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RULE 30-38 CASE DIGESTS

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XX. TRIAL, TRIAL BY COMMISSIONERS, HEARINGS AND
CONSOLIDATION OF CASES (RULES 30 TO 32)
1. Lourdez de Castro v. Crispino de Castro, G.R. No. 172198, June 16, 2009
QUICKIE FACTS:
Crispino and Lourdes De Castro are spouses. The RTC granted Crispino’s Petition
for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage base don psychological incapacity for failure of
Lourdes to file an Answer. The latter filed a Motion for Leave to FIle an Omnibus
Motion Seeking a New Trial or Reconsideration on the ground that she was misled
and prevented from participating in the annulment case because Crispino promised
support for their children. RTC granted said motion.
On July 17, 2002, the RTC had to reset the hearing because there was no return of the
notice sent. Thereafter, the hearings were reset 12 more times. On Aug 20, 2003, the
RTC denied Lourdes’ request to cancel the hearing due to unavailability of witnesses.
RTC deemed to have waived her right to present evidence due to her failure to
present evidence that day.
On Dec 12, 20003, RTC denied Lourdes’ request to Reconsider the denial claiming
that her absence was justifiable with no intent to delay the proceedings. Lourdes filed
a Petition fo Certiorari which the CA denied. Hence, this petition. She now questions
Judge Umali’s act of ruling that her right to present evidence was waived when she
failed to appear at the August 20 hearing.
DOCTRINE:
We take note of the fact that all motions for postponement by Lourdes were
made on the scheduled hearing dates themselves. On the August 20, 2003
hearing, despite previous warning that no further postponement would be
allowed, she still failed to appear. We agree with the CA when it pointed out that
she obviously knew in advance that she could not make it to the August 20,
2003 hearing. As of the last scheduled hearing of July 25, 2003, she was still out of
the country. The least that petitioner could have done was to instruct her
counsel to make a timely representation with the RTC by filing an early motionmanifestation for the resetting of the hearing.
Between July 25, 2003 and August 20, 2003 she had sufficient time to file one.
Obviously, the warning by the court of the consequence of another non-appearance
in the hearing fell on deaf ears. After having been granted numerous motions for
postponement, she cannot now claim that she was denied due process.
In Ortigas, Jr. v. Lufthansa German Airlines, we ruled that:
Where a party seeks postponement of the hearing of this case for reasons caused
by his own inofficiousness, lack of resourcefulness and diligence if not total
indifference to his own interests or to the interests of those he represents,
thereby resulting in his failure to present his own evidence, the court would not
extend to him its mantle of protection. If it was he who created the situation
that brought about the resulting adverse consequences, he cannot plead for his
day in court nor claim that he was so denied of it.
Further in Hap Hong Hardware Co. v. Philippine Company, we sustained the trial court’s
denial of a motion for postponement on the ground that the defendant’s witnesses,
officers of the company, could not come because it was the beginning of the milling
season in the municipality of San Jose, Mindoro Occidental and their presence in the
Central was necessary. We held that the reason adduced was “not unavoidable and
one that could not have been foreseen.”
In the case at bar, Lourdes’ excuse — that she was still in the U.S. taking care of
her newborn grandchild, while her witness, Dr. Maria Cynthia Ramos-Leynes,
who conducted a psychiatric evaluation on her, was likewise out of the country,
attending a convention — was unjustified. These reasons were “not unavoidable
and one that could not have been foreseen.” The date of the trial was set one
month prior, and as of July 25, 2003, Lourdes was in the U.S. Certainly, Loures
would know in advance if she could make it to the August 20, 2003 hearing.
Likewise, attending a convention is a scheduled event, also something known in
advance.
It is the basic duty of a litigant to move for postponement BEFORE THE DAY
OF THE HEARing, so that the court could order its resetting and timely
inform the adverse party of the new date. This was not the case at bar for the
subject motion was presented only on the day of the trial without any
justification. We thus hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying
the motion for postponement.
2. Zulueta v. Asia Brewery, G.R. No. 138137, March 8, 2001
QUICKIE FACTS:
Asia Brewery and Zulueta entered into a Dealership Agreement where Asia Brewery
would manufacture and distribute beer for Zulueta to sell in the outlet he operates.
Thereafter, alleging violation of said Dealership Agreement, Zulueta filed a Complaint
for Breach of Contrat, Specific Performance, and Damages against Asia Brewery in
the RTC of Iloilo. While said case was pending, Asia Brewery likewise filed a
Complaint for Collection of Sum of Money in the RTC of Makati against Zulueta
for the latter’s unpaid beer products bought.
Zulueta moved to dismiss the Complaint in Maati on the ground of splitting causes of
action and violation against the principle of multiplicity of suits but was denied. Later
on Zulueta moved that the cases be consolidated. This was granted. On appeal, CA
reversed the ruling anstated that there is no common issue of law or fact between the
two cases since the Iloilo case was about the alleged violation of the Dealership
Agreement while the Makati case was about Zulueta’s debt for unpaid beer products.
Hence, this petition.
DOCTRINE:
True, Zulueta’s obligation to pay for the beer products delivered by Asia Brewery can
exist regardless of an alleged breach in the Dealership Agreement. Undeniably,
however, this obligation and the relationship between Asia Brewery and
Zulueta, as supplier and distributor respectively, arose from the Dealership
Agreement which is now the subject of inquiry in the Iloilo case. In fact,
Zulueta herself claims that her obligation to pay was negated by Asia
Brewery’s contractual breach. In other words, the nonpayment — the res of the
Makati case — is an incident of the Iloilo case.
Inasmuch as the binding force of the Dealership Agreement was put in question, it
would be more, practical and convenient to submit to the Iloilo court all the
incidents and their consequences. The issues in both civil cases pertain to the
respective obligations of the same parties under the Dealership Agreement.
Thus, every transaction as well as liability arising from it must be resolved in the
judicial forum where it is put in issue. The consolidation of the two cases then
becomes imperative to a complete, comprehensive and consistent
determination of all these related issues.
Two cases involving the same parties and affecting closely related subject
matters must be ordered consolidated and jointly tried in court, where the earlier
case was filed. The consolidation of cases is proper when they involve the
resolution of common questions of law or facts.
Indeed, upon the consolidation of the cases, the interests of both parties in the two
civil cases will best be served and the issues involved therein expeditiously
settled. After all, there is no question on the propriety of the venue in the Iloilo case.
3. Roque Yu v. Magno, G.R. No. 138701, October 17, 2006
QUICKIE FACTS:
Sps Roque and Asuncion Yu, as controlling stockholders of Leyte Lumber, entered
into a verbal agreement with Engr. Magno where Leyte Lumber would supply Magno
with building materials he may need his construction business. Magno then
established BG Magno Construction and Development Enterprises. Thereafter,
Roque and Magno entered into a joint venture called the Great Pacific Construction
Company. This continued until Magno died.
A year after Magno’s death, Sps Yu and Leyte Lumber filed separate Complaints for
Sum of Money with Damages and Preliminary Attachment against BG Magno and the
estate. In the case instituted by Leyte Lumber, it wanted to collect on the principal
amount of 1.2M for construction materials. In the case instituted by Sps. Yu, they
wanted to collect on loans and advances amounting to 3.5M.
Both cases were raffled to separate RTC branches which rendered decisions in favor
of BG Magno. Howeever, the 2 decisions were penned by Judge Francisco. The
parties did not file an MR nor called the attention of Judge Francisco on the absence
of an Order for Consolidation. Instead, they directly filed appeals before the CA.
In the CA, the 2 cases were consolidated. CA modified in the case instituted by Leyte
Lumber but reserved the one instituted by Sps. Yu. Sps. Yu filed an MR but was
denied. Hence, this petition.
DOCTRINE:
On the question of the propriety of Judge Francisco of Branch 6 formulating the
decision in Civil Case No. 5822 which was pending and tried in Branch 8, we declare
that there was nothing irregular in the procedure taken. The records show that
there appears to have been a previous agreement to either transfer or consolidate
the two cases for decision by the presiding judge of Branch 6.
Indeed, when the Magno filed a Motion to Lift, Dissolve and Quash the Writs of
Attachment with Branch 6 on January 20, 1993, the caption thereof indicated the
docket numbers of both cases. Likewise, on October 29, 1993, when the Sps. Yu’s
new counsel entered his Formal Appearance, in the caption thereof was also
written the docket numbers of both cases. Sps. Yu’s previous counsel of
longstanding (whose representation dates back to the filing of the two complaints in
1979) filed his Motion to Withdraw as Counsel on October 30, 1993, and the
caption thereof similarly indicated the docket numbers of both cases. Subsequent
orders of the court which emanated from Branch 6 also bear, in the caption thereof,
the titles and docket numbers of both cases.
In other words, as early as 6 months prior to the promulgation of Judge
Francisco’s decisions in the 2 cases, there appears to have been a transfer or
consolidation of said cases in Branch 6 and the parties knew of it, albeit the
actual date when the two cases were consolidated or transferred does not appear on
record. Nonetheless, the fact remains that no opposition or objection in any
manner was registered by either of the parties to the same, thereby evincing their
consent thereto. It is, therefore, already too late in the day for the Sps. Yu to
question the competence of Judge Francisco to render the separate decisions
in the two cases.
The two cases were filed just a few months apart; they involve simple cases of
collection of sums of money between identical parties and no other; Magno’s
claim, in both cases, essentially the same defense, which is overpayment; they cover
the same period of transacting continuous business that spans 4 years; they
relate to simple issues of fact that are intimately related to each other; they
entailed presentation of practically identical evidence and witnesses; in fact, a
broad part of the evidence and testimonies in one case was totally adopted or
reproduced in the other by either or both parties. And the trial court, being multisala courts, its Branches 6 and 8 possessed jurisdiction to try either or both
cases on their own.
A court may order several actions pending before it to be tried together where they
arise from the same act, event or transaction, involve the same or like issues,
and depend largely or substantially on the same evidence, provided that the
court has jurisdiction over the case to be consolidated and that a joint trial will
not give one party an undue advantage or prejudice the substantial rights of
any of the parties.
The obvious purpose of the above rule is to avoid multiplicity of suits, to guard
against oppression and abuse, to prevent delays, to clear congested dockets, to
simplify the work of the trial court; in short the attainment of justice with the least
expense and vexation to the parties litigants.
Consolidation of cases, when proper, results in the simplification of proceedings,
which saves time, the resources of the parties and the courts, and a possible major
abbreviation of trial. It is a desirable end to be achieved, within the context of the
present state of affairs where court dockets are full and individual and state finances
are limited. It contributes to the swift dispensation of justice, and is in accord
with the aim of affording the parties a just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of
their cases before the courts. Another compelling argument that weighs heavily in
favor of consolidation is the avoidance of the possibility of conflicting decisions
being rendered by the courts in two or more cases which would otherwise
require a single judgment.
4. Mega Land v. C-E Construction, Inc., G.R. No. 165211, July 31, 2007
QUICKIE FACTS:
Mega Land and CE Construction had an arbitration case before the Construction
Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC). CIAC rendered a decisión ordering Mega
Land to pay CE 1.6M. After Megal Land received the decisión on June 20, 2002,
pursuant to Rule 43, it had 15 days (July 5) to appeal to the CA.
On July 4, Fajardo Law Offices filed a Motion for Extension of Time to file a
Petition for Review and sought an extensión
untilJuly20onthegroundthatthelegalissuesarecomplexandtherecordsarevoluminous.
Thiscasewasraffledtothe16th Division. However, on July 5, Mega Land’s President
and GM (Sy) also filed a Motion for Extension which was assigned a different
docket number. This was raffled to the 5th división (now 3rd Division) The reason
for the second Motion was because it was no longer availing of the services of Fajardo
Law Offices. No move was undertaken to withdraw or disavow the Motion earlier
filed by Fajardo Law Offices. These 2 Motions for Extensions were granted and thus
prolonging the period to July 20.
Meanwhile, Mega Land secured the services of Atty. Flores. As such, he filed a 2nd
Motion for Extension of Time with Formal Entry of Appearance on July 15. Flores
sought a new 15 day period to appeal or on Aug 4. In his Motion, the caption was that
of the 2nd case. This was granted thus further prolonging the period to appeal from
July 20 to August 4.
On August 1, Flores filed a Petition for Review on behalf of Mega Land but the
caption thereof was that of the first case.
As a result, the 16th Division handling the first case dismissed the Petition for Review
for having been filed out of time because the time extensión was only until July 20. As
for the 3rd Division handling the 2nd case, the appeal was dismissed on the ground
that Mega Land did not file a Petition for Review within the period granted or on
August 4.
Mega Land filed an MR to the 1st case but was denied. Hence, this petition.
Essentially, Mega Land contends that the 2nd Motion for Extension of Time should
have bound the 16th Division which would thereby make its period Aug 4 than
merely July 20.
DOCTRINE:
The fact that the petition for review intended for filing in the second case bore instead
the docket number of the first case indicates that Mega Land and its new counsel,
Atty. Flores, knew of the first case earlier initiated by Fajardo Law Offices. In
short, at the time the petition was filed with the CA, Mega Land had known that
there were two similar cases involving the same parties and causes of action.
There were a variety of options Mega Land could have resorted to in order to rectify
the anomaly. Upon learning that there were actually two different cases pending
before the Court of Appeals, it could have moved to withdraw either any of the
motions for extension of time, so that there would be only one case pending with the
appellate court.
Had Mega Land done this at the onset, even if later the filed petition itself stated
the wrong docket number, the Court of Appeals could have easily recorded the
pleading under the case that remained in existence since it would anyway be
incapable of filing the same under the records of a case that had already been
withdrawn.
NO MANDATORY CONSOLIDATION IN THE CA
We have duly considered that perhaps this entire untidiness could have been avoided
had the Court of Appeals at the outset consolidated the two cases. Yet such
consideration is ultimately of no moment to Mega Land. For one, under the 2002
Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals (RIRCA), there is no mandatory
obligation to consolidate related cases. The language utilized in Rule 3, Section 3
of the RIRCA, which authorizes consolidation of cases, is merely directory in
character, providing as it does: “[w]hen related cases are assigned to different
Justices, they may be consolidated and assigned to one Justice.”
More importantly perhaps, the consolidation of cases was never intended to cure
the defect of forum shopping. If one litigant has filed multiple suits involving
the same parties for the same cause of action, the consolidation of these suits is
not the correct palliative. These suits should instead be dismissed on the ground of
forum shopping.
5. Neri v. Sandiganbayan, 703 SCRA 350 (2013)
QUICKIE FACTS:
The Ombudsman filed in the Sandiganbayan 2 criminal Informations in connection
with the ZTE Project. First, it filed an Information against Abalos (Abalos case) for
violation of RA 3019. This was raffled off to the Fourth Division. Subsequently, an
Information was filed against Romulo Neri (Neri case) also for violation of RA 3019.
This was raffled off to the Fifth Division.
During Pretrial of the Abalos case, Neri took the stand against Abalos. Thereafter, the
Special Prosecutor in the Neri case moved that the Neri case be consolidated with the
Abalos case to promote a more expeditious and less expensive resolution of the
controversy of cases involving the same business transaction. Neri opposed the
consolidation claiming that it would be oppressive and would violate his rights as an
accused.
Nonetheless, the Fifth Division granted consolidation subject to the conformity of
the Fourth Division. Neri’s MR was denied. Hence, this petition.
DOCTRINE:
ISSUE IS MOOT ON ACCOUNT OF SUPERVENING EVENTS IN THE
SANDIGANBAYAN
As may be recalled, the assailed resolution of the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division
ordering the consolidation of the Neri case with the Abalos case pending with the
Fourth Division, was subject to the “conformity of the said (4th) Division.”
On October 19, 2012, the Fourth Division, on the premise that consolidation is
addressed to the sound discretion of both the transferring and receiving courts, but
more importantly the latter as the same transferred case would be an added workload,
issued a Resolution refusing to accept the Neri case, thus:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the Fourth Division
RESPECTFULLY DECLINES to accept SB-10-CRM-0099 (Neri case) for
consolidation with SB-10-CRM-00998 (Abalos case) pending before it.
It declined the consolidation on the ground that it already Heard Neri testify against
Abalos. As such, the Fourth Division had already formed their respective opinions on
the matter of Neri’s credibility.
IMPROPRIETY OF THE CONSOLIDATION OF CASES
CONSOLIDATION is a procedural device granted to the court as an aid in
deciding how cases in its docket are to be tried so that the business of the
court may be dispatched expeditiously while providing justice to the parties.
Toward this end, consolidation and a single trial of several cases in the court’s docket
or consolidation of issues within those cases are permitted by the rules.
The term “consolidation” is used in THREE (3) DIFFERENT SENSES OR
CONCEPTS, thus:
.
(1) Where all except one of several actions are stayed until
one is tried, in which case the judgment [in one] trial is conclusive as to the
others. This is not actually consolidation but is referred to as such. (QUASI
CONSOLIDATION)
.
(2) Whereseveralactionsarecombinedintoone,losetheirseparateident
ity,andbecomeasingleactioninwhich
a single judgment is rendered. This is illustrated by a situation where several
actions are pending between the same
parties stating claims which might have been set out originally in one
complaint. (ACTUAL CONSOLIDATION)
.
(3) Where several actions are ordered to be tried together but
each retains its separate character and requires the entry of a separate
judgment. This type of consolidation does not merge the suits into a single
action, or cause the
parties to one action to be parties to the other. (CONSOLIDATION FOR
TRIAL)
To be sure, consolidation, as taken in the above senses, is allowed, as Rule 31 of the
Rules of Court is entitled “Consolidation
or Severance.” And Sec. 1 of Rule 31 provides:
Section 1. Consolidation. — When actions involving a common question of law or fact
are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the
matters in issue in the actions; it may order all actions consolidated; and it may make
such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or
delay.
The counterpart, but narrowed, rule for CRIMINAL CASES is found in Sec. 22,
Rule 119 of the Rules of Court stating: Sec. 22. Consolidation of trials of related offenses. —
Charges for offenses founded on the same facts or forming
part of a series of offenses of similar character may be tried jointly at the discretion
of the court. as complemented by Rule XII, Sec. 2 of the SANDIGANBAYAN
REVISED INTERNAL RULES which states:
Section 2. Consolidation of Cases. — Cases arising from the same incident or series of
incidents, or involving common questions of fact and law, may be consolidated
in the Division to which the case bearing the lowest docket number is raffled.
Whether as a procedural tool to aid the court in dispatching its official business in
criminal or civil cases, the rule allowing consolidation — in whatsoever sense it is
taken, be it as a merger of several causes of actions/cases, in the sense of actual
consolidation, or merely joint trial — is designed, among other reasons, to avoid
multiplicity of suits, guard against oppression and abuse, attain justice with
the least expense and vexation to the litigants.
While the assailed resolution is silent as to the resultant effect/s of the consolidation it
approved, there is nothing in the records to show that what the prosecution vied
for and what the Fifth Division approved went beyond consolidation for trial or
joint trial.
Not to be overlooked is the fact that the prosecution anchored its motion for
consolidation partly on the aforequoted Sec. 22 of Rule 119 which indubitably
speaks of a joint trial. Given the above perspective, Neri should now disabuse
himself of the unfounded notion that what the Fifth Division intended was a
fusion into one criminal Proceedings of the Abalos and Neri cases, where one is
unidentifiable from the other, or worse, where he will be tried as coaccused in the
Abalos case.
Jurisprudence has laid down the REQUISITES FOR CONSOLIDATION OF
TRIAL. As held in Caños v. Peralta, joint trial is permissible “where the [actions]
arise from the same act, event or transaction, involve the same or like issues, and
depend largely or substantially on the same evidence, provided that the court has
jurisdiction over the cases to be consolidated and that a joint trial will not give one
party an undue advantage or prejudice the substantial rights of any of the parties.”
Criminal prosecutions primarily revolve around proving beyond reasonable
doubt the existence of the elements of the crime charged. As such, they mainly
involve questions of fact. There is a question of fact when the doubt or difference
arises from the truth or the falsity of the allegations of facts. Put a bit differently, it
exists when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or falsehood of facts or
when the inquiry invites calibration of the whole gamut of evidence considering
mainly the credibility of the witnesses, the existence and relevancy of specific
surrounding circumstances as well as their relation to each other and to the whole,
and the probability of the situation.
Since conviction or acquittal in a criminal case hinges heavily on proof that the
overt acts constituting, or the elements, of the crime were indeed committed or
are present, allegations in the information are crucial to the success or failure of
a criminal prosecution.
As can be gleaned from the charges in the Informations, the inculpatory acts
complained of, the particulars and specifications for each of the cases are
dissimilar, even though they were allegedly done in connection with the negotiations
for and the implementation of the NBN Project. Due to this variance, the
prosecution witnesses listed in the pre-trial order in the Neri case are also
different from the list of the people’s witnesses lined up to testify in the Abalos
case, albeit some names appear in both the pre-trial orders.
A consolidation of the Neri case to that of Abalos would expose Neri to testimonies
which have no relation whatsoever in the case against him and the lengthening
of the legal dispute thereby delaying the resolution of his case.
Consolidation here would force petitioner to await the conclusion of testimonies
against Abalos, however irrelevant or immaterial as to him (Neri) before the case
against the latter may be resolved –– a needless, hence, oppressive delay in the
resolution of the criminal case against him.
XXI. DEMURRER TO EVIDENCE (RULE 33)
1. Radiowealth v. Del Rosario, G.R. No. 138739, July 6, 2000
QUICKIE FACTS:
Sps. Vicente and Del Rosario jointly and severally executed in favor of Radiowealth
Finance Company a PN for P138K on installments with an acceleration clause. When
the Sps Vicente defaulted, demands for payment were sent but went unheeded. Thus,
Radiowealth filed a Complaint for Collection of a Sum of Money before the RTC of
Manila.
During the trial, Radiowealt’s Collection and Credit Officer (Famatico) presented in
evidence in check payments, demand letters, etc. However, he admitted that he had
no personal knowledge of the transaction or the exectuion of any documentary
evidence which had been merely endorsed to him. As a result, RTC ordered the
termination of the presentation of evidence.
Thereafter, Sps. Vicente filed a Demurrer to Evidence for alleged lack of cause of
action. RTC granted it on the ground that the evidence presented by Radiowealth was
merely based on hearsay. On appeal, however, CA reversed and stated that its
genuiness and due execution were deeed admitted thereby establishing the Vicente’s
indebtedness. As such, CA remanded it for further proceedings.
DOCTRINE:
The old Rule 35 of the Rules of Court was reworded under Rule 33 of the 1997 Rules,
but the consequence on appeal of a demurrer to evidence was not changed. As
amended, the pertinent provision of Rule 33 reads as follows:
SECTION 1. Demurrer to evidence. — After the plaintiff has completed the presentation
of his evidence, the defendant may move for dismissal on the ground that upon the
facts and the law the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. If his motion is denied, he
shall have the right to present evidence. If the motion is granted but on appeal the
order of dismissal is reversed he shall be deemed to have waived the right to
present evidence.
Explaining the consequence of a demurrer to evidence, the Court in Villanueva Transit
v. Javellana pronounced:
The rationale behind the rule and doctrine is simple and logical. The defendant is
permitted, without waiving his right to offer evidence in the event that his motion is
not granted, to move for a dismissal that upon the facts as thus established and
the applicable law, the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. If the trial court
denies the dismissal motion, i.e., finds that plaintiff’s evidence is sufficient for an
award of judgment in the absence of contrary evidence, the case still remains
before the trial court which should then proceed to hear and receive the
defendant’s evidence so that all the facts and evidence of the contending
parties may be properly placed before it for adjudication as well as before the
appellate courts, in case of appeal. Nothing is lost. The doctrine is but in line with
the established procedural precepts in the conduct of trials that the trial court liberally
receive all proffered evidence at the trial to enable it to render its decision with all
possibly relevant proofs in the record, thus assuring that the appellate courts upon
appeal have all the material before them necessary to make a correct judgment, and
avoiding the need of remanding the case for retrial or reception of improperly
excluded evidence, with the possibility thereafter of still another appeal, with all the
concomitant delays. The rule, however, imposes the condition by the same token that if his
demurrer is granted by the trial court, and the order of dismissal is reversed on
appeal, the movant losses his right to present evidence in his behalf and he
shall have been deemed to have elected to stand on the insufficiency of
plaintiff’s case and evidence. In such event, the appellate court which reverses the
order of dismissal shall proceed to render judgment on the merits on the basis
of plaintiff’s evidence.
In other words, defendants who present a demurrer to the plaintiff’s evidence retain
the right to present their own evidence, if the trial court disagrees with them; if the trial
court agrees with them, but on appeal, the appellate court disagrees with both
of them and reverses the dismissal order, the defendants lose the right to
present their own evidence. The appellate court shall, in addition, resolve the case
and render judgment on the merits, inasmuch as a demurrer aims to discourage
prolonged litigations.
In the case at bar, the RTC, acting on Sps. Vicente’s demurrer to evidence,
dismissed the Complaint on the ground that the plaintiff had adduced mere
hearsay evidence. However, on appeal, the CA reversed the trial court because the
genuineness and the due execution of the disputed pieces of evidence had in fact been
admitted by defendants.
Applying Rule 33, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Court, the CA should have
rendered judgment on the basis of the evidence submitted by Radiowealth.
While the CA correctly ruled that “the documentary evidence submitted by
Radiowealth should have been allowed and appreciated,” and that “it presented quite
a number of documentary exhibits enumerated in the appealed order,” we agree with
Radiowealth that the CA had sufficient evidence on record to decide the
collection suit. A remand is not only frowned upon by the Rules, it is also
logically unnecessary on the basis of the facts on record.
2. People v. Cachola, G.R. No. 148712, January 21, 2004
QUICKIE FACTS:
Cachola et al were charged with murder in the RTC of La Union. During trial 12-year
old Jessie Barnachea, his older brother Robert, and their neighbors were presented as
witnesses for the prosecution.
Jessie testified that armed men entered their house and shot and stabbed to death his
uncle, mother, brother, and cousin. Meanwhile, Robert testified that while he was in
his uncle’s house next door, he saw armed men running towards their house. After
several shots, they saw them running away and noticed a stainless jeep with “fruits and
vegetables dealer” marked on it parked in front of their house. Some neighbors at a
nearby store likewise saw the same jeep with an “El Shaddai” marked in front and
“fruits and vegetables dealer” marked on the side.
After reporting this to the pólice, they intercepted said jeep carrying the 8 accused at a
checkpoint in the highway. During a pólice lineup, Jessie identified Cachola et al as
assailants.
After the Prosecution rested its case, the Defense orally asked for leave of court to file
a Demurrer to Evidence. However, RTC denied this outright and set the Schedule for
presentation of evidence for the defense. Instead of presenting evidence, the Defense
filed another Demuruer without leave of court.
Thereafter, RTC no longer allowed the presentation of he defense and convicted
Cachola and Amay as principals, and the 6 others as accomplices. Hence, this
automatic review. It is contended that the RTC wrongly disallowed the Defense’s
presentation of evidence.
DOCTRINE:
As to whether the trial court erred in not allowing the Cachola to present evidence
after filing their demurrer to evidence without leave of court, then Section 15, Rules
119 of the Rules of Court is clear on the matter, thus:
SEC. 15. Demurrer to evidence. — After the prosecution has rested its case, the court
may dismiss the case on the ground of insufficiency of evidence: (1) on its own
initiative after giving the prosecution an opportunity to be heard; or (2) on motion of
the accused filed with prior leave of court.
If the court denies the motion for dismissal, the accused may adduce evidence in his
defense. When the accused files such motion to dismiss without express leave
of court, he waives the right to present evidence and submits the case for
judgment on the basis of the evidence for the prosecution.
The filing by Cachola of a demurrer to evidence in the absence of prior leave of
court was a clear waiver of their right to present their own evidence. To sustain
their claim that they had been denied due process because the evidence they belatedly
sought to offer would have exculpated them would be to allow them to “wager on the
outcome of judicial proceedings by espousing inconsistent viewpoints whenever
dictated by convenience.”
Furthermore, it cannot be said that the waiver was not clear. The trial court
postponed the hearings on the motion for demurrer, even after leave of court had
been denied, and then granted extensions to Amay until he finally adopted the
position of his co-appellants. At no time other than in this automatic review was there
any attempt that is contrary to the waiver of the presentation of evidence.
XXII.JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AND SUMMARY JUDGMENT
(RULE 34 AND 35)
1. Wood Technology v. Equitable Banking, G.R. 153867, February 17, 2005
QUICKIE FACTS:
Equitable filed a Complaint for Sum of Money against WTC, Cordova, and Young. It
was alleged that WTC obtained a loan from Equitable in the amount of $75K as
evidenced by a PN which was signed also by Cordova and Young as representatives
of the WTC. Likewise, Cordova and Young executed a Surety Agreement binding
themselves as WTC’s sureties for the loan.
In their Answer, WTC admitted that they obtained a loan and that Cordova and
Young bound themselves as sureties. However, they claimed that the loan had not yet
matured as the maturity date was purposely left blank subject to the agreement by the
parties at a later date. Thus, since no maturity date had been fixed, the Complaint was
filed prematurely and that it failed to state a cause of action.
Equitable moved for Judgment on the Pleadings. RTC rendered judgment in favor of
Equitable. CA affirmed and stated the PN’s genuiness and due execution were
deemed admitted and that there was no need to present eveidence to prove the
maturity date of the PN since it was payable on demand. MR denied. Hence, this
petition.
DOCTRINE:
The Rules of Court seeks to shorten the procedure in order to allow the speedy
disposition of a case. Specifically, we have rules on demurrer to evidence, judgment
on the pleadings, and summary judgments. In all these instances, a full blown
trial is dispensed with and judgment is rendered on the basis of the pleadings,
supporting affidavits, depositions and admissions of the parties.
In this case, at issue is the propriety and validity of a judgment on the pleadings. A
JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS is proper when an answer fails to tender
an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse party’s
pleading.
We note now that (1) the RTC knew that the Answer asserted special and
affirmative defenses; (2) the Court of Appeals recognized that certain issues
were raised, but they were not genuine issues of fact; (3) WTC insisted that they
raised genuine issues; and (4) Equitable argued that WTC’s defenses did not
tender genuine issues.
JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS V. SUMMARY JUDGMENT
However, whether or not the issues raised by the Answer are genuine is not the
crux of inquiry in a motion for judgment on the pleadings. It is so only in a
motion for summary judgment. In a case for JUDGMENT ON THE
PLEADINGS, the Answer is such that no issue is raised at all. The essential
question in such a case is whether there are issues generated by the pleadings.
This is the distinction between a proper case of summary judgment, compared to a
proper case for judgment on the pleadings. We have explained this vital distinction in
Narra Integrated Corporation v. Court of Appeals, thus,
The existence or appearance of ostensible issues in the pleadings, on the one hand,
and their sham or fictitious character, on the other, are what distinguish a proper case
for summary judgment from one for a judgment on the pleadings. In a proper case for
JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS, there is no ostensible issue at all because
of the failure of the defending party’s answer to raise an issue. On the other hand,
in the case of a SUMMARY JUDGMENT, issues apparently exist — i.e. facts are
asserted in the complaint regarding which there is as yet no admission, disavowal or
qualification; or specific denials or affirmative defenses are in truth set out in the answer — but
the issues thus arising from the pleadings are sham, fictitious or not genuine,
as shown by affidavits, depositions, or admissions.
Indeed, WTC’s Answer apparently tendered issues. While it admitted that WTC
obtained the loan, that Cordova and Young signed the promissory note and that they
bound themselves as sureties for the loan, it also alleged special and affirmative
defenses that the obligation had not matured and that the promissory note and surety
agreement were contracts of adhesion.
Applying the requisites of a judgment on the pleadings vis-à-vis a summary judgment,
the judgment rendered by the RTC was not a judgment on the pleadings, but a
summary judgment. Although the Answer apparently raised issues, both the
RTC and the CA after considering the parties’ pleadings, petitioners’ admissions and
the documents attached to the Complaint, found that the issues are not factual
ones requiring trial, nor were they genuine issues.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT is a procedure aimed at weeding out sham claims or
defenses at an early stage of the litigation. The proper inquiry in this regard would be
whether the affirmative defenses offered by petitioners constitute genuine
issues of fact requiring a full-blown trial. In a summary judgment, the crucial
question is: are the issues raised by petitioners not genuine so as to justify a summary
judgment?
A “GENUINE ISSUE” means an issue of fact which calls for the presentation
of evidence, as distinguished from an issue which is fictitious or contrived, an issue
that does not constitute a genuine issue for trial.
We note that this is a case for a sum of money, and WTC have admitted that they
obtained the loan. They also admitted the due execution of the loan documents
and their receipt of the final demand letter made by Equitable. These documents
were all attached to the Complaint. WTC merely claimed that the obligation has
not matured. Notably, based on the promissory note, the RTC and the CA found
this defense not a factual issue for trial, the loan being payable on demand.
We agree with both the RTC and CA that this matter proffered as a defense could be
resolved judiciously by plain resort to the stipulations in the promissory note which
was already before the trial court. A full-blown trial to determine the date of
maturity of the loan is not necessary. Also, the act of leaving blank the maturity
date of the loan did not necessarily mean that the parties agreed to fix it later. If this
was the intention of the parties, they should have so indicated in the promissory note.
2. Bascug v. Aranday, A.M.-RTJ 00-1591, April 11, 2002
QUICKIE FACTS:
In the case of Ditching v Odisco Farms System Cooperative, Bascug, President of Odisco,
filed an Administrative Complaint charging Judge Aranday with grave misconduct
when he directed a judgment on the pleadings. Bascug claims that Judge declared that
the parties agreed to the rendition of a judgment on the pleadings even if Odisco had
never agreed to it. In fact, Odisco never submitted any memorándum for judgment
on the pleadings required by the Judge in an Order.
In his defense, Judge claimed that the parties manifested that they had no objection to
the submission of the case for judgment on the pleadings.
DOCTRINE:
Section 1, Rule 34, of the Rules on Civil Procedure provides —
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.
In his order, dated 20 December 1994, Judge required the parties to submit their
respective memoranda for a judgment on the pleadings. Bascug was the
President of the corporation who maintained that the corporation never agreed to
have the case submitted for judgment on the pleadings. As so aptly put by the
Court of Appeals in its decision of 14 August 1998 —
It is believed that under the circumstances of the case, judgment on the pleadings
was not called for and prevented a fair and full resolution of controversy. The
trial court stated that both parties agreed to have judgment on the pleadings, the
minutes of the session held on December 20, 1994 merely stated that ‘both parties
will submit their respective memoranda for judgment on the pleadings’. Only
the plaintiffs submitted Memorandum praying for judgment on the pleadings; the
defendants did not submit their memorandum for judgment on the pleadings.
In fact, in their Motion for Reconsideration of the Judgment on the pleadings, the
defendants pointed out that the parties presented ‘widely opposing contentions’ in
their respective pre-trial brief, and the court cannot rely on ‘conjectures’ on the ‘wild’
monetary claims of plaintiffs. In view of the objections expressed by the defendants
to the issues raised, there was no clear agreement to submit the case to a judgment or
the pleadings, much less an implied admission of each other’s factual allegations,
which the defendants-appellants correctly describe as ‘widely opposing,’ that would
support a submission by the parties to a judgment on the pleadings.
3. Eland Phil. V. Garcia, G.R. No. 173289, February 17, 2010
QUICKIE FACTS:
Garcia et al filed a Complaint for Queting of Title with Writ of Preliminary Injunction
in the RTC against Eland Phils. Inc. They claimed that they are owners of a parcel of
land by occupation and possession. They further claim that they were not aware of
any person who had a legal or equitable interest or claim on the same lot until they
were requesting that the lot be declared for tax purposes. They found out that the lot
was subject to a Land Registration Proceeding which had already been decided.
RTC declared Eland in default and allowed Garcia to present evidence ex parte. Eland
filed an MR which was granted. Then, the RTC admitted Eland’s Answer Ad Coutelam.
Thereaafter, Pretrial Conference was set and the parties submitted their respective
Pretrial briefs. Eland tried to suspend the proceedings by filing a Petition for
Certiorari which was however denied. Hence, the RTC ruled that the reception of
evidence presented by Garcia remained as part of the records subject to Eland’ s right
to cross-examine. Eventually, Garia filed a Motion for Summary Judgment to which
Eland filed its Opposition. RTC granted Summary Judgment. Hence, this petition.
Eland questions the propriety of the Summary Judgment rendered in this case of
Quieting of Title.
DOCTRINE:
Rule 35 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
SEC. 1. Summary judgment for claimant.—A party seeking to recover upon a claim,
counterclaim, or cross-claim or to obtain a declaratory relief may, at any time after
the pleading in answer thereto has been served, move with supporting affidavits
for a summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part thereof.
SEC. 3. Motion and proceedings thereon.—The motion shall be served at least ten (10)
days before the time specified for the hearing. The adverse party prior to the day
of hearing may serve opposing affidavits. After the hearing, the judgment sought shall
be rendered forthwith if the pleading, depositions, and admissions on file together
with the affidavits, show that, except as to the amount of damages, there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law.
NO VIOLATION OF THE 10-DAY NOTICE RULE
Eland contended that the 10-day notice rule was violated, because the copy of the
motion for summary judgment was served only on August 20, 1999 or on the same
day it was set for hearing.
The above specific contention, however, is misguided. The CA was correct in its
observation that there was substantial compliance with due process. The CA
ruled, as the records show, that the 10-day notice rule was substantially complied
with because when Garcia et al filed the motion for summary judgment on
August 9, 1999, they furnished Eland with a copy thereof on the same day as
shown in the registry receipt and that the motion was set for hearing on August 20,
1999, or 10 days from the date of the filing thereof.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT APPLIES TO QUETING OF TITLE; EXCEPTIONS
This Court has already ruled that any action can be the subject of a summary
judgment with the sole exception of actions for annulment of marriage or
declaration of its nullity or for legal separation.
IMPROPRIETY OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT; EXISTENCE OF GENUINE
ISSUES
A summary judgment is permitted only if there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and a moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A
summary judgment is proper if, while the pleadings on their face appear to raise
issues, the affidavits, depositions, and admissions presented by the moving party
show that such issues are not genuine.
It must be remembered that the non-existence of a genuine issue is the
determining factor in granting a motion for summary judgment, and the
movant has the burden of proving such nonexistence. The RTC found no
genuine issue as to any material fact that would necessitate conducting a full-blown
trial. However, a careful study of the case shows otherwise.
In their motion for summary judgment, the Garcia failed to clearly demonstrate
the absence of any genuine issue of fact. They merely reiterated their averments
in the complaint for quieting of title and opposed some issues raised by the
Eland in its Answer Ad Cautelam.
Clearly, the facts pleaded by Garcia in their motion for summary judgment have
been duly disputed and contested by Eland, raising genuine issues that must
be resolved only after a full-blown trial. When the facts as pleaded by the
parties are disputed or contested, proceedings for summary judgment cannot
take the place of trial.
In the present case, Eland was able to point out the genuine issues. A “genuine
issue” is an issue of fact that requires the presentation of evidence as distinguished
from a sham, fictitious, contrived or false claim.
By granting the summary judgment, the RTC has in effect annulled its former
ruling based on a claim of possession and ownership of the same land for more
than 30 years without the benefit of a full-blown trial. The fact that Garcia et al
seek to nullify the original certificate of title issued to Eland on the claim that the
former were in possession of the same land for a number of years, is already a clear
indicium that a genuine issue of a material fact exists.
4. Smart Communications v. Aldecoa, supra
DOCTRINE:
At the outset, the RTC erred in granting Smart’s Motion for Summary Judgment and
ordering the dismissal of Aldecoa’s Complaint in Civil Case. Summary judgments are
governed by Rule 35 of the Rules of Court.
In Rivera v. Solidbank Corporation, the Court discussed extensively when a summary
judgment is proper:
For a summary judgment to be proper, the movant must establish two requisites: (a)
there must be no genuine issue as to any material fact, except for the amount of
damages; and (b) the party presenting the motion for summary judgment must
be entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
Where, on the basis of the pleadings of a moving party, including documents
appended thereto, no genuine issue as to a material fact exists, the burden to
produce a genuine issue shifts to the opposing party. If the opposing party fails,
the moving party is entitled to a summary judgment. A GENUINE ISSUE is an
issue of fact which requires the presentation of evidence as distinguished from an
issue which is a sham, fictitious, contrived or a false claim.
On the other hand, where the facts pleaded by the parties are disputed or
contested, proceedings for a summary judgment cannot take the place of a
trial. The evidence on record must be viewed in light most favorable to the party
opposing the motion who must be given the benefit of all favorable inferences as can
reasonably be drawn from the evidence. Courts must be critical of the papers
presented by the moving party and not of the papers/documents in opposition
thereto.
Judging by the aforequoted standards, summary judgment cannot be rendered in
this case as there are clearly factual issues disputed or contested by the parties.
XXIII.JUDGMENT (RULE 36)
1. Consing v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 143584, March 10, 2004
QUICKIE FACTS:
As sugar-farm owners, Sps Consing purchased various grades of fertilizer from Sugar
Producer’s Cooperative Marketing Association (SPCMA), an association assisting
planters to procure fertilizer and other farm needs. The debt was evidenced by a PN.
When SPCMA presented the PN to PNB in which Sps. Consing had a Fertilizer
Credit Line, the latter refused to honor the note.
Thus, SPCMA filed a Complaint for Collection of Sum of Money against the Sps
Consing with the RTC of Negros. RTC, through Judge Querubin, ruled in favor of
SPCMA. In its 2-page judgment, it merely narrated the facts showing the indebtedness
of the Sps. Consing and immediately went to the dispostive part holding the Sps liable
to SPCMA in the amount of P1.2M. On appeal, CA affirmed. Sps Consing’s MR
denied. Hence this petition.
Sps. Consing allege that their the RTC decisión failed to state the legal basis of its
ruling which is in violation of the express mandate of the Constitution.
DOCTRINE:
While Judge Querubin mentioned his factual findings, the legal basis of his ruling is
not set out in the decision. Judge Querubin failed to meet faithfully the requirement
demanded by the Constitution from the courts in rendering their decisions.
Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution declares that:
Sec. 14. No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein
clearly and distinctly
the facts and the law on which it is based.
No petition for review or motion for reconsideration of a decision of the court shall
be refused due course or
denied without stating the legal basis therefor.
The court must inform the parties to a case of the legal basis for the court’s
decision so that if a party appeals, it can point out to the appellate court the
points of law to which it disagrees. Every judge should know the constitutional
mandate and the rationale behind it. Judge Querubin should have known the exacting
standard imposed on courts by Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution and
should not have sacrificed the constitutional standard for brevity’s sake.
The failure of the RTC decision to measure up to the standard set by the Constitution
is too gross to ignore as it is in stark contrast to the CA’s decision. The CA’s
decision, while also brief, being only three pages long, laid down the factual and
legal reasons why Antonio and Soledad are the ones liable to SPCMA, and not
PNB. The Court of Appeals’ discussion of the merits of this case enabled the
parties to pinpoint the proper issues that we now review.
2. Heirs of Valdez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 163208, August 13, 2008
QUICKIE FACTS:
In an action for Quieting of Title and Declaration of Nullity of TCTs entittled Manila
Construction Development v. Sps. Dela Rosa et al, the RTC granted the Heirs of Valdez &
Sps Malvar an Injunction Order and a Writ of Preliminar Mandatory Injunction to
place them in possession of a parcel of land in dispute. Thus, the Sheriff implemented
the order and writ in the property in possession by Lopez Resources. In doing so,
they tore down the fence enclosing the said property.
Aggrieved, Lopez Resources questioned the RTC decisión in the CA which was
assigned to the Ninth Division. Here, the CA issued 2 conflicting resolutions. One
resolution dismissed the petition without prejudice for violation of the provision
against fórum shopping. Subsequently, another resolution was issued which
required the Heirs of Valdez & Sps. Malvar to file their comments to the
Petition while requiring Lope Resources to rectify the deficiency in its fórumshopping certification.
Confusion arose when some parties were not able to get both resolutions. As a result,
86 days after the issuance of the conficliting resolutions, the CA again issued another
resolution clarifying that the first resolution was merely a clerical error.
Pursuant to this, Lopez Resources made the necessary corrections in its petition and
refiled the case. Thereafter, the Heirs of Valdez and Sps Malvar moved to dismiss the
re-filed Petition on the ground that CA has no jurisdiction because the prior
resolution had already become final and executory. However, the CA went to proceed
with the case. Hence, this petition.
DOCTRINE:
The fact that the Ninth Division of the CA committed a monumental error cannot be
erased. But the error was not in the court’s intent on what to do with the forum
shopping violation it found. In both resolutions, what is clear is that the court
intended to allow a rectification of the deficiency in Lopez Resources’ nonforum shopping certification in view perhaps of what it perceived to be the merits
that the face of the petition showed.
We have no doubt that it was within the CA’s power and prerogative to issue what
either resolution decreed without committing an abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction.
To look at the matter from another perspective, the issuance of two conflicting
resolutions — one for dismissal, the other for the continuation of the case, with one
cancelling out the other — can only mean that no definite, specific determination
was made by the court; at least, there was uncertainty on what the court really
intended to do. Under this situation, we find it fallacious to conclude that one
resolution lapsed to finality while the other did not. In legal effect, there was
effectively no definite resolution that could have lapsed to finality because of
the mistake the court committed. This status continued until a clarification was
made by the issuing court.
Even granting that the first Resolution became final and executory, the rule on
immutability of judgment does not apply in cases where what is to be modified
or altered involves:
(1) thecorrectionofclericalerrors;
(2) theso-callednuncprotuncentrieswhichcausenoprejudicetoanyparty;
(3) void judgments [such as a dismissal without prejudice that was not intended to
be issued] and those where
circumstances transpire after the finality that render the execution or enforcement, as
in this case, of the judgment unjust or inequitable.
To be sure, the rule does not apply in cases where a supervening event — such
as the mistake undisputably committed by the court (i.e., the unintended release of
one of the resolutions, thus resulting in the conflict and confusion) — took place.
3. Intramuros Tennis v. Philippine Tourism Authority, G.R. No. 135630,
September 26, 2000
QUICKIE FACTS:
PTA owns Victoria Tennis Courts located in Intramuros. Pursuant to a MOA, PTA
transferred the management, operation, administration, and development of Victoria
to the Philippine Tennis Association (PhilTA) for 10 years. Intramuros Tennis Club is
affiliated with PhilTA and its members are tennis players who frequently use the
facilities of Victoria.
During the pendency of the MOA, PTA alleged that PhilTA violated its terms and
conditions and thus demanded the surrender of its possession of Victoria. It likewise
asked PhilTA to vacate the premises.
As such, Intramuros filed a case for Preliminary Injucntion, Damages, and TRO in
the RTC of Manila against PTA alleging that PTA’s demand to vacate was tantamount
to a unilateral pre-termination of the MOA. RTC granted the TRO and the Writ of
Preliminary Injunction.
Thereafter, PTA filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the cause of action
bécame moot and academic in light of the expiration of the MOA. As a result, MOA
dismissed the case and lifted the Writ of Preliminary Injunction. It also declared that
PTA is entitled to the possession of Victoria. Aggrieved, Intramuros appealed.
Before the resolution of the appeal, PTA filed a Motion for Execution Pending
Appeal. CA granted said Motion. MR denied. Hence, this petition. Intramuros
contends that the CA gravely abused its discretion in ordering execution pending
appeal.
DOCTRINE:
Based on the Sec 2 Rule 39 (Discretionary Execution), the CA may order execution
pending appeal subject to the following conditions: (1) there must be a judgment or
final order; (2) the trial court must have lost jurisdiction over the case; (3) there must
be “good reasons” to allow execution; and (4) such good reasons must be stated in a
special order after due hearing.
Undoubtedly, the RTC order which granted PTA’s Motion to Dismiss and lifted the
Writ of Preliminary Injunction is a “final order” within the contemplation of
Section 2, Rule 39 of the Revised Rules of Court. Intramuros maintains that the said
RTC order could not be the proper subject of execution because it was still appealed
to the CA, but this merely confuses the concept of a “final” judgment or order
from one which has “become final” (or to use the more established term, “final
and executory”) — a distinction that is definite and settled.
A “FINAL” JUDGMENT OR ORDER is one that finally disposes of a case,
leaving nothing more for the court to do in respect thereto — such as an
adjudication on the merits which, on the basis of the evidence presented at the trial,
declares categorically what the rights and obligations of the parties are and which
party is in the right, or a judgment or order that dismisses an action on the ground of
res judicata or prescription, for instance.
It is to be distinguished from an order that is “interlocutory,” or one that does
not finally dispose of the case, such as an order denying a motion to dismiss under
Rule 16 of the Rules of Court, or granting a motion for extension of time to file a
pleading. As such, only final judgments or orders (as opposed to interlocutory
orders) are appealable.
Now, a “FINAL” JUDGMENT OR ORDER in the sense just described
becomes “final and executory” upon expiration of the period to appeal
therefrom where no appeal has been duly perfected or, an appeal therefrom
having been taken, the judgment of the appellate court in turn becomes final. It is
called a “final and executory” judgment because execution at such point issues
as a matter of right.
By its provisional nature, the remedy of execution pending appeal requires only a
“final” judgment or order (as distinguished from an “interlocutory” order) and not
a “final and executory” judgment or order. In the instant case, the RTC order
dated August 5, 1997 which granted PTA’s motion to dismiss, lifted the writ of
preliminary injunction and held that PTA entitled to possess the Victoria Tennis
Courts is a final order within the contemplation of Section 2, Rule 39 of the
Revised Rules of Court, inasmuch as it makes an adjudication on the merits of the
case and dismisses Intramuros’ action. Intramuros, in fact, impliedly recognized
the finality of this RTC order when they filed an ordinary appeal (and not a petition
for certiorari) therefrom with the CA.
4. Polymer Rubber Corporation v. Salamuding, 702 SCRA 153 (2013)
QUICKIE FACTS:
Salamuding et al were employees of Polymer Rubber Corporation of which Ang was
the highest ranking director. They were dismissed by Polymer for committing certain
irregularities. Thus, in 1990, they filed a Complaint for Illegal Dismissal and
Nonpayment of Monetary Benefits. LA and NLRC ruled in favor of Salamuding et al.
An Entry of Judgment was made and an Alias Writ of Execution issued based on the
NLRC ruling. On certiorari, the SC affirmed.
Soon after the SC decisión in 1993, Polymer ceased operations. On motion, another
Alias Writ of Execution was issued but was returned unsatisfied.
In 2004, Polymer’s office was gutted by a fire. As such, LA issued its 5th Alias Writ of
Execution and commanded the sherrif to collect an amount of P2.9M. In the
implementation of the Writ, Ang’s shares of stock at USA Resources Corporation
were levied. As such, Polymer moved to quash the 5th Alias Writ of Execution
alleging that Ang cannot be made solidarily liable with Polymer considering that it was
only the latter whom the LA, NLRC and SC adjudged to be liable previously.
LA quashed the Writ and ruled that Ang can no longer be held liable because the
decisión had become final and executory and would thus vary the tenor of the
judgment. NLRC affirmed. MR denied. On certiorari, CA reversed and held Ang
liable after it pierced Polymer’s corporate veil. Hence, this petition.
DOCTRINE:
The CA imputed bad faith on the part of Polymer and Ang when Polymer ceased its
operations the day after the promulgation of the SC resolution in 1993 which was
allegedly meant to evade liability. The CA found it necessary to pierce the corporate
fiction and pointed at Ang as the responsible person to pay for Salamuding’s money
claims. Except for this assertion, there is nothing in the records that show that
Ang was responsible for the acts complained of. At any rate, we find that it will
require a great stretch of imagination to conclude that a corporation would cease its
operations if only to evade the payment of the adjudged monetary awards in favor of
three (3) of its employees.
The dispositive portion of the LA Decision dated November 21, 1990 which
Salamuding attempts to enforce does not mention that Ang is jointly and severally
liable with Polymer. Ang is merely one of the incorporators of Polymer and to
single him out and require him to personally answer for the liabilities of Polymer is
without basis. In the absence of a finding that he acted with malice or bad faith,
it was error for the CA to hold him responsible.
To hold Ang personally liable at this stage is quite unfair. The judgment of the
LA, as affirmed by the NLRC and later by the SC had already long become final
and executory. It has been held that a final and executory judgment can no longer
be altered. The judgment may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the
modification is meant to correct what is perceived to be an erroneous
conclusion of fact or law, and regardless of whether the modification is
attempted to be made by the court rendering it or by the highest Court of the
land. “Since the alias writ of execution did not conform, is different from and thus
went beyond or varied the tenor of the judgment which gave it life, it is a nullity.
5. Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Fortune Tobacco Corporation, 705
SCRA 430 (2013)
QUICKIE FACTS:
FTC manufactures and produces cigarettes. Originally, its cigerette brands were
subject to ad valorem tax. However, with the passage of RA 8240 in 1997, a specific
tax system was adopted which imposed excise taxes on cigarette brands. Pursuant to
RRs issued to impement the law, FTC paid excise taxes on all cigarettes
manufactured. Thereafter, FTC sought administrative redress for refund for 3
different periods (2000, 2001, 2002) before the CIR.
Since the claims were not acted upon, FTC filed 3 Petitions for Review in the CTA
with claims for refund of the overpaid excise taxes. As such, the CTA ordered CIR to
refund FTC for 3 different periods. MR denied. As a result, CIR went to the CA on
Petition for Review assailing the ruling in the consolidated cases involving the
claims from 2000 and 2001. Subsequently, CIR filed another Petition for Review for
the case involving the period 2002.
CA denied the CIR’s Petitions for Review. MRs were likewise denied. In the SC, it
ruled against the CIR in July 21 2008. In its fallo, it only said that, “The Decision of
the CA in CA-GR SP No. 80675 (which consolidated only the claims for 2000
and 2001) are affirmed.”
In 2009, upon FTC’s motion, CTA issued a Writ of Execution and ordered CIR to
refund FTC the amounts stated in the 2008 SC decisión which attained finality by
virtue of an Entry of Judgment in Nov 2008. In said Entry of Judgment, however,
only the claims in years 2000 and 2001 were mentioned. Thus, FTC filed a Motion
for the Issuance of an Additional Writ of Execution covering the judgment in the
claims for year 2002. However, this Motion was denied. MR was likewise denied.
CTA en banc also denied.
Hence, FTC comes now via Petition for Review.
DOCTRINE:
After a scrutiny of the body of the aforesaid July 21, 2008 Decision, the Court finds
it necessary to render a judgment nunc pro tunc and address an error in the
fallo of said decision. The office of a JUDGMENT NUNC PRO TUNC is to
record some act of the court done at a former time which was not then carried
into the record, and the power of a court to make such entries is restricted to
placing upon the record evidence of judicial action which has actually been
taken.
The object of a judgment nunc pro tunc is not the rendering of a new judgment
and the ascertainment and determination of new rights, but is one placing in
proper form on the record, that has been previously rendered, to make it speak
the truth, so as to make it show what the judicial action really was, not to correct
judicial errors, such as to render a judgment which the court ought to have
rendered, in place of the one it did erroneously render, not to supply non-action
by the court, however erroneous the judgment may have been. The Court would thus
have the record reflect the deliberations and discussions had on the issue. In this
particular case it is a correction of a clerical, not a judicial error. The body of the
decision in question is clear proof that the fallo must be corrected, to properly
convey the ruling of this Court.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The dispositive portion of the Court’s
July 21, 2008 Decision in G.R. Nos. 167274-75 is corrected to reflect the inclusion of
CA-G.R. SP No. 83165 therein. As amended, the fallo of the aforesaid decision
shall read:
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in
the consolidated cases of CA-G.R. SP No. 80675 and 83165 (2002 claim) dated 28
September 2004, and its Resolution, dated 1 March 2005, are AFFIRMED. No
pronouncement as to costs.
XXIV. MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND NEW TRIAL (RULE
37)
1. Fernandez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 131094, May 16, 2005
QUICKIE FACTS:
Olivarez filed a Complaint for Unlawful Detainer against Fernandez in the MTC.
MTC dismissed the Complaint for lack of sufficient cause of action. On appeal, RTC
reversed the MTC and ordered Fernandez to pay rent in a decisión dated May 2, 1994.
Fernandez received a copy thereof on June 28, 1994. On July 12 1994 (14 days after),
Fernandez filed an MR. On Nov 29, 1994, Fernandez received the denial of his MR.
Thus, on Dec 1, 1994, he filed a Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for
Review in the CA.
Meanwhile, upon discovering new evidence of receipts proving his rental payments,
Fernandez filed a Motion for New Trial in the RTC on Dec 9, 1994. On Dec 12,
1994, CA granted his Motion for Extension. However, on Dec 29, 1994, Ferndandez
filed a Motion to Withdraw his Petition for Review.
On Feb 6, 1995, RTC denied the Motion for New Trial and stated that by filing a
Motion to Extend in the CA which was eventually granted, CA already had
jurisdiction over the the case and not the RTC.
Thereafter, upon motion of Olivares, RTC issued a Writ of Execution. This prompted
Fernandez to File a Petition for Certiorari in the CA. However, CA dismissed the
Petition. MR denied. Hence this petition.
Fernandez questions whether or not his mere filing of a Motion for Extension (which
was later withdrawn) automatically divested the RTC of its jurisdiction over the case
as to take cognizance of a Motion for New Trial.
DOCTRINE:
It may seem at once apparent that the CA had in fact acquired jurisdiction over his
person. It has been repeatedly held that an appearance in whatever form, without
expressly objecting to the jurisdiction of the court over the person, is a submission to
the jurisdiction of the court over the person. He may appear by presenting a motion,
for example, and unless by such appearance he specifically objects to the jurisdiction
of the court, he thereby gives his assent to the jurisdiction of the court over his
person.
As we are dealing here with the jurisdiction of an appellate court, additional rules
are required for jurisdiction to attach therein, to wit:
(1)
thepetitionermusthaveinvokedthejurisdictionoftheCourtofAppealswithinthetimefo
rdoingso; (2)
hemusthavefiledhispetitionforreviewlikewisewithinthetimefordoingso;
(3) hemusthavepaidthenecessarydocketfees;and
(4) theotherpartiesmusthaveperfectedtheirappealsinduetime.
The Rule requires that in an appeal by way of Petition For Review, the appeal is
deemed perfected as to the petitioner upon the timely filing of the petition and
the payment of docket and other lawful fees. In the discussion of the Committee
on the revision of the Rules of Court, it was emphasized that to perfect the appeal,
the party has to file the petition for review and to pay the docket fees within the
prescribed period. The law and its intent are clear and unequivocal that the
petition is perfected upon its filing and the payment of the docket fees.
Thus, it may be argued, and rightly so, that the CA has not yet acquired jurisdiction
over the case because Fernandez merely filed a motion for extension of time to
file petition but not the petition itself. Withal, sans the petition, it cannot be said
that the CA has acquired jurisdiction over the case as to say that the trial court is
without authority to act on a motion for new trial. It is axiomatic that if a statute is
clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied
without attempted interpretation.
On this point we fully agree in the position taken by Fernandez that when he filed
the motion for extension of time to file petition for review, jurisdiction of the
Court of Appeals had not yet attached, such that his failure to file the petition itself
would normally have the effect of rendering the decision of the lower court final and
executory.
COMPUTATION OF PERIOD TO FILE A MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL
Rule 37, Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Court providing for the period to file a
motion for new trial in relation to Rule 41, Section 3 is in point.
Section 1. Grounds of and period for filing motion for new trial or reconsideration. — Within
the period for taking an appeal, the aggrieved party may move the trial court to set
aside the judgment or final order and grant a new trial for one or more of the
following causes materially affecting the substantial rights of said party.
Sec. 3. Period of ordinary appeal. — The appeal shall be taken within fifteen (15) days
from notice of the judgment or final order appealed from. Where a record on
appeal is required, the appellant shall file a notice of appeal and a record on appeal
within thirty (30) days from notice of the judgment or final order. The period of
appeal shall be interrupted by a timely motion for new trial or reconsideration. No
motion for extension of time to file a motion for new trial or reconsideration shall be
allowed.
It is without question that Fernandez received a copy of the RTC Decision on 28 June
1994. Fourteen (14) days after the receipt of the decision or specifically on 12 July
1994, he filed a motion for reconsideration. This motion was denied by the RTC and
the Order of denial was received by Fernandez on 29 November 1994. Applying Rule
37, Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Court, he had only one (1) day left to file a
motion for new trial since a motion for new trial should be filed within the
period to appeal, that is, within fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment. The
motion for new trial suspends the running of the period to appeal but does not
extend the time within which an appeal must be perfected. Hence if denied, a
movant, like Fernandez in this case has only the balance of the reglementary
period within which to appeal.
Applying the foregoing, Fernandez’s motion for new trial was filed out of time.
The fifteen (15)-day period for filing a motion for new trial cannot be extended.
IN SUM, considering that a motion for new trial must be filed during the period for
filing an appeal and that such period cannot be extended, Fernandez, by filing his
motion for new trial beyond the period to appeal, had unwittingly sealed his
fate and stripped himself of any further relief.
2. Republic v. Peralta, G.R. No. 150327, June 18, 2003, supra
QUICKIE FACTS:
Peralta et al are the heirs of one Benedicto Alonday. The latter was granted a
Homestead Patent by the DENR over a lot in Davao. Title was thereafter issued in
his name. In 1969, Bureau of Forest Development sought permission to use a portion
of said property. Instead, BFD constructed a building on it. Benedicto’s lawyer
demanded for the BFD to vacate.
Failing this, Peralta filed a Complaint for Recovery and Ownership of Real Property
in the RTC of Davao. RTC ruled in favor of Peralta and orded the Republic to vacate
the property and remove all improvements thereon.
On May 30, 1997 or 5 days before the expiration of the period to appeal, Republic
filed through registered mail a Motion for Reconsideration of the RTC decison.
However, on June 11, 1997, the RTC expunged the MR on the ground that it failed to
incorporate any notice of hearing as required by the Rules. The Republic received said
order on June 18, 1997. Thereafter, on July 22, 1997, Republic filed a Notice of
Appeal. In opposition, Peralta et al filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground that the
MR was a mere scap of paper and thus did not toll the running of the reglementary
period for perfecting appeal.
Pending all this, the RTC judge retired. On Jan 28, 1999, the new judge issued an
order giving due course to Republic’s Appeal but was again reversed in light of
jurisprudence brought to its attention. Peralta et al then moved for the execution
which was granted. Republic filed an MR assailing the dismissal of it Appeal as well as
the granting of the Writ of Execution. MR denied.
On certiorari in the CA, Republic’s petition was again dismissed. Hence, this petition.
Essentially, the Republic assails the CA’s declaration that they failed to perfect their
appeal.
DOCTRINE:
The Court agrees with the CA that the OSG was negligent when it filed on May
30, 1997 the defective motion for reconsideration. Section 2, Rule 37 of the Rules
of Court provides that a motion for reconsideration or a motion for a new trial shall
be made in writing stating the ground or grounds therefor, a written notice of which
shall be served by the movant on the adverse party. Such written notice is that
prescribed in Sections 4 and 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court. Under Section 4,
paragraph 2 of said rule, a notice of hearing on a motion shall be served by the
movant to all the parties concerned at least 3 days before the date of hearing.
Section 5 of the same rule requires that the notice of hearing shall be directed to
the parties concerned and shall state the time and place of the hearing of the
motion. The requirements, far from being merely technical and procedural as claimed
by the petitioners, are vital elements of procedural due process.
Since the Rules of Court do not fix any period within which the said party may file his
reply or opposition, the trial court would have no way of determining whether the
adverse party agrees or objects to the motion and, if he objects, to hear him on his
objection. Hence, the need for the movant to set the time and place of hearing of
its motion. The requirements entombed in Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 of the
Rules of Court are mandatory and noncompliance therewith is fatal and renders
the motion pro forma;a worthless piece of paper which the clerk of court has no
right to receive and which the court has no authority to act upon. In cases of
motions for a new trial or for the reconsideration of a judgment, the running of
the period for appeal is not tolled by the mere filing or pendency of said
motion.
In this case, the Republic, through the OSG, received on May 20, 1997 the decision of
the RTC; hence, they had until June 4, 1997 within which to file their motion for
reconsideration or for a new trial or to perfect their appeal from said adverse
decision. Although the Republic filed the motion for reconsideration dated
May 30, 1997 within the reglementary period, said motion failed to comply with
Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15. The records show that there is no proof that Peralta
et al were actually served with a copy of said motion, as required by Section 10,
Rule 13 of the Rules of Court. The OSG did not bother to file an amended motion
for reconsideration containing the requirements of Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15
of the Rules of Court.
3. People v. Odilao, April 14, 2004, G.R. No. 155451 ????
QUICKIE FACTS:
Odilao et al were charged with Estafa in an Information filed in the RTC of Cebu. A
Warrant of Arrest was issued. However, upon motion of Odilao, reinvestigation was
conducted. Based on the reinvestigation report, no probable cause was found. Thus,
the Prosecution sought to dismiss the case. As a result, the prívate complainant
(Bugash) opposed the reinvestigation report and filed a Petition for Review in the
DOJ. Thus, the RTC did not rule on the Motion to Dismiss until the DOJ resolves
the petition.
A year later, the RTC denied the Motion to Dismiss. Thus, Odilao filed an MR which
was denied. Consequently, Odilao went up to the CA via Petition for Certiorari. CA
granted the Petition and directed the RTC to wait until the DOJ resolves the Petition
filed before it. As a result, the People filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with the
SC.
While said Petition was pending resolution before the SC, Bugash filed an MR before
the CA seeking reversal of its decisión which granted Odilao’s Petition. This MR was
granted and the CA reversed itself and denied the Motion to Dismiss the case filed by
the Prosecutor.
Thereafter, DOJ denied the Petition for Review and held that there was no probable
cause DOCTRINE:
It cannot be avoided that we remind the Court of Ap-peals of the provisions of
Section 15, Rule VI of the 2002 Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals (effective
August 22, 2002), which explicitly provides thus:
SEC. 15. Effect of Filing an Appeal in the Supreme Court. — No motion for
reconsideration or rehearing shall be acted upon if the movant has previously
filed in the Supreme Court a petition for review on certiorari or a motion for
extension of time to file such petition. If such petition or motion is subsequently filed,
the motion for reconsideration pending in this Court shall be deemed
abandoned.
We are, therefore, quite perplexed why the CA did not act in accord with the
aforequoted Rule and instead resolved the motion for reconsideration of its
Decision dated September 27, 2002, filed by Bugash, despite service on it of a copy
of the Motion For Extension To File Petition For Review dated October 15, 2002,
filed by the OSG.
At the very least, prudence dictates that the CA should have first required Bugash
to secure the conformity of the OSG, or required the latter to comment on the
motion for reconsideration of Bugash. The positions taken by the Office of the
Solicitor General and Bugash are practically identical. In any event the Court of
Appeals ought not to have acted on the said motion for reconsideration of private
complainant Bugash. It should have considered said motion which, in the first
place, was without the conformity of the OSG, the representative of the People of
the Philippines, as having been abandoned by the filing of herein petition by the
OSG, pursuant to the aforequoted Section 15, Rule VI of the 2002 Internal Rules of
the Court of Appeals.
4. Neypes v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 141524, September 14, 2005
QUICKIE FACTS:
Neypes et al filed an Action for Annulment of Judgment and Titles and Reconveyance
before the RTC against Bureau of Forests, Bureau of Lands, et al. However, in Feb
12, 1998, RTC dismissed the Complaint on the ground that the action already
prescribed. Neypes received the order on Mar 3, 1998. On Mar 18, 1998 or 15 days
later, Neypes filed an MR. On July 1, 1998, RTC dismissed the MR on and the order
was received on July 22, 1998. On July 27, 1998 or 5 days later after receipt, Neypes
filed a Notice of appeal and paid docket fees on August 3, 1998.
RTC denied the Notice of Appeal for having been filed 8 days late. MR was denied.
Neypes went up the CA via Petition for Certiorari and assailed the dismissal of the
Notice of Appeal. He claims that they filed it on time and argued that the 15-day
period started to run only from the date they received the order dismissing the MR on
July 22. Thus, when they filed their MR 5 days later, it was still within the
reglementary period.
CA dismissed the Petition and reckoned the 15-day period from March 3. MR denied.
Hence, this petition. Essentially, Neypes questions the period within which to
properly file its Notice of Appeal.
DOCTRINE:
First and foremost, the right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a part of due
process. It is merely a statutory privilege and may be exercised only in the manner and
in accordance with the provisions of law. Thus, one who seeks to avail of the right to
appeal must comply with the requirements of the Rules. Failure to do so often leads
to the loss of the right to appeal.
An appeal should be taken within 15 days from the notice of judgment or final
order appealed from. A final judgment or order is one that finally disposes of a case,
leaving nothing more for the court to do with respect to it. It is an adjudication on the
merits which, considering the evidence presented at the trial, declares categorically
what the rights and obligations of the parties are; or it may be an order or judgment
that dismisses an action.
FINAL ORDER
As already mentioned, Neypes argues that the order of July 1, 1998 denying their
MR should be construed as the “final order,” not the February 12, 1998 order
which dismissed their complaint. Since they received their copy of the denial of
their MR only on July 22, 1998, the 15-day reglementary period to appeal had
not yet lapsed when they filed their notice of appeal on July 27, 1998.
We sustain Neypes’ view that the order dated July 1, 1998 denying their MR was the final
order contemplated in the Rules.
START OF THE 15-DAY REGLEMENTARY PERIOD; FRESH PERIOD RULE
Under Rule 41, Section 3, Neypes had 15 days from notice of judgment or final
order to appeal the decision of the trial court. On the 15th day of the original
appeal period (March 18, 1998), Neypes did not file a notice of appeal but instead
opted to file a MR.
According to the RTC, the MR only interrupted the running of the 15-day appeal
period. It ruled that Neypes, having filed their MR on the last day of the 15-day
reglementary period to appeal, had only one (1) day left to file the notice of appeal
upon receipt of the notice of denial of their MR. Neypes, however, argue that they
were entitled under the Rules to a fresh period of 15 days from receipt of the
“final order” or the order dismissing their motion for reconsideration.
To standardize the appeal periods provided in the Rules and to afford litigants fair
opportunity to appeal their cases, the Court deems it practical to allow a fresh
period of 15 days within which to file the notice of appeal in the Regional Trial
Court, counted from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for a new trial or
motion for reconsideration.
Henceforth, this “FRESH PERIOD RULE” shall also apply to Rule 40
governing appeals from the Municipal Trial Courts to the Regional Trial Courts;
Rule 42 on petitions for review from the Regional Trial Courts to the Court of
Appeals; Rule 43 on appeals from quasi-judicial agencies to the Court of Appeals and
Rule 45 governing appeals by certiorari to the Supreme Court. The new rule aims to
regiment or make the appeal period uniform, to be counted from receipt of the
order denying the motion for new trial, motion for reconsideration (whether full
or partial) or any final order or resolution.
To recapitulate, a party litigant may either file his notice of appeal within 15 days
from receipt of the Regional Trial Court’s decision or file it within 15 days from
receipt of the order (the “final order”) denying his motion for new trial or
motion for reconsideration. Obviously, the new 15-day period may be availed of only
if either motion is filed otherwise, the decision becomes final and executory after the
lapse of the original appeal period provided in Rule 41, Section 3.
5. Tan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 130314, September 22, 1998
QUICKIE FACTS:
Annie Tan leased a portion of her building in Binondo in favor of Bloomberry Export
Manufacturing Inc. For alleged violations of the lease contract, Tan filed a Complaint
for Ejectment against Bloomberry. Bloomberry likewise filed a Case for Consignation
on account of Tan’s refusal to accept its rental payment. These 2 cases were
consolidated. As a matter of course, MTC dismissed the Complaint as well as
Bloomberry’s counterclaim.
On appeal, RTC affirmed. Consequently, Tan filed an MR which however did not
include a Notice of Hearing as required by the Rules. Thus, Bloomberry filed an Ex
Parte Motion for Entry of Judgment on the ground that the MR was a mere scrap of
paper which did not toll the running of the reglemantary period. In other words,
Bloomberry contends that the RTC decisión has already become final and executory.
Thereafer, Tan filed a Motion to Set for Hearing the MR. Tan avers that she
inavertently omitted said Notice on account of her lawyer’s messenger’s honest
mistake. Also, she claims that, due to work-related pressures, her lawyer was not able
to follow up the motion. Over the vehement opposition of Bloomberry, the RTC
granted the Motion and set the hearing at a specified date and time. Aggrieved,
Bloomberry filed an MR which was denied. As such, Bloomberry filed a Petition for
Certiorari in the CA. CA granted the Petition and reversed the RTC in favor of
Bloomberry. Hence, this petition.
Tan questions whether or not the omission through inadvertence of a Notice of
Hearing for an MR is a fatal defect which does not toll the running of the
reglementary period to appeal.
DOCTRINE:
We are not in the least convinced. First, it is unfair to place the blame for such
omission on the messenger. The burden of preparing a complete pleading falls on
counsel’s shoulders, not on the messenger’s. The counsel is ultimately responsible for
the acts or omissions of his agents. Hence, the messenger’s conduct can neither justify
the counsel’s mistake nor warrant a departure from the mandate of the aforesaid
procedural rules.
Second, it is incredible that the fourth page containing the Notice of Hearing was
left behind due to honest mistake. In fact, there was no such page. Tan’s claim is
belied by the very MR she filed which ended exactly on the 3rd page as evidenced by
the “copy furnished” notation. It is safe to conclude that there was no accidental
or excusable neglect in not including a fourth page in this case. In other words,
Tan’s counsel simply failed to include a notice of hearing.
Finally, the fact that Tan’s former counsel calendared the motion for hearing for
August 23, 1996 belies the excuse that an alleged fourth page had been left behind. In
the first place, if a notice of hearing had been included in the MR, there would
have been no need for Tan to file the Motion to set the time and date of
hearing. What is clear is that said counsel filed the latter Motion, only after
Bloomberry had submitted its Motion for Entry of Judgment — with copy furnished
Tan’s counsel — on the ground that Tan’s MR was a mere scrap of paper that did not
stop the period for appeal.
XXV. PETITION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT (RULE 38)
1. Alaban v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.156021, September 23, 2005
QUICKIE FACTS:
Francisco Provido, filed a Petition for Probate of the will of Soledad Provido
Elevencionado who died in January 2000 in the RTC of Iloilo. He alleged that he was
an heir of the decedent. The Probate Court allowed the probate of the will.
Meanwhile, Flores filed an Petition for Letters of Administration with the RTC of
General Santos. However, RTC of General Santos dismissed the Petition because the
Probate Court in Iloilo already had jurisdiction over the case.
After 4 months from the finality of the Probate Court, Alaban, Flores, et al filed a
Motion to Reopen the probate proceedings claiming that they were intestate heirs of
the decedent. Thereafter, RTC issued an Order denying the Motion.
Consequently, Alaban, Flores, et al filed with the CA an Petition for Annulment of
the Decision and Order of the RTC. They claimed that Provido fraudulently secured
the probate of the will by making them think that they were going to enter into a
Compromise Agreement.
However, CA dismissed the Petition on the ground that Abalan, Flores, et al failed to
avail of the ordinary remedies of New Trial, Appeal, Petition for Relief from
Judgment, or other appropriate remedies. MR was denied. Hence, this petition.
Abalan, Flores, et al essentially claim that since they were not made parties to the
proceedings in the RTC of Iloilo (Probate Court), they could not have availed of the
ordinary remedies of New Trial, Appeal, Petition for Relief from Judgment, etc.
ISSUE: WHETHER OR NOT ABALAN COULD FILE A PETITION FOR
ANNULMENT OF JUDGMENT WITHOUT AVAILING OF ORDINARY
REMEDIES LIKE PETITION FOR RELEIF FROM JUDGMENT.
HELD: NO. SINCE IT IS AN ACTION IN REM, THEY BECAME PARTIES TO
THE PROBATE PROCEEDINGS BY PUBLICATION. THUS, THEY SHOULD
HAVE AVAILED OF THE ORDINARY REMEDIES BEFORE FILING THE
PETITION FOR ANNULMENT OF JUDGMENT.
MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL
Rule 37 allows an aggrieved party to file a motion for new trial on the ground of
fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence. The same Rule permits the filing of
an MR on the grounds of excessive award of damages, insufficiency of evidence to
justify the decision or final order, or that the decision or final order is contrary to law.
Both motions should be filed within the period for taking an appeal, or fifteen (15)
days from notice of the judgment or final order.
PETITION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT
Meanwhile, a petition for relief from judgment under Section 3 of Rule 38 is resorted
to when a judgment or final order is entered, or any other proceeding is
thereafter taken, against a party in any court through fraud, accident, mistake,
or excusable negligence. Said party may file a petition in the same court and in the
same case to set aside the judgment, order or proceeding. It must be filed within
sixty (60) days after the petitioner learns of the judgment and within six (6)
months after entry thereof.
A motion for new trial or reconsideration and a petition for relief from judgment are
remedies available only to parties in the proceedings where the assailed
judgment is rendered. In fact, it has been held that a person who was never a
party to the case, or even summoned to appear therein, cannot avail of a
petition for relief from judgment.
NOTICE BY PUBLICATION
However, Alaban, Flores et al are mistaken in asserting that they are not or have not
become parties to the probate proceedings.
It has been held that a proceeding for the probate of a will is one in rem, such
that with the corresponding publication of the petition the court's jurisdiction
extends to all persons interested in said will or in the settlement of the estate of
the decedent.
It is the publication of such notice that brings in the whole world as a party in the case
and vests the court with jurisdiction to hear and decide it. Thus, even though they
were not mentioned in the petition for probate, they eventually became parties
thereto as a consequence of the publication of the notice of hearing. As parties
to the probate proceedings, they could have validly availed of the remedies of
motion for new trial or reconsideration and petition for relief from judgment.
PETITION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT IS THE PROPER REMEDY
Conceding that they became aware of the Decision after it had become final, they
could have still filed a petition for relief from judgment after the denial of their
motion to reopen. Petitioners claim that they learned of the Decision only on 4
October 2001, or almost four (4) months from the time the Decision had attained
finality. But they failed to avail of the remedy.
For failure to make use without sufficient justification of the said remedies available to
them, they could no longer resort to a petition for annulment of judgment;
otherwise, they would benefit from their own inaction or negligence.
ACTION FOR ANNULMENT OF JUDGMENT
An action for annulment of judgment is a remedy in law independent of the case
where the judgment sought to be annulled was rendered. The purpose of such
action is to have the final and executory judgment set aside so that there will be
a renewal of litigation. It is resorted to in cases where the ordinary remedies of
new trial, appeal, petition for relief from judgment, or other appropriate remedies are
no longer available through no fault of the petitioner, and is based on only two
grounds: extrinsic fraud, and lack of jurisdiction or denial of due process.
A person need not be a party to the judgment sought to be annulled, and it is
only essential that he can prove his allegation that the judgment was obtained by the
use of fraud and collusion and he would be adversely affected thereby.
2. Samartino v. Raon, G.R. No. 131482, July 3, 2002
QUICKIE FACTS:
Filomena Crisostomo owns a parcel of land in Noveleta. After her death, she was
survived by her sister Leonor Raon. Raon filed a Complaint for Ejectment against
Regalado Samartino in the MTC of Noveleta and alleged that the lease with
Crisostomo already expired and still she refused to vacate.
Summons was served upon Samartino’s brother because he was then confined in
rehab in Tagaytay. As a result, the liason officer of the rehab appeared before the
MTC with a certification that Samartino cannot comply with the directive file an
Answer within the reglementary period. Nonetheless, upon motion of Raon, MTC
declared Samartino in default and ordered Raon to present evidence ex parte. Then,
MTC ruled in favor of Raon and ordered Samartino to vacate.
After learning of the adverse decision by the MTC, Samartino filed a Motion to Set
Aside Judgment in the RTC. However, RTC affirmed the MTC’s ruling. The RTC
decision became final. Thereafter, a Writ of Execution was issued and the parcel of
land was levied upon.
Thus, Samartino filed in the RTC a Petition for Relief from Judgment with an
affidavit of merit alleging that Filomena Crisostomo sold the land to him as evidence
by a Deed of Absolute Sale. Nevertheless, RTC dismissed the Petition for Relief from
Judgment. MR was likewise denied. On certiorari, CA dismissed Samartino’s petition.
MR was denied as well. Hence, this petition.
ISSUE: WHETHER OR NOT THE RTC CORRECTLY DISMISSED
SAMARTINO’S PETITION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT.
HELD: NO. NO VALID SERVICE OF SUMMONS. ALSO, THE PETITION
FOR RELIEF WAS FILED ON TIME.
There being no valid substituted service of summons (no explanation of impossibility
of personal service; brother was not proven to be of sufficient age and discretion and
resident thereof), the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the person
Samartino.
In addition, the RTC committed reversible error in dismissing the petition for
relief from judgment for having been filed out of time. According to the RTC, the
petition for relief, filed on November 25, 1996, was late because Samartino had actual
knowledge of the judgment in the ejectment case since March 1996. The period
within which to file a petition for relief should have been reckoned from the
date Samartino learned of the judgment of the RTC. It should not have been
counted from the date of the MTC’s decision because, precisely, Samartino
appealed the same. It was the RTC’s decision that became final and, hence, was the
proper subject of the petition for relief from judgment. It is axiomatic that a petition
for relief is only available against a final and executory judgment.
It is not clear from the records of the case at bar when Samartino learned of the
decision of the RTC affirming the judgment of the MTC. What appears is that the
said decision became final only on August 15, 1996, and must have been entered
sometime thereafter. Hence, the petition for relief filed on November 25, 1996 was
well within the 6-month period prescribed by the Rules.
3. Purcon v. MRM Philippines et al., G.R. No. 182718, September 26, 2008
QUICKIE FACTS:
Purcon was a seaman working for MRM. He suffered a hernia and was thus
repatriated back to the Philippines. After the doctor declared that he was fit to work,
he reported to MRM. However, he was told that there was no vacancy for him. As
such, he filed Complaint for Reimbursement of Disability Benefits and other
monetary benefits in the NLRC. In its defense, MRM averred that since the hernia
was not work related, Purcon was not entitled to disability benefit and related claims.
LA dismissed Purco’s Complaint. On appeal, NLRC likewise dismissed the appeal
which became final and executory. Thereafter, Purco filed in the CA a Petition for
Certiorari which was however denied. The CA’s resolution also became final and
executory. Nonetheless, Purco filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with the SC
which was also denied. As a result, Purco filed before the SC a Petition for Relief
from Judgment.
ISSUE: WHETHER OR NOT A PETITIONER CAN AVAIL OF A PETITION
FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT FROM AN SC DECISION WHICH
DISMISSED ITS PETITION FOR REVIEW ON CERTIORARI.
HELD: NO. IT IS NOT AN AVAILABLE REMEDY IN THE SC.
FIRST, although Section 1 of Rule 38 states that when a judgment or final order is
entered through fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence, a party in any court
may file a petition for relief from judgment, this rule must be interpreted in
harmony with Rule 56, which enumerates the original cases cognizable by the
Supreme Court, thus:
Section 1. Original cases cognizable. — Only petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus,
quo warranto, habeas corpus, disciplinary proceedings against members of the judiciary
and attorneys, and cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls
may be filed originally in the Supreme Court.
A petition for relief from judgment is not included in the list of Rule 56 cases
originally cognizable by this Court.
SECOND, while Rule 38 uses the phrase “any court,” it refers only to MTCs and
RTCs. As revised, Rule 38 radically departs from the previous rule as it now allows
the MTC which decided the case or issued the order to hear the petition for
relief. Under the old rule, a petition for relief from the judgment or final order of
Municipal Trial Courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court.
The procedural change in Rule 38 is in line with Rule 5, prescribing uniform
procedure for MTCs and RTCs and designation of Municipal/Metropolitan Trial
Courts as courts of record.
THIRD, the procedure in the CA and the Supreme Court are governed by
separate provisions of the Rules of Court. It may, from time to time, be
supplemented by additional rules promulgated by the Supreme Court through
resolutions or circulars. As it stands, neither the Rules of Court nor the Revised
Internal Rules of the CA allows the remedy of petition for relief in the CA.
There is no provision in the Rules of Court making the petition for relief applicable in
the CA or this Court. The procedure in the CA from Rules 44 to 55, with the
exception of Rule 45 which pertains to the Supreme Court, identifies the remedies
available before said Court such as annulment of judgments or final orders or
resolutions (Rule 47), motion for reconsideration (Rule 52), and new trial (Rule
53). Nowhere is a petition for relief under Rule 38 mentioned.
If a petition for relief from judgment is not among the remedies available in the CA,
with more reason that this remedy cannot be availed of in the Supreme Court.
This Court entertains only questions of law. A petition for relief raises questions
of facts on fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence, which are beyond
the concerns of this Court.
Nevertheless, even if We delve into the merits of the petition, the same must still be
dismissed. The late filing of the petition for review does not amount to
excusable negligence. Purco’s lack of devotion in discharging his duty, without
demonstrating fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence, cannot be a basis for
judicial relief. For a claim of counsel’s gross negligence to prosper, nothing
short of clear abandonment of the client’s cause must be shown.
The relief afforded by Rule 38 will not be granted to a party who seeks to be
relieved from the effects of the judgment when the loss of the remedy of law was
due to his own negligence, or mistaken mode of procedure for that matter;
otherwise the petition for relief will be tantamount to reviving the right of appeal
which has already been lost, either because of inexcusable negligence or due to a
mistake of procedure by counsel.
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