Bersamin Case Digests Volume 2
Cases decided and penned by Justice Bersamin. Useful for the 2017 Bar Exams....
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER VS. JOSE ALBERTO ALBA, REPRESENTED BY HIS ATTORNEY-IN-FACT, MANUEL BLANCO JR., RESPONDENT AUGUST 19, 2015, G.R. NO. 169710 (FIRST DIVISION) MAIN TOPIC: CIVIL LAW / PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1529 F: The respondent was the purchaser for value of the several parcels of land situated in Nabas, Province of Aklan. He applied for the original registration of title over the said lands in the MCTC. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, opposed the application for original registration of title, contending that the respondent and his predecessors-in-interest had not been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the lands in question since June 12, 1945. After trial, the MCTC rendered judgment on the application ordering the issuance of a Decree of Registration of Title in favor of the applicant. The OSG appealed the judgment to the CA and the latter affirmed the decision of the lower court. I1: Whether or not the court a quo acquired jurisdiction over the subject application for registration of title for failure of respondent to submit the original tracing cloth plan or sepia of the land applied for registration. I2: Whether or not respondent was able to establish his required possession. H1: Yes. The same effect were the rulings in Republic v. Court of Appeals, Recto v. Republic and Republic v. Hubilla, where the Court has pointed out that although the best means to identify a piece of land for registration purposes is the original tracing cloth plan approved by the Bureau of Lands (now the Lands Management Services of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources), other evidence could provide sufficient identification. In the case at bar, the submission of the approved plan and technical description of the subject lot constituted a substantial compliance with the legal requirement of ascertaining the identity or location of the lands subject of the applicationfor registration. The plan and technical description had been approved by the Regional Technical Director of the Land Management Services, and were subsequently identified, marked, and offered in evidence during the trial. H2: No. We agree with the insistence of the OSG that Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529 provides the three requisites for the filing of an application for registration of title under Section 14(1) of PD 1529, namely: (1) that the property in question is alienable and disposable land of the public domain; (2) that the applicant by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation; and (3) that such possession is under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier. The respondent did not satisfactorily demonstrate that his or his predecessors-in-interest's possession and occupation were of the nature and character contemplated by the law. None of his witnesses testified about any specific acts of ownership exercised by him or his predecessors-in-interest on the lands. The general statements of his witnesses on the possession and occupation were mere conclusions of law that did not qualify as competent and sufficient evidence of his open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation. In Republic v. Alconaba, 1 this Court has explained that the intent behind the law's use of the terms possession and occupation is to emphasizethe need for actual and not just constructive or fictional possession. Witnesses only testified of their possession since time immemorial but did not offer any details of specific acts indicative of possession and occupation. In sum, the respondent did not prove that he and his predecessors-in-interest have been in continuous, exclusive, and adverse possession and occupation thereof in the concept of owners. Hence, his 1
The law speaks of possession and occupation. Since these words are separated by the conjunction and, the clear intention of the law is not to make one synonymous with the other. Possession is broader than occupation because it includes constructive possession. When, therefore, the law adds the word occupation, it seeks to delimit the all-encompassing effect of constructive possession. Taken together with the words open, continuous, exclusive and notorious, the word occupation serves to highlight the fact that for an applicant to qualify, his possession must not be a mere fiction. Actual possession of a land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his own property.
application fororiginal land registration fails. HILARIO P. SORIANO, PETITIONER VS. DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN FOR LUZON VICTOR C. FERNANDEZ, FLORIZA A. BRIONES, GRAFT INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OFFICER II, DONNA B. PASCUAL, GRAFT INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OFFICER II AND ATTY. ADONIS C. CLEOFE, RESPONDENTS AUGUST 19, 2015, G.R. NO. 168157 (FIRST DIVISION) MAIN TOPIC/CRIMINAL LAW/Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) SUB TOPIC: CIVIL LAW/ PD 1529 (AMENDING AND CODIFYING THE LAWS RELATIVE TO REGISTRATION OF PROPERTY AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES) F: The petitioner was president of Soriano Holdings Corporation. In 1999, Romeo L. Santos executed a Deed of Assignment transferring and conveying to Soriano Holdings Corporation the parcel of land situated on P. Burgos Street, Batangas City, where the First Coconut Rural Bank, Inc. (First Coconut) conducted its business. As aconsequence, Santos delivered the owner’s copy of Transfer Certificate ofTitle to Soriano Holdings Corporation. However, the petitionerwas not able to register the Deed of Assignment because of some urgentbusiness transactions that then required his full attention. However, prior to the assignment, Santos andFirst Coconut had a standing lease contract covering the parcel of land and although the TCT was still in the name of Santos, First Coconut paid its monthly rentals directly to Soriano Holdings Corporation with the acquiescence of Santos. First Coconut received a copy of the writ of possession issued by the RTC, directing First Coconut to vacate the leased premises within five days from notice. First Coconut learned that the land had been the subject of a litigation between Santos and one Ma. Teresa Robles. The writ of possession was a product of a case decided by the RTC which ruled in favor of Robles and ordering the cancellation of the TCT issued in the name of Santos in lieu of a new owner’s duplicate copy in the name of Robles. Respondent Atty. Cleofe, then the Acting Registrar of Deeds, canceled the TCT and issued a new owner’s TCT in the name of Robles without the payment of proper taxes and fees. The petitioner charged Atty. Cleofe in the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon (Fernandez) with the violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019(Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act). Fernandez dismissed the complaint for lack of probable cause. The petitioner moved to reconsider the dismissal, but his motion was denied for its lack of merit. Hence, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65. I: Whether or not public respondents acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing the charge against Atty. Cleofe. H: No. The fact that Atty. Cleofe obeyed the ruling in LRA Consulta Case No. 2402 was indicative of his good faith. For sure, he, being a Register of Deeds, was officially bound to obey the ruling in the consulta case because of Section 117 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 2 The petitioner’s recourse if he did not consider Atty. Cleofe’s stance on the treatment of the transfer by virtue of the judgment of the RTC as contained in the latter’s reply to his letter of August 29, 2003 legally sustainable was to follow the procedure prescribed by Section 117, which was for him to elevate in consultato the LRA his disagreement with such stance. However, there is no showing that the petitioner elevated his concerns in consulta. His inaction signified his acceptance of Atty. Cleofe’sstance on the matter. Under the circumstances, the petitioner could not justly accuse Atty. Cleofe of manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable 2
PD 1529 Section 117. Procedure. - -----xxxx------“The Commissioner of Land Registration, considering the consultaand the records certified to him after notice to the parties and hearing, shall enter an order prescribing the step to be taken or memorandum to be made. His resolution or ruling in consultasshall be conclusive and binding upon all Registers of Deeds, provided, thatthe party in interest who disagrees with the final resolution, ruling or order of the Commissioner relative to consultasmay appeal to the Court of Appeals within the period and in manner provided in Republic Act No. 5434. “
negligence. Secondly, the exclusive discretion to determine the existence of probable cause to charge Atty. Cleofe as a public official in a criminal case pertained to the Office of the Ombudsman. To justify the issuance of the writ of certiorari, the petitioner must show that the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in making its determination and in arriving at the conclusion reached. In short, the petitioner must establish grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, which connotes the whimsical and capricious exercise of judgment as is equivalent to excess, or lack of jurisdiction; the abuse must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility. Obviously, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, having correctly resolved the question of probable cause, did not abuse their discretion, least of all gravely, in dismissing the charge against Atty. Cleofe.
JUAN PONCE ENRILE, PETITIONER VS. SANDIGANBAYAN (THIRD DIVISION), AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES AUGUST 18, 2015, G.R. NO. 213847 (EN BANC) MAIN TOPIC: CRIMINAL LAW/ REPUBLIC ACT 7080 (AN ACT DEFINING AND PENALIZING THE CRIME OF PLUNDER SUB TOPIC: POLITICAL LAW/POLITICAL LAW/ BILL OF RIGHTS/RIGHT TO BAIL SUB TOPIC: REMEDIAL LAW/ CRIMINAL PROCEDURE/ BAIL F: On June 5, 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman charged Enrile and several others with plunder in the Sandiganbayan on the basis of their purported involvement in the diversion and misuse of appropriations under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).On June 10, 2014 and June 16, 2014, Enrile respectively filed his Omnibus Motion andSupplemental Opposition,praying, among others, that he be allowed to post bail should probable cause be found against him. The motions were heard by the Sandiganbayan after the Prosecution filed its ConsolidatedOpposition. On July 3, 2014, the Sandiganbayan issued its resolution denying Enrile’s motion, particularly on the matter of bail, on the ground of its prematurity considering that Enrile had not yet then voluntarily surrendered or been placed under the custody of the law. Accordingly, the Sandiganbayan ordered the arrest of Enrile. On the same day that the warrant for his arrest was issued, Enrile voluntarily surrendered to the CIDG and was later on confined at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital. Enrile filed his Motion for Detention at the PNP General Hospital, and his Motion to Fix Bail, whichwere heard by the Sandiganbayan on July 8, 2014.In support of the motions, Enrile argued that he should be allowed to post bail because: (a) theProsecution had not yet established that the evidence of his guilt was strong;(b) although he was charged with plunder, the penalty as to him would onlybe reclusion temporal, not reclusion perpetua; and (c) he was not a flightrisk, and his age and physical condition must further be seriously considered. The Sandiganbayan issued its first assailedresolution denying Enrile’sMotion to Fix Bail arguing that, it is only after the prosecution shall have presented itsevidence and the Court shall have made a determination that the evidenceof guilt is not strong against accused Enrile can he demand bail. In addition, the Sandiganbayan opined that for purposes of bail, the presence of mitigating circumstance/s is not taken into consideration. These circumstances will only be appreciated in the imposition of the proper penalty after trial should the accused be found guilty of the offense charged of right and that it is exceedingly premature for accused Enrile to ask the Court to fix his bail. Enrilefiled for petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 claiming that: before judgment of conviction, an accused is entitled to bail as matter of right; that it is the duty and burden of theProsecution to show clearly and conclusively that Enrile comes under the exception and cannot be excluded from enjoying the right to bail; that theProsecution has failed
to establish that Enrile, if convicted of plunder, is punishable by reclusion perpetua considering the presence of two mitigatingcircumstances – his age and his voluntary surrender; that the Prosecution hasnot come forward with proof showing that his guilt for the crime of plunderis strong; and that he should not be considered a flight risk taking intoaccount that he is already over the age of 90, his medical condition, and hissocial standing. I: Whether or not the Sandiganbayan (Third Division) acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in denying Enrile’s Motion to Fix Bail. H: Yes. The Sandiganbayan arbitrarily ignored the objective of bail to ensure the appearance of the accused during the trial; and unwarrantedly disregarded the clear showing of the fragile health and advanced age of Enrile. As such, the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in denying Enrile’s Motion To Fix Bail. 1. Bail protects the right of the accused to due process and to be presumed innocent. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. The presumption of innocence is rooted in the guarantee of due process, and is safeguarded by the constitutional right to be released on bail, and further binds the court to wait until after trial to impose any punishment on the accused. It is worthy to note that bail is not granted to prevent the accused from committing additional crimes. The purpose of bail is to guarantee theappearance of the accused at the trial, or whenever so required by the trialcourt. The amount of bail should be high enough to assure the presence ofthe accused when so required, but it should be no higher than is reasonablycalculated to fulfill this purpose.Thus, bail acts as a reconcilingmechanism to accommodate both the accused’s interest in his provisionalliberty before or during the trial, and the society’s interest in assuring theaccused’s presence at trial. 2. Bail may be granted as a matter of right or of discretion The right to bail is expressly afforded by Section 13, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution. 3 This constitutional provision is repeated in Section 7, Rule 114 ofthe Rules of Court. 4A capital offense in the context of the rule refers to an offense that, under thelaw existing at the time of its commission and the application for admissionto bail, may be punished with death.The general rule is, therefore, that any person, before being convictedof any criminal offense, shall be bailable, unless he is charged with a capitaloffense, or with an offense punishable with reclusion perpetuaor lifeimprisonment, and the evidence of his guilt is strong. Hence, from themoment he is placed under arrest, or is detained or restrained by the officersof the law, he can claim the guarantee of his provisional liberty under theBill of Rights, and he retains his right to bail unless he is charged with acapital offense, or with an offense punishable with reclusion perpetuaor lifeimprisonment, and the evidence of his guilt is strong.Once it has beenestablished that the evidence of guilt is strong, no right to bail shall berecognized.Likewise, bail is amatter of right prior to conviction by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) for anyoffense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, or even prior to conviction for an offense punishable by death, reclusionperpetua, or life imprisonment when evidence of guilt is not strong. On the other hand, the granting of bail is discretionary: (1) upon conviction by the RTC of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetuaor life imprisonment; or (2) if the RTC has imposed a penalty of imprisonment exceeding six years, provided
x xx All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetuawhen evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required. 4
Section 7. Capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, not bailable. — No person charged with acapital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetuaor lifeimprisonment, shall be admitted to bail when evidence of guilt is strong, regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution
none of the circumstances enumerated under paragraph 3 of Section 5, Rule 114 is present. 5 3. Admission to bail in offenses punishedby death, or life imprisonment, or reclusionperpetuais subject to judicial discretion For purposes of admission to bail, the determination of whether or not evidence of guilt is strong in criminal cases involving capital offenses, or offenses punishable with reclusion perpetuaor life imprisonment lies within the discretion of the trial court. But, as the Court has held in Concerned Citizens v. Elma, “such discretion may be exercised only after the hearing called to ascertain the degree of guilt of the accused for the purpose of whether or not he should be granted provisional liberty.” It is axiomatic, therefore, that bail cannot be allowed when its grant is a matter of discretion on the part of the trial court unless there has been a hearing with notice to the Prosecution. 4. Enrile’s poor health justifies his admission to bail The currently fragile state of Enrile’s health presents another compelling justification for his admission to bail, but which the Sandiganbayan did not recognize. Bail for the provisional liberty of the accused, regardless of the crime charged, should be allowed independently of the merits of the charge,provided his continued incarceration is clearly shown to be injurious to hishealth or to endanger his life. Indeed, denying him bail despite imperilinghis health and life would not serve the true objective of preventiveincarceration during the trial. It is relevant to observe that granting provisional liberty to Enrile will then enable him to have his medical condition be properly addressed and better attended to by competent physicians in the hospitals of his choice. This will not only aid in his adequate preparation of his defense but, more importantly, will guarantee his appearance in court for the trial. In now granting Enrile’s petition for certiorari, the Court is guided by the earlier mentioned principal purpose of bail, which is to guarantee the appearance of the accused at the trial, or whenever so required by the court. The Court is further mindful of the Philippines’ responsibility in the international community arising from the national commitment underthe Universal Declaration of Human Rights 6 This national commitment to uphold the fundamental human rights as well as value the worth and dignity of every person has authorized the grantof bail not only to those charged in criminal proceedings but also to extraditees upon a clear and convincing showing: (1) that the detainee will not be a flight risk or a danger to the community; and (2) that there exist special, humanitarian and compelling circumstances.In our view, his social and political standing and his having immediately surrendered to the authorities upon his being charged in court indicate that the risk of his flight or escape from this jurisdiction is highly unlikely. His personal disposition from the onset of his indictment for plunder, formal or otherwise, has demonstrated his utter respect for the legal processes of this country.
(a) That he is a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or habitualdelinquent, or has committed the crime aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration; (b) That he has previously escaped from legal confinement, evaded sentence, or violated the conditions of his bail without valid justification; (c) That he committed the offense while under probation, parole, or conditional pardon; (d) That the circumstances of his case indicate the probability of flight if released on bail; or (e) That there is undue risk that he may commit another crime during the pendency of the appeal. 6x
xx uphold the fundamental human rights as well as value the worth and dignity of every person. This commitment is enshrined in Section II, Article II of our Constitution which provides: “The State values thedignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.”
DR. CORAZON D. PADERANGA, DULCE P. GUIBELONDO, PATRIA P. DIAZ, CARMENCITA P. ORSENO, AND DR. AMOR P. GALON, COMPLAINANTS VS. HONORABLE RUSTICO D. PADERANGA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 28 IN MAMBAJAO, CAMIGUIN, RESPONDENT X------------------------------------------------X PATRIA PADERANGA DIAZ, COMPLAINANT, VS. HONORABLE RUSTICO D. PADERANGA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 28 IN MAMBAJAO, CAMIGUIN, RESPONDENT AUGUST 17, 2015, A.M. NO. RTJ-14-2383 (FORMERLY A.M. OCA I.P.I NO. 05-2301-RTJ) (FIRST DIVISION) MAIN TOPIC: LEGAL ETHICS/ CODE OF JUDICIAL DISQUALIFICATION OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS (RULE 137)
F: Respondent served as the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Camiguin. He was administratively charged based on two separate complaints. The first complaint, was brought by his own sisters of the full blood, namely: Dra. Corazon D. Paderanga (Corazon),Dulce Paderanga-Guibelondo (Dulce), Patria Paderanga-Diaz (Patria),CarmencitaPaderanga-Orseno (Carmencita) and Dra. Amor Paderanga-Galon to charge him with conduct unbecoming of a judge and grave misconduct. The second, was instituted by Patria to charge him with ignorance of the law, disregard of theNew Code of Judicial Conduct and abuse of authority. Complainants aver that Respondent Judge, being amagistrate, failed to exert any effort to mediate the differences andmisunderstandings between his siblings. The complainants also allege that Respondent Judge compounded the trouble between his siblings when he instigated, encouraged and advised Narciso, Jr. to file charges against his sister, Dra. Corazon. They likewise state that being a judge, Respondent has the authority and moral obligation to settle disputes brewing within the family; that since he is expected to encourage amicable settlement of disputes of other people, it behooves upon him to zealously pursue the same thing for his brother and sister so as not to bring shame and scandal on the family; that he showed apathy to the Complainants’ plight and clear bias for Narciso, Jr.’s claim when he merely sent a Manifestation instead of appearing personally at the conciliatory hearing scheduled by the LupongTagapamayapa. Lastly, they assert that the Respondent Judge abused his power as a judge by continuously trying to harass and oppress his female siblings by threatening to file Civil and Criminal cases against Carmencita and Dulce for not giving him his share of the fruits of the land held in common by the three of them, as evidenced by letters. Dra. Corazon alleges that Respondent Judge took advantage of his powerful position and unjustly enriched himself by encroaching on Lot 12910. According to her, she and Respondent Judge agreed to share equally on Lot 9817; that his share on said lot is designated as Lot 12910-B while her shares are designated as Lots 12910 and 12912; that per Subdivision Sketch Plan preparedby the geodetic engineer, Lot 12910 belongs to her; however, without asking for her consent or approval, Respondent Judge fenced and introduced improvements therein. On the second complaint, Patria avers that she and the respondent Judge live in their ancestral house. That during one of Narciso Jr.’s visits to Camiguin, he found his room in disarray and claimed that there were valuable things missing. Upon hearing the commotion created by his siblings on the second floor, respondent Judge went upstairs and accused Patria of stealing the missing items, which included a camera. In that occasion, complainant Patria claims that Respondent Judge uttered defamatory remarks upon her. Later, it turned out that nothing was missing from Narciso, Jr.’s belongings. An Information for Violation of RA 7610 was filed against Patria before the sala of Respondent Judge. The following day, he issued a Warrant for the arrest of
Patria. I1: Whether or not the following acts of the respondent constituted conduct unbecoming of a judge, namely: (a) failing to exert efforts to mediate the differences and misunderstandings among his siblings, particularly between Narciso, Jr. and Corazon, that had led to the filing of civil and criminal cases against each other; (b) instigating Narciso, Jr. to file charges against Corazon that compounded the misunderstanding among his siblings; (c) threatening the filing of criminal cases against his sisters; (d) accusing Patria of stealing Narciso, Jr.’s belongings, specifically his camera; (e) uttering defamatory remarks against Patria; and (f) taking advantage of his position and unjustly enriching himself by appropriating for himself Lot12910 to the prejudice of the rightful owner. I2: Whether or not his issuance of the warrant of arrest against Patria amounted to gross misconduct, ignorance of the law, disregard of the NewCode of Judicial Conduct and abuse of authority. H1: No. with one exception. Respondent was not guilty of conduct unbecoming of a judge or of grave misconduct under the first complaint except for his appropriation for himself of Lot 12910 in order to unjustly enrich himself. The Court sustained the conclusion of Justice Del Castillo that the other imputations against the respondent were baseless or were not subject to administrative sanction by reiterating the findings of said Justice. 7 On the issue of appropriating Lot 12910, the respondent is insisting that the estate of their late parents had not yet been partitioned among them; that the sketch plan prepared after the survey which showed that Lot 12910 had been allocated under the partition to Dra. Corazon, was not yet official for lack of approval by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; and that he had obtained another sketch plan indicating that he was entitled to Lot 12910. Disbelieving the respondent’s denial, Justice Del Castillo pointed out that the respondent’s signature on the sketch plan reflected his actual knowledge and approval of the partition of their parents’ estate; and noted that his denial was inconsistent with his acts, and was apparently implausible. H2: Yes. It was Patria’s submission that he should have disqualified himself early on under the rules on compulsory disqualification of judges. Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court 8, which governs the disqualifications of judicial officials, including the Members of the Court itself and Section 5, Canon 3 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct 9 explicitly provides the prohibition. 7
x xx While it is true that it is morally right for siblings to settle things among themselves, there is nothing in law that compels or obliges a Judge to settle disputes between his family members. A Judge is still but a man and not God who can dictate the actions of people around him. Furthermore, in administrative proceedings, the complainant has the burden of proving by substantial evidence the allegations in his complaint. Charges based on mere suspicion or speculation cannot be given credence. In the instant case, the suspicion of complainants that respondent Judge encouraged Narciso, Jr. to file cases against his siblings remains unsubstantiated. With respect to the alleged threats of the Respondent Judge to file cases against his siblings, it should be noted that to date, he has not filed any case against them. On the contrary, the records disclose that it is the Complainants who have filed cases against the Respondent Judge. “Threats” of filing civil and criminal cases remain to be empty threats and not actionable wrongs. In any event, an administrative case is not the remedy for such threats. The Complainants have other remedies in law, which is the proper course of action against the alleged threats. The same is true with respect to the malicious utterances allegedly made by the Respondent Judge against Patria. An administrative complaint is not the proper remedy for such utterances. The proper remedy is to file a criminal case for slander against the Respondent Judge. x xx 8
Section 1. Disqualification of judges. - No judge or judicial officer shall sit in any case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily interested as heir, legatee, creditor or otherwise, or in which he is related to either party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree, computed according to the rules of the civil law, or in which he has been executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he has presided in any inferior court when his ruling or decision is the subject of review, without the written consent of all parties in interest, signed by them and entered upon the record. A judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case, for just or valid reasons other than those mentioned above.
5. Judges shall disqualify themselves from participating in any proceedings in which they are unable to decide the matter impartially or in which it may appear to a reasonable observer that they are
The respondent’s issuance of the warrant of arrest against his own sister was an outright violation of the stringent rules on compulsory disqualification. For him, selfdisqualification was absolute and should have been immediate. It did not matter that he presided in a single-sala station. Neither was it an excuse that the private complainant in the criminal case against his sister could protest unless he acted as promptly as he did on the case. No protest would be justified should selfdisqualification be mandatory. Consequently, he was not exempt from administrative liability for acting upon the criminal case involving his own sister, and issuing the warrant of arrest against her. SC PP: The rules on the disqualification of judges, particularly compulsory self-disqualification, are basic legal guidelines that must be at the palm of every judge’s hands, (Hipe v. Literato). They are as basic as a rule of thumb. That the respondent disobeyed them should render him fully accountable for gross ignorance of the law or rule, (Cabico v. Dimaculangan-Querijero). The Court has declared: x xx “As public servants, judges are appointed to the judiciary to serve as the visible representation of the law, and more importantly, of justice. From them, the people draw their will and awareness to obey the law.” If judges, who have sworn to obey and uphold the Constitution, shall conduct themselves as respondent did, in wanton disregard and violation of the rights of the accused, then the people, especially those who have had recourse to them shall lose all their respect and high regard for the members of the Bench and the judiciary itself shall lose the high moral ground from which it draws its power and strength to compel obedience to the laws.” xxx (Garcia v. Dela Pena)
GABRIELA CORONEL, PETITIONER VS. ATTY. NELSON A. CUNANAN, RESPONDENT. AUGUST 12, 2015, A.C. NO. 6738 (FIRST DIVISION) MAIN TOPIC: LEGAL ETHICS / CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY/ CANON 1 of the CPR F: Complainant recounts that sometime in October 2003, she engaged the services Respondent to transfer to her name and her co-heirs the parcels of land covered under TCT No. T-72074 and OCT. No. 9616, which certificates of title are both registered under the name ofComplainant’s deceased grandparents. Respondent advised Complainant that for the registration of TCT. No. T-72074, the transfer may be effected by two means namely: first, by way of “ordinary procedure”; and second, by way of “direct registration”. Ordinary procedure involves transfer by way of execution of Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement, publication, payment of capital gains tax, etc., and registration with the Register of Deeds. Transfer by this means will cost Complainant an estimate of Php 56,000.00 with the amount of Php50,000.00 more or less to be spent for the payment of taxes. Transfer by this means may take a period of at least five (5) months. Direct registration, on the other hand, involves preparing documents upon advise of the Register of Deeds and will involve an estimated cost to be negotiated with the officials or employees of the Register of Deeds to a flat amount of Php 50, 000.00. Transfer by this means will take only one (1) month or less. As for the transfer of OCT No. 9616, Respondent advised Complainant of the filing of a petition for issuance of Owner’s Duplicate Copy and thereafter, to proceed with the transfer in the same manner as that outlined in the transfer of TCT. No. T- 72074. It appears that unable to decide the matter impartially. Such proceedings include, but are not limited to, instances where: (a) The judge has actual bias or prejudice concerning a party or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceedings; (b) The judge previously served as a lawyer or was a material witness in the matter in controversy; (c) The judge, or a member of his or her family, has an economic interest in the outcome of the matter in controversy; (d) The judge served as executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or lawyer in the case or matter in controversy, or a former associate of the judge served as counsel during their association, or the judge or lawyer was a material witness therein; (e) The judge’s ruling in a lower court is the subject of review; (f) The judge is related by consanguinity or affinity to a party litigant within the sixth civil degree or to counsel within the fourth civil degree; or (g) The judge knows that his or her spouse or child has a financial interest, as heir, legatee, creditor, fiduciary, or otherwise, in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceedings;
Complainant and Respondent agreed on the direct registration approach because sometime thereafter, Respondent billed Complainant with the following fees: Php 50,000.00 as package deal for the direct transfer of title for TCT. No. T-72074; another Php 50,000 as package deal for the transfer of title for OCT No. 9616; Php5,000 for litigation expenses for issuance of duplicate copy of OCT 9616 and another Php15,000 as professional fees, to which Complainant agreed. On October 28, 2003, Complainant paid Respondent Php 70,000.00. In his Comment, Respondent admitted most of the allegations of Complainant. However, he denied that there was deceit on his part insisting that he clearly outlined to Complainant the available procedures for the transfer of title and afforded Complainant the opportunity to think about the options. He claimed that there was nothing illicit in suggesting the direct registration scheme as the same was advised to him by the officials and employees of the Register of Deeds upon his inquiry thereto. I: Whether or not Respondent Cunanan engaged in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. H: Yes. A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes. 10He shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct; 11 or counsel or abet activities aimed at a defiance of the law or at a lessening of confidence in the legal system. 12 He should advise his client to uphold the law, not to violate or disobey it. Conversely, he should not recommend to his client any recourse or remedy that is contrary to law, public policy, public order, and public morals. Although the respondent outlined to the complainant the “ordinary procedure” of an extrajudicial settlement of estate as a means of transferring title, he also proposed the option of “direct registration” despite being fully aware that such option was actually a shortcut intended to circumvent the law, and thus patently contrary to law. The transfer under the latter option would bypass the immediate heirs of their grandparents (i.e., the complainant’s parent and her co-heirs parents), and consequently deprive the Government of the corresponding estate taxes and transfer fees aside from requiring the falsification of the transfer documents. He assured that he could enable the direct transfer with the help of his contacts in the Office of the Register of Deeds and other relevant agencies of the Government, which meant that he would be bribing some officials and employees of those offices. The proposal of “direct registration” was unquestionably unlawful, immoral and deceitful all at once. The respondent argues that his proposal did not deceive the complainant because he had informed her on all the “steps” to be taken on her behalf. His argument misses the point, which is that he made the proposal despite its patent illegality in order to take advantage of the complainant’s limited legal knowledge of the regular procedures for the transfer of title under circumstances of intestacy. In other words, he made her agree to the “direct registration” through deceitful misrepresentation. He then ignored the written demands from her, which forced her in the end to finally charge him with disbarment. He thereby abused his being a lawyer to the hilt in order to cause not only his client but also the public in general to doubt the sincerity of the members of the Law Profession, and consequently diminish the public’s trust and confidence in lawyers in general. SC PP: A lawyer who proposes to his client a recourse or remedy that is contrary to law, public policy, public order and public morals, or that lessens the public confidence in the legal system is guilty of gross misconduct, and should be suspended from the practice of law, or even disbarred.
1, Code of Professional Responsibility. Code of Professional Responsibility, Canon 1, Rule 1.01. Code of Professional Responsibility, Canon 1, Rule 1.02.
10Canon 11 12
BERLINDA ORIBELLO, PETITIONER VS. COURT OF APPEALS (SPECIAL FORMER TENTH DIVISION) AND REMEDIOS ORIBELLO, RESPONDENTS AUGUST 5, 2015, G.R. NO. 163504 (FIRST DIVISION) MAIN TOPIC: REMEDIAL LAW/BATAS PAMBANSA Blg. 129 (The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980)/ JURISDICTION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS SUB TOPIC: REMEDIAL LAW/RULES OF COURT/ RULE 69 /PARTITION F: On March 10, 1982, Toribio married appellee (Berlinda) before the municipal mayor of Agoo, La Union. He died intestate on August 18, 1993. Remedios Oribello, instituted on May 27, 1997 an action against appellee represented by her natural father Alfredo Selga. The action was anchored on the theory that appellant is an adopted daughter of Toribio per decision dated March 26, 1974 of the then Court of First Instance of Occidental Mindoro (Branch II). Denying that appellant is an adopted daughter of Toribio, appellee averred in her answer that the decree of adoption was fraudulently secured by Alfredo; that the proceedings in the first adoption case and the decree of adoption are void ab initio; that Toribio could not have filed the first adoption case in Occidental Mindoro because he was a resident of Agoo, La Union throughout his life; that the Toribio referred to in the first adoption case and appellee's husband, Toribio, are two different persons; that the birth certificate of appellant was simulated; that appellant never lived with nor submitted herself to the parental authority and care of Toribio even after appellee's marriage to him; that Alfredo's fraudulent scheme was shown by his filing of another petition for adoption in 1983 in the Regional Trial Court of Occidental Mindoro. The RTC ruled in favor of Berlinda declaring that Remedios is not a co-owner of the properties. On appeal, respondent Remedios Oribello sought the reversal of the judgment of the RTC, insisting that the trial court erred on its decision.On July 31, 2003, the CA remanded the case to the lower court for the second phase of partition suit without prejudice to the filing, if still available, of either a petition for relief from the decree of adoption rendered in the Special Proceedings at the Court of First Instance of Occidental Mindoro or an action for annulment thereof. The CA pointed out that even if the adoption proceedings had suffered from infirmities, the RTC did not have the authority to annul the adoption decree and to dismiss the complaint for partition for that reason; and that at any rate the petitioner still had the option either to file a petition for relief or an action for the annulment of the adoption decree in the appropriate court. I1: Whether or not the CA correctly held that the validity of the adoption decree in favor of the respondent should not be assailed in an action for partition. I2: Whether or not the respondent was able to discharge her burden of proof to show that she was entitled to the partition. H1: No. The RTC did not have the jurisdiction to determine or to review the validity of the decree of adoption issued by the erstwhile CFI of Occidental Mindoro by virtue of the equal rank and category between the RTC and the CFI. The proper court with jurisdiction to do so was the CA, which has been vested by Section 9 of Batas PambansaBlg. 129 with the exclusive original jurisdiction over actions for the annulment of the judgments of the RTC, to wit: Sec. 9. Jurisdiction. - The [Court of Appeals] shall exercise: xxxx (2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over actions for annulment of judgments of Regional Trial Courts; and xxxx The Supreme Court joined the CA's decision that even supposing that the first adoption case suffers from infirmities, the lower court is bereft of authority to annul the decree of adoption which was rendered by the CFI of Occidental Mindoro, a court
of equal rank. Indeed, “no court has the authority to nullify the judgments or processes of another court of equal rank and category, having the equal power to grant the reliefs sought. Such power devolves exclusively upon the proper appellate court. The raison d'etrefor the rule is to avoid conflict of power between different courts of equal or coordinate jurisdiction which would surely lead to confusion and seriously hinder the proper administration of justice.” Gallardo-Corravs. Gallardo (350 SCRA 568) It is also relevant to mention that the judgment or final order of a court of law can be set aside only through a direct attack commenced in the court of competentjurisdiction. For this reason, any attack in this action for partition against the validity of the adoption decree issued by the CFI of Occidental Mindoro cannot be permitted because such would constitute a collateral attack against the judgment in the adoption case. H2: No. The RTC correctly ruled against the right of respondent Remedios Oribello to demand the partition of the real property belonging to the late Tomas Oribello on the ground that she had not substantiated her right to the partition by preponderance of evidence. It is relevant to relive the nature of the remedy of judicial partition. The proceeding under Rule 69 of the Rules of Court is a judicial controversy between persons who, being co-owners or coparceners of common property, seek to secure a division or partition thereof among themselves giving to each one of them the part corresponding to him. To accord with the nature of the remedy of judicial partition, there are two stages defined under Rule 69 of the Rules of Court. The first relates to the determination of the rights of the parties to the property held in common. The second concerns the physical segregation of each party's just share in the property held in common. The second stage need not be gone into should the parties agree on the physical partition. In this case, the CA has declared that Remedios Oribello, being the adopted daughter of the late ToribioOribello, was entitled to the judicial partition she hereby demanded by virtue of the decree of adoption of the CFI. Hence, it has remanded the case to the RTC for the second stage of the partition proceedings. The declaration of the CA in favor of Remedios Oribello was factually unwarranted. As the plaintiff, she had the burden of proof, as the party demanding the partition of property, to establish her right to a share in the property by preponderance of evidence, but she failed to provide the factual basis of her right to the partition warranted the dismissal of her claim for judicial partition. The foregoing findings by the RTC, that the Tomas Orivillo who had legally adopted Remedios Oribello under the CFI's decree of adoption was not the same person as the Tomas Oribello whose property was the subject of her demand for judicial partition, were supported by the records. In finding so, the RTC did not interfere with the jurisdiction of the CFI as a court of equal rank and category, and did not negate the adoption decree, but simply determined whether or not the claim of Remedios Oribello to the partition of the property of Tomas Oribello was competently substantiated by preponderance of evidence. What the RTC thereby settled was only whether Remedios Oribello was a co-owner of the property with BerlindaOribello, the widow of Tomas Oribello. The RTC, being the trial court with jurisdiction over the action for partition, undeniably possessed the fullest authority to hear and settle the conflicting claims of the parties.
TERELAY INVESTMENT AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, PETITIONER VS. CECILIA TERESITA J. YULO, RESPONDENT AUGUST 5, 2015, G.R. NO. 160924 (FIRST DIVISION) CODE OF THE MAIN TOPIC: COMMERCIAL LAW/CORPORATION PHILIPPINES/SECTION 74. BOOKS TO BE KEPT; STOCK TRANSFER AGENT AND SECTION 75. RIGHT TO FINANCIAL STATEMENTS F: Asserting her right as a stockholder, Cecilia Teresita Yulo wrote a letter, dated September 14, 1999, addressed to Terelay Investment and Development Corporation (TERELAY) requesting that she be allowed to examine its books and records on September 17, 1999 at 1:30 o’clock in the afternoon at the latter’s office on the 25th floor, Citibank Tower, Makati City. In its reply-letter, dated September 15, 1999, TERELAY denied the request for inspection and instead demanded that she show proof that she was a bona fide stockholder. On September 16, 1999, Cecilia Yulo again sent another letter clarifying that her request for examination of the corporate records was for the purpose of inquiring into the financial condition of TERELAY and the conduct of its affairs by the principal officers. The following day, Cecilia Yulo received a faxed letter from TERELAY’s counsel advising her not to continue with the inspection in order to avoid trouble. Thereafter, Cecilia Yulo filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a Petition for Issuance of a Writ of Mandamus with prayer for Damages against TERELAY. Following the enactment of Republic Act No. 8799 (The Securities Regulation Code), the case was transferred from the Securities and Exchange Commission to the RTC. In 2002, the RTC granted petitioner’s application for inspection of corporate records pursuant to Rule 7 of the Interim Rules in relation to Section 74 and 75 of the Corporation Code. Defendant, through its officers, was ordered to allow inspection of corporate books and records at reasonable hours on business days and/or furnish petitioner copies thereof. The petitioner sought reconsideration, and moved for the holding of oral arguments thereon, but the CA denied the motion on November 28, 2003. I: Whether or not the CA committed serious error in holding that the respondent was a stockholder entitled to inspect its books and records, and allowing her to inspect its corporate records despite her shareholding being a measly .001% interest. H: No. The petitioner’s submission that the respondent’s “insignificant holding” of only .001% of the petitioner’s stockholding did not justify the granting of her application for inspection of the corporate books and records is unwarranted. Neither could the petitioner arbitrarily deny the respondent’s right to inspect the corporate books and records on the basis that her inspection would be used for a doubtful or dubious reason. Under Section 74, third paragraph, of the Corporation Code, the only time when the demand to examine and copy the corporation’s records and minutes could be refused iswhen the corporation puts up as a defense to any action that “the person demanding” had “improperly used any information secured through anyprior examination of the records or minutes of such corporation or of anyother corporation, or was not acting in good faith or for a legitimatepurpose in making his demand.” The right of the shareholder to inspect the books and records of the petitioner should not be made subject to the condition of a showing of any particular dispute or of proving any mismanagement or other occasion rendering an examination proper, but if the right is to be denied, the burden of proof is upon the corporation to show that the purpose of the shareholder is improper, by way of defense. Accordingly, Cecilia Yulo as the right to be fully informed of TERELAY’s corporate condition and the manner its affairs are being managed. It is well-settled that the ownership of shares of stock gives stockholders the right under the law to be protected from possible mismanagement by its officers. This right is predicated upon selfpreservation. In any case, TERELAY did not adduce sufficient proof that Cecilia Yulo was in bad faith or had an ulterior motive in demanding her right under the law.
SC PP: The Corporation Code has granted to all stockholders the right to inspect the corporate books and records, and in so doing has not required any specific amount of interest for the exercise of the right to inspect. 13 Ubi Lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. When the law has made no distinction, we ought not to recognize any distinction.
Corporation Code provides as follows: Section 74. Books to be kept; stock transfer agent. - Every corporation shall keep and carefully preserve at its principal office a record of all business transactions and minutes of all meetings of stockholders or members, or of the board of directors or trustees, in which shall be set forth in detail the time and place of holding the meeting, how authorized, the notice given, whether the meeting was regular or special, if special its object, those present and absent, and every act done or ordered done at the meeting. Upon the demand of any director, trustee, stockholder or member, the time when any director, trustee, stockholder or member entered or left the meeting must be noted in the minutes; and on a similar demand, the yeas and nays must be taken on any motion or proposition, and a record thereof carefully made. The protest of any director, trustee, stockholder or member on any action or proposed action must be recorded in full on his demand. The records of all business transactions of the corporation and the minutes of any meetings shall be open to inspection by any director, trustee, stockholder or member of the corporation at reasonable hours on business days and he may demand, writing, for a copy of excerpts from said records or minutes, at his expense.
Any officer or agent of the corporation who shall refuse to allow any director, trustees, stockholder or member of the corporation to examine and copy excerpts from its records or minutes, in accordance with the provisions of this Code, shall be liable to such director, trustee, stockholder or member for damages, and in addition, shall be guilty of an offense which shall be punishable under Section 144 of this Code: Provided, That if such refusal is made pursuant to a resolution or order of the board of directors or trustees, the liability under this section for such action shall be imposed upon the directors or trustees who voted for such refusal: and Provided, further, That it shall be a defense to any action under this section that the person demanding to examine and copy excerpts from the corporation's records and minutes has improperly used any information secured through any prior examination of the records or minutes of such corporation or of any other corporation, or was not acting in good faith or for a legitimate purpose in making his demand. Stock corporations must also keep a book to be known as the “stock and transfer book”, in which must be kept a record of all stocks in the names of the stockholders alphabetically arranged; the installments paid and unpaid on all stock for which subscription has been made, and the date of payment of any installment; a statement of every alienation, sale or transfer of stock made, the date thereof, and by and to whom made; and such other entries as the by-laws may prescribe. The stock and transfer book shall be kept in the principal office of the corporation or in the office of its stock transfer agent and shall be open for inspection by any director or stockholder of the corporation at reasonable hours on business days. No stock transfer agent or one engaged principally in the business of registering transfers of stocks in behalf of a stock corporation shall be allowed to operate in the Philippines unless he secures a license from the Securities and Exchange Commission and pays a fee as may be fixed by the Commission, which shall be renewable annually: Provided, That a stock corporation is not precluded from performing or making transfer of its own stocks, in which case all the rules and regulations imposed on stock transfer agents, except the payment of a license fee herein provided, shall be applicable. (51a and 32a; B. P. No. 268.) Section 75. Right to financial statements. - Within ten (10) days from receipt of a written request of any stockholder or member, the corporation shall furnish to him its most recent financial statement, which shall include a balance sheet as of the end of the last taxable year and a profit or loss statement for said taxable year, showing in reasonable detail its assets and liabilities and the result of its operations. At the regular meeting of stockholders or members, the board of directors or trustees shall present to such stockholders or members a financial report of the operations of the corporation for the preceding year, which shall include financial statements, duly signed and certified by an independent certified public accountant. However, if the paid-up capital of the corporation is less than P50,000.00, the financial statements may be certified under oath by the treasurer or any responsible officer of the corporation.
HECTOR L. UY, PETITIONER, VS.VIRGINIA G. FULE ET. AL., G.R. NO. 164961, JUNE 30, 2014, FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: CIVIL LAW / PROPERTY / PURCHASER IN GOOD FAITH F: The case involves a vast tract of land registered under the name of Conrado Garcia. Upon his death, his heirs entered into an extra judicial settlement and caused the registration of the two lots embodied in the title. Meanwhile, DAR included the same property in its Operation Land Transfer pursuant to PD 27. As a result, DAR and the register of Deeds of Cam Sur issued emancipation patents and OCTs to the farmersbeneficiaries. One of the beneficiary, Mariano Ronda sold his property to C.Uy while the former’s heirs sold their land to Hector Uy. Subsequent titles were then issued. The heirs of Garcia filed a complaint for cancellation of title and quieting of title which was granted by the trial court. On appeal, CA affirmed the decision. Hence, this petition. In his petition, Uy argued that he is a purchaser in good faith. Allegedly, he paid the price in full and the documents shown to hi, did not indicate any defect in the title. I: Whether petitioner is a purchaser in good faith, whose rights may be protected under the law. H: No. To prove good faith, a buyer of registered and titled land need only show that he relied on the face of the title to the property. He need not prove that he made further inquiry for he is not obliged to explore beyond the four corners of the title. Such degree of proof of good faith, however, is sufficient only when the following conditions concur: first, the seller is the registered owner of the land; second, the latter is in possession thereof; and third, at the time of the sale, the buyer was not aware of any claim or interest of some other person in the property, or of any defect or restriction in the title of the seller or in his capacity to convey title to the property. Absent one or two of the foregoing conditions, then the law itself puts the buyer on notice and obliges the latter to exercise a higher degree of diligence by scrutinizing the certificate of title and examining all factual circumstances in order to determine the seller’s title and capacity to transfer any interest in the property. Under such circumstance, it was no longer sufficient for said buyer to merely show that he had relied on the face of the title; he must now also show that he had exercised reasonable precaution by inquiring beyond the title. Failure to exercise such degree of precaution makes him a buyer in bad faith. …It is notable that the OCTs categorically stated that they were entered pursuant to an emancipation patent of the Ministry of Agrarian Reform pursuant to the Operation Land Transfer (OLT) Program of the government. Furthermore, said OCTs plainly recited the following prohibition: "…it shall not be transferred except by hereditary succession or to the Government in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 27, Code of Agrarian Reforms of the Philippines and other existing laws and regulations…." The foregoing circumstances negated the third element of good…the absence of the third condition put the petitioner on notice and obliged him to exercise a higher degree of diligence by scrutinizing the certificates of title and examining all factual circumstances in order to determine the seller’s title and capacity to transfer any interest in the lots. Consequently, it is not sufficient for him to insist that he relied on the face of the certificates of title, for he must further show that he exercised reasonable precaution by inquiring beyond the certificates of title. Failure to exercise such degree of precaution rendered him a buyer in bad faith. "It is a well-settled rule that a purchaser cannot close his eyes to facts which should put a reasonable man upon his guard, and then claim that he acted in good faith under the belief that there was no defect in the title of the vendor.
NOEL A. LASANAS, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent G.R. No. 159031, June 23, 2014, FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: CRIMINAL LAW / A DECREE OF NULLITY MUST FIRST BE SECURED TO BE ABLE TO CONTRACT SECOND MARRIAGE F: Lasanas was married to Socorro Patingo in a civil wedding on 1968. Their marriage vows was reaffrirmed in a religious ceremony on 1980. In both occasions, no marriage license or affidavit of cohabitation was filed. Due to irreconcilable differences, they separated de facto and lasagnas contracted a second marriage on 1993. Thereafter, on 1996, Lasanas filed a complaint for annulment. Socorro on the other hand, instituted a case for bigamy against petitioner. The RTC found Lasanas guilty of bigamy. On appeal, CA concedes to that the marriage was void, however affirmed the conviction. Petitioner argued that the marriage being void, the elements of bigamy are not present. I: Whether petitioner is correct in holding that his he did not commit bigamy due to his void marriage with Socorro H: No. This Court concedes that the marriage between accused-appellant Lasanas and private complainant Patingo was void because of the absence of a marriage license or of an affidavit of cohabitation. The ratificatory religious wedding ceremony could not have validated the void marriage. Neither can the church wedding be treated as a marriage in itself for to do so, all the essential and formal requisites of a valid marriage should be present. One of these requisites is a valid marriage license except in those instances when this requirement may be excused. There having been no marriage license nor affidavit of cohabitation presented to the priest who presided over the religious rites, the religious wedding cannot be treated as a valid marriage in itself. But then, as the law and jurisprudence say, petitioner should have first secured a judicial declaration of the nullity of his void marriage to private complainant Patingo before marrying JosefaEslaban. Actually, he did just that but after his marriage to JosefaEslaban. Consequently, he violated the law on bigamy. The first and second elements of bigamy were present in view of the absence of a judicial declaration of nullity of marriage between the accused and Socorro. The requirement of securing a judicial declaration of nullity of marriage prior to contracting a subsequent marriage is found in Article 40 of the Family Code, to wit: Article 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void. (n)
AZNAR BROTHERS REALTY COMPANY, Petitioner, v. SPOUSES JOSE AND MAGDALENA YBAÑEZ, Respondents. G.R. No. 161380, April 21, 2014, FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: CIVIL LAW/PROPERTY F: Casimiro Ybañez with the marital consent of Maria Daclan, executed a Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of Aznar Brothers conveying an unregistered agricultural land planted with coconut trees situated in Banika-Bulacao, Pardo, Cebu City covered by tax declaration no. IV-00128. When Casimiro died intestate, his heirs divided among themselves . Lot No. 18563 and later on sold to Jose Ybanez. Jose filed an application for free patent and an OCT was issued in his favor. Later on, Aznar brothers filed a complaint against Jose R. Ybañez claiming absolute ownership of Lot No. 18563 by virtue of the Deed of Absolute Sale Casimiro alleging that the free patent issued in favor of Jose R. Ybañez covered the same property “already adjudicated as private
property,”. The court ruled that the lot os legally owned by defendant Jose. Hence, Aznar Brothers filed the instant petition holding that respondents are not the legal owner of the property and that he is a buyer in bad faith. I: Who among the parties have better right over the land H: The Aznar Brothers. There is no question that the Spouses Ybañez were aware of the conveyance of Lot No. 18563 by Casimiro to Aznar Brothers considering that the Deed of Absolute Sale was registered in the book of registry of unregistered land on the same day pursuant to their agreement. Such registration constituted a constructive notice of the conveyance on the part of the Spouses Ybañez. Likewise, Aznar brothers is not guilty of estoppel by laches. For laches to bar a claim, four elements must be shown, namely: (1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or one under whom he claims, giving rise to a situation of which a complaint is made and for which the complainant seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the complainant’s right, the complainant having had knowledge or notice of defendant’s conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to institute a suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right on which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event that the relief is accorded to the complainant, or the suit is not held to be barred. Aznar Brothers immediately registered the purchase in accordance with Act No. 3344, the law then governing the registration of unregistered land.Its action in that regard ensured the protection of the law as to its ownership of the land, and evinced that it did not abandon its ownership.xxxSecondly, the supposed acts of possession of Lot No. 18563 exercised by the Spouses Ybañez from the time of their purchase from Adriano, including causing it to be surveyed for purposes of the application for free patent, did not prejudice Aznar Brothers’ interest because the registration under Act No. 3344 had given constructive notice to the Spouses Ybañez of its prior acquisition of the land.
FORTUNE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., Petitioner, vs.COMMISSION ON AUDIT (COA) PROPER; COA REGIONAL OFFICE NO. VI-WESTERN VISAYAS; AUDIT GROUP LGS-B, PROVINCE OF ANTIQUE; AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ANTIQUE, Respondents./G.R. No. 213525 January 27, 2015/EN BANC MAIN TOPIC: CIVIL PROCEDURE/PROOF OF SERVICE, FRESH PERIOD RULE UNDER NEYPES, PETITION FOR CETIORARI F: Provincial Government of Antique (LGU) and the petitioner executed a memorandum of agreement concerning the life insurance coverage of qualified barangay secretaries, treasurers and tanod, the former obligating P4.4 million for the premium payment, and subsequently submitting the corresponding disbursement voucher to COA Antique for pre-audit. COA disallowed the payment for lack of legal basis. Respondent LGU appealed but its appeal was denied. Consequently, the petitioner filed its petition for money claim in the COA but the COA denied the same. Hence, the petitioner filed the petition for certiorari but it was dismissed for (a) the late filing of the petition; (b) the non-submission of the proof of service and verified declaration; and (c) the failure to show grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondents. In view thereof, the petitioner filed its motion for reconsideration. I1: Whether or not the cut print-outs of the registry receipt numbers of the registered matters comply with Section 13, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court H1: No, Section 13 14requires that if the service is done by registered mail, proof of service shall consist of the affidavit of the person effecting the mailing and the registry 14
Section 13. Proof of Service. – x x x. If service is made by registered mail, proof shall be made by such affidavit and the registry receipt issued by the mailing office. The registry return card shall be filed immediately upon its
receipt, both of which must be appended to the paper being served. A compliance withthe rule is mandatory, such thatthere is no proof of service if either or both are not submitted. The petition only bore the cut print-outs of what appeared to be the registry receipt numbers of the registered matters, not the registry receipts themselves. The rule requires to be appended the registry receipts, not their reproductions. Hence, the cut print-outs did not substantially comply with the rule. I2: Does fresh period rule under Neypes apply to the petition for certiorariunder Rule 64 of the Rules of Court H2: No, The petitioner filed its motion for reconsideration on January 14, 2013, which was 31 days after receiving the assailed decision of the COA on December 14, 2012. Pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 64, it had only five days from receipt of the denial of its motion for reconsideration to file the petition. Considering that it received the notice of the denial on July 14, 2014, it had only until July19, 2014 to file the petition. However, it filed the petition on August 13, 2014, which was 25 days too late. In Pates v. Commission on Elections, the belated filing of the petition for certiorari under Rule 64 on the belief that the fresh period rules should apply was fatal to the recourse. As such, the petitioner herein should suffer the same fate for having wrongly assumed that the fresh period rule under Neypes applied. Rules of procedure may be relaxed only to relieve a litigant of an injustice that is not commensurate with the degree of his thoughtlessness in not complying with the prescribed procedure. Absent this reason for liberality, the petition cannot be allowed to prosper. I3: Does the COA committed grave abuse of discretion (i.e., COA took almost a year before promulgating its decision and more than a year in resolving the motion for reconsideration, COA Commissioners made it appear that they knew the Local Government Code better than former Senator Aquilino Pimentel who offered an opinion on the matter, etc.)? H3: No, To start with, the supposed delays taken by the COA in deciding the appeal were neither arbitrary nor whimsical on its part. Secondly, the mere terseness of the denial of the motion for reconsideration was not a factor in demonstrating an abuse of discretion. And, lastly, the fact that Senator Pimentel, even if he had been the main proponent of the Local Government Codein the Legislature, expressed an opinion on the issues different from the COA Commissioners’ own did not matter, for it was the latter’s adjudication that had any value and decisiveness on the issues by virtue of their being the Constitutionally officials entrusted with the authority for that purpose. the COA denied the money claim of the petitioner for the further reason of lack of sufficient publication as required by the Government Procurement Act. In that light, the COA acted well within its authority in denying the petitioner’s claim.
MANUEL JUSAYAN, ALFREDO JUSAYAN, AND MICHAEL JUSAYAN Petitioners, vs. JORGE SOMBILLA, Respondent./ G.R. No. 163928 /January 21, 2015/FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: SPECIAL LAW/SECTION 7 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 3844/CIVIL LAW LEASE OR AN AGRICULTURAL LEASE F: Wilson owned four parcels of land situated in Iloilo. He entered into an agreement with Jorge wherein he designated Jorge as his agent to supervise the tilling and farming of his riceland in crop year 1970-1971. Before the expiration of the agreement, Wilson sold the four parcels of land to Timoteo. Jorge and Timoteo verbally agreed that Jorge would retain possession of the parcels of land and would deliver 110 cavans of palay annually to Timoteo without need for accounting of the cultivation expenses provided that Jorge would pay the irrigation fees. From 1971 to 1983, Timoteo and Jorge followed the arrangement. In 1975, the parcels of land were transferred in the receipt by the sender, or in lieu thereof the unclaimed letter together with the certified or sworn copy of the notice given by the postmaster to the addressee.
names of Timoteo’s sons. In 1984, Timoteo sent several letters to Jorge terminating his administration and demanding the return of the possession of the parcels of land. Due to the failure of Jorge to render accounting and to return the possession of the parcels of land despite demands, Timoteo filed a complaint for recovery of possession and accounting against Jorge in the RTC. Timoteo died hence , the petitioners substituted him as the plaintiffs. The RTC ruled in favor of petitioners. On appeal, the CA ruled in favor of Jorge hence this petition. I1: Whether or not the relationship between the petitioners and respondent is that of agency or agricultural leasehold I2: Whether or not RTC, Branch 30, Iloilo City as Regional Trial Court and Court of Agrarian Relations, had jurisdiction over the herein case H1: Agricultural leasehold. The verbal agreement between Timoteo and Jorge left all matters of agricultural production to the sole discretion of Jorge and practically divested Timoteo of the right to exercise his authority over the acts to be performed by Jorge. Jorge was acting for himself instead of for Timoteo hence there is no “representation” to speak of. The receipts substantially proved that the contractual relationship between Jorge and Timoteo was a lease. H2: Yes, the jurisdiction of a court is determined by the statute in force at the time of the commencement of an action. In 1980, upon the passage of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 (Judiciary Reorganization Act), the Courts of Agrarian Relations were integrated into the Regional Trial Courts and the jurisdiction of the Courts of Agrarian Relations was vested in the Regional Trial Courts. It was only on August 29, 1987, when Executive Order No. 229 took effect, that the general jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts to try agrarian reform matters was transferred to the DAR. Therefore, the RTC still had jurisdiction over the dispute at the time the complaint was filed in the RTC on June 30, 1986. SC PP: Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3844 provides that once there is an agricultural tenancy, the agricultural tenant’s right to security of tenure is recognized and protected. The landowner cannot eject the agricultural tenant from the land unless authorized by the proper court for causes provided by law.
SAINT MARY CRUSADE TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY OF BRETHREN FOUNDATION, INC., Petitioner, vs.HON. TEODORO T. RIEL, ACTING PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, NATIONAL CAPITAL JUDICIAL REGION, BRANCH 85, QUEZON CITY, Respondent./ G.R. No. 176508 / January 12, 2015/FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: CIVIL PROCEDURE/PETITION FOR CERTIORARI/DOCTRINE OF HIERARCHY OF COURTS F: In 2004, the petitioner claimed in its petition for reconstitution that the original copy of OCT No. 1609 had been burnt and lost in the fire that gutted the Quezon City Register of Deeds in the late 80’s. The RTC dismissed the petition. Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the dismissal but the RTC denied the motion for reconsideration for lack of any cogent or justifiable ground to reconsider. Hence this instant petition. I1: Which court has jurisdiction over the case? H1: Under Section 12 of Republic Act No. 26, the law on the judicial reconstitution of a Torrens title, the Regional Trial Court (as the successor of the Court of First Instance) had the original and exclusive jurisdiction to act on the petition for judicial reconstitution of title. Hence, the RTC neither lacked nor exceeded its authority in acting on and dismissing the petition. I2: Whether or not the respondent Judge gravely abuse his discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
H2: No, the petition for reconstitution involved land already registered in the name of the UP, as confirmed by the LRA. The UP’s registered ownership of the land comprising its campus has long been settled under the law. Accordingly, the dismissal of the petition for judicial reconstitution by respondent Judge only safeguarded the UP’s registered ownership. Also, the petitioner did not present the duplicate or certified copy of OCT No. 1609 required under Section 2 and Section 3 of Republic Act No. 26(the provisions that expressly listed the acceptable bases for judicial reconstitution of an existing Torrens title). I3: What is the proper remedy? H3: Appeal. With the questioned orders of the RTC having finally disposed of the application for judicial reconstitution, nothing more was left for the RTC to do in the case. As of then, therefore, the correct recourse for the petitioner was to appeal to the Court of Appeals by notice of appeal within 15 days from notice of the denial of its motion for reconsideration. By allowing the period of appeal toelapse without taking action, it squandered its right to appeal. Its present resort to certiorari is impermissible, for an extraordinary remedy like certiorari cannot be a substitute for a lost appeal.
RUBEN MANALANG, CARLOS MANALANG, CONCEPCION GONZALES AND LUIS MANALANG, Petitioners, vs.BIENVENIDO AND MERCEDES BACANI, Respondents./G.R. No. 156995 / January 12, 2015/FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION/RULE 70/JURISDICTION F: Manalang were the co-owners of a certain parcel of Lot described as Lot No 4236 with an area of 914 square meters of the Guagua Cadastre, and declared for taxation purposes in the name of Tomasa B. Garcia.Adjacent to Lot 4236 was the respondents’ Lot No. 4235 covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. N-216701. In 1997, the petitioners caused the relocation and verification survey of Lot 4236 and the adjoining lots, and the result showed that the respondents had encroached on Lot No. 4236 to the extent of 405 square meters. When the respondents refused to vacate the encroached portion and to surrender peaceful possession thereof despite demands, the petitioners commenced this action for unlawful detainer on April 21, 1997 in the MTC of Guagua. The MTC dismissed the said action for lack of jurisdiction (held that the action involved an essentially boundary dispute that should be properly resolved in an accion reivindicatoria). On appeal, however, the RTC reversed the MTC, and remanded the case for further proceedings, (held that because there was an apparent withholding of possession of the property and the action was brought within one year from such withholding of possession the proper action was ejectment which was within the jurisdiction of the MTC; and that the case was not a boundary dispute that could be resolved in an accion reinvidicatoria, considering that it involved a sizeable area of property and not a mere transferring of boundary).Upon remand, the MTC, Branch 1, ultimately dismissed the complaint and counterclaim for lack of merit(ruled that the petitioners failed to adduce clear and convincing evidence showing that the respondents had encroached on their property and had been occupying and possessing property outside the metes and bounds described in Bacani’s OCT). On appeal to the RTC, the RTC ordered the petitioners to conduct a relocation survey to determine their allegation of encroachment. The court reversed and set aside the MTC’s decision of August 31, 2000, observing that the respondents had encroached on the petitioners’ property based on the court-ordered relocation survey, the reports by Engr. Limpin, and his testimony, and that the respondents could not rely on their OCT No. N-216701, considering that although their title covered only 481 square meters, the relocation survey revealed that they had occupied also 560 square meters of the petitioners’ Lot No. 4236. On appeal to the CA, the court reinstated the decision of the MTC. The CA concluded that the RTC, by ordering the relocation and verification survey “in aid of its appellate jurisdiction” upon motion of the petitioners and over the objection of the respondents, and making a determination of whether there was an encroachment based on such survey and testimony of the surveyor, had
acted as a trial court in complete disregard of the second paragraph of Section 18, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court. It declared such action by the RTC as unwarranted because it amounted to the reopening of the trial, which was not allowed under Section 13(3) Rule 70 of theRules of Court. It observed that the relocation and verification survey was inconclusive inasmuch as the surveyor had himself admitted that he could not determine which of the three survey plans he had used was correct without a full-blown trial. The CA held that considering that the petitioners’ complaint for unlawful detainer did not set forth when and how the respondents had entered the land in question and constructed their houses thereon, jurisdiction did not vest in the MTC to try and decide the case; that the complaint, if at all, made out a case for either accion reivindicatoria or accion publiciana, either of which fell within the original jurisdiction of the RTC. I1: Whether the RTC, in an appeal of the judgment in an ejectment case, can receive additional evidence which in effect amounted to the reopening of the trial H1: No, under Section 18, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, the RTC, in an appeal of the judgment in an ejectment case, shall not conduct a rehearing or trial de novo. The said rule clearly provides that: Sec. 18. Judgment conclusive only on possession; not conclusive in actions involving title or ownership. — x x x. x x x The judgment or final order shall be appealable to the appropriate Regional Trial Court which shall decide the same on the basis of the entire record of the proceedings had in the court of origin and such memoranda and/or briefs as may be submitted by the parties or required by the Regional Trial Court.(7a)Hence, the RTC violated the foregoing rule by ordering the conduct of the relocation and verification survey “in aid of its appellate jurisdiction” and by hearing the testimony of the surveyor, for its doing so was tantamount to its holding of a trial de novo. The violation was accented by the fact that the RTC ultimately decided the appeal based on the survey and the surveyor’s testimony instead of the record of the proceedings had in the court of origin. I2: Whether the present case was an ejectment case within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the MTC H2: No, based on the allegations of the complaint, the present case should be dismissed without prejudice to the filing of a non-summary action like accion reivindicatoria. A boundary dispute must be resolved in the context of accion reivindicatoria, not an ejectment case. The boundary dispute is not about possession, but encroachment, that is, whether the property claimed by the defendant formed part of the plaintiff’s property. A boundary dispute cannot be settled summarily under Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, the proceedings under which are limited to unlawful detainer and forcible entry. To be clear, unlawful detainer is an action filed by a lessor, vendor, vendee, or other person against whom the possession of any land or building is unlawfully withheld after the expiration or termination of the right to hold possession by virtue of any contract, express or implied. To vest in the MTC the jurisdiction to effect the ejectment from the land of the respondents as the occupants in unlawful detainer, therefore, the complaint should embody such a statement of facts clearly showing the attributes of unlawful detainer. However, the allegations of the petitioners’ complaint did not show that they had permitted or tolerated the occupation of the portion of their property by the respondents; or how the respondents’ entry had been effected, or how and when the dispossession by the respondents had started. All that the petitioners alleged was the respondents’ “illegal use and occupation” of the property. As such, the action was not unlawful detainer.
ROLANDO ROBLES, REPRESENTED BY ATTY. CLARA C. ESPIRITU, Petitioner, vs.FERNANDO FIDEL YAPCINCO, PATROCINIO B. YAPCINCO, MARIA CORAZON B. YAPCINCO, and MARIA ASUNCION B. YAPCINCO-FRONDA, Respondents./G.R. No. 169568 / October 22, 2014/FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION/NON-REGISTRATION OF PROPERTY AFTER FORECLOSURE PROCEEDINGS F: Yapcinco constituted a mortgage on the property in favor of Marcelo to secure the performance of his obligation. Marcelo transferred his rights to Apolinario Cruz. When Yapcinco did not pay the obligation, Apolinario Cruz brought an action for judicial foreclosure of the mortgage in the CFI w/c ordered Kelly (the administratrix of the estate of Yapcinco who died during the pendency of the action) to pay Apolinario Cruz the indebtedness secured by the mortgage plus interest and in case of the failure to pay after 90 days from the date of the decision, the property would be sold at a public auction. Apolinario Cruz was adjudged the highest bidder in the public auction. In his favor was then issued the certificate of absolute sale, and he took possession of the property in due course. However, he did not register the certificate of sale; nor was a judicial confirmation of sale issued. ApolinarioCruz donated the property to his grandchildren. Yapcinco filed an action in the RTC for the annulment of TCT. RTC ruled in favor of Yapcinco/later on (a case was again filed and) RTC ruled in favor of Apolinario Cruz. On Appeal, the CA ruled in favor of Yapcinco hence this instante petition. [The dispute involves the ownership of a judicially-foreclosed parcel of land sold at a public auction, but which sale was not judicially confirmed. On one side is the petitioner, the successor in interest of the purchaser in the public auction, and, on the other, the heirs of the mortgagor, who never manifested interest in redeeming the property from the time of the foreclosure.] I1: Is non-registration of property after being judicially foreclosed had the effect of invalidating the foreclosure proceedings, such that ownership reverts to the original owner? H1: No 15, the effect of the failure of Apolinario Cruz to obtain the judicial confirmation was only to prevent the title to the property from being transferred to him. For sure, such failure did not give rise to any right in favor of the mortgagor or the respondents as his successors-in-interest to take back the property already validly sold through public auction. Nor did such failure invalidate the foreclosure proceedings. The nontransfer of the title notwithstanding, Apolinario Cruz as the purchaser should not be deprived of the property purchased at the foreclosure sale. With the respondents having been fully aware of the mortgage, and being legally bound by the judicial foreclosure and consequent public sale, and in view of the unquestioned possession by Apolinario Cruz and his successors-in-interest (including the petitioner) from the time of the foreclosure sale until the present, the respondents could not assert any better right to the property. It would be the height of inequity to still permit them to regain the property on the basis alone of the lack of judicial confirmation of the sale. After all, under the applicable rule earlier cited, the judicial confirmation operated only "to divest the rights of all the parties to the action and to vest their rights in the purchaser, subject to such rights of redemption as may be allowed by law." Consequently, the late Fernando F. Yapcinco and the respondents as his successorsin-interest were divested of their right in the property, for they did not duly exercise the equity of redemption decreed in the decision of the trial court.
The registration of the sale is required only in extrajudicial foreclosure sale because the date of the registration is the reckoning point for the exercise of the right of redemption. In contrast, the registration of the sale is superfluous in judicial foreclosure because only the equity of redemption is granted to the mortgagor, except in mortgages with banking institutions. The equity of redemption is the right of the defendant mortgagor to extinguish the mortgage and retain ownership of the property by paying the secured debt within the 90-day period after the judgment becomes final, or even after the foreclosure sale but prior to the confirmation of the sale
THE HONGKONG & SHANGHAI BANKING CORPORATION EMPLOYEES UNION, MA. DALISAY P. DELA CHICA, MARVILON B. MILITANTE, DAVID Z. ATANACIO, JR., CARMINA C. RIVERA, MARIO T. FERMIN(T), ISABELO E. MOLO, RUSSEL M. PALMA, IMELDA G. HERNANDEZ, VICENTE M. LLACUNA, JOSEFINA A. ORTIGUERRO, MA. ASUNCION G. KIMSENG, MIGUEL R. SISON, RAUL P. GERONIMO, MARILOU E. CADENA, ANA N. TAMONTE, AVELINO Q. RELUCIO, JORALYN R. GONGORA, CORAZON E. ALBOS, ANABELLA J. GONZALES, MA. CORAZON Q. BALTAZAR, MARIA LUZ I. JIMENEZ, ELVIRA A. ORLINA, SAMUEL B. ELLARMA, ROSARIO A. FLORES, EDITHA L. BROQUEZA, REBECCA T. FAJARDO, MA. VICTORIA C. LUNA, MA. THERESA G. GALANG, BENIGNO V. AMION, GERARDO J. DE LEON, ROWENA T. OCAMPO, MALOU P. DIZON, RUBEN DE C. ATIENZA, MELO E. GABA, HERNAN B. CAMPOSANTO, NELIA D. M. DERIADA, LOLITO L. HILIS, GRACE C. MABUNAY, FE ESPERANZA C. GERONG, MANUEL E. HERRERA, JOSELITO J. GONZAGA, ULDARTCO D. PEDIDA, ROSALINA JULIET B. LOQUELLANO, MARCIAL F. GONZAGA, MERCEDES R. PAULE, JOSE TEODORO A. MOTUS, BLANCHE D. MOTUS, DAISY M. FAGUTAO, ANTONIO A. DEL ROSARIO, EMMANUEL JUSTIN S. GREY, FRANCISCA DEL MUNDO, JULIETA A. CRUZ, RODRIGO J. DURANO, CATALINA R. YEE, MENANDRO CALIGAGAN, MAIDA M. SACRO MILITANTE, LEONILA M. PEREZ, AND EMMA MATEO, Petitioners, v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION AND THE HONGKONG & SHANGHAI BANKING CORPORATION, LTD., Respondents. G.R. No. 156635, January 11, 2016 FIRST DIVISION LABOR LAW/LABOR RELATION/STRIKES F: Petitioner Hongkong& Shanghai Banking Corporation Employees Union (Union) was the duly recognized collective bargaining agent of the rank-and-file employees of respondent Hongkong& Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC). On January 18, 1993, HSBC announced its implementation of a job evaluation program (JEP) retroactive to January 1, 1993. The JEP consisted of a job designation per grade level with the accompanying salary scale providing for the minimum and maximum pay the employee could receive per salary level. The JEP was opposed by the Union. On December 22, 1993, the Union's officers and members walked out and gathered outside the premises of HSBC's offices. In the meantime, HSBC issued return-to-work notices to the striking employees on December 22, 1993. Only 25 employees complied and returned to work. Due to the continuing concerted actions, HSBC terminated the individual petitioners on December 27, 1993. The latter, undeterred, and angered by their separation from work, continued their concerted activities. I1: Whether the strike commenced on December 22, 1993 was lawfully conducted. H1: The right to strike is a constitutional and legal right of all workers because the strike, which seeks to advance their right to improve the terms and conditions of their employment, is recognized as an effective weapon of labor in their struggle for a decent existence. However, the right to strike as a means for the attainment of social justice is never meant to oppress or destroy the employers. Thus, the law prescribes limits on the exercise of the right to strike. Article 263 16 of the Labor Code specifies the limitations on the exercise of the right to strike, viz.:
Article 263. Strikes, picketing, and lockouts, x xx
xxxx (c) In cases of bargaining deadlocks, the duly certified or recognized bargaining agent may file a notice of strike or the employers may file a notice of lockout with the [Department] at least 30 days before the intended date thereof. In cases of unfair labor practices, the period of notice shall be 15 days and in the absence of a duly certified or recognized bargaining agent, the notice of strike may be filed by any legitimate labor organization in behalf of its members. However, in case of dismissal from employment of union officers duly elected in accordance with the union constitution
The procedural requirements for a valid strike are, therefore, the following, to wit: (1) a notice of strike filed with the DOLE at least 30 days before the intended date thereof, or 15 days in case of ULP; (2) a strike vote approved by the majority of the total union membership in the bargaining unit concerned, obtained by secret ballot in a meeting called for that purpose; and (3) a notice of the results of the voting at least seven days before the intended strike given to the DOLE. These requirements are mandatory, such that non-compliance therewith by the union will render the strike illegal. We underscore that the language of the law (Art. 264 17) itself unmistakably bears out the mandatory character of the limitations it has prescribed. I2: Whether or not petitioners’ acts in the illegal strike were justified. H2: No. The petitioners could not justify their illegal strike by invoking the constitutional right of labor to concerted actions. Although the Constitution recognized and promoted their right to strike, they should still exercise the right within the bounds of law. Those bounds had been well-defined and well-known. Specifically, Article 264(e) of the Labor Code expressly enjoined the striking workers engaged in picketing from committing any act of violence, coercion or intimidation, or from obstructing the free ingress into or egress from the employer's premises for lawful purposes, or from obstructing public thoroughfares. The employment of prohibited means in carrying out concerted actions injurious to the right to property of others could only render their strike illegal. Moreover, their strike was rendered unlawful because their picketing which constituted an obstruction to the free use of the employer's property or the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, when accompanied by intimidation, threats, violence, and coercion as to constitute nuisance, should be regulated. In fine, the strike, even if justified as to its ends, could become illegal because of the means employed, especially when the means came within the prohibitions under Article 264(e) of the Labor Code. I3: Whether or not good faith can be availedby petitioners by maintaining that their strike was conducted out of their sincere belief that HSBC had committed ULP in implementing the JEP. H3: No. The petitioners' disregard of the procedural requirements for conducting a valid strike negated their claim of good faith. For their claim to be upheld, it was not enough for them to believe that their employer was guilty of ULP, for they must also sufficiently show that the strike was undertaken with a modicum of obeisance to the restrictions on their exercise of the right to strike prior to and during its execution as prescribed by the law. They did not establish their compliance with the requirements specifically for the holding of the strike vote and the giving of the strike notice.
and by-laws, which may constitute union busting, where the existence of the union is threatened, the 15-day cooling off period shall not apply and the union may take action immediately. (d) The notice must be in accordance with such implementing rules and regulations as the [Secretary] of Labor and Employment may promulgate. (e) During the cooling-off period, it shall be the duty of the [Department] to exert all efforts at mediation and conciliation to effect a voluntary settlement. Should the dispute remain unsettled until the lapse of the requisite number of clays from the mandatory filing of the notice, the labor union may strike or the employer may declare a lockout. (f) A decision to declare a strike must be approved by a majority of the total union membership in the bargaining unit concerned, obtained by secret ballot in meetings or referenda called for that purpose. A decision to declare a lockout must be approved by a majority of the board of directors of the corporation or association or of the partners in a partnership, obtained by secret ballot in a meeting called for that purpose. The decision shall be valid for the duration of the dispute based on substantially the same grounds considered when the strike or lockout vote was taken. The [Department] may, at its own initiative or upon request of any affected party, supervise the conduct of the secret balloting. In every case, the union or the employer shall furnish the [Department] the results of the voting at least seven days before the intended strike or lockout, subject to the cooling-off period herein provided. 17
Art. 264. Prohibited activities. - (a) No labor organization or employer shall declare a strike or lockout without first having bargained collectively in accordance with Title VII of this Book or without first having filed the notice required in the preceding Article or without the necessary strike or lockout vote first having been obtained and reported to the [Department], (emphasis supplied)
I4: Whether or not HSBC lawfully dismissed the petitioners for joining the illegal strike. H4: No. A strike staged without compliance with the requirements of Article 263 18 of the Labor Code is illegal, and may cause the termination of the employment of the participating union officers and members. However, the liability for the illegal strike is individual, not collective. To warrant the termination of an officer of the labor organization on that basis, the employer must show that the officer knowingly participated in the illegal strike. An ordinary striking employee cannot be terminated based solely on his participation in the illegal strike, for the employer must further show that the employee committed illegal acts during the strike. As a general rule, the mere finding of the illegality of the strike does not justify the wholesale termination of the strikers from their employment. To avoid rendering the recognition of the workers' right to strike illusory, the responsibility for the illegal strike is individual instead of collective. The last paragraph of Article 264(a) of the Labor Code defines the norm for terminating the workers participating in an illegal strike, viz.: Article 264. Prohibited Activities xxx Any worker whose employment has been terminated as a consequence of any unlawful lockout shall be entitled to reinstatement with full backwages. Any union officer who knowingly participates in an illegal strike and any worker or union officer who knowingly participates in the commission of illegal acts during a strike may be declared to have lost his employment status: Provided, That mere participation of a worker in a lawful strike shall not constitute sufficient ground for termination of his employment, even if a replacement had been hired by the employer during such lawful strike, (emphasis supplied)
Conformably with Article 264, we need to distinguish between the officers and the members of the union who participate in an illegal strike. The officers may be deemed terminated from their employment upon a finding of their knowing participation in the illegal strike, but the members of the union shall suffer the same fate only if they are shown to have knowingly participated in the commission of illegal acts during the strike. Article 264 expressly requires that the officer must have knowingly participated in the illegal strike. We have explained this essential element in Club Filipino, Inc. v. Bautista, thusly: Note that the verb "participates" is preceded by the adverb "knowingly." This reflects the intent of the legislature to require "knowledge" as a condition sine qua non before a union officer can be dismissed from employment for participating in an illegal strike. The provision is worded in such a way as to make it very difficult for employers to circumvent the law by arbitrarily dismissing employees in the guise of exercising management prerogative. This is but one aspect of the State's constitutional and statutory mandate to protect the rights of employees to self-organization. The responsibility as the officers of the Union who led the illegal strike was greater than the responsibility of the members simply because the former had the duty to guide their members to obey and respect the law. When said officers urged and made their members violate the law, their dismissal became an appropriate penalty for their unlawful act. The law granted to HSBC the option to dismiss the officers as a matter of right and prerogative. Unlike the Union's officers, the ordinary striking members could not be terminated for merely taking part in the illegal strike. Regardless of whether the strike was illegal or not, the dismissal of the members could be upheld only upon proof that they had committed illegal acts during the strike. They must be specifically identified because the liability for the prohibited acts was determined on an individual basis. For that purpose, substantial evidence available under the attendant circumstances justifying the penalty of dismissal sufficed. We declare the illegality of the termination of the employment of the 18 members of the Union for failure of HSBC to prove that they had committed illegal acts during the strike. We hold that said employees' right to exercise their right to concerted activities should not be defeated by the directive of HSBC for them to report back to work. Any worker who joined the strike did so precisely to assert or improve the terms and conditions of his work. Otherwise, the mere expediency of issuing the return to work memorandum could suffice to stifle the constitutional right of labor to concerted actions. Such 18
Now Article 278 pursuant to DOLE Department Advisory No. 01, Series of 2015.
practice would vest in the employer the functions of a strike breaker, which is prohibited under Article 264(c) of the Labor Code. The petitioners' refusal to leave their cause against HSBC constituted neither insubordination nor abandonment. For insubordination to exist, the order must be: (1) reasonable and lawful; (2) sufficiently known to the employee; and (3) in connection to his duties. None of these elements existed in this case. As to abandonment, two requirements need to be established, namely: (1) the failure to report for work or absence must be without valid or justifiable reason; and (2) there must be a clear intention to sever the employer-employee relationship. The second element is the more decisive factor and must be manifested by overt acts. In that regard, the employer carries the burden of proof to show the employee's deliberate and unjustified refusal to resume his employment without any intention of returning. However, the petitioners unquestionably had no intention to sever the employer-employee relationship because they would not have gone to the trouble of joining the strike had their purpose been to abandon their employment. Moreover, we cannot subscribe to the view that the striking employees should be dismissed for having seriously hampered and damaged HSBC's operations. In this aspect of the case, HSBC did not discharge its burden to prove that the acts of the employees constituted any of the just causes under the Labor Code or were prohibited under the company's code of conduct as to warrant their dismissal. I5: Whether or not non-compliance with due process resultedin illegal dismissal. H5: Yes. While Article 264 authorizes the termination of the union officers and employees, it does not remove from the employees their right to due process. Regardless of their actions during the strike, the employees remain entitled to an opportunity to explain their conduct and why they should not be penalized. In Suico v. National Labor Relations Commission, we have reiterated the need for the employers to comply with the twin-notice requirement despite the cause for the termination arising from the commission of the acts prohibited by Article 264, thus: Art. 277(b) in relation to Art. 264(a) and (e) recognizes the right to due process of all workers, without distinction as to the cause of their termination. Where no distinction is given, none is construed. Hence, the foregoing standards of due process apply to the termination of employment of Suico, et al. even if the cause therefor was their supposed involvement in strike-related violence prohibited under Art. 264 (a) and (e). Consequently, failure of the employer to accord due process to its employees prior to their termination results in illegal dismissal. Article 277(b) 19 of the Labor Code mandates compliance with the twin-notice requirement in terminating an employee. In King of Kings Transport, Inc. v. Mamac, we have laid down the contents of the notices to be served upon an employee prior to termination. I6: Whether or not the dismissed 18 employees should not be entitled to backwages. H6: We disagree. Agabon involved the second type of dismissal, not the first type to which the 18 employees belonged. The rule for employees unlawfully terminated without substantive and procedural due process is to entitle them to the reliefs provided under Article 279 of the Labor Code, that is, reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time the compensation was withheld up to the time of actual reinstatement. However, the award of backwages is subject to the settled policy that when employees voluntarily go 19
Article 277.Miscellaneous Provisions. -
x xxx (b) Subject to the constitutional right of workers to security of tenure and their right to be protected against dismissal except for a just and authorized cause and without prejudice to the requirement of notice under Article 283 of this Code, the employer shall furnish the worker whose employment is sought to be terminated a written notice containing a statement of the causes for termination and shall afford the latter ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance of his representative, if he so desires, in accordance with company rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to guidelines set by the Department of Labor and Employment, x xx (Emphasis supplied)
on strike, no backwages during the strike shall be awarded. As regards reinstatement, the lapse of 22 years since the strike now warrants the award of separation pay in lieu of reinstatement, the same to be equivalent of one (1) month for every year of service. In Agabon, we said that a dismissal based either on a just or authorized cause but effected without due process should be upheld. The employer should be nonetheless liable for non-compliance with procedural due process by paying indemnity in the form of nominal damages amounting to P30,000.00. In view of the non-observance of procedural due process by HSBC, the following petitioners should be entitled to nominal damages.
FERNANDO MEDICAL ENTERPRISES, INC., Petitioner, v. WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY PHILIPPINES, INC., Respondent. G.R. No. 207970, January 20, 2016 FIRST DIVISION REMEDIAL LAW / JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS F: From January 9, 2006 until February 2, 2007, the petitioner, a domestic corporation dealing with medical equipment and supplies, delivered to and installed medical equipment and supplies at the respondent's hospital under various contracts. According to the petitioner, the respondent paid only P67,357,683.23 of its total obligation of P123,901,650.00, leaving unpaid the sum of P54,654,195.54. However, on February 11, 2009, the petitioner and the respondent, entered into an agreement, whereby the former agreed to reduce its claim. Respondent eventually declined to recognize the February 11, 2009 agreement. Due to the respondent's failure to pay as demanded, the petitioner filed its complaint for sum of money in the RTC. The respondent moved to dismiss the complaint. After the RTC denied the motion to dismiss, the respondent filed its answer (ad cautelam). There were allegations in the complaint that were admitted, denied and admitted subject to the special and affirmative defenses. The petitioner filed its Motion for Judgment Based on the Pleadings, stating that the respondent had admitted the material allegations of its complaint and thus did not tender any issue as to such allegations. The respondent opposed the Motion for Judgment Based on the Pleadings, arguing that it had specifically denied the material allegations in the complaint. RTC issued the order denying the Motion for Judgment Based on the Pleadings of the petitioner. CA affirmed the RTC. I: Did the CA commit reversible error in affirming the RTC's denial of the petitioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings? H: Yes. The trial court may render a judgment on the pleadings upon motion of the claiming party when the defending party's answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading. For that purpose, only the pleadings of the parties in the action are considered. It is error for the trial court to deny the motion for judgment on the pleadings because the defending party's pleading in another case supposedly tendered an issue of fact The rule on judgment based on the pleadings is Section 1, Rule 34 of the Rules of
Court, which provides thus: Section 1. Judgment on the pleadings. - Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party's pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading, x xx
The essential query in resolving a motion for judgment on the pleadings is whether or not there are issues of fact generated by the pleadings. Whether issues of fact exist in a case or not depends on how the defending party's answer has dealt with the ultimate facts alleged in the complaint. The defending party's answer either admits or denies the allegations of ultimate facts in the complaint or other initiatory pleading. The allegations of ultimate facts the answer admit, being undisputed, will not require evidence to establish the truth of such facts, but the allegations of ultimate facts the answer properly denies, being disputed, will require evidence. The answer admits the material allegations of ultimate facts of the adverse party's pleadings not only when it expressly confesses the truth of such allegations but also when it omits to deal with them at all. The controversion of the ultimate facts must only be by specific denial. Section 10, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court recognizes only three modes by which the denial in the answer raises an issue of fact. The first is by the defending party specifying each material allegation of fact the truth of which he does not admit and, whenever practicable, setting forth the substance of the matters upon which he relies to support his denial. The second applies to the defending party who desires to deny only a part of an averment, and the denial is done by the defending party specifying so much of the material allegation of ultimate facts as is true and material and denying only the remainder. The third is done by the defending party who is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of a material averment made in the complaint by stating so in the answer. Any material averment in the complaint not so specifically denied are deemed admitted except an averment of the amount of unliquidated damages. In the case of a written instrument or document upon which an action or defense is based, which is also known as the actionable document, the pleader of such document is required either to set forth the substance of such instrument or document in the pleading, and to attach the original or a copy thereof to the pleading as an exhibit, which shall then be deemed to be a part of the pleading, or to set forth a copy in the pleading. The adverse party is deemed to admit the genuineness and due execution of the actionable document unless he specifically denies them under oath, and sets forth what he claims to be the facts, but the requirement of an oath does not apply when the adverse party does not appear to be a party to the instrument or when compliance with an order for an inspection of the original instrument is refused. That the respondent qualified its admissions and denials by subjecting them to its special and affirmative defenses of lack of jurisdiction over its person, improper venue, litis pendentia and forum shopping was of no consequence because the affirmative defenses, by their nature, involved matters extrinsic to the merits of the petitioner's claim, and thus did not negate the material averments of the complaint. Lastly, we should emphasize that in order to resolve the petitioner's Motion for Judgment Based on the Pleadings, the trial court could rely only on the answer of the respondent filed in Civil Case No. 09-122116. Under Section 1, Rule 34 of the Rules of Court, the answer was the sole basis for ascertaining whether the complaint's material allegations were admitted or properly denied. As such, the respondent's averment of payment of the total of P78,401,650.00 to the petitioner made in its complaint for rescission had no relevance to the resolution of the Motion for Judgment Based on the Pleadings. The CA thus wrongly held that a factual issue on the total liability of the respondent remained to be settled through trial on the merits. It should have openly wondered why the respondent's answer in Civil Case No. 09-122116 did not allege the supposed payment of the P78,401,650.00, if the payment was true, if only to buttress the specific denial of its alleged liability. The omission exposed the respondent's denial of liability as insincere.
ERIC N. ESTRELLADO and JOSSIE M. BORJA, Petitioners, vs.KARINA CONSTANTINO DAVID, THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, HIPOLITO R. GABORNI and ROBERTO S. SE, Respondents. G.R. No. 184288, February 16, 2016 EN BANC MAIN TOPIC: POLITICAL LAW/PUBLIC OFFICERS/ F: After screening the applicants on January 15, 2004, the LTO-COS-PB recommended to the LTO the appointment of Hipolito R. Garboni and Roberto S. Se to the vacant positions of TRO II and AO IV within the LTO Law Enforcement Service. Thereafter, petitioners Eric N. Estrellado, TRO 1, and Jossie M. Borja, Records Officer III, who were also applicants for the aforementioned positions and in their alleged capacities as next-in-rank employees, filed with the CSC-NCR a petition to declare the LTO-CO-SPB selection procedure null and void. They alleged, among others, that Hipolito R. Garboni and Roberto S. Se did not meet the requirements for the positions of TRO II and AO IV. On October 1, 2004, the LTO Assistant Secretary appointed Hipolito R. Garboni as TRO II and on October 25, 2004, Roberto S. Se, as AO IV. I: Whether or not the next-in-rank status of a government employee is a guarantee to one's fitness to the position aspired for. H: No. The next-in-rank status of a government employee is not a guarantee to one's fitness to the position aspired for, and the applicant must go through the rigors of a screening and selection process as determined and conducted by a department or agency, subject only to the standards and guidelines set by the Civil Service Commission (CSC). This is in keeping with the ideal of promoting through merit rather than entitlement, and thus ensuring that government service is rewarded with the best fit. A reading of CSC MC No. 3, Series of 2001 20, shows that screening requires no interviews and examinations. It is notable that the words screening and screened appear therein six times. The foregoing provision in CSC MC No. 3, Series of 2001 21, should be read in conjunction with the relevant provisions in Executive Order 292 (Revised Administrative Code of 1987) on the CSC. It is definite from the foregoing that the screening process is that which each department or agency formulates and administers in accordance with the law, rules, regulations, and standards set by the CSC. If neither the law nor the implementing rules and regulations define in specific terms or criteria the particulars of the screening process, then each agency or department is empowered to formulate its own 20
The first level representative shall participate during the screening of candidates for vacancies in the first level; the second level representative shall participate in the screening of candidates for vacancies in the second level. Both rankand-file representatives shall serve for a period of two (2) years. For continuity of operation, the agency accredited employee association may designate an alternate. x xxx 8. All candidates for appointment to first and second level position shall be screened by the PSB. Candidates for appointment to third level positions shall be screened by the PSB for third level positions composed of at least three (3) career executive service officials as may be constituted in the agency. Appointment to the following positions shall no longer be screened by the PSB: a. Substitute appointment due to their short duration and emergency nature. However, should the position be filled by regular appointment, candidates for the position should be screened and passed upon by the PSB; (underlining supplied) 21
CHAPTER 5 – Personnel Policies and Standards SEC. 21.Recruitment and Selection of Employees. –
x xxx (4) For purposes of this Section, each department or agency shall evolve its own screening process, which may include tests of fitness, in accordance with standards and guidelines set by the Commission. Promotion boards shall be formed to formulate criteria for evaluation, conduct tests or interviews, and make systematic assessment of training experience. x xxx SEC. 32. Merit Promotion Plans. — Each department or agency shall establish merit promotion plans which shall be administered in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Service law and the rules, regulations and standards to be promulgated by the Commission. Such plans shall include provisions for a definite screening process, which may include tests of fitness, in accordance with standards and guidelines set by the Commission. Promotion Boards may be organized subject to criteria drawn by the Commission. (Underscoring supplied)
screening processes subject to the standards and guidelines set by the CSC. The CA thus correctly concluded that the appointing authority exercised the right of choice, freely exercising its best judgment, in determining the best-qualified applicants from those who had the necessary qualifications and eligibilities.
JUNO BATISTIS (petitioner) vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES (respondent) / G.R. No. 181571, December 16, 2009 / FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: CRIMINAL LAW / INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW F: The Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 24, in Manila convicted Juno Batistis for violations of Section 155 (infringement of trademark) and Section 168 (unfair competition) of the Intellectual Property Code (Republic Act No. 8293). The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the conviction for infringement of trademark, but reversed the conviction for unfair competition for failure of the State to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Section 170 of RA 8293 provides that, independent of the civil and administrative sanctions imposed by law, a criminal penalty of imprisonment from two (2) years to five (5) years and a fine ranging from fifty thousand pesos (P50,000) to two hundred thousand pesos(P200,000), shall be imposed on any person who is found guilty of committing any of the acts mentioned in Section 155, Section 168 and Subsection 169.1. of the same Code (or Arts. 188 and 189, Revised Penal Code). The CA affirmed the decision of the RTC imposing the penalty of imprisonment of two (2) years and to pay a fine of fifty thousand (P50,000.00) pesos. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. I: Whether the CA’s imposition of straight penalty was contrary to the Indeterminate Sentence Law(Act. No. 4103), whose Section 1 requires that the penalty of imprisonment should be an indeterminate sentence. H: YES. The penalty fixed was contrary to the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended by Act No. 4225. Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended, provides: Section 1. Hereafter, in imposing a prison sentence for an offense punished by the Revised Penal Code, or its amendments, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence the maximum term of which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under the rules of the said Code, and the minimum which shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense; and if the offense is punished by any other law, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not exceed the maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the minimum term prescribed by the same.
According to Spouses Bacar v. Judge de Guzman, Jr., the imposition of an indeterminate sentence with maximum and minimum periods in criminal cases not excepted from the coverage of the Indeterminate Sentence Law pursuant to its Section 2 is mandatory, viz: The need for specifying the minimum and maximum periods of the indeterminate sentence is to prevent the unnecessary and excessive deprivation of liberty and to enhance the economic usefulness of the accused, since he may be exempted from serving the entire sentence, depending upon his behavior and his physical, mental, and moral record. The requirement of imposing an indeterminate sentence in all criminal offenses whether punishable by the Revised Penal Code or by special laws, with definite minimum and maximum terms, as the Court deems proper within the legal range of the penalty specified by the law must, therefore, be deemed mandatory.
Indeed, the imposition of an indeterminate sentence is mandatory. For instance, in Argoncillo v. Court of Appeals, three persons were prosecuted for and found guilty of illegal fishing (with the use of explosives) as defined in Section 33, Presidential Decree No. 704, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1058, for which the prescribed
penalty was imprisonment from 20 years to life imprisonment. The trial court imposed on each of the accused a straight penalty of 20 years imprisonment, and the CA affirmed the trial court. On appeal, however, this Court declared the straight penalty to be erroneous, and modified it by imposing imprisonment ranging from 20 years, as minimum, to 25 years, as maximum. An exception was enunciated in People v. Nang Kay,a prosecution for illegal possession of firearms punished by a special law (that is, Section 2692, Revised Administrative Code, as amended by Commonwealth Act 56 and Republic Act No. 4) with imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than ten years. There, the Court sustained the straight penalty of five years and one day imposed by the trial court (Court of First Instance of Rizal) because the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law would be unfavorable to the accused by lengthening his prison sentence. Yet, it cannot apply the Nang Kay exception herein, even if this case was a prosecution under a special law like that in Nang Kay. Firstly, the trial court in Nang Kay could well and lawfully have given the accused the lowest prison sentence of five years because of the mitigating circumstance of his voluntary plea of guilty, but, herein, both the trial court and the CA did not have a similar circumstance to justify the lenity towards the accused. Secondly, the large number of Fundador articles confiscated from his house (namely, 241 empty bottles of Fundador, 163 Fundador boxes, a half sack full of Fundador plastic caps, and two filled bottles of Fundador Brandy) clearly demonstrated that Batistis had been committing a grave economic offense over a period of time, thereby deserving for him the indeterminate, rather than the straight and lower, penalty.
IMELDA BIDES-ULASO vs. ATTY. EDITA NOE-LACSAMANA / A.C. No. 7297, September 29, 2009 / FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: LEGAL ETHICS / PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS (ATTORNEYDISBARMENT) / NOTARIAL LAW (VIOLATIONS AND CORRESPONDING DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS) F: Herein respondent was the counsel of Irene Bides (Bides) in a civil case involving a sale of a parcel of land in San Juan, Metro Manila, against complainant Imelda BidesUlaso (Ulaso) and other defendants (some members of the latter’s family). Bides’ amended complaint contained a so-called amended verification and affidavit of nonforum shopping, on which was a signature preceded by the word "for" above the printed name "IRENE BIDES." The signature bore a positive resemblance to the respondent’s signature as the notary on the jurat of the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping. Seeing the defective execution of the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping, Ulaso and her co-defendants filed a motion to dismiss citing the defect as a ground, along with another. The RTC denied the motion to dismiss and even declared Ulaso and her co-defendants in default. The RTC ultimately decided the action in favor of Bides, granting reliefs like the nullification of the deed of sale between Bides, as seller, and Ulaso, as buyer.On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the RTC’s judgment. Thereafter, Bides and respondent brought other proceedings against Ulaso, e.g., disbarment proceedings against Ulaso’s counsel. To counteract the moves of Bides and respondent, Ulaso initiated a proceeding against respondent, praying for the latter’s disbarment due to her act of signing the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping attached to the amended complaint of Bides and notarizing the document sans the signature of Bides and despite the non-appearance of the latter before her. Later on, however, Bides and Ulaso entered into a compromise agreement to settle the criminal case for falsification, whereby Bides agreed to drop the criminal charge against Ulaso in exchange for, among others, Ulaso’s withdrawal of the disbarment complaint against herein respondent. The agreement on the dropping of the criminal case notwithstanding, the complaint for disbarment continued against respondent.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) found respondent guilty of gross negligence and of a violation of the Notarial Law, and recommended her suspension from the practice of law for six (6) months. I: Whether or not the notarization of the jurat of the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping attached to the initiatory pleading even before the plaintiffclient has affixed her own signature amounts to censurable conduct on the part of the notary-counsel. H: YES. The lack of bad faith notwithstanding, the Court nonetheless concurs with the findings of Investigating Commissioner Patrick M. Velez that the respondent’s notarizing the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping in the absence of Bides as the affiant, constituted a clear breach of the notarial protocol and was highly censurable. The jurat is that end part of the affidavit in which the notary certifies that the instrument is sworn to before her. As such, the notarial certification is essential. Considering that notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act, the faithful observance and utmost respect of the legal solemnity of the oath in the jurat are sacrosanct. Specifically, the notarial certification contained in the jurat of the amended verification and affidavit of non-forum shopping – "SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO BEFORE ME, on this 18th day of June 2003, affiant IRENE BIDES, showing to me her CTC Nos. 11833475 issued on November 21, 2002, in Manila" – indicated both the necessity for the physical presence of Bides as the affiant and the fact that the signing was done in the presence of the respondent as the notary. The physical presence of Bides was required in order to have her as the affiant swear before the respondent that she was that person and in order to enable the respondent as the notary to ascertain whether Bides had voluntarily and freely executed the affidavit. Thus, the respondent, by signing as notary even before Bides herself could appear before her, failed to give due observance and respect to the solemnity. Being a lawyer commissioned as a notary, the respondent was mandated to discharge with fidelity the sacred duties appertaining to her notarial office. Such duties being dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest, she could not disregard the requirements and solemnities of the Notarial Law. It was emphatically her primary duty as a lawyer-notary to obey the laws of the land and to promote respect for the law and legal processes. She was expected to be in the forefront in the observance and maintenance of the rule of law. She ought to have remembered that a graver responsibility was placed upon her shoulders by virtue of her being a lawyer. In imposing the penalty upon the respondent, however, the Court opts to reprimand her instead of suspending her from the practice of law for three (3) months, as the IBP recommended. This the Court does after taking into account, firstly, the absence of bad faith in her notarizing the unsigned document; secondly, the fact that the infraction was the first lodged against her in her long years of membership in the Bar; and thirdly, her recuperating from the debilitating stroke that had left her unable to perform any work since July 11, 2007.
MACTAN CEBU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY [MCIAA], Petitioner, v. HEIRS OF GAVINA IJORDAN, NAMELY, JULIAN CUISON, FRANCISCA CUISON, DAMASTNA CUISON, PASTOR CUISON, ANGELINA CUISON, MANSUETO CUISON, BONIFACIA CUISON, BASILIO CUISON, MOISES CUISON, AND FLORENCIO CUISON, Respondents. G.R. No. 173140, January 11, 2016 FIRST DIVISION CIVIL LAW / PROPERTY / Co-ownership F: On October 14, 1957, Julian Cuizon (Julian) executed a Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement and Sale (Deed) covering Lot No. 4539 (subject lot) situated in Ibo, Municipality of Opon (now Lapu-Lapu City) in favor of the Civil Aeronautics Administration ((CAA), the predecessor-in-interest of petitioner Manila Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA). Since then until the present, MCIAA remained in material, continuous, uninterrupted and adverse possession of the subject lot through the CAA, later renamed the Bureau of Air Transportation (BAT), and is presently known as the Air Transportation Office (ATO). The subject lot was transferred and conveyed to MCIAA by virtue of Republic Act No. 6958. In 1980, the respondents caused the judicial reconstitution of the original certificate of title covering the subject lot (issued by virtue of Decree No. 531167). Consequently, OCT No. RO-2431 of the Register of Deeds of Cebu was reconstituted for Lot No. 4539 in the names of the respondents' predecessors-in-interest, namely, GavinaIjordan, and Julian, Francisca, Damasina, Marciana, Pastor, Angela, Mansueto, Bonifacia, Basilio, Moises and Florencio, all surnamed Cuison. The respondents' ownership of the subject lot was evidenced by OCT No. RO-2431. They asserted that they had not sold their shares in the subject lot, and had not authorized Julian to sell their shares to MCIAA's predecessor-in-interest. I1: Was the subject lot validly conveyed in its entirety to the petitioner? H1: No. A sale of jointly owned real property by a co-owner without the express authority of the others is unenforceable against the latter, but valid and enforceable against the seller. The CA and the RTC concluded that the Deed was void as far as the respondents' shares in the subject lot were concerned, but valid as to Julian's share. Their conclusion was based on the absence of the authority from his co-heirs in favor of Julian to convey their shares in the subject lot. We have no reason to overturn the affirmance of the CA on the issue of the respondents' co-ownership with Julian. Hence, the conveyance by Julian of the entire property pursuant to the Deed did not bind the respondents for lack of their consent and authority in his favor. As such, the Deed had no legal effect as to their shares in the property. Article 1317 of the Civil Code provides that no person could contract in the name of another without being authorized by the latter, or unless he had by law a right to represent him; the contract entered into in the name of another by one who has no authority or legal representation, or who has acted beyond his powers, is unenforceable, unless it is ratified, expressly or impliedly, by the person on whose behalf it has been executed, before it is revoked by the other contracting party. But the conveyance by Julian through the Deed had full force and effect with respect to his share of 1/22 of the entire property consisting of 546 square meters by virtue of its being a voluntary disposition of property on his part. As ruled in Torres v. Lapinid: x xx even if a co-owner sells the whole property as his, the sale will affect only his own share but not those of the other co-owners who did not consent to the sale. This is because the sale or other disposition of a co-owner affects only his undivided share and the transferee gets only what would correspond to his grantor in the partition of the thing owned in common. I2: Will estoppel apply to the respondents? H2: No. MCIAA's assertion of estoppel or ratification to bar the respondents' contrary claim of ownership of their shares in the subject lot is bereft of substance. The doctrine of estoppel applied only to those who were parties to the contract and their
privies or successors-in-interest. Moreover, the respondents could not be held to ratify the contract that was declared to be null and void with respect to their share, for there was nothing for them to ratify. Verily, the Deed, being null and void, had no adverse effect on the rights of the respondents in the subject lot. MCIAA's contention on acquisitive prescription in its favor must fail. Aside from the absence of the satisfactory showing of MCIAA's supposed possession of the subject lot, no acquisitive prescription could arise in view of the indefeasibility of the respondents' Torrens title. Under the Torrens System, no adverse possession could deprive the registered owners of their title by prescription. The real purpose of the Torrens System is to quiet title to land and to stop any question as to its legality forever. Thus, once title is registered, the owner may rest secure, without the necessity of waiting in the portals of the court, or sitting on the miradorsu casa to avoid the possibility of losing his land.
JENNIFER C. LAGAHIT, Petitioner, v. PACIFIC CONCORD CONTAINER LINES/MONETTE CUENCA (BRANCH MANAGER), Respondents. G.R. No. 177680, January 13, 2016 FIRST DIVISION LABOR LAW / LABOR RELATION / ILLEGAL DISMISSAL F: In February 2000, respondent Pacific Concord Container Lines (Pacific Concord), a domestic corporation engaged in cargo forwarding, hired the petitioner as an Account Executive/Marketing Assistant. In January 2002, Pacific Concord promoted her as a sales manager. On November 8, 2002, she reported for work at 9:00 a.m. and left the company premises at around 10:30 a.m. to make client calls. At 1:14 p.m. of that day, she received text messages terminating her employment. I1: Did the petitioner resign as sales manager of Pacific Concord? H1: No. Lagahit did not resign from her employment. In cases of unlawful dismissal, the employer bears the burden of proving that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause, but before the employer is expected to discharge its burden of proving that the dismissal was legal, the employee must first establish by substantial evidence the fact of her dismissal from employment. In this case, the petitioner proved the overt acts committed by the respondents in abruptly terminating her employment through the text messages sent by Cuenca to the petitioner and her husband, as well as the notices distributed to the clients and published in the Sun Star. It is notable that the respondents did not deny or controvert her evidence on the matter. As a rule, the employer who interposes the resignation of the employee as a defense should prove that the employee voluntarily resigned.A valid resignation is the voluntary act of an employee who finds herself in a situation where she believes that personal reasons cannot be sacrificed in favor of the exigency of the service and that she has no other choice but to disassociate herself from employment. The resignation must be unconditional and with a clear intention to relinquish the position. Consequently, the circumstances surrounding the alleged resignation must be consistent with the employee's intent to give up the employment. In this connection, the acts of the employee before and after the resignation are considered to determine whether or not she intended, in fact, to relinquish the employment. I2: Did Pacific Concord have sufficient grounds to terminate her for breach of trust and confidence under Article 282 of the Labor Code? H2: None. Lagahit did not breach her employer's trust; her dismissal was, therefore, illegal. To justify the dismissal of an employee, the employer must, as a rule, prove that the dismissal was for a just cause, and that the employee was afforded due process prior
to dismissal. As a complementary principle, the employer has the onus of proving the validity of the dismissal with clear, accurate, consistent, and convincing evidence. The employer's case succeeds or fails on the strength of its evidence, not on the weakness of that adduced by the employee, in keeping with the principle that the scales of justice should be tilted in favor of the latter in case of doubt in the evidence presented by them. Article 282(c) of the Labor Code authorizes an employer to dismiss an employee for committing fraud, or for willful breach of the trust reposed by the employer. However, loss of confidence is never intended to provide the employer with a blank check for terminating its employee. For this to be a valid ground for the termination of the employee, the employer must establish that: (1) the employee must be holding a position of trust and confidence; and (2) the act complained against would justify the loss of trust and confidence. There are two classes of employees vested with trust and confidence. To the first class belong the managerial employees or those vested with the powers or prerogatives to lay down management policies and to hire, transfer, suspend, lay-off, recall, discharge, assign or discipline employees or effectively recommend such managerial actions. The second class includes those who in the normal and routine exercise of their functions regularly handle significant amounts of money or property. Cashiers, auditors, and property custodians are some of the employees in the second class. Her position as sales manager did not immediately make the petitioner a managerial employee. The actual work that she performed, not her job title, determined whether she was a managerial employee vested with trust and confidence. At any rate, the employer must present clear and convincing proof of an actual breach of duty committed by the employee by establishing the facts and incidents upon which the loss of confidence in the employee may fairly be made to rest. The required amount of evidence for doing so is substantial proof.
MARIO JOSE E. SERENO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ASSOCIATION OF PETROCHEMICAL MANUFACTURERS OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. (APMP), Petitioner, v. COMMITTEE ON TRADE AND RELATED MATTERS (CTRM) OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (NEDA), COMPOSED OF THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE NEDA SECRETARIAT, THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARIES OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY, FINANCE, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AGRICULTURE, ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION, LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, AGRARIAN REFORM, THE GOVERNOR OF THE BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS AND THE CHAIRMAN OF THE TARIFF COMMISSION, AND BRENDA R. MENDOZA IN HER CAPACITY AS DIRECTOR OF THE TRADE, INDUSTRY & UTILITIES STAFF, Respondents. G.R. No. 175210, February 01, 2016 FIRST DIVISION POLITICAL LAW / BILL OF RIGHTS / RIGHT TO INFORMATION F: On May 23, 2005, the CTRM, an office under the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), held a meeting in which it resolved to recommend to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the lifting of the suspension of the tariff reduction schedule on petrochemicals and certain plastic products, thereby reducing the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) rates on products covered by Executive Order (E.O.) No. 161 from 7% or 10% to 5% starting July 2005. On June 9, 2005, Wilfredo A. Paras (Paras), then the Chairman of the Association of Petrochemical Manufacturers of the Philippines (APMP), the main industry association in the petrochemical sector, wrote to the CTRM Secretariat, through its Director Brenda Mendoza (Director Mendoza), to request a copy of the minutes of the meeting
held on May 23, 2005. Director Mendoza denied the requests. The attitude of the CTRM prompted the petitioner and the APMP to bring the petition for mandamus in the RTC to compel the CTRM to provide the copy of the minutes and to grant access to the minutes. I: Whether or not the CTRM may be compelled by mandamus to furnish the petitioner with a copy of the minutes of the May 23, 2005 meeting based on the constitutional right to information on matters of public concern and the State's policy of full public disclosure. H: No. The constitutional guarantee of the right to information on matters of public concern of the 1987 Constitution complements the State's policy of full public disclosure in all transactions involving public interest expressed in Section 28 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution. These provisions are aimed at ensuring transparency in policy-making as well as in the operations of the Government, and at safeguarding the exercise by the people of the freedom of expression. In a democratic society like ours, the free exchange of information is necessary, and can be possible only if the people are provided the proper information on matters that affect them. But the people's right to information is not absolute. The constitutional guarantee to information "does not open every door to any and all information." 22 It is limited to matters of public concern, and is subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. Likewise, the State's policy of full public disclosure is restricted to transactions involving public interest, and is further subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law. Two requisites must concur before the right to information may be compelled by writ of mandamus: Firstly, the information sought must be in relation to matters of public concern or public interest 23. And, Secondly, it must not be exempt by law from the operation of the constitutional guarantee. 24 The authority of the CTRM as the advisory body of the President and the NEDA is set forth in E.O. No. 230, series of 1987 (Reorganization Act of the National Economic and Development Authority) 25, to wit:
Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission
There is no rigid test in determining whether or not a particular information is of public concern or public interest. Both terms cover a wide-range of issues that the public may want to be familiar with either because the issues have a direct effect on them or because the issues "naturally arouse the interest of an ordinary citizen." As such, whether or not the information sought is of public interest or public concern is left to the proper determination of the courts on a case to case basis. 24
The second requisite is that the information requested must not be excluded by law from the constitutional guarantee. In that regard, the Court has already declared that the constitutional guarantee of the people's right to information does not cover national security matters and intelligence information, trade secrets and banking transactions and criminal matters. Equally excluded from coverage of the constitutional guarantee are diplomatic correspondence, closed-door Cabinet meeting and executive sessions of either house of Congress, as well as the internal deliberations of the Supreme Court. In Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, the Court has ruled that the right to information does not extend to matters acknowledged as "privileged information under the separation of powers," which include "Presidential conversations, correspondences, or discussions during closed-door Cabinet meetings." Likewise exempted from the right to information are "information on military and diplomatic secrets, information affecting national security, and information on investigations of crimes by law enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the accused." 25
SECTION 6.National Economic and Development Authority Inter-agency Committees. - To assist the NEDA Board in the performance of its functions, there are hereby created the following committees which shall hereafter be under the direct control of the NEDA Board and shall submit all their recommendations to the President for approval on matters involving their respective concerns. The Chairman of these committees shall be designated by the President. The NEDA Board shall likewise determine where the technical staff of the said committees shall be based. x xxx (e) Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (TRM) - The TRM to be composed of the Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority Secretariat, the Executive Secretary, the Secretaries of Trade and Industry, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources and of Budget and Management, the Governor of the Central Bank and the Chairman of the Tariff Commission shall have the following functions: (i) Advise the President and the NEDA Board on tariff and related matters, and on the effects on the country of various international developments; (ii) Coordinate agency positions and recommend national positions for international economic negotiations;
It is always necessary, given the highly important and complex powers to fix tariff rates vested in the President, that the recommendations submitted for the President's consideration be well-thought out and well-deliberated. In Almonte v. Vasquez the Court has stressed the need for confidentiality and privacy, stating thusly: "A President and those who assist him must be free to explore alternatives in the process of shaping policies and making decisions and to do so in a way many would be unwilling to express except privately."34 Every claim of exemption, being a limitation on a right constitutionally granted to the people, is liberally construed in favor of disclosure and strictly against the claim of confidentiality. However, the claim of privilege as a cause for exemption from the obligation to disclose information must be clearly asserted by specifying the grounds for the exemption.35 In case of denial of access to the information, it is the government agency concerned that has the burden of showing that the information sought to be obtained is not a matter of public concern, or that the same is exempted from the coverage of the constitutional guarantee. We reiterate, therefore, that the burden has been well discharged herein. In Senate of the Philippines v. Ermita, we have said that executive privilege is properly invoked in relation to specific categories of information, not to categories of persons. What should determine whether or not information was within the ambit of the exception from the people's right to access to information was not the composition of the body, but the nature of the information sought to be accessed. In case of conflict, there is a need to strike a balance between the right of the people and the interest of the Government to be protected. Here, the need to ensure the protection of the privilege of non-disclosure is necessary to allow the free exchange of ideas among Government officials as well as to guarantee the well-considered recommendation free from interference of the inquisitive public.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. MARISSA BAYKER, AccusedAppellant. G.R. No. 170192, February 10, 2016 FIRST DIVISION CRIMINAL LAW>Illegal recruitment and estafa F: Accused, who have no authority to recruit workers for overseas employment, promised and recruited complainants, Basilio T. Miparanum, Virgilio T. Caniazares and Reynaldo E. Dahab, overseas job abroad and in consideration of said promise, said complainants paid and delivered to accused the amount of P52,000.00, P10,000.00 and P5,000.00, respectively as processing fees of their papers. On the promise[d] dates of departure, accused failed to send the complainants abroad and despite demands to reimburse or return the said amounts which complainants paid as processing fees, accused refused and failed to reimburse or return to complainants the aforesaid amounts. The RTC found accused guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale and estafa. The CA affirmed the convictions of the accused-appellant by the RTC. I: Did the CA correctly affirm the conviction of the accused-appellant for the crimes of illegal recruitment in large scale and estafa? H: Yes.An illegal recruiter can be liable for the crimes of illegal recruitment committed in large scale and estafa without risk of being put in double jeopardy, provided that (iii) Recommend to the President a continuous rationalization program for the country's tariff structure. (underlining supplied)
the accused has been so charged under separate informations. Illegal Recruitment Illegal recruitment is committed by a person who: (a) undertakes any recruitment activity defined under Article 13(b) or any prohibited practice enumerated under Article 34 and Article 38 of the Labor Code; and (b) does not have a license or authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers. It is committed in large scale when it is committed against three or more persons individually or as a group. The CA properly affirmed the conviction of the accused-appellant by the RTC for illegal recruitment committed in large scale because she had committed acts of recruitment against at least three persons (namely: Canizares, Dahab, and Miparanum) despite her not having been duly licensed or authorized by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for that purpose. The accused-appellant's insistence on her very limited participation in the recruitment of the complainants did not advance or help her cause any because the State established her having personally promised foreign employment either as hotel porters or seafarers to the complainants despite her having no license or authority to recruit from the POEA. The records made it clear enough that her participation was anything but limited, for she herself had accompanied them to their respective medical examinations at their own expense. In addition, she herself brought them to GNB Marketing and introduced them to her co-accused. In this regard, the CA pointedly observed: The evidence established that without any license or authority to do so, appellant promised private complainants overseas employment in regard to which she required them to undergo medical examination and training and collected fees or payments from them, while repeatedly assuring that they would be deployed abroad. On appellant's contention that it was Nida Bermudez and Lorenz Langreo who received money from the complainants, even assuming arguendo that appellant never received any payment from the complainants, actual receipt of a fee is not an essential element of the crime of Illegal Recruitment, but is only one of the modes for the commission thereof. Besides, all the private complainants positively identified appellant as the person who recruited them and exacted money from them. Appellant's bare denials and self-serving assertions cannot prevail over the positive testimonies of the complainants who had no ill motive to testify falsely against her. Even the mere employee of a company or corporation engaged in illegal recruitment could be held liable, along with the employer, as a principal in illegal recruitment once it was shown that he had actively and consciously participated in illegal recruitment. This is because recruitment and placement include any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring workers, as well as referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not. Estafa The conviction of the accused-appellant for illegal recruitment committed in large scale did not preclude her personal liability for estafa under Article 315(2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code on the ground of subjecting her to double jeopardy. The elements of estafa as charged are, namely: (1) the accused defrauded another by abuse of confidence or by means of deceit; and (2) the offended party, or a third party suffered damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation.In contrast, the crime of illegal recruitment committed in large scale, as indicated earlier, requires different elements. Double jeopardy could not result from prosecuting and convicting the accusedappellant for both crimes considering that they were entirely distinct from each other not only from their being punished under different statutes but also from their elements being different. The active representation by the accused-appellant of having the capacity to deploy Miparanum abroad despite not having the authority or license to do so from the POEA constituted deceit as the first element of estafa. Her representation induced the victim to part with his money, resulting in damage that is the second element of the estafa. Considering that the damage resulted from the deceit, the CA's affirmance
of her guilt for estafa as charged was in order.
SPS. NESTOR and FELICIDAD DADIZON vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, and SPS. DOMINADOR and ELSA MOCORRO / G.R. No. 159116, September 30, 2009 / FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: REMEDIAL LAW / MODES OF APPEAL SUB TOPIC: CIVIL LAW / LAND TITLES / PROPERTY REGISTRATION DECREE (PD 1529) F: Respondent Spouses Dominador and Elsa Mocorro (Mocorros) initiated this case in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Naval, Biliran against the Dadizons to recover a parcel of land and to cancel the latter’s tax declaration. The Mocorros also sought consequential damages. Per records of the MTC, as early as June 2, 1973, Mocorros bought the land in question from Brigido Caneja Sr.(Caneja Sr.), a former town mayor of Naval, Biliran. The integrity of His honor, was engrained into the document so much so that it was respected by the adjoining owners. A total land area of 224 square meters was sold by Caneja, Sr. to plaintiff spouses as reflected in a Deed of Absolute Sale. It was only in 1975 when defendant spouses allegedly acquired a residential land adjoining that of plaintiff spouses that a boundary dispute ensued between them. The alleged acquisition of defendant spouses of the land in question peppered with inconsistencies. At the outset, the land was conveyed to defendant spouses by their mother Eustaquia Bernadas (Bernadas) in a private document. Defendant spouses offered flimsy excuses why said document was not notarized, e.g., they did not know according to their joint affidavit and that there was a need for it while their instrumental witness claim that defendant spouses had no more money to pay for the notarization. [The only logical reason why the document was not notarized according to the mind of the Court is to make it appear that the documents were executed on the dates mentioned therein]. Plaintiff Dominador Mocorro (Dominador) was misled into fencing their residential land as to its correct boundary upon misrepresentation of Bernadas, the mother of defendant Felicidad Dadizon. Plaintiff Elsa Mocorro was not around when the alleged deception was made upon co-plaintiff Dominador by Bernadas. Based on the tax declarations of the Mocorro Spouses, the area of their land had always been 224 square meters until 1984, when the area was reduced to 146 square meters following the exclusion of a part thereof measuring 78 square meters to adjust the area to that declared in the name of the Dadizons in their tax declaration. The MTC ruled in favor of the Mocorros ordering the Dadizons to deliver to the former the subject portion and demolish whatever structures defendants might have erected thereon. The RTC gave weight to the factual findings and conclusions of the court a quo. An appeal by notice of appeal, however, was taken by the Dadizons from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) to the Court of Appeals (CA). The CA then dismissed the Dadizons’ appeal (on the ground that the mode of appeal they had adopted was erroneous) and denied the latter’s MR. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. I1: Whether the CA’s dismissal of the Dadizons’ appeal was proper. H1: YES. The mode of appeal vis-à-vis the decision of the RTC adopted by the Dadizons was undoubtedly wrong. They should have filed a petition for review in accordance with Rule 42, Rules of Court, which was the correct mode of appeal, considering that the RTC had rendered the decision in question in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction. The dictum of Murillo v. Consul found its way to the Rules of Court as Sec. 2, Rule 41, effective July 1, 1997, under which the various modes of appeal are now specifically
delineated, viz: Sec. 2. Modes of appeal.— (a) Ordinary appeal.— The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and serving a copy thereof upon the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be required except in special proceedings and other cases of multiple or separate appeals where the law or these Rules so require. In such cases, the record on appeal shall be filed and served in like manner. (b) Petition for review.— The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction shall be by petition for review in accordance with Rule 42. (c) Appeal by certiorari.— In all cases where only questions of law are raised or involved, the appeal shall be to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari in accordance with Rule 45. (n) Consequently, the CA’s dismissal of the Dadizons’ appeal was proper. Sec. 2, Rule 50 of the Rules of Courtpronounces that "an appeal by notice of appeal instead of by petition for review from the appellate judgment of a Regional Trial Court shall be dismissed." The dismissal was also unavoidable notwithstanding that the procedural rules might be liberally construed, because the provisions of law and the rules concerning the manner and period of appeal were mandatory and jurisdictional requirements essential to enable the appellate court to take cognizance of the appeal. According to Dee HwaLiong Electronics Corporation v. Papiona,the liberal construction of the rules - authorized by Sec. 6, Rule 1, Rules of Court, in order to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding - cannot be made the vehicle by which to ignore the Rules of Court at will and at random to the prejudice of the orderly presentation and assessment of the issues and their just resolution. Indeed, the policy of liberal construction mandated by the Rules of Court may be invoked only in situations in which there is some excusable formal deficiency or error in a pleading, but not where its application subverts the essence of the proceeding or results in the utter disregard of the Rules of Court. Imperative justice requires the correct observance of indispensable technicalities precisely designed to ensure its proper dispensation, for, as Justice Regalado observed in one case: The danger wrought by non-observance of the Rules of Court is that the violation of or failure to comply with the procedure prescribed by law prevents the proper determination of the questions raised by the parties with respect to the merits of the case and makes it necessary to decide, in the first place, such questions as relate to the form of the action. The rules and procedure laid down for the trial court and the adjudication of cases are matters of public policy. They are matters of public order and interest which can in no wise be changed or regulated by agreements between or stipulations by parties to an action for their singular convenience. I2: Necessity of the recording of instruments relating to unregistered lands. H2: The reliance of the Dadizons on the unnotarized and unregistered deed of absolute sale of real property executed by Bernadas in their favor was misplaced and unwarranted, for the non-registration of the deed meant that the sale could not bind third parties like the respondents. The transaction affecting unregistered lands covered by an unrecorded contract, if legal, might be valid and binding on the parties themselves, but not on third parties. In the case of third parties, it was necessary for the contract to be registered. Sec. 113 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, also known as the Property Registration Decree, provides, viz: Section 113. Recording of instruments relating to unregistered lands.- No deed, conveyance, mortgage, lease, or other voluntary instrument affecting land
not registered under the Torrens system shall be valid, except as between the parties thereto, unless such instrument shall have been recorded in the manner herein prescribed in the office of the Register of Deeds for the province or city where the land lies. Bernadas’ execution on March 10, 1976 of the deed of absolute sale of real property in favor of the Dadizons, standing alone, did not suffice to bind and conclude the Mocorros. Pursuant to Sec. 113, Presidential Decree No. 1529, the recording of the sale was necessary.Besides, the deed, being the unilateral act of Bernadas, did not adversely affect the Mocorros, who were not her privies. Otherwise stated, the deed was res inter aliosacta as far as they were concerned. Neither would the affidavit of adjoining owners support the Dadizons’ cause, considering that such affidavit, aside from its being self-serving and unilateral, had been executed only for the purpose of facilitating FelicidadDadizon’s application for the low cost housing loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM, represented by SECRETARY HERNANI A. BRAGANZA vs. PABLO BERENGUER, BELINDA BERENGUER, CARLO BERENGUER, ROSARIO BERENGUER-LANDERS, and REMEDIOS BERENGUERLINTAG / G.R. No. 154094, March 9, 2010 / FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: CIVIL LAW / LAND TITLES / INCLUSIONS OR EXCLUSIONS IN/FROM THE COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM PROGRAM (pursuant to RA 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law or CARL) F: Respondents were the registered owners of several residential and industrial lands in Sorsogon. They received from the DAR notices of coverage of their said landholdings by the Government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, or CARL). They protested the notices of coverage, in the office of the DAR Regional Director Percival Dalugdug (RD Dalugdug) for Legaspi City, through an application for exclusion of their landholdings from CARP coverage, and praying for the lifting of the notices of coverage. In October and November 1998, the DAR Secretary, without acting on the respondents’ application for exclusion, cancelled their titles and issued certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs), covering their landholdings, to the members of the Baribag Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Cooperative (Baribag), not to the respondents’ workers on the landholdings, although Baribag was not impleaded in the respondents’ application for exclusion. RD Dalugdug denied respondents’ application for exclusion. Thus, the latter appealed the denial to the DAR Secretary.Pending resolution of respondents’ appeal to the DAR Secretary, Baribag filed in the office of DAR Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (RARAD) for Legaspi City, Isabel Florin (RARAD Florin), a petition seeking to implement the order of the RD. RARAD Florin then issued an implementing writ placing Baribag in possession of respondents’ landholdings and denied their MR. Respondents’ appeal before the DAR Adjudication Board was likewise denied and the RARAD eventually issued the writ of possession sought by Baribag, prompting respondents to file a petition for certiorari before the CA, which court treated such petition as a petition for review. Respondents’ petition maintained that the DAR Secretary had no jurisdiction over their landholdings, which were outside the coverage of the CARL due to their being originally devoted to pasture and livestock raising, and later being already classified as residential and industrial lands; that as early as 1981, the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board had classified their landholdings as residential and industrial lands. The DAR, however, asserted that the presence of heads of large cattle in respondents’ landholdings was not a sufficient ground to consider the landholdings as being used
for raising livestock.For its part, Baribag claimed that the DAR Inspection Team had found that respondents’ landholdings were not devoted to cattle raising, and that the latter’s tax declarations stating that the landholdings were pasture lands were "contrived." The CA granted the petition, and reversed the DAR Secretaryorder, setting aside the writs of execution and possession issued by the RARAD; ordered the cancellation of Baribag’s CLOAs; and directed the DAR Secretary to restore the respondents in the possession of their landholdings.Hence, this appeal. I1: Whether the CA erred in not dismissing respondents’ erroneously filed petition for certiorari, and in treating the petition instead as a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court and ultimately resolving the petition in the respondents’ favor. H1: NO. The petition has no merit. The CA did not err in treating the petition for certiorari as a petition for review. There are precedents in that regard. In Department of Education v. Cuanan, this Court ruled that the petition for certiorari filed by therein respondent Cuanan with the CA within the 15-day reglementary period for filing a petition for review could be treated as a petition for review, for that would be in accord with the liberal spirit pervading the Rules of Court and in the interest of substantial justice. The Court had occasion to expound on the exceptions to the rule that a recourse to a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 rendered the petition dismissible for being the wrong remedy, thus: The remedy of an aggrieved party from a resolution issued by the CSC is to file a petition for review thereof under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court within fifteen days from notice of the resolution. Recourse to a petition for certiorariunder Rule 65 renders the petition dismissible for being the wrong remedy. Nonetheless, there are exceptions to this rule, to wit: (a) when public welfare and the advancement of public policy dictates; (b) when the broader interest of justice so requires; (c) when the writs issued are null and void; or (d) when the questioned order amounts to an oppressive exercise of judicial authority. As will be shown forthwith, exception (c) applies to the present case. Furthermore, while a motion for reconsideration is a condition precedent to the filing of a petition for certiorari, immediate recourse to the extraordinary remedy of certiorari is warranted where the order is a patent nullity, as where the court a quo has no jurisdiction; where petitioner was deprived of due process and there is extreme urgency for relief; where the proceedings in the lower court are a nullity for lack of due process; where the proceeding was ex parte or one in which the petitioner had no opportunity to object. These exceptions find application to Cuanan's petition for certiorari in the CA. At any rate, Cuanan’s petition for certiorari before the CA could be treated as a petition for review, the petition having been filed on November 22, 2004, or thirteen (13) days from receipt on November 9, 2004 of CSC Resolution No. 041147, clearly within the 15-day reglementary period for the filing of a petition for review. Such move would be in accordance with the liberal spirit pervading the Rules of Court and in the interest of substantial justice.." As will be demonstrated hereafter, exception (c), as recogized in Department of Education v. Cuanan, is applicable herein. I2: Whether the CA was correct in ruling that respondents’ landholdings were exempt from the coverage of the CARP for not being agricultural, and were presumed due to their being part of the poblacion to have been reclassified into residential/commercial or non-agricultural area pursuant to Resolution No. 5, series of 1981, of the Sangguniang Bayan of Sorsogon, Sorsogon. H2: YES.Respondents’’ landholdings were not subject to CARP. The CA correctly clarified that respondents’ landholdings, even if they were not devoted to cattle raising, would still be excluded from the coverage of the CARL, because the DAR failed to establish that the landholdings were agricultural. A resolution passed in 1981 by the Sangguniang Bayan of Sorsogon, Sorsogon, showed that the limits of the poblacion area of the municipality included Barangay
Bibincahan, where the respondents’ landholdings were situated. The significance of this fact cannot be overstated, for, thereby, the respondents’ landholdings were presumed to be industrial and residential lands. Jurisprudence has been clear about the presumption. In Hilario v. Intermediate Appellate Court, the Court said: The presumption assumed by the appellate court that a parcel of land which is located in a poblacion is not necessarily devoted to residential purposes is wrong. It should be the other way around. A lot inside the poblacion should be presumed residential, or commercial, or non-agricultural unless there is a clearly preponderant evidence to show that it is agricultural. To the same effect was Natalia Realty Corporation v. DAR, thus: We now determine whether such lands are covered by the CARL. Section 4 of R.A. 6657 provides that the CARL shall "cover, regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced, all public and private agricultural lands." As to what constitutes "agricultural land," it is referred to as "land devoted to agricultural activity as defined in this Act and not classified as mineral, forest, residential, commercial or industrial land." The deliberations of the Constitutional Commission confirm this limitation. "Agricultural lands" are only those lands which are "arable and suitable agricultural lands" and "do not include commercial, industrial and residential lands. There is no dispute that as early as 1981, the respondents’ landholdings have been part of the poblacion of Sorsogon, Sorsogon. Consistent with Hilario and Natalia, holding that the respondents’ landholdings were non-agricultural, and, consequently, outside the coverage of the CARL, was fully warranted. In fact, the excerpt from the Comprehensive Development Plan of Sorsogon, Sorsogon showed that Barangay Bibincahan was within the Central Business District of the municipality. I3: Whether there was an error in the selection and designation of the farmer beneficiaries of the landholdings. H3: There was NONE. The CA correctly concluded that the DAR erred in designating Baribag as the beneficiary of the landholdings. In designating Baribag, the DAR did not show how its choice of Baribag as beneficiary, to the exclusion of the actual workers, could have accorded with Section 22 of the CARL, which provides: Section 22. Qualified Beneficiaries. — The lands covered by the CARP shall be distributed as much as possible to landless residents of the same barangay, or in the absence thereof, landless residents of the same municipality in the following order of priority: (a) agricultural lessees and share tenants; (b) regular farmworkers; (c) seasonal farmworkers; (d) other farmworkers; (e) actual tillers or occupants of public lands; (f) collectives or cooperatives of the above beneficiaries; and (g) others directly working on the land. Provided, however, that the children of landowners who are qualified under Section 6 of this Act shall be given preference in the distribution of the land of their parents: and provided, further, that actual tenant-tillers in the landholdings shall not be ejected or removed therefrom. Beneficiaries under Presidential Decree No. 27 who have culpably sold, disposed of, or abandoned their land are disqualified to become beneficiaries under this Program. A basic qualification of a beneficiary shall be his willingness, aptitude, and ability to cultivate and make the land as productive as possible. The DAR shall adopt a system of monitoring the record or performance of each beneficiary, so that any beneficiary guilty of negligence or misuse of the land or any support extended to him shall forfeit his right to continue as such beneficiary. The DAR shall submit periodic reports on the performance of the beneficiaries to the PARC.
If, due to the landowner’s retention rights or to the number of tenants, lessees, or workers on the land, there is not enough land to accommodate any or some of them, they may be granted ownership of other lands available for distribution under this Act, at the option of the beneficiaries. Farmers already in place and those not accommodated in the distribution of privatelyowned lands will be given preferential rights in the distribution of lands from the public domain. The only reason given by the DAR for not including the workers of the landholdings as farmer beneficiaries was that "it could be that either they have manifested lack/loss of interest in the property, as it has happened in many other areas placed under CARP coverage, because of their loyalty to the original landowner, like respondents, or because of fear or, simply, they refused to heed/answer the call of our field offices to submit to the screening process."15 Such reason is unacceptable. The CARL has set forth in mandatory terms in its Section 22, supra, who should be the qualified beneficiaries, but the DAR did not strictly comply with the law. Instead, the DAR excluded such workers based on its speculation and conjecture on why the actual workers on the landholdings had not shown interest and had not responded to the call of the DAR field officers during the screening process. As such, the DAR did not really determine who were the lawful beneficiaries, failing even to present any documentary proof that showed that the respondents’ workers genuinely lacked interest to be considered beneficiaries of the landholdings, or refused to subject themselves to the screening process. There was also no evidence presented to justify that Baribag was a qualified beneficiary within the context of Section 22 of the CARL, and be entitled to be awarded the landholdings. SC PP: In fine, the appeal of the DAR cannot prosper. The CA properly acted in reversing and undoing the DAR’s several violations of the letter and spirit of the CARL. It is timely to stress that the noble purpose of the CARL to emancipate the tenants from the bondage of the soil and to transfer to them the ownership of the lands they till should not be the guise to trample upon the landowners’ rights by including lands that are unquestionably outside the coverage of the CARL. Neither should such noble intention be frustrated by designating beneficiaries who are neither the tenants or tillers of the land, nor otherwise qualified under the law to be the beneficiaries of land reform.
JUDGE JUANITA T. GUERRERO vs. TERESITA V. ONG A.M. No. P-09-2676, December 16, 2009/ FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: POLITICAL LAW / LAW OF PUBLIC OFFICERS / CIVIL SERVICE LAW / GRAVE MISCONDUCT AS GRAVE OFFENSE WARRANTS THE PENALTY OF DISMISSAL F: Litigant Reynaldo N. Garcia, a plaintiff in a civil case, brought an administrative complaint against Judge Juanita T. Guerrero, Presiding Judge of Branch 204 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Muntinlupa City, charging her with bias and irregularities in relation to her disposition of the application for a writ of preliminary prohibitory and mandatory injunction in said case.Answering Garcia’s administrative complaint, Judge Guerrero incorporated a formal charge for improper conduct against respondent Teresita V. Ong, Court Stenographer of Branch 260, RTC, in Parañaque City, which is now the subject matter of this decision. Therein, Judge Guerrero insisted that any acts of impropriety relative to the civil case had been committed by Ong, a tenant of Garcia, who had gone to her chambers on several occasions in the guise of making a courtesy call on her, and had then discussed the merits of the case with her; that Ong had engaged in name-dropping to urge her to resolve in favor of Garcia; that Ong had attended the hearings of the case in her Supreme Court uniform; and that Ong had told her Acting Branch Clerk of Court that she (Judge Guerrero) "(had) received consideration from the defendants."
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCAd) found that Judge Guerrero had committed no act of impropriety, and recommended that the complaint against said judge be dismissed for lack of merit, with a reminder to her to exercise caution in her utterances. Meanwhile, Consultant of OCAd, retired Justice Narciso T. Atienza found that Ong was guilty of grave misconduct, for using her official position as a court employee to secure benefits for Garcia. I: On court employee’s use of official position to secure benefits. H: All court personnel, from the lowliest employees to the clerks of court, are involved in the dispensation of justice like judges and justices, and parties seeking redress from the courts for grievances look upon them also as part of the Judiciary. In performing their duties and responsibilities, court personnel serve as sentinels of justice, that any act of impropriety they commit immeasurably affects the honor and dignity of the Judiciary and the people's confidence in the Judiciary. They are, therefore, expected to act and behave in a manner that should uphold the honor and dignity of the Judiciary, if only to maintain the people’s confidence in the Judiciary. A court employee is not prohibited from helping individuals in the course of performing her official duties, but her actions cannot be left unchecked when the help extended puts under suspicion the integrity of the Judiciary.Indeed, she is strictly instructed not to use her official position to secure unwarranted benefits, privileges, or exemptions for herself or for others.The evident purpose of the instruction is precisely to free the court employees from suspicion of misconduct. Ong did not comply with the instruction. Instead, she used her official position as an employee of the Judiciary to attempt to influence Judge Guerrero to rule in favor of litigant Garcia, her landlord. She was thereby guilty of misconduct, defined as a transgression of some established or definite rule of action; or, more particularly, an unlawful behavior on the part of a public officer or employee. Her misconduct was grave, which the Court explains in Imperial v. Santiago,viz: Misconduct is a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by the public officer. To warrant dismissal from the service, the misconduct must be grave, serious, important, weighty, momentous and not trifling. The misconduct must imply wrongful intention and not a mere error of judgment. The misconduct must also have a direct relation to and be connected with the performance of his official duties amounting either to maladministration or willful, intentional neglect or failure to discharge the duties of the office. There must also be reliable evidence showing that the judicial acts complained of were corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate the law. In grave misconduct, as distinguished from simple misconduct, the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of established rule must be manifest. Corruption as an element of grave misconduct consists in the act of an official or employee who unlawfully or wrongfully uses her station or character to procure some benefit for herself or for another, contrary to the rights of others. It is established herein that Ong knowingly and corruptly tried to influence Judge Guerrero to favor Garcia in the latter’s pending civil action. Ong’s grave misconduct was a grave offense that deserved the penalty of dismissal for the first offense pursuant to Sec. 52, A, of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. However, there being no record of her having previously committed a similar offense, the penalty of suspension of one year without pay and a fine of P20,000.00, coupled with a warning that a repetition shall be dealt with more severely, is just and proper. The penalty is commensurate with the penalty meted in Salazar v. Barriga, whereby the Court imposed on a sheriff found guilty of grave misconduct the penalty of suspension of one year without pay and a fine of P20,000.00, upon considering the length of his government service as a mitigating circumstance.
ELIGIO P. MALLARI vs. GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM (GSIS) and THE PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF PAMPANGA G.R. No. 157659, January 25, 2010 / FIRST DIVISION TOPIC(s): REMEDIAL LAW / SPECIAL CIVIL ACTIONS / PETITION FOR CERTIORARI / PERIOD TO FILE / INDRECT CONTEMPT LEGAL ETHICS / PROBLEM AREAS IN LEGAL ETHICS / CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY F:In 1968, the petitioner obtained two loans totaling P34,000.00 from respondent Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). To secure the performance of his obligations, he mortgaged two parcels of land registered under his and his wife Marcelina Mallari’s names. However, he paid GSIS about ten years after contracting the obligations only P10,000.00 on May 22, 1978 and P20,000.00 on August 11, 1978. Nearly three years later (1984), GSIS applied for the extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgage by reason of his failure to settle his account. Petitioner requested an updated computation of his outstanding account, and persuaded the sheriff to hold the publication of the foreclosure notice in abeyance, to await action on his pending request for final accounting (that is, taking his payments of P30,000.00 made in 1978 into account). As petitioner made no further payments despite GSIS’s compliance with his request to provide detailed copies of his statement of account, GSIS finally commenced the extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings. Petitioner sued GSIS and the Provincial Sheriff of Pampanga in the Regional Trial Court (RTC), ostensibly to enjoin them from proceeding against him for injunction (with an application for preliminary injunction). The RTC decided in his favor, nullifying the extrajudicial foreclosure and auction sale and cancelling Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) already issued in the name of GSIS resulting in the reinstatement of the titles in the names of petitioner and his wife. On appeal, the CA reversed the RTC. The SC denied petitioner’s petition for review on certiorari and turned down his MR. The CA decision became final and executory, rendering unassailable both extrajudicial foreclosure and auction sale in 1986 and the corresponding issuance of TCTs in the name of GSIS. RTC issued a writ of execution cum writ of possession, on motion by the GSIS, ordering then Sheriff to place GSIS in possession of the subject properties. GSIS, meanwhile, acceded to petitioner’s request for an extension of time within which to vacate the properties. Yet, petitioner did not voluntarily vacate the properties, but instead filed a motion for reconsideration and/or to quash the writ of execution. Petitioner commenced a second case against GSIS and the provincial sheriff in the RTC in San Fernando, Pampanga for consignation (coupled with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order). However, the RTC dismissed the same on the ground of res judicata, impelling petitioner to appeal the dismissal to the CA. He likewise filed motions to hold GSIS et al in contempt of court for painting the fence of the properties during the pendency of his motion for reconsideration and/or to quash the writ of execution, and against the entity’s local manager for ordering the electric company to cut off the electric services to the properties during the pendency of the abovementioned motions. The original presiding judge, was inhibited from resolving the case, for alleged partiality towards the petitioner as borne out by his failure to act on the aforementioned motions for more than a year from their filing. With the new presiding judge, motions for contempt of court (and later on petitioner’s MR) were denied and the writ of execution cum writ of possession was re-implemented. By petition for review on certiorari, the petitioner appeals the decision promulgated in March 2003, whereby the CA dismissed his petition for certiorari. I1: Whether the CA correctly dismissed Mallari’s petition for certiorari. H1: YES. The Petition for Certiorari in CA was filed beyond the reglementary period. The July 30, 2001 order denied the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration and/or to
quash writ of execution, and motion to hold GSIS, Tony Dimatulac, et al. and Arnulfo Cardenas in contempt; and declared GSIS’s motion for issuance of break open order and for designation of special sheriff from GSIS Legal Services Group as premature. In turn, the motion for reconsideration and/or to quash writ of execution denied by the order of July 30, 2001 had merely challenged the orders of October 8, 1999 and October 21, 1999 (granting the writ of execution cum writ of possession as a matter of course). Considering that the motion for reconsideration dated August 17, 2001 denied by the order dated February 11, 2002 was in reality and effect a prohibited second motion for reconsideration vis-à-vis the orders dated October 21, 1999 and October 8, 1999, the assailed orders dated July 30, 2001, October 21, 1999, and October 8, 1999 could no longer be subject to attack by certiorari. Thus, the petition for certiorari filed only in March 2002 was already improper and tardy for being made beyond the 60-day limitation defined in Section 4, Rule 65, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, which requires a petition for certiorari to be filed "not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution," or, in case a motion for reconsideration or new trial is timely filed, whether such motion is required or not, "the sixty (60) day period shall be counted from notice of the denial of the said motion." It is worth emphasizing that the 60-day limitation is considered inextendible, because the limitation has been prescribed to avoid any unreasonable delay that violates the constitutional rights of parties to a speedy disposition of their cases. I2: Nature of the writ of possession and its ministerial issuance vis-à-vis petitioner’s claim that he had not been notified of the motion seeking the issuance of the same. H2: The court can neither halt nor hesitate to issue the writ of possession. It cannot exercise any discretion to determine whether or not to issue the writ, for the issuance of the writ to the purchaser in an extrajudicial foreclosure sale becomes a ministerial function. Verily, a marked distinction exists between a discretionary act and a ministerial one. A purely ministerial act or duty is one that an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done. If the law imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives him the right to decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such duty is discretionary, not ministerial. The duty is ministerial only when its discharge requires neither the exercise of official discretion nor the exercise of judgment. The proceeding upon an application for a writ of possession is ex parte and summary in nature, brought for the benefit of one party only and without notice being sent by the court to any person adverse in interest. The relief is granted even without giving an opportunity to be heard to the person against whom the relief is sought. Its nature as an ex parte petition under Act No. 3135, as amended, renders the application for the issuance of a writ of possession a non-litigious proceeding. I3: Whether petitioner has the right to challenge the issuance of the writ of execution cum writ of possession upon the ex parte application of GSIS. H3: The SC sustained the CA, and confirmed that the petitioner, as defaulting mortgagor, was not entitled under Act 3135, as amended, and its pertinent jurisprudence to any prior notice of the application for the issuance of the writ of possession. A writ of possession, which commands the sheriff to place a person in possession of real property, may be issued in: (1) land registration proceedings under Section 17 of Act No. 496; (2) judicial foreclosure, provided the debtor is in possession of the mortgaged property, and no third person, not a party to the foreclosure suit, had intervened; (3) extrajudicial foreclosure of a real estate mortgage, pending redemption under Section 7 of Act No. 3135, as amended by Act No. 4118; and (4) execution sales,
pursuant to the last paragraph of Section 33, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. Anent the redemption of property sold in an extrajudicial foreclosure sale made pursuant to the special power referred to in Section 1 of Act No. 3135, as amended, the debtor, his successor-in-interest, or any judicial creditor or judgment creditor of said debtor, or any person having a lien on the property subsequent to the mortgage or deed of trust under which the property is sold has the right to redeem the property at anytime within the term of one year from and after the date of the sale, such redemption to be governed by the provisions of Section 464 to Section 466 of the Code of Civil Procedure, to the extent that said provisions were not inconsistent with the provisions of Act 3135. In this regard, the SC clarified that the redemption period envisioned under Act 3135 is reckoned from the date of the registration of the sale, not from and after the date of the sale, as the text of Act 3135 shows. Clearly, a non-redeeming mortgagor like the petitioner had no more right to challenge the issuance of the writ of execution cum writ of possession upon the ex parte application of GSIS. He could not also impugn anymore the extrajudicial foreclosure, and could not undo the consolidation in GSIS of the ownership of the properties, which consolidation was already irreversible. Hence, petitioner’s moves against the writ of execution cum writ of possession were tainted by bad faith, for he was only too aware, being his own lawyer, of the dire consequences of his nonredemption within the period provided by law for that purpose. I4: Whether the dismissal of petitioner’s motion for indirect contempt was proper and in accord with the Rules of Court. H4: YES. The petitioner’s insistence on the matter is plainly unwarranted. First of all, Section 4, Rule 71, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, provides as follows: Section 4. How proceedings commenced. — Proceedings for indirect contempt may be initiated motuproprio by the court against which the contempt was committed by an order or any other formal charge requiring the respondent to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt. In all other cases, charges for indirect contempt shall be commenced by a verified petition with supporting particulars and certified true copies of documents or papers involved therein, and upon full compliance with the requirements for filing initiatory pleadings for civil actions in the court concerned. If the contempt charges arose out of or are related to a principal action pending in the court, the petition for contempt shall allege that fact but said petition shall be docketed, heard and decided separately, unless the court in its discretion orders the consolidation of the contempt charge and the principal action for joint hearing and decision. (n)
Indeed, a person may be charged with indirect contempt only by either of two alternative ways, namely: (1) by a verified petition, if initiated by a party; or (2) by an order or any other formal charge requiring the respondent to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt, if made by a court against which the contempt is committed. In short, a charge of indirect contempt must be initiated through a verified petition, unless the charge is directly made by the court against which the contemptuous act is committed. Justice Regalado has explained why the requirement of the filing of a verified petition for contempt is mandatory: 1. This new provision clarifies with a regulatory norm the proper procedure for commencing contempt proceedings. While such proceeding has been classified as a special civil action under the former Rules, the heterogeneous practice, tolerated by the courts, has been for any party to file a mere motion without paying any docket or lawful fees therefor and without complying with the requirements for initiatory pleadings, which is now required in the second paragraph of this amended section. Worse, and as a consequence of unregulated motions for contempt, said incidents sometimes remain pending for resolution although the main case has already been decided. There are other undesirable aspects but, at any rate, the same may now be eliminated by this amendatory procedure. Henceforth, except for indirect contempt proceedings initiated motuproprio by
order of or a formal charge by the offended court, all charges shall be commenced by a verified petition with full compliance with the requirements therefor and shall be disposed of in accordance with the second paragraph of this section. (Emphasis supplied). Clearly, the petitioner’s charging GSIS, et al. with indirect contempt by mere motions was not permitted by the Rules of Court. And, secondly, even assuming that charges for contempt could be initiated by motion, the petitioner should have tendered filing fees. The need to tender filing fees derived from the fact that the procedure for indirect contempt under Rule 71, Rules of Court was an independent special civil action. Yet, the petitioner did not tender and pay filing fees, resulting in the trial court not acquiring jurisdiction over the action. Truly, the omission to tender filing fees would have also warranted the dismissal of the charges. It seems to be indubitable from the foregoing that the petitioner initiated the charges for indirect contempt without regard to the requisites of the Rules of Court simply to vex the adverse party. He thereby disrespected the orderly administration of justice and committed, yet again, an abuse of procedures. I5: Whether petitioner was guilty of misconduct as a lawyer. H5: YES. The petition for certiorari brought by the petitioner to the CA was "part of the dilatory tactics of the petitioner to stall the execution of a final and executory decision in Civil Case No. 7802 which has already been resolved with finality by “the SC” Verily, the petitioner adopted his worthless and vexatious legal maneuvers for no other purpose except to delay the full enforcement of the writ of possession, despite knowing, being himself a lawyer, that as a non-redeeming mortgagor he could no longer impugn both the extrajudicial foreclosure and the ex parte issuance of the writ of execution cum writ of possession; and that the enforcement of the duly-issued writ of possession could not be delayed. He thus deliberately abused court procedures and processes, in order to enable himself to obstruct and stifle the fair and quick administration of justice in favor of mortgagee and purchaser GSIS. His conduct contravened Rule 10.03, Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, by which he was enjoined as a lawyer to "observe the rules of procedure and xxx not [to] misuse them to defeat the ends of justice." By his dilatory moves, he further breached and dishonored his Lawyer’s Oath 26 We stress that the petitioner’s being the party litigant himself did not give him the license to resort to dilatory moves. His zeal to defend whatever rights he then believed he had and to promote his perceived remaining interests in the property already lawfully transferred to GSIS should not exceed the bounds of the law, for he remained at all times an officer of the Court burdened to conduct himself "with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [his] clients." His true obligation as a lawyer should not be warped by any misplaced sense of his rights and interests as a litigant, because he was, above all, bound not to unduly delay a case, not to impede the execution of a judgment, and not to misuse Court processes. Consequently, he must be made to account for his misconduct as a lawyer.
26 xxx I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients xxx
TEOFISTO OÑO, PRECY O. NAMBATAC, VICTORIA O. MANUGAS and POLOR O. CONSOLACION vs.VICENTE N. LIM / G.R. No. 154270, March 9, 2010 / FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: CIVIL LAW / LAND TITLES / PRESCRIPTION F: On October 23, 1992, Lim filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Cebu City a petition for the reconstitution of the owner’s duplicate copy of an original certificate of title (OCT) alleging that the same had been lost during World War II by his mother, Luisa. The subject lot[covered by said OCT] had been sold in 1937 to Luisa by Spouses Diego Oño and Estefania Apas (Spouses Oño), the lot’s registered owners. Lim further alleges that although deed evidencing the sale had been lost without being registered, Antonio Oño (Antonio), the only legitimate heir of Spouses Oño, had executed on April 23, 1961 in favor of Luisa, a confirmation of sale which was duly filed in the Provincial Assessor’s Office of Cebu. Zosimo Oño and petitioner Teofisto Oño (Oños) opposed Lim’s petition, contending that they had the certificate of title in their possession as the successors-in-interest of Spouses Oño.Lim converted the petition for reconstitution into a complaint for quieting of title,averring additionally that he and his predecessor-in-interest had been in actual possession of the property since 1937, cultivating and developing it, enjoying its fruits, and paying the taxes corresponding to it. The RTC rendered a judgment finding for the Lims, concluding, among others, that the latter had been in peaceful possession of the land since 1937, and that their possession had never been disturbed by the Oños and thus, directing the Register of Deeds of Cebu to register the subject lot in favor of Luisa Lim. On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC, ruling that the action for quieting of title was not a collateral, but a direct attack on the title, and that the Lims’ undisturbed possession had given them a continuing right to seek the aid of the courts to determine the nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on their own title. Hence, this appeal via petition for review on certiorari. I1: Whether respondent’s action for quieting of title should be disallowed, citing Section 48 of PD No. 1529, as it constitutes a collateral attack on the title. H1: NO. The petitioners’ contention is not well taken. An action or proceeding is deemed an attack on a title when its objective is to nullify the title, thereby challenging the judgment pursuant to which the title was decreed.The attack is direct when the objective is to annul or set aside such judgment, or enjoin its enforcement. On the other hand, the attack is indirect or collateral when, in an action to obtain a different relief, an attack on the judgment is nevertheless made as an incident thereof. Quieting of title is a common law remedy for the removal of any cloud, doubt, or uncertainty affecting title to real property. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest in real property by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding that is apparently valid or effective, but is, in truth and in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title, an action may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title. In such action, the competent court is tasked to determine the respective rights of the complainant and the other claimants, not only to place things in their proper places, and to make the claimant, who has no rights to said immovable, respect and not disturb the one so entitled, but also for the benefit of both, so that whoever has the right will see every cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he can thereafter fearlessly introduce the improvements he may desire, as well as use, and even abuse the property as he deems fit. Lim’s averments in the complaint showed that the action was neither a direct nor a collateral attack on OCT, for Lim was asserting only that the existing title registered in the name of the petitioners’ predecessors had become inoperative due to the conveyance in favor of Lim’s mother, and resultantly should be cancelled. Lim did not thereby assail the validity of OCT, or challenge the judgment by which the title of the lot involved had been decreed. In other words, the action sought the removal of a cloud from Lim’s title, and the confirmation of Lim’s ownership over the disputed
property as the successor-in-interest of Luisa. I2: Whether or not the ownership over the registered land subject of the case could be lost by prescription, laches, or adverse possession. H2: NO. Prescription was not relevant. Petitioners’ assertion that the lot, being titled in the name of their predecessors-in-interest, could not be acquired by prescription or adverse possession, is unwarranted. Prescription, in general, is a mode of acquiring or losing ownership and other real rights through the lapse of time in the manner and under the conditions laid down by law. However, prescription was not relevant to the determination of the dispute herein, considering that Lim did not base his right of ownership on an adverse possession over a certain period. He insisted herein, instead, that title to the land had been voluntarily transferred by the registered owners themselves to Luisa, his predecessor-in-interest. Lim showed that his mother had derived a just title to the property by virtue of sale; that from the time Luisa had acquired the property in 1937, she had taken over its possession in the concept of an owner, and had performed her obligation by paying real property taxes on the property, as evidenced by tax declarations issued in her name; and that in view of the delivery of the property, coupled with Luisa’s actual occupation of it, all that remained to be done was the issuance of a new transfer certificate of title in her name.
SULPICIO LINES, INC. vs. DOMINGO E. CURSO, LUCIA E. CURSO, MELECIO E. CURSO, SEGUNDO E. CURSO, VIRGILIO E. CURSO, DIOSDADA E. CURSO, and CECILIA E. CURSO / G.R. No. 157009, March 17, 2010 / FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: CIVIL LAW / KINDS OF DAMAGES / MORAL DAMAGES F: Herein respondents, allegedly the surviving brothers and sisters of Dr. Cenon E. Curso, sued petitioner in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Naval, Biliran to claim damages based on breach of contract of carriage by sea, averring that petitioner Sulpicio Lines, Inc. had acted negligently in transporting Dr. Curso and the other passengers whose bodies, later on, were no longer recovered. Dr. Curso, was one of the passengers boarding MV Doña Marilyn, an inter-island vessel owned and operated by petitioner bound for Tacloban City, which sank in the afternoon of October 24, 1988 while at sea due to the inclement sea and weather conditions brought about by Typhoon Unsang. Respondents prayed for moral damages, stating among others, that their parents had predeceased Dr. Curso, who died single and without issue; and that, as such, they were Dr. Curso’s surviving heirs and successors in interest entitled to recover such moral and other damages. The RTC, however, dismissed the complaint upon a finding that force majeure had caused the sinking. While the Court of Appeals (CA), in its decision reversing the RTC’s ruling, awarded moral and other damages to respondents. I1: Whether the brothers and sisters of a deceased passenger in a case of breach of contract of carriage, entitled to an award of moral damages against the carrier. H1: NO. As a general rule, moral damages are not recoverable in actions for damages predicated on a breach of contract, unless there is fraud or bad faith. As an exception, moral damages may be awarded in case of breach of contract of carriage that results in the death of a passenger, in accordance with Article 1764, in relation to Article 2206 (3), of the Civil Code, which provide: Article 1764. Damages in cases comprised in this Section shall be awarded in accordance with Title XVIII of this Book, concerning Damages. Article 2206 shall also apply to the death of a passenger caused by the
breach of contract by a common carrier. Article 2206. The amount of damages for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict shall be at least three thousand pesos, even though there may have been mitigating circumstances. In addition: x xx (3) The spouse, legitimate and illegitimate descendants and ascendants of the deceased may demand moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased. x xx
The foregoing legal provisions set forth the persons entitled to moral damages. The omission from Article 2206 (3) of the brothers and sisters of the deceased passenger reveals the legislative intent to exclude them from the recovery of moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased. Inclusiouniusestexclusioalterius. The solemn power and duty of the courts to interpret and apply the law do not include the power to correct the law by reading into it what is not written therein. Thus, the CA erred in awarding moral damages to the respondents. I2: Assuming (that) they are entitled to claim moral damages, should the award be granted or given to the brother or sister notwithstanding (the) lack of evidence as regards his or her personal suffering? H2: NO. Petitioner has correctly relied on the ruling in Receiver for North Negros Sugar Company, Inc. v. Ybañez,to the effect that in case of death caused by quasi-delict, the brother of the deceased was not entitled to the award of moral damages based on Article 2206 of the Civil Code. Essentially, the purpose of moral damages is indemnity or reparation, that is, to enable the injured party to obtain the means, diversions, or amusements that will serve to alleviate the moral suffering he has undergone by reason of the tragic event. According to Villanueva v. Salvador, the conditions for awarding moral damages are: (a) there must be an injury, whether physical, mental, or psychological, clearly substantiated by the claimant; (b) there must be a culpable act or omission factually established; (c) the wrongful act or omission of the defendant must be the proximate cause of the injury sustained by the claimant; and (d) the award of damages is predicated on any of the cases stated in Article 2219 of the Civil Code. To be entitled to moral damages, the respondents must have a right based upon law. It is true that under Article 1003 of the Civil Code they succeeded to the entire estate of the late Dr. Curso in the absence of the latter’s descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, and surviving spouse. However, they were not included among the persons entitled to recover moral damages, as enumerated in Article 2219 of the Civil Code, viz: Article 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases: (1) A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries; (2) Quasi-delicts causing physical injuries; (3) Seduction, abduction, rape or other lascivious acts; (4) Adultery or concubinage; (5) Illegal or arbitrary detention or arrest; (6) Illegal search; (7) Libel, slander or any other form of defamation; (8) Malicious prosecution; (9) Acts mentioned in article 309; (10) Acts and actions referred to in articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34 and 35.
The parents of the female seduced, abducted, raped or abused referred to in No. 3 of this article, may also recover moral damages. The spouse, descendants, ascendants and brothers and sisters may bring the action mentioned in No. 9 of this article, in the order named.1avvphi1 Article 2219 circumscribes the instances in which moral damages may be awarded. The provision does not include succession in the collateral line as a source of the right to recover moral damages. The usage of the phrase analogous cases in the provision means simply that the situation must be held similar to those expressly enumerated in the law in question following the ejusdem generis rule. Hence, Article 1003 of the Civil Code is not concerned with recovery of moral damages. In fine, moral damages may be recovered in an action upon breach of contract of carriage only when: (a) where death of a passenger results, or (b) it is proved that
the carrier was guilty of fraud and bad faith, even if death does not result. Article 2206 of the Civil Code entitles the descendants, ascendants, illegitimate children, and surviving spouse of the deceased passenger to demand moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased.
LOURDES B. FERRER and PROSPERIDAD M. ARANDEZ, Complainants, vs. JUDGE ROMEO A. RABACA, Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 25, Manila, Respondent. A.M. No. MTJ-05-1580, October 6, 2010 (Third Division) MAIN TOPIC: REMEDIAL LAW/Civil Procedure/Immediate Execution of Judgment F: The complainants were the President and the Executive Director of the plaintiff in an ejectment suit. The respondent Judge rendered decision in favor of the plaintiff. Then a motion for immediate execution was filed by the plaintiff’s counsel, which was denied by the respondent Judge stating that a Notice of Appeal have been seasonably filed by counsel for the defendant and ordered the elevation of the records to the appellate court, thus, his court already lost jurisdiction over the case. I1:: Whether or not respondent Judge erred when he did not act on complainant’s motion for immediate execution. H2: YES. Section 19, Rule 70 of the 1997 Revised Rules on Civil Procedure provides: "SEC. 19. If judgment is rendered against the defendant, execution shall issue immediately upon motion, unless an appeal has been perfected and the defendant to stay execution files a supersedeas bond, approved by the Municipal Trial Court and executed in favor of the plaintiff to pay the rents, damages, and costs accruing down to the time of the judgment appealed from, and unless, during the pendency of the appeal, he deposits with the appellate court the amount of rent due from time to time under the contract, if any, as determined by the judgment of the Municipal Trial Court. XXXX XXXXXXXX." It is clear from the foregoing that the perfection of an appeal by itself is not sufficient to stay the execution of the judgment in an ejectment case. The losing party should likewise file a supersedeas bond executed in favor of the plaintiff to answer for rents, damages and costs, and, if the judgment of the court requires it, he should likewise deposit the amount of the rent before the appellate court from the time during the pendency of the appeal. Otherwise, execution becomes ministerial and imperative. 27 From the foregoing, it is clear that when the complainant moved for the immediate execution of Judge Rabaca’s decision, the latter still had jurisdiction over the case. He therefore clearly erred when he refused to act on the Motion for Execution. Respondent Judge should have granted the plaintiff’s motion for immediate execution considering that the defendant did not file the sufficient supersedeas bond despite having appealed. Granting the plaintiff’s motion for immediate execution became his ministerial duty upon the defendant’s failure to file the sufficient supersedeas bond. I2:: Whether or not such error is an error of judgment or an error amounting to incompetence that calls for administrative discipline. H2: Under A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC, ‘Gross Ignorance of the Law or Procedure’ classified as serious offense for which the imposable penalty ranges from a fine dismissal. However, the Court finds respondent’s acts not ingrained with malice bad faith. It is a matter of public policy that in the absence of fraud, dishonesty Philippine Holding Corporation vs. Valenzuela, 104 SCRA 401 as cited in Hualam Construction and Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 214 SCRA 612, 626 27
is to or or
corrupt motive, the acts of a judge in his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action even though such acts are erroneous. SC PP: A rule as clear and explicit as Section 19 could not be misread or misapplied, but should be implemented without evasion or hesitation. To us, good faith, or honest belief, or lack of malice, or lack of bad faith justifies a noncompliance only when there is an as-yet unsettled doubt on the meaning or applicability of a rule or legal provision.
FRANCISCO ALONSO, substituted by MERCEDES V. ALONSO, TOMAS V. ALONSO and ASUNCION V. ALONSO, Petitioners, vs. CEBU COUNTRY CLUB, INC., Respondent, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL, Public Respondent. G.R. No. 188471, April 20, 2010 (First Division) MAIN TOPIC: CIVIL LAW/PROPERTY/Land Titles and Deeds/Friar Lands SUB TOPIC: REMEDIAL LAW/Appeal by Certiorari F: Francisco discovered documents showing that his late father, Tomas Alonso, had acquired Lot No. 727 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate from the Government in 1911. A final deed of sale in favor his father was executed in 1926, but not registered due to lack of requirements. The said lot had been administratively reconstituted from the owner’s duplicate in the name of United Service Country Club, Inc., the predecessor of the respondent. Then the name of the registered owner had been changed to that of Cebu Country Club. Francisco commenced an action for the declaration of nullity and non-existence of deed/title, the cancellation of certificates of title, and the recovery of property against the respondent. In G.R. No. 130876, the Court declared that the land legally belongs to the Government. OSG filed in the RTC a motion for the issuance of a writ of execution which was opposed by the Cebu Country Club. Then the Congress ultimately enacted a law to validate the TCTs and reconstituted titles covering the Banilad Friar Lands Estate in Cebu City. 28The RTC denied the OSG’s motion for the issuance of a writ of execution through the first appealed order. The petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration questioning the denial of the OSG’s motion for the issuance of a writ of execution. OSG manifested in writing that the Government was no longer seeking the execution of the decision. The RTC issued the second appealed order, denying the petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. The petitioners appeal by petition for review on certiorari. I1:: Whether or not the petitioners were the real parties-in-interest to question the denial by the RTC of the OSG’s motion for the issuance of a writ of execution. H1: The need to elevate the matter first to the CA is also underscored by the reality that determining whether the petitioners were real parties in interest entitled to bring this appeal against the denial by the RTC of the OSG’s motion for the issuance of a writ of execution was a mixed question of fact and law. As such, the CA was in the better position to review and to determine. In that regard, the petitioners violate Section 1, Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which demands that an appeal by petition for review on certiorari be limited to questions of law. I2:: Whether or not petitioners are proper parties to appeal and assail the order of the RTC. H2: NO. In G.R. No. 130876, the Court found that the petitioners did not validly acquire ownership of Lot No. 727-D-2, and declared that Lot No. 727 D-2 legally belonged to the Government. Admittedly, neither petitioners nor their predecessor had any title to the land in question. The most that petitioners could claim was that the Republic Act No. 9443, Entitled An Act Confirming and Declaring, Subject to Certain Exceptions, the Validity of Existing Transfer Certificate of Title Covering the Banilad Friar Lands Estate, Situated in the First District of Cebu, July 27, 2007 28
Director of Lands issued a sales patent in the name of Tomas N. Alonso. The sales patent, however, and even the corresponding deed of sale were not registered with the Register of Deeds and no title was ever issued in the name of the latter. This is because there were basic requirements not complied with, the most important of which was that the deed of sale executed by the Director of Lands was not approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Hence, the deed of sale was void. Approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce is indispensable for the validity of the sale. Consequently, the Court ruled that neither Tomas N. Alonso nor his son Francisco M. Alonso or the latter’s heirs are the lawful owners of Lot No. 727 in dispute. xxx. I3:: Whether or not R.A. No. 9443 gave the petitioners a legal interest to assail the RTC’s orders. H3: NO. The law expressly declares as valid "(a)ll existing Transfer Certificates of Title and Reconstituted Certificates of Title duly issued by the Register of Deeds of Cebu Province and/or Cebu City covering any portion of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate," and recognizes the registered owners as absolute owners. To benefit from R.A. No. 9443, therefore, a person must hold as a condition precedent a duly issued Transfer Certificate of Title or a Reconstituted Certificate of Title. Although Lot 727-D-2 was earlier declared to be owned by the Government in G.R. No. 130876, R.A. No. 9443 later validated Cebu Country Club’s registered ownership due to its holding of TCT No. RT-1310 (T-11351) in its own name. On the other hand, the petitioners could not benefit from R.A. No. 9443 because of their non-compliance with the express condition of holding any Transfer Certificate of Title or Reconstituted Certificate of Title respecting Lot 727-D-2 or any portion thereof. SC PP: "In this jurisdiction, fraud is never presumed." The strongest suspicion cannot sway judgment or overcome the presumption of regularity. "The sea of suspicion has no shore, and the court that embarks upon it is without rudder or compass."
PHILIPPINE AIRLINES EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION (PALEA), herein represented by ALEXANDER O. BARRIENTOS, Petitioner, vs. Hon. HANS LEO J. CACDAC (Director of Bureau of Labor Relations), Hon. ALEXANDER MARAAN (Regional Director, National Capital Region), CYNTHIA J. TOLENTINO (Representation Officer, Labor Relations Division, National Capital Region, Department of Labor and Employment), NIDA J. VILLAGRACIA, DOLLY OCAMPO, GERARDO F. RIVERA (In their respective capacities as candidates for President of petitioner PALEA), Respondents. G.R. No. 155097, September 27, 2010 (Third Division) MAIN TOPIC: REMEDIAL LAW/Civil Procedure/Special Civil Action/Certiorari F: PALEA, the sole and exclusive bargaining representative of all regular rank-and-file employees of Philippine Air Lines, held a general election for its new officers due to the expiration of the five-year term of its set of officers through a Comelec. Then the Comelec canvassed the votes and proclaimed the winners.In a resolution, BLR nullified the general election and the proclamation of the winners on the ground that the general election was found to be riddled with fraud and irregularities; and ordered the holding of another general election under the direct supervision of the DOLE, which was affirmed by the BLR Director of NCR. Thereafter, Jose Peñas, the proclaimed winner in the nullified general election, filed a petition for certiorati in the CA but the same was dismissed by the CA and upheld the order for the conduct of another general election in order to settle the leadership issue in PALEA once and for all.During the pre-election proceedings, some PALEA members filed with the BLR
Regional Director a petition to conduct a plebiscite to amend the PALEA Constitution and By-Laws in order that they would have a representative in the PALEA Board of Directors. Such filing caused the BLR to suspend the conduct of the pre-election conference. On February 15, 2002, the BLR Regional Director dismissed the said petition. On appeal, BLR Director the petition dated February 27, 2002. The Comelec went through with the pre-election conference and adopted the election guidelines and mechanics. The general election was set on April 5, 2002, from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.PALEA, through its holdover president, filed a petition for certiorariascribing grave abuse of discretion to the Regional Director and the BLR Director. The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari and ordered the Comelec to complete the canvass of the results of the April 5, 2002 election and to proclaim the winners. I: Whether or not PALEA was justified in commencing its special civil action for certiorari. H: NO. Indeed, relief in a special civil action for certiorari is available only when the following essential requisites concur: (a) the petition must be directed against a tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions; (b) the tribunal, board, or officer must have acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (c) there is no appeal, nor any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. There is no concurrence of the requisites in C.A.-G.R. SP No. 69889. Firstly, PALEA should have first waited for the final election results as certified by DOLE-NCR before filing the petition for certiorari. As the BLR Director pointed out in the letter dated February 27, 2002, the petition for the plebiscite to amend PALEA’s Constitution and By-Laws was merely incidental to the conduct of the general election pursuant to the final and executory decision of the BLR. As such, the recourse open to PALEA was not to forthwith file the petition for certiorari to assail such denial, but to first await the final election results as certified by DOLE-NCR. That PALEA did not so wait signified that it ignored the character of certiorari as an extraordinary recourse to resort to when there is no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. And, secondly, the Regional Director and the BLR Director were definitely not exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions in respectively issuing the February 15, 2002 order and the February 27, 2002 letter. Instead, they were thereby performing the purely ministerial act of enforcing the already final and executory BLR resolution dated July 28, 2000 directing the conduct of the general election.
HEIRS OF JOSE REYES, JR., namely: MAGDALENA C. REYES, OSCAR C. REYES, GAMALIEL C. REYES, NENITA R. DELA CRUZ, RODOLFO C. REYES, and RODRIGO C. REYES, Petitioners, vs. AMANDA S. REYES, CONSOLACION S. REYES, EUGENIA R. ELVAMBUENA, LUCINA R. MENDOZA, PEDRITO S. REYES, MERLINDA R. FAMODULAN, EDUARDO S. REYES, and JUNE S. REYES, Respondents. G.R. No. 158377, August 13, 2010 (Third Division) CIVIL LAW/Prescription/Co-ownership/Sales/Equitable Mortgage F: Antonio Reyes and his wife, Leoncia, were owners of a parcel of residential land located in Bulacan, where they constructed their dwelling. They had four children, namely: Jose, Sr., Teofilo, Jose, Jr. and Potenciana. Antonio died intestate, and was survived by Leoncia and their three sons, Potenciana having predeceased her father. On July 9, 1955, Leoncia and her three sons executed a deed denominated Kasulatan ng BilingMabibilingMuli,whereby they sold the land and its existing improvements to the Spouses Francia for P500.00, subject to the vendors' right to repurchase for the same amount saorasnasila'ymakinabang. Potenciana's heirs did not assent to that deed. Nonetheless, Teofilo and Jose, Jr. and their respective families remained in possession of the property and paid the realty taxes thereon.Alejandro, the son of
Jose, Sr., paid the heirs of the late Spouses Francia and the latter executed a deed entitled Pagsasa-ayos ng Pag-aari at Pagsasalin, whereby they transferred and conveyed to Alejandro all their rights and interests in the property for P500.00.Then Alejandro executed a Kasulatan ng Pagmeme-arideclaring himself as the owner. Leonicia and all her sons eventually died intestate. Respondent Amanda, wife of Alejandro, asked the heirs of Teofilo and Jose, Jr., to vacate the property. After the petitioners refused to comply, she filed a complaint against the petitioners in the barangay, seeking their eviction from the property. Then the Respondents initiated the suit for quieting of title and reconveyance in the RTC. I1:: Whether or not the Kasulatan ng BilingMabibiliMuli was an equitable mortgage and not a pacto de retro sale. I2:: Whether or not the respondentswere already barred from claiming that the transaction entered into by their predecessors-in-interest was an equitable mortgage and not a pacto de retro sale. I3:: Whether or not Alejandro became a co-owner when he redeemed the property. I4: Whether or not Alejandro and his heirs, herein respondents, acquire mortgaged property through prescription. H1: YES. The CA correctly concluded that the true agreement of the parties vis-à-vis the Kasulatan ng BilingMabibilingMuli was an equitable mortgage, not a pacto de retro sale. Art. 1602 states that the contract shall be presumed to be an equitable mortgage, in any of the following cases:x x x(2) When the vendor remains in possession as lessee or otherwise;x xx(5) When the vendor binds himself to pay the taxes on the thing sold;x xx The existence of any one of the conditions enumerated under Article 1602 of the Civil Code, not a concurrence of all or of a majority thereof, suffices to give rise to the presumption that the contract is an equitable mortgage. Consequently, the contract between the vendors and vendees (Spouses Francia) was an equitable mortgage. H2: NO. Considering that saorasnasila'ymakinabang, the period of redemption stated in the Kasulatan ng BilingMabibilingMuli, signified that no definite period had been stated, the period to redeem should be ten years from the execution of the contract, pursuant to Articles 1142 and 1144 of the Civil Code. Thus, the full redemption price should have been paid by July 9, 1955; and upon the expiration of said 10-year period, mortgagees Spouses Francia or their heirs should have foreclosed the mortgage, but they did not do so. Instead, they accepted Alejandro's payments, until the debt was fully satisfied by August 11, 1970. The acceptance of the payments even beyond the 10-year period of redemption estopped the mortgagees' heirs from insisting that the period to redeem the property had already expired. Their actions impliedly recognized the continued existence of the equitable mortgage. The conduct of the original parties as well as of their successorsin-interest manifested that the parties to the Kasulatan ng BilingMabibilingMuli really intended their transaction to be an equitable mortgage, not a pacto de retro sale. H3: NO. When Alejandro redeemed the property on August 11, 1970, he did not thereby become a co-owner thereof, because his father Jose, Sr. was then still alive. Alejandro merely became the assignee of the mortgage, and the property continued to be co-owned by Leoncia and her sons Jose, Sr., Jose Jr., and Teofilo. As an assignee of the mortgage and the mortgage credit, Alejandro acquired only the rights of his assignors, nothing more. He himself confirmed so in the Magkasanib na Salaysay, whereby he acknowledged the co-owners' right to redeem the property from him at any time (saanomangoras) for the same redemption price of P500.00. H4: NO. It is true that Alejandro became a co-owner of the property by right of representation upon the death of his father, Jose Sr.As a co-owner, however, his possession was like that of a trustee and was not regarded as adverse to his co-owners but in fact beneficial to all of them. In order that a co-owner's possession may be deemed adverse to that of the cestui que
trust or the other co-owners, the following elements must concur: 1. The co-owner has performed unequivocal acts of repudiation of the co-ownership amounting to an ouster of the cestui que trust or the other co-owners;2. Such positive acts of repudiation have been made known to the cestui que trust or the other co-owners;3. The evidence on the repudiation is clear and conclusive; and4. His possession is open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious.The concurrence of the foregoing elements was not established herein. For one, Alejandro did not have adverse and exclusive possession of the property, as, in fact, the other co-owners had continued to possess it, with Alejandro and his heirs occupying only a portion of it. Neither did the cancellation of the previous tax declarations in the name of Leoncia, the previous co-owner, and the issuance of a new one in Alejandro's name, and Alejandro's payment of the realty taxes constitute repudiation of the co-ownership. The sole fact of a co-owner declaring the land in question in his name for taxation purposes and paying the land taxes did not constitute an unequivocal act of repudiation amounting to an ouster of the other co-owner and could not constitute adverse possession as basis for title by prescription.
NATIONAL TOBACCO ADMINISTRATION, Petitioner, vs. DANIEL CASTILLO, Respondent. G.R. No. 154124, August 13, 2010 (Third Division) POLITICAL LAW/ADMINISTRATIVE CODE/CIVIL SERVICE LAW/UNIFORM RULES ON ADMINISTRATIVE CASES IN CIVIL SERVICE F: The respondent was terminated from his employment due to the abolition of his item as Cashier I due to the reorganization of NTA. He appealed to the CSC, which set aside the termination and ordered NTA to re-appoint him "to a position in the new staffing pattern which is comparable to latter’s former position under the same employment status." NTA moved for the reconsideration of the CSC resolution, but was denied. NTA filed a second motion for reconsideration, but also denied because its rules allowed only one motion for reconsideration. NTA persisted by filing a petition for the admission of the second motion for reconsideration and of herein supplemental manifestation, which was denied. Undaunted, NTA filed a petition for relief in the CSC, but was dismissed by the latter.On appeal, CA assailed the CSC’s dismissal of its petition for relief, claiming that its failure to file its appeal had been due to excusable negligence. The CA denied NTA’s petition and held that the assailed resolutions of the CSC had also already become final and executory. NTA moved for the reconsideration, but the CA denied its motion for reconsideration. In this recourse, NTA contends that NTA’s counsel had been guilty of excusable negligence. I1:: Whether or not the negligence of NTA’s counsel is excusable. I2:: Whether or not NTA’s appeal is still allowed. H1: NO. NTA’s argument that its former counsel faced the "herculean task of personally handling the numerous legal cases of the petitioner" without any lawyer assistant in addition to his "regular duties and responsibilities as Deputy Administrator for Operations of the agency," even assuming it to be true, did not justify the erroneous filing of a second motion for reconsideration and a petition for relief from judgment in the CSC where such recourses were not allowed under the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. NTA’s former counsel ought to have known of the correct recourses to take from the adverse resolution of the CSC.The oversight of NTA’s counsel in not seasonably appealing to the CA was not excusable. For one, mere volume of the work of an attorney has never excused an omission to comply with the period to appeal. Also, NTA itself caused its own counsel to be overburdened with work by not employing additional lawyers to handle its excessive legal work and avoid its present predicament. Clearly, the neglect of counsel in not filing the appeal on time was not something that ordinary diligence and prudence could not have guarded against. H2: NO. Compounding the dire situation of NTA was that its appeal to the CA was too
belated. Thereby, the assailed resolution of the CSC attained finality and became executory,resulting in the CSC resolution becoming immutable and unalterable, that is, it might no longer be altered, modified, or reversed in any respect even if the alteration, modification, or reversal was meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law, and whether the alteration, modification, or reversal would be made by the court or office that rendered the resolution or by the highest court of the land. SC PP: A client is generally bound by the mistakes of his lawyer; otherwise, there would never be an end to a litigation as long as a new counsel could be employed, and who could then allege and show that the preceding counsel had not been sufficiently diligent or experienced or learned. 29 The legal profession demands of a lawyer that degree of vigilance and attention expected of a good father of a family; such lawyer should adopt the norm of practice expected of men of good intentions. 30 Moreover, a lawyer owes it to himself and to his clients to adopt an efficient and orderly system of keeping track of the developments in his cases, and should be knowledgeable of the remedies appropriate to his cases.
MINERVA GOMEZ-CASTILLO Petitioner, vs. COMISSION ON ELECTIONS and STRIKE B. REVILLA, Respondents. G.R. No. 187231, June22, 2010 (En Banc) POLITICAL LAW/OMNIBUS ELECTION CONTESTS
F: Castillo and respondent Revilla ran for Municipal Mayor of Bacoor, Cavite during the May 14, 2007 local elections. Revilla was proclaimed winner; thus, Castillo filed an Election Protest Ad CautelamRTC. Revilla sought the dismissal of the election protest; alleging that it was filed in the wrong Branch of the RTC and pointed out that Supreme Court Administrative Order (SCAO) No. 54-2007 designated Branch 22 and Branch 88 of the RTC in Cavite City to hear, try and decide election contests involving municipal officials in Cavite. Branch 19 dismissed Castillo’s election protest for being violative of SCAO No. 54-2007. Castillo presented a notice of appeal. The First Division of the COMELEC dismissed the appeal for being brought beyond the five-day reglementary period. I1:: Whether or not the error of petitioner Castillo in filing the protest is jurisdictional. I2:: Whether or not Castillo’s tardy appeal should be dismissed. H1: NO. The jurisdiction over election contests involving elective municipal officials has been vested in the RTC by Section 251, Batas PambansaBlg. 881 (Omnibus Election Code). On the other hand, A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC, by specifying the proper venue where such cases may be filed and heard, only spelled out the manner by which an RTC with jurisdiction exercises such jurisdiction. Like other rules on venue, A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC was designed to ensure a just and orderly administration of justice,12 and is permissive, because it was enacted to ensure the exclusive and speedy disposition of election protests and petitions for quo warranto involving elective municipal officials. Castillo’s filing her protest in the RTC in Bacoor, Cavite amounted only to a wrong choice of venue. Hence, the dismissal of the protest by Branch 19 constituted plain error, considering that her wrong choice did not affect the jurisdiction of the RTC. What Branch 19 should have done under the circumstances was to transfer the protest to Branch 22 of the RTC in Imus, Cavite, which was the proper venue. Such transfer was proper, whether she as the protestant sought it or not, given that the determination of the will of the electorate of Bacoor, Cavite according to the process set forth by law was of the highest concern of our institutions, particularly of the courts. H2: YES. An aggrieved party may appeal the decision to the Commission on Elections within five days after promulgation by filing a notice of appeal with the court that 29 30
Tesoro v. Court of Appeals, 153 Phil. 580, 588 (1973). Gonzales v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 129090, April 30, 2003, 402 SCRA 247.
rendered the decision with copy served on the adverse counsel or party if not represented by counsel. 31Although Castillo had received the November 21, 2008 order of the RTC on December 15, 2008, she filed her notice of appeal only on December 23, 2008, or eight days after her receipt of the decision. Her appeal was properly dismissed for being too late under the aforequoted rule of the COMELEC. SC PP: It is well-settled that jurisdiction is conferred by law. As such, jurisdiction cannot be fixed by the will of the parties; nor be acquired through waiver nor enlarged by the omission of the parties; nor conferred by any acquiescence of the court. The allocation of jurisdiction is vested in Congress, and cannot be delegated to another office or agency of the Government. A greater reason to adhere to this notion exists herein, for the short period of five days as the period to appeal recognizes the essentiality of time in election protests, in order that the will of the electorate is ascertained as soon as possible so that the winning candidate is not deprived of the right to assume office, and so that any doubt that can cloud the incumbency of the truly deserving winning candidate is quickly removed.
FIRST DIVISION [ G.R. No. 173373, July 29, 2013 ] H. TAMBUNTING PAWNSHOP, INC., PETITIONER, VS.COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, RESPONDENT. TAXATION, CLAIMS, DEDUCTIONS F: H. Tambunting Pawnshop, Inc. (petitioner), a domestic corporation duly licensed appeals the adverse decision promulgated on April 24, 2006, whereby the CTA En Banc affirmed the decision of the CTA First Division ordering it to pay deficiency income taxes in the amount of P4,536,687.15 for taxable year 1997, plus 20% delinquency interest computed from August 29, 2000 until full payment, but cancelling the compromise penalties for lack of basis. On June 26, 2000, BIR, through then Acting Regional Director Lucien E. Sayuno of Revenue Region No. 6 in Manila, issued assessment notices and demand letters, all numbered 32-1-97, assessing Tambunting for deficiency percentage tax, income tax and compromise penalties for taxable year 1997. on July 26, Tambunting instituted an administrative protest against the assume that notices and demand letters and on Februray 21, 2001 brought the petition for review with the CTA pursuant to Sec 228 of the NIRC, citing the inaction of CIR on its protest within 190 days. The CTA en band denied the petition of Tambunting and finds no reversible error and that it have no merit. I: Whether the petitioner is entitled to the deductions being claim (janitorial expenses, robbery and theft, etc) H: The Court agrees with the CTA en band, the principle that when a taxpayer claims a deduction, he must point to some specific provision of the statute in which that deduction is authorized and must be able to prove that he is entitled to the deduction which the law allows. As the CTA En Banc held, Tambunting did not properly prove that it had incurred losses. The subasta books it presented were not the proper evidence of such losses from the auctions because they did not reflect the true amounts of the proceeds of the auctions due to certain items having been left unsold after the auctions.
Section 8, A.M. No. 07-4-15-SC, Rules of Procedure in Election Contests Before the Courts Involving Municipal and Barangay Officials.
FIRST DIVISION [ G.R. No. 159371, July 29, 2013 ] D. M. CONSUNJI CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VS. ROGELIO P. BELLO, RESPONDENT. TOPIC: LABOR LAW, TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT F: Bello brought a complaint for illegal dismissal and damages against DMCI and/or Rachel Consunji. In his position paper, he claimed that DMCI had employed him as a mason without any interruption from February 1, 1990 until October 10, 1997 at an hourly rate of P25.081; that he had been a very diligent and devoted worker and had served DMCI as best as he could and without any complaints; that he had never violated any company rules; that his job as a mason had been necessary and desirable in the usual business or trade of DMCI; that he had been diagnosed to be suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, thereby necessitating his leave of absence; that upon his recovery, he had reported back to work, but DMCI had refused to accept him and had instead handed to him a termination paper; that he had been terminated due to “RSD” effective November 5, 1997; that he did not know the meaning of “RSD” as the cause of his termination; that the cause had not been explained to him; that he had not been given prior notice of his termination; that he had not been paid separation pay as mandated by law; that at that time of his dismissal, DMCI’s projects had not yet been completed; and that even if he had been terminated due to an authorized cause, he should have been given at least one month pay or at least one-half month pay for every year of service he had rendered, whichever was higher. I: WON the Bello is considered a era net employee of DMCI and that his termination illegal H: The Court affirms the CA’s conclusion that Bello acquired in time the status of a regular employee by virtue of his continuous work as a mason of DMCI. The extension of the employment of a project employee long after the supposed project has been completed removes the employee from the scope of a project employee and makes him a regular employee. Bello's uccessive re-engagement in order to perform the same kind of work as a mason firmly manifested the necessity and desirability of his work in DMCI’s usual business of construction. Axiomatic in labor law that the employer who interposes the defense of voluntary resignation of the employee in an illegal dismissal case must prove by clear, positive and convincing evidence that the resignation was voluntary; and that the employer cannot rely on the weakness of the defense of the employee. The requirement rests on the need to resolve any doubt in favor of the working man.
FIRST DIVISION [ G.R. No. 157900, July 22, 2013 ] ZUELLIG FREIGHT AND CARGO SYSTEMS, PETITIONER, VS.NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION AND RONALDO V. SAN MIGUEL, RESPONDENTS. TOPIC: LABOR LAW / ILLEGAL DISMISSAL SUB TOPIC: CORPORATION LAW / CHANGE OF NAME F: San Miguel brought a complaint for unfair labor practice, illegal dismissal, nonpayment of salaries and moral damages against petitioner, formerly known as Zeta Brokerage Corporation (Zeta). He alleged that he had been a checker/customs representative of Zeta since December 16, 1985; that in January 1994, he and other employees of Zeta were informed that Zeta would cease operations, and that all affected employees, including him, would be separated; that by letter dated February 28, 1994, Zeta informed him of his termination effective March 31, 1994; that he reluctantly accepted his separation pay subject to the standing offer to be hired to his former position by petitioner; and that on April 15, 1994, he was summarily terminated, without any valid cause and due process.
San Miguel contended that the amendments of the articles of incorporation of Zeta were for the purpose of changing the corporate name, broadening the primary functions, and increasing the capital stock; and that such amendments could not mean that Zeta had been thereby dissolved. I: WON San Miguel was illegally dismissed by Zeta and the change of name of Zeta extinguishes it's corporate personality H: The factual milleu of the case, considered in its totality, shows that there was no closure to speak of. The termination of services allegedly due to cessation of business operations of Zeta was illegal. Notwithstanding private respondent San Miguel’s receipt of separation benefits from petitioner Zuellig, the former is not estopped from questioning the legality of his dismissal. Despite verbal notice that the employees had until 6:00 p.m. of March 1, 1994 to receive the termination letters and sign the employment contracts, the dismissal was still illegal for the said condition is null and void The changing of the name of a corporation is no more the creation of a corporation than the changing of the name of a natural person is begetting of a natural person. The act, in both cases, would seem to be what the language which we use to designate it imports – a change of name, and not a change of being. The renamed corporation remains liable for the illegal dismissal of its employee separated under that guise.
FIRST DIVISION [ G.R. No. 160739, July 17, 2013 ] ANITA MANGILA, PETITIONER, VS. JUDGE HERIBERTO M. PANGILINAN, ASST.CITY PROSECUTOR II LUCIA JUDY SOLINAP, AND NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (DIRECTOR REYNALDO WYCOCO), RESPONDENTS. TOPIC: REMEDIAL LAW, HABEAS CORPUS F: On June 16, 2003, seven criminal complaints charging petitioner Anita Mangila and four others with syndicated estafa in violation of Article 315 of the RPC, in relation to PD No. 1689, and with violations of Section 7(b) of RA No. 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995) were filed in the MTCC, docketed as Criminal Cases No. 16916 to No. 16922. The complaints arose from the recruiting and promising of employment by Mangila and the others to the private complainants as overseas contract workers in Toronto, Canada, and from the collection of visa processing fees, membership fees and on-line application fees from the private complainants without lawful authority from the POEA. On the following day, June 17, 2003, Judge Heriberto M. Pangilinan, Presiding Judge of the MTCC, conducted a preliminary investigation on the complaints. Pangilinan issued a warrant for the arrest of Mangila and her cohorts without bail. The entire records of the cases, including the warrant of arrest, were transmitted to the City Prosecutor of Puerto Princesa City for further proceedings and appropriate action in accordance with the prevailing rules. Mangila was arrested on June 18, 2003 and detained at the headquarters on Taft Avenue, Manila of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Mangila, claiming that Judge Pangilinan did not have the authority to conduct the preliminary investigation; that the preliminary investigation he conducted was not yet completed when he issued the warrant of arrest; and that the issuance of the warrant of arrest was without sufficient justification or without a prior finding of probable cause, Mangila filed in the Court of Appeals (CA)a petition for habeas corpus to obtain her release from detention. Her petition averred that the remedy of habeas corpus was available I: WON the CA erred in ruling the Writ of Habeas Corpos is not the proper remedying obtain release of Mangila from detention. H: The Court ruled in the negative. A writ of habeas corpus, which is regarded as a “palladium of liberty,” is a prerogative writ which does not issue as a matter of right but in the sound discretion of the court or judge. Judge Pangilinan issued the order of
arrest after examining Palayon, one of the complainants against Mangila and her cohorts. If he, as the investigating judge, considered Palayon’s evidence sufficient for finding probable cause against her and her cohorts, which finding the Court justifiably presumes from his act of referring the case and its records to the Office of the City Prosecutor on the day immediately following the preliminary investigation he conducted, her petition for habeas corpus could not be the proper remedy by which she could assail the adequacy of the adverse finding. Section 5, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the resolution of the investigating judge was not final but was still subject to the review by the public prosecutor who had the power to order the release of the detainee if no probable cause should be ultimately found against her. Restraint that is lawful and pursuant to a court process cannot be inquired into through habeas corpus
FIRST DIVISION [ G.R. No. 173307, July 17, 2013 ] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS.VICTORINO REYES, ACCUSED-APPELLANT. CRIMINAL LAW / RAPE F: On December 26, 1996 in Barangay San Aurelio, Balungao, Pangasinan. Earlier, at around 7:00 p.m., AAA and her 9-year-old sister, BBB, had watched television at his house just across the street from their house. Reyes brought AAA inside the store in their house where he thrust his penis againstAAA's vagina with a push and pull motion however it only touches be labia of AAA. Reyes lust were satisfied because there were residues of semen in AAA panties. After which he threted we to kill them if they tell anyone what happened. I: WON Reyes is guilty of the crime of rape even if there was no full penetration on the victim' vagina H: The court ruled on the positive. Reyes is guilty of the crime of rape. the breaking of the hymen of the victim is not among the means of consummating rape. All that the law required is that the accused had carnal knowledge of a woman under the circumstances described in the law. the slightest penetration of the female genitalia consummates the crime. All that is necessary to reach the consummated stage of rape is for the penis of the accused capable of consummating the sexual act to come into contact with the lips of the pudendum of the victim. This means that the rape is consummated once the penis of the accused capable of consummating the sexual act touches either labia of the pudendum. Slightest penetration of the labia of the female victim’s genitalia consummates the crime of rape.
EN BANC [ A.M. OCA IPI No. 02-1321-P, July 16, 2013 ] CONCERNED CITIZEN, COMPLAINANT, VS. NONITA V. CATENA, COURT STENOGRAPHER III, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 50, PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN, RESPONDENT MAIN TOPIC: POLITICAL LAW / CIVIL SERVICE F: This administrative case stemmed from an undated anonymous letter-complaint charging respondent Nonita Catena (Catena), a Court Stenographer III of Branch 50 of the Regional Trial Court in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan (RTC) with gross dishonesty she allegedly committed in connection with her Civil Service eligibility accusing her of having caused another person to take the Civil Service Eligibility Examination in her stead. Catena failed to give her defense/ answer even after ample time was given to her to do so because of several extensions. I: WON the resignation of Catena from her position prior to decision of the complaint her extinct guises the complaint R: The court ruled in the negative. The resignation did not prevent this resolution from being made, because resignation should not be used as a convenient means or strategy to evade administrative liability. Section 56 (e) of Rule IV of the Revised Uniform Rules provides that the penalty of fine shall be in an amount not exceeding the salary for six months had respondent not resigned, the rate for which is that obtaining upon at the time of her resignation. Finally, even though her penalty is a fine, she should still suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from re-employment in the Government that the penalty of dismissal carried. A contrary holding would have the undesirable effect of giving the erring employee the means to avoid the accessory penalty by the simple expedient of resigning. Gross dishonesty on the part of an employee of the Judiciary is a very serious offense that must be severely punished. Dismissal may be meted on the employee, unless she had meanwhile ceased to be an employee, in which case a high fine shall be imposed.
SPS. MOISES and CLEMENCIA ANDRADA, Petitioners, vs. PILHINO SALES CORPORATION, represented by its Branch Manager, JOJO S. SAET, Respondent. G.R. No. 156448 / THIRD DIVISION REMEDIAL LAW / CERTIORARI CIVIL LAW / DAMAGES & ATTORNEY’S FEES F: Pilhino sued Jose Andrada, Jr. and his wife, Maxima, in the RTC Davao City to recover the principal sum of P240,863.00, plus interest and incidental charges. Upon Pilhino’s application, the RTC issued a writ of preliminary attachment, which came to be implemented against a Hino truck and a Fuso truck both owned by Jose. However, the levies on attachment were lifted after Jose filed a counter-attachment bond. The RTC rendered a decision against Jose and his wife. Pilhino opted to enforce the writ of execution against the properties of the Andradas instead of claiming against the counter-attachment bond considering that the premium on the bond had not been paid. As a result, the sheriff seized the Hino truck and sold it at the ensuing public auction, with Pilhino as the highest bidder. However, the Hino truck could not be transferred to Pilhinos name due to its having been already registered in the name of petitioner Moises Andrada. It appears that the Hino truck had been meanwhile sold by Jose to Moises, which sale was unknown to Pilhino, and that Moises had mortgaged the truck to BA Finance to secure his own obligation.
BA Finance sued Moises Andrada for his failure to pay the loan. After a decision was rendered in the action in favor of BA Finance, a writ of execution issued, by which the sheriff levied upon and seized the Hino truck while it was in the possession of Pilhino and sold it at public auction, with BA Finance as the highest bidder. Pilhino instituted this action in the RTC in Davao City to annul the following: (a) the deed of sale between Jose and Moises; (b) the chattel mortgage involving the Hino truck between Moises and BA Finance; (c) the deed of conveyance executed by Jose Jr. in favor of his father, Jose Sr., involving a hard-top jeep; and (d) the certificate of registration of the Hino truck in the name of Moises as well as the registration of the chattel mortgage with the Registry of Deeds of General Santos City. I1: Whether or not the Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 filed by the petitioners shall be given merit? H1: No. The petitioners assail the decision promulgated by the CA to the extent that it denied their claim for the damages they had sought by way of counterclaim. They anchored their claim on Article 21 of the Civil Code, which provides that any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for damage. Article 21 of the Civil Code, in conjunction with Article 19 of the Civil Code, is part of the cause of action known in this jurisdiction as abuse of rights. The elements of abuse of rights are: (a) there is a legal right or duty; (b) exercised in bad faith; and (c) for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another. In its assailed decision, the CA found that Pilhino had acted in good faith in bringing Civil Case No. 21 898-93 to annul the deed of sale involving the Hino truck executed by Jose Andrada, Jr. in favor of Moises Andrada, considering that Pilhino had believed that the sale in favor of defendants-appellants [had been] resorted to so that Jose Andrada [might] evade his obligations. The CA concluded that no remedy was available for any damages that the petitioners sustained from the filing of Civil Case No. 21,89893 against them because the law affords no remedy for such damages resulting from an act which does not amount to a legal injury or wrong. Yet, the petitioners still insist in this appeal that both lower courts erred in their conclusion on the absence of bad faith on the part of Pilhino. Their insistence, which represents their disagreement with the CAs declaration that the second and third elements of abuse of rights, supra, were not established, requires the consideration and review of factual issues. Hence, this appeal cannot succeed, for an appeal by petition for review on certiorari cannot determine factual issues. In the exercise of its power of review, the Court is not a trier of facts and does not normally undertake the re-examination of the evidence presented by the contending parties during the trial. Perforce, the findings of fact by the CA are conclusive and binding on the Court. This restriction of the review to questions of law has been institutionalized in Section 1, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. It is true that the Court has, at times, allowed exceptions from the restriction. Among the recognized exceptions are the following, to wit: (a) When the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, or conjectures; (b) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (c) When there is grave abuse of discretion; (d) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (e) When the findings of facts are conflicting; (f) When in making its findings the CA went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (g) When the CAs findings are contrary to those by the trial court; (h) When the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (i) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (j) When the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; or
(k) When the CA manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion.
However, the circumstances of this case do not warrant reversing or modifying the findings of the CA, which are consistent with the established facts. Verily, the petitioners did not prove the concurrence of the elements of abuse of rights. I2: Whether or not petitioners are entitled to attorney’s fees? H2: No. It is well accepted in this jurisdiction that no premium should be placed on the right to litigate and that not every winning party is entitled to an automatic grant of attorneys fees. The power of a court to award attorneys fees under Article 2208 of the Civil Code demands factual, legal, and equitable justification; its basis cannot be left to speculation and conjecture. The general rule is that attorney’s fees cannot be recovered as part of damages because of the policy that no premium should be placed on the right to litigate. Herein, the element of bad faith on the part of Pilhino in commencing and prosecuting Civil Case No. 21 898-93, which was necessary to predicate the lawful grant of attorneys fees based on Article 2208 (4) of the Civil Code, was not established. Accordingly, the petitioners demand for attorney’s fees must fail.
AIR TRANSPORTATION OFFICE, Petitioner, vs. SPOUSES DAVID* ELISEA RAMOS, Respondents. / G.R. No. 159402/ THIRD DIVISION POLITICAL LAW / STATE’S IMMUNITY FROM SUIT F: Spouses David and Elisea Ramos discovered that a portion of their land in Baguio City was being used as part of the runway and running shoulder of the Loakan Airport being operated by petitioner Air Transportation Office (ATO). The respondents agreed after negotiations to convey the affected portion by deed of sale to the ATO in consideration of the amount of P778,150.00. However, the ATO failed to pay despite repeated verbal and written demands. The respondents filed an action for collection against the ATO and some of its officials in the RTC. The ATO and its co-defendants invoked as an affirmative defense the issuance of Proclamation No. 1358, whereby President Marcos had reserved certain parcels of land that included the respondents’ affected portion for use of the Loakan Airport. They asserted that the RTC had no jurisdiction to entertain the action without the State’s consent considering that the deed of sale had been entered into in the performance of governmental functions. I: Whether or not the ATO could be sued without the State’s consent? H: No. An unincorporated government agency without any separate juridical personality of its own enjoys immunity from suit because it is invested with an inherent power of sovereignty. Accordingly, a claim for damages against the agency cannot prosper; otherwise, the doctrine of sovereign immunity is violated. However, the need to distinguish between an unincorporated government agency performing governmental function and one performing proprietary functions has arisen. The immunity has been upheld in favor of the former because its function is governmental or incidental to such function; it has not been upheld in favor of the latter whose function was not in pursuit of a necessary function of government but was essentially a business. The CA thereby correctly appreciated the juridical character of the ATO as an agency of the Government not performing a purely governmental or sovereign function, but was instead involved in the management and maintenance of the Loakan Airport, an activity that was not the exclusive prerogative of the State in its sovereign capacity. Hence, the ATO had no claim to the State’s immunity from suit. We further observe the doctrine of sovereign immunity cannot be successfully invoked to defeat a valid
claim for compensation arising from the taking without just compensation and without the proper expropriation proceedings being first resorted to of the plaintiffs’ property. Thus, in De los Santos v. Intermediate Appellate Court, the Supreme Court ruled that the doctrine of sovereign immunity was not an instrument for perpetrating any injustice on a citizen. In exercising the right of eminent domain, the Court explained, the State exercised its jus imperii, as distinguished from its proprietary rights, or jus gestionis; yet, even in that area, where private property had been taken in expropriation without just compensation being paid, the defense of immunity from suit could not be set up by the State against an action for payment by the owners.
VENANCIO GIVERO, EDGARDO GIVERO and FLORIDA GAYANES, Petitioners, vs. MAXIMO GIVERO and LORETO GIVERO, Respondents. / G.R. No. 157476 / THIRD DIVISION CIVIL LAW / PROPERTY / PARTITION REMEDIAL LAW / CIVIL PROCEDURE / APPEAL BY CERTIORARI
F: The petitioners assert a claim of ownership over a portion of the disputed property
by declaring it in his name for taxation purposes, and erecting a barbed wire fence around it. These actuations impelled the respondents to commence an action for quieting of title to and recovery of real property and damages against the petitioners. The respondents alleged in their complaint that Lot No. 2618 had been delivered to them as Rufino’s share in the estate of Teodorico through a deed of donation executed by Severina in their favor as Rufino’s heirs, thereby making them the pro indiviso owners; that they had been in continuous, peaceful, public, and adverse possession of the property for 45 years; that the defendants had been only permitted by Remedios to build a small house of light materials on a portion of Lot No. 2618; and that later on, Venancio, without any right, had enclosed the 5,000-square meter portion with barbed wire, and had declared the portion under his name for taxation purposes. In their answer, the petitioners maintained that Teodorico and Severina (the deceased parents of the parties) had not partitioned their estate among their 11 children; that the Barangay Balocawe properties of Teodorico and Severina had been levied and auctioned for realty tax delinquency; that Venancio had become the owner of the Barangay Balocawe properties by virtue of redemption, but had given shares to his brothers and sisters out of magnanimity, retaining only a portion corresponding to the amount he had paid for the redemption; that Venancio had retained a share in the Barangay Gadgaron properties, which was the portion in dispute, because that portion had been his rightful share in the estate of his father; that Venancio had allowed the respondents to stay on the properties because they were his nephews; that the deed of donation executed by Severina after the death of Teodorico in favor of the respondents through their mother was void because Severina was not the real owner but a mere usufructuary under the provisions of the old Civil Code; and that at the most, the respondents would be entitled to only 1/11 portion of the Barangay Gadgaron properties. Finding the validity of the oral partition made by Teodorico during his lifetime, the RTC and the CA ruled in favor of the respondents. I: Whether or not there is no valid oral partition and that the claim for the same has no substance and merit? R: No. The petitioners thereby raise factual issues. However, the Court may not review all over again the findings of fact of the RTC, especially as such findings were affirmed by the CA. This appeal is brought under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, whose Section 1 restricts the review only to questions of law. The restriction of the review to questions of law emanates from the Court’s not being a trier of facts. As such, the Court cannot determine factual issues in appeals taken from the lower courts. As the consequence of the restriction, the Court accords high
respect, if not conclusive effect, to the findings of fact by the RTC, when affirmed by the CA, unless there exists an exceptional reason to disregard the findings of fact, like the following, namely: (a) When the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, or conjectures; (b) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (c) When there is grave abuse of discretion; (d) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (e) When the findings of facts are conflicting; (f) When in making its findings the CA went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (g) When the CA’s findings are contrary to those by the trial court; (h) When the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (i) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner’s main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (j) When the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; or (k) When the CA manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion.
None of the exceptions has any application herein. Besides, the findings of fact upheld by the CA are entirely consistent with the established facts. And, secondly, the contention of the petitioners, that the respondents were inconsistent and self-contradictory by reason of their insistence, on the one hand, on the donation of the property from Severina, and, on the other hand, on the oral partition by Teodorico, has no substance and merit. The supposed inconsistency and self-contradiction are imaginary, not real. The use of the deed of donation to implement the oral partition was a matter of choice on the part of the parties to the transaction, for there might have been other feasible ways under our laws by which Severina as the family matriarch could have implemented the delivery of Rufino’s share just as effectively and efficiently. What was important was that the just intention behind the delivery ensured the validity of the implementation. Thus, whether or not Severina had the right to transfer the share was a matter too inconsequential for consideration by the Court. In this instance, substance, not form, was held to prevail by the CA. Besides, we, as a Court of law, justice and equity, cannot permit prolonged unfairness and uncertainty to be suffered by the respondents and the family of their deceased brother Juan as the ultimate heirs of Rufino. The avoidance of that unfairness and uncertainty was visibly the reason for the intervention of their uncle Luciano and aunt Maria as witnesses testifying against Venancio, their own brother, to favor the respondents on the question of the oral partition. Plainly, therefore, the CA committed no reversible error.
HEIRS OF EDUARDO SIMON, Petitioners vs. ELVIN CHAN AND THE COURT OF APPEALS, Respondent. / G.R. No. 157547 / THIRD DIVISION REMEDIAL LAW / CRIMINAL PROCEDURE / LITIS PENDENCIA CRIMINAL LAW / BP 22 F: December 1996: Eduard Simon issued a check to Elvin Chan a Landbank Check dated December 26, 1996 worth P336,000.00. Consequently, on December 26, 1996: It was dishonored due to account closed. After a formal demand, Simon filed for preliminary attachment - MeTC in Pasay City issued a writ of preliminary attachment. Simon filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of litis pendentia because there is already a charge of violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 - granted by the MeTC Chan appealed to the CA - reversed and set aside the decision of the MeTC. I: W/N the case should be dismissed due to litis pendentia because the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure pertaining to independent civil actions which became effective on December 1, 2000 are applicable to this case renders Chan's civil action to recover as an independent civil action? H: Yes. Procedural laws may be given retroactive effect to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. There are no vested rights in the rules of procedure. Surely, it could not have been the intendment of the framers of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 to leave the offended private party defrauded and empty-handed by excluding the civil liability of the offender, giving her only the remedy, which in many cases results in a Pyrrhic victory, of having to file a separate civil suit. To do so may leave the offended party unable to recover even the face value of the check due her, thereby unjustly enriching the errant drawer at the expense of the payee. The protection which the law seeks to provide would, therefore, be brought to naught. However, there is no independent civil action to recover the value of a bouncing check issued in contravention of BP 22. Applying Rule 111 of the Rules of Court, effective December 1, 200 that the criminal action for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 shall be deemed to include the corresponding civil action. No reservation to file such civil action separately shall be allowed. DMPI Employees Credit Association v. Velez (different facts): issuance of a bouncing check may result in two separate and distinct crimes of estafa and violation of BP 22, the procedures for the recovery of the civil liabilities arising from these two distinct crimes are different and non-interchangeable.
In prosecutions of estafa, the offended party may opt to reserve his right to file a separate civil action, or may institute an independent action based on fraud pursuant to Article 33 of the Civil Code.
In prosecutions of violations of BP 22, however, the Court has adopted a policy to prohibit the reservation or institution of a separate civil action to claim the civil liability arising from the issuance of the bouncing check.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. EDITH RAMOS ABAT, Accused-Appellant. / G.R. No. 168651 / THIRD DIVISION CRIMINAL LAW / LARGE SCALE ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT: ART. 13(B) AND PENALIZED BY ART. 39 (A) OF PD 442 AS AMENDED BY PD 2018 F: In the months of November and December 2000 in the Province of Pangasinan, the accused not being a licensee or holder of authority, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously undertake and perform recruitment activities in large scale by recruiting the nine (9) complainants to a supposed job abroad, particularly in Taiwan, for a fee, without first securing the necessary license or permit to do the same. In her appeal, the accused denies having any participation in the recruitment of the nine named complainants for employment in Taiwan. In support of her appeal, she argues that the sums she exacted and received from the complainants represented only the reimbursement of the expenses incurred during her trips that took her and the complainants to Cebu City, Iligan City, Ozamis City and Cagayan de Oro City, not in consideration of the employment in Taiwan supposedly offered to the complainants; that for her not to be reimbursed would be most unfair because she had defrayed the expenses for the trips with the complainants with her husband’s money; that the failure of the complainants to produce receipts showing that she had collected money from them in connection with her assurances of their employment in Taiwan was fatal to the State’s case against her; and that although only four of the nine named complainants had appeared and testified in court, the Prosecution did not explain why the five other complainants had desisted from testifying against her. I: Whether or not the accused has any part in the recruitment of the complainants? H: Yes. The acts committed by the accused constituted illegal recruitment in large scale, whose essential elements are the following: (a) The accused engages in acts of recruitment and placement of workers defined under Article 13(b) of the Labor Code or in any prohibited activities under Article 43 of the Labor Code; (b) The accused has not complied with the guidelines issued by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, particularly with respect to the securing of license or an authority to recruit and deploy workers, either locally or overseas; and (c) The accused commits the unlawful acts against three or more persons individually or as a group. It is the lack of the necessary license or authority to recruit and deploy workers, either locally or overseas, that renders the recruitment activity unlawful or criminal. To prove illegal recruitment, the State must show that the accused gave the complainants the distinct impression that she had the power or ability to deploy the complainants abroad in a manner that they were convinced to part with their money for that end. Review shows that the State competently established that the accused, despite having no license or authority to recruit and deploy workers, either locally or overseas, had represented to the complainants that she could secure their employment in Taiwan either as factory workers or as computer operators at a monthly salary of NT$45,000.00 each; and that the complainants had relied on her representation and given her the amounts she had demanded in the expectation of their placement. The failure of the State to present receipts proving that the payments by the complainants was in consideration of their recruitment to Taiwan does not negate the guilt of the accused. This argument is not novel and unprecedented, for the Court has already ruled that the absence of receipts evidencing payment does not defeat a criminal prosecution for illegal recruitment. According to People v. Pabalan: xxx the absence of receipts in a criminal case for illegal recruitment does not warrant the acquittal of the accused and is not fatal to the case of the prosecution. As long as the witnesses had positively shown through their respective testimonies that the accused is the one involved in the prohibited recruitment, he may be convicted of the offense despite the want of receipts. The Statute of Frauds and the rules of evidence do not require the presentation of
receipts in order to prove the existence of recruitment agreement and the procurement of fees in illegal recruitment cases. The amounts may consequently be proved by the testimony of witnesses. Consequently, as long as the State established through credible testimonial evidence that the accused had engaged in illegal recruitment, her conviction was justified. That is what we find herein.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. JOEY TORIAGA, AccusedAppellant. / G.R. No. 177145 / THIRD DIVISION CRIMINAL LAW / RAPE: ART. 335 REVISED PENAL CODE; PENALTIES F: The above-named accused, with lewd design and by means of threat and intimidation by using a bladed weapon (knife) employed upon the person of 13-year old AAA, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously lie and have sexual intercourse with said AAA, against her will and without her consent. An information for rape was filed against Toriaga in the RTC and a separate information for frustrated homicide was also filed. The RTC convicted Toriaga. On his appeal with the CA, he changed his defense of denial and alibi for the first time to the affirmative defense of consensual sexual intercourse with AAA. He contended that he was liable only for qualified seduction because he was a domestic within the contemplation of the law. In its decision, the CA rejected his contentions and affirmed the conviction for rape. In his appeal, Toriagas main argument of consensual sexual intercourse rested on the failure of AAA to shout during the rape and on her failure to escape when he momentarily left her and while he was busy undressing himself. I: Whether or not the appeal of the accused should fail, thus convicting him of the crime of rape with the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua? H: YES. Firstly, the defense of consensual sexual intercourse, like the sweetheart defense, demands corroboration. Yet, Toriaga offered no corroboration, thereby exposing his belatedly offered defense as a self-serving after-thought resorted to after his original defenses of denial and alibi had failed to ensure his acquittal by the CA. Thus, his new defense deserved scant consideration. Secondly, the physical evidence spoke more vividly than the testimony of the victim, whose multiple injuries confirmed the use of brutal force and violence in her rape. Third, the CAs rejection of Toriagas contention of being liable only for qualified seduction was correct. Indeed, the information did not allege the presence of the elements of qualified seduction, to wit: (a) that AAA was a virgin; (b) that she was over 12 and under 18 years of age; (c) that he had sexual intercourse with her; and (d) that there was abuse of authority, or of confidence, or of relationship. Fourthly, the RTC and the CA correctly determined the penalty of reclusion perpetua as imposable. The information alleged the use of a bladed weapon in the commission of the rape. Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code provides that whenever the crime of rape is committed with use of a deadly weapon the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua to death.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE VS. RUEL TUY, ACCUSEDAPPELLANT. / G.R. NO. 179476 / THIRD DIVISION CRIMINAL LAW / MURDER F: Together with Ramon Salcedo, Jr. and Raul Salcedo, who have remained at large, appellant Ruel Tuy was charged with murder for the killing of Orlando Barrameda in the afternoon of October 11, 2001 in Brgy.Bani, Tinambac, Camarines Sur. The said accused with intent to kill and while armed with firearms and a bolo and with conspiracy between and among themselves, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and harm one Orlando Barrameda thereby inflicting mortal wounds on the different part of his body which caused his instantaneous death. Attendant during the commission of the crime is treachery because the accused took advantage of their superior strength, with arms and employed means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make. Upon arraignment, the accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder. Tuy denied his participation in the crime and claimed that he was processing copra at the time of the killing in Sitio Olango, Brgy. Bani Tinambac, Camarines Sur. His brother Ramil Tuy corroborated him. The RTC rendered its decision convicting Tuy of murder. On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the conviction, rejecting Tuys defenses of denial and alibi. It ruled that it was still physically possible for him to come from Brgy. Olango and be at the seashore of Brgy. Bani, Tinambac, Camarines Sur where the killing happened. I: Whether or not the decision of the CA affirming the conviction for the crime of murder of the accused should be affirmed? H: YES. Firstly, the findings of the RTC are accorded the highest degree of respect, especially if adopted and confirmed by the CA, because of the first-hand opportunity of the trial judge to observe the demeanor of the witnesses when they testified at trial; such findings are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal unless there is clear misapprehension of facts. Here, there was no showing that the RTC and the CA erred in appreciating the worth of Severino’s eyewitness testimony. Secondly, the CA and the RTC rejected the alibi of Tuy. We agree with their rejection. To begin with, his absence from the scene of the murder was not firmly established considering that he admitted that he could navigate the distance between Brgy. Olango (where he was supposed to be) and Brgy. Bani (where the crime was committed) in an hour by paddle boat and in less than that time by motorized banca. Also, eyewitness Severino positively identified him as having hacked his father. The failure of Tuy to prove the physical impossibility of his presence at the crime scene negated his alibi. And, thirdly, the medico-legal evidence indicating that the victim sustained several hack wounds entirely corroborated Severino’s recollection on the hacking.
RE: EMPLOYEES INCURRING HABITUAL TARDINESS SEMESTER OF 2009 / A.M. No. 2010-11-SC / EN BANC
POLITICAL LAW / HABITUAL TARDINESS F: This administrative matter emanated from the reports dated June 16, 2010 and June 17, 2010 made by the Leave Division under the Office of Administrative Services (OAS) to the Complaints and Investigation Division, also under the OAS, to the effect that the following six (6) employees had been habitually tardy in the second semester of 2009. The OAS directed the concerned employees to explain in writing why no administrative disciplinary action should be taken against them for their habitual tardiness during the covered period, which habitual tardiness was in violation of Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 04, Series of 1991. The concerned employees subsequently rendered their respective explanations. The OAS concluded that the concerned employees had incurred habitual tardiness and that their justifications were unacceptable. Thus, it recommended the penalties to be imposed on the concerned employees. I: Whether or not it is correct to adopt the evaluation of the OAS? H: Yes. It is a canon under the Constitution that a public office is a public trust. This canon includes the mandate for the observance of prescribed office hours and the efficient use of every moment of such hours for the public service, because only thereby may the public servants recompense the Government and the people for shouldering the costs of maintaining the Judiciary. Accordingly, court officials and employees must at all times strictly observe official hours to inspire the public’s respect for the justice system. There is no question that all the concerned employees incurred habitual tardiness within the context of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 04, Series of 1991, supra. Thereby, they fell short of the standard of conduct demanded from everyone connected with the administration of justice. Worthy of stress is that the nature and functions of the employment of the officials and employees of the Judiciary require them to be role models in the faithful observance of the constitutional canon that public office is a public trust. They are always accountable to the people, whom they must serve with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency. They can surely inspire public respect for the justice system by strictly observing official time, among others. Absenteeism and tardiness are, therefore, impermissible. The respective justifications of the concerned employees (consisting of illness or poor health, travel difficulties, household responsibilities, and similar causes) are not unacceptable. Already in Re: Supreme Court Employees Incurring Habitual Tardiness in the 2nd Semester of 2005, we enunciated that justifications for absences and tardiness falling under the categories of illness, moral obligation to family and relatives, performance of household chores, traffic and health or physical condition are neither novel nor persuasive, and hardly evoke sympathy. If at all, such justifications may only mitigate liability.
BENIGNO B. REAS, COMPLAINANT, VS. CARLOS M. RELACION, RESPONDENT. / A.M. NO. P-05-2095 / THIRD DIVISION POLITICAL LAW / CODE OF CONDUCT FOR COURT PERSONNEL; SIMPLE MISCONDUCT F: Petitioner, Benigno B. Reas files a complaint against respondent Carlos M. Relacion with gross dishonesty and grave misconduct. The complaint alleged that the respondent harassed a certain cooperative to a point of violence just to release his own salary check. Relacion did not return the check to the Cooperative despite repetitive demands; that when the COC confronted Relacion, he mauled him when he refused Relacion’s offer to pay his salary checks. In response, Relacion denied harassing or threatening the employees of the Cooperative; that he only went to the COC just to get his salary check. Relacion further narrated that he informed Reas that he would pay him, but petitioner eventually tried to punched him when they entered the office, and that he retaliated by punching the petitioner. I: Whether or not the respondent is only guilty of simple misconduct for punching petitioner? H: Yes. The Court ruled that the respondent is guilty of simple misconduct, but court held to increase the recommended fine of P2000 to P5000. The Code of Conduct for Court Personnel requires that the officials and employees of the Judiciary serve as sentinels of justice, and declares that any act of impropriety on their part affects the dignity of the Judiciary and the people’s faith in the Judiciary. Thus, the court personnel must exhibit the highest sense of honesty and integrity not only in the performance of their official duties, but also in their private dealings with their coemployees and the public. Their professional and personal conduct must be free from any whiff of impropriety. Here there is no sufficient proof showing that Relacion intentionally took Reas’ salary check from the Cooperative. Lucino Q. Garcia, an employee of the Cooperative, admitted in his certification dated October 9, 2004 that he had inadvertently surrendered “Reas’ salary check to Relacion. In addition, the compromise agreement between complainant and respondent, or the fact that complainant already forgave respondent, does not necessarily warrant the dismissal of the administrative case. Three reasons justify the continuation of the administrative matter despite the compromise agreement or the forgiveness. One, the Court’s disciplinary authority is not dependent on or cannot be frustrated by the private arrangements entered into by the parties; otherwise, the prompt and fair administration of justice, as well as the discipline of court personnel, will be undermined. Two, public interest is at stake in the conduct and actuations of the officials and employees of the Judiciary. Accordingly, the efforts of the Court in improving the delivery of justice to the people should not be frustrated and put to naught by any private arrangements between the parties. And, three, the Court’s interest in the affairs of the Judiciary is a paramount concern that bows to no limits.
DANIEL G. SEVILLA, Complainant, vs. JUDGE FRANCISCO S. LINDO, METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 55, MALABON CITY, Respondent. / A.M. No. MTJ-08-1714 / THIRD DIVISION LEGAL ETHICS / VIOLATION OF THE CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT AND CANON 6 OF THE CANONS OF JUDICIAL ETHICS F: Daniel G. Sevilla charged Hon. Francisco S. Lindo, then the Presiding Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 55, in Malabon City with delay in the disposition of Criminal Case No. J-L00-4260 (a prosecution for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22). Sevilla asserted that Judge Lindo thereby violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires that a judge should administer justice impartially and without delay; that Judge Lindo also violated Section 1, Rule 135 of the Rules of Court, which mandates that justice be impartially administered without unnecessary delay; that Judge Lindos unreasonable resetting of the hearings 12 times rendered inconsequential his right to the speedy disposition of his case; and that such resettings were made upon the instance of Judge Lindo, not upon motion of the parties. Judge Lindo refuted the charge, claiming that the postponements were upon valid grounds. The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) submitted its report with the recommendation that the instant complaint be re-docketed as a regular administrative matter and respondent Judge be found GUILTY of Delay in the Disposition of Cases tantamount to Inefficiency and Incompetence in the Performance of Official Duties and be meted a fine of P21,000.00 to be deducted from the retirement benefits of the herein respondent Judge who was compulsorily retired from the service effective July 24, 2007. I: Whether or not retired Judge Lindo was administratively liable for the numerous postponements in Criminal Case No. J-L00-4260? H: YES. Although the postponement of a hearing in a civil or criminal case may at times be unavoidable, the Court disallows undue or unnecessary postponements of court hearings, simply because they cause unreasonable delays in the administration of justice and, thus, undermine the people’s faith in the Judiciary, aside from aggravating the financial and emotional burdens of the litigants. For this reason, the Court has enjoined that postponements and resettings should be allowed only upon meritorious grounds, and has consistently reminded all trial judges to adopt a firm policy against improvident postponements. The strict judicial policy on postponements applies with more force and greater reason to prosecutions involving violations of BP 22, whose prompt resolution has been ensured by their being now covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure. The Court has pronounced that the Rule on Summary Procedure was precisely adopted to promote a more expeditious and inexpensive determination of cases, and to enforce the constitutional rights of litigants to the speedy disposition of cases. Judge Lindo made or allowed too many unreasonable postponements that inevitably delayed the proceedings and prevented the prompt disposition of Criminal Case No. JL00-4260 out of manifest bias in favor of the accused, to the prejudice of Sevilla as the complainant in Criminal Case No. J-L00-4260. Thus, he flagrantly violated the letter and spirit both of Rule 1.02 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which enjoined all judges to administer justice impartially and without delay; and of Canon 6 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, which required him as a trial judge to be prompt in disposing of all matters submitted to him, remembering that justice delayed is often justice denied. That his conduct proceeded from his bias towards the accused rendered his acts and omissions as gross misconduct. It is settled that the misconduct is grave if it involves any of the additional elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law, or disregard of long-standing rules, which must be established by substantial evidence; otherwise, the misconduct is only simple.
DARE ADVENTURE FARM CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, MANILA, HON. AUGUSTINE VESTIL, as Presiding Judge of RTC-CEBU, Br. 56, MANDAUE CITY, SPS. FELIX NG AND NENITA NG, and SPS. MARTIN T. NG AND AZUCENA S. NG AND AGRIPINA R. GOC-ONG, respondents. / G.R. No. 161122 / September 24, 2012 / FIRST DIVISION REMEDIAL LAW / ANNULMENT OF JUDGMENT CIVIL LAW / PROPERTY F: The petitioner acquired a parcel of land in San Roque, Lilo-an, Metro Cebu through a deed of absolute sale between the petitioner, as vendee, and Agripina R. Goc-ong et. al.,(collectively, the Goc-ongs, respondents), as vendors. The petitioner later on discovered the joint affidavit by the Goc-ongs and Sps. Felix Ng, declaring that Goc-ongs were the owners of the subject property and to secure their obligation to Ngs, they are mortgaging the property subject to the condition that should they fail to pay, the Ngs would automatically become the owners of the property. Goc-ongs failed to pay their obligation to the Ngs. Ngs filed a complaint for the recovery of a sum of money, or, in the alternative, for the foreclosure of mortgage in the RTC Mandaue City. The action was docketed as Civil Case No. MAN-2838. In its decision, the RTC ruled declaring the plaintiffs the owner of the subject lot. On appeal to the CA, the petitioner commenced an action for the annulment of the decision of the RTC however the CA dismissed outright the petition for annulment of judgment under Rule 47 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, considering that nowhere therein is there an allegation on why "the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer The petitioner moved for the available through no fault of the petitioner. reconsideration of the outright dismissal, but the CA denied its motion for reconsideration. I1: Whether or not the CA erred in dismissing the petitioner's action for annulment of judgment H1: No. Section 1 of Rule 47 extends the remedy of annulment only to a party in whose favor the remedies of new trial, reconsideration, appeal, and petition for relief from judgment are no longer available through no fault of said party. As such, the petitioner, being a non-party in Civil Case No. MAN-2838, could not bring the action for annulment of judgment due to unavailability to it of the remedies of new trial, reconsideration, appeal, or setting the judgment aside through a petition for relief. A petition for annulment of judgment is a remedy in equity so exceptional in nature that it may be availed of only when other remedies are wanting, and only if the judgment, final order or final resolution sought to be annulled was rendered by a court lacking jurisdiction or through extrinsic fraud. Yet, the remedy, being exceptional in character, is not allowed to be so easily and readily abused by parties aggrieved by the final judgments, orders or resolutions. The Court has thus instituted safeguards by limiting the grounds for the annulment to lack of jurisdiction and extrinsic fraud, and by prescribing in Section 1 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court that the petitioner should show that the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault of the petitioner. A petition for annulment that ignores or disregards any of the safeguards cannot prosper. The attitude of judicial reluctance towards the annulment of a judgment, final order or final resolution is understandable, for the remedy disregards the time-honored doctrine of immutability and unalterability of final judgments, a solid corner stone in the dispensation of justice by the courts.
I2: Whether or not the action for annulment of judgment under Rule 47 was a proper recourse for the petitioner to set aside the decision of the RTC; H2: No. We agree with the CA's suggestion that the petitioner's proper recourse was either an action for quieting of title or an action for reconveyance of the property. The action for quieting of title may be brought whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest in real property by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding that is apparently valid or effective, but is, in truth and in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title. TDE The other proper remedy the CA suggested was an action for reconveyance of property. According to Vda. de Recinto v. Inciong 32 the remedy belongs to the landowner whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another person's name. If the property has meanwhile passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value, the landowner may seek damages. SC PP: The doctrine of immutability and unalterability serves a two-fold purpose, namely: (a) to avoid delay in the administration of justice and thus, procedurally, to make orderly the discharge of judicial business; and (b) to put an end to judicial controversies, at the risk of occasional errors, which is precisely why the courts exist.
DENNIS Q. MORTEL, Petitioner, vs. SALVADOR E. KERR, Respondent. G.R. No. 156296 / November 12, 2012 / FIRST DIVISION LEGAL ETHICS / INEXPERIENCE OF COUNSEL REMEDIAL LAW / RE-TRIAL F: Respondent Salvador E. Kerr (Kerr) instituted a complaint for foreclosure of mortgage against Dennis Q. Mortel (Mortel), through Atty. Leonuel N. Mas (Atty. Mas) of the Public Attorney’s Office. The pre-trial was re-set four times for various reasons, but on the fifth setting, Mortel and Atty. Mas were not around when the case was called. On motion of Kerr’s counsel, the RTC declared Mortel as in default and allowed Kerr to present evidence ex parte. Atty. Eugenio S. Tumulak (Atty. Tumulak) filed a notice of appearance in behalf of Mortel, but the RTC did not act on the notice of appearance. RTC rendered judgment in favor of Kerr. Mortel, through Atty. Leopoldo C. Lacambra, Jr. (Atty. Lacambra), filed a motion for new trial. Later on, Atty. Mas filed his withdrawal of appearance. The RTC denied Mortel’s motion for new trial for being filed out of time. Mortel, this time through Atty. Tumulak, filed a verified petition for relief from judgment under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court. The RTC denied the verified petition for relief from judgment on the ground that the petition for relief had been filed beyond the reglementary period of 60 days based on a reckoning of the start of the period from March 1, 2001, the date when Atty. Mas received the notice and copy of the Order. Mortel moved for the reconsideration of the denial of his petition for relief from judgment but the RTC treated Mortel’s MR as a mere scrap of paper and ordered it stricken from the records for failure of the counsel to serve a notice of hearing with the MR. Eventually, the RTC granted the withdrawal of Atty. Lacambra and Atty. Mas as counsels for Mortel, and finally recognized Atty. Tumulak as the only counsel. Mortel filed an urgent motion for reconsideration vis-à-vis the RTC’s order of January 16, 2002 but was once again denied by RTC for being a second MR and for being moot and academic; and granted Kerr’s ex parte motion for the issuance of a writ of 32
G.R. No. L-26083, May 31, 1977, 77 SCRA 196, 201
possession. Mortel, through Atty. Tumulak, filed in the CA a petition for review on certiorari with prayer for the issuance of a restraining order. The CA issued a resolution dismissing Mortel’s petition for review for failing to state the specific material dates showing that the petition had been filed within the reglementary period. Mortel sought the reconsideration of the denial of his petition for review but was denied by CA for lack of merit because the defects of the petition for review were not corrected, and for availing himself of the remedy of petition for review when he should have filed a petition for certiorari instead. Mortel, by himself, sought an extension of time to file a petition for review on certiorari. The Court granted Mortel’s motion for extension with a warning that no further extension would be given. On January 22, 2003, Mortel, still by himself, filed his petition for review on certiorari assailing the CA’s dismissal of his petition for review on certiorari. Mortel prays that the Rules of Court be liberally interpreted in his favor to allow his petition for review on certiorari despite the various lapses of his counsels resulting in the loss of his opportunity to assail the resolutions of the RTC. On the other hand, Kerr insists that the CA correctly dismissed the petition because the errors of his former counsels bound Mortel. I: Whether or not the negligence of Mortel’s previous counsels should bind him H: The petition, being meritorious, is granted. As a rule, a client is bound by his counsel’s conduct, negligence and mistake in handling a case. To allow a client to disown his counsel’s conduct would render proceedings indefinite, tentative, and subject to reopening by the mere subterfuge of replacing counsel. But the rule admits of exceptions. In several rulings, the Court held the client not concluded by the negligence, incompetence or mistake of the counsel. For instance, in Suarez v. Court of Appeals, the Court set aside the judgment and mandated the trial court to reopen the case for the reception of the evidence for the defense after finding that the negligence of the therein petitioner’s counsel had deprived her of the right to present and prove her defense. The CA found that despite the opportunity given to him to do so, Mortel’s counsel erred in failing to state the specific material dates required by Section 6(d) of Rule 43 33, Rules of Court to show that the petition for review was filed within the reglementary period; and that Mortel resorted to the wrong remedy by filing a petition for review instead of a petition for certiorari because he was questioning the propriety of the RTC’s order declaring him as in default. Mortel’s counsel committed another error when he filed his urgent motion for extension of time to file an appeal in the CA, instead of in the SC, resulting in not stopping the running of the period of appeal and in thereby rendering the Resolution of the CA final. The negligence of Mortel’s counsels was so gross and palpable as to deprive him of his property without due process of law. Mortel did not have his day in court, because he was unable to submit his evidence to controvert the claim of Kerr about his contractual default after the RTC declared Mortel as in default due to his counsel’s
Section 6. Contents of the petition. — The petition for review shall (a) state the full names of the parties to the case, without impleading the court or agencies either as petitioners or respondents; (b) contain a concise statement of the facts and issues involved and the grounds relied upon for the review; (c) be accompanied by a clearly legible duplicate original or a certified true copy of the award, judgment, final order or resolution appealed from, together with certified true copies of such material portions of the record referred to therein and other supporting papers; and (d) contain a sworn certification against forum shopping as provided in the last paragraph of section 2, Rule 42. The petition shall state the specific material dates showing that it was filed within the period fixed herein 33
failure to appear at the fifth setting of the pre-trial. The RTC was equally responsible for Mortel’s dire plight. It appears that Mortel engaged Atty. Tumulak to take over as counsel from Atty. Mas. Atty. Tumulak notified the RTC of his appearance but the RTC uncharacteristically did not take either of such actions on the notice of appearance but proceeded to render its judgment on the merits. We held in Apex Mining, Inc. v. Court of Appeals 34 that when the incompetence, ignorance or inexperience of counsel is so great and the result is so serious that the client, who otherwise has a good cause, is prejudiced and denied his day in court, the client deserves another chance to present his case; hence, the litigation may be reopened for that purpose. Court litigation is primarily a search for truth, and a liberal interpretation of the rules that gives to both parties the fullest opportunity to adduce proof is the best way to ferret out such truth. Thus, a court may suspend its own rules or except a case from them in order to serve the ends of justice; or, it may altogether disregard the rules in a proper case.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff- Appelle, vs. ROGELIO ABRENCILLO, Accused-Appellant / G.R. No. 183100 / November 28, 2012 CRIMINAL LAW / IMPOSITION OF PENALTY & RAPE F: Accused Abrencillo is the common-law husband of BBB, the mother of AAA, the rape victim. The records show that the accused and BBB started their cohabitation when AAA and CCC, who were twin sisters, were only about three years of age. Accused lived with BBB’s family and that a father-daughter relationship developed between the accused and BBB's daughters. On March 1, 1999, BBB left the house early to sell fish. AAA was left alone in the house and took a nap after chatting with neighbours. AAA was suddenly awaken when the Accused raped her. AAA ran to the house of her Lolo Armin and reported what the accused had just done to her. Together, they went to the police station to report the rape. AAA narrated in her complaint affidavit that the accused had raped her even before that time, when she was still younger; and that she underwent physical examination by the municipal health officer. The RTC convicted the accused for qualified rape and prescribing the death penalty. It found that the rape was qualified by relationship, the accused being her stepfather, and by her minority, she being 15 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime. The CA upheld the conviction but downgrading the offense to simple rape because the accused was not AAA's stepfather due to him and BBB not having been legally married. I: Whether or not the penalty death penalty for qualified rape is properly imposed upon the Accused H: NO. The CA correctly prescribed reclusion perpetua. The rape that was committed was not qualified rape because the accused and BBB were not legally married to each other. What the records show, instead, was that they were in a common-law relationship, which meant that he was not the stepfather of AAA, contrary to the allegation of the information. Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, rape 34
G.R. No. 133750, November 29, 1999, 319 SCRA 456.
through force, threat or intimidation of a woman 12 years or over in age is punished by reclusion perpetua. Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code prescribes the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death whenever the rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon. Although the information alleged the use by the accused of a deadly weapon (bolo) in the commission of the rape, the CA still correctly prescribed the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua because the information did not allege the attendance of any aggravating circumstances. With the intervening revision of the Rules of Criminal Procedure (i.e., effective on December 1, 2000) in order to now require the information to state the "acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense and the qualifying and aggravating circumstances . . . in ordinary and concise language and not necessarily in the language used in the statute but in terms sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is being charged as well as its qualifying and aggravating circumstance and for the court to pronounce judgment," the Prosecution became precluded from establishing any act or circumstance not specifically alleged in the information if such act or circumstance would increase the penalty to the maximum period.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. PEDRO BUADO, JR. y CIPRIANO, accused-appellant. / G.R. No. 170634. January 8, 2013 / EN BANC CRIMINAL LAW / IMPOSITION OF PENALTY / RAPE F: On April 13, 1999, CCC (mother of the victims) and her children were attending a get-together party. The accused summoned his daughter AAA home from the party. Upon AAA getting home, he ordered her to enter the bedroom, and once she was inside, he undressed her and inserted his finger in her vagina. He then went on top of her and inserted his penis in her vagina, giving vent to his lust. AAA could only cry while he was forcing himself on her. Missing AAA at the party, CCC returned to the house and saw AAA crying. AAA told her that her father had just molested her. AAA further told her mother that he had done the same thing to her several times in the past. AAA explained in court that she finally revealed her ordeals to her mother because her sufferings had become unbearable. The rape of BBB, sister of AAA, was committed a few months later. The accused commanded BBB, who was then in the kitchen of their house, to undress and lie down on a piece of plywood laid out on the ground. Already naked from the waist down, he pushed her down to the floor, and lubricated his penis and BBB's vagina with cooking oil. He next went on top of her, inserted his penis into her genitalia, and made pumping motions. She stated that he had also raped her many times previously but that she had kept silent about the rapes out of fear of him. The Accused denied raping AAA and BBB. However the RTC convicted the accused of two (2) counts of Rape penalized under Article 335 35 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of R.A. No. 7659 36.
Article 335. When and how rape is committed. - Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: 35
1. By using force or intimidation; 2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and 3. When the woman is under twelve years of age, even though neither of the circumstances mentioned in the two next preceding paragraphs shall be present. The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua. Whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death. When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, the victim has become insane, the penalty shall be death. When rape is attempted or frustrated and a homicide is committed by reason or on the occasion thereof, the penalty shall be likewise death.
Elevated to the Court on automatic appeal, the records were transferred to the CA for intermediate review pursuant to People v. Mateo 37 The CA affirmed the conviction, but reduced the death penalty to reclusion perpetua. I: Whether or not the trial court erred in imposing death penalty upon the accused despite the prosecution’s failure to prove the special qualifying circumstances of relationship and minority. H: Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code 38, the death penalty is imposed if the rape is committed with the attendance of any "aggravating/qualifying circumstances." One of such "aggravating/qualifying circumstances" is "when the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and offender is a parent, ascendant, stepparent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim." Both minority and actual relationship must be alleged and proved; otherwise, conviction for rape in its qualified form will be barred. To establish the age of the minor victim, either as an element of the crime or as a qualifying circumstance, the Court has set the guidelines in People v. Pruna 39 as follows: In order to remove any confusion that may be engendered by the foregoing cases, we hereby set the following guidelines in appreciating age, either as an element of the crime or as a qualifying circumstance. 1. The best evidence to prove the age of the offended party is an original or certified true copy of the certificate of live birth of such party. 2. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar authentic documents such as baptismal certificate and school records which show the date of birth of the victim would suffice to prove age. 3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is shown to have been lost or destroyed or otherwise unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the victim's mother or a member of the family either by affinity or consanguinity who is qualified to testify on matters When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, a homicide is committed, the penalty shall be death. (As amended by R.A. 2632, approved June 18, 1960, and R.A. 4111, approved June 20, 1964).
Section 11. Article 335 of the same Code is hereby amended to read as follows:
"Art. 335. When and how rape is committed. - Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: 1. By using force or intimidation; 2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and 3. When the woman is under twelve years of age or is demented. The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua. Whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death. When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, the victim has become insane, the penalty shall be death. When the rape is attempted or frustrated and a homicide is committed by reason or on the occasion thereof, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death. When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, a homicide is committed, the penalty shall be death. The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following attendant circumstances: 1. when the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law-spouse of the parent of the victim. 2. when the victim is under the custody of the police or military authorities. 3. when the rape is committed in full view of the husband, parent, any of the children or other relatives within the third degree of consanguinity. 4. when the victim is a religious or a child below seven (7) years old. 5. when the offender knows that he is afflicted with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) disease. 6. when committed by any member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police or any law enforcement agency. 7. when by reason or on the occasion of the rape, the victim has suffered permanent physical mutilation." 37 38
G.R. Nos. 147678-87, July 7, 2004, 433 SCRA 640. Art. 266-B provides in part: xxxx The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following aggravating/qualifying circumstances: 1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent x x x of the victim. xxxx 5. When the victim is a child below seven (7) years old. G.R. No. 138471, October 10, 2002, 390 SCRA 577|||
respecting pedigree such as the exact age or date of birth of the offended party pursuant to Section 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be sufficient under the following circumstances: a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 7 years old; b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 12 years old; c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and what is sought to be proved is that she is less than 18 years old. 4. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic document, or the testimony of the victim's mother or relatives concerning the victim's age, the complainant's testimony will suffice provided that it is expressly and clearly admitted by the accused. 5. It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving the age of the offended party. The failure of the accused to object to the testimonial evidence regarding age shall not be taken against him. 6. The trial court should always make a categorical finding as to the age of the victim. During the trial, however, the Prosecution adduced no evidence to establish AAA’s minority save her testimony and that of her mother's. In the absence of proof of AAA's minority in accordance with the guidelines set in People v. Pruna, we concur with the CA's conclusion that he could not be properly found guilty of qualified rape. Indeed, his substantial right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him would be nullified otherwise. Accordingly, the CA correctly prescribed reclusion perpetua as the penalty. On the other hand, the amended information for the BBB’s rape case, it was sufficiently stated the minority of BBB and her being the daughter of the accused. Further, the Prosecution established that BBB was only nine years old at the time of the rape on November 10, 1999 through her certificate of live birth. Considering that the Prosecution duly proved BBB's minority and her relationship with the accused, the CA correctly affirmed the penalty of death meted by the RTC. With the intervening passage on June 24, 2006 of Republic Act No. 9346 however, the imposition of the death penalty has become prohibited. The retroactive application prohibition against the death penalty must be made here because it is favorable to the accused. Nonetheless, he shall not be eligible for parole, because Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9346 expressly provides that persons "whose sentences will be reduced to reclusion perpetua by reason of this Act" shall not be eligible for parole under Act No. 4103 (Indeterminate Sentence Law), as amended. SC PP: In reviewing rape convictions, the Court has been guided by three principles, namely: (a) that an accusation of rape can be made with facility; it is difficult for the complainant to prove but more difficult for the accused, though innocent, to disprove; (b) that in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape as involving only two persons, the rapist and the victim, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and (c) that the evidence for the Prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the Defense. Ultimately and frequently, the resolution of the charge of rape hinges on the credibility of the victim's testimony.
ROBERT VICTOR G. SEARES, JR., complainant, vs. ATTY. SANIATA LIWLIWA V. GONZALES-ALZATE, respondent. / Adm. Case No. 9058. November 14, 2012 / FIRST DIVISION LEGAL ETHICS / VIOLATION OF CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY F: Atty. SaniataLiwliwa V. Gonzales-Alzatewas the former lawyer of Complainant Robert Victor G. Seares, Jr. She was charged with incompetence and professional negligence, and a violation of the prohibition against representing conflicting interests. Seares, Jr. alleges that Atty. Gonzales-Alzate was his legal counsel when he ran for Mayor of Dolores, Abra in the May 2007 elections but lost to Albert Z. Guzman. Atty. Alzatefiled in his behalf a "Petition of Protest Ad Cautelam" in RTC BanguedAbra but was dismissed for being “fatally defective”. Eventually, Atty. Alzateinsisted on filing a "Petition of Protest" in the RTC, but the petition was also dismissed on the ground that it was already time-barred, and on the further ground of forum shopping because the certification against forum shopping was false. Searesran again for Municipal Mayor in the May 2010 elections, and won, and he later learned that his political opponents retained Atty. Alzate as their counsel. During his term as mayor, one CarlitoTurqueza charged him with abuse of authority, oppression and grave misconduct in the SangguniangPanlalawigan of Abra and Atty. Alzate represented the Complainant. Seares, Jr. asserts that Atty. Gonzales-Alzate thereby violated Canon 15, Canon 17 and Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for negligently handling his election protest, for prosecuting him, her former client, and for uttering false and hurtful allegations against him. Hence, he prays that she should be disbarred. Atty. Gonzales-Alzate denies the charges of professional negligence and incompetence, and of representing conflicting interests. She states that Seares’ counsel, Atty. Yasser Lumbos, cannot go to Abra to handle his case, hence Seares solicited her legal services in May 2007. Further, Alzate refutes the charge that she represented conflicting interests by explaining that: (a) she was engaged as an attorney in the May 2010 elections only by Dominic Valera (a candidate for Municipal Mayor of Bangued, Abra) and by President Aquino, neither of whom was Seares, Jr.'s political opponent; (b) CarlitoTurqueza used to be a political ally of Seares, Jr.; (c) she disclosed to Turqueza her having once acted as a counsel of Seares, Jr.; (d) Seares, Jr. did not object to her legal representation of Turqueza; and (e) the 2007 election protest that she handled for Seares, Jr. was unrelated to the administrative complaint that Turqueza brought against Seares, Jr. in 2010. I1: Was Atty. Gonzales-Alzate guilty of professional negligence and incompetence in her handling of Seares, Jr.'s electoral protest in the RTC? H1: We dismiss the disbarment complaint against Atty. Gonzales-Alzate. For administrative liability under Canon 18 to attach, the negligent act of the attorney should be gross and inexcusable as to lead to a result that was highly prejudicial to the client's interest. A reading of the June 8, 2007 order of the RTC Bangued, Abra shows that the true cause of the dismissal of Seares, Jr.'s "Petition for Protest Ad Cautelam" was its prematurity in light of the pendency in the Commission on Elections of his "Petition to Suspend Canvass and Proclamation." We see no trace of professional negligence or incompetence on the part of Atty. Gonzales-Alzate in her handling of Seares, Jr.'s protest, especially because she even filed in his behalf a "Motion for Reconsideration," a "Comment on the Court's Dismissal of the Protest Ad Cautelam" and a "Motion to Withdraw Cash Deposit." We cannot find Atty. Gonzales-Alzate professionally negligent in respect of the filing and eventual dismissal of the subsequent "Petition for Protest." The verification and certification against forum shopping contained handwritten superimpositions by Atty. Gonzales-Alzate, but such superimpositions were apparently made only to reflect the corrections of the dates of subscription and the notarial document number and docket number.
I2: Did Atty. Gonzales-Alzate violate the prohibition against representing conflicting interests when she assisted Turqueza in his administrative case against Seares, Jr., her former client? H2: No, Atty. Alzate did not violate Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility 40 prohibits an attorney from representing a party in a controversy that is either directly or indirectly related to the subject matter of a previous litigation involving another client. Atty. Gonzales-Alzate's legal representation of Turqueza neither resulted in her betrayal of the fidelity and loyalty she owed to Seares, Jr. as his former attorney, nor invited the suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing while she was performing her duties as an attorney. Representing conflicting interests would occur only where the attorney's new engagement would require her to use against a former client any confidential information gained from the previous professional relation. The prohibition did not cover a situation where the subject matter of the present engagement was totally unrelated to the previous engagement of the attorney. To constitute the violation, the attorney should be shown to intentionally use against the former client the confidential information acquired by her during the previous employment. But a mere allegation of professional misconduct would not suffice to establish the charge, because accusation was not synonymous with guilt. The prohibition against representing conflicting interests further necessitated identity of the parties or interests involved in the previous and present engagements. The adverse party in Seares, Jr.'s election protest in 2007 was Albert Z. Guzman, the newly-elected Municipal Mayor of Dolores, Abra, who was not involved in Turqueza's administrative complaint against Seares, Jr. In fact, Turqueza was not even a mayoral candidate in Dolores, Abra in the elections held in 2007 and in 2010. The allegation by Seares, Jr. that Atty. Gonzales-Alzate represented his political opponent was not even true because Turqueza was Seares, Jr.'s political ally, as Atty. Gonzales-Alzate stated. It is notable, too, that Seares, Jr. expressly agreed to Atty. Gonzales-Alzate's legal representation of Turqueza in the latter's administrative case against Seares, Jr. This is borne out by the affidavit of Turqueza that Atty. Gonzales-Alzate submitted. We find that the administrative complaint against Atty. Gonzales-Alzate was nothing but an attempt to vex, harass and humiliate her as well as to get even with her for representing Turqueza against Seares, Jr. We cannot tolerate it because attorneys are officers of the Court who are placed under our supervision and control due to the law imposing upon them peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities.We exist in a symbiotic environment with them where their duty to defend the courts is reciprocated by our shielding them from vindictive individuals who are deterred by nothing just to strip them of their privilege to practice law.
Rule 15.01 — A lawyer, in conferring with a prospective client, shall ascertain as soon as practicable whether the matter would involve a conflict with another client or his own interest, and if so, shall forthwith inform the prospective client. Rule 15.02 — A lawyer shall be bound by the rule on privilege communication in respect of matters disclosed to him by a prospective client. Rule 15.03 — A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Petitioner, vs. TEAM (PHILS.) ENERGY CORPORATION (formerly MIRANT (PHILS.) ENERGY CORPORATION), Respondent./G.R. No. 188016 /January 14, 2015/ FIRST DIVISION Taxation Law/Tax Refund F: Mirant (Philippines) Energy Corporation, a domestic corporation, filed an administrative claim for refund or issuance of tax credit certificate with the BIR in the total amount of P16,366,413.00, representing the overpaid income tax or the excess creditable withholding tax of the respondent for calendar years 2002 and 2003. Due to the inaction of the BIR and in order to toll the running of the two-year prescriptive period for claiming a refund under Section 229 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997, the respondent filed a petition for review in the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) on April 14, 2005. The CTA in Division ruled in favor of Mirant. The BIR filed a motion for reconsideration but the CTA in Division denied the same. The BIR then brought a petition for review before the CTA En Banc which was dismissed hence this instant petition. I: Whether or not Mirant proved its entitlement to the refund H: Yes, The requirements for entitlement of a corporate taxpayer for a refund or the issuance of tax credit certificate involving excess withholding taxes are as follows: 1. That the claim for refund was filed within the two-year reglementary period pursuant to Section 229 of the NIRC; 2. When it is shown on the ITR that the income payment received is being declared part of the taxpayer’s gross income; and 3. When the fact of withholding is established by a copy of the withholding tax statement, duly issued by the payor to the payee, showing the amount paid and income tax withheld from that amount. As to the first requirement, both the administrative and judicial claims for refund weretimely filed within the two-year prescriptive period. The total amount of Creditable Withholding Tax per petitioner's Annual ITRs for calendar years ended December 31, 2002 and December 31, 2003 agrees with the total amount of Creditable Withholding Tax presented on petitioner’s Schedule of Creditable Withholding Tax Certificates for the calendar years ended December 31, 2002 and December 31, 2003. Moreover, the total amount of gross sales/revenue reported in the Annual ITRs for calendar years 2002 and 2003 is equal to the amounts recorded in the General Ledger Listing of the Creditable Withholding Tax on the Transfer of Real Property and Sale of Electricity, 2002 Reconciliation of Revenue per ITR and per General Ledger. Hence, the second requirement is satisfied. With respect to the third requirement, the respondent proved that it had met the requirement by presenting the 10 certificates of creditable taxes withheld at source.
ALFREDO DE GUZMAN, JR., Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent./ G.R. No. 178512 / November 26, 2014/ FIRST DIVISION CRIMINAL LAW/FRUSTRATED HOMICIDE F: In 1997, Alexander was fetching water below his rented house in Mandaluyong City when suddenly Alfredo hit him on the nape. Alexander went upstairs and took a rest for about two hours. Thereafter, he went down and continued to fetch water. While pouring water into a container, Alfredo suddenly appeared in front of Alexander and stabbed him on his left face and chest. Cirilino, a son-in-law of Alexander, saw the latter bleeding on the left portion of his body and begging for help hence he immediately loaded Alexander into his motorcycle (backride) and brought him to the Mandaluyong City Medical Center. Upon arrival at the hospital, the doctors immediately rendered medical assistance to Alexander. He was then confined in the hospital and was subjected for further medical examination. When he filed a complaint against Alfredo, the Regional Trial Court convicted the latter for the crime of frustrated homicide. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed Alfredo’s conviction. Hence, this instant petition. I: Was the petitioner properly found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of frustrated homicide? H: Yes, The elements of frustrated homicide are: (1) the accused intended to kill his victim, as manifested by his use of a deadly weapon in his assault; (2) the victim sustained fatal or mortal wound but did not die because of timely medical assistance; and (3) noneof the qualifying circumstances for murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is present.The medical records indicate, indeed, that Alexander sustained two stab wounds, specifically, one on his upper left chest and the other on the left side of his face. The petitioner’s attack was unprovoked with the knife used therein causing such wounds, thereby belying his submission, and firmly proving the presence of intent to kill. There is also to beno doubt about the wound on Alexander’s chest being sufficient to result into his death were it not for the timely medical intervention. With the State having thereby shown that the petitioner already performed all the acts of execution that should produce the felony of homicide as a consequence, but did not produce it by reason of causes independent of his will, i.e., the timely medical attention accorded to Alexander, he was properly found guilty of frustrated homicide.
CONCHITA S. BAHALA, Complainant, vs. CIRILO DUCA, SHERIFF III, MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURT IN CITIES, BRANCH 1, CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Respondent./A.M. No. P-08-2465 January 12, 2015 [Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 04-1849-P]/FIRST DIVISION REMEDIAL LAW / CIVIL PROCEDURE / RULE 39 / DUTIES OF A SHERIFF F: The MTCC rendered judgment that was adverse to Bahala. Pending appeal, the rTC rendered a judgment on the compromise agreement of the parties pursuant to which Bahala paid the balance of the money judgment, among others. By the end of the twoyear extension, she offered to sell the building standing on the property that she had supposedly built in good faith. Not wanting to pay for the building, the plaintiff opted to execute the judgment. Sheriff Duca served the writ of execution. Bahala also alleged that Sheriff Duca demanded payments from her in several instances. Without filing his return on the writ, Sheriff Duca served a notice of auction sale. Consequently, Bahala opposed the sale and the RTC ruled in favor of her. In his answer, Sheriff Duca denied demanding and receiving any amount from Bahala. The Court resolved to re-docket this case as a regular administrative matter, and referred it to the Executive Judge of the RTC in Cagayan de Oro City for investigation and recommendation. In his report, then Executive Judge Edgardo T. Lloren found and concluded that Sheriff Duca had committed simple misconduct and recommended that he be suspended for six months and one day without pay. The OCA agreed with Judge Lloren’s finding. I: Whether or not Sheriff Cirilo Duca is guilty of gross misconduct and violation of the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act H: No, only dereliction or simple neglect of his duty as a sheriff because he failed to submit his Report of Service within thirty (30) days from receipt thereof and make periodic reports to the court until the judgment was fully satisfied AND simple misconduct for relying on the computations (of the correct amount due from the judgment obligor) submitted by private individuals. His penalty was lowered to threemonth suspension without pay. Based on Section 14, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court 41, it is mandatory for a sheriff to make a return of the writ of execution to the court issuing it. If the judgment cannot be satisfied in full within thirty (30) days after his receipt of the writ, the officer shall report to the court and state the reason or reasons therefore. The court officer is likewise tasked to make a report to the court every thirty (30) days on the proceedings taken thereon until the judgment is satisfied in full or its effectivity expires. The raison d’ etrebehind this requirement is to update the court on the status of the execution and to take necessary steps to ensurethe speedy execution of decision. Although Sheriff Duca thrice served the writ on Bahala, he filed his return only on October 7, 2003 after her property had been levied and sold on public auction. His excuses for his omission, that his "job was not yet finished," and that he had informedthe plaintiff on the status of its implementation, did not exculpate him from administrative liability, because there is no question that the failure to file a return on the writ constituted "simple neglect of duty. In addition, he should not have put undue reliance on the computation made by a private individual not duly deputized by the court. It must be borne in mind that respondent sheriff has, as an officer of the court, the duty to compute the amount due from the judgment debtor. For such actuation, respondent committed simple misconduct On the other hand, Bahala did not adduce substantial evidence to establish that Sheriff Duca had demanded and received monetary consideration to delay the implementation of the writ of execution hence the charge is dismissed for being without merit. SC PP: As an agent of the law, a sheriff must discharge his duties with due care and utmost diligence. He cannot afford to err while serving the court’s writs and processes without affecting the integrity of his office and the efficient administration of justice. He is not given any discretion on the implementation of a writ of execution; hence, he must strictly abide by the prescribed procedure to avoid liability.
Section 14, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court requires a sheriff implementing a writ of execution (1) to make and submit a return to the court immediately upon satisfaction in part or in full of the judgment; and (2) if the judgment cannot be satisfied infull, to make a report to the court within 30 days after his receipt of the writ and state why full satisfaction could not be made. He shall continue making the report every 30 days in the proceedings undertaken by him until the judgment is fully satisfied in order to apprise the court on the status of the execution and to take necessary steps to ensure speedy execution of decisions.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs. HEIRS OF SATURNINO Q. BORBON, AND COURT OF APPEALS, Respondents./ G.R. No. 165354 /January 12, 2015/ FIRST DIVISION POLITICAL LAW / EMINENT DOMAIN F: NAPOCOR entered a property in Batangas City to construct and maintain transmission lines. Respondent heirs of Saturnino Q. Borbon owned the property, with a total area of 14,257 square meters. NAPOCOR filed a complaint for expropriation in the RTC seeking the acquisition of an easement of right of way over a portion of the property involving an area of only 6,326 square meters, more or less. The respondents filed their answer with motion to dismiss. Subsequently, the RTC ruled that the price to be paid for an expropriated land is its value at the time of taking, which is the date when the plaintiff actually entered the property or the date of the filing of the complaint for expropriation. Accordingly, the RTC ordered NAPOCOR to pay the respondents: (1) just compensation for the whole area of 14,257 square meters at the rate of P550.00/square meter; (2) legal rate of interest from May 5, 1995 until full payment; and (3) the costs of suit. NAPOCOR appealed. The Court of Appeals ruled that NAPOCOR shall pay only for the occupied 6,326 square meters of the subject real property at the rate of P550.00 per square meter and to pay legal interest therefrom until fully paid. Hence this appeal by NAPOCOR. Meanwhile, during the pendency of the appeal, NAPOCOR filed a Manifestation and Motion to Discontinue Expropriation Proceedings, informing that the parties failed to reach an amicable agreement; that the property sought to be expropriated was no longer necessary for public purpose because of the intervening retirement of the transmission lines installed on the respondents’ property. I: whether or not the expropriation proceedings should be discontinued or dismissed pending appeal H: YES, the dismissal of the proceedings for expropriation at the instance of NAPOCOR is proper, but, conformably with Section 4, Rule 67 of the Rules of Court, the dismissal or discontinuance of the proceedings must be upon such terms as the court deems just and equitable. It is the duty and the obligation of the court, regardless of the stage of the proceedings, to dismiss the action "if it should be made to appear to the satisfaction of the court that the expropriation is not for some public use. In view of the discontinuance of the proceedings and the eventual return of the property to the respondents, there is no need to pay "just compensation" to them because their property would not be taken by NAPOCOR. Instead of full market value of the property, therefore, NAPOCOR should compensate the respondents for the disturbance of their property rights from the time of entry in March 1993 until the time of restoration of the possession by paying to them actual or other compensatory damages. SC PP: The expropriator who has taken possession of the property subject of expropriation is obliged to pay reasonable compensation to the landowner for the period of such possession although the proceedings had been discontinued on the ground that the public purpose for the expropriation had meanwhile ceased. The right of eminent domain is "the ultimate right of the sovereign power to appropriate, not only the public but the private property of all citizens within the territorial sovereignty, to public purpose." But the exercise of such right is not unlimited, for two mandatory requirements should underlie the Government’s exercise of the power of eminent domain, namely: (1) that it is for a particular public purpose; and (2) that just compensation be paid to the property owner. These requirements partake the nature of implied conditions that should be complied with to enable the condemnor to keep the property expropriated. The power of eminent domain is a right reserved to the people or Government to take property for public use. It is the right of the state, through its regular organization, to reassert either temporarily or permanently its dominion over any portion of the soil of the state on account of public necessity and for the public good. The right of eminent domain is the right which the Government or the people retains over the estates of individuals to resume them for public use. It is the right of the people, or the sovereign, to dispose, in case of public necessity and for the public safety, of all the wealth contained in the state.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. MA. HARLETA VELASCO y BRIONES, MARICAR B. INOVERO, MARISSA DIALA, and BERNA M. PAULINO, Accused, MARICAR B. INOVERO, Accused-Appellant. / FIRST DIVISION / G.R. No. 195668 / June 25, 2014 CRIMINAL LAW / CIVIL LIABILITY F: Accused-appellant Inovero, together with other accused were charged of illegal recruitment and estafa. Among the accused, only Inovera stood for trial while others remained at large until the rendition of judgment. The trial court dismissed the cases for estate but convicted her of illegal, recruitment. She was sentenced to be imprisoned and to pay a fine of P500,000.00. On appeal, and on her defense, Inovero contended that she was never an employee of the recruitment agency and the overseas employees never transacted with her directly. I: Whether the conviction and the award of damages is proper and H: Yes. There is therefore no doubt that the RTC correctly found that Inovero committed illegal recruitment in large scale by giving private complainants the impression that she can send them abroad for employment purposes, despite the fact that she had no license or authority to do so.xxx As to the civil liability: The nature of the obligation of the co-conspirators in the commission of the crime requires solidarity, and each debtor may be compelled to pay the entire obligation. As a co-conspirator, then, Inovero’s civil liability was similar to that of a joint tortfeasor under the rules of the civil law. Joint tortfeasors are those who command, instigate, promote, encourage, advise, countenance, cooperate in, aid or abet the commission of a tort, or who approve of it after it is done, if done for their benefit. They are also referred to as those who act together in committing wrong or whose acts, if independent of each other, unite in causing a single injury. Under Article 2194 of the Civil Code, joint tortfeasors are solidarily liable for the resulting damage. In other words, joint tortfeasors are each liable as principalsb, to the same extent and in the same manner as if they had performed the wrongful act themselves. It would not be an excuse for any of the joint tortfeasors to assert that her individual participation in the wrong was insignificant as compared to those of the others. Joint tortfeasors are not liable pro rata. The damages cannot be apportioned among them, except by themselves. They cannot insist upon an apportionment, for the purpose of each paying an aliquot part. They are jointly and severally liable for the whole amount. Hence, Inovero’s liability towards the victims of their illegal recruitment was solidary, regardless of whether she actually received the amounts paid or not, and notwithstanding that her co-accused, having escaped arrest until now, have remained untried.
RAFAEL JOSE CONSING, JR., PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT. / FIRST DIVISION / G.R. No. 161075, July 15, 2013 CIVIL LAW / AGENCY F: Petitioner negotiated with and obtained for himself and his mother, Cecilia de la Cruz (de la Cruz) various loans totaling P18,000,000.00 from Unicapital Inc. (Unicapital). The loans were secured by a real estate mortgage constituted on a parcel of land (property) covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-687599 of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of Cavite registered under the name of de la Cruz. In accordance with its option to purchase the mortgaged property, Unicapital agreed to purchase one-half of the property for a total consideration of P21,221,500.00. Payment was effected by off-setting the amounts due to Unicapital under the promissory notes of de la Cruz and Consing in the amount of P18,000,000.00 and paying an additional amount of P3,145,946.50. The other half of the property was
purchased by Plus Builders, Inc. (Plus Builders), a joint venture partner of Unicapital. Before Unicapital and Plus Builders could develop the property, they learned that the title to the property was really TCT No. 114708 in the names of Po Willie Yu and Juanito Tan Teng, the parties from whom the property had been allegedly acquired by de la Cruz. TCT No. 687599 held by De la Cruz appeared to be spurious. Unicapital issued demand letter to de la Cruz to return the money paid but there was no reply. Hence they'd initiated a Criminal complaint I: WON an agent may ne held liable for the debts/ liabilities of the principal H: The Court ruled that even if respondent is declared merely an agent of his mother in the transaction involving the sale of the questioned lot, he cannot be adjudged free from criminal liability. An agent or any person may be held liable for conspiring to falsify public documents. Hence, the determination of the issue involved in Civil Case No. SCA 1759 for Injunctive Relief is irrelevant to the guilt or innocence of the respondent in the criminal case for estafa through falsification of public document
SAMAR-MED DISTRIBUTION, PETITIONER, VS. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, AND JOSAFAT GUTANG, RESPONDENTS. / FIRST DIVISION / [ G.R. No. 162385, July 15, 2013 ] LABOR LAW / TERMINATION F: Samar-Med Distribution, a sole proprietorship registered in the name of Danilo V. Roleda (Roleda), engaged in the sale and distribution of intravenous fluids (IVs) in Region VIII (comprised by the several Samar and Leyte provinces). Gutang was hired for a basic salary of P7,000.00/month and an allowance of P2,000.00/month, and had the task of supervising the company’s sales personnel and sales agents, and of representing Samar-Med in transactions with the government in Region VIII. On August 16, 1996, Gutang filed a complaint for money claims against Roleda/SamarMed in the NLRC. He refiled the complaint on March 4, 1999 because the records were misplaced.He claimed that Samar-Med had difficulty paying his compensation during his employment. Roleda/Samar-Med denied liability for Gutang’s monetary claims, contending that Gutang was not his employee but an employee of the City Council of Manila; that Gutang had approached and asked him if he could assist in the operation of the business of Samar-Med in order to have extra income; that Gutang was thus permitted to sell Samar-Med’s products in his own hometown in Region VIII; that Gutang stopped selling and no longer returned to Manila after he was tasked to conduct an investigation of the shortage in sales collections; that there was no dismissal of Gutang, to speak of, but abandonment on his part. I: WON the petioler was illegally dismissed by Samar Med H: YES. The Court finds the same meritorious. It is clear from the records that there is an employer-employee relationship between the parties. As such, a valid termination of the same by the employer may only be had after the latter has complied with both the substantive and procedural requirements of the law. The Labor Code in Articles 282 and 283 provide for the just and authorized causes for termination while the procedural requirement pertains to the two notices and hearing requirements. These requirements provide that the employer must: 1) serve notice to the employee informing him/her of the grounds for his/her possible termination, 2) give the employee a chance to be heard, and 3) serve termination notice to the employee therefore (Rules Implementing the Labor Code, Rule XXIII, Section 2). The employer has the burden of proving the same. Based on the foregoing requirements, petitioner’s termination from employment is illegal.
MEGA MAGAZINE PUBLICATIONS, INC., JERRY TIU, AND SARITA V. YAP, Petitioners, vs. MARGARET A. DEFENSOR, Respondent. / FIRST DIVISION / G.R. No. 162021 / June 16, 2014 LABOR LAW / GRANT OF INCENTIVES AND BONUS /EXCEPTION TO THE GENERAL RULE F: Private respondent was an employee of petitioner as group publisher. Before her resignation, respondent submitted to the petitioner a proposal for schedule of incentives to be given to her and the sales team. MMPI replied with a different schedule of incentives while respondent submitted anew a revised proposal. Respondent filed her resignation letter and before leaving, MMPI sent a formalization of the approval of her proposal. Hence, respondent sought for the payment of her incentives and bonus. The labor arbiter and the NLRC denied the claim of respondent, however, upon a motion for reconsideration of the original judgment, the court of Appeals granted the claim of respondent. Hence, this appeal. I: whether an employee can demand payment of incentives and bonus. H: Yes. The grant of a bonus or special incentive, being a management prerogative, is not a demandable and enforceable obligation, except when the bonus or special incentive is made part of the wage, salary or compensation of the employee, or is promised by the employer and expressly agreed upon by the parties. By its very definition, bonus is a gratuity or act of liberality of the giver, and cannot be considered part of an employee’s wages if it is paid only when profits are realized or a certain amount of productivity is achieved. If the desired goal of production or actual work is not accomplished, the bonus does not accrue. Due to the nature of the bonus or special incentive being a gratuity or act of liberality on the part of the giver, the respondent could not validly insist on the schedule proposed in her memorandum of April 5, 1999 considering that the grant of the bonus or special incentive remained a management prerogative. However, the Court agrees with the CA’s ruling that the petitioners had already exercised the management prerogative to grant the bonus or special incentive. At no instance did Yap flatly refuse or reject the respondent’s request for commissions and the bonus or incentive. This is plain from the fact that Yap even "bargained" with the respondent on the schedule of the rates and the revenues on which the bonus or incentive would be pegged.
FERDINAND A. SAMSON, COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. EDGARDO O. ERA, RESPONDENT. / EN BANC / [ A.C. No. 6664, July 16, 2013 ] LEGAL ETHICS / CONFLICT OF INTEREST F: Ferdinand A. Samson has brought this complaint for disbarment charging respondent Atty. Edgardo O. Era with violation of his trust and confidence of a client by representing the interest of Emilia C. Sison, his present client, in a manner that blatantly conflicted with his interest. Samson and his relatives were among the investors who fell prey to the pyramiding scam perpetrated by ICS Exports, Inc. Exporter, Importer, and Multi-Level Marketing Business (ICS Corporation), a corporation whose corporate officers were led by Sison. The other officers were Ireneo C. Sison, William C. Sison, Mimosa H. Zamudio, Mirasol H. Aguilar and Jhun Sison. Samson engaged Atty. Era to represent and assist him and his relatives in the criminal prosecution of Sison and her group. Pursuant to the engagement, Atty. Era prepared the demand lettering other legal documents for them. On April 2003, Atty. Samson gathered the to discuss an amicable settlement with the Sison. The parties agreed to settle with a parcel of land located in Antipolo. When Samson and his party inquired in the RD of Antipolo they were dismayed that the property is no longer registered with the scam company. They tried to contact Atty.Era but to no avail. Later they found out that Atty.Era was already representing the Sison on several case regarding the scam. I: WON Atty.Era violated the Code of Professional Respondisibility by representing two conflicting parties H: YES. There is conflict of interest. It is when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties. Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility expressly declares that: “A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.” The lawyer’s highest and most unquestioned duty is to protect the client at all hazards and costs even to himself. The protection given to the client is perpetual and does not cease with the termination of the litigation, nor is it affected by the client’s ceasing to employ the attorney and retaining another, or by any other change of relation between them. It even survives the death of the client. Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that: “A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.” Atty. Era thus owed to Samson and his group entire devotion to their genuine interest, and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of their rights. An attorney who wittingly represents and serves conflicting interests may be suspended from the practice of law, or even disbarred when circumstances so warrant.
GILFREDO BACOLOD, A.K.A. GILARDO BACOLOD, ACCUSED-PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT / FIRST DIVISION / G.R. No. 206236, July 15, 2013 REMEDIAL LAW / EVIDENCE F: On March 31, 2008, the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 9, in Cebu City convicted the petitioner of arson. The accused GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Arson, this Court hereby sentences him to suffer imprisonment for a period of Ten (10) Years of Prision Mayor in its medium period as minimum to Sixteen (16) Years of Reclusion Temporal in its medium period as maximum. On December 9, 2011, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the conviction. Hence, this appeal by petition for review on certiorari. The petitioner submits that both the RTC and the CA erred in their appreciation of the evidence. He insists that no witness had actually seen him set the house on fire; that the State did not show that he had the motive to commit the arson; and that only circumstantial evidence was presented against him, but such evidence, not being incompatible with the hypothesis favoring his innocence, was insufficient to support a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. I: WON the absence of direct evidence can determine the guilt of the accused H: The Court affirms the conviction. The lack or absence of direct evidence does not necessarily mean that the guilt of the accused cannot be proved by evidence other than direct evidence. Direct evidence is not the sole means of establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt, because circumstantial evidence, if sufficient, can supplant the absence of direct evidence. The crime charged may also be proved by circumstantial evidence, sometimes referred to as indirect or presumptive evidence. Circumstantial evidence has been defined as that which “goes to prove a fact or series of facts other than the facts in issue, which, if proved, may tend by inference to establish a fact in issue
RE: FAILURE OF FORMER JUDGE ANTONIO A. CARBONELL TO DECIDE CASES SUBMITTED FOR DECISION AND TO RESOLVE PENDING MOTIONS IN THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 27, SAN FERNANDO, LA UNION. / EN BANC / A.M. No. 08-5-305-RTC, July 09, 2013 LEGAL ETHICS F: This administrative case originates from the judicial audit conducted by the OCA on March 3 and 4, 2008 in the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, La Union, Branch 27, in view of the disability retirement of Presiding Judge Antonio A. Carbonell on December 31, 2007. According to the Audit Team’s Report, Branch 27 had a total caseload of 231 cases, consisting of 147 criminal cases and 84 civil cases, and Judge Carbonell failed to decide 41 criminal cases (one inherited), 22 civil cases (four inherited) and he also failed to resolved pending motions and incidents in 12 criminal case. On May 15, 2008 OCA recommended that the cJudge be fine P50K and the case be resolved immediately. Judge Carbonell was asked to comment on said findings of the Auditor Team. I: WON Judge Carbonell be held liable to pay fine for his failure to render decision to a total of 63 cases Judge Carbonell’s failure to decide several cases within the reglementary period, without justifiable and credible reasons, constituted gross inefficiency, warranting the imposition of administrative sanctions, like fines. The fines imposed have varied in each case, depending chiefly on the number of cases not decided within the reglementary period and other factors, including the presence of aggravating or mitigating circumstances like the damage suffered by the parties from the delay, the
health condition and age of the judge, etc. Thus, in one case, the Court mitigated the liability of a Judge who had been suffering from illnesses and who had later retired due to disability, and imposed upon him a fine of P20,000.00 for failure to decide 31 cases. Considering that Judge Carbonell similarly retired due to disability, the Court believes that his poor health condition greatly contributed to his inability to efficiently perform his duties as a trial judge. That mitigated his administrative liability, for which reason the Court reduces the recommended penalty of fine from P50,000.00 to P20,000.00.
VECTOR SHIPPING CORPORATION AND FRANCISCO SORIANO, PETITIONERS, VS.AMERICAN HOME ASSURANCE COMPANY AND SULPICIO LINES, INC., RESPONDENTS. / FIRST DIVISION / G.R. No. 159213, July 03, 2013 CIVIL LAW / SUBROGATION F: Vector was the operator of the motor tanker M/T Vector, while Soriano was the registered owner of the M/T Vector. Respondent is a domestic insurance corporation. On September 30, 1987, Caltex entered into a contract of affreightment with Vector for the transport of Caltex’s petroleum cargo through the M/T Vector. Caltex insured the petroleum cargo with respondent for P7,455,421.08 under Marine Open Policy No. 345093-6. In the evening of December 20, 1987, the M/T Vector and the M/V Doña Paz, the latter a vessel owned and operated by Sulpicio Lines, Inc., collided in the open sea near Dumali Point in Tablas Strait, located between the Provinces of Marinduque and Oriental Mindoro. The collision led to the sinking of both vessels. The entire petroleum cargo of Caltex on board the M/T Vector perished. On July 12, 1988, respondent indemnified Caltex for the loss of the petroleum cargo in the full amount of P7,455,421.08. I: WON the cause of action of respondent was already barred by prescription for bringing it only on March 5, 1992. H: SC agrees with the RTC correctly dismissed respondent’s complaint on the ground of prescription. They insist that this action was premised on a quasi-delict or upon an injury to the rights of the plaintiff, which, pursuant to Article 1146 of the Civil Code, must be instituted within four years from the time the cause of action accrued; that because respondent’s cause of action accrued on December 20, 1987, the date of the collision, respondent had only four years, or until December 20, 1991, within which to bring its action, but its complaint was filed only on March 5, 1992, thereby rendering its action already barred for being commenced beyond the four-year prescriptive period; and that there was no showing that respondent had made extrajudicial written demands upon them for the reimbursement of the insurance proceeds as to interrupt the running of the prescriptive period. We concur with the CA’s ruling that respondent’s action did not yet prescribe. The legal provision governing this case was not Article 1146 of the Civil Code, but Article 1144 of the Civil Code, which states: Article 1144. The following actions must be brought within ten years from the time the cause of action accrues: (1) Upon a written contract; (2) Upon an obligation created by law; (3) Upon a judgment. Subrogation under Article 2207 of the Civil Code gives rise to a cause of action created by law. For purposes of the law on the prescription of actions, the period of limitation is ten years.
CATALINA BALAIS-MABANAG, assisted by her husband, ELEUTERIO MABANAG vs. THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF QUEZON CITY, CONCEPCION D. ALCARAZ, and RAMONA PATRICIA ALCARAZ / G.R. No. 153142, March 29, 2010 / FIRST DIVISION MAIN TOPIC: CIVIL LAW / LAND TITLES / CITIZENSHIP VIS-À-VIS THE CAPACITY TO ACQUIRE LANDS Others: CITIZENSHIP / ESCHEAT IN CONNECTION WITH BP 185 F: The controversy of the instant case started when Concepcion, herein respondent (Ramona’s mother), filed a complaint for specific performance and damages against the Coronels. The Coronels sold their inherited house and lot located in Quezon City to petitioner Catalina for a higher price after the latter delivered an initial sum of P300,000.00. For this reason, the Coronels rescinded their prior contract with respondent Ramona by depositing the amount of P50,000.00 in the bank in trust for her, which amount her mother had given to the former as downpayment on the total purchase price for the subject property. Ultimately, the RTC and the CA ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, herein respondents, in the said civil case. For failure of petitioner and the Coronels to comply with the writ of execution, the RTC ordered that the deed be executed and the title over the property be registered in favor of Ramona. Petitioner and the Coronels then filed in the CA a petition for certiorari assailing the RTC’s orders but the CA dismissed the petition (and later on, denied petitioner’s MR). A special civil action of certiorari was then filed [only] by petitioner in the CA to assail RTC’s action of granting respondents’ pending motion and denial of petitioner’s MR against the same. However, the CA dismissed the petition (and denied petitioner’s MR). Hence, this petition for review on certiorari, in which the petitioner submits that the CA erred in sustaining the registration by the Registrar of Deeds of the deed of absolute sale despite the lack of indication of the citizenship of the buyer of the subject property; and, in sustaining the order of the RTC directing the Branch Clerk of Court to execute the deed of absolute sale without first requiring the defendants to execute the deed of absolute sale as required by the decision. I1: Whether the issue of citizenship of the registered owner of land can still be raised to forestall the execution of a final and executory judgment where the objecting party had the opportunity to raise such issue prior to the finality of the judgment. H1: NO.The petitioner’s move was outrightly unwarranted. First: The petitioner did not raise any issue against Ramona’s qualifications to own land in the Philippines during the trial or, at the latest, before the finality of the RTC judgment. The petitioner was thereby deemed to have waived the objection, pursuant to Section 1, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court, to wit: Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. — Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations, the court shall dismiss the claim. (2a) In every action, indeed, the parties and their counsel are enjoined to present all available defenses and objections in order that the matter in issue can finally be laid to rest in an appropriate contest before the court. The rule is a wise and tested one, borne by necessity. Without the rule, there will be no end to a litigation, because the dissatisfied litigant may simply raise "new" or additional issues in order to prevent, defeat, or delay the implementation of an already final and executory judgment. The endlessness of litigation can give rise to added costs for the parties, and can surely contribute to the unwarranted clogging of court dockets. The prospect of a protracted litigation between the parties annuls the very rationale of every litigation to attain justice. Verily, there must be an end to litigation.
Second: The petitioner cannot now insist that the RTC did not settle the question of the respondents’ qualifications to own land due to non-citizenship. It is fundamental that the judgment or final order is, with respect to the matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could have been raised in relation thereto, conclusive between the parties and their successors in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action or special proceeding, litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same capacity. Thus, in Gabuya v. Layug, this Court had the occasion to hold that a judgment involving the same parties, the same facts, and the same issues binds the parties not only as to every matter offered and received to sustain or defeat their claims or demands, but also as to any other admissible matter that might have been offered for that purpose and all other matters that could have been adjudged in that case. I2: Whether petitioner has the capacity to institute the suit challenging Ramona’s qualifications to acquire land. H2: NONE. Petitioner was not the proper party to challenge Ramona’s qualifications to acquire land. Under Section 7, Batas PambansaBlg. 185, the Solicitor General or his representative shall institute escheat proceedings against its violators. Although the law does not categorically state that only the Government, through the Solicitor General, may attack the title of an alien transferee of land, it is nonetheless correct to hold that only the Government, through the Solicitor General, has the personality to file a case challenging the capacity of a person to acquire or to own land based on non-citizenship. This limitation is based on the fact that the violation is committed against the State, not against any individual; and that in the event that the transferee is adjudged to be not a Filipino citizen, the affected property reverts to the State, not to the previous owner or any other individual. Herein, even assuming that Ramona was legally disqualified from owning the subject property, the decision that voids or annuls their right of ownership over the subject land will not inure to the benefit of the petitioner. Instead, the subject property will be escheated in favor of the State in accordance with Batas PambansaBlg. 185. I3: Whether the deed of absolute sale executed by Branch Clerk of Court was valid. H3: YES. The Court did not agree to petitioner’s contention that the RTC did not see to it that the writ of execution be first served on her, and a demand for her compliance be first made; hence, the deed of absolute sale executed by the Branch Clerk of Court to implement the judgment was void. The CA found that it was the petitioner who did not comply with the notice of the sheriff of the implementation of the judgment through the writ of execution; and that her non-compliance then justified the RTC’s order to the Branch Clerk of Court to execute the deed of absolute sale to implement the final judgment rendered in G. R. No. 103577. The fact that the petitioner and her counsel maneuvered to thwart, or, at least, to delay the inevitable execution of the judgment warranted the RTC’s directing the Branch Clerk of Court execute the deed of absolute sale to implement the judgment. The RTC’s effort to implement the judgment could not be stymied by the petitioner’s deliberate refusal to comply with the judgment. Such deliberate refusal called for the RTC to order the Branch Clerk of Court to execute the deed of absolute sale in favor of Ramona, which move of the trial court was precisely authorized by Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, to wit: Section 10. Execution of judgments for specific act. — (a) Conveyance, delivery of deeds, or other specific acts; vesting title. — If a judgment directs a party who execute a conveyance of land or personal property, or to deliver deeds or other documents, or to perform any other specific act in connection therewith, and the party fails to comply within the time specified, the court may direct the act to be done at the cost of the disobedient party by some other person appointed by the court and the act when so done shall have like effect as if done by the party. If real or personal property is situated within the Philippines, the court in lieu of directing a conveyance thereof may be an order divest the title of any
party and vest it in others, which shall have the force and effect of a conveyance executed in due form of law. (10a)
MAYOR ABRAHAM N. TOLENTINOvs.COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JOCELYN RICARDO, ARNEL TARUC, MARLENE CATAN, MARIA THERESA MENDOZA COSTA, FIDELA ROFOLS CASTILLO, DOMINADOR BASSI, ROBERTO MALABANAN HERNANDEZ, NERISSA MANZANO, LEONIDEZ MAGLABE HERNANDEZ, TAGUMPAY REYES, and ELINO FAJARDO / G.R. Nos. 187958, 187961, and 187962, April 7, 2010 x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x VICE-MAYOR CELSO P. DE CASTROvs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and ARNEL TARUC / G.R. Nos. 187966, 187967, and 187968 EN BANC MAIN TOPIC: POLITICAL LAW SUB-TOPICS: ELECTION LAW / ELECTION CONTESTS AND PROTESTS CONSTITUTIONAL LAW / DUE PROCESS / CARDINAL RULES FOR PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS IN ADMINISTRATIVE OR QUASI-JUDICIAL TRIBUNALS F: In the May 14, 2007 elections, all the parties ran for elective local offices in Tagaytay City. Tolentino and De Castro were proclaimed as the duly elected Mayor and Vice-Mayor, respectively. The private respondents contested the election results against the proclaimed winning candidates for Mayor, Vice-Mayor and Members of the Sanggunian Panlungsod. The protests were raffled to the Second Division of the COMELEC. The records do not contain the order for the consolidation of the cases, but it appears that they were consolidated previously inasmuch as the caption of all orders issued by the Division indicated the joining of the cases. Protested ballot boxes were subjected to inventory and turned over to the Election Officer of Tagaytay City for delivery and submission to the COMELEC’s Electoral Contests Adjudication Department (ECAD) in Manila.Tolentino and De Castro took turns to suspend the transmittal of the ballot boxes to ECAD to no avail.Upon denial of Tolentino’s motion, he elevated the issue to the Court by petition for certiorariwhich was eventually dismissed for lack of merit. De Castro moved for the reconsideration of the said order in the COMELEC en banc, which denied the motion. In the order dated March 6, 2008, the Division re-directed the City Treasurer and the Election Officer of Tagaytay City to implement the directives of its September 7, 2007 order. In this connection, the Court ruled on September 16, 2008 in G.R. No. 183806-08 – Tolentino’s earlier petition for certiorari – that there was no longer any legal bar against the full implementation of the Division’s September 7, 2007 order for the immediate transmittal of the ballot boxes for purposes of the revision and recount.De Castro again sought the suspension of the revision proceedings, citing the order issued on November 17, 2008 by the SET, asserting the SET’s preferential custody over the ballot boxes, election documents, and election paraphernalia. However, the Division resolved not to suspend the revision proceedings, and instead directed the Election Officer of Tagaytay City to deliver the affected ballot boxes to the SET, with the remainder of the ballot boxes to be deposited in the ECAD Ballot Box Storage Area in Manila. Pursuant to the Division’s order, Revision Committees were constituted primarily to verify the condition of the subject ballot boxes and submit a report thereon, to become the basis for the Division to resolve the pending issue. Tolentino and De Castro separately moved for the reconsideration of the Division’s order. Tolentino thereby
raised prematurity due to the unresolved pending issues, the absence of guidelines or procedure, and the fact that not all the involved ballot boxes were in the COMELEC’s custody. De Castro sought to clarify the dispositions in the assailed order, reminding that there would be a simultaneous revision for the three protest cases involving three positions; and to suspend the proceedings until after all pending incidents were resolved pursuant to Section 2, Rule 19 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. The Division issued the first assailed order [by Tolentino] in G.R. Nos. 187958 and 187961-62, formally requesting the SET to allow the revision to proceed within its premises. Tolentino moved to reconsider this order, but the Division denied his motion through its second assailed order. In G.R. Nos. 187966-68, De Castro assails the Division’s order which denied the motion to suspend the scheduled revision of ballots in the SET premises. De Castro prayed for the issuance of a TRO or writ of preliminary injunction or status quo ante order. ISSUES: G.R. No. 187958 and Nos. 187961-62 1. Whether the order of revision and the revision of ballots synchronized with that of the SET were proper. 2. Doctrinal guidelines in settling the issue in an election protest of who among the parties was the real choice of the electorate. 3. Whether there was a violation of Tolentino’s right to due process by the nonobservance of the cardinal rules of due process in administrative adjudications and by the piece-meal resolution of the pending incidents. G.R. Nos. 187966-68 4. Whether or not public respondent COMELEC Second Division committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the questioned order. ______ H1: YES. First:In regular election contests, the general averment of fraud or irregularities in the counting of votes justifies the examination of the ballots and recounting of votes. This process of examination is the revision of the ballots pursuant to Section 6, Rule 20 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure, to wit: Section 6. Revision of Ballots. – When the allegations in a protest or counterprotest so warrant, or whenever in the opinion of the Commission or Division the interest of justice so demands, it shall immediately order the ballot boxes containing ballots and their keys, list of voters with voting records, book of voters, and other documents used in the election to be brought before the Commission, and shall order the revision of the ballots. The protests involved herein assailed the authenticity of the election returns and the veracity of the counting of the ballots. In that regard, the ballots themselves are the best evidence, for, as stated in Miguel v. Commission on Elections: The rule in this jurisdiction is clear and jurisprudence is even clearer. In a string of categorical pronouncements, we have consistently ruled that when there is an allegation in an election protest that would require the perusal, examination or counting of ballots as evidence, it is the ministerial duty of the trial court to order the opening of the ballot boxes and the examination and counting of ballots deposited therein. The only means to overcome the presumption of legitimacy of the election returns is to examine and determine first whether the ballot boxes have been substantially preserved in the manner mandated by law. Hence, the necessity to issue the order of revision. Second: The synchronized revision of ballots by the SET and the Division is allowed under Section 3 of COMELEC Resolution No. 2812, which provides: Section 3. The Tribunals, the Commission and the Courts shall coordinate and
make arrangement with each other so as not to delay or interrupt the revision of ballots being conducted. The synchronization of revision of ballots shall be such that the expeditious disposition of the respective protest cases shall be the primary concern. According to Mendoza v. Commission on Elections, the COMELEC does not lose jurisdiction over the provincial election contest by reason of the transmittal of the provincial ballot boxes and other election materials to the SET, because its jurisdiction over provincial election contest exists side by side with the jurisdiction of the SET, with each tribunal being supreme in its respective areas of concern, with neither being higher than the other in terms of precedence; hence, the jurisdiction of one must yield to the other. In the proper exercise of its jurisdiction, therefore, the Division, mindful of the need for the expeditious disposition of the cases, formally requested the SET to permit the revision of the 44 ballot boxes within its premises. The Division made this request although it had suspended the revision proceedings through a previous order on account of the then incomplete number of ballot boxes in ECAD’s custody. In this connection, the contention that the Division’s suspension order became immutable cannot be upheld; such an order, being essentially interlocutory in character, could not attain finality. An interlocutory order is one that resolves an incidental or collateral matter without putting an end to the case, and for that reason does not become final and immutable upon the expiration of the period prescribed for taking an appeal from a judgment or final order. It is clear that by its suspension order the Division only adopted an auxiliary means necessary to carry its jurisdiction into effect. In that light, we should find that there was no irregularity in the Division’s lifting of the suspension, for, after all, nothing prohibited the COMELEC from undertaking the appreciation of ballots in tandem with the SET’s own revision of ballots for the senatorial electoral protest. Third: Under Section 11, Rule 20 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, one of the most indispensable informations that should appear in the revision report relates to the conditions of the ballot boxes. The importance of this information cannot be understated. According to Rosal v. Commission on Elections, "the integrity of the ballots and therefore their probative value, as evidence of the voters’ will, are contingent on the integrity of the ballot boxes in which they were stored." This was precisely what Tolentino was asking the Division to do before the order of revision issued. Yet, the Court rejects Tolentino’s urging for obvious reasons. Any defects in the security locks or seals of the set-aside ballot boxes, as predetermined by the examining Election Officer, could not yet satisfy the requirement of the rule. For one, the COMELEC was not bound by the report simply because the defects still needed to be confirmed during the process of actual revision. Moreover, the presumption that the ballots reflected the intent of the voters, as expressly recognized in Section 6(c)(2), Rule 13 of A.M. No. 07-4-15- SC, should not be done away with solely on the basis of the report of the City Election Officer, by which said officer complied with a requirement set primarily for the transmittal of the ballot boxes involved. Rosal, which A.M. No. 07-4-15- SCcomplements, demands more than such a report in order to overcome the presumption. More than such report, there should be a full blown trial in which all the parties concerned should be allowed the opportunity to present their own evidence, to raise their objections, and to pose their claims before reaching a finding of ballot box tampering. Rosal clearly mandates so, viz: Under the circumstances, the question as to who between the parties was duly elected to the office of mayor cannot be settled without further proceedings in the Comelec. In keeping with the precepts laid down in this decision, the Comelec must first ascertain, after due hearing, whether it has before it the same ballots cast and counted in the elections. For this purpose, it must determine: (1) which ballot boxes sufficiently retained their integrity as to justify the conclusion that the ballots contained therein could be relied on as better evidence than the election returns and (2) which ballot boxes were in such a condition as would afford a reasonable opportunity for unauthorized persons to gain unlawful access to their contents. In the latter case, the ballots must be held to have lost all probative value and cannot be used to set aside the official
count reflected in the election returns. Consequently, no ruling could be handed down against the integrity of the ballot boxes that would effectively render naught the evidentiary value of the ballots they contained unless a full blown trial on the merits was first conducted. Tolentino should accept the legal impossibility for the Division to rule on the issue of inclusion or exclusion of the set-aside ballot boxes except after the revision process. H2: GUIDELINES – In Rosal, the Court set the doctrinal guidelines in settling the issue in an election protest of who among the parties was the real choice of the electorate, thus: We summarize the foregoing doctrines: (1) the ballots cannot be used to overturn the official count as reflected in the election returns unless it is first shown affirmatively that the ballots have been preserved with a care which precludes the opportunity of tampering and all suspicion of change, abstraction or substitution; (2) the burden of proving that the integrity of the ballots has been preserved in such a manner is on the protestant; (3) where a mode of preserving the ballots is enjoined by law, proof must be made of such substantial compliance with the requirements of that mode as would provide assurance that the ballots have been kept inviolate notwithstanding slight deviations from the precise mode of achieving that end; (4) it is only when the protestant has shown substantial compliance with the provisions of law on the preservation of ballots that the burden of proving actual tampering or the likelihood thereof shifts to the protestee and (5) only if it appears to the satisfaction of the court or Comelec that the integrity of the ballots has been preserved should it adopt the result as shown by the recount and not as reflected in the election returns. The foregoing guidelines were inapplicable, however, considering that the proceedings were still in the hearing stage. This explains why the Division deemed the determination of the physical conditions of the ballot boxes as a necessary measure for its final determination of whether or not to give probative value to the ballots contained in the set-aside ballot boxes. The Division had still to reach the deliberative stage of the protests, when it would decide based on the evidence presented during trial. Before then, deciding on the propriety of relying on the results of the revision of ballots instead of the election returns did not yet arise. H3: THERE WAS NONE. In Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations, the Court enunciated the cardinal rules for procedural due process in administrative or quasi-judicial tribunal, to wit: 1. The right to a hearing, which includes the right to present one’s case and submit evidence in support thereof; 2. The tribunal must consider the evidence presented; 3. The decision must have something to support itself; 4. The evidence must be substantial. Substantial evidence is such reasonable evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion; 5. The decision must be based on the evidence presented at the hearing, or at least contained in the record and disclosed to the parties affected; 6. The tribunal or body or any of its judges must act on its or his own independent consideration of the law and facts of the controversy, and not simply accept the views of a subordinate; and 7. The tribunal or body should render its decision in such manner that the parties to the proceeding can know the various issues involved and the reason for the decision rendered.
The Ang Tibay formulation was overlapping and repetitious. Hence, in Air Manila, Inc. v. Balatbat, the formulation was simplified into four basic rights, as follows: 1. The right to notice, be it actual or constructive, of the institution of the proceedings that may affect a person’s legal right; 2. The right to a reasonable opportunity to appear and defend his rights and to introduce witnesses and relevant evidence in his favor; 3. The right to a tribunal so constituted as to give him reasonable assurance of honesty and impartiality, and one of competent jurisdiction; and 4. The right to a finding or decision of that tribunal supported by substantial evidence presented at the hearing or at least ascertained in the records or disclosed to the parties. Gauged upon the foregoing guidelines, Tolentino’s gripe was unwarranted. He was not denied procedural due process. The Division had required him to provide the names of his revisors whose tasks included the raising of objections, the claiming votes for him, or the contesting of the votes in favor of his opponent. He has neither alleged being deprived of this opportunity, nor indicated any situation in which his revisors were denied access to the revision proceedings. He could not also insist that the COMELEC did not consider his legal and factual arguments; besides, he could still raise them in his memorandum should he chose to. During the revision stage, he should raise all objections, present his evidence and witnesses, and file his memorandum before the case would be submitted for resolution. Such manner of presenting his side would fully meet the demands of due process, for, as the Court has explained the nature of due process in Stayfast Philippines Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission: The essence of due process is simply the opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain one’s side or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. A formal or trial-type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential. The requirements are satisfied where the parties are afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy at hand. What is frowned upon is absolute lack of notice and hearing. xxx A review of the records proves that the parties, including Tolentino, were afforded ample opportunity to ventilate their respective claims, to raise their objections, to claim votes, and to contest the votes of their opponents through their duly designated revisors. H4: NO. Contrary to De Castro’s submission, the Division set the ground rule for the revision of the contested ballots by laying down the procedure for the simultaneous revision of the contested ballots for all the three election protests. Paragraph 5 of the January 6, 2009 order distinctly stated that "the revision of ballots in the above-entitled cases be conducted in such a way that when a ballot box is opened, its contents shall be revised in all three (3) cases before proceeding to the next ballot box considering that the same precincts are contested in all three (3) cases."That procedure was ideal under the obtaining circumstances, given that the same precincts were involved in all the three cases. Also, the procedure was the practical and most expeditious manner of recording the observations in the minutes of the proceedings, the segregation according to vote per candidate, and the validation and registration of all objections or contests on the votes and claims on the same. All objections and claims of each party’s revisors would later on be collated on a "per case" basis and submitted to the Chairperson of each Revision Committee to aid in the preparation of the revision report for the precincts or clusters of precincts assigned to such committee. We find no incompatibility between the order of January 6, 2009 and the order of June 2, 2009. The latter order provided that the "Revision Committees will conduct the revision of the forty-four (44) contested ballots now in the custody of the Senate
Electoral Tribunal, per case and not simultaneously. The normal procedure of revision shall be followed." The purpose of the latter order was to preserve the distinction of each position, that is, by keeping the data for each of the positions separate despite the process of data-gathering being done simultaneously for all three positions. In an election protest, the electoral tribunal has an imperative duty to promptly ascertain by all means within its command the candidates the electorate have chosen. It bears stressing that in the exercise of the plenitude of its powers to protect the integrity of the elections, the COMELEC should not and must not be straitjacketed by procedural rules in resolving election disputes.Thus, the Division’s adoption of measures that especially respond to or address unique situations, like these cases, was incidental to the COMELEC’s general authority to adopt all the means to effect its powers and exercise its jurisdiction. Such adoption is even warranted under Section 4 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure: Section 4. Means to Effect Jurisdiction. – All auxiliary writs, processes and other means necessary to carry into effect its powers or jurisdiction may be employed by the Commission; and if the procedure to be followed in the exercise of such power or jurisdiction is not specifically provided for by law or these rules, any suitable process or proceeding may be adopted. The nature of election protests cases often makes the COMELEC face varied situations calling for the exercise of its general authority to adopt means necessary to effect its powers and jurisdiction. The COMELEC, in its performance of its duties, must be given a considerable latitude in adopting means and methods that would insure the accomplishment of the great objective for which it was created – to promote free, orderly, and honest elections. The choice of the means by the COMELEC should not be interfered with, unless the means were clearly illegal or the choice constituted grave abuse of discretion.