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Political Law

G.R. No. 169637 June 8, 2007 BENGUET STATE UNIVERSITY represented by its President ROGELIO D. COLTING, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON AUDIT, respondent.

Commission on Audit; Appeals; Pleadings and Practice; A petition for review on certiorari is not the proper mode by which the Commission on Audits (COAs) decisions are reviewed by this court under Rule 64, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, a judgment or final order of the COA may be brought by an aggrieved party to this Court on certiorari under Rule 65. Before addressing the issues raised in the present petition, it bears noting that what was filed before this Court is a petition captioned as a Petition for Review on Certiorari. We point out that a petition for review on certiorari is not the proper mode by which the COAs decisions are reviewed by this Court. Under Rule 64, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, a judgment or final order of the COA may be brought by an aggrieved party to this Court on certiorari under Rule 65. Thus, it is only through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 that the COA's decisions may be reviewed and nullified by us on the ground of grave abuse of discretion or lack or excess of jurisdiction. Same; Same; Same; The averments in the complaint, not the nomenclature given by the parties, determine the nature of the action. Though captioned as a Petition for Review on Certiorari, we treat this petition as a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 for it alleges "grave abuse of discretion" and "reversible legal error." The averments in the complaint, not the nomenclature given by the parties, determine the nature of the action. Likewise, in previous rulings, We have treated differently labeled actions as special civil actions for certiorari under Rule 65 for reasons such as justice, equity, and fair play. Colleges and Universities; Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997 (R.A. 8292); Words and Phrases; Statutory Construction; Under the principle of ejusdem generis, where a statute describes things of a particular class or kind accompanied by words of a generic character, the generic word will usually be limited to things of a similar nature with those particularly enumerated, unless there be something in the context of the statute which would repel such inference. The other programs/projects under R.A. 8292 and its Implementing Rules should be of the same nature as instruction, research, and extension. Under the principle of ejusdem generis, where a statute describes things of a particular class or kind accompanied by words of a generic character, the generic word will usually be limited to things of a similar nature with those particularly enumerated, unless there be something in the context of the statute which would repel such inference. The COA correctly ruled that the "other programs/projects" under R.A. No. 8292 and its Implementing Rules should be of the same nature as instruction, research, and extension. In BSU's case, the disbursements were for rice subsidy and health care allowances which are, in no way, intended for academic programs similar to instruction, research, or extension. Section 4 (d) cannot, therefore, be relied upon by BSU as the legal basis for the grant of the allowances. Same; Same; Academic Freedom; Academic freedom does not grant an institution of higher learning unbridled authority to disburse its funds and grant additional benefits sans statutory basis. Neither can BSU find solace in the academic freedom clause of the Constitution. Academic freedom as adverted to in the Constitution and in R.A. No. 8292 only encompasses the freedom of the institution of higher learning to determine for itself, on academic grounds, who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study. The guaranteed academic freedom does not grant an institution of higher learning unbridled authority to disburse its funds and grant additional benefits sans statutory basis. Unfortunately for BSU, it failed to present any sound legal basis that would justify the grant of these additional benefits to its employees.

Same; Same; Salary Standardization Law (R.A. 6758;) The benefits excluded from the standardized salary rates are the "allowances" which are usually granted to officials and employees of the government to defray or reimburse the expenses incurred in the performance of their official functions rice subsidy and health care allowance granted by BSU were not among the allowances listed in Section 12 which State workers can continue to receive under R.A. No. 6758 over and above their standardized salary rates. The benefits excluded from the standardized salary rates are the "allowances" which are usually granted to officials and employees of the government to defray or reimburse the expenses incurred in the performance of their official functions. Clearly, the rice subsidy and health care allowance granted by BSU were not among the allowances listed in Section 12 which State workers can continue to receive under R.A. No. 6758 over and above their standardized salary rates. Hence, no abuse of discretion was committed by the COA in disallowing the disbursement of funds. Same; Same; Same; Where the employees received the rice subsidy and health care allowances in good faith, the benefits having been authorized by a Board Resolution of a statue university, and they having had no knowledge of the grant of said benefits lacked statutory basis, a refund is unnecessary. As regards the refund of the disallowed benefits, this Court holds that the employees need not refund the benefits they received based on our ruling in Philippine Ports Authority v. Commission on Audit. In that case, the COA disallowed the payment of hazard duty pay and birthday cash gifts to its employees. This Court sustained the disallowance because the grant was without legal basis. However, this Court ruled against the refund holding that: x x x Petitioners received the hazard duty pay and birthday cash gift in good faith since the benefits were authorized by PPA Special Order No. 407-97 issued pursuant to PPA Memorandum Circular No. 34-95 implementing DBM National Compensation Circular No. 76, series of 1995, and PPA Memorandum Circular No. 22-97, respectively. Petitioners at the time had no knowledge that the payment of said benefits lacked legal basis. Being in good faith, petitioners need not refund the benefits they received. The ruling in Philippine Ports Authority applies to this case. The BSU employees received the rice subsidy and health care allowances in good faith since the benefits were authorized by Board Resolution No. 794, series of 1997. They had no knowledge that the grant of said benefits lacked statutory basis. Therefore, a refund is unnecessary. G.R. No. 166639 April 24, 2007 ROGELIO P. JUAN, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and SALVADOR C. DEL MUNDO, respondents.

Election Law; Appreciation of Ballots; In the reading and appreciation of ballots, every ballot is presumed valid unless there is a clear reason to justify its rejection the object in the appreciation of ballots is to ascertain and carry into effect the intention of the voter, if it can be determined with reasonable certainty. A ballot indicates the voter's will. There is no requirement that the entries in the ballot be written nicely or that the name of the candidate be spelled accurately. In the reading and appreciation of ballots, every ballot is presumed valid unless there is a clear reason to justify its rejection. The object in the appreciation of ballots is to ascertain and carry into effect the intention of the voter, if it can be determined with reasonable certainty. When placed in issue, as in this case, the appreciation of contested ballots and election documents which involves a question of fact, is best left to the determination of the COMELEC. Same; Same; Affidavits; Where the affidavit is one in prepared form, with the affiant only writing her name, precinct number, and affixing her signature thereon, this only implies that the testimonies of those who signed the same the 107 teachers of Board of Election Tellers consisted only of the very same prepared sworn statements with only the affiants

affixing their own signatures. The petitioner argues that the testimonies of the 107 public school teachers of the BET attest that they observed no markings in the contested ballots or that the same were prepared by one or two persons, and that there were no irregularities in the appreciation thereof in the precinct level. However, this Court observed that the representative sample of the said testimonies, i.e. the Sinumpaang Salaysay of Myrna R. Jaucian dated February 4, 2004, would show that the same is an affidavit in prepared form, with the affiant only writing her name, precinct number, and affixing her signature thereon. This only implies that the testimonies of the said 107 teachers of the BET consisted only of the very same prepared Sinumpaang Salaysay with only the affiants affixing their own signatures. Further, as correctly observed by the COMELEC En Banc, the markings on the ballots were so subtly made that they would have escaped the scrutiny of the teachers serving as BET, and that only upon close comparison with the other ballots did the flaws became discernible. In this light, the testimonies of these 107 teachers of the BET do not sufficiently establish the petitioner's claim of post-election operations on the questioned ballots. Same; Certiorari; The office of a petition for certiorari is not to correct simple errors of judgment any resort to the said petition under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is limited to the resolution of jurisdictional issues. This Court is not a trier of facts. The Court's jurisdiction to review decisions and orders of the COMELEC on this matter operates only upon a showing of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the COMELEC. Verily, only where grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the COMELEC's judgment. Grave abuse of discretion arises when a lower court or tribunal violates the Constitution, the law or existing jurisprudence. It means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as would amount to lack of jurisdiction; it contemplates a situation where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined by law. The office of a petition for certiorari is not to correct simple errors of judgment; any resort to the said petition under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is limited to the resolution of jurisdictional issues. Thus, it is imperative for the petitioner to show caprice and arbitrariness on the part of the COMELEC whose exercise of discretion is being assailed. A.M. No. 07-2-92-RTC July 24, 2007 RE: HABITUAL ABSENTEEISM OF EVA ROWENA J. YPIL, Court Legal Researcher II, Regional Trial Court, Branch 143 Makati City.

Civil Service Law; Habitual Absenteeism; An officer or employee in the Civil Service shall be considered habitually absent if he incurs unauthorized absences exceeding the allowable 2.5 days monthly leave credits under the Leave Law for at least three (3) months in a semester or at least three (3) consecutive months during the year. The crux of the charge against respondent is her habitual absenteeism. Civil Service Memorandum Circular No. 23, Series of 1998, provides: An officer or employee in the Civil Service shall be considered habitually absent if he incurs unauthorized absences exceeding the allowable 2.5 days monthly leave credits under the Leave Law for at least three (3) months in a semester or at least three (3) consecutive months during the year. In case of claim of ill health, heads of departments or agencies are encouraged to verify the validity of such claim and, if not satisfied with the reason given, should disapprove the application for sick leave. On the other hand, in cases where an employee absents himself from work before approval of the application, said application should be disapproved.

Same; Same; Approval of sick leave, whether with pay, or without pay, is mandatory as long as proof of sickness or disability is attached to the application. Approval of sick leave, whether with pay or without pay, is mandatory as long as proof of sickness or disability is attached to the application. In the instant case, however, the respondents medical certificate failed to fully support her claim of illness. We would like to emphasize the respondents sick leave applications were evaluated by Dr. Runez and Dr. Banzon, both of the SC Clinic Services. They found the submitted medical certificates incredible. It was this finding which the Presiding Judge relied upon. We find no cogent reason to depart from such finding. The Court likewise notes that, in a span of four (4) months, from September until December 2004, respondent have been absent for a total of forty-three (43) days, all because of claims of ill health. Same; Courts; No other office in the government service exacts a greater demand for moral righteousness from an employee than the Judiciary; Court cannot countenance any act or omission which diminishes or tends to diminish the faith of the people in the Judiciary. No other office in the government service exacts a greater demand for moral righteousness and uprightness from an employee than the Judiciary. The Court has stressed that the conduct and behavior of everyone connected with an office charged with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowest clerk, should be circumscribed with a heavy burden of responsibility. As enshrined in the Constitution, public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees, must at all time, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency. This Court cannot countenance any act or omission which diminishes or tends to diminish the faith of the people in the Judiciary.

G.R. No. 158609 July 27, 2007 SPOUSES MARIAN B. LINTAG and ANGELO T. ARRASTIA, represented herein by Attorney-in-Fact REMEDIOS BERENGUER LINTAG, petitioners, vs. NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, respondent.

Constitutional Law; Eminent Domain; Court held in Republic v. Gingoyon that RA 8947 is a substantive law. In the case of Republic v. Gingoyon, 478 SCRA 474 (2005), This Court held that RA 8947 is a substantive law, to wit: It likewise bears noting that the appropriate standard of just compensation is a substantive matter. It is well within the province of the legislature to fix the standard, which it did through the enactment of RA 8974. Specifically, this prescribes the new standards in determining the amount of just compensation in expropriation cases relating to national government infrastructure projects, as well as the payment of the provisional value as a prerequisite to the issuance of a writ of a possession. Same; Same; Statutes; Including administrative rules and regulations, operate prospectively unless the legislative intent to the contrary is manifest by express terms or by necessary implication. It is a well-entrenched principle that statutes, including administrative rules and regulations, operate prospectively unless the legislative intent to the contrary is manifest by express terms or by necessary implication because the retroactive application of a law usually divests rights that have already become vested. This is based on the Latin maxim; Lex prospicit non respicit (the law looks forward, not backward). Same; Same; Expropriation Proceedings; Just Compensation; Expropriation Proceedings of lands consists of two stages; The process is not complete until payment of just compensation. Expropriation of lands consists of two stages: The first is concerned with the determination of the authority of the plaintiff to exercise the power of eminent domain and the propriety of its exercise in the context of the facts involved in the suit. It ends with

an order, if not of the dismissal of the action of condemnation declaring that the plaintiff has a lawful right to take the property sought to be condemned, for public use or purpose described in the complaint, upon the payment of just compensation to be determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint x x x. The second phase of the eminent domain action is concerned with the determination by the court of the just compensation for the property sought to be taken. This is done by the court with the assistance of not more than (3) three Commissioners x x x. It is only upon the completion of these two stages that the expropriation is said to have been completed. The process is not complete until the payment of just compensation. Accordingly, the issuance of the writ of the writ of possession of this case does not rite finis to the expropriation proceedings. To effectuate the transfer of ownership, it is necessary for the NPC to pay the property owners of the final just compensation. Same; Same; Same; Same; Just compensation is not only the correct determination of the amount to be paid to the property owner but also the payment of the property within the reasonable time . We observe that the petitioners are not questioning the authority of the NPC to the exercise of the power of eminent domain nor the propriety of its exercise. While the constitutional constraint of public use has been overcome, the imperative just cause is still wanting. Thus, petitioners now appeal for the prompt payment of the just compensation. Indeed, just compensation is not only the correct determination of the amount to be paid to the property owner but also the payment of the property within a reasonable time. Without prompt payment, compensation cannot be considered just. G.R. Nos. 167006-07 August 14, 2007 DANILO D. COLLANTES, petitioner, vs. HON. SIMEON MARCELO, in his capacity as Ombudsman, and the FACT FINDING INTELLIGENCE BUREAU as represented by Atty. Maria Olivia Elena A. Roxas, respondents.

Ombudsman; The Ombudsman is empowered to determine in the exercise of his discretion whether probable cause exists and to charge the person believed to have committed the crime as defined by law; As a rule, courts should not interfere with the Ombudsmans investigatory power, exercised through the Ombudsman Prosecutors and the authority to determine the presence or absence of probable cause except when the finding is tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. -- The rule is that as far as crimes cognizable by the Sandiganbayan are concerned, the determination of probable cause during the preliminary investigation is a function that belongs to the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is empowered to determine, in the exercise of his discretion, whether probable cause exists, and to charge the person believed to have committed the crime as defined by law. As a rule, courts should not interfere with the Ombudsmans investigatory power, exercised through the Ombudsman Prosecutors, and the authority to determine the presence or absence of probable cause, except when the finding is tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess or jurisdiction. In such case, the aggrieved party may file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Petitioner thus rightly elevated his case to this Court ascribing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Ombudsman in giving due course to the complaint. A.M. No. P-07-2313 April 27, 2007 ZELINDA G. NICOPIOR, complainant, vs. JOSE RENE C. VASQUEZ, respondent.

Administrative Law; Court Personnel; Court has often emphasized that the conduct and behavior of every person connected with the dispensation of justice, from the highest official to the lowliest employee, should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility;

Any conduct that would be a bane to the public trust and confidence reposed in the judiciary cannot be countenanced. We agree with the findings of the Court Administrator, but we find the recommended penalty too light, grossly disproportionate to Vasquezs unruly behavior. This court has often emphasized that the conduct and behavior of every person connected with the dispensation of justice, from the highest official to the lowliest employee, should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. This is so because the image of a court of justice is necessarily mirrored in the conduct, official, or otherwise, of the men and women who work thereat. Thus, court employees have been enjoined to adhere to the exacting standards of morality and decency in order to preserve the judiciarys good name and standing as a true temple of justice. Respondent indeed fell short of this exacting standard. He had shown lack of decorum, propriety, and respect in his dealings with other people. His actuations also debased the publics regard for the very institution for which he works, warranting administrative sanction. Any conduct that would be a bane to the public trust and confidence reposed in the Judiciary cannot be countenanced. G.R. No. 163683 June 8, 2007 ELENITA S. BINAY, in her capacity as Mayor of the City of Makati, MARIO RODRIGUEZ and PRISCILLA FERROLINO, petitioners, vs. EMERITA ODEA, respondent Public Officers; Absence without Official Leave (AWOL); Words and Phrases; Simply put, an Absence Without Official Leave (AWOL) means that the employee has left or abandoned his post for a continuous period of 30 calendar days or more without any justifiable reason and notice to his employer. An AWOL means that the employee has left or abandoned his post for a continuous period of 30 days or more without any justifiable reason and notice to his employer. In this case, petitioners failed to show that respondent had gone, or even had the intention to go, on AWOL. As found by the CSC and the CA, other that the assailed personal attendance sheet, respondent submitted in evidence copies of Index of Payments based on duly accomplished DTRs. These reflect the official attendance of the employee in the absence of proof that the employee concerned falsified the same. Moreover respondents receipt of her salary for the contested period shows that there was nothing irregular in her office attendance. Petitioners claim that respondent incurred 400 absences for the contested period of November 1999 to May 2000 is indeed mathematically impossible as judiciously found by the CA. Lastly, petitioners allegation that the respondents immediate supervisor did not know the respondent, despite the glaring fact that she verified the assailed personal attendance sheets, is contrary to logic and does not in any way prove petitioners contention that respondent was continuously absent during the contested period. G.R. No. 175121 June 8, 2007 ADELINA TAMAYO-REYES, M.D., petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and FERNANDO R. CABITAC, respondents.

Election Law; Pre-Proclamation Controversies; A pre-proclamation controversy is limited to an examination of the election returns on their face and the COMELEC, as a general rule, need not go beyond the face of the returns and is without jurisdiction to go beyond or behind them and investigate the alleged election irregularities; A Petition for correction of manifest errors and nullification of proclamation is a pre-proclamation controversy. It should be noted that what petitioner filed was a petition for correction of manifest errors and nullification of proclamation, which is a pre-proclamation controversy. A pre-proclamation controversy refers to any question pertaining to or affecting the proceedings of the board of canvassers which may be raised by any candidate or by any registered political party or

coalition or political parties before the board or directly with the COMELEC, or any matter raised under Sections 233, 234, 235, and 236 of the Omnibus Election Code, in relation to the preparation, transmission, receipt, custody, and appreciation of the election returns. It is limited to an examination of the election returns on their face and the COMELEC, as a general rule, need not go beyond the face of the returns and is without jurisdiction to go beyond or behind them and investigate the alleged election irregularities. Same; Same; Words and Phrases; For errors to be manifest they must appear on the face of the certificates of canvass or election returns sought to be corrected, and objections thereto must have been made before the Board of Canvassers and specifically noted in the minutes of their respective proceedings; Manifest has been defined as evident to the eye and understanding; visible to the eye; that which is open, palpable, and incontrovertible; needing no evidence to make it more clear; not obscure or hidden . The correction of manifest errors has reference to errors in the election returns, in the entries in the Statement of Votes (SOV) by precinct per municipality or in the certificate of canvass. For errors to be manifest, they must appear on the face of the certificates of canvass or election returns sought to be corrected, and objections thereto must have been made before the Board of Canvassers and specifically noted in the minutes of their respective proceedings. This Court defined "manifest" as evident to the eye and understanding; visible to the eye; that which is open, palpable, and incontrovertible; needing no evidence to make it more clear; not obscure or hidden. Same; Same; According to Section 5, Rule 27 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure, there are only two (2) instances where a pre-proclamation controversy may be filed directly with the COMELEC, namely, (1) illegal composition or proceedings of the board of canvassers; and (2) correction of manifest errors. It should be remembered that petitioner filed her petition for correction of manifest errors and nullification of proclamation directly with the COMELEC. According to Section 5, Rule 27 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure, there are only two (2) instances where a pre-proclamation controversy may be filed directly with the COMELEC, namely, (1) illegal composition or proceedings of the board of canvassers; and (2) correction of manifest errors. Thus, it was proper for the COMELEC to take cognizance of the petition, and in their respective resolutions, both the COMELEC First Division and En Banc were correct in not considering the five alleged irregularities since they were beyond the ambit of "manifest errors." Accordingly, the COMELEC did not commit grave abuse of discretion. Same; Same; The claim that the election returns and the statement of votes had been tampered with would be appropriate in a pre-proclamation contest proper, not in a petition for mere correction of manifest errors. Also noteworthy is that relative to the five other irregularities raised in her petition before the COMELEC which were deemed improper for correction of manifest errors, petitioner claimed that the election returns and the statements of votes had been tampered with and falsified. This claim would be appropriate in a preproclamation contest proper, not in a petition for mere correction of manifest errors. And as previously mentioned, petitioner failed to record her objection to these alleged irregularities in the minutes of the MBOC. Section 2, Rule 27 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides that matters raised under Sections 233 (when the election returns are delayed, lost, or destroyed), 234 (when there are omissions on the election returns), 235 (when the election returns appear to be tampered with or falsified), and 236 (when there are discrepancies in the election returns) of the Omnibus Election Code shall be brought in the first instance before the Board of Canvassers only. This provision is mandatory. Thus, petitioners failure to raise these matters before the MBOC of Taytay, Rizal barred her from questioning the same before the COMELEC. Same; Same; A petition for correction of manifest errors may be filed even beyond the reglementary period of five (5 days following the date of proclamation pursuant to Section 5(b), Rule 27 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure, and the COMELEC has the power to annul the proclamation made on the basis of an erroneous tabulation of votes in the election

returns or in the statement of votes. While this Court does not contest the rulings cited by petitioner in Tatlonghari v. COMELEC, Bince, Jr. v. COMELEC, and Ramirez v. COMELEC that a petition for correction of manifest errors may be filed even beyond the reglementary period of five (5) days following the date of proclamation pursuant to Section 5(b), Rule 27 of the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure, and that the COMELEC has the power to annul the proclamation made on the basis of an erroneous tabulation of votes in the election returns or in the statement of votes, we agree with the COMELEC First Division and En Banc that the case of petitioner does not fall within the scope of the above-mentioned rulings. Indeed, even if the truly manifest errors were corrected using the data presented by petitioner herself, the proclamation of private respondent as the winning Vice-Mayoral candidate of Taytay, Rizal will still stand. G.R. No. 174499 June 29, 2007 DOMICIANO R. LAURENA, JR., petitioner, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and NESTOR L. ALVAREZ, respondents.

Election Law; Commission on Elections; The only question that may be raised in a petition for certiorari from a judgment or final order of the COMELEC is whether or not the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Section 2, Rule 64 of the Revised Rules of Court, states that from a judgment or final order or resolution of the COMELEC, the aggrieved party may file a petition for certiorari with this Court under Rule 65. Thus, the only question that may be raised is whether or not the COMELEC acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Grave abuse of discretion means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough. It must be grave, as when it is exercised arbitrarily or despotically by reason of passion or personal hostility. Such abuse must be so patent and so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law. The review by the Court of the assailed Resolutions of the Second Division and the COMELEC En Banc failed to establish any grave abuse of discretion. Same; Same; Ballots; The appreciation of the contested ballots and election documents involves a question of fact best left to the determination of the COMELEC, a specialized agency tasked with the supervision of elections all over the country. The appreciation of the contested ballots and election documents involves a question of fact best left to the determination of the COMELEC, a specialized agency tasked with the supervision of elections all over the country. The COMELEC is, after all, the constitutional commission vested with the exclusive original jurisdiction over election contests involving regional, provincial and city officials; as well as appellate jurisdiction over election protests involving elective municipal and barangay officials. In the absence of grave abuse of discretion or any jurisdictional infirmity or error of law, the factual findings, conclusions, rulings, and decisions rendered by the said Commission on matters falling within its competence shall not be interfered with by this Court. Same; Same; Same; Well-settled is the rule that the will of the voters is embodied in the ballots, and to ascertain and carry out such will, the ballots must be read and appreciated according to the rule that every ballot is presumed valid unless there is clear and good reason to justify its rejection. Well-settled is the rule that the will of the voters is embodied in the ballots, and to ascertain and carry out such will, the ballots must be read and appreciated according to the rule that every ballot is presumed valid unless there is clear and good reason to justify its rejection. On this matter, the findings of the COMELEC are accorded great respect, if not finality, by the Court. Votes cannot be nullified on the mere sweeping allegation of the petitioner that fraud and irregularity attended the election. Ample and credible evidence is necessary to back up such

claim. This is especially true if the petitioner failed to make timely objections during the canvass of the votes, as in the present case. A.M. No. RTJ-07-2047 July 3, 2007 RUSSEL ESTEVA CORONADO, complainant, vs. JUDGE EDDIE R. ROJAS, Regional Trial Court, Branch 37, General Santos City, respondent.

Courts; Judges; Actions; Parties; Motions to Dismiss; If the suit is not brought in the name of or against the real party-in-interest, a motion to dismiss may be filed on the ground that the complaint states no cause of action. The complainants not having been joined as partydefendants, it was error on the part of Judge Rojas to have denied the motion to dismiss. Indeed, complainants were indispensable parties with such interest in the controversy that a final decree would necessarily affect their rights so that the court could not proceed without their presence and all its subsequent actuations were rendered null and void. Judge Rojas had forgotten the rule that if the suit is not brought in the name of or against the real partyin-interest, a motion to dismiss may be filed on the ground that the complaint states no cause of action. Same; Same; Same; Same; Due Process; Denial of due process suffices to cast on the official act taken by whatever branch of the government the impress of nullity. Judge Rojas encroached upon complainants' right to due process of law, as enshrined in the Constitution, as they were not given an opportunity to be heard. Denial of due process suffices to cast on the official act taken by whatever branch of the government the impress of nullity. Administrative Law; Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB); The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) is a quasi-judicial agency, co-equal with the Regional Trial Court. Judge Rojas disregarded the fact that the HLURB is a quasi-judicial agency, coequal with the RTC. The Order dated May 12, 2003 of Vice-Executive Judge Lubao advising E.B. Villarosa to seek injunctive relief from the appellate courts should have placed Judge Rojas on notice. Under Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 957, as amended by P.D. No. 1344, the HLURB (then National Housing Authority) has exclusive original jurisdiction on the following: (a) unsound real estate business practices; (b) claims involving refund and any other claims filed by a subdivision lot or condominium unit buyer against the project owner, developer, dealer, broker, or salesman; and (c) cases involving specific performance of contractual and statutory obligations filed by buyers of subdivision lots or condominium units against the owner, developer, dealer, broker, or salesman. The decision of the HLURB is appealable within 15 days to the Office of the President (OP), and, if after 30 days the appealed decision is not reversed or amended by the OP, then it is deemed affirmed. Thereafter, the case may be elevated via a petition for review to the Court of Appeals, and then to this Court Same; Same; An RTC judge acts beyond his judicial authority when he enjoins the final and executory decision of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). Judge Rojas acted beyond his judicial authority when he proceeded to enjoin the final and executory decision of the HLURB. His proffered excuse that the TRO and the writ of injunction he issued were not directed against the HLURB's writ of execution but only against the manner of its execution, is too shallow and facetious. He cannot feign ignorance that the effect of the injunctive writ was to freeze the enforcement of the writ of execution, thus frustrating the lawful order of the HLURB, a co-equal body. Same; Same; Gross Ignorance of the Law; If the law, rule, or principle is so elementary, not to know it or to act as if one does not know it already constitutes gross ignorance of the law, without the complainant having to prove malice or bad faith on the part of the erring judge, as the same can clearly be inferred from the error committed . For a judge to be found guilty of gross ignorance of the law, the assailed order, decision, or actuation of the judge in the performance of official duties must not only be found erroneous but actuated by bad

faith, dishonesty, hatred, or some other like motive. However, if the law, rule, or principle is so elementary, not to know it or to act as if one does not know it already constitutes gross ignorance of the law, without the complainant having to prove malice or bad faith on the part of the erring judge, as the same can clearly be inferred from the error committed. G.R. No. 168484 July 12, 2007 LEAH M. NAZARENO, petitioners, vs. CITY OF DUMAGUETE, represented by Hon. Mayor AGUSTIN R. PERDICES, respondents.

Appeals; Parties; Locus Standi; It is necessary that the appeal be instituted by the party who is given such authority. The right to appeal is not a natural right or a part of due process, but a mere statutory privilege that may be exercised only in the manner prescribed by law. It is necessary that the same be instituted by the party who is given such authority. At this point, the concepts of legal standing and real party-in-interest become relevant. Same; Same; Same; Appointments; Words and Phrases; Real Party-In-Interest and Legal Standing, Differentiated; Standing is a special concern in constitutional law because in some cases, suits are brought not by parties who have been personally injured by the operation of a law or by official action taken, but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or voters who actually sue in the public interest; On the other hand, the question as to real party-ininterest is whether he is party who would be benefited or injured by the judgment, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit; If legal standing is granted to challenge the constitutionality or validity of a law or governmental act despite the lack of personal injury on the challengers part, then more so should employees be allowed to contest the nullification of their appointment. The difference between real party-in-interest and legal standing has been thoroughly explained by this Court in the cases of Abella, Jr. v. Civil Service Commission, 442 SCRA 507 (2004), and Francisco, Jr. vs. The House of Representatives, 415 SCRA 44 (2003), in this wise: Standing is a special concern in constitutional law because in some cases suits are brought not by parties who have been personally injured by the operation of a law or by official action taken, but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or voters who actually sue in the public interest. Hence, the question in standing is whether such parties have alleged such personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions. x x x x On the other hand, the question as to real party-in-interest is whether he is party who should be benefited or injured by the judgment, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. If legal standing is granted to challenge the constitutionality or validity of a law or governmental act despite the lack of personal injury on the challengers part, then more so should petitioners be allowed to contest the nullification of their appointment. Thus, petitioners have the legal standing to challenge the act of the CSC. Same; Same; Same; Both the appointing authority and the appointee may question the disapproval of an appointment. Real party-in-interest, on the other hand, is a concept in civil procedure and is expressly define in the Rules of Court as the one who would be benefited or injured by the judgment, or one entitled to the avails of the suit. Interest within the meaning of the rule means material interest or an interest in issue and to be affected by the decree, as distinguished from mere interest in the question involved or a mere incidental interest. Otherwise stated, the rule refers to a real or present substantial interest as distinguished from a mere expectancy; or from a future, contingent, subordinate, or consequential interest. The question on who the real party-in-interest is to challenge the invalidation of ones appointment has been settled in the case of Abella, where the Court held that both the appointing authority and the appointee may question the disapproval of an appointment.

Same; Same; Same; The power to appoint is vested in the office of the chief executive and not in the person occupying the position- the appointing authority who has the right to assail the invalidation of the appointment is the mayor occupying the position at the time of the institution of the appeal and not the former mayor who made the assailed appointment. Petitioners in the instant case, would like this Court to settle who the appointing authority is is it the former mayor, who made the questioned appointments, or the incumbent mayor, who at the time of the invalidation of the appointment was the one holding the position? The appointing power of the mayor or the local chief executive is set forth in Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code. The power to appoint is vested in the office of the chief executive and not in the person occupying the position. The local chief executive exercises such power in his official capacity. Applying it in the present case, the appointing authority who had the right to assail the invalidation of the appointment is the mayor occupying the position at the time of the institution of the appeal and not the former mayor who made the assailed appointment. Same; Same; Same; Although the appointing authority is the real party-in-interest to institute an appeal or motion to reconsider the invalidation of an appointment, there is nothing to preclude the appointee from taking the same course of action. Although the earlier discussion demonstrates that the appointing authority is the real party-in-interest to institute an appeal or motion to reconsider the invalidation of an appointment, there is nothing to preclude the appointee from taking the same course of action. Aggrieved parties, including the Civil Service Commission, should be given the right to file motions for reconsideration or to appeal. The appointee is also injured by the CSC disapproval, because he is prevented from assuming office in a permanent capacity. Moreover, he would necessarily benefit if a favorable judgment is obtained, as an approved appointment would confer on him all the rights and privileges of a permanent appointee. Administrative Law; Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies; Where the petitioners had ample administrative remedies under the law to protect their rights, it was premature for them to commence an action for injunction before the regular courts. The Court notes that the petition for injunction filed by petitioners before the RTC was premature. Petitioners initiated the instant case prior to the invalidation of their appointment by the CSC. Records show that it was the act of then incumbent Mayor Perdices when he announced that he would not recognize the questioned appointments, that prompted the petitioners to file the petition below. At that time, there was yet no action taken by the CSC. It was only after the filing of the petition that Director Abucejo invalidated the appointments. After the invalidation, still, petitioners could appeal, and in fact so appealed, to the CSC Regional Office and to the CSC Proper. Clearly then petitioners had ample administrative remedies under the law to protect their rights. Perforce, it was premature for them to commence an action for injunction before the regular courts. G.R. No. 159796 July 17, 2007 ROMEO P. GEROCHI, KATULONG NG BAYAN (KB) and ENVIRONMENTALIST CONSUMERS NETWORK, INC. (ECN), petitioners, vs. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE), ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION (ERC), NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION (NPC), POWER SECTOR ASSETS AND LIABILITIES MANAGEMENT GROUP (PSALM Corp.), STRATEGIC POWER UTILITIES GROUP (SPUG), and PANAY ELECTRIC COMPANY INC. (PECO), respondents.

Courts; Judicial Review; hierarchy of Courts; Petitioners violated the hierarchy of courts when they filed this Complaint directly with the Supreme Court The Courts jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus, while concurrent with that of the regional trial courts and the Court of Appeals, does not give litigants unrestrained freedom of choice of forum from which to seek such relief.

Petitioners filed before us an original action particularly denominated as a Complaint assailing the constitutionality of Sec. 34 of the EPIRA imposing the Universal Charge and Rule 18 of the EPIRA's IRR. No doubt, petitioners have locus standi. They impugn the constitutionality of Sec. 34 of the EPIRA because they sustained a direct injury as a result of the imposition of the Universal Charge as reflected in their electric bills. However, petitioners violated the doctrine of hierarchy of courts when they filed this "Complaint" directly with us. Furthermore, the Complaint is bereft of any allegation of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the ERC or any of the public respondents, in order for the Court to consider it as a petition for certiorari or prohibition. But this Court's jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus, while concurrent with that of the regional trial courts and the Court of Appeals, does not give litigants unrestrained freedom of choice of forum from which to seek such relief. It has long been established that this Court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts, or where exceptional and compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and call for the exercise of our primary jurisdiction. This circumstance alone warrants the outright dismissal of the present action. Police Power; Taxation; Police power is the power of the state to promote public welfare by restraining and regulating the use of liberty and property it is the most persuasive, the least limitable, and the most demanding of the three fundamental powers of the State and the justification is found in the Latin maxims salus populi est suprema lex (the welfare of the people is the supreme law) and sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas (so use your property so as not to injure the property of others); The theory behind the exercise of the power to tax emanates from necessity, without taxes, government cannot fulfill its mandate of promoting the general welfare and well-being of the people; that the power to regulate means the power to protect, foster, promote, preserve, and control, with due regard for the interests, first and foremost, of the public, then of the utility and its patrons. The power to tax is an incident of sovereignty and is unlimited in its range, acknowledging in its very nature no limits, so that security against its abuse is to be found only in the responsibility of the legislature which imposes the tax on the constituency that is to pay it. It is based on the principle that taxes are the lifeblood of the government, and their prompt and certain availability is an imperious need. Thus, the theory behind the exercise of the power to tax emanates from necessity; without taxes, government cannot fulfill its mandate of promoting the general welfare and well-being of the people. On the other hand, police power is the power of the state to promote public welfare by restraining and regulating the use of liberty and property. It is the most pervasive, the least limitable, and the most demanding of the three fundamental powers of the State. The justification is found in the Latin maxims salus populi est suprema lex (the welfare of the people is the supreme law) and sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas (so use your property as not to injure the property of others). As an inherent attribute of sovereignty which virtually extends to all public needs, police power grants a wide panoply of instruments through which the State, as parens patriae, gives effect to a host of its regulatory powers. We have held that the power to "regulate" means the power to protect, foster, promote, preserve, and control, with due regard for the interests, first and foremost, of the public, then of the utility and of its patrons. Same; Same; Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA); if generation of revenue is the primary purpose and regulation is merely incidental, the imposition is a tax; but if regulation is the primary purpose, the fact that revenue is incidentally raised does not make the imposition a tax; In exacting the assailed Universal Charge through Sec. 34 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), the States police power, particularly its regulatory dimension, is invoked. The conservative and pivotal distinction between these two powers rests in the purpose for which the charge is made. If generation of revenue is the primary purpose and regulation is merely incidental, the imposition is a tax; but if regulation is the primary purpose, the fact that revenue is incidentally raised does not make the imposition a tax. In exacting the assailed Universal Charge through Sec. 34 of the

EPIRA, the State's police power, particularly its regulatory dimension, is invoked. Such can be deduced from Sec. 34 which enumerates the purposes for which the Universal Charge is imposed and which can be amply discerned as regulatory in character. Same; Same; Same; It is a well-established doctrine that the taxing power may be used as an implement of police power. It is a well-established doctrine that the taxing power may be used as an implement of police power. In Valmonte v. Energy Regulatory Board, et al. and in Gaston v. Republic Planters Bank, this Court held that the Oil Price Stabilization Fund (OPSF) and the Sugar Stabilization Fund (SSF) were exactions made in the exercise of the police power. The doctrine was reiterated in Osmena v. Orbos with respect to the OPSF. Thus, we disagree with petitioners that the instant case is different from the aforementioned cases. With the Universal Charge, a Special Trust Fund (STF) is also created under the administration of PSALM. Delegation of Powers; Separation of Powers; A logical corollary to the doctrine of separation of powers is the principle of non-delegation of powers, as expressed in the Latin maxim potestas delegata non delegari potest (what has been delegated cannot be delegated.) The principle of separation of powers ordains that each of the three branches of government has exclusive cognizance of and is supreme in matters falling within its own constitutionally allocated sphere. A logical corollary to the doctrine of separation of powers is the principle of non-delegation of powers, as expressed in the Latin maxim potestas delegata non delegari potest (what has been delegated cannot be delegated). This is based on the ethical principle that such delegated power constitutes not only a right but a duty to be performed by the delegate through the instrumentality of his own judgment and not through the intervening mind of another. Same; Subordinate Legislation; Completeness Test and Sufficiency Standard Test; Given the volume and variety of interactions in todays society, it is doubtful if the legislature can promulgate laws that will deal adequately with and respond promptly to the minutiae of everyday life, hence, the need to delegate to administrative bodies the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement a given statute and effectuate its policies; All that is required for the valid exercise of this power of subordinate legislation is that the regulation be germane to the objects and purposes of the law and that the regulation be not in contradiction to, but in conformity with, the standards required by the law, which requirements are denominated as the completeness test and the sufficient standard test. In the face of the increasing complexity of modern life, delegation of legislative power to various specialized administrative agencies is allowed as an exception to this principle. Given the volume and variety of interactions in today's society, it is doubtful if the legislature can promulgate laws that will deal adequately with and respond promptly to the minutiae of everyday life. Hence, the need to delegate to administrative bodies - the principal agencies tasked to execute laws in their specialized fields the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement a given statute and effectuate its policies. All that is required for the valid exercise of this power of subordinate legislation is that the regulation be germane to the objects and purposes of the law and that the regulation be not in contradiction to, but in conformity with, the standards prescribed by the law. These requirements are denominated as the completeness test and the sufficient standard test. Under the first test, the law must be complete in all its terms and conditions when it leaves the legislature such that when it reaches the delegate, the only thing he will have to do is to enforce it. The second test mandates adequate guidelines or limitations in the law to determine the boundaries of the delegate's authority and prevent the delegation from running riot. The Court finds that the EPIRA, read and appreciated in its entirety, in relation to Sec. 34 thereof, is complete in all its essential terms and conditions, and that it contains sufficient standards. Same; Same; Same; Provisions of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) such as, among others, to ensure the total electrification of the country and the quality, reliability, security, and affordability of the supply of electric power and watershed

rehabilitation and management meet the requirements for valid delegation, as they provide the limitations on the Energy Regulatory Commissions (ERCs) power to formulate the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). As to the second test, this Court had, in the past, accepted as sufficient standards the following: "interest of law and order;" "adequate and efficient instruction;" "public interest;" "justice and equity;" "public convenience and welfare;" "simplicity, economy and efficiency;" "standardization and regulation of medical education;" and "fair and equitable employment practices." Provisions of the EPIRA such as, among others, "to ensure the total electrification of the country and the quality, reliability, security and affordability of the supply of electric power" and "watershed rehabilitation and management" meet the requirements for valid delegation, as they provide the limitations on the ERC's power to formulate the IRR. These are sufficient standards. Police Power; Over the years, however, the range of police power was no longer limited to the preservation of public health, safety, and morals, which used to be the primary social interests in earlier times. Police power now requires the State to assume an affirmative duty to eliminate the excesses and injustices that are the concomitants of an unrestrained industrial economy, and police power is now exerted to further the public welfare a concept as vast as the good of society itself. In his Concurring and Dissenting Opinion in the same case, then Associate Justice, now Chief Justice, Reynato S. Puno described the immensity of police power in relation to the delegation of powers to the ERC and its regulatory functions over electric power as a vital public utility, to wit: Over the years, however, the range of police power was no longer limited to the preservation of public health, safety and morals, which used to be the primary social interests in earlier times. Police power now requires the State to "assume an affirmative duty to eliminate the excesses and injustices that are the concomitants of an unrestrained industrial economy." Police power is now exerted "to further the public welfare" a concept as vast as the good of society itself." Hence, "police power is but another name for the governmental authority to further the welfare of society that is the basic end of all government." When police power is delegated to administrative bodies with regulatory functions, its exercise should be given a wide latitude. Police power takes on an even broader dimension in developing countries such as ours, where the State must take a more active role in balancing the many conflicting interests in society. The Questioned Order was issued by the ERC, acting as an agent of the State in the exercise of police power. We should have exceptionally good grounds to curtail its exercise. This approach is more compelling in the field of rate-regulation of electric power rates. Electric power generation and distribution is a traditional instrument of economic growth that affects not only a few but the entire nation. It is an important factor in encouraging investment and promoting business. The engines of progress may come to a screeching halt if the delivery of electric power is impaired. Billions of pesos would be lost as a result of power outages or unreliable electric power services . The State thru the ERC should be able to exercise its police power with great flexibility, when the need arises. Taxation; Judicial Review; The determination of whether or not a tax is excessive, oppressive, or confiscatory is an issue which essentially involves questions of fact, and thus, this Court is precluded from reviewing the same. Petitioners failed to pursue in their Memorandum the contention in the Complaint that the imposition of the Universal Charge on all end-users is oppressive and confiscatory, and amounts to taxation without representation. Hence, such contention is deemed waived or abandoned per Resolution of August 3, 2004. Moreover, the determination of whether or not a tax is excessive, oppressive or confiscatory is an issue which essentially involves questions of fact, and thus, this Court is precluded from reviewing the same. Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA); One of the landmark pieces of legislation enacted by Congress in recent years is the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) which established a new policy, legal structure and regulatory framework for the electric power industry the new thrust is to tap private capital for the expansion and improvement of the industry as the large government debt and the highly capital-intensive

character of the industry itself have long been acknowledged as the critical constraints to the program. As a penultimate statement, it may be well to recall what this Court said of EPIRA: One of the landmark pieces of legislation enacted by Congress in recent years is the EPIRA. It established a new policy, legal structure and regulatory framework for the electric power industry. The new thrust is to tap private capital for the expansion and improvement of the industry as the large government debt and the highly capital-intensive character of the industry itself have long been acknowledged as the critical constraints to the program. To attract private investment, largely foreign, the jaded structure of the industry had to be addressed. While the generation and transmission sectors were centralized and monopolistic, the distribution side was fragmented with over 130 utilities, mostly small and uneconomic. The pervasive flaws have caused a low utilization of existing generation capacity; extremely high and uncompetitive power rates; poor quality of service to consumers; dismal to forgettable performance of the government power sector; high system losses; and an inability to develop a clear strategy for overcoming these shortcomings. Thus, the EPIRA provides a framework for the restructuring of the industry, including the privatization of the assets of the National Power Corporation (NPC), the transition to a competitive structure, and the delineation of the roles of various government agencies and the private entities. The law ordains the division of the industry into four (4) distinct sectors, namely: generation, transmission, distribution and supply. Corollarily, the NPC generating plants have to privatized and its transmission business spun off and privatized thereafter. A.M. No. 2007-11-SC August 10, 2007 RE: WILLFUL FAILURE TO PAY JUST DEBTS AGAINST MR. MELQUIADES A. BRIONES.

Administrative Law; Courts; Respondents willful failure to pay a just debt is unbecoming a public official and is a ground for disciplinary action. The loan balance of P65,000.00 constitutes a just debt and its existence was acknowledged by both Federis and Briones. From the attendant circumstances, particularly those that transpired after the filing of the complaint, it is apparent that Briones had no intention to pay his debt, at least not within the time frame he himself fixed. His willful failure to pay a just debt is unbecoming a public official and is a ground for disciplinary action. Same; Same; Briones act of reneging on his promises to settle his debt affects not only his honor as an individual but more importantly, his integrity as a public servant and the reputation of the Court where he is employed. We affirm the OAS finding that Briones is also administratively liable for Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service. Briones act of reneging on his promises to settle his debt affects not only his honor as an individual but more importantly, his integrity as a public servant and the reputation of this Court where he is employed. While it is not wrong for an individual to incur indebtedness unrestrained by the fact that he is a public officer or employee, caution should be taken to prevent the occurrence of dubious circumstances that might inevitably impair the image of the public office. Any act of impropriety on his part immeasurably affects the honor and dignity of the Judiciary and the peoples confidence in it. Briones failed to conform to this standard. His actuations towards Federis, although done in connection with a private transaction, have tainted the honor of the judicial service. For this, he should be held accountable.

A.M. No. P-07-2349 August 10, 2007 JOSEPH ANTHONY M. ALEJANDRO, complainant, vs. MS. MARILOU C. MARTIN, Legal Researcher, OIC-Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Branch 268, Pasig City, respondent.

Administrative Law; Courts; Clerk of Courts; It is settled that in administrative proceedings, the complainant has the burden of substantiating the charges made in the complaint. Charges based on mere suspicion and speculation cannot be given credence. With respect to the charge of unexplained wealth, it must be stressed that in administrative proceedings, the quantum of proof required to establish a respondent's malfeasance is not proof beyond reasonable doubt but substantial evidence, i.e., that amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. The complainant has the burden of proving the allegations in his complaint with substantial evidence. Indeed, if the respondent, as OIC-Clerk of Court, should be disciplined for the grave offense of unexplained wealth, the evidence against her should be competent and derived from direct knowledge. Charges based on mere suspicion and speculation cannot be given credence. Hence, when the complainant relies on mere conjectures and suppositions, and fails to substantiate his claim, as in this case, the charge must fail. Same; Same; Same; The Court shall not countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice which would violate the norm of public accountability and diminish the faith of the people in the Judiciary. We have emphasized, time and again, the heavy burden and responsibility placed on court officials and employees, in view of their exalted positions as keepers of the public faith. Any impression of impropriety, misdeed or negligence in the performance of official functions must be avoided. Same; Same; Same; Among the duties of the Branch Clerk of Court is the prompt and orderly transmittal of appealed cases and the records to the appellate court. The clerk of court is a vital component of the Judiciary. As an officer of the court, she performs delicate administrative functions essential to the speedy and proper administration of justice. The Branch Clerk of Court is responsible for seeing to it that the records of appealed cases are properly sent to the appropriate appellate court without delay, in order to ensure the timely disposition of cases. Otherwise, the speedy administration of justice would be hampered.

A.M. No. RTJ-07-2059 August 10, 2007 AUGUSTO C. CAESAR, complainant, vs. JUDGE ROMEO M. GOMEZ, Regional Trial Court, Branch 25, Maasin City, Southern Leyte, respondent.

Administrative Law; Judges; Misconduct; For a judge to be rendered culpable in any administrative proceeding, there should be a clear and sufficient evidence of his misconduct. Caesar charges the respondent judge with grave misconduct, claiming that the latter received P200,000.00 as consideration for the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 0402-2578. But as explained by the OCA, the charge lacks substantiation. Undeniably, the alleged pay-off was only a rumor that circulated in the halls of justice of Maasin City. In this case, Caesar failed to substantiate his allegation of bribery. Accordingly, we find no cause to controvert the findings of the OCA absolving the respondent judge from the charge of grave misconduct. Same; Same; Gross ignorance of the law; The rule is that when the law is so elementary, not to know it or to act as if one does not know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. In this case, the prosecution had yet to present its evidence at the time the Motion to Dismiss was filed. A demurrer to evidence is, therefore, inappropriate in Criminal Case No. 04-022578. By giving due course to and granting Ordizs Motion to Dismiss, respondent judge exhibited gross ignorance of the law. It may very well be that respondent judge knew the procedural rule in question. What renders him liable is that he acted as if he did not. The

Court recognizes that not every judicial error bespeaks ignorance of the law and, if committed in good faith, does not warrant administrative sanction. But this is true only in cases within the parameters of tolerable misjudgment. Where, however, the procedure is so simple and the facts so evident as to be beyond permissible margins of error, to still err thereon amounts to ignorance of the law. In this case, respondent judge displayed a deplorable deficiency in his grasp of the basic principles governing demurrer to evidence or dismissal of criminal action for insufficiency of evidence. Also, he showed his utter lack of knowledge and understanding of the effect of novation and partial restitution of the amount defrauded in estafa cases. As mentioned, when the law is so elementary, not to know it or to act as if one does not know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. Same; Same; Same; In order to render substantial justice and to maintain public confidence in the legal system, judges are expected to keep abreast of all laws and prevailing jurisprudence, consistent with the standard that magistrates must be the embodiments of competence, integrity and independence . Respondent judge owes it to the public and the legal profession to know the law he is supposed to apply to a given controversy. Thus, it has been held that when the judge's inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law or a principle in the discharge of his duties, a judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of the position and title he holds, or he is too vicious that the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority.

G.R. No. 169008 August 14, 2007 LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. RAYMUNDA MARTINEZ, respondent.

Administrative Law; The Administrative Code of 1987 mandates the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) not the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) Legal Department to act as the principal law office of the LBP. In Land Bank of the Philippines v. Teresita Panlilio-Luciano, GR No. 165428, July 13, 2005 (Resolution), the Court explained in one of its resolutions that nothing in the LBP charter expressly authorizes the LBP Legal Department to appear in behalf of LBP in any court or quasi judicial proceeding and that the Administrative Code of 1987 mandates the OGCC, not the LBP Legal Department, to act as the principal law office of the LBP. Forum Shopping; Court finds no reversible error in the Court of Appeals ruling that Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) forum shopped. Even if we allow the LBPs filing of the instant petition without any authority from the OGCC, we must still deny the same for we find no reversible error in the CAs ruling that LBP forum shopped. In Repol v. Commission on Elections, 428 SCRA 321 (2004), we found forum shopping in the filing of a petition for certiorari during the pendency of an omnibus motion to reconsider, set aside and quash a writ of execution with the trial court. Likewise, in Go v. Judge Abrogar, 389 SCRA 166 (2003), we deemed as a violation of the rules against forum shopping the institution of a separate action for annulment of auction sale with injunction, simultaneous with a third party adverse claim and motion to quash writ of execution, and a petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition. Further, in La Campana Development Corporation v. See, 492 SCRA 584 (2006), we explained that the simultaneous filing of a motion to quash writ of execution and an action for the annulment of a judgment run afoul of the prohibition on forum shopping.

A.M. No. RTJ-07-2054 August 23, 2007 ATTY. ODEL S. JANDA and ATTY. JERRY O. REMONTE complainants, vs. JUDGE EDDIE R. ROJAS, Regional Trial Court, Branch 39, Polomolok, South Cotabato; ATTY. QUEENIE MARIE L. FULGAR, Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Branch 37, General Santos City; and SHERIFFS MARILYN P. ALANO and RAMON A. CASTILLO, Regional Trial Court, Branch 22, General Santos City and Regional Trial Court, Office of the Clerk of Court, General Santos City, respectively, respondents.

Administrative Law; Judges; Ignorance of the Law; Judge Rojas' unilateral conversion of the plaintiff's motion into a regular motion for execution, taking into consideration the unequal treatment in the application of the requirements of the Rules of Court, warrants administrative sanction. Anent Judge Rojas, we agree with the OCA that while the correctness of the August 30, 2006 Order resolving the Omnibus Motion of Planters Bank and the Motion for Execution Pending Appeal of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 6474 should be threshed out using judicial remedies, Judge Rojas' unilateral conversion of the latter motion into a regular motion for execution, taking into consideration the unequal treatment in the application of the requirements of the Rules of Court, warrants administrative sanction. Same; Same; Judgments; The execution of a judgment or final order that has attained finality and another pending appeal require different motions from prevailing party. A plain reading of the afore-cited provisions of the Rules of Court readily reveals that the execution of a judgment or final order that has attained finality and another pending appeal require different motions from the prevailing party. Put differently, a judgment or final order that has become final and executory mandatorily requires a specific motion to execute the same. Thus, Judge Rojas erred when, finding the Motion for Execution Pending Appeal mooted by his pronouncement that the June 15, 2006 Decision had attained finality, effectively granted it as a motion for execution which the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 6474 should have filed separately, and only after they received notice of the denial by Judge Rojas pertains to basic procedural rules that he, as a member of the Bench, is expected to be conversant with. Same; Same; Same; If the law is so elementary, not to know it or to act as if he does not know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law without even the complainant having to prove malice or bad faith on the part of the judge. When the inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law or principle in the discharge of his duties, a judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of the position and title he holds or he is too vicious that the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority. If the law is so elementary, not to know it is to act as if he does not know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law, without even the complainant having to prove malice or bad faith on the part of the judge as it can be clearly inferred from the error committed. G.R. No. 139296 November 23, 2007 PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT (PCGG), THE PRESIDENTIAL AD-HOC FACT-FINDING COMMITTEE ON BEHEST LOANS, represented by ORLANDO L. SALVADOR, petitioners, vs. HON. ANIANO DESIERTO, TOMAS B. AGUIRRE (Deceased), PACIFICO MARCOS (Deceased), RECIO M. GARCIA (Deceased), LEONIDES VIRATA (Deceased), OFELIA CASTELL, PLACIDO MAPA, JR., VICECHAIRMAN J.V. DE OCAMPO (Deceased), JOSE TENGCO, JR., and RAFAEL SISON c/o DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, MAKATI CITY, respondents.

Law on Public Officers; Office of the Ombudsman; The Ombudsman has the discretion to determine whether a criminal case, given its attendant facts and circumstances, should be filed or not-it is basically his call-he may dismiss the complaint forthwith should he find it to be insufficient in form or substance, or he may proceed with the investigation if, in his view, the complaint is in due and proper form and substance. Case law has it that the determination of probable cause against those in public office during a preliminary investigation is a function that belongs to the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman has the discretion to determine whether a criminal case, given its attendant facts and circumstances, should be filed or not. It is basically his call. He may dismiss the complaint forthwith should he find it to be insufficient in form and substance, or he may proceed with the investigation, if, in his view, the complaint is in due and proper form and substance. We have consistently refrained from interfering with the constitutionally mandated investigatory and prosecutorial powers of the Ombudsman. Thus, if the Ombudsman, using professional judgment, finds the case dismissible, the Court shall respect such findings, unless the exercise of such discretionary powers is tainted by grave abuse of discretion.

G.R. No. 135080 November 28, 2007 ORLANDO L. SALVADOR, for and in behalf of the Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans, petitioner, vs. PLACIDO L. MAPA, JR., RAFAEL A. SISON, ROLANDO M. ZOSA, CESAR C. ZALAMEA, BENJAMIN BAROT, CASIMIRO TANEDO, J.V. DE OCAMPO, ALICIA L. REYES, BIENVENIDO R. TANTOCO, JR., BIENVENIDO R. TANTOCO, SR., FRANCIS B. BANES, ERNESTO M. CARINGAL, ROMEO V. JACINTO, and MANUEL D. TANGLAO, respondents.

Ombudsman; Appeals; Certiorari; Pleadings and Practice; The remedy from the adverse resolution of the Ombudsman is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, not a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45. Indeed, what was filed before this Court is a petition captioned as Petition for Review on Certiorari. We have ruled, time and again, that a petition for review on certiorari is not the proper mode by which resolutions of the Ombudsman in preliminary investigations of criminal cases are reviewed by this Court. The remedy from the adverse resolution of the Ombudsman is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, not a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45. Same; Same; Same; Procedural Rules and Technicalities; The averments in the complaint, not the nomenclature given by the parties, determine the nature of the action. In previous rulings, we have treated differently labeled actions as special civil actions for certiorari under Rule 65 for reasons such as justice, equity, and fair play. - However, though captioned as a Petition for Review on Certiorari, we will treat this petition as one filed under Rule 65 since a reading of its contents reveals that petitioner imputes grave abuse of discretion to the Ombudsman for dismissing the complaint. The averments in the complaint, not the nomenclature given by the parties, determine the nature of the action. In previous rulings, we have treated differently labeled actions as special civil actions for certiorari under Rule 65 for reasons such as justice, equity, and fair play. Behest Loans; Prescription; Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices; The prescriptive period for the offenses punishable by R.A. No. 3019 and subject of the behest loans should be computed from the discovery of the commission thereof and not from the day of such commission. The issue of prescription has long been settled by this Court in Presidential Ad Hoc FactFinding Committee on Behest Loans v. Desierto, thus:[I]t is well-nigh impossible for the State, the aggrieved party, to have known the violations of R.A. No. 3019 at the time the questioned transactions were made because, as alleged, the public officials concerned

connived or conspired with the beneficiaries of the loans. Thus, we agree with the COMMITTEE that the prescriptive period for the offenses with which the respondents in OMB0-96-0968 were charged should be computed from the discovery of the commission thereof and not from the day of such commission. Same; Same; Statutes; Administrative Order 13; Memorandum Order No. 61; Judicial review. The constitutionality of laws is presumed. To justify nullification of a law, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a doubtful or arguable implication; a law shall not be declared invalid unless the conflict with the Constitution is clear beyond reasonable doubt. The presumption is always in favor of constitutionality. To doubt is to sustain. Even this Court does not decide a question of constitutional dimension, unless that question is properly raised and presented in an appropriate case and is necessary to a determination of the case, i.e., the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota presented. Furthermore, in Estarija v. Ranada, where the petitioner raised the issue of constitutionality of Republic Act No. 6770 in his motion for reconsideration of the Ombudsmans decision, we had occasion to state that the Ombudsman had no jurisdiction to entertain questions on the constitutionality of a law. The Ombudsman, therefore, acted in excess of its jurisdiction in declaring unconstitutional the subject administrative and memorandum orders. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Ex Post Facto laws; Words and Phrases; Ex Post Facto Laws, Explained. An ex post facto law has been defined as one (a) which makes an action done before the passing of the law and which was innocent when done criminal, and punishes such action; or (b) which aggravates a crime or makes it greater than it was when committed; or (c) which changes the punishment and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was committed; or (d) which alters the legal rules of evidence and receives less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense in order to convict the defendant.[22] This Court added two (2) more to the list, namely: (e) that which assumes to regulate civil rights and remedies only but in effect imposes a penalty or deprivation of a right which when done was lawful; or (f) that which deprives a person accused of a crime of some lawful protection to which he has become entitled, such as the protection of a former conviction or acquittal, or a proclamation of amnesty. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Penal laws are those acts of the legislature which prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violations; or those that define crimes, treat of their nature, and provide for their punishment. The Constitutional doctrine that outlaws an ex post facto law generally prohibits the retrospectivity of penal laws. Penal laws are those acts of the legislature which prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violations; or those that define crimes, treat of their nature, and provide for their punishment.[24] The subject administrative and memorandum orders clearly do not come within the shadow of this definition. Administrative Order No. 13 creates the Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans, and provides for its composition and functions. It does not mete out penalty for the act of granting behest loans. Memorandum Order No. 61 merely provides a frame of reference for determining behest loans. Not being penal laws, Administrative Order No. 13 and Memorandum Order No. 61 cannot be characterized as ex post facto laws. There is, therefore, no basis for the Ombudsman to rule that the subject administrative and memorandum orders are ex post facto. G.R. No. 167173 December 27, 2007 STANDARD CHARTERED BANK (Philippine Branch), PAUL SIMON MORRIS, SUNDARA RAMESH, OWEN BELMAN, SANJAY AGGARWAL, RAJAMANI CHANDRASHEKAR, MARIVEL GONZALES, MA. ELLEN VICTOR, CHONA G. REYES, ZENAIDA IGLESIAS, RAMONA BERNAD, MICHAELANGELO AGUILAR, and FERNAND

TANSINGCO, petitioners, vs. SENATE COMMITTEE ON BANKS, FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND CURRENCIES, as represented by its Chairperson, HON. EDGARDO J. ANGARA, respondent.

Legislature; Inquiries in Aid of Legislation; Judgments; Central to the Court's ruling in Bengzon, Jr. v. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, 203 SCRA 767 (1991) that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee was without any constitutional mooring to conduct the legislative investigation was the Court's determination that the intended inquiry was not in aid of legislation. It is true that in Bengzon, the Court declared that the issue to be investigated was one over which jurisdiction had already been acquired by the Sandiganbayan, and to allow the [Senate Blue Ribbon] Committee to investigate the matter would create the possibility of conflicting judgments; and that the inquiry into the same justiciable controversy would be an encroachment on the exclusive domain of judicial jurisdiction that had set in much earlier. To the extent that, in the case at bench, there are a number of cases already pending in various courts and administrative bodies involving the petitioners, relative to the alleged sale of unregistered foreign securities, there is a resemblance between this case and Bengzon. However, the similarity ends there. Central to the Court's ruling in Bengzon that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee was without any constitutional mooring to conduct the legislative investigation was the Court's determination that the intended inquiry was not in aid of legislation. The Court found that the speech of Senator Enrile, which sought such investigation contained no suggestion of any contemplated legislation; it merely called upon the Senate to look into possible violations of Section 5, Republic Act No. 3019. Same; Same; Separation of Powers; The mere the of a criminal or an administrative complaint before a court or a quasi-judicial body should not automatically bar the conduct of legislative investigation the exercise of sovereign legislative authority, of which the power of legislative inquiry is an essential component, cannot be made subordinate to a criminal or an administrative investigation. The mere filing of a criminal or an administrative complaint before a court or a quasi-judicial body should not automatically bar the conduct of legislative investigation. Otherwise, it would be extremely easy to subvert any intended inquiry by Congress through the convenient ploy of instituting a criminal or an administrative complaint. Surely, the exercise of sovereign legislative authority, of which the power of legislative inquiry is an essential component, cannot be made subordinate to a criminal or an administrative investigation. As succinctly stated in the landmark case Arnault v. Nazareno, 87 Phil. 29 (1950) {[]he power of inquiry with process to enforce it is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information which is not infrequently true recourse must be had to others who possess it. Same; Same; Same; Contempt; The exercise by Congress or by any of its committees of the power to punish contempt is based on the principle of self-preservation as the branch of the government vested with the legislative power, independently of the judicial branch, it can assert its authority and punish contumacious acts against it. The exercise by Congress or by any of its committees of the power to punish contempt is based on the principle of self-preservation. As the branch of the government vested with the legislative power, independently of the judicial branch, it can assert its authority and punish contumacious acts against it. Such power is sui generis, as it attaches not to the discharge of legislative functions per se, but to the sovereign character of the legislature as one of the three independent and coordinate branches of government. In this case, petitioners' imputation that the investigation was "in aid of collection" is a direct challenge against the authority of the Senate Committee, as it ascribes ill motive to the latter. In this light, we find the contempt citation against the petitioners reasonable and justified.

Same; Same; Contempt; It is axiomatic that the power of legislative investigation includes the power to compel the attendance of witnesses, and corollary to the power to compel the attendance of witnesses is the power to ensure that said witnesses would be available to testify in the legislative investigation. It is axiomatic that the power of legislative investigation includes the power to compel the attendance of witnesses. Corollary to the power to compel the attendance of witnesses is the power to ensure that said witnesses would be available to testify in the legislative investigation. In the case at bench, considering that most of the officers of SCB-Philippines are not Filipino nationals who may easily evade the compulsive character of respondent's summons by leaving the country, it was reasonable for the respondent to request the assistance of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation to prevent said witnesses from evading the inquiry and defeating its purpose. In any event, no HDO was issued by a court. The BID instead included them only in the Watch List, which had the effect of merely delaying petitioners' intended travel abroad for five (5) days, provided no HDO is issued against them. Same; Same; Same; Right to Privacy; Right to Information; Rational Basis Relationship Test; While it is true that Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution, guarantees respect for the rights of persons affected by the legislative investigation, not every invocation of the right to privacy should be allowed to thwart a legitimate congressional inquiry; The right of the people to access information on matters of public concern generally prevails over the right to privacy of ordinary financial transactions; Under the rational basis relationship test, there is no infringement of the individuals right to privacy where the requirement to disclose information is for a valid purpose, such as , to ensure that the government agencies involved in regulating banking transactions adequately protect the public who invest in foreign securities. With respect to the right of privacy which petitioners claim respondent has violated, suffice it to state that privacy is not an absolute right. While it is true that Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution, guarantees respect for the rights of persons affected by the legislative investigation, not every invocation of the right to privacy should be allowed to thwart a legitimate congressional inquiry. In Sabio v. Gordon, we have held that the right of the people to access information on matters of public concern generally prevails over the right to privacy of ordinary financial transactions. In that case, we declared that the right to privacy is not absolute where there is an overriding compelling state interest. Employing the rational basis relationship test, as laid down in Morfe v. Mutuc, there is no infringement of the individual's right to privacy as the requirement to disclosure information is for a valid purpose, in this case, to ensure that the government agencies involved in regulating banking transactions adequately protect the public who invest in foreign securities. Suffice it to state that this purpose constitutes a reason compelling enough to proceed with the assailed legislative investigation. Same; Same; Same; Right against Self-Incrimination; Witnesses; The right of the accused against self-incrimination is extended in administrative investigations that partake of the nature of or are analogous to criminal proceedings the privilege has consistently been held to extend to all proceedings sanctioned by la; and to all cases in which punishment is sought to be visited upon a witness, whether a party or not. As regards the issue of selfincrimination, the petitioners, officers of SCB-Philippines, are not being indicted as accused in a criminal proceeding. They were summoned by respondent merely as resource persons, or as witnesses, in a legislative inquiry. As distinguished by this Court [An] accused occupies a different tier of protection from an ordinary witness. Whereas an ordinary witness may be compelled to take the witness stand and claim the privilege as each question requiring an incriminating answer is shot at him, an accused may altogether refuse to take the witness stand and refuse to answer any and all questions. Concededly, this right of the accused against self-incrimination is extended to respondents in administrative investigations that partake of the nature of or are analogous to criminal proceedings. The privilege has consistently been held to extend to all proceedings sanctioned by law; and to all cases in which punishment is sought to be visited upon a witness, whether a party or not. However, in this case, petitioners neither stand as accused in a criminal case nor will they be

subjected by the respondent to any penalty by reason of their testimonies. Hence, they cannot altogether decline appearing before respondent, although they may invoke the privilege when a question calling for an incriminating answer is propounded. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Separation of Powers; It may be conceded that Congress is without authority to compel disclosures for the purpose of aiding the prosecution of pending suits; but the authority of that body, directly or through its Committees, to require pertinent disclosures in aid of its own constitutional power is not abridged because the information sought to be elicited may also be of use in such suits; The prosecution of offenders by the prosecutorial agencies and the trial before the courts is for the punishment of persons who transgress the law while the intent of legislative inquiries, on the other hand, is to arrive at a policy determination, which may or may not be enacted into law. Petitioners' argument, that the investigation before respondent may result in a recommendation for their prosecution by the appropriate government agencies, such as the Department of Justice or the Office of the Ombudsman, does not persuade. As held in Sinclair v. United States 279 U.S. 263, 73 L ed. 692, 698 (1928) It may be conceded that Congress is without authority to compel disclosures for the purpose of aiding the prosecution of pending suits; but the authority of that body, directly or through its Committees, to require pertinent disclosures in aid of its own constitutional power is not abridged because the information sought to be elicited may also be of use in such suits x x x It is plain that investigation of the matters involved in suits brought or to be commenced under the Senate resolution directing the institution of suits for the cancellation of the leases might directly aid in respect of legislative action. The prosecution of offenders by the prosecutorial agencies and the trial before the courts is for the punishment of persons who transgress the law. The intent of legislative inquiries, on the other hand, is to arrive at a policy determination, which may or may not be enacted into law. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Except only when the Congress and/or its Committees exercises the power to punish for contempt, it cannot penalize violators even if there is overwhelming evidence of criminal culpability it can only recommend measures to address or remedy whatever irregularities may be unearthed during the investigation, although it may include in its Report a recommendation for the criminal indictment of persons who may appear liable. Except only when it exercises the power to punish for contempt, the respondent, as with the other Committees of the Senate or of the House of Representatives, cannot penalize violators even if there is overwhelming evidence of criminal culpability. Other than proposing or initiating amendatory or remedial legislation, respondent can only recommend measures to address or remedy whatever irregularities may be unearthed during the investigation, although it may include in its Report a recommendation for the criminal indictment of persons who may appear liable. At best, the recommendation, along with the evidence, contained in such a Report would be persuasive, but it is still up to the prosecutorial agencies and the courts to determine the liabilities of the offender.

GR No. 168309 January 29, 2008 OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, petitioner, vs. MARIAN D. TORRES and MARICAR D. TORRES, respondents.

Administrative Law; Evidence; To sustain a finding of administrative culpability only substantial evidence is required, not overwhelming or preponderant, and very much less than proof beyond reasonable double as required in criminal cases. It must be stressed that this is an administrative case for dishonesty, grave misconduct, and

falsification of official document. To sustain a finding of administrative culpability only substantial evidence is required, not overwhelming or preponderant, and very much less than proof beyond reasonable doubt as required in criminal cases. Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Same; Public Officers; Dishonesty; Falsification of DTRs (Daily Time Records) amounts to dishonesty. Falsification of DTRs amounts to dishonesty. The evident purpose of requiring government employees to keep a time record is to show their attendance in office to work and to be paid accordingly. Closely adhering to the policy of no work-no pay, a DTR is primarily, if not solely, intended to prevent damage or loss to the government as would result in instances where it pays an employee for no work done. Same; Same; Same; The element of damage need not be proved to hold respondents administratively liable; The falsification of a Daily Time Record (DTR) foists a fraud involving government funds. The CA gravely erred when it exonerated respondents from administrative guilt based on the finding of fact of petitioner which it even affirmed. The jurisprudence adopted by the appellate court in laying the legal basis for its ruling does not apply to the instant case because said cases pertain to criminal liability for Falsification of Public Document under the Revised Penal Code. The element of damage need not be proved to hold respondents administratively liable. But it cannot even be said that no damage was suffered by the government. When respondents collected their salaries on the basis of falsified DTRs, they caused injury to the government. The falsification of ones DTR to cover up ones absences or tardiness automatically results in financial losses to the government because it enables the employee concerned to be paid salaries and to earn leave credits for services which were never rendered. Undeniably, the falsification of a DTR foists a fraud involving government funds. Same; Same; Same; The existence of malice or criminal intent is not a prerequisite to declare the respondents administratively culpable. The existence of malice or criminal intent is not a prerequisite to declare the respondents administratively culpable. What is merely required is a showing that they made entries in their respective DTRs knowing fully well that they were false. This was evident in the many documents viewed and reviewed by petition through GIO Generoso. GR No. 178767 January 30, 2008 NORMA PATALINGHUG, EUGENE ESPEDIDO, REYNALDO BERDIN, NORMAN CODILLA, BOBIE CUENCA, EFREN HERRERA, LORENZO IGOT, JR., ALBERTINO MATA, JR., MICHAEL CZAR OUANO, RAMON PATALINGHUG, FRANCISCO SENERPIDA and CHARLES VAILOCES, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, et. al, respondents.

Election Law; Pre-Proclamation Controversies; Administrative Law; Quasi-Judicial Power; words and Phrases; The determination by the COMELEC of the merits of a pre-proclamation case definitely involves the exercise of adjudicatory powers; Where a power rests in judgment or discretion, so that it is of judicial nature or character, but does not involve the exercise of functions of a judge, or is conferred upon an officer other than a judicial officer, it is deemed quasi-judicial. We clarify, at this point, that COMELEC Resolution No. 8212 is an issuance in the exercise of the COMELEC's adjudicatory or quasi-judicial function. The same was issued pursuant to the second paragraph of Section 16 of R.A. No. 7166, which states that [a]ll pre-proclamation cases pending before the Commission shall be deemed terminated at the beginning of the term of the office involved and the rulings of the boards of canvassers concerned shall be deemed affirmed, without prejudice to the filing of a regular election protest by the aggrieved party. However, proceedings may continue when on the basis of the evidence thus far presented, the Commission determines that the petition appears meritorious and accordingly issues an order for the proceeding to continue or when an appropriate order has been issued by the Supreme Court in a petition for certiorari. The determination by the COMELEC of the merits of a pre-proclamation case definitely involves the exercise of adjudicatory powers. The COMELEC examines and weighs the parties' pieces of evidence vis--vis their respective arguments, and considers whether, on the basis of the evidence thus far presented, the case appears to have merit. Where a power rests in judgment or discretion, so that it is of judicial nature or character, but does not involve the exercise of functions of a judge, or is conferred upon an officer other than a judicial officer, it is deemed quasijudicial. Same; Same; Guidelines on the Appropriate Recourse to Assail COMELEC Resolutions Issued Pursuant top Section 16 of RA No. 7166. To void similar instances of confusion and for the guidance of the bench and the bar, the Court

takes this opportunity to lay down the following guidelines on the appropriate recourse to assail COMELEC resolutions issued pursuant to Section 16 of R.A. No. 7166. First, if a pre-proclamation case is excluded from the list of those (annexed to the Omnibus Resolution on Pending Cases) that shall continue after the beginning of the term of the office involved, the remedy of the aggrieved party is to timely file a certiorari petition assailing the Omnibus Resolution before the Court under Rules 64 and 65, regardless of whether a COMELEC division is yet to issue a definitive ruling in the main case or the COMELEC en banc is yet to act on a motion for reconsideration filed if there is any. It follows that if the resolution on the motion for reconsideration by the banc precedes the exclusion of the said case from the list, what should be brought before the Court on certiorari is the decision resolving the motion. Second, if a pre-proclamation case is dismissed by a COMELEC division and, on the same date of dismissal or within the period to file a motion for reconsideration, the COMELEC en banc excluded the said case from the list annexed to the Omnibus Resolution, the remedy of the aggrieved party is also to timely file a certiorari petition assailing the Omnibus Resolution before the Court under Rules 64 and 65. The aggrieved party need no longer file a motion for reconsideration of the division ruling. The rationale for this is that the exclusion by the COMELEC en banc of a pre-proclamation case from the list of those that shall continue is already deemed a final dismissal of that case not only by the division but also by the COMELEC en banc. As already explained earlier, the aggrieved party can no longer expect any favorable ruling from the COMELEC. And third, if a pre-proclamation case is dismissed by a COMELEC division but, on the same date of dismissal or within the period to file a motion for reconsideration, the COMELEC en banc included the case in the list annexed to the Omnibus Resolution, the remedy of the aggrieved party is to timely file a motion for reconsideration with the COMELEC en banc. The reason for this is that the challenge to the ruling of the COMELEC division will have to be resolved definitively by the entire body.

Same; Same; A judges conviction by the RTC does not necessarily warrant her suspension while her appeal from such conviction is pendinguntil the judgment has obtained finality, she still enjoys the constitutional presumption of innocence. In Nuez v. Atty. Arturo B. Astorga, the Court held that the mere existence of pending criminal charges against the respondent-lawyer cannot be a ground for disbarment or suspension of the latter. To hold otherwise would open the door to harassment of attorneys through the mere filing of numerous criminal cases against them. By parity of reasoning, the fact of respondent's conviction by the RTC does not necessarily warrant her suspension. We agree with respondent's argument that since her conviction of the crime of child abuse is currently on appeal before the CA, the same has not yet attained finality. As such, she still enjoys the constitutional presumption of innocence. It must be remembered that the existence of a presumption indicating the guilt of the accused does not in itself destroy the constitutional presumption of innocence unless the inculpating presumption, together with all the evidence, or the lack of any evidence or explanation, proves the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Until the accused's guilt is shown in this manner, the presumption of innocence continues. In Mangubat v. Sandiganbayan, the Court held that respondent Sandiganbayan did not act with grave abuse of discretion, correctible by certiorari, when it ruled that despite her convictions, "Preagido has still in her favor the constitutional presumption of innocence . . . (and until) a promulgation of final conviction is made, this constitutional mandate prevails." The Court therein further held that such ruling is not bereft of legal or logical foundation and cannot, in any sense, be characterized as a whimsical or capricious exercise of judgment. So also must we hold in this case. Same; Administrative Law; Preventive Suspension; Any administrative complaint leveled against a judge must always be examined with a discriminating eye, for its consequential effects are, by their nature, highly penal, such that the respondent judge stands to face the sanction of dismissal or disbarment; While it is true that preventive suspension pendente lite does not violate the right of the accused to be presumed innocent as the same is not a penalty, the rules on preventive suspension of judges, not having been expressly included in the Rules of Court, are amorphous at best. It is established that any administrative complaint leveled against a judge must always be examined with a discriminating eye, for its consequential effects are, by their nature, highly penal, such that the respondent judge stands to face the sanction of dismissal or disbarment. As aforementioned, the filing of criminal cases against judges may be used as tools to harass them and may in the long run create adverse consequences. The OCA, as well as SSP Velasco, failed to prove that other than the fact that a judgment of conviction for child abuse was rendered against the respondent, which is still on appeal, there are other lawful grounds to support the

imposition of preventive suspension. Based on the foregoing disquisition, the Court is of the resolve that, while it is true that preventive suspension pendente lite does not violate the right of the accused to be presumed innocent as the same is not a penalty, the rules on preventive suspension of judges, not having been expressly included in the Rules of Court, are amorphous at best. Likewise, we consider respondent's argument that there is no urgency in imposing preventive suspension as the criminal cases are now before the CA, and that she cannot, by using her present position as an RTC Judge, do anything to influence the CA to render a decision in her favor. The issue of preventive suspension has also been rendered moot as the Court opted to resolve this administrative case. GR No. 155831 February 18, 2008 MA. LOURDES T. DOMINGO, petitioner, vs. ROGELIO I. RAYALA, respondent. Administrative Law; Evidence; When supported by substantial evidence, factual findings made by quasi-judicial and administrative bodies are accorded great respect and even finality by the courts. That Rayala committed the acts complained ofand was guilty of sexual harassment-is, therefore, the common factual finding of not just one, but three independent bodies: the Committee, the OP and the CA . It should be remembered that when supported by substantial evidence, factual findings made by quasi-judicial and administrative bodies are accorded great respect and even finality by the courts. The principle, therefore, dictates that such findings should bind us. Same; Public Officers; Basic in the law of public officers is the three-fold liability rule, which states that the wrongful acts or omissions of a public officer may give rise to civil, criminal and administrative liability . Basic in the law of public officers is the three-fold liability rule, which states that the wrongful acts or missions of a public officer may give rise to civil, criminal and administrative liability. An action for each can proceed independently of the others. This rule applies with full force sexual harassment. Same; Same; Administrative Law; Due Process; Requisites. We hold that Rayala was properly accorded due process. In previous cases, this Court held that: [i]n administrative proceedings, due process has been recognized to include the following: (1)the right to actual or constructive notice of the institution of proceedings which may affect a respondents legal rights; (2) a real opportunity to be heard personally or with the assistance of counsel, to present witnesses and evidence in ones favor, and to defend ones rights; (3) a tribunal vested with competent jurisdiction and so constituted as to afford a person charged administratively a reasonable guarantee of honesty as well as impartiality; and (4) a finding by said tribunal which supported by substantial evidence submitted for consideration during the hearing or contained in the records or made known to the parties affected. Same; Same; Same; It is noteworthy that under A0 250, sexual harassment amounts to disgraceful and immoral conductany finding of liability for sexual harassment may also be the basis of culpability for disgraceful and immoral conduct. This Court has held that, even in criminal cases, the designation of the offense is not controlling, thus: What is controlling is not that title of the complaint, nor the designation of the offense charged or the particular law or part thereof allegedly violated, these being mere conclusions of law made by the prosecutor, but the description of the crime charged and the particular facts therein recited. The acts or omissions complained of must be alleged in such form as is sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is intended to be charged, and enable the court to pronounce proper judgment. No information for a crime will be sufficient if it does not accurately and clearly allege the elements of the crime charged. Every element of the offense must be stated in the information. What facts and circumstances are necessary to be included therein must be determined by reference to the definitions and essential s of the specified crimes. The requirement of alleging the elements of a crime in the information is to inform the accused of the nature of the accusation against him so as to enable him so suitably prepare his defense. It is noteworthy that under AO 250, sexual harassment amounts to disgraceful and immoral conduct. Thus, any finding of liability for sexual harassment may also be the basis of culpability for disgraceful and immoral conduct. Same; Same; Same; Presidency; Rule of Law; Even if the President found that a presidential appointee was indeed guilty of disgraceful and immoral conduct, the chief executive did not have unfettered discretion to impose a penalty other than the penalty provided by the law for such offense. In this case, it is the President of the Philippines, as the proper disciplining authority, who would determine whether there is a valid cause for removal of Rayala as NLRC Chairman. This power however is qualified by the phrase for cause as provided by law. Thus, when the President found that Rayala was indeed guilty of disgraceful and immoral conduct, the Chief Executive did have

unfettered discretion to impose a penalty other than the penalty provided by law for such offense of either the administrative offense of sexual harassment or for disgraceful and immoral conduct is suspension of six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1) year. Accordingly, it was error for the office of the President to impose upon Rayala the penalty of dismissal from the service, a penalty which can only be imposed upon commission of second offense. Same; Same; Same; Public Officers; Respondent holds the exalted position of National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Chairman, with the rank equivalent to a CA Justicethus, it is not unavailing that rigid standards of conduct may be demanded of him. Rayala holds the exalted position of NLRC Chairman, with the rank equivalent to a CA justice. Thus, it is not unavailing that rigid standards of conduct may be demanded of him. In Talens Dabon v. Judge Arceo, 259 SCRA 354 (1996), this court, in upholding the liability of therein respondent Judge, said: The actuations of the respondents are aggravated by the fact that complainant is one of his subordinates over whom he exercises control and supervision, he being an executive judge. He took advantage of his position and power in order to carry out his lustful and lascivious desires. Instead of he being in loco parentis over his subordinate employees, respondent was the one who preyed on them, taking advantage of his superior position. A.M. No. P-08-2434 March 3, 2008 COLLECTION OF FEE FOR TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE WITHOUT PROPER RECEIPT BY CLERK OF COURT MARCIANA APAS-PILAPIL, MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURT (MCTC), LILOAN, CEBU, IN CIVIL CASE NO. 605-R

Administrative Law; Courts; Travel Expenses; Procedural requirement for travel allowance is provided in Section 10(l) of Rule 141. The procedural requirement for travel allowance is provided in Section 10 (l) of Rule 141, thus: In addition to the fees hereinabove fixed, the amount of One Thousand (Php 1,000) Pesos shall be deposited with the Clerk of Court upon filing of the complaint to defray the actual travel expenses of the sheriff, process server or other court-authorized persons in the service of summons, subpoena and other court processes that would be issued relative to the trial of the case. Same; Same; Same; Before the amount can be availed of, an estimate of the travel expenses for the service of summons and court processes should first be submitted by the sheriff or process server. The required One Thousand (Php 1,000) Pesos deposit is primarily intended to defray the actual travel expenses of the sheriff, process server or other court-authorized processes to be issued relative to the trial of the case. However, before the amount can be availed of, an estimate of the travel expenses for service of summons and court processes should first be submitted by the sheriff or process server. A statement of liquidation should also be submitted to the court for approval after the summons or court processes have been served.

GR No. 179851 April 18, 2008 MAYOR JOSE UGDORACION, JR., petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EPHRAIM M. TUNGOL, respondents.

Election Law; Omnibus Election Code; Certificates of Candidacy; Misrepresentation; The code requires that the facts stated in the Certificate of Candidacy (COC) must be true and any false representation therein of a material fact shall be a ground for cancellation thereof. Section 74, in relation to Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, in unmistakable terms, requires that the facts stated in the COC must be true, and any false representation therein of a material fact shall be a ground for cancellation thereof. Same; Same; Same; Same; The false representation contemplated by Section 78 of the Code pertains to material fact, and is not simply an innocuous mistake. The false representation contemplated by Section 78 of the Code pertains to material fact, and is not simply an innocuous mistake. A material fact refers to a candidates qualification for elective office such as ones citizenship and residence. Our holding in Salcedo II v. COMELEC, 312 SCRA 447(1999), reiterated in Lluz v. COMELEC, 523 SCRA 456(2007), is instructive, thus: In case there is a material misrepresentation in the certificate of candidacy, the Comelec is authorized to deny due course to or cancel

such certificate upon the filing of a petition by any person pursuant to Section 78. x x x x x x As stated in the law, in order to justify the cancellation of the certificate of candidacy under Section 78, it is essential that the false representation mentioned therein pertain[s] to a material matter for the sanction imposed by this provision would affect the substantive rights of a candidate the right to run for the elective post for which he filed the certificate of candidacy. Although the law does not specify what would be considered as a material representation, the court has interpreted this phrase in a line of decisions applying Section 78 of [B.P. 881]. Same; Same; Same; Same; A Filipino citizens acquisition of a permanent resident status abroad constitutes an abandonment of his domicile and residence in the Philippines; The green card status in the USA is a renunciation of ones status as a resident of the Philippines. Ugdoracions assertions miss the mark completely. The dust had long settled over the implications of a green card HOLDER STATUS ON AN ELECTIVE OFFICIALS QUALIFICATION FOR PUBLIC OFFICE. We ruled in Caasi v. Court of Appeals, 191 SCRA 229 (1990), that a Filipino citizens acquisition of a permanent resident status abroad constitutes an abandonment of his domicile and resident in the Philippines. I*n short, the green card status in the USA is a renunciation of ones status as a resident of the Philippines. Same; Same; Same; Same; Domicile; Residence in contemplation of election laws is synonymous to domicile; Domicile is classified into (1) domicile of origin, (2) domicile of choice, and (3) domicile by operation of law. We agree with Ugdoracion that residence, in contemplation of election laws, is synonymous to domicile. Domicile is the place where one actually or constructively has his permanent home, where he, no matter where he may be found at any given time, eventually intends to return (animus revertendi) and remain (animus manendi). It consists not only in the place, coupled with conduct indicative of such intention. Domicile is classified into (1) domicile of origin, which is acquired by every person at birth; (2) domicile of choice, which is acquired upon abandonment of the domicile of origin; and (3) domicile by operation of law, which the law attributes to a person independently of his residence or intention. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Three Basic Rules Governing Domicile. In a controversy such as the one at bench, given the parties naturally conflicting perspectives on domicile, we are guided by three basic rules, namely: (1) a man must have a residence or domicile somewhere; (2) domicile, once established, remains until a new one is validly acquired; and (3) a man can have but one residence or domicile at any given time. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Domicile of origin is not easily lost, it is lost only when there is an actual removal or change of domicile, a bona fide intention of abandoning the former residence and establishing a new one and acts which correspond with such purpose. The general rule is that the domicile of origin is not easily lost; it is lost only when there is an actual removal or change of domicile, a bona fide intention of abandoning the former residence and establishing a new one and acts which correspond with such purpose. In the instant case, however, Ugdoracions acquisition of a lawful permanent resident status in the United States amounted to an abandonment and renunciation of his status as a resident of the Philippines; it constituted a change from his domicile of origin, which was Albuquerque, Bohol, to a new domicile of choice, which is the USA. Same; Same; Same; Same; The candidates misrepresentation in his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) must not only refer to a material fact (eligibility and qualifications for elective office) but should evince a deliberate intent to mislead, misinform or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. A candidates disqualification to run for public office does not necessarily constitute material misrepresentation which is the sole ground for denying due course to, and for the cancellation of, a COC. Further, as already discussed, the candidates misrepresentation in his COC must not only refer to a material fact (eligibility and qualifications for elective office), but should evince a deliberate intent to mislead, misinform or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. It must be made with intention to deceive the electorate as to ones qualifications to run for public office. Same; Same; Same; Same; Winning the election does not substitute for the specific requirements of law on a persons eligibility for public office which he lacked, and does not cure his material misrepresentation which is a valid ground for the cancellation of his Certificate of Candidacy (COC). We are not unmindful of the fact that Ugdoracion appears to have won the election as Mayor of Albuquerque, Bohol. Sadly, winning the election does not substitute for the specific requirements of law on a persons eligibility for public office which he lacked, and does not cure his material misrepresentation which is a valid ground for the cancellation of his COC. A.M. No. RTJ-08-2111 May 7, 2008

CITY OF CEBU, complainant, vs. JUDGE IRENEO LEE GAKO, JR., Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 5, Cebu City, respondent.

Administrative Law; Judges; Nothing irregular on the part of respondent judge in calling a witness to the stand and conducting the latter's direct testimony even if the respective counsels were not interested or did not intend to present said person as their witness. On the charge that the respondent judge unduly arrogated unto himself the duty of a counsel, in Civil Case No. CEB-26607, by calling a witness to the stand and conducting the latter's direct testimony even if the respective counsels were not interested or did not intend to present said person as their witness, the Court finds nothing irregular in the same. Revealed in the hearings of the said case is that the respondent judge intended to obtain enlightenment from the said witness, the project director of one of the signatories to the contract being litigated. In not a few cases, this Court has declared that the trial judge, if he is not satisfied after hearing all the evidence adduced by the parties, may, in the exercise of sound discretion, on his own motion and in furtherance of justice, call additional witnesses or recall some or the same witnesses for the purpose of questioning them himself to enlighten him on particular facts or issues involved in the case. Same; Same; Administrative Complaints; Where the remedies of appeal and/or certiorari are available, recourse to an administrative complaint for the correction of actions of a judge perceived to have gone beyond the norms of propriety is improper. As to the four charges of willful violation of laws and rules, the Court finds them without merit. The complainant failed to clearly prove error or ill will on the part of the respondent judge in denying the motion to dismiss Civil Case No. CEB-26066. Granting that respondent erred in denying the motion, the complainant should have appealed or petitioned for the issuance of a writ of certiorari. Fundamental is the rule that where the remedies of appeal and/or certiorari are available, recourse to an administrative complaint for the correction of actions of a judge perceived to have gone beyond the norms of propriety is improper. Same; Same; For liability to attach for ignorance of the law, the assailed order of the judge must not only be erroneous, but most importantly, its issuance is motivated by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred or some other similar motives; because mere error of judgment is not a ground for disciplinary proceedings. We note at this point that, for liability to attach for ignorance of the law, the assailed order of the judge must not only be erroneous, but most importantly, its issuance is motivated by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred or some other similar motives; because mere error of judgment is not a ground for disciplinary proceedings. To follow a different rule will mean a deluge of complaints, legitimate or otherwise, and our magistrates will be immersed in answering charges against them rather than performing their judicial functions. As we said earlier, appropriate judicial remedies are available to the complainant an appeal or a petition for certiorari to assail the allegedly erroneous orders; hence, recourse to an administrative action against the judge is improper. Same; Same; Respondent's retirement from office does not render the present administrative case moot and academic, neither does it free him from liability. The Investigating Justice, in this case, recommended the penalty of suspension for 2 months without salary and other benefits. The Court cannot, however, adopt the said recommended penalty considering that the respondent already retired from the judiciary on September 20, 2006. The Court emphasizes at this point that respondent's retirement from office does not render the present administrative case moot and academic; neither does it free him from liability. Since complainant filed the case when respondent was still in the service, the Court retains the authority to investigate and resolve the administrative complaint against him.

GR No. 176296 June 30, 2008 INDIRA R. FERNANDEZ, petitioner, vs. HON. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (First Division) and MARK ANTHONY B. RODRIGUEZ, respondents.

Election Law; Considering that the term of the contested office has already expired, the petition has been rendered moot and academic. Considering that the term of the contested office has already expired, the petition has been rendered moot and academic. Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9164 provides that the term of the SK officials elected in the July 15, 2002 synchronized barangay and SK elections shall be 3 years, commencing on August 15, 2002, and

ending at noon on November 30, 2005. R.A. 9340, however, amended the aforesaid law and reset the barangay and SK elections to October 2007, thereby extending the term of those elected in 2002 up to noon of November 30, 2007. On the latter date, therefore, the term of the barangay and SK officials elected in 2002 expired. It is thus an exercise in futility for the Court to indulge itself in a review of the records and in an academic discussion of the applicable legal principles to determine who really won the said elections, because whatever judgment is reached, the same can no longer have any practical legal effect or, in the nature of things, can no longer be enforced. Same; Commission on Elections (COMELEC); Jurisdictions; The 1987 Constitution vests in the COMELEC appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction. The 1987 Constitution vests in the COMELEC appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Construed in relation to the provision in R.A. No.7160 that includes in the enumeration of barangay officials the SK chairman, the constitutional provision indeed sanctions the appellate review by the COMELEC of election protests involving the position of SK chairman, as in the instant case. Hence, we find nothing improper in the COMELECs assumption of jurisdiction over respondents appeal. Same; Same; Same; The rule at the present is that trial courts of limited jurisdiction have exclusive original jurisdiction over election protests involving barangay officials, which include the SK chairman, and that the COMELEC has the exclusive appellate jurisdiction over such protests. Petitioners reliance on our ruling in Mercado v. Board of Election Supervisors, 243 SCRA 422 (1995), that contests involving the SK chairman do not fall within Section 252 of the Omnibus Election Code and paragraph 2, Section 2, Article IX-C of the Constitution, is misplaced. The doctrine therein, as we explained in the much later Marquez v. Commission on Elections, 313 SCRA 103 (1999), is no longer controlling. Thus, the rule at the present is that trial courts of limited jurisdiction have exclusive original jurisdiction over election protests involving barangay officials, which include the SK chairman, and that the COMELEC has the exclusive appellate jurisdiction over such protests.

GR No. 178884 June 30, 2008 RICARDO P. PRESBITERO, JR., JANET PALACIOS, CIRILO G. ABRASIA, ARMANDO G. ALVAREZ, NENITO A. ARMAS, RENE L. CORRAL, JOEMARIE A. DE JUAN, ENRILICE C. GENOBIS, WILLIAM A. PRESBITERO and REYNO N. SOBERANO, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ROMMEL YOGORE, GLORY GOMEZ, DAN YANSON, JOENITO DURAN, SR., LUCIUS BODIOS and REY SUMUGAT, respondents.

Election Law; Stressed repeatedly in our prior decisions is that a failure of election may be declared only in the three instances stated in Section 6 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC). Stressed repeatedly in our prior decisions is that failure of election may be declared only in the three instances stated in Section 6 of the OEC: the election has not been held; the election has been suspended before the hour fixed by law; and the preparation and the transmission of the election returns have given rise to the consequent failure to elect, meaning nobody emerged as the winner. Furthermore, the reason for such failure of election should be force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud or other analogous causes. Finally, before the COMELEC can grant a verified petition seeking to declare a failure of election, the concurrence of 2 conditions must be established, namely: (1) no voting has taken place in the precincts concerned on the date fixed by law or, even if there was voting, the election nevertheless resulted in a failure to elect; and (2) the votes cast would affect the result of the election. Same; Absent any proof that the voting did not take place, the alleged disenfranchisement of the 946 individuals and 2,000 more supporters of the petitioners cannot be considered as a basis for the declaration of a failure of election. It is admitted by the petitioners that elections were held in the subject locality. Also, the private respondents and four of the petitioners won in the elections and were proclaimed as the duly elected municipal officials. There is nothing in the records from which the Court can make even a slim deduction that there has been a failure to elect in Valladolid, Negros Occidental. Absent any proof that the voting did not take place, the alleged disenfranchisement of the 946 individuals and 2,000 more supporters of the petitioners cannot even be considered as a basis for the declaration of a failure of election. Had petitioners been aggrieved by the allegedly illegal composition and proceedings of the MBOC, then they should have filed the appropriate pre-proclamation case contesting the

aforesaid composition or proceedings of the board, rather than erroneously raising the same as grounds for the declaration of failure of election. On the TRO issued by the MCTC and the subsequent defiance thereof by the MBOC, suffice it to state that the propriety of suspending the canvass of returns or the proclamation of candidates is a pre-proclamation issue that is solely within the cognizance of the COMELEC. In sum, petitioners have not adduced any ground which will warrant a declaration a failure of election. Same; There is failure of election only when the will of the electorate has been muted and cannot be ascertained. We reiterate our pronouncement in Batabor v. Commission on Elections, 434 SCRA 630 (2004), that the power to declare a failure of election should be exercised with utmost care and only under circumstances which demonstrate beyond doubt that the disregard of the law has been so fundamental or so persistent and continuous that is impossible to distinguish what votes are lawful and what are unlawful, or to arrive at any certain result whatsoever; or that the great body of voters have been prevented by violence, intimidation and threats from exercising their franchise. There is failure of election only when the will of the electorate has been muted and cannot be ascertained. If the will of the people is determinable, the same must as far as possible be respected.

GR No. 151121 July 21, 2008 RUBEN S. GALERO, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN (VISAYAS), and PHILIPPINE PORTS AUTHORITY, respondents.

Administrative Law; Ombudsman; The restrictive interpretation of the word recommend had long been rejected by this Court for being inconsistent with the wisdom and spirit behind the creation of the Office of the Ombudsman . The restrictive interpretation of the word recommend had long been rejected by this Court for being inconsistent with the wisdom and spirit behind the creation of the Office of the Ombudsman. Instead, to be faithful to the constitutional objective, the word has been construed to mean that the implementation of the Ombudsmans order of dismissal, suspension, etc., is mandatory but shall be coursed through the proper officer. We have already ruled that although the Constitution lays down the specific powers of the Ombudsman, it likewise allows the legislature to enact a law that would grant added powers to the Ombudsman. To be sure, the provisions of R.A. 6770, taken together, reveal the manifest intent of the lawmakers to bestow the Office of the Ombudsman full administrative disciplinary authority. Specifically, it is given the authority to receive complaints, conduct investigations, hold hearings in accordance with its rules of procedure, summon witnesses and require the production of documents, place under preventive suspension public officers and employees pending an investigation, determine the appropriate penalty imposable on erring public officers or employees as warranted by the evidence, and necessarily, impose the said penalty. Clearly, the Office of the Ombudsman was given teeth to render this constitutional body not merely functional but also effective. Same; Same; For the purpose of sustaining the Ombudsmans findings, it would have been necessary that the alleged conspiracy or collusion be established by independent, competent and substantial evidence . While not totally exonerating petitioner from the charges filed against him, a modification of the nature of petitioners administrative liability as well as the penalty that was correspondingly imposed, is in order. The only basis of petitioners liability for dishonesty, etc., was the presumed collusion between him and Mr. Geocadin. This stemmed from the unproven fact that Mr. Geocadin was a ghost employee and that petitioner was receiving part of his (Mr. Geocadin) salary. There was nothing in the record which establishes petitioners collusion or conspiracy with Mr. Geocadin to defraud the government. For the purpose of sustaining the Ombudsmans findings, it would have been necessary that the alleged conspiracy or collusion be established by independent, competent and substantial evidence. Since the records are bereft of this evidence, what remains is only petitioners verification of Mr. Geocadins false DTR. With this as sole basis, petitioner can be held administratively liable only for simple neglect of duty - not for dishonesty, for falsification of official document, or for causing undue injury to the government. Same; Simple Neglect of Duty; Words and Phrases; Simple neglect of duty is defined as the failure to give proper attention to a task expected from an employee resulting to either carelessness or indifference . Simple neglect of duty is defined as the failure to give proper attention to a task expected from an employee resulting from either carelessness or indifference. Had petitioner performed the task required of him, that is, to monitor the employees

attendance, he would have discovered that indeed Mr. Geocadin was dividing his time between PPA and Napocor. Though not required to know every detail of his subordinates whereabouts, petitioner should have implemented measures to make sure that the government was not defrauded. As he was required to sign Mr. Geocadins DTR, petitioner should have verified the truthfulness of the entries therein. Indeed, petitioner neglected his duty which caused prejudice to the government in that Mr. Geocadin was paid twice for his services. These facts, taken together, are sufficient to make petitioner liable for simple neglect of duty, but insufficient to make him answer for charges of dishonesty and falsification of document. Same; Same; Public Officers; It must be remembered that public service requires integrity and discipline. It must be remembered that public service requires integrity and discipline. For this reason, public servants must exhibit at all times the highest sense of honesty and dedication to duty. By the very nature of their duties and responsibilities, government employees must faithfully adhere to, hold sacred and render inviolate the constitutional principle that a public office is a public trust; that all public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency.

Labor Law
G.R. No. 156146 June 21, 2007 OLONGAPO MAINTENANCE SERVICES, INC., petitioner, vs. EDGARDO B. CHANTENGCO, respondent. Labor Law; Regular and Project Employees; A true project employee should be assigned to a project which begins and ends at determined or determinable times, and be informed thereof at the time of hiring. The principal test in determining whether an employee is a project employee is whether he/she is assigned to carry out a specific project or undertaking, the duration and scope of which are specified at the time the employee is engaged in the project, or where the work or service to be performed is seasonal in nature and the employment is for the duration of the season. A true project employee should be assigned to a project which begins and ends at determined or determinable times, and be informed thereof at the time of hiring. Same; Same; Evidence; Appeals; The practice of submitting evidence late like in a motion for reconsideration before the Court of Appeals cannot be tolerated, for it defeats the speedy administration of justice involving poor workers, aside from being unfair. In the instant case, the record is bereft of proof that the respondents engagement as project employees has been predetermined, as required by law. We agree with the Court of Appeals that OMSI did not provide convincing evidence that respondents were informed that they were to be assigned to a specific project or undertaking when OMSI hired them. Notably, the employment contracts for the specific project signed by the respondents were never presented. All that OMSI submitted in the proceedings a quo are the service contracts between OMSI and the MIAA. Clearly, OMSI utterly failed to establish by substantial evidence that, indeed, respondents were project employees and their employment was coterminous with the MIAA contract. Evidently cognizant of such neglect, OMSI attempted to correct the situation by attaching copies of the application forms of the respondents to its motion for reconsideration of the Court of Appeals' Decision. Such practice cannot

be tolerated. This practice of submitting evidence late is properly rejected as it defeats the speedy administration of justice involving poor workers. It is also unfair. Same; Same; Same; Employers who hire project employees are mandated to state and, once its veracity is challenged, to prove the actual basis for the latter's dismissal. In termination cases, the burden of proof rests on the employer to show that the dismissal is for a just cause. Thus, employers who hire project employees are mandated to state and, once its veracity is challenged, to prove the actual basis for the latter's dismissal. Unfortunately for OMSI, it failed to discharge the burden. All that we have is OMSIs self-serving assertion that the respondents were hired as project employees. G.R. No. 157851 June 29, 2007 ATTY. ANDREA UY and FELIX YUSAY, petitioners, vs. ARLENE VILLANUEVA and NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, respondents. Labor Law; Due Process; While labor laws mandate the speedy administration of justice with least attention to technicalities, this must be done without sacrificing the fundamental requisites of due process. In putting a premium on technical rules over the just resolution of the case, therefore, the CA overlooked the right of petitioners to the full adjudication of their petition on its merits. Indeed, while labor laws mandate the speedy administration of justice with least attention to technicalities, this must be done without sacrificing the fundamental requisites of due process. Labor Law; Employer-Employee Relationship; Four-Fold Test. In order to sustain a finding of illegal dismissal, we must first determine the relationship between the petitioners and private respondent. Illegal dismissal presupposes that there was an employer-employee relationship between the dismissed employee and the persons complained of. To determine whether there was an employer-employee relationship between petitioners and private respondent, the Court has consistently used the "four-fold" test. The test calls for the determination of (1) whether the alleged employer has the power of selection and engagement of an employee; (2) whether he has control of the employee with respect to the means and methods by which work is to be accomplished; (3) whether he has the power to dismiss; and (4) whether the employee was paid wages. Of the four, the control test is the most important element. Same; Same; Where there is no employer-employee relationship between parties, the Labor Arbiter, and consequently, the National Labor Relations Commission, is without jurisdiction to adjudicate. Given that there is in fact no employeremployee relationship between petitioners and private respondents, the Labor Arbiter, and consequently, the NLRC, is without jurisdiction to adjudicate the dispute between them. The cases a Labor Arbiter can hear and decide are "employmentrelated." G.R. No. 151158 August 17, 2007 JOEL B. DE JESUS, petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and PACIFIC OCEAN MANNING, INC., respondents.

Labor Law; Appeals; Judicial review by this Court does not extend to a re-evaluation of the sufficiency of the evidence upon which the proper labor tribunal has based its determination-firm is the doctrine that this Court is not a trier of facts, and this applies with greater force in labor cases . It is a settled rule that under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, only questions of law may be raised before this Court. Judicial review by this Court does not extend to a reevaluation of the sufficiency of the evidence upon which the proper labor tribunal has based its determination. Firm is the doctrine that this Court is not a trier of acts, and this applies with greater force in labor cases. However, factual issues may be considered and resolved when the findings of facts and conclusions of law of the Labor Arbiter are inconsistent with those of the NLRC and the Court of Appeals, as in this case. Same; Disease; The rule is that an ailment contracted by the worker even prior to his employment, does not detract from the compensability of the disease. The evidence shows that De Jesus previously suffered from ulcer but he ticked NO in his medical history. De Jesus, therefore, committed misrepresentation. Nonetheless, he passed the pre-employment medical examination, was reported fit to work, and was suffered to work on board M/V Author for more than two (2) months, until his repatriation on June 19, 1997. The rule is that an ailment contracted even prior to his employment, does not detract from the compensability of the disease. It is not required that the employment be the sole factor in the growth, development or acceleration of the illness to entitle the claimant to the benefits incident thereto. It is enough that the employment had contributed, even in a small measure, to the development of the disease. Same; Same; A workers misrepresentation cannot be made the basis by his employer for the denial of his claims under the contract when he passed the required pre-medical examination and was declared fit to work. In OSM Shipping Philippines, Inc. vs Dela Cruz, 449 SCRA 525 (2005), this Court, in granting similar claims, held; Labor contracts are impressed with public interest and the provisions of the POEA Standard Employment Contract must be construed fairly, reasonably and liberally in favor of Filipino seamen in the pursuit of their employment on board ocean-going vessels. Despite his misrepresentation, Arbit underwent and passed the required pre-medical examination, was declared fit to work, and was suffered to work by petitioner. Upon repatriation, he complied with the required postemployment medical examination. Under the beneficent provisions of the Contract, it is enough that the work has contributed, even in a small degree, to the development of the disease and in bringing about his death. Strict proof of causation is not required. De Jesus misrepresentation cannot, therefore, be made basis by POMI for the denial of his claims under the contract. Same; Illegal Dismissals; Burden of Proof; Settled is the rule that in termination cases, the burden of proof rests upon the employer to show that the dismissal is for a just and valid cause. Settled is the rule that in termination cases, the burden of proof rests upon the employer to show that the dismissal is for a just and valid cause. The case of the employer must stand or fall on its own merits and not on the weakness of the employees defense. In this case, no convincing proof was offered to prove POMIs allegation. All that we have is its self-serving assertion that De Jesus violated his employment contract. There is no proof that the prescribed disciplinary procedure was followed. We, therefore, agree with the Labor Arbiters finding that POMI utterly failed to establish its claim of valid dismissal. Accordingly, the NLRC and Court of Appeals erred in reversing the said finding.

G.R. No. 155903 September 14, 2007 C.F. SHARP CREW MANAGEMENT, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. UNDERSECRETARY JOSE M. ESPANOL, JR., HON. SECRETARY LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING and RIZAL INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING SERVICES, respondents. Labor Law; Labor Code, Judgment; Appeals; a judgment debtor who acquiesces to and voluntarily complies with the judgment is estopped from taking an appeal therefrom. The general rule is that when a judgment has been satisfied, it passes beyond review, satisfaction being the last act and the end of the proceedings, and payment or satisfaction of the obligation thereby established produces permanent and irrevocable discharge; hence, a judgment debtor who acquiesces to and voluntarily complies with the judgment is estopped from taking an appeal therefrom. Same; Same; Illegal Recruitment; Definition of Recruitment and Placement; The conduct of preparatory interviews is a recruitment activity. Article 13(b) of the Labor Code defines recruitment and placement as: any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad whether for profit or not: Provided, That any person or entity which in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement. On the basis of this definition and contrary to what C.F. Sharp wants to portray - the conduct of preparatory interviews is a recruitment activity. Same; Same; Same; It is the lack of the necessary license or authority, not the fact of payment, the renders the recruitment activity of LCL unlawful. The fact that C.F. Sharp did not receive any payment during the interviews is of no moment. From the language of Article 13(b), the act of recruitment may be "for profit or not." Notably, it is the lack of the necessary license or authority, not the fact of payment, that renders the recruitment activity of LCL unlawful. Same; Appeals; Due Process; The essence of due process lies in the reasonable opportunity afforded party to be heard and to submit any evidence in support of its defense; What is vital is not the opportunity to cross-examine an adverse witness, but an opportunity to be heard. The claim of denial of due process on the part of C.F. Sharp must also be rejected. The essence of due process lies in the reasonable opportunity afforded a party to be heard and to submit any evidence in support of its defense. What is vital is not the opportunity to cross-examine an adverse witness, but an opportunity to be heard. In this case, C.F. Sharp was given ample opportunity to be heard, to adduce evidence in support of its version of the material occurrences, and to controvert Rizals allegation and the Inspection Report. It submitted its position paper with supporting affidavits and documents, and additionally pleaded its causes on appeal before the Secretary of Labor. Under the circumstances, a claim of denial of due process on C.F. Sharps part is completely unavailing. Same; Same; Judicial review of Labor cases does not go beyond the evaluation of the sufficiency of the evidence upon which the labor officials findings rest. C.F.

Sharp would have us re-evaluate the factual veracity and probative value of the evidence submitted in the proceedings a quo. C.F. Sharp may well be reminded that it is not our function to review, examine, and evaluate or weigh the evidence adduced by the parties. Elementary is the principle that this Court is not a trier of facts. Judicial review of labor cases does not go beyond the evaluation of the sufficiency of the evidence upon which the labor officials' findings rest. Hence, where the factual findings of the labor tribunals or agencies conform to, and are affirmed by, the CA, the same are accorded respect and finality, and are binding upon this Court. It is only when the findings of the labor agencies and the appellate court are in conflict that this Court will review the records to determine which findings should be upheld as being more in conformity with the evidentiary facts. Where the CA affirms the labor agencies on review and there is no showing whatsoever that said findings are patently erroneous, this Court is bound by the said findings. G.R. No. 173256 October 9, 2007 AFI INTERNATIONAL TRADING CORPORATION (ZAMBOANGA BUYING STATION) and CELEDONIO RAYMUNDO, JR., petitioners, vs. DENNIS G. LORENZO and CECILIO S. SORSAN, respondents. Labor Law; Illegal Dismissal; Burden of Proof; in illegal dismissal cases, the employer is burdened to prove just cause for terminating the employment of its employees with clear and convincing evidence. As stated at the outset, in illegal dismissal cases, the employer is burdened to prove just cause for terminating the employment of its employees with clear and convincing evidence. Article 277 (b) of the Labor Code 9 of the Philippines puts on the employer the burden of proving that the dismissal of an employee was for a valid or authorized cause, whether the latter admits or does not admit the dismissal. Thus, petitioners must not only rely on the weakness of respondents' evidence, but must stand on the merits of their own defense. Same; Same; Same; Gross negligence; Habitual Neglect; Words and Phrases; Gross negligence connotes want of care in the performance of one's duties, while habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform one's duties for a period of time, depending upon the circumstances. Respondents were dismissed for gross and habitual neglect of duty. Gross negligence connotes want of care in the performance of one's duties, while habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform one's duties for a period of time, depending upon the circumstances. The single or isolated act of negligence does not constitute a just cause for the dismissal of the employee. Same; Same; Reinstatement; Separation Pay; Illegally dismissed employees are entitled to reinstatement to their former positions without loss of seniority rights and payment of back wages, but if such reinstatement proves impracticable and hardly in the best interest of the parties, perhaps due to lapse of time since their dismissal, or if the employee decides not to be reinstated, they should be awarded separation pay in lieu of reinstatement. Lack of just cause in terminating the respondents rendered their dismissal illegal. Consequently, they are entitled to reinstatement to their former positions without loss of seniority rights and payment of back wages. However, if such reinstatement proves impracticable and hardly in

the best interest of the parties, perhaps due to the lapse of time since their dismissal, or if the employee decides not to be reinstated, respondents should be awarded separation pay in lieu of reinstatement. We, therefore, agree with the Labor Arbiter and the Court of Appeals that separation pay in lieu of reinstatement and back wages is warranted in this case. G.R. No. 156668 November 23, 2007 KIMBERLY-CLARK (PHILS.), INC., petitioner, vs. SECRETARY OF LABOR, et al., respondents. Labor Law; Regular Employees; The law (thus) provides two kinds of regular employees, namely: (1) those who are engaged to perform activities which are usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer, and (2) those who have rendered at least one year of service, whether continuous or broken, with respect to the activity in which they are employed. The law [thus] provides for two kinds of regular employees, namely: (1) those who are engaged to perform activities which are usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer, and (2) those who have rendered at least one year of service, whether continuous or broken, with respect to the activity in which they are employed. The individual petitioners herein who have been adjudged to be regular employees fall under the second category. These are the mechanics, electricians, machinists, machine shop helpers, warehouse helpers, painters, carpenters, pipefitters, and masons. It is not disputed that these workers have been in the employ of KIMBERLY for more than one year at the time of filing of the petition for certification election by KILUSAN-OLALIA. Same; Same; Owing to their length of service with the company, these workers became regular employees, by operation of law, one year after they were employed by KIMBERLY through RANK While the actual regularization of these employees entails the mechanical act of issuing regular appointment papers and compliance with such other operating procedures as may be adopted by the employer, it is more in keeping with the intent and spirit of the law to rule that the status of regular employment attaches to casual worker on the day immediately after the end of his first year of service. Owing to their length of service with the company, these workers become regular employees, by operation of law, one year after the were employed by KIMBERLY through RANK, While the actual regularization of these employees entails the mechanical act of issuing a regular appointment papers and compliance with such other operating procedures as may be adopted by the employer, it is more in keeping with the intent and spirit of the law to rule that the status of regular employment attaches to the casual worker on the day immediately after the end of his first year of service. To rule otherwise , and to instead make their regularization dependent on the happening of some contingency or the fulfillment of certain requirements, is to impose a burden on the employee which is not sanctioned by law. Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Certiorari; Basic is the rule that, in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, only questions of law may be raised, except, if the factual finding s of the appellate court are mistaken, absurd, speculative, conjectural, conflicting, tainted with grave abuse of discretion, or contrary to the findings culled by the court of origin, which is not so in the instant

case-the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the appellate court herein are uniform in their findings. As to KIMBERLYs assertions that some of the employees were already recalled, reassigned or replaced by the RANK Manpower Services, and that some did not return to work, the Court notes that these are questions of fact. Basic is the rule that, in petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, only question of law may be raised, except, if the factual findings of the appellate court are mistaken, absurd, speculative, conjectural, conflicting, tainted with grave abuse of discretion, or contrary to the findings culled by the court of origin, which is not so in the instant case. The DOLE and the appellate court herein are uniform in their findings. G.R. No. 164078 November 23, 2007 AMA COMPUTER COLLEGE, PARAAQUE, and/or AMABLE C. AGUILUZ IX, President, MRS. CELESTE BANSALE, School Director, MS. SOCORRO, MR. PATRICK AZANZA, GRACE BERANIA and MAJAL JACOB, petitioners, vs. ROLANDO A. AUSTRIA, respondent. Labor Law; Appeals; A disharmony between the factual findings of the Labor Arbiter and the National Labor Relations Commission opens the door to a review thereof by this Court. A disharmony between the factual findings of the Labor Arbiter and the National Labor Relations Commission opens the door to a review thereof by this Court. Factual findings of administrative agencies are not infallible and will be set aside when they fail the test of arbitrariness. Moreover, when the findings of the National Labor Relations Commission contradict those of the Labor Arbiter, this Court, in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction, may look into the records of the case and reexamine the questioned findings. Same; Labor Standards; Fixed-term Employment; Article 280 of the Labor Code does not proscribe or prohibit an employment contract with a fixed period. Even if the duties of the employee consist of activities necessary or desirable in the usual business of the employer, the parties are free to agree on a fixed period of time for the performance of such activities. We held that Article 280 of the Labor Code does not proscribe or prohibit an employment contract with a fixed period. Even if the duties of the employee consist of activities necessary or desirable in the usual business of the employer, the parties are free to agree on a fixed period of time for the performance of such activities. There is nothing essentially contradictory between a definite period of employment and the nature of the employee's duties. Same; Same; Same; In numerous cases decided by this Court, we had taken notice, that by way of practice and tradition, the position of dean is normally an employment for a fixed term. The letter of appointment was clear. Respondent was confirmed as Dean of AMA College, Paraaque, effective from April 17, 2000 to September 17, 2000. In numerous cases decided by this Court, we had taken notice, that by way of practice and tradition, the position of dean is normally an employment for a fixed term. Although it does not appear on record and neither was it alleged by any of the parties that respondent, other than holding the position of dean, concurrently occupied a teaching position, it can be deduced from the last paragraph of said letter that the respondent shall be considered for a faculty position in the event he gives up his deanship or fails to meet AMA's

standards. Such provision reasonably serves the intention set forth in Brent School that the deanship may be rotated among the other members of the faculty. Same; Same; Same; Other than the handwritten notes made in the letter of appointment, no evidence was ever presented to show that respondent's consent was vitiated, or that respondent objected to the said appointment or to any of its conditions. Furthermore, in his status as dean, there can be no valid inference that he was shackled by any form of moral dominance exercised by AMA and the rest of the petitioners. The fact that respondent voluntarily accepted the employment, assumed the position, and performed the functions of dean is clear indication that he knowingly and voluntarily consented to the terms and conditions of the appointment, including the fixed period of his deanship. Other than the handwritten notes made in the letter of appointment, no evidence was ever presented to show that respondent's consent was vitiated, or that respondent objected to the said appointment or to any of its conditions. Furthermore, in his status as dean, there can be no valid inference that he was shackled by any form of moral dominance exercised by AMA and the rest of the petitioners. Same; Same; Same; It is axiomatic that a contract of employment for a definite period terminates on its own force at the end of such period. The lack of notice of termination is of no consequence because when the contract specifies the length of its duration, it comes to an end upon the expiration of such period. The resolution of the second question requires full cognizance of respondent's fixed term of employment and all the effects thereof. It is axiomatic that a contract of employment for a definite period terminates on its own force at the end of such period. The lack of notice of termination is of no consequence because when the contract specifies the length of its duration, it comes to an end upon the expiration of such period. G.R. No. 167345 November 23, 2007 PACIFIC GLOBAL CONTACT CENTER, INC. and/or JOSE VICTOR SISON, petitioners, vs. MA. LOURDES CABANSAY, respondent. Remedial Law; Evidence; Substantial Evidence; Oft-repeated is the rule that appellate courts accord the factual finding of the labor tribunal not only respect but also finality when supported by substantial evidence. Oft-repeated is the rule that appellate courts accord the factual finding of the labor tribunal not only respect but also finality when supported by substantial evidence, unless there is showing that the labor tribunal arbitrarily disregarded evidence before them or misapprehended evidence of such nature as to compel a contrary conclusion if properly appreciated. Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Substantial evidence has been defined to be such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Substantial evidence has been defined to be such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, and its absence is shown not by stressing that there is contrary evidence on record, direct or circumstantial, for the appellate court cannot substitute its own judgment or criterion for that of the labor tribunal in determining wherein lies the weight of evidence or what evidence is entitled to belief.

Labor Law; Labor Relations; Willful Disobedience or Insubordination; Willful disobedience or insubordination necessitates the concurrence of at least two requisites: (1) the employee's assailed conduct must have been willful, that is, characterized by a wrongful and perverse attitude; and (2) the order violated must have been reasonable, lawful, made known to the employee and must pertain to the duties which he had been engaged to discharge. Willful disobedience or insubordination necessitates the concurrence of at least two requisites: (1) the employee's assailed conduct must have been willful, that is, characterized by a wrongful and perverse attitude; and (2) the order violated must have been reasonable, lawful, made known to the employee and must pertain to the duties which he had been engaged to discharge. On the other hand, loss of trust and confidence, to be a valid ground for dismissal, must be based on a willful breach of trust and founded on clearly established facts. A breach is willful if it is done intentionally, knowingly and purposely, without justifiable excuse, as distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently. It must rest on substantial grounds and not on the employer's arbitrariness, whims, caprices or suspicion; otherwise, the employee would eternally remain at the mercy of the employer. Loss of confidence must not also be indiscriminately used as a shield by the employer against a claim that the dismissal of an employee was arbitrary. And, in order to constitute a just cause for dismissal, the act complained of must be work-related and show that the employee concerned is unfit to continue working for the employer. Same; Same; Same; Any action in pursuit of the discretion thus opposed ceased to be discretionary and could be considered as willful disobedience. While respondent Cabansay was a managerial employee, a Senior Training Manager entrusted with the delicate matter of molding the minds and characters of call center agents and team leaders, and clothed with discretion to determine what was in the best interest of the company, her managerial discretion was not without limits. Its parameters were contained the moment her discretion was exercised and then opposed by the immediate superior officer/employer for being against the policies and welfare of the company. Hence, any action in pursuit of the discretion thus opposed ceased to be discretionary and could be considered as willful disobedience. Same; Same; Same; Application of the Doctrine of Trust and Confidence; Let it be stressed that insofar as the application of the doctrine of trust and confidence is concerned, jurisprudence has distinguished the treatment of managerial employees or employees occupying positions of trust and confidence from that of rank-and-file personnel. With respect to the latter, loss of trust and confidence as a ground for dismissal requires proof of involvement in the alleged events in question, but as regards managerial employees, the mere existence of a basis for believing that such employee has breached the trust of his employer would suffice for his or her dismissal. Let it be stressed that insofar as the application of the doctrine of trust and confidence is concerned, jurisprudence has distinguished the treatment of managerial employees or employees occupying positions of trust and confidence from that of rank-and-file personnel. With respect to the latter, loss of trust and confidence as a ground for dismissal requires proof of involvement in the alleged events in question, but as regards managerial employees, the mere existence of a basis for believing that such employee has breached the trust of his employer would suffice for his or her dismissal. For this purpose, there is no need to present proof

beyond reasonable doubt. It is sufficient that there is some basis for the loss of trust or that the employer has reasonable ground to believe that the employee is responsible for the misconduct which renders him unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded by his position. Respondent's conduct, in this case, is sufficient basis for the company to lose its trust and confidence in her. Under the circumstances, the company cannot be expected to retain its trust and confidence in and continue to employ a manager whose attitude is perceived to be inimical to its interests. Unlike other just causes for dismissal, trust in an employee, once lost, is difficult, if not impossible to regain. Constitutional Law; Due Process; Termination of Employment; Before the services of an employee can be validly terminated, the employer must furnish him with two written notices: (a) a written notice served on the employee specifying the ground or grounds for termination, and giving to said employee reasonable opportunity within which to explain his side; and, (b) a written notice of termination served on the employee indicating that upon due consideration of all the circumstances, grounds have been established to justify his termination. As to the respondent's argument that petitioners failed to comply with the requirements of statutory due process, we do not agree. Before the services of an employee can be validly terminated, the employer must furnish him with two written notices: (a) a written notice served on the employee specifying the ground or grounds for termination, and giving to said employee reasonable opportunity within which to explain his side; and, (b) a written notice of termination served on the employee indicating that upon due consideration of all the circumstances, grounds have been established to justify his termination.

Labor Standards; Termination Cases; Dismissals; Forum Shopping; In cases where the complaint for violation of labor standard laws preceded the termination of the employee filing the illegal dismissal case, it would not be in consonance with justice to charge the complainants with engaging in forum shopping when the remedy available to then at the time the cause of action arose was to file separate cases in different fora. Pertinent is our ruling in Consolidated Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Oberio, 524 SCRA 365 (2007), where we held , to wit; Under Article 217 of the Labor Code, termination cases fall under the jurisdiction of Labor Arbiters. Whereas, Article 128 of the same Code vests the Secretary of Labor or his duly authorized representatives with the power to inspect the employer's records to determine and compel compliance with labor standard laws. The exercise of the said power by the Secretary or his duly authorized representatives is exclusive to cases where employer-employee relationship still exists. Thus, in cases where the complaint for violation of labor standard laws preceded the termination of the employee and the filing of the illegal dismissal case, it would be not in consonance with justice to charge the complainants with engaging in forum shopping when the remedy available to them at the time their causes of action arose was to file separate cases before different fora.

GR No. 148132 January 28, 2008 SMART COMMUNICATIONS, INC., petitioner, vs. REGINA M. ASTORGA, respondent.

Actions; Provisional Remedies; Replevin; Words and Phrases; Replevin is an action whereby the owner or person entitled to repossession of goods or chattels may recover those goods or chattels from one who has wrongfully distrained or taken, or who wrongfully detains such goods or chattels; It is designed to permit one having right to possession to recover property in specie from one who has wrongfully taken or detained the property. The term may refer either to the action itself, for the recovery of personalty, or to the provisional remedy traditionally associated with it, by which possession of the property may be obtained by the plaintiff and retained during the pendency of the action. Replevin is an action whereby the owner or person entitled to repossession of goods or chattels may recover those goods or chattels from one who has wrongfully distrained or taken, or who wrongfully detains such goods or chattels. It is designed to permit one having right to possession to recover property in specie from one who has wrongfully taken or detained the property. The term may refer either to the action itself, for the recovery of personalty, or to the provisional remedy traditionally associated with it, by which possession of the property may be obtained by the plaintiff and retained during the pendency of the action. Same; Same; Same; Jurisdictions; Labor Law; An employers demand for payment of the market value of the car or, in the alternative, the surrender of the car, is not a labor, but a civil, dispute; A dispute which in involves the relationship of debtor and creditor rather than employee-employer relations. As such, the dispute falls within the jurisdiction of the regular courts. Contrary to the CA's ratiocination, the RTC rightfully assumed jurisdiction over the suit and acted well within its discretion in denying Astorga's motion to dismiss. SMART's demand for payment of the market value of the car or, in the alternative, the surrender of the car, is not a labor, but a civil, dispute. It involves the relationship of debtor and creditor rather than employee-employer relations. As such, the dispute falls within the jurisdiction of the regular courts. Labor Law; Termination of Employment; Redundancy; Management Prerogatives; Words and Phrases; Redundancy in an employer's personnel force necessarily or even ordinarily refers to duplication of work; A position is redundant where it is superfluous, and superfluity of a position or positions may be the outcome of a number of factors, such as overhiring of workers, decreased volume of business, or dropping of a particular product line or service activity previously manufactured or undertaken by the enterprise; The characterization of an employee's services as superfluous or no longer necessary and, therefore, properly terminable, is an exercise of business judgment on the part of the employer. The wisdom and soundness of such characterization or decision is not subject to discretionary review provided, of course, that a violation of law or arbitrary or malicious action is not shown. Astorga was terminated due to redundancy, which is one of the authorized causes for the dismissal of an employee. The nature of redundancy as an authorized cause for dismissal is explained in the leading case of Wiltshire File Co., Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, viz.:. . . redundancy in an employer's personnel force necessarily or even ordinarily refers to duplication of work. That no other person was holding the same position that private respondent held prior to termination of his services does not show that his position had not become redundant. Indeed, in any well organized business enterprise, it would be surprising to find duplication of work and two (2) or more people doing the work of one person. We believe that redundancy, for purposes of the Labor Code, exists where the services of an employee are in excess of what is reasonably demanded by the actual requirements of the enterprise. Succinctly put, a position is redundant where it is superfluous, and superfluity of a position or positions may be the outcome of a number of factors, such as overhiring of workers, decreased volume of business, or dropping of a particular product line or service activity previously manufactured or undertaken by the enterprise. The characterization of an employee's services as superfluous or no longer necessary and, therefore, properly terminable, is an exercise of business judgment on the part of the employer. The wisdom and soundness of such characterization or decision is not

subject to discretionary review provided, of course, that a violation of law or arbitrary or malicious action is not shown. Same; Same; Same; Due Process; The validity of termination can exist independently of the procedural infirmity of the dismissal. SMARTs assertion that Astorga cannot complain of lack of notice because the organizational realignment was made known to all the employees as early as February 1998 fails to persuade. Astorga's actual knowledge of the reorganization cannot replace the formal and written notice required by the law. In the written notice, the employees are informed of the specific date of the termination, at least a month prior to the effectivity of such termination, to give them sufficient time to find other suitable employment or to make whatever arrangements are needed to cushion the impact of termination. In this case, notwithstanding Astorga's knowledge of the reorganization, she remained uncertain about the status of her employment until SMART gave her formal notice of termination. But such notice was received by Astorga barely two (2) weeks before the effective date of termination, a period very much shorter than that required by law. Be that as it may, this procedural infirmity would not render the termination of Astorga's employment illegal. The validity of termination can exist independently of the procedural infirmity of the dismissal. In DAP Corporation v. CA, we found the dismissal of the employees therein valid and for authorized cause even if the employer failed to comply with the notice requirement under Article 283 of the Labor Code. This Court upheld the dismissal, but held the employer liable for non-compliance with the procedural requirements.

Labor Law; Corporation Law; Corporate directors and officers are solidarily liable with the corporation for the termination of employees done with malice or bad faith. In Malayang Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa M. Greenfield v. Ramos, 357 SCRA 77 (2001) his Court reiterated the rule that corporate directors and officers are solidarily liable with the corporation for the termination of employees done with malice or bad faith. It has been held that bad faith does not connote bad judgment or negligence; it imports a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of wrong; it means breach of a known duty through some motive or interest or ill will; it partakes of the nature of fraud.

GR No. 177948 March 14, 2008 FLOURISH MARITIME SHIPPING and LOLITA UY, petitioners, vs. DONATO A. ALMANZOR, respondent.

Labor Law; Appeals; Judicial review by the Supreme Court does not extend to a reevaluation of the sufficiency of the evidence upon which the proper labor tribunal has based its determination. We reiterate the dictum that this Court is not a trier of facts, and this doctrine applies with greater force in labor cases. Factual questions are for the labor tribunals to resolve. In this case, the factual issues were resolved by the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. Their findings were affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Judicial review by this Court does not extend to the reevaluation of the sufficiency of the evidence upon which the proper labor tribunal has based its determination. Same; Overseas Filipino Workers; Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (R.A. No. 8042); The choice of which amount to award an illegally dismissed overseas contract worker, i.e., whether his salaries for the unexpired portion of his employment contract, or three (3) months salary for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is less, comes into play only when the employment contract concerned has a term of at least one (1) year or more. The correct interpretation of this provision was settled in Marasaman Manning Agency, Inc. vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 313 SCRA 88 (1999), where this Court held that the choice of which amount to

award an illegally dismissed overseas contract worker, i.e., whether his salaries for the unexpired portion of this employment contract, or three (3) months salary for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is less, comes into play only when the employment contract concerned has a term of at least one 91) year or more. The employment contract involved in the instant case covers a two-year period but the overseas contract worker actually worked for only 26 days prior to his illegal dismissal. Thus, the three months salary rule applies.

GR No. 168862 April 30, 2008 GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM (GSIS), petitioner, vs. EMMANUEL P. CUNTAPAY, respondent.

Labor Law; Employees Compensation; Requisites for a Sickness to be Compensable. For a sickness to be compensable, the claimant must prove either (1) that the sickness is the result of an occupational disease listed under the Rules on Employees Compensation and the conditions set therein are satisfied; or (2) that the risk of contracting the disease was increased by the claimants working condition. Same; Same; Cardio-vascular or heart disease included in the list of occupational diseases; Conditions under which they are considered Work-Related. ECC Resolution No. 432 dated July 20, 1977 includes cardio-vascular or heart disease in the list of occupational diseases and enumerates the conditions under which they are considered work-related and, thus, compensable, viz.: (a) If the heart disease was known to have been present during employment, there must be proof that an acute exacerbation was clearly precipitated by the unusual strain by reasons of the nature of his/her work. (b) The strain of work that brings about an acute attack must be of sufficient severity and must be followed within 24 hours by the clinical signs of a cardiac [injury] to constitute causal relationship. (c) If a person who has apparently asymptomatic before being subjected to the strain at work showed signs and symptoms of cardiac injury during the performance of his/her work and such symptoms and signs persisted, it is reasonable to claim a causal relationship. Same; Same; To successfully recover compensation for his heart ailment, the respondent must therefore prove, through substantial evidence, that the risk of contracting the disease was increased by the nature if his work and working conditions. To successfully recover compensation for his heart ailment, the respondent must therefore prove, through substantial evidence, that the risk of contracting the disease was increased by the nature if his work and working conditions. Thus, the respondent posit that the underlying cause of his illness is stress caused by the performance of is numerous duties as Chief of the Architectural Division of the Bureau of Designs and as representative to different committees. To show how stressful his work was, he submitted in evidence minutes of the meetings that he attended since January 2000. The petitioner disputes this allegation on the ground that, based on respondents diagnostics test result which showed that he had a high cholesterol level, the cause of the heart attack was, hypercholesterolemia the main cause of atherosclerosis resulting in coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction. Same; Same; A physicians report would have been the best evidence of work-connection of workmens ailments. The record is devoid of any medical information in the cause of respondents acute myocardial infarction which could help the court determine whether there was a causal link between the respondents allegedly stressful work and his ailment. A physicians report would have been the best evidence of work-connection of workmens ailments. Medical evidence is particularly vital where the causal connection is not clearly apparent to an ordinary person or readily observable or discoverable without medical examination for it is not our task to determine where the connection lies. Same; Same; What the law requires is a reasonable work connection and not a direct causal relation; Probability, not the ultimate degree of certainty, is the test of proof in compensation proceedings. The claimant must show, at least, by substantial evidence that the development of the disease was brought about largely by the conditions present in the nature of the job. What the law requires is a reasonable work connection and not a direct causal relation. It is enough that the hypothesis on which the workmens claim is based is probable. Probability, not the ultimate degree of certainty, is the test of proof in compensation proceedings. And probability must be reasonable;

hence, it should, at least, be anchored on credible information. Moreover, a mere possibility will not suffice; a claim will fail if there is only a possibility that the employment caused the disease.

GR No. 170112 April 30, 2008 DEL PILAR ACADEMY, EDUARDO ESPEJO and ELISEO OCAMPO, JR., petitioners, vs. DEL PILAR ACADEMY EMPLOYEES UNION, respondent.

Labor Law; Labor Unions; The collection of agency fees in an amount equivalent to union dues and fees, from employees who are not union members, is recognized by Article 248 (e) of the Labor Code. The collection of agency fees in an amount equivalent to union dues and fees, from employees who are not union members, is recognized by Article 248 (e) of the Labor Code, thus: Employees of an appropriate collective bargaining unit who are not members of the recognized collective bargaining agent may be assessed reasonable fees equivalent to the dues and other fees paid by the recognized collective bargaining agent, if such non-union members accept the benefits under the collective bargaining agreement. Provided, That the individual authorization required under Article 241, paragraph (o) of this Code shall not apply to the non-members of recognized collective bargaining agent. Same; Same; When so stipulated in a collective bargaining agreement or authorized in writing by the employees concerned, the Labor Code and its Implementing Rules recognize it to be the duty of the employer to deduct the sum equivalent to the amount of union dues, as agency fees, from the employees' wages for direct remittance to the union. When so stipulated in a collective bargaining agreement or authorized in writing by the employees concerned, the Labor Code and its Implementing Rules recognize it to be the duty of the employer to deduct the sum equivalent to the amount of union dues, as agency fees, from the employees' wages for direct remittance to the union. The system is referred to as check off. 11 No requirement of written authorization from the non-union employees is necessary if the non-union employees accept the benefits resulting from the CBA. Same; Same; No requirement of written authorization from the non-union employees is needed to effect a valid check off. No requirement of written authorization from the non-union employees is needed to effect a valid check off. Article 248 (e) makes it explicit that Article 241, paragraph (o), 14 requiring written authorization is inapplicable to non-union members, especially in this case where the non-union employees receive several benefits under the CBA.

GR No. 178236 June 27, 2008 OLIGARIO SALAS, petitioner, vs. ABOITIZ ONE, INC., and SABIN ABOITIZ, respondents. Labor Law; Illegal Dismissals; Gross Negligence; Words and Phrases; Gross negligence connotes want or absence of or failure to exercise slight care or diligence, or the entire absence of care it evinces a thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid them. As stated in the decision notice, Salas was terminated for neglect of duty and willful breach of trust. Gross negligence connotes want or absence of or failure to exercise slight care or diligence, or the entire absence of care. It evinces a thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid them. To warrant removal from service, the negligence should not merely be gross, but also habitual. Undoubtedly, it was Salas duty, as material controller, to monitor and maintain the availability and supply of Quickbox needed by Aboitiz in its day-to-day operations, and on June 4, 2003, Aboitiz had runout of Large Quickbox. However, records show that Salas made a requisition for Quickbox as early as May 21, 2003; that he made several follow-ups with Eric Saclamitao regarding the request; and that he even talked to the supplier to facilitate the immediate delivery of the Quickbox. It cannot be gainsaid that Salas exerted efforts to avoid a stock out of Quickbox. Accordingly, he cannot be held liable for gross negligence. If there is anything that Salas can be faulted for, it is his failure to promptly inform his immediate supervisor, Mr. Ed Dumago, of the non-delivery of the requisitioned items. Nevertheless, such failure did not amount to gross neglect of duty or to willful breach of trust, which would justify his dismissal from service.

Same; Same; Loss of Trust and Confidence; There appears nothing to suggest that the position of a material controller tasked with monitoring and maintaining the availability and supply of Quickbox is a highly or even primarily confidential position. Salas as material controller was tasked with monitoring and maintaining the availability and supply of Quickbox. There appears nothing to suggest that Salas position was a highly or even primarily confidential position, so that he can be removed for loss of trust and confidence by the employer. Notable, in Manila Memorial Park Cemetery, Inc. v. Panado, 490 SCRA 751 (2006), we held that: [T]he term trust and confidence is restricted to managerial employees or those who are vested with powers or prerogatives to lay down and execute management policies and/or hire transfer, suspend, lay-off, recall, discharge assign or discipline employees or to effectively recommend such managerial actions. Same; Same; Same; A breach is willful if it is done intentionally, knowingly and purposely, without justifiable excuse, as distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently it must rest on substantial grounds and not on the employers arbitrariness, whims, caprices or suspicion; otherwise, the employee would eternally remain at the mercy of the employer. An employer has the right, under the law, to dismiss an employee based on fraud or willful breach of the trust bestowed upon him by his employer or the latters authorized representative. However, the loss of trust must be based not on ordinary breach but, in the language of Article 282(c) of the Labor Code, on willful breach. A breach is willful if it is done intentionally, knowingly and purposely, without justifiable excuse, as distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently. It must rest on substantial grounds and not on the employers arbitrariness, whims, caprices or suspicion; otherwise, the employee would eternally remain at the mercy of the employer. It should be genuine and not simulated; nor should it appear as a mere afterthought to justify an earlier action taken in bad faith or a subterfuge for causes, which are improper, illegal or unjustified. It has never been intended to afford an occasion for abuse because of its subjective nature. There must, therefore, be an actual breach of duty committed by the employee, which must be established by substantial evidence. In this case, Aboitiz utterly failed to establish the requirements prescribed by law and jurisprudence for a valid dismissal on the ground of breach of trust and confidence. Same; Same; The correct rule has always been that such previous offenses may be used as valid justification for dismissal from work only if the infractions are related to the subsequent offense upon which the basis of termination is decreed. Aboitizs reliance on the past offenses of Salas for his eventual dismissal is likewise unavailing. The correct rule has always been that such previous offenses may be used as valid justification for dismissal from work only if the infractions are related to the subsequent offence upon which the basis of termination is decreed. While it is true that Salas had been suspended on June 1, 2000 for failure to meet the security requirements of the company, and then on July 20, 2001 for his failure to assist in the loading at the fuel depot, these offenses are not related to Salas latest infraction, hence, cannot be used as added justification for the dismissal. Same; Same; Where an employee has already suffered the corresponding penalties for prior infractions, to consider the same offenses as justification for his dismissal would be penalizing the employee twice for the same offense. Salas has already suffered the corresponding penalties for these prior infractions. Thus, to consider these offenses as justification for his dismissal would be penalizing Salas twice for the same offense. As the Court ruled in Pepsi-Cola Distributors of the Philippines, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 272 SCRA 267 (1997) and recently in Coca-Cola Bottlers, Philippines, Inc. v. Kapisanan ng Malayang Manggagawa sa Coca Cola-FFW, 452 SCRA 480 (2005): Moreover, private respondent was already penalized with suspensions in some of the infractions imputed to him in this case, like sleeping while on route rides, incomplete accomplishment of sales report and his failure to achieve sales commitments. He cannot again be penalized for those misconduct. The foregoing acts cannot be added to support the imposition of the ultimate penalty of dismissal which must be based on clear and not on ambiguous and ambivalent ground. Same; Same; Backwages: The award of backwages may be limited where the employee was not entirely faultless. No just cause exists to warrant Salas dismissal. Consequently, he is entitled to reinstatement to his former position without loss of seniority rights, and to payment of backwages. However, we limit the award of backwages because we find that Salas was not entirely faultless. As earlier adverted to, Salas failed to promptly inform his immediate superior of the non-delivery of the requisitioned items. Had Salas promptly informed Ed Dumago for the nondelivery, the incident complained of would have been avoided. Although such negligence would not justify Salas termination from employment in view of the stringent condition imposed by the Labor Code on termination of employment due to gross and habitual neglect, the same cannot be condoned, much less tolerated. In PLDT v. National Labor Relations Commissions, 303 SCRA 9 (1999), this Court sustained the award of backwages in favor

of an employee who was found not to be entirely faultless, but only from the date of the NLRCs promulgation of the decision.

GR No. 160905 July 4, 2008 BIENVENIDO D. GOMA, petitioner, vs. PAMPLONA PLANTATION INCORPORATED, respondent.

Labor law; Classification of Regular Employees; Regular employees are classified into: regular employees by nature of w nature of work; and regular employees by years of service. As can be gleaned from this provision, there are two kinds of regular employees, namely: (1) those who are engaged to perform activities which are usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer; and (2) those who have rendered at least one year of service, whether continuous or broken, with respect to the activity in which they are employed. Simply stated, regular employees are classified into: regular employees by nature of work; and regular employees by years of service. The former refers to those employees who perform a particular activity which is necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer, regardless of their length of service; while the latter refers to those employees who have been performing the job for at least a year. If the employee has been performing the job for at least one year, even if the performance is not continuous or merely intermittent, the law deems the repeated and continuing need for its performance as sufficient evidence of the necessity, if not indispensability, of that activity to the business. Same; Same; Owing to his length of service, petitioner became a regular employee, by operation of law. Respondent is engaged in the management of the Pamplona Plantation as well as in the operation of tourist resorts, hotels, inns, restaurants, etc. Petitioner, on the other hand, was engaged to perform carpentry work. His services were needed for a period of two years until such time that the respondent decided not to give him work assignment anymore. Owing to his length of service, petitioner became a regular employee, by operation of law. Same; Project Employee; A project employee is a assigned to a project which begins and ends at determined or determinable times. A project employee is assigned to carry out a specific project or undertaking the duration and scope of which are specified at the time the employee is engaged in the project. A project is a job or undertaking which is distinct, separate and identifiable from the usual or regular undertakings of the company. A project employee is assigned to a project which begins and ends at determined or determinable times. Same; Same; The principal test used to determine whether employees are project employees as distinguished from regular employees is whether or not that employees were assigned to carry out a specific project or undertaking, the duration or scope of which was specified at the time the employees were engaged for that project. The principal test used to determine whether employees are project employees as distinguished from regular employees, is whether or not the employees were assigned to carry out a specific project or undertaking, the duration or scope of which was specified at the time the employees were engaged for that project. In this case, apart from respondents bare allegation that petitioner was a project employee, it had not shown that petitioner was informed that he would be assigned to a specific project or undertaking. Neither was it established that he was informed of the duration and scope of such project of undertaking at the time of his engagement. Same; Same; Respondents failure to file termination reports, particularly on the cessation of petitioners employment, was an indication that the petitioner was not a project but a regular employee. Respondent did not report the termination of petitioners supposed project employment to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Department Order No. 19 (as well as the old Policy Instructions No. 20) requires employers to submit a report of an employees termination to the nearest public employment office every time the employment is terminated due to a completion of a project. Respondents failure to file termination reports, particularly on the cessation of petitioners employment, was an indication that the petitioner was not a project but a regular employee. Same; Regular Employees Security of Tenure Regular employees enjoy security of tenure and the can only be dismissed for just cause and with due process, i.e., after notice and hearing. Well-established is the rule that regular employees enjoy security of tenure and they can only be dismissed for just cause and with due process, i.e.,

after notice and hearing. In cases involving an employees dismissal, the burden is on the employer to probe that the dismissal was legal. This burden was not amply discharged by the respondent in this case.

GR No. 151227 July 14, 2008 GREGORIO S. SABEROLA, petitioner, vs. RONALD SUAREZ and RAYMUNDO LIRASAN, JR., respondents.

Labor Law; Project Employees; Electrical Contractors; An electrical contractors business depends on the contracts that he is able to obtain from real estate developers and builders of buildings, thus, the work provided by an electrical contractor depends on the availability of such contracts or project and duration of the employment of his work force is not permanent but coterminous with the projects to which the workers are assigned. Petitioners business, specializing in installing electrical devices, needs electricians only when there are electrical devices to be installed in subdivision homes or buildings covered by an appropriate contract. Petitioner, as an electrical contractor, depends for his business on the contracts that he is able to obtain from real estate developers and builders of buildings. Thus, the work provided by petitioner depends on the availability of such contracts or projects. The duration of the employment of his work force is not permanent but coterminous with the projects tow which the workers are assigned. Viewed in this context, the respondents are considered as project employees of petitioner. Indeed, the status of respondents as project employees was upheld by the Court of Appeals based on the findings of facts of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. Same; Same; Security of Tenure; Words and Phrases; Project Employee Defined; Project employees enjoy tenure-such an employee may only be terminated for just or authorized causes that must comply with the due process requirements mandated by law. A project employee is one whose "employment has been fixed for a specific project or undertaking, the completion or termination of which has been determined at the time of the engagement of the employee or where the work or service to be performed is seasonal in nature and the employment is for the duration of the season." However, respondents, even if working as project employees, enjoy security of tenure. Section 3, Article XIII, of the Constitution guarantees the right of workers to security of tenure, and because of this, an employee may only be terminated for just or authorized causes that must comply with the due process requirements mandated by law. Same; Same; Same Termination of Employment; The employment of a project worker hired for a specific phase of a construction project is understood to be coterminous with the completion of such phase and not upon the accomplishment of the whole project, and a worker hired for a particular phase of a construction project can be dismissed upon the completion of such phase. In Archbuild Masters and Construction, Inc. v. NLRC, we held that the employment of a project worker hired for a specific phase of a construction project is understood to be coterminous with the completion of such phase and not upon the accomplishment of the whole project. A worker hired for a particular phase of a construction project can be dismissed upon the completion of such phase. Project workers in the construction industry may also be terminated as the phase of a construction project draws nearer to completion when their services are no longer needed, provided they are not replaced. Same; Same; Same; Same; A project employee must be furnished a written notice of his impending dismissal and must be given the opportunity to dispute the legality of his removal; Employers who hire project employees are mandated to state and prove the accrual basis for the employees dismissal once its veracity is challenged. In this regard, we hold that respondent Suarez was illegally terminated by petitioner. A project employee must be furnished a written notice of his impending dismissal and must be given the opportunity to dispute the legality of his removal. In termination cases, the burden of proof rests on the employer to show that the dismissal was for a just or authorized cause. Employers who hire project employees are mandated to state and prove the actual basis for the employees dismissal once its veracity is challenged. Same; Same; Monetary Claims; Burden of Proof; The employer has the burden of proving that the rate of pay given to his employees is in accordance with minimum fixed by law and that he paid thirteenth month pay, service incentive leave pay and other monetary claims; When the existence of a debt is fully established by the evidence contained in the record, the burden of proving that it has been extinguished by payment devolves upon the debtor who invokes such a defense against the claim of the creditor; The burden of proving payment of the monetary claims

rests on the employer-the pertinent personal files, payrolls, records, remittances and other similar documents that would show that the claims have been paid are not in the possession of the worker but in the custody and absolute control of the employer. As to respondents monetary claims, we uphold the findings of the NLRC. As employer, the petitioner has the burden of proving that the rate of pay given to the respondents is in accordance with the minimum fixed by the law and that he paid thirteenth month pay, service incentive leave pay and other monetary claims. We have consistently held that as a rule, one who pleads payment has the burden of proving it. Even when the plaintiff alleges non-payment, still the general rule is that the burden rests on the defendant to prove payment, rather than on the plaintiff to prove non-payment. The debtor has the burden of showing with legal certainty that the obligation has been discharged by payment. When the existence of a debt is fully established by the evidence contained in the record, the burden of proving that it has been extinguished by payment devolves upon the debtor who invokes such a defense against the claim of the creditor. When the debtor introduces some evidence of payment, the burden of going forward with the evidence as distinct from the general burden of proof shifts to the creditor, who is then under a duty of producing some evidence to show non-payment. In the instant case, the burden of proving payment of the monetary claims rests on petitioner, being the employer of respondents. This is because the pertinent personnel files, payrolls, records, remittances and other similar documents that would show that the claims have been paid are not in the possession of the worker but in the custody and absolute control of the employer. Sadly, the petitioner failed to do so.

GR No. 160965 July 21, 2008 PHILIPPINE NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. MARIA NYMPHA MANDAGAN, respondent. Labor Laws; Dismissals; Termination of Employment; A dismissed employee is not required to prove his innocence of the charges leveled against him by his employer. In termination cases, the burden of proof rests upon the employer to show that the dismissal of the employee is for just or authorized cause. Failure to do so would mean that the dismissal is not justified. This is consonant with the guarantee of security of tenure in the Constitution and reiterated in the Labor Code. A dismissed employee is not required to prove his innocence of the charges leveled against him by his employer. Likewise, the determination of the existence and sufficiency of a just cause is to be exercised with fairness and in good faith and after observing due process. Labor Laws; Dismissals; Termination of Employment; Loss of Trust and Confidence; Managerial Employees; Long recognized is the right of the employers to dismiss employees by reason of loss of trust and confidence, particularly in cases of personnel occupying positions of responsibility. The burden of proof required in labor cases, however, must be amply discharged. Long recognized is the right of employers to dismiss employees by reason of loss of trust and confidence, particularly in cases of personnel occupying positions of responsibility. The burden of proof required in labor cases, however, must be amply discharged. Ordinarily, with respect to managerial employees, the mere existence of a basis for believing that such employee has breached the trust of his employer would be enough, such as when there is a reasonable ground to believe that the employee concerned is responsible for the purported misconduct, and the nature of his participation therein renders him unworthy of trust and confidence demanded by his position. Same; Same; Same; Same; Loss of trust and confidence must rest on substantial grounds and not on the employers arbitrariness, whims, caprices or suspicion, otherwise, the employee would forever remain at the mercy of the employer. We must stress herein that to be a valid ground for dismissal, the loss of trust and confidence must be based on a willful breach of trust and founded on clearly established facts. A breach is willful if it is done intentionally, knowingly and purposely, without justifiable excuse, as distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently. Loss of trust and confidence must rest on substantial grounds and not on the employer's arbitrariness, whims, caprices or suspicion, otherwise, the employee would forever remain at the mercy of the employer. The employer, thus, carries the burden of clearly and convincingly establishing the facts upon which loss of confidence in the employee is made to rest. Loss of trust and confidence as a ground of dismissal

has never been intended to afford an occasion for abuse because of its subjective nature. It should not be used as a subterfuge for causes which are illegal, improper, and unjustified. It must be genuine, not a mere afterthought intended to justify an earlier action taken in bad faith. Let it not be forgotten that what is at stake is the means of livelihood, the name, and the reputation of the employee. To countenance an arbitrary exercise of that prerogative is to negate the employee's constitutional right to security of tenure.

GR No. 177576 July 21, 2008 UNIVERSAL STAFFING SERVICES, INC., petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and GRACE M. MORALES, * respondents.

Labor L aw; Dismissals; Termination of Employment; Under Art 282 of the Labor Code; an unsatisfactory rating can be a just cause for dismissal only if it amounts to gross and habitual neglect of duties. Morales was dismissed for her alleged poor performance. As a general concept, poor performance is equivalent to inefficiency and incomplete in the performance of their duties. Under this article 282 of the Labor Code, an unsatisfactory rating can be a just cause for dismissal only if it amounts to gross and habitual neglect of duties. Thus, the fact that an employees performance is found to be poor or unsatisfactory does not necessarily mean that the employee is grossly and habitually negligent of his duties. Gross negligence implies a want or absence of or failure to exercise slight care or diligence; or the entire absence of care. It evinces a thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid them. Same; Dismissals; The principle echoed and re-echoed in jurisprudence is that the onus of proving that the employee was dismissed for a just cause rests on the employer, and the latters failure to discharge that burden would result in finding that the dismissal is unjustified. The principle echoed and re-echoed in jurisprudence is that the onus of proving that the employee was dismissed for a just cause rests on the employer, and the latters failure to discharge that burden would result in a finding that the dismissal is unjustified. Same; Same; Under Article 277(b) of the Labor Code, the employer must send the employee who is about to be terminated, a written notice stating the counsels for termination and must give the employee the opportunity to be heard and to defend himself. Morales was not accorded due process. Under Art 277(b) of the Labor Code, the employer must send the employee who is about to be terminated, a written notice stating the cause/s for termination and must give the employee the opportunity to be heard and to defend himself. There was no showing that Al Sandos warned Morales of her alleged poor performance. Likewise, Morales was not served the first notice apprising her of the particular acts or omissions on which her dismissal was based together with the opportunity to explain her side. The only notice given to Morales was the letter dated Dec 14, 2002 informing her that she was already terminated. Appeals; Jurisdiction; It is a well-settled procedural rule in this jurisdiction, and we see no reason why it should not apply in this case, that an appellee who has not himself appealed cannot obtain from the appellate court any affirmative relief other than those granted in the decision of the court below. As we explained in SMI Fish Industries, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 213 SCRA 444 (1992): It is well settled procedural rule in this jurisdiction, and we see no reason why it should not apply in this case, that appellate court any affirmative relief other than those granted in the decision of the court below. The appellee can only advance any argument that he may be necessary to defeat the appellants claim or to uphold the decision that is being disputed. He can assign errors on appeal if such is required to strengthen the views expressed the court a quo. Such assigned errors, in turn, may be considered by the appellate court solely to maintain the appealed decision on other grounds, but not for the purpose of modifying the judgment in the appellees favour and giving him other affirmative reliefs. Same; Termination of Employment; Quitclaims; Waivers; Deeds of release; Generally, deeds of release, waivers, or quitclaims cannot bar employees from demanding benefits to which they are legally entitled or from contesting the legality of their dismissal, since quitclaims are looked upon which disfavour are frowned upon as contrary to public policy. USSI cannot take refuge in the final settlement signed by Morales on Jan 1, 2003 to escape liability. Generally, deeds of release, waivers, or quitclaims cannot bar employees from the benefits to which they are legally entitled or from contesting the legality of their dismissal, since quitclaims are looked upon with disfavour and are

frowned upon as contrary to public policy. Where, however, the person making the waiver has done so voluntarily, with a full understanding thereof, and the consideration for the quitclaim is credible and reasonable, the transaction must be recognized as a valid and binding undertaking. The burden of proving that the quitclaim or waiver was voluntarily entered into rests on the employer. Same; Same; Same; Same; The mere fact that Morales was not physically coerced or intimidated does not necessarily imply that she freely and voluntarily consented to the terms of the final settlement. Unfortunately for USSI, it again failed to discharge this burden. Other than its barefaced assertion, no evidence was presented to establish that Morales voluntarily signed the final settlement. The mere fact that Morales was not physically coerced or intimidated does not necessarily imply that she freely and voluntarily consented to the terms of the final settlement.

GR No. 150488 July 28, 2008 SIEMENS PHILIPPINES, INC. and MR. ERNST H. BEHRENS, petitioners, vs. ENRICO A. DOMINGO, respondent. Labor Law; Constructive Dismissals; A diminution of pay is prejudicial to the employee and amounts to constructive dismissal; Definition of Constructive Dismissal; An employee who is forced to surrender his position through the employer's unfair or unreasonable acts is deemed to have been illegally terminated and such termination is deemed to be involuntary. A diminution of pay is prejudicial to the employee and amounts to constructive dismissal. The gauge for constructive dismissal is whether a reasonable person in the employee's position would feel compelled to give up his employment under the prevailing circumstances. Constructive dismissal is defined as quitting when continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely as the offer of employment involves a demotion in rank or diminution in pay. It exists when the resignation on the part of the employee was involuntary due to the harsh, hostile and unfavorable conditions set by the employer. It is brought about by the clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain shown by an employer which becomes unbearable to the employee. An employee who is forced to surrender his position through the employer's unfair or unreasonable acts is deemed to have been illegally terminated and such termination is deemed to be involuntary. Same; Same; Ordinarily, when there is constructive dismissal, which is a form of illegal dismissal, the employer is liable for the full amount of backwages. Ordinarily, when there is constructive dismissal, which is a form of illegal dismissal, the employer is liable for the full amount of backwages, if reinstatement is no longer possible, and separation pay. In the case at bar, we cannot hold Siemens Philippines liable for the monetary obligations of Siemens Germany. The circumstances surrounding this case necessitate a different treatment in the award of backwages and separation pay, since the companies involved are separate and distinct from each other. However, by Siemens Philippines' failure to work for the renewal of Domingo's consultancy contract with Siemens Germany, Siemens Philippines may be held answerable in damages to Domingo. Same; Same; The two reliefs granted to illegally or constructively dismissed employee are separate and distinct from each other and are awarded conjunctively. An illegally or constructively dismissed employee is entitled to: (1) either reinstatement, if viable, or separation pay if reinstatement is no longer viable; and (2) backwages. These two reliefs are separate and distinct from each other and are awarded conjunctively. Same; Same; As a rule, separation pay is awarded to an illegally dismissed employee, computed at the rate of one month pay per year of service. As a rule, separation pay is awarded to an illegally dismissed employee, computed at the rate of one month pay per year of service. Accordingly, the LA decision granting separation pay equivalent to two months salary per year of service must be modified. There is nothing on record that even remotely suggests that it is the company policy of Siemens Philippines to grant its employees separation pay of two months' salary for every year of service. Thus, in consonance with our previous rulings, Domingo shall be awarded separation pay in the amount of one month pay for every year of service, but consultancy fees shall not be included in the computation of his separation pay. Same; Same; The backwages that should be awarded to Domingo shall be reckoned from the time his constructive dismissal took effect until the finality of this decision. The backwages that should be awarded to Domingo shall be

reckoned from the time his constructive dismissal took effect until the finality of this decision. This is in conformity with Article 279 of the Labor Code which provides that an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent, computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement. Since reinstatement of Domingo is no longer possible due to his strained relations with the management of Siemens Philippines, and considering the position he held in the company, he is lawfully entitled to receive backwages.

GR No. 156644 July 28, 2008 UNIVERSAL ROBINA SUGAR MILLING CORPORATION (URSUMCO) and/or RENATO CABATI, as Manager, petitioners, vs. AGRIPINO CABALLEDA and ALEJANDRO CADALIN, respondents.

Labor Law; Retirement; Republic Act No. 7641; Termination of Employment; Requirements; There should be little doubt about the fact that R.A. 7641 can apply to labor contracts still existing at the time the statute has taken effect, and that its benefits can be reckoned not only from the date of the law's enactment but retroactively to the time said employment contracts have started. The issue of the retroactive effect of R.A. 7641 on prior existing employment contracts has long been settled. In Enriquez Security Services, Inc. v. Cabotaje, 496 SCRA 169, 173-174 (2006), we held: RA 7641 is undoubtedly a social legislation. The law has been enacted as a labor protection measure and as a curative statute that absent a retirement plan devised by, an agreement with, or a voluntary grant from, an employer can respond, in part at least, to the financial well-being of workers during their twilight years soon following their life of labor. There should be little doubt about the fact that the law can apply to labor contracts still existing at the time the statute has taken effect, and that its benefits can be reckoned not only from the date of the law's enactment but retroactively to the time said employment contracts have started. This doctrine has been repeatedly upheld and clarified in several cases. Pursuant thereto, this Court imposed two (2) essential requisites in order that R.A. 7641 may be given retroactive effect: (1) the claimant for retirement benefits was still in the employ of the employer at the time the statute took effect; and (2) the claimant had complied with the requirements for eligibility for such retirement benefits under the statute. Same; Certiorari; It is a well-established rule that a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court should raise only questions of law, subject to certain exceptions; Whether or not Agripino was a seasonal/project employee or a regular employee is a question of fact. It is a well-established rule that a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court should raise only questions of law, subject to certain exceptions. Whether or not Agripino was a seasonal/project employee or a regular employee is a question of fact. As such, this Court is not at liberty to review the said factual issue because our jurisdiction is generally limited to reviewing errors of law that the CA may have committed. Time and again, we have held that this Court is not a trier of facts, and it is not for us to re-examine and re-evaluate the probative value of evidence presented before the LA, the NLRC and the CA, which formed the basis of the assailed decision. Indeed, when their findings are in absolute agreement, the same are accorded not only respect but even finality as long as they are amply supported by substantial evidence. Retirement; Termination of Employment; The age of retirement is primarily determined by the existing agreement between the employer and the employees, but in the absence of such agreement, the retirement age shall be fixed by law. Retirement is the result of a bilateral act of the parties, a voluntary agreement between the employer and the employee whereby the latter, after reaching a certain age, agrees to sever his or her employment with the former. The age of retirement is primarily determined by the existing agreement between the employer and the employees. However, in the absence of such agreement, the retirement age shall be fixed by law. Under Art. 287 of the Labor Code as amended, the legally mandated age for compulsory retirement is 65 years, while the set minimum age for optional retirement is 60 years. Same; Same; In the absence of any provision on optional retirement in a collective bargaining agreement, other employment contract, or employer's retirement plan, an employee may optionally retire upon reaching the age of 60 years or more, but not beyond 65 years, provided he has served at least five years in the establishment concerned. In this case, it may be stressed that the CBA does not per se specifically provide for the compulsory retirement age

nor does it provide for an optional retirement plan. It merely provides that the retirement benefits accorded to an employee shall be in accordance with law. Thus, we must apply Art. 287 of the Labor Code which provides for two types of retirement: (a) compulsory and (b) optional. The first takes place at age 65, while the second is primarily determined by the collective bargaining agreement or other employment contract or employer's retirement plan. In the absence of any provision on optional retirement in a collective bargaining agreement, other employment contract, or employer's retirement plan, an employee may optionally retire upon reaching the age of 60 years or more, but not beyond 65 years, provided he has served at least five years in the establishment concerned. That prerogative is exclusively lodged in the employee. Quitclaims; Generally, the law looks with disfavor on quitclaims and releases by employees who have been inveigled or pressured into signing them by unscrupulous employers seeking to evade their legal responsibilities and frustrate just claims of employees. The law looks with disfavor on quitclaims and releases by employees who have been inveigled or pressured into signing them by unscrupulous employers seeking to evade their legal responsibilities and frustrate just claims of employees. They are frowned upon as contrary to public policy. A quitclaim is ineffective in barring recovery of the full measure of a worker's rights, and the acceptance of benefits therefrom does not amount to estoppel. Same; When Quitclaims Valid; Requisites. In exceptional cases, the Court has accepted the validity of quitclaims executed by employees if the employer is able to prove the following requisites: (1) the employee executes a deed of quitclaim voluntarily; (2) there is no fraud or deceit on the part of any of the parties; (3) the consideration of the quitclaim is credible and reasonable; and (4) the contract is not contrary to law, public order, public policy, morals or good customs or prejudicial to a third person with a right recognized by law. In this case, petitioners failed to establish all the foregoing requisites. Same; Burden of Proof; It is the employer, not the employee who has the burden of proving that a quitclaim was voluntarily entered into; There is no nexus between intelligence, or even the position which the employee held in the company when it concerns the pressure which the employer may exert upon the free will of the employee who is asked to sign a release and quitclaim. The petitioners, not the respondents, have the burden of proving that the quitclaim was voluntarily entered into. In previous cases, we have considered, among others, the educational attainment of the employees concerned in upholding the validity of the quitclaims which they have executed in favor of their employers. However, in Becton Dickinson Phils., Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 475 SCRA 123, 147 (2005), we held: There is no nexus between intelligence, or even the position which the employee held in the company when it concerns the pressure which the employer may exert upon the free will of the employee who is asked to sign a release and quitclaim. A lowly employee or a sales manager, as in the present case, who is confronted with the same dilemma of whether signing a release and quitclaim and accept what the company offers them, or refusing to sign and walk out without receiving anything, may do succumb to the same pressure, being very well aware that it is going to take quite a while before he can recover whatever he is entitled to, because it is only after a protracted legal battle starting from the labor arbiter level, all the way to this Court, can he receive anything at all. The Court understands that such a risk of not receiving anything whatsoever, coupled with the probability of not immediately getting any gainful employment or means of livelihood in the meantime, constitutes enough pressure upon anyone who is asked to sign a release and quitclaim in exchange of some amount of money which may be way below what he may be entitled to based on company practice and policy or by law.

CIVIL LAW

A.M. No. RTJ-06-1995 September 25, 2007 FELICIDAD TENENAN, complainant, vs. JUDGE FERNANDO F. FLOR, JR., respondent.

Sales; Double Sales; Land Registration; The registration contemplated in Article 1544 of the New Civil Code refers to registration under the Torrens System, which considers the act of registration as the operative act that gives validity to the transfer or creates a lien upon the land. We have already ruled that the registration contemplated in this provision refers to registration under the Torrens System, which considers the act of registration as the operative act that gives validity to the transfer or creates a lien upon the land. This rule precisely applies to cases involving conflicting rights over registered property and those of innocent transferees who relied on the clean title of the properties. Thus, we held that registration must be done in the proper registry in order to bind the same. Same; Same; Same; If the land is registered under the Land Registration Act (and therefore has a Torrens title), and it is sold and the sale is registered not under the Land Registration Act but under Act 3344, as amended, such sale is not considered registered, as the term is used under Article 1544 of the New Civil Code. In the case at bench, it is uncontroverted that the subject property was under the operation of the Torrens System even before the respective conveyances to AZNAR and GO KIM CHUAN were made. AZNAR knew of this, and admits this as fact. Yet, despite his knowledge, Aznar registered the sale in its favor under Act 3344 on the contention that at the time of sale, there was no title on file. We are not persuaded by such a lame excuse. Act 3344 provides for the system of recording of transactions or claims over unregistered real estate without prejudice to a third party with a better right. But if the land is registered under the Land Registration Act (and therefore has a Torrens title), and it is sold and the sale is registered not under the LRA but under Act 3344, as amended, such sale is not considered registered, as the term is used under Article 1544 of the New Civil Code. In this case, since the extrajudicial partition of real estate with deed of absolute sale in favor of Aznar was registered under Act No. 3344 and not under Act No. 496, the said document is deemed not registered rather it was the sale in favor of Go Kim Chuan which was registered under Act No. 496. Same; Same; Same; The fact that the certificate of title over the registered land is lost does not convert it into unregistered land- a certificate of title is merely an evidence of ownership or title over the particular property described therein. AZNAR insists that since there was no Torrens title on file in 1964, insofar as the vendors, AZNAR, and the Register of Deeds are concerned, the subject property was unregistered at the time. The contention is untenable. The fact that the certificate of title over the registered land is lost does not convert it into unregistered land. After all, a certificate of title is merely an evidence of ownership or title over the particular property described therein. This Court agrees with the petitioners that AZNAR should have availed itself of the legal remedy of reconstitution of the lost certificate of title, instead of registration under Act 3344. Appeals; Factual issues are not within the province of the Supreme Court, as it is not a trier of facts and is not required to examine the oral and documentary evidence de novo; Exceptions. While factual issues are not within the province of this Court, as it is not a trier of facts and is not required to examine the oral and documentary evidence de novo, this Court has the authority to review and, in proper cases, reverse the factual findings of lower courts in the following instances: (a) when the findings of fact of the trial court are in conflict with those of the appellate court; (b) when the judgment of the appellate court is based on a misapprehension of facts; and, (c) when the appellate court manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion. Land Registration; Torrens System; It is worth stressing that the Torrens system was adopted in this country because it was believed to be the most effective measure to guarantee the integrity of land titles and to insure their indefeasibility once the claim of

ownership is established and recognized. It is worth stressing that the Torrens system was adopted in this country because it was believed to be the most effective measure to guarantee the integrity of land titles and to insure their indefeasibility once the claim of ownership is established and recognized. If a person purchases a piece of land on the assurance that the sellers title thereto is valid, he should not run the risk of losing his acquisition. If this were permitted, public confidence in the system would be eroded and land transactions would have to be attended by complicated and not necessarily conclusive investigations and proof of ownership. G.R. No. 170917 November 28, 2007 SPOUSES NESTOR CASTILLO and ROSIE REYES-CASTILLO, petitioners, vs. SPOUSES RUDY REYES and CONSOLACION REYES, respondents.

Sales; Sale is a consensual contract and is perfected by mere consent, which is manifested by the meeting of the minds as to the offer and acceptance thereof on the subject matter, price and terms of payment. -Sale is a consensual contract and is perfected by mere consent, which is manifested by a meeting of the minds as to the offer and acceptance thereof on the subject matter, price and terms of payment of the price. In the instant case, the November 8, 1997 Agreement clearly indicates the Bohler and the Spouse Reyes had a meeting of the minds on the subject matter of the contract, the house and lot; on the price, P 165,000,00; and on the terms of payment, an initial payment of P 130,000,0 on the date of execution of the agreement and the remaining balance on or before December 15, 1997. At that precise moment when the consent of both parties was given, the contract of sale was perfected. Same; Contracts to sell; Contracts of Sale; Word and Phrases; In a contract of sale, the title to the property passes to the vendee upon the delivery of the things sold, while in a contract to sell, ownership is, by agreement, reserved to the vendor and is not passed until full payment of the purchased price.- The said agreement cannot be considered a contract to sell. In a contract of sale, the title to the property passes to the vendee upon the delivery of the things sold; in a contract to sell, ownership is, by agreement, reserved in the vendor and is not to pass to the vendee until full payment of the purchase price. Otherwise stated, in a contract of sale, the vendor losses ownership over the property and cannot recover it until and unless the contract is resolved or rescinded; whereas, in a contract to sell, title is retained by the vendor until full payment of the price. In the latter contract, payment of the price is a positive suspensive condition, failure of which is not a breach but an event that prevents the obligation of the vendor to convey title from becoming effective. The November 8, 1997 Agreement herein cannot be characterized as a contract to sell because the seller made no express reservation of ownership or title to the subject house and lot. Instead, the Agreement contains all the requirements of a contract of sale . G.R. No. 150654 December 13, 2007 HEIRS OF ANACLETO B. NIETO, namely, SIXTA P. NIETO, EULALIO P. NIETO, GAUDENCIO P. NIETO, and CORAZON P. NIETO-IGNACIO, represented by EULALIO P. NIETO, petitioners, vs. MUNICIPALITY OF MEYCAUAYAN, BULACAN, represented by MAYOR EDUARDO ALARILLA, respondents.

Land Titles and Deeds; Reconveyance; Prescription; An action to recover possession of a registered land never prescribes. An action to recover possession of a registered land never prescribes in view of the provision of Section 44 of Act No. 496 to the effect that no title to registered land in derogation of that of a registered owner shall be acquired by

prescription or adverse possession. It follows that an action by the registered owner to recover a real property registered under the Torrens System does not prescribe. Same; Same; Same; The rule on imprescriptibility of registered lands not only applies to the registered owner but extends to the heirs of the registered owner as well. It is well settled that the rule on imprescriptibility of registered lands not only applies to the registered owner but extends to the heirs of the registered owner as well. Recently in Mateo v. Diaz, 10 the Court held that prescription is unavailing not only against the registered owner, but also against his hereditary successors because the latter step into the shoes of the decedent by operation of law and are the continuation of the personality of their predecessor-in-interest. Hence, petitioners, as heirs of Anacleto Nieto, the registered owner, cannot be barred by prescription from claiming the property. Same; Same; Laches; Words and Phrases; Laches, Defined. Laches has been defined as the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence could or should have been done earlier. It is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting the presumption that the party entitled to assert his right has either abandoned or declined to assert it. Same; Same; Same; Same; Laches cannot be set up to resist the enforcement of an imprescriptible legal right. In a number of cases, the Court has held that an action to recover registered land covered by the Torrens System may not be barred by laches. Laches cannot be set up to resist the enforcement of an imprescriptible legal right. Laches, which is a principle based on equity, may not prevail against a specific provision of law, because equity, which has been defined as "justice outside legality," is applied in the absence of and not against statutory law or rules of procedure. In recent cases, however, the Court held that while it is true that a Torrens title is indefeasible and imprescriptible, the registered landowner may lose his right to recover possession of his registered property by reason of laches. Same; Same; Laches; Element. Even if we apply the doctrine of laches to registered lands, it would still not bar petitioners' claim. It should be stressed that laches is not concerned only with the mere lapse of time. 16 The following elements must be present in order to constitute laches: (1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of which complaint is made for which the complaint seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the complainant's rights, the complainant having had knowledge or notice, of the defendant's conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to institute a suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right on which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant, or the suit is not held to be barred. Same; Same; Ejectment; Those who occupy the land of another at the latter's tolerance or permission, without any contract between them, are necessarily bound by an implied promise that the occupants will vacate the property upon demand; Upon the refusal to vacate the property, the owner's cause of action accrues, the unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession being counted from the date of the demand to vacate. This Court has consistently held that those who occupy the land of another at the latter's tolerance or permission, without any contract between them, are necessarily bound by an implied promise that the occupants will vacate the property upon demand. The status of the possessor is analogous to that of a lessee or tenant whose term of lease has expired but whose occupancy continues by tolerance of the owner. In such case, the unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession is to be counted from the date of the demand to vacate. Upon the refusal to vacate the property, the owner's cause of action accrues. In this case, the first element of laches occurred the moment respondent refused to vacate the property, upon petitioners demand, on February 23, 1994. The filing of the complaint on

December 28, 1994, after the lapse of a period of only ten months, cannot be considered as unreasonable delay amounting to laches. Same; Same; Same; Prescription; Laches; If the claimant's possession of the land is merely tolerated by its lawful owner, the latter's right to recover possession is never barred by laches. Case law teaches that if the claimant's possession of the land is merely tolerated by its lawful owner, the latter's right to recover possession is never barred by laches. Even if it be supposed that petitioners were aware of respondent's occupation of the property, and regardless of the length of that possession, the lawful owners have a right to demand the return of their property at any time as long as the possession was unauthorized or merely tolerated, if at all. Same; Laches; Equity; The doctrine of laches cannot be invoked to defeat justice or to perpetrate fraud and injustice. The doctrine of laches cannot be invoked to defeat justice or to perpetrate fraud and injustice. It is the better rule that courts, under the principle of equity, will not be guided or bound strictly by the statute of limitations or the doctrine of laches when by doing so, manifest wrong or injustice would result. Finally, we find that the rentals being prayed for by petitioners are reasonable considering the size and location of the subject property. Accordingly, the award of rentals is warranted.

Obligations and Contracts; Solidary Obligations; Suretyship; Rights to Reimbursement; Article 2047 of the Civil Code specifically calls for the application of the provisions on solidary obligations to suretyship contracts. Article 1217 of the Civil Code recognizes the right of reimbursement from a co-debtor (the principal co-debtor, in case of suretyship) in favor of the one who paid (i.e., the surety) in favor of the one who paid (i.e the surety); only those payments made after the obligation has prescribed or became illegal shall not entitle a solidary debtor to reimbursement. Article 2047 of the Civil Code specifically calls for the application of the provisions on solidary obligations to suretyship contracts. In particular, Article 1217 of the Civil Code recognizes the right of reimbursement from a co-debtor (the principal co-debtor, in case of suretyship) in favor of the one who paid ( i.e., the surety). In contrast, Article 1218 of the Civil Code is definitive on when reimbursement is unavailing, such that only those payments made after the obligation has prescribed or became illegal shall not entitle a solidary debtor to reimbursement. Nowhere in the invoked CA Decision does it declare that a surety who pays, by virtue of a writ of execution, is not entitled to reimbursement from the principal co-debtor. The CA Decision was confined to the mootness of the issue presented and petitioners preclusion from the relief it prayed for, i.e., a stay of the writ of execution, considering that the writ had already been satisfied. Same; Same; Same; Surety as a Co-debtor under a Suretyship Agreement and a Joint and Solidary Co-debtor, Distinguished. In the recent case of Escao v. Ortigas, we elucidated on the distinction between a surety as a co-debtor under a suretyship agreement and a joint and solidary co-debtor, thus: (A)s indicated by Article 2047, a suretyship requires a principal debtor to whom the surety is solidarily bound by way of an ancillary obligation of segregate identity from the obligation between the principal debtor and the creditor. The suretyship does not bind the surety to the creditor, inasmuch as the latter is vested with the right to proceed against the former to collect the credit in lieu of proceeding against the principal debtor for the same obligation. At the same time, there is also a legal tie created between the surety and the principal debtor to which the creditor is not privy or party to. The moment the surety fully answers to the creditor for the obligation created by the principal debtor, such obligation is extinguished. At the same time, the surety may seek reimbursement from the principal debtor for the amount paid, for the surety does in fact become subrogated to all the rights and remedies of the creditor. G.R. No. 168115 June 8, 2007

VICENTE ONG LIM SING, JR., petitioner, vs. FEB LEASING & FINANCE CORPORATION, respondent.

Appeals; Estoppel; Issues raised for the first time on appeal are barred by estoppelarguments not raised in the original proceedings cannot be considered on review, otherwise, it would violate basic principles of fair play. Lim can no longer question Galangs authority as FEBs authorized representative in filing the suit against Lim. Galang was the representative of FEB in the proceedings before the trial court up to the appellate court. Petitioner never placed in issue the validity of Galangs representation before the trial and appellate courts. Issues raised for the first time on appeal are barred by estoppel. Arguments not raised in the original proceedings cannot be considered on review; otherwise, it would violate basic principles of fair play. Procedural Rules and Technicalities; Due Process; Court have the prerogative to relax procedural rules of even the most mandatory character, mindful of the duty to reconcile both the need to speedily put an end to litigation and the parties right to due process. Courts have the prerogative to relax procedural rules of even the most mandatory character, mindful of the duty to reconcile both the need to speedily put an end to litigation and the parties right to due process. In numerous cases, this Court has allowed liberal construction of the rules when to do so would serve the demands of substantial justice and equity. Contracts; Contracts of Adhesion; A contract of adhesion is not void per se it is as binding as any ordinary contract. While we affirm that the subject lease agreement is a contract of adhesion, such a contract is not void per se. It is as binding as any ordinary contract. A party who enters into an adhesion contract is free to reject the stipulations entirely. If the terms thereof are accepted without objection, then the contract serves as the law between the parties. Same; Financial Leasing Transactions; Words and Phrases; Financial leasing is a mode of extending credit through a non-cancelable lease contract under which the lessor purchases or acquires, at the instance of the lessee, machinery, equipment, motor vehicles, appliances, business and office machines, and other movable or immovable property in consideration of the periodic payment by the lessee of a fixed amount of money sufficient to amortize at least seventy (70%) of the purchase price or acquisition cost, including any incidental expenses and a margin of profit over an obligatory period of not less than two (2) years during which the lessee has the right to hold and use the leased property with the right to expense the lease rentals paid to the lessor and bears the cost of repairs, maintenance, insurance and preservation thereof, but with no obligation or option on his part to purchase the leased property from the owner-lessor at the end of the lease contract. The Lease Contract with corresponding Lease Schedules with Delivery and Acceptance Certificates is, in point of fact, a financial lease within the purview of R.A. No. 8556. Section 3(d) thereof defines financial leasing as: [A] mode of extending credit through a noncancelable lease contract under which the lessor purchases or acquires, at the instance of the lessee, machinery, equipment, motor vehicles, appliances, business and office machines, and other movable or immovable property in consideration of the periodic payment by the lessee of a fixed amount of money sufficient to amortize at least seventy (70%) of the purchase price or acquisition cost, including any incidental expenses and a margin of profit over an obligatory period of not less than two (2) years during which the lessee has the right to hold and use the leased property with the right to expense the lease rentals paid to the lessor and bears the cost of repairs, maintenance, insurance and preservation thereof, but with no obligation or option on his part to purchase the leased property from the owner-lessor at the end of the lease contract. Same; Same; The basic purpose of a financial leasing transaction is to enable the prospective buyer of equipment, who is unable to pay for such equipment in cash in one

lump sum, to lease such equipment in the meantime for his use, at a fixed rental sufficient to amortize at least 70% of the acquisition cost (including the expenses and a margin profit for the financial lessor) with the expectation that at the end of the lease period the buyer/financial lessee will be able to pay any remaining balance of the purchase price. FEB leased the subject equipment and motor vehicles to JVL in consideration of a monthly periodic payment of Php170,494.00. The periodic payment by petitioner is sufficient to amortize at least 70% of the purchase price or acquisition cost of the said movables in accordance with the Lease Schedules with Delivery and Acceptance Certificates. The basic purpose of a financial leasing transaction is to enable the prospective buyer of equipment, who is unable to pay for such equipment in cash in one lump sum, to lease such equipment in the meantime for his use, at a fixed rental sufficient to amortize at least 70% of the acquisition cost (including the expenses and a margin of profit for the financial lessor) with the expectation that at the end of the lease period the buyer/financial lessee will be able to pay any remaining balance of the purchase price. Same; Same; It is settled that the parties are free to agree to such stipulations, clauses, terms, and conditions as they may want to include in a contract, and as along as such agreements are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public policy, or public order, they shall have the force of law between the parties. The validity of Lease No. 27:95:20 between FEB and JVL should be upheld. JVL entered into the lease contract with full knowledge of its terms and conditions. The contract was in force for more than four years. Since its inception on March 9, 1995, JVL and Lim never questioned its provisions. They only attacked the validity of the contract after they were judicially made to answer for their default in the payment of the agreed rentals. It is settled that the parties are free to agree to such stipulations, clauses, terms, and conditions, as they may want to include in a contract. As long as such agreements are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public policy, or public order, they shall have the force of law between the parties. Contracting parties may stipulate on terms and conditions as they may see fit and these have the force of law between them. Same; Same; Insurance; A lessee has an insurable interest in the equipment and motor vehicles leased, and the measure of its insurable interest is the extent to which it may be damnified by loss or injury thereof. The stipulation in Section 14 of the lease contract, that the equipment shall be insured at the cost and expense of the lessee against loss, damage, or destruction from fire, theft, accident, or other insurable risk for the full term of the lease, is a binding and valid stipulation. Petitioner, as a lessee, has an insurable interest in the equipment and motor vehicles leased. Section 17 of the Insurance Code provides that the measure of an insurable interest in property is the extent to which the insured might be damnified by loss or injury thereof. It cannot be denied that JVL will be directly damnified in case of loss, damage, or destruction of any of the properties leased. Same; Same; Warranties; The financial lessor, being a financing company, i.e., an extender of credit rather than an ordinary equipment rental company, does not extend a warranty of the fitness of the equipment for any particular use. In the financial lease agreement, FEB did not assume responsibility as to the quality, merchantability, or capacity of the equipment. This stipulation provides that, in case of defect of any kind that will be found by the lessee in any of the equipment, recourse should be made to the manufacturer. The financial lessor, being a financing company, i.e., an extender of credit rather than an ordinary equipment rental company, does not extend a warranty of the fitness of the equipment for any particular use. Thus, the financial lessee was precisely in a position to enforce such warranty directly against the supplier of the equipment and not against the financial lessor. We find nothing contra legem or contrary to public policy in such a contractual arrangement.

G.R. No. 168834 June 8, 2007 PILIPINAS SHELL PETROLEUM CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. SERGIO LICUP, respondent.

Compromise Agreements; The Court accepts the Compromise Agreement between the parties, the same not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order and public policy. All given, we find the Compromise Agreement not to be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order and public policy, and, therefore, the same is accepted. WHEREFORE, the Compromise Agreement referred to above is hereby APPROVED. Judgment is rendered in accordance therewith. G.R. No. 174114 July 6, 2007 DMG INDUSTRIES, INC., petitioner, vs. THE PHILIPPINE AMERICAN INVESTMENTS CORPORATION, respondent.

Civil Law; Compromise Agreements; A compromise agreement is a contract whereby the parties make reciprocal concessions in order to resolve their differences thereby putting an end to litigation. Such means of dispute settlement is an accepted, even desirable and encouraged, practice in courts of law and administrative tribunals. Under Article 1306 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, contracting parties may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms, and conditions, as they may deem convenient, provided that they are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy. A compromise agreement is a contract whereby the parties make reciprocal concessions in order to resolve their differences thereby putting an end to litigation. Such means of dispute settlement is an accepted, even desirable and encouraged, practice in courts of law and administrative tribunals. Same; Same; Compromise agreements are generally favored in law. As compromise agreements are generally favored in law, 6 the Court will not hesitate to respect the wishes of the parties and give way to the Compromise Agreement submitted by the parties. Thus, the Resolution dated February 26, 2007 denying the motion for reconsideration with finality is recalled; and the Compromise Agreement dated February 14, 2007 is admitted. Same; Same; Court approves the Compromise Settlement Agreement after finding to be validly executed and not contrary to law morals, good customs, public order or public policy. Finding the above Compromise Settlement Agreement to be validly executed and not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy; we therefore, approve the same. G.R. No. 167652 July 10, 2007 LIMCOMA MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE, petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Civil law; Property; Land Registration; Possession; Section 14 (1) of the Property Registration Decree and Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act as amended, are original registration proceedings, against the whole world, and the decree of registration issued for both is conclusive and final; Requisites for an Application for Land Registration. Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree and Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as amended, are original registration issued for both is conclusive and final. It is evident from the above-cited provisions that an application for land registration must conform to three requisites: (1) the land is alienable public land; (2) the applicants open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation thereof must be since June 12, 1945, or earlier; and (3) it is under a bona fide claim of ownership.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Tax Declarations; Although as a rule, tax declarations are not conclusive evidence of ownership, they are proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property and serve as sufficient basis for inferring possession . Petitioner proffered in evidence the TDs showing payment of realty taxes by the Spouses Andres and Trinidad from 1938 which was subsequently continued by Venustiano and Arsenia. Although as a rule, tax declarations are not conclusive evidence of ownership, they are proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property and serve as sufficient basis for inferring possession. These tax declarations bolster the petitioners claim that its predecessors-in-interest possessed and occupied the lot in question since 1938. Same; Same; Same; Prescription; Prescription is a mode of acquiring ownership. There appears to be no legal impediment to petitioners registrable right over the subject lot. We find that petitioner has consolidated ownership thereof through ordinary acquisitive prescription, specifically, good faith possession for 10 years. Prescription is a mode of acquiring ownership. We have had occasion to rule in numerous instances that open, exclusive, and continuous possession for at least 30 years of alienable public land ipso jure converts the same to private property. The conversion works to summon into operation Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree which, in turn, authorizes the acquisition of private lands through prescription. G.R. No. 152132 July 24, 2007 LORDITO ARROGANTE, JOHNSTON ARROGANTE, ARME ARROGANTE, and FE D. ARROGANTE, petitioners, vs. BEETHOVEN DELIARTE, Joined by SPOUSE LEONORA DUENAS, respondents.

Civil Law; Contracts; Property; Partition; A contract entered into upon future inheritance characterized as void under Article 1347, paragraph 2 of the Civil Code; Requisites for application of the Law. The1978 private deed of sale, insofar as it disposed of Bernabe's share in the conjugal partnership prior to his death, is void for being a conveyance of the Deliarte siblings' future inheritance. Article 1347, paragraph 2 of the Civil Code characterizes a contract entered into upon future inheritance as void. The law applies when the following requisites concur: (1) the succession has not yet been opened; (2) the object of the contract forms part of the inheritance; and (3) the promissor has, with respect to the object, an expectancy of a right which is purely hereditary in nature. Same; Same; Same; The prohibition on contracts respecting future inheritance admits of exceptions, as when a person partitions his estate by an act inter vivos under Article 1080 of the Civil Code. The prohibition on contracts respecting future inheritance admits of exceptions, as when a person partitions his estate by an act inter vivos under Article 1080 of the Civil Code. However, the private deed of sale does not purport to be a partition of Bernabe's estate as would exempt it from the application of Article 1347. Nowhere in the said document does Bernabe separate, divide, and assign to his children his share in the subject lot effective only upon his death. Indeed, the document does not even bear the signature of Bernabe. Same; Same; Same; Partition of property representing future inheritance cannot be made effective during the lifetime of its owner. Neither did the parties demonstrate that Bernabe undertook an oral partition of his estate. Although we have held on several occasions that an oral or parole partition is valid, our holdings thereon were confined to instances wherein the partition had actually been consummated, enforced, and recognized by the parties. Absent a showing of an overt act by Bernabe indicative of an unequivocal intent to partition his estate among his children, his knowledge and ostensible acquiescence to the private deed of sale does not equate to an oral partition by an act inter vivos. Besides, partition of property representing future inheritance cannot be made effective during the lifetime of its owner.

Same; Parole Evidence; The failure of the deed of sale to express the true intent and agreement of the parties supports the application of the parole evidence rule. The parole evidence rule is applicable. While the application thereof presupposes the existence of a valid agreement, the innominate contract between the parties has been directly put in issue by the respondents. Verily, the failure of the deed of sale to express the true intent and agreement of the parties supports the application of the parole evidence rule. Contracts; Statute of Frauds; The Statute of Frauds applies only to executory, not completed, executed, or partially consummated contracts. We agree with both the lower and the appellate courts that the Statute of Frauds is not applicable to the instant case. The general rule is that contracts are valid in whatever form they may be. One exception thereto is the Statute of Frauds which requires a written instrument for the enforceability of a contract. However, jurisprudence dictates that the Statute of Frauds only applies to executory, not to completed, executed, or partially consummated, contracts. G.R. No. 146941 August 9, 2007 FILINVEST DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and COURT OF TAX APPEALS, respondents.

Civil Law; Negligence; Words and Phrases; Negligence is defined as the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do; Negligence is never presumed but must be proven by whoever alleges it. In Philippine National Construction Corporation v. Court of Appeals, we defined negligence as "the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or the doing of something which a prudent and reasonable man would do." It is the failure to observe that degree of care, precaution and vigilance that the circumstances just demand, whereby that other person suffers injury. In Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Casa Montessori Internationale, we reiterated the rule that negligence is never presumed but must be proven by whoever alleges it. In determining whether or not a party acted negligently, the constant test is: "Did the defendant in doing the negligent act use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily prudent person would have used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence." In light of the foregoing principles, we hold that negligence cannot be attributed to petitioner. Same; Same; Same; Definition of Metro-wide Services In Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v. Bel-Air Village Association, Inc., 328 SCRA 836 (2000), this Court, speaking through then Associate Justice (now Chief Justice) Reynato S. Puno, defined "metro-wide services" as those "services which have metro-wide impact and transcend local political boundaries or entail huge expenditures such that it would not be viable for said services to be provided by the individual local government units comprising Metro Manila." These basic "metro-wide services" include: (1) development planning; (2) transport and traffic management; (3) solid waste disposal and management; (4) flood control and sewerage management; (5) urban renewal, zoning and land use planning, and shelter services; (6) health and sanitation, urban protection, and pollution control; and (7) public safety. Same; Same; The city government of Las Pias City which has the duty to control the flood in Meritville Townhouse Subdivision pursuant to Section 17 of the Local Government Code. From the above provisions, it is the city government of Las Pias City which has the duty to control the flood in Meritville Townhouse Subdivision. G.R. No. 163130 September 7, 2007 SAN ROQUE REALTY AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (through the Armed Forces of the Philippines), respondent.

Eminent Domain; Expropriation; Just Compensation; Republic v. Lim. No piece of land can be finally and irrevocably taken from an unwilling owner until compensation is paid. Without full payment of just compensation, there can be no transfer of title from the landowner to the expropriator. Thus, we ruled that the Republics failure to pay just compensation precluded the perfection of its title over Lot No. 932. In fact, we went even further and recognized the right of the unpaid owner to recover the property if within five years from the decision of the expropriation court the expropriator fails to effect payment of just compensation. Same; Construction; Requisite; Limitation. Eminent domain cases are to be strictly construed against the expropriator. The payment of just compensation for private property taken for public use is an indispensable requisite for the exercise of the States sovereign power of eminent domain. Failure to observe this requirement renders the taking ineffectual, notwithstanding the avowed public purpose. To disregard this limitation on the exercise of governmental power to expropriate is to ride roughshod over private rights. Land Titles; Essence of Torrens System; Legarda v. Saleeby. The real purpose of the system is to quiet title of land; to put a stop forever to any question of the legality of the title, except claims which were noted at the time of registration, in the certificate, or which may arise subsequent thereto. That being the purpose of the law, it would seem that once a title is registered, the owner may rest secure, without the necessity of waiting in the portals of the courts, or sitting in the "mirador de su casa," to avoid the possibility of losing his land. x x x The certificate, in the absence of fraud, is the evidence of title and shows exactly the real interest of its owner. The title once registered, with very few exceptions, should not thereafter be impugned, except in some direct proceeding permitted by law. Otherwise, all security in registered titles would be lost. Civil Law; Laches; Meaning. Laches is the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which by exercising due diligence could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. Same; Same; Exception. The general rule is that the State cannot be put in estoppel or laches by the mistakes or errors of its officials or agents. This rule, however, admits of exceptions. One exception is when the strict application of the rule will defeat the effectiveness of a policy adopted to protect the public such as the Torrens system. In Republic v. Court of Appeals, we ruled that the immunity of government from laches and estoppel is not absolute, and the governments silence or inaction for nearly twenty (20) years (starting from the issuance of St. Judes titles in 1966 up to the filing of the Complaint in 1985) to correct and recover the alleged increase in the land area of St. Jude was tantamount to laches. Civil Law; Property; Good Faith. An innocent purchaser for value is one who, relying on the certificate of title, bought the property from the registered owner, without notice that some other person has a right to, or interest in, such property, and pays a full and fair price for the same, at the time of such purchase, or before he has notice of the claim or interest of some other person in the property. G.R. No. 168902 September 28, 2007 BARTOLA M. VDA. DE TIRONA, CRISTINA T. DACANAY, ALFREDO M. TIRONA, MANUEL M. TIRONA, FERNANDO M. TIRONA, GLORIA T. LIBANG, MA. LUISA T. OAS, EMILIANO M. TIRONA III, MARTINA T. ARNAN, RAMON M. TIRONA, LEONOR M. TIRONA, TEODORO D. TIRONA and GALLARDO D. TIRONA, petitioners, vs. CIRILO ENCARNACION, respondent.

Certiorari; The court finds and so holds that the same raised questions of fact, which may not be the subject of a petition for review on certiorari the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts it is not our function to review, re-evaluate or re-examine evidence presented by the parties during the trial. The court finds and so holds that the same raised questions of fact, which may not be the subject of a petition for review on certiorari. The Supreme Court is not a trier of facts; it is not our function to review, re-evaluate or re-examine evidence presented by the parties during the trial. The factual findings of the trial court when affirmed by the appellate court are conclusive and binding on the parties and must remain undisturbed by this Court, unless the case falls under any of the following recognized exceptions: (1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises and conjectures; (2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion; (4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) When the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (7) When the findings are contrary to those of the trial court; (8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners' main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents; and (10) When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record. Civil Law; Laches; While jurisprudence is settled on the impresciptibility and indefeasibility of a Torrens title, there is equally an abundance of cases where we unequivocally ruled that registered owners may lose their right to recover possession of property through the equitable principle of laches. We rule that albeit petitioners appear to be the legal owners of Lot No. 966, they are barred from recovering its possession by reason of laches. While jurisprudence is settled on the impresciptibility and indefeasibility of a Torrens title, there is equally an abundance of cases where we unequivocally ruled that registered owners may lose their right to recover possession of property through the equitable principle of laches. Again, by laches we mean: x x x the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting the presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned or declined to assert it. The defense of laches is an equitable one and does not concern itself with the character of the defendant's title, but only with whether or not by reason of plaintiffs long inaction or inexcusable neglect, he should be barred from asserting his claim at all, because to allow him to do so would be inequitable and unjust to defendant. Same; Same; Elements. The four (4) elements of laches first prescribed by this Court in Go Chi Gun, et al. v. Co Cho, et al., 96 Phil. 622, as subsequently reiterated, are as follows: (1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of which complaint is made for which the complaint seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the complainant's rights, the complainant having had knowledge or notice, of the defendant's conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to institute a suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right on which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant, or the suit is not held to be barred. Same; Same; Rationale for the Doctrine of Laches; The rationale for the doctrine of laches was laid down in this wise: The reason upon which the rule is based is not alone the lapse of time during which the neglect to enforce the right has existed, but the changes of condition which may have arisen during the period in which there has been neglect in other words, where a court of equity finds that the position of the parties has to change that equitable relief cannot be afforded without doing injustice, or that the intervening rights of third persons may be destroyed or seriously impaired, it will not exert its equitable powers in order to save one from the consequences of his own neglect. In Mejia de Lucas v.

Gamponia, 100 Phil. 277 (1956), the rationale for the doctrine of laches was laid down in this wise: The reason upon which the rule is based is not alone the lapse of time during which the neglect to enforce the right has existed, but the changes of condition which may have arisen during the period in which there has been neglect. In other words, where a court of equity finds that the position of the parties has to change that equitable relief cannot be afforded without doing injustice, or that the intervening rights of third persons may be destroyed or seriously impaired, it will not exert its equitable powers in order to save one from the consequences of his own neglect. x x x In effect, the principle is one of estoppel because it prevents people who have slept on their rights from prejudicing the rights of third parties who have placed reliance on the inaction of the original patentee and his successorsin-interest. G.R. No. 169656 October 11, 2007 FELSAN REALTY & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA, respondent.

Remedial Law; Certiorari; Appeals; In petitions for review on certiorari, the jurisdiction of the Court is only limited to the review and revision of errors of law allegedly committed by the appellate court inasmuch as the latters findings of fact are deemed conclusive. In petitions for review on certiorari, the jurisdiction of this Court is only limited to the review and revision of errors of law allegedly committed by the appellate court inasmuch as the latters findings of fact are deemed conclusive. Thus, this Court is not duty-bound to analyze and weigh all over again the evidence already considered in the proceedings below. It is foreclosed from ascertaining if the trial court and the appellate court were correct in according superior credit to this or that piece of evidence of one party or the other. While this rule is not without exceptions, we do not find the instant case falling under any of said exceptions to warrant a different conclusion from the Court. Civil Law; Contracts; When the terms of the contract are clear and leave no room for interpretation, the literal meaning of its application shall, therefore, control; A court has no alternative but to enforce the contractual stipulations in the manner they have been agreed upon and written. Considering that the parties entered into a contract, it shall constitute the law between them. The agreement between the parties is the formal expression of the parties rights, duties and obligations. Being the primary law between the parties, it governs the adjudication of their rights and obligations. When the terms of the contract are clear and leave no room for interpretation, the literal meaning of its stipulations shall, therefore, control. A court has no alternative but to enforce the contractual stipulations in the manner they have been agreed upon and written. The petitioner was, therefore, bound to respect the decision of the respondent not to continue on with the lease. Absent any allegation that a stipulation is contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy, it must be complied with in good faith. Same; Same; The various stipulations in a contract must be interpreted together, attributing to the doubtful ones that sense which may result from all of them taken jointly. It must be noted that the various stipulations in a contract must be interpreted together, attributing to the doubtful ones that sense which may result from all of them taken jointly. Section 13 of the Contract of Lease enumerates the grounds for pre-termination as "fire, lightning, earthquake, typhoon, or by any cause in the nature of force majeure." The second and third sentences of Section 13 use "accident or force majeure" in referring to the grounds for the pre-termination of the Contract. Except for fire, none of the other causes can occur through accident because they are all natural calamities. The only logical conclusion is that the word "accident" qualifies "fire"; the lessee does not have the right to pre-terminate only when fire is not accidental or is deliberate. No other qualification can be read into the Contract. Accident and negligence are intrinsically contradictory; one cannot exist with the other.

Accident occurs when the person concerned is exercising ordinary care, which is not caused by fault of any person and which could not have been prevented by any means suggested by common prudence. Hence, a statement that the cause was accidental necessarily implies that it was not due to the fault or negligence of any party. Attorneys Fees; An adverse decision does not ipso facto justify an award of attorneys fees to the winning party; Even when a claimant is compelled to litigate with the third persons or to incur expenses to protect his rights, still attorneys fees may not be awarded where no sufficient showing of bad faith could be reflected in a partys persistence in a case other than an erroneous conviction of the righteousness of his cause. As to the award of attorneys fees in favor of the respondent, the Court finds that this is not warranted under the circumstances; hence, it should be deleted. An adverse decision does not ipso facto justify an award of attorneys fees to the winning party. The power of the court to award attorneys fees under Article 2208 demands factual, legal, and equitable justification. Even when a claimant is compelled to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his rights, still attorneys fees may not be awarded where no sufficient showing of bad faith could be reflected in a partys persistence in a case other than an erroneous conviction of the righteousness of his cause. G.R. NO. 123498 November 23, 2007 BPI FAMILY BANK, petitioner, vs. AMADO FRANCO and COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

Civil Law; Property; the movable property mentioned in Article 559 of the Civil Code pertains to a specific or determinate thing-a determinate or specific thing is one that is individualized and can be identified as distinguished from others of the same kind. BPI-FBs argument is unsound. To begin with, the movable property mentioned in Article 559 of the Civil Code pertains to a specific or determinate thing. A determinate or specific thing is one that is individualized and can be identified or distinguished from others of the same kind. Same; Same; In this case, the deposit in Francos accounts consists of money which, albeit characterized as a movable, is generic and fungible. In this case, the deposit in Francos accounts consists of money which, albeit characterized as a movable, is generic and fungible. The quality of being fungible depends upon the possibility of the property, because of its nature or the will of the parties, being substituted by others of the same kind, not having a distinct individuality. Mercantile Law; Banking Laws; Money as a medium of exchange; Money, which had passed through various transactions in the general course of banking business, even if of traceable origin, bears no earmarks of peculiar ownership. It bears emphasizing that money bears no earmarks of peculiar ownership, and this characteristic is all the more manifest in the instant case which involves money in a banking transaction gone awry. Its primary function is to pass from hand to hand as a medium of exchange, without other evidence of its title. Money, which had passed through various transactions in the general course of banking business, even if or traceable origin, bears no earmarks of peculiar ownership. Same; Same; Nature of a Bank; As a business affected with public interest and because of the nature of its functions, the bank is under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of the relationship. In every case, the depositor expects the bank to treat his account with the utmost fidelity, whether such account consists only of a few hundred pesos or of millions. The bank must record every single transaction accurately, down to the last centavo, and as at any given time the amount of money the depositor can dispose as he sees fit, confident that the bank will deliver it as and to whomever directs. A blunder on the part of the bank, such as the dishonor of the check without good reason, can cause the depositor not a little

embarrassment if not also financial loss and perhaps even civil and criminal litigation. The point is that as a business affected with public interest and because of the nature of its functions, the bank is under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care, always having in mind the fiduciary nature of their relationship. Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Amendment to conform to evidence; When issues not raised by the pleadings are tried with the express or implied consent of the parties, they shall be treated in all respects as if they had been raised in the pleadings-such amendment of the pleadings as may be necessary to cause them to conform to the evidence and to raise these issues may be made upon motion of any party at anytime, even after judgment, but failure to amend does not affect the result of the trial of these issues. Section 5. Amendment to conform to or authorize presentation of evidence.- When issues not raised by the pleadings are tried with the express or implied consent of the parties, they shall be treated in all respects as if they had been raised in the pleadings. Such amendment of the pleadings as may be necessary to cause them to conform to the evidence and to raise these issues may be made upon motion of any party at anytime, even if after judgment; but failure to amend does not affect the result of the trial of these issues. If evidence is objected to at the trial on the ground that it is now within the issues made by the pleadings, the court may allow the pleadings to be amended and shall do so with liberality if the presentation of the merits of the action and the ends of substantial justice will be subserved thereby. The court may grant a continuance to enable the amendment to be made. Service of Court Papers; It should be noted that the strict requirement on the service of papers upon the parties affected is designed to comply with the elementary requisite of due process. In this argument, we perceive BPI-FBs clever but transparent ploy to circumvent Section 4, Rule 13 of the Rules of Court. It should be noted that the strict requirement on service of court papers upon the parties affected is designed to comply with the elementary requisites of due process. Franco was entitled, as a matter of right, to notice, if the requirements of due process are to be observed. Yet, he received a copy of the Notice of Garnishment only on September 27, 1989, several days after the two checks he issued were dishonored by BPI-FB on September 20 and 21, 1989. Verily, it was premature for BPI-FB to freeze Francos accounts without even awaiting service of the Makati RTCs Notice of Garnishment on Franco. Civil Law; Damages; Moral Damages; In the absence of fraud or bad faith, moral damages cannot be awarded; and that the adverse result of an action does not per se make the action wrongful, or the party liable for it. One may err, but error alone is not a ground for granting such damages. We had occasion to hold that in the absence of fraud or bad faith, moral damages cannot be awarded; and that the adverse result of an action does not per se make the action wrongful, or the party liable for it. One may err, but error alone is not a ground for granting such damages. Same; Exemplary Damages; As there is no basis for the award of moral damages, neither can exemplary damages be granted. We also deny the claim for exemplary damages. Franco should show that he is entitled to moral, temperate, or compensatory damages before the court may even consider the question of whether exemplary damages should be awarded to him. As there is no basis for the award of moral damages, neither can exemplary damages be granted. G.R. No. 148788 November 23, 2007 SOLEDAD CAEZO, substituted by WILLIAM CAEZO and VICTORIANO CAEZO, petitioners, vs. CONCEPCION ROJAS, respondent.

Civil Law; Trusts; A trust is a legal relationship between one person having an equitable ownership of property and another person owning the legal title to such property, the

equitable ownership of the former entitling him to the performance of certain duties and the exercise of certain powers by the latter. A trust is the legal relationship between one person having an equitable ownership of property and another person owning the legal title to such property, the equitable ownership of the former entitling him to the performance of certain duties and the exercise of certain powers by the latter. Trusts are either express or implied. Express trusts are those which are created by the direct and positive acts of the parties, by some writing or deed, or will, or by words evincing an intention to create a trust. Implied trusts are those which, without being expressed, are deducible from the nature of the transaction as matters of intent or, independently, of the particular intention of the parties, as being superinduced on the transaction by operation of law basically by reason of equity. An implied trust may either be a resulting trust or a constructive trust. Same; Same; Elements; As a rule, the burden of proving the existence of a trust is on the party asserting its existence, and such proof must be clear and satisfactorily show the existence of the trust and its elements. As a rule, however, the burden of proving the existence of a trust is on the party asserting its existence, and such proof must be clear and satisfactorily show the existence of the trust and its elements. The presence of the following elements must be proved: (1) a trustor or settlor who executes the instrument creating the trust; (2) a trustee, who is the person expressly designated to carry out the trust; (3) the trust res, consisting of duly identified and definite real properties; and (4) the cestui que trust, or beneficiaries whose identity must be clear. Accordingly, it was incumbent upon petitioner to prove the existence of the trust relationship. And petitioner sadly failed to discharge that burden. Same; Estoppel; Principle of Estoppel in Pais; The principle of estoppel in pais applies when -- by ones acts, representations, admissions, or silence when there is a need to speak out -one, intentionally or through culpable negligence, induces another to believe certain facts to exist; and the latter rightfully relies and acts on such belief, so as to be prejudiced if the former is permitted to deny the existence of those facts. The principle of estoppel in pais applies when -- by ones acts, representations, admissions, or silence when there is a need to speak out -- one, intentionally or through culpable negligence, induces another to believe certain facts to exist; and the latter rightfully relies and acts on such belief, so as to be prejudiced if the former is permitted to deny the existence of those facts. Such a situation obtains in the instant case. Same; Laches; Definition; Laches is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to it has either abandoned or declined to assert it. The action is barred by laches. The petitioner allegedly discovered that the property was being possessed by the respondent in 1980. However, it was only in 1997 that she filed the action to recover the property. Laches is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to it has either abandoned or declined to assert it.

G.R. No. 149177 November 23, 2007 KAZUHIRO HASEGAWA and NIPPON ENGINEERING CONSULTANTS CO., LTD., petitioners, vs. MINORU KITAMURA, respondent.

Civil Law; Conflict of Laws; In the judicial resolution of conflicts problems, three consecutive phases are involved: jurisdiction, choice of law, and recognition and enforcement of judgments. To elucidate, in the judicial resolution of conflicts problems, three consecutive phases are involved: jurisdiction, choice of law, and recognition and enforcement of judgments. Corresponding to these phases are the following questions: (1) Where can or

should litigation be initiated? (2) Which law will the court apply? and (3) Where can the resulting judgment be enforced? Same; Same; Jurisdictions; Jurisdictions and choice of law are two distinct concepts jurisdiction considers whether it is fair to cause a defendant to travel to this state, choice of law asks the further question whether the application of a substantive law which will determine the merits of the case is fair to both parties- the power to exercise jurisdiction does not automatically give a state constitutional authority to apply forum law. Analytically, jurisdiction and choice of law are two distinct concepts. Jurisdiction considers whether it is fair to cause a defendant to travel to this state; choice of law asks the further question whether the application of a substantive law which will determine the merits of the case is fair to both parties. The power to exercise jurisdiction does not automatically give a state constitutional authority to apply forum law. While jurisdiction and the choice of the lex fori will often coincide, the minimum contacts for one do not always provide the necessary significant contacts for the other. The question of whether the law of a state can be applied to a transaction is different from the question of whether the courts of that state have jurisdiction to enter a judgment. Same; Same; Same; It should be noted that when a conflicts case, one involving a foreign element, is brought before a court or administrative agency, there are three alternatives open to the latter in disposing of it: (1) dismiss the case, either because of lack of jurisdiction or refusal to assume jurisdiction over the case; (2) assume jurisdiction over the case and apply the internal law of the forum; or (3) assume jurisdiction over the case and take into account or apply the law of some other State or States. It should be noted that when a conflicts case, one involving a foreign element, is brought before a court or administrative agency, there are three alternatives open to the latter in disposing of it: (1) dismiss the case, either because of lack of jurisdiction or refusal to assume jurisdiction over the case; (2) assume jurisdiction over the case and apply the internal law of the forum; or (3) assume jurisdiction over the case and take into account or apply the law of some other State or States. The courts power to hear cases and controversies is derived from the Constitution and the laws. While it may choose to recognize laws of foreign nations, the court is not limited by foreign sovereign law short of treaties or other formal agreements, even in matters regarding rights provided by foreign sovereigns.

Contracts; Interpretation of Contracts; Essential to contract construction is the ascertainment of the intention of the contracting parties, and such determination must take into account the contemporaneous and subsequent acts of the parties. Essential to contract construction is the ascertainment of the intention of the contracting parties, and such determination must take into account the contemporaneous and subsequent acts of the parties. This intention, once ascertained, is deemed an integral part of the contract. Obligations and Contracts; Extraordinary Inflation or Deflation; Words and Phrases; Inflation, Defined; Extraordinary Inflation, Defined. Inflation has been defined as the sharp increase of money or credit, or both, without a corresponding increase in business transaction. There is inflation when there is an increase in the volume of money and credit relative to available goods, resulting in a substantial and continuing rise in the general price level. In a number of cases, this Court had provided a discourse on what constitutes extraordinary inflation, thus: [E]xtraordinary inflation exists when there is a decrease or increase in the purchasing power of the Philippine currency which is unusual or beyond the common fluctuation in the value of said currency, and such increase or decrease could not have been reasonably foreseen or was manifestly beyond the contemplation of the parties at the time of the establishment of the obligation.

GR No. 171052 January 28, 2008 PHILIPPINE HEALTH-CARE PROVIDERS, INC. (MAXICARE), petitioner, vs. CARMELA ESTRADA/CARA HEALTH SERVICES, respondent.

Civil Law; Agencies; Brokers; Definition of a Broker as Distinguished from an Agent. In Tan v. Gullas, 393 SCRA 334 (2002), we had occasion to define a broker and distinguish it from an agent, thus: [O]ne who is engaged, for others, on a commission, negotiating contracts relative to property with the custody of which he has no concern; the negotiator between the other parties, never acting in his own name but in the name of those who employed him. [A] broker is one whose occupation is to bring the parties together, in matter of trade, commerce or navigation. An agent receives a commission upon the successful conclusion of a sale. On the other hand, a broker earns his pay merely by bringing the buyer and the seller together, even if no sale is eventually made. Same; Same; Same; To be regarded as the "procuring cause" of a sale as to be entitled to a commission, a broker's efforts must have been the foundation on which the negotiations resulting in a sale began. We have held that the term "procuring cause" in describing a broker's activity, refers to a cause originating a series of events which, without break in their continuity, result in the accomplishment of the prime objective of the employment of the broker producing a purchaser ready, willing and able to buy on the owner's terms. To be regarded as the "procuring cause" of a sale as to be entitled to a commission, a broker's efforts must have been the foundation on which the negotiations resulting in a sale began. Verily, Estrada was instrumental in the sale of the Maxicare health plans to Meralco. Without her intervention, no sale could have been consummated.

Air Transportation; Contracts of Carriage; A contract of carriage, in this case, air transport, is primarily intended to serve the traveling public and thus, imbued with public interest. The law governing common carriers consequently imposes an exacting standard of conduct. Time and again, we have declared that a contract of carriage, in this case, air transport, is primarily intended to serve the traveling public and thus, imbued with public interest. The law governing common carriers consequently imposes an exacting standard of conduct. As the aggrieved party, Chiong only had to prove the existence of the contract and the fact of its non-performance by Northwest, as carrier, in order to be awarded compensatory and actual damages. Damages; An award of moral damages, in breaches of contract, is in order upon a showing that the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith. Under Article 2220 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, an award of moral damages, in breaches of contract, is in order upon a showing that the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith. Bad faith does not simply connote bad judgment or negligence. It imports a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong. It means breach of a known duty through some motive, interest or ill will that partakes of the nature of fraud. Bad faith is in essence a question of intention. In the case at bench, the courts carefully examined the evidence as to the conduct and outward acts of Northwest indicative of its inward motive. It is borne out by the records that Chiong was given the run-around at the Northwest check-in counter, instructed to deal with a "man in barong" to obtain a boarding pass, and eventually barred from boarding Northwest Flight No. 24 to accommodate an American, W. Costine, whose name was merely inserted in the Flight Manifest, and did not even personally check-in at the counter. Under the foregoing circumstances, the award of exemplary damages is also correct given the evidence that Northwest acted in an oppressive manner towards Chiong. Attorneys Fees; Attorney's fees may be awarded when a party is compelled to litigate or incur expenses to protect his interest, or where the defendant acted in gross and evident bad faith in refusing to satisfy the plaintiff's plainly valid, just and demandable claim. Attorney's fees may be awarded when a party is compelled to litigate or incur expenses to protect his interest, or where the defendant acted in gross and evident bad faith in refusing to satisfy the plaintiff's plainly valid, just and demandable claim. In the case at bench, Northwest deliberately breached its contract of carriage with Chiong and then repeatedly refused to satisfy Chiong's valid, just and demandable claim. This unjustified refusal constrained Chiong to not only lose income under the crew agreement, but to further incur

expenses and exert effort for almost two (2) decades in order to protect his interests and vindicate his right. Therefore, this Court deems it just and equitable to grant Chiong P200,000.00 as attorney's fees. The award is reasonable in view of the time it has taken for this case to be resolved. GR No. 160613 February 12, 2008 APOLINARDITO C. QUINTANILLA and PERFECTA C. QUINTANILLA, petitioners, vs. PEDRO ABANGAN and DARYL'S COLLECTION INT'L. INC., respondents. Property; Easements; Right of Way; Requisites. It should be remembered that to be entitled to a legal easement of right of way, the following requisites must be satisfied: (1) the dominant estate is surrounded by other immovables and has no adequate outlet to a public highway; (2) proper indemnity has been paid; (3) the isolation was not due to acts of the proprietor of the dominant estate; and (4) the right of way claimed is at the point least prejudicial to the servient estate. Same; Same; Same; As between a right of way that would demolish a fence of strong materials to provide ingress and egress to a public highway and another right of way which although longer will only require a van or vehicle to make a turn, the second alternative should be preferred. As between a right of way that would demolish a fence of strong materials to provide ingress and egress to a public highway and another right of way which although longer will only require a van or vehicle to make a turn, the second alternative should be preferred. GR No. 160956 February 13, 2008 JOAQUIN QUIMPO, SR., substituted by Heirs of Joaquin Quimpo, Sr., petitioners, vs. CONSUELO ABAD VDA. DE BELTRAN, IRENEO ABAD, DANILO ABAD, MARITES ABAD, ANITA and HELEN ABAD, respondents. Civil Law; Properties; Sales; A deed of sale, in which the stated consideration has not been, in fact, paid is a false contract, that it is void ab initio.- In Rongavilla vs. Court of Appeals, 294 SCRA 289 (1998) reiterated in Cruz vs. Bancom Finance Corp., 379 SCRA 490 (2002), we held that a deed of sale, in which the stated consideration has not been, in fact, a paid is a false contract; that it is void ab initio. Furthermore, Ocejo vs. Flores, 40 Phil. 921 (1920), ruled that a contract of purchase and sale is null and void and produces no effect whatsoever where it appears that the same is without cause or consideration which should have been the motive thereof, or the purchase price which appears thereon as paid but which in fact has never been paid by the purchaser to the vendor. Same; same; Partition; Partition may be inferred from circumstances sufficiently strong to support the presumption.- For forty-three (43) years, Consuelo and Ireneo occupied their portions of the San Jose property and significantly, Joaquin never disturbed their possession. They also installed tenants in parcel IV, and Joaquin did not prevent them from doing so, nor did he assert his ownership over the same. These unerringly point to the fact that there was indeed an oral partition of parcels III and IV. In Maglucot-Aw vs. Maglucot, 329 SCRA 78 (2000), we held, viz.: [P]artition may be inferred from circumstances sufficiently strong to support the presumption. Thus, after a long possession in severalty, a deed of partition may be presumed. It has been held that recitals in deeds, possession in severalty, a deed of partition may be presumed. It has been held that recitals in deeds, possession and occupation of land, improvements made thereon for a long series of years, and acquiescence for 60 years, furnish sufficient evidence that there was an actual partition of land either by deed or by proceedings in the probate court, which had been lost and were not recorded. Same; Same; Same; Jurisprudence is replete with rulings that any co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the common property unless a co-owner has repudiated the co-ownership; An action for partition does not prescribe and is not subject to laches.- During the pre-trial, Joaquin Quimpo admitted that: Eustaquia Perfecto Abad and Diego Abad had two (2) children by the names of Leon Abad and Joaquin Abad; that Leon Abad has three (3) children namely: Anastacia, Wilfredo and Consuelo, all surnamed Abad; that Joaquin Abad has only one (1) child, a daughter by the name of Amparo; Wilfredo has four (4) children, namely, Danilo, Helen, Marites and Anita; Amparo has one child, son Joaquin Quimpo, x x x Consuelo was the grandchild of Eustaquia, while respondents Danilo, Helen, Marites, Anita and also Joaquin Quimpo were Eustaquias great grandchildren. As such, respondents can rightfully ask for the confirmation of the oral partition over parcels III & IV, and the partition of parcels I and II.

Jurisprudence is replete with rulings that any co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the common property unless a co-owner has repudiated the co-ownership. This action for partition does not prescribe and is not subject and is not subject to laches.

GR No. 176842 February 18, 2008 FLORA LEONCIO, FELICIA LEONCIO and CLARITA LEONCIO (In substitution of Elpidio Leoncio, now deceased), petitioners, vs. OLYMPIA DE VERA and CELSO DE VERA, respondents.

Questions of Law; Questions of Facts; Test of Whether a question is one of law or of fact is not the appellation given to such question by the party raising the same but rather, it is whether the appellate court can determine the issue raised without reviewing or evaluating the evidence, in which case, it is a question of law, otherwise it is a question of fact. It is a well established doctrine that in petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, only questions of law may be raised by the parties and passed upon by this Court. Thus, this Court defined a question of law as distinguished from question of fact, to wit: A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state of facts, while there is a question of fact when the doubt arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts. For a question to be one of law, the same must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants or any of them. The resolution of the issue must rest solely on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances . Once it is clear that the issue invites a review of the evidence presented, the question posed is one of fact. Thus, the test of whether a question is one of law or of fact is not the appellation given to such question by the party raising the same; rather, it is whether the appellate court can determine the issue raised without reviewing or evaluating the evidence, in which case, it is a question of law; otherwise it is a question of fact. Ownership; Tax Declarations; While it is true that tax declarations or realty tax payments of property are not conclusive evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia of possession in the concept of an owner, for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual or constructive possession they constitute at least proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property . While it is true that tax declarations or realty tax payments of property are not conclusive evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia of possession in the concept of an owner, for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual or constructive possession. They constitute at least proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property. As such, this Court agrees with the CA ruling that petitioners failed to overcome the burden of proving their main contention that Emilia solely owned the subject lot.

Consignation; The rationale for consignation is to avoid the performance of an obligation becoming more onerous to the debtor by reason of causes not imputable to him. In the instant case, consignation alone would have produced the effect of payment of the rentals. The rationale for consignation is to avoid the performance of an obligation becoming more onerous to the debtor by reason of cause not imputable to him. Petitioners claim that they made a written tender of payment and actually prepared vouches for their monthly rentals. But that was insufficient to constitute a valid tender of payment. Even assuming that it was valid tender, still, it would not constitute payment for want of consignation of the amount. Well-settled is the rule that tender of payment must be accompanied by consignation in order that the effects of payment may be produced.

GR No. 147628 March 14, 2008 LUBECA MARINE MANAGEMENT (HK) LTD. and GERMAN MARINE AGENCIES, INC., petitioners, vs. MATEO ALCANTARA, respondent.

Compromise Agreements; Words and Phrases; A compromise agreement is a contract whereby the parties make reciprocal concessions to resolve their differences and put an end to litigation- it is an accepted, even desirable and encouraged, practice in courts of law and administrative tribunals. Article 1306 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides that contracting parties may agree to such stipulations, clauses, terms, and conditions as they may deem convenient, as long as they are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy. A compromise agreement is a contract whereby the parties make reciprocal concessions to resolve their differences and put an end to litigation. It is an accepted, even desirable and encouraged, practice in courts of law and administrative tribunals. Finding the above Compromise Agreement to be validly executed and not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy, we, therefore, approve the same.

GR No. 147359 March 28, 2008 IN RE: APPLICATION FOR LAND REGISTRATION OF TITLE FIELDMAN AGRICULTURAL TRADING CORPORATION, represented by KAM BIAK Y. CHAN, JR., petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Land Registration; In land registration case, publication of the notice of initial hearing is a jurisdictional requirement and non-compliance therewith affects the jurisdiction of the court; Where there was a resetting of the initial hearing in a land registration case, there is no more need for the re-publication of notice of hearing, for clearly, the avowed purpose had already been accomplished. The Republic is correct that in land registration case, publication of the notice of initial hearing is a jurisdictional requirement and on-compliance therewith affects the jurisdiction of the court. The purposes of publication of the notice is to require all persons concerned, who may have any rights or interests in the property applied for, to appear in court at a certain date and time to show cause why the application should not be granted. It is not disputed that there was publication, mailing, and posting of notice of the initial hearing set on February 28, 2995. FATCO, thus, complied with the legal requirement of serving the entire world with sufficient notice of the registration proceedings. Accordingly, as of that date, the RTC acquired jurisdiction over FATCOs application. Eve if, at the February 28, 1995 hearing, FATCOs counsel requested a resetting, and the RTC granted said request, the Republic and all interested parties were already fully apprised of the pendency of the application. When the hearing was reset to April 19, 1995, interested parties, the Republic included, may be deemed to have been given notice thereof. There was, thus, no need for the re-publication of notice of hearing, for clearly, the avowed purpose of Section 23 had already been accomplished. We, therefore, find that the application for registration was rightfully given due course by the RTC. The CA, thus, committed reversible error in holding otherwise. Same; Requisites Prior to Registration of Ones Title. Before one can register his title over a parcel of land, he must show that: first, he, by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest, has been in open, continuous, exclusive possession and occupation thereof under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945 or earlier, and second, the land subject of the application is alienable and disposable land of the public domain. Same; As the law now stands, a mere showing of possession for thirty (30) years or more is not sufficient - it must be shown too that possession and occupation had started on 12 June 1945 or earlier. Basic is the rule that an applicant in a land registration case must prove the facts and circumstances evidencing the alleged ownership of the land applied for. General statements which are mere conclusions of law and not factual proof of possession are unavailing and cannot suffice. In this case, FATCO did not present sufficient proof that its predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous and adverse possession of the subject lots since June 12 1945. At best, FATCO can only prove possession of lots No. 1505 and No. 47030 since 1948, and of lot No. 1234 since 1970. But as the now stands, a mere showing of possession for thirty (30) years or more is not sufficient. It must be shown too that possession and occupation has started on June 12, 1945 or earlier. It is clear that FATCO failed to comply with the prescribed period and occupation not only as required by Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree but also by Commonwealth Act no. 141 or the Public Land Act.

GR No. 167098 March 28, 2008 PHILIPPINE VETERANS BANK, petitioner, vs. BENJAMIN MONILLAS, respondent.

Appeals; Questions of Law; Questions of Fact; Words and Phrases; A party may directly appeal to this Court from a decision of the trial court only on pure questions of law. A question of law lies, on one hand, when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on a certain set of facts; on the other hand, a question of fact exists when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or falsehood of the alleged facts. On the procedural issue raised, we declare that the instant petition, contrary to respondent's contention, is the correct remedy to question the challenged issuances. Under the Rules of Court, a party may directly appeal to this Court from a decision of the trial court only on pure questions of law. A question of law lies, on one hand, when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on a certain set of facts; on the other hand, a question of fact exists when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or falsehood of the alleged facts. Here, the facts are not disputed; the controversy merely relates to the correct application of the law or jurisprudence to the undisputed facts. Land Titles; Real Estate Mortgages; Adverse Claims; Settled in this jurisdiction is the doctrine that a prior registration of a lien creates a preference; hence, the subsequent annotation of an adverse claim cannot defeat the rights of the mortgagee, or the purchaser at the auction sale whose rights were derived from a prior mortgage validly registered. On the merits of the petition, the Court rules that the prior registered mortgage of PVB and the foreclosure proceedings already conducted prevail over respondent's subsequent annotation of the notices of lis pendens on the titles to the property. Settled in this jurisdiction is the doctrine that a prior registration of a lien creates a preference; hence, the subsequent annotation of an adverse claim cannot defeat the rights of the mortgagee, or the purchaser at the auction sale whose rights were derived from a prior mortgage validly registered. A contrary rule will make a prior registration of a mortgage or any lien nugatory or meaningless. It may not be amiss to point out, at this juncture, that the doctrine applies with greater force in this case considering that the annotation of the notice of lis pendens was made not only after the registration of the mortgage, but also, and much later, after the conclusion of the foreclosure sale. Furthermore, the mortgagee itself, PVB, is the purchaser of the subject properties in the foreclosure sale. Same; The public interest in upholding the indefeasibility of a certificate of title, as evidence of the lawful ownership of the land or of any encumbrance thereon, protects a buyer or mortgagee who, in good faith, relied upon what appears on the face of the certificate of title. The Court also notes that PVB is an innocent mortgagee for value. When the lots were mortgaged to it by Ireneo, the titles thereto were in the latter's name, and they showed neither vice nor infirmity. In accepting the mortgage, petitioner was not required to make any further investigation of the titles to the properties being given as security, and could rely entirely on what is stated in the aforesaid titles. The public interest in upholding the indefeasibility of a certificate of title, as evidence of the lawful ownership of the land or of any encumbrance thereon, protects a buyer or mortgagee who, in good faith, relied upon what appears on the face of the certificate of title. Same; Laches; Foreclosure of Mortgage; Laches, being a doctrine in equity, cannot be invoked to resist the enforcement of a legal right. Furthermore, oft-repeated is the rule that the foreclosure sale retroacts to the date of the registration of the mortgage. Thus, it no longer matters that the annotation of the sheriff's certificate of sale and the affidavit of consolidation of ownership was made subsequent to the annotation of the notice of lis pendens. PVB cannot even be considered to have slept on its rights when it only registered the Sheriffs certificate of sale after the lapse of almost 15 years, because, as already discussed, it had registered its prior mortgage and had already foreclosed on the same. Petitioner, therefore, had every reason to expect that its rights were amply protected. And the mortgagor was even benefited by this late registration of the Sheriff's Sale, because then, he would still have a chance to redeem the property. Laches, being a doctrine in equity, cannot be invoked to resist the enforcement of a legal right. Furthermore, oft-repeated is the rule that the foreclosure sale retroacts to the date of the registration of the mortgage. Thus, it no longer matters that the annotation of the sheriff's certificate of sale and the affidavit of consolidation of ownership was made subsequent to the annotation of the notice of lis pendens.

GR No. 153420 April 16, 2008

PARAISO INTERNATIONAL PROPERTIES, INC., petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE'S HOUSING LAND CORPORATION, respondents.

Remedial Law; Certiorari; For a writ of certiorari to issue, the applicant must show that the court or tribunal acted with grave abuse of discretion in issuing the challenged order. For a writ of certiorari to issue, the applicant must show that the court or tribunal acted with grave abuse of discretion in issuing the challenged order. Grave abuse of discretion is defined as such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law. Same; Civil law; Compromise Agreements; The absence of a specific date does not adversely affect the agreement considering that the date of execution is not an essential element of a contract. To elucidate, the absence of a specific date does not adversely affect the agreement considering that the date of execution is not an essential element of a contract. A compromise agreement is essentially a contract perfected by mere consent, the latter being manifested by the meeting of the offer and the acceptance upon the thing and the cause which are to constitute the contract. The CA should have allowed greater laxity in scrutinizing the compromise agreement, not only because the absence of a specific date is a mere formal defect, but also because the signatories to the compromise indicated the date when they signed the agreement beside their signatures. These signatories are also sufficiently authorized to enter into a compromise by the respective board of directors of the petitioner and the respondent. It is not amiss to state at this point that in National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia v. Court of Appeals, we approved an undated compromise agreement.

GR No. 154740 April 16, 2008 HENRY DELA RAMA CO, petitioner, vs. ADMIRAL UNITED SAVINGS BANK, respondent.

Civil Law; Negotiable Instruments Law; Loans; Accommodation Party; An accommodation party who lends his name to enable the accommodated party to obtain credit or raise money is liable on the instrument to a holder for value even if he receives no part of the consideration. Cos assertion that he merely acted as an accommodation party for METRO RENT cannot release him from liability under the note. An accommodation party who lends his name to enable the accommodated party to obtain credit or raise money is liable on the instrument to a holder for value even if he receives no part of the consideration. He assumes the obligation to the other party and binds himself to pay the note on its due date. By signing the note, Co thus became liable for the debt even if he had no direct personal interest in the obligation or did not receive any benefit therefrom. Same; Mortgages; Payment; The receipts of payment although not exclusive were deemed to be the best evidence of the fact of payment; Cancellation of mortgage is not conclusive proof of payment of a loan even as it may serve as basis for an inference that payment of the principal obligation had been made. - Co also offered the alternative defense that the loan had already been extinguished by payment. He testified that METRO RENT paid the loan a week before April 11, 1983. In Alonzo v. San Juan, 451 SCRA 45 (2005), we held that the receipts of payment, although not exclusive, were deemed to be the best evidence of the fact of payment. In this case, no receipt was presented to substantiate the claim of payment. Instead, Co presented a Release of Real Estate Mortgage dated April 11, 1983 to prove his assertion. But a cancellation of mortgage is not conclusive proof of payment of a loan, even as it may serve as basis for an inference that payment of the principal obligation had been made. Same; Same; Same; When the plaintiff alleges nonpayment, still the general rule is that the burden rests on the defendant to prove payment rather than on the plaintiff to prove nonpayment . Jurisprudence is replete with rulings that in civil cases, the party who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it. Burden of proof is the duty of a party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to prove the truth of his claim or defense by the amount of evidence

required by law. Thus, a party who pleads payment as a defense has the burden of proving that such payment had, in fact, been made. When the plaintiff alleges nonpayment, still, the general rule is that the burden rests on the defendant to prove payment, rather than on the plaintiff to prove nonpayment.

GR No. 163684 April 16, 2008 FAUSTINA CAMITAN and DAMASO LOPEZ, petitioners, vs. FIDELITY INVESTMENT CORPORATION, respondent. Land Titles; Reconstitution of Title; If an owners duplicate copy of a certificate of title has not been lost but is in fact in the possession of another person, the reconstituted title is void, as the court rendering the decision never acquires jurisdiction. With proof that the owners duplicate copy of the TCT was in the possession of Fidelity, the RTC Decision dated April 8, 1994 was properly annulled. In a catena of case, we have consistently ruled that if an owners duplicate copy of a certificate of title has not been lost but is in fac6 in the possession of another person, the reconstituted title is void, as the court rendering the decision never acquires jurisdiction. Consequently, the decision may be attacked at any time. Same; Same; The RTC acting only as a land registration court with limited jurisdiction, has no jurisdiction to pass upon the question of actual ownership of the land covered by the lost owners duplicate copy of the certificate of title. In a petition for the issuance of a new owners duplicate copy of a certificate of title in lieu of one allegedly lost, on which this case is rooted, the RTC, acting only as a land registration court with limited jurisdiction, has no jurisdiction to pass upon the question of actual ownership of the land covered by the lost owners duplicate copy of the certificate of title. Consequently, any question involving the issue of ownership must be threshed out in a separate suit where the trial court will conduct a full-blown hearing with the parties presenting their respective evidence to prove ownership over the subject realty.

GR No. 140944 April 30, 2008 RAFAEL ARSENIO S. DIZON, in his capacity as the Judicial Administrator of the Estate of the deceased JOSE P. FERNANDEZ, petitioner, vs. COURT OF TAX APPEALS and COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.

Civil Law; Obligations; Condonation or Remission of Debt; Words and Phrases; Definition of Condonation or Remission of Debt. It is admitted that the claims of the Estates aforementioned creditors have been condoned. As a mode of extinguishing an obligation, condonation or remission of debt is defined as: an act of liberality, by virtue of which, without receiving any equivalent, the creditor renounces the enforcement of the obligation, which is extinguished in its entirety or in that part or aspect of the same to which the remission refers. It is an essential characteristic of remission that it be gratuitous, that there is no equivalent received for the benefit given; once such equivalent exists, the nature of the act changes. It may become dation in payment when the creditor receives a thing different form that stipulated; or novation, when the object or principal conditions of the obligation should be changed; or compromise, when the matter renounced is in litigation or dispute and in exchange of some concession which the creditors receives. GR No. 169790 April 30, 2008 CONGREGATION OF THE RELIGIOUS OF THE VIRGIN MARY and/or THE SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE RELIGIOUS OF THE VIRGIN MARY, represented by The REVEREND MOTHER MA. CLARITA BALLEQUE, petitioner, vs. EMILIO Q. OROLA, JOSEPHINE FATIMA LASERNA OROLA, MYRNA ANGELINE LASERNA OROLA, MANUEL LASERNA OROLA, MARJORIE MELBA LASERNA OROLA & ANTONIO LASERNA OROLA, respondents.

Civil Law; Contracts; Rescission; Specific Performance; The present article, as in the Old Civil Code, contemplates alternative remedies for the injured party who is granted the option to pursue, as principal actions, either a rescission or specific performance of the obligation, with payment of damages in each case. Article 1191, as presently worded, speaks of the remedy of rescission in reciprocal obligations within the context of Article 1124 of the Old Civil Code which uses the term "resolution". The remedy of resolution applies only to reciprocal obligations such that a party's breach thereof partakes of a tacit resolutory condition which entitles the injured party to rescission. The present article, as in the Old Civil Code, contemplates alternative remedies for the injured party who is granted the option to pursue, as principal actions, either a rescission or specific performance of the obligation, with payment of damages in each case. On the other hand, rescission under Article 1381 of the Civil Code, taken from Article 1291 of the Old Civil Code, is a subsidiary action, and is not based on a party's breach of obligation. Same; Same; Sales; A contract of sale carries the correlative duty of the seller to deliver the property and the obligation of the buyer to pay the agreed price. As uniformly found by the lower courts, we likewise find that there was a perfected contract of sale between the parties. A contract of sale carries the correlative duty of the seller to deliver the property and the obligation of the buyer to pay the agreed price. As there was already a binding contract of sale between the parties, RVM had the corresponding obligation to pay the remaining balance of the purchase price upon the issuance of the title in the name of respondents. The supposed 2-year period within which to pay the balance did not affect the nature of the agreement as a perfected contract of sale. In fact, we note that this 2year period is neither reflected in any of the drafts to the contract, nor in the acknowledgment receipt of the downpayment executed by respondents Josephine and Antonio with the conformity of Sr. Enhenco. In any event, we agree with the CA's observation that the 2-year period to effect payment has been mooted by the lapse of time. Same; Same; Same; Damages; Damages shall be awarded in either case of fulfillment or rescission of the obligation. Interest may, in the discretion of the court, be allowed upon damages awarded for breach of contract. To obviate confusion, the clear language of Article 1191 mandates that damages shall be awarded in either case of fulfillment or rescission of the obligation. In this regard, Article 2210 of the Civil Code is explicit that "interest may, in the discretion of the court, be allowed upon damages awarded for breach of contract". The ineluctable conclusion is that the CA correctly imposed interest on the remaining balance of the purchase price to cover the damages caused the respondents by RVM's breach. GR No. 147559 June 27, 2008 ARMED FORCES AND POLICE MUTUAL BENEFIT ASSOCIATION, INC., petitioner, vs. INES BOLOS SANTIAGO, respondent.

Land Titles and Deeds; Attachment; Words and Phrases; Voluntary Registration and Involuntary Registration, Distinguished. The notice of levy on attachment in favor of petitioner may be annotated on TCT No. PT-94912. Levin v. Bass, 91 Phil. 420 (1952), provided the distinction between voluntary registration and involuntary registration. In voluntary registration, such as a sale, mortgage, lease and the like, if the owners duplicate certificate be not surrendered and presented or if no payment of registration fees be made within fifteen (15) days, entry in the day book of the deed of sale does not operate to convey and affect the land sold. In involuntary registration, such as an attachment, levy upon execution, lis pendens and the like, entry thereof in the book is a sufficient notice to all persons of such adverse claim. Same; Same; The entry of the notice of levy on attachment in the primary entry book or day book of the Registry of Deeds is sufficient notice to all persons that the land is already subject to an attachment. The entry of the notice of levy on attachment in the primary entry book or day book of the Registry of Deeds on September 14, 1994 is sufficient notice to all persons including the respondent, that the land is already subject to an attachment already binds the land insofar as third persons are concerned. The fact that the deed of absolute sale was dated February 24, 1994 is of no moment with regard to third persons. Same; Same; Property Registration Decree (P.D. No. 1529); Sections 51 and 52 of P.D. No. 1529 provide that the act of registration is the operative act to convey or affect the land insofar as third persons are concerned; Constructive notice is also created upon registration of every conveyance, mortgage, lease, lien, attachment, order, judgment, instrument or entry affecting registered land. Sections 51 and 52 of the Property Registration Decree (Presidential Decree [P.D.] 1529) provide: SEC. 51. Conveyance and other dealings by registered owner. An

owner of registered land may convey, mortgage, lease, charge, or otherwise deal with the same in accordance with existing laws. He may use such forms of deeds, mortgages, leases or other voluntary instruments as are sufficient in law. But no deed, mortgage, lease or other voluntary instrument, except a will purporting to convey or affect registered land shall take effect as a conveyance or bind the land, but shall operate only as a contract between the parties and as evidence of authority to the Registry of Deeds to make registration. The act of registration shall be the operative act to convey or affect the land insofar as third persons are concerned, and in all cases under this Decree, the registration shall be made in the office of the Register of Deeds for the province or city where the land lies. SEC. 52. Constructive notice upon registration. Every conveyance, mortgage, lease, lien, attachment, order, judgment, instrument or entry affecting registered land shall, if registered, filed or entered in the office of the Register of Deeds for the province or city where the land to which it relates lies, be constructive notice to all persons from the time of such registering, filing or entering. Under the aforesaid provisions, the act of registration is the operative act to convey or affect the land insofar as the third persons are concerned. Constructive notice is also created upon registration of every conveyance, mortgage, lease, lien, attachment, order, judgment, instrument or entry affecting registered land. Same; Same; Same; Superiority and preference in rights are given to the registration of the levy on attachment; Although the notice of attachment has not been noted on the certificate of title, its notation in the book of entry of the Register of Deeds produces all the effects which the law gives to its registration or inscription. In this case, the preference created by the levy on attachment is not diminished by the subsequent registration of the prior sale to respondent. The attachment that was registered before the sale takes precedence over the latter. Superiority and preference in rights are given to the registration of the levy on attachment; although the notice of attachment has not been noted on the certificate of title, its notation in the book of entry of the Register of Deeds produces all the effects which the law gives to its registration or inscription. Same; Same; Same; Under the rule of notice, it is presumed that the purchaser has examined every instrument of record affecting the title, a presumption which is irrebuttable; A declaration from the court that the buyer is in bad faith is not necessary in order that the notice of levy on attachment may be annotated on a transfer certificate of title. Respondent cannot be considered an innocent purchaser for value. Under the rule of notice, it is resumed that the purchaser has examined every instrument of record and is presumed to know every fact shown by the record and to know every fact which an examination of the record would have disclosed. This presumption cannot be overcome by proof of innocence or good faith. Otherwise, the very purpose and object of the law requiring a record would be destroyed. Such presumption cannot be defeated by proof of want of knowledge of what the record contains any more than one may be permitted to show that he was ignorant of the provision of the law. The rule that all persons must take notice of the facts which the public record contains is a rule of law. The rule must be absolute; any variation would lead to endless confusion and useless litigation. For these reasons, a declaration from the court that respondent was in bad faith is not necessary in order that the notice of levy on attachment may be annotated on TCT No. PT-94912. Same; Same; Same; As long as the requisites required by law in order to affect attachment are complied with and the appropriate fees duly paid, attachment is duly perfected, and the attachment already binds the land. The fact that the notice of levy on attachment was not annotated on the original title on file in the Registry of Deeds, which resulted in its non-annotation on TCT No. PT-94912, should not prejudice the petitioner. As long as the requisites required by law in order to effect attachment are complied with and the appropriate fees duly paid, attachment is duly perfected. The attachment already binds the land. This because what remains to be done lies not within the petitioners power to perform but is a duty incumbent solely on the Register of Deeds. Same; Same; Same; As a rule, the functions of the register of Deeds are generally regarded as ministerial and said officer has no power to pass upon the legality of an order issued by a court of justice. The Administrator of the LRA did not commit a reversible error in referring to the court the propriety of annotating the notice of levy on attachment. Section 71 of PD 1529 is the controlling law on the matter, viz.: SEC. 71. Surrender of certificate in involuntary dealings. If an attachment or other lien in the nature of involuntary dealing in registered land is registered, and the duplicate certificate is not presented at the time of registration, the Register of Deeds shall, within thirty-six hours thereafter, send notice by mail to the registered owner, stating that such paper has been registered, and requesting him to send or produce his duplicate certificate so that a memorandum of the attachment or other lien may be made thereon. If the owner neglects or refuses to comply within a reasonable time, the Register of Deeds shall report the matter to the court, and it shall, after notice, enter an order to the owner, to produce his certificate at a time and place named therein, and may enforce the order by suitable process. In this case, since respondent refuses

to surrender the owners duplicate certificate so that the attachment lien may be annotated, a court order is necessary in order to compel the respondent to surrender her title. As a rule, the functions of the register of Deeds are generally regarded as ministerial ad said officer has no power to pass upon the legality of an order issued by a court of justice.

GR No. 160795 June 27, 2008 CORINTHIAN GARDENS ASSOCIATION, INC., petitioner, vs. SPOUSES REYNALDO and MARIA LUISA TANJANGCO, and SPOUSES FRANK and TERESITA CUASO, respondents.

Torts; Quasi-Delicts; Evidences; Damages; In every tort case filed under Article 2176 of the Civil Code, plaintiff has to prove by a preponderance of evidence: (1) the damages suffered by the plaintiff; (2) the fault or negligence of the defendant or some other person fir whose act he must respond; and (3) the connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence and the damages incurred. The instant case is obviously one for tort, as governed by Article 2176 of the Civil Code, which provides: ART. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-delict and is governed by the provision of this Chapter. In every tort case filed under this provision, plaintiff has to prove by a preponderance of evidence: (1) the damages suffered by the plaintiff; (2) the fault or negligence of the defendant or some other person for whose act he must respond; and (3) the connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence and the damages incurred. Same; Same; Negligence; Test to Determine Negligence; Words and Phrases; Negligent Act, Defined. A negligent act is an inadvertent act; it may be one which creates a situation involving an unreasonable risk to another because of the expectable action of the other, a third person, an animal, or a force of nature. A negligent act is on from which an ordinary prudent person in the actors position, in the same or similar circumstances, would foresee such as appreciable risk of harm to others as to cause him not to do the act or to do it in a more careful manner. The test to determine the existence negligence in a particular case may be stated as follows: Did the defendant in committing the alleged negligent act us that reasonable care and caution which as ordinary person would have used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence. The law, in effect, adopts the standard supplied by the imaginary conduct of the discreet paterfamilias in Roman law. The existence of negligence in a given case is not determined by reference to the personal judgment of the actor in the situation before him. The law considers what would be reckless, blameworthy, or negligent in a man or ordinary intelligence and prudence, and determines liability according to that standard. Same; Same; It is not just or equitable to relieve a subdivision association of any liability arising from the erection of a perimeter fence which encroached upon another persons lot when, by its very own Manual of Rules and Regulations, it imposes its authority over all its members to the end that no new construction can be started unless the plans are approved by the Association and the appropriate cash, bond and pre-construction fees are paid. By its Manual of Rules and Regulations, it is reasonable to assume that Corinthian, through its representative, in the approval of building plans, and in the conduct of periodic inspections of on-going construction projects within the subdivision, is responsible in insuring compliance with the approved plans, inclusive of the construction of perimeter walls, which in this case is the subject of dispute between the Tanjangcos and the Cuasos. It is not just or equitable to relieve Corinthian of any liability when, by its very own rules, it imposes its authority over all its members to the end that no new construction can be started unless the plans are approved by the Association and the appropriate cash bond and pre-construction fees are paid. Moreover, Corinthian can impose sanctions for violating these rules. Thus, the proposition that the inspection is merely a table inspection and therefore, should exempt Corinthian from liability is unacceptable. After all, if the supposed inspection is merely a table inspection and the approval granted to every member is a mere formality, then the purpose of the rules would be defeated. Compliance therewith would not be mandatory, and sanctions imposed for violations could be disregarded. Corinthians imprimatur on the construction of the Cuasos perimeter wall over the property of the Tanjangcos assured the Cuasos that everything was in order. Lease; Judicial Notice; The reasonable amount of rent may not be determined by judicial notice but by supporting evidence, such as (1) the realty assessment of the land, (2) the increase in realty taxes, and (3) the prevailing rate of rentals in the vicinity. Our ruling in Spouses Badillo v. Tayag, 400 SCRA 494 (2003) is instructive: Citing Sia v.

Court of Appeals [272 SCRA 141, May 5, 1997], petitioners argue that the MTC may take judicial notice of the reasonable rental or the general rice increase of land in order to determine the amount of rent that may be awarded to them. In that case, however, this Court relied on the CAs factual findings, which were based on the evidence presented before the trial court. In determining reasonable rent, the RTC therein took account of the following factors: 1) the realty assessment of the land, 2) the increase in realty taxes, and 3) the prevailing rate of rentals in the vicinity. Clearly, the trial court relied, not on mere judicial notice, but on the evidence presented before it. Indeed, courts may fix the reasonable amount of rent for the use and occupation of a disputed property. However, petitioners herein erred in assuming that courts, in determining the amount of rent, could simply rely on their own appreciation of land values without considering any evidence. As we have said earlier, a court may fix the reasonable amount of rent, but it must still base its action on the evidence adduced by the parties. In Herrera v. Bollos [G.R. No. 138258, January 18, 2002], the trial court awarded rent to the defendants in a forcible entry case. Reversing the RTC, this Court declared that the reasonable amount of rent could be determined not by mere judicial notice, but by supporting evidence: x x x A court cannot take judicial notice of a factual matter in controversy. The court may take judicial notice of matters of public knowledge, or which are capable of unquestionable demonstration, or ought to be known to judges because of their judicial functions. Before taking such judicial notice, the court must allow parties to be heard thereon. Hence, there can be no judicial notice on the rental value of the premises in question without supporting evidence. GR No. 151424 July 4, 2008 EAGLE REALTY CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority, NATIONAL TREASURER OF THE PHILIPPINES, HEIRS OF CASIANO DE LEON, MARIA SOCORRO DE LEON, and PILARITA M. REYES, respondents. Civil Law; Property; Land Registration; Land Titles; As the public officer having supervision and control over Registers of Deeds, the Commissioner of Land Registration therefore also has the authority to file the action himself. Under Section 6, P.D. 1529, the Commissioner of Land Registration shall exercise supervision and control over all Registers of Deeds. It is well understood that supervision and control includes the authority to act directly whenever a specific function is entrusted by law or regulation to a subordinate. As the public officer having supervision and control over Registers of Deeds, the Commissioner of Land Registration therefore also has the authority to file the action himself. Same; Same; Same; Same; The principle of indefeasibility of a Torrens title does not apply where fraud attended the issuance of the title; The Torrens title does not furnish a shield for fraud . The principle of indefeasibility of a Torrens title does not apply where fraud attended the issuance of the title. The Torrens title does not furnish a shield for fraud. As such, a title issued base on void documents may be annulled. Moreover, elementary is the rule that prescription does not run against the State and its subdivisions. Same; Same; Same; Same; Buyer in Good Faith; He who alleges that he is a purchaser in good faith and for value of registered land bears the onus of proving such statement; Burden is not discharged by involving the ordinary presumption of good faith. Case Law has it that he who alleges that he is a purchaser in good faith and for value of registered land bears the onus of proving such statement. This burden is not discharged by involving the ordinary presumption of good faith. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The general rule is that a purchaser may rely on what appears on the face of a certificate of title; An exception to this rule is when there exist important facts that would create suspicion in an otherwise reasonable man (and spur him) to go beyond the present title and to investigate those that preceded it. The general rule is that a purchaser may rely on what appears on the face of a certificate of title. He may be considered a purchaser in good faith even if he simply examines the latest certificate of title. An exception to this rule is when there exist important facts that would create suspicion in an otherwise reasonable man (and spur him) to go beyond the present title and to investigate those that preceded it. The presence of anything which excites or arouses suspicion should then prompt the vendee to look beyond the certificate and investigate the title of the vendor as appearing on the face of said certificate. One who falls within the exception can neither be denominated an innocent purchaser for value no a purchaser in good fait, hence, does not merit the protection of the law. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A corporation engaged in the buying and selling of real estate is expected to exercise a higher standard of care and diligence in ascertaining the status and condition of the property subject of its business transaction. Petitioner is a corporation engaged in the real estate business. A corporation engaged in

the buying and selling of real estate is expected to exercise a higher standard of care and diligence in ascertaining the status and condition of the property subject of its business transaction. Similar to investment and financing corporations, it cannot simply rely on an examination of a Torrens certificate to determine what the subject property, looks like as its condition is not apparent in the document. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Assurance Fund; It is a condition sine qua non that the person who brings the action for damages against the Assurance Fund be the registered owner and, as the holders of transfer certificates of title, that they be innocent purchasers in good faith and for value. Petitioners claim against the Assurance Fund must necessarily fail. Its situation does not come within the ambit of the cases protected by the Assurance Fund. It was not deprived of land in consequence of bringing it under the operation of the Torrens system through fraud or in consequence of any error, omission, mistake or misdescription in the certificate of title. It was simply a victim of unscrupulous individuals. More importantly, it is a condition sine qua non that the person who brings the action for damages against the Assurance Fund be the registered owner and, as the holders of transfer certificates of title, the they be ready established that petitioner does not qualify as such. GR No. 176929 July 4, 2008 INOCENCIO Y. LUCASAN for himself and as the Judicial Administrator of the Intestate Estate of the late JULIANITA SORBITO LUCASAN, petitioner, vs. PHILIPPINE DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION (PDIC) as receiver and liquidator of the defunct PACIFIC BANKING CORPORATION, respondent.

Remedial Law; Actions; Quieting of Title Requisites to Avail of the Remedy of Quieting of Title. To avail of the remedy of quieting of title, two (2) indispensable requisites must concur, namely: (1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or an equitable title to or interest in the real property subject of the action; and (2) the deed, claim, encumbrance or proceeding claimed to be casting a cloud on his title must be shown to be n fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy. Stated differently, the plaintiff must show that he has a legal or at least an equitable title over the real property in dispute, and that some deed or proceeding beclouds its validity or efficacy. GR No. 148444 July 14, 2008 ASSOCIATED BANK (now UNITED OVERSEAS BANK [PHILS.]), petitioner, vs. SPOUSES RAFAEL and MONALIZA PRONSTROLLER, respondents.

Contracts; Mutuality of Contracts; Unilateral Rescission; Basic is the rule that a contract constitutes the law between the parties; Parties may validly stipulate the unilateral rescission of a contract. Basic is the rule that a contract constitutes the law between the parties. Concededly, parties may validly stipulate the unilateral rescission of a contract. This is usually in the form of a stipulation granting the seller the right to forfeit installments or deposits made by the buyer in case of the latter's failure to make full payment on the stipulated date. While the petitioner in the instant case may have the right, under the March 18 agreement, to unilaterally rescind the contract in case of respondents' failure to comply with the terms of the contract, the execution of the July 14 Agreement prevented petitioner from exercising the right to rescind. This is so because there was in the first place, no breach of contract, as the date of full payment had already been modified by the later agreement. Same; Valid Offer; It is contrary to human experience that parties would abandon their right to a contract and subject property; absent any form of protection, considering that they have a continuing interest over the said property and when they have the capacity to pay for the same. Neither can the July 14, 1993 agreement be considered abandoned by respondents' act of making a new offer, which was unfortunately rejected by petitioner. A careful reading of the June 6, 1994 letter of respondents impels this Court to believe that such offer was made only to demonstrate their capacity to purchase the subject property. Besides, even if it was a valid new offer, they did so only due to the fraudulent misrepresentation made by petitioner that their earlier contracts had already been rescinded. Considering respondents' capacity to pay and their continuing interest in the subject property, to abandon their right to the contract and to the property, absent any form of protection, is contrary to human nature. The presumption that a person takes ordinary care of his concerns applies and remains unrebutted. Obviously therefore,

respondents made the new offer without abandoning the previous contract. Since there was never a perfected new contract, the July 14, 1993 agreement was still in effect and there was no abandonment to speak of. Action; Lis Pendens; Effect of Filing; Words and Phrases; Lis Pendens, Defined; Founded upon public policy and necessity, lis pendens is intended to keep the properties in litigation within the power of the court until the litigation is terminated, and to prevent the defeat of the judgment or decree by subsequent alienation. Its notice is an announcement to the whole world that a particular property is in litigation and serves as a warning that one who acquires an interest over said property does so at his own risk or that he gambles on the result of the litigation over said property. The filing of a notice of lis pendens has a twofold effect(1) to keep the subject matter of the litigation within the power of the court until the entry of the final judgment to prevent the defeat of the final judgment by successive alienations; and (2) to bind a purchaser, bona fide or not, of the land subject of the litigation to the judgment or decree that the court will promulgate subsequently. Lis pendens, which literally means pending suit, refers to the jurisdiction, power or control which a court acquires over property involved in a suit, pending the continuance of the action, and until final judgment. Founded upon public policy and necessity, lis pendens is intended to keep the properties in litigation within the power of the court until the litigation is terminated, and to prevent the defeat of the judgment or decree by subsequent alienation. Its notice is an announcement to the whole world that a particular property is in litigation and serves as a warning that one who acquires an interest over said property does so at his own risk or that he gambles on the result of the litigation over said property. The filing of a notice of lis pendens has a twofold effect: (1) to keep the subject matter of the litigation within the power of the court until the entry of the final judgment to prevent the defeat of the final judgment by successive alienations; and (2) to bind a purchaser, bona fide or not, of the land subject of the litigation to the judgment or decree that the court will promulgate subsequently. Same; Same; Land Titles and Deeds; Settled is the rule that the notice is not considered a collateral attack on the title, for he indefeasibility of the title shall not be used to defraud another especially if the latter performs acts to protect his rights such as the timely registration of a notice of lis pendens. - Settled registration, therefore, gives the court clear authority to cancel the title of the spouses Vaca, since the sale of the subject property was made after the notice of lis pendens. Settled is the rule that the notice is not considered a collateral attack on the title,for he indefeasibility of the title shall not be used to defraud another especially if the latter performs acts to protect his rights such as the timely registration of a notice of lis pendens.

GR No. 149338 July 28, 2008 UNLAD RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, UNLAD RURAL BANK OF NOVELETA, INC., UNLAD COMMODITIES, INC., HELENA Z. BENITEZ, and CONRADO L. BENITEZ II, petitioners, vs. RENATO P. DRAGON, TARCISIUS R. RODRIGUEZ, VICENTE D. CASAS, ROMULO M. VIRATA, FLAVIANO PERDITO, TEOTIMO BENITEZ, ELENA BENITEZ, and ROLANDO SUAREZ, respondents.

Civil Law; Contracts; Rescission; Jurisdiction; The rescission of the Memorandum of Agreement is a cause of action within the jurisdiction of he trial courts, notwithstanding the fact that the parties involved are all directors of the same corporation. The main issue in this case is the rescission of he Memorandum of Agreement . This is to be distinguished from respondents allegation of the alleged mismanagement and dissipation of corporate assets by the petitioner which is based on the prayer for receivership over the bank. The two issues, albeit related, are obviously separate, as they pertain to different acts of the parties involved. The issue of receivership does not arise from the parties obligations under the Memorandum of Agreement, but rather from specific acts attributed to petitioners as members of the Board of Directors of the Bank. Clearly, the rescission of the Memorandum of Agreement is a cause of action within the jurisdiction of he trial courts, notwithstanding the fact that the parties involved are all directors of the same corporation. Same; Same; Same; Same; The Securities Regulation Code which took effect in 2000 has transferred jurisdiction over such disputes to the Regional Trial Court. This point has been rendered moot by the Republic Ac (R.A.) No. 8799, also known as the Securities Regulation Code. This law, which took effect in 2000 has transferred jurisdiction

over such disputes to the Regional Trial Court. Consequently, whether the cause of action stems from a contractual dispute or one that involves intra-corporate matters, the RTC already has jurisdiction over this case. In this light, the question of whether the doctrine of estoppel by laches applies, as enunciated by this court in Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy, 23 SCRA 29 (1968), no longer finds relevance. Same; Same; Same; Prescription; The prescriptive period that should apply to this case is that provided for in Article 1144. Articles 1381 sets out what are rescissible contracts, The Memorandum of Agreement subject of this controversy does not fall under the above enumeration. Accordingly, the prescriptive period that should apply to this case is that provided for in Article 1144, to wit: Article 1144. The following actions must be brought within ten years from the time the right of action accrues: (1) upon a written contract. Same; Same; Same; Same; The right of action accrues from the moment the breach of right or duty occurs . Based on the records of this case, the action was commenced on July 3, 1987, while the Memorandum of Agreement was entered into on December 29, 1982. Article 1144 specifically provides that the 10-year period is counted from the time the right of action accrues. The right of action accrues from the moment the breach of right or duty occurs. Thus, the original Complaint was filed well within the prescriptive period. Same; Same; Same; Mutual restitution is required in cases involving rescission under Article1191 . This means bringing the parties back to their original status prior to the inception of the contract. Same; Same; Same; Rescission has the effect of unmaking a contract, or its undoing from the beginning, and not merely its termination; To rescind is to declare a contract void at its inception and to put and end to it as though it never was. Rescission creates the obligation to return the object of the contract. It can be carried out only when the one who demands rescission can return whatever he may be obliged to restore. To rescind is to declare a contract void at its inception and to put and end to it as though it never was. It is not merely to terminate it and release the parties from further obligations to each other, but to abrogate it from the beginning and restore the parties to their relative positions as if no contract has been made. Same; Same; Same; Rescission has the effect of abrogating the contract in all parts. When a decree for rescission is handed down, it is the duty of the court to required both parties to surrender that which they have respectively received and to place each other as far as practicable in his original situation. Rescission has the effect of abrogating the contract in all parts Same; Damages; Though incapable of precise pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendants wrongful act or omission; Requisites to Award Moral Damages . Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of precise pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendants wrongful act or omission. Article 2220 of the Civil Code further provides that moral damages may be recovered in case of a breach of contract where the defendant acted in bad faith. To award moral damages, a court must be satisfied with proof of the following requisites; (1) an injury whether physical, mental or psychological clearly sustained by the claimant; (2) a culpable act or omission factually established; (3) a wrongful act or omission of the defendant as the proximate cause of the injury sustained by the claimant; and (4) the award of damages predicted on any of the cases stated in Article 2219. Same; Same; Exemplary Damages; Exemplary damages cannot be recovered as a matter of right. While these need not be proved, respondents must show that they are entitled to moral, temperate or compensatory damages. We find that respondents are indeed entitled to moral damages; thus, the award for exemplary damages is in order.

Sales; Buyers in Good Faith; Land Titles and Deeds; The minimum requirement of a good faith buyer is that the vendee of the real property should at least see the owner's duplicate copy of the title; A person who deals with registered land through someone who is not the registered owner is expected to look beyond the certificate of title and examine all the factual circumstances thereof in order to determine if the vendor has the capacity to transfer any interest in the land. Notable likewise is that the owner's duplicate copy of TCT No. 76496 in the name of Capistrano had always been in his possession since he gave Scott only a photocopy thereof pursuant to the latter's authority to look for a buyer of the property. On the other hand, the Jamilars were able to acquire a new owner's

duplicate copy thereof by filing an affidavit of loss and a petition for the issuance of another owner's duplicate copy of TCT No. 76496. The minimum requirement of a good faith buyer is that the vendee of the real property should at least see the owner's duplicate copy of the title. A person who deals with registered land through someone who is not the registered owner is expected to look beyond the certificate of title and examine all the factual circumstances thereof in order to determine if the vendor has the capacity to transfer any interest in the land. He has the duty to ascertain the identity of the person with whom he is dealing and the latter's legal authority to convey.

GR No. 156310 July 31, 2008 XERXES A. ABADIANO, petitioner, vs. SPOUSES JESUS and LOLITA MARTIR, respondents.

Land Titles; Property Registration Decree (P.D. NO. 1529); Prescription; laches; Indefeasibility and imprescriptibility are the cornerstones of land registration proceedings; Even if a Torrens title is indefeasible and imprescriptible, the registered landowner may lose his right to recover the possession of his registered property by reason of laches. Under the Property Registration Decree, no title to registered land in derogation of the title of the registered owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession. Indefeasibility and imprescriptibility are the cornerstones of land registration proceedings. Barring any mistake or use of fraud in the procurement of the title, owners may rest secure on their ownership and possession once their title is registered under the protective mantle of the Torrens system. Nonetheless, even if a Torrens title is indefeasible and imprescriptible, the registered landowner may lose his right to recover the possession of his registered property by reason of laches. Laches has been defined as neglect or omission to assert a right, taken in conjunction with lapse of time and other circumstances causing prejudice to an adverse party, as will operate as a bar in equity. It is a delay in the assertion of a right which works disadvantage to another because of the inequity founded on some change in the condition or relations of the property or parties. It is based on public policy which, for the peace of society, ordains that relief will be denied to a stale demand which otherwise could be a valid claim. Laches; Elements. The four basic elements of laches are: (1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of which complaint is made and for which the complaint seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the complainant's rights, the complainant having had knowledge or notice of the defendant's conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to institute suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right on which he bases his suit; and (4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant or the suit is not held to be barred. Same; Evidence; Though laches applies even to imprescriptible actions, its elements must be proved positively laches is evidentiary in nature and cannot be established by mere allegations in the pleadings. The reason for the rule is not simply the lapse of time during which the neglect to enforce the right has existed, but the changes of condition which may have arisen during the period in which there has been neglect. In other words, where a court finds that the position of the parties will change, that equitable relief cannot be afforded without doing injustice, or that the intervening rights of third persons may be destroyed or seriously impaired, it will not exert its equitable powers in order to save one from the consequences of his own neglect. Though laches applies even to imprescriptible actions, its elements must be proved positively. Laches is evidentiary in nature and cannot be established by mere allegations in the pleadings. Same; In determining whether a delay in seeking to enforce a right constitutes laches, the existence of a confidential relationship between the parties is an important circumstance for consideration, a delay under such circumstances not being so strictly regarded as where the parties are strangers to each other- the doctrine of laches is not strictly applied between near relatives, and the fact that parties not strictly applied between near relatives, and the fact that parties are connected by ties of blood or marriage tends to excuse an otherwise unreasonable delay. That petitioner and his co-heirs waited until the death of Amando Baares to try and occupy the land is understandable. They had to be careful about the actions they took, let they sow dissent within the family. Furthermore, they knew that their parents revered Amando. The Court has recognized that this reaction cannot be characterized as such delay as would amount to laches, thus: in determining whether a delay in seeking to enforce a right constitutes laches, the existence of a confidential relationship between the parties is an important circumstance for consideration, a delay under such circumstances not being so strictly regarded as where the parties are strangers to each other. The doctrine of laches is not strictly applied between near relatives, and the fact that parties are connected by ties of blood or

marriage tends to excuse an otherwise unreasonable delay. GR No. 158144 July 31, 2008 ST. MARY'S FARM, INC., petitioner, vs. PRIMA REAL PROPERTIES, INC., RODOLFO A. AGANA, JR., and THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF LAS PIAS, METRO MANILA, respondents.

Special Power of Attorney; Sales; Buyers in Good Faith; A buyer has every reason to rely on a persons authority to sell a particular property owned by a corporation on the basis of a notarized board resolution undeniably the buyer is an innocent purchaser for value in good faith. On the basis of this notarized board resolution, respondent had every reason to rely on Rodolfo Aganas authority to sell the subject property. Undeniably then, the respondent is an innocent purchaser for value in good faith. Our pronouncement in Bautista v. Silva is instructive: A buyer for value in good faith is one who buys property of another, without notice that some other person has a right to, or interest in such property and pays full and fair price for the same, at the time of such purchase, or before he has notice of the claim or interest of some other persons in the property. He buys the property with the well-founded belief that the person from whom he receives the thing had title to the property and capacity to convey it. To prove good faith, a buyer of registered and titled land need only show that he relied on the face of the title to the property. He need not prove that he made further inquiry for he is not obliged to explore beyond the four corners of the title. Such degree of proof of good faith, however, is sufficient only when the following conditions concur: first, the seller is the registered owner of the land; second, the latter is in possession thereof; and third, at the time of the sale, the buyer was not aware of any claim or interest of some other person in the property, or of any defect or restriction in the title of the seller in his capacity to convey title to the property. When the document under scrutiny is a special power of attorney that is duly notarized, the notarial acknowledgement is prima facie evidence of the fact of its due execution a buyer presented with such a document would have no choice between knowing and finding out whether a forger lurks beneath the signature on it. It is of no moment that the checks were made payable to Rodolfo Agana and not to the company which, according to the petitioner, should have alerted the respondent to inquire further into the extent of Aganas authority to transfer the subject property. This was no longer necessary considering that respondent had every reason to rely on Rodolfo Aganas authority to sell, evidenced by the notarized Certification. As explained in the Bautista case: When the document under scrutiny is a special power of attorney that is duly notarized, we know it to be a public document where the notarial acknowledgement is prima facie evidence of the fact of its due execution. A buyer presented with such a document would have no choice between knowing and finding out whether a forger lurks beneath the signature on it. The notarial acknowledgment has removed that choice from him and replaced it with a presumption sanctioned by law that the affiant appeared before the notary public and acknowledged that he executed the document, understood its import and signed it. In reality, he is deprived of such choice not because he is incapable of knowing and finding out but because, under our notarial system, he has been given the luxury of merely relying on the presumption of regularity of a duly notarized SPA. And he cannot be faulted for that because it is precisely that fiction of regularity which holds together commercial transactions across borders and time.

TAX LAW
GR No. 140944 April 30, 2008 RAFAEL ARSENIO S. DIZON, in his capacity as the Judicial Administrator of the Estate of the deceased JOSE P. FERNANDEZ, petitioner, vs. COURT OF TAX APPEALS and COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.

Same; Same; The presentation of the Bureau of Internal Revenues (BIRs) evidence is not a mere procedural technicality which may be disregarded considering that it is the only means by which the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) may ascertain and verify the truth of BIRs claims against the Estate. While the CTA is not governed strictly by technical rules of evidence, as rules of procedure are not ends in themselves and are primarily intended as tools in the administration of justice, the presentation of the BIRs evidence is not a mere procedural technicality

which may be disregarded considering that it is the only means by which the CTA may ascertain and verify the truth of BIRs claims against the Estate. The BIRs failure to formally offer these pieces of evidence, despite CTAs directives, is fatal to its cause. Such failure is aggravated by the fact that not even a single reason was advanced by the BIR to justify such fatal omission. This, we take against the BIR. Taxation; Statutory Construction; Court agrees with the date of-death valuation rule; Tax burdens are not to be imposed nor presumed to be imposed beyond what the statute expressly and clearly imports, tax statutes being construed strictissimi juris against the government . We express our agreement our agreement with the date-ofdeath valuation rule, made pursuant to the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in Ithaca Trust Co. v. United States, 279 U.S. 151, 49 S. Ct. 291, 73 L.Ed. 647 (1929). First. There is no law, nor do we discern any legislative intent in our tax laws, which disregards the date-of-death valuation principle and particularly provides that post-death developments must be considered in determining the net value of the estate. It bears emphasis that tax burdens are not to be imposed, nor presumed to be imposed, beyond what the statute expressly and clearly imports, tax statutes being construed strictissimi juris against the government. Any doubt on whether a person, article or activity is taxable is generally resolved against taxation. Second. Such construction finds relevance and consistency in our Rules on Special Proceedings wherein the term claims required to be presented against a decedents estate is generally construed to mean debts or demands of a pecuniary nature which could have been enforced against the deceased in his lifetime, or liability contracted by the deceased before his death. Therefore, the claims existing at the time of death are significant to, and should be made the basis of, the determination of allowable deductions

COMMERCIAL LAW
G.R. No. 157851 June 29, 2007 ATTY. ANDREA UY and FELIX YUSAY, petitioners, vs. ARLENE VILLANUEVA and NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, respondents.

Appeals; Only questions of law shall be raised in an appeal by certiorari before the Supreme Court; Exceptions. Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure provides that only questions of law shall be raised in an appeal by certiorari before this Court. This rule, however, admits of certain exceptions, namely, (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculations, surmises, or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (3) when there is a grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on misappreciation of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings, the same are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to those of the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner's main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; and (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record. Same; Procedural Rules and Technicalities; In the exercise of its equity jurisdiction, the Supreme Court may reverse the dismissal of appeals that are grounded merely on technicalities. In this case, the CA committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the petition without first examining its merits. The policy of our judicial system is to encourage full adjudication of the merits of an appeal. In the exercise of its equity jurisdiction, this Court may reverse the dismissal of appeals that are grounded merely on technicalities. In the past, the Court has held that technicalities should not be permitted to stand in the way

of equitably and completely resolving the rights and obligations of the parties. Where the ends of substantial justice would be better served, the application of technical rules of procedure may be relaxed. Rules of procedure should indeed be viewed as mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice.

Same; Same; Corporation Law; Corporate officers are not personally liable for the money claims of discharged corporate employees, unless they acted with evident malice and bad faith in terminating their employment. Even assuming that an employer-employee relationship does exist between petitioners and private respondent, the former still cannot be held liable with Countrywide Bank for the illegal dismissal of private respondent. Corporate officers are not personally liable for the money claims of discharged corporate employees, unless they acted with evident malice and bad faith in terminating their employment. Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Office and Employee, Explained; An office is created by the charter of the corporation and the officer is elected by the directors or stockholders, while an "employee" usually occupies no office and generally is employed not by action of the directors or stockholders but by the managing officer of the corporation who also determines the compensation to be paid to such employee. It has been held that an "office" is created by the charter of the corporation and the officer is elected by the directors or stockholders. On the other hand, an "employee" usually occupies no office and generally is employed not by action of the directors or stockholders but by the managing officer of the corporation who also determines the compensation to be paid to such employee. Given this distinction, petitioners are neither officers nor employees of the bank. They are mere depositors who sought to manage the bank in order to save it. Same; Same; Same; Solidary Liability; Obligations incurred by the corporation, acting through its directors, officers, and employees, are its sole liabilities; Exceptions. Settled is the rule in this jurisdiction that a corporation is vested by law with a legal personality separate and distinct from those acting for and in its behalf and, in general, from the people comprising it. The general rule is that obligations incurred by the corporation, acting through its directors, officers, and employees, are its sole liabilities. However, solidary liability may be incurred, but only under the following exceptional circumstances: 1. When directors and trustees or, in appropriate cases, the officers of a corporation: (a) vote for or assent to patently unlawful acts of the corporation; (b) act in bad faith or with gross negligence in directing the corporate affairs; (c) are guilty of conflict of interest to the prejudice of the corporation, its stockholders or members, and other persons; 2. When a director or officer has consented to the issuance of watered stocks or who, having knowledge thereof, did not forthwith file with the corporate secretary his written objection thereto; 3. When a director, trustee or officer has contractually agreed or stipulated to hold himself personally and solidarily liable with the corporation; or 4. When a director, trustee or officer is made, by specific provision of law, personally liable for his corporate action. Same; Same; Same; Doctrine of Piercing the Veil of Corporate Fiction; Piercing the veil of corporate fiction may only be done when "the notion of legal entity is used to defeat public convenience, justify wrong, protect fraud, or defend crime;" For the separate juridical personality of a corporation to be disregarded, the wrongdoing must be clearly and convincingly established. The doctrine of piercing the veil of corporate fiction finds no application in the case. Piercing the veil of corporate fiction may only be done when "the notion of legal entity is used to defeat public convenience, justify wrong, protect fraud, or defend crime." The general rule is that a corporation will be looked upon as a separate legal entity unless and until sufficient reason to the contrary appears. For the separate juridical personality of a corporation to be disregarded, the wrongdoing must be clearly and convincingly established. It cannot be presumed. Mere ownership by a single stockholder or

by another corporation of all or nearly all of the capital stock of a corporation is not in itself sufficient ground for disregarding the separate corporate personality. Judgments; Stare Decisis; When a court has laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain set of facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply it to all future cases in which the facts are substantially the same. We have noted petitioners' Manifestation dated January 31, 2007 and this Court's decision in Atty. Andrea Uy and Felix Yusay v. Amalia Bueno. In previous cases, the Court has held, "When a court has laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain set of facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply it to all future cases in which the facts are substantially the same. Stare decisis et non quieta movere. Stand from the basic principle of justice that like cases ought to be decided alike. Thus, where the same question relating to the same event is brought by parties similarly situated as in a previous case already litigated and decided by a competent court, the rule of stare decisis is a bar to any attempt to relitigate the same issue." G.R. No. 157658 October 15, 2007 PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RAILWAYS and VIRGILIO J. BORJA, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS (Second Division), CORAZON C. AMORES, MA. EMILIE A. MOJICA, CECILE C. SISON, DINO C. AMORES, LARISA C. AMORES, ARMAND JINO C. AMORES and JOHN C. AMORES, respondents.

Torts; Quasi-delicts; Negligence; Proximate Cause; Words and Phrases; Negligence is the failure to observe the protection of the interests of another person that degree of care, precaution and vigilance which the circumstances justly demand, whereby such other person suffers injury all that the law requires is that it is perpetually compelling upon a person to use that care and diligence expected of sensible men under comparable circumstances. We have thoroughly reviewed the records of the case and we find no cogent reason to reverse the appellate court's decision. Negligence has been defined as "the failure to observe for the protection of the interests of another person that degree of care, precaution, and vigilance which the circumstances justly demand, whereby such other person suffers injury." Using the aforementioned philosophy, it may be reliably concluded that there is no hard and fast rule whereby such degree of care and vigilance is calibrated; it is dependent upon the circumstances in which a person finds himself. All that the law requires is that it is perpetually compelling upon a person to use that care and diligence expected of sensible men under comparable circumstances. Transportation Laws; Common Carriers; Railroad Companies; Railroad companies owe to the public a duty of exercising a reasonable degree of care to avoid injuries to persons and properties at railroad crossing, which duties pertain both to the operations of trains and the maintenance of the crossings. As held in the case of Philippine National Railway v. Brunty, it may broadly be stated that railroad companies owe to the public a duty of exercising a reasonable degree of care to avoid injury to persons and property at railroad crossings, which duties pertain both to the operation of trains and to the maintenance of the crossings. Moreover, every corporation constructing or operating a railway shall make and construct at all points where such railway crosses any public road, good, sufficient, and safe crossings, and erect at such points, at sufficient elevation from such road as to admit a free passage of vehicles of every kind, a sign with large and distinct letters placed thereon, to give notice of the proximity of the railway, and warn persons of the necessity of looking out for trains. The failure of the PNR to put a cross bar, or signal light, flagman or switchman, or semaphore is evidence of negligence and disregard of the safety of the public, even if there is no law or ordinance requiring it, because public safety demands that said device or equipment be installed. Same; Same; Same; Land Transportation Traffic Code; While it is true that a person driving an automobile must use his faculties of seeing and hearing when nearing a railroad

crossing, the obligation to bring to a full stop vehicles moving in private ways before traversing any through street only accrues from the time the said through street or crossing is so designated and signed-posted. It is true that one driving an automobile must use his faculties of seeing and hearing when nearing a railroad crossing. However, the obligation to bring to a full stop vehicles moving in public highways before traversing any "through street" only accrues from the time the said "through street" or crossing is so designated and sign-posted. From the records of the case, it can be inferred that Amores exercised all the necessary precautions required of him as to avoid injury to himself and to others. The witnesses' testimonies showed that Amores slackened his speed, made a full stop, and then proceeded to cross the tracks when he saw that there was no impending danger to his life. Under these circumstances, we are convinced that Amores did everything, with absolute care and caution, to avoid the collision. Same; Same; Same; The authority in this jurisdiction is that the failure of a railroad company to install semaphore or at the very least to post a flagman or watchman to warn the public of the passing train amounts to negligence. It is settled that every person or motorist crossing a railroad track should use ordinary prudence and alertness to determine the proximity of a train before attempting to cross. We are persuaded that the circumstances were beyond the control of Amores for no person would sacrifice his precious life if he had the slightest opportunity to evade the catastrophe. Besides, the authority in this jurisdiction is that the failure of a railroad company to install a semaphore or at the very least, to post a flagman or watchman to warn the public of the passing train amounts to negligence. Same; Same; Same; The employer is actually liable for the negligence or fault on the part of its employee on the assumption of juris tantum that the employer failed to exercise diligentissimi patris families in the selection and supervision of its employees. We will now discuss the liability of petitioner PNR. Article 2180 of the New Civil Code discusses the liability of the employer once negligence or fault on the part of the employee has been established. The employer is actually liable on the assumption of juris tantum that the employer failed to exercise diligentissimi patris families in the selection and supervision of its employees. The liability is primary and can only be negated by showing due diligence in the selection and supervision of the employee, a factual matter that has not been demonstrated. Even the existence of hiring procedures and supervisory employees cannot be incidentally invoked to overturn the presumption of negligence on the part of the employer. G.R. NO. 155647 November 23, 2007 METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST COMPANY, petitioner, vs. JIMMY GO and BEMJAMIN GO BAUTISTA alias BENJAMIN GO, respondents.

Mercantile Law; Trust Receipts Law; A trust receipt is considered a security transaction designed to provide financial assistance to importers and retail dealers who do not have sufficient funds or resources to finance the importation or purchase of merchandise imported or purchased. A trust receipt is considered a security transaction designed to provide financial assistance to importers and retail dealers who do not have sufficient funds or resources to finance the importation or purchase of merchandise, and who may not be able to acquire credit except through utilization, as collateral, of the merchandise imported or purchased. It is a document in which is expressed a security transaction where the lender, having no prior title to the goods on which the lien is to be constituted, and not having prior possession over the same since possession thereof remains in the borrower, lend his money to the borrower on security of the goods which the borrower is privileged to sell, clear the lien, with an agreement to pay all or part of the proceeds of the sale to the lender. It is a security agreement pursuant to which a bank acquires a security interest in the goods. It

secures a debt, and there can be no such thing as security interest that secures no obligation. Same; Same; The subject trust receipts, being contracts of adhesion, are not per se invalid and inefficacios. The subject trust receipts, being contracts of adhesion, are not per se invalid and inefficacious. But should there be ambiguities therein, such ambiguities are to be strictly construed against Metrobank, the party that prepared them. G.R. No. 131723 December 13, 2007 MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, petitioners, vs. T.E.A.M. ELECTRONICS CORPORATION, TECHNOLOGY ELECTRONICS ASSEMBLY and MANAGEMENT PACIFIC CORPORATION; and ULTRA ELECTRONICS INSTRUMENTS, INC., respondents.

Appeals; Well-established is the doctrine that under Rule 45 of the Rule of Court, only questions of law, not of fact, may be raised before the Court; Factual findings of the trial court, especially those affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding on the Supreme Court . It is obvious that petitioner wants this Court to revisit the factual findings of the lower courts. Well-established is the doctrine that under Rule 45 of the Rule of Court, only questions of law, not of fact, may be raised before the Court. We would like to stress that this Court is not a trier of facts and may no re-examine and weigh anew the respective evidence of the parties. Factual findings of the trial court, especially those affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are binding on the Supreme Court. Public Utilities; Electric Power Industry; Negligence; A public utility has the imperative duty to make a reasonable and proper inspection of its apparatus and equipment to ensure that they do not malfunction, and the due diligence to discover and repair defects therein failure to perform such duties constitutes negligence. Petitioner likewise claimed that when the subject meters were again inspected on June 7, 1988, they were found to have been tampered anew. The Court notes that prior to the inspection. TEC was informed about it; and months before the inspection, there was an unsettled controversy between TEC and petitioner, brought about by the disconnection of electric power and the non-payment of differential billing. We are more disposed to accept the trial courts conclusion that it is hard to believe that customer previously apprehended for tampered meters and assessed P7 million would further jeopardize itself in the eyes of petitioner. If it is true that there was evidence of tampering found on September 28, 1987 and again on June 7, 1988, the better view would be that the defective meters were not actually corrected after the first inspection. If so, then Manila Electric Company v. Macro Textile Mills Corporation , 374 SCRA 69 (2002), would apply, where we said that we cannot sanction a situation wherein the defects in the electric meter are allowed to continue indefinitely until suddenly, the public utilities demand payment for the unrecorded electricity utilized when they could have remedied the situation immediately. Petitioners failure to do so may encourage neglect of public utilities to the detriment of the consuming public. Corollarily, it must be underscored that petitioner has the imperative duty to make a reasonable and proper inspection of its apparatus and equipment to ensure that they do not malfunction, and the due diligence to discover and repair defects therein failure to perform such duties constitutes negligence. By reason of said negligence, public utilities run the risk of forfeiting amounts originally due from their customers. Same; Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 401; Presidential Decree No. 401 granted the electric companies the right to conduct inspections of electric meters and the criminal prosecution of erring consumers who were found to have tampered with their electric meters but did not expressly provide for more expedient remedies such as the charging of differential billing and immediate disconnection against erring customers . The law in force at the time material to this controversy was Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 401 issued on March 1, 1974. The decree penalized unauthorized installation of water, electrical or telephone connections

and such acts as the use of tampered electrical meters. It was issued in answer to the urgent need to put an end to illegal activities that prejudice the economic well-being of both the companies concerned and the consuming public. P.D. 401 granted the electric companies the right to conduct inspections of electric meters and the criminal prosecution of erring consumers who were found to have tampered with their electric meters. It did not expressly provide for more expedient remedies such as the charging of differential billing and immediate disconnection against erring consumers. Thus, electric companies found a creative way of availing themselves of such remedies by inserting into their service contracts (or agreement for the sale of electric energy) a provision for differential billing with the option of disconnection upon non-payment by the erring consumer. The Court has recognized the validity of such stipulations. However, recourse to differential billing with disconnection was subject to the prior requirement of a 48-hour written notice of disconnection. Petitioner, in the instant case, resorted to the remedy of disconnection without prior notice. While it is true that petitioner sent a demand letter to TEC for the payment of differential billing, it did not include any notice that the electric supply would be disconnected. In fine, petitioner abused the remedies granted to it under P.D. 401 and Revised General Order No.1 by outrightly depriving TEC of electrical services without first notifying it of the impending disconnection. Accordingly, the CA did not err in affirming the RTC decision. Damages; Actual Damages; Actual damages are compensation for an injury that will put the injured party in the position where it was before the injury; Basic is the rule that to recover actual damages, not only must the amount of loss be capable of proof; it must also be actually proven with a reasonable degree of certainty, premised upon competent proof or the best evidence obtainable. As to the damages awarded by the CA, we deem it proper to modify the same. Actual damages are compensation for an injury that will put the injured party in the position where it was before the injury. They pertain to such injuries or losses that are actually sustained and susceptible of measurement. Except as provided by law or by stipulation, a party is entitled to adequate compensation only for such pecuniary loss as is duly proven. Basic is the rule that to recover actual damages, not only must the amount of loss be capable of proof; it must also be actually proven with a reasonable degree of certainty, premised upon competent proof or the best evidence obtainable. Respondent TEC sufficiently established, and petitioner in fact admitted, that the former paid P1, 000, 000.00 and P280,813.72 under protest, the amounts representing a portion of the latters claim of differential billing. With the finding that no tampering was committed and, thus, no differential billing due, the aforesaid amounts should be returned by petitioner, with interest, as ordered by the Court of Appeals and pursuant to the guidelines set forth by the Court. Same; Exemplary Damages; Exemplary damages are imposed by way of example or correction for the public good in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated, or compensatory damages; In this case, to serve as an example-that before a disconnection of electrical supply can be effected by a public utility, the requisites of law must be complied with-the Court affirms the award of P200,000.00 as exemplary damages . As to the payment of exemplary damages and attorneys fees, we find no cogent reason to disturb the same. Exemplary damages are imposed by way of example or correction for the public good in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated, or compensatory damages. In this case, to serve as an example-that before a disconnection of electrical supply can be effected by a public utility, the requisites of law must be complied with-we affirm the award of P200,000.00 as exemplary damages. With the award of exemplary damages, the award of attorneys fees is likewise proper, pursuant to Article 2203 of the Civil Code. It is obvious that TEC needed the services of a lawyer to argue its cause through three levels of judicial hierarchy. Thus, the award of P200, 000.00 is in order. Same; Corporation Law; As a rule, a corporation is not entitled to moral damages because, not being a natural person, it cannot experience physical suffering or sentiments like wounded feelings, serous anxiety, mental anguish and moral shock, the only exception to

this rule is when the corporation has a reputation that is debased, resulting in humiliation in the business realm. We, however, deem it proper to delete the award of moral damages. TECs claim was premised allegedly on the damage to its goodwill and reputation. As a rule, a corporation is not entitled to moral damages because, not being a natural person, it cannot experience physical suffering or sentiments like wounded feelings, serous anxiety, mental anguish and moral shock, the only exception to this rule is when the corporation has a reputation that is debased, resulting in humiliation in the business realm. But in such a case, it is imperative for the claimant to present proof to justify the award. It is essential to prove the existence of the factual basis of the damage and its causal relation to petitioners acts. In the present case, the records are bereft of any evidence that the name or reputation of TEC/TPC has been debased as a result to petitioners acts. Besides, the trial court simply awarded moral damages in the dispositive portion of its decision without stating the basis thereof. GR No. 171534 June 30, 2008 MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, petitioner, vs. WILCON BUILDERS SUPPLY, INC., respondent.

Public Utilities; Words and Phrases; The Ridjo doctrine supply states that the public utility has the imperative duty to make a reasonable and proper inspection of its apparatus and equipment to ensure that they do not malfunction. The Ridjo doctrine simply states that the public utility has the imperative duty to make a reasonable and proper inspection of its apparatus and equipment to ensure that they do not malfunction. Its failure to discover the defect, if any, considering the length of time, amounts to inexcusable negligence; its failure to make the necessary repairs and replace the defective electric meter installed within the consumers premises limits the latters liability. The use of the word defect and defective in the above-cited case does not restrict the application of the doctrine to cases of mechanical defects in the installed electric meters. A more plausible interpretation is to apply the rule on negligence whether the defect is inherent, intentional or unintentional, which therefore covers tampering, mechanical defects and mistakes in the computation of the consumers billing. This is apparent in the rationale behind the ruling which states that: The rationale behind this ruling is that public utilities should be put on notice, as a deterrent, that if they completely disregard their duty of keeping their electric meters in serviceable condition, they run the risk of forfeiting, by reason of their negligent, amounts originally due from their customers. Certainly, we cannot sanction a situation wherein the defect in the electric meter are allowed to continue indefinitely until suddenly the public utilities concerned demand payment for the unrecorded electricity utilized when, in the first place, they should have remedied the situation immediately. If we turn a blind eye on MERALCOs omission, it may encourage negligence on the part of public utilities, to the detriment of the consuming public. Same; The Court decided in favor of the consumer, ratiocinating that if indeed there was an unusual drop in electric consumption reflected in the statements of account, the public utility could have easily verified the error, considering its technical knowledge and vast experience in providing electric service. In Macro Textile Mills, 374 SCRA 69 (2002), there were allegations of tampering allegedly discovered during a routine inspection, coupled with the drastic slump in the electric consumption of the consumer several years before the inspection. The Court decided in favor of the consumer, ratiocinating that if indeed there was an unusual drop in electric consumption reflected in the statements of account, the public utility could have easily verified the error, considering its technical knowledge and vast experience in providing electric service. If there really was a mistake, the electric meters themselves should have been inspected for possible defects or breakdowns and forthwith repaired and, if necessary, replaced. The Court went on to say that the utility company could have filed the appropriate criminal complaint against the erring consumer under Presidential Decree No. 401. Same; This Court again refused to sustain the public utilitys claim for payment of the differential because of negligence on its part when it failed to correct the meter upon discovery of the tampering. In T.E.A.M Electronics, 540 SCRA 62 (2007), the public utility claimed that the consumers electric meter was discovered to have been tampered with in 1987 and again, in 1988. This Court again refused to sustain the public utilitys claim for payment of the differential because of negligence on its part when it failed to correct the meter upon discovery of the tampering. By reason of such negligence, it ran the risk of forfeiting amounts originally due from its

customers. Applying the foregoing rules to the instant case, we sustain the CAs finding of negligence on the part of the petitioner and thus negate its claimed entitlement to a differential billing. Same; Tampering with the electric meter is committed by the consumer to prevent the meter from registering the correct amount of electric consumption, and results in a reduced monthly electric bill while continuing to enjoy the same power supply. Tampering with the electric meter is committed by the consumer to prevent the meter from registering the correct amount of electric consumption, and results in a reduced monthly electric bill while continuing to enjoy the same power supply. Only the registration of actual electric energy consumption, not the supply of electricity, is affected when a meter is tampered with. Stated otherwise, when the meter is tampered with, the registered electric consumption is reduced. Consequently, in case of the removal of the tampered meter and the installation of a new one, the registered consumption necessarily increases. However, in the instant case, after the replacement of the tampered meter, respondents consumption remained the same. Same; Public service companies which do not exercise prudence in the discharge of their duties shall be made to bear the consequences of such oversight. We would like to emphasize at this point that the production and distribution of electricity is a highly technical business undertaking, and in conducting its operation, it is only logical for a public utility, such as the petitioner, to employ mechanical devices and equipment for the orderly pursuit of its business. Indeed, it would be highly inequitable if we are to allow a public utility company to be continuously remiss in its duty and then later on charge the consumer exorbitant amounts for the alleged unbilled consumption or differential billing when such a situation could have been easily averted. We simply cannot sanction petitioners utter neglect of its duty over a number of years, as this would undoubtedly be detrimental to the interest of the consuming public. In the final analysis, petitioner should bear the loss. Public service companies which do not exercise prudence in the discharge of their duties shall be made to bear the consequences of such oversight. Judgment; Appeals; Although the trial courts findings of facts are accorded great respect because of the judges opportunity to observe the witnesses firsthand, appellate courts, like the Court of Appeals, are not precluded from reviewing the factual findings of the lower courts. Respondent elevated the matter before the CA through an ordinary appeal under Rule 41. Clearly therefore, the CA was empowered to review questions of fact. Although the trial courts findings of facts are accorded great respect because of the judges opportunity to observe the witnesses firsthand, appellate courts, like the Court of Appeals, are not precluded from reviewing the factual findings of the lower courts. Jurisprudence has established that even the Supreme Court may review and at times reverse and set aside factual finding of both the trial court and the CA in the following cases: (1) when the finding are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based in a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of facts are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings that CA went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admission of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to those of the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; and (11) when the CA manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion. Public Utilities; Courts cannot and will not in any way blindly grant a public utilitys claim for differential billing if there is no sufficient evidence to prove such entitlement. The right of the petitioner as a public utility to collect systems losses is a non-issue in the instant case. To be sure, in enacting Republic Act No. 7832 and Republic Act No. 9136, the legislature did not intend to relax the rules in deciding cases of tampered electric meters. In no way can this Court grant a favorable judgment to the petitioner solely because of the benefit that the public will gain. To do so would result in unjust enrichment at the expense of the consumer accused of committing acts of tampering. Courts cannot and will not in any way blindly grant a public utilitys claim for differential billing if there is no sufficient evidence to prove such entitlement.

GR No. 148444 July 14, 2008 ASSOCIATED BANK (now UNITED OVERSEAS BANK [PHILS.]), petitioner, vs. SPOUSES RAFAEL and MONALIZA PRONSTROLLER, respondents.

Actions; Appeals; Well-settled is the rule that the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the appellate court, are binding on this Court. Well-settled is the rule that the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the appellate court, are binding on this Court. In a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as in this case, this Court may not review the findings of fact all over again. It must be stressed that this Court is not a trier of facts, and it is not its function to re-examine and weigh anew the respective evidence of the parties. The findings of the CA are conclusive on the parties and carry even more weight when these coincide with the factual findings of the trial court, unless the factual findings are not supported by the evidence on record. Petitioner failed to show why the above doctrine should not be applied to the instant case. Corporation Law; Board of Directors; Doctrine of Apparent Authority; Words and Phrases; While it is a general rule that, in the absence of authority from the board of directors, no person, not even its officers, can validly bind a corporation, the board may validly delegate some of its functions and powers to officers, committees and agents; The doctrine of "apparent authority," with special reference to banks, had long been recognized in this jurisdiction. Apparent authority is derived not merely from practice. Its existence may be ascertained through 1) the general manner in which the corporation holds out an officer or agent as having the power to act, or in other words, the apparent authority to act in general, with which it clothes him; or 2) the acquiescence in his acts of a particular nature, with actual or constructive knowledge thereof, within or beyond the scope of his ordinary powers. The general rule is that, in the absence of authority from the board of directors, no person, not even its officers, can validly bind a corporation. The power and responsibility to decide whether the corporation should enter into a contract that will bind the corporation is lodged in the board of directors. However, just as a natural person may authorize another to do certain acts for and on his behalf, the board may validly delegate some of its functions and powers to officers, committees and agents. The authority of such individuals to bind the corporation is generally derived from law, corporate bylaws or authorization from the board, either expressly or impliedly, by habit, custom, or acquiescence, in the general course of business. The authority of a corporate officer or agent in dealing with third persons may be actual or apparent. The doctrine of "apparent authority," with special reference to banks, had long been recognized in this jurisdiction. Apparent authority is derived not merely from practice. Its existence may be ascertained through 1) the general manner in which the corporation holds out an officer or agent as having the power to act, or in other words, the apparent authority to act in general, with which it clothes him; or 2) the acquiescence in his acts of a particular nature, with actual or constructive knowledge thereof, within or beyond the scope of his ordinary powers. Same; Same; Same; It is not the quantity of similar acts which establishes apparent authority, but the vesting of a corporate officer with the power to bind the corporation; the third person has little or no information as to what occurs in corporate meetings; and he must necessarily rely upon the external manifestations of corporate consent; The integrity of commercial transactions can only be maintained by holding the corporation strictly to the liability fixed upon it by its agents in accordance with law. The authority to act for and to bind a corporation may be presumed from acts of recognition in other instances, wherein the power was exercised without any objection from its board or shareholders. Undoubtedly, petitioner had previously allowed Atty. Soluta to enter into the first agreement without a board resolution expressly authorizing him; thus, it had clothed him with apparent authority to modify the same via the second letter-agreement. It is not the quantity of similar acts which establishes apparent authority, but the vesting of a corporate officer with the power to bind the corporation. Naturally, the third person has little or no information as to what occurs in corporate meetings; and he must necessarily rely upon the external manifestations of corporate consent. The integrity of commercial transactions can only be maintained by holding the corporation strictly to the liability fixed upon it by its agents in accordance with law. What transpires in the corporate board room is entirely an internal matter. Hence, petitioner may not impute negligence on the part of the respondents in failing to find out the scope of Atty. Soluta's authority. Indeed, the public has the right to rely on the trustworthiness of bank officers and their acts.

GR No. 160219 July 21, 2008 VECTOR SHIPPING CORPORATION and FRANCISCO SORIANO, petitioners, vs. ADELFO B. MACASA, EMELIA B. MACASA, TIMOTEO B. MACASA, CORNELIO B. MACASA, JR., and ROSARIO

C. MACASA, SULPICIO LINES, INC., GO GUIOC SO, ENRIQUE S. GO, EUSEBIO S. GO, RICARDO S. GO, VICTORIANO S. GO, EDWARD S. GO, ARTURO S. GO, EDGAR S. GO and EDMUNDO S. GO, respondents. Civil Law; Common Carriers; In Caltex (Philippines), Inc. vs. Sulpicio Lines, Inc., 315 SCRA 709 (1999), we held that MT Vector fits the definition of a common carrier under Article 1732 of the New Civil Code. In Caltex (Philippines), Inc. v. Sulpicio Lines, Inc., 315 SCRA 709 (1999), we held that MT Vector fits the definition of a common carrier under Article 1732 of the New Civil Code. Our ruling in that case is instructive: Thus, the carriers are deemed to warrant impliedly the seaworthiness of the ship. For a vessel to be seaworthy, it must be adequately equipped for the voyage and manned with a sufficient number of competent officers and crew. The failure of a common carrier to maintain in seaworthy condition the vessel involved in its contract of carriage is a clear breach of its duty prescribed in Article 1755 of the Civil Code. The provisions owed their conception to the nature of the business of common carriers. This business is impressed with a special public duty. The public must of necessity rely on the care and skill of common carriers in the vigilance over the goods and safety of the passengers, especially because with the modern development of science and invention, transportation has become more rapid, more complicated and somehow more hazardous. For these reasons, a passenger or a shipper of goods is under no obligation to conduct an inspection of the ship and its crew, the carrier being obliged by law to impliedly warrant its seaworthiness.

GR No. 176664 July 21, 2008 BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, petitioner, vs. SPOUSES REYNALDO AND VICTORIA ROYECA, respondents. Payments; As a general rule, one who pleads payment has the burden of proving it. In Jimenez v. National Labor Relations commission (NLRC), 256 SCRA 84 (1996), cited by both the RTC and the CA, the Court elucidated on who, between the plaintiff and defendant, has the burden to prove the affirmative defense of payment: As a general rule, one who pleads payment has the burden of proving it. Even where the plaintiff must allege non-payment, the general rule is that the burden rests on the defendant to prove payment, rather than on the plaintiff to prove nonpayment. The debtor has the burden of showing with legal certainty that the obligation has been discharged by payment. When the existence of a debt is fully established by the evidence contained in the record, the burden of proving that it has been extinguished by payment devolves upon the debtor who offers such a defense to the claim of the creditor. Where the debtor introduces some evidence of payment, the burden of going forward with the evidence - as distinct from the general burden of proof - shifts to the creditor, who is then under a duty of producing some evidence to show non-payment. Same; Settled is the rule that payment must be made in legal tender. Settled is the rule that payment must be made in legal tender. A check is not legal tender and, therefore, cannot constitute a valid tender of payment. Since a negotiable instrument is only a substitute for money and not money, the delivery of such an instrument does not, by itself, operate as payment. Mere delivery of checks does not discharge the obligation under a judgment. The obligation is not extinguished and remains suspended until the payment by commercial document is actually realized. Same; Because of this failure of the respondents to present sufficient proof of payment, it was no longer necessary for the petitioner to prove non-payment, particularly proof that the checks were dishonored. Because of this failure of the respondents to present sufficient proof of payment, it was no longer necessary for the petitioner to prove non-payment, particularly proof that the checks were dishonored. The burden of evidence is shifted only if the party upon whom it is lodged was able to adduce preponderant evidence to prove its claim. Same; A notice of dishonor is required only to preserve the right of the payee to recover on the check. It should be noted that the petitioner, as payee, did not have a legal obligation to inform the respondents of the dishonor of the checks. A notice of dishonor is required only to preserve the right of the payee to recover on the check. It preserves

the liability of the drawer and the indorsers on the check. Otherwise, if the payee fails to give notice to them, they are discharged from their liability thereon, and the payee is precluded from enforcing payment on the check. The respondents, therefore, cannot fault the petitioner for not notifying them of the non-payment of the checks because whatever rights were transgressed by such omission belonged only to the petitioner. Same; Promissory Notes; A promissory note in the hands of the creditor is a proof of indebtedness rather than proof of payment. In all, we find that the evidence at hand preponderates in favor of the petitioner. The petitioner's possession of the documents pertaining to the obligation strongly buttresses its claim that the obligation has not been extinguished. The creditor's possession of the evidence of debt is proof that the debt has not been discharged by payment. A promissory note in the hands of the creditor is a proof of indebtedness rather than proof of payment. In an action for replevin by a mortgagee, it is prima facie evidence that the promissory note has not been paid. Likewise, an uncancelled mortgage in the possession of the mortgagee gives rise to the presumption that the mortgage debt is unpaid. In all, we find that the evidence at hand preponderates in favor of the petitioner. The petitioner's possession of the documents pertaining to the obligation strongly buttresses its claim that the obligation has not been extinguished. The creditor's possession of the evidence of debt is proof that the debt has not been discharged by payment. A promissory note in the hands of the creditor is a proof of indebtedness rather than proof of payment. In an action for replevin by a mortgagee, it is prima facie evidence that the promissory note has not been paid. Likewise, an uncancelled mortgage in the possession of the mortgagee gives rise to the presumption that the mortgage debt is unpaid. Laches; Laches cannot, as a rule, abate a collection suit filed within the prescriptive period mandated by the New Civil Code. The respondents posit that the petitioner's claim is barred by laches since it has been three years since the checks were issued. We do not agree. Laches is a recourse in equity. Equity, however, is applied only in the absence, never in contravention, of statutory law. Thus, laches cannot, as a rule, abate a collection suit filed within the prescriptive period mandated by the New Civil Code. The petitioner's action was filed within the ten-year prescriptive period provided under Article 1144 of the New Civil Code. Hence, there is no room for the application of laches. Banks and Banking; Payment; Reasonable banking practice and prudence dictates that, when a check is given to a creditor bank in payment of an obligation is dishonored, the bank should immediately return it to the debtor and demand its replacement or payment lest it causes any prejudice to the drawer. The Court cannot ignore what the respondents have consistently raisedthat they were not notified of the non-payment of the checks. Reasonable banking practice and prudence dictates that, when a check given to a creditor bank in payment of an obligation is dishonored, the bank should immediately return it to the debtor and demand its replacement or payment lest it causes any prejudice to the drawer. In light of this and the fact that the obligation has been partially paid, we deem it just and equitable to reduce the 3% per month penalty charge as stipulated in the Promissory Note to 12% per annum. Although a court is not at liberty to ignore the freedom of the parties to agree on such terms and conditions as they see fit, as long as they contravene no law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy, a stipulated penalty, nevertheless, may be equitably reduced by the courts if it is iniquitous or unconscionable, or if the principal obligation has been partly or irregularly complied with.

CRIMINAL LAW
G.R. No. 169061 June 8, 2007 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROQUE ABELLANO, accused-appellant. Criminal Law; Rape; Guiding Principles in the Review of Rape Cases. In the review of rape cases, we continue to be guided by the following principles: (1) an accusation for rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but more

difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) in view of the nature of the crime of rape where only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant is scrutinized with extreme caution; and, (3) the evidence for the prosecution stands or falls on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the defense. Thus, in a prosecution for rape, the complainants credibility becomes the single most important issue. G.R. No. 154941 July 9, 2007 ERNESTO PIL-EY, petitioner, vs. THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. Criminal Law; Anti-Cattle Rustling Law (P.D. 533); Elements; Words and Phrases; Cattle-rustling is the taking away by any means, method or scheme, without the consent of the owner or raiser, of any cow, carabao, horse, mule, ass or other domesticated member of the bovine family, whether or not for profit or gain, or whether committed with or without violence against or intimidation of any person or force upon things; and it includes the killing of large cattle, or taking its meat or hide without the consent of the owner or raiser. Cattle-rustling is the taking away by any means, method or scheme, without the consent of the owner or raiser, of any cow, carabao, horse, mule, ass or other domesticated member of the bovine family, whether or not for profit or gain, or whether committed with or without violence against or intimidation of any person or force upon things; and it includes the killing of large cattle, or taking its meat or hide without the consent of the owner or raiser. Conviction for cattle-rustling necessitates the concurrence of the following elements: (1) large cattle is taken; (2) it belongs to another; (3) the taking is done without the consent of the owner or raiser; (4) the taking is done by any means, method or scheme; (5) the taking is done with or without intent to gain; and (6) the taking is accomplished with or without violence or intimidation against persons or force upon things. 50 Considering that the gravamen of the crime is the taking or killing of large cattle or taking its meat or hide without the consent of the owner or raiser, conviction for the same need only be supported by the fact of taking without the cattle owner's consent. Same; Same; Presumptions; It is the rule that when stolen property is found in the possession of one, not the owner, and without a satisfactory explanation of his possession, he is presumed to be the thief. Its takers have not offered a satisfactory explanation for their possession of the missing bovine. It is the rule that when stolen property is found in the possession of one, not the owner, and without a satisfactory explanation of his possession, he is presumed to be the thief. This is in consonance with the disputable presumption that a person found in possession of a thing taken in the doing of a recent wrongful act is the taker and the doer of the whole act. Same; Same; Admissions; Judicial admission binds the declarant and do not need any further presentation of evidence . Petitioner's admission in the course of the trial that he and his co-accused took the cow is buttressed by the testimony of prosecution witness Ronnie Faluyan that he saw Manochon and Pil-ey with the subject cow in a blue Ford Fiera. This judicial admission, which binds the declarant

and which does not need any further presentation of evidence, reinforces petitioner's conviction. Same; Same; Indeterminate Sentence Law; P.D. No. 533 is not a special law, entirely distinct from and unrelated to the Revised Penal Code the intent seems clear that P.D. 533 shall deemed as an amendment of the Revised penal Code with respect to the offence of theft of large cattle (Art.310), or otherwise to be subject to applicable provisions thereof, such as Articles 64 and 104. We find that the penalty imposed by the trial court is erroneous. While it correctly imposed reclusion temporal in its minimum period as the maximum penalty, it erred in imposing prision mayor in its maximum period as the minimum penalty. As in Canta v. People, the RTC in this case considered P.D. No. 533 as a special law and applied the latter portion of Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law. However, as we have declared in Canta, the computation of the penalty should be in accordance with our discussion in People v. Macatanda, which we quote herein for emphasis, thus: We do not agree with the Solicitor General that P.D. No. 533 is a special law, entirely distinct from and unrelated to the Revised Penal Code. From the nature of the penalty imposed which is in terms of the classification and duration of penalties as prescribed in the Revised Penal Code, which is not for penalties as are ordinarily imposed in special laws, the intent seems clear that P.D. 533 shall be deemed as an amendment of the Revised Penal Code, with respect to the offense of theft of large cattle (Art. 310), or otherwise to be subject to applicable provisions thereof such as Article 104 of the Revised Penal Code on civil liability of the offender, a provision which is not found in the decree, but which could not have been intended to be discarded or eliminated by the decree. Article 64 of the same Code should, likewise, be applicable x x x. Hence, in the instant case, considering that neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance attended the commission of the crime, the penalty to be imposed should be within the range of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its medium period, as minimum, to reclusion temporal in its minimum period, as maximum. We, thus, modify the minimum penalty imposed by the trial court to be four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day of prision correccional. Criminal Law; Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; RA No. 3019; Elements of the charge of violation of Section 3 (e) of RA No. 3019; Mere bad faith or partiality and negligence per se are not enough for one to be held liable under the law, since the ac constitutive of bad faith or partiality must in the first place be evident or manifest, respectively, while the negligent deed should be both gross and inexcusable. The elements of the offense are; 1) the accused must be a public officer discharging administrative, judicial or official functions; 2) he must have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or inexcusable negligence; and 3) that his action caused any undue injury to any party, including the government or gave any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his functions. Evidently, mere bad faith or partiality and negligence per se are not enough for one to be held liable under the law, since the act constitutive of bad faith or partiality must, in the first place, be evident or manifest, respectively, while the negligent deed should be both gross and inexcusable. It is further required that any or all of these modalities ought to result in undue injury to a specified party.

Same; Same; Same; Executive Order No. 132 clearly states that the just compensation of properties taken for public use should first be determined by the mutual agreement of the property owner and the government agency involved; In case of failure to arrive at an acceptable to the government entity or to the property owners, condemnation proceedings shall be commenced where the just compensation shall be fixed by independent commissioners. The creation of the PAC as well its powers and functions are set forth in Executive Order No. 132, the Procedure to be followed in the acquisition of private property for public use and creating appraisal committees. The said order clearly sates that the just compensation of properties taken for public use should first be determined by the mutual agreement of the property owner and the government agency involved. In case of failure to arrive at an acceptable agreement, the PAC comes in to ascertain the market value of the property. If the recommendation of the PAC is not acceptable to the government entity or to the property owners, condemnation proceedings shall be commenced where the just compensation shall be fixed by independent commissioners. From the foregoing, it is clear that the PACs power, in fixing the fair market value is merely recommendatory. As such, it is subject to review by the property owners and the government agency concerned. Same; Same; For a public officer to be charged/convicted under Section 3 (e) of RA No. 3019, he must have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or inexcusable negligence. For a public officer to charged/convicted under Section 3(e) of RA No. 3019, he must have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or inexcusable negligence. We cannot subscribe to the Ombudsmans conclusion that petitioner acted with bad faith, or with evident bad faith, simply because its appraisal appeared to be unacceptable. In arriving at such conclusion, the Ombudsman failed to appreciate an important fact, that is, that the power of the RPAC is merely recommendatory. Same; Same; A public officer is presumed to have acted in good faith in the performance of his duties. Well settled is the rule that good faith is always presumed and the Chapter on Human Relations of the Civil Code directs every person, inter alia, to observe good faith which springs from the fountain of good conscience. Specifically, a public officer is presumed to have acted in good faith in the performance of his duties. Mistakes committed by a public officer are not actionable absent any clear showing that they were motivated by malice or gross negligence amounting to bad faith. Bad faith does not simply connote bad moral judgment or negligence. There must be some dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong, a breach of a sworn duty through some motive or intent or ill will. It partakes of the nature of fraud. It contemplates a state of mind affirmatively operating with furtive design or some motive of self-interest or ill will for ulterior purposes.

G.R. No. 146296 October 15, 2007 EDUARDO GULMATICO y BRIGATAY, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Criminal Law; Theft; Elements; In theft, corpus delicti has two elements, namely: (1) that the property was lost by the owner, and (2) that it was lost by felonious taking. The elements of theft are: (1) that there be taking of personal property; (2) that said property belongs to another; (3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; (4) that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; and (5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things. Therefore, in theft, corpus delicti has two elements, namely: (1) that the property was lost by the owner, and (2) that it was lost by felonious taking. G.R. No. 168650 October 26, 2007 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. JOSE TUAZON, appellant. Criminal Law; Rape Evidence; Credibility; The conviction or acquittal in a rape case more often than not depends almost entirely on the credibility of the complainant's testimony because of the very nature of this crime. It is usually the victim who alone can testify as to its occurrence. The Court stresses that conviction or acquittal in a rape case more often than not depends almost entirely on the credibility of the complainant's testimony because of the very nature of this crime. It is usually the victim who alone can testify as to its occurrence. In rape cases, the accused may be convicted solely on the basis of the testimony of the victim, provided that such testimony is credible, natural, convincing and consistent with human nature and the normal course of things. The credibility given by the trial court to the rape victim is an important aspect of evidence which appellate courts can rely on because of its unique opportunity to observe the witnesses, particularly their demeanor, conduct and attitude during direct and cross-examination by counsel. Absent any showing that the trial judge overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some facts and circumstances of weight which would affect the result of the case, his assessment of credibility deserves the appellate court's highest respect. Same; Same; Same; Same; Testimonies of rape victims who are young and immature demand full credence. Jurisprudence has recognized the inbred modesty of a Filipina, especially a young child, who would be unwilling to allow examination of her private parts, suffer the humiliation of a public trial, endure the ordeal of recounting the details of an assault on her dignity unless her purpose is to bring the perpetrator to the bar of justice and avenge her honor. Testimonies of rape victims who are young and immature demand full credence. Same; Same; Same; Same; When the testimony of a rape victim is consistent with the medical findings, sufficient basis exists to warrant a conclusion that the essential requisite of carnal knowledge has thereby been established. The testimony of AAA was corroborated by Dr. Dulig's medical report and testimony that when she conducted the medical examination on the person of AAA, her orifice accepted two fingers with ease and without pain which means that there had been multiple penetration on the vaginal orifice. She likewise claimed that there was no more hymen at the time she conducted the examination. She further testified that the labia minora in AAA's vagina were still swollen which means that she was sexually abused one or two days prior to the examination. The Court held that when the testimony of a rape victim is consistent with the medical findings, sufficient

basis exists to warrant a conclusion that the essential requisite of carnal knowledge has thereby been established. Same; Same; Same; Same; Lust is no respecter of time and place There is no rule that rape can be committed only in seclusion . We have held in a number of cases that lust is no respecter of time and place. Rape can be committed even in places where people congregate, in parks along the roadsides, in school premises, in a house where there are other occupants, in the same room where other members of the family are also sleeping, and even in places which to many, would appear unlikely and high risk venues for its commission. Besides, there is no rule that rape can be committed only in seclusion. This is especially true in the present case as the brothers and sisters of AAA who were with them inside the room were even younger than her. They did not have the slightest idea of what was happening nor even had a suspicion that appellant was committing a crime against their sister because of their innocence brought about by their young age. Same; Same; Same; Same; In truth, a man and a woman cannot be physically closer to each other than during a sexual act. During rape incidents, the offender and the victim are as close to each other as is physically possible. In truth, a man and a woman cannot be physically closer to each other than during a sexual act. Moreover, per testimony of AAA, while appellant was performing the lustful act, he threatened to kill her. As such, she heard the voice of her assailant. Identification of an accused by his voice has also been accepted particularly in cases where, such as in this case, the witnesses have known the malefactor personally for so long and so intimately. Considering that appellant and AAA lived together in one house, and the former repeatedly abused her, she is undoubtedly familiar not only with his physical features but also with his voice. Not surprisingly therefore, she readily and positively identified appellant in court during the trial as the man who raped her. Same; Same; Same; Same; The hesitance of the victim in reporting the crime to the authorities is not necessarily an indication of a fabricated charge. The Court has acknowledged in several cases that the hesitance of the victim in reporting the crime to the authorities is not necessarily an indication of a fabricated charge. This is especially true where the delay can be attributed to the pattern of fear instilled by the threats of bodily harm made by a person who exercises moral ascendancy over the victim. Neither can appellant find refuge in AAA's failure to promptly report the sexual assault to her relatives especially her mother. This applies with greater force in the present case where the offended party was barely 11 years old at the time of the first rape incident and more or less 13 years old at the time of the last incident, and was therefore susceptible to intimidation and threats to physical harm. Same; Same; Same; Same; Physical resistance need not be established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon the victim who submits against her will to the rapist's lust because of fear for her life or personal safety. The force, violence or intimidation in rape is a relative term, depending not only on the age, size, and strength of the parties but also on their relationship with each other. A woman of such young age like AAA can only cower in fear and yield into submission. Rape is nothing more than a conscious process of intimidation by which a man keeps a woman in a state of fear and humiliation. Thus, it is not impossible for a victim of rape not to make an outcry against an unarmed assailant. Physical resistance need not be established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon the victim who submits against her will to the rapist's lust because of fear for her life or personal

safety. The force, violence or intimidation in rape is a relative term, depending not only on the age, size, and strength of the parties but also on their relationship with each other. A woman of such young age like AAA can only cower in fear and yield into submission. Rape is nothing more than a conscious process of intimidation by which a man keeps a woman in a state of fear and humiliation. Thus, it is not impossible for a victim of rape not to make an outcry against an unarmed assailant. Because of AAA's youthfulness, coupled with the fact that the assailant is her stepfather, it was easy for her to believe that appellant would make good his threat to kill her should she resist. Same; Same; Same; Same; It is highly inconceivable that a mother (grandmother) would willfully and deliberately corrupt the innocent mind of her young daughter (granddaughter) and put into her lips the lewd description of a carnal act to justify a personal grudge or anger against the accused. It is unnatural for a parent (or grandparent) to use her offspring as an instrument of malice, especially if it will subject a daughter (or granddaughter) to embarrassment and even stigma. It is highly inconceivable that a mother (grandmother) would willfully and deliberately corrupt the innocent mind of her young daughter (granddaughter) and put into her lips the lewd description of a carnal act to justify a personal grudge or anger against the appellant. This Court cannot give weight to the bare assertion of appellant without sufficient evidence to prove the same. Penalties; Indeterminate Sentence Law; Section 2 thereof provides that the law "shall not apply to persons convicted of offenses punished with death penalty or life imprisonment." Although the law makes no reference to persons convicted to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua such as the appellant herein, the Court has consistently held that the Indeterminate Sentence Law likewise does not apply to persons sentenced to reclusion perpetua. A ppellant shall not be eligible for parole pursuant to the Indeterminate Sentence Law. Section 2 thereof provides that the law "shall not apply to persons convicted of offenses punished with death penalty or life imprisonment." Although the law makes no reference to persons convicted to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua such as the appellant herein, the Court has consistently held that the Indeterminate Sentence Law likewise does not apply to persons sentenced to reclusion perpetua.

G.R. No. 177744 November 23, 2007 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. GERONIMO DOMINGO, appellant. Criminal Law; Information; rape; Right to be Informed; Pleadings and Practice; The precise time or date of the commission of an offense need not be alleged in the complaint or information, unless it is an essential element of the crime charged. In rape, it is not. An information is valid as long as it distinctly states the elements of the offense and the acts or omissions constitutive thereof. The precise time or date of the commission of an offense need not be alleged in the complaint or information, unless it is an essential element of the crime charged. In rape, it is not. The gravamen of rape is carnal knowledge of a woman through force and

intimidation. In fact, the precise time when the rape takes place has no substantial bearing on its commission. As such, the date or time need not be stated with absolute accuracy. It is sufficient that the complaint or information states that the crime has been committed at any time as near as possible to the date of its actual commission. Same; Same; Damages; To curb the disturbing trend of children snatched from the cradle of innocence by some beast to sate its deviant sexual appetite, the accused should likewise be made to pay exemplary damages which is pegged at 25,000.00. On the civil aspect, the court rightly awarded P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and another P50,000.00 for moral damages, but failed to award exemplary damages. As we held in People v. Malones, this is not the first time that a child has been snatched from the cradle of innocence by some beast to sate its deviant sexual appetite. To curb this disturbing trend, appellant should, likewise, be made to pay exemplary damages which is pegged at P25,000.00.

Penalties; The Court of Appeals correctly modified the penalty to be imposed. As to the penalty to be imposed, the Court of Appeals correctly modified the same. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum term of the penalty shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed, while the minimum term of which shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense. The penalty prescribed for the offense is reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua. Considering that no mitigating nor aggravating circumstance attended the commission of the offense, the proper imposable penalty, and thus the maximum term of the indeterminate penalty, is 18 years, 8 months and 1 day to 20 years.

GR No. 177565 January 28, 2008 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. ELMER GLIVANO y SILVALLANA, appellant.

Criminal Law; Rape; Appeals; Basic Principles Guiding the Courts in Resolving Rape Cases. Three basic principles guide the courts in resolving rape cases: (1) an accusation for rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense. Same; Same; Same; The general rule is that the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses are entitled to the highest respect and are not to be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear showing that the trial court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied facts or circumstances of weight and substance which would have affected the result of the case. The general rule is that the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses are entitled to the highest respect and are not to be disturbed on appeal in the absence of any clear showing that the trial court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied facts or circumstances of weight and substance which would have affected the result of the case. The stringency with which appellate tribunals have observed this rule is predicated on the undisputed vantage of the trial court in the evaluation and appreciation of testimonial evidence. Same; Same; Evidence; Alibis and Denials; Denial and alibi are disfavored on account of the facility with which they can be concocted to suit the defense of an accused. Appellant's defenses of denial and alibi, therefore, cannot demolish the victim's clear and convincing narration and positive identification of her assailant. Denial and alibi are

disfavored on account of the facility with which they can be concocted to suit the defense of an accused. Here, appellant has not even shown that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the crime scene the fishpond where he worked was just a stone's throw away from their house. Rather than detract from the complainant's account, the testimony of the mother even supports the hypothesis that appellant had all the opportunity to repeatedly rape the child, especially during the time she worked as a housemaid in another place. Same; Same; Same; Witnesses; Jurisprudence states that the delay in reporting the commission of rape is not an indication of a fabricated charge; A stepfather, who exercises moral and physical ascendancy over his stepdaughter, need not make any threat against her because the latter is cowed into submission when gripped with the fear of refusing the advances of a person she customarily obeys; Rape may be committed in a room adjacent to where the victim's family is sleeping, or even in a room shared with other people. The delay in the reporting of the crime, the absence of a threat on the life of the victim, and the presence of other occupants in the house cannot weaken the force of the victim's clear and convincing statements. Jurisprudence states that the delay in reporting the commission of rape is not an indication of a fabricated charge. The charge is beclouded only if the delay is unreasonable and unexplained. Often, victims would rather bear the ignominy and the pain in private than reveal their shame to the world. Likewise, a stepfather, who exercises moral and physical ascendancy over his stepdaughter, need not make any threat against her because the latter is cowed into submission when gripped with the fear of refusing the advances of a person she customarily obeys. Rape may, likewise, be committed in a room adjacent to where the victim's family is sleeping, or even in a room shared with other people. There is no rule that rape can only be committed in seclusion. GR No. 155831 February 18, 2008 MA. LOURDES T. DOMINGO, petitioner, vs. ROGELIO I. RAYALA, respondent. Sexual Harassment; Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 (R.A. NO. 7877); It is not necessary that demand, request or requirement of a sexual favor be articulated in a categorical oral or written statement-it may be discerned, with equal certitude, from the acts of the offender. The CA, thus, correctly ruled that Rayalas culpability is not to be determined solely on the basis of section 3, RA 7877, because he is charged with the administrative offense, not criminal infraction, of sexual harassment. It should be enough that the CA, along with the Investigating Committee and the office of the President, found substantial evidence to support calls for a demand, request or requirement of a sexual favor. But it is not necessary that the demand, request or requirement of a sexual favor be articulated in a categorical oral or written statement. It may be discerned, with equal certitude, from the acts of the offender. Holding and squeezing Domingos shoulders, running his fingers across her neck and tickling her ear, having inappropriate conversations with her, giving her money allegedly for school expenses with a promise of future privileges, and making statements with unmistakable sexual overtones-all these acts of Rayala resound with deafening clarity the unspoken request for a sexual favor. Same; Same; It is not essential that the demand, request or requirement be made as a condition for continued employment or for promotion to higher position-it is enough that the respondents acts result in creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the employee. Contrary to Rayalas claim, it is not essential that the demand, request or requirement be made as a condition for continued employment or for promotion to a higher position. It is enough that the respondents acts result in creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the employee. That the acts of Rayala generated an intimidating and hostile environment for Domingo is clearly shown by the common factual finding of the Investigating Committee, the OP and the CA that Domingo reported the matter to an officemate and, after the last incident, filed for a leave of absence and requested transfer to another unit. Same; Same; since what is before the Court is an administrative case for sexual harassment, it is immaterial whether the crime of sexual harassment is malum in se or malum prohibitum. Rayala alleges that the CA erred in holding that sexual harassment is an offense malum prohibitum. He argues that intent is an essential element in sexual harassment, and since the acts imputed to him were done allegedly without malice, he should be absolved of the charges against him .We reiterate that what is before us is an administrative case for sexual harassment. Thus, whether the crime of sexual harassment is malum in se or malum prohibitum is immaterial. Same; Same; Conspiracy; A conspiracy must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. We also reject Rayalas allegations that the charges were filed because of a conspiracy to get him out of office and thus constitute merely

political harassment. A conspiracy must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. His bare assertions cannot stand against the evidence presented by Domingo. As we have already ruled, the acts imputed to Rayala have been proven as fact. Moreover, he has not proven any ill motive on the part of Domingo and her witnesses which would be ample reason for her to conjure stories about him. On the contrary, ill motive is belied by the fact that Domingo and her witnessesall employees of the NLRC at that timestood to lose their jobs or suffer unpleasant consequences for coming forward and charging their boss with sexual harassment. Same; Same; Same; Aggravating Circumstances; Under the Revised Uniform Rule on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, taking undue advantage of a subordinate may be considered as an aggravating circumstances and where only aggravating and mitigating circumstances are present , the maximum penalty shall be imposed. Even if the OP properly considered the fact that Rayala took advantage of his high government position, it still could not validly dismiss him from the service. Under the Revised Uniform Rule on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, taking undue advantage of a subordinate may be considered as an aggravating circumstance and where only aggravating and mitigating circumstances are present, the maximum penalty shall be imposed. Hence, the maximum penalty that can be imposed on Rayala is suspension for one (1) year. GR No. 155339 March 3, 2008 ROSE AOAS, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Criminal Law; Theft; Essential Elements of the Crime of Theft. Under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, the essential elements of the crime of theft are the following: (1) that there be a taking of personal property; (2) that said property belongs to another; (3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; (4) that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; and (5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence or intimidation against persons or force upon things. Same; Same; Circumstantial Evidence; Circumstantial evidence is that evidence which proves a fact or series of facts from which the facts in issue may be established by inference; Elements before conviction based on circumstantial evidence may be had. Considering that there is no direct evidence pointing to petitioner as the perpetrator of the crime, the trial court relied solely on circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is that evidence which proves a fact or series of facts from which the facts in issue may be established by inference. It is founded on experience, observed facts and coincidences establishing a connection between the known and proven facts and the facts sought to be proved. In order that conviction be had, the following must concur: 1. There is more than one circumstance; 2. The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; 3. The combination of the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. Same; Same; Same; The test to determine whether or not the circumstantial evidence on record is sufficient to convict the accused is that the series of circumstances duly proved must be consistent with each other and that each and every circumstance must be consistent with the accuseds guilt and inconsistent with his innocence. To uphold a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, it is essential that the circumstantial evidence presented must constitute an unbroken chain which leads one to a fair and reasonable conclusion pointing to the accused, to the exclusion of the others, as the guilty person. The test to determine whether or not the circumstantial evidence on record is sufficient to convict the accused is that the series of circumstances duly proved must be consistent with each other and that each and every circumstance must be consistent with the accuseds guilt and inconsistent with his innocence. The circumstances must be proved, and not themselves presumed. The circumstantial evidence must exclude the possibility that some other person has committed the offense. Same; Same; Same; Absent proof of any stolen property in the possession of a person, as in the case at bar, no presumption of guilt can arise. The fact that the beans were scattered on the floor inside and in front of the stall of petitioner and in the parking lot does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that petitioner is the perpetrator of the crime. This cannot be equated with the principle of law that a person in possession or control of stolen goods is the presumed to be the author of the larceny. Absent proof of any stolen property in the possession of a person, as in the case at bar, no presumption of guilt can arise. Instead, the constitutional presumption of innocence should prevail in petitioners favor. Same; Same; Same; Equipoise Rule; Where the proven facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is consistent with innocence and the other with guilt, the evidence does not fulfill the test

of moral certainty and is not sufficient to convict the accused. The prosecution has failed to show that the circumstances invoked completely discount the possibility that persons other than petitioner could have perpetrated the crime. Thus, where the proven facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations, one of which is consistent with innocence and the other with guilt, the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty and is not sufficient to convict the accused. GR No. 145184 March 14, 2008 PRESIDENTIAL AD HOC FACT-FINDING COMMITTEE ON BEHEST LOANS, represented by PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT through ATTY. ORLANDO L. SALVADOR, petitioner, vs. HON. ANIANO A. DESIERTO, in his capacity as OMBUDSMAN; et. al respondents.

Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. No. 3019); Behest Loans; Prescriptions; The prescriptive period for offenses involving the acquisition of behest loans should be computed from discovery of the commission thereof and not from the day of such commission. The computation of the prescriptive period for offenses involving the acquisition of behest loans had already been laid to rest in Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans vs. Desierto, 317 SCRA 272 (1999), thus: It was well-nigh impossible for the State, the aggrieved party, to have known the violations of R.A. No. 3019 at the time the questioned transactions were made because, as alleged, the public officials concerned connived and conspired with the beneficiaries of the loans. Thus we agree with the COMMITTEE that the prescriptive period for the offenses with which the respondents in OMB-0-96-0968 were charged should be computed from discovery of the commission thereof and not from the day of such commission. The ruling was reiterated in Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans vs. Ombudsman Desierto, 363 SCRA 489 (2001), wherein the Court explained: In cases involving violations of R.A. No. 3019 committed prior to the February 1986 EDSA Revolution that ousted President Ferdinand E. Marcos, we ruled that the government as the aggrieved party could not have known of the violations at the time the questioned transactions were made. Moreover, no person would have dared to question the legality of those transactions. Thus, the counting of the prescriptive period commenced from the discovery of the offense in 1992 after an exhaustive investigation by the Presidential Ad Hoc Committee on Behest Loans. Same; Same; Ex Post Facto Laws; Penal Laws; Words and Phrases; The constitutional proscription of ex post facto laws is aimed against the retrospectivity of penal laws; Penal laws are acts of the legislature which prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violations, or those that define crimes, treat of their nature, and provide for their punishment. An ex post facto law has been defined as one- (a) which makes an action done before the passing of the law and which was innocent when done criminal, and punishes such action; or (b) which aggravates a crime or makes it greater than it was when committed; or (c) which changes the punishment and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was committed; or (d) which alters the legal rules of evidence and receives less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense in order to convict the defendant; or (e) which assumes to regulate civil rights and remedies only, but in effect imposes a penalty or deprivation of a right which when exercised was lawful; or (f) which deprives a person accused of a crime of some lawful protection to which he has become entitled, such as the protection of a former conviction or acquittal, or a proclamation of amnesty. The constitutional proscription of ex post facto laws is aimed against the retrospectivity of penal laws. Penal laws are acts of the legislature which prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violations; or those that define crimes, treat of their nature, and provide for their punishment. Same; Same; Same; Same; Not being penal laws, Administrative Order No. 13 and Memorandum Order No. 61 cannot be characterized as ex post facto laws. Administrative Order No. 13 does not mete out a penalty for the act of granting behest loans. It merely creates the Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans and provides for its composition and functions. Memorandum Order No. 61, on the other hand, simply provides the frame of reference in determining the existence on behest loans. Not being penal laws, Administrative Order No. 13 and Memorandum Order No. 61 cannot be characterized as ex post facto laws. Same; Ombudsman; Judicial Review; Since the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to entertain questions on the constitutionality of a law, it acts in excess of its jurisdiction if it delves into the constitutionality of the administrative orders and memorandum orders. In Estarija vs. Ranada, 492 SCRA 652 (2006), in which petitioner raised the issue of constitutionality of R.A. No. 6770 in his motion for reconsideration of the Ombudsmans

decision, we had occasion to state that the Ombudsman had no jurisdiction to entertain questions on the constitutionality of a law. The Ombudsman, therefore, acted in excess of its jurisdiction in delving into the constitutionality of the subject administrative and memorandum orders. Same; Same; As a rule, courts should not interfere with the Ombudsmans investigatory power, exercised through the Ombudsman Prosecutors, and the authority to determine the presence or absence of probable cause, except when the finding is tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Case law has it that the determination of probable cause against those in public office during the preliminary investigation is a function that belongs to the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is empowered to determine, in the exercise of his discretion, whether probable cause exists, and to charge the person believed to have committed the crime as defined by law. As a rule, courts should not interfere with the Ombudsmans investigatory power, exercised through the Ombudsman Prosecutors, and the authority to determine the presence or absence of probable cause, except when the finding is tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Same; Same; Evidently, mere bad faith or partiality and negligence per se are not enough for one to be held liable under Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, and not to be liable under Section 3(g), there must be a showing that the public official entered into a grossly disadvantageous contract on behalf of the government. For one to have violated Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, the following elements must be established: 1.) the accused must be a public officer discharging administrative, judicial, or official functions; 2.) he must have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or inexcusable negligence; and 3.) he must have caused undue injury to any party, including the government, or given any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference, in the discharge of his functions. Evidently, mere bad faith or partiality and negligence per se are not enough for one to be held liable under the law. It is required that the act constitutive of bad faith or partiality must, in the first place, be evident or manifest, while the negligent deed should be both gross and inexcusable. Further, it is necessary to show that any or all of these modalities resulted in undue injury to a specified party. On the other hand, to be liable under Section 3(g), there must be a showing that private respondents entered into grossly disadvantageous contract on behalf of the government. Same; Same; Mistakes committed by a public officer are not actionable, absent a clear showing that he was motivated by malice or gross negligence amounting to bad faith. The Chapter on Human Relations of the Civil Code directs every person, inter alia, to observe good faith, which springs from the fountain of good conscience. Well-settled is the rule that good faith is presumed. Specifically, a public officer is presumed to have acted in good faith in the performance of his duties. Mistakes committed by a public officer are not actionable, absent a clear showing that he was motivated by malice or gross negligence amounting to bad faith. Bad faith does not simply connote bad moral judgment or negligence. There must be some dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong, a breach of a sworn duty though some motive or intent, or ill will. It partakes of the nature of fraud. It contemplates a state of mind affirmatively operating with furtive design or some motive of selfinterest or ill will for ulterior purposes. Petitioners utterly failed to show that private respondents actions fit such description.

GR No. 150900 March 14, 2008 CYNTHIA LUCES, petitioner, vs. CHERRY DAMOLE, HON. RAMON G. CODILLA, JR., Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, Cebu City; and COURT OF APPEALS, FIFTH DIVISION, METRO MANILA, respondents.

Criminal Law; Estafa; Elements; Words and Phrases; Also known as swindling, estafa is committed by any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned in the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Also known as swindling, estafa is committed by any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned in the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Petitioner was tried and convicted for violation of Article 315(1)(b) which states, among others, fraud may be committed with unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence in the following manner: (b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or any other personal property received by the offender in trust or in commission, or for administration, or under any obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same, even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by

denying having received such money, goods, or other property. Specifically, the elements of estafa through misappropriation or conversion are: 1) that the money, goods, or other personal property is received by the offender in trust, or in commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to deliver or return the same; 2) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt; 3) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and 4) that there is demand made by the offended party on the offender. Same; Same; Same; Same; The essence of estafa under Article 315, par. 1(b) is the appropriation or conversion of money or property received, to the prejudice of the owner the words convert and misappropriate connote an act of using or disposing of anothers property as if it were ones own, or of devoting it to a purpose or use different from that agreed upon. The essence of estafa under Article 315, par. 1(b) is the appropriation or conversion of money or property received, to the prejudice of the owner. The words convert and misappropriate connote an act of using or disposing of anothers property as if it were ones own, or of devoting it to a purpose or use different from that agreed upon. To misappropriate for ones own use includes not only conversion to ones personal advantage, but also every attempt to dispose of the property of another without a right. Same; Same; Same; Same; Damage as an element of estafa may consist in 1) the offended party being deprived of his money or property as a result of the defraudation; 2) disturbance in property right; or 3) temporary prejudice. The prosecution further showed that the misappropriation or conversion by petitioner caused prejudice to private complainant. Damage as an element of estafa may consist in 1) the offended party being deprived of his money or property as a result of the defraudation; 2) disturbance in property right; or 3) temporary prejudice. Under the given circumstances, it is beyond cavil that private complainant was deprived of her right to enjoy the proceeds of the sale as a result of petitioners unauthorized use of the PO cards. Same; Same; Penalties; Indeterminate Sentence Law; The range of the penalty provided for in Article 315 is composed of only two periodsto get the maximum period of the indeterminate sentence, the total number of years included in the two periods should be divided into three. Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum term of the penalty shall be that which in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under the RPC and the minimum shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to that of the prescribed for the offense. The range of the penalty provided for in Article 315 is composed of only two periods; thus, to get the maximum of the period of the indeterminate sentence, the total number of years included in the two periods should be divided into three. Article 65 of the RPC requires the division of the time included in the prescribed penalty into three equal periods of time, forming one period for each of the three portions.

GR No. 157643 March 28, 2008 CRISTINELLI S. FERMIN, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Criminal Law; Libel; Proof of knowledge of and participation in the publication of the offending article is not required, if the accused has been specifically identified as "author, editor, or proprietor" or "printer/publisher" of the publication. In U.S. v. Taylor, the accused was indicted under Section 6 of Act No. 277 which provides that: "Every author, editor or proprietor of any book, newspaper, or serial publication is chargeable with the publication of any words contained in any part of said book or number of each newspaper or serial as fully as if he were the author of the same." However, proof adduced during the trial showed that accused was the manager of the publication without the corresponding evidence that, as such, he was directly responsible for the writing, editing, or publishing of the matter contained in the said libelous article. In People v. Topacio and Santiago, reference was made to the Spanish text of Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code which includes the verb "publicar." Thus, it was held that Article 360 includes not only the author or the person who causes the libelous matter to be published, but also the person who prints or publishes it. Based on these cases, therefore, proof of knowledge of and participation in the publication of the offending article is not required, if the accused has been specifically identified as "author, editor, or proprietor" or "printer/publisher" of the publication, as petitioner and Tugas are in this case.

Same; Same; Whether on not a "publisher" who is also its "president" and "chairperson" of a publication of a libelous article, she can be convicted for the resulting libel, having furnished the means of carrying on the publication of the article purportedly prepared by the members of the reportorial team, who were employees under her control and supervision. It is worthy to note that petitioner was not only the "publisher", as shown by the editorial box of Gossip Tabloid, but also its "president" and "chairperson" as she herself admitted on the witness stand. She also testified that she handled the business aspect of the publication, and assigns editors to take charge of everything. Obviously, petitioner had full control over the publication of articles in the said tabloid. Her excuse of lack of knowledge, consent, or participation in the release of the libelous article fails to persuade. Following our ruling in Ocampo, petitioner's criminal guilt should be affirmed, whether or not she had actual knowledge and participation, having furnished the means of carrying on the publication of the article purportedly prepared by the members of the Gossip Reportorial Team, who were employees under her control and supervision. Same; Same; Judgments; Statutory Construction; Article 360 is clear and unambiguous, and to apply People v. Beltran and Soliven, which requires specific knowledge, participation, and approval on the part of the publisher to be liable for the publication of a libelous article, would be reading into the law an additional requirement that was not intended by it. Petitioner argues that Ocampo has been clarified by the CA in People v. Beltran and Soliven such that Maximo V. Soliven, as publisher of The Philippine Star, was acquitted by the appellate court in view of the lack of evidence that he knew and approved the article written by Luis D. Beltran about then President Corazon C. Aquino in the newspaper's October 12, 1987 issue. Petitioner submits that People v. Beltran and Soliven serves as a guide to this Court regarding the criminal liability of the publisher of the newspaper where a libelous article is published. Put differently, it appears that petitioner wants this Court to follow the CA decision and adopt it as judicial precedent under the principle of stare decisis. The doctrine of stare decisis, embodied in Article 824 of the Civil Code, is enunciated, thus: The doctrine of stare decisis enjoins adherence to judicial precedents. It requires courts in a country to follow the rule established in a decision of the Supreme Court thereof. That decision becomes a judicial precedent to be followed in subsequent cases by all courts in the land. The doctrine of stare decisis is based on the principle that once a question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument. Unfortunately, the Beltran decision attained finality at the level of the CA. Thus, if the CA seemingly made a new pronouncement regarding the criminal liability of a publisher under Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code, that ruling cannot bind this Court unless we purposely adopt the same. Be that as it may, we find no compelling reason to revisit U.S. v. Ocampo; to modify it would amount to judicial legislation. Article 360 is clear and unambiguous, and to apply People v. Beltran and Soliven, which requires specific knowledge, participation, and approval on the part of the publisher to be liable for the publication of a libelous article, would be reading into the law an additional requirement that was not intended by it. Same; Same; Words and Phrases; A libel is defined as a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary; or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead. A libel is defined as a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary; or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead. In determining whether a statement is defamatory, the words used are to be construed in their entirety and should be taken in their plain and ordinary meaning as they would naturally be understood by persons reading them, unless it appears that they were used and understood in another sense. To say that the article, in its entirety, is not libelous disturbs one's sensibilities; it would certainly prick one's conscience. There is evident imputation of the crime of malversation (that the complainants converted for their personal use the money paid to them by fellow Filipinos in America in their business of distributing highend cookware); of vices or defects for being fugitives from the law (that complainants and their family returned to the Philippines to evade prosecution in America); and of being a wastrel (that Annabelle Rama Gutierrez lost the earnings from their business through irresponsible gambling in casinos). The attribution was made publicly, considering that Gossip Tabloid had a nationwide circulation. The victims were identified and identifiable. More importantly, the article reeks of malice, as it tends to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of the complainants. Same; Same; In the instant case, not only was there malice in law, the article being malicious in itself, but there was also malice in fact, as there was motive to talk ill against complainants during the electoral campaign. It can be gleaned from her testimony that petitioner had the motive to make defamatory imputations against complainants. Thus, petitioner cannot, by simply making a general denial, convince us that there was no malice on her part. Verily, not only was there malice in law, the article being malicious in itself, but there was also malice in fact, as there was motive to talk ill against complainants during the electoral campaign.

Same; Same; Although a wide latitude is given to critical utterances made against public officials in the performance of their official duties, or against public figures on matters of public interest, such criticism does not automatically fall within the ambit of constitutionally protected speech. If the utterances are false, malicious or unrelated to a public officer's performance of his duties or irrelevant to matters of public interest involving public figures, the same may give rise to criminal and civil liability. Neither can petitioner take refuge in the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and of the press. Although a wide latitude is given to critical utterances made against public officials in the performance of their official duties, or against public figures on matters of public interest, such criticism does not automatically fall within the ambit of constitutionally protected speech. If the utterances are false, malicious or unrelated to a public officer's performance of his duties or irrelevant to matters of public interest involving public figures, the same may give rise to criminal and civil liability. While complainants are considered public figures for being personalities in the entertainment business, media people, including gossip and intrigue writers and commentators such as petitioner, do not have the unbridled license to malign their honor and dignity by indiscriminately airing fabricated and malicious comments, whether in broadcast media or in print, about their personal lives. Same; Same; Administrative Circular No. 08-2008, entitled Guidelines in the Observance of a Rule of Preference in the Imposition of Penalties in Libel Cases; While the Circular expresses a preference for the imposition of a fine rather than imprisonment, it likewise allows the court, in the exercise of sound discretion, the option to impose imprisonment as penalty, whenever the imposition of a fine alone would depreciate the seriousness of the offense, work violence on the social order, or otherwise be contrary to the imperatives of justice . With respect to the penalty to be imposed for this conviction, we note that on January 25, 2008, the Court issued Administrative Circular No. 08-2008, entitled Guidelines in the Observance of a Rule of Preference in the Imposition of Penalties in Libel Cases. The Circular expresses a preference for the imposition of a fine rather than imprisonment, given the circumstances attendant in the cases cited therein in which only a fine was imposed by this Court on those convicted of libel. It also states that, if the penalty imposed is merely a fine but the convict is unable to pay the same, the Revised Penal Code provisions on subsidiary imprisonment should apply. However, the Circular likewise allows the court, in the exercise of sound discretion, the option to impose imprisonment as penalty, whenever the imposition of a fine alone would depreciate the seriousness of the offense, work violence on the social order, or otherwise be contrary to the imperatives of justice.

GR No. 164266 July 23, 2008 NOVER BRYAN SALVADOR y DE LEON, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Criminal Law; Evidence; Circumstantial Evidence; Requisites; Words and Phrases; Direct evidence of the crime is not the only matrix wherefrom a trial court may draw its conclusion and finding of guilt- the rules of evidence allow a trial court to rely on circumstantial evidence to support its conclusion of guilt; Circumstantial evidence is that evidence which proves a fact or series of facts from which the facts in issue may be established by inference. Direct evidence of the crime is not the only matrix wherefrom a trial court may draw its conclusion and finding of guilt. The rules of evidence allow a trial court to rely on circumstantial evidence to support its conclusion of guilt. Circumstantial evidence is that evidence which proves a fact of series of facts from which the facts in issue may be established by inference. At times, resort to circumstantial evidence is imperative since to insist on direct testimony would, in many cases, result in setting felons free and deny proper protection to the circumstantial evidence is sufficient fro conviction if the following requisites are complied with: (1) There is more than one circumstance;(2) The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (3) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. Same; Homicide; Motive; Intent; Words and Phrases; It is a rule in criminal law that motive, being a state of mind, is established by the testimony of witnesses on the acts or statements of the accused before or immediately after the commission of the offence, deeds or words that may express it or from which his motive or reason for committing it may be inferred; Motive and intent may be considered one and the same in some instances. Intent to kill was duly established by the witnesses when they testified relative to the peeping incident. Although there was no evidence

or allegation of sexual advances, such incident manifested petitioners evil motive. It is a rule in criminal law that motive, being a state if mind, is established by the testimony of witnesses on the acts or statements of the accused before or immediately after the commission of the offense, deeds or words that may express it or from which his motive or reason for committing it may inferred. Motive and intent may be considered one and the same, in some instances, as in the present case. Circumstantial Evidence; The peculiarity of circumstantial evidence is that the guilt of the accused cannot be deduced from scrutinizing just one particular piece of evidence it is more like a puzzle which, when put together, reveal a remarkable picture pointing towards the conclusion that the accused is the author of the crime. The DNA analysis made by the NBI expert placed the petitioner at the scene of the crime. Such evidence was considered, together with the other circumstances discussed earlier. The individual pieces of evidence may not be sufficient to point to the accused as the author of the crime. However, when taken together, they are more than enough to established beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner committed the crime of homicide. We would like to emphasize at this point that the peculiarity of circumstantial evidence is that the guilt of the accused cannot be deduced from scrutinizing just one particular reveals a remarkable picture pointing towards the conclusion that the accused is the author of the crime. Witnesses; It is unnatural for a relative, who is interested in vindicating the crime, to accuse somebody else other than the real culprit-for her/him to do so is to let the guilty go free . The prosecutions evidence, especially the testimonies of the witnesses who happen to be the victims relatives, was not weakened by the fact of such relationship. The Court notes that petitioner himself is a relative of the witnesses, albeit by affinity, being the husband of the victims sister. It is unnatural for a relative, who is interested in vindication the crime, to accuse somebody else other than the real culprit. For her/him to do so is to let the guilty go free. Where there is nothing to indicate that witnesses were actuated by improper motives on the witness stand, their positive declarations made under solemn oath deserve full faith and credence.

GR. 180425 July 31, 2008 FELIX RAIT, petitioner, vs. THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

As an overt or external act is defined as some physical activity or deed, indicating the intention to commit a particular crime, more than a mere planning or preparation, which if carried out to its complete termination following its natural course, without being frustrated by external obstacles nor by the spontaneous desistance of the perpetrator, will logically and necessarily ripen into a concrete offense. This Court has held that an overt or external act is defined as some physical activity or deed, indicating the intention to commit a particular crime, more than a mere planning or preparation, which if carried out to its complete termination following its natural course, without being frustrated by external obstacles nor by the spontaneous desistance of the perpetrator, will logically and necessarily ripen into a concrete offense. The raison detre for the law requiring a direct overt act is that, in a majority of cases, the conduct of the accused consisting merely of acts of preparation has never ceased to be equivocal; and this is necessarily so, irrespective of his declared intent. It is that quality of being equivocal that must be lacking before the act becomes one which may be said to be a commencement of the commission of the crime, or an overt act or before any fragment of the crime itself has been committed, and this is so for the reason that so long as the equivocal quality remains, no one can say with certainty what the intent of the accused is. It is necessary that the overt act should have been the ultimate step towards the consummation of the design. It is sufficient if it was the first or some subsequent step in a direct movement towards the commission of the offense after the preparations are made. The act done need not constitute the last proximate one for completion. It is necessary however, that the attempt must have a causal relation to the intended crime. In the words of Viada, the overt acts must have an immediate and necessary relation to the offense. It is error for the trial court to sentence an accused to a prison term without specifying the period such sentence covers. We note that the trial courts Decision sentenced petitioner to a prison term without specifying the period this sentence covers. We will rectify this error even as we affirm petitioners conviction. The penalty for attempted rape is prision mayor, or two degrees lower than reclusion perpetua, the penalty for consummated rape. Petitioner

should be sentenced to an indeterminate sentence the minimum of which is in the range of prision correccional, or within six months and one day to six years, and the maximum of which is prision mayor medium, or within eight years and one day to ten years. In this case, the trial court sentenced petitioner to an Indeterminate Sentence of PRISION CORRECCIONAL in its medium period, as the minimum, to PRISION MAYOR in its medium period, as the maximum.

Remedial Law
G.R. No. 169962 July 12, 2007 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. RAUL CENAHONON, appellant.

Criminal Law; Appeals; Even if only one of the accused appealed, the Court, in line with its ruling in People vs. Esparas, 260 SCRA 539 (1996), and in subsequent similar cases, is mandated by law to automatically review the conviction and the death sentence imposed on both the accused who appealed and the one who did not, and promulgate the appropriate judgment. It must be remembered that Erdaje escaped from jail after his arraignment. The trial court tried him in absentia, found him guilty of the crime charged together with Cenahonon, and likewise sentenced him to death. While it appears that Cenahonon is the lone appellant in this case, this Court, in line with its ruling in People v. Esparas and in subsequent similar cases, is mandated by law to automatically review the conviction and the death sentence imposed on both Cenahonon and Erdaje, and promulgate the appropriate judgment. As the brief drafted by the PAO was initially filed for both accused, the Court will also consider the same with respect to Erdaje. Further, as the entire case is thrown open for scrutiny, it is the duty of this Court to correct any error, if any, that may be found in the judgment under review, whether or not an appeal brief is filed, and if there is, whether or not such error is assigned.

Same; Witnesses; An honest mistake does not destroy the credibility of a witness. What Magaway made was an honest mistake that does not destroy his credibility as a witness. Even the most truthful witness can commit errors, but such innocent lapses do not necessarily affect his credibility. The testimonies of witnesses must be calibrated in their entirety, not merely by their truncated portions or isolated passages. Same; Same; Trial inconsistencies serve to strengthen the case of the prosecution as they erase the suspicion of a rehearsed or perjured testimony. The truthfulness of Alamag's testimony is not affected by the alleged inconsistency as to whether she was threatened or not by her uncle (Erdaje). The discrepancy is of such a minor nature that it does not belie the occurrence of the abduction of Kenneth Medina by Cenahonon and Erdaje. In fact, such trivial inconsistencies even serve to strengthen the case of the prosecution as they erase suspicion of a rehearsed or perjured testimony. Same; Same; Out-of-court identification of suspects; Totality of Circumstances Test. In resolving the admissibility of and relying on out-of-court identification of suspects, courts have adopted the totality of circumstances test where the consider the following factors, viz.: (1) The witness opportunity to view the criminal at the

time of the crime; (2) the witness degree of attention at that time; (3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness; (4) the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the time of identification; and (6) the suggestiveness of the identification procedure.
Same; Same; An affirmative testimony merits greater weight than a negative one, especially when the former comes from a reliable witness. An affirmative testimony merits greater weight than a negative one, especially when the former comes from a credible witness. Categorical and positive identification of an accused, without any showing of ill motive on the part of the witness testifying on the matter, prevails over alibi and denial, which are negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of real weight in law unless substantiated by clear and convincing evidence. Same; Same; For testimony to be believed it should not only come from a credible witness but must also be credible in itself-it would be inconceivable that kidnappers would entrust the performance of an essential and sensitive phase of their well-planned scheme to people not in collaboration with them, and who had no knowledge whatsoever of the details of their reprehensible plan. In this case, Cenahonon's version that he was forced to take care of the kidnap victim is simply unbelievable. For testimony to be believed, it should not only come from a credible witness but must also be credible in itself. It would be inconceivable that kidnappers would entrust the performance of an essential and sensitive phase of their well-planned scheme to people not in collaboration with them, and who had no knowledge whatsoever of the details of their reprehensible plan. Cenahonons narrative even strengthens the prosecutions case, as it partakes of an admission that he participated in depriving the child of his liberty. Flight; The flight of an accused can only be indicative of his guilt. It should also be remembered that Erdaje escaped from prison after he was duly arraigned. His flight can only be indicative of his guilt. Flight means the act of evading the natural course of justice by voluntarily withdrawing oneself to avoid arrest, detention, or the institution or continuance of criminal proceedings. In jurisprudence, it has always been a strong indication of guilt betraying a desire to evade responsibility. It is hardly consistent with a claim of innocence. Conspiracy; While it is mandatory to prove it by competent evidence, direct proof is not essential to show conspiracy it may be deduced from the mode, method, and manner by which the offense was perpetrated, or inferred from the acts of the accused themselves when such acts point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest. As regards the issue of conspiracy, the prosecution has proffered sufficient evidence that Cenahonon and Erdaje had unity of purpose in the perpetration of the kidnapping for ransom of Kenneth Medina. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. While it is mandatory to prove it by competent evidence, direct proof is not essential to show conspiracy it may be deduced from the mode, method, and manner by which the offense was perpetrated, or inferred from the acts of the accused themselves when such acts point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest. Same; Kidnapping for Ransom; Elements. The imposition of the death penalty, are as follows: (a) intent on the part of the accused to deprive the victim of his liberty; (b) actual deprivation of the victim of his liberty; and (c) motive of the accused, which is extorting ransom for the release of the victim. Neither actual demand for nor payment of ransom is necessary for the consummation of the felony. It is sufficient that the deprivation of liberty was for extorting ransom even if none of the four circumstances mentioned in Article 267 were present in its perpetration.

G.R. No. 149609 July 30, 2007 HEIRS OF TAMA TAN BUTO, represented by JAYNOL TAMA TAN BUTO, petitioners, vs. ERNESTO T. LUY, respondent.

Courts; Judgments; Res Judicata; Requisites; The judgment by a Court of competent jurisdiction operates as res judicata and bars subsequent cases filed by the same parties and their successors-in-interest, involving the same subject matter and cause of action. The Heirs of Buto can no longer question the decisionof CA dated March 15, 1968 which has long become final and executory. The judgment by a Court of competent jurisdiction operates as res judicata and bars subsequent cases filed by the same parties and their successors-in-interest, involving the same subject matter and cause of action. The requisites of res judicata are: (a) The former judgment must be final; (b) it must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (c) it must be judgment on the merits; (d) there must be, between the first and the second actions, identity of the parties, of subject matter, and of cause of action. Same; Same; Same; Parties; There is identity of parties not only when the parties are identical, but also when the parties are in privity with them such as between their successor-in-interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action, litigating for the same thing, under the same title, and the same capacity. There is also no denying the identity of the parties in this petition and in the previous case decided with finality by the CA in CA-G.R. No. 30813-R. Although the name Luy does not appear in LRC No. N-62 and CAG.R. No. 30813-R, there is still identity of parties. Luy, as successor-in-interest and as the new owner of the land covered by TCT No. T-35185, is the legal substitute of Leyva. As previously pronounced by this Court, there is identity of parties not only where the parties are identical, but also hen the parties are in privity with them such as between their successors-in-interest by the title subsequent to the commencement of the action, litigating for the same thing, under the same title, and in the same capacity. Land Registration; Land Titles; After the expiration of one (1) year from the issuance of the decree of registration, the certificate of the title serves as evidence of an indefeasible title to the property in favor of the person whose name appears thereon. Another reason why we can no longer entertain the present petition is because after the expiration of one (1) year from the issuance of the decree of registration, the certificate of title serves as evidence of an indefeasible title to the property in favor of the person whose name appears thereon. The certificate of title that was issued to Leyva on November 27, 1953, attained the status of indefeasibility one year after its issuance. The attack on its validity on the ground of fraud was reversed by the CA in March 15, 1968 decision. From the finality of the said decision, any other attack on the certificate of title issued to Levya must fail.

A.M. No. MTJ-07-1680 August 17, 2007 KATIPUNAN NG TINIG SA ADHIKAIN, INC. (KATIHAN) by GODOFREDO S. BONGON, complainant, vs. JUDGE LUIS ZENON O. MACEREN, SHERIFF ANTOLIN ORTEGA CUIZON, Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 39, Quezon City, respondents.

Court Personnel; Sheriffs; Writs of Execution; The preparation of writs is not among the duties of sheriffs as the authority to issue the same resides in judges. Sheriff Cuizon is administratively liable for ordering the demolition of the structures on the subject property

and for his issuance of the Final Notice of Demolition without authority from the court. Sheriff Cuizon exceeded his authority in issuing the Final Notice of Demolition. He issued the same without a special order of demolition from the court having jurisdiction over the ejectment case. It must be stressed that the preparation of writs is not among the duties of sheriffs as the authority to issue the same resides in judges. The Rules of Court is very clear and categorical in saying that when the property subject of the execution contains improvements constructed or planted by the judgment obligor or his agent, the officer shall not destroy, demolish or remove said improvements except upon special order of the court, issued upon motion of the judgment oblige after due hearing and after the former has failed to remove the same within a reasonable time fixed by the court. Same; Same; Same; It is mandatory for a sheriff to make a return of the writ of execution to the clerk of judge issuing it within thirty (30) days upon his receipt of the writ. It is mandatory for a sheriff to make a return of the writ of execution to the clerk or judge issuing it within thirty (30) days upon his receipt of the writ. The Writ of Execution was issued by Judge Maceren on November 30, 2005. On the same date, Sheriff Cuizon issued a Notice to Vacate. Correspondingly, Sheriff Cuizon should have submitted to the MeTC a return of writ on December 30, 2005 and a report every thirty (30) days thereafter until the judgment is fully satisfied. The reason behind this mandatory requirement is to update the court on the status of the execution and to take necessary steps to ensure the speedy execution of decisions.

A.M. No. P-07-2342 August 31, 2007 ROELA D. CO, complainant, vs. ALLAN D. SILLADOR, Sheriff IV, Regional Trial Court, Branch 62, Bago City, respondent.

Courts; Court Personnel; Sheriffs; Auction Sales; Indemnity Bonds; Before the issuance of the order for the oblige to post indemnity bonds, the sheriff should determine the respective values of the levied properties in order to fix the exact amount of the indemnity bonds; It is incumbent upon the sheriff, as the officer effecting the levy, to ascertain the veracity of the third party claims, and not simply rely on the third party claimants representations as to the value of the levied properties. Rule 39 of the Rules of Court unequivocally provides the time in which the auction sale is to be conducted as well as the procedure to be followed in the redemption of the properties. Respondents justification for the delay in the conduct of the auction sale is not well-taken. To begin with, respondents Orders requiring the judgment oblige to post indemnity bonds were patently defective. Before issuance thereof, respondent should have determined the respective values of the levied properties in order to fix the exact amount of the indemnity bonds. Section 16, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, explicitly mandates that the indemnity bond shall be in a sum not less than the value of the property levied on. It was incumbent upon the sheriff, as the officer effecting the levy, to ascertain the veracity of the third party claims, and not simply rely on the third party claimants representations as to the value of the levied properties, prior issuing the said Orders. He could have easily asked for ax declarations thereon when presented with the third party claims. Thus, the delay in the conduct of the auction sale and the procedural shortcuts taken thereon are attributable to the respondent. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; For the complete satisfaction of the judgment award, the judgment obligees available remedies are outlined in Sections 36 and 37, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. Respondent failed to state whether he demanded from the redemptioners payment of the deficiency in the redemption price, including any taxes and assessment paid

by the judgment oblige, including any taxes and assessment paid by the judgment obligee. He forthwith re-levied on the judgment obligors properties instead o canceling the Certificate of Redemption. His insistence that the re-levying of the properties was simply in furtherance of his ministerial duty to effect full satisfaction of the RTC Bagos judgment is misplaced. For the complete satisfaction of the judgment award, the judgment obligees available remedies are outlined in Sections 36 and 37, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. Clearly, respondents automatic re-levy of the same properties without notice to all affected parties, including the spouses of the judgment obligor, was unwarranted. Same; Same; Same; Simple Neglect; Sheriffs, in serving the courts writs and processes, and in implementing the orders of the court, cannot afford to err without affecting the efficiency of the process of the administration of justice. We cannot overemphasize the primordial role sheriffs play in the disposition of justice. As officers of the court, they must discharge their duties with great care and diligence. They are exhorted to use reasonable skill and diligence in performing their official duties, especially when the rights of individuals may be jeopardized by neglect. The raison detre for this exacting standard is grounded on public office being a public trust. More, particularly, sheriffs, in serving the courts writs and processes, and in implementing the orders of the court, cannot afford to err without affecting the efficiency of the process of the administration of justice. All told, respondent is liable for simple neglect of duty which has been defined as the failure of an employee to give ones attention to a task expected of him, and signifies a disregard of a duty resulting from carelessness or indifference.

G.R. No. 161735 September 25, 2007 EX-C1C JIMMY B. SANCHEZ and EX-C2C SALVADOR A. METEORO, petitioners, vs. ROBERTO T. LASTIMOSO, in his capacity as DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, respondent.

Actions; Mandamus; The remedy of mandamus is employed only to compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty, but not to require anyone to fulfill a discretionary one-the issuance of the writ is simply a command to exercise a power already possessed and to perform a duty already imposed. We have repeatedly stressed in our prior decisions that the remedy of mandamus is employed only to compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty, but not to require anyone to fulfill a discretionary one. The issuance of the writ is simply a command to exercise a power already possessed and to perform a duty already imposed. In Manila International Airport Authority v. Rivera Village Lessee Homeowners Association, Inc., 471 SCRA 358 (2005), we emphasized, through the erudite and eloquent ponencia of Justice Dante O. Tinga, that the writ can be issued only when the applicants legal right to the performance of a particular act sought to be compelled is clear and complete, one which is indubitably granted by law or is inferable as a matter of law.

G.R. No. 110478 October 15, 2007 FERMIN MANAPAT, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, respondents. Eminent Domain; Non-impairment Clause; The power of eminent domain is an inherent and indispensable power of the State; By virtue of its sovereign character, the exercise of the

power prevails over the non-impairment clause, and is clearly superior to the final and executory judgment rendered by a court in an ejectment case; Section 9, Article III of the Constitution merely imposes a limit on the governments exercise of the power and provides a measure of protection to the individuals right to property. The power of eminent domain is an inherent and indispensable power of the State. Also called the power of expropriation, it is described as the highest and most exact idea of property remaining in the government that may be acquired for some public purpose through a method in the nature of a compulsory sale to the State. By virtue of its sovereign character, the exercise of the power prevails over the non-impairment clause, and is clearly superior to the final and executory judgment rendered by a court in an ejectment case; Section 9, Article III of the Constitution merely imposes a limit on the governments exercise of the power and provides a measure of protection to the individuals right to property. Same; The power of eminent domain may be delegated by Congress to the President, administrative bodies, local government units and even to private enterprises performing public services. Just like its two companion fundamental powers of the State, the power of eminent domain is exercised by the Legislature. However, it may be delegated by Congress to the President, administrative bodies, and local government units and even to private enterprises performing public services. Same; Requisites. Over the years and in a plethora of cases, this Court has recognized the following requisites for the valid exercise of the power of eminent domain: (1) the property taken must be private property; (2) there must be genuine necessity to take the private property; (3) the taking must be for public use; (4) there must be payment of just compensation; and (5) the taking must comply with due process of law. Same; as a rule, genuine necessity for the exercise of eminent domain is a justiciable question but when power is exercised by the Legislature, the question of necessity is essentially a political question. It is well recall that in Lagcao v. Judge Labra, 440 SCRA 279 (2004), we declared that the foundation of the right to exercise eminent domain is genuine necessity, and that necessity must be of a public character. As a rule, the determination of whether there is genuine necessity for the exercise is a justiciable question. However, when the power is exercised by the Legislature, the question of necessity is essentially a political question. Thus, in City of Manila v. Chinese Community, 40 Phil. 349 (1919), we held: The legislature, in providing for the exercise of the power of eminent domain, may directly determine the necessity for appropriating private property for a particular improvement for public use, and it may select the exact location of the improvement. In such a case, it is well-settled that the utility of the proposed improvement, the extent of the public necessity for its construction, the expediency of constructing it, the suitableness of the location selected and the consequent necessity of taking the land selected for its site, are all questions exclusively for the legislature to determine, and the courts have no power to interfere, or to substitute their own views for those representatives of the people. Same; Socialized Housing; Words and Phrases; Socialized housing is the construction of dwelling units of the middle and lower class members of our society; Zonal Improvement Program is an integral part of the governments socialized housing-as such, the Supreme Court has deemed it compliant with the public purpose requirement, it being clearly devoted to public purpose. The Zonal Improvement Program (ZIP), being implemented for government by NHA, draws breath from policy mandates found in the 1987 Constitution. 60 It is an integral part of the government's "socialized housing" program which, in Sumulong v. Guerrero, 61 we deemed compliant with the "public use" requirement, it being a program clearly devoted to a "public purpose." Justice Irene R. Cortes, speaking eloquently for the Court, said: "Socialized housing" is defined as, "the construction of dwelling units for the middle and lower class members of our society, including the construction of the supporting infrastructure and other facilities" (Pres. Decree No. 1224, par. 1). This definition was later expanded to include among others: a) The construction and/or improvement of dwelling units for the middle and lower income groups of the society, including the construction of

the supporting infrastructure and other facilities; b) Slum clearance, relocation and resettlement of squatters and slum dwellers as well as the provision of related facilities and services; c) Slum improvement which consists basically of allocating homelots to the dwellers in the area or property involved, rearrangement and re-alignment of existing houses and other dwelling structures and the construction and provision of basic community facilities and services, where there are none, such as roads, footpaths, drainage, sewerage, water and power system, schools, barangay centers, community centers, clinics, open spaces, parks, playgrounds and other recreational facilities; d) The provision of economic opportunities, including the development of commercial and industrial estates and such other facilities to enhance the total community growth; and e) Such other activities undertaken in pursuance of the objective to provide and maintain housing for the greatest number of people under Presidential Decree No. 757. (Pres. Decree No. 1259, sec. 1) xxx xxx xxx Same; Same; Same; The "public use" requisite for the valid exercise of the power of eminent domain is a flexible and evolving concept influenced by changing conditions.- It need only be added, at this juncture, that the "public use" requisite for the valid exercise of the power of eminent domain is a flexible and evolving concept influenced by changing conditions. At present, it may not be amiss to state that whatever is beneficially employed for the general welfare satisfies the requirement of public use . Same; Same; The propriety of exercising the power of eminent domain cannot be determined on a purely quantitative or area basis, given that the Constitution speaks of lands, not of landed estates J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration, 31 SCRA 413 (1970), is instructive. In that case, this Court adopted the dissenting opinion of Justice J.B.L. Reyes in Republic v. Baylosis, that the propriety of exercising the power of eminent domain cannot be determined on a purely quantitative or area basis, given that the Constitution speaks of lands, not of landed estates. Speaking through Justice (later Chief Justice) Enrique M. Fernando, the Court said: This is not to say of course that property rights are disregarded. This is merely to emphasize that the philosophy of our Constitution embodying as it does what Justice Laurel referred to as its "nationalistic and socialist traits discoverable upon even a sudden dip into a variety of [its] provisions" although not extending as far as the "destruction or annihilation" of the rights to property, negates the postulate which at one time reigned supreme in American constitutional law as to their wellnigh inviolable character. This is not so under our Constitution, which rejects the doctrine of laissez faire with its abhorrence for the least interference with the autonomy supposed to be enjoyed by the property owner. Laissez faire, as Justice Malcolm pointed out as far back as 1919, did not take too firm a foothold in our jurisprudence. Our Constitution is much more explicit. There is no room for it for laissez faire. Same; Same; Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (RA No. 7279); Statutory Construction; A new statute should affect the future, not the past. The law looks forward, not backward. The language of R.A. No. 7279 does not suggest that the Legislature has intended its provisions to have any retroactive application. The Court is not unaware of the condition now imposed by R.A. No. 7279 that, for purposes of urban development and housing under the Act, where expropriation is resorted to, parcels of land owned by small property owners shall be exempted. "Small property owners" are owners of residential lands with an area not exceeding 300 sq m in highly urbanized cities and 800 sq m in other urban areas and who do not own any other real property. Invoking this limitation under the said law, the appellate court in the questioned rulings exempted from expropriation the lots owned by Loberanes, Quimque, Mercado, Vega and Santos, and partially exempted the lot of Oracion. The CA's ruling on this point is incorrect. R.A. No. 7279 was enacted in 1992, almost two decades after the expropriation cases against the property owners herein were instituted with the RTC in 1977. Nova constitutio futuris formam imponere debet, non praeteritis. A new statute should affect the future, not the past. The law looks forward, not backward. Article 4 of the Civil Code even explicitly

declares, "(l)aws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided." In these consolidated cases, the Court finds that the language of R.A. No. 7279 does not suggest that the Legislature has intended its provisions to have any retroactive application. On the contrary, Section 49 of the said law indicates that it "shall take effect upon its publication in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation." The law's prospective application being clearly stated, the Court cannot agree with the disposition of the appellate court that the subject lots not exceeding 300 sq m are exempt from expropriation.

G.R. No. 177299 November 28, 2007 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. CHARLITO TUMULAK, appellant.

Criminal Law; Parricide; Evidence; Witnesses; Finding of trial courts on the credibility of witnesses deserve a high degree of respect and will not be disturbed on appeal absent a clear showing that the trial court had overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance which could reverse a judgment of conviction . Regalada positively identified the appellant as the culprit. Both the trial court and the appellate court found her testimony credible. It is doctrinal that finding the trial court on the credibility of witnesses deserve a high degree of respect and will not be disturbed on appeal absent a clear showing that the trial court had overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight, and substance which could reverse a judgment of conviction. In fact, in some instance, such findings are even accorded finality. This is so because the assignment of value to a witness' testimony is essential the domain of the trial court, not to mention that it is the trial judge who has the direct opportunity to observe the demeanor of a witness on the stand which opportunity provides him unique facility in determining whether or not to accord credence to the testimony or whether the witness is telling the truth or not. Same; Same; Alibis and Denials; Alibi and Denial being inherently weak cannot prevail over the positive identification of the accused as the perpetrator of the crime-they are facile to fabricate and difficult to disprove, and are generally rejected. Appellant's weak defense of denial and alibi cannot stand a chance against the declaration of Regalada identifying him as the killer and describing the manner in which he perpetrated the crime. We have unfailingly held that alibi and denial being inherently weak cannot prevail ever the positive identification of the accused as the perpetrator of the crime. They are facile to fabricate and difficult to disprove, and are generally rejected. Besides, for the defense of alibi to prosper, the accused must prove not only that he was at some other place at the time of the commission of the crime but also that it was physically impossible for him to be at the locus delicti or within its immediate vicinity. Apart from testifying that he never went to his father's house in the afternoon of February 10, 1998, appellant was unable to show that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime. Same; Same; Same; An affirmative testimony is far stronger than a negative testimony especially when it comes from the mouth of a credible witness; Alibi and denial, if not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence, are negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law.-Between the categorical statement of the prosecution witnesses, on one hand, and the bare denial of appellants, on the other, the former must perforce prevail. An affirmative testimony is far stronger than a negative testimony especially when it comes from the mouth of a credible witness. Alibi and denial, if not

substantiated by clear and convincing evidence, are negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of weight in law. They are considered with suspicion and always received with caution, not only because they are inherently weak and unreliable but also because they are easily fabricated and concocted. Appellant's challenge of his conviction is starkly puerile.

G.R. No. 171659 December 13, 2007 MARIETTA K. ILUSORIO, petitioner, vs. SYLVIA K. ILUSORIO, CRISTINA A. ILUSORIO, JOVITO CASTRO and FIVE (5) JOHN DOES, respondents.

Criminal Procedure; Preliminary Investigation; Words and Phrases; Probable Cause, Defined; A finding of probable cause merely binds over the suspect to stand trial it does not impose a guilty verdict; Probable cause requires more than bare suspicion. Probable cause has been defined as the existence of such facts and circumstances as would lead a person of ordinary caution and prudence to entertain an honest and strong suspicion, that the person charged is guilty of the crime for which he is sought to be prosecuted. Being based merely on opinion and reasonable belief, it does not import absolute certainty. A finding of probable cause merely binds over the suspect to stand trial; it does not impose a guilty verdict. However, it requires more than bare suspicion. Same; Same; The conduct of preliminary investigation for the purpose of determining the existence of probable cause is executive in nature the right to prosecute crime is reposed in the executive department of the government primarily responsible for the faithful execution of the laws of the land. The conduct of preliminary investigation for the purpose of determining the existence of probable cause is executive in nature. The right to prosecute crime is reposed in the executive department of the government primarily responsible for the faithful execution of the laws of the land. This right vests the government prosecutor with a wide latitude of discretion on what and whom to charge upon proper finding of probable cause, depending on a smorgasbord of factors best appreciated by him. The preliminary investigation also serves to secure the innocent against hasty, malicious, and oppressive prosecution, and to protect him from an open accusation of a crime, and the expense and anxiety of a public trial. It likewise protects the State from useless and expensive trials, if unwarranted. Same; Same; Policy of Non-Interference; A prosecutor is under no compulsion to file a particular criminal information where he is convinced that there is not enough evidence to support its averments, or that the evidence at hand, to his hand, to his mind, necessarily leads to a different conclusion . A prosecutor, by the nature of his office, is under no compulsion to file a particular criminal information where he is convinced that there is not enough evidence to support its averments, or that the evidence at hand, to his mind, necessarily leads to a different conclusion. While his findings are not absolute and are subject to judicial review, this Court generally adheres to the policy of non-interference in the conduct of preliminary investigations, particularly when the said findings are wellsupported by the facts as established by the evidence on record. Findings of probable cause are essentially factual in nature. Accordingly, in assailing said findings on the contention that the prosecutor committed grave abuse of discretion, the petitioner clearly raises issues anchored mainly on the propriety or impropriety of the prosecutors appreciation of the facts. This Court is not duty bound to scrutinize anew established facts in a petition for review for we are not a trier of facts.

Same; Same; Criminal Law; Robbery; Corporation Law; The Vice-President and Assistant Vice-President of a corporation, as such officers, would, ostensibly, have the right and authority to freely enter and perform acts of maintenance of the office premises, which right includes breaking open the door and replacing its locks, apparently due to loss of the keys . Sylvia and Cristina were able to establish by competent evidence that they were then the Vice-President and the Assistant Vice-President of Lakeridge, respectively. As such officers, they would, ostensibly, have the right and authority to freely enter and perform acts of maintenance of Penthouse Unit 43-C. The right could include breaking open the door and replacing its locks, apparently due to loss of the keys. Same; Same; Burden of Proof; Quantum of Evidence; the complainant in a criminal charge has the burden to prove the allegations by convincing evidence to warrant the indictment of the respondent. We reiterate that Marietta, as the complainant in the criminal charges filed before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati City, has the burden to prove the allegations in her Complaint-Affidavit by convincing evidence to warrant the indictment of private respondents. Unfortunately, she failed to discharge this burden. Thus, we cannot fault the investigating prosecutor for dismissing the criminal charges, especially after the dismissal was uniformly affirmed in toto by the City Prosecutor, the Secretary of the DOJ, and the Court of Appeals.

G.R. No. 171820 December 13, 2007 DIAMOND BUILDERS CONGLOMERATION, ROGELIO S. ACIDRE, TERESITA P. ACIDRE, GRACE C. OSIAS, VIOLETA S. FAIYAZ and EMMA S. CUTILLAR, petitioners, vs. COUNTRY BANKERS INSURANCE CORPORATION, respondent.

Judgments; Compromise agreement; Words and Phrases; A compromise judgment is a decision rendered by a court sanctioning the agreement between the parties concerning the determination of the controversy at hand. Upon court approval of a compromise agreement, it transcends its identity as a mere contract binding only upon the parties thereto, as it becomes a judgment that is subject to execution in accordance with Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. A compromise judgment is a decision rendered by a court sanctioning the agreement between the parties concerning the determination of the controversy at hand. Essentially, it is a contract, stamped with judicial imprimatur, between two or more persons, who, for preventing or putting an end to a lawsuit, adjust their difficulties by mutual consent in the manner which they agree on, and which each of them prefers in the hope of gaining, balanced by the danger of losing. Upon court approval of a compromise agreement, it transcends its identity as a mere contract binding only upon the parties thereto, as it becomes a judgment that is subject to execution in accordance with Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. Same; Same; Ordinarily, a judgment based on compromise is not appealable . A decision on a compromise agreement is final and executory, and is conclusive between the partiesOrdinarily, a judgment based on compromise is not appealable. It should not be disturbed except upon a showing of vitiated consent or forgery. The reason for the rule is that when both parties enter into an agreement to end a pending litigation and request that a decision be rendered approving said agreement, it is only natural to presume that such action constitutes an implicit, as undeniable as an express, waiver of the right to appeal against said decision. Thus, a decision on a compromise agreement is final and executory, and is conclusive between the parties

Same; Same; Execution of Judgment; Rescission; If a party fails or refuses to abide by the compromise agreement, the other party may either enforce the compromise or regard it as rescinded and insist upon his original demand . It is beyond cavil that if a party fails or refuses to abide by a compromise agreement, the other party may either enforce the compromise or regard it as rescinded and insist upon his original demand. Following this mandatory rule, the RTC Caloocan granted Borjas motion, and subsequently issued an order to the sheriff to execute the compromise judgment. Notwithstanding the foregoing, petitioners still maintain that since they had taken steps to stay the execution of the compromise judgment, Country Bankers, with full knowledge of their active opposition to the execution thereof, should not have readily complied with the RTC Caloocan Order. Same; Same; Same; Among the judgment declared to be immediately executory and not stayed by the filing of an appeal are those for (1)compromise, (2) forcible entry and unlawful detainer, (3) direct contempt (4)expropriation.- even without the aforesaid default clause, the compromise judgment remained executory as against Rogelio, as the principal obligor (co-debtor), and Country Bankers as surety of the obligation. Section 4, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides. SEC. 4. Judgments not stayed by appeal. Judgments in actions for injunction, receivership, accounting and support, and such other judgments as are now or may hereafter be declared to be immediately executory, shall be enforceable after their rendition and shall not be stayed by an appeal taken therefrom, unless otherwise ordered by the trial court. On appeal therefrom, the appellate court in its discretion may make an order suspending, modifying, restoring or granting the injunction, receivership, accounting, or award of support. The stay of execution shall be upon such terms as to bind or otherwise as may be considered proper for the security or protection of the rights of the adverse party. Other judgments in actions declared to be immediately executory and not stayed by the filing of an appeal are for: (1) compromise, (2) forcible entry and unlawful detainer, (3) direct contempt, and (4) expropriation. Same; Same; As the principals obligation under the compromise agreement, and approved by the court, had a penal clause which is monetary in nature, the writ of execution availed of by Borja, and paid by Country Bankers, strictly complied with the rules on execution of money judgments. Section 9, paragraph (a), of the same Rule outlines the procedure for execution of judgments for money SEC. 9 Execution of judgments for money, how enforced. Immediate payment on demand. The officer shall enforce an execution of a judgment for money by demanding from the judgment obligor the immediate payment of the full amount stated in the writ of execution and all lawful fees. The judgment obligor shall pay in case, certified bank check payable to the judgment oblige, or any other form of payment acceptable to the latter, the amount of the judgment debt under proper receipt directly to the judgment oblige or his authorized representative if present at the time of payment. The lawful fees shall be handed under proper receipt to the executing sheriff who shall turn over the said amount within the same day to the clerk of court of the court that issued the writ. s Rogelios obligation under the compromise agreement, and approved by the RTC Caloocan, had a penal clause which is monetary in nature, the writ of execution availed of by Borja, and paid by Country Bankers, strictly complied with the rules on execution of money judgments. Certiorari; Motions for Reconsideration; The general rule is that certiorari will not lie unless a motion for reconsideration is first filed before the respondent tribunal to allow it an opportunity to correct the imputed error; Exceptions; If, as Petitioners insist, they had a meritorious challenge to the satisfaction of the writ of execution, they should have immediately filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals and therein alleged the exceptional circumstances warranting the non-filing of a motion for reconsideration. Petitioners should not have persisted on waiting for the resolution of their Omnibus Motion. The general rule is that certiorari will not lie unless a motion for reconsideration is first filed before the respondent tribunal to allow it an opportunity to correct the imputed errors. Nonetheless, the rule admits of exceptions, thus (a) where the order is a patent nullity, as

where the court a quo has no jurisdiction;(b) where the questions raised in the certiorari proceedings have been duly raised and passed upon by the lower court, or are the same as those raised and passed upon in the lower court; (c) where there is an urgent necessity for the resolution of the question and any further delay would prejudice the interests of the Government or of the petitioner or the subject matter of the action is perishable;(d) where, under the circumstances, a motion for reconsideration would be useless; (e) where petitioner was deprived of due process and there is extreme urgency for relief;(f) where, in a criminal case, relief from an order of arrest is urgent and the granting of such relief by the trial court is improbable;(g) where the proceedings in the lower court are a nullity for lack of due process;(h) where the proceedings was ex-parte or in which the petitioner had no opportunity to object; and (i) where the issue raised is one purely of law or where public interest is involved. Evidently, it would not have been premature for petitioners to have filed a petition before the CA, upon the issuance by the RTC Caloocan of a writ of execution, because the RTC Caloocan already denied their Opposition to Borjas Motion for Execution on the surety bond. If, as petitioners insist, they had a meritorious challenge to the satisfaction of the writ of execution, they should have immediately filed a Petition for Certiorari with the CA and therein alleged the exceptional circumstance warranting the nonfiling of a motion for reconsideration. Petitioners should not have persisted on waiting for the resolution of their Omnibus Motion. Actions; Judgment Writ of Execution; Appeals; The reason for the rule that the order for the issuance o f a writ of execution is ordinarily not appealable is that the merits of the case should not be delved into anew after a determination has been made thereon with the finality. The reason for this is that the merits of the case should not be delved into anew after a determination has been made thereon with finality. . Otherwise, there would be practically no end to litigation since the losing party would always try to thwart execution by appealing from every order granting the writ. In this case, this aphorism should apply. Rogelio, after agreeing to an amicable settlement with Borja to put an end to the case before the RTC Caloocan, cannot flout compliance of the court order of execution by refusing to reimburse Country Bankers, the surety of his obligation in the compromise agreement.

G.R. No. 147939 July 6, 2007 THE HEIRS OF CRISTETA DE LA ROSA, petitioners, vs. HON. ADELINA CALDERONBARGAS, HEIRS OF SESINANDO MILLARE, ROSALINA M. COSEP, CARMELITA M. DAMASO, MERCEDES M. ESPIRITU, and FELICITA M. SAN FELIPE, respondents.

Remedial Law; Appeals; From the filing of the written notice of appeal, petitioners' appeal was perfected without need of any further act, and, consequently, the trial court lost jurisdiction over the case, both over the record and over the subject of the case. Petitioners are of the mistaken notion that receipt of the letter of transmittal and of the notice of appealed case is the reckoning point for the RTC to acquire jurisdiction over their appeal. This is contrary to the clear provision of Section 9, Rule 41 of the Revised Rules of Court, which states, in part, that a party's appeal by notice of appeal is deemed perfected as to him upon the filing of the notice of appeal in due time. The RTC acting as an appellate court acquired jurisdiction over the case of the petitioners upon their filing of the notice of appeal on October 5, 1998. The filing of the notice of appeal in due time and the payment of the appropriate fees by the petitioners perfected their appeal in the RTC. As a necessary consequence thereof, the MTC was divested of jurisdiction over their case. From the filing of

the written notice of appeal, petitioners' appeal was perfected without need of any further act, and, consequently, the trial court lost jurisdiction over the case, both over the record and over the subject of the case. Same; Motions; Private respondents substantially complied with the provisions of the Rules of Court regarding litigated motions. A perusal of the records of the case reveals that private respondents complied with the requirements of Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 of the Revised Rules of Court. Said motion contains the required notice of hearing. The specific date and time of the hearing of the motion was left by the respondents to the discretion of the court. We believe, and so hold, that private respondents substantially complied with the provisions of the Rules of Court regarding litigated motions. What is important is that petitioners were properly apprised that such motion was filed by private respondents. The obligation to notify them when the hearing on the motion would be heard rests on the trial court.

Same; Appeals; The rule that an appeal taken by one or more of several accused shall not affect those who did not appeal, except insofar as the judgment of the appellate court is favorable and applicable to the latter, applies also to those who might have separately appealed but whose appeals were earlier denied by the Supreme Court. We note that the separate appeals interposed by Manochon and Anamot were denied by this Court on November 11 and December 16, 2002, respectively. As their convictions were affirmed earlier, they were already made to suffer the erroneous penalty imposed by the trial court. Nevertheless, they shall benefit from the favorable modification of the minimum penalty made herein. Section 11, Rule 122 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure provides that "an appeal taken by one or more of several accused shall not affect those who did not appeal, except insofar as the judgment of the appellate court is favorable and applicable to the latter."

G.R. No. 163683 June 8, 2007 ELENITA S. BINAY, in her capacity as Mayor of the City of Makati, MARIO RODRIGUEZ and PRISCILLA FERROLINO, petitioners, vs. EMERITA ODEA, respondent. Appeals; Questions of Law and Questions of Facts; Words and Phrases; In petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45, only questions of law may be raised by the parties and passed upon by the Supreme Court; A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state of facts, while there is a fact when the doubt arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts. It is a well-established doctrine that in petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, only questions of law may be raised by the parties and passed upon by this Court. In the case of Erlinda R. Velayo-Fong, v. Spouses Raymond and Maria Hedy Velayo, 510 Scra 320 (2006), this Court defined a question of law as distinguished from a question of fact, to wit: A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state of facts, while there is a question of fact when the doubt arises as to the truth or falsity

of the alleged facts. For a question to be one of law, the same must not involve examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants or any of them. The resolution of the issue must rely solely on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances. Once it is clear that the issue invites a review of the evidence presented, the question posed is one of fact. Thus, the test of whether a question is one of law or of fact is not the appellation given to such question by the party raising the same; rather, it is whether the appellate court can determine the issue raised without reviewing or evaluation the evidence, in which case, it is a question of law; otherwise, it is a question of fact.

G.R. No. 169061 June 8, 2007 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROQUE ABELLANO, accusedappellant.

Criminal Law; Rape; Guiding Principles in the Review of Rape Cases. In the review of rape cases, we continue to be guided by the following principles: (1) an accusation for rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) in view of the nature of the crime of rape where only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant is scrutinized with extreme caution; and, (3) the evidence for the prosecution stands or falls on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the defense. Thus, in a prosecution for rape, the complainants credibility becomes the single most important issue. Witnesses; No woman would want to go to the humiliation of trial unless she has been so brutalized that she desires justice for her suffering it takes a certain amount of psychological depravity for a young woman to concoct a story which would cost the life of her own father and drag the rest of her family, including herself, to a lifetime of shame. As for the alleged ill motive behind the institution of the case, the appellate court is correct in finding that the accused did not present concrete proof to buttress the same. Corollarily, it is unbelievable that AAA will allow herself to be influenced by her uncle to concoct a convoluted story of rape by her own father simply because he was prevented by the accused from taking custody of her and her sisters after their mothers death. No woman would want to go through the humiliation of trial unless she has been so brutalized that she desires justice for her suffering. It takes a certain amount of psychological depravity for a young woman to concoct a story which could cost the life of her own father and drag the rest of the family, including herself, to a lifetime of shame. AAAs asseveration that she wanted to protect her siblings from their fathers sexual clutches far outweighs accuseds lame attempt to cast a shadow on her credibility and save himself. Besides, the records reveal that AAA herself, accompanied by her aunt, went to the Manito Police Station to lodge a complaint against the accused. Right to be Informed; Pleadings and Practice; Nowhere in People v. Bartoleme, 381 SCRA 91 (2002), People v. Cula, 329 SCRA 101 (2002), and People v. Liban, 345 SCRA 453 (2000), is it declared that the exact age, including the number of months must be recited in the Information, otherwise, an accused may not be convicted of qualified rape. With respect to the proper penalty to be imposed, the accused avers that he cannot be sentenced to suffer the death penalty since the qualifying circumstance of minority, that AAA was 12 years and 10 months old in June 1997, was not duly alleged in the Information, in the light of the rulings in People v. Bartolome, People v. Cula, and People v. Liban. His reliance on these cases is misplaced. These cases reduced the penalty from death to reclusion perpetua because the qualifying circumstance of minority was

not duly alleged and proven. However, nowhere in the cited decisions does it declare that the exact age, including the number of months must be recited in the Information, otherwise, an accused may not be convicted of qualified rape. More importantly, the facts obtaining in these cases show that although the qualifying circumstances were not duly alleged and established during trial, such inconsistencies did not create reasonable doubt as would reverse a conviction of rape.

G.R. No. 159292 July 12, 2007 SPOUSES RICHARD B. PASCUAL and CRISTINA D. PASCUAL, petitioners, vs. SPOUSES REYNALDO P. CORONEL and ASUNCION MALIG CORONEL, respondents.

Actions; Ejectment; Unlawful Detainer; Ownership; Where the issue of ownership is raised in an unlawful detainer case, the courts may pass upon the issue of ownership in order to determine who has the right to possess the property, but this adjudication is only an initial determination of ownership for the purpose of settling the issue of possession, the issue of ownership being inseparably linked thereto . In an unlawful detainer case, the sole issue for resolution is physical or material possession of the property involved, independent of any claim of ownership by any of the parties. However, where the issue of ownership is raised, the courts may pass upon the issue of ownership in order to determine who has the right to possess the property. We stress, however, that this adjudication is only an initial determination of ownership for the purpose of settling the issue of possession, the issue of ownership being inseparably linked thereto. The lower courts adjudication of ownership in the ejectment case is merely provisional and would not bar or prejudice an action between the same parties involving title to the property. It is, therefore, not conclusive as to the issue of ownership, which is the subject matter of a separate case for annulment of deeds of sale filed by respondent. Same; Same; Same; Same; Land Titles; As opposed to the unregistered deeds of sale, a certificate of title certainly deserves more probative value. In any case, we sustain the appellate courts finding that the respondents have the better right to possess the subject property. As opposed to the unregistered deeds of sale, the certificate of title certainly deserves more probative value. Indeed, a Torrens Certificate is evidence of indefeasible title of property in favor of the person in whose name appears therein- such holder is entitled to the possession of the property until his title is nullified. Same; Same; Same; Parties; In an action for unlawful detainer, the real party-in-interest as party-defendant is the person who is in possession of the property without the benefit of any contract of lease and only upon the tolerance and generosity of its owner. Still the petitioners unrelentingly argue that the proceedings below were null for failure to implead Melu-Jean, the alleged owner, as an indispensable party-defendant. As previously mentioned, the sole issue in an unlawful detainer case is who has the right to the physical possession of the property. Consequently, in an action for unlawful detainer, the real partyin-interest as party-defendant is the person who is in possession of the property without the benefit of any contract of lease and only upon the tolerance and generosity of its owner. Such occupant is bound by an implied promise that he will vacate the premises upon demand. As earlier pronounced in Domalsin vs. Valenciano, 480 SCRA 114 (2006), an action for forcible entry and detainer may be maintained only against one in possession at the commencement of the action, and not against one who does not in fact hold the land. Injunctions; Requisites; It must be stressed that injunction is not designed to protect contingent or future rights, and as such, the possibility of irreparable damage without proof of actual existing right is no ground for an injunction- a clear and positive right especially

calling for judicial protection must be established. An injunctive writ may be issued when the following requisites are established: 1. The invasion of the right is material and substantial; 2. The right of complainant is clear and unmistakable; 3. There is an urgent and permanent necessity for the writ to prevent serious damage. It must be stressed that injunction, is not designed to protect contingent or future rights, and as such, the possibility of irreparable damage without proof of actual existing right is no ground for an injunction. A clear and positive right especially calling for judicial protection must be established. Same; There is no power the exercise of which is more delicate, which requires greater caution, deliberation and sound discretion, or more dangerous in a doubtful case, that the issuance of an injunction; Every court should remember that an injunction is a limitation upon the freedom of action of the defendant and should not be granted lightly or precipitately. The Court would like to emphasize the pronouncement made in the cases of Almeida vs. Court of Appeals, 448SCRA 681 (2005), and Gov. Garcia v. Hon. Burgos, 291 SCRA 546 (1998): There is no power the exercise of which is more delicate, which requires greater caution, deliberation and sound discretion or more dangerous in a doubtful case, than the issuance of an injunction. It is the strong arm of equity that should never be extended unless to cases of great injury, where courts of law cannot afford an adequate or commensurate remedy in damages. Every court should remember that an injunction is a limitation upon the freedom of action of the defendant and should not be granted lightly or precipitately. It should be granted only when the court is fully satisfied that the law permits it and the emergency demands its.

G.R. Nos. 149158-59 July 24, 2007 KIMBERLY INDEPENDENT LABOR UNION FOR SOLIDARITY, ACTIVISM AND NATIONALISM (KILUSAN) ORGANIZED LABOR ASSOCIATIONS IN LINE INDUSTRIES AND AGRICULTURE (OLALIA), petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, respondent.

Remedial Law, Pleadings and Practice; Verifications; Verification is a formal no a jurisdictional requisite; Court may order the correction of the pleading, if not verified, or act on the unverified pleading if the attending circumstances are such that strict compliance with the rule may be dispensed with in order that the ends of justice may be served. We have emphasized, time and again, that verification is a formal, not a jurisdictional requisite, as it is mainly intended to secure an assurance that the allegations therein made are done in good faith or are true and correct and not merely speculation. The Court may order the correction of the pleading, if not verified, or act on the unverified pleading if the attending circumstances are such that a strict compliance with the rule may be dispensed with in order that the ends of justice may be served. Same; Same; Certification against Forum Shopping; Court took cognizance in Cavile vs. Heirs of Cavile, 400 SCRA 255 (2003), of a petition although its certification was executed and signed by only one of several petitioners. With regard to the certification against forum shopping, suffice it to state that in Cavile vs. Heirs of Cavile, 400 SCRA 255 (2003), we took cognizance of a petition although its certification was executed and signed by only one of several petitioners, thus: The rule is that the certification of non-forum shopping must be signed by all petitioners and plaintiffs in a case and the signing by only one of them is insufficient. However, the Court has also stressed that the rules on forum shopping, which were designed to promote and facilitate the orderly administration of justice, should not be interpreted with such absolute literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate

objective. The rule of substantial compliance may be availed of with respect to the contents of the certification. This is because the requirements of strict compliance with the provisions regarding the certification of non-forum shopping merely underscores its mandatory nature in that the certification cannot be altogether dispensed with or its requirements completely disregarded. It does not thereby interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under justifiable circumstances. Same; Civil Procedure; The rules of procedure shall be liberally construed in order to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy, and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding. On the legibility of the attached pleadings, particularly the complaint and the amended complaint, we find that the same may be excused given the antiquity of the said documents. Nevertheless, a perusal of the records reveals that the said pleadings are legible enough. Again, the rules of procedure shall be liberally construed in order to promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding. Same; Same; Litigants should have the amplest opportunity for a proper and just disposition of their cause free, as much as possible, from the constraints of procedural technicalities. While the right to appeal is a statutory and not a natural right, it is nonetheless an essential part of our judicial system. Courts are, therefore, advised to proceed with caution, so as not to deprive a party of the right to appeal. Litigants should have the amplest opportunity for a proper and just disposition of their cause free, as much as possible, from the constraints of procedural technicalities.

G.R. No. 161304 July 27, 2007 SPOUSES ARTURO CONDES and NORA CONDES, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and DR. PACIFICO A. DISTURA, respondents.

Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Pleadings and Practice; The initial of hat pleadings, documents or orders are relevant and pertinent to the petition rests on the petitioner. The rule does not specify the precise documents, pleadings or parts of the records that should be appended to the petition other that the judgment, final order, or the resolution being assailed. These documents and pleadings are generally the ones needed by the reviewing courts to decide whether to give due course to the petition. (Barcenas vs. Tomas 454 SCRA 593 (2005)) The initial determination of what pleadings, documents or orders relevant and pertinent to the petition rests on the petitioner. (Garcia vs. Philippine Airlines, Inc. 459 SCRA 768,780 (2005)) Thereafter, the CA will review the petition and determine whether additional pleadings, documents or orders should have been attached thereto. Same; Same; Same; Acceptance of a petition for certiorari, as well as the granting of due course thereto is addressed to the sound discretion of the court. The appellate court found the present petition sufficient in form when it proceeded to decide the case on the merits, without raising any question as to the sufficiency of the petition. Acceptance of the petition for certiorari, as well as the granting due course thereto is addressed to the sound discretion of the court. Where it does not appear, as in this case, that in giving due course to the petition for certiorari, the CA committed any error that prejudiced the substantial rights of the parties, there is no reason to disturb its determination that the copies of the pleadings and documents attached to the petition were sufficient to make out a prima facie case. Same; Same; Same; Though interlocutory in character, an order denying a demurrer to evidence may be the subject of a certiorari proceeding, provided the petitioner could show that it was issued with grave abuse of discretion and that appeal in due course is not plain, adequate or speedy under the circumstances. Interlocutory orders are neither appealable

nor subject to certiorari proceedings. Though interlocutory in character, an order denying a demurrer to evidence may be the subject of a certiorari proceeding, provided the petitioner can show that it was issued in grave abuse of discretion; and the appeal undue course is not the plain, adequate, speedy under the circumstances. It must be stressed that a writ of certiorari may be issued only for the correction of errors of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, not errors of judgment. Where the issue or question involves or affects the wisdom or legal soundness of the decision- not the jurisdiction of the court- the same is beyond the province a petition for certiorari. Demurrer to Evidence; A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of evidence and is filed after the plaintiff rests his case . It is clear from these arguments that the petitioners misunderstood the essence of demurrer to evidence and meaning of preponderance of evidence. A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of evidence and is filed after the plaintiff rests his case. It is an objection of one of the parties of an action, to the effect that the evidence which his adversary produced, is insufficient in point of law, whether true or not, to make out a case or sustain the issue. The question in a demurrer to evidence is whether the plaintiff, by his evidence in chief, has been able to establish a prima facie case. Same; The purpose of a demurrer to evidence is precisely to expeditiously terminate the case without the need of the defendants evidence. In Civil cases, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to establish his case by preponderance of evidence. Preponderance of evidence means evidence which is of greater weight, or more convincing than that which is offered in opposition to it. It is, therefore, premature to speak of preponderance of evidence in a demurrer to evidence because it is filed before the defendant presents his evidence. The purpose of a demurrer to evidence is precisely to expeditiously terminate the case without the need of the defendants evidence. It authorizes a judgment on the merits of the case without the defendant having to submit evidence on his part as he would ordinarily have to do, if it shown by the plaintiffs evidence that the latter is not entitled to the relief sought. Some Guidelines on When a Demurrer to Evidence Should be Granted. After a careful review of the petitioners evidence, we find that the CA erred in dismissing the petitioners complaint. The Court has recently establishes some guidelines on hen a demurrer to evidence should be granted, thus: A demurrer to evidence may be issued when, upon the facts and the law the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. Where the plaintiffs evidence together with such inferences and conclusions as may reasonably be drawn therefrom does not warrant recovery against the defendant, a demurrer to evidence should be sustained. A demurrer to evidence is likewise sustainable when, admitting every proven fact favorable to the plaintiff and indulging in his favor all conclusions fairly and reasonably inferable therefrom, the plaintiff has failed to make out one or more of the material elements of his case, or when there is no evidence to support an allegation necessary to his claim. It should be sustained here the plaintiffs evidence is prima facie insufficient for a recovery.

G.R. No. 153914 July 31, 2007 FELIPE REGIS, JR., petitioner, vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS and AGAPITO GARCIA, respondents.

Certiorari; The special civil action for certiorari cannot be availed of even if it is based upon lack of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion when remedy of appeal is available. At the outset, we reiterate that the special civil action for certiorari cannot be availed of even if it is

based upon lack of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion when the remedy of appeal is available. Certiorari is proper only if there is no appeal, or when there is no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Regis cannot invoke the extraordinary writ of certiorari as a substitute for the lost remedy of appeal. Ejectment; Forcible Entry; A complaint for forcible entry may be brought within a year from unlawful dispossession before a municipal trial court in a summary proceeding; The judgment rendered shall be conclusive with respect to possession only, shall not bind the title or affect the ownership of the property and shall not bar an action between the same parties respecting title to the land or building. A complaint for forcible entry may be brought within a year from unlawful dispossession before a municipal trial court in a summary proceeding. This summary action is for the recovery of physical possession only. Title or ownership over the property is not in issue. However, when the defendant raises the defense of ownership in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved without deciding the same, then the issue of ownership shall be resolved in order to decide the issue of possession. The judgment rendered shall be conclusive with respect to possession only, shall not bind the title or affect the ownership of the property, and shall not bar an action between the same parties respecting title to the land or building. Same; Same; In an action for forcible entry, whether or not the person occupying the property has the right to occupy the same is not important. In an action for forcible entry, whether or not the person occupying the property has the right to occupy the same is not important. What is essential is that the party filing the case be able to prove that his peaceful physical possession of the property was arbitrarily intruded by another. The rationale for this remedy is that a person who is in peaceful possession of property must not be ejected therefrom by force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth. A person who believes that he has a right of possession over a certain property that is in the hands of another must not take the law into his own hands. He cannot just barge in and take the property that is actually occupied by another. Same; Same; Accion Reivindicatoria; Recovery of ownership which includes the right to possession over real property can be commenced through an accion reivindicatoria; Action is filed in the RTC. A year after the unlawful dispossession of property, the aggrieved party may file an accion publiciana. The better right to possession, as distinguished form the right to physical possession, is litigated in this plenary action as an ordinary civil proceeding in the RTC. Recovery of ownership, which includes the right to possession over real property, can be commenced through an accion reivindicatoria. The action is filed in the RTC. Same; Same; Accion Publiciana; Forcible Entry Distinguished from Accion Publiciana . On the issue of whether or not an action for forcible entry can be treated as accion publiciana, we rule in the negative. Forcible entry is distinct from accion publiciana. First, forcible entry should be filed within one year from the unlawful dispossession of the real property, while accion publiciana is filed a year after the unlawful dispossession of the real property. Second, forcible entry is concerned with the issue of the right to the physical possession of the real property; in accion publiciana, what is subject of litigation is the better right to possession over the real property. Third, an action for forcible entry is filed in the municipal trial court and is a summary action, while accion publiciana is a plenary action in the RTC.

G.R. No. 153059 August 14, 2007 PEPSICO, INC., doing business under the name and style PEPSICO RESTAURANTS INTERNATIONAL, petitioner, vs. EMERALD PIZZA, INC., respondent.

Actions; Parties; Interest; Words and phrases; Interest within the meaning of the rule means material interest, an interest in issue and to be affected by the decree as distinguished from mere interest in the question involved or a mere incidental interest. Under the Rules of Civil Procedure, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest, the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Interest within the meaning of the rule means material interest, an interest in issue and to be affected by the decree, as distinguished from mere interest in the question involved, or a mere incidental interest. Same; Same; Since a contract may be violated only by the parties thereto as against each other, in an action upon that contract, the real parties-in-interest, either as plaintiff or as defendant, must be parties to the said contract. The purpose of the rule is to protect parties against undue and unnecessary litigation and to ensure that the court will have the benefit of having before it the real adverse parties in the consideration of the case. This rule, however, is not to be narrowly and restrictively construed. And its application should be neither dogmatic nor rigid at all times but viewed in consonance with extant realities and practicalities. Since a contract may be violated only by the parties thereto as against each other, in an action upon that contract, the real parties-in-interest, either as plaintiff or as defendant, must be parties to the said contract. Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Indispensable Parties; An indispensable party is a party-ininterest without whom no final determination can be had of an action and who shall be joined either as plaintiff or defendant; The absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actions of the court null and void for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties but even as to those present. Notably, however, while PepsiCo was properly impleaded as a party defendant, Pizza Hut, an indispensable party, was not. An indispensable party is a party-in-interest without whom no final determination can be had of an action, and who shall be joined either as plaintiff or defendant. The joinder of indispensable parties is mandatory. Their presence is necessary to vest the court with jurisdiction, which is the authority to hear and determine a cause, the right to act in a case. Thus, without their presence to a suit or proceeding, judgment of a court cannot attain real finality. The absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actions of the court null and void for want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties but even as to those present. Same; Same; Same; The non-joinder of indispensable parties is not a ground for the dismissal of an action and the remedy is to implead the non-party claimed to be indispensable. The non-joinder of indispensable parties is not a ground for the dismissal of an action, and the remedy is to implead the non-party claimed to be indispensable. Parties may be added by order of the court on motion of the party or on its own initiative at any stage of the action and/or at such times as are just. If the petitioner refuses to implead an indispensable party despite the order of the court, the latter may dismiss the complaint/petition for the plaintiff/petitioners failure to comply therewith.

G.R. No. 150089 August 28, 2007 ERLINDA B. DANDOY, represented by her Attorney-in-Fact, REY ANTHONY M. NARIA, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. THELMA A. PONFERRADA, in her capacity as the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 104, and NERISSA LOPEZ, respondents.

Civil Procedure; Pleadings and Practice; Demurrer to Evidence; Demurrer is an aid of instrument for the expeditious termination of an action, similar to a motion to dismiss, which

the court or tribunal may either grant or deny. Demurrer to evidence authorizes a judgment on the merits of the case without the defendant having to submit evidence on his part as he would ordinarily have to do, if plaintiffs evidence shows that he is not entitled to the relief sought. Demurrer, therefore, is an aid or instrument for the expeditious termination of an action, similar to a motion to dismiss, which the court or tribunal may either grant or deny. Same; Same; Same; Where the totality of plaintiffs evidence, together with such inferences and conclusions as may reasonably be drawn therefrom, does not warrant recovery against the defendant, a demurrer to evidence should be sustained. A demurrer to evidence may be issued when, upon the facts adduced and the applicable law, the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. Where the totality of plaintiffs evidence, together with such inferences and conclusions as may reasonably be drawn therefrom, does not warrant recovery against the defendant, a demurrer to evidence should be sustained. A demurrer to evidence is likewise sustainable when, admitting every proven fact favorable to the plaintiff and indulging in his favor all conclusions fairly and reasonably inferable therefrom, the plaintiff has failed to make out one or more o the material elements of his case, or when there is no evidence to support an allegation necessary to his claim. It should be sustained where the plaintiffs evidence is prima facie insufficient for a recovery. Same; Same; Same; A liberal interpretation of the requirement of specificity of rulings may be given to an order dismissing a demurrer to evidence which has been consistently characterized by the Court as interlocutory. The requirement of specificity of rulings discussed above is stringently applied only to judgments and final orders. A liberal interpretation of this requirement, on the other hand, may be given to an order dismissing a demurrer to evidence which has been consistently characterized by this Court as interlocutory. The assailed Orders neither terminated nor finally disposed of the case as they still left something to be done by the court before the case is finally decided on the merits. G.R. No. 167022 August 31, 2007 LICOMCEN INCORPORATED, petitioner, vs. FOUNDATION SPECIALISTS, INC. respondent.

Jurisdiction, Definition; Distinction. The power and authority of a court to hear, try, and decide a case is defined as jurisdiction. Elementary is the distinction between jurisdiction over the subject matter and jurisdiction over the person. The former is conferred by the Constitution or by law, while the latter is acquired by virtue of the party's voluntary submission to the authority of the court through the exercise of its coercive process. Construction Industry Arbitration Law; Jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of the CIAC may include but is not limited to violation of specifications for materials and workmanship; violation of the terms of agreement; interpretation and/or application of contractual provisions; amount of damages and penalties; commencement time and delays; maintenance and defects; payment default of employer or contractor and changes in contract cost. Excluded from the coverage of this law are disputes arising from employer-employee relationships which shall continue to be covered by the Labor Code of the Philippines. Same; Same. The active involvement of a party in the proceedings is tantamount to an invocation of, or at least an acquiescence to the court's jurisdiction. Such participation indicates a willingness to abide by the resolution of the case, and will bar said party from later on impugning the court or body's jurisdiction. The Court will not countenance the effort of any party to subvert or defeat the objective of voluntary arbitration for its own private motives. After submitting itself to arbitration proceedings and actively participating therein, Petitioner is estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the CIAC, merely because the latter rendered an adverse decision.

Civil Law; Laches; Essence. The essence of laches is the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, through due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, thus giving rise to a presumption that the party entitled to assert it had either abandoned or declined to assert it. Same; Same. The doctrine of laches is based upon grounds of public policy which require, for the peace of society, discouraging stale claims. It is principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be enforced or asserted. There is no absolute rule as to what constitutes laches; each case is to be determined according to its particular circumstances. The question of laches is addressed to the sound discretion of the court, and since it is an equitable doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable considerations. It cannot be worked to defeat justice or to perpetrate fraud and injustice. Evidence, Admissibility of evidence and its probative value, distinction, Just because a piece of evidence is not objected to does not ipso facto mean that it conclusively proves the fact in dispute. The admissibility of evidence should not be confused with its probative value. Admissibility refers to the question of whether certain pieces of evidence are to be considered at all, while probative value refers to the question of whether the admitted evidence proves an issue. Thus, a particular item of evidence may be admissible, but its evidentiary weight depends on judicial evaluation within the guidelines provided by the rules of evidence. Remedial Law; Procedure in the Court of Appeals, Motion for Reconsideration, Ortigas and Company Limited Partnership v. Velasco. The filing of a motion for reconsideration, authorized by Rule 52 of the Rules of Court, does not impose on the Court the obligation to deal individually and specifically with the grounds relied upon therefor, in much the same way that the Court does in its judgment or final order as regards the issues raised and submitted for decision. This would be a useless formality or ritual invariably involving merely a reiteration of the reasons already set forth in the judgment or final order for rejecting the arguments advanced by the movant; and it would be a needless act, too, with respect to issues raised for the first time, these being, x x x deemed waived because not asserted at the first opportunity. It suffices for the Court to deal generally and summarily with the motion for reconsideration, and merely state a legal ground for its denial (Sec. 14, Art. VIII, Constitution); i.e., the motion contains merely a reiteration or rehash of arguments already submitted to and pronounced without merit by the Court in its judgment, or the basic issues have already been passed upon, or the motion discloses no substantial argument or cogent reason to warrant reconsideration or modification of the judgment or final order; or the arguments in the motion are too unsubstantial to require consideration, etc.

G.R. No. 146212 September 5, 2007 FRED N. BELLO, petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, CORPUZ MOYA SECURITY AND SERVICES, INC. and/or REMEDIOS MOYA, respondents.

Remedial Law; Appeal. The right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a part of due process. The perfection of an appeal within the period and in the manner prescribed by law is mandatory; noncompliance with this legal requirement is fatal and has the effect of making the judgment final and executory. Same; Same; Notice. PNOC Dockyard and Engineering Corporation vs. NLRC, "in labor cases, both the party and its counsel must be duly served their separate copies of the order, decision or resolution; unlike in ordinary judicial proceedings where notice to counsel is deemed notice to the party." Reference was made therein to Article 224 of the Labor Code. But, Article 224 of the Labor Code does not govern the procedure for filing a petition for

certiorari with the Court of Appeals from the decision of the NLRC but rather, it refers to the execution of "final decisions, orders or awards" and requires the sheriff or a duly deputized officer to furnish both the parties and their counsel with copies of the decision or award for that purpose. There is no reference, express or implied, to the period to appeal or to file a petition for certiorari as indeed the caption is "execution of decisions, orders or awards." The period or manner of "appeal" from the NLRC to the Court of Appeals is governed by Rule 65 pursuant to the ruling of the Court in the case of St. Martin Funeral Homes vs. NLRC. Section 4 of Rule 65, as amended, states that the "petition may be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, or resolution sought to be assailed." Same; Same; Dismissal of Appeal As much as possible, appeals should not be dismissed on a mere technicality in order to afford the litigants the maximum opportunity for the adjudication of their cases on the merits. However, the failure to perfect an appeal is not a mere technicality as it raises a jurisdictional problem which deprives the appellate court of jurisdiction over the appeal. After a decision is declared final and executory, vested rights are acquired by the winning party. Just as a losing party has the right to appeal within the prescribed period, the winning party has the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the decision in the case.

G.R. No. 166547 September 12, 2007 UMBRA M. TOMAWIS, petitioner, vs. ATTY. NORA M. TABAO-CAUDANG, respondent.

Actions; Judgments; Writs of Execution; Postal Service; Service by Registered Mail; The rule on service by registered mail contemplates two situations: (1) actual service, the completeness of which is determined upon receipt by the addressee of the registered mail; and (2) constructive service, which is deemed complete upon expiration of five (5) days from the date the addressee received the first notice from the postmaster. The rule on service by registered mail contemplates two situations: (1) actual service, the completeness of which is determined upon receipt by the addressee of the registered mail; and (2) constructive service, which is deemed complete upon expiration of five (5) days from the date the addressee received the first notice from the postmaster. Same; Same; Same; Same; there is constructive service by registered mail only if there is conclusive proof that a first notice was duly sent by the postmaster to the addressee and that such first notice had been delivered to and received by the addressee; Before a writ of execution may issue, there must necessarily be a final judgment or order that disposes of the action or proceeding. There is constructive service by registered mail only if there is conclusive proof that a first notice was duly sent by the postmaster to the addressee and that such first notice had been delivered to and received by the addressee. The best evidence to prove that notice was sent would be a certification from the postmaster to the effect that not only was notice issued or sent but also on how, when and to whom the delivery was made. The mailman may also testify that the notice was actually delivered. In the instant case, there was no sufficient proof that the respondent actually received a copy of the December 15 resolution. Neither was there proof that a first notice was indeed received by her. As such, the rule on constructive notice cannot apply. Accordingly, since the respondent was not served a copy of the resolution, the decision could never attain finality. Consequently, there can be no valid basis for the issuance of the writ of execution. Before a writ of execution may issue, there must necessarily be a final judgment or order that disposes of the action or proceeding. The writ of execution is the means by which a party can enforce a final judgment or order of the court. Absent a final judgment or order, there is nothing to enforce or execute; thus, there can be no valid writ of execution.

Same; Same; Same; Procedural Rules and Technicalities; Be it remembered that in the performance of their duties, courts should not be shackled by stringent rules which would result in manifest injustice; Indeed, when a case is impressed with public interest, we should relax the application of the rules. Be it remembered that in the performance of their duties, courts should not be shackled by stringent rules which would result in manifest injustice. Rules of procedure are mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application, if they result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must be avoided. Substantive rights must not be prejudiced by a rigid and technical application of the rules. Indeed, when a case is impressed with public interest, we should relax the application of the rules. Administrative Law; Public Officers; It is a basic rule that title to public office should not be subjected to continued uncertainty. The RTC judge, who should have been resolute, proved to be indecisive. First, he ordered Hashim and Caudang to cease and desist from enforcing Office Order No. 0079 and from occupying the position of Regional Director, respectively; then, in his clarificatory order, he declared that his decision did not include the reinstatement of Tomawis to the position. This vacillating attitude only served to create a hiatus in public service, totally repugnant to the basic rule that title to public office should not be subjected to continued uncertainty. In addition, as observed by the CA, the RTC judge remained deafeningly silent on the alleged January 7 Order, neither confirming nor denying issuance of the same. Actions; Injunction; Courts. Appeals; The appellate court could not have simply turned a blind eye to the obvious blunder committed by the trial court in issuing the injunctive writ To overlook such a manifest mistake would have been inconsistent with substantial justice, and would have allowed a party to unjustly benefit from a mistake or inadvertence of the trial court; The Rules reserve to the appellate court the right, resting in public duty, to take cognizance of palpable error on the face of the record and proceedings, especially such as clearly demonstrate that the suitor has no cause of action.- the appellate court could not have simply turned a blind eye to the obvious blunder committed by the trial court in issuing the injunctive writ. To overlook such a manifest mistake would have been inconsistent with substantial justice, and would have allowed a party to unjustly benefit from a mistake or inadvertence of the trial court. Thus, the Rules reserve to the appellate court the right, resting in public duty, to take cognizance of palpable error on the face of the record and proceedings, especially such as clearly demonstrate that the suitor has no cause of action. The rule does not intend for the (appellate) court to sift the record and deal with questions which are of small importance, but only to notice errors which are obvious upon inspection and are of a controlling character. The underlying purpose of this reservation in the rule is to prevent the miscarriage of justice resulting from oversight. Same; Same; Requisites; Words and Phrases; Injunction is a judicial writ, process or proceeding whereby a party is ordered to do or refrain from doing a certain act; Injunction may be the main action or merely a provisional remedy for and as an incident in the main action; A "clear legal right" means one clearly founded on or granted by law or is enforceable as a matter of law. Even if the initiatory pleading filed by Tomawis before the RTC is truly a special civil action for injunction and prohibition, our conclusion remains, he still had no clear legal right to institute the same. Injunction is a judicial writ, process or proceeding whereby a party is ordered to do or refrain from doing a certain act. It may be the main action or merely a provisional remedy for and as an incident in the main action. As a rule, to justify the injunctive relief prayed for, the movant must show: (1) the existence of a right in esse or the existence of a right to be protected; and (2) that the act against which injunction is to be directed is a violation of such right. A "clear legal right" means one clearly founded on or granted by law or is enforceable as a matter of law. The onus probandi is on movant to show that there exists a right to be protected, which is directly threatened by the acts sought to be enjoined. Further, there must be a showing that the invasion of the right is

material and substantial and that there is an urgent and paramount necessity for the writ to prevent a serious damage. Same; Pleadings and Practice; Forum Shopping; There is forum shopping where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other; There is no forum shopping where the issue in the present case is based on a different set of facts from that of the earlier one. We cannot sustain petitioner's claim that respondent is guilty of multiple forum shopping. There is forum shopping where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other. True, respondent had previously instituted quo warranto proceedings involving the same contested position, and her petitions had been dismissed with finality by this Court. We, however, find that the issue in the instant case is based on a different set of facts. This case was initiated by no less than the petitioner himself through a petition for injunction before the RTC in order to enjoin the enforcement of Office Order No. 0079 which recognized the new appointment of the respondent thereby terminating his (petitioner's) temporary appointment. The previous quo warranto actions instituted by the respondent were based on her appointment on September 1, 1987. On the other hand, the present action is based on her appointment on March 8, 2002. Although the issues in all of the cases brought to this Court involve the rightful occupant of the contested position, the fact remains that the "appointments" are distinct from one another.

G.R. No. 168779 September 14, 2007 DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. RUBEN S. GO and ANGELITA M. GO, and the HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Appeals; Under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, a petition for review shall raise only questions of law which must be distinctly set forth; For a question to be one of law, it must involve no examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants or any of them. The petition is captioned as a petition for review. Under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, a petition for review shall raise only questions of law which must be distinctly set forth. A question of law exists when there is doubt or controversy as to what the law is on a certain state of facts. On the other hand, there is a question of fact when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or the falsehood of the alleged facts. For a question to be one of law, it must involve no examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants or any of them. Same; Same; Same; In determining the nature of an action it is not the caption but the averments of the petition and the character of the relief sought that are controlling. This issue that petitioner raises before this Court is not a question of law. Petitioner imputes grave abuse of discretion to the CA for its alleged omission in its Decision. In determining the nature of an action, it is not the caption but the averments of the petition and the character of the relief sought that are controlling. Considering that petitioner charges the CA with acting in grave abuse of discretion, the petition should properly be treated as a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Same; Same; Same; Certiorari; It is well-settled that an act of a court or tribunal may only be considered to have been done in grave abuse of discretion when the same was performed in a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. However, even if, in the interest of justice, we treat this as a special civil action for certiorari

under Rule 65, the petition nevertheless fails to convince us that the CA committed grave abuse of discretion. It is well-settled that an act of a court or tribunal may only be considered to have been done in grave abuse of discretion when the same was performed in a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility. Same; Same; Same; Same; Certiorari will issue only to correct errors of jurisdiction not errors of procedure or mistakes in the findings or conclusions of the lower court. An error of judgment committed in the exercise of its legitimate jurisdiction is not the same as grave abuse of discretion. An abuse of discretion is not sufficient by itself to justify the issuance of a writ of certiorari. The abuse must be grave and patent, and it must be shown that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily and despotically. In fine, certiorari will issue only to correct errors of jurisdiction, not errors of procedure or mistakes in the findings or conclusions of the lower court. Same; Judgments; Execution; Since the execution must conform to that which is ordained or decreed in the dispositive portion of the decision, the subject dispositive portion must provide the proper order for execution of the judgment. We find that, either by mistake or inadvertence, the CA Decision failed to include the obligation to pay the insurance premiums and other charges in the dispositive portion of the assailed Decision. The CA held in paragraph 3 of the dispositive portion that the insurance premium and other charges were valid and legal but failed to give the corresponding executory force to that pronouncement. The dispositive portion, or the fallo, is its decisive resolution and is thus the subject of execution.1[25] Since the execution must conform to that which is ordained or decreed in the dispositive portion of the decision, the subject dispositive portion must provide the proper order for execution of the judgment. As we have held in the past, a judgment, if left unexecuted, would be nothing but an empty victory for the prevailing party. Hence, this Court must rectify the error.

G.R. No. 148846 September 25, 2007 CECILIA AMODIA VDA. DE MELENCION, VENERANDA AMODIA, FELIPE AMODIA, EUTIQUIO AMODIA and GO KIM CHUAN, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and AZNAR BROTHERS REALTY COMPANY, respondents.

Actions; Pleadings and Practice; Verifications; Certification of Non-Forum Shopping; Commonality of Interest; Exception; Commonality of interest is material and crucial to relaxation of the Rules; The rules may be reasonably and liberally construed to avoid a patent denial of substantial justice, because it cannot be denied, that the ends of justice are better served when cases are determined on the merits-after all parties are given full opportunity to ventilate their causes and defenses-rather than on technicality or some procedural imperfections. We held in Iglesia ni Cristo, 505 SCRA 828 (2006), that the commonality of interest is material and crucial to relaxation of the Rules. In the case at bench, the petitioners in the Amended Petition are Heirs of the late Go Kim Chuan. They represent their predecessor-in-interest in whose favor a title was issued covering the subject property and said title is sought to be canceled by AZNAR. Clearly, there is presence of the commonality of interest referred to in Iglesia ni Cristo. Under the circumstance, the rules may be reasonably and liberally construed to avoid a patent denial of substantial justice, because it cannot be denied that the ends of justice are better served when cases are

determined on the merits-after all parties are given full opportunity to ventilate their causes and defenses-rather than on technicality or some procedural imperfections. Forgery; Evidence; Handwriting Experts; Handwriting experts are usually helpful in the examination of forged documents because of the technical procedure involved in analyzing them; A finding of forgery does not depend entirely on the testimonies of handwriting experts, because the judge must conduct an independent examination of the questioned signature in order to arrive at a reasonable conclusion as to its authenticity. Forgery cannot be presumed. It must be proved by clear, positive and convincing evidence and the burden of proof rests on the party alleging forgery. Handwriting experts are usually helpful in the examination of forged documents because of the technical procedure involved in analyzing them. But resort to these experts is not mandatory or indispensable. A finding of forgery does not depend entirely on the testimonies of handwriting experts, because the judge must conduct an independent examination of the questioned signature in order to arrive at a reasonable conclusion as to its authenticity. Same; Same; Same; Where the trial courts finding of forgery relies wholly on the testimony of the document examine, the same falls short of the required independent examination to be conducted by the trial court judge. While it is true that the original document was produced before the RTC, the finding of forgery relies wholly on the testimony of the document examiner. It falls short of the required independent examination to be conducted by the trial court judge. Other than the statement of the document examiner, the RTC decision contains no other basis to support its conclusion of the existence of forgery. Accordingly, the CA was correct in rejecting the RTCs finding and in applying the doctrine laid down in the case of Heirs of Severa Gregorio v. CA, 300 SCRA 565 (1998).

G.R. No. 175338 October 9, 2007 AIR MATERIEL WING SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION, INC., petitioners, vs. COL. LUVIN S. MANAY, PNP (Ret.); COL. ANTONIO MANTUANO, PAF (Ret.); COL. ANSELMO R. GERONIMO, PAF (Ret.); MAJ. JOSE A. ELAURZA, PAF (Ret.); LT. JOHNSON NESTOR OCFEMIA, PAF (Ret.); and HON. JESUS B. MUPAS, PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASAY CITY, BRANCH 117, respondents.

Actions; Judgments; Writs of Execution; Well-settled is the rule that there can be no execution until and unless the judgment has become final and executory, i.e., the period of appeal has lapsed without an appeal having been taken or, having been taken, the appeal has been resolved and the records of the case have been returned to the court of origin, in which event, execution shall issue as a matter of right. It may be noted that the resignations of the previous occupants of the contested positions were accepted by the Board in its Resolution No. 2005-353 dated September 7, 2005. However, in accordance with the said Board Resolution, the effective date of the resignations was not September 14, 2005 as set forth in their resignation letters, nor September 7, which is the date of the acceptance of the resignation, but upon the election and proclamation of the winners in the election. Considering that the election was invalidated by the CA, A new election is yet to be conducted. Following the terms of the board resolution, respondents would have the right to continue occupying the contested positions until the fulfillment of the suspensive condition which is the valid election and proclamation of the winning members of the Board of Trustees. But the order of reinstatement was prematurely issued by the RTC. It was, in fact, an implementation of the CA decision, which at that time was not yet final and executory because of the timely appeal before this Court. Well settled is the rule that there can be no execution until and unless the judgment has become final and executory, i.e., the period of

appeal has lapsed without an appeal having been taken or, having been taken, the appeal has been resolved and the records of the case have been returned to the court of origin, in which event, execution shall issue as a matter of right. True, there are exceptions to the above rule such as an execution pending appeal and decisions which are immediately executory notwithstanding the pendency of an appeal. The instant case, however, does not fall under any of the exceptions. Same; Injunctions; Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs); Section 5, Rule 58 of the Rules of court grants the Executive Judge (of a multiple-sala court) the authority to issue ex parte a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) effective for only 72-hours. The Executive Judge of the RTC of Pasay is not precluded by the Interim Rules from issuing the 72-hour TRO. Section 1, Rule 10 thereof explicitly allows a party to apply for any available provisional remedy provided in the Rules of Court. And Section 5, Rule 58 of the Rules of Court grants the Executive Judge (of a multiple-sala court) the authority to issue ex parte a TRO effective for only 72-hours. The proscription on the issuance of a TRO without a hearing was never intended to bar the court absolutely from exercising its power to issue the same when the court deems it imperative. In any event, the requirement for the conduct of a hearing was satisfied when a summary hearing was immediately scheduled and held at the Pasay RTC, Branch 117 to which the case was raffled. Same; Same; Same; The grant or denial of a writ of preliminary injunction (or restraining order) rests in the sound discretion of the court since the assessment and evaluation of evidence towards that end involve findings of facts left to the said court for its conclusive determination. The other issues raised, i.e., whether or not the case was exceptional and whether or not the respondents posted a bond, are factual in nature. Suffice it to state that an inquiry into these issues necessitates a review of factual and evidentiary matters which is proscribed in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules. Indubitably, this Court has stressed that the grant or denial of a writ of preliminary injunction (or restraining order) rests in the sound discretion of the court since the assessment and evaluation of evidence towards that end involve findings of facts left to the said court for its conclusive determination. Hence, the exercise of judicial discretion by a court in injunctive matters must not be interfered with. Summons; The failure to comply faithfully, strictly and fully with the requirements for substituted service of summons renders the service of summons ineffective. Personal service of summons is preferred over substituted service. Only if the former cannot be made promptly may the process server resort to the latter. Moreover, the proof of service of summons must (a) indicate the impossibility of service of summons within a reasonable time; (b) specify the efforts exerted to locate the defendant; and (c) state that the summons was served upon a person of sufficient age and discretion who is residing in the address, or who is in charge of the office or regular place of business, of the defendant. It is likewise required that the pertinent facts proving these circumstances be stated in the proof of service or in the officers return. The failure to comply faithfully, strictly and fully with all the foregoing requirements of substituted service renders the service of summons ineffective. These requirements are necessary because substituted service is in derogation of the usual method of service. It is a method extraordinary in character and may be used only as prescribed and in the circumstances authorized by statute. Injunctions; An injunction or restraining order must be obeyed while it remains in full force and effect until the injunction or restraining order has been set aside, vacated, or modified by the court which granted it, or until the order or decree awarding it has been reversed on appeal. The injunction must be obeyed irrespective of the ultimate validity of the order, and no matter how unreasonable and unjust the injunction may be in its terms. If the Court puts the stamp of validity on the substituted service made on the AMWSLAI officers, the same seal of legitimacy should be accorded to the substituted service made on the COMELEC members. Logic then dictates that the service of the 72-hour TRO was also valid and binding on all the parties. Perforce, at the time the election was conducted on October

14, 2005, there was a valid TRO and thus, the election was held in violation thereof. An injunction or restraining order must be obeyed while it remains in full force and effect until the injunction or restraining order has been set aside, vacated, or modified by the court which granted it, or until the order or decree awarding it has been reversed on appeal. The injunction must be obeyed irrespective of the ultimate validity of the order, and no matter how unreasonable and unjust the injunction may be in its terms. Same; Contempt; While there is no doubt that a person guilty of defying a court process may be held liable for contempt of court, contempt of court is not the solitary consequence of disobedience to a court order- the Court is not precluded from declaring as invalid the act committed in violation of its lawful order. Petitioners contend that violation of a TRO opens the parties to liability for contempt of court but does not give the court the authority to nullify the act done in defiance thereof. To bolster their claim, they cite the case of Velasco v. Court of Appeals, where the Court pronounced that any violation of the injunction or temporary restraining order which is in full force and effect constitutes contempt of court and is punishable as such, and the remedy of the aggrieved party is to institute contempt proceedings where the court in appropriate cases may punish the violator for the purpose of preserving and enforcing the rights of the persons for whose protection the injunction or restraining order was granted. There is no doubt that a person guilty of defying a court process may be held liable for contempt of court. But contempt of court is not the solitary consequence of disobedience to a court order. The Court cannot be restricted to this singular response to an insolent challenge to its dignity and authority. The Court is not precluded from declaring as invalid the act committed in violation of its lawful order. Same; Same; Transfers and contracts, or agreements in violation of injunction are invalid as to the complainant or those claiming under him and may be set aside except as against innocent third persons or when it appears on final hearing that there was no ground for granting injunction- there is no proscription to invalidating the act, but only with respect to the parties. As correctly claimed by the petitioners, we declared in the early case of Auyong Hian v. Court of Tax Appeals that a restraining order, like an injunction, operates upon a person. It is granted in the exercise of equity jurisdiction and has no in rem effect to invalidate an act done in contempt of an order of the court except where by statutory authorization, the decree is so framed as to act in rem on property. However, in the same case, we also held that the act is ordinarily valid and legally effective, except as to the person who obtained the injunction and those claiming under him, and as to them, the act is valid unless and until they attack it in a proper manner. Stated in another way, transfers and contracts, or agreements in violation of injunction are invalid as to the complainant or those claiming under him and may be set aside except as against innocent third persons or when it appears on final hearing that there was no ground for granting injunction. Clearly, there is no proscription to invalidating the act, but only with respect to the parties. The effect of invalidity shall in no way apply to persons who do not have notice of the existence and enforcement of the injunction/restraining order. Same; Same; An election held despite a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is invalid as to the respondents and may be set aside- it is not null and void but may be annulled. In the present case, the TRO was obtained by the respondents to restrain the conduct of the October 14 election. The election which was held nonetheless, despite the TRO, is, therefore, invalid as to the respondents and thus may be set aside. The respondents attacked the validity of the election in their petition for certiorari before the CA and they specifically prayed for its annulment. The Court is, thus, empowered to annul the election and the consequent assumption of office by the newly elected trustees. Contrary however to the conclusion of the CA as embodied in the dispositive portion of the assailed decision, the election, along with the results thereof, is not null and void. Rather, the same is, as it is hereby annulled.

G.R. No. 149909 October 11, 2007 TERESA, MARIA CHRISTINA, GENARO III, MARIA LUISA, CRISPIN JR., VINCENT and RASCHEL, all surnamed GABRIEL, petitioners, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, EMMA, CORAZON and RAMONA, all surnamed RONQUILLO, respondents.

Remedial Law; Actions; Forum Shopping; The Rules of Court provides that the plaintiff or the principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading the requirements as mandated under Section 5, Rule 7. On the first issue regarding the certification against forum shopping, the Rules of Court provides that the plaintiff or the principal party shall certify under oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading the requirements as mandated under Section 5, Rule 7. The said requirements are mandatory, and therefore, strict compliance thereof is necessary for the proper administration of justice. Same; Same; Same; Verification; Court has been consistent in stringently enforcing the requirement of verification 20 and certification of non-forum shopping. In numerous decisions, this Court has been consistent in stringently enforcing the requirement of verification 20 and certification of non-forum shopping. When there is more than one petitioner, a petition signed solely by one of them is defective, unless he was authorized by his co-parties to represent them and to sign the certification. The attestation contained in the certification of non-forum shopping requires personal knowledge by the party who executed the same. Same; Same; Same; Substantial compliance will not suffice in a matter involving strict observance; Downright disregard of the rules cannot justly be rationalized by harking on the policy of liberal construction. As aptly stated in Ortiz v. CA, 299 SCRA 708, substantial compliance will not suffice in a matter involving strict observance. The attestation contained in the certification of non-forum shopping requires personal knowledge by the party who executed the same. To deserve the Court's consideration, petitioners must show reasonable cause for failure to personally sign the certification. They must convince the Court that the outright dismissal of the petition would defeat the administration of justice. In this case, the petitioners did not give any explanation to warrant their exemption from the strict application of the rule. Downright disregard of the rules cannot justly be rationalized by harking on the policy of liberal construction. Pleadings and Practice; Service of Pleadings; the written explanation why another mode of service was resorted to is a mandatory and indispensable requirement in pleadings or papers filed before all the courts of the land. On the second issue, the written explanation why another mode of service was resorted to is a mandatory and indispensable requirement in pleadings or papers filed before all the courts of the land. Parties must exert their best to effect personal service. The Rules of Court 24 provides that personal service of petitions and other pleadings is the general rule, while a resort to other modes of service and filing is the exception. Strictest compliance with Section 11 of Rule 13 is mandated by the Court, and noncompliance therewith is a ground for the denial of the petition or the expulsion of the pleading from the records. Appeals; The right to appeal is merely a statutory privilege, and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law. Petitioners should bear in mind that the right to appeal is not a natural right or 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 the law. The party who seeks to avail of the remedy of appeal must comply with the requirements of the rules; otherwise, the appeal is lost. Rules of procedure are required to be followed, except only when, for the most persuasive of reasons, they may be relaxed to relieve the litigant of an injustice not commensurate with the degree of his thoughtlessness in not complying with the procedure prescribed.

Same; Alibis and Denials; Denial and alibi are the weakest of all defenses- they cannot prevail over the positive and unequivocal identification of the accused by the principal witnesses. Time and time again, this Court has ruled that denial and alibi are the weakest of all defenses, because they are easy to concoct and difficult to disprove. Furthermore, they cannot prevail over the positive and unequivocal identification of the accused by the principal witnesses. Absent any showing of ill motive on the part of the eyewitnesses testifying on the matter, a categorical, consistent and positive identification of the accused prevails over denial and alibi. Unless substantiated by clear and convincing proof, denial and alibi are negative, self-serving and undeserving of any weight in law. Same; Witnesses; The determination by the trial court of the credibility of witnesses is usually accorded by the appellate courts, since the trial court judge had the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses. This Court finds no cogent reason to deviate from the assessment made by the RTC, duly affirmed by the CA anent the credibility of the said prosecution witnesses who testified during the trial of this case. Michael and Angelo clearly pointed out their exact location and the surrounding circumstances when they observed the petitioner and the felonious taking. Upon the directive of the trial court judge, Angelo even described his location and the respective distances of the houses in the neighborhood by walking around the courtroom. 35 It bears stressing that full weight and respect to the determination by the trial court of the credibility of witnesses is usually accorded by the appellate courts, since the trial court judge had the opportunity to observe the demeanor of the witnesses. This Court is not a trier of facts and, as a rule, we do not weigh anew the evidence already passed upon by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Same; Same; Child Witness; A child witness could not be expected to give a precise response to every question posed to him; Inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses, when referring only to minor details and collateral matters, do not affect the substance of their declarations or the veracity or the weight of their testimonies. Michael and Angelo are child witnesses. A child witness could not be expected to give a precise response to every question posed to him. His failure to give an answer to the point of being free of any minor inconsistencies is understandable and does not make him a witness less worthy of belief. Inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses, when referring only to minor details and collateral matters, do not affect the substance of their declarations or the veracity or the weight of their testimonies. Although there may be inconsistencies on minor details, the same do not impair the credibility of the witnesses where there is consistency in relating the principal occurrence and positive identification of the accused. 40 To this Court, Michael and Angelo's testimonies are sufficiently and consistently credible as to establish that: (1) the crime of Theft was committed against the Lipaycos and (2) petitioner committed the said crime. Same; Flight; It is established in this jurisdiction that while flight indicates guilt, nonflight does not mean innocence.- We are not persuaded by petitioner's contention that the fact that he came back to the Lipaycos' house on January 1, 1997 shows that he is innocent of the offense charged. It is established in this jurisdiction that while flight indicates guilt, non-flight does not mean innocence. Much like the defenses of alibi and denial, non-flight cannot prevail against the weight of positive identification of the accused. Therefore, the Court finds no reason to overturn the judgment of conviction against the petitioner for the crime of Theft as the prosecution sufficiently proved his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

G.R. No. 170633 October 17, 2007 MCC INDUSTRIAL SALES CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. SSANGYONG CORPORATION, respondent.

Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 (RA 8792); Evidence; Rules on Electronic Evidence; Best Evidence Rule; Words and Phrases; to be admissible in evidence as an electronic data message or to be considered as the functional equivalent of an original document under the Best Evidence Rule, the writing must foremost be an "electronic data message" or an "electronic document. The ruling of the Appellate Court is incorrect. R.A. No. 8792, otherwise known as the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, considers an electronic data message or an electronic document as the functional equivalent of a written document for evidentiary purposes. The Rules on Electronic Evidence regards an electronic document as admissible in evidence if it complies with the rules on admissibility prescribed by the Rules of Court and related laws, and is authenticated in the manner prescribed by the said Rules. An electronic document is also the equivalent of an original document under the Best Evidence Rule, if it is a printout or output readable by sight or other means, shown to reflect the data accurately. Thus, to be admissible in evidence as an electronic data message or to be considered as the functional equivalent of an original document under the Best Evidence Rule, the writing must foremost be an "electronic data message" or an "electronic document." Same; Same; Same; Statutory Construction; Words and Phrases; While "data message" has reference to information electronically sent, stored or transmitted, it does not necessarily mean that it will give rise to a right or extinguish an obligation, 74 unlike an electronic document. Evident from the law, however, is the legislative intent to give the two terms the same construction. The clause on the interchangeability of the terms "electronic data message" and "electronic document" was the result of the Senate of the Philippines' adoption, in Senate Bill 1902, of the phrase "electronic data message" and the House of Representative's employment, in House Bill 9971, of the term "electronic document." In order to expedite the reconciliation of the two versions, the technical working group of the Bicameral Conference Committee adopted both terms and intended them to be the equivalent of each one. Be that as it may, there is a slight difference between the two terms. While "data message" has reference to information electronically sent, stored or transmitted, it does not necessarily mean that it will give rise to a right or extinguish an obligation, unlike an electronic document. Evident from the law, however, is the legislative intent to give the two terms the same construction. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The "international origin" mentioned in this section can only refer to the UNCITRAL Model Law, and the UNCITRAL's definition of "data message". As further guide for the Court in its task of statutory construction, Section 37 of the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 provides that Unless otherwise expressly provided for, the interpretation of this Act shall give due regard to its international origin and the need to promote uniformity in its application and the observance of good faith in international trade relations. The generally accepted principles of international law and convention on electronic commerce shall likewise be considered. Obviously, the "international origin" mentioned in this section can only refer to the UNCITRAL Model Law, and the UNCITRAL's definition of "data message": "Data message" means information generated, sent, received or stored by electronic, optical or similar means including, but not limited to, electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy is substantially the same as the IRR's characterization of an "electronic data message." Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A construction should be rejected that gives to the language used in a statute a meaning that does not accomplish the purpose for which the statute was enacted, and that tends to defeat the ends which are sought to be attained by the enactment. Congress deleted the phrase, "but not limited to, electronic data

interchange (EDI), electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy," and replaced the term "data message" (as found in the UNCITRAL Model Law) with "electronic data message." This legislative divergence from what is assumed as the term's "international origin" has bred uncertainty and now impels the Court to make an inquiry into the true intent of the framers of the law. Indeed, in the construction or interpretation of a legislative measure, the primary rule is to search for and determine the intent and spirit of the law. A construction should be rejected that gives to the language used in a statute a meaning that does not accomplish the purpose for which the statute was enacted, and that tends to defeat the ends which are sought to be attained by the enactment. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Facsimile Transmissions; When the Senate consequently voted to adopt the term "electronic data message," it was consonant with the explanation of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago that it would not apply "to telexes or faxes, except computer-generated faxes, unlike the United Nations model law on electronic commerce." In explaining the term "electronic record" patterned after the E-Commerce Law of Canada, Senator Defensor-Santiago had in mind the term "electronic data message." This term then, while maintaining part of the UNCITRAL Model Law's terminology of "data message," has assumed a different context, this time, consonant with the term "electronic record" in the law of Canada. It accounts for the addition of the word "electronic" and the deletion of the phrase "but not limited to, electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy." Noteworthy is that the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, explains the term "electronic record," as drafted in the Uniform Electronic Evidence Act, in a manner strikingly similar to Sen. Santiago's explanation during the Senate deliberations: xxx There is no question then that when Congress formulated the term "electronic data message," it intended the same meaning as the term "electronic record" in the Canada law. This construction of the term "electronic data message," which excludes telexes or faxes, except computer-generated faxes, is in harmony with the Electronic Commerce Law's focus on "paperless" communications and the "functional equivalent approach" 82 that it espouses. In fact, the deliberations of the Legislature are replete with discussions on paperless and digital transactions. Facsimile transmissions are not, in this sense, "paperless," but verily are paper-based. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A facsimile machine, which was first patented in 1843 by Alexander Bain, is a device that can send or receive pictures and text over a telephone line, and words by digitizing an image; A fax machine is essentially an image scanner, a modem and a computer printer combined into a highly specialized package. A facsimile machine, which was first patented in 1843 by Alexander Bain, is a device that can send or receive pictures and text over a telephone line. It works by digitizing an image dividing it into a grid of dots. Each dot is either on or off, depending on whether it is black or white. Electronically, each dot is represented by a bit that has a value of either 0 (off) or 1 (on). In this way, the fax machine translates a picture into a series of zeros and ones (called a bit map) that can be transmitted like normal computer data. On the receiving side, a fax machine reads the incoming data, translates the zeros and ones back into dots, and reprints the picture. A fax machine is essentially an image scanner, a modem and a computer printer combined into a highly specialized package. The scanner converts the content of a physical document into a digital image, the modem sends the image data over a phone line, and the printer at the other end makes a duplicate of the original document. Same; Same; Same; Best Evidence Rule; facsimile Transmissions; a facsimile transmission cannot be considered as electronic evidence. It is not the functional equivalent of an original under the Best Evidence Rule and is not admissible as electronic evidence. We, therefore, conclude that the terms "electronic data message" and "electronic document," as defined under the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, do not include a facsimile transmission.

Accordingly, a facsimile transmission cannot be considered as electronic evidence. It is not the functional equivalent of an original under the Best Evidence Rule and is not admissible as electronic evidence. Same; Same; Same; Same; Since a facsimile transmission is not an "electronic data message" or an "electronic document," and cannot be considered as electronic evidence by the Court, with greater reason is a photocopy of such a fax transmission not electronic evidence. Since a facsimile transmission is not an "electronic data message" or an "electronic document," and cannot be considered as electronic evidence by the Court, with greater reason is a photocopy of such a fax transmission not electronic evidence. In the present case, therefore, Pro Forma Invoice Nos. ST2-POSTS0401-1 and ST2-POSTS0401-2 (Exhibits "E" and "F"), which are mere photocopies of the original fax transmittals, are not electronic evidence, contrary to the position of both the trial and the appellate courts.

G.R. No. 139296 November 23, 2007 PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT (PCGG), THE PRESIDENTIAL AD-HOC FACT-FINDING COMMITTEE ON BEHEST LOANS, represented by ORLANDO L. SALVADOR, petitioners, vs. HON. ANIANO DESIERTO, TOMAS B. AGUIRRE (Deceased), PACIFICO MARCOS (Deceased), RECIO M. GARCIA (Deceased), LEONIDES VIRATA (Deceased), OFELIA CASTELL, PLACIDO MAPA, JR., VICECHAIRMAN J.V. DE OCAMPO (Deceased), JOSE TENGCO, JR., and RAFAEL SISON c/o DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, MAKATI CITY, respondents.

Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Special Civil Actions; Certiorari; A petition for review on certiorari is not the proper mode by which resolutions of the Ombudsman in preliminary investigations of criminal cases are reviewed by this Court-the remedy from the adverse resolution of the Ombudsman is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, not a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45. Before addressing the issues raised in the present petition captioned as a Petition for Review on Certiorari. We must point out that a petition for review on certiorari is not the proper mode by which resolutions of the Ombudsman in preliminary investigations of criminal cases are reviewed by this Court. The remedy from the adverse resolution of the Ombudsman is a petition for review under Rule 65, not a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45. Same; Same; Same; Same; In previous rulings, we have treated differently labeled actions as special civil actions for certiorari under Rule 65 for acceptable reasons such as justice, equity and fair play. We have decided to treat this petition as one filed under Rule 65 since a reading of its contents reveals that petitioners impute grave abuse of discretion and reversible legal error to the Ombudsman for dismissing the complaint. After all, the averments in the complaint, not the nomenclature given by the parties, determine the nature of the action. In previous rulings, we have treated differently labeled actions as special civil actions for certiorari under Rule 65 for acceptable reasons such as justice, equity, and fair play.

G.R. No. 143591 November 23, 2007 TEODORO C. BORLONGAN, JR., CORAZON M. BEJASA, ARTURO E. MANUEL, JR., ERIC L. LEE, P. SIERVO H. DIZON, BENJAMIN DE LEON,

DELFIN C. GONZALEZ, JR., and BEN YU LIM, JR., petitioners, vs. MAGDALENO M. PEA and HON. MANUEL Q. LIMSIACO, JR., as Judge Designate of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Bago City, respondents.

Remedial Law; Criminal Procedure; Bail; The principle that the accused is precluded from questioning the legality of his arrest after arraignment is true only if he voluntarily enters his plea and participates during trial, without previously invoking his objections thereto. The earlier ruling of this Court that posting of bail constitutes a waiver of the right to question the validity of the arrest, has already been superseded by Section 26, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. Furthermore, the principle that the accused is precluded from questioning the legality of his arrest after arraignment is true only if he voluntarily enters his plea and participates during trial, without previously invoking his objections thereto. Same; Same; None-issuance of Writs; Exceptions; As a general rule, the Court will not issue writs of prohibition or injunction, preliminary or final, to enjoin or restrain criminal prosecution. As a general rule, the Court will not issue writs of prohibition or injunction, preliminary or final, to enjoin or restrain criminal prosecution. However, the following exceptions to the rule have been recognized: 1.) when the injunction is necessary to afford adequate protection to the constitutional rights of the accused; 2.) when it is necessary for the orderly administration of justice or to avoid oppression or multiplicity of actions; 3.) when there is a prejudicial question which is sub judice; 4.) when the acts of the officer are without or in excess of authority; 5.) where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance, or regulation; 6.) when double jeopardy is clearly apparent; 7.) where the Court has no jurisdiction over the offense; 8.) where it is a case of persecution rather than prosecution; 9.) where the charges are manifestly false and motivated by the lust for vengeance; and 10.) when there is clearly no prima facie case against the accused and a motion to quash on that ground has been denied. Same; Same; Same; Probable Cause; What the Constitution underscores is the exclusive and personal responsibility of the issuing judge to satisfy himself of the existence of probable cause-but the judge is not required to personally examine the complainant and his witnesses. What the Constitution underscores is the exclusive and personal responsibility of the issuing judge to satisfy himself of the existence of probable cause. But the judge is not required to personally examine the complainant and his witnesses. Following established doctrine and procedure, he shall 1.) personally evaluate the report and the supporting documents submitted by the prosecutor regarding the existence of probable cause, and on the basis thereof, he may already make a personal determination of the existence of probable cause; and 2.) if he is not satisfied that probable cause exists, he may disregard the prosecutors report and require the submission of supporting affidavits of witnesses to aid him in arriving at a conclusion as to the existence of probable cause. Same; Same; Same; Same; Appeals; The general rule is that this Court does not review the factual findings of the trial court, which include the determination of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest-it is only in exceptional cases when this Court may set aside the conclusions of the prosecutor and the trial judge on the existence of probable cause, that is, when it is necessary to prevent the misuse of the strong arm of the law or to protect the orderly administration of justice. To accord respect to the discretion granted to the prosecutor and for reasons of practicality, this Court, as a rule, does not interfere with the prosecutors determination of probable cause. Otherwise, courts would be swamped with petitions to review the prosecutors findings in such investigations. In the same way, the general rule is that this Court does not review the factual findings of the trial court, which include the determination of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. It is only in exceptional cases when this Court may

set aside the conclusions of the prosecutor and the trial judge on the existence of probable cause, that is, when it is necessary to prevent the misuse of the strong arm of the law or to protect the orderly administration of justice. The facts obtaining in the present case warrant the application of the exception.

G.R. No. 150648 November 23, 2007 ROSENDO TANDOC y DE LEON, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Remedial Law; Evidence; Credibility of Witnesses; Much weight is given to the factual findings of the trial judge on the he credibility of witnesses and their testimonies as he is in the best position to observe the demeanor of witnesses during trial. The trial court was categorical in saying that the prosecution witnesses testified in a candid and straightforward manner. In contrast, Rosendo was uncertain of his answers to the questions propounded to him; thus, the RTC gave no credence to his testimony. Much weight is given to the factual findings of the trial judge on the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies as he is in the best position to observe the demeanor of witnesses during trial. Same; Same; Burden of Proof; By invoking self-defense, Rosendo, in fact, admitted that he inflicted injuries on Mario. The burden of proving with clear and convincing evidence the justifying circumstances to exculpate him from criminal liability was thereby shifted to him. On the issue of self-defense, we adopt the finding of both the RTC and CA. Whether or not the accused acted in self-defense is a factual issue. By invoking self-defense, Rosendo, in fact, admitted that he inflicted injuries on Mario. The burden of proving with clear and convincing evidence the justifying circumstances to exculpate him from criminal liability was thereby shifted to him. We find appropriate the RTC's disquisition on the matter. Civil Law; Damages; Proper Amount that may be Awarded; We recognize that it is within the domain of lower courts to determine the proper amount of damages that may be awarded, and such determination binds this Court especially if sufficiently supported by evidence and not unconscionable or excessive. We see no reason to annul or modify the amount of actual or compensatory damages awarded to Mario. The same was based on facts and law. We recognize that it is within the domain of lower courts to determine the proper amount of damages that may be awarded, and such determination binds this Court especially if sufficiently supported by evidence and not unconscionable or excessive.

G.R. No. 159882 November 23, 2007 SPOUSES RUBEN and VIOLETA SAGUAN, petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE BANK OF COMMUNICATIONS and COURT OF APPEALS (Second Division), respondents.

Remedial Law; Civil Procedure; Writs of Possession; Words and Phrases; A writ of possession is an order enforcing a judgment to allow a persons recovery of possession of real or personal property. A writ of possession is an order enforcing a judgment to allow a persons recovery of possession of real or personal property. An instance when a writ of possession may issue is under Act No. 3135, as amended by Act No. 4118, on extrajudicial foreclosure of real estate mortgage. Same; Same; Same; Redemption; Within the redemption period the purchaser in a

foreclosure sale may apply for a writ of possession by filing for that purpose an ex parte motion under oath, in the corresponding registration or cadastral proceeding in the case of property covered by a Torrens title. Within the redemption period the purchaser in a foreclosure sale may apply for a writ of possession by filing for that purpose an ex parte motion under oath, in the corresponding registration or cadastral proceeding in the case of property covered by a Torrens title. Upon filing of an ex parte motion and the approval of the corresponding bond, the court is expressly directed to issue the order for a writ of possession. Same; Same; Same; Same; After the lapse of the redemption period, a writ of possession may be issued in favor of the purchaser in a foreclosure sale as the mortgagor is now considered to have lost interest over the foreclosed property. On the other hand, after the lapse of the redemption period, a writ of possession may be issued in favor of the purchaser in a foreclosure sale as the mortgagor is now consequently, the purchaser, who has a right to possession after the expiration of the redemption period, becomes the absolute owner of the property when no redemption is made. In this regard, the bond is no longer needed. The purchaser can demand possession at any time following the consolidation of ownership in his name and the issuance to him of a new TCT. After the consolidation of title in the purchasers name for failure of the mortgagor to redeem property, the purchasers right to possession ripens into the absolute right of a confirmed owner. At that point, the issuance of writ of possession, upon proper application and proof of title, to a purchaser in an extrajudicial foreclosure sale becomes merely a ministerial function. Effectively, the court cannot exercise its discretion. Same; Same; Same; Nature; We emphasize that the proceeding in a petition for a writ of possession is ex parte and summary in nature. It is a judicial proceeding brought for the benefit of one party only and without need of notice to any person claiming an adverse interest. We emphasize that the proceeding in a petition for a writ of possession ex parte and summary in nature. It is judicial proceeding brought for the benefit of one party only and one without need of notice to any person claiming an adverse interest. It is a proceeding wherein relief is granted even without giving the person against whom relief is sought an opportunity to be heard. By its very nature, an ex parte petition for issuance of writ of possession is a non-litigious proceeding authorized under Act No. 3135, as amended.

G.R. No. 162874 November 23, 2007 LUCIO S. COLLADO, petitioner, vs. HEIRS OF ALEJANDRO TRIUNFANTE, SR., represented by ALEJANDRO TRIUNFANTE, JR., respondents.

Actions; Damages; Courts; Judgments; Writs of Execution; Residual Jurisdiction; An independent action for damages based on the implementation of a writ of execution cannot be sustainedthe court which rendered the judgment has control over the processes of execution. The power carries with it the right to determine every question of fact and law which may be involved in the execution. An independent action for damages based on the implementation of a writ of execution cannot be sustained. The court which rendered the judgment has control over the processes of execution. The power carries with it the right to determine every question of fact and law which may be involved in the execution. Thus, the MTC which issued the Decision in the forcible entry case retains general jurisdiction over matters arising from the execution of the said Decision. If the officers who executed the writ of execution committed any irregularity or exceeded their authority in the enforcement of the writ, the proper recourse of Collado would have been to file a motion with or an

application for relief from the same court which issued the Decision, not from any other court. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Ejectment; The damages sustained by Collado as a result of the enforcement of the writ of execution should have been raised as a claim in an appeal from the Decision of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC). It should also be borne in mind that the action for damages arose from a lawful order of a competent court which had become final and executory. The writ of execution and the writ of demolitions issued by the MTC to enforce its Decision in the forcible entry case are proper in the ordinary course of law. Collado cannot claim that, not being a party to the action in the forcible entry case, his rights should not be prejudiced by the Decision therein. As adjudged by the RTC and sustained by the CA, Collado bought the property while it was still under litigation. He is the successor-in-interest of one of the real parties in the ejectment case. He acquired only the interest and stepped into the shoes of his predecessor who was a party. As such, he is bound by the ruling therein. The damages sustained by Collado as a result of the enforcement of the writ of execution should have been raised as a claim in an appeal from the Decision of the MTC. However, due to inadvertence, his predecessor-in-interest filed a belated appeal which was properly denied.

G.R. No. 170244 November 28, 2007 ILOILO LA FILIPINA UYGONGCO CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS; CEBU CITY, HON. PATRICIA A. STO. TOMAS, in her capacity as Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment; and LA FILIPINA UYGONGCO CORPORATION WORKERS, respondents.

Appeals; Certiorari; Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure specifically provides that an appeal by certiorari from the judgment or final orders or resolutions of the Court of Appeals is by verified petition for review on certiorari- the aggrieved party is proscribed from assailing a decision or final order of the Court of Appeals via Rule 65 because such recourse is proper only if the party has no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the course of law. Mark that what is being assailed in this recourse is he CA Decision dated December 2, 2004. Rule45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure specifically provides that an appeal by certiorari from the judgments or final orders or resolutions of the Court of Appeals is by verified petition for review on certiorari. Thus: SECTION 1. Filing of petition with Supreme Court.- A party desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution of the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court or other courts whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme Court a verified petition for review on certiorari. The petition raise only questions of law which must be distinctly set forth. SECTION 2. Time of filing; extension.- the petition shall be filed within (15) days from notice of the judgment or final order or resolution appealed from, or of the denial of the petitioner's motion for new trial or reconsideration filed in due time after notice of the judgment . On motion duly filed and served, with full payment of the docket and other lawful fees and the deposit for costs before the expiration of the reglementary period, the Supreme Court may for justifiable reasons grant an extension of (30) days only within which to file the petition. The aggrieved party is proscribed from assailing a decision or final order of the CA via Rule 65 because such recourse is proper only if the party has no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the course of law. In this case, petitioner ha an adequate remedy, namely, a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. A petition for review on certiorari, not a special civil action for certiorari was, therefore, the correct remedy.

Same; Same; Where appeal is available to the aggrieved party, the special civil action for certiorari will not be entertained as the remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive, not alternative or successive; Certiorari is not and cannot be a substitute for a lost appeal, especially if one's one negligence or error in one's choice of remedy occasioned such loss or lapse. -Settled is the rule that where appeal is available to the aggrieved party, the special civil action for certiorari will not be entertained- remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive, not alternative or successive. Hence certiorari is not and cannot be a substitute for a lost appeal, especially if one's one negligence or error in one's choice of remedy occasioned such loss or lapse. One of the requisites of certiorari is that there be no available appeal or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy. Where an appeal was available, as in this case, certiorari will not prosper, even if the ground therefor is grave abuse of discretion. Petitioner's resort to this court by Petition or Certiorari was a fatal procedural error, and the instant petition must, therefore, fail. Same; Same; Exceptions. Indeed there are instances when certiorari was granted despite the availability of appeal such as: (a) when public welfare and the advancement of public policy dictates; (b) when the broader interest of justice so requires; (c) when the writs issued are null and void ; (d) when the questioned order amounts to an oppressive exercise of judicial authority. None of these recognized exceptions, however, is present in the case at bar. Petitioner failed to show circumstances that would justify a deviation from the general rule, and make available a petition for certiorari in lieu of taking an appeal. Appeals; There is no innate right to appeal- appeal is a statutory right which may be exercised within prescribed limits. If the consequences for pursuing the wrong remedial tack in this case seem harsh, it should be remembered that there is no innate right to appeal. Appeal is a statutory right which maybe exercised within the prescribed limits. The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides for a rational and orderly method by which appeal can be pursued, and even contingency remedial measures if appeal could no longer be timely pursued. Petitioner must bear the consequence for its failure to undertake a timely appeal when such remedy existed. Once again, we stress that the rules of the procedure were promulgated for a noble purpose, and to disregard such rules in the guise of liberal construction would be to defeat such purpose. Procedural rules are not to be disdained as mere technicalities. They may not be ignored to suit the convenience of a party. Adjective law ensures the effective enforcement of substantive rights through the orderly and speedy administration of justice. Rules are not intended to hamper litigants or complicate litigation. But they help provide for a vital system of justice where suitors may be heard following judicial procedure and in the correct forum. Public order and our system of justice are well served by a conscientious observance by the parties of the procedural rules.

GR No. 147082 January 28, 2008 HEIRS OF MAURA SO, namely, YAN LAM LIM, JIMMY SO LIM, and FERDINAND SO LIM, petitioners, vs. LUCILA JOMOC OBLIOSCA, ELVIRA JOMOC GARDINAB, and HEIRS OF ABUNDIA JOMOC BALALA, namely, ROSITA BALALA ACENAS, EVANGELINE BALALA BAACLO, OLIVER JOMOC BALALA, and PERLA BALALA CONDESA, respondents.

Annulment of Judgments; Annulment of judgment is a recourse equitable in character, allowed only in exceptional cases as where there is no available or other adequate remedy; A petition for annulment of judgment is no longer

available to petitioners since their predecessor-in-interest, Maura So, had already availed herself of a petition for review on certiorari. Annulment of judgment is a recourse equitable in character, allowed only in exceptional cases as where there is no available or other adequate remedy. Thus, it may not be invoked (1) where the party has availed himself of the remedy of new trial, appeal, petition for relief, or other appropriate remedy and lost; or (2) where he has failed to avail himself of those remedies through his own fault or negligence. We, therefore, agree with the CA that the remedy of a petition for annulment of judgment is no longer available to petitioners since their predecessor-in-interest, Maura So, had already availed herself of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Same; Jurisdictions; Words and Phrases: Lack of Jurisdiction and Exercise of Jurisdiction, Distinguish. Petitioners clearly confused lack of jurisdiction with error in the exercise of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is not the same as the exercise of jurisdiction. As distinguished from the exercise of jurisdiction, jurisdiction is the authority to decide a case, and not the decision rendered therein. Where there is jurisdiction over the person and the subject matter, the decision on all other questions arising in the case is but an exercise of such jurisdiction. And the errors which the court may commit in the exercise of jurisdiction are merely errors of judgment which are the proper subject of an appeal. The error raised by petitioners pertains to the trial court's exercise of its jurisdiction, not its lack of authority to decide the case. In a petition for annulment of judgment based on lack of jurisdiction, petitioner must show not merely an abuse of jurisdictional discretion but an absolute lack of authority to hear and decide the case. On this basis, there would be no valid ground to grant the petition for annulment of judgment. Judgments; Immutability or Finality of Judgments or Doctrine of Finality of Judgments; Exceptions; Well-settled is the principle that a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law and whether it will be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land; The only exceptions to the general rule are the correction of clerical errors, the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, void judgments, and whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision which render its execution unjust and inequitable. Well-settled is the principle that a decision that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law and whether it will be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land. The reason for this is that litigation must end and terminate sometime and somewhere, and it is essential to an effective and efficient administration of justice that, once a judgment has become final, the winning party, through a mere subterfuge, be not deprived of the fruits of the verdict. The doctrine of finality of judgment is grounded on the fundamental principle of public policy and sound practice that, at the risk of occasional error, the judgment of courts and the award of quasi-judicial agencies must become final on some definite date fixed by law. The only exceptions to the general rule are the correction of clerical errors, the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, void judgments, and whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision which render its execution unjust and inequitable. Again, none of these exceptions is present in this case. Same; Same; Procedural Rules and Technicalities; The power to suspend or even disregard rules can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself has already declared to be final. Notwithstanding these principles, however, the higher interests of justice and equity demand that we brush aside the procedural norms. After all, rules of procedure are intended to promote rather than defeat substantial justice, and should not be applied in a very rigid and technical sense. Rules of procedure are merely tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice; they are promulgated to aid the court in the effective dispensation of justice. The Court has the inherent power and discretion to amend, modify or reconsider a final judgment when it is necessary to accomplish the ends of justice. If the rigid application of the Rules would frustrate rather than promote justice, it is always within the Court's power to suspend the Rules or except a particular case from its operation. The power to suspend or even disregard rules can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself has already declared to be final. Same; Courts; Hierarchy of Courts; Three Options to Solve a Case of Conflicting Decisions; Decisions of Supreme Court should be accorded more respect than those made by the lower courts. In Collantes v. Court of Appeals, the Court offered three options to solve a case of conflicting decisions: the first is for the parties to assert their claims anew, the second is to determine which judgment came first, and the third is to determine which of the judgments had been rendered by a court of last resort. In that case, the Court applied the first option and resolved the conflicting issues anew. Instead of resorting to the first offered solution as in Collantes, which would entail

disregarding all the three final and executory decisions, we find it more equitable to apply the criteria mentioned in the second and third solutions, and thus, maintain the finality of one of the conflicting judgments. The principal criterion under the second option is the time when the decision was rendered and became final and executory, such that earlier decisions should be sustained over the current ones since final and executory decisions vest rights in the winning party. The major criterion under the third solution is a determination of which court or tribunal rendered the decision. Decisions of this Court should be accorded more respect than those made by the lower courts. Same; Same; Minute Resolutions; Where a Minu7te Resolution in a third case involving the same property dismisses the petition for review on certiorari of the RTC Resolution for failure to sufficiently show that the questioned resolution was tainted with grave abuse of discretion and for being the wrong remedy, in a manner of speaking, the third final and executory judgment of the Supreme Court is substantially a decision of the trial court. The application of these criteria points to the preservation of the Decision of this Court in G.R. Nos. 92871 and 92860 dated August 2, 1991, and its Resolution in G.R. No. 110661 dated December 1, 1993. Both judgments were rendered long before the Minute Resolution in G.R. No. 118050 was issued on March 1, 1995. In fact, the August 2, 1991 Decision was executed already respondents were divested of their title over the property and a new title, TCT No. T-68370, was issued in the name of Maura So on July 24, 1992. Further, while all three judgments actually reached this Court, only the two previous judgments extensively discussed the respective cases on the merits. The third judgment (in G.R. No. 118050) was a Minute Resolution, dismissing the petition for review on certiorari of the RTC Resolution in the legal redemption case for failure to sufficiently show that the questioned resolution was tainted with grave abuse of discretion and for being the wrong remedy. In a manner of speaking, therefore, the third final and executory judgment was substantially a decision of the trial court. Obviously, the complaint for legal redemption was deliberately filed by the respondents with the RTC to circumvent this Court's previous decisions sustaining the sale of the whole property to Maura So. The Court cannot condone this ploy, even if it failed to uncover the same when the case was erroneously elevated to it directly from the trial court (G.R. No. 118050). Same; Same; The Supreme Court is not precluded from rectifying errors of judgment if blind and stubborn adherence to the doctrine of immutability of final judgments would involve the sacrifice of justice for technicality. The matter is again before this Court, and this time, it behooves the Court to set things right in order to prevent a grave injustice from being committed against Maura So who had, for 15 years since the first decision was executed, already considered herself to be the owner of the property. The Court is not precluded from rectifying errors of judgment if blind and stubborn adherence to the doctrine of immutability of final judgments would involve the sacrifice of justice for technicality.

GR No. 150806 January 28, 2008 EUFEMIA ALMEDA and ROMEL ALMEDA, petitioners, vs. BATHALA MARKETING INDUSTRIES, INC., respondent.

Actions; Declaratory Relief; Words and Phrases; Declaratory Relief, Defined; The only issue that may be raised in such a petition is the question of construction or validity of provisions in an instrument or statute. Corollary is the general rule that such an action must be justified, as no other adequate relief or remedy is available under the circumstances. Declaratory relief is defined as an action by any person interested in a deed, will, contract or other written instrument, executive order or resolution, to determine any question of construction or validity arising from the instrument, executive order or regulation, or statute, and for a declaration of his rights and duties thereunder. The only issue that may be raised in such a petition is the question of construction or validity of provisions in an instrument or statute. Corollary is the general rule that such an action must be justified, as no other adequate relief or remedy is available under the circumstances. Same; Same; Requisites. Decisional law enumerates the requisites of an action for declaratory relief, as follows: 1) the subject matter of the controversy must be a deed, will, contract or other written instrument, statute, executive order or regulation, or ordinance; 2) the terms of said documents and the validity thereof are doubtful and require judicial construction; 3) there must have been no breach of the documents in question; 4) there must be an actual justiciable controversy or the "ripening seeds" of one between persons whose interests are adverse; 5) the issue must

be ripe for judicial determination; and 6) adequate relief is not available through other means or other forms of action or proceeding. Same; Same; When Dismissible; A petition for declaratory relief may not be dismissed despite the filing of an action for rescission, ejectment and damages where the trial court had not yet resolved the rescission/ ejectment case during the pendency of the declaratory relief petition. It is true that in Panganiban v. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, 395 SCRA 624 (2003), we held that the petition for declaratory relief should be dismissed in view of the pendency of a separate action for unlawful detainer. However, we cannot apply the same ruling to the instant case. In Panganiban, the unlawful detainer case had already been resolved by the trial court before the dismissal of the declaratory relief case; and it was petitioner in that case who insisted that the action for declaratory relief be preferred over the action for unlawful detainer. Conversely, in the case at bench, the trial court had not yet resolved the rescission/ejectment case during the pendency of the declaratory relief petition. In fact, the trial court, where the rescission case was on appeal, itself initiated the suspension of the proceedings pending the resolution of the action for declaratory relief. We are not unmindful of the doctrine enunciated in Teodoro, Jr. v. Mirasol, 99 Phil.150 (1956) where the declaratory relief action was dismissed because the issue therein could be threshed out in the unlawful detainer suit. Yet, again, in that case, there was already a breach of contract at the time of the filing of the declaratory relief petition. This dissimilar factual milieu proscribes the Court from applying Teodoro to the instant case. Given all these attendant circumstances, the Court is disposed to entertain the instant declaratory relief action instead of dismissing it, notwithstanding the pendency of the ejectment/rescission case before the trial court. The resolution of the present petition would write finis to the parties' dispute, as it would settle once and for all the question of the proper interpretation of the two contractual stipulations subject of this controversy. Contracts; Interpretation of Contracts; Essential to contract construction is the ascertainment of the intention of the contracting parties, and such determination must take into account the contemporaneous and subsequent acts of the parties. Essential to contract construction is the ascertainment of the intention of the contracting parties, and such determination must take into account the contemporaneous and subsequent acts of the parties. This intention, once ascertained, is deemed an integral part of the contract. Obligations and Contracts; Extraordinary Inflation or Deflation; Words and Phrases; Inflation, Defined; Extraordinary Inflation, Defined. Inflation has been defined as the sharp increase of money or credit, or both, without a corresponding increase in business transaction. There is inflation when there is an increase in the volume of money and credit relative to available goods, resulting in a substantial and continuing rise in the general price level. In a number of cases, this Court had provided a discourse on what constitutes extraordinary inflation, thus: [E]xtraordinary inflation exists when there is a decrease or increase in the purchasing power of the Philippine currency which is unusual or beyond the common fluctuation in the value of said currency, and such increase or decrease could not have been reasonably foreseen or was manifestly beyond the contemplation of the parties at the time of the establishment of the obligation. Same; Same; Judicial Notice; The erosion of the value of the Philippine peso in the past three or four decades, starting in the mid-sixties, is characteristic of most currencies. And while the Court may take judicial notice of the decline in the purchasing power of the Philippine currency in that span of time, such downward trend of the peso cannot be considered as the extraordinary phenomenon contemplated by Article 1250 of the Civil Code. Furthermore, absent an official pronouncement or declaration by competent authorities of the existence of extraordinary inflation during a given period, the effects of extraordinary inflation are not to be applied. The factual circumstances obtaining in the present case do not make out a case of extraordinary inflation or devaluation as would justify the application of Article 1250 of the Civil Code. We would like to stress that the erosion of the value of the Philippine peso in the past three or four decades, starting in the mid-sixties, is characteristic of most currencies. And while the Court may take judicial notice of the decline in the purchasing power of the Philippine currency in that span of time, such downward trend of the peso cannot be considered as the extraordinary phenomenon contemplated by Article 1250 of the Civil Code. Furthermore, absent an official pronouncement or declaration by competent authorities of the existence of extraordinary inflation during a given period, the effects of extraordinary inflation are not to be applied. GR No. 154466 January 28, 2008 CLIMACO AMORA, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Evidence; Direct evidence not the sole means of establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt. 8 Established facts that form a chain of circumstances can lead the mind intuitively or impel a conscious process of reasoning towards a conviction. Indeed, rules on evidence and principles in jurisprudence have long recognized that the accused may be convicted through circumstantial evidence. It may be well to emphasize that direct evidence is not the sole means of establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Established facts that form a chain of circumstances can lead the mind intuitively or impel a conscious process of reasoning towards a conviction. Indeed, rules on evidence and principles in jurisprudence have long recognized that the accused may be convicted through circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial Evidence; Definition of Circumstantial Evidence; Requisites for Circumstantial Evidence to be Sufficient for a Conviction. Circumstantial evidence has been defined as such evidence which goes to prove a fact or series of facts, other than the facts in issue, which, if proved, may tend by inference to establish the fact in issue. Circumstantial evidence may be resorted to when to insist on direct testimony would ultimately lead to setting felons free. But for circumstantial evidence to be sufficient for a conviction, the following requisites must be present, namely: (a) there is more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived have been proven; and (c) the combination of all the circumstances results in a moral certainty that the accused, to the exclusion of all others, is the one who has committed the crime. Appeals; Case law states that findings of facts of the trial court, especially if affirmed by the appellate court, are given great respect, if not conclusive effect, by this Court unless the trial court ignored, misunderstood or misinterpreted facts and circumstances of substance which, if considered, would alter the outcome of the case. The Supreme Court finds no cogent reason to disturb the findings of the trial court as affirmed by the appellate court. Case law states that findings of facts of the trial court, especially if affirmed by the appellate court, are given great respect, if not conclusive effect, by this Court unless the trial court ignored, misunderstood or misinterpreted facts and circumstances of substance which, if considered, would alter the outcome of the case. Having had the unique advantage of observing and monitoring at close range the demeanor and conduct of witnesses, the trial court is in a better position to pass judgment on the credibility of witnesses and the probative weight of their testimonies. Penalties; The Court of Appeals correctly modified the penalty to be imposed. As to the penalty to be imposed, the Court of Appeals correctly modified the same. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum term of the penalty shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed, while the minimum term of which shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense. The penalty prescribed for the offense is reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua. Considering that no mitigating nor aggravating circumstance attended the commission of the offense, the proper imposable penalty, and thus the maximum term of the indeterminate penalty, is 18 years, 8 months and 1 day to 20 years.

GR No. 171052 January 28, 2008 PHILIPPINE HEALTH-CARE PROVIDERS, INC. (MAXICARE), petitioner, vs. CARMELA ESTRADA/CARA HEALTH SERVICES, respondent.

Remedial Law; Appeals; Factual findings of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the appellate court, are accorded the highest degree of respect and are considered conclusive between the parties; Exceptions. Wellentrenched in jurisprudence is the rule that factual findings of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the appellate court, are accorded the highest degree of respect and are considered conclusive between the parties. A review of such findings by this Court is not warranted except upon a showing of highly meritorious circumstances, such as: (1) when the findings of a trial court are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when a lower court's inference from its factual findings is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts; (4) when the findings of the appellate court go beyond the issues of the case, or fail to notice certain relevant facts which, if properly considered, will justify a different conclusion; (5) when there is a misappreciation of facts; (6) when the findings of fact are conclusions without mention of the specific evidence on which they are based, are premised on the absence of evidence, or are contradicted by evidence on record. 8 None of the foregoing exceptions which would warrant a reversal of the assailed decision obtains in this instance.

Same; Same; Certiorari; For an action for certiorari to prosper, there must be a showing that the COMELEC acted with "grave abuse of discretion," which means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction or excess thereof. For an action for certiorari to prosper, there must be a showing that the COMELEC acted with "grave abuse of discretion," which means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction or excess thereof. The abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility.

AM. No. 06-9-545-RTC January 31, 2008 RE: CONVICTION OF JUDGE ADORACION G. ANGELES, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 121, CALOOCAN CITY IN CRIMINAL CASEA NOS. Q-97-69655 to 56 FOR CHILD ABUSE

Courts; Judges; Contempt; Words and Phrases; Contempt of court is a defiance of the authority, justice or dignity of the court, such conduct as tends to bring the authority and administration of the law into disrespect or to interfere with or prejudice parties, litigant or their witnesses during litigation. In Pilar Barredo-Fuentes v. Judge Romeo C. Albarracin, we held: Contempt of court is a defiance of the authority, justice or dignity of the court, such conduct as tends to bring the authority and administration of the law into disrespect or to interfere with or prejudice parties, litigant or their witnesses during litigation. There are two kinds of contempt punishable by law: direct contempt and indirect contempt. Direct contempt is committed when a person is guilty of misbehavior in the presence of or so near a court as to obstruct or interrupt the proceedings before the same, including disrespect toward the court, offensive personalities toward others, or refusal to be sworn or to answer as a witness, or to subscribe an affidavit or deposition when lawfully required to do so. Indirect contempt or constructive contempt is that which is committed out of the presence of the court. Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice would constitute indirect contempt. Same; Same; A petition for indirect contempt petition is in the nature of a special civil actioncertified true copies of related documents must be submitted with the petition and appropriate docket fees must be paid. A charge of indirect contempt must be filed in the form of a verified petition if it is not initiated directly by the court against which the contemptuous act was committed. On previous occasions, we clarified that such petition is in the nature of a special civil action. Certified true copies of related documents must be submitted with the petition and appropriate docket fees must be paid. The requirement of a verified petition is mandatory. As Justice Florenz D. Regalado has explained: This new provision clarifies with a regulatory norm the proper procedure for commencing contempt proceedings. While such proceeding has been classified as a special civil action under the former Rules, the heterogeneous practice, tolerated by the courts, has been for any party to file a mere motion without paying any docket or lawful fees therefor and without complying with the requirements for initiatory pleadings, which is now required in the second paragraph of [Section 4]. GR No. 155550 January 31, 2008 NORTHWEST AIRLINES, INC., petitioner, vs. STEVEN P. CHIONG, respondent.

Evidence; Appeals; Factual findings of the lower courts deserve the utmost respect and are not to be disturbed on appeal. We have scoured the records, and found no reason to depart from the well-settled rule that factual findings of the lower courts deserve the utmost respect and are not to be disturbed on appeal. Indeed, Chiong's Northwest ticket for Flight No. 24 on April 1, 1989, coupled with the PCG stamps on his passport showing the same date, is direct evidence that he was present at MIA on said date as he intended to fly to the United States on board that flight. As testified to by POEA personnel and officers, the PCG stamp indicates that a departing seaman has passed

through the PCG counter at the airport, surrendered the exit pass, and complied with government requirements for departing seafarers. Calvo, Philimare's liaison officer tasked to assist Chiong at the airport, corroborated Chiong's testimony on the latter's presence at the MIA and his check-in at the PCG counter without a hitch. Calvo further testified that she purposely stayed at the PCG counter to confirm that Chiong was able to board the plane, as it was part of her duties as Philimare's liaison officer, to confirm with their principal, TransOcean in this case, that the seafarer had left the country and commenced travel to the designated port where the vessel is docked. Thus, she had observed that Chiong was unable to check-in and board Northwest Flight No. 24, and was actually being given the run-around by Northwest personnel. Same; Witnesses; If a witness' relationship with a party does not ipso facto render him a biased witness in criminal cases where the quantum of evidence required is proof beyond reasonable doubt, there is no reason why the same principle should not apply in civil cases where the quantum of evidence is only preponderance of evidence. It is of no moment that Chiong's witnesses who all corroborated his testimony on his presence at the airport on, and flight details for, April 1, 1989, and that he was subsequently bumped-off are, likewise, employees of Philimare which may have an interest in the outcome of this case. We intoned in Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, thus: (T)his Court has repeatedly held that a witness' relationship to the victim does not automatically affect the veracity of his or her testimony. While this principle is often applied in criminal cases, we deem that the same principle may apply in this case, albeit civil in nature. If a witness' relationship with a party does not ipso facto render him a biased witness in criminal cases where the quantum of evidence required is proof beyond reasonable doubt, there is no reason why the same principle should not apply in civil cases where the quantum of evidence is only preponderance of evidence. Same; Burden of Proof; Burden of Evidence; Air Transportation; Contracts of Carriage; Although initially, the burden of proof was with Chiong to prove that there was a breach of contract of carriage, the burden of evidence shifted to Northwest when Chiong adduced sufficient evidence to prove the facts he had alleged. At that point, Northwest had the burden of going forward 23 to controvert Chiong's prima facie case. As the party asserting that Chiong was a "no-show" passenger, Northwest then had the burden of evidence to establish its claim. It is true that Chiong's passport and seaman service record book indicate that he had left the country on April 17, 1989 and come back on October 5 of the same year. However, this evidence fails to debunk the facts established to have transpired on April 1, 1989, more particularly, Chiong's presence at the airport and his subsequent bumping-off by Northwest despite a confirmed ticket. Although initially, the burden of proof was with Chiong to prove that there was a breach of contract of carriage, the burden of evidence shifted to Northwest when Chiong adduced sufficient evidence to prove the facts he had alleged. At that point, Northwest had the burden of going forward to controvert Chiong's prima facie case. As the party asserting that Chiong was a "no-show" passenger, Northwest then had the burden of evidence to establish its claim. Regrettably, Northwest failed to do so. Pleadings and Practice; Motions to Dismiss; Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. We uphold the RTC's and CA's ruling that the failure of Northwest to raise the foregoing defense in its Motion to Dismiss or Answer constituted a waiver thereof. Section 1, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court provides: SEC. 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations, the court shall dismiss the claim. Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus; Witnesses; The legal maxim falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, cited by Northwest, is not a positive rule of law and is not strictly applied in this jurisdiction. Before this maxim can be applied, the witness must be shown to have willfully falsified the truth on one or more material points. The legal maxim falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, cited by Northwest, is not a positive rule of law and is not strictly applied in this jurisdiction. Before this maxim can be applied, the witness must be shown to have willfully falsified the truth on one or more material points. The principle presupposes the existence of a positive testimony on a material point contrary to subsequent declarations in the testimony. However, the records show that Chiong's testimony did not contain inconsistencies on what occurred on April 1, 1989. Yet, Northwest never even attempted to explain or impugn the evidence that Chiong passed through the PCG counter on April 1, 1989, and that his passport was accordingly stamped, obviously for purposes of his departure on that day. Same; Same; The testimony of a witness must be considered in its entirety instead of in truncated parts. The technique in deciphering a testimony is not to consider only its isolated parts and anchor a conclusion on the basis

of said parts. As to the criminal case, it is well to note that there is no final determination, as yet, of Chiong's guilt by the courts. But even if Chiong is adjudged guilty, it will have little effect on the outcome of this case. As we held in Leyson v. Lawa: The testimony of a witness must be considered in its entirety instead of in truncated parts. The technique in deciphering a testimony is not to consider only its isolated parts and anchor a conclusion on the basis of said parts. In ascertaining the facts established by a witness, everything stated by him on direct, cross and redirect examinations must be calibrated and considered. It must be stressed that facts imperfectly or erroneously stated in answer to one question may be supplied or explained as qualified by his answer to other question. The principle falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus is not strictly applied in this jurisdiction. The doctrine deals only with the weight of evidence and is not a positive rule of law, and the same is not an inflexible one of universal application. The testimony of a witness can be believed as to some facts and disbelieved as to others: x x x Professor Wigmore gives the following enlightening commentary: It may be said, once for all, that the maxim is in itself worthless first, in point of validity, because in one form it merely contains in loose fashion a kernel of truth which no one needs to be told, and in the others, it is absolutely false as a maxim of life; and secondly, in point of utility, because it merely tells the jury what they may do in any event, not what they must do or must not do, and therefore it is a superfluous form of words. It is also in practice pernicious, first, because there is frequently a misunderstanding of its proper force, and secondly, because it has become in the hands of many counsel a mere instrument for obtaining new trials upon points wholly unimportant in themselves.

GR No. 160426 January 31, 2008 CAPITOLINA VIVERO NAPERE, petitioner, vs. AMANDO BARBARONA and GERVACIA MONJAS BARBARONA, respondents.

Actions; Parties; Death of Party; Substitution of Parties; Attorneys; When a party to a pending case dies and the claim is not extinguished by such death, the rules require the substitution of the deceased party by his legal representative or heirs, and such case counsel is obliged to inform the court of the death of his client and give the name and address of the latters legal representative. When a party to a pending case dies and the claim is not extinguished by such death, the rules require the substitution of the deceased party by his legal representative or heirs, and such case counsel is obliged to inform the court of the death of his client and give the name and address of the latters legal representative. The complaint for the recovery of possession, quieting of title and damages is an action that survives the death of the defendant. Notably, the counsel of Juan Napere complied with his duty to inform the court of his clients death and the names and addresses of the heirs. The trial courts, however, failed to order the substitution of the heirs. Nonetheless, despite this oversight, we hold that the proceedings conducted and the judgment rendered by the trial courts are valid. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Failure of the counsel to comply with his duty to inform the court of the death of his client, such that no substitution is effected, will not invalidate the proceedings and the judgment rendered thereon if the action survives the death of the party. The court has repeatedly declared that failure of the counsel to comply with his duty to inform the court of the death of his client, such that no substitution is effected, will not invalidate the proceedings and the judgment rendered thereon if the action survives the death of the party. The trial courts jurisdiction over the case subsists despite the death of the party. Mere failure to substitute a deceased party is not sufficient ground to nullify a trial courts decision. The party alleging the nullity must prove that there was an undeniable violation of due process. Same; Same; Same; Same; Due Process; Strictly speaking, the rule on substitution by the heirs is not a matter of jurisdiction, but a requirement of due process it is only when there is a denial of due process, as when the deceased is not represented by any legal representative or heir; that the court nullifies the trial proceedings and the resulting judgment therein. Strictly speaking, the rule on substitution by the heirs is not a matter of jurisdiction, but a requirement of due process. The rule on substitution was crafted to protect every partys right to due process. It was designed to ensure that the deceased party would continue to be properly represented in the suit through his heirs or the duly appointed legal representative of his estate. Moreover, non-compliance with the Rules results in the denial of the due process for the heirs who, though not duly notified of the proceedings, would be substantially affected by the decision rendered therein. Thus, it is only when there is a denial of due process, as when the

deceased is not represented by any legal representative or heir; that the court nullifies the trial proceedings and the resulting judgment therein. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Formal substitution by the heirs is not necessary when they themselves voluntarily appear, participate in the case, and present evidence in defense of the deceased. Formal substitution by the heirs is not necessary when they themselves voluntarily appear, participate in the case, and present evidence in defense of the deceased. In such case, there is really no violation of the right to due process. The essence of due process is the reasonable opportunity to submit any evidence available support of ones defense. When the due process is not violated, as when the right of the representative or heir is recognized and protected, noncompliance or belated formal compliance with the Rules cannot affect the validity of a promulgated decision. Same; Same; Same; Same; Violation of due process is a personal defense that can only be asserted by the person whose rights have been allegedly violated. The alleged violation of due process as would nullify the proceedings and the judgment thereon can be invoked only by the heirs whose rights have been violated. Violation of due process is a personal defense that can only be asserted by the person whose rights have been allegedly violated. Petitioner, who had every opportunity and who took advantage of such opportunity, through the counsel, to participate in the trial court proceedings, cannot claim denial due process. Actions; Parties; Death of Party; Substitution of Parties; Attorneys; When a party to a pending case dies and the claim is not extinguished by such death, the rules require the substitution of the deceased party by his legal representative or heirs, and such case counsel is obliged to inform the court of the death of his client and give the name and address of the latters legal representative. When a party to a pending case dies and the claim is not extinguished by such death, the rules require the substitution of the deceased party by his legal representative or heirs, and such case counsel is obliged to inform the court of the death of his client and give the name and address of the latters legal representative. The complaint for the recovery of possession, quieting of title and damages is an action that survives the death of the defendant. Notably, the counsel of Juan Napere complied with his duty to inform the court of his clients death and the names and addresses of the heirs. The trial courts, however, failed to order the substitution of the heirs. Nonetheless, despite this oversight, we hold that the proceedings conducted and the judgment rendered by the trial courts are valid. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Failure of the counsel to comply with his duty to inform the court of the death of his client, such that no substitution is effected, will not invalidate the proceedings and the judgment rendered thereon if the action survives the death of the party. The court has repeatedly declared that failure of the counsel to comply with his duty to inform the court of the death of his client, such that no substitution is effected, will not invalidate the proceedings and the judgment rendered thereon if the action survives the death of the party. The trial courts jurisdiction over the case subsists despite the death of the party. Mere failure to substitute a deceased party is not sufficient ground to nullify a trial courts decision. The party alleging the nullity must prove that there was an undeniable violation of due process. Same; Same; Same; Same; Due Process; Strictly speaking, the rule on substitution by the heirs is not a matter of jurisdiction, but a requirement of due process it is only when there is a denial of due process, as when the deceased is not represented by any legal representative or heir; that the court nullifies the trial proceedings and the resulting judgment therein. Strictly speaking, the rule on substitution by the heirs is not a matter of jurisdiction, but a requirement of due process. The rule on substitution was crafted to protect every partys right to due process. It was designed to ensure that the deceased party would continue to be properly represented in the suit through his heirs or the duly appointed legal representative of his estate. Moreover, non-compliance with the Rules results in the denial of the due process for the heirs who, though not duly notified of the proceedings, would be substantially affected by the decision rendered therein. Thus, it is only when there is a denial of due process, as when the deceased is not represented by any legal representative or heir; that the court nullifies the trial proceedings and the resulting judgment therein. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Formal substitution by the heirs is not necessary when they themselves voluntarily appear, participate in the case, and present evidence in defense of the deceased. Formal substitution by the heirs is not necessary when they themselves voluntarily appear, participate in the case, and present evidence in defense of the deceased. In such case, there is really no violation of the right to due process. The essence of due process is the reasonable opportunity to submit any evidence available support of ones defense. When the due process is not violated, as when the right of the representative or heir is recognized and protected, noncompliance or belated formal compliance with the Rules cannot affect the validity of a promulgated decision.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Violation of due process is a personal defense that can only be asserted by the person whose rights have been allegedly violated. The alleged violation of due process as would nullify the proceedings and the judgment thereon can be invoked only by the heirs whose rights have been violated. Violation of due process is a personal defense that can only be asserted by the person whose rights have been allegedly violated. Petitioner, who had every opportunity and who took advantage of such opportunity, through the counsel, to participate in the trial court proceedings, cannot claim denial due process.

GR No. 180299 January 31, 2008 LYNDON D. BOISER, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Certiorari; Preliminary Investigation; Criminal Procedure; Motions to Quash; A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 is not the proper remedy against an order denying a motion to quash; Absent any showing of arbitrariness on the part of the investigating prosecutor or any other officer authorized by law to conduct preliminary investigation, court as a rule must defer to said officers finding and determination of probable cause. A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 is not the proper remedy against an order denying a motion to quash. The accuses should instead go to trial, without prejudice on his part to present the special defenses he had invoked in his motion and, if after trial on the merits, and adverse decision is rendered, to appeal therefrom in the manner authorized by law. Based on the findings of the investigating prosecutor and of the trial judge, probable cause exists to indict petitioner for the 3 offenses. Absent any showing of arbitrariness on the part of the investigating prosecutor or any other officer authorized by law to conduct preliminary investigation, court as a rule must defer to said officers finding and determination of probable cause, since determination of the existence of probable cause is the function of the prosecutor. Same; Same; Quantum of Proof; A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely that not a crime has been committed and was committed by the suspect- probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, neither on evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and definitely, not on evidence establishing absolute certainty of guilt. It is obvious to this Court that petitioners insistent filing of numerous motions to inhibit the judge hearing the criminal cases and of motions to quash is a ploy to delay the proceedings, a reprehensible tactic that impedes the orderly administration of justice. If he is truly innocent, petitioner should bravely go to trial and prove his defense. After all, the purpose of preliminary investigation is merely to determine whether a crime has been committed and whether there is a probable cause to believe that the person accused of the crime is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial. A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely that not a crime has been committed and was committed by the suspect. Probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, neither on evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and definitely, not on evidence establishing absolute certainty of guilt.

GR No. 150276 February 12, 2008 CECILIA B. ESTINOZO, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, FORMER SIXTEENTH DIVISION, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Appeals; Certiorari; Pleadings and Practice; When appeal by certiorari is availed by a party, he or she effectively forecloses his or her right to resort to a special civil action for certiorari- a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 and a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 are mutually exclusive remedies; Certiorari cannot co-exist with an appeal or any other adequate remedy. Immediately apparent is that the petition is the wrong remedy to question the appellate courts issuances. Section 1 of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court expressly provides that a party desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution of the CA may file a verified petition for review on certiorari. Considering that, in this case, appeal by certiorari was available to petitioner, she effectively

foreclosed her right to resort to a special civil action for certiorari, a limited form of review and a remedy of last recourse, which lies only where there is no appeal or plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. A petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 and a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 are mutually exclusive remedies. Certiorari cannot co-exist with an appeal or any other adequate remedy. The nature of the questions of law intended to be raised on appeal is of no consequence. It may well be that those questions of law will treat exclusively of whether or not the judgment or final order was rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion. This is immaterial. The remedy is appeal, not certiorari as a special civil action. Same; Same; Same; The rule is that the 15-day reglementary period for appealing or filing a motion for reconsideration or new trial cannot be extended, except in cases before the Supreme Court, as one of last resort, which may, in its sound discretion grant the extension requested. Even granting arguendo that the instant certiorari petition is an appropriate remedy, still this Court cannot grant the writ prayed for because we find no grave abuse of discretion committed by the CA in the challenged issuances. The rule, as it stands now without exception, is that the 15-day reglementary period for appealing or filing a motion for reconsideration or new trial cannot be extended, except in cases before this Court, as one of last resort, which may, in its sound discretion grant the extension requested. This rule also applies even if the motion is filed before the expiration of the period sought to be extended. Thus, the appellate court correctly denied petitioners Motion for Extension of Time to File a Motion for Reconsideration. Same; Same; Certiorari is not a procedural device to deprive the winning party of the fruits of the judgment in his or her favor; When a decision becomes final and executory, the court loses jurisdiction over the case and not even an appellate court will have the power to review the said judgment. It is well to point out that with petitioners erroneous filing of a motion for extension of time and with her non-filling of a motion for reconsideration or a petition for review from the CAs decision, the challenged decision has already attained finality and may no longer be reviewed by this Court. The instant Rule 65 petition cannot even substitute for the lost appeal- certiorari is not a procedural device to deprive the winning party of the fruits of the judgment in his or her favor. When a decision becomes final and executory, the court loses jurisdiction over the case and not even an appellate court will have the power to review the said judgment. Otherwise, there will be no end to litigation and this will set to naught the main role of courts of justice to assist in the enforcement of the rule of law and the maintenance of peace and order by settling justiciable controversies with finality. Same; Same; Party-litigants and their lawyers are reminded to refrain from filing frivolous petitions for certiorari; The second and third paragraphs of Section 8 of Rule 65, as amended by A.M. No. 07-7-12-SC, now provide that the court may dismiss the petition for certiorari if it finds the same patently without merit or prosecuted manifestly for delay, or if the questions raised therein are too unsubstantial to require consideration. We remind party-litigants and their lawyers to refrain from filing frivolous petitions for certiorari. The 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of Section 8 of Rule 65, as amended by A.M. No. 07-7-12-SC, now provide that: x x x However, the court may dismiss the petition if it finds the same patently without merit or prosecuted manifestly for delay, or if the questions raised therein are too unsubstantial to require consideration. In such event, the court may award in favor of the respondent treble costs solidarily against the petitioner and counsel, in addition to subjecting counsel to administrative sanctions under Rules 139 and 139-B of the Rules of Court. The Court may impose motu proprio, based on res ipsa loquitor, other disciplinary sanctions or measures on erring lawyers for patently dilatory and unmeritorious petitions for certiorari.

GR No. 162739 February 12, 2008 AMA COMPUTER COLLEGE-SANTIAGO CITY, INC., petitioner, vs. CHELLY P. NACINO, substituted by the Heirs of Chelly P. Nacino, respondent.

Labor Law; Appeals; Pleadings and Practice; The decisions of the voluntary arbitrator under the Labor Code are appealable to the Court of Appeals under Rule 43 of the Revised Rules of procedure and not through petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court under Rule 65.- Pertinent is our ruling in Centro Escolar University Faculty and Allied Workers Union-Independent vs. Court of Appeals, 490 SCRA 61 (2006), where we held:

We find that the Court of Appeals did not err in holding that petitioner used a wrong remedy when it filed a special civil action on certiorari under Rule 65 instead of an appeal under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court held in Luzon Development Bank vs. Association of Luzon Development Bank Employees, 294 SCRA 162 (1995), that decisions of the voluntary arbitrator under the Labor Code are appealable to the Court of Appeals. In that case, the court observed that the Labor Code was silent as regards the appeals from the decisions of the voluntary arbitrator, unlike those of the Labor Arbiter which may be appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission. The Court noted, however, that the voluntary arbitrator is a government instrumentality within the contemplation of Section 9 of Batas Pambansa Blg. (BP) 129 which provides for the appellate jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. The decisions of the voluntary arbitrator are akin to those of the Regional Trial Court, and, therefore, should first be appealed to the Court of Appeals before being elevated to this court. This is in furtherance and consistent with the original purpose of Circular No. 1-91 to provide a uniform procedure for the appellate review of adjudications of all quasi-judicial agencies not expressly excepted from the coverage of Section 9 of BP 129. Circular No. 1-91 was later revised and became Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95. The Rules of Court Revision Committee incorporated said circular in Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The inclusion of the decisions of the voluntary arbitrator in the Rule was based on the Courts pronouncements in Luzon Development Bank vs. Association of Luzon Development Bank Employees. Petitioners argument, therefore, that the ruling in said case is inapplicable in this case is without merit. Same; Same; Same; Exceptions; While a petition for certiorari may be treated as having been filed under Rule 45, the petition filed beyond the 15-day reglementary period within which to file the Petition for review cannot be treated as such without exceptional circumstances.- We are not unmindful of instances when certiorari was granted despite the availability of appeal, such as (a) when public welfare and the advancement of public policy dictates; (b) when the broader interest of justice so requires; (c) when the writs issued are null and void; or (d) when the questioned order amounts to an oppressive exercise of judicial authority. However, none of these recognized exceptions attends the case at bar. AMA sadly failed to show circumstances that would justify a deviation from the general rule. While it is true that, in accordance with the liberal spirit which pervades the Rules of Court and in the interest of justice, a petition for certiorari may be treated as having been filed under Rule 45, the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner before the CA cannot be treated as such, without the exceptional circumstances mentioned above, because it was filed way beyond the 15-day reglementary period within which to file the Petition for Review. AMA received the assailed Decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator on April 15, 2003 and it filed the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 before the CA only on June 16, 2003. By parity of reasoning, the same reglementary period should apply to appeals taken from the decisions of Voluntary Arbitrators under Rule 43. Based on the foregoing disquisitions, the assailed Decision of the Voluntary Arbitrator had already become final and executory and beyond the purview of this Court to act upon. Procedural Rules and Technicalities; Rules of procedure exist for a noble purpose, and to disregard such rules in the guise of liberal construction would be to defeat such purpose- procedural rules are not to be disdained as mere technicalities; Public order and our system of justice are well served by a conscientious observance by the parties of the procedural rules.- Rules of procedure exist for a noble purpose, and to disregard such rules in the guise of liberal construction would be to defeat such purpose. Procedural rules are not to be disdained as mere technicalities. They may not be ignored to suit the convenience of a party. Adjective law ensures the effective enforcement of substantive rights through the orderly and speedy administration of justice. Rules are not intended to hamper litigants or complicate litigation. But they help provide for a vital system of justice are well served by a conscientious observance by the parties of the procedural rules.

GR No. 160956 February 13, 2008

JOAQUIN QUIMPO, SR., substituted by Heirs of Joaquin Quimpo, Sr., petitioners, vs. CONSUELO ABAD VDA. DE BELTRAN, IRENEO ABAD, DANILO ABAD, MARITES ABAD, ANITA and HELEN ABAD, respondents. Remedial Law; Appeals; Certiorari; Well-entrenched is the rule that the supreme Courts role in a petition under Rule 45 is limited to reviewing or reversing errors of law allegedly committed by the appellate court; Factual findings of the trial court especially when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are conclusive on the parties.- Wellentrenched is the rule that the Supreme Courts role in a petition under Rule 45 is limited to reviewing or reversing errors of law allegedly committed by the appellate court. Factual findings of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are conclusive on the parties. Since such findings are generally not reviewable, this Court is not duty-bound to analyze and weigh all over again the evidence already considered in the proceedings below, unless the factual findings complained of are devoid of support from the evidence on record or the assailed judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts. Petitioners fail to convince us that the CA committed reversible error in affirming the trial court and in giving no weight to the pieces of evidence they presented.

GR No. 171124 February 13, 2008 ALEJANDRO NG WEE, petitioner, vs. MANUEL TANKIANSEE, respondent.

Remedial Law; Attachment; For a writ of attachment to issue under this rule, the applicant must sufficiently show the factual circumstances of the alleged fraud because fraudulent intent cannot be inferred from the debtors mere non-payment of the debt or failure to comply with his obligation. For a writ of attachment to issue under this rule, the applicant must sufficiently show the factual circumstances of the alleged fraud because fraudulent intent cannot be inferred from the debtors mere non-payment of the debt or failure to comply with his obligation. The applicant must then be able to demonstrate that the debtor has intended to defraud the creditor. Same; Same; The affidavit, being the foundation of the writ, must contain such particulars as to how the fraud imputed to respondent was committed for the court to decide whether or not to issue the writ. The affidavit, being the foundation of the writ, must contain such particulars as to how the fraud imputed to respondent was committed for the court to decide whether or not to issue the writ. Absent any statement of other factual circumstances to show that respondent, at the time of contracting the obligation, had a preconceived plan or intention not to pay, or without any showing of how respondent committed the alleged fraud, the general averment in the affidavit that respondent is an officer and director of Wincorp who allegedly connived with the other defendants to commit a fraud, is insufficient to support the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment. In the application for the writ under the said ground, compelling is the need to give a hint about what constituted the fraud and how it was perpetrated because established is the rule that fraud is never presumed. Verily, the mere fact that respondent is an officer and director of the company does not necessarily give rise to the inference that he committed a fraud or that he connived with the other defendants to commit a fraud. While under certain circumstances, courts may treat a corporation as a mere aggroupment of persons, to whom liability will directly attach, this is only done when the wrongdoing has been clearly and convincingly established. Same; Same; The rules governing its issuance are, therefore, strictly construed against the applicant . Let it be stressed that the provisional remedy of preliminary attachment is harsh and rigorous for it exposes the debtor to humiliation and annoyance. The rules governing its issuance are, therefore, strictly construed against the applicant, such that if the requisites for its grant are not shown to be all present, the court shall refrain from issuing it, for, otherwise, the court which issues it acts in excess of its jurisdiction. Likewise, the writ should not be abused to cause unnecessary prejudice. If it is wrongfully issued on the basis of false or insufficient allegations, it should at once be corrected. GR No. 155831 February 18, 2008 MA. LOURDES T. DOMINGO, petitioner, vs. ROGELIO I. RAYALA, respondent.

Forum Shopping; Words and Phrases; Elements. Forum shopping is an act of a party, against whom an adverse judgment or order has been rendered in one forum, of seeking and possibly securing a favorable opinion in another forum, of seeking and possibly securing a favorable opinion in another forum, other than by appeal or special civil action for certiorari. It consists of filing multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining a favorable judgment. There is forum shopping when the following elements concur (1) identity of the parties or, at least, of the parties who represent the same interest in both actions, (2) identity if the rights asserted and relief prayed for, as the latter is founded on the same set of facts; and (3) identity of the two preceding particulars such that any judgment rendered in the other action will amount to res judicata in the action under consideration or will constitute litis pendentia. GR No. 178881 February 18, 2008 SPOUSES ALEX and JULIE LAM, petitioners, vs. METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, respondent.

Mortgages; Foreclosure of Mortgages; Writ of Possession; The issuance of a writ of possession to a purchaser in a public auction is a ministerial act-after the consolidation of title in the buyers name for failure of the mortgagor to redeem the property, entitlement to the writ of possession becomes a matter of right . It is settled that the issuance of a writ of possession to a purchaser in a public auction is a ministerial act. After the consolidation of title in the buyers name for failure of the mortgagor to redeem the property, entitlement to the writ of possession becomes a matter of right. Its issuance to a purchaser in an extrajudicial foreclosure sale is merely a ministerial function. It is undisputed that herein petitioners failed to redeem the property within the redemption period and thereafter, ownership was consolidated in favor of herein respondent and a new certificate of title (TCT No. T-327605) was issued in its name. Thus, it was a purely ministerial duty for the trial court to issue a writ of possession in favor of herein respondent upon the latters filing of a petition. Same; Same; Same; A petition for a writ of possession is ex parte and summary in nature; The law does not require that a petition for a writ of possession may be granted only after documentary and testimonial evidence shall have been offered to and admitted by the courtas long as a verified petition states the facts sufficient to entitle the petitioner to the relief requested, the court shall issue the writ prayed for, the petitioner need not offer any documentary or testimonial evidence for the court to grant the petition. The nature of a petition for a writ of possession is explained in the case of Spouses Norberto Oliveros and Elvira Oliveros v. The Honorable Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 24, Bian, Laguna and Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company,[14] viz.: As to the nature of a petition for a writ of possession, it is well to state that the proceeding in a petition for a writ of possession is ex parte and summary in nature. It is a judicial proceeding brought for the benefit of one party only and without notice by the court to any person adverse of interest. It is a proceeding wherein relief is granted without giving the person against whom the relief is sought an opportunity to be heard. By its very nature, an ex parte petition for issuance of a writ of possession is a non-litigious proceeding authorized under Act No. 3135 as amended. It is not strictly speaking a judicial process as contemplated in Article 433 of the Civil Code. It is a judicial proceeding for the enforcement of one's right of possession as purchaser in a foreclosure sale. It is not an ordinary suit filed in court, by which one party "sues another for the enforcement of a wrong or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong." The law does not require that a petition for a writ of possession may be granted only after documentary and testimonial evidence shall have been offered to and admitted by the court. As long as a verified petition states the facts sufficient to entitle the petitioner to the relief requested, the court shall issue the writ prayed for. The petitioner need not offer any documentary or testimonial evidence for the court to grant the petition. Same; Same; Same; Regardless of whether or not there is a pending suit for annulment of the mortgage or of the foreclosure itself, the purchaser is entitled to a writ of possession, without prejudice to the ensuing outcome of the other proceeding. We note that the issue regarding the validity of the mortgage or its foreclosure is not a legal ground for refusing the issuance of a writ of possession. Regardless of whether or not there is a pending suit for annulment of the mortgage or of the foreclosure itself, the purchaser is entitled to a writ of possession, without prejudice to the ensuing outcome of the proceedings in Civil Case No. 30,216-2004.

GR No. 173908 February 26, 2008 ELEANOR C. MAGALANG, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS (Former Fourth Division), NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (3rd Division) and SUYEN CORPORATION, respondents.

Courts; Court of Appeals; Divisions; Judgments; The various divisions of the CA are, in a sense, coordinate courts, and, pursuant to the policy of judicial stability, a division of the appellate court should not interfere with the decision of the other divisions of the court, otherwise confusion will ensue and may seriously hinder the administration of justice. We note at the outset that the Ninth Division of the appellate court, CA-G.R. SP No. 75185, already affirmed the September 5, 2002 Decision of the NLRC that petitioner was illegally dismissed but modified the ruling and awarded backwages to the petitioner. Later, the Fourth Division of the CA, in CA G.R. SP No. 79408, rendered another decision inconsistent with the earlier ruling of its coordinate division. The Fourth Division merely affirmed the NLRC September 5, 2002 Decision, and did not award backwages to the petitioner. This conflict in the decisions of the different divisions of the appellate court would have been avoided had the two certiorari petitions been consolidated or had the Fourth Division, when apprised of the earlier ruling, remained consistent with the Ninth Divisions pronouncements. The various divisions of the CA are, in a sense, coordinate courts, and, pursuant to the policy of judicial stability, a division of the appellate court should not interfere with the decision of the other divisions of the court, otherwise confusion will ensue and may seriously hinder the administration of justice. Judgments; Established is the rule that when a decision becomes final and executory, the court loses jurisdiction over the case and not even an appellate court will have the power to review the said judgment. The Court notes further that no appeal was interposed to challenge the CAs decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 75185. The said decision declaring petitioner as illegally dismissed and entitled to backwage, therefore, already attained finality. Established is the rule that when a decision becomes final and executory, the court loses jurisdiction over the case and not even an appellate court will have the power to review the said judgment. Otherwise, there will be no end to litigation and will set to naught the main role of the courts of justice which is to assist in the enforcement of the rule of law and the maintenance of peace and order by settling justiciable controversies with finality. We have further stressed in prior cases that just as the losing party has the privilege to file an appeal within the prescribed period, so does the winner have the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the decision.

G.R. No. 161134 March 3, 2008 MANDAUE DINGHOW DIMSUM HOUSE, CO., INC. and/or HENRY UYTENGSU, petitioners, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION-FOURTH DIVISION, FELIX PACALDO, IMELDA MONTELLANO, LUZVIMINDA CUENCA, ANAMAY DELARMENTE, REMA RAMOS, PEDRO DAYAGMIL, SERINA CASQUEJO, RICKY NANO, ERWIN LIMATOG, LELIA ROSALES, RANULFO GENERAL, NESTOR CAMIA and ANESIA BLANCA, respondents.

Remedial Law; Certiorari; Motion for reconsideration; The well-established rule is that a motion for reconsideration is an indispensable condition before an aggrieved party can resort to the special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, exceptions. A motion for reconsideration of an assailed decision is deemed a plain and adequate remedy expressly available under the law. The well-established rule is that a motion for reconsideration is an indispensable condition before an aggrieved party can resort to the special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. The purpose of such rule is to afford the erring court or agency an opportunity to rectify the error/s it may have committed without the intervention of a higher court. The requisite motion is not only an expeditious remedy of an aggrieved party but it also obviates an improvident and unnecessary recourse to appellate proceedings. Failure to file a motion for reconsideration with the NLRC before availing oneself of the special civil action for certiorari is a fatal infirmity. However, this rule is subject to certain recognized exceptions, to wit: a) where the order is a patent nullity, as where the court a quo has no jurisdiction; b) where the questions raised in the certiorari proceedings have been duly raised and passed upon by the lower court, or are the same as those raised and passed upon in the lower

court; c) where there is an urgent necessity for the resolution of the question and any further delay would prejudice the interests of the Government or of the petitioner or the subject matter of the petition is perishable; d) where, under the circumstances, a motion for reconsideration would be useless; e) where petitioner was deprived of due process and there is extreme urgency for relief; f) where, in a criminal case, relief from an order of arrest is urgent and the granting of such relief by the trial court is improbable; g) where the proceedings in the lower court are a nullity for lack of due process; h) where the proceeding was ex parte or in which the petitioner had no opportunity to object; and, i) where the issue raised is one purely of law or where public interest is involved. Same; Same; Same; Instant case falls squarely within the first of the enumerated exceptions. The instant case falls squarely within the first of the enumerated exceptions because the NLRC decision dated March 12, 2003 is a patent nullity considering that the LA and the NLRC were devoid of any jurisdiction to alter or modify the NLRC Decision dated October 24, 2000, which already attained finality. Same; Same; Same; An order of execution which varies the tenor of the judgment or exceeds the terms thereof is a nullity. The Order and the Alias Writ of Execution issued by the LA are null and void for lack of jurisdiction and for altering the tenor of the NLRC decision dated October 24, 2000 which directed Mandaue Dinghow alone to pay the private respondents separation pay. The private respondents did not assail this ruling. Thus, the same became final and executory. Even granting that the NLRC committed a mistake in failing to indicate in the dispositive portion that Uytengsu was solidarily liable with Mandaue Dinghow, the correction which is substantial can no longer be allowed in this case because the judgment has already become final and executory. Our ruling in Industrial Management International Development Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, 331 SCRA 640, is instructive: It is an elementary principle of procedure that the resolution of the court in a given issue as embodied in the dispositive part of a decision or order is the controlling factor as to settlement of rights of the parties. Once a decision or order becomes final and executory, it is removed from the power or jurisdiction of the court which rendered it to further alter or amend it. It thereby becomes immutable and unalterable and any amendment or alteration which substantially affects a final and executory judgment is null and void for lack of jurisdiction, including the entire proceedings held for that purpose. An order of execution which varies the tenor of the judgment or exceeds the terms thereof is a nullity. GR No. 172816 March 3, 2008 VIOLETA ESPINO, petitioner, vs. NORMANDY P. AMORA and NELIA B. AMORA, doing business under the name of NBA Enterprises, respondents.

Remedial Law; Appeals: The well-entrenched rule that factual findings of the trial court especially when affirmed by the appellate court, are accorded the highest degree of respect and are considered conclusive between the parties upheld; The rule is not absolute and admits of exceptions. We uphold the well- entrenched rule that factual findings of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the appellate court, are accorded the highest degree of respect and are considered conclusive between the parties. The rule, however, is not absolute and admits of exceptions upon showing of highly meritorious circumstances, such as: (1) when the findings of the trial court are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when a lower court's inference from its factual findings is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts; (6) when the findings of fact are conclusions without the mention of specific evidence, or are contradicted by evidence on record. None of the laid down exceptions which would warrant as the assailed decision obtain herein. A.M. No. RTJ-07-2050 March 14, 2008 SPOUSES ARLEEN and LORNA OLIVEROS, complainants, vs. HONORABLE DIONISIO C. SISON, Acting Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 74, Antipolo City, respondent.

Courts; Actions; Administrative Cases; Forum Shopping; Since Complainants themselves admitted that they failed to inform this Court of the petition they filed before the Court of Appeals within five days after they learn[ed] that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, as provided by the rules, or in this case, after they themselves filed the latter case, they are directed to SHOW CAUSE, within TEN (10) DAYS from receipt of the Resolution, why they should not be cited for contempt for violation of Section 5, Rule 7 of the Revised Rules on Civil

Procedure. Complainants themselves admitted that they failed to inform this court of the petition they filed before the CA within five days after they learn[ed] that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, as provided by the Rules, or in this case, after they themselves filed the latter case. They, however, argue that they were not aware of such requirement. While that may have been true, their argument becomes untenable when seen in the light of their subsequent actions. The verification/ Certification of the Petition for Certiorari before the CA clearly shows that both complainants signed the same. Thus, they are presumed to have read its contents, or since they are supposedly assisted by counsel, that the latter explained the contents thereof. This should have already made them aware of the requirement to inform the Court of the filing of the case before the CA considering that in the latter case, they are praying for the nullification of the very same Order for which they were seeking administrative sanctions against respondent Judge before this Court. Yet even in the Petition for Review itself, they failed to disclose that they had already filed an administrative case against Judge Sison before this Court arising from the same order they were questioning therein. Thus, there appears a real possibility that the pernicious effect sought to be prevented by the rules requiring the Certification against Forum Shopping would arise. Accordingly, the complainants could be held liable for contempt of this Court. WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the MOTION FOR PARTIAL RECONSIDERATION is DENIED for lack of merit. On the other hand, complainant-spouses ARLEEN and LORNA OLIVEROS are hereby directed to SHOW CAUSE, within TEN (10) DAYS from receipt of this Resolution, why they should not be cited for contempt for violation of Section 5, Rule 7 of the Revised Rules on Civil Procedure. GR No. 136409 March 14, 2008 SUBHASH C. PASRICHA and JOSEPHINE A. PASRICHA, petitioners, vs. DON LUIS DISON REALTY, INC., respondent.

Actions; Ejectment; Parties; Corporation; The capacity of a corporation to institute and ejectment suit is not affected by the subsequent suspension and revocation of certificate of registration. We uphold the capacity of respondent company to institute the ejectment case. Although the Securities an Exchange Commission (SEC) suspended and eventually revoked respondent's certificate of registration on February 16, 1995, records show that it instituted the action for ejectment on December 15, 1993. Accordingly, when the case was commenced, its registration was not yet revoked. Besides, as correctly held by the appellate court, the SEC later set aside its earlier orders of suspension and revocation of respondent's certificate, rendering the issue moot an academic. Same; Same; Same; Same; Even if the corporate officer initially failed to show that she had the capacity to sign the verification and institute the ejectment case on behalf of the company, her act of immediately presenting the Secretary's Certificate confirming her authority to represent the company may be considered as substantial compliance and call for the relaxation of the rules of procedure for the interest of justice. We likewise affirm Ms. Bautista's capacity to sue on behalf of the company despite lack of proof of authority to so represent it. A corporation has no powers except those expressly conferred on it by the Corporation Code and those that are implied from or are incidental to its existence. In turn, a corporation exercises said powers through its board of directors and/or its duly authorized officers and agents. Physical acts, like signing of documents, can be performed only by natural persons duly authorized for the purpose by corporate by-laws or by a specific act of the board of directors. Thus, any person suing on behalf of the corporation should present proof of such authority. Although Ms. Bautista initially failed to show that she had the capacity to sign the verification and institute the ejectment case on behalf of the company, when confronted with such question, she immediately presented the Secretary's Certificate confirming authority to represent the company. There is ample jurisprudence holding that subsequent and substantial compliance may call for the relaxation of the rules of procedure in the interest of justice. Judges; Inhibition and Disqualification of Judges; It is settled that a motion to inhibit shall be denied if filed after a member of the court had already given an opinion on the merits of the case, the rationale being that a litigant cannot be permitted to speculate on the action of the court x x x (only to) raise an objection of this sort after the decision has been rendered; It is the policy of the Court not to tolerate acts of litigants who, for just about any conceivable reason, seek to disqualify a judge (or justice) for their own purpose, under a plea of bias, hostility, prejudice or prejudgment. As to the denial of the motion to inhibit Justice Reyes, we find the same to be in order. First, the motion to inhibit came after the appellate court rendered the assailed decision, that is, after Justice Reyes had already rendered his opinion on the merits of the case. It is settled that a motion to inhibit shall be denied if filed after a member of the court had already given an opinion on the merits of the case, the rationale being that a litigant

cannot be permitted to speculate on the action of the court x x x (only to) raise an objection of this sort after the decision has been rendered. Second, it is settled that mere suspicion that a judge is partial to one of the parties is not enough; there should be evidence to substantiate the suspicion. Bias and prejudice cannot be presumed, especially when weighed against a ju8dge's sacred pledge under his oath of office to administer justice without regard for any person and to do right equally to the poor and the rich. There must be a showing of bias and prejudice stemming from an extrajudicial source, resulting in an opinion on the merits based on something other than what the judge learned from his participation in the case. We would like to reiterate, at this point, the policy of the Court not to tolerate acts of litigants who, for just about any conceivable reason, seek to disqualify a judge (or justice) for their own purpose, under a plea of bias, hostility, prejudice or prejudgment. Ejectment; Unlawful Detainer; Requisites. Unlawful detainer cases are summary in nature. In such cases, the elements to be proved and resolved are the fact of release and the expiration or violation of its terms. Specifically, the essential requisites of unlawful detainer are: 1) the fact of lease by virtue of a contract, express or implied; 2) the expiration or termination of the possessor's right to hold possession; 3) withholding by the lessee of possession of the land or building after the expiration or termination of the right to possess; 4) letter of demand upon lessee to pay the rental or comply with the terms of the lease and vacate the premises; and 5) the filing of the action within one year from the date of the last demand received by the defendant. Appeals; It is settled doctrine that in a civil case, the conclusions of fact of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are final and conclusive, and cannot be reviewed on appeal by the Supreme Court. The only contentious issue is whether there was indeed a violation of the terms of the contract: on the part of petitioners, whether they failed to pay the stipulated rent without justifiable cause; while on the part of respondent, whether it prevented petitioners from occupying the lease premises except Room 35. This issue involves questions of fact, the resolution of which requires the evaluation of the evidence presented. The MeTC, the RTC and the CA all found that petitioners failed to perform their obligation to pay the stipulated red. It is settled doctrine that in a civil case, the conclusions of fact of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are final and conclusive, and cannot be reviewed in appeal by the Supreme Court. Albeit the rule admits of exception, not one of the, obtains in this case. Ejectment; Unlawful Detainer; Consignation; Interpleader; words and Phrases; Not knowing to whom to pay the rentals does not justify the failure of the lessees to pay because they are not without remedy they should avail of the provision of the Civil Code on interpleader; Consignation shall be made by depositing the things due at the disposal of a judicial authority, before whom the tender of payment shall be proved in a proper case, and the announcement of the consignation in other cases. What was, instead, clearly established by the evidence was petitioners' non-payment of rentals because ostensibly they did not know to whom payment should be made. However, this does not justify their failure to pay, because if such were the case, they were not without any remedy. They should have failed of the provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines on the consignation of payment and the Rules of Court on interpleader. Article 1256 of the Civil Code provides: Article 1256. If the creditor to whom tender of payment has been made refuses without just cause to accept it, the debtor shall be released from responsibility by the consignation of the thing or sum due. Consignation alone shall produce the same effect in the following cases: x x x x (4) When two or more persons claim the same right to collect; x x x x. Consignation shall be made by deposition whom the tender of payment shall be proved in a proper case, and the announcement of the consignation in other cases. Consignation; The rationale for consignation is to avoid the performance of an obligation becoming more onerous to the debtor by reason of causes not imputable to him. In the instant case, consignation alone would have produced the effect of payment of the rentals. The rationale for consignation is to avoid the performance of an obligation becoming more onerous to the debtor by reason of cause not imputable to him. Petitioners claim that they made a written tender of payment and actually prepared vouches for their monthly rentals. But that was insufficient to constitute a valid tender of payment. Even assuming that it was valid tender, still, it would not constitute payment for want of consignation of the amount. Well-settled is the rule that tender of payment must be accompanied by consignation in order that the effects of payment may be produced. Interpleader; an action for interpleader is proper when the lessee does not know whom payment of rentals should be made due to conflicting claims on the property (or on the right to collect). Section 1, Rule 62 of the Rules of Court provides: Section 1. When interpleader proper. Whenever conflicting claims upon the same subject matter are or may be made against a person who claims no interest whatever in the subject matter, or an interest which in whole or in part is not disputed by the claimants, he may bring an action against the conflicting claimants to compel

them to interplead and litigate their several claims among themselves. Otherwise stated, an action for interpleader is proper when the lessee does not know to whom payment of rentals should be made due to conflicting claims on the property (or on the right to collect). The remedy is afforded not to protect a person against double liability but to protect him against double vexation in respect of one liability. Ejectment; Unlawful Detainer; Where there is nothing in the contract which would lead to the conclusion that the lease of one or more rooms was to be made dependent upon the lease of all the nine (9) rooms, the use of each room by the lessee gave rise to the corresponding obligation to pay the monthly rental for the same. Neither can petitioners validly invoke the non-delivery of Rooms 36, 37 and 38 as a justification for non-payment of rentals. Although the two contracts embraced the lease of nine (9) rooms, the terms of the contracts with their particular reference to specific rooms and the monthly rental for each easily raise the inference that the parties intended the lease of each room separate from that of the others. There is nothing in the contract which would lead to the conclusion that the lease of one or more rooms was to be made dependent upon the lease of all the nine (9) rooms. Accordingly, the use of each room by the lessee gave rise to the corresponding obligation to pay the monthly rental for the same. Notably, respondent demanded payment of rentals only for the rooms actually delivered to, and used by, petitioners. GR No. 147065 March 14, 2008 JUANITO CHAN y LIM, a.k.a. ZHANG ZHENTING, petitioner, vs. SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, PABLO C. FORMARAN III and PRESIDENTIAL ANTI-ORGANIZED CRIME TASK FORCE, represented by PO3 DANILO L. SUMPAY, respondents.

Criminal Procedure; Crespo vs. Mogul, 151 SCRA 462 (1987), subsists and was not superseded by Allado vs. Diokno, 232 SCRA 192 (1994) Allado, which was punctuated by inordinate eagerness in the gathering of evidence and in the preliminary investigation, serves as an exception and may not be invoked unless similar circumstances are clearly shown to exist. Contrary to petitioners view, Crespo subsists and was not superseded by Allado. Allado, which was punctuated by inordinate eagerness in the gathering of evidence and in the preliminary investigation, serves as an exception and may not be invoked unless similar circumstances are clearly shown to exist. No such circumstances were established in the present case. Same; Crespo does not bar the Secretary of Justice from reviewing the findings of the investigating prosecutor in the exercise of his power of control over his subordinates the Justice Secretary is merely advised, as far as practicable, to refrain from entertaining a petition for review for the prosecutors finding when the information is already filed in court. In Crespo, the Court laid down the rule that once an information is filed in court, any disposition of the cases rests on the sound discretion of the court. In subsequent cases, the Court clarified that Crespo does not bar the Justice Secretary from reviewing the findings of the investigating prosecutor in the exercise of his power of control over his subordinates. The Justice Secretary is merely advised, as far as practicable, to refrain from entertaining a petition for review of the prosecutors findings when the Information is already filed in court. In other words, the power or authority of the Justice Secretary to review the prosecutors finding even after the Information is filed in court. The court, however, is not bound by the Resolution of the Justice Secretary, but must evaluate it before proceeding with the trial. While the ruling of the Justice Secretary is persuasive, it is not binding on courts. Same; Certiorari; A petition for certiorari may still be availed of even if there is an available remedy, when such remedy does not appear to be plain, speedy, and adequate in the ordinary course of law; There are many authorities that subscribe to the view that it is the inadequacy, and not the mere absence, of all other legal remedies, and the danger of a failure of justice without it, that must usually determine the propriety of the writ. The CA, likewise opined the filing of the petition for certiorari was improper since petitioner still had an available remedy, that is, to file a motion to dismiss or to quash the information with the trial court. We do not agree. A petition for certiorari may still be availed of even if there is an available remedy, when such remedy does not appear to be plain, speedy, and adequate in the ordinary course of law. The following excerpt from Land Bank of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals is instructive The determination as to what exactly constitutes a plain, speedy and adequate remedy rests on judicial discretion and depends on the particular circumstances of each case. There are many authorities that subscribe to the view that it is the inadequacy, and not the mere absence, of all other legal remedies, and the danger of a failure of justice without it, that must usually determine the propriety of the writ. An adequate remedy is

a remedy which is equally beneficial, speedy and sufficient, not merely a remedy which at some time in the future will bring about a revival of the judgment of the lower court complained of in the certiorari proceeding, but a remedy which would promptly relieve the petitioner from the injurious effects of that judgment and the acts of the inferior court, tribunal, board or officer. Same; Probable Cause; Words and Phrases; Probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, as the investigating officer acts upon reasonable belief- probable cause implies probability of guilt and requires more than bare suspicion but less than evidence which would justify a conviction. Probable cause has been defined as the existence of such facts and circumstances as would lead a person of ordinary caution and prudence to entertain an honest and strong suspicion that the person charged is guilty of the crime subject of the investigation. Being based merely on opinion and reasonable belief, it does not import absolute certainty. Probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, as the investigating officer acts upon reasonable belief. Probable cause implies probability of guilt and requires more than bare suspicion but less than evidence which would justify a conviction. Same; Same; Illegal Sale of Prohibited Drugs; Elements; A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed by the suspect. In the case at bench, petitioner is charged with illegal sale of a prohibited drug. A successful prosecution of this offense requires the concurrence of the following elements: (1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. To our mind, the documentary and object evidence submitted to the State Prosecutor, particularly the Joint Affidavit of Arrest, the 935.80 grams of shabu, and the buybust money sufficiently establish the existence of probable cause against petitioner for the crime charged. After all, a finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed by the suspect. Unless there is a clear and convincing evidence that the members of the buy-bust team were impelled by any improper motive, or were not properly performing their duties, their testimonies on the operation deserve full faith and credit. Same; Same; Same; Bias and partiality can never be presumed-the mere fact that the handling State Prosecutor was also a member of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) is insignificant as the now defunct PAOCTF was created to investigate and prosecute all crime syndicates, and it was a convergence and collaboration of the different agencies of the government, including the Philippine National Police and the Department of Justice. The allegation that the State Prosecutor was not impartial in conducting the preliminary investigation is merely speculative a bare allegation unworthy of credence. Such accusation is worthless in light of our finding that there is, indeed, probable cause against petitioner. Moreover, bias and partiality can never be presumed. The mere fact that State Prosecutor Formaran was also a member of the PAOCTF is insignificant. The now defunct PAOCTF was created to investigate and prosecute all crime syndicates. It was a convergence and collaboration of the different agencies of the government, including the Philippine National Police and the DOJ. Unsupported statements of partiality will not suffice in the absence of contrary evidence that will overcome the presumption that the State Prosecutor regularly performed his duty. Same; Same; Same; Buy-Bust Operations; Frame-Ups; While the Court is aware that in some cases, law enforcers resort the practice of planting evidence in order to, inter alia, harass, nevertheless the defense of frame-up in drug cases requires strong and convincing evidence because of the presumption that the police officers performed their duties regularly and that they acted within the bounds of their authority. Petitioners allegation of frame-up and extortion is evidentiary in nature, and are matters for his defense. Evidentiary matters must be presented and heard during the trial. They are best left for the trial court to evaluate and resolve after a full-blown trial on the merits. In any case, it is well to note the Courts stance on such defense: This Court is, of course, aware that in some cases, law enforcers resort to the practice of planting evidence in order to, inter alia, harass. But the defense of frame-up in drug cases requires strong and convincing evidence because of the presumption that the police officers performed their duties regularly and that they acted within the bounds of their authority. Besides, the defense of denial or frame-up, like alibi, is viewed with disfavor for it can just as easily be concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in most prosecutions for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. Bail; While the Supreme Court recognizes the courts authority to grant bail in cases involving capital offenses after a determination that evidence of guilt is not strong, it urges them, however, to be circumspect in exercising such discretion. As a final note, on September 4, 2001, while the case was pending before this Court, petitioner was arraigned, and pleaded not guilty. Thereafter, petitioner filed a motion for bail which was granted by Judge Emilio L. Leachon, Jr., Presiding Judge of RTC Quezon City, Branch 224. The bail bond was fixed at P100,000.00. On

March 7, 2003, the RTC ordered the release of petitioner upon payment of such amount. We recognize the courts authority to grant bail in cases involving capital offenses after a determination that evidence of guilt is not strong. But we urge them to be circumspect in exercising such discretion. In this case, it is glaring that the bail bond fixed by the RTC was exceedingly low considering that the crime charged is illegal sale of prohibited drug punishable by reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from P500,000.00 to P10 million, with the risk of flight extremely high, the petitioner being a Chinese citizen. However, upon verification from the Office of the Court Administrator, we found out that Judge Leachon, Jr. had already retired on October 13, 2003; hence, he may no longer be called to account disciplinarily for this apparent transgression. GR No. 169314 March 14, 2008 PNB-REPUBLIC BANK (now known as Maybank Philippines, Inc.), petitioner, vs. SPOUSES JOSE and SALVACION CORDOVA, respondents.

Appeals; Where a party had earlier perfected its appeal, it did not need file a second notice of appeal even if the trial court granted, as it did, the other partys motion for reconsideration and modified the decision to increase the monetary award. Petitioners appeal is deemed perfected as to [it] when it timely filed its first notice of appeal, following Section 9, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court. Incidentally, this perfected appeals is not docketed with the CA, because the trial court, which was still to resolve respondents motion for reconsideration, had not yet transmitted the records of the case to the appellate court. Incumbent, nonetheless, on the part of the RTC is the elevation of the records after a resolution of the merits of respondents motion. Its appeal having perfected, petitioner did not need to file a second notice of appeal even if the trial court granted, as it did, the other partys motion for reconsideration and modified the decision to increase the monetary award. Same; The filing of a second notice of appeal from the modified decision is a superfluity, if not a useless ceremony. An essential and logical implication of the said rule is that the filing of a second notice of appeal from the modified decision is a superfluity, if not a useless ceremony. It, therefore, matters no longer whether that second notice is timely filed or not. Hence, in this case, petitioners filing of a belated second notice of appeal does not affect or foreclose its already perfected appeal. Same; When the appeal is perfected as to a partys filing of the first notice in due time, the trial court, insofar as said party is concerned, loses its jurisdiction over the case except to issue orders for the protection and preservation of the rights to the parties which do not involve any matter litigated by the appeal. Respondents want the Court to depart from the aforesaid rule because, in this case, petitioner, in effect, abandoned its perfected appeal when it filed a motion for reconsideration of the order modifying the decision. The Court does not agree. Petitioners filing of the said motion does not have the effect of the waiver of the appeal, and, like the second notice, is a pointless formality which does not prejudice the already perfected appeal. When the appeal is perfected as to petitioners filing of the first notice in due time, the trial court, insofar as the petitioner is concerned, loses jurisdiction over the case except to issue orders for the protection and preservation of the rights of the parties which do not involve any matter litigated by the appeal. Obviously, the issue of the correctness of the decision is the subject of the perfected appeal. The trial court no longer had jurisdiction to reverse the February 18, 2002 Decision, as modified by July 2, 2002 Order, which would have meant petitioners abandonment of its appeal. In fact, to paraphrase the words of remedial law expert Justice Florenz Regalado, petitioner, with its appeal already perfected, cannot withdraw the same for the purpose of reviving the jurisdiction of the trial court and enabling it to take another course of action calling for the exercise of that jurisdiction. This is because by filing the notice of appeal, petitioner insofar as it is concerned has perfected its appeal to the CA, and it should be in that court where he may pursue any further remedy. A.M. No. P-08-2442 March 28, 2008 BONIFACIO OBRERO, complainant, vs. ATTY. MA. VICTORIA A. ACIDERA, Clerk of Court, Branch 13, Regional Trial Court, Laoag City, respondent.

Courts. Court Personnel; Clerk of Court; Motions; Where the motion is directed to the clerk of court, not to parties, and merely states that the same is to be submitted for the resolution of the court upon receipt thereof, such a motion is fatally defective, and a clerk of court who accepts the filing of such a fatally defective motion and submits

the same to the judgment of the court is guilty of violating a basic procedural requirement. It is an elementary rule of procedure that any motion which does not comply with the above procedural requisite is a mere scrap of paper, should not be accepted for filing and, if filed, is not entitled to judicial cognizance. As such, it produces no effect on the reglementary period for the filing of the required pleading. Thus, where the motion I directed to the clerk of court, not to the parties, and merely states that the same is to be submitted for the resolution of the court upon receipt thereof, such a motion is fatally defective. Any subsequent action of the court thereon will not cure the flaw, for a motion with a fatally defective notice is a useless piece of paper. To comply with the requirement of notice, as part and parcel of procedural due process, it is necessary that all motions be addressed to all parties concerned. This is a mandatory requirement, and the failure of the movant to comply with this requisite is fatal. Accordingly, a clerk of court who accepts the filing of a fatally defective motion and submits the same to the judgment of the court is equally guilty of violating a basic procedural requirement. Same; Same; Same; Same; Ignorance of the Law; The Clerk of Courts compliance with the Rules of Court is not merely directory, but mandatory; A clerk of courts evident disregard of an elementary rule of procedure makes her administratively liable for ignorance of the law. The Clerk of Courts compliance with the Rules of Court is not merely directory, but mandatory. He is expected to know the rules of procedure, particularly those rules that pertain to his functions as an officer of the court. Thus, as correctly pointed out by the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), respondents evident disregard of an elementary rule of procedure makes her administratively liable for ignorance of the law. Since the motions in question were mere scraps of paper for want of the required notice, they must be deemed, for all legal intents and purposes, as if they were not filed. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; While it is true that the duty of a clerk of court does not involve the determination of law or fact or the exercise of judicial powers, and is generally administrative or ministerial in nature, she still assumes the responsibility to observe ordinary prudence in the performance of her duties; Knowledge as to form of pleading as and motions is a skill required of a clerk of court of a regional trial court. Atty. Acideras justification that she has no authority to deny the filing of the motions, as it would supplant the power of the judge to act on the same, does not persuade. While it is true that the duty of a clerk of court does not involve the determination of law or fact or the exercise of judicial powers, and is generally administrative or ministerial in nature, she still assumes the responsibility to observe ordinary prudence in the performance of her duties. That diligence calls for her to verify if the pleadings submitted to her for the judgment of the court comply with the minimum procedural requirements. Such determination is not an exercise of discretion or judgment but an administrative act in aid of the speedy disposition of cases. Clerks of court must be individuals of competence, honesty and probity. They play a key role in the court and, thus, cannot be permitted to slacken on their jobs under one pretext or another. Knowledge as to form of pleading as and motions is a skill required of a clerk of court of a regional trial court. The RTCs general jurisdiction calls for an efficient clerk of court, an attorney, who is presumed to know the law and the Rues of Court so that the court may effectively administer justice. Atty. Acidera has certainly been inefficient in the performance of even the simplest duty. GR No. 136972 March 28, 2008 HEIRS OF VICTORIANA VILLAGRACIA represented by GREGORIO, EXEQUIEL and CLARA, all surnamed RAMIREZ; et. al. petitioners, vs. EQUITABLE BANKING CORPORATION, METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, et. al. respondents.

Actions; Pleadings and practice; Procedural Rules and Technicalities; it is far better to dispose of the case on the merits, which is a primordial end, rather than on a technicality that may result in injustice. In the instant case, we are of the view that the ends of justice will be better served if it is determined on the merits, after full opportunity is given to all parties for ventilation of their causes and defenses, rather than on technicality or some procedural imperfections. It is far better to dispose of the case on the merits, which is a primordial end, rather than on a technicality that may result in injustice. While it is desirable that the Rules of Court be faithfully observed, courts should not be too strict with procedural lapses that do not really impair the proper administration of justice. The rules are intended to ensure the proper and orderly conduct of litigation because of the higher objective they seek, which is the attainment of justice and the protection of substantive rights of the parties. Same; Same; Same; Appeals; Petitioners failure to file the appeal brief within the extended period may have been rendered excusable by force of circumstances-petitioners had to change their counsel because he was appointed

judge, and, their new counsel had to go over six (6) volumes of the records of the case to be able to file an intelligent brief; Dismissal of appeals on purely technical grounds is not encouraged-the rules of procedure ought not to be applied in a very rigid and technical sense, for they have been adopted to help secure, not override, substantial justice. In the case at bench, without touching on the merits of the case, there appears a good and efficient cause to warrant the suspension of the rules. Petitioners failure to file the appeal brief within the extended period may have been rendered excusable by force of circumstances. Petitioners had to change their counsel because he was appointed judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court. Their new counsel had to go over the six (6) volumes of the records of the case to be able to file an intelligent brief. This, a few days of delay in the filing of the motion for extension may be justified. In addition, no material injury was suffered by the appellees by reason of the delay in the filing of the brief. Dismissal of appeals on purely technical grounds is not encouraged. The rules of procedure ought not to be applied in a very rigid and technical sense, for they have been adopted to help secure, not override, substantial justice. Judicial action must be guided by the principle that a party-litigant should be given the fullest opportunity to establish the merits of his complaint or defense rather than for him to lose life, liberty, honor or property on technicalities. When a rigid application of the rules tends to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, this Court is empowered to suspend their operation. GR No. 160855 April 16, 2008 CONCEPCION CHUA GAW, petitioner, vs. SUY BEN CHUA and FELISA CHUA, respondents.

Remedial Law; Evidence; Adverse Witnesses; The rule is that the plaintiff must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not upon the weakness of the defendants evidence; Preponderance of evidence is determined by considering all the facts and circumstances of the case, culled from the evidence regardless of who actually presented it. The delineation of a piece of evidence as part of the evidence of one party or the other is only significant in determining whether the party on whose shoulders lies the burden of proof was able to meet the quantum of evidence needed to discharge the burden. In civil cases, that burden devolves upon the plaintiff who must establish her case by preponderance of evidence. The rule is that the plaintiff must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not upon the weakness of the defendants evidence. Thus, it barely matters who with a piece of evidence is credited. In the end, the court will have to consider the entirety of the evidence presented by both parties. Preponderance of evidence is then determined by considering all the facts and circumstances of the case, culled from the evidence, regardless of who actually presented it. Same; Same; Same; Under a rule permitting the impeachment of an adverse witness, although the calling party does not vouch for the witness veracity, he is nonetheless bound by his testimony if it is not contradicted or remains unrebutted. That the witness is the adverse party does not necessarily mean that the calling party will not be bound by the formers testimony. The fact remains that it was at his instance that his adversary was put on the witness stand. Unlike an ordinary witness, the calling party may impeach an adverse witness in all respects as if he had been called by the adverse party, except by evidence of his bad character. Under a rule permitting the impeachment of an adverse witness, although the calling party does not vouch for the witness veracity, he is nonetheless bound by his testimony if it is not contradicted or remains unrebutted. Same; Same; Same; A party who calls his adversary as a witness is, therefore, not bound by the latters testimony only in the sense that he may contradict him by introducing other evidence to prove a state of facts contrary to what the witness testifies on. A party who calls his adversary as a witness is, therefore, not bound by the latters testimony only in the sense that he may contradict him by introducing other evidence to prove a state of facts contrary to what the witness testifies on. A rule that provides that the party calling an adverse witness shall not be bound by his testimony does not mean that such testimony may not be given its proper weight, but merely that the calling party shall not be precluded from rebutting his testimony or from impeaching him. This, the petitioner failed to do. Same; Same; Best Evidence Rule; A notarized document carries evidentiary weight as to its due execution, and documents acknowledged before a notary public have in their favor the presumption of regularity. It is also worthy to note that both the Deed of Partition and the Deed of Sale were acknowledged before a Notary Public. The notarization of a private document converts it into a public document, and makes it admissible in court without further proof of its authenticity. It is entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. A notarized document carries evidentiary weight as to its due execution, and documents acknowledged before a notary public have in their favor

the presumption of regularity. Such a document must be given full force and effect absent a strong, complete and conclusive proof of its falsity or nullity on account of some flaws or defects recognized by law. A public document executed and attested through the intervention of a notary public is, generally, evidence of the facts therein express in clear unequivocal manner. Same; Same; Same; The best evidence rule as encapsulated in Rule 130, Section 3, of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure applies only when the content of such document is the subject of the inquiry. The best evidence rule as encapsulated in Rule 130, Section 3, of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure applies only when the content of such document is the subject of the inquiry. Where the issue is only as to whether such document was actually executed, or exists, or on the circumstances relevant to or surrounding its execution, the best evidence rule does not apply and testimonial evidence is admissible. Any other substitutionary evidence is likewise admissible without need to account for the original. Moreover, production of the original may be dispensed with, in the trial courts discretion, whenever the opponent does not bona fide dispute the contents of the document and no other useful purpose will be served by requiring production. GR No. 161390 April 16, 2008 RAUL H. SESBREO, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, PROVINCE OF CEBU, GOV. EDUARDO R. GULLAS, THE PROVINCIAL TREASURER, THE PROVINCIAL AUDITOR, THE PROVINCIAL ENGINEER PATROCINIO BACAY (sued both in their official and personal capacities), respondents.

Courts; Judges; The court, under 1987 Constitution, is now mandated to decide or resolve the case or matter submitted to it for determination within specified periods; Even when there is delay and mo decision or resolution is made within prescribed period, there is no automatic affirmance of the appealed decision. Petitioner insists that the CA should have affirmed the trial courts decision in view of the delay in resolving the case, and should have denied the appeal because of the formal defects in the appellants brief. Petitioner cites the cases of Malacora v. Court of Appeals, 117 SCRA 435 (1982) and Flora v. Pajarillaga, 95 SCRA 100 (1980) where this Court held that an appealed case which had been pending beyond the time fixed by the Constitution should be "deemed affirmed." We cannot apply the cited cases to the one at bench because they were decided on the basis of Section 11 (2), Article X of the 1973 Constitution, x x x That provision is not found in the present Constitution. The court, under the 1987 Constitution, is now mandated to decide or resolve the case or matter submitted to it for determination within specified periods. Even when there is delay and no decision or resolution is made within the prescribed period, there is no automatic affirmance of the appealed decision. The appellate court, therefore, cannot be faulted in not affirming the RTCs decision. While we do not tolerate delay in the disposition of cases, we cannot dismiss appealed cases solely because they had been pending in court for a long period, especially when the appeal is highly meritorious as in the present case.

GR No. 163684 April 16, 2008 FAUSTINA CAMITAN and DAMASO LOPEZ, petitioners, vs. FIDELITY INVESTMENT CORPORATION, respondent.

Remedial Law; Evidence; Admissions; A judicial admission is an admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case, which dispenses with the need for proof with respect to the matter or fact admitted; It may be contradicted only by a showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made. The foregoing transcript of the preliminary conference indubitably shows that counsel for petitioners made a judicial admission and failed to refute that admission during the said proceedings in the same case, which dispenses with the need for proof with respect to the matter or fact admitted. It may be contradicted only by a showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made. GR No. 140944 April 30, 2008

RAFAEL ARSENIO S. DIZON, in his capacity as the Judicial Administrator of the Estate of the deceased JOSE P. FERNANDEZ, petitioner, vs. COURT OF TAX APPEALS and COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.

Remedial Law; Evidence; No evidentiary value can be given the pieces of evidence submitted by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), as the rules on documentary evidence require that these documents must be formally offered before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA). Under Section 8 of RA 1125, the CTA is categorically described as a court of record. As cases filed before it are litigated de novo, party litigants shall prove every minute aspect of their cases. Indubitably, no evidentiary value can be given the pieces of evidence submitted by the BIR, as the rules on documentary evidence require that these documents must be formally offered before the CTA. Pertinent is Section 34, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence which reads: SEC. 34. Offer of evidence. The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specific. Same; Same; Courts cannot consider evidence which has not been formally offered; Doctrine laid down in Vda. de Oate still subsists in this jurisdiction; Vda. De Oate is merely an exception to the general rule; Being an exception, it may be applied only when there is strict compliance with the requisites mentioned therein. The CTA and the CA rely solely on the case of Vda. de Oate, 250 SCRA 283 (1995), which reiterated this Courts previous rulings in People v. Napat-a, 179 SCRA 403 (1989), and People v. Mate, 103 SCRA 484 (1981), on the admission and consideration of exhibits which were not formally offered during the trial. Although in a long line of cases, many of which were decided after Vda. De Oate, we held that courts cannot consider evidence which has not been formally offered, nevertheless, petitioner cannot validly assume that the doctrine laid down in Vda. de Oate has already been abandoned. Recently, in Ramos v. Dizon, 498 SCRA 17 (2006), this court, applying the said doctrine, ruled that the trial court judge therein committed no error when he admitted and considered the respondents exhibits in the resolution of the case, notwithstanding the fact that the same were not formally offered. Likewise, in Far East Bank & Trust Company v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 502 SCRA 87 (2006), the court made reference to said doctrine in resolving the issue therein. Indubitably, the doctrine laid down in Vda. de Oate still subsists in this jurisdiction. In Vda. de Oate, we held that: x x x However, in People v. Napat-a [179 SCRA 403] citing People v. Mate [103 SCRA 484], we relaxed the foregoing rule and allowed evidence not formally offered to be admitted and considered by the trial court provided the following requirements are present, viz.: first, the same must have been duly identified by testimony duly recorded and, second, the same must have been incorporated in the records of the case. From the foregoing declaration, however, it is clear that Vda. de Oate is merely an exception to the general rule. Being an exception, it may be applied only when there is strict compliance with the requisites mentioned therein; otherwise, the general rule in Section 34 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court should prevail. GR No. 160671 April 30, 2008 LUIS L. CO, petitioner, vs. HON. RICARDO R. ROSARIO, in his capacity as the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 66, Makati City, ELIZABETH RACHEL CO, ASTRID MELODY CO-LIM, GENEVIEVE CO-CHUN, CAROL CO, KEVIN CO, EDWARD CO and the ESTATE OF LIM SEE TE, respondents.

Settlements of Estates; Special Administrators; Settled is the rule that the selection or removal of regular administrators; Courts may appoint or remove special administrators based on grounds other than those enumerated in the Rules; The exercise of such direction must be based on reason, equity, justice, and legal principles. We affirm the appellate courts ruling that the trial court did not act with grave abuse of discretion in the revoking Alvins appointment as special co-administrator. Settled is the rule that the selection or removal of special administrators is not governed by the rules regarding the selection or removal of special administrators. Courts may appoint or remove special administrators based on grounds other than those enumerated in the Rules, at their discretion. As long as the said discretion is exercised without grave abuse, higher courts will not interfere with it. This, however, is no authority for the judge to become partial, or to male his personal likes and dislikes prevail over, or his passions to rule, his judgment. The exercise of such discretion must be based on reason, equity, justice and legal principles.

Same; Same; The special administrator is an officer of the court who is subject to its supervision and control and who is expected to work for the best interest of the entire estate, especially with respect to its smooth administration and earliest settlement. Even if a special administrator had already been appointed, once the court finds the appointee no longer entitled to its confidence, it is justified in withdrawing no longer entitled to its confidence, it is justified in withdrawing the appointment and giving no valid effect thereto. The special administrator is an officer of the court who is subject to its supervision and control and who is expected to work for the best interest of the entire estate, especially with respect to its smooth administration and earliest settlement. Same; Same; Court directs the trial court to proceed with the appointment of a regular administrator as soon as practicable. As a final note, the Court observes that the prolonged litigation on the simple issue of the removal of a special co-administrator could have been avoided if the trial court promptly appointed a regular administrator. We, therefore, direct the trial court to proceed with the appointment of a regular administrator as soon as practicable. GR No. 164805 April 30, 2008 SOLIDBANK CORPORATION, NOW KNOWN AS METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, petitioner, vs. GATEWAY ELECTRONICS CORPORATION, JAIME M. HIDALGO AND ISRAEL MADUCDOC, respondents.

Remedial law; Evidence; Modes of Discovery; Rule 27 of the Revised Rules of Court permits fishing for evidence, the only limitation being that the documents, papers, etc., sought to be produced are not privileged, that they are in the possession of the party ordered to produce them and that they are material to any matter involved in the action; Requisites in order that a party may compel the other party to produce or allow the inspection of documents or things. The modes of discovery are accorded a broad and liberal treatment. Rule 27 of the Rules of Court permits fishing for evidence, the only limitation being that the documents, papers, etc., sought to be produced are not privileged, that they are in the possession of the party ordered to produce them and hat they are material to any matter involved in the action. The lament against a fishing expedition no longer precludes a party from prying into the facts underlying his opponents case. Mutual knowledge of all relevant facts gathered by both parties is essential to proper litigation. To that end, either party may compel the other to disgorge whatever facts he has in his possession. However, fishing for evidence that is allowed under the rules is not without limitations. In Security Bank Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 323 SCRA 330 (2000), the Court enumerated the requisites in order that a party may compel the other party to produce or allow the inspection of documents or things, viz.: (a) The party must file a motion for the production or inspection of documents or things, showing good cause therefor; (b) Notice of the motion must be served to all other parties of the case; (c) The motion must designate the documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things which the party wishes to be produced and inspected; (d) Such documents, etc., are not privileged; (e) Such documents, etc., constitute or contain evidence material to any matter involved in the action, and (f) Such documents, etc., are in the possession, custody or control of the other party. Same; Same; Same; Solidbanks motion was fatally defective and must be struck down because of its failure to specify with particularity the documents it required Gateway to produce. Solidbank was able to show good cause for the production of the documents. It had also shown that the said documents are material or contain evidence relevant to an issue involved in the action. However, Solidbanks motion was fatally defective and must be struck down because of its failure to specify with particularity the documents it required Gateway to produce. Solidbanks motion for production and inspection of documents called for a blanket inspection. Solidbanks request for inspection of all documents pertaining to, arising from, in connection with or involving the Back-end Services Agreement was simply too broad and too generalized in scope. Same; Same; A motion for production and inspection of documents should not demand a roving inspection of a promiscuous mass of documents. A motion for production and inspection of documents should not demand a roving inspection of a promiscuous mass of documents. The inspection should be limited to those documents designated with sufficient particularity in the motion, such that the adverse party can easily identify the documents he is required to produce. GR No. 157206 June 27, 2008

LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. SPOUSES PLACIDO ORILLA and CLARA DY ORILLA, respondents.

Judgments; Execution Pending Appeal; Section 2(a) of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides that the execution of the judgment of final order pending appeal is discretionary, and being an exception to the rule that only a final judgment may be executed, it must be strictly construed execution pending appeal should not be granted routinely but only in extraordinary circumstances. Execution of a judgment pending appeal is governed by Section 2(a) of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, to wit: SEC. 2. Discretionary execution. (a) Execution of a judgment or a final order pending appeal. On the motion of the prevailing party with notice to the adverse party filed in the trial court while it has jurisdiction over the case and is in possession of either the original record or the record on appeal, as the case may be, at the time of the filing of such motion, said court, may, in its discretion, order execution of a judgment or final order even before the expiration of the period to appeal. x x x x Discretionary execution may only be an issue upon good reasons to be stated in a special order after due hearing. As provided above, execution of the judgment or final order pending appeal is discretionary. As an exception to the rule that only a final judgment may be executed, it must be strictly construed. Thus, execution pending appeal should not be granted routinely but only in extraordinary circumstances. Same; Same; The Rules of Court does not enumerate the circumstances which would justify the execution of the judgment or decision pending appeal, but the Supreme Court has held that good reasons consist of compelling or superior circumstance demanding urgency which will outweigh the injury or damages suffered should the losing party secure a reversal of the judgment or final order. The Rules of Court does not enumerate the circumstances which would justify the execution of the judgment or decision pending appeal. However, we have held that good reasons consist in compelling or superior circumstances demanding urgency which will outweigh the injury or damages suffered should the losing party secure a reversal of the judgment or final order. The existence of good reasons is what confers discretionary power on a court to issue a writ of execution pending appeal. These reasons must be stated in the order granting the same. Unless they are divulged, it would be difficult to determine whether judicial discretion has been properly exercised. Expropriation; Agrarian Reform; Republic Act No. 6657; The expropriation of private property under RA 6657 is a revolutionary kind of expropriation the landowner cannot resist it and his only consolation is that he can negotiate for the amount of compensation to be paid for the property taken by the government; Thus, by rejecting and disputing the valuation of the Department of Agrarian Reforms (DAR), the landowner is merely exercising his right to seek just compensation. The expropriation of private property under RA 6657 is a revolutionary kind of expropriation, being a means to obtain social justice by distributing land to the farmers, envisioning freedom from the bondage to the land they actually till. As an exercise of police power, it puts the landowner, not the government, in a situation where the odds are practically against him. He cannot resist it. His only consolation is that he can negotiate for the amount of compensation to be paid for the property taken by the government. As expected, the landowner will exercise this right to the hilt, subject to the limitation that he can only be entitled to just compensation. Clearly, therefore, by rejecting and disputing the valuation of the DAR, the landowner is merely exercising his right to seek just compensation. Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Just Compensation Defined. Just compensation is the sum equivalent to the market value of the property, broadly described as the price fixed by the seller in open market in the usual and ordinary course of legal action and competition, or the fair value of the property as between the one who receives and the one who desires to sell, it being fixed at the time of the actual taking by the government. Just compensation is defined as the full and fair equivalent of the property taken from its owner by the expropriator. It has been repeatedly stressed by this Court that the true measure is not the takers gain but the owners loss. The word just is used to modify the meaning of the word compensation to convey the idea that the equivalent to be given for the property to be taken shall be real, substantial, full, and ample. Same; Same; The concept of just compensation embraces not only the correct determination of the amount to be paid to the owners of the land but also payment within a reasonable time from its taking. The concept of just compensation embraces not only the correct determination of the amount to be paid to the owners of the land, but also payment within a reasonable time from its taking. Without prompt payment, compensation cannot be considered just inasmuch as the property owner is made to suffer the consequences of being immediately deprived

of his land while being made to wait for a decade or more before actually receiving the amount necessary to cope with his loss. Same; Same; While prompt payment of just compensation requires the immediate deposit and release to the landowner of the provisional compensation, it also encompasses the payment in full of the just compensation to the landholders as finally determined by the courts it cannot be said that there is already prompt payment of just compensation where there is only a partial payment thereof. While prompt payment of just compensation requires the immediate deposit and release to the landowner of the provisional compensation as determined by the DAR, it does not end there. Verily, it also encompasses the payment in full of the just compensation to the landholders as finally determined by the courts. Thus, it cannot be said that there is already prompt payment of just compensation when there is only a partial payment thereof, as in this case. Same; Suspending payment of just compensation will prolong the agony of landowners suffered due to the deprivation of their land. While this decision does not finally resolve the propriety of the determination of just compensation by the SAC in view of the separate appeal on the matter, we find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the SAC judge in allowing execution pending appeal. The good reasons cited by the SAC that it would be in consonance with justice, fairness, and equity, and that suspending payment will prolong the agony of respondents suffered due to the deprivation of their land are eloquently elucidated in the Comment filed by SAC Judge Venancio J. Amila, as nominal party, on the petition for certiorari and prohibition of petitioner before the Court of Appeals, viz.: In addition to the Comment of private respondents, through counsel Hilario C. Baril, which the undersigned has just received a copy today, it is well to state here that respondent Placido Orilla is already an old man just as his wife. The appealed Decision will show that Orilla was already 71 years old at the time he testified in this case and the transcripts would further show that the money that he used in buying the DBP foreclosed property herein subject of compulsory acquisition by the DAR came from his retirement benefits evidently thinking that his investment would afford him security and contentment in his old age. But, luckily or unluckily, the land was taken from him by the DAR at a price so low that he could not swallow, thus, he brought the issue to court. Yet, all along, the land has been under the enjoyment of farmer-beneficiaries without him yet being paid therefore. In the mind of the Court, if payment for the land would be delayed further, it would not be long that death would overtake him. What a misfortune to his long years of service to acquire that hard-earned savings only to be deprived therefrom at the time when he needed it most. The SAC, aware of the protracted proceedings of the appeals of its November 20, 2002 Decision, but without imputing any dilatory tactics on the part of petitioner, thus deemed it proper, in its sound discretion, to grant the execution ending appeal. Moreover, the execution of the judgment of the SAC was conditioned on the posting of a bond by the respondents, despite pleas to reduce the same, in the amount of one-half of the just compensation determined by the said court or P739,511.50. GR No. 160795 June 27, 2008 CORINTHIAN GARDENS ASSOCIATION, INC., petitioner, vs. SPOUSES REYNALDO and MARIA LUISA TANJANGCO, and SPOUSES FRANK and TERESITA CUASO, respondents.

Provisional Remedies; Injunctions; To be entitled to the injunctive writ, there must be a showing that the invasion of the right is material and substantial, that the right of complainant is clear and unmistakable, and that there is an urgent and paramount necessity for the writ to issue in order to prevent serious damage. The denial was based on sound legal principles. It is axiomatic that to be entitled to the injunctive writ, one must show that there exists a right to be protected which is directly threatened by the act sought to be enjoined. Furthermore, there must be a showing that the invasion of the right is material and substantial, that the right of complainant is clear and unmistakable, and that there is an urgent and paramount necessity for the writ to issue in order to prevent serious damage. Same; Same; Preliminary Injunctions; The applicants for the issuance of writ of injunction must possess clear and unmistakable legal right that merits protection through the writ of preliminary injunction. In the Cuasos case, their right to injunctive relief had not been clearly and unmistakably demonstrated. They failed to show proof that there is material and substantial invasion of their right to warrant the issuance of an injunctive writ. Indeed, the enforcement of the writ of execution which would demolish the Cuasos perimeter fence, is manifestly prejudicial to their interest. However, they posses no clear and unmistakable legal right that merits protection through the writ of preliminary injunction. Their right to maintain the said fence had been declared inferior to the Tanjangcos right to the demolition of the fence, after the CA judgment had become final and executory as to the Cuasos.

Appeals; It is a fundamental principle that a party who does not appeal, or file a petition for certiorari, is not entitled to any affirmative relief; An appellee who is not an appellant may assign errors in his brief where his purpose is to maintain the judgment or claim affirmative relief unless he has appealed. While it is true that this Court noted the Memorandum and Supplemental Memorandum filed by the Cuasos, such notation was made only insofar as Corinthian made them respondents in this petition. This Court cannot grant to the Cuasos any affirmative relief as they did not file a petition questioning the CA ruling. Consequently, the Decision of the CA holding that the Cuasos acted in bad faith and that the perimeter fence may now be demolished cannot be put in issue by the Cuasos. It is a fundamental principle that a party who does not appeal, or file a petition for certiorari, is not entitled to any affirmative relief. An appellee who is not an appellant may assign errors in his brief where his purpose is to maintain the judgment, but he cannot seek modification or reversal of the judgment or claim affirmative relief unless he has also appealed. This applied to C.B. Paraz and Engr. De Dios who likewise failed to assail the aforementioned CA Decision.

GR No. 168799 June 27, 2008 EUHILDA C. TABUADA, petitioner, vs. HON. J. CEDRICK O. RUIZ, as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 39, Iloilo City, ERLINDA CALALIMAN-LEDESMA and YOLANDA CALALIMANTAGRIZA, respondent.

Actions; Compromise Agreements; Special Proceedings; While a compromise agreement or an amicable settlement is very strongly encouraged, the failure to consummate one does not warrant any procedural sanction, much less provide an authority for the court to jettison the case; Given the non-contentious nature of special proceedings (which do not depend on the will of an actor, but on a state or condition of things or persons not entirely within the control of the parties interested), its dismissal should be ordered only in the extreme case where the termination of the proceeding is the sole remedy consistent with equity and justice, but not as a penalty for neglect of parties therein. While a compromise agreement or an amicable settlement is very strongly encouraged, the failure to consummate one does not warrant any procedural sanction, much less provide an authority for the court to jettison the case. Sp. Proc. No. 5198 should not have been terminated or dismissed by the trial court on account of the mere failure of the parties to submit the promised amicable settlement and/or the Motion for Judgment Based On An Amicable Settlement. Given the non-contentious nature of special proceedings (which do not depend on the will of an actor, but on a state or condition of things or person not entirely within the control of the parties interested), its dismissal should be ordered only in the extreme case where the termination of the proceeding is the sole remedy consistent with equity and justice, but not as a penalty for neglect of the parties therein. Same; Same; An order requiring submission of an amicable settlement does not find support in our jurisprudence and is premised on an erroneous interpretation and application of the law and rules. The third clause of Section 3, Rule 17, which authorizes the motu proprio dismissal of a case if the plaintiff fails to comply with the rules or any order of the court, cannot even be used to justify the convenient, though erroneous, termination of the proceedings herein. An examination of the December 6, 2004 Order readily reveals that the trial court neither required the submission of the amicable settlement or the aforesaid Motion for Judgment, nor warned the parties that should they fail to submit the compromise within the given period, their case would be dismissed. Hence, it cannot be categorized as an order requiring compliance to the extent that its defiance becomes an affront to the court and the rules. And even if it were worded in coercive language, the parties cannot be forced to comply, for, as aforesaid, they are only strongly encouraged, but are not obligated, to consummate a compromise. An order requiring submission of an amicable settlement does not find support in our jurisprudence and is premised on an erroneous interpretation and application of the law and rules. Speedy Disposition of Cases; Inconsiderate dismissals neither constitute a panacea nor a solution to the congestion of court dockets while they lend a deceptive aura of efficiency to records of individual judges, they merely postpone the ultimate reckoning between the parties. The Court notes that inconsiderate dismissals neither constitute a panacea nor a solution to the congestion of court dockets. While they lend a deceptive aura of efficiency to records of individual judges, they merely postpone the ultimate reckoning between the parties. In the absence of clear lack or merit or intention to delay, justice is better served by a brief continuance, trial on the merits and final disposition of the cases before the court.

GR No. 146730 July 4, 2008 AMADO Z. AYSON, JR., petitioner, vs. SPOUSES FELIX and MAXIMA PARAGAS, respondents.

Remedial Law; Ejectment; In ejectment suits the issue to be resolved is merely the physical possession over the property, i.e., possession de facto and not possession de jure, independent of any claim of ownership set forth by the party-litigants; Judgment rendered in such an action shall be conclusive only with respect to physical possession and in no wise bind the title to the realty or constitute a binding and conclusive adjudication of the merits on the issue of ownership. It must be remembered that in ejectment suits the issue to be resolved is merely the physical possession over the property, i.e., possession de facto and not possession de jure, independent of any claim of ownership set forth by the party-litigants. Should the defendant in an ejectment case raise the defense of ownership in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved only to determine the issue of possession. The judgment rendered in such an action shall be conclusive only with respect to physical possession and shall in no wise bind the title to the realty or constitute a binding and conclusive adjudication of the merits on the issue of ownership. Therefore, such judgment shall not bar an action between the same parties respecting the title or ownership over the property, which action was precisely resorted to by respondent-spouses in this case. Civil Law; Contracts; Equitable Mortgage; Sales; Civil Code enumerates the cases in which a contract, purporting to be a sale, is considered only as contract of loan secured by a mortgage. The Deed of Absolute Sale is, in reality, an equitable mortgage or a contract of loan secured by a mortgage. The Civil Code enumerates the cases in which a contract, purporting to be a sale, is considered only as a contract of loan secured by a mortgage. Same; Same; Same; Same; Evidence; In such cases, parol evidence that becomes competent and admissible to prove that the instrument was in truth and in fact given merely as a security for the repayment of loan. In such cases, parol evidence then becomes competent and admissible to prove that the instrument was in truth and in fact given merely as a security for the repayment of loan; and upon adequate proof of the truth of such allegations, the courts will enforce the agreement or understanding in this regard, in accord with the true intent of the parties at the time the contract was executed, even if the conveyance was accompanied by registration in the name of the transferee and the issuance of a new certificate of title in his name. Same; Same; Same; An equitable mortgage is a voidable contract; It may be annulled within four (4) years from the time the cause of action accrues. An equitable mortgage is a voidable contract. As such, it may be annulled within four (4) years from the time the cause of action accrues. This case, however, not only involves a contract resulting from fraud, but covers a transaction ridden with threat, intimidation, and continuing undue influence which started when petitioners adoptive father Amado Ll. Ayson and Blas F. Rayos, Felixs superiors at Dagupan Colleges, practically bullied respondent-spouses into signing the Deed of Absolute Sale under threat of incarceration. Thus, the four-year period should start from the time the defect in the consent ceases. While at first glance, it would seem that the defect in the consent of respondent-spouses ceases either from the death of Amado Ll. Ayson and Blas F. Rayos, it is apparent that such defect of consent never ceased up to the time of the signing of the Affidavit on April 8, 1992 when Zareno, acting on behalf of petitioner, caused respondent Felix to be brought to him, and taking advantage of the latter being unlettered, unduly influenced Felix into executing the said Affidavit for a fee of P10,000.00. The complaint praying the nullity of the Deed of Absolute Sale was filed on October 11, 1993, well within the four-year prescriptive period. GR No. 151424 July 4, 2008 EAGLE REALTY CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority, NATIONAL TREASURER OF THE PHILIPPINES, HEIRS OF CASIANO DE LEON, MARIA SOCORRO DE LEON, and PILARITA M. REYES, respondents.

Remedial Law; Actions; Pleadings and Practice; The body of the pleading or complaint determines the nature of an action, not its title or heading. Petitioner undertakes to have the case dismissed on the ground of lack of jurisdiction by the RTC over the complaint. It insists that the complaint is an action for annulment of judgment which, under Rule 47 of the Rules of Court is cognizable by the CA. We do not agree. The body of the pleading or complaint determines the nature of an action, not its title or heading. This is because the complaint must contain a

concise statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiffs cause of action and specify the relief sought. Although denominated as an Action for Annulment of Judgment and Cancellation of Decree and Titles the complaint is not an action for annulment of judgment under Rule 47, but a case for cancellation of void titles.

GR No. 147406 July 14, 2008 VENANCIO FIGUEROA y CERVANTES, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Actions; Jurisdiction; Statues; Applied uniformly is the familiar rule that the jurisdiction of the court to hear and decide a case is conferred by the law in force at the time of the institution of the action, unless such statute provides for a retroactive application thereof. Applied uniformly is the familiar rule that the jurisdiction of the court to hear and decide a case is conferred by the law in force at the time of the institution of the action, unless such statute provides for a retroactive application thereof. In this case, at the time the criminal information for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide with violation of the Automobile Law (now Land Transportation and Traffic Code) was filed, Section 32(2) of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129 had already been amended by Republic Act No. 7691. Same; Same; Estoppel by Laches; The general rule should, however, be, as it has always been, that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal, and is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. Estoppel by laches, to bar a litigant from asserting the courts absence or lack of jurisdiction, only supervenes in exceptional cases similar to the factual milieu of Tijam v. Sibonghanoy 23 SCRA 28 (1968). The Court, thus, wavered on when to apply the exceptional circumstance in Sibonghanoy and on when to apply the general rule enunciated as early as in De La Santa and expounded at length in Calimlim. The general rule should, however, be, as it has always been, that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal, and is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. Estoppel by laches, to bar a litigant from asserting the courts absence or lack of jurisdiction, only supervenes in exceptional cases similar to the factual milieu of Tijam v. Sibonghanoy. Indeed, the fact that a person attempts to invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of a court does not estop him from thereafter challenging its jurisdiction over the subject matter, since such jurisdiction must arise by law and not by mere consent of the parties. This is especially true where the person seeking to invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of the court does not thereby secure any advantage or the adverse party does not suffer any harm. Same; Same; Same; Delay, alone, though unreasonable, will not sustain the defense of estoppel by laches unless it further appears that the party, knowing his rights, has not sought to enforce them until the condition of the party pleading laches has in good faith become so changed that he cannot be restored to his former state, if the rights be then enforced, due to loss of evidence, change of title, intervention of equities, and other causes. Applying the said doctrine to the instant case, the petitioner is in no way estopped by laches in assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC, considering that he raised the lack thereof in his appeal before the appellate court. At that time, no considerable period had yet elapsed for laches to attach. True, delay alone, though unreasonable, will not sustain the defense of estoppel by laches unless it further appears that the party, knowing his rights, has not sought to enforce them until the condition of the party pleading laches has in good faith become so changed that he cannot be restored to his former state, if the rights be then enforced, due to loss of evidence, change of title, intervention of equities, and other causes. In applying the principle of estoppel by laches in the exceptional case of Sibonghanoy, the Court therein considered the patent and revolting inequity and unfairness of having the judgment creditors go up their Calvary once more after more or less 15 years. The same, however, does not obtain in the instant case. Same; Same; Same; Estoppel, being in the nature of a forfeiture, is not favored by law - it is to be applied rarely, only from necessity, and only in extraordinary circumstances; When misapplied, the doctrine of estoppel may be a most effective weapon for the accomplishment of injustice. We note at this point that estoppel, being in the nature of a forfeiture, is not favored by law. It is to be applied rarely only from necessity, and only in extraordinary circumstances. The doctrine must be applied with great care and the equity must be strong in its favor. When misapplied, the doctrine of estoppel may be a most effective weapon for the accomplishment of injustice. Moreover, a judgment rendered without jurisdiction over the subject matter is void. Hence, the Revised Rules of Court provides for remedies in attacking judgments rendered by courts or tribunals that have no jurisdiction over the concerned cases. No laches will even attach when the judgment is null and void for want of jurisdiction.

GR No. 148226 July 14, 2008 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and SPOUSES MARILYN and FRANCISCO GARCIA, petitioners, vs. JOSEPH TERRADO, and HONORABLE SALVADOR P. VEDAA, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 68, Lingayen, Pangasinan, respondents.

Actions; Certiorari; The special civil action for certiorari is intended for the correction of errors of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. The special civil action for certiorari is intended for the correction of errors of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Its principal office is to keep the inferior court within the parameters of its jurisdiction or to prevent it from committing such a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility and must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law. Same; Same; It is a fundamental aphorism in law that a review of facts and evidence is not the province of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari, which is extra ordinembeyond the ambit of appeal; The mere fact that a court erroneously decides a case does not necessarily deprive it of jurisdiction. As a rule, factual matters cannot be normally inquired into by the Supreme Court in a certiorari proceeding. As earlier stressed, the present recourse is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65. It is a fundamental aphorism in law that a review of facts and evidence is not the province of the extraordinary remedy of certiorari, which is extra ordinem - beyond the ambit of appeal. At least, the mistakes ascribed to the trial court are not errors of jurisdiction correctible by the special civil action for certiorari, but errors of judgment, which is correctible by a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court. The mere fact that a court erroneously decides a case does not necessarily deprive it of jurisdiction. Thus, assuming arguendo that the trial court committed a mistake in its judgment, the error does not vitiate the decision, considering that it has jurisdiction over the case. For this reason, the dismissal of the instant petition is called for. Same; Same; Criminal Procedure; Double Jeopardy; In our jurisdiction, availment of the remedy of certiorari to correct an erroneous acquittal may be allowed in cases where petitioner has clearly shown that the public respondent acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, but if the petition merely calls for an ordinary review of the findings of the court a quo, we would run afoul of the constitutional right against double jeopardy. In our jurisdiction, availment of the remedy of certiorari to correct an erroneous acquittal may be allowed in cases where petitioner has clearly shown that the public respondent acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. However, and more serious than the procedural infraction, if the petition merely calls for an ordinary review of the findings of the court a quo, we would run afoul of the constitutional right against double jeopardy. Such recourse is tantamount to converting the petition for certiorari into an appeal, which is proscribed by the Constitution, the Rules of Court and prevailing jurisprudence on double jeopardy. Verdicts of acquittal are to be regarded as absolutely final and irreviewable. The fundamental philosophy behind the principle is to afford the defendant, who has been acquitted, final repose and to safeguard him from government oppression through the abuse of criminal processes.

GR No. 160219 July 21, 2008 VECTOR SHIPPING CORPORATION and FRANCISCO SORIANO, petitioners, vs. ADELFO B. MACASA, EMELIA B. MACASA, TIMOTEO B. MACASA, CORNELIO B. MACASA, JR., and ROSARIO C. MACASA, SULPICIO LINES, INC., GO GUIOC SO, ENRIQUE S. GO, EUSEBIO S. GO, RICARDO S. GO, VICTORIANO S. GO, EDWARD S. GO, ARTURO S. GO, EDGAR S. GO and EDMUNDO S. GO, respondents.

Certiorari; Questions of Law and Questions of Fact, Defined. It is a well-established doctrine that in petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, only questions of law may be raised by the parties and passed upon by this Court. This Court defined a question of law, as distinguished from a question of fact, to wit: A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state of facts, while there is a question of fact when the doubt arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts. For a question to be one of law, the same must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented by the litigants or any of them. The resolution of the issue must rest solely on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances. Once it is clear that the issue invites a review of the evidence presented, the question posed is one of fact. Thus, the test of whether a question is one of law or of fact is not the appellation given to such question by the party raising the same; rather, it is whether the appellate court can determine the issue raised without reviewing or evaluating the evidence, in which case, it is a question of law; otherwise it is a question of fact. Third-Party Claims; In that case, while Caltex was exonerated from any third party-liability, this Court sustained the Court of Appeals ruling that Vector Shipping and Soriano are liable to reimburse and indemnify Sulpicio Lines for whatever damages, attorneys fees and costs the latter is adjudged to pay the victims therein. We take judicial notice of our decision in Caltex (Philippines), Inc. v. Sulpicio Lines, Inc. In that case, while Caltex was exonerated from any third-party liability, this Court sustained the CA ruling that Vector Shipping and Soriano are liable to reimburse and indemnify Sulpicio Lines for whatever damages, attorney's fees and costs the latter is adjudged to pay the victims therein. GR No. 176664 July 21, 2008 BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, petitioner, vs. SPOUSES REYNALDO AND VICTORIA ROYECA, respondents.

Civil Procedure; Burden of Proof; In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence, or evidence which is more convincing t the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto. In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence, or evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto. Thus, the party, whether plaintiff or defendant, who asserts the affirmative of an issue has the onus to prove his assertion in order to obtain a favorable judgment. For the plaintiff, the burden to prove its positive assertions never parts. For the defendant, an affirmative defense is one which is not a denial of an essential ingredient in the plaintiff's cause of action, but one which, if established, will be a good defense - i.e. an "avoidance" of the claim.

GR No. 178266 July 21, 2008 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. SAMUEL and LORETA VANZUELA, respondents.

Courts; Jurisdictions; It is a well-entrenched doctrine that the jurisdiction of a tribunal over the subject matter of an action is conferred by law. It is determined by the material allegations of the complaint or information and the law at the time the action was commenced. It is a well-entrenched doctrine that the jurisdiction of a tribunal over the subject matter of an action is conferred by law. It is determined by the material allegations of the complaint or information and the law at the time the action was commenced. Lack of jurisdiction of the court over an action or the subject matter thereof cannot be made to depend upon the defenses set up in the court or upon a motion to dismiss; otherwise, the question of jurisdiction would depend almost entirely on the defendant. Once jurisdiction is vested, the same is retained up to the litigation. Same; Same; The Regional Trial Court also has jurisdiction over the offense charged since the crime was committed within territorial jurisdiction. The RTC also has jurisdiction over the offense charged since the crime was committed within its territorial jurisdiction. Same; Same; The Regional Trial Court likewise acquired jurisdiction over the persons of the respondents because they voluntarily submitted to RTCs authority. The Regional Trial Court likewise acquired jurisdiction over the

persons of the respondents because they voluntarily submitted to RTCs authority. Where the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter and over the person of the accused, and the crime was committed within its territorial jurisdiction, the court necessarily exercises jurisdiction over all issues that the law require the court to resolve. Same; Same; Agrarian Disputes; It is true that in Machete v. Court of Appeals (250 SCRA 176 [1995]), this held that the RTCs have no jurisdiction over cases for collection of back rentals filed against agricultural tenants by their landowners. Based on the law and material allegations of the information filed, The RTC erroneously concluded that it lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter on the premise that the case before it is purely an agrarian dispute. The case relied upon by the RTC, namely, David v. Rivera, 420 SCRA 90 (2004) and Philippine Veterans Bank v. Court of Appeals, 462 SCRA 336 (2005), are of different factual settings. They hinged on the subject matter of Ejectment and Annulment of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs), respectively. It is true that Machete v. Court of Appeals, 250 SCRA 176 (1995), this Court held that RTCs have no jurisdiction over cases for collection of back rentals filed against agricultural tenants by their landowners. In that case, however, what the landowner filed before the RTC was a collection suit against his alleged tenants. These three cases show that the trial courts were declared to have no jurisdiction over civil cases which were initially filed with them but were later recognized as agrarian disputes and thus, within DARABs jurisdiction. No such declaration has been made by this Court with respect to criminal cases. Same; Same; Same; It is worth stressing that even the jurisdiction over the prosecution of criminal offenses in violation of Republic Act No. 6657 per se is lodged with the Special Agrarian Courts (SACs) and not with the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB). The law and the DARAB Rules are deafening silent on the conferment of any criminal jurisdiction in favour of the DARAB. It is worth stressing that even the jurisdiction over the prosecution of criminal offenses in the violation of RA 6657 per se is lodged with the SACs and not with DARAB. While indeed, the parties admit that there is an agricultural tenancy relationship in this case, and that under he circumstances, Veranda as landowner could have simply filed a case before DARAB for collection of lease rentals and/or dispossession of respondents as tenants due to their failure to pay said lease rentals, there is no law which prohibits landowners from instituting a criminal case for estafa, as defined and penalized under Art 315 of RPC, against their tenants. Succinctly put, though the matter before us apparently presents an agrarian dispute, the RTC cannot shrink from its duty to adjudicate on the merits a criminal case initially before it, based on the law and evidence presented, in order to determine whether an accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. Agrarian Dispute; We now remind landowners that such prerogative of instituting a criminal case against their tenants, on matters related to an agrarian dispute, must be exercised with prudence, when they are clearly lawful grounds, and only in the pursuit of truth and justice. We must reiterate our ruling in Re: Conviction of Judge Adoracion G. Angeles, 543 SCRA 196 (2008), that while we do who, in his opinion, we have wronged him, we now remind landowner that such prerogative of instituting a criminal case against their tenants, on matters related to an agrarian dispute, must be exercised with prudence, when there are clearly lawful grounds, and only in the pursuit of truth and justice. Same; Agrarian reform Law; What prevails today, under R.A. 6657, is agriculture leasehold tenancy relationship, and all instances of share tenancy have automatically converted into leasehold tenancy. Unfortunately for the petitioner, these cited cases are inapplicable. People v. Carusdulasan and Becare, 98 Phil. 8 (1954), involved a relationship of agricultural share tenancy between the landowner and the accused. In such relationship of agricultural share tenancy between the landowner and the accused. In such relationship, it was incumbent upon the tenant to hold in trust and, eventually, account for the share in the harvest appertaining to the landowner, failing which the tenant could be held liable for misappropriation. As correctly pointed out by the respondents, share tenancy has been outlawed for being contrary to public policy as early as 1963, with the passage of R.A. 3844. What prevails today, under R.A. 6657, is agricultural leasehold tenancy relationship, and all instances of share tenancy have been automatically converted into leasehold tenancy relationship, and all instances of share tenancy have been automatically converted into leasehold tenancy. In such a relationship, the tenants obligation is simply to pay rentals, not to deliver the landowners share. Given this dispensation, the petitioners allegation that the respondents misappropriated the landowners share of the harvest- as contained in the information- is untenable. Accordingly, the respondents cannot be held liable under Art 315, par 4, no 1(b) of the revised Penal Code. Same; We have opted to rule on the merits of the parties contention, and hereby declare that respondents cannot be held liable for estafa for their failure to pay the rental on the agricultural land subject of the leasehold. We hold that the trial court erred when it is dismissed the criminal case for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.

However, we find no necessity to remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings, as it would only further delay the resolution of this case. We have opted to rule on the merits of the parties contentions, and hereby declare that respondents cannot be held liable for estafa for their failure to pay the rental on the agricultural land subject of the leasehold. GR No. 160717 July 23, 2008 FELICISIMA LUMBRE y SARITA, FLORDELIZA VINA y LUMBRE, et. al. petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS (First Division) and FLORANTE I. FRANCISCO, respondents.

Actions; Certiorari; Requisites. The extraordinary writ of certiorari may be issued only where it is clearly shown that there is patent and gross abuse of discretion as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility. Thus, certiorari as a special civil action can prosper only when the following requisites concur: (a) a tribunal, a board or an officer exercising judicial functions has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (b) there is no appeal or plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law for annulling or modifying the proceeding. Appeals; Pleadings and Practice; Briefs; Memoranda of Appeal; Non-filing of an appellant's brief or a memorandum of appeal is one of the explicitly recognized grounds to dismiss the appeal. There is no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the CA. The CA properly dismissed the appeal on account of petitioners' failure to file an appellant's brief. This is in accordance with Section 7, Rule 44 of the Rules of Court, which imposes upon the appellant the duty to file an appellant's brief in ordinary appealed cases before the CA, thus: SEC. 7. Appellant's brief. It shall be the duty of the appellant to file with the court, within forty-five (45) days from receipt of the notice of the clerk that all the evidence, oral and documentary, are attached to the record, seven (7) copies of his legibly typewritten, mimeographed or printed brief, with proof of service of two (2) copies thereof upon the appellee. Non-filing of an appellant's brief or a memorandum of appeal is one of the explicitly recognized grounds to dismiss the appeal, as provided in Section 1 (e) of Rule 50 of the Rules of Court. Same; Same; Same; The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure specifically Rules 44 and 50 which are designed for the proper and prompt disposition of cases before the Court of Appeals, truly cannot be ignoredthe rules provide for a system under which suitors may be heard in the correct form and manner at the prescribed time in an orderly confrontation before a judge whose authority is acknowledged. Petitioners and their counsel do not deny their procedural infractions, but they ask this Court's indulgence to relax the rules. Unfortunately for petitioners, their plea is not entirely for this Court to decide. If we grant this prayer, we would effectively be faulting the CA for its faithful compliance with the rules of procedure. The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically Rules 44 and 50 which are designed for the proper and prompt disposition of cases before the CA, truly cannot be ignored. The rules provide for a system under which suitors may be heard in the correct form and manner at the prescribed time in an orderly confrontation before a judge whose authority is acknowledged. We cannot simply turn a blind eye to, and tolerate, the transgressions of these rules; 30 to do so would be a disavowal of our own pronouncements. In sum, we cannot attribute grave abuse of discretion to the CA which merely followed the said rules in dismissing the appeal. Same; Same; Same; Same; Motions for Extension; Section 12 of Rule 44 of the Rules of Court provides that an extension of time for the filing of a brief shall not be allowed, except when there is good and sufficient cause, and only when the motion is filed before the expiration of the extension sought. With respect to motions for extension, our ruling in Bergonia v. Merrera is instructive: Section 12 of Rule 44 of the Rules of Court provides that an extension of time for the filing of a brief shall not be allowed, except when there is good and sufficient cause, and only when the motion is filed before the expiration of the extension sought. From time to time, a request for extension becomes necessary when an advocate needs more time to study the client's position. Generally, such request is addressed to the sound discretion of the court. Lawyers, who, for one reason or another, decide to dispense with the filing of the required pleading, should promptly manifest this intent to the court. It is necessary for them to do so in order to prevent delay in the disposition of the case. Those who file motions for extension in bad faith misuse the legal process, obstruct justice, and thus become liable to disciplinary action.

Same; Certiorari; Although there are instances when certiorari may be allowed despite the availability of appeal, in the instant case the court finds no compelling reasons to do so, particularly because the issue raised clearly pertains to the wisdom and soundness of the assailed Court of Appeals Resolutions, which should have been assailed before the Supreme Court via a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. The instant petition is a wrong remedy because of the availability of an appeal. After the CA denied their Motion for Reconsideration, petitioners allowed the reglementary period for filing an appeal to lapse, opting instead to file this Petition for Certiorari. Well-settled is the rule that certiorari is not a substitute for the lost or lapsed remedy of appeal. Although there are instances when certiorari may be allowed despite the availability of appeal, in this case we find no compelling reasons to do so, particularly because the issue raised clearly pertains to the wisdom and soundness of the assailed CA Resolutions, which should have been assailed before this Court via a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Thus, on this score also, the petition should be dismissed. Same; Appeal is a statutory right, which may be exercised only within the prescribed limits. If it appears that the consequences for incurring procedural infractions before the CA and for pursuing the wrong remedial tack are ostensibly harsh, it should be remembered that there is no innate right to appeal. Appeal is a statutory right, which may be exercised only within the prescribed limits. The 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides for a rational and orderly method by which appeal can be pursued, and even contingency remedial measures if appeal can no longer be timely pursued. 36 For the failure to duly comply with the said Rules and to undertake a timely appeal despite the existence of such remedy, the petitioners must bear the consequences. Same; Procedural Rules and Technicalities; Procedural rules are not to be disdained as mere technicalitiesadjective law ensures the effective enforcement of substantive rights through the orderly and speedy administration of justice. We stress that the rules of procedure exist for a noble purpose, and to disregard such rules in the guise of liberal construction would be to defeat such purpose. Procedural rules are not to be disdained as mere technicalities. They may not be ignored to suit the convenience of a party. Adjective law ensures the effective enforcement of substantive rights through the orderly and speedy administration of justice. Rules are not intended to hamper litigants or complicate litigation. To the contrary, they help provide for the orderliness vital to our system of justice. Indeed, public order and our system of justice are well served by a conscientious observance by the parties of the procedural rules.

GR No. 168985 July 23, 2008 ACCESSORIES SPECIALIST, INC., a.k.a. ARTS 21 CORPORATION, and TADAHIKO HASHIMOTO, petitioners, vs. ERLINDA B. ALABANZA, for and in behalf of her deceased husband, JONES B. ALABANZA, respondent.

Labor Law; Prescription; Estoppel; Promissory Estoppel; Elements; Words and Phrases; Promissory Estoppel, Explained. In light of these circumstances, we can apply the principle of promissory estoppel, which is a recognized exception to the three-year prescriptive period enunciated in Article 291 of the Labor Code. Promissory estoppel may arise from the making of a promise, even though without consideration, if it was intended that the promise should be relied upon, as in fact it was relied upon, and if a refusal to enforce it would virtually sanction the perpetration of fraud or would result in other injustice. Promissory estoppel presupposes the existence of a promise on the part of one against whom estoppel is claimed. The promise must be plain and unambiguous and sufficiently specific so that the court can understand the obligation assumed and enforce the promise according to its terms. In order to make out a claim of promissory estoppel, a party bears the burden of establishing the following elements: (1) a promise was reasonably expected to induce action for forbearance; (2) such promise did, in fact, induce such action or forbearance; and (3) the party suffered detriments as a result. Appeals; Appeal Bond; Statutory Construction; The posting of a bond is indispensable to the perfection of an appeal in cases involving monetary awards from the decision of the Labor Arbiter; The intention of the lawmakers to make the bond a mandatory requisite for the perfection of an appeal by the employer is clearly limned in the provision that an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond the

word only makes it perfectly plain that the lawmakers intended the posting of a cash or surety bond by the employer to be the essential and exclusive means by which an employers appeal may be perfected, while the word may refers to the perfection of an appeal as optional on the part of the defeated party, but not to the compulsory posting of an appeal bond, if he desires to appeal. Article 223 of the Labor Code mandate that in case of a judgment of the LA involving a monetary award an appeal by the employer to the NLRC may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Commission, in the amount equivalent to the monetary award in the judgment appealed from. The posting of a bond is indispensable to the perfection of an appeal in cases involving monetary awards from the decision of the LA. The intention of the lawmakers to make the bond mandatory requisites for the perfection of an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond. The word only makes it perfectly plain that the lawmakers intended the posting of a cash or surety bond by the employer to be the essential and exclusive means by which an employers appeal may be perfected, while the word may refers to the perfection of an appeal as optional on the part of the defeated party, but not to the compulsory posting of an appeal bond, if he desires to appeal. The meaning and the intention of the legislature in enacting a statute must be determined from the language employed; and where there is no ambiguity in the word used, and then there is no room for construction. Same; Same; The filing of the bond is not only mandatory but also a jurisdiction requirement that must be complied with in order to confer jurisdiction upon the National Labor Relations Commission - non-compliance therewith renders the decision of the Labor Arbiter final and executory. This requirement is intended to assure the workers that if they prevail in the case, they will receive the money judgment in their favour upon the dismissal of the employers appeal. It is intended to discourage employers from using an appeal to delay or evade their obligation to satisfy their employees just and lawful claims. Same; Appeal is not a constitutional right, but a mere statutory privilege- parties who seek to avail themselves of it must comply with the statutes or rules allowing it. Perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period permitted by law is mandatory and jurisdictional. The requirements for perfecting an appeal must, as a rule, be strictly followed. Such requirements are considered indispensable interdictions against needless delays and are necessary for the orderly discharge of the judicial business. Failure to perfect the appeal renders the judgment of his court final and executory. Just as a losing party has the privilege to file an appeal within the prescribed period, so does the winner also have the correlative right to enjoy the finality of the decision. Same; Findings of facts of administrative and quasi-judicial bodies, which have acquired expertise on specific matters, are accorded weight and respect by the court they are deemed final and conclusive, unless compelling reasons are presented for us to digress therefrom. The propriety of he monetary award of the LA is already binding upon this Court. As we have repeatedly pointed out, petitioners failure to perfect their appeal in the manner and period required by the rules makes the award final and executory. Petitioners stance that there was no sufficient basis for the award of the payment of withheld wages, separation pay and 13th month pay must fail. Such matters are questions of facts requiring the presentation of evidence. Findings of facts of administrative and quasi-judicial bodies, which have acquired expertise on specific matters, are accorded weight and respect by the court they are deemed final and conclusive, unless compelling reasons are presented for us to digress therefrom. GR No. 154450 July 28, 2008 JOSEPH L. SY, NELSON GOLPEO and JOHN TAN, petitioners, vs. NICOLAS CAPISTRANO, JR., substituted by JOSEFA B. CAPISTRANO, REMEDIOS TERESITA B. CAPISTRANO and MARIO GREGORIO B. CAPISTRANO; NENITA F. SCOTT; SPS. JUANITO JAMILAR and JOSEFINA JAMILAR; SPS. MARIANO GILTURA and ADELA GILTURA, respondents.

Actions; Appeals; Findings of facts of the CA are final and conclusive and cannot be reviewed on appeal, as long as they are based on substantial evidence; Exceptions. Findings of facts of the CA are final and conclusive and cannot be reviewed on appeal, as long as they are based on substantial evidence. While, admittedly, there are exceptions to this rule such as: (a) when the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (b) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (c) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (d) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (e) when the findings of facts are conflicting; (f) when the CA, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same were contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and appellee. Not one of these exceptional circumstances is present in this

case. Evidence; Forgery; Technical Rules of Procedure; The technical procedure utilized by handwriting experts, while usually helpful in the examination of forged documents, is not mandatory or indispensable to the examination or comparison of handwritings. The CA was correct in upholding the finding of the trial court that the purported sale of the property from Capistrano to Scott was a forgery, and resort to a handwriting expert was not even necessary as the specimen signature submitted by Capistrano during trial showed marked variance from that found in the deed of absolute sale. The technical procedure utilized by handwriting experts, while usually helpful in the examination of forged documents, is not mandatory or indispensable to the examination or comparison of handwritings.

GR No. 156310 July 31, 2008 XERXES A. ABADIANO, petitioner, vs. SPOUSES JESUS and LOLITA MARTIR, respondents.

Appeals; The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in a petition for review under Rule 45 is limited to reviewing only errors of law; Exceptions; In the present case, the Court finds that the trial court based its judgment on a misapprehension of facts, as well as on the supposed absence of evidence which is contradicted by the records. It is well settled that the findings of fact of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the CA, are accorded the highest degree of respect, and generally will not be disturbed on appeal. Such findings are binding and conclusive on the Court. Further, it is not the Court's function under Rule 45 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure to review, examine and evaluate or weigh the probative value of the evidence presented. The jurisdiction of the Court in a petition for review under Rule 45 is limited to reviewing only errors of law. Unless the case falls under the recognized exceptions, the rule shall not be disturbed. However, this Court has consistently recognized the following exceptions: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings, the CA went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to those of the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner's main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; and (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record. Sales; Evidence; Where there is effective specific denial, challenging the very existence of a Deed of Sale, the trial court should first resolve the issue of the documents authenticity and due execution before deciding its validity. These statements were enough to impugn the due execution of the document. While it is true that this Court had previously ruled that mere denials would not have sufficed to impeach the document, in this case, there was an effective specific denial as contemplated by law in accordance with our ruling thatdefendant must declare under oath that he did not sign the document or that it is otherwise false or fabricated. Neither does the statement of the answer to the effect that the instrument was procured by fraudulent representation raise any issue as to its genuineness or due execution. On the contrary such a plea is an admission both of the genuineness and due execution thereof, since it seeks to avoid the instrument upon a ground not affecting either. It was error then for the RTC to have brushed aside this issue and then make so sweeping a conclusion in the face of such opposition. In light of this challenge to the very existence of the Compra Y Venta, the trial court should have first resolved the issue of the document's authenticity and due execution before deciding on its validity. Unfortunately, the CA did not even discuss this issue. Same; Same; Best Evidence Rule; When the original document is unavailable, has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order stated. The Rule states that when the original document is unavailable, has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order stated. In the case at bar, respondents failed to establish that the offer in evidence of the document was made in accordance with any of the

exceptions allowed under the above quoted rule, and yet, the trial court accepted the document as genuine and proceeded to determine its validity based on such assumption. Same; Same; Same; Notarial Law; A notarial document is evidence of the facts in the clear unequivocal manner therein expressed and has in its favor the presumption of regularity; The defect that the purportedly notarized Deed of Sale contains the same notarial inscription as an Agreement on Partition, while not necessarily invalidating the sale, the same error would have meant that the document cannot be treated as a notarial document and thus, not entitled to the presumption of regularity. The trial court likewise brushed aside the apparent defect that the document presented contained the same notarial inscription as the Agreement on Partition. Indeed, the Deed of Partition and the Compra Y Venta, though executed on different days, were notarized on the same day, and both documents contained the signatures of the same witnesses and the same notarial inscription. This notwithstanding, the court concluded, "Assuming this to be true, same could be considered an error which did not nullify, (sic) the Deed of Sale or Compra Y Venta. At most, the document would be a non-registrable, but valid document." We stress that a notarial document is evidence of the facts in the clear unequivocal manner therein expressed and has in its favor the presumption of regularity. In this case, while it is true that the error in the notarial inscription would not have invalidated the sale - if indeed it took place - the same error would have meant that the document cannot be treated as a notarial document and thus, not entitled to the presumption of regularity. The document would be taken out of the realm of public documents whose genuineness and due execution need not be proved.

GR No. 169008 July 31, 2008 LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. RAYMUNDA MARTINEZ, respondent.

To resolve the conflict in the rulings of the Court, it now declares, for the guidance of the bench and the bar, that the better rule is that stated in Philippine Veterans Bank v. Court of Appeals, 322 SCRA 139 (2000) and reiterated in Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board v. Lubrica, 457 SCRA 800 (2005), and in the 14 August 2007 Decision in this case, 530 SCRA 158 (2007); While a petition for the fixing of just compensation with the Special Agrarian Court (SAC) is not an appeal from the agrarian reform adjudicators decision but an original action, the same has to be filed within the 15-day period stated in the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) Rules, otherwise, the adjudicators decision will attain finality. To resolve the conflict in the rulings of the Court, we now declare herein, for the guidance of the bench and the bar, that the better rule is that stated in the Philippine Veterans Bank, reiterated in Lubrica and in the August 14, 2007 Decision in this case. Thus, while a petition for the fixing of just compensation with the SAC is not an appeal from the agrarian reform adjudicators decision but an original action, the same has to be filed within the 15-day period stated in the DARAB Rules; otherwise the adjudicators decision will attain finality. This rule is not only in accord with law and settled jurisprudence but also with the principles of justice and equity. Verily, a belated petition before the SAC, e.g., one filed a month, or a year, or even a decade after the land valuation of the DAR adjudicator, must not leave the dispossessed landowner in a state of uncertainty as to the true value of his property.

Legal Ethics
A.M. No. RTJ-07-2050 June 27, 2007 SPOUSES ARLEEN and LORNA OLIVEROS, complainants, vs. HONORABLE DIONISIO C. SISON, Acting Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 74, Antipolo City, respondent.

Courts; Judges; Any inquiry into the judges administrative liability arising from judicial acts may be made only after other available remedies have been settled. Since complainants have already brought the matter of Judge Sisons Order granting defendants prayer for TRO and preliminary injunction to the CA on a petition for certiorari, we cannot as yet rule on the propriety of such Order. Any inquiry into the judges administrative liability arising from judicial acts may be made only after other available remedies have been settled. Same; Same; Gross Ignorance of the Law; Good faith in situations of fallible discretion inheres only within the parameters of tolerable misjudgment and does not apply where the issues are so simple and the applicable legal principle evident and basic as to be beyond permissible margins of error. As to the order citing complainants for indirect contempt, while we are disposed to accept Judge Sisons good faith in issuing the same, we have already held in the past, that good faith in situations of fallible discretion inheres only within the parameters of tolerable misjudgment and does not apply where the issues are so simple and the applicable legal principle evident and basic as to be beyond permissible margins of error. When the law is so elementary, not to know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. Same; Same; Same; Contempt; Charges for indirect contempt are commenced by a verified petition with supporting particulars and certified true copies of documents or papers involved therein, and upon full compliance with the requirements for filing initiatory pleadings for civil actions in the court concerned. - Rule 71 of the Revised Rules on Civil Procedure explicitly sets out the requirements for instituting a complaint for indirect contempt. Section 4 thereof states: SEC. 4. How proceedings commenced. Proceedings for indirect contempt may be initiated motu proprio by the court against which the contempt was committed by an order or any formal charge requiring the respondent to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt. In all other cases, charges for indirect contempt shall be commenced by a verified petition with supporting particulars and certified true copies of documents or papers involved therein, and upon full compliance with the requirements for filing initiatory pleadings for civil actions in the court concerned. If the contempt charges arose out of or are related to a principal action pending in court, the petition for contempt shall allege that fact but said petition shall be docketed, heard and decided separately, unless the court in its discretion orders the consolidation of the contempt charge and the principal action for joint hearing and decision. This provision is couched in plain and simple language. The procedure prescribed therein is clear and unmistakable. The defendants motion obviously does not conform with this Rule; accordingly, it should not have been entertained and the warrant of arrest should never have been issued. The argument that filing the contempt charge as a separate and independent petition would favor multiplicity of suits is too lame an excuse for violating the Rules. Same; Same; Same; Same; Due Process; Undue hast in disposing of a procedurally infirm motion to cite a party in contempt deprives such party of one of mans most fundamental rights, the right to be heard. Complainants should have been given the opportunity to be heard and to defend themselves against the contempt charge, involving as it does such a dire consequence as imprisonment for six months. The Court notes that the motion to cite complainants in indirect contempt was set for

hearing on November 13, 2006, that complainants did not appear (because they allegedly never received a copy of the motion nor any notice of hearing), that the matter was deemed submitted for resolution, and that on the same day an Order granting the motion and directing the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of the complainants was issued. The undue haste in disposing of this procedurally infirm motion deprived complainants of one of mans most fundamental rights, the right to be heard. A.M. No. P-07-2343 August 14, 2007 ATTY. ALFONSO L. DELA VICTORIA, complainant, vs. ATTY. MARIA FE ORIGMALOLOY-ON, Clerk of Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Office of the Clerk of Court, Davao City, respondent.
Administrative Law; Attorneys; Lawyers are required to act with the highest standard of truthfulness, fair play and nobility in the conduct of their litigation and their relations with their clients, the opposing parties, the other counsel and the courts. Considering that he was a former judge and had been engaged in the practice of law for thirty (30) years, Atty. Dela Victoria is expected to be conversant with the scope and application of Rule 114, Section 17(c) of the Rules of Court which he invokes. He should have known that he could not insist on the acceptance of the cash bond in favor of his clients without the necessary order from the court granting his motion to post the same. In fact, his assertion that he had already made arrangements with the MTCC Executive Judge when there was actually no proper court order amounts to an attempt to mislead Atty. Maloloy-on into processing the unauthorized temporary release of his clients. They are duty bound to avoid improprieties, which give the appearance of influencing the court. Atty. Dela Victoria failed in this regard. Same; Same; In administrative proceedings, the complainant has the burden of proving by substantial evidence the allegations in his complaint. Mere allegation is not evidence and is not equivalent to proof. In administrative proceedings, the complainant has the burden of proving by substantial evidence the allegations in his complaint. Mere allegation is not evidence and is not equivalent to proof. Atty. Dela Victoria failed to substantiate this burden. In stark contrast, Atty. Maloloy-on proved truthful her defense when she submitted a copy of the entire court records involving the criminal case against the Veranos.

Same; Same; A lawyer who files an unfounded complaint must be sanctioned because as an officer of the court, he does not discharge his duty by filing frivolous petitions that only add to the workload of the judiciary. We cannot overemphasize that a lawyer is part of the machinery in the administration of justice. Like the court itself, he is an instrument to advance its ends the speedy, efficient, impartial, correct, and inexpensive adjudication of cases and the prompt satisfaction of final judgments. He should not only help attain these objectives but should likewise avoid unethical or improper practices that impede, obstruct, or prevent their realization, charged as he is with the primary task of assisting in the speedy and efficient administration of justice by Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Although no person should be penalized for the exercise of the right to litigate, this right must be exercised in good faith. Such filing of baseless complaints is indeed contemptuous of the courts.

Courts; Judges; A magistrate found culpable of administrative offenses relative to the impartial exercise of judicial functions is usually meted the penalty of fine

ranging from P10,000.00 to P20,000. With respect to the first two charges, the complainant has failed to adduce substantial evidence to support her allegations. However, with respect to the third charge of failure to inhibit himself despite his disqualification, respondent was rightfully found to have violated Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court and Rule 2.03 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. We also hold, for the same reason, respondent guilty of violation of Rule 3.12 of the Code of Judicial Conduct as charged. In line with jurisprudence, magistrate found culpable of administrative offenses relative to the impartial exercise of judicial functions is usually meted the penalty ranging from P10,000.00 to P20,000. In this case, the penalty of fine in the amount of P20,000.00 is proper under the circumstances. A.M. No. RTJ-07-2075 October 9, 2007 ATTY. UBALDINO A. LACUROM, complainant, vs. JUDGE JUANITA C. TIENZO, Regional Trial Court, Branch 27, Cabanatuan City, respondent. Courts; Judges; Administrative Complaints; Where sufficient judicial remedies exist, the filing of an administrative complaint is not the proper recourse to correct a judge's allegedly erroneous act. After a careful scrutiny of the records, we sustain the OCA's finding that the charge respecting the erroneous issuance of the writ of replevin in Civil Case No. 4971 is clearly judicial in nature. The instant administrative complaint is not the proper remedy to assail the legality of respondent judge's order. In this regard, we have previously held that where sufficient judicial remedies exist, the filing of an administrative complaint is not the proper recourse to correct a judge's allegedly erroneous act. Same; Same; Same; In the absence of fraud, dishonesty or deliberate intent to do an injustice, acts done in their official capacity, even though erroneous, do not always constitute misconduct only errors that are tainted with fraud, corruption or malice may be the subject of disciplinary actions. As a matter of public policy, not every error or mistake committed by judges in the performance of their official duties renders them administratively liable. In the absence of fraud, dishonesty or deliberate intent to do an injustice, acts done in their official capacity, even though erroneous, do not always constitute misconduct. Only errors that are tainted with fraud, corruption or malice may be the subject of disciplinary actions. For administrative liability to attach, respondent must be shown to have been moved by bad faith, dishonesty, hatred or some other similar motive. Verily, judges may not be held administratively liable for any of their official acts, no matter how erroneous, as long as they acted in good faith. Same; Same; Same; Same; A judge transgresses the constitutional directive on contents of judgments where she comes up with a cryptic decision simply referencing the appealed decision of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) and forthwith finding the same as complainant with procedural due process under the Rules of Summary Procedure. Although we have sustained the validity of memorandum decisions on several occasions, we laid down specific requirements for the proper utility thereof: The memorandum decision, to be valid, cannot incorporate the findings of fact and the conclusions of law of the lower court only by remote reference, which is to say that the challenged decision is not easily and immediately available to the person reading the memorandum decision. For the

incorporation by reference to be allowed, it must provide for direct access to the facts and the law being adopted, which must be contained in a statement attached to the said decision. In other words, the memorandum decision authorized under Section 40 of B.P. Blg. 129 should actually embody the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the lower court in an annex attached to and made an indispensable part of the decision. It is expected that this requirement will allay suspicion that no study was made of the decision of the lower court and that its decision was merely affirmed without a proper examination of the facts and law on which it is based. The proximity at least of the annexed statement should suggest that such an examination has been undertaken. It is, of course, also understood that the decision being adopted should, to begin with, comply with Article VIII, Section 14 as no amount of incorporation or adoption will rectify its violation. The Court finds it necessary to emphasize that the memorandum decision should be sparingly used lest it become an addictive excuse for judicial sloth. It is an additional condition for its validity that this kind of decision may be resorted only in cases where the facts are in the main accepted by both parties or easily determinable by the judge and there are no doctrinal complications involved that will require an extended discussion of the laws involved. The memorandum decision may be employed in simple litigations only, such as ordinary collection cases, where the appeal is obviously groundless and deserves no more than the time needed to dismiss it. Same; Same; Same; Gross Ignorance of the Law; Although not every judicial error signifies ignorance of the law which warrants administrative sanction, this holds true only in instances of tolerable misjudgmentwhere, however, an elementary constitutional mandate is violated, the blunder constitutes ignorance of the law. The transgression is compounded by respondent judge's insistence that her decision conformed to our ruling on memorandum decisions. It is not amiss to remind respondent judge of our final words in the case which she invokes: Henceforth, all memorandum decisions shall comply with the requirements herein set forth as to the form prescribed and the occasions when they may be rendered. Any deviation will summon the strict enforcement of Article VIII, Section 14 of the Constitution and strike down the flawed judgment as a lawless disobedience. Although not every judicial error signifies ignorance of the law which warrants administrative sanction, this holds true only in instances of tolerable misjudgment. Where, however, an elementary constitutional mandate is violated, the blunder constitutes ignorance of the law. A.M. No. RTJ-07-2042 April 19, 2007 FELIPE G. PACQUING, complainant, vs. JUDGE BENEDICTO G. GOBARDE, Regional Trial Court, Branch 53, Lapu Lapu City, Cebu, respondent. Courts; Judges; Speedy disposition of Cases; Gross Inefficiency; The failure to decide a case within the required period is inexcusable as it constitutes gross inefficiency and neglect of duty warranting administrative sanction. Competence and diligence are prerequisites to the due performance of judicial office. Judges are enjoined to perform all judicial duties, including the delivery of reserved decisions, efficiently, fairly, and with reasonable promptness. Mandatory rules prescribing the time to render judgment and to resolve pending incidents within 90 days from the

time of submission for resolution are considered absolutely indispensable to the prevention of needless delays and the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial business. The failure to decide a case within the required period is inexcusable as it constitutes gross inefficiency and neglect of duty warranting administrative sanction. Section 9 (1), Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as amended by A.M. No. 0110-SC, provides that undue delay in rendering a decision or order is classified as a less serious charge which, under Section 11 (B), is punishable by suspension from office without salary and other benefits for no less than one (1) nor more than three (3) months; or a fine of more than P10,000.00 but not exceeding P20,000.00. Same; Same; Office of the Court Administrator; it is through the OCA that the Supreme Court exercises supervision over all lower courts and personnel thereof. Judge Cobarde should be reminded that it is through the OCA that the Supreme Court exercises supervision over all lower courts and personnel thereof. His prolonged and repeated refusal to comply with the directives of the OCA to comment on the complaint constitutes a clear and willful disrespect for lawful orders of the OCA. Such defiance is gross insubordination meriting the imposition of a fine of P5,000.00.
Same; Same; Attorneys; A lawyers remarks explaining his position in a case under consideration do not necessarily assume the level of contempt that justifies the court's exercise of the power of contempt. On the charge of indirect contempt of court, we therefore find that SSP Velasco's statement, while irresponsible, did not necessarily degrade the administration of justice as to be considered contumacious. The salutary rule is that the power to punish for contempt must be exercised on the preservative, not vindictive principle, and on the corrective and not retaliatory idea of punishment. A lawyer's remarks explaining his position in a case under consideration do not necessarily assume the level of contempt that justifies the court's exercise of the power of contempt. We note that SSP Velasco's statement was made in support of his argument for the imposition of preventive suspension, i.e., to prevent the respondent from using her current position to alter the course of the investigation and the disposition of the appealed criminal cases. Same; Same; Same; It is a lawyer's sworn and moral duty to help build and not unnecessarily destroy the people's high esteem and regard for the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice . SSP Velasco must bear in mind that as a lawyer, he must be circumspect in his language. We remind him of our admonition to all lawyers to observe the following Canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which read: Canon 8. Rule 8.01 A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper. Canon 11. A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others. A lawyer is an officer of the Court. It is a lawyer's sworn and moral duty to help build and not unnecessarily destroy the people's high esteem and regard for the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice. A lawyer's language may be forceful but should always be dignified; emphatic but respectful, as befitting an advocate. Arguments, whether written or oral, should be gracious to both court and opposing counsel, and should use such language as may be properly addressed by one person to another. Same; Same; The use by respondent judge of disrespectful language in her Comment is certainly below the standard expected of an officer of the courtthe esteemed position of a magistrate of the law demands temperance, patience and courtesy both in conduct and in language. Even as we find that the OCA and SSP Velasco have not clearly and convincingly shown ample grounds to warrant the imposition of preventive suspension, we do note the use of offensive language in respondent's pleadings, not only against SSP Velasco but also against former CA Lock. To reiterate our previous ruling involving the respondent, her use of disrespectful language in her Comment is certainly below the standard expected of an officer of the court. The esteemed position of a magistrate of the law demands temperance, patience and courtesy both in conduct and in language. Illustrative are the following statements: "CA Lock's hostile mindset and his superstar complex"; "In a frenzied display of arrogance and power"; "(CA Lock's) complaint is merely a pathetic echo of the findings of the trial court"; and "when (CA Lock) himself loses his

objectivity and misuses the full powers of his Office to persecute the object of his fancy, then it is time for him to step down." In the attempt to discredit CA Lock, respondent even dragged CA Lock's son into the controversy, to wit: It is noteworthy to mention that CA Lock's hostile attitude was aggravated by his embarrassment when the undersigned mentioned to him that she knew how he used his influence to secure a position for his son at the RTC Library of Pasay City which was then managed by Judge Priscilla Mijares. CA Lock had made sure that his son be assigned to the library to enable the latter to conveniently adjust his schedule in reviewing for the bar examination. Same; Same; While the Court does not begrudge them the prerogative to initiate charges against those who, in their opinion, may have wronged them. But it is well to remind them that this privilege must be exercised with prudence, when there are clearly lawful grounds, and only in the pursuit of truth and justice. This prerogative does not give them the right to institute shotgun charges with reckless abandon, or allow their disagreement to deteriorate into a puerile quarrel, not unlike that of two irresponsible children. The parties herein have admitted in their various pleadings that they have filed numerous cases against each other. We do not begrudge them the prerogative to initiate charges against those who, in their opinion, may have wronged them. But it is well to remind them that this privilege must be exercised with prudence, when there are clearly lawful grounds, and only in the pursuit of truth and justice. This prerogative does not give them the right to institute shotgun charges with reckless abandon, or allow their disagreement to deteriorate into a puerile quarrel, not unlike that of two irresponsible children. Judge Angeles and SSP Velasco should bear in mind that they are high-ranking public officers whom the people look up to for zealous, conscientious and responsive public service. Name-calling hardly becomes them. Cognizant of the adverse impact and unpleasant consequences this continuing conflict will inflict on the public service, we find both officials wanting in the conduct demanded of public servants.

A.M. No. P-07-2403 February 6, 2008 RE: REGIDOR R. TOLEDO, RONALDO TOLEDO, AND JOEFFREY TOLEDO * vs. ATTY. JERRY RADAM TOLEDO, RTC, BRANCH 259, PARAAQUE CITY

Courts; Courts Personnel; Attorneys; Immorality; Disbarment; Words and Phrases; To justify the suspension or disbarment the act complained of must not only be immoral but grossly immoral and the same must be established by clear and convincing proof, disclosing a case that is free from doubt as to compel the exercise by the Court of its disciplinary power; Immoral conduct is that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good respectable members of the community. This Court has previously defined immoral conduct as that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good respectable members of the community. This Court has held that to justify the suspension or disbarment the act complained of must not only be immoral but grossly immoral and the same must be established by clear and convincing proof, disclosing a case that is free from doubt as to compel the exercise by the Court of its disciplinary power. Likewise, the dubious character of the act done as well as the motivation thereof must be clearly demonstrated. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; In disbarment cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that the mere fact of sexual relations betweens two unmarried adults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanctions for such illicit behavior. In disbarment cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that the mere fact of sexual relations betweens two unmarried adults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanctions for such illicit behavior. Whether a lawyers sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the benefit of marriage should be characterized as grossly immoral conduct will depend on the surrounding circumstances. This Court has further ruled that intimacy between a man and woman who are not married, where both suffer from no impediment t marry, voluntary carried on and devoid of any deceit on the part of respondent, is neither so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act nor so unprincipled as to warrant disbarment or disciplinary action against a member of the Bar. Based on the allegation in the Complaint and in the respondents Comment, we cannot conclude that his act of cohabiting with a woman and begetting children by her without the benefit of marriage falls within the category of grossly immoral conduct. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; While the Court has the power to regulate official conduct and, to a certain extent, private conduct, it is not within our authority to make, for our employees, decisions about their personal

lives, especially those that will so affect their and their family future, such as whether they should or should not be married. It is not unwarranted for us to take judicial notice of the fact that more and more Filipinos are finding it necessary to seek employment abroad in order to provide their loved ones with better lives. We find nothing unprincipled and undesirable wit seeking all means within the bounds of law and reason to uplift the lot of ones family. It is not for us to inquire into our personnels motivation for entering into such an arrangement or to judge how they plan to accomplish their goals in life, unless it is shown that they are violating the law in the process. While the Court has the power to regulate official conduct and, to a certain extent, private conduct, it is not within our authority to make, for our employees, decisions about their personal lives, especially those that will so affect their and their family future, such as whether they should or should not be married. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Clerks of Court; Respondent reminded of the high standards of conduct imposed upon lawyers in the judiciary; Lawyers in the Government Service are under an even greater obligation to observe the basic tenets of the legal profession because public office is a public trust; A Clerk of Court in particular, as an essential and ranking officer of our judicial system who performs delicate administrative functions vital to the prompt and proper administration of justice must be free from any form of impropriety. We take this occasion to remind the respondent of the high standards of conduct imposed upon lawyers in the judiciary. Lawyers in the Government Service are under an even greater obligation to observe the basic tenets of the legal profession because public office is a public trust. They should be more circumspect in their adherence to their professional obligations under the Code of Professional Responsibility, for their disreputable conduct is more likely to be magnified in the public eye. A Clerk of Court in particular, as an essential and ranking officer of our judicial system who performs delicate administrative functions vital to the prompt and proper administration of justice must be free from any form of impropriety. The conduct of our court personnel must be free from any whiff of impropriety or scandal, not only with respect to their duties in the judicial branch but also to their behavior outside the court as private individuals; it is in this way that the integrity of the good name of the courts of justice shall be preserved.

Attorneys Fees; Attorneys fees may be awarded when a party is compelled to litigate or to incur expenses to protect its interest by reason of an unqualified act by the other.- Petitioners challenge the attorneys fees in favor of respondents. The grant of attorneys fees depends on the circumstances of each case and lies within the discretion of the court. It may be awarded when a party is compelled to litigate or to incur expenses to protect its interest by reason of an unjustified act by the other, as in this case.

GR No. 161390 April 16, 2008 RAUL H. SESBREO, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, PROVINCE OF CEBU, GOV. EDUARDO R. GULLAS, THE PROVINCIAL TREASURER, THE PROVINCIAL AUDITOR, THE PROVINCIAL ENGINEER PATROCINIO BACAY (sued both in their official and personal capacities), respondents. Attorneys; Attorneys Fees; Charging Lien; When the judgment debt was fully satisfied, petitioner could have enforced his lien either against his clients or against the judgment debtor. When the judgment debt was fully satisfied, petitioner could have enforced his lien either against his clients (the camineros herein) or against the judgment debtor (the respondents herein). The clients, upon receiving satisfaction of their claims without paying their lawyer, should have held the proceeds in trust for him to the extent of the amount of his recorded lien, because after the charging lien had attached, the attorney is, to the extent of said lien, regarded as an equitable assignee of the judgment or funds produced by his efforts. The judgment debtors may likewise be held responsible for their failure to withhold from the camineros the amount of attorneys fees due the petitioner. Same; Same; Same; Satisfaction of the judgment, in general, does not by itself bar or extinguish the attorneys liens, as the court may even vacate such satisfaction and enforce judgment for the amount of the lien; The satisfaction of the judgment extinguishes the lien of there has been a waiver, as shown either by the attorneys conduct or by his passive omission. Neither can the petitioner rely on Bacolod Murcia Milling Co., Inc. v. Henares, etc., 107 Phil 560, 567 (1960), where this court declared that satisfaction of the judgment, in general, does not by itself bar or

extinguish the attorneys liens, as the court may even vacate such satisfaction and enforce judgment for the amount of the lien. However, the satisfaction of the judgment extinguishes the lien if there has been a waiver, as shown either by the attorneys conduct or by his passive omission. In the instant case, petitioners act in withdrawing the case against the camineros and agreeing to settle their dispute may be considered a waiver of his right to the lien. No rule will allow a lawyer to collect from his client and then collect anew from the judgment debtor except, perhaps, on a claim for a bigger amount which, as earlier discussed, is baseless.

GR No. 163684 April 16, 2008 FAUSTINA CAMITAN and DAMASO LOPEZ, petitioners, vs. FIDELITY INVESTMENT CORPORATION, respondent.

Same; Attorneys; Any act performed by counsel within the scope of his general and implied authority is, in the eyes of the law, regarded as the act of the client himself. Every counsel has the implied authority to do all acts which are necessary or incidental to the prosecution and management of the suit in behalf of his client. Any act performed by counsel within the scope of his general and implied authority is, in the eyes of the law, regarded as the act of the client himself. Consequently, the mistake or negligence of the clients counsel, which may result in the rendition of an unfavorable judgment, generally binds the client. To rule otherwise would encourage every defeated party, in order to salvage his case, to claim neglect or mistake on the part of his counsel. Then, there would be no end to litigation, as every shortcoming of counsel could be the subject of challenge by his client through another counsel who, if he is also found wanting, would likewise be disowned by the same client through another counsel, and so on, ad infinitum. Same; Same; Rule admits of exceptions, i.e., where the counsels mistake is so great and serious that the client is deprived of his day in court or of his property without due process of law. This rule admits of exceptions, i.e., where the counsels mistake is so great and serious that the client is deprived of his day in court or of his property without due process of law. In these cases, the client is not bound by his counsels mistakes and the case may even be reopened in order to give the client another chance to present his case. In the case at bar, however, these exceptional circumstances do not obtain.

A.C. No. 4829 July 21, 2008 ELAINE V. ARMA, complainant, vs. ATTY. ANITA C. MONTEVILLA, respondent.

Administrative Law; Attorneys; Disbarment; Disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary Sanction and, as such, the power to disbar must always be exercised with great caution, only for the most imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the bar. Disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction and, as such, the power to disbar must always be exercised with great caution, only for the most imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the bar. Same; Same; Same; In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof is upon the complainant and the Court will exercise its disciplinary power only if the former establishes its case by clear, convincing, and satisfactory evidence. As a rule, an attorney enjoys the legal presumption that he is innocent of the charges proffered against him until the contrary is proved, and that as an officer of the court, he has performed his duties in accordance with his oath. In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof is upon the complainant and the Court will exercise its disciplinary power only if the former establishes its case by clear, convincing, and satisfactory evidence. Considering the serious consequence of disbarment, this Court has consistently held that only a clear preponderant evidence would warrant the imposition of such a harsh penalty. It means that the record must disclose as free from doubt a case that compels

the exercise by the court of its disciplinary powers. The dubious character of the act done, as well as the motivation thereof, must be clearly demonstrated. Same; Same; Same; It must be noted, likewise, that this Court affords protection not only to the aggrieved clients but also to members of the bar who are at times maliciously charged. In this case, the complainant failed to discharge this burden. In addition, the complainant failed to refute the fact alleged by the respondent that the complaint is a vindictive charge of a stubborn client against her counsel who refuses to extrajudicially execute a monetary judgment in order not to jeopardize honesty and loyalty to the other clients. It must be noted, likewise, that this Court affords protection not only to the aggrieved clients but also to members of the bar who are at times maliciously charged. Same; Same; Same; Supreme Court has the plenary power to discipline erring lawyers through this kind of proceedings, it does so in the most vigilant manner so as not to frustrate its preservative principle . Disbarment of lawyers is a proceeding that aims to purge the law profession of unworthy members of the bar. It is intended to preserve the nobility and honor of the legal profession. While the Supreme Court has the plenary power to discipline erring lawyers through this kind of proceedings, it does so in the most vigilant manner so as not to frustrate its preservative principle. The Court, in the exercise of its sound judicial discretion, is inclined to impose a less severe punishment if through it the end desired of reforming the errant lawyer is possible.

GR No. 160965 July 21, 2008 PHILIPPINE NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. MARIA NYMPHA MANDAGAN, respondent. Attorneys; Private Practice of Law; Words and Phrases; We held that private practice of law does not refer to an isolated court appearance but contemplates a succession of acts of the same nature habitually or customarily holding ones self to the public as a lawyer. The CA, thus, did not err in citing Office of the Court Administrator v. Atty. Misael M. Ladaga, 350 SCRA 326 (2001), because the June 2, 1998 Memorandum enumerated among the violations committed by respondent the "private practice of law." In the cited case, we held that "private practice of law" does not refer to an isolated court appearance but contemplates a succession of acts of the same nature habitually or customarily holding one's self to the public as a lawyer. Attorneys; The handling by the lawyers in its employ of cases of its employees, whether for a fee or not, and despite the knowledge and approval of management, while not absolutely prohibited is, nonetheless, discouraged, as it could only breed corruption and cause distraction from the very duties that the lawyers were precisely hired for. It should be remembered that petitioner is a government-owned and controlled corporation. The handling by the lawyers in its employ of cases of its employees, whether for a fee or not, and despite the "knowledge and approval" of management, while not absolutely prohibited is, nonetheless, discouraged, as it could only breed corruption and cause distraction from the very duties that the lawyers were precisely hired for. The fact that a number of lawyers in petitioner's employ have handled private cases, obviously with the tolerance of petitioner, does not validate the practice or make it an acceptable rule of conduct. A wrong done by many does not make a right.

March 28, 2007 A.C. No. 4306 March 28, 2007 REMBERTO C. KARA-AN, complainant, vs. ATTY. REYNALDO A. PINEDA, respondent.

Legal Ethics; Attorneys; Disbarment; Disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction, and, as such, the power to disbar must always be exercised with great caution,

only for the most imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the bar. Disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction, and, as such, the power to disbar must always be exercised with great caution, only for the most imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the bar. Accordingly, disbarment should not be decreed where any punishment less severe such as a reprimand, suspension, or fine would accomplish the end desired. As aptly observed by the Investigating Commissioner, the complainant failed to establish by clear and convincing proof that the respondent's failure to appear in the hearing on August 1, 1994 before the RTC was made oppressively or with illmotives as to qualify the same to gross misconduct, willful disobedience or improper conduct tending to obstruct the administration of justice. Moreover, the penalty of disbarment sought by the complainant is unduly harsh, taking into account that this appears to be the respondent's first offense.