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Consti Law Judiary cases

Consti Law Judiary cases

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Published by: mark john melegrito on Sep 10, 2010
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respondents.R E S O L U T I O N
This resolves the pending incidents before us, namely, respondents' and intervenors' separate motions for reconsideration of our Resolution datedNovember 17, 1998, as well as their motions to refer this case to this Court
En banc
.Respondents and intervenors jointly argue, in fine, that our Resolution dated November 17, 1998, wherein we voted two-two on the separate motionsfor reconsideration of our earlier Decision or April 24, 1998, as a result of which the Decision was deemed affirmed, did not effectively resolve the saidmotions for reconsideration inasmuch as the matter should have been referred to the Court sitting e
n banc
, pursuant to Article VIII, Section 4(3) of theConstitution. Respondents and intervenors also assail our Resolution dated January 27, 1999, wherein we noted without action the intervenors'"Motion For Reconsideration With Motion To Refer The Matter To The Court
En Banc
" filed on December 3, 1998, on the following considerations, towit:the movants have no legal personality to further seek redress before the Court after their motion for leave to intervene in this case was deniedin the April 24, 1998 Decision. Their subsequent motion for reconsideration of the said decision, with a prayer to resolve the motion to theCourt
En Banc
, was also denied in the November 17, 1998 Resolution of the Court. Besides, their aforesaid motion of December 3, 1998 is inthe nature of a second motion for reconsideration which is a forbidden motion (Section 2, Rule 52 in relation to Section 4, Rule 56 of the 1997Rules of Civil Procedure). The impropriety of movants' December 3, 1998 motion becomes all the more glaring considering that all therespondents in this case did not anymore join them (movants) ill seeking a reconsideration of the November 17, 1998 Resolution.
Subsequently, respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed their "Motion For Reconsideration Of The Resolution Dated November 17,1998 And For Referral Of The Case To This Honorable Court
En Banc
(With Urgent Prayer For Issuance Of A Restraining Order)" on December 3, 1998,accompanied by a "Manifestation and Motion"
and a copy of the Registered Mail Bill
evidencing filing of the said motion for reconsideration to thisCourt by registered mail.
In their respective motions for reconsideration, both respondents and intervenors pray that this case be referred to this Court e
n banc
. They contendthat inasmuch as their earlier motions for reconsideration (of the Decision dated April 24, 1998) were resolved by a vote of two-two, the requirednumber to carry a decision,
., three, was not met. Consequently, the case should be referred to and be decided by this Court e
n banc
, relying on thefollowing constitutional provision:Cases or matters heard by a division shall be decided or resolved with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part inthe deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon, and in no case without the concurrence of at least three of such Members.When the required number is not obtained, the case shall be decided
en banc
, that no doctrine or principle of law laid down by theCourt in a decision rendered
en banc
or in division may be modified or reversed except by the Court sitting
en banc
A careful reading of the above constitutional provision, however, reveals the intention of the framers to draw a distinction between cases, on the onehand, and matters, on the other hand, such that
are "decided" while
, which include motions, are "resolved". Otherwise put, the word"decided" must refer to "cases"; while the word "resolved" must refer to "matters", applying the rule of 
reddendo singula singulis
. This is true not onlyin the interpretation of the above-quoted Article VIII, Section 4(3), but also of the other provisions of the Constitution where these words appear.
With the aforesaid rule of construction in mind, it is clear that only cases are referred to the Court
en banc
for decision whenever the required numberof votes is not obtained. Conversely, the rule does not apply where, as in this case, the required three votes is not obtained in the resolution of a motionfor reconsideration. Hence, the second sentence of the aforequoted provision speaks only of "case" and not "matter". The reason is simple. The above-quoted Article VIII, Section 4(3) pertains to the disposition of cases by a division. If there is a tie in the voting, there is no decision. The only way todispose of the case then is to refer it to the Court
en banc
. On the other hand, if a case has already been decided by the division and the losing partyfiles a motion for reconsideration, the failure of the division to resolve the motion because of a tie in the voting does not leave the case undecided.There is still the decision which must stand in view of the failure of the members of the division to muster the necessary vote for its reconsideration.Quite plainly, if the voting results in a tie, the motion for reconsideration is lost. The assailed decision is not reconsidered and must therefore bedeemed affirmed. Such was the ruling of this Court in the Resolution of November 17, 1998.It is the movants' further contention in support of their plea for the referral of this case to the Court
en banc
that the issues submitted in their separatemotions are of first impression. In the opinion penned by Mr. Justice Antonio M. Martinez during the resolution of the motions for reconsideration onNovember 17, 1998, the following was expressed:Regrettably, the issues presented before us by the movants are matters of no extraordinary import to merit the attention of the Court
En Banc
.Specifically, the issue of whether or not the power of the local government units to reclassify lands is subject to the approval of the DAR is nolonger novel, this having been decided by this Court in the case of 
Province of Camarines Sur 
et al 
Court of Appeals
wherein we held thatlocal government units need not obtain the approval of the DAR to convert or reclassify lands from agricultural to non-agricultural use. Thedispositive portion of the Decision in the aforecited case states:WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the questioned decision of the Court of Appeals is set aside insofar as it (a) nullifies thetrial court's order allowing the Province of Camarines Sur to take possession of private respondent's property (b) orders the trialcourt to suspended the exportation proceedings; and (c) requires the Province of Camarines Sur to obtain the approval of theDepartment of Agrarian Reform to convert or reclassify private respondents' property from agricultural to non-agricultural use.x x x x x x x x x(Emphasis supplied)Moreover, the Decision sought to be reconsidered was arrived at by a unanimous vote of all five (5) members of the Second Division of thisCourt, Stated otherwise, this Second Division is of the opinion that the matters raised by movants are nothing new and do not deserve theconsideration of the Court
en banc
. Thus, the participation of the full Court in the resolution of movants' motions for reconsideration wouldbe inappropriate.
The contention, therefore, that our Resolution of November 17, 1998 did not dispose of the earlier motions for reconsideration of the Decision datedApril 24, 1998 is flawed. Consequently, the present motions for reconsideration necessarily partake of the nature of a second motion for reconsiderationwhich, according to the clear and unambiguous language of Rule 56, Section 4, in relation to Rule 52, Section 2, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, isprohibited.True, there are exceptional cases when this Court may entertain a second motion for reconsideration, such as where there are extraordinarily
persuasive reasons. Even then, we have ruled that such second motions for reconsideration must be filed with express leave of court first obtained.
Inthis case, not only did movants fail to ask for prior leave of court, but more importantly, they have been unable to show that there are exceptionalreasons for us to give due course to their second motions for reconsideration. Stripped of the arguments for referral of this incident to the Court
, the motions subject of this resolution are nothing more but rehashes of the motions for reconsideration which have been denied in theResolution of November 17, 1998. To be sure, the allegations contained therein have already been raised before and passed upon by this Court in thesaid Resolution.The crux of the controversy is the validity of the "Win-Win" Resolution dated November 7, 1997. We maintain that the same is void and of no legaleffect considering that the March 29, 1996 decision of the Office of the President had already become final and executory even prior to the filing of themotion for reconsideration which became the basis of the said "Win-Win" Resolution. This ruling, quite understandably, sparked a litany of protestationson the part of respondents and intervenors including entreaties for a liberal interpretation of the rules. The sentiment was that notwithstanding itsimportance and far-reaching effects, the case was disposed of on a technicality. The situation, however, is not as simple as what the movants purport itto be. While it may be true that on its face the nullification of the "Win-Win" Resolution was grounded on a procedural rule pertaining to thereglementary period to appeal or move for reconsideration, the underlying consideration therefor was the protection of the substantive rights of petitioners. The succinct words of Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban are quoted in the November 17, 1998 opinion of Mr. Justice Martinez,
.: "Just asa losing party has the right to file an appeal within the prescribed period, the winning party also has the correlative right to enjoy the finality of theresolution of his/her case."
In other words, the finality of the March 29, 1996 OP Decision accordingly vested appurtenant rights to the land in dispute on petitioners as well as onthe people of Bukidnon and other parts of the country who stand to be benefited by the development of the property. The issue in this case, therefore,is not a question of technicality but of substance and merit.
Before finally disposing of these pending matters, we feel it necessary to rule once and for all on the legal standing of intervenors in this case. In theirpresent motions, intervenors insist that they are real parties in interest inasmuch as they have already been issued certificates of land ownership award,or CLOAs, and that while they are seasonal farmworkers at the plantation, they have been identified by the DAR as qualified beneficiaries of theproperty. These arguments are, however, nothing new as in fact they have already been raised in intervenors' earlier motion for reconsideration of ourApril 24, 1998 Decision. Again as expressed in the opinion of Mr. Justice Martinez, intervenors, who are admittedly not regular but seasonalfarmworkers, have no legal or actual and substantive interest over the subject land inasmuch as they have no right to own the land. Rather, their right islimited only to a just share of the fruits of the land.
Moreover, the "Win-Win" Resolution itself states that the qualified beneficiaries have yet to becarefully and meticulously determined by the Department of Agrarian Reform.
Absent any definitive finding of the Department of Agrarian Reform,intervenors cannot as yet be deemed vested with sufficient interest in the controversy as to be qualified to intervene in this case. Likewise, the issuanceof the CLOA's to them does not grant them the requisite standing in view of the nullity of the "Win-Win" Resolution. No legal rights can emanate from aresolution that is null and void.WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing, the following incidents, namely: intervenors' "Motion For Reconsideration With Motion To Refer The Matter ToThe Court
En Banc
," dated December 3, 1998; respondents' "Motion For Reconsideration Of The Resolution Dated November 17, 1998 And For ReferralOf The Case To This Honorable Court
En Banc
(With Urgent Prayer For Issuance Of A Restraining Order)," dated December 2, 1998; and intervenors'"Urgent Omnibus Motion For The Supreme Court Sitting
En Banc
To Annul The Second Division's Resolution Dated 27 January 1999 And ImmediatelyResolve The 28 May 1998 Motion For Reconsideration Filed By The Intervenors," dated March 2, 1999; are all DENIED with FINALITY. No further motion,pleading, or paper will be entertained in this case.SO ORDERED.
Melo, J., please see separate opinion.Puno, J., in the result. I maintain my original position that the case should go to CA for further proceedings.Mendoza, J., in the result.
G.R. No. 118509 September 5, 1996LIMKETKAI SONS MILLING, INC.,
Motion of petitioner Limketkai Sons Milling, Inc., for reconsideration of the Court's resolution of March 29, 1996, which set aside the Court'sDecember 1, 1995 decision and affirmed
in toto
the Court of Appeals' decision dated August 12, 1994.It is argued, albeit erroneously, that the case should be referred to the Court En Banc as the doctrines laid down in
 Abrenica v. Gonda and DeGarcia
, 34 Phil. 739,
Talosig v. Vda. de Nieba
, 43 SCRA 473, and
Villonco Realty Co. v. Bormaheco, Inc., et al 
., 65 SCRA 352, have been modifiedor reversed. A more circumspect analysis of these cases vis-a-vis the case at bench would inevitably lead petitioner to the conclusion thatthere was neither reversal nor modification of the doctrines laid down in the Abrenica, Talosig and Villonco cases. In fact, the inapplicability of the principle enunciated in Abrenica and Talosig to this case has already been extensively discussed in the Court's resolution, hence the samewill not be addressed anew. As regard the case of Villonco, petitioner mistakenly assumes that its case has a similar factual milicu with theformer. The Court finds no further need to elaborate on the issue, but will simply point out the significant fact that the offer of the buyer inVillonco, unlike in this case, was accepted by the seller, Bormaheco, Inc.; and Villonco involves a perfected contract, a factor crucially absent inthe instant case as there was no meeting of the minds between the parties.What petitioner bewails the most is the present composition of the Third Division which deliverated on private respondents' motions forreconsideration and by a majority vote reversed the unanimous decision of December 1, 1995. More specifically, petitioner questions theassumption of Chief Justice Narvasa of the chairmanship of the Third Division and arrogantly rams its idea on how each Division should bechaired, i.e., the First Division should have been chaired by Chief Justice Narvasa, the Second Division by Mr. Justice Padilla, the next seniorJustice, and the Third Division by Mr. Justice Regalado, the third in line. We need only to stress that the change in the membership of the threedivisions of the Court was inevitable by reason of Mr. Justice Feliciano's retirement. Such reorganization is purely an internal matter of theCourt to which petitioner certainly has no business at all. In fact, the current "staggered" set-up in the chairmanships of the Divisions is similarto that adopted in 1988. In that year, the Court's Third Division was likewise chaired by then Chief Justice Fernan, while the First and SecondDivisions were headed by the next senior Justices — Justices Narvasa and Melencio-Herrera, respectively.Moreover, the Court invites the petitioner's attention to its Manifestation and Motion for Voluntary Inhibition, dated March 8, 1996 (
, pp. 386-388),where it noted, without objection, the transfer of Mr. Chief Justice Narvasa, Mr. Justice Davide, Jr., and Mr. Justice Francisco to the Court's Third Division.In this Manifestation, petitioner merely moved for the inhibition of the Chief Justice on the ground that the Chief Justice previously acted as counsel forone of the respondents, which allegation the Chief Justice vehemently denied by saying that the information upon which the petitioner relied "it utterlywithout foundation in fact and is nothing but pure speculation or wistful yearning"
It was only after the rendition of the Court's March 29, 1996
resolution of the Court's March 29, 1996 resolution of the Court's March 29, 1996 resolution when petitioner unprecedentedly objected to thecomposition of the Third Division. Suffice it to say that the Court with its new membership is not obliged to follow blindly a decision upholding a party'scase when, after its re-examination, the same calls for a rectification. "Indeed", said the Court in
Kilosbayan, Inc. vs. Morato, et al 
., 250 SCRA 130, 136,"a change in the composition of the Court could prove the means of undoing an erroneous decision". And it is precisely in recognition of the fact thatthe Court is far from infallible that parties are duly accorded a remedy under the Rules of Court to bring to the Court's attention any error in the judgment by way of, among others, a motion for reconsideration. "More importantly than anything else", in the words of Mr. Justice Malcolm, "is thatthe court should be right" and to render justice where justice is due. It is therefore unfair, if not uncalled for, to brand the instant case as "one of utmostuniqueness in the annals of our judiciary."
Counsel for the petitioner additionally insinuates that the
employed a "double standard" in deciding the case and professesbewilderment at the
's act of purportedly taking a position in the ponencia contrary to
's act of purportedly taking a positionin the ponencia contrary to
's stand in his book.
It is quite unfortunate that to strengthen his unmeritorious posture, the counsel forthe petitioner would resort to such unfounded insinuations, conduct which to the
's mind borders on contempt and is inappropriatefor one who belongs to the legal profession. Be that as it may, the
wishes to state that he has not and has never "used a doublestandard"
in his entire career in the judiciary in the adjudication of cases. And contrary to petitioner's misimpression, the
never tooka "questionable position in his ponencia"
different from "his authoritative reference and textbook
which cited the case of 
 Abrenica v.Gonda and De Gracia
precisely because of the inherent factual differences of this case with that of Abrenica. Had counsel for the petitionerbeen meticulous, he would not have overlooked the fact that counsels for the other party never waived their right to object to the admissionof an inadmissible evidence. The fact is that counsels for private respondents raised their persistent objections as early as the initial hearingand, when unceremoniously rebuffed for no apparent reason, registered their continuing objections. This is borne out by the records whichthe Court in its March 29, 1996 resolution cited. Thus:ATTY. VARGAS:Before I proceed with the cross-examination of the witness, your Honor, may we object to the particular portion of the affidavitwhich attempt to prove the existence of a verbal contract to sell more specifically the answers contained in pag. 3. Par. 1, the wholeof the answer.xxx xxx xxxCOURT:Objection overruled.ATTY. VARGAS:Your Honor, what has been denied by the Court was the motion for preliminary hearing of affirmative defenses. The statement madeby the witness to prove that there was a verbal contract to sell is inadmissible an evidence in this case because an agreement mustbe in writing.COURT:Go ahead, that has been already overruled.ATTY. VARGAS:So may we reiterate our objection with regard to all other portions of the affidavit which deal on the verbal contract. (TSN, Feb. 28,1989, pp. 3-5: Underscoring supplied.)
xxx xxx xxxATTY. CORNAGO:Before we proceed, we would like to make of record our continuing objection in so far as questions and answers propounded toPedro Revilla dated February 29, 1989, in so far as questions would illicit (
) answers which would be violative of the best evidencerule in relation to Art. 1403. I refer to questions nos. 8, 13, 16 and 19 of the affidavit of this witness which is considered as his directtestimony. (T.S.N., June 29, 1990, p. 2)ATTY. CORNAGO:May we make of record our continued objection on the testimony which is violative of the best evidence rule in relation to Art. 1403as contained in the affidavit particularly questions Nos. 12, 14, 19 and 20 of the affidavit of Alfonso Lim executed on February 24,1989. . . (T.S.N., June 28, 1990, p. 8).
Petitioner may not now feign ignorance of these pertinent objections. The Court finds no cogent reason to depart from its ruling in its March29, 1996 resolution. To reiterate:Corollarily, as the petitioner's exhibits failed to establish the perfection of the contract of the sale, oral testimony cannot take theirplace without violating the parol evidence rule.
It was therefore irregular for the trial court to have admitted in evidence testimonyto prove the existence of a contract of sale of a real property between the parties despite the persistent objection made by privaterespondent's counsels as early as the first scheduled hearing. While said counsels cross-examined the witnesses, this, to our view,did not constitute a waiver of the parol evidence rule. The
Talosig v. Vda. de Nieba
 Abrenica v. Gonda and de Gracia
casescited by the Court in its initial decision, which ruled to the effect that on objection against the admission of any evidence must bemade at the proper time, i.e., ". . . at the time question is asked",
and that if not so made it will be understood to have beenwaived, do not apply as these two cases involved facts
different from the case at bench. More importantly, here, the directtestimonies of the witnesses were presented in "affidavit-form" where prompt objection to inadmissible evidence is hardly possible,whereas the direct testimonies in these cited cases were delivered orally in open court. The best that counsels could have done, andwhich they did, under the circumstances was to preface the cross-examination with objection.xxx xxx xxxCounsels should not be blamed and, worst, penalized for taking the pat of prudence by choosing the cross-examine the witnessesinstead of keeping mum and letting the inadmissible testimony in "affidavit form" pass without challenge. We thus quote withapproval the observation of public respondent Court of Appeals on this point:As a logical consequence of the above findings, it follows that the court
a quo
erred in allowing the appellee tointroduce parol evidence to prove the existence of a perfected contract of sale over and above the objection of the counsel for the defendant-appellant. The records shows that the court
a quo
allowed the direct testimony of 

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