Heirs of Bertulo v Melicor
Civ Pro case digest...
HEIRS OF BERTULDO HINOG: Bertuldo Hinog II, Bertuldo Hinog III, Bertuldo Hinog, Jr., Jocelyn Hinog, Bertoldo Hinog IV, Bertoldo Hinog V, Edgardo Hinog, Milagros H. Pabatao, Lilian H. King, Victoria H. Engracia, Terisita C. Hinog, Paz H. Besana, Roberto C. Hinog, Vicente C. Hinog, Roel C. Hinog, Marilyn C. Hinog, Bebot C. Hinog, lordes C. Hinog, Pablo Chiong, Arlene Lanasang (All respresented by Bertuldo Hinog III) ,petitioners, vs. HON. ACHILLES MELICOR, in his capacity as Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch 4, 7th Judicial Region, Tagbiliran City, Bohol, and CUSTODIO BALANE, RUFO BALANE, HONORIO BALANE, and TOMAS BALANE, respondents. J. Austria-Martinez April 12, 2005 G.R. No. 140954 Doctrine This Court's original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari is not exclusive. It is shared by this Court with Regional Trial Courts and with the Court of Appeals. This concurrence of jurisdiction is not, however, to be taken as according to parties seeking any of the writs an absolute, unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which application therefor will be directed. There is after all a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals, and also serves as a general determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the extraordinary writs. A becoming regard for that judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level (inferior) courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Courts original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. It is a policy necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon the Courts time and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of the Court’s docket. Summary Facts Private respondents Balane owned a 1,399 sq. Mt. Parcel of land in Bohol, a part of which was allowed to be occupied by Bertuldo Hinog, predecessor of petitioners. After the expiration of their 10-year agreement, the Balanes demanded the return of the occupied portion but Hinog refused, showing a Deed of Absolute Sale which he claimed was acquired with permission from the respondents. Respondents filed for Recovery of Ownership and Possession, Removal of Construction and Damages but during the pendency of trial, Hinog died. As a result, the counsel for Hinog withdrew his services and a new lawyer, Atty. Veronico Petalcorin entered his appearance as new counsel. Atty. Petalcorin filed a motion to expunge the respondents’ complaint and nullify all court proceedings because the respondents failed to specify the amount of damages claimed in their complaint so as to pay the correct docket fees. He based his argument on Manchester Dev. Co. vs. CA which stated that non-payment of the correct docket fee is jurisdictional. Respondents averred that the motion was filed more than 7 years after the institution of the case and that according to Rule 3, Section 16 of the ROC, the death of the original defendant requires a substitution of parties before a lawyer can have legal personality to represent a litigant. His motion to expunge did not mention any party whom he represented. Furthermore, any insufficiency in the docket fees will only constitute a lien on the judgment. The TC ruled that a specified amount should be stated in order for the court to acquire jurisdiction and thus ordered the complaint to be expunged from the records. It noted that there was no formal substitution of petitioners as mandated by the ROC to which Atty. Petalcorin complied. The respondents then paid the deficiency and filed a motion to reinstate the case which the TC granted. In response, the petitioners filed a supplemental pleading, attaching the alleged Deed of Sale which was denied since the DoS was never mention in their original answer prepared by the original lawyer. The petitioners filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition directly before the Supreme Court alleging grave abuse of discretion in allowing the case to be reinstated since the complaint failed to state the specific amount of damages resulting in insufficient payment of docket fees. The trial court had already expunged the complaint and that the respondents did not oppose this ruling. Ratio/Issues W/N the petitioners are allowed to directly file the petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Supreme Court (NO)
The concurrence of jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction does not give petitioner unrestricted freedom of choice of correct forum. (DOCTRINE) Rationale: (a) it would be an imposition upon the precious time of the Court; (b) it would cause an inevitable and resultant delay in the adjudication of cases. The SC will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts and only under exceptional and compelling circumstances. In this case, no special and important reason or exceptional and compelling circumstance has been adduced by the petitioners to justify their direct appeal to the SC. The present petition should have been filed in the Court of Appeals in strict observance of the doctrine on the hierarchy of courts. Besides, the writ of certiorari and prohibition does not avail since they never sought reconsideration of the TC’s order to expunge and only opposed the reinstatement of the case averring lack of jurisdiction after their supplemental pleading was denied.
W/N the non-payment of docket fees divested the TC of jurisdiction over the case (NO) Also:
The petitioners are already in estoppel because they cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court by submitting the supplemental pleading and then subsequently assail it claiming insufficient payment of docket fees. The order of the TC reinstating the case was merely interlocutory and not subject to a reglementary period. The remedy of certiorari against an interlocutory order can only be availed of when it is issued with grave abuse of discretion and patently erroneous that an ordinary appeal would not be enough. The Manchester rule was modified by Sun Insurance Office Ltd. v. Asuncion which stated that the court may allow the payment of fees within a reasonable when the filing of a pleading is not accompanied by payment and will not result in the automatic dismissal of the case. When a judgment awards a claim not specified in the pleading, the additional fees to be paid will constitute a lien on the judgment. Thus the reinstatement of the case was proper since the cause of action, being a real action prescribes in 30 years. The respondents were in good faith since they only relied on the Clerk of Court’s assessment of the docket fees and did not intend to defraud the court.
No formal substitution of parties was effected as required by Rule 3, Section 16 of the ROC. The rationale of this rule is to ensure that the deceased would continue to be properly represented by a duly appointed legal representative and in order for the trial court to gain jurisdiction over their persons and future claims. Before Atty. Petalcorin complied, he had no standing to file his pleadings to expunge. Held Petitioners utterly failed to show that the trial court gravely abused its discretion in issuing the assailed resolutions. WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit. Prepared by: Tippy Oracion [Civ Pro | Cruz]