answer is impelled by the demands of
to explain matters fully and present their side. Thus, it justified its disposition in this statutory construction and the due process rationale behind the publication requirement.
wise:[14]
The law used the term shall in prescribing the work to be done by the Commissioner
x x x We do not see how the lack of compliance with the required procedure prejudiced of Land Registration upon the latters receipt of the court order setting the time for initial
them in any way. Moreover, the other requirements of: publication in the Official Gazette, hearing.The said word denotes an imperative and thus indicates the mandatory character
personal notice by mailing, and posting at the site and other conspicuous places, were of a statute.[15] While concededly such literal mandate is not an absolute rule in statutory
complied with and these are sufficient to notify any party who is minded to make any construction, as its import ultimately depends upon its context in the entire provision, we
objection of the application for registration. hold that in the present case the term must be understood in its normal mandatory
meaning. In Republic vs. Marasigan,[16] the Court through Mr. Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.
The Courts Ruling held that Section 23 of PD 1529 requires notice of the initial hearing by means of (1)
publication, (2) mailing and (3) posting, all of which must be complied with. If the intention
of the law were otherwise, said section would not have stressed in detail the requirements
We find for petitioner. of mailing of notices to all persons named in the petition who, per Section 15 of the Decree,
include owners of adjoining properties, and occupants of the land. Indeed, if mailing of
Newspaper Publication Mandatory notices is essential, then by parity of reasoning, publication in a newspaper of general
circulation is likewise imperative since the law included such requirement in its detailed
provision.
The pertinent part of Section 23 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 requiring
It should be noted further that land registration is a proceeding in rem.[17] Being in
publication of the notice of initial hearing reads as follows:
rem, such proceeding requires constructive seizure of the land as against all persons,
Sec. 23. Notice of initial hearing, publication, etc. -- The court shall, within five days from including the state, who have rights to or interests in the property. An in rem proceeding is
filing of the application, issue an order setting the date and hour of the initial hearing which validated essentially through publication. This being so, the process must strictly be
shall not be earlier than forty-five days nor later than ninety days from the date of the complied with. Otherwise, persons who may be interested or whose rights may be
order. adversely affected would be barred from contesting an application which they had no
knowledge of. As has been ruled, a party as an owner seeking the inscription of realty in
the land registration court must prove by satisfactory and conclusive evidence not only his
The public shall be given notice of initial hearing of the application for land registration by
ownership thereof but the identity of the same, for he is in the same situation as one who
means of (1) publication; (2) mailing; and (3) posting.
institutes an action for recovery of realty.[18] He must prove his title against the whole
world. This task, which rests upon the applicant, can best be achieved when all persons
1. By publication. -- concerned -- nay, the whole world -- who have rights to or interests in the subject property
are notified and effectively invited to come to court and show cause why the application
should not be granted. The elementary norms of due process require that before the
claimed property is taken from concerned parties and registered in the name of the
applicant, said parties must be given notice and opportunity to oppose.
It may be asked why publication in a newspaper of general circulation should be
deemed mandatory when the law already requires notice by publication in the Official
Gazette as well as by mailing and posting, all of which have already been complied with in
the case at hand. The reason is due process and the reality that the Official Gazette is not as
widely read and circulated as newspapers and is oftentimes delayed in its circulation, such
that the notices published therein may not reach the interested parties on time, if at
all. Additionally, such parties may not be owners of neighboring properties, and may in fact
not own any other real estate. In sum, the all-encompassing in rem nature of land
registration cases, the consequences of default orders issued against the whole world and
the objective of disseminating the notice in as wide a manner as possible demand a
mandatory construction of the requirements for publication, mailing and posting.
Admittedly, there was failure to comply with the explicit publication requirement of
the law. Private respondents did not proffer any excuse; even if they had, it would not have
mattered because the statute itself allows no excuses. Ineludibly, this Court has no
authority to dispense with such mandatory requirement. The law is unambiguous and its
rationale clear. Time and again, this Court has declared that where the law speaks in clear
and categorical language, there is no room for interpretation, vacillation or equivocation;
there is room only for application.[19] There is no alternative. Thus, the application for land
registration filed by private respondents must be dismissed without prejudice to
reapplication in the future, after all the legal requisites shall have been duly complied with.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision and Resolution
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The application of private respondent for land registration
is DISMISSED without prejudice. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 73039 October 9, 1987 After trying to effect service, the process server went back to the court with the following
return of service to Quirino and Primitivo Cavili not contacted, according to Perfecta Cavili,
PERFECTA CAVILI, PRIMITIVO CAVILI and QUIRINO CAVILI, petitioners, subject persons is (sic) staying in Kabangkalan, Negros Occidental."
vs.
HON. TEODORO N. FLORENDO, Presiding Judge, Branch XXXVI, Regional Trial Court Meanwhile, Atty. Jose P. Alamino filed a motion for extension to answer in behalf of the
of Negros Oriental, 7th Judicial Region, CLARITA CAVILI, ULPIANO CAVILI, ESTRELLA defendants, manifesting the representation of his client Perfecta Cavili that she will inform
CAVILI, PLACIDA CAVILI, ET AL., respondents. her brothers Primitivo and Quirino about the case.

No. L-68680 October 9, 1987 The defendants, however, failed to file their answer within the request period and upon
motion of the plaintiffs, the defendants were declared in default, and on October 5, 1979, a
PERFECTA CAVILI, PRIMITIVO CAVILI and QUIRINO CAVILI, petitioners, judgment by default was promulgated by Judge Augusto S. Villarin.
vs.
HON. TEODORO N. FLORENDO, Presiding Judge, Branch XXXVI, Regional Trial Court, The records of the case, however, show that a Manifestation was filed by Atty. Jose P.
7th Judicial Region, CLARITA CAVILI, ULPIANO CAVILI, ESTRELLA CAVILI, PLACIDA Alamino informing the court that since he never met Primitivo and Quirino Cavili, who are
CAVILI, GREGORIA CAVILI, FORTUNATA CAVILI, AMILITA CAVILI, APAD CAVILI, residents of another province, he desisted from further appearing in the case in their
AQUILINA CAVILI, CRESENCIO CAVILI, ALMA CAVILI, ET AL., respondents. behalf.

No. L-57771 October 9, 1987 On November 7, 1979, Atty. Jose P. Alamillo received a copy of the decision. On December
7, 1979, he filed a motion for new trial in behalf of the defendants on grounds of lack of
QUIRINO CAVILI, PRIMITIVO, CAVILI, and PERFECTA CAVILI, petitioners, jurisdiction and, with a meritorious defense that the properties sought to be partitioned
vs. have already been the subject of a written partition agreement between the direct heirs of
HON. CIPRIANO VAMENTA, JR., as Presiding Judge, Branch III Court of First Instance the late Bernardo Cavili who are the predecessors of the parties in this case. In/an order
of Negros Oriental; ULPIANO CAVILI, CLARITA CAVILI, ESTRELLA CAVILI, RAMONA dated April 23, 1980, the court granted said motion.
TAKANG COSME TAKANG FABIAN TAKANG, LEODEGARIO TAKANG ET
AL., respondents. The plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration of the order granting new trial and at the
same time prayed that a writ of execution be issued but only in so far as defendant Perfecta
Cavili was concerned.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
In an order dated July 21, 1981, Judge Cipriano Vamenta of Branch III of the Court of First
This is a petition to review and set aside two orders of the then Court of First Instance of Instance of Negros Oriental to whom the case had been assigned after a re-raffle, set aside
Negros Oriental, namely: (1) the order dated October 11, 1985, disqualifying Perfects Cavili the order of April 23, 1980 and directed the execution of the October 5, 1979 decision
dela Cruz as a witness in Civil Case No. 6880 entitled "Clarita Cavili, et al. v. Perfecta Cavili, without qualification ruling that the petitioners' remedy should have been appeal rather
Quirino Cavili, and Primitivo Cavili" and (2) the order dated November 26, 1985, refusing than new trial.
to reconsider the previous orders of disqualification and resetting the reception of
evidence for the defendants to December 19 and 20, 1985 with a warning that should Their motion for reconsideration having been denied on August 11, 1981, the defendants,
defendants' witnesses fail to appear in court on said date, they will be deemed to have now petitioners, brought the case to this Court through a petition for certiorari, G.R. No.
waived their right to be witnesses in this case. 57771, entitled "Quirino Cavili, et al., Petitioners vs. Hon. Cipriano Vamenta, et al.,
Respondents "
The private respondents filed Civil Case No. 6880 with the Court of First Instance of Negros
Oriental against herein petitioners for Partition, Accounting, and Damages. After the case On May 31, 1982, this Court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
was raffled to Branch I presided over by Judge Augusto S. Villarin, summons was issued to
the three petitioners, all at Bayawan Negros Oriental which was the address indicated in WHEREFORE, Our resolution dismissing the petition is hereby
the complaint. reconsidered; the petition is granted; and the order dated July 21, 1981,
is set aside while that of April 23, 1980, is revived. (No special
pronouncement as to costs. Rollo p. 21)
Thereafter, the pre-trial and trial of Civil Case No. 6880 was scheduled on October 9, 10, saving clause excludes other exceptions. (In Re Estate of Enriquez, 29 Phil. 167) As a
and 11, 1985 before Branch XXXVI of the Regional Trial Court, presided by respondent general rule, where there are express exceptions these comprise the only limitations on
Judge Teodoro N. Florendo. The defendants, (now petitioners), presented Perfects Cavili the operation of a statute and no other exception will be implied. (Sutherland on Statutory
dela Cruz as their first witness. The respondents, through counsel moved for her Construction, Fourth Edition, Vol. 2A, p. 90) The Rules should not be interpreted to include
disqualification as a witness on the ground that having been declared in default, Perfects an exception not embodied therein.
Cavili has lost her standing in court and she cannot be allowed to participate in all premise
the even as a witness. The court, through the respondent judge, sustained the respondents' The respondents, however, cite Section 2, Rule 18 on Defaults, to wit:
contention and disqualified her from testifying.
Section 2. Effect of order of default. — Except as provided in section 9 of Rule 13, a party
The petitioners, through counsel, moved for a reconsideration of the ruling. declared in default shall not be entitled to notice of subsequent proceedings nor to take
part in the trial.
On November 26, 1985, the lower court issued an order denying reconsideration of its
Order dated October 11, 1985 disqualifying Perfecta Cavili dela Cruz as a witness in Civil They advance the argument that to allow Perfecta Cavili to stand as witness would be to
Case No. 6880. permit a party in default "to take part in the trial."

Hence, this petition. An explanation of the Rule is in order.

Petitioner Perfecta Cavili's competence as a witness is put in issue by the private Loss of standing in court is the consequence of an order of default. Thus, a party declared
respondents. in default is considered out of court and cannot appear therein, adduce evidence, and be
heard and for that reason he is not entitled to notice. (Rule 18, Rules of Court; Lim Toco v.
Section 18, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court states who are qualified to be witnesses. Go Fay, 80 Phil. 166) However, "loss of pending" must be understood to mean only the
It provides: forfeiture of one's rights as a party litigant, contestant or legal adversary. A party in default
loses his right to present his defense, control the proceedings, and examine or cross-
Section 18. Witnesses; their qualifications. — Except as provided in the next succeeding examine witnesses. He has no right to expect that his pleadings would be acted upon by the
section, all persons who, having organs of sense, can perceive, and perceiving, can make court nor may he object to or refute evidence or motions filed against him. There is nothing
known their perception to others, may be witnesses. Neither parties nor other persons in the rule, however, which contemplates a disqualification to be a witness or a opponent
interested in the outcome of a case shall be excluded; nor those who have been convicted in a case. Default does not make him an incompetent.
of crime; nor any person on account of his opinion on matters of religious belief.
As opposed to a party litigant, a witness is merely a beholder, a spectator or onlooker,
The generosity with which the Rule allows people to testify is apparent. Interest in the called upon to testify to what he has seen, heard, or observed. As such, he takes no active
outcome of a case, conviction of a crime unless otherwise provided by law, and religious part in the contest of rights between the parties. Cast in the cited role of witness, a party in
belief are not grounds for disqualification. default cannot be considered as " a part in the trial." He remains suffering the effects of an
order of default.
Sections 19 and 20 of Rule 130 provide for specific disqualifications. Section 19 disqualifies
those who are mentally incapacitated and children whose tender age or immaturity A party in default may thus be cited as a witness by his co-defendants who have the
renders them incapable of being witnesses. Section 20 provides for disqualification based standing and the right to present evidence which the former may provide. The incidental
on conflicts of interest or on relationship. Section 21 provides for disqualifications based benefit giving the party in default the opportunity to present evidence which may
on privileged communications. Section 15 of Rule 132 may not be a rule on disqualification eventually redound to his advantage or bring about a desired result, through his co-
of witnesses but it states the grounds when a witness may be impeached by the party defendants, is of minor consequence.
against whom he was called.
Of greater concern or importance in allowing the presence of Perfecta Cavili as a witness
There is no provision of the Rules disqualifying parties declared in default from taking the in the case at bar, is the preservation of the right of petitioners Quirino and Primitivo Cavili
witness stand for non-disqualified parties. The law does not provide default as an to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in their behalf. To
exception. The specific enumeration of disqualified witnesses excludes the operation of reject Perfects Cavili's presentation of testimonial evidence would be to treat Primitivo and
causes of disability other than those mentioned in the Rules. It is a maxim of recognized Quirino, as if they too were in default. There is no reason why the latter should also be
utility and merit in the construction of statutes that an express exception, exemption, or made to bear the consequences of Perfecta's omission. Moreover, we cannot deprive
Quirino and Primitivo of the only instrument of proof available to them, as Perfecta alone property either in his name and Clarita or in the names of his children with Clarita and
has been in possession and administration of the claim. other "dummies;" that Pacete ignored overtures for an amicable settlement; and that
reconciliation between her and Pacete was impossible since he evidently preferred to
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The order of the continue living with Clarita.
respondent court disqualifying. Perfects Cavili dela Cruz as a witness in Civil Case No. 6880
is hereby SET ASIDE. The case is remanded to the court a quo for Wither proceedings. The The defendants were each served with summons on 15 November 1979. They filed a
temporary restraining order issued on January 6, 1986 is LIFTED. motion for an extension of twenty (20) days from 30 November 1979 within which to file
an answer. The court granted the motion. On 18 December 1979, appearing through a new
SO ORDERED counsel, the defendants filed a second motion for an extension of another thirty (30) days
from 20 December 1979. On 07 January 1980, the lower court granted the motion but only
for twenty (20) days to be counted from 20 December 1979 or until 09 January 1980. The
Order of the court was mailed to defendants' counsel on 11 January 1980. Likely still
unaware of the court order, the defendants, on 05 February 1980, again filed another
motion (dated 18 January 1980) for an extension of "fifteen (15) days counted from the
G.R. No. L-53880 March 17, 1994 expiration of the 30-day period previously sought" within which to file an answer. The
following day, or on 06 February 1980, the court denied this last motion on the ground that
ENRICO L. PACETE, CLARITA DE LA CONCEPCION, EMELDA C. PACETE, EVELINA C. it was "filed after the original period given . . . as first extension had expired."1
PACETE and EDUARDO C. PACETE, petitioners,
vs. The plaintiff thereupon filed a motion to declare the defendants in default, which the court
HON. GLICERIO V. CARRIAGA, JR. and CONCEPCION (CONCHITA) ALANIS forthwith granted. The plaintiff was then directed to present her evidence. 2 The court
PACETE, respondents. received plaintiff's evidence during the hearings held on 15, 20, 21 and 22 February 1980.

Juan G. Sibug and Rodolfo B. Quiachon for petitioners. On 17 March 1980, the court3 promulgated the herein questioned decision, disposing of
the case, thus —
Julio F. Andres, Jr. for private respondent.
WHEREFORE, order is hereby issued ordering:

VITUG, J.: 1. The issuance of a Decree of Legal Separation of the marriage between,
the plaintiff, Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and the herein
The issue in this petition for certiorari is whether or not the Court of First Instance (now defendants, Enrico L. Pacete, in accordance with the Philippine laws and
Regional Trial Court) of Cotabato, Branch I, in Cotabato City, gravely abused its discretion with consequences, as provided for by our laws;
in denying petitioners' motion for extension of time to file their answer in Civil Case No.
2518, in declaring petitioners in default and in rendering its decision of 17 March 1980 2. That the following properties are hereby declared as the conjugal
which, among other things, decreed the legal separation of petitioner Enrico L. Pacete and properties of the partnership of the plaintiff, Concepcion (Conchita)
private respondent Concepcion Alanis and held to be null and void ab initio the marriage Alanis Pacete and the defendant, Enrico L. Pacete, half and half, to wit:
of Enrico L. Pacete to Clarita de la Concepcion.
1. The parcel of land covered by TCT No. V-815 which is a parcel of land
On 29 October 1979, Concepcion Alanis filed with the court below a complaint for the situated in the barrio of Langcong, Municipality of Matanog (previously
declaration of nullity of the marriage between her erstwhile husband Enrico L. Pacete and of Parang), province of Maguindanao (previously of Cotabato province)
one Clarita de la Concepcion, as well as for legal separation (between Alanis and Pacete), with an area of 45,265 square meters registered in the name of Enrico
accounting and separation of property. In her complaint, she averred that she was married Pacete, Filipino, of legal age, married to Conchita Alanis as shown in
to Pacete on 30 April 1938 before the Justice of the Peace of Cotabato, Cotabato; that they Exhibits "B" and "B-1" for the plaintiff.
had a child named Consuelo who was born on 11 March 1943; that Pacete subsequently
contracted (in 1948) a second marriage with Clarita de la Concepcion in Kidapawan, North
Cotabato; that she learned of such marriage only on 01 August 1979; that during her 2. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-20442,
marriage to Pacete, the latter acquired vast property consisting of large tracts of land, with an area of 538 square meters and covered by Tax Declaration No.
fishponds and several motor vehicles; that he fraudulently placed the several pieces of 2650 (74) in the name of Enrico Pacete, situated in the Poblacion of
Kidapawan, North Cotabato, together with all its improvements, which Tax Declaration No. 8716 (74) also in the name of Enrico Pacete which
parcel of land, as shown by Exhibits "K-1" was acquired by way of Enrico Pacete acquired from Agustin Bijo last July 16, 1963, as shown
absolute deed of sale executed by Amrosio Mondog on January 14, 1965. by Exhibit "N-1".

3. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-20424 10. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 12728 in
and covered by Tax Declaration No. 803 (74), with an area of 5.1670 the name of the defendant, Enrico L. Pacete, with an area of 10.9006
hectares, more or less, as shown by Exhibit "R", the same was registered hectares, situated at Linao, Matalam, North Cotabato and is also covered
in the name of Enrico Pacete and the same was acquired by Enrico by Tax Declaration No. 5745 (74) in the name of Enrico Pacete, as shown
Pacete last February 17, 1967 from Ambag Ampoy, as shown by Exhibit on Exhibit "O" and which Enrico Pacete acquired last December 31,
"R-1", situated at Musan, Kidapawan, North Cotabato. 1963 from Eliseo Pugni, as shown on Exhibit "0-1".

4. A parcel of land situated at Lanao, Kidapawan, North Cotabato, with 3. Ordering the Cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No. P-34243
an area of 5.0567 hectares, covered by Tax Declaration No. 4332 (74), covering Lot No. 1066, issued in the name of Evelina Pacete, situated at
as shown by Exhibit "S", and registered in the name of Enrico Pacete. Kiab, Matalam, North Cotabato, and ordering the registration of the
same in the joint name of Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and
5. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-9750, Enrico L. Pacete as their conjugal property, with address on the part of
situated at Lika, Mlang, North Cotabato, with an area of 4.9841 hectares Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete at Parang, Maguindanao and on
and the same is covered by Tax Declaration No. 803 (74) and registered the part of Enrico L. Pacete at Kidapawan, North Cotabato.
in the name of Enrico Pacete and which land was acquired by Enrico
Pacete from Salvador Pacete on September 24, 1962, as shown by 4. Ordering likewise the cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No.
Exhibit "Q-1". V-20101, covering Lot No. 77, in the name of Eduardo C. Pacete, situated
at New Lawaan, Mlang, North Cotabato, and the issuance of a new
6. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-9944, Transfer Certificate of Title in the joint name of (half and half)
with an area of 9.9566 and also covered by Tax Declaration No. 8608 Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and Enrico L. Pacete.
(74) and registered in the name of the defendant Enrico L. Pacete which
Enrico L. Pacete acquired from Sancho Balingcos last October 22, 1962, 5. Ordering likewise the cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No.
as shown by Exhibit "L-1" and which parcel of land is situated at P-29890, covering Lot 1068, situated at Kiab, Matalam, North Cotabato,
(Kialab), Kiab, Matalam, North Cotabato. with an area of 12.1031 hectares, in the name of Emelda C. Pacete and
the issuance of a new Transfer Certificate of Title in the joint name (half
7. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-9227, and half) of Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and Enrico L. Pacete;
situated at Kiab, Matalam, North Cotabato, with an area of 12.04339 and declaring that the fishpond situated at Barrio Tumanan, Bislig,
hectares, more or less, and also covered by Tax Declaration No. 8607 Surigao Del Sur, with an area of 48 hectares and covered by Fishpond
(74) both in the name of the defendant Enrico L. Pacete which he Lease Agreement of Emelda C. Pacete, dated July 29, 1977 be cancelled
acquired last October 15, 1962 from Minda Bernardino, as shown by and in lieu thereof, the joint name of Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis
Exhibit "M-1". Pacete and her husband, Enrico L. Pacete, be registered as their joint
property, including the 50 hectares fishpond situated in the same place,
Barrio Timanan, Bislig, Surigao del Sur.
8. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-9228,
situated at Kiab, Matalam, North Cotabato, with an area of 10.8908
hectares, registered in the name of Enrico Pacete and also covered by 6. Ordering the following motor vehicles to be the joint properties of the
Tax Declaration No. 5781 (74) in the name of Enrico Pacete and which conjugal partnership of Concepcion (Conchita) Alanis Pacete and Enrico
parcel of land he acquired last September 25, 1962 from Conchita dela L. Pacete, viz:
Torre, as shown by Exhibit "P-1".
a. Motor vehicle with Plate No. T-RG-783; Make, Dodge; Motor No. T137-
9. A parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-10301, 20561; Chassis No. 83920393, and Type, Mcarrier;
situated at Linao, Matalam, North Cotabato, with an area of 7.2547
hectares, registered in the name of Enrico Pacete and also covered by
b. Motor vehicle with Plate No. T-RG-784; Make, Dodge; Motor No. In case of non-appearance of the defendant, the court shall order the
T214-229547; Chassis No. 10D-1302-C; and Type, Mcarrier; prosecuting attorney to inquire whether or not a collusion between the
parties exists. If there is no collusion, the prosecuting attorney shall
c. Motor vehicle with Plate No. J-PR-818; Make, Ford; Motor No. GRW- intervene for the State in order to take care that the evidence for the
116188; Chassis No. HOCC-GPW-1161-88-C; Type, Jeep; plaintiff is not fabricated.

d. Motor vehicle with Plate No. TH-5J-583; Make, Ford: Motor No. The provision has been taken from Article 30 of the California Civil Code, 8 and it is, in
F70MU5-11111; Chassis No. HOCC-GPW-1161188-G; Type, Stake; substance, reproduced in Article 60 of the Family Code.9

e. Motor vehicle with Plate No. TH-5J-584; Make, Hino; Motor No. Article 101 reflects the public policy on marriages, and it should easily explain the
ED300-45758; Chassis No. KB222-22044; Type, Stake; and mandatory tenor of the law. In Brown v. Yambao, 10 the Court has observed:

f. Motor vehicle with Plate No. TH-5J-585; Make, Ford: Motor No. LTC- The policy of Article 101 of the new Civil Code, calling for the
780-Dv; Chassis No. 10F-13582-K; Type, Stake. intervention of the state attorneys in case of uncontested proceedings
for legal separation (and of annulment of marriages, under Article 88),
is to emphasize that marriage is more than a mere contract; that it is a
7. Ordering the defendant Enrico L. Pacete to pay the plaintiff the sum social institution in which the state is vitally interested, so that its
of P46,950.00 which is the share of the plaintiff in the unaccounted continuation or interruption can not be made to depend upon the
income of the ricemill and corn sheller for three years from 1971 to parties themselves (Civil Code, Article 52; Adong vs. Cheong Gee, 43
1973. Phil. 43; Ramirez v. Gmur, 42 Phil. 855; Goitia v. Campos, 35 Phil. 252).
It is consonant with this policy that the inquiry by the Fiscal should be
8. Ordering the defendant, Enrico L. Pacete, to reimburse the plaintiff allowed to focus upon any relevant matter that may indicate whether
the monetary equipment of 30% of whether the plaintiff has recovered the proceedings for separation or annulment are fully justified or not.
as attorney's fees;
Article 103 of the Civil Code, now Article 58 of the Family Code, further mandates that an
9. Declaring the subsequent marriage between defendant Enrico L. action for legal separation must "in no case be tried before six months shall have elapsed
Pacete and Clarita de la Concepcion to be void ab initio; and since the filing of the petition," obviously in order to provide the parties a "cooling-off"
period. In this interim, the court should take steps toward getting the parties to reconcile.
10. Ordering the defendants to pay the costs of this suit.4
The significance of the above substantive provisions of the law is further underscored by
Hence, the instant special civil action of certiorari. the inclusion of the following provision in Rule 18 of the Rules of Court:

Under ordinary circumstances, the petition would have outrightly been dismissed, for, as Sec. 6. No defaults in actions for annulments of marriage or for legal
also pointed out by private respondents, the proper remedy of petitioners should have separation. — If the defendant in an action for annulment of marriage
instead been either to appeal from the judgment by default or to file a petition for relief or for legal separation fails to answer, the court shall order the
from judgment.5 This rule, however, is not inflexible; a petition for certiorari is allowed prosecuting attorney to investigate whether or not a collusion between
when the default order is improperly declared, or even when it is properly declared, where the parties exists, and if there is no collusion, to intervene for the State
grave abuse of discretion attended such declaration.6 In these exceptional instances, the in order to see to it that the evidence submitted is not fabricated.
special civil action of certiorari to declare the nullity of a judgment by default is
available.7 In the case at bench, the default order unquestionably is not legally sanctioned. The special prescriptions on actions that can put the integrity of marriage to possible
The Civil Code provides: jeopardy are impelled by no less than the State's interest in the marriage relation and its
avowed intention not to leave the matter within the exclusive domain and the vagaries of
Art. 101. No decree of legal separation shall be promulgated upon a the parties to alone dictate.
stipulation of facts or by confession of judgment.
It is clear that the petitioner did, in fact, specifically pray for legal separation. 11 That other
remedies, whether principal or incidental, have likewise been sought in the same action
cannot dispense, nor excuse compliance, with any of the statutory requirements
aforequoted.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is hereby GRANTED and the proceedings below,
including the Decision of 17 March 1980 appealed from, are NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE. No
costs.

SO ORDERED.

(ramnani case)
G.R. No. 75919 May 7, 1987 producing the effect of payment and to make the injunction permanent. The amount of
damages sought is not specified in the prayer although the body of the complaint alleges
MANCHESTER DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET AL., petitioners, the total amount of over P78 Million as damages suffered by plaintiff.5
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, CITY LAND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, STEPHEN ROXAS, 3. Upon the filing of the complaint there was an honest difference of opinion as to the
ANDREW LUISON, GRACE LUISON and JOSE DE MAISIP, respondents. nature of the action in the Magaspi case. The complaint was considered as primarily an
action for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of land. The damages stated
Tanjuatco, Oreta and Tanjuatco for petitioners. were treated as merely to the main cause of action. Thus, the docket fee of only P60.00 and
P10.00 for the sheriff's fee were paid. 6
Pecabar Law Offices for private respondents.
In the present case there can be no such honest difference of opinion. As maybe gleaned
from the allegations of the complaint as well as the designation thereof, it is both an action
RESOLUTION for damages and specific performance. The docket fee paid upon filing of complaint in the
amount only of P410.00 by considering the action to be merely one for specific
performance where the amount involved is not capable of pecuniary estimation is
GANCAYCO, J.: obviously erroneous. Although the total amount of damages sought is not stated in the
prayer of the complaint yet it is spelled out in the body of the complaint totalling in the
Acting on the motion for reconsideration of the resolution of the Second Division of January amount of P78,750,000.00 which should be the basis of assessment of the filing fee.
28,1987 and another motion to refer the case to and to be heard in oral argument by the
Court En Banc filed by petitioners, the motion to refer the case to the Court en banc is 4. When this under-re assessment of the filing fee in this case was brought to the attention
granted but the motion to set the case for oral argument is denied. of this Court together with similar other cases an investigation was immediately ordered
by the Court. Meanwhile plaintiff through another counsel with leave of court filed an
Petitioners in support of their contention that the filing fee must be assessed on the basis amended complaint on September 12, 1985 for the inclusion of Philips Wire and Cable
of the amended complaint cite the case of Magaspi vs. Ramolete. 1 They contend that the Corporation as co-plaintiff and by emanating any mention of the amount of damages in the
Court of Appeals erred in that the filing fee should be levied by considering the amount of body of the complaint. The prayer in the original complaint was maintained. After this
damages sought in the original complaint. Court issued an order on October 15, 1985 ordering the re- assessment of the docket fee in
the present case and other cases that were investigated, on November 12, 1985 the trial
court directed plaintiffs to rectify the amended complaint by stating the amounts which
The environmental facts of said case differ from the present in that — they are asking for. It was only then that plaintiffs specified the amount of damages in the
body of the complaint in the reduced amount of P10,000,000.00. 7 Still no amount of
1. The Magaspi case was an action for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of damages were specified in the prayer. Said amended complaint was admitted.
land with damages.2While the present case is an action for torts and damages and specific
performance with prayer for temporary restraining order, etc.3 On the other hand, in the Magaspi case, the trial court ordered the plaintiffs to pay the
amount of P3,104.00 as filing fee covering the damages alleged in the original complaint as
2. In the Magaspi case, the prayer in the complaint seeks not only the annulment of title of it did not consider the damages to be merely an or incidental to the action for recovery of
the defendant to the property, the declaration of ownership and delivery of possession ownership and possession of real property. 8 An amended complaint was filed by plaintiff
thereof to plaintiffs but also asks for the payment of actual moral, exemplary damages and with leave of court to include the government of the Republic as defendant and reducing
attorney's fees arising therefrom in the amounts specified therein. 4However, in the the amount of damages, and attorney's fees prayed for to P100,000.00. Said amended
present case, the prayer is for the issuance of a writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction complaint was also admitted. 9
during the pendency of the action against the defendants' announced forfeiture of the sum
of P3 Million paid by the plaintiffs for the property in question, to attach such property of In the Magaspi case, the action was considered not only one for recovery of ownership but
defendants that maybe sufficient to satisfy any judgment that maybe rendered, and after also for damages, so that the filing fee for the damages should be the basis of assessment.
hearing, to order defendants to execute a contract of purchase and sale of the subject Although the payment of the docketing fee of P60.00 was found to be insufficient,
property and annul defendants' illegal forfeiture of the money of plaintiff, ordering nevertheless, it was held that since the payment was the result of an "honest difference of
defendants jointly and severally to pay plaintiff actual, compensatory and exemplary opinion as to the correct amount to be paid as docket fee" the court "had acquired
damages as well as 25% of said amounts as maybe proved during the trial as attorney's jurisdiction over the case and the proceedings thereafter had were proper and
fees and declaring the tender of payment of the purchase price of plaintiff valid and regular." 10 Hence, as the amended complaint superseded the original complaint, the
allegations of damages in the amended complaint should be the basis of the computation The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the prescribed
of the filing fee. 11 docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest
jurisdiction in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based on the amounts
In the present case no such honest difference of opinion was possible as the allegations of sought in the amended pleading. The ruling in the Magaspi case 14 in so far as it is
the complaint, the designation and the prayer show clearly that it is an action for damages inconsistent with this pronouncement is overturned and reversed.
and specific performance. The docketing fee should be assessed by considering the amount
of damages as alleged in the original complaint. WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is denied for lack of merit.

As reiterated in the Magaspi case the rule is well-settled "that a case is deemed filed only SO ORDERED.
upon payment of the docket fee regardless of the actual date of filing in court . 12 Thus, in
the present case the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by the payment of
only P410.00 as docket fee. Neither can the amendment of the complaint thereby vest
jurisdiction upon the Court. 13 For an legal purposes there is no such original complaint
that was duly filed which could be amended. Consequently, the order admitting the
amended complaint and all subsequent proceedings and actions taken by the trial court
are null and void.

The Court of Appeals therefore, aptly ruled in the present case that the basis of assessment
of the docket fee should be the amount of damages sought in the original complaint and
not in the amended complaint.

The Court cannot close this case without making the observation that it frowns at the
practice of counsel who filed the original complaint in this case of omitting any
specification of the amount of damages in the prayer although the amount of over P78
million is alleged in the body of the complaint. This is clearly intended for no other purpose
than to evade the payment of the correct filing fees if not to mislead the docket clerk in the
assessment of the filing fee. This fraudulent practice was compounded when, even as this
Court had taken cognizance of the anomaly and ordered an investigation, petitioner
through another counsel filed an amended complaint, deleting all mention of the amount
of damages being asked for in the body of the complaint. It was only when in obedience to
the order of this Court of October 18, 1985, the trial court directed that the amount of
damages be specified in the amended complaint, that petitioners' counsel wrote the
damages sought in the much reduced amount of P10,000,000.00 in the body of the
complaint but not in the prayer thereof. The design to avoid payment of the required
docket fee is obvious.

The Court serves warning that it will take drastic action upon a repetition of this unethical
practice.

To put a stop to this irregularity, henceforth all complaints, petitions, answers and other
similar pleadings should specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the
body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the
assessment of the filing fees in any case. Any pleading that fails to comply with this
requirement shall not bib accepted nor admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the
record.
G.R. Nos. 79937-38 February 13, 1989 certificates of re-assessment of docket fees. All litigants were likewise required to specify
in their pleadings the amount sought to be recovered in their complaints.
SUN INSURANCE OFFICE, LTD., (SIOL), E.B. PHILIPPS and D.J. WARBY, petitioners,
vs. On December 16, 1985, Judge Antonio P. Solano, to whose sala Civil Case No. Q-41177 was
HON. MAXIMIANO C. ASUNCION, Presiding Judge, Branch 104, Regional Trial Court, temporarily assigned, issuedan order to the Clerk of Court instructing him to issue a
Quezon City and MANUEL CHUA UY PO TIONG, respondents. certificate of assessment of the docket fee paid by private respondent and, in case of
deficiency, to include the same in said certificate.
Romulo, Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayoc & De los Angeles Law Offices for petitioners.
Tanjuatco, Oreta, Tanjuatco, Berenguer & Sanvicente Law Offices for private respondent. On January 7, 1984, to forestall a default, a cautionary answer was filed by petitioners. On
August 30,1984, an amended complaint was filed by private respondent including the two
additional defendants aforestated.
GANCAYCO, J.:
Judge Maximiano C. Asuncion, to whom Civil Case No. Q41177 was thereafter assigned,
Again the Court is asked to resolve the issue of whether or not a court acquires jurisdiction after his assumption into office on January 16, 1986, issued a Supplemental Order
over a case when the correct and proper docket fee has not been paid. requiring the parties in the case to comment on the Clerk of Court's letter-report signifying
her difficulty in complying with the Resolution of this Court of October 15, 1985 since the
pleadings filed by private respondent did not indicate the exact amount sought to be
On February 28, 1984, petitioner Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL for brevity) filed a recovered. On January 23, 1986, private respondent filed a "Compliance" and a "Re-
complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Metro Manila for the consignation of a Amended Complaint" stating therein a claim of "not less than Pl0,000,000. 00 as actual
premium refund on a fire insurance policy with a prayer for the judicial declaration of its compensatory damages" in the prayer. In the body of the said second amended complaint
nullity against private respondent Manuel Uy Po Tiong. Private respondent as declared in however, private respondent alleges actual and compensatory damages and attorney's fees
default for failure to file the required answer within the reglementary period. in the total amount of about P44,601,623.70.

On the other hand, on March 28, 1984, private respondent filed a complaint in the Regional On January 24, 1986, Judge Asuncion issued another Order admitting the second amended
Trial Court of Quezon City for the refund of premiums and the issuance of a writ of complaint and stating therein that the same constituted proper compliance with the
preliminary attachment which was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-41177, initially against Resolution of this Court and that a copy thereof should be furnished the Clerk of Court for
petitioner SIOL, and thereafter including E.B. Philipps and D.J. Warby as additional the reassessment of the docket fees. The reassessment by the Clerk of Court based on
defendants. The complaint sought, among others, the payment of actual, compensatory, private respondent's claim of "not less than P10,000,000.00 as actual and compensatory
moral, exemplary and liquidated damages, attorney's fees, expenses of litigation and costs damages" amounted to P39,786.00 as docket fee. This was subsequently paid by private
of the suit. Although the prayer in the complaint did not quantify the amount of damages respondent.
sought said amount may be inferred from the body of the complaint to be about Fifty
Million Pesos (P50,000,000.00).
Petitioners then filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals questioning the
said order of Judie Asuncion dated January 24, 1986.
Only the amount of P210.00 was paid by private respondent as docket fee which prompted
petitioners' counsel to raise his objection. Said objection was disregarded by respondent
Judge Jose P. Castro who was then presiding over said case. Upon the order of this Court, On April 24, 1986, private respondent filed a supplemental complaint alleging an
the records of said case together with twenty-two other cases assigned to different additional claim of P20,000,000.00 as d.qmages so the total claim amounts to about
branches of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City which were under investigation for P64,601,623.70. On October 16, 1986, or some seven months after filing the supplemental
under-assessment of docket fees were transmitted to this Court. The Court thereafter complaint, the private respondent paid the additional docket fee of P80,396.00.1
returned the said records to the trial court with the directive that they be re-raffled to the
other judges in Quezon City, to the exclusion of Judge Castro. Civil Case No. Q-41177 was On August 13, 1987, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision ruling, among others, as
re-raffled to Branch 104, a sala which was then vacant. follows:

On October 15, 1985, the Court en banc issued a Resolution in Administrative Case No. 85- WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
10-8752-RTC directing the judges in said cases to reassess the docket fees and that in case
of deficiency, to order its payment. The Resolution also requires all clerks of court to issue 1. Denying due course to the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 1, 09715 insofar
as it seeks annulment of the order
(a) denying petitioners' motion to dismiss the complaint, as amended, In Lazaro vs. Endencia and Andres, 7 this Court held that the payment of the full amount of
and the docket fee is an indispensable step for the perfection of an appeal. In a forcible entry
and detainer case before the justice of the peace court of Manaoag, Pangasinan, after notice
(b) granting the writ of preliminary attachment, but giving due course of a judgment dismissing the case, the plaintiff filed a notice of appeal with said court but
to the portion thereof questioning the reassessment of the docketing he deposited only P8.00 for the docket fee, instead of P16.00 as required, within the
fee, and requiring the Honorable respondent Court to reassess the reglementary period of appeal of five (5) days after receiving notice of judgment. Plaintiff
docketing fee to be paid by private respondent on the basis of the deposited the additional P8.00 to complete the amount of the docket fee only fourteen (14)
amount of P25,401,707.00. 2 days later. On the basis of these facts, this court held that the Court of First Instance did
notacquire jurisdiction to hear and determine the appeal as the appeal was not thereby
perfected.
Hence, the instant petition.
In Lee vs. Republic, 8 the petitioner filed a verified declaration of intention to become a
During the pendency of this petition and in conformity with the said judgment of Filipino citizen by sending it through registered mail to the Office of the Solicitor General
respondent court, private respondent paid the additional docket fee of P62,432.90 on April in 1953 but the required filing fee was paid only in 1956, barely 5V2 months prior to the
28, 1988. 3 filing of the petition for citizenship. This Court ruled that the declaration was not filed in
accordance with the legal requirement that such declaration should be filed at least one
The main thrust of the petition is that the Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the year before the filing of the petition for citizenship. Citing Lazaro, this Court concluded that
lower court did not acquire jurisdiction over Civil Case No. Q-41177 on the ground of the filing of petitioner's declaration of intention on October 23, 1953 produced no legal
nonpayment of the correct and proper docket fee. Petitioners allege that while it may be effect until the required filing fee was paid on May 23, 1956.
true that private respondent had paid the amount of P182,824.90 as docket fee as herein-
above related, and considering that the total amount sought to be recovered in the In Malimit vs. Degamo, 9 the same principles enunciated in Lazaro and Lee were applied. It
amended and supplemental complaint is P64,601,623.70 the docket fee that should be paid was an original petition for quo warranto contesting the right to office of proclaimed
by private respondent is P257,810.49, more or less. Not having paid the same, petitioners candidates which was mailed, addressed to the clerk of the Court of First Instance, within
contend that the complaint should be dismissed and all incidents arising therefrom should the one-week period after the proclamation as provided therefor by law.10However, the
be annulled. In support of their theory, petitioners cite the latest ruling of the Court required docket fees were paid only after the expiration of said period. Consequently, this
in Manchester Development Corporation vs. CA, 4 as follows: Court held that the date of such payment must be deemed to be the real date of filing of
aforesaid petition and not the date when it was mailed.
The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of
the prescribed docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar Again, in Garica vs, Vasquez, 11 this Court reiterated the rule that the docket fee must be
pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction in the Court, much less the paid before a court will act on a petition or complaint. However, we also held that said rule
payment of the docket fee based on the amounts sought in the amended is not applicable when petitioner seeks the probate of several wills of the same decedent
pleading. The ruling in the Magaspi Case in so far as it is inconsistent as he is not required to file a separate action for each will but instead he may have other
with this pronouncement is overturned and reversed. wills probated in the same special proceeding then pending before the same court.

On the other hand, private respondent claims that the ruling in Manchester cannot apply Then in Magaspi, 12 this Court reiterated the ruling in Malimit and Lee that a case is deemed
retroactively to Civil Case No. Q41177 for at the time said civil case was filed in court there filed only upon payment of the docket fee regardless of the actual date of its filing in court.
was no such Manchester ruling as yet. Further, private respondent avers that what is Said case involved a complaint for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of land
applicable is the ruling of this Court in Magaspi v. Ramolete, 5 wherein this Court held that with damages filed in the Court of First Instance of Cebu. Upon the payment of P60.00 for
the trial court acquired jurisdiction over the case even if the docket fee paid was the docket fee and P10.00 for the sheriffs fee, the complaint was docketed as Civil Case No.
insufficient. R-11882. The prayer of the complaint sought that the Transfer Certificate of Title issued in
the name of the defendant be declared as null and void. It was also prayed that plaintiff be
The contention that Manchester cannot apply retroactively to this case is untenable. declared as owner thereof to whom the proper title should be issued, and that defendant
Statutes regulating the procedure of the courts will be construed as applicable to actions be made to pay monthly rentals of P3,500.00 from June 2, 1948 up to the time the property
pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are retrospective is delivered to plaintiff, P500,000.00 as moral damages, attorney's fees in the amount of
in that sense and to that extent. 6 P250,000.00, the costs of the action and exemplary damages in the amount of P500,000.00.
The defendant then filed a motion to compel the plaintiff to pay the correct amount of the allegations of the complaint as well as its designation that the action was one for damages
docket fee to which an opposition was filed by the plaintiff alleging that the action was for and specific performance. Thus, this court held the plaintiff must be assessed the correct
the recovery of a parcel of land so the docket fee must be based on its assessed value and docket fee computed against the amount of damages of about P78 Million, although the
that the amount of P60.00 was the correct docketing fee. The trial court ordered the same was not spelled out in the prayer of the complaint.
plaintiff to pay P3,104.00 as filing fee.
Meanwhile, plaintiff through another counsel, with leave of court, filed an amended
The plaintiff then filed a motion to admit the amended complaint to include the Republic complaint on September 12, 1985 by the inclusion of another co-plaintiff and eliminating
as the defendant. In the prayer of the amended complaint the exemplary damages earlier any mention of the amount of damages in the body of the complaint. The prayer in the
sought was eliminated. The amended prayer merely sought moral damages as the court original complaint was maintained.
may determine, attorney's fees of P100,000.00 and the costs of the action. The defendant
filed an opposition to the amended complaint. The opposition notwithstanding, the On October 15, 1985, this Court ordered the re-assessment of the docket fee in the said
amended complaint was admitted by the trial court. The trial court reiterated its order for case and other cases that were investigated. On November 12, 1985, the trial court directed
the payment of the additional docket fee which plaintiff assailed and then challenged the plaintiff to rectify the amended complaint by stating the amounts which they were
before this Court. Plaintiff alleged that he paid the total docket fee in the amount of P60.00 asking for. This plaintiff did as instructed. In the body of the complaint the amount of
and that if he has to pay the additional fee it must be based on the amended complaint. damages alleged was reduced to P10,000,000.00 but still no amount of damages was
specified in the prayer. Said amended complaint was admitted.
The question posed, therefore, was whether or not the plaintiff may be considered to have
filed the case even if the docketing fee paid was not sufficient. In Magaspi, We reiterated Applying the principle in Magaspi that "the case is deemed filed only upon payment of the
the rule that the case was deemed filed only upon the payment of the correct amount for docket fee regardless of the actual date of filing in court," this Court held that the trial court
the docket fee regardless of the actual date of the filing of the complaint; that there was an did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by payment of only P410.00 for the docket fee.
honest difference of opinion as to the correct amount to be paid as docket fee in that as the Neither can the amendment of the complaint thereby vest jurisdiction upon the Court. For
action appears to be one for the recovery of property the docket fee of P60.00 was correct; all legal purposes there was no such original complaint duly filed which could be amended.
and that as the action is also one, for damages, We upheld the assessment of the additional Consequently, the order admitting the amended complaint and all subsequent proceedings
docket fee based on the damages alleged in the amended complaint as against the and actions taken by the trial court were declared null and void.13
assessment of the trial court which was based on the damages alleged in the original
complaint.
The present case, as above discussed, is among the several cases of under-assessment of
docket fee which were investigated by this Court together with Manchester. The facts and
However, as aforecited, this Court overturned Magaspi in Manchester. Manchester involves circumstances of this case are similar to Manchester. In the body of the original complaint,
an action for torts and damages and specific performance with a prayer for the issuance of the total amount of damages sought amounted to about P50 Million. In the prayer, the
a temporary restraining order, etc. The prayer in said case is for the issuance of a writ of amount of damages asked for was not stated. The action was for the refund of the premium
preliminary prohibitory injunction during the pendency of the action against the and the issuance of the writ of preliminary attachment with damages. The amount of only
defendants' announced forfeiture of the sum of P3 Million paid by the plaintiffs for the P210.00 was paid for the docket fee. On January 23, 1986, private respondent filed an
property in question, the attachment of such property of defendants that may be sufficient amended complaint wherein in the prayer it is asked that he be awarded no less than
to satisfy any judgment that may be rendered, and, after hearing, the issuance of an order P10,000,000.00 as actual and exemplary damages but in the body of the complaint the
requiring defendants to execute a contract of purchase and sale of the subject property and amount of his pecuniary claim is approximately P44,601,623.70. Said amended complaint
annul defendants' illegal forfeiture of the money of plaintiff. It was also prayed that the was admitted and the private respondent was reassessed the additional docket fee of
defendants be made to pay the plaintiff jointly and severally, actual, compensatory and P39,786.00 based on his prayer of not less than P10,000,000.00 in damages, which he paid.
exemplary damages as well as 25% of said amounts as may be proved during the trial for
attorney's fees. The plaintiff also asked the trial court to declare the tender of payment of
the purchase price of plaintiff valid and sufficient for purposes of payment, and to make On April 24, 1986, private respondent filed a supplemental complaint alleging an
the injunction permanent. The amount of damages sought is not specified in the prayer additional claim of P20,000,000.00 in damages so that his total claim is approximately
although the body of the complaint alleges the total amount of over P78 Millon allegedly P64,601,620.70. On October 16, 1986, private respondent paid an additional docket fee of
suffered by plaintiff. P80,396.00. After the promulgation of the decision of the respondent court on August 31,
1987 wherein private respondent was ordered to be reassessed for additional docket fee,
and during the pendency of this petition, and after the promulgation of Manchester, on
Upon the filing of the complaint, the plaintiff paid the amount of only P410.00 for the April 28, 1988, private respondent paid an additional docket fee of P62,132.92. Although
docket fee based on the nature of the action for specific performance where the amount private respondent appears to have paid a total amount of P182,824.90 for the docket fee
involved is not capable of pecuniary estimation. However, it was obvious from the considering the total amount of his claim in the amended and supplemental complaint
amounting to about P64,601,620.70, petitioner insists that private respondent must pay a WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Clerk of Court of the court a
docket fee of P257,810.49. quo is hereby instructed to reassess and determine the additional filing fee that should be
paid by private respondent considering the total amount of the claim sought in the original
The principle in Manchester could very well be applied in the present case. The pattern and complaint and the supplemental complaint as may be gleaned from the allegations and the
the intent to defraud the government of the docket fee due it is obvious not only in the filing prayer thereof and to require private respondent to pay the deficiency, if any, without
of the original complaint but also in the filing of the second amended complaint. pronouncement as to costs.

However, in Manchester, petitioner did not pay any additional docket fee until] the case SO ORDERED.
was decided by this Court on May 7, 1987. Thus, in Manchester, due to the fraud committed
on the government, this Court held that the court a quo did not acquire jurisdiction over
the case and that the amended complaint could not have been admitted inasmuch as the
original complaint was null and void.

In the present case, a more liberal interpretation of the rules is called for considering that,
unlike Manchester, private respondent demonstrated his willingness to abide by the rules
by paying the additional docket fees as required. The promulgation of the decision in
Manchester must have had that sobering influence on private respondent who thus paid
the additional docket fee as ordered by the respondent court. It triggered his change of
stance by manifesting his willingness to pay such additional docket fee as may be ordered.

Nevertheless, petitioners contend that the docket fee that was paid is still insufficient
considering the total amount of the claim. This is a matter which the clerk of court of the
lower court and/or his duly authorized docket clerk or clerk in-charge should determine
and, thereafter, if any amount is found due, he must require the private respondent to pay
the same.

Thus, the Court rules as follows:

1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the
payment of the prescribed docket fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the
subject matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the initiatory pleading is not
accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee within
a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary
period.

2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third party claims and similar
pleadings, which shall not be considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed
therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee within a reasonable time but
also in no case beyond its applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.

3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the appropriate
pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment awards
a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified the same has been left for determination
by the court, the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It shall
be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized deputy to enforce said lien
and assess and collect the additional fee.
G.R. Nos. 88075-77 December 20, 1989 3) that each defendant be ordered to pay:

MAXIMO TACAY, PONCIANO PANES and ANTONIA NOEL, petitioners, 1 ) P 2,000 as monthly rents from February, 1987;
vs.
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF TAGUM Davao del Norte, Branches 1 and 2, Presided by 2 ) Actual damages, as proven;
Hon. Marcial Fernandez and Hon. Jesus Matas, respectively, PATSITA GAMUTAN,
Clerk of Court, and GODOFREDO PINEDA, respondents.
3 ) Moral and nominal damages as the Honorable Court may fix ;
Eduardo C. De Vera for petitioners.
4) P30,000.00, "as attorney's fees, and representation fees of P5,000.00
per day of appearance;" 4
RESOLUTION
and

4) that he (Pineda) be granted such "further relief and remedies ... just
NARVASA, J.: and equitable in the premises.

In the Regional Trial Court at Tagum, Davao del Norte, 1 three The prayer of each complaint contained a handwritten notation (evidently made by
plaintiff's counsel) reading, "P5,000.00 as and for," immediately above the typewritten
(3) actions for recovery of possession (acciones publicianas 2 ) were separately instituted words, "Actual damages, as proven," the intention apparently being to make the entire
by Godofredo Pineda against three (3) defendants, docketed as follows: phrase read, " P5,000.00 as and for actual damages as proven. 5

1) vs. Antonia Noel Civil Case No. 2209 Motions to dismiss were filed in behalf of each of the defendants by common counsel
.6 Every motion alleged that the Trial Court had not acquired jurisdiction of the case —
2) vs. Ponciano Panes Civil Case No. 2210
. . . for the reason that the ... complaint violates the mandatory and clear
3) vs. Maximo Tacay Civil Case No. 2211. provision of Circular No. 7 of the ... Supreme Court dated March 24,1988,
by failing to specify all the amounts of damages which plaintiff is
claiming from defendant;" and
Civil Cases Numbered 2209 and 2211 were raffled to Branch I of the Trial Court, presided
over by Judge Marcial Hernandez. Civil No. 2210 was assigned to Branch 2, presided over
by Judge Jesus Matas. . . . for ... failure (of the complaint) to even allege the basic requirement
as to the assessed value of the subject lot in dispute.
The complaints 3 all alleged the same essential facts (1) Pineda was the owner of a parcel
of land measuring 790 square meters, his ownership being evidenced by TCT No. T-46560; Judge Matas denied the motion to dismiss filed in Civil Case No. 2210 but ordered the
(2) the previous owner had allowed the defendants to occupy portions of the land by mere expunction of the "allegations in paragraph 11 of the ... complaint regarding moral as well
tolerance; (3) having himself need to use the property, Pineda had made demands on the as nominal damages . 7 On motion of defendant Panes, Judge Matas later ordered the
defendants to vacate the property and pay reasonable rentals therefor, but these demands striking out, too, of the "handwritten amount of 'P5,000. 00 as and for.' including the
had been refused; and (4) the last demand had been made more than a year prior to the typewritten words 'actual damages as proven' ... in sub-paragraph b of paragraph 4 in the
commencement of suit. The complaints prayed for the same reliefs, to wit: conclusion and prayer of the complaint ..." 8

1) that plaintiff be declared owner of the areas occupied by the The motions to dismiss submitted in Civil Cases Numbered 2211 and 2209 were also
defendants; denied in separate orders promulgated by Judge Marcial Fernandez. 9 His Order in Case No.
2209 dated March 15, 1989 (a) declared that since the "action at bar is for Reivindicatoria,
Damages and Attorney's fees ... (d)efinitely this Court has the exclusive jurisdiction," (b)
2) that defendants and their "privies and allies" be ordered to vacate that the claims for actual, moral and nominal damages "are only one aspect of the cause of
and deliver the portions of the land usurped by them;
action," and (c) because of absence of specification of the amounts claimed as moral, Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial
nominal and actual damages, they should be "expunged from the records." Courts." 14 The rule applies regardless of the value of the real property involved, whether
it be worth more than P20,000.00 or not, infra. The rule also applies even where the
Ascribing grave abuse of discretion to both Judges Matas and Fernandez in the rendition of complaint involving realty also prays for an award of damages; the amount of those
the Orders above described, the defendants in all three (3) actions have filed with this damages would be immaterial to the question of the Court's jurisdiction. The rule is unlike
Court a "Joint Petition" for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, with prayer for that in other cases e.g., actions simply for recovery of money or of personal property, 15 or
temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary prohibitory injunction," praying actions in admiralty and maritime jurisdiction 16 in which the amount claimed, 17 or the
essentially that said orders be annulled and respondent judges directed to dismiss all the value of the personal property, is determinative of jurisdiction; i.e., the value of the
complaints "without prejudice to private respondent Pineda's re-filing a similar complaint personal property or the amount claimed should exceed twenty thousand pesos
that complies with Circular No. 7." The joint petition (a) re-asserted the proposition that (P20,000.00) in order to be cognizable by the Regional Trial Court.
because the complaints had failed to state the amounts being claimed as actual, moral and
nominal damages, the Trial Courts a quo had not acquired jurisdiction over the three (3) Circular No. 7 of this Court, dated March 24, 1988, cannot thus be invoked, as the petitioner
actions in question-indeed, the respondent Clerk of Court should not have accepted the does, as authority for the dismissal of the actions at bar. That circular, avowedly inspired
complaints which initiated said suits, and (b) it was not proper merely to expunge the by the doctrine laid down in Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of appeals, 149
claims for damages and allow "the so-called cause of action for "reivindicatoria" remain for SCRA 562 (May 7, 1987), has but limited application to said actions, as shall presently be
trial" by itself. 10 discussed. Moreover, the rules therein laid down have since been clarified and amplified
by the Court's subsequent decision in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) v. Asuncion, et al.,
The joint petition should be, as it is hereby, dismissed. G.R. Nos. 79937-38, February 13, 1989.

It should be dismissed for failure to comply with this Court's Circular No. 1-88 (effective Circular No. 7 was aimed at the practice of certain parties who omit from the prayer of their
January 1, 1989). The copies of the challenged Orders thereto attached 11 were not certified complaints "any specification of the amount of damages," the omission being "clearly
by the proper Clerk of Court or his duly authorized representative. Certification was made intended for no other purposes than to evade the payment of the correct filing fees if not
by the petitioners' counsel, which is not allowed. to mislead the docket clerk, in the assessment of the filing fee." The following rules were
therefore set down:
The petition should be dismissed, too, for another equally important reason. It fails to
demonstrate any grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondent Judges in 1. All complaints, petitions, answers, and similar pleadings should specify the amount of
rendering the Orders complained of or, for that matter, the existence of any proper cause damages being prayed for not only in the body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and
for the issuance of the writ of mandamus. On the contrary, the orders appear to have said damages shall be considered in the assessment of the filing fees in any case.
correctly applied the law to the admitted facts.
2. Any pleading that fails to comply with this requirement shall not be accepted nor
It is true that the complaints do not state the amounts being claimed as actual, moral and admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the record.
nominal damages. It is also true, however, that the actions are not basically for the recovery
of sums of money. They are principally for recovery of possession of real property, in the 3. The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of the prescribed
nature of an accion publiciana. Determinative of the court's jurisdiction in this type of docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest
actions is the nature thereof, not the amount of the damages allegedly arising from or jurisdiction in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based on the amount
connected with the issue of title or possession, and regardless of the value of the property. sought in the amended pleading.
Quite obviously, an action for recovery of possession of real property (such as an accion
plenaria de possesion) or the title thereof, 12 or for partition or condemnation of, or the The clarificatory and additional rules laid down in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion,
foreclosure of a mortgage on, said real property 13 - in other words, a real action-may be supra, read as follows:
commenced and prosecuted without an accompanying claim for actual, moral, nominal or
exemplary damages; and such an action would fall within the exclusive, original
jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court. 1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but (also)
the payment of the prescribed docket fee that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the
subject-matter or nature of the action. Where the filing of the initiatory pleading is not
Batas Pambansa Bilang 129 provides that Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive accompanied by payment of the docket fee, the court may allow payment of the fee within
original jurisdiction inter alia over "all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary
of, real property, or any interest therein, except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful period.
detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon
2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third-party claims and similar payment of the fees provided the claim has not in the meantime become time-barred. The
pleadings, which shall not be considered filed until and unless the filing fee prescribed other is where the pleading does specify the amount of every claim, but the fees paid are
therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of said fee within a reasonable time but insufficient; and here again, the rule now is that the court may allow a reasonable time for
also in no case beyond its applicable prescriptive or reglementary period. the payment of the prescribed fees, or the balance thereof, and upon such payment, the
defect is cured and the court may properly take cognizance of the action, unless in the
3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the appropriate meantime prescription has set in and consequently barred the right of action.
pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but, subsequently, the judgment awards
a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified, the same has been left for Where the action involves real property and a related claim for damages as well, the legal
determination by the court, the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the fees shall be assessed on the basis of both (a) the value of the property and (b) the total
judgment. It shall be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized deputy amount of related damages sought. The Court acquires jurisdiction over the action if the
to enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fee. filing of the initiatory pleading is accompanied by the payment of the requisite fees, or, if
the fees are not paid at the time of the filing of the pleading, as of the time of full payment
As will be noted, the requirement in Circular No. 7 that complaints, petitions, answers, and of the fees within such reasonable time as the court may grant, unless, of course,
similar pleadings should specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the prescription has set in the meantime. But where-as in the case at bar-the fees prescribed
body of the pleading but also in the prayer, has not been altered. What has been revised is for an action involving real property have been paid, but the amounts of certain of the
the rule that subsequent "amendment of the complaint or similar pleading will not thereby related damages (actual, moral and nominal) being demanded are unspecified, the action
vest jurisdiction in the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based on the amount may not be dismissed. The Court undeniably has jurisdiction over the action involving the
sought in the amended pleading," the trial court now being authorized to allow payment of real property, acquiring it upon the filing of the complaint or similar pleading and payment
the fee within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or of the prescribed fee. And it is not divested of that authority by the circumstance that it
reglementary period. Moreover, a new rule has been added, governing awards of claims may not have acquired jurisdiction over the accompanying claims for damages because of
not specified in the pleading - i.e., damages arising after the filing of the complaint or similar lack of specification thereof. What should be done is simply to expunge those claims for
pleading-as to which the additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the damages as to which no amounts are stated, which is what the respondent Courts did, or
judgment. allow, on motion, a reasonable time for the amendment of the complaints so as to allege
the precise amount of each item of damages and accept payment of the requisite fees
therefor within the relevant prescriptive period.
Now, under the Rules of Court, docket or filing fees are assessed on the basis of the "sum
claimed," on the one hand, or the "value of the property in litigation or the value of the
estate," on the other. 18 There are, in other words, as already above intimated, actions or WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED, without pronouncement as to costs.
proceedings involving real property, in which the value of the property is immaterial to the
court's jurisdiction, account thereof being taken merely for assessment of the legal fees;
and there are actions or proceedings, involving personal property or the recovery of money
and/or damages, in which the value of the property or the amount of the demand is
decisive of the trial court's competence (aside from being the basis for fixing the
corresponding docket fees). 19

Where the action is purely for the recovery of money or damages, the docket fees are
assessed on the basis of the aggregate amount claimed, exclusive only of interests and
costs. In this case, the complaint or similar pleading should, according to Circular No. 7 of
this Court, "specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the body of the
pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the assessment of
the filing fees in any case."

Two situations may arise. One is where the complaint or similar pleading sets out a claim
purely for money or damages and there is no precise statement of the amounts being
claimed. In this event the rule is that the pleading will "not be accepted nor admitted, or
shall otherwise be expunged from the record." In other words, the complaint or pleading
may be dismissed, or the claims as to which the amounts are unspecified may be expunged,
although as aforestated the Court may, on motion, permit amendment of the complaint and
G.R. No. 89747 July 20, 1990 Maersk container subject to the condition that the bill of lading would
be issued upon Monet's compliance with all the necessary export papers
MAERSK-TABACALERA SHIPPING AGENCY (FILIPINAS), INC., petitioner, prior to the departure of the truck bearing said container for Manila on
vs. March 11, 1984. Maersk further alleged that Monet's knew that the
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, MONET'S EXPORT AND MANUFACTURING subject goods would not be brought to Manila without submitting all the
CORPORATION AND/OR VICENTE TAGLE, respondents. necessary export papers, as without them, Maersk would incur charges
on the cargo when deposited at the customs warehouse in Manila and
would subsequently be not allowed to export the goods by custom
Bito, Lozada, Ortega & Castillo for petitioner. authorities. (p. 16, Record).i•t•c-aüsl

Jesus F. Salazar for private respondent. Defendant New Asia, for its part, denied any liability in favor of Monet's,
alleging that Monet's has no cause of action against it not being a party
to the contract of carriage between Monet and Maersk (p. 24, Record).
GRIÑO-AQUINO, J.:
Defendants during the hearing of February 17, 1986 were considered
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision dated July 12, 1989 of the Court of as in default for their failure to attend the scheduled pre-trial
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 18124 affirming that of the Regional Trial Court of Legaspi City conference despite proper notice. Subsequently, the order of default in
in Civil Case No. 7480 which awarded damages to the plaintiff, now private respondent, regard to defendant Maersk was lifted and the latter was allowed to
Monet's Export and Manufacturing (Monet for short) against the petitioner Maersk- cross-examine all the witnesses of Monet's. Defendant New Asia did not
Tabacalera Shipping Agency (Filipinas), Inc., (Maersk for short) for breach of a (contract of move for the lifting of the order of default and accordingly remained as
carriage. The facts are stated in the decision of the Court of Appeals as follows: in default. (p. 204, Record.)

On May 21, 1985, a complaint for damages was filed by plaintiff Monet's On March 28, 1988, the appealed judgment was rendered:
Export and Manufacturing Corporation (Monet's) and/or Vicente Tagle
against defendants Maersk Tabacalera Shipping (Maersk) and the New WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendant Maersk Shipping Line is
Asia Enterprises (New Asia) and/or Manuel Ranola, alleging, among found to be liable to plaintiff for damages in the following amounts: For
other things, that plaintiff, like defendant New Asia, is engaged in the breach of contract of carriage, P50,000.00; for moral damages brought
export of locally-made handicrafts and products, while defendant about by the wanton bad faith employed by defendant shipping line in
Maersk Line is engaged in furnishing containerized services through the performance of its contractual obligation, P50,000.00; and as
which Monet's and New Asia normally ship their goods; that on March exemplary damages, another P50,000.00 and for attomey's fees,
11, 1984, plaintiff, after complying with all the export and custom P20,000.00.
requirements, loaded its goods in Maersk's container to be delivered on
or before March 15, 1984 to Manila for immediate trans-shipment to its
port of destination; that through fraud and malice, and without prior Defendant New Asia Enterprises is exonerated of any liability, there
notice to Monet's, Maersk unloaded the goods at New Asia's factory site being no valid cause of action by plaintiff against it. New Asia
at Tagas, Daraga, Albay to give way to the latter's own export shipment; Enterprises cannot be made answerable for whatever action or
that Monet's shipment was later returned to its warehouse at Banag, violation of contracted obligation defendant Maersk Line may have
Daraga, Albay; and that because of this occurrence, Monet's had to committed against plaintiff because they are 2 separate corporations
secure another shipper, thereby incurring unnecessary expenses as and there is no proof of any collusion between them. (pp. 27-28, Rollo.)
well as suffering mental anguish, worry and sleepless nights thinking of
the possibility of losing its trading partners which would seriously Maersk appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the judgment
doubt Monet's capacity as a respectable exporter. Monet's likewise of the trial court on July 12, 1989.
alleged having suffered actual, moral and exemplary damages (p. 1,
Record). Hence, the instant petition wherein Maersk raises the following issues:

Answering the complaint, Maersk contended that contrary to Monet's 1. Respondent court erred in affirming the judgment of the trial court
allegations, the latter's shipment was loaded on March 10, 1984 in despite the obvious fact that the trial court never acquired jurisdiction
over the subject-matter of the action because private respondents did in this case the issue is being raised for the first time in this Court. Petitioner submitted to
not specify their claims for damages and the correct filing fees were not the jurisdiction of the trial court without question. It filed a counterclaim seeking
paid. affirmative reliefs, and actively took part in the trial (p. 53, Rollo). A party who voluntarily
participates in the trial cannot later on raise the issue of the court's lack of jurisdiction (Tan
2. It was error for respondent court to have awarded P50,000.00 for Boon Bee & Co. v. Judge Jarencio, 163 SCRA 205).
"breach of contract" because this is not a form of damage and petitioner
has a right to know for what it is being made to pay. Maersk should have raised its objection to the trial court s jurisdiction when the case was
still in that court. It should not have waited for an adverse decision by the Court of Appeals
3. Respondent court erred also in awarding moral damages to a before waking up to raise the question of jurisdiction. As this Court remarked in Tijam v.
corporation that was not shown to have a good reputation that was Sibonghanoy, 23 SCRA 29, 37:
damaged.
Were we to sanction such conduct on its part, We would in effect be
4. Again, respondent court erred in awarding exemplary damages in the declaring as useless all the proceedings had in the present case since it
absense of evidence that petitioner acted in a wanton or malevolent was commenced ... and compel the judgment creditors to go up their
manner. Calvary once more. The inequity and unfairness of this is not only patent
but revolting.
5. Finally, respondent court erred in awarding attorney's fees without
any explanation for such an award. (pp. 13-14, Rollo.) A party may be barred by laches from invoking his plea (of lack of
jurisdiction) for the first time on appeal for the purpose of annulling
everything done in the case with the active participation of said party
Petitioner's allegation that the decisions of the trial court and the Court invoking the plea. (Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy, 23 SCRA 29, 34.)
of Appeals were void for lack of jurisdiction (p. 75, Rollo) as Monet did
not pay the correct filing fee on its claims for actual, moral and
exemplary damages, the amounts of which were not specified in the Since this is a case where some of the claims (for moral and exemplary damages) were not
body and prayer of its complaint, is anchored in the following ruling of specified in the plaintiff s pleading and were left for determination by the court, the
this Court in Manchester Development Corporation vs. CA (149 SCRA 526 applicable rule is the third rule set out in the decision of this Court in Sun Insurance Office
[1987]) — Ltd., et al. vs. Hon. Maximiano Asuncion, et al., 170 SCRA 274, to wit:

... the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case by the 3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing
payment of only P410.00 as docket fee. ... of the appropriate pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but,
subsequently, the judgment awards a claim not specified in the
pleading, or if specified the same has been left for determination by the
To put a stop to this irregularity, henceforth all complaints, petitions, court, the additional filing fee therefore shall constitute a lien on the
answers and other similar pleadings should specify the amount of judgment. It shall be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly
damages being prayed for not only in the body of the pleading but also in authorized deputy to enforce said lien and assess and collect the
the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the assestment of the additional fee.
filing fees in any case. Any pleading that fails to comply with the
requirement shall not be accepted nor admitted, or shall otherwise be
expunged from the record. The Clerk of Court of the trial court shall assess and collect the proper additional fees on
the totality of the judgment for the private respondent (Id).
The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment of
the prescribed docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or similar Monet's counsel in the trial court, Attorney Jesus Salazar, is hereby reprimanded for his
pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction in the court, much less the unethical practice of not specifying the amount of damages sought in the body and prayer
payment of the docket fee based on the amounts sought in the amended sof his complaint in order to defraud the Government of the proper fee for docketing said
pleading. (Emphasis supplied; pp. 568-569.) complaint. He is warned that a repetition of that malpractice will be dealt with more
severely.
Unlike Manchester, however, where the jurisdictional issue arising from insufficiency of
the docket fee paid, was seasonably raised in the answer of the defendant in the trial court,
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is denied for lack of merit. However, the Clerk of On July 2, 1991, Bertuldo filed his Answer. He alleged ownership of the disputed
Court of the trial court shall assess and collect the fees due on the judgment as if the same property by virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale dated July 2, 1980, executed by one Tomas
amounts were specified in the complaint. Costs against the petitioner. Pahac with the knowledge and conformity of private respondents.[3]
After the pre-trial, trial on the merits ensued. On November 18, 1997, private
SO ORDERED. respondents rested their case. Thereupon, Bertuldo started his direct examination.
However, on June 24, 1998, Bertuldo died without completing his evidence.
On August 4, 1998, Atty. Sulpicio A. Tinampay withdrew as counsel for Bertuldo as
his services were terminated by petitioner Bertuldo Hinog III. Atty. Veronico G. Petalcorin
[G.R. No. 140954. April 12, 2005] then entered his appearance as new counsel for Bertuldo.[4]
On September 22, 1998, Atty. Petalcorin filed a motion to expunge the complaint from
the record and nullify all court proceedings on the ground that private respondents failed
HEIRS OF BERTULDO[1] HINOG: Bertuldo Hinog II, Bertuldo Hinog III, Bertuldo Hinog, to specify in the complaint the amount of damages claimed so as to pay the correct docket
Jr., Jocelyn Hinog, Bertoldo Hinog IV, Bertoldo Hinog V, Edgardo Hinog, fees; and that under Manchester Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals,[5] non-
Milagros H. Pabatao, Lilian H. King, Victoria H. Engracia, Terisita C. Hinog, payment of the correct docket fee is jurisdictional.[6]
Paz H. Besana, Roberto C. Hinog, Vicente C. Hinog, Roel C. Hinog, Marilyn C. In an amended motion, filed on October 2, 1998, Atty. Petalcorin further alleged that
Hinog, Bebot C. Hinog, lordes C. Hinog, Pablo Chiong, Arlene Lanasang (All the private respondents failed to pay the correct docket fee since the main subject matter
respresented by Bertuldo Hinog III), petitioners, vs. HON. ACHILLES of the case cannot be estimated as it is for recovery of ownership, possession and removal
MELICOR, in his capacity as Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch 4, 7th Judicial of construction.[7]
Region, Tagbiliran City, Bohol, and CUSTODIO BALANE, RUFO BALANE,
HONORIO BALANE, and TOMAS BALANE, respondents. Private respondents opposed the motion to expunge on the following grounds: (a)
said motion was filed more than seven years from the institution of the case; (b) Atty.
DECISION Petalcorin has not complied with Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court which provides
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: that the death of the original defendant requires a substitution of parties before a lawyer
can have legal personality to represent a litigant and the motion to expunge does not
mention of any specific party whom he is representing; (c) collectible fees due the court
Before us is a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of can be charged as lien on the judgment; and (d) considering the lapse of time, the motion
Court which assails the Orders dated March 22, 1999, August 13, 1999 and October 15, is merely a dilatory scheme employed by petitioners.[8]
1999 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 4, of Tagbilaran City, Bohol in Civil Case No. 4923.
In their Rejoinder, petitioners manifested that the lapse of time does not vest the
The factual background of the case is as follows: court with jurisdiction over the case due to failure to pay the correct docket fees. As to the
On May 21, 1991, private respondents Custodio, Rufo, Tomas and Honorio, all contention that deficiency in payment of docket fees can be made as a lien on the judgment,
surnamed Balane, filed a complaint for Recovery of Ownership and Possession, Removal of petitioners argued that the payment of filing fees cannot be made dependent on the result
Construction and Damages against Bertuldo Hinog (Bertuldo for brevity). They alleged of the action taken.[9]
that: they own a 1,399- square meter parcel of land situated in Malayo Norte, Cortes, Bohol, On January 21, 1999, the trial court, while ordering the complaint to be expunged
designated as Lot No. 1714; sometime in March 1980, they allowed Bertuldo to use a from the records and the nullification of all court proceedings taken for failure to pay the
portion of the said property for a period of ten years and construct thereon a small house correct docket fees, nonetheless, held:
of light materials at a nominal annual rental of P100.00 only, considering the close
relations of the parties; after the expiration of the ten-year period, they demanded the The Court can acquire jurisdiction over this case only upon the payment of the exact
return of the occupied portion and removal of the house constructed thereon but Bertuldo prescribed docket/filing fees for the main cause of action, plus additional docket fee for the
refused and instead claimed ownership of the entire property. amount of damages being prayed for in the complaint, which amount should be specified
so that the same can be considered in assessing the amount of the filing fees. Upon the
Accordingly, private respondents sought to oust Bertuldo from the premises of the complete payment of such fees, the Court may take appropriate action in the light of the
subject property and restore upon themselves the ownership and possession thereof, as ruling in the case of Manchester Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, supra.[10]
well as the payment of moral and exemplary damages, attorneys fees and litigation
expenses in amounts justified by the evidence. [2]
Accordingly, on January 28, 1999, upon payment of deficiency docket fee, private
respondents filed a manifestation with prayer to reinstate the case.[11] Petitioners opposed
the reinstatement[12] but on March 22, 1999, the trial court issued the first assailed Order motion to dismiss, despite the defect in the complaint which prayed for damages without
reinstating the case.[13] specifying the amounts, in violation of SC Circular No. 7, dated March 24, 1988.
On May 24, 1999, petitioners, upon prior leave of court,[14] filed their supplemental In their Comment, private respondents aver that no grave abuse of discretion was
pleading, appending therein a Deed of Sale dated November 15, 1982. [15] Following the committed by the trial court in reinstating the complaint upon the payment of deficiency
submission of private respondents opposition thereto,[16] the trial court, in its Order dated docket fees because petitioners did not object thereto within the reglementary period.
July 7, 1999, denied the supplemental pleading on the ground that the Deed of Absolute Besides, Atty. Petalcorin possessed no legal personality to appear as counsel for the heirs
Sale is a new matter which was never mentioned in the original answer dated July 2, 1991, of Bertuldo until he complies with Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court.[28]
prepared by Bertuldos original counsel and which Bertuldo verified; and that such new
document is deemed waived in the light of Section 1, Rule 9 [17] of the Rules of Court. The At the outset, we note the procedural error committed by petitioners in directly filing
trial court also noted that no formal substitution of the parties was made because of the the instant petition before this Court for it violates the established policy of strict
failure of defendants counsel to give the names and addresses of the legal representatives observance of the judicial hierarchy of courts.
of Bertuldo, so much so that the supposed heirs of Bertuldo are not specified in any Although the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Courts have
pleading in the case. [18] concurrent jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto,
On July 14, 1999, petitioners manifested that the trial court having expunged the habeas corpus and injunction, such concurrence does not give the petitioner unrestricted
complaint and nullified all court proceedings, there is no valid case and the complaint freedom of choice of court forum.[29] As we stated in People vs. Cuaresma:[30]
should not be admitted for failure to pay the correct docket fees; that there should be no This Court's original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari is not exclusive. It is shared by
case to be reinstated and no case to proceed as there is no complaint filed. [19] this Court with Regional Trial Courts and with the Court of Appeals. This concurrence of
After the submission of private respondents opposition[20] and petitioners jurisdiction is not, however, to be taken as according to parties seeking any of the writs an
rejoinder,[21] the trial court issued the second assailed Order on August 13, 1999, absolute, unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which application therefor will be
essentially denying petitioners manifestation/rejoinder. The trial court held that the issues directed. There is after all a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative of the
raised in such manifestation/rejoinder are practically the same as those raised in the venue of appeals, and also serves as a general determinant of the appropriate forum for
amended motion to expunge which had already been passed upon in the Order dated petitions for the extraordinary writs. A becoming regard for that judicial hierarchy most
January 21, 1999. Moreover, the trial court observed that the Order dated March 22, 1999 certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level
which reinstated the case was not objected to by petitioners within the reglementary (inferior) courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter,
period or even thereafter via a motion for reconsideration despite receipt thereof on March with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Courts original jurisdiction
26, 1999.[22] to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and important reasons
therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is [an] established policy. It is
On August 25, 1999, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration[23] but the same a policy necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon the Courts time and attention
was denied by the trial court in its third assailed Order dated October 15, 1999. The trial which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent
court held that the Manchester rule was relaxed in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. vs. further over-crowding of the Courts docket.[31]
Asuncion.[24] Noting that there has been no substitution of parties following the death of
Bertuldo, the trial court directed Atty. Petalcorin to comply with the provisions of Section The rationale for this rule is two-fold: (a) it would be an imposition upon the precious time
16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. The trial court also reiterated that the Order dated March of this Court; and (b) it would cause an inevitable and resultant delay, intended or
22, 1999 reinstating the case was not assailed by petitioners within the reglementary otherwise, in the adjudication of cases, which in some instances had to be remanded or
period, despite receipt thereof on March 26, 1999.[25] referred to the lower court as the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as better
On November 19, 1999, Atty. Petalcorin complied with the directive of the trial court equipped to resolve the issues because this Court is not a trier of facts.[32]
to submit the names and addresses of the heirs of Bertuldo.[26] Thus, this Court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot
On November 24, 1999, petitioners filed before us the present petition be obtained in the appropriate courts, and exceptional and compelling circumstances, such
for certiorari and prohibition.[27] They allege that the public respondent committed grave as cases of national interest and of serious implications, justify the availment of the
abuse of discretion in allowing the case to be reinstated after private respondents paid the extraordinary remedy of writ of certiorari, calling for the exercise of its primary
docket fee deficiency since the trial court had earlier expunged the complaint from the jurisdiction. Exceptional and compelling circumstances were held present in the following
record and nullified all proceedings of the case and such ruling was not contested by the cases: (a) Chavez vs. Romulo[33] on citizens right to bear arms; (b) Government of the United
private respondents. Moreover, they argue that the public respondent committed grave States of America vs. Purganan[34] on bail in extradition proceedings; (c) Commission on
abuse of discretion in allowing the case to be filed and denying the manifestation with Elections vs. Quijano-Padilla[35] on government contract involving modernization and
computerization of voters registration list; (d) Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB vs. Zamora[36] on
status and existence of a public office; and (e) Fortich vs. Corona[37] on the so-called Win-
Win Resolution of the Office of the President which modified the approval of the conversion Time and again, the Court has held that the Manchester rule has been modified in Sun
to agro-industrial area. Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) vs. Asuncion[45] which defined the following guidelines
involving the payment of docket fees:
In this case, no special and important reason or exceptional and compelling
circumstance analogous to any of the above cases has been adduced by the petitioners so 1. It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading,
as to justify direct recourse to this Court. The present petition should have been initially but the payment of the prescribed docket fee, that vests a trial court with
filed in the Court of Appeals in strict observance of the doctrine on the hierarchy of courts. jurisdiction over the subject-matter or nature of the action. Where the filing
Failure to do so is sufficient cause for the dismissal of the petition at bar. of the initiatory pleading is not accompanied by payment of the docket fee,
the court may allow payment of the fees within a reasonable time but in no
In any event, even if the Court disregards such procedural flaw, the petitioners case beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period.
contentions on the substantive aspect of the case fail to invite judgment in their favor.
2. The same rule applies to permissive counterclaims, third-party claims and
The unavailability of the writ of certiorari and prohibition in this case is borne out of similar pleadings, which shall not be considered filed until and unless the
the fact that petitioners principally assail the Order dated March 22, 1999 which they never filing fee prescribed therefor is paid. The court may also allow payment of
sought reconsideration of, in due time, despite receipt thereof on March 26, 1999. Instead, said fee within a reasonable time but also in no case beyond its applicable
petitioners went through the motion of filing a supplemental pleading and only when the prescriptive or reglementary period.
latter was denied, or after more than three months have passed, did they raise the issue
that the complaint should not have been reinstated in the first place because the trial court 3. Where the trial court acquires jurisdiction over a claim by the filing of the
had no jurisdiction to do so, having already ruled that the complaint shall be expunged. appropriate pleading and payment of the prescribed filing fee but,
subsequently, the judgment awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or
After recognizing the jurisdiction of the trial court by seeking affirmative relief in if specified the same has been left for determination by the court, the
their motion to serve supplemental pleading upon private respondents, petitioners are additional filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It shall
effectively barred by estoppel from challenging the trial courts jurisdiction.[38] If a party be the responsibility of the Clerk of Court or his duly authorized deputy to
invokes the jurisdiction of a court, he cannot thereafter challenge the courts jurisdiction in enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fee.
the same case.[39] To rule otherwise would amount to speculating on the fortune of
litigation, which is against the policy of the Court.[40] Plainly, while the payment of the prescribed docket fee is a jurisdictional
requirement, even its non-payment at the time of filing does not automatically cause the
Nevertheless, there is a need to correct the erroneous impression of the trial court as dismissal of the case, as long as the fee is paid within the applicable prescriptive or
well as the private respondents that petitioners are barred from assailing the Order dated reglementary period, more so when the party involved demonstrates a willingness to abide
March 22, 1999 which reinstated the case because it was not objected to within the by the rules prescribing such payment.[46] Thus, when insufficient filing fees were initially
reglementary period or even thereafter via a motion for reconsideration despite receipt paid by the plaintiffs and there was no intention to defraud the government,
thereof on March 26, 1999. the Manchester rule does not apply.[47]
It must be clarified that the said order is but a resolution on an incidental matter Under the peculiar circumstances of this case, the reinstatement of the complaint was
which does not touch on the merits of the case or put an end to the proceedings.[41] It is an just and proper considering that the cause of action of private respondents, being a real
interlocutory order since there leaves something else to be done by the trial court with action, prescribes in thirty years,[48] and private respondents did not really intend to evade
respect to the merits of the case.[42] As such, it is not subject to a reglementary period. the payment of the prescribed docket fee but simply contend that they could not be faulted
Reglementary period refers to the period set by the rules for appeal or further review of a for inadequate assessment because the clerk of court made no notice of demand or
final judgment or order, i.e., one that ends the litigation in the trial court. reassessment.[49] They were in good faith and simply relied on the assessment of the clerk
Moreover, the remedy against an interlocutory order is generally not to resort of court.
forthwith to certiorari, but to continue with the case in due course and, when an Furthermore, the fact that private respondents prayed for payment of damages in
unfavorable verdict is handed down, to take an appeal in the manner authorized by amounts justified by the evidence does not call for the dismissal of the complaint for
law.[43] Only when the court issued such order without or in excess of jurisdiction or with violation of SC Circular No. 7, dated March 24, 1988 which required that all complaints
grave abuse of discretion and when the assailed interlocutory order is patently erroneous must specify the amount of damages sought not only in the body of the pleadings but also
and the remedy of appeal would not afford adequate and expeditious relief in the prayer in order to be accepted and admitted for filing. Sun Insurance effectively
will certiorari be considered an appropriate remedy to assail an interlocutory modified SC Circular No. 7 by providing that filing fees for damages and awards that cannot
order.[44] Such special circumstances are absolutely wanting in the present case. be estimated constitute liens on the awards finally granted by the trial court.[50]
Thus, while the docket fees were based only on the real property valuation, the trial
court acquired jurisdiction over the action, and judgment awards which were left for
determination by the court or as may be proven during trial would still be subject to Petitioners utterly failed to show that the trial court gravely abused its discretion in
additional filing fees which shall constitute a lien on the judgment. It would then be the issuing the assailed resolutions. On the contrary, it acted prudently, in accordance with law
responsibility of the Clerk of Court of the trial court or his duly authorized deputy to and jurisprudence.
enforce said lien and assess and collect the additional fees.[51]
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
It is worth noting that when Bertuldo filed his Answer on July 2, 1991, he did not raise
the issue of lack of jurisdiction for non-payment of correct docket fees. Instead, he based No costs.
his defense on a claim of ownership and participated in the proceedings before the trial SO ORDERED.
court. It was only in September 22, 1998 or more than seven years after filing the answer,
and under the auspices of a new counsel, that the issue of jurisdiction was raised for the
first time in the motion to expunge by Bertuldos heirs.
After Bertuldo vigorously participated in all stages of the case before the trial court
and even invoked the trial courts authority in order to ask for affirmative relief, petitioners,
considering that they merely stepped into the shoes of their predecessor, are effectively
barred by estoppel from challenging the trial courts jurisdiction. Although the issue of
jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings as the same is conferred by law,
it is nonetheless settled that a party may be barred from raising it on ground of laches or
estoppel.[52]
Moreover, no formal substitution of the parties was effected within thirty days from
date of death of Bertuldo, as required by Section 16, Rule 3 [53] of the Rules of Court.
Needless to stress, the purpose behind the rule on substitution is the protection of the right
of every party to due process. It is to ensure that the deceased party would continue to be
properly represented in the suit through the duly appointed legal representative of his
estate.[54] Non-compliance with the rule on substitution would render the proceedings and
judgment of the trial court infirm because the court acquires no jurisdiction over the
persons of the legal representatives or of the heirs on whom the trial and the judgment
would be binding.[55] Thus, proper substitution of heirs must be effected for the trial court
to acquire jurisdiction over their persons and to obviate any future claim by any heir that
he was not apprised of the litigation against Bertuldo or that he did not authorize Atty.
Petalcorin to represent him.
The list of names and addresses of the heirs was submitted sixteen months after the
death of Bertuldo and only when the trial court directed Atty. Petalcorin to comply with
the provisions of Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. Strictly speaking therefore, before
said compliance, Atty. Petalcorin had no standing in the court a quo when he filed his
pleadings. Be that as it may, the matter has been duly corrected by the Order of the trial
court dated October 15, 1999.
To be sure, certiorari under Rule 65[56] is a remedy narrow in scope and inflexible in
character. It is not a general utility tool in the legal workshop. [57] It offers only a limited
form of review. Its principal function is to keep an inferior tribunal within its
jurisdiction.[58] It can be invoked only for an error of jurisdiction, that is, one where the act
complained of was issued by the court, officer or a quasi-judicial body without or in excess
of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion which is tantamount to lack or in excess
of jurisdiction,[59] not to be used for any other purpose,[60] such as to cure errors in
proceedings or to correct erroneous conclusions of law or fact.[61] A contrary rule would
lead to confusion, and seriously hamper the administration of justice.
and severally, actual, moral and exemplary damages in the amount of P200,000.00, as well
as attorneys fee of P200,000.00 and costs of litigation. Respondent likewise prayed that,
[G.R. No. 136325. July 29, 2005] pending trial on the merits, a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary
injunction be issued ordering the defendants to immediately restore him to his possession
of the parcels of land in question; and that after trial, the writ of injunction be made
permanent.
MANUEL M. SERRANO, petitioner, vs. EUGENIO C. DELICA, respondent.
Petitioner then filed his answer with compulsory counterclaim, denying the material
DECISION allegations of the complaint.

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: Respondent later amended his complaint.


On August 5, 1997, the trial court issued a temporary restraining order and
At bar is a petition for review on certiorari[1] assailing the Decision[2] dated on September 8, 1997, a preliminary injunction directing petitioner and his co-
September 30, 1998 and Resolution dated November 13, 1998 of the Court of Appeals in defendants to immediately restore respondent to his possession.
CA-G.R. SP No. 46632, entitled Manuel M. Serrano, petitioner, vs. Hon. Alberto L. Lerma,
Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 256, Muntinlupa City, and Eugenio C. Delica, Petitioner then filed consolidated motions for reconsideration praying that the
respondents. complaint be dismissed for respondents failure to pay the required docket fee; and that
Judge Lerma be directed to inhibit himself from hearing the case.
The petition stemmed from the following facts:
The trial court, in its Order dated January 7, 1998, denied petitioners consolidated
On June 30, 1997, Eugenio C. Delica, respondent, filed with the Regional Trial Court, motions.
Branch 256, Muntinlupa City, presided by Judge Alberto L. Lerma, a complaint for
cancellation of Deeds of Sale, Transfer Certificates of Title, Joint Venture Agreement, and Petitioner seasonably filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and
damages, with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and temporary prohibition with application for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order
restraining order, docketed as Civil Case No. 97-120. Impleaded as defendants were assailing the trial courts twin Orders dated September 8, 1997 ordering the issuance of a
Manuel M. Serrano, now petitioner, Manuel P. Blanco, MBJ Land, Inc., and MARILAQUE writ of preliminary injunction; and denying his consolidated motions dated January 7,
Land, Inc. 1998. Petitioner raised three issues: (a) whether respondent paid the correct docket fee;
(b) whether the trial courts issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction is in order; and
The complaint alleges inter alia that respondent is the registered owner of ten (c) whether Judge Lerma should inhibit himself from hearing the case.
parcels of land situated in Bagbagan, Muntinlupa City, with a total area of 2,062,475 square
meters, more or less, covered by ten Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. S-12619 to S- On September 30, 1998, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision partially
12628 of the Registry of Deeds, same city. On August 10, 1995, after having been promised granting the petition by: (1) affirming the trial courts ruling that the docket fee was
with financial bonanza by petitioner and Manuel Blanco, respondent executed in favor of correctly paid; (2) setting aside the trial courts Order directing the issuance of a writ of
the latter a special power of attorney. Blanco then sold to MBJ Land, Inc. respondents three preliminary injunction; and (3) leaving the matter of inhibition to the discretion of
parcels of land covered by TCT Nos. S-12625, S-12626 and S-12628. Thus, these titles were Judge Lerma.
cancelled and in lieu thereof, TCT Nos. 207282, 207283 and 207284 were issued in the
name of MBJ Land, Inc. Petitioner then filed a motion for partial reconsideration of the Court of Appeals
ruling that respondent correctly paid the docket fee and that the motion for inhibition
On December 4, 1996, MBJ Land, Inc. entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with should be addressed to Judge Lermas sound discretion.
MARILAQUE Land, Inc. involving the three parcels of land.
In a Resolution dated November 13, 1998, the Appellate Court denied the motion.
On December 23, 1996, petitioner Serrano again unduly influenced, coerced and
intimidated respondent into executing an affidavit wherein he confirmed that he sold his Hence the instant petition for review on certiorari.
remaining seven parcels of land, covered by TCT Nos. S-12619 to S-126124 and S-12627, The core issues for our resolution are:
to petitioners. Later, respondent found that these seven titles were cancelled and new titles
(TCT Nos. 209636 to 209642) were issued in petitioners name based on a spurious Deed 1. Whether respondent paid the correct docket fee when he filed his complaint in Civil Case
of Absolute Sale. No. 97-120; and

Respondent thus prayed in his complaint that the special power of attorney, affidavit,
the new titles issued in the names of petitioner and MBJ Land, Inc., and contracts of sale be 2. Whether the matter of inhibition should be addressed to Judge Lermas discretion.
cancelled; and that petitioner and his co-defendants be ordered to pay respondent, jointly
On the first issue, we cannot overemphasized the importance of paying the correct Since the complaint is dismissible, the second issue on whether Judge Lerma should
docket fees. Such fees are intended to take care of court expenses in the handling of cases inhibit himself from hearing the case has become moot and academic.
in terms of cost of supplies, use of equipment, salaries and fringe benefits of personnel, etc.,
computed as to man-hours used in the handling of each case. The payment of said fees, WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the
therefore, cannot be made dependent on the result of the action taken, without entailing Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 46632 are hereby REVERSED. The complaint in Civil
tremendous losses to the government and to the judiciary in particular.[3] Case No. 97-120 is ordered DISMISSED without prejudice.

Thus, the rule is that upon the filing of the pleading or other application which SO ORDERED.
initiates an action or proceeding, the fees prescribed therefor shall be paid in
full.[4] However, a litigant who is a pauper is exempt from the payment of the docket fees.
But the fees shall be a lien on the judgment rendered in favor of said pauper litigant, unless
the court otherwise provides.[5]
It is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the
payment of the prescribed docket fees that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the
subject matter or nature of the action.[6]
In the case at bar, petitioner impugns the Court of Appeals ruling that respondents
complaint in Civil Case No. 97-120 is not capable of pecuniary estimation and that,
therefore, the docket fee is fixed at P600.00 pursuant to Section 7(b)(1), Rule 141 of the
Revised Rules of Court.
We agree with petitioner that the Court of Appeals erred in issuing such ruling. It
should have considered the allegations of the complaint and the character of the reliefs
sought, the criteria in determining the nature of an action.[7]
A careful examination of respondents complaint is that it is a real action.
In Paderanga vs. Buissan,[8] we held that in a real action, the plaintiff seeks the recovery of
real property, or, as stated in Section 2(a), Rule 4 of the Revised Rules of Court,[9] a real
action is one affecting title to real property or for the recovery of possession of, or for
partition or condemnation of, or foreclosure of a mortgage on a real property.
Obviously, respondents complaint is a real action involving not only the recovery of
real properties, but likewise the cancellation of the titles thereto.
Considering that respondents complaint is a real action, the Rule requires that
the assessed value of the property, or if there is none, the estimated value thereof shall
be alleged by the claimant and shall be the basis in computing the fees.[10]
We note, however, that neither the assessed value nor the estimated value of the
questioned parcels of land were alleged by respondent in both his original and amended
complaint. What he stated in his amended complaint is that the disputed realties have a
BIR zonal valuation of P1,200.00 per square meter. However, the alleged BIR zonal
valuation is not the kind of valuation required by the Rule. It is the assessed value of the
realty.[11] Having utterly failed to comply with the requirement of the Rule that he shall
allege in his complaint the assessed value of his real properties in controversy, the correct
docket fee cannot be computed. As such, his complaint should not have been accepted by
the trial court. We thus rule that it has not acquired jurisdiction over the present case for
failure of herein respondent to pay the required docket fee. On this ground alone,
respondents complaint is vulnerable to dismissal.
PHILIPPINE FIRST INSURANCE CO., INC. and G.R. No. 165147 . . . that after due proceedings, judgment be rendered, ordering
PARAMOUNT GENERAL INSURANCE CORPORATION, [herein petitioners] to comply with their obligation under their
Petitioners, Present: respective Insurance Policies by paying to [it] jointly and severally, the
claims arising from the subject losses.
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson, THAT, [herein petitioners] be adjudged jointly and severally
- versus - CARPIO MORALES, to pay to [it], in addition to the foregoing, the following:
TINGA,
VELASCO, JR. and 1. The sum of PHP 50,000.00 plus PHP 1,500.00 for each
PYRAMID LOGISTICS AND TRUCKING CORPORATION BRION, JJ. Court session attended by counsel until the instant
(formerly PANACOR INTEGRATED WAREHOUSING [case] is finally terminated, as and for attorneys fees;
AND TRUCKING CORPORATION), Promulgated:
Respondent. July 9, 2008 2. The costs of suit[;][3] (Underscoring supplied)

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
and for other reliefs just and equitable in the premises.[4]
DECISION
Pyramid was assessed P610 docket fee, apparently on the basis of the amount
CARPIO MORALES, J.: of P50,000 specified in the prayer representing attorneys fees, which it duly paid.[5]
The issue, in the main, in the present case is whether respondent, Pyramid
Logistics and Trucking Corporation (Pyramid), which filed on November 7, 2001 a Pyramid later filed a 1st Amended Complaint[6] containing minor changes in its
complaint,[1]denominated as one for specific performance and damages, against petitioners body[7] but bearing the same prayer.[8] Branch 148 of the Makati RTC to which the
Philippine First Insurance Company, Inc. (Philippine First) and Paramount General complaint was raffled admitted the Amended Complaint.[9]
Insurance Corporation (Paramount) before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati,
docketed as Civil Case No. 01-1609, paid the correct docket fee; if in the negative, whether Petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of, inter alia, lack of
the complaint should be dismissed or Pyramid can still be ordered to pay the fee. jurisdiction, Pyramid not having paid the docket fees in full, arguing thus:
Pyramid sought to recover the proceeds of two insurance policies issued to it,
Policy No. IN-002904 issued by petitioner Paramount, and Policy No. MN-MCL-HO-00- xxxx
0000007-00 issued by petitioner Philippine First. Despite demands, petitioners allegedly
failed to settle them, hence, it filed the complaint subject of the present petition. In the body of the Amended Complaint, plaintiff alleged that
the goods belonging to California Manufacturing Co., Inc. (CMC) is [sic]
In its complaint, Pyramid alleged that on November 8, 2000, its delivery van valued at Php907,149.07 and consequently, plaintiff incurred expenses,
bearing license plate number PHL-545 which was loaded with goods belonging to suffered damages and was constrained to engage the services of counsel
California Manufacturing Corporation (CMC) valued at PESOS NINE HUNDRED SEVEN to enforce and protect its right to recover compensation under the said
THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY NINE AND SEVEN/100 (P907,149.07) left the policies and for which services, it obligated itself to pay the sum
CMC Bicutan Warehouse but the van, together with the goods, failed to reach its equivalent to twenty-five (25%) of any recovery in the instant action, as
destination and its driver and helper were nowhere to be found, to its damage and and for attorneys fees and legal expenses.
prejudice; that it filed a criminal complaint against the driver and the helper for qualified
theft, and a claim with herein petitioners as co-insurers of the lost goods but, in violation On the other hand, in the prayer in the Complaint, plaintiff
of petitioners undertaking under the insurance policies, they refused without just and valid deliberately omitted to specify what these damages are. x x x
reasons to compensate it for the loss; and that as a direct consequence of petitioners
failure, despite repeated demands, to comply with their respective undertakings under the xxxx
Insurance Policies by compensating for the value of the lost goods, it suffered damages and Verily, this deliberate omission by the plaintiff is clearly
was constrained to engage the services of counsel to enforce and protect its right to recover intended for no other purposes than to evade the payment of the correct
compensation under said policies, for which services it obligated itself to pay the sum filing fee if not to mislead the docket clerk, in the assessment of the filing
equivalent to twenty-five (25%) of any amount recovered as and for attorneys fees and fee. In fact, the docket clerk in the instant case charged the plaintiff a
legal expenses.[2] total of Php610.00 only as a filing fee, which she must have based on
the amount of Php50,000.00 [attorneys fees] only.[10] (Emphasis in the
Pyramid thus prayed original; italics and underscoring supplied)
severally, the claims arising from the subject losses and did not mention
Petitioners cited[11] Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals[12] which held: the amount of PHP907,149.07, which is the value of the goods and
which is also the subject of insurance. This resulted to the assessment
x x x [A]ll complaints, petitions, answers and other similar and payment of docket fees in the amount of P610 only. The Court, even
pleadings should specify the amount of damages being prayed for not without the Motion to Dismiss filed by defendant, actually noted such
only in the body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and said omission which is actually becoming a practice for some lawyers. For
damages shall be considered in the assessment of the filing fees in any whatever purpose it may be, the Court will not dwell into it. In this
case. Any pleading that fails to comply with this requirement shall not instant case, this being for specific performance, it is not
be accepted or admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the dismissible on that ground but unless proper docket fees are paid, the
record.[13] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Court can only grant what was prayed for in the Complaint.

x x x x[21] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)


They cited too Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion[14] which held that [i]t is not simply the
filing of the complaint or appropriate pleading, but the payment of the prescribed docket
fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject-matter or nature of the Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration[22] of the denial of their Motion to Dismiss
action.[15] having been denied[23] by Order of August 1, 2002, they filed their Answer with Compulsory
Counterclaim ad Cautelam,[24] alleging that they intended to file a Petition for Certiorari
Petitioners thus concluded: with the Court of Appeals.[25]

With the above cases as a backdrop, the Supreme Court, in Petitioners did indeed eventually file before the Court of Appeals a Petition for
revising the rules of pleading and practice in the 1997 Rules of Civil Certiorari (With Preliminary Injunction and Urgent Prayer for Restraining Order) [26] posing
Procedure, added a tenth ground to a Motion to Dismiss to wit, [t]hat a the following two of three queries, viz:
condition precedent for filing claim [sic] has not been complied with.[]
First. Does [Pyramids] deliberate omission to pay the
On the contrary, if plaintiff would insist that its claim against required correct docket and filing fee vest the trial court [with]
the defendants is only Php50,000.00 plus Php 1,500.00 as appearance jurisdiction to entertain the subject matter of the instant case?
fee per court hearing, then it follows that it is the Metropolitan Trial
Court which has jurisdiction over this case, not this Honorable Second. [Is] the instant case an action for specific performance
Court. Such amount is way below the minimum jurisdictional amount or simply one for damages or recovery of a sum of money?
prescribed by the rules in order to confer jurisdiction to the Regional
Trial Court.[16] (Underscoring supplied) x x x x[27]

To the Motion to Dismiss Pyramid filed its Opposition,[17] alleging that if there was By Decision of June 3, 2004,[28] the Court of Appeals partially granted petitioners
a mistake in the assessment of the docket fees, the trial court was not precluded from petition for certiorari by setting aside the trial judges assailed orders and ordering Pyramid
acquiring jurisdiction over the complaint as it has the authority to direct the mistaken party to file the correct docket fees within a reasonable time, it holding that while the complaint
to complete the docket fees in the course of the proceedings . . .[18] The Opposition merited was denominated as one for specific performance, it sought to recover from petitioners
a Reply[19] from petitioners. Pyramids claims arising from the subject losses. The appellate court ratiocinated:

By Order of June 3, 2002, the trial court[20] denied the Motion to Dismiss in this xxxx
wise:
Indeed, it has been held that it is not simply the filing of the
xxxx complaint or appropriate initiatory pleading, but the payment of the
prescribed docket fee that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the
Indeed, a perusal of the Complaint reveals that while plaintiff subject matter or nature of the action. To determine the docket fees, it
made mention of the value of the goods, which were lost, the prayer of is necessary to determine the true nature of the action by
plaintiff did not indicate its exact claim from the defendants. The examining the allegations of the complaint. x x x
Complaint merely prayed defendants to comply with their obligation
under their respective insurance policies by paying to plaintiff jointly and xxxx
While the captions of the complaint and 1 st amended In the present case, [Pyramid] thru its Complaint simply
complaint denominated the case as one for Specific Performance and sought from petitioners compliance with their contractual undertaking
Damages, the allegations and prayer therein show that the specific as insurers of the goods insured which were lost in [its] custody. Private
performance sought by private respondent was for petitioners to respondent did not specify the extent of petitioners obligation as it left
comply with their obligation under their respective Insurance Policies the matter entirely in the judgment of the trial court to consider. Thus,
by paying to plaintiff jointly and severally, the claims arising from the Complaint was labeled Specific Performance which [Pyramid]
the subject losses as well as the attorneys fees and costs of submitted to the Clerk of Court for assessment of the docket fee, after
suit. Obviously, what constitutes specific performance is the payment which, it paid the same based on the said assessment. There was no
itself by petitioners of private respondents claims arising from the indication whatsoever that [Pyramid] had refused to pay; rather, it
losses it allegedly incurred. x x x[29] merely argued against petitioners submissions as it maintained the
correctness of the assessment made.[34] (Underscoring supplied)
xxxx

Public respondent should have ordered private By Resolution of August 23, 2004, the Court of Appeals denied petitioners Motion
respondent to pay the correct docket fees on the basis of the for Reconsideration;[35] hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari,[36] raising the
allegations of the complaint. x x x issues of whether the appellate court erred:

xxxx . . . WHEN IT APPLIED IN THE INSTANT CASE THE LIBERAL


RULE ENUNCIATED IN SUN INSURANCE OFFICE, LTD. (SIOL)
While it has been held in Manchester Development VS. ASUNCION, 170 SCRA 274 AND NATIONAL STEEL CORPORATION VS.
Corporation vs. Court of Appeals x x x that any pleading that fails to COURT OF APPEALS, 302 SCRA 523 (1999) IN RESPECT TO THE
comply with this requirement of specifying the amount of damages PAYMENT OF THE PRESCRIBED FILING AND DOCKET FEES DESPITE
not only in the body of the pleading but also in the prayer shall not CLEAR SHOWING OF RESPONDENTS INTENTION TO EVADE THE
be accepted nor admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the PAYMENT OF THE CORRECT DOCKET FEE WHICH WARRANTS THE
record, this rule was relaxed in subsequent cases, APPLICATION OF THE DOCTRINE LAID DOWN IN MANCHESTER
wherein payment of the correct docket fees was allowed within DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION VS. COURT OF APPEALS, 149 SCRA 562.
a reasonable time. . .
. . . WHEN IT DID NOT APPLY THE RULING OF THIS HONORABLE
x x x x[30] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) TRIBUNAL IN MARCOPPER MINING CORPORATION VS. GARCIA, 143
SCRA 178, TAN VS. DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, 125 SCRA 302,
Thus the appellate court disposed: AND CHINA ROAD AND BRIDGE CORPORATION VS. COURT OF
APPEALS, 348 SCRA 401.[37] (Underscoring supplied)
WHEREFORE, the petition is partially granted. The Orders
dated June 3, 2002 and August 1, 2002 of public respondent are
partially set aside insofar as they dispensed with the payment of the Petitioners invoke the doctrine in Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of
correct docket fees. Consequently, [Pyramid] is hereby directed to pay Appeals[38] that a pleading which does not specify in the prayer the amount sought shall not
the correct docket fees on the basis of the losses alleged in the body be admitted or shall otherwise be expunged, and that the court acquires jurisdiction only
of the complaint, plus the attorneys fees mentioned in the prayer, upon the payment of the prescribed docket fee.[39]
within a reasonable time which should not go beyond the applicable
prescriptive or reglementary period. In all other respects, the said Pyramid, on the other hand, insists, in its Comment on the Petition,[40] on the
Orders are affirmed.[31] (Underscoring supplied) application of Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) v. Asuncion[41] and subsequent rulings
relaxing the Manchester ruling by allowing payment of the docket fee within a reasonable
time, in no case beyond the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period, where the filing
Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration[32] of the appellate courts of the initiatory pleading is not accompanied by the payment of the prescribed docket fee.[42]
decision. Pyramid filed its Comment and Opposition to the Motion for
Reconsideration,[33]arguing thus: In Tacay v. Regional Trial Court of Tagum, Davao del Norte,[43] the Court clarified
the effect of the Sun Insurance ruling on the Manchester ruling as follows:
xxxx
As will be noted, the requirement in Circular No. 7 [of this own admission, knew.[46] And, indeed, it failed to specify in its prayer in the complaint the
Court which was issued based on the Manchester ruling[44]] that amount of its claims/damages.
complaints, petitions, answers, and similar pleadings should specify the
amount of damages being prayed for not only in the body of the pleading When Pyramid amended its complaint, it still did not specify, in its prayer, the
but also in the prayer, has not been altered. What has been revised is amount of claims/damages it was seeking. In fact it has the audacity to inform this Court,
the rule that subsequent amendment of the complaint or similar in its Comment on the present Petition, that
pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction in the Court, much less the
payment of the docket fee based on the amount sought in the amended x x x In the natural order of things, when a litigant is given the
pleading, the trial court now being authorized to allow payment of the opportunity to spend less for a docket fee after submitting his pleading
fee within a reasonable time but in no case beyond the applicable for assessment by the Office of the Clerk of Court, he would not decline
prescriptive period or reglementary period. Moreover, a new rule has it inasmuch as to request for a higher assessment under the
been added, governing the awards of claims not specified in the circumstances [for such] is against his interest and would be
pleading i.e., damages arising after the filing of the complaint or similar senseless. Placed under the same situation, petitioner[s] would
pleading as to which the additional filing fee therefore shall constitute a certainly do likewise. To say otherwise would certainly be dishonest,[47]
lien on the judgment.

Now, under the Rules of Court, docket or filing fees are which comment drew petitioners to conclude as follows:
assessed on the basis of the sum claimed, on the one hand, or the value
of the property in litigation or the value of the estate, on the other. . . [This] only shows respondents dishonesty and lack of regard
of the rules. Following this line of reasoning, respondent would do
Where the action is purely for the recovery of money or everything if only for it to spend less for the filing fee, even to the extent
damages, the docket fees are assessed on the basis of the aggregate of circumventing and defying the rule on the payment of the filing fee.
amount claimed, exclusive only of interests and costs. In this case, the
complaint or similar pleading should, according to Circular No. 7 of this In spite of the fact that the respondent was already caught in
Court, specify the amount of damages being prayed for not only in the the quagmire of its own cobweb of deception, it further justified its
body of the pleading but also in the prayer, and said damages shall be unethical act by ratiocinating that placed under the same situation,
considered in the assessment of filing fees in any case. petitioner would certainly do likewise, to say otherwise would certainly
be dishonest. This attitude of the respondent is very alarming! Having
Two situations may arise. One is where the complaint or been caught red-handed, the honorable thing that respondent should
similar pleading sets out a claim purely for money and damages and have done is admit its own violation rather than justify an act which it
there is no statement of the amounts being claimed. In this event the knows is a clear contravention of the rules and jurisprudence.[48] (Italics
rule is that the pleading will not be accepted nor admitted, or shall and emphasis in the original)
otherwise be expunged from the record. In other words, the complaint
or pleading may be dismissed, or the claims as to which amounts are
unspecified may be expunged, although as aforestated the Court may, Pyramids following justification for omitting to specify in the prayer of its
on motion, permit amendment of the complaint and payment of the fees complaint the amount of its claims/damages, viz:
provided the claim has not in the meantime become time-barred. The
other is where the pleading does specify the amount of every claim, but xxxx
the fees paid are insufficient; and here again, the rule now is that the
court may allow a reasonable time for the payment of the prescribed x x x While respondent knew its losses and alleged them in the
fees, or the balance thereof, and upon such payment, the defect is cured body of the Complaint, it was not aware of the extent of petitioners
and the court may properly take cognizance of the action, unless in the respective liability under the two insurance policies. The allegation of
meantime prescription has set in and consequently barred the right of respondents losses, albeit, without repeating them in its prayer for
action.[45] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) relief was not motivated by an intention to mislead, cheat or defraud the
Court. It just left the matter of liability arising from two separate and
distinct Insurance Policies covering the same insurable risk for the trial
Indeed, Pyramid captioned its complaint as one for specific performance and courts determination, hence, respondent came up with an action for
damages even if it was, as the allegations in its body showed, seeking in the main the specific performance[,][49] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
collection of its claims-sums of money representing losses the amount of which it, by its
to keep abreast of all laws and prevailing jurisprudence, consistent with the standard that
fails to impress. magistrates must be the embodiments of competence, integrity and independence.[52]

As the salient allegations of Pyramids complaint show and as priorly stated, they WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing discussions, the petition is DENIED.
constitute, in the main, an action for collection of its claims it admittedly knew.
SO ORDERED.
Assuming arguendo that Pyramid has other claims the amounts of which are yet
to be determined by the trial court, the rule established in Manchester which was embodied
in this Courts Circular No. 7-88 issued on March 24, 1988, as modified by the Sun
Insurance ruling, still applies. Consider this Courts pronouncement bearing on the matter
in Ayala Corporation v. Madayag:[50]

xxxx

Apparently, the trial court misinterpreted paragraph 3 of the


[Sun Insurance] ruling of this Court wherein it stated that where the
judgment awards a claim not specified in the pleading, or if specified,
the same has been left for the determination of the court, the additional
filing fee therefor shall constitute a lien on the judgment by considering
it to mean that where in the body and prayer of the complaint there is a
prayer xxx the amount of which is left to the discretion of the Court,
there is no need to specify the amount being sought, and that any award
thereafter shall constitute a lien on the judgment.

x x x While it is true that the determination of certain damages


x x x is left to the sound discretion of the court, it is the duty of the
parties claiming such damages to specify the amount sought on the
basis of which the court may make a proper determination, and for the
proper assessment of the appropriate docket
fees. The exception contemplated as to claims not specified or to claims
although specified are left for determination of the court is limited only
to any damages that may arise after the filing of the complaint or
similar pleading for then it will not be possible for the claimant to
specify nor speculate as to the amount thereof. (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)

If respondent Pyramids counsel had only been forthright in drafting the


complaint and taking the cudgels for his client and the trial judge assiduous in applying
Circular No. 7 vis a vis prevailing jurisprudence, the precious time of this Court, as well as
of that of the appellate court, would not have been unnecessarily sapped.

The Court at this juncture thus reminds Pyramids counsel to observe Canon 12 of
the Code of Professional Ethics which enjoins a lawyer to exert every effort and consider it
his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice, and Rule 12.04 of the
same Canon which enjoins a lawyer not [to] unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a
judgment or misuse court processes. And the Court reminds too the trial judge to bear in
mind that the nature of an action is determined by the allegations of the pleadings [51] and
METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST CO. By Decision of April 5, 2006, Branch 22 of the Malolos RTC ruled in favor of
and SOLIDBANK CORPORATION, G.R. No. 181842 respondent, disposing as follows:
Petitioners,
Present: WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING,
judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, plaintiff and against the defendants ordering the
- versus CARPIO MORALES, latter, jointly and severally:
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN, and
BERNARDITA H. PEREZ, represented by VILLARAMA, JR., JJ. 1. To pay the plaintiff the amount of P212,322.60
her Attorney-in-Fact PATRIA H. PEREZ, as unrealized income before the filing of the
Respondent. case (Sept. 2002 to Feb. 2003);
Promulgated: 2. To pay the plaintiff the amount
of P2,013,753.03 as unrealized (income) after
the filing of the case up to present (March 2003
February 5, 2010 to March 2006);
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x 3. To pay the plaintiff the would be unrealized
income for the ensuing idle months of said
building amounting to P7,126,494.30
(covering April 2006 until expiration of the
DECISION contract of lease);
4. To pay plaintiff the amount of P200,000.00 as
moral damages;
CARPIO MORALES, J. 5. To pay plaintiff the amount of P100,000.00 as
exemplary damages;
6. To pay plaintiff the amount of P100,000.00 as
On September 17, 1997, petitioner Solidbank Corporation (Solidbank) forged a lease attorneys fees and
contract with Bernardita H. Perez (respondent), represented by her attorney-in-fact Patria 7. To pay plaintiff as litigation expenses.
H. Perez[1], over two parcels of land located in Sta. Maria, Bulacan for a period of 15 years
commencing on January 1, 1998. Solidbank was to, as it did, construct a one-storey SO ORDERED.[4] (emphasis and underscoring
building specifically suited for bank premises. supplied)

Solidbank was later acquired by its co-petitioner Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company
(Metrobank), the latter as the surviving entity. On appeal, Metrobank challenged, in the main, the trial courts award of unrealized income
for the ensuing idle months despite respondents failure to pay docket fees thereon to thus
On September 24, 2002, Metrobank sent a notice of termination of the lease contract render the complaint dismissible for lack of jurisdiction.
effective September 30, 2002.[2] Respondent, objecting to the termination, filed a
complaint for breach of contract and damages against herein petitioners Solidbank and By Decision[5] of November 23, 2007, the appellate court affirmed that of the trial
Metrobank before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan praying that, inter court[6] and denied, by Resolution of February 21, 2008, a reconsideration thereof. Hence,
alia, herein petitioners be ordered to pay her the would be unrealized income for the the present petition for review on certiorari.
ensuing idle months of the said building.[3] In her Comment, respondent admitted that the filing fees she paid did not cover her prayer
for unrealized income for the ensuing idle months, for at the time of filing and payment[,]
Metrobank asserted in its Answer with Counterclaim, however, that the lease contract did the period that the building would be idle could not yet be determined.[7]
not prohibit pre-termination by the parties.
In sustaining respondents justification for nonpayment of additional docket fees, the
After respondent rested her case, Metrobank was, by Order of January 12, 2006, declared appellate court held:
to have waived its right to present evidence after its counsel incurred several unexcused For one, plaintiff-appellee Perez could not have been
absences. certain at the time she filed the Complaint that defendant-appellant
Metrobank would no longer return to the Leased Property. It would
have been speculative therefore on the part of plaintiff-appellee Perez the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period. If the plaintiff fails
to allege in her Complaint any unrealized income for the remaining to comply with this requirement, the defendant should timely raise the
period of the Lease Contract considering that the possibility of issue of jurisdiction or else he would be considered in estoppel. In the
defendant-appellant Metrobank reconsidering its decision to terminate latter case, the balance between the appropriate docket fees and the
the said Lease Contract and returning to the Leased Property at some amount actually paid by the plaintiff will be considered a lien on any
future time was not definitively foreclosed when the Complaint was award he may obtain in his favor.[13] (emphasis and underscoring
filed. In light of her predicament, supplied)
plaintiff-appellee Perez was thus justified in just making a general
prayer for the court a quo to award unrealized income for the ensuing
idle months of the Leased Property.[8] (italics in the original;
underscoring supplied) Metrobank raised the issue of jurisdiction only before the appellate court after it and its
co-petitioner participated in the proceedings before the trial court. While lack of
jurisdiction may be raised at any time, a party may be held in estoppel if, as in the present
The petition is partly meritorious. case, it has actively taken part in the proceedings being questioned.

In Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals,[9] the Court held that a pleading The foregoing disposition notwithstanding, respondent is liable for the balance between
which does not specify in the prayer the amount sought shall not be admitted or shall be the actual fees paid and the correct payable filing fees to include an assessment on the
expunged, and that a court acquires jurisdiction only upon payment of the prescribed award of unrealized income, following Section 2 of Rule 141 which provides:
docket fee. This rule was relaxed in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. v. Asuncion[10]which
was echoed in the 2005 case of Heirs of Bertuldo Hinog v. Melico, the pertinent portion of SEC. 2. Fees in lien. Where the court in its final
the decision in the latter case reads: judgment awards a claim not alleged, or a relief different from,
or more than that claimed in the pleading, the party concerned
Plainly, while the payment of prescribed docket fee is a shall pay the additional fees which shall constitute a lien on
jurisdictional requirement, even its non-payment at the time of filing the judgment in satisfaction of said lien. The clerk of court
does not automatically cause the dismissal of the case, as long as the fee shall assess and collect the corresponding fee (underscoring
is paid within the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period, supplied),
more so when the party involved demonstrates a willingness to abide
by the rules prescribing such payment. Thus, when insufficient filing and jurisprudence, viz:
fees were initially paid by the plaintiffs and there was no intention to The exception contemplated as to claims not specified or to claims although
defraud the government, the Manchester rule does not specified are left for determination of the court is limited only to
apply.[11] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) any damages that may arise after the filing of the complaint or similar
pleading for then it will not be possible for the claimant to specify nor
speculate as to the amount thereof.[14] (emphasis and underscoring
Metrobank takes exception to the application of Sun Insurance Office to the present case supplied)
because, by its claim, respondent deliberately concealed the insufficient payment of docket
fees.

Metrobanks position fails. The ensuing months in which the leased premises would be A word on the grant of moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees.
rendered vacant could not be determined at the time of the filing of the complaint. It bears
recalling that the building constructed on respondents leased premises was specifically The Court notes that respondents witness-attorney-in-fact testified only on the existence
constructed to house a bank, hence, the idle period before another occupant with like of the lease agreement and unrealized income due to pre-termination. Since an award of
business may opt to lease would be difficult to project. moral damages is predicated on a categorical showing from the claimant that emotional
On Metrobanks raising the issue of lack of jurisdiction over the complaint for respondents and mental sufferings were actually experienced, absent any evidence thereon in the
failure to pay the correct docket fees, apropos is the ruling in National Steel Corporation v. present case,[15] the award must be disallowed. And so too must the award of attorneys
Court of Appeals: [12] fees, absent an indication in the trial courts Decision of the factual basis thereof, the award
having been merely stated in the dispositive portion.[16] Parenthetically, while respondent
Although the payment of the proper docket fees is a prayed in her complaint for the award of attorneys fees and testified during the trial that:
jurisdictional requirement, the trial court may allow the plaintiff in an
action to pay the same within a reasonable time before the expiration of
Q: Now, in connection with the filing of this case and hiring your lawyer,
do you have agreement with your counsel with respect to
attorneys fees?
A: P100,000.00 acceptance fees.

Q: What about appearance fees?


A: I forgot already, sir.,[17]

there is no showing that she submitted any documentary evidence in support thereof.
WHEREFORE, the petition is in part GRANTED. The November 23, 2007 Decision of the
Court of Appeals is MODIFIED. The Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos,
Bulacan is ordered to reassess, determine and collect additional fees that should be paid
by respondent within fifteen (15) days, in accordance with the foregoing discussion of the
Court, provided the applicable prescriptive or reglementary period has not

yet expired, which additional fees shall constitute a lien on the judgment in satisfaction of
said lien. The award of moral and exemplary damages and attorneys fees is DELETED.

In all other respects, the appellate courts Decision is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
FLUOR DANIEL, INC.-PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 159648 Believing that petitioner was in bad faith, respondent also filed with the Regional
Petitioner, Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 58, a complaint[5] for a sum of money and damages,
Present: docketed as Civil Case No. 98-1342.

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,


- versus - CARPIO, Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss[6] on the ground that the complaint failed to
CARPIO MORALES, state a cause of action. The trial court denied the motion in its first assailed Order, to wit:
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ. WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, defendants motion to
dismiss is hereby DENIED.
E.B. VILLAROSA & PARTNERS CO., LTD., Promulgated:
Respondent. Pursuant to Section 4 of Rule 16, 1997 Rules of Civil
July 27, 2007 Procedure, defendant-movant shall file its answer within the balance of
x---------------------------------------------------x the period prescribed by Rule 11, same Rules, to which defendant was
entitled at the time of serving its motion, but not less than five (5) days
DECISION in any event, computed from receipt of this order.

SO ORDERED.[7]
QUISUMBING, J.:
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was likewise denied in the trial courts
second impugned Order, thus:
For review on certiorari are the Decision[1] dated October 24, 2002 and the
Resolution[2] dated August 25, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 52897, which
WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, defendants Motion for
had affirmed the November 19, 1998[3] and March 24, 1999[4] Orders of the Regional Trial
Reconsideration is hereby DENIED.
Court of Makati City, Branch 58, in Civil Case No. 98-1342.
The filing of the last pleading and the consequent joinder of
The pertinent facts, borne by the records, are as follows. issues has ripened this case for pre-trial which is hereby set

Let notices of pre-trial be sent to the parties and their counsel.


Petitioner Fluor Daniel, Inc.-Philippines is a domestic corporation providing
construction and program management services. Sometime in 1996, petitioner entered
SO ORDERED.[8]
into an agreement with Fil-Estate Properties, Inc. (Fil-Estate) for the construction of the
Fairways & Bluewater, Newcoast Island Resort in Boracay Island. Respondent E.B.
Villarosa & Partners Co., Ltd. was one of the contractors engaged by petitioner to provide
services for the said project. Respondent subsequently filed a motion to amend its complaint followed by its
amended complaint. Petitioner, on the other hand, filed a motion to suspend
proceedings. The trial court granted respondents, but denied petitioners motion, to wit:
On May 6, 1997, petitioner and respondent executed a separate contract for civil
structure and architecture, for plumbing and fire protection, and for millworks. However, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing:
Fil-Estate failed to satisfy petitioners monthly progress billing. Hence, petitioner did not
pay respondent. 1) Plaintiffs Urgent Motion to Amend Complaint With Leave of
Court is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, plaintiffs Amended
Petitioner apprised Fil-Estate that the project would have to be Complaint filed on May 07, 1999 is hereby admitted in lieu of
suspended. Petitioner likewise issued a notice of suspension of work to all its contractors, the original complaint which is hereby deemed withdrawn for
including respondent. In response, respondent informed petitioner that it deemed the all intents and purposes. Consequently, defendant is given
contracts between them good as terminated. Thus, respondent demanded payment for fifteen (15) days after receipt of this Order within which to file
suspension cost and for work so far performed. its Amended Answer to plaintiffs Amended Complaint.
2) Defendants Motion to Suspend Proceedings is hereby DENIED. THAT PAYMENT OF ITS BILLINGS WAS SUBJECT TO THE CONDITION
OF TIMELY RECEIPT OF SIMILAR PAYMENTS FROM FIL-ESTATE.
SO ORDERED.[9]
IV.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS, IN REFUSING TO
Petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a special civil action for certiorari CONSIDER THE ANNEXES TO THE COMPLAINT, FAILED TO
assailing the November 19, 1998 and March 24, 1999 Orders of the court a quo and APPRECIATE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF VILLAROSAS [RESPONDENTS]
praying for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. The FAILURE TO SATISFY THE REQUIRED CRITERIA TO JUSTIFY PAYMENT
appellate court decreed: UNDER ITS MONTHLY PROGRESS BILLINGS.[11]

WHEREFORE, the Order dated 19 November 1998 issued by


the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 58 in Civil Case No. 98-1342
Petitioner contends that the complaint utterly and miserably failed to state the
entitled E.B. Villarosa & Partners Co., Inc. vs. Fluor Daniel,
operative facts which would give rise to a cause of action against it. Petitioner insists that
Inc. Philippines denying petitioners Motion To Dismiss as well as its
the annexes attached to respondents complaint and other pleadings should be considered
order of 24 March 1999 denying reconsideration thereof, are
in determining respondents cause of action, or lack of it, against petitioner. Petitioner
both affirmed.
maintains that the Court of Appeals committed manifest error when it refused to consider
the annexes to the complaint, showing respondents admission that payment of its billings
Accordingly, the temporary restraining order issued by the was subject to the condition of timely receipt of similar payments from petitioner.
Ninth Division of this Court as contained in Resolution dated 25 May
2000 is hereby lifted.
Respondent, however, counters that its complaint sufficiently stated a cause of
Costs against petitioner. action against petitioner and that the annexes attached to the complaint bear no relevance,
not having been admitted by stipulation. Respondent asserts that the three elements of a
SO ORDERED.[10] cause of action are all present in this case, namely: (i) legal right of respondent to demand
payment from petitioner; (ii) obligation of petitioner to pay respondent; and (iii) failure of
petitioner to pay respondent. Respondent stresses that petitioner cannot evade its liability
to pay by claiming that payments to respondent are subject to timely receipt of similar
Hence, the instant petition, raising the following issues:
payments from Fil-Estate.
I.
The petition is impressed with merit.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COMPLAINT SUFFICIENTLY STATES A CAUSE
OF ACTION AGAINST FDIP [PETITIONER] IN LIGHT OF THE
JURISPRUDENTIAL TESTS AND GUIDELINES LAID DOWN BY THIS Section 2, Rule 2 of the Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
HONORABLE COURT.

II. SEC. 2. Cause of action, defined. A cause of action is the act or


omission by which a party violates a right of another.
WHETHER OR NOT THE ANNEXES ATTACHED TO THE COMPLAINT
SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT
VILLAROSAS [RESPONDENTS] COMPLAINT SUFFICIENTLY STATED A
CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST FDIP IN LIGHT OF JURISPRUDENTIAL The essential elements of a cause of action are as follows: 1) A right in favor of
TESTS AND GUIDELINES LAID DOWN BY THIS HONORABLE COURT. the plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever law it arises or is created; 2) An
obligation on the part of the defendant not to violate such right; and 3) An act or omission
III. on the part of the defendant in violation of the right of the plaintiff or constituting a breach
of the obligation of the defendant to the plaintiff for which the latter may maintain an action
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS, IN REFUSING TO for recovery of damages or other relief.[12]
CONSIDER THE ANNEXES TO THE COMPLAINT, ERRED IN FAILING TO
APPRECIATE THE CLEAR ADMISSION OF VILLAROSA [RESPONDENT]
It is, thus, only upon the occurrence of the last element that a cause of action We thus hold that respondents complaint, taken with the contracts annexed to it,
arises, giving the plaintiff a right to file an action in court for recovery of damages or other failed to pass the test of sufficiency of cause of action. Thus, the said complaint should have
relief.[13] The test of sufficiency of facts alleged in the complaint as constituting a cause of been dismissed on the ground of failure to state a cause of action.
action is whether or not admitting the facts alleged, the court could render a valid verdict
in accordance with the prayer of the complaint.[14] That in determining sufficiency of cause
of action, the court takes into account only the material allegations of the complaint and no WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated October 24,
other, is not a hard and fast rule. In some cases, the court considers the documents attached 2002 and the Resolution dated August 25, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
to the complaint to truly determine sufficiency of cause of action.[15] 52897, which affirmed the November 19, 1998 and March 24, 1999 Orders of
the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 58 in Civil Case No. 98-1342,
are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE.
We have ruled that a complaint should not be dismissed for insufficiency of cause
of action if it appears clearly from the complaint and its attachments that the plaintiff is
entitled to relief.[16] The converse is also true. The complaint may be dismissed for lack of Costs against respondent.
cause of action if it is obvious from the complaint and its annexes that the plaintiff is not
entitled to any relief. SO ORDERED.

In this case, we note that annexed to the subject complaint are the three contracts
governing the rights and obligations between petitioner and respondent, namely the
contract for civil structure and architecture, the contract for plumbing and fire protection,
and the contract for millworks. Records show that recurring in each of the said contracts
is the provision that payment by petitioner shall be subject to its timely receipt of similar
payments from Fil-Estate. The said provision, found in each of the aforesaid contracts, is
quoted below:

2.0 PRICING BASIS

The Contract Price set forth herein is firm for the duration of the Work
and includes all Contractors costs, expenses, overhead and profit for
complete performance of the Work.

xxxx

Payment of the billings shall be subject to the timely receipt of


similar payments from the client by Fluor Daniel. Any prolonged
delay in payment by Fluor Daniel is subject to a suspension of activities
by EBV within five (5) work days after proper written notice is provided
by contractor to Fluor Daniel.[17] (Emphasis supplied.)

On their face, the said attached contracts, which define and delimit the rights and
obligations of the parties, clearly require a specific condition before petitioner may be held
liable for payment. The complaint, however, failed to state that the said condition had been
fulfilled. Without the said condition having taken place, petitioner cannot be said to have
breached its obligation to pay.