Republic vs. Viaje_CivPro
Republic vs Raymundo Viaje; January 27, 2016...
Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Land Registration Authority vs. Raymundo Viaje, et al. January 27, 2016 G.R. No. 180993
Facts: The Office of the Solicitor General, on behalf of the Republic and as represented by the LRA, filed on July 10, 2000 a complaint for cancellation of title and reconveyance with the RTC of Trece Martires City, docketed as Civil Case No. TM-1001. The action mainly sought the nullity of the TCT individually issued in the name of the defendants for having been issued in violation of law and for having dubious origins. The title was allegedly derived from TCT No. T-39046 issued on Oct. 1, 1969 which was derived from OCT No. 114 issued on March 9, 1910. The Republic alleged that OCT No. 114 and the documents of TCT No. T-39046 do not exist in the records of the Register of Deeds of Cavite and Trece Martires. The OSG entered its appearance on Aug. 7, 2001 and deputized Atty. Artemio Legaspi and the members of the LRA legal staff to appear in Civil Case No. TM-1001. The OSG also requested that notice of hearings, orders, decisions and other processes be served on both the OSG and the deputized counsel. However, the notice of appearance stated that “only notices of orders, resolutions, and decisions served on him will bind the party represented.” Subsequently, Atty. Alexander Acosta of the LRA entered his appearance pursuant to the OSG Letter dated Aug. 7, 2001. On April 11, 2003, the RTC dismissed the complaint due to the non-appearance of the counsel for the Republic. The OSG filed a motion for reconsideration which was granted by the RTC. Pre-trial was again set and re-set, but on Jan. 23, 2004 the RTC finally dismissed the case with prejudice. The OSG forthwith filed a manifestation and motion, informing the RTC that Atty. Acosta was not given notice of the pre-trial schedule. The OSG also argued that its deputized counsel should have been notified of the settings made by the trial court as it is not merely a collaborating counsel who appears with an OSG lawyer during hearing, rather its deputized counsel appears in behalf of the OSG and should be separately notified. The RTC denied the OSG’s manifestation and motion, subsequently, on motion of the defendants, the RTC issued an order on Oct. 4, 2004 recalling its previous order that gave due course to the OSG’s appeal. The ground for the recall was the OSG’s failure to indicate in its notice of appeal the court to which the appeal was being directed. Thus the OSG filed a special civil action for certiorari with the CA and on Nov. 28, 2007, rendered a decision dismissing the OSG’s petition on the grounds that the petition was filed one day late and the RTC did not commit any grave abuse of discretion when it dismissed Civil Case No. TM-1001 and the OSG’s notice of appeal. It ruled that the OSG’s failure to indicate in its notice of appeal the court to which the appeal is being taken violated Sec. 5 of Rule 41 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
Issue: Whether or not the appellate court erred in not holding that respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the notice of appeal. Held: The Court cannot attribute error to the CA when it affirmed the RTC’s recall of its order granting the OSG’s notice of appeal. The RTC simply applied the clear provisions of Sec. 5, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, which mandated that a “notice of appeal shall specify the court to which the appeal is being taken.” Nevertheless, under the circumstances obtaining in this case, the Court resolves to relax the stringent application of the rules, both on the matter of service of notices to the OSG and its deputized counsel, and on the notice of appeal. The OSG’s omission should not work against the Republic. For one, the OSG availed of the proper remedy in seeking a review of the RTC’s order of dismissal by pursuing on ordinary appeal and filing a notice of appeal, albeit without stating where the appeal will be taken. For another, an ordinary appeal from a final decision of the RTC rendered in the exercise of its original jurisdiction can only be elevated to the CA under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court. Moreover, in Ulep vs. People of the Philippines, the OSG’s failure to designate where the appeal will be taken was a case of inadvertence and does not appear to be a dilatory tactic on its part. More importantly, the OSG’s omission should not redound to the Republic’s disadvantage for it is a well-settled principle that the Republic is never estopped by the mistakes or error committed by its officials or agents. The petition is granted, the decision dated Nov. 28, 2007 of the CA is reversed and set aside. Civil Case No. TM-1001 and all its records are remanded to the RTC of TRECE Martires City for further disposition on the merits.