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Katon v. Palanca, et al., G.R. No. 151149, 07 September 2004.

21 Jan

[PANGANIBAN, J.]

FACTS:

Petitioner Katon contends that the whole area known as Sombrero Island, located in Tagpait, Aborlan, Palawan, had been classified from forest land to agricultural land and certified available for disposition upon his request and at his instance. However, Palawan authorities then favorably endorsed the request of Respondent Palanca, together with some others, which resulted in the issuance of homestead patent in Palanca’s favor in 1977 among others. In 1999, filed a petition which seeks to nullify the homestead patents and original certificates of title issued in favor of the Palanca et al. as well as the reconveyance of the whole island in his favor. Palanca et al. filed their Answer and Motion to Dismiss. The trial court dismissed Katon’s Complaint as well as his subsequent motion for reconsideration.

Katon filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals (CA). The petition was dismissed motu proprio pursuant to the appellate court’s residual prerogative. The CA ruled that prescription had already barred the action for reconveyance. Katon questions this dismissal. He submits that the CA erroneously invoked its residual prerogatives under Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court when it motu proprio dismissed the Petition for lack of jurisdiction and prescription. According to him, residual prerogative refers to the power that the trial court, in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, may still validly exercise even after perfection of an appeal. It follows that such powers are not possessed by an appellate court.

ISSUE:

Was the Court of Appeals correct in applying residual prerogative in dismissing a case motu proprio based on prescription?

HELD: YES.

Petitioner has confused what the CA adverted to as its residual prerogatives under Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court with the residual jurisdiction of trial courts over cases appealed to the CA.

Under Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court, defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived, except when (1) lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, (2) litis pendentia, (3) res judicata and (4) prescription are evident from the pleadings or the evidence on record. In the four excepted instances, the court shall motu proprio dismiss the claim or action. xxx On the other hand, residual jurisdiction is embodied in Section 9 of Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, xxx The residual jurisdiction of trial courts is available at a stage in which the court is normally deemed to have lost jurisdiction over the case or the subject matter involved in the appeal. This stage is reached upon the perfection of the appeals by the parties or upon the approval of the records on appeal, but prior to the transmittal of the original records or the records on appeal. In either instance, the trial court still retains its so-called residual jurisdiction to issue protective orders, approve compromises, permit appeals of indigent litigants, order execution pending appeal, and allow the withdrawal of the appeal.

The CA’s motu proprio dismissal of petitioners Complaint could not have been based, therefore, on residual jurisdiction under Rule 41. Undeniably, such order of dismissal was not one for the protection and preservation of the rights of the parties, pending the disposition of the case on appeal. What the CA referred to as residual prerogatives were the general residual powers of the courts to dismiss an action motu proprio upon the grounds mentioned in Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court and under authority of Section 2 of Rule 1 of the same rules.

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