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Category Archives: Civil Procedure

Augusto and Archival v. Judge Risos and Omolon, G.R. No. 131794, 10 December 2003.

[CALLEJO, JR., J.]

 

FACTS: Cleofe Omolon filed a petition alleging that as lawful co-owner and possessor of Lot No. 4429, she had every right to have and hold the owner’s duplicate of the said OCT No. 3560. She prayed that after due proceedings, the respondents Ruben Augusto and Atty. Noel Archival be ordered to surrender the owner’s copy of the said title. In their Comment on the petition, Ruben Augusto and Atty. Noel Archival alleged, inter alia, that the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by the Augusto siblings, was falsified and fictitious, and, thus, null and void. In the interim, Cleofe had her adverse claim annotated at the dorsal portion of the title in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Lapu-Lapu City. The RTC issued an order directing Atty. Noel Archival to produce the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560 to allow the annotation of Cleofes interest, upon which the owners duplicate copy of the title may thereafter be returned. Petitioners filed a Notice of Appeal from the said order to the Court of Appeals. The RTC issued an order denying due course therefor, on its perception that the orders subject thereof were interlocutory; hence, not appealable.

ISSUE: Is the Order of the trial court requiring the petitioners to present/surrender the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560 a Final or Interlocutory Order

HELD: It is an Interlocutory Order.

Section 1, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court provides that an appeal may be taken only from a final order, and not from an interlocutory one. A final order is one which disposes of the whole subject matter or terminates a particular proceeding or action, leaving nothing to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined. An order or judgment is deemed final if it finally disposes of, adjudicates, or determines the rights, or some right or rights of the parties, either on the entire controversy or on some definite and separate branch thereof, and concludes them until it is reversed or set aside. Where no issue is left for future consideration, except the fact of compliance with the terms of the order, such order is final and appealable. In contrast, an order is interlocutory if it does not finally dispose of the case.

In this case, the order of the public respondent directing the petitioners to produce the owners copy of OCT No. 3560 in the Office of the Register of Deeds for the annotation of the private respondents interest over the property is merely interlocutory and not final; hence, not appealable by means of a writ of error. The public respondent had not fully disposed of the case as it had not yet ruled on whether to grant the private respondents prayer for the surrender of the owners copy of OCT No. 3560. As gleaned from the order of the respondent judge, he believed that he had no jurisdiction to delve into and resolve the issue of ownership over the property and was disposed to dismiss the petition. Before so doing, he believed it was necessary that the petitioners claim over the property be annotated at the dorsal portion of the title before the institution of an ordinary motion for the resolution of the conflicting claims of ownership over the property. In fine, the assailed order of the respondent judge partook of the nature of an ad cautelam order. This is not to say that the respondent court sitting as a cadastral court had no jurisdiction to delve into and resolve the issue of ownership over the property.

[NB: According to the ruling in Vda. De Arceo v. CA, et al., the limited jurisdiction-rule governing land registration courts is subject to recognized exceptions, to wit, (1) where the parties mutually agreed or have acquiesced in submitting controversial issues for determination; (2) where they have been given full opportunity to present their evidence; and (3) where the court has considered the evidence already of record and is convinced that the same is sufficient for rendering a decision upon such controversial issues; In Averia, Jr. v. Caguioa, with reference to Section 112 of the Land Registration Act (now Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529), the court is no longer fettered by its former limited jurisdiction which enabled it to grant relief only in cases where there was unanimity among the parties or none of them raised any adverse claim or serious objection. Under the amended law, the court is now authorized to hear and decide not only such non-controversial cases but even the contentious and substantial issues, such as the question at bar, which were beyond its competence before.]

 
 

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Heirs of Miranda v. Pablo Miranda G.R. No. 179638, 08 July 2013.

[DEL CASTILLO, J.]

FACTS:

Petitioners’ Complaint for Annulment of Titles and Specific Performance was decided by the RTC against their favor on August 30, 1999. Without any appeal, the Decision became final and executory. On December 11, 2001, the RTC issued a Writ of Execution but was not implemented. On July 8, 2005, respondent filed an Ex-parte Motion praying that the RTC issue a “Break-Open and Demolition Order” in order to compel the petitioners to vacate his property. But since more than five years have elapsed from the time the Writ of Execution should have been enforced, the RTC denied the Motion in its Order dated August 16, 2005. This prompted respondent to file with the RTC a Petition for Revival of Judgment, which was granted.

On July 13, 2006, petitioners filed a Notice of Appeal via LBC, which was opposed by respondent on the ground that the Decision dated August 30, 1999 has long become final and executory. Petitioners, in turn, moved for the transmittal of the original records of the case to the CA, insisting that respondent’s opposition is without merit. Finding the appeal barred by prescription, the RTC denied the Notice of Appeal in its Order dated October 10, 2006. Feeling aggrieved, petitioners filed a Petition for Mandamus with the CA praying that their Notice of Appeal be given due course, but was denied on June 14, 2007 for being filed out of time. Petitioners assert that an action to revive judgment is appealable, and that their appeal was perfected on time. They insist that the Notice of Appeal, which they filed on the 15th day via LBC, was seasonably filed since the law does not require a specific mode of service for filing a notice of appeal. Besides, even if their appeal was belatedly filed, it should still be given due course in the interest of justice, considering that their counsel had to brave the storm and the floods caused by typhoon “Florita” just to file their Notice of Appeal on time.

 

ISSUE:

Was the Notice of Appeal filed on the 15th day via private courier like LBC considered to be belatedly filed?

 

HELD: YES.

It is basic and elementary that a Notice of Appeal should be filed “within fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment or final order appealed from.Under Section 3, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court, pleadings may be filed in court either personally or by registered mail. In the first case, the date of filing is the date of receipt. In the second case, the date of mailing is the date of receipt. In this case, however, the counsel for petitioners filed the Notice of Appeal via a private courier, a mode of filing not provided in the Rules. Though not prohibited by the Rules, we cannot consider the filing of petitioners’ Notice of Appeal via LBC timely filed. It is established jurisprudence that “the date of delivery of pleadings to a private letter-forwarding agency is not to be considered as the date of filing thereof in court;” instead, “the date of actual receipt by the court x x x is deemed the date of filing of that pleading.” Records show that the Notice of Appeal was mailed on the 15th day and was received by the court on the 16th day or one day beyond the reglementary period. Thus, the CA correctly ruled that the Notice of Appeal was filed out of time.

Neither can petitioners use typhoon “Florita” as an excuse for the belated filing of the Notice of Appeal because work in government offices in Metro Manila was not suspended on July 13, 2006, the day petitioners’ Notice of Appeal was mailed via LBC. And even if we, in the interest of justice, give due course to the appeal despite its late filing, the result would still be the same. The appeal would still be denied for lack of merit. The Decision dated August 30, 1999 is already final and executory

 
 

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Palileo v. Planter’s Development Bank, G.R. No. 196650, 08 October 2014.

[DEL CASTILLO, J.] 

FACTS:

In an action for specific performance/sum of money with damages and prayer for the issuance of writs of preliminary attachment and preliminary injunction, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of plaintiff-petitioner Palileo dated July 15, 2006 and received by Palileo on July 17, 2006. Defendant-respondent PDB filed by private courier service – specifically LBC – an Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and for New Trial, arguing therein that the trial court’s Decision was based on speculation and inadmissible and selfserving pieces of evidence; that it was declared in default after its counsel failed to attend the pre-trial conference on account of the distance involved and difficulty in booking a flight to General Santos City. Petitioners’ copy of the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and for New Trial was likewise sent courier service through LBC, but in their address of record – Tupi, South Cotabato – there was no LBC service at the time. On August 2, 2006, PDB filed with the RTC another copy of the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and for New Trial via registered mail; another copy thereof was simultaneously sent to petitioners by registered mail as well. Meanwhile, petitioners moved for the execution of the Decision pending appeal. In a petition for certiorari, the CA affirms the trial court decision but reversed itself upon MR, relaxing the Rules in favor of PDB.

ISSUE:

Was the CA correct in relaxing the Rules notwithstanding that PBD’s late filing and improper service of its omnibus motion for reconsideration?

HELD: NO.

The proceedings in the instant case would have been greatly abbreviated if the court a quo and the CA did not overlook the fact that PDB’s Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and for New Trial was filed one day too late. The bank received a copy of the trial court’s June 15, 2006 Decision on July 17, 2006; thus, it had 15 days – or up to August 1, 2006 – within which to file a notice of appeal, motion for reconsideration, or a motion for new trial, pursuant to the Rules of Court. Yet, it filed the omnibus motion for reconsideration and new trial only on August 2, 2006.

Indeed, its filing or service of a copy thereof to petitioners by courier service cannot be trivialized. Service and filing of pleadings by courier service is a mode not provided in the Rules. This is not to mention that PDB sent a copy of its omnibus motion to an address or area which was not covered by LBC courier service at the time. Realizing its mistake, PDB re-filed and re-sent the omnibus motion by registered mail, which is the proper mode of service under the circumstances. By then, however, the 15-day period had expired.

 

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Procedure

 

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Chu v. Mach Asia Trading Corporation, G.R. 184333, 01 April 2013.

[PERALTA, J.]

FACTS:

Respondent Mach Asia Trading Corporation is a corporation engaged in importing dump trucks and heavy equipments. Petitioner Sixto N. Chu purchased on installment one (1) Hitachi Excavator, one (1) motorgrader and one (1) payloader. Petitioner made down payments with the balance payable in 12 monthly installments through Land Bank postdated checks. However, upon presentment of the checks for encashment, they were dishonored by the bank either by reason of “closed account,” “drawn against insufficient funds,” or “payment stopped.” Respondent filed a complaint before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City for sum of money, replevin, attorney’s fees and damages against the petitioner. The RTC issued an Order allowing the issuance of a writ of replevin on the subject heavy equipments. Sheriff Cortes proceeded at petitioner’s given address for the purpose of serving the summons, together with the complaint, writ of replevin and bond. However, the Sheriff failed to serve the summons personally upon the petitioner, since the latter was not there. The Sheriff then resorted to substituted service by having the summons and the complaint received by a certain Rolando Bonayon, a security guard of the petitioner. Petitioner failed to file any responsive pleading. Upon motion the RTC issued an Order declaring defendant in default and, thereafter, allowed respondent to present its evidence ex parte. The RTC rendered a decision against the petitioner. On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC Decision.

ISSUE:

Was the substituted service of summons to the security guard considered to be a valid as to acquire jurisdiction over the person of petitioner Chu?

 

HELD: NO.

As a rule, summons should be personally served on the defendant. It is only when summons cannot be served personally within a reasonable period of time that substituted service may be resorted to. Section 7, Rule 14 of the Rules of Court provides:

“SEC. 7. Substituted service. – If, for justifiable causes, the defendant cannot be served within a reasonable time as provided in the preceding section, service may be effected (a) by leaving copies of the summons at the defendant’s residence with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or (b) by leaving the copies at defendant’s office or regular place of business with some competent person in charge thereof.”

It is to be noted that in case of substituted service, there should be a report indicating that the person who received the summons in the defendant’s behalf was one with whom the defendant had a relation of confidence, ensuring that the latter would actually receive the summon. Clearly, it was not shown that the security guard who received the summons in behalf of the petitioner was authorized and possessed a relation of confidence that petitioner would definitely receive the summons. This is not the kind of service contemplated by law. Thus, service on the security guard could not be considered as substantial compliance with the requirements of substituted service. The service of summons is a vital and indispensable ingredient of due process. As a rule, if defendants have not been validly summoned, the court acquires no jurisdiction over their person, and a judgment rendered against them is null and void. Since the RTC never acquired jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner, the judgment rendered by the court could not be considered binding upon him for being null and void.

 

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Procedure

 

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E.B. Villarosa & Partner Co. Ltd. V. Judge Benito, G.R. 136426, 06 August 1999.

[GONZAGA-REYES, J.]

 

FACTS:

Petitioner E.B. Villarosa & Partner Co., Ltd. is a limited partnership with principal office address at Davao City and with branch offices in Parañaque, Metro Manila and Cagayan de Oro City. Private respondent, as plaintiff, filed a Complaint for Breach of Contract and Damages against petitioner, as defendant, before the Regional Trial Court of Makati allegedly for failure of the latter to comply with its contractual obligation in that, other than a few unfinished low cost houses, there were no substantial developments therein. Summons, together with the complaint, were served upon the defendant, through its Branch Manager, but the Sheriff’s Return of Service stated that the summons was duly served “upon defendant E.B. Villarosa & Partner Co., Ltd. thru its Branch Manager Engr. WENDELL SALBULBERO. Defendant filed a Special Appearance with Motion to Dismiss alleging that summons intended for defendant” was served upon Engr. Wendell Sabulbero, an employee of defendant at its branch office at Cagayan de Oro City. Defendant prayed for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground of improper service of summons and for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant. Defendant contends that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over its person since the summons was improperly served upon its employee in its branch office at Cagayan de Oro City who is not one of those persons named in Section 11, Rule 14 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure upon whom service of summons may be made. Defendant’s argument was not sustained.

ISSUE:

Did the trial court acquire jurisdiction over the person of petitioner upon service of summons on its Branch Manager?

HELD: NO.

 

[T]he service of summons upon the branch manager of petitioner at its branch office at Cagayan de Oro, instead of upon the general manager at its principal office at Davao City is improper. Consequently, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner.

The fact that defendant filed a belated motion to dismiss did not operate to confer jurisdiction upon its person. There is no question that the defendant’s voluntary appearance in the action is equivalent to service of summons. Before, the rule was that a party may challenge the jurisdiction of the court over his person by making a special appearance through a motion to dismiss and if in the same motion, the movant raised other grounds or invoked affirmative relief which necessarily involves the exercise of the jurisdiction of the court. This doctrine has been abandoned in the case of La Naval Drug Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, et al., which became the basis of the adoption of a new provision in the former Section 23, which is now Section 20 of Rule 14 of the 1997 Rules. Section 20 now provides that “the inclusion in a motion to dismiss of other grounds aside from lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant shall not be deemed a voluntary appearance.” The emplacement of this rule clearly underscores the purpose to enforce strict enforcement of the rules on summons. Accordingly, the filing of a motion to dismiss, whether or not belatedly filed by the defendant, his authorized agent or attorney, precisely objecting to the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the defendant can by no means be deemed a submission to the jurisdiction of the court. There being no proper service of summons, the trial court cannot take cognizance of a case for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant. Any proceeding undertaken by the trial court will consequently be null and void.

 

 
 

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Tiu, et al. v. Philippine Bank of Communications, G.R. No. 151932, 19 August 2009.

[PERALTA, J.]

FACTS:

In a collection suit filed by PBCOM against petitioners Tiu, et al., the former demanded from the latter the full payment of its secured loan obligation. PBCOM’s claim is supported by a Suretyship Agreement signed by all members of the Board of Directors of Asian Water Resources, Inc. (AWRI), including petitioners. This was controverted in petitioners’ Answer saying that the Surety Agreement was falsified to insert the wordings “IN THEIR OWN CAPACITY” without their consent, attaching a certified copy of the same document from the Records Management and Archives Office in Davao City. PBCOM then filed a Reply and Answer to Counterclaim with Motion for Leave of Court to Substitute Annex “A” of the Complaint, wherein it attached the duplicate original copy retrieved from the file of the notary public. PBCOM also admitted its mistake in making the insertion and explained that it was made without the knowledge and consent of the notary public. PBCOM maintained that the insertion was not a falsification, but was made only to speak the truth of the parties’ intentions. The trial court allowed the substitution of the altered document. Petitioners move for reconsideration but was denied. The case was elevated to the Court of Appeals in a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 but only to affirm in toto the trial court’s assailed order.

ISSUE:

Is the Court of Appeals correct in affirming the trial court’s order allowing the substitution of the “falsified” actionable document, notwithstanding it appears to have substantially altered the cause of action?

HELD: YES.

[W]ith respect to PBCOM’s right to amend its complaint, including the documents annexed thereto, after petitioners have filed their answer, Section 3, Rule 10 of the Rules of Court specifically allows amendment by leave of court.

This Court has emphasized the import of Section 3, Rule 10 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure in Valenzuela v. Court of Appeals, thus:

“Interestingly, Section 3, Rule 10 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure amended the former rule in such manner that the phrase “or that the cause of action or defense is substantially altered” was stricken-off and not retained in the new rules. The clear import of such amendment in Section 3, Rule 10 is that under the new rules, “the amendment may (now) substantially alter the cause of action or defense.” This should only be true, however, when despite a substantial change or alteration in the cause of action or defense, the amendments sought to be made shall serve the higher interests of substantial justice, and prevent delay and equally promote the laudable objective of the rules which is to secure a “just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding.”

The granting of leave to file amended pleading is a matter particularly addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court; and that discretion is broad, subject only to the limitations that the amendments should not substantially change the cause of action or alter the theory of the case, or that it was not made to delay the action. Nevertheless, as enunciated in Valenzuela, even if the amendment substantially alters the cause of action or defense, such amendment could still be allowed when it is sought to serve the higher interest of substantial justice; prevent delay; and secure a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of actions and proceedings.

 
 

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

[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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